1180 Tasting Notes

drank Organic Darjeeling by Tazo
1180 tasting notes

It seemed like such a darjeeling day that I brewed up an old filterbag of Tazo Organic Darjeeling, having forgotten that I already wrote a tasting note for this one four months ago. So this is a rupture of my steady posting of 67 new tea notes in a row! Mistakes were made. I’ll pick up the pieces and move forward after this review.

My goal: to review 100 new teas before permitting myself consciously to brew any of the old standbys. Unfortunately, the intended effect of the Blazing New Rating scheme has been entirely undermined by the fact that I keep buying new teas. Perhaps my next challenge should be a true sipdown suite, with a moratium on new teas until my cupboard has been somewhat cleaned (not completely, of course!).

Nothing new to report on this old organic darjeeling, really. Still seems like a pretty average filterbag darjeeling to me. Still a bit bitter, even with a short steep. The liquor is dark orange amber, and the grassiness really stands out—which could be a virtue or a vice, depending upon one’s feelings about chewing cud.

This grocery store darjeeling makes no pretense to FTGFOP, nor does it name any illustrious names such as Margaret, nor aspirations such as Hope. The Himalayans are mentioned—again, probably for those ignorant of the fact that Darjeeling is a region of the world. We really have no idea which estate(s) the contents of the attractive bluish-teal envelope came from, but it’s pretty clear that it was swept off the floor .

It’s okay, that’s the most I can muster.

Flavors: Dry Grass

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 9 OZ / 266 ML

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Here’s a really good example of what I was just talking about in my tasting note on Norbu Margaret’s Hope FTGFOP Autumn Flush Darjeeling (http://steepster.com/Shera%20Pop/posts/248914).

Palais des Thés sachets in the shiny silver foil envelope offer zero information beyond the fact that this darjeeling came from Margaret’s Hope estate. It’s aimed for people who don’t even know where Margaret’s Hope estate is, as revealed by the text:

A superb tea from the high Himalayan plateaux.

Of course that gives no clue as to ftgfop1, first, second, or autumn flush. That means that the company is free to throw n’importe quoi together in the sachet and call it a day.

All of that said, this sachet darjeeling tastes pretty good. I used the same steeping parameters and the resultant amber liquor is definitely grassier and a bit rougher than the Norbu. Still, this is certainly a good example of the general category of darjeeling for people who are working their way through the sampler box.

(Blazing New Rating #67)

Flavors: Grass

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 15 sec 2 g 9 OZ / 266 ML

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This darjeeling from Norbu is delicious. I bought a big bag of it on sale under the assumption that, though it came from the autumn flush of 2012, it would still be much better than most darjeelings I’ve ever tried. And I was right! Yes, it’s from the autumn flush of 2012, but the vast majority of darjeelings offer no information whatsoever about the flush, so I figured that they are probably post-autumn swept from the floor more than two years ago.

The liquor is amber, and the flavor both smooth and grassy. I used 4 grams in 17 ounces of just-boiled water and steeped for about 3 minutes. No bitterness whatsoever. I’m sure that I’ll drink this entire bag, even though it contains more than half a pound!

Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe

I learned about the ftgfop nomenclature from Upton Tea Imports, by the way, where I first was introduced to the levels and levels of tea connoisseurship in the world way beyond crude categories such as “darjeeling” or even “Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling!” At one point, I was very into darjeelings but then I moved on to greens. Perhaps it’s time to spend some more time with this fine category of tea once again!

(Blazing New Rating #66)

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 4 g 17 OZ / 502 ML

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This is my very first entry under the Random Steepings category. I came up with this idea while lamenting the lack of chocolate in my glass of Chai Diaries Chocolate Chai. Here’s the combination:

1 sachet Chai Diaries Chocolate Chai + 1 sachet Harney & Sons Valentine’s Blend

The result is okay. I noticed the chocolate chips in the Chai Diaries sachet this time, which I did not take note of last time. Now I am wondering whether the reason why I did not taste chocolate was that the sachet did not contain any chips? It was a good glass of chai, but not at all chocolatey.

