1178 Tasting Notes


Another of the Earl Greys I found while going through my tea collection. I haven’t tried this one before, either.

I steeped this according to the consensus of tasting notes at boiling and for three minutes.

I didn’t get much bergamot fragrance at all from the dry tea, but the try tea was in one of those S&V paper bags. It was nicely taped up still, but the reality is all the S&V dry leaf smells similar to me because of the paper bags and it all smells a little fruity in a berry sort of way. It must be because I had some berry flavored blacks in the group and the strongest aroma shared with all the others.

I don’t get a ton of bergamot after steeping either, but of course, I don’t like heavy bergamot in my Earl Grey so that’s a good thing. The liquor is clear and a cherry wood red color which must be the influence of the Ceylon.

I like the black tea blend in this one. I definitely taste the Assam, but it isn’t overpowering. I taste the darjeeling as well. It’s a very flavorful base and while I wouldn’t call it smooth, it isn’t harsh either, just has a small bit of bite.

And that’s mostly what I taste, at least this time around. I’m not sure I’d identify this as an Earl Grey if I wasn’t told it was. There is a definite floral note to the tea, but not much of a citrus one and the floral could just as easily be something other than bergamot to my tastebuds.

So I’m torn on how to rate this. On the one hand, as a tea, I quite like it. On the other, I’m not sure it lived up to my expectations of an Earl Grey. On the other hand (what other hand? how many hands do I have?), my expectations of an Earl Grey often result in my feeling that the bergamot is too strong (which this isn’t) and is sitting like a lump of tar in my stomach (which this isn’t).

So I’ll split the baby. Earl Grey points: 75. Tea tastiness points: 83. Rating: 79.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

My goodness, how many earl grey do you have in your stash??


At least 10 now. I had more but I sipped some down. ;-)


Fair enough ;)


Do you have A&D Mt Gray? Very fine, not too bold or soapy. Just right.


Yes, A&D’s is one of the ones I have. I haven’t tasted it yet, though. :-)


I really want to know your opinion . Not many Steepsterees love EG. I really miss my Jackson’s of Piccadilly but maybe it’s just good memories


I will definitely write about it when I try it. Since it’s one of my newer teas, I feel compelled to try to drink some of the older ones first.

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drank Vanilla Oolong by Adagio Teas
1178 tasting notes

After revisiting the Almond Oolong and preparing it in the gaiwan, I thought I’d do the opposite with this one. I steeped three cups worth in the Breville. I’m going to spring it on the BF and see what he thinks.

You know, you live with someone for more than 10 years, several of which have involved an intensive tea obsession, and one day he says, “Did I mention I went through a tea phase? When I lived in New York, I used to go to McNulty’s” and the rest starts to sound like Charlie Brown’s adults going wha wha wha wha because you’re like— what planet are you from and who are you anyway? LOL.

It is possible that the preparation method made the vanilla taste less artificial and bakey to me, however, it isn’t enough of an improvement to sell me on this tea. Sweetening does make the vanilla flavor better (thanks Terri HarpLady for the suggestion), though I have tasted so many really nice vanilla flavored blacks, even the sweetened version of this doesn’t excite me. I’m not noticing that it’s bringing out the oolong more, either, which is one of my difficulties with this. The tea seems to me to be more functioning as a flavor delivery mechanism than as a taste of its own. Bumping it down a few points.


you call someone you lived with for over 10 years the BF? I just find it interesting. to me, if someone’s made it that long they’ve been promoted to ‘partner’ status. :)


Yeah, the nomenclature is a point of discussion sometimes. He uses the term partner to describe me. I’ve been married before, he hasn’t, so my definition of partner is somewhat different and more antiquated, I guess. ;-)

Terri HarpLady

I’ve been with the same guy for 13+ years, & I still call him my BF. Of course, we live 5 minutes apart, so officially we aren’t partners, since we don’t share a house, right? ;)


If sharing a house makes you partners I had a lot of them in college. ;-)


Lol. I have a feeling the law would have a fit if I one day tried to bail taking all our possessions and the house.


Yeah, well, we don’t have a lot of joint possessions. We tend to each have our own things and the house is mine. It predated the BF. ;-)

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drank Almond Oolong by Adagio Teas
1178 tasting notes

Since I have an almond theme going, I thought I’d revisit this one.

This time I tried it in the gaiwan with steeps starting at 30 seconds, going up to 1:30. Also shared with the BF. Both kids are out on play dates so it’s unnaturally quiet around here. Too bad I still have a headache or it would be a lovely little bit of adult free time.

This is much more enjoyable with this preparation compared to my first jaunt with it. The almond flavor hangs on pretty continually with only a little weakening across multiple steeps. The oolong base is, for some reason, more prevalent, too. I can taste an underlying toastiness, though without any sort of winy tang that would really let me know I’m tasting oolong.

It’s much more enjoyable than the Adagio Vanilla Oolong in my book. The flavoring agent doesn’t come across as bakey fakey in the way the vanilla did.

I’m bumping this a couple of points. I still like the idea of almond oolong better than this particular almond oolong itself, and I wonder whether I should, perhaps, try the Zen Tea Oolong Almond which has about a ten point higher average rating?

