953 Tasting Notes


Made some of this cold brewed using the same formula I used for the Grapefruit Black. It was quite good, a great thirst quencher which is really one of my main requirements for cold tea. No. 1 liked it as well.

I’m now trying cold brewing the LeafSpa Goomtee Darjeeling. I’ll let you know how it turns out sometime after 5 p.m. tomorrow.

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drank Fruta Bomba by Teavana
953 tasting notes

I realized that I forgot to post no. 1’s results from his piano Certificate of Merit exam and now I feel bad about not posting it because (to the extent anyone thought about it at all ;-)) my silence may have led you to believe that he crashed and burned.

Brag starts here:

However, such was not the case. He got all excellents except for in sight reading, where he got a good. And he got a branch honors sticker on his certificate.

So now that I’ve set the record straight. This tea is definitely a step up from the Choconut and a decent flavored green tea, but not very distinctive. It’s one of many tropical fruit flavored greens I’ve had that are solid but not exceptional. So I can’t say I’ll miss it much when it’s gone, which should be fairly soon, because chances are I have another tea with a similar flavor somewhere in my stash. Perhaps even two or three…

carol who

Congrats to No.1!


Thank you. :-)


Congrats!!! So, is it going to affect your son middle school choice? We have crazy competition in NY.


Nah, he’s just going to go to the neighborhood public school (unless he stops learning at it, in which case I’ll have to figure something out). I am thinking about private high school, but it’s hard to know what’s right to do. California public schools have a pretty bad national reputation because there’s no money for them because of Prop 13, but the ones in our town are rated higher than most and they make up for some of the deficit with private educational foundation contributions. But high school I’m not so sure about. There are arguments both ways—that you have a better shot at getting into a top university from a private school because your education is just better all around, or you have a better shot of getting in through a public school if you’re in the top 5% or so of the class because in the private schools everyone is applying to the same places. It’s pretty confusing. I sometimes think about going back to school and I wonder whether I’d be able to get in now, and my university and professional schools weren’t too shabby by any standard. Sigh.


Top 5% that’s what I heard. My older one just got a letter of acceptance to two great high schools in NYC. We decided on the one which is smaller and close to home. My middle one has to get some news on middle school any day now. So exciting and frustrating at the same time. I can’t afford private school w/ 3. Hoping for the best;)


Yeah, I keep hoping he’ll settle down by high school. Right now he’s one of those kids that’s very smart but not very careful and doesn’t really see the value of studying. Of course, I didn’t see the value of studying until I was in college, so I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…

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drank MateVana by Teavana
953 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 150 of the year 2014!

I feel like I’ve accomplished something. On the other hand, I’ve got a long way to go.

I’m glad to see this one go. It’s marginally better than the other mates I’ve had including the flavored ones, but it is far from a favorite. Also, the more I drink it, the more I taste a weird liquor-y note, like a brandy flavor or something. Not fond of that.

Happy tax day to those of you paying U.S. taxes. I had to get an extension because my bank failed to send me the correct documents on something. Bother.

And happy Passover to those celebrating. Chag Pesach sameach!


Last night we watched “Prince of Egypt” for maybe 10th time.


Haha! My kids love that one.


I haven’t watched that in forever! When my son was little (he’s 15 now…), he’d run around the house yelling “LET MY PEOPLE GO!” If we were out in public when he did it, we got some strange looks. lol


haha! happily, or sadly, we’re still on the lego movie with my six year old. EVERYTHING IS AWESOME

that, and, i wanted to like MateVana. i could not. was quite sad.


I know. I wanted to like mate, period. But it was not to be. About the Lego movie. Did anyone else find yourself completely not into it UNTIL the human kid and dad showed up? I became emotionally engaged when they showed up, and I kept thinking how much more I would have liked it if they’d shown up a lot earlier.


I have to agree abt Lego movie. But my 7yr old just ready to watch it 24/7. On the other hand today they watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. And he is so into HP. He read all the books

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drank ChocoNut by Teavana
953 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 149 of the year 2014.

I’ve been drinking this one down gradually, interspersed with other things, and had intended to write a note about it this weekend but then Earthlink went kablooey. (Shakes fist at sky.)

