1184 Tasting Notes

drank Yunnan Tippy Mao Feng by Andao
1184 tasting notes

Another of the Andao teas that I never got around to opening before the company went kaput.

At least I had the foresight to buy some yunnans.

This one has really pretty dry leaves. Long and twisty, with more dark than blond but still a nice variation in color from the tips. A malty, cocoa scent from the dry leaves.

The steeped tea is clear and brandy-colored, and it smells bready with a hint of pepper.

The flavor carries some of that breadiness over. It’s medium bodied, with a bit of perk to it. It isn’t sugary sweet like some yunnans, but it does have a gently sweet aftertaste. More cocoa than honey.

I’m going to enjoy sipping down this one.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Cocoa, Pepper

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 6 g 17 OZ / 500 ML

Oh, that sounds tasty.

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This is another sample from the pure T sampler, and the first of the Sanctuary T samples I haven’t sipped down in a single serving. It’s about 9g of tea, and that was too much for my gaiwan. So I get more than one shot at this one.

I expected this to be pretty much what I’ve experienced in other tieguanyins from the look of the dry leaves and their green, floral aroma.

But I started with hotter water, and the first steep after rinsing (15 sec) was more like a darker oolong. More of a roasted flavor than a floral/dairy one. The steeped tea does have a strong floral/dairy note, but it’s got a roastiness as well.

So I decided to go cooler for the next steep and see what that did. The water temperature didn’t seem to make much difference in the flavor. So I’m concluding that this is a medium or dark roast tieguanyin, rather than a green.

There’s an interesting toffee-like note to this, particularly in the finish, and once I stopped looking for the green oolong flavor, I could focus on the nuttiness of this one.

I took it through several more steeps, but I’m reserving the rating for now as I’m not sure how to classify this. I’ll think about it more and give it another try before rating.

I spent the morning going through papers that had piled up and have paper cuts on three out of five fingers on my right hand, so my notes are likely to be a bit shorter than usual for the next day or so. Ugh.

Flavors: Almond, Floral, Nutty, Toffee


may i post this review on my group in FB?

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Sipdown no. 12 of 2016 (no. 233 total). The rest of the sample.

I almost drank the Teavana Almond Biscotti. Then I almost drank the Brioche.

Then I thought, why do that when this one ties for second among the three and there’s enough to do a sipdown?


Excellent reasoning!

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Sipdown no. 11 of 2016 (no. 232 total). The rest of the sample.

Damn, that was fast. I was finishing my cup of this when no. 2 and the BF both asked to taste it and both requested that I make more immediately.

Now, it is gone.

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Time to try a new tisane. I have a few samples left, as the collection continues to get whittled down.

In the packet, it smells like some sort of baked good. Gingerbread, maybe? It’s not so chocolatey that I’d identify it as a chocolate aroma. The mixture looks heavy on the chocolate and caramel pieces and light on the honeybush and rosebuds.

Steeped, it smells boozy. A liqueur smell. Kahlua, maybe, though it has been a while since I had Kahlua. It has a tea-colored liquor that’s remarkably clear given the various sugary things in it that undoubtedly melted when steeped.

Fortunately, it doesn’t taste boozy. Well, at least not in the sip. There’s a bit of liqueur flavor in the aftertaste. The sip is mostly caramel, with some vaguely cocoa notes. It’s smooth and tasty, and a bit on the subtle side which I think improves it over what it might taste like if it was the sort of thing that hit you over the head. I can’t really taste the honeybush, which is a plus.

I was going to say I couldn’t really taste the torte, either, which would be a minus. But as it cools, I do get a suggestion of baked goods. Not as strong as the one in the Amaretti Cookie, but it is there.

This is the sort of thing I would have gone nuts for a few years back when I was marveling at the fact that a drink could taste like a decadent dessert without the calories. It’s good enough that it’s tempting me back toward desserty non-fruit tisanes tonight.

For that I rate it high, but I’m not sure it’s enough to make me completely buck my trend of late to crave fruity tisanes instead of desserty chocolate, caramel, cake, etc. ones.

Flavors: Alcohol, Caramel, Chocolate

Boiling 7 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

I had never had Kahlua, not being a coffee drinker and not really drinking alcohol much at all, but I got bored one night and saw a recipe on Pinterest for homemade Kahlua so I gave it a try. Oh my, that is tasty stuff! A few people have tried it and say it tastes like the real thing and they loved it. I mainly made it to go in recipes that call for it.


My dim recollection of Kahlua is that it tastes best with something creamy. There was a place in Boston when I was in law school that made an amazing drink that was almost like an ice cream sundae (though served hot) with carmelized sugar melted over the glass and all kinds of other things, and I think there was Kahlua in it. It was delicious and warming. I’ve had it “straight”-er in things like Black Russians and didn’t love it that way.

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Sipdown no. 10 for 2016 (no. 231 total).

After sipping my way through this, I can safely say that the ginger was more prominent than the lemon throughout, not just in the cup I wrote about initially. I continued to enjoy the ginger flavor in this, though I can’t say that in the last few cups I sipped down I got the effervescence impression that I mentioned initially. Perhaps that is a function of age (the tisane’s, not mine).

