1118 Tasting Notes

drank Ruby Tuesday by Todd & Holland
1118 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 147 of the year 2014.

Friday, my ISP went down in California and it is only now back up. I’m unable to get online through my router, but I can get on through the DSL modem alone.

I hate my ISP. I want to get cable because though I live in Silicon Valley, I can only get the most limited DSL service, 1.5 MBPS in my area. Which sucks. The problem is I’ve had the same ISP for almost 15 years and everyone…. everyone… who has my email address, from banks and doctors to friends and relatives, has this email address for me. I’m not sure what to do about it, but the situation has become intolerable.

In any case, I drank other teas this weekend and even took notes on them, but as this is a sipdown, it’s the only one I think I’m going to post. I’m just really in an awful mood and I don’t want to be a downer through five notes instead of one.

The blend I drank is different from the one currently up on the T&H web site. This one is cranberry only, not the “riot of red fruits.” Perhaps the riot is better.

This was a dark brown tea with small leaves. I believe it was a keemun base, or at least had a lot of keemun in it because it had a smoky aroma when dry and after steeping and there was smoke in the flavor, too. The dry mix had pretty red petals in it and among the smoke was also a berry aroma, but not clearly cranberry.

The tea’s aroma had some maltiness and a berry note. It was a deep reddish brown color.

I had this twice, though I didn’t log it the first time because it was one of the teas that the Original Spice Decaf encroached upon and all I could taste was this weird cinnamon aura. The second time, yesterday, that was not present, thankfully.

Unfortunately, the tea was pretty bitter. I steeped for four minutes and perhaps it would have been less so if I’d only steeped for 3, but since I don’t have more, I can’t try it. I had high hopes for this, but it didn’t do it for me. The underlying tea base just didn’t work with the flavoring agent—too strong, too smoky, and the berry flavor too light, vague almost, with no natural sweetness at all. I can see liking a black cranberry tea with a more amenable base, and it makes me want to try some.

But this, alas, was a total bust for me.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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Sipdown no. 146 of the year 2014. Almost to 150! Still hard to believe I’ve hardly made a dent.

This one is very consistent in flavor, which reinforces my thoughts about it from last night. I forgot to mention its steeped color, which is a sort of maple syrup color.

And great, I just poured some down my keyboard. Not on purpose. Grumble grumble.

One more thing worth mentioning about this. It’s strong, and it has a long memory. This morning I steeped the LeafSpa Irish Breakfast in the Breville, after having steeped this last night. There was definitely a cinnamon-y aura around the Irish Breakfast, despite my most excellent rinsing of the filter and pot.

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I cold brewed this because it’s been rather on the hot side here lately, which now that I think about it may be one of the reasons I’ve not been craving tea.

8 teaspoons of loose leaf to 2 quarts water, steeped in fridge for approx. 20 hours.

I think I could have gone longer. Next time I’ll try at least 24.

It’s a nice “iced” tea, but not very grapefruit-y at all. In looking back at my original note, I see that it wasn’t very grapefruit-y on the first taste either, when I tried it hot.

I’m a little disappointed. I’ve changed my view on grapefruit tea in general. I really like the way it works in tea, and in a variety of teas—black, green, oolong, white—even though grapefruit isn’t my first choice of citrus at the buffet table. (Perhaps because as a kid I was forced to eat it for breakfast, and there were times when it was somewhat frostbitten or otherwise unpleasant in terms of texture.) I had hoped that this would come out with a stronger flavor done cold. But it wasn’t to be.

Question for the cold brew veterans since I haven’t done this much, maybe three times. Is it unusual for the tea to float at the top of the container? By about hour 20 most of it had sunk, but there was still a fairly thick layer of floating tea at the top of the container. I put the tea in after the water. If I put the tea in first, would that make a difference?


I have no idea but I just want you to know I like reading your reviews.


Whenever I’ve tried it, some floats, some sinks, and I’ve always put the tea in first.


I’ve put it in both before and after the water and it usually floats, while some sinks. As it gets waterlogged over time, more sinks.


