201 Tasting Notes


delurks in the middle of the night so nobody notices

Um, yes, so I’m still here. Sorta. I’ve been… well, since Miss Rona came around, I’ve been drinking next to no actual tea. In fact, zero is a pretty accurate number if you don’t count K-Cup or Starbucks chai lattes. So imagine my surprise when tonight I had a whim of “hey, I want tea!”

So this is one I bought as part of that leap year order and never reviewed. I’m warning now, I just eyeballed the leaf amount as the little tin it came in isn’t conducive to scooping. So we’ll go with 2 teaspoons to 12 oz of water. I’m certain I overleafed it but, eh, what can you do.

Taste plain is…meh. It’s bitter, which is to be expected. It is an adagio black after all. And the addition of the Tiger Eye doesn’t help until sweetened. So, I added two splendas (my usual for tiger eye)

Much better. I’m getting a nice play of the caramel (and a teeeeny touch of cocoa) off of the Ceylon base. The tea smells similar – like someone took a Mars bar and melted it in a mug of black tea. Actually, I doubt that combo would smell this good. Scratch that. But it’s nice. I must admit, I don’t see what the fruit brings to this? I don’t really taste anything fruity here. Maybe the passion fruit as a late late aftertaste. As in, so late it shows up a full minute after having a sip. It’s really weird, but that’s how it is. Because of this, I really think this would have been better without the passion fruit. That pungent leftover flavor is offputting.

Yeah. The pineapple and passionfruit flavors build at the back of your throat after you swallow and they aren’t the best. They certainly don’t go with the caramel creamy smoothness of the tea itself.

Overall, what do I think? Well, it’s ok.I really wish they hadn’t tried to add fruit to this, and especially not tropical fruit. It doesn’t work well. The primary flavors of the tea – the chocolate, Ceylon, caramel, and cream, are a wonderful match, and I bet if it were more noticeable, the strawberry would fit in there as well. But the tropical fruit is harsh and doesn’t blend with the rich dessert flavors. Maybe it’s a statement on how the Brig himself could often be harsh and unforgiving.

But personally? Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart should have something much smoother.

Flavors: Caramel, Cream, Passion Fruit, Pineapple, Tropical

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

I think we’ve all been thrown a little off-kilter right now. Glad you’re still around!

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(Copied and pasted because I realized I was in the wrong place)

Well, this is my second try with this, and while the consistency is better, I can’t say much for the flavor.

The first time I mixed this up, I tried to make a latte. I heated some milk and mixed in one packet. Unfortunately, it clumped and balled like mad and I ended up with a metric ton of green goo at the bottom of my mug, while the “latte” just tasted like milk.

So, today, I got a bottle of ice-cold water and tried to do it just like it said – one packet to one bottle. Then I shook the crap out of it. Well, it blended much better, but the taste isn’t the best. It is pretty bitter and blech, and while I have come to appreciate a strong grassy flavor, I found myself needing to add something to this to make it drinkable. I will say that one Splenda in the bottle made a world of difference as it tempered the bitterness but left the grass flavor. But at this point, I don’t know how much of the blech is my not being a pure matcha fan, how much is I don’t like cold matcha (my previous experiences were with hot matcha lattes) or how much is this brand is just bad. It’s frustrating because I really wanted to like this.

Oh well. More research is needed.

Flavors: Bitter, Grass

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drank Purple Rain by JusTea
201 tasting notes

Well, I’m back. Again. I’d like to thank whomever’s idea it was to give me a boatload of SNAP because it allowed me the chance to indulge in a couple luxuries I could never afford previously.

This was one of those luxuries.

I’ll start by saying this is a beautiful tea. The presentation in the window top tin, with wooden serving spoon on the side is just divine. I love it. So kudos to Justea for that.

I brewed this up western style, 2tsp/190F/4min/12oz

Taste is… MMM that’s fruity. I never thought I’d see the day when someone did hibi right, but here we are. I didn’t add sweetener to this, and it’s tart. But not overpoweringly tart. It’s just the right balance of tart and sweet, without additives. Also, the liquor is a lovely majenta/purple color from the hibi and I love it in my white mug.

This stuff is just so good and balanced. That’s the key word here – balanced. Hibiscus teas are usually wretched because they come out unbearably sour. This, however, is lovely. I’m glad the tin is pretty decently sized because I can see me going back to this one, and who knows how long they will be handing out extra money.

All in all, great tea.
Now, if I can just figure out how to properly make the matcha I bought, I’ll be golden.

Flavors: Apple, Lemon, Sweet, Tart

190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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So I’m back. For today at least. I hadn’t had a proper cuppa in weeks and tonight I was like “You know what. It’s Tea Time Thursday!” So thus, here we are.

Without any sweetener, this tastes like a leafy oolong with a hint of maple. With the additional a single splenda however, it now tastes like a lovely pancake breakfast. However, on top of that maple pancake flavor is a bit of bitey-ness not present in other pancake blends. I like it a lot and I sort of wish I had more of this. It’s different.

