1120 Tasting Notes

drank Vanilla Rooibos Parfait by Tazo
1120 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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drank Ali Shan by Adagio Teas
1120 tasting notes

Accidental sipdown! (Sipdown no. 11 of the year 2014.)

When I last drank this, I had decided to make it in a pot the next time so I could get a full cup out of it. As I was pouring the leaves into my little pot (to fill it up to about a third, as I’ve read is what oolongs like), I suddenly ran out of pour. I.e., I had to pour all that was left of the sample into the pot to fill it to about a third, resulting in an accidental sipdown! I think I may have used a bit too much leaf, but it’s too late to change it now. ;-)

This time I also steeped significantly longer for the first steep, 2 minutes, because it’s more par for the course when going western style. Not an improvement, though. With shorter steeps, this had a really lovely roasty-buttery flavor. With the longer one it seems a little overcooked, lacking flavor in the middle of the sip with a bitter edge in the aftertaste.

I went much shorter for the second steep, about 45 seconds. Much better. The floral notes came out on this steep, particularly in the aroma. The bitterness I got on the first steep all but disappeared, and the aftertaste was pleasantly sweet. But somehow it still wasn’t as lovely as I recall it being the first time I sampled this. It could be that I’ve tea’d myself out for the day. I don’t blame the tea as I recall my first experience with it fondly.

Third steep, somewhere between 30 and 45 seconds. Much milder, and closer to my original memory of it and enough to give me my oolong fix. It could possibly go for additional steeps, but I’m good with three.

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec

First time I’ve ever heard of an accidental sipdown lol! You know you have too much tea when…the only way to get a sippdown is to make accidents happen…


Too true, too true. ;-)



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drank Snowbud by Adagio Teas
1120 tasting notes

Hoookay. This is the 400th tea I’ve written a note about!

Four years ago I wouldn’t have thought there were that many tea options in the world. Now I know I’ve merely scratched the surface. It’s a humbling experience.

This is another in the Adagio white sampler. Pretty sure I tasted the Silver Needle a while ago and thought I’d drunk it all because I misplaced the tin (I’ve now found it). And there was a jasmine silver needle as well-but I now can’t locate that one, which is a shame because it seems to be the one everyone on Steepster likes most of this group. I hope it will turn up. The perils of having too much tea.

I am starting with the Adagio preferred speed and feed… I mean time and temp. But because I skimmed through a few of the other notes before trying this, I’m going heavy on the leaf, as that seems to be the consensus for max flavor.

Pretty, silvery green leaves. A lighter aroma in the sample tin than the White Symphony, but with some of the same characteristics. A sweet, not quite green, not quite oolongy fragrance but with a slight sharpness that does remind me of oolong.

I got a very very light green tint to the water after steeping. The aroma is very subtle, almost like the aroma of a very very light black tea. A sort of blunted sharp edge to it.

The flavor isn’t coming through very noticeably for me. It’s far lighter than the other Adagio whites. It’s almost like a very, very dilute sweet melon flavor over the surface. Though if I try really hard, I think I can make out the woody note others have described. It is very very mild, though, just a suggestion under the surface flavor.

I’m rating it the same as the White Symphony, which had a louder, more accessible flavor, but which lacks the subtlety of this one. This is a bit like eating a very clean snowball; it would be the kind of thing I’d enjoy drinking after a massage.

180 °F / 82 °C 7 min, 0 sec

I wrote a comment but Steepster ate it, so here it is again:
Woot! congrats, 400 is awesome!!!
And this is a lovely review :-)


Congrats on 400!!


wow, i think you can publish them. Congrats!


Thanks so much TF and VT! I see I’m coming up on 550 notes as well. What fun!


And thanks boychick!


That is a lovely 400th review!!
I want to make some snowballs now!


Oops, I mean 400th tea, not review. ;-)


Thanks, Caile!

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drank White Symphony by Adagio Teas
1120 tasting notes

Now that I’ve given all the flavored whites in the Adagio white sampler an initial taste I thought I’d move on to the non-flavored ones.

I’m using the time and temp on the Adagio label for the first try. White tea steeping times and temperatures still seem a bit of a mystery to me as the recommendations vary widely. I’ve read lower temperatures and longer steeps, lower temperatures and shorter steeps, higher temperatures and shorter steeps. It seems to be highly subjective. Next time I might try the Breville’s white tea settings and see what happens.

