123 Tasting Notes

Well, hmmm. So far I’ve tried 4 genmaichas: Numi’s bagged, loose tea from The Path of Tea, Genmaicha from David’s Tea, and this one.

I instantly loved Numi’s and continued to do so despite the bags. I instantly loved the first cup I made from The Path of Tea, but subsequent cups not so much. I did not instantly love either David’s Tea Genmaicha or Den’s Genmaicha Extra Green with Matcha.

I feel these extremely inconsistent results are mostly my fault. I haven’t achieved the correct temperature and steep time for any of the loose teas yet, and haven’t been able to reproduce the good experience I had with my first loose genmaicha. So I am not going to rate Den’s yet.

The instructions say to use boiling water, 1 tsp leaves, steep for 30 seconds. This is quite different from what David’s Tea recommends for their Genmaicha (165F and steep 2-3 minutes.)

I was interrupted by my boss so the water was probably more like 175-180, but I was careful re: the quantity and steep time. What I ended up with is not bitter, but it is a bit insipid and lacking in sweetness or toastiness. I’ll try for boiling water and a 15-second steep on my second cup, as recommended by Den’s.

Second steep: I also used less water. We may be getting there.

175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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Thanks to ashmanra for the sample! I now have a 20-sachet tin of this stuff on order, along with two of the other varieties offered by Harney’s Ambessa Tea. (The Lingonberry Green is out of stock, boo-hoo.) If you go to the Harney’s website, search for the keyword Ambessa to see all 4.

I guess I am a sucker for chocolate teas. This reminds me very much of Florence, which I love. Maybe after I get my tin of this I’ll have a chocolate tasting day between ChocoNut, Florence, and Love Tea #7.

I drank this without any additives like sweetener or milk or cream, and it’s so smooth and rich that it doesn’t need any. It is best before cooling, but I’ll bet it would make an excellent iced tea latte with a bit of agave and some half-and-half.

I left the sachet in the cup and it never got bitter on me. Of course, I drank it pretty quickly…

And the dry tea smells lovely, too.

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 30 sec

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drank Roastaroma by Celestial Seasonings
123 tasting notes

Not tea. Not coffee. Not chocolate. Not bad!

This is very weird stuff, but I like it — maybe more than I expected to. It’s also kind of a historical research project for me, as something similar to this blend was apparently used in the American South when real coffee wasn’t available because of the blockade during the Civil War. Roasted grains + chicory was a common coffee substitute.

It looks like coffee. The half-and-half sank into it the same way it sinks into coffee. It definitely doesn’t taste like coffee. I get the carob a bit. Can’t find the star anise or allspice or even the cinnamon. I was thinking the cinnamon would be quite strong.

Far out.

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 45 sec

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drank Guangzhou Milk Oolong by DAVIDsTEA
123 tasting notes

HEY! This is my 100th!

This is the last of the samples I got with my order and I put off trying it because…because…because the name was boring! (I mean, come on. They sent me Love Tea #7 and Strawberry Shortcake and some kind of milky oolong?)

I was so wrong. I’m on my second steeping now and am going to pop for the 100 gram tin. Then I have to stop buying tea for awhile.

Buttery, creamy. Just like everybody said before. So interesting! How can tea do this? I started out on Steepster thinking I wanted to learn about black teas but the oolongs and some green teas are really fascinating.

Having this with coconut lemongrass chicken and I almost don’t want to eat because it might disrupt the tea flavors.

Oh, and why does the packet say to steep 4-7 minutes? So glad I didn’t pay attention to that.

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 15 sec

Happy 100! And what a great tea for your 100th review


Am on 4th steep and it’s still making me happy. The flavor is a little light by now, but it still smells delicious.


Yay for 100th!!!! :)

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Decided to try this one because of the repeated mention of “light smokiness” because that’s one of my favorite elements in tea.

So I was surprised that the aroma was sweet and flowery! I still can’t identify the specific flower it reminds me of — just a sweet, old-fashioned nosegay, I guess.

I added a little fat-free milk and sipped. Oh, I do like this. Still flowery, but with the expected faint smokiness and a totally unexpected chocolate something at the back of my tongue. I was truly surprised and disappointed when I relized I had finished the first cup.

Boiling 5 min, 15 sec

I have been wanting to try this. I guess I really must buy it next time I go to Chapel Hill! They have it loose leaf there. Christmas Tree Shops sells it in bags, though!


This was one of my “gateway teas” to becoming a full-fledged teahead! I should find some for nostalgia :)


It is really good! I think I might have to buy some when I am in the US next time…


Second cup didn’t seem as flowery but was still very tasty. Maybe I didn’t steep it as long. I’m glad I bought it.

