30 Tasting Notes

drank Golden Monkey by Teavana
30 tasting notes

Generic and overpriced. There are better Golden Monkeys out there. Teavana employees recommend this tea to you because they are trained to tell you that this tea, along a few select other teas, are their personal favorite.

If you were going to drink this tea, make it iced so the bitterness that might come through doesn’t appear. Also, if you do drink it, it blends really well because its so basic.

Not an angry or a troll review at all, I swear. I just don’t think its a great tea. There are better out there Sorry.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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This is a soft, creamy green. Its not as smooth and buttery as some other green’s I’ve had but once it cools down, I find that this really is a wonderful cup of tea.

The color is a pale, clean yellow. The smell has a light, roasted quality that’s muted and you almost don’t notice it but its quiet and it sticks. Its like someone whispering in your ear and you get a faint scent of their hair or their smell and it makes their whisper that much softer or sexier.

I see people say vegetal. I don’t get that. Vegetal to me says, “cooked greens”, or “grassy”. I love green tea. Sometimes I crave liquified grass-clippings of a sencha, sometimes cups of neon-green Ureshin Tama Ryokucha. Other times, I just want a clean, easy-going, up-for-whatever cup of green tea that won’t make wonder if I over-steeped it by its asparagus-like, pungent plant power. You’ve had those, I know you have. This is not that tea. I don’t think this tea is vegetal.

This is going to sound weird but this tea reminds me of a beautiful hardwood floor. Its natural, its simple, its elegant and its comforting.

One of my favorites, out of a sachet or otherwise.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Wonderful. My first Yunnan and something worth writing about. It feels like I’m drinking what it feels like to sit on a soft, beat up leather couch in front of a fire place with snow falling outside in silence. Yes, I’m serious. Its smooth but it has depth with the tobacco notes and the sweetness at the end. Wow. I haven’t been feeling good lately and this just brought my spirits back up. Man, this is good tea.

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Incredible iced. Its sweet, clean, and bright. If I was to make iced tea for a party, I would stock up on this and it would be the talk of the town. Guaranteed.

Make it iced and you don’t think you’re drinking bagged tea.

Make it hot, though, and everything changes. The sweet, fresh apricot sweetness disappears and it gets muted and everything turns thin. That nice and clean mouthfeel that mixed so naturally with the flavors when cold, gets turned down and becomes boring. Unfortunate.

Cold brew and smile.

Make it hot and wrinkle your brow.

Iced 3 min, 15 sec

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I’m sitting at a picnic table in front of a small cottage in Cape Cod. The wind is gently dancing across the leaves of the trees. A car occasionally drives by. Its 3:00 in the afternoon and the only sounds I hear are the keys on my keyboard, the wind softly coasting across my face, and the crickets talking to each other in the grass.

I usually abhor silence. It makes me uncomfortable. Silence between two people, to me, is the signal that something is wrong or about to be.

This silence, though. I haven’t heard this in a long time. It is therapeutic. Tea me.

I’m with five other people in this small cottage in Dennis. I have brought a lot of tea with me. They are all excited to try to teas and have me talk about them. We got in last night and the first thing we did when we were all up was to make some Sencha, Yu Lu Yan Cha Black and Autumn Harvest Green.

I love the colors of Verdant’s teas. I don’t know why they look the way they do or how but I think they are the most beautiful looking tea colors I’ve ever seen or drank. This is so lightly colored that its hard to describe. Its barely green and has a tint of yellow. Its damn gorgeous.

The mouthfeel is a little thin but it leaves a smoothness on my tongue. Beany, creamy. Slightly nutty. Crisp. It sounds like I’m reading off the description page but I’m not. Things are so pronounced yet so delicate its hard to talk about how soft these flavors are but how damn good they taste. I know I don’t write the best reviews but if you made it this far: buy Verdant. This stuff will change the way you taste the world.

The rest of the crew went shopping. I’ll just sit here until they come back, listen to the crickets, the wind, the ocean whispering across the way. I’ll just sit here and sip.

I needed this.

170 °F / 76 °C 0 min, 30 sec
Lily Duckler

Thank you, conaughtyco. I loved this review, and will absolutely be passing your sentiments along to the He Family in Laoshan.


You made me smile. For those who have said, “It’s all hype” they don’t know what they’re talking about! I completely agree with you. I was hit smack in the face with the same ‘change the way you taste the world’ experience almost two years ago.

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Her water bowl and food dish are still on the kitchen floor. They’re empty.

I keep expecting to see her lying on the couch, waging her tail, with her head on the arm rest, looking at me or hear her dog tags on her collar clink and rattle in the other room as I make my tea. But here is only silence. I’m alone.

