953 Tasting Notes


Trying this one in the gaiwan, and the first few steeps seemed pretty light. I wonder whether it’s a property of Indian oolongs that they need longer steeps than Chinese ones?

The flavor started to get stronger at around the third steep, which was a minute. Longer steeps are better with this one. I got a nice stone fruit-grapey flavor without any sharp edges. It was as though the sharp Darjeeling-y smell of the aroma had had its edges filed off in the flavor. The leaves on this one looked a uniform milk-chocolaty brown after steeping, with some nicely formed whole leaves and a lot of broken ones. For some reason they made me think of autumn.

Everyone at my house is in the other room watching the Oscars. I have, as per the usual schedule, a writing assignment due (and as per usual these days, I haven’t done it yet). I am having such a love/hate relationship with writing these days. Sigh.

Sami Kelsh

I know the feeling about writing. I’ve been burnt out for ages with all the cover letters I’ve had to write – makes writing, like, real stuff that much harder. Blech.

You can do it! You can write! I’m kicking myself that my bag of this darjeeling didn’t fit in my luggage when I moved to Manchester because it is nice!


Thanks, Sami!

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drank Pu Erh Dante by Adagio Teas
953 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 110 of the year 2014. My inaugural use of the Yixing pot!

It may not have been the best choice because I had very little left, not really enough to fill the 140 ml pot to one third or so. But I chose it because I had tasted it fairly recently and remembered what it tasted like well enough to compare the taste from the porcelain gaiwan to the clay pot.

This is a fascinating experiment in so many ways. First, there’s a definite effect on the taste of the tea. Though the tea is underleafed and a little watery tasting, it is also somewhat rounder than I recall it tasting before. So the clay is doing something. I just can’t tell how much of the taste difference is because of the underleafing or whether some of it is the pot drawing flavor into the clay. The little pot pours fast and very evenly! I expected to taste some clay, but I don’t really.

I got a little worried when I did the “clink” test on the pot because it doesn’t ring like a bell. It has a high pitched metallic clink, but not the ringing sound I heard on this Youtube video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_OoIxP5zYE

I was impressed, though, by how quickly the water I poured on the outside of the pot was absorbed into the clay rather than rolling down the sides. Really fast. And I sniffed the pot (okay it had tea in it but still) after pouring hot water over it and it really does smell like a hot rock rather than something muddy or earthy. I take all of this as signs it’s a good little pot for the price.

While I was enjoying this experience, I might have accidentally ordered another pot or two from Yunnan Sourcing.

If you don’t see me online for a while it’s because the BF has tied my hands together to keep me from ordering more teaware. He very rightly made the comment that the whole point of us drinking tea was to clear space in the house, which I’ve been filling with teaware purchases, and which can’t be sipped down. I can safely say, though, that the ratio of space taken by tea to teaware at this point is probably about ten to one at least, so I can stop now (or soon) and still come out ahead. ;-)


Omg what have you ordered fr YS? I’ve been I that site for hours deciding on a pot.


You go girl!!! I am living my yixing wants vicariously until I order my own…i’ve been eye-balling some Mandala teaware…

Sami Kelsh

Heehee, who needs space when you can have an abundance of teaware? Priorities!


Glad I’m not the only one who participated in successful experiments today!


I might have accidentally done the same thing. I ordered another one and then while I was at Zhi yesterday – they made me a screaming deal on the adorable one you see in my photo. So um, yeah. Three.


Oh and um, I have a pu-erh cake coming too.


I may have accidentally ordered the Golden Zhu Ni Dragon Egg and the Bao Lan Zhu Ni Yu Lan….




scribbles, which of the Mandala are you eyeing? Sami, heh, I am with you on the priorities, but we really do need to reclaim some space in the kitchen. Just to a manageable level. ;-) Keychange, yes, I, too, am glad that we both had successful experiments today!

