68 Tasting Notes

drank Ancient Forest by Art of Tea
68 tasting notes

Sipdown of the last of my Ancient Forest! :(

I hope my local tea shop still has some in stock—I couldn’t find it listed on the Art of Tea website anymore, so I am not sure if they are distributing it.

I will miss this one—it was a surprise find and one that I have thoroughly enjoyed.

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After reading so many wonderful reviews of this tea by other Steepster users like Rosehips and ashmanra, I finally decided to include an order for Queen Catherine in my latest H&S shipment. I am so glad I did—this is a wonderful tea!

I steeped nine grams of the dried tea leaves in 20 ounces of near-boiling water for four minutes. The brewed liquor came out very dark—like coffee.

The tea did not have any revealing aromas that I could pick up. Drinking it, though, I was immediately presented with a hint of cocoa flavor behind the tea. There is absolutely no astringency to this tea at all—very smooth and creamy. It has a full mouthfeel to it as well, enhancing the experience with this tea.

I am very happy to have finally tried this tea after hearing so much about it. I was not at all disappointed in the quality and the flavors. A tea this smooth would make an excellent choice for regular/daily drinking and I will be glad to add it into my regular rotation while my tin lasts.

Flavors: Cocoa, Creamy, Smooth

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 9 g 20 OZ / 591 ML

I am always a little nervous when someone tried the Queen based on my love for her, and I am always delighted when they like (or love) her! I am sure you have seen that we like adding a smidgen of Rose Scented now and then for a sweet change and a bit of added foofiness!


asmanra: That sounds like a wonderful addition to this tea to give it an added boost! The smoothness of this tea would serve as a perfect base for something like this. Thanks for sharing!

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drank East Frisian by Harney & Sons
68 tasting notes

A blend of Assam, Darjeeling, and Ceylon black teas? Yes, please!

I’ve been having this as a morning tea for the past few days and have been deeply satisfied with it. It is a strong, dark tea, sure to wake you up!

I brewed the tea using my usual guide for black tea: nine grams of dried leaves in 20 ounces of near-boiling water for four minutes.

The dried leaves are broken and small—consistently dark with the occasional lighter tip.

I can definitely taste the Assam in the tea—bread-like and malty. It isn’t as malty as a straight Assam, though, so the blending with Ceylon and Darjeeling leaves seem to have tempered the flavor a bit. The tannins haven’t affected me as much, either, so that is plus. I normally don’t drink my teas with cream/milk or sugar, so I always worry about being affected by tannins in my morning cuppa.

Overall, I am enjoying this tea and have worked it into my morning routine, taking turns with a straight Assam, depending on my mood. Given the location and clime from which this tea gets its name, this is a perfect tea for a cold, windy, dreary morning like today.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Malt, Toast

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 9 g 20 OZ / 591 ML

This really IS a strong one!


ashmanra: Yes it is! I can see why East Frisians are known for adding lots of rock sugar and cream to their teas, if this is a reflection of the way they make their tea. :)

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This is definitely one of the best teas I have had in recent memory!

I have been drinking this tea in the evenings the past few days, and finally got around to typing up my notes.

I steeped five grams of this tea in twelve ounces of near-boiling water for four minutes. The leaves themselves are twisted, orthodox leaves.

The brewed liquor had a golden color—not as light as what is shown in the picture here, but still light. The aroma coming off the liquor was an inviting blend of apricots, peaches, and muscatel grapes. These aromas all carried over into the flavor of the tea as well, with apricots being the primary flavor I noticed. It also had a slight sweet, floral flavor—not a specific flower as far as I can tell (I’m not good at identifying specific flowers), but floral nonetheless.

Overall, this is an excellent, fruity first flush Darjeeling—very light with minimal amounts of caffeine, which make it an excellent afternoon or evening tea. I will miss this tea when it is gone.

NOTE: My package had a date of picking of March, 2017.

Flavors: Apricot, Floral, Muscatel, Peach, Sweet

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 5 g 12 OZ / 354 ML

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I was really disappointed with this one.

This was another sample from the black tea sampler I bought from Vahdam last summer. This one has a date of picking as June, 2016.

The dried leaves are dark, with a few light tips (gold? silver? I couldn’t tell).

I steeped 9 grams of dried leaves in 20 ounces of near-boiling water for four minutes. The color of the finished liquor was brownish-red—like a dark copper.

While brewing, the tea had a sour aroma—not appealing at all. There was also a very light muscatel aroma, which carried over into the flavor of the tea. The muscatel was barely noticeable; the flavors which stood out the most, though, were plum, peach, dry paper, and dried leaves.

Overall, I found this to be a disappointing, tired tea. The sour aroma which introduced the tea set the tone for the rest of the experience, which was underwhelming. I didn’t hate it, but I also certainly didn’t love it. I’m glad this was just a sample and not something I’ll have in stock to finish.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Muscatel, Paper, Peach, Plums, Sour

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 9 g 20 OZ / 591 ML

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Drinking this “grandpa style” today. I looked at my To-Do list for the day and realized I just needed a tea to keep me going through the day, so I decided on this one. I loaded my glass tumbler with 9 grams of dried rolls of leaves and have been filling it with water as needed throughout the morning.

This is a very smooth and light tea, with a silky taste and mouthfeel. I haven’t been paying any attention for specific flavors today—just enjoying the tea. This is an oolong that I’d like to keep stocked in my collection, as it is one that I come back to fairly regularly.

