545 Tasting Notes


When I requested a sample of Life in Teacup’s first picked green tea of this year, I told Gingko (LiT’s manager) to surprise me on the two other free samples he offered with the green tea. The teas on LiT are more “serious” looking than any teas I’ve had so far, it was late at night, and I love surprises. This jasmine green tea is one of the surprise samples I received (and you’ll just have to wait until I review the other one to know what it is). I should add, since this my first tea from LiT, that Gingo responded to my email quickly and I was emailed when the teas were shipped. A+ for customer service to LiT.

So, I’ve never had a jasmine tea before. I wasn’t sure I’d like a jasmine tea, or any floral tea for that matter. I worried I’d have to write a “I don’t like this” tealog for tea samples I was kindly given. Turns out I didn’t have to worry, not only did I like this jasmine green, I really liked it. I didn’t expect to like teas with smokey notes (A&D’s Yunnan and Jackee), but I did. I do have to brew them on the mild side so I don’t know if I’d like a truly smoky tea. So far, I’ve liked all new tea types I’ve tried, despite any prior expectations. Good, right? Maybe. I can only store and drink so much tea.

The tea sample packets came with no steeping instructions so I had to look on LiT’s website for them. They are also on Steepster. I did find them a bit vague. My leaves did not float mostly, only a dozen or so with most at the bottom, so I had to guess at steeping time a bit. Luckily, I seemed to have guessed pretty close to right.

I opened my sample packet and looked and smelled. The leaves were small dark, dark spring green curls. There were very few jasmine petals in my sample, but I think such is the luck of samples. The smell was all flower. I’d call it gardenia since I’ve never smelled a jasmine flower. The wet leaves lightened in color a bit and smelled like gardenia’s on a hot summer day after a rain shower. The tea had the same smell and was a warm, bright tan.

I tasted. Flower! Just what I’d expect a flower to taste like if I were to decide to eat one for some bizarre reason. I like flower taste? Really? Weird, but I do! The green tea is light with absolutely no bitterness.

I oh-so-rarely steep a second time as soon as I’ve finished my first cup, but I did. In the middle of writing this tasting note, in fact. Same steeping parameters as the first cup. Lighter in color and only slightly lighter in flavor.

I wish I’d made this tea during the day so I could have resteeped it as much as I could or until I tired of it. (Oddly, after tofu coconut curry leftovers for dinner tonight, I wanted to try this tea. It sounded like it would go with Chinese/Thai foods. As it grew later, I wasn’t even sure I would make tea tonight but I kept thinking about trying this.) Although, I might do a third steep even this late at night. Luckily, I should have two more tries out of this sample to enjoy. This tea makes me eager to try my other samples from LiT soon.

195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Thomas Sampson threw his manly brawn around and ended up in my cup this again this morning. He was steeped for less time and in cooler water in an effort to reduce his bitterness a bit. It worked. And I think I got a bit of bake-y too. More of a honeyed biscuit though. I liked it. He will not have to fight his way into my cup tomorrow morning. His second steep (5 min, 205°) was weak but drinkable. Much more honeyed biscuit and less bitter, smoother. The slightest pinch of fresh leaf will revive him there, I think.

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 45 sec

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In one of my last tealogs, I was wondering where takgoti had gotten to. Then suddenly, where is chrine? Well, the husband was in a car accident early – 6am – Monday morning on the way to work, detailed below.

The husband: Drives our Prius, The Bunny. At 50 mph on cruise control. In the right lane. To get 53 mpg. While commuting 45 min to 1 hour each way to work. Lights on cause it’s still dark out. Assumes truck will pass him at the last minute cause they often do. Highway is flat and straight. The speed limit is 70 mph. No other cars are around.
The 18 wheeler: Does not pass the husband. Runs into his rear end, driver’s side.
The husband: Propelled a bit into left lane. Gets car off the road and stopped without hitting the tree line.
The Prius: Damaged but fixable.
The husband: Not badly hurt, ever so thankfully. Impact related back pain. On meds. Drowsy, zoned out, quiet.

Now, the tea. Also in non-sentence form. First tea since accident. Not sure this was the best time to try a tea for the first time. What the hell though.

Look: Thin, longer than Jackee, more curled, black with spots of tan and brown.
Smell: Papery – dusty, musty. A bit floral, oddly. Slightly sweet.

Wet leaves.
Look: Flat dark brown.
Smell: Papery. Raisiny. Sweet.

Look: Deep brown with red tones.
Smell: Honey-floral-papery.
Taste: Bitter. Honey/sweet. Soft. Bitter.

I think I need to steep it less time or at a lower temp.

