1165 Tasting Notes


I got froth!

I understand what I was supposed to do now, went out and watched a video. I wasn’t whisking fast enough. Also understand why I thought the color would be lighter. With the froth, it’s more of a sea green than a pool table felt green.

Really yum and healthy feeling/tasting. It’s like drinking shots of wheatgrass only tastes a whole lot better and is a far more pleasing aesthetic experience.

And the chasen reminds me of my dad’s shaving brush in a kind of sideways way, which is kind of a sweet memory as well. :-)


Yes, the foam is definitely well- seafoam. Makes sense:) What I don’t like about some videos is they don’t give you exact amounts. I like exact amounts. You do know you’re not gonna sleep tonite right? lol I say this as I’m contemplating a matcha smoothie myself… um… lol:)


Yummm frothy matcha! Lol


Oh yay, I was looking forward to reading your note on this! By the way, I just use a small strainer by OXO to sift my matcha, and it works really well. Glad you got it to foam :)


Thanks! I placed an order with O Cha and ordered a sifter as part of that order. I don’t know whether it would have made a difference with this, though — it didn’t really seem to need sifting. No clumps or anything, seemed very smooth. Will be interesting to play around with this more. I was so focused on the process the first couple of times I wasn’t as focused on the taste.


I’m finding that ceremonial grade matchas are the only ones that really benefit from sifting which seems backwars to me. But then again maybe my constant usage of my hands and wrists pushing my chair have given me turbo wrists when it comes to whisking- which is funny cuz I’m always so afraid of whisking too hard in fear of busting my chasen.


the need for sifting should not seem backwards – since sifting is part of the art of making matcha, sort of like allowing some time to steep is part of the art of making tea.

Shanti: I use the same thing – I just have a small strainer I got from the utensil aisle from the grocery store – it’s not even from OXO – just a cheap strainer, but it works. A tea strainer would work also.

Matcha just needs a little aeration to get the most out of it.

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I had matcha!

I think.

Now I have anxiety. ;-)

I finally have all my implements (except the sifter), so I decided to give it a try. But since I’ve never had it before, and have never even seen it before in real life, I have no idea whether I did it right. I tried to follow instructions but I have to confess I sort of winged it. I just added water until it was about half way up the chawan.

I was amazed at what it looked like. It was the color of the felt on a pool table or maybe a little darker; I thought it would be lighter colored? I didn’t get froth. Was I supposed to get froth? Like meringue froth, the kind that peaks and stands up? (Sort of doubt it, I didn’t get that kind anyway. More like a few bubbles around the edges. But I wouldn’t really call it froth so maybe I did it wrong?)

It was really delicious. Very sweet and green and tasty, but I wish I knew whether I’d done it justice.

How long am I supposed to whisk for? It was very smooth, not at all clumpy. I barely knew I’d whisked when I drank it, it tasted much like drinking steeped tea. (I have a feeling I made the thin kind.)

That does it, I have to go try again now.

175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 45 sec

LOL! Yes. You had matcha. Don’t be anxious.:) I have this sifter and love it. http://www.lupiciausa.com/product_p/41401682.htm

Cheap and very effective. I use a metal teaspoon measuring spoon to get the matcha thru. My chawan is even the perfect diameter- the little loop thing rests on one side of the edge and the handle on the other suspending the basket over the chawan.

Matcha should be dark. I don’t call it “GREEN!!!” for nothing hehe:) You will never get hard peak foam no matter how hard you try lol. The one time I had it made for me it was much like beer foam that didn’t collapse when my lips touched it, but myself I just get tiny bubble bath like foam over the top. Sometimes just around the edges. Sometimes over most of the service. Different matchas foam differently, thickness is a factor as well. Although Koicha isn’t supposed to foam that much and I’ve had a few very foamy Koicha experiences.

You only need to whisk till the matcha is evenly mixed w/ the water. If you sip it and it’s too chalky/chunky, whisk again. Sifting also helps this. I advise not rushing your matcha experience. If you make an amount and drink and a speed that causes your matcha to start to separate, simply just give it a quick whisk and resume the experience.


Thanks for the tips, I need them!


Any time! Always more than happy to help people get over their matcha phobias/concerns:)

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Another TeaFrog sample, since I’m on an Assam kick this morning.

Fascinating. In the sample packet, the tea smells fruity! Like cherry or some kind of berry flavor. Not quite as tippy looking as the Teavana or the Teas Etc., but still quite pretty.

The steeped aroma has a hint of fruit too, which was unexpected, but nice. It’s got a smooth, slightly sweet character. I’m now more convinced than ever that the Teavana Assam Gold Rain’s bakiness was an aberration in flavor. It must have been the batch I had.

It brews a little darker than the Teas Etc. Assam Reserve, and leans more toward medium bodied. It’s not particularly sweet, and I don’t get maltiness (as I think of maltiness), but there’s something very nice about it. It’s just a good solid black tea, without anything at all offensive about it, but without much to distinguish it either.

