953 Tasting Notes


When I opened the tin, the dry leaves smelled very familiar. I wondered where I’d smelled that sort of smell before. Thinking it might have been in the LeafSpa Yunan Gold, I opened up that tin as well to do a side by side sniff test. There is a similarity, but the Yunan Gold is a stronger, purer smell. This one has a more subdued smell. Still, I’m wondering if there isn’t some Yunan Gold in this English Breakfast. (Hey, you got your chocolate in my peanut butter! No, you got your peanut butter in my chocolate!)

The leaves are large, dark and tippy, though not as tippy as the Yunan Gold leaves. As with the Yunan Gold leaves, they are very attractive.

The tea brews up very dark, a clear, chestnut leaning toward mahogany color, with some nice red tones. The aroma is malty and sweet, and has a slight cocoa note.

It has a maltiness to the taste, as well, but isn’t as sweet as I’d expected from the aroma. I don’t get smoke, really. Maybe a tiny hint of it, but this isn’t what I’d call a smoky tea. It is smooth, and medium bodied, leaning toward full bodied, with a silky mouth feel.

It’s nice. It definitely makes the English Breakfast semi-finals.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

LOL to the chocolate/peanut butter shennanigans :D

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Not sure why, but the inside of my mouth is feeling a little sore. I hope I’m not getting sick. I felt a little achy yesterday, I was really dragging on my run today (of course it was ridiculously hot which could have something to do with it) and I know there’s something going around. The 4 year old was visited by the puke fairy Sunday night. Neither of my kids are big pukers, thankfully, so I’m hoping it was the stomach virus I’m told is on the loose around here. And I’m hoping I don’t get it.

This is my last TeaFrog sample from both sample orders and so something of a milestone. I just placed my order for those things from both sample sets that I liked enough to get more of and I didn’t put this on the list. But now I’m second guessing myself. Initially I didn’t think it was anything special, but then again I don’t think I’m tasting it properly because of my mouth issue. I will say that as I sit here typing, I’m finding the aftertaste from the second steep of this really wonderful. It’s sweet, almost sugary, with a very light, very subtle essence of slightly roasty vegetable that almost isn’t there.

I love the way this looks, too. The eyebrows are adorable. Like tiny green commas; almost like green caraway seeds. I can’t smell the dry tea because of the fruit smell-impregnated sample packet. But I’m having a lot of fun looking at it.

I’ve experimented with different times on this one. I started at 1:30, then went down to 1 for a resteep. Then with the rest of the sample I started at 2. All at 175 degrees.

Right now I’m drinking the 2 minute steep. The liquor is pale yellow, basically clear, with some visible solute but not nearly as much as I typically see in sencha, for example. It smells delicately and sweetly vegetal with a dab of butter and an interesting almost floral note.

At two minutes I’m getting a flavor that seems like it would be due to the pan fried nature of the leaves, or perhaps I’m just projecting. But it’s a lightly carmelized vegetal flavor with something dusky at the finish.

The deliciousness of this tea, I’m discovering, isn’t necessarily immediately apparent. I almost wrote it off because it didn’t have a strong initial flavor. I was thinking, oh no, one of those green teas that is indistinguishable from plain hot water. But as it turns out, the lack of seriously strong vegetal flavor initially (reminiscent of drinking the run off from your steamed vegetables at dinner) is part of the charm of this tea and there is a lot of flavor if you’re patient enough to linger over it.

Dammit. I wish I had stuck this in my order. Now I’ll have to wait until I have enough reorders to merit free shipping, and since I just ordered pretty much everything else I like of TeaFrog’s that is bound to take a while. Sigh.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec

Sorry about this missed order opportunity — I hate it when that happens :(

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drank Asian Mint by TeaFrog
953 tasting notes

This sample was a free sample as opposed to a purchased sample.

I forgot that when you place an order with TeaFrog they ask if you’d like to choose a sample, so I put samples of all the teas I wanted to try in my cart. I hadn’t picked this one because it’s a green/black blend, and I have a black/green blend moratorium in effect. But faced with the alternative of repeating a sample or trying something different, this was the most appealing of what was left.

I steeped like a green, per the instructions. And I got a minty flavored tea, where the mint is the most definite flavor and the tea flavor is mostly the duskiness of gunpowder. The liquor color is that light orange that’s between green and black, but I don’t really get a black tea flavor. I can smell it ever so slightly in the tea’s aroma.

