951 Tasting Notes

78

Hi all! Generally hot weather, combined with end of school year craziness with the kids and the fact that one of my colleagues at work recently departed so (guess what) I am now doing part of his job as well are all conspirators to keep me from enjoying sitting down with a cup of tea, much less writing tasting notes. However, I’ve been coughing for the last couple of days and today, I woke up with a squeak in my voice signalling the beginning of laryngitis. Ugh.

The good news is that baseball season is almost over, one of the kids’ other activities is on hiatus until the fall, and school will be over in a couple of weeks.

This tea has now become part of my work stash, and I’m glad I had it here with me today. There really is nothing like a cup of warm tea for any throat ailment. I see more warm tea and potentially a few notes in my future. ;-)

I was cold brewing for a while and then got side tracked by some other bright shiny objects and haven’t put any up for a while, but I think I will do that tonight as well.

Hope everyone’s doing well!

boychik

Welcome back!

__Morgana__

Thanks! I will try to stay “back” but it’s so crazy right now. Sigh.

boychik

I know. I have 2 proms and 2 orientations to attend. Busy with dresses and shoes. Oh they drive me nuts. You are so lucky! Boys don’t care abt this stuff

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72
drank Great White by Tavalon Tea
951 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 154 of the year 2014.

Honestly, I don’t care enough about this tea to try to perfect steeping parameters for it. It was decent, but not special when I tried in the gaiwan, and I tried it several times. I dumped what was left (about 6 grams) into the Breville and made it according to Tavalon’s instructions—180 degrees, 4 minutes.

This didn’t make it any more or less remarkable than it was in the gaiwan using a lower temperature. Fortunately, it isn’t planty, so I give it higher than usual white peony marks for that, and this time a slight floral note is coming out high above some slight woodiness.

But I strongly suspect white peony and I simply aren’t meant to be unless it is operating as the base for a nicely flavored white tea.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 4 min, 0 sec 6 g 17 OZ / 500 ML
@ligongsf

so I guess you find it too banal?

@ligongsf

what time of day do you usually drink tea?

__Morgana__

inspiregong, I drink different types of tea at different times of day. Usually black in the morning and early afternoon, then white or green in the mid-afternoon, then if I have oolong on a particular day I usually drink it in the afternoon, and herbals/decafs at night.

I don’t know if banal is the right word. By comparison to other white peonies, this one isn’t bad and there’s nothing offensive about it. I just don’t seem to find white peony in general very flavorful and though I have a fair amount of it in my stash and will keep trying, once that’s done I’m not sure it’s something I’ll be restocking in my personal stash.

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85

Sipdown no. 153 of the year 2014.

I think I have figured out what Harney tea this reminds me of. Ready?

Queen Catherine!

And here’s the really amusing thing. I see that I rated this and Queen Catherine the same without realizing at the time what the comparison was.

I had the kids do a sniff test of what was left in this sample bag against what was in the Queen Catherine sample. They both said this one smelled more “green.”

Anna

I’m pretty sure my namesake can take any queen any day.

Just saying.

__Morgana__

Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford? Originator of “afternoon tea”? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Russell,_Duchess_of_Bedford

You have a point there. :-)

Anna

Exactly that namesake.

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72
drank Fruta Bomba by Teavana
951 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 152 of the year 2014.

Not much to add to previous notes. Pleasant enough, just not particularly distinctive as fruit flavored green teas go.

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66
drank Orange U Slim by Teas Etc
951 tasting notes

This is a nice sized sample in a sealed packet. Too much to be sipped down in one sitting. It’s enough for two servings.

This has a faint orange fragrance in the packet, and I don’t smell tea underneath. The leaves are dark with curls of orange peel among them.

After a rinse and an initial 15 second steep in the gaiwan, the liquor is darker than I expected, sort of a natural honey color. There’s a dark oolong stonefruit aroma with a slight citrus note.