By the way, if Jackee “caramel” Muntz reminds me of takgoti, Thomas “bake-y” Sampson reminds me of Auggy.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

So sorry to hear about the accident! Glad he’s not too badly hurt!


That’s terrible! Was the truck driver charged with the accident?


Oh my goodness!!! I’m glad he is on the mend, and the car can be repaired. You had to be crazed all week. I’m glad you finally got a cup of tea in ya!


I’m so sorry about what happened but I’m glad that he wasn’t badly hurt!


Poor Chrine + Chrine’s husband. And poor bunny! =(


Ohmygod! Poor thing. May the hubby heal quickly.


Oh my goodness! It sounds like your husband is extremely lucky. I’ve heard real horror stories involving huge semi trucks. That must have been terrifying for you both, I am so sorry. And to have that happen to a Prius, too! What a nice reward for being environmentally conscious. It’s kind of like a metaphor, you know? Big semi crushing the small Prius?


So sorry about what’s happened! I’m glad your husband wasn’t badly hurt…you both will be in my thoughts.


Miserable, damnable 18-wheeler trucks.. Glad to hear your husband is safe and sound, even if on the mend, and that the Prius can be saved! Hope the tea will help with the aftermath; you’ll both be in my thoughts!

I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

Thanks to everybody for your kind words. It’s been a trying week and they are much appreciated.

fcmonroe ~ Yes, the truck driver was charged with the accident.

Erin ~ You’re right, it does seem like it could be a metaphor.


Oi! Very glad to hear he came out of that more okay than not.

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So how was the 2nd steep of Jackee?

Well, I steeped it for the same amount of time as the 1st (3 min 45 sec). Let it cool slightly to be able to drink it. Realized it was weak. Steeped 30 sec more. Still weak. Steeped 30 sec more. Better but weak. Steep 1 min more. I taste tea mostly now, not watery. Steep 1 min more. Now somewhere over 6 min steep time on a black. I stop. I drink the mug. Sweet and smokey.

I think I need to do something different next time. Perhaps hotter water on the 2nd steep and a longer initial steep time. I might also turn my 1st steep at 3 min 30 sec. The 1st steep was quite strong. I believe A&D said on their website that Jackee could take 2 steeps. They said that about the Yunnan and it could. I think I just need to fiddle with it.

So, Steepsterians who’ve had Jackee and done a 2nd steep with him, what parameters did you use? How did he come out?

195 °F / 90 °C 6 min, 45 sec

My second steep (which tasted like butterscotch!) was 2 teaspoons of leaves in 16 oz water for 4:30, boiling water. I thought it was great!!! My first steep put hair on my chest, and I am going to do my first steep more like yours next time!

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My A&D DFT Series 2 arrived yesterday. It shipped on Thursday so I wasn’t expecting it until early next week. I got it from the mailbox too late in the day to try any yesterday.

After a delicious lunch of chicken enchiladas, I decided to go on the caramel quest with Jackee Muntz. The dry leaves were small – four to eight millimeters long and thin, mostly straight with some curves, and deep cocoa brown with some reddish and tan accents. They smelled smokey, like antique library books starting to burn. The wet leaves looked like broken pencil shavings in shape and were a rich brown and a dark sierra brown. They smelled smokey but more tarry, almost putting-down-asphalt like, but without the toxin edge to the smell.

The cup of tea was a rich brown with a touch of red to it and smelled smokey and burnt, yet sweet. The sweet part smelled like a dessert-type food that I haven’t identified yet. It reminded me of the fair. At first, I thought hot burnt caramel corn or kettle corn. But that isn’t it. I’ll keep sniffing subsequent cups and see if I figure it out.

And now for news of the caramel quest. I’d like to thank everyone who paved the way for me with their tealogs because I found caramel. The first sips were smokey and ashy with some sweet. As the tea cooled, I could taste the burnt sugar taste along with the smokiness. By about half a cup left, it was smokey and light caramel and just warm. The last few sips were caramel with a bit of smokiness and cooler. I also noticed it had a thicker mouth feel as it cooled.

I noticed the taste of this tea change a lot with the temperature of it. I’ve noticed that before but never so prominently. Maybe it was only because I was paying such close attention looking for the caramel. I have to admit I wasn’t expecting to be able to find the caramel in the tea, especially after smelling the dry leaves.

I think I was planning to write something more but I seem to have had a brain blank thinking about this tea. Since I’m planning to do a 2nd steep shortly and drink this tea again quite soon, I’ll end this tealog instead of leaving it up until I remember more of what I wanted to say.

