I’ve had this sample for a while now and I’m finding myself on a rather aggressive, unplanned plan to whittle down my samples. I’d like to reach an equilibrium where I have made enough determinations about what I like and what I can pass on from each company I’ve got samples from so I can start focusing on the nuances of the things that have made the initial cut.

Seems like that is still a long way off, though. I think it’s fair to say I’ve accomplished that goal with The NecessiTeas and am close to accomplishing it with TeaFrog. I’m probably there with Herbal Infusions and The Jade Teapot as well. Oh, and Golden Moon. But I’m a long way away with pretty much everyone else.

I’m looking forward to this, though, because I have yet to have a Life In Teacup experience that has been disappointing. And I have a lot of their stuff left to try.

I could smell smokiness when I opened up the packet. A gentle smokiness, not lapsang or even Russian smokiness. The leaves are dark for the most part, with some lighter brown ones.

The aroma of the steeped tea isn’t noticeably smoky. It does have a warm bread thing going on, though. Very nice. Comforting. There’s a bit of woodiness to it as well.

The taste is really interesting. V. complex. I can taste some smoke around the edges. I am actually visualizing pastrami, strange as it sounds — with that smoky outline/border around the meat. The tea, however, does not taste like pastrami. It has a little initial sharpness, but after the first few sips it is generally fairly smooth, with a sweetness in the tail. There’s that woodiness that was in the aroma, and the warm bread flavor too. The two together have a toasty quality to them. I’d almost say there’s some fruit in there as well. A little apricot maybe? Though it’s smooth and complex, it isn’t full bodied in how I think of that term, it seems more medium bodied to me. The mouth feel has a briskness that militates against a full bodied experience as well.

Another great experience from Life In Teacup. This will go on my shopping list for sure.

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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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