1165 Tasting Notes


Oh my.

The smell out of the packet is divine. An amazingly juicy smelling jasmine.

A clear, tawny yellow liquor with a hint of rose. Amazing floral scent. Really, like walking through a garden. There’s an interesting incense-like note to the aroma.

The flavor is fascinating. It’s jasmine of course, but given the aroma I was expecting something more heavy handed. And it isn’t. It’s a very light, but very pure jasmine over a mild and mellow green tea.

It’s the sort of tea that makes you feel clean after drinking it.

Not as close to perfect as the Samovar pearls, but wonderful in its own way.

Flavors: Grass, Jasmine, Vegetal

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

Not huge on floral teas. Watch my tasting notes as the February TotM from Verdant arrived with 11 small samples of Anxi teas which I expect to all be quite floral. If that’s your thing, these may be for you!


I have a special place in my heart for jasmine greens. :-)

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A pretty blend, with lots of shapes and colors including the ever lovely and visual interest-adding red peppercorns. In the packet it smells primarily of spices, but there’s also an orange zest note.

It makes a light orange-brown tea that smells like a spice tea with orange notes.

But amazingly, it somehow gets a pastry flavor into the mix in the sip. The spices sort of blend together with no single note leading, and there’s an unexpected sweetness to the flavor. The orange is a little on the subtle side but definitely there, and what it lacks in strength it makes up for in non-fake orange flavor. I wonder whether making the orange flavor stronger would also make it fake tasting, and if so, this strikes a balance that makes sense. I don’t get a strong sense of the underlying tea, but that’s not really why you drink a tea called “orange cookie” now, is it?

Flavors: Cookie, Orange, Orange Zest, Pastries, Spices

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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A never before opened packet of this has been sitting on my counter for a while. I’ve been waiting for the right time to give it a try.

I always think Keemun leaves are fascinating in a iron filings sort of way. They look like if you held a magnet against them they’d jump right up. The picture is very accurate. They have a very earthy smell in the packet, a dark smell with a sharp, high note.

For me, the liquor wasn’t all the coppery. Unless your penny has been in circulation for a while. It’s much darker than the color I know as copper, but has a reddish/orangish tinge.

The aroma suggests something deep and flavorful. There’s a slightly bready note and a tad of smoke. I had never heard “the burgundy of teas” before, but I get it. It has the same feel.

The flavor is very nice. At first, it seems somewhat less complex than the smell suggests it might be. But the finish and aftertaste belie that impression. There’s a sweetness to it and the smoke is subtle, which I like. The mouthfeel is pretty interesting. Soft and smooth. There’s a dark cocoa note, like a baking chocolate, a slight metallic/potato note and something that’s a cross between coffee and caramel, but not really either.

Not my favorite Keemun as I don’t love the metallic/potato aspect. But everything else about it is lovely.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Caramel, Cocoa, Coffee, Metallic, Potato, Smoke

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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Wow, I’ve had this a long time. I wrote the original note on it when I first joined Steepster about 6 years ago!

If I had my druthers, I’d drink chai a lot more than I do, but because of the milk content it’s more caloric than other things (and frankly, if I’m going to drink calories, I’d rather do it with wine than anything else most of the time. ;-)) so I don’t drink it that often. Also, weather is a big factor for me with chai. When it’s hot, I’m not often in the mood because chai is heavier than other teas. The result is I feel like every time I look in my stash, I find an astonishing amount of chai.

Today, we have rain. Lots and lots of rain. I haven’t been outside yet so I don’t know whether that translates into lower temperatures outside. It just looks like a cold day, which put me in the mood for chai. I used the Teafrog chocolate and cream for the extra tea this time.

It hasn’t changed in six years. It’s a pleasant mild chocolate chai. The spices give flavor but not heat. I still don’t taste cheesecake, so knocking off some points for that. But I’ll enjoy sipping it down.


And I thought I was bad for letting my teas age 2-3 years. I will stop stressing knowing that even a 6-year-old tea has managed to still taste the same :)


LOL. I’ve only had a couple of teas that I noticed significant changes in over time. Usually they’re greens.


At what point do you decide that you need to start drinking down? I’ve been trying to finish off any of mine that are older than a year, but if the flavor doesn’t change that much then maybe I’m trying too hard.


If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t order more than I thought I could drink in a year or two at the most. But I am way past that so now I’m focusing on trying to drink down things I’ve opened before opening new containers. I only have a couple of teas that are as old as this one and opened and I’m trying to get to those as quickly as I can, but chai is particularly tough for me as I mentioned in the note.

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drank Peachy Oolong by Tavalon Tea
1165 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 38 of 2016 (no. 249 total).

As I predicted, this ended up dominating the cold tea category for the last few steepings. It’s tasty enough cold, and since I didn’t find it interesting enough as an oolong to work with over multiple steeps, it suited the purpose well.

The last batch is now doing its cold brew thing in the fridge. I was a couple of spoons short so I added two spoons of Kusmi darjeeling to round it out. Wonder what that will do.


Oh, I think that adding Darjeeling was a wonderful idea – Maybe some nice floral and sweet muscatel notes. I predict a very tasty tea! :)


Fingers crossed. :-)

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drank Purity by Tavalon Tea
1165 tasting notes

I made this once last week but didn’t pay attention so I couldn’t write a note. Then for a change of pace, I made a pitcher of it cold.

