1102 Tasting Notes


I’ve been drinking pretty much exclusively cold brew tea (summer heat, UGH) but when I woke up this morning, I found myself craving a more traditional warm breakfast cuppa before the oven outside has preheated too much. So I pulled out this classic breakfast tea and a box of Walker’s shortbread for breakfast. Using for the July prompt, “A tea paired with a biscuit/cookie.”

Classic breakfast tea flavor that is smooth enough to drink plain. Beautiful red color with an aroma of honeyed dates, cinnamon, and a hint of citrus. Malt for days with baked cinnamon raisin bread, lemon, and a sweet honey-leaning-on-molasses sweetness.

One of my favorite breakfast blends.

Flavors: Bread, Cinnamon, Citrus, Dates, Honey, Lemon, Malt, Molasses, Raisins, Smooth

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

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drank Kumquat Cheesecake by 52teas
1102 tasting notes

Using this for the prompt “an African tea” (for the honeybush base).

I’ve never had a kumquat, so I don’t really have any knowledge to compare the flavor to… but what I got was a citrusy flavor that was also slightly melony? Like a cross between an orange and honeydew, with a touch of citric sharpness. The honeybush itself was very smooth for me… Usually I get strong peppery notes from it, but there were none this time, instead it was quite woody with a cinnamon sort of edge to it.

A nice cuppa on a (surprising!) rainy evening. I have hardly touched a hot cup of tea in weeks, as coldbrew season has fallen upon me, and it was warm and comforting and hit the spot as I provided my lap as a heated bed for the Chiya cat.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Citrus, Honey, Honeydew, Melon, Orange, Smooth, Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 5 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

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This is one of the last Japanese teas left in my collection after strenuous sipdown efforts, and the only tea I could reasonably use for the prompt “oceanic notes” since I already used by culinary matcha for “a tea smoothie.” I purchased this tea in 2019 from the Portland Tea Fest; both myself and my friend Todd were impressed by this one at Japanese Green Tea Co’s booth. (I also paid a lot for it, and could’ve used this for “a pricey tea” as well…)

It has a strong buttery, vegetal aroma… Like copious amounts of melted butter over steamed asparagus and spinach. There is also a saline-like umami note on the nose, that mixed with the strong vegetal notes evokes seaweed. It is quite umami, with a thick salty vegetal flavor, but it is also very smooth. The tea is grown using the chagusaba method, which supposedly causes it to be naturally sweeter than many Japanese greens.

It’s a very pleasant sencha, full of smooth, silky butter and oceanic umami vegetal notes. Given the weather, I’ll probably be opting to cold brew it in the future.

Flavors: Asparagus, Butter, Ocean Air, Salt, Seaweed, Silky, Smooth, Spinach, Umami, Vegetal

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

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I bought this at the San Francisco International Tea Festival in 2018. I’m using it for the prompt “a pricy tea”… certainly there are more pricy teas out there, but this works out to close to $1 a gram which is pricy enough in my opinion!

I’ve been hording this, but making a cup this morning, I’m reminded why I was so charmed by it at their booth. I usually don’t get the claimed chocolately notes often in Chinese black teas, but this one is strong… the aroma is very chocolately, with a touch of a lemony-orange citrus scent, and a floral overtone, like a rosy sweetness. The flavor of the cup is very chocolate and sweet potato forward, with some notes of honey, orange zest, and florality.

Very satisfying cup. I don’t normally resteep tea leaves as a western brewer (blasphemous, I know) but I did this morning, and while not quite as potent as I prefer, the second cup still has a lot of sweet potato/yam flavor.

Flavors: Chocolate, Citrus, Floral, Honey, Lemon, Malt, Orange, Orange Zest, Rose, Sweet Potatoes

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

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This was one of the teas that was in the Liquid Proust “puerh exploration kit for newbies,” which I signed up for in 2018. The label was simply “Dayi 7572 2007” but this is probably the only one of the bunch I received that had cryptic labels that I think I’ve correctly tracked down and don’t have to put on Random Steepings. (Of course, I could still be wrong!)

I’m using this tea for the monthly prompt “A tea from a place you’d like to visit.” Not because I actually want to visit China (which isn’t even on my short list) but because, the other day, my friend Todd was talking about going to a Santa Cruz teahouse called Hidden Peak Tea for his graduation, and it made me realize how badly I want to go back to that area and visit him. This tea is offered at Hidden Peak Teahouse in Santa Cruz, so I’m using that as my connection.

