612 Tasting Notes

Ugh, been outta commission due to work and then the last couple days when I’ve had free time to finally backlog Steepster’s been wonky. I’ve tried a ton of good teas the past month but logging has passed me by. :/ Will try to make note here and there the ones I remember being restockable.

The pine in here is lighter than I was expecting (I’m a fiend for those evergreen and rosemary-ish notes) but gives a little mysterious oomph that makes this good as a first-thing tea on a winter morning. The tea itself is nicely morning-y TEA flavor sturdy but not bitter or drying; I found the smoothness rather remarkable given the bases. Along with Bon Bon which I got obsessed with over Christmas, this is a definite “would restock” from SST (which is nice—I’ve been underwhelmed by the more notorious Steepster faves I’ve tried like Lord Bergamot and the Assam). Alas, it’s seasonal only. But bonus, like some of my favorite low fuss (read: no finicky temps needed) Harneys it’s bag-only and good for the holiday season when I’m mostly likely to be out of town and in need of decent bagged tea.


I missed your notes;)


you are too nice! i’m been so AWOL lately, and after getting awesome swap teas, ugh. and i keep trying to post comments to folks’ notes and that doesn’t work. :( crossing my fingers tomorrow works in my favor and i can catch up some!

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drank Breakfast Blend by Fortnum & Mason
612 tasting notes

You will be so awake! Yes.

Was a little freaked out at first—to me this is a tea that NEEDS milk, which isn’t something I say very often—but as soon as I add some it becomes scrumptious. Really good! I get hints of cocoa, and the milk smooths out some of the tannins but they’re strong enough what’s left is a nice velvety softness, with contours or bumps or something that are welcome, not uncomfortable. I also appreciate the opacity in the cup when milk’s added; like a good dutiful breakfast blend, it doesn’t fade to dishwater but turns that lovely “creamy coffee” hue, with those pearl pink undertones. I could definitely drink this first thing regularly (provided I’ve got milk!). Yum. Thanks so much Dexter3657 for giving me the chance to try it; I’ve been curious a long time about it and am pleased it lives up to my hopes! Makes me feel willing to, at some point when I can get back on the horse with tea orders (ha), give F&M’s classic blends a shot.

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Even though I don’t like milk, after reading this, I feel like giving it a shot in some breakfast blend! Soy milk, maybe…


Ifjuly – Tannins? Is that the bitter, or the dry mouth part of this? I am really happy you like it. I bought this at Holt Renfrew in November. I like A&D Double Knit Blend better.

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This is from Dexter3657’s way over the top box—a million thanks!

Finally reached where Buffy hits its stride and the evenings this week have been such a pleasure—spent last night laughing my tail off at the “Band Candy” episode (grunting aloof teenage boy Giles!!). Tonight, this accompanies me—my first S&V ever! It’s crazy smooth, like headscratchingly so, and smells rich and strong (the scent of the S&V blends Dex sent me reminds me of holiday coffee grounds like Fresh Market’s Panettone…heady, roasty, strong). I think I might’ve underleafed it slightly but it was still tasty, excellent for the drafty cold weather (it won’t make up its mind here…60F one day, 30F the next). Thank you! :D

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Yay Buffy! I watched it all on Netflix this summer. Problem is when I get into a show, it is hard to get me to stop watching so I think I finished all the seasons in a matter of weeks…while in summer school.


I’m totally the same way, VariaTEA!


I was watching 24 with my hubby. We covered 8 seasons in less than 2 mos. Crazy… Hardly slept we only were able to watch after 11 because of kids

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drank Lychee Black by American Tea Room
612 tasting notes

Had for afternoon tea with the husband today. This one was actually quite good! I was a little skeptical/meh about trying it because I was so bowled over by Butiki Lychee Oolong and because these days I almost always prefer fruit flavored teas to have a green or oolong base…but this was delicious, burst-juicy lychee much like the oolong one. Huh. Wonder if lychee’s just one of those magical flavors that goes like gangbusters with tea. Threw it on the list of “if you reorder from ATR, what are some options you’d be happy about stocking up on” teas. Yum.

