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937 Tasting Notes


A couple of weekends ago I waded through my tea and pulled out some samples to put into the “to be drunk soon” sample pile. This was one of them.

My first thought was that the leaves are just really, really gorgeous. They have a lot of color variation from medium-dark green to silvery white, and they are, as the description says, for the most part long and twisty.

The sample was in a sealed packet, but the plastic made it difficult for me to distinguish an aroma from the dry leaves. I find that to be the case with all plastic packets, not just the one this was in.

The liquor is a very pale greenish yellow, and the steeped tea’s aroma is faint and a little like sweet grass or maybe clover, slightly floral.

The taste is very light and mellow, not as vegetal as the only other mao feng I’ve had. I almost wonder whether the sample is suffering from age or whether my taste buds haven’t yet adjusted back from the lapsang souchong I had before this (I did attempt to clear my palate, but I might not have done a sufficient job of it). It’s tasting almost like a white tea to me, like a shade or two more intense than a silver needle. But with the same “fresh water” taste. The other notes on this found it to have a more robust flavor, so I suspect user error.

I am going to refrain from rating for now and try it again on a rested palate.

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

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Sipdown no. 98 of the year 2014.

I have a love/hate relationship with lapsang souchong. Most of the time when I think of having it, I end up not having it because it’s so intense, I’m not sure I’m really up to it. Once in a great while I really crave it. Sometimes when I crave it and have it I feel satisfied, sometimes when I crave it and have it I wish I hadn’t.

It’s something I try to be moderate about because of carcinogenic fears. My dad was a medical academic and his niche was oral cancer, so I spent a lot of time hearing about that growing up, seeing pictures, etc. and any sort of gastric system cancer is something I hope never to experience first hand.

But in terms of whether I love it or hate it, mostly it depends on the lapsang. I’ve had some that are so strong they really set into my pores, such that I couldn’t get the smell out of my nasal passages for days. The gift that keeps on giving sort of thing. Not pleasant. And I’ve had some that are so mild and are great teas, but they don’t do it for me when I am craving smoke. And I’ve had some that were goldilocks teas. Not too overpowered, not too underpowered.

This is a goldilocks tea.

I don’t need a lot of lapsangs in my life, but this is one that’s going on the list.

Flavors: Pine, Wood


i love lapsang souchong

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Sipdown no. 97 of the year 2014. A sample.

The name leads me to believe this will have a passion fruit flavor, though there’s nothing in the ingredients (or even the tea description) that says so.

Out of the packet, the pretty blend of flower petals and tea does smell like passion fruit, or at least it smells like other passion fruit black teas I’ve had.

Steeped according to directions on the tiny sample.

There’s a fruity aroma to the tea, which steeps very dark. A really beautiful, reddish brown color. I want furniture this color.

The flavor is fruity as well, though the fruit represented isn’t tasting like passion fruit. It tastes a bit like grapes, a bit like berries. I can get a sort of a passion fruit flavor out of it if I concentrate.

The tea doesn’t represent itself to be passion fruit, so I can’t really fault it for giving only the barest suggestion of passion fruit. Once I take that bias out of the mix, I can enjoy it for a tasty fruity tea with notes of berry, grape and sometimes a fleeting bit of citrus. The black tea base is pretty astringent, but otherwise not very remarkable.

I’ve had better fruity teas, hence the rating. But this is tasty and I wouldn’t turn it down if offered.

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

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drank Almond Cookie by SpecialTeas
937 tasting notes

This is more like it. This is the kind of “food” tea I can get behind.

Having now tasted all the archaic SpecialTeas samples and having sipped down all but two, I can say this is my favorite of the group. It’s really the only one I could see myself missing when it’s gone, but fortunately I won’t have to because American Tea Room’s Brioche does an even better job with a similar flavor. And I have a whole packet of Teavana Almond Biscotti, which as I mentioned in my first note on this, I’m pretty sure is the same tea.

It’s no. 2’s birthday today. Yay for being 8! He wants to go to I Hop for breakfast (oh deary me). Ordinarily I would tell them to make it a boys only excursion given the destination, but for his birthday, I will go to I Hop.

I’m so glad I’ve had a lovely, sweet, almondy biscotti-like flavor in my mouth regardless of what else I might taste today.


I want to try both this one and the Brioche, thanks for reminding me!


Alas, this one is no longer available, but Brioche is (and it’s better, so no harm no foul).


Oh, right – you already said that in a tasting note, I think, that’s why I removed it from my wishlist the first time around. Ugh. Removing it again…

Terri HarpLady

Happy birthday to No. 2!!


Thank you! He is such a lucky boy. He got a new bike today. He will also be getting some Legos and getting to go play laser tag. (And this isn’t even the “official” birthday party.) But you’re only 8 once. ;-)

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drank Maple Bacon by Man Teas
937 tasting notes

We’re now one pot away from sipdown and the BF has announced he’s had enough of this which puts a bit of a crimp in my planning. Looks like I’ll have to take up the banner alone.

