177 Tasting Notes

drank Plum Oolong by Art of Tea
177 tasting notes

May Flowers! Another of my very old Art of Tea samplers I’ve been meaning to finish off, and since I made a quart of iced tea out of this, this is a sipdown!

I bought this because I had the most lovely Plum Oolong at a teashop called Shangri La in Boise, Idaho, once, but it is obvious that this tea was not their source; it tastes nothing like the tea I had in that shop. I’m pretty disappointed with it. The base just… doesn’t really have much oolong, if I’m to be honest, so it comes across a lot more to me as a hibi-hip tea with lots of schizandra berries in it. Which is fine… if I wanted a fruity hibi-hip tea. But I wanted a plum-flavored oolong. I get maybe some hints of a somewhat roasted earthiness from oolong leaves, but honestly… it just doesn’t seem to do a whole lot. There is a slightly sweet-tart fruity berry flavor to the tea, but honestly the flavor I’m getting doesn’t really make me think of plums much at all. The overall impression I get? A really watered down cough syrup.

I won’t miss this one. Alas, my search for a good plum oolong continues…

Flavors: Berry, Earth, Medicinal, Roasted, Sweet, Tart

Iced 8 min or more 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

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Decided to try another of my old Fusion Tea samplers. After finding another soured coconut tea that I had to throw out, I picked this one since it was older, and had coconut in it. Surprisingly, this one was fine. (I may never understand which of my teas are spared the coconut curse and which ones aren’t!)

Opening the bag, this stuff smells great. It has a lovely spicy scent, but with a nice sweetness. The brewed up smells lovely as well, with a sweet spiciness that really reminds me of the dessert. The flavor of the tea is great; the rooibos/honeybush base is really smooth, and I get really nice notes of cinnamon, clove, honey roasted nuts, and a slight maple sweetness. It all comes together nicely and really reminds me of a spiced slice of carrot cake. This is definitely a great sweet-tooth tea for the evenings!

Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Honey, Maple, Nutty, Smooth, Sweet

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 14 OZ / 414 ML

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May Flowers! I got this at the same time I got the Sparkling Wine tea (man, do I love that stuff!) because it was their “signature blend,” and as much as I wanted to like this… ya… it just isn’t for me. The leaf looks great; a nice oolong base (my favorite type of tea, by far!) and lots of flower petals; nothing about it looks like this is going to be a really chamomile-heavy tea. But when I brew it up, all I can smell and taste is chamomile. For all the lovely, beautiful rose petals, I don’t get so much as a hint of rose flavor to help subdue some of that chamomile flavor, which is a shame, as I love rose, and though the tea boasts citrus flavoring, I can only very subtly make out a slight lemon flavor toward the end of the sip; it certainly isn’t strong enough against the chamomile to make this a pleasant cup for me. The tea does have a nice, silky mouthfeel from the oolong, but since I’m not really a fan of the taste of chamomile and only like it as a background note or more subdued against other, stronger flavors, this strong, “in your face” chamomile-tasting tea just isn’t for me. I plan to gift this to a friend who will hopefully appreciate it more than me.

Flavors: Floral, Lemon

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 14 OZ / 414 ML
Lexie Aleah

I need to crack open that Sparkling Wine one you sent over myself pretty soon. It’ll be a good one to drink while doing yard work with the family. I always am surprised when people don’t like chamomile. I really enjoy it but also have drunk it since childhood.

Mastress Alita

It’s pretty much the only floral I don’t like… but I like all the tea ingredients that everyone else tends to hate (hibiscus, rosehip, licorice root, stevia). Chamomile comes off with a strange, almost soapy flavor to me. (And I know people who say that about lavender, and I’ll add lavender to just about anything… I love that stuff). I can drink chamomile, it doesn’t make me gag or anything, but I don’t particularly like it. When it’s mixed with other things so it isn’t the main flavor and there are lots of other flavors that sort of overpower it in the tea, it doesn’t bother me at all. When it is all that I taste, then something about it is really off-putting to me.

Lexie Aleah

Interesting and I’m the same way except I only like heavy hibiscus teas iced or hot with something to tone it down.

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May Flowers! This tea came from from the last Here’s Hoping Teabox, so many thanks to the individual that shared this tea in the box and tea-sipper for organizing the box!

