668 Tasting Notes


My last teabox oolong (this one came from the Discovery Teabox, so thanks to Skysamurai for coordinating and all who contributed!), and also my last milk oolong from my cupboard (booooooo!) until I restock one.

My sample was just the right size for about the leaf-to-water ratio I use when I cold brew a litre of oolong, and I have never tried milk oolong that way (though I have done other green oolongs cold brewed, and typically love them that style!) so I figured I’d go for it. 7.5g of leaf (I usually use 8g but eh, close enough!) in about 946ml of water in a mason jar, left to brew in the fridge overnight, and then strained the next morning. I’ve been sipping it out of a cold thermos throughout the hot (too hot!) day.

Refreshing, still with buttered vegetable notes. I’m getting a bit of a fresh cucumber/zuccini note, which is the first time I’ve tasted that in a Jin Xuan… not sure if it happens to be this particular variety and harvest or the cold brew preparation, but it is very pleasant. The florality feels a little more muted to me prepared this way… It’s coming out a bit as a floral sweetness at the back of the throat toward the end of the sip, but not as a strong flavor. It tastes a bit more green or herbaceous… like a very sweet grass rather than blossomy/perfumy. The butter note is still quite present, and on some sips it really lingers on the tongue.

I’ll certainly miss having a milk oolong around, but know it’ll never be too long before another will make its way back into my cupboards… I love the stuff! Thanks for allowing me to sample this one!

Flavors: Butter, Cucumber, Floral, Grass, Sweet, Vegetal, Zucchini

Iced 8 min or more 7 g 32 OZ / 946 ML
White Antlers

Mandala’s is my favorite milk oolong for cold brew. Good for multiple resteeps.

Mastress Alita

Mandala’s is one I definitely want to sample at some point!

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There are some things about being a tea drinker that I have learned over the years make me “unqualified” to be a “proper” tea drinker:

1) I don’t like doing gong fu sessions. They take up too much of my time, which I don’t have, and make me feel too “water heavy” on tea. Like, I just don’t need to drink that much tea at once. Even if that is the “right way” to drink a tea, I’d rather make it western because one cup that I can brew all at once works better for me…
2) I hate resteeping me leaves. Call me sacriledge, but I swear they never taste as good on resteeps.
3) No matter how many times I’ve tried, I just can’t seem to warm up to pu’erh. It always tastes like dirt or swamp water to me. And I’ve tried a lot…
4) I seem to like every single ingredient that is universally hated. And that includes hibiscus and licorice root (while I loathe all the “reknowned” banana teas…)

So, this falls solidly into #1 this morning. Another Discovery Teabox tea (thanks to Skysamurai for coordinating and all who contributed!), I took a 2g sample which I know I should brew gong fu, but damn it all, I just want a simple cup of tea for breakfast and brewed it in 8oz of 205F water for a 3 minute steep.

The aroma smells very nutty! I’m getting plantain, roasted nuts, and minerals in the aroma wafting off the cup. Maybe also a little wood and spice. The flavor is reminding me a lot of the Adagio “Fujian Rain” that I’ve been sipping down recently. I’m getting a roasted flavor with a somewhat malty flavor that is a little honey sweet with a touch of cinnamon spice, with a strong roasted nuts, quite walnutty, that fills out the sip. There is a minerality that settles on the tongue toward the end of the sip, and there is a subtle plantain note in the aftertaste.

Satisfying, even if I drank it the “wrong” way!

Flavors: Cinnamon, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Roasted nuts, Toasty, Walnut, Wet Rocks, Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
Roswell Strange

1. There is no “right” way to drink your tea outside of the way that you enjoy it; don’t let people shame you for not brewing Gongfu or any other method: they’re being snobs, and are not worth your time/concern.

2. If you don’t like to resteep you don’t like the resteep – nothing wrong with that. Outside of Gongfu, I don’t resteep either – I want to fill my day with as many teas as possible. In a broader sense, there are advantages to either side of the argument – but those advantage may not apply to you and if so, then fuck ’em! Do what you want.

3. You can’t force yourself to like something – that’s not how taste works. If you’re experimented/tried different things out and you’re still not feeling pu’erh don’t force yourself to keep trying it and don’t feel bad for not liking it. Honestly, you’re saving yourself a lot of money by not getting hooked on it, anyway XD

4. See same point about tastes be individual and outside of your control! Also, they can’t be universally hated because then they wouldn’t be used to frequently in tea. Maybe your tastes don’t largely overlap with a bunch of the people here who very vocally hate licorice or who love banana teas – but your people are out there!