Overall, I think this is a tasty maple blend. I wouldn’t necessarily say it tastes like cheesecake, but it isn’t a straight maple flavor either. It’s definitely tasty though. I recommend.

Flavors: Maple Syrup

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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Hey, guess who’s having a cuppa? This girl!

Anyway, this is a sample from the lovely derk, and I had to google the brewing instructions. I was shocked to find it says one tablespoon per 8oz, so that meant the entire sample was going in one cup. Oh well…

I was shocked a second time when I added the brew basket to the water and immediately the water turned brown. I guess there is straight up cocoa powder in this? Weird. Does that make it hot cocoa, instead of tea? Or a hybrid of both? Don’t know.

Anywho, taste is… there. Like, it doesn’t taste like plain water, but, it also doesn’t come anywhere near in the vicinity of “Pop”. I’ll try adding a splenda.

Well, either there wasn’t enough leaf in that sample for the size of mug I own (12 oz) or this is just really poop tea. It tastes like if you put a quarter teaspoon of mint hot cocoa in a gallon jug of hot water, and shook it. There’s next to nothing to it. I’m getting a sharp mouth tingle from the mint, but I can’t really taste the mint itself. I can’t really taste anything, actually. Maybe I’m getting sick? Do I…? I dunno, they say that one of the symptoms is losing your sense of taste and for as strong as the tingle is from this, you’d think I’d be able to taste the mint properly.

I used the entire sample in one go, so I guess we’ll never know.

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec

I haven’t had this for at least 6 months. I’ll have to try it again soon to see if the mint is still detectable. No cocoa powder in this, only cocoa shells.


I hope you weren’t getting sick. I just finished off my supply of this and it’s still very flavorful and minty for me.

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Another sample from the lovely derk!

So, I’ve been having umm, issues with Rooibos lately. Don’t get me wrong, I love rooibos when done right. But I keep having trouble with brewing times. Since this was a sample, and Teavana has gone POOF, I couldn’t exactly look up brewing instructions or times anywhere but here. So I went with about what it listed here: 205F/6min/2tsp/12oz.

The problem is it still isn’t as strong a cuppa as I would like. I certainly get the tropical vibe that it presents. And the rooibos isn’t too woody, which I’m not sure is a plus or minus (for me anyway). Primary flavor notes are pineapple, citrus, and I swear I taste a touch of passion fruit. But it’s hard to pick out individual notes because the flavor is so weak. If it were up to me, I’d have this same cuppa, with the flavor turned up about three or four notches. I wouldn’t want to make it too strong – these kinds of teas can get super artificial fast. But I would love to have a stronger flavor in general.

Overall? It’s decent. Maybe even above average. I still have half a pouch of this from the sample, so I’m pretty sure I can make another brew. When I do, I’m just going to have to remember to steep it a bit longer than 6 minutes. Maybe 8 or 9 would be better. But I would gladly drink this again.


Flavors: Citrus, Passion Fruit, Pineapple, Tropical

205 °F / 96 °C 6 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

This mysteriously showed up in a kitchen drawer. It’s Teavana so probably quite old. I haven’t tried it yet but you make it sound halfway decent. Maybe cold brew the rest of it this summer.


Or, if you want more, lmk.

Mastress Alita

Rooibos doesn’t have those tannins that will make your drink astringent and bitter as all get out like tea leaf, so you really can’t oversteep it. I often use a very generous (read: a bit overfull) teaspoon, put it in a fillable teabag (I like the corn fiber kind with a drawstring seal!), and just leave it in my cup while I sip on it, essentially letting it “steep” until the cup is gone.

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Ok, just a quickie review of this.

This is… not good. Like, really not good. I love rooibos and I love EG, but this tastes nothing like either. For starters, the rooibos base is less of that wood flavor I enjoy and more… um moss? Lichen? Whatever it is it’s not a fresh wood taste, it tastes like wood that’s been allowed to decay for a while. And the Earl Grey is drowned out by the rooibos here. If there’s any bergamot present, I can’t taste it. Basically, to make this drinkable I drowned it in sweetener. Now it just tastes like straight Splenda, so I guess I don’t have to dump it.

Just… bad. Probably the worst EG I’ve tried yet. Sorry, Adagio.

Flavors: Decayed Wood, Dirt, Peat Moss

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
Mastress Alita

I like both bergamot and rooibos and yet every EG Rooibos I’ve tried I’ve hated… the two flavors just don’t work together for me. The only one I kinda liked added lavender, and I think that’s because I like lavender rooibos and it added enough to the profile to help a bit… but I still wouldn’t take that over a lavender (or plain) EG black.

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Another tea from the leap year order.

This one I decided to try straight. I’m not usually one to add much to green teas unless they are heavily flavored. so I wanted this straight. It’s… well I can taste the green tea, that’s for sure. I’m getting the grassy notes that I would expect from a green blend, but the bergamot is pretty subtle if present at all. In this case, though, I feel that may be a good thing. I don’t think a bitey bergamot would mesh well with the grassy green. I could be wrong. I don’t know if I’ve had a green EG before? Not sure. This seems different.

