1119 Tasting Notes


Golden Moon sample No. 14 of 31.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t be in a position to taste this today, but I had to sequester myself at home today to devote myself to finishing a project for work rather than go into the office, and that put a sort of crimp in the day that had me feeling out of sorts, so I decided to give my latest random pick a try over lunchtime and see if it cheered me up.

And boy, did it ever. I have gone from feeling peeved at how my day was unfolding to feeling lucky that such decadence was at hand to improve my mood. And this after having a not so great experience with an earlier Golden Moon oolong. I had been worried that I wouldn’t like this one that much, either. I’ve never been so glad to be wrong!

Tightly curled dry leaves that smell of — crackerjacks! Or maybe those cube shaped caramel candies in the clear plastic individual wrappers. They smell of this, and nothing else I could detect. It’s a delicious, strong scent. It brews to a pale yellow, clear liquor.

When I steeped them the first time, I didn’t get so much caramel in the aroma, though it was there. What I got more of was the butter of green oolong. So I wondered what I’d taste.

And on the very first steep — yum. It’s caramel. Not overly sweet, not overly strong, but definitely caramel. And soothing. There’s butter as well, and a slightly vegetal flavor, but for a green oolong it’s leaning toward nutty/toasty. I suspect because of the caramel, which could easily turn it that way.

Second steep: 3 min. More sugar! The flavor deepens to reveal more sugar and more caramel. The sugar has the quality of the sugar from a dried fruit, which I suppose could be dates.

Third steep: 4 min. A step back on the sugar, though it is still there. The caramel is as well. There is less butter, and less vegetal flavor, and more toasty nuttiness.

Fourth steep: 5 min. The sugar and caramel is mostly gone, but the buttery, nutty taste remains, though it has weakened some. I fear a fifth steep would be disappointing so I am quitting while I’m ahead.

I really like the feeling of something suggestive of candy that is, at the same time, so obviously not candy. That’s why I feel so decadent having this and why I am going to have to order more.

There’s no heaviness to it like what you could get from eating actual caramels, nothing to stick in your teeth. There’s no feeling of guilt afterwards, or bloatedness, or a sugar high or precipitous fall. But it gives (at least the illusion) of the same serotonin-inducing comfort one could get from eating handfuls of caramels.

And I needed that today. Two thumbs up.

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec
RachanaC (Rachel)-iHeartTeas

I wonder if this tea helps with a crazy 3 year old too. Maybe I can have sip and go from crazy to calm in seconds. :o)


Drink it while the crazy 3 year old is napping and feel your cortisol levels go down down down. Lol.


Awesome note! I really love this tea too and can’t wait to buy more. :)

RachanaC (Rachel)-iHeartTeas

well, let me buy some and I will get back to you and let your know if it worked.

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Continuing on with the project of finishing up my earliest batch of tea splurge, I am saying goodbye to this one today.

It actually grew on me quite a bit from my initial tasting. After drinking my way through a box of it, I was used to the tartness and could get right to the berry flavor pretty quickly. It’s a cheerful flavor that doesn’t obliterate the tea, but it may be a little too strong and too weak at the same time — it reminds me a little of Kool Aid.

Hail and farewell! Thanks for the memories.

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drank Orange Glow by The NecessiTeas
1119 tasting notes

There are nice big pieces of orange peel and smaller, pretty reddish petals in among the tea. In the packet, it does have an orange smell (in a baby aspirin orange/creamsicle sort of way), and although I do get the note that is called cheesecake, I am smelling, more than cheesecake, a fairly strong coconut scent.

The orange/coconut also comes out in the aroma of the steeped tea, while the creaminess associated with cheesecake comes out more in the flavor along with a small amount of orange. I did not find the tea discernible except for a slight bitterness in the finish. The liquor is yellow-green with suspended particles in it.

The orange flavor in this doesn’t have the strength and sweetness I recall tasting in the Orange Creamsicle, but I do find that these teas differ from cup to cup depending on how the flavoring agents have been distributed.