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Saying goodbye to this out of my bagged starter teas today. It was a good one, but I have since had better gunpowder and I expect there are even better ones out there than I have had. That said I wouldn’t be disappointed (at least for now, early in my gunpowder drinking career) drinking this if I found myself needing a quick, convenient gunpowder.

It does better steeped for 2 minutes at 175 rather than the shorter steeping time I usually use for bagged greens (1:30). It doesn’t turn bitter, but it does gain a deeper and sweeter flavor.

2 min, 0 sec

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drank Assam Reserve by Teas Etc
1165 tasting notes

Looks more like Assam Gold Rain (very tippy and pretty) than Thomas Sampson does, but smells more like Thomas in the dry leaf. Rabs mentioned potting soil, and I get that as well, though it’s drier and leafier than potting soil (which right out of the bag tends to be pretty moist). That was a good sign, as the yeasty smell of the ASR dry leaf was replicated in its taste and was a flavor I didn’t love.

The tea’s aroma is even more promising. It doesn’t have the yeasty (bakey?) flat note that the ASR had. I’m starting to wonder if I just got a bad batch of ASR. Maybe. In any case, the Assam Reserve has more depth to the aroma, and it has a sweetness. I’m not getting malt as I think of it, but there is a natural planty sugar to it. The liquor was lighter than I expected, a medium amber.

The taste is much smoother than the ASR, which had a sharpness to it that I didn’t find pleasing. It’s somewhat astringent, and it has that sweetness that I found in the aroma. It’s not sweet enough to be malty or biscuity as I think of those terms, but it does have that sort of sweetness you get when you’ve eaten a non-sweet baked product (like pretzel, cracker or plain bread) and let it sit on your tongue for a while so that it starts to break down into sugar in your mouth.

I’d like to try this next to Thomas Sampson. I know I like it better than the ASR by a lot, but I don’t have a gustatory memory of Thomas to compare it to.

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 30 sec

Great note! I’ll totally agree with you that the “potting soil” was a dry leafy one (not right out of the bag). I’m super-curious about the Thomas comparison and look forward to reading what you have to say :)


Great description of the non-sweet baked product sweetness! :)

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drank Assam Gold Rain by Teavana
1165 tasting notes

Decupboarding this one this morning after using the last bit for my wake-up tea. Tried it at 200F for 3:30. Tasted a little better but still had that yeasty thing going on. Not terribly sorry to see it go, except that it was serving me well as an addition to chai and now I have to decide on another black to take up that mantle.

Knocking it down a few points now that I’ve compared it to Thomas Sampson.

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drank Mayan Chocolate Chai by 52teas
1165 tasting notes

I’MMMMM OONNNNN FIIIIRRRRREEEE! But it hurts sooooo good! Lol.

First off, let me say that I made this on the stovetop using the same method I’ve been using for all chai lately, and whoa — this stuff is so spicy that the usual stovetop method most assuredly overdoes the amount of chai because of the strength of the cayenne. I’m thinking half what I put in would likely have done the job.

Second, let me say that though I obviously need to work on the ratios, I think the stovetop is definitely the way to go with this. I haven’t tried it otherwise, but I really don’t have any desire to because the chewiness of the milk makes it taste like hot cocoa duking it out with chai in my cup, with tabasco thrown in to complicate matters.

The fragrance of the mixture in the package seems deceptively mild, until after a little bit your eyes start watering. It smells like chocolate/ginger/pepper and quite nommy. It’s also quite pretty — there are huge sliced almonds in the mixture and tiny little red spheres of pepper.

After cooking, it smells like a very peppery, gingery chai. And wow, that’s exactly what it tastes like. Before this, the Rishi Masala chai was the spiciest chai I’d had, and this is much spicier than that. It’s very tasty, once you get over the shock of how spicy it is.

The only downside, really, is that in the end, the spice seems to win the fight with the chocolate. So while I can taste the chocolate around the edges, I wish I could taste it more front and center. Perhaps changing up how I prepare this will get me closer to a deeper chocolatey taste.

I love spicy stuff, though the older I get the less I can tolerate comfortably. Though I could easily have had this every day twenty years ago, now it’s likely to be the sort of thing I’ll have to pay for later ;-) so I’ll have to factor that in to when and how I partake of this.

But whoa, what fun!

Boiling 8 min or more

Great note! This sounds delicious! I love spicy!


HAHA! love this tasting note… but as much as I love it, I love the tea itself even more.

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drank Tiramisu by TeaFrog
1165 tasting notes

This is another of my TeaFrog samples from a previous Steepster Select. I’ve got some chai on the stove and thought I’d give this a try while it’s working.

What are “crackle bits”? (Do I want to know? ;-)) Whatever they are, they must be what is responsible for the fragrance of the dry mixture actually smelling like tiramisu. Uncannily so. The chocolate and cocoa alone wouldn’t do that. The rooibos in this mix is red, but I can barely smell it in the sample packet. Will my luck hold?

Alas, after steeping, I can smell the rooibos, primarily. The accurate tiramisu smell has been diluted. And unfortunately for me, since I like my rooibos to be virtually silent, I can taste the rooibos in this blend. It’s not bad for red rooibos, but I much prefer rooibos as a backdrop for other flavors to play on rather than as a flavor unto itself.

