109 Tasting Notes

Free sample provided by FONG MONG Tea

I must apologize for taking so long to get this review done. I had tried this once before and got distracted. All would have been well except that I accidentally deleted my tasting notes. So, fresh tasting today.

Dry leaves are mostly olive green with a couple of medium brown leaves and a smattering of light yellowish green leaves/tips. Leaves are twisted and are of various lengths-I would say most are medium long, but some are quite short. Dry aroma is a typical floral that you get with green oolongs. I can definitely see describing it as somewhat perfume-y.

The brewed leaf aroma is similar but more subdued. Liquor is transparent and very pale with much more yellow than green. The flavor is very smooth and somewhat sweet. I detect mainly floral and some vegetal notes. This is definitely a high quality tea. If you like Pou Chong Oolong, you will probably enjoy this tea.

I’d like to thank FONG MONG TEA again for the free samples. My favorites would have to be Sun Moon Lake Black and the Top Grade Oriental Beauty.

Next up-I received some more generous samples from Teavivre and will be reviewing them in the coming days.

195 °F / 90 °C 6 min, 0 sec

did you ever try a short steep with the Oriental Beauty?

Scott B

Not yet, I only have enough leaf for one more brew. Did you mean short steep gong-fu style or Western-style?


I meant gong fu, but it might be interesting to try either way…

Scott B

Oh, I have never brewed gong-fu and honestly, I’m not sure that I’m ready to get into that at this time.

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drank Apricot by Harney & Sons
109 tasting notes

One of my earliest memories as a child was my mother teaching me about how companies kind of lie to you to get you to buy their product. We were walking down the cereal aisle and there was this box of shredded wheat with giant blueberries on the box and I wanted some-badly. I was too young to read and my mom explained that there were no blueberries in the box and that it was just a “serving suggestion”. Well, what does a 4 year old want with plain shredded wheat? I moved on.

So, now I’m an adult and there’s this apricot tea from Harney. The pic here shows apricots, the pic on their site shows apricots. Now, I love dried apricots, but I never considered them in a tea. However, the tea has some good reviews and the apricots in the pictures called to me. Harney doesn’t really list ingredients, but I bought some anyway.

So, let me be emphatic there are no apricots in this tea! I don’t see why not, I’ve had all kinds of dried/freeze dried fruit in tea, but there isn’t any here.

Disappointment is not a good way to start with a new tea. However, I moved on. This tea is okay. Good even, I suppose. I taste the apricot and it seems fairly natural. It goes well with the black base. It’s sweet, but sugar improves it if you are so inclined-usually I’m not. The tea is smooth and not bitter. I really can’t find a time of day to have this tea-not strong enough for breakfast, too sweet for afternoon, yet not really “dessert-ey” tasting. Maybe it would be good iced.
It’s a decent tea, but I probably wouldn’t buy it again.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

I like your Mom already!

Scott B

Clicks the “Like” button :)

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Finally! I’ve been looking for this tea for over a week now. I found it in a box under some Upton samples, that I am sure I checked at least 4-5 times before.

Anyhow, this brews a beautiful deep copper cup. The tea is robust, but not bitter or astringent. Still a little more Ceylon and less Assam than I’d like in a Ceylon/Assam Irish blend. However, it’s the best Irish blend I’ve tried in awhile. I also enjoy the fact that it’s organic. This will go into my rotation of breakfast teas and will be my preferred Irish Breakfast. Good stuff.

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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drank Golden Fleece by Verdant Tea
109 tasting notes

Thanks to David at Verdant Tea for enclosing a free sample of this more pricey tea in my recent order. Other places just throw in the same cheap stuff no matter what you order-I’m talking about you TEAVANA Youthberry, among others.

Quality Yun Nan Dian Hong is kind of a special tea to me. It’s relaxed and mellow, meant to be savored. I only drink it when I know that I have time to get 3 infusions out of it-no one and done cups like with a breakfast tea.

The dry leaves here are medium-long, tighly-rolled, and colored golden brown. The brewed leaves turn chocolate brown and contain notes of cinnamon and sweet potato. Liquor is a pleasing copper hue.

The flavor tastes mostly of the sweet potato and cinnamon (no orange citrus notes like in some Dian Hong). I also detect some other spices-perhaps clove. The cup is very smooth. Zero bitterness or astringency. Good stuff.

I have had 3 infusions so far, brewing one minute longer each time. Very nice.

Boiling 1 min, 0 sec

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A FF Darjeeling sample I bought several weeks ago.

The short, tightly-rolled dry leaf is various shades of medium to dark green and smells sweet and somewhat floral. The brewed leaf smells rather nondescript. I get traditional FF darjeeling notes that smell more weedy than floral to me. Liquor is a clear amber.