That said, this is one of the more flavorful of the NecessiTeas flavored green teas I have sampled, probably behind Raspberry Jasmine and Orange Creamsicle, and maybe Strawberry Lemonade. But my standards have become somewhat pickier since I sampled those.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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Hat trick! The third from my original group of “starter tea” boxes I’m saying goodbye to in one day. Woot!

This is not one I will likely revisit, now that I have a better idea of what I like in chai, even decaf versions.


I seem to be on a similar track to your own: I remember when I thought that Numi was the height of excellence—and it really is for the kinds of teas I can buy in my local supermarkets. Ave atque vale, Numi…you made a great transition tea and will always have a place in my heart.


I agree, it’s hard not to have a fondness for it. I am really glad I started with this, Tazo, Twinings, Bigelow in bags as it gave me something to compare and contrast both within each companies’ offerings and with the loose teas I later “graduated” to.

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I wasn’t familiar with Ontario Ice Wine, I just requested the sample because it sounded interesting.

But as I’m wont to do, I satisfied my curiousity about Ontario Ice Wine by looking it up. Here’s some information, for the also-curious:


This was the tiniest of the little samples, not even enough for half a cup. Its leaves look like fairly basic, plain black tea leaves but the smell is very distinctive. A sweet, wine/grape scent, like a dessert wine (which, having read the article at the above link, I now know isn’t surprising). Not having had Ice Wine, I must liken it to something I have had. Sauterne?

The aroma of the steeped tea is grapier, or perhaps raisinier than it is winey, and it’s sweet. It has something else going on as well. Dates? And also seems to have a floral note. The color is orange/brown and on the light side.

There is a dusky, wine taste to the tea, but it isn’t as sweet as the aroma would lead one to expect. I enjoyed it, but it isn’t a stand out for me.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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Finished up my box of this, which was among my “starter teas.” It’s very mildly spiced when drunk with milk and sweetener, which has become my preferred method when I can’t engage in the stovetop method. Too mild for me, I discovered, when it comes to chai, though without milk it has more bite. But I thank it for helping me to hone my ever growing and evolving tastes.

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drank Ceylon Super Single by Samovar
1119 tasting notes

I’ve had this sitting in a little bowl on my counter that is overflowing with other samples on my short list of things to try for a couple of weeks now. I decided that today was the day, since I’m celebrating the demise of two boxes of bagged black tea today from my “starter” teas.

I haven’t (knowingly) had a Ceylon black before by itself, though it does make appearances in black blends so I’m sure I’ve tasted it intermingled with other things. But solo, this is a first.

I really liked the look of the dry leaves. They’re dark and pretty and vaguely twiggy. I thought they’d make a very attractive nest for a very small bird, or a lovely, very small basket if they could be woven into such a thing. This may sound odd, but their smell is warm. The air around them gives off the impression of being some degrees warmer than the surrounding air. I haven’t experienced this before and thought it was a cool thing. They don’t have a very loud smell, in fact they’re less aromatic than just about all the other Samovar samples I’ve tried, as I recall. They do have a fruity smell, that is also somewhat like tobacco. Like a fruit flavored pipe tobacco. Cherry maybe.

After steeping, the aroma is of carmelized sugar, and a high, somewhat “narrow” note that might be wine or might be citrus. The tea is a lovely clear reddish tea color. A deep coppery color.

There’s a vaguely metallic note to the taste, though I must admit that I’m not sophisticated enough in my tasting of metals to be able to distinguish iron from zinc from copper. It’s a full, sweet flavor, with some malt, and some tang which could be either the aforementioned wine or citrus. It’s not as smooth as the other Samovar blacks I’ve tasted (which smoothness I had come to regard as a sort of trademark) but this could also be because I steeped this one a bit longer than I did the others because I was feeling adventurous today. Still, it’s not bumpy either. Not harsh. There’s a bit of toastiness and a coffee-like quality, not so much in the taste as in the overall impression of the flavor and body.

But is there raspberry?

Yes, with this caveat. My mother was a big crossword puzzle worker and she used to tell me that to be good at crossword puzzles you had to “throw your mind out of focus” a little, to be receptive to meanings you might not think of initially. To get the raspberry taste while the tea was hot, I had to throw my mind out of focus a bit. It’s there in the aroma, and in the aftertaste.

