Featured & New Tasting Notes

84

‘Samurai’ Traveling Teabox – Tea #10
A very tightly rolled, jade green oolong.   The flavor is great but it’s tough to pick apart the flavors.  The second steep might be the best after the first steep is just beginning to blossom.   The third steep isn’t exactly oversteeped, but it doesn’t have that delicateness of flavor that was lovely in the second steep.  The fourth steep: the flavor becomes more distinct and it tastes of orchids and vanilla.  Perfect.  I just wish it didn’t take so long for the flavor to get to that point. The leaves had certainly been unraveled by the third steep.   Probably Western steeping isn’t the best for this one.  I still feel I shouldn’t have steeped it for two minutes earlier on and I’m very glad I only used one teaspoon.
Steep #1  // 1 teaspoon for full mug // 22 minutes after boiling  // rinse // 1 1/2 minute steep
Steep #2  // 16 minutes after boiling //  1 1/2 min
Steep #3 // 12 minutes after boiling // 2 min
Steep #4 // just boiled // 2 min

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80

I’ve had my eye on this beautiful tea for the last two years, and I finally bought some. I’m drinking it warm, which probably isn’t how it’s meant to be enjoyed, but I like it like this! The flavor is almost like white grape. It’s so light and delicate. It’s also pleasant cold. I’m not sure it’s great enough to order again, but I definitely enjoyed my one ounce of it!

gmathis

Oooh. It’s been a while since I had a good grapey tea. This sounds good!

AJRimmer

I just finished it up today, and I miss it already! I guess I was wrong when I said I wouldn’t buy it again!

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73

I grabbed this sample with the Japanese Orange matcha sample I tried from the same company. They claim to add sugarcane and sugar syrup to their soil to enhance the natural sweetness of the tea. Not sure if I buy that, but it was a perfectly decent bowl of matcha. Very smooth flavor, nicely grassy with only mild bitterness.

Mastress Alita

I bought a sencha at a tea festival where they said the same thing about using sugarcane in the soil to enhance natural sweetness in the sencha. It was one of the best sencha I’d ever sampled, I will say that, so I do have to wonder about the merit of it…

amandastory516

Interesting! The same brand does have a sencha that has won at the Global Tea Championships, I wonder if it’s the same company!

Mastress Alita

Oh! I think it is, now that I look closer… was the sencha called Issaku? Whether the sugar cane story was salesman snake oil or not, my friend and I loved that sencha sample at the Portland Tea Fest and both ended up going home with some!

amandastory516

I believe so! I’m very curios to try it. I don’t mind their claims, as long as the tea tastes good.

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76

Made a mug of this in the morning today; I was really intrigued by the concept because it seemed so weird and out there to me – but then a coworker pointed out how common it is to see lemon or lime zest paired with dark chocolate in bar form and it seemed a lot less strange to me…

This really is just a hot cup of cocoa though; like making a flavoured instant hot chocolate but without the sugar in most instant hot chocolate mixes. I feel very on the fence about whether or not this should be considered “tea” or a “tea powder” given that it literally has no tea in it, and it’s more cocoa-y that herbal or fruit infusion.

It tastes nice, but still a little weird to me. The chocolate/cocoa is very smooth and rich, with quite a nice coating sweetness all over my palate. I enjoyed the other cocoa matcha that I tried from Bird & Blend in my advent calendar this past Christmas, and this isn’t an exception. I do get a little sourness/tartness from the lime, it’s bright and sweet but not stronger or more intense than the chocolate. So, it’s definitely there – albeit a very fake tasting lime. You have to remember, of course, that there isn’t any actual lime in the blend though aside from the naturally lime flavoured granules that have been mixed into the cocoa powder so that’s to be expected.

I think the reason this combination still feels so weird to my palate is because of the way I’m used to seeing lime zest and chocolate paired together, though. You don’t see it with milk chocolate, typically, but with dark chocolate. If the flavour of the cocoa in this powder was a little bit darker and had a touch of bitterness I think my brain would accept it a lot more.

Even still, neat concept and not a bad execution!