I had rated this fairly high initially, I think because I was coming off of a lot of bad flavored green tea experiences and this one was better by comparison. But now that I’ve had a lot of really nicely done flavored green teas, I am dropping this one down a bit. Chocolate in green tea didn’t sound good to me (and I only bought this because I was in a phase where I was buying everything with the word chocolate in it) and I recall being surprised that it was as tasty as it was. After drinking it more, though, I started to become aware of its downsides.

The primary one is that chocolate in green tea didn’t sound good to me because it’s not really the best and highest use of both flavors. Chocolate ought to be rich and luscious, and green tea ought to be refreshing and light but tasty. Their purposes in life are different, in my view. The chocolate here doesn’t overpower the green tea, but that’s part of the problem. It has to hold back to avoid doing so. And the green tea here doesn’t add to the richness of the chocolate and in fact works against it.

Bumping it down a few points. I wouldn’t buy it again, though that’s irrelevant now, as Teavana has apparently discontinued it.

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Sipdown no. 148 of the year 2014.

Home network has been reinstalled and is back up as of this morning, but I am woefully behind in reading/writing notes. Apologies.

I got a lot of enjoyment out of this tea while it lasted. I am not sure it’s the end all and be all of Irish Breakfast blends as I haven’t had enough of them (and haven’t had any recently enough to compare this to), but it consistently struck me as a tasty, brisk, medium-bodied black tea that was almost never heavy on the stomach when drunk first thing in the morning. If I didn’t have a ton of other black teas yet to try that I’m looking forward to tasting, I’d certainly miss this one.

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Sipdown no. 147 of the year 2014.

Friday, my ISP went down in California and it is only now back up. I’m unable to get online through my router, but I can get on through the DSL modem alone.

I hate my ISP. I want to get cable because though I live in Silicon Valley, I can only get the most limited DSL service, 1.5 MBPS in my area. Which sucks. The problem is I’ve had the same ISP for almost 15 years and everyone…. everyone… who has my email address, from banks and doctors to friends and relatives, has this email address for me. I’m not sure what to do about it, but the situation has become intolerable.

In any case, I drank other teas this weekend and even took notes on them, but as this is a sipdown, it’s the only one I think I’m going to post. I’m just really in an awful mood and I don’t want to be a downer through five notes instead of one.

The blend I drank is different from the one currently up on the T&H web site. This one is cranberry only, not the “riot of red fruits.” Perhaps the riot is better.

This was a dark brown tea with small leaves. I believe it was a keemun base, or at least had a lot of keemun in it because it had a smoky aroma when dry and after steeping and there was smoke in the flavor, too. The dry mix had pretty red petals in it and among the smoke was also a berry aroma, but not clearly cranberry.

The tea’s aroma had some maltiness and a berry note. It was a deep reddish brown color.

I had this twice, though I didn’t log it the first time because it was one of the teas that the Original Spice Decaf encroached upon and all I could taste was this weird cinnamon aura. The second time, yesterday, that was not present, thankfully.

Unfortunately, the tea was pretty bitter. I steeped for four minutes and perhaps it would have been less so if I’d only steeped for 3, but since I don’t have more, I can’t try it. I had high hopes for this, but it didn’t do it for me. The underlying tea base just didn’t work with the flavoring agent—too strong, too smoky, and the berry flavor too light, vague almost, with no natural sweetness at all. I can see liking a black cranberry tea with a more amenable base, and it makes me want to try some.

But this, alas, was a total bust for me.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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Sipdown no. 146 of the year 2014. Almost to 150! Still hard to believe I’ve hardly made a dent.

This one is very consistent in flavor, which reinforces my thoughts about it from last night. I forgot to mention its steeped color, which is a sort of maple syrup color.

And great, I just poured some down my keyboard. Not on purpose. Grumble grumble.

One more thing worth mentioning about this. It’s strong, and it has a long memory. This morning I steeped the LeafSpa Irish Breakfast in the Breville, after having steeped this last night. There was definitely a cinnamon-y aura around the Irish Breakfast, despite my most excellent rinsing of the filter and pot.

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I cold brewed this because it’s been rather on the hot side here lately, which now that I think about it may be one of the reasons I’ve not been craving tea.

8 teaspoons of loose leaf to 2 quarts water, steeped in fridge for approx. 20 hours.

I think I could have gone longer. Next time I’ll try at least 24.

