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937 Tasting Notes


Sipdown no. 80 of the year 2014. I am trying to keep hitting at least one sipdown a day, but I notice that I’ve been slowing down a bit. It’s a combination of not wanting to part with some of my easily sipdownable stuff (like a lot of these Harney samples) and not having made enough headway into some of the older, open teas of which I have more than sample sizes. I need a better strategy. (I can’t believe I’m actually considering spending time on a sipdown strategy. Ugh, I must really be bored. LOL)

In reading back over the notes on this I was laughing over the color controversy. I am pleased to report that this time, my liquor is unmistakeably PURPLE! A nice, reddish violet. No hint of the grey I had before. Query whether this is a function of age (its or mine), oxygenation, or flower mix. In any case, I am delighted I finally got to see the purpleness in all its glory.

Despite the age of this sample (which at least one other person mentioned made a difference in the flavor for them) I am getting pretty much what my original note reflected in terms of aroma and taste. Alone, it’s rather an intense drink. I definitely prefer the Yellow and Blue. The douse of camomile takes the edge off the lavender and vice versa. Would I drink this again? Yes, I can see it happening, but very rarely. I don’t think it’s enough to justify buying a tin of this, but perhaps having a sample packet on hand isn’t beyond all reason.


haha, this was a sipdown that you want to be able to sipdown again sometime. Perfectly reasonable! ;-)


lavender teas are sometimes too much “lavendery”
complicated to get the right balance with this kind of teas

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drank Cocoa Praline Tart by Teavana
937 tasting notes

This either dates to my chocolate flavored buying spree or to the Teavana tea of the month club membership, not sure which, but it’s surprisingly good.

Now, whether it tastes like a praline tart is an open question. I have had a praline and I have had a tart, but I have never had a praline tart.

The mixture in the packet has a very dark, syrupy chocolate smell. The aroma of the steeped tisane is a fruity chocolate. I smell both a sharp sweetness which I attribute to the pineapple, and a richer sweetness which I attribute to the fig and perhaps the pear. I don’t taste rooibos, I don’t taste honeybush, and I don’t taste nuts. I would have liked to have tasted the macadamia nuts…

It’s another apple juice colored liquid, but this is slightly darker (not as dark as that really “healthy” apple juice that’s brown, more the color of a darker kids’ apple juice).

It’s pretty tasty. The BF said it tasted like liquor but I don’t get that flavor. There’s a light, sweet, chocolatey flavor over a fruity, almost light jammy-flavored tisane (though jammy here doesn’t refer to mouthfeel or body but to the flavor itself). No. 2 gave it the thumbs up.

Unfortunately, it’s another discontinued one. Or I would have considered a restock. It does its job as a dessert substitute. Everyone in the house had Girl Scout thin mints tonight, but I was able to resist! (80 calories in just two of those cookies, dammit.)

Boiling 7 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 34 OZ / 1000 ML

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drank Shanghai Orchid by Teavana
937 tasting notes

Next in my continuing attempts—tonight I tried 175 for 1.5 minutes. It’s steadily improving, but I’m still not loving it. It’s the fruit flavor that’s causing the problem for me. The floral piece of it is fine. I wonder whether I would like this better if instead of going for a melony underlying fruit they’d used a citrus mix? Maybe grapefruit? There’s something about the sweetness of the fruit flavor that doesn’t hit me just right. Not nearly as bad as the Adagio White Tropics, but still enough so that depending on the day it can start to make my stomach go a little iffy.

The good news is I’m in sipdown range.

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I have a few bags left of this in my work stash and more at home. I haven’t had it in a while, and I’m not sure why as I like it quite a bit. In fact, I’m bumping the rating up a tiny bit.

I think the main issue with this one is that the rose is the reason to drink it and I’m not always in the mood for rose. I have a bit of an idee fixe that the rose is stronger in this tea than it really proves to be when I drink it, which adds to the feeling that I need to be in the mood. It’s also one of the bagged teas I still have left that I like better than most, so I’ve been sort of hoarding it.

The rose is still the reason to drink this. It’s really quite nice for an afternoon tea. I should drink it more.

