1120 Tasting Notes

drank St. Petersburg by Kusmi Tea
1120 tasting notes

I neglected to pick up any coffee yesterday. Too much going on after work. We’re trying to replace the exterior lighting on our house and the lighting store was open until 8 p.m. so the BF decided we should go there and eat dinner nearby. The kids normally go to sleep at around 8:30 so they were pretty overdone by the time dinner was over.

In any case, not to worry as the magic was back this morning. It’s interesting that Kusmi’s ideal time for preparation on this is afternoon because I think it’s wonderful in the morning. Strong blacks sometimes hit my stomach wrong first thing in the morning. This one is very mellow but flavorful, and today I’m getting a lot of cherry and grape and plum-like flavors that integrate really nicely with the tea flavor instead of tasting glommed on.

Bumping it up in points for rising to the occasion.

I’ve said it before, but yum. Just yum.

Terri HarpLady

I also have problems with tea on an empty stomach, especially ceylon. I can usually get away with Yunnans, & some Assams, at least for a little while :)


I used to know which varieties were more likely to cause the problem but I’ve forgotten. I’m sure I’ll be reminded at some point when my stomach gets angry at me.


I hear you! Black tea (and coffee even more so) on an empty stomach in the morning makes me feel hungover.

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Sipdown! No. 10 for 2014.

Four bags left, so the entire family engaged in the sipdown.

The kids really like this one and I worry it will be a hard act to follow, but I’m not unhappy to see it go. Plain honeybush is no longer my thing, if it ever was.

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This is sipdown no. 9 for the year. (I have to say this counting thing is sort of fun.)

I’ve been drinking this just about every day since my initial note, because every day since then there’s been a point during the day when my throat went ka-blooey. Either it seemed to have caught on fire, or more recently, it has just been sort of hoarse and achy when I’ve had to talk a lot at work.

I think I’ve turned the corner in terms of this illness, or at least I hope so. I went to get a flu shot today and my temp was up a couple of tenths of a point but not enough for them to tell me not to get the shot.

Having turned the health corner (fingers crossed) I was eager to turn the medicinal tea corner as well. This doesn’t market itself as medicinal, but that’s how I’ve been using it and it has fit the bill nicely. It’s hard to know whether it’s the mint or the chamomile that’s more soothing. The freshness of the mint definitely cools a painful throat and the softening effect of the chamomile is something of a balm.

I’ve discovered this is best drunk while hot. When it cools it gets really medicine-y tasting. Hot, as it was meant to be, it’s actually rather pleasant, despite my sometime distrust of chamomile.

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drank Vanilla Apricot White by Tazo
1120 tasting notes

I noticed that a number of folks are keeping track of their sipdowns, which seems like a fun idea. I haven’t put all the teas I own into my cupboard so I can’t use that as a measure. But I can keep track of all my sipdowns for 2014, which could be amusing.

By my count, this is 2014 sipdown no. 8. I’m having the very last bag here at work.

I’ll remember it fondly, though I’m unlikely to buy more. If the blend ever changes to be heavier on the apricot and lighter on the vanilla, I might be persuaded to reconsider.

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drank St. Petersburg by Kusmi Tea
1120 tasting notes

Out of coffee! It’s always what I reach for first thing in the morning, but today, I realized I hadn’t replenished my stocks. In the past when this has happened, I’ve not fully appreciated the tea substitute because I’m annoyed that I didn’t get my coffee.

I must make a note to myself: When the coffee runs out, drink St. Petersburg! No disappointment at all today. I forgot how much I liked this.

Today I’m tasting mostly the red fruits in this blend. There’s something plummy about the taste. Everything else is coming through as a single, really nice blend of caramel, citrus and vanilla, in the aroma and at the front of the sip.

Yum. Just yum.

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drank Honeybush by Tazo
1120 tasting notes

Is Steepster flaking on everyone tonight or is it just me? Every other screen is a black screen error saying someone left the pot on too long. Hmmm.

The peanut gallery was a big fan of this one after taste testing it tonight.

Both no. 1 and no. 2 used the term “awesome” to describe this.

I’m glad to have help drinking down the rest of this box and I can only anticipate that things will get even more interesting as I start trying fruit blends and other flavored tisanes on them. Then again, it’s possible that they’re purists. Too early to tell.


nope it’s “fogot to put the kettle on” a lot


LOL. Right. I remembered it was describing some tea mishap, I just couldn’t remember what it liked to say. ;-)

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drank White Tropics by Adagio Teas
1120 tasting notes

A sipdown. Made a big pot to use it up because after trying the other Adagio flavored whites, this is definitely my least favorite. As it suffers by comparison, I’m lowering the rating some.

