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937 Tasting Notes

drank Dragonwell by Adagio Teas
937 tasting notes

I have to add myself to the list of this tea’s detractors. This is part of the Green Savant sampler.

It was my second Dragon Well, and very similar to the TeaFrog only with less sweetness, and more vegetalness, though this didn’t result in a tastier tea.

It has a similar buttery/milky and vegetal aroma and a light yellow/green liquor.

When I first heard about Dragon Well I thought it sounded like something I’d like quite a bit. After two tries, I’m not so sure. I do have some samples from other companies to try so I’m not ready to give up quite yet.

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

Sad day! I’m sorry you don’t love this one as much as I do. I even steep it to death (12-22 infusions). It’s really cool that everyone likes something different when it comes to tea… til you find one you don’t like.


Mostly I just think I’m not really into Dragon Well. Of the three I tasted today, this seemed to have the least amount of flavor but it could also be that my taster is a little off today. I’m feeling kind of blah. I am also open to the idea that this will grow on me, or if not this particular one some Dragon Well somewhere.


Tastes definitely change (which of course you’ll probably be disappointed at some point when something you now love you don’t anymore).

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Hey, look what I found! I thought I’d tried all my TeaFrog samples, but this was buried in the “green tea” box. I really do think this is the last one, though.

As with my other TeaFrog samples, I can’t get aroma other than the fruit of another blend that was packed with this bag, but the leaves are pretty; medium green, fairly long, flat and shiny.

The first time I tried this, I fear I did not use enough tea and may not have steeped long enough. I steeped for 1:30, which is what I usually do with greens unless they ask to be steeped for a shorter time. The flavor was pleasant but not very strong.

More leaf and longer does seem to be an improvement, though I’m still finding this a subtle one. I get a light yellow liquor, and an aroma that is buttery, almost milky, a little salty, with a vegetal echo.

The flavor isn’t particularly buttery or vegetal, though. I’m not really sure how to describe it, other than to say it is “green” tasting, which isn’t very helpful. There’s a slight toastiness, but it’s very slight. There’s an interesting dryness on the tongue after drinking that’s almost like the feel of the grab you get from putting certain dried, chip-like treats on your tongue and letting them sit there. After they get moist, they start to feel like they’re grabbing onto your tongue. That’s the feeling I’m getting here. I’m not getting nuttiness, at least not strongly. Maybe more like the aftertaste of pumpkin or sunflower seeds.

Even on the second try with more leaf and more time, I’m not finding this to have much depth in terms of flavor. I have had greens that were more flavorful. Perhaps I’m not a Dragon Well fan, but since this is really my first, I can’t conclude that just yet.

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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drank Golden Spring by Adagio Teas
937 tasting notes

After my disappointing Mariage Freres English Breakfast experience, I’m going to do one more black tea before trying to reestablish my interest in greens.

As I’ve committed to tasting my Adagio samplers without further ado, this is from the Adagio Black Savant sampler. (Which makes me feel like I should start rapidly adding numbers out loud or reciting the World Atlas or something. Surely they could have picked a better name?)

This is a very visually attractive tea, and in the sample tin its fragrance has a sort of fruity, or perhaps tobaccoey sweetness. There’s a breadiness, too. It’s a sort of toast with jam signal. And something along the chocolate vanilla continuum perhaps. In any case, it seems like there’s a fair amount going on here.

The same is true of the tea’s aroma. Sweet. Sort of reminds me of what I like about Yunnans. And yet, it’s not entirely sweet. The liquor is lighter than I’d expected but now that I think about it, with about half the leaves being a golden color it wasn’t really reasonable to expect a very dark liquor. It’s darker than darjeeling, say, but lighter than most black tea liquors.

Tasty! For some reason after reading the description, I’d expect this to be somewhat heavy. It’s not. It’s substantial without being weighty. And very, very smooth. Easy on the stomach, too (mine is a little annoyed with me after the Blue Knight Earl Grey and the Mariage Freres English Breakfast, but this is helping to make amends).