Thanks keychange! And thanks for the input, Cheri and Courtney. I am glad that my floating leaves are not abnormal. :-)

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Very strong cinnamon smell from the packet and a blend full of small bits of what appears to be stick cinnamon. After steeping, the cinnamon aroma is sweet and reminiscent of red hot candies, but at the same time there’s a sort of a woody fragrance that is pleasant.

Wow. The tea is very sweetly cinnamon-y, very reminiscent of the Harney Hot Cinnamon Spice—but because it is decaf, with a bit less heft. I haven’t tried the Harney decaf version of the Hot Cinnamon Spice, but I should. I suspect there’s not a need to stock both that and this, but I don’t know how the Harney measures up as a decaf.

This, however, is quite flavorful and in a very good way. As decafs go, it’s better than most I’ve tried. There is hardly any tea flavor that I can discern, but what it lacks in tea flavor it more than makes up for in sweet cinnamon. The tea isn’t the reason to drink this, as it isn’t the reason to drink the Harney Hot Cinnamon Spice.

It gets high marks from me for a decaf. The only reason I’m not rating it a bit higher is I’d like to taste more tea even in a decaf.

Flavors: Cinnamon

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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Sipdown no. 145 of the year 2014.

As I am hopelessly behind on the daily sipdown project, I am now adjusting my goal to keep myself on an average sipdown of 1 per day, and as it is the 98th day of the year, I’m still in pretty good shape. I keep hoping that as things settle down I’ll be able to establish a new habit, but the problem is lately things have not been settling down.

Today I even ran out of the house without my Timolino, which was tragic. I had a slice of bread with peanut butter in my hand which I wolfed down in the car. Wolfed being the operative word, because it felt as though it stuck in my chest on the way down. It was really uncomfortable and I had nothing to wash it down with so I had to stop and buy a drink at the closest gas station.

But having now gotten through two training sessions and a couple of phone calls, I am taking a break to have some tea. I forgot, somehow, that this had rooibos in it. Now at sipdown, I’m remembering—because it appears that a lot of the rooibos sifted down to the bottom of the tin.

As I’ve mentioned, this doesn’t taste bad, it’s just weird and not very oolongy. It’s sort of a smoother, lighter version of the Constant Comment flavor profile, right down to the orange. It actually reminds me of the “tea” my mother made for my father when he had a cold, which was essentially some cinnamon sticks and clove and a touch of lemon. I can’t now remember whether she just boiled these up in water or whether she added them to Lipton. Either way, it wasn’t a particularly subtle flavor but also not horrible.

This is actually pretty flavorful and not at all offensive. I just get no oolong at all in the flavor, and the toasted nut brulee name baffles me. I think it should be called orange cinnamon cardamom. Wouldn’t you know, Teavana still carries this one. Figures.


Ugh. I’ve definitely had food stuck in my chest before (well it felt that way) and it’s awful. Glad you could wash it down with something!


It’s awful, no? And worse with peanut butter, which felt like it had adhered to my esophagus.


Yeah this tea is VERY weird. I don’t understand the name at all either. I have a bunch at home of this, but I just can’t bring myself to drink it anymore. Maybe iced would be better??


I don’t know if it would be better iced, but you could give it a try!

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Sipdown no. 144 of the year 2014.

I would have liked to hold onto this one a bit longer since T&H doesn’t offer it anymore and it’s one of the better decafs I’ve had, but I have to be ruthless where sipdowns are concerned or I’ll lose my momentum. ;-) I’ve come dangerously close to losing it a couple of times recently and I know it’s going to be a fight to keep going.

The rest of this isn’t about tea, so skip if you’re not interested in my philosophizing for a bit.

Overthem00n and I were talking the other day about “serial obsessions.” Those things certain personality types, such as mine, throw themselves into for periods of time then max out on for a while and move to the next thing. Mine seem to rotate though they don’t follow any particular rotation order. Fiction writing. Voracious reading. Tea. Computer games. Exercising obsessively (i.e., every day without fail even if it means I do it at midnight). Involvement in various types of social media. (There are also the one-offs that I’ve been obsessive about but don’t seem to be in the rotation, like knitting and other needlework and gardening.) I really should google this and see if anything has been written about it.

