1119 Tasting Notes


This is one of only two traveling tea box teas left in my stash, so I’m using it for the sipdown prompt “A tea from a tea swap/traveling tea box.” It came from the Here’s Hoping Traveling Teabox which made its final journey around the time I joined Steepster, back in 2017. Thanks to tea-sipper for organizing the box and anyone who contributed at that time!

I only took a little over 2g as a sample from the box, so I prepared it as a small, western brewed cup (I just don’t have the energy for gong fu at the moment anyway…) There was a smokiness to the dry aroma which turned me off a bit (I don’t like smoky teas) so I figured a single cup is all I’d be up for anyway. Brewed, I definitely smell charcoal smoke, as well as a somewhat oaty/carmelized aroma.

As I predicted, this has a smoky charcoal/tobacco note to it that just isn’t really my thing. But it isn’t overpowering (at least, not at this age, perhaps it was when it was still fresh) so I’m not getting “forest fire smoke wafting into my face” from the cup (which, aside from just not being a big fan of the taste, is the main reason I don’t like smoky teas… that strong aroma gives me a migraine). I imagine smoke-lovers would be quite pleased with this… it almost has a sort of BBQ-umami note to it, and the base tea beneath the smoke is sweet, like a honey/carmelized glaze.

Not a bad cuppa, just not my cuppa.

Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Charcoal, Honey, Malt, Oats, Roasted, Smoke, Sweet, Tobacco, Umami

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

How are the shingles?

Mastress Alita

The pain is more managable now, but I’ve entered into “annoyingly itchy” territory.


I eagerly await the day you leave annoyingly itchy territory and enter “what shingles?” territory!

Mastress Alita

Thanks! Me too!

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For the sipdown prompt, “a coconut tea.” Prepared cold brew.

I went through this incredibly fast. This packet turned out a lot more coconut than lime, but that toasty, still-fresh tasting coconut on the green base was extremely refreshing and hydrating.

Flavors: Butter, Citrus, Coconut, Lime, Smooth, Sweet, Warm Grass, Tangy

Iced 8 min or more 5 g 32 OZ / 946 ML

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For the sipdown prompt, “A tea with honey added.”

This packet is from the 2018 Advent Box, so it is overdue for a sipdown. I had worked my way to the last serving, and figured I’d add honey this morning to tick that sipdown prompt box. I don’t normally put additions in tea, but I recognize that sometimes doing so can really elevate a cup, too.

While this cup is perfectly fine plain, it is a good one for a little added sweetness, too. The black base can hold up to it, and the bit of extra sweetness brings out a jamminess from the blackberry and a sweeter pastry element from the bread notes in the base.

I had grand plans to clean my house over the holiday weekend, but I’ve come down with Shingles and the new plan is laying on the couch with the cat and trying to move as little as possible. And sip tea, of course. So nice to have a comforting cuppa when feeling like hell.

Flavors: Blackberry, Bread, Fruity, Jam, Malt, Pastries, Smooth, Sweet

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

I’m sorry to hear about the shingles. I hope you feel better soon.


Oh, shingles are miserable. Take care!


Oh no! I have read that ravintsara can help, but that may be just for nerve pain later. I hope anything and everything they give you, works a treat against it.


Chickenpox vaccine came out in 95?, too late for us kids. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

Martin Bednář

I wish you a speedy recovery!


Hope you feel better soon.


Sending good vibes for a swift recovery! Hope you’re feeling better already!


Hope the tea helps!

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drank Watermelon Sorbet by T2
1119 tasting notes

Another old T2 tea bought during a deeply discounted sale. Prepared coldbrew.

I taste something melon-esque, but it doesn’t quite read as watermelon to me… maybe a somewhat muddled honeydew melon flavor? Mostly, though, this just tastes like a hibiscus mint tea, emphasis on the mint. It’s a very refreshing spearmint, but leaves a strong cooling menthol on the tongue each sip. It really dominates the flavor, and nothing about a “watermelon sorbet” makes me think of spearmint.

I’m fine with the taste, it’s a good iced tea, but it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. My head was thinking something heavily flavored with that fake “watermelon candy” sort of flavor used for watermelon things in the US, not honeydew drowned in spearmint leaves. If it were named “Minty Melon” I think I’d be more on board…

Flavors: Fruity, Hibiscus, Honeydew, Melon, Mint, Spearmint

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

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I had a small sampler of this acquired back in 2018 from Meowster’s cupboard de-stash (Thanks, Meowster!) and I imagine the age of the tea is older than that. I decided to coldbrew the entire 6g sampler overnight.

I don’t think I’ve ever coldbrewed a silver needle tea, but this is delicious! It has a strong citrus flavor, like lemon in mineral water, as well as a florality that reads a bit like the peppery-floral taste of crysanthemum and a sweeter pollen-floral taste. Very refreshing!