The dry leaves look and smell like the leaves used as the base for the Adagio flavored whites, so I’m expecting a similar flavor, minus the added fruit flavors.

The aroma after steeping is sugary, with a hint of plantiness and the color is almost the same as water, a very faint green-yellow.

And yes, the flavor is what I tasted under the very faint pear and very faint tangerine, and I like it much better on its own, mostly because I can just sit back and enjoy it without playing find the flavor. On the other hand, it isn’t knocking my socks off. Part of this may be that I’m still working my way up the white tea learning curve, but I know I’ve had whites that had more to them in subtlety and substance than this.

Now for something completely different. I noticed that I have now rated 399 teas. Woo hoo-the odometer is about to turn over! What to pick for no. 400. Hmmm…

180 °F / 82 °C 7 min, 0 sec

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drank Ichiban Sencha by Harney & Sons
1120 tasting notes

Almost in sipdown territory with this one, but not quite. I’m trying to drink through my open greens (well, all of my open teas, but greens first).

I see that I steeped this differently than I did in my original note. I went by the directions on the sample tin and steeped at 170 degrees for a minute and a half rather than the lower and shorter time I used originally. I think this really does need the shorter steep, at least for my taste, as there’s a bitter tinge around the edge that I didn’t record in my (um…er… wow, that was long, though to be nice to myself I’ll refer to it as exhaustive) note. It’s still quite nice but I think I’ll steep the last of it (maybe tomorrow?) shorter and see what happens.

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drank Gyokuro by Adagio Teas
1120 tasting notes

The Saturday sipdown idea sounds really fun. If I’d had the presence of mind to realize people were doing that I’d have tried to get a few containers and samples in a position to be sipped down so I could join in the fun. As it is, I have one known sipdown coming later today but nothing else on the horizon unless I use some of my single serving samples, which I might just decide to do.

I’m not yet in sipdown position with this, though I feel the need to get myself there soon as this sample is now quite old for a green. Nevertheless, and somewhat surprisingly, it’s pretty much living up to the original note I wrote when it was quite fresh. I have to believe it’s a bit faded from when it was young, but honestly it’s all there-the sweet/bitter, the milky mouth feel, the green, chlorophyll-fresh flavor. A really nice early afternoon tea experience.

Every time I have greens of any sort, I tend to like them better than I like the idea of them. If I had a deep pocket and wasn’t a radioactivity-phobe, I could really become a gyokuro junky, I think.


Lol, radioactivity-phobe ,I have that concern as well, just can’t help it…how sure can one really be?


Hey, Morgana, I’ve been here 3 years, you seem to have been around longer, Do you happen to know who invented the word sipdown on Steepster? I thought it might be TeaEqualsBliss or Sil. Will have to ask Sil, she sure uses it a lot, the most active sipdowner here! If you read this Sil let us know :-)


I can’t help it either, though sometimes when I think about it I feel silly. I mean, Taiwan and China are pretty close to Japan, so am I really safe if I drink only Chinese tea? And shouldn’t I be more worried about pesticides, lead, etc.? There’s something about radioactivity that just pushes my buttons in a way other hazards of contemporary life don’t for whatever reason.


it wasn’t me! It was around when i got here…i just embrace it! :)


Hey TF, I don’t know who invented the term. I do remember much earlier the term “de-cupboarding” being used for sort of the same thing, though I only use it when I’m actually removing something from my Steepster cupboard. Sipdown seems more versatile because it can be used for something that never even made it into the cupboard. ;-) Hat’s off to whoever came up with it, though.


Morgana, exactly!!!

Sil, thanks for the info, though I’m sure when time comes to add this to the dictionary (cause they will!) your face will be next to it. It will be referred to as a «silaism» , haha!


Oh, and I think Angrboda may have invented “de-cupboarding” but I’m not 100% sure I’m remembering correctly.


De-cupboarding is what I need alright! I’m going through «cup-hoarding» phase right now…

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I know I’ve had other apricot flavored blacks-Adagio comes to mind-but it has been a while and now I’m really wondering why.

