257 Tasting Notes

drank Rose Keemun by TeaSpring
257 tasting notes

Today was the War of the Roses chez moi. I had consumed, with great pleasure, Rose Congou by Upton Tea Imports and then thought I would try another rose tea at hand, TeaSpring’s Rose Keemun.

The verdict is in: we have two winners. Upton’s offering decidedly has the greater rose aroma and taste but TeaSpring’s Keemun tastes more like a deep, rich, cup of tea. Rose Keemun has a lot of rose petals in it and looks very attractive yet the dry leaves don’t have much of a rose aroma. They smell a bit smoky, but not like a Souchong. Steeped, the tea liquer is a deeply satisfying and delightful Keemun—somewhat smoky and very layered and nuanced as a tea. The tea hints of many flavors—rose is among them. If I had a blind tasting I don’t know that I would identify the “rose” but I would get right away that it’s a high quality Keemun of distinctive and delicious flavor. I know that the congou is a Keemun tea, but TeaSpring has more of a distinctively “keemuny” smoky taste than does the Upton congou.

This Rose Keemun also has a very attractive “price-point” as Donald Trump would say (why doesn’t he just say “price?”) and I will order more. TeaSpring is a speedy and reliable shipper of teas direct from China.

4 min, 0 sec

I love the Rose Congou from Upton…


I had thought that perhaps this was in the Shakespeare box and finally got a chance to check before I got crazy-excited. I am now crazy-excited!


Now I want to try both of them! I have been looking at the Upton website for a long time. Maybe it is time to order….

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I must thank LORI for sending me this delightful tea. Rose is an aroma and a flavor that I really enjoy when it is executed properly and does not seem synthetic. Upton Tea Imports, always reliable, always steady, always dependable, does a fantastic job with this blend.

If you like rose teas, I am confident that you will like this one. The aroma and taste are strong and steady and a tiny bit spicy, but the sweetness is never overbearing or cloying. I will order a full size next time I place an order with Uptons. It’s a great afternoon tea.

Boiling 4 min, 30 sec
Robert Godden

Given I am eating rosewater and date yoghurt at this moment, I agree about rose flavouring. I often pick them straight from the garden and add to tea (or anything else). Of course, it’s the oil, not the petals that makes a good rose tea
Glad you had a tea you liked. .

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drank Royal Garland by Samovar
257 tasting notes

I liked this tea but was not in ecstasy. I think it’s a great oolong but it fails to win top grades with me simply because its identity is a bit too diffuse. I can tell and taste that this is a tea of great quality but drinking it feels as if I am standing in the middle of an enormous gallery at a fine art museum and I can only get impressions. I would want to move towards an individual painting to get a closer look but instead I cannot do that. It’s a vast canvas of a tea with a lot going on in the scene, but I cannot see if all.

It’s all true: buttery, vegetal, malty, yeasty, like wine, like fruit of various kinds. I think what I’m wanting is some sort of dominant note to ground the tea so that it can define itself more clearly.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 15 sec

This one was a blah cup for me. I loved your review as you described what I was thinking perfectly…. I was suprised it got such high reviews….

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drank PBJ Rooibos by 52teas
257 tasting notes

I like 52teas a lot; I like the concept and I like some of their wild and crazy blends that turn out to be not the least bit crazy when you drink them. I have subscribed for almost 6 months and will probably continue my subscription, although I worry that they have a silo full of rooibos someplace.

I like the classic PBJ combo and I generally like what 52teas does with peanut flavors. But this “tea,” as others have noted, was a disappointment. I could not find the flavor. I hope that 52teas will start a subscription program where one can simply opt out of rooibos. I have so many of their rooibos packets dismally waiting for the love they will never find at my house. How did rooibos get to be a tea anyhow? Would the world of wine permit cranberry juice or Kool-Aid to be counted among its vintages?

Oh, 52teas! Please lavish your love and your ingenuity on the black and green tea blends that I love so much.

Boiling 8 min or more

I love the image of them having a silo full of rooibos! And I think I know where in Wichita they’re storing it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Keeper_of_the_Plains
One must also be aware that when the article says “Arkansas Rivers” the way a Wichitan (having been one myself) pronounces the river (versus the state) is Are-Kansas River (not Arkinsaw). Believe it or not! ;)


We are looking to go to Wichita for a family gathering around 4th of July…this may bear further investigation! No doubt they’ll be closed, but maybe I can at least drive by Zoomdweebies and look longingly in the window.


I’ve been thinking of heading that way, but they’re only open on Tuesdays or some such and I’ll pretty much only ever be down that way on weekends. Sigh.

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Random Selection from Golden Moon Tea Sampler—perhaps #18? I have lost count.

I had read the reviews of this previously and when I opened the package I was initially enchanted by the aroma. At last a Golden Moon Tea sample with some real character—which I have not seen since their wonderful Melon tea. Then I thought of a comment that Rabs had made about how this dry tea smells like Pledge furniture polish—-the thought popped into my head—I had read her review but it seemed like a long time ago.

