951 Tasting Notes

drank Shui Xian by Teas Etc
951 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 132 of the year 2014. A sample. Made in the gaiwan with short steeps starting at 15 seconds after a rinse.

In the packet, the leaves are so dark they look like black tea leaves. They smell a little like wood.

After steeping, they yield a caramel colored liquor that has a brisk, fruity aroma with a toasty, almost smoky note.

The flavor is more interesting and alive than the other dark oolongs I’ve had recently . (Those were all from Adagio.) I can see what they mean by the chocolate note. It’s not as strong as the chocolate notes one finds in black teas, but it’s there. It’s not a sweet chocolate, more of a dark beany one around the edges. Very nice. The fruitiness here is more complex than in some dark oolongs where you basically feel like you’re sucking on a peach pit, and that’s the single note stonefruit flavor. This one isn’t as woody/stoney, and is more reminiscent of the pulpy fruity part of an apricot.

It doesn’t change as much from steep to steep as I’d expect, but the smoky notes come out around steep three, as does a little astringency which is interestingly coupled with a soft mouth feel.

There’s a smoky, woody aftertaste. The steeped leaves are chocolate brown and have a mild woody scent with a sharp fruity note.

If I didn’t have about a thousand other oolongs to taste, I would put this on the shopping list as I think it merits playing around with a bit more. As it is, while I like it quite a bit, it isn’t completely knocking my socks off screaming “drop everything and buy me!”

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec

If I didn’t have about a thousand other oolongs to taste :)) so many teas so little time. This one sounds good though. :))


Haha, I know, Dexter.

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For my 900th tasting note, I thought I’d taste a tea I haven’t tried before.

When I look at my tea stash, it’s pretty clear that most of what I have is black tea or oolong. I have far fewer green teas and fruit or herbals. I may have more white tea than I do green tea. I don’t know whether this accurately reflects the mix of what I bought, but I think not. I do love black tea, but I can’t drink it much after 1 in the afternoon, and I love oolongs, but I don’t always have time to do them justice, so I don’t drink them as much. Greens, whites and herbals/fruits are probably the ones I drink more often because of time of day considerations, but I also think I just bought fewer of them.

In any case, I have a lot of Todd & Holland samples, many of which are black teas. This is one of them. It’s malty-smoky in the package with surprisingly light colored green leaves. The liquor color is a dark sienna color and clear, quite lovely. It has a sweet, malty aroma with berry and chocolate notes.

The taste isn’t as sweet as the aroma, and there is a bit of smoke in the flavor but it isn’t strong. Like the aroma, the flavor has a maltiness and both fruity and chocolate notes. The fruit note is something on the order of blackberry or rasperry, or perhaps black cherry, and the chocolate is a lighter, mild note suggestive of milk chocolate.

It’s very tasty and it has a lot of “personality.” I can’t quite figure out whether I’ve tasted something similar in a Harney Blend, or whether it was some other tea company, but the flavor is familiar.

Am I the only person who finds it almost impossible to keep track of all the black tea blends I like, particularly over long stretches of time?

Flavors: Berries, Chocolate, Malt

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

Woot, woot, 900!
(I still remember your 666 not that long ago!)


YAY for 900!! Congrats :)


Wow 900!!!


Haha, and thanks. TF, I looked for a good musical interlude for 900 but came up empty.


I’m still far from it, but I’m already thinking of a great Spartan melody for my 300th, lol!
(If such a thing exists!)

Terri HarpLady

Congrats Morgana!


Congrats!! :)


Congratulations! And I’m kind of the same with black blends. They always dominate my stash, but my problem is that while I’m good at keeping track at which ones I like, it’s hard to drink down the ones I don’t care for because I have so much and want to just reach for the ones I favour haha.


Yay 900! I have a spreadsheet where I mark “rebuy” as yes, no or maybe. And I write short tasting notes into a notes column. So I can sort by yes and company, then read what I had to say and see if I really want them or not.