9 g 20 OZ / 591 ML

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This Assam tea has recently become my standard breakfast tea most mornings, and for good reason!

The dried leaves are beautiful—mostly dark brown, with some golden tips. All machine rolled.

I brew 9 grams of dried leaves in 20 ounces of near-boiling water for 4 minutes, but it would probably be okay with 3 minutes, depending on how strong you like your Assam. I prefer mine to kick me awake in the morning, hence the longer steep time.

The brewed liquor is dark brown with a reddish hue to it—a beautiful color. It has a very strong malty aroma while it is steeping.

The malt aroma carries over into the flavor of the tea as well. The malt flavor is accompanied by flavors of oats and barley. It is like a hot breakfast cereal in a teacup! As with most Assam teas, this one has some astringency to it as well, which you will notice immediately when drinking it. The tea ends with a very slight caramel flavor.

Overall, I am very happy with this tea, as it has earned a permanent place in my cupboard. I highly recommend this tea to any Assam fans out there!

Flavors: Astringent, Caramel, Malt, Oats, Roasted Barley

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 9 g 20 OZ / 591 ML

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drank UVA Highlands by Harney & Sons
68 tasting notes

I realized I recommended this Ceylon tea to someone on Steepster without having ever posted an official review of it, so here we go!

I brewed 9 grams of dried leaves this morning in 20 ounces of near-boiling water for four minutes. The dried leaves themselves are small, broken pieces (not fannings, though), so I probably could’ve gone with a shorter steep time.

The brewed liquor comes out dark and quite full-bodied—like coffee. I didn’t pick up on any specific aromas from the liquor or the dried leaves.

The flavor is definitely unique—astringent almost to the point of bitterness (but some of that would definitely be relieved with a shorter steep time). I am picking up on what others have described as the wintergreen flavor in the tea, but it seems more menthol to me than wintergreen. After sipping and swallowing the tea, there is a lingering coolness in my mouth that is similar to menthol. This is definitely a unique tea experience for me—not unpleasant, but I don’t think I’d want to drink this every day.

Overall, it is a good tea that I’ll continue to enjoy having. It is an excellent replacement for the fullness of coffee, if that is what you’re looking for, but with a pleasant cool finish.

Flavors: Astringent, Menthol

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 9 g 20 OZ / 591 ML

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My lunchtime tea today was one I received from Vahdam Teas last fall. It has turned into one of my favorite lighter-caffeinated teas on my shelf and find myself drinking it fairly regularly.

Since I am at work, I couldn’t measure this out precisely, but I used two well-rounded teaspoons of dried leaves for 16 ounces of near-boiling water.

The brewed liquor has a color like clover honey—light brown and fresh. The aroma reminds me of warm grass and has a slight bitterness to it.

The immediate flavor I get when drinking the tea is very similar to a second flush Darjeeling: a flavor I describe as close to wet rocks (in a good way!) but also like muscat grapes. There is also a hint of sweetness and apricot behind the muscatel flavor. The warm grass aroma carries over into the flavor of the liquor as well.

Overall, I do like this tea very much—it isn’t as fruity as a second flush Darjeeling, but similar enough that it could be mistaken as one. Like I mentioned earlier, this has become one of my regular afternoon teas.

Flavors: Apricot, Muscatel, Sweet, Sweet, warm grass, Wet Rocks

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

Kangra black teas are so odd. They’re so green, earthy, and vegetal. I’ve only had a few at this point, but they certainly are fascinating.

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Since I’ve been focusing so much on Ceylon teas recently, I decided to purchase this one from Harney & Sons last year in the hopes that it would become one of my regular teas. I was not disappointed with it at all!

The dried leaves are twisted, full leaves—not rolled or broken. Mostly dark brown/black, with some tips, which appear to be more silvery than gold.

I did my usual steeping of 9 grams of dried leaves in 20 ounces of near-boiling water. I went slightly longer at 4 1/2 minutes instead of my usual 4, since the instructions from H&S said to steep for 5 minutes. I am glad I didn’t go the full 5, though—4 would be enough, I think.

The brewed liquor came out very dark and full-bodied. This is what I think of when I think of black tea. The initial flavor I picked up was a creamy, smooth flavor of cocoa—slightly touched with a honey flavor but not the sweetness. It was very, very good.

As far as Ceylon teas go, I would love to have this regularly. At $15.00 for 4 ounces, though, the price reflects the quality and guarantees that this will be a tea I will turn to for those days when I want quality, not quantity. I highly recommend this one for an example of a good quality Ceylon.

Flavors: Cocoa, Creamy, Honey, Smooth

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 30 sec 9 g 20 OZ / 591 ML

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Husband and father. Professional librarian; amateur genealogist, historian, and numismatist. Soccer fan.

My tea habits generally depend on my mood and the season but, in general, my preferred teas are black teas (especially those grown in Sri Lanka and India) and oolong teas. Unless noted in my review, I brew my tea western style and do not use additives (milk/cream, sugar, etc.).

I am definitely not an expert when it comes to tea, so I apologize if my reviews differ from the experiences you’ve had with any of the teas I have logged.

Please feel free to contact me and let me know if you have a favorite that I have to try! :)

My grading for tea:

100: Perfect.

90, 95: Excellent.

80, 85: Very good.

70, 75: Good.

60, 65: Okay.

50, 55: Meh.

40, 45: Not so good.

0-35: Awful.


Northwest Indiana, USA

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