1280 Tasting Notes

drank Green Anji by Adagio Teas
1280 tasting notes

Tea note #400. Happy 4th of July!

Another in the Green Savant sampler.

In the sample tin it has a very green, grassy fragrance, which swings between fresh and dusky. Interesting. It has twisty, twiggy, bird nesty leaves that are darker than the Dragon Well leaves (which I sampled earlier today).

It’s a fairly solid yellow liquor, more intense in color than the Dragon Well. And its aroma is solidly vegetal, too, though not overly strong.

In taste, it’s an ok, but not very remarkable vegetal green tea. Tastier than most bagged greens, but not the rich, multilayered, depth of character laden taste of some greens I’ve had. It does seem to have a deeper flavor than the Adagio Dragon Well, but unlike the Dragon Well, it has a hint of bitterness at the tail. It’s the sort of thing I’ll keep drinking to see if it grows on me but doesn’t hit it out of the park on the first tasting.

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

Happy 400!!!!


(you know that all the fireworks were in honor of your 400th, right?) ;)


Wow, 400!! You are definitely in the realms of connoisseurship now! :)


Aww, thanks! Stephanie, not sure about connoisseurship, but I have to say I think that my inveterate tea drinking is responsible for my last essentially perfect (scarily healthy, I hope I’m not jinxing myself by saying this) routine blood test. My doctor was like, “wow, nothing to say about this, but really excellent labs. Your sugar and cholesterol are terrific.” At my age, that is like being told you just got nominated for prom queen, particularly when I’ve had a few blips that worried me in the past. I think I actually went “squee”!

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drank Lung Ching by Harney & Sons
1280 tasting notes

Walnuts! In the aftertaste, long after the tea is gone. Yes, I do taste them; it’s that slight nutlike bitterness they have. Ta dah!

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drank Lung Ching by Harney & Sons
1280 tasting notes

My third Dragon Well of the day. This is part of the Harney & Sons green tea sampler, a set of four teas in cute little black tins.

I’m concluding that though I love the name, Dragon Well probably isn’t my thing. At least I don’t think I appreciate it the way it should be appreciated. It seems rather bland to me. This is probably the tastiest of the three versions I’ve tried, and seems to have a bit more depth to it, but it is still very, very mild. I’m interested enough in this version to spend some more time with it, though, and see if I can develop an appreciation for it.

It has a pale yellow liquor with the tiniest suggestion of green and the aroma is sweet, dewy and has a hint of milkiness. There’s a vegetal quality to the aroma, but the taste isn’t deeply vegetal like many other green teas. Nor is it grassy.

I suppose that’s its distinguishing characteristic, that it’s just not like other green teas. Instead of tasting like the run off from steamed broccoli, or like the air smells after you’ve just mowed the lawn, it seems more like the aftertaste of yellow squash sauteed in a little bit of butter. The vegetal quality in this one suggests to me more of the sweet interior of the vegetable than the slightly bitter outer leaves. I still don’t really taste nuttiness so much as a lighter quality. I keep coming back to the aftertaste of pumpkin seeds.

As I write this I’m talking myself into liking this more than I thought I did. Maybe it’s time for a nap. ;-)

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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drank Dragonwell by Adagio Teas
1280 tasting notes

I have to add myself to the list of this tea’s detractors. This is part of the Green Savant sampler.

It was my second Dragon Well, and very similar to the TeaFrog only with less sweetness, and more vegetalness, though this didn’t result in a tastier tea.

It has a similar buttery/milky and vegetal aroma and a light yellow/green liquor.

When I first heard about Dragon Well I thought it sounded like something I’d like quite a bit. After two tries, I’m not so sure. I do have some samples from other companies to try so I’m not ready to give up quite yet.

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

Sad day! I’m sorry you don’t love this one as much as I do. I even steep it to death (12-22 infusions). It’s really cool that everyone likes something different when it comes to tea… til you find one you don’t like.


Mostly I just think I’m not really into Dragon Well. Of the three I tasted today, this seemed to have the least amount of flavor but it could also be that my taster is a little off today. I’m feeling kind of blah. I am also open to the idea that this will grow on me, or if not this particular one some Dragon Well somewhere.


Tastes definitely change (which of course you’ll probably be disappointed at some point when something you now love you don’t anymore).

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Hey, look what I found! I thought I’d tried all my TeaFrog samples, but this was buried in the “green tea” box. I really do think this is the last one, though.

As with my other TeaFrog samples, I can’t get aroma other than the fruit of another blend that was packed with this bag, but the leaves are pretty; medium green, fairly long, flat and shiny.

The first time I tried this, I fear I did not use enough tea and may not have steeped long enough. I steeped for 1:30, which is what I usually do with greens unless they ask to be steeped for a shorter time. The flavor was pleasant but not very strong.

More leaf and longer does seem to be an improvement, though I’m still finding this a subtle one. I get a light yellow liquor, and an aroma that is buttery, almost milky, a little salty, with a vegetal echo.

