152 Tasting Notes

I’m not quite sure what to think of this one.

To start I despise anise. The only way I can really stand it is if it’s in a spicy chai, buried and blended with several other flavors. Here, it’s one of the main ingredients. I will admit that the smell is much stronger than in the brew. The cocoa shell and barley make for a very velvety, smooth, grain-and-chocolate experience. It’s heavenly. It’s a little buttery and it really does remind me of biscotti! The anise serves as a back note: very, very faint but still present. I find myself craving it now and again, but I only have one cup left in my sample. Maybe that’s a sign that I should reorder. I do wish they had a 50g sized option…

Flavors: Anise, Butter, Chocolate, Grain, Smooth

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This is a unique and interesting tea. I’ve never had anything like it before. The steeped liquor is a beautiful, pale amber with the strong aroma of peanuts, soup broth, and salt. It’s very savory with a dark, buttery undertone. It’s not very heavy (surprisingly) and it doesn’t stick to the inside of your mouth like other teas with such dense flavors. It’s light to medium bodied with a mildly sweet aftertaste. The savory/umami quality makes me think of edamame, though I don’t think that’s exactly right. The flavor of butter combined with the faint, faint saltiness (and roasted/nuts) also bring popcorn to mind. Maybe popcorn cooked a little too long. I’m not getting “smoke” although the roasty notes are coming through quite strongly. It’s a little vegetal, which helps me see why others could call it a combination of roasted buttery oolong and smoky green tea. That’s a VERY accurate description. The second steep contained many of the same notes, with a little more salt and vegetal sweetness. The peanut flavor has receded, just slightly, and the aftertaste has a more lingering presence. Edamame, snap peas, and peanuts. Unexpectedly delicious. (I don’t even like peanuts.) Have I mentioned how incredibly smooth this tea is? It’s so smooth! No astringency or roughness whatsoever. If it were, I think it would ruin this tea for me. As it is it’s perfect.


It’s nice to step out of your comfort zone sometimes and try something you wouldn’t normally try. It was a huge win in this case. I’m glad I got the sampler, because otherwise I would not have wanted to try this…and now I’m entertaining the thought of getting more.

Flavors: Broth, Butter, Peanut, Popcorn, Roasted, Salt, Soybean, Sweet, Umami, Vegetal


neat…sounds really interesting


I enjoyed your tasting note on this! I really agree about the light mouth feel— it was surprisingly considering the rich taste. Maybe what I described as smoke was more of an almost-burnt flavor. Now I have to try it again!

Thomas Edward(Toad)

:) great review!, I love this tea

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Thanks so much for the sample Sil. I was painfully curious about this one!

This tea opens with a slightly tart cherry- or raisin-like flavor. It’s not astringent or bitter at all, but it’s followed with a mouth puckering dryness like wine. I’ve never had such a smooth Assam. It’s sweet and there’s a certain earthy, brown sugar flavor lurking in the background. I’m not getting much cocoa but there is a substantial maltiness that coats the mouth. Maybe I’m crazy, but I feel like I’m getting a little bit of nuttiness, like praline. It’s faint enough for me to doubt my judgment. This is a good, bold tea for breakfast without the briskness or bitter punch that some other breakfast teas have. I can’t justify buying 4oz at a time, though, so I’ll just have to enjoy my sample while it’s around. (:

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Cherry, Drying, Earth, Malt, Raisins, Red Wine, Smooth, Tart


haha i felt the same way as you did..bought a tin anyway and ended up finishing it way faster than i thought i would, such that i bought a second one

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drank Yin Zhen by Nannuoshan
152 tasting notes

Lately I’ve taken to brewing this tea before bed. I have become less meticulous about my steeping parameters; this tea is forgiving and delicious no matter how I brew it. Tonight I’m noticing a lot of cucumber, cream, and melon with a thick mouthfeel and honey floral undercurrents. There’s a wonderfully full, juicy quality to it as well. Notes of hay and fresh bread help to balance it all out. I think this is quickly becoming my go-to white tea.

(Nearly) boiling
First steep: 2min
Second steep: 3min

Flavors: Baked Bread, Cream, Cucumber, Floral, Hay, Honey, Honeydew, Melon

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I tried a blend of 2 different teas at a friend’s house recently, so I decided to stop by (gasp!) Teavana to grab myself a little of each. After a horrible, pushy interaction during which the saleswoman was rude and tried to sell me three unrelated things that I didn’t ask about, I finally got what I went for. (Even though I bought more than I needed. 2oz minimum? EACH tea?! Ugh.)

