American Tea Room

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Recent Tasting Notes

85

Delicious. Nutty, bready, goodness in a cup. A great dessert or breakfast time tea.
I don’t really see anything else jumping out at me from the American Tea Room to purchase — but this one came highly recommended. If you have not tried this, it is an excellent flavored black tea.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Honey, Sweet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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88

Sipdown no. 18 of 2018 (no. 374 total). A sample.

Just as tasty as it was the first time. Nothing to add to the previous note.

The kids have a piano recital today, and I plan to ride the Peloton. Other than that, it’s a toss up between cleaning out the master bedroom closet, which I’ve been meaning to do for a while, or sending stories out that have been accumulating in the rejected pile.

The way I’m feeling about writing these days, I’m thinking the closet is more likely.

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88

Another never before opened sample packet. I believe it’s the last black tea sample I have from ATR. I still have a number of oolongs and white tea samples, also some pu erh.

It has a spicy smell in the packet. A bit like cinnamon. The aroma of the steeped tea is really appetizing. Malty-chocolatey, bready, and a hint of coffee. Its a very dark amber color.

The flavor is smooth and mild for an Assam. It’s not the heavy, black coffee-motor oil combo of some Assam. I’m not getting sweetness until the finish and aftertaste, but it’s not bitter or sour in the sip.

It’s even easy on the stomach, and in that sense is better than many Assams in my book. I like this one well enough to consider it something could easily drink more often than not. It’s going on the wish list and fortunately, it’s still available.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Coffee, Malt

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML
teepland

An Assam that is easy on the stomach? I need to try this one! I love Assam but only have it occasionally because too much of it makes my stomach upset. :(

__Morgana__

I hear ya, which is why I found this one surprising.

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89

Another unopened ATR sample. I steeped this one according to directions with a slight modification. I didn’t take it to 5 minutes. That seemed too extreme to me.

I’m surprised no one else has written about this one. I even had to create the entry.

This is a really lovely tea. It has some smoke in the dry leaft and steeped tea aroma and also in the flavor. But it’s just a tad. For the most part, what I smell and taste is that yummy American Tea Room base. Pretty sure it’s lapsang mixed with Yunnan, my desert island black tea. But the lapsang is a grace note here and not the focus.

I’d consider buying this again instead of the lapsang. I think where I’m ending up on lapsang is that it’s something I might want once in a while, but I’d be more likely to drink something like this more frequently.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Malt, Smoke

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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90

Unopened sample packet, steeped according to directions.

OMG. The leaves are so gorgeous and they smell like a gazillion different yummy things. There’s the chocolate-vanilla continuum thing going on — it’s so amazing, I can’t tell which end I’m on. It could be either, or both at the same time. There’s a confectionery aroma that is stunning.

After steeping some of that goes away or at least flattens out and there’s more of a malty/bready smell. It’s a dark copper color.

The tea is smooth and easy to drink. Delicious but without the same depth and malty quality of some of the other ATR Yunnans. It’s not that there’s no depth or maltiness, just that it’s a different version, like the difference between milk chocolate and dark chocolate. This one is the milk chocolate version.

After reading others’ notes, I wanted to love this so much it would be my first 100 rating. but I can’t give it that, at least not based on my tasting today. It’s an excellent tea, but to my personal palate prefers the darker flavors of other ATR Yunnans.

It’s still going on the wishlist, though.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Butterscotch, Chocolate, Malt, Toffee, Vanilla

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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87

Sipdown no. 11 of 2018 (no. 367 total). A sample.

Compared to the Todd & Holland sipped down earlier today, this seems more complex and nuanced. Not sure whether that has to do with grade, or with year or harvest, or some other thing, but there’s a definite difference that I don’t think is placebo effect.

Teatotaler

Margaret’s Hope Second Flush Darjeeling is the tea that started me on my tea journey – My first tea love. I am never without it!

__Morgana__

It’s a keeper!

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87

This is a backlog from yesterday while the site was down.

A never opened sample packet, steeped according to directions.

This one strikes me as different from other second flush darjeelings, even other Margaret’s Hope second flush darjeelings. I don’t know whether that’s because of the grade or not, because some of the others I’ve had aren’t graded. This one is FTGFOP.

In the packet there’s a scent that I recognized but it took me a while to put a name on it. Honey!

The steeped tea has prominent grape notes, with the characteristic muscatel flavor and sharpness. This one is quite astringent, which cools the mouth in the aftertaste.

It’s a great darjeeling.

Flavors: Astringent, Grapes, Honey, Muscatel

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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95

Another unopened sample, steeped in accordance with package directions. They worked well for this one.

This is a backlog from two days ago while the site was down.

This is a wonderful tea. It’s definitely on the wish list.

In the packet it smells like earthy chocolate. After steeping it smells and tastes like the base of some of the ATR blends I love.

There’s a quality to this tea that I have tasted in Samovar teas and also in Cline Zinfandel. I don’t know what it is or how to describe it, but I think of it as depth. It’s also part of the quality I identify as malty. There’s no taut surface tension to this one. It’s like falling into a flavor. The tea is also quite a pretty color — mahogany, and clear.

