New Tasting Notes


Thank you for this one Leafhopper!

Session parameters: 15 sec rinse with 3 oz, 5 oz here on out or less, then 20 sec, 10, 25, 35, 45, and then I went into more western parameters in the minutes. Brews were super forgiving, and pushing the tea got more rounded flavor.

It’s pretty unique, and there were more Tie Guan Yin characteristics in it. Tasting it blind, earlier steeps were nutty, but very heavy in orchid and woody florals. Early steeps were extremely light leaning in a floral watercress profile with not bitterness, only slight lettucy profiles and maybe cucumber. There is also something subdued about it that almost makes me think mineral, as in mineral water that’s light. Sometimes, there is a little bit of pithiness. Otherwise, I couldn’t quite pin down the sweeter note. It leaned towards water chestnut personally on the surface, maybe grapefruit or apricot territory if I’d describe any fruit. Watercress and orchid for sure in the early steeps, more pronounced oolong floral soup in the later ones with a hint of fruitiness, definitely fresh lettuce or spinach and growing green bitterness sneaking in. Not prominent, however.

Reading the other notes from leafhopper and TheTea, I can kinda see some of the other qualities like the almond and blood orange, but it’s too vaguely citrusy rather than a full citrus fro me.

Either way, I liked this tea a lot because it was unique and a greener one. Apart of me wonders if there was a light roast to preserve it in some way. I liked what it could do anyway.

Flavors: Citrus, Creamy, Floral, Lettuce, Mineral, Nutty, Orchid, Orchids, Spinach, Spring Water, Sweet, Vegetal, Woody

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Mastress Alita’s sipdown challenge – June Tea #1: – An orange tea

This tea, bleh, glad it’s gone now.
2022 sipdowns: 70
I’m back from visiting family. It was… rough. The most bizarre thing happened. My aunt is around my grandmother all the time so she would know… my aunt thinks something happened to my grandmother and it seems she had overnight Alzheimer’s and the sad part is, it seems to be focused on her direct family members. Like she has no map of her family tree at this point. She asked who my aunt was the day before we went for the visit, her main caregiver, then she didn’t recognize three others of her closest family, including me. The last time I saw her I distinctly remember her saying to me “I’ll never forget this lady.” She thinks we are all hired caregivers or long lost children she didn’t know she had. It’s terrible and hard to process. Not sure if it was consistent the entire time we were there for three weeks. She might have been embarrassed to say she didn’t know who we were, so she could have been pretending to know most of the time. I just kept pointing to the quick dial numbers on her phone. It was all of us on the top row. :( She did just recently survive covid so we are all hoping it is a temporary covid fog. I have heard covid ages everyone 20 years, so there you go. But to survive covid and then a month or two later this happens? uh. So sad. Watching someone go through memory loss has always been one of my greatest dreaded fears.

Maddy Barone

My mom had dementia. I would call her and I could tell she didn’t know who I was even though I identified myself at the start of the call. Then, ten minutes later, she suddenly realized who I was. It was so hard for me to lose my mom that way. So I have some idea of how this visit was for you. Hugs.

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drank Candy Cane Matcha by DAVIDsTEA
6304 tasting notes

Made this iced and topped it with a white chocolate cold foam. It is delicious. A candy cane and white chocolate cold foam really is the perfect Christmas drink for those celebrating Christmas in July…or in my case, June. Just a classic Christmas flavor profile but cold and refreshing.

Check out the pic here:

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drank Earl Grey by Stash Tea
26 tasting notes

Weak, especially compared to Whittard of Chelsea’s bagged Earl Grey.

Flavors: Bergamot

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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drank English Breakfast by T2
26 tasting notes

Weak, very weak compared to T2’s. Barely any flavor, barely infused into water.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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No notes yet. Add one?

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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The flavor is mostly a pleasant rooibos, but I get some strawberry in there too. It’s good warm or cold with sugar and milk. It doesn’t really remind me of a milkshake, but it’s probably the best strawberry rooibos I’ve had. The flavors go together really nicely. I had a quite milky last cold resteep of this and finally saw the milkshake idea. This is another one I wouldn’t mind a bigger bag of.


Do you have enough to try it cold steeped in milk or maybe make it like a Masala?


Nah, the advent calendar amount only made two servings (plus resteeps) for me, and I already drank them ): if it comes back, I’ll try some other methods!

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I believe the Brightness tea I tried the other day was also a summer-harvest tea, so it’ll be interesting to see how this differs.

Dry leaves smell plenty grassy and dark green, sweeter, I think, than the last tea, and maybe there’s some milkiness in there. Wet leaves are foresty, mossy and…. why do I keep getting chocolate vibes in these teas?

