1183 Tasting Notes


Sipdown no. 28 of 2016 (no. 239 total). The rest of the sample.

The BF was disappointed in the small amount of Pear Helene in the pot, so I made four cups worth of this, which was what was left in the sample pouch.

Not the best of the Todd & Holland tisanes, but a nice orange. I agree with my initial assessment that it isn’t fakey fakey in flavor or a weird orange like baby aspirin.

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Sipdown no. 27 of 2016 (no. 238 total). The rest of the sample.

Started the new job today! I didn’t have much tea today because I haven’t brought any into the office yet, but it’s on the agenda.

This is my after dinner drink tonight. I didn’t mention in my previous note that I have never had Pear Helene (the dessert) to my knowledge, so I can’t say whether this is true to its name.

I can, however, say that I quite like it.

Christina / BooksandTea

Congrats on the new job!


Yay! Hope everything goes most excellently. :)


Good luck in the new job!


Thanks so much, all! It feels a bit like drinking from a firehose at the moment but I’m sure it will feel less like that eventually.


Haha. Awesome description. That is exactly what a new job feels like! :D

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I haven’t had that many pear teas or tisanes, but this seems to me a very true pear flavor. The blend has some things in it that look like chocolate chards. It is pretty much all chocolate and pear all the time, from the smell of the dry tisane, to the smell of the steeped tisane to the taste.

If I make a Todd & Holland order, this will definitely be a part of it.

Flavors: Chocolate, Pear

Boiling 7 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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drank Lemon Drop Cooler by 52teas
1183 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 26 of 2016 (no. 237 total).

It’s getting harder to find herbals in my stash, which is both good and bad. This was a great lemon, so I’m sorry to see it go. But as I’ve had it for quite a while, it was time to say goodbye. I don’t have a lot to add to my original note about the actual tisane, just a little memento of the experience of saying goodbye to it.

I made a big pot for the entire family. It’s been raining all day, pretty much, and though we really can’t complain here given what’s happening on the East Coast, it’s still a sort of dreary winter day. After pretty much finishing the family room clean up project, in which we rediscovered we had a fire place (that had been blocked by bins of toys for way too long), and the kids rediscovering that they had sketch pads and pencils, they’re now sitting in front of a fire drawing.

This is how I had always imagined and hoped being a mother would be, and had sort of figured was a pipe dream once they discovered television and video games. I’m all gooey inside.

A nice memory to send this tisane out with.



Aww, sounds like it was a lovely day for your family!


That sounds lovely!

Evol Ving Ness

I love this reclaim your home project of yours. Sounds like it is going really well. Yay you!


It’s been great! There is still more to do, but great progress has been made. I’m hoping I can keep the momentum up and finish up over the next few weekends.

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I made this into a cold brew sort of accidentally. I didn’t remember what the tea was like when I decided to use it, and later read my original note which mentioned smokiness. I was worried that wouldn’t translate well into a cold tea but it did.

It’s actually pretty nice. The smoke is present but not very strong and just gives some additional interest to a tasty cold tea. I noticed that I detected some sharp notes in the hot version. I don’t get the same thing in the cold. It’s a smooth iced tea.

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Sometimes I feel like I’m having to try to read my own mind, which sounds easy but is surprisingly complicated. Particularly when the mind reading has to occur retroactively.

In sorting the stash I came across several non-blended, non-flavored Kusmi teas. This is one of them. I can’t remember what I was thinking when I ordered them. Kusmi’s plain teas haven’t been much discussed on Steepster, so I can only surmise that I was curious about them and decided to order a few.

This is a pretty typical darjeeling, with winey notes in the dry leaves and steeped tea aroma and flavor. What I like about this one is that the notes aren’t overly sharp. The tea is smooth and easy to drink. It’s slightly astringent.

There’s also another note, less typical of the darjeelings I’ve experienced. Something that is reminiscent of cocoa. A deeper, rounder, sweeter aroma and flavor than some of the very Muscatel-y ones.

I’ve had at least one other Makaibari tea, a second flush from Todd & Holland. Steepster says that this Kusmi one is a first flush, but I can’t find the Makaibari on the Kusmi US site anymore so I can’t get more information.

I don’t know whether the difference in flavor is because of the first flush vs. second flush thing or something else, but I like this one better.

