1165 Tasting Notes


Sipdown no. 190. since I’ve started counting sipdowns. A sample.

Ten more sipdowns to 200. Sadly, I will not have even made a noticeable dent in my tea stash after hitting 200. I’m wondering at what point I’ll actually see it start to look smaller? Just for fun, I think I’ll try to make a prediction when I actually do hit 200.

Though I haven’t made much of an overall dent, I am getting to the end of the Life In Teacup samples. I have one more oolong sample from them (I think) after this and a few pu erh samples. I have mixed feelings, of course. These oolong samples have been lovely, and part of me is sorry to see them go. On the other hand, I got to enjoy them, finally. And it’s not like it’s the end, either. I did buy some oolong from Life In Teacup and have most of that left in my stash as well.

But anyway, this tea. I looked up what the competition grading meant and found this:


Apparently, this won fourth place in an oolong competition.

I’m also slightly confused because I’ve had a Dong Ding from Life In Teacup which I thought was terrific and a Cui Yu, which I also liked. Not sure what makes this both?

I put this through my usual five steeps starting at 15 seconds and adding five seconds per steep. The tea comes in tightly rolled dark green balls that smelled foresty to me. It steeps to a clear pale yellow-light green.

I’m not usually at a loss for descriptive terms, but I’m having something of a tough time describing the aroma and taste of this one. It’s certainly not a dark roasty toasty oolong though it has a hint of roastiness. Nor does it seem to be a purely green oolong. I mostly get a sort of raw nuttiness in the aroma and flavor with some floral notes around the edges and a hint of milkiness. It’s extremely mild and smooth.

Very enjoyable, albeit somewhat hard to define. I wonder whether if I’d used hotter water I would have got more of the amazingness out of it that I got out of the Dong Ding of a couple of days ago?

Flavors: Floral, Milk, Nutty, Roasted

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Tried this today western style in the Breville.

Kind of odd-tasting. Sort of like green tea, but not completely. Not really like a green oolong, or a roasty oolong. A bit roasty around the edges, perhaps. There’s a sort of weird floral flavor to it, like a jasmine note. Not sure where that is coming from as this isn’t flavored. I like jasmine, but I guess I prefer it when I’m expecting it to having it show up as a surprise.

Will try it hot again in the gaiwan. But I suspect I’ll be drinking most of this cold, as it’s quite nice that way.

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drank Thai Chai by Adagio Teas
1165 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 189. The rest of the sample.

Made a big honking pot of this on the stove top using Premium Steap’s Organic Black with Coconut as extra black tea. Yes, my stove won’t click problem of yesterday has been solved. As has my outlet problem. The gremlins were messing with me but fled when the BF turned things on. Go figure. Internet is still flaky, though.

Definitely improved when made this way, so I’m upping the rating. However, still my least favorite of the Adagio chai samples. The additional coconut benefited this in my view as I can now taste the sweetness of the coconut where as before it got tangled up with the lemongrass and they sort of cancelled each other out. On the other hand, the reason I drink chai is for the chai spices, especially cardamom. The chai spices are very background here and not very strong.

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Although I did not have eggs this morning, this was a nice first cup of tea. More interesting as a tea than the Teavana of yesterday, but less Earl Grey-like. The bergamot has a floral note rather than a citrus one, much like the other Simpson and Vail Earl Greys I’ve tried.


Ooh, sounds like another nice Earl Grey!

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Sipdown no. 188. The rest of the sample.

Still my favorite among the flavored oolongs. It is staying on the wish list. The grapefruit gives it a crispness that’s quite tasty.

Flavors: Citrus, Grapefruit

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1000th tasting note! It only took me six years to get here. :-)

I wanted to steep something really special for this occasion. I thought about one of the various wonderful French teas in my cupboard, but decided I had had enough flavored black for one day. I’ve been on a Yunnan kick for a few days now, so I thought I’d look for a highly rated Yunnan I have but hadn’t yet tried.

I have tin no. 23 of this limited edition of 150. Inside the tin, long forest green leaves predominate with some lighter blonde colored tips adding visual interest. The dry leaves smell a bit chocolate-y, a deep, dark, rich fragrance.

I decided to steep at the average preparation parameters rather than the five minutes at boiling recommended on the tin.

I got a clear, dark maple colored liquor with a warm sweet aroma — a bit less sweet than the other yunnans I’ve tried recently but still reminiscent of molasses with some chocolate notes around the edges.

The flavor is quite smooth. No back of the throat grab with this one. Medium bodied, and a bit lighter than I’d expected (might try boiling and longer steep next time). The flavor isn’t overly sweet or sugary in the sip, but has some sweetness in the finish and aftertaste. The funny thing is, I can’t really identify a flavor note in this. I can mostly define what I don’t taste. Unlike some yunnans, I’m not getting a peppery flavor, nor am I getting something I’d call malty. There is something bready about it, maybe a rye note, and while the cocoa note in the aroma gets stronger as the tea cools I only taste it a tiny bit. I’m not getting tobacco or cannabis or any of the other things folks have mentioned.