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60

I made this by mixing it in warm milk and I feel like I should love it but I don’t. It’s got a custardy taste and mouthfeel and has a burnt sugar vibe to it but I’m just not loving it as much as I hoped. Not sure why but that’s where I’m at with this.

Shanie O Maniac

Wow. Oddly enough, this tastes like something I would love. Kinda sounds like Creme Brulee, which I adore in any form.

VariaTEA

Honestly I love Creme brulee too which is why I don’t understand why this didn’t work for me. Everything about it screamed I should love it and I just didn’t.

Martin Bednář

Maybe the base wasn’t that good?

VariaTEA

I think it was just me tbh

Martin Bednář

I can’t say that, because I haven’t got a matcha from B&B yet (I have one small sample though) and moreover, I never had this one.
Maybe, it’s just you. Maybe it is not that good.

VariaTEA

Lol fair enough though having had others from B&B that I’ve enjoyed, plus being able to appreciate that this doesn’t taste bad in any way and other positive reviews, I think it’s just me and this one don’t get along and that’s perfectly fine since I, like so many others, have more tea than I know what to do with :P

Shanie O Maniac

Hey, you like what you like. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense.

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70

Had this one last weekend, it was technically the last tea that I had in my old apartment but it wasn’t necessarily selected as such. I had it with a plate of mini scones while reading Febuary’s ‘Book of the Month’ (part of my goal of reading a book a month this year), which is Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman…

The tea was paired with the scones – which were almond cranberry with maple syrup. This tea, despite the name, has always been more of a sweet almond so I knew it would compliment those scone flavours perfectly. Truly it was delicious; the scones were sweet and nutty with those nutty elements and a little pop of acidity. The tea was malty and rich, with hints of almond and a baked bread note. Very dense and decadent but sometimes you just want/need comfort like that!

It was a good farewell to the apartment.

ashmanra

How sweet!

ashmanra

Whoops! That was supposed to go on the review for Zhen Wu!

AJRimmer

I love that I have a job now where I get an hour break every day, so in the six months that I’ve had this job, I’ve read more books than in the past several years! I hope you find lots of joy in working toward your goal (:

tea-sipper

Since you’re reading Gaiman and I know you like graphic novels, you should try the Neverwhere graphic novel. (It’s where I got my avatar.)

Roswell Strange

I actually have the Neverwhere book set aside for my March book! However, if I like the book I’ll definitely add the graphic novel to my normal graphic novel reading. I definitely read A LOT more than one graphic novel a month, but I’m working on focusing monthly on a physical/proper novel since I realized that between all my graphic novels I’ve not read a proper book cover to cover in almost a year (prior to January).

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Nightcap to a dinner of homemade green curry. I’ve never had straight verbena. Pleasing, mellow aroma. Sip is citrusy and herbaceous followed by a unique, light sweetness. The aftertaste is fantastic and lingering. I couldn’t figure out how to describe it beyond green-sweet-citrus-floral(ish) but then I saw Mariage Frères mentions a taste of candied citron. That’s it. Lovely.

Flavors: Citrusy, Floral, Green, Herbaceous, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 7 min, 0 sec 12 OZ / 354 ML
gmathis

That sounds so soothing!

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93

For some reason this tea was not in my steepster cupboard but I have a lot of it since I stocked up when AQ2T announced they were going out of business. Tbh I have been a bit terrified to try it since I received it in August because I have been panicking that it would not be nearly as good as I remembered. However, steeped it has made my entire bedroom smell as mouthwatering as I recall this tea tasting. With that said, I managed to let it get quite cold and while it does remind me of the last batch, the base comes out a bit more at this temperature and the berry is a touch tart. However, I know the love is not gone and I probably just need to drink this while it is still at least warm.

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10
drank Citrus by Regalo
464 tasting notes

What was this “tea”?
Company motto is “Ceylon’s gift to the world”
I think they meant German word Gift, not English one. In German it means poison.

THIS WAS TERRIBLE.
I have hoped it is black tea with citrus fruits. Their website: www.empireteas.com did not brought any results of this (or other teas). I have been warned by it, but still I wanted to try.

Oh, and I haven’t noticed the ingredients list on the backside. But it is there.

