1183 Tasting Notes


Revisiting this one today for my first morning tea. I have very much the same impression that I had the first time around, which is that this is a tasty tea. But if I was doing a blind tasting of it, I probably wouldn’t identify it as an Earl Grey. And I certainly wouldn’t identify it as a creamy Earl Grey.

I might identify it as a fruity floral, in the same general category as one of the Kusmi black tea blends like St. Petersburg. I don’t taste vanilla or cream, I don’t taste bergamot. I taste something vaguely fruity that is more of a red fruit taste than a citrus taste, that starts fruity and ends floral. Almost rose-like.

Torn on the rating. It gets a lot of points for tastiness and smoothness, but it doesn’t taste like what it says it is, i.e., an earl grey creme. I’m going to keep the rating where it is. I really like the tea (points up). But it isn’t what I think of as an Earl Grey creme (points down).


Simpson & Vail is such an odd company. Some of their blends are just awful, but some are truly gems. I don’t know what to think.


I sometimes wonder whether the reason their teas don’t necessarily taste like what I’d expect is because they arrived in those paper bags nestled together, sharing their smells with each other when I unpacked the order.


That absolutely ruined an order I got from them once. Damn Strawberry Cupcake! I only order their stuff in the tin option now. :/

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Sipdown no. 183. A sample.

Last caffeine of the day. Sweet, green smell in the packet and lovely feathery green leaves. Steeps to a light yellow color with an aroma somewhere between mown grass and steamed peas.

Light, vegetal (still peas, mostly, and some broccoli) in the sip, and grassy in the aftertaste. Pretty much what I expected, though it’s been a while since I’ve had a Den’s sencha, or any sencha, and I really don’t recall what I was thinking in terms of ratings when I rated some of the others. Putting this one on a par with the highest rated in the past.

Another plus: green tea always makes me feel like I’m being so healthy. :-)

Flavors: Broccoli, Grass, Hay, Peas

180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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Sipdown no. 182.

Tried this in my dark oolong yixing today. It’s really the yixing’s maiden voyage, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Interestingly, with the first 15 second steep, I found that the yixing imparted a sort of “roundness” to the flavor for lack of a better word. It manifested as a smoothness in the sip and a freshness and coolness in the aftertaste. I put it through four more steeps adding 5 seconds each time, thinking that the experience might grow from there.

But beginning with the second steep, the new yixing pretty much sucked the tea flavor away and left me with some not unpleasant tasting warm water.

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Sipdown no. 181. Another Life In Teacup oolong sample.

This one is pretty special. Unfortunately I’m not seeing it on the Life In Teacup site now. The dry leaves are dark brown and delicate looking, and they smell like your basic roasty highly oxidized oolong, including the sharp darjeeling-y note.

Steeped, they produce a clear, amber colored liquor, with a roasty, nutty (mostly hazelnut, I think, but also suggesting almond), stonefruit (peach, maybe?) aroma.

The flavor is, however, pleasantly unexpected. It’s not the usual roasty dark oolong flavor. It’s remarkably smooth and soft tasting, with an unusual sweetness to it, but not overly sweet.

I am not sure have had a Bai Hao before, but I am now a fan. This is one of the better, if not the best, Taiwan dark oolongs I’ve had.

I steeped this in the gaiwan at 195F for short steeps after rinsing, starting at 15 seconds and adding 5 second increments.

The first two steeps had the lovely sweet, rounded softness to them.

The third and fourth were a bit less sweet and more hazel-nutty tasting but still very smooth.

By the fifth, the softness was still there but there was also a little sharpening around the edges beginning, which I think heralded the leaves being about to reach their limit.

I went ahead and did one more steep after that, by which this was still flavorful but starting to taste more ordinary, for lack of a better word.

Still probably the best Taiwan oolong I’ve tasted to this point, as its rating reflects.

Flavors: Almond, Hazelnut, Smooth, Stonefruits

195 °F / 90 °C

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Only 10 more notes until I hit 1000. Wow.

I’m a little surprised that there wasn’t an entry for this already. I have several samples of ATR Yunnans, and since I’ve been enjoying Yunnans recently I decided to try one of them.

