774 Tasting Notes


Much good. Wow cocoa.

A big mug of this tonight. Apparently December is going to be use all the teaware month. :)



What a unique design! And that’s a good idea, having a teaware month. So much of mine is packed away or just sits there whilst I use the same Nordic mug all over and over again.


I realized I’ve been doing the same thing. Figured I should be using stuff. After all, I have them because they are beautiful AND useful, right? :)


You got that mug!! I am so glad, I have been drooling over it for a month now, and I’m delighted you have one. And the tea sounds heavenly. I have been drinking an Upton version of that, but can’t quite get the parameters correct.


I couldn’t resist the mug on sale. :) It’s a perfect size to get settled in with a blanket and cats and not get up for awhile.

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Grabbed a tin of these sachets and a sample of plain old English Breakfast to see if I could tell the difference.

Verdict after a tasteoff: nope, can’t tell much difference and I don’t think I’m really an English Breakfast person at this point. I’d prefer a thick Assam, a Yunnan or a Taiwanese black to be my first cup of the day.

2.5 grams to 60 ml of just off of boiling water (tap water). Steeped for 35 seconds.

1. English Breakfast HT Blend:
dry leaf scent – like smelling freshly turned earth, hints of a malty scent
taste of liquor – light fruit, dry mouth feel, maltiness from scent not present
wet leaf scent – definitely fresh earth, this has a deeper, more complex scent than the normal EB. That would seem to indicate that the taste should be deeper and more complex and I am just not getting it.

2. English Breakfast:
dry leaf scent – light fruit and earth but not as fresh as the HT blend
taste of liquor – a somewhat lighter version of HT with more fruit notes coming to the fore, still induces a dry mouth feel. I don’t get any smoke and isn’t that what Keemuns are kind of known for? This is 100% Keemun according to the website.
wet leaf scent – reminds me of a second flush Darjeeling with a lot of fruit notes on top of the mild wet earth scent, no malt that I can discern

Always possible that if I try again with different steeping parameters (lower water temp, less tea) these may be easier to differentiate and I may like them better. For now, I get a lot of Ceylon taste in the HT blend and just basic tea from the EB, pretty much. If I had to decide tonight, I’d keep neither in my cupboard though I’d use the sachets when going out to restaurants as it is better than the junk you normally get there. :)



I am not really an English Breakfast person either, although if I mixed it with something else, maybe?


Yeah, maybe. I figure there are enough teas out there that I do love that I don’t have to have EB in my cupboard. :) I’ll use this stuff up without problem but it may be in iced tea for guests who don’t care or can’t tell the difference. There’s nothing wrong with these blends, either of them. Just not my first choices.

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Did a Jin Jun Mei tasteoff today, though I discovered afterwards that I had left out Verdant’s JJM. Ah, well. It’s a start.

Did 2 grams of tea to 50 ml of water at just below boiling. I did not use filtered water since I think that whether or not I keep tea on hand should depend largely on whether or not I like it with tap water. Steeped each for 15 seconds, tasted, let tea continue steeping another 60 seconds while tasting and tasted again. These notes are based on an overall impression, not separated out by 1st and 2nd steeps.

1. What-Cha China Fujian Wuyi ‘Jin Jun Mei’:
scent of dry leaf – meat and smoke
taste of liquor – smokiest of the 4 teas, savory meat, very drying to the mouth
leaf appearance – medium leaf size, some gold leaves, mostly black

2. YSG International (AliExpress) 2014 Top Wuyi Black Tea Jin Jun Mei:
scent of dry leaf – savory smoke and wet leather
taste of liquor – light ash and smoke, a little bit of sweet, more of sour, leaves mouth dry
leaf appearance – medium leaf size, some gold leaves, mainly black, not nearly as gold as the product picture on the site.

3. Shanshuijian (AliExpress) Jinjunmei Paulownia:
scent of dry leaf – hardest smoke & ash scent of the 4 teas, charred wood
taste of liquor – smoke, ash, bitterness, drying in mouth
leaf appearance – largest leaves, no golden leaves, all pretty uniform black
*note that this tasting varies from my earlier note on this because that was with filtered water at work. This should be a work tea since at home I am not very fond of it.

