1183 Tasting Notes

drank Chocolate Mint by Harney & Sons
1183 tasting notes

I’m obviously in something of a minority here, as this tea was pretty much exactly what I expected it to be and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Let me say first, though, that I put about 1.5 tsp in for about 8 oz of water. I didn’t find it to be weak, the chocolate and the mint were both present and accounted for and not overly subtle in my experience. I didn’t get a lot of the tea, but frankly, that’s become a secondary consideration for me with flavored teas — if I wanted a strong tea taste I’d drink it unflavored, or I’d drink something I knew to have a strong tea base presence. It doesn’t bother me that much anymore, as I have added more and more members to my pantheon of great teas, that some flavored ones are more about the flavor than the tea. Next time I might go to two tsp and see what happens. Maybe that would bring the tea out a bit more.

To me, the mint was very fresh tasting. It didn’t have a candy aspect to it, but it naturally sweetened up the tea and the chocolate so that the tea didn’t whisper to me that it wanted to be sweetened or to have milk added. This in contrast to the Herbal Infusions Chocolate Mint, which seemed to want sweetening.

The aroma of the steeped tea is heavier on the mint than the chocolate for some reason, but it’s still a nice smell. Sniffed in the sample packet, the mint is eyewateringly strong, which seems to me a good confirmation that it is v. fresh and its volatile oils haven’t dried up. It’s got that pretty black/green mix thing going on in the dry leaves. I’m biased though because black and emerald green is my favorite color combo.

This is going on the list for if/when I ever come out of lockdown and place a full order with H&S.

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Interesting, I had a chocolate tea today as well.
It was called Super Chocolate ( david’s tea )
I left a note about it, I found it a little bitter on the chocolate and not sweet enough. Also it was mixed with rooibos and Cinnemon which was okay but I would have liked it better with mint. Judging by what you said about the color, I’m assuming it was black tea and mint but thats a guess.
It sounds pretty solid nonetheless.
May I add that your an excellent writer and I enjoyed this review.


Thanks JonTea! Glad you enjoyed the note. Yes, this is a black tea with chocolate and mint. The black tea base isn’t a big part of the experience of this one though, and the mint is a little stronger than the chocolate, which I think is why some people here were disappointed in it.


I think I might like this tea as I am a fan of morrocan mint tea, which is basically a green tea leaf and a mint tea leaf. Very simple but a classic.
Replacing the green tea with black tea and adding chocolate sounds very good. Did you have it as a desert tea or breakfast tea? I could see it doing both, wierdly…


Neither, I had it at around 5 p.m. A little later than I would ordinarily drink black tea, but I was on a roll with the H&S samples and decided to press on with this one. I think it would make a better dessert, though. :-)


OOH they would send out samples?


Yes, you have to buy the samples, but they’re only $2 (at least that’s true for most of them) and enough for a few cups worth so you can check them out.


Sounds great!
Thanks a lot.

Tea for Me Please - Nicole Martin

That does sound yummy :)

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drank Florence by Harney & Sons
1183 tasting notes

I have been wanting to try this for freakin’ ever and I decided today is The Day.

I expected to smell Frangelico when I opened the sample packet. OMG. It’s not a syrupy “essence o’ nuts” I’m smelling, it’s the nuts themselves. Down to their planty innards! I can almost feel their little round bodies cracking between my teeth. And the slightly bitter smell of baking chocolate. I can see why people are invoking Ferraro Roche (drool), but the thing that makes this different is it isn’t sugary like those little balls of trouble are.

And this is just the smell of the dry leaves, which, by the way, are dark dark dark and look almost soft and beautiful. I’m coming to recognize this as the signature of an awesome flavored black tea.

The liquor brews lighter than I’d expected for some reason. It is, interestingly, a sort of hazel nut color. The “true nut” aroma of the hazel nut seems to have mellowed some with steeping, and blended into the chocolate. Mmmmm.

And the taste is a lot like the smell. It’s quite wonderful plain, but the lack of sweetness in the chocolate seems to beg for milk and something to sweeten it. I was happy to accomodate it. With just a small amount of sweetening, the flavor becomes downright lush. The chocolate moves from the unsweetened taste of baking chocolate to the bittersweet of dark chocolate. With more milk, it would probably move further, all the way to milk chocolate. Three, three, three drinks in one! The hazelnut is an accent; a strong, Italian one, that provides a middle note during the sipping and a reminder on the back end.

