1179 Tasting Notes

Seems like my first encounters with those of the Leafspa teas that are left tend to be cold brews, just because each container has 4 oz of tea which is a lot in my world.

This actually made a pretty good cold tea. Though much of the magical green-ness of the tea is muted or lost in the cold, the buttery flavor translates better than I would have thought.

Today was a slow day for tea, because I spent the day cleaning the house. Please applaud at the end of my list of accomplishments:

1. took a ton of empty boxes to recycling
2. removed hard drives from old desktop computer and old backup server, and recycled the remains, plus some keyboards, old routers, old power supplies, printer toner cartridges, etc.
3. donated cat diapers and liners to animal shelter (yes, I had cat diapers in my garage; my last kitty before the three I have now became incontinent in her declining months and though I threw away the ones she actually used, I had some that never made it out of the package)
4. finished clearing space in garage
5. moved tubs of toys from family room (and dining room!) to garage and went through two of them with kids to decide what to keep, what to donate, and what to store (there are a ton more to go through)
6. sorted and filed or stored papers found during movement of toys as mentioned above

And then, now that we have moved most of the junk out of the family room we could see our fire place again, so we had a fire! And I cooked dinner.

I’ve been at this since 8:30 a.m. and it is now 9 p.m.

No more tea tonight. Tonight I’m having a couple of glasses of wine and hitting the sack. ;-)


That’s a productive day!


That’s a lot to do. Makes you feel good to reclaim space in your house. :)


Yes! Now to do more today! (I’m a bit sore, but it’s not as bad as I thought it might be).

carol who

I usually have to drink something like David’s Chocolate Rocket to get that kind of work done. I love the results of getting rid of clutter but hate the work involved. Congratulation!

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Sipdown no. 21 of 2016 (no. 232 total).

Not much to add to my previous notes on this one. It’s a nice tea, but not really an Earl Grey and not really creamy. More of a fruity floral, a la some of the Kusmi Russian blends.

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Sipdown no. 20 of 2016 (no. 231 total). A sample. This is a chunky blend, and the sample was really only enough to yield four cups. The BF was interested in trying this so I just made the entire thing.

In the packet I definitely see the apple and the almonds. The smell from the packet is very similar to that of T&H’s Amaretti Cookie, and I’m wondering whether it will turn out to taste like that. I hope so.

It has an unusual colored liquor. Peach, or maybe melon? A light yellowish-pink. The aroma is wonderful. Very like the Amaretti Cookie/Almond Biscotti/Brioche profile.

The flavor is way more interesting than the aroma would have led me to believe. There is citrus (lemon?) on the front end of the sip that rapidly dissipates and spreads out into a gently flavored tisane that is in fact quite reminiscent of the various almond pastry teas. But it’s not as simple as that; there’s also a freshness and lightness to the tisane that makes it extremely pleasant to drink late at night. It’s not something that sits heavy in the stomach. The cinnamon, fortunately, while tasteable, isn’t overpowering.

I’m really impressed by this one.

Flavors: Almond, Cinnamon, Citrus, Lemon, Pastries

Boiling 7 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 34 OZ / 1000 ML

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drank Japanese Gyokuro by Sanctuary T
1179 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 19 of 2016 (no. 230 total). The fourth sample in the pure tea sampler.

I haven’t had that many gyokuros. They sort of intimidate me because they’re so delicate and expensive, and because they have such individuated preparation instructions. I’m not entirely sure I did this correctly as there were not instructions included with my sample, but I got the water temperature and steeping time instructions from the internet, and I steeped it in the gaiwan since it seems you’re supposed to watch the leaves unfurl. The main parameter I’m not sure about is the ratio of tea to water. I used the entire sample, which was about 6.5 grams, in 100ml. The instructions I’d read on the internet said you could do 1-2 grams per 30ml, so I think this worked out about right. I steeped uncovered.

But gee, I expected to see that neon green radioactive color I’d seen with other gyokuros and I didn’t get that at all. I just got a generic yellow green tea color. The aroma is sweetly vegetal as I expected, and the flavor is similar to the aroma.

