1118 Tasting Notes


What an interesting smell this dry leaf mixture has. I can definitely smell the cashew, something creamy and buttery (must be the white chocolate), and there’s also a sharp note that I can’t identify but that I’m sure is a flavoring component. I’m not getting what Ricky smelled, but I can see where his comment came from. I can’t really explain it well. The best I can do is to say the interaction between the cashew smell and the white chocolate smell makes the cashews smell different than straight cashew would.

The white chocolate chips startled me at first as they are huge. Well really, they’re the size of normal chocolate chips, but most teas that I’ve had with chips in them have the tiny ones so these seemed staggeringly gynormous by comparison. At first I thought they were cashews buried in the black tea, until I scooped one out and could see its shape. The cashews look like your basic cashew halves, split down the middle. The tea in this one has large, long, pretty dark leaves.

The tea liquor looks like weak coffee with milk in it. It’s virtually opaque and a tan/orange color. I am guessing this is the influence of the (now melted) white chocolate chips. It has an unexpected aroma. Fruity. Fruity surrounding the cashews. Though the tea doesn’t have much in common with it really, I made an association with Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut bars.

The flavor is just what it purports to be, and in a really satisfying way. The cashew flavor is subtle and powerful at the same time. Not quite sure how that happened, but it did. I haven’t had cashew flavored tea before and I was concerned I’d be getting more of a generic nut flavor, but no, this is most definitely cashew. The white chocolate surrounds it without blotting it out. I can even taste the tea under it all, though it certainly isn’t the main event but rather the stage on which the event takes place.

I threw a little salt in as LiberTEAS suggested. Made a little difference, but not as much as I’d expected. This may be, however, because I’d just eaten pretzels and so had already had the effect of added salt before adding more. :-)

This is a very nice tea that accomplishes what it sets out to do and I give it a lot of credit for that. White chocolate isn’t my favorite flavor and I think if this had had regular chocolate instead I would have been reduced to speechlessness.

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It’s ok, Ricky smells weird things- this is the same guy that said Adagio’s cocomint smelled like nail polish LOL! :)

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drank Caramel by Kusmi Tea
1118 tasting notes

I’ve been wanting to try this one for a while now and today seemed like the day. This is also my first Kusmi, so I’m excited.

The dry leaves smell wonderful, but surprisingly it’s not just any old caramel I’m smelling. It’s buttery and nutty and… just yum. It must be that French thing. They can make anything elegant. That’s what this smell is: elegant. This isn’t your Halloween candy caramel. It’s a caramel from a very high end box of candies, indeed.

The tea’s aroma is mostly that same, very buttery and nutty caramel with a vanilla note. It steeps to a lighter color than I’d thought it would, but a pretty one. A sort of rosy amber.

I’m tasting a sweet, smooth, caramel-laced tea, with an extra caramel boost at the tail of the sip and it is terrifically comforting.

Now. How does this compare to Caramel-Toffee by Dammann Freres? Gosh, I might have to try them next to each other to say for sure. They’re both really delicious. I suspect the Dammann Freres may be creamier and that it may ultimately win out, but it may be one of those things where they’re similar but just different enough so that you can’t really choose one over the other and it’s really about what mood you’re in (like Florence and The Du Loup).

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num num num! :-D


have you tried my caramel?

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drank China Green Tips by Tazo
1118 tasting notes

Drinking the last of this tonight. It remains the best bagged straight green tea I’ve tried (whole leaf version). I don’t forsee buying more as I have discovered Chinese green loose leaf teas I prefer, but this is one of the better choices if one is in need of a bagged green tea. I don’t know whether it is available in whole leaf other than in Starbucks stores and I haven’t tried the non-whole leaf version.

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drank Colonille by SerendipiTea
1118 tasting notes

Tea party @ Rabs’ house! (Virtually speaking…)

It’s really pretty late for me to be having caffeine but tomorrow being a holiday and all I’m throwing caution to the wind. I had a cup of this earlier, but then I went for a run, ate dinner, put kids to bed, etc. before writing a note and I thought I’d better refresh my recollection. :-)

I’ve had a couple of really outstanding vanilla flavored black teas, some that were fine, and some that were pretty awful. This one is definitely at the high end of the spectrum, though I don’t think it passes Mariage Freres Black Orchid or Samovar Vanilla Dian Hong.

