I was sick for a couple of weeks starting about three weeks ago, and guess what. The 4 year old now has what I had. He’s getting better; today’s the first time in four days he hasn’t had fever. But as a result of his being home sick, and me just now being well after a pretty nasty bug, I’m pretty emotionally spent. I’ve been trying to work from home while attending to him, but I haven’t been exercising or paying attention to what I eat and I feel bloated and my energy level is like, nowhere, man. I haven’t even felt like making tea. Though if someone made some for me I’d drink it.

I thought this might be a good choice to break me back in since Kusmi tends to be fairly mild. I have a little sample tin of this, and they fill these to the brim. When I stick the spoon into these little tins I always feel somehow like I’m loading a pipe with tobacco. I have to use the fingers of the non-spoon hand to keep the tea in the spoon while I’m trying to get it out of the tin without boosting tea over the edge and onto the counter.

In the tin, the leaves have that spidery, Ceylon look to them. They smell slightly smoky, and mysteriously, slightly sharp like an oolong or a darjeeling. There’s no maltiness that I can detect.

The tea’s aroma, though, does have some maltiness. I’m guessing there’s some Assam in here. It also has a fruity smell, slightly berry-ish. But also some stone fruit notes? It doesn’t quite steep to the Ceylon red/orange color that’s so gorgeous, but it just needs a drop or too more red to get there.

The flavor is fairly mild, fairly smooth, and fairly evenly distributed between a sweet-ish malty note, a smoky note and a sharp fruity note. I wonder if there is oolong in this? This isn’t called “Russian Caravan” but the Russian nomenclature makes me wonder if that is where the sharp fruity note is coming from. The smokiness isn’t enough to seem like it comes from lapsang. It might be from Keemun instead.

The tea is medium-light bodied with a clean feel to it. I’m liking this just fine as a late breakfast blend. I really don’t know what to do about the breakfast blend problem, though. I like so many of them, I really no longer have any excuse to keep adding to the list. I have to come up with some way to differentiate between them and zero in on a few true favorites. Sigh.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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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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