Also, while I was typing this the thought occurred to me – I haven’t seen anything from takgoti in a few days. Where is takgoti? Has she been around, or told us of her absence, and it slipped my mind? (I just thought through my other favorite regular posters and they’re all accounted for.)

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 45 sec

I was actually wondering that too. She hasn’t posted in a while, and I don’t think she mentioned anything about going away. I hope things are okay.


Good job finding the caramel! I’m still hunting for it… :(


Shanti, is this still a good tea even without the caramel?


SUCCESS! Awesome you found caramel – I’ve been reading about the trials & tribulations of this tea that even though I haven’t (yet) tasted this one, I’m rooting for those who do!

I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

Erin ~ It wasn’t just me not noticing her then.

takgoti, where are you? Anyone know where takgoti is? Should we be worried?

Shanti ~ I hope you find the caramel. Try drinking the tea more slowly perhaps. Mine was lukewarm and cooling by the time I finished it.

Lauren ~ I didn’t expect to find it so easily. Or so clearly. I am hoping I don’t have trouble replicating it.


Probably midterms for Takgoti.

I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

Oh yeah, it could be about that time. Thanks Ricky.


Yay caramel! Hehe!
And no worries about takgoti – she’s on spring break right now and traveling a bit but she’s safe and sound!


I liked your description very much, with your notes about smokiness/burnt/sweet tastes. But you stopped me in my tracks when I read “…antique library books starting to burn.” I can absolutely understand the smell of antique library books, but when did you smell them burning? :-) And for heaven’s sake, please tell me what they are so I can pay for shipping to me.

I imagine you had occasion to help or attend one of those library-cleaning days, where no-one has checked them out for the last 25 years, so they toss them. I just don’t know where they burn them.


Erin—I actually don’t like it that much :x it’s smokey and piney, but I don’t really like that kind of tea. I like Thomas Sampson more, but even TS doesn’t seem that “special” to me…just a good straightforward black tea.

Robert Godden

My son and another employee once sieved through and removed all of the little caramel bits from a caramel flavoured black tea and ate them, They didn’t have to go looking for the caramel taste, they had it all. I wasn’t impressed when I noticed the tea on the shelf had no little bits.

I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

Auggy ~ Thanks for letting us know about takgoti. I’m sure she told us and I forgot.

JustDucky ~ I love books, both reading and physical books. I love the way they smell, which is why, for me, a paper-y or old book smell is a good thing. I’ve never smelt books burning, but I’ve smelt antique books and I’ve smelt paper burning. So it smells the way I think old paper would burning. My local library system has several huge book sales each year to deal with the old or surplus books.

Shanti ~ Thomas Sampson is coming tomorrow.

I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

Robert ~ You commented while I was typing my last comment. I can just see a little boy doing that. lol


Congrats on finding the caramel. I have heard so much about it, I just ordered my series 2 last night, I can’t wait for it to get here. Hopefully I find the caramel as easy as you did.

And yeah, I was wondering the same thing, I haven’t seen her lately either and was curious about it since she usually posts frequently.

Thanks Auggy for clearing that up.

I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

Garrett ~ I studied up on Jackee to get the caramel. I followed their directions real good. =) My Series 2 came really quickly. Can’t wait to read your tealogs on yours.


Aww! I feel incredibly loved right now. Anyhow, I’m still trying to nail down the caramel ratios. I’m glad you managed to find some of it. I swear, y’all, when it’s strong, it’s like…WHOAMYGODCARAMEL.

I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

Me too. I thought I’d spend mugs looking for it. And yay, you’re back. How was spring break? Did you get your party on?


It was pretty awesome! I did get my party on…ish. Not really. My idea of partying nowadays is mimosas on the couch with a book in the afternoon with the door open and music playing in the background. Mmm…


I know it was awhile ago that Erin asked this, but I do really like Jackee even without the caramel. He’s still sweet, and smooth, and smoky, but definitely Keemun-smoky not Lapsang-smoky. The caramel, when it happens, is an unexpected bonus that sometimes shows up as he cools.


I love your review. Jackee is a main man of mine and he’s comfortable in the sweaty atmosphere of the gym and also in the refined Library of an English country castle—a ducal seat, perhaps.

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I drink True Blueberry for the second time yesterday night. I steeped it 30 seconds longer. It was good but didn’t seem as good as it was the previous night. I’m going to steep it a little longer next time.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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Yesterday morning, the husband and I shared a pot of Napal with homemade apple, raisin, and spice oatmeal. Delicious.

2nd steep: 4 min.

