957 Tasting Notes


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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drank Lotus by Tazo
957 tasting notes

I only have two bags of this left in the home stash but almost a whole box at work, and as my work stash is now not exactly a pillar of diversity, this has been my “commute home” tea for the past few days.

I really do find this pleasant. Some teas blow you away from day one. Others grow on you slowly. This one has grown on my slowly. It’s like that friend who keeps being a great friend and then one day you wake up and you’re in love.

I’ve never had an unpleasant cup of this. It has never been at all offensive even when abused by water temperature and oversteeping. It’s forgiving. And it’s nothing if not consistent. It’s not flashy or terribly exciting, but kids, when you get older you’ll find there’s a lot to be said for stability. ;-) This is a tea I can count on.

I do want to try some more lotus flower scented teas if I can find any that look promising (as opposed to the Thai seed thing which is said to be bitter), but not to replace this one. Just out of curiosity to see what a non-decaf lotus flower tea might be like.

I have to bump the rating on this one for its steadfastness. Rock on, Lotus.


This used to always be in my stash for late afternoons, then I drifted away from teabags during the day. I’ll have to remember this next time my wife needs Starbucks. It is a lovely tea. The Persimmon Tree is the only other lotus I have found. While it is my favorite tea from them, it is nothing like this one. While Tazo is a gentle floral, TPT is more anise type flavor.


Yes, it’s a lovely one. Thanks for the info on the other lotus. I am not sure I’m up for the Persimmon Tree one if it taste like anise. I am not a licorice fan. :-(

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I must be crazy to be drinking this this late in the day but my work stash is dwindling and my curiosity has gotten the better of me. My one hesitation is my fear that I’ll like this better than the Kuki and then I’ll not look forward to the Kuki as much.

And guess what, I was right. But the spread isn’t really that far.

Both the green tea of the Kuki and the peppermint of this make the mate more tolerable in different ways. The green tea takes the edge off the mate. The peppermint pretty much subdues it.

I still taste the mate, but it’s really not that different from earthy peppermint tisanes I’ve had that had no mate in them at all. The Upton, as I recall, had a sort of dirt undertone which I didn’t really care for in a single note peppermint tisane. That’s what this tastes like, but it has the excuse of the mate.

It’s a relief to know that I prefer both the Kuki and the Peppermint to the plain because that’s what I’ll be drinking down at work for the next few weeks.

Meanwhile I need to start thinking about replenishing my work stock. I don’t have access to a full kitchen at work, though I do have filtered hot water and a place to rinse out cups and filters. No easy way to gauge temperature, though. I’d like to bring in lower caffeine teas if possible, so I don’t leave the office wired, but those are usually the ones that need more temp control.


205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

I usually have a plain peppermint tea, rooibos , one of my lapacho teas, or some Tulsi tea. I just use boiling water on them all.


Every single flavoured green, white and oolong tea from Lupicia I’ve tried (a lot) are steeped for 1.5 minutes in boiling water. Can’t really get quicker or simpler than that.


Herbals and Lupicia. On the list. Thanks!

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drank Yerba Mate by Samovar
957 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 104 of the year 2014.

Not a lot to add to previous notes, other than it is now gone and I’ve recycled the lovely black tin for another tea.

I am glad I like the Kuki version better, since I have a lot of it left. Something tells me I’m going to like the peppermint even better though I haven’t tried it yet.

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Started the day with an Earl I’ve already written a lot of notes about (so no new notes on that one) and then turned to this. Another of the unopened 52teas blends from a while ago.

The scent from the packet is mostly chocolate, but I get the raisin, too. After steeping, I smell mostly the tea, though I also get a dark, grapey smell of raisin. The liquor is clear, and a cherry color.

I expected to get a lot of chocolate in the flavor, but it’s not a heavy chocolate. It’s present, but the main note I get is a fruitiness. It’s in the aftertaste that I mostly get a suggestion of chocolate covered raisins, as though I chewed a handful of them five minutes ago.

The BF says he gets more chocolate than raisin and he gets more of the Raisinette flavor throughout than I do. (But then, he didn’t drink Earl Grey this morning.)

It’s tasty and I’m not having a “food tea” issue, because again, candy doesn’t count as food. I give it about a 77 for being true to its name and a 79 for drinking enjoyment, hence the 78 rating.

Boiling 4 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML

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drank After Dark by Tavalon Tea
957 tasting notes

Tasting note 800 and the 500th tea I’ve written a note about. If only it was a milestone sipdown as well!

Once upon a time, I belonged to the Tavalon tea of the month club. I am fairly certain this was sent to me as a part of that club.

