953 Tasting Notes


I switched over to decaf fairly early this evening because when I woke up this morning I felt as though my back was a rubber band that had been twisted and twisted until it curled up on itself about 10 times.

I bought a lot of this way back when, and I can see why. It does have a very creamy lemon flavor.

Tonight, though, I’m tasting rooibos in a way that I don’t usually in this mix, and more than I tend to like in a blend.

Ah well, we all have our off days.

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drank Chocolate Chai by Adagio Teas
953 tasting notes

This is the fourth of six in the Adagio chai sampler. I made this on the stovetop with 1% milk, Splenda and the SpecialTeas Cream with Cocoa Pieces as the extra black tea.

I think using the SpecialTeas was the right choice, as this came out incredibly chocolaty and reading the notes here, one of the biggest complaints about this is that it isn’t chocolaty enough. It has been my practice in the past to add chocolate flavored black tea to chocolate chai for an extra flavor boost so I kept it up here.

The result is that my BF and no. 2 exclaimed that the entire house smells like chocolate. ;-)

Chocolate is indeed the dominant flavor, as it should be in my view given the name of this chai. I also get some spice against the chocolate, mostly ginger, but the cardamom, clove and cinnamon flavors as a blend are also there in the flavor.

It has been so long since I had any other chocolate chai (except at Starbucks) that I can’t remember them well enough to compare this to them, but it’s at least as good a representative of its genre as the Adagio masala chai is of its, so I’m rating it the same.


Flavors: Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cloves

Boiling 8 min or more

Adding choc tea is a good idea. I will keep that in mind


I’ve had great success getting a good chocolate flavor with this and other chocolate chais using that method.

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drank Almond Oolong by Adagio Teas
953 tasting notes

Enjoying this more today than I have in the past. The first and third steeps in particular were tasty today, the first having a very true to the nut flavor of almond and the third having a more generic pleasant almond flavor. The second went a bit too long and resulted in some bitterness. The fourth was similar to the second.

More leaf and shorter steeps are definitely the way to go with this one. The almond flavor seems best to me at steeping times of no longer than a minute and the first steep I did, at 30 seconds, was probably the best of the bunch for the almond flavor today.

Now within sipdown range, and I don’t expect to buy it again mostly because I can’t taste the oolong much at all under the flavoring. I’d be open to an almond oolong that had a better balance, though.

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I drank this today while at the kids’ kung fu lessons and I now have very little left, maybe two or three pots away from sipdown.

But I keep feeling the need to bump up the rating each time I drink it. It’s really grown on me. While there’s nothing particularly exciting about it, it’s extremely consistent—sweet, no bitterness, a nice vegetal flavor that isn’t too heavy and isn’t too light. I give it points for that consistency and for retention of its flavor long after it reasonably should have.

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drank Silver Needle by Shanti Tea
953 tasting notes

Another sample I received when I ordered from Shanti a while back.

I love the look of dry silver needle. The leaves look like they’ve been frosted. Dry, they have an interesting spicy scent.

Steeped, the tea smells very lightly sweet and still has a slight spicy note. It produces a very pale yellow clear liquor.

The flavor is extremely delicate. It’s like the freshest water you can imagine, but fresher, with a subtle almost black-tea undercurrent and a finish that carries through that hint of spice in the aroma. The aftertaste is sweet and something else. Floral? But very subtle.

I’m never a hundred percent sure I’m making white teas correctly. Silver needle in particular sometimes seems so lightly flavored I wonder whether I should be tasting more. I went with cooler water and a shorter steep time on this one and I wonder whether I should go a bit longer next time and see what happens.

I should probably just go some place like David’s Tea and ask them to make me a silver needle so I can be sure I’m tasting it the way it was meant to be. Each time I steep a silver needle I have a different reaction to it. It’s hard to come up with a standard to measure against. This rating is somewhat in a vacuum because I think it’s more pleasant than I remember the Adagio being but I haven’t had another silver needle recently enough to do a fair comparison. It’s nice enough, but it’s not something I’d rush to buy.

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec 5 g 17 OZ / 500 ML

I tend to brew my needles gongfu style so I may be using more leaf than yoU. I usually use water under 80*C. The first steep for me is usually one minute. The first steep can be a little thinner than the others but I find the second and third can be much thicker. Perhaps you might enjoy it more if you combine two steeps?