There is a floral note to this but it is pretty weak. Actually, the tea as a whole is mild. It tastes like average green tea. That’s about it. The more I drink it the less I taste any amount of Earl Grey in it. Perhaps I brewed it too weak? I used 1.5tsp/12oz/2min/180F, so I followed the directions. Maybe I will add a bit more leaf to this next time. I’ll hold off on any final judgement until I can fiddle with the brew a bit.

180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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Me: >*Sitting in front of the computer for the third night in a row*<
Me (Thinking): Shanie. Shanie what are you doing
Me (Thinking): Shanie you fool, you have two drawers and three cabinets of tea you could be drinking right now. What are you doing?
Me (Thinking): Dammit Shanie, get off your butt and drink some tea. You haven’t had tea in a week. The internet isn’t going anyway and neither are you. GO. DRINK. TEA.

Me (Out Loud): “Well. When you put it that way…”

And thus, here I am actually having a cup of tea.

This is from the Adagio order I made a month ago, which honestly feels like about three years ago right now. It was the same order as the Brigadoon Breakfast, and I’m only getting to it now, so that should give an indication of my personal level of motivation right now.

Anyway, I latte-d this. I brewed it 3 minutes at 212F, with 1.5 teaspoons for 12 oz water. It’s my usual settings for loose leaf Earl Grey, so no need to switch it up now. I didn’t measure the milk, but there were to Splenda packets added off the bat. I didn’t test it plain, so sorry if you wanted to hear about that.

Anyway, taste is… Well, it’s certainly got that BOOM! of bergamot I love. The floral/citrus of this is right in your face. However, while it’s bordering on harsh, the milk added makes it better.

Oh, I should mention that, in an effort to curb some of my sugar intake, I now use Fairlife 2% Milk. It’s not quite shelf-stable but has a similar flavor and texture. And while it does require continuous refrigeration (like most milk), it lasts 2 weeks once opened and usually about two months if you don’t open it! So while I had initially switched because the Fairlife has much less sugar than most milk I would normally drink, it really comes in handy right now because I can throw a couple of jugs at a time in my fridge and not worry about it spoiling.

ANYWAY, back to the tea.

As I said, the addition of the milk makes it much less harsh then I would imagine otherwise. But there’s a flavor present here. I can’t put my finger on it at all. It’s… well I can’t say if it’s because I added two Splendas, or if it’s a combination of the Splenda and the tea, but I think it’s a cupcake flavor? Maybe carrot cake? Ugh! I wish I was better at determining flavors. It’s something cake though. Again, it could be that I used too much Splenda, or it could be a combo of the total latte. But it isn’t unpleasant. I like it. It’s kind of dessert-like.

What I will say is, in comparison to other EGs on in my cupboard? Nah, there’s really nothing special about this. I’ll give that it’s more balanced than some, but it’s not something that I would consider a necessary variety of EG. I have other Earl Greys that have similar flavor profiles but do their thing better than this. Somehow, I would say the Bigelow Bagged variety is one of them. Side by side, I’d say I like the Bigelow better than this. But this is better than the twinings loose leaf by far. So yeah, maybe someday I’ll make a spectrum scale of all my different EGs and where I would put them. I wouldn’t try and go by numerical ratings as, while I have a scale in my brain, I can never remember what I rate things from week to week so it may turn out that something I rated 75 one week, I actually liked better than something I rated 82 the next.

Anyway, I’m not making a rec or rating on this either way. I’m just gonna say it’s pretty good, but not great. Maybe a tough above average

Let’s say… C+

Flavors: Bergamot, Cake, Citrus, Floral

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

YES YES YES, I am right there with you on the lack of tea-drinking motivation! I don’t know what it is, because all of a sudden I’m home all day and the tea is easily accessible but now I don’t think about drinking it all. My husband comes in the kitchen and says, how about some tea? And I’m thinking, oh yeah we have tea. What is going on?! Reading everyone’s notes here encourages me to have a cup when sometimes I forget or don’t feel like it.

Anyway, if you ever get around to making that EG scale I’ll be super excited to see it!

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Another Sample from derk!

I hope I’m putting this in the right place!
This is a lovely, delicate cuppa. There’s the obvious floral that you would expect, but there’s also notes of stonefruit, grass, hay, a strong natural sweetness, and did I mention stonefruit? This tastes surprisingly like peaches! It’s very lovely. The flavor is mellow enough to be smooth, but strong enough not to taste weak. Put this one on the pile of “May have to acquire for me later!” It’s one of the best jasmine pearls I’ve tried, although that’s not saying much, I don’t have a ton of experience with jasmine pearls!

Very good. Lovely cuppa. Highly recommend.

Flavors: Grass, Hay, Peach, Stonefruit, Sweet

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 12 OZ / 354 ML

Have you had peach jasmine dragon pearls from Teavivre? They are really good! I also adore their Premium Jasmine Dragon Pearls, my fave of all jasmine I have tried.

Shanie O Maniac

I think I had some samples of the peach jasmine dragon pearls. IIRC, I loved it, but it’s all gone now…

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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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