384 Tasting Notes

drank Ambrosia by American Tea Room
384 tasting notes

Login or sign up to leave a comment.


sometimes in the hum drum of everyday life it can be easy to forget about the potential for people to surprise you. originally i had planned a somewhat scathing commentary on american tea rooms customer service while writing a favourable review of this tea… but plans have changed.

the whole reason i went to american tea room online to snoop was because of terri harp lady’s comments on a blend called brioche. i lived in france, i am courting an obsessive pursuance of baked goods flavoured teas these days (all i need now is to find a lychee danish tea!!!!!), brioche…. ah brioche. when my order arrived i was missing two of my samples: one their fault, the other mine. you guessed it: i forgot to order the brioche.

well, this being the electronic age and an era of telephones, cell phones and satellite phones i figured the problem was fairly easily remedied. or not? the man on the other end of the phone was non plussed at my call. i was interrupting him. he sounded like the stereotypical attitude affiliated with beverly hills and as though a lifetime of looking down his nose had compromised his adenoids. or maybe someone was actually holding his nose up in the air, pinching very hard…

he apologized for the error.
‘no worries, it happens,’ i replied. come on, we’re all human, i’ve worked in customer service for years… no one MEANS for this stuff to happen.

you know when someone apologizes, but at the same time it is absolutely transparent that they aren’t sincere? yeah, this was what i was hearing….

i did not have the heart to inquire about paying for the brioche sample and having it shipped up with the one they forgot. the man was annoying me…. i don’t annoy easily. every now and again we all encounter people we know for damn sure we wouldn’t look for at a party and he was one of them.

i opened my bag of formosa plum… was that pepper i smelled? pepper and plum? interesting. i wouldn’t have paired the two… the smell of the steep made me think of a plum jam. no, not that sweet…. a plum chutney maybe? with a heavy undertone on the tea side. my missing samples poked at me.

i’d dealt with mr. better-than-you once, i was sure i could handle him again if necessary. to my delight a woman picked up this time. she sounded busy, but not snobby. if i had to guess i would say a manager/owner. she apologized again and i inquired about whether it would be possible to pay for the sample i’d missed and could they include it in the shipment? (seriously, well balanced pepper and plum? i wanted to see what they did with the brioche!).

she seemed surprised. and said ‘certainly, which one did you want to pay for?’ i told her and she replied ’don’t worry about it… well throw it in for free.’

i protested ‘you don’t have to do that!’
‘no worries, you can make it up in your future orders with us…’ (definitely a manager, lol)

after call number one i never would have given them my money again. but call number two goes to show how good customer service (one might even call it strategic in this case, heh heh heh) can pull a situation out of the fire for your business.

THE TEA: pepper first, tempered by the sweetness of plum. spices, but in the background and lightly complimentary, not a palate easily broken down.as it cools it am getting more plum than pepper. the tea itself has no caffeine stick, is robust but smooth.

the dry blend is a confetti of shapes, sizes and colours varying from light to dark brown, what look like berries to curls of fruit.

this was very nice! not a plum pudding, not a summer plum, makes me think of wine, the smell of asian cooking in the kitchen with a million recipes on the go…. there’s a light smell of something charred, but not smoke and you don’t taste charring.

this is a complicated tea, but not unpleasantly so. i would not classify it as any part of a dessert tea. asian cooking, a fruit salsa, a plum chutney… all these could be connected.

and…. they will get my business again, especially demonstrating this skill level, but also because of banana two, not banana one.

190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 30 sec

Yay for you! I’m planning a tea order with American Tea Room soon. Should I need customer service I’ll be sure to ask for banana two. :)

Terri HarpLady

It will be interesting to see what you think of Brioche, James.
BTW, I really enjoyed your sister’s song, & voice! Thanks for the link! :D


i’ll let her know. i am looking forward to brioche! especially after all the nonsense.

