1179 Tasting Notes


Sipdown no. 201. The rest of the sample. I briefly considered trying to do an entire day of avoiding sipdowns. Then I thought maybe I should go the opposite direction and try to do all sipdowns today. Then I decided I was seriously overthinking this and should spend no more time even considering the question.

I have come to a realization, though. I like this so much better than the Adagio Apricot. I know I have a Mariage Freres Apricot in my stash after having done a sort of quasi-inventory project the other day, but really, unless that one is even better, I really see no reason to have multiple apricot teas some of which I like better than others. Why not just have one I really like?

And then, just when I was ready to standardize on this (for now) as my apricot black tea of choice for all the reasons stated in my previous note (and bumped up the rating accordingly), I discovered that this tea is no longer available on the ATR site.


Flavors: Apricot


ATR does apricot so well. Love Tangier.


I haven’t tried Tangier. I need to look to see if I have a sample of it.


Woo hoo, I just found an unopened sample of Tangier! I’ll put it in the queue to try.


Awesome, curious to see what you’ll think of it!


Have you tried Harney’s Apricot black?


Nicole, I don’t think I have. Maybe I’ll order a sample next time I order from them.


Carytown Teas also dose a really superb organic apricot black. I have plenty of it if either of you would care to try some. :)


That’s a lovely offer, Teatotaler, but I already have at least two other apricot teas and I’m currently under threat of being disowned if I bring any more tea into the house. ;-) But I’ll definitely keep this info for future reference.

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This tea has three entries on Steepster. I’m not very OCD. Only about some things. But I used to take pleasure in reporting duplicate tea entries so the powers that be could merge them. But then I remember hearing they weren’t doing that anymore because of some software issue. Which is a shame because the multiple entry thing is like a burr against my skin. I wish I could merge them myself and get rid of that annoying prickle.

To make it even more entertaining, each of the entries has a different average rating so it’s kind of hard to know what the consensus is on this tea, which is part of what Steepster’s value add is. Ho hum.

Anyway, I am 100 percent sure this was part of the tea of the month because it doesn’t seem at all like something I’d buy. In looking at my stash, I see that I do have some flavored pu-erhs, but that was before I knew my tastes better. Also, in general, strawberry isn’t a top flavor pick for me. I love the fruit (if it’s just the right ripeness), but I find the flavoring agents often taste fakey to me and I cannot abide strawberry ice cream under any circumstances.

That said, Teavana’s strawberry isn’t too bad. It’s been pretty good in things like the strawberry lemonade tisane.

I just came back from a long walk up a very steep hill. I intended to run at the high school track near me, but it was closed for some event (how dare they actually use the high school track for the high school!) so I went for a long walk instead. Somewhere along the way I thought about this tea and decided to try it when I got back.

I’m making it western style because I don’t have a gong fu brewing vessel big enough to make enough for the BF to have some as well and he expressed an interest. So I rinsed and then put it in the Breville. I’m assuming this is a shou, so I’m using boiling water, and the recommended steeping time on the package.

There was an amazingly rich strawberry fragrance coming out of the packet, and underneath a rather earthy tea smell. Not fishy, leathery, or salty, or if it is, that is masked by the strawberry.

It has a reddish brown, dark but clear liquor like some black teas. The aroma is strawberry first, something malty and earthy second.

The flavor is weird. It’s not horrible, not something I have to hold my nose to drink. Just weird. The strawberry flavor is the first thing I taste, followed by an undercurrent of malty tea. The strawberry flavor itself isn’t irksome to me, though it’s not overly natural either. There’s a sort of a creamy note to it that makes it more like strawberry vanilla than berry flavor.

I suspect serious pu-erh drinkers wouldn’t care for this much as this isn’t really about the tea. It’s about the strawberry, which is trying to be a strawberry/vanilla dessert and actually succeeding pretty well at it. I give it “very good” rather than merely “good” points for that.

I don’t love this, but I don’t dislike it either. I can see maybe having it occasionally for as long as it is in my cupboard, but I can’t see myself re-ordering it. Which continues my streak of not wanting to reorder things Teavana still sells, and wanting to reorder things they no longer sell.