I get what Rabs said about this, there’s an earthy flavor. Even after a very short steep it’s almost bitter, which is disappointing. I get not much in the way of orange flavor. It’s very faint. It could be a fair amount stronger without running the risk of overpowering the oolong base.

Second steep, 20 seconds. The liquor is darker, a sort of brandy color. More orange in the aroma, along with the typical dark oolong toastiness. Still not much orange in the flavor, and as dark oolongs go, this one doesn’t seem to have a lot of flavor to the base, either. It’s not bitter on this steep, but it doesn’t have much complexity.

Third steep, 25 seconds. The flavor has opened up some. There’s a bit more orange flavor, and a rather pleasant, thick mouthfeel. Some astringency and some peach-pit notes starting to emerge from what seemed before a sort of generic woodiness. A slight bitterness at the finish.

Fourth steep, 30 seconds. Pretty much the same as the third.

I may fiddle around with this through a few more steeps, but it’s not doing much for me. It’s drinkable, but it doesn’t bowl me over.

Flavors: Orange Zest, Stonefruits

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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84

Sipdown no. 151 of the year 2014. This time I made it with plain Assam (LeafSpa Banaspaty Bliss) as the extra black tea rather than spicy chocolate to see what difference that might make.

It does tone down the spice to about an 11 from a 15 or so, but it’s still quite spicy and there’s a substantial afterburn. Certainly a bit more than I can handle on a regular basis, but every now and then something like this could definitely hit the spot.

I really do like chai, which may explain why I seem to have it coming out of my ears. I haven’t counted all my chais, but I have two other chocolate chais from 52teas and at least ten others (some chocolate, some not) that I can think of offhand, not counting samples. It’s likely that number is higher. Sipping down chais isn’t all that easy for me. It’s higher in calories (because milk) and more labor intensive than most other teas, so I can’t drink it as frequently as I’d like. So getting this sipdown in gives me a feeling of accomplishment!

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90

This is yum.

I think I bought this sample because I liked the name (both because of the London neighborhood and because of the movie), but I’m glad I did. It’s a bold, hearty breakfast tea without being heavy. In the packet, I can smell both a bit of sharpness from the Assam and maltiness from the Yunnan. The steeped tea has a sweet, malty aroma and is a clear, mahogany color.

It has been a while since I had the Earl Grey Shanghai, but this reminds me somewhat of the base of that tea (must be the Yunnan) without the bergamot. I definitely get the “woodsy sweetness” of the description, as there’s something very arboreal about the flavor. I’m conscious I’m drinking something made from leaves when drinking this, and it’s a pleasant reminder. I can also get a hint of sweet tobacco.

Definitely many notes in this one, all of which work together nicely. It’s going on the shopping list.

And happy Easter to those who are celebrating.

Flavors: Malt, Tobacco, Wood

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML
TheTeaFairy

Ahhh, that movie brings back old memories…way TOO old, lol!!

__Morgana__

Hah! I didn’t even remember when it came out, I had to go look it up. 1999. Doesn’t seem that long ago. I’m pretty sure I didn’t see it until years after it came out, so maybe that’s why.

CelebriTEA

I loved that movie! Glad the tea did not disappoint.

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74

Wow, it’s been five days since I posted a note. Which goes to show how crazy it has been.

The kids were on spring break and going to a day camp, so our schedule got all discombobulated from that, plus work has been such that I come home every day feeling as though I’ve been crushed and ground into a fine powder. And then some nights, I had to get back on the phone for calls with Asia. My left eyebrow has been twitching intermittently for the last week, which sometimes happens when I’m overtired or stressed.

I have been feeling unmoored and I think it is because all vestiges of routine have been abandoned. I haven’t even been having breakfast, really. No morning coffee or tea, or at least not on a regular basis.

Also, it’s been warm-ish here, so I haven’t been craving hot drinks.

But as I mentioned in the last note before the lapse, I cold brewed some of this.

