709 Tasting Notes


Not sure when I bought this one but the beau and I are brewing it up today. At first I thought it was an herbal, but apparently there is a bit of white tea in there somewhere. Tea is the 5th ingredient listed though, so it can’t be much! For Davids to charge $11.75/50 g for a glorified herbal is kind of outrageous, and helps explain why I only bought 10 grams. I like Davids in general but that is just ridiculous.

All 10 of those grams steeped in our pot for about 4 minutes in 90 degree water. The resulting brew is pink from the hibby and rosehips though the aroma is sweet, like the brown sugar crust on an apple crisp. I’m not necessarily picking up rhubarb or strawberry in the aroma, but crumble is there for sure. That’s actually pretty impressive. I’m picking up some serious cinnamon which is worrying but this blend also has rock sugar in it so I am hoping the cinnamon, hibby and sugar balance each other out.

This smells much better than the strawberry rhubarb parfait from Davids that I had over Christmas…The cost is still bothering me, but the smell is divine. First sips are sweetened cinnamon, hint of fruit and then smooth sugar, like I’m eating rock candy. Well, I guess I kind of am. There is a build-uip of sweetness and pastry which I really like but I’m not getting the fruit like I might hope. I love strawberries and always want strawberrty tea to hit me over the head. This doesn’t do that, but it does a very good sweet fruity crumble. I’m not picking up any white tea, but that’s to be expected with the ingredients this has.

In the end I definitely can’t get over the cost (for shame!) but this is really nice. Flavour is a 70 – 75 but cost to flavour is closer to a 30. Glad to have tried it but I definitely won’t be getting more.

As the cup cools the hibby starts taking over so I shall take my leave and finish the rest of the cup. The beau is playing the God of War Ascension demo and I am considering some Just Dance 4 when he is finished. I love the dancy games, but this one is really rocking my socks. I have goals to accomplish, I love that sort of thing!


That’s funny, Trying to clean my cupboard, I am having at this very moment whatever was left of the 15gr pouch I also bought I don’t remember when! Not a fan, definiltly won’t be missed… My other half swears by God of War! Glad you mentioned Just Dance, I’m looking for a dance kind of workout game, and there are so many out there, I didn’t know where to begin, I will check it out :-)


Just Dance 4 is the newest one and if the songs appeal to you, I definitely recommend it. I have it for the Wii and it just uses the WiiMote. There is a workour mode called Just Sweat as well as general dancing mode. Before this I had Just Dance 2 and just Dance Abba but I like the newest one best for recognition of my moves, etc.


Uniquity- Stacy will have a strawberry rhubarb pie tea soooooon lol if you enjoy that flavour combo

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drank Keemun Mao Feng by Harney & Sons
709 tasting notes

Enjoying some of the remains of this sample which was generously supplied by SimplyJenW many moons ago. I remember really liking it and hoarding the remains for some sort of good tea apocalypse. Steeped, the liquor is a light orange, I’m surprised at how light it is, actualy. The aroma is very bold with a strong cocoa note and a sense of bitterness, but that could be the cocoa I’m picking up on.

First sips yield a bold rich cocoa that quickly morphs into a sweet note with a hint of spice in there. Cinnamon is my first thought, as it so frequently is. It’s like I am drinking three distinct things but they are coming through in that order. This is even more remarkable than my memory of it led me to believe. I am getting absolutely no bitterness and not any discernible astringency, just cocoa, something sweet and something cinnamon. Fantastic!

I just looked this up on the Harney site and though it is definitely a delicious tea I was surprised at the price. $20 for 2 oz is about $20 for 50 grams – it is definitely good, but that price is unbelievable. For $10/ounce I would probably rather pick up some Verdant Tea but I am really glad to have this sample still. Thanks again SimplyJen!


Well it does seem a little pricey! There really good Keemuns out here for a lot less, my personal favorites are from Teavivre. I find the quality to be exceptional for the price! Good for you that got to try this one as a sample though :)


I just checked and I really enjoyed the Premium Keemun Hao Ya from them…but for some reason didn’t order more! I’m thinking the beau told me I have enough tea. : )


When I bought mine it was $24 for 4 oz…. I think the new price is a little too high for me. Luckily, I still have some!


@SimplyJen – I thought it used to be much lower. Maybe the new crop is super exceptional! :)


Either it is super exceptional, or growing conditions for that season made it not as plentiful….

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I was digging through some samples at home and brought a number of them in to work to finish up (eventually). This is one I got from Bulk Barn over a year ago but it still smells of juicy black currants despite poor packaging. I’m impressed! I also did a naughty thing yesterday and ordered some Black Currant from Tea Forte with a coworker so I was really jonesing for some currants! I’ve only ever had currant flavoured things and I’ve never seen, smelled or tasted a real currant but this tea when brewed still smells just like those Simpkins Black Durrant Drops that I loooove. I understand currants to be more of a UK thing? They don’t seem very popular here in North America.

