355 Tasting Notes


Trick or Treat! I needed a reprieve from the chocolate, vanilla, and caramel and decided that lemonade is enough of a “sweet” to count for this month’s theme (it’s on soda fountains and I’ve already featured soda-themed teas, so why not?) Usually I prefer tea like this iced, but I received a single teabag of this in a past order back when B&B was still Bluebird Tea Co., so with so little leaf, I just made a single warm cuppa. And I can kind of get behind some warm hibi-hip on a cool night like tonight, even if I typically prefer to drink fruity hibi-hip blends iced.

The dry leaf smells very fruity, mostly of strawberry and lime. Steeped up, this was actually much sweeter than I was expecting. I drink a lot of hibi-hip fruit teas (I’m probably the only person on Steepster that does!) so I guess I was expecting up-front the tart and tangy fruit punchy taste I’ve just grown used to that those sort of blends always have. But this was a more of a strawberry/red berry fruity flavor chased by an apple/pineapple sweetness. I wasn’t really getting much of a citrus note coming through, though; there seemed to be a subtle citrus tanginess toward the finish, but mostly it was just a sweet berry/pineapple flavor. It was nice, even for a warm cup! But if I ever get more of this, I’ll definitely be making it as an iced tea.

Flavors: Apple, Berries, Citrus, Pineapple, Strawberry, Sweet

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

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drank Read My Lips by DAVIDsTEA
355 tasting notes

Trick or Treat! Made this as my work thermos tea. I got this as a free sample from Ost when I ordered from her cupboard sale, so thank you so much Ost! The dry leaf has a strong chocolately smell, and likewise, brewed up I’m getting a thick, chocolately aroma, a bit like warm fudge.

The taste, however, tells me this is a chocomint tea, just on a black tea base. Thus far I’ve had chocomint on rooibos and green bases, so I guess I’ve now pretty much tried that combination with everything. I’m surprised I didn’t smell the mint in the dry leaf. The tea is so sweet that I’m not getting much from the black base, aside from a very subtle spice note that comes out near the finish when some of the mintiness isn’t quite as strong. The comes on as the dominant flavor in the sip, very sweet and leaving a cooling sensation on the tongue, and there is a noticable chocolately flavor to the base, which does taste a bit darker/fudgy to me than other chocolate teas. Still, the mint comes off so strongly the chocolate and base tea are a little dominated, and I’ve had enough chocomint teas now that this doesn’t really feel very special. Not unpleasant, but nothing wowing, either.

Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Mint, Smooth, Spices, Sweet

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 14 OZ / 400 ML

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Trick or Treat! Decided to make some houjicha as my nightly cuppa tonight, as the caffeine is so mild in houjicha it should be fine as a bedtime tea. I picked this one up from Ost’s cupboard sale, so thank you Ost! This is the original version of the tea, not the reblend.

I love houjicha, but it is so hard to find houjicha blends. I really wish they were tackled more often. This is a very rich, woody, roasted houjicha base, but there is a distinct lemony flavor to the tea, which really comes out in the aftertaste; the citrus really lingers on the tongue. The lemon flavor also has a slightly floral quality to me, somehow; it reads with a bit of a floral sort of sweetness rather than fruity tart, I suppose? But aside from the slight floral sort of sweetness I get in the aftertaste, there isn’t anything particularly sweet, creamy, or that would otherwise make me think of cheesecake or associate this as a dessert tea; this is really just reading as a lemon-flavored houjicha. I’m enjoying the flavor, but I think it needs some added sweetness or creaminess to bring in the dessert element the name implies. I don’t milk or sweeten houjicha typically, but I wanted to try to get this closer to what I was imaginging, so I added just a mere tablespoon of warm vanilla almond milk mixed with a small dollap of lemon-infused honey to my cup, and that pushed in some of those sweet/creamy elements without overpowering the rich houjicha base.

Flavors: Bark, Citrus, Dark Bittersweet, Floral, Lemon Zest, Roasted, Wood

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 5 g 14 OZ / 400 ML
Cameron B.

I like the flavored Hojicha blends from Ocharaka Tea Shop on Yunomi. :)

Mastress Alita

I have the Pumpkin one! I just haven’t tried it yet… so many teas, so little time.

Cameron B.

They are a bit expensive too. In fact, I think they’re even more expensive now than I remember… :(

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It’s Doctor Who day! I saved enough of this sampler (3.5g) for my quintessential British English breakfast 16 oz. pot of tea with my McVities digestive biscuits for the episode viewing with my friend, then used up the rest of the sampler for my black tea hair rinse with my morning natural hair care shower regimen.

