197 Tasting Notes

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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Another lovely tea that Plum Deluxe sent me to review! Thank you Plum Deluxe!

This has an ok flavor. I will admit when I first cracked open the pack, I was concerned because it smelled like dirt. It’s unfortunate, but it translates over a bit. There’s a dusty quality to this that isn’t the best. The main flavor is heavy on the floral. I added two splendas to this but it still has the dusty flavor. It’s depressing. I really wanted to love this. It’s decent enough, but I can’t get past the dustiness.

I mean it’s not bad. But it’s not great. It’s drinkable, but considering how wonderful the last one I tried was, I’m disappointed. Oh well.

Thanks again Plum Deluxe!

Flavors: Dust, Floral

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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This was sent to my by the lovely derk!

Ok, so I’m going hard for the music right now and left my kettle (you know, the one without the keep warm function) sit for 15 minutes after boiling. And then, after that, I still didn’t turn down the music and I don’t know how long my beeper was going off before I went to get the tea. So while I aimed for 212F/8min, it’s probably wildly off.

Anyway, this tastes like coffee? I’m so confused. It tastes like a roasted, nutty coffee, and I don’t know how that works? I’ve really been jonesing for coffee lately (I know, revoke my login), and getting the new Keurig machine has led to me buying a bunch of coffee and drinking it. So yeah, this hits the spot. Very VERY much like nutty coffee.

So thanks for the sample derk!

Flavors: Coffee, Nutty, Roasted

Boiling 8 min or more 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
Mastress Alita

I love this stuff because it tastes like coffee, but I can’t drink coffee since the acidity burns a hole in my stomach and kills me IBS-wise. This has that coffee-like flavor but is very mellow/gentle on the tum… and it’s a caffeine-free herbal, so I can enjoy that flavor whenever I want, too. An added bonus! (It is also FANTASTIC cold brewed during the hot summer… just plunk 10g in a liter of water, stick in fridge overnight, remove the teabag the next day, and enjoy~)

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OK, so another one of the discount store ones. This one is actually labeled for somewhere around November of this year, so despite there being “Milk” listed as an ingredient, I think we are good there.

This is… well it’s a spicy chai all right. Much spicier than the Cafe Escapes one, which in comparison is rather one-note cinnamon. This one actually tastes like it has a profile. I’m getting cloves, cardamon, and a bit of other miscellaneous spices. I swear there is a touch of anise in this, but it could be just me. Sadly, the black tea base is mostly missing, but that’s to be expected for these things. It certainly isn’t as sweet as the other one. I don’t know how to describe this. It’s more complex than my other one, but also the flavors don’t pop as much. So it’s complex but subtle. I really don’t know which one I like better. At first, when I sipped this I thought it was gross, but I’m only halfway through the cup and it has already grown on me.

For chai k-cup? This has a surprisingly rich profile. There’s a tingle to it in the mouth, like a good chai should have. Overall, if you have a Keurig and want a quickie Chai latte, go for it. That’s what I bought it for. (A surprising number of my cups are quickie cups). Most people on here though, I don’t think it would suit. It’s good for a K-Cup… which is even less impressive than saying something is good for bagged. In my experience, loose tea is usually better than bagged, and K-Cups are usually lower on the spectrum than bagged. The only thing I’ve had that K-Cups consistently beat is powdered tea, and that should speak volumes. That said, I have a rather unrefined palate, and I can easily stomach things most people on here never could.

So yeah, for a K-Cup? It’s a C
For tea in general? Fail.

Flavors: Cardamom, Clove, Spices, Sweet

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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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