I bought a little tin of it from SerendipiTea, and it’s adorable. It’s the shape and just about the size of a chewing tobacco tin (not that I have one handy to compare it to, it just reminds me of that), but probably has a smaller circumference. The dry leaves have a vanilla smell along ice cream lines. Creamy rather than beany. There’s a dusky tea smell underneath.

The tea smells creamy rather than beany, too. Very pleasing aroma. Surprisingly, the taste isn’t as ice creamy as I would have thought. It’s smooth, but it has a sort of sneaky intensity to the vanilla flavor. You don’t realize it’s as vanilla-y as it is until you sit with it for a bit. The vanilla flavor really comes out in the aftertaste if you breathe in through your mouth after sipping.

On the problem of cocoa: yeah, I get some, more in the taste than in the aroma. I find that there’s a very fine line between chocolate and vanilla flavoring sometimes, particularly if they are leaning toward less sweet. I generally think of them as opposites, having been trained that way from an early age (do you want chocolate ice cream? or vanilla? black? or white?) but when you think about it, they’re both from seeds. More specifically from beany, poddy, plant things. So why shouldn’t there be some similarity? In any case, the more intense the vanilla, the more it seems to me to have chocolate overtones. With chocolate, it’s a little more difficult to make a generalization, but I have found vanilla notes in chocolate on a number of occasions.

I like this one. Really. So what to do here?

I’m going to solve the rating question by bumping up Samovar and Mariage Freres slightly, to give what I think is an appropriate space between them and this on the rating scale, which will enable me to give this a slightly higher rating than I would have otherwise.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

I have to try the Mariage Freres Black Orchid! I love Samovar’s – I think it tastes like a boozy treat!! I have a handful of different vanilla teas in my cupboard and they are all so different – I don’t understand why vanilla is equated with plain and boring!?!? :)


Fantastic note! I think that I was having mini-writers’ block and just couldn’t break down this tea. I also think that I’m really starting to fall in love with vanilla teas — who knew?


Agreed to both of you! Vanilla has way more permutations than people give it credit for and when it’s done well it is amazing.

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Finished up the last bags of this this evening. It’s a good one, not quite up there with the Chinese Breakfast, and not as good as the loose leaf genmaichas I’ve been trying lately, but for a bagged green tea it is pretty darn good. I’ve been drinking it a lot today and it’s a pretty consistent mild, savory taste from cup to cup. It’s almost as though there’s a little salt in there with the toasty rice, though I doubt it as otherwise it would make me thirsty and it doesn’t.

I’d buy this again if I found myself needing a bagged green tea and it was available.

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So my older son learned to ride a bike without training wheels today, on his very first try. I remember it taking me weeks. Maybe the human species has evolved? In any case, I was amazed. Now if he can just learn to start himself off, we’ll be cooking with gas.

To celebrate, we took the kids to Jamba Juice, where I noticed for the first time that there were Mighty Leaf teas available. And I saw this. I believed it to be Mighty Leaf from the way the menu was set up, but after reading further on the web site, I am now fairly sure it is a Jamba Juice brand.

In any case, it was pretty tasty. A good amount of chocolate, and spices strong enough to show through the chocolate. The bike rider asked to smell it and announced it smelled like gingerbread cookies.

Pretty much right on target.

Boiling 5 min, 15 sec

I thought you were gonna say he asked to try it:) I’ve never been to Jamba Juice, is this made from a powder, concentrate, or loose leaf? Even if it’s a concentrate, I think I must try. Then cry because it has no cayenne lol.


Shame on you Morgana =D I did some research and found the nearest Jamba Juice is 2 hrs away from me, but there are 3 in Seattle, WA and I’m gonna be there in a week and a half and then again in Sept so I think I may need to track one down. The prickly pear tea drink is calling my name AND… they have matcha!=D Looks like I’m not the only one that likes the matcha/OJ combo:) And it also appears (from their ingredient list) that you don’t use some weird presweetened matcha “mix” like starbucks does. YAY! I may need to cut down to a 12oz Perfectly Chocolate Chai Tea Latte- their 16oz (the same volume I make at home) has 150 calories and .5g more fat than my version! I’d gain an extra lb in less than a month if I drank one daily like I do my current chai habit. Not to mention I’d probably go broke just as quick lol.


