419 Tasting Notes


WHY DO I KEEP DOING THIS TO MYSELF? It’s like a train-wreck!

I seem to have sworn to find out what’s wrong with this tea and FIX IT. I bumped the temperature down to 180, even though it’s a very black tea, and was very vigilante about my two-minute steep time.

I kept sniffing the teabags and thinking, “does this smell bitter? I think it smells bitter” and then calming myself and telling myself that “it’s just the bergamot”. I got the actual tea, set it on my little teatray, and carried it downstairs.

Tasting it, it’s got a faint tea astringency, and a touch of bergamot. And I think I can SENSE the rose in there somewhere. At least it’s not outright bitter anymore. I’m getting a very slight sort of bitter aftertaste, but I don’t know if that’s just me being paranoid or what. It’s fairly watery (for a black), but it’s drinkable now. Hrm. Maybe next time I’ll try boiling water, but add honey. I haven’t sweetened anything in a while.

Hrm. It gets a little more bitter as it cools. Still drinkable, though. At the moment.

And then it go REALLY bitter towards the end. THIS TEA REFUSES TO BE LIKED.

180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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I couldn’t stop myself, and decided to try this one again. The tea smells of rose. And bergamot and tea, but the rose is what I noticed first this time around.

Lighter cup, because I shortened the steep time to somewhere around two minutes (I didn’t have a timer on me to use, so I stared at my computer clock).

Still got bitterness at first, although not as bad, and it seems to have lessened with cooling. I wonder if it’s the rose. I don’t know. It’s mostly on the tip of my tongue. It’s different. Not getting that artificial numbing taste this time, though. But still very bitter. I had to pour the last cup out. Two minutes! Aaaugh this tea. Why?

Is it the rose? It reminds me a bit of Twining’s Earl Grey.

Boiling 2 min, 30 sec

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So this tea confuses me. I looked up the site (this is another tea found in Winners, by the way), and on it, I found that ‘Darjeeling Earl Grey’ was not one of their blends, and ‘Singbulli’ was not an estate they had listed (which may not mean that they don’t necessarily USE it, but…).

I thought it was interesting that the company is so dedicated to the estates. Each tea is not a blend. All the tea comes from a single estate, and the estate is listed on the cat, along with the grade, etc., a bit about the estate, and the name of the actual planter.

Also, it’s earl grey. Earl grey with ROSE.

The dry pyramid bag smelt strongly of the bergamot, and more faintly of rose. Brewed, it smells mostly of tea and rose, and only very faintly of bergamot.

I think the five minutes recommended on the package is a bit of an oversteep (especially since it’s darjeeling), but I tend to do with that first then start experimenting. So it’s somewhat bitter.

I’ve never had anything with rose in it before, but I definitely smell it, and I taste SOMETHING. I’ll have to make this properly next time. I’m also getting a very weird artificial sort of bitter taste that I’m unsure about. It might just be the tea-bitterness, but I don’t know (it’s almost numbing, it’s weird). I really wish I’d prepared this one more properly so I could tell.

I’ll give it a rating next time. I’m sure I’ll end up making it in the morning.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

Earl Grey and rose….. that’s definitely a weird scary combination.


I thought it would be weird GOOD. I was wrong.

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drank Uva Ceylon by Murchie's Tea & Coffee
419 tasting notes

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Usually I don’t like going out and buying teas without first checking Steepster to see what’s been said about them (although I always get a little excited when I find teas that haven’t even been added to the database yet), but I decided to just go for it and got this one. I wanted a herbal, but I also wanted a vanilla. And they had vanilla rooibos’, and vanilla white teas, and other chamomiles, and then a lady came by and slapped a half-off price on this one. I figured it was a sign.

The flavour’s very light, and mostly chamomile, but there’s a sweetness of slightly-artificial-tasting honey in there. The vanilla is more in the smell, although I didn’t really drink it with a Steepster Review in mind, so I suppose I wasn’t really paying attention or searching for it in the taste. I remember smelling it though, and picking up a good vanilla and strong honey, and thinking “I bet this would be wonderful iced”.

After drinking it, the flavour’s probably too light for that, and if you made it double-strength, the chamomile would just overwhelm the honey (and supposed vanilla).