White Antlers

I laughed with delight at your ‘dislikes.’ I have been drinking tea for many decades. Still don’t much care for pu erh after years of trying, prefer not to gong fu, using a gaiwan or having repeated resteeps. I much prefer to make a pot of hot tea or a pitcher of cold and enjoy in a relaxed way. I also don’t have any interest in taking leaves I’ve used for a pot of hot tea and resteeping them as a cold brew. Maybe I am a wasteful tea barbarian, but I don’t care. It’s my house, my tea.


Ha! You and I share quite a few ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ when it comes to tea. I brew everything western style, I’m not a pu’erh fan (but I’ll still try them once in a while), and I rarely resteep my leaves. Like Ros said, if you enjoy it then you’re doing it right. :)


I agree with what everyone else is saying. There’s no “wrong” way to drink tea; just do what makes you happy. I’ve tried valiantly to like green tea, but it still isn’t something I gravitate toward. The same applies to puerh, though I haven’t had many of them. If, like most of us, tea is a hobby and not a job, there’s no reason to drink anything you don’t like or to brew it in a certain way.

White Antlers

Ah, Leafhopper. Yes-green tea. Another one that I’ve never been able to embrace, hot or iced. I find it too grassy, vegetal and fussy but I don’t have to drink it, so more for other folks to enjoy.

Mastress Alita

Perhaps I’ve been inundated with too many pretty little gong fu setup pictures lately and feel, as White Antlers put it, like a “wasteful tea barbarian” for drinking my coffee mugs of western brewed hot leaf juice every morning where I promptly dump the leaf afterward. :P Thanks for the smile, y’all.


Yes, White Antlers, grassy, vegetal, and fussy is also how I’d describe green tea. It doesn’t help that I don’t have a variable temperature kettle, so I have to check the water for each infusion with a thermometer.

Mastress Alita, my usual gongfu setup isn’t pretty and is very utilitarian. I have an inexpensive 120 ml porcelain teapot and some 150 ml cups, and I steep two infusions at a time. The second cup of tea is sometimes cold, but at least I don’t have to heat up the kettle ten or more times during a session. I think for some people the teaware is part of the experience, and it’s fun to use clay teaware on occasion, but for daily use it’s a hassle. That’s all to say that a lot of people don’t have elaborate setups or photo-worthy tea sessions. :)

White Antlers

Since we’re airing our ‘tea laundry,’ and confession is good for the soul, when I first started out trying to drink pu erh, I had no clue what to do with it so I’d break off a small chunk, put it in a pyrex measuring cup, fill that with water then chuck it in the microwave for 2 minutes or so. I’d strain that into a big, heavy, 12 ounce coffe mug and pour in some cream or half and half. In retrospect, I liked it much better that way than gong fu. On the rare times I have pu erh now, I brew it Western style and no tea police have broken down my door yet.


Thanks for the note that made me laugh. We barbarians need to stick together.

Martin Bednář

As I used to say: “As long you like it, you are doing it well!”
I prefer to do gong-fu while doing pu-erh, but I did some grandpa brewing too, as well western. No big issue! I don’t mind you guys prepare it somehow else. Tea should make you happy, not too tense about “correct” preparations!


Yes, you are a “proper tea drinker”, Mastress Alita! Nevermind the snobs. :D

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Decided against better judgment to stay home with the migraine today (work gets pissy whenever someone happens to “be sick” on a Monday or Friday, but damn it all) so I promptly got a batch of this cold-brewing first thing this morning so I could sip on it throughout the day to help with the nausea. Mint and ginger are two of the only things that help curb that rather unfortunate side effect. I don’t have a Trader Joe’s anywhere near me, but my friend Todd sent me a box of this from one of his Bay Area stores when he made a Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Gold run for me (which is another tea that isn’t sold in any of my local stores). Popped four teabags in a quart-sized mason jar and left it until it was that brown color you expect of mint tea.

Cool. Refreshing. Has that nice, fresh, cool menthol mintiness of spearmint that settles in the back of the throat and is calming on the tum. Mildly grassy from the green tea, and there is a gentle citrusy burst from the lemongrass, but the spearmint is the dominant note. Satisfying. I should get another jar steeping now as it will probably go quickly.

Thanks Todd!

Flavors: Citrus, Grass, Menthol, Mint, Spearmint

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

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Continuing to work on teas from the Discovery Teabox (thanks to Skysamurai for coordinating and all who contributed!), I brewed this up for my breakfast this morning. I had a terrible migraine yesterday (which I worked through 8 hours at work, then promptly passed out the second I got home and fed the cat yesterday) and it still isn’t quite broken and I have another 8 hours of work ahead of me, so I wanted some caffeine against the lingering pain. Hense, a hardy black for breakfast. Used a 2.5g sample in 350ml 205F water, western brew, for a 3 minute steep.