So there i was with the proverbial mixed emotions: wanting to try a tea that kept oscillating in aroma between a good strong bergamot and Pledge. A sequence of ancient Pledge commercials paraded before my eyes and then led to a vision of that Ty-D-Bowl guy—-a miniature of the actor who played Murray on the Mary Tyler Moore Show—navigating the waters of a toilet on a small raft singing an eerily awful prototype of a raggastan number.

So I had digressed mentally but my nose had ferreted more deeply into the aroma and I was set to enjoy the tea—visions of New Lemon Pledge and Ty-D-Bowl notwithstanding. (The thing about popular culture is that it wraps itself around society including those virtuous people who don’t watch television but yet have somehow learned by magical Osmosis that Cyndi Lauper and Sharon Osbourne are on the Celebrity Apprentice kow-towing to Donald Trump—-and yet there was not one single mention of Britain’s parliamentary elections of yesterday in my local newspaper).

Another digression. The brew was a fairly decent Earl Grey but not one that made me want to sit up and salute. It’s a good Earl Grey but I continue to search for the definitive Earl Grey that I will want to always keep in my cupboard. There are a couple of candidates thus far, but this one just does not quite make it—sort of like the political parties in England—there is no clear winner yet and I will keep on trying Earl Grey teas but I don’t think I will end up with this as my standard of Earl Grey Excellence.

Not at all a bad effort, just not a stunner.

4 min, 0 sec

I was both horrified and laughing so hard while reading your note. Sorry to have implanted such a negative association regarding a tea. But your digressions were brilliant. I am so happy that you were able to move beyond my neophyte earl grey nose!


I’m still adjusting to new media shifts myself … teenager never watches TV, but has introduced us to a plethora of cult-hit Internet-only videos and sing-along blogs (anybody ever see Dr. Horrible)? Smiling at your cleaning-product description.


I’m a HUGE Dr. Horrible fan! And pretty much a fan of all things Joss Whedon :)


Sigh, sadly I could not get over my initial soap impressions like you did. I tried! but I failed. On the plus side, I have no idea what Celebrity Apprentice is. I doubt I’d care though. Dr. Horrible on the other hand, is awesome.


Not only are y’all educating me about tea, you’re educating me about pop culture!


Ewa, it’s Apprentice, but with celebrities. Bwahahaha.


nooooooo, I have been contaminated with mainstream pop culture knowledge!
(see, Dr. Horrible is ok because it is geek pop culture knowledge)


Douton, have you tried Earl Grey Supreme by Harney and Sons? In the book he says it is black, oolong, and silver tip tea blended together. It is my favorite Earl Grey thus far.


By the way, another Dr. Horrible/Firefly fan here!

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drank White Ginger by Golden Moon Tea
257 tasting notes

Plucked at random from Golden Moon Sampler Basket
Tasting Note circa #18 or 19

I tried to make this a success. I really did. I try to meet a tea and its demands 100%. I don’t think I can spin gold out of cat food but I do think I will try my hardest to bring out the best in the tea. I had a small sample and therefore only used about 3 ounces of water. The dry tea smelled faintly like one of those very mild soaps that they sell for use with babies. I could not pick up on the ginger at all.

Brewed, the golden tea looked ok but still did not present itself with a discernable aroma. Maybe if I conjure up vegetation in my mind it’s slightly vegetal but that might have been one of my Jedi Mind tricks (the limits of my Jedi Mind tricks are remarkable: pretend that the spinach has a romaine overtone—that sort of thing).

Ultimately, I think that I still prefer big, bold flavors and I like my ginger to be all full of huff and stuff. This is probably my least favorite of the Golden Moon Teas I’ve tested thus far.

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec

ROFL: spinning gold out of cat food! And Jedi Mind tricks with tea! I love it!!!

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I really like Vanilla so I ordered a fairly large bag (3.5 ounces) of this from the American Tea Room. Imitating JacquelineM I cut up a fresh Madagascar vanilla bean and allowed it to sit in the bag for about three weeks. The result is a deep, rich vanilla tea. I am certain that the flavor has been well-enhanced but also it may well have been quite strong before my addition.

Because of the strength of the vanilla, my tasting note may be a bit off. The black tea support seems to be excellent but also chosen as a backdrop to promote the vanilla.

If you like vanilla I would highly recommend JacquelineM’s method and get the best vanilla bean you can find and doctor the tea. I did not taste the tea previously, because I put the smallest hole in the bag possible to add my vanilla bean segments. It’s delightful and not the least bit ersatz!

4 min, 0 sec

That is an excellent alteration idea for vanilla tea lovers. Tea leaves are extraordinarily absorbent of flavors, this is an excellent way to rev up the flavor of a vanilla tea (which is often lacking even in some of the best vanilla blends)


I agree. I’ve had another cup and I think that the vanilla taste is fantastic.


I make my vanilla tea by chopping up vanilla beans finely and scattering them through the tea, as well as putting a couple of chopped pods in there to infuse… so yummy. Vanilla and tea is just one of the best combinations ever.