I was only in Florence for a few days many years ago, but I loved it. It was unseasonably cool when I was there in the summertime, a welcome contrast to the heat of Rome. My memories are, primarily, of clear blue skies and flowers in window boxes everywhere I turned. I remember going for a run along the Arno, the Uffizi (of course), and the adorable little bed and breakfast we stayed in with its old fashioned cage of a lift and its roof garden where we ate in the morning. I still have the pocketbooks and coat I bought while I was there. Mostly I remember being young and in love, the future stretching ahead like the clean pages of a new journal, waiting to be written.

I’m not sure how much it is the name of this tea that makes me want to buy a pound of it immediately, and how much is how it actually tastes.

Ah youth.

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Lovely memory! I know that feeling well.


Absolutely lovely note! Thank you for sharing your memories :)


Oh wow, I can’t wait until my shipment comes in! This sounds great! And what a lovely note to go with it!


I’ve been craving this one lately. I agree, it is heavenly with milk and sugar and I almost never use milk and usually only a little sugar with other teas, but this one….ah, this one becomes a decadent treat and you could swear you were drinking a hot chocolate when you sip!

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I can’t believe I even ordered this, since the thought of bread pudding makes me make a yucky face. I don’t like puddings in general on consistency grounds, but the idea of bread pudding is just gross to me. Of all the things one would make a pudding out of, why bread? When I was in college I lived in a co-op and one night a week I was the main dinner cook for something like 140 people. Bread pudding was pretty regularly something the menu planner had decided I should make and during the whole process of preparing the bread I kept asking myself why?

So it was only for the sake of completeness that I ordered a sample of this. And I say for the second time today, it works surprisingly well. Who would have thunk it? Probably the main reason it works, for me anyway, is it doesn’t really taste like bread pudding. It tastes like the ingredient profile that goes into bread pudding, but without the main objectionable ingredient: bread.

In the packet, the blend smells mostly of raisins and rum. Steeping makes the custard come out to join the other two flavors in the aroma and I’m glad that I can also smell a sort of full bodied sweetness that is the black tea. Liquor color is black tea against my white cup; looks a lot like the Coco La Ven sample’s liquor.

It’s nice. It’s not as interesting as the Coco La Ven, but it is well blended and flavorful. There are no sore thumbs sticking out here, none of the bitter rum flavor that plagued some of the Necessiteas greens that contained rum flavoring. It’s a raisin, cream and rum flavor with a solid base that supports it well.

As I close in on the last of my Necessiteas samples, I’m drawing the following conclusion: they’re best at rooibos, followed by black tea, followed by white tea, followed by oolong, followed by green tea. There are clunkers in each of the categories except rooibos, but for the most part, their black tea blends are worth trying.

ETA: I am at the end after all. I do have a weird mystery tea sample in my possession, but I can’t identify it. It came without a label, and it appears to be black tea. It isn’t Cafe Latte, because I ordered that and they refunded my money because they said they didn’t have any. All of my other ordered samples have been accounted for. At first I thought it might be Cinnamon Bear, but it can’t be — the cinnamon isn’t nearly as strong as the tasting notes here describe. So it will remain a mystery. Which is too bad. It isn’t as good as the Coco La Ven or this, but it was ok.

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Oh man, I love bread pudding. Gonna have to put this on my list.


I’m so curious about this blend! Great review!


You’re making my mouth water just reading this. :D


Wow, so many bread pudding fans! Amazing. The mere thought of it makes me shudder. Lol.

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drank Coco La Ven by The NecessiTeas
1183 tasting notes

A strange little tea, full of surprises.

When I read the ingredients, I thought it sounded like a terrible mistake. Yet it actually works pretty well.

The dry mix in the sample packet smells mostly like vanilla/coconut and chamomile. The addition of water brings out the lavender. (The mixture in the infuser after brewing smells mostly like lavender and chamomile. Its nice. The association I had was with the smell of something that belongs in a sachet in my sock drawer.)

