1179 Tasting Notes

67

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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73

Sipdown no. 73 of the year 2014. It appears there was one bag of this left in both the home and work stash. It was really the BF who sipped this down because he didn’t want to drink the chocolate teas I made this morning. He finds the entire idea of chocolate tea “gross.”

Kewl. More for me. ;-)

I did have a couple of sips before I gave him the cup and I enjoyed this more than my original rating reflected so I’ve bumped it up some. I am sure I have other teas scented with Osmanthus in my possession and I think I had been waiting to try those to see how they compared, so I rated this on the low side. Unfortunately, I haven’t actually dug around to find those other teas and compare them. But on a non-comparative basis, this is a delicately scented tea that steeps to something with flavor and with lack of plantiness. Since I sometimes find that to be the trade off with white teas—either they’re so delicate as to require me to play find the flavor, or they have an aspect of them that’s rather like the stems of cut flowers after they’ve sat in water for a week—I give this points for being the happy in between.

Flavors: Flowers

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77

I have a small group of still sealed SpecialTeas flavored black samples that I might as well break out. I am hoping I don’t fall in love with any of them because SpecialTeas no longer exists…

This one says it has chocolate chips, cocoa kernels, and flavoring, which makes me wonder where the cream comes from (is that the flavoring)? It has little pieces of chips and such in and among the black tea. The smell in the packet is chocolatey, but not in an overly rich way.

The aroma doesn’t have a lot of chocolate smell except perhaps in a baked way, but not as rich as baking cake or brownies. The liquor is cloudy, likely from the melted bits, and brown orange tea color.

The flavor is better than I expected from the aroma, and it is a tasty, milk chocolately black tea. It’s not nearly as wonderful as Harney’s chocolate, though, which makes me silly with happiness since Harney’s is still available. It makes me want to taste the Teafrog Chocolate and Cream again to see how these compare. I may very well need to bump up the Teafrog.

Flavors: Chocolate, Cream

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML

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78

Sipdown no. 72 of the year 2014.

The metallic note was hitting me some today even though this one has the least of that note of the three bergamot strengths. Perhaps it really does have to do with body chemistry at a given time. Still, a nice, bold Earl to start the day.

Tomorrow, on to some other Earl Greys I haven’t tried or haven’t tried in a while. I found four or so in my stash and I suspect I have even more.

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86
drank Ocean of Wisdom by Samovar
1179 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 71 of the year 2014. A sample. Wow, my first sipdown of the day? I’m obviously losing my momentum…

But finally a Samovar herbal that is still available to buy! Whew.

I was reading about this being the equivalent of their chai but without caffeine, which got me wondering about how to prepare it. Samovar recommends their chai be prepared using a stovetop method on the sample packet (I still have a chai sample, too), but the directions on the sample packet for this don’t make that recommendation. I’ll steep as directed, since I’ve had excellent results for the most part when I follow Samovar’s instructions exactly.

(I feel slightly intimidated by this blend, which was made for the Dalai Lama…)

The sample didn’t have much of a smell in the packet, just a sort of generic spiciness. This, along with the licorice-as-ingredient, along with the last tisane experience, Nocturnal Bliss, had me slightly worried as I waited for the steeping to take its course. I wasn’t getting a lot of aroma from the steeped tisane either.

But why, oh why did I doubt the blending power of the Samovar? The flavor pulls all the loose ends together so nicely. I know the clove is there, but it doesn’t push the other flavors out of the cup as it can sometimes do. I know the cinnamon is there, but it isn’t heavy, or woody, or powdery. I know the ginger is there, but it isn’t bitter or pungent. I know the licorice is there, but it doesn’t attack me.

I don’t know so much that either the rooibos or honeybush are there, though I can definitely pick them out if I try. There’s a hint of something vanilla-like coming through from the rooibos and honey-like from the honeybush, and I can even get to something woody/reedy if I try hard enough, but I really do have to try pretty hard.

Each of the flavors can be identified, but each melds into the others to create something completely different that isn’t any of them separately and is more then all of them together. It’s as though each ingredient adds depth to the flavor.

If I’m honest with myself, I like the Berry Rooibos and the Orange Ginger slightly better, mostly because I find berry an easier flavor to consume late at night than a chai-like combination, and because the Orange Ginger did some rather marvelous voodoo on my stomach and by extension my entire nervous system. Given this is a non-caffeinated blend, I’d be drinking this at night.