Anna’s recent post about not drinking tea because then she’d have to write a note about it reminded me of how my serial obsessions tend to peter out and then I find myself going on to the next thing. The feel-good pay off isn’t as present as a feeling of obligation, drudgery or frustration. The last time I fell off the Steepster bandwagon for an extended period, it was because of this exact feeling. More work than fun. It happens to me with writing usually after a much longer period of time, but it’s the same principle. It stops being fun and starts being “work.” (It’s always work, but usually it’s fun.) But the problem is that if I stop for a long time, then I never know what would have happened if I kept pushing. Like what if I quit each time, right when it’s getting hard—but it’s getting hard not because of why I think it’s getting hard, I.e., the usual writer frustration and self-doubt, but because I’m about to break through to a new personal best of sorts? What if I’m keeping myself from continuing to improve because I quit when it gets hard?

So this last time it happened, as an experiment, I decided to make myself push through. Keep going to my class, keep doing the exercises each week even if I wrote nothing else. Keep doing that until the enthusiasm returned, because it always does. It’s just that in the past, I’d stop doing it for years at a time until the enthusiasm returned. Okay, this last time I went on hiatus I had a good excuse, two kids born within 21 months of each other and a full time job. But when I think about all the books I read about parenting small children, I recognize that my activities during that period were rather part of the obsession continuum as well. Yeah, I made my own organic baby food. That sort of thing. I’d do it again, too, but in its way, it was part of the same channeling of passion in a particular way.

And I think it’s working. I can feel the enthusiasm for fiction writing coming back. There have been a few external serendipitous things that have worked to push me back toward the enthusiasm, but mostly it’s just time, I think. So I think I’m learning to turn my serial obsessions into something less serial and less obsession-like.

(Now watch me disappear from Steepster for months after saying this. LOL. No, really, I’m not feeling that Steepster is work right now. I’m feeling more that my body is rebelling against too much tea-drinking for some reason. Burn out is another byproduct of obsession, so I intend to push through on this, too, and just drink as much tea as feels right, and write about it if I have something to say. How normal that sounds!)


I rarely write about a tea more than once. I can’t review the same thing three or four times like some people can without repeating myself, and then I figure the value of the later posts are very small. I will do it if I have something specific to say, but otherwise I do it once for each tea and that’s that. When I have something a third, second or twentieth time, I merely drink it.


I used to do two notes, one for the first tasting and one for the last, and pretty much none in between unless something changed dramatically. But that seemed somewhat artificial and didn’t really reflect what was “in my cup” as the reminder posts say. Also, I became more interested in how I reacted to teas over time than I was before. So now I try to write a note after I’ve tried something the first time (or at least early in the process) and then write additional ones when I feel like I have something else to say about the tea or my reaction to it, and end with the sipdown note. Sometimes it’s more about the circumstances under which I drank the tea than the tea itself. But I get what you’re saying, having a system like that is probably a good hedge against the feeling of “work.”


This is also a big part of why I queue. I can still post something and be ‘present’ when I don’t feel like writing about new stuff. (And I never ever run into the ‘Steepster ate my very long post, boo!’ problem because if that should happen, I can just paste it again)

If I feel like I actually ahve something new to say or if I find I want to change my rating, I might do another post outside of the queue with that, but it doesn’t honestly happen very often. I’m not one of these people who will try the same tea with seventeen different parameter variations. I brew every tea the same way every time. If a tea can’t handle that, then imo it’s not a good tea. Finicky doesn’t appeal to me and I can’t remember all these different settings anyway.


Yeah, I noodle around with mine if I feel like I can get more out of it than I did, and that’s often why I’ll write another note.


I definitely go through phases of obsession as well. Plus, I can never get myself to throw anything away, so my apartment is filled with random collections of whatever phase I was going through.


Jennkay, I held on to a massive collection of pots from when I was gardening (I had a lot of potted rose bushes at one point) for a long time because I couldn’t figure out what to do with them. I finally found a university that had a community gardening program and I told them they could have them if they’d come get them. They brought a big truck and went away happy. ;-)


I’ve had the obsession phase too and feel I am in it right now with the tea. Since I started getting excited about how many teas there are, tasting all the different ones, and posting tasting notes on Steepster; I feel I’ve been drinking way too much tea. I figure things will eventually even themselves out.

