1130 Tasting Notes

drank Winter Spice by TeaSource
1130 tasting notes

I got this tea in a holiday sampler from TeaSource last year. Opening up the sampler and sniffing the leaf, it smells strongly of cinnamon, reminding me of Big Red chewing gum. After brewing, the tea continues to have a cinnamon aroma, though not nearly as potent as the dry leaf. The black tea had a medium-body and very smooth mouthfeel with no hint of astringency. It has a warm, cinnamon flavor, that leaves a slight spicy note lingering on the tongue, but it isn’t quite as strong or as potent as some black cinnamon teas I’ve tried; there is a bit of natural sweetness, likely from the fruit inclusions, that keep the spice a bit more grounded. Sadly I pick up no fruit or citrus flavor notes, so the tea is pretty underwhelming; it’s just a cinnamon black tea that is a little more subdued and a little more sweet than stronger cinnamon black blends. It has a fine flavor, but isn’t particularly interesting; if I want something spicy I prefer a tea with a bit more depth, like a unique chai.

Full Review: https://teatimetuesdayreviews.wordpress.com/2018/01/09/tea54/

Flavors: Cinnamon, Smooth, Spicy, Sweet

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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Ah, old faithful.

About a year ago I got really into tea drinking, and it was at that point that I switched exclusively to loose, full leaf tea. Prior to that, I was an occassional, casual drinker of bagged tea, and this tea was always a favorite.

I have a hard time now drinking bagged teas, even ones I remember enjoying in the past — something about them tastes so artificial, and after steeping loose leaf for so long, now I actually can taste a papery, cardboard-like flavor from teabags. But sometimes, particularly just before bed, I still get an odd hankering to go back to this tea. Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but I’d like to believe that despite being composed of sad, overly processed, dusty shredded pulp for ingredients, this is still a good tea.

But seriously, I’m not going to suffer the paper-taste of a teabag to revisit my old haunt, so I ripped that sucker open and let the powdery remains fill my gravity-well infuser like the sad pulp that they are. And I have to say, for what it is, a cheap, easily accessible caffeine-free herbal… ya, I still like this a lot. I enjoy the cooling mint flavor on my tongue, followed by the slightly-tart citrusy lemon flavor. There is something surprisingly sweet and mellow about it, so the tartness doesn’t feel too strong or puckery. And there is something about it that hints at a bit of grassiness, very subtle in the background.

To be fair, I’m surprised I still enjoy a bagged tea as much as I do after “making the switch.” But I think if my tea collection suddenly disappeared and I had to live off one grocery store tea, this one would probably be it.

Flavors: Dry Grass, Lemon, Mint, Sweet, Tart

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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I received this tea as a sampler size from Beleave Teas as “Pistachio Almond,” but the blend was sourced from TeaSource. I took it to work today and had a nice sipdown.

The leaves have a very sweet marzipan aroma that reminds me of amaretto: there is a honey-like sweetness, the nuttiness of almonds, and just a slight hint of cherry. The tea steeps up dark with a very inviting sweet, marzipan scent. Though the tea smelled very sweet, it is surprisingly quite well balanced: the base is dark, full, and smooth, and the finish closes with a satisfying sweet, almond dessert flavor. It has a dessert tea appeal, but the black tea and nutty flavors hold up enough that the tea can pass for something heartier (a few extra strong, dark brews to get through the work day can attest to that!) As for the pistachio, it is a more subtle flavor, but noticeable enough if you are looking for it. Pistachios have never been my nut of choice, but here it blends well with the other flavors.

Full Review: https://teatimetuesdayreviews.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/tea48/

Flavors: Malt, Marzipan, Nutty, Smooth, Sweet

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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As a hot steep, this tea is not one of my favorites. It has a very strong orange flavor, and if that is what you are craving, then this is the tea for you. I really enjoy fruity flavored green teas, but I personally tend to like the fruity notes to have a softer, more delicate touch in my greens; they don’t have to compete against the strong, astringent flavors of a black tea. This is just a little more bold than I care for, and the flavoring being so strong makes it feel too artificial (which it is, but some teas are quite good at hiding it).

