1240 Tasting Notes


A very rushed first morning cup. Very mild on the tummy, with the bergamot seeming a little less present than it did yesterday. Nice, silky mouth feel as the tea cooled.

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Sipdown no. 79 of the year 2014 and my 700th tasting note! Well, that was poor planning. I should have arranged it so that I had the 80th sipdown on the 700th note. ;-)

I remember this being one of the better camomile blends I’ve had. I only had enough left in the sample packet to make about half a cup, but it does remain one of the better camomiles in my book.

For me, pretty much any blend with camomile in it, if the camomile can be tasted, succeeds or fails on the taste of the camomile. In my previous note I mentioned how some camomiles taste to me the way I’d imaging a mouth full of dried flowers would taste. The ones that succeed don’t have that quality.

This blend’s camomile has a freshness to the taste that persists despite the age of this sample. I’m not sure whether it’s the quality of the camomile or the influence of the lavender or some of both, but there’s some sweetness as well that makes this a very pleasant tisane.

Having had some not so great camomile in the past couple of months, I’m boosting the rating a tad and putting this on the wish list, even though it’s still a question mark to me whether I’ll ultimately order it. I do think that even if one isn’t a camomile lover, it makes sense to have a really good camomile in one’s collection for those rare times when it seems like nothing else will do.


unfortunately i don’t like camomile


Wow, I’m amazed at both your # of sipdowns in less than two months, and your 700! Congrats :)


Thanks Jennkay!

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I suspect this is another tea of the month club addition. It’s still available at Teavana as of this writing.

I’m not sure I would recognize this as a rooibos blend if I drank it blindfolded. I can definitely see the rooibos, but what I taste is lemon and some apple. The lemon leans toward a lemon myrtle-y version even though the flavor comes from lemongrass; it’s got a touch of bitterness to it, but on the other side is a lingering sweetness. I don’t taste pomegranate, and I don’t taste the cardamom, but if I stretch my senses really far I might be able to get some pomegranate in the aroma. It’s mostly lemon and apple as well, though, and the liquor looks like apple juice.

Since I mostly taste lemon, I find myself comparing this to other Teavana lemons. I like the Lemon Youkou better than this, and I like the Strawberry Lemonade best of all. If I could taste more pomegranate this might be more interesting. Next time I’ll try overleafing more (I used heaping teaspoons) and see if it comes out.

ETA: Though I don’t taste the cardamom, I’m noticing a little spicy kick in the aftertaste that I expect is contributed by it. P. S. No. 2 liked it, and the BF says it is on his top ten list. (Though he admits he hasn’t kept track of what else is on his top ten list. ;-))

Boiling 7 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 34 OZ / 1000 ML

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drank Shanghai Orchid by Teavana
1240 tasting notes

It was either this or break open another green and I decided to hold off on breaking open more tea while I have so much taking the air now, so to speak. I’m gonna work this one toward a sipdown because it’s just not doing the same magic on me it has done on some other folks.

This time I tried it at 175 for 1 minute.

It’s still not magical for me, but it keeps getting better as I play with the times and temps. It could also have something to do with the mixture and what big hunks o’ fruit made it into this steep. It seems slightly less sweet but with the same amount of floral notes, and I’m finding I like that better than the fruitier notes.

Alas, I think I graded this one a little too high to start, so I’m bumping it down a little.

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I can’t call this a sipdown yet because although I drank the last of my work stash, it seems I still have about 7 bags at home.

I oversteeped because someone stopped me on my way back to my cube, but even with a longer than optimal steep time this wasn’t bitter or otherwise horrible. Like the Three Kingdoms Mao Feng I think it deserves a slightly better rating. Still not as good as some of the other jasmines I’ve had lately—the underlying tea is neither really taste-able nor does it add much to the flavor. The overall impression is heavier than the Kusmi and the jasmine isn’t as wonderful. But not a bad work tea.


You are very honest about you sipdowns Morgana, I can appreciate that.

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Backlogging from this morning. This was my commuting tea today and it was very pleasant—light, tasty, and easy on the stomach. In fact, I think I have been too critical about this tea and I’m going to bump its rating. It’s been a while since I had another non-jasmine green from China, so I don’t have a lot to compare it to in recent memory but it’s certainly more pleasurable than some other teas I’ve had recently.

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drank Yerba Mate by Samovar
1240 tasting notes

One year I spent a lot of money at Samovar and they added me to their Christmas list. A package appeared at my door that contained three tins of different types of yerba mate (including this one) and the Four Hour Workweek book. I never got around to trying the yerba mate until now.