So, apparently it does not include any tea at all. But hey, it was so bad! Even smell of dry bag reminded me dish soap, artificial lemon, drying, medicinal. Taste, even brewed with almost boiling water… was disgusting! It was soooo artificial, sour and not even close to lemon. I would rather drink straight lemon juice than this tea again.

Yes, I finished my mug of tea… but luckily I was eating Scottish butter cookies along, otherwise I will throw up.

Bleh, never again. I have few more tea bags of this company, but now, I am not really sure if I want to try it.

Flavors: Artificial, Drying, Lemon, Lemon Zest, Medicinal, Sour

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 8 OZ / 250 ML
Leafhopper

Yuck! Lemon teas can be awful. Maybe you could save it by making ice tea with it . . . or you could just throw it out!

ashmanra

Ewwwwww! Sorry you had a bad tea experience. Or in this case, a “not really tea” experience.

Martin Bednář

This was certainly the worst. I don’t know if in lifetime, but certainly in my Steepster time. Yuck.

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100
drank Paris by Harney & Sons
2793 tasting notes

Happy Valentines day!
My goodness, we’re halfway through February already? Where is the time going? Ack!
It’s time to unearth an old favorite. I think I’m always going to like this one, it tastes light and fruity and lovely, and some days thats just all that I need!

gmathis

Funny o

gmathis

Oops. Funny how everybody’s seasonal outlook differs…I’m in “spring can’t get here soon enough” mode! I have one sachet of Paris tucked away; I guess I was holding off for a special occasion. February 14 counts, I’m sure!

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OK, experts, are TenRen and TenFu cousins? Stepbrothers? Identical twins? A friend whose husband travels shared a little two-teaspoon sample packet with print so small it was nearly indecipherable. Anyway, my bifocals are pretty sure the label said TenFu, but the logo was almost indistinguishable from TenRen and the lovely, long blonde leaves look just like the ones in this picture. Everything else was in Chinese.

Tea itself: Superb. Sweet wheat bread. Will resteep this last spoonful as many times as possible before it becomes dishwater.

ashmanra

Neat! Sounds nice, but I have no idea on the ren vs fu thing,

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89

I don’t even know how to convey how excited I am to have a large stash of this tea at my disposal now, but I am VERY stoked about it! I’ve been hoarding this tea, along with all my apple blends from AQ2T, for a while now because I love them so much but now I don’t need to…

Potent, sweet, juicy, dense, floral – even boozy.

It’s such a particular but excellent apple flavour, and this mug made me smile soooo much.

tea-sipper

now you don’t need to hoard it?? Is Quarter to Tea back?

Roswell Strange

No, I just bought 4 oz of it when they went on hiatus – but it took a while to get to me (part of a group order).

tea-sipper

OH got it.

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drank Vanilla Caramel Chai by Tazo
2408 tasting notes

I swear I threw a bag of Whittard’s Chelsea Garden in my purse last night before leaving for church, but it was no where to be found once I got there. I had resigned myself to drinking something awful from the church cabinet (I really need to mercy stock that thing) when the Bible study teacher pulled out a tea wallet and said, “Here! Choose from one of these!”

She loves black tea and was listing the contents (PG Tips, English Breakfasst, etc.) when she said, “Vanilla Caramel Chai? Where did that come from? I don’t even like chai, at all!” So I told her I would take that one to get it out of her wallet and to keep from depriving her of a tea she loves!

It wasn’t bad! The tea aspect was pretty weak but the flavors were pretty good. We had tiramisu as our snack and it went well enough with that. By the end of the mug, the licorice root was really noticeable, but I don’t mind licorice root in the right places and it didn’t bother me. I include that info for those who hate the stuff, because I know a lot of people do.

Shae

I’d never heard of a tea wallet until just now, but now that I know they exist I feel I must have one.

Martin Bednář

Chai with vanilla and caramel? It’s is then still chai?

derk

Ohhh, I could turn my peacoat into a teacoat.

ashmanra

Shae: lots of instructions to make them from good craft paper or fabric online, plus etsy and tea shops sell them! There are lots of cool patterns.