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Butiki’s is that good eh? I don’t know why, but I kept passing it up when I’d order. I’ll make sure to get some next time.


I considered getting a sample of this. I guess I did not make the right decision when I decided to forgo it :(


Fjellrev, to me the Butiki one is pretty much a lychee in a cup. I can’t fathom getting closer to the experience of peeling and eating them fresh over the sink without actually doing that, ha.


VariaTEA, it’s hard to know what to try with ATR ‘cause there’s so many and they can be quite hit or miss in a big way (at least for me)! They have some I adore, some I reeeeally don’t care for, and many that are just ok.


Wow, you definitely sold me then! I haven’t had fresh lychees in ever, and now I want some haha.

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drank Classic Black by Art of Tea
612 tasting notes

True to its name, this is an archetypal brisk black with that hint of tannin-y bitterness and lingering dry woody mouthfeel. Yet something about it sets it apart slightly, makes it familiar but better: the bitterness to me for some reason manifests a bit like the bitterness of the 80% cacao bars my husband likes to nibble on, that sort of brick-y, chocolate-y minerality. It may well be because I just finished prepping chicken wraps for afternoon tea and the “glue” binding everything was a lot of honey, mustard, and mascarpone, and I licked the bowl before washing up. Makes me think this would be good with sweet breakfast or dessert treats, things like honey poundcake or iced cinnamon rolls. It can definitely take the place of bold coffee any place where usually that’s what a sweet snack is screaming for. Despite the classic “some bitterness and astringency, feel those tannins” profile, there’s a smoothness, a creamy silkiness that lasts in the mouth too. Quite nice. I’m curious how this would taste mixed with something like Harney’s Rose Scented, might try that soon…

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Excellent description. Does the creamy silkiness out weigh the “some bitterness and astringency, feel those tannins” profile?


Well, to my mind they’re balanced nicely—you experience both of them distinctly. I like that. I should put the disclaimer that I seem to be more amenable to the tannic astringency in British legacy-style teas than many of the Steepsters I follow, I guess probably because I grew up drinking that style of tea and have grown fond of it (also because I’m a subtaster, so the same amount of bitterness both in drink and food that often turns people off seems just fine by me).

My experience is, the creaminess comes in the longer the tea cools. It’s at the back end of the sip.


Good to know. Thanks!

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Was caught offguard at how toasty, almost smoky this tea is in the first steep. It’s not that strange every-tea-type-all-at-once-coming-out-a-wash flavor and odd darker color the Zen Tea Yellow Bud was, more like the delicate nature of a white tea but an assertive top note more akin to smoky Chinese black tea and the sweet fullness of a Chinese green. Huh! Rather nice.

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Huh, interesting. I think I’ve only had one yellow tea, and IIRC it was sort of a cross between a green and a white. Not really to my taste, but this sounds interesting.


i had one yellow tea ages ago..i think it was from harney that blew my mind. and then it was never restocked and i forgot where i got it from..and since then all yellows have been pretty meh. teafairy sent one to me so i’m hoping that changes my stance on yellows heh


I can’t make heads or tails really of yellow tea because I’ve tried maybe four from different companies and they haven’t been remotely similar. It also seems yellow tea is pretty rarely exported and perhaps some of what I’ve tried hasn’t been actual yellow tea, not sure. But one was really dark and then tasted like a neutralized mix of every tea type, one was as close to the color of plain water as tea could be and very light but DELICIOUS, like being in a summertime vegetable garden, so good, this one was toasty a bit like a Wuyi oolong, and one was pretty much the same as a white tea. I really have no sense of what a yellow tea profile is, ha.

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Took along to do errands this morning. It’s relatively light on the bergamot; either that or the warmth of the vanilla is muting that brightness. Whatever it is, this is a nice intro to Earls if you’re afraid of that part. It’s still definitely there, with that wonderful heady Earl fragrance that gets me every time—I opened up my tumbler in the car and my husband went “Mmmm that smells good, fresh and orange-y!”—but the body and flavor are lighter than most I’ve tried. Yet it doesn’t feel wimpy or lacking. A nice “don’t think too much about it” Earl for busy days you need to be soothed, not knocked over the head with strong zesty elements.