For once, I don’t think I understeeped the first cup. It’s certainly…. interesting, starting out kind of sweet and brothy and turning astringent and … sour, like a hot and sour soup, maybe. It feels heavy and substantial in the mouth. The second steeping is a bit more immediate on the astringency but also… richer, more savory, less sweet. The sour notes are nearly gone, but seem to return in the third steeping, a umami-adjacent juiciness. It’s got some background grassiness, but that’s far from the focus. I’m not sure I can really define the focus, but it’s… it’s really good and just so interesting, competes with the Autumn Moon for my favorite tea in this sampler. I’d like to get more of each and try them side by side.

Looking at the website, it appears the only difference between this tea and Brightness is that Brightness is shaded for two weeks before harvest, while this tea is not. And I think I prefer this tea to Brightness, so maybe I just prefer unshaded teas? Brightness was still very interesting its own way, and might be excellent in certain applications, but this tea is more to my personal tastes, I feel. I love how so many of the teas in this sampler vary just slightly enough that I can start drawing conclusions like this.

I should start thinking ahead though, as I realize I’m about halfway through this sampler. While I still have enough houjicha to last me ~2 weeks, I should probably start shopping around for new sencha to try, given shipping can take a while. I’ll need to finish this sampler before I make any reordering decisions, so in the meantime I’m open to vendor or specific sencha recommendations, if anyone has any suggestions!

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drank Ginseng by HYLEYS
750 tasting notes

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drank Black Oolong by Cultivate Tea
816 tasting notes

Putting a QR code on a tea package is an awesome idea! The initial aroma was bursting with longgon and woody notes. Bits of lychee too. Now I really want a longgon. The first steep started with minerality and fruity longgon notes but as the steep went on it changed to heavier wood notes with the longgon taking a back seat. Second steep held up nicely. There is a flavor in there I can’t quite pin down. I find it in other oolongs from China the mix of fruity, woody, and minerality brings it on and my palate doesn’t quite know where to put it. I brought this one to Greece with me but I think I brought too much tea with. Just didn’t have the time to get to all of it and there were some mornings we woke up too enjoy a good gong fu session. You don’t rush gong fu. Third steep is losing flavor but if steeped longer than five minutes it gains some nice dry wood flavors.

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The long dark green needles of this handmade kabusecha are among the most elegant I’ve ever seen. Besides that, this tea shines in its mind clearing effect, powerful and engaging aftertaste as well as the layered bitterness. As such, I think it could appeal to young sheng drinkers too.

The taste is very mineral and bitter from the first infusion already, one that is also full of umami notes as expected. The second steep has a notable vegetal bite and gin-like bitterness. The third is more brothy and woody with a sweet grassy finish. The mouthfeel is creamy and not too thick, but it has a lively evolution – developing a range of tingling and numbing sensations.

The aftertaste is very strong and long lasting. Overall, floral and herbaceous notes dominate, but others like peas also appear. At some points it also reminds me of a yellow tea aftertaste.

Flavors: Bitter, Floral, Green Wood, Herbaceous, Mineral, Peas, Umami, Vegetable Broth, Vegetal

150 °F / 65 °C 7 g 6 OZ / 180 ML

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drank Sweet Zhang by 52teas
6304 tasting notes

Made this earlier and I didn’t pay super close attention but remember chocolate.

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drank Sikkim Green Oolong by
1241 tasting notes

Autumn 2021 harvest, thank you Ketlee for the sample :)

Lots of low tones here, almost everything sits low. Milky and earthy-nutty pistachio butter notes do stand out above a tangy cut grass base taste with herbal chocolate mint and chrysanthemum nuances. There’s also something like sun-warmed skin, so maybe a hint of clean muskiness that joins a generic stonefruit tone.

Along with the milky taste comes a milky texture upfront that turns into viscous and sweet spring water. Juicy swallow can turn dry if oversteeped.

The warmed leaf smells entirely like Captain Crunch Berries cereal in milk, just like a Japanese oolong had earlier this year:

Very similar to the Sikkim Autumn Green of the same harvest season: I don’t know if I could tell much difference. Does this behave more like an oolong or a green tea? I don’t know. I guess it is smoother than the green. The oolong processing experiment could use some tweaking to make some notes pop. Not a bad tea by any means for being organic and sold at $3.50/25g, I’m just more into well defined flavors and those that aren’t milky, nutty, sweet.

Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Chrysanthemum, Earthy, Freshly Cut Grass, Grassy, Juicy, Kettle Corn, Milk, Milky, Mineral, Mint, Musk, Nutty, Oats, Pistachio, Roasted Nuts, Spring Water, Stonefruit, Strawberry, Sweet, Tangy, Viscous

200 °F / 93 °C 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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drank Typhoo Decaf by Typhoo
1752 tasting notes

I was hoping to find a straight decaf black tea to have on hand that would rival the strength of PG Tips. This one seemed to get really good reviews, so I managed to get my hands on a box. It was not an easy one to find for some reason. With all the trouble it took, I have to say that I’m no so happy with it now that I’ve made a cup. The flavor is light and sort of bland. Not complex at all. I know I probably shouldn’t expect much from decaf, but I know there are good decaf blends out there so I do. Might just end up using this one to mix with other blends.

Boiling 6 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

I think I’ve finally accepted the hard truth that there is no perfect decaf black tea, although this one happens to be my favorite. I’ll be interested to see if you’re able to land on one that is your “best you can find.”


I think you’re probably right. I hope to try some of Harney & Sons decaf black teas since I do love their decaf blends. Maybe the Ceylon and/or the Assam when the samples are available again.

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Dry leaves smell very.. deeply green, very chlorophyll-rich, with that bitter edge that tends to accompany darker greens, like chard and lacinato kale. Wet leaves remind me of a pond overgrown with algae and teeming with life.

Despite my attempt to brave my fears and not understeep this, letting it sit a whole 15 seconds longer, the first steeping is still quite mild, slightly green-bitter at the backend, otherwise, vaguely pondwater flavored.

The second steeping explodes. Green peas and spinach, a slight nuttiness and a vegetal sweetness, a pretty intense green flavor that makes me feel like I am getting a lot of vitamins in this. I don’t know how much of that is actually true. I guess for one they’d have to be water soluble nutrients, and probably only in very small quantities, equating to those in a mouthful of spinach at most. But, no matter. I’ve never been into tea for any alleged health benefits, but it’s a nice perk when it happens.

There’s a hint of a crisp mineral-ness to this too, brightening the dark-green depth just enough. I keep coming back to “pondwater” and believe me when I say I mean that in the most affectionate way. The minerally and algal flavors just meld into something I can’t think of a better way to describe.

Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s agreeing very well with my empty stomach. Some green teas are just… like that, and I don’t entirely know why. Maybe I can narrow it down, though, if I keep taking notes.

I will say, I am also getting a very relaxed headiness from this tea, what I used to (and I guess may as well still) call “tea-high.” It is also something that some teas do better than others, for reasons I’ve never really narrowed down. I think in the past I’ve most commonly gotten it from younger sheng, and once very intensely from a mid-grade silver needle. I’m uncertain if I’ve ever gotten this from a sencha before. It’s interesting. But for all I know, it’s nothing to do with the tea, and more to do with other biochemical factors of whatever else is going on in my body at the moment. I’ve never really scienced it out that far.

I really need to start noting whether or not I would purchase more of this in these notes, because otherwise I am going to forget. I think only very rarely do I re-purchase tea, though, it’s so much more fun to try new things than familiar things, even things that I know I love. And when I do want to repurchase tea, it’s usually for the comforting factor of it rather than the complexity or interest of it, and the comforting factors are usually factors that are present in teas of lower grades, so it becomes a matter of finding the most budget-friendly version of the tea rather than the version that most perfectly encapsulates what I am looking for.

And tea is so darn seasonal, really, especially sencha. who knows if a repurchase of this tea would be from the same harvest, it might be entirely different! But I guess one can assume that summer harvest teas from the same farm would at least retain similar enough characteristics.

Anyway… as for this tea, I’m not sure I would go out of my way for it, but if I did end up with more of it, I think I might like to try it with a hearty, smokey stew, or some kind of campfire-meal. It just tastes like such an outdoorsy sort of tea. I’d also like to try cold-brewing it, I think.

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drank Russian Morning N°24 by Kusmi Tea
1529 tasting notes

This is a nice hearty black tea. Something in the base isn’t super agreeable to me, maybe tasting a bit vegetal and not rich and malty enough. It’s still pretty tasty with milk, just not ideal.

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drank Genmaicha by Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms
69 tasting notes

Measuring out genmaicha for a session in grams doesn’t really…. work. The brown rice is so heavy. You have to at least double it, if not more. So, some adjustments had to be made to get a flavor out of this 5 gram sample packet.

It’s really been a few years since I had a genmaicha. The delightful aroma of the wet leaves has me wondering why. It’s so satisfying, savory, nutty. The toasted flavor is entirely different from the toasted flavor of houjicha. Something in it just feels…. extra nourishing.

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drank Sally by Adagio
1529 tasting notes

This tastes like blackberries and black tea. I also get maybe some bergamot. It reminds me of Harney’s black currant flavoring. It’s pretty accurate and nice if you like berry black teas.

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