1178 Tasting Notes


This was another sample I got a while ago along with the lovely kettle I won in the trivia contest giveaway. I remember thinking at the time that it was risky to give this out as a sample (the thought crossed my mind that there might be a message in there somewhere) but I was pretty thin at the time (now I have some pounds to lose).

In any case, this reminds me of the Divine Temple also from Georgia Tea Co. only darker, duskier, heftier (Weight Loss tea… seewhatIdidthere?) It, too, is a mix, this time of oolong and green, and it too has tropical fruits in it, this time mango and papaya, that come through in the flavor as a mixed tropical fruit flavor rather than identifiable separate flavors. It’s less busy than the Divine Temple, which I appreciate. I prefer it overall for its greater heft and simpler flavor profile, though I can see times when a white/green mix would hit the spot better than a green/oolong.

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML

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Wow, is this really my third oolong in three days? My BF took no. 2 to do some crafts and no. 1 is off at an event until 7:30 so I have some TIME to enjoy an oolong. Woo hoo!

Using the gaiwan (not very adeptly) for this, and starting with short steeps.

The dry leaves are shortish and varicolored, mostly a medium green with silver streaks. They have a champagne-y smell, but not as piquant as some oolongs, and there’s also a really interesting peachy smell.

The steeped aroma carries through that peachy note, which is very nice. Liquor color is a sort of dark beige.

There’s a toastiness to the flavor and a really remarkable peach note. I didn’t expect to taste it when I read in the in the description, but yes, it’s there. Not just a generic “stonefruit” either. Definitely peach, surrounded by toasty nuttiness and a little wood.

Steep 2. 45 seconds. More nuts, less peach, and something a tad bitter has crept in, a little like the tartness of champagne

Steep 3 1 minute More peach, less bitter, a little astringency and I discover it goes pretty nicely with a chocolate almond biscotti ;-)

Steep 4 1:15 minutes This steep seems a little meh? There is some woodiness, and some stonefruit but not the peachy note.

Steep 5 1:30 minutes Not much left to the leaves, it appears

The steeped leaves didn’t expand nearly as much as the Ali Shan leaves did. In fact, they looked rather forlorn in the gaiwan, like chopped up grass and pine needles. Not sure whether that’s just a feature of this tea or whether there was something wrong in my preparation, or perhaps the leaves were showing their age.

Still I got a nice couple of steeps out of this, enough to make me look forward to finishing up the sample (which will likely take a while….)

ETA: The reason to try this is the interesting peach note. If it wasn’t for that I’d rate it lower because I think it really ought to hold its flavor better through more short steeps.

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec

omg I read the note to say something like “my bf took no. 2 to do a crap” and I was like…???? gotta love screenreading technology!



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Sipdown no. 67 for the year 2014. Another teabag from the work stash; and another case in which this is a sipdown because of form factor only as I know I have more Den’s Genmaicha Extra Green somewhere.

I oversteeped this unintentionally. There’s no instructions on the packet so I had to go look up how I’d steeped this tea before in my Steepster notes. By the time I found it, the bag had been sitting in the water for almost 1.5 minutes, when I’d steeped before at 30 seconds!

Fortunately, my mistake doesn’t seem to have made this unbearably bitter or otherwise ruined it. The tea is a light yellow with a greenish tinge. There’s a light, toasty rice flavor over a smooth slightly vegetal green tea flavor.

I think that genmaicha is growing on me. I can see drinking it more frequently than I may have once thought I would. Rating this the same as the non-bagged version of the same tea.

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Sipdown no. 65 of the year 2014. A teabag from the work stash. This is only technically a sipdown because of form factor. I have more Den’s sencha, maybe even more samples—just not more in teabag form.

I love the way dry sencha smells. It reminds me of cut grass, only more food-like. This steeped to a light chartreuse color and the aroma is of warm cut grass with something reminiscent of melted, salted butter around the edges.

The flavor is light, mild and somewhat sweet, not at all bitter. And I wonder whether it’s the same tea in the organic sencha sample I tried a while back. In any case, in looking what I wrote about the organic sencha, I’m having the same thoughts about this. It’s very pleasant if what you want is a light straight green tea.

I wonder if it has suffered some because of its age, though it was in a sealed plastic packet because the taste isn’t quite as robust as I recall the organic sencha being. I’m rating it the same as I rated that, taking age into account.

1 min, 30 sec

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Commute tea of the morning, straight up. Not sitting so heavily today. Still more chocolate than peanut butter in the flavor and today the peanut butter isn’t coming through as much even as the tea cools some.

It’s one of those like but not love things. It’ll likely be my “commuting” tea until it’s sipped down.