It didn’t make me sleepy, but that may just be because I’ve already felt tired most of the day. Didn’t get much sleep last night. I downed two cups of Murchie’s Assam Pure, then passed out on the couch no more than three minutes later; I woke up about four hours later, finished my statistics homework, and stumbled off to college. Came home, bought this—I like it, but not enough that I think I’ll get it again when it’s done (honey and vanilla are a good IDEA, but they’re sort of muddled in this, and I don’t like it much with the chamomile; maybe I’ll try CS’s Honey Vanilla White Tea next, that looked promising!). I’m still on the lookout for my perfect vanilla caffeine free drink for bedtime (although caffeine doesn’t do all too good a job of keeping me up anyways, but). I actually went to IGA with the intention of picking up a vanilla rooibos, but came home with this instead. Hm.

Sweet, light, oddly fruity, honey taste, but vanilla’s only in the smell. Ended up leaving the teabag in there the whole time. I took it out after five minutes, but decided that the flavour was so light that I’d just leave it in.


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I decided that I have been drinking the other two of the set way too much compared to this one. Green tea is okay! I don’t hate it! I need to drink this more. So I decided to make a cup. At midnight.

Also thought it was a good idea to revisit it, since it’s been a while.

Strong jasmine smell still, although I think I smell an earthyness of the green in there somewhere.

I’m not getting the grassy taste as strongly, and I don’t know if it’s just because it’s been a while, and I’ve had some experience, but I’m finding it more enjoyable. Enough so that I might try to drink it more often.

I’ve still no idea if I should be tasting jasmine or not (or what it would taste like if I should be), but there is a pleasant ALMOST floralness somewhere in there that might be it. Otherwise, just light green. I think I made this weaker than I did my last cup. One teaspoon for a cup (eight ounces); I THINK I may have done it one teaspoon to six ounces. Which may have been my problem, because I’ve since realized that lighter teas (oolongs, greens, darjeelings) are best 1/8 instead of the 1/6 I’m used to.

It’s starting to cool, and I think I’m tasting the jasmine more. Hrm. Don’t know if it’s good or bad. Although I’m also getting a very faint bitterness.

It’s gone cold now, and it tastes better (going along nicely with the claim that this would probably be very nice iced), although yeah, jasmine (I don’t drink green teas often—I’m inexperienced!).

I still meant to try it iced. I think it would be nice iced. But I’ve got a LOT of teas I mean to try iced. Some day!

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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drank Ti-Kuan-yin Tea by Shantou Tea
419 tasting notes

Drank this on-campus, away from computers, but I carry a little notebook exactly for this reason.

The teabag had a sort of dusty, maybe… fishy? Smell, with that greenoolongblack smell. Wet, it smelt… spinagy green. As did the tea, a bit. In an ‘oversteeped green’ way, maybe. Steeped to a dark greybrown with a green layer over top. Smells fairly vegetably, green, though darker.

I almost didn’t want to drink it because it DID smell a bit… off on top of the very strong green smell. Took a sip when it was still quite hot and got a very green taste. I returned to work, and after a minute or so got this HORRIBLE gas after taste. What.

Let it cool, and tasted it again—this weird vegetable taste. Just sort of off. But also oolong in that it reminds me a bit of the oolong I got from Murchie’s. Just stronger. Gas aftertaste again. Disgusting. I don’t know if it’s the water I used (free water on-campus put in a mug then microwaved until it started boiling). Around this point I didn’t want to finish it.

Continued to sip it though, and the gas aftertaste lessened, and it reminded me more of the magnolia oolong. Just stronger, and the tea was darker. I steeped at the recommended three minutes on the package, but I think this would need a shorter steep time than that.

The strength and the weird aftertaste was enough to make me toss the cup (or rather, go outside and dump), and I did use more water from the campus (boiled in the microwave) to make other teas, and there was no gas aftertaste, so maybe it WAS the tea. It was cheap though (1.20). But I’ll try different steep times in the future or something. Yick until then, though.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

The few Ti Kwan Yins I’ve tried were sort of characterized by a sort of baked, spinachy-bready flavour – this just sounds icky!


There was definitely a spinachyness in there, but no bread/baked taste that I could tell. Maybe it was just cheaply processed (/located near an oil refinery?). Who knows. All I know is, it cost a buck, and I’ve still got nineteen teabags left.