The flavor is pretty nice. I taste a little bit of the lemony notes, but nothing else I can identify. No idea what Lily of the Valley would smell or taste like, so maybe it’s there. This cup is not too fruity or floral and I enjoyed it. It does start to get bitter as it cools.

The second steep didn’t taste as nice. I probably waited 3-5 minutes after brewing before I tasted it and it was already fairly bitter.

So, one good steep and one not. I haven’t been real crazy about any FF Darjeelings and I probably wouldn’t buy this in the future.

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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Cantaloupe and cream just doesn’t seem a natural combination, but with all the rave reviews, I decided to try it anyway.

This is a really pretty tea to look at. The dry leaves are large and green. This must be fresher than other Bai Mu Dan I have had in the past. The Helichrysum flowers that are blended in look similar to baby’s breath (those little white flowers often included in red rose bouquets). The aroma is amazing-I smell mostly the cream (maybe the Helichrysum too-not sure how that smells).

The brewed aroma is more of the same-not sure how you get a vegan flavoring to smell so natural and creamy, but Stacy has done it. Even my gf, who never has any interest or comment about tea, actually commented on the pleasing scent.

The taste is fantastic-natural, creamy, and rich. I can’t taste as much cantaloupe as everybody else (maybe it’s my taste buds?), but I don’t even care because the cream flavoring is so excellent. Of course, this tea is very smooth and has zero bitterness. I’d like to try it iced. Just a great tea.

As a side note, I imagine that cream flavoring would go really well with say a root beer float tea or a cream soda tea. Delicious.

EDIT I made a second steep, let it cool, then put it in the freezer for a bit to ice it. I added just one teaspoon of sugar. Tastes great! I had to hold back from chugging it because I didn’t want caffeine so fast so late in the day. I need to make this earlier next time.

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 30 sec
Butiki Teas

The idea for this combination of flavors came about because during the summer I like to get fresh Jersey cantaloupe and I like to top it with coconut milk. I use the thick creamy part at the top of the can of coconut milk and I will also add a little bit of this vegan sugar I get from whole foods that has slightly larger chunks so it adds sweetness and a little crunchiness. Ultimately, I decided not to add coconut flavor since a lot of people seem to loath it. I’ve thought about doing a root beer float. Its still something I might attempt in the future.

Scott B

Thanks for sharing that, Stacy-it definitely works out great.
I’m not sure how much demand there is for a root beer float tea, but it sounds really great with all these 100 degree days.


Stacy – I would love it you could manage a root beer float tea!! DavidsTea recently came out with one, but I’m not the hugest fan. I could see you doing a much better job :)

Butiki Teas

Hmmm, well a rootbeer float tea might be a fun idea. I’ll give it some serious consideration.

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Nilgiri’s are supposed to make good iced teas, so I decided to try some before my sample runs out.

I used 2 teaspoons instead of one and hot brewed. Then I poured the brewed tea over a cup of ice until melted.

The tea is very clear, as promised. Strangely, I tasted a little bit of a floral flavor that isn’t there when consumed hot. There is also a little bit of a bitterness in the finish. This really called out for 2-3 teaspoons of sugar-although I only put in one. If you are a fan of lemon, I think it would take well to this.

It’s good, but I prefer it hot. I also don’t like to add more than a teaspoon or so of sugar-if any. I can’t say that I wouldn’t ice it again-but it’s not likely to be my top choice.

Rating number is for the hot tea.

EDIT – I couldn’t stand the thought of throwing the leaves out after one steep and I made a second steep. Same parameters save for a touch more ice. I’m enjoying this cup more. The bitterness is no longer noticeable and the floral note is gone. I’m tasting more spicy, woodsy notes now. This cup is a little sweeter and does not require any sugar at all. Very nice.

Boiling 3 min, 45 sec

yes, I had a tea from Tao of Tea called Lemon drops, it was lemon myrtle mixed with Nilgiri and I liked that combination!

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drank Pyramid Teabags by PG Tips
109 tasting notes

Amidst all the Celestial Seasonings teas, I was surprised to see this tea in my grocery store. I’ve heard a lot about it and I see even Mark T. Wendell sells it so I thought “England’s #1 Tea” was worth a shot. Fortunately, I still have my tea bag tongs.

The Kenyan tea in the blend is what makes this different for me-never had Kenyan in an English/Scottish/Irish blend.

PG promises 50% more room in this pyramid bag, but it seems pretty small as far as pyramid bags go. If you don’t unfold it carefully, you have mainly a basic teabag. This brews a nice, dark mahogany cup in only two minutes, and is probably really loaded with caffeine. The flavor is strong and brisk-it tastes much like Upton’s East Frisian Blend. There is just a slight bitterness on the finish-doesn’t bother me.

