429 Tasting Notes

88

Holiday Tea-son! This was yesterday’s advent calendar tea, but I had work and don’t really have the time to make matcha before work, so I was saving it for this weekend. I got a migraine at work, my medicine didn’t work, and I just stuck it through like I so often do, so today my migraine is waaaaay worse, so… now I am home with a migraine, and am making matcha in one of the brief moments I am awake to force food into my overly-nauseous stomach that doesn’t want food. Meh.

Prepared as a latte with vanilla almond milk, using my milk frother for all the wisking, because I am lame.

It smells nice; surprisingly does have that salted caramel aroma, usually when I see teas marketed as such, they tasted caramelly, but never like salted caramel and then I get underwhelmed. This at least has the aroma right, if nothing else. The flavor… yes, I’d say that is probably more on spot to salted caramel than any other tea I’ve tried with that name before, so I’m impressed! It’s sweet and creamy, and again, very light on the actual matcha flavor, though I am getting a very subtle grassiness from this one, sort of as an aftertaste, beneath the caramel flavor.

Flavors: Caramel, Cream, Salt, Sweet, Sweet, warm grass

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 tsp 10 OZ / 300 ML

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89

Holiday Tea-son! I was excited to see this one today; I’ve wanted to try it since Cameron B. has spoken so highly of it. I do have a Strawberries and Cream Rooibos from TeaSource that I quite like, and I enjoy the flavor of rhubarb (TeaSource’s Rhubarb Oolong is another of my favorite teas!), so I’m sure this will be quite good. But I prefer herbals before bed so I took another cuppa of Holiday Marmalade to work and have saved this one for this evening. Maybe it’ll lessen the blow of having to take my car back to the mechanic today, and my repair bills now totalling near $800 in cumulative fees between all the missed work, rentals, tows, new parts, mechanic fees… sigh

The dry leaf smells divine, like creamy vanilla and strawberry, and steeped it smells even better, with that more tart rhubarb note coming through, but still a berry sweetness and vanilla cream aroma. I really like the flavor! I’m surprised how well the rhubarb flavor is coming through, and I can tell since I have that Strawberries and Cream rooibos as a comparison; this tea isn’t nearly so sweet as that blend, with more of a subtle, pleasantly tart open to the sip, that becomes sweeter mid-sip to finish with strawberry, cream, honey, and cherry wood notes. The two blends are similar flavor profiles, but comparing the two, this one is easily the superior blend, as it offers a bit more complexity. Once I finish off the other one, I’ll definitely restock my cupboard with this one, instead. Yum!

Flavors: Cherry Wood, Cream, Honey, Rhubarb, Smooth, Strawberry, Sweet, Tart

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 350 OZ / 10350 ML
lizwykys

oooh; sounds so good! I need to put this on my list for next B&B order!

lizwykys

(Also, sorry about your car; how frustrating! :( )

Cameron B.

Bird & Blend now has a free shipping threshold for international!!! It’s £64 or ~$80. Clearly all of the whining paid off!

Mastress Alita

I just saw that in my e-mail this morning too. I had whined about it several times as well, heh, and EVERY one of my orders with them was well over $80 US! Makes me a little sour over all the extra $12-13 shipping but… at least the International Teabirds won out in the end? (Won’t be ordering with them for quite some time because my New Years Res is NO TEA ORDERING for a good long while as I need $$ and space in my apartment, but still a victory!)

tea-sipper

I think the free international shipping is only for a couple days though.

Mastress Alita

Oh, less exciting. Booooo, B&B! Well, I’m not ordering right now, so… meh.

Cameron B.

@tea-sipper – I don’t think it is, they’ve updated their shipping information page with the new threshold in place.

Mastress Alita

inserts the little old man dancing on the Six Flags commercials here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0bvgpg7yig

tea-sipper

Oh cool! It said free delivery over $90 ends Thursday so I assumed it ended Thursday. That will come in handy for group orders on Steepster, if one person doesn’t want to spend $90 to get free shipping.

Mastress Alita

Yaaaaa… if you load the US website, the banner at the top of the page says the free shipping threshold ends Thursday. If you switch to the UK page, the banner says a different shipping message. If you go to the shipping page, there is a more generic and cheerful message about how they are offering a free shipping threshold for International for the first time ever. It’s more subtle and tiny and you have to check that top of the page banner to see it’s only the “International Tea Day” promo and ends on Thursday. Bad on you B&B. I was actually excited. _;;

Since I’m not ordering currently, this helps me in exactly no way. Boooooooooooooo.

tea-sipper

But why would they update the shipping PAGE with info for only two days? I think it’s an International Tea Day promo for other reasons but also the shipping will keep being free over $90?