This time, with a sachet of H&S Valentine’s Blend, the brew is predictably more chocolatey. It should be twice as strong teawise, but it does not really seem to be—though I may pay later (at 3am) for drinking a double dose of caffeine at 6pm!

I also see that there is one of those foody oil slicks (à la Teavana) along the surface of the liquor. The chocolate chips, by the way, were completely whitened, having been exposed to air. They looked old, and I am not sure that they are helping much here. In fact, they may be hurting.

I’ll stick to drinking Valentine’s Blend on its own in the future. Or maybe I’ll try it combined with Kusmi Spicy Chocolate…

(Blazing New Rating #65)

Flavors: Chocolate, Spicy

Boiling 5 min, 45 sec 4 g 10 OZ / 295 ML

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drank Chocolate Chai by Chai Diaries
1180 tasting notes

For some reason, I am not tasting any chocolate in Chai Diaries Chocolate Chai. This is a spicy chai, and I’d have guessed that there’s more than just cardamom and ginger involved on the spice front—maybe clove and pepper, too? But what I do not detect at all is the chocolate, which is said to be present in two forms: chocolate chips and chocolate flavoring.

The black tea base is pretty good. In fact, I drank this chai with only a bit of half and half, though this is the one type of blend which I generally drink sweetened. Good to know that there’s a spicy chai out there that I can imbibe without adding a huge dollop of sweetened condensed milk!

I might try a custom-blend combination of one sachet of Harney & Sons Valentine’s Blend (a chocolate-flavored black tea) with one sachet of Chocolate Chai. Maybe that will amp up the chocolate to the point of being detectable by me… It could be that the ginger and cardamom are just overwhelming the chocolate here. I may also be partly at fault, since I was a eating a brownie before drinking this tea. Seemed like a good idea at the time…

(Blazing New Rating #64)

Flavors: Spices

Boiling 5 min, 45 sec 2 g 10 OZ / 295 ML

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drank Je t'aime by Nina's Paris
1180 tasting notes

I had forgotten why I requested a sample of Je t’aime—until the scent began to waft off the pot, and I was reminded of Florence, Vanilla Comoro, and some of the other delicious Harney & Sons flavored blacks.

Je t’aime is scented with caramel and vanilla, but it possesses the rich voluptuousness of creamy chocolate as well. The liquor is reddish amber, and I took a couple of sips before adding a bit of half and half. It definitely seemed potable au naturel, but I love to add cream to flavored black teas.

My impression is that the base black tea is of somewhat higher quality in this blend than in the Caramel tea from Kusmi, but I’d have to do a steep-off to be sure…

(Blazing New Rating #63)

Flavors: Vanilla

Boiling 5 min, 30 sec 3 g 10 OZ / 295 ML

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drank Pi Lo Chun by Tazo
1180 tasting notes

I must have got the last bag of Tazo Pi Lo Chun, as it is no longer even listed at the Starbucks website! The demise of Tazo is imminent…

This is my third experience with Bi Luo Chun, the first and second having been from Teavivre and Tealux. These Tazo leaves are not as airy and voluminous as the others, and they are darker in color and more robust in scent. Today’s batch I drank right after a big bowl of oatmeal, which I prepared to celebrate the unseasonably cool and rainy weather we’re having.

The liquor is peach veering gray more than green, and now that I’ve read the story of this tea, it makes sense, given that the leaves are charcoal fired. I like this pleasant, slightly sweet and not very vegetal green tea, and will surely finish this bag!

(Blazing New Rating #62)

165 °F / 73 °C 2 min, 30 sec 4 g 17 OZ / 502 ML

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I was craving jasmine this evening, so I threw caffeine caution to the wind and brewed up a small pot of Teavivre Jasmine Bi Luo Chun Green tea. The dried leaves are of all different shapes and sizes, with silver striations woven throughout.

The liquor is pale greenish yellow, and the taste is very smooth. I really like the jasmine used by Teavivre in both this tea and the Jasmine Pearls. Which do I prefer? I’ll have to do a steep-off one of these days.

For now, my jasmine craving has been satisfied!

