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Recent Tasting Notes

73
drank Dark Rose Tea by TeaSource
1068 tasting notes

I don’t like rose, so I didn’t expect to like this, but with milk and sugar, it actually is pretty good. There’s a gentle rose flavor along with a mild base tea. Really, it tastes like a million other lattes I’ve had before, so I can’t complain. I wouldn’t seek it out, but the cute little hearts were fun to try from a recent tea box!

gmathis

The best rose teas I’ve tried wisely understate the floral aspect. Better when there’s just enough to highlight.

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70
drank Ceylon Burning Sun by TeaSource
1068 tasting notes

Grabbed a sample from a tea box. This isn’t one of the more interesting straight teas I’ve tried recently. With milk and sugar, the flavor is fairly deep and decent, but I don’t love it. I’d prefer something maltier, but it was fine to drink.

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80

Happy National Vanilla Pudding Day!

I reviewed this recently so I’m not going to say much (check that note here if you missed it: https://steepster.com/mastressalita/posts/418976 )

Been drinking this a lot as it’s one of the 50g bags in my sipdown focus area. My favorite way to drink it? Brewing a cold batch (steeped warm, then chilled in the fridge overnight) and then infusing it with Co2 to make a carbonated tea soda/pop. Reminds me of vanilla cola!

Flavors: Baked Bread, Cherry, Cream, Fruity, Smooth, Sweet, Vanilla

Preparation
Iced 3 min, 0 sec 7 g 32 OZ / 946 ML

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80

Oh, I can’t believe I haven’t reviewed this one! I know I’ve had it before, but it turned out my bag (from January 2018!) was still sealed, so I’m guessing this was one of the offerings available at my favorite local cafe, which has a limited and select assortment of teas from TeaSource that you can order in a little pot.

It’s a vanilla black tea. It’s tasty. I can tell age has gotten to this one, as the base tea itself isn’t as rich as I remember, but the vanilla is still quite strong. I think there may be some mint contamination from the last tea I had in this thermos (I scrub vigorously with soap and water every night, but certain flavors can be very stubborn, I’ve discovered, mint being one of them) so I’ll ignore that. Notes I’m picking up are baked bread, cherry, vanilla, and cream.

Satisfying, even if not the best it could be due to age (completely my fault!)

Flavors: Baked Bread, Cherry, Cream, Fruity, Smooth, Sweet, Vanilla

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML
Martin Bednář

Lovely name!

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90
drank Gu Zhang Black by TeaSource
803 tasting notes

Just finished this one off and realized I had never logged it! TeaSource has a lot of Chinese black teas that I really enjoy and this one has been a favorite since I first purchased it last fall. The leaves are small and tightly twisted, so dark brown they appear black. The tea steeps up to a deep color with a rich and fruity molasses-sweet flavor. I can get several good re-steeps out of this one as well. Will definitely be re-purchasing at some point!

Flavors: Molasses, Stonefruit, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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drank Irish Breakfast by TeaSource
1068 tasting notes

Grabbed a small sample from the latest tea box. The flavor is pretty classic. Strong and slightly bitter, works well with milk and sugar. It’s a pretty good example of its category. Not special, but solid.

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drank Green Mango by TeaSource
225 tasting notes

#tiffanys2021sipdown Tea #123 overall / Tea #39 for March / #drinkwhatyouown March slot ??/25

Monday 3/29/21 — TeaSource Green Mango. Another IVTF (International Virtual Tea Festival) 2020 sample in my box of goodies. Shockingly making the 12g sample packet into a full DT perfect pitcher for cold-brew turned out light and refreshing (as I love about green teas :)) but also could taste the mango right along with the green tea. Finished the pitcher today. No offense Teavana/DT (I love both brands) but I’m learning that sometimes even a smaller amount of tea can still be powerful as hot or cold (plain or latte), it doesn’t have to be heaps of product to still be delicious. Not going to make the “keep around permanently” list but was so nice during the upswing of warm weather. (And the joy of spring in Ohio, USA—to keep up with tea/clothes/life with weather going up and down with such mood swings!)

