411 Tasting Notes


Sipdown 84/393!

I’m bumping up my rating on this from 56 because I enjoyed it a lot more this time around. I like when teas and I part on good terms.

Sticking with the two-minute steep really is key here. This was a lovely, tropical, jammy cup even before I added any sugar, but even more so afterwards. No milk necessary, which is a good thing with these flavours. The mango seemed most prominent to me this time around, with the pineapple being more of a supporting flavour, but still discernible. The flavours are very natural and, despite the malty base which I suspect is a little too heavy for them, so clear and prominent that it took me aback. I woke up yesterday with a blocked nose and sinuses, a headache and my skin hurt to the touch. I assumed that I was coming down with something and wouldn’t be able to taste much, and was very pleasantly surprised by how much flavour was packed into this. Yummy yummy.

Boiling 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Smoked Maple by Shanti Tea
411 tasting notes

Sipdown 83/393!

This was a sample I got from MissB forever ago, and I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get around to drinking it.

Silly me didn’t read up on this before I brewed it, and just assumed it was a black. I brewed it at boiling, was a bit surprised by the light infusion, then panicked on taking my first sip to find that it was clearly a dark roasted oolong. The panic didn’t last long, though, because even brewed at boiling this tea is incredibly smooth! No astringency whatsoever. The nutty, charcoal oolong flavour is most prominent (possibly because of how I brewed it) with sweet, lighter maple notes behind it which last into a lingering sweet syrupy finish. Now, we all know how much I love Butiki’s Maple Pecan Oolong, and even though this is quite different it’s still the closest I’ve come to finding anything resembling that wonder of a tea. As a result of that comparison, as well as on its own merits of course, it has gone straight back on my wishlist.

Thank you MissB for facilitating this discovery!

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Monk's Blend by English Tea Store
411 tasting notes

Sipdown 82/393

I received this in a swap from KittyLovesTea.

I’ve had this tea several times from different companies, and I’m fairly sure it’s all from the same supplier. I even bought a big bag of it from a local tea shop when I lived back in Huddersfield, but I ended up giving it away to a friend because I just wasn’t a fan. I know a lot of people really like this, including my friend who I gave the bag to, but it just doesn’t play into my personal preferences. The black tea base is astringent enough that I have to add milk, which doesn’t seem to go with the fruitiness, but can’t be helped. Speaking of fruitiness, I wouldn’t be able to pick out pomegranate specifically, and it does have more of a generic fruitiness which reminds me of fruit punch. The vanilla here is the main reason I’m not a fan of this tea, though – it’s a pretty strong note which overpowers the fruit element and turns it into a hard boiled sweets sort of taste, which even for me became too sweet almost immediately. Fans of vanilla would probably really like this, but since I’m decidedly against vanilla in large quantities it just wasn’t for me.

Something else I’ll add: my first cup wasn’t actually too bad, but the more I drank it the more I wanted to never drink it again. Maybe it’s just because I had such a large quantity, but this is a tea I got sick of quickly.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Pour Maman by Nina's Paris
411 tasting notes

How does one purchase Nina’s teas? I was window-shopping on their website as I drank this, and noticed that there doesn’t seem to be an option to buy online. Are they only available in the shop in Paris? This is good for my no-buy but bad for the part of me that wants to place an order. They have so many teas I’d like more of!

This was one I enjoyed, but probably not enough to order more of (if I figured out a way to place an order, that is). It’s an elegant, sort of delicate tea which seems to be the theme with Nina’s as a brand. The blended black and green tea base is really quite nice – it has the maltiness and body from the black, but it’s tempered with more fresh and delicate notes from the green. Though I’m not a big fan of greens in general, strawberry is one of the flavours which I prefer on a green base. I’m not sure why, it just seems to fit. The strawberry note is most noticeable in small little sips, and it’s a natural sort of strawberry flavour. If you take big gulps it tends to get lost in a general red fruits flavour with the base being more noticeable, particularly the malt. I wouldn’t say the cream was identifiable as an individual note, but the cup definitely has a creamy sort of vibe, and it softens and sweetens the strawberry note. The added flavours become less noticeable as the tea cools.

Thank you VariaTEA for the sample!

Sipdown 81/393.