Terri HarpLady

I have a spread sheet that I update & then print out every month, then I check teas off as I drink them. If it’s something I want to re-order, I make note of it. I never make it through all of them, ever, LOL.
Fjellrev, you can send them all to Sil…mwahahahaha


Haha yes! But not just the ones I don’t care for because that would be mean. I tried it once already but it’s so damn hard to find something in my cupboard that she hasn’t tried already. I’d do the same with you but I’m sure you’re a billion steps ahead of me too. ;)


900 notes? Congrats!


Thanks all. Yeah, I should do a spread sheet. My problem is that most of the ones I’ve tasted lately and liked fall on the right hand part of the bell curve where they’re all bunched up. Ugh. I can be counted on to over buy rather than weed out. LOL

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drank Welcome by Art of Tea
951 tasting notes

This tisane is the current front-running sipdown candidate among the herbal/fruit/otherwise decaffeinated mixes in my cupboard just because it’s my current least favorite. I didn’t reread my first note before I steeped it, so I didn’t intentionally overleaf. I must be sure to do that next time to see if it makes a difference.

It’s certainly not something that I dread having to sip down (there have been many others in this category), but it’s not my favorite chamomile blend. I’m still liking the Harney Yellow and Blue for that designation. Tonight, even without overleafing, this chamomile is a bit sweeter than I remember, which is a good sign. It’s also a little straw-y, which isn’t.

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Sipdown no. 131 of the year 2014. Today was incredibly hectic and I only have about 15 minutes before we head out to dinner, but that’s enough time for an oolong!

It’s a chilly day even though it’s sunny and I was cold watching no. 1 play baseball, so this is a nice warmer upper. It’s also a very nice flavor. Today it’s making me think apricot-y peach-y toastiness.

I have so many oolongs I can’t even keep up with them all, so while I won’t be ordering this any time soon (if at all), I can certainly say I enjoyed it while it lasted.

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I started with green tea today (not this one) because I have lots of butterflies in my stomach. Today is certificate of merit testing day for no. 1—we went early for the theory test because his piano performance exam is at 1:20 followed by a baseball game and we weren’t sure he’d be able to get back in time for theory.

I’m more nervous than he is, of course. We’re about twenty minutes away from leaving for the performance part so I’m having something I hope will be both invigorating and calming.

I love the whole idea of pearl teas and while I’m more familiar with them in the oolong world, I’m just as happy to have them elsewhere. In the tin, these are pretty dark green with silver streaks in them. They have a light jasmine fragrance.

They steep to a clear pale yellow that leans more toward the golden side than the lemon yellow side but with a hint of green. The aroma of the tea is a delicate jasmine that smells like my backyard on a summer evening (we have a lot of jasmine bushes lining our deck).

The flavor is delicate as well. Some jasmine greens have a much stronger jasmine scent and flavor. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes it isn’t.

What I like about this one is that even though the flavor is delicate, it’s a very natural flowery scent and flavor. It doesn’t smell or taste sprayed on like jasmine sometimes does.

While I think in ordinary circumstances I’d want a bit stronger flavor on both the tea and the jasmine side, this is really nice in terms of flavor and balance. I will enjoy sipping it down.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

I hope it’ll all work out today! I’m sure it will. :)


good luck to No. 1!


He got through it just fine. Thanks! I am so relieved.

Terri HarpLady

I bet he did great! :)


We’ll find out Monday but unless something went really wrong on the theory part I feel sure he will pass.


Aww, happy everything went well :-)


Thanks, TF! I wish there was a magic formula to get kids to practice. I was always motivated by wanting to get to the next harder level, but my kids aren’t like that. They like playing, but they don’t make the connection between practice and playing well. It seems like there’s been a cultural shift of some sort so that kids are only motivated by extrinsic rewards. My entire being recoils at the idea, but I admit I’ve resorted to it because I want the kids to be successful at whatever they undertake.

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Sipdown no. 130 of the year 2014.

I don’t have anything to add to my previous notes on this, except that I’m looking forward to repurposing the wonderful black matte Samovar tin.