But this has one thing those don’t have. It’s available. If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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84
drank Pumpkin Pie by Art of Tea
1179 tasting notes

Everyone in my house is distracted by something tonight, and they’re all distracted by different things. Consequently, I could not get anyone to pay attention to my attempt to rally around a dessert tea we could all enjoy.

No one was interested in trying this but me and the BF. I was very interested though, especially after I stuck my nose in the packet. There’s a gingerbready smell to the dry mixture that you can just tell from smelling it is going to take on a pastry note when you steep it. Mmmm.

The liquor is orange. Deep orange, very pumpkin themed. The aroma is of clove, mostly, but also cinnamon and also, very faintly, that promise of pastry.

When it’s very hot, it’s a spice tea. Clove, cinnamon, ginger, all represented, pretty much in that order, along with something else from the pumpkin pie spice experience. Allspice? Nutmeg? It’s not listed among the ingredients, but there’s something else that’s evoked, as in the pumpkin pie spice you can buy premixed.

But when it cools some, a subtle pastry-like note creeps in that makes it more than just spice and really evokes the pumpkin aspect of the pie filling along with a bit of crust. I can’t help but think that milk might make this come out even more, though it’s enough for me without.

I haven’t had any other tisane that claims the name pumpkin pie but I would guess it would be hard to evoke the pie and not just the spice and to do it well. I don’t love pumpkin pie so much that this would necessarily become a staple for me and the BF said he wouldn’t order it again, but I give this one high marks for living up to its name.

Oh! And I can’t taste the honeybush. So points.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Cloves

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

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66
drank Vanilla Oolong by Adagio Teas
1179 tasting notes

Did I mention I love oolong? Did I mention I have a ton of it? I’ve decided I really ought to start drinking it more, so I’ll be trying to make sure that happens.

I decided to try this one in the gaiwan. In the sample tin it has the same sort of heavy smell as the almond oolong though not quite as play-doh-y and obviously vanilla. The leaves are short and extremely dark brown.

They yield an amber liquor that smells slightly of vanilla.

Steep 1, 30 sec The flavor is definitely vanilla, with a sort of stonefruity oolong underneath. I have to really focus to taste the tea behind the vanilla, though.

Steep 2, 45 sec There is still vanilla, though it is a little weaker. I know there’s an oolong underneath but the vanilla flavor really melds with the tea in such a way that I can’t taste it independently. The aroma has a slight suggestion of coffee with cream now.

Steep 3, 1 minute There’s more nutty oolong in the aroma, but still a predominantly vanilla flavor. I am not sure whether it is the flavoring agent itself or the way it goes with the tea, but it’s neither something I’d call a creamy vanilla, nor a beany one. It leans more toward cream than bean, but it has something that strikes me as a false note about it. I have been finding that I have a harder time with teas, other than black and sometimes green ones, that have been flavored. Flavored whites and oolongs often don’t hit me just right. This one isn’t hitting me just right.

Steep 4, 1 min 15 sec The vanilla is hanging in. I’m noticing a silky mouthfeel, but I’m still not really tasting the underlying tea so much as I am the vanilla flavoring combined with the tea.

I may go a few more steeps, but I’m thinking this is about on a par with the almond oolong though perhaps less interesting. With the almond I got a definite fresh nutty-almond taste. This one does live up to its name on the vanilla side, but not so much on the oolong side. I may try the almond in the gaiwan and this one steeped western style and see what happens when I reverse the methods, but for now I like the almond better and I didn’t really view that one as a keeper.

Flavors: Vanilla

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec
TheTeaFairy

I can never get too much of oolong…I always crave it!!

__Morgana__

Yeah, there is nothing like a really excellent oolong.

Sami Kelsh

YAY OOLONG. It is magical. I actually really prefer using this tea in blends when I want something a bit wholesome and a vanilla-ness without tasting strongly of black tea. Or (as I also tend to do with flavoured coffees) adding half of this to half plain oolong so the vanilla’s a more subtle note.

__Morgana__

Sami, that sounds like the way to go. I found the vanilla fairly overpowering here.