Mastress Alita

If it’s going to stay, why warn it’s going away on Thursday?

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37

Holiday Tea-son! This isn’t exactly a holiday blend, but the flavor seems to fit in well, and I’ve had this sampler around since fall of 2017 and want to use it up. It’s a blend of rooibos, peppermint leaf, and bergamot oil, but it smells really, really minty; I’d be hard-pressed to believe this is anything other than just peppermint leaf, it is so strong! Though it does have a sort of sweet briskness to the aroma, I suppose. I was just going to brew the whole sampler in my teapot, but decided to split it into two teabags and make two servings out of it after smelling how strong the mint was coming off.

Steeped up, I was actually somewhat surprised to see it was actually a proper rooibos red, and in addition to smelling the strong mint, I could smell the bergamot now as well. In the past I have never liked bergamot-infused rooibos, so I’m actually a bit curious if the mint will add enough to the blend to temper it a bit. The flavor is… hmm. It’s… interesting? I still think I’d prefer it without the bergamot, but it is certainly better with the inclusion of the mint. The mint is a very dominant flavor, and the cup almost tastes a little creamy… but then this bergamot zing sort of hit late in the sip, and it almost feels slightly sour against how cooling and refreshing the mint has left the mouth. It just doesn’t feel complimenting to me at all. In fact, the more I sip on it, the more the bergamot tastes downright soapy in my mouth, against the really refreshing pop of mint.

Ya, I just don’t like it. It just isn’t a flavor combination that is working for me at all.

Flavors: Bergamot, Creamy, Mint, Peppermint, Soap, Sour

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 4 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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78

Holiday Tea-son! Coal! Coal in the Bird & Blend advent calendar today! I can’t do Lapsang Souchong because it is a migraine trigger, one wiff of the teabag of Smoky Russian and it promptly went into the bin. I tried a pine-smoked lapsang exactly once in my life, and the resulting migraine was one of the worst I’d ever had (smoke is one of my migraine triggers, and the aroma from the cuppa of lapsang souchong I tried in a teashop on vacation alone proved to be enough to tell my brain I absolutely needed that head pain right then). So never again.

So, I decided to brew up the Second Day of Tea from 52Tea’s 12 Days of Tea last year, Holiday Marmalade Green Tea, an orange spice blend on a green tea base rather than the typical black tea base. It certainly smells nice, particularly with a lot of orange and clove aroma coming from the dry leaf in the bag.

Since I was unburying my car when my tea timer went off, I actually don’t know how long this ended up steeping… I was pleasantly surprised it wasn’t a bitter mess. Oversteeped greens can get messy quick.

The flavor is quite nice. The orange tastes brisk and juicy, not overwhelming or wildly artificial as it can easily get in orange spice blends, and the spice is also not extremely strong and doesn’t leave any unpleasant hot or tingly sensations. Mostly I get tasty clove and allspice notes that compliment the orange nicely. There is a hint of sweet cinnamon toward the end of the sip, too. It’s a warming, comfy sort of tea. Probably not the best fit for first thing in the morning when I tend to go for something a bit more energizing, as I’m finding this the sort of thing that is quite relaxing on a foggy, cold, “had to unbury the car from last night’s snow” sort of morning. I’d be much happier if I could stay in under a pile of blankets and drink this, rather than having to catalog books with this in my work thermos. But that isn’t the tea’s fault. Meh.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Orange, Smooth, Spices, Sweet

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 14 OZ / 400 ML

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60

Holiday Tea-son! This was a teabag I found in the Discovery Teabox, so thanks to Skysamurai for organizing and all participants of the box! I haven’t tried this before and it fits my holiday tea theme, and though I usually switch to herbals in the evening, white tea is pretty light on the caffeine and it hasn’t gotten too late yet so hopefully this should be okay. I’ll definitely switch to an herbal pot right after this cuppa!

The brewed tea looks and smells like a cup of peppermint herbal tea, which I suppose isn’t so bad considering this includes ginger root, since a lot of bagged teas tend to way over due it with the ginger (and tend to have a somewhat nasty sort of ginger taste, too… at least, many of the bagged grocery store variety citrus/ginger teas I’ve tried have had that problem). The aroma actually has a sweet minty scent, and I wouldn’t even suspect there is ginger in this tea.

