1165 Tasting Notes


In the sample packet, the smell is to die for. Chocolate. Nom. Chocolate. Nom nom. Chocolate. Nom nom nom. Not really much else, just sweet, creamy smelling chocolate.

You can’t really see it in the picture, but the red rooibos is interspersed with long yellow dried petals. They’re pretty. They look sort of like fragments of crepe paper.

I had very high hopes that this would be some sort of caffeine free chocolate dream concoction that I could drink at night while watching The Biggest Loser. Just the illusion of calories.

Unfortunately, it was not to be. In the cup, the aroma is rooibos first, chocolate illusion after. As is the flavor. The chocolate isn’t bad as far as it goes. The rooibos isn’t a bad rooibos. It’s the balance that’s the issue for me. As with some other recent rooibos trials, the problem here is that the rooibos won’t shut up.

For me, if a rooibos is good, it’s a lot like a good waiter. You barely notice they’re there, you just notice that you’re not left wanting anything. They don’t barge in, they don’t totally ignore you. They’re just a very quiet presence that miraculously gets the job done.

This one isn’t quite there. Dang. Now what can I have while watching The Biggest Loser. Quick, before I head for the cookies!

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

Man, finding a good chocolatey tea is hard!


I watched it too! Was REALLY disappointed Koli won the $100,000 he went from looking like he was gonna murder someone to almost looking like he didn’t think he was gonna win… and those pants… I had a blended iced chai while watching it.

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drank Earl Grey Special by TeaFrog
1165 tasting notes

Getting close to the end of my TeaFrog samples. I think I have three more. This is one of them.

The dry mix is very pretty, the lemongrass is very green against the backdrop of the Ceylon and there are little flecks of blue where the cornflowers show through. There’s a light neutral color as well that looks like the lemon peel. I’m not really seeing jasmine, though it could be that some of the flecks that look like lemon peel are actually jasmine petals. It doesn’t have a strong scent of bergamot (or otherwise) in the packet.

The tea has a lemony aroma with a bergamot undercurrent. It has a lemony taste as well. A bright taste. The bergamot is pretty subdued, secondary to the lemon. I am not getting much in the way of jasmine.

It’s hard to say whether it’s tastes like an Earl Grey so much as a lemon black tea with bergamot? It does seem to me the lemon is the stronger taste of the two. It’s actually very nice; it’s different. I don’t think I’d buy it to fill an Earl Grey need. If I order some, it will simply be because I like it.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

Ooooo — I’ve got this one coming as one of my samples from the Select. Now my curiosity has ratcheted up a few notches :)


Okay, so just had my first cup and then I reread your note after posting mine. I wonder if our slightly different experiences is due to water temp. I’ve discovered that 205 is perfect for many flavored black teas — especially EGs. My favorite Rosy Early Grey has a harsh citrus-almost-lime bite to it when I tried it at boiling the first time. But once I lowered it to 205 it was super-yummy.


Hmmm. Interesting. I really only had enough sample for one shot in the Breville so I won’t be finding out whether that’s the issue unless I decide to order more. But I like the theory!


D’oh! And mmmm…Breville…::drools:: ;)

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drank Caribbean Breeze by Teavana
1165 tasting notes

Had the last little bit of this last night and decupboarding now.

It was enjoyable enough to put on a possible reorder list, though I’m not rushing out to buy more — particularly while I still have some Tazo Passion, which is similar.

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This sample packet contained a really interesting mixture. Bit chunky pieces of roasted chicory that looked like tree bark or mulch, red peppercorns, and what looked like little chocolate chips among a tan colored substance that must be the ginger. The dry mix smells like spicy mocha. It makes a thick looking brown liquor.

The aroma of the tisane smells like chocolate, coffee and pepper. I’m not really picking up on much ginger here. The taste is similar to the aroma. Lightly chocolately, lightly coffee-like, with a zing of pepper that stands out most of all. The ginger hangs on to the chicory and mellows it into a sweet coffee-like flavor with a ginger overtone.

It’s a really interesting flavor, one I haven’t come across in a tisane before. I could see wanting it every now and then, especially during colder months. It’s a little too unusual and slyly intense for more than occasional drinking, at least for me.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

Still in my sample basket, hopefully I’ll crack this one open soon…

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drank Chocolate Mint by TeaFrog
1165 tasting notes

Another TeaFrog sample from a prior Steepster Select. This was back before I started to shun rooibos. ;-) Actually, I don’t really shun it even now, I just have a lot more understanding of my own taste preferences with respect to it now than I used to.

This has the same basic flavor profile as The Necessiteas’ Peppermint Pattie, and yet, its rooibos is far more present. It’s more present in the nose of the dry mixture, in the aroma of the steeped tisane, and in the taste. It’s in the first position in all of those, followed by mint and then by chocolate.

