89 Tasting Notes


Adagio’s Irish Breakfast is a masterful blend of high quality, whole leaf Assam and Ceylon teas from the well regarded Meleng Estate in India and Kenilworth Estate in Sri Lanka respectively. A four minute steep at 212F produced a wonderfully complex breakfast tea with enticingly rich notes of malt, honey, baked bread, sweet fruit and a tiny bit of spice.

Some Irish Breakfast teas are in your face, brash, uncouth street ruffians with bad language, bad breath and B.O. that slap you awake! This is not one of those teas! Adagio’s Irish Breakfast is an urbane and handsome gentleman’s gentleman who graciously draws open the drapes and courteously announces in his soft, sweet, Irish accent that it’s time to awaken.

This smooth tea is quite easy to drink without additions, but is great with milk and honey too! Although a breakfast tea, this Irish blend would certainly work deliciously well at afternoon tea to revive one….gently. Naturally, it stands up to any food – savory or sweet. It was just right with my homemade, organic macaroni and cheese bake.

Adagio’s Irish Breakfast is an exquisite Irish Breakfast with real panache that has become my favorite go to tea. It’s enough to make this Anglo-Saxon Anglophile shout Éirinn go Brách!

Flavors: Baked Bread, Fruity, Honey, Malt, Smooth, Spicy, Sweet

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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drank Anastasia by Kusmi Tea
89 tasting notes

Anastasia was my first tea from Kusmi and my ultimate favorite of their venerable Russian blends. In fact, Anastasia inspired me to explore Russian tea and Russian tea culture more extensively – And what a deliciously beautiful exploration it has been!

This tea makes me want to sing!

“Anastasia, Anastasia
Beautiful stranger
Step down from your star
I only know I love you so
Whoever you are!”

Flavors: Bergamot, Citrus, Floral, Lemon, Lime, Orange Blossom, Sweet

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 10 OZ / 300 ML

I have been meaning to try this one. I think they have stopped carrying it in Chapel Hill where my best tea selection lived, so thank goodness for internet ordering!


Is it the Southern Season in Chapel Hill, ashmanra? I used to buy my Kusmi teas at the Southern Season here in Richmond. I all but cried when they closed. Their tea selection was outstanding!

I buy the Kusmi Russian Blend five pack with the cute little .88oz tins. It is a thrifty way to have my beloved Anastasia, Prince Vladimir, St. Petersburg, Bouquet of Flowers No. 108 and Troika blends at all times. I am considering ordering the 4.4oz tin of Anastasia though – Anastasia is the apotheosis of Russian tea blends!


Yes, that is where I saw it! But they have reduced their tea selection to about one fourth of what they used to carry. It breaks the heart!

Doug F

I recently discovered Kusmi tea in Europe and have enjoyed a couple of their selections.

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A creamy cup of comfort on a chilly autumn afternoon. A bit of mesquite honey and a jot of milk make for cozy vanilla bliss. And it won’t hinder my plans for a nap before dinner. Lovely.


Ooooh. That sounds 100% lovely.


It truly was, Rosehips! :)

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Darjeeling Doppelgänger! Harney’s description of this tea is quite correct – “For those unfamiliar with teas from the Nilgiri region, this falls in between First and Second Flush

This tea, although a Nilgiri, has the best of all possible Darjeeling worlds. There is a lovely sweet orange blossom floral aroma and taste evocative of a fine first flush Darjeeling. There is a strong, and I do mean strong, muscatel grape flavor of a great second flush Darjeeling. There are notes of fruit, nuts (almond) and grain similar to an autumn flush Darjeeling. The tea is quite brisk without a trace of bitterness. Rich with good body.

This is a splendid Indian tea. If you like Darjeeling like I do, then you will love this Nilgiri. And that’s a promise!

Flavors: Almond, Flowers, Fruity, Grain, Grapes, Muscatel, Orange Blossom, Sweet

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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I haven’t been drinking flavored teas lately and decided to purchase this little treasure at Richmond’s number one tea shop (salon de thé), Carytown Teas, which is the primary supplier for several cafes and hotels in the city. Patricia’s Blend is the creation of the shop’s kind and talented owner, Patricia Guillouard Adams, a native of France.

“Sweet and spicy, like its namesake”, as the shop’s description of the tea states, is right on point. The almond’s nutty sweetness, suggestive of vanilla, blends perfectly with the orange and spice. The flavors meld beautifully in the fruity organic Ceylon black tea base. As with most French blends that I have had, nothing is overdone. It is superb – My favorite flavored blend bar none.

So, Patricia, mon amie, I raise my mug and salute you – À votre santé! Merci!

Flavors: Almond, Cinnamon, Citrus, Clove, Fruity, Nutty, Orange, Spices, Sweet, Vanilla

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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It’s a rainy weekend here in the Old Dominion. Rainy weekends call for cozy teas, and man oh man this is one cozy tea! I’m watching an old Jimmy Stewart movie on Turner Classics and sipping this. It’s very smooth with lots of natural sweetness. Lovely notes of caramel, honey and burnt sugar. Nice and malty. No rough edges whatsoever. I love that it’s organic too!

Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Honey, Malt, Smooth, Sweet

Boiling 3 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

We are getting the same around Blacksburg today as well. Good tea drinking weather though. Agree as TCM rocks and so does AMC.


I love AMC too. In fact, I’m watching Forrest Gump on AMC right now. You just can’t beat watching classic movies and drinking comfort teas on a rainy weekend. Here in Richmond, we’re in for heavy rain at times through Sunday night and more rain Monday. I’m loving it!


It’s been cool and wet just west of the Virginia state line today. I wish I could have stayed home watching Jimmy Stewart films, but I’ve been out on a crisis call. Just out of curiosity, which movie was it?


More accurately, it was a Hitchcock film. It was Jimmy Stewart in the Hitchcock classic Rear Window by way of TCM online. Love Hitchcock! Love Jimmy Stewart! A double treat for me today.


Great film! That’s long been a favorite of mine.

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Nothing like a cozy camomile with which to settle in for the evening. Nice, with sweet vanilla and honey flavors. I added a bit of wildflower honey (I so love honey) that brought out a pleasant butterscotch flavor. Yummy!

Flavors: Butterscotch, Honey, Sweet, Vanilla

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

Love it when you can find a great, easy-to-find grocery store tea. Will have to chase this down locally.


Oh, I love this one! Its been too long since I had it.


This is one of my top camomile teas. You just can’t go wrong with Twinings! :)

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“Autumn Flush: The Best Darjeeling Tea You’ll (Likely Never) Taste” smugly proclaimed an October ’16 Tea Tuesday NPR story. Boulderdash! Shame on you NPR. This plain old Virginia boy has just imbibed the autumnal nectar of the Darjeeling gods!

The dry leaf had a sweet, sugarcane aroma with a suggestion of dried fruit. I used a rounded teaspoon (1.25 tsp) to 8oz of spring water. I use only spring water for fine Darjeeling. The suggested steeping time was 2-3 minutes. I steeped for 2 minutes and 45 seconds at the recommended temperature of 95C. The result was a very richly flavored Darjeeling. There was a red wine sweetness reminiscent of a fine dessert wine with notes of dates, black figs and wildflowers. Positively splendid! Hands down one of the greatest Darjeelings I’ve ever had. And NPR said it would most likely never happen. Ha! Piffle! Stuff and nonsense!

I love What-Cha Teas. They are simply the best! Very fast international shipping. Plus a much appreciated kind and thoughtful note from Alistair, who happened to mention that Red Thunder Darjeeling is one of his personal favorites. He also included a generous sample of a Nepali tea that I cannot wait to try. Thank you, Alistair!

Flavors: Dates, Fig, Flowers, Red Wine, Sugarcane, Sweet

2 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

The description of the tea was well worth reading on the tea’s main steepster page.

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“If you are cold, tea will warm you;
if you are too heated, it will cool you; If you are depressed, it will cheer you; If you are excited, it will calm you.”
-William Ewart Gladstone

Most definitely a Darjeeling kind of guy here who adores Indian tea. However, I must admit to really enjoying Keemun tea very much. Keemun is my favorite Chinese tea and I am beginning to enjoy and appreciate other Chinese teas too. Really liking Yunnan and Fujian blacks – The unsmoked Lapsang Souchong Wild Black Tea from Teavivre is especially delicious!

“Anyone who has used that comforting phrase ‘a nice cup of tea’ invariably means Indian tea.” – George Orwell

Darjeeling is the apotheosis of tea!
Darjeeling tea is at the very top of my favorite tea list. It’s the tea that first inspired me to delve deeper into the wide, wonderful world of tea – My first love, so to speak. Margaret’s Hope second flush Darjeeling, my first Darjeeling, has a special place in my heart. Darjeeling will forever reign supreme in my tea pantry! I love all Darjeeling flushes for their unique characteristics but tend to prefer second and autumn flush teas over first flush. Gopaldhara Red Thunder Gold autumn flush that I purchased from What-Cha is the most enjoyable Darjeeling I’ve had so far – An amazing tea!
I will always love Darjeeling above all other teas – Of that I am sure!
Favorite Darjeeling tea gardens -
Top 10:
Margaret’s Hope
Happy Valley

Teas that I especially enjoy:

Black Tea -

Darjeeling Tea – All Flushes!
Keemun Imperial Mao Feng
Keemun Panda #1
Hao Ya Keemun
Assam Second Flush Tea
Ceylon High Grown Tea
Yunnan Dian Hong
Nilgiri Winter Flush Tea
Ceylon Low Grown Tea
Fujian Blacks

Oolong teas are my next favorite teas after my beloved black teas. Although I drink it infrequently I do love oolong tea!

Favorite Oolong teas -

Darjeeling Oolong
Si Ji Chun “Four Seasons” Oolong
Formosa Oolong
Bao Zhong Oolong
Wuyi Oolong
Tieguanyin Oolong
Dong Ding Oolong
Ruby Oolong
Milk Oolong

My experience with white tea has all been very positive.
I especially love Kenya ‘Rhino’ Premium White Tea from What-Cha, one of my favorite teas.
White Peony is another white tea that I quite enjoy.

