260 Tasting Notes

drank Mugicha (Barley Tea) by Maeda-en
260 tasting notes

I drank this whilst on Steepster hiatus, and my notes on it are very brief, so I’m not going to have too much to say here. [Pause for shock and awe. Done now?]

It reminded me of sobacha in that it had that kind of puffed wheat taste to it [no surprise here, as it’s barley tea], but it was darker. Darker, almost hoppy [again, no surprise here, as it’s barley tea] and sweeter. A brown sugar kind of sweet.

I know that they serve barley tea at the Korean BBQ place my friends and I like to frequent, but the one they have there is almost more reminiscent of sobacha to me than this. This is a little…earthier. Maybe smokier is a better word? Anyway, I’d be willing to bet that what they have there has seen a fair amount of steepage before it gets to us, so that might account for the discrepancy in flavor. This has more depth to it, which I like.

I’ll probably be adding this to the list of things I want to reorder from maeda-en. The samples for this and sobacha weren’t teeny, but they’re also getting worked through rather quickly. They both make for such awesome post-eating-a-small-plantation-full-of-food ordeals that I want to make sure I have some on hand. Not to mention, I find them pretty awesome otherwise.

Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

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drank Bai Mu Dan by Samovar
260 tasting notes

Sometimes I feel like I should just log teas every time that I drink them, but I wouldn’t be able to keep it up all the time [hahaha] and it would bother the completionist in me that I had missed some stuff. You should see me game, it’s horrible. If there are achievements, it bothers me to hell if I don’t get all of them. Even if they’re stupid difficult. RPG’s are the worst [and the best]. Usually in these cases, when I can see it coming, it’s better for me to stray from even trying, so that I don’t feel like I’m a big fail ball. When it comes to tea, this means that some of the teas I drink fall by the wayside, even some of the ones I drink fairly often. This is unfortunate, especially when they’re good teas, like Bai Mu Dan.

I haven’t had this from anyone else [though I think I might have a sample of Adagio’s that I haven’t bothered to try yet lying around somewhere] so I don’t have anything to compare it to. I really like it, though. When I was first drinking it, I think it was a little bit…darker, maybe, than I’m used to with white teas. The flavors aren’t bad, it was just different, so there was a small appreciation curve I had to slide up to get the point where I am now with it.

It has a lot of those darker sweet flavors to me. Corn, for one – more like…creamed corn [which I happen to like] than fresh corn, but it has that kind of corn sweetness to it. Sometimes I get notes that remind me lightly of honeydew melon. At times tastes toasted, almost roasty, which mainly happens when it hits the back of my throat. It reminds me of walnuts.

The flavor is light, but it’s not picnic in the park, butterflies flitting about light. It’s more like…end of a summer day, drinking lemonade on the porch as the sun sets through the trees light, if that makes sense. I’m trying to avoid the oxymoron of saying it’s a dark light flavor, but there it is.

It’s a good tea. I don’t drink it nearly as much as I do my other two Samovar favorites – Osmanthus Silver Needle and Downy Sprout, but I probably see it once a week or so. Maybe a little bit less, maybe a little more. It’s pretty easy going, so that’s how we roll.

160 °F / 71 °C 3 min, 0 sec

I dream of the day when I’ll be able to pick up on all of those notes in a white (or black, or green, etc.) tea. Until then, I will loyally read your reviews and hope that some of your skill rubs off on me! :)


Yummm, cornnnn. :D I haven’t had any corn flavored tea yet. Sounds interesting, but corn and honeydew melon o.O, how does that work. Send some to teaplz, she’ll let us know if she detects any honeydew :D


Mmmm. I love your descriptive imagery. I totally know what you mean about the white being “darker” than normal.

Shanti, I was having problems, too, trying to pick up little subtleties. :) I found that if I just drink the tea by itself, and very slowly, sipping and smelling and sipping, I’m able to concentrate a bit better and figure out just what I’m tasting. Some tea is too difficult to describe in words, though!


P.S. I have completionist tendencies in video games too. Still trying to get “Superb!” on 4 Rhythm Heaven games (I got that rank on all the rest!).


@Shanti Hahaha, you probably already have the skills, it just takes some time to ease into them! It’s just like teaplz said; take it slow. Just make sure you’ve let it cool enough for it to be able to touch all the regions of your tongue without burning yourself and you’re golden! Also, completely unrelated, but is that your cat? He or she is adorable!

@Ricky Hahaha, actually, you’ve just spurred an idea for a fantastic summer salad for me. I’ll have to give it a whirl…in six months.

@teaplz Oh thank jeebus. Even as I was typing that out I was thinking, “They’re going to think I’ve lost it.” And that’s hilarious that you should say that because I’ve gotten superb on everything and need perfects on like, six more. COMPLETIONISTS FTW.


Okay, Rockstar 2 is giving me SO much trouble in RH. Ugh. That and the space shooter 2, Ping Pong 2, and the Moai 2. I am stupidly addicted to that game.


I HATE the strumming on Rockstar. Though it kills me, I’m probably not going to complete the extra little cafe strummy bonus thing. It’s by far my least favorite of all the things. Even more than ping pong.