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Sounds like a nice EG. I’m still missing my Jackson’s of Piccadilly . I don’t know, maybe it’s just a memory….

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This is surprisingly smooth and somewhat creamy, with a sweet vanilla thing going on. Has more flavor than most flavored whites I’ve tried so far, but the flavor never clashes or overwhelms the white base, a nice feat. Most (not all—Cantaloupe and Cream is a beautiful exception—but most) flavored whites I’ve tried and seen have a fruity, lemony zing to them; this has that aroma at first but it’s not in the flavor so much; it’s round and rich and decadently sweet, which I like (I’m not nuts for that lemony thing). Does evoke white chocolate and nut but thankfully without the plasticky element of actual white chocolate. Good with a cookie (who thought I’d say that about a white, even a flavored one!).

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Also had earlier today. Not bad, but I much prefer the heft and extra flavor of Scottish Morn!

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“…you can never know everything about anything, especially something you love.”
-Julia Child on food and cooking, and I think it applies to tea as well!

note: i am currently taking a break from swapping/mail of any kind as money is rather tight. i apologize! i do love to swap but i can’t afford to right now. hopefully in a month things will change.

my cupboard includes any tea i’ve ever owned, including things i’ve sipped down, in order to facilitate swaps with people and keep a record—this way i don’t get redundant samples/order duplicates to try. if you are interested in swapping, i have a separate ever-updated list of teas i actually have on hand i can PM.

i like strong, rich blacks (including some choice old skool CTCs); juicy-fruity flavored green blends; buttery chinese greens; light floral oolongs; flavored oolongs (how sacrilegious!); earl greys; smoky blends; second flush muscatel darjeelings; verdant’s straight oolongs steeped in a gaiwan (mind altering!); anything from laoshan village it seems.

favorite notes include lavender, bergamot, violet, fennel, cardamom, melon, honey, sandalwood, smoke, nuts, roasty/toasty stuff, malt, wood, leather, creamy lemon, steamed rice, artichoke, garden-sweet snap veggies, earth/soil, forest and wet bark, and mushroom.

notes i generally can’t stand (at least in tea) include jasmine, rose (ok in small doses but i often find it overpowering and then everything just smells like musty old lady perfume), astringent apple (and general fruitiness really unless it’s with green tea), and chamomile (unless i’m congested or tired).

my current favorite tea vendors are butiki and harney and sons. i’ve also found some delicious teas and/or had good customer service experiences with the following companies: capital tea ltd., the devotea, verdant, mandala, golden moon, teavivre, lupicia, taiwan tea crafts, yezi tea, den’s tea, the tea merchant, norbu, fauchon paris, tao tea leaf, zen tea, fortnum and mason, townshend’s tea, joy’s teaspoon, new mexico tea company, persimmon tree, teajo teas, whispering pines, della terra, upton imports, mariage freres, samovar, justea, teabox, american tea room, steven smith, steap shoppe, utopia tea, and andrews and dunham damn fine tea. when i’m at the grocery store my “you could do worse” brands include stash, bigelow, tazo, taylors of harrogate, whittard of chelsea, and pg tips. and it’s a fact: you can’t make classic southern sweet tea without luzianne.

top picks, fall 2013

verdant zhu rong yunnan black
verdant laoshan black
thepuriTea hong jing luo (no longer available :( )
thepuriTea red dragon pearl (no longer available :( )
mandala morning sun
golden moon honey orchid
verdant golden fleece
taiwan tea crafts red jade
yezi tea zheng shan xiao zhong “scotch” tea
capital tea borsapori estate assam tgfop1 (spl)
butiki khongea golden tippy assam
butiki giddahapar darjeeling extra special
upton imports fikkal estate
golden moon sinharaja
harney and sons new vithanakande
persimmon tree vintage black
teajo teas black manas
justea kenyan black
harney and sons kangaita op

