954 Tasting Notes


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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Another LeafSpa tea I’m pretty sure I bought because of the name. I thought it was cute. And the tea itself is cute, too. Like little twisty sticks of tea. Unicorn horns of tea.

I steeped it like any other green tea, and I don’t get the honey color that other notes have described. I get a standard issue pale yellow with green tinge green tea liquor with a vegetal aroma and a light, buttery vegetal taste. Lighter even than the bi luo chun of yesterday. It’s pleasant, but not terribly distinctive or interesting.

Just for laughs I think I’ll steep it longer and hotter net time and see if it produces a honey color in the cup.

I decided to look through my tea collection and see whether any of the other companies I bought from have gone out of business besides SpecialTeas, Andao and LeafSpa.

I found one more, The Simple Leaf, a much beloved company here on Steepster years ago for its Dawn, Mountain Malt, and other teas. I think everything else is still standing, though. That makes me happy.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 5 g 17 OZ / 500 ML

Oh yes, the legendary Dawn… I think Laoshan Black from Verdant is coming closest to being a replacement for it these days. I only ever had a swap sample of Dawn, but I seem to recall it being something along those lines.


I have a package of Dawn that I have been hoarding. One of these days (how many years from now?) I’ll be out of lockdown and can try the equally legendary Laoshan Black.


Oh you can do a comparison then, and tell me if I have a skewed memory of Dawn.


What’s the goal before you’re allowed to order things?


I am so far away from having a manageable amount of tea that I haven’t yet set one. I’m at 108 sipdowns for the year and haven’t really made a dent, though a lot of those were samples. I think I’ll at least have to get to 250 and probably more like 500 before I even start thinking about it.


Gosh. Things have really got away from you there, haven’t they? O.o


LOL, yes, just a little bit. ;-)

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Today’s first tea to see what it’s like not following an Earl Grey.

It’s definitely the way to go with this one, not having an echo of anything on your tongue already when you drink it. I’m getting much more chocolate flavor today, so it’s much more like chocolate covered raisins than generic fruity, black tea with a cocoa note.

And it’s not bad with a chocolate almond biscotti from Trader Joe’s (my breakfast). But the flavors do become a little confused.

Well, we’re off to start the insanity that is our Saturday. Breakfast on the go for the kids, kung fu and then shopping for baseball trousers (no. 1 gets a free pair and no. 2 gets 10% off at a local store). Then I have grand plans for rearranging and revitalizing the way my drawers are set up in the dresser and chest of drawers in the bedroom, and decluttering the garage. As I type this, I’m thinking maybe a nap instead…

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drank Lemon Grass by Adagio Teas
954 tasting notes

I ate too much tonight at the Italian place we went to. Ugh. Still, I am celebrating a 10 lb weight loss as of yesterday, and I don’t think one night is going to be enough to sabotage it completely. I’m also feeling pretty good because I finished a pro bono project today and turned in my research. And I’m looking forward to going to sleep as soon as I say that I had sort of been hoarding this, which is the last of the Adagio herbal samples, and now I remember why.

It deserves a higher rating and I’m giving it a bump. It’s a very gentle, almost vague, herbally lemon, not a fruity one, but it doesn’t push any of my buttons. No bitterness, no soapiness, no unmitigated tartness, no random un-named unpleasantness.

In the grand scheme of things it’s something I wouldn’t mind having in my cupboard, but not until I’ve determined there isn’t a pure lemongrass I like better from another vendor. (Perhaps lemongrass is lemongrass is lemongrass, but how will I know unless I try ALL THE LEMONGRASS?)




Aww congrats!!
I’ve had my lemongrass for a while but I’ve actually never had it alone!? I’ve blended it with the rest of my herbals haha. I’ll definitely try it on its own sometime soon :)


That last sentence totally nails it.


Congrats on the weight loss!


Thanks all! And haha Anna!

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drank Malted Genmaicha by 52teas
954 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 106 of the year 2014.

Although I have to give it props for living up to its name, on balance I prefer plain genmaicha. Still, it wasn’t hard to sip down.

Please forgive any typos. Typing this on the ipad while waiting in line for dinner at an Italian place.

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Last time I made this in the Breville and tossed it into the Timolino and never really saw the liquor or smelled the aroma of the tea.

The liquor is actually pretty shocking. It’s a very deep, almost golden yellow and clear, but it really made me think of melted butter. The aroma made me think of baked bread in the same way the Irish Breakfast did the other day.

And the flavor today was very much liked baked bread, which is pretty amazing for a green tea. The dry leaves are also quite pretty, a dark tangly nesty looking mess. Maybe that’s how it got part of its name?

