953 Tasting Notes

drank Pumpkin Pie by Art of Tea
953 tasting notes

I’m tired.

Little league baseball season has started. With two kids on two different teams, this means we will have three games and two practices each week for the next few months. Last year around this time we pretty much lost control of our entire schedule because of the baseball situation and I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Not that it wasn’t fun watching the kids play. No. 1 in particular is quite talented. He has an amazing arm and is a pretty reliable batter as well. But still. On top of everything else the kids have going on it’s quite a hellacious couple of months. Not to mention what we, the adults, have going on. All of which basically gets put on the back burner. At least this time I have a folding chair to take with me to the games (I asked for one for Mother’s Day last year because my butt hurt from having to sit on the concrete at the parks where there aren’t bleachers).

All of that is a long winded way of saying that I’m going to put this in a big mug and go lie down with it beside my bed, and I expect I will fall asleep (continuing with the baseball theme) before you can say Jack Robinson.

The pie flavor is coming out even before much cooling goes on tonight, which is comforting. Soon my body will realize that it isn’t getting any sugar out of this despite the taste and I won’t be able to stay awa…

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drank Kuki Yerba Mate by Samovar
953 tasting notes

I still have one serving of the plain Yerba Mate before sipdown, but I thought I’d crack this open today anyway and see what’s what.

It was definitely the right choice to try to plain first. This is much easier to drink than the plain version. It is much mellower—tastes more grassy and less dirty-grassy. Steeping a shorter time may make the difference, but it could also be the addition of the kukicha. In general it is less bitter and closer to sweet, though I wouldn’t go far enough to call it sweet as the description does. Interestingly, I’m not really getting a mineral or metallic note, but then I didn’t get a passion fruit aroma from the leaves, either.

Definitely more to my liking than the plain version. I’m not going to rush out and buy mate blends, though. Mate remains not really my thing.

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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drank Go Go Goji by Teavana
953 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 102 of the year 2014.

I bought the 2 oz size of most of my Teavana teas, so if I apply myself to drinking them they don’t last long.

This was a nice one. I’m bumping the rating some because the key to this is steeping very short and using low temp. At 175 for 1 minute this has a very delicate, pleasant lychee flavor that is kept from being cloying by what I am assuming is the effect of the goji berries (I haven’t had them outside of this tea so I’m not sure, but I’m thinking they must have some natural tartness to them?) and the white tea is taste-able without being planty.

It has been discontinued, however, so this is a definite goodbye. On to the next flavored white.


from my experience, they do impart a tartness. off the top of my head, Goji Raspberry Green by Republic of Tea is pleasantly tart & the fruit mixes well with the green base.


Thanks, pyarkaaloo, that’s good to know!

Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

Yum goji berries, probably the only tart thing I like in my teas. Shame it is discontinued though, I would have liked to give it a try.

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drank Red Hot Cinnamon by 52teas
953 tasting notes

Started the day with the same Earl Grey as yesterday (no note on that one, I didn’t have anything new to say about it) and then turned to this. Another from my original 52teas over-acquisition that has not been opened until today.

A very sweet cinnamon fragrance over black tea in the packet, and the bright little red hots look pretty among the dark tea leaves.

The aroma from the tea is very cinnamon-y, but not quite as sweet and I can smell a maltiness from the black tea underneath. The liquor is an astonishing, garnet color. Really gorgeous.

I really love the H&S cinnamon, which to me tastes like red hots except without red hots actually in it. This also has stick cinnamon and some flavoring.

It’s tasty, and it is definitely cinnamon-y. It’s on the sweet side, but not really the hot side except for a spicy kick in the finish, right on the tip of the tongue.

And I’m not having the “food tea” reaction, though I didn’t expect to. Candy doesn’t really count as food. Or at least, that’s what I keep telling my kids…

I prefer the H&S because of its base. And also the weird voodoo by which they manage to make it taste like red hots without actually having red hots in it.

But this certainly lives up to its name, is tasty, and I don’t see its novelty wearing off very fast the way the food teas did. High marks from me.

Flavors: Cinnamon

Boiling 4 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

you made this sound so interesting. may have to try.


It is currently an archived blend at 52teas, but they have a cool process where you can put yourself on the waiting list and they’ll let you know if they ever reblend it.

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The name of this cracks me up. (What happened to the first 1236 herbals?) It’s like the guy who named his boat “Lucky 2.”

I am excited, however, to be drinking an ingredient called Moldavian dragonhead. I feel tough just thinking about it.

My first note on this recorded surprise that I liked it as much as I did, and I agree with what I said before. It isn’t an overly lemony lemon tisane, and the vanilla isn’t enough to push it into the cream or chiffon camp. It’s got an herbally lightness to it that is more grassy sweet than sweet-sweet and the vanilla supplies more mellowness than actual flavor. It’s not a fruity lemon, but it’s a pleasant one nevertheless.


Moldavian dragonhead sounds like something out of Harry Potter. Very cool.


Apparently it is a blue flower that looks a little like a Texas bluebonnet, but what a sexy name!


So excited! This one is coming my way. I think I got it 50/50 for the lemon description and the moldavian dragonhead. :)


Next time I try this I’m really going to look for the Moldavian dragonhead in the mixture. Apparently it tastes like lemon, though I mostly taste the lemon myrtle in this and lemongrass to a lesser extent. It would be interesting to isolate some dragonhead and see what it tastes like by itself.