I really love the way this looks. It’s a bit like a Teavana blend in that there are large chunks of fruit in and among the flowers that make up the rest of the blend. There’s a great dark, dried fruity smell that smells like currants and dates to me more than anything that’s actually in this blend.

It looks like cranberry juice in the cup, maybe even a bit more magenta if that’s possible. I smell mostly hibiscus and chamomile coming in the aroma. I steeled myself for the hibiscus pucker, but fortunately, this has enough sweet stuff in it to counteract that, and the hibiscus is actually serving a purpose here. It keeps the mixture from being too sweet to drink.

Cranberry and cherry are the main flavors I taste along with the hibiscus, though there’s a citrus note that floats in and out which must be the blood orange. My guess is the apple is contributing sweetness more than flavor.

With blends like this, I’m never sure whether the difference from cup to cup is going to be significant enough to change my mind, because a lot of the flavor seems to depend on how much of which ingredient gets into what you steep.

But unless things change dramatically from steep to steep, this is something I’d buy again.

Despite the wildly divergent ingredients in each of these blends, it’s in the same general category as Tazo Passion, Teavana Caribbean Breeze, and The O Dor Je M’appelle Dorothee, but it has one thing none of those have. A balance of tart and sweet rather than just tart, tart, tart.

Flavors: Berries

Boiling 8 min or more 3 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML

Congratulations on 800 and 500. =)


You did it!! Haha well done (;


Haha! Ta-da!

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drank Melon White Tea by Lupicia
957 tasting notes


I opened up the packet and cantaloupes fell out. Or at least, that’s what it smelled like.

This is what other sweet flavored white teas aspire to and fail to achieve in my view.

I decided to steep in the gaiwan per the comment from yyz on my last white tea endeavor, however, I didn’t have the note in front of me and steeped a bit shorter. 30 seconds, then going up to 45.

The aroma is also of cantaloupe, though mellower. The liquor is pale yellow.

The flavor is pure cantaloupe, without any adjustments. There is no winy-ness to speak of, like some other melon flavored teas I’ve had. There’s no bitterness.

The tea isn’t planty or overpowering, nor is it non-existent, but I don’t get a strong flavor, more like a dark undercurrent that lets me know I’m drinking tea rather than hot cantaloupe juice.

The aftertaste is sweet and gently melon-y.

It’s the best flavored white I have had thus far that doesn’t rely on a tart citrus to cut an unpleasant mustiness, and I’ve rated it accordingly. The good news is I have a fair amount of this and I can play with the time and temp until I get it as close to perfect as possible.

Flavors: Melon

170 °F / 76 °C 0 min, 30 sec

Sounds great! Makes me wonder how it compares to Butiki’s Cantaloupe and Cream.


Fjellrev – I did a melon-off last year, with this, Lupicia’s Melon Oolong and Butiki’s C&C. They were so different I felt there was a place for all of them in my cupboard, but if I had to pick a single one, it would be the oolong. (Because oolong.)


Anna, I’m with you about the magic of that oolong. It’s like, desert island worthy as far as I’m concerned. I’ve been dreaming about it ever since I tried it. It’s changed my life. I’m a better person (ok well not really-that’d require less general rage LOL) because of it.


Hahaha, keychange, you sound exactly like my top tasting note for Lupicia’s Ripe Mango Oolong.


It’s what they do to us!


Oooh, now I need to try the melon oolong!


Yes, you really do. All the oolongs.

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Another LeafSpa that I apparently never tried and never posted a note about.

This will be a sort of a placeholder note because I can’t really see or smell the tea as it’s in my Timolino, sitting next to me while I watch kids do kung fu classes (and homework for the one not currently in class).

I’m pretty sure I bought this one because I liked the name. What’s not to like about Eagle Nest Ever Drop? I am not sure I’ve had an Indian green tea other than a darjeeling. Maybe I have? I’ll have to check my notes.

What’s interesting to me about the taste of this is that to me it tastes like a green equivalent of an Assam. It has a bold, malty flavor and a full body for a green tea. The description mentions muscatel, but I don’t get a darjeeling-y flavor from it.

Very interesting and worth spending more time with when I have some peace and quiet to do a more full review. The one thing I’m not sure about is whether it’s really what I’m looking for in a green tea. When I drink green teas, I’m usually drinking them as alternatives to blacks, and this is a very black-like green tea.

For now, it’s a great contribution to the project of hitting 800 tasting notes at the same time as hitting 500 separate teas on which I’ve posted notes.

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

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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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