4. MinRiver Tea Jin Jun Mei:
scent of dry leaf – not much smoke and wet cat
taste of liquor – sour, sweet, fruity like date or fig
leaf appearance – smallest leaves, lightest liquor color



…and the verdict is?


I did kind of leave that off, didn’t I? The sad verdict is that I’m still looking for a MinRiver replacement. I like the Shanshijian the best of these, but not as much as the MinRiver by a long shot.


dope. well if i find any in my travels i will let you know :)


You are not a big JJM fan, are you? I seem to recall you kind of liking some but not nearly as much as some other straight blacks.


The Kimicha JJM is really good. The only one a friend of mine adores out of a bunch he’s tried!


Thx for the reccs! I’ll have to check out all of those.


@nicole just ‘cause they’re not my fav doesn’t mean i wouldn’t pick some up and send it to you and terri hahahaha


Oh, I know that – we are all shameless enablers. I was just gonna send you some till I remembered that it isn’t your thing.


haha i’ve found one or two that i like, but so far, since they’re middle of the road to me, better they go to you and terri. I did buy some the other day to see …so every noe and then i get some

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This is super good. Light but still sweet with creamy vanilla and some tart cidery appleness. Odd, but adding cream does not bring out the vanilla, but rather the floral notes in the oolong and that doesn’t mix well. I normally wouldn’t add cream to oolong but… I had some and it smelled like it might go well.

And breaking in the Calamityware Things Could Be Worse mug that just arrived today! Woot, woot!


Love, love, love the mug!


That mug is awesome.


How fun is that mug!


Oh dear. Is all of that your teaware? I have serious teaware envy right now.


I generally don’t buy mugs for teaware, but that one had to be done. :) I have a serious lust for his Calamityware china plates but they are way too cost prohibitive.

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Smells decent, looks okay. Steeped… ermahgerd… this is dessert in a cup. I get the hazelnut and the caramel, mostly the caramel. Tea is an aftertaste here, but that’s okay for what this is supposed to be. Little bit of orange but not a lot. The caramel is a fresh, buttery caramel taste, too. Add just a little splash of cream and wow does it feel like a dessert! I would not serve this with any food course at a tea party unless it was just a plain shortbread cookie. And then you’d leave the table feeling utterly decadent. As flavored teas go, this is off the charts.

And since I consider this a fundamentally unserious tea, I pulled out the frou-frou. :)

3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

Love the frou-frou … perfect! :-D


So cute!

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Taking some time tonight with a couple of these in the little tortoise and hare teapot. And feeding the tea ibex. He looks pretty good with the cones on his back. :)

This tea is still excellent. Om nom nom. Smooth and mellow malt and deliciousness without any smoke.



Awww the ibex is soooo cute!! :))


Ibex is super cute!!!


V. cute, I agree.

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drank Chai by Harney & Sons
774 tasting notes

This is nummy steeped with the cream for creme brulee. That is the entirety of this review. :) That, and since I am now officially out of Butiki chai, this one is at the top of my list for basic chai.


That’s good to know, I was wondering how it was. I haven’t found yet that I really really like.


I like Harney’s – it’s reasonably priced and I can taste the tea, not just the spices, but it isn’t weak on spices. It’s one of the better balanced chais I’ve tried.

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This is very floral. The scent is really nice and natural, not artificial smelling like perfume, but like flowers. Rose and lavender were the foremost notes in the liquor, bergamot took midrange for me and the rosemary I’m not sure about. I prefer this before it cools. After cooling, it takes on an unwelcome sweetness with the pure floral notes fading. The tea base blends well with the florals, a mild strength black tea. Going to experiment a bit with steeping parameters. It was good enough to drink it all, but I feel like there is more to be had from this tea.

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

One of my weaknesses — literary inspired tea blends! Floral, too!


I’ve been pondering whether I’d associate floral flavors with Will. (Ale, yes; tobacco and musty theater, yes; roses…hmmm? :)


I agree! Maybe if it was individually themed to each play, eg. one of his romances – rose would be more appropriate – but I would definitely go for something more malty or smokey, haha.


Black – ink coloured!


While tobacco and malt would go well with a theater atmosphere, he actually used flowers very frequently in his works. There is a small park inside Central Park in NY that is a Shakespeare garden with flowers and herbs he mentioned. Here are just a very few of my favorites. :)

From Midsummer Night’s Dream: I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight.

