1166 Tasting Notes

drank Cafe Latte by The NecessiTeas
1166 tasting notes

I placed an order with The Necessiteas for the Bread Pudding, Coco La Ven (they were out of that one) and Strawberry Kiwi, and there were two samples I had yet to try, this one and a flavored oolong, so I had them toss them in. I’d actually tried to order this one before and they were out of it.

I’m reminded of Doulton’s post about what she described as her dysfunctional relationship with The Necessiteas. I have to say, it’s not her, it’s them. I have fallen into the same dysfunctional pattern. Place an order, don’t hear for a few weeks. Write a note, hear back in a few days that the package has shipped. Usually, by that time, at least one thing I’d ordered is no longer in stock and I get a refund to my paypal account. Seriously, I’m not sure it’s worth it. There are only a few things of theirs I like well enough to reorder in any case and if I didn’t have a compulsive streak I’d probably let it drop. As it is once I decide I like something enough to reorder it, I follow the web site for a restocking notice so that I can check that off the list.

This one is not going to be on that list. It’s not bad, really. The smell out of the sample packet is strongly of coffee beans. After steeping, the smell opens up some and I can get barley and chicory notes. The taste is pretty much a weak coffee flavor with a tea aftertaste. With milk, it’s more strongly of coffee than tea, so unless you’re just out of coffee and looking for a fill-in, it’s probably better to drink it unadulterated.

For my own taste, I’d just as soon drink a really nice cup of coffee instead. Or a really nice cup of tea. The weak hybrid thing is mildly interesting but now that my curiosity is satisfied I don’t see the need to do the dysfunctional dance to get more of this.

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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Started the morning with this one but didn’t get a chance to write about it. Had a nap, so I need to wake up and I’m having another cup now.

I have to say this house maintenance thing is more stressful than I’d hoped. Today we went to a lighting store because I want to replace the exterior lights and now I’m more confused than ever. This one looks good but you can’t put a motion sensor on it. That one looks good but you can’t put a dawn to dusk timer on it. This one looks awful but you can do anything you want to it. And are these even going to look good on the house? I mean, it’s a little hard to visualize while you’re there in the store and have to first visualize a larger version of what you’re looking at before you even get to visualizing what it looks like on the house. Ugh. And then I’m even wondering if I should pick these before the house gets painted. The painter said I should, but I’m not so sure. Double ugh.

Anyway. There’s an earthy black tea smell coming out of the can, very similar to that dry leaf earthy Assam smell I like. It’s sharper and less malty than the English Breakfast by LeafSpa I had yesterday, and the leaves are smaller and less tippy.

The liquor has a burnt orange/brown color with a small amount of red in it too. It’s that color I want in a sweater that I’ve seen in several other teas, notably GM’s Sinharaja.

The aroma is fruity and a little sweet. I get prunes more than plums, and something that is oddly like cola. (I’m not tasting the cola, though.) It has a crispness, a briskness to it, that is a refreshing quality for a wake up tea.

I think I prefer the English Breakfast, but I’m going to give this one a chance to grow on me.

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

Sorry about all the stress! Thank goodness for yummy tea :)

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I feel the need for some smoky tea.

It’s weird, it’s kind of like wanting a cigarette, though I can’t imagine that now after having quit about 14 years ago. I wonder if there’s nicotine in lapsang souchong. ;-) Golly, I hope not. It’s scary, because breathing in the smell of the dry leaves in the sample packet is rather like taking a long drag. It’s calming. They’re very smoky. A little salted meat smelling as well. I feel like I could tap my cheek and watch a chain of tiny O’s float skyward after inhaling this.

After steeping, the aroma is significantly calmer. Much less like smoked meat, or even smoked wood. There’s a piney, woody smell that is mellower than pure smoke. The color of the liquor is somewhat lighter than I expected. A light to medium amber.

The tea is gently smoky, not intense or tarry. It’s been a while since I had the GM lapsang, but this is similar in feel and character to the way I recall the GM lapsang being. It’s pleasantly sweet at the finish and in the aftertaste as well. There are woody, piney tastes and something bread like at the end of the sip.

Maybe it’s just the mood I’m in today, maybe it’s just been a long time since I had lapsang and was craving it, but I’m loving this right now. It’s really hitting the spot.

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

Nah I just think it’s the similar flavor. I can see where this tea could be a stumbling block for ex smokers lol.


Congrats on being an ex-smoker for such a long time! ::high five::

As an ex-smoker myself, the only way I was able to quit (almost a year now) was using the scary Chantix. I had a great Dr. who had perscribes it regularly and of all the scary side effects listed she said that the only consistent and common was nausea. I can confirm that. I couldn’t even finish the starter pill set. And you know how they say that you can smoke the first week of being on it? I made it 4 days before I wanted to throw up (nearly did on my final one). The thought of cigarettes turns my stomach still to this day.

All that’s to say that I have absolutely no problem with smoky teas. :)


Campfire is very different from cigarettes. I LOVE the smell of campfire (not so much the taste in tea though), but puke at the smell of cigarettes.

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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
1166 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
1166 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
1166 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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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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