1178 Tasting Notes


As part of the project to sip down open sample packets (which is frankly not going all that well because I keep opening more), I’m turning to this one which has been sitting in the “to be drunk soon” sample box since my original note. At least it’s an older open sample, so it fulfills the primary goal of the project better than sipping down something I opened yesterday. Not that this is in a position to be sipped down… yet.

I have a lot of breakfast blends but I haven’t had any in a while? Seems like my order in the morning has gone: Earl Grey, flavored black, another flavored black or an unflavored single tea black. I’m reminded of how much I enjoy good breakfast blends.

This one has the heft of a cup of coffee without an unpleasant throat bite and indeed, rather a smoothness to it. The Darjeeling addition really makes it interesting as it adds both a softness and what I called before a “perkiness” to the flavor.

Very enjoyable morning eye-opener.

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Today’s Earl is the single bergamot, and it is indeed my favorite of the three Todd & Holland Earls. The tea base comes through so much more in this version and though I still prefer the Samovar and ATR blends, it’s a very solid Earl Grey.

Looks like I have one more serving before sipdown. ..

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Tasting note no. 666. Cue Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.


(The spooky Omen music starts at about 1:48 but you can knock yourself out and listen to the whole thing if you have an hour LOL.)

I had nothing with devil, diablo, diable, satan, lucifer, or such in the name so I decided to go the opposite direction, literally up rather than down. Hence the Temple of Heaven.

After I sampled this in my 31 flavor Golden Moon sampler I gave it a rating of 73 and added it to my order. It’s weird, though. Now I don’t think I’d order something unless I gave it a 75 or higher, and I’d probably only order a few teas ranked in the 70s as there are so many I’ve given more than 80 to.

But that’s easily solved on this one by bumping the rating a few points. I don’t have a lot to compare it to in the gunpowder sphere, but as a green tea, it’s a nice change from the lighter, more vegetal green teas I’ve been having lately. The smokiness, though light by Lapsang and even Keemun standards, is quite enjoyable on a rainy February evening.

I may regret drinking this at 9 p.m., but I was up against the 666 number and I didn’t see this as a first thing in the morning tea. Heh.

Night night all.


Hahaha! Love the evil dramatic music reference…I have it in my ipod, I do put it on sometimes and my dog starts howling like a wolf, so funny! Miss the omen, I love the darkness, mwahahaha!


hahahah on Carmina Burana ;p O Fortuna!


Hahaha! Was waiting for this one, and that’s perfect! ;-)


ha ha ha…. awesome note with a dramatic note! :D


Heh. It was fun to mix it up a bit. Glad you liked it. :-)


LOL. This was great. I’m listening to it at work and it’s making my mundane office stuff far more dramatic! :D


Omg, I’m listening to this and it is tripping me out how dramatic my cats’ antics are with this playing. Love it!


Love how the cats and dogs react to this—LOL!

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We took a vote for an after dinner tisane and this is what won. (I mentioned that raspberry is the BF’s favorite fruit earlier when we tried the Simpson & Vail raspberry flavored black tea.)

There’s an amazing smell in the packet, like a raspberry parfait. It steeps to a reddish orange (I would have expected it to be redder?) and the aroma leads with vanilla and ends with raspberry with only a very slightly discernible rooibos scent.

The flavor has a citrusy tang, and a smoothness from the vanilla. The tang smooths out into raspberry in the finish and the aftertaste. I don’t really taste the rooibos, which makes this a success for me.

My main complaint is I wish the flavor was a bit stronger. It’s fairly light and even slightly watery. Next time I’ll mess with the water/leaf ratio and see if I can get a bit more flavor. If so, I’ll boost the rating. The flavor, such that it is, is very nice.

Boiling 7 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML

Tea votes, lol. Yay for tea democracy :-)


Hahaha! Most of the time we live in a tea dictatorship, with me yelling, “Hey, I’m making some tea, want some?” and no one else has a lot of choice in the matter. ;-)


Well I say if you make it, you choose it!!

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drank Lemon Youkou by Teavana
1178 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 70 for the year 2014.

The thing about this mixture is that it has so many humongoid pieces and you have to use so much to keep it from being too tart to drink that it doesn’t go very far. One 2 oz packet made exactly two pots of tea (approximately 7 servings).

I tried it on the kids tonight. No. 2 said it was too “lemony” by which I think he meant sour. No. 1 said it was good but didn’t really want to drink it.

The BF said that he really liked it and he thought it would be great to have around for sore throats. He claimed to like it better than the Strawberry Lemonade. No. 1 and I both prefer the Strawberry Lemonade. No. 2 abstained from comment.