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I don’t think I’ve ever steeped a green tea for this long since my first really awful attempts to steep green tea before I started reading about teas and their various needs. But every single tasting note about this tea indicates at least a 4 minute steep time and Rishi recommends even longer. So I’m giving it a try at 4, figuring the worst that can happen is I get a really bitter, undrinkable mess and I just try again. I’m keeping the temp low, though Rishi recommends 185.

And miracle of miracles, it’s not bitter at all. But I’m not getting as much flavor as I’d hoped for reading others’ notes. I’m not worried, though. I figure I can try a higher temp and/or use gram weight rather than a spoon as I may have underleafed. Then again, it could just be that this is old. It was in a sealed packet, but even so.

I get grass/hay scent from the packet, a butter-vegetal aroma, and a sweet, vaguely floral green flavor. There’s some nuttiness in the after sip, though not very strong,

Not rating for now. I think I can do better with this.

175 °F / 79 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

it’s definitely not you. i’m not sure what to make of the flavor on this one.. it’s got a slight ‘corn’ aroma, at least to me, and i think it was mentioned by one other person. apart from that i don’t get any distinct character from this! i feel it’s so light, it’s kinda not there lol…i did get a second steep out of this one, and it tasted pretty much the same…and the leaves opened up some more. but this doesn’t really feel like a green tea, does it?

i was so taken in by the name, too… ‘Emerald Lily’…but the color is anything but green!


Whew, good to know it’s not just me. I’m determined to get more flavor out of this puppy somehow.

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I felt like having an unflavored black tea and realized I hadn’t yet tried this.

In the tin, the leaves have an earthy, almost cocoa smell to them which made me think Assam, but it wasn’t until steeped this that I was sure. I also did a Google search for Banaspaty to confirm, but it’s pretty clear from the aroma alone that this is an Assam.
It has what I consider to be a typical Assam aroma, sort of a sharp almost coffee ground-like note across the top with a malty undercurrent. It’s a pretty color, almost a Ceylon red.

The description says this is delicate, but to me it’s not. Then again, it’s not overly heavy either. Its got a medium-full body and is very flavorful, without being super astringent or having a lot of bite like some Assams. Something about it makes me think of trees, deciduous ones, not evergreens (it’s not piney, but it is leafy). There is a cocoa-like note and a honey-like one, and there’s a light maltiness.

I’ve honestly forgotten how and on what basis I’ve rated the Assams I’ve had in the past so I’m rating this one in something of a vacuum. It’s very nice, definitely in the high very good/low excellent range.

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

Maybe you can have an Assam-off.


(Sometimes I laugh my Assam-off!) I think I would have to have a big piece of creamy pie or something to coat my stomach first but I wouldn’t say it’s out of the question. ;-)


LOL. Also ‘banaspaty’ is an amazing word.


Yes. And anything with bliss in the title. You can never have too much bliss!

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Another of my 52Teas that were purchased a while ago but unopened, in this case until today.

Orange is one of those flavors that I really love, but often isn’t done as well as I was hoping, giving a baby aspirin or Orange Crush flavor instead of a well done orange pastry or fresh citrus flavor. In the packet this smells highly flavored so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

But I liked it! The orange has a sort of fizziness without being fizzy like an orange soda, both in the aroma and in the flavor, but not in an annoying way. I didn’t get a lot of creaminess until the tea began to cool, but once it did it added a mellowing note. The tea itself wasn’t overly apparent in this cup, perhaps because I was thinking a lot about the orange dreamsicle flavor (and I was drinking this while watching Escape Plan on pay per view) and not really about the underlying tea flavor. I’ll have to taste for that more next time.

I had no “food tea” aversion either, so that’s good. Looking forward to trying this one again. High marks for living up to its flavor name.

Flavors: Orange Zest

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML

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Sipdown no. 109 of the year 2014. I think I will be able to get another sipdown besides this one in without damaging my sipdown preparation queue too much.

This wasn’t at all a difficult sipdown. I just thought that since I have several 52Teas pouches from the old days open now (and more I haven’t yet opened) I should try to avoid keeping the number of open ones from growing. I have one that’s looking like it is perfect for St. Patrick’s day still in the unopened category so I’m hoping to work it so that I keep the number of opened ones from growing but can still get to that one on time.