I was avoiding it, to tell the truth. I had had some in blends and didn’t really love it, plus some of the things I read about carcinogenic effects bugged me.

But here it is in my work drawer, so I thought I’d give it a try.

It isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I doubt I’ll ever become a yerba mate fan, but it’s tolerable to drink from time to time. (And because you use a lot of leaf to the cup it should go reasonably fast.)

It smells and tastes a little like dirty grass, but believe it or not, that’s not as bad as it sounds. It’s also a little like eating a mixture of raw potato and raw yellow squash.

I doubt it will grow on me, but we’ll see. Not sure how to rate this because I can’t say how good a yerba mate it is. I’ll have to rate it non-comparatively and base the rating on taste, I guess.

Flavors: Earth, Grass, Loam, Potato

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 4 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

i remember yerba mate! the Peruvians drank it out of some shell thing. i tried it once (i mean by yerba mate, in general. not a specific kind)

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Another Earl from the stash, and another company that is no more.

I have a mostly full container of this. I really couldn’t remember how it tasted before I tried it again. I expected, somehow, stronger bergamot even though I see my original note didn’t find it too strong.

It’s interesting, I think I prefer the Simpson & Vail’s tea base, but this is a better Earl Grey because the flavor profile is more typical. (Sometimes it feels like judging a dog show doesn’t it? The dog is adorable and has a great personality but doesn’t fit a basic criterion of the breed. Not that I’ve ever judged a dog show but I like watching the one that comes on after the Macy’s parade on Thanksgiving.) I see I rated this one the same as the S&V but perhaps that’s okay because they’re good at different things.

I almost didn’t go for Earl Grey at all this morning. Lately I’ve been waking up on Mondays with a feeling of dread in my tummy that makes everything seem unappetizing, but this was nice and mild and isn’t making it worse.


I know that feeling very well.

Sami Kelsh

I couldn’t judge a dog show. I’d give them all top marks for being themselves because they’re all special! Oh, I just want to go play with a bunch of lovely dogs now. weeps with puppy feelings

And oh no to dread feels! I’d imagine Earl Grey’s a good antidote to dread, given the calming effects of bergamot, but also hugs just in case.


Thanks :-)


does organic taste any different than non organic?


Hard to say. To my taste buds, it tastes no different but I appreciate the lack of pesticides that I am imbibing while I drink it. Tea can be VERY high in pesticides from growing and the way it is grown.


I don’t notice a difference in the taste.


ok, thankyou :)

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drank Shanghai Orchid by Teavana
1240 tasting notes

Giving this another try using QuiltGuppy’s temp and time (93 rating, worth a try, right)? As an aside, I’m reading a collection of Alice Munro short stories which were assigned reading for my writing class. She’s a wonderful writer but I really want to strangle some of these characters.

In any case, I find this tea something I’d also like to strangle because I wasn’t able to get it to work for me the first time, though reading the descriptions from the people who really like it, I think I should like it.

It is much more to my taste using the lower temperature and steeping time. I get a sort of melony, dewy flavor along with the floral that takes it even farther away from the Adagio White Tropics similarities.

I still don’t like it as much as I think I should, though. And not enough to bump the rating….

Sami Kelsh

I absolutely know I’ve read Alice Munro (English degree, so yeah) but seriously can’t remember which ones if I have, or what happens in them! But somehow I agree that she’s a good writer :|


I’m reading stories of Flo and Rose (a collection with a lot of stories about the same two main characters). It’s very well done.

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drank Masala Chai by Adagio Teas
1240 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 78 of the year 2014. I could have let this go for one more round, but I felt the itch to get another sipdown in. I have discovered that there are approximately 5 tablespoons of chai in the Adagio sample tin. I used two last time, today I tripled the recipe instead of doubling it so I wouldn’t have to have one serving sitting around by itself.

I also used a different black tea this time. Last time I used a Teafrog Assam. This time I used a Leafspa Yunnan.

It does make a difference. I think the Assam in general works better. It adds more flavor to the chai.

This time the flavor in general is milder, closer to Doulton’s experience of it than my original one. But I’m keeping the rating as is because I know it can do better with the right backup band.

Waiting to get a reaction from the peanut gallery. I described it to them as “grown up hot chocolate.” We’ll see whether that is an enticement…

Sami Kelsh

I have a friend who doesn’t like tea, and I think I’m thisclose to getting her to give chai a go. THISCLOSE. Huzzah!

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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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