1166 Tasting Notes


Not quite done with my confectionery tea fix for the morning. I thought about having the Teavana Almond Biscotti, but then I saw that I had some of this so decided to try it instead.

In the packet it smells very similar to the Teavana. Which in turn was pretty much identical to the SpecialTeas Almond Cookie, which in turn was similar to American Tea Room Brioche.

I did this before in a previous note, but just for fun, let’s compare:

Teavana Almond Biscotti—Black tea, almond pieces, cinnamon pieces, and safflower blossoms

SpecialTeas Almond Cookie (and yes, I read the thread about SpecialTeas being a provider to Teavana and that maybe being part of why they aren’t around anymore)—tea, almonds, cinnamon, flavouring, safflower blossoms

American Tea Room Brioche—well-oxidized ebony leaves are contrasted with pale, sliced almonds, bits of cinnamon and vermillion-colored safflower blossoms.

Guess what Amaretti Cookie has? Black tea, almonds, cinnamon, and safflowers.

One of the things I like about these blends is the safflowers.They brighten the tea up and make it look festive. Red is particularly fetching among the black leaves. I’m not sure how and what they contribute to the taste. In fact, I’m not sure I know what safflowers taste like.

The tea is a medium golden brown and translucent, but is not clear. The aroma has an interesting citrus note to it but otherwise smells like almond cookies.

Flavor. Well, it’s definitely almond-y, more pastry than cookie, I think. Rather like an almond croissant and very tasty, but the first sip did a bit of a throat grab on me. I should perhaps steep this at my usual 3:30 instead of 4, but I thought I’d go with the package directions to start. I also wonder what a slightly lower temperature would do.

It’s got a pretty amazing aftertaste. Like what I taste after eating almond pastries such as bear claws. It’s a juicier flavor than the Amaretto Cookies I’ve had (the kind that come in the red tin, individually wrapped in paper that is fun to set on fire, but don’t try that at home, kids). Those are crisper, in my recollection.

I haven’t had either the Teavana or the ATR versions in a while, though the SpecialTeas is sadly, no more.

I’m not sure I’m ready to unseat Brioche as my favorite in this genre, but this is a good tea and I’m glad to have it available as an alternative. Rating it the same as the Teavana and SpecialTeas in this genre.

Flavors: Almond, Cookie, Pastries

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

Ohhhh, Brioche has a new challenger.


Not quite, but it’s good!

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Exciting! In going through my tea stash yesterday, I found some of this! I can’t believe I never wrote a note about it because I know how much I like it. In fact, I was lying in bed this morning thinking about what tea I wanted with breakfast and this one came to mind first and wouldn’t leave.

It smells amazing in the tin, deep and rich caramel aroma, which makes me think of colors like chocolate brown. No. 2 smelled it and immediately said he wanted some, so I made enough for him to have some (but he left to go get pancakes before it was done steeping, so great, more for me).

The aroma of the steeped tea lightens up quite a bit into more of a candy caramel, which makes me think of colors like coffee and tan. That’s also where the vanilla note comes in. The tea is a clear maple color, not murky like some caramel teas, where the caramel bits melt and turn the liquor to sludge.

The flavor is just as I remembered it. Very obviously caramel, but not overpowering, and not just riding the surface or otherwise glommed on. The tea itself isn’t overly strong and is fairly smooth. I might steep it a bit longer next time and see what that does. Yes, I’m overjoyed that I have enough to enjoy more cups of this! I can see why I was hoarding it, as it is one of the last of the LiberTEAS teas, but it’s one of those things where I’m going to have to bite the bullet and drink it or risk that it be discovered fossilized in an archaeological dig in the far distant future.

Flavors: Caramel, Vanilla

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML

Sounds so lovely!

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drank Tiramisu Treviso by Teavana
1166 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 199. After last night, there was only enough left for a couple of cups so it became a prime sipdown candidate.

I’ve been sticking my unaccounted for teas into my Steepster cupboard, both because a desire to be anal about it overtook me and because it is helping me to remember what I have. My cupboard has grown tremendously as a result, so it is nice to have something to take out instead of put in.

It’s a good tisane, and I’m now pretty happy with how true it is to its name. So I’m rating it high.

At the moment though, it’s not something I’m ready to put on the shopping list. Lately I find myself favoring fruity tisanes rather than desserty ones, so though it’s definitely something I’d put on the list were I in the mood for something like it, I’m just not in the mood.

In other news, I did go to The Force Awakens today. I’d forgotten how much I like going to the movies by myself.

It was great fun, and so much better than the prequel trilogy. Much more in line with the original Skywalker trilogy. Han, Leia, and Luke may have just made it cool to be old. About time. ;-)

ETA: As it happens, this has been discontinued so even if I wanted to put it on my shopping list, I couldn’t.


I totally like going to the movies by myself too. So annoying how people say that you’re a loser if you do that. Uh no, it’s called not having an insecurity haha. And I’m glad to hear that it’s a lot better than the prequel trilogy since that really disappointed me.


LOL. I think people who think going to the movies by themselves makes them a loser don’t enjoy their own company, which means others probably don’t either, which makes them losers. See what I did there? You will like the movie. I am already planning to go see it again.


Friends at movies are important. They’re the people who nudge me awake when I inevitably get bored and nod off during the movie. :D


Hah! Well, this one, I feel sure, won’t be one you’ll sleep through if you’re at all a Star Wars fan!


Total logic, Morgana haha. Good sign you want to see it again!