I get the “meaty” description, but I find the aftertaste mildly sweet, not really savory.

I’m glad I have more in the sample tin so I can taste this over time but on first impression this is a keeper!

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Wooo! I’m so glad somebody else is drinking this. I’ve been baffled for a long time about how this one seems to have slipped under everybody’s radar…it’s one of my favorites. I could live without buying any other Adagio tea for the rest of my life, probably, but this one is a must-have.


Hmmm…. I am now curious about this one….


I am backtracking to my Adagio samples which sort of got lost in the shuffle of all the teas I have been ordering, and I was pleasantly surprised by this one. So far it is the front runner of my Adagio experience along with the peppermint tisane which I like much better than the Upton.

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And now for something completely different. I’m about to find out how a venerable French tea house does English Breakfast. On the fourth of July, no less.

I can’t find anything to indicate what’s in this, but whatever it is, it looks like CTC. Like coarse coffee grounds. It has a kind of sweet, baked fragrance. Like pastry.

If I were to guess, I’d say Assam and Keemun. Keemun because in the aroma there’s a suggestion (a mere suggestion, really) of smoke. Assam because… well, it’s English Breakfast. And there’s a suggestion (a mere suggestion, really) of malty sweetness.

I made a mistake in tasting this after Earl Grey without much time between the two. At first I really couldn’t get much flavor at all. Now I’m getting some flavor, but the tea is verging on lukewarm. Must try again. Steeping 3:30 this time too, just in case that was part of the problem. BRB.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t find this very flavorful at all. Could it be a bad batch? It can’t be stale, I just opened the vacuum sealed tin which was well within its sell by date. Seriously, I’m reaching for something to describe this as. Even the mere suggestions of smoke and malt in the aroma aren’t coming through in the flavor for me. How terribly disappointing, as I generally quite like Mariage Freres.

Let me try a little milk, see if that changes things.

No. :-( It’s not undrinkable, it just doesn’t taste like much, unfortunately.


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Done and decupboarded, and free to frolic with Earls I like better. I did have an interesting experience where I accidentally brewed this in the Breville one morning before I was awake enough to realize I had some Luscious Lemon by Simpson and Vail still in the pot and further too unawake to remember to rinse out the pot first. This resulted in a very very lemony version of the Blue Knight, which was actually not bad. But I wouldn’t recommend trying it at home as it would require buying two products, neither of which blew me away and both of which I have been on something of a campaign to drink up.

I am really looking forward to reusing the little tin this came in, though. It’s tall and tubular and kinda cute. Currently soaking to remove labels and hopefully a good bit of the Earl Grey perfume, too. It made me think of how my Dad, who was a stamp collector, used to soak stamps off of envelopes. Sweet little memory, that.

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drank Silver Needle by Adagio Teas
937 tasting notes

A while back I bought a number of Adagio sampler sets and never got around to tasting most of them. I’d been reading a number of tasting notes on Adagio and it seemed like most folks on Steepster viewed them as a starter or gateway loose leaf, and I started with specialty tea bags and sort of vaulted over them to Upton samplers and beyond. Then every now and then there’ll be a note about someone really liking an Adagio tea. So I’m thinking, I probably owe it to myself to taste them. I may have unfairly categorized them in my mind. And it would be shameful to be unfair to tea, don’t you think?

So I’m going to make an effort to start tasting my Adagio samplers now, and so you’re likely to see a lot of Adagio notes coming up. I’m sure I’ll get distracted by other bright shiny teas along the way, however.

Since I just tasted the Harney & Sons Silver Needle, I thought the Adagio namesake would be a good place to start. Besides, it’s after 10 p.m. and I can’t exactly start with the black teas now.

I’m steeping according to the Adagio suggestion of 180 and 7 minutes in the Breville. This is very different from the H&S suggested time of 3 minutes, though the temp is close (they suggested 175 for theirs).