180ml (mini teapot) | 8.45g | 205F | Rinse/10s/15s/20s/25s/30s/35s

Gong fu. Brewed the first steep a little longer than intended. The tea smells warm, spicy, and subtly smoky… mineral earth and leather aromas. On first sip I get a strong peppery leather impression, with that sort of marshy taste I don’t care for in puerh sort of subtly hiding in the background, though the edges are smoothed out and it isn’t coming off as abrasive swamp water. A bit of smoke mixes with the spiciness at the end of the sip. It stayed pretty consistent from steep and steep, aside from that “marshy” taste getting stronger, which led to me being progressively less into it. Perhaps I’m not cultured enough to properly get flavor notes from teas like this, but I think I’ll make the remainder of the leaf western style, as I honestly didn’t really notice much difference brewing gong fu. I only went six steeps until my water ran out, and was pretty over it by that point.

I’ve never been much of a pu’erh person, and while I’ve definitely had some way worse than this, I’ve also had some I was more impressed by… pretty average feelings here.

Flavors: Earth, Leather, Mineral, Pepper, Smoke, Smooth, Spices, Wet Earth, Wet Moss, Wet Rocks

205 °F / 96 °C 8 tsp 6 OZ / 180 ML

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For the June prompts “a rose tea” and “a vanilla tea.” I purchased an ounce of this catalog wholesaler blend long ago at Snake River Tea in Boise, which has since closed.

I’ve been in full coldbrew mode, so I’ve just been making this a liter at a time as coldbrew. It’s really nice! It has this nice creamy/silky feel to it, with a strong roses and cream flavor. Perhaps a subtle vegetal undertone, but the rose and vanilla flavors are strong enough it isn’t too noticeable.

If the weather calls for it, I would like to try this hot at least once before the leaf is gone, but since the weather has finally warmed up here, I’m doubtful that’ll happen.

Flavors: Cream, Floral, Rose, Silky, Smooth, Vanilla, Vegetal

Iced 8 min or more 6 g 32 OZ / 946 ML

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For the June prompt “A tea that reminds you of your best friend.” Normally I’d choose houjicha, which is his favorite kind of tea, but I’ve been so gangbusters on sipdowns the last few years I’m all out of houjicha! So I picked this tea because he kindly gifted it to me. We both aren’t fans of 100g bags of tea, which was the only size this was available, so he split it with me so we’d both have a more manageable 50g.

He told me he bought it at a tea festival in 2019 because he was impressed with the cream flavor from the sample he drank at the booth. I’m certainly getting a strong vanilla/cream aroma off the top of the cup.

On sip, the bergamot is quite strong and brisk, which mellows out the vanilla to taste… but it is tasty bergamot. The vanilla has such a lovely aroma, and mixed with the bergamot I am reminded of an Earl Grey frosting, but it is hidden a bit by the dominant bergamot on the tongue; it pops up towards the end of the sip with a refreshing sweetness from time to time, and seems to be more evident as the cup cools. The base is lovely! Wirey, full leaf Assam, providing a lovely malty/bready backdrop that is nice and smooth. I don’t get any astringency from this tea, with the citrusy bergamot providing the only bit of bitey tang.

It’s a good cup of Earl Grey. Classic. Easy to drink plain on account of the base.

Flavors: Bergamot, Bread, Citrus, Cream, Malt, Smooth, Vanilla

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

Whoa, this sounds like an Earl I need to add to my ‘TRY’ list. :D

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My pick for the sipdown prompt “an orange tea.” I purchased this in 2018 from Snake River Tea, a local-ish tea shop that has since closed. They sourced a lot of their teas from ITI, including this one.

I’ve always enjoyed this tea warm, but have been making it as a cold brew as of late (our weather is starting to finally look like summer). The base visibly looks a bit darker than I’m used to with “green” oolongs, and the flavor is more along the lines of roasted/nutty/earthy than floral/vegetal. It actually works really well with the ginger and orange flavors. Both of those flavors are quite nice, too… the orange flavoring doesn’t come off quite so artificial here, and has a nice pithiness to it. The ginger is gentle (and tasty!) rather than overly abrasive and spicy.

Makes a very refreshing and bright cold brew. I am going to enjoy working through my bag of this.

Flavors: Earth, Ginger, Mineral, Nutty, Orange, Orange Zest, Roasted, Smooth, Sweet

Iced 8 min or more 6 g 32 OZ / 946 ML

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I can’t believe I haven’t left a review for this yet… I originally bought this tea on a vacation to Portland in 2019 to help combat the really nasty taste of a nasal spray medication that would drip down my throat with the strong cinnamon candy flavor. I stopped taking that medication, and then the package sort of sat at the back of my cupboard until I realized how old it is now…

I really love this tea. I’m not sure if there is a lot that differentiates it from the thousand other “Red Hot cinnamon candy” tasting teas out there, but it is at least on a nice full leaf black base. I actually like their Rooibos version even more than this one (because I think the sweet cinnamon flavor accompanies the rooibos well and is something I crave after caffeine-cut-off time), but this is a solid morning tea and one I like equally as much hot and cold.