I hate the way the little spikey-haired dude scrunches his face up when I mess up. I want to smack him with my stylus when that happens! I’ve gotten As on all the beginner songs, but I only place second in the cafe contest thing. :(


I haven’t had this brand of Bai Mu Dan but I have had Wegman’s brand. I thought this tea was very good, especially because I used it with cold water and didn’t actually steep it at all. Just let it sit around for a while in a water bottle then drank it. It has a very sweet floral taste.


Ah, celebration tea! Although mine is a different brand. :) I can definitely recognise a lot in your post, especially the bit about walnuts. I hadn’t thought of that before, but it just hit me when I read it. Of course it has walnut notes in it. :)


@teaplz Urgh, I know. I think I tortured myself into beating the first round of the cafe things, but there’s a point where it gets RIDICULOUS and I just said, “Well…poo on this.”

@Angrboda I can see this being an excellent celebration tea. I rather like it, too!


@takgoti Thanks! :) She’s my mom’s new kitten, actually. She’s the sweetest cat I’ve ever met, but she has such an angry, angry face!

She’s the angry grey one :)


AH! Fluffy kitties! I want to hug them!


Aww! I do like fluffy things!


Awww those are gorgeous! Maine coons?


@Angrboda They are actually Ragamuffins (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ragamuffin_%28cat%29). They’re very similar to Ragdolls, but come in more colors and have a couple other differences (larger eyes, puffier whisker pads, a scooped nose, a rounder forehead, etc). I had always wanted a Ragdoll, but was worried about their health and adopting from a kitty mill or unethical cattery, so I went with the ’Muffin. They are less interbred and the breeders are closely monitored by the breed association. I love Maine Coons too. One of our adopted former-shelter cats is part Maine Coon (probably)…I love pretty much any kitty (or puppy) that is fluffy ;)

@all Fluffy cats + tea = perfection!


Shanti, ah okay. MC is the semi-longhair that I’m most familiar with, but I can’t actually tell them apart, so that’s always my first guess. :) I had an MC and it’s a lovely breed, but I’m so done with semi-longhair. Mine had a deep hatred of brush and comb, so I had the hardest time keeping up with the fur. I’ve decided that if/when I get (hopefully) another cat I really really want a british shorthair. I like the larger breeds and they’re so cute with their round heads. :)

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drank Paris by Harney & Sons
260 tasting notes

First things first, Merry Christmas Steepsterverse! I hope you all enjoyed your yesterdays and/or your this mornings and will continue to be full and happy throughout the day. It’s only 2 PM and I’m already stuffed. Must be holiday times!

As it’s a day for merriment, I’ve decided to break away from my current dive into the backlogs of my tea drinking and log something that I drank this morning. I couldn’t tell you why I haven’t logged Paris before, because it’s a very good tea. I steeped it just in time for present opening, and if something can hold my attention during that madness, you know it has to be good.

I’ve never been to Paris. I would love to, and it’s on the list, but it isn’t something I can check off yet. I guess more specifically I want to go to the French countryside because I’ve heard that people are much friendlier once you get away from the city, but I don’t think I could visit France without spending at least a day or two in Paris. That being said, beyond four-odd years of school French, I have not a clue what makes this tea worthy of being dubbed “Paris.” What I can tell you is this.

It is very flavorful. There are many berry flavors floating around in it, laced with just a hint of bergamot, and this keeps the flavor very “up” and refreshing. I think of a breezy, sunny day on a grassy hill, with nothing between you and the sky while the scent of berry bushes waft coyly in your direction. It’s a wonderful image to be conjured up by a tea. But at the same time that this tea wants to float away like a cherry red balloon against an impossible blue, it’s grounded. And it’s grounded by something warm and familiar, that feels like it’s been around much longer than you have. For me, it wavers somewhere between pipe tobacco and vanilla.

All of this blends together wonderfully in my cup. The taste of the tea is there [I’d say Ceylon, but I’m still relatively new at this picking out black teas game and not too good at it] but it’s a backup singer, not a front man. It’s happy, but it’s not a crazy, ecstatic, wild kind of joy. It’s reserved, perhaps refined – curtailed in just a bit to keep your mind mellow enough to truly appreciate what it is that’s going on in the moment instead of having to look back on things once the euphoria wears off.

It’s easily one of my favorite teas from Harney & Sons, but the flavor is strong and specific enough that I can’t drink it every day. I tend to pull it out when I want something cheery and warm, like when opening up packages with my family around the tree.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

Pipe tobacco and vanilla? That sounds yummy :) I read somewhere that Paris is similar to earl grey & creme mixes, which are my favorite, so I’m excited to try this!


MERRY CHRISTMAS! :D This sounds nommy. Glad you enjoyed something delish while unwrapping those presents!


@Shanti Oh, you should! It’s verra good.

@teaplz MERRY CHRISTMAS to YOU! And yes, it was very much nommy. Had to be sure I’d have something good to sip on when doing something fun!

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One more log and then I think I’ll be ready for sleep. Ah, sleep.