Sami Kelsh

I get oatmeal from this tea. I don’t know if that’s weird, but it totally reminds me of oatmeal.


Hmmm. I didn’t get oatmeal. It would have been fun to get oatmeal though…

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drank Almond Cookie by SpecialTeas
1178 tasting notes

This is another of my unopened SpecialTeas samples from a while ago, and having recently gone over the moon for ATR Brioche, I am finding the ingredient list on this one extremely interesting… and the aroma in the sample packet is like deja vu all over again.

I’m using the same temp and steep time as with the Brioche for comparison purposes, though SpecialTeas recommends a higher temperature and shorter steep. I may try that if this comparison run isn’t satisfactory.

The aroma after steeping is very much of buttery almond pastry. The flavor is as well, and I can see why this got high marks from folks here on Steepster.

The good news for me is that I prefer the Brioche, which is still available, to this one despite the fact that this one is quite yummy. The reason is the complexity of the Brioche’s flavor. Almond Cookie’s flavor, despite its delicious almondy sweetness, doesn’t evoke the same bready pastry flavor like a croissant or bear claw. But on the other hand it does taste a lot like a very buttery version of a biscotti (the ones I eat are far crisper and less shortbready than some I’ve tasted and correspondingly lower in calories). The body of the tea is a bit lighter and crisper.

I’ll enjoy this one but I’m relieved to find I don’t prefer it to the Brioche, since SpecialTeas is no more.

Flavors: Butter, Nuts

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML

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Sipdown no. 76 of the year 2014. Both 75 and this one were not sample sipdowns which makes me feel a little more like I’m making some headway here. I’m not commuting today, it being Saturday, but since I was so close to being able to sip this down I decided to steep some of this anyway. I am toying with the idea of making the Teavana Three Kingdoms Mao Feng my next commuting tea. I’m about 95% there in the decision making process.

It’s another rainy day here. Everyone says California needs the rain, so who am I to judge, but I don’t love it when it rains out here. Everyone manages to slide their cars into everyone else because no one knows how to drive in any sort of “weather.” People get weird, too, because this area is full of athletic types who don’t know what to do with themselves when it rains. The hard core go out and bike or run anyway, but everyone else seems slightly on edge at the thought that they might actually have to stay inside for a few hours. Personally, I’m all about napping and watching the Olympics on TV, drinking some tea and maybe reading if my headache goes away.

Today this tea is behaving in my stomach. I’m mostly getting chocolate flavored black tea in the taste again, with a slight peanutty aftertaste. Final verdict—it’s not a favorite and a rather uneven experience so I’m docking it another couple of points. But the good news is I have a few more vintage 52 Teas packets I haven’t cracked open yet (and some I have but haven’t had in a while) and I’m thinking about which to try next. Chocolate Raisin? A return to White Chocolate Cashew? Decisions, decisions.

Sami Kelsh

Ha! I wonder what those athletic-types would do over a Manchester winter. I actually audibly gasped the other day when THE SUN CAME OUT. You can do things indoors, kids! Just march up and down the corridors of your apartment building until you feel you’ve had a workout!


Hehehehe. I imagine they’d find something to do, but they’d probably complain about seasonal affective disorder while doing it. ;-)

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drank Earl Grey Black by Teavana
1178 tasting notes

I found some Earl Greys I hadn’t yet tried. This is one of them. I am guessing this is one of the teas of the month. I don’t have a memory of ordering it separately but I suppose I could have. I mostly ordered unusual mixes from Teavana, though so it would be surprising if I chose this.

It’s really hard to enter flavors for Earl Grey with “bergamot” not among the options. ;-) The dry leaves have the characteristic scent, but it’s a more florally than fruity one. The floral notes continue in the steeped tea’s aroma along with a sweet, molasses-like note in the tea. The tea is a pretty color; light brownish orange.

I didn’t know until I read the description of this that this is a natural antidepressant. Cool. Wonder if it’s the bergamot or the tea/bergamot combination?

The flavor is better than I expected. For someone who prefers a light touch on bergamot, this is a solid Earl Grey. The underlying tea is smooth and mild, without any bitterness. The bergamot is just enough to make this taste like an Earl Grey without making my nasal passages scream and my eyes water.

I actually prefer this to the Todd & Holland I’ve been drinking the past few days though I suspect it isn’t as good a tea on an objective measure. It doesn’t have as much depth, but I like it for its mildness. It goes down easy and doesn’t do a number on my stomach. There’s no minerally, metallic or potato-y note to this.

It doesn’t have a lot of personality, but again, that’s what I think is nice about it. It’s just a nice cup of tea. I still prefer the Samovar and ATR versions overall, but they have definite personalities. This is a cup you can just sit with and enjoy without thinking about it. It doesn’t cry out for analysis and appreciation of its complexity. It just is.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML
Sami Kelsh

I was skeptical of the antidepressant claim, and apparently it’s because of the calming effect of bergamot oil. I wouldn’t shelve your Efexor in favour of it, though :p

(That said, I’m scheduling an Earl Grey into my daily rotation…)

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drank Masala Chai by Adagio Teas
1178 tasting notes

I have three samples left from the Adagio chai sampler—this, the thai chai and the spiced apple chai. I decided to try this first. I made it using the Samovar stovetop recipe and doubled the recipe to make a cup for the BF who I don’t think has ever tried chai.