My glass tasting cups are all in the dishwasher so I’m having to view the liquor against a white background. It’s dark, definitely getting its color from the black tea. The aroma is mostly chamomile, followed by lavender, followed by coconut, followed by vanilla. I’m not detecting much in the way of tea.

The taste is extremely interesting. It has an almost minty taste and feel to it, a volatile coolness. I think this is the lavender. I can taste the chamomile, and it’s in the foreground, but surprisingly it’s not that mouthful of flowering hay taste chamomile sometimes reminds me of. The lavender and coconut (or maybe the tea) take the edge off, so it’s all of what I like about chamomile with none of what I don’t like about it. There’s coconut/vanilla at the end.

The main thing I’m not tasting is the tea. It’s strange, though. I’m not really tasting it, but I’m aware of its presence.

I didn’t try this with sugar and milk, as suggested. I will give that a try next time.

I am pretty impressed that this turned out as well as it did. Who would have thunk it?

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drank Lemon Mango by The Tea Table
1183 tasting notes

Another big, chunky fruit mixture. This one brews to a really beautiful melon color. OK. I want a sweater in this color, too.

I was in this for the lemon, which isn’t very fair. The aroma is at least one part lemon to one part something else, but the something else is probably closer to two parts. The lemon comes first, then the other, which is denominated mango in the name of the tea.

Thing is, it doesn’t really smell like mango. It smells sweet and fruity, in a Jolly Rancher sort of way, but I’m getting more of a generic fruit back end. If I hadn’t known it was supposed to be mango, I probably would have pegged it as nectarine.

That said, the taste of the tisane only suffers if you expect it to taste like mango. It’s actually, in some ways, better tasting than mango. Mango, the fruit, can have a mealy thing going on that squeezes the taste of the fruit into a unidimensional almost pungent, not quite delicious sweetness. (Other times it is wonderful.) This tastes more like a mixed red fruit taste than a one note mango, which may spare it the risk of mango disappointment.

I like it just fine. It’s as good or a better example of its genre as the Strawberry Kiwi from The Necessiteas that I tasted recently, and probably about as good as Teavana’s Strawberry Lemonade. It’s sweet enough without doctoring. It’s just a different mix of tastes, and isn’t what I was looking for in the continuing lemon search. I prefer the Strawberry Lemonade. But I’m trying not to let my bias cloud my judgment of the lemon Mango’s merits.

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I kept thinking “You can’t-a have-a de Mango!” ::slap:: while reading your note. Yes, I have pop-culture issues. ;)


lol!!! I loved those SNL skits! I love Mango!

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The last of the The O Dor samples accompanying my order. Apparently they have at December 25th in almost every color. There’s a black, a green, and a red in addition to the white. Reminds me of my mom, who would buy a pair of shoes in several different colors. I don’t do that. OK, maybe once or twice, but that’s ALL.

They gave me the white one — I guess because I ordered a lot of black tea, so my samples were green, rooibos, this one, and mysteriously, Earl Grey. The dry leaves look like white peony (not that I’m an expert) with orange peel and other stuff in them. They smell like a fruitcake, or perhaps the more sophisticated sounding and generally better English version, a Christmas pudding.

There’s a dense, alcoholic (guessing rum) laced with fruit aroma coming from the steeped tea. The liquor is a burnished gold color with sencha-reminiscent particles suspended in it.

The taste is mildly fruit cake spicy, with an undercurrent of alcohol and a mellowness that borders on sweet that I am guessing is the contribution of the white tea. I feel like adding apple into it and calling it wassail.

It’s tasty and something that I might enjoy revisiting in winter. A bit too much for the coming summer heat, even with the white tea base.

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I really enjoy seeing all the French flavored teas that have been popping up lately. Most of them sound so tasty!


They are a lot of fun!

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drank Sinharaja by Golden Moon Tea
1183 tasting notes

Golden Moon sample No. 31 of 31. I just looked back at the note for sample No. 1 and I started this journey 28 days ago. So almost a month here, too, Ewa. This seems like a really nice tea to end on, as it has a lot of love here on Steepster. It’s one of the ones I’ve been most looking forward to trying.

It’s probably not the best idea for me to be drinking this at 9:30 p.m., but at least it should keep me awake to finish my workout, which was interrupted earlier today at about the 1/3 mark.

