1179 Tasting Notes


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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Sipdown no. 61 of the year 2014. A sample. I am now sure that the Gold Thread of last weekend was a Red Blossom Tea as it used the same sample packaging as this.

I was reminded yesterday while drinking the Golden Moon Imperial Formosa how much I love oolong. I have a bit of time between getting home from work and the kids and BF arriving home from kung fu to sit with an oolong.

The dry leaves are medium green and rolled into balls and oblongs of various sizes, some rather large. The have the characteristic winey smell of dry oolong.

Steeping opens the aroma out into a floral, somewhat buttery fragrance with some green notes. Liquor on first steep is a clear, golden yellow.

I went a bit longer than I’d planned on the first steep because of a phone call, about 6 minutes. This is delicious. The company describes this as a “green Formosa oolong” and it has a green-oolong buttery creamy floral thing going on but at the same time there is a fruity almost toasty quality. The description says tropical fruit—pineapple. Yes, I totally get a pineapple-like note. At first I thought it wasn’t sweet, but as it sits on my tongue it becomes moreso.

Second steep. I’ll go for 4:30 this time since that’s what I meant to hit the first time.
The leaves have unfurled from small balls at the bottom of the Finum filter to long, green, somewhat twiggy vegetation that fills the entire filter. Liquor is lighter yellow. Lovely floral notes. The pineapple is still there! A fresher, almost a tad astringent mouthfeel but with a contrasting butter/cream note still present in the tea. Sweet, somewhat toasty aftertaste.

Third steep. 4 minutes. I wish I had more of this so I could try short steeps in the gaiwan and see how they compare. It is possible I overleafed now that I read about this on the Red Blossom web site about the 2013 harvest. But that’s okay because I’m liking what I taste here. I wonder whether and how it would have been different if I’d drunk it earlier rather than saving it? I also think I should have pulled farther back on time for the subsequent steeps, because I’d pretty much drained the flavor from the leaves by steep 3. All the previous notes were still present, just less so.

I really enjoyed this. It’s clear I need to work on my oolong preparation skills, which if they were ever good aren’t any longer. But even given my rather bumbling western steeping of this it was just delicious. I’d recommend this except that it’s no longer offered. The 2013 version might be worth a look, though.


195 °F / 90 °C

Wow, sounds wonderful!


I do love oolongs. Oh to have more time to sit with tea. :-)

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drank Starry Night by Liber Teas
1179 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 60 for the year 2014. Hey, look what I found in my work stash! A little bag of this! I must have got it as a sample when I ordered from LiberTEAS way back when. A nice little surprise to find it again.

Of course, it is ancient. I can’t believe I didn’t drink it when I first got it. I meant to.

I smelled mostly peach in the little bag, and I also taste mostly peach after steeping. I’m also getting the sort of woodsy green rooibos flavor and a bit of tartness that I think must be the orange peel.

It’s a nice, light fruit flavor without too much rooibosiness. I think the fact that it’s green rooibos probably accounts for how well the light flavor comes through without any dustiness or hamster cage that I sometimes get from red rooibos.

I can only imagine how nice this would have been if I’d had it when I first bought it. Rating based on an extrapolation of how it tastes now (nice despite its age) to what it likely would have tasted like if it was still fresh.

Flavors: Orange Zest, Peach, Wood

Boiling 8 min or more

«Rating based on an extrapolation of how it tastes now…»
That’s really thoughtful, it really shows your love for tea! I have to remember that when I come across the “ancients” in my cupboard, lol!


Yeah, I was going to give it a 78 but then I thought, you know, it isn’t really fair because I know this would taste better if it was fresh. The little bag it was in, for example, had a bit of an old paper scent, which I had to factor out of the aroma and (I figured) the taste as well.

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drank Gyokuro Bags by Maeda-en
1179 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 59 for the year 2014. A teabag from the work stash. (Gyokuro in a teabag? Whoa.)