This is a combination of Caramel Almond Amaretti and Spice of Life. Ratio is about 2:1.

2tsp CAA+1tsp SL/12oz
First steep: 3min
Second steep: 4min

Herbal teas with fruit always confuse me. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to put them in an infuser or just eat them. There are a lot of fruit in both of these teas, and I couldn’t see any white tea in Spice of Life. Where is the tea?! No matter. Brewed, it smells—and tastes—a bit like spiced almond cookies or biscotti. There’s a peek of citrus. It certainly tastes like there are artificial flavorings present. That’s really unfortunate. However, I consider this to be more of a tea-like drink than actual tea. For a tea-like drink it’s quite alright. I have to add a considerable amount of sugar to bring out the cookie aspects of this drink; otherwise, it falls flat. It’s not as good as I remember. I’ll probably be drinking this before bed since it’s basically an herbal blend. I could try it when I’m craving dessert tea, but I admit, there are much better dessert-like teas out there.

Here’s my sort-of guilty admission. This blend tastes GREAT with Double Stuf Oreos dunked in it. I’m not joking. If you dunk an Oreo for a couple of seconds, it’s long enough for the icing to melt and the cookie to soften without completely falling apart. It melts in your mouth. I have a bit of an addiction when it comes to Oreos, and this makes it WAY WAY worse. Or better, however you look at it.

In a nutshell:
Tastes sort of like a cookie.
Artificial flavorings! Boo!!
Try it with Oreos. Actually, just always drink it with Oreos.

Not worth the money. I would have bought way, way less of it if I could have. Now I’m sitting here thinking of all of the other teas I could have bought instead…sigh.

Flavors: Almond, Citrus, Cookie, Nutty

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drank GABA Black by Mandala Tea
152 tasting notes

Revisiting this tea again. It tastes slightly different than what I remembered. It opens with muscatel and stonefruit—slightly sour. There is a mild smokiness and the taste of wood mid-sip, which reminds me of a ZSXZ. It definitely reminds me of other gently pine-smoked teas that I’ve had. The end of each sip finishes sweet, with honey drizzled bread and wildflowers. There is a pleasant nectar-like coating on my tongue. The tea is relatively light in body and very smooth. For a black tea, it tastes an awful lot like an oolong. (Without the mineral quality that sometimes turns me off to oolong.) It’s not surprising to learn that it’s a Tie Guan Yin varietal. This tea has some vegetal and floral undertones to it. There is a roasted nut component that becomes more apparent in later steeps. I’m upping my rating a bit because this is such an interesting tea. It leaves me with a warm, pleasant, and relaxing feeling that makes me feel tea drunk. It’s a great choice for evening. I think I might have to get more of this one.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Floral, Flowers, Honey, Muscatel, Nectar, Pine, Roasted nuts, Smoke, Sour, Stonefruits, Vegetal, Wood

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Included as a sample in my last order. Thanks Brenden. (:

This tea opens with notes of wildflower, fruit, and mild chocolate. The chocolate notes intensify mid-sip, joined by cream, malt, and a light grain flavor. There is fruit again in the finish—apricot or golden raisins, maybe—along with notes of wood. The mouthfeel is silky and clean with no astringency. It doesn’t feel heavy in the mouth. It’s light, mellow, and “fresh” feeling. It’s perfect for this time of day, because I think something heavier would unsettle my stomach. The second steep brought out some thick honey notes that reminded me a bit of WPT’s Golden Snail. I think I prefer Golden Snail, to be honest. It’s a bit thicker tastes more like buttery bread. This is certainly a good tea, and very high quality—just not my favorite from WPT!

First steep: 3min
Second steep: 5min

Flavors: Apricot, Chocolate, Cream, Flowers, Grain, Honey, Malt, Nectar, Smooth, Stonefruits, Wood

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I decided to brew this one gongfu style, following Brenden’s instructions online.

It opens with notes of cream, soybean, and oat. The first few steeps are lighter on the tongue and as I continue steeping it gains thickness in body. It becomes more buttery and vegetal, developing some light butterscotch-caramel tones. The finish is clean and a little grassy. Unfortunately, with each infusion I can’t help but notice the bite of astringency. It only seems to intensify. Those who read my tasting notes know that I’m not overly fond of green teas. I’m not particularly fond of astringency or bitterness, either, though sometimes I can ignore it. This is a case where it becomes impossible to ignore and it kind of ruins in the experience for me. I’m really sensitive to bitterness. It’s a shame, because I like the flavors I’m finding in this tea. I’m just finding it very hard to get past the bite. Maybe I should pass this one on to someone who likes greens more than I do. To me, it tastes very similar to Laoshan Green, though perhaps a bit lighter.