It was yum today on a rainy, rainy afternoon before no. 1’s piano lesson.

Bumping the rating. Still not sure I would really buy this again (even if LeafSpa was still around) because it’s more like black tea than a green, but I can’t penalize it for my buying decisions.


The tea sounds very interesting and so is the piano lesson, yay for you!!!


It’s certainly an unusual one, that’s for sure.


Even just the name of it is intriguing.


I know, right? It makes me think of the giant eagles in The Lord of the Rings.

Geoffrey Norman

I miss LeafSpa. They were the only place (aside from Upton) that sold green honeybush.

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drank Bi Luo Chun by Andao
954 tasting notes

I went to go enter this into the database and I couldn’t find Andao online. From which I conclude that this is another now-defunct tea company.

I’m pretty amazed. I didn’t think I was out of the tea loop that long.

But that means there’s no picture and no real description of this that I can upload. I did find out by looking at Wikipedia that the name means Green Snail Spring and it’s because the leaves are rolled into a snail-like spiral.

I didn’t have much time to pay attention to the leaves when I made this this morning. I just steeped it, poured it into the Timolino, and jumped in the car.

This is a light but flavorful, buttery, vegetal green tea. It’s more “green” and less vegetable in flavor, lighter on the vegetable side than the mao feng and the mao jian I’ve had recently. I can’t say I like it more or less than those. It’s about the same in terms of how much I like it, just different in flavor.

I think I’ll have to rejigger the ratings on all of these as I see I rated the mao jian a 78 and yet I like it better than some of the black teas I’ve rated the same. For now, though, keeping this the same as the mao jian. I’ll fix them all later.

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

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Sipdown no. 105 of the year 2014.

I did a little more research before I steeped this time. I had been surprised to find steeping instructions for darjeelings at less than boiling water temps. Then I read further and it appears that that is a recommendation for a first flush darjeeling, whereas a higher temp and lower steeping time is recommended for a second flush.

This being a second flush, I decided to up the water temp this time and see what happens.

First off, there’s a big difference in liquor color. The liquor this time is the color of maple syrup. Second, the aroma is different. It’s much more sharp and darjeeling-like, and I think for the first time I really understand the muscatel references. I still haven’t put my hands on an actual muscatel wine (the BF is embarrassed to buy any or for me to buy any given its reputation as a wino wine) but for the first time, I am smelling wine and not just a wine-like aroma. There’s still something that is nutty as well.

The flavor is much richer steeped this way, too. Instead of water chestnuts, I get something that is almost cocoa, definitely musky and woodsy, with a grapey tang. It’s astringent, but not painfully so.

I’m fairly sure this is how I should have steeped it the first time. Bumping the rating slightly.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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Second tea of the morning after the trusty, over-tea-noted Earl from LeafSpa (which is marching toward sipdown nicely). Having had this yesterday, there was almost enough room to shake the packet (remember to shake the packet, remember to shake the packet). Next time I should be able to get a nice shake in.

I am getting the raisiny fruitiness of yesterday with the same not very strong chocolate. I got some chocolate chips in my mix today so I think perhaps it’s just the balance of this blend. Though I will make a point of trying it after something other than the Earl or as a first morning tea as a test.

I wouldn’t buy Raisinettes at the movies but would take some if they were passed to me during a flick, and that’s sort of how I feel about this tea. It gets high marks for living up to its name and for being a tasty tea that is not at all doing a number on my brain or my stomach. It’s nicely done. It’s just not among my favorites.


I wasn’t aware of this blend but it sounds nice! I love chocolate covered raisins :)

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Thank you so much yyz for your suggestion on steeping silver needle. I was definitely doing it wrong.

There’s flavor in them there leaves!

Steeping in the gaiwan at a minute a steep using water that started at about 175 degrees, I’m getting a definite nutty, slightly woody flavor with a sweet aftertaste. The second steep was definitely thicker, a very nice mouthfeel. No bitterness, no planty-ness, but not just like a mouthful of snow either. It’s less dewy and nectary, which is what I thought silver needle tasted like.

I now know there’s much more to it.

I heart Steepster.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec

I’m of the mind that steeping instructions for silver needle (no matter where it’s from) should usually not be trusted. When I see directions of 5 minutes, I go with 2 or less…


I’m really interested to try other silver needles and see whether I have the same success, or whether this one just happens to be a very flavorful silver needle.


I think that should be a Tea Project.


now i wanna try that too. never had a silver needle.


Yay! I’m glad that this worked for you!


Yes, a tea project! And thanks again, yyz!

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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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