249 Tasting Notes


This is one of those things I’d never consider buying especially since I live in an area with, no joke, 18-20 Thai restaurants in a 5 block radius. This is Thai food and tea heaven. But here I sit in my cold apartment, plugging away at all the work due before finals start, and I can’t be assed to leave to get food or drink until I have to leave for class later this evening. This is one of those times when ‘instant’ anything is appreciated, so I pull out this gift from Mastress Alita. Thank you :)

Upon opening the bag and pouring the contents into the mug, I’m hit with a cloud of cotton candy and vanilla-scented powdery whisps floating through the air. I waft the airborne particles closer and a sudden feeling of comfort arises within me. I pour 200mL of boiling water into the mug and stir, seconds later beholding a magic potion of that unmistakable creamy Thai tea color. It smells so good, like being at the fair — cotton candy, powdered sugar, marshmallows, vanilla cream — and it tastes just the same with only a hint of Thai tea base. So smooth and creamy, sweet and comforting and consumed very quickly. I now have the resolve to continue with my studies.

I love when things like this surprise me.

Boiling 35 g 7 OZ / 200 ML
Mastress Alita

I like these in winter because I think they taste like a “vanilla” version of hot chocolate more than Thai tea, hahaha. All that vanilla, creamed milk, and sugar, and ya, the tea flavor is pretty lost. It’s a guilty pleasure sort of thing.


Definitely a guilty pleasure. Where did you buy this anyway? I want to get some shipped to my new place, which won’t be amid a Thai wonderland.

Mastress Alita

I bought mine from this online shop… which, oddly enough, is only two hours away from where I live, hahaha. (They are out of Boise, I’m noticing!)


Ya, I don’t have any “foreign food” shops in my little Idaho town. There is a Thai restaurant here (my Thanksgiving dinner every year is me getting take-out there the Wednesday following and eating the leftovers for the following four days!) but I don’t go there often. I usually get Thai when I’m on vacation, and then I always get my Thai tea iced. I prefer this little insta-packets warm, though!


Excellent, thank you.

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drank Earl Grey Red by Davidson's Organics
249 tasting notes

I bought this bulk from the co-op.

I like Earl Grey but I can’t say I’m a fan of this. It smells and tastes rather medicinal and woody and is really drying. Not what I want at night. I can’t imagine when I would want this. The rooibos looks nice though and it’s not dusty.

Addendum: The bergamot is not overpowering by any means, I think I just don’t like it mixed with a woody rooibos that’s lacking in sweetness.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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I got this as a sample from Togo, thanks! The dry leaves had a distinct look, silvery and beige and smelled of floral, lemon, mineral soil and pine. This sample was totally loose but it seems like the cake might be lightly compressed. Warming the leaf brought out a really strong aroma with the addition of fresh apricot. Had me swoonin’ for a minute. The rinse brought out some mushroom, too. The gold liquor was tart and had some characteristic youth bitterness and astringency yet it was very smooth. It was bright and lively in the mouth with some light tastes of apricot, honey and florals. The aftertaste was buttery/yeasty with light honey. Despite the astringency, I could still feel a layer of oil on my tongue.

I really enjoyed this tea’s clean character reminiscent of a damp mountain forest on a sunny day. While it’s drinkable now, I think aging might do some wonderful things. It’s a shame it’s sold out – good deal for $39. Would make an excellent daily drinker. I hope whoever owns a cake enjoys it :)

205 °F / 96 °C 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

I like YS’s Big Snow Mountain black, though I haven’t had the puerh. Sounds tasty!


And I haven’t had Big Snow Mountain black, except in the dragon ball form with rose petals. I’ll probably pick up a small bag next year.

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So I didn’t take tasting notes because I used this tea to fuel me through finishing a university application due tonight. But dang is this a well-balanced yancha. Deep red liquor, aromas, flavors, mouthfeel, returning sweetness, energy all kind of made for the perfect beverage to calm myself down and tell a bunch of strangers why they should accept me into their program. If you want a good idea of the flavors, check out eastkyteaguy’s and oceanica’s reviews for the 2016 harvest, though this 2017 is a bit different. I remember noticing a pronounced thickness, too, which I’ve never experienced in yancha.