The aroma of the dry leaf is SO amazing (if you like apricot, which I do). Seriously, it’s downright juicy. It’s sort of between a fresh apricot smell and a dried apricot smell, but not the very dry dried apricots, the plump juicy ones. The dry leaf is also attractive. I am such a sucker for petals in tea. I don’t know what kind these are or whether they are here just for decoration, but either way I love how they look. I also just love the idea of putting petals in tea solely for decoration. If I made teas, I’d do that. ;-)

I have to brush up on my black leaf identification skills to be able to tell what’s in the base. The liquor is a sort of reddish amber, which is what I associate with Ceylons, but I am too rusty to attempt a definitive I.D. here. The aroma of the steeped tea carries over the apricot notes from the dry leaf very nicely. There’s still a juicy apricot quality, which is pretty wonderful, but the tea is present in the aroma as well.

After all of this ramp up, I was a little concerned I might find the taste a let down, but I didn’t have to worry. I taste the apricot front and center. It retains that wonderful juicy component without being overpowering, and that flavor persists into the finish. There’s nothing fake about the apricot flavor, nothing jammy or cloying. The tea flavor takes something of a back seat, but that’s okay with me because the flavor is so well done. There’s some astringency in the aftermath, and that may help to keep the apricot in the aftertaste fresh and sweet.

I like.

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec

Gawd… I abandoned an ATR cart this morning. Sigh. I had just spent my budget for January on my last David order. Hurry up February.


I abandoned my ATR cart last night but am still thinking about it. Stupid coupon.


I know, right? I have to content myself with adding to the shopping list for the foreseeable future, coupons or no.

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Had this again this morning using the package directions for steeping. It did make some difference, or perhaps I’ve just become accustomed to the flavor of this tea.

I think perhaps I expected a deeper flavor from this because the aroma of the dry leaf is so rich, but looking now at Dinosaura’s note, I’m seeing that I’m not alone in finding the tea base “thin,” or in my case, lighter than I’d expected. Which I suppose ought not to be a surprise given that this is described by ATR as a “lighter, creamier version” of Earl Grey. On the light front, that’s definitely accurate, and once I get past my aroma-driven prejudice I can appreciate this for a lighter version of an Earl Grey crème. Because strong bergamot isn’t to my liking in a Grey and the combination of strong bergamot and strong tea does a number on my stomach, this is friendly tea for me. The hint of crème keeps the bergamot in check, and I quite like the balance in this blend.

I’m going to put it on the shopping list mostly because there are mornings when Earl Grey sounds nice but I know I won’t be able to tolerate a full bodied one.

195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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drank Sweet Cinnamon Spice by Tazo
1120 tasting notes

I dug through my cabinets and I found a lot of this. I am not sure whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Sometimes I think this is really vile, other times it’s rather nice. The fact that I have such wild changes of heart about it probably means, on balance, that having a lot of it is a bad thing.

I have discovered that I do not at all like this once it cools. It becomes almost sickly sweet, like drinking the syrup they make root beer out of. On the other hand, if I drink it at a temperature that is as hot as I can reasonably stand, the sweetness isn’t nearly as overpowering and the other flavors come through.

No. 2 is a big root beer fan and because this is slightly reminiscent of root beer to me, I think there’s a shot he might like it. It’s cooling in his mug at the moment, so stay tuned.

ETA: The peanut gallery roundly dislikes this one. I’m lowering the rating a bit.

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I just did a “sort by company” of my notes and was really surprised to see that I’ve only logged two American Tea Room teas. I really liked both of those, so I should probably apply myself to the task of tasting more of their wares! (And btw, the ATR people are psychic, apparently. As I typed that, an email with a 20% off coupon arrived in my mailbox.)

This is a very pretty tea. The violet and mallow petals make the dry leaf lovely to look at. The aroma from the sample packet is so wonderfully inviting. A very mellow blend of bergamot and vanilla, which reminds me of lemon cake icing.

After steeping, the sweetness of the aroma flattens out some. The liquor is a peachy amber.

I’m not getting as much flavor from this as I’d expected. It could have something to do with how I steeped. I used the same settings as I did for St. Petersburg (200 degrees for 4 minutes) but I noticed that the sample packet suggests 195 degrees for 5 minutes. I will try that next time. It could also have something to do with the age of the sample, though it was in a sealed packet that had never been opened and judging by the aroma in the packet it seemed to have retained its freshness and strength.

I’m not convinced I did this one justice, so I’m going to reserve my rating until I’ve had a chance to try steeping it differently. It seems too promising from the aroma for what I got out of it.

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 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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