So, here’s another tea that Lena sent to me and I can say with great authority that this is easily the best tea I’ve ever had from Adagio. The smell reminded me very much of the other jasmine teas I frequent – Samovar’s Jasmine Pearl and Harney & Son’s Dragon Pearl Jasmine – which makes sense because…they’re all jasmine teas. Anyhow, I took it to be a good sign and was kind of excited to see how this stood up because of the silver needle aspect.

Here is where things began to fall apart. The jasmine felt heavy, not light and singing. It was almost cloying and tasted slightly artificial. It definitely tasted very much of jasmine, but so much so that I was barely able to pick out the silver needle, and that may only be in my head because I was looking for it so hard. As such, it didn’t have any depth to the flavor. It was Just Jasmine! [Sorry, as I type that, I can’t help but think of Jack from Will & Grace’s one-man show. I wish I could emote jazz-hands.]

I’m very excited to try the keemun she sent to me, because Auggy seems to think very highly of it and Jasmine Silver Needle, though the review does sound rather critical, does slip me a bit of optimism. It’s difficult to get super excited about something when you’ve had something much better. It isn’t that the worser thing is bad, it just isn’t nearly as good, you know? Compared to the rest of what I’ve tried of Adagio’s it’s so much better, though, and so this is why I can see something shimmering in the distance. It could be hope.

170 °F / 76 °C 5 min, 0 sec

I felt much the same about Adagio’s Jasmine Silver Needle. It made me wonder if they’d tried to give it a little oomph by adding Jasmine artificial flavoring.


I think part of the reason I like this one so is that it doesn’t have a green tea base. I’m really picky about what Chinese greens I like – they all seem so salty to me – but I didn’t have to worry about that with this. Of course, afterward I got my grubby little paws on your Samovar Jasmine Pearl and had to downgrade the rating on this one because the Samovar was really good! Part of my love for this is also, when I had it, not having had better (but having had those that were lots worse). The other part is a faint, non-invasive tea base…. Fortunately the Keemun isn’t flavored so it might make you happier. Or not! Either way, I will be around to always to make sure it has a good home. :)


Well, at least it wasn’t as bad as you expected! That’s always a plus, right? :)


@Carolyn Yeah, it kind of reminded me of the artificial jasmine tea you can get in Chinese restaurants sometimes, but a step up from that.

@Auggy I can see that. I’ve definitely had jasmine that’s much, much worse, and this is light years better. I think I’m gonna give the keemun a go today, so I’ll be sure to report in!

@teaplz Hah, I was actually expecting much better things from it, to be honest, because the reviews spoke so well of it. But all in all it’s a pretty solid tea and it’s definitely better than anything else Adagio’s given me, so I’d call it an overall win.

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I just spent a couple of hours wrapping presents in front of a fire and drinking tea, so I’m riding on a post-holiday-activity high right now and need to SIMMA DOWN NAH before I trot off to bed. I figure that cranking out a few more teas from my backlog notes is just a good of a wind down activity as any, so here we go!

Lena and I swapped teas recently [well, she sent me teas in a timely manner; mine just got put in the mail yesterday, sorry Lena!] and this is the first one that I tried because it smelled so good and I thought strawberry shortcake sounded appetizing. Halfway through steeping, I thought to read her log, and I became a little scared that I wasn’t going to like this.

I found myself surprised in a very good way. The strawberries were definitely present in my cup. Distinctly strawberry, too, not unidentified-slightly-tart-fruit-taste which usually indicates the presence of hibiscus. And even more surprisingly, I could taste the little sponge cake, too, specifically the little yellow cups you can buy in a grocery store that come in a cellophane package on a plastic tray. Yes, it’s that specific to me. And even more surprisingly, I got a little hint of cream in the taste.

As a small disclaimer, this did not happen as blatantly as I am making it sound. It is a light, subtle kind of tea, but just strong enough for me to be able to pick out all the flavors. Drinking it quickly would not help with this tea because I mainly was able to get the flavors when I held it in my mouth and swished it around a bit. The strawberries lingered in the aftertaste with that kind of sweet tartness they tend to leave. Also, it is very possible I hit a sweet spot with the water temperature and steep time. I am going to have to try this again to see if I can duplicate the experience.

The tea was also so light that I didn’t go for a second steep. I might experiment later on, but something tells me it wouldn’t hold up well.

Really, this tea was firing on all cylinders. Afterward, I felt like I had just downed a very light, but very good strawberry shortcake. I’m not sure that I’ve ever had a tea that’s supposed to taste like a food item ever replicate it so closely. So thanks, Lena! This made for a very nice cup indeed.

165 °F / 73 °C 4 min, 30 sec

I just joygasmed.

Seriously, that sounds absolutely delicious! TheNecessiteas has been on my “to try” list for a very long time. Mmmm.


It was very good! I’d send you some if I wasn’t going to Scrooge the rest of the sample for myself. Sorry!


HA! I’m glad you liked it…and could taste the strawberries. I might have to take this tea home to experiment, since my office is somewhat limited.
Wrapping gifts and drinking tea is the best. I wish I had a fireplace though…then it would be perfect.


