201 Tasting Notes

drank Earl Grey by Zest Tea
201 tasting notes

drags broken body out of the abyss

So. How about that 2021?

Anyway, to give the most vague of updates, ish happened, ish is still happening, and I am trying to deal with ish. So, naturally, I have been pounding espresso rather than tea to try and deal. But tonight, my silly butt thought consuming half a pack of cookies was smart and now I need tea to counteract the diabetic shakes.

So, here we are. This came from one of the tea boxes that I received AGES ago. Shae sent it so very long ago and I never really got a chance to review any of it. But, in my quest for a super strong black tea, I found this one at the bottom of the box. Lets see how it turns out.

Steeped boiling water 5 minutes.

Taste is… wow for something advertised as “High octane” that’s surprisingly un-bitter. Not completely un-bitter of course, plus the bitterness really lingers in the after sip. But it has a pretty decent flavor to it. I can taste the bergamot and the tea, although the flavors are rather muted. Probably due to how long it’s sat in the box in my drawer. But I can definitely say it’s pleasent to drink. A nice balance to it and a lovely earl grey flavor that has me constantly reaching back for another sip.

Also, as it’s cooling, I’m noticing more citrusy notes. Yep, for sure. That citrus is really coming through now. That’s pretty cool. I should probably mention I’m drinking this straight as, in my experience, the whole “anti-sugar shock” effect of black tea only works when you don’t add anything to it. You can’t even add splenda or any sugar substitute. You just make the tea and down it straight. Thankfully I have a huge selection of black tea for the frequent nights that I muk up my blood sugar (because, despite being a diabetic, I have the worlds biggest sweet tooth.)

Anyway, I can’t tell how potent the caffeine this is yet, other than knowing I don’t feel as groggy and awful as I did twenty minutes ago. How much of that is the black tea effect and how much is the caffeine, I have no idea. But just know that this tea is pretty dang good and now I’m going to have to try and find more.

Flavors: Bergamot, Citrus, Earl Grey

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Roswell Strange

Hello from the abyss!


Welcome back! Climb on out and stay a while!

Martin Bednář

It seems this year was hard for everyone. I am much less active here too, so don’t worry about a few days without writing anything. Honestly, only full month of notes is so far only December… because Advent teas :D

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Hey, so… hi.

Sorry the return has been less than stellar. I’ve been extremely sick lately, for about a month at this point. I started drinking tea again, then everything went to pot and I’ve been in and out of the hospital due to stomach issues.

But today, I decided I was done. if everything I eat or drink makes me sick, I might as well enjoy what I put in me. I’m sure as heck not going to enjoy it coming out.

So! Time for a new tea. Today is TARDIS tea, something I bought ages ago and never reviewed. I didn’t bother to look this up before brewing a pot, but it smells something like an earl grey? Whatever, let’s brew up a batch.

Full Brevelle Pot, 3tsp/212F/4 Min.

First cup I’m drinking iced.

Taste is… Yep, that’s definitely an earl grey variety! I can taste the bergamot! But there’s more to it than that. A vanilla, maybe? Hmm… my fractured palate is having trouble here. Maybe a touch of splenda…

Ahh, that’s delicious. Definitely an earl grey creme with a side of berry. Tastes like blueberry? It’s heavenly, whatever it is. There’s a good deal of natural sweetness to this one but I usually prefer my blends with a single splenda to them so I’ve added it here. That said, I don’t have an icemaker so I only had a tray to put in this. It wasn’t enough to fully ice the tea and it’s more chilled than iced. I think this would make a good enough iced tea if you added a bit of sugar to it.

Time to try it hot…

Odd. It isn’t nearly as sweet when hot, even with the added splenda. Actually a little bit bitter even. The flavors aren’t nearly as pronounced or strong when hot, which is a disappointment. It gets better with a second splenda, but then it’s too sweet. There’s got to be a happy medium here, but I’m not finding it. I think I like this one better iced. It’s tasty iced. When hot, it just tastes like a mediocre earl grey.

Final thoughts? I never thought I’d say this but, again, this one is much better on ice. When you ice it down, the flavors pop much better, to the point where even I didn’t need splenda to drink it. (I added it anyway, but not until I had already drank half the cup.) It’s not as tasty hot, but as with the iced cup, as it cools down, the flavors come out more.

