1183 Tasting Notes

drank Formosa Ali Shan by Adagio Teas
1183 tasting notes

I had a totally klutzy moment and knocked over the first infusion of this. Ugh.

It’s rolled up and fragrant in the tin and 5g of leaves in the gaiwan didn’t seem like much volume. But the leaves did quite an unfurl, and ended up filling the gaiwan by the end of the session.

It has a sweet dairy/floral fragrance in the cup. Very light yellow liquor. Almost colorless on the first infusion. A little more color on subsequent infusions.

I think it might be worth my while to try a Taiwan green oolong in proximity to a China green oolong to see if I can make a generalization about the differences. So far it seems to me the Taiwan ones are somewhat less buttery and more perky, but that’s based on a rather small sample and a rather unscientific comparison.

The second infusion was sweetly floral with a tad of bitterness at the end of the sip. Not an unpleasant bitterness, just a bit of vegetable bitterness like some greens have.

The third steep is similar. There’s a freshness to the taste that is quite nice.

I took it through my usual five steeps and enjoyed it. But it does seem to be a bit of a johnny one note. Not a lot of complexity to this one, not a lot of evolution from steep to steep. Which is ok, sometimes. It might make a good western style steep given that not a lot seems to be gained by multiple short steeps.

Flavors: Floral, Milk


sounds yummy :)

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drank Anhui Keemun by Adagio Teas
1183 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 214. Much better today for some reason. Perhaps my taster was off the other day.

It probably helps that I just came back from working out and from taking a walk to grocery shop. Over 13K steps already and it’s not even 1 p.m. here. Yay me. It was brisk out, and this tea seems to go particularly well with brisk weather.

Of course, for all you Canadians, I realize brisk is a relative term. ;-)

I’m looking forward to trying more of the Keemuns in my stash to see how they compare. It is entirely possible that Adagio has a special Keemun here, it’s just that my comparative knowledge of Keemuns isn’t great enough to be able to say for certain and my having recently concluded that I agree with those who view them as a sort of “starter” tea company militates against that.

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drank Carnival by Sanctuary T
1183 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 213. The third sample in the Sanctuary Sampler.

One thing I will say about Sanctuary T’s teas: they’re visually interesting. This one had what looked like red peppercorns in it. It smelled a little nutty, a little cocoa-y in the packet. After steeping it’s a light orange brown color and I can smell the almonds.

I love pistachios, and I’m not sure I’ve ever had them in tea. I’m also not sure I can taste them distinctly in this tea, but the overall effect is delicious. It’s a spice tea, but it isn’t too spicy and there’s no single spice that is yelling at the top of its lungs, probably because it doesn’t contain cinnamon, clove, or anise, all of which have a tendency to do that. As the tea cools, I can smell and taste the cumin and the coriander, which is pretty interesting. Cumin could have the yelling at the top of its lungs tendency but it’s quiet and enjoyable here.

There’s a softness to the mouthfeel, and a pleasant nutty-sweet aftertaste.

It’s really good. But like the Geisha Beauty of yesterday I’m not sure it’s something I’d drink a lot. Flavored teas with this sort of profile lean toward chai for me and I’m not sure how often I’d pick something like this over chai assuming I had the time to make chai. But I could see it happening. Plus, I drank this without additives and it didn’t need them.

Flavors: Almond, Coriander, Nuts, Spices

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

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drank Formosa Pouchong by Adagio Teas
1183 tasting notes

I see I liked this the last time I tried it. Today, I’m giving it another go, this time gong fu style in the gaiwan with slightly hotter water as I’ve been enjoying the way water a bit hotter than 195 brings out different flavors in my oolongs.

Lovely flavor, fresh, floral and a little milky on the first steep. A little more buttery on the second. After the second, I stopped taking notes and just enjoyed.

I am wondering whether it make sense to have separate yixings for Taiwan oolongs or not. Anyone have any thoughts on that? I.e., green Taiwan oolongs in one yixing, dark in another, green Chinese oolongs in another, dark in a fourth. I ask because I went a bit nuts on teaware and although I’ve seasoned a light and dark China oolong pot, I have several more pots that I haven’t dedicated yet and am trying to decide what to do with.



If you have the teaware, then why not? :)


I like how you think. :-)

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drank Geisha Beauty by Sanctuary T
1183 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 212. The second in the Sanctuary Sampler.

I am always puzzled by how to steep teas that mix different types of tea with different steeping temperatures and lengths. This is a black/green blend. I’m going just a tad hotter than usual for green, 180F, and the same length of time in the hopes that this doesn’t get bitter.

It smells very peachy in the sample packet. The leaves look sencha-esque. The tea is a light amber color and has some floaters in it, which I often find the case to be with sencha. Something about it manages to evade the Breville filter. It smells very peachy, with a vanilla edge. Given the ingredient list I would have expected some rose, but I don’t smell rose.

The tea is very pleasant tasting. There’s a sugary sweetness to it, as well as a peach/vanilla flavor. It’s not bitter at all at this temp. I don’t taste a lot of tea, but what I do taste is mostly the green, probably because I steeped at a low temperature and for a short time.

As flavored tea mixes go, this is a good one. I’m unlikely to purchase it in quantity simply because this isn’t the sort of thing I usually find myself wanting to drink, but that’s not a reflection of the tea’s flavor or quality.