My sample is just called Golden Yunnan. It doesn’t have the word organic in it, but I’m pretty sure this is the same as what’s currently on the ATR site.

The leaves in my packet looked pretty much exactly like the picture on the site, mostly medium-dark green with some golden tips punctuating the green. The dry tea has a surprisingly complex aroma. A little earth, a little tobacco, a little pepper.

Steeped, its a clear, dark reddish brown and has a really mouthwatering sweet aroma that makes me think of molasses or a really dark honey, but also of baking bread.

The flavor is amazingly smooth and soothing, and it immediately calmed my tummy which had reacted to too much black tea this morning before this one. It has a natural sweetness, but isn’t overly sweet. There’s a bit of a fresh bakery bread taste, and if I look for the tobacco note I can find it. There’s that malty quality I find in Yunnans as well, and the characteristic dash of pepper in the finish.

Just a really pleasant tea all around. I’m looking forward to trying my other Yunnan samples from ATR.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Honey, Malt, Molasses, Pepper, Tobacco

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

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I see on the 52 Teas site that there was apparently a rather recent reblend of this, but that’s not the one I have.

In rereading my original note on this, I mentioned that as it was no longer available I’d have to husband my supply. That was the “old” thinking, the save the best for last thinking I’m trying to get away from.

Yay for teas you really really really like! Such a pleasure to drink them, it almost makes kissing all the frogs to get to them worth it. Though I still have tea coming out of my ears, once I get that under control (if ever), I think I’m ready to settle down and standardize on some things. Which isn’t to say I won’t try new things from time to time, just that I’m no longer so much about trying ALL THE TEA.

Which is why it’s unfortunate this isn’t available all the time. It would definitely be a standard in my flavored black tea cupboard if it was. Ice cream without the calories, what’s not to like?

Flavors: Butter, Cream, Nuts, Pecan


I have the new version of this I think. It’s pretty amazing. And as for teas I don’t love, I’m going through and trying everything, and donating the stuff I don’t want to different groups that support people in need.


OMG, that is a cool idea. Do they take stuff that is opened, though? I am pretty sure the places around me that accept food donations will only take things that are sealed.


These places do, as they tend to stock community kitchens. I’d suggest asking around at shelters or women’s centres. A lot of them just want to stock snacks for people.

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drank Earl Grey Creme by Art of Tea
1183 tasting notes

For a while, I had developed a habit of starting the day with an Earl Grey, but I haven’t had one since I cycled back to tea this last time around. This was the first one I put my hands on this morning. It was a good choice. The vanilla gentles the bergamot and the tea overall, and it perked up the rainy, dreary morning I woke up to.

Flavors: Bergamot, Vanilla

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drank Rooibos Peach Bloom by Teavana
1183 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 180, my version of this which doesn’t have the bloom at the end.

Everyone in the family had a bit of this tonight, but I had most of it. A pleasant accompaniment to what is shaping up to be a rainy night. We just had a blast of thunder so loud it set off car alarms up and down the street. That doesn’t usually happen here. Climate change. Sigh.

Flavors: Apricot, Peach, Vanilla

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drank Jasmine Green Tea by Kusmi Tea
1183 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 179. One of the small Kusmi tins that looks like a Fancy Feast can.

I was in the mood for something I knew I’d like. This really hit the spot. I have gone on at length in past notes about how much I love jasmine tea and how candy-like it is to me, so I won’t do that again (aren’t you relieved?). This was consistent with my last experience of it; nice jasmine flavor, but don’t really taste the tea as much as I’d like to. Still, it’s yummy, it’s jasmine, and it’s available, so I have to recommend it.

By the way, I was just on the Kusmi site to check availability, and they have an announcement for a chance to win a year’s worth of tea and a five night stay in a luxury hotel (somewhere). I didn’t enter because my email box is jammed up as it is and you have to agree to receive promotional materials from this hotel organization as well as Kusmi, but if you don’t mind that you might want to check it out.

Flavors: Jasmine

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drank Smoky Bacon by Man Teas
1183 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 178. Backlogging from before the trip over the last few days.

In a word, yay.

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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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