1183 Tasting Notes

drank Lemon Youkou by Teavana
1183 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 70 for the year 2014.

The thing about this mixture is that it has so many humongoid pieces and you have to use so much to keep it from being too tart to drink that it doesn’t go very far. One 2 oz packet made exactly two pots of tea (approximately 7 servings).

I tried it on the kids tonight. No. 2 said it was too “lemony” by which I think he meant sour. No. 1 said it was good but didn’t really want to drink it.

The BF said that he really liked it and he thought it would be great to have around for sore throats. He claimed to like it better than the Strawberry Lemonade. No. 1 and I both prefer the Strawberry Lemonade. No. 2 abstained from comment.

Since it has been discontinued, it’s not something we can have around for sore throats. I did like it better this time around so I’m bumping the rating. But I doubt I would have reordered it much—two pots to a packet doesn’t really work for me.


You have very cute family tea moments , thanks for sharing them :-)


I’m glad you’re enjoying them—I mostly record them because I want to remember them and sometimes forget other people can read these. LOL.

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drank Shanghai Orchid by Teavana
1183 tasting notes

When I first opened the packet I was worried this was going to be a repeat of the Adagio White Tropics because there was something in the smell that, while not as cloying and false as the Adagio, still leaned that way—but the more I inhaled, the more I lost that “remembered” smell and got a more typical Teavana fruity smell. It’s similar to what I smell when I stick my nose in many of their fruit blends, but with a much more central melon overtone.

One thing you have to hand to Teavana is that they make their blends very visually interesting. This one is very colorful with big chunks of fruit as well as petals among the leaves.

This steeps to a very light, clear yellow color with an aroma that is sweet, but just when it seems like it might turn toward cloying, a whiff of a fresh (floral?) note breezes in to dispel that impression.

The taste is light, floral, a little sweet. Not unpleasant.

I think I should like this more than I do and I think perhaps I am just not a huge fan of flavored white teas unless the flavor is grapefruit. But that seems too self-limiting. I will
try it again another time and see if I have a different impression.

I do give it points for avoiding the cloying and the planty.

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 5 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML

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Sipdown no. 69 for the year 2014.

When I drank this yesterday I got interrupted because I was late to pick up No. 1 at an activity. By the time I got back this had cooled quite a bit.

I meant to mention that the dry leaf mixture has a really interesting aspect to the aroma which I would describe as “creamy” though it’s probably more accurate to say it has unexpected depth.

Sipping this at a warmer temperature and a more leisurely pace, I’m enjoying the way the oolong plays off the green tea and the fruit flavors. I can definitely taste the oolong more than the green tea but it has a very round quality to it, no rough edges at all, no pungent champagniness (I am assuming it is a darker Formosa oolong though I really don’t know what kind it is—but I don’t get the sort of creamy floral notes I get from greener oolongs). I also taste it quite a bit in the aftertaste, where it leaves a more typical nutty impression.

A tasty afternoon tea.


i wonder if you can really lose weight with it.


Supposedly green tea boosts metabolism, but who knows. I think drinking a lot of beverages like tea that have no calories would definitely help, though.


id assume the same thing

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For my 450th distinct tea represented in these-here notes (as opposed to the number of these-here notes), I thought I’d write about something I’ve been wanting to try for a long time.

This tea has gotten a lot of love on Steepster and I’ve had a sample of it (hermetically sealed) waiting for a special occasion. After tasting it, I have jumped on the love bandwagon.

When I sniffed the tea in the sample packet I thought I’d fallen into a vat of liquid almond croissants! The aroma is of the sweet, buttery, rich almond paste that’s used in pastries like croissants, bear claws, etc. I have not had a brioche (I don’t think I have anyway) but if they smell like this, I must make it a project to have one.

The steeped tea carries that aroma as well, in an amazingly rich, deep fragrance. I would have expected it to be much more dilute. The liquor is a clear chestnut color.

The taste is quite remarkable. I didn’t expect complexity. I expected it to taste like it smelled, more or less. And it does, but it’s not just almond paste. It’s that plus butter, brown sugar, baked goods. It really is a liquid dessert.

As an aside, I’ve started to categorize tea companies in my mind by what I think they do really well in terms of flavors. As examples, I think of Kusmi as great at berry flavors and caramel, but not at chocolate or vanilla. I think of Harney & Sons as great at chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, and rose, among other things. Given my recent tastings of ATR teas, I was ready to conclude that ATR is great at fruit flavors. Now I have to include Brioche along with fruit flavors!

Flavors: Butter, Nuts

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML

WOWWW, what a review! what a tea! this is something i’d totally love…the notes sound amazing. i really enjoy your reviews…you’re so helpful, not to mention eloquent. Also- tea #450…congratulations!!