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drank Jasmine #12 by Adagio Teas
1118 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 143 of the year 2014. As the number creeps higher, I find it more and more astonishing that I’ve barely made a dent in my stash. My cupboard says it has something like 215 teas in it, but this is a bald-faced lie. (I love that phrase. Bald-faced. As in without hair? Are people with beards inherently more trustworthy? That cuts out women, at least most of them… hmm… any linguists want to explain this one to me? )

Anyway, it is woefully inaccurate. First, because I don’t list most of my samples. I started putting the Todd & Holland ones in but quickly lost momentum. Second, because I never went through and put in all my tins, bags, etc. from my previous orders. I’ve been adding and taking things out as I start drinking new teas in quantity or finish them, but I haven’t done a comprehensive data entry. (Because hate data entry.)

It’s scary, really. I suppose I have to take the small victories where I can. Here’s one. A sample tin that I can kiss goodbye.

I’ve been drinking a lot of jasmine green lately because I have several out on the counter, and I find that I could drink jasmine flavored tea pretty much any time. It’s weirdly like candy to me (though of course it’s not really like candy because it isn’t sugary), or perhaps a soft drink (though of course it’s not really like a soft drink either). Refreshing, flavorful, and pretty innocuous—I’ve never had a really awful jasmine—and in some ways not even like drinking tea because of the candy/soft drink association.

Something good to drink on a day like today where I’ve consumed fast food for two meals (unbelievable) while running around. I hope it will help unclog my arteries and give me enough perk to attack my current writing assignment for class. I’m in a different class now with a different deadline. It’s really 12 p.m. Eastern time, but being on the US west coast, that’s 9 a.m. for me. I can’t trust myself to get anything done and uploaded before 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning so Saturday night is now my deadline. Which is kind of pathetic when I think about it. Good thing I’m not young and dating or I’d never get anything done….


Morgana, this is for your reading pleasure. (and anyone else interested in the origin and explanation of bald-faced lie)



Thanks so much Nxtdoor! The part about bald originally meaning white is fascinating, and something I didn’t know. But it explains the bald eagle.

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Back to the old stand-by this morning. I woke up this morning feeling really rested for the first time in recent memory. I also had an incredibly bizarre dream, which probably explains while I feel rested. I must have had some decent REM sleep last night.

Alas, I am now off my daily sipdown count again as I logged nothing yesterday. I only had one cup of tea yesterday and (horrors) some Diet Coke, which may also explain why I slept well. But I doubt this has much to do with it.

Not to worry, though, as I have two lined up for today, if I can stay awake long enough to do the decaf one tonight.

Today this is really nice to wake up to. Nice and brisk, and very flavorful. I appreciate it more when I don’t drink it daily. I find that’s true of some teas, whereas with other’s it’s the opposite, almost like you have to build up to a certain critical mass before your enjoyment of it peaks. I wonder why that is.

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Sipdown no. 142 of the year 2014. This isn’t actually the sipdown I had planned. It’s also sort of a cheat to call it a sipdown because although the sample tin is now gone, the big non-sample tin hasn’t even been opened yet. But hey, it’s a container out of my life, so I’m counting it.

Something seems to have gone wrong, though. This steeped very weakly today even though I used what I ordinarily use to measure a single cup serving for the cups I have at work. Not sure what happened.

Since it wasn’t a favorite to begin with, it’s not too much of a disappointment. And any disappointment that might have been had is far overshadowed by the feeling of accomplishment from getting back on sipdown track. Yay!

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Sipdown no. 141 of the year 2014. I’m still one sipdown behind to keep up with the daily count, but I have another one lined up. If only I can get to it today.

It continues to be a good, strong breakfast blend with a lot of brightness to it from the darjeeling. It’s going on the shopping list.

Things are continuing to be rather crazed on this end. Several emergencies at work, plus little league season, plus no. 2’s after-birthday party coming up on Sunday.

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


It’s ok—you take care of you and yours right now. We’ll be here when the dust settles :)


Thanks :-)

I am worried I may have O.D.‘d on tea a little and that’s why I’m not craving it/drinking it much these past few days. I need to remind myself to do things in moderation.


i’m the same way, and have had those times too. i think we all understand. (:


That’s why you guys are so awesome!

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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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