American Tea Room has gone out of business, and this was a free sample they gave me when I placed an order with them during their “going out of business” sale. It’s a blend of Assam and Yunnan black teas. What I find interesting is the last English Breakfast tea I drank was entirely Ceylon teas and I didn’t get any citrus notes (which is apparently common of Ceylon blacks?), and this one is lacking Ceylon blacks, but I definitely noticed a citrus note in it. Huh.

This tea had that typical malty/baked bread base, leading to a bit of a slight burnt toast flavor with a more subtle spice note mid-sip, and then a hint of citrus toward the finish. The astringency was rather mild overall, especially when I think back to the last few English Breakfast blends I’ve tried. This was a full-leaf blend rather than CTC, which may have contributed to it being a little more smooth.

Overall, a rather pleasing cup. I think now that I’ve started to experiment more with English Breakfasts (a tea I really never cared for much in the past), I’ve found that my tastes seem to fall with blends that are predominently (or entirely) full leaf and that have a strong Chinese black component to the overall blend.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Burnt, Citrus, Malt, Smooth, Spices, Toast

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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Trick or Treat! I made a big mug of this, latte-style, because I just find matcha too bitter for my tastes to take plain. This is really nice though, like a combination of hot chocolate and a matcha latte, and since there is a bitter cold wind blowing tonight, this and my fuzzy slipper socks is just what I needed to warm back up.

I used a teaspoon of matcha whisked in 200ml 175F water, mixed with 200ml warm and slightly frothed vanilla almond milk. The matcha still has a nice, pronounced grassy flavor, but there is a noticable slightly bittersweet, dark chocolate note. Mixed with the vanilla almond milk, which adds a nice off-setting sweetness and creaminess, it really does taste like a perfect fusion of hot cocoa and matcha latte. So if you’ve ever wanted a cup of cocoa with enough caffeine to keep you up for a marathon of The Great British Bake-off (now you know what I’m doing with my Saturday night, go me!) this is the drink for you!

Flavors: Cocoa, Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Grass, Sweet, warm grass

175 °F / 79 °C 1 tsp 14 OZ / 400 ML
Cameron B.

I love Great British Bake-off! Too bad I’ve seen it all… QQ

Mastress Alita

I’ve just been introduced to it and am quite addicted! I’ve blown through the first season and just started the second… I think my only complaint is how hungry it makes me, hahaha!

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drank Vanilla Swirl by DAVIDsTEA
355 tasting notes

Trick or Treat! I picked up this sampler from Ost’s cupboard sale, thank you Ost! It’s an herbal blend so I made this as my desserty before-bed cuppa tonight.

I was a bit worried by the abundance of lemongrass, which tends to be my least favorite of the lemon herbs (I like myrtle and verbena better), but the flavor actually does come out like a light lemon cream and not with that strong lemon cleaner flavor I dislike. It is quite sweet and does have notes of lemon and vanilla, but it is far more citrusy than vanilla, reminding me a bit of a lemon sorbet, so calling the tea “vanilla” swirl rather than “lemon” swirl (or at least “lemon cream” or something that evokes that citrus) seems a little odd to me?

This is nice though. It’s a flavor combo I like, especially when the citrus has that soft, sweet, meringue/dessert sort of taste and doesn’t come out like dish soap.

Flavors: Cream, Lemon, Meringue, Smooth, Sweet, Vanilla

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 3 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

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Trick or Treat! I got this tea from Par Avion Tea, but they wholesale and repackage blends from Tea Guys. Unlike some of my other Par Avion Teas, the name of this blend hasn’t since changed by Tea Guys, nor has the ingredients been updated, other than the inclusion of the preservatives sea salt and citric acid in the listing on Tea Guys website, which isn’t on my Par Avion Tea tin (though to be fair, I bet it is in there and just not listed… * cough cough * )

In any event, this tea just smells of candied ginger. And steeped… it just tastes of candied ginger, too. Where in the world is the chocolate? It lists roasted cocoa beans, dark chocolate chips, and dark cocoa powder in the ingredients, and there isn’t so much as a hint of chocolate anywhere in the flavor. None! Just a really, really sweet gingery taste (not spicy at all), like those sugary ginger candies. The flavor actually reminds me exactly of their Ginger Darjeeling Peach tea, minus the peach flavor. It’s rather bland, without any of the other flavor notes that should be in the tea coming through.

So I actually pulled out some of my leftover cocoa shells from the Simpson & Vail sampler to see if I could… I don’t know… force some chocolate flavor into this to try to make it taste how it should? That certainly helped a bit, but I still wasn’t getting strong chocolately notes, and I added half a gram of cocoa shells, so it seems to me the candied ginger is just so strong it simply overwhelms whatever they were trying to go for with a chocolately-ginger tea.

