251 Tasting Notes

drank Pumpkin Chai by DAVIDsTEA
251 tasting notes

I know I’ve reviewed this one a million times, but I still love it. I know it isn’t even seasonally appropriate, but I don’t care. Sipping this with a dash of whole milk and it totally takes the chilly edge off this cold and rainy Spring morning. Just the right amount of spice with a hint of creamy squash. I am meh about a lot of flavored black teas these days, but this one continues to do it for me, even with the little candy pumpkins and whatnot. Happy Thursday!

Flavors: Malt, Orange Zest, Pumpkin, Spices, Sweet

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

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Dry: Fluffy golden leaves blended with tightly rolled deep matte black leaves. The smell in the bag is softly vanilla, sweet, and malty.

Steeped: The leaves unfurl in a very pleasing aesthetic way. There is a mixing of the colors and the clear amber liquor bathes them in a golden hue. The smell is vaguely sweet with a hint of cherry and malty vanilla.

Taste: Honestly, the best description I could think of would be a more complex version of Cocoa Amore, which is one of my favorites from WP. I really like the depth of flavor with cherry, cocoa, and vanilla featuring most prominently followed by a hint of wood and morel. I don’t think I would like it at all if there really was a lot of the earth/oak across the palette, but it does a good job of hinting at them. The biggest downside to this tea in my opinion is the pricepoint. At just shy of $22/ounce (excluding shipping), it is one of the most expensive teas I’ve purchased. I am dinging the rating a little bit only because the tasting notes on the website indicated moss, plum, pine, melted chocolate, etc. and I couldn’t detect these. That may not be a bad thing though because pine can be overwhelming as a scent or flavor. Unfortunately, I’ve also found that this one doesn’t hold up to resteeps without going a bit bland and losing all the delicate nuances. I did enjoy the initial vanilla, cocoa, cherries, oak, and morel though and I am glad I was able to finally try this.

Flavors: Cherry, Cocoa, Malt, Mushrooms, Oak wood, Smooth, Vanilla

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
Whispering Pines Tea Company

Just you wait for Ambrosia ;-)


I really need to try something from this company! I see some great reviews but just haven’t gotten around to ordering.

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Thank you to Angel at TeaVivre for this lovely sample!

Dry: This pu-erh cake is tightly woven with some golden leaves and smells sweet and earthy, almost syrupy.

Steeped: My husband wanted to try it and I only have 1 gaiwan, so I brewed it Western method using bottled Spring water. The brewed tea is very dark with a gentle sweet fragrance, though it reminds me of black coffee by the way it looks.

Taste: Full-disclosure: I don’t think I am a pu-erh lady. I’ve had 3 well-liked ones recently and none of them would be something I would reach for over my usual favorites (certain straight blacks, flavored blacks, straight greens). That said, this is a bold and flavorful tea. I get notes of leather, earth, smooth wood, and that background syrup sweetness that I smelled in the dry cake. It almost reminds me of brown sugar.. if it was wet and mixed with woodsy things. I’m giving this a good rating because it is exactly what it is supposed to be except I don’t detect much in the way of nuttiness, but my personal flavor preference is for TeaVivre’s other lovely black and green teas. Hope everyone is having a lovely week!

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Brown Sugar, Earth, Leather, Maple Syrup, Wet Wood, Wood

Boiling 3 min, 15 sec 10 g 17 OZ / 502 ML

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I’m still here! I’ve been having to pull extra shifts due to all the winter weather warnings. I am not kidding when I say that NONE of these winter storms have resulted in anything dramatic here around Atlanta (other than people acting even more idiotic then they usually do. ) Now if we were in Boston or any of those other places that were really slammed, then there would be a good reason to literally empty the grocery shelves and drive like they are escaping the zombie apocalypse.. but it has been mostly a lot of rain. I kid you not.

