953 Tasting Notes


Sipdown no. 137 of the year 2014. Not the only tea I drank today, but I’ve been trying to stay off the internet as much as possible today so I can get a lot of writing done on my day off. I’ve written about eight pages today, as well as revising twelve I’d written earlier to incorporate workshop comments, etc. Pretty good productivity considering yesterday I had doubts I’d get anything done at all. I still have to write the climax and the end but I have them in my head. The title is a problem, still. I like the story, though it’s an experimental in structure and tone and you never know how something like that is going to be received. Oh well, can’t worry about that now. Must finish.

I’ve been sipping this puppy down over the last few nights. I’d forgotten I had it. Then I remembered I had it but couldn’t find it. When I found it, I realized there wasn’t really that much left, nor did I love it, so I should add it to project immediate sipdown.

Then I went to write this note and realized I never wrote about this way back when I originally tried it. Probably because there’s not a lot to say about it.

It’s an herbal spicy chocolate blend that smells like weak chocolate and strong cardamom/ginger before steeping. After steeping I can smell that ersatz coffee chickory smell along with the weak chocolate and now weak cardamom/ginger and maybe some clove.

I don’t get a lot of flavor from it. It’s rather light weight all around. The flavor it does have is mostly chocolate and isn’t horrible, it’s just not enough to excite me or make me really look forward to drinking it. I drank it straight up, though it does have a chai-like profile, because there’s no true tea in it and I’m not moved to go to the trouble of making a stove-top effort for a tea-less concoction.

This sounded so much better than it turned out to taste. Ah well.

Boiling 7 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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It seems I have a sample of this in both a decaf and a non-decaf version, and since it’s still fairly early in the day I thought I’d give the regular version a try and perhaps follow it up this evening with the de-caf just for fun.

In the packet, there’s more peach fragrance than ginger, and a bit of a toasty black tea fragrance underneath. After steeping, I smell mostly a sweet, malty, medium-light bodied tea that’s a really lovely color, almost a ruby red.

The flavor is interesting. The peach is the stronger flavor by far, but I can taste the ginger. The tea is a tad bitter which makes me think I steeped too long and I’ll cut back to three minutes next time, but it’s definitely not occluded by the fruit flavor. I’m intrigued to see how it tastes if it’s steeped for less time and also how the decaf version does.

But I think I kind of have to side with the BF on the thought that peach doesn’t really need ginger, and on balance I prefer a really good single fruit flavored black tea of the peachy variety.

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

hmm, can Canadians get this tea?

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drank Coconut Cream Pie by 52teas
953 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 136 of the year 2014. Whew. Since I started counting sipdowns I’ve managed to do at least one a day. I even have another one already lined up for tomorrow. I have some individual serving samples I can also use in a pinch, but I’m trying to get some of the bigger containers in a position to sip down on account of that’s where the real clutter problem lies.

This was my second tea of the day, and it turned into a cold tea experience because I spent the morning on my tax information collection project and I got stuck on the phone with the bank and the benefits person at work trying to figure out whether I had a documentation gap. During that time, this became very close to an iced tea.

The good news is that it’s actually quite good cold. I wouldn’t have thought that would be the case, but it is. It’s actually pretty refreshing, and though I wouldn’t ordinarily think of a coconut black as something to drink iced in summer, that idea is now firmly implanted in my mind.

The only downside is that the coolness doesn’t change the missing pie-ness. It’s a tasty coconut flavor, but I don’t get pie. (At first I thought maybe I did, but then I realized it was the macaroon I ate while drinking this. That wasn’t intentional, by the way. We had a big tray of macaroons leftover from Heritage Night at the kids’ school so I grabbed one without really thinking about the connection between it and what I was drinking.)

BTW, the tax info collection project went much smoother than anticipated. In fact, I’m ready to take the whole she-bang over to FedEx/Kinkos, make copies and ship them off to my accountant (who also happens to be my cousin). That means I have a vast stretch of not that many hours left until the kids get home to do other stuff. And tomorrow. Let’s not forget tomorrow, which was the cushion day I took off in case I found huge gaps in my tax records and had to try to get copies of stuff. I might have a day in which I get to pretend I’m actually a writer for a living.

What a thought.

That’s great – Enjoy your writing day tomorrow! :)


Thanks, I will try! I am worried I’ll get picked on to join some work calls even though I’m supposed to be on vacation. :-(

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Sipdown no. 135 of the year 2014. It wasn’t the only thing I drank today, but it’s the only thing I’m recording because it’s a sipdown.

Today was one of the more brutal work days I’ve had in a while, probably made more so by the fact that I’m planning to take tomorrow and Friday off to work on gathering up my tax info and if I have time after that do some writing without having to snatch 15 minutes here and there. In any case, it was pretty much back to back stuff and I’m exhausted.

That accounts for the non-recording of my teas, and also for the non-reading and liking and commenting of notes. I will try to catch up but I might just have to jump in where I left off, and if so, apologies all around.

In any case, I’ve decided to bump this down just a bit. The more I drank it, the more the honeybush became one of the main flavor components, and it was a sort of a woody, cedar chippy one that distracted me from the cherry/pineapple/cake flavor of the blend.

