791 Tasting Notes


My last remaining Rishi tea! This was another one that Todd asked me for a “top up” after his “Sara’s Old Tea Advent Calendar,” so a) I have a lot less leaf to work through for sipdown and b) I expect it to go fast because the last tea that Todd really liked and requested a top up of was really freaking good.

The package instructions suggest 8g for 8 oz of water?! Do they expect me to clean rust off my intestines?! For me, a “stronger” than normal cuppa is adding a gram to my typical 2.5g for 12 oz. Yaaaaaaa… I think I’ll just make it my way, Rishi. 2.5g leaf, 350ml water (boiled to 205F but had cooled to 195F when I realized the kettle was ready… I just decided to use it as was), steeped for 3 minutes(ish).

The steeped cup smells like roses, which immediately has me excited! Also a fruity scent that is somewhere between lychee and orange zest, and a very sweet aroma as well, reminding me of cream. On the sip I’m definitely getting the purported lychee and rose, as well as warm baked bread, honey, and a strong lingering orange marmalade taste after the sip. The tea has a very mild drying sensation after the sip, but the flavors are smooth and lacking any bitterness.

Dare I say this is a Chinese black that is up there with unsmoked lapsang for me?!

During my staycation, I really have to get out of the house some (just too much stir crazy/cabin fever vibes going on), so I’ve decided to visit at least one or two “new to me” local, independantly/family-owned businesses in my community that I have never been to. Today I found a cupcakery I didn’t even know existed! I got a Cookies & Cream, Apple Cinnamon, and Lemon Blueberry cupcake, and am enjoying this cuppa with the Lemon Blueberry one for teatime. It is wonderful paired with the bright, tangy and sweet citrus notes of the cupcake!

Flavors: Baked Bread, Cream, Floral, Fruity, Honey, Jam, Lychee, Orange Zest, Rose

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

Those cupcake flavors sound delicious! We’re considering checking out a doughnut shop near us this week. Their doughnuts are $3.50, so if they’re not 3.5 times better than our usual place, we won’t be back :P


Agreed, those cupcakes sound tasty. It’s always fun to check out local businesses, especially if treats are involved!


Cupcakes! Sounds like a good day overall.

Mastress Alita

I was highly amused that my cat took interest in the Apple Cinnamon one. She tried eating the wrapper, haha. Testament to their tastiness.

Martin Bednář

Oh those cupcakes sounds super great!


We lost our Smallcakes (fancy pants cupcake boutique) about a year ago and I am sorely missing it.

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Happy National Compliment Day! Unsmoked Lapsang Souchong is one of my very favorite teas!

I’ve technically reviewed this before, under the listing for Dazzle Deer (as I hadn’t realized at the time they wholesaled from Teavivre), though I’m fairly certain that was a 2017 harvest (review is here: https://steepster.com/mastressalita/posts/379074 ). This is an April 2018 harvest of the same tea, which I bought from Path of Cha, which, like Dazzle Deer, also wholesales a small selection of Teavivre items, so you don’t have to buy freaking 100g at a time (which I refuse to do).

Used 2.5g of tea for 350ml 195F water, steeped for 3 minutes. The aroma of the steeped tea is warm spices, honeyed oranges, and a slight smokiness that, when combined with the sweet citrusy scent, reminds me of BBQ sauce.

The flavor is warm and inviting. It’s a bit malty/bready, with a lovely light smokiness, and some notes of sweet potatoes, honey, orange peel, and a very subtle hint of cocoa. It has such a lovely, smooth liquor.

While I don’t like this unsmoked lapsang as much as the sample I had from Whispering Pines once (that particular one had this amazing rose note to it), this is still a staple Chinese black for me.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Cocoa, Fruity, Honey, Malt, Orange, Orange Zest, Smooth, Spices, Sweet Potatoes, Umami

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 12 OZ / 350 ML
Daylon R Thomas

I didn’t know they sold one! Funny enough, I ordered some from the Trident Cafe in Colorado and What-Cha. They’re probably hands down my top black teas with Taiwanese ones.


Mastress Alita, I saw it on Teavivre’s website, but like you, I didn’t want to order 100 g of an unfamiliar tea. Maybe I’ll get a sample in my next order. I also ordered some from What-Cha, and based on the smell, it’ll be good. Yunnan Sourcing has some nice unsmoked lapsangs as well.