Since it has been discontinued, it’s not something we can have around for sore throats. I did like it better this time around so I’m bumping the rating. But I doubt I would have reordered it much—two pots to a packet doesn’t really work for me.


You have very cute family tea moments , thanks for sharing them :-)


I’m glad you’re enjoying them—I mostly record them because I want to remember them and sometimes forget other people can read these. LOL.

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drank Shanghai Orchid by Teavana
1178 tasting notes

When I first opened the packet I was worried this was going to be a repeat of the Adagio White Tropics because there was something in the smell that, while not as cloying and false as the Adagio, still leaned that way—but the more I inhaled, the more I lost that “remembered” smell and got a more typical Teavana fruity smell. It’s similar to what I smell when I stick my nose in many of their fruit blends, but with a much more central melon overtone.

One thing you have to hand to Teavana is that they make their blends very visually interesting. This one is very colorful with big chunks of fruit as well as petals among the leaves.

This steeps to a very light, clear yellow color with an aroma that is sweet, but just when it seems like it might turn toward cloying, a whiff of a fresh (floral?) note breezes in to dispel that impression.

The taste is light, floral, a little sweet. Not unpleasant.

I think I should like this more than I do and I think perhaps I am just not a huge fan of flavored white teas unless the flavor is grapefruit. But that seems too self-limiting. I will
try it again another time and see if I have a different impression.

I do give it points for avoiding the cloying and the planty.

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

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Sipdown no. 69 for the year 2014.

When I drank this yesterday I got interrupted because I was late to pick up No. 1 at an activity. By the time I got back this had cooled quite a bit.

I meant to mention that the dry leaf mixture has a really interesting aspect to the aroma which I would describe as “creamy” though it’s probably more accurate to say it has unexpected depth.

Sipping this at a warmer temperature and a more leisurely pace, I’m enjoying the way the oolong plays off the green tea and the fruit flavors. I can definitely taste the oolong more than the green tea but it has a very round quality to it, no rough edges at all, no pungent champagniness (I am assuming it is a darker Formosa oolong though I really don’t know what kind it is—but I don’t get the sort of creamy floral notes I get from greener oolongs). I also taste it quite a bit in the aftertaste, where it leaves a more typical nutty impression.

A tasty afternoon tea.


i wonder if you can really lose weight with it.


Supposedly green tea boosts metabolism, but who knows. I think drinking a lot of beverages like tea that have no calories would definitely help, though.


id assume the same thing

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For my 450th distinct tea represented in these-here notes (as opposed to the number of these-here notes), I thought I’d write about something I’ve been wanting to try for a long time.

This tea has gotten a lot of love on Steepster and I’ve had a sample of it (hermetically sealed) waiting for a special occasion. After tasting it, I have jumped on the love bandwagon.

When I sniffed the tea in the sample packet I thought I’d fallen into a vat of liquid almond croissants! The aroma is of the sweet, buttery, rich almond paste that’s used in pastries like croissants, bear claws, etc. I have not had a brioche (I don’t think I have anyway) but if they smell like this, I must make it a project to have one.

The steeped tea carries that aroma as well, in an amazingly rich, deep fragrance. I would have expected it to be much more dilute. The liquor is a clear chestnut color.

The taste is quite remarkable. I didn’t expect complexity. I expected it to taste like it smelled, more or less. And it does, but it’s not just almond paste. It’s that plus butter, brown sugar, baked goods. It really is a liquid dessert.

As an aside, I’ve started to categorize tea companies in my mind by what I think they do really well in terms of flavors. As examples, I think of Kusmi as great at berry flavors and caramel, but not at chocolate or vanilla. I think of Harney & Sons as great at chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, and rose, among other things. Given my recent tastings of ATR teas, I was ready to conclude that ATR is great at fruit flavors. Now I have to include Brioche along with fruit flavors!

Flavors: Butter, Nuts

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

WOWWW, what a review! what a tea! this is something i’d totally love…the notes sound amazing. i really enjoy your reviews…you’re so helpful, not to mention eloquent. Also- tea #450…congratulations!!


Thanks so much, and I’m glad it’s helpful!


On my wish list for a long time. I just don’t know what else to try to justify the puchase


Boychick, the apricot and passion fruit blacks are quite good if you like those flavors.


