1183 Tasting Notes


Commute tea of the morning, straight up. Not sitting so heavily today. Still more chocolate than peanut butter in the flavor and today the peanut butter isn’t coming through as much even as the tea cools some.

It’s one of those like but not love things. It’ll likely be my “commuting” tea until it’s sipped down.

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Today it’s less metallic and minerally, which seems to support the theory that that flavor is related to something, perhaps the bergamot oil, not being exposed to air and that the more air it gets, the less those notes are present.

I think I’m in sipdown range for tomorrow. Now that I think about it, it’s pretty amusing that I found another packet of this on Ground Hog’s Day. This time when I sipdown, it should stay sipped down. ;-)

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drank Lemon Youkou by Teavana
1183 tasting notes

I haven’t had this in a very long time. In fact, I thought I’d used all of what I had. This leads me to believe that I acquired more of it, perhaps through the Teavana classic tea of the month club of which I was a member for a year.

I recall finding this a bit too tart/sour for me without sweetening before. I’m steeping a bit longer, 7 minutes, using the Breville herbal setting and I also double and a halfed up the normal amount of blend I’d put in this as one of my previous notes indicated more made for a sweeter blend.

And the verdict is: definitely the way to go with this one. More is much, much better, both in steeping time and in amount of fruit mixture used. I didn’t sweeten this and it isn’t too tart for me to drink, though the Strawberry Lemonade is much sweeter. This, though, is more of a straight lemon.

I have to say, though, that it’s not a very cost effective choice since the pieces are so huge and you have to use so much of it to get a sweet-tart flavor rather than just a tart one. I concluded before this wasn’t a restock and now I’m not so sure—except Teavana apparently made the choice for me and discontinued this in 2012.

Will try it on the kids just for laughs.

Boiling 7 min, 0 sec

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drank Nocturnal Bliss by Samovar
1183 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 64 of the year 2014. A sample of yet another no-longer-offered Samovar tisane.

I think I bought this one because of the name. I wouldn’t have bought it because of the ingredients as a main one is lemon myrtle, which for a while during my search for the perfect lemon tisane almost ruined lemon flavor for me. The lemon myrtle and some sweetness which may be the stevia is the main smell of the dry leaf and the steeped aroma is also heavy on the myrtle.

So go on, Samovar. Do your magic and make something amazing out of lemon myrtle! The thing that, standing alone, got one of the lowest scores I’ve ever awarded on Steepster for tartness, soapiness and all manner of unpleasantness…

And it’s pretty darn close, but it’s a lesson to me that lemon myrtle and I will likely never get along. If Samovar can’t do it for me, it’s unlikely anyone can. This isn’t tart, and it doesn’t cross over to soapy, but it has a savory quality that makes it a bit lemon brothy with too much of a bitter edge and aftertaste for my palate.

I have to give it points for making lemon myrtle at least tolerable to me, but alas, this is one I would not have reordered had it still been available (which it appears not to be on the Samovar web site). Perhaps a first in my Samovar experience, but somehow heartening as it proves that those behind their blends aren’t infallible.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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drank Green Chai by Adagio Teas
1183 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 63 of the year 2014. And tasting note no. 650!

I am fast approaching no. 666 and I’m starting to get a little scared…

Not sure what to do about this one. It’s tasty, but like the Vanilla Rooibos version I’m not really sure when I’d drink it if I wasn’t working my way through samples. I suppose I’ll just punt like I did with the Vanilla Rooibos, stick it on the shopping list, and decide later. At the rate I’m going by the time I have to decide I may have entirely different tastes…


Ha ha what are you going to pick for your 666?


I’m trying to think about whether I have any with devilish names, but I don’t think I do. Maybe something with a lot of pepper?


If you can wait, I can send you some Napalm Ferret. I think that would have the proper oomph for a 666th tasting note.


LOL! That’s so sweet, but I expect I’ll roll past 666 before it could get here. Right now I’m thinking maybe Mayan Chocolate Chai. That might be the spiciest tea I currently own.


OOOh. I just had an idea. ;-)


Wondering what it will be….. ;-)


I’ll let you know about 14 notes from now. ;-)


haha! I’ll be watching for it!


Ten more to go. ;-)

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Sipdown no. 62 for the year 2014. The BF thinks I need to start drinking up tins that take up space rather than little sample packets. But I’m on such a roll sipping down the samples! He’s right though. I am going to adopt a strategy of making my commuting to work tea something from a tin I have a fair amount of and like but don’t love.

I was considering whether this deserves a ratings bump. It’s quite tasty. I think I’m going to stick with where it is, though and here’s why: it has so much going on it’s a little too busy to enable me to really appreciate all of what went into it. It’s definitely an ensemble cast of a tea, and there’s nothing wrong with that in a blend—in fact, one might argue that that’s the way a blend should be with no one flavor taking front and center. But as a matter of personal preference I tend to prefer teas that have stars and supporting roles that I can identify. My impression tonight is: tasty fruit (undifferentiated) tea (undifferentiated).

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Sipdown no. 61 of the year 2014. A sample. I am now sure that the Gold Thread of last weekend was a Red Blossom Tea as it used the same sample packaging as this.

I was reminded yesterday while drinking the Golden Moon Imperial Formosa how much I love oolong. I have a bit of time between getting home from work and the kids and BF arriving home from kung fu to sit with an oolong.

The dry leaves are medium green and rolled into balls and oblongs of various sizes, some rather large. The have the characteristic winey smell of dry oolong.

