1184 Tasting Notes

drank Almond Oolong by Adagio Teas
1184 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
1184 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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Sipdown no. 29 of the year 2014. It’s Saturday and I have a few more sipdowns within reach. W00t!

Steepster continues to be flaky on my likes. I thought I had identified the cause—I thought it didn’t like me “liking” on my phone or tablet, but this morning I noticed I had the same issue when liking on my computer. Then I thought perhaps it was a browser issue so I tried a different one but it continues to be unpredictable. Sorry if I missed anyone. Sigh.

I continue to have very pleasant interactions with this tea. If this tea had a personality, it would be outgoing and warm but not pushy or brash. It’s very inviting, particularly first thing in the morning. On a clean palate, the tea base’s flavor is easily accessible. I’m get the peppery note in the description today. It’s a great wake-up tea.

If it wasn’t for the fact I prefer the Shanghai version, I would run immediately to put this on the shopping list.

ETA: This really deserves a better rating. Just because I’m not buying it doesn’t mean it isn’t excellent. Remedying that now.


It seems that I’ve missed a week of “glitchyness”!


Indeed. :~>

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drank Lemon Herbal by Harney & Sons
1184 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 28 for the year 2014. I’m counting it as a sipdown because I’m throwing away the sample packet, but I do have a tin of this as well. I think it counts if it means something gets to be thrown away? If I’m cheating, let me know and I won’t count it.

After my epiphany of the other day that it’s okay for me to like I Love Lemon, I feel less urgency about finding a perfect lemon tisane, which is quite liberating. I can just sit back and enjoy this one.

Pretty much everything I said in my first note about this remains accurate on this tasting, particularly with respect to the gentle quality of the lemon. I thought perhaps the bitter note was new, but I see I identified it before. It’s really only at the very first of the sip. By the time it hits the middle, it’s gone, and in the finish, there’s a sweetness to the lemon that does remind me of the aftertaste of a lightly flavored lemon cookie.

I feel very virtuous sipping my lemon while the rest of the family gorges on chicken wings. ;-)

Time to sleep for me, I think. G’night all and sweet dreams.


Ahhh, i’ve done a few tea coming outs myself, it does feel so liberating, doesn’t it, lol!


Yes, it does! Lol.


was it using the fruit? or the fruit tree leaves?


It has lemongrass, lemon rind and lemon flavor according to the manufacturer’s description of the tea on the tasting page.

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drank Chamomile Blossoms by Samovar
1184 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 27 for the year 2014 is my one serving sample of this.

At the risk of sounding all fan girly, is there ANYTHING Samovar can’t do? Though I don’t see myself buying a case of this, for the same reason I wouldn’t buy their plain rooibos or honeybush (also amazing as such things go) it’s pretty awesome for chamomile.

I have a love/not so much love (I can’t say hate because that’s such a strong word) relationship with chamomile.

I love the idea of chamomile. I think of it as the perfect, soothing drink for a stressed and uncomfortable soul. Okay, I admit that this idea comes from Beatrix Potter and I’ve had it since I was three. When Peter Rabbit’s mother gives him chamomile tea after he barely makes it away from Mr. McGregor, that’s love.

However, with some exceptions I usually don’t love the taste so much. Chamomile can taste like paper treated with some odd floral chemical to me, or like musty old hay smells.

In the sample packet this smells, astonishingly, like fresh baked bread with a touch of lemon. After steeping, there is more identifiable chamomile aroma, which is frankly the biggest downside of this herbal. They weren’t kidding about the liquor—it’s a fairly clear, slightly golden yellow.

The taste. There’s no sharpness like chamomile can sometimes have, no sourness that can sometimes sit heavily in my stomach after drinking chamomile based tisanes. There’s a lightness to it, and a sweetness to the finish that hangs around for the aftertaste. I don’t get apple notes in the sip, but in the aftertaste I taste what I think the Samovar description is referring to when it says Red Delicious. It’s a sort of crispness that’s reminiscent of the mouthfeel of Red Delicious apples along with a middle note of sweetness. The mouthfeel of the tisane itself is slick and soft, and just short of creamy. Not heavy like some chamomile blends.

