88
drank Butterscotch by Art of Tea
540 tasting notes

Holiday Tea-son! Some time ago, I had sampled a Butterscotch White tea that I got in a holiday sampler pack from Art of Tea, which I reviewed here: https://steepster.com/mastressalita/posts/365383 . I really enjoyed it, but instead of restocking it from Art of Tea (since they are quite expensive), I found a close match for it from Tealyra at the time, called “Butterscotch Potion,” as it was on a big discount, so I bought a bag there instead. All the ingredients listed were the same. Tealyra no longer carries the blend, but I know Tealyra gets their flavored blends by wholesaling, so I was trying to dig into where they sourced the blend. I could find lots of other tea sites carrying the same blend, and all of them had the blend as a fall/winter seasonal… the same as Art of Tea. Hmmmmmmmm. This led me to believe that Tealyra, and all the other sites were all wholesaling it directly from Art of Tea (Art of Tea lists that the origin of their blend is an “Art of Tea original” and I’d hate to think they are saying that while wholesaling it too, and I know Art of Tea themselves have a wholesale option). So, I was going to review this under Tealyra, thinking they’d wholesaled some “duplicate” of the Art of Tea blend but… no, I think I really do have a (much cheaper!) bag of the original Art of Tea blend that I had originally enjoyed so much. I even checked all the major blend wholesalers and am feeling pretty confident here. If nothing else, the over-abundance of “wholesale/relabel culture” from teashops does mean you might find the exact same blend under a different name for a waaaaay better price per ounce somewhere else if you are willing to do a little searching around by ingredient list of your tea of choice…

So I don’t usually review the same tea more than once, but that review was from my baby days on Steepster, and I haven’t had this tea in ages. My tea-brewing game has likely changed quite a bit since then, so I wouldn’t be surprised if my brewed cup, palate, and thus rating has changed as well. So I may as well revisit this one.

I know a year ago, I expected very bold flavors, which I don’t expect so much now; in fact, I now actually prefer a bit more nuance, with the base notes coming through more, and the flavors in the cup to taste more natural than really strong or artificial. So I took care to not put too much leaf in my cup, and I am really enjoying this; it actually has a really nice butterscotch flavor, without tasting overwhelming. There is a silky, buttery mouthfeel to the tea that is very pleasant and satisfying; I feel like I pick up a slight coconut milk sort of flavor note, which may have a lot to do with the creamy texture? Before the tea reminded me of Werthers, but that was probably from overleafing or adding sugars, things I don’t do now; I’d say it’s a more subtle butterscotch flavor, present but not overbearing on the white tea, with lots of sweet buttery notes, and hints of caramel. Almost like a caramel popcorn sort of taste that pops toward the end of the sip. There seems to be some vegetal notes lingering in the cup, but the sweetness and buttery notes keep them very muted.

It’s a really nice dessert tea, and very relaxing. I think I like this a bit more than I remember, because I think I can appreciate some of the more nuanced flavors a bit more now than I could a year ago. Raising the rating slightly!

Flavors: Butter, Butterscotch, Caramel, Coconut, Creamy, Popcorn, Sweet, Vegetal

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 12 OZ / 350 ML
AJRimmer

What’s your method for figuring out which teas are relabeled and where they come from originally? I’ve tried to figure this out in the past, but websites don’t seem to be very transparent about where their teas come from. I would love to know so I could price shop better in the future!

Mastress Alita

They really are not transparent. It’s the curse of the wholesale/relabeling culture and I sort of hate it. I don’t care that they are selling teas that come from other sources, but as a librarian, I have this “cite your damn source!” mentality ingrained in me. I do have some training as a reference librarian from library science courses (though I’m actually a cataloger at my library!) so I am a bit good at snooping around online, but still a lot of it comes down to deduction and making best assumptions in many cases. Using tea ingredient lists is the main factor. If a lot of small, independent tea sites all list a tea that has the exact same ingredients in the blend, even if the tea has “different names”, it is pretty much a sure sign they are all getting it from the same wholesale source, since they can relabel the blend with any name and list their own shop as the “source”. Since these are all the same blend, then you can basically look between these sites to see who is offering the best price-per-ounce, shipping, etc. for the blend.