I enjoyed this cup. Not sure that I would have this as anything but a breakfast tea, but it’s flavorful and wakes me up. I like it.

Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

I’ve tried PG Tips a few years ago and thought it was nothing special. Nowhere near as good as East Frisian Blend! Maybe I received a bad batch of TIPS.

Just Me

I like PG Tips more than Red Rose or Salada etc if I have to go bagged. It’s got a nice, distinct taste. Haven’t tried the pyramid bags though.

Scott B

The pyramid bags hold about 3 grams of tea, which I believe is more tea than most bags, so that is nice.
It’s not a great tea, but it’s good. It makes me wonder how good it could be as a full leaf loose blend. I’m thinking it’s the Kenyan tea that makes it more distinct.


Every Kenyan tea I’ve had, has its own distinction.

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I received this sample from Stacy of Butiki Teas as part of their “new customer appreciation special”. Thank you, very much.

This is nice and surprising. Brewed leaf smells like cinnamon, malt, and oak. Liquor is a light golden color. The most prominent note in the flavor is of sweet potato. This reminds me of a Yun Nan Dian Hong. Very smooth and satisfying-I had no idea Kenyan teas could be so delicate. I hope this re-steeps well.

EDIT – I did get one more nice steep out of this. I had thought this was a breakfast “wake you up” type tea, but it’s more of a relaxing afternoon cup for me. If you like Yun Nan golden tips/needles, you might want to try this tea.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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I have a hard time getting my green teas in.

It’s not that I don’t like them-I do, but I like black teas better, and the way my Zoji boiler works, I have to be certain I am done with black teas for the day before I go green or white. Problem is, I may have consumed 5 cups of black before my machine is cooled enough for green and by then, I am near my limit for the day. Well, I am drinking tea a bit later today, so that’s good news for my greens!

I was nervous about liking this one, but the reviews were so glowing, I went ahead and got some-glad I did. The dry leaves are very dark green, tightly twisted and curly. The aroma reminds me a bit of the floral in a green oolong as well as a green vegetable.

Brewed leaves turn cooked spinach green. Brewed aroma is mostly vegetal with maybe some light creamy and toasty notes. Liquor is pale, more yellow than green in color.

Flavor is mostly vegetal mostly with dominant notes of cooked spinach. I was hoping for the notes of carmelized green beans, but don’t taste that yet. Reminds me a lot of Teavivre’s Xin Yang Mao Jian. This is kind of sweet, very smooth, and zero bitterness. I like this quite a bit. I’m on my third steep and I haven’t tasted any notes of vanilla soymilk-and I would think I would recognize that since I drink it a lot. However, I didn’t buy the tea for soymilk notes and I like it just fine the way it is. I’m not sure 6 months ago that I would try these types of greens-I was mainly Moroccan Mint and Jasmine. I can thank Steepster for helping me to expand my horizons.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Started drinking tea for health benefits maybe 5 years ago-exclusively bagged tea. Usually went for various Celestial Seasonings type of stuff. I bought a tea infuser at a gourmet shop once and then I realized there was almost no loose tea available. Eventually tiring of bags, I started ordering loose tea online and I have never gone back. Initially, I was exploring all the wild and exotic flavor combinations, but now I mostly drink straight teas. I still enjoy blended teas-but prefer those without “flavoring”. Hope to learn here and find some new teas I might not otherwise find. Am a vegan, so “milk” generally means “soymilk” to me. If it’s almond, rice, or coconut, I will mention that fact.

I am new here, and new to reviewing tea. Many of my initial reviews will be from memory and may not be very detailed at all. I hope to write more informative reviews on current and future teas.

I won’t let external factors affect my rating of the tea-such as slow shipping, too expensive, etc. I’ll mention any customer service problems in my reviews. I also won’t let my mistakes in not following the seller’s recommended parameters affect a rating. I can’t believe people who say “I forgot about it and oversteeped it” and then give it a rating. If I brew outside the parameters, I will wait until I brew it right before I give it a rating.

TEMPORARY RATING SYSTEM- Don’t hold me to these numbers and descriptions-like George Bluth, I like to tweak.

90+ It’s awesome, right?? I’ll probably try to keep it on hand.

80-89 – I really like this and will buy it again at some point, but there are so many teas to try!

70-79 – This is a pretty good tea and I may buy it again based on my mood, what tea store I am buying from, and what kind of deal I can get.

60-69 – This is okay. I finished the bag. I would drink it again if offered, but would not buy it again.

40-59 – IF I finished the bag, I recall this tea thinking “Why in the hell did I finish the bag?”

1-39 – Did not finish the bag. Maybe not even the cup. Tea was given away or discarded.



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