The BF likes it though, and since I’m working from home today, I am planning to do a lot of sharing. ;-)

I steeped this shorter this time, 2.5 minutes, which did improve the flavor. It takes the edge off the very, very sweet, to the point of cloying, flavoring.

The main issue I have with the flavor is that it seems more like a generic, sugar syrup has been added to this than anything else. Yes, I do get an aroma and some taste of very sweet coconut, and a very small hint of pineapple, but the sugar water flavor is primary. And unfortunately, at least for me, it’s the flavoring attempt to make it more than a generic sweetness that doesn’t succeed.

At a shorter steep time, it’s at least not doing a number on my stomach. After the initial, longer steep, not only did I feel as though I had a rock in my stomach for a while afterward, the aroma stuck with me much longer than it had any business doing, and made me have some bouts of queasiness for the remainder of the day.


This one doesn’t sound too good, eh? Good that you can pass it along to the BF. (Second hand tea)


Yeah, it’s kind of a jack sprat thing with us. He’s never met something sweet or spicy he doesn’t like, and I tend to prefer subtlety. So it works!

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drank Gyokuro by Harney & Sons
1120 tasting notes

Oh woe is me.

The curse of having too much tea is that little gems like the last teaspoon or so of this sample get buried and when you find them, in this case, years later, they are a shadow of their former selves. (How could I have let this happen? I really must be more careful.)

Doubly cursed, I had the last teaspoon already in the Breville filter when I realized I couldn’t get the settings to go any lower than 160 and I wanted to steep this at 140. I’d rinsed the filter from the last tea I’d made and so the leaves had adhered to the filter. I couldn’t move them to another filter without losing half the sample. Sigh.

So I used the equivalent of chewing gum and coathangers or whatever that saying is. I heated the water in the Breville, let it cool, and stuck the filter into the water manually.

And why not go for the woe hat trick while I’m at it? I also think I used too much water for the amount of leaf I had left.

You may think all of this woe is leading up to a disastrous report. Happily, you’d be mistaken.

Yes, it’s a shadow of its former self judging by my previous note on this, but, somewhat unbelievably, it still has a pleasant, somewhat sweet, green mellow flavor. I’m glad I went ahead and steeped it rather than committing it to the compost heap.


Yay, a happy ending!


Indeed. :-)


hurray for non ruined gyokuro!

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drank Vanilla Rooibos Parfait by Tazo
1120 tasting notes

Hmmm. My notes aren’t really about Vanilla Rooibos Parfait… they’re about plain old Vanilla Rooibos (full leaf) in a slightly different package, but hey, the ingredients appear to be exactly the same so who knows?

We had a few sachets left in my BF’s tin and I thought the peanut gallery would like this one. No. 1 didn’t at all. No. 2 didn’t like the smell but said he likes the taste, then confessed he really doesn’t. I’m a little baffled by kids who prefer plain green rooibos with a dash of honeybush or plain red rooibos to this, which has a lot more going on in terms of sweetness from the vanilla to the cinnamon to the apple. But that’s what makes parenting interesting….

I quite enjoyed mine. A nice little blast from the past.

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Found this in the work stash. I am having to guess a little at steeping time and water temp (the hazards of not being at home).

The sachet has the most amazing, strong vanilla scent. No grapefruit, but a really lovely vanilla. A mix of beany and creamy. Mmmm.

After steeping I get a citrus note to the aroma as well. The liquor is a clear amber.

Really pleasant flavor. The grapefruit comes out more and more as the tea gets cooler, adding a freshness to the flavor that keeps the vanilla from being overpoweringly sweet.

Though I can’t justify any more tea buying, I am putting this on my list in case I ever manage to drink my way out of lock down.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

" in case I ever manage to drink my way out of lock down." That’s funny. It’s exactly how I feel right now. Out of control stash, not allowed to buy any. Great phrase (I might steal it…) :))


«I can’t justify any more tea buying…» Hey, itchy fingers under control????


Dexter, dunno what you’re talking about…


TF, yes I’ve got the itchy fingers well in hand (no pun intended).

Dexter, lol, be my guest. ;-)

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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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