#tiffanydrinkstea #tiffanys2021 #tiffanysfaves #tiffanyinthe614 #tiffanysteasipdown #sipdownchallenge

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94
drank Toasted Maple Green by TeaSource
141 tasting notes

I spent several hours today reinstalling the OS on my daughter-in-law’s iMac, which she’s selling. When she tried to clear her personal data… she cleared more than just that. I managed to get it all ready for the next person, and she offered to make a dessert. I asked for something with lavender, and she made an amazing cake with lavender, lemon, and vanilla flavors.

I dug through my teas looking for something with lavender and instead found a large, unmarked, thick freezer bag, with a nice maple aroma, and I realized it’s my 2017 purchase of Toasted Maple Green from TeaSource, since discontinued! And when I went to find my old review, I also realized I’ve never even reviewed it.

I was new to buying loose leaf tea, and I bought a freaking pound of it, and I’m happy I did!

It’s not quite as strong as it was four years ago, but it has a nice mild maple scent and flavor. It’s very smooth. The houjicha is just a little stale, but not bad. It’s sweet-tasting and light and refreshing. TeaSource, if you’re listening, please make more! I’m nutty for this.

Flavors: Maple, Nutty, Sweet, Toasted

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec 5 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
Mastress Alita

With the flavors waning on this, I finished mine up brewing as lattes, which worked rather well. I would do about two heaping teaspoons of leaf in 12 oz water, heat 4 oz of oat milk, and then add a teaspoon of maple syrup. Some of the “barkiness” of the stale houjicha was hidden by the milk and the maple notes were brought out more by adding the bit of maple syrup.

Todd

Oh, that sounds good! Will have to try it.

Tiffany :)

Hmm, never had this one but Toasted Walnut from DavidsTea is one of my all-time favorites. My stash is on the older side, but I’ve never stored tea in the freezer before, hmm…

Todd

Oh, I didn’t store it in the freezer. A freezer bag is a zippered bag like a sandwich bag, but thicker. It’s good to use in the freezer, but doesn’t have to be.

Toasted Walnut sounds good!

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95
drank Yunnan Gold Bud by TeaSource
803 tasting notes

Just finished off the last of this and am sad to see it leave my cupboard. This is one of the pricier black teas I’ve ordered from TeaSource, but the quality is excellent: lots of fuzzy, unbroken golden tips with a wonderful sweet, malty aroma. It brews up to a rich golden brown and sips down smooth and sweet with notes of brown sugar and sweet potatoes. Steeping Western-style, I can get at least 3 good steeps from these leaves without any loss of flavor. I’ll likely be re-purchasing this one in the future!

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Malt, Smooth, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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83

Happy National Coconut Torte Day! My selection today is an herbal blend, so I won’t be reviewing it until this evening. So I’m using this morning to instead finish off the last two teas of my initial sixteen for March Mad(Hatter)ness!

Thirteenth tea for March Mad(Hatter)ness! This is for the mixed tea/misc. round, going against Bird & Blend’s Easter Egg Nests.

This is another tea I purchased back in 2018 and am only cutting open for the first time now. The dry leaf has a lovely citrus aroma; a very bright yet pithy orange and that sort of grapefruity-citrus note I’m used to from bergamot (bergamot isn’t listed in the ingredients though… I wonder if it’s one of the “flavorings”?) This is a blend of black tea and jasmine green tea with some flavorings and flower petals which is recommended as an iced tea, but since I’m doing all my initial pairings as hot cuppa with no adornments, that is how I brewed this: 3g to 450ml 205F water steeped for 3 minutes.

The brewed aroma smells much the same, like juicy orange and pithy orange peel, as well as bergamot. Maybe the citrus with the jasmine in the cup is reading to my brain as berg, because on my first sip, I certainly don’t taste that distinctive bergamot flavor. The citrus is a bright orange, which blends smoothly against the base. I’m not tasting wafting perfumy jasmine flowers, but there is a sort of soft floral undertone to the tea; paired with the strong orange notes, its making me think of orange blossoms. There is also a slightly minty taste that comes out late in the sip. The tea itself is a dark and somewhat malty cuppa but extremely smooth.

