1183 Tasting Notes

drank Pumpkin Pie by Art of Tea
1183 tasting notes

Hi there. I am alive! It has been about a year since I have been around. Coincidentally, we have been having a cold snap in northern California, so I have started winnowing the stash again.

I see my last sipdown was in 2014 and I was on a roll. I had 163 for the year at that time. Then I disappeared.

Rather than start over for 2015, which is almost over in any case, I’m going to take up where I left off and we’ll call this Sipdown No. 164 as I suspect there will be more before I turn into a pumpkin again. Yeah, I know this is about pumpkin pie. The BF asked for something the other day when it got cooler and as it was Thanksgiving week, I figured this was a good choice. Looking back on a previous note, he wasn’t overly crazy about this when we last tried it but this time around he was much more excited by it.

I thought it was pretty much the same as I’d mentioned in previous notes — a rather ordinary cinnamon spice tea when very hot, but more pie-like as it cools. Even if I was in the market for more tea/tisanes I would probably not put this hugely high on the list but only because I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin pie (the pastry). If you love pumpkin pie, you’ll likely love this as well.

Now to play a bit of personal catch up. I can’t now recall what got me so busy that I abandoned ship in late 2014, but I can say that between now and then I’ve had one of the worst years of my life. Probably the only one worse was 1996, when my mother died and my marriage was about to end.

At the end of 2014, I went to visit my closest friend at her farm in New Jersey. She had been battling cancer for twenty years, and had been cancer free for about 15 of those years, but it started catching up with her and it was pretty clear during the visit that things were not great. About a week after I returned home, I heard that she had died, which was quite a blow. Fast forward to the summer when I learned that I was very likely going to lose my job of 16 years in the fall as a result of budget crunches associated with a corporate restructuring, which indeed came to pass. I have been unemployed since October and beating all the usual bushes looking for work. Frankly, if it was just me, it wouldn’t be so bad — I’ve worked pretty much straight through for about 30 years and it would be nice to have a bit of time off if I wasn’t worried about providing for my kids. But as I’m the sole breadwinner, I have felt enormous pressure to find something else and have been spending most of my time for the past few months in that endeavor. Then, out of the blue, a few weeks ago, I learned another friend died very suddenly. I have to say that I cannot wait for January 1, to be rid of this year.

Even so, I did have some small successes over the past year. I qualified for an associate membership in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, which had been a goal of mine. I sold a few stories and I’ve had quite a few near misses as well, much more than I used to when I first started submitting, so there is that. One might think that having more time to write would be a good thing, and if it was just me, I would agree. But because of the kid support thing which is rather fear inducing I haven’t been able to do much writing recently. I finally told myself I was going to take a week off of the job search last week while the kids were home for “Harvest Week” and it was the first time I was able to relax enough even to read fiction since last June.

In any case, now that I’m dipping into tea again and am compulsive enough to feel that I must record beginnings, ends, and interesting in-betweens with the teas in my cabinet, you may see some more of me, at least in the near term.

I will never in a million years be able to catch up on all the notes in my feed so I’m not going to pressure myself into trying. I’ll just jump in while the jump rope is turning and wave as I go by. ;-)


Welcome back! So sorry 2015 was full of sorrow. But it’s only one month left.


Thanks, boychick. Great to see you.


Hello again! It does sound like a frustrating and sad year. Here’s hoping 2016 is excellent to you.


Welcome back! Sorry to hear of the hard times, but at least there were some good and tea throughout for comfort! Looking forward to your notes :)


Glad you’re back, Morgana! Sorry you’ve had such a hard year, but congrats on the stories and S.F.F.W.A., that’s really cool!


Thanks OMG, MissLena, and Tamarindel! It’s great to see all of you!

carol who

Morgana… can you give us your nom de plume so we can check out some of your stories?


Hi Carol! I write under the name J. J. Roth, and you can get to some of my stories through links at my site, jjroth.net

Hope you enjoy!

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drank Peppermint by Teavana
1183 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 163 of the year 2014.

The weekend after we got back from Scotland, we went to a family wedding in Boston. Rather a whirlwind. We flew all day Friday (had to take the kids out of school on the first Friday school day of the year) were there Saturday for the welcome party for the out of towners and various festivities on Sunday ending with the wedding and reception, brunch Monday and then left at around 4 in the afternoon. We were all worse for wear but only one of us got sick. Now that I think about it I wonder whether the new diabetes diagnosis was the reason the BF got sick. I understand it has an effect on the immune system.

In any case, he contracted a nasty throat thing and basically plowed through what was left of this in an effort to soothe his throat. It really helped him, to the point where he said, weakly, “Can more get more?” which was amusing because he’s always going on about how ridiculous it is that I have as much tea as I do. I had to remind him that I couldn’t, because of the law he himself had previously laid down.