Anyway, the tea! As I say, the aroma is like the candies though the taste has muted with the passing of time and bad storage. I’m also picking up a weird note that seems to have seeped through the whole basket from some other tea. That’s disappointing, but to be expected. While I remember this tea as very juicy and flavourful it is now an echo of that. Oh well, my fault. I will enjoy the remainder and eagerly look forward to the Tea Forte Black Currant which I hope will be lovely!

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drank Monk's Blend by City Drug
709 tasting notes

Seems I am re-enjoying a number of teas lately that I haven’t had in +/- a year. I really need to keep busting my stash…I’ve busted enough so far that I want to buy more but it’s totally not practical. Thank heavens winter is upon us. It’s tea drinking season in Canada!!

The beau and I brewed a pot of this tonight to enjoy while unpacking after returning home from 11 days of family and Christmas vacation. While there were some tough moments (our car was wrecked, the beau got walking pneumonia and of course the obligatory awkward family moments) it was an excellent set of visits. I miss my family a lot, and I rarely get to see my Mum and brothers on that side so visiting is huge for me. Of course, this is why we finally got a car and then that got ruined, but if nothing else I will see them all in less than five months for our wedding!

Anyway, the tea. It’s a servicable monk’s blend. There is some bitterness that creeps up on it, so I steep it 2.5 to 3 minutes and it comes out well. There is some sweetness and almost a sense of cream but it doesn’t really come through. The liquor is a bit thinner than the other Monk’s Blend I have but it’s still really nice. The black tea could be a bit more present but since that is the likely source of bitterness I don’t mind it hiding. I’m not really sure what constitutes a Monk’s Blend – this is definitely something to look into. Later. :) For now, it’s back to doing sudoku while the beau plays Silent Hill Downpour. I keep wanting to turn the volume down and he isn’t even at the scary parts yet. I’m a wimp!

EDIT to add: I just re-read my tasting note from last year. It’s weird how I get different impressions at different times. Today I get bitterness and wish for more cream/depth where last time it was the opposite. Still no pomegranate though..


“Still no pomegranate though…”. – at least that’s consistent.

And your fiancé drinks tea? That’s awesome. I wish I could get mine into it!

Sudoko, Silent Hill, and tea… Not a bad start to the new year. :)


i love this!
i admit, i love watching ppl play video games! and i try as much as i can to convince them of this.
i find it relaxing.
(but playing the game myself is MUCH too stressful)


My fiancee definitely drinks tea – thank heavens! We’ve actually been together nearly nine years and share most of the same interests. I also play video games, though usually not the scary ones, heh. I just watch those ones..


I like watching too, especially narrative driven games like Mass Effect, but the downside is I get impatient for my turn because I know I’ll make different decisions. :)

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After a surprising number of cups my twenty gram sample is almost entirely gone and I am left with a slightly higher opinion than when I started. I am not one to add sugar or milk to my tea but 1/8 teaspoon of sugar really knocks out the sense of bitterness and astringency that this cup can develop when you are not looking. The black tea flavour is relatively familiar and puts me in mind of my fathers beloved bagged teas. More muscat would make a huge improvement but this is a cheap(ish) second flush so I guess I might be asking a bit much of this one. When I am drinking it I don’t feel the need to restock but when I am just thinking about it I can’t decide for sure. I think what I really want to do is get 100 grams of Wild Yunnan Black as I was hoping I get some for Christmas but I didn’t. Alas. :)

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drank Apple Cinnamon by Tim Hortons
709 tasting notes

Totally passable bagged tea. Actually for an apple tea it is pretty darn good. I am alway on the lookout for a good apple tea but it is an endless quest. There is a taste of dust from the cinnamon and I get some paper feel from the bag but it is better than many. It puts me in mind if their apple cider but with a but more spice and way less sugar. Still looking forward to going home to my real tea but this stuff will see me through.

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Finally had some of this one over the holidays. I remember it being creamy and vaguely fruity but not identifiably strawberry or rhubarb. For once, the tart was really well balanced and worked well for the rhubarb impression. I’ll do a further note when I have t next. For now it’s generic and drinkable but nothing to write home about. It did ease the pain of having my new (to us) car be totalled when a guy on a cell phone rear ended us with enough force to pancake us into another vehicle. We had it for only three weeks and are still waiting to hear from the adjuster if they will even try repairing it. It’s a 2000 so we’re quite worried they won’t even though it WAS in excellent shape. Mostly we are just grateful to be okay. Happy holidays and best wishes for a better 2013 for all!