She was 77. In human years. And she was the only girl who ever loved me everyday of her life. Her name was Amy, she was my dog, she was my best friend, and she was put down yesterday. And I miss her terribly.

To get my mind off her not being here, I need to keep it occupied on something else. Tea me.

This is my first Pu’er so don’t judge too quickly. We all have to start somewhere and I can think of no other place that I trust to be initiated than Verdant. Here goes nothing.

The wet leaf smells of old book pages. Its wonderful and rustic. It smells a little rough, like dried leaves scraping against concrete in the fall. That’s the only way I can describe the smell, with a sound.

After the 10ish second wash, the wet leaves smell musty and sweet. Like fish oil capsules. I After I pour the wash out, I smell the leaves and theres a little, cinnamon, caramel sweetness that mixes with the smell of wet hay. There’s a musty but clean air to it. This is very hard to wrap my head around and describe all the things going on.

The tea is a deep amber, to the point of being a thick ruby but clean. Its like watered down table wine, if that makes any sense, or the blood that comes from a piece of cooked red meat. That’s not to make it sound gross at all, its just the color I think of. It looks intimidating.

1st: Weird. I thought this would be thicker. It has a very, very light mouthfeel. Leaves a mineral stamp on my tongue and coats my mouth quietly. Slight bitterness. Still old book pages though, and I love it.

2nd: Mineral and light mouthfeel dominates but the lingering aftertaste is different now. Its cottony, fluffy and soft. Its like theres a smile inside my mouth.

3rd: Sweeter now, less rock-like. This is my favorite infusion yet. There’s a quiet bean-like taste that is so subtle it might not even exist but its there. I’m not getting the caramel taste that others get but there is a richness to the aftertaste that compliments the faint mineral thing on my tongue.

Not bad for my first Pu’er. I was scared. Thought I’d be drinking dirt water or moss extract. How wrong I was. I’m very surprised and very happy to say that I have tried this style of tea and want to and will try more.

My head feels pretty good, too. Maybe I’m not “tea drunk”, or “cha zui”, but I do feel different, a little “heady” after drinking three cups of this. I feel good.

This is why tea matters to me. It brings me back up when I’m down. Finds me when I’m lost. Sits quietly with me when I’m alone.

Time will take care of these feelings. I won’t dwell or sulk for long.

Besides, life is what you make it. And I believe I will make a cup of tea. :)

190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 0 sec

Sorry to hear you lost your dog!


If I had a tea to choose for such a sad occasion, one that requires time and deep thought…it would be puerh. The matching of earth and best friend in an organic way is comforting. How to explain this isn’t possible. You have to experience it, and you did so. Keep drinking your puerh for comfort, remembering the joy of such a grand friend who is eternally loved by you and will always give love in return.

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drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
30 tasting notes

This stuff is unreal.

When I opened my bag and smelled the dry leaf, I said out loud, “Yeah right!”

A 3 second wash elicited the usual reaction when I smell a Verdant offering, “Oh. My. God.”

I had to inhale three times to make my brain register that what I was smelling was real. Chocolate malt, like brewery malt that gives a good beer its roasted flavor. Grainy like a thick, rich, still-warm bread. This should be illegal, an aroma sold in canisters on the black market.

Tea shouldn’t be allowed to smell this good. Why? Because I want to tell everyone about it and let them smell it but then they’ll love it and want to buy it and that means less Laoshan Black for me. And I’m not going to let that happen.

Actually, I’m kidding. I’m going to Cape Cod in a few weeks and I told the group of friends whom I’m going with that I will be bringing tea that will “literally blow your mind” and thereby hopefully recruiting more lose leaf followers (read: addicts). I’m thinking of bringing most of my Verdant’s: some Tea of the Month samples, Master Han’s Wild Picked Yunnan, Summer Harvest Laoshan Green, Ms. Li’s Shi Feng. Maybe Gyokuro from Teavana. Teavivre’s Mao Feng. Haven’t decided yet. I will tell you, though, that this tea will be one of them. This, above all the other teas I have on my tea counter, will be the one that will make their eyes either close in ecstasy or open wide in amazement. They’ll be smiling, either way. And so will I.

What else can I say that hasn’t been praised before? Deep caramel. High-quality chocolate/high percentage cocoa. A sweet, coy aftertaste. Roasted grain that is mellow but soothing. I wonder what is different between this Summer Harvest and others?

I am lying on a hammock made of Laoshan Black with a well-worn and loved book resting on my chest with sunlight dancing between the pools of shadows that trickle over the grass.

Why has it taken me so long to experience this? Are all other black teas like this? Have I been doing this whole tea thing wrong!? I surely hope not. I used to think I hated black tea. The only other black tea I liked was, strangely enough, Yu Lu Yan Cha Black and I thought THAT was the cream of the crop. I can’t believe I have been missing out on this for so long. I feel like I’ve cheated myself from experiencing something special when it was right in front of me the whole time.

