1165 Tasting Notes


Sipdown no. 157 for the year 2014. This is a back log from yesterday when I polished off the last little bit of this as my morning hot cup.

I’m on a sipdown roll with these black Leafspas. Though Darjeeling isn’t really black, they just call it that. This is the third sipdown of a mega tin inside of a week, helped tremendously by the cold brewing that is going on pretty frequently these days given the heat here. I let this one steep a bit too long I think, but it’s still tasty and just a tad bitter. Darjeeling makes an interesting cold brew. I don’t know that I’d pick it for that ordinarily as it’s a little piquant for a cold tea in my book.

Which raises a question. What else do you like to cold brew? Is oolong a good choice? I have a ton of it and not as much time these days as I need to enjoy it hot through multiple steeps. If it’s a good choice, how long should it brew, or does it matter?

Also, what about pu erh? I have a lot of loose pu erh and the idea of cold brewing it sounds kind of yuck, but I dunno, maybe it would be interesting?

Thanks in advance for your suggestions and sorry for my continued sporadic appearances. Things are getting kind of complicated here. The BF was admitted to the hospital last night with raging diabetes, and they haven’t let him out yet, so things are under an unusual amount of stress. Hope everyone else is having a better week. :-)


I cold steep oolong. It’s also really good if I only have time for a few steeps and then throw it in cold water in my fridge.


Wish your BF get well soon
I cold brew oolongs.


We do miss you Morgana …sending good vibes your way, hope he gets well real soon.

I cold brew EVERYTHING! Oolong, especially milk oolong is pure awesomeness. I love shou also, and I’ve been on a cold brewed chai mode the last few weeks. So good!


Excellent! I shall try an oolong cold brewed, probably sometime his weekend. And TF, cold brewed chai made my ears perk up. How do you do that? Do you brew it in milk and sugar?

Thanks all for the kind wishes. The BF is home after spending about 24 hours in the hospital. They gave him some drugs and a glucose monitor. His sugars are still quite high, but he’ll go back in a week to get checked.


It’s good news! Happy 4th of July !


Glad he’s home :-)

No milk, just about two teaspoons in a mason jar. I do cold brew chai in coconut or almond milk though….so good!


Oh, and add a little maple syrup to cold brewed chai, decadent!! :-)


Sending you big hug


I’m glad to hear he’s home. Hopefully, he’s doing even better today!


Thanks everyone!

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Sipdown no. 156 for the year 2014. I had the last bit of this this morning as I somehow let myself run out of coffee.

This one rather whizzed by. After trying this initially years ago (judging from my first note), I returned to it when I went on my second major tea binge earlier this year. I managed to polish off the entire tin (4+ oz) in not very much time, largely through a combination of cold brewing and using it as extra tea for chai, and if I didn’t have so much tea I would regret having plowed through it quite so quickly without really savoring it.

It’s a nice yunan. In looking back over my first note I mentioned a thick mouth feel, but I didn’t experience that this morning. It was rather on the light side in terms of body and flavor. Pretty much everything else I said in the initial note seems right, though.

And it made a really nice cold brew.

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Sipdown no. 155 of the year 2014.

Hi everyone! It’s pretty hot here and I find myself not much in the mood for hot beverages. But somehow tea is even hotter when hot than coffee, so coffee has taken over as my morning beverage. Perhaps it’s the chi (qi?) factor? No idea.

Periodically, though, I’ve been making up batches of cold brew, and between those and running out of coffee and drinking the rest of this hot this morning, I’ve reached another major sipdown. This made a really nice cold brew, better than the hot version. The citrus gives the cold brew a tiny tang that makes it interesting.

My sipdown project has obviously been derailed, but I’ll continue on through the summer to the extent I can. Baseball season is over, school is over, etc. but we’re now gearing up for a vacation in Scotland later in the summer, and work has maintained a steady state of busyness so life remains hectic. On top of all this I’m trying to keep writing and taking classes regularly. And did I mention exercise? I gained back all the weight I lost and got horribly out of shape due to stress and blues, but with the trip coming up I’m trying to shed some pounds (it won’t be nearly enough but it should help some) and get some basic aerobic fitness back so I’ll enjoy myself rather than feeling tired and out of breath roaming around Scotland.

In any case, sorry for my continued scarcity. Hope all is well with everyone!


Scotland…dreamy :-)


Enjoy your trip


Thanks, we’re looking forward to it!

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I love jasmine pearls in both green and oolong form. Jasmine tea in any form is awesome in my book if done well, but pearls are particularly candy like.

This is a mellow one. Everything about it is mellow, from the scent in the packet, to the pale yellow liquor, to the floral aroma, to the flavor which isn’t so jasminey that the green tea is untastable and isn’t so light as not to merit the name jasmine.

Not as tasty overall as the Leafspa, but I’m bumping that one up still higher so I can give this a solid score. I haven’t met a jasmine I didn’t like, I have just met some I like better than others.

Still battling some time sinks at work and home that are keeping me away from tea and here, but hoping to figure out a way to manage the various pieces of my life better.

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

I need to try these!


Miraculously, it is still on offer at Teavana (I’m fairly sure I got it as part of my tea of the month club membership a while back, and most of those have been discontinued).

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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!


Welcome back!


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


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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drank Great White by Tavalon Tea
1165 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.

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

so I guess you find it too banal?


what time of day do you usually drink tea?


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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drank Lady Bedford by Todd & Holland
1165 tasting notes

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.”


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

Just saying.


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. :-)


Exactly that namesake.

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drank Fruta Bomba by Teavana
1165 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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drank Orange U Slim by Teas Etc
1165 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

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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drank Mayan Chocolate Chai by 52teas
1165 tasting notes

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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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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