This was, in fact, a really nice straight peppermint. It appears Teavana isn’t selling it anymore. LOL.

But that’s okay with me, because I’ve standardized on Tazo Refresh as my mint herbal of choice.

In other news, I cracked open my huge can of LeafSpa pu erh and am trying a cold brew with it. Will be interesting to see what comes of that.

It is incredibly hot here, hotter than some of the days in August, and the idea of hot beverages isn’t popping into my mind as something I really want these days. But that’s the thing about life, the world keeps spinning and eventually, the cooler days come.

Hope all is well with everyone!


If he’s still got trouble, and if you have it as per The Law, give him chamomile and licorice root. It’s not particularly tasty, but I find it very soothing on a sore throat.


Hope you enjoyed Scotland!


I almost couldn’t even believe you when you said Teavana doesn’t sell peppermint tea anymore so I checked. It’s not on the website. That’s funny. How do you have a tea company and not sell a standard staple like peppermint?!


Thanks for the suggestions, A. F, I certainly did. TK, I know right?

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Hi all! I’m back from Scotland, though I wish I was still there. We had a wonderful time. We spent about four days sightseeing in Glasgow, three in Edinburgh, and took trips to Stirling, Loch Lomond, Loch Ness and Inverness, St. Andrews, and many other places along the way to each of these. And we rode the Jacobite Steam train, aka Hogwarts express. I have a few pictures up at my web site in my latest post there that show some of the castles and lakes (or lochs, I should say) we saw, and the train. I have about a gazillion other photos, of course. Take a peek if you like at www.jjroth.net

My older son got an authentic kilt and he looks amazing in it. We have many great stories to tell from our travels, and I have some new weird ideas for fiction. Now if only I could move to a cottage in the highlands where I could get away from it all and write them!

But you probably want to know about this tea? (Not that it matters a lot since the company is out of business.) Here’s the skinny. I needed some iced tea, or so I thought, to power the packing before Scotland. So even though I didn’t taste this steeped hot first, I decided to try an oolong cold brew since I had a lot of this.

I dutifully cold brewed, removed the leaves, put it back in the fridge. And completely forgot about it.

Fast forward two weeks later, when we got back from Scotland. I wondered whether I dare try it or whether it would be spoiled. The back of my fridge is pretty cold. Indeed, things have been known to ice up there, and this was in the back. So I risked it. Not only wasn’t it spoiled, it tasted terrific. I am now a huge fan of oolong cold brew, at least the roasty toasty kind of dark oolong in cold brew. I haven’t tried making a green oolong cold brew, but now I want to give it a go.

The one thing I didn’t do in Scotland that I should have was drink tea. I just never thought about it while I was there because it was just me with the two kids and we were on the go constantly, but that was a missed opportunity. We did have some lovely haggis and cullen skink, though. ;-)

Hope all is well with everyone!

Iced 8 min or more 8 tsp 64 OZ / 1892 ML

Trip looks/sounds great!


Nice to see you morgana, sounds like you had such a lovely trip, yay :-)


oooooo I want to visit Scotland one day.


Glad you had so much fun!


Thanks, all! It was tremendous!

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Sipdown no. 162 of the year 2014. I had two cups worth of leaf left, steeped in the Breville and poured over ice, then took it with me to drink while the kids had their Kung Fu lessons. I spent part of that time reading Dune Messiah on the Kindle. This was a nice accompaniment to the aforementioned activities. Flavorful but not harsh as some assams can be. Stood up well to ice. I just steeped it normally without any effort to make it more concentrated, and it took a good two cups of ice on top of the two cups of water like a trooper.

Why Dune Messiah? I read the first Dune many years ago but never got to the sequels. Now I’m in the midst of a brain cram event, trying to read as much classic SF and fantasy as I possibly can so that I’ll know as much as possible about the genres I’ve chosen for my own writing, but interspersed with more current work as well. For you OCD sympathizers, my current fiction reading regime goes something like this. Two literary short stories, two SFF short stories, an SFF novel, and start over until I finish 10 SFF novels, when I read a literary novel. When I run out of literary short stories in my collection I am planning to turn to non-fiction. (I have way more books than any person should have. Next to tea, they’re my primary buying vice.) And then I work in, as necessary, the books I have to read for my writing classes. Currently reading in literary short stories, Mark Helprin, Ellis Island. Currently reading in SFF short stories, Karin Tidbeck, Jagganath. Recently read SFF novels (the most recent grouping of 10): A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin; The Forever War, Joe Haldeman; Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein. Next up, Flowers for Algernon. I can’t believe I never read that one. I know kids in my junior high had to read it for class, but (not meaning to sound elitist) I was in the advanced classes so we didn’t read it. I think we read Brave New World instead. Or maybe something by Thomas Hardy. I read a shitload of Thomas Hardy in junior high and high school. (Why?)