Oh dear!


so glad that you’re ok!

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drank Kenyan Tinderet by DAVIDsTEA
709 tasting notes

This is one of the straight blacks from Davids that I was always hesitant about, largely because of the size of the leaf. That and it always smelled a bit more bold than I might prefer. Luckily, a colleague of mine is entering the wonderful world of loose leaf and shared a bit of this with me so I can finally try it out. Thank you!

Steeped it for about 3 minutes (my standard for blacks) and it smells very much like the bagged teas of my youth. My Dad was a Red Rose drinker (with a tonne of milk and sugar) and it reminds me of that. It smells bold but not necessarily astringent. First sips confirm the thoughts I got from the smell. This is bold and strong, a step up from traditional bagged teas but not the sort of loose leaf I would drink a lot of. This is very hearty and would stand up to flavouring, milk and sugar very well but isn’t really for me. I prefer my honeyed Chinese blacks with cocoa and sweetness in every sip. That said, this is a little sweet and not at all bitter but it’s too vigorous for me! : )

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Okay, finally trying my puerh sample from Teavivre. Thank you Angel! I have only encountered puerh a few times before and I didn’t like it – the aroma was always fishy and I couldn’t get over it. I understand that to mean that the puerh was of low quality and lately I’ve been wanting to try some better stuff, so here I am. I also have one from Peony Tea that I hope to try soon. The tuocha (henceforth to be known as the bird’s nest) is adorable and has an aroma that reminds me of hamster cages – not pee or poo but sawdust and maybe the grains that I used to feed Jake. (We had a hamster who died a few years ago, he has a very fond place in my heart. The smell of this actually makes me miss him).

I did a thirty second rinse to awaken the leaves, and hopefully rinse away anything that I might find particularly yucky. :) Surprisingly, the bird’s nest basically crumbled. My gaiwan is full of small pieces of tea leaves, it almost looks like ground coffee. I didn’t really expect that.

First official steep went for 1 minute and yielded a DARK liquor. It truly puts me in mind of coffee, that is not something I’ve had in tea before. I am predominantly a black tea drinker and puerh seemed like the next step for me. My tea pet (a pair of feet) are getting a really good bath today! Anyway, the first steep smells like a barn to me, old wet wood and damp hay/sawdust. It smells like cows and horses coming in from the rain with damp hides – while this description may sound unappealing, there is something comforting about it too. I don’t necessarily want to drink it, but the aroma is very familiar. There is no fish at all, but just damp nature – wood, earth, animals, cloth. Interesting. The taste matches the smell astonishingly closely. Still no fish, but strong earthiness, very natural and organic. Strong without being bitter, and not like any tea I have had before. I like this, but it’s way out of my comfort zone. It doesn’t even taste like tea as I know it. I would like a bit of sweetness here, a honey note to offset the earthiness. I don’t even know if puerh HAS honey notes!

Second steep went for 1.5 minutes, yielding an even darker brew than the first time. it’s almost black! Are we sure this isn’t coffee? The leaves are so small that a bunch escaped the lid of my gaiwan. It may be silly, but I hate leaves in my cup. The aroma this time is very similar than the first. Initially it seemed a bit muted but then I got a strong hit of leather, like I’m in a shop filled with freshly worked boots. While I LOVE the smell of leather (I was a biker baby, I had leather jacket, chaps, all that good stuff) I feel a little weird about drinking it. Bravely, I persevere and am rewarded with a better brew than before. The taste is very similar to the first steep but more palatable. The edga has been taken off the earthiness and I am getting something more like the tea I know and love. There is some sweetness here that I appreciate, though there is also a hint of bitterness. It’s strange that both of those notes can be present where they weren’t before. I’ll finish this one quickly, I fear it may be becoming bitter because of the leaves that slipped into my cup. I almost expect a bit of spice, cinnamon or nutmeg but I get nothing like that. This remains very organic, tasting entirely of the earth. This is definitely better than the first, for me.

Third steep went for 2.5 minutes (whoops!) and yielded a much lighter cup. This time I am enjoying a deep amber. maybe the extra time was a wise accident. The aroma has gone back to hamster cage, wet sawdust and maybe even garden mulch. As I’ve said before, very earthy. The taste is a muted version of the aroma, no bitterness but not any sweetness either. I think I am getting close to the end of my run with this bird’s nest. The beau says this one is by far the best, while I am not sure. The boldness of the second steep was remarkable, but this one comes across as drinkable. I am starting to get a cumulative hint of bitterness which is clouding my judgment of this one.

I’m going for a fourth steep of 3 minutes. I’m too lazy to get up and re-heat the water so it has probably cooled quite a bit at this point, but the extra time seems to balance that out. This liquor is considerably lighter than the others and has very little aroma. There is a whiff of barn animals, but that’s about it. The flavour is similarly weakened. I’ve reached the end, I think. I do prefer my pu a little lighter (for now) so the second and third steeps were the best for me, but they were all enjoyable.