And that flavor is naturally just sweet enough. I taste molasses, baked bread, chocolate.

I’m so glad they still offer this. It’s a close to perfect black tea.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Malt, Molasses

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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74

Sipdown no. 4 of 2018 (no. 360 total). A sample.

Since just wrote about this one yesterday, I don’t have anything to add.

I have picked out another lapsang sample to try tomorrow.

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74

So, having killed a 4.4 oz tin of lapsang souchong yesterday, I thought I’d move to something smaller before starting on the next tin. This is probably enough for four cups/two servings, which is what ATR samples usually generate.

Steeping hotter and longer than the directions, which are 200F for 5 minutes. Instead, I’m doing boiling for 3. It’s what I used for the Kusmi, and it worked.

In the packet, the smell is mostly of smoke. There’s a salted meat aspect as well. This led me to believe that I’d find this too … lapsangy.

But it’s actually milder than I expected in all respects. There’s not a lot of ashiness, not a lot of tar or resin or even meat. There is smoke, and it’s a gentle smoke.

But what’s missing that was in the Kusmi is the sweetness in the aftertaste. So this gets a bit less in terms of ratings.

Flavors: Meat, Salt, Smoke

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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87

Sipdown no. 30 of 2018 (no. 386 total). A sample.

This time, I steeped at 212 for 3 minutes and it was a vast improvement. The rose was more muted than last time (which was fine, because it was too strong last time), and there was more flavor of the underlying tea discernible.

I’d drink this again, but unfortunately, they no longer carry it.

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87

Another sample, unopened, waiting in the wings. I steeped according to directions — I believe this to have been a mistake. Next time I’ll try my usual black tea parameters, or close to them.

There’s a lot of rose aroma in the packet and in the steeped tea, but the color, at this temperature, looks like a white tea liquor. It’s barely a golden color, and that makes me think the base will be all but lost in the tasting.

And that’s pretty much the case. A ton of rose, not much tea. But I suspect that a shorter, hotter steep will remedy that. If it’s the ATR base for some of their other teas, such as the Earl Greys, that could also be a very worthwhile endeavor.

I have not been exercising or eating right because of a personal thing that is happening in my family, but as it is the new year, I shall try to do better — stress be damned.

Flavors: Rose

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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73

Sipdown no. 64 of 2017 (no. 345 total). A sample.

A transition cup from early to mid-morning. We are thinking of going hiking with friends today. I see one more cup in my future before that.

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73

Yet another ATR sample, never before opened.

I haven’t had lychee anything in ages. I vaguely remember having lychee as a dessert in a Chinese restaurant years ago. I recall it being a rather syrupy dessert, like canned peaches.

The smell in the packet is a sort of unremarkable generic fruit smell. After steeping, a sort of pear-like smell comes out in the aroma. The tea is clear and a deep red.

I do get the “honey-like” taste. It’s a bit heavier than honey. There’s a grape note in the beginning of the sip that fills out in the mouth into something fuller, which is what I remember from the experience of lychee years ago. A full, almost heavy fruit experience where most fruits are fairly light.

It may be that I’m just not used to it. I can’t really speak from the perspective of much lychee experience or fandom.

For now, it’s enjoyable enough but something I’d be likely to drink too infrequently to justify stocking.

Flavors: Lychee

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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89

Sipdown no. 66 of 2017 (no. 347 total). A sample.

I quite like this. I think the base is the same as the Yunnan Earl Greys by ATR that I also liked. It’s possible I’d like anything with this base, within reason. I wouldn’t want to go into Bertie Botts territory or anything, but I can think of a lot of flavors that would go with this.

Bumping up the rating a tad and putting it on the wish list.

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89

A never before opened sample packet.

There’s an intense aroma from the packet. It’s a dark smell, a strong vanilla smell. On the continuum, it’s so vanilla it’s almost chocolate. I’m pretty sure the name is intended to refer to this being a black tea, but it’s a fitting name also because of the dark quality of the vanilla.

The aroma levels out in the steeping. There’s still a darkness to it, but that’s the Yunnan. The vanilla becomes creamy. Floral, really. The tea is a medium amber color.

In flavor, the vanilla has both beany and creamy qualities. The Yunnan gives the tea a depth that makes it more interesting than it might be otherwise. If this base were a Ceylon, the flavor would probably sit on top of the tea. In this, the vanilla sifts down into the depths of the tea and becomes one with it.

I’m not sure how to rate this because I really like it, but I am not sure I’m tasting it on a pure palate. I had raspberry yogurt fairly recently.

Sticking it in the upper 80s for now.

Flavors: Vanilla

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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85
drank Ginger by American Tea Room
1383 tasting notes

Another never before tried ATR sample. I steeped in accordance with package directions.

The smell in the packet is moderately gingery. Not in a gingerbread sort of way, more like a crystallized ginger sort of way but not overly sweet. I used to chew bits of crystallized ginger when I was pregnant. I didn’t really have morning sickness, thank goodness, but I did have some occasional queasiness and the ginger helped.

