1248 Tasting Notes


Sipdown no. 50 of 2016 (no. 261 total). A sample.

I’ve had this one for a while, obviously, but it was vacuum sealed in its little sample packet and unopened. So when I opened it, a lovely, green floral scent wafted from the packet.

It looks like your basic Ali Shan, green and rolled. This one had some visible stems.

After a rinse, I put this through five steeps in the gaiwan. I did my usual 15 seconds for the first and added five seconds each time, except for the last one where I sort of lost count and probably let it sit for more than a couple of minutes. I didn’t do my usual anal note-taking thing on each separate steep. It’s raining outside and I just wanted to sip and feel the warmth, and enjoy without thinking about it too much.

I haven’t had that many Ali Shans, but I like them. I think I prefer Ti Guanyins, but in general I just like the greener oolongs. This one had a delicate orchid-like aroma and flavor in the early steeps. The liquor started out barely yellow and progressed to a solid, light golden color. The last steep made me think of chestnuts. There’s an interesting note that is a little salty, which mixes things up a bit. But I had to think for a while about what that note was, so it isn’t at all so salty as to be distracting.

Very nice, and though I may regret later not having better notes, I quite enjoyed drinking this without the anal critic in me scribbling between steeps.

Flavors: Chestnut, Floral, Green, Orchids, Salt

195 °F / 90 °C

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Another tea I haven’t tried before. I generally enjoy chocolate mint teas, but it has been a while since I had one from any company.

In the tin I get a definite Girl Scout thin mint aroma. The steeped tea has a flatter, less powerful and more “spread out” aroma. The color is the same as pretty much all the other Simpson & Vails, medium brown, clear, reddish. I assume that has to do with a common tea base.

The flavor is unfortunately, somewhat disappointing. It’s just way too subtle in the chocolate department. And frankly, in the mint department as well. I was hoping for thin mints in a cup, and I got something that reminds me a lot of what I didn’t like about the Kusmi chocolate teas, including their chocolate mint. But I give it a few more points for having a nice balance, despite the subtlety.

It won’t be hard to sip down, it’s just that one of my rules in life is chocolate should never be subtle. ;-)

Flavors: Chocolate, Cookie, Mint

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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drank Blue Moon Tea by Simpson & Vail
1248 tasting notes

The first weekend in a while where I didn’t have to be at something early (never thought I’d be so happy for Little League games to be rained out!) so I get to try a tea I haven’t tried before. Yay!

I definitely bought this as part of my great Simpson & Vail sample-fest, and I’m pretty sure I got this one because I liked the name. It’s a pretty florally tea, with little blue petals in it. In the tin, it smells pretty much like all the other Simpson & Vail “well done florals” but after steeping the aroma is more distinctive. There’s definitely pepper in those flowers! It has a medium brown, reddish liquor.

It has much more “tea” flavor that many of the other S&V’s I have had, which makes it an enjoyable breakfast blend. I can taste the berry undercurrent. It’s sort of dark to me, like blackberry-ish with perhaps a bit of blue, but I can’t get more specific. It just doesn’t come across as red berry to me. I’m not sure I would have identified the berry note, frankly, if I hadn’t read about it, but that may be a lingering effect of the evil grippe that I had two weeks ago, that still has my ears a bit clogged and makes me cough once in a while. Definitely the Simpson & Vail floral thing going on. The pepper, I’m guessing, is what is giving me a very fresh and cool mouthfeel on the tongue, which is interesting.

Not the most robust S&V blend but what it lacks in oomph and intricacy it makes up for in pleasant unusualness.

Flavors: Berry, Floral, Pepper

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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Sipdown no. 49 of 2016 (no. 260 total).

This became my “take it to work” tea and lived in my Timolino for the past couple of weeks.

Sadly, I just don’t really appreciate white teas the way they were meant to be appreciated. This was rather like warm jasmine spa water to me. The jasmine flavor was nice, but there wasn’t much else to it.

I have a lot more white tea in my stash so I’ll have more tries to find one I can discern flavor in, but I think it may be one of those things where I really want to like white tea but just don’t see the point.

In other news, one of our kitties has been quite sick. Thyroid problems, kidney problems, and earlier this week she had a stroke and some seizures that left her blind and unable to walk. We thought Tuesday would be her last day with us, but she made it through and is actually recovering slowly. She is walking a little, but we can’t tell whether she is still blind. Such a sad time in our house. She’s pretty much everyone’s favorite kitty.


Sorry to hear about your cat. My dear little old lady Flame Point/Turkish Van mix, LeeLee, died the end of January. She was in her 20s but a scrappy little soul. I miss her a great deal. She was my favorite. I’ll light a candle for your feline friend.


Thank you, Whitantlers!