It was really quite good cold, except that some of the mint leaves are small enough to be able to slide through my strainer, so it was leafier than other cold brews. So much so that no. 1 asked if it was ok to drink the leaves.

As a hot tea, it is heavy on the mint, light on the ginger, and ultra light on the tea. Mostly what I see, taste and smell, is mint. I can taste the effect of the ginger. I say effect because it’s more a cutting into the wall of mint than a flavor unto itself. I don’t taste black tea at all.

So I’m torn here because the flavor is very minty, and its a nice mint. Not a mouth full of dirt or bitter as some mints can be. And it tastes natural, not like a Tums. On the other hand, I hoped there would be more to it. Ginger and mint together can be a really nice blend, but the ginger isn’t strong enough here. And I can see why the other reviewer said they don’t really consider it a black tea so much as an herbal.

So balancing out the very nice mint with the disappointment on other fronts, I’m giving it a low very good.

Flavors: Ginger, Mint

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

I want to check this tea company out, but Google says “it might be hacked”??


Bummer. Not sure what that means. I wouldn’t risk it until they clean it up, though it could just mean some spammers have changed the HTML on the page to advertise Viagra (which happened to kid’s elementary school site once).

The thing that first attracted me to Tavalon was their name, which is sort of the same idea as Teavana.

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drank Kashmir Rose by Simpson & Vail
1165 tasting notes

First tea this morning and I’m noticing the spice a lot more.

I haven’t had a Simpson & Vail tea I didn’t like, but I also haven’t had one I adore. They fit into a bit of a niche for me, which I suppose if I had to name it I’d call “nicely done floral.” I expect that if I drank a number of them side by side I’d be able to differentiate them, but when I drink them only occasionally, they meld together as a memory.

This one is reminiscent of the Earl Grey (which had no bergamot flavor to speak of) and I wonder if it is because the cardamom is serving the same purpose, which is to be a punctuation mark within the floral.

I’ll enjoy it while it lasts, but I have a large number of other S&V “nicely done florals” and this one isn’t enough of a stand out to go on the list for 2020, when I come out of lockdown ;-).


Their Earl Greys are so disappointing. :/


Yes, really they are just “nicely done florals.” :-)

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drank Hojicha by Kusmi Tea
1165 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 37 of 2016 (no. 248 total).

This became my daily “take it to work” tea after the Kusmi Sencha.

I will make one additional observation about it. It was much more interesting as a sometime tea. As an every day tea it quickly becomes boring.

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drank Kashmir Rose by Simpson & Vail
1165 tasting notes

In the tin it smells remarkably like every other Simpson & Vail tea I’ve ever had. Floral, particularly rosey. Reminds me of the various incarnations of Earl Grey from Simpson & Vail, but even the non-flavored teas smell this way, which I attribute to their being stored together in their paper bag sample bags. And like the other S&V florals, it’s a pretty tea with the petals and pod pieces adding visual interest.

I don’t really smell cardamom in the tin. After steeping, I smell something in the aroma that is spicy, and if I try hard enough I can single it out as cardamom. The spice is actually the predominant note in the steeped tea’s aroma. The floral sort of heads to the background. The liquor is clear medium brown.

It’s mild, pleasant, with some spice and some flora. I have to run out, so I may have more to say about this a bit later.

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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drank Cookie by Lupicia
1165 tasting notes

I’ve had this in my cupboard for a while and I can’t believe I haven’t cracked it open before now. I realized that I have rather an overabundance of flavored blacks in my stash. My buying pattern before I went on hiatus was, go to an online retailer to get one or two things, and end up buying about 30 because they all looked so interesting. And yet, I can’t really drink more than a couple of cups of flavored blacks in a day. Hence the overabundance.

In the packet it smells rather intensely of caramel flavored coffee to me, a little on the bitter side, a little on the sweet side, and something in the middle that’s like baking powder. It has a dark reddish brown liquor. The aroma is less baking powder and more baked something else which is good. Not as bitter smelling after steeping.

The taste has no bitterness at all, and is in fact remarkably smooth. It’s a nice caramel flavor, not too sweet but just sweet enough. At first it reminded me of the amaretti cookies, but more in terms of texture and atmosphere than in terms of flavor as there’s not an almond note that I can discern, though supposedly this contains almond. Perhaps it was the luck of the spoon. If there had been almond to my tastebuds, this would be more similar to Brioche than it is. But in addition to not tasting the almond, this also doesn’t give off the same bear claw type baked goods flavor. The “cookie” part is not a soft, baked, flaky sort of flavor, more of a hard, chewy sort of flavor.

The package recommends having this with milk, but I don’t think it needs it. Which is a good thing, or I probably wouldn’t give it high marks.

It’s tasty, just not as cookie-ish as I had hoped. But perhaps, as I mentioned, that’s the luck of the spoon and I’ll get more of that flavor on the next try.

Flavors: Caramel, Cookie

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML
Evol Ving Ness

This review makes me happy. Now I need to try this tea. But because I am quite like you in terms of browsing for one or two and ending up with thirty, I am not even going there.

Anything right now that involves spending American dollars for us Canadians right now is a dangerous dangerous thing. So, I will patiently wait until our dollar starts doing something a bit more splendid than what it is doing right now.

We’ve been on the other side of the dollar issue, so I totally get it!

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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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