This one is going out on a high note. It’s very chocolately and very raisiny today. Still not my favorite flavor, but as I said, an easy sipdown.

In other news, I seasoned my Yixing last night for shu pu erh. I don’t know whether I did it right but I know I followed the instructions. I can’t wait to give it a spin. I’ve already pulled a bunch of shus out of my stash to decide among.

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drank Peppermint by Teavana
953 tasting notes

Waiting for the little Yixing to finish its tea bath and wimp that I am, it’s now 9 p.m. so I’m switching to decaf. I came very close to having a rooibos but then I remembered I had this and hadn’t had a straight mint for a while.

It was the right choice. This is a nice peppermint with a fresh taste and a peppery minty aftertaste that lasts and lasts. Certainly doesn’t taste like dirt, and isn’t really earthy at all. It’s making the backs of my teeth feel clean, too.

It’s a nice relaxing flavor to start the transition to sleepy time.

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Sipdown no. 108 of the year 2014.

The peachy note came out really nicely tonight, during multiple short steeps in the gaiwan. I did the first three at 30 seconds and the rest at 45 while watching the David Duckler video on how to season a Yixing over and over.

The pot’s on to boil now and I’m gonna give it a try. Wish me luck!


That’s so exciting! Someday I will be brave/un-lazy enough to get a yixing…


Hehe. If I can do it anyone can. ;-) I have successfully (I think) boiled and steeped and now the little pet is submerged in a bath of tea. I don’t think I’ll be able to stay awake long enough for the whole thing to cool to room temperature to take it out. I don’t think it would hurt it to stay in overnight, though. It might even help.


Good luck! I’m still thinking about Yixing….


I’m still dreaming of my Yising too…


good luck, it’s easy!


my new yixing spent the night in a bowl of oolong and is drying now, waiting for its first steep


Awesome MzPriss. I finished my project last night, too!


I’m gonna have my first oolong in it when I get home from brunch today. I suspect it will be pretty light as the pots are supposed to steal the flavor for a while

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drank Tropical Peony by Tavalon Tea
953 tasting notes

I’m worried because in the container the dry leaves smells an awful lot like White Tropics from Adagio. I really didn’t like that one at all.

I went low on temp and steeping time despite the instructions because 175 for a minute has worked v. well for some other flavored whites I’ve had recently.

I get a lot of coconut from the steeped aroma, and it’s a really good one. Deep and rich and not fakey or cloying. I don’t get a lot of pineapple though. The liquor is a clear, light yellow color.

Yay! This is not tasting like White Tropics. It’s very coconutty, in a green coconut as opposed to toasted coconut way, but only slightly sweet. Thankfully, it doesn’t remind me of cut flower stems that have been in water too long like the Adagio did. I’m not really tasting any pineapple, I don’t think. Maybe just a hint.

It’s a good flavored white tea, and if the idea of a green coconut flavored white tea appeals to you, you would likely be happy with this.

But I’m not really hopping up and down at the thought of having a coconut white tea in my cupboard. It doesn’t seem like something I’d pick to drink often. Who am I kidding, I doubt I’d ever pick it. The coconuts I tend to like are in flavored blacks and usually accompanied by another flavor, like chocolate.

It may find itself being my commuting tea as I seem to have quite a bit of it. Sometimes I look at the things I bought and the quantities in which I bought them and wonder what the hell I was thinking.

But at least I finished phase one of the redoing the drawers project for today, and I’m happy with that progress. I did not get to the garage yet. We’ll be going on the baseball trouser excursion in about half an hour so that will probably have to wait until tomorrow.

Maybe tonight I can sneak in some time to season the little Yixing…..

Flavors: Coconut

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML

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Sipdown no. 107 of the year 2014. I barely had enough left in this sample for a single cup.

I’m liking this again today, enough to put on the list in case I ever get out of lockdown and order from Shanti again. It’s different from other green teas I’ve had and fills a nice gap in the green tea flavor gamut.

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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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