I’m really digging this; it’s reminding me a bit of a Lady Grey, considering the strong orange flavor and more subtle bergamot impressions, and I am quite a fan of those teas. I don’t have any doubt this would be a nice iced tea, and do plan to try that in the future.

Flavors: Bergamot, Citrus, Floral, Malt, Mint, Orange, Orange Zest, Smooth

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 15 OZ / 450 ML

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75
drank Breakfast Assam by TeaSource
174 tasting notes

Not a bad example of an Assam, but not very complex either. Malty and astringent and a tiny bit smoky. It’s got a good kick to it that might stand up to milk, if I was a person that likes tea lattes. I’d rather drink it plain or add some spice to it like ginger. While I’ve enjoyed sipping down this bag, its not worth seeking out again, I’ve had other Assams I’ve enjoyed more.

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#tiffanys2021sipdown Tea #77 overall / Tea #44 for February

Thursday 2/25 — Starting to gather a collection when my boyfriend M asks me to make another black tea for kombucha. This was a sample (12g?) from 2020 Virtual Tea Festival box, can’t remember if it was for tasting competition or just regular freebie. Would not be something I’d be sipping normally so good to make use.

#tiffanydrinkstea #tiffanys2021 #tiffanysfaves #tiffanyinthe614 #tiffanysteasipdown #sipdownchallenge

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78

Pulled this for my evening sipper, from a very old TeaSource order (a still-sealed January 2018 tea). Dry leaf aroma reminds me of their Evening in Missoula tea (one of my favorites, which I sipped down recently); they do share many of the same “rootbeer” ingredients, like wild cherry bark and sarsaparilla. This one does smell a bit more spice-heavy than Evening in Missoula, which had more of a minty undertone (thanks to the wintergreen).

Brewed tea still has that strong, pleasant rootbeer aroma. I’m definitely not digging the flavor of this one as much as Evening in Missoula, though. I definitely do taste sweet sarsaparilla (the sarsaparilla and lingering licorice root sticky sweetness really do come off very rootbeer-esque), but I’m getting a lot of cinnamon and chicory on the sip as well. I like chicory, but that roasty quality feels out of place here; not so much as to make the tea unpleasant, but considering both this blend and their Evening in Missoula have a very similar flavor profile, the other blend is the clear winner for me and I wouldn’t really feel a need to have both in my cupboard.

Strong rootbeer/licorice/spice notes, with this slight roasted coffee bean flavor on the finish. It’s fine, but the crisp, clean rootbeer flavor of Evening in Missoula with the wintergreen appeals to me more. That said, I won’t have any issues sipping this down; this cup was prepared hot (and was quite nice that way) but I definitely need to try it cold brewed/iced, which I imagine would work quite nicely.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Coffee, Licorice, Roasted, Root Beer, Sarsaparilla, Spices, Sweet

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML
AJRimmer

Whenever I restock Evening in Missoula, I may have to pick up some of this too.

ashmanra

Sandy here on Steepster went to Montana and came back with Evening In Missoula for us to try. I liked it. Ashman was traumatized. It was in his early tea sipping days. He drank two Cokes, brushed his teeth, drank water, and bemoaned being unable to get the taste of a whole bouquet of flowers out of his mouth. I had saved the contents of the basket to dry and put in our room like potpourri and he was horrified so I threw it away! Ha ha! I would love to try it again someday. (When he is at work.)

Ours came from Montana Tea and Spice in Missoula, but I am guessing it is the same blend. It is our benchmark now – like I ask him….was it Evening in Missoula bad to you or just bad?

Again, I really liked it! So did Sandy!

Mastress Alita

I rated Evening in Missoula a 98 (review here: https://steepster.com/mastressalita/posts/376087 ), it’s one of my favorite teas. It doesn’t taste floral to me at all (I don’t even taste the chamomile in the blend, and I hate chamomile). It’s a TeaSource blend (though tons of mom and pops wholesale it from them) and it tastes like rootbeer to me (it has wintergreen, sarsaparilla, and cherry bark in it, all very rootbeer-y herbs). This is also a TeaSource blend, and also tastes like rootbeer to me, it just isn’t as good as Evening in Missoula to me.

gmathis

This reminds me it is high time for me to break out my sassafras concentrate. I need a good tonickin, as Granny Clampett would say.

