1183 Tasting Notes


Sipdown no. 61 of 2016 (no. 272 total). A sample tin.

The leaves are gorgeous and look like a cross between silver needles and dragonwell leaves.

I had two servings left of this and took one to work last week. Taking the last bit with me today. My original note on this is still my opinion. I’m interested in trying other yellow teas for comparison.

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drank Tenryu Sencha by Todd & Holland
1183 tasting notes

I seem to have two sample packets of this, and I’m trying to open up some alternatives for my green teas to take to work so cracked open one of the samples today.

This is a surprisingly complex sencha. Often they seem to me to have a single note of grass or hay, but this one smells like rice and edamame in the packet and like all sorts of things after steeping. There’s a salt note that’s interesting, a salty flavor but without actual salt. It’s more vegetal than most senchas I’ve had, and a bit more astringent. There’s definitely a drying to the mouth in the aftersip.

It’s light yellow in color in the cup.

A very enjoyable tea. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be available from Todd & Holland anymore.

Flavors: Bok Choy, Grass, Marine, Rice, Salt, Soybean

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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Not quite to the bottom of this sample yet, and really enjoying this cup.

It follows the Tea Gmumblmublecan’teverspellitwithoutlookingitup Marzipan and a tuna sandwich. One or the other or both, or perhaps making this at a slightly lower temperature (200F) has brought out a really lovely second flush flavor.

We’re heading into the very hot months in my neck of the woods, when traditionally my tea consumption drops off and so does my note posting. In fact, I often disappear for months at a time right around now. The draw of cold brew may keep that from happening this year. We shall see. It will be a busy summer. The kids aren’t quite out of school yet and both kids’ baseball teams are still in the running during the little league playoffs. Plus, no. 1 got on a summer tournament team (great honor for him, lots of schlepping for us) so it’s gonna be a busy few months.

I think I’ve concluded that darjeeling goes well with fish.


Heeheehee! We all know EXACTLY who you mean!

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I have an embarrassingly large collection of chai, so much so that I think it’s probably impossible for me to drink it all hot in this lifetime. Plus, the few LeafSpa teas I have left are leaving the realm of ancient and entering the realm of prehistoric, so I am trying to find ways to sip them down quickly.

That led me to wonder what a chai blend would be like in an iced tea. So I cold brewed some.

I am not sure what I was expecting. Part of me expected it to suck, and part of me was hoping to be pleasantly surprised. The reality is somewhere in between.

If I didn’t have a ton of this to get rid of, it wouldn’t be an experiment I’d repeat. But it’s not awful, so I’m repeating it. It tastes a lot like cold water laced with pepper and cardamom.

Evol Ving Ness

Sounds like it might need a glug of condensed milk to turn it into glorious.


If you brewed it hot, with the milk and sugar, and then chilled it in the fridge, I’m sure it would taste a lot better, like bottled masala chai. chai with black tea than with rooibos when it comes to cold masala chai.


I’m sure it would be better initially brewed hot too, as much as I love the cold brewing method. Those spices fare better that way, I think!

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An as yet untested sample, and what a really wonderful surprise.

Orange is a flavor I love, but find iffy in so many foods and teas that aren’t in and of themselves made of oranges. Since I’m a huge fan of ATR fruity teas, it should perhaps not be surprising that I thought this one was well done. But it isn’t just well done, it’s one of the most pleasant orange flavored teas I’ve tried. So of course, I can no longer find it on the ATR web site. Such luck I have.

Yes, orange is the dominant aroma and flavor, from a really succulent and juicy smell in the sample packet to a mellower and more spread out aroma in the steeped tea, to a somewhat tart, somewhat sweet, flavor with a tinge of peel-like bitterness; just enough to give the flavor a fruity authenticity without undermining the pleasing non-fakey character of the tea. The tea base is a truly a bass note here, a low rumble of accompaniment to the higher orange notes. I think it is a Ceylon but I’m not sure. In any case, it does its job exceptionally well.

I would buy this again if it were available.

Flavors: Molasses, Orange, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML
American Tea Room

We are sorry we had to discontinue L’Orangerie – but we have several new and different teas – Romanoff might come closest.


Too bad this one isn’t still available since I’d prefer orange with the base they used here, it seems.