The flavor isn’t particularly buttery or vegetal, though. I’m not really sure how to describe it, other than to say it is “green” tasting, which isn’t very helpful. There’s a slight toastiness, but it’s very slight. There’s an interesting dryness on the tongue after drinking that’s almost like the feel of the grab you get from putting certain dried, chip-like treats on your tongue and letting them sit there. After they get moist, they start to feel like they’re grabbing onto your tongue. That’s the feeling I’m getting here. I’m not getting nuttiness, at least not strongly. Maybe more like the aftertaste of pumpkin or sunflower seeds.

Even on the second try with more leaf and more time, I’m not finding this to have much depth in terms of flavor. I have had greens that were more flavorful. Perhaps I’m not a Dragon Well fan, but since this is really my first, I can’t conclude that just yet.

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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drank Golden Spring by Adagio Teas
1280 tasting notes

After my disappointing Mariage Freres English Breakfast experience, I’m going to do one more black tea before trying to reestablish my interest in greens.

As I’ve committed to tasting my Adagio samplers without further ado, this is from the Adagio Black Savant sampler. (Which makes me feel like I should start rapidly adding numbers out loud or reciting the World Atlas or something. Surely they could have picked a better name?)

This is a very visually attractive tea, and in the sample tin its fragrance has a sort of fruity, or perhaps tobaccoey sweetness. There’s a breadiness, too. It’s a sort of toast with jam signal. And something along the chocolate vanilla continuum perhaps. In any case, it seems like there’s a fair amount going on here.

The same is true of the tea’s aroma. Sweet. Sort of reminds me of what I like about Yunnans. And yet, it’s not entirely sweet. The liquor is lighter than I’d expected but now that I think about it, with about half the leaves being a golden color it wasn’t really reasonable to expect a very dark liquor. It’s darker than darjeeling, say, but lighter than most black tea liquors.

Tasty! For some reason after reading the description, I’d expect this to be somewhat heavy. It’s not. It’s substantial without being weighty. And very, very smooth. Easy on the stomach, too (mine is a little annoyed with me after the Blue Knight Earl Grey and the Mariage Freres English Breakfast, but this is helping to make amends).

I get the “meaty” description, but I find the aftertaste mildly sweet, not really savory.

I’m glad I have more in the sample tin so I can taste this over time but on first impression this is a keeper!

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

Wooo! I’m so glad somebody else is drinking this. I’ve been baffled for a long time about how this one seems to have slipped under everybody’s radar…it’s one of my favorites. I could live without buying any other Adagio tea for the rest of my life, probably, but this one is a must-have.


Hmmm…. I am now curious about this one….


I am backtracking to my Adagio samples which sort of got lost in the shuffle of all the teas I have been ordering, and I was pleasantly surprised by this one. So far it is the front runner of my Adagio experience along with the peppermint tisane which I like much better than the Upton.

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And now for something completely different. I’m about to find out how a venerable French tea house does English Breakfast. On the fourth of July, no less.

I can’t find anything to indicate what’s in this, but whatever it is, it looks like CTC. Like coarse coffee grounds. It has a kind of sweet, baked fragrance. Like pastry.

If I were to guess, I’d say Assam and Keemun. Keemun because in the aroma there’s a suggestion (a mere suggestion, really) of smoke. Assam because… well, it’s English Breakfast. And there’s a suggestion (a mere suggestion, really) of malty sweetness.

I made a mistake in tasting this after Earl Grey without much time between the two. At first I really couldn’t get much flavor at all. Now I’m getting some flavor, but the tea is verging on lukewarm. Must try again. Steeping 3:30 this time too, just in case that was part of the problem. BRB.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t find this very flavorful at all. Could it be a bad batch? It can’t be stale, I just opened the vacuum sealed tin which was well within its sell by date. Seriously, I’m reaching for something to describe this as. Even the mere suggestions of smoke and malt in the aroma aren’t coming through in the flavor for me. How terribly disappointing, as I generally quite like Mariage Freres.

Let me try a little milk, see if that changes things.

No. :-( It’s not undrinkable, it just doesn’t taste like much, unfortunately.


Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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Done and decupboarded, and free to frolic with Earls I like better. I did have an interesting experience where I accidentally brewed this in the Breville one morning before I was awake enough to realize I had some Luscious Lemon by Simpson and Vail still in the pot and further too unawake to remember to rinse out the pot first. This resulted in a very very lemony version of the Blue Knight, which was actually not bad. But I wouldn’t recommend trying it at home as it would require buying two products, neither of which blew me away and both of which I have been on something of a campaign to drink up.

I am really looking forward to reusing the little tin this came in, though. It’s tall and tubular and kinda cute. Currently soaking to remove labels and hopefully a good bit of the Earl Grey perfume, too. It made me think of how my Dad, who was a stamp collector, used to soak stamps off of envelopes. Sweet little memory, that.

