1180 Tasting Notes


Tasting note no. 600. Time does fly when you’re having fun. ;-)

Feeling rather more virtuous than I have in a while because I exercised today. The last time I exercised was before I got the awful virus a couple of weeks ago, so it felt good to get my lungs full of fresh air and my pores full of sweat.

I wanted something green and simple, not busy with flavors other than the tea. I also thought I should apply myself to the project of drinking up the rest of the open greens before too much more time passes.

I haven’t had a straight up Chinese green tea in a while and this was just fine for the purpose. I see by my original note I found it rather on the high average side, nothing spectacular but tasty enough. After sipping on this, I agree with my original assessment.

It has a pleasant, buttery vegetable taste—maybe a little hint of broccoli, maybe a little hint of spinach. No bitterness and a pleasant finish. A good after workout tea.


Wow, go us. Congratulations on 600 too!


Right on!

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drank Berry Noir by American Tea Room
1180 tasting notes

It appears I’m the first to taste this, and sadly, it appears I may be the last.

I went to look for this tea on The American Tea Room site, and I can no longer find “Berry Noir” available for purchase. There are other berry teas available from ATR now, but not a single-flavor blackberry.

Which is a shame, because the first thing I noticed when I opened the sample packet was the big honking dried blackberries among the tea leaves and a singularly amazing blackberry smell.

Alas, the poor blackberry. It seems to get short shrift in the berry world, taking a second seat to its more popular cousins, the blueberry, the raspberry and the strawberry. I will admit to putting it in my grocery basket as an afterthought when I’ve been berry shopping. And yet, I’m always very happy when I eat a really juicy blackberry. Though I can’t conjure the taste of blackberry in my mind in the same way I can with its little friends. Perhaps that explains the fate of this tea.

Would that it were not so. The tea’s steeped aroma is a deep, luscious blackberry peacefully co-existing with a mild tea base that I suspect is Ceylon. The liquor, in any case, is very similar in color to the other single fruit blends I’ve tried from ATR.

The taste is remarkable. Really, truly, like having a mouthful of sweet berries with each sip. And since they’re not blue, rasp, straw, or any lesser known berries I’ve tasted, I’m comfortable with the idea that they’re blackberries.

This would definitely go on the shopping list if only it still existed.

Le sigh.

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec

damn! i love blackberry! ah well, i have a ton of tea…. =0)


James, I know, right?


Aww, too bad they took it away from you. I like blackberries, but I’ll admit that I prefer more sour berries such as raspberries.


Fjellrev, I like raspberries a lot, too. This tea was really awesome though.


I’d send them a note; I’m finding them really easy to work with, and they’ll tell you if it’s a temporary or permanent removal.


Thanks, MissB, that’s a great suggestion.

American Tea Room

We can tell you – we now offer two teas – Blushing Berry (which has all the red fruit – currants and strawberries) AND Black & Blue (which has all the black and blue fruit – blueberries, blackberries) SO my guess is you would like the Black & Blue – sorry we no longer have your favorite but we think these two are awesome as well.


Thank you. I’ll be sure to try them!

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drank Vivaldi by Mariage Frères
1180 tasting notes

I was going to continue with the next tea in line as planned, but then I got some unexpected good news. So I thought I’d find something with “that French thing” going on to drink as a celebration. (The good news: my first (and so far only) novella was accepted by a speculative fiction publication. As there are a very limited number of places that accept stories this length, I thought perhaps I might end up having to retire this piece without it finding a home.)

I’ll be more detailed and think about ratings in a later note. For now, I just want to enjoy this lovely fruity melange. Is it chocolate? Is it vanilla? What fruit is it?

Right now, I don’t care. It’s yum.

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec

Congratulations! Very exciting news.


Congrats! So happy for you


bravo for the publication ! to me Vivaldi didn’t work, I had it in a MF tea room and it may come from the preparation


Fantastic news! Congrats!


Thanks so much, everyone. It’s been a while since I had good writing news, so this was very welcome indeed.


Ysaurella, I need to spend more time with it when I’m not on an adrenaline rush to see how it truly fares.


Wow, congratulations!


Thanks, bluebelle!


That’s great! Congratulations!




Thanks again, everyone!