I love the look of Ceylon leaves, that twiggy, delicate, dark brown bird nesty thing they have going on. The only other pure Ceylon I’ve had is the Samovar, and like that one, the dry leaves of this one smell a little tobaccoey and a little fruity. But I’m getting an interesting mocha-java note too.

Wow, what a beautiful color! It’s not that different from a black “tea colored” liquor really, but it has a rosey hue to it, like someone dropped a few drops of cranberry juice into it. I want a sweater this color!

The aroma is totally nommy. I get the molasses in a big way, but underneath the sugary sweetness is something else. Something that smells like that red color in the liquor, but that I can’t give a name. I think it is what the company describes as berry. The more I inhale it, the more I realize: it’s raspberry, and I don’t have to throw my mind out of focus to find it as I did with the Samovar.

Taste: I like. Lots. This seems to be among the fuller bodied Golden Moon black teas, the opposite of my experience with the Samovar Ceylon, which I found to be less deep and rich than the other Samovar black teas I’d tried. It’s smooth, and it has a character that reminds me of a lighter red wine. I get the toastiness, and some sweetness, but not too, too much. Despite its depth, it still manages to have a freshness to it without being astringent.

It was indeed a special way to conclude my voyage under the Golden Moon. Now, I must go place my order, the one I grandfathered into my lockdown by virtue of starting this trip almost a month ago.

It’s not goodbye, Golden Moon. It’s hello, again.

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wow u finished them all? that was fast :D just went through ratings you gave them. and its really high in average. looking forward to my delivery from the states…


Congratulations on getting through them all – I just got my Golden Moon sampler pack last night, so I’ll be making a similar journey soon…

RachanaC (Rachel)-iHeartTeas

I got my sampler yesterday and have already started enjoying the goodness.


You guys are going to have a great time!

Lainie Petersen

Yes, this is a delicious Ceylon. I need to get more.


Congrats! Isn’t it so sad to see the samplers go. Perhaps another tea company will follow in GM’s foot steps and offer a sampler as well.


That would be awesome, Ricky.

RachanaC (Rachel)-iHeartTeas

I agree very awesome!


I just tried this and I have to agree with this tea log – everything she said!

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drank Hanami Imperial by THE O DOR
1183 tasting notes

Another detour along the path of Project Finish Golden Moon samples. This was another sample The O Dor threw in with my order from them.

It’s unclear to me exactly what is in this. It came in a white envelope with a handwitten label on it with just the name of the tea. The web site isn’t much help either. The dry mixture looks like sencha with red and pink flower petals in it, but it’s also got a couple of little twigs, which seems odd. It smells spectacularly like cherry. To the point where I can’t smell the tea at all. I’m guessing there was some flavoring added as I can’t believe a few dried flower petals could generate the sort of cherry fragrance I’m smelling (even if cherry blossoms smell like cherry, which they may, but I wouldn’t know).

The liquor has that characteristic, hazy sencha look, with little particles suspended in the water. It’s yellower than it is green, and on the lighter side but not pale. The cherry fragrance is present after steeping, but it isn’t as strong and is balanced with another, somewhat savory, buttery scent.

After all this build up, disappointingly, it doesn’ t have a lot of flavor. There is a subtle cherry note at the finish, but what comes before isn’t distinctive. I’m hard pressed to identify it as tea. It’s more like a broth without a lot of flavor. I imagine this is what sodium free “lite” chicken bouillon might taste like — mild to the point of almost tastelessness.

Sad. There’s nothing at all offensive about it, and the cherry is done well. In fact, the cherry being done well is the only reason I’m giving this a rating higher than the Golden Moon sencha, since I’ve experienced a lot of poorly flavored green teas. But I’d hoped for a flavored green breakthrough, figuring if anyone could do it, the French could. It’s a curse, I tell you.

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Cherry makes sense since “hanami” is the Japanese term for cherry blossom viewing, where you and a bunch of your friends grab a taurpalin, a cooler, and a portable grill and go sit watching the cherry blossoms bloom/fall whatever. It’s all about celebrating the beautiful impermanence of the blooms except not really because it’s really all about drinking. But perhaps the light flavor of the tea is trying to be a message about fragility and impermanence! Let’s go with that.