The needles look and smell similar to the Harney’s, however they seem to smell a bit stronger. This may simply be a matter of sample density, however, as I’m putting my nose into one of those little sample tins the color of elementary school walls. I get slightly more earth than air and water in this one, but all three alchemical elements are represented. There’s a bit of hay to the smell.

I’m relieved to see that the color of the steeped tea is very similar to what I got with the H&S even with a more precisely measured amount of tea. Very nearly clear, water-like. I don’t get a great deal of aroma from the tea. What I do get smells like a very dilute version of what the dry needles smell like.

Ok. I’m waiting, tea. Where is your flavor? The H&S seems to me to have a lot more flavor even with less tea steeped for less time. Am I crazy? Have my taste buds done gone kablooey after an epic run of tea tasting? (Trying to get to that 400th note, you know.)

Seriously, something is not computing here. I’m getting virtually nothing. Not artichoke, even, which I would not have minded as I love artichokes. The most I’m getting is a vague, dewy sweetness and a little grassiness. And maybe some of that graininess others have mentioned.

Ok, hold the phone. I’m halfway through the cup now and now, I’m getting flavor. Holy way to tease, batman. And you’re lucky I’m patient, you Silver Needle you.

Basically what I’m getting now is the H&S without the deliciously wonderful honeysuckle note. It has the same slightly vegetal downturn at the end of the sip that is mitigated by the sweetness. Though the vegetable in question here is not bok choy. It’s not artichoke either though. This must be a characteristic of Silver Needle?

I prefer the Harney, but this is ok. I think I have some more Silver Needle samples tucked away in the white tea box. Note to self: try some over the next couple of days.

180 °F / 82 °C 7 min, 0 sec

I really like like this comparison! I am looking for some good silver needle tea, and have been contemplating on trying H&S, but I was afraid the quality wouldn’t be as great as some other brands out there! Thank you for this post ;-)


Keep in mind I’ve only had two. :-) But in my book, the H&S was far superior to this one.


Yep, it seems that Adagio’s white teas require a 7 minute steep to bring out the flavors where as other companies only require 3 minutes at most. Perhaps lower quality tea leaves? I think that if I went back through my ratings, a lot of changes would be made.


Ok my taste buds are really messed up then. I swear I get a stronger flavor from a shorter temp. I do; however, measure my leaves by weight which most likely means I’m using more leaf. Maybe? lol. I like 160/1-3min

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Switching to white tea now, given the hour. Steeping this at the time and temp in the H&S tasting note.

Beautiful, long, feathery silvery/green needles. They look like they’d be soft to the touch. I’m using the entire sample packet. It measured out to about 1.5 cups worth of tea. The dry leaves have that earthy, watery, airy scent that white tea seems to have to me. Essentially all the alchemical elements except fire.

The liquor is… white? Clear? (Did I use too much water in the Breville? Or do it blame it on my clear glass tasting cup?) It has a very faint floral aroma. The sort of smell you admire on a friend who has used just the right amount of perfume. I think it must be the honeysuckle I’m smelling, as it doesn’t seem jasmine to me. In any case, it’s divine.

There is flavor here, but you have to be patient. It’s sort of the same reaction I had to the GM Snow Sprout. At first it’s like there’s nothing there, but then, all of a sudden, there is. There’s sweetness, of the sort that reminds me of the nectar that I used to suck out of the ends of shrimp plant flowers as a kid but not as strong. There’s a floral flavor note that carries the honeysuckle from the aroma into the mouth. And there’s a tail of a slight vegetal bitterness, not at all unpleasant, just the sort you’d find in the bok choy of the H&S description, but mediated quite successfully by the sweetness of the tea.

Not recommended for those who prefer strong flavors in teas. I generally prefer strong flavors but I’m always amazed by how an extremely subtle tea can also grab me and I can like it just as much as the deepest smoky tea. I guess that probably says something about my personality but I’m not gonna dwell on it.

I think I’ll resteep this instead.

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Steeping this at the time and temp shown in the Harney note.

I’m on a mission to try all my Harney samples so I can place an order for the ones that make the cut. This is the last black tea sample I have from my two orderings. I also have a white, and some greens including the green sampler set, and the oolong sampler set.