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Sipdown no. 33 of 2014. I don’t expect this will be the last I’ll see of this tea, though.

I still think my “likes” are screwing up. I click them but then when I refresh the page or the next time I go to it, unless the note I liked showed up on the first screen (not after clicking more) it appears the likes are gone and I can click them again. But the don’t stick the second time either.

Anyone know if there’s a workaround for this or a particular browser this doesn’t happen with? I hope it isn’t user error. I’ll feel really dumb.

Mmmm. The sweet, brown sugar/molasses thing going on is just right for this morning. It’s almost like having coffee cake, but without the calories.

A sad goodbye, but only for now.


Oh yes, I’ve also noticed the same, but when I click on “likes” (not the heart) I see that my pic is there so I know my “like” worked…


+1 with theteafairy, I noticed exactly the same


Ah, great, I’ll take a look and see if that’s happening for me. Thanks!


I have the same problem

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drank Berry Rooibos by Samovar
1180 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 32 of 2014 is the single serving sample of this one. (Wow, that was a lot of s’s in one sentence.)

I didn’t read the ingredients before I sniffed the packet just for fun. My first thought was “strawberry?” Then just as I was about to nod my head, I thought “blueberry?” So at that point I checked the packet and yes, both of those flavors are represented. As is (shudder) hibiscus.

The good news: after steeping I smelled mostly berry, almost no rooibos (yay) and just a little upswing of tart around the edges that is the hibiscus.

I was worried at first that the flavor would be too tart for me, but it isn’t. It’s actually sweeter than I expected. The berry flavor is pronounced, but not individuated. It’s rather like eating a slice of one of those pies that has several berry flavors in it.

And the rooibos? Excellent news for me. I barely taste it, except for a fleeting pass after the sip. As rooibos goes, Samovar’s is among the best I’ve tasted plain so even what I taste of it is fine.

Samovar’s descriptions are often a cornucopia of aromas and flavors that make me feel like a total novice. This is no exception. I get a mulled wine, natural punch but in the flavor rather than the aroma, and I can’t say I can identify the orange, apricot etc. Though I do taste a bit of something lemon like in the finish and there is an interesting little peppery kick in the aftertaste.

I would buy this. Yes, I would.

Sadly, it appears I am too late as I no longer see it available on the Samovar web site. It may still be part of the rooibos sampler, but it’s not clear that’s offered anymore either as the page I found that lists it says “out of stock.”

Ah well. Lesson learned.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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drank White Pear by Adagio Teas
1180 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 31 for the year 2014.

I’m sorry to say this tea and I were not meant to be. I hope others have better luck coaxing out the pear (Dexter3657, I’m looking at you). ;-)

Dropping the rating some on this and the tangerine. I’ve had too many better teas lately for these to stay in the good category.


I’m seriously thinking about dehydrating a pear or two and adding more bits of pear to it. LOL Guess I should actually try it plain first but I’m really not that hopeful. :))


I am guessing it could use the help, not that I want to bias you or anything. ;-)

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drank Almond Oolong by Adagio Teas
1180 tasting notes

Afternoon is time for oolong.

It appears I have only written a note on one of the Adagio flavored oolongs in the sampler, the grapefruit. Time to try another.

I’m going to try something I haven’t tried before: steeping oolong in the Breville. This should be interesting.

I’m not excited by the smell coming out of the sample tin. It is suggestive of almond, but in a sort of Almond Joy way. There’s what smells to me like some sort of artificial sweetener along with the almond.

Actually, it smells like Play Doh. Unfortunate.

The dry leaves are dark green to brown and I see some twigs in the mix as well as the slices of almond.

I got a dark yellow liquor with a peachy-brown tinge. The tea’s aroma is definitely almond-y, with something that smells like vanilla to me, too. I’m not smelling the toasty Formosa oolong scent I’d expect. If it’s there, the flavoring is keeping it well under wraps.

But here’s the surprise—as with the grapefruit, despite early indications to the contrary, I’m finding it a pleasing drink. Though not, I think as pleasing as the grapefruit. I remember that well, and the citrus gave that tea a brightness that worked well with the concept of oolong. The almond, though, is a little on the heavy side for an oolong flavoring and seems rather more glommed on to the tea base than having a synergistic effect with it.

