1153 Tasting Notes


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
1153 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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drank Ginger Peach by Todd & Holland
1153 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 140 of the year 2014. I did not do a sipdown yesterday so I’m going to try to get in two today.

As against other caffeinated teas that are heavy on the peach, this one is very good, but I prefer some others I’ve had recently.

Interestingly, the decaf version stacks up very well against other decaf blacks and I see that I rated that one higher than this one, since it’s being judged on different attributes. That may be the first time that’s ever happened.

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To give you an idea of how my day has been, I thought I needed to start with something really strong, so I made coffee. A whole pot. Now it’s 8 p.m. and I realize I have not had a single cup from that pot. Nor have I had anything else to drink besides water.

Now it’s too late to drink caffeine, and since I’d mentioned that I had this the other day, fully intending to drink it on the same day as the non-decaf version, I thought it would be a good candidate. But then I went to write a note and it wasn’t in the database. No problem, thought I, I’ll just set up a page. But apparently Todd & Holland no longer sells this, so there’s no picture or info on their site to use to spiff up the page. (Sorry.)

It smells like peach in the packet, but it’s not as rich a peach smell as the caffeinated version. There’s also the sort of chlorine-y note I get from decafs . The first thing I thought when I smelled the tea’s aroma was “cannabis” and but there’s a peachy note too. Very deep red color. Quite pretty.

I was prepared for a very washed out flavor when I smelled the chlorine-y note but surprisingly, that’s not what I’m getting. Though it doesn’t pack the punch of the caffeinated version, there’s nothing washed out about the flavor. It’s a nice round peach flavor, not heavy on the ginger, with a mild Ceylon underneath.

Figures that I’d like this one since it’s no longer available.

I am hopeful things are going to settle down a bit now and I’ll be able to be more attentive to my tea drinking. I fear that I may have to drink my Vanilla Comoro tonight just to get in a sipdown. Ah well, it had to happen sometime. My sipdown strategy seems to be failing abysmally, primarily because I haven’t been drinking enough tea.

Apologies for not being able to read/respond as much lately during this period of high intensity non-tea related commitments.

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

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drank Welcome by Art of Tea
1153 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 139 of the year 2014.

I just realized that until now, I’ve had no tea or coffee or anything to drink today except water (and a couple of glasses of wine with dinner). No wonder I have a headache. Caffeine withdrawal!

This blend isn’t helpful for caffeine withdrawal, but I am going to have to try to go to sleep soon. The work week is already looking scary and I’ve been staying up too late.

I continue to find this something that was pleasant enough while it lasted but unfortunately not the highest on my current list of preferences for herbals. If someone were to offer it to me I’d drink it, but I have learned enough about my chamomile preferences lately to know that I prefer sweeter chamomile without the intervention of other herbs intended to take away from the sweetness.


quite the interesting name for a tea eh? :)

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drank Great White by Tavalon Tea
1153 tasting notes

Steeping in the gaiwan brings out a bit more flavor, and this one doesn’t have the rather nasty dead plant taste that I’ve had from white peony before, but the flavor is still fairly elusive to me. I get something sort of darjeeling-y from this, but much lighter, like a pastel version of darjeeling.

I have yet to taste a white peony that really knocks my socks off and I’m starting to wonder whether as a genre, it just isn’t the tea for me unless it’s the base for a nicely done flavored white. I’m torn on how to rate this because it’s better than some other white peonies I’ve tried, but on an absolute scale it’s not as flavorful and enjoyable as some other teas I’ve rated in the 70s. So take that into consideration when interpreting the rating.

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Sipdown no. 138 of the year 2014.

Woke up with a headache, so I started the day with coffee for the first time in a long time. Just this minor break in routine was enough to derail my tea drinking for the day. I had big plans for getting a number of things close to sipdown, but now they’ll have to wait.

In keeping with the theme of not following routine, I am drinking this now at about 7:30 at night. I have no fear of caffeine tonight because I have a lot of work to do.

This was a really delicious blend, so rich and full and malty. I will miss it.

On another note, last night I finished watching a re-watch of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip’s only season. I was trying to figure out why I get such a feel-good sense from watching Aaron Sorkin’s various series-es [what’s the plural of series?] and I realized that one of the reasons is because even when everything goes wrong for the characters they love their work. Something to think about.

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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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