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drank Shincha Kunpu by Den's Tea
1183 tasting notes

I love the fine leaves of shinchas, like green, fragrant iron filings. They make a chartreuse colored liquor with a sweet, vegetal fragrance like sweet peas. The flavor is similar, though it’s not just a single note, and it dances back and forth a bit between sweet and something just short of bitter but not enough to be unpleasant, with some marine, seaweed notes and some grassy green ones.

Not my favorite of those I’ve had, but still quite good.

Flavors: Butter, Grass, Marine, Peas, Seaweed

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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drank Downy Sprout by Samovar
1183 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 60 of the year 2016 (no. 271 total). A sample. Only two Samovar samples left after this one. Both white teas.

I don’t know whether its the preparation or that it’s Samovar, but I am getting more flavor from this than I usually do from white teas. I definitely get the honeysuckle note, which is predominant in the taste and the smell. There’s also a rather intense high, sweet, nectary note that is most noticeable in the aroma. It reminds me of spun sugar.

The tea has a clear, amber liquor, and the flavor is actually pretty complex. The word tiers used in the description is a good one. It has a depth to it that I can’t say I’ve found in other white teas. While I mostly get a sweet nectar flavor, there’s also a fruitiness and a tawny undercurrent as though someone took an eyedropper and dropped a few drops of yunnan into this.

If I were to get a straight white tea again, this would be a major contender for that spot. I’ll likely not be in the market for quite a while, but fortunately this seems to still be on Samovar’s site at least for now.

Flavors: Honeysuckle, Nectar, Sugar

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 30 sec
Daylon R Thomas

Interesting sweetness for a white tea.


I frequently find sweetness in white teas. Often, a floral nectar note is about all I get from them.

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drank Marzipan by TeaGschwendner
1183 tasting notes

When I first smelled this out of the tin, I thought it was going to be another ringer for Brioche. The same sort of almond pastry smell to the dry leaf, which carried over to the tea’s aroma. It has a murky, caramel colored liquor that I thought meant it would have a sweet, pastry taste.

Wrong. It’s not at all sweet except an occasional fleeting note in the finish and aftertaste. There’s an almond note to the flavor and a Ceylon-like tea note, but it wasn’t at all as I expected a Marzipan-named tea to taste.

Which isn’t to say it’s awful or even unpalatable. I just expected something confectionery from the name. Which is why I’m rating this on the low site.

Flavors: Almond, Marzipan, Pastries

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

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drank Darjeeling 1st by Tavalon Tea
1183 tasting notes

I am not sure whether it is because I just had sardines and toast, but this is pretty awesome. It’s a very delicately flavored darjeeling when made according to the directions at a low temp, which is surprising because the dry leaf has that very distinctive and very strong sharp smell of many darjeelings. The basic underlying character is there in the steeped tea’s aroma, just smoothed out by a factor of about 30.

The liquor is golden, a surprisingly light color, and the flavor is mellow and strangely buttery, not a quality I’ve observed in a darjeeling before. Really, it’s like a layer of melted butter with a gentle greenish tea underneath.

For those of you who went ewww when I said sardines, this is one of the only things my dad used to make. He had a repertoire of about three dishes, one of which was taking canned Portugese skinless and boneless sardines in olive oil and mashing them up with lemon juice and vinegar, then having them on toast. Low calorie, high protein, and not a deep sea fish so the heavy metal concerns aren’t as great — easy, cheap, and delicious.

P.S. Am now binge watching Justified. Anyone else watch it? I was surprised that it was so funny, in a Pulp Fiction sort of way.

Flavors: Butter, Green

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

Justified was awesome.


I’m up to season 5.

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Opened up a new sample packet of this just now. Wonderful smell in the packet. Almost chocolatey, earthy, a little bit like dark chocolate baked goods. The steeped tea aroma is smooth and a tad sweet. It’s like the standard American notion of black tea, a bit reminiscent of Lipton.

The liquor isn’t as reddish as I generally expect from Ceylons. It’s a sort of brown-orange.

The flavor is quite mellow and smooth, not what I’d call “brisk” really though there is some astringency. It has a slightly metallic note, which is interesting. And though there is a honey note, it isn’t particularly sweet in the sip.

I like this one a lot. I think it would make a great iced tea as well.

Flavors: Honey, Metallic

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

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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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