1283 Tasting Notes

drank Earl Grey Creme by Art of Tea
1283 tasting notes

Another Earl from the stash. I reread my earlier note on this—there I said that the crème was the dominant flavor I tasted and that is still true. The bergamot is not strong at all, but it is clearly there because this doesn’t taste like a single flavor vanilla tea. I like Earl Grey crèmes in general because of the mildness the vanilla flavor adds, and this is a very enjoyable wake-up tea. Sort of like a gentle shake rather than a klaxon blaring in my ear.

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I’ve had other lemon-ginger combinations that I didn’t care for, but I was prepared to have a different experience as soon as I opened this up. The smell from the packet of combined lemon and ginger made me think of….. ginger ale! I got the same note from the steeped infusion, which yields a deep orange colored liquor.

I have family in Birmingham, Alabama, and in Birmingham they have a local ginger ale called Buffalo Rock. It’s really yummy, and what makes it so good is that it has a much more intense ginger flavor than standard ginger ales like Canada Dry. Here’s more info about it: http://www.buffalorock.com/golden-ginger-ale/

Drinking this, I was reminded of Buffalo Rock ginger ale, minus the carbonation. The ginger flavor is deep but not to the point of pain and it has a spicy kick in the aftertaste. The lemon is taste-able as well and is what lifts the flavor up and gives it an impression of effervescence. I really do feel like I’m drinking a good ginger ale without carbonation, but not flat.

I may be the only person who wrote a note about this that found the ginger more prominent than the lemon and I wonder whether this is either because of what ended up in my measuring spoon or the age of this tisane (which was in a sealed packet but still rather old). I hope that’s not the case though because I would drink this for the ginger flavor more than the lemon. I could see it being an excellent tummy settler, too.

The thing is, I don’t drink ginger ale that often. Mostly on airplanes or when traveling. I drink it about as often as I drink root beer, though I like it more. So I wonder whether I’d really drink this often enough to justify keeping it around. On the other hand, I’m regretting not ordering The Necessiteas Rootbeer Float so as to have that around.

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

It sounds interesting!


I’m interested to see whether it’s the same the next time or whether the lemon comes out more.

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Sipdown no. 82 of the year 2014. Two sipdowns today and neither were samples. Yay!

If I needed an easily portable jasmine green with a Chinese green tea base, I might consider buying this again. I am, however, slowly perfecting the balancing act of steeping loose leaf at work which is where I find myself in the most difficult conditions. Travel isn’t hard compared to work, though of course I don’t do any traveling that is too rustic.

Because I don’t really have the need of a bagged jasmine green I suspect I won’t buy this again. But I’m nostalgic about the sipdown because this was from my original “getting into tea” purchase and it’s tasty enough. More sipdowns of the original group on the horizon, which can only be a good thing…

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Another of the samples I have from the now-defunct SpecialTeas. Looks like there might be two more after this, a caramel one and a vanilla one.

The smell in the sample packet is a greenish coconut rather than a toasty one, but a nice greenish coconut—not overpowering, not artificial-smelling, not cloying. The liquor is a beautiful dark, cherry red with just a hint of brown. The aroma doesn’t have a lot of what I’d recognize as coconut—it’s sort of a generic flat sweetness over the tea base.

I may have overleafed slightly as I tend to use heaping teaspoons and now that I look at the instructions, this one suggests level teaspoons. But the result isn’t bitter or in any way unpleasant. There’s no harshness or bite to it. I will try with less leaf next time, though.

The flavor is definitely coconut. I usually prefer toasty coconut if given a choice, but I can also appreciate a greener, rawer coconut flavor. This is a good rawer coconut with a fruity note. It’s not too heavy or too sweet. The aftertaste has a bit of a cocoa or perhaps coffee quality to it, not too rich and not too light.

It has been a while since I’ve had a coconut flavored black of any stripe. I remember quite liking the ATR and the Premium Steap versions. Looking back at my notes, the Premium Steap is a toasty coconut while the ATR is more of the type in this blend. It has been so long since I had the ATR (and I had the foresight to finish up that sample rather than let it sit for years) that I can’t compare this to it. Interestingly, when I went to rate this, I decided on an 81. Then I looked at what I gave the ATR: also 81. As I sit here I can’t say whether these two compare that closely, but it’s almost an irrelevancy now since I couldn’t get more of this even if I wanted to. The good news then is that there is an alternative.

Flavors: Coconut

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

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drank Shanghai Orchid by Teavana
1283 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 81 of the year 2014.

The BF really likes this one. It’s amusing how our tastes are almost never exactly aligned on tea. Then again, it pretty much reflects our tastes generally. When given a choice of dessert I will almost always pick chocolate and he’ll almost always pick fruit. Jack sprat and all that jazz.

In any case, I am not sorry to see it go, as is probably evident from my concerted effort to sip it down over the last few days. I can see how others would like it, though. And I’m glad I got the chance to try it as it allowed me to experiment with different time and temperature settings and also helped solidify some things about my personal taste when it comes to flavored white tea.