Snortlol at notes!


LOL. What if it had actually been 1236 less stellar, retired herbals… I like companies that this, though, since I have good recall when it comes to numbers (easier to remember than names). With Mariage Frères, I started out just memorizing the numbers of the blends I wanted to try.

In other OCD news, TG’s number 1236 appears to have been cut, but number 1238 is a very evil-looking hibiscus tea!


Oooooh, there’s actually a 1238, and there was actually a 1236? The plot thickens….

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drank Malted Genmaicha by 52teas
953 tasting notes

This is tonight’s after dinner tea. I had a choice of sipping down a few things or having this and I chose to leave the sipdowns for a day when I might need them to hit my at-least-a-sipdown-a-day mark.

It’s actually quite pleasant after food. Something about tomato based sauce seems to mellow the maltiness a little so that it is just a bit more pronounced than the natural maltiness of genmaicha.

In other news, I found my matcha bowls! I only remembered having two, but apparently I have three. (Quelle surprise.) I only had to go through five cabinets looking for them and had basically given up when I thought to look some place I really thought they weren’t. So there is now matcha in my future. Awesome.

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drank Yerba Mate by Samovar
953 tasting notes

File under stupid tea tricks.

I had two Finum baskets on my desk at work, both with measured portions of this in it. The first was to consume, the second was to attempt to ascertain how many servings were left in the tin. (My guess is there were about 3-4.)

I say were because after I steeped the first basket, I grabbed a basket to toss out what I thought was the spent yerba mate and dumped the dry mix into the garbage.

There are now about 2-3 servings left and I feel like an utter dolt. If this had been something I love, I would have been heartbroken, too.

Fortunately, I’m sure it is more than apparent from my previous notes on this how I feel about yerba mate. On the bright side, I’m one serving more away from being able to recycle the awesome black matte Samovar tin. I already know what I want to put in it.

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Sipdown no. 101 of the year 2014.

Today it was a little on the too much side, really dense. Almost like an oil slick, really.

I attribute this to the descent of the chocolate pieces to the bottom of the sample packet and their concentration there much more intensely than its blenders intended.

I had some nicer cups out of this and the bottom of the barrel experience doesn’t ruin it for me.

This concludes the sipdowns of my SpecialTeas samples, though I still have part of a tin of Rooibos Lemon Chiffon. I’ve been enjoying it in the evening, when it has been populating the mug beside my bed. Though it hasn’t aged particularly well, it is far more enjoyable than the last tisane to fill that role, Tazo’s Sweet Cinnamon Spice.


I try to remember to shake all teas with big pieces of something or the other, but it’s so easy to forget.


I know! I need to put a post it note on my counter that says “remember to shake.”


Oil slick hah. How appetizing. :P


Haha, well at least it was cocoa oil. ;-)


Oh dang it: “This video is not available in your country.” I’ll have to search for it.


It is! Creepshow 2, ‘The Raft’, an adaptation of a short story by Stephen King.


(I guess it says a lot that it’s the first thing that comes to mind whenever I hear ‘oil slick’, haha.)



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This was, again, my first morning tea.

Today was the first day in a while that I didn’t have as an initial tea something I wasn’t wild about and was trying to sip down. Not having that hanging over my head made for a very pleasurable tea experience.

I have a full sized tin of this and I hit the halfway mark today, so this is becoming a candidate for sipping down. But this is the way it should happen—naturally, as a consequence of being enjoyed, not because its owner is on a mission. ;-) It’s still a solid, middle-of-the-pack Earl Grey that I enjoy drinking, but it isn’t off the charts in any respect. That’s fine, though. Sometimes I just want a tea that isn’t so incredible that I spend all my time thinking about it while I’m drinking it. Sometimes I want something that doesn’t call attention to itself with every sip. That’s this tea.

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I haven’t had this in a very long time. Today we were running out of the house to go to the laser tag place and I had to grab something fast. I didn’t have time to measure or think too much about water temp and I am down to very few types of bagged tea, so I grabbed this and stuck it in the Timolino.

I think that pu-erh isn’t really the best toodling around tea. Or at least not for me.

Which isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy this. It was leathery and a bit brothy like it apparently was the last time I had it, judging from my previous note. I just think that it’s meant to be sipped in peace and quiet and in smaller amounts.

I never realized how rushed my life is most of the time until I started having to fight for minutes to get tea made before leaving the house. Or even getting it ready to steep on the way. Sigh.


Rushing is the worst. I hope you had fun at laser tag though. :)


We had lots of fun! My older son finished second both sessions we did. I was not quite as awesome, finishing 12th and 10th. ;-)


Haha, good for him. :) I’ve never played but it does sound like fun.


It’s surprisingly entertaining. The first time I went I had no idea what to expect and I thought it would be a lot of running like paintball and I’d be dead meat. But one of the rules is no running, and stealth is rewarded. ;-)


Very cool! I kind of thought it might be like paintball too. I’ll have to convince J to go one day.


This is the only place I’ve ever been:


Other places might have different ways of doing it.


i like to hide and snipe when playing laser tag :D

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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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