All in all, it’s a decent enough tea. I don’t know if I’d get it again but I like the mix of blueberry, bergamot, and vanilla enough that I’d love to try other teas like this in the future.

Flavors: Bergamot, Blueberry, Vanilla

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

I am sorry you have been sick! I hope you find answers to what is wrong soon and start feeling better than ever!

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Well, back again.

For the record, it isn’t that I haven’t been drinking tea. It’s that I haven’t been drinking any new tea, instead choosing to lean back on old favorites.

But I’m trying something new. Adagio sent me this as a free sample (since I hadn’t ordered in awhile) so here goes.

Smell in pouch is STRONGLY of fake peach. Troublesome, but I have never been one to shy away from a strong peach.

Now, the pouch says to brew at 212. I’m not going to argue with that, but normally oolongs are lower. However, this is Adagio, so the quality of the oolong is probably questionable at best. I doubt it is high grade or delicate.

So, Brewed 3 minutes at 212. Pouch is single serve so I don’t know how much exactly is in it.

Taste is… oof that’s bitter. Trying it first without sweetener, the tea is very tannic and bitter. I can barely taste the peach, it’s more of an “essence of peach” thing. Strange considering how strong is smelled but, no, the peach is not overpowering. Unfortunate because, as I said, I like a strong peach. We’re gonna try this one with a single splenda.

Ah, there’s the fake peach. Funny how just a touch of sweetener brings it out. It isn’t awful, mind you. But you can tell it is very low quality. I think I’ve been spoiled with the W2T I’ve been drinking. That said, it isn’t the worst thing ever. It has a flavor and you can taste the tea in it, which is more than I can say for some other Adagio blends that I’ve had. This blend does have the dried apple pieces in it that all adagio fruit blends seem to have, so there is a (rather heavy) note of apple in it, but the primary flavor is artificial peach.

Final note: As it is cooling, I have lost the flavor of the tea. Now it’s just the peach and apple. Very disappointing.

In conclusion, not the worst thing ever, but not good either.

Flavors: Apple, Artificial, Peach

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

Which tea has spoiled you? I haven’t made an order there yet, but I have a few on my list to try.

Shanie O Maniac

Censers is always one of my go-tos from there. Very good, if you’re the white tea type. Hot Brandy is another of my favorites. That one, I’ve found, works great if you need a midday pick me up.

I also have the waffles but that’s not the best tea, more of a guilty pleasure of mine. I still have the Moon Waffles and Brown Sugar to try from that order. White 2 Tea, while it can be pricy, has some great stuff and, I’ve found, with the 25 gram samples, you can figure out what you like over several sessions before committing to a full order.

(Of course, I can only afford the 25 gram samples of some of these!)

Shanie O Maniac

It should be noted that there are far better teas than those at W2T, but again, I am very poor, so I can’t afford the true high-end stuff.


I’ve had Waffles on my list to try for a while. It looks like Brown Sugar is another I’d really like. I do appreciate that they offer the smaller sample sizes or else I’d be too afraid to order.

If Waffles is your guilty pleasure, I say who cares if it’s the “best tea” or not! white2tea seems pretty nice to me, but I’m no pro.

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So, had a cup of this tonight. However, due to my horribly burning my mouth on a chimichanga last night, I can’t do a detailed review. My mouth is all messed up.

What I will say is that this is very creamy custard tasting. It isn’t overly woody like many Rooibos that I’ve had and I can definitely taste the butterscotch, even without sweetener. In fact, this was so tasty that I didn’t add my usual splenda! I guess you could say they aimed for butterscotch custard and got butterscotch custard! Great job.

I hope I can have more of this when my mouth heals.

EDIT: I wanted to note that, by the time this was at a temperature my injured mouth could handle, it was only lukewarm. I really screwed up my mouth. So yeah, the temperature probably affected the flavor.

Flavors: Butterscotch, Cream

195 °F / 90 °C 8 min or more 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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Ok, so I’ve reviewed this one before, but I just want to say that I’ve had this particular pack for over a year now and it’s still just as good as day one. Rich, buttery and creamy, it’s like drinking a buttered biscuit that has a hint of green in it. Just the slightest touch of seaweed, in the best way possible. I loved this then and I love it now. Awesome stuff.

Which brings me to a question…

How the heck do you resteep this stuff without reboiling the water??

