1119 Tasting Notes


Another tea I bought way back when but never even got to open before life intervened. The BF was very interested in it this morning, so I opened up the packet.

Wow. The dry leaf smells just like the ice cream tastes-sweet and nutty and buttery, and a good bit of that smell carries over into the steeped tea. The flavor is really true to its name, too. In judging teas like this, I give lots of points for trueness to the name. But it’s clearly tea as well, with a black base that plays nicely. Every now and then it comes to the fore but just enough to wave hello.

What I like best about this is that before I tried it, I thought it would probably need to be sweetened or to have milk added to make the flavor taste like what’s in the ice cream. BUT NO! It’s lovely and sweet enough as is, sans any additional caloric content. (For me, anyway. The kids took a sip and said “needs sugar.”)

Of course, those who snooze lose in the 52 teas game, and this is no longer available. I will have to husband my supply.

Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

I wanna try this so badly it hurts!


Maybe we can petition Frank to bring it back!


Good idea!

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Sipdown no. 17 for 2014. First cup of the day. Getting a late start today because I stayed in bed, it being a holiday in the US, and watched the Tivo’d first episode of Sherlock, series III, and the little documentary afterwards.

All that stuff I said yesterday about the flavors having come unbalanced? Today this is working just fine for whatever reason. Isn’t it funny how tea does that? I suspect there’s actually a reason, which is that I used a bit more leaf today.

I’m sorry to see it go and I definitely want to get more, whenever the day comes. Meanwhile, I have lots more ATR samples to try.

The peanuts, by the way, each had a tiny sip and decided this wasn’t for them. Not really surprised, and secretly relieved given the label says caffeine content: high.


Sorry to be obtuse, but “sipdown” means that you finished it off and have removed it from your cupboard line up? Thanks for the clarification.


Sipdown in my case means there’s no longer any in the house-last of the sample, or the tin, or the box, or whatever container I have. Not all of what I have is in my Steepster cupboard, but if I take something out of the cupboard, I’ll mention that. ;-)


Mogana sipdown means the same to me. I don’t use the cupboard.

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drank Lemon Drop Cooler by 52teas
1119 tasting notes

Once upon a time, I was searching for the perfect lemon blend. It has been a while, and I don’t really recall how the things I tried on that search tasted. I’ve read back over my notes and I see that some were disappointing and some were quite good.

Apparently, I didn’t get around to trying this one and I wish I had.

I can’t now remember where this would rate among the others I’ve tried so I sort of have to start over, but damn, it’s a GREAT lemon, even given its age. The sad part is that I checked the 52 Teas site and it’s, of course, long gone.

In the package, the lemon smell is divine. Rich, sweet, tart, no bitterness, and the honeybush is definitely in the background.

After steeping, it’s a milder smell, but retains the character it had before steeping. The flavor is a really nice lemon. Not bitter, like some I’ve tasted, not too tart. Just when I thought it might take a tart turn, the sweetness would come back. And I am not even aware of the honeybush.

I can only imagine what this was like in its prime. I wish I’d gotten to taste it then and stocked up!

Boiling 7 min, 0 sec

This sounds like you wouldn’t even need any sweeteners – delicious.


No, I am drinking it straight up and it’s sweet enough as is!


I think the last time I had honeybush (Honey Bee by DT) I made the mistake of adding sweetener, and it was awfully, awfully sweet…
That reminds me, I need to remake that one sometime.


Sounds great! Ah! Lemon…i personally stopped buying lemon flavoured teas…dunno what I’m looking for exactly, maybe it’s unachievable, but I never seem to get it. Too bad, love anything and everything else lemon…

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drank Bamboo Shoots by TeaFrog
1119 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 16 for 2014. Another sample in the “to be drunk soon” box that I didn’t get to during my last tea tasting frenzy.

The dry leaf has so many interesting shapes and colors in it. ;-) The red peppercorns are really pretty. They look like miniature holly berries against the green of the tea. I can see little squares of what must be the papaya or the pineapple (probably papaya because of the color). And the little cardamom pods! The dry leaf has a mostly sweet scent to it with just a hint of spice.

The liquor is golden and smells very fruity. I get a lot of pineapple in the aroma.

I’ve had some bad experiences with flavored greens, but not so here! Very tasty and not at all bitter. Not as toasty-ricey as I expected, though there’s a hint around the edges, and I’m not getting the spice I thought I’d get with the pepper and cardamom (though there’s a peppery kick to the aftertaste that’s playing with the tip of my tongue). I get mostly pineapple, as a gentle fruity flavor. As I was sipping I wondered where the bamboo was, but I’m getting it, a long with the toasty rice, in the finish. I should perhaps have steeped this a bit longer. I also suspect that with teas like this with all the various ingredients a lot depends on the individual makeup of your sample. I’d drink it again, though I don’t love it enough to buy it.

And now I really must detach myself from the internet and go write something. Alas, I fear I will not be successful.

ETA: The fruity tea lover in the house, the BF, had one word for this.
“Aces.” I’m bumping the rating because he’s more of the target audience than I am. I’d give it a 75. He’d give it, I’m sure, at least a 90. So I’m putting it at 85. I also have to revise my prediction as to whether I would buy this, because he’s already asking if there’s more!

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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drank Ichiban Sencha by Harney & Sons
1119 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 15 for 2014. BTW, Steepster undid my likes, too, today. I think it was because I was doing them on my phone? Who knows. In any case, if I missed your note it wasn’t intentional.

Back to the original time and temp for steeping and it makes such a difference. That bitter edge I found last time? Gone! The hint of butter to the mild, green vegetal taste? Back in force!

