1248 Tasting Notes


After my two highly flavored experiences this morning I needed a palate cleanser.

Gosh, I’m looking back at my original note on this and I see that the exterior lighting project that we just recently finished was started four years ago. OMG! We started the project, we got busy with other things and dropped it, then we went back to it. I have to say if I was the only person whose opinion had to be taken into account it would have been done faster. ;-) But it got done and it’s amazing, so there’s that.

In any case, this is tasting pretty much as described in my original note. Except the cola I noted before… well, I’m not getting that this time. ;-)

It is an excellent palate cleanser, though. I can feel its briskness cutting through all the stuff I tasted this morning and replacing it with a nice, medium strength, naturally sweet tea flavor.

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drank Maple Bacon by Man Teas
1248 tasting notes

After the Buttered Cinnamon Raisin Toast I decided to try some of this. It was still sealed, though it’s an old package.

I really didn’t get much of a smell of bacon or maple out of the dry leaf. Steeped, I certainly get something like maple. It’s a sort of a caramel-y smell. But not anything that smells like bacon. I’d sort of expected to be hit over the head with bacon.

But interestingly, as the tea gets cooler, something like bacon does come out in the aroma. A bit of a smoked meat smell, but sweet because of the influence of the maple.

And yeah, the same happens with the flavor. It really is maple bacon, but it doesn’t become obvious until the tea gets cooler.

I have to award all sorts of points for pulling off this flavor in a way that isn’t a generic lapsangy smoked jerky flavor. I may even like the flavor better than the raisin toast because it’s lacking the artificial note I experienced with the buttered cinnamon raisin toast.

But unless something happens in repeat tastings to change my initial feeling about this, it isn’t something I could drink beyond this packet. I’m having some sort of taste-related cognitive dissonance thing going on in my head as I drink this that makes the experience of it disconcerting in a way that isn’t entirely pleasurable and I’m feeling it in my stomach.

Boiling 4 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML

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No. 1 is at a sleepover, no. 2 and I just finished watching March of the Penguins, and I realized I hadn’t had any tea yet today! No breakfast really either, just a bit of fruit. The BF is responsible for this pick. I thought he’d go for the Maple Bacon, but this was his vote.

I can definitely smell the raisins in the packet, and something like buttered toast too.

After steeping the aroma is unbelievable—exactly like buttered cinnamon raisin toast! I’m not sure how 52 Teas accomplished this but I suspect it wasn’t straightforward. I detect a floral note underlying the aroma. The tea is a clear reddishy-orangy-brown, so the raisins, cinnamon and whatever else is in here to give this flavor isn’t clouding up the works.

Now, understanding that this is one of my elderly 52 Teas collection and that I had apparently tasted it before because the packet was opened, though ziplocked (it seems I didn’t write a note about it when I last tasted it), I’ll say this—I taste toast, I taste butter. I taste just enough raisin and cinnamon so that it isn’t plain buttered toast. Of all the flavors, I probably get the cinnamon the least, which is surprising. And I am not really tasting the tea, except through the floral note mentioned earlier. But you don’t really drink a tea like this for the tea, do you?

I have to give it high marks for living up to its name so well. I could use a touch more cinnamon, but who is to say whether there was more when this was fresh? The fact that it has held most of its unusual flavor merits points, too. The only downside, and the reason I didn’t rate it higher, is that there’s an aspect to the flavor that makes me worry that the novelty will wear off really fast with this one. There’s a fine line with the floral note between conjuring the buttered cinnamon raisin toast experience and something artificial tasting.

The BF says: “I like it!”

I asked whether he tasted buttered cinnamon raisin toast.

“I don’t know, but I like it!”


Boiling 4 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML

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drank Welcome by Art of Tea
1248 tasting notes

I’ve tasted a lot of chamomile in various guises lately, some good, some not so good. This blend isn’t doing a lot for me.

The chamomile smells sweet in the packet. The rest of the ingredients make for a very rich smelling blend, with more than floral notes—there’s something almost like cocoa to its depth. It’s also lovely to look at (like its picture).

Once it is steeped, though, the chamomile becomes more of a sharp, pungent note in the aroma, and the rest of the ingredients don’t pull together as a team to balance it out. It steeps to a pretty, clear yellow color.

The flavor is much like the aroma. It’s not as sweet as the dry mixture’s aroma promised. There’s a little tartness from the rose hips. The lavender and rose are very faint, and I don’t taste the peppercorn. I don’t get much spice to this. On balance, I’d rather have sweetness than spice, though.

I’m wondering whether more leaf would make a difference. It seems to me that if the chamomile has a sweet, fresh smell in the packet, that should be indicative of how it will taste after steeping. That it doesn’t here makes me wonder if I need to perfect my preparation methods. It’s almost sweet, but not quite. On the other hand, it could be that the tartness of the rose hips is the culprit. I think it’s the hibiscus in Tazo’s Calm that makes the chamomile in that one problematic for me. I like this better than Calm, but not as well as Harney’s Yellow and Blue.

Boiling 6 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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drank Kapha Balance by Shanti Tea
1248 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 87 of the year 2014. Terri HarpLady is kicking my butt at sipdowns. ;-) I noticed she’s surpassed the 90 mark today and she is only counting from the last week or so, I think, not from the first of the year as I am. What an inspiration!