Thanks so much, and I’m glad it’s helpful!


On my wish list for a long time. I just don’t know what else to try to justify the puchase


Boychick, the apricot and passion fruit blacks are quite good if you like those flavors.


I do love apricots. Thanks for suggestion. And congrats on 450 review. I like your writing. My middle daughter had a test on creative writing last weekend in specialized middle school. She won’t know the results until may and it drives her nuts. Very ambitious young lady;)


Boychick, I have a number of other ATR samples I’ll be trying so maybe something among those will sound good to you, too. I wish your daughter best of luck! Ambition is a good thing. :-)


I’m looking forward to your ATR or any other reviews. Thank you for your kind wishes. Ambition is good until she drives everybody crazy;)

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The electricians are here installing our new exterior lights and also fixing some problems with the fixtures in the kitchen and one of the bathrooms. I just looked outside and the new light is up by the front door. Yay! It’s a craftsman style lamp and so much better looking that the ones that came with the house. Plus it will have a sensor so that I won’t have to fumble with my keys in the dark if I forget to turn on the light before leaving the house. Double yay!

Since the BF is supervising all this, I thought I’d be nice to him and steep something he was bound to like. Raspberry is his favorite fruit of all time.

For this first time, I steeped at 4 minutes and less than boiling despite the directions. Next time I’ll be a good girl and play by the rules.

The smell of the dry leaf is, in a word, yum. Definitely raspberry and a really nice one. At first I thought there were flowers in the mix, but I think the small greyish things I thought were flowers are the raspberry leaves.

The steeped tea has the reddish brown color of Ceylon liquor and is very clear. There’s a mild, almost malty tea scent under the raspberry aroma, which is subtle.

The flavor. How to describe it. It’s not the juicy, fresh fruit flavor of the ATM fruit blends. It’s more of a baked goods fruit flavor, definitely there but more subtle—not jammy. Like it was woven into the fabric of the tea. At first I worried that it would taste soapy, because there’s just the slightest hint of that in the aroma, but it’s not.

I don’t think I’ve tasted a raspberry flavored black tea before. Though I like fruit blends that are bursting with juicy flavor, I also like the quieter ones like this where the fruit flavor is integrated in and made part of the tea, like banana is integrated into banana bread. There’s a lovely, cookie-like raspberry flavor in the aftertaste that has a cooling, aromatic quality.

If/when I try other raspberries I may revisit the rating but for now, this gets an excellent.

Flavors: Berries

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML

Seems it’s been the day for having electricians round. I had one too.


I saw that in your note so I thought I’d mention mine, too. ;-) We are finally getting around to finishing this lighting project we started two years ago. How are you enjoying your new house?


I lurve my house. :D Now that the electrician’s been, Husband could hang the last two lamps. Made a huge difference in the dining table area. The other one in my room has made a difference as well, even though my room is still in complete chaos and unpackedness, because we can’t really do anything with it until I get my new desk. I don’t know anything about where I want or need shelves of any kind until that happens. Husband has an Ikea ‘date’ with a friend of his who drives a significantly longer car than ours, so they’re going to go and get it for me on Sunday. (Delivery is possible, but costs an arm and a leg and has therefore been deemed a waste of money). So in a couple of weeks my room should be just about finished as well.


Excellent! Nothing like friends with significantly longer cars. LOL. By the way, I think I missed the establishment of your queue. I tried to backtrack through your log to find out what it is but I couldn’t seem to put my hands on anything other than notes that referenced it exists. What is it, exactly?


I tend to go through long periods where I only drink teas that I’ve posted about before and neglecting the box of untried things, mainly because I can’t be bothered to write about it. So I’ve taken to writing all my posts in a word doc and then space out the posting more regularly (I’m not really very good at the ‘regular’ bit) instead of having long periods of lurking. It’s 22 pages at the moment, which suggests I need to work on the whole regularity thing. I’ve made it a task three times a week in HabitRPG now. (HabitRPG = a game that makes chores fun! No really! If you do your dailies and tasks you get xp and gold. If you don’t do them you lose health. There are quests and collectibles as well, but I haven’t worked that out yet. I’ve only used it for a week or so)


Thanks for the explanation. Makes a lot of sense.

And ROF,L. Where can I find HabitRPG? Need.



I’ve even got Husband interested in it, although he hasn’t signed up yet. (Unfortunately I couldn’t be Angrboda there as the name was already taken)


Cool. I went over and made an account. I will have to think about what sort of habits I want to establish…


Strangely, when I signed up it wouldn’t let me be Angrboda, but this morning I found a way to change my display name and PLING! I have my preferred name. I don’t get the logic behind that at all, but I’m not complaining! :D

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Sipdown no. 68 for the year 2014. No, really this time.