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I wanted to try this again to see whether I thought it was worth tossing into the take to work pile. It’s billed as a lower caffeine tea so I thought it would be good for work in the afternoon. I had it on the heels of my oft-noted English Breakfast.

After I tasted it again, I decided to bring it to work. It’s not a favorite. It’s kind of bland and doesn’t have a lot of flavor except the peppery flavor I noted before.

I’m bumping the rating down a bit because I’ve had so many better black teas lately, including from Kusmi.


I saw the title and immediately thought, how were the other 40 Russian evenings? :P Cold? Probably cold.


Hah! I know, and the other 209 Lapsang Souchongs and the other 107 Bouquets de Fleurs.


or des Fleurs… as the case may be.

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drank Caribbean Breeze by Teavana
951 tasting notes

Tea mystery!

In the realm of experiences relating to having way too much tea, I usually can’t find some tea or other that I could have sworn I had. Like the Adagio Silver Needle Jasmine.

This one is the opposite. I have the notes to prove I had a sipdown of this once upon a time. And yet, when I dug through my drawer looking for things to take to work, there was a humongoid tin of this.

At first I was kind of upset that I found it because I remember it being too tart to be fully enjoyed without sweetening, but I decided to give it a shot unsweetened. Instead, I basically doubled the amount of mix I’d used previously.

It’s much nicer than my previous notes reflect, and I don’t know whether that’s because I put in so much mix, it’s mellowed with age, or my body chemistry has changed over time and is now more compatible with it.

But whatever the reason, tonight it is not: too tart, too bitter, too uneven in flavor. It doesn’t require sweetening. In fact, it seems to have some natural sweetness and a prominent strawberry note.

This leads me to a generality I’ve been noticing about fruit blends with hibiscus in them. It’s not always true that substantially overleafing can cut the tartness to something enjoyable rather than unbearable, but it’s been true often enough lately that I’m going to continue to do it.

Giving it a significant ratings bump.

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Sipdown no. 129 of the year 2014.

Not a bad fruity rooibos blend, just not spectacular in my book, though the BF loved it. I am tasting a lot of apple tonight mixed in with the lemon but the pomegranate is still difficult for me to discern. I wonder whether if this was fresher I might have tasted it more. I liked that the rooibos was quietly in the background and didn’t stand up to be counted.

It appears that as of the date of this note, Teavana still offers this blend. So I have time to change my mind, or order more because the BF likes it.

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Today was instrument selection day at the middle school and no. 1 has his heart set on playing the saxophone. He’d pretty much decided he wanted to play it two weeks ago ever since he learned he had to have an elective: art, band or orchestra. My immediate reaction was: great, another instrument I’ll have to fight with you to get you to practice (he’s in his third year of piano lessons). But then I thought perhaps there’d be a synergy. The things he doesn’t like about piano, like counting, might be things band would be incredibly good for learning. I imagine it only takes a few times of playing before the rest of the band because you didn’t count the quarter rest before you step in line.

Anyway. Small brag ahead, so if that sort of thing annoys you skip the next paragraph.

Amazingly, he wailed on all the instruments. On a scale of 1-5, five being the best (judged by the ability to get a coherent sound out of the instrument), he got 5s on sax, flute, trumpet, trombone and baritone, and a 4 on the clarinet. I have no idea where this comes from as I only ever played piano. But that’s one of the fun things about kids. They totally surprise you sometimes.

Anyway, he went to get fro-yo with the BF so I’m having an oolong. Ahhhh. Or perhaps I should say Ooooh. This is actually hitting the spot today. It’s really toasty and flavorful, and reminds me of what I like about dark oolongs. It’s quite fruity in its toastiness. I’m getting something peachy-plummy and some grape.

I shall be having a number of additional steeps of this. Carry on.




Thanks, but I really didn’t do anything—it was all him. :-)


You didnt do anything? Really?! I think we as parents deserve pat on back too. Don’t you agree? i think i wrote too many question marks :-)


yaaay for dark oolongs! ;) maybe because i’m a hojicha enthusiast ;p

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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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