1165 Tasting Notes

drank Sencha by Golden Moon Tea
1165 tasting notes

Golden Moon sample No. 30 of 31.

I’m not a sencha expert. I can count on my digits the number of times I’ve knowingly had sencha, and I probably don’t even have to use the toes.

So I cheated a little to get myself started. While I didn’t go so far as to pour the leaves out to compare how they looked, I compared the smell of the sample packet leaves to that of the Den’s Organic Sencha. And guess what? The Den’s is orders of magnitude more fragrant, more juicy and sweet and vegetal-smelling. The dry leaves looked pretty normal to me, but they weren’t as shiny and deep green as I remembered the Den’s being.

Looking back at my notes from the Den’s, I think the liquor color may be different as well. This steeps chartreuse too, but more toward the yellow side. The aroma is nice. It’s got some butter going on, and a definite vegetal scent. It tastes good, but a little on the thin side. I remember the Den’s being much juicier.

I think I’ve convinced myself (and it wasn’t at all hard to do) that I’d buy Den’s over this sencha. Though if someone offered me a cup of this, I would be happy to enjoy it with that kind offeror.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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drank Masala Chai by Rishi Tea
1165 tasting notes

Tried this today the Samovar way, with a tablespoon of chai and a tablespoon of black tea (Teavana Assam Gold Rain). Otherwise the same: 1 tbsp sweetener, 1 cup water till it boils mostly away, 1 cup milk, steep ten minutes in the milk after bringing to a boil.

This seems to be one way to make chai more chewy. I am going to be using this method from now on. Not sure this black tea was the best choice — I haven’t tried it outside of the chai experiment. But it tames the pepper just the right amount to keep it spicy while also giving it more substance and texture.

RachanaC (Rachel)-iHeartTeas

Hmmm…chewy tea interesting. :-)


Yes! I get the chewy thing too from making chai on the stovetop – it’s very satisfying when I’m in that mood. And good idea adding extra black tea to mute the pepper…


I love the term “chewy” for a tea! Sounds so yummy. :)

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drank Sunrise by The NecessiTeas
1165 tasting notes

Better the second time with more water and less tea, and also a bit less steeping time, but not a significant enough improvement to merit much of an uptick. Still mainly a bitter orange peel flavor, just a little more watered down this way. Adding a couple of points.

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A slightly oolongated (sorry!) detour from the Golden Moon project while the water was at the oolong temp setting.

This tea is crowded. There are a lot of little oval cream colored flower buds in the sample, perhaps even more flowers than tea leaves. There’s a grainy looking greenish powder which I’m guessing is the lemon myrtle, but it looks as though it has been put through a pepper mill. The packet has a strong tart orange peel scent. I’m speculating that The Necessiteas ended up with a lot more orange ingredients than anticipated as their offerings are seeming heavy on the orange flavor lately.

The oolong must be pretty green as it delivers a fresh butter colored liquor that has a buttery aroma. There is also a suggestion of flowers, and a citrus note that seems out of place here. The citrus note worries me.

But I shouldn’t have worried, at least not too much. It is present in the taste of the tea, and it isn’t destructive or distracting as I had feared. Mostly, it’s effect is to steer the flavor of the tea away from the dominant buttery floral I would have expected from a green oolong and inject a more piquant flavor. Surprisingly, it’s pretty good.

I’m not sure what the lemon myrtle contributes, exactly. Maybe it’s what keeps the orange flavor under control. The jasmine flowers don’t seem to be contributing much either. There’s no identifiable jasmine note among the generic floral.

Second steep: 3 mins. More orange in the aroma and a powdery, perfumy quality as well that is vaguely lemony. Must be the myrtle. These two qualities dominate the flavor as well along with the generic floral and a sweetness on the back end with just a tiny bit of butter.

Third steep: 4 mins. Not terribly different from the last, except that the mouthfeel is less soft and feels more like water.

I’m actually quite surprised that this tastes as good as it does. If I wanted to have a green oolong, though, I’d be more likely to go for one that didn’t work so hard at muting the qualities in green oolongs that I really like (butteriness, creaminess, flowers) in favor of some other flavor(s). Still, if you’re not an oolong purist and/or are addicted to variety, this comes in a sample size so you can give it a try without a huge investment.

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

I love oolongated!!!!! :D

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Golden Moon sample No. 29 of 31. The end is so near, and I’m making a push to finish my samples in a fit of completion compulsion.

I’ve been looking forward to this. I haven’t had a non-green, non-flavored oolong in a while. I’m excited to revisit one.