Flavors: Chrysanthemum, Citrus, Floral, Honeysuckle, Lemon, Pepper, Pollen, Spring Water, Sweet

Iced 8 min or more 6 g 32 OZ / 946 ML

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For the sipdown prompt, “a tea you’ve never tried before.” This is one of my oldest teas, from the final “Here’s Hoping Traveling Teabox.” Thanks for sharing, tea-sipper!

I brewed the 4g sampler in 12 oz. 205F water with a five minute steep.

It tastes like shou… it doesn’t seem to matter the type or age, it all tastes the same to me. Musky wet, swampy earth, and a little smoke. Still not a flavor profile I care for much, but as an occassional cup on a rainy day, it’s okay.

Flavors: Dirt, Earth, Mineral, Smoke, Thick, Wet Earth, Wet Moss, Wet Rocks

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 4 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

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For the sipdown prompt, “a tea chosen at random.” I use a spreadsheet to inventory my tea and have a function built into it that will pull 10 random teas from the list. This was the only herbal that was selected on that list, and I only drink herbal teas after 6 p.m., so this was my choice.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had this tea. The aroma wafting off the hot cuppa smells divine… a sort of “too tart to be strawberry” rhubarb aroma that hits the nose first, followed by a softer, creamy vanilla fragrance. It’s so pleasant… rhubarb and cream on a woody rooibos base. I like the sharpness of the fruit note, but am finding the fruitiness makes the rooibos lean a little into the medicinal notes I don’t care for as much (which I encounter often from fruit-flavored red rooibos blends). It isn’t unpleasant, but I may try this with some milk next time to see if that enhances the cream notes while hiding the medicinal notes.

Flavors: Cherry Wood, Cream, Medicinal, Rhubarb, Smooth, Strawberry, Sweet, Tart, Vanilla, Wood

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

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drank Fruitalicious by T2
1119 tasting notes

For the sipdown prompt, “a cheap tea.” I purchased a tin of this on a very deep discount during one of their after-Christmas sales. Prepared as coldbrew.

I had a sampler of this long ago, but the bulky fruit nature of the tea made me misjudge my water ratio and it turned out extremely weak, too weak to properly review at the time. It’s kind of nice to try it again after all this time. But honestly, I still find it a little on the weak side?! I think because this is a fruit tea lacking hibiscus, so it doesn’t have a lot of body to it. The flavor is a very generic “fruit punch” sort of flavor without a lot of distinction… I mostly get a red berry flavor with a bit of pineapple and papaya. It’s also really sweet, which is another reason why I think some hibi would be a nice counter-balance.

I never expect too much from fruit teas besides being pleasant and thirst-quenching, and it does fit the bill there. Would I get more of this particular one? If it is on sale for the same sort of low price point, sure. Otherwise, nah. There are better options out there.

Flavors: Berries, Fruit Punch, Fruity, Papaya, Pineapple, Sweet

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

I saw some Mulled Wine Magic on sale not long ago and thought of you! :P

Mastress Alita

That was the reason I ordered in the sale to begin with… I think this was to help reach free shipping thresholds, heh.

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For the sipdown prompt, “a marshmallow tea.”

Such a simple yet effective tea. The assam is rich with malt, honey, and golden raisin notes, but is incredibly smooth. The vanilla flavor leans towards more of a bourbon note with a sharp alcohol flavor toward the end of the sip. While I don’t notice any difference in taste, marshmallow root adds a sort of silkier mouthfeel to a tea I find hard to describe, but it is very noticeable to me, like a slick and pillowy coating of the tongue. There is a mild drying sensation after the sip.

Very satisfying morning cuppa. I’ll likely cold brew the rest of the packet because hot summers are hot.

Flavors: Alcohol, Cream, Drying, Honey, Malt, Raisins, Smooth, Toasty, Vanilla

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

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For the sipdown prompt “a tea the flavor of a trail mix ingredient.”

I haven’t had a warm evening cup of tea in ages due to the sweltering weather, but some rain has pushed in tonight and I really felt in the mood for some houjicha. I’ve already sipped down all my houjicha except for this pumpkin-flavored one, but I felt the flavor profile of this tea matched this sipdown prompt nicely: notes of oats, nuts, and a very savory pumpkin flavor. It’s giving me granola and pumpkin seed vibes, two of my favorite trail mix ingredients.

Flavors: Nutty, Oats, Pumpkin, Roasted, Roasted Nuts, Squash, Sweet, Umami, Walnut, Wood

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

Yummy, I really need to try all of these Ocharaka hojicha again, it’s been ages.


Huh, I never thought of granola existing in a trail mix before but that sounds amazingly delicious.

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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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