I can do this. This sucker is going down tomorrow.

It will not be missed, but it will have been enjoyed before it got to be too much and I’ll be forever thankful for the learning experience. I now know that most “food” teas (except for pastries and other dessert type fare) are not for me.

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drank Ginseng Vitality by Teavana
937 tasting notes

This is a strange little tisane. There’s a lot of citrus peel smell in the packet coming from this fruity/reedy looking mix.

After steeping, I could have sworn I smelled orange. But there’s no orange in this. I suspect it is the interaction of apple and lemon that’s generating some in between smell/flavor I perceive as orange. The tisane has a pretty, clear, peachy/amber liquor.

With cardamom, cloves and black pepper I’d expect this to have a bit of a kick, but it doesn’t really. What I taste is really the apple, cinnamon, and lemon and not much else.

I am sure this was a tea of the month club selection because I can’t imagine myself choosing something like this to order. I associate ginseng with health food stores and supplements. I am sure it has a flavor but I wouldn’t recognize the flavor without being told what it is.

It’s vaguely medicinal, but not so much that it is off-putting. More along the lines of something that is probably good for you in a way that is focused more on effect than on flavor. Not a favorite, but won’t be painful to sip down.

It’s another discontinued Teavana product, so this is the end, beautiful friends.

ETA: I should also mention that I didn’t really taste the rooibos. (Rooibos doesn’t seem to be bothering me much lately.) This also contains mistletoe and St. John’s wort, which doesn’t help dispel the medicinal associations.

Boiling 7 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

Ginseng has a vaguely licorice-y flavour.


Thanks! Interestingly, I tasted no licorice.

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drank Go Go Goji by Teavana
937 tasting notes

Lowered the temp to 175 and steeped for one minute. Also haven’t had it in a while.

Between these two things, it was quite enjoyable this evening. I still don’t know from the flavor of goji berries, but I definitely taste the lychee and it’s definitely not stepping over the line.

There’s also a bit more tea to taste this time, which may also be the effect of the lower temperature.

Enjoyable after a long, stressful day and week.

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drank Sweet Cinnamon Spice by Tazo
937 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 96 of the year 2014.

I way overbought, not knowing what I was getting into.

Now it is gone.

As See-Threepio would say, “Thank the Maker.”


You have been very brave.


Or very foolish…. ;-)


Oy, I had a box of this once and bequeathed it to my office!


i don’t really like Cinnamon tea :(


TeaBrat, that sounds like the way to go.

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Another of the many LeafSpa teas I ordered a while back (before they closed their doors).

I steeped some of this in the Breville and poured it into my brand new Timolino to take to work. (One of the several tea ware items I allowed myself to buy at my recent visit to DAVIDSTea since I wouldn’t let myself buy any tea other than what I could drink there.)

Really loving the Timolino. The best travel gadget I have. I love the fact that you can sip it from any direction without taking the lid completely off, and you don’t have to push or poke anything to get the tea to come out. But that’s beside the point.

I didn’t spend a lot of time with this prior to pouring it in the Timolino so I’ll have to do a more detailed note later invoking other sense perceptions, but for now I wanted to record my first experience of the flavor.

I think I might steep it a bit shorter next time because I get a little bitterness around the edges, but other than that, this is a very refreshing tea. It has a vegetal flavor that isn’t overly sweet or buttery but has a little of each. I’m thinking a very light bok choy? Maybe a little spinach, too. There’s a pleasant aftertaste that’s vaguely nutty, in a very light, greenish way, like the aftertaste of Brazil nuts.

I’m going to enjoy getting to know this one.

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

Woohoo for your timolino!


I’m so glad I got it!


That is so exciting that you got a Timolino! I love mine too. Which colour did you get?


They call it “midnight green.” It’s a really intense, deep metallic green color. V. pretty.


Nice. :)


Sadly, I don’t like their teas anymore but I’m ADDICTED to DAVIDsTEA teaware!! I just find it annoying that they are continuously out of stock on many items…
Glad you are enjoying your new baby, great colour!


TF, I really love their tea ware, too. They were OUT OF THE MASON JAR at the location I visited or I certainly would have had to get one of those. ;-) As it is, I got this, some bubble cups and a couple of spoons. I really like the way their spoons feel in the hand. Nice weight, nice balance.

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Sipdown no. 95 for the year 2014! It’s looking like I’ll make it to 100 this weekend. Woo hoo!

I am sorry to see this one go, so I’m bumping the rating. Another of my “starter” group, it became the commuting and toodling around tea after the Three Kingdoms Mao Feng, mostly because it was in bags and it was easy to drop into the travel contraptions, but it’s also just a nice, fairly light, tasty-without-calling-attention-to-itself tea.

No. 1 really liked it as well.

It’s one of the few in the starter group I’d consider buying again, along with Refresh and Lotus from Tazo, and Chinese Breakfast Yunnan Black and Monkey King Jasmine Green from Numi.

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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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