I am not that knowledgeable about pu-erh tea. Like white tea, my experiences with pu-erh have all been extremely positive – I have had some especially scrumptious flavored pu-erh! I am very much looking forward to learning more and broadening my pu-erh tea horizons!

With the exception of Hōjicha and Kukicha which I do enjoy very much, I not like green tea and very seldom drink it, but there are rare exceptions. Yunnan Orchid Green from Rishi is quite nice. I also love jasmine green tea as I totally adore anything floral!

Flavored teas that I particularly enjoy -

Almond – I love almond!
Black Currant
Citrus – Orange, Lemon, Lime.
Spice – Cinnamon, Clove, Nutmeg, Cardamom, Ginger, etc..
Bergamot – I love Earl Grey!
I adore all floral flavors – Rose, Jasmine, Orange Blossom, Lavender and Violet – Yes!
I quite enjoy smoky teas too – Smoky Earl Greys, Russian Caravan and milder Lapsangs.

I really love my herbal teas! Chamomile, rooibos and honeybush tisanes are my favorites. Anise, linden and peppermint tisanes are extremely good too, I think. I actually enjoy a fairly wide variety of herbal teas, especially in the evening.

I am a devotee of French tea culture. French tea culture is my favorite tea tradition and is the closest to my personal tea preferences. I adore French style teas and absolutely love Mariage Frères! Mariage Frères French Breakfast is positivity exquisite and the best tea blend I have ever had! I am fortunate to have some very pleasant memories of tea in Paris too!
As an ardent Anglophile I have a great appreciation for British tea culture as well. British Legacy Teas are among my favorites.
Also, I must say that I find Russian tea culture fascinating. I’d love to own a genuine antique Russian samovar!
I brew Western style almost exclusively but I have, however, been known to use my little gaiwan every now and then for fine Chinese tea.

I quite enjoy honey (raw, unfiltered honey only) in my tea. Summer thistle honey, orange blossom, mānuka and wild rose honey are my favorites, along with good old Nature Nate’s.
Occasionally, I will add a bit of strawberry, cherry, raspberry or blackberry jam to sweeten my tea Russian style – Yummy!

I choose organic tea whenever possible.

Favorite Vendors – Top 40:

Mariage Frères
Harney & Sons
Upton Tea Imports
Steven Smith Teamaker
Mark T. Wendell Tea Company
Grace Tea Company
Golden Moon Tea Company
The English Tea Store
Mandala Tea
Tea Trekker
Kusmi Tea
Rishi Tea
Vahdam Tea
Arbor Teas
The Whistling Kettle
Verdant Tea
Simpson & Vail
Bellocq Tea Atelier
Carytown Teas
Culinary Teas
Whispering Pines Tea
The Cultured Cup
A Quarter to Tea
Silk Road Teas
Todd & Holland Tea Merchants
The Tao of Tea
Single Origin Teas
The London Tea Merchant
New Mexico Tea Company
The Tea Table
Tin Roof Teas
The Tea Spot
Elmwood Inn Fine Teas
Capital Teas
Stash Tea Company
Celestial Seasonings

Rating Guide:

I only review and rate teas that I enjoy. Life is too short and time is too dear to dwell on subpar tea!
Anything below 70 is not something that I would tend to keep in my tea pantry or even drink again.

100 = Perfection! Teas that I cannot do without and will always be stocked in my tea pantry forever! An absolute must have tea!
90-99 = Excellent tea! I will definitely keep this tea around to enjoy regularly. Will most certainly be a staple in my tea pantry!
80-89 = Very good. Tasty tea. Would gladly drink again but not necessarily on a regular basis. Not an absolute must have tea but could, perhaps, still be found in my tea pantry…..maybe.
70-79 = Good, but nothing that sparkles. I would probably not worry about restocking this one, though it might be a serviceable tea for work.

Tea is my passion. It has become so much more than a hobby. For me, tea is a way of life. I do tinker around a bit with blending teas. My first blend, Virginia Breakfast, a blend of Imperial Keemun and a second flush Darjeeling, is sold at a wonderful French tea shop – salon de thé :) – here in Richmond. My own small claim to tea fame.

I work in the medical field – Charge nurse of an advanced dementia and hospice care unit. I am also a dementia care training instructor, so I stay pretty busy. I have a multitude of interests. Strong advocate of LGBTQ rights and animal welfare! I am a huge lover of cats – Crazy About Kitties! Very involved with helping feral cats. I love jazz, blues, classic rock, opera and Russian symphonic music, classic cinema, vegetarian cooking, gardening, gemology, vulcanology, history – Especially English history and culture. Passionate Anglophile! Love to travel. Love Merry Old England and France (Paris is heaven!), Canada, New England, Northern California and the American South. Love day trips to Washington, D.C., and the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley of my beautiful Virginia. Aviation is another major interest – Love my flight simulator. I enjoy watching baseball and like to go bowling. Ardent bibliophile as well – Vast and eclectic library!

“While there’s tea there’s hope.” — Sir Arthur Wing Pinero


Richmond, Virginia, USA

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