1176 Tasting Notes

drank Laos Black #05 by Steepster
1176 tasting notes

My first experience of a tea from Laos, this one, Laos Black #05 was included in a Steepster Select sample set. This tea was not produced in India, but the flavor and demeanor and scent and dried leaf form are all very Assam-esque. Which is to say that this is a good breakfast brew: heavy and stout and fairly smooth.

I ended up drinking Laos #05 with cream by force of habit. It probably would have been perfectly fine au naturel, but I associate Assam maltiness and cream as perfect partners. The adulterated brew looked greyish brown more than caramel colored, and the unadulterated brew was dark amber, not red, which is no doubt why.

I followed the instructions on my envelope and so brewed only for a couple of minutes, though ordinarily I would infuse this type of tea for a full five. I’ll definitely try a second infusion with the presumably not-entirely spent leaves later today.

(Blazing New Rating #25)

Flavors: Malt

Boiling 2 min, 0 sec 4 g 11 OZ / 325 ML

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drank Sencha Superior Uji by Zen Tea
1176 tasting notes

Haute sencha converges at some point with gyokuro—well, that’s my impression, at any rate. This one, the Superior Uji Sencha from Zen Tea is a perfect illustration of that thesis. Yesterday’s ichiban “house” sencha from Zen Tea was very good, and today’s superior version looks and smells and tastes very similar to some of the gyokuros I’ve tried.

The brew is shimmery yellow-green, and I would be hard pressed to distinguish this from gyokuro is a side-by-side blind test. Very smooth and silken on the tongue, and the flavor is slightly vegetal but not at all astringent or bitter. I don’t really know what else to say, except that this sencha is gyokuroesque!

(Blazing New Rating #24)

165 °F / 73 °C 1 min, 30 sec 4 g 10 OZ / 295 ML

That’s the sencha I always keep a supply of…I find the quality to be exceptional for the price.


It is good, TheTeaFairy! I’ll probably restock, too. ;-)

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drank Tangerine Tango by Tazo
1176 tasting notes

Tangerine Tango is the reason why I have been shunning the new Oprah Chai chez Starbucks. It, too, boasts cinnamon as its number one ingredient. The overall effect of this tealess blend is similar to that of what I call “spice cabinet chai”, which always seems like an infusion of random spices thrown together. I prefer my chai to have a substantial black tea base—preferably Assam. Some of them (including, apparently, the new Oprah offering) are much more about cinnamon and cloves, etc., than about tea.

So, too, with Tangerine Tango, which is completely misnamed, in my opinion. Tangerine? Really? To me this is a big cinnamon infusion with a fair dose of clove and some ginger plus a variety of other stuff thrown in for good measure. Or not, as I do not find the proportions very pleasing. This is one of the Tazo teas which I don’t mind is about to be discontinued (if it has not been already). It’s just not my cup of tisane or tea.

You tasted Vitamin water, right? To me this is essentially Cinnamon Water, but instead of 10% of the RDA of some random vitamin, there are few other weak flavors as well.

(Blazing New Rating #23)

Flavors: Cinnamon

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

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drank Revitalise by Pukka
1176 tasting notes

I had fairly low expectations for Pukka Revitalise, as the first ingredient is cinnamon bark. I like cinnamon, mind you, but as a condiment or spice, not as the featured note.

It turns out that the cinnamon does not really dominate, despite its hefty proportion (26%). While detectable, the cinnamon rests on a solid base of licorice root and ginger. The liquor is golden and has the viscosity characteristic of some licorice blends. Overall, the flavor is fairly pleasing but also common to a number of other functional tisanes. Revitalise actually contains some green tea (though one would never know from the taste) and is said to be based on ancient Ayurvedic principles.

(Blazing New Rating #22)

Flavors: Cinnamon, Ginger, Licorice

Boiling 5 min, 15 sec 2 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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I was really looking forward to trying this fruit-laced darjeeling from Numi. Unfortunately, Berry Black is much more about hibiscus and rose hips than darjeeling! In fact, this will sound bitchy, but it seems a bit like a waste of good organic darjeeling. And fruits!

The hibiscus really overwhelms. I should have known as I watched the liquor brew up bright red, but this is much more than I was expecting. I have something like 15 more bags of this blend and will likely brew them up en masse for a gallon of iced tea, which I suspect will be pretty good, but I would not choose to drink this again hot. Cream would not help—in fact it might curdle!

(Blazing New Review #21)

Flavors: Hibiscus

Boiling 5 min, 30 sec 2 g 9 OZ / 266 ML

Adding hibiscus or rosehip to anything is a waste of whatever else is in there in my book. :)


Angrboda: I do like one hibiscus blend a lot: Tazo Passion. But most of the others are pretty boring.


I don’t like it at all. :) For me it tastes like blood.


How interesting!

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drank Etoile du Nord by Nina's Paris
1176 tasting notes

I received three samples from the friendly folks at Nina’s Paris, and Etoile du Nord was the one which was beckoning me most. Violets and rhubarb? How exotic! Plus the base tea is Keemun rather than the usual middling Congou suspect.