There’s nothing wrong with this tea. It’s just that it’s not enough to make me break the green/black moratorium. If I were going to choose a similar tea, I’d probably pick the GM Vanilla Mint over this just because the vanilla adds a flavor and texture that appeals to me more than the straight mint in this blend.

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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Closing in on the last of the TeaFrog samples. I have this and two more left, I think.

Wow. The ingredients say pink rose petals. But I don’t have those. I have entire BUDS in my sample packet. Small, but fully formed, complete with sepals, and looking lovely next to the long twisty leaves. I’m smelling the fruity package thing I smell with all the TeaFrog samples, but also some coconut.

The liquor is a clear, light yellow and smells of vanilla and coconut. It’s hard to say which dominates. It seems to move back and forth between the two. I’m not getting recognizable rose scent or tea scent for that matter.

I’ll just say now that one of the things I appreciate about TeaFrog is that with an exception or two, they’re pretty self-aware in their descriptions of their teas. This goes for naming, too. Coconut Vanilla White is the right name for this tea, in the right order. The coconut comes first in the taste, then the vanilla. I get the tea more on a second steep than on the first, and it is mild, slightly sweet and a little earthy.

This is really tasty. It’s pretty sweet, and I think in general I prefer the blueberry white which isn’t quite as sweet and is more unusual (at least for me). Possibly I have that overall impression because I’ve had a lot more coconut and certainly a lot more vanilla teas than I’ve had blueberry ones, so I’ve already experienced successful blends with coconut and vanilla. But I can certainly see drinking this as a light dessert or a comforting sweet afternoon pick me up.

185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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drank Green Ginger by Tazo
953 tasting notes

I am doing an internal happy dance because I’ve basically put this one to bed. I have one more cup’s worth or so left from the initial bagged tea stash. It was one of the first I drank when I started this adventure last February, and one of the first I took an active dislike to. I kept drinking it to see whether that would change. Although I got used to it, I can’t say it grew on me. Or I could, but I’d have to end the comment with “like a fungus.”

In truth there’s no ready explanation for why I should dislike this tea as much as I do. After drinking my way through more than a box of it I can say I can taste pretty much all of the ingredients, so that’s not the problem. I think the main problem is either in the ginger or in the green tea and I’m going to go with the ginger. (The pear is subtle enough that it can’t be objectionable by any standard.) The ginger doesn’t have that fresh, sharp, ginger aroma or flavor, nor does it have a particularly sweet or candy-like taste. Either would have been an improvement.

The ginger here seems to me to be tired. And stale (not literally). Like it is mustering all its strength to exert power and so doesn’t have the will left to try to taste good. It certainly is powerful. It all but pushes the green tea taste out the window.

I’m not at all sorry to see this go. Happy dance! Happy dance!


I shall join you with the dance of happiness! ::dance, dance, dance:: :D

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In the tin, the leaves smell strongly of bergamot, but fortunately strongly does not equate to perfumey in this instance.

After steeping the tea smells sweet and malty and the bergamot has all but receded into the wings. There’s a faint, orangey smell but not a lot of bergamot in the aroma.

It makes a return in the taste, but not in an overpowering way. The tea is fairly smooth and is mild but flavorful. It has some natural sweetness, but it doesn’t taste as malty as it smells.

Basically this tastes very similar to the Blue Knight Special by TeaFountain in terms of the balance of flavors. The main difference is that the TeaFountain has a lot of rough edges, whereas they’ve been filed down here for the most part (there’s still a sneaky little bite at the back of the throat that can happen sometimes but it’s not consistent). The mouth feel has some substance to it, which I like.

It’s a very no nonsense Earl, no variations, nothing frilly. A very purely Earl Earl. But fortunately lacking the major thing that can ruin an Earl Grey for me — overpowering, perfumey, volatilely alcoholic bergamot.

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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drank Pink Grapefruit by Teas Etc
953 tasting notes

I got this sample with my first Teas Etc. order, and on my continuing quest to reduce my samples I decided to try it this morning.

In the packet the dry leaves have a sweet citrus smell. It’s a sweet grapefruit smell. It reminds me of how my mom used to serve grapefruit for breakfast. Sliced in half with sugar sprinkled over it, eaten with a “grapefruit spoon.”

It brews to a light brandy color and smells like a grapefruit! The tea is mild and smooth and has a substantial mouth feel. I can’t tell what kind of tea it is from the flavor. It could be a mild, non-smoky keemun or maybe a mild yunnan. There is a sweet citrus flavor that blends nicely with the tea and a surprising grapefruit aftertaste.