It’s a nice “iced” tea, but not very grapefruit-y at all. In looking back at my original note, I see that it wasn’t very grapefruit-y on the first taste either, when I tried it hot.

I’m a little disappointed. I’ve changed my view on grapefruit tea in general. I really like the way it works in tea, and in a variety of teas—black, green, oolong, white—even though grapefruit isn’t my first choice of citrus at the buffet table. (Perhaps because as a kid I was forced to eat it for breakfast, and there were times when it was somewhat frostbitten or otherwise unpleasant in terms of texture.) I had hoped that this would come out with a stronger flavor done cold. But it wasn’t to be.

Question for the cold brew veterans since I haven’t done this much, maybe three times. Is it unusual for the tea to float at the top of the container? By about hour 20 most of it had sunk, but there was still a fairly thick layer of floating tea at the top of the container. I put the tea in after the water. If I put the tea in first, would that make a difference?


I have no idea but I just want you to know I like reading your reviews.


Whenever I’ve tried it, some floats, some sinks, and I’ve always put the tea in first.


I’ve put it in both before and after the water and it usually floats, while some sinks. As it gets waterlogged over time, more sinks.


Thanks keychange! And thanks for the input, Cheri and Courtney. I am glad that my floating leaves are not abnormal. :-)

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Very strong cinnamon smell from the packet and a blend full of small bits of what appears to be stick cinnamon. After steeping, the cinnamon aroma is sweet and reminiscent of red hot candies, but at the same time there’s a sort of a woody fragrance that is pleasant.

Wow. The tea is very sweetly cinnamon-y, very reminiscent of the Harney Hot Cinnamon Spice—but because it is decaf, with a bit less heft. I haven’t tried the Harney decaf version of the Hot Cinnamon Spice, but I should. I suspect there’s not a need to stock both that and this, but I don’t know how the Harney measures up as a decaf.

This, however, is quite flavorful and in a very good way. As decafs go, it’s better than most I’ve tried. There is hardly any tea flavor that I can discern, but what it lacks in tea flavor it more than makes up for in sweet cinnamon. The tea isn’t the reason to drink this, as it isn’t the reason to drink the Harney Hot Cinnamon Spice.

It gets high marks from me for a decaf. The only reason I’m not rating it a bit higher is I’d like to taste more tea even in a decaf.

Flavors: Cinnamon

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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Sipdown no. 145 of the year 2014.

As I am hopelessly behind on the daily sipdown project, I am now adjusting my goal to keep myself on an average sipdown of 1 per day, and as it is the 98th day of the year, I’m still in pretty good shape. I keep hoping that as things settle down I’ll be able to establish a new habit, but the problem is lately things have not been settling down.

Today I even ran out of the house without my Timolino, which was tragic. I had a slice of bread with peanut butter in my hand which I wolfed down in the car. Wolfed being the operative word, because it felt as though it stuck in my chest on the way down. It was really uncomfortable and I had nothing to wash it down with so I had to stop and buy a drink at the closest gas station.

But having now gotten through two training sessions and a couple of phone calls, I am taking a break to have some tea. I forgot, somehow, that this had rooibos in it. Now at sipdown, I’m remembering—because it appears that a lot of the rooibos sifted down to the bottom of the tin.

As I’ve mentioned, this doesn’t taste bad, it’s just weird and not very oolongy. It’s sort of a smoother, lighter version of the Constant Comment flavor profile, right down to the orange. It actually reminds me of the “tea” my mother made for my father when he had a cold, which was essentially some cinnamon sticks and clove and a touch of lemon. I can’t now remember whether she just boiled these up in water or whether she added them to Lipton. Either way, it wasn’t a particularly subtle flavor but also not horrible.

This is actually pretty flavorful and not at all offensive. I just get no oolong at all in the flavor, and the toasted nut brulee name baffles me. I think it should be called orange cinnamon cardamom. Wouldn’t you know, Teavana still carries this one. Figures.


Ugh. I’ve definitely had food stuck in my chest before (well it felt that way) and it’s awful. Glad you could wash it down with something!


It’s awful, no? And worse with peanut butter, which felt like it had adhered to my esophagus.


Yeah this tea is VERY weird. I don’t understand the name at all either. I have a bunch at home of this, but I just can’t bring myself to drink it anymore. Maybe iced would be better??


I don’t know if it would be better iced, but you could give it a try!

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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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