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drank Silver Needle by Adagio Teas
1280 tasting notes

A while back I bought a number of Adagio sampler sets and never got around to tasting most of them. I’d been reading a number of tasting notes on Adagio and it seemed like most folks on Steepster viewed them as a starter or gateway loose leaf, and I started with specialty tea bags and sort of vaulted over them to Upton samplers and beyond. Then every now and then there’ll be a note about someone really liking an Adagio tea. So I’m thinking, I probably owe it to myself to taste them. I may have unfairly categorized them in my mind. And it would be shameful to be unfair to tea, don’t you think?

So I’m going to make an effort to start tasting my Adagio samplers now, and so you’re likely to see a lot of Adagio notes coming up. I’m sure I’ll get distracted by other bright shiny teas along the way, however.

Since I just tasted the Harney & Sons Silver Needle, I thought the Adagio namesake would be a good place to start. Besides, it’s after 10 p.m. and I can’t exactly start with the black teas now.

I’m steeping according to the Adagio suggestion of 180 and 7 minutes in the Breville. This is very different from the H&S suggested time of 3 minutes, though the temp is close (they suggested 175 for theirs).

The needles look and smell similar to the Harney’s, however they seem to smell a bit stronger. This may simply be a matter of sample density, however, as I’m putting my nose into one of those little sample tins the color of elementary school walls. I get slightly more earth than air and water in this one, but all three alchemical elements are represented. There’s a bit of hay to the smell.

I’m relieved to see that the color of the steeped tea is very similar to what I got with the H&S even with a more precisely measured amount of tea. Very nearly clear, water-like. I don’t get a great deal of aroma from the tea. What I do get smells like a very dilute version of what the dry needles smell like.

Ok. I’m waiting, tea. Where is your flavor? The H&S seems to me to have a lot more flavor even with less tea steeped for less time. Am I crazy? Have my taste buds done gone kablooey after an epic run of tea tasting? (Trying to get to that 400th note, you know.)

Seriously, something is not computing here. I’m getting virtually nothing. Not artichoke, even, which I would not have minded as I love artichokes. The most I’m getting is a vague, dewy sweetness and a little grassiness. And maybe some of that graininess others have mentioned.

Ok, hold the phone. I’m halfway through the cup now and now, I’m getting flavor. Holy way to tease, batman. And you’re lucky I’m patient, you Silver Needle you.

Basically what I’m getting now is the H&S without the deliciously wonderful honeysuckle note. It has the same slightly vegetal downturn at the end of the sip that is mitigated by the sweetness. Though the vegetable in question here is not bok choy. It’s not artichoke either though. This must be a characteristic of Silver Needle?

I prefer the Harney, but this is ok. I think I have some more Silver Needle samples tucked away in the white tea box. Note to self: try some over the next couple of days.

180 °F / 82 °C 7 min, 0 sec

I really like like this comparison! I am looking for some good silver needle tea, and have been contemplating on trying H&S, but I was afraid the quality wouldn’t be as great as some other brands out there! Thank you for this post ;-)


Keep in mind I’ve only had two. :-) But in my book, the H&S was far superior to this one.


Yep, it seems that Adagio’s white teas require a 7 minute steep to bring out the flavors where as other companies only require 3 minutes at most. Perhaps lower quality tea leaves? I think that if I went back through my ratings, a lot of changes would be made.


Ok my taste buds are really messed up then. I swear I get a stronger flavor from a shorter temp. I do; however, measure my leaves by weight which most likely means I’m using more leaf. Maybe? lol. I like 160/1-3min

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Switching to white tea now, given the hour. Steeping this at the time and temp in the H&S tasting note.

Beautiful, long, feathery silvery/green needles. They look like they’d be soft to the touch. I’m using the entire sample packet. It measured out to about 1.5 cups worth of tea. The dry leaves have that earthy, watery, airy scent that white tea seems to have to me. Essentially all the alchemical elements except fire.

The liquor is… white? Clear? (Did I use too much water in the Breville? Or do it blame it on my clear glass tasting cup?) It has a very faint floral aroma. The sort of smell you admire on a friend who has used just the right amount of perfume. I think it must be the honeysuckle I’m smelling, as it doesn’t seem jasmine to me. In any case, it’s divine.

There is flavor here, but you have to be patient. It’s sort of the same reaction I had to the GM Snow Sprout. At first it’s like there’s nothing there, but then, all of a sudden, there is. There’s sweetness, of the sort that reminds me of the nectar that I used to suck out of the ends of shrimp plant flowers as a kid but not as strong. There’s a floral flavor note that carries the honeysuckle from the aroma into the mouth. And there’s a tail of a slight vegetal bitterness, not at all unpleasant, just the sort you’d find in the bok choy of the H&S description, but mediated quite successfully by the sweetness of the tea.

Not recommended for those who prefer strong flavors in teas. I generally prefer strong flavors but I’m always amazed by how an extremely subtle tea can also grab me and I can like it just as much as the deepest smoky tea. I guess that probably says something about my personality but I’m not gonna dwell on it.

I think I’ll resteep this instead.

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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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 less appealing to me — but I still enjoy nicely done blends where the base doesn’t taste like hamster cage chips. 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. These days, I’ve been drinking primarily green tea during weekdays after my first cup of coffee. On weekends, I’ve been drinking only tea.

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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