1187 Tasting Notes


Yesterday morning I had the Earl Grey Shanghai from ATR, so today I thought I’d try this.

In the sample packet there’s the same rich bergamot scent as in the Shanghai, but without the sugary aroma of the Shanghai’s Yunnan base. The leaves are very pretty, that sort of spidery ceylon look, but instead of petals strewn among the leaves, this one has shiny silver needles. Lovely.

The liquor is a light reddish brown, not quite as deep red in color as I’ve come to think of the “ceylon” color. There’s a mild aroma that is slightly spicy, slightly citrus-y, and though I smell the bergamot it’s not overpowering.

The main difference between this and the Earl Grey Shanghai is, to my tastebuds, the tea base. The Yunnan base gives the Shanghai a very substantial body, with a sweet, rich sugar/molasses/cocoa thing going on. The blend of this base, which starts with ceylon, gives the tea a more medium to light body that is still very flavorful, but tastes more like “tea.” It’s hard to think of an analogy that isn’t too hyperbolic. I was thinking the difference between a vanilla shake and cream soda, but that’s too drastic of a contrast. It reminds me of the Lady Grey in body and somewhat in taste, but without the creme.

As with the other ATR Greys, this one doesn’t overwhelm with bergamot. The balance works nicely for me.

I’m a little torn on this one. It’s a fine tea, but I prefer the nommy Yunnan base of the Shanghai. I think if I ordered the Shanghai, the Lavender and the Lady Grey, I would cover the Earl Grey bases with ATR well enough without adding this to the order. However, as always, your mileage may vary—particularly if the Yunnan-based Earl Grey isn’t your thing.

200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec

Earl Grey Shanghai sound very interesting. lately Im into Yunnan blacks and i love EG’s but i dont think i had this combo. on my list to try

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drank Rooibos Peach Bloom by Teavana
1187 tasting notes

Tried this on the kids. No. 1 says he likes it but didn’t really want to drink it, and no. 2 says he loves it. But then he admitted that after sleeping on it, he doesn’t really love the Strawberry Kiwi from last night as much as he thought he did.

So who knows. My witnesses are proving unreliable. ;-)

I have to say I liked this fine tonight for a non-tea, though if I compare the day’s ending to the day’s beginning (the American Tea Room peach flavored black) I far and away prefer the black tea based peach.


This sounds positively lovely.


I gather they don’t make it anymore from some of the other notes. Pity.

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Next in the line of experiments to see what the kids might like. I was rather surprised that neither of them had any love for this, as it is a very smooth, vanilla-y lemon. However, I wasn’t really feeling the love much myself this evening so I suppose I’m not one to talk.

It may be that this hasn’t aged particularly well, so I hesitate to mark down its rating, but I think I’m putting it first in line for sipdown status among the various herbal blends we’re revisiting now.

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drank Green Chai by Adagio Teas
1187 tasting notes

This is surprisingly good. I am baffled by it, though.

Ordinarily I would make chai on the stovetop with milk and sweetener. Somehow that seemed wrong for green chai though I’m honestly not sure why that should be. I mean, it’s not like I haven’t had creamed spinach. So I steeped this as a normal green.

It’s a tasty, spiced green tea-though without the chewiness that milk adds to chai. The tea is mild and the spices are as well, but with a peppery kick.

In the tin, I mostly smell clove. A little ginger and cinnamon, too. I see what look like pieces of cinnamon among the leaves. Steeped as I did, the tea has a light yellow liquor and smells a little like gingerbread.

I think steeping as a regular green is the way to go. This is a delicate approach to chai and I think milk would drown it.

185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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drank Gyokuro by Adagio Teas
1187 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 22 for the year 2014. I’m glad I still have other Gyokuros I have yet to try. This one was a good introduction.


what it taste like?


2 minutes ago

I’ve written a number of other notes on this particular tea which give a lot more info on the taste—but in a nutshell, rich, grassy, vegetal, green and otherwise yummy with a milky mouthfeel.


we call it green tea then :P

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drank Elyse's Blend by Harney & Sons
1187 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 21 for the year 2014. I see I am averaging about a sipdown a day. I have another scheduled for the afternoon between conference calls so I’ll be at 22 on January 22nd. Heh. This sipdown thing is a little dangerous. I can already hear the little voice in my head saying: “hey, you know when you get to, say, 500 sipdowns for the year, maybe you should reward yourself and BUY TEA from someplace you’ve never tried, and maybe that’s also worth buying out your shopping list at Harney & Sons… no wait, maybe you need to get to 750 for that…” Ugh. I mean it’s not like 500 is on the horizon, so I’m playing a game with myself there, setting the number that high. On the other hand, at this rate I’ll soon be doubling up my average…

In any case, I decided to drink this one because there’s a big jar of honey sitting on the kitchen counter at the moment from the neighbors’ bee hive and it was a free association sort of thing. (There’s a lot of “urban farming” going on on my block, though I suppose it’s really more “suburban farming”-several people raising chickens, bees, etc.)