Tomorrow I’ll move to the “regular” bergamot, my favorite of the three. I have some other Earl Greys I haven’t tried, too, so we’ll see if the pantheon expands.


so i can assume that the more bergamot the more that unique taste?


Generally, yes, though a lot has to do with how blends are put together.


oh, i see :)

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This was another sample I got a while ago along with the lovely kettle I won in the trivia contest giveaway. I remember thinking at the time that it was risky to give this out as a sample (the thought crossed my mind that there might be a message in there somewhere) but I was pretty thin at the time (now I have some pounds to lose).

In any case, this reminds me of the Divine Temple also from Georgia Tea Co. only darker, duskier, heftier (Weight Loss tea… seewhatIdidthere?) It, too, is a mix, this time of oolong and green, and it too has tropical fruits in it, this time mango and papaya, that come through in the flavor as a mixed tropical fruit flavor rather than identifiable separate flavors. It’s less busy than the Divine Temple, which I appreciate. I prefer it overall for its greater heft and simpler flavor profile, though I can see times when a white/green mix would hit the spot better than a green/oolong.

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML

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Wow, is this really my third oolong in three days? My BF took no. 2 to do some crafts and no. 1 is off at an event until 7:30 so I have some TIME to enjoy an oolong. Woo hoo!

Using the gaiwan (not very adeptly) for this, and starting with short steeps.

The dry leaves are shortish and varicolored, mostly a medium green with silver streaks. They have a champagne-y smell, but not as piquant as some oolongs, and there’s also a really interesting peachy smell.

The steeped aroma carries through that peachy note, which is very nice. Liquor color is a sort of dark beige.

There’s a toastiness to the flavor and a really remarkable peach note. I didn’t expect to taste it when I read in the in the description, but yes, it’s there. Not just a generic “stonefruit” either. Definitely peach, surrounded by toasty nuttiness and a little wood.

Steep 2. 45 seconds. More nuts, less peach, and something a tad bitter has crept in, a little like the tartness of champagne

Steep 3 1 minute More peach, less bitter, a little astringency and I discover it goes pretty nicely with a chocolate almond biscotti ;-)

Steep 4 1:15 minutes This steep seems a little meh? There is some woodiness, and some stonefruit but not the peachy note.

Steep 5 1:30 minutes Not much left to the leaves, it appears

The steeped leaves didn’t expand nearly as much as the Ali Shan leaves did. In fact, they looked rather forlorn in the gaiwan, like chopped up grass and pine needles. Not sure whether that’s just a feature of this tea or whether there was something wrong in my preparation, or perhaps the leaves were showing their age.

Still I got a nice couple of steeps out of this, enough to make me look forward to finishing up the sample (which will likely take a while….)

ETA: The reason to try this is the interesting peach note. If it wasn’t for that I’d rate it lower because I think it really ought to hold its flavor better through more short steeps.

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec

omg I read the note to say something like “my bf took no. 2 to do a crap” and I was like…???? gotta love screenreading technology!



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Sipdown no. 67 for the year 2014. Another teabag from the work stash; and another case in which this is a sipdown because of form factor only as I know I have more Den’s Genmaicha Extra Green somewhere.

I oversteeped this unintentionally. There’s no instructions on the packet so I had to go look up how I’d steeped this tea before in my Steepster notes. By the time I found it, the bag had been sitting in the water for almost 1.5 minutes, when I’d steeped before at 30 seconds!

Fortunately, my mistake doesn’t seem to have made this unbearably bitter or otherwise ruined it. The tea is a light yellow with a greenish tinge. There’s a light, toasty rice flavor over a smooth slightly vegetal green tea flavor.

I think that genmaicha is growing on me. I can see drinking it more frequently than I may have once thought I would. Rating this the same as the non-bagged version of the same tea.

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Sipdown no. 65 of the year 2014. A teabag from the work stash. This is only technically a sipdown because of form factor. I have more Den’s sencha, maybe even more samples—just not more in teabag form.

I love the way dry sencha smells. It reminds me of cut grass, only more food-like. This steeped to a light chartreuse color and the aroma is of warm cut grass with something reminiscent of melted, salted butter around the edges.

The flavor is light, mild and somewhat sweet, not at all bitter. And I wonder whether it’s the same tea in the organic sencha sample I tried a while back. In any case, in looking what I wrote about the organic sencha, I’m having the same thoughts about this. It’s very pleasant if what you want is a light straight green tea.

I wonder if it has suffered some because of its age, though it was in a sealed plastic packet because the taste isn’t quite as robust as I recall the organic sencha being. I’m rating it the same as I rated that, taking age into account.

1 min, 30 sec

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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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