I do love apricots. Thanks for suggestion. And congrats on 450 review. I like your writing. My middle daughter had a test on creative writing last weekend in specialized middle school. She won’t know the results until may and it drives her nuts. Very ambitious young lady;)


Boychick, I have a number of other ATR samples I’ll be trying so maybe something among those will sound good to you, too. I wish your daughter best of luck! Ambition is a good thing. :-)


I’m looking forward to your ATR or any other reviews. Thank you for your kind wishes. Ambition is good until she drives everybody crazy;)

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The electricians are here installing our new exterior lights and also fixing some problems with the fixtures in the kitchen and one of the bathrooms. I just looked outside and the new light is up by the front door. Yay! It’s a craftsman style lamp and so much better looking that the ones that came with the house. Plus it will have a sensor so that I won’t have to fumble with my keys in the dark if I forget to turn on the light before leaving the house. Double yay!

Since the BF is supervising all this, I thought I’d be nice to him and steep something he was bound to like. Raspberry is his favorite fruit of all time.

For this first time, I steeped at 4 minutes and less than boiling despite the directions. Next time I’ll be a good girl and play by the rules.

The smell of the dry leaf is, in a word, yum. Definitely raspberry and a really nice one. At first I thought there were flowers in the mix, but I think the small greyish things I thought were flowers are the raspberry leaves.

The steeped tea has the reddish brown color of Ceylon liquor and is very clear. There’s a mild, almost malty tea scent under the raspberry aroma, which is subtle.

The flavor. How to describe it. It’s not the juicy, fresh fruit flavor of the ATM fruit blends. It’s more of a baked goods fruit flavor, definitely there but more subtle—not jammy. Like it was woven into the fabric of the tea. At first I worried that it would taste soapy, because there’s just the slightest hint of that in the aroma, but it’s not.

I don’t think I’ve tasted a raspberry flavored black tea before. Though I like fruit blends that are bursting with juicy flavor, I also like the quieter ones like this where the fruit flavor is integrated in and made part of the tea, like banana is integrated into banana bread. There’s a lovely, cookie-like raspberry flavor in the aftertaste that has a cooling, aromatic quality.

If/when I try other raspberries I may revisit the rating but for now, this gets an excellent.

Flavors: Berries

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML

Seems it’s been the day for having electricians round. I had one too.


I saw that in your note so I thought I’d mention mine, too. ;-) We are finally getting around to finishing this lighting project we started two years ago. How are you enjoying your new house?


I lurve my house. :D Now that the electrician’s been, Husband could hang the last two lamps. Made a huge difference in the dining table area. The other one in my room has made a difference as well, even though my room is still in complete chaos and unpackedness, because we can’t really do anything with it until I get my new desk. I don’t know anything about where I want or need shelves of any kind until that happens. Husband has an Ikea ‘date’ with a friend of his who drives a significantly longer car than ours, so they’re going to go and get it for me on Sunday. (Delivery is possible, but costs an arm and a leg and has therefore been deemed a waste of money). So in a couple of weeks my room should be just about finished as well.


Excellent! Nothing like friends with significantly longer cars. LOL. By the way, I think I missed the establishment of your queue. I tried to backtrack through your log to find out what it is but I couldn’t seem to put my hands on anything other than notes that referenced it exists. What is it, exactly?


I tend to go through long periods where I only drink teas that I’ve posted about before and neglecting the box of untried things, mainly because I can’t be bothered to write about it. So I’ve taken to writing all my posts in a word doc and then space out the posting more regularly (I’m not really very good at the ‘regular’ bit) instead of having long periods of lurking. It’s 22 pages at the moment, which suggests I need to work on the whole regularity thing. I’ve made it a task three times a week in HabitRPG now. (HabitRPG = a game that makes chores fun! No really! If you do your dailies and tasks you get xp and gold. If you don’t do them you lose health. There are quests and collectibles as well, but I haven’t worked that out yet. I’ve only used it for a week or so)


Thanks for the explanation. Makes a lot of sense.

And ROF,L. Where can I find HabitRPG? Need.



I’ve even got Husband interested in it, although he hasn’t signed up yet. (Unfortunately I couldn’t be Angrboda there as the name was already taken)


Cool. I went over and made an account. I will have to think about what sort of habits I want to establish…


Strangely, when I signed up it wouldn’t let me be Angrboda, but this morning I found a way to change my display name and PLING! I have my preferred name. I don’t get the logic behind that at all, but I’m not complaining! :D

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Sipdown no. 68 for the year 2014. No, really this time.

Tomorrow I’ll move to the “regular” bergamot, my favorite of the three. I have some other Earl Greys I haven’t tried, too, so we’ll see if the pantheon expands.


so i can assume that the more bergamot the more that unique taste?


Generally, yes, though a lot has to do with how blends are put together.


oh, i see :)

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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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