From The Winter’s Tale: Here’s flowers for you;
Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram;
The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun
And with him rises weeping: these are flowers
Of middle summer, and I think they are given
To men of middle age.

From Hamlet: There’s fennel for you, and columbines: there’s rue
for you; and here’s some for me: we may call it
herb-grace o’ Sundays: O you must wear your rue with
a difference. There’s a daisy: I would give you
some violets, but they withered all when my father
died: they say he made a good end,—

And of course, one of the most famous:

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

I love the tragedies and histories best so when I think of the Bard I think of metallic tang of weapons, coppery scent of blood and smoke of burning buildings. Not the most appealing of flavors to put in a tea, I imagine, though. :)


(Adding to my reading list!!!!) Love the Winter’s Tale passage.

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Oh my sweet T-Rex. This smells AMAZING. Snorting in the scent from the little sample bag it’s full of dried autumn fruits, brown sugar, and some hay. And the leaves are gorgeous. look like a moron over here at my desk with my nose stuffed deep in a bag. :)

Steeped, it turns into a warm leather, deep chocolate and yeast, sweet liquor with malt that is intense enough that I feel somewhat guilty drinking it at work. I don’t normally write tasting notes at work out here online, but I had to for this one. I must get some of this. More than a sample.

If I were being rational, I’d try this side by side with Assam Enigma and that other Assam I love from Golden Tips before I said I have to have a few ounces of this one. But rationality rarely enters into my tea purchases, I realize. I will, however, not buy unless it is on sale or with free shipping, so I should have at least a few days to do some testing. Harney seems to have had sales every few days for the last year or so. Some better than others, and not always a blanket X% on everything or free shipping, so I may have more time than I think. :)

Regardless, I am going to savor this sample.

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 45 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

oh man.. that sounds good.


Wow, this sounds amazing! Wish-listing it for when I allow myself to buy more tea!


Oooh, add another Harney & Sons tea to the wish list! :)


I’m finding that if I let Assams cool to just above warm rather than piping hot, those malts deepen and they become sweeter cups. Maybe just me, but…


I do the same thing!! I’m going to get a thermometer today so I can make sure I can reproduce my favorite tea experiences…I usually steep at boiling then wait about 20 minutes.

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Another to fit into random since I don’t think there probably needs to be an entry for an Ali Express seller that I can’t find in the database already. :)

This was the jin jun mei that I bought on 11/11 from Shanshuijian Tea Shop. I guess I wasn’t thinking about it when I bought. I figured I’d start my quest to find a replacement for Min River’s Jin Jun Mei and I was already ordering from this shop for a tea pet. This was acceptably priced during the sale. I did not register at all that I was ordering a pound of tea.

Good thing it’s pretty decent. :) I had 2 steepings at work today. Both Western style. Holy cats but this smells amazing in dry leaf. Malt, molasses, brown sugar and hay. First time was at boiling for 3 minutes. This is not the sweet spot for me. The smell of the dry leaf doesn’t translate well here. The taste was tobacco with some malt and mild smoke. It’s thick and savory with almost a saltiness to it.

Tried again in the afternoon for just off boiling for 2 minutes, about the same amount of leaf, 1.5 tsp or so. Super hot, it wasn’t impressive. I let it sit in the Libre for an hour or so, cooling down gradually. It was still hot when I tasted it again and paid attention but this time it was living up to the dry leaf scent. Honey, molasses, hay, malt… mmmm….

The true test is yet to come though. Have to try it here at home with my normal water and compare side by side with Min River. Even if it doesn’t replace that one, it’s plenty good. I still won’t use a whole pound of it in a year though. So if anyone wants any, holler and I’ll send you some, no cost.


This sounds really intriguing! Yes, I’d love to try some.


Yay! You’re trying to find your replacement!


Sounds delicious! I wouldn’t mind a little thrown in with my Harney order. :D


I can do that. Strange that the Harney hasn’t showed up yet…

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Tea afficianado & founder of the Midwest Tea Festival. I wish I could make a living creating and serving tea parties, but alas, bills prevent that possibility. :) So I make do by catering tea parties for friends and co-workers and drinking tons of tea with my cats on my lap. :) I am also the proprietor of Tea-Historic, a tiny online dinosaur themed tea shop.


Kansas City, MO



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