1188 Tasting Notes

drank Wuyi Dark Roast by Samovar
1188 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 32 of 2016 (no. 243 total). A sample, and the last of the Samovar oolong samples. All I have left now of the Samovar samples are a few white teas.

It’s been at least a couple of weeks since I poured this out of the packet and into a filter, intending to steep it. I never got around to it, and though I had meticulously saved the sample packet with its steeping directions, my cleaning ladies seem to have thrown it out.

The one time I tried going gong fu with a Samovar oolong sample it didn’t work so well, so this time I decided to come to the page for this tea and look for directions. Seeing none, I read about how people had steeped it. Given what Lena said about boiling water, I decided to go that route. I also steeped for about 2 minutes, since I was going western and using a higher water to tea ratio.

I was pretty amazed at the result. First of all, that thing they say about coffee in the Samovarian poetry section is pretty right on. There’s a coffee-like aroma that sort of melds into something that is almost like butterscotch. There’s what I call the malty note as well, which so many Samovar teas have and which I love in some yunnans and some red wines as well, but which I didn’t expect in an oolong. The liquor is a rosy amber and very unique.

The flavor is remarkably complex. So many dark oolongs give off a sort of a single note of woodsy stonefruit. Not this one. It has layers that shift around on the tongue so just when you think you’ve tasted one thing, you’re tasting something else. I don’t taste peat moss, but I for sure taste a bittersweet chocolate note, and the roasted barley as well. The sweet note is still butterscotch to me and not raisin sugar, but delish nevertheless.

And they still have it!

I suspect to get the most out of this one you need to prepare as directed. I’d be afraid to do otherwise given my past experience with Samovar oolongs.

Flavors: Butterscotch, Dark Chocolate, Malt, Roasted Barley

Boiling 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

most wuyi’s taste like chocolate to me. :D

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It will be interesting to see what this tastes like, as it has been living in its paper sample bag in a plastic container along with other Simpson & Vails, some of which are florals, in their paper sample bags.

The dry leaves are small and medium in the tippy and curly department. They smell a little perfumey, which scares me some.

The tea steeps dark, darker than I’ve seen in most yunnans. A clear, dark mahogany. The aroma is malty-deep, slightly sweet, with just a hint of pepper. The perfume smell doesn’t carry over into the aroma, fortunately.

The flavor is surprisingly mild given the dark color and smell, but flavorful. Gentle on the stomach. There’s just the smallest amount of perfume carry-over, but not enough to give the tea an altogether different flavor from what it is. It’s not the best yunnan I’ve had, solid, but not overly interesting. It sort of reminds me of the Numi Chinese Breakfast.

I suspect I’ll sip this one down easily and quickly, both because it’s a pleasant drink and because with all the other yunnans in my cupboard that I prefer to this one, I’d rather sip down this one as a distraction from focusing on the others.

Now for the life update. No need to read if you’re in this for the tea. ;-)

Sorry I’ve been rather scarce. I’m still getting a feel for the new routine. I’ve been doing coffee first thing in the morning for the extra alertness jolt with fast preparation time, taking tea with me in the Timolino, typically a green of some sort, and always one I’ve written about before and so far there hasn’t been much to add by way of notes.

There is tea at work, by the way. There’s a full Starbucks in one of the campus buildings, and a variety of bagged Numi teas in the kitchen on my floor. I also brought some tea to work. Essentially all the bags I have left. I haven’t actually steeped any yet though. I’ve been occupied with trying to learn everything there is to learn which makes the time fly and before I know it, the day is gone and I haven’t made any tea at work again.

On the home de-cluttering front: continued success! This morning I packed up five boxes for storage, mostly my old toys I’d saved from childhood for the kids that they’ve outgrown and the toys they have sentimental attachment to but don’t play with anymore. With that, the toy project is pretty much done except for the random things that continue to turn up in weird places. I can pretty much be assured to find at least one Lego in every drawer in the house if I look hard enough. ;-)

So to recap: toys are done, office is done. What’s left? Books and clothes, mostly.