You should! I was very, very pleasantly surprised. [Thank you!] And yes, wrapping presents is my moment of zen. Add drinking tea and I’m approaching nirvana. Fireplaces do help, but tea and wrapping ain’t bad at all.

Also, I think your package arrived today!

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drank Mayan Chocolate Chai by 52teas
260 tasting notes

I am learning to like spicy food. I used to hate it. Wouldn’t touch it. My brother, on the other hand, would put tabasco sauce on baklava if given the opportunity. I distinctly remember a dinner with family friends at a pizza place where he and the son of my parents’ friends drank some of the stuff out of the jar. Disgusting, but I digress.

I still consider myself to be towards the bottom of the curve in terms of appreciating spicy food. I still can’t eat most Indian food without spending the rest of the night in an…unfortunate situation. And anything super spicy will upset my stomach. However, I enjoy stuff with a little kick and the Chai Agni that Carolyn had sent me took me to a very happy place, so I was excited to give this a try.

If you took the heat out of kimchi and put it in a chocolate chai, that is what my experience with this was like. It was hot. Now your definition of hot might differ from my definition of hot, but this was hot enough to drown out any hope for me of getting much else out of it. I could barely taste the chocolate aspect of it, and the spices from the chai were completely gone.

It could be that I happened to get a particularly large proportion of pepper in it, and I really hope that’s what happened, but that experience has scared me off of trying this again for a while. I mean, it was so spicy I knew it was going to make my stomach very, very angry if I didn’t stop drinking it so I had to dump the lot. If you want to make yourself sad, spend a good 20 minutes making chai and then make yourself pour most of it down the sink. I’ll give it another try once the scar of the spice has cooled down significantly enough. For now, I can only recommend this to someone who finds the idea of chocolate kimchi appealing.


Oooh, I actually hate kimchi. Not the hotness aspect, but the cabbage aspect. So I think that sounds kinda gross. Although I’m sure it doesn’t taste like cabbage… right? :O


And that was made with milk? YIKES! I can only imagine how hot it would have been made with just water! Eeep!

East Side Rob

Spicy food is good for you. As long as it hurts you know you’re still alive. It’s when everything stops hurting and you’re overcome by this overwhelming sense of calm, that’s when you should really start worrying. That’s usually a sign that you’re dead. People dressed in black weeping over your prone body — also not a good sign. But if spicy food hurts, not to worry.


Oh, boo. :( Maybe if you just steep it with hot water the spices won’t be as strong? I’m guessing they put in ridiculous pepper so that some of it would come out in steeping and still be strong enough for milk. So then when you come all up in here with your stovetop methods, the pepper is like “nah, man”.

Wow. That started out so coherently, too. T__T


@teaplz Thankfully, no. I don’t think I’m ready to drink liquid kimchi. Nor do I think I’ll be ready for that…ever.

@Auggy I know! I took the first sip and had to let a big fat WTF fly.

@East Side Rob Point taken. Will need to eat spicy food more regularly to make sure I am still among the living.

@Hyrulehippie Hrm. I steep my chai in water before I add the milk. Maybe next time I’ll drain the water into a bowl to get the chai out and then pour that back into the pot before I add the milk. I’m hoping that it was just a bad spoonful, though, because that would make life a lot easier for me. [And HAH! It made sense to me…]


I love kimchi (and adore Indian and Pakistani lemon pickles). I do think that chocolate and hot spices should be blended in such a way as to compliment each other. Sorry this one didn’t work for you. It still looks fascinating to me, but it is clearly not going to be a tea to give my beloved since he’s very sensitive to spices (similar problems to you with his delicate stomach).


Perhaps a palate that is more accustomed to spicy spicy spicy will find this tea more enjoyable. All this talk about it has calmed me to the idea of giving it another go, so I might do it tomorrow. If it’s still too much for me I’d be happy to send you the rest!

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Right. At this point, Adagio has whipped my pumpkin pie tea expectations into a frenzy, so I am going to put a caveat on this rating in that it is extremely likely to change after I experiment a little bit more with this tea.

When I think pumpkin pie, I think rich, thick, and creamy, with sweet buttery crust. Does this tea live up to that? No, it does not. But it DOES have a discernible pumpkin taste, and given that achieving that seems to be notoriously difficult in the world of tea flavors, I must give it props.

The first time I tried this, I was pretty disappointed because it was kind of bitter, but the water was a teensy bit hotter [like 205] and I had let it sit a little bit longer [4:45 ish] so that could account for it. I also tried adding milk to it that first time, but it drowned out any flavor I was able to get out of it, so I steered clear of it on the second go round. The second time it still had some bitterness to it, but the pumpkin flavor was much more apparent. It reminded me of a pumpkin soup I had at a restaurant one time, though not nearly as creamy.

I might try to fix this up chai style eventually, but let’s be honest, that probably won’t happen for a while because I have too much other tea I want to get at. I also think that before I can truly appreciate a pumpkin flavored tea I need to work at scaling down my expectations. Actually, you know what? I’m going to leave the rating off of it this time and save that for when I’ve spent some quality time with this one. I’m feeling distracted at the moment and not solid enough on my opinion of this to rate it definitively.