Anyway, I’ve had a lot of tea that I haven’t been around to post about. I’ll backlog post on sipdowns, but other than that I am moving forward. I am enjoying this cherry-cocoa blend currently. The dry leaf kind of smells like Cocoa Puffs or something.. a fruity-chocolate cereal of some sort. The brewed leaf is naturally sweet, a gentle cherry that doesn’t taste artificial, and of course the cocoa is prominent. I finished my old bag of it, so next time will be the Cyber Monday version, which smells the same from the now unsealed package. I am on my second steep and the tea holds up okay, but it does lose the cherry nuances with future steeps and starts to taste a little watery. Hope everyone is staying warm and dry out there!

Flavors: Cherry, Cocoa, Malt, Sweet

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Another sipdown! I am doing such a good job in reducing the number of teas I have overall. One of my goals for this year is to focus on favorites and try fewer new teas so I don’t end up with 50g+ of random things I don’t even like. This also allows me to order bigger bags or tins of the best teas because there is actually a little teeensy bit of space in the cupboard. Go Nightshifter! :P

I’ve never met a Verdant tea I didn’t like and this one is no exception.. although it is not a favorite. I think it has too little tea to where the vanilla/citrus/spice overwhelms the taste. Not that it has a bad taste- it is actually exactly as described. However, I usually like to still be able to detect a base and while the portion is super generous with whole pieces of a variety of ingredients, the tea is very low on that list. I think I also tend to prefer straight up traditional chai when I want something spicy, so probably not a reorder for me. That doesn’t mean someone else won’t be completely passionate about it though. Happy Saturday!

Flavors: Citrus, Spicy, Vanilla

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec 6 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank SoHo Blend by Harney & Sons
251 tasting notes

Sipdown! I think I’ve reviewed this one 5+ times, but it is cocoa-coconut and it fades some with age. Not really a tea for re-steeping (well) so I tend to make a huge pot for everyone when I brew it. While still a decent dessert blend overall for what it is, I think I need to take a break from this one for a while. Until next time, SoHo!

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Sipdown! This tea is so gentle and fragrant, that I hate to see it go. When I was looking up steeping parameters on the Verdant site, it looks like the name is now just Curiosity Brew in case anyone is looking. FYI- this was made with the more chocolate harvest of Laoshan last year, so I have no idea what this year’s batch tastes like.

Normally, I am very cautious with mint in particular, but somehow this brew manages to avoid being too spearminty or chamomile. It is a perfect blend of all of the components. I have enjoyed it and is exactly as described, especially when I need something geared a little more towards getting over a stuffy nose. My Dad came to visit with a cold and I made a huge pot of this- he is not a tea person, but he really liked it and said it helped clear his head. IF future harvests come out so balanced (which remains to be seen), then it would be a re-order for sure.

Flavors: Chocolate, Flowers, Smooth, Spearmint

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

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I am a huge fan of this tea but I don’t see it getting too much love on Steepster most of the time. I think this is because it was overshadowed by Laoshan Black for years. I could totally see why when LB was super rich with chocolate decadence, but my bag from the most recent harvest is much less cacao and much heavier on grain notes like barley, so a bit less enjoyable to me overall. Note: chocolate junkie here.

That said, THIS tea is kind of the opposite. My bag from 2013 was good, but not as delicious overall as the most recent harvest. I have both still in the cupboard and they smell distinctly different with the newer harvest having a much richer aroma. The leaves even look different- thicker, more tightly curled, darker and shinier than the previous batch. The taste is more bold and flavorful with rich cocoa and roasted sweet potatoes drizzled in honey that reminds me of the old LB with a super smooth texture. The aftertaste is a tiny bit drying and almost.. crisp? Either way, the transition is interesting and the overall experience is quite wonderful. It also holds up to multiple resteeps beautifully. I’m on my second and the leaves haven’t even unfurled yet. If you haven’t given the lovely Yu Lu Yan Cha Black a try and enjoy blacks with a flavor profile like this, I highly recommend it. Happy Saturday all!


Flavors: Chocolate, Drying, Honey, Malt, Smooth, Sweet Potatoes

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

I ordered LB and this in my last order from Verdant (last month, or so) and, I was totally surprised to find that I prefer this one to the LB! It’s more rich and complex, and the leaf gives more satisfying infusions… So surprising! :)


Sounds delicious!!


Excellent review Nightshifter!