Last weekend we took some books to the library to donate. They don’t put them in the library but they sell them for fundraising. There will probably be another box or two of these coming as I finish going through the kids’ books with them, but there aren’t too many left to go through. Then there will be are a few boxes of books to store—baby favorites that they don’t want to let go but don’t look at much anymore.

The book project was pretty amusing. Who knew we had five copies of Goodnight Moon, until we looked through everything?

I’m hoping to finish some of this packing up this weekend, but I’m not going to stress about it. As long as I continue to see progress, I think I can keep motivated to finish.

The one thing that has suffered in all of this is my writing. I have several stories I’ve workshopped and need to revise, and some stories that have been sent back from magazines that need to be resubmitted. Maybe I’ll be able to make an hour or two tomorrow to work on my Writers of the Future entry for this quarter. According to my readers it only needs some minor revision, so if I can get it revised, I can set it aside until next weekend, do a reread, and submit if I can’t think of anything else to do to it.

Flavors: Floral, Malt, Molasses, Pepper

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

Might have to give this a try! Also, you’ve inspired me to grab a couple bags of my Numi Chinese Breakfast when I get home later! :)

Jim Marks

I find yunnan black teas an interesting “back door” into pu-erh


That is interesting, Jim. Can you say more about that?

Jim Marks

It’s a terroir thing. Since the tea is all grown in very similar areas and conditions, you can, so to speak, as in a scientific study, “isolate” those variables and put teas side by side and start to get a sense of how different types of processing affect tea taste independent of different leaf. I have a recent tasting note… somewhere in here… where I talk about the leaf I’m drinking tasting like “proto-sheng”. Many of the notes of sheng are there, without the aging having begun to impact them, yet.


Fascinating. Thanks, Jim!

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Sipdown no. 31 of 2016 (no. 242 total). The rest of the sample.

I steeped the last of this to accompany me as I schlepp kids this morning. I find jasmine pearls incredibly calming so good for running around, or meeting new challenges.

Such as just finishing the second week at work. Time is flying by. Lots to learn, lots to do, and I’m still having a blast. I hope the honeymoon phase lasts forever, but that’s probably not realistic. At least I know myself well enough to know that I start to get disenchanted with work the minute I feel as though it is keeping me from the other things in my life that are important to me. Keeping that in mind, I plan to give myself me-time doses whenever I start to feel that way and see if I can keep the good times rolling.

But this tea. Oh but it’s sad when a jasmine pearls dies, but knowing how much I love them, there are sure to be others. This was a good solid one. Not the best, but by far not the worst I’ve had. The original note captures my feelings on this one pretty well.

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Sipdown no. 30 of 2016 (no. 241 total). Backlog from a couple of days ago.

Thank you, jasmine pearls, for many pleasant tea-drinking experiences while you lasted. In particular, thanks for being there during week 1 of work at my new job, in which I was thrown into an emergency transaction on day 1 and by day 5, the deal had been inked. I’m told this isn’t typical of first weeks or the new place in general, but honestly, I had a blast and couldn’t be happier.

It’s a sad thing in my world when jasmine pearls of any kind are sipped down, but it’s comforting to know that there will be others.

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Sipdown no. 29 of 2016 (no. 240 total). The rest of the sample.

I have been noteless for the last 24 hours because I haven’t had much tea. I’ve been caffeineating with coffee the last few mornings to fuel the energy level needed to keep up with the new job. I did take some tea with me in the Timolino all three days, but it’s a jasmine pearls I’ve written about a few times already so I didn’t take notes.

But here I am, home, tired, and the BF and kids are out to dinner, so I made a big pot of this. It’s more vanilla flavored than last time but definitely raspberry. Last time I said I thought the raspberry flavor was too light, almost watery. Not so this time.

Bumping the rating.

Flavors: Raspberry, Vanilla


ick coffee!! Glad you had some tea! Raspberry can be a great flavour.

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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
1188 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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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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