Ocean of Wisdom

Tea type
Chai Herbal Rooibos Blend
Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger, Licorice Root, Rooibos
Ginger, Licorice, Pepper, Rooibos
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Bulk, Loose Leaf
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Edit tea info Last updated by Casey
Average preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 45 sec

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31 Tasting Notes View all

  • “By the gods, I love this stuff1. Yesterday, I had to collect Mum from JFK at around 7:30 in the morning. That’s around the time I usually go to sleep, so I ended up staying up the night before,...” Read full tasting note
  • “Warm spice cake in a mug. That’s sort of how Ocean of Wisdom tastes. So I’ve been pretty sick all day, and sick the entire week, just kind of miserably getting through the week. I’ve been...” Read full tasting note
  • “I wanted something more to drink tonight but it is pretty late so it needed to be decaf. Fortunately, I’ve managed to amass quite a collection of herbal samples! This is my last of this one and...” Read full tasting note
  • “Sipdown no. 71 of the year 2014. A sample. Wow, my first sipdown of the day? I’m obviously losing my momentum… But finally a Samovar herbal that is still available to buy! Whew. I was reading...” Read full tasting note

From Samovar

Origin: Rooibos and Honey Bush from South Africa. Ginger, Clove, Cinnamon, and Licorice from United States.

Flavor Profile: Deep and earthy, with a subtle cinnamon and sweetgrass sweetness that drapes the tongue. Complexly warm from the ginger and cloves.

Tea Story: Custom blended for His Holiness The Dalai Lama.

Consider this our caffeine-free Masala Chai. Our very special contribution to the traveling exhibit, The Missing Peace: Artists Consider the Dalai Lama, and, our offering to the Bodhisattva of compassion, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama!

Blended with the intention to create an infusion that is warming and grounding, uplifting and comforting. We unite the nourishing power of anti-oxidant,vitamin, and mineral packed organic, Fair Trade Rooibos and Honeybush with the calming warmth of organic cinnamon, clove, and ginger, and the subtle sweet notes of licorice.

We are honored that this blend bears the meaning of the words “Dalai Lama,” Ocean of Wisdom.

About Rooibos
From the Cedar Mountain Area, in South Africa’s Western Cape, rooibos is rich in minerals and antioxidants, and free of caffeine and made by gently roasting the tips of the rooibos plant, making the leaves a dark reddish-brown, and an amazing clear, red infusion.

Also known as “red tea,” or “red bush tea,” this herbal is pretty popular these days. A singular flavor that is slightly sweet with notes of barley malt, and yet also a tiny bit roasted. This herbal is a native to South Africa and has been getting so much publicity these days because of its abundance of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins… and their anti-aging properties.

Samovarian Poetry: This warming, grounding, delicious, organic tisane we have custom blended for His Holiness The Dalai Lama. Silken, malty mouth-feel lingers blissfully. South African rooibos, honeybush, ginger, licorice, cloves, and cinnamon. Sail from the ordinary moment into a regal, contemplative one.

Food Pairing: The Ocean of Wisdom is an amazing dessert tea. The deep earthy flavor and warming spices pair effortlessly with chocolate, fruit, sugar, and spice and everything nice. Serve the Ocean of Wisdom with home made pumpkin pie, with a warm palmier, or with chocolatey opera cake.

About Samovar View company

Samovar's is dedicated to preserving the simplicity and integrity of the tea traditions and inspiring people to practice peace through drinking tea.

31 Tasting Notes

240 tasting notes

By the gods, I love this stuff1. Yesterday, I had to collect Mum from JFK at around 7:30 in the morning. That’s around the time I usually go to sleep, so I ended up staying up the night before, afraid I’d sleep through. So there I am, 4:30 in the morning, slightly bleary-eyed and more than slightly frazzled, packing a bottle of water and a fuzzy throw for Mum. All that remained was the tea.

Once upon a time, I had only one loose tea—Ocean of Wisdom—and that’s the tea I would’ve made and taken with me. Now I have so many loose teas to consider, so many yummy (and untried) options, and the very thought of having to guess (at that hour) what Mum might like and what I should try was doing my head in, so I ended up selecting the same one: Ocean of Wisdom. It’s just so good. And the fragrance is just so heavenly.