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drank Yerba Mate by Samovar
937 tasting notes

I read somewhere that it takes three separate occasions of drinking yerba mate to get used to the taste. I’m counting this as my second occasion, because it’s my second time trying it straight.

I think I’m going to need a third. Even if I do get used to the flavor, I’m thinking I’ll never really like it.

Today I think I used more leaf and less water, or perhaps the yerba mate absorbed a ridiculous amount of water so it just looked less? It came out looking like an opaque liquid about the color of caramel hard candies, with maybe a bit more of a greenish tinge than the candies.

I’ll keep trying but it’s really not my thing. Lowering the rating some. Note that the rating isn’t a commentary on whether this is good mate. I don’t know what the objective standards are for measuring whether a mate is good.

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Day two of this as a commuting tea, and it is doing quite well at the job. Used a bit more leaf today and got a little sweeter taste. I did spill some on myself getting out of the car, but I couldn’t think of a better tea to do that with. At least I won’t smell like coconut for the rest of the day.

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A very rushed first morning cup. Very mild on the tummy, with the bergamot seeming a little less present than it did yesterday. Nice, silky mouth feel as the tea cooled.

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Sipdown no. 79 of the year 2014 and my 700th tasting note! Well, that was poor planning. I should have arranged it so that I had the 80th sipdown on the 700th note. ;-)

I remember this being one of the better camomile blends I’ve had. I only had enough left in the sample packet to make about half a cup, but it does remain one of the better camomiles in my book.

For me, pretty much any blend with camomile in it, if the camomile can be tasted, succeeds or fails on the taste of the camomile. In my previous note I mentioned how some camomiles taste to me the way I’d imaging a mouth full of dried flowers would taste. The ones that succeed don’t have that quality.

This blend’s camomile has a freshness to the taste that persists despite the age of this sample. I’m not sure whether it’s the quality of the camomile or the influence of the lavender or some of both, but there’s some sweetness as well that makes this a very pleasant tisane.

Having had some not so great camomile in the past couple of months, I’m boosting the rating a tad and putting this on the wish list, even though it’s still a question mark to me whether I’ll ultimately order it. I do think that even if one isn’t a camomile lover, it makes sense to have a really good camomile in one’s collection for those rare times when it seems like nothing else will do.


unfortunately i don’t like camomile


Wow, I’m amazed at both your # of sipdowns in less than two months, and your 700! Congrats :)


Thanks Jennkay!

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I suspect this is another tea of the month club addition. It’s still available at Teavana as of this writing.

I’m not sure I would recognize this as a rooibos blend if I drank it blindfolded. I can definitely see the rooibos, but what I taste is lemon and some apple. The lemon leans toward a lemon myrtle-y version even though the flavor comes from lemongrass; it’s got a touch of bitterness to it, but on the other side is a lingering sweetness. I don’t taste pomegranate, and I don’t taste the cardamom, but if I stretch my senses really far I might be able to get some pomegranate in the aroma. It’s mostly lemon and apple as well, though, and the liquor looks like apple juice.

Since I mostly taste lemon, I find myself comparing this to other Teavana lemons. I like the Lemon Youkou better than this, and I like the Strawberry Lemonade best of all. If I could taste more pomegranate this might be more interesting. Next time I’ll try overleafing more (I used heaping teaspoons) and see if it comes out.

ETA: Though I don’t taste the cardamom, I’m noticing a little spicy kick in the aftertaste that I expect is contributed by it. P. S. No. 2 liked it, and the BF says it is on his top ten list. (Though he admits he hasn’t kept track of what else is on his top ten list. ;-))

Boiling 7 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 34 OZ / 1000 ML

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drank Shanghai Orchid by Teavana
937 tasting notes

It was either this or break open another green and I decided to hold off on breaking open more tea while I have so much taking the air now, so to speak. I’m gonna work this one toward a sipdown because it’s just not doing the same magic on me it has done on some other folks.

This time I tried it at 175 for 1 minute.

It’s still not magical for me, but it keeps getting better as I play with the times and temps. It could also have something to do with the mixture and what big hunks o’ fruit made it into this steep. It seems slightly less sweet but with the same amount of floral notes, and I’m finding I like that better than the fruitier notes.

Alas, I think I graded this one a little too high to start, so I’m bumping it down a little.

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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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