Look, I have a confession to make. Before I went on hiatus, I resteep stuff all the dang time. But that’s because I was using ice to cool down the tea as I made it. Just a small cube per cup, but it allowed me to actually drink it without waiting for 20 minutes to cool the mug. (My mouth is very sensitive to heat.)

Now I’m trying to get away from that but every time I make tea, I can never resteep anything because by the time my mug cools, so has the water in my kettle and I know better than to re-boil water. I don’t have a filtered tap anymore so I can’t just keep making fresh water (my supply of filtered water is limited to about one jug at a time). How do you do this?

Anyone that can help me out please let me know. I don’t know if it’s just that I need to suck it up and get that new kettle I’ve been putting off or not. TIA to anyone who helps.

Oh, and again, get this tea. It’s so delish.

Flavors: Bread, Butter, Seaweed

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
Martin Bednář

Have you trying a thermos? It cools down too, but in much slower speed. I am using quite cheap and not much insulating one, but enough to keep it hot enough.

Mastress Alita

Huh, I never boil a full kettle, I only boil the amount of water I need for the cup I’ll be drinking. If I’m just having a 12oz mug, I measure out 350ml of water and only boil that. If I finish that cup and want a second, then I measure out another 350ml and do a new boil.


For what it is worth, I saw a “science” article that said once the water comes to a boil it has lost all the oxygen it is going to lose so it shouldn’t matter if you reboil the same water. My kettle has a hold temp feature but I usually just put as much water as I need so it will heat faster.

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This is a repeat review, but I wanted to do something here while I’m waiting for my new W2T order to show up. If I get in the habit of doing this, then maybe I’ll do it more often when the new stuff comes.

I got this as a free sample from Plum Deluxe awhile back and I reviewed it then. It’s about a year old by now, so we’ll see how it held out.

Strong floral scent for the leaf, although there’s still that odd dirt note to it that I mentioned last time. Actually, it isn’t dirt. It doesn’t smell like filth. It smells a bit like potting soil, actually. Still odd though.

Taste is… surprisingly mild. I didn’t re-read my full note from last time so I don’t remember if I liked it or not but from the tiny sip I just had, it’s pretty good. It doesn’t taste as floral as it smells, so that’s probably a plus. Although the floral is there, you can definitely taste the Bergamot. That’s a good thing for me, I love bergamot. Probably why I love Earl Grey so much. I almost don’t want to put sweetener in this. It’s not a complex cuppa – you get black tea, you get bergamot, there’s some tannic flavor and just a hint of sweetness – but it’s really good. Although, I’ve been away from tea for so long my palate could be off.

Ooh, it’s starting to cool off and it’s getting better! I’m getting citrus now, so that’s awesome. There’s something else there too… ugh, I’ve been gone for too long. Need to recalibrate my taste buds.

Anyway, just take it that this is a reasonably tasty tea. It’s never going to win any awards, and it’s not a spiritual experience or anything, but for a good morning cuppa, this is pretty good. I can see drinking this over a plate of eggs and bacon with a side of buttered toast.

Not bad.
Not bad at all.

Flavors: Bergamot, Citrus, Floral, Tannic

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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So… uh… hi

Not gonna try and apologize for my absence other than to say the pandemic has just about killed me. Not in a COVID-way mind you, but my mental health has been so dang bad that it takes all my energy to make a K-Cup let alone have actual tea.

BUT! Today I decided to say “To heck with it” and gong fu. First time since 2019. And the tea I picked was from that lovely care package that’s been sitting in my drawer for a year now. I wanted to have something “Real” and when I dug through it, I found THIS!

First impression – Good golly this is drying. No really, it’s licking sawdust levels of dry, especially early in the session. As the session continues, the dryness eases up, but those first 6 or so pours, JEEBUS.

Second, with this called “Lumber Slut” I honestly expected it to be like eating a toothpick. However, I am happy to share it’s nothing like that. Oh, it’s woody, for certain. But the flavor is very complex. The first thing I thought was it tastes like copal incense smells, if that makes sense. It’s got a rich sweetness to it without being sugary. Then, as I explored, I noticed notes of leather and maple syrup (that got stronger as I progressed) with a strong tone of earthy and damp wood. Yes, there is wood here, not going to lie. There’s a LOT of wood in this. But like I said, it’s not “Chewing a toothpick” type of wood. The wood is tempered with a broad palate of other flavors that makes this absolutely delicious.