I adore this tea!

Mastress Alita

I haven’t tried any others besides the Teavivre and a (long ago) Whispering Pines offering, but I would always be down to try more unsmoked/wild lapsangs!

@Leafhopper: At the very least, 25g and 50g sizes of several of Teavivre’s offerings (though nowhere near their whole catalog) can be obtained from Path of Cha, which is what I did. I just can’t go through the giant bags they sell to order direct. (I really wish more tea sites would stop making 100g/4oz minimum purchase sizes…)


Pretty sure this was the first unsmoked lapsang I ever tried and it was so tasty!


Mastress Alita, Path of Cha charges $20 for international shipping, so it’s not really an option for me. Teavivre may give me too much tea, but at least the shipping is usually free! I agree with you that 100 g is just way too much leaf unless you’re drinking it regularly, so I usually order their premium teas, which come in a more manageable 50 g size.

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drank Cotton Candy by DAVIDsTEA
791 tasting notes

I received a tin of this in Ost’s summer 2018 cupboard sale (thanks Ost!) I’ve been (slowly) trying to make progress on that 50g tin in the evenings after my caffeine cut-off.

This is a sweet tea, but I wouldn’t really expect otherwise from something based on a treat made purely out of spun sugar. I’m not sure if it reminds me of cotton candy, persay, just because I get such a strong nutty/caramelly note from the tea during the sip, which makes me think more of some gooey praline sort of dessert, instead. The aftertaste left on my tongue after the swallow, though, does remind me of cotton candy, so I can see where that association is coming from.

I do like dessert teas in the evening, but I’m not sure if the over-the-top sweet profile of this one is one I would ever feel like reaching for very often. I’ll probably be drinking it in a rotation with a couple other herbals just because I can’t imagine doing this as a “nightly drinker” until I’ve finally finished off the full tin, which I’m fairly certain is quite old at this point. (I am impressed the flavor has held up remarkably well considering the age, though!)

Flavors: Caramel, Cotton Candy, Nutty, Sweet

205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

I remember this one being quite over the top in its sweetness too.

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One of my sipdown goals this year was to do more gong fu brewing. This is a type of brewing that simply doesn’t fit into my “normal work week” (which involved taking either a warm thermos or cold water bottle of tea with me to work and drinkng that for the full eight hours, then having to switch to herbal infusions after I get home). So I’m trying to get in a session on my weekends off, and since I took next week off for staycation (gotta use-it-or-lose-it with the vacaton time), perhaps I’ll manage a few more over the week.

I tend to sort of “ignore” or “avoid” the pu’erh in my collection for a few reasons: firstly, I just can’t seem to warm up to the taste of it no matter how hard I try, how I brew it, what have you, which leads to the second, I tell myself that just maybe it won’t taste so foul if I “let it age” for eons in the back of the cupboard (so far, this never seems to work out for me though). This particular one I remember ordering some time ago at my local coffee haunt, Twin Beans, which sources a small amount of teas from TeaSource. They only do western brewing with small teapots there, I thought it tasted ghastly (but made it through my pot), and decided to buy some of the leaf from them because somewhere in my head I thought it would magically “be better” if brewed gong fu style instead. I never wanted an ounce of pu, but they sold by the ounce, so that was the smallest amount I could get. So I have more of this than I care to have, and it is probably time to see if brewing it gong fu actually makes it any better…

180ml mini pot | 9g | 205F | Rinse/10s/13s/16s/19s/22s

The wet leaf aroma after the rinse is that of bitter melon, sour vegetables, and a bit of tobacco smoke. The liquor of the first infusion smells the same. It… still tastes ghastly to me. It’s the tobacco taste! That may just be my most disliked note in all of tea-dom, banana-aversion aside. It’s just thick and coating and so prevalent I can’t even try to focus on any of the other flavors in the tea. Just so bitter and ashy. Ugh. The second infusion shows a bit of improvement; I’m still getting a sticky, drying tobacco smoke taste left on my tongue which is highly unpleasant, but during the sip the flavor is more of a slightly sour vegetal note, with a bit of that “marshy” taste I typically get from pu’erh. Third infusion became even more of that “swamp marsh” taste, which isn’t my favorite, but much better than the tobacco/bitter tastes. It became easier to drink the further into infusions I went, but never became “enjoyable” for me. Even when the sip became easier to swallow, I always had a somewhat bitter and ashy aftertaste that I just couldn’t get behind. I surprised myself for making it through five steeps.