American Tea Room

We are so sorry that you had a less than stellar telephonic experience – but we are most happy that it was rectified. Again accept our apologies if you felt you were treated in any way that was less than perfect.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

drank Almond Biscotti by Teaopia
384 tasting notes

well, my insurrectionist tendencies (ie: plying samples of verdant and butiki on the staff at teavana… hee hee hee) yielded me a very surprising result: one of the women with whom i was sharing brought in A SHOPPING BAG of tea in thanks!!! previous to teavana she had worked at teaopia and had samples from there as well.

i have samples from tiny little tea shops in china town, teavana, teaopia…. although i may now have concerns about the samples from teaopia. apparently that store shut down half way through 2012? and while this tea smells persuasive, i am not persuaded.

what to do when assessing a tea under exceptional circumstances? well, for me i will comment honestly but will refrain from assigning a numerical value…the tea was a lovely thought, but i’m wondering if it is stale.

i love almond, i love the taste of baking in tea! alas, i do not love this tea. i saw the chocolate and caramel bits (reminds me of david’s teas), the slices of almond, the small black texture of the tea, however very little of what i see i can also taste. a lovely idea, and i’m not sure if it’s as a result of being stale, but for all my steeping and my awesome stainless steel basket technique…. i’m really getting nothing.

in order to lick my wounded tea persona with an appropriate level of stylishness i am going to toss out the rest of this mess and try my american tea room ‘formosa plum’. (very well to do… apparently they’re out of beverly hills, fancy fancy!)

195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec

I miss Teaopia – I loved Teaopia. There were a few Teaopia blends available from Teavana until Starbucks took over earlier this year (?). Creamy Nut Oolong is dearly missed in my world…..
If memory serves me correctly Almond Biscotti was a lot like Davids Forever Nuts.


oh, then that explains it…. i did not like forever nuts. add to that the stale factor…. it did not with a happy fate in my cup. (ie: it didn’t stay there for long!)

Login or sign up to leave a comment.


this was a guerilla delivery from the brilliant scribbles. ‘why guerilla?’ you say? ’isn’t that a large primate?’ well, change a letter and delete a letter and yes, but no, i do not refer to the excellent scribbles as an immensely broad shouldered jungle dweller… but refer instead to her uncanny ability combining timing and delivery. NO, i am no being redundant with ‘timing’ and ‘delivery’…. i mean instead that the arrival of her package today was excellent and a lovely surprise and played an unerring trump card, for as i struggled and grouched at a second failed steep of my ‘traditional plum pudding’ she provided me with a well behaved substitute!

this was my first della terra tea, and very nice it was. the smell of warm plums wafted towards me when i opened the baggie… ripe, but not over ripe (big difference). cinnamon, clove, ginger, cardamom? nicely smooth, an acceptable amount of acid given we are dealing with a fruit that contains a fair amount of acid. nicely balanced. tolerates cream without creating feta. a nice resolution to my steeping problem!

thank you for my lovely surprise!

195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec
Terri HarpLady

James, you’re so much fun!

Terri HarpLady

& once again you’re the star of the steepster dashboard freezeup! Congratulations!


huh? okay, must admit i’m lost. my dashboard has been frozen since last night too…. how am i the star?? (i am bewildered, lol)

Aimee Popovacki

i’m just about to try this one…. courtesy of scribbles ha ha

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

hmm. so two steeps so far. the first one i made a hash of (operator error) because i had green onions with dinner and failed to anticipate that the delicate nature of the tea afterwards would resonate as orange hued scallions. with milk. ew. i brushed, i gargled, i waited and tried again… but i’m still not managing to recreate the smell from the dry blend into a liquid equivalent.

i will suspend numerical evaluation until i can actually accomplish a detectable result. i’m getting a hint of orange and a hint of cinnamon, but nothing remotely strong enough to be considered a christmas pudding. second time round i even over leafed, over steeped and used less water! let me know if you have any suggestions…

UPDATE: okay, three strikes and i’m out. i have been having a bad tea day and even with stacy’s guidance i am not convincing this tea to do what it’s supposed to. it doesn’t like me. obviously. however i have a very keen tea buddy who wants to take a shot at it. SCRIBBLES….YOU’RE UP!

