1178 Tasting Notes

drank Earl Grey Creme by Art of Tea
1178 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
1178 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
1178 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
1178 tasting notes

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

In a word, yay.

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I’m surprised that I don’t seem to have written a note on this. I remember trying it and liking it far better than most other flavored whites I’ve had. Which figures, since it has been discontinued (that’s always how it is with me and Teavana; I like the things they discontinue and don’t like most of the rest).

Thinking I could just hop on the bandwagon of a previous note, I didn’t do a serious tasting of this today. I just relaxed and enjoyed it. There’s a sweet, fruity flavor that isn’t overpowering and the underlying tea is inoffensive (and not the dreaded dead plant flavor). I have a fair bit of this left so I’ll be able to do a proper note later.

I’m off early tomorrow morning for no. 2’s fourth grade overnight. Have fun in my absence and see you in a few days!

185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 30 sec 4 tsp 34 OZ / 1000 ML

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drank Peach Oolong by Adagio Teas
1178 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 177. The end of a sample.

This is the second to last of the Adagio oolong flavored samples. I am not even sure why I saved it as I didn’t rate it very highly. I think I may have thought I owed it to the sample to treat it like an oolong I cared about and steep it multiple times and with care. But that’s silly, isn’t it?

Instead I decided to dump the rest in the Breville and steep up enough for me and the BF to enjoy post lunch. He likes peach flavors.

It was better than the other flavored oolongs in the sampler except for the grapefruit, which was the best. But not something I’d buy again.

I may get in a couple more cups of tea before leaving town tomorrow to assist my no. 2 son’s class with an overnight trip. If not, I’ll see you Thursday when I get back.

Flavors: Apricot, Peach, Vanilla

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drank Mint Pu-erh by Numi Organic Tea
1178 tasting notes

Having some of this to counteract whatever I did to my stomach last night that resulted in the feeling of a rock sitting in it for a good 12 hours so far.

It might have been the latkes. Or maybe the brisket I had for dinner at the local place that’s the closest thing we have to a deli. It was a bit on the fatty side but I was hungry, so…

In any case, this is making things feel a little less weighty.


Puerh does a good job of dissolving those rocks for me! Hope you are feeling better.


Shou does work wonders. Feel better


Thanks. :-). Not 100 percent yet but much better.

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drank Houjicha by Samovar
1178 tasting notes

Spidown no. 176. A sample.

I’m still a huge Samovar fan, and I’m delighted to see that they appear to have weathered the transformation they were going through a while back where they basically didn’t have any tea available for purchase. Now I see there are some old favorites gracing their web pages again. I do wish some more of my favorites were there, particularly on the herbal side of things as I’m soon to be in the market for something like Berry Rooibos, which I really adored, or maybe Orange Ginger. Alas, those aren’t part of what’s around but there’s still the wonderful chai, breakfast blend, earl grey, four seasons, and others. Yay!

And nor is this one among the green teas in the current Samovar online store, but since my experience of yesterday with the Den’s Houjicha, I’m thinking it’s way past time to do this sample. This one does have going for it that it’s never been opened, so perhaps that will make a difference.

I didn’t want to wait for the water in my boiler to cool from oolong temp of 195F, but the Breville doesn’t like to be filled to less than 500 ml. I’m taking a chance and only filled it to about 250, then set the temp to 175 and steeped for 1.5 minutes (much longer than Den’s recommends, but half the time Samovar instructs on its sample packet).

The leaves didn’t have much smell when I opened the packet, but the tea smells roasty ricey and is a clear tan color. Alas, the lesson learned yesterday appears to have been reinforced today. I suspect this would have had much more flavor when fresh. Though the packet was closed, it wasn’t vacuum sealed. What I’m tasting is a very faint roasted rice flavor, a bit like pine nuts. Knowing Samovar, I expect this isn’t what I should have experienced.

I’m not going to rate this because it doesn’t seem fair. I saved a lot of Samovar samples on the “best for last” theory, and I’m sorry I did. Lesson learned.

Flavors: Rice, Roasted

170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 250 ML

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Sipdown no. 175. A sample.

I am really enjoying the oolong samples from Life in Teacup. I’ve been wanting to try them, but I wanted to be sure I had the time to really do them justice and I’ve been fortunate to be able to spend some time with them recently.

The dry leaves are dark green and tightly rolled. They have a scent that reminded me of asparagus, fluctuating with a grassy, hay-like aroma.

Indeed, “fluctuates” is a word that describes this tea pretty accurately. I steeped this in the gaiwan at 195F for six steeps, starting at 15 seconds and increasing in 5 second increments, and I found that it moved back and forth in both aroma and flavor between floral and buttery, though with respect to the flavor the butter didn’t come out until the later steeps.

In the earlier steeps, 1, 2, and 3, the flavor was brighter and more “green,” vegetal and strongly floral, even though the aroma had a sort of buttery, milky aspect to it. The buttery flavor didn’t really come out until the last couple of steeps. Even then it wasn’t as strong and creamy as some tieguanyins, but it was still very tasty.

I liked it a little better than the green jade I had yesterday, but a lot of this has to do with mood. If I was looking for something with a brighter, more green tea like flavor, I’d choose the jade. Something more green oolongy, I’d choose this.

Flavors: Asparagus, Butter, Floral, Milk

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I’m OD-ing on tea a little here, but it’s because the kids are out of the house and I have nothing on the agenda until they get back. So I have a rare opportunity to play in my tea and write some notes uninterrupted.

I had the idea that this would be a good palate cleanser to transition out of some of the heavier stuff I’ve been drinking this morning, culminating in full blown chai. And also a nice transition from darker teas to lighter ones for this afternoon.

I had to remind myself that FTGFOP means Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe, or it’s joke interpretation — Far Too Good For Ordinary People. LOL

This is a never opened sample that I bought a while back. The leaves are indeed quite tippy, some of them rather silvery looking. They have an earthy smell before steeping.

Steeped, they produce a medium-light brown, clear liquor. But the smell — oh the smell! This has to be what they mean by muscatel, though I’ve never tasted muscatel to my knowledge or muscatel grapes for that matter. The aroma is so grapey, but has that pungent note that takes it up a note to winey. Pretty serious stuff.

The tea is fairly astringent, drying in the sip but smooth in the finish that leaves a fresh, leafy-ness in mouth. It grabs a little at the back of the throat, which is the only downside for me. I don’t really enjoy that sensation.

It’s medium-bodied to light-bodied, and I wonder whether it might benefit from slightly lower temperature, which I intend to try before the sample is done.

The flavor is fairly mild and has some white wine notes that give it a little tartness.

Except for the throat grab, very enjoyable.

Flavors: Grapes, Muscatel, White Wine

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML
Christina / BooksandTea

Far Too Good For Ordinary People! Oh my god, I need to swipe that. It’s good to see you back, by the way!


Hey Christina! Be my guest on the Far Too Good, etc. as it isn’t original. I, in turn, swiped it from the internet. ;) Thanks for the welcome back. It’s great to see you and everyone again! (I’ve been wondering where TheTeaFairy and Anna are. Anyone know if they’re still around?)

Christina / BooksandTea

TeaFairy is active on Instagram, but I don’t see her on Steepster that much. Anna and I are in touch on Facebook, since we’re both part of a tea group on there.


Cool! Please tell them I said hi!

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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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