This part is me thinking out loud about sipdowns so you can skip this paragraph if you want to read my thoughts on the tisane, most of which are contained in my previous note on this. Part of my slowdown is because I am running short of single serving samples and one-off teabag samples so I now mostly have sample sizes that generate at least two tastings worth and more frequently 3-5 and/or full size tins. This is certainly the case for herbal blends and greens and to some extent blacks and whites. I have a fair number of single serving oolong and pu-erh samples still, but I find myself saving them because pu-erhs in particular intimidate me just a bit and oolongs require savoring. I’m still trying to arrange things so that I have at least one and (if things go well) I hope more than one sipdown a day for the foreseeable future.

The Shanti samples seem to be two-serving samples. Or more accurately, four serving samples. But since the Breville makes a minimum of two servings a go, I get two tastings out of this size of sample.

It seems, if anything, much more savory tonight. Almost brothy, as though there’s some salt in there somewhere. It doesn’t taste like bouillon but it reminds me of it.

Not a wishlist item for me, but interesting to try.

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drank Sleep Tight by TeaGschwendner
1248 tasting notes

I seem to be having a run at savory flavored herbal blends these days. I didn’t realize I had so many in my stash. It’s particularly puzzling because, as I’m discovering having had them three nights in a row, I have a threshold for savory herbal blends and three nights in a row is well beyond that threshold. I’ve discovered that for me they are much more of a sometime thing. I’m not sure I’d think to have one all that often if I wasn’t reacclimatizing myself to my stash and finding that I have a number of them.

My original note on this indicated that is has a savory taste, and it does. And reading that note I’ve figured out why I think I find the savory flavor a sometime thing. It has a medicinal association for me. Not logical, but there you have it. Fortunately, the savory flavor isn’t as intense as it has been in some other tisanes I’ve had recently, like the Shanti Kapha Balance and of course the plain Holy Basil from Upton.

My previous note said this reminded me of chamomile, though there’s no chamomile in it. This time I’m not really tasting chamomile. Probably because I’ve had some really good (as chamomile goes) chamomile recently and I know how sweet it can taste. This tisane isn’t sweet.

I am noticing a sort of a minty cooling feel, though, which is also interesting because there’s no mint in this. I find it fascinating that I taste flavors in this that don’t originate in its ingredients.

It’s the kind of thing I’d drink if I had it around (as I’m doing now) but now that I know what it’s like, I’d likely choose another decaf option next time I order.

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

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I switched over to decaf fairly early this evening because when I woke up this morning I felt as though my back was a rubber band that had been twisted and twisted until it curled up on itself about 10 times.

I bought a lot of this way back when, and I can see why. It does have a very creamy lemon flavor.

Tonight, though, I’m tasting rooibos in a way that I don’t usually in this mix, and more than I tend to like in a blend.

Ah well, we all have our off days.

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drank Chocolate Chai by Adagio Teas
1248 tasting notes

This is the fourth of six in the Adagio chai sampler. I made this on the stovetop with 1% milk, Splenda and the SpecialTeas Cream with Cocoa Pieces as the extra black tea.

I think using the SpecialTeas was the right choice, as this came out incredibly chocolaty and reading the notes here, one of the biggest complaints about this is that it isn’t chocolaty enough. It has been my practice in the past to add chocolate flavored black tea to chocolate chai for an extra flavor boost so I kept it up here.

The result is that my BF and no. 2 exclaimed that the entire house smells like chocolate. ;-)

Chocolate is indeed the dominant flavor, as it should be in my view given the name of this chai. I also get some spice against the chocolate, mostly ginger, but the cardamom, clove and cinnamon flavors as a blend are also there in the flavor.

It has been so long since I had any other chocolate chai (except at Starbucks) that I can’t remember them well enough to compare this to them, but it’s at least as good a representative of its genre as the Adagio masala chai is of its, so I’m rating it the same.


Flavors: Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cloves

Boiling 8 min or more

Adding choc tea is a good idea. I will keep that in mind


I’ve had great success getting a good chocolate flavor with this and other chocolate chais using that method.

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drank Almond Oolong by Adagio Teas
1248 tasting notes

Enjoying this more today than I have in the past. The first and third steeps in particular were tasty today, the first having a very true to the nut flavor of almond and the third having a more generic pleasant almond flavor. The second went a bit too long and resulted in some bitterness. The fourth was similar to the second.

More leaf and shorter steeps are definitely the way to go with this one. The almond flavor seems best to me at steeping times of no longer than a minute and the first steep I did, at 30 seconds, was probably the best of the bunch for the almond flavor today.

Now within sipdown range, and I don’t expect to buy it again mostly because I can’t taste the oolong much at all under the flavoring. I’d be open to an almond oolong that had a better balance, though.

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I drank this today while at the kids’ kung fu lessons and I now have very little left, maybe two or three pots away from sipdown.

But I keep feeling the need to bump up the rating each time I drink it. It’s really grown on me. While there’s nothing particularly exciting about it, it’s extremely consistent—sweet, no bitterness, a nice vegetal flavor that isn’t too heavy and isn’t too light. I give it points for that consistency and for retention of its flavor long after it reasonably should have.

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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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