1183 Tasting Notes


OK. This time I’m going to be a bit more systematic about what I noticed about this tea.

It’s got tippy leaves that smell earthy in the packet, and not smoky, though there is keemun in this. The steeped tea is a clear, reddish chestnut color, and has a malty, sweet aroma. I recall it being smoother the first time I tried it. Today I’m getting a bit of assam throat grab, but not enough to be bothersome. There’s some astringency in the sip, but the aftertaste is more cooling than drying.

I am working on a project to clean up my home office and right now it seems sort of insurmountable, though I’ve definitely made progress. Good thing I’m binge watching Veronica Mars, so I have something to do when I can’t take the organizing any more.


I love Veronica Mars!! A great choice to pass the time. Alas, it is no longer on Canadian Netflix :(


Me too! Is it on Canadian Amazon Prime?


I’m not sure though I do believe it’s on Shomi if you have that


The movie is on Netflix though


I’m getting it on Amazon Prime in the US.


We’ve been watching it again, too, with a friend who never saw it all.


I never saw it before because it originally started running between the birth of no. 1 and no. 2, and I didn’t watch a lot of TV then that wasn’t baby shows. Mostly because I was too tired to stay awake. ;-) It’s quite addictive.

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Today was a slow tea day. Too much running around.

I cracked open this tin and made some in the Breville, but I just poured it directly into the Timolino so I could leave the house. I’ll have to do a more detailed note later.

Given how much I love jasmine, I expected this to be something I’d adore. But it tasted like a washed out version of the Leafspa Jasmine Pearls which has far more flavor. And not just more tea flavor, more jasmine flavor as well.

It was easy to drink and it won’t be hard to sip down even though I have a ton of it. And I am not sure I’ve had a jasmine silver needle before. I believe I had the Adagio one, but I don’t have a note on it and I remember having trouble finding the sample I thought I had. In any case, I don’t have a lot to compare it to and I am perhaps unfairly comparing it to the jasmine pearls. I have enough to play around with it quite a lot, so I’ll try it in the gaiwan and at different concentrations and steeping times. I hope I can get more out of it but today it was like lightly jasmine flavored hot water.

Flavors: Jasmine

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec 6 g 17 OZ / 500 ML

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Sipdown no. 5 of 2016 (no. 226 total).

We drank this one in quantity during the BF’s evil grippe as well. He found it sufficiently gentle and sufficiently hot that it had medicinal value for him. Because it was being drunk in quantity, I mostly prepared it Western style, and I have to say that although I could discern a flavor some of the time, it was pretty much too subtle for me most of the time.

In the gaiwan, which I just tried again with the last little bit, I get more flavor. There’s a sweetness and a grassy/hay-like flavor. With a little bit of wood and something slightly (and oddly) marine-like as well.

I like the idea of white teas, and I think they look pretty, but I am not sure they are for me. I’ve had some really good flavored ones, but the plain ones often either have an eau de dead plant thing going on, or are just so subtle I’m not sure I’m tasting the tea to its full potential.

Perhaps I should have someone who knows how to make a good cup of white tea make one for me. My kids always say the bread and butter tastes better when I spread it than when they do.


3g 3mins 175-180f?


maybe even more, 185f/80c would be fine


I used 5g for 1 min at 175 and then for 1.5 min at 180 this time per *yyz*’s advice on steeping silver needle.


I always wonder if theres a scientific approach to less leaf & more time vs Less time & more leaf.

I might have to experiment with an excel graph handy one day


There probably is. If I’m not getting a lot of flavor out of something, I usually bump the leaf up instead of increasing the time first. If that doesn’t solve it, I keep the greater amount of leaf and bump up the time (except with greens, where I’m always worried I’m going to end up with bitterness if I go for more than a minute and a half).


I just did your way, and it is very similar to my way. Its still very much in the nose and subtle in the mouth. Reminds me of a white wine that has been really chilled where the flavour is less prominent the colder it gets.

I dont get the ‘eau de dead plant’ thing, I get dry wine, flowers, soft headfeel, maybe even citrus & bananas. But very much needing to sniff it while drinking


oh and sweetness, a bit of sugar or maybe caramel


I would try doubling the time to see if that helps. You can steep white tea at this temp for a while


The dead plant is more with white peony than with silver needle. Haven’t had it with silver needle.


Ah ok, i get you now :)


Not that you’ve had bad white teas by any means, but for me, pretty much the only ones that don’t taste like water to me are from Shang. I could send you some samples if you wanted.


Nicole, that’s a lovely offer but I have many more to try and I’ll be disowned if I allow more tea in the house. :-)


I’m not a huge white tea (or green or green oolong for that matter) fan. Then I discovered moonlight which led me to aged whites….. moonlight and aged whites are “light” but really flavorful – yeah I like them. If you are wanting to like white tea, I would take a look into them. Shang has a really good aged white brick…. just saying…(Nicole has recommended a good one).
Once you’re allowed more tea in the house of course….


Mariage Freres says… 5 g / 200 ml – 85°C – 15 min. It actually does work for some silver needle. Might be worth a try?


Thanks! Will try the steeping tips with the next silver needle and will keep the recommendations on file for 2018 when I come out of lockdown. lol


Is the shang silver needle really that good? I am down to my last 10g, and wanted to by a decent amount of fresh spring flush when it comes around in a few months

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Sipdown no. 4 of 2016 (225 total). A big tin.

After putting some in the fridge to cold brew, I had about two spoons left. I made some hot so I could record the sipdown.

I will say that as much as I don’t find the hot version at all interesting, the cold version is quite nice. I think the same things that make it not a great hot tea to me make it a good cold one. It’s unobtrusive and lacking in depth, bland but not without flavor. And these things make it easy to drink as a cold tea.