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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drank Dragonwell by Adagio Teas
260 tasting notes

Right. I think I’ve been entirely spoiled by the phenomenal nature of Dream About Tea’s Dragonwell Spring, but this tastes like sewage now. I mean, not that pungent, but…sewage light? Essence of sewage?

I’m taking liberties a bit here, but it really is not pleasant. I subsequently had to give the rating a hearty knock down. For whatever reason, maybe because I just wanted to rid the sample from my collection, I spent a good portion of a studying day steeping this at different times and temperatures, to no avail. I became so consumed, actually, that physics had to sit on the back burner whilst I traveled a range of temperatures from 130 to 190. At each new temperature I took fresh batch of leaves and let them sit. Took the leaves out around 3:00 minutes, tried to drink it, then resteeped them once just to be sure. All I got nothing more than a variety of different intensities of the taste of dirty water. Almost soapy. It reminds me of when I was at camp and we jumped in the lake and I accidentally swallowed some water. It’s just less…silty. Actually, it really reminds me of the taste of lukewarm pool water.

If you’re wondering what’s up with the anal methodology here, it’s because I feel like I’m getting to the point where I’m going on autopilot with Adagio in terms of the quality of their tea on my internal scale and I wanted to be sure I was giving them a fair shake. I went to the point of sipping out the cup while the leaves were in the infuser to make sure that I wasn’t missing out on some some magical steep time on the way to 3 minutes. Unfortunately, all the happened was that the salty, soapy taste got stronger.

What’s frustrating is that the smell of the wet leaves, and even the tea itself steaming in the cup, was making me think I could have hit it right at some points, but it was misses all over the place. A good cup of this was the dartboard and I had put several hundred holes in the wall.

I think that this is a suitable place to add that I made a rather horrifying [and yet…comforting?] discovery while I was away from Steepster. Part of my 52 teas order included a Taylor thermometer [about that time, eh chaps?] and upon the first few uses, I discovered that Adagio’s UtiliTEA is wildly inaccurate. I mean, to the tune of 20 degrees variance on the same dial setting. Could be that mine’s defective, but needless to say I won’t be recommending it to anyone anymore. Things that I noticed were that the cooler temperatures occurred when the water level was higher [made sense] but that the temperature inaccuracies occurred more often at the higher temperature settings [didn’t really make sense]. A number of times, when it was set to boil, it would give me water at 180 degrees, and that’s just ridiculous.

This is comforting to me only because it means that my oscillating opinion of black teas is likely directly correlated with the faulty kettle. For reasons I cannot determine, when put into the green range it only seems to vary around 10-15 degrees, and more often than not medians around an acceptable temperature. I don’t get it either, but what I can say is that I only really use the utiliTEA anymore when I need a lower water temperature and I know I can heat it above the desired temperature and cool it if necessary. To be safe, I tested the thermometer on water off the stove and any error in reading it may be experiencing appears to be negligible. It’s definitely the kettle.

So, I guess that’s a partial danger of discovering a new relative high on the spectrum of your awareness of anything. Things that sufficed can be demoted to the status of “only if desperate” and things that were mediocre at best can plummet to the depths of the red yucky face. I am not going to list a steep time or a water temperature because there were so many. And I’m going to leave this at one entry because I don’t want to spam you guys with the nuances of dishwater that I got from the varying trials. Dirty dishwater will suffice enough, I think. After using up almost the entirety of my sample, I had to toss the rest. I couldn’t willingly subject someone else to it, nor justify the cost of shipping to send it anywhere else other than the trash can.

There is really only one other tea that I can claim to vehemently dislike this much, and I hope that this one is the last. In any case, I can say without hesitation that I do not like this tea.


I feel ya. Adagio’s Dragonwell was the second one I’d ever had (and the first one was even worse, if you can believe it) and I was scared off of Dragonwell for a good year and a half. A&D’s DFT Dragonwell is the only other one I’ve tried since then and thankfully it didn’t make me want to pour it out. I even liked it.


I have sniffed mine and not tried it. Now I’m probably going to have to try it, and I’ll probably hate it. Whee!

I was skeptical when I bought my Zojirushi. I don’t want to use plastics anywhere in contact with my hot water, ever…though I think the only plastic the water really comes into contact with in it is the nozzle it dispenses from. I thought the ‘new plastics getting warm’ smell would not go away…but…it has. And it is pretty awesome. I recommend it.


I feel that dragonwell is definitely not a very good first or second foray into green tea. If you are a beginner and want to try a good green tea that wont scare you off I would suggest genmaicha. I know you’re over there saying but genmaicha is not strictly tea. Well yes it isn’t, but if you want to not be scared away by green tea it is a pleasant first way to go. I don’t drink too many Chinese green teas, but to me dragonwell was just kind of blah.


<3 my Zojirushi. So hard.


@auggy I enjoyed A&D’s Dragonwell, too. Though not as much as that Dragonwell Spring! May need to try both of them in succession tomorrow just to play around with temperatures.