The leaf has a very nice chocolately scent, and there is still an ample amount of chocolate and white chocolate chips and rose petals in the leaf. The steeped cup smells very much like hot cocoa! The flavor of this tea is absolutely lovely! I was worried it would have lost a bit of steam due to age, but the tea is extremely smooth, has no bitterness or astringency, and still has a very strong chocolate taste, that actually does remind me of a soft, dark truffle. The rose is a more subtle flavor, but does come out as a floral sweetness right toward the end of the sip.

Simply lovely; I’d love to see this one get a retro reblend sometime!

Flavors: Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Rose, Smooth, Sweet

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 14 OZ / 414 ML

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drank White Rose by T2
177 tasting notes

May Flowers! My second tea this month with the name “White Rose,” but at least this one makes sense to me, as it is actually a rose-flavored white tea (the other one was a black tea!) And while I love my White Rose black tea (which is a blend of rose and cream flavors, and has a very strong rose flavor), it can veer toward the astringent side because of the Assam. Though this tea doesn’t have the added cream note that I like, it also doesn’t have the astringency of the black tea, so I was quite interested in this one… Also, I was able to pick it up from T2 for free! (They weren’t able to fulfill an item on my order I made right after Christmas, so they sent me a giftcard for the inconvenience, which I cashed in during a “free shipping” sale. Woo!)

This is a great tea for rose lovers! It has a very light, silky mouthfeel, with a very strong rose flavor! It’s floral and leaves a sweet lingering taste in the mouth that has a subtle peppery note that I notice with other teas that have a nice, strong, rose flavor that comes through in the tea. I think the natural light, smooth, floral white base works especially well to carry the flavor.

If I’m in the mood for a stronger morning tea or a rose-flavored latte, I’ll stick with my other (black) White Rose, but this is definitely my pick for a refreshing light rose-flavored tea or an evening sipper. Yum!

Flavors: Floral, Pepper, Rose, Smooth, Sweet

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 14 OZ / 414 ML
Lexie Aleah

Free Shipping sale? Oooh I’m Jealous now. Haha

Mastress Alita

It was just a luck of the draw sort of thing… I was browsing and saw it and it was one of those flash sale sort of things, so I was like, “Yup, cashing in that gift card now.” They normally have high shipping so I figured I’d never even use it unless I had a reason to make a large order again in the future, heh.

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May Flowers! I had a single serving of this tea, compliments of the last Here’s Hoping Teabox organized by tea-sipper, so thanks to all that contributed to the box and tea-sipper! Since I had just enough leaf for a small cup, I brewed this western-style.

The steeped cup smelled like warm honey and roasted nuts. The flavor of the tea was familiar somehow… I think it is reminding me of Fusion Tea’s discontinued Lemon Rose Bud tea, just without the lemon citrus notes. But the oolong base tastes very familiar to that tea to me; it has a malty, roasted flavor that is a little earthy, nutty, but has a sweet finish that tastes of burnt sugar, honey, and roses. I also get the same slight citrus orange note from this tea that I remember tasting in the Lemon Rose Bud tea. The one odd thing is that for a tea called “Wild Orchid Pearl Oolong,” I am tasting no orchid at all. A floral rosy taste, yes, but orchid? Perhaps it’s because my tastebuds were so overwhelmed drinking this back-to-back with the Zhushan Natural Oolong, which was orchid-flavor-overload, but I am just not getting a trace of orchid note here.

Despite not getting what is on the label, this is a delicious tea. I was so upset to discover that Lemon Rose Bud tea was discontinued, and now I’m finding this tea has a similar enough taste to scratch that itch for me, so perhaps I’ll make this a replacement.

Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Honey, Malt, Orange, Roasted nuts, Rose

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 14 OZ / 414 ML

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May Flowers! So, this ended up being another overleafed gong fu attempt… I wonder when I’ll figure out the secret? Seems that any time I look up what I should be doing based on the amount of water it holds and the type of tea I’ll be brewing, I need to take about a gram off of what the estimates say or my results are too bitter to drink. Because both times now that is what I’ve done, and my second attempt has been fine…

I used 4g of leaf in my 150 ml beginner’s gaiwan (though to be fair, I only fill it about halfway since I’m making a single cup, and even then I end up emptying a bit of each infusion into a “drainage” cup), at 190 F using a first steep of 20 seconds with subsequent steeps starting at 10 seconds and increasing in 5 second intervals. My session was a quick 7 infusions before my tea felt weak enough that I decided to wrap things up.

