In the container, this has a recognizable and pronounced smell of bergamot, and something else that is… odd. It’s a sort of minerally, metallic smell that I haven’t noticed in tea before. I see a few cornflowers dotting the dark brown leaves.

The web site says the tea is from Sri Lanka, which is the only clue as to the type of tea base this is. It doesn’t have the color I’ve seen in most Ceylons, though. That reddish, russet color is only barely there. It brews lighter than other Ceylons I’ve had. The tea’s aroma strikes me as bakey on first sniff, like too much baking powder in the muffins. Not a good sign. As I sniff longer, I’m getting something else. Potato? At first I thought it was sweet potato, but it really isn’t. It’s the sharpish, earthy smell of raw potato. Oh, and some bergamot, too.

The flavor is strange as well. It’s got a mentholly feel to the after sip, which must be from the bergamot oil, and it tastes a little potato-y, with a tad of starchy sweetness at the finish. The feel of the tea is soft to the mouth. The metallic, minerally smell is consistent with the potato-y taste, at least for me. Raw potatoes smell like that to me. There is a citrus note, but it’s not strong.

It’s more Earl Grey-like than the Kusmi, but it’s such a strange flavor that I’m not sure what to make of it. From the fragrance of the dry leaves I wasn’t expecting to like this, and I’m not sure I do. I don’t have an active dislike for it, though. I’m going to give it a slightly higher rating than the Kusmi for being truer to the Earl Grey genre, but this is not likely to become a favorite.

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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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