1183 Tasting Notes

drank Chai by Harney & Sons
1183 tasting notes

Since becoming a chai fan I’ve been adding samples of anything that looks remotely like chai into my orders, which has been fun. But I think I’m starting to get tired of dating chais and ready to settle down. Not with one, of course. With a small harem’s worth.

I bought this sample with my last H&S order. In the sample packet, it has rather mild spicy scent. I can detect something that seems slightly like anise under the cardamom. Unlike many chai blends, I can smell a strong tea fragrance here. The Assam has an earthy scent, like soil, with an interesting chocolate note to it.

I prepared this on the stovetop, using TeaFrog Assam as extra black tea.

It makes a creamy, chewy, tasty, and very mildly spiced chai. Very, very mildly spiced. It’s on a par on the mildness scale with the most mild I’ve tasted so far, the TeaFrog.

What makes it somewhat different is that it seems to have a stronger tea flavor than a good many other chai blends I’ve tasted. Particularly in the aftertaste. This might be because of the CTC leaves. Since I haven’t tried this without milk and sweetener, it could be that the tea itself is much stronger with long brewing because of how it was prepared, and that this, accordingly, comes out as tea flavor under the milk and sweetener. Whatever the reason, it’s a nice change.

Still, I like even my mild chais a bit more strongly spiced than this. While I liked it, I don’t think it’s going to be selected for the harem in the long term.

Boiling 8 min or more

Your tea harem made me LOL!


I’ve been really enjoying the 500 Mile Chai from Tao of Tea. Might be worth giving it a try!


Thanks, Sophistre, I will put it on the list!


Oh yes, “tea harem” is fantastic!

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I received this as a sample with the “Blue Knight Special.” It’s my first green Earl Grey.

In the sample packet, there’s a definite bergamot smell, and some lavender, and something that seems almost like vanilla. The tea may be there, but I can’t smell it for the other fragrances.

It brews to a clear light yellow. The aroma of the tea is mainly a green, vegetal sencha. Not particularly on the buttery side, with a sharp note that reminds me of bok choy. There’s the tiniest bit of lavender detectable, but I can’t smell bergamot?

Taste. Hmm. This isn’t what I’d call a flavorful tea. There is some slight vegetal flavor, a cool character that seems attributable to the lavender, and a very hard to find citrus note. It isn’t bitter, but it’s the first green tea that has given me a grab at the back of the throat. Which makes me wonder how green the Assam component really is.

I have some of the sample left, so I can play with it some and see if I can improve it, but after this first tasting it’s not selling me.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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drank Vanilla Comoro by Harney & Sons
1183 tasting notes

I have been looking forward to trying this sample given the love that this tea has on Steepster, and what with a good decaf being hard to find and all. I had had such a bad experience with the only other decaf vanilla black tea I’ve had, the Numi, that I was a little afraid despite my eagerness.

The leaves in the sample packet are lighter colored than I would have expected, and initially they give off a very very intense, creamy, vanilla smell. Once you get under the cream, though, the vanilla is pretty rich, with a hint of beany-ness. The 6 year old was persuaded to give them a sniff and went “MMMMM-MM!”

The tea doesn’t have a very strong aroma. I don’t get a lot of vanilla after steeping. Perhaps this is because I didn’t hear the Breville beep, so the tea had started to cool a bit by the time I got to it. There is a sort of disappointing wet blotter paper, or maybe cardboard, smell to the tea, which is generally what I smell and taste in most decafs.

But fortunately I’m not getting much of that in the taste at all. This is a smooth, mild vanilla tea, with no false steps. The vanilla is integrated nicely into the tea, and provides a sweet, creamy, flavor.

I can’t say that this would be a stand out for me compared to some of the really wonderful non-decaf vanilla black teas I have had. There’s still less to it, like it has been de-somethinged, but by comparison to other decafs it is so much more somethinged.