This note, though, is about the second infusion I prepared when I got home. I have to admit that I rarely bother with second steeps, never mind multiple ones. I’d be a horrible oolong taster, given that many times, the best flavour of an oolong emerges in the third steep (and beyond). That said, I gave the second steep a try because this tea can get really expensive, compared to the others in my cupboard: my 4.4oz packet was USD$19, and Samovar recommend using 2-3 tbsp per 16oz/473mL. That’s only about 8 servings! Since it’s rooibos (and therefore naturally caffeine-free) and my favourite blend, I could go through that in a couple of days. Eep! So I was thinking I’d try and stretch it out a bit by steeping again or using less tea next time.

Anyway. The interesting thing about this is that the second steep is a completely different tea. Gone was the warm, sweet, woodsy rooibos flavour I love, and I couldn’t detect most of the other ingredients, either. Really, it just tasted like cloves and ginger. And it was awesome. It was this potent, spicy brew that felt so great hitting my throat, which is a bit vexed with me for taking it to the petri dish we call an airport. I was really surprised by the level of gingery spice, a level that I hope for in my ginger tea blends but rarely get. (To be clear, it’s surprising because the first steep isn’t at all piquant.) The second steep is also slightly astringent, but only on occasion, not throughout the cup.

From now on, this will be a two-steep tea for me.

Tea amount: 2.5 tbsp
Water amount: 16oz/~475mL
Additives: 2 tsp demerara sugar
Dry mouth factor: 4/10 (second steep only, first steep is 1/10)

1 http://steepster.com/bleepnik/posts/57991

Boiling 8 min or more

hmmmmm I might need to try this one. That sounds really interesting :)


I have a feeling that I’ll be lowering my rating as I find new favourites and try all the tea samples I’ve accumulated, but I can’t imagine it’d ever dip below 95.

Terri HarpLady

What a great name for a tea!


Agreed! I love the story behind it, too: blended especially for the Dalai Lama. I think that gives it extra superpowers to spread peace and calm. :D

Terri HarpLady

well, yeah! :)


Enjoyed the story and the ‘airport petri dish’! Goes to show you though, further steepings can turn up wonders that you had no idea were contained in our delightful friend ‘tea’!


True dat, Bonnie. Thanks for the kind words! =)


Since I live in San Francisco, I will need to try this one again soon!


Namaste Nik – man this looks like an interesting blend. I’ll be honest, I’ve never had rooibos so this might be a fun one to try.

My girlfriend is north Indian, and we make our chai with a healthy amount of fresh ginger so I was excited to hear about the ginger punch.

Good review!


Amy, you live in San Francisco, too? Now I’m jealous of both you and Claire. I love the city, but have only been there for conferences, which means I’ve never had enough time to just hang out and explore and enjoy it! Ah well, one day… =)

Namaste, Jason! In my limited experience, the rooibos flavour is very present in most rooibos blends. If you don’t like that flavour, it could ruin the experience for you. For a very inexpensive taste test, I’d look for Numi’s bushmen’s brew in your local supermarket (http://steepster.com/teas/numi-organic-tea/2458-bushmens-brew-honeybush). They’re tea bags, and it’s just plain old honeybush, which has a flavour very similar to rooibos’s (http://tinroofteas.com/news/rooibos-the-red-powerhouse/). If you see a plain rooibos on the shelf, you can grab that, instead. That way, you can see if you like the base flavour before trying a (pretty costly!) blend, and if you don’t, you’re just out a few bucks. If you do, and since you like chai masala, it’s a good bet you’d enjoy this blend. Thanks, glad you enjoyed the tasting note. =)


I do have to say that Samovar is pretty awesome! I’ve been to the one by MOMA and while it was pricey, both the tea and the food were great.


Claire, I’ve frequented the Yerba Buena location by Moscone and love it. The service has deteriorated a bit over the years, but the tea and food remain lovely. I introduced many fellow conference attendees to loose tea and the brand, there, and in the process created lots of lovely memories.

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187 tasting notes

Warm spice cake in a mug. That’s sort of how Ocean of Wisdom tastes.

So I’ve been pretty sick all day, and sick the entire week, just kind of miserably getting through the week. I’ve been alternating between drinking chamomile and peppermint, trying to get my stomach in order, and my cramps in check. It’s been working, for the most part.