This tea had long, twisty dark leaves, and the brew has a deeply malty aroma, that smells very warm and bready, with a hint of cinnamon. The flavor has notes of malt, baked bread, a bit of lemon citrus, and a very subtle hint of spice. There is a bit of mild astringency and drying on the tongue after the sip. It’s a quite solid breakfast-type tea, deep, malty, and satisfying. It would probably take additives well, if I felt in the mood for that.

Thanks for the share, tea_sipper!

Flavors: Astringent, Baked Bread, Citrus, Drying, Lemon, Malt, Spices

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

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Continuing to work on teas from the Discovery Teabox (thanks to Skysamurai for coordinating and all who contributed!), I brewed this up to have with my mandarin for breakfast this morning. I only took a 3g sample from the box, and I normally use more leaf with herbals (especially fine rooibos/honeybush), so to compensate I dropped my water from a 12 oz. cup to an 8 oz. cup, and hopefully that will balance things out. If it doesn’t, well, that was just me being stingy and trying to not take much leaf from the box, I guess.

The aroma is very pleasant, though! It definitely has a pungent scent of blueberries and cinnamon, and a sweetness that makes me think of something warm and gooey and pastry-like. The blueberry isn’t as strong on the tongue as it is on the nose (or maybe I’m just too spoiled by how juicy 52Tea’s blueberry comes off), but it is definitely present. The cinnamon is a bit of a stronger note than the fruit but not overwhelming, and is very sweet; it tastes like a cinnamon-sugar toast spread to me. The base is sweet, and while some rooibos waxes more woody or medicinal (I especially get medicinal notes often when its paired with fruit flavors, ala cough syrup), I am not getting that in this tea at all… I’m picking up more on notes of honey and vanilla.

This is a really nice tea! Maybe not quite as good as the Apple Cinnamon French Toast, but close!

Thanks for the share, tea_sipper!

Flavors: Blueberry, Cinnamon, Honey, Sweet, Vanilla

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 235 ML

I’m glad you liked this! I agree – not as good as Apple Cinnamon French Toast, but I don’t think many teas can be better than that anyway. :D

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This is another tea from the Discovery Teabox (thanks to Skysamurai for coordinating and all who contributed!) I think I ran into LST (Love Some Tea) at the San Francisco International Tea Festival 2018, but considering I have a hard time remembering what I did last week let alone something from two years ago, I have no idea if this was one of the teas they had out for sample that day. Anyway, it was in this teabox, so I took a 2.5g sample to try. I prepared it cold brew style, letting it steep overnight in 350ml of water.

This tea is listed as a blend of black and green leaf, with lots of flower petals and dried mango and papaya with some natural flavorings. My sample, I’ll note, is only tea leaf, with no petals or dried fruit (maybe what was left in the bag?) I also don’t know the age of the sample… my brew is a light yellow color, and has a very faint sweet honeysuckle-esque aroma. The flavor tastes mostly like a crisp green tea — like sweet grass, with some subtle honey notes. I am not getting any fruit notes at all, and only a subtle florality that mostly reads as a bit of sweetness. I think this is mostly due to the selection/age of my sample more than the tea itself, though. It still made for a refreshing iced tea, based just on the tea leaf without the additives or flavorings.

I’m going to leave this unrated since I feel I didn’t get a fair representation of this one, but I appreciate the chance to try it all the same.

Flavors: Floral, Grass, Honey, Honeysuckle, Sweet, Vegetal

Iced 8 min or more 2 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

I have some of this tea from another teabox, haven’t even tried it yet. I will soon!

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Another tea I yoinked from the Discovery Teabox (thanks to Skysamurai for coordinating and all who contributed!) I have been curious about this one since I saw derk’s initial review, and those of some folks she traded with, so when I saw it in the teabox I knew I had to try it. Brewed up a small teapot to have with my potstickers for dinner.

The tea looks like a rooibos in its reddish-orange color, but has a strong herbal aroma, with a hint of floral sweetness to it. The scent reminds me of fresh yellow dandelions, with a backdrop of vegetal hay. It also has a spicy aroma, a bit peppery. The flavor is slightly floral, but leaning more to the herbaceous side. I get a vegetal, warm grassy/hay flavor, with a sweet floral taste that somehow reminds me of chamomile without the unpleasant soapiness that makes me dislike chamomile so much. There is a sharpness at the back of my tongue, toward the end of the sip, that I can only describe as citrusy. A strange amalgamation of herbaceous, floral, and citrus notes, but altogether very pleasant.