The problem so far is that most of them, except for the tisanes, are making the cut. Which means I’m likely to end up with more tea than one can possibly drink in a lifetime (and I already think I have more than that). Especially since I like two decafs and they seem only to come in teabags or 1 pound loose leaf. What’s up with that? Suggestion box entry: 4 oz tins of the loose decaf blacks please.

Anyway, black teas and oolongs are apparently my weaknesses, so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to put the breaks on after this one and the oolong sampler.

I enjoyed reading the description of this in the H&S note here on Steepster. Very interesting story. The dry leaves are quite pretty. Very delicate and spidery looking. I do get a cocoa note from the smell of the dry leaves, but mostly I get a fruity smell. Yeah, it could be apricot. I don’t think I’m being overly suggestible here.

The tea is a really gorgeous color. It is a sunset red/orange when seen through a glass cup. The tea’s aroma is very honeyed, very fruity.

It has a bite to it. It’s grabbing me in the back of the throat a bit, not a sensation I’m ever overly excited by. Which is odd, because it otherwise gives the impression of being quite smooth. It has a very “tea” flavor, by which I mean (and I know this is going to sound bad though I don’t at all mean it that way) it tastes like Nestea smells, that superconcentrated slightly sweet quintessential (for an American) black tea essence. Now that I think about it, there is something very apricotty about that smell, and that’s what I taste here. I’m not getting a ton of cocoa, but that could be because I got distracted playing a game with the kids and this was a little cooler than it perhaps should have been when I tasted it. I do get some in the aftertaste, which is very nice. I have enough in the sample packet to try again and drink it a bit hotter.

I’m torn on this one as I really dig the flavor, but I don’t dig the bite. Rating it on the low end of excellent for now and will see how the next steep plays out.

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

Go on facebook and make the suggestion to Harney and Sons. You might be surprised. I asked for Florence in an 7 ounce and got it. David Homa asked for a 50 count sachet bag of something and got it! Give it a try!


Cool, sounds like something to try! (Can everyone get Florence in 7 oz now? I only saw it in 4 and pounds.)


Hmm, I just ordered a 7 oz and it is supposed to be here Wednesday. It was on the site last time I checked. Maybe I was the only person who ordered it?

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Another sample that I’m hoping technically doesn’t break my moratorium against black/green tea blends. This one has oolong, but the only thing that’s listed in the ingredients that could conceivably refer to a green tea is “silver tips” and looking at the Harney site, I’m guessing this is a Ceylon white, not a green. At least the only tea they seem to have with the words “silver tips” in the name available on the site is a white tea.

One of the nice things about Steepster (among a litany of nice things) is that you can take a look at how others have steeped something that seems potentially mysterious in what it wants as its parameters. Since H&S steeped this at 205 for 4 minutes, that’s what I’m doing.

I’ve just had several Harney blends with Assam in them in a row, and in the sample packet, this one has a lot in common with the others in terms of fragrance. It’s got that underlying earthy, loamy smell to it. There’s a little sharpness that may be from the oolong, and something that adds a sort of fresh smell. I’m wondering if that’s the Silver Tips.

The tea’s aroma is an amazing swirl of different teas. It’s like that scene in the movie of the Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy watches out the window as various personages, animals and farm equipment fly by and (at least the people) wave. I feel like I’m waving at a malty sweet Yunnan (hi, how are ya?) and then a vaguely smoky Keemun (how’s it goin’?) and then a slightly woody, fruity Ceylon (dude, what up?), and then a fruity, toasty something that could be Oolong or could be Darjeeling or could be something else entirely (hello, hello, whoever you are!). I don’t think I’ve had Nilgiri before but I’m sure it’s flying by as well. (Thanks for stopping by!)