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
yyz You can buy them through amazon at https://www.amazon.com/s?marketplaceID=ATVPDKIKX0DER&me=A1VNRKCWYPFMAN&merchant=A1VNRKCWYPFMAN&redirect=true. I think this is the only US online store front at the moment.

Oops I forgot that you re in the uk. It looks like their eu online shops are under construction. You could try contacting the shop on Paris and see if they would send it to you. Or you could contact the store in Miami ( the link above) and see if they could help you make cheaper arrangements.


Wow, thanks! Fingers crossed by the time I’m off my no-buy their online shops will be sorted (:

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drank Celtic Twist by Pekoe Tea Lounge
411 tasting notes

Sipdown! (80/393)

I have officially been a member of Steepster for three years! Woot woot! Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me…

I wish this tasting note were a more positive one, but it’s the only tea I had all day because of work, so it’ll have to do. Even changing up the steeping parameters I wasn’t a fan of this one. The base is too astringent for me, and I actually got more chocolate notes than anything else. I got a very tiny hint of the whiskey I’d expected in one sip early on, but the base was overwhelming and not too pleasant either, drowning any sort of whiskey flavour that might have been lurking. I drank it black and struggled to finish it.

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

Congratulations, Nattie! Time sure does fly, doesn’t it?


Congrats to ya!

Roswell Strange

Happy Steepster Birthday!


Thanks, guys! :D

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drank Pancake Breakfast by 52teas
411 tasting notes

Sipdown! (79/393)

Has this one been reblended? I hope it gets reblended. Maybe with pecan. 52Teas if you see this a Pecan Pancake tea would be amaaaazing and I would buy a lot of it. Just sayin’.

I liked this one a whole lot, and if Anne’s new 52teas were to reblend it I think it would probably get an even higher rating, because Frank’s black base tea wasn’t one I loved. It’s great as a breakfast tea, it takes milk and sugar really well, and I think it would make a great dessert replacement treat, too. Good stuff.

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Prince Vladimir by Kusmi Tea
411 tasting notes

Sipdown 78/393!

I received this in my secret pumpkin swap with KittyLovesTea.

After several attempts to get excited about this, I’ve reached the end of my sample and must finally admit defeat. I’ve had some lovely teas from Kusmi in the past, but this one just isn’t for me. I mean, there’s nothing actually wrong with it per se, but there’s nothing particularly right about it either. It just sort of… is. The grapefruit is fleetingly discernible but usually hovers around ‘general citrus’, though it is brought out more by a little sugar. I don’t get much in the way of spices from this, it’s really more of a creamy citrus tea to me. The vanilla actually is noticeable, and especially comes out after adding a drop of milk, which pushes the citrus to the background further. This was definitely best with both milk and sugar added, which surprised me as I’m moving away from additives in most other teas at the moment.

I was happy enough to drink this but it really was very average, and I have several other teas in a similar vein (i.e. Blue Sky Blend, Winterspice, Christmas Orange) and I prefer them all to this one.

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Sipdown! 77/393

I don’t know how I feel about this. It reminds me a lot of Adagio/Cara McGee’s Captain Jack blend, which I really like, but I definitely prefer that to this. I don’t know if I’m biased against it because of how much I like the other one, because it’s not really all that different and yet I like Captain Jack a lot more. I’m conflicted. Both are black tea and rooibos blends, and both have almond and chocolate flavours. The only difference I can tell right off is that this one features coconut, and doesn’t have chocolate chips. In the taste, however, this one lacks depth that the Captain Jack tea has, and the flavours taste more artificial. I absolutely adore coconut in tea, and yet I don’t feel like it adds much here. It’s too astringent to drink black, and whilst milk and sugar solves this problem they also weaken the chocolate and almond flavours, which were previously quite prominent. It does bring out the coconut a little more, which is nice, but it’s still just a touch too artificial-tasting for me. Maybe I’ve been spoiled from drinking nothing but Butiki this past month? Artificial flavourings never used to bother me before…

I know all this sounds really negative, but it’s only because I can’t help but compare it to the Adagio tea. If I try not to compare the two, it’s honestly pretty nice. I’ve never had an Almond Joy, because I don’t think they’re sold here in the UK, but they sound pretty delicious and I really like the combination on flavours going on here. It’s creamy and nutty, and without the chocolate flavouring I think I’d like it a lot more. Enjoyable to sip on a quiet night time, but not quite enough to replace dessert for me.

