953 Tasting Notes


We have finished our bike ride and will soon be heading out to laser tag. I’m having this in the interim.

I didn’t really get to see it the last time I had it because it went straight into the Timolino. This time I’m having it in a cup, and I can see a sunshiny yellow clear liquor. It smells like sweet, buttery, fresh hay.

I forgot to steep it shorter (I see in my previous note I meant to do that). I’m not getting as much of a bitter note this time, though. It may be because I used a bit more leaf? I’m also getting just a tad of roastiness today which is pleasant. Not quite as strong as a roasted veggie flavor, just a nice note under the surface. I’m still getting buttery vegetables in the sip and a green nuttiness in the aftertaste.

Quite nice, and feels like the right thing to put in one’s body after an hour of cycling.


OMG, I so envy you right now…wish I could have a bike ride in february…other than stationary bike!!!


That is one great thing about California for sure. We had a good time. I’m really tired now though. Ready to so my assignment, watch Downton Abbey and go to sleep!

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drank Almond Cookie by SpecialTeas
953 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 100 for the year 2014! Woo hoo!!! Pretty exciting.

I would feel sad about this one except for the fact that I still have the Teavana Almond Biscotti, and even better, the American Tearoom Brioche, and Brioche is still available.

This is the an-tea-dote to the earlier sipdown. A lovely, sweet, almond, butter, and some cookie-like flavor and a happy note to end on before going bike riding. The kids and I are going for a ride to take no. 2’s new birthday present out for a spin. Followed by laser tag, followed by Lego shopping.

I have an exercise due tonight for my writing class. (When is that going to get done? I have no idea…)


Sounds like a fun and tasty day. Hope you get your assignment done.


It was, thanks! I’ve got to get to the assignment now..

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drank Maple Bacon by Man Teas
953 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 99 of the year 2014.

This has been a difficult sipdown because the flavor of this tea, while incredibly maple bacon, isn’t for me.

If I didn’t think this had done a stellar job of living up to its name, my rating would definitely be in the orange face range.

Bye Maple Bacon. Thanks for your role in helping to refine my understanding of my own tastes.

ETA: No. 2 asked to try it and liked it, so I didn’t even have to finish the sipdown. Yay!


Good job for the sipdown though!


Thanks! And yay! LOL

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drank Jasmine #12 by Adagio Teas
953 tasting notes

Continuing with the jasmine theme….

The last time I tasted this was quite a while ago, and I made it in the Breville. Today I’m doing short steeps in the gaiwan.

It makes all the difference in the world! This is at least as good a representative of its type as the Adagio Oolong #40 is for its. So I’m bumping the rating to the same number.

This responds very well to short steepings. The little rolled balls of leaves opened up for me fully by the third steep. I didn’t record in my original note whether they unfurled for me in the Breville, but my recollection is that they didn’t.

I did two at 30 seconds, two at 45 seconds, and I would have done more but we are leaving for no. 2’s birthday celebration.

Between this and the Tavalon Jasmine Dream, though, I definitely got my jasmine fix.


Happy Birthday to your son!


jasmine green tea is tasty


Thanks, boychik!

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As I’m getting toward the end of this sample, I’m zeroing in on the parameters at which it seems to perform best.

First, short steeps are better than long ones. I did multiple 30 second and 45 second steeps today instead of going up to a minute or more and I never hit the bitter edge that was unpleasant in one of my previous tastings.

Second, lots of leaf is better than less leaf. This is tied to the steeping times. I filled the gaiwan closer to half than a third today and I think it came out better.

Third, it helps to have some time to apply to the drinking of this rather than to do it while being rushed or distracted.

It’s very roasty/toasty, and that peachy note is available when you aren’t too distracted to think about what you’re tasting.

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drank Jasmine Dream by Tavalon Tea
953 tasting notes

I love the way jasmine smells, and I love jasmine in tea. I just thought I should get that out of the way. ;-)

The smell in the container is of, of course, jasmine, but also a toasty note that I don’t typically associate with Chinese green teas.

The jasmine scent from the tea after steeping is really deep. It’s a sultry jasmine rather than a perky jasmine. The tea is a medium yellow and clear.

The flavor is pretty intensely jasmine, but unlike other Chinese green jasmines I’ve had, this one actually evokes the jasmine flower rather than the jasmine “flavor.” There’s a freshness to it, as though I’m tasting the petals from a fresh flower. I can also taste the green tea in and among the jasmine, and I often have an issue with jasmine greens where I really can’t distinguish the tea base. Perhaps it’s that toastiness that makes this one stand out. But it doesn’t taste toasty. It’s not smoky like gunpowder green. It’s a darker flavor though, sort of like gunpowder without the smoke but not quite as dark.

I am quite enjoying this. I have a jasmine oolong on the agenda for later this afternoon before we leave for no. 2’s birthday dinner. I’m hoping to stop at Bed, Bath and Beyond on the way and pick up some tools so I can season the little Yixing. Speaking of that, I really need to find my matcha bowl. It’s been bugging me that I can’t find it. I should apply myself to a search tomorrow.

Flavors: Flowers

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

Great note, I know what you mean, I gravitate towards the jasmine flower rather than the jasmine flavour, huge difference, right? Jasmine can be as offensive as some bergamot. I love both, but just when they are done according to my standards. Personally, I love all things jasmine from Teavivre!


Great to know. When I come out of lockdown I’ll be sure to order some jasmine from Teavivre!


I just love your little pot. It seems you just ordered it, right? I’m looking for some too. Just can’t decided. I need for sheng and for shu. Did you decide on a tea?


Oh, and happy birthday little #2, and good luck on the seasoning!! Lol, matcha bowl is missing in action, are you going to use it for the seasoning?


Might also investigate the jasmines from Shang. They are all done with flowers, not flavoring.


Thanks, Nicole, I’ll definitely keep them in mind.

TF, no, I wasn’t planning to use it for that. I was planning to drink matcha out of it. LOL


Haha! The way you mentioned it I thought you might use in as a support while boiling or something, but didn’t think it was such a great idea, lol!


I’ve picked up some new jasmines lately, thanks for reminding me to try them.

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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
953 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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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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