The dry leaves are multicolored: dark brown, lighter brown, some green and some silver. They have a rich, dark, roasty nose that reminds me of the Formosa oolongs from the Upton sampler. Very nice. Toasty/nutty. Steeps to a deep, golden yellow.

The aroma is as I expected from my earlier experiences with different Formosa oolongs. Fruity. Nutty.

It’s very tasty, though I’m not sure I’m getting everything described, at least not in the first steep. I’m not getting chestnuts so much as something that is almost like a Brazil nut; I’m not getting dates so much as something that is almost like apricot. Floral? Some, but I can’t be sure it’s orange blossom. I am not sure I could identify the scent of an orange blossom. If it is citrusy, I’m not getting citrus. Cedar? Well, the roastiness does have something in common with wood, but… hmm.

Second steep: 3 mins. Deeper gold liquor, closer to amber. A very obvious floral note to the aroma, which must be the orange blossom. It’s even slightly orangy smelling, but only very slightly. Flavor is deeper and more complex. I taste citrus! And a nutty/fruity/woody flavor, like you get from sucking on a peach pit, but without bitterness.

Third steep: 4 mins. Still an amber liquor, but in other respects, starting to fade. The citrus/floral note to the aroma is more obvious this time around but against a background that seems a little flat. There is more wood in the flavor this time, and less suggestion of fruit and nut.

I feel like I should try a fourth steep, but I’m afraid to. This seems already to be on the descrescendo.

I like it. I’m not sure I like it more than the Formosa Oolongs I have from Upton though admittedly I haven’t tasted those in a while. I’m going to get another sample instead of a full tin at this point and taste some other oxidized oolongs in the meantime to see how this one rates against them before I commit to a full tin.

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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Golden Moon sample No. 28 of 31. The Kashmiri Chai at last! Made on the stovetop, sample packet = one cup of chai.

This is the fourth chai blend I’ve tried on the stovetop, and it’s so interesting to think about the differences between the various blends. The Rishi is quite peppery. This one doesn’t have pepper. I generally like pepper in chai, and have found some blends lacking for the lack of pepper. For whatever reason, I don’t find this one lacking. In fact, I think I may prefer it ever so slightly to the Rishi (not enough to rate it differently), or at least like it around the same, even though the Rishi is much spicier. Ok, but wait. I liked the Samovar chai best of all, and it has pepper.

I am concluding that comparisons don’t really work here. This is a nice chai. It’s smooth and tasty when made on the stovetop. True, its spices are somewhat subdued compared to others I’ve had, but it isn’t as though they’re overpowered by milk, which is my prime measure. Its body is a little lighter so it’s not as chewy as others I’ve enjoyed, but it’s still nice.

This is, as I think about it, pretty much the GM Pu-erh Chai, without the pu-erh earthiness. Not that that is, or should be, surprising. It’s still doesn’t beat the Samovar in my view or even come close, but I’d happily drink it for a change of pace when I feel like having chai but want something a little lighter weight.

Boiling 8 min or more

Samovar Chai you say? Sigh, I’ll add it to the list. (which means I’ll be getting around to it in, like, September)


Yes — it’s the first one I made on the stovetop and set a really high bar that none of the others I’ve tried so far have matched.

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drank Rose Tea by Golden Moon Tea
1165 tasting notes

Golden Moon sample No. 27 of 31. Only five teas left to sample. It will be bittersweet to reach the end, but it’s not like I don’t have a ridiculous number of other samples to try, both singles and sets. And next in this group is finally the Kashmiri Chai, which I definitely have to try today. I’ve been waiting for it for a while, and seeing it sitting there next in the stack is just too much for me.

But this isn’t about chai, this is about Rose Tea. I’ve had rose petals in a lot of teas, but their function seems mostly to be decorative. The only other tea I’ve had that really bills itself as a rose tea is the Numi Velvet Garden White Rose. I haven’t had it in a while, but I recall liking it. It doesn’t really seem a proper comparative vehicle here, though, as the GM Rose is a black tea, not a white.

Rose Tea smells utterly divine. I adore rose fragrance, the fresher the better. This smells very fresh. Like burying your nose in a bouquet of long-stemmed roses. The petals are a lovely purplish-reddish-pink and give the illusion of fresh softness. (If you actually pick one up in your fingers, you’ll find it to be dry and crisp.) The black tea adds a slight muskiness to the scent, but for the most part it is rose, rose and more rose.