morning blends:
butiki the black lotus
harney and sons queen catherine
harney and sons eight at the fort
harney and sons big red sun
harney and sons scottish morn
golden moon irish breakfast
harney and sons irish breakfast
utopia tea english breakfast
fortnum and mason breakfast blend (needs milk!)
andrews and dunham double knit blend
steven smith no. 25 morning light
butiki irish cream cheesecake

earl greys and scented afternoon blends:
teajo teas silky earl grey
harney and sons viennese earl grey
upton imports lavender earl grey
american tea room victoria
lupicia earl grey grand classic
harney and sons tower of london
tao tea leaf cream earl grey
zen tea earl grey cream
della terra earl grey creme
upton imports season’s pick earl grey creme vanilla
upton imports baker street afternoon blend
harney and sons russian country
della terra professor grey
verdant earl of anxi

flavored black:
herbal infusions moose tracks
american tea room brioche
steap shoppe cinnamon swirl bread
della terra oatmeal raisin cookie
butiki nutmeg cream
kusmi caramel
david’s tea brazillionaire
lupicia banane chocolat
butiki hello sweetie
fauchon paris raspberry macaron
butiki blueberry purple tea
herbal infusions marshmallow snowflake earl grey
herbal infusions creme brulee chai

pu erh:
mandala loose and luscious lincang 2007 shu/ripe pu erh
mandala special dark 2006 shu/ripe pu erh

verdant shui jin gui wuyi oolong
verdant hand-picked early spring tieguanyin
butiki 2003 reserve four season oolong
harney and sons formosa oolong
tea merchant silk dragon
golden moon coconut pouchong
zen tea coconut oolong
american tea room coconut oolong
teavivre taiwan jin xuan milk oolong
butiki flowery pineapple oolong
butiki lychee oolong
lupicia momo oolong supergrade
butiki strawberry oolong
butiki pumpkin milkshake darjeeling oolong
52teas tiramisu oolong

verdant laoshan bilochun green
verdant autumn harvest laoshan green
tao tea leaf hou kui
harney and sons tencha
harney and sons gyokuro
new mexico casablanca
butiki with open eyes
american tea room nirvana
joy’s teaspoon mahalo
den’s tea pineapple sencha
harney and sons tokyo
butiki potato pancakes and applesauce
butiki holiday eggnog and pralines
den’s tea organic genmaicha with matcha
golden moon hojicha

butiki cantaloupe and cream
butiki champagne and rose cream

no caf:
harney and sons soba buckwheat
butiki birthday cake
della terra lemon chiffon
52teas strawberry pie honeybush
butiki mango lassi
joy’s teaspoon italian dream
butiki coconut cream pie rooibos
butiki peppermint patty
persimmon tree mint chocolate chip rooibos
art of tea velvet tea
fusion teas chocolate cake honeybush
american tea room choco-late
steven smith no. 40 bon bon
townshend’s tea dark forest chai
utopia tea decaffeinated earl grey cream

sleep aid/medicinal/therapeutic:
new mexico extra sleepy bear
stash white christmas
verdant ginger sage winter spa blend
samovar turmeric spice
butiki the killer’s vanilla guayusa

coldsteeped wonders:
whispering pines manistee moonrise
harney and sons fruits d’alsace
utopia tea berkshire apple and fig
culinary teas peaches and cream
butiki peach hoppiTea
butiki ruby pie
whispering pines gingerade

besides tea

born in seoul, raised in new england and upstate new york, went to college in pittsburgh, currently in memphis with an eye toward philadelphia, portland, or asheville eventually.

i like cats, most beverages really (i also like good freshly roasted coffee, craft beer, wine, whiskey and gin-based cocktails, and soda/soft drinks like agua fresca), art (mainly writing but also visual and music) and critical theory, feminism/genderqueer politics, historiography, statistics, children’s literature and librarianship, travel, and food/cooking. also have recently gotten into weightlifting (mark rippetoe and stumptuous!) and sprint training (HIIT, plyometrics) and i love it.


Memphis, TN



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