1183 Tasting Notes


Sipdown no. 24 of 2016 (no. 235 total).

It’s pouring rain this morning. No. 2 has a field trip in all of this and we have a parent conference for no. 1, plus I have a car full of items from my cleaning spree to take to donate along with other errands. So it will be a busy day.

This is a nice way to start. I really do like this one, even though like the other S&V Earl Grey’s I get little to no bergamot, and today I’m also getting a savory note (rosemary maybe) which I don’t ordinarily adore in tea. The floral notes are so gentle and pleasant, though, that they make me want to drink this again.

It also appears that I didn’t include all my Simpson & Vail teas in my cupboard. I just poured two of them into tins as a result of recent sipdowns and noticed I didn’t include them in the inventory, I guess because the bags were in the sample bins. But they’re about 2 oz a piece, so they are enough to consider cupboard material. Must remedy.

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I put a portion of the sample, about 5 g, into a 100ml gaiwan and steeped for two minutes. I still have about 2.5g of the sample left, so I can try it again with less leaf.

All I really smell in the dry leaf is jasmine. The leaves are lovely, silvery and long. After steeping, the aroma is jasmine +, but I’m having trouble identifying what the plus is. The liquor is a light apricot color.

The flavor is also jasmine plus. I’m thinking it’s nectar I’m tasting, Something mild and sweet in any case. There’s a tiny touch of bitterness, like bamboo maybe.

It’s more flavorful than some of my other silver needle ventures, and not just because of the jasmine. Rating it compared to my other silver needle experiences, though the rating doesn’t reflect it’s overall appeal to me as a tea, which is less.

Flavors: Bamboo, Jasmine, Nectar

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drank Sencha Fukuyu by Kusmi Tea
1183 tasting notes

I’ve had this a few times now and it’s been pretty much the same experience each time. It’s a drinkable sencha but it’s not as juicy as some I’ve had. The dry leaf is very fine and tends toward a grassy fragrance. The steeped tea is yellowish green, with some floaters (the fine leaves of sencha always do this when I steep in the Breville).

The steeped tea doesn’t have a strong aroma, just a light grassy/hay thing going on.

I don’t find the tea as flavorful as some senchas I’ve had. It’s not bitter, but not sweet. It has a vaguely hay like note, not vegetal, not buttery.

It’ll be easy to sip down when I want a green tea but don’t want to think about it too much.

Flavors: Hay

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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drank Sweet Dreams by Todd & Holland
1183 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 23 of 2016 (no. 234 total). The rest of the sample.

Another weak tea day (as in the consumption of tea was weak, rather than the tea itself) because of further house cleaning and a rather lengthy nap this afternoon, followed by the baking of cookies (I found as part of the cleaning a jar of cookie mix that a neighbor had made as a holiday present a while back that never got made and now has been) and the cooking of dinner while the Democratic debate was on in the background.

The BF wanted an herbal and I started down the list with a Todd & Holland Pear Helene sample that we haven’t tried yet, which he nixed. This was the second one I mentioned and I was sort of surprised he picked it, but also sort of glad as it means another sipdown.

It’s definitely got a medicinal thing going on, and is mostly peppermint, but if you’re in the mood for a truly herbal herbal rather than a rooibos or a fruit blend, or are looking for a palatable tummy soother, this isn’t bad. I probably wouldn’t drink it often and would likely save it mostly for tummy upsets so I doubt I’ll order it. Refresh by Tazo is a better mint in my view, and mint alone is plenty soothing when I have an upset stomach so I’m not sure I see the need to add this to the cupboard permanently.

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Sipdown no. 22 of 2016 (no. 233 total).

Again, not much to add to my previous notes. A floral more than citrus tea that isn’t really an Earl Grey in my estimation because the bergamot is pretty much missing, but is tasty and pleasant nevertheless.

Oh, hey. It seems I’ve hit tasting note no. 1100 with this one.

carol who

Yeah !! 1100 is awesome! :)


Woo! Congratulations. :)

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Seems like my first encounters with those of the Leafspa teas that are left tend to be cold brews, just because each container has 4 oz of tea which is a lot in my world.

This actually made a pretty good cold tea. Though much of the magical green-ness of the tea is muted or lost in the cold, the buttery flavor translates better than I would have thought.