Flavors: Astringent, Cocoa, Muscatel, Smooth, White Wine

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML
Daylon R Thomas

Muscatel Darjeelings are my some of my favorites…


Yeah, its a very characteristic smell/taste. I have to admit though that I’ve never actually had Muscatel. I sort of think of it as a low quality wine because of its reputation.

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drank Golden Monkey by Teas Etc
1183 tasting notes

Earlier this week, I wrote a rather quick note about this one and said I’d come back to it when I had more time. In particular I had a really hard time figuring out what I was smelling in the aroma of the steeped tea.

I now know what I’m smelling. You won’t believe it.

Spaghetti! With marinara sauce!

I checked in with no. 1 who was sitting next to me at breakfast and he agreed. I was worried I might be going crazy, but he smelled it, too.

There’s a sharp fruity note like cooked tomato, and a bready pasta note underneath that.

Wouldn’t you know, spaghetti, pasta, tomato, marinara-none are available as flavor options. I can’t say it’s surprising, just a little frustrating.

To add to my previous note, the tea is a sort of light maple color after steeping. Now that I have spaghetti with marina in my head, I’m tasting that more than the hot praline of the other day, but it’s remarkably tasty.

This may be one of those teas that changes in flavor from cup to cup, which is always fun.


I’ve gotten stewed tomatoes from a couple black teas in the past! It’s so bizarre but kind of cool.


Really unexpected!

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Sipdown no. 25 of 2016 (no. 236 total). The rest of the sample. And thus endeth the foray into the Sanctuary T samples.

There is a difference with less leaf. I prepared the tea in the gaiwan the same as last time, but this time there’s not as much underlying tea flavor. It’s really all about the jasmine.

Since I like jasmine, that’s not really a problem. Well, it is and it isn’t. I think I’m discovering that I liked green jasmine the best of all jasmines, and oolong may be next in line. White jasmines are good for the jasmine aspect, but I still have a love/hate thing going on with white tea in general. Mostly I don’t feel that I understand it very well.

I’d definitely go the more leaf route next time I have a jasmine silver needle. More oomph, to the extent that white teas have oomph, or at least more of a blended flavor of jasmine and something else.

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drank Golden Monkey by Teas Etc
1183 tasting notes

Running out to an appointment so I don’t have time to do a proper note on this, but wanted to record something this morning and the Art of Tea Earl Grey Creme I drank before this already has a couple of notes from me.

I always enjoy seeing golden leaved teas and this one is incredibly golden. Not much darkness interfering with the sea of gold that is the dry leaf. It’s fragrant, too. What it smells like is elusive and something I have to wrap my mind around more so I’ll leave that for a later note.

The steeped tea has a honey aroma and something confectionery like hot praline. I don’t really get caramel in the flavor, though I can see where that comes from. To me it’s more a hot praline sweetness. A cookie dough note of sorts. Sweet with a bit of flour in the background.

It’s definitely yummy. I have to drink this again more mindfully, but for now it will be doing its magic in small sips from the Timolino while I drive to my appointment.

Sorry to see this has been discontinued. Note to self: read the notes on its replacement.

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

Nice description!

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drank Qimen Mao Feng by Andao
1183 tasting notes

Another Andao tea that I never opened before. I take it that Qimen is an alternative spelling for Keemun?

In the packet, the dry leaves are dark, curly and fine and smell like dark chocolate! Really rich dark chocolate.

The steeped tea doesn’t smell like chocolate, so much as baking bread with smoky pepper around the edges and a dark, sweet note, like molasses. Its a tawny red color, and quite gorgeous.

The tea is deep, full bodied, and malty, and it has a stout aspect to it, like a dark beer. It’s almost chewy in texture. As it cools, some chocolate comes out in the aroma and a-dare I say- coffee note, almost. Like a mocha note, which is fascinating. I think this is the first tea I’ve had that wasn’t flavored that reminded me of coffee, but without really tasting like coffee.

Quite an interesting tea with a lot of character. If this tea was a person, I’d want to invite it to dinner. It isn’t overly smoky for a Keemun, which is part of its charm. I must do some sleuthing to see whether I can determine if anyone else is selling it since Andao as a company is no more.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Mocha, Molasses, Pepper, Smoke

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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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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