1178 Tasting Notes

drank Chamomile Blossoms by Samovar
1178 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
1178 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
1178 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
1178 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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drank Chocolate Tea by Harney & Sons
1178 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 26 for the year 2014. I forgot how much I loved this.

In looking back at my first note, I believe I was chintzy with the rating. Particularly after now having tasted many other chocolate teas, some of which were much too subtle with their chocolate flavor for my taste (I’m not naming any names but it starts with a K and ends with an i). This is a really stellar example of a chocolate tea in my book. No other flavors, just chocolate, and a very chocolatey chocolate at that. (Even given the age of the sample, which was open though ziplocked!) Bumping the rating accordingly.


I wish I could find this one!


Looks like it is still available from the Harney web site.


Harney really seems to have nailed the chocolate flavor tea. Personally, I have never tried this but I have had Florence and SoHo and both have great chocolate tastes.


Great work on the sip downs! I need to emulate you! ;-)


VT, yes—I think it’s the same chocolate that’s in Florence but without the hazlenut. Sherapop, thanks! I’m working hard. :-)

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Another morning with the Sterling. I’m now within sipdown range but not quite there.

With a bit more distance from the Earl Grey Shanghai, I can really appreciate this one in its own right. Mild, medium-light bodied, somewhat brisk, with bergamot just how I like it (in other words, present, but not too strong).

It is so hard to choose among the many Earl Greys out there. You’d think they’d all be basically the same, but no, they have to make things complicated. ;-) There are some Earl Greys that I’d be happy to never taste again and others that are go-tos in my book. This is just short of go-to. Very nice indeed.

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I have not had this in a very long time but I find it really enjoyable. It’s apple juice for grown ups—not sugary, not sticky, not thick—but sweet enough without adulteration and an aftertaste like the aftertaste of fresh apples.

I used a lot of the mix, about 2 teaspoons per 250ml of water, which made for a really flavorful drink.

The peanut gallery was persuaded to try it and both gave it a thumbs up, though given the recent track record of “I like it, I don’t like it” I’m not holding my breath on this one.


when it comes to fruit teas, the stronger the better. (for me at least.)


Agreed, Kirk.


I should get it for my hubby. he likes apple juice and can drink a gallon if i dont stop him. much better alternative


boychick, yes, this is a zero calorie drink according to the label, which I find really hard to believe given the taste—but I’ll go with it!

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Sipdown no. 25 for the year 2014. The entire family joined in, as there were exactly four bags left.

Personally, I’m glad to see it go. It was purchased as an experiment more than anything else and it has served its purpose.

The kids REALLY like it, though. I hope I can find something else they’ll like just as much so I won’t feel like I suck as a mother if I don’t restock this. ;-)


go you! 25 sipdowns :)


I’m determined to catch up with you sipdown champs!


it makes things more fun when you can play games :)


does it taste similar to green tea?


Not at all. It tastes like a mouthful of reeds to me.

Terri HarpLady

25 sipdowns, that’s more than one a day! Good for you!


Thanks Terri!


i drink at least 5 cups a day and they are coffee cups

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drank Champagne Rosé by Lupicia
1178 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 24 for the year 2014. I’ve vaulted ahead of the one per day average! OK, that’s an exaggeration. More like I’ve taken a baby step ahead. Lol.

What to do, what to do. Just the other day, I tried Carol, which was also a Lupicia Strawberry, so I thought I’d try this—also a single teabag in my work stash. And now, dammit, I want ALL THE STRAWBERRY TEA. Ugh.

This one smells really good in the bag, the same sweet strawberry smell as the Carol had, minus the vanilla and plus… well, it’s supposed to be plus champagne, but to me it’s not really that so much as a whiff of Orange Fanta, which sounds terrible, but is really quite delightful when mixed with the strawberry. The liquor is a lovely mahogany color.

I think perhaps I like the Carol slightly better, but only slightly. The vanilla in the Carol makes for a very smooth, mellow strawberry. The strawberry in this one has a brighter taste. Although the tea obviously isn’t bubbly like actual champagne, there’s an impression of effervescence that’s hard to describe. How the heck did they do that? I’m not really tasting champagne though, or perhaps I am but I’m confusing it with something else because I tend to drink champagne that’s rather dry?

Still, I want to drink more of this and try to pin the tail on the champagne. If I do, I’ll bump the rating.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

Strawberry vanilla sounds really good to me right now….mmm…

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Sipdown no. 23 for the year 2014.

In this steeping I’m getting a lot more cocoa than my original note indicated. I prepared the tea the same way, so I’m not sure why.

I still get a little bit of throat bite with this one, but it’s not as pronounced as I remember it. There’s a freshness to the mouth feel after drinking that’s quite pleasant. Like a wake up call to my mouth.

I wonder if some of the difference can be attributed to the age of the sample. It was in a ziplock, and it still has a lot of aroma in the packet, but perhaps there’s some mellowing that has occurred.

I can’t buy every black tea, can I? So I think I have to make a tough call on this one. I’d happily drink it if offered again but I am going to make myself live without it on the shopping list, just because there are so many other wonderful Harney & Sons black blends that I love more.

ETA: I thought I’d prepared this the same as the original, but I may have increased the water to leaf ratio some. This could account for the lower “bite” factor. The aftertaste to this one is so pleasant it’s making me want to rethink my decision about the shopping list. But I think I have to stick with the hard choice, at least for now.

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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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