Thank you! For this harvest, I totally agree with you Deliriums. If you had asked me 1-2 years ago it would have been a different story when LB was in full chocolate glory. Isn’t it interesting how teas can change so much from one harvest to the next? I can’t help but to wonder if it was prepared exactly the same each time. I would expect some variation, but this much makes me think maybe new technique or equipment?


The change in harvests is absolutely wonderful to me…to taste differences like vintages of wine is so fascinating. It really is a drastic change, though! I would assume it was prepared the same way and the change is all in the leaf itself, but maybe I’m wrong. I wonder! :)


AH, even though I like this one a ton more than Laoshan Black, I’ve had many more cups of Laoshan (maybe because my sample of this one is smaller?) The new harvest sounds amazing!

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Sipdown! This is an old tea, probably one of the oldest I had from my first DT order. It still pretty much tastes the same though, even when I didn’t have quite enough for this morning as I would normally use. Sweet frosting (like the kind from a can, not homemade) is the most dominant aroma and it is an uber-dessert. Probably still the best cupcake tea I’ve had (I think I like it better than David’s Red Velvet), but still has something artificial. I think it would be improved with the addition of real vanilla bean and a straight black with natural cocoa notes, but I’m sure that would be costly and difficult. When I am going for straight up sugary-type teas, I’d reach for S’mores and Pineapple Upside-Down Cake before this one, so not going to be re-order unfortunately. I still don’t really taste anything chocolate and I decided to try to remedy that by adding a bunch of cacao nibs and a dash of milk. Mmmm.

Flavors: Artificial, Frosting, Sugar, Sweet

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

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Thank you to Angel at TeaVivre for the generous sample!

Dry: Longer twisty dark leaves, though much lighter to touch and almost wiry in the bag. They make an elegant sight in the stainless steel infuser and the fragrance is attractive with a hint of cocoa and heady malt.

Steeped: Brewed this Western style in spring water, the tea takes on a mahogany clear liquor. The scent is warming still with a hint of something chocolate, but with added wood and mineral playing around the edges. I did not expect these notes from the dry leaf, so we will see what happens.

Taste: While it is still quite pleasant, I think I was looking for something more striking initially from the steeped aromas. Steeped at 1 min and then at 3 minutes, the taste of the tea is somewhat muted overall. I don’t really detect any cocoa on the palate, but after 3 minutes, there are flavors that remind me distinctly of walking in the woods after it rains. I grew up in the tropics, so the smell may be different for me than for someone that grew up in the North. Do you know what I am taking about? There is a fragrance that develops when the raindrops land on the trees and the earth and this also has a flavor of wood with mineral, malt, and flowers. I had to sit and think about it for a while before I could put my finger on what I was tasting, though the tea is outstandingly smooth. Of the two Nonpareil Yunnan Dian Hong teas I’ve tasted, I find the Ancient Wild Tree Black Tea to be superior in presence so far. That is not to say I am not thoroughly enjoying this cup, but it is less striking on the palate overall. Next time I may try 3-5 minutes for the initial steep and see if I can coax more flavor out of these pretty leaves. I still suspect this tea has more secrets to share.. for those willing to listen. Happy Tuesday Steepster friends! :)

Flavors: Floral, Malt, Mineral, Rainforest, Wood

195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

Temperatures may be contributing to this also- I brewed it at 195F per the bag (closest I could get to 194F), but I just saw on the vendor’s site that they recommend 203F for Western style if that helps.


Where I grew up, the smell could be categorized as “petrichor”… that ‘after the rain’ smell. There’s nothing like it, and I love it, honestly.
This sounds like such an intriguing tea!


Yay- now I have a word for it! Thanks! This tea was certainly different than many other Yunnan blacks I’ve tried. I actually like Ancient Wild Tree Black better (just personal preference though for notes), but this was also quite tasty and very unique. :)


I’ll have to add both to my ‘wish list’. They sound terrific! :))

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I am a registered nurse that worked night shift for years on a catastrophic injury unit. I just started day shift and life is good! Tea is a simple pleasure in a complicated world.


Georgia, USA

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