I will warn you, the hotter this is, the better. If you let it start to cool down it does taste like toothpicks. So I recommend having a relatively quick session. At least that’s what I found. I don’t have a proper kettle (just a glass Tea-Maker) and the water cools off fast. Also, from what I experienced, this isn’t the longest lasting tea you’ll find. About 16 or so pours and it was getting pretty weak, even with extended time.

But, for what I got from it, this was so dang good. For anyone out there who still has this particular version, I am extremely envious. I wish I could get more of this it was just so wonderful. So complex and rich.

Great stuff.

Flavors: Leather, Maple Syrup, Oak, Sweet, Wet Wood, Wood

Martin Bednář

Welcome back!


Interesting tea name and ‘chewing on a toothpick’ made me lol. Good for sticking with it, I’d probably give up after 6 steeps of dry mouth. The good thing about steepster is you can catch up if you want, or just pick up like you never left.

Mastress Alita

I rarely can continue with a gongfu session past six steeps regardless! I usually just get tired of drinking that same tea and am ready to move on by that point, and that is usually about the amount I get through on one boiled kettle’s worth without having to boil more water (lazy).

Martin Bednář

Hah, same here Mastress Alita: I do one thermos of tea and rarely brew another kettle of water. Lazy as well…


Shanie O – So glad you were able to enjoy it despite the tea being drying. I do have more if you’re interested.

Shanie O Maniac

Martin – Thanks for the WB. Hope to stick around this time. It looks like the offputting issues with the site are fixed now, so I should be good.

Derk – Oh, geez, I should be good for the moment. I just made a W2T order for some of the 2020. I’ll give an update when it gets here. Hope it’s at least comperable.

Mastress – I feel you. I’m never one for long gongfu sessions but after a rough day I needed to force myself to sit down and breathe, so having a nice long session was perfect for the occasion. And for the record, I had only boiled a third of a pot because my kettle is, again, glass and it cools really fast. If I’m going to be having a session, I only make part of a pot and then make more so that I’m not wasting water. And guess what? I did make more!

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tap tap
1-2… is this on?

Ok, so it looks like Steepster is working again. I left (again) because I was so dang frustrated that it wasn’t working. But it seems to be functioning again, so I’m here for the moment.

Now, I already reviewed this tea once (Thanks Shae) but I’m doing do again because I learned a valuable lesson for this tea.

Don’t add sweetener.

I was thinking that “oh, I love this tea, but what about a touch of sweetness?” Nope, doesn’t work. All it does is kill all the nuance and subtlety of the flavor and make it taste like a store bought earl grey. And if I wanted store bought earl grey I wouldn’t have reached for Bergamot White Peony. I mean, it isn’t gross, mind you, but it isn’t good either. Sweetener doesn’t make everything better, although I will admit that, as I get down further into the cup, the flavor is improving.

I’m gonna go have a resteep and hope it’s better.

Song of the Moment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfv7_iRHXv8

170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Cameron B.

Steepster is a bit on-again off-again at the moment. It’s fairly common to not be able to load tea pages for a few hours at a time unfortunately…

I’ve stopped trying to add sweetener to teas, because every time I think “oh maybe just a little bit of sugar would make this pop”, it makes it taste worse, haha! It was something I rarely did anyway, but not it’s not even an option for me.

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Ok, here’s hoping this works. I’ve taken to putting my tea reviews in word docs until I can post them. I’m hoping for the best with this steepster migration, but we’ll see.

Anyway, this is another one of the teas I got in Shae’s lovely care package. I will admit, I wasn’t sure if this was herbal or black when I made it, but they both require boiling water and I averaged the time at 4 minutes.

This tea is scrumptious. I’m gonna be honest, I can’t describe the flavor compared to any other real world food. But you very clearly get the spice, the citrus, and the berry here. And, surprise surprise, I’m not using sweetener in this! I usually add at least one splenda to any 52teas blend, but here, I took a sip without and it’s too delicious to add anything. The berry flavor gives just enough sweetness on it’s own to be yummy, while the warmth of the spice (which is offering a little bit of that mouth tingle I love so much) and the citrus on top just make for a wonderfully layered cuppa. Like I said, I can’t think of any actual foods that this resembles, flavor wise, but as it is, it’s delish and I can’t wait to have more.