I don’t think my palate is very refined when it comes to tasting iced teas. I mean, I can taste a difference between this and the other cold brewed blacks I have had lately, but not a great difference. I suspect that the fact that the difference isn’t that great is reason enough not to brew this cold, unless I try it hot and it doesn’t send me. Darjeeling may be too complex a flavor to translate to iced tea readily? There’s a little more sharpness to this than there is with the cold Assam but sharpness isn’t really the right word because the cold brewing has blunted it. Otherwise, it’s pretty much a decent black iced tea and does the job of being a refreshing cold drink.

Continued apologies for not reading/commenting as much as I’d like.

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more 8 tsp 64 OZ / 1892 ML
Courtney

No routine is brutal. Hopefully that is a short-term thing. :)

boychik

I’m sorry you are stressed. I cannot wait until spring break is over. Apr22 is jury duty. Oh we’ll…

__Morgana__

Thanks. Yes, I think I need to make an effort to get the routine back on track. I would also probably help if I ate less food that was bad for me and exercised….

TheTeaFairy

Oh my, I hope you can get back to a “normal” life really soon. Not the eyebrow, but my left eyelid also twitches when stress becomes too intense, very unnerving…

__Morgana__

Thanks, TF :-) Usually it’s my lid that twitches, too, but this time it’s higher up. Annoying.

Tealizzy

I had the eye twitch last week too! Hope next week is better for you!!

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80

Made some of this cold brewed using the same formula I used for the Grapefruit Black. It was quite good, a great thirst quencher which is really one of my main requirements for cold tea. No. 1 liked it as well.

I’m now trying cold brewing the LeafSpa Goomtee Darjeeling. I’ll let you know how it turns out sometime after 5 p.m. tomorrow.

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72
drank Fruta Bomba by Teavana
951 tasting notes

I realized that I forgot to post no. 1’s results from his piano Certificate of Merit exam and now I feel bad about not posting it because (to the extent anyone thought about it at all ;-)) my silence may have led you to believe that he crashed and burned.

Brag starts here:

However, such was not the case. He got all excellents except for in sight reading, where he got a good. And he got a branch honors sticker on his certificate.

So now that I’ve set the record straight. This tea is definitely a step up from the Choconut and a decent flavored green tea, but not very distinctive. It’s one of many tropical fruit flavored greens I’ve had that are solid but not exceptional. So I can’t say I’ll miss it much when it’s gone, which should be fairly soon, because chances are I have another tea with a similar flavor somewhere in my stash. Perhaps even two or three…

carol who

Congrats to No.1!

__Morgana__

Thank you. :-)

boychik

Congrats!!! So, is it going to affect your son middle school choice? We have crazy competition in NY.

__Morgana__

Nah, he’s just going to go to the neighborhood public school (unless he stops learning at it, in which case I’ll have to figure something out). I am thinking about private high school, but it’s hard to know what’s right to do. California public schools have a pretty bad national reputation because there’s no money for them because of Prop 13, but the ones in our town are rated higher than most and they make up for some of the deficit with private educational foundation contributions. But high school I’m not so sure about. There are arguments both ways—that you have a better shot at getting into a top university from a private school because your education is just better all around, or you have a better shot of getting in through a public school if you’re in the top 5% or so of the class because in the private schools everyone is applying to the same places. It’s pretty confusing. I sometimes think about going back to school and I wonder whether I’d be able to get in now, and my university and professional schools weren’t too shabby by any standard. Sigh.

boychik

Top 5% that’s what I heard. My older one just got a letter of acceptance to two great high schools in NYC. We decided on the one which is smaller and close to home. My middle one has to get some news on middle school any day now. So exciting and frustrating at the same time. I can’t afford private school w/ 3. Hoping for the best;)

__Morgana__

Yeah, I keep hoping he’ll settle down by high school. Right now he’s one of those kids that’s very smart but not very careful and doesn’t really see the value of studying. Of course, I didn’t see the value of studying until I was in college, so I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…

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Profile

Bio

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.

Location

Bay Area, California

Website

http://www.jjroth.net

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