1243 Tasting Notes

drank Vanilla Oolong by Adagio Teas
1243 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 85 of the year 2014. I managed no other sipdowns today and I have nothing decaf that is in sipdown range except my Vanilla Comoro sample which I am hoarding. That sipdown strategy I was making fun of myself for considering the other day doesn’t sound so crazy now as I now find myself with only caffeinated options. Oolongs are, I think, lower in caffeine than black and green at least. Let’s hope it doesn’t keep me up all night.

I’m not sorry to see this go. I don’t think it’s Adagio’s fault. I suspect that vanilla is a flavor that my taste buds have decided isn’t meant to be paired with oolong. Flavored oolong seems an iffy thing to me anyway. With the exception of the Golden Moon caramel, the ones I’ve preferred have been fruit flavors, and tart fruit seem to me to work best with both whites and oolongs.

Although if anyone out there in Steepster land has a favorite vanilla oolong, I could be persuaded to give another brand a try at some point when I come out of lock down.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

drank Kapha Balance by Shanti Tea
1243 tasting notes

This is a sample I got with my Shanti order a while back, and I believe it may be the first Shanti product I’ve tasted. It being evening, I was looking for something without caffeine, though this may have been a mistake as it is supposedly energizing despite the lack of caffeine.

In the sample packet there’s a sweet cocoa-like aroma which is odd since there’s nothing that should smell like cocoa among the ingredients. The steeped tisane has a savory smell to it which I attribute to the holy basil, sage and pepper. It’s a light brownish orange color.

I expected the flavor to also be savory but it doesn’t strike me that way. There’s still a cocoa-like note but I think it’s the ginger that’s responsible. I’m glad I don’t get a strong licorice taste despite the licorice and fennel in the ingredients. Having had the Upton Holy Basil last night, this is sort of a jazzed up holy basil, with a little more interest going on. I don’t get a strong cardamom flavor, but the ingredient list is similar enough to chai that there’s a sort of faint chai echo to this. I don’t taste the rooibos except in the aftertaste and it’s smooth and lacking enough in the woody department that it isn’t problematic for me.

It’s okay, but it’s not bowling me over. I don’t think I’d buy it, but I’m glad for the chance to taste it.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML

jazzed up holy basil…lol!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

drank Go Go Goji by Teavana
1243 tasting notes

I tried a shorter steep time this time and I think it is better with the shorter time. The overall impression is lighter, including on the lychee side. There’s a more identifiable floral note but still not as much rose as I was hoping for, and less of that almost bitter note I was worried about.

Keeping the rating the same but will keep steep times shorter moving forward. I’m also going to try a slightly lower temp next time and see if that has a favorable impact.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.


I just can’t seem to get a break today—I put this on to steep before a conference call and by the time I poured it it was no longer hot. Accordingly, I’m not rating this one just yet either.

There’s a nice black tea scent with a hint of caramel in the packet. Stronger tea than caramel. The caramel smells like syrup. This carries through in the aroma of the steeped tea. It’s a medium brown orange tea.

The flavor is fairly light on the caramel, similar to my impression of the vanilla from yesterday. It’s more of a surface flavor than one with richness to it, but it’s definitely caramel and pleasant enough.

Will revisit soon, without interruption (I hope).


ah, surface flavor…don’t you hate that? i always hope for a rich, full-bodied experience where the flavor components are perfectly integrated with the tea. (well, who doesn’t?)
another thing i can’t stand is when the aroma and the flavor are two disparate entities. makes me so. sad.


Agreed. I tend to prefer the flavors that are well-integrated, but I can enjoy a more surface balance as well if the flavors are rich enough and play off against each other well.


good point!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.


I put some of this in the Breville, and was then promptly confronted by two eager young men who wanted to get to school EARLY because it was Valentine’s Day. Exactly why they wanted/needed to be early is a mystery. It’s not like they’re old enough to date…

As a result, by the time I got to taste this it was lukewarm. I am not going to rate this or discuss its virtues and shortcomings in depth given the circumstances.

For now, let me say it wasn’t at all what I expected. I expected a sort of rosy, lavendery frou frou Earl Grey (which I actually love). The dry leaf has a very rosy fragrance with a lavender undercurrent. It’s a very pretty dry leaf, with little lavender buds, rose petals and rosemary needles strewn among the tea. I don’t smell rosemary and I don’t really smell bergamot either.

But that changed in the drink. I think it’s the rosemary that makes the difference. There’s a savory note to this that I’m tasting fairly heavily, and it is more pronounced than the floral notes which I taste as a sort of general coolness (which may also be the bergamot). I wonder whether this is a factor of the cooling process or whether it’s how this would have tasted hotter as well. The tea has a sweetness to it and the flavor has a complexity, but I don’t really taste the bergamot at all. I’m not getting anything that tastes like citrus.

Will try again and see how it fares when it is drunk hot.


we always gave Valentine’s to each other at school, maybe that’s why?


Yes, they each went with a bag ‘o Valentines, but they don’t get to exchange them until they’re in class? Maybe they just wanted to look at peoples’ bags. LOL.


My daughter is in grade 2 and they have whole bunch of fun activities scheduled for today. They have Valentines party with treats and drinks and kids were encouraged to bring some games from home to play in class. She went to school with bunch of Valentine cards and box of cookies and two board games… lol


Ah yes, that could be it—the suspension of usual activities during the Valentines’ Day celebration. I will find out tonight. ;-)

Login or sign up to leave a comment.


Sipdown no. 84 of the year 2014. Holy basil, Batman!

Apparently, I never wrote an initial note on this, though I’m now sipping down the end of this sample packet. It was opened, so I know I tried it once. I also have a memory of having a mishap and spilling a bunch of it all over the counter. Perhaps I got distracted and never made it to the note.