And delicious! I think it’s the Yunnan that gives this a fuller bodied feel than the other blends I’ve had today, Elyse and Palm Court, but rather than heading toward a stout breakfast type tea as something with this body could, it has a sort of an upswing toward a mid-range of flavor that is easy on the taste buds and the stomach. I think it’s the Oolong and Darjeeling that are mainly responsible for this uplift, but it could be the Silver Tips as well. I’m getting no bitterness, some astringency but just enough to make it interesting. The aftertaste has a little smoke, some sweetness, and a kind of bready/green note that is difficult to describe.

I’m really glad that H&S was able to pull off such an amazingly ambitious blend. In lesser hands this story could have had a sad ending. I am very pleasantly surprised at how much I like this one!

ETA: The lingering aftertaste is really lovely, both sweet and refreshing. Bumping up a couple of points for the wonderful reminder over time.

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

Now I am excited! I have a sample of this one waiting for me!


Just drank this. Mmmmm. My youngest daugher was the one who wanted it so badly, and she insists we must order a whole tin ASAP. We only have….how many tea tins?….oh, never mind! When has that mattered? :)

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drank Palm Court by Harney & Sons
937 tasting notes

On the one hand, how can I not drink something that is served at the Plaza? I spend a lot of my time homesick for New York, so anything that invokes NYC is going to call to me. On the other, I do have this thing about multiple kinds of tea in the same blend. I suppose I can make a distinction here though as there’s no green tea in this. Technically, the green/black moratorium doesn’t apply to black/oolong. I’ve had another black/oolong blend recently that worked fairly well, can’t now remember what it was.

The smell from the sample packet is Assam and Keemun. There’s a teensy smokiness, and a general impression of hearty earthiness.

The liquor on first glance appears to be heavily influenced by the Ceylon as it does have a twinge of red in the burnt orange, but it’s got more orange in it than I’d want in that sweater I’m looking for. The aroma is interesting. It gives the impression of being somewhat simple, but if I sit with it a while, that seems deceptive. There’s more complexity here than meets the initial sniff. I’m getting some smoke around the edges, some malty sweetness, and something sort of vaguely buttery that may be from the oolong. It’s generally smooth but there are little sharp peaks to it that make me think of the crests of waves.

It’s flavor is deceptive as well. Initially it seems fairly one-dimensional, but it’s a nice dimension. It’s somewhat astringent, and feels medium bodied to me. As I drink it more, though, I’m getting some stone fruit notes, some smoke, a tad of sweetness, and something that is almost biscuity.

I know I’m predisposed to liking this because of the name (I can be pretty gullible sometimes) but I do think it’s worth more than just a second look.

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

Just received this one myself….it’s almost as if you saw my wish list! I ordered this one and I think I got a sample of Elyse’s blend as well, though I need to double check that! I like this one pretty well – I agree with the seemed simple, grew complex impression. My youngest wanted this one after reading the description.


H&S has so many awesome looking teas, and I can’t resist dumping samples into my orders. I’m almost through all of my samples and then I have to suck it up to the enormity of the order I’m likely to place since I liked so many things from this last go around. And of course, more samples! What a cycle. Lol.

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I’ve updated this bio as it’s been a couple of years since I “started getting into” tea. It’s now more accurate to say that I was obsessed with tea for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it, and 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’ve recently started writing fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I much prefer to drink tea without additives such as milk and sugar. If a tea needs additives to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’m going to rate it high. The exception is chai, which I make on the stove top using a recipe I found here on Steepster. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs into the harder stuff, but once I learned how to make a decent cup of tea they became far less appealing to 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. I’m revising them slightly to make them less granular as I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas against other similar versions. So I rate Earl Greys, for example, against other Earl Greys, rather than against all teas. If something rates very high with me, though, it probably means it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is; will keep this stocked until the cows come home

90-94 First rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Excellent; likely to become a favorite, will likely buy more

70-79 Very good; would enjoy again, might buy again if in the mood for this particular one or a better, similar version not available

60-69 Good; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but probably wouldn’t buy again unless craving this particular flavor

50-59 Okay or run of the mill

Below 50 So-so, iffy, would definitely pass
or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.


Bay Area, California



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