Honestly, I don’t notice much difference in this from drinking a peppermint tea, other than it tastes a little sweeter, which I am going to assume must be some mild floral aspect from the white tea, since there is no indication any flavors have been added to this tea. I do appreciate that the mint isn’t quite so strong as many mint herbals are, it comes off a bit softer and sweeter, but otherwise it’s just a mint tea. And I am appreciative that the ginger is no where to be found in the flavor. The mint/ginger combo, however, would make a nice tummy tonic, so maybe that is why it is included?

Flavors: Mint, Peppermint, Sweet

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

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70

Holiday Tea-son! The tenth tea from my advent calendar, which I cut out of the sachet this morning and have had swimming in a mason jar of 350ml of cold water doing a cold-brew all day. I just popped it out of the fridge, strained, and am ready to try it out!

I have had other “mojito” inspired teas before, though I admittedly have never had a mojito (well, when you can’t have alcohol due to migraines…) The steeped tea smells nice; very minty, but I’m picking up some citrus zing in the aroma as well. I think letting the leaf openly cold brew free of the shackles of that little sachet was the way to go, because I have a pretty sharp and full flavor here, that is very refreshing on the tongue. There is a refreshing, brisk mint flavor, and then a sharper, full tangy citrus that hits afterwards. It’s more full on the lime notes, but I get a bit of a lemon flavor as well. I couldn’t really say anything about the base green tea, because the flavors are so overwhelming it’s pretty imperceptable here. I really can’t imagine liking this flavor combination as a warm tea, personally, but this ice cold brew is very cooling and refreshing.

A bit of an odd choice for a winter advent calendar, perhaps, but I’m one of those people that still keeps a jar of iced tea in my fridge during the winter to drink with hot meals, so I’m not complaining, and it breaks up all the orange/spice/almond flavors. It’s also better than the other mojito tea I tried in the past; the lime/citrus note is presenting better in Bird & Blend’s blend and it just feels more balanced/refreshing.

Flavors: Citrus, Lemon, Lime, Mint, Peppermint

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

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40
drank Soleil Levant by Lupicia
429 tasting notes

Holiday Tea-son! I opened up my advent tea from Bird & Blend this morning and decided I would prefer that flavor iced, so it is currently cold-brewing in the fridge. So this morning I opted to brew up this holiday tea from my stash instead. This was the other holiday sampler I received from Lupicia last November when I bought tea from their store in San Jose.

It is described as being a white grape/citrus flavored tea, though the aroma I was getting from the dry leaf made me think of berries and pine. After it was brewed, the green tea base had a strong vegetal/marine aroma with some subtle buttery notes, but I could make out some sweeter grapey notes. Personally, the two scents didn’t really seem to go together very well to me…

That said, it was a quite tasty green tea. I’m used to green teas that have those particular scents being a bit overbearing for me and being a little too “seaweedy” for my tastes, but not this one. There is a slight salty/seaweed/marine flavor note, and a grassy, vegetal quality, but a light butteriness as well, and its quite nice and not too heavy. The grape is still that sort of artificial tasting grape that was in the Jingle Bells tea that I don’t really care for… Mostly, the base tea shines the most, with that really sweet grapey flavor pulling out at the end of the sip.

Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of this one, either. I actually really like this sencha, and if I knew which one of their sencha they were using as the base on this, I’d happily get that as a stand-alone tea. But it does not suit having that artificial Kool-Aid grape flavor smothered over it, at all.

Flavors: Artificial, Butter, Grapes, Grass, Marine, Seaweed, Smooth, Sweet, Vegetal

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

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72

Holiday Tea-son! This came in the Discovery Teabox, and though I’ve seen this one reviewed many times, I actually have never tried this one. It fits my monthly theme nicely, so why not finally try it out? Thanks so much to Skysamurai for organizing and all participants of the box!

The teabag smells very buttery and sweet. The steeped tea is slightly buttery, with some subtle nutty and vanilla notes. There is a very slight lemon creme note toward the end of the sip. It really does remind me of a sweet sugar cookie with a lemon glaze topping, and it is quite nice. The flavor is perhaps a little weaker than I prefer for my herbals, and I did like it better when I added a few more teabags to my teapot. But this is certainly a bagged tea I wouldn’t mind keeping around, I can see why so many people sing its praises. It is quite tasty, and I do find these sweet, desserty herbals really nice before bed.

