409 Tasting Notes


I do love all the natural flavorings in Nature’s Tea Leaf’s teas. Not “natural flavors” but: my cinnamon oolong has big chunks of cinnamon bark in with the oolong tea – and that’s all. Using dried herbs, fruits, and flowers makes the flavors more real, but also often makes them blend better in my experience.

This is a green oolong, which I generally find buttery and floral, but a pretty light one. There’s a lot of cinnamon in the aroma, but the taste is well-balanced and, yes, buttery. therefore it reminds me of cinnamon rolls :D It’s not like eating a cinnamon roll – not sweet enough, also liquid – but it’s intensely reminiscent of one.

there’s a little bit of astringency or dryness when drinking – not enough to be unpleasant, rather it gives the tea some heft and character. There’s a lovely lingering aftertaste that has some of those floral notes I was expecting, and that were subdued in the scent and drinking taste.

ETA: On a second steep the cinnamon is less pronounced, but still present and adding a pleasant sweet/spicy richness to the oolong.

Very enjoyable! Unique and highly recommended

2tsp leaf to 8oz water, as recommended

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 15 sec

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Sweet and sour is right! I was expecting this to be very tart – I drank straight hibiscus tea for quite awhile until I burned out on it, so recognized the smell right away. The color is quite pink for green tea, but also a bit orangey – I’d say a rich salmon hue overall :)

Upon sipping, at first the flavor is just like the smell: sour and fruit. But then I got a lot of sencha on the middle- and after-taste, which surprised me (pleasantly!) The sencha gives a really solid base to the tea, adding some savoriness to balance the sour. I often add honey to fruit teas, but something about the sencha flavor made me want to drink this straight – it just blended so interestingly with the fruit, I didn’t want to overwhelm that with sweetness and lose the complexity.

There is still a lot of hibiscus and rosehip flavor overall (the orange is less prominent to me), but this is a pretty good blend considering the tendency of hibiscus to dominate anything it touches.

I expect this will last more than one steep, and I’m curious how the balance will shift. It would probably also be very good cold!

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Oh this is neat: a floral and approachable pu’erh blend. The lavender is distinctive (prominent and unusual) and blends with the pu’erh in very interesting ways – reminds me of cinnamon, somehow, with the combination of earthiness and menthol. The flavors meld quite well overall, which I didn’t expect from rose, jasmine, lavender and pu’erh. The jasmine is probably the hardest for me to pick out. I was dubious about the steeping instructions too, but it came out just right. I’m quite curious to see if this will resteep well, as that’s one of the things I like about pu-erh

A second steep (higher temp, longer time since I forgot about it..) is mostly pu’erh, with only a hint of flowers to soften it. Still quite tasty! but the first steep is the one I’d hand to someone dubious about pu’erh :)

This is the second of my free samples from Nature’s Tea Leaf, and my favorite so far! I also really like the steeping instructions on their packaging, customized for each tea and right on the front label.

2 generous tsp leaf to 8oz water

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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This is so delicious – I made it quick before going into a meeting today, and anytime I start to space out I can just inhale and it’s: dark chocolate. rose. citrus. Are there melted truffles in my cup??? There is a solid black tea flavor too, the laoshan black is just so chocolatey when hot – that’s always what I notice.

The flavor is losing a little intensity as it cools to lukewarm, but I remember this was good chilled so I’m putting the rest in the fridge for later!

I’m very glad I ordered more of this!

2 rounded tsp, three 6 oz steeps all poured off into one big mug

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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Cold-brewed overnight, 4 tsp tea (came out to 10g) for 20oz water.

Color: light yellow/olive, slightly opaque. Scent: not much, because it’s cold, but gingery! Maybe a little lemon too. Taste: Wow that’s spicy. Herb-spice, not pepper-spice. I decided to add some honey to this because I was finding the rosemary and ginger pretty overwhelming; with honey, everything is smoothed out a bit and I can taste more of the lemon. This is very tangy and refreshing; the word “tonic” comes to mind. I haven’t had rosemary in beverages often, so that’s really standing out to me.
The white tea is completely overwhelmed by the spices, at least with the way I brewed it; their website recommends steeping hot then pouring over ice. Maybe I’ll try that next time.

Overall, this is very refreshing and tastes like it’s good for you :) I’d drink it on a hot day, or if I had an upset stomach. This is going on my list of “teas to drink when sick”

Iced 8 min or more

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Wow, the dry matcha smells incredibly strong, like I just opened a pack or oreos, but a little thicker and creamier.

I prepared this in a way that is quickly becoming my standard, since I got some good smoothie cups to take to work: 2 chashaku scoops of matcha, fill the 16oz cup about half way with water, blend (OMG my stick blender makes this so easy – no lumps! Nice froth! No sifting needed!) fill the rest of the cup with whole milk and ice. My matcha lattes stay cold easily for a couple hours, which is plenty of time for me to drink them :)

My first impression upon sipping this one agrees with the smell of thedry matcha: the flavor is strong and noticeable. The green tea flavor is actually pretty overwhelmed. It must just be something about the Cookies & Cream flavor, as opposed to the others I’ve tried, but this is kind of like being hit in the face with a carton of cookies ‘n’ cream ice cream. It’s definitely a contrast to the Royal Bavarian Cream I had yesterday, and even stronger than my “distinctively” flavored cheesecake matcha. I found myself wondering if I somehow prepared this stronger than usual? It’s possible, but if that were the case I’d expect more green tea flavor too, and that’s not what I’m getting here.