I have a hard enough time falling asleep at night, in my own bed, pitch black and minimal noise, let alone in a public place!

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drank Yunnan Golden Needle by Andao
1166 tasting notes

Another tea company that sadly, is no more. I have a number of never opened teas from them and this is one of those.

Continuing to explore the Yunnans in my stash, and I was delighted to find that the leaves on this one are almost as golden as the Adagio ones and quite pretty. There’s a peppery, malty note to the dry leaves that makes me think this one holds a lot of promise.

The tea is a clear maple color and smells terrific. Chocolate, cocoa, malty, a little pepper, sweet molasses. It tastes just like it smells. A little drying on the tongue, very smooth and clean in the finish. Pleasant, sweet arboreal aftertaste.

Very lovely indeed.

Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa, Malt, Molasses, Pepper, Sweet

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 500 OZ / 14786 ML

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drank Anastasia by Kusmi Tea
1166 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 198. A sample tin, but I also have a full sized one. I’m glad because I wasn’t ready to see this go. Not really an Earl Grey but somewhat reminiscent of one. Mild, pleasant, and a great way to ease into the morning.

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drank Tiramisu Treviso by Teavana
1166 tasting notes

Well, tonight it sure tastes like Tiramisu. I see I didn’t think much of its ability to mimic the dessert a while back, but I’m going to go out on a limb and venture a guess that the reason it tastes more like its name is we had pizza for dinner, and I had this afterward. Tomato sauce, garlic, and other Italian types of ingredients, i.e., the foods that typically prime the palate prior to eating the real deal. At least that’s how I usually have tiramisu. After a meal at an Italian restaurant.

Roswell Strange probably knows whether this is the reason from a scientific standpoint, but I like my unscientific logic. ;-)

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Made a lot of this today at the BF’s request. Steeped hotter and longer, and this time the flavor was noticeably different, so much so that even with his cold he tasted the difference. What I found most interesting was a citrus note, something suggestive of mandarin orange maybe? As well as a very mild nuttiness.

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drank Lung Ching by Harney & Sons
1166 tasting notes

I look back on my initial note on this with amusement. Between then and now I have learned to appreciate green tea in general far more, and Dragonwell in particular.

For one thing, I was seriously underleafing when I first tried Dragonwell. I was using a spoon as a measurement rather than gram weight which undoubtedly resulted in underleafing given the size of Dragonwell leaves, and then I found out that the gram weight I was using (2.5 g per cup, which is pretty standard) is about .5g less than what one should ordinarily use to steep Dragonwell. Once I got the leafing right, things fell into place.

One thing that’s still true for me, though, is that Dragonwell is different from other green teas; I get less butter than with many others and it doesn’t taste like run off from cooked vegetables so much as it does actual vegetables. It’s interesting that Harney mentioned eggplant. Not sure I would have come up with that on my own, but with the power of suggestion, I certainly understand what they mean. Bumping the rating.


Eggplant is an interested choice, I agree. Dragon well is so different. I get a sourness from them too? Definitely an acquired taste.

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Sipdown no. 197. A sample.

I am slowly but surely making headway in the oolong sample department, aided by the fact that many of these are single-serving size samples. (Say that 5 times fast.)

This has the tightly rolled medium to lighter green look I expect from this type of tea, but what’s interesting is the aroma of the dry leaves. A really gorgeous floral note in there. Again, it makes me want to say lilac, though I am not great at identifying individual floral notes except for rose, gardenia, and jasmine. I rinsed it and steeped in the gaiwan at 195 beginning at 15 seconds and adding 5 seconds each time.

1. Light, greenish yellow, clear color. Milky, light floral aroma. Mild, light, green taste with a hint of butter and a floral aftertaste.

2. Yellower in color. More milky than floral, and there is a vegetal note. Folks have found asparagus and cabbage notes in this. For me it’s more cabbage than asparagus. Come to think of it, cabbage can have a note that straddles vegetable and dairy. There’s a slight green piquancy to it, as with cabbage so I think that’s what I’m tasting here. But I love cabbage, so to me that’s a good thing.

3. Color is more golden and less green this steep. The aroma has turned quite buttery. The dairy/vegetable straddle note is there and more intense this time, with flowers in the finish.

4. A straight up yellow color. Definitely cabbage in the aroma, more on the green side than the dairy side with that sort of nutty flavor quality that cabbage can have. It’s pretty complex, though. The flavors seem to change from sip to sip, sometimes they’re more heavily floral than others.

5. Brighter straight yellow, smell like buttery cabbage.

The leaves expanded nicely between steeps 1 and 2, and had pretty much completely unfurled by steep four. They steeped leaves are olive green in color and have a bitter green smell, a bit like collard greens.

This is an interesting one. It’s not as sweet and creamy as some I’ve had, more vegetal with that interesting cabbage note. I enjoyed it and its differences. I don’t like it better than some of the tie guan yins I’ve had, but it’s very good and I’d drink it again.

I would love to do oolongs all afternoon, but my taster needs a break as does my bladder. I think I might read for a while.

Flavors: Butter, Flowers, Milk, Vegetables

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Sipdown no. 196. A large tin.

I thought about giving this another shot in the gaiwan or yixing, but decided I didn’t have the patience as it hadn’t been a stellar performer in either in the past. Too much tea, too little time. I’d rather just move on. There are other shous.

So I rinsed it and then steeped it in the Breville. Not a lot to report other than it is warm and inoffensive.

But the best news: I found my Timolino! Yay!

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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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