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drank Red Dawn by TeaSource
225 tasting notes

#tiffanys2021sipdown Tea #54 overall / Tea #21 for February

Sunday 2/14 — I am not a black/rooibos/white fan (more of a oolong/green/herbal fan) but my boyfriend got a SCOBY for Christmas so we started making kombucha. This was a sample bag(6 grams) from last fall (2020) Virtual Tea Festival. This is the one I brewed the night of 2/14 when my boyfriend requested a new plain hot black tea for our kombucha… nice way to easily sipdown a tea I’d normally just pass over when I have 1032492834823408324 different teas.

#tiffanydrinkstea #tiffanys2021 #tiffanysfaves #tiffanyinthe614 #tiffanysteasipdown #sipdownchallenge

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73

Pulled this as my next “daily drinker until gone” package of old tea. Like (most) of my old tea, it still wasn’t opened yet! We got dumped on with the white stuff last night and I just want a simple, warm cuppa this morning.

Very tiny leaf for being full leaf and not CTC! Brewed 3.5g to 350ml 205F water for 3 minutes. Brewed cup has a lovely aroma of subtle barbecue smoke, tangy orange, and molasses, that together make me think of some fancy meat glaze.

Ooo, that is a strong cup of tea! Has a very deep flavor and some astringency, but is surprisingly smooth for how dark of a cup it produces. I get a strong burnt leather and smoke note, with a bit of a malty undertone. Toward the end of the sip, a subtle citrus is present, most close to orange zest. I get sort of a dark molasses and black pepper, thick and sticky coating feeling left afterwards on my tongue. Also, a ghost of a rose note left in the aftertaste, too. Tea is just a bit mouth-drying, now that I’m halfway through the cup.

It’s tasty, and I do like keemuns, but I might try using a little less leaf next time and see if that makes a difference on the astrigent/drying qualities without affecting the flavor too much.

Flavors: Astringent, Burnt, Citrus, Drying, Floral, Leather, Malt, Molasses, Orange Zest, Pepper, Rose, Smoke, Umami

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 12 OZ / 350 ML
Cameron B.

I should steal your idea for having a designated daily drinker… I haven’t been doing so well with drinking my old teas!

Mastress Alita

All my teas are 2oz. packages and there is just no way I’d get through that much if I didn’t put in that sort of effort.

Cameron B.

I’ve been mostly focusing on small packages just to get that number down quickly and give myself some momentum. But I should definitely have at least a cup a day of old, larger teas too!

TeaEarleGreyHot

Yes, small packs make achievable goals! Big cakes of Puer are hopeless, so pile them in the back of the cupboard and pretend you’re aging them—thereby turning hopelessness into victory! Eventually old age turns us ALL into penny-pinchers and we can brag about the well-ripened Pu’erhs we wisely set aside!

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65
drank Apple Chai by TeaSource
898 tasting notes

I used this tea in my Salted Caramel smoothie yesterday to add an apple component (I don’t like actual blended apples because apple sauce is one of many foods that gives me texture issues), and it smelled so nice as the hot tea was steeping before I put it in the fridge to chill that I decided I wanted to make a cup of it as my take-to-work tea today.

The tea has a strong green apple aroma that is lovely. Sadly, it falls flat in the actual cup. I am getting a bit of an appley note, but the spices are very dominant and sort of washing out the flavoring, making it come off too subtle or as a background note. I need moar apple! Mostly I’m tasting a heavy cinnamon and clove note that isn’t spicy, but feels sort of chalky/drying as it settles over the tongue. It’s hard to notice the apple until the spices have faded off the tongue a bit. And I don’t really taste the green tea base at all… perhaps a very subtle warm hay note, but that could just as easily be coming from the lemongrass, I suppose.