Definitely not my cuppa, mostly because of the tobacco notes. I don’t like greens with that taste, either. Might sound sacriledge, but I think I’m going to add peppermint to the rest and try cold brewing and see if I can’t get more of a Moroccan Mint taste where the peppermint masks the tobacco taste a bit (as it does with Gunpowder Green, another tea I don’t like because of the tobacco flavors), as I find that easier to swallow. There is simply no way I’d finish off the rest of the leaf this way.

Flavors: Ash, Astringent, Bitter, Bitter Melon, Drying, Mineral, Smoke, Sour, Tobacco, Vegetal, Wet Moss, Wet Rocks

205 °F / 96 °C 9 g 6 OZ / 180 ML
Cameron B.

The fact that you hated it and bought some anyway is hysterical… XD

Mastress Alita

I know! I get this idea in my head that somehow gong fu is the “right way” to drink certain teas so, obviously, the fact the teashop served it western had to be the problem and I had to prove myself right.

……………I was wrong.

Cameron B.

Well I think it’s sweet of you to give it a fair chance! ;)

Martin Bednář

2007 sheng… well that’s oldie!

Mastress Alita

It doesn’t seem to matter how old it is, I still don’t like it. :-( I think this idea that they “get better with age” doesn’t work on me…


It was pretty “meh” to me brewed western… not good but not horrible, lol. I definitely won’t be buying any.


I hope you have a most enjoyable staycation!

Mastress Alita

I’m, admittedly, starting to go a bit stir crazy (I want OUT and DOING THINGS already!) but at least I’m being paid to not be at work. :-)


Yeah, I’ll probably max out on vacation hours before my job goes back to in person, but I’ll hate having to use them for not vacations!

Mastress Alita

I have to use up two weeks worth by March or they will be lost, so I have little choice! I have another week of staycation in February just to use it all up…

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Single teabag sampler that came in my last order! I’m surprised I finally got one I haven’t tried before — it seems the last five or six orders all the freebie bags have been teas I’ve already had, so I drank them without mention (as reviewing teas more than once just isn’t my M.O.) So it was nice to finally get a new-to-me blend.

The dry leaf aroma does make me think of an apple pastry… It smells sweet and cinnamonly and appley. As it steeps, I’m getting a strong warm honey note, as well as the sweet cinnamon apple.

It does taste like an apple pastry, though I do wish the apple note were popping out just a bit more (but I also love apple tea!) It’s a sweet cinnamon apple flavor, and there is something doughy about it, I believe coming from the rooibos; a sort of nutty/honey flavor that is aiding this flavor profile very well. I like to leave my herbals soaking while I sip, and I feel the sweet cinnamon is really popping the longer the tea steeps and the more it cools.

I like this! I think there are other apple cinnamon teas I like more, but if I end up with another freebie bag of this sometime, I will be happy about it.

Flavors: Apple, Cinnamon, Honey, Nutty, Pastries, Sweet

205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

Yeah, I got the same sample flavors the last two times I ordered from them, and they’re unfortunately not flavors that I love. Oh well!

Mastress Alita

Freebies are freebies, can’t complain too much.


(psst… you guys can suggest a few sample ideas in the comment box when you order and they sometimes send one or two.)


That’s an excellent tip, thanks! I’ll definitely try that next time (:

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drank Peach Matcha by DAVIDsTEA
791 tasting notes

Chose this from my (dwindling!) advent matcha samplers for tomorrow’s breakfast smoothie. I think I only have one more fruity flavor (Mango) left, and a few others (Pumpkin Pie, Gingerbread, Salted Caramel, and Cherry Blossom).

Typical prep — full tablespoon sample packet whisked in cold, plain oat milk until dissolved and frothy. As per usual, it is quite sweet, which is making me think more of Peach Ring candies than peaches (thankfully that is one of my favorite candies!) I do, however, really like this peach flavoring, which tastes a bit more authentic to me than the sort in candy. This is another where the sweetness/flavor was really masking the actual matcha for me, even using the full packet, though I could pick up a very subtle matcha grassiness in the aftertaste. I had to reach for it, though.