Flavors: Almond, Butter, Cookie, Cream, Lemon Zest, Nutty, Sweet, Vanilla

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more 4 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
Lexie Aleah

If you can find it in stores Tazo’s Glazed Lemon Loaf Tea is very good too and quite similar to this one though more lemon heavy. It does help to use 2 tea bags per cup as well. The Tazo one tastes just like Starbuck’s Lemon Loaf to me!

Mastress Alita

Ah, I usually make my herbals in a dobin (a Japanese teapot that holds 2 cups of water) and I had put two teabags in it (1 per cup) and did find it a little weak until I had doubled it to four teabags, and then it was much better. So I guess 2 teabags per cup must just create the better brew on these.

I think I have seen the Tazo dessert teas at my local Fred Meyer, I’ll have to check it out.

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80

Holiday Tea-son! The fifth tea from my advent calendar, which I’ve been saving for the Doctor Who season finale today!

Breakfast blends that include some Chinese black to them tend to be my favorites, and the aroma of this brewed up is quite pleasing; it’s malty, with some molasses and cinnamon bread notes, and just a hint of citrus wafting from the cup. The taste is quite good too, producing a cup that, with my typical brew parameters, is quite smooth, without the bitterness or strong astringent qualities of some breakfast teas that cause me to have to add some honey. These are the kind of breakfast blends I prefer, since I like to use a brisk steep and not add milk or sweetener. The tea has a malty, warm baked bread flavor, with some notes of raisin, a subtle cinnamon spice, a touch of lemon citrus, and some sweet molasses. It’s a very nice black blend and probably one of my favorites as far as breakfast blends go.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Citrus, Lemon, Malt, Molasses, Raisins, Smooth

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

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69

Holiday Tea-son! The ninth tea from my advent calendar. I actually had an extra teabag of this as a freebie with my advent calendar order, and I just stashed it away figuring it was probably in the calendar too, since it is one of their popular holiday flavors. So this morning I was able to make a pot of tea using my 16 oz. dobin using both teabags instead of just a single cuppa. Huzzah!

The dry leaf has a strong scent of chocolate and coconut, which are two of my favorite things, but I’m a little sad that the teabag version given out for the samplers doesn’t have the vegan marshmallows… they would’ve added a nice, sweet, creamy element. Ah well.

The cocoa shells and nibs actually have a pretty forward flavor here, reminding me of when I steeped plain cocoa shells, creating that bittersweet/dark chocolate flavor in the cup, and I am getting a coconut note as well. The black tea is coming out relatively smooth and lacking in bitter/astringent notes, though without the marshmallow which would’ve added some sweetness to the blend, the cocoa itself is a bit bittersweet so the tea could do with some sweetening in the teabag form. What is lacking to pull it all together for me is a sweet and creamy element, since it tastes like it wants to be hot cocoa, but has the light mouthfeel of a tea, so I think this is a tea that is simply meant to be taken as a latte. Once I mixed some warm coconut milk (and I use the sweetened kind!) into my cup, it really pulled it together. The coconut notes were emphasized, the cocoa flavor now felt more like creamy hot cocoa than bittersweet hot cocoa water, the sweetness it was lacking was provided from the milk, and it was quite nice. It felt a little bland before that. The flavor was there, it just really needed the thicker/creamier mouthfeel and a little more sweetness to make the chocolate and coconut come together for me.

Flavors: Cocoa, Coconut, Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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Profile

Bio

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, RuPaul’s Drag Race, 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 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:
-Dessert/chocolate/vanilla/caramel/cream/toffee/maple
-Sweet/licorice root/stevia
-Vegetal/grassy
-Floral/lavender/rose
-Spices/chais
-Fruity
-Tropical/pineapple/coconut
-Bergamot (in moderation)
-Roasted/nutty
-Tart/tangy/hibiscus/rosehip

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)
-Grapefruit (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!

My Tea Obsession of the Moment: Hibiscus ciders… deal with it.

My Monthly Tea Theme: Holiday Tea-son! This month I’ll be sampling holiday blends and advent calendar 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: 266
Sipdown Count for 2018: 232

Inventory:

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 on a tea trading/ordering hiatus to get my collection under control! Check back in the future for tea trades (USA only!)

Location

Idaho, United States

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