I would not have picked this to try. I like grapefruit ok, but it’s not a favorite of mine. I’m glad I got a chance to taste this though. It’s actually surprisingly delightful. It might even be delightful enough to encourage me to order a small tin.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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A sample from the original sample order. It was in my “white tea” box, or rather carton, and as I’ve mentioned I seem to have a hard time figuring out when to drink white teas so they tend to get short shrift. I’ll be trying to make it up to them over the next few days.

I’m not following the TeaFrog directions. Instead, I’m using the Breville suggested temperature and steeping time for white tea.

In the packet there is a smell that could be blueberry. It’s definitely fruity, and it also smells vaguely like incense. The leaves are stupendously large and twisty, with (my favorite) cornflowers very bluely strewn through the mix.

The tea aroma definitely has a blueberry note, with that incense one as well. It’s slightly wine-like, too. The liquor is a gorgeous tawny gold color.

Yum. It reminds me a little of the GM Persian Melon white tea, mostly because it’s a flavored white, I guess. But it’s different, too. It doesn’t have the fermented winey note in the taste that the GM had. The tea base is earthy rather than winey. It definitely tastes of blueberries, though. It’s got much more berry flavor than the only other (somewhat) blueberry I have to compare it to, Tazo Berryblossom White. I eat a ton of blueberries, usually with breakfast cereal, and this has almost the same aftertaste as the real thing.

Though I hesitate only because I am having trouble finding time to drink the white tea I have now, I think this one is a keeper.

185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec

4 min sounds reasonable, but 185 seems HOT!


Yeah, there appears to be quite a variation in opinions of what the steeping temp should be. I have basically given up trying to get it right. Lol.


Hmmm a good blueberry tea! I might have to try this one.

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drank Paradise Green by Lupicia
953 tasting notes

Another Lupicia sample sachet pyramid that accompanied me to work. This time, I’m going to use half the water I used with the previous Lupicia-sachet-at-work attempts which came out weak. Yet again I forgot to bring a thermometer to work (I forgot my pedometer today as well) but the water out of the coffee maker spigot is seeming cooler today, so seems like a good time to try a green.

Smells very, very fruity in the sachet. Like the Lush flavor of 5 gum. I get pineapple/mango/citrus and a green scent from the tea underneath. The picture on this page has gorgeous colors, which I can’t see and I can’t blame their failure to appear on the pyramid. I don’t think I’d miss those colors through a slightly misty looking mesh bag. Either it was the luck of the draw in terms of what got deposited into my sachet, or they’ve changed the blend since that picture was taken.

I can already smell the difference less water makes in the aroma of the tea. It’s more concentrated than I got with previous Lupicia sachets. The green, chlorophylly, somewhat vegetal aroma of the tea dominates and the fruit fragrances are much more dilute after steeping.

The tea is sweet! Not bitter at all. Quite tasty. The fruit flavors taste stronger than they smelled, though they don’t obliterate the taste of the tea. I’d say this is a successful fruit flavored green tea, and I don’t say that lightly having tried quite a few which I thought didn’t succeed, some more spectacularly than others.

Still, I’m not wild about flavored green teas unless the flavoring is jasmine, or unless it’s a very well done mint. This is in the category of something I’d drink, happily, if it was given to me, but something I wouldn’t be likely to choose to buy.

1 min, 30 sec

Do you put a lid on your tea cup when you steep? It actually results in a deeper flavor no matter what you are steeping. I actually did a side by side with Lupicia’s Paradise Green before and the covered one was better.


Not at work, as I don’t have lids for my cups at work and my preparation methods at work are in general more haphazard because of distractions, etc. At home if I steep in a cup I use a Finum filter, which has a lid, and I generally put the lid over the filter.

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Finishing up more of my “starter” tea bags and saying goodbye to this box.

My previous notes on this seem accurate even after drinking through a box of it. It’s a mild, tasty, inoffensive floral tea. Though I likely won’t buy this again, I enjoyed it enough to find myself motivated to try other white/osmanthus blends.

I do find it interesting that now as I’m closing out my original group of bagged teas, what I mostly have left are the whites. They seem the hardest to fit into the span of a day so they get drunk less frequently. Blacks are good for morning, oolongs and greens for afternoon, decafs and tisanes for evening.

Where should I fit the whites in? Late afternoon, early evening?


I have the same problem as you with white teas! I seem to pull them out in late afternoon if I’m in the mood for a cuppa but don’t want much caffeine.


I’ve also had that problem! I think that either late afternoon (worried about getting to bed at a decent hour) or early evening (don’t care how late I’m up) are valid times. I also like them iced so late afternoon seems just about right :)

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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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