1098 Tasting Notes

Like bancha, hoji-cha has a completely different personality and taste from sencha. At one point I was somewhat addicted to this tea, but I have not consumed any in a long time. Happily, in my recently discovered cache, I found a full, hermetically sealed bag of this tea, in addition to the remains of another bag. This tea is roasted (and looks like little pieces of dried wood!), so I decided to brew up the remains since roasted tea generally holds up better over time than unroasted.

The result was good. The liquor is a dark apricot color and the flavor is exactly as I recall hoji-cha having been. I’ll report back once I’ve opened the other bag, which should produce an even better pot.

This tea is very inexpensive (hoji—cha in general, but also this brand in particular), yet the flavor is unique and appealing to me. It’s not that I like everything, mind you. I dislike the taste of barley tea, for example. People who are expecting something along the lines of sencha or another green green tea may be disappointed with this beverage, as it bears little resemblance to anything but itself!

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Sencha by Yamamotoyama
1098 tasting notes

This “everyday” sencha from Yamamotoyama is an excellent example of why I love Japanese products. Supposedly this is the analogue to Lipton in Japan, where people drink sencha many times each day—and tea is much more frequently imbibed than coffee. So one might surmise that the flavor would be mediocre. Not so! It’s a very decent quality sencha, and the price is ridiculously low. I have consumed my share of these bags over the years, but when the Japanese grocery close to my former place of residence closed down, I pretty much moved on.

While moving, I discovered a secret cache of a Japanese tea, including this one, and though it is old (albeit unopened and stored in a tin box far from heat and light), it still tastes very good and brews up a delightful greenish gold. I’ll be plowing through this bag in no time, and now that a huge megaplex Asian market has opened up within walking distance of my new place, I’m sure that I’ll be exploring the higher grades from this brand as well—in addition to some more obscure offerings in the tea aisle—which is vast!

I suspect that the naysayers are not following the prescribed instructions (which I added to the profile). Note that Yamamotoyama indicates that a tablespoon (not a teaspoon) should be used for 200ml of water. Also: a very short steep is key to success with this tea. Finally, there are some small particles amongst the leaves, so you need to use a very fine-gauged sieve or filter to remove them in order to avoid bitterness.

second infusion: very good!

third infusion: still good! now bright yellow.

165 °F / 73 °C 1 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
carol who

Yeah for local tea! It has its good points – fun, try new things, no shipping :) and the bad – too available, spend all the money on tea and not food! :(


So true, carol who! I’ve been known to spend the bulk of my time and money during an alleged “grocery run” on tea! I’ve already been ogling the selection at this new megaplex, which appears to be run by Koreans, but they have covered all of the Asian tea bases… watch out!!!!

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Once again I was somewhat underwhelmed by the flavor of this blend. It tastes fine but somewhat nondescript. Perhaps Organic Better Rest Blend is supposed to be a bit boring in order better to induce sleep? The flavor seems something like a fourth infusion of a green tea.

The good news is that the lemon grass is not overwhelming despite the obvious preponderance of the little stalks in the sachet. Also a relief is that the stinky valerian does not smell the same infused as it does dry…

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drank Organic Chai by Tazo
1098 tasting notes

I found some bags of this Tazo Organic Chai and decided that since I was severely decaffeinated and the weather was cool and drizzly this would be a perfect opportunity to brew up a large Bodum. I have consumed a lot of this tea in the past, but I’ve been less into chai lately for some reason. It was probably one of those fads which carries us away until we get our wits about us once again.

Anyway, I’ve tried my share of chai blends, and many are “spice cabinet” chais, with much more spice than tea, which always annoys me a little. I mean the word chai means “tea”, does it not???? I mention this today because I checked out the ingredients list for the new Oprah Chai chez Starbucks (which appears to be replacing the Tazo), and the first ingredient listed is cinnamon. Well, I certainly like cinnamon, but as the top ingredient in a chai? No, thank you.

Tazo Organic Chai boasts black tea as its first ingredient, followed by ginger and then cinnamon. Clove is rather far down the list, although I recall that in the loose-leaf, non-organic Tazo Chai, whole cloves figure rather prominently, necessitating the addition of a hefty dose of Assam (usually CTC), if I am to imbibe that blend.

This one, the organic version, is perfectly dosed, with enough black tea to make this seem like a flavored tea, not a tea-tinged infusion of spices. I usually do not sweeten tea, but chai is the exception to the rule. Today I used my all-time favorite chai adulterant: sweetened condensed milk, which adds both the milk and the sweetness all in a few large glob-like spoons (or are they dollops?) of caramel-esque wonderfulness. Needless to say, this beverage is of the meal replacement variety. I was hungry and tired; now I am neither!

Boiling 6 min, 0 sec 10 g 30 OZ / 887 ML

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This Mountain Organic indonesian Green Tea from Tea at Sea is very good. The flavor is succulent, the liquor pale green, and the leaves unfurl in the manner of oolong, getting better and better with each subsequent infusion!

As this was my final pot, I am now putting this tea—the first I’ve ever tried from Indonesia—on my wishlist. Many thanks to Tea at Sea for the generous samples—you were right: tasting is believing!

second infusion: whoops! I just read at the Tea at Sea website that the first infusion is supposed to be discarded. So that’s why the second infusion is so good—because it’s really the first! ;-)

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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This is my first experience of tamayokucha, which Two Leaves glosses as “Extremely Green Tea”. Well, the liquor is a pale greenish yellow, but let’s not get carried away!

The flavor seems midway between a sencha and a long jing—almost a hybrid between a classic Japanese and a classic Chinese green. It’s pretty good.

second infusion: better than the first! I am using a large Bodum glass (about 10 ounces), so these sachets are essentially equivalent to two filter bags. Now I’m going to have to try this tea in the loose format…

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 9 OZ / 266 ML

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drank Peppermint by Harney & Sons
1098 tasting notes

I drank a nice glass of this infusion last night after eating a handful of peppermint candies. A perfect match!

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Other reviewers have compared Republic of Tea Ginseng Peppermint to Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer, and there is definitely a lot of overlap, given the eleuthero, the peppermint, and the licorice root, which imparts a decided sweetness to the cloudy golden liquor.

As with Tension Tamer, the dominant flavor seems to me to be licorice. I also can taste the ginseng, which is also somewhat sweet. The mintiness of the peppermint is rather light, probably because the licorice and the ginseng are so strong. Or is that eleuthero? I’m still not sure what eleuthero tastes like.

This blend is making me very drowsy. Perhaps I should go bathe before falling asleep!

Flavors: Licorice

190 °F / 87 °C 6 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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drank Iced Passion Tea by Tazo
1098 tasting notes

The summer has not even begun, and I’ve already logged four iced Passions! I predict that this infusion will take over Refresh as my number one logged tea in the steamy months to come.

Passion is always lip-puckeringly tasty, plus it serves as an excellent palette cleanser after whatever monstrosity I may have consumed first. I usually order this tea as a free refill on my rewards card, but I also have the large iced tea bags at home.

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drank Zhejiang Lung Ching by Adagio
1098 tasting notes

The Adagio Zhejiang Lung Chung sachet beats today’s competitor, Mighty Leaf Organic Dragonwell, but mainly it’s on a technicality: this seems more like Long Jing than that one does. I like them both, but I’m going to have compare the Mighty Leaf with the Wissotzky Timeless Green, memories of both the scent and the taste of which were evoked during this steep-off.

Both glasses brewed up pale greenish yellow, and the generously stoked sachets appear to contain about the same amount of tea. I’ll be reinfusing them later today for some decaffeinated green.

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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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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