This tea has a very vegetal dry smell, but steeped has a very strong, perfumy aroma. In fact, the aroma was almost as perfume-floral potent as Jasmine Pearls… phew. And that isn’t exactly my tea, because of the extremely heady aroma. So the first few infusions were a bit strong for me, with a very thick floral orchid taste and scent. This is probably the most orchid oolong I have ever had! There was a very subtle hint of a nutty taste and a bit of cinnamon left on my tongue in the aftertaste. Around the fourth and fifth infusions the tea mellowed out a bit, and those were probably the most pleasant infusions, as the floral had tamed itself a bit more to my liking, and the aroma wasn’t so overwhelming. By the sixth and seventh steeps, the flavor was still pleasant, but noticably starting to loose steam.

Unlike many oolongs I’ve tried, I didn’t really notice the flavor changing from infusion to infusion, so in the future this is probably an oolong I’ll prepare western style instead; I think that may also produce a slightly less overwhelmingly “perfumey” experience out of the gate as well, which is the one thing about this tea I didn’t like. Perfumey teas tend to aggrevate my head the way strongly scented hand lotions or perfumes do, as far as migraines go, so I tend to avoid them. The mid-infusions didn’t have that problem, so I think a western brew will do this tea well, so I do plan to explore it again.

The tea was just a bit one-note… granted, it was a note I enjoy, flavor-wise, but the strong aroma, lack of flavor versatility, and short staying power don’t make this a favorite oolong overall. It is certainly a good choice for a strong floral hit that isn’t jasmine, though!

Flavors: Cinnamon, Floral, Nuts, Orchid, Perfume

190 °F / 87 °C 4 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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drank Sleep Tight by T2
177 tasting notes

May Flowers! Time for another of my T2 sampler stash. This tea has a lemon balm base (which I enjoy much more than lemon grass, though not quite as much as lemon myrtle), and has three different florals in it: lavender, rose petal, and jasmine blossoms. Since I’m a big lavender fan, I was happy to see there was a lot of lavender in the dry leaf of my sampler.

The scent of the tea comes off a little bit like chamomile, but the flavor is very different; it’s a subtle citrusy base, with a minty floral lavender top note, and a softer, sweet floral finish. Lemon, mint, and lavender notes are the most notable flavors in the cup. I find the tea very sweet and soothing, and would recommend it to those that like a strong lemon-lavender flavor profile in a tea.

Flavors: Citrus, Floral, Lavender, Lemon, Mint, Sweet

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 14 OZ / 414 ML

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May Flowers! This is one of the teas that came in my mega-Bluebird cupboard sale from tea-sipper (thanks, tea-sipper!) and this seems like a very appro-po time to try it!

I can’t drink a plain, jasmine-scented tea as they are just too strong for me and come off to me like drinking perfume because of the aroma, which aggrevates my migraine-head much the same way as standing next to someone wearing too-strong perfume, but I’ve found I’m usually okay with teas that are lightly scented, by blending jasmine teas with other teas, or just including the flower blooms or petals into a blend with other scents and ingredients. When I brewed up this tea, I could definitely smell a jasmine aroma, but it wasn’t the strong, overpowering aroma I got from my experience trying jasmine pearls, it was softer, sweeter, but still very floral.

The taste of the tea was wonderful; this is the kind of jasmine tea I could drink all day! The pear base is lovely; it’s a lighter pear taste than, say, the strong juicy taste of 52Teas Pear Chai, but the jasmine notes come through easily so the two flavors blend nicely. There is the slightest bit of fruit tanginess, followed by a soft, floral sweetness. Overall, I’d say this is probably one of the nicest green blends I’ve tried and really hope Bird & Blend Co. gives it a reboot at some point!

Flavors: Floral, Jasmine, Pear, Smooth, Sweet, Tangy

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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May Flowers! I was gifted this tea by a volunteer at the library; it’s one of only two Steven Smith Teamaker teas I’ve seen locally in town, which is a shame, because as far as “bagged tea” goes, whole leaf in sachets is certainly my preference (sachets don’t leave an unpleasant taste in the water that I notice from paper bags, and I just have a general preference for whole leaf over crushed). I wish we had more options of this brand in my local grocery… especially since this particular blend has a heavy chamomile base (I immediately could tell from the scent when I opened the bag!), and I’m just not really a chamomile fan, despite my love of floral teas.