If I was going to drink straight chamomile, this would be it. I’d never say never about ordering this, but it’s not a high priority as I sit here. Still, if your baby bunny has a rough day, this could taste like love.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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drank Jasmine Green Tea by Kusmi Tea
1184 tasting notes

I had jasmine on the brain after drinking the Adagio Silver Needle (and spending a short amount of time being a little upset about not knowing what happened to my sample of the Adagio Jasmine Silver Needle), and then the fates conspired to have me take a look at all of my Kusmi samples. I didn’t even know I had this one, but when I found it I knew that it would be next.

There’s a wonderful smell of jasmine from the little sample tin. I really couldn’t smell the tea for the floral aroma. There’s a bit more tea in the steeped aroma, but it’s still mostly jasmine that I smelled. (Actually, I need to try this again and think about the aroma more because I had to run out to take my son to his piano lesson before I really got to pay attention to it. I brought the tea along in a tumbler.) I got a golden yellow liquor.

Mostly what I taste is a sweet jasmine note, but the tea is fairly cool by now. I want to do a better note about this another time.

No. 1 tasted it and quite liked it. So I may be making some in the morning for him and take that opportunity to do the description more justice.

Not rating for now.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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drank Silver Needle by Adagio Teas
1184 tasting notes

I was looking back at the last note I wrote about this. It appears I thought I’d finished off my sample. So imagine my surprise when I discovered I hadn’t finished it? In fact, it appears I have barely scratched the surface. I’m now wondering whether what I finished way back when was the Jasmine Silver Needle? If I did, I didn’t write notes on it which seems unlikely, but I now cannot locate the Jasmine Silver Needle tin though I know that it came with the white sampler I bought. Strange. Perhaps the jasmine shapeshifed into the regular silver needle while I wasn’t looking.

Anyway, I seem to have tried this with a very long steeping time before because that’s what Adagio recommended. This time I steeped shorter—3 minutes.

My original note on this was rather a tome, so I’m just going to say: I know this isn’t a flavored tea, but I prefer it to all of the Adagio flavored whites that I’ve tried, except perhaps the grapefruit (need to taste that again to see). It’s a very subtle flavor, in the same way the Snowbud was subtle, but I can’t say that it’s a worse example of it’s type than either the White Symphony or the Snowbud, so I’m rating them all the same. Still, I suspect there are other silver needles I might prefer more. Harney’s was one.

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drank White Pear by Adagio Teas
1184 tasting notes

Pear again!

Not a sipdown but very close. Over the weekend for sure.

Tried it this time with a much shorter steep time (3 minutes) to see whether that would make the pear come out, even though it didn’t work with the White Tangerine.

I got a promising whiff of pear off the steeped tea, but it receded in subsequent sniffs so that what I mostly get is the tea base. I’d say it does help with the white pear taste, but only minimally. Like it might give more of a suggestion of pear, but not PEAR. It’s like squinting at something that you can almost read but can’t quite make out. Not a keeper for me.


fruity pear or candy pear flavor?


Barely pear.


not enough pear taste eh?


Hardly any. It’s at most a sort of fresh water suggestion that could be pear.


Next time try 5-7 minutes an see if that works :)


Tried that the first time, same result. Shorter actually gave better overall flavor.


I have some of this but haven’t tried it yet – this does not sound encouraging. Sorry it’s disappointing.


dexter3657, well, everyone’s taste is different. me for example i don’t like weak tea much.

morgana , weird, usually the longer the stronger. well i do know that some teas steep fast, Ie: black teas.


hmm adding the 2 underscores at the ends of your name made it italic


Dexter, hope you have better luck!

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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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