Some of the other yunnans I’ve tasted recently have had more depth and complexity, but part of that could be preparation, and a lot of it could also be that my expectations of this one were exceptionally high. I’m going to withhold final judgment until I’ve played with it more, but right now, I’m thinking this is quite good but not as spectacular as I was hoping. Ah, well.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Chocolate, Cocoa, Molasses, Rye

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

Congrats! 1000 is quite a milestone.






Big number!


Thanks all!


Congrats on the milestone!


Congratulations on 1000! :)


Good job!

Andrews & Dunham Damn Fine Tea

We are honored! Seriously, thanks for choosing us! It tickles us to no end. Get that steeping time up there — the leaves are very forgiving with long brews.


I’m honored that you’re honored. Wait, this could go on for a while. ;-) I’ll definitely go hotter and longer next time and see what happens. Thanks for the excellent tea!

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drank Keemun Rhapsody by Adagio Teas
1165 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 187. The rest of the sample.

This was one of the black savant samples that I set aside a while back because I really liked it. Now that I’m trying to drink the stuff I like with equal frequency with the stuff I don’t like as much, I decided there wasn’t a lot of reason to keep this one around getting older.

The morning started badly. Not only are two of my power outlets out in the kitchen, the stove (which is gas, with a spark ignitor) wouldn’t stop clicking yesterday because the element got wet from my tea kettle being overfilled and spitting water into the burner. The BF got it to stop, but now it won’t click at all and has to be lit with a match. Not to mention my internet connection, which gets flaky every time it rains here, has been on permanent flake with the wet weather over the last few days. Geez.

At least this tea is nice. I wonder whether my palate has changed, or whether the tea may have faded a bit because I don’t think now I’d rate it as highly as I did before. Mostly because I’m detecting something that tastes metallic or minerally in this. Or perhaps like raw potato, which tastes minerally to me. There’s still a bread-like quality but I’m not getting a lot of smoke or sweetness and instead getting these other notes. It’s still enjoyable and I’m not going to mess with the rating because I’m not sure of the reasons for the change in taste. It could just be me. Sometimes things taste different to me from day to day.

I’m thinking about what to drink next for my big 1000th note!

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drank Earl Grey Black by Teavana
1165 tasting notes

Really enjoyable this morning with eggs and toast. It occurs to me that perhaps Earl Greys are best drunk with hearty English style breakfasts. Can’t really improve upon the detail in my initial note on this.


I tried this one for the first time a couple weeks ago, really nice tea…I like how the bergamot is not overwhelming.


I love having EG with a breakfast involving eggs. :)


Mike, that’s one of the reasons I like this one, too.


Nice! Great way to start a Sunday morning. :)


What a good point. I’ll try that soon! Eggs and toast and tea are a thing of beauty.

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Sipdown no. 186. A sample.

I had a different experience of this than some other notes reflect, but I steeped in the gaiwan for short infusions starting at 15 seconds and adding increments of five seconds for a total of five infusions.

I also used water a bit hotter than I usually do for oolongs, mostly because something happened to the outlet where my zojirushi was plugged in and I had to reboil the water. I didn’t have the patience to wait for the water to cool, so I used it as it was on its way down from boiling.

The result was that my experience of this was more like a green oolong than a roasted one, but it was at the same time a bit unusual for a green. The aroma had a sort of a milky floral scent at first but mellowed over subsequent steeps into something that smelled fresh and nutty — but not roasted nutty. More like green (unroasted) almonds. By the third steep, the floral notes were quite lovely. I thought of lilacs, though I’m not sure that’s actually what I smelled, and by the fourth and fifth steeps, I got a whiff of fresh, raw, sweet, warm root vegetable, carrot maybe. A little less pronounced in the fifth steep. Perhaps more like turnip or parsnip. The wet leaf smelled like sweet potatoes to me.

Really tasty and wonderful, but I wonder whether cooler water would have yielded the same flavors. Oh well, I am not likely to find out soon as I’m on lock down. All I can say is this was excellent tonight.

Flavors: Almond, Carrot, Floral, Green, Milk, Sweet Potatoes


That sounds really neat. My kettle only holds at 208F or 140F, so when I do multiple steeps they’re always at 208. What temperatures does yours do?


I can get the zojirushi to 212 (boiling) but it doesn’t stay there. It goes down to 208, then 195, 175 and 140. For boiling I usually just use a kettle on the stove, or the highest Breville setting. For stuff that requires finer gradations I tend to use the Breville, but for oolongs I usually just use the zo at 195.


I should say, my off-brand zojirushi, not kettle. :) That’s pretty cool though. More temperatures is definitely an argument for getting a new one at some point.

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drank Troika by Kusmi Tea
1165 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 185. Sample tin. I’m counting this as a sipdown even though I’m pretty sure I have a full sized tin of this somewhere.

This time around, I got the pepper in the aroma, but not really in the taste. It’s funny, having had the Simpson & Vail Creamy Earl Grey, which wasn’t creamy or an Earl Grey to my tastebuds earlier this morning, I am noticing similarities between that and the Troika. Except the Troika is less floral and more citrusy.

A bit of orange, a bit of undefined citrus that for me leans toward lemon, and underneath a smooth, mild black tea base that as I mentioned before seems to be easy on the stomach. Not sure it’s distinctive enough to be a must have, but it’s definitely a very good tea and one that might very well hit a very particular spot from time to time.

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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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