1280 Tasting Notes

drank Maple Bacon by Man Teas
1280 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 99 of the year 2014.

This has been a difficult sipdown because the flavor of this tea, while incredibly maple bacon, isn’t for me.

If I didn’t think this had done a stellar job of living up to its name, my rating would definitely be in the orange face range.

Bye Maple Bacon. Thanks for your role in helping to refine my understanding of my own tastes.

ETA: No. 2 asked to try it and liked it, so I didn’t even have to finish the sipdown. Yay!


Good job for the sipdown though!


Thanks! And yay! LOL

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drank Jasmine #12 by Adagio Teas
1280 tasting notes

Continuing with the jasmine theme….

The last time I tasted this was quite a while ago, and I made it in the Breville. Today I’m doing short steeps in the gaiwan.

It makes all the difference in the world! This is at least as good a representative of its type as the Adagio Oolong #40 is for its. So I’m bumping the rating to the same number.

This responds very well to short steepings. The little rolled balls of leaves opened up for me fully by the third steep. I didn’t record in my original note whether they unfurled for me in the Breville, but my recollection is that they didn’t.

I did two at 30 seconds, two at 45 seconds, and I would have done more but we are leaving for no. 2’s birthday celebration.

Between this and the Tavalon Jasmine Dream, though, I definitely got my jasmine fix.


Happy Birthday to your son!


jasmine green tea is tasty


Thanks, boychik!

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As I’m getting toward the end of this sample, I’m zeroing in on the parameters at which it seems to perform best.

First, short steeps are better than long ones. I did multiple 30 second and 45 second steeps today instead of going up to a minute or more and I never hit the bitter edge that was unpleasant in one of my previous tastings.

Second, lots of leaf is better than less leaf. This is tied to the steeping times. I filled the gaiwan closer to half than a third today and I think it came out better.

Third, it helps to have some time to apply to the drinking of this rather than to do it while being rushed or distracted.

It’s very roasty/toasty, and that peachy note is available when you aren’t too distracted to think about what you’re tasting.

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drank Jasmine Dream by Tavalon Tea
1280 tasting notes

I love the way jasmine smells, and I love jasmine in tea. I just thought I should get that out of the way. ;-)

The smell in the container is of, of course, jasmine, but also a toasty note that I don’t typically associate with Chinese green teas.

The jasmine scent from the tea after steeping is really deep. It’s a sultry jasmine rather than a perky jasmine. The tea is a medium yellow and clear.

The flavor is pretty intensely jasmine, but unlike other Chinese green jasmines I’ve had, this one actually evokes the jasmine flower rather than the jasmine “flavor.” There’s a freshness to it, as though I’m tasting the petals from a fresh flower. I can also taste the green tea in and among the jasmine, and I often have an issue with jasmine greens where I really can’t distinguish the tea base. Perhaps it’s that toastiness that makes this one stand out. But it doesn’t taste toasty. It’s not smoky like gunpowder green. It’s a darker flavor though, sort of like gunpowder without the smoke but not quite as dark.

I am quite enjoying this. I have a jasmine oolong on the agenda for later this afternoon before we leave for no. 2’s birthday dinner. I’m hoping to stop at Bed, Bath and Beyond on the way and pick up some tools so I can season the little Yixing. Speaking of that, I really need to find my matcha bowl. It’s been bugging me that I can’t find it. I should apply myself to a search tomorrow.

Flavors: Flowers

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

Great note, I know what you mean, I gravitate towards the jasmine flower rather than the jasmine flavour, huge difference, right? Jasmine can be as offensive as some bergamot. I love both, but just when they are done according to my standards. Personally, I love all things jasmine from Teavivre!


Great to know. When I come out of lockdown I’ll be sure to order some jasmine from Teavivre!


I just love your little pot. It seems you just ordered it, right? I’m looking for some too. Just can’t decided. I need for sheng and for shu. Did you decide on a tea?


Oh, and happy birthday little #2, and good luck on the seasoning!! Lol, matcha bowl is missing in action, are you going to use it for the seasoning?


Might also investigate the jasmines from Shang. They are all done with flowers, not flavoring.


Thanks, Nicole, I’ll definitely keep them in mind.

TF, no, I wasn’t planning to use it for that. I was planning to drink matcha out of it. LOL


Haha! The way you mentioned it I thought you might use in as a support while boiling or something, but didn’t think it was such a great idea, lol!


I’ve picked up some new jasmines lately, thanks for reminding me to try them.

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A couple of weekends ago I waded through my tea and pulled out some samples to put into the “to be drunk soon” sample pile. This was one of them.

My first thought was that the leaves are just really, really gorgeous. They have a lot of color variation from medium-dark green to silvery white, and they are, as the description says, for the most part long and twisty.

The sample was in a sealed packet, but the plastic made it difficult for me to distinguish an aroma from the dry leaves. I find that to be the case with all plastic packets, not just the one this was in.

The liquor is a very pale greenish yellow, and the steeped tea’s aroma is faint and a little like sweet grass or maybe clover, slightly floral.

The taste is very light and mellow, not as vegetal as the only other mao feng I’ve had. I almost wonder whether the sample is suffering from age or whether my taste buds haven’t yet adjusted back from the lapsang souchong I had before this (I did attempt to clear my palate, but I might not have done a sufficient job of it). It’s tasting almost like a white tea to me, like a shade or two more intense than a silver needle. But with the same “fresh water” taste. The other notes on this found it to have a more robust flavor, so I suspect user error.

