1178 Tasting Notes

drank Anhui Keemun by Adagio Teas
1178 tasting notes

Since we’re all about changes to Steepster the last day or so, I really wish there was a way for me to sort my Tealog by tea type. So that I could, for example, key in “Keemun” and get everything containing Keemun I’ve logged so I can compare how I rated them, rather than having to remember which ones I’ve had, what they were called, etc. Please please please put this at the top of the list for new changes, O Steepster gods. As my log gets longer and longer it gets harder and harder to sort through stuff and it would be great not to have to read each blend’s description to know whether it includes Keemun.

I know I’ve had Keemuns before in blends, but the only thing I can find in my log that is called “Keemun” is another Adagio, the Keemun Rhapsody, and a Life In Teacup Keemun Black Tea Grade II. It has been a while but judging by my ratings, I liked both. This one appears to be a crowd favorite so I was psyched to try it as my last black tea of the day.

The dry leaves are quite pretty, very small and delicate looking. They remind me of seeds. Dark green and tippy. They smell like smoke to me on first sniff, but as I sit with the smell I get a definite cocoa note and a bit of leather underneath the smoke.

Steeped, the aroma is not very smoky and richer, with a baked bread quality at the surface and saddles underneath. The liquor is lighter than I expected, a sort of chestnut color.

What is fascinating to me about this tea is that on first sip, I’m not seeing what the fuss is about. But as I follow the flavor from the sip through to the aftertaste, the complexity of this becomes apparent. It reminds me of how a really nice wine becomes even nicer as it breathes.

The beginning is mellow leather, the midsip is sweet, smoky bread, and the finish is buttery sweet wood with a tiny dash of salt and spice. The mouthfeel is soft, and thick without being too clingy. The aftertaste goes on and on. A bit of smoke, a bit of sweetness that isn’t quite cocoa but could be and isn’t quite malt but could be.

This deserves some attention to see whether I’ve steeped it as well as it can be steeped. I suspect there is even more to this that I’m not yet getting. I’m more in the Angrboda camp on this one than the Inguna and Auggy camp at this point. It’s lovely, but to me it isn’t perfect. Of course I’m entirely willing to attribute that to user error.

ETA: The wet leaves have a sort of spicy, salty smell that reminds me of olives!

Flavors: Baked Bread, Cocoa, Leather, Wood

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

I love your description! It’s making me want some, and I’m not usually a big fan on Keemun.


If you get a chance to try this one, you should. It really is something special.

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drank Peach Oo-la-long by Honest Tea
1178 tasting notes

Had some of this at Whole Foods where we stopped to get lunch today. I have a soft spot for anything having to do with Berke Breathed because he used to do the comic for my college newspaper before he did Bloom County, and the label gets a lot of mileage out of his being among the company’s first customers. There’s a picture of Opus the penguin on the front.

It’s decent for a bottled tea. I don’t taste a lot of oolong flavor, but I do taste the peach. It has some sugar in it making a bottle 60 calories, which I could do without. One of the reasons I drink tea is because it has no calories.

Flavors: Peach

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It’s raining here after months of drought, and it makes me want to curl up with a book and do nothing but drink tea all day. We’ll see how that plan goes.

This is another of the 52 Teas flavors I bought a while back and am just now getting around to trying.

There are big honking chocolate and peanut butter chips in the blend which is exciting. The dry leaf has a rich, cocoa smell.

The steeped tea has an aroma that has hints of chocolate and nuttiness, and also a slightly woodsy note. It’s a pretty, cherry wood hue in the cup. With a splash of milk added, the peanut butter nature of the nutty flavor becomes more focused.

The flavor really is peanut butter and chocolate, but it’s subtler than some of the other 52 Teas blends I’ve tried. This could have something to do with the age of the tea, or maybe not (it was sealed in the original packaging before I opened it this morning).

I don’t usually add milk to tea, but I tried it with this one and it brought out more of the peanut butter, whereas without milk I tasted primarily chocolate. I suspect how much of each one tastes in each cup might depend on whether you got a chip or two in your cup, and what the balance of the peanut butter to the chocolate ones is.