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drank Strawberry Shortcake by DAVIDsTEA
123 tasting notes

Another sample that came with my David’s Tea shipment. I appreciate the opportunity to try it, but I don’t think I’ll buy it — it was fairly ordinary sweetish, kinda fruity, but it did not proclaim either strawberries or shortcake to me.

205 °F / 96 °C 6 min, 15 sec

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drank Love Tea #7 by DAVIDsTEA
123 tasting notes

Got this as a sample with my David’s Tea order. I thought it was Daniel Scott, or maybe Daisy Chubb, who recommended using the entire sample and brewing strong. Now I can’t find who said that. But that’s what I did!

Hoo, boy!

I don’t know that I can add much more but this is delicious. I actually brewed it a little too long, more like 5-6 minutes I estimate, and it’s not bitter. I added half-and-half after a single sip but that’s mainly because I wanted it to be as decadent and dessert-y as it could be without adding sweetener, which it does not need. I think I would also like it just fine plain.

The roses are coming in as an aftertaste. The fresh-strawberry-with-chocolate is definitely prominent. I’m struggling not to gulp it down because it’s so good and I don’t have any more.

Until the next order. Mwa-ha-ha!

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 30 sec
Daisy Chubb

This one is so easy to fall in love with! Delish!


Yep, just as I was telling myself I don’t need to order more tea. I got some Strawberry Shortcake as a sample, too.


It really is amazing tea!

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drank Northern Lights by DAVIDsTEA
123 tasting notes

Stunt tea, strange and wonderful. Drinking it plain, there’s a tinge of sweetness from the apple pieces but mostly I’m getting peppermint and juniper. Very palate-cleansing!

And very weird. But definitely worth at least sampling, if the description appeals to your taste, imagination, curiosity, whatever.

205 °F / 96 °C 7 min, 0 sec

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drank Cherry Blossom by DAVIDsTEA
123 tasting notes

Hmm. Sweet, not unpleasant, but doesn’t rock my boat. I tasted plain, added Sugar in the Raw and tasted again, added half-and-half and tasted again.

Not as delicate as I expected, not as distinctly cherry-flavored, no discernible tea flavor. I will withhold a numerical rating for now — maybe the cherry bits settled in the packet and that’s not why I’m tasting them in this first cup. The packet was very full.

I poked around in the wet leaves left in my infuser and didn’t spot anything except tea leaves and coconut pieces. That tends to bear out my theory that I didn’t get any cherry bits, rose petals, or bits of rosebud in the basket — probably just the aroma absorbed by the leaves.

The dry scent was fruity-floral. That’s sort of what I’m tasting, too. I can tell it isn’t jasmine, but I would be hard-pressed to identify it as rose in the background.

I’ll try this one again and post an update in a day or two.

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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drank Genmaicha by DAVIDsTEA
123 tasting notes

Yay, I got my David’s Tea shipment!

Just awhile ago I wrote about my errors with The Path of Tea genmaicha, which was lovely brewed in my French Press at home with an appropriate amount of tea and a carefully timed steep. When I used my Tea for Life set, the curved blue cup with the metal infuser, I blew it.

So, mindful of that, with David’s Tea I used the Tea for Life set again, but measured only a gently rounded tablespoon and steeped for about 2 1/2 minutes.

The dry tea looks like it’s about half tea (fairly regular, needle-shaped leaves about 3/4 inch long) and half toasted rice, with a fair amount of popped rice kernels. It looks pretty much like the photo. Could not really detect a toasty smell in the dry form.

Steeped, I have the lovely toasty aroma rising from the cup, not with the buttery note I found in The Path of Tea version, but pleasant.

First sip: seem a bit weak. I think it needs a bit more in the filter when made this way. I’ll try increasing the amount of leaf slightly next time and steep it for the same amount of time. I may try a re-steep, adding another teaspoon of fresh dry leaf. And I’ll try it in the French press tonight or tomorrow.

Going to withhold a numerical rating for now, but so far it’s quite nice and I’m looking forward to more tweaking.

Update: I just tried Daniel Scott’s discovery of this technique and I’m getting much stronger toast notes this way even though the tea has cooled down quite a bit:

1. First, exhale completely.
2. Take a sip of tea.
3. Hold the tea in your mouth across your entire tongue and inhale deeply through your nose.
4. Swallow.

Update 2: Re-steeped as planned, with addition of another tsp or so. Pleasant but still not there. Next time will try with more leaf to start with.

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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That isn’t Angus; nor is it Merle, Finn, Dulcie, or Squeaky Jess. It’s a very focused Scottish wildcat.

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