Garden compost, maybe? I suppose the saying that you get what you pay for might be true in this case. Still I’ve found a few gems in the foreign food sections of grocery stores. I got a 225g tin of an excellent jasmine green for only $4.


Lucky! I just wandered into my local asian market and was faced with a WALL of teas, most of which I couldn’t understand because they were only marked in characters.

There were a few with a bit of English, or the names written out in the Roman alphabet (like this one), or ones that were kind enough to show a picture of the tea on the front (a SEVERAL-pound bag of genmaicha, for example, which I wasn’t about to buy). I decided to go with something cheap(er) that I wouldn’t feel horrible about if I didn’t like it (although I suppose I could have always traded it).

Ahwell, I’ll probably fool around with it a few times (maybe microwaved water just brings out crazy flavours in it?).


I’d advise not using boiling water since this type is one of the greener oolongs. Maybe start somewhere around 80-85ºC.


I should know by now not to listen to package brewing instructions. I’ll try that temperature next time.

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Brewed, with the mug just sitting to one side, I can SMELL the peach without even putting my nose in it. But leaning in, I also smell something… vaguely reminiscent of that Ginger Twist. I had a look of HORROR on my face there for a moment. I’m sure I scrubbed my mug well! Nooo.

Can’t really smell the tea. I think I do. Hmm.

Woah. The taste reminds me of peach wine. I’m serious. The peach isn’t that ‘fruity peach’ taste, but that ‘fermented wine’ taste. All it really needs is that alcoholic taste. Huh. Maybe I should steep it for a bit longer. I only did three minutes of the “three to five”.

The best thing about understeeping, I suppose, is that you can always just put the bag back in.

Longer steep… Doesn’t do much. Slightly stronger taste of the oolong I think. Not the peach, though. Still has a serious sort of ‘wine’ taste. Especially at the edge of my tongue. How odd. Unsure how to rate it.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

Oh, I love peach wine! Hopefully I’ll like this too.

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drank Paris by Harney & Sons
419 tasting notes

First off, how I finally got my hands on this. Chapters! To the rescue again. I wandered in and went to their little tea section to find, of course, that they had none. Disheartened, I turned to leave but paused to look at a new teapot setup they had near the front of the store. Examining an Alison in Wonderland pot, I glanced up and noticed that, on the opposite side of the table, there was a setup of more teas. Including Paris. I practically pounced on a tin (sachets, not loose, sadly), especially since they were selling so well compared to all the other Harney and Sons teas out. I was also thinking of buying a tin of PURE LAVENDER tisane. Can’t remember what company, but one small tin was thirteen dollars, so I wasn’t sure if I should go for it or not. I have no idea what lavender tastes like, and I may not like it.

Anyways, I kept myself from buying any more books, because I have quite a few (I was considering a Sherlock Holmes novel, though), and only went home with this.

It smells like vanilla, bergamot and fruit. Brewed, you can definitely smell the tea as well.

Ah, it’s starting to go cold I left it so long. I taste the vanilla and tea, not too much the bergamot, but there are some other fruits in there.

I’ve been scaring myself by watching the Slender Man Marble Hornets entries.

Having tea while doing so is always nice. I always have such trouble with flavoured blacks, because I only get a scent, no taste in most cases. The smell of this is much stronger than the taste—which is black with hints of vanilla and berry—but it’s so delicious of a smell, and the taste that I do get goes so nicely with the black that I don’t mind. Mmmmm. This tea makes me happy.

Boiling 5 min, 15 sec

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A tea-drinking transgendered Canadian, currently in the third year of university, majoring in geology (yes, “rocks and things”). I take most of my tea made straight into a mug, although occasionally if I’m not in a hurry (this isn’t often), I’ll have time to sit down with a pot or gaiwan. It’s the highlight of a good day.

My notes are pretty disjointed because I’m a fairly absent-minded individual, and I also keep a teatra.de blog for reviewing and rambling about tea books/publications.

And I’m a Doctor Who fanatic (Jon Pertwee, if you were wondering).

“But you should never turn down tea, when it’s offered. It’s impolite, and impoliteness is how wars start.” ~Eighth Doctor, Paul McGann





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