All in all, puerh is definitely not an everyday tea for me, but this bird’s nest has taken away a lot of my fear. There is hope for me in the world of pu! : ) As for the rating, since I have little experience with puerh, I will just go with how drinkable it is for me and perhaps adjust up or down as I try more. Since previous puerh blends were undrinkable for me, this rating is actually really high!


You’ve turned down the right road for sure, but the longish steeps might have been a bit much. I mostly stick to 30 second to 1 minute steeps myself now although after 5 or 6 steeps I’ll let it sit for awhile. The coffee analogy wasn’t lost on me either. I used to be a big coffee drinker. Sometimes I make a pu-erh latte with sweetening (never honey though) and half and half. Usually the pu-erh makes a caramel tasting latte. If you’re game, drink it straight, sweeten then add milk and see how you like it.


I also thought the times seemed long as well, but I was working off of Teavivre’s suggestions and then adding for each infusion. I still have three more nests, perhaps I’ll do the next for 30 second and then add 15 seconds per steep (or so) and see how it goes. I’m just so happy to not have any fishiness! Thanks for the advice Bonnie, it’s much appreciated!


I’ve learned a lot from other people and from playing with the pu-erh without being afraid of it. One collector told me he always steeped 30 seconds and when I tried that, it seemed to work for me most of the time. I watched the video on Verdant too and sometimes, poke my pu-erh with something small like a toothpick if it’s hard to get it started…breaking it up.


I actually expected it to be hard to break up because of things I’ve seen from Verdant, but the little nest just fell apart. Likely because it is smaller, the water got in the cracks more easily. Despite not loving puerh (yet) I frequently want to buy a cake from Verdant. I may have a problem. :)


I greatly enjoyed reading your review of this tea. I have had this one before and understood just what you meant every step of the way. Do you also have the rose toucha? You can’t – or at least I can’t – taste the rose exactly but it takes that sharp edge off the cup. How can something described as hamster cage and damp horse barn keep you wanting to try it again? As you said there is something comforting about it – exactly.

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drank Buttered Popcorn by 52teas
709 tasting notes

Well, I guess the first day of the 2012 12 Teas of Christmas is as good a day as any to finish up the last of my samples from the 2011 batch! I must admit, I would prefer to drink the cotton candy with the rest of you – this one scares the pants off me. Steeped, this smells BITTER. Aggressively so, like all the tannins in the world have joined together in my cup to attack my taste buds and make me frown. I am coaching myself that it is okay to try it..just take a sip..it’s only tea, it can’t hurt you!

Underneath the bitter malty death smell, I get a hint of something sweet and cinnamon-y, almost like snickerdoodles. Weiiiird. First sips are surprising yet again. I’m not getting any bitterness at all, but I still get the sweetness I was briefly smelling earlier. There is a bit of an oil slick on the top of my cup that’s freaking me out and I can feel the bitterness accumulating as the cup cools and as I continue sipping, but there is no popcorn or butter anywhere to be found.

For this one, I’ll definitely chalk it up to being an old sample and leave off the rating. There’s not really any flavour here to rate anyway, other than (not my fave kind of) black tea. I might toss the last bit of my sample and just call it a day on this one. The 12 Teas were a heck of a ride. While 52Teas are rarely my favourite blends, a few of them were absolutely spectacular and made up for the rest. Who knows, maybe next year I’ll join in again? :)

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I’ve been drinking loose tea since 2010 and my tastes have changed a lot over those years. For the last few, I’ve been a fan of unflavoured Chinese blacks and shu puerh. I still drink other things, but that’s where I am.

I live in a rural area with my husband, cat, and soon to be firstborn. I love tea, reading, doctor who, knitting, crosswords, board games, the marvel universe, and lots of other things.

I’m not often rating teas numerically any more but I want to leave this to explain my past ratings:
I try to only log teas once or twice because I drink a lot of the same ones repeatedly. My rating is based on my perception of the tea at first tasting and is adjusted if anything notable occurs in subsequent cups. I may also factor in the price and customer service but try to note that when I can.

81 – 100: These are great teas, I love them, regularly stock them or savour them as unique treats.
71 – 80: These are solid. I drink them, I like them, I may or may not keep them on hand regularly. This is still good stuff.
61 – 70: Just okay. I can drink it, but it doesn’t stand out to me. Might be lower quality, not to my taste, or outside my comfort zone.
41 – 60: Not likely to keep drinking…hoping hubby will enjoy!
0 – 40: No thank you, please. Take it away and don’t make me finish the cup.



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