Steeping opens the aroma out into a floral, somewhat buttery fragrance with some green notes. Liquor on first steep is a clear, golden yellow.

I went a bit longer than I’d planned on the first steep because of a phone call, about 6 minutes. This is delicious. The company describes this as a “green Formosa oolong” and it has a green-oolong buttery creamy floral thing going on but at the same time there is a fruity almost toasty quality. The description says tropical fruit—pineapple. Yes, I totally get a pineapple-like note. At first I thought it wasn’t sweet, but as it sits on my tongue it becomes moreso.

Second steep. I’ll go for 4:30 this time since that’s what I meant to hit the first time.
The leaves have unfurled from small balls at the bottom of the Finum filter to long, green, somewhat twiggy vegetation that fills the entire filter. Liquor is lighter yellow. Lovely floral notes. The pineapple is still there! A fresher, almost a tad astringent mouthfeel but with a contrasting butter/cream note still present in the tea. Sweet, somewhat toasty aftertaste.

Third steep. 4 minutes. I wish I had more of this so I could try short steeps in the gaiwan and see how they compare. It is possible I overleafed now that I read about this on the Red Blossom web site about the 2013 harvest. But that’s okay because I’m liking what I taste here. I wonder whether and how it would have been different if I’d drunk it earlier rather than saving it? I also think I should have pulled farther back on time for the subsequent steeps, because I’d pretty much drained the flavor from the leaves by steep 3. All the previous notes were still present, just less so.

I really enjoyed this. It’s clear I need to work on my oolong preparation skills, which if they were ever good aren’t any longer. But even given my rather bumbling western steeping of this it was just delicious. I’d recommend this except that it’s no longer offered. The 2013 version might be worth a look, though.


195 °F / 90 °C

Wow, sounds wonderful!


I do love oolongs. Oh to have more time to sit with tea. :-)

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drank Starry Night by Liber Teas
1183 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 60 for the year 2014. Hey, look what I found in my work stash! A little bag of this! I must have got it as a sample when I ordered from LiberTEAS way back when. A nice little surprise to find it again.

Of course, it is ancient. I can’t believe I didn’t drink it when I first got it. I meant to.

I smelled mostly peach in the little bag, and I also taste mostly peach after steeping. I’m also getting the sort of woodsy green rooibos flavor and a bit of tartness that I think must be the orange peel.

It’s a nice, light fruit flavor without too much rooibosiness. I think the fact that it’s green rooibos probably accounts for how well the light flavor comes through without any dustiness or hamster cage that I sometimes get from red rooibos.

I can only imagine how nice this would have been if I’d had it when I first bought it. Rating based on an extrapolation of how it tastes now (nice despite its age) to what it likely would have tasted like if it was still fresh.

Flavors: Orange Zest, Peach, Wood

Boiling 8 min or more

«Rating based on an extrapolation of how it tastes now…»
That’s really thoughtful, it really shows your love for tea! I have to remember that when I come across the “ancients” in my cupboard, lol!


Yeah, I was going to give it a 78 but then I thought, you know, it isn’t really fair because I know this would taste better if it was fresh. The little bag it was in, for example, had a bit of an old paper scent, which I had to factor out of the aroma and (I figured) the taste as well.

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drank Gyokuro Bags by Maeda-en
1183 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 59 for the year 2014. A teabag from the work stash. (Gyokuro in a teabag? Whoa.)

There are two other entries for Maeda-en Gyokuro teabags in the Steepster database, but one is for “premium” and one is for “supreme.” Mine was simply called “Green Tea Tea Bag” so I created a new entry for it.

I attempted to get my water from the spigot at work down to something approaching 140 degrees by letting it sit after dispensing for five minutes.

The teabag smells terrific, sort of like buttery spinach, and after steeping it smells even more like that. The liquor is a very light chartreuse color. The tea’s aroma is very subtle chlorophylly smell.

The tea has a very light flavor, not as deep and vegetable-like as the few other gyokuros I’ve tasted, but still mellow and not bitter. It has a touch of butter, but not a lot, but it’s also not grassy. It has a nice umami aspect, that is present but not thick. I suppose it does suggest seaweed, though as I mostly eat seaweed in connection with sushi, I don’t usually focus on the taste. To me, it’s suggestive of spinach.

I have to wonder whether there would have been more to this under better steeping conditions. It was pleasant, but lacked the fullness of the other gyokuro’s I have tried.

Flavors: Butter, Seaweed

2 min, 0 sec

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I wanted to try this one again before I completely forgot my last experience with it to see whether it grew on me or the reverse.

This time I saw quite a few chips and nibs in the mix, at least two peanut butter ones, two chocolate ones and some cocoa nibs over 3 teaspoons worth of tea.

I did not add milk this time. After a few sips, I poured this into my tumbler to take with me on the commute to work.

I noticed mostly chocolate this time. The peanut butter didn’t come out very much until the tea started to cool, and even then it wasn’t as strong as the chocolate. However, I’m not sure I want it to be much stronger. The chocolate note was tasty and sat well with me, but as the peanut butter started to creep in more I started to feel a heaviness in the way this sat in my stomach. I’d had breakfast, but it had been a couple of hours, and I wonder whether having food in my stomach would have made a difference.

Not really growing on me, but not getting much worse either.

ETA: I just dumped the leaves out of the Breville filter basket and found that the peanut butter and chocolate chips did not melt during steeping. This strikes me as a less than optimal result. I am not sure whether there’s something I can do to encourage them to melt other than steeping longer, which worries me.

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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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