Where do you recommend purchasing some beans? There are too many companies out there selling madagascar beans :(


Ricky – I got mine from Williams Sonoma. There are a TON of places online, but I’ve heard good things about http://www.amadeusvanillabeans.com/ from various food bloggers.


Ohhh, how is the quality or are they all about the same?


I like the ones from Williams Sonoma – they are Nielsen Massey – great quality and very delicious! (plus right up the street from where I work!) I think the ones on the internet are high quality and cheaper in the long run – I just didn’t want to mess with a large quantity and shipping when all I needed was 2 vanilla beans :)

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drank Birthday Tea by Adagio Teas
257 tasting notes

Thank you so much to RICKY for sending me a sample of this tea. It’s sort of “meh”. The sprinkles are a nice touch, but they are a superficial bauble. The tea itself is too “generic black” to get me really interested—but it’s not a weak black. I think that the overtones of vanilla are a little too muted for me to appreciate them. Ditto with the caramel.

It’s a personable tea and a nice idea, but I don’t feel tempted to purchase it.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

Believe it or not…I still haven’t tried this one!


Ok, it is just not me. Ricky sent me a sample of this too! I totally agree with your review Doulton! I tried adding milk and sugar and still just Bleh…


I just want to say that the phrase “superficial bauble” is awesome.


I agree too! But I had to get it since it was Adagio’s signature blend =P

I had to see what the commotion was all about. Sprinkles are fun =P

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After a busy Monday, I wanted a nice green tea with its lower caffeine and its characteristic buttery taste. Knowing that Dragon Well (Lung Ching) has a reputation for being the champagne of Chinese green teas and that it’s known as being a fairly light tea, I thought that this was the ideal time for me to try this tea.

The dry leaf is long and pretty and fairly flat. It’s green but not the neon green of some Japanese greens. It smells a but nutty with hints at complexity that will arise with steeping. Brewed at approximately 175 degrees, the results are very pleasing. The brew is mid-yellow in color and the aroma is both vegetal and nutty. It is not particularly sweet on its own but I will use some sugar crystals when I’m half way done.

The tea is a great drink unfolding layers of nuttiness and some vegetation—not so much that you can call it a “spinach” or an “artichoke” tea but enough so that the vegetal taste plays a strong second fiddle to the primary taste of roasted or toasted nuts—I’d like to say roasted walnuts more than other kinds of nuts. It’s very satisfying and would make a great accompaniment to a meal or as an after-dinner tea. It would also be a great afternoon tea.

SECOND infusion: This Dragon Well has not lost anything but has gained perhaps more of a nutty focus. I added a few sugar crystals and the added sweetness was nice. There were not enough crystals to take away from the tea’s essential flavor. I would serve this to myself without the sugar but would offer some sugar to guests.

The rich toasty nuttiness and the deep flavor make this tea well-worth trying. I think it will become a staple at my house.

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 15 sec

“rich toasty nuttiness”…yummy!

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drank Sencha by Golden Moon Tea
257 tasting notes

I thought that this tea was acceptable but I would not buy it. I have had senchas that are more vegetal (which I like) and more buttery (which I also like). This one did not have a lot of distinguishing characteristics. “Meh” is not a very high accolade, but I want to put it a few rating points below “a’ight” and some point above “hate”. I don’t see any reason why I would invest money in this tea when I’ve tried other, better senchas or flavored greens.

Although I was careful about time and water temperature, I got a bitter taste. It shouldn’t be that difficult to brew even the most delicate tea unless the pay-back is sensational.

180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 15 sec

Agreed…I don’t like to have to coddle my teas that much.

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I really love big, bold, brash teas. Smokiness enthralls me. I don’t seem to do subtle.
I don’t do rooibos.

My rating system:
Never again in a hundred million years

31-55: This tea probably has some redeeming qualities but I won’t would not seek it out again.

Shows some promise but also has a fundamental flaw. I probably owe these a second taste but am unmotivated.

Good with at least one strong quality; I probably would not buy it but would drink it cheerfully.

81-90: Worthy contenders; they might be ranked 100 on somebody’s else’s scale. I like them a lot but have not fallen in love. Will probably buy and use.

91-95: These are the true loves, the chosen ones, the ones I dream about and crave. Unless they are in a limited edition—la! how you tease me!—I will always keep in my cupboard.

96-100: I cannot be separated from these teas and would develop a panic attack if I were to run out.

“She is too fond of books and it has turned her brain.”

Elderly dowager. Quintessential cat lady.

Tea which must be in stock always:

Black Dragon LS by Upton Teas: My choice every morning.

Florence & Lapsang Souchong by Harney & Sons

a good Gen Maicha

Samovar: Russian Blend, Maiden’s Ecstasy, Ryokucha

Mariage Frères: Confucious, Vivaldi, Eros, Aida, Marco Polo

American Tea Room: Brioche

Leland Teas: Bogart

Life in Teacup:
An Xi Tie Guan Yin Grade II modern green style & also Charcoal Style


In the midst of the middle of the heart of nowhere in particular.

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