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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On Wednesday night, I tried another tea from the Celestial Seasoning sampler Barbara gave me. I went for the True Blueberry this time. There were four bags instead of the three there were supposed to be in the sample packet. This isn’t the first time this has happened to me in a Celestial Seasoning sampler. I even got five bags once.

Since these fruit herbals have steeped quite strong at their recommended four to six minute, I steeped this one at only 3 minutes. I had hoped to maybe get another steep out of the bag but I didn’t – too watery. The blueberry flavor was light, smooth, and only a little tart at the end. It was easy to drink. I do think I’ll try steeping this longer next time.

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec
vicki arnold

I bought some Adagio’s Berry Blast for a large tea party this past weekend. Although I liked the flavor, I was afraid that others would find it too tart. I decided to blend it with Celestial Seasoning’s True Blue Berry & Tazo’s Wild Sweet Orange to soften the blow! It turned out so amazing! But I also love this tea all by itself, it’s my favorite right-off-the-grocery-store-shelf fruit tea! M-m-m-m, Blueberry.

I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

Sounds interesting. I just happen to have some Wild Sweet Orange on hand too…

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When we last left Chrine Tuesday night, she had just tealogged the teas she drank that day and was about to go into the forum for a certain chai recipe she’d see and make stove top chai from the last of her Rooibos Chai…

Oh.my.gawd. It was SO good! I used Takgoti’s chai recipe which teaplz posted in the forum using Lena’s suggestion of brown sugar (to spread the credit around for this wonderful experience). It didn’t even come out as good as I could make it and it was still so good.

With the Rooibos Chai at least, I could have added more tea cause I would have liked the chai flavors to be a little stronger. I also could have used less sugar. But this is the last of the Rooibos Chai that I had so I will be moving on to trying it with Rishi’s Marsala Chai. I also covered the pot when I turned off the heat to left it sit and steep so it would stay hot and it bubbled up out of the pot a bit. Next time I won’t cover it or at least won’t cover it right away.

I also got to use my big big lavender and gray swirl pottery mug which I got when I was around 11 visiting my grandma. I don’t use it much anymore cause it holds two servings of tea or coffee. Although, it is cavernous and round and stays warm really well for a long time.

I am sure I will be steeping my chais this way from now on for the most part. Although, not too often because of the milk and sugar.

1 c boiling water. 1 tbsp brown sugar. 1 tbsp Rooibos Chai. simmer 5 min. 1 c milk. bring to boil. turn off heat. steep 10 min.

Boiling 8 min or more

Yay chai! It works really well with soy milk, too. Samovar has this new sugar they’re going to start using that’s pretty phenomenal. If they ship it, I’ll be using it unless I can find it out here. It’s pretty tasty. http://bit.ly/coZw3I

I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

Oh neat, and interesting. I’ll look for it next time I go to Earth Fare. They might carry it. Any odd taste or after taste?


Not really. It started off like brown sugar and then it was WHAM BAM hitcha with the flavors. Pretty awesome stuff, actually. I didn’t try it in anything, just plain, but I’ve found myself wanting some since I’ve been back.


Wow…that recipe sounds far too good. I’ll have to try it with my next cup of rooibos. :)

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This tea is definitely better on the 2nd steep, no milk. Less strong, bitter.

I forgot to say on my last tealog. I ordered A&D DFT Series 2 this morning! It was getting too low in stock and I was getting nervous I’d miss ordering it before it ran out. I was #24. Carmel, here I come!

I have very little left of rooibos chai so tonight I’m planning to look up someone’s, can’t remember who, stove top chai recipe with milk on the Steepster forum. I remember seeing a good looking one. I’m going to drink it while I watch more of PBS’s Masterpiece Contemporary’s Place of Execution or while I read The Shipping News. Except, I put the burner plates in the dishwasher to clean!! They need to get done soon so I can use the stove.

200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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I’m 33 years old, studying pharmacy, and have a surly cat named Bin. I love tea, coffee, beer, wine, and most things food and beverage related. I also love music, movies, reading, writing, and learning new things.

I’ve drank tea all my life but about five to six years ago, my close friend Spautz got into tea and got me more into tea. I drink black teas and tisanes/herbals most. Since receiving a variable temperature kettle from my parents for Xmas this past year, I’ve been drinking more greens, oolongs, and whites. I’m very very new to puerh. That is, I’ve had only one.

Ratings scale:
90-100 Awesome
80-90 Great
70-80 Good
60-70 Nice
50-60 Decent
40-50 Drinkable
30-40 Meh
0-30 Awful

Would I order this again ranking:
5 – definitely
4 – likely
3 – maybe
2 – neutral
1 – no


Charleston, SC

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