The rooibos isn’t bad tasting as rooibos goes — it doesn’t have a lot of sawdust or pencil shaving qualities, but I can’t get away from the fact that it is the number one flavor. This is pretty much the exact opposite of what I am looking for in a rooibos blend, though I know I’m not typical.

So I prefer the Peppermint Pattie for this flavor combo in a rooibos. I didn’t think that one was perfect either, as the rooibos flavor played a little bit of hide and seek. But it was pretty good at the hiding part and gave the number one taste spot to the chocolate for the most part, followed by the mint.

This one isn’t really attempting to hide, which I’m sure is the preference of the true rooibos fan. It just isn’t mine.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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I ended up with another sample of this.

This time I cold brewed it for more like 36 hours and it made quite a difference. Much more flavorful and round.

It’s also really nice with food. Better, I think, with food than as a stand alone drink. I had it with pasta and marinara sauce and it went very nicely.

Bumping up a few points as I enjoyed it more this time around.

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The second in the British Blend Sampler. The web site’s description for the plain Russian Caravan says it has teas from India, China, and Formosa, so this must as well. There is some tippiness to the leaves. Also some twigginess. I wish my senses were sophisticated enough to be able to tell what’s what from the sight and smell of the leaves. I looked up Russian Caravan and Wikipedia says it is a blend of Oolong, Keemun and Lapsang Souchong.

Which is fascinating because after it steeps, it smells like Darjeeling to me. Doesn’t taste so much like it, though. There could well be oolong in this. The mouth feel is soft and silky, and there’s a nutty/stone fruit butteriness to the flavor. I don’t taste smoke except maybe barely in the finish, so if there is lapsang in this it’s a very small amount. I am thinking that what I smelled as Darjeeling is probably Keemun. It has a sort of grapey fruitiness.

The aftertaste is sweet and slightly buttery. I’m in yumsville, liking this one quite a bit.

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I’m having one of those “wah?” moments: there’s oolong in Russian Caravans? Wah?!?!? I guess that I’ve noticed some green leaves amongst many-a-Caravan, but never gave them much thought. I’m now really wanting to try a Caravan looking for the oolong!


This one was my fave in this collection- the smoke like a whisper-

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This is the first in the Upton British Blend sampler, and I was having a feeling of deja vu when I read what’s in it. River Shannon Breakfast Blend, also an Upton tea, though not part of the British Blend sampler, is also a mix of Ceylon and Assam. I was wondering how they’d be different. Proportions? Estates? Both? Neither?

When I looked at the Bond Street, I discovered one difference. It must be CTC, as the leaves look like coffee grounds. Or very tiny pebbles. River Shannon is Orthodox, so one part of the mystery solved. I can smell the Assam in the Bond Street’s dry leaves, but it doesn’t have that bakey smell I don’t like, fortunately.

It’s has a fairly dark orange-brown liquor with some red in there as well. It smells and tastes like a brisk black breakfast blend tea. Like a pretty standard brisk black breakfast blend tea, though with more depth of flavor and a fuller body than a restaurant grade tea, and certainly better than any teabag black tea I’ve tried.

I must remember to do a side by side tasting of this with River Shannon and see how they compare.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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drank Peppermint by Adagio Teas
1165 tasting notes

I tried this straight tonight and I’m going to try it mixed with spearmint and tarragon in a few minutes.

Straight, it was exactly what I’d hoped — a really fresh tasting, aromatic, naturally sweet peppermint. No dirt or earth taste, which was what marred the Upton peppermint for me and led me to drink it mostly mixed with other things.

This stands on its own well, and provides a comforting, tummy settling drink for bedtime.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec


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It has been a while since the Dammann Freres teas arrived and I’ve got so much tea to taste it’s taken me a while to get to writing about them, and partially because of that (or maybe because I didn’t realize it at the time I was picking things to sign up for before Doulton so graciously placed the order), I was not aware that three of the Dammann Freres teas I have include fig as an ingredient! This is, believe it or not, fig 3!

The leaves of this tea are so light in color and so green, I had to look it up to remind myself what kind of tea it was. I thought it might be a flavored green tea. But no, it’s a flavored black! It smells interesting, sort of like a perfume but not in a bad way. Citrus, flowers and — yeah, I can smell the fig! This time it is more of the pastry fig than the fresh, but still sweet and mouth watering.

The aroma has a fresh quality to it which is surprising when you consider the smell of the dry mixture. The tea is light bodied and fresh tasting, too. It has a quality in the taste that reminds me of the way Premier Figuier, the eau de toilette by L’Artisan, smells, with some citrus added in.

I need to try this again when I have a quiet moment. It’s a bit of a zoo here as it is almost bedtime for the younger set. But so far, I like.

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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