52 Teas blends are really good guinea pigs for the new “flavors” feature on Steepster. I went to add flavors just now and guess what? No peanut, no peanut butter. Just nuts (and peanuts, as we know, are really legumes-no legumes either). I’ve suggested they add them.

Anyway, not a favorite with me, though I’ll happily drink the rest.

Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa, Nuts

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

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drank Caramel by American Tea Room
1178 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 54 for the year 2014. It wasn’t an intentional sipdown. I’d intended to have a couple more tastings of this, but the BF really wanted tea because his throat is bothering him so I made a big pot. This time, I shook up the sample packet (not that it probably matters since this is the end of it). I also tried steeping at my usual 4 minutes for black tea today, but determined that this really does require five minutes to bring out full flavor, so after taking a sip I put it back in to steep for another minute.

Pretty much everything I said yesterday held true for my tasting of this today. There’s definitely a sweet, milky caramel-y flavor. The tea base doesn’t come through much for me underneath the sweetness. It’s a good tea and pleasant enough to drink, it’s just not among my favorites either as a black caramel blend or as an American Tea Room flavored tea.

Flavors: Caramel

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Sipdown no. 53 for the year 2014. Dismissing the lesser nobility from the cupboard this morning.

In sum: prefer it to the triple, like the single slightly better, it’s a solid Earl Grey and a good alternative in case one in the pantheon becomes unavailable or otherwise falls from grace.

Flavors: Flowers, Malt, Metallic, Mineral

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

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drank Green Chai by Adagio Teas
1178 tasting notes

I have to confess: I am logging this mostly to play with the new interface. Wow. More granularity, just what I need to feed my OCD tendencies. ;-) I really have nothing to say about this tea that I haven’t already said other than that I drank it as I introduced No. 2 to Star Trek via the initial Star Trek movie on Netflix while No. 1 was on a play date. Then he wanted to watch the series, starting with the pilot.

This is how geeks are born.

I am probably going make myself something decaffeinated and head to bed to read or watch TV. It was a rough work week and we just got back from dinner to celebrate the BF’s birthday. I had a glass of wine that made me sleepy.

Night all. Sleep tight.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML

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Sipdown no. 52 of the year 2014. A sample; another of the Golden Moon teas that I couldn’t quite make up my mind about after the initial taste-through of the 31 tea sampler. I notice that Adham rated this very highly so I’m using his time and temp to steep instead of my original. 195 for 3:30.

I am probably very over-caffeinated at this point because I’ve been drinking black tea all morning, so I’m using this as a transition out of blacks (it has both black and green tea in it) for the day, but I wonder whether I’m so wired that something has gone wack-o with my smeller.

Sniffing the packet, my first thought was “lime sherbet?” My second was “bubblegum?” Which made me stop to think whether one of the flavors I taste in the flavor known as bubblegum is vanilla, because it certainly isn’t jasmine. But I think vanilla is part of that flavor? This wasn’t what I described smelling the first time around. The longer I sniff, the more I can differentiate the jasmine and the vanilla, of course. But a lot of other associations come along as well. Grape soda?

After steeping I get much more jasmine in the aroma than vanilla this time, though the associations continue. I mentioned crème soda last time, and I can see that, though I also get an impression of flavored fruit soda smell.

I am getting both vanilla and jasmine in the taste, more jasmine than vanilla like last time. The flavor is…. interesting. I like jasmine and I like vanilla, but together they don’t work together as well for me as they do separately. The aftertaste also leaves me with something of a Pepto Bismal association this time. Between that and the back of the throat grab from this mix that I mentioned the first time and that is happening on the second try as well, this is a pass for me. I’m bumping it down because I enjoyed it rather less than most things I’ve tasted in the past couple of weeks. Which is unfortunate because Golden Moon has so many other teas that I love to pieces.


i should try it sometime :D

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Sipdown no. 51 of the year 2014. Ahhh, this is making me miss Rabs, the person who kindly sent me some of this.

I don’t have a lot to add to my previous note, except to say that there is some nuttiness in the flavor, particularly in the aftertaste, and that it reminds me a little of water chestnuts more than of true nuts.

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Sipdown no. 50 for the year 2014. I wanted something special for the 50-mark, and I don’t believe I’ve written any notes on Red Blossom teas before.