This tea really is an experience. One I hope to share with others and that I hope you share, as well. With me and no one else.

Here’s a poem by William Butler Yeates called, “A Drinking Song”. Just replace “Wine” with “Tea”:

“Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.”

I may not be able to love for a while after what has happened with her but I do know that I appreciate tea for what it is and what does to me and I am so, so happy I get to experience this Laoshan Black.

Thanks, Verdant. As always.

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec

We see eye to eye!

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My window is open and there’s a cool breeze trickling over the music that softly plays in the background (City and Colour). The sun has set and the darkness is like a worn-in hoodie or sweatshirt you wear because you like the way it feels as it hugs you when no one else will. There is a couple walking down the street. I can hear their sneakers scrape on the pavement and the occasional laugh and murmurs of conversation. A man and an woman. Just taking a walk together at night. So beautiful. It’s one of those nights you take for granted. The simplicity of it. The pureness of it.

It’s over between us. It hurts. We’re trying to be friends but I think it’s harder for me than it is for her. “This too shall pass” and all that but. Man. It just hurts sometimes.

So. That’s where I am drinking this tea. I said on my first ever Steepster review that SN is a tea to be enjoyed alone and thought about. I still stand by that. There’s something intimate about Silver Needle, isn’t there? The untouched, unaltered, pure state of the leaves. White tea, more than any other, to me, is the best friend of the tea world. Like a shoulder to cry on or a friend to listen to you complain or to just sit in silence with you, SN is the solitary tea drinker’s tea. A rainy day tea. A blanket and book tea. A contemplate existence tea. A write tea reviews at night with City and Colour playing in the background trying to get your mind off her tea.

Sigh. Tea me.

I’ll just go out and say it: this is one of the best Silver Needles I’ve ever had. And I’m not saying that based off limited experience with SN’s. I may have acquired 30+ teas on my shelf but I drink SN the most. Its my second favorite tea of all-time (Dragonwell holds that honor).

The liquor is pale and clean. A quiet, golden tint; a flawless hue of simplicity. There’s a calm cedar-like woodiness, almost like whole-grain bread that peaks its head through the light veil of sweetness. There’s the hay-like taste. There’s the tangy deepness. There’s even a little spark of spice on the second infusion. There’s the smile on my face.

I have found my definitive Silver Needle. If you want to experience what white tea truly is and can be in it’s purest form, buy Teavivre’s Organic Silver Needle. This is absolutely fantastic.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec

hmmm i may need to try this one with my next order


I happen to read your review tonight, and it is bringing me to tears, cause at this very moment, I know exactly how you feel… thank you for these beautiful words.
(and City and Colour just adds to the mood)


I think of alpine pools of water flowing over granite. ICY! Pure and clean. Pine trees reaching fingers upward to the heaven’s and a welcome solitude. May your heart heal with love from many strangers and friends…good tea and great silver needle.

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drank China Green Tips by Tazo
30 tasting notes

(There are two versions of this tea: bagged and loose. This is for the bagged)

I don’t get all the hate for this tea.

I find all the characteristics of a green that I want out of it, even though its not as remarkable as some of the others I have in my cupboard. There’s a calm and dark yellow, slightly muddled green color to the brew that isn’t gross-looking or questionable. It looks mediocre and I’m okay with that. I get that slight “tint”, or “spark” that I get with really good green teas but not as powerful. You know that thing I’m talking about, its almost like you touched your tongue to a battery but not as intense. Its not grassy but theres something vegetal and calm about it. Its nice. Its out of a bag. So what.

I think this is a pretty good tea for what it is, which apparently, based on other reviews and opinions, isn’t much. Oh well.

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Tea has changed my life. First it was Lipton green tea at work. That evolved into Stash, to Tazo, then to Steven Smith teas. I started wandering down the tea aisle in Wegmans and started picking things off the shelf. Went to Teavana and then picked up Silver Needle and Dragonwell teas. Bought a book called “The Tea Drinker’s Handbook”. Started looking at various tea distributor websites. Found Steepster. Life altered.

I bring tea to parties for a nice drink before a beer or the morning after, which is always a hit. I drink it with breakfast and in the late hours of the night. It wakes me up and calms me down. It feels like a friend who I want to tell everyone about yet keep them all to myself. I love the history of it, the intimacy of it, the entire world of it.

Favs: Love me some green and white tea. Blends are okay when sharing with people but when I’m alone or have the late night blues, then Silver Needle it is. Matcha for when I need to calm down while making it and to refocus after I drink it.

About me: I have two masters degrees (in Education and creative writing), write short stories, draw a comic strip and have ridden my bicycle across the country alone.


Rochester, NY



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