I wonder what it would be like in the gaiwan? I’ll try that another time.

Flavors: Cream, Earth, Malt, Strawberry, Vanilla

Boiling 2 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 34 OZ / 1000 ML

I have a $10 gift card from there. No idea what I’ll buy… figure one of their overpriced straight ones


I had their Earl Grey recently and thought it was pretty solid, if you like those.


I’m allergic to Bergamot. Strange but true! (numb tongue and queasiness) But thanks for the suggestion :)


They had a decent jasmine green pearls as well, as I recall. Rooibos tropica is also good. One of the better rooibos blends I’ve had b/c i can’t taste the rooibos. :-)


The black tea balls aren’t bad. And I love Orange Blossom, but it’s more of an “I’m sick” tea because it’s so intensely sweet candy orange.


Hmmm if it isn’t too floral I may do the pearls! :)


I just looked back at my notes on the jasmine pearls and I seemed to think it was pretty mellow, and that the tea wasn’t obscured by the jasmine. But it has been a while since I had it.


Not the jasmine ones… I got plain black tea balls. Ahh. “Black Dragon Pearl”. They’re malty black tea, and are pretty decent at work, with random water temperatures, grandpa style steeping.


Morgana, I have something similar in my cupboard now just not in pearl form. The black ones sound neat though!
Thanks OMGsersly, I may try that!!

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Sipdown no. 200. A sample. I got this when I ordered my first yixing from Teavivre, the yixing The Tea Fairy suggested.

I opened this up this morning thinking what the heck, I’ll get another sample out of the way and continue my Yunnan kick at the same time.

OMFG. Little did I know how loved this tea is on Steepster. 142 ratings and an 89 average rating. Wow!

So now here I am about to drink a much venerated tea and totally prepared to have my socks blown off, and perhaps my feet along with them.

First, I have to say the leaves are gorgeous. Golden exceeding any golden teas I’ve had before. They smell earthy-malty with cocoa notes.

I steeped at the low temp recommended. The directions here say 3 minutes max, but on the packet they said 3-5, so I split the baby and steeped at 3:30. I don’t want to mess up the steeping because I want to experience this one in all its glory.

Lovely, clear, dark reddish-amber color. The aroma is an entertaining melange. The first whiff was all sweet potato, but after that I got some cocoa, honey and molasses notes as well as something dark and woodsy.

The tea itself is incredibly smooth and soothing. It invites you not to think about it too much, and to just sit with it and be. Calming on the stomach, too. There’s something light, almost perky about it, which is an interesting contrast to the dark dry leaf smell. It’s not what I’d call full bodied, but that shouldn’t be taken to mean it isn’t complex.

The flavor at first isn’t overly sweet, but the aftertaste leaves a sweetness on the tongue and behind the teeth. In the sip, I taste the root vegetable (sweet potato and perhaps some carrot), and an almost citrus-y note.

This is something I could easily drink every day. Fingers crossed I get a job soon as I would dearly love to order some of this. I’d even make an exception to my lockdown edict for this one.

By the way, I said when I got to 200 sipdowns I’d play a guessing game at how long it will take me to get out of lockdown. Current estimate based on the number of teas in my Steepster cupboard (plus at least another hundred or so samples) is probably a couple of years if I continue consuming at the current rate, but if I don’t, which is likely given past patterns, add another couple of years onto that. LOL

However, I think I’ll get out of lockdown on herbals/non-caffeinated teas earlier because those are being consumed at a faster rate as I feel comfortable giving them to the kids (even at night), and because I had fewer of those to start with. Current guess on when I’ll be ready to get out of lockdown on those is more like 2-3 months at the current rate.

And I am also considering the possibility that because I have less pu-erh than other types of teas, I might consider myself not in lockdown at around the same time as herbals/decafs (and perhaps before as I’m considering rewarding myself with an order should I manage to get a job sooner rather than later).

Flavors: Carrot, Citrus, Cocoa, Earth, Honey, Molasses, Sweet Potatoes

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 500 OZ / 14786 ML

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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
1179 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
1179 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
1179 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
1179 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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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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