I am going to refrain from rating for now and try it again on a rested palate.

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

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Sipdown no. 98 of the year 2014.

I have a love/hate relationship with lapsang souchong. Most of the time when I think of having it, I end up not having it because it’s so intense, I’m not sure I’m really up to it. Once in a great while I really crave it. Sometimes when I crave it and have it I feel satisfied, sometimes when I crave it and have it I wish I hadn’t.

It’s something I try to be moderate about because of carcinogenic fears. My dad was a medical academic and his niche was oral cancer, so I spent a lot of time hearing about that growing up, seeing pictures, etc. and any sort of gastric system cancer is something I hope never to experience first hand.

But in terms of whether I love it or hate it, mostly it depends on the lapsang. I’ve had some that are so strong they really set into my pores, such that I couldn’t get the smell out of my nasal passages for days. The gift that keeps on giving sort of thing. Not pleasant. And I’ve had some that are so mild and are great teas, but they don’t do it for me when I am craving smoke. And I’ve had some that were goldilocks teas. Not too overpowered, not too underpowered.

This is a goldilocks tea.

I don’t need a lot of lapsangs in my life, but this is one that’s going on the list.

Flavors: Pine, Wood


i love lapsang souchong

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Sipdown no. 97 of the year 2014. A sample.

The name leads me to believe this will have a passion fruit flavor, though there’s nothing in the ingredients (or even the tea description) that says so.

Out of the packet, the pretty blend of flower petals and tea does smell like passion fruit, or at least it smells like other passion fruit black teas I’ve had.

Steeped according to directions on the tiny sample.

There’s a fruity aroma to the tea, which steeps very dark. A really beautiful, reddish brown color. I want furniture this color.

The flavor is fruity as well, though the fruit represented isn’t tasting like passion fruit. It tastes a bit like grapes, a bit like berries. I can get a sort of a passion fruit flavor out of it if I concentrate.

The tea doesn’t represent itself to be passion fruit, so I can’t really fault it for giving only the barest suggestion of passion fruit. Once I take that bias out of the mix, I can enjoy it for a tasty fruity tea with notes of berry, grape and sometimes a fleeting bit of citrus. The black tea base is pretty astringent, but otherwise not very remarkable.

I’ve had better fruity teas, hence the rating. But this is tasty and I wouldn’t turn it down if offered.

Boiling 4 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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drank Almond Cookie by SpecialTeas
1280 tasting notes

This is more like it. This is the kind of “food” tea I can get behind.

Having now tasted all the archaic SpecialTeas samples and having sipped down all but two, I can say this is my favorite of the group. It’s really the only one I could see myself missing when it’s gone, but fortunately I won’t have to because American Tea Room’s Brioche does an even better job with a similar flavor. And I have a whole packet of Teavana Almond Biscotti, which as I mentioned in my first note on this, I’m pretty sure is the same tea.

It’s no. 2’s birthday today. Yay for being 8! He wants to go to I Hop for breakfast (oh deary me). Ordinarily I would tell them to make it a boys only excursion given the destination, but for his birthday, I will go to I Hop.

I’m so glad I’ve had a lovely, sweet, almondy biscotti-like flavor in my mouth regardless of what else I might taste today.


I want to try both this one and the Brioche, thanks for reminding me!


Alas, this one is no longer available, but Brioche is (and it’s better, so no harm no foul).


Oh, right – you already said that in a tasting note, I think, that’s why I removed it from my wishlist the first time around. Ugh. Removing it again…

Terri HarpLady

Happy birthday to No. 2!!


Thank you! He is such a lucky boy. He got a new bike today. He will also be getting some Legos and getting to go play laser tag. (And this isn’t even the “official” birthday party.) But you’re only 8 once. ;-)

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drank Maple Bacon by Man Teas
1280 tasting notes

We’re now one pot away from sipdown and the BF has announced he’s had enough of this which puts a bit of a crimp in my planning. Looks like I’ll have to take up the banner alone.

I can do this. This sucker is going down tomorrow.

It will not be missed, but it will have been enjoyed before it got to be too much and I’ll be forever thankful for the learning experience. I now know that most “food” teas (except for pastries and other dessert type fare) are not for me.

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drank Ginseng Vitality by Teavana
1280 tasting notes

This is a strange little tisane. There’s a lot of citrus peel smell in the packet coming from this fruity/reedy looking mix.

After steeping, I could have sworn I smelled orange. But there’s no orange in this. I suspect it is the interaction of apple and lemon that’s generating some in between smell/flavor I perceive as orange. The tisane has a pretty, clear, peachy/amber liquor.

With cardamom, cloves and black pepper I’d expect this to have a bit of a kick, but it doesn’t really. What I taste is really the apple, cinnamon, and lemon and not much else.

I am sure this was a tea of the month club selection because I can’t imagine myself choosing something like this to order. I associate ginseng with health food stores and supplements. I am sure it has a flavor but I wouldn’t recognize the flavor without being told what it is.

It’s vaguely medicinal, but not so much that it is off-putting. More along the lines of something that is probably good for you in a way that is focused more on effect than on flavor. Not a favorite, but won’t be painful to sip down.

It’s another discontinued Teavana product, so this is the end, beautiful friends.

ETA: I should also mention that I didn’t really taste the rooibos. (Rooibos doesn’t seem to be bothering me much lately.) This also contains mistletoe and St. John’s wort, which doesn’t help dispel the medicinal associations.

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

Ginseng has a vaguely licorice-y flavour.


Thanks! Interestingly, I tasted no licorice.

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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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