Unclear how it is made. I couldn’t watch them make it because I was tending to kids who had already received their mango Jamba Juice drinks, were spinning on the stools at the counter, and needed watching. I had the smaller size too, seemed the responsible thing to do.


Oh, and he did ask to try it. But his normal energy level is such that imagining him caffeinated is pretty scary.


Awwwwww! :)

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drank 7 Parfums by Dammann Freres
1118 tasting notes

This is another tea from the Dammann Freres group tea ordering project Doulton put together. I started laughing when I read the ingredients. This is indeed the fourth tea from Dammann Freres I’ve tried with fig as an ingredient. Fig. 4!

Amazingly, the dry leaves smell like peach even though there is no peach flavored anything identified as an ingredient. I can get fig as well. I had to look up what pitanga is, and if it smells like cherry, I can find that as well. Ironically, what I’m not getting is a whole lot of citrus, which, one would think, would be the main event since there is lemon, bergamot and orange in this. It’s definitely in there, but it isn’t in-your-face.

The aroma of the tea also reminds me, inexplicably, of peach. Through some weird synergy of the ingredients, that’s what I smell. I can pick out the individual fragrances as well, even the rose.

The word that came to me when I was thinking of how to describe the taste is “French” which I realize isn’t very helpful. It’s a complex flavor; like its name, a well-blended perfume that doesn’t have one particular note sing out, but if you’re willing to spend the time putting your mind to each flavor you can find it there and, more interestingly, find how it interacts with the others. That’s what I think of when I think of French perfume.

It’s a tea I think would taste particularly fine on a fall day when the air is just starting to get a crispness in it. It’s not heavy, but it has a depth to it that may feel too heavy for spring and summer consumption.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

Now that I’ve actually sampled some French teas (hooray!) I can say that you nail it on the description. Looking at the ingredients you might think “cacophony” but it truly is a “symphony.” ::dreamy sigh::

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This is the fourth and last of the teas in the British Blend sampler. I have to say I really like the little tins Upton uses for its sampler sets. They’re very cute.

The darjeeling owns the smell of the dry leaves here, along with a little smokiness that must be from the Keemun. Fruity and smoky. Yum. The Ceylon seems to be coming out more in the steeped tea’s aroma. I am getting that sort of berry undercurrent I’ve found in other Ceylons.

The tea is flavorful and medium bodied bordering on full with a mouthfeel that is thicker than water but not thick enough to feel like it’s coating your throat. I didn’t try it with additives yet. It doesn’t really need it, at 3 minutes of steeping. There’s nothing harsh or bitter about it. It has some astringency.

It’s deceptively simple tasting. It seems to me sort of a Rorschach inkblot of black teas. If you want to find a chocolate note in here, I think you can. Vanilla, probably. Fruit? Definitely. Nut, I think so. Smoke? At tad. Wood? Some. Earth, probably. Name some other things you typically find in tea and if you let your mind wander during the tasting you can probably convince yourself it’s there. At least until you’re more highly caffeinated than I am this morning, as this is my first caffeine of the day.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

The leaves will look up and shout “steep us” and I’ll whisper…….no.


great watchmen ref’s!

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drank Thé du Loup by THE O DOR
1118 tasting notes

My 300th tasting note? Really? Man, they accumulate fast. Lol.

Clue No. 4 [This would have been the last clue, if Rabs hadn’t figured out my mystery with only three! Awesome!]

Surprised I’m the first to write a note on this as it appears to be the flagship tea of The O Dor.

As a fan of Harney & Sons Florence, I was particularly curious about this tea as it’s also a chocolate and hazelnut flavored black.

The leaves smell different. The Wolf smells more like what I’d expected of Florence and been pleasantly surprised not to find: Frangelico and chocolate. Florence has a true nut smell, rather than a liqueur. But the liqueur of the Wolf is marvelous smelling in its own way. There are large nut fragments visible in the tea.

Steeped, the tea produces a truer nut smell with a chocolate undercurrent.

