911 Tasting Notes


Bad news this evening has me reaching for a comfort tea. This one fits the bill nicely. Opening the canister, I get a delicious whiff of honeyed nectar. The taste is sweet, soft and gentle with a vegetal undertone and slightly tingly endnote that combine to give me a comforting cuddle. I can’t help but breathe and let go a bit as I sip.

160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec

Wonderful note! makes me want to revisit my silver needle tea. I always seem to get “mashed potatoes” from it because I know I’m oversteeping it. I want “honeyed nectar”! :)


Okay, the mashed potato tea cracks me up! I tend to get “leftover water from boiling soybeans” from other SN. This is the first (only) straight SN that has given me such joy. (Though the mashed potato SN sounds oddly tempting just for weirdness factor.)


I hope the bad news is short lived. I’m glad you had some comfort tea on hand.

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I have to fall in with the general consensus here – this reminds me of a Bohea. But it does differ in some important ways, too, at least from the two(ish?) Bohea I’ve had.

It smells smoky and a bit bacony while brewing but once it is in my cup, there’s an unexpected but interesting added smell that I can’t quite place. It’s not as rich and velvety smelling as the Bohea I’ve had and a lot of it is due to that extra something – something almost lemon or citrusy?

The taste is very similar to the smell – it’s surprisingly light and bright tasting because of that extra not-quite-lemon flavor. The not-lemon flavor leads each sip followed by smoke and perhaps a hint of cocoa. It’s different from most smokies I’ve had and quite tasty.

As I kept sipping, that not-lemon flavor seemed to gel in my mind as a more figgy or plum taste, reminding me of a softer Yunnan or perhaps a Fujian black. The overall smoke is lighter in intensity than most smokies and doesn’t feel as velvety or thick because of the light fruitiness. That lack of thickness is actually nice in that it lets this tea be a smoky tea for a different mood. Sometimes I’m just not in the mood for a heavy, rich feeling Bohea or a powerful and strong Lapsang. This gives the smokiness but with a light fruity sweetness that makes it not your typical heavy cup of smoke. Perhaps its more of a summer/hot weather smoky tea? Quite enjoyable!

Much thanks to sophistre for the share!

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Thomas Smith

This is a true Lapsang Souchong Bohea.


Good to know – and makes sense that it would remind me of Bohea if it is Bohea! :) It threw me a bit because even compared to Tao of Tea’s Bohea (which is a true Bohea, I think you previously said?) it’s a lot fruitier and softer.

Only slightly related question for you: You seem to know a lot about good quality smoky teas. Have any suggestions of some must try teas?

Thomas Smith

Well, my first suggestion would be to just keep trying the many incarnations of Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong and other Wu Yi red teas. Seems a lot of retailers are starting to market it under names other than Lapsang to distance themselves from unfavorable overly-smoky experiences folks may have had. I’m enjoying reading your reviews on Wu Yi red teas!
I wasn’t brave enough to try Lapsangs after being stung by a liquid smoke version until I got into more traditional oolongs, which are from the same area and have that smoky impression. A Keemun-like preparation of Da Hong Pao cultivar under the name Imperial Red (a name that I’ve also seen tacked onto Keemuns, Yunnan reds, and Sichuan reds) got me looking at Wu Yi reds – and Fujian reds in general – in a different light.


Thanks! I suppose I should really pay more attention to the Chinese names of the teas and just try lots and lots of Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong (instead of depending on the “Bohea” or “Lapsang” labels). I just love the smoky teas! :)

Thomas Smith

Exactly – just search out any red teas you can find from the Wu Yi mountains in Fujian and you should be set. Just look out for that liquid smoke junk.

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drank Lady Grey by Twinings
911 tasting notes

We spent the night at the parents’ house last night so we could all get up way early this morning for a quick day trip down to Austin… which is four and a half hours away. I finally got home about an hour ago and have much Steepstering to catch up on. Though it might have to wait until tomorrow (or, given that it is after midnight, perhaps I should say ‘later today’).

For some crackmad reason, I didn’t bring any tea to my parents’ so I had to raid my mom’s cupboard. Sadly, this was the only full octane tea she had (most of the rest being herbal or decaf) so I grabbed a couple of bags, some rock sugar, whole milk and boiling water and had a wake-me-up-cup at 6am this morning.

Surprisingly, this was good. Not overly strong but the teabag was likely rather old so that could have played into it. But even with the muted flavor, there was still a nice lemony taste to it. Not lemon peel or lemon rind but sweeter – more like candied lemon perhaps? I’m sure the sugar played in to that but it was still nice. I got hints of bergamot after the lemon, but in my world this is pretty much a lemon tea. And I like it.

