1183 Tasting Notes


Another tea sachet from the work stash. Since I’m not at home I’m not entirely sure whether this is a sip down or not. I know I have some Maeda-en teas at home but I’m not sure whether this is one of them. Now, if I had a spreadsheet like some of you very organized people I would not have this problem. Oh well.

I hope this isn’t a sipdown because I’m enjoying this. It’s roasty toasty ricey in aroma and even moreso in flavor. The liquor is a greenish yellow. The toasty rice is the main event, but the tea is sweet, not at all bitter, and plays a nice supporting role.

The flavor of genmai-cha always reminds me of popcorn even though it probably should remind me of puffed rice cakes. I’m thinking it would be a good accompaniment to a movie night at home.

ETA: Apparently I did not order this in quantity, so this is sipdown no. 35 of 2014.

205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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drank Tochiotome Green by Lupicia
1183 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 34 of 2014. Another sachet from the work stash. And another strawberry. Did I mention I WANT ALL THE STRAWBERRY TEA?

I don’t have a thermometer with me so filled my cup with water from the hot water filter tap and let it sit for five minutes before steeping.

The tea in the sachet has even more of a sweet strawberry smell than the Carol or the Champagne Rose, likely explained by their black tea bases and this one’s green base. The steeped aroma is a really nice mix of sweet strawberry and bright green tea. The liquor is a light lemony color with sediment distributed throughout (the sachet left little particles of green tea on my desk; they’re a bit too fine for the sachet, I think).

As flavored green teas go, this one is very nice. I get a fair amount of sweet strawberry flavor in and among the green tea, which is fairly mellow with a hint of butter and no bitterness.

In general, I prefer the heartiness of the Lupicia strawberry flavored blacks, but I’d definitely drink this again if I was in the mood for a fruity green tea.

1 min, 30 sec

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drank White Symphony by Adagio Teas
1183 tasting notes

I brought some of this with me in a tumbler for my drink in the car on the way to work. I steeped it 2.5 minutes instead of the Adagio-recommended 7 to see what effect that might have.

The more I drink this the more I wonder whether I don’t love white peony or whether I just don’t love THIS white peony. It’s been a long time since I’ve compared different whites and I just can’t remember.

This one has a heaviness that seems incongruous with white tea, a very planty taste that I don’t find at all evocative of melon or nectarine as indicated in the description, and that sits heavy in my stomach.

I do like it better plain than with flavoring, but it’s still not something I’d stock regularly.

In fact, I’m bumping it down just a tad. I’m within sipdown range and I’m finding myself looking forward to the sipdown.

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Given my previous statements about how I feel about bergamot in Earl Grey (basically that it should sit quietly and not interrupt) I cannot explain adequately why I even have this. My only explanation is that it is tea, and don’t we all want to TRY ALL THE TEA?

The bergamot scent in sample bag is strong, but not overpowering—a little on the perfumey side with something of a metallic note. The tea steeps to a reddish amber. Despite the triple threat, the bergamot isn’t overwhelming in the aroma and I no longer smell the metallic note I did from the dry leaves. The aroma is, in my view, very promising because I smell a malty note that I think means I’m going to like the tea base.

And I do, for the most part. There’s something about the taste that reminds me of the Tavalon Earl Grey Reserve. There’s a bit of a minerally edge that could be either raw potato or metal, but it isn’t nearly as strong as that taste in the Tavalon and there is, as well, a sweetish, malty note. I think I may have slightly underleafed and will try more next time.

The good news for me is that the bergamot doesn’t strike me as overly strong despite the name. That would also be bad news for someone looking for a really really strong bergamot.

It’s a nice tea. Not among my favorite Earl Greys, but I’ll drink the rest happily.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

TRY ALL THE TEA sums things up very nicely, I think.

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Tasting note no. 600. Time does fly when you’re having fun. ;-)

Feeling rather more virtuous than I have in a while because I exercised today. The last time I exercised was before I got the awful virus a couple of weeks ago, so it felt good to get my lungs full of fresh air and my pores full of sweat.

I wanted something green and simple, not busy with flavors other than the tea. I also thought I should apply myself to the project of drinking up the rest of the open greens before too much more time passes.

I haven’t had a straight up Chinese green tea in a while and this was just fine for the purpose. I see by my original note I found it rather on the high average side, nothing spectacular but tasty enough. After sipping on this, I agree with my original assessment.

It has a pleasant, buttery vegetable taste—maybe a little hint of broccoli, maybe a little hint of spinach. No bitterness and a pleasant finish. A good after workout tea.


Wow, go us. Congratulations on 600 too!


Right on!

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drank Berry Noir by American Tea Room
1183 tasting notes

It appears I’m the first to taste this, and sadly, it appears I may be the last.

I went to look for this tea on The American Tea Room site, and I can no longer find “Berry Noir” available for purchase. There are other berry teas available from ATR now, but not a single-flavor blackberry.

Which is a shame, because the first thing I noticed when I opened the sample packet was the big honking dried blackberries among the tea leaves and a singularly amazing blackberry smell.

Alas, the poor blackberry. It seems to get short shrift in the berry world, taking a second seat to its more popular cousins, the blueberry, the raspberry and the strawberry. I will admit to putting it in my grocery basket as an afterthought when I’ve been berry shopping. And yet, I’m always very happy when I eat a really juicy blackberry. Though I can’t conjure the taste of blackberry in my mind in the same way I can with its little friends. Perhaps that explains the fate of this tea.