In looking at the notes on this I am wondering why I didn’t get a sample of Tower of London? It sounds like something I’d do, but I don’t see it among my list of notes or among my stash. I’m putting it on the shopping list.

I feel oddly comforted when my notes from my original tasting capture what I’m thinking on a subsequent tasting much much later. There is enough uncertainty in the world without wondering what’s going on with your senses. Basically, I have the same reaction as before: “gentle, smooth, honeyed. It’s medium to light bodied, and somewhat brisk, a really nice perker upper after a weekend nap. I wish I could unravel the flavors to say what the Kenyan tastes like, but I can’t. The black tea blend is pretty seamless.”

I’d add it to the shopping list but I see it’s already on there.


A sipdown a day! I envy you. I can’t seem to discipline myself to do all the sipdowns that I should – my hand keeps reaching out to old favorites.


Hehe. I am on a mission!


for some unknown reason Tower of London is playing games with me. one day i luv it, then another day i wonder…


boychik, yeah, sometimes that happens to me. Maybe it has something to do with body chemistry on a given day. Who knows?

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This is, essentially, the ATR Earl Grey Lavender without the lavender. It’s the same yummy Yunnan base and the same relatively light touch on the bergamot. When I say light touch, understand that I’ve had Earl Greys where I felt afterwards as though bergamot oil was being excreted from my pores. It’s not that the bergamot isn’t present here, it’s that it isn’t taking over the entire experience.

I would never have expected a light touch on the bergamot when I sniffed the sample packet. The scent from the packet is very citrusy and a little floral, though there are no petals to add color to this pretty, dark-leaved tea. Once the tea is steeped, the Yunnan base really comes to the fore of the aroma. I love this smell-brown sugary, leaning almost toward chocolate. It’s the same general idea as the Samovar Earls, which I adore.
The tea color is a gorgeous reddish brown. They call it garnet. It’s not quite that red, but it’s still lovely.

The flavor is what I like most. It’s that brown sugary base that cuts the bergamot and keeps it from veering into perfumed oil territory. It isn’t quite as smooth as I recall the Samovar (with a similar flavor profile) being-it has just a bit of briskness to it. But it’s still right up my personal Earl Grey alley.

200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec

Mmmmm…this sounds divine. Glad you enjoyed it!

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My sample doesn’t say it’s organic, but my guess is it’s just a prior version of the current one which can now be certified as organic. It does identify the tea base as a Ceylon. The base looks and tastes like the base to the Apricot and the Passion Fruit, which I had suspected were Ceylons but felt too rusty to make a call on-I’m glad to know I haven’t completely lost all my knowledge of black tea varieties during my hiatus.

The smell of the dry leaf from the packet is wonderful. It’s reminiscent of the juiciness of the apricot, though this time it’s juicy peach. I once had a wonderful peach pie in which the peach flavor of the peaches was incredible-it was like a heightened version of fresh peach. More peach than actual peaches. That’s what this smells like.

The aroma is a gentler peach plus the Ceylon, and the liquor is that gorgeous reddish color I associate with Ceylons.

The peach flavor tastes just like it smells. The BF, being a fruity tea fan and a peach fan in particular (he loves everything from the fruit off the tree to the ice cream and everything in between), said this was “right up at the top” and asked for more before I’d even finished my cup.

I agree. It’s a great black peach.

I’m bumping the ratings of all the ATR fruits because I’m still feeling my way back into my rating system. They’re all really excellent examples of single fruit blacks so I’m rating accordingly.

195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec
American Tea Room

you are correct about the label…sorry about that – it is organic.

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A hit with both peanuts! No. 2 more than no. 1, but both said they’d drink it again. No. 2 is the strawberry fan in the house, and as the strawberry is very much the main event here, I’m not surprised.

Delighted to see that this is still for sale at The NecessiTeas site in case we find ourselves needing more!

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drank Calm by Tazo
1187 tasting notes

In an effort to find non-caffeinated alternatives for the kids to enjoy, I steeped a cup of this tonight and gave them each a taste.

We have discovered that neither peanut is a chamomile fan.

After having quite a bit of the Independence Coffee Co. Chamomile/Peppermint Plus over the last couple of weeks to put out the five alarm fire in my virus ravaged throat, this was perhaps not the best choice for me this evening. I need a little distance from the flavor so I can stop associating it with pain.

The mint in this one is milder than in the Independence, and the flavor is more subtle and complex. Bumping it a few points higher than the Independence for subtlety and complexity.


Sorry to hear your kids didn’t like it!

I find this tea always seems to make me incredibly sleepy. I’ll drink it and within about 10 minutes of finishing my cup I won’t be able to function…I guess it’s a good thing someone was there to drive me home when I had it at Starbucks.


Designated driver for tea drinking! LOL. :-)


Hahaha! No kidding!

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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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