Martin Bednář

Blackberry with citrus sounds wonderful. Into wishlist it goes

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Well, I got more of this and I’m sitting here having another mug of this. It’s as good as I remember.

The richness of the cream flavor with the floral of the bergamot, all blended together with just the right amount of black tea. This is still the best bagged Earl Grey I’ve found. Just so so good and with a touch of splenda it’s the perfect nighttime quick cuppa.

Flavors: Cream, Floral

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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HELLO! My name is Shanie and I love tea!

While I have always loved various types of tea, for a very long time it came exclusively from a grocery store. It’s only been a year or so now that I’ve gotten into loose leaf. As such, there will likely be tasting notes I do for bagged tea as well as good quality (and not so good quality) loose leaf teas. I’m still learning as I go so have patience please!

Right now, I am on a massive Earl Grey kick. So if a ton of my notes are just various varieties of EG, that’s why!

Some of my favorite flavors include: Cocoa, Malt, Bread, Honey, Earthy, Sweet Citrus, Caramel, Apple, Spices, and Cinnamon.

Some flavors I don’t like: Licorice, Coconut, Bitey Citrus (like Citric Acid), Licorice, Sour, Smoke, Overpowering Fake Vanilla, Stevia, and did I mention Licorice?

NOTE: I am Type 2 Diabetic. As such, I can really not have sugar added to tea without suffering problems. This prohibits me from using either plain sugar or honey. Instead, I use Splenda as I found my system can handle it well and I like the flavor. I try to avoid stevia as I’ve found it often ruins the flavor of tea. However, not all teas require sweetener, and some are better without. Because of this, if I add sweetener to a tea, I will mention it in the tasting note and say what kind and how much. Usually, I sweeten flavored and herbal teas but leave true teas unsweetened. There are exceptions, but this is a general rule of thumb to go by.

Almost all of the tea I brew is western style. I occasionally do grandpa, but pretty much never Gong-fu. I do own a Gaiwan, but it never gets used. Considering I don’t have a “sip setting” when it comes to beverages, it’s really hard for me to get into any sized amount less than 8oz at a time. I know that probably makes me a tea-heathen, but so be it. I like my mugs.

I have decided to try and make a scale for my ratings. So here goes.

As of January 2020.

100-91: These are my go-to favorites. I will likely go out of my way to always keep these on hand, including going on third party websites to obtain out of season.
90-81: This is a tea I really did enjoy, and I will likely purchase again. However, I wouldn’t go to the ends of the earth for it, and it isn’t my all-time favorite.
80-71 This is a tea that, while I may have somewhat enjoyed, something is holding me back from making it a mainstay. Maybe the flavor profile isn’t the best. Maybe there is an offputting aftertaste. It varies. But while I did like it and will continue to drink it, I don’t absolutely need it in my life, and while I will likely finish what I have, I may or may not get more.
70-61: This is a tea which I drank, but I didn’t like it. However, I didn’t hate it either. It wasn’t bad enough to dump, and if it is the only thing available to drink, I would likely drink it instead of plain water. But in the end, this is just not my literal cup of tea and I will likely not get this again.
60-51: This is something that I didn’t like much at all, but for one reason or another, refused to dump. If I squint hard enough and use my imagination, I can almost BS myself into thinking they are decent, and I suppose I can choke it down and not waste it. These are teas that I will not be buying again, and may not even finish what I have.
50-41: Yeah, whatever this is, I there’s a good chance I dumped it. At this level, it’s pretty bad stuff with either weak flavor, nasty flavor, or all the wrong flavors, It has few redeeming qualities, and I likely won’t reach for this one again. On the bright side, it isn’t sewage water, so there’s that.
40-31. On it’s best day this tea has no redeeming qualities. This not only got dumped but the package it came in either got thrown away, traded, or shoved to the back of the cupboard to never be touched again. Not the worst thing I’ve ever tasted, but darn sure close.
30-Under: The worst thing I’ve ever tasted. This not only has no redeeming qualities, but it is gag-inducing. “Teas” in this range are so bad I not only will never drink them again, I really don’t feel like offloading them onto anyone else because they are just that bad. Actual sewage water.


Pennsylvania, US

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