1523 Tasting Notes


Today’s batch of Norbu Margaret’s Hope Autumn Flush Darjeeling was not quite as good as the last one, but I blame the infuser. I used a glass contraption which allowed some of the smaller leaves to slip through, so they sat there in the bottom of the pot (and glass), adding just a touch of bitterness.

Darjeeling is so sensitive to brewing parameters, in my experience. I wonder whether the darjeeling detractors are aware of this? One little mistake can turn an excellent tea into a borderline unpleasant experience!

To be honest, I have never really thought of darjeeling as black tea. It’s too temperamental and cannot really be consumed with cream. My Platonic Form of black tea remains Assam, but I am beginning to explore the China black teas, having learned that “China black” is not a dirty word, though the rampant use of inferior China blacks as the base for flavored teas has led countless people to believe that—myself included, until only recently.

Back to this darjeeling. I need to take a picture of the dried leaves (purchased from Norbu). This tea is so beautiful, with spindly leaves of all different shades.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 5 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

I read somewhere it’s oolong


Really? Seriously, boychik? How interesting!


Thanks, boychik! I just read the article on darjeeling at Wiki. Wow, I feel proud to have deduced this from my experience. ;-)

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What a relief—according to Tea Setter “High” doesn’t necessarily mean “Better”. I was worried there for a minute, because this Iron Goddess High Grade Oolong, while delicious, did not strike me as appreciably better than the "Medium"grade. I’m working from memory, of course, as I depleted my sample the other day. Probably I should order some larger amounts of both, because I like them a lot.

Now I think that I am beginning to understand my former aversion to oolong. I must have only tried very low grade (in the sense of base, probably swept off the floor after everything good was picked off the table) TGY. I really had a prejudice against this tea because I thought that it was the same stuff that is found in oolong filter bags, which induce headaches and even malaise in me!

I now know more about oolong than I did only a few weeks ago, and one possible explanation is that the substances which are in higher concentration in oolong than in green or black teas are much higher in the powdered form? I don’t know. It’s still kind of mysterious. Maybe some sort of solvent is used to remove the dust from the floor before dehydrating and producing oolong filter bags? All I know for sure is that I have had no adverse effects whatsoever from any of the loose leaf oolongs I’ve now tried…

Pale yellow liquor. Floral scent and flavor. Smooth texture worthy of savoring rather than gulping down.

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 15 sec 4 g 12 OZ / 354 ML

The mouth feel of good oolong….mmmmmm….dreamy.


It is, Cheri! How did I live without it? It’s as though I was the equivalent of color blind during my pre-oolong tea years—unaware of an entirely different perceptual experience!


I feel the same way! I only started drinking them recently, and they’re now my favorites.

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Palais des Thé Vive le Thé! is another case where I find myself puzzled by the needless adulteration of a pretty decent green base tea. It’s smooth and silken, with a flavor slightly vegetal, but also somewhat buttery. The ginger and citrus just seem like distractions to me.

This tea should not be covered up. It’s a bit like putting ketchup on filet mignon. Or perhaps I should choose another metaphor, since I no longer eat mammals. How about Wild Alaskan salmon with barbecue sauce on top?

second infusion: I decided to try another round and found it to be more likeable than the first—because the added flavors were lighter!

170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 15 sec 2 g 9 OZ / 266 ML

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drank Zen Iced Green Tea by Tazo
1523 tasting notes

I cold brewed a batch of this tea as a part of my concerted effort to remove most filter bags from my house before summer’s end. No surprise that it tastes a lot like an unsweetened iced green chez Starbucks, since this is that blend.

It’s refreshing enough, but I have never found Zen to be especially “Zen”. Wouldn’t that name be more appropriate for a Japanese single-original first-flush sencha.? It could be called Zencha!

Iced 8 min or more

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drank Wenshan Baozhong by Harney & Sons
1523 tasting notes

I began my (tea)day yesterday with this oolong from Harney & Sons, having ordered a selection of samples in order to find out whether or not I like this genre, after years of laboring under the (now known to be false) belief that I have an “oolong issue”.

In the Harney & Sons Guide to Tea, author Michael Harney ranks this tea at the near green end of the oolong spectrum, so I figured that it would work as my obligatory green of the early afternoon—and it did. In truth, however, the flavor of the pale gold veering green liquor is very creamy and floral and not at all vegetal. I brewed 4 grams for 2 glasses at 79C for about two minutes, and the leaves had barely begun to untwist.