Any chance they make a loose version of this? Because I think this would be nice to have around but still prefer having loose teas on hand over bagged.

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I’m pretty sure they do make loose in a tin…


I will have to look for that. Though I did just order 12 EG samples from Upton so maybe I need to wait on that!


Ha! And just looking at the picture, it’s got a tin next to the box so I am pretty sure you are right. I feel so observant!


yes, this is available in loose..I once brought back a pound from the duty free store in Heathrow. Twinning Lady Earl Grey is a “citrusy earl grey”, so I’d say your comments are spot on.


They do make and sell the loose version here in the US. It’s a beautiful tea with the blue flowers in it — it’s why I prefer this in the loose form over the packets.

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drank Marco Polo by Mariage Frères
911 tasting notes

It’s been forever since I’ve had this tea. But not because I don’t love it. It’s actually the opposite – I adore this tea so much that I haven’t been able to force myself to open the new tin of it. Gotta save it so I don’t run out, right? So it has languished on my shelf for months and months.

But I’ve been wearing my grumpy pants quite a lot lately even though I should be celebrating (since I only have 22 more days of work). So I decide to enforce some celebration in my life by finally opening my tin of this.

Ahhhh! Yes, such a good choice. It’s strawberry shortcake in liquid form (I did use some sugar and half & half this morning, which helps that idea along). Desserty sweet but also fresh-fruity tart (there is some astringency that, combined with the delicious strawberry taste of this tea, reads to my tongue as a light tartness almost exactly like biting into a fresh strawberry). For some reason, I also get the idea of cocoa when drinking this tea. Not so much the taste, but a hint of it in the texture – a richness or sponginess – that just makes it so deliciously dessert-like and happy-making.

And additional bonus is the caffeine. My hands have just a wee bit of a tremor to them this morning thanks to this tea. Which is good because it means that hopefully I won’t be tempted to crawl under my desk for naptime today.

Before I left the house with my tumbler o’ deliciousness, I did a second steep of this to ice. So I quite look forward to seeing how that turns out. Mmmm.

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

Between the fact that this tea is hard to get, and the fact that it sends me back to a world that no longer exists and I always wind up with tears behind my eyes – ooof- yeah – I can’t be without this tea, yet I don’t drink it very often.


This one doesn’t bring up any special memories for me but I totally understand the desire for it to be a special occasion kind of tea. It’s so lovely yet MF stuff is so hard to find…


Auggy – I’ve got a pretty good line on it most of the time. I’ve got a local Dean and Deluca. If you want, next time you run out let me know and I can run down and see if there’s any there. We can do some sort of swap if you’d like.


Shoulda done a tinyurl, but…lazy this morning. x.x

Anyway, hope that helps. :D


liquid strawberry shortcake!?!


Yay – thanks to both wombatgirl & sophistre! takgoti was my buyer last time – I am jealous of those with local MF hook ups! :) And OMG at the lovelies at Market Hall Foods……. Do they ever have any of the more special teas (like Opium Hill)?
thewaterbird, It’s gooooooood. :)


Another great source of Mariage Freres is The Cultured Cup in Dallas, TX. www.theculturedcup.com.


So true – I had forgotten about them. They are only 50ish minutes away so looks like I need to visit them again!

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drank After 5 by Lupicia
911 tasting notes

Normally I’m not a huge mint girl, but who can argue with a free teabag, right? Plus, while I tend to shy away from peppermint (which seems to be the typical ‘mint’ flavor everyone goes with), I am a spearmint fan so I figure there’s a decent chance of me liking this.

Dry it smells sweetly minty which I think is a good sign. Steeped up, though, it’s weird. Mostly because the sweet, lighter-toned mint is mixing equally with the darker, almost musky smell of green tea. It’s not bad so much as really unexpected. I mean, how often do you smell green beans and mint at the same time?

Even though the smell is quite strong, the taste is much gentler and the two flavors blend fairly well. The first and last taste is a menthol minty whoosh but the rest of the taste is a mix of mint and buttered green veggies, specifically now soybeans. I would definitely call this as more of a mint tea than a green tea since mint is the dominant flavor, but the green tea isn’t hiding, just plays a more supportive roll.