Today was a slow day for tea, because I spent the day cleaning the house. Please applaud at the end of my list of accomplishments:

1. took a ton of empty boxes to recycling
2. removed hard drives from old desktop computer and old backup server, and recycled the remains, plus some keyboards, old routers, old power supplies, printer toner cartridges, etc.
3. donated cat diapers and liners to animal shelter (yes, I had cat diapers in my garage; my last kitty before the three I have now became incontinent in her declining months and though I threw away the ones she actually used, I had some that never made it out of the package)
4. finished clearing space in garage
5. moved tubs of toys from family room (and dining room!) to garage and went through two of them with kids to decide what to keep, what to donate, and what to store (there are a ton more to go through)
6. sorted and filed or stored papers found during movement of toys as mentioned above

And then, now that we have moved most of the junk out of the family room we could see our fire place again, so we had a fire! And I cooked dinner.

I’ve been at this since 8:30 a.m. and it is now 9 p.m.

No more tea tonight. Tonight I’m having a couple of glasses of wine and hitting the sack. ;-)


That’s a productive day!


That’s a lot to do. Makes you feel good to reclaim space in your house. :)


Yes! Now to do more today! (I’m a bit sore, but it’s not as bad as I thought it might be).

carol who

I usually have to drink something like David’s Chocolate Rocket to get that kind of work done. I love the results of getting rid of clutter but hate the work involved. Congratulation!

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Sipdown no. 21 of 2016 (no. 232 total).

Not much to add to my previous notes on this one. It’s a nice tea, but not really an Earl Grey and not really creamy. More of a fruity floral, a la some of the Kusmi Russian blends.

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Sipdown no. 20 of 2016 (no. 231 total). A sample. This is a chunky blend, and the sample was really only enough to yield four cups. The BF was interested in trying this so I just made the entire thing.

In the packet I definitely see the apple and the almonds. The smell from the packet is very similar to that of T&H’s Amaretti Cookie, and I’m wondering whether it will turn out to taste like that. I hope so.

It has an unusual colored liquor. Peach, or maybe melon? A light yellowish-pink. The aroma is wonderful. Very like the Amaretti Cookie/Almond Biscotti/Brioche profile.

The flavor is way more interesting than the aroma would have led me to believe. There is citrus (lemon?) on the front end of the sip that rapidly dissipates and spreads out into a gently flavored tisane that is in fact quite reminiscent of the various almond pastry teas. But it’s not as simple as that; there’s also a freshness and lightness to the tisane that makes it extremely pleasant to drink late at night. It’s not something that sits heavy in the stomach. The cinnamon, fortunately, while tasteable, isn’t overpowering.

I’m really impressed by this one.

Flavors: Almond, Cinnamon, Citrus, Lemon, Pastries

Boiling 7 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 34 OZ / 1000 ML

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drank Japanese Gyokuro by Sanctuary T
1183 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 19 of 2016 (no. 230 total). The fourth sample in the pure tea sampler.

I haven’t had that many gyokuros. They sort of intimidate me because they’re so delicate and expensive, and because they have such individuated preparation instructions. I’m not entirely sure I did this correctly as there were not instructions included with my sample, but I got the water temperature and steeping time instructions from the internet, and I steeped it in the gaiwan since it seems you’re supposed to watch the leaves unfurl. The main parameter I’m not sure about is the ratio of tea to water. I used the entire sample, which was about 6.5 grams, in 100ml. The instructions I’d read on the internet said you could do 1-2 grams per 30ml, so I think this worked out about right. I steeped uncovered.

But gee, I expected to see that neon green radioactive color I’d seen with other gyokuros and I didn’t get that at all. I just got a generic yellow green tea color. The aroma is sweetly vegetal as I expected, and the flavor is similar to the aroma.

Frankly, though, the flavor I’m getting isn’t all that different from what I get from sencha. I wonder whether it’s the age of the tea that’s the issue, or whether I just didn’t make it correctly. I will say that the last sip, after becoming quite cool, had a distinct seaweedy flavor that I am guessing is umami.

Not sure how to rate this so I’m not going to.

Flavors: Seaweed, Vegetal

140 °F / 60 °C 2 min, 0 sec

i might not try this tea then… thanks though for the heads up :)


I have only had the Teavana gyokuro, but I love it. I usually steep it for 2 minutes at 140-150 degree Fahrenheit, like you did with this one, and get what tastes like a vegetal sencha, only sweeter and smoother. This one wasn’t sweet?


It was, just not noticeably more than a sweet sencha.


Cool. I’ll have to branch out into other gyokuros (if I can find some at a reasonable price, haha). It would be interesting to see how much they vary from one company to the next.

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Sipdown no. 18 of 2016 (no. 229 total).

I tried this at a lower temperature today, 195F, in the gaiwan using my usual 15 seconds first steep with an additional 5 seconds for each subsequent one. It makes a subtle difference in the first steep, bringing out more of the toffee note, which is quite nice. It’s an interesting tea, not what I have come to expect from a tieguanyin, but tasty nevertheless.

The empty cup smells strongly of toffee. Yum.


ooooh! toffee! :D

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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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