Oh, I even talked about tea on my application because the school I applied to tonight, UC Davis, has a program called the Global Tea Initiative that I’m interested in contributing to. Check it out: https://globaltea.ucdavis.edu/

I really dug this Reserve Fo Shou and want more. It’s definitely the smoothest wuyi oolong sample I ordered from Verdant and it’s definitely out of my price range :( but I’ll be on the lookout for this cultivar in the future. (I also enjoyed Verdant’s regular Fo Shou.)

Boiling 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

Good luck with the application!

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If this were space and I were a space cowgirl, I’d pass by Planet Jinggu for a planet with a more favorable atmosphere for a derk. An atmosphere that’s not so floral and vegetal. Give me fruity pu (or meaty or resinous or citric or herbal) or give me anoxic space death. Some other things that didn’t sit right with me: flat in the mouth, lots of broken material and charred bits, a little too tightly compressed. It does have great longevity, though. Material is still very green. Is that characteristic of Jinggu leaf and/or related to the level of compression? Gets bitter later on.

Get this if you like floral pu.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 OZ / 100 ML

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This was the tea I was rummaging around for to have as a follow-up to a breakfast of a lentil/garbanzo/quinoa patty sandwich and some tater tots.

Gone full western this time. No gaiwan action with this 5g pouch. 8oz, 200F, 4 good steeps at 2/3/5/? minutes.

The dry leaf smelled strongly of tar and cedar smoke. It wasn’t so strong that it was nauseating, though In fact I really enjoyed it. I’m a weirdo and love the smell of a house being re-roofed and the laying of asphalt. I was happy I picked this because it seemed like it was going to go well with the slight smokiness and spiciness of the paprika in my veg patty. The aroma of the first steep smelled moderately of cedar smoke and wood, leather, roasted almond skins and mineral. There was also an umami presence that my olfactories said was cheese, like a tangy and sweet, buttery aged gouda. I like.

The brew started out with a tasty layer of cedar smoke enveloping mineral lemon water. It had a good, light to medium body but also some astringency in the very front of the mouth along my gums which was kind of distracting. Some light bitterness presented in the back. The aftertastes hung around with notes of smoked meat, leather, cedar and a tartness.

I sniffed the leaves after the second steep. With the cedar smoke and leather, there was also a floral note, perhaps white or yellow rose. This didn’t come through in taste in the first few steeps and was likely masked by the smoke but it did appear in the third steep.

As I progressed through the rest of the steeps, the tastes stayed roughly the same. There was an addition of roasted peanut, and as I mentioned the floral note finally came through. The lemon tartness became stronger at the top back of the mouth and on the sides of my tongue. My mouth watered, helping with the astringency. A delayed light returning sweetness also appeared.

This didn’t blow me away, but I’m not really expecting that with a smoked tea. It was comforting yet clean and refined, without the smokiness bowling me over. Good longevity, too. I think it’s worth a try if you’re looking for a higher quality smoked black tea.

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec 5 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Ohhhh Republic of Tea. You got the scent game down in your harvest season blends. I wanna know where da flava at?

Dry bag smells just like mulled apple cider and even the aroma of the tea which is even more tart and pungent. It smells real. But there is so little flavor — a little tart watery apple and cinnamon — and no depth to this it’s ridiculous. This just makes me feel nostalgic for apple season in Ohio and upset that I can’t even come close to nursing my aroma-induced longing with a hot cup.


Boiling 7 min, 0 sec 6 OZ / 177 ML

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What a lovely leaf to look at and hold. A wild and clumpy pile of large-leaf tendrils. They smell mostly of red cherry, malt and pine with hints of cedar and cacao.

Gone western. What-Cha recommends 2tsp, yes, but how I am I supposed to measure that? The leaves in the teaspoon are the arms of an octopus trying to escape man’s confines. So I brought out my scale and 2g of octopus arms roughly translates to 2 heaping teaspoons? 8oz, 205F, 2 steeps at 3/5m.

After the first brew, my nose is going wild picking out all the aromas coming from the leaf: baked bread, dark cherry, dark honey, cedar, malt and pine foremost with hints of cocoa, juicy red grape, red wine, mandarin orange and grape must. The aroma of the liquor has less strength yet is still satisfying with medicinal cherry, alcohol (brandy?), mandarin orange, baked bread, malt, cedar and pine.