This tea does leave me with some mixed feelings though. As a mint tea, it’s good – it’s noticeably minty and helped unstuff my head a bit, so points for that. Additionally, the green tea gives the mint a little depth, which is nice since straight mint teas can be somewhat flat. But as I drink it, I can’t help but think it is the liquid equivalent of eating soybeans seasoned with mint. Which is not something that I think I’d ever do, even after having this tea. It just… doesn’t seem right to me. That being said, I’m totally open to an awesome soybean & mint recipe changing my mind. But even after this tea, that combo seems weird enough that I’m not going to search it out.

Ultimately, I think this is a tea I could potentially get behind if given more time with it. But since there was only one free teabag and not three, I probably won’t get a chance to spend that needed extra time because I’d have to buy some more. And buying more of this tea is just not something that this cup has quite convinced me to do (unless, for some reason, I just really needed a mint tea).
1 teabag (2.3g)/5oz

195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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drank Earl Grey Cream by Tea Guys
911 tasting notes

The tea – both dry leaves and post-steeping liquid – smells like bergamot candy. It’s got the citrusy sharpness of bergamot, but it is cuddled on all sides by a very sweet cake-icing-like vanilla smell. I would like a candle in this flavor please. It smells delish.

Usually, I take flavored teas with sugar and half & half, but today since I have the time I had this one straight. At first sip, I didn’t really get much taste, just a little hint of tartness at the end. But as I continued to sip, the taste seemed to build in my mouth – first the vanilla sweetness and then the edgier bergamot (which I’m pretty sure is the tart taste at the end of the sip I had at first – as I continued to sip, the vanilla smoothed out the edges of this tart endnote).

One thing that I don’t really taste, however, is tea. The added flavorings are nice – not impressive but nice (I’m a fan of anything that reminds me of icing) – but the overall taste just feels like it is missing something. And I’m pretty sure that something is the taste of tea. If I had to guess, I’d say this is a fairly meh Ceylon but that’s only because it doesn’t really taste like much of anything and that lack of taste is something I associate with not-very-special Ceylons. That could just be prejudice against Ceylons speaking. Anyway, towards the end of the cup, there was some astringency that left my mouth feeling a bit dry and that was the closest to “tea” that I really got out of it.

I’ll going to hold off on rating this until I have a chance to try it with additives – I have a feeling the bergamot and vanilla will really make me happy with sugar and half & half mixed in. Especially since any time I use additives, I’m not really expecting or looking for any strong tea flavor.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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drank Golden Monkey by Teavana
911 tasting notes

As a general rule, I think it’s safe to say that I greatly enjoy Golden Monkey teas. First of all, monkey so that’s kind of a duh. Second, it just tends to be a good, full-flavored but smooth and sweet Chinese tea. So yeah, I’m a fan all the way around. Sadly, the same can’t be said for Teavana. I’m not like a total anti-Teavana tea person – I’ve purchased from them before and I’m sure I will again because I think they have some of the cutest yunomi-style cups. But typically I find them too much a fan of blending random beep together and their teas are overpriced for their quality – for the same price elsewhere, much higher quality tea can be had. But enough general tea babbling and let’s get on to specific tea babbling.

The dry leaves are really quite cute (thin and wiry with little gold bits) and have a great fruity (almost berry-like) smell to them. Post-steeping, it has a great malty smell with strong honey notes. Or perhaps it is more of a great honey smell with strong malty notes? Also, there’s a good bake-y smell going on.

The taste was a bit unexpected. It’s not as heavy/thick/chewy as I was expecting but the flavor is very strong and very malty. It’s very clear tasting, like it would look sparkly and clear (which it actually does but that doesn’t always translate to taste). There’s a hint of sour to it which could probably be too much if brewed longer, but at this level it’s actually not bad – it adds a little balance to the sweetness. But it does seem to hang around after this sip which is a little less cool. All in all, it’s not the best GM I’ve had (that honor still belongs to Teas Etc’s GM) but it’s not bad either. Stout, perky, clean – the only real negative is the sour taste and that isn’t overwhelming.

Wait, I take that back. There is another negative – the price. Two ounces of this tea is just over $18. Three ounces of the (in my view, superior) Teas Etc version is just under $17. So even though I like this tea, I don’t think I’d ever actually buy it. Instead, I’d go to Teas Etc, save a bit over a buck and get an ounce more of a better Golden Monkey. (However, the rating I’m giving this tea is based purely on taste, not price.)

ETA: The second steep (3:00) is a bit… plainer than the first one. It doesn’t really have the sour bit anymore except a tad in the aftertaste (which is good) but it also doesn’t have the same bold and sweet malty taste that the first steep did (which is bad). But even though the overall taste was thinner and flatter, I still managed to finish off the cup quickly.