I think I feel about on par with this one as the Blueberry one — I really liked the fruity flavor in both of those, but the sweetness in each was giving me something other than fruit (blueberry pancake syrup, Peachie-Os…)

Latte was blended with strawberries and the little bit of yogurt I had left. The peach flavor was more subtle against the strawberries, but when I do taste it, now it reminds me more of actual peaches, paired with that slight tartness from the real berries. This is one that I possibly wouldn’t mind stocking since I use a lot of matcha in smoothies and feel the flavor is actually improved here by using it in a smoothie.

Flavors: Candy, Grass, Peach, Sweet

Iced 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Pulled another advent matcha sampler out for my breakfast smoothie tomorrow. As per usual, whisked the full tablespoon sample in one cup plain oat milk, cold, and sampled.

Compared to the other fruity flavors I’ve had thus far, I think I like this one the best so far, just because by being “berries and cream” my brain immediately switches to something sweet so the sweetness of the matcha feels complimentary rather than distracting from the flavor. Plus this was a nice “mixed berry” sort of flavor; I use the raspberry/blueberry/blackberry mix in my smoothies a lot and have a distinct “taste” in my head when those things combine, which I was getting here. That, just sweet, rather than having the tart/tangy fruity bite I’d expect from mixed berry.

Despite using the full packet, which usually allows me some matcha taste beneath the flavors/sweetness, I actually did not notice any grassy/umami matcha notes from this one.

I mixed this latte with a cup of frozen peaches (my other frozen fruit on hand at the moment are all berries and I wanted something that would provide a juxtaposing flavor) and a little yogurt (less than usual since my carton is very low and I want to get one more smoothie out of it for Friday morning before doing weekend grocery shopping). It worked well; I was getting the distinct sweet mixed berry taste from the matcha, but could also taste the peaches as well, and the flavors blended together nicely.

Flavors: Berries, Fruity, Sweet

Iced 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Happy National Popcorn Day! (For those playing along in the Sipdown Challenge Home Game, today is “drink a genmaicha” day!)

Bah, making this tea was such a comedy of errors before work… I had very little time available to boil the water/steep the tea/get tea into work thermos, and then I forgot I needed to switch the default temperature on the kettle because this is green tea and not black/oolong, so the water boiled way too hot… so I was pacing around trying to figure out just how late for work I was going to be waiting for the water to cool enough to use plus still get in my two minute steep…

Hardly a relaxing morning cuppa!

Now I have a 12 oz cuppa in the work thermos (hopefully I can more properly make another cup at lunch break) to sip on throughout the morning. This is one of my last 2017 52Teas packets I need to finish off, but it was still sealed and when I opened it, there was tons of aroma… a creamy vanilla scent plus toasty genmai.

It’s very satisfying. The green tea is maybe not as fresh as it once was, but I’m still getting a nice grassy/hot hay flavor from it. The genmai still gives it a very warm, toasty flavor of roasted rice and oats. After the flavor of the genmaicha settles a bit, I’m left with a sweeter, cream-flavored aftertaste on the back of my tongue. It is quite subtle during the sip, but there is a sweetness and a slightly creamier mouthfeel that is quite pleasant. There is something about genmaicha I’ve always found very “cozy” which I’m reminded of this morning, now that all the hecticness around the actual brewing of the tea is passed and I can just sit at my desk and drink it.


Flavors: Cream, Creamy, Hot hay, Oats, Sweet, Sweet, warm grass, Toasted Rice, Toasty, Vanilla, Vegetal

180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec 3 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

I haven’t participated, but I’m enjoying the daily steep challenges. (And isn’t it kinda hilarious that most of us own at least a sample of everything that has been proposed so far? :)

Mastress Alita

There are only a small handful of “daily” prompts each month (with a more general “monthly” theme). Just a little something to get people thinking about teas hidden in their stash they might not otherwise, and totally optional. Clearing tea — any tea - out of the cupboards is the real goal here. :)


It’s kind of like a tea scavenger hunt! I’m having fun with the themed days!


I like that comparison!

Mastress Alita

That was exactly the idea! Creatively scavenge, haha!