195 °F / 90 °C 6 min, 30 sec

I have been looking at this one…am looking forward to your future reviews, cos I love Christmas pudd.


alas, so do i…. but either it’s failing me or i it. maybe i should send it your way. maybe you have the magic touch.

Butiki Teas

Hi James, just wanted to mention that a lower temperature may be helpful. This oolong is particularly finicky and can be a bit astringent at higher temperatures. Maybe that will help? The tea might be overpowering the flavoring at the higher temp?


thank you! i will try this tomorrow first thing! thank you for the recommendation… i think i’ve tried everything except that, lol. either way i really need to share some with my brilliant guerilla tea delivery buddy scribbles…


I appreciate it :)


it will go on monday, my dear. (along with a friend) }=0D

Login or sign up to leave a comment.


For the most part I consider myself a perennial optimist, and I make that statement less out of ego and more out of intent: there’s always a silver lining, even if the silver lining is having learned something so you don’t do whatever it is again. However, we all have our moments and right now is one of mine.

The bonus though is this— in telling you that my day is grim on this website (while brewing tea) it means that it’s not just a standard pity party, it becomes a pity TEA party! My tea is steeped and prepped in the most comforting manner that I know (part of a Chinese sugar cake and cream) and I am sufficiently bolstered to tell you why I am underwhelmed by today.

I fell at work halfway through April. We thought it was a scaffoid fracture (the bone that allows you to have an opposable thumb) but instead it is nerve damage stemming from the rotator cuff. I also have a nervous system disease. I have been casted or splinted since April 13th. Not the end of the world, but at least with a fracture you have an idea of when you’ll be getting out the constrictions! (I have no clue and neither does anybody else). The important part of my right hand has very little strength or is frozen. The whole thing has been a gong show. (insertion of strong opinion at this point): ANYBODY WHO TELLS YOU THAT WCB IS YOUR FRIEND HAS NEVER DEALT WITH THEM.

My employer made 48 BILLION dollars profit in Canada alone last year. I fell over aging SAFETY equipment. An ergonomic mat that was reported to management more times than I can count. Hell, a mat that TRIPPED management more times than I can count. Right off the bat they suggested it was my fault because of my disease… uh, no. The more I spoke with my managers the more it sounded like I was going to lose my job… not a sad thing in terms of job fantasticness, but not good in terms of financial stability for my family. I expressed my concern. Verbatim my manager replied ‘you don’t lose your job over something like this, you just don’t get any hours.’ (I should explain that for the sake of reader relief I am keeping things short…. Sad, really, that this is the short version.) and I have been on WCB ever since.

I get a fraction of my pay (which wasn’t much to begin with), but I think it’s the endless harassment that I find so exhausting. So I grabbed my brain, did some soul searching and signed up to go to school in September. In the meantime everyday is filled with physio, doctor’s appointments, nagging from WBC ‘are you better yet, because we don’t want to pay you’. Almost 3 months of this because a conglomerate employer doesn’t like to protect it’s employees. What prompted this rant you may be asking yourself. This isn’t new… why today? Because they have me going in for an MRI. Through a private firm. It’s one of 2. I do these routinely at the hospital…. Once, twice a year. No big deal. The only other time I’ve had one through a private company the tech screamed at me the whole time and actually listed her insults in her report!

I think it just comes down to: you can only push someone so far before you get a negative result. WCB doesn’t let up, the appointments don’t let up and I have had enough. I managed to botch my ‘with open eyes’ brew this morning by underleafing, when my American teas order arrived today I discovered that my samples arrived, but the one tea I really wanted ‘brioche’ had not (operator error). I resent it when outside stress impacts my tea!