As for cherry blossoms, they don’t smell like cherry. Or at least not that I remember.


A tailgate party?


pretty much! people get to good sites (i.e. ones with lots of trees) really early and claim a spot and then basically sit there the entire day chilling out. Some groups will rent karaoke machines, and I once saw a really beleaguered looking pizza delivery guy trying to find his customer in what was seriously a sea of people. It’s good times!


Lol on the pizza delivery!

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drank Sencha by Golden Moon Tea
1183 tasting notes

Golden Moon sample No. 30 of 31.

I’m not a sencha expert. I can count on my digits the number of times I’ve knowingly had sencha, and I probably don’t even have to use the toes.

So I cheated a little to get myself started. While I didn’t go so far as to pour the leaves out to compare how they looked, I compared the smell of the sample packet leaves to that of the Den’s Organic Sencha. And guess what? The Den’s is orders of magnitude more fragrant, more juicy and sweet and vegetal-smelling. The dry leaves looked pretty normal to me, but they weren’t as shiny and deep green as I remembered the Den’s being.

Looking back at my notes from the Den’s, I think the liquor color may be different as well. This steeps chartreuse too, but more toward the yellow side. The aroma is nice. It’s got some butter going on, and a definite vegetal scent. It tastes good, but a little on the thin side. I remember the Den’s being much juicier.

I think I’ve convinced myself (and it wasn’t at all hard to do) that I’d buy Den’s over this sencha. Though if someone offered me a cup of this, I would be happy to enjoy it with that kind offeror.

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drank Masala Chai by Rishi Tea
1183 tasting notes

Tried this today the Samovar way, with a tablespoon of chai and a tablespoon of black tea (Teavana Assam Gold Rain). Otherwise the same: 1 tbsp sweetener, 1 cup water till it boils mostly away, 1 cup milk, steep ten minutes in the milk after bringing to a boil.

This seems to be one way to make chai more chewy. I am going to be using this method from now on. Not sure this black tea was the best choice — I haven’t tried it outside of the chai experiment. But it tames the pepper just the right amount to keep it spicy while also giving it more substance and texture.

RachanaC (Rachel)-iHeartTeas

Hmmm…chewy tea interesting. :-)


Yes! I get the chewy thing too from making chai on the stovetop – it’s very satisfying when I’m in that mood. And good idea adding extra black tea to mute the pepper…


I love the term “chewy” for a tea! Sounds so yummy. :)

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I got obsessed with tea in 2010 for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it. I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I write fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I drink tea without additives. If a tea needs milk or sugar to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’ll rate it high. The exception is chai, which I drink with milk/sugar or substitute. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs, but as my tea skills and tastes developed they became far less appealing to me. I do not mix well with tulsi or yerba mate, and savory teas are more often a miss than a hit with me. That said, I’m not entirely a purist, and I enjoy a good flavored tea, particularly flavored blacks.

I like all kinds of tea depending on time of day, mood, and the amount of time I have to pay attention to preparation.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. But I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas in relation to others of the same type, for example, Earl Greys against other Earl Greys. But if a tea rates very high with me, it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is

90-94 First rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Excellent; will likely buy more

70-79 Very good; would enjoy again, might buy again

60-69 Good; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but likely won’t buy again

Below 60 Meh, so-so, iffy, or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

People have sent me tea on occasion, and I was once persuaded to send some Tazo Om to AmazonV. I’ve also done at least one group buy here on Steepster, the famous Doulton-led Dammann Freres experiment years ago. But mostly, I don’t swap. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I have way more tea than any one person needs and am not lacking for new things to try. Also, I have way too much going on already in daily life and the additional commitment to get packages to people adds to my already high stress level. (Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.)

That said, I enjoy reading folks’ notes, talking about what I drink, and getting to “know” people virtually here on Steepster so I can get ideas of other things I might want to try if I can ever again justify buying more tea. I also like keeping track of what I drink and what I thought about it, though I don’t put samples in my cupboard and not everything I have at any given time is showing in my cupboard. I do try to remember to remove things from my cupboard once I no longer have them.

I was an early internet adopter and have been online in various environments since around 1990. Steepster is one of the nicest online environments I’ve ever been privileged to participate in and that is saying something. :-)


Bay Area, California



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