Lovely. I shall miss it. Now I must try to go focus on writing as I have an exercise due tonight. Alas, I fear my cats need vacuuming.


i do have the same problem if i like on my iphone. i thought its only me


Let’s hope the app gets here soon.

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I had a sample of this that I’d planned to make over a couple of tastings, but it ended up as an unintentional sipdown. I was making 3 cups in the Breville and that left only enough for about one more cup so I figured what the heck. Adding it to the count of sipdowns for 2014. This is no. 14 for 2014.

It was in my “soon to be tasted” box of samples, which means it was not kept away from light as it should have been, particularly given the clear plastic bag it came in. I am not sure how that affected it. I didn’t get aroma from the dry leaf-I just smelled the sample bag’s plastic, so my guess is it had a negative effect.

The leaves, being FBOP, are small and brownish. Fairly uniform in size, shape and color and pretty to look at. The tea steeps to a pretty, orange-brown tea color. The leaves were a bit too fine for the Breville filter and some made their way into the tea and settled at the bottom of the cup.

There’s a subtle aroma that actually strikes me as a little fruity, rather more than flowery. In taste, it’s light and a little fruity. Not full bodied but pleasant, definitely a more appealing taste than what Americans have been raised to think of as “orange pekoe.” I’m glad I got the chance to try it though for plain blacks I find a richer flavor more to my liking.

I didn’t get to try it iced, but I think that could be its sweet spot.

ETA: Peanut number 2 asked to sniff this and then to taste it and proclaimed “I love it!” I added a bit of sweetener to mine and found it opened up the flavor quite a bit. I should also add that the mouthfeel on this one is nice. It has some thickness to it that I wouldn’t expect given the body of the tea.

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

Soooo, How many ways is there to the makings of accidental sipdowns, morgana???


Well, I’ve found two so far. Hehehe. ;-)

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I love the name passion fruit, but until recently I wasn’t sure I’d ever eaten one as opposed to just tasting it as an ingredient in juice. Then last summer, we vacationed in Costa Rica, and pretty much every breakfast buffet featured these little guys. Still, it’s not a flavor I grew up with so it isn’t strongly imprinted in my mind. In other words, I am not qualified to say whether a tea accurately captures the essence of passion fruit.

This morning, the BF, who seems to be getting into tea some as a result of the most recent bout of horrible winter illness, asked for something fruity. So I decided to break out my sample of this.

The aroma of the dry leaves from the packet is not as strong and juicy as was the apricot of yesterday, but it’s still very nice-fruity, with a freshness and cleanliness to it. And of course, there are flower petals so I’m happy with the look.

The liquor brews to a reddish amber, almost a mahogany color. I suspect this is the same base used in the apricot. There’s a light, fresh, fruitiness to the aroma.

The taste is very pleasantly fruity without tasting artificial. It fit the bill for the BF’s fruity request. He said, “I’m not sure I taste passion fruit, but I taste fruity and I like it.”

That about sums it up.

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec

Your boyfriend has the right attitude haha.

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I was going through my “already tried” sample box (as opposed to the not yet open sample boxes of which there are many) and was shocked-shocked I say-to find that I had a good bit of this sample left and that it was still in the original packet which was NOT SEALED. The ATR sample bags I got back in the day don’t have a zip lock at the top (have they changed that? if not, they should). Still, that’s no excuse. I could at least have stuck the packet into a zip lock myself, but I didn’t. Sigh.

So I decided I had to drink this asap. I really loved it when I first tried it fresh so I was hoping some of the magic was still there. The dry leaf didn’t have a lot of smell left, though, so I was prepared for the worst.

And the verdict is-this one is best drunk fresh. It’s not that it doesn’t have some decent flavor left in it. There’s a lot of lavender in the flavor and the undercurrent of the Yunnan reminds me of what I loved about it in the first place. But the interplay of flavors seems to have gone off some with age-the bergamot, which was light to begin with is all but gone, and the tea base isn’t quite keeping up with the floral. There’s enough that’s still good about it so that I understand why I loved it, though. Still plan to buy some when I come out of lockdown.


I must try this! Thanks for these notes!


I hope you like it! There’s a LOT of flavor in this one. :-)


the sample bags from ATR are still NOT resealable :)


Thanks Sil, good to know.


Approximately how many grams would you all say their samples are? 4 servings would I guess be like… 10-15 grams? If so, too bad they’re not resealable when a person would rarely be able to finish it in one day.


I haven’t weighed them but my guess is you’re right, it’s at least 10g. I steeped this in the Breville and got more than four servings using their measuring spoon. I’d say I get more like 6 servings out of each one.


swedish chef :) – you can get between 4-6 servings from their sample sizes if you don’t drink sil sized cups :)


Sweet, well it’s nice to know that they’re reasonably priced if you get that much then. Sil sized cups = too much serious business for this Swedish chef. :D

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Sipdown! There was only a little left after yesterday, too little to keep around. That makes sipdown no. 13 for the year 2014.

Yep, it’s a nice, light version of an Earl Grey crème and good at what it does. It deserves a place in my personal Earl Grey pantheon.

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drank Vanilla Rooibos Parfait by Tazo
1119 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 12 for the year 2014, and my 550th tasting note. :-)

This is a fitting blend for it, as it was really the first “tea” that I felt I’d been successful in steeping (i.e., it had flavor!) and was what led me to try everything else. At the time I had no idea that rooibos was so forgiving-so it was a huge (though misplaced) confidence boost.

I owe it much, so parting is bittersweet.


grats on 550!


Another milestone tonight, whoa! Congrats miss Morgana :-)


Thanks, Fairy!

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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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