I needed tea. I needed something comforting. There are so many teas I love, what to choose. Well, I suppose I was hoping for a new perspective on the day so I wagered a gamble on a tea I’ve never had before… who did I choose? In honour of the laughter I gained from my sample yesterday I chose ‘pancake breakfast’ by 52teas. And it worked. I won’t say the day is great, or relaxing, or that I have any faith in this imaging procedure, but this tea helped ME.

I love breakfast for dinner, I love pancakes. Frequently with too much butter and real maple syrup. The blend gave me buttery, syrup, the really light cake flavour. All the components were there, plus a caffeine settle down. The Chinese sugar added some extra richness, the cream is my standard….. thanks for reading my rant. We all have days where we are…. Other. This tea gave me comfort, familiarity with a favourite food and a moment away from all the nonsense. Thank you 52teas… and thank you CHAroma for sending me the sample.

I’m sure I’ll be back to myself once the MRI is over. Grrrr.

195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 30 sec

My sympathies and best wishes in overcoming your health challenges and dealing with WCB. I know it can be a nightmare especially when your existing workplace does not have the culture or resources in place to


thank god i am set up for school with my loan in place for september 1st. i’ll have the freedom to walk away and come out of it all with so many more options!


part two…. hit the finger pad at the wrong place;). …especially when your workplace does not have the culture or resources in place to help you replace your income, rehabilitate you, or provide alternative employment. I was lucky enough to work for years for a company that treated us as family and provided us with many insurances and alternative placements if need be. Even though the company closed its doors a few years ago many of us are still close. Comparing it to the workplace of my stepfather where the work environment was antagonistic, safety measures were often circumvented in replace of economy and where the majority of the workers referred to the company as " The Place" I know I was blessed. Hopefully you receive good news as a result of this process, and on the flip side try to think of the positive new adventures heading your way. Although I am easily a pessimist in North America, I try at times to capture the sense of optimism I gained when I was in India. The favourite saying of my friends there is “This is India, anything’s possible” reflecting on that often helps me get through anything.


When I had carpal tunnel in one hand and nerve issues with the other, I got granted compensation for one, but not the other, even though a specialist said most likely work related for the other nerve issues. Not fun to deal with…turned into a really big unnecessary problem.


thank you, both of you. i am particularly good at being out of control of myself. i know it will all be fine… just don’t know how yet. i cannot wait until september! …. this is india, anything is possible…. i’ve not heard that one. excellent. thank you yyz! i will find a way to apply it here. and if they’re rude at the mri today, i have a solution: i walk out. period.


*NOT particularly good. yup, it’s that kind of day.


Oh, I wish you the best. Fingers crossed the techs you deal with today are polite and have sunny dispositions. :)


she was quite great, actually. i don’t do well with magnetics + vibrations, it sets off body spasms, but we worked really well together. 1 of 2 down!


After hearing all this I’m just that much more excited for you going back to school. I can’t believe how much everyone is making you jump through hoops when you’re clearly not scamming them and the hazard was the company’s fault. I’m so sorry.

But, on to new adventures! With tea as your companion!

Short Sorceress

I’m sorry to hear about all of your troubles. I broke my ankle in an odd place in February and the doctor recently decided that my bone just isn’t going to heal. Since then it has been non stop visits to the doctor, MRIs, XRays, and Physical Therapy to regain my complete range of motion. Not to mention the battles with the insurance companies to get everything paid for. I understand completely the amount of stress this places a person under (I have hard to control epilepsy to top everything off). I can only imagine the added stress you’re facing since this happened at work.

I wish you luck with your situation as well as luck in your studies. Going back to school can be difficult, but definitely worth all the hard work.

Let me know if surprise box of samples might cheer you up :) I know we just discussed having similar tastes and I would be happy to send you a surprise.