Yaaaa… I think I’ll use this one up the same way I used up the Ginger Darjeeling Peach, by cold-steeping it in lemonade, which left the lemonade with the candied ginger flavor and at least gave me some tasty lemonade, if nothing else.

Flavors: Astringent, Candy, Ginger, Sweet

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 14 OZ / 400 ML

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drank Creme Brulee by T2
355 tasting notes

Trick or Treat! This was my work thermos tea today, and after a refill on my lunch break, I have another T2 sampler down!

The base tea tasted very much like a Chinese black to me, having a somewhat slightly spicy and smoky taste, so I really enjoyed this! It was very smooth and lacked astringency. The flavoring also wasn’t too overpowering as they tend to be in dessert blends; there was a soft, burnt sugar flavor, with hints of caramel and nuts, and they just sort of added a gentle sweetness that played into the base nicely rather than steamrolling right over it. As the fall weather is starting to really set in (it’s expected to freeze tonight!), this mix of smokey black and burnt sugar syrup flavors really did it for me this morning!

Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Malt, Nuts, Smoke, Smooth, Spices

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 400 OZ / 11829 ML

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Trick or Treat! This is another sample I had stashed from the Here’s Hoping Teabox, thank you tea-sipper and participants! Decided this would be my desserty herbal of the night.

Plain ol’ cocoa shells. They smell delightfully chocolately, semi-sweet with those slight bittersweet notes I like in a good chocolate, and I always notice that tea blends that include cocoa shells rather than nibs or chips or flavoring are always so much creamier, so I’m hoping that will come through here. I used boiling water and gave it an extra long steep of around ten minutes.

The steeped aroma smelled like home-made hot cocoa, and a bit like warm chocolate dessert topping. The flavor tastes of semi-sweet chocolate or a bittersweet dark chocolate rather than a sweet milk chocolate, and as a fan of chocolate with a little bite, I am all about that! I was also getting some very subtle notes of nuts and coffee. Honestly, I enjoyed this just fine drinking a pot of this steeped plain, but am curious how this would taste in latte form (I’m imagining mixed with milk it would taste just like hot cocoa, since the milk would add that creamy texture), and I can also imagine this would be nice to have around just to add to other “chocolate” teas that just never seem to taste chocolatey enough.

When I have room in my tiny apartment for more tea again, I’ll definitely have to keep some of these in stock!

Flavors: Cocoa, Coffee, Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Nuts

Boiling 8 min or more 4 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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drank Movie Night by DAVIDsTEA
355 tasting notes

Trick or Treat! I decided I wanted to rewatch one of my favorite movies, the vampire comedy mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, so I decided to brew up this tea I received as a generous free sample from Ost when I got some teas from her cupboard sale. Thank you Ost!

This apparently is a green tea, but it didn’t appear to have any green tea leaves in mine that I could see… luck of the sampler, I guess? So I decided to brew this as an herbal, rather than how I would brew a green, with water just off the boil that would really steep the flavor out of all the dried apple pieces. The dry leaf smells just like caramel popcorn, though. I really enjoyed Angry Tea Room’s Caramel Popcorn Movie Night blend, which has a black base (and is still one of my favorite caramel black teas I’ve tried), but I do watch a lot of late night movies/TV when black tea isn’t a good option for me. Honestly, ending up without the green leaf in this so it’s just that heavily caramel-flavored apple tisane may be entirely to my favor, since something that evokes caramel popcorn but won’t make it so I can’t sleep after the movie may be exactly what I want and need!

The brewed tea is a golden yellow color and really does smell like warm caramel popcorn. The flavor, however, has such a sweet apple note to it beneath the strong caramel that the taste I’m getting is caramel apples. Which is certainly not an unpleasant flavor, and fits nicely into the fall motif right now. It has a sort of buttery sweet flavor which is very pleasant. I enjoy the taste I’m getting, but if caramel popcorn is supposed to be what it was going for, then the apple is coming through too strongly… and perhaps the fact my sample was lacking the base green tea leaf could have a lot to do with that. I imagine the green tea may have helped mellow out the apple some? Ah well, just rename it “Carnival Night” and s’all good.

Flavors: Apple, Butter, Candied Apple, Caramel, Sweet

Boiling 6 min, 0 sec 6 g 16 OZ / 473 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)
-Perfumey teas/extremely heavy floral aromas (migraine trigger)
-Gingko biloba (migraine trigger)
-Chamomile (used in blends as a background note/paired with stronger flavors is okay)
-Grapefruit (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: A sweet tisane right before bed

My Monthly Tea Theme: Trick or Treat! A sampling of dessert, candy, soda, or other sweet blends 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: 217
Sipdown Count for 2018: 175
Tea Spending for 2018: $1612.72


My Cupboard on Steepster reflects teas that I have sampled and logged for review, and is not used as an inventory for 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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