Thanks for sharing!

Flavors: Citrus, Dandelion, Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Hot hay, Pepper, Vegetal

205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

I almost had this today, digging through my neglected Yunnan Sourcing teas. sigh.

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I grabbed this out of the Discovery Teabox (thanks to Skysamurai for coordinating and all who contributed!) because I have never heard of lotus flavored tea and, liking floral teas, was simply curious about it. I took a 2g sample from the box, with no guesses as to age of the sample… it’s definitely been sitting in my house now for far longer than I really should’ve allowed (I’m now putting getting all teabox teas sipped down at a priority, even if that means “drinking them the wrong way and not doing time-consuming gong fu sessions that I just can never fit into my schedule”).

Brewed, it does have a floral aroma, but it’s very delicate. There is a honeysuckle sort of sweet aroma, but also a vegetal sort of note, like a marshy/water plant aroma? The black tea base itself (from Cambodia), smells of malt, honey, orange marmalade, and hay. The flavor… isn’t really a floral black like I was expecting. It’s a nice black tea, malty but not astringent, with a bit of honeyed sweetness, but there is a sort of vegetal quality at the back of the throat that reminds me a bit of that wet, marshy taste I usually get in pu’erh, just not quite as strong. I certainly like this better than the “swamp marsh” tasting pu’s I’ve had… this is a much smoother flavor, and every now and then, at the end of a sip, a subtle sweet hint of florality will pop up on the tongue, in the aftertaste. It’s a rather strange tea. Certainly nothing I’ve tasted before. I’m still not exactly sure what the “lotus flavoring” is… but I am glad I got to try something so unique, so thanks to whoever shared this one!

Flavors: Floral, Honey, Honeysuckle, Malt, Smooth, Sweet, Vegetal, Wet Earth, Wet Moss

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

I have no idea what Lotus would taste like! Glad you reviewed!

Mastress Alita

Well, even after drinking it, I’m still not sure what it should taste like either, hahaha!

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drank Fujian Rain by Adagio Teas
668 tasting notes

One of my old Adagio samples that I’m working on sipping down, now that I’ve finished all my old Tealyra stuff off. The leaves are very long, twisty, and dark, and smell almost chocolately in the bag. Brewed western, 2.8g in 350ml @ 205F for 3 min.

The tea smells like malt, honey, caramel, and strongly of roasted nuts. It has a pleasant roasted flavor; I’m getting notes of malt, toasted bread, roasted nuts (particularly a more earthy walnut flavor), honey, and a bittersweet cocoa that settles toward the end of the sip. There is a hint of a cherry note, as well, but it is subtle. There is some earthiness and minerality as well, but the tea is quite smooth. I’m really enjoying this one.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Cherry, Cocoa, Dark Bittersweet, Earth, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Nutty, Roasted, Roasted nuts, Smooth, Toast, Walnut

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

Yum. This sounds lovely. I really need to revisit Adagio. It’s been a while!

Mastress Alita

I’m not much of a fan of the flavored stuff (though I do like the obnoxiously strong rose one, but I’m a fan of obnoxiously strong rose flavoring!) but some of the straight teas are aight. I really like the Fujian Baroque Chinese black.


Oh, I need to try the rose one!

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I’ve tried a few different Rooibos EG’s and haven’t liked a single one thus far. I’ve had this one in my cupboard for ages and have yet to have tried it, probably because of my bad track record with bergamot on rooibos. However, I’m out of a black lavender EG and that was what I was craving to go with my lemon poppyseed cookie, so I finally decided to try this. Maybe the lavender made a big difference, because I actually didn’t mind this. The bergamot tastes a little grapefruity, but doesn’t come across too sour, even on the lighter base. The lavender is lovely and strongly floral, and pairs well with the strong citrus flavor of the bergamot. The rooibos is a strong flavor, a bit woody, hay-like, and sweet. I wouldn’t select this over a good black lavender EG, but this is surprisingly suitable for a rooibos alternative when I have traditionally hated bergamot paired with rooibos.

Flavors: Bergamot, Citrus, Floral, Grapefruit, Honey, Hot hay, Lavender, Sweet, Tart, Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 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: Dazzle Deer teas, What-cha 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: 79
Sipdown Count for 2020: 100


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! I cannot participate in any tea boxes, group orders, tea exchanges, or accept any tea gifts at this point in time. 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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