Lexie Aleah

I’m enjoying them as well and actually have a tea that fits today’s theme. (:

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Steepster Freeze 2021 #2: 01/18/21

I have finally finished off my 50g bag of Rishi’s Ruby #18 and am only one cold-brew batch away from finishing off the 50g of Yunnan Orchid Green, so I can finally move onto the remainder of my 2017 teas, which is getting to be quite a small list now! Thankfully my last two Rishi teas I only have to work through 25g, because Todd really liked them from his advent so I split the 50g packages with him.

Brewed this western style this morning, 3.5g to 350ml of 205F water with a 3 minute steep. The aroma from the cup is lovely! I smell orange blossoms, honey, marmalade, and a sweet, roasted nuts aroma. This has such a silky mouthfeel, with a florality that comes out first on the sip, teetering on perfumy but subdued by the other flavors. A rich, citrusy orange note quickly follows mid-sip and settles along the back of the tongue, leaving an aftertaste of sweet marmalade jam and honey-roasted nuts. There is a slightly sharp, fruity note as well, which is a little hard for me to place… perhaps a dark variety of cherry.

This is a really lovely oolong… I can see why Todd was so taken with it!

Flavors: Cherry, Citrus, Floral, Fruity, Honey, Jam, Nutty, Orange, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Roasted nuts, Smooth

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

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Steepster Freeze 2021 #2: 01/15/21

Take two on trying to get a good lemon ginger breakfast smoothie! This time I picked the Wild Honey Matcha from my advent stash, as honey seemed like a proper flavor pairing for lemon and ginger.

Full packet (1 tablespoon) whisked in one cup cold plain oat milk, until frothy. And… I really like this one! I’m getting mostly a floral flavor, and oddly, it tastes a bit like sakura to me!? And here, with a flavor profile of honey, I’m expecting sweet, so the sweetness of the blend doesn’t feel jarring/out of place to me. Sweet wildflowers with a subtle grassiness underneath; I find that I really like how floral flavors pair with the natural vegetal/grassy taste of matcha.

Shame I don’t have this one in a larger pack, since it was seasonal and is already gone. I would not mind having more of this one!

Smoothie was also success this time around! Matcha latte was whisked with mango (I dropped the peach which was overpowering the flavor last time), a tablespoon of lemon juice, a quarter teaspoon ginger powder, and some yogurt. The lemon tastes like a lemon cream dessert from the sweetness of the Wild Honey Matcha, and there is a very subtle ginger kick at the end of the sip. I could probably go slightly heavier on the ginger, but I’m quite satisfied with how it turned out!

Flavors: Floral, Flowers, Grass, Sakura, Seaweed, Sweet, Umami, Vegetal

Iced 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Hi! I’m Sara, a middle-aged librarian living in southern Idaho, USA. I’m a big ol’ sci-fi/fantasy/anime geek that loves fandom conventions, coloring books, simulation computer games, Japanese culture, and cats. Proud asexual and supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. 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 condo!) 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/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)
-Extremely spicy/heated teas
-Medicinal flavors/Ginseng
-Metallic flavors
-Overly strong artificial flavorings

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

Steeping Parameters:

I drink tea in a variety of ways! For hot brews, I mostly drink my teas brewed in the western style without additions, and for iced tea, I drink teas mostly brewed in the cold brew style without additions. Occassionally I’ll change that up. I use the https://octea.ndim.space/#/ app for water-to-tea ratios and use steep times to my preferences.

Currently Sipping Down: What-cha teas, Rishi teas

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. Occassionally I revisit a tea I’ve reviewed before after a year or more has passed.

New Teas Tried for 2020: 145
Sipdown Count for 2020: 177


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 . I am currently strictly limiting tea trading/ordering to get my collection under control! I cannot participate in any tea boxes, tea exchanges, or accept any tea gifts at this point in time. I may participate in specific group orders depending on the company. If there is something on my spreadsheet that I have in large quantity (50g or higher) that you would like to sample, feel free to contact me about it, as I am open to limited gifting (USA only!)

Contact Info:

The Steepster PM system has been broken for some time. If you need to get ahold of me, check the website URL section below; it goes to a contact form that will reach my personal e-mail.


Idaho, United States



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