1085 Tasting Notes


I found a few errant filter bags tonight, including some Harney & Sons Chamomile. I have been enjoying the sachet version of this simple soliflore very much, so I was interested in seeing how the filter bags would brew up.

Answer: yellow! Perhaps a bit lighter in flavor, but still pretty good.

Flavors: Flowers

Boiling 6 min, 45 sec

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drank Golden Monkey by Tazo
1085 tasting notes

I have to say that Tazo Golden Monkey is very different from most other yunnan teas—not at all smoky, and with a burnt caramel flavor but without being sweet.

This gorgeous reddish-brown brew is so ridiculously delicious. The caramel finish is perfect and greatly enhanced with light cream. This is definitely my top Yunnan-origin tea.

I have increased my rating to reflect my enthusiasm. This is how all tea should be: beckoning me to go brew up yet another cup because it is so irresistibly wonderful. Why settle for less?

Flavors: Caramel

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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You know that you have too much tea when you “discover” hermetically sealed tins of unknown age while preparing to move. This one, Peet’s Yunnan Fancy, smells as fresh as the day it was purchased (whenever that was…), so I decided to brew up a cup on this frosty afternoon.

My most recent yunnan pot was Tazo Golden Monkey, which somehow set me up to expect a tea with a similar flavor profile. In fact, Yunnan Fancy, despite bearing superficial similarities—lots of golden tips and crisp twig-like leaves—tastes completely different!

The liquor is dark amber and the flavor is really quite smoky—against all expectations. In fact, it reminds me a bit of the lapsang souchong blends which I’ve been imbibing of late! Maybe closest to Russian Caravan (which is a lot lighter on the lapsang than is Baker’s Street Blend).

Well, I happen to like smoky teas, and this seems like a solid brew to me! I took today’s strongly brewed cup (1.5 tsp—not 1tsp) with cream.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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drank Sencha Shizuoka by Thé Santé
1085 tasting notes

Today’s pot of Sencha Shizuoka was somewhat less satisfying. Perhaps I underleafed? The liquor is pale golden yellow (not green), and the flavor is not very vegetal at all.

I should use 3 tsp, not 2 tsp, for this tetsubin in the future…

165 °F / 73 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 18 OZ / 532 ML

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drank Winter Berry Spice by Teavana
1085 tasting notes

Why are there no berry or berrylike ingredients in Winter Berry Spice? I am a bit confused. It seems to imply that the berry facet is created only by the artificial flavorings, which I find unfortunate.

This foody infusion is okay for a foody infusion.

Boiling 8 min or more 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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In some ways it’s funny that I prefer Upton Russian Caravan to Baker Street Blend. Since I much prefer darjeeling to oolong, and Baker Street switches out the latter for the former, it should be a blend made in heaven for me: lapsang souchong, darjeeling, and keemun.

It’s good, no doubt, but the grassiness of the darjeeling makes the unadulterated liquor of the brewed Baker Street (dark amber colored—a bit lighter than the Russian Caravan) just a bit less smooth and pleasant than the unadulterated Russian Caravan.

With cream, however, this is also very nice. I’d recommend Baker Street for those who like lapsang souchong straight, since it is more marked in this blend than in Russian Caravan. For those who find lapsang souchong too smoky, this Baker Street Blend might be as well.

There is one problem with my comparison, however. The Russian Caravan in my tea cupboard is Upton’s higher grade (T70 not T60), which they own is prepared using higher quality teas (presumably in the same proportions). So in some ways I may be comparing apple and oranges, except that Upton does not seem to have a higher-grade Baker Street Blend, which would be the fair comparison.

Anyway, this is still a fine afternoon tea—but much more of lapsang than keemun or darjeeling. I’d be interested to find out the proportions used of the three in this blend.

200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 9 OZ / 266 ML

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drank Sencha Miyazaki by Tealux
1085 tasting notes

This is not quite a steep-off, but I was interested in, first, drinking more caffeinated sencha (I reserve my first infusion spent leaves for after dinner…) and, second, verifying that I really prefer Fukamushi to Miyazaki. In today’s brews, I have confirmed that this is true.

Miyazaki is a good sencha, to be sure, but it is much lighter and quite a bit saltier than Fukamushi (also by Tealux). One added bonus for the Miyazaki is that it is organic, so that’s nice to know. But probably when I reorder from Tealux I’ll opt for the Fukamushi over the paler, gentler, slightly yellower Miyazaki.

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 15 sec 2 tsp 18 OZ / 532 ML

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The water I used for today’s pot of Tealux Fukamushi Sencha Kakegawa was a bit hotter than last time, and I detected just a touch of bitterness as a result. Still, this brewed up citrine-peridot green, precisely how I like my sencha to appear, and the taste was pleasingly vegetal, if a tad bit astringent. I’ll stick with cooler water in the future. The package recommends 85C, but that seems too hot for my tastes.

180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 15 sec 2 tsp 18 OZ / 532 ML

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I got sucked into another episode of MI-5, so I decided to brew some of this Sleepytime Vanilla to follow upon my earlier Harvest Chamomile. Not quite a steep-off, but I did discover that I seem to enjoy the Honey Vanilla Chamomile (aka Harvest Chamomile) a bit more than the Sleepytime Vanilla. I attribute this to the presence of mint in the latter and the absence in the former. Still this is pretty good for a bedtime brew…

Flavors: Flowers, Vanilla

Boiling 5 min, 15 sec

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Based on the ingredients list, this is what I am drinking, although my four-bag sample pack is labeled “Harvest Chamomile” and is of unknown provenance and age. Anyway, this tastes pretty good. A nice change from Sleepytime in that there is no spearmint or any other mint whatsoever in this blend.

Here the honey and vanilla flavors are rich accompaniments to the soothing scent and flavor of good old chamomile. This is similar to Sleepytime Vanilla, of course, because of the vanilla and the chamomile, but there is more honey here and less vanilla. And best of all no mint!

This is a pleasant and calming chamomile blend, and I have found in general that Celestial Seasonings uses a honey note to my liking. My favorites from this company always seem to contain either honey or vanilla…

Flavors: Flowers, Honey, Vanilla

Boiling 6 min, 45 sec

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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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