Ah well. I am off to try to relax for a bit before the next round of errands in preparation for the Scotland trip. I need a carry-on on wheels that will meet airline regulations, and the kids need sneakers. Tomorrow I’m going to start packing them up (two weeks in advance, but it will make me feel more relaxed).

How is everyone’s weekend going?


Have a great time in Scotland . I have nothing exciting to report. I’m in Pocono, PA until September . It’s good and quite. Too quite for me that I can’t sleep.


I loved A wizard of earthsea when I was a kid, and I enjoyed Dune, but it’s been awhile. Have an awesome time in Scotland.


Have a great time in Scotland Morgana


I had to suffer through Hemingway in school. Years later, I borrowed “Flowers for Algernon” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” from my son after he read them for classes…Much better choices.

I’m not going anywhere this weekend. Too much writing to be done. Maybe someday the novels I’m working on will be part of the collection crowding your shelves :)


Have a wonderful trip!!!


Thanks all! It’s still a couple of weeks away, but I’m getting excited. MsWhatsit, good luck on your novels!

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Sipdown no. 161 for the year 2014.

I tried this hot at least once, but alas, I appear not to have written a note about it. It was a while ago, but my recollection is that it was pleasantly fruity, with the fruit dominant over the tea flavor. The fruit is, I suppose, currant, though I think of currants as tasting raisin-y and this tastes more grape-y or perhaps a grape-cherry mix of some kind.

But I remembered reading somewhere that this was good iced (I think it was Angrboda whose note I’m remembering) so I decided to give this a try as a cold brew. Unfortunately, given the size of my preferred cold brew receptacle, that pretty much did away with all of what was left in the packet, and there wasn’t even quite enough to make me confident that this would brew well cold (because the leaves are so much bigger, I was planning to put in a couple more spoonfuls than usual).

Fortunately, it was enough, and it worked really nicely. I steeped this for probably longer than I should have, about 12 hours, but no bitterness. A really nice fruit flavor, and a little bit of a leafy white tea flavor in the background, which, thankfully, doesn’t have that dead plant thing going that white teas sometimes have.

I’m really sorry I don’t have any more of this. I’m rating it high because it’s one of the tastier cold brew experiences I’ve had. Very refreshing, very mellow, really hits the spot. And it wasn’t too shabby hot, either.

Now for the sad story. I have a mystery envelope in my Steepster mailbox. I think someone sent me a message then realized they sent to the wrong person and deleted it before I opened it in my mailbox. (I did see an email telling me the post had come but I was tied up and couldn’t get to it for a few days.) Somehow this had the effect of making a permanent red envelope with a one on it in my mailbox. I wrote to the Steepster overlords who suggested clearing my cache. I have just started using Google Chrome (I am still nervous about it, as in my book Google is the new Microsoft and I’m not too excited about their having information about what I do online but so many sites are now optimized for Chrome I finally gave up) so I went to clear my cache and when I did, Chrome suggested I browse incognito. Stupidly, I said yes, then couldn’t figure out how to get rid of that mode. I searched online and everything I read said you can’t get rid of it without editing the registry. Well, I was a crack at DOS, but I have never gotten along with Windows, so I wasn’t about to attempt that. I found a utility on CNET that claimed to remove incognito so I downloaded it. Guess what. Got rid of incognito but loaded me up with malware! Thirty minutes later I’m much better (thank you Malwarebytes, you’re my hero) but after all that I STILL HAVE THE RED ENVELOPE!


Iced 8 min or more 8 tsp 64 OZ / 1892 ML

Oh man, sorry to hear about that annoying envelope. I hate when my apps on my phone have little red notification bubbles. For something so small, they sure are annoying!


I know, I hate those little things on my phone, too. Ugh.

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drank Orange U Slim by Teas Etc
1183 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 160 for the year 2014. It was overcast this afternoon as I went home and so I actually felt like drinking hot tea for the first time in a while. So I decided to polish off this sample.

More orange this time, and more flavor overall, but still not a favorite.

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drank White Ayurvedic Chai by Teavana
1183 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 159 for the year 2014. Two big containers of cold brew later, I get to say goodbye to this one.

And the good news is, it is MUCH better cold. If you have this and are not a fan, try it cold. Overleaf it, too. I used about 10 heaping DavidTEA spoon scoop fulls for 2 quarts of water.

I should also say that for a white/green blend, it is very forgiving as a cold brew. I left mine in for more than 24 hours and it came out without any bitterness.

That said, much better isn’t anything to write home about. Mostly I taste pepper, cinnamon and water with perhaps a very light tinge of tea to it. However, the lotion-y note is gone, and the spicy water flavor isn’t so awful as a water alternative to thirst quencher. I’ve just had much better.