Decent, but not a stand-out. Thank you Janelle for the sample!

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Une Autre Idee? by THE O DOR
411 tasting notes

This is a sample that I took from the EU TTB almost three whole years ago and then stored very poorly, so I really didn’t expect much from it. The scent when I poured the water over was bursting with mouthwatering tropical fruit goodness, which kind of took me aback and kindled some hope, and then when I took my first sip I was blown away with how much flavour this still has, and just how tasty it is. I agree with some reviews that the flavours aren’t really all that distinct, and more a mesh of ‘tropical’, but I can definitely pick out the passionfruit, and something which might be pineapple or might be the guanabana, which if I remember correctly from my Ten blend has a sort of pineapple/strawberry/banana flavour. The rooibos is very much a background note, and the flavours are the real stars of this tea. I added a little under half a sugar, and they pop even more, with a lovely contrast between sweetness and mouthwatering tang. This is one which is definitely better off hot, because my cup is starting to cool now and the flavours are becoming less bold and the rooibos slightly more noticeable. That being said, it’s still a really tasty cup of tea, and if I had tried it while I still had the box, it would most likely have been one I kept!

Sipdown 76/393

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Caramel Apple by Butiki Teas
411 tasting notes

Resteep. I think I should have used cooler water because this cup is a little more on the astringent side than I’d expected. The caramel and apple notes are still there, but it’s lost the delicious nuttiness that I experienced from this last time. Bummer. Note to self: pay more attention to brewing this one.

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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I first got into loose leaf teas when a friend of mine showed me Cara’s Sherlock fandom blends on Adagio a good few years back, but they weren’t on sale in the UK so I started trying other kinds instead and have been hooked for almost three years.

Black teas make up the majority of my collection, but I am expanding my horizons and trying to include a variety of other teas, too. Flavoured blacks are my favourites, but I’m growing increasingly fond of unflavoured teas too. I will update my likes and dislikes as I discover more about my palate, but for now:

Tea-likes: I’m generally easily pleased and will enjoy most flavours, but my absolute favourites are maple, caramel, chestnut, pecan, raspberry, coconut, blueberry, lemon, pumpkin, rose, hazelnut and peach

Tea-dislikes: vanilla (on its own), ginger, coriander, cardamom, liquorice, pineapple and chocolate

I am a 22 year old English Literature sort-of-graduate and temporary bartender. Other than drinking, hoarding and reviewing tea, my hobbies include reading, doing quizzes and puzzles, TV watching (self-diagnosed geek and Netflix addict), football/soccer (I am a lifelong supporter of Sunderland AFC) and listening to classic rock.

I should probably also mention my tea-rating system, which seems to be much harsher than others I’ve seen on here. It’s not always concrete, but I’ll try to define it:

• 50 is the base-line which all teas start at. A normal, nothing-special industrial-type black teabag of regular old fannings would be a 50.

• 0 – 49 is bad, and varying degrees of bad. This is probably the least concrete as I hardly ever find something I don’t like.

• I have never given below a 20, and will not unless that tea is SO bad that I have to wash my mouth out after one sip. Any teas rated as such are unquestionably awful.

• This means most teas I don’t enjoy will be in the 30 – 50 range. This might just mean the tea is not to my own personal taste.

• 51+ are teas I enjoy. A good cup of tea will be in the 50 – 70 range.

• If I rate a tea at 70+, it means I really, really like it. Here’s where the system gets a little more concrete, and I can probably define this part, as it’s rarer for a tea to get there.

• 71- 80: I really enjoyed this tea, enough to tell somebody about, and will probably hang onto it for a little longer than I perhaps should because I don’t want to lose it.

• 81 – 90: I will power through this tea before I even know it’s gone, and will re-order the next time the mood takes me.

• 91 – 100: This is one of the best teas I’ve ever tasted, and I will re-order while I still have a good few cups left, so that I never have to run out. This is the crème de la crème, the Ivy League of teas.

I never rate a tea down, and my ratings are always based on my best experience of a tea if I drink it multiple times. I feel that this is fairest as many factors could affect the experience of one particular cup.

I am always happy to trade and share my teas with others, so feel free to look through my cupboard and message me if you’re interested in doing a swap. I keep it up-to-date, although this doesn’t mean I will definitely have enough to swap, as I also include my small samples.

I also tend to ramble on a bit.


South Shields, UK

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