Upton is a class act. I love how they personalize what they send with your name and the date on which it was packed. The date on this is 3/29/10, which is shortly after I joined Steepster. However, there wasn’t a ziplock on the sample packet and I neglected to treat this sample well. I may have been mad at it for spilling. ;-) And since I don’t have an original note, I have nothing to compare the taste of this aged sample with from when it was fresh.

On top of that, it seems I only have enough for 3/4 of a cup. Here goes.

It has a spicy savory scent that is reminiscent of cooking spices. I smelled it against some dry basil and it’s similar, but not anywhere close to identical in fragrance.

The steeped tisane has a slight anise-like scent along with the savory spice. It makes a light brownish orange liquid with particles suspended in it.

The flavor is also somewhat savory. I get a cooling note, which is the anise-like one. It has a vaguely medicinal taste, but not in a bad way. It’s the cooling aspect, which is sort of a menthol/eucalyptus sensation. Rather like one of those fancy cough drops though not as sweet.

Supposedly this can do all sorts of great things for you from lowering blood sugar to inhibiting cancer. If I knew that was true for a fact, I’d happily drink it every day as a sort of tonic.

But as a flavored beverage for pleasure, I’m not so sure. I have some Tulsi blends I’m more eager to try now, but plain it’s sort of plain.

Boiling 8 min or more

Wow, 84 of the year is awesome!


Thanks :-)

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

drank Sweet Cinnamon Spice by Tazo
1243 tasting notes

This isn’t a full sipdown, though I’ve reached the end of my home supply as of tonight. I have something on the order of 14 bags of this still at the office.

I remain somewhat conflicted about this. When it’s good it’s not terrific,but when it’s bad it’s horrid. I’ve been making a big cup of it to take to bed while I watch the Olympics (2 bags a shot) and there are times when I don’t notice the syrupy, licorice/sarsaparilla flavor and feel it fade to the background and the cinnamon take over into a lighter spiced tisane. There are times when it seems more buoyant. But that’s the exception, not the rule.

Bumping it down even further. If you like licorice and sarsaparilla, this is your match made in heaven, but if you’re so-so toward them at best, as I am, it’s an uphill battle to get past the sensation that there’s a large lump of rubber sitting in your belly after drinking this.

It’s not undrinkable, just not all that pleasurable most of the time.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

drank Royal Chamomile by Tavalon Tea
1243 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 83 of the year 2014. A teabag from the work stash.

I definitely over caffeinated myself yesterday so I’m trying not to drink caffeine today after 2 p.m. My line up for the rest of the afternoon at work is all decaf options, starting with this.

This is nothing but camomile, and the only other nothing but camomile I have to compare this to is the Samovar. I rated that at a 70 not because it was a bad camomile but because I don’t see myself drinking straight camomile by choice. If I was going to drink straight camomile by choice, I’d pick the Samovar (if it was still available).

This isn’t bad, though. It’s best described by what it isn’t: musty, papery, straw-like, dried flowery, pencil shavings, etc.

It’s rather sweet, and it doesn’t have the sharp, pungent note that camomile sometimes has.

It doesn’t have the deep, creamy flavor of the Samovar nor does it taste as fresh (the samples were about the same age, and the Samovar may have been slightly older). It’s a lighter, sweet floral with the definite distinctive camomile notes. On the other hand, as I’ve said, it doesn’t taste old and dusty either.

Not a bad choice if one is in the market for a straight camomile. I, at this point, am not.

Boiling 8 min or more

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

drank Yerba Mate by Samovar
1243 tasting notes

This is my third try of straight yerba mate, the try by which I’m supposed to become used to the taste.

However, today, I am drinking this on the heels of eating a turkey wrap for lunch and perhaps because of the influence of the food, I’m getting a much more of a bitterness in the initial sip than I got the first couple of times. This quickly smooths out into the usual grassy, earthy, sweet dirt flavor, which is what I was expecting.

I do see that one could get used to this flavor, however, I don’t think it’s something I’m ever going to find appealing. I’ve seen mate described as having a flavor similar to green tea. I haven’t tasted a green tea with a flavor like this. I’ve also seen that this one is described as having a licorice flavor (in the product description). I really don’t taste licorice, though I’m not sure it would improve the flavor to my tastebuds. Perhaps it is what is keeping this from being overly bitter though.

On the upside, I’m now about halfway through the tin…

Login or sign up to leave a comment.


Second to last SpecialTeas sample. Since I started today with an Earl Grey crème, I thought I’d continue with the vanilla theme.

There’s not a strong vanilla scent in the packet. In fact, it’s almost chocolaty (there’s that vanilla-chocolate continuum thing again). I can see the little pieces of vanilla bean in the tea. The liquor is a pretty russet color. I get mostly tea in the steeped aroma, and it’s a hearty smell, deep, a little woody, a little fruity.

I used a lot of leaf as directed on the packet. It said 2 level tsps. for 6 oz of water, and I used a little less than that but still more than I’d use ordinarily. The result is a very strong tea with a beany (as opposed to creamy) vanilla flavor around the edges. I think it would be better without so much leaf, and I intend to try it with a normal amount next time.

There’s a definite beany vanilla in the aftertaste, but it doesn’t envelope the tea the way I wish it would. It’s a fine line between overpowering the tea and underpowering it. This one seems underpowered in the vanilla department. It’s still tasty, but it’s not a top vanilla pick.

Maybe that will change with a different amount of leaf. We’ll see. As with all of these SpecialTeas samples, I’m mildly relieved that I didn’t fall in love, given that the company no longer exists.

Flavors: Vanilla

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 5 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.



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



Following These People

Moderator Tools

Mark as Spammer