199 Tasting Notes


Huh. This was the very last holdout of my previous two adagio sample orders. I had been holding back on it because I needed a reason to try it. I didn’t want it to just be an ordinary day tea. I have heard lots of different things about Pu-erh and I wanted to make it memorable.

Well, Fast Forward to today. My grandma is at deaths door. The project it will be a few hours, a day at most. I refuse to go see her in this state as 1. she is completely unresponsive so it’s not like she would know I was there, and 2. I can’t stand to see her like this. I don’t want to be there when the end arrives.
So here I am. Brewing a very special cuppa, in honor of my grandma.

I couldn’t remember the recommended instructions I had read on here for this one. So I winged it a bit. First, a 30 second rinse. Then, a 30 second steep. I gotta say, once I was able to get a proper mouthful of this, it was like a flavor explosion in my mouth. The fishy notes I smelled on the leaf didn’t translate into taste. Instead, I get a bold, rich, earthy flavored tea with faint notes of honey and woodiness. I can definitely taste the tea itself, and it surprisingly isn’t bitter. I really like this. I was so scared I wouldn’t but I actually thoroughly enjoy this tea. I guess to sum it up, this tea is definitely a keeper. It’s literally my first cup of Pu-erh, and if this is any indication, I’m going to enjoy trying others. Can’t wait for that resteep!

Flavors: Earth, Honey, Moss, Wood

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec

Every time I try a pu-erh, there’s always a few moments of hesitation as I fear the worst! Usually turns out okay though. Best wishes to you and your family! <3

Shanie O Maniac

Thanks. Appreciate that. I’m still drinking it right now. I’m on steeping number 3. It keeps on going. The more I drink it the more I like it.


Sorry about your grandmother. I saw my grandmother on a machine at 15 and I made my father take me home. Not how I wanted to remember her.

On another note though, glad the puerh was a good experience for you.

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Another step back into the world of teabags. This tea explodes with color the moment the bag hits the water – there is that much hibiscus in it. The end result after 4 minutes brewing is a deeply purple tea. I would recommend not getting this one on clothes, it may be hard to remove the stain. Anyway, I tried to drink this without sweetener, but the tartness was just too much for me. It was borderline SOUR. So 1.5 splendas later and it is actually quite tasty. You still get that bitey tartness but without the overwhelming sour note. I can definitely taste the hibiscus and the raspberry. The background citrus notes are refreshing and give a fresh feel to the mouth when sipping. I am happy to say I really do NOT taste the licorice at all. If it is there, the sweetener took care of it. All in all, a very tasty fruity tea. Just be sure to add sweetener or you will probably scrunch up your nose at the sourness of it.

Flavors: Berries, Citrus Zest, Hibiscus, Raspberry, Tart

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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Well, it’s Christmas at the parents house, which means I am cut off from my usual stash of brew. Instead, I find myself stuck drinking the only tea they keep in stock – Bigelow Plantation Mint. I brewed it according to their directions. I can’t say exactly what temp the water is because it was a stovetop kettle. I did follow the directions on the package and only steeped for 2 minutes. It was definitely long enough, the flavor is strong. The Mint of it is for sure present, and it sort of makes my mouth tingle drinking it. The mint flavor also lingers so it gives for a surprisingly fresh mouth feel after sipping. The tea itself is sort of an afterfhought here, and I really don’t know if there is any actual tea in this as it is hard to taste through the mint. Now, my mom has sworn by this stuff. According to her, a steaming cup of this with a shot of Paddys works wonders for a cold. I think I will let her have it. Back when I only drank grocery store tea, this was good enough. But now that I’ve been drinking higher quality loose leaf, this stuff is kinda bad. Nowhere near as bad as the cup I had today at the nursing home (That was something labeled as tea but I’m pretty sure was just sawdust they waved past a tea plant). But Plantation Mint gets a bye from me. Once I’m done with what I have I probably won’t buy any more. I can get better quality mint tea elsewhere.

