Sipdown no. 89 of the year 2014. So close to 90! I’m going to have to find a way to get there today without totally messing up my nascent sipdown strategy. I haven’t completely figured it out yet, but it involves trying to position a number of teas of different types so that they have at most a serving or two left in the hopes that I can keep up the pace of at least one sipdown a day for the foreseeable future.

This isn’t my favorite black vanilla or even close to it. It’s somewhat underpowered and the more I taste it, the more the vanilla strikes me as borderline into that fakey bakey vanilla that I experienced in the Numi decaf and the Adagio vanilla oolong. It’s trying to be something other than that. It’s trying really hard, but falling short, as it is neither creamy nor vanilla bean rich (like the flavor of French vanilla ice cream), either of which would have been fine with me. Sometimes creamy vanillas are really well done, but I’d rather have a rich bean flavor. Unfortunately, this is neither. Which is great because it means I won’t have to miss not being able to order it with SpecialTeas out of business and all.

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I’ve updated this bio as it’s been a couple of years since I “started getting into” tea. It’s now more accurate to say that I was obsessed with tea for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it, and I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I’ve recently started writing fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I much prefer to drink tea without additives such as milk and sugar. If a tea needs additives to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’m going to rate it high. The exception is chai, which I make on the stove top using a recipe I found here on Steepster. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs into the harder stuff, but once I learned how to make a decent cup of tea they became far less appealing to me. That said, I’m not entirely a purist, and I enjoy a good flavored tea, particularly flavored blacks.

I like all kinds of tea depending on time of day, mood, and the amount of time I have to pay attention to preparation.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. I’m revising them slightly to make them less granular as I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas against other similar versions. So I rate Earl Greys, for example, against other Earl Greys, rather than against all teas. If something rates very high with me, though, it probably means it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is; will keep this stocked until the cows come home

90-94 First rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Excellent; likely to become a favorite, will likely buy more

70-79 Very good; would enjoy again, might buy again if in the mood for this particular one or a better, similar version not available

60-69 Good; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but probably wouldn’t buy again unless craving this particular flavor

50-59 Okay or run of the mill

Below 50 So-so, iffy, would definitely pass
or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.


Bay Area, California



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