During the sip, the almond flavor is almost like vanilla, but in the finish, the nuttiness comes through and the aftertaste is definitely almond: that greenish, woody, somewhat sweet nutty flavor that almonds leave in your mouth after you’ve eaten them.

It’s hard to know how to rate this because the oolong aspect is secondary to the almond flavor. I’d definitely drink it again were I in the mood for this flavor, but I wouldn’t necessarily pick it if I was in an oolong frame of mind. I should probably try it other than using the Breville before I finally commit, so the rating here is provisional.

I did try a second steep, but the almond flavor was much more subdued and there wasn’t a lot that came to the fore to replace it.

I don’t think this will end up on the shopping list, though I do think almond oolong would be a nice addition to my cupboard. If I can’t find one I like better than this, I may rethink it.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

Very nice review :-)

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drank Jasmine Green Tea by Kusmi Tea
1180 tasting notes

Tried this again today when I could pay a bit more attention. No. 1 wanted to try it so I gave him some. He quite likes it. The BF does as well, though he’s not much of a sophisticate when it comes to tea and his compliment was a bit backhanded (“tastes like Chinese restaurant tea-it’s nice”).

I like it as well. The jasmine has a freshness to it and a wonderful aroma. The floral notes are predominant in the taste as well. It’s not at all bitter. There’s nothing off-putting about it.

If I have one main complaint about this tea, it’s that I don’t really taste the tea while the tea is hot. Usually with Chinese jasmine greens, I get a sweet, buttery green tea taste along with the jasmine. I feel as though the tea flavor just starts to peek out as the tea cools.

I honestly don’t have a clear memory of other jasmine greens I’ve had in the past that I would say are that much more awesome than this, but I know I’ve had some that had a different balance between the floral scent and the tea itself. I’m going to give this a provisional rating that may change as I refresh my memory. The number reflects the really wonderful jasmine but lack of green tea taste.

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Sipdown no. 30 of the year 2014.

Revisiting the delights of tea after some time away feels in some ways like being a tea virgin all over again. I remember the first time I encountered smoky tea and was blown away that tea could taste like that.

I’m getting flashbacks to that experience drinking this. This is an easy smoky tea to drink. It’s mild in its smokiness and not resiny or piney, but still enough to make you think of walking through the neighborhood while folks have wood fires burning in their fireplaces. I tend to drink smoky teas when its overcast and rainy for this reason, but I’m enjoying this one just fine on a sunny, warm-ish day.


I really gotta try some more smoky teas. The only ones I’ve had were Twinings Lapsang in bags and The Republic of Tea’s loose leaf lapsang (Which was worse than Twinings, to be honest).


This might be something you’d like. It does have lapsang in it, but that’s only part of the blend so the lapsang smoke isn’t overpowering. I’ve had lapsangs that made me feel as though I had burnt pine resin stuck in my nostrils for days. This is nowhere near that. ;-)


Yeah, it sounds like a step up in the right direction. I added it to my “shopping list” :)

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We stopped at Starbucks today to get breakfast before the kids’ Kung Fu classes so I decided to try one of these. I got mine with nonfat milk.

I haven’t had chai in what seems like forever and I forgot how enjoyable it can be. This went surprisingly well with my spinach wrap, and after I’d eaten I continued sipping on this contentedly.

I’d only ever had the regular Starbucks chai before, not the chocolate. The chocolate is quite nice. The spices still come through nicely. I got mostly cardamom and some cinnamon, some clove and ginger, not much pepper all, and no anise. That was all fine with me as it’s the cardamom that I really love the most. I wouldn’t have liked this if it had been heavy on the anise. Licorice is a really tricky flavor for me and it has to hit me just right. Most of the time it doesn’t.

If I don’t get coffee at Starbucks next time, I’ll be getting this. I’m also now primed to break out my own chai stash and start cooking.

But this gets extra points because I didn’t have to slave over a hot stove. ;-)


I buy the concentrate from Costco for the price of one latte I get three containers and make a heck of a lot more :D I like making it iced in the summer.


Awesome, Helen. Iced sounds like something to try, too.


Helena and Morgana: they are selling cartons of this for half price at their website…


Thanks, Sherapop—that’s good to know. I have so much chai ATM that I can’t possibly justify buying more. LOL.

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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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