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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drank Kali Cha by The Tao of Tea
911 tasting notes

In her log, sophistre mentions that this is a bit of a Dawn taste-a-like, so I went into this cup thinking of my experience with Dawn which perhaps colors my perception a bit, but hey, it happens.

Smelling the dry leaves, there is a hint of cocoa. Not super-intense and a little more on the milk chocolate side of things than most cocoa-smelling teas but very nice. Once brewed, there is a bit of a rough, raw-ish smell that reminds me of a Nilgiri but not quite as raw or unpleasant. I suppose I could call this a slightly textured fresh note.

The taste is faintly cocoa-y on the front, a little rough and nicely solid. The idea of cocoa seems to hang around in my mouth after each sip and that’s kind of nice. The taste profile does remind me quite a bit of Dawn, as sophistre mentions, but less intense. Slurping the tea gives me a bit of smoke and a taste of something similar to burnt sugar and that is definitely very Dawn-like.

I’m not one of the ones looking for a Dawn replacement so I can’t say how nicely this would fill that hole but I find this tea quite enjoyable. It’s a little on the softer flavor intensity side of things which is something that I have been enjoying lately. But even though there are differences in intensity and smoothness, I would probably group this tea (lighter), Dawn (more intense) and my beloved Tan Yang from TeaSpring (smoother) in the same category.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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I haven’t had Jackee in a while – lately I’ve been too addicted to Chicago Tea Garden’s Keemun to stray – but I decide it was time to revisit him. This was a caramel-free experience but still quite enjoyable, mostly because I noticed for the first time the similarities between this one and CTG’s Keemun.

Jackee is much bolder, but the overall flavoring is similar – lots of depth, some acrid smoky (but nothing to a lapsang lover), a similar sweetness… Anyway, it’s pretty noticeable (at least it was today) that these two teas are in the same taste family. There are differences, though. Jackee, as I mentioned, is much bolder. It has a stoutness that makes it a bit of a wake-up type tea for me. CTG’s is softer and more delicate and overall has more complexity, including a floral end note. It’s also more of a ‘relax and meditate on each sip’ type tea for me.

I still like CTG’s version a bit better (what can I say, I’m a sucker for such soft yet complex teas) but noticing the similar tastes help me appreciate Jackee even when I don’t get to taste level caramel chew.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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drank Snow Geisha by Teavana
911 tasting notes

When I had this tea two months ago, I threatened to pick all the sour non-tea bits from this tea and go from there. Well, I did. My husband (who is a fan of Theraflu… I’m just sayin’) said he liked the sour cherry aspect of the tea and would be happy to drink the non-tea bits part. So today, I made us tea – he got the sour bits, I got the tea (and the petals, if you want to know the truth). His tea was bright pink. My tea was soft yellow. I was too scared to taste his tea. I did taste mine and…

…it was okay. There’s a faint LifeSaver cherry flavor to it still but there’s not the icky tartness of sour like before. The white tea is a bit nectary but sadly almost totally covered up by the faint cherry taste – the tea tastes pretty delicate. That is, the white tea in this tea is delicate. The flavoring and thus the tea that is in my cup? Not so delicate. It’s not the bludgeoning sour sledgehammer it was before and easily gains ten to fifteen points from being brewed without the sour bits. But ultimately, it is just okay.

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

I’m with you. Tea that causes pain (as in making your eyes water and your tongue pucker) is no fun.

Kathryn Ann

I like the idea of taking out the sour bits to make this tea more drinkable, maybe I should do the same! I still have enough tea to make one or two more cups of it…. ):

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I’m trying to be a better tea logger and actually post semi-regularly again! I’ve let my tea tasting senses become too complacent – it’s time for some focused and attentive tea drinking!

Sometimes my notices for PMs and such have been questionable. Email me at your own risk at aug3zimm at gmail dot com.

1 – 10 – Bleck. Didn’t finish the cup.
11 – 25 – Drinkable. But don’t punish me by making me have it again.
26 – 40 – Meh. Most likely will see if the husband likes it iced.
41 – 60 – Okayish. Maybe one day I’ll kill off what I have in my pantry.
61 – 75 – Decent. I might pick some up if I needed tea.
76 – 85 – Nice. I’d probably buy but wouldn’t hunt it down.
86 – 100 – Yum! I will hunt down the vendor to get this tea!

Not that anyone but me particularly cares, but there it is.





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