1378 Tasting Notes

drank Iced Passion Tea by Tazo
1378 tasting notes

Today’s refill chez Starbucks was once again a venti unsweetened Iced Passion. It has the perfect zesty twang to serve as an ideal post-sweet drink beverage. The color of the liquor, both deep and bright ruby red, is also beautiful to behold. My favorite post-coffee refill remains Refresh, and after a Green Tea Frappuccino, I generally opt for iced Zen. However, I wanted to order Passion this afternoon to cover-up memory traces of my recent unfortunate experience involving a barista’s refusal to fulfill my request for a refill of this tea.

Happily, corporate Starbucks took my complaint of a couple of days ago very seriously. True, I sent my complaint to the head honcho, Howard Schultz himself, but I was impressed with the prompt response from his Regional Vice President, who contacted me personally to apologize for the incident and assured me that all Boston-area stores have been put on alert about the refill program. Wow!

In addition, the Regional Vice President also sent me an e-gift to thank me for sharing my experience with them. I am sure that they realize that for every obnoxious person like me who puts pen to paper to Howard Schultz, there are another hundred customers who had a similar experience but just let it slide. So the good news for all Boston metropolitan Starbucks frequenters is that we can expect not to encounter any more baristas who treat us as though we are trying to rob the store when we step forward to claim the refills offered to us by their company as a perk for being rewards card program members.

This tea, of course, is always good news, and I shall continue to drink it over the hot months to come!

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The Starbucks Frappuccinos are generally too sweet for my liking, so I always tweak the recipe when I place the order. (Yes, I am one of THOSE customers…). Today’s recipe went like this:

Venti green tea Frappuccino, soymilk, light ice, no syrup.

It was good. I accepted the whipped cream on top, which is not—as some might smirk—really a contradiction since I select soymilk not because I am totally lactose intolerant, but because milk makes me drowsy. Ever since my sister informed me that the whipped cream is prepared fresh to order, I have rarely been able to decline!

All in all, today’s recipe was pretty good. To be honest, I do not consider this green tea Frappuccino to be so much a glass of tea as a frozen green confection. I often request extra matcha, but the first time I did that, I was unaware that they use a sweetened matcha powder, not straight-up matcha. This meant that I completely cancelled out my reduction of syrup by amping up the matcha. Now I know that each scoop of matcha contains 25 calories = pretty much sugar calories… Needless to say, doubling the matcha in one of these beverages is going to significantly increase the calories and sweetness as well!

Since I ordered my green shake so late in the day, I did not request any extra matcha whatsoever. Hoping to get some sleep tonight!

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Today’s lunchtime pot is Norbu Xi Hu Long Jing from the 2013 spring harvest. I brewed this somewhat stronger—not longer, but with more leaves—and am finding the slightly darker (but still pale) yellow liquor quite succulent. Looking forward to the second infusion of these still quite fragrant leaves!

second infusion: I drank this after dinner this evening. Mighty fine indeed! Brighter yellow, still with a palpable Long Jingy taste.

170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 30 sec 4 tsp 28 OZ / 828 ML

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I drank a large Bodum of loose leaf Egyptian Chamomile infusion just now, so sleep beckons on the horizon…

Even without the functional benefits, this shimmering golden liquor tastes very good. I also love the scent of both the dried and the infused buds.

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drank Coconut Almond by Paromi
1378 tasting notes

Okay, I have to admit, this Coconut Almond tea from Paromi is a very good flavored blend. The flavors are natural tasting; the scent is divine; the black tea base is fine. I do recommend.

Flavors: Coconut, Nuts

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

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drank Coconut Chai by Zhena's Gypsy Tea
1378 tasting notes

The spices in Zhena’s Gypsy Tea Coconut Chai taste pretty good, but the underlying black tea base is weak, to put it mildly. The base is indicated by the company text (in this tea’s Steepster profile) as “ceylon”, though on the can it is identified as “Indian black tea”. Hmmm… isn’t Ceylon tea from Sri Lanka (formerly known, in the colonial days, as “Ceylon”)? Did India acquire Sri Lanka while I was busy moving?

The liquor is a light peachy gold—looking more like a brewed Chun Mee than a black tea—and the flavor is, stated simply, tea deficient. Of course, I prefer my spicy chais to be prepared with a robust black base, so Zhena’s Gypsy Tea chai and I were never meant to be. In loose leaf chais which are too weak on the tea front, I sometimes throw in a dose of CTC Assam for good measure.

Zhena’s Gypsy Tea Coconut Chai comes in a filter bag, so I’ll probably use the remaining three servings in my sampler tin to infuse directly into almond coconut milk and see how that tastes. Perhaps it will at least draw out the coconut more forcefully. Here it is masked by the traditional chai spices.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Cloves

Boiling 6 min, 0 sec 2 g 9 OZ / 266 ML

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drank Wisdom Pu-erh Chai by Chai Diaries
1378 tasting notes

I picked up a can of Chai Diaries Wisdom Pu-erh Chai out of curiosity—though I confess that the brand sounded a bit gimmicky to me—and brewed up my first sachet of this blend today. The liquor is dark red, and I was seriously considering the possibility of adding almond-coconut milk but decided instead to adulterate using the usual suspect (light cream) so that I would not be distracted by that change in evaluating the quality of the tea.