Flavors: Ginger, Lemon, Wet Wood

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drank Cacao Mint Black by Teavana
1184 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 9 of 2016 (no. 230 total). After saying I should shake up the tin to try to distribute the mint and chocolate more evenly, I forgot to do that every single time I had this until after I was already steeping. Oh well.

Not much to add. It’s more mint than chocolate, and it’s ok but not the best I’ve had.


Hi! What is a sipdown? I keep seeing that all over the place. Also, TTB?


Hi, Ekm. A sipdown is when you drink the last of the type of tea you’re writing a note on. I’m not sure who coined the term. For a while a group of us were referring to that sort of event as a “decupboarding,” but then “sipdown” sort of took off so I started using that terminology.

TTB stands for traveling tea box.


Oh, and I should add that the numbers in the sipdown counts can mean different things. For me, they’re the total number of containers of tea I’ve finished, whether those are large tins or single serving samples. I think some other people use them to indicate how many teas they have left in their stash after sipping down the tea they’re writing about. Or other things.


Thanks for your help :)

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Sipdown no. 8 of 2016 (no. 229 total). A sample. The second of the green tea sampler from Sanctuary T.

I was delighted to find jasmine pearls among the samples as they are such a favorite of mine. These smell very jasminey in the packet and steep to a very pale, clear yellow that is almost colorless. The jasmine is the primary note in the aroma as one might expect, and the same is true with regard to the flavor. The tea is quite mild in its jasmine-ness as well as in its tea-ness. Not bitter, or otherwise having any off notes. Just not very present, and the jasmine is rather light. It’s actually a good combination to have the jasmine light where the tea is also light. Otherwise you get a pasted on jasmine flavor, which this doesn’t have.

It’s a good jasmine pearls, but I prefer more depth to the underlying tea.

Flavors: Jasmine

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

I haven’t really tried any of these because green tea often makes me feel sick, but I’ve been eyeing various jasmine pearls for a while now. Can you recommend any that don’t use natural or artificial flavoring and that actually have jasmine flowers you can see?


I’ve had a number of jasmine pearls but I can’t vouch for whether they use any sort of flavoring or not. I am fairly sure from the description on their site that the Tavalon green jasmine (not pearls) which I liked a lot doesn’t use flavoring. Also, I recently drank an older sample of the Samovar jasmine pearls which I thought was terrific. As far as I can tell from the description on their site, they don’t use anything but flowers to scent the tea. Interestingly, though, the current site says they use a mix of green and white teas in their pearls, and the Steepster description says it’s classified as a green tea but actually uses a variety of white tea in the pearls. Which makes me wonder whether that’s why I found that one outstanding among the ones I’ve had.


Very interesting… Hm… I’ll check these out. I think they’d include it in the ingredients list if there were any flavorings, especially since this is something Western markets often demand. I need to look around. That one sounds good though.

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drank GenMaicha by Sanctuary T
1184 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 7 of 2016 (no. 228 total). A sample.

It has been a while since I had a genmaicha. I like them, when I’m in the mood for them. Since it’s still pretty early in the day, I thought I could risk turning to this one, which has matcha in it, after a couple of black teas this morning without ending up awake at four a.m. We shall see.

It makes a cloudy, yellow liquor that is quite pretty. It looks like liquid lemon drops. The aroma is mostly toasty rice, but with a seaweed/grassy tone as well.

One of the things I like about Genmaicha and also one of the reasons I have to be in the mood for it is that sometimes it can remind me of eating sushi. The green, vegetable, and seaweed tones combined with the rice tones can sometimes remind me of kappa maki (without the soy sauce, wasabi, and the need to chew).

This one gives me a bit of that experience. It’s tasty, not bitter, has quite a lot of toasty rice and is nicely balanced with the grass/seaweed flavor of the tea.

I am not sure I fully understand umami, but I would venture to say this has it.

Flavors: Rice, Seaweed, Toasty

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 500 OZ / 14786 ML

i love genmaicha

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Sipdown no. 6 of 2016 (no. 227 total). The rest of the sample.

It tastes particularly brisk and bright today, with honey in the aroma and in the finish. The assam throat grab is barely present. It teeters between being a great tea on the surface and something that has a bit more depth.

So here’s a question. When you’re tasting tea do you ever perceive distance in taste? I know some people taste colors, etc. but I noticed that I taste depths and heights. I find myself often saying something is “deep” or “on the surface” or has “high” notes. It’s like taking a VR walk through the taste, I guess, or it feels a little bit like that. Hmmm.


I hadn’t really thought about it, but I do! Some teas are cozy like being in a small warm room surrounded by loved ones, or remind me of walking through a forest, or feeling the sun and wind on your face under a cloudless blue sky. Sometimes when I say depth I really mean complexity, but sometimes it really a feeling like a shallow lake vs a deep one.


Right, I get the depth = complexity, too. Sometimes I feel more like it is spatial. Interesting.

Roswell Strange

Absolutely; I find I often perceive ‘layers’ of flavour as depth (top notes, body notes, base/support notes as well). Often I’ll use descriptors like “round flavour” to talk about something enjoyable or “flat” for something plain or less than stellar. I LOVE poetic language in regards to tea tasting (and most things in life) because it’s a really great way not to just convey the taste of a tea but the experience of drinking it.


I agree, I love reading unusual descriptions as well as the old standbys.

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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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