@sophistre Don’t let my opinion on the Dragonwell sway you too terribly; there are people who enjoy this one! This was just too horrible to me not to write about. I’ve definitely been rooting around for a new degree setting heater, so thanks for your testimony on the Zojirushi! I shall add a tally mark in my little book.

@Fred Sorry, no newbie here. I’m no expert but I’d definitely not consider myself to be a beginner. I’ve had what I consider to be a sizeable enough number of greens to have some footing in the region of both Chinese and Japanese greens, and the beginning of my review stated that I’ve recently-ish been introduced to a Dragonwell that was through the roof good. This one has, partially as a result of that, partially because I didn’t like it terribly to begin with, fallen into the bowels of the under 10 rating.


Look what you’ve done, I’m looking at a zojirushi now and it looks like a pretty Asian rice cooker. Okay, I meant design wise. You know what! I’m going to stick with my $40 water kettle that burns 1500 watts of power and continue my gestimates :D


Zojirushi does make rice cookers so I bet there’s a reason for the similarity!
But it is so awesome. Even more awesome than my (Tiger) rice cooker. And I love my rice cooker.


Those Zojirushis sure as expensive! Definitely not in my price range right now… I don’t even really know what I’m looking at. I’m way behind on these tea gadgety things.

Yay, the infamous Dragonhell review has arrived! DRAGONHELL. That’s right. ‘Cause that’s what this is, apparently. I trust your opinion on this, tak-tak. You’ve definitely tried tons of greens, so there’s no need to drink a sub-par Dragonhell. Especially when there’re way better ones out there that you’ve tried (i.e. Dream About Tea’s version). Nobody can accuse you of not giving it your all, though! Srsly, you tried with this mess. I applaud you for the effort!


@Takgoti Sorry I didn’t think you were a newbie. I guess I may have implied that. I was just speaking of newbies in general to green tea. I apologize.


I really enjoyed the Dragonwell I got from a local shop. I used up the whole sample but I can maybe send you a bit when I buy more (and I definitely will!)


@teaplz Zojirushis are a pretty penny but totally worth it. I love mine, which I got through Amazon.com – keep an eye out, they pop up in the Gold Box deals every once in a while.

I can’t remember if I’ve ever had the Dragonwell from Adagio. But I don’t think so – seems that if I had, I’d remember, based on the comments here!


Is it possible you were just having a bad day? I had a month of drinking nothing but one type of first flush darjeeling and although I loved it at the start, I was sick of it at the end. I also sometimes feel like one tea more than another, and the weather, or the food you have it with, or what you’re doing when you have it. I say wait until a nice sunny day and see if you prefer it then. Just an idea (but don’t shoot me down too hard, I’m very busy being earnestly grumpy today)


@Fred No worries.

@Jillian Oooh, nice! I could be down with that! I think that I could be ready for another tea swap in mid to late January?

@Grinnyguy I’d almost like to think so, but no. I’ve had this a few times now [meaning on completely different occasions – I don’t log tea every time I drink it] and there was nothing remarkably different about the taste between this one and the ones then. If I’m sitting down to taste a tea I do it when I’m not eating and I’m usually not doing much else besides sitting there and drinking the tea for the exact reasons that you stated – external factors can really influence how I’m feeling about something if I let them. The real thing that so deflated my opinion of it was the introduction of a new, far, far, far superior dragonwell to my palate. I do appreciate your playing devil’s advocate, but unfortunately I don’t think I can pen this one down to simply having a bad tea day. [Consequently, I hope you enjoyed your grumpy day for what it was worth and have now shook them out for a while. We all need those days periodically.]


Fair enough, as long as you’ve given it a chance. I feel much better after getting the grump out of my system thanks. Have a wonderful christmas


Mid to late January sounds good, by then I’ll have all my Christmas tea too. ;)
Email is: [email protected]

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drank Yuzu Sencha by Samovar
260 tasting notes

I had plans for tomorrow. I was going to go to the beach for a few days and be ridiculously delirious about finals being over and FINALLY getting to hang out with my friends again, but alas, this has been completely dashed by the fact that we have been graced with no fewer than 14 inches of snow in the past day and a half.

Another part of the plans involved going to bed at a decent hour so I could wake up to make the drive to aforementioned beach, but since it isn’t going to happen I thought to myself, “Self, why don’t you go get caught up on Steepster?” And since my sleeping schedule is already completely SNAFU’d by finals, I just spend an extraordinary amount of time reading your tea notes and nearly getting back in sync with my beautiful Steepsterites. [I told myself I’d get to “3 days ago” and by the chariot of Hades I have done it!] I might even be completely caught up by the end of tomorrow, which is pretty insane. Sorry for the ATTAK. It had to be done.

Right, so yuzu sencha. This is a newer tea from Samovar, [who coincidently just got a slew of even newer teas in that you can bet I will be ordering because if I don’t a kitten will die] and I’ll admit that at first I was a little dubious when I took the first sip.

I shouldn’t have been worried, though. The dry leaves have a strong, juicy scent to them [it reminds me of this Japanese gum a friend gave me once] but this is simply a subtle tea. The flavors grew on me as my tongue became more accustomed to it. The yuzu flavor is clean and bright, and I thought it paired exceedingly well with the roasty, vegetal, almost creamy notes of the sencha. [For those unfamiliar with yuzu, it is a citrus fruit. Something I’d pin down between a lime and a grapefruit, tastewise.]