There is a suggestion of tiramisu in the taste, but oh, if it had only tasted exactly like the smell of the dry mixture! As it is, the rooibos is too prominent in the flavor of this tisane for my taste.

Those who like rooibos in their rooibos and a suggestion of flavor in their flavored rooibos rather than rooibos as a vehicle to make something that tastes not at all like rooibos would probably like this. If they can follow that last sentence…

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

Oh then this is definitely not for me! Your last sentence was perfectly understandable! :)


aww i was getting all excited, i love tiramisu

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drank Chocolate and Cream by TeaFrog
1165 tasting notes

Another of my TeaFrog samples from a previous Steepster Select.

I’ve been running around all day: kids swimming lessons, my workout, my haircut, younger kid’s friend’s birthday party, and finally got home. I’m really tired, but somehow it seems a little pathetic to go to bed at 7 p.m. So I thought I’d try some black tea to wake me up a little.

In the sample bag, the tea smells delicious. It’s a sweet chocolate smell, a milky chocolate. I was thinking chocolate liqueur, and then I realized it’s pretty similar to the smell of chocolate syrup. I can see chocolate chips in among the dark brown leaves.

After it steeps, the aroma becomes less sweet and less intense, and takes on more of a chocolate baked goods quality. The liquor is lighter in color than I’d expected. It’s a sort of bronze color.

Yum. Tastes like…. chocolate! It’s very chocolatey. More chocolate than tea, by a lot. It’s interesting because it’s like drinking a grown up version of hot chocolate, by which I mean hot chocolate stripped down to its essence. No milkiness, no creaminess, no frothiness, no chewiness, but a lot of the same essential comfort flavor of warm chocolate without all of these. It’s kind of surprising.

As for the cream, I don’t taste it independently, but I understand it. It’s the difference between a baking chocolate flavor, and a sweetened chocolate flavor. It’s as though the chocolate here has been sweetened with lactose, though I can’t taste a cream flavor. The tea itself shows up more in the aftertaste than elsewhere; it has a sweet, mild flavor that goes well with the chocolate.

Most of the chocolate teas I’ve had have other flavors in them as well. This may be the first solo chocolate I’ve had, and it will be a good benchmark as it seems to be a solid, standard sweet chocolate flavored tea.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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Apropos of nothing in particular, whenever I read A&D’s full company name, I immediately think of Laraine Newman holding up a glass and saying, “Wow, that’s terrific bass!” I expect I’m the only weirdo who makes this association and I have no idea why.

Anyway, after venturing into Assam land with the Teavana Assam Gold Rain, I decided I couldn’t go farther without a visit with the legendary, incomparable Thomas Sampson. I’m always up for a challenge, so the mere fact that he’s incomparable isn’t going to stand in my way. I’m going to compare him to Assam Gold Rain just for grins.

First off, Thomas doesn’t seem to be as tippy. Though there are clearly lighter colored tips in among the leaves, the ratio of dark to light isn’t nearly as high as it is in the ASR. Thomas’ dry leaves smell better to me, though. Their smell isn’t as strong. It’s lower key, and deeper, and gives the impression of being fresher for some reason? Which is weird because I think I’ve had it longer. In any case, there’s a big difference between the way the dry leaves smell.

Thomas steeped, though, does remind me of the ASR’s aroma. It’s that anti-malty, yeasty smell, which I’m coming to realize (through a trend of two) is what Assams smell like.

But wait. How can something that smells so similar taste so different? There was something about the ASR’s taste that just plain rubbed me the wrong way. It was the yeasty thing, and it seemed sort of off to me.

Thomas, thankfully, doesn’t have that same characteristic. There’s a sweetness to Thomas that is closer to a true maltiness, and a smoothness. The ASR has a harshness that grates on me. It sits right under my sinuses and feels like it’s making the tasting equivalent of a screeching noise, like fingernails on a blackboard or a rake across cement. Thomas doesn’t even hint at harsh, at least until the swallow when he gets a little fresh and does a grab thing to my throat going down about a third of the time. But I forgive him that for what he makes up in flavor.

I’m amazed at how much more I like this than the ASR. I will give the ASR one more try on a lower temp setting before relegating it to black tea duty for chai.

Let’s end with a little of the ol’ modus ponens for those of you taking logic this semester: If Thomas is what a good Assam tastes like, then I like Assam. Thomas is what a good Assam tastes like. Therefore, I like Assam.

I have to leave it to others better versed than I am to verify the truth of the first premise, but my guess is yes. Now. What else tastes similar to Thomas? Given his limited edition status, I already have to start to worry about that.

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

sophistre said that the Simple Leaf’s Amor shared some qualities with Thomas. Not a doppelganger, but…



Ah yes, I did see that. Thanks for the reminder!

Miss Sweet

I always get jealous when I see tasting notes for this series!


Anti-malty? Did you mean anti-malty or ultra -malty?


Anti-malty, as in not truly malty. To me it is a different flavor, because it’s not sweet. The closest I can come to describing it is like a mouth full of baker’s yeast as opposed to malted milk ball or beer.

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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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