Icing this tea, on the other hand, is an entirely different experience! I like to use the cold-brew method of letting a teaspoon of leaf per cup of cold water steep in the fridge overnight, and then strain off the leaf the next morning. The resulting iced tea is fantastic! It has a very crisp, clean, refreshing taste, the orange notes are tamed a bit while still providing a very flavorful tea, and the tea requires no sweetening. I like to make a batch and drink a nice cold glass with my breakfast, since it gives me such a refreshing “orange juice” feel.

This is definitely a tea that will be getting a lot of use in the summer months when I start ramping up the amount of cold brews in my fridge!

Flavors: Artificial, Citrusy, Orange

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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This is the first new tea I tried this year, a holiday seasonal I picked up as a sampler from Beleave Teas, which I decided to do a sipdown of recently since the little sugar snowflakes seemed appropriate for the snowy winter weather we’ve been having recently.

The scent of the leaves was very orangey and sweet, with just a bit of spiciness tickling the nose. I shook up the ingredients and went a bit heavy on the leaf, using two teaspoons and making sure to get a good mix of tea leaf and larger, bulky ingredients, and steeped for two minutes, and the resulting tea was a bright yellow-orange, reminding me of orange juice! The tea had a very silky smooth mouthfeel and citrus orange flavor, with a bit of warm cinnamon spice in the finish, reminding me of an orange spice tea, only with a lighter, softer body than the black tea orange spice teas I’m used to. It also had a nice, creamy sweetness with just a hint of vanilla that rounds out the citrus and spice notes from being too overpowering. This was an enjoyable tea, like a warm orange cider with some nice sweet notes.

Full Review: https://teatimetuesdayreviews.wordpress.com/2018/01/02/tea53/

Flavors: Cinnamon, Citrusy, Creamy, Orange, Smooth, Sweet

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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I was first introduced to this blend as “Autumn Apple Crisp” from Spice and Tea Exchange, which I picked up as an autumn seasonal in 2016, but the tea did not return the next year. Searching the ingredients, I then discovered Adagio’s autumn seasonal “Autumn Mist,” which was the exact same blend of ingredients, and not nearly such a price-gouge as Spice and Tea Exchange’s teas.

The first time I made this tea (the “Autumn Apple Crisp” version of the blend) I made a cup at work, and the scent was so strong that my coworkers walked into the office and thought they were smelling maple or apple pie, not realizing it was just my cup of tea! It had a very strong, carmelly scent from the creme brulee flavoring, and a nice carmelly apple flavor with a lot of natural sweetness. I remember thinking how much it really did remind me of caramel-covered apples!

Revisiting this tea with the “Autumn Mist” version of the blend, I’m noticing a lot more of the gunpowder green tea than I remember from before. The tea has a very distinct, slightly smoky flavor from the base, and isn’t quite as sweet as I recall. There is still a nice touch of apple on the back of the tongue, and some sweet caramel notes, but the overall flavor is a little more full and less dessert-like than I was expecting.

I kind of miss the old “Autumn Apple Crisp” version now. Ah well. This one is good enough to scratch the itch, I just wish it were a little more sweet with stronger caramel notes!

Full review: https://teatimetuesdayreviews.wordpress.com/2017/03/07/tea10/

Flavors: Apple, Caramel, Smoke

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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drank Rooibos Chai by AmberFreda
1130 tasting notes

I started off my tea blog a year ago by reviewing a Rooibos Chai blend by Spice and Tea Exchange, which I’ve come to find is more commonly known as the “West Cape Chai” blend. I thought it would be fun to try another rooibos chai blend as a bit of nostalgia. This blend is by an Etsy seller, AmberFreda, and features many of the same ingredients, but it is missing some of the ingredients and its balance is a bit different.

To me, the most notable difference in flavor between this chai and the West Cape rooibos chai I tried before is the absense of the licorice root, which makes this chai have a much spicier flavor profile. Though the rooibos itself provides a slightly sweet base, this chai packs a surprisingly spicy punch, with particularly strong notes of ginger and clove leaving some heat behind on the tongue. There is an almost peppery heat to it. It is a decent chai, but personally, I like the blend of the West Cape version better, as I like the way that the inclusion of licorice rounds out the spices and naturally sweetens up the blend, since I happen to be one of those people that is particularly sensitive to spicy tastes. But if you like really spicy flavors, this version of Rooibos Chai may be more akin to your personal preferences. I did find it quite nice with some warm vanilla almond milk, and it worked well for iced chai as well!

