1378 Tasting Notes


Sipdown no. 29 of 2018 (no. 385 total).

I discovered about a spoon and a half of this I’d transferred into a tin a while back, so when I found myself short of having enough of another tea to make a full cold brew pitcher, I tossed this in to the mix.

Consequently, I’m hard pressed to add anything to my original note on this one.

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drank October Revelation by THE O DOR
1378 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 28 of 2018 (no. 384 total).

Lately, I’ve been making sure I always have a pitcher of cold tea in the fridge. The kids, especially no. 2, really like tea but can’t tolerate the heat until it’s lukewarm. They really prefer to drink it cold, and since I need all the help I can get to clear out my out of control and increasingly aging tea collection, I’ve been enlisting their help.

This is going to sound more OCD than it is, but my system for selecting the next cold tea candidate is to pick one, generally a black tea or maybe an oolong, that I have enough of to make a full pitcher, and that is currently the lowest on my Steepster rating scale. This on the theory that I’ll be saving the ones I liked better to drink hot (at least until I catch up to those as well).

Most of this tin went to cold tea as it wasn’t particularly impressive to me hot. In fact, I’m bumping it down to the merely good category from very good in this final note.

It was a perfectly fine iced tea. No. 2 drank it in quantity. I’ve now put the very last bit in the fridge to steep, but since I only had enough for half the spoons, I had to mix it with a couple of other teas to get a full pitcher’s worth. I included the last little bit of the Premium Steap Black (India) Single Estate Assam Sessa FTGFOP1 and some of the Rishi 2nd Flush Darjeeling Muscatel from this morning. We’ll see what that does.

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Sipdown no. 27 of 2018 (no. 383 total). A sample.

Hot diggity! I have three sipdowns to record back to back.

The first is this one, which remains a decent, primarily cinnamon spiced tea. I’m not sure it tips the scale over the Harney version or others, such as Art of Tea’s version, but I enjoyed it while it lasted.

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Steeped according to directions on the outside of the packet.

The tea in the packet smells like the very definition of a second flush darjeeling — winey, grapey, earthy, with a sharp note.

With Muscatel in the name, I’d expect winey and grapey, and that’s pretty much what I’m getting in the aroma with the pleasant happenstance that the sharp note has smoothed out and become almost sweet and sugary. The tea is clear, and a medium-dark amber color.

The flavor is a bit more complex than the aroma. The tea isn’t sour, but it isn’t particularly sweet either, and it has just a tinge of something that isn’t quite bitterness in the finish. Oddly, there’s something reminiscent of coffee about it.

It’s got an every day tea sort of quality about it — a solid tea that reflects the characteristics of its type but without anything either horrible or spectacular about it. If I drank darjeeling more than I do, I could see making this a sort of default.

Flavors: Grapes, Muscatel, Sugar, White Wine

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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Sipdown no. 26 of 2018 (no. 382 total).

Sigh. I really wanted to like this. And yet, I’m an outlier in the community when it comes to this tea.

I tried it a number of different ways — hotter water, cooler water, more leaf (including double by weight what I’d ordinarily use), longer steep time, shorter steep time. And I couldn’t get much flavor out of it.

Perhaps I’m just not able to appreciate the subtlety of this. It’s not like there’s no flavor at all. I can smell a definite smell in my empty Timolino when I rinse it out at night. But it doesn’t do anything for me.

So I fear I must own up to my outlier status and lower the rating.

Why do I feel bad about this? Really, do I owe this tea anything? Geez, it’s like that commercial where the person feels sorry for the lamp that’s left out in the rain…


It is posts like that that make me hesitant to try offerings by Rishi Teas despite being prominently represented in my favorite supermarket (Wegmans). There seem to be just so many other more interesting companies to try first…


There are some Rishi tea’s I’ve quite liked. I remember liking their chai in particular. This one, however, I expected to love because so many other people did, but I just couldn’t taste the love.

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Sunday’s green tea tasting project — a never before opened sample tin of this.

I have to say, the snails are adorable. In the tin, they smell like sweet peas. The steeped tea may have picked up a bit of my last black tea, because it has a fruity smell. Strawberry, really, which doesn’t make a lot of sense because the last black tea’s fruit was apple. In any case, the tea is a pale peachy yellow with some tiny suspended particles.

I’m tasting a bit of fruitiness as well, but mostly it’s a mellow, sweet green. The sweet pea smell of the dry leaf has echoes in the steeped tea. I can’t wait to try it again with a cleaner Breville. :-)

Flavors: Peas, Sweet

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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Last week was busy and this weekend has been even busier. I had wanted to get to part 2 of the house organizing project this weekend but it will have to wait. The good news is that the worst of the closet organization is done. I can find my shoes now. LOL.

I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while. It was hermetically sealed in its shiny gold packet. The dry leaves smell very lightly smoky and have a mouthwatering breadiness.