And, as I just discovered when I sipped what was left in the cup after typing to this point, it’s much more readily identifiable when the tea is cooler.

Wet, the leaves have an interesting reddish tinge. One of the other notes mentioned they smelled like tomatoes, so I had to give them a sniff. They do! (More like tomato sauce to me, actually.)

It’s not my favorite Samovar black, but it’s still an excellent drink. Onto the shopping list it goes.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

I went through several years of doing crosswords on a daily basis – and I LOVE your mom’s “throw your mind out of focus a little.” That nails it :)


My grandfather completed the NYT crossword puzzle everyday until he died..so maybe that’s how he did it…


Yeah, I thought it was a pretty good way of describing what you have to do not to get stuck in crosswords. :-)


Love that crossword puzzle reference! No wonder I’ve never been good at them—they just tend to frustrate me because I focus too much!

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Golden Moon sample No. 13 of 31. Have been eyeing this since I pulled it out of the basket a couple of days ago and waiting for work from home Wednesday when I have all my necessary tea accoutrements near me to give it a go.

I’m pretty sure this is my first Irish Breakfast. So I don’t have anything to compare it to on that score. Also, I think this one should probably steep a bit longer than I steeped it for full effect. That said…

They weren’t kidding about “the beautiful golden tips highlighted against deep black leaves.” Though I’d say the leaves were more brown than black and straight in shape, the tips are huge and an amazing contrast in color as well as in texture. The nose of the dry leaves is roasty, even slightly smoky, and seriously malty in a Guinness Stout sort of way. I am guessing that that is what characterizes Irish Breakfast, though I haven’t yet looked it up.

The aroma after steeping is sweet, sugary, definitely malty and interestingly complex. Maybe I’m just suggestible today, but they told me there were cherries and I found cherries, they told me there were prunes and I found prunes, they told me there was honey and I found honey. I didn’t really find hazlenut, though there was something I could call nutty. In addition, I detected a chocolate note and a caramel note. The liquor is a very lovely deep tawny red-orange-brown.

The flavor is smooth, sweet but not too sweet, with some deep, fruity notes. I definitely tasted prunes, which made me smile. The maltiness isn’t as great in the taste as in the aroma, but it is definitely the backdrop. I’d like to steep it stronger and see what that does. I was a little distracted by work (heavens to betsy!) as I was drinking, but since this is definitely tasty enough to enjoy again, I’m looking forward to exploring its mysteries further.

If breakfast blends are to tea as black is to shoes, soon my cupboard will be mimicking my closet. I don’t even remember how many pairs of black shoes I have. [hangs head in shame]

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

There’s no shame in having a discerning taste in both teas and shoes! ;)

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Finishing the last of this this morning. Oh, the clean, fresh feeling of more room in the tea cupboard! O joy! The rating and description is as I recalled from my previous note. Not something I will seek out now that I have been spoiled by some terrific loose leaf breakfast blends, but I appreciate its role in my continuing evolution in tea appreciation and admiration!

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Biggest Loser Bob sold me on Extra Sugar Free Gum, so I have tried just about every flavor they have including their Strawberry Banana, and boy howdy if that wasn’t exactly the smell that I smelled when I opened up the sample packet. There were big hunks of crispy dried banana chips and smaller dried strawberries (with green tea leaves stuck to them) among more green leaves that looked like sencha.

After steeping, the tea was a very pale greenish yellow color with an aroma of sweet strawberry and banana. I got all excited because I thought I might actually be about to experience a flavored green tea success story. But the taste was not nearly as sweet (or indeed, as intense) as the smell, and there was an almost bitter downward turn at the finish. There was something else that was interesting; a marine taste that reminded me of a very mild fish oil, like in omega 3 capsules. It must have been from the tea rather than the fruit. I’m open to such tastes in tea, particularly green tea, as many of them are said to taste like kelp or other seaweeds. But it wasn’t the best pairing with strawberry and banana.

I thought this tea had more flavor than the Strawberry Daiquiri of last night, but it still didn’t have the depth of flavor I was hoping for. I noticed in the description there’s a suggestion of serving this iced. Honestly, I don’t think it would stand up to icing.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 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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