There are two other entries for Maeda-en Gyokuro teabags in the Steepster database, but one is for “premium” and one is for “supreme.” Mine was simply called “Green Tea Tea Bag” so I created a new entry for it.

I attempted to get my water from the spigot at work down to something approaching 140 degrees by letting it sit after dispensing for five minutes.

The teabag smells terrific, sort of like buttery spinach, and after steeping it smells even more like that. The liquor is a very light chartreuse color. The tea’s aroma is very subtle chlorophylly smell.

The tea has a very light flavor, not as deep and vegetable-like as the few other gyokuros I’ve tasted, but still mellow and not bitter. It has a touch of butter, but not a lot, but it’s also not grassy. It has a nice umami aspect, that is present but not thick. I suppose it does suggest seaweed, though as I mostly eat seaweed in connection with sushi, I don’t usually focus on the taste. To me, it’s suggestive of spinach.

I have to wonder whether there would have been more to this under better steeping conditions. It was pleasant, but lacked the fullness of the other gyokuro’s I have tried.

Flavors: Butter, Seaweed

2 min, 0 sec

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I wanted to try this one again before I completely forgot my last experience with it to see whether it grew on me or the reverse.

This time I saw quite a few chips and nibs in the mix, at least two peanut butter ones, two chocolate ones and some cocoa nibs over 3 teaspoons worth of tea.

I did not add milk this time. After a few sips, I poured this into my tumbler to take with me on the commute to work.

I noticed mostly chocolate this time. The peanut butter didn’t come out very much until the tea started to cool, and even then it wasn’t as strong as the chocolate. However, I’m not sure I want it to be much stronger. The chocolate note was tasty and sat well with me, but as the peanut butter started to creep in more I started to feel a heaviness in the way this sat in my stomach. I’d had breakfast, but it had been a couple of hours, and I wonder whether having food in my stomach would have made a difference.

Not really growing on me, but not getting much worse either.

ETA: I just dumped the leaves out of the Breville filter basket and found that the peanut butter and chocolate chips did not melt during steeping. This strikes me as a less than optimal result. I am not sure whether there’s something I can do to encourage them to melt other than steeping longer, which worries me.

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Uh-oh. I thought I’d sipped this down. [Twilight Zone Music]

I was going through my tea to see what Earl Greys I hadn’t tried or otherwise had left and I found another sample packet of this. I must have gotten one with the Earl Grey sampler and another with another sampler, perhaps something like breakfast blends?

I’m going to count it as two separate sipdowns anyway since there are two containers. I’m enjoying this this morning. There was more of the mineral note than yesterday. I suspect it is a function of the bergamot oil somehow and that as the oil is more exposed to air and loses volatility the mineral note also gets weaker.

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Sipdown no. 58 for the year 2014. Sipping on this as I listen to a podcast of a lecture for my writing class. Trying to think of what to write about for my exercise due at midnight tonight. Pressure’s on!

I’m still conflicted about this one. On the one hand, it is one of the less offensive rooibos blends I’ve had. On the other hand, I wonder how much I’d drink it if I wasn’t going for the sipdown, given its spiciness and my propensity to drink rooibos, if at all, at night because of the lack of caffeine content. Would I reach for this instead of, say, something mint or something fruity? I don’t really know, but I like it enough that I’m adding it to the shopping list for further consideration if/when I ever come out of lockdown and place another Adagio order.

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Sipdown no. 57 for the year 2014 and also the end of revisiting the handful of Golden Moon samples I couldn’t decide about the first time through.

I will say that although this sample was tiny (about 1.5g) it was very aromatic in the sample packet. Having spent some time away from oolongs, I was really liking what I smelled. A lot of chestnuts and cedar, and yes, I could smell the dates and the orange blossoms, too. Sometimes being away can really refresh your senses. I rinsed the leaves and went for a first steep.

The aroma is very toasty and I definitely get chestnuts this time (I steeped longer-4 minutes for the first steep). There’s a sweet fruitiness that I’m ready to call dates. Both the chestnut and the date come through in the flavor, and around the edges and in the finish, I understand the claim to cedar. There’s also something like stonefruit.

