1183 Tasting Notes

drank Gyokuro by Adagio Teas
1183 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
1183 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
1183 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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Tried this on the peanuts tonight with mixed success. No. 1 liked it and said he’d drink it again. No. 2, not so much. He found it a little tart for his taste, but did not at all like it once sweetened. The BF and I remain big fans.


My friend is a big fan of this one – never tried it though.


i like this one. especially iced. even more especially in summer….

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drank Carol by Lupicia
1183 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 20 of 2014. I had a single sachet of this in my work stash.

I know I’ve had flavored black tea with strawberry among the flavors before-Marco Polo comes to mind-and of course I’ve had black tea flavored with vanilla. I’m not sure I’ve had a black tea flavored just with strawberry and vanilla, though.

Strawberry is one of those flavors that I don’t ordinarily seek out because I’ve experienced so many examples of it done badly, starting with Kool Aid when I was a tot. Carol was a pleasant surprise.

The sachet had the same feel and the tea base the same somewhat bakey smell as the Sweet Potato Pie of last week, but with the addition of a very lovely, sweet strawberry note. Once steeped, the bakeyness mellowed and was absent from the taste altogether.

The strawberry flavor is sweet and mild. I thought it was really well done. I can imagine a lot of ways it could have gone wrong. Fakey, medicinal, etc. My impression, though, was of something between fresh and dried strawberry made creamy and mellow by the vanilla.

I’d like to drink it again. It’s going on the shopping list.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

Mmmmmm….this sounds amazing.


Going on my shopping list too!

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drank I Love Lemon by Bigelow
1183 tasting notes

A rating of 95 you say? I can explain.

When I first started my tea journey, I started with some bags of this and I really loved it. Today I had to take my car into the shop and on the way in I was thinking-should I buy another box and see whether I really like it as much as I did then? Then, as fate would have it, at the dealership I had to sit in the lobby waiting to talk to the service guy and guess what they had among the refreshments? So of course, I made a cup.

And yes, I still really love this.

I know. It’s something you get in the grocery store. It comes in bags. It’s cheap. And I still love it, in the way I love In-N-Out burger for being the best fast food burger in my area. It’s really good at what it does.

First, it’s VERY lemony. Moreso than probably any other tisane I’ve tasted while trying to find something that was a bit more sophisticated. To me, anyway, there is nothing I can find wrong with this lemon. It’s not soapy, it’s not chemical-y. It reminds me of the lemon in the lemonade at Orange Julius (which I happen to like), that very lemony lemon flavor.

Second, it’s the right mix of tart and sweet, and needs no sweetener to my tongue. So many more expensive tisanes have needed a lot of sweetener or have even been bitter. Not here. If it’s coming out too tart, my guess is it’s too dilute. With the right amount of water, it isn’t.

Third, the hibiscus is not scary. It makes the drink a nice, red color but I can’t taste it. If I could, I would not like this.

Fourth, yes, there’s mint, but I’m not really sure what it does other than to add a sort of heightening of the other flavors. A freshness, if you will.

I still heart I Love Lemon. :-)

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

There’s nothing wrong with liking a bagged tea that you can find at the grocery store! That just means you’re being real about tea, and not snooty. :)


I love this one, too! It is my go to for when I am not feeling so well.

carol who

Sounds good. I haven’t used much in the way of grocery store/bagged teas lately but this might be the one I carry with me in my purse to use when I go to a restaurant and they give me the crummy tea. Gee, that wasn’t too much of a run on sentence!


Thank you Fjellrev, I needed that. ;-)

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Sipdown no. 19 of the year 2014 (a tiny one as there’s almost nothing left in my sample)!

Steepster is angry with me this morning, I think. I can’t “like” anything, get my notices, etc. and when I tried posting this before it disappeared. I hope that’s not an omen for the rest of the day.

I put this one on my shopping list. My problem with Harney & Sons is I have a hard time disliking anything they make. I did honestly want to try to whittle things down, try to make some fine distinctions among their black blends, but I think I have to admit that I’m at the point where I just throw up my hands and say you can never have too many Earl Greys and you can never have too many delicious black blends.

And be grateful that tea takes up less space than shoes.



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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