Terri HarpLady

As I recall, this one tasted like a delicious vanilla sugar cookie :)
I also love oolong, but mostly the aroma wafting wuyi types

__Morgana__

Terri, I wish I had gotten delicious vanilla sugar cookie from this one. :-( The vanilla in this, unfortunately, reminded me of the vanilla in the Numi Black Vanilla Decaf which I really did not like at all. It could be user error but it could also just be that I like a particular type of vanilla flavor that isn’t what this has. Oh well.

Terri HarpLady

I added a little stevia to it :)

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78
drank Go Go Goji by Teavana
1179 tasting notes

Another discontinued Teavana offering that I found in my stash and believe dates to my tea of the month club membership.

My experience of this is very similar to that recounted by Ninavampi in her note. I too had balls of sticky fluff in my packet and I too erred on the side of overleafing. The dry mixture has a really interesting scent. I can smell the lychee, and something else that is tart and must be the goji. But it also smells a little like a forest—earthy but also weirdly fresh.

Very light yellow liquor. The lychee comes through in the aroma. It has a sort of weirdness that may signal bitterness in the taste.

Fortunately, it isn’t bitter, except for a tiny bit in the aftertaste. I wonder whether it really requires 5 minutes of steeping and I may try a shorter steep time later.

Since I have no idea what goji berries taste like, I can’t really say how this lives up to its name. It has a light lycheefied taste, which is good because lychee can be too heavy for my taste sometimes. It isn’t overly sweet, but it isn’t overly tart either, and there’s none of the dreaded plantiness from the white tea. I don’t get much rose at all, which is unfortunate. Maybe next time.

I put it between Youthberry and Shanghai Orchid on my preference continuum. I doubt I’d reorder it even if it wasn’t discontinued but I won’t approach sipping it down with dread.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 5 min, 0 sec 5 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML

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78
drank Youthberry by Teavana
1179 tasting notes

Departing from my day of only drinking things I’ve already opened to try this.

I’m so confused, though. There are two Youthberry entries for what looks like the same thing (they’re both white teas with a bunch of other stuff in them including acai berries, mango, pineapple, currants, etc.) and then there are a bunch of other Youthberry combos. I picked this one for my Youthberry note. Mine’s a white tea with all the foregoing stuff plus more in it.

I’m pretty sure I got it as part of the tea of the month club. I was holding the open packet in my hand when the BF walked in and announced he could smell it across the room and he really wanted some of whatever it was.

It’s another of those visually attractive Teavana fruit blends with pieces so big I’m really sort of shooting in the dark on the measurements and leaning toward severe overleafing. In the packet it smells very floral to me, a sort of mostly hibiscus with some rose fragrance.

The liquor is a very light rosy pink. There aroma of the steeped tea smells very hibiscusy, sort of tart-bitter. Rather medicinal and not at all promising.

Fortunately, it doesn’t taste as scary as it smells. In fact, it might be that the tartness really cuts the plantiness that white tea can have—which may explain why I like white grapefruit blends.

Sacrilege, I know, but this is one hibiscus and rose hip blend that doesn’t make me pucker like a fishface and run for the sugar. There’s actually a sugary, dewy sweetness to it at the end of the sip and in the aftertaste. I wouldn’t know an acai berry if it hit me in the face, but perhaps that’s what I’m tasting? With an undercurrent of currant, pardon the expression, that pulls the flavor a little deeper and keeps it from just skidding along the surface.

What I’m not tasting or smelling is the mango, pineapple, etc. except in a very general sense, which enables this blend to completely avoid any association with Adagio’s White Tropics. I really like it more than the Shanghai Orchid of yesterday and will jigger the ratings accordingly. Time will tell if it is a restock, but at least it’s one Teavana blend I have that hasn’t been discontinued.

ETA: The BF loves it.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 5 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML

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88

In keeping with the theme of drinking already opened things today, I decided to make this my after lunch tea. Among my green teas this is one of the ones that has been open the longest, so I feel the need to give it special attention.

It continues to be workmanlike Chinese green tea. Pleasant enough but not much of a stand out in a crowd. I like its buttery spinach-like quality and its sweet aftertaste. It’s good after linguine with mushrooms and grilled chicken (my lunch finally showed up).

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Bio

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. :-)

Location

Bay Area, California

Website

http://www.jjroth.net

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