The flavor is not as deep and round as I expected. I recall some other dark oolongs I’ve tasted as having that quality. But I think it’s better than I judged it to be the first time around when I had tea fatigue.

Second steep. I went longer this time 5 minutes. More chestnut, and a mellower, sweeter fruity taste.

Third steep. 5:30. It continues to mellow and get a little rounder in flavor.

The wet leaves have a smell I’d describe as green coffee beans.

My main issue right now is that I have a lot of oolong in my stash, more than any sane person should have, really. And because it is the sort of thing that I like to take my time with, steep multiple times, savor, etc. it tends to get drunk less than blacks, greens, whites and herbals. (The only thing that gets drunk less is pu-erh and that’s basically for the same reason.) I need to drink some of my other oolongs and see how they stack up.

I’m going to go ahead and put this on the shopping list. It’s a safe decision, both because I’m on lockdown and because even if I wasn’t, I have too much oolong and too much other Golden Moon tea to justify ordering more of this any time soon. (Don’t you love this public self-talk thing? LOL)

Bumping the rating a tad because I liked how the taste and the description on the label matched up.
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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I am fairly sure I got this sample as part of a give away a few years ago here on Steepster in which I was the lucky recipient of a beautiful cast iron teapot from Georgia Tea Co. If memory serves there was a trivia contest involved and my lightning fast typing skilz served me much better than my actual tea knowledge, but in any case I knew enough to win. ;-) I believe this sample was one of a couple that accompanied my contest winnings.

I am wondering how it is that I haven’t tried it until now. The ingredients list alone is amazing. It’s like the Long Island Iced Tea of non-alcoholic beverages, the Heinz 57 of tea, insert your favorite metaphor here for a cornucopia of ingredients both tea and fruit. Whoa.

I’ve steeped mixed black and green teas before, but I don’t think I’ve steeped a mixed white and green. The suggested steeping time scared me a little—I worried that the green would go bitter. But fortunately, it didn’t!

The dry leaf has a light fruity smell, a little berry, a little grape, a little tropical. The steeped tea smells mostly like pineapple to me. It’s a light yellow color.

The taste is sweet, fruity, nectary. I expected the pineapple to predominate in the flavor because of the aroma, but it doesn’t. I can taste it, but I also get a softer flavor, likely the mango and papaya. I don’t really taste the other fruits as separate flavors, but they all combine into a nice, light fruit flavor that isn’t in the least cloying, bitter or anything else fruity whites and greens can sometimes be.

I noticed there’s jasmine in here from the ingredients list, and it’s a pretty strong flavor. I’d expect to smell or taste it taking over, but it doesn’t. In fact, I’m not really noticing it. If I didn’t know it was in here, I wouldn’t know it was in here if you know what I mean.

A really nicely balanced fruit flavor, with just a hint of tea peeking through in the aftertaste as a nutty roastiness.

180 °F / 82 °C 5 min, 0 sec 7 g 25 OZ / 750 ML

What a wonderful, informative note! I wish I could write mine like this… I think I am WAY too lazy :|


I think it is far more likely that I’m just long-winded. ;-) But I’m glad you found it informative!

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Sipdown no. 56 for the year 2014. A sample; another in the “not sure, try again” category after my massive Golden Moon order.

Trying this side by side with the Vanilla Mint to see how different they are. I will say that the Vanilla Mint has much more of the Andes/Girl Scout thin mint thing going on than this does. This is much more of a pure mint smell in the sample packet.

The steeped aroma is a delicate mint, and the flavor is pretty much as described in my original note. There’s a definite difference between this and the Vanilla Mint. This has a fresher, cleaner taste from the green tea base, with a rather buttery green flavor underneath. The Vanilla Mint is creamier and heartier from the black tea and vanilla.

I like this quite a bit. If I didn’t already have other green mints in my collection, I’d probably add this to the shopping list.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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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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