Martin: I saw two women from India grimace at each other’s description of how they make chai, so I think ingredients may vary widely by region. One made a very sweet chai, the other very peppery with lots of turmeric and such. But this…more a flavored than a chai in my opinion.

Derk: go for it! :)

Martin Bednář

Haha, well, India is huge country, so actually no surprise there :)

tea-sipper

a teacoat! I’m imagining watch sellers (or what have you) opening their coats to show their wares in the olden days.

gmathis

I have a huge tartan Pendleton wool cape thatt reaches to my ankles; my son dubbed it “the rabbi cape.” There’s probably a good 15 square feet of pocket space available….

tea-sipper

Now that’s some pocket space! Enough for a suitable number of tea choices? Questionable.

gmathis

Let’s see…at roughly 2×2 inches per teabag…do we have any math majors out there?

ashmanra

Y’all cracking me up!

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78

‘Samurai’ Traveling Teabox – Tea #5
I forgot this was the company run by Kaylee from Firefly! haha. I just finished rewatching Firefly about a month ago.  sigh.  I miss it already, yet again.  She was also on the episode of The Magicians I just watched last night. Tea Runners actually have a good sale right now.  A handful I wouldn’t mind trying: like the coconut pineapple oolong.  Though I think I can spot the sources for some of their teas.  This is loose leaf ripe pu-erh.  The flavor is in the middle of the pack of deliciousness for ripe pu-erhs.  It’s not too strong, not too weak.  No negative qualities.  But not too many things that make it a unique one.  A level of starchiness but then a very thin aftertaste? It’s tough to describe.  Now that I’m looking at the steep instructions, it says the first steep should have been for five minutes, so possibly I should have been steeping these leaves much longer than I did.  Not really many flavor notes I can pull from this one!
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug // 5 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // 10 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep 
Steep #3 // just boiled // 8 minute steep

ashmanra

Wait, really? Did I miss something?

tea-sipper

ashmanra, I don’t know what you think you missed? Nothing new about Firefly… I was just rewatching it? Jewel Staite is on a couple episodes of The Magicians? Or Tea Runners is owned by Jewel Staite or that TeaRunners is having a sale? I don’t know. :D

AJRimmer

Yeah, I would love to support her company, but it seems like a lot of her teas come from Simpson & Vail, so it makes more sense to buy it straight from them.

tea-sipper

yep, I noticed S&V teas too.

ashmanra

I LOVE Firefly! I had no idea Jewel Staite had a tea company! Squeeeeeeee!

ashmanra

I agree though, if it is S&V teas I would just order straight from them.

gmathis

(Off to check out website NOW.)

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79

Thick foam, milky taste, and vegetal aftertaste that has a little bit of a bitter bite.

Flavors: Bitter, Coconut, Cream, Grass, Milk, Thick, Vegetal

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 g 2 OZ / 50 ML

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92

‘Samurai’ Traveling Teabox – Tea #3
The name on this one sure was intriguing… I figured it was some sort of Darjeeling, and I’m correct.  (The package of the tea doesn’t say Darjeeling.) It’s one of my favorite types of Darjeeling, very distinct and strong while being complex.  It reminds me a bit of Butiki’s Dark Side of the Melon.  Drying mouthfeel and a brew the color of butternut squash. Flavor almost like aged grapes bordering on raisins.  Super muscatel. As usual, a Darj very difficult to describe but very sophisticated and delicious.   The flavor makes me think of being buried under a giant pile of yellowredorange maple leaves in autumn.  
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoon for a full mug // 19 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 5 minutes after boiling  // 4 minute steep  

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73

Virtual Teatime with Todd during Sunday Doctor Who! We got the same teas from the Mystery Box sale (sans one banana tea; I appreciate it, Anne!) so we decided to do a sampler round during our weekly Sunday online viewings. I wanted to do this tea first, because I had a sealed older packet from the 2018 Christmas box, and I’m all about using up older tea first.

