drank Yunnan Golden Buds by Samovar
1184 tasting notes

I was scared to try this tea. It’s such a big favorite here on Steepster, I felt awed and intimidated by its very existence. It’s like being in the presence of a celebrity.

On the one hand, I’m glad I looked at the notes for it before I tried my sample. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have known to give it a try at 175. On the other hand, wow. Such (almost universally) high numbers! Am I worthy?

Pretty leaves with those golden tips punctuating the darkness of the leaves. My smeller is off today, so I don’t get much from smelling the dry leaves. But the aroma of the steeped tea is incredibly complex. Sugary, fruity, buttery and smooth.

The sugar flavor is a very distinctive type of sugar. I know from whence the reference to yams comes. Last Thanksgiving, when the rest of the family was having some sort of goopy yam concoction with marshmallows and pineapple, I, on a restrictive diet, stuck a half yam, sliced longitudinally, in the oven to bake and eat plain. When I checked on it, the sugar in the potato had bubbled up from the orange meat, fallen to the bottom of the oven and carmelized there giving the most amazingly delicious smell. That’s the sugar I taste here.

It marks a return to the preternatural smoothness of Samovar blacks following a slight detour with the Ceylon Super Single.

I understand the high ratings on this. It has depth, body, character, all the things I look for in a tea.

I need to sit with this one for a while, taste it multiple times. On this first tasting when I’m tired and stressed, I fear I’m not in the frame of mind to give it its true due. But oh, how I am looking forward to getting to know this tea.

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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I got obsessed with tea in 2010 for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it. 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 write fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I drink tea without additives. If a tea needs milk or sugar to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’ll rate it high. The exception is chai, which I drink with milk/sugar or substitute. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs, but as my tea skills and tastes developed they became far less appealing to me. I do not mix well with tulsi or yerba mate, and savory teas are more often a miss than a hit with 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. But I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas in relation to others of the same type, for example, Earl Greys against other Earl Greys. But if a tea rates very high with me, it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is

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

80-89 Excellent; will likely buy more

70-79 Very good; would enjoy again, might buy again

60-69 Good; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but likely won’t buy again

Below 60 Meh, so-so, iffy, or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

People have sent me tea on occasion, and I was once persuaded to send some Tazo Om to AmazonV. I’ve also done at least one group buy here on Steepster, the famous Doulton-led Dammann Freres experiment years ago. But mostly, I don’t swap. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I have way more tea than any one person needs and am not lacking for new things to try. Also, I have way too much going on already in daily life and the additional commitment to get packages to people adds to my already high stress level. (Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.)

That said, I enjoy reading folks’ notes, talking about what I drink, and getting to “know” people virtually here on Steepster so I can get ideas of other things I might want to try if I can ever again justify buying more tea. I also like keeping track of what I drink and what I thought about it, though I don’t put samples in my cupboard and not everything I have at any given time is showing in my cupboard. I do try to remember to remove things from my cupboard once I no longer have them.

I was an early internet adopter and have been online in various environments since around 1990. Steepster is one of the nicest online environments I’ve ever been privileged to participate in and that is saying something. :-)


Bay Area, California



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