Now I have to figure out what to try cold next…

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Sipdown no. 3 of 2016 (224 total). The rest of the sample.

This one grew on me over the few days I drank it. Ordinarily, I would expect to prefer this to the English Breakfast simply because of the yunnan in the mix, but even though I like this better than I did when I started, the English Breakfast still has an edge. They’re both really solid, tasty, enjoyable teas.

There’s a distinct cocoa note to this one today, with honey in the finish.

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Sipdown no. 2 of 2016 (223 total).

I had a lot of this, and we’ve been drinking it in quantity while the BF has had some respiratory thing. He quite likes it.

I like it as well, though I think drinking it in quantity isn’t really for me. I would prefer to drink it as a sometime thing. Primarily because I always think of this as a lemon tea, and it really isn’t all that lemony, at least not in an I Love Lemon sort of way. It’s more of a suggestion of lemon coming from the herbal ingredients as there’s no actual lemon fruit in this. It’s lemon in a grassy, herby sort of way, which is okay for me some of the time but not all of the time.

For this reason, I don’t think this is something I’m likely to reorder any time soon, though it is a quality, tasty blend with nothing at all I can point to as a downside other than that these days I’m favoring fruity tisanes over other types.


Hmmm… I should have a cup of this. :) If you manage to get a vanilla piece in the cup, I find the addition really nice.


Yeah, I agree.

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Sipdown no. 1 of 2016 (and no. 222 total since I started counting down).

I hoarded this one for a long time mostly because I thought it was really cool looking. The tea is twisted into these little unicorn horns that are unlike anything I’d seen before, so that made me want to hold onto it.

While I was going through my stash, I discovered I had another tea that has these twisty leaves and even refers to unicorns in its name: http://steepster.com/teas/shanti-tea/11521-blue-unicorn

So the Shanti is an oolong rather than a green, but now that I remember I have twisty leaf tea of another sort, I find it easier to come to terms with the fact that I really liked how this tea looked more than I liked how it tasted. It’s tasty, but not hoardworthy tasty.

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Well, it seems I did steep this at boiling last time, unless I misrecorded the temperature. Don’t know why I thought I hadn’t.

I know that I definitely steeped it a boiling today and it was very enjoyable. The English Breakfast may be more to my taste, but today, a rainy cold day and the first day back after a mini-vacation, this is hitting the spot.

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Happy New Year! I hope everyone has a happy and healthy 2016. As for 2015, I am glad to see it go. Good riddance.

We decided at the last minute to go away for a few days so I’m getting ready for a short trip and don’t have a lot of time to do a proper note here. Fortunately, I have more of this so can give a more detailed account at another time.

I will say that this was quite yum today. Very smooth, very hearty, sweet yet perky, malty yet clean. Great with scrambled eggs and toast.

I am going to try the Irish version at boiling next time because I think it may need it. This would probably have seemed a bit washed out at a lower temp.

Anyway, I may not be on for a few days as I don’t know what the tea situation will be where I’m going, and I also will only have my phone and tablet which isn’t a fun way to write tea notes.

Have fun and play nice. I’ll see you when I get back. :-)

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

Have a great trip! :)


Thanks! I just got back from a massage where they offered me http://steepster.com/teas/the-republic-of-tea/793-ginger-peach-green

Jim Marks

Yeah, I’m tired of years I’m glad to see the back of. Let’s make 2016 one worth clinging til the very end.


Me too, Jim!

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drank Royal Garland by Samovar
1183 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 221. A sample.

I am down to my last few Samovar samples. After this there’s another oolong and then a few whites. I should have sipped these down long ago but I was hoarding them.

In any case, this is an interesting oolong. It has finer leaves than I’ve seen in the dry leaf of pretty much any other oolong I’ve had. They didn’t have a lot of fragrance dry (it’s an old sample, so that may be why) but the first steep resulted in a dark, toasty aroma with floral edges.

I steeped hot for the first steep, but in reading others’ notes, it appears that cooler is the way to go so I’m reducing the temp for the rest.

After the first infusion, the leaves have done something I’ve never seen in an oolong. They’ve become a glob of mush? They aren’t quite oatmeal, but close. And they’re sticking to the inside of the gaiwan lid.

Second infusion at 195F gives a fruity aroma, but the tea itself is still quite roasty, with a bitter end note. I get the darjeeling/muscatel comparison. I find that a lot in darker oolongs, and I’m finding it here.

Third infusion at 175 (since others have gone this low and I’m still trying to find the sweet spot that will make me rave like other Steepsterites). It is more floral at a lower temp, but I still haven’t hit the right combination. It remains bitter to my taste, and I’m now wondering whether I should have steeped it in accordance with the package directions instead of attempting to drink it gong fu style. I may be drinking a mixture that is too concentrated. In reading some others’ notes it appears some have had similar experiences where too much leaf for the right water volume results in bitterness and none of the pleasing notes others have found.

Sadly, this is no longer available from Samovar so I’ll never know what a different steeping method would have yielded.

Fourth infusion, I’m increasing the water volume to a full cup per the instructions on the sample packet and increasing the steep time to what is suggested. This takes care of the bitterness. It’s well and truly gone. I’m getting the beer note mentioned in the description, and much more floral than before. Not getting the cream/buttery notes but I do get gardenia in the aftertaste.

I put it through one more infusion using the directions on the packet. I wish I could go back and start over, and just use those directions as I think it would have made a difference. As, most likely, would have drinking this when it was much fresher.

As it is, I’m a bit disappointed but because I can’t tell whether it’s the tea’s fault or my fault, I’m not going to rate it.

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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 far less appealing to me. 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.

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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