Flavors: Mint

2 min, 0 sec

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Wow! So this is my first taste of decent jasmine tea. Gotta say, I’m surprised. It’s actually quite pleasant. Definitely floral, but not too over the top. It’s not at all bitter, and I was really hoping I could drink this without sweetener, and luckily it is wonderful enough without. Beneath the Jasmine Floral flavor, there is a hint of green tea. But mostly it’s just jasmine. Not too complex I don’t think. If you like drinking flowers then go for it. Otherwise, if you don’t like a really flowery jasmine tea, I would avoid this as the Jasmine seems to drown out all other flavors.

Flavors: Floral, Jasmine, Vegetal

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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So this is one of my first forays into QUALITY TEA! And boy was I shocked. I’m usually one to put a bunch of sweetener in tea, be it honey or splenda (I have to alternate, I’m diabetic.) But to my surprise, this tea is delish without anything. Its warm chocolatey notes shine through and it just has a wonderful finish with no real bitterness or aftertaste. And the smell of the tea alone is heavenly. Would definitely recommend this tea to those looking to try good unflavored tea for the first time. It was my first and I am not disappointing.

Flavors: Chocolate, Honey

Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

That was my experience as well: Golden Monkeys are a great example of why one should not add sugar to their teas.

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So being that this is an herbal tea, I didn’t shy away from adding sweetener. I will say that with the addition of two splendas the taste is kinda like strawberry apple jello water. It’s super sweet. The strawberry is very overpowering, with the apple sort of as a background flavor. Knowing me I may well reorder this one because I love super sweet fruity teas. But for someone who doesn’t want super syrupy sweet, I definitely would not recommend this and if you do try it, don’t add sweetener.

Flavors: Apple, Fruity, Strawberry

Boiling 6 min, 45 sec

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Another foray into the world of unflavored teas. Dancong Aria. No sweetener in this one. I’m definitely getting some strong earthy notes, but also I am getting floral notes as well. The liquor is very pale, kinda reminds me of peach water. I’ve heard people describe a peach aftertaste to this tea, but I really don’t taste it much if at all. If anything the lingering taste is slightly bitter. I may also have slightly oversteeped this because the color and taste when I sampled at 3 minutes was very faint. But steeping it for a full 5 minutes like I said, leaves a slight bitterness to it. I’ve never had Oolong before, so maybe it’s supposed to be that delicate. I’m used to delicate white teas, but this surprised me. The smell in the pouch is MUCH stronger than the flavor brewed I will say that. It is enjoyable, but as I don’t think I brewed it properly I will hold off on a yay or nay recommendation until I can perform further research.

Flavors: Bitter, Earth, Floral

190 °F / 87 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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This is one of the few teas which I loved so much that I went out of my way to get more. Is it rather artificial tasting? Yes. But does that stop me from loving it? NO! It tastes like Caramel Apple candy. Note, I didn’t say it tasted like a caramel apple. It doesn’t. It tastes like artificially flavored caramel apple candy. But it is totally a guilty pleasure tea for me. I am diabetic and cannot have much sugar. So basically, actual apple cider is out. This, when sweetened with a bit of splenda (not stevia. It just does NOT work with Stevia) is close enough to what apple cider basically tastes like to me for it to work as an acceptable substitute. Again, this is a guilty pleasure for me. Is this a good quality apple tea? Heck no. But is it surprisingly tasty enough that I always want it around even out of season? TOTALLY!

Flavors: Apple Candy, Caramel

Boiling 6 min, 0 sec

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So this is basically Chai Tea, without the actual Tea. While my proclivity lately has been more towards loose leaf, I greatly appreciate Bengal Spice for it’s caffeine free nature, and tend to drink it later in the day when I don’t want the caffeine of my usual Masala Chai. It’s really rather good, quite spicy, and I find it drinkable with or without any kind of milk. Without is definitely spicier though. I would recommend this tea to anyone who loves a decent chai, but has tendencies to drink it later in the day when it may interfere with sleep. All in all, not bad for bagged.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Cloves, Spices, Vanilla

Boiling 6 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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