Frankly, though, the flavor I’m getting isn’t all that different from what I get from sencha. I wonder whether it’s the age of the tea that’s the issue, or whether I just didn’t make it correctly. I will say that the last sip, after becoming quite cool, had a distinct seaweedy flavor that I am guessing is umami.

Not sure how to rate this so I’m not going to.

Flavors: Seaweed, Vegetal

140 °F / 60 °C 2 min, 0 sec

i might not try this tea then… thanks though for the heads up :)


I have only had the Teavana gyokuro, but I love it. I usually steep it for 2 minutes at 140-150 degree Fahrenheit, like you did with this one, and get what tastes like a vegetal sencha, only sweeter and smoother. This one wasn’t sweet?


It was, just not noticeably more than a sweet sencha.


Cool. I’ll have to branch out into other gyokuros (if I can find some at a reasonable price, haha). It would be interesting to see how much they vary from one company to the next.

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Sipdown no. 18 of 2016 (no. 229 total).

I tried this at a lower temperature today, 195F, in the gaiwan using my usual 15 seconds first steep with an additional 5 seconds for each subsequent one. It makes a subtle difference in the first steep, bringing out more of the toffee note, which is quite nice. It’s an interesting tea, not what I have come to expect from a tieguanyin, but tasty nevertheless.

The empty cup smells strongly of toffee. Yum.


ooooh! toffee! :D

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drank Earl Grey Black by Teavana
1179 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 17. of 2016 (no. 228 total).

It remains a solid Earl Grey in my estimation, and one I’d be happy to drink again. I may end up with a small Teavana order when I run out of tisanes as I really like their Rooibos Tropica and Strawberry Lemonade and I could see including this, though there’s not all that much else among their current offerings (that hasn’t been discontinued) that I like enough to order.

And somewhere along the line, I hit the 600 mark for individual teas rated. I meant to call it out when it happened, but I forgot about it, and it’s tricky because I have some things in my log that put the count off that I can’t get rid of.

I’ve also finished binge watching Veronica Mars. Whatever will I do? (Answer: watch it again. It’s amazing what you notice the second time around that you didn’t notice the first. Like that every time you see Aaron Echolls in his car, he’s listening to seventies crap pablum, which cracks me up. Ventura Highway, Me and You and a Dog Named Boo. ROF,L.)

It was great to watch while going through papers from the last two years in the straighten the home office project. Which I’m also happy to announce is done, except for the few straggling pieces of paper I’m finding as I move on to other rooms in the house. Almost done with the garage. Next stop, the family room and then the kids’ room. I may be able to get to all of that before I start working a week from next Monday.
Evol Ving Ness

I love this paper project of yours. I think I may join you. And yay you!

By the by, you might want to take a look at Zen Tea Life and their tisanes. I have become a big fan.


I feel so much better just from the clean up I’ve completed so far, so I highly recommend it!

Evol Ving Ness

Today I will begin. Thank you for getting me started.


Have you tried the limeade twist from Teavana? I like it as well as the strawberry lemonade.


Nope, don’t think I’ve tried that one. I did try a lime tea at one point, a Numi one, and it was so tart/sour it sort of put me off of lime flavored teas. Is the limeade very tart/sour?


be sure to see my review of hysons earl grey… did not taste like earl grey at all :/


The limeade twist is very citrus, but there’s a lot of candied fruit in it like many Teavana blends, so it’s not super sour imo. The Numi one is just dried lime, and omg. I agree. So sour.

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Sipdown no. 16 of 2016 (no. 227 total).

So this not so happy thing happened.

I was looking forward to trying this sample, which I got when I got my yixing, for days. I even remembered that I’d had peppermint in the Breville last night and did an extra long rinse to get rid of the peppermint aroma so as to be sure it wouldn’t affect the flavor of this sample.

Alas, despite my efforts, I taste peppermint in this. Ugh.

The leaves were so pretty, dark and golden, “superfine” in texture (they weren’t kidding), and smelled so sweet. But I taste peppermint.

I can sort of make out a sweet honey note and a bready note, but mostly I taste peppermint.

And I didn’t win the powerball. Dammit. When I bought my ticket, I asked the woman to sell me the winning ticket, but she didn’t. Fraud!

And then there is the double whammy of David Bowie and Alan Rickman.