I will definitely have to restock this and the rooibos version at some point!

Flavors: Artificial, Candy, Cinnamon, Clove, Malt, Orange Zest, Sweet

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

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Pulled this single teabag sample out to drink this morning, as the temperature has dropped and turned rainy and I wanted something dark and warm.

I’m not sure why my brain never realized “Rice Ripened” would be the same as “Sticky Rice,” and I made the realization only after opening the packet and smelling that distinct sticky rice aroma. I like sticky rice pu’erh a lot, so it was a happy realization.

I found the pu’erh very smooth… it had a richly metallic note with earthy undertones, but lacked the potting soil/dirt flavor I often get. I actually found the sticky rice flavor itself not as prominent as I’ve found in other sticky rice pu’erh I’ve had in the past… not sure if that is due to the other ones being tuos rather than a loose teabag, the age of this sample, or if it simply is a lighter scenting than I’m used to. I actually liked the milder touch, it still had that distinct flavor in the aftertaste but wasn’t so overwhelming in the taste and aroma (though I certainly have moods where I like the mi xiang herb really strong).

A pleasant morning cup for a drizzly Sunday morning.

Flavors: Earth, Herbaceous, Metallic, Mineral, Rice, Smooth

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

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Hi! I’m Sara, a middle-aged librarian living in southern Idaho, USA. I’m a big ol’ sci-fi/fantasy/anime geek that loves fandom conventions, coloring books, simulation computer games, Japanese culture, and cats. Proud genderqueer asexual (she/they) and supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. I’m also a chronic migraineur. As a surprise to no one, I’m a helpless tea addict with a tea collecting and hoarding problem! (It still baffles me how much tea I can cram into my little condo!) I enjoy trying all sorts of teas… for me tea is a neverending journey!

Favorite Flavors:

I love sampling a wide variety of teas! For me the variety is what makes the hobby of tea sampling so fun! While I enjoy trying all different types of teas (pure teas, blends, tisanes), these are some flavors/ingredients I enjoy:
-Sweet/licorice root/stevia
-Bergamot (in moderation)

Disliked Flavors:

There are not many flavors or ingredients that I don’t like. These include:
-Bananas/banana flavoring
-Hemp/CBD teas
-Smoke-scented teas/heavy smoke flavors (migraine trigger)
-Perfumey teas/extremely heavy floral aromas (migraine trigger)
-Gingko biloba (migraine trigger)
-Chamomile (used in blends as a background note/paired with stronger flavors is okay)
-Extremely spicy/heated teas
-Medicinal flavors/Ginseng
-Metallic flavors
-Overly strong artificial flavorings

With the exception of bananas and migraine triggers, I’ll pretty much try any tea at least once!

Steeping Parameters:

I drink tea in a variety of ways! For hot brews, I mostly drink my teas brewed in the western style without additions, and for iced tea, I drink teas mostly brewed in the cold brew style without additions. Occassionally I’ll change that up. I use the https://octea.ndim.space/#/ app for water-to-tea ratios and use steep times to my preferences.

My Rating Scale:

90-100 – Top tier tea! These teas are among my personal favorites, and typically I like to keep them stocked in my cupboards at all times, if possible!

70-89 – These are teas that I personally found very enjoyable, but I may or may not feel inclined to keep them in stock.

50-69 – Teas that fall in this range I enjoyed, but found either average, lacking in some way, or I’ve had a similar tea that “did it better.”

21-49 – Teas in this range I didn’t enjoy, for one reason or another. I may or may not finish them off, depending on their ranking, and feel no inclination to restock them.

20-1 – Blech! My Tea Hall of Shame. These are the teas that most likely saw the bottom of my garbage can, because I’d feel guilty to pass them onto someone else.

Note that I only journal a tea once, not every time I drink a cup of it. If my opinion of a tea drastically changes since my original review, I will journal the tea again with an updated opinion and change my rating. Occassionally I revisit a tea I’ve reviewed before after a year or more has passed.


My Cupboard on Steepster reflects teas that I have sampled and logged for review, and is not used as an inventory for teas I currently own at the present moment. An accurate and up-to-date listing of my current tea inventory can be viewed here: https://tinyurl.com/xjt9ptx3 . I am open to tea trades (within the United States only!) at this time. Note that I will not trade teas that I currently have in a quantity less than 50g (samplers, 1oz packages, etc.) or any teas that are currently still sealed/unopened in my cupboard.

Contact Info:

Feel free to send me a Steepster PM, or alternatively, check the website URL section below; it goes to a contact form that will reach my personal e-mail.


Idaho, United States



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