The smell of the tea base is more prevalent in the aroma of the steeped tea. It has a sweet smell, suggesting sugar or honey, similar to the aromas in others of the GM black teas. The flavor is lovely. The rose predominates, but it is much gentler in the flavor here than it is in the Numi white. I’m not sure if that’s because the black base has more innate strong flavor than the white or for some other reason.

I don’t get any bath products in the flavor; nothing soapy or lotiony, or even perfumy. There’s a quaint nutty aftertaste that is unexpected and helps to banish all resemblance to bath products.

I like this a lot. It’s not something I could see drinking every day, but it’s something I would keep in my cupboard for when it’s the right taste for the right time.

With this in my cupboard, I could let the Numi go as a representative rose flavor without regret.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

That did it – it’s going onto my shopping list!

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Stressed and tired, so not up for a magnum opus tonight. Tomorrow maybe. It’s work at home Wednesday and I think my big project may finally be done, so my stress level should go down and I may actually get to enjoy some tea instead of gulping it down while distracted. But after my earlier yucky face experience, I wanted to end the evening on a higher note.

This is a surprisingly nice fruit blend. It has chunky pieces in a nicely harmonized color combo/continuum of very dark purple to light brown. Its variations would be nice in one of those eye shadow palette compacts. It smells like tart strawberry in the sample packet. I brewed it double strength in about 16 oz of water, and it made a pretty, hibiscus-influenced magenta-like liquor.

In taste, it is not at all tart or bitter. In fact, it is sweet, undoubtedly from the strawberry. Apple notes poke through every now and then, and neither the rose hips nor the hibiscus seem to have much influence on the taste. The kiwi is tricky, but I do notice a sort of cooling flavor that comes after the strawberry and doesn’t seem to be the strawberry simply morphing into another variant. I think this is the kiwi. I’ll focus on it more when I next try the rest of the sample and see if I can tease it out a bit more.

I haven’t had that many straight mixed fruit blends, but I like this one better than the Teavana Lemon Youkou because it doesn’t require sweetening.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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drank Sunrise by The NecessiTeas
1165 tasting notes

The red and purple of the rose petals and hibiscus, the grey-green of the tea, the light yellow-green of the lemongrass and the tiny blocks of orange peel make this a colorful tea to look at. In the sample packet, the dry leaves smell strongly and almost exclusively of orange peel.

I think I oversteeped this — I set the timer for 5 minutes but got preoccupied, and it may have been longer than 6 by the time I got back to the tea. It had steeped to a really lovely peach color and still smelled strongly of orange peel.

The taste, however, had a single, sour/bitter note: orange peel.

I will try one more time with the rest of the sample and move the slider if things improve.

175 °F / 79 °C 6 min, 0 sec

Hibiscus = eeeeeeevil!


i dont like hibiscus. it ruines the teas…

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Hello rooibos my old friend [?], I’ve come to talk with you again. Ugh. Now I have Simon and Garfunkel rattling around inside my head.

One thing I think I can say with certainty is that as much as I haven’t cared for the Necessiteas flavored greens and have even had a strike out with one of their flavored blacks, they do rooibos blends pretty well. I am hardly an expert on the point, but I suspect that rooibos is pretty forgiving when it comes to being a base for blends. Still, I’ve had ones that were too noisy, so it’s obviously not a foolproof base. Or perhaps some people just like noisy rooibos and find those blends successful and the ones I like the disasters instead.

Be that as it may, this one did remind me more than usual of the covering of the bottom of a hamster cage, but I think it is because of the huge honking hunks of orange peel in the mix that make the rooibos look so backgroundy. And the chocolate poking up from underneath. Which as it turns out, is an accurate visual representation of the taste.

The aroma, though, is somewhat orange-medicinal, like a kids’ liquid medicine.

The flavor is a strong orange flavor that isn’t sweet, rich, or candy like as the orange flavors I’ve particularly enjoyed are. This one is slightly tart and a tiny bit bitter, but not in an entirely bad way. It basically has the character of orange peel, which is to say it tastes like what it is. No surprise there. Behind the orange is the rooibos, an appley note that stands between the orange and the chocolate which isn’t really much more than a warm cocoa undercurrent. Sometimes the rooibos and the chocolate change places. It’s not consistent, though.

The aftertaste is pretty strong on the rooibos. Which is not the best way to end.

I preferred the Peppermint Pattie, but this isn’t bad if you like flavored rooibos.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

I love Simon & Garfunkel, but I absolutely adore Cylon & Garfunkel from Futurama. And it’s the Scarborough Fair song a la C&G that’s stuck in my head this morning ;)

And the bottom of the hamster cage? I smiled and then I got to the mention of chocolate bits and I giggled. :D

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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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