It’s good. A pleasant pu-erh blend (as in: not fishy at all, and more about the flavorings than the earthy base tea). Again, I am finding that complex pu-erh blends overlap with Assam blends to some extent. Certainly the tea itself is strong, which is to my liking, but it is less malty than Assam. I like this blend, finding that it compares favorably with the Numi Pu-erh blends. The flavorings are not of the standard “chai”—there is no cardamom or clove or cinnamon or black pepper. Instead, we have almonds, star anise, licorice, ginger root, and then some fruit flavors (mango and berry)—all seamlessly blended. The text on the cylinder explains that “chai” just means “tea”, but no insight is offered into what these specific flavors might have to do with wisdom…

The company boasts the use of only natural flavorings, which is always a good thing. My cylinder contains twenty (now nineteen) pyramid sachets containing a nice looking larger leaf blend. I’d like to try their chocolate chai, given this positive experience, and also their loose leaf version of one or more of their teas. And perhaps I shall!

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

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While preparing today’s first POD (pot of the day), Teavivre Bi Luo Chun, I noticed that the coiled leaves are quite multifarious in color and parts of them shimmer, as though they were woven of silk.

I brewed a large pot today, using a full sample portion (not sure how many grams…). The resultant liquor was pale yellow, as before, but the flavor seemed richer and sweeter than I recalled this tea having been. I imbibed today’s three glasses right after my first MOD (meal of the day): toasted raisin bread with butter. A good combination!

This is a subtle tea, that’s right, full of subtlety! ;-) I am becoming accustomed to and even growing fond of this very gentile green tea, which until recently I had never even heard of. If green teas were people, then Bi Luo Chun would have to be the one who graduated from white gloves and party manners. Bi Luo Chun knows how to set a proper table, with the forks and knives and spoons all in the right place. Bi Luo Chun never fails to write polite thank you notes.

Or perhaps we could compare teas to genres of music. Bu Luo Chun is strictly classical—no heavy metal or rap or rock ballades here…

170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 28 OZ / 828 ML

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drank Iced Passion Tea by Tazo
1378 tasting notes

I enjoyed an excellent serving of iced Tazo Passion courtesy of Starbucks. Unfortunately, I had first to wrangle with the minion (a barista) of a mastermind (Howard Schultz). Unbelievably enough, I was denied yet again my free refill (on a Frappuccino) by an employee ignorant of her very own company’s policy. She was very insistent that ONLY if I started with an iced coffee could I have a refill, and then it would have to be coffee, not tea. Since I am the refill maven (as documented here at Steepster), who has consumed dozens of free cups over the course of the past year, I asked her whether the policy had changed. She said “no,” it had always been the same policy since she started working there and that she had worked there longer than any of her colleagues. Her smug certainty prompted me upon my departure to call Sbucks customer service to find out what was going on. In fact, I was right and the barista was wrong, so I turned around and went back into the store and handed my cellphone to her so that she could be disabused of her false beliefs about the refill program. It’s really too bad that such a generous refill policy is severely marred by the poor training of baristas. This must be the tenth time that I have had to argue about the company’s very own policy (explicitly detailed on their website)! It really compromises the overall experience to be treated as a lowlife criminal shoplifter by poorly trained/ignorant baristas.

End of rant.

The Passion was quite tasty—not sure, though, whether it was really worth that ordeal! I did enjoy the tangy red infusion while walking a couple of miles to run some errands in the very nice walking weather we had today—in the 60s (not 40s, thank goodness!).


Good for you for phoning the company. That was terrible service.


That reminds me of my troubles to get the AC Perchs shop to sell me less than 100g when I’ve been told by THE OWNER on Facebook more than once that I should be able to buy 50g and that they had had a talk with all employees about this. And yet, they still wouldn’t sell me less than 100g. To be honest, I’ve lost all desire to shop in there now. I’ll continue to use the webshop and eat the shipping fee (which wasn’t honestly that big to begin with) and shop from the comfort of my own home. That’s how much I don’t feel like going in there anymore. On the website, I know where I stand. I abhor talking to strangers on the telephone, so your solution wouldn’t work for me, unfortunately.


Thanks, keychange! The experience was so unpleasant that I actually sent an email to Howard Schultz. No response yet. lol


You are right, Angrboda: it really does deter one from returning. Probably a form of operant conditioning: if I go to Starbucks and request a free refill (their idea, not mine!), will I be treated shoddily? Not worth the gamble, really. It would be one thing if this happened only once, but it has happened repeatedly. When I first started ordering refills last year, I used to carry around a print-out of their policy to show to surly baristas. After a while, it seemed that at the stores which I frequented most of them knew the policy. But still this sort of thing happens on occasion, and it’s not just the new employees, as my experience yesterday revealed. I don’t know, some of them seem to really have a chip on their shoulders. What do they care if a person takes a way a cup of tea or coffee for free? Probably costs the company a dime.

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drank The Emerald Path by Nourish Tea
1378 tasting notes

Today’s post-lunch POD (pot of the day) was Nourishtea’s Mao Jian (The Emerald Path). I’m happy with this China green. The liquor is pale greenish yellow and the flavor slightly vegetal—but closer to Mao Feng than sencha. Definitely a good mealtime tea!

I noticed today that my large tetsubin cools the water by almost 10 degrees C! Good to know…

second infusion: once again I found that the leaves nearly double in volume upon reinfusion. The flavor is still good, and the color more gold now than green.

165 °F / 73 °C 3 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 30 OZ / 887 ML

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Update: 28 September 2014.

On the above date, I officially went on strike and stopped posting tasting notes at Steepster, having endured more than two months of this site’s complete and utter dysfunctionality.

Today is November 1, 2014. I write now to announce that I’ll be launching my new blog, sherapop’s tea leaves, in the not too distant future…

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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