It’s a different taste than Florence. Though I’m not doing a side by side tasting, from memory I’d say it’s subtler, with less pronounced chocolate. That is both a minus and a plus, as it is naturally sweeter prior to milk and/or sweetening additives than Florence is and makes a really delicious drink plain — but the trade off is that it is less chocolatey overall.

I’m still liking Florence in the top spot, but this is a strong contender and one I think can coexist nicely for those times a straight up chocolate/hazelnut is calling.

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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Clue No. 3 “Full Moon” to those of you who are Francophobes.

If the title of this note means nothing to you, and you’re interested in learning about my little game, please read my tasting note at:


for an explanation of the game, and my note at


for the second clue.

Now, on to the tea!

I am coming to realize that I have a weak spot, a very big weak spot indeed, for cornflowers in tea. They’re just so blue and lovely, in among the leaves. They go well with every color, but for some reason I find them particularly fetching in black tea. This has them, as well as some brown textures which I’m guessing are almond pieces and maybe some vanilla bean pieces as well. An aesthetically pleasing dry mix. It smells strongly of sweet almonds, leaning toward Amaretto rather than the nuts themselves. There’s another strong sweet smell as well, which I can’t really identify as vanilla because of the strength of the almond fragrance, but which, it stands to reason, is what I’m smelling.

It brews to a slightly cloudy chestnut color that smells much nuttier than liqueur-like. Almonds and vanilla. Yeah, I get that. Also get something that reminds me very vaguely of cinnamon and maybe even anise.

The taste is quite nice. I haven’t had a lot of almond teas so I don’t have a lot to compare this to, and the other one that comes to mind also had chocolate in it which is a definite thumb on the scale. But I’m enjoying it, and I am finding myself thinking of what it would taste like with just a tad of milk, or sweetened up just a bit. Or maybe even with some salt to bring out the nut, as LiberTEAS has suggested with other teas in the past. Almond is the predominant flavor here, and it is pretty true to the nut itself. The aftertaste is amazingly like what you get after having cracked open an almond and chewed its inner meat into oblivion. The tea supports this well, but is definitely second violin.

I’m loving Mariage Freres for the most part. They have the perfume of the dry leaves down like no one else for flavored blacks. Mariage me, freres!

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

I think that I’m either gonna kick myself when someone figures this out, or I’m not gonna have a clue. :P


I’m a little worried that it may be too obscure. But I’ll do what I can to leave a bread crumb trail that may at least make for good search engine fodder in the end :-).


Did those zany Germans turn Twilight into an opera? ;)

I’ve tried the search engine (starting with clue #2) and so far nuffink. I think at this point I’m really hoping that I at least know something about your obscure geek answer ;)


The Moon by Carl Orff ?


The Beast Within (the Sierra game)?


Ooooooh, Rabs, you’re good. Yes, it was Gabriel Knight II: The Beast Within. I don’t even have to give clue four!! (Bowing before the Queen of Geekdom)

Meghann M

Lol at the germans making a twillight opera. That’s where my thoughts were headed when I put the three tasting notes together. Congrats rabs to getting the answer before the 4th note!


Congrats Rabs! yea i was thinking twilight opera in german and it was a weird thought


Mwahahaha! It’s sorta sad how very pleased I am to have gotten it :D

I had Sierra on my mind and thought I’d google it since I was a big Sierra fan back in the day. I never did get to play the Gabriel Knight games (my parents thought that they were too mature for me at the time). I almost went with Phantasmagoria.


Congrats Rabs! Have to admit i wasn’t even close in my guesses…


Wow! Grats Rabs! Yeah, I never would have gotten this one (I am bad at point and click adventures)


Thank you all! I really loved the Kings Quest and Space Quest games. I thought that they were the most amazing things ever. When the second Kings Quest came out, and the flags on top of the castle “waved” in the air I thought that video graphics couldn’t get more advanced ;)

Oh, and no, my parents wouldn’t let me get Phantasmagoria either :P I can’t blame them on that one, though.


And for those who haven’t the foggiest what I’m talking about: here’s a nice montage of almost all the ways that you could die in Kings Quest 1. And yes, I pretty much died every single way possible ::shakes fist at the rock crushing::


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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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