1280 Tasting Notes

drank Almond Biscotti by Teavana
1280 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 51 of 2017 (no. 332 total).

Yeah, I still like this. Not much to add to my previous notes, except that I’m glad that ATR still has Brioche, which is the same flavor profile because… yeah, I still like this.

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I cracked open a sample of this and steeped almost according to directions. I couldn’t bring myself to steep this for five minutes, and frankly, four was too much.

I was utterly prepared to love this tea. I love a good black tea blend, which is why I love so many of the Harney teas. In the packet this smells like something I’d love. There’s a deep, chocolate-earth smell. The aroma is sweet and malty and the color is a divine dark wine-red.

And yet. There’s a bitterness that reminds me of why I don’t enjoy black coffee and always have to put some milk in coffee before I start to purr. At four minutes, the tea is so dense it doesn’t have any room to breathe. Rather than coming across as chewy, which can be nice, it comes across like a brick that would break your teeth if you tried to chew it, with some Assam throat grab to boot.

Clearly, there was a method to my madness when I settled on not steeping black teas for longer than 3 to 3 and a half minutes — one I’d forgotten until now.

Not rating it for now since I can’t rule out that it’s not sending me because I steeped it too long. I’ll try 3 minutes with the last bit another time and see how that goes.

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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drank Milk Caramel by Lupicia
1280 tasting notes

So this one is no longer on the Lupicia site, despite having a lot of fans here on Steepster.

I decided to try it because I found it in my stash, and I wanted to see how it compared to another flavored Hojicha I’d recently sipped down — the Art of Tea Hojicha de la Creme.

The answer is, it doesn’t really. The Art of Tea was quite sweet. This isn’t. The dry leaf has, for lack of a better description, a darker aroma. A lower note on the aroma scale. Less sweet, more toasty like a standard Hojicha without flavor. But there is definitely some caramel involved.

I steeped this the way I steeped the Art of Tea, which was perhaps a mistake. It tastes a bit washed out, and I’m wondering if I should bump up the steeping time. It’s also possible that the tea’s flavor has degraded over time. I moved it into a canister a while back, so it wasn’t stored in a completely airtight way.

It could also be that I’m drinking this on the heels of (a) a lapsang souchong, and (b) the memory of the Art of Tea, which I finished up this week. The first would likely make anything after it taste weak by comparison and the second is an expectations thing.

Next time I’ll steep it a bit longer and a bit hotter and see what that does, but for now, this isn’t a fave.

Flavors: Caramel, Toasty

195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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Sipdown no. 50 of 2017 (no. 331 total). A sample.

This is another of the American Tea Room samples that I hoarded after really enjoying it the last time I drank it. But I’m now trying to clear out my old samples — if they’ve accumulated dust, it has to be past time.

Thankfully, ATR still has this tea available for sale, so it’s going on the wish list. I just hope that it’s still available by the time I can justify another tea order.

Despite its age and my neglect, this last bit was lovely, smooth, and naturally sweet with a very distinct passion fruit flavor that blended nicely with the tea base.

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Another unopened sample for a tea that is no longer on the web site.

I steeped in accordance with package directions.

I’m trying to understand my relationship to Assam better. If someone asked me what my favorite type of black tea was, I wouldn’t pick it. But every now and then I wonder why.

This morning is one of those times. I’ve had a bit of tummy trouble lately, so I woke up feeling sluggish and dehydrated. I really thought black tea would be the worst thing on my gut, but this morning, this Assam tastes wonderful.

It’s a clear, dark copper, almost cherry wood color and it smells sweet and malty. A little apricoty, a little plummy, a little bready, a little honied. The taste is smooth with all of the same notes, without the Assam throat grab, and drying in the finish. The body has one foot in medium and one foot in full and yet there’s a crisp quality to it as well which is probably the astringency.

I don’t know if it’s my mood, my body chemistry this morning, or what. But this is doing it for me.

Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Honey, Malt, Plums

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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Sipdown no. 49 of 2017 (no. 330 total).

This had become my take-it-to-work tea for the last couple of weeks. Over time, I got used to it and its oddness, but it still isn’t a favorite.

I just found a Lupicia in my stash that may be similar — Milk Caramel. I may give it a try this weekend and see if it is in fact similar.

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Sipdown no. 48 of 2017 (no. 329 total). A sample.

I had been hanging on to this one because they don’t have it anymore and I really liked it the first time around. But the packet had developed a fine layer of dust, so I decided it had to go.

So sad to sip this one down. I love orange flavor when it is done well.

I see that ATR has a couple of other orange black teas. I’m wondering whether their Romanoff might be similar. Has anyone tried it?


Not sure how sensitive you are to smoke, but I found Romanoff to be a little too smoky for my liking.

Evol Ving Ness

My review of it might be floating about. It is probably more trustworthy than my memory.


I’ll take a look, thanks.

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This is another sealed sample that I decided to crack open. I am sure I’ve tasted a Margaret’s Hope darjeeling before but I can’t find any evidence in my notes that I have. It would be so great to be able to do a keyword search on your own notes. Or even to be able to search for your own name for notes across Steepster, along with other keywords. I know I’ve suggested this before…

I’ve been noticing recently that darjeeling gets mentioned in the context of tea on television and in movies a fair amount. I wonder if it’s because the word darjeeling has a great sound and is sort of fun to say?

This one is pretty mellow. With all the darjeelings I’ve had recently I’ve remarked on the lack of sharp notes, which is sort of making me wonder whether I dreamed the sharp notes from years ago. I don’t think I did, because the memory is too strong. This one tastes a bit like a tea that could have had a sharp note that got filed off somehow.

There’s definitely a difference between the first flush of yesterday and this one. Part of it may be terroir, but I think the difference between the first and second flush tastes for me goes beyond that. Second flush tastes more like a standard tea; first flush has a fuller, rounder, more buttery flavor and a more filling body. I always feel full after drinking first flush darjeeling.

The tea’s color is clear orange-brown, coppery and crisply clear. The aroma has fruity notes and a bit of caramel and honey. The flavor has those notes, too. It approaches sharp but then backs away. It’s not filling, but it’s also not overly drying and it has a pleasant, fresh aftertaste.

Flavors: Caramel, Fruity, Honey

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

Sometimes I google my steepster name,the tea name, and “steepster”. Depending on the tea, it’s about 60% effective, I find. Easier with the more unique tea names tho


Yeah, I think I’ve done that in the past with varying degrees of luck, too.


Yeah, it would be so convenient to be able to access prior notes with a quick search rather than also having to thumb through pages and pages on the review page in order to find yours.

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Sipdown no. 47 of 2017 (no. 328 total).

I picked this to sip down because I had rated it second lowest of the Dammann Freres teas in my cupboard. I ended up bumping the rating of the 7 Parfums up, and I’m going to bump this one down.

I don’t know if it’s that my tastes have changed over time or what, but this ended up being way too perfumy for me, to the point where the tea became hard to discern.

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Sipdown no. 46 of 2017 (no. 327 total). A sample.

This is going on the wish list. I’d rather have the straight apricot black tea if it was still available, but since it isn’t any longer, this will more than do.

Evol Ving Ness

LOVE a good apricot tea.

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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.

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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