It’s drinkable, but far from a favorite when it comes to spiced apple blends. I have two ounces to work through, so I’ll probably try playing around with it in a few different preparation methods (iced, latte) to see if any are a clear winner.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Drying, Green Apple, Herbaceous, Hot Hay, Spices

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

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drank Sweet Ginger Green by TeaSource
1348 tasting notes

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79

Busting out the aroma cup set for this session. The only steeping guidelines on the bag are for western-style but I prefer my oolongs gong fu style. Experimenting with tea gives you a better sense of what parameters the tea is best suited to. It’s harder to do that with western style unless you have a cupping set made for tasting. The inital smell is full of lilacs and orchids. While the wet leaf is reminiscent of a rainforest after a light rain with slight butter. My first steeping wasn’t long enough. Only did about 30 seconds, which usually is enough to decipher something but the hot tea didn’t give me much. Ah, now that is has cooled it begins to shine. Vegetal and little butter slight mineral in the aftertaste. The second steep is better and ripe with heavy orchid aroma from the aroma cup.

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Bitter and fruity as a good bar of dark chocolate. I would pair this with toast and jam.

Flavors: Apricot, Dark Chocolate, Malt, Raisins

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drank Vanilla Thrilla by TeaSource
34 tasting notes

This vanilla-flavored rooibos is quickly becoming my go-to for evenings when I want dessert but I’ve already had all the sugar and caffeine I can handle for the day. Very strong vanilla flavor, holds up well to blending with milk, chocolate, even marshmallows.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Vanilla

gmathis

Rooibos with marshmallows! Ooh! I smell an experiment coming…

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40

One of my sipdown goals this year was to do more gong fu brewing. This is a type of brewing that simply doesn’t fit into my “normal work week” (which involved taking either a warm thermos or cold water bottle of tea with me to work and drinkng that for the full eight hours, then having to switch to herbal infusions after I get home). So I’m trying to get in a session on my weekends off, and since I took next week off for staycation (gotta use-it-or-lose-it with the vacaton time), perhaps I’ll manage a few more over the week.

I tend to sort of “ignore” or “avoid” the pu’erh in my collection for a few reasons: firstly, I just can’t seem to warm up to the taste of it no matter how hard I try, how I brew it, what have you, which leads to the second, I tell myself that just maybe it won’t taste so foul if I “let it age” for eons in the back of the cupboard (so far, this never seems to work out for me though). This particular one I remember ordering some time ago at my local coffee haunt, Twin Beans, which sources a small amount of teas from TeaSource. They only do western brewing with small teapots there, I thought it tasted ghastly (but made it through my pot), and decided to buy some of the leaf from them because somewhere in my head I thought it would magically “be better” if brewed gong fu style instead. I never wanted an ounce of pu, but they sold by the ounce, so that was the smallest amount I could get. So I have more of this than I care to have, and it is probably time to see if brewing it gong fu actually makes it any better…

180ml mini pot | 9g | 205F | Rinse/10s/13s/16s/19s/22s

The wet leaf aroma after the rinse is that of bitter melon, sour vegetables, and a bit of tobacco smoke. The liquor of the first infusion smells the same. It… still tastes ghastly to me. It’s the tobacco taste! That may just be my most disliked note in all of tea-dom, banana-aversion aside. It’s just thick and coating and so prevalent I can’t even try to focus on any of the other flavors in the tea. Just so bitter and ashy. Ugh. The second infusion shows a bit of improvement; I’m still getting a sticky, drying tobacco smoke taste left on my tongue which is highly unpleasant, but during the sip the flavor is more of a slightly sour vegetal note, with a bit of that “marshy” taste I typically get from pu’erh. Third infusion became even more of that “swamp marsh” taste, which isn’t my favorite, but much better than the tobacco/bitter tastes. It became easier to drink the further into infusions I went, but never became “enjoyable” for me. Even when the sip became easier to swallow, I always had a somewhat bitter and ashy aftertaste that I just couldn’t get behind. I surprised myself for making it through five steeps.

Definitely not my cuppa, mostly because of the tobacco notes. I don’t like greens with that taste, either. Might sound sacriledge, but I think I’m going to add peppermint to the rest and try cold brewing and see if I can’t get more of a Moroccan Mint taste where the peppermint masks the tobacco taste a bit (as it does with Gunpowder Green, another tea I don’t like because of the tobacco flavors), as I find that easier to swallow. There is simply no way I’d finish off the rest of the leaf this way.