Sometimes, the yuzu sings through the sencha clearly, making for a refreshing sensation, but again, this tea is pretty light overall. It could be because of the very short steep time, so I might try playing around with that a bit, but this reads as delicate to me and I fear oversteeping it. If the yuzu were stronger, I also think it could be overpowering. It’s rather precariously balanced, but for me it works very well.

This is not going to be a drink every day tea for me because of the yuzu, but it could very well be an every third day tea. Or an alternate thursdays and dates containing multiples of five tea. It offers a flavor profile that is new to me, yet holds back from being a novelty kind of tea because the sencha grounds it.

I know, I know, you all are thinking, “What’s new? She likes another Samovar tea.” But I tell you, people, when I dislike a Samovar tea, I will log it as such!

Blerg, it is now late enough to be considered early morning and yet I am not tired. The aftermath of finals, it appears, continue to haunt me still. I will laugh at them by continuing to be on Steepster until I become sleepy. What’s the point of celebrating life if you can’t sleep until late afternoon, I ask you?

160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 30 sec

Yay! Ur baaaaaaack! Missed u girl!


Thank you! I missed you!


I know! I’m in NC, and the snow was crazy here, too. In fact, I haven’t left the house since Friday because of all the snow still on the roads… I guess I’ll be ordering tea as holiday presents rather than going to the mall. :)


I MISSED YOUR LOGS. They’re so awesome. Seriously. You’re one of the funniest people on here, and your descriptions are vivid!



@laurenpressley Seriously! I guess it’s all up and down the coast. Hope you’re staying safe! I am remaining indoors, thankyouverymuch.

@teaplz psthatisincrediblysweetiheartyou.

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drank Four Seasons by Samovar
260 tasting notes

The scene in Shawshank Redemption where Andy Dufresne comes crawling out of the tunnel into the rain.

That is me today. Crawling through foot after foot, yard after yard, of metaphorical sewage to reach the cleansing downpour of sweet, sweet FREEDOM.


At least until mid-January, when the whole process starts anew. But for now, I am going to savor this unadulterated sense of not needing to do…anything. I have big, big plans for winter break, part of which include trying to catch up with what I’ve been missing on this site [I can’t even fathom how long that’s going to take] and inundating you with tea logs [FUN FOR YOU]. Because yes, in true tea dork fashion, I TOOK NOTES when I knew I wasn’t going to be able to write logs on here. If you would have told me a few years ago that I would be jotting down things to remember about a tea in a moleskine so that I could semi-accurately log it later, I would have laughed at you. Just laughed and laughed and laughed. And then apologized, and then probably laughed some more.

So, after being released from my last final of the semester, I turned the kettle on and began an impromptu dance party. Some Ting Tings, a little Modeselektor, a bit of La Roux, a slice of Roisin Murphy and an Under the Influence of Giants track later, I was drinking this tea and laughing madly. Partially because I was so giddy with being finished with school, and partially because of the enormous lack of sleep I have had these past few weeks.

There are very few teas that I would reach for in lieu of this in such a moment of intense celebration. I luckily got my Samovar package in the mail right before studying for finals commenced in earnest, so I replenished my stash of Four Seasons and I drank a fair amount of it while trying to cram every bit of information I could into my already bursting at the seams brain.

It is, far and away, beyond a shadow of a doubt, four monkeys on top of a giraffe, my favorite oolong. It is buttery, and washes into a lightly floral finish as it progresses through the steeps. I will admit that is more expensive than other oolongs I have chanced upon, but considering that I get about 5 cups on the regular [more if I’m feeling patient] from it, it ends up being not that bad.

It is a tea that just makes my inner being sigh and melt into a daze of pleasant complacency. Delicious, intricate, complex, and balanced. Coupled with the unshackling of my SOUL, it made for a singularly fantastic afternoon. [It also motivated me to spend a couple of hours cleaning my car.] I cannot think of anything that would have been more appropriate.

So, brace yourself Steepster. Hide your children and iron your pants, because I’M BACK!

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec



irons pants s great to see you back. :D


And half my comment disappeared. Again. Apparently Steepster doesn’t like it when I draw arrows like this <—-


WHEEE! YUMMY TEA AND HAPPINESS. re finished and back among the living and sane and drinking tea! :D Missed having you around, tak-tak. Srsly.


Whooo! The Return of Takgoti!!!!! XD


Sheeee’s Baaaaaaccck (ominous tone). UTIOG FTW


YAY! Go to see you again!


Congratulations. I have always said the best days are full of get-to’s, not have-to’s. Hope you have many over your holidays.


Welcome back! Can’t wait to see what you’ve been sipping on. Already this review has me ready to buy more tea! Technically I guess I should be dreading the slew of tasting notes that are incoming, but…who am I kidding?


P.S. I LOVE SHAWSHANK. Just thought I needed to get that out there. But I think we’ve discussed this before. :P


welcome back! always glad to read your notes. ps: i <3 utiog.