The sip is light and smooth yet robust with an interesting astringency. I’m not sure I mentioned this in my note a few days ago about the Vietnam Wild Boar black tea but that tea’s flavors hit mostly mid-mouth and back with very little happening up front. I’m having the same experience with this tea. Dominant flavors of baked bread, cedar and minerals with hints of cherry, dried orange rind and woody cocoa appear mid-mouth. As I swallow the tea, I notice a stronger mineral presence and tartness. The aftertaste is tart much like a sour orange and lingering with some grape fruitiness and faint cocoa. A light oiliness lines my mouth and I’m salivating, which I love.

I have to thank Togo for the opportunity to try this lovely tea. This is yet another tea to add to my impressive experiences with teas coming out of Vietnam. Oh, this Shan Tuyet black was a great complement to a dessert of coconut ice cream and sticky rice. It cut the sweetness nicely and cleared my palate in between bites.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

This sounds amazing. What-Cha here I come :D


Ditto; this sounds so good!

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drank Sage Cretan Tea by VIOS
249 tasting notes

A final herbal tea to transition out of a stressful day.

I had never drank pure sage tea before because I suspected I might be allergic to it. Being near smoldering sage sends me into sneezing fits and makes me feel ill for hours. However, I seem to be able to ingest it in small amounts in cooking without issue and in tea blends.

I was hesitant to try pure sage in tea form but I drank it with no adverse reaction and quite enjoyed it. It was a little sweet and obviously tasted of sage, a bit woody and earthy. There was some scratchiness in my throat and also a cooling quality in my mouth that was light and maybe different from the usual menthol encountered in other herbs.

The tea had an ethereal quality and produced the senses of heady elevation and cleansing for which sage smudge sticks are known. As I said before, burning sage sickens me, so I’m glad I was able to experience the pure herb in tea form. I suppose this one is a little special since it comes from my uncle’s land of Crete.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 10 OZ / 295 ML
Mastress Alita

I’ve never had a plain sage tea… I have a big bag of sage that I use to make a hair rinse, and the smell is so strong when I’m steeping it and disposing of the leaves that it is staggering, so I don’t think I’d be able to handle drinking it. I have found I like it mixed into blends though, since I had a blend with a rather generous amount of fenugreek and sage recently and I quite liked the taste of that.

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Nettle Resumé:

*10 years of experience receiving stinging lashes by 6ft tall Urtica dioica plants.
*4 hours of nursing the pain inflicted by wading through patches of stinging nettles.
*Collection of 2 plants for mounting.
*1 evening with a teabag.

Despite all that time romping around in stinging nettles’ damp environs, I never bothered to harvest them for food because why would I want to mess with something that hurt me. Somebody did the hard work for me here, yay.

The dry bag smells like, haha, flake fish food. Nutritious! Steeped, there is still a whiff of that but it is joined by a sweetness and wet green hay, russet potato, earth and grains. In the mouth it is smooth and a little oily, with tastes of citric tartness, minerals and wet green hay. It possesses more of a vegetal and grassy taste than an herbal, leafy one. My mouth is left a little slick and my tongue feels plump and tingly on the sides. The tartness persists long after finishing the mug. Interesting. I find this a nice evening drink. It feels healthy.

Boiling 8 min or more 10 OZ / 295 ML

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Always up for a trade. I keep an updated cupboard. Check it out. Don’t be shy. Message me if you want to try something :)

Most enjoyment: Wuyi and Taiwanese oolong, sheng and shou puerh, Yunnan and Wuyi blacks, Laoshan green. I also appreciate Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Darjeeling and Nepali teas, bagged tea and herbal teas/tisanes. I take my teas without milks or sweeteners except sometimes chai and the rare London Fog or matcha latte. I generally steep a tea until it has no more to give.

I’ll try anything once because it helps me learn. Not opposed to well placed herbs, flowers, fruity bits and flavorings. Just nothing cloying especially banana, caramel, coconut, cinnamon or maple.

Preference reference:

100-90: A tea I can lose myself into. Something about it makes me slow down and appreciate not only the tea but all of life or a moment in time.
89-80: Fits my profile well enough to buy again.
79-70: Not a preferred tea. I might buy more or try a different harvest. Would gladly have a cup if offered.
69-60: Won’t buy again.
59-1: Lacking several elements, has off flavors, lacks flavor, or something about it makes me not want to finish.
Unrated: Haven’t made up my mind or some other reason. If it’s puerh, I likely think it needs more age.


San Francisco, California, USA

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