(Blazing New Rating #61)

Flavors: Jasmine

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec 3 g 10 OZ / 295 ML

I have so many jasmine teas right now. I am definitely considering a massive steep off to compare them all.


great idea, lolainred: just do it! ;-)

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No one ever seems to talk about Chun Mei—Long Jing, Sencha, Mao Feng, Gunpowder, the list of famous green teas goes on and on, but poor little Chun Mei seems to get little respect. The only time I’ve ever seen it named as a China green tea is on the box of the Tazo filterbag Chun Mee. Lots of other filterbags appear to contain Chun Mei—or a blend one of the components of which is Chun Mei—but when it comes time to rave about loose leaf greens, the topic never seems to come up.

That’s why I decided to order a sample of this tea from Teavivre. I wanted to know what this tea looks and tastes like in loose leaf form. I agree with the description of the dried leaves as eyebrow-like. They are very cute. The dried form also looks a bit like something on the road to becoming Gunpowder.

The liquor is light golden brown and tastes rather robust and earthy. It’s actually quite good, with a stronger cooked flavor. This tea is hearty but not at all bitter. I’ll definitely be ordering a full supply, as I find Chun Mei to be tasty and think that it would pair well with spicy food. In fact, I enjoyed this tea right after a heavily spiced Thai meal.

I wonder whether the low price of Chun Mei is an indication that many green tea drinkers prefer less assertive flavors? No matter: I like it, I do.

(Blazing New Rating #60)

170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 45 sec 4 g 17 OZ / 502 ML

I’ve had Chun Mei that I really liked before. I haven’t seen it in a while.

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With the memory of another sakura-style green tea fresh in my mind, I decided to go ahead and try Palais des Thés Fleur de Geisha. This is also a Japanese style green-tea base (theirs appears to be from Japan), but the flavoring is somewhat more floral and less intensely fruity.

The liquor is pale greenish gold and the taste is rather more harmonious than I’ve come to expect from cherry-scented teas. According to the description, cherry blossoms, not cherry essence are used to flavor this tea, so that must make the difference.

I’m looking forward to trying a second infusion of the spent sachet (which plumped up quite a lot) later on tonight.

(Blazing New Rating #59)

Flavors: Fruit Tree Flowers

160 °F / 71 °C 2 min, 30 sec 2 g 9 OZ / 266 ML

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Update: 28 September 2014.

I am officially going on strike. You have lost another contributor, Steepster. Two months is too long to endure total site dysfunctionality. I’ll be writing about tea-related matters at a new blog, sherapop’s tea leaves, from here on out. I cannot waste any more time here.


A long-time tea and perfume lover, I have recently begun to explore the intersections between the two at my blog: http://salondeparfum-sherapop.blogspot.com//

I participate at fragrance community websites, and I care about tea as much as perfume, so why not belong to Steepster as well?

A few words about my ratings. In assessing both teas and perfumes, my evaluation is “all things considered.” Teas do not differ very much in price (relative to perfumes or any luxury items), so I do not usually consider the price when rating a tea.

What I do consider is how the particular tea compares to teas of its own type. So I might give a high rating to a fine herbal infusion even though I would never say that it is my favorite TEA. But if it’s good for what it is, then it deserves a high rating. There is no point in wishing that a chamomile blend was an Assam or a sencha tea!

Any rating below 50 means that I find the liquid less desirable to drink than plain water. I may or may not finish the cup, depending upon how thirsty I am and whether there is another hot beverage or (in summertime) a source of fresh water available.

From 50 to 60 indicates that, while potable, the tea is not one which I would buy or repurchase, if I already made the mistake (I have learned) of purchasing it.

From 60 to 70 means that the tea is drinkable but I have criticisms of some sort, and I probably would not purchase or repurchase the tea as I can think of obvious alternatives which would be better.

From 70 to 80 is a solid brew which I would purchase again.

From 80 to 90 is good stuff, and I probably need to have some ready at hand in my humble abode.

From 90 to 100 is a tea (or infusion) which I have come to depend on and look forward to imbibing again and again—if possible!

If you are interested in perfume, you might like my 2300+ perfume reviews, most of which have been archived at sherapop’s sillage (essentially my perfumelog):



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