When I’m trying to discover the source of a flavored blend, there are four major wholesale sources that don’t sell directly to consumers, and I tend to check their blends first: ITI (International Tea Importers), Metropolitan Tea Company, East Indies Coffee & Tea Company, and Dethlefsen & Balk. The majority of most flavored blends on tea sites come from one of those four companies, which is why it’s so easy to just get the exact same tea from a different tea shop. (For example, I’ve recently run into Dethlefsen & Balk blends on Fusion Teas, Tealyra, and The Angry Tea Room). If I don’t find an ingredient match from the teas of those “big four”, then I start looking at the “big popular” tea companies that also offer wholesale options: Adagio, Harney & Sons, Tea Guys, Art of Tea, etc. You’d be surprised how many smaller brick and morter tea shops actually buy teas from other retailers that are available directly to consumers and aren’t “wholesale only”, and then simply change the name of the blend (and sometimes don’t, even using the exact same blend name!) and then sell it for a way higher price-per-ounce. The closest tea shop to me (which is still two hours away), Snake River Tea in Boise, I’ve found Adagio tea blends being sold for $4 an ounce! I get that they have a brick and morter store, and that requires rent and upkeep, but seriously… why would I ever pay that when that same tea is available to me on their website for $8 for 3 oz?

Sometimes I’m able to Nancy Drew out the source, sometimes I can’t find it despite my best efforts, and sometimes I’m making my best guess/assumption based on everything I’ve found.

AJRimmer

Thanks for your very thorough response! I really do wish brands would tell you where their teas are from, mostly because I want to support small brands while also not ordering lots of duplicates. But if that’s not to be, now I know where to look, so thanks!

lizwykys

Ditto that AJRimmer! I’ve read some of your thoughts about this before, Mastress Alita, but thanks for such an in-depth explanation!

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AJRimmer

What’s your method for figuring out which teas are relabeled and where they come from originally? I’ve tried to figure this out in the past, but websites don’t seem to be very transparent about where their teas come from. I would love to know so I could price shop better in the future!

Mastress Alita

They really are not transparent. It’s the curse of the wholesale/relabeling culture and I sort of hate it. I don’t care that they are selling teas that come from other sources, but as a librarian, I have this “cite your damn source!” mentality ingrained in me. I do have some training as a reference librarian from library science courses (though I’m actually a cataloger at my library!) so I am a bit good at snooping around online, but still a lot of it comes down to deduction and making best assumptions in many cases. Using tea ingredient lists is the main factor. If a lot of small, independent tea sites all list a tea that has the exact same ingredients in the blend, even if the tea has “different names”, it is pretty much a sure sign they are all getting it from the same wholesale source, since they can relabel the blend with any name and list their own shop as the “source”. Since these are all the same blend, then you can basically look between these sites to see who is offering the best price-per-ounce, shipping, etc. for the blend.

When I’m trying to discover the source of a flavored blend, there are four major wholesale sources that don’t sell directly to consumers, and I tend to check their blends first: ITI (International Tea Importers), Metropolitan Tea Company, East Indies Coffee & Tea Company, and Dethlefsen & Balk. The majority of most flavored blends on tea sites come from one of those four companies, which is why it’s so easy to just get the exact same tea from a different tea shop. (For example, I’ve recently run into Dethlefsen & Balk blends on Fusion Teas, Tealyra, and The Angry Tea Room). If I don’t find an ingredient match from the teas of those “big four”, then I start looking at the “big popular” tea companies that also offer wholesale options: Adagio, Harney & Sons, Tea Guys, Art of Tea, etc. You’d be surprised how many smaller brick and morter tea shops actually buy teas from other retailers that are available directly to consumers and aren’t “wholesale only”, and then simply change the name of the blend (and sometimes don’t, even using the exact same blend name!) and then sell it for a way higher price-per-ounce. The closest tea shop to me (which is still two hours away), Snake River Tea in Boise, I’ve found Adagio tea blends being sold for $4 an ounce! I get that they have a brick and morter store, and that requires rent and upkeep, but seriously… why would I ever pay that when that same tea is available to me on their website for $8 for 3 oz?

Sometimes I’m able to Nancy Drew out the source, sometimes I can’t find it despite my best efforts, and sometimes I’m making my best guess/assumption based on everything I’ve found.

AJRimmer

Thanks for your very thorough response! I really do wish brands would tell you where their teas are from, mostly because I want to support small brands while also not ordering lots of duplicates. But if that’s not to be, now I know where to look, so thanks!

lizwykys

Ditto that AJRimmer! I’ve read some of your thoughts about this before, Mastress Alita, but thanks for such an in-depth explanation!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

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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!

Currently Sipping Down: TeaSource’s Raspberry Lemonade, ITI’s Tropical White, ITI’s Kalahari

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 2019: 66
Sipdown Count for 2019: 92

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! 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!)

Location

Idaho, United States

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