1184 Tasting Notes


Yesterday wasn’t as mega-productive as earlier in the week, though I did get a few things done (dental appointment, paid some bills, took care of some other personal business). Today started with working out (yay me), followed by some clean up work in my home office that I’ve been meaning to get to forever. I’m in the midst of it now, punctuating it with things like figuring out where I can take my car to get some paint buffed out of it after a close encounter I had with a pole at a gas station (I am not proud of this, but in my defense, I was terribly stressed, and the station was more crowded than I’d ever seen it requiring me to try to squeeze by a pole to get to the pump and I didn’t quite make it), and submitting claims for medical bills I forgot to submit and hope they will get paid.

This is a nice companion to such work. Its a solid, full bodied blend that is almost, but not quite chewy. Yet it’s fairly smooth and not very astringent. No assam throat grab, and a sweet aftertaste. A nice yunnan-y brown sugar and malty aroma that also shows up in the flavor. Dark red-brown, clear liquor. Earthy smelling dry leaf.

It’s one of those breakfast blends that I enjoy drinking but don’t find overly distinctive. There’s nothing that stands out about it. On the other hand, I’m not sure every tea has to stand out. Sometimes you don’t want to think about what you’re drinking, you just want to taste it.

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Malt

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

Ooh, I need to do medical claims too. TY for the reminder. And here’s hoping yours gets paid!


I’m not sure about this one, as I can’t remember whether I have to submit them during the calendar year of service and this one was for a series of things for my son that started in December of last year and ended in January of this year. But what the heck, I’m submitting it. The worst that can happen is they don’t pay it.

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drank Ceylon OP by Sanctuary T
1184 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 220. The second in the Pure Tea Sampler. I hope this one turns out better. I almost steeped it at boiling but at the last minute decided to go with 205. So we’ll see.

It has the black, spidery leaves I associate with Ceylons and an earthy smell to the dry leaf.

The steeped tea is reddish brown and has a light, bready aroma. I didn’t find it moderately strong, as the description says. In fact, I found it rather on the light side, but pleasant in a definition of tea-ness sort of way. It’s got that leafy sweetness to it in the aftertaste that makes me think of how Nestea smells. I can see that this would be good iced. It would taste exactly like what my tastebuds would expect of an iced restaurant tea brewed on site.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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Sipdown no. 219. The rest of the sample. I agree with my original thoughts of yesterday. Not a favorite, but decent.

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Jasmine pearls. One of my absolute favorites.

I thought I’d written a note about this before, but I see I didn’t. I’ve obviously tried it before because the sample was opened. Regardless, the amazing scent of jasmine that comes out of the packet is still quite powerful.

It makes a very pale yellow tea, almost an off-white or cream colored clear liquor. The aroma is one hundred percent floral.

The flavor is lovely. I’m a sucker for jasmine greens in general and pearls in particular, and in going through my stash I’ve found a number of them. And quite a few other jasmines as well, oolongs and whites. This one has a subtle flavor that isn’t as overwhelmingly floral as its fragrance, with a green underlying flavor that leans toward grass rather than vegetables.

I’ll enjoy sipping this one down. It isn’t multi-layered and amazing like the Samovar version, but it’s very yum nevertheless.

Flavors: Grass, Green, Jasmine

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

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I had an extremely productive day yesterday. I made a ton of phone calls and sent a ton of emails to try to wrap up a lot of the stuff of daily living that I need to get under control before I start my new job. I also worked out and finally got no. 1 his cell phone, which was supposed to be a Chanukkah present but took a while because of some really awful bait and switch stuff that went on with the provider we originally thought would give us talk and text only and parental controls for him for $15 a month based on their web advertising, none of which turned out to be true. So I bit the bullet and got a more expensive plan added onto my existing one. But at least it is done and he is happy. Plus now he has no excuse for not calling if he’s not going to be where he says he is. :-)

But anyway. I may be getting jaded in my old age, but I haven’t been overly impressed by a lot of the tea I’ve been drinking lately.

Take this one, for example. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s a perfectly decent chocolate/coconut tea, on the juicy raw coconut end of the spectrum rather than the toasty toasted coconut end of the spectrum. But I’ve had so many of these over the years, most of which are at least decent, that none of them really stand out anymore.

In the packet it has that cocoa mint smell that coconut teas sometimes give off and I can see the little bits of flavored things in it. White chocolate chips, coconut flakes, cocoa bits and chocolate chips. Small ones. Predictably, given the sugary things in it, it steeps cloudy but otherwise a pretty generic tea color.

Now I want to say something about the aroma of coconut teas in general, not just this one. Do you find they generally don’t smell very good? I mean, I wouldn’t go this far, but the BF thinks coconut teas smell like vomit. I think they smell more like hot plastic, but in general, there’s something about the smell I don’t love.

That said, the aroma of coconut teas doesn’t usually affect the taste for me in a negative way. And it doesn’t here. It’s perfectly decent, and I would drink it if I couldn’t get another perfectly decent one that is perhaps a bit better to my taste, like the Premium Steap.

Flavors: Chocolate, Coconut, Mint

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

Such a busy little bee!

Have you tried David’s Chocolate Macaroon, and if so, which do you prefer, or how do they compare?


Bzzzzz. :-) Haven’t had the David’s. Is it good?


I personally really like it. It’s sweet but the flavours are nice and strong, and takes milk well. Makes a great latte.


alas, i have never tried a tea with coconut in it :/

lovely review though :D

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drank Watermelon by Sanctuary T
1184 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 218. A sample. The last of the Sanctuary T Sanctuary Sampler.

I have been out and about and haven’t had much tea today, and the tea I did have didn’t provide the best of experiences. Ah well. There are days like this.

This one is pretty funky. The dry mix looks like freeze dried apple to me rather than watermelon, not that I’ve ever seen freeze dried watermelon. It smells like dried fruit mix, with a rather appley note.

The steeped tisane has the most amazing color. It really is the color of a watermelon Jolly Rancher! It has a sweet, fruity aroma, though I’m not sure it’s watermelon I’m smelling.

Amazingly, though, in the flavor, I’m tasting watermelon. It’s more apparent as the brew cools down, mostly, I think, because it’s unusual to taste watermelon hot. And it’s not an in-your-face sort of watermelon or a watermelon candy flavor. It’s a subtle, sneaky flavor that seems like it’s going to be just a generic fruity something or other until the aftertaste kicks in, when that fresh, watery sweetness that’s a bit cooling in the mouth shows up.

I don’t think I’ve had a watermelon blend before and it strikes me as a fairly unusual flavor to attempt. Though I don’t know why I think that, especially since searching for watermelon on Steepster brings up a ton of products. I’ve had some Lupicia teas that do cantaloupe and honey dew pretty well. In any case, I’m pretty impressed that this pulls off the watermelon flavor, especially considering that watermelon is only one of several ingredients.

So I’m rating it pretty high because it lives up to its name.

Flavors: Fruity, Melon, Sweet

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

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drank Golden Yunnan by Sanctuary T
1184 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
1184 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
1184 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
1184 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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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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