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drank Vanilla Oolong by Adagio Teas
1283 tasting notes

I put some of this into a gaiwan two days ago intending to have it during the evening but never got around to it. Since I’m working from home today I thought I’d go ahead and put it through several infusions.

I wondered what the effect of having the leaves sit out for a couple of days would be. I don’t know whether it’s psychological or actual, but the result seems to be a less offensive vanilla this time. The harsh-but-shallow false note that keeps me from liking the vanilla flavoring seemed much less, though not enough for me to start becoming a fan.

I’m within one serving of sipdown on this now, so there’s that.

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We were in a rush to get out of the house this morning because No. 1 had an appointment to get braces on his teeth. So basically, I put this in the Breville and forgot about it until we were halfway to the orthodontist. When I got home after dropping him at school, this was only slightly above room temperature. Which is actually interesting. I can almost imagine it as an iced tea, and I think it might be a good one. The bergamot doesn’t seem to become stronger with cooling and the flavor maintains its balance. Thinking about trying it iced now, except it’s not really the day for it.


No. 1 haha. I love what people come up with to call their kids, significant other, etc.


Hehe. No. 1 would tell you he sometimes feels like he’s no. 2 and no. 2 would tell you he really should be no. 1. ;-) I’m really just referring to birth order, though.


My #2 always has middle child syndrome. According to her nobody loves and I’m guilty in everything

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Sipdown no. 80 of the year 2014. I am trying to keep hitting at least one sipdown a day, but I notice that I’ve been slowing down a bit. It’s a combination of not wanting to part with some of my easily sipdownable stuff (like a lot of these Harney samples) and not having made enough headway into some of the older, open teas of which I have more than sample sizes. I need a better strategy. (I can’t believe I’m actually considering spending time on a sipdown strategy. Ugh, I must really be bored. LOL)

In reading back over the notes on this I was laughing over the color controversy. I am pleased to report that this time, my liquor is unmistakeably PURPLE! A nice, reddish violet. No hint of the grey I had before. Query whether this is a function of age (its or mine), oxygenation, or flower mix. In any case, I am delighted I finally got to see the purpleness in all its glory.

Despite the age of this sample (which at least one other person mentioned made a difference in the flavor for them) I am getting pretty much what my original note reflected in terms of aroma and taste. Alone, it’s rather an intense drink. I definitely prefer the Yellow and Blue. The douse of camomile takes the edge off the lavender and vice versa. Would I drink this again? Yes, I can see it happening, but very rarely. I don’t think it’s enough to justify buying a tin of this, but perhaps having a sample packet on hand isn’t beyond all reason.


haha, this was a sipdown that you want to be able to sipdown again sometime. Perfectly reasonable! ;-)


lavender teas are sometimes too much “lavendery”
complicated to get the right balance with this kind of teas

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drank Cocoa Praline Tart by Teavana
1283 tasting notes

This either dates to my chocolate flavored buying spree or to the Teavana tea of the month club membership, not sure which, but it’s surprisingly good.

Now, whether it tastes like a praline tart is an open question. I have had a praline and I have had a tart, but I have never had a praline tart.

The mixture in the packet has a very dark, syrupy chocolate smell. The aroma of the steeped tisane is a fruity chocolate. I smell both a sharp sweetness which I attribute to the pineapple, and a richer sweetness which I attribute to the fig and perhaps the pear. I don’t taste rooibos, I don’t taste honeybush, and I don’t taste nuts. I would have liked to have tasted the macadamia nuts…

It’s another apple juice colored liquid, but this is slightly darker (not as dark as that really “healthy” apple juice that’s brown, more the color of a darker kids’ apple juice).

It’s pretty tasty. The BF said it tasted like liquor but I don’t get that flavor. There’s a light, sweet, chocolatey flavor over a fruity, almost light jammy-flavored tisane (though jammy here doesn’t refer to mouthfeel or body but to the flavor itself). No. 2 gave it the thumbs up.

Unfortunately, it’s another discontinued one. Or I would have considered a restock. It does its job as a dessert substitute. Everyone in the house had Girl Scout thin mints tonight, but I was able to resist! (80 calories in just two of those cookies, dammit.)

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

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drank Shanghai Orchid by Teavana
1283 tasting notes

Next in my continuing attempts—tonight I tried 175 for 1.5 minutes. It’s steadily improving, but I’m still not loving it. It’s the fruit flavor that’s causing the problem for me. The floral piece of it is fine. I wonder whether I would like this better if instead of going for a melony underlying fruit they’d used a citrus mix? Maybe grapefruit? There’s something about the sweetness of the fruit flavor that doesn’t hit me just right. Not nearly as bad as the Adagio White Tropics, but still enough so that depending on the day it can start to make my stomach go a little iffy.

The good news is I’m in sipdown range.

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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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