1537 Tasting Notes

drank Sea Dragon by Todd & Holland
1537 tasting notes

Another unopened sample. This is no longer on the Todd & Holland web site, which is a shame because it’s pretty interesting.

I wasn’t able to find a description of the tea online. But the ingredients say white tea, safflowers, blue flowers, cinnamon chips, raspberry, cinnamon, and clove flavors.

The smell in the packet is interestingly citrusy, which isn’t even an ingredient. The tea is a sort of chartreuse color (heavy on the yellow) and clear, and smells like cinnamon and berries. The flavor is strongly cinnamon and berries, but it is more like blueberry than raspberry to my taste buds (which may mean they aren’t working). Fortunately the clove isn’t very present.

It’s ok, and as I said, interesting even. But not something I’d likely buy again.

Flavors: Berries, Cinnamon

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec 5 g 17 OZ / 500 ML

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drank Silver Needle by Todd & Holland
1537 tasting notes

As expected, there is less flavor with the suggested parameters. The tea itself has much less color, too.

Not getting a lot from this one. Rating it around where I graded the last silver needle because it isn’t all that different.

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drank Silver Needle by Todd & Holland
1537 tasting notes

Hi everyone! We just got back from Italy last night. We had a wonderful time! It was very hot there so mostly I drank cold water (frizzante), an occasional beer, or a glass of prosecco, pinot gregio or chianti with dinner. I developed a taste for espresso, which didn’t happen the last time I went to Italy, and which I hadn’t thought possible. I started the morning with an American coffee with latte, a cappuccino or espresso. Sometimes I had one of those with lunch or dinner as well. I needed it to keep up with my self-imposed schedule. There was so much to see and so little time.

I did have a “tea” one night with my tartufo, a lemon ginger herbal concoction that was quite lovely.

But anyway, I’m back and resuming the project of working my way through my white teas. This is a never opened sample I’ve had for a while, as are most of my samples these days.

I steeped at the Breville setting for white tea, but I have enough to try it a couple of different ways, too. The package says steep at 185 for 2 minutes. That sounds like a recipe for not tasting anything to me, but I’m willing to try it. I am also planning to try it at the parameters for the Ancient Moonlight and see what that does.

At the temp I used, I got a clear golden-yellow liquor, but not much in the way of distinguishing flavor. It’s possible this is because I had some flavored black tea leaves left in the Breville basket while I was gone and mostly what I smell and taste is something I can’t be sure isn’t partly that other tea.

For my second tea this morning, I think I’m going to try this one again at the settings recommended on the package and see what I get.

185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec 5 g 17 OZ / 500 ML

Welcome back!

Italy! How wonderful! Where and what and tell us more, please. Let us travel vicariously through you.


Rome, Florence (with side trips to Pisa and three of the five Cinque Terre towns), Maranello for the Ferrari museum (for No. 2), Venice, Merano for the Lamborghini museum (also for No. 2), Bellagio and Milan. Bellagio is my new favorite place in the world. I would live there in a heartbeat!


Ah! My happiness is now complete. I have been to Rome, Florence, Venice, and Milan. The others are a mystery to me. I will look up Bellagio. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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drank Eros by Mariage Frères
1537 tasting notes

In the tin, this smells more fruity than floral to me, which is surprising. The tea’s aroma after steeping is quite something. There’s a deep chocolatey smell to the tea with some citrusy/florally notes. MMMMMmmmmm.

The tea is clear and medium orange-brown.

Flavor-wise, there’s a chocolatey/mocha note that is pleasing. The floral/fruit is subtle and lovely. I have turned a corner on hibiscus and I now enjoy it, but I don’t think I’d recognize this as hibiscus. The combination of hibiscus and mallow is more like dragonfruit to me, though I get hibiscus in the aftertaste. But I have to look for it.

Definitely different, and quite tasty.

Flavors: Chocolate, Fruity, Mocha

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

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Sipdown no. 81 of 2018 (no. 437 total). A sample.

This time I steeped according to the white Breville setting.

It was better at the recommended time and temp but the lower temp and shorter time didn’t render it entirely tasteless or weird.

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drank Ruschka by Mariage Frères
1537 tasting notes

In the tin, this smells very bergamot-y, like an Earl Grey. But once steeped it becomes pretty interesting.

Mostly, there’s a really unique coffee note in among the citrus, which mellows out quite a bit with the steep. The tea is brown, maple colored.

It tastes pretty much like it smells, except that the citrus is lighter and less intense. Mostly it creates a freshness in the mouth. The interesting coffee note remains. The tea has just a slight touch of sweetness. This is going to be fun to try again as there is something about it that makes me think it will be a bit of a chameleon depending on food pairings.

Flavors: Citrus, Coffee, Floral

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

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Another ATR sample white. I steeped according to the directions on the packet and I’m thinking this may be the way to go for white tea in the future. 190F at 6 minutes.

While I can’t go so far as to say this makes me get white tea, or it makes me understand it, or whatever, I can say that compared to the ones I’ve had lately this one is different in a good way.

It doesn’t have a planty smell in the packet, or after steeping. In the packet, it actually smells a tad like cantaloupe.

After steeping it smells more floral. It’s a clear, light golden yellow and it has a pleasant sweet taste that’s refreshing in the mouth. Actually, in reading the description ATR gave for it, I have to say I get pretty much what they say out of this, even down to the cherry. Maybe not the apricot.

My rating is cautious because I have white tea PTSD and I’m not sure I know what I’m talking about. It is just meant to reflect that I like this quite a bit more than the other white teas I’ve had recently.

Flavors: Cantaloupe, Melon, Sweet

190 °F / 87 °C 6 min, 0 sec 5 g 500 OZ / 14786 ML

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drank Plum Black by Simpson & Vail
1537 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 80 of 2018 (no. 436 total).

I’m glad I have so many teas I like. The outliers that I really don’t care for I dispose of fairly fast, so I’m left with things that are all quite good to the point where grading them becomes an exercise in hairsplitting. Apart from the mega-standouts, most of the teas I have fall into the 70-90 range so when it comes time to follow my protocol for picking a cold brew, unless there’s one in the fast disposal category, I hit things I like pretty quickly. This is both sad and a good thing. Sad because making a huge pitcher of cold brew goes through tons of tea fairly fast, and a good thing because the cold brew is always yummy.

That’s where we are with this one. A yummy cold brew, and also yummy as a hot tea. Sorry to see it go.

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drank Birthday Tea by Mariage Frères
1537 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 79 of 2018 (no. 435 total).

It wasn’t my favorite Mariage Freres, so it went pretty quickly into the sipdown pile. I think I’m not huge on flavored darjeelings. I stand by the initial assessment that I’d have liked this better if it had a China black base.

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It pains me to say this, but I think white tea is the only tea that I like better when it isn’t plain.

For most teas, I really enjoy the complexity of the flavors in a truly awesome non-flavored tea, and flavored ones are more a sort of a fun thing that adds spice to the experience.

To my dismay, my recent white tea experiment has done nothing to make me appreciate it more, or understand it better, or otherwise “get it.”

But I’m a sucker for jasmine, and white tea is a great jasmine delivery vehicle.

The smell in the packet isn’t anything to write home about. It’s a sort of planty smell that isn’t all that appealing, and I don’t really smell jasmine. But after steeping at the Breville settings for white tea (185F for 4 minutes), there’s a gentle jasmine aroma that is divinely juicy. The tea is a light yellow and clear, and the flavor is pure jasmine.

It turns out that not having much of a discernible independent flavor can make for a great base for a flavor you truly love.

Flavors: Jasmine

185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec 5 g 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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