I would call the color closer to a dark amber beer color than copper, as I don’t see much pink in it. The liquor is clear and smells divine. There are very definite cocoa notes in this, with the breadiness of the dry leaf as an undercurrent. Chocolate croissants! The smokiness smooths out in the steeping so it’s just a mild hint around the edges. I can see what they mean in the description about the floral notes, but I wouldn’t have identified them as that. I might have said honey, only a bit fresher and less heavy smelling.

The flavor is pretty much just like the aroma. It’s a smooth tea with no sharp edges, and a rather soft mouthfeel that leaves behind a fresh coolness in the aftertaste. It’s chewy without being as hefty as most other teas I’d describe that way.

It’s really lovely.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Chocolate, Cocoa, Honey, Smoke

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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There are no fewer than three entries for this tea, and yet I’m not entirely sure the sample I’ve just cracked open is in fact any of them. It’s got the same number, but it’s called Japanese Sencha Special Grade. I’m loathe to create yet another entry, so I’ll park mine here.

Continuing with the project to taste green teas I haven’t tasted before on weekends, this one is a juicy, grass/hay smelling one in the tin. It’s been a while since I’ve had sencha (at least a month, I think) and the smell is very appealing. It has an earthy quality to it, but also a slightly spicy quality.

The tea is a light-medium golden yellow, with some particulate matter in the liquor. But the floaters are much finer than in some senchas. They hang suspended in the water, in a way that is actually pretty interesting to look at — it’s sort of calming to look at and wonder how that’s happening.

The steeped tea’s aroma is also what I’d describe as juicy, as it it’s taste. I don’t get an overly vegetal flavor or aroma — to the extent there’s any vegetalness to it, I get artichoke rather than spinach. But I also get a vaguely nutty scent, a bit like sunflower seeds.

It’s also not what I’d describe as overly grassy, which is often the distinguishing factor for me between Japanese green teas and Chinese green teas. I tend to think of Japanese greens as grassy and Chinese greens as vegetal. This one is defying the norm.

It does have a seaweed, edamame/soy quality to it too, which I associate with Japanese greens.

I don’t find it bitter. It has just the right amount of down turn in the finish.

I find it more complex than some other senchas and so more enjoyable.

Flavors: Artichoke, Earth, Grass, Hay, Nutty, Seaweed, Soybean, Spicy

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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drank Rhubarb Cream by TeaGschwendner
1378 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 25 of 2018 (no. 381 total). A sample.

The packet only contained enough for about 500 ml of tea, the lowest amount I can make in my Breville.

I wasn’t paying attention (I was talking to No. 1 about why he should not eat an entire box of Girl Scout cookies before breakfast), and so didn’t focus on sniffing the packet before steeping. I can’t talk about details, but there was a general fruitiness that wafted from the packet when I opened it.

The steeped tea smells heavily of vanilla. The creamy kind, not the beany kind. There is also a sort of generic fruitiness and an undercurrent of malty black tea. It’s a dark copper color, and clear.

To be honest I’m not sure I could describe the flavor of rhubarb. I know I’ve had it in pies and such, but it’s not like it’s a staple around my house. So I can’t say that this tastes like rhubarb or not.

I can say that the creamy taste is mellower in the sip than in the sniff. It isn’t overpowering, and the underlying tea and fruit flavor are evenly balanced and quite pleasant.

Real big question mark for me as to how to rate this, since I rate flavored teas in part based upon whether they capture the flavor they claim to capture and I am at sea with regard to a taste memory of rhubarb. So I’ll give it low excellent.

Flavors: Fruity, Malt, Vanilla

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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Pretty sure this is the same tea, except that mine has the number 09-DJ1.

I should have read the label before I steeped. I didn’t realize this was a first flush, so I steeped it the way I’d steep a second flush (a bit hotter). But then I just read an article that said 205 is the right temp for first flush darjeelings that are more than 3 months old. So everyone’s got an opinion.

The tea is consistent with my observations about the difference between first and second flush darjeelings recorded elsewhere. In the tin, in the steeped aroma, in the taste, there’s less sharpness — none of the sharp, high notes that I associate with second flush darjeelings. Instead, it’s more mellow and round. More stone fruit (peach in particular) than grape/wine.

The dry leaves are smaller and darker than some other darjeelings I’ve had, and the steeped tea has a light, peach-gold color and is clear.

In the aroma and flavor, there’s an unusual note that’s reminiscent of a malty black tea.

Definitely a distinctive flavor, and less of the filling, water-logged feeling after drinking this than I sometimes get with first flush darjeelings. Which are all to the good.

Flavors: Grapes, Malt, Peach, Round , Stonefruits, White Wine

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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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 less appealing to me — but I still enjoy nicely done blends where the base doesn’t taste like hamster cage chips. 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. These days, I’ve been drinking primarily green tea during weekdays after my first cup of coffee. On weekends, I’ve been drinking only tea.

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.

My current process for tea note generation is described in my note on this tea: https://steepster.com/teas/mariage-freres/6990-the-des-impressionnistes

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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