I’m rating this compared to other decafs, not to other teas generally. On a decaf scale, it’s definitely up there with the Harney Midsummer Peach. I’m going to say it’s slightly better just because it is such a success as a decaf black vanilla compared to the Numi.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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After going on at some length about how I wouldn’t have picked a grapefruit tea when I wrote my note about the Teas Etc. sample, I now find that I was moved to buy an entire can of this by the 50% off sale and had forgotten I’d been so adventurous. What a drag it is getting old. Seriously, if I didn’t know better, I’d think I was coming down with pre-senile dementia. As it is, I think I’m just fast forwarding to senile dementia.

There’s a confetti-like look to this tea, with the long, pretty, paper like calendula petals mixing in with the long black leaves. It doesn’t smell that much like grapefruit, though there is a fruity smell to the dry leaves, and a mild, flowery, almost vanilla smell from the petals.

The tea’s aroma does speak grapefruit, in a gentle way. There’s a sweet, somewhat malty smell to the tea that isn’t Darjeelingy at all. It’s a rounder smell, not the sharp smell I associate with Darjeeling. The tea does taste like Darjeeling, though. It has a bright, sparkly flavor with a slight essence of grapefruit to it. It has a soft feel to it, which seems a little unusual.

I’m thinking this one might do a little better steeped a little longer. It’s a nice tea, but if I were going to do a repeat on a grapefruit, I would lean toward the Teas Etc. If I decide to buy a grapefruit tea, I’m going to want to taste the grapefruit more than I do in the LeafSpa.

Must experiment some to see if I can get the flavor to come out more.

BTW, belated happy father’s day to all the dads out there. Our fathers day brunch took about 2 and a half hours, longer than we’d planned, and I was pretty wiped out yesterday. Too tired even to drink much tea, hence no tasting notes yesterday.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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drank Wild Orange Blossom by Teavana
1183 tasting notes

Finishing up the last of this and decupboarding. My initial assessment still holds. Enjoyable, if you’re in the market for an orange fruit blend, which I’m really not. At least not at the moment.

The boyfriend, who is big on fruit tisanes liked it quite a bit, though he remarked that he’d like it better if it was peach rather than orange. I feel sort of the same way, only my flavor request would be lemon.


Would you say this was on the tart or sweet side? Just curious…I’m on the lookout for fruit teas for the husband.


On the sweet side. I generally prefer sweeter fruit blends, which is why I liked this one. However, with all of the Teavana fruit blends I’ve tried so far, and those of most other companies as well, I find that you really have to use a lot more of the blend than you’d think to get a nice strong, sweet flavor out of it. At least double what you’d expect, and 2.5 to 3 times as much is even better. (I think it has to do with how large the pieces of the fruit are. They’re so big that the spoonfuls are less dense and therefore less surface area gets exposed to the water.) Putting in less makes the flavor tarter as well as weaker, usually.


Thanks! I may have to look into getting a sample of this for him to try. I was desperately trying to get him into tea (mainly so he would help me drink it and then I could order more) when my mom gave us some of Teavana’s Plum Harvest which he fell in love with. Unfortunately, it has been discontinued. The good thing is he is encouraging me to place an order soon so that I can get him a few new fruity herbals to try (anything for tea, right?)

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Yeah, I know I just wrote about something called “Green White.” It’s purely coincidence. I’m really not going for a color duo theme here.

It is as pretty as it’s picture, but of course, it has cornflowers. Big fan of cornflowers here. It smells mostly of chamomile in the sample packet, with a lavender background. The chamomile has a sweetness to its fragrance. I don’t always find that sweetness in chamomile, but I’m always glad when I do. It usually signals that the chamomile will have a fresher taste, rather than tending toward a bitter or pungent, or that sort of stale, dried paper/hay-flavored-with-chamomile thing.

It makes a light yellow, clear liquor. I was wondering whether the lavender would affect the color. Apparently chamomile trumps lavender. There’s no purple water here, or even grey water. Or what you might think would be the obvious result of a purple/yellow combo, something tending toward greenish. The aroma is a really nice mix, about 50-50 chamomile/lavender.