But tonight, after a particularly awful day, I need something a bit more special to wind down with. Let me tell you, this is hitting the spot. I steeped it a bit longer this time, using a whole teaspoon, and the smell coming from my cup is more heavily of cloves than anything else. This is probably because there was a whole clove mixed into my teaspoon. Not a bad thing, but as I’ve said previously, cloves are just not my best friend.

The taste though… it’s still light, but it’s got more of an earthy depth to it. The rooibos tastes like the way it must smell in a forest after it rains. Warm, wet wood. The cinnamon and ginger are highlights here, with the clove playing backup. The licorice rounds things out with a haunting sweetness after every sip.

There’s just something so pleasing and mellow about this cup. I only wish that every herbal blend had the complexity and warmth that Ocean of Wisdom does. A perfect cozy-up-and-snuggle-and-get-ready-for-sleeptime concoction!

And Steepster, I miss you!

Boiling 6 min, 30 sec
mattscinto Just ordered a sample of this stuff. I’m excited to try !

Feel better and what a pretty tasting note! :D


Awww, poor teaplz! I hope you feel better soon, hon!


Feel better! I read cramps and I thought to myself, hmmmm this is your third post about cramps. I’ve been on Steepster for three months now! Ahhhhh! Haha, your cramps tell me how long I’ve been on Steepster =P


May your cramps be gone soon. I’m glad the tea helped a bit, and we miss you too!


Thanks guys, and I seriously miss my tea.

mattscinto, if you like the ingredient list, I’m sure you’ll like it. It’s a very grown-up sort of tasting tea. Actually, most of Samovar has that grown-up taste.

Ricky, I’m glad you can track your time on Steepster by my cycles, hahaha! :P

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911 tasting notes

I wanted something more to drink tonight but it is pretty late so it needed to be decaf. Fortunately, I’ve managed to amass quite a collection of herbal samples! This is my last of this one and while I’m pretty sure I won’t reorder, I have really enjoyed a full-on rooibos/honeybush base that doesn’t taste sour or off or just plain ole nasty. I don’t know if that speaks to the quality of rooibos that Samovar uses or their stellar blending ability (though perhaps both).

This is definitely woody but there is some nice spice and warmth to this that keeps it from being a flat, boring wood taste. Now that I’ve finally gotten used to the fact that this is rooibos but not evil, I seem to give different spices each time I take a sip. Ginger, cinnamon and cloves all pop up at the front of sips and I’m getting something almost citrusy at the end.

I don’t think I’ll ever be a huge fan of anything with this much rooibos but then I think it’s pretty surprising that I like this one as much as I do.

205 °F / 96 °C 6 min, 0 sec

I’m going to chalk this one up as a win.


You totally should! The more I have it, the more I like it. It took me a bit to get past the rooibos taste. Well, not get past it but stop noticing it so much because I was expecting it to be evil so each sip I was almost bracing myself for sour and when it wasn’t all my brain could think was “WOW! Non-sour rooibos.” After a couple of cups I think my brain is finally not having to go through that so I can pay more attention to the other stuff going on in the tea and it’s really quite lovely. I could totally see myself ordering some of this at a later date when I felt the need to increase my nighttime-friendly teas. Which mean the rating probably should go up a bit!

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2031 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 71 of the year 2014. A sample. Wow, my first sipdown of the day? I’m obviously losing my momentum…

But finally a Samovar herbal that is still available to buy! Whew.

I was reading about this being the equivalent of their chai but without caffeine, which got me wondering about how to prepare it. Samovar recommends their chai be prepared using a stovetop method on the sample packet (I still have a chai sample, too), but the directions on the sample packet for this don’t make that recommendation. I’ll steep as directed, since I’ve had excellent results for the most part when I follow Samovar’s instructions exactly.

(I feel slightly intimidated by this blend, which was made for the Dalai Lama…)

The sample didn’t have much of a smell in the packet, just a sort of generic spiciness. This, along with the licorice-as-ingredient, along with the last tisane experience, Nocturnal Bliss, had me slightly worried as I waited for the steeping to take its course. I wasn’t getting a lot of aroma from the steeped tisane either.

But why, oh why did I doubt the blending power of the Samovar? The flavor pulls all the loose ends together so nicely. I know the clove is there, but it doesn’t push the other flavors out of the cup as it can sometimes do. I know the cinnamon is there, but it isn’t heavy, or woody, or powdery. I know the ginger is there, but it isn’t bitter or pungent. I know the licorice is there, but it doesn’t attack me.