Flavors: Ash, Astringent, Bitter, Bitter Melon, Drying, Mineral, Smoke, Sour, Tobacco, Vegetal, Wet Moss, Wet Rocks

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 9 g 6 OZ / 180 ML
Cameron B.

The fact that you hated it and bought some anyway is hysterical… XD

Mastress Alita

I know! I get this idea in my head that somehow gong fu is the “right way” to drink certain teas so, obviously, the fact the teashop served it western had to be the problem and I had to prove myself right.

……………I was wrong.

Cameron B.

Well I think it’s sweet of you to give it a fair chance! ;)

Martin Bednář

2007 sheng… well that’s oldie!

Mastress Alita

It doesn’t seem to matter how old it is, I still don’t like it. :-( I think this idea that they “get better with age” doesn’t work on me…

Todd

It was pretty “meh” to me brewed western… not good but not horrible, lol. I definitely won’t be buying any.

tea-sipper

I hope you have a most enjoyable staycation!

Mastress Alita

I’m, admittedly, starting to go a bit stir crazy (I want OUT and DOING THINGS already!) but at least I’m being paid to not be at work. :-)

AJRimmer

Yeah, I’ll probably max out on vacation hours before my job goes back to in person, but I’ll hate having to use them for not vacations!

Mastress Alita

I have to use up two weeks worth by March or they will be lost, so I have little choice! I have another week of staycation in February just to use it all up…

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95
drank Candied Almond by TeaSource
3391 tasting notes

Mastress Alita’s sipdown challenge National Kiss a Ginger Day / National Marzipan Day Tea #3
From last night!  This particular tea is from Mastress Alita – thanks very much!  It took a while to write a note for this as I’ve had many iterations of this tea in the past.   Somehow some of these blends sometimes seem like there is ONE piece of rosehip… like it imparts just enough tanginess for me to notice.  (Though it isn’t in the ingredients list, I swear I can see a rosehip in the pouch.) Or maybe it’s just an overabundance of the apple in the scoop I brewed, creating that tanginess.  If anything, this cup wasn’t the bright pink from the beetroot that it normally is, so that is also unusual.  So not just my tastebuds changing.  Otherwise, it’s usually sweet almond with a hint of apple.  So not quite what I remember but I don’t think I’ll ever get over this unique blend.   I’m glad a few shops sell it.
2021 sipdowns: 8 – David’s S’mores Chai

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80
drank Sticky Rice Puer by TeaSource
803 tasting notes

Samurai TTB #50

I have yet to develop an appreciation for puerh. However, I do love sticky rice! And this little heart-shaped cakes were so adorable, I just had to give this one a try. And honestly, it was a pleasant surprise! The tea is a bit earthy, but it’s not musty or fishy like others that I’ve tried. The sticky rice really comes through in both the aroma and flavor and I love the unique umami flavor it gives to the tea. My only complaint is that I did find the aftertaste a bit drying to my throat. This probably isn’t something I’d purchase, but it was really fun to get to try it!

Flavors: Drying, Earth, Rice, Umami

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
Courtney

I’m the same with pu’erh — I want to do a deep dive, but it’s just too overwhelming haha! I’m glad this one was tasty!

Inkling

Maybe someday! :)

Mastress Alita

I haven’t warmed up to plain puerh either, but do like it in certain blends, including this one. The “Dark Rose” hearts from TeaSource are also some of my favs!

Inkling

May have to try those! Thanks for the tip.

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drank Karigane by TeaSource
34 tasting notes

A very friendly and enjoyable tea, lots of sweetness that reminds me of gyokuro but much more forgiving to brew. I like to make this one with boiling water to bring out the intensity of color and flavor, and it doesn’t add any bitterness at all. The flavor is straightforward grass and fresh vegetables, without any umami or saline notes.
Happy holidays all, I hope you have good tidings and good tea!

Flavors: Grass, Peas

gmathis

That sounds really tasty after a month of heavy flavorings and spices (and Italian cream cake and homemade toffee and…)

Cameron B.

I love stem teas, they always have such a pleasant sweetness to them! And happy holidays!

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