The dry tea leaf actually had an aroma that reminded me of coconut creme, for some reason. I brewed 5g for 3 minutes in 500ml water. Steeped up, though, it smells more like vanilla brandy, and I think I do pick out the marshmallow, though my nose is still reading the fragrance as toasted coconut (maybe it’s the toasty association in my brain of both ingredients?) The tea is smooth, with notes of malt and honey, and I’m definitely tasting vanilla and cream, with a touch of astringency left after the sip. It’s actually a rather robust black base, and I think if I were to make a second pot, I might add just a hint of sweetener, perhaps experiment with a touch of honey or making this as a latte with vanilla almond milk. Straight up, it is a nice breakfast option or afternoon pick-me-up tea due to the boldness of the assam.

Flavors: Astringent, Cream, Honey, Malt, Smooth, Toasty, Vanilla

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 5 g 17 OZ / 500 ML
Todd

Ooh, honey might be good with this. I just got some honey.

AJRimmer

I keep buying the mystery boxes, but I managed to resist this time because I have a lot of recent 52teas blends in my cupboard, and I’m trying to avoid repeats. I was very tempted though!

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79
drank It's Snowing! by 52teas
10608 tasting notes

Finished off the last of this the other day except for a little bit that will be going off to variaTEA. It’s an interesting flavour combination. I love ginger teas and the addition of coconut and vanilla makes it a little different.

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81
drank Blue People by Vital Tea Leaf
2805 tasting notes

This fine tea arrived in the TTB and I’ve actually always wanted to try it.

The ginseng made me a bit jittery (I don’t often drink caffeine or use any energy-related herbals) but it did taste quite nice. The oolong was slightly roasty but also had a floral and vegetal quality. I can taste minerals (rocks?) and molasses/burnt sugar from the oolong.

Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Herbs, Molasses, Roasted, Vegetal

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 20 OZ / 600 ML

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100
drank Blueberry Shake by DAVIDsTEA
532 tasting notes

I haven’t liked most other blueberry DT blends, so I didn’t have high expectations for this one. I made it before work with the intention of putting it in the fridge to drink when I got home. Instead, the scent was so amazing that I took two teas to work that day. It tastes like a blueberry cake. It’s so sweet and bakey. It’s really, super good. And I cold brewed the leftover leaves for 24 hours, and they made a delicious resteep as well.

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75

This smelled amazing when I packed a sample up for Sil so I decided to bring it to my sisters to make a latte since I don’t have milk at my apartment. It’s a bit annoying this has rosehip because it makes the latte plan slightly risky while not adding to the tea but this happens a lot with Bird and Blend teas and this time I decided to risk it.

While the latte isn’t bad, the flavour is definitely muted compared to the scent. Also, I don’t get much in the way of salted caramel tea. It’s like a sweet chai. Nothing special…not nearly as good as the smell would imply. I have 1 tsp left so I’ll try it plain because it smells deliciously gingerbready and caramel and I’m just not getting that here.

Sil

Doh.

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83

It is a while since I had only fruit tea I guess. This one did not include rosehips nor hibiscus. And it is called baked apple actually.

It was nice apple tea, pleasantly sour with mostly cinnamon aftertaste. But it was indeed little smoky in taste, don’t know how they made it, but indeed it was like that. It is not too sweet too and it was actually nice and mouthwatering :)

Completely different story than morning tea.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Pleasantly Sour

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 6 min, 0 sec 10 OZ / 300 ML

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75

Sipdown

I drank the last of this grandpa style the other day. It’s a very easily approachable tea; which doesn’t seem to have the ability to be over-brewed. I suppose since it is shou, it’s more common than not. I drank this since I had an upset stomach, and while not settling my pain too much, it helped a little.

Notes: Thick mouthfeel, earthy, mushroom, and sweet. I’d probably offer this to a puerh newbie, if they wanted to try a shou.

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82

From SkySamurai’s bundle of teas a while ago.  Thanks very much!  I love being able to try shops and blends I’ve never heard of.  This is delicious – just the right amount of hibiscus with wisps of cinnamon throughout the scarlet mug.  But not OVERLY tangy/hibiscus. I’m surprised to see cocoa nibs in the list of ingredients.  I’m simply tasting some tangy fruits and hibiscus with some cinnamon.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever had merlot, but I like this. Two great steeps. It’s a great winter night blend to go with this blizzard.  Next steep session and it will be gone.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Hibiscus, Tangy

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