As you may have figured out, the flavor is really too strong for my taste (even on delicate, which this is) and comes across kind of artificial to me. Boo! This is the first time I’ve had that issue with Red Leaf’s matcha – I thought maybe they were magic :/ However! The aftertaste is quite good, as if I’ve been eating that cookies & cream ice cream I mentioned and just set it down for a minute. I think I need to give this another chance, so I’ll try preparing it in the classic style (warm, whisked) as well as cold with just water – hopefully one of those will work better for me.

If you are a big cookies & cream fan, I would certainly recommend this, with the caveat to try the delicate flavor first! On the other hand, if you’ve been looking for a matcha flavor that lets you forget you’re drinking matcha – look no further! This is like a cookies & cream milkshake all on its own :P

You can buy it for yourself at http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/cookies-and-cream-matcha.html


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drank Fujian Baroque by Adagio Teas
409 tasting notes

A tiny bit of this was hiding in the back of my cupboard – it’s a couple years old, but with some extra leaf and care in prep (preheating my mug, which I rarely bother with) it still quite good! Has all the chocolatey rich spice notes I like. After having Rishi’s China Breakfast for so long, it kind of tastes like a wannabe…

Boiling 3 min, 15 sec

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New Red Leaf Matcha order! Bavarian cream, and I splurged on the royal matcha this time. I mostly wanted to see if I can taste the difference but also (if I can tell the difference), do I prefer the better matcha + less flavoring, or basic matcha + more flavoring? After this, I’m leaning towards the former, which surprised me!

Anyway, I really like this. The royal matcha is a lovely vibrant green, as powder or in water, a bit brighter than the basic grade. Even with less flavoring (delicate, rather than the distinctive I tried last time), this is sweet and flavorful. I am frankly impressed with myself – not exactly a connoisseur of green teas – for being able to taste a difference. Of course, for science(!) I should get the same flavor in different grades and have someone else prepare it as a blind test… maybe next time :P. For now, I am convinced that the royal matcha is truly distinctive.

I first tried this iced (the easiest way to prepare things at work) with about 1/2 tsp to 16 oz water. First impressions: cream, lime???. There is definitely something citrusy here, in addition to the sweet cream flavor. Also, not the least bit of bitterness. The flavor is very light and refreshing, where I was expecting it to be heavy. I mean, Bavarian cream, right? But this is creamy and rich and light at the same time, kind of like cream soda. If someone had given me this to try without telling me the flavor, I think I would have guessed key lime pie because of the citrusy sweet notes along with the cream (… now I’m hoping they get a key lime pie flavor so I can compare!). I also want to try the royal matcha plain to see if that’s where the citrus is coming from, it’s really baffling me.

I also prepared this warm, but at work I don’t have my chawan and chasen and I’m having a bit more trouble with clumps this time. I’ve gotten away without a sifter so far, but I suppose it makes sense that the finer grade of matcha would clump more easily. Anyway, the warm matcha was quite good, even with the powdery sensation that comes of insufficient whisking. A little milk (unsurprisingly) really brought out the creaminess and made this a decadent dessert drink.

Between the royal matcha and the delicate flavor, I don’t think I’d use this in smoothies or cooking – the flavor is too fine and mild. It’s meant to be drunk plain, or nearly.

You can buy this for yourself at http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/bavarian-cream-matcha.html

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Oh my goodness delicious. I don’t have time to do a good review right nwo, but I just wanted to make myself a note that this is really good, plain or with milk, possibly my favorite black from Verdant so far!
I’m on steep 7 so far.

I ended up steeping this at least 15 times – I don’t usually go that high, even where it’s indicated. I iced some overnight, which brought out the sweet malty/wheat flavors

2.5g leaf, 3.5oz water, gongfu style

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

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Some notes on ratings:

I’d have separate rating scales for tea types if that were possible (probably Black, Flavored Black, Darjeeling/Dark Oolong, White/Green/Light Oolong, and Herbal) because the flavors and quality markers are just too different. A flavored black rated 100 isn’t better than every oolong I’ve ever drunk, just delicious for a flavored black.

Ratings are a combination of my enjoyment and the perceived quality – I do often demote teas a few points for artificial flavorings, small quantity of steeps supported, or weakness of flavor (requiring extra leaf).

I pay less attention to the number than the order of my ratings; I don’t necessarily keep a stock of everything rated 80+, but if two breakfast blends are rated 82 and 84 I consistently enjoy the 84 more.

And in case it’s not obvious? I am not an expert. I don’t even know what I like until I taste it sometimes, but I’m ok with that :) I like learning to like new teas, as well as enjoying the comfort of familiar ones.


Boston, MA



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