I work in a neurology office as a secretary and I get to hear from a lot of our patient who like you are in the midst of disability claims and insurance claims. Also my Dad just went through an injury at work and was out for quite a while. It’s always stressful, but in most cases it does work out for he best! Take care of yourself, do what you have to do, and just try to keep up with all the stupid paperwork. Everything will work out even if it’s stressful now. And since your going back to school, this may even work out better than if you had stayed injury-free and locked in your job. You got a great opportunity! :-)


thank you friends… all your kind words remind me of how fortunate i am to have found this community where we can all talk about tea, and techniques but also have the odd bad day.

i’m probably extra sensitive because i do this so often regarding the disease. it is ridiculous that an entirely preventable accident nailed someone with a nervous system disease.

however, it’s another day and i am much more myself. i’m goooooing back to schooool, i’m gooooing back to schoooool. =0)


Wow, I’m so sorry to hear about all this. But I echo everyone else’s comments and pray that your recovery goes smoothly. Congrats on going back to school! What will you study?


it’s all planned: occupational psychology! with a very specific study in motivation.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.


indeed! today has been a day of tea arrivals… a very exciting swap box from CHAroma, my butiki order and apparently i was zoned because i missed a delivery from american tea room! do i really need to spell out how smashed my good intentions, budgeting and good intentions are? (did i mention my good intentions?) well, i suppose we’re none of us perfect… and under duress to provide an excuse it would be credible that i am celebrating my student loan and september attendance to school…? okay,excuses excuses. i’m just badly behaved. i should sit and reflect over improving that failing while drinking tea.

back to the tea at hand! (in hand?) very strawberry when dry… lovely little balls of fresh smelling strawberry goodness that unfurl when i empty my kettle over them. i have a distracted moth moment and i dream up a potential art project comprised of a catamaran made from oolong, getting underway via the power of hot water… quick head shake…

i smell no fake flavours. i smell none of the oolongs i’ve had previously: spring, roasted, standard black. this is new. it reminds me of ice wine, with an almost winter, frosted grape scent/taste peeking out from behind the strawberry. very light, very fresh…. no grass, no smoke, no grainyness. the tea itself really does remind me of grape leaves (not just the fruit)… like the ones you find wrapped around rice in dolmathakia only sweeter…

very nice.

180 °F / 82 °C 5 min, 0 sec

Login or sign up to leave a comment.



Time For A ReWrite!

A good friend of mine on here kindly asked me to do the Steepster world a favour and list my allergies front and center (fair enough, lol):

-COFFEE … rare, nasty, not even a bit funny if i’m exposed. (call me original)

-ROOIBOOS … is a new appearance. under certain circumstances i’m okay with it (ie if it’s GREEN and paired with mate) but because i have an auto immune disease i try not to poke at things.

*NOT an allergy, but an abnormality that drives my tea buddies bananas, i AM INCAPABLE OF TASTING CARAMEL AND TOFFEE. so i thought i’d list it at the top too. it’s very annoying. they smell great!!?

Hi! I’m James!

I’m a student: double major of human geography and psychology with the intention of chasing a double doctorate. (reading that over it occurs to me again that i must be crazy).

i’m a live and let live sort. i look and see alot of silver linings. my discovery of tea has only served to further that viewpoint. for me tea is art and nuance, watercolours and bold brushstrokes….

swaps are grand things! the element of surprise in a tea swap completely trumps forrest gump’s chocolate box life metaphor, lol.

favourites: french teas dammann freres, mariage freres and nina’s paris especially.

i have recently discovered a german tea company that has romanced me: tea gschwendner (sp?)

mandala teas is brilliant and a company i count on.

justea and tealet are companies i study because of both their exceptional products and and business models, as well as their work with farmers who are TOO POOR for fair trade certification. this is highly relevant to my studies.

90-100 i need more
80-90 i might need more, or it might be a respect vote
below 75? it was likely an oops buy. my evolution into french teas has vastly focused what i like!!

however, i’m always open to trying things.

dislikes so far: guayasa, darjeeling, most peach teas.


Victoria, BC

Following These People

Moderator Tools

Mark as Spammer