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Today it’s less metallic and minerally, which seems to support the theory that that flavor is related to something, perhaps the bergamot oil, not being exposed to air and that the more air it gets, the less those notes are present.

I think I’m in sipdown range for tomorrow. Now that I think about it, it’s pretty amusing that I found another packet of this on Ground Hog’s Day. This time when I sipdown, it should stay sipped down. ;-)

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drank Lemon Youkou by Teavana
1178 tasting notes

I haven’t had this in a very long time. In fact, I thought I’d used all of what I had. This leads me to believe that I acquired more of it, perhaps through the Teavana classic tea of the month club of which I was a member for a year.

I recall finding this a bit too tart/sour for me without sweetening before. I’m steeping a bit longer, 7 minutes, using the Breville herbal setting and I also double and a halfed up the normal amount of blend I’d put in this as one of my previous notes indicated more made for a sweeter blend.

And the verdict is: definitely the way to go with this one. More is much, much better, both in steeping time and in amount of fruit mixture used. I didn’t sweeten this and it isn’t too tart for me to drink, though the Strawberry Lemonade is much sweeter. This, though, is more of a straight lemon.

I have to say, though, that it’s not a very cost effective choice since the pieces are so huge and you have to use so much of it to get a sweet-tart flavor rather than just a tart one. I concluded before this wasn’t a restock and now I’m not so sure—except Teavana apparently made the choice for me and discontinued this in 2012.

Will try it on the kids just for laughs.

Boiling 7 min, 0 sec

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drank Nocturnal Bliss by Samovar
1178 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 64 of the year 2014. A sample of yet another no-longer-offered Samovar tisane.

I think I bought this one because of the name. I wouldn’t have bought it because of the ingredients as a main one is lemon myrtle, which for a while during my search for the perfect lemon tisane almost ruined lemon flavor for me. The lemon myrtle and some sweetness which may be the stevia is the main smell of the dry leaf and the steeped aroma is also heavy on the myrtle.

So go on, Samovar. Do your magic and make something amazing out of lemon myrtle! The thing that, standing alone, got one of the lowest scores I’ve ever awarded on Steepster for tartness, soapiness and all manner of unpleasantness…

And it’s pretty darn close, but it’s a lesson to me that lemon myrtle and I will likely never get along. If Samovar can’t do it for me, it’s unlikely anyone can. This isn’t tart, and it doesn’t cross over to soapy, but it has a savory quality that makes it a bit lemon brothy with too much of a bitter edge and aftertaste for my palate.

I have to give it points for making lemon myrtle at least tolerable to me, but alas, this is one I would not have reordered had it still been available (which it appears not to be on the Samovar web site). Perhaps a first in my Samovar experience, but somehow heartening as it proves that those behind their blends aren’t infallible.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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drank Green Chai by Adagio Teas
1178 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 63 of the year 2014. And tasting note no. 650!

I am fast approaching no. 666 and I’m starting to get a little scared…

Not sure what to do about this one. It’s tasty, but like the Vanilla Rooibos version I’m not really sure when I’d drink it if I wasn’t working my way through samples. I suppose I’ll just punt like I did with the Vanilla Rooibos, stick it on the shopping list, and decide later. At the rate I’m going by the time I have to decide I may have entirely different tastes…


Ha ha what are you going to pick for your 666?


I’m trying to think about whether I have any with devilish names, but I don’t think I do. Maybe something with a lot of pepper?


If you can wait, I can send you some Napalm Ferret. I think that would have the proper oomph for a 666th tasting note.


LOL! That’s so sweet, but I expect I’ll roll past 666 before it could get here. Right now I’m thinking maybe Mayan Chocolate Chai. That might be the spiciest tea I currently own.


OOOh. I just had an idea. ;-)


Wondering what it will be….. ;-)


I’ll let you know about 14 notes from now. ;-)


haha! I’ll be watching for it!


Ten more to go. ;-)

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Sipdown no. 62 for the year 2014. The BF thinks I need to start drinking up tins that take up space rather than little sample packets. But I’m on such a roll sipping down the samples! He’s right though. I am going to adopt a strategy of making my commuting to work tea something from a tin I have a fair amount of and like but don’t love.

I was considering whether this deserves a ratings bump. It’s quite tasty. I think I’m going to stick with where it is, though and here’s why: it has so much going on it’s a little too busy to enable me to really appreciate all of what went into it. It’s definitely an ensemble cast of a tea, and there’s nothing wrong with that in a blend—in fact, one might argue that that’s the way a blend should be with no one flavor taking front and center. But as a matter of personal preference I tend to prefer teas that have stars and supporting roles that I can identify. My impression tonight is: tasty fruit (undifferentiated) tea (undifferentiated).

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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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