1178 Tasting Notes

drank Golden Yunnan by Sanctuary T
1178 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 217. This is from the second of three Sanctuary T samplers, the Pure Tea Sampler.

I was looking forward to this given how much I love Yunnans, but I am afraid I screwed up the steeping quite royally.

I decided to steep at a lower temperature (190) than usual given that lately I’ve been having pretty good luck steeping tippy Yunnans that way, but that did not work at all well for this one. Instead of the usual malty sweet flavor, I got a washed out version without any real sweetness to speak of.

Accordingly, I am not going to rate it.


ETA: No. 2 asked to try it and really loved it. So there is that.

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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drank Cacao Mint Black by Teavana
1178 tasting notes

I think this may be the only Teavana tea left that I haven’t written about. I am not sure I tried it before today.

There are no surprises here. It smells like chocolate mint in the dry leaf, and in the steeped tea. In the steeped tea’s aroma, the mint is stronger than the chocolate. This is also true of the flavor. I wonder whether it’s just the luck of the spoon, though. It’s possible a different spoonful would yield more chocolate. I should probably shake up the tin before scooping next time.

It’s ok. There’s nothing objectionable about it. And, as I said, there are no surprises. It’s just not spectacular.

Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa, Mint

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML
Maddy Barone

That’s how I felt about it. Not terrible, but not anything I need to re-fill. Tippy’s Tea has Minted Monkey which I much prefer.


Yeah, I know I’ve had better chocolate mints. Harney’s has a good one.

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drank Sweet Fruit Garden by Teavana
1178 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 216.

I am fairly certain I got this as a tea of the month. I’ve had it before, and I remember when: the BF’s mom was visiting. However, I don’t remember much else about it because any time she visits it’s sort of stressful. They don’t get along very well.

I heaped up the spoons on this because my experience with Teavana fruit blends is that heaping is required.

The blend looks just like the picture, and it smells sweet and fruity, but not like any particular fruit. Which makes sense given the ingredient list. There’s not much they didn’t include.

I know I’m going to like this because it’s been discontinued. LOL.

And I do like it. It has a lot in common with Caribbean Breeze, notably the color, which is a deep, wine red, and the hibiscus which is, with over-leafing (which is really overfruiting here) noticeable but not too tart, bitter, or otherwise offensive. In fact, this blend has a nice sweetness to it. On the other hand, I am not able to distinguish separate fruit flavors. But that’s ok, actually. I get an overall berry flavor, which has a raspberry bent. I think it is the papaya that is sweetening things up.

So yeah, I like this. And it is discontinued. :-)

Flavors: Berry, Hibiscus

Boiling 7 min, 30 sec 5 tsp 42 OZ / 1250 ML

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drank Spring Harvest by Sanctuary T
1178 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 215. The fourth sample in the Sanctuary Sampler.

Another mixed leaf tea that has me a bit baffled as to how to steep it. This is a green and white tea mix, and I chose to steep it at a slightly higher temperature than I usually do for greens but at the same duration because I don’t want to spoil it by having it turn bitter.

In the packet it smelled fruity (it’s a passion fruit flavored tea). The green leaves look like sencha and the white leaves… hmmm… not sure. Probably white peony, but the leaves are pretty dark so it is hard to tell.

It’s a light amber colored tea with some of the sencha floaters I always get with the Breville but otherwise a clear liquor. It mostly smells of passion fruit, but in a good way. Not a fakey or overpowering fragrance.

Interesting. The flavor is very similar to the Geisha Beauty of yesterday (a black/green blend with peach flavoring). The main difference is in the fruit flavoring. To my taste buds, this passion fruit is better than that peach was. It’s subtle and fresh tasting, and though it isn’t quite juicy, it’s got a sweetness to it that is reminiscent of the fruit itself.

Therefore, I’m rating it a bit higher than the Geisha Beauty. But in a similar vein, this isn’t the sort of thing I usually drink. I find mixed teas with different steeping times and temps pretty intimidating unless they come with very detailed instructions for getting the best possible result, and I can’t see myself choosing a mixed tea given other choices that I have a certain degree of steeping confidence with.

Still, it’s tasty, and if you have the daring for this type of thing and like passion fruit you might want to give it a try.

Flavors: Passion Fruits, Sweet

180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

Passionfruit you say? Onto the wishlist it goes. :)

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drank Formosa Ali Shan by Adagio Teas
1178 tasting notes

I had a totally klutzy moment and knocked over the first infusion of this. Ugh.

It’s rolled up and fragrant in the tin and 5g of leaves in the gaiwan didn’t seem like much volume. But the leaves did quite an unfurl, and ended up filling the gaiwan by the end of the session.

It has a sweet dairy/floral fragrance in the cup. Very light yellow liquor. Almost colorless on the first infusion. A little more color on subsequent infusions.

I think it might be worth my while to try a Taiwan green oolong in proximity to a China green oolong to see if I can make a generalization about the differences. So far it seems to me the Taiwan ones are somewhat less buttery and more perky, but that’s based on a rather small sample and a rather unscientific comparison.

The second infusion was sweetly floral with a tad of bitterness at the end of the sip. Not an unpleasant bitterness, just a bit of vegetable bitterness like some greens have.

The third steep is similar. There’s a freshness to the taste that is quite nice.