So while I give it many points for nailing the flavor, I have to mark it down on the overall experience, because although I don’t mind honeybush having a bigger role than rooibos (as in general I prefer its flavor), this one was less of a sweet, mellow flavor base and more of a reedy, woody one.

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Sipdown no. 134 of the year 2014.

Not something I’ll buy again unless I get talked into it by children, as there are so many other things I’d prefer to drink than plain red rooibos regardless of brand.

However, if you like plain red rooibos, you might like this. It has a distinct vanilla note, and it doesn’t have that pencil shaving thing going on that some rooibos does.


Pencil shaving thing! That’s it. I’ve been trying so hard to determine what is the flavor note that bothers me in certain rooibos blends and you just totally nailed it.

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Part of the new work tea stash, and if anything, more enjoyable here because (1) my expectations are lower and (2) it isn’t mate.

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Since this one got a low rating from me, I decided to bring it to work. I figured it wouldn’t really matter how I steeped it. And I was right. It still has all the weirdness going on with the flavor that I mentioned in my original note, which is a shame because it smells incredibly good in dry form. The flavor isn’t bad, it’s just fairly heavy on the fruit (mostly an apply, orangey flavor—not something I’d expect from the name) and light on the toasted nut. And even lighter on the oolong, which I can’t really taste at all (not surprising given that there’s so much else in this mix).

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drank Grapefruit Green by Lupicia
953 tasting notes

(Looks around for Anna.)

I’ve been wanting to try this for a while but every time I think about it I realize it will be a first note and that means more systematic paying attention, and then I realize I don’t have time to really give it that sort of attention. I really don’t have that time today either as I’ve been on calls all morning for work and now have to drive down to the office, but I am REALLY in the mood for a flavored green tea and this one was calling to me.

The leaves appear to be sencha, delicate and flat and on the light green side of the green spectrum rather than the tubular, curly and darker green like typical Chinese green leaves. I suppose this shouldn’t be surprising as I believe Lupicia is a Japanese company? I don’t like to think about what will happen when my Japanese stash is depleted. I’m not convinced I want to buy any tea from Japan post-reactor meltdown.

There’s a wonderful tart-sweet grapefruit smell to the leaves in the packet. Now that I look at the packet again, I realize I may have screwed up the steeping. It says to use boiling (!) water, and I steeped as I usually do with greens, 175 for 1:30. The liquor is a light greenish yellow and has a buttery green tea smell. Really not a lot of grapefruit in the aroma.

But the same isn’t true of the flavor. This is incredibly refreshing, like a splash of cold water over your head, except that it’s hot and in my mouth. I know, sometimes the world doesn’t make sense. I expected tartness, but I don’t really get it, though I get a really interesting aromatic finish and aftersip that’s cooling in the mouth. I taste grapefruit though it isn’t as strong as I would have expected given some other Lupicia flavored teas I’ve had, but perhaps that’s what makes it pleasant. It tastes very much like a green tea with a bit of grapefruit essence. Sort of like those flavored waters with just a hint of fruit flavor in them, only instead of water it’s green tea. There’s a tad of bitterness that floats in and out but not enough to make it unpleasant.

It isn’t as wonderful as the white melon, but it’s quite nice. I’ll try it according to package directions next time and see what that does.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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drank Coconut Cream Pie by 52teas
953 tasting notes

Down to just a few remaining from my 52teas splurge extravaganza of yesteryear. This, butter pecan, black currant white, a few rooibos/honeybush blends and three chais. Now that I list them out, it sounds like a lot more than a few…

I like this one. It’s a solid coconut black tea of the fresh, juicy coconut variety rather than the macaroon-y, toasted coconut variety. Still not getting pie, but I am getting a little minty-ness which makes it sort of candy-like.

No danger of heaviness in the stomach with this one, which makes it a tea to look forward to sipping down.

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drank MateVana by Teavana
953 tasting notes

I believe I got this as part of the Teavana tea of the month club. I had a 2 oz packet that had never been opened (until today) that I brought to work.

Fortunately there is so much going on in the packet that I can’t even smell the mate. There’s a chocolate/coffee liqueur smell and something that’s a little like baked goods, perhaps brownies. I may have underleafed, as I only put 1.5 tsps in the Finum basket (I know it says 2 below, but it wasn’t…)

The mix steeps to an opaque medium-brown. Not as dark as black coffee, not as light as coffee with cream. More like a dark caramel. The aroma isn’t wonderful. It smells a little on the plastic-y side, which may also be that liqueur thing manifesting itself after steeping.

But there is very good news on the taste front. It doesn’t taste like mate! So if you like mate, you may be disappointed. It also doesn’t taste like rooibos, so if you like rooibos you may be disappointed.

What it does taste like is more difficult to describe. There are a number of chocolate flavoring agents in this but amazingly, it doesn’t taste very chocolatey. I think it is supposed to taste like coffee, and I suppose it does lean that way, but I would never mistake it for coffee or hot chocolate. It’s sort of a third thing that isn’t without flavor, but doesn’t taste like anything I can identify. The closest I can come is the flavor in the bottom of the ice-filled cup after the Coca-Cola has been consumed, a sort of dilute sweet flavor that has an echo of chocolate to it.

I wonder if it would taste better with more leaf? Will try next time.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Geoffrey Norman

This was the first mate blend I ever tried.

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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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