I don’t know so much that either the rooibos or honeybush are there, though I can definitely pick them out if I try. There’s a hint of something vanilla-like coming through from the rooibos and honey-like from the honeybush, and I can even get to something woody/reedy if I try hard enough, but I really do have to try pretty hard.

Each of the flavors can be identified, but each melds into the others to create something completely different that isn’t any of them separately and is more then all of them together. It’s as though each ingredient adds depth to the flavor.

If I’m honest with myself, I like the Berry Rooibos and the Orange Ginger slightly better, mostly because I find berry an easier flavor to consume late at night than a chai-like combination, and because the Orange Ginger did some rather marvelous voodoo on my stomach and by extension my entire nervous system. Given this is a non-caffeinated blend, I’d be drinking this at night.

But this has one thing those don’t have. It’s available. If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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260 tasting notes

I realized that I haven’t logged this in a while, though I drink it pretty often, so here we are.

This has remained one of my favorite teas to go to sleep with for months. I find the combination of spices to be soothing and calming, so it does a pretty good job of helping my brain wind down when it’s time to go to bed. [And trust me, that’s really not an easy job.]

The rooibos flavor is definitely prevalent, so all you rooibos haters out might not be fans of this. The one thing that I can say for it is that this is one of the few rooibos teas I’ve had where the accompanying flavors actually work with the rooibos instead of just…being there [or in some cases working against it], so I don’t know. I don’t want to speak for other people’s tastes.

I’m nearly out of it, so it’s a good thing I stuck it in this last order at the last second. It’s also warming my insides a bit, which is a good thing because it is mother effing cold here right now. I mean, easily below freezing and I don’t even want to know what it’s like with the wind chill factored in. Rooibos is supposed to be good for that warming quality, and it’s working for me, so I’m just going to finish this cup off and then, you know, freeze to death. Farewell cruel world.

I’m being dramatique [and a wee bit pathetique], but it really is helping. All right. Night, Steepsterites.

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

Sounds like everything I avoid bundled in a nice little package =(

Love rooibos, never tried honeybush. Can tolerate ginger and spices, but licorice? Does that play a factor?


I really don’t know how you can make rooibos sound good to me, but you do.


@Ricky As someone who’s not a huge fan of licorice [at least in its black entities] I don’t mind/really even notice it. That said, you might be more sensitive to it than I.

@Auggy Hehe, it’s a gift.


How did I miss this? Hahaha! You definitely make this sound delicious and awesome an interesting. Can’t wait to try this now (even though the licorice is in there, and I’m sort of scared of it, and cloves definitely aren’t my favorite thing on the planet).

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4843 tasting notes

Wow! I really like this rooibos blend! One of the best rooibos chai blends that I’ve tasted in a long time. Very comforting and warming.

I am imagining that it would be very good as a latte, but to be honest, I am so enjoying it without the milk or cream that I don’t see the need to try it that way. Everything comes together very well. I noticed one of the tasting notes on this tisane said that it tasted like spice cake, and I can really see that comparison. The nutty flavor of the rooibos ties in well with the spice cake comparison, too.

This is sweet, warm, and yummy!

Boiling 8 min or more

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612 tasting notes

So it’s chai weather, but I only ever want chai at night when it’s too late for Assams. This seemed to get ok reviews so I thought I’d try it. Steepster is the best because someone on the boards (I’m sorry I don’t remember who, ack!) mentioned their “lazy chai” using this: http://www.splendidtable.org/recipes/bill-waddingtons-real-chai

and I just had to try it because while it might not be the greatest thing if it was halfway decent it would solve the eternal dilemma of wanting chai late at night when the kitchen’s all cleaned up and the last thing in the universe I feel like doing is heating milk in a pan. Just stick spices you like in condensed milk, pop in the fridge, and ta da, instant chai milk all week, just add to hot tea to taste. Yay! So. I put a bit of that stuff (I add anise because I love the stuff) in with this, and now I am a satisfied, lazy gal. You can definitely still smell and slightly taste the rooibos, but given how little effort this required I can’t complain.