Welcome back!! Great re-introduction. Officially shop’listed. Prepping an epic Samovar order for the new year…


@Mike, I’m doing the same. They’ve been on my list for some time!


@Auggy BOOKOOYASHA! [Sorry, they were saying that on Top Chef and I’ve been itching to say it all day.]

@Angrboda Haha, that’s happened to me as well. Anyhow, thank you! De-wrinkling FTW!

@teaplz Aw, I missed being around, teepee! [Blerg, I cannot think of anything as cute as tak-tak. I really love that. I’ll work on it and get back to you.] Oh, and Brooks was here. So was Red.

@Jillian Coming to a theatre near you in 2072.

@Jason Heeeeere’s takgoti! UTIOG FTW INDEED.

@TeaEqualsBliss Thank you! Good to see you too!

@gmathis That’s fantastic. I see myself using that phrase a bunch in the future. I hope you have a lot of them as well!

@sophistre Thank you so much! And hehehehehe I drank a LOT of tea, so dread away!

@Laura That gives me warm fuzzies! I absolutely love your avatar, by the way. [And utiog is one of those bands that can make me happy in almost any given situation, so when I’m ALREADY elated it just gets ridiculous.]

@Mike Danke! EXCELLENT. Samovar just came out with a BUNCH OF NEW TEAS, too, so I expect my next order is going to be epic as well.

@Bethany WOOHOO! I love domino-ing Samovar love! It gives me much pleasure.

You all rock. Thank you for making a girl feel loved! I’m about to dash to try to finish my shopping but I foresee much Steepster activity in my future.


@Bethany, cool! I was partially persuaded by ms. takgoti’s constant raving but also this video: http://money.cnn.com/video/smallbusiness/2009/08/25/sbiz_tips_samovar_tea.smb/

OK…it was mostly Takgoti’s fault…


That’s it! Anyone else wanna take a field trip to SF????


@Auggy Would love to, but that’s waaaay outta my budget….would make it the most expensive tea around for me. :D

East Side Rob

And to think that my wife and I were getting nostalgic about our college days. Thanks for slapping us back to reality. Kinda like a good Assam in the morning.

I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

Yay! You’re back! I’ve missed your tealogs (and you).


@Mike I only do it because I love them so. You will understand soon.

@Auggy YES PLS.

@East Side Rob It’s what I do.

@chrine Aw, hugs! Prepare yourself for the onslaught, I’m about to start diving into what people have been up to. Your dashboard shall be stormed. To quote one of my favorite movies, “At my signal, UNLEASH HELL.”


RE: Samovar

They have the ryokucha, finally. I have been waiting and checking. If you are out, or you have also been waiting, then…probably now is the time to storm the gates. ;)

Also? Reading the blurb for a specific tea on their site, I found myself totally in love with the flavor profile described, only to discover as I was about to click that it would cost me $250.00 for 1.41oz of tea. I don’t know about you guys, but I can’t help but feel that my lifelong love of spicy foods has resulted in a palate that will never, ever be able to properly appreciate the value of quality to quantity that price tag is describing. ;)


Ah, yes. I like to bug Samovar’s owner via email every now and then and he mentioned that their out of stock issue with teas should be more or less cleared up by 2010. Not necessarily that they’ll have everything available all the time, but that they should have either the small can or the large can in stock for teas pretty consistently.

And haha yeah, the Inoka Hill? It’s more affordable in the lounge because you can just get it by the “cup” [though still not inexpensive]. My understanding is that if you don’t really like gyokuros or aren’t very accustomed to Japanese greens, you’ll want to stay away until you are. It’s very strong. I guess it’s similar to trying a super aged pu-erh before getting your palate used to pu-erhs. It’s kind of a waste and unlikely that you’ll enjoy it.

Anyhow, it tickles me so to see more people looking into Samovar! They truly are my favorite tea company. The Ryokucha should be in stock for a while. [Watch it sell out tomorrow.] Fingers crossed, it won’t disappear again anytime soon if at all!


You have me looking into Samovar as well now! All those tealogs / reviews about it, argh. I took a look at it and the ryokucha caught my eye even before I saw you guys posting about it. Samovar doesn’t offer samplers =(, oh if only…


Shh… You may be getting your wish soon.


Haha, have you become their number one customer? ;D


HAH, no, I just like to poke at Jesse with questions from time to time and he is kind enough to answer me.


Maybe I should get you to harass them about better International shipping fees more often. ;D


@Jillian Haha, all I can tell you is that they’re aware of how they rate against other companies and are doing what they can to lower costs. Not much else I can do on my end, unfortunately!


First. Love La Roux! I discovered her at some point in September and listened to her all semester. Go team!

And I desperately need to get more tea…. I’ll have to see if I can get my hands on some of this oolong.


@Micah She’s pretty amazing. I am in love with her eponymous album. And if you get nothing else from Samovar, you should get Four Seasons. I am that dead serious in love with it.

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Former coffeeist, turned teaite. Lover of writing, reading, photography, and music. Traveler of life. Known to be ridiculous on occasion.


Virginia, USA



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