Flavors: Peach, Sugar, Vanilla

180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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drank Anhui Keemun by Adagio Teas
1183 tasting notes

So, how long before they start naming teas after the characters in The Force Awakens? (They probably already have.)

My memory of this one is much different from how it tastes now, and I think perhaps I’m discovering that Keemun is more sensitive to age-related flavor change than other black teas because the same was true of the other Adagio Keemun I hoarded and have just recently sipped down.

In looking back at how I described the flavor of this one originally, I sort of get what I said then. Although there’s not so much of a leather element now, and what I described as bread now tastes to me like raw potato. The smoke is definitely still there, as is the mellowing in the aftertaste.

It’s not as great as it once was, but it isn’t the tea’s fault. On the upside, I don’t have to feel quite so guilty for sipping it down (I have enough for one serving left).

I was gonna say this is a sort of a Han Solo of a tea, bold, with an underlying sweetness and a surprising complexity. But Han definitely aged better than this did.

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drank Woodland Walk by Todd & Holland
1183 tasting notes

I like the name of this one so I cracked open the sample.

The tea in the packet smells like fruity trail mix. Really. It would sort of look like it as well if not for the dark tea leaves in among the mix.

The aroma of the steeped tea is a malty Yunnan tea smell with a tart hibiscus streak and berries around the edges. It’s a clear, brown, tea-colored tea.

The first thing I taste is hibiscus, but it’s not pucker-worthy hibiscus. Whether because of the fruit or because of the underlying tea, there is a sweetness that makes it not only tolerable, but tasty. I can taste the berries as well. Blueberry more than strawberry, but both are distinguishable. The tea itself isn’t easy to detect, but there’s a subtle, cocoa-like note that I think comes from the tea.

I keep thinking to myself how this would be different if a French company did it. It would be like this, but with a few hard edges filed off. This is a bolder flavor than most French flavored black teas I’ve had, but it is still quite enjoyable for a change of pace in the flavored black tea department.

Flavors: Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Cocoa, Hibiscus, Strawberry

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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drank Serenity by Sanctuary T
1183 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 211. A sample.

I have three sets of samples from Sanctuary T and I have absolutely no memory of how I got them. I found them when I was doing the quasi-inventory of my stash. This is from something called the Sanctuary Sampler, which contains four other items: a fruit blend, a black flavored tea, and two tea mixes (one black and green with peach flavoring and one white and green with passionfruit flavoring). Should be interesting.

I had planned to have this one a bit earlier, but I settled in to watch Star Wars IV with the kids and didn’t feel like making it. Now I find myself with a touch of insomnia, and thought I’d make some of this and see if the combination of drinking it and reading will make me serene enough to go to sleep.

Its a visually attractive blend, with more color to it than the picture indicates. Yes, there is a fair amount of lemongrass creating a boxy geometry, but there are also some flowers. Chamomile, which I can smell. And I would have thought rose, except rose isn’t on the list of ingredients. It smells rosy to me, though, and there’s something pink in the mix. Perhaps it is the lavender? In any case, I like the gentle floral smell mixed with the lemongrass scent.

It makes an amber colored liquor that smells mostly of chamomile. The flavor is a fairly sweet, fairly unobtrusive mix of chamomile and other floral. Mostly lavender. There’s a fresh note that is probably the peppermint.

It’s very nice. The chamomile isn’t at all straw-like, and none of the flavors overpower the others. I’m not sure whether I’d pick this over Harney’s Yellow and Blue. The main difference is the peppermint, but I remember the Yellow and Blue being a bit creamier in its chamomile, too. It’s hard to say given that it has been a while since I had the Yellow and Blue.

Flavors: Floral, Peppermint

Boiling 7 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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Well, I pulled this out of the stash to have today and then decided to finish the Truffles from Todd & Holland since it wasn’t a favorite. I’m just now getting around to this, and then it will be go directly to non-caffeine for me.

There are hunks of what look liked dried apple in among the very dark leaves. Perhaps that is the orange zest. The tea has a nice smell in the tin, like so many French teas. The French tea houses really seem to pay attention to how their blends smell as well as taste, which I suppose isn’t surprising given the perfume connection. I can detect the orange and vanilla in the dry tea, though I get more of a cinnamon, apple and clove smell in the steeped aroma. The tea is a clear reddish mahogany color.

It has a mild and pleasant orange spice tea flavor. It makes me think of Constant Comment, but the flavor in this one is far less heavy handed and the tea is obviously better quality than what one gets in the Constant Comment bags. The tea base is lovely and smooth. It’s a nice blend.

I read in a description of the tea at the Mariage Freres site that it includes almond, but the most I get of the almond is just a little in the aftertaste. Then again, blends like this tend to differ from steep to steep depending on the mix that shows up in your teaspoon each time, so maybe next time I’ll get more almond. And then again, there is no indication that this contains apple, and yet I get an apple-like aroma and flavor from it, so go figure.

Flavors: Apple, Cinnamon, Clove, Orange, Vanilla

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

I just opened my tin of this today… it really does smell so good!


Hope you enjoy!


I will. :) I think it’s my favourite French Christmas Tea yet.

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drank Truffles by Todd & Holland
1183 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 210. The rest of the sample. Merry Christmas to those celebrating!


Merry Christmas, Morgana!

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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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