Flavors: Clove, Ginger, Pepper, Spicy, Sweet

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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I received this tea as a gift from my best friend, who lives in the Bay Area of California where Hobee’s restaurants are a staple. I enjoy having breakfast there when I visit, so he got me a bag of their signature house blended Cinnamon Orange tea, which he especially enjoys iced.

The tea is a very finely ground black tea with a strong spicy scent. It has a very strong, full flavor; there is a warm, orange-flavor to the black tea body, but the finish is bursting with a strong cinnamon touch on the tongue that gives off just a little heat, with hints of clove and a subtle sweet, floral rosy flavor that balance out the cup nicely. The flavors compliment each other nicely and have a natural sweetness that works well. The tea makes a great warm tea in cold weather, but it is also great iced! I like to hot brew it and then chill it, and give it a nice brisk stir to mix up all the spices in the chilled glass. It needs no sweetening and is so flavorful and refreshing! It’s an amazingly versatile tea at any time of the year.

Full review: https://teatimetuesdayreviews.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/tea30/

Flavors: Cinnamon, Orange, Rose, Spices, Sweet

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 0 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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This is one of my favorite green teas, and I find sipping on a cuppa now I enjoy it just as much as when I first shared a pot in a local teashop with a friend last winter to review on my blog. It has this beautiful scent of cherries and roses, but the brew is not nearly as heavy as the smell might lead one to believe. It is very light, delicate, and smooth; a brisk two minute steep leaves a light amber brew that still has that enticing aroma, but the taste is a soft, relaxing, delicate cherry taste that rounds out into a floral finish, rather than being overwhelming and coming off too much like cough syrup as a result like so many cherry-flavored teas have a tendency to do. This tea does a good job of pulling the cherry flavor back into more of a floral experience and mimicking cherry blossoms, like its name, and to me it reminds me of springtime in Japan in a cup. The tea has a nice natural sweetness and doesn’t have any bitterness as long as you mind your water temperature and steep time, with the grassy green tea flavor becoming very soft beneath the floral notes.

Full review: https://teatimetuesdayreviews.wordpress.com/2017/03/21/tea12/

Flavors: Cherry Blossom, Cut Grass, Floral, Sweet

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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I’ve never been a huge fan of straight black teas, but as a St. Patrick’s Day baby I felt inclined to give an Irish Breakfast blend a go. My coworker is a big fan of English and Irish Breakfast teas and donated a bag of this Twinings of London bagged tea so I could review it on my blog. I’m not particularly a fan of bagged tea, either, but she claimed it was a “better brand” and I wasn’t going to turn down some free tea.

The scent of this tea brought back so much childhood nostalgia… I was instantly transported back to my grandmother’s house! It occured to me, that growing up as a small child, I associated a single scent as the “smell of tea,” much like one might associate a single scent with the smell of coffee, and that “tea smell” always made me think of my grandma’s house. Of course, now that I’m grown and have become an avid tea drinker, I know that each tea has a very unique aroma, but now I know… my grandma must have been drinking an Irish or English Breakfast blend!

As far as the taste, it wasn’t as bad as I remember. Usually straight blacks just come off too harsh for me so I prefer flavored blends with some sort of desserty or spicy or fruity taste, but trying it “English style” with a bit of milk and sugar, I actually found it quite pleasant! Perhaps my palate has just changed over the years, or maybe I just needed to take it English style to balance the astringencies.

I’m sure I would enjoy a looseleaf variety more, but as far as bagged tea goes, I was pleasantly surprised!

Full review: https://teatimetuesdayreviews.wordpress.com/2017/03/14/tea11/

Flavors: Astringent, Malt

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 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 genderqueer asexual (she/they) 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
-Hemp/CBD teas
-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.

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.


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://tinyurl.com/xjt9ptx3 . I am open to tea trades (within the United States only!) at this time. Note that I will not trade teas that I currently have in a quantity less than 50g (samplers, 1oz packages, etc.) or any teas that are currently still sealed/unopened in my cupboard.

Contact Info:

Feel free to send me a Steepster PM, or alternatively, 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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