The aroma has a gentle ginger note that’s quite lovely. The tea is dark amber, closing in on mahogany.

The tea has an unexpected briskness. The astringency and the ginger leave a fresh feeling in the mouth. The ginger flavor isn’t strong, but it’s there. In fact, I think it’s probably in just the right amount — too much could make this taste artificial or too spicy.

The aftertaste has more tea than ginger, but that freshness in the feel is quite pleasant. It makes me feel like my breath has been freshened, though I wouldn’t want to test that on anyone…

It’s also, as the description says, gentle on the stomach. While I’m not in need of nausea control this morning, I can see how this could have medicinal properties.

I am not sure I’ve had a ginger black tea before, so not really sure how to rate this comparatively speaking. Giving it a strong 85 for now. It’s going on the wish list.

Flavors: Ginger

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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drank Romanoff by American Tea Room
141 tasting notes

I wasn’t expecting the smokiness so I didn’t care for this at first. I was expecting more from the orange as well, although in fairness, my sample is several months old and citrus oils are pretty volatile. I’d probably give it about a 65 rating right now, but I’d like to try to re-rate once I try it again in a smoky kind of mood. (Let’s see if I remember to document that, though!) I saw someone mentioned dates in the flavors section, and I actually agree with that although I never would have thought of it. It’s definitely a nice tea, I’m just not sure what I think about it yet.

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74

Sipdown no. 59 of 2017 (no. 340 total). A sample.

This met an untimely demise. I dropped the packet, and much of the remaining contents scattered across my kitchen floor. I stuck the tiny remainder in with the leaves from my next up: the ATR Ceylon.

A shame, as I would have liked to have experimented with this one a bit to see whether I could get the balance better.

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74

I wish I’d read the description here before I steeped this. I didn’t shake the packet!

The dry leaves smell like a wonderful pastry. The steeped tea smells like a peppery spiced tea. The tea is dark amber and a bit opaque.

I was sipping this while watching the last bit of episode III of Star Wars (there’s a marathon on TV at the moment) and in the back of my mind, I kept thinking: I know this flavor.

I finally figured it out — it reminds me of Constant Comment. But a souped up version. I can taste the vanilla, but mostly what makes this different from other spiced teas with similar flavor profiles is the pepper.

It’s a good tea. But I wish I’d given the package a shake as I can’t be sure that the strength of the pepper (which is a bit too much for me) isn’t because I didn’t evenly distribute it.

OK — who’s seen episode VIII? I have, I have!

Flavors: Cinnamon, Orange, Pastries, Pepper, Vanilla

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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65
drank Ceylon by American Tea Room
1383 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 60 of 2017 (no. 341 total). A sample.

A serviceable Ceylon. There’s nothing wrong with it, it just didn’t knock my socks off.

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65
drank Ceylon by American Tea Room
1383 tasting notes

Another ATR sample that I hadn’t opened until now.

ATR has a Ceylon on its site now, but I don’t think this is the same one. That one is denominated a Ceylon single estate, and the tea that I have doesn’t have that description. I’m guessing that if it was the same tea, it would also have said single estate.

It has a fruity, bready, earthy, slightly smoky smell in the packet and after steeping, those same notes are present except the smoke. The flavor is much like the aroma, though I think that since I’m unwilling to steep to the recommended four minutes, I am going to need to increase the temperature and maybe add 30 seconds on to the steeping time to get more flavor out of this. It’s a little too light right now — I’d expect more robust flavor and I further expect user error is the culprit.

But, based on what this erroneous user is currently tasting, this isn’t one of my favorite Ceylons.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Earth, Fruity, Smoke

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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74

Sipdown no. 56 of 2017 (no. 337 total). A sample.

Much better steeped at 3 minutes. Not bitter and much less throat grabby. The main flavor I get is of the Assam. I think a heavier influence of the Chinese black would have probably suited my preferences better, but then it probably wouldn’t have been “Celtic.”

Evol Ving Ness

I just adore this one. It’s on my shopping list (if I ever allow myself to buy more tea :)

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74

I cracked open a sample of this and steeped almost according to directions. I couldn’t bring myself to steep this for five minutes, and frankly, four was too much.

I was utterly prepared to love this tea. I love a good black tea blend, which is why I love so many of the Harney teas. In the packet this smells like something I’d love. There’s a deep, chocolate-earth smell. The aroma is sweet and malty and the color is a divine dark wine-red.

And yet. There’s a bitterness that reminds me of why I don’t enjoy black coffee and always have to put some milk in coffee before I start to purr. At four minutes, the tea is so dense it doesn’t have any room to breathe. Rather than coming across as chewy, which can be nice, it comes across like a brick that would break your teeth if you tried to chew it, with some Assam throat grab to boot.

Clearly, there was a method to my madness when I settled on not steeping black teas for longer than 3 to 3 and a half minutes — one I’d forgotten until now.

Not rating it for now since I can’t rule out that it’s not sending me because I steeped it too long. I’ll try 3 minutes with the last bit another time and see how that goes.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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