There are a lot of other things in this tea too: rooibos, hyssop, linden flowers, lemon myrtle, rose petals, safflower, cyani flowers, and natural flavoring, so it very much is a very floral blend, but the steeped cup still had a very strong chamomile scent. The taste was… eh. Definitely not my favorite because of the strong chamomile presense, but there did seem to be a slight honeyed note from the rooibos (which I honestly wish had been stronger), and an overall sweet floral touch. I think if the rooibos and lemon myrtle had been stronger flavor notes in this blend it would’ve been a bit more to my personal tastes, but I didn’t find it undrinkable, and I certainly have had chamomile teas that I found entirely unpalatable, so there was something here that was done right. A teaspoon of my lemon-infused honey even makes it quite pleasant.

A soothing tea with a nice floral touch, and fans of chamomile will definitely like this. There’s enough nuances it doesn’t come off as a plain chamomile tea, but it is similar enough to scratch that itch if you enjoy that sort of tea.

Flavors: Floral, Honey, Sweet

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 14 OZ / 414 ML

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Hi! I’m Sara, a middle-aged librarian living in the Pacific Northwest, USA. I’m a big ol’ sci-fi/fantasy/anime geek that loves fandom conventions, RuPaul’s Drag Race, coloring books, simulation computer games, and cats. I’m also a chronic migraineur. As a surprise to no one, I’m a helpless tea addict with a tea collecting and hoarding problem! (It still baffles me how much tea I can cram into my little apartment!) I enjoy trying all sorts of teas… for me tea is a neverending journey!

Favorite Flavors:

I love sampling a wide variety of teas! For me the variety is what makes the hobby of tea sampling so fun! While I enjoy trying all different types of teas (pure teas, blends, tisanes), these are some flavors/ingredients I enjoy:
-Sweet/licorice root/stevia
-Bergamot (in moderation)

Disliked Flavors:

There are not many flavors or ingredients that I don’t like. These include:
-Bananas/banana flavoring
-Smoke-scented teas (lapsang souchong)/heavy smoke flavors (migraine trigger)
-Jasmine-scented teas (though jasmine buds/petals or a very light blending of a jasmine-infused tea with stronger flavors are okay) (migraine trigger)
-Gingko biloba (migraine trigger)
-Chamomile (used in blends as a background note/paired with stronger flavors is okay)
-Extremely spicy/heated teas
-Plain raspberry leaf (used in blends as a background note/paired with stronger flavors is okay)
-Medicinal flavors
-Metallic flavors
-Overly strong artificial flavorings

With the exception of bananas and migraine triggers, I’ll pretty much try any tea at least once!

My Tea Obsession of the Moment: Lavender, Chinese Black Teas

My Monthly Tea Theme: May Flowers! – A sampling of different floral teas from my collection.

My Rating Scale:

90-100 – Top tier tea! These teas are among my personal favorites, and typically I like to keep them stocked in my cupboards at all times, if possible!

70-89 – These are teas that I personally found very enjoyable, but I may or may not feel inclined to keep them in stock.

50-69 – Teas that fall in this range I enjoyed, but found either average, lacking in some way, or I’ve had a similar tea that “did it better.”

21-49 – Teas in this range I didn’t enjoy, for one reason or another. I may or may not finish them off, depending on their ranking, and feel no inclination to restock them.

20-1 – Blech! My Tea Hall of Shame. These are the teas that most likely saw the bottom of my garbage can, because I’d feel guilty to pass them onto someone else.

Note that I only journal a tea once, not every time I drink a cup of it. If my opinion of a tea drastically changes since my original review, I will journal the tea again with an updated opinion and change my rating.

New Teas Tried for 2018: 85
Sipdown Count for 2018: 74
Tea Spending for 2018: $989.37


My Cupboard on Steepster reflects teas that I have sampled and logged for review, not necessarily teas I currently own at the present moment. An accurate and up-to-date listing of my current tea inventory can be viewed here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1AvGT1XwgJUTErt3zhjpHbXf6HNS3k_Ym85zoHJPmhX4/edit?usp=sharing . A downloadable spreadsheet version with more detailed information can be acquired here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1D2J0sUMNItRsf0jBRBR6XDFUimm60f0o/view?usp=sharing . If you are interested in tea exchanges (US only, please), feel free to contact me!


Idaho, United States



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