That pretty much describes the taste as well, and the effect is really interesting. At first I get primarily chamomile. Then that tapers off and I get lavender at the finish. The lavender’s volatile oils seem to contribute a freshness that keeps the chamomile from tasting weedy. Now, the note from H&S says that cornflowers are sweet and spicy. I have never noticed a flavor from them, I have mostly figured they are there to look pretty in the teas and tisanes I’ve tasted. And I’m not sure I can identify a flavor contributed by them now. Pretty much what I taste is chamomile and lavender, with the chamomile toning the lavender down and making it something more appealing than I experienced with the French Super-Blue, and the lavender, as mentioned, freshening and boosting the flavor of the chamomile out of tasting, as it sometimes can, like what I’d imagine a mouthful of decorative dried flowers to taste like.

If I buy a chamomile herbal, this would be a strong contender. I like chamomile, but it’s a very sometime thing with me. I really have to be in the mood for it, and that mood strikes only infrequently. I don’t expect to rush this into my next order, but it’s worth a bookmark should I have a chamomile urge.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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drank Green White by Ito En
1183 tasting notes

We tried a new salad spot today. New to us, anyway, not sure how long it has been around. It’s a sort of trendy, shi shi place with (supposedly) healthy food, in any case clearly attempting to appeal to the upscale but natural foodsy university crowd.

The kids were past their melting point and so I didn’t have a chance to peruse the many, various RTD tea offerings in any detail as I was attempting to keep them from either killing each other or running aimlessly up and down the length of the restaurant. I basically grabbed this off the shelf because in an uncharacteristic fit of short term memory absolute recall, I remembered that I had had the one right next to it before, the Pure Green, and liked it. I also noticed a selection of Mighty Leaf tins at the ordering counter, but as I was attempting to keep the 4 year old from walking backwards into a klatch of coeds who were craning their collective necks toward the menu (which was hanging what seemed like about 30 feet over the counter) and didn’t see him at all, I was unable to ascertain what Mighty Leaf teas were on offer.

In any case, this tea was very nice and I wish I had had a quieter experience with it. As it is, I sort of had to chug it to keep up with what was going on at the table. I did notice, however, that the white tea flavor was quite prominent. Though this can likely be explained by the fact that I was tasting for it, I found it quite easily. It had gave the tea a nutty flavor, particularly in the aftertaste. I am not sure that the green tea added a lot, not sure I really tasted it much. Though I often find that if I’m not tasting something it’s accomplishing something else, like making the taste of some other ingredient stronger, milder, etc.

I think I may prefer the True Green, but it may also be that the True Green paired particularly well with the salad I had at Whole Foods when I tried it. This Green White seems more like the sort of thing one would do better to drink on its own, at least for an initial tasting. Today I had a salad called “Howdy” which had marinated tri-tip and sharp white cheddar in it among other things. Some fairly strong flavors, which may not have been the best pairing with the Green White.

Iced 0 min, 15 sec

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drank Cafe Latte by The NecessiTeas
1183 tasting notes

I placed an order with The Necessiteas for the Bread Pudding, Coco La Ven (they were out of that one) and Strawberry Kiwi, and there were two samples I had yet to try, this one and a flavored oolong, so I had them toss them in. I’d actually tried to order this one before and they were out of it.

I’m reminded of Doulton’s post about what she described as her dysfunctional relationship with The Necessiteas. I have to say, it’s not her, it’s them. I have fallen into the same dysfunctional pattern. Place an order, don’t hear for a few weeks. Write a note, hear back in a few days that the package has shipped. Usually, by that time, at least one thing I’d ordered is no longer in stock and I get a refund to my paypal account. Seriously, I’m not sure it’s worth it. There are only a few things of theirs I like well enough to reorder in any case and if I didn’t have a compulsive streak I’d probably let it drop. As it is once I decide I like something enough to reorder it, I follow the web site for a restocking notice so that I can check that off the list.