I mean Whiteantlers. :-)


You’re very welcome. I think sometimes petless folks underestimate the close bonds we forge with our domestic animal companions. My cats are not surrogate kids; they are my mute friends who still like me even on a bad hair day. They are always happy to sit quietly in the sun with me when I’m drinking tea.

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drank Mint Pu-erh by Numi Organic Tea
1248 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 48 of 2016 (no. 259 total).

The second to last of the Numi bagged pu-erhs in my stash. I made this my go-to work tea for the afternoon after the magnolia pu-erh.

My parting reaction, on the occasion of this sipdown, is largely the same as the reaction I had to the magnolia. Which is to say, it was pleasant while it lasted, but I don’t see myself buying it again. It was fun to experiment with when I was starting out, but I’m ready to get more serious about pu-erh.

S.G. Sanders

Have you tried the basil-mint? It’s refreshing; that “freshly plucked basil and mint” flavor.


Numi puerh was my gateway to the more costly stuff and I always have a few bags in my cupboard. A brother and sister started the company in Oakland when I lived there and I almost wound up working for them.

Daylon R Thomas

The Numi Chocolate Pu-Erh was my official introduction. My unknown introduction was the Mint-Nilla Chai-Nilla blend from The Spice and Tea Exchange. Liquid Proust and Steepster made sure to expand my horizons on it, though I’m honestly picky about my Pu-Erh and like the more delicate ones.


I didn’t like the Numi Mint Puerh but I liked the Emperor’s Puerh a lot.


I still love Numi’s Emperor and Chocolate Pu-Erhs.


Basil mint? No, I haven’t tried that one. Sounds wild. For those of you who mentioned the chocolate, that is the one I’m “working on” at work now. About half a box left at this point. I like that one the best of them all. It reminds me of gingerbread more than chocolate.

I could see drinking any of these again, actually. I just probably won’t because I have so many more teas to explore and I want to try some of the more exotic pu erhs.

S.G. Sanders

If you want to try a few packs, PM me! It’s quite exotic.


Thanks so much RF, but I am totally tea-overloaded. I do have a lemon basil oolong in my stash so I’ll give that a try when I am in the mood for something… exotic. ;-)

S.G. Sanders

Ha-ha. Fair enough!

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drank Bohea by Teas Etc
1248 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 47 of 2016 (no. 258 total).

I made a mistake with this one.

I was looking for a plain black tea to make into cold brew and was having a hard time finding ones I either hadn’t yet tried as cold brew or knew I liked too much to use that much tea at a time. I hadn’t ever tried this one so I pulled it out of the stash.

I didn’t read about it before starting to spoon it into the container and it wasn’t until I was five scoops in, I realized that the cold brew container was going to require all of this that I had.

Around the same time, I realized I was smelling smokiness in the tea. Doh. If I’d read the description I would have known this was “the original lapsang.”

So I used all I had off this for cold brew, and I don’t really like smoky teas in cold brew.


It’s not horrible, it’s just that I’m sure I would have liked it a lot more if I had made it hot.

Not rating it.

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drank Purity by Tavalon Tea
1248 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 46 of 2016 (no. 257 total).

The thing the BF and no. 1 have has made its way to me. I had wanted to break open some new teas this weekend but since I couldn’t taste them at this point I decided against it.

This is good, it’s just more mint than ginger or tea by a lot so not overly interesting.

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Sipdown no. 45 of 2016 (no. 256 total).

The BF and No. 1 both have some respiratory thing. No. 1’s involves a fever, sore throat and cough. The BF’s doesn’t seem to have fever, just everything else.

Knowing that the BF likes this one, when he asked for tea this morning I took the opportunity to record a sipdown.

Drink this for the strawberry, not the pu-erh. It’s pleasant.

S.G. Sanders

Is this a new tea?


They’ve been selling it for a while. At least five years.


feel better. Fresh sliced ginger with honey really helps

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drank After Dark by Tavalon Tea
1248 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 44 of 2016 (no. 255 total).

I still find this quite wonderful. Though I’ve now had this for a while (and it has been opened for a while) the chamomile still tastes fresh and creamy and not like dry straw as chamomile sometimes can. The fruity flavor is sweet, and the hibiscus plays well here, taking the edge off the fruit which might otherwise be too candy-like.

This is something I will buy again. And now I’m one step closer to being out of herbal lockdown. I haven’t counted how many are left but I think it is just a few, not counting the Refresh and I Love Lemon that I stocked up on in the grocery store.

P.S. Bad day here. Kitty no. 1 is in the hospital. She’s 14 and they think it’s a kidney problem. I’ve been through this a couple of times before and it isn’t fun.

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Sipdown no. 43 of 2016 (no. 254 total).

The latest tea to travel with me to work daily in the Timolino. Scratched bottom on the tin today.

Fresh, sweet, tasty, and pleasant. I’ll miss this one.

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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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