I took it through my usual five steeps and enjoyed it. But it does seem to be a bit of a johnny one note. Not a lot of complexity to this one, not a lot of evolution from steep to steep. Which is ok, sometimes. It might make a good western style steep given that not a lot seems to be gained by multiple short steeps.

Flavors: Floral, Milk


sounds yummy :)

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drank Anhui Keemun by Adagio Teas
1178 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 214. Much better today for some reason. Perhaps my taster was off the other day.

It probably helps that I just came back from working out and from taking a walk to grocery shop. Over 13K steps already and it’s not even 1 p.m. here. Yay me. It was brisk out, and this tea seems to go particularly well with brisk weather.

Of course, for all you Canadians, I realize brisk is a relative term. ;-)

I’m looking forward to trying more of the Keemuns in my stash to see how they compare. It is entirely possible that Adagio has a special Keemun here, it’s just that my comparative knowledge of Keemuns isn’t great enough to be able to say for certain and my having recently concluded that I agree with those who view them as a sort of “starter” tea company militates against that.

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drank Carnival by Sanctuary T
1178 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 213. The third sample in the Sanctuary Sampler.

One thing I will say about Sanctuary T’s teas: they’re visually interesting. This one had what looked like red peppercorns in it. It smelled a little nutty, a little cocoa-y in the packet. After steeping it’s a light orange brown color and I can smell the almonds.

I love pistachios, and I’m not sure I’ve ever had them in tea. I’m also not sure I can taste them distinctly in this tea, but the overall effect is delicious. It’s a spice tea, but it isn’t too spicy and there’s no single spice that is yelling at the top of its lungs, probably because it doesn’t contain cinnamon, clove, or anise, all of which have a tendency to do that. As the tea cools, I can smell and taste the cumin and the coriander, which is pretty interesting. Cumin could have the yelling at the top of its lungs tendency but it’s quiet and enjoyable here.

There’s a softness to the mouthfeel, and a pleasant nutty-sweet aftertaste.

It’s really good. But like the Geisha Beauty of yesterday I’m not sure it’s something I’d drink a lot. Flavored teas with this sort of profile lean toward chai for me and I’m not sure how often I’d pick something like this over chai assuming I had the time to make chai. But I could see it happening. Plus, I drank this without additives and it didn’t need them.

Flavors: Almond, Coriander, Nuts, Spices

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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drank Formosa Pouchong by Adagio Teas
1178 tasting notes

I see I liked this the last time I tried it. Today, I’m giving it another go, this time gong fu style in the gaiwan with slightly hotter water as I’ve been enjoying the way water a bit hotter than 195 brings out different flavors in my oolongs.

Lovely flavor, fresh, floral and a little milky on the first steep. A little more buttery on the second. After the second, I stopped taking notes and just enjoyed.

I am wondering whether it make sense to have separate yixings for Taiwan oolongs or not. Anyone have any thoughts on that? I.e., green Taiwan oolongs in one yixing, dark in another, green Chinese oolongs in another, dark in a fourth. I ask because I went a bit nuts on teaware and although I’ve seasoned a light and dark China oolong pot, I have several more pots that I haven’t dedicated yet and am trying to decide what to do with.



If you have the teaware, then why not? :)


I like how you think. :-)

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drank Geisha Beauty by Sanctuary T
1178 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 212. The second in the Sanctuary Sampler.

I am always puzzled by how to steep teas that mix different types of tea with different steeping temperatures and lengths. This is a black/green blend. I’m going just a tad hotter than usual for green, 180F, and the same length of time in the hopes that this doesn’t get bitter.

It smells very peachy in the sample packet. The leaves look sencha-esque. The tea is a light amber color and has some floaters in it, which I often find the case to be with sencha. Something about it manages to evade the Breville filter. It smells very peachy, with a vanilla edge. Given the ingredient list I would have expected some rose, but I don’t smell rose.

The tea is very pleasant tasting. There’s a sugary sweetness to it, as well as a peach/vanilla flavor. It’s not bitter at all at this temp. I don’t taste a lot of tea, but what I do taste is mostly the green, probably because I steeped at a low temperature and for a short time.

As flavored tea mixes go, this is a good one. I’m unlikely to purchase it in quantity simply because this isn’t the sort of thing I usually find myself wanting to drink, but that’s not a reflection of the tea’s flavor or quality.

Flavors: Peach, Sugar, Vanilla

180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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drank Anhui Keemun by Adagio Teas
1178 tasting notes

So, how long before they start naming teas after the characters in The Force Awakens? (They probably already have.)

My memory of this one is much different from how it tastes now, and I think perhaps I’m discovering that Keemun is more sensitive to age-related flavor change than other black teas because the same was true of the other Adagio Keemun I hoarded and have just recently sipped down.

In looking back at how I described the flavor of this one originally, I sort of get what I said then. Although there’s not so much of a leather element now, and what I described as bread now tastes to me like raw potato. The smoke is definitely still there, as is the mellowing in the aftertaste.

It’s not as great as it once was, but it isn’t the tea’s fault. On the upside, I don’t have to feel quite so guilty for sipping it down (I have enough for one serving left).

I was gonna say this is a sort of a Han Solo of a tea, bold, with an underlying sweetness and a surprising complexity. But Han definitely aged better than this did.

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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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