This one is not going to be on that list. It’s not bad, really. The smell out of the sample packet is strongly of coffee beans. After steeping, the smell opens up some and I can get barley and chicory notes. The taste is pretty much a weak coffee flavor with a tea aftertaste. With milk, it’s more strongly of coffee than tea, so unless you’re just out of coffee and looking for a fill-in, it’s probably better to drink it unadulterated.

For my own taste, I’d just as soon drink a really nice cup of coffee instead. Or a really nice cup of tea. The weak hybrid thing is mildly interesting but now that my curiosity is satisfied I don’t see the need to do the dysfunctional dance to get more of this.

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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Started the morning with this one but didn’t get a chance to write about it. Had a nap, so I need to wake up and I’m having another cup now.

I have to say this house maintenance thing is more stressful than I’d hoped. Today we went to a lighting store because I want to replace the exterior lights and now I’m more confused than ever. This one looks good but you can’t put a motion sensor on it. That one looks good but you can’t put a dawn to dusk timer on it. This one looks awful but you can do anything you want to it. And are these even going to look good on the house? I mean, it’s a little hard to visualize while you’re there in the store and have to first visualize a larger version of what you’re looking at before you even get to visualizing what it looks like on the house. Ugh. And then I’m even wondering if I should pick these before the house gets painted. The painter said I should, but I’m not so sure. Double ugh.

Anyway. There’s an earthy black tea smell coming out of the can, very similar to that dry leaf earthy Assam smell I like. It’s sharper and less malty than the English Breakfast by LeafSpa I had yesterday, and the leaves are smaller and less tippy.

The liquor has a burnt orange/brown color with a small amount of red in it too. It’s that color I want in a sweater that I’ve seen in several other teas, notably GM’s Sinharaja.

The aroma is fruity and a little sweet. I get prunes more than plums, and something that is oddly like cola. (I’m not tasting the cola, though.) It has a crispness, a briskness to it, that is a refreshing quality for a wake up tea.

I think I prefer the English Breakfast, but I’m going to give this one a chance to grow on me.

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

Sorry about all the stress! Thank goodness for yummy tea :)

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I feel the need for some smoky tea.

It’s weird, it’s kind of like wanting a cigarette, though I can’t imagine that now after having quit about 14 years ago. I wonder if there’s nicotine in lapsang souchong. ;-) Golly, I hope not. It’s scary, because breathing in the smell of the dry leaves in the sample packet is rather like taking a long drag. It’s calming. They’re very smoky. A little salted meat smelling as well. I feel like I could tap my cheek and watch a chain of tiny O’s float skyward after inhaling this.

After steeping, the aroma is significantly calmer. Much less like smoked meat, or even smoked wood. There’s a piney, woody smell that is mellower than pure smoke. The color of the liquor is somewhat lighter than I expected. A light to medium amber.

The tea is gently smoky, not intense or tarry. It’s been a while since I had the GM lapsang, but this is similar in feel and character to the way I recall the GM lapsang being. It’s pleasantly sweet at the finish and in the aftertaste as well. There are woody, piney tastes and something bread like at the end of the sip.

Maybe it’s just the mood I’m in today, maybe it’s just been a long time since I had lapsang and was craving it, but I’m loving this right now. It’s really hitting the spot.

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

Nah I just think it’s the similar flavor. I can see where this tea could be a stumbling block for ex smokers lol.


Congrats on being an ex-smoker for such a long time! ::high five::

As an ex-smoker myself, the only way I was able to quit (almost a year now) was using the scary Chantix. I had a great Dr. who had perscribes it regularly and of all the scary side effects listed she said that the only consistent and common was nausea. I can confirm that. I couldn’t even finish the starter pill set. And you know how they say that you can smoke the first week of being on it? I made it 4 days before I wanted to throw up (nearly did on my final one). The thought of cigarettes turns my stomach still to this day.

All that’s to say that I have absolutely no problem with smoky teas. :)


Campfire is very different from cigarettes. I LOVE the smell of campfire (not so much the taste in tea though), but puke at the smell of cigarettes.

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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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