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drank White Ayurvedic Chai by Teavana
1183 tasting notes

Ever look at your teas and have a total blank in your mind where information about how you ended up with it should be? That’s this tea. I thought it might be a tea of the month acquisition, but I had two 2 oz packets of it and the tea of the month club I belonged to only sent 2 oz per flavor. Big mystery here.

In any case, this containing both white and green tea, I steeped it at a low temperature for a short time and I intentionally overleafed because it’s Teavana, and it has big hunks of stuff in among the leaves. Coconut, dried pineapple, red peppercorns are very visible as is the lemon grass with its attractive geometry. It smells a lot like cinnamon in the tin.

After steeping it smells a little like cinnamon, a little like clove and cardamom, and a lot of that weird lotion-y note that I so disliked in the Teavana Tulsi Dosha Chai. Which makes me think that I perhaps unfairly pinned that note on the tulsi rather than on some oddness inherent in Teavana non-black tea chai. The liquor is a lemon yellow color and rather cloudy.

Rather unfortunately, the taste is a sort of generic, watery, cinnamon-y, pepper-y spice, with the weird lotion-y note in the aftertaste. I don’t taste any of the fruit, and I taste very little of the tea. I will try overleafing more severely next time and perhaps bump up the steep time and temp a bit, but I fear overdoing those and ending up with a bitter mess. It’s not as bad as I remember the tulsi being in terms of aftertaste so I’m giving it a few more points there, but this is going into the sipdown immediately category. I may even try cold brewing it to get it over with faster.

And of course, this is among the flavors Teavana still offers. Why do I always like the ones they discontinue and with a few exceptions dislike the ones they continue? Another mystery…

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

TF, I hope not! LOL


I have that problem often, Morgana. When I worked at the body shop they constantly discontinued my favourites, or the scents that worked best for me.


So frustrating!

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Sipdown no. 158 for the year 2014. I’m having this hot because I’m out of cold brew black tea and waiting for another batch to do its thing in the fridge. I’d love to try a jasmine green cold brew, but I am hesitant to part with the amount of tea it takes to make up a batch since it’s such a favorite. I may break down and do it, though.

This isn’t the most spectacular jasmine green I’ve had but it’s quite good for one on the light side (both the tea and the jasmine).

Happy July 4 to all you Americans in Steepsterland!


woot! grats on the sipdowns :)

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Sipdown no. 157 for the year 2014. This is a back log from yesterday when I polished off the last little bit of this as my morning hot cup.

I’m on a sipdown roll with these black Leafspas. Though Darjeeling isn’t really black, they just call it that. This is the third sipdown of a mega tin inside of a week, helped tremendously by the cold brewing that is going on pretty frequently these days given the heat here. I let this one steep a bit too long I think, but it’s still tasty and just a tad bitter. Darjeeling makes an interesting cold brew. I don’t know that I’d pick it for that ordinarily as it’s a little piquant for a cold tea in my book.

Which raises a question. What else do you like to cold brew? Is oolong a good choice? I have a ton of it and not as much time these days as I need to enjoy it hot through multiple steeps. If it’s a good choice, how long should it brew, or does it matter?

Also, what about pu erh? I have a lot of loose pu erh and the idea of cold brewing it sounds kind of yuck, but I dunno, maybe it would be interesting?

Thanks in advance for your suggestions and sorry for my continued sporadic appearances. Things are getting kind of complicated here. The BF was admitted to the hospital last night with raging diabetes, and they haven’t let him out yet, so things are under an unusual amount of stress. Hope everyone else is having a better week. :-)


I cold steep oolong. It’s also really good if I only have time for a few steeps and then throw it in cold water in my fridge.


Wish your BF get well soon
I cold brew oolongs.


We do miss you Morgana …sending good vibes your way, hope he gets well real soon.

I cold brew EVERYTHING! Oolong, especially milk oolong is pure awesomeness. I love shou also, and I’ve been on a cold brewed chai mode the last few weeks. So good!


Excellent! I shall try an oolong cold brewed, probably sometime his weekend. And TF, cold brewed chai made my ears perk up. How do you do that? Do you brew it in milk and sugar?

Thanks all for the kind wishes. The BF is home after spending about 24 hours in the hospital. They gave him some drugs and a glucose monitor. His sugars are still quite high, but he’ll go back in a week to get checked.


It’s good news! Happy 4th of July !


Glad he’s home :-)

No milk, just about two teaspoons in a mason jar. I do cold brew chai in coconut or almond milk though….so good!


Oh, and add a little maple syrup to cold brewed chai, decadent!! :-)


Sending you big hug


I’m glad to hear he’s home. Hopefully, he’s doing even better today!


Thanks everyone!

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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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