Not rating this, because peppermint.

I think I may go back to bed now.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML
Christina / BooksandTea

Ah, that’s sad. This is one of my favourites. It’s definitely a keeper.

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drank Sweet Dreams by Todd & Holland
1179 tasting notes

Backlogging from last night. Another tisane sample cracked open.

The BF’s tummy was upset and this looked like a promising tummy soother. It seemed to work for him.

Flavor wise, it’s mostly peppermint. The ginger and lemon are discernible, more ginger than lemon, but it’s more about the mint than anything else.

It was nothing special flavorwise, but gets big points for being soothing in a medicinal sort of way.

Flavors: Ginger, Lemon, Peppermint

Boiling 7 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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drank Hojicha by Kusmi Tea
1179 tasting notes

I didn’t recall that I had a couple of Kusmi green teas. I found them when I did the “inventory.” This is the first time I’ve tasted this one.

The brown roasty leaves smelled like fried rice in the tin. The tea has a ricey, roasty aroma that runs right up to nutty.

The liquor is clear and a light yellow with a coppery tinge.

It’s been a while since I had a hojicha that didn’t seem to taste like dust because it was past its prime, but this one, fortunately, kept well in its multiple layers of sealant (interior cellophane, tin, exterior cellophane). It’s tasty; less ricey than its aroma and nuttier, with a caramel note that is subtle but pleasant.

I’ll be sad when I’ve sipped down my Japanese teas. I’m still hesitant to eat sushi or buy any food products from Japan. No one is talking about the nuclear reactor anymore but the last I heard, it was still giving radiation off into the ocean. I haven’t googled it recently, though.

Flavors: Caramel, Nutty, Rice, Roasted

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 500 OZ / 14786 ML

Much as I hate to give up Japanese sencha, I worry about this too, especially since there’s been no word of an actual solution to the problem, and it appears that there’s little news coverage simply because no one knows what to do about it. Also, some of the actions of the Japanese government seem pretty shady, I know they raised the limit of what they considered “acceptable” radiation levels.


Yunomi is safe. They don’t sell products grown in affected areas. Or, well… At least, I trust them if they say that. They’re a reputable company.

I mean, if you drink tea from China, you might be consuming lead. It’s sort of a…pick your poison if you’re a regular tea drinker — and then don’t worry too much about it. Just enjoy the tea.


(And I say this as someone with a compromised immune system, stage III chronic kidney failure and a neuromuscular degenerative disaese affecting my mobility. I’m not a doctor, so I can’t give medical advice… But I’ve sort of taken an attitude that I don’t worry about something unless solid scientific research tells me I must.)


Yeah, I’ve had this discussion before about pesticides, etc. Of course, there are all kinds of things that could be in tea. I just have a phobia about radiation but not about those other things. :-)


Ah, understandable. I think my main phobia with tea is things I can see. So after hearing about someone finding a tooth pick in their shou, I’m sort of terrified of…rodent remains or something. Which wouldn’t hurt me. I just wouldn’t drink the tea. It’s just… Some things kind of ruin a thing forever for me, you know?

I don’t worry as much about pesticides, I think…probably because I’d rather drink chemicals than animal manure when it’s used on organic tea.

Are there this many possible concerns with coffee, I wonder?

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drank Classic Black by Art of Tea
1179 tasting notes

Trying this hot today. Nice earthy smell to the dry leaves. Dark reddish mahogany liquor, and an amazing aroma. At first, it was deep and chocolately, and then became something fruity, plums I think. But such a strong, fruity aroma, almost as strong as I’ve smelled in some flavored blacks. Pretty wild.

The flavor is smooth, and fruity/chocolatey. Almost reminiscent of chocolate covered cherries, but not fakey or overly sweet in the way those cherries are. There is some sweetness in the aftertaste, though. An almost brown sugary one.

The only negative to my palate is a tiny bit of bitterness at the finish, but it’s not a huge downside. Just enough to keep this out of the mid-90s.

I like this one a lot. Tasty and also versatile as a cold brew. I expect it would be awesome in chai as well.

Flavors: Cherry, Chocolate, Plums, Sugar

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

Mmm. Sounds nice.

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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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