They do look (as the company states) like pieces of twisted rope—not at all like gnarled nuggets, although the dark green color is similar to some of the gnarled nugget oolongs I’ve seen. Whenever I see that leaves have hardly begun the realization of their full potential, I know that further quality infusions lie on the horizon…

second infusion: just as good as the first. Rich, creamy, still floral.

third infusion: still very tasty and smooth, somewhat less creamy and floral, but just as good as some first infusion oolongs. I rarely do a fourth infusion, because often they taste too close to water to me, but this third infusion was so good…

fourth infusion: the liquor is now bright yellow—similar to many second infusions of China green teas. The flavor is weaker but still enjoyable

Flavors: Creamy, Floral

170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 30 sec 4 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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I brewed up a large Bodum of this chamomile-lemon myrtle blend from Numi with every intention of drinking one glass and refrigerating the rest for iced tea tomorrow afternoon. Whoops. A movie later (I watched Hannah Arendt), the Bodum was drained, and now I have wild and crazy dreams to look forward to, given my previous experience with lemon myrtle at bedtime…


I love when a tea is that good (or a movie that good) that you drink all the tea without even realizing you’ve done it. I hope your dreams weren’t crazy this time.


Thanks, Cheri! They were odd but not heinous. ;-)

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The scent of the dried tea in these sachets of Adagio Organic Citrus Green Tea is rather offputting. It actually smells caustic—like strong citrus oil used in industrial cleaning. In fact, it reminds me of the perfumes by Lush, many of which feature nose hair-singeing amounts of citrus oil.

Fortunately, the aroma is tempered through steeping, leaving behind only a shadow of the citrus. I don’t know about this blend. The underlying green tea seems to be good—why adulterate??

If it’s not broken, don’t fix it!

Flavors: Citrus

170 °F / 76 °C 3 min, 15 sec 2 g 9 OZ / 266 ML

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Here we have a more orthodox representative of the Mao Feng genre: Organic Tian Mu Mao Feng from Teavivre. This is quite a bit more vegetal and heartier than the Nonpareil Te Gong (which is also good, but paler and more subtle). I really like this somewhat darker brewing Mao Feng—it has some real oomph to it and is perfect for satisfying specifically Mao Feng cravings!

(This tea is listed twice at Steepster.)

Flavors: Vegetal

165 °F / 73 °C 2 min, 30 sec 3 g 10 OZ / 295 ML

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Delicate and delicious are the two words which came immediately to mind upon drinking a small glass of this haute Mao Feng from Teavivre. I had only a smidgeon left, so I attempted a gong fu-type “sipping” experience rather than my usual gulping of gallons.

165 °F / 73 °C 2 min, 45 sec 1 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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drank Sleepy Me by English Tea Shop
1523 tasting notes

I am very sensitive to chemicals. Spicy Indian food and “sleep aids” such as valerian tend to induce nightmares in me. I know, I know, so that pretty much negates the soporific effect—at least if the dream ends up being intense enough that I wake up feeling angst-ridden, having spent the night attempting to surmount seemingly insurmountable challenges of one sort or another. Usually they involve some sort of logical quandary, but sometimes they achieve heinous heights as well…

Perhaps I should stick to straight-up chamomile, as I found that even lemon myrtle induced a nightmare in me last night. Nonetheless, I tossed caution to the wind this evening and drank two glasses of Sleepy Me while watching Clouzot’s Le Corbeau, from 1942. If you have not watched it, I highly recommend it. In fact, even if you have watched it, I highly recommend that you watch it again!

Lots of teas smell much, much better in the dried form than when finally brewed. Sleepy Me is exactly the opposite: the scent of the brewed golden liquor is much better than that of the filter bags, which offer a double hit of stinky stuff: both valerian and hops! I am feeling a bit drowsy, so at least I should doze off before 4:15am, which was last night’s bed time… There is also lavender in this brew, along with the obligatory chamomile. But the extras, the hops and the valerian, are nearly guaranteed to induce both sleep and nightmares in me.

Hopefully I’ll remember in the middle of whatever my dream ends up being that it’s only a dream. Has that ever happened to you?

Flavors: Flowers, Lavender

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Effective February 1, 2015, I’ll be writing about tea at my new blog, sherapop’s tea leaves. Please stop by and contribute your ideas—all viewpoints are welcome!

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//

The scent of tea can be just as appealing as—sometimes more than—its taste! Tea also offers boundless visual beauty in its various forms and states of preparation.

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 2400+ perfume reviews, most of which have been archived at sherapop’s sillage (essentially my perfumelog):


Finally, please note that after a great deal of debate with myself, I have decided to use the cupboard here at Steepster as a “museum” of sorts—to commemorate all of the various teas which I have purchased and truly enjoyed since December 2013.

I do not currently possess all of the teas listed in this cupboard, but am using the function as a way of recording how many times I drank every tea which I did own at some point and wish not to forget. Teas found both in my “cupboard” and on my “wishlist” are those which I did own and intend to restock. Teas best forgotten have been removed from the cupboard once depleted (in some cases tossed…).

I have also decided (beginning in 2015) to use the tasting note function to maintain a chronological record of the teas I’ve consumed since December 15, 2013. Most new reviews will now be posted directly at my blog, sherapop’s tea leaves.


Somerville, Massachusetts, USA



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