Flavors: Butter, Caramel, Cream, Grass, Oats, Soybean, Vanilla, Vegetal


It sounds like you may well have heated the water a little too much, and indeed might be using too high a temperature for all green teas, as this will bring out the distinctly undesirable astringency found in green tea. Bringing to before a boil, and then adding a little fresh water to cool is a good traditional method. I think you’ll find that with a cooler temperature you can experience more sweetness and less astringency. I am a person who loves light oolong, green and white teas, but high astringency really puts me off!


On an added note, usually the temperature advertised for a green tea is too high. Almost always. Give it a try.
Also, be sure not to use a lid while steeping or while not, as the steam cooks the leaves and degrades the infusion, for green teas, which also increases astringency.

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Prepared this gongfu-style with a ceramic cupping set. I followed the online brewing instructions with a 10 second rinse beforehand. Because I don’t have a scale, I measured out around 1.5 tablespoons of tea to 4oz of water. The measurements aren’t exact.

Oh my word, this is a good tea. It has notes of brown sugar, cocoa, raisins, nuts, caramel, wood, and wet earth. I didn’t notice a drastic difference in flavor from cup to cup. Nearly every flavor mentioned was present, just in varying intensities. The liquid is rich and full, silky, thick. It is decadent and sweet. There are some slight vanilla and cream undertones, though they’re not immediately apparent. The first few steeps are more earthy than the later steeps which are pure sweet, nutty, dessert-like goodness. Excellent qi in this one. I’m floaty and tea drunk on a lovely Sunday evening. Not a care in the world…

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Caramel, Cocoa, Cream, Nuts, Raisins, Vanilla, Wet Earth, Wood

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This is the tea I was most looking forward to trying. The expense put me off for a while…then it was the difficulty of placing an order before it was all snagged. Well, time to splurge, I say. I regret nothing. (Except for not buying more.)

The dry leaf smells like creamy, chocolatey gelato. It’s like chocolate infused whipped cream: smooth and sweet with the scent of custard and vanilla. I followed the instructions for western brewing. The taste is very close to the aroma. It’s silky smooth and soft like a rabbit’s fur. There are notes of dark chocolate, custard, and stone fruit underscored by the gentle suggestion of oak wood and mushroom. The finish is sweet with ringing vanilla overtones and cherry-fudge undertones. The sweetness and malt lingers long afterwards: a reminder of whipped cream, cocoa, and flavors of pine. Not any single flavor is overbearing; they all work in harmonious balance. The second steep is equally rich and decadent. Cocoa, wood, and cherry dominate with notes of heavy cream, caramel, and mushroom in the background. It’s thick like pudding and incredibly smooth. It gets even creamier as it cools.

Wow, this tea is absolutely heavenly. It could give GO a run for its money, but I know I can’t justify buying this one in large quantities. Shame!

Flavors: Caramel, Cherry, Cocoa, Cream, Custard, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Malt, Mushrooms, Oak wood, Pine, Smooth, Stonefruits, Sweet, Thick, Vanilla

Whispering Pines Tea Company

You’ll love Ambrosia too :)

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I am still relatively new to loose leaf, as I have only been drinking it since 2013. I’m amazed at how much my tastes have changed just over the past year. I have met such lovely, kind individuals on Steepster and am so glad to have become a part of this community.

Pure black teas are my favorite. I drink black tea daily and I try to keep a variety on hand. I also enjoy white tea, puerh, and the occasional oolong. Matcha is something that I love though I haven’t tried a large variety. The very good matcha that I’ve had is quite expensive. In general I try to stay away from flavored teas—especially those with artificial flavorings—but I will make rare exceptions, and I do enjoy a well crafted blend of straight teas. Things I (usually) don’t like: green oolongs, rooibos, straight green teas.

Rating System
90+ The very best! Teas that I always need in my cupboard!
85-89 Teas that I enjoy immensely and will try to keep around.
80-84 Makes a very pleasing cup. I will enjoy drinking them, but won’t necessarily try to keep around. (There are exceptions.)
70-79 Decent, but could be better.
60-69 Mediocre.
40-59 Gross. I might still try to finish the cup.
39 & under Undrinkable. I probably dumped this cup. Depending on the specific rating, I probably threw the rest of the tea out as well.

Some of my favorite tea companies are:
-Whispering Pines Tea Co.
-Verdant Tea
-Mandala Tea

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