Would that it were not so. The tea’s steeped aroma is a deep, luscious blackberry peacefully co-existing with a mild tea base that I suspect is Ceylon. The liquor, in any case, is very similar in color to the other single fruit blends I’ve tried from ATR.

The taste is remarkable. Really, truly, like having a mouthful of sweet berries with each sip. And since they’re not blue, rasp, straw, or any lesser known berries I’ve tasted, I’m comfortable with the idea that they’re blackberries.

This would definitely go on the shopping list if only it still existed.

Le sigh.

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec

damn! i love blackberry! ah well, i have a ton of tea…. =0)


James, I know, right?


Aww, too bad they took it away from you. I like blackberries, but I’ll admit that I prefer more sour berries such as raspberries.


Fjellrev, I like raspberries a lot, too. This tea was really awesome though.


I’d send them a note; I’m finding them really easy to work with, and they’ll tell you if it’s a temporary or permanent removal.


Thanks, MissB, that’s a great suggestion.

American Tea Room

We can tell you – we now offer two teas – Blushing Berry (which has all the red fruit – currants and strawberries) AND Black & Blue (which has all the black and blue fruit – blueberries, blackberries) SO my guess is you would like the Black & Blue – sorry we no longer have your favorite but we think these two are awesome as well.


Thank you. I’ll be sure to try them!

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drank Vivaldi by Mariage Frères
1183 tasting notes

I was going to continue with the next tea in line as planned, but then I got some unexpected good news. So I thought I’d find something with “that French thing” going on to drink as a celebration. (The good news: my first (and so far only) novella was accepted by a speculative fiction publication. As there are a very limited number of places that accept stories this length, I thought perhaps I might end up having to retire this piece without it finding a home.)

I’ll be more detailed and think about ratings in a later note. For now, I just want to enjoy this lovely fruity melange. Is it chocolate? Is it vanilla? What fruit is it?

Right now, I don’t care. It’s yum.

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec

Congratulations! Very exciting news.


Congrats! So happy for you


bravo for the publication ! to me Vivaldi didn’t work, I had it in a MF tea room and it may come from the preparation


Fantastic news! Congrats!


Thanks so much, everyone. It’s been a while since I had good writing news, so this was very welcome indeed.


Ysaurella, I need to spend more time with it when I’m not on an adrenaline rush to see how it truly fares.


Wow, congratulations!


Thanks, bluebelle!


That’s great! Congratulations!




Thanks again, everyone!

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Sipdown no. 33 of 2014. I don’t expect this will be the last I’ll see of this tea, though.

I still think my “likes” are screwing up. I click them but then when I refresh the page or the next time I go to it, unless the note I liked showed up on the first screen (not after clicking more) it appears the likes are gone and I can click them again. But the don’t stick the second time either.

Anyone know if there’s a workaround for this or a particular browser this doesn’t happen with? I hope it isn’t user error. I’ll feel really dumb.

Mmmm. The sweet, brown sugar/molasses thing going on is just right for this morning. It’s almost like having coffee cake, but without the calories.

A sad goodbye, but only for now.


Oh yes, I’ve also noticed the same, but when I click on “likes” (not the heart) I see that my pic is there so I know my “like” worked…


+1 with theteafairy, I noticed exactly the same


Ah, great, I’ll take a look and see if that’s happening for me. Thanks!


I have the same problem

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drank Berry Rooibos by Samovar
1183 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 32 of 2014 is the single serving sample of this one. (Wow, that was a lot of s’s in one sentence.)

I didn’t read the ingredients before I sniffed the packet just for fun. My first thought was “strawberry?” Then just as I was about to nod my head, I thought “blueberry?” So at that point I checked the packet and yes, both of those flavors are represented. As is (shudder) hibiscus.

The good news: after steeping I smelled mostly berry, almost no rooibos (yay) and just a little upswing of tart around the edges that is the hibiscus.

I was worried at first that the flavor would be too tart for me, but it isn’t. It’s actually sweeter than I expected. The berry flavor is pronounced, but not individuated. It’s rather like eating a slice of one of those pies that has several berry flavors in it.

And the rooibos? Excellent news for me. I barely taste it, except for a fleeting pass after the sip. As rooibos goes, Samovar’s is among the best I’ve tasted plain so even what I taste of it is fine.

Samovar’s descriptions are often a cornucopia of aromas and flavors that make me feel like a total novice. This is no exception. I get a mulled wine, natural punch but in the flavor rather than the aroma, and I can’t say I can identify the orange, apricot etc. Though I do taste a bit of something lemon like in the finish and there is an interesting little peppery kick in the aftertaste.

I would buy this. Yes, I would.

Sadly, it appears I am too late as I no longer see it available on the Samovar web site. It may still be part of the rooibos sampler, but it’s not clear that’s offered anymore either as the page I found that lists it says “out of stock.”

Ah well. Lesson learned.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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drank White Pear by Adagio Teas
1183 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 31 for the year 2014.

I’m sorry to say this tea and I were not meant to be. I hope others have better luck coaxing out the pear (Dexter3657, I’m looking at you). ;-)

Dropping the rating some on this and the tangerine. I’ve had too many better teas lately for these to stay in the good category.


I’m seriously thinking about dehydrating a pear or two and adding more bits of pear to it. LOL Guess I should actually try it plain first but I’m really not that hopeful. :))


I am guessing it could use the help, not that I want to bias you or anything. ;-)

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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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