Also got fantastic, uplifting news this afternoon about the cat. Someone got a hold of her original owner finally—not the boyfriend but the woman getting her PhD in Ohio—and she was stunned and horrified, is coming back around Thanksgiving and making plans to resolve things. Meanwhile the neighbors who told me this also said she gave them the cat’s vet info and they’re going to take her in sometime this week. So, fingers crossed, there IS a happy ending to this whole thing. I am so, so relieved. It’d been bothering me trying to figure out what the hell to do in December when we go out of town twice and it might be bitterly cold again, and that in turn reminded me while our set-up is working fine now it’s not tenable forever. So glad it looks like things are going to be ok. Slightly bittersweet—getting to know her this week has been funny; she’s much smarter than our two cats and also hella bossy and feisty on the edge of mean (tough, you know, to survive). Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea (har) but I stupidly relate (long backstory involving my origins, feeling abandoned and trying to be tough and always feeling alone, all that). I also learned today her name is Tina. I’ve been referring to her as “OK” (orange kitty, and jokingly like, “she’s just ok”). I’m glad this is happening now before I get too stupidly attached. Crossing my fingers she can be my fond memory, a little random connection in a strange world of ups and downs.

205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more

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328 tasting notes

This is wonderful. No milk is needed for this herbal blend. Somehow, these flavors meld together into a mellow version of chai. Soothing drink at night. Calm and contemplative so it is easy to envision this blend being inspired by the Dalai Lama…As my first sampling of a Samovar tea, I am quite impressed…


I have not yet tried teas from Samovar, but based on what I’ve read here, I am definitely going to have to!

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38 tasting notes

I’m drinking a pot of this before bed. It’s a really nicely balanced rooibus.

I’m trying to be sensible about caffeine but I added 1/2 tsp of breakfast blend. It’s good! I’m working on the theory that if I can maintain a constant level of caffeination I’ll sleep better. When I was growing up I drank tea all the time, and I slept just fine. Even the dog drank tea. Ha, I’d forgotten that. Maybe I’ve just got out of practice. This is a delicious way to maintain a low level caffeine infusion.

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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3 tasting notes

Although i’ve tried a LOT of teas, i’m still very much a newbie at this. i can vary the temp a bit, but i don’t have a newfangled machine to do it for me..not yet, anyway. i’ve gotten way from bags and now use real loose tea. I can thank my buddy, Nik, for that. Also, thanks to him giving me one of the best gifts ever with Steepster’s Tea of the Month club, I have greatly expanded my knowledge of teas, and, hopefully my palate as well.

I’ve found that most folks tend to fuss about cinnamon. Like fuss and cuss. Now, thankfully, I’m in the minority there. i LOVE cinnamon. Bring it on! The more, the merrier, for the most part. Ginger, on the other hand, is slightly opposite…not so much because i don’t like the flavor, because i do. Mostly, it’s because it tends to initiate a migraine, which doesn’t make me very happy. However, and very thankfully, I have no neurological issues with this tea. This one is so good that I think I would just have to accept the migraine and take medication. Yep, it’s THAT good.

Its goodness shouldn’t be a great surprise. I mean, honestly, it was custom blended for His Holiness The Dalai Lama. To me, that just says, “Wow”. It also says the dude knows good tea ;) Seriously, though, I first had this tea just after I’d started drinking loose teas, when I was in San Francisco for Macworld. A group of us went to Samovar’s for tea, and I was hooked after my first sip. I simply could not get enough. I kept discovering something new with each successive sip, with just layer upon layer expressing itself. Maybe it was just the first time I’d had a truly excellent cup of tea.

Regarding the tea itself, it has almost a subdued heat to it that builds to a strong finish, almost the way Mexican food has a way to sneak up on you before you realize what has happened. It is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, so it’s actually really good for you. This rooibos blend contains cinnamon, cloves, ginger, licorice root, and black pepper. Normally, I run from licorice, because I don’t typically like it, not even a hint; but (you knew there was a but, right?) I don’t really taste it here, which is a good thing, because I would hate to run from this tea. These tea leaves are a dark reddish brown that leaves you with a gorgeous clear red tea after steeping that just beckons you to, “Come. Drink.”

There are many levels to this one. Just when you think you’re done, another layer pops to the surface—or does it come up kicking and screaming and gasping for air—the way I was when I made it a bit strong, it took my breath away and my throat burned long after the last drop.

Still, this one sets the bar against which all others are judged. This is the closest to the perfect cup of tea that I have had. I can’t imagine anything else even coming close to this one, but it will be fun trying to find a successor. Let the games begin.

195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 30 sec

[Edit] I actually wrote this about 2 years ago, but I’m just getting around to posting it.

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