It has been so long since I made chai that I’m going to have a hard time rating this because I don’t fully remember what my favorites taste like, and I’m really enjoying this for being chai more than for any specific taste-related reason.

I will say that this doesn’t list pepper as an ingredient, which I remember is a big chai requirement for me, but it tastes like it does have pepper. It has a really nice spicy kick which may be from the ginger root? I certainly taste the cinnamon, clove and cardamom.

I’m giving this a low excellent rating for now until I refresh my recollection about which chais I like and why.

BTW, I hit 75 sipdowns for 2014 and it was a big one, but my triumphant note got buried in the backlog from the dashboard freeze so I feel compelled to mention it again. LOL.

ETA: Make that four samples, or now 3.5 as I only have half of this left. I forgot to list the chocolate chai. It was hiding behind some oolong.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Cloves

Boiling 8 min or more
Sami Kelsh

Yay! I find so many chais disappointing because they’re too sweet and not spicy enough. This is encouraging. nods


Not too sweet—boiled in water and Splenda (then 1% milk) or could have been even less sweet.

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drank Berryblossom White by Tazo
1178 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 75 for the year 2014. This is a big one.

I had a LOT of this because when I started out trying teas, I came upon some sale on Amazon that involved significant savings if you bought six boxes. I had no idea how long it would take me to drink six boxes, but it wouldn’t have taken me anywhere near this long if I’d stopped buying tea after that Amazon extravaganza. Of course I didn’t, and I just ended up with way more than any sane person should have.

By the way, embarrassingly, this was not the only Tazo tea I bought in that sale. I had a lot of Tazo for a long time. I still have some honeybush, the Lotus decaf, and the cinnamon licorice thing in quantity, but everything else has been pared down to a few bags here and there.

I would also note that the list of ingredients on the tea page are different from what is in my tea. Mine has the following, according to the packet and the box:

White tea, natural blueberry flavour and natural cranberry flavour

No huckleberries. No darjeeling! Which is weird, because I could have sworn I tasted the darjeeling in here and I even raved about it in a previous note. Damn confusing tea….

So either they changed the ingredients or they mislabeled my tea.

Whatever. I like it. It’s not planty, it’s got real flavor to it, and whatever the label says I wouldn’t be surprised if it has darjeeling in it because I’ve never seen a white tea steep this dark. It’s sort of a butterscotch color. (Perhaps it is white darjeeling?)

A poignant goodbye to a long-term cupboard occupant. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

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drank Ripe Mango Oolong by Lupicia
1178 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 74 for the year 2014. A teabag from the work stash. (Oolong in a bag just seems weird to me because of leaf expansion and all.)

But wow. After yesterday’s not particularly successful vanilla oolong experience, this redeemed the flavored oolong genre for me.

This is a flavored oolong where I can actually taste the oolong, which is a green, buttery, floral one of the type I really enjoy. The mango, which was a strong fragrance before steeping, is much more of a team player in the aroma after steeping. I don’t find it to be overly strong in the flavor of the tea and in fact I’m not sure I would have identified it as mango, but some of that may have to do with the age of this teabag. There is a light, tropical fruit flavor though, and the mango becomes more pronounced in the finish and aftertaste.

Unfortunately, my water source at work is so far from my desk that I can’t easily do multiple steeps, but I’ve tasted enough to warrant giving this another try, if/when I come out of lockdown and order from Lupicia again.

2 min, 0 sec

Holy Mother of Sipdowns! You might not have any tea left soon! :D


Kat, oh if only! LOL. Let’s talk when I hit 1000. ;-)


you’re really killing it with the imbibition process!! happy sipping ;p

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Today this served its purpose as the designated “commute” tea.

I have maybe one or two pots of this left now and I noticed today that there don’t appear to be any big chocolate and peanut butter chips left in what’s left in my tin. Which may explain why today, as I was putting the open tumbler into my car’s cupholder, I smelled, for the first time, a black tea aroma taking precedence over chocolate.

I wouldn’t have thought that the lack of chips would have made a lot of difference, but I do notice less sweetness to the blend today. Hmmm. It could be related to the chips, but maybe not.

I got more tea base today in the flavor as well, though part of this may be that I drank this on the heels of the SpecialTeas chocolate and cream sample, and this has an overall less sweet profile than that tea (because no cream flavor). More tea base, some chocolate, and just a tad of peanut butter today.

The more I drink this, the more doubts I have about it. Today it’s sitting pretty heavily. It seems to sit heavily with me about a third of the time, though who knows why that is. It may be the tea, it may be something else entirely. I think I’m just not as excited about the flavor on this one as some other 52 Teas blends, and the more I experience it the less I think it really captures the peanut butter cup flavor, which is one of the main measures I have for giving points on a tea like this. Another small downward ratings bump today.

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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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