The sachet was generously stoked, and the leaves were large with beautiful cornflowers interspersed (I presume for appearance—not sure that they add any flavor). The liquor was amber and tasted good enough to drink au naturel. I could really tell the difference in quality of the base tea. My impression is that many scented black teas are heavily scented precisely in order to cover the mediocrity of the tea. In this case, both the flavors and the tea tasted good, so I drank Etoile du Nord without cream.

I cannot say that I would ever have guessed the identity of the rhubarb in this pleasantly fruity blend, but I would definitely consider buying a full tin in the future.

(Blazing New Review #20)

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

I requested this sample too! Now I can’t wait to try it :)


I’ll look forward to your review, Tamarindel!

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drank Mate Lemon by Numi Organic Tea
1176 tasting notes

I have tried Numi Mate Lemon before, but not since joining Steepster, and I have some fresh bags in my cupboard from the sampler boxes, so here goes:

This blend offers a pretty mighty punch of caffeine, which was what I was really after this afternoon. No idea why I have been so tired. Perhaps staying up until 3am has something to do with it, but then I slept in until almost noon!

Anyway, this is a mate for gringos. I’ve spent some time in Argentina and around Argentinians elsewhere, so I know what unembellished mate tastes and smells like: bitter and grassy. Closer to an oversteeped darjeeling than anything else!

This blend masks any and all bitterness with lemon myrtle, which imparts both flavor and texture (think licorice root texture, but without any sweetness or licorice flavor whatsoever). There is also some green tea here—something chum meeish, it seems.

The overall effect to my palate is of a pleasant lightly flavored mid-range filterbag green tea. It’s okay. I regard this more as a functional blend than a tea which I would want to stock up on and find myself craving. There are many good sources of a powerful punch of caffeine. This is one of them, and it tastes perfectly fine. The real virtue of this sort of blend is that it does not require any cream, as do many equally potent black blends.

(Blazing New Rating #19)

Boiling 5 min, 30 sec 2 g 9 OZ / 266 ML

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drank Jungle Ju Ju by DAVIDsTEA
1176 tasting notes

For some reason, I was feeling groggy this afternoon, so it seemed the perfect opportunity to brew up a blend touted as “stimulant” by the folks at DavidsTea: Jungle Ju Ju.

This is only my second guayusa experience, so I’m definitely a gringo about this herb. Jungle Ju Ju brews up much less sweet than I was expecting. The huge chunks of sugary papaya and peach notwithstanding, the green herbal guayusa ended up being nearly neutral on the sweetness scale. I ate a couple pieces of the dried fruit, which is why I know that it is sweet, but the sweetness did not really translate into the infusion.

Whenever I brew up one of the Teavana foodish blends, I grind it up first, so that the flavors will fully infuse. In this case, the huge chunks are not the main player, so it seemed unnecessary. I’m probably better off just munching on the fruit and brewing up the dried green guayusa leaves.

The brew is fine. It tastes nothing like the last (a flavored Runa) guayusa I tried. Instead, it seems about half way between a not-very-minty Morrocan mint and a mate. I probably won’t restock once these .8 ounce envelopes are depleted, but who knows, maybe I’ll develop a craving for this specific taste by then. On ne sait jamais…

(Blazing New Rating #18)

Boiling 5 min, 30 sec 4 g 9 OZ / 266 ML

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drank Sencha House by Zen Tea
1176 tasting notes

I have been focusing on China greens of late, but I was craving sencha, so I decided to brew up a two-glass tetsubin of the house sencha from Zen Tea.

Very tasty! The liquor is pale green and slightly shimmery—the citrine-peridot color unique to sencha—and the flavor is fine indeed. Slightly vegetal but also smooth and silken. This house sencha is said to be ichiban Kyoto style from Uji. Now I’m very curious what the superior sencha is going to be like! Up next…

(Blazing New Rating #17)

165 °F / 73 °C 2 min, 30 sec 4 g 20 OZ / 591 ML

I love the differences and similarities between Chinese and Japanese greens. It’s amazing.


Cheri: I used to only really drink sencha and bancha. But then I began exploring China greens. The variety is amazing!

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(backlog from 5/30/14)

This strongly scented jasmine silver needle from Teavana contains large shimmery needles, some broken pieces, and a few dried jasmine blossoms. A three-minute infusion at 79C produced a pale yellow liquor with a touch of green and a touch of peach.

The tea is smooth and delicious and tastes slightly less perfumey than it smells. In fact, it seems a tad closer to a green tea than did the Rishi jasmine silver needles from yesterday. It could be other factors which make this tea seem bettter to me, so I’ll have to do a steep off chez sherapop at some point—once the BNR challenge is through!

second infusion: excellent

third infusion: still going strong!

(Blazing New Rating #16)

Flavors: Jasmine

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 10 OZ / 295 ML

sounds delicious.


Cheri: it is! ;-)

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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):



Somerville, Massachusetts, USA



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