I should mention that I can’t be absolutely certain that this note is about this tea. The sample is in a silver packet, and it says “Gold Thread” on it, with some characters on the next line, and then the words “Black Tea.” But there is no company name. I did order from Red Blossom, though, and theirs are the only teas named Gold Thread in the Steepster database. A cursory Google search brings up only the Red Blossom products in the first couple of pages. So I’m 99% sure this is theirs.

When I poured the leaves from the sample packet, I could already tell I was likely to enjoy this. The twisty, golden leaves are lovely and the smell of the dry leaf is that malty Yunnan smell I love so much.

I checked the Red Blossom web site and used their steeping suggestions for time and temp, albeit for the Gold Thread Reserve. This was a bit of a challenge because the sample is only enough for 1.5 cups and the Breville makes a minimum of 2. I used less water than the minimum but the measurement wasn’t overly precise.

This yielded a peachy yellow liquor, very light in color. The aroma is tantalizingly malty. I am wondering whether I should have steeped this longer just because I’m used to longer steeping for black teas. I’m getting an interesting, sort of salty marine note with an undercurrent of malt. I am not tasting the orange or yam notes in the description, but there’s a really pleasant mouth feel-soft and silky, and the brown sugar comes out some as the tea cools.

I steeped it again at a full four minutes just for contrast. And yes, this is more like what I expected. A darker liquor, reddish-orange, and a deeper flavor. Here is where I start to get something like yam, a hint of starchy vegetable. And if I cross my eyes and squint, I can almost get to orange. In any case, I taste what I think is what they mean by orange. A medium note on the front end the ends as a high note on the back end.

The wet leaves have a fascinating, spicy aroma-I’m reminded of caraway seeds and pepper. Mine don’t look as blond as the picture, they’re more of a light olive green (no. 2 says “brown”), but long and pretty.

I wish I’d gone with a longer steep the first time as now I’ll never know what that would have been like. Red Blossom does not have this listed on their web site at present, though they have the reserve version. I’ll stick it on the shopping list just in case it ever comes back. I’d love to experiment with this one some more.

ETA: No. 2 says, “I love it. I think it’s better than the flavored ones.” (He tried the American Tea Room Caramel this morning, too.)

Also, after comparing the sample packaging of other samples to the database here, I’m now sure this is from Red Blossom.

200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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drank Caramel by American Tea Room
1178 tasting notes

Against my better judgment, I am steeping according to the directions on the sample packet. Five minutes. I suspect in subsequent tastings I’ll back down to four.

I like the addition of the little caramel bits to the mix. Gives it some visual interest. As I’m reading about this tea in the description here on Steepster, I realize I’ve already had a preparation fail. I did not shake the packet to assure consistent flavor across infusions. I suppose that may mean I’ll be writing an entirely different note in the days to come…

There’s definitely a caramel aroma coming from the dry leaves in the packet. Not so much after steeping, though. I mostly smell a sweet “tea” smell. The liquor does have a bit of cloud to it. I didn’t quite get garnet in color, more like a chestnut.

I’ve had other caramel teas and I tend to like caramel flavored teas as a category in general-even in teas such as oolong. I haven’t had another recently to compare this to, but it has an interesting quality that I’m not sure I’ve experienced in other caramels. There’s sort of a milky flavor to the caramel, like milk chocolate, only milk caramel if that makes sense. I get little pops of caramel flavor from time to time which must be from the little caramel bits saturating their immediate vicinity in the tea with their flavor.

I agree with others that this is a rather gentle caramel as they go. It doesn’t have that roasty carmelized sugar flavor that I expect in a caramel flavored tea; it’s more of a plain white sugar sweetness with flashes of caramel intensity from the caramel bits. It has a nice, sweet aftertaste with a hint of caramel to it.

I have to try it after shaking the packet though, before I reach any firm conclusions. Not rating for now.

200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec

i LOVE caramel flavor in tea!! this sounds amazing… even if it’s a gentle caramel, that still sounds exciting lol…granted, something packed with caramel punch would also be welcome by me, i’m such a gourmand tea lover! u are single-handedly responsible for me putting this on my shopping list.

also: preparation fail…lol


Two caramels I really love are the Kusmi and the Dammann Freres caramel toffee.

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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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