Thanks yyz, I will definitely try your method. I haven’t tried using my gaiwan for white tea yet.

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Another sample that came with my Shanti order of a while back.

In the sample packet the dry leaf doesn’t smell at all like what I expect a Darjeeling to smell like. There’s a chocolaty smell and not much of the expected muscatel. This opens up after steeping to give more of the characteristic grapey fragrance. The liquor is a dark golden yellow.

It has nice, full mouth feel with a fruity-winey flavor and something creamy and mellow about it, sort of like the flavor of water chestnuts.

I didn’t get to enjoy this as I’d planned because I had to leave to take our cats to the vet. I had a bit of it while it was hot, then had to leave the rest in the car in a tumbler. It’s not bad cold, but it’s better hot. I need more time to sit with this. The rating is provisional for now.

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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So I have a bit more time now and I thought I’d give this another shot to taste properly after my failed attempt yesterday.

I am going to follow the package directions for time and temp for this go round.

I described the dry leaf’s caramel smell yesterday as syrupy, and that seems right again today. After steeping, the tea smell is primary, with caramel around the edges. There’s a briskness to the tea’s scent. It has a chestnut colored liquor.

The flavor is a more toasty caramel than the American Tea Room’s (which was more milky) and I generally prefer toasty. It’s not a strong flavor, though, and strangely, not very sweet. I wonder whether this is because my steep this time didn’t have many caramel pieces, and I’ll have to watch out for that as I work through the sample.

It tastes less like a surface flavor when drunk hot. It’s more integrated, but I don’t think the balance is quite right. It needs a bit more oomph on the caramel side to balance out the tea, and a bit more sweetness. As it is, there’s a tiny bit of bitterness around the edges that I’m not crazy about especially with a confectionary tea.

I like it better than the ATR version, but it’s not breaking my heart that it’s no longer available. I would choose both the Kusmi Caramel and the Dammann Freres Caramel-Toffee over this. But I’ll enjoy experimenting with it and trying to get the best flavor out of it while I still have it.

Flavors: Caramel

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML

can canadians get tea from American Tea Room? if so what is their site url?



I don’t know about buying from Canada because I’m in the states.


You can, many of us wait until a sale though because of their shipping rates.


i’m never ordering from there! :( 2oz was like 52$ for one of their teas. teavana is way better even though its pricy too :)

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I have some untasted Earl Greys and some I’d like to revisit and do a better job of documenting, but I learned my lesson yesterday: don’t try something new you want to write a note about when in a rush. So today I’m returning to a solid Earl I’ve tasted a number of times. I have a lot of this, but at the same time once it’s gone it’s gone because LeafSpa is gone.

This remains a good, solid Earl without bergamot that is too strong for me. Today I am tasting the “orange” finish which livens up the flavor.

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Sipdown no. 86 of the year 2014. Four bags left. Four people in the house. Breakfast!

This is one of my “starter” teas that I’m really going to miss. It’s a Numi I’d consider stocking.

A few months ago I was at a pizza place near work and ordered iced tea to drink. The tea was incredibly tasty and asked what it was. It was this.

Wonderful, deep, malty, sweet flavor. Yum. Bumping the rating.

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drank Vanilla Oolong by Adagio Teas
953 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 85 of the year 2014. I managed no other sipdowns today and I have nothing decaf that is in sipdown range except my Vanilla Comoro sample which I am hoarding. That sipdown strategy I was making fun of myself for considering the other day doesn’t sound so crazy now as I now find myself with only caffeinated options. Oolongs are, I think, lower in caffeine than black and green at least. Let’s hope it doesn’t keep me up all night.

I’m not sorry to see this go. I don’t think it’s Adagio’s fault. I suspect that vanilla is a flavor that my taste buds have decided isn’t meant to be paired with oolong. Flavored oolong seems an iffy thing to me anyway. With the exception of the Golden Moon caramel, the ones I’ve preferred have been fruit flavors, and tart fruit seem to me to work best with both whites and oolongs.

Although if anyone out there in Steepster land has a favorite vanilla oolong, I could be persuaded to give another brand a try at some point when I come out of lock down.

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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.


Bay Area, California



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