260 Tasting Notes

drank Irish Breakfast by Adagio Teas
260 tasting notes

Lena tea, take two.

I brewed this much shorter this time around, and I think the results suited me much better. The bitterness of the previous attempt was absent this time around, and though I probably should have tried a full cup without adding anything, I had already gotten the sugar and the milk out and yadda yadda yadda…

Anyhow, I got a kind of salty note in the first few sips, which was a little strange, but it went away. Then I started to get a cardboard/wafer-like taste from it. At this point, I poured in a bit of milk and added about a half teaspoon of sugar and gave it a stir. I might try adding a little bit less next time, or perhaps re-upping the steeping time, because the milk was mainly what I was tasting. There was, however, a nice undercurrent of black tea flavor to it that I found enjoyable.

About halfway through the cup, the tea began to hint at caramel flavor, though it never quite got there. I think that if the milk hadn’t been in it this would have been the malt kicking in – the milk made it taste richer and creamier, unsurprisingly.

I’m looking forward to playing around with this tea. I think I’ll try it straight with a 2 minute steep time and at a longer steep time with milk and sugar. Luckily, Lena sent me enough for me to perform extensive experimentation! For now, this tea deserves a solid rating.

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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drank Snow Buds (Xue Ya) by Rishi Tea
260 tasting notes

I recently discovered a wealth of Rishi tea in my local Wegmans, which made me really happy. I grabbed this and ran before I could convince myself to buy more.

This is quite possibly the strongest unflavored white tea I have ever had. The flavors involved are mostly light, but it’s definitely not weak. That could also be because I used a lot of tea [Rishi recommends 1 tablespoon per 8 oz. water].

It reminds me a lot of Ancient Emerald Lily, actually. It’s got the grassy, nutty, and roasty notes that I keep on talking about in a lot of these green tea logs because I lack creativity and an experienced enough palate to pull much more out of the flavors. The difference between this and a tea like Ancient Emerald Lily, however, is that the sweetness in this soars upwards – like that nearly sharp smell of freshly cut grass. It reminds me, in a way, of the high sweetness of honeydew melon.

In fact, yes. That’s the difference. Honeydew Melon : Snowbuds :: Sweet Corn : Ancient Emerald Lily.

It’s an enjoyable tea, and I think it could become a good staple tea for me if it weren’t so similar to AEL. In the battle between those two, I think that AEL wins out, though time and experience may change that.

185 °F / 85 °C 5 min, 30 sec
Gingko (manager of Life in Teacup)

I miss Wegmans so much! There isn’t Wegman’s in MA.


Love me some Wegmans tea, gotta go back :D


Hehe, Wegmans is made of some pretty hefty win.

@Gingko – tell them you demand a Massachusetts location! Can’t hurt! http://twitter.com/wegmans


Now that I’m a big fan of Rishi, I have to look at the selection at Wegman’s with new eyes :)

Gingko (manager of Life in Teacup)

Yeah I will try to push them. I think I still keep my Wegman card, in case I travel to a Wegman region :D Webman is a family business and may not come to MA soon. But it’s exactly what’s great about Wegman. They don’t have to sacrifice their food standards for stock market performance.


@JacquelineM I was shocked at how much of their stuff they carry!

@Gingko Here’s hoping!

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drank Marco Polo by Mariage Frères
260 tasting notes

Feeling inspired by JacquelineM’s post the other day, I decided to give this a try with sugar and milk. I almost always do my tea straight because milk and I don’t always get along so well in the morning and it’s carried through into my tea habits throughout the day. However, I am slowly learning that sometimes adding a dash of something can help bring out and bolster flavors in ways I could never imagine a tea capable of achieving so thoroughly.

This is a tea that I can firmly say that, for me, benefitted from additives.

Strawberries and I don’t always see eye to eye, because quite often they can be too tart for my liking. But, dress them up with some freshly whipped, lightly-sweetened cream and a warmed, spongey shortcake and I will nom that shizz regardless.

With a short tilt of cream and a shake of sugar, this tea boarded the train in Berryville and got off in the Hamlet of Strawberry Shortcake. The heavy richness from the cream swirled around the lightness of the strawberry and the sugar lifted the tartness just a smidge, but not enough to make it taste fake. And somehow, somewhere in there I was definitely getting that distinct flavor of those little bowl-shaped store-bought sponge cakes that are sweet with a bit of roughness and breadiness to them.

I never liked that Nestle Quik Strawberry Milk stuff, or even strawberry milkshakes, but this is like what I think would happen if Strawberry Quik grew up. Get outta here, cartoon rabbit.

I’m very happy to know now that I can get two distinctly strawberry tasting, though different, versions of this tea – one for lighter fare and one when I’m seeking out the richer fulfillment of strawberry shortcake. It’s especially lovely now, as I am a bit past indulging in winter and ready for the sunnier landscape of spring. Jumping into summer for a spell doesn’t feel unwanted.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

“nom that shizz” – i LOVE your way with words. :D


Hehe, thanks! It’s how I roll.


I’m glad you enjoyed it with cream and sugar too :)


Love this one – and I gotta try this one with sugar and milk now!


That’s it. I don’t tend to doctor my tea up. At all. But for this, I just might. Put a little Very Vanilla Silk in there… a sprinkle of sugar… I can see it working out.


@JacquelineM I might not have tried it had it not been for your log, so thanks!

@Auggy @teaplz Seriously worth it!


Between this and @JacquelineM’s notes, I am going to have to move this tea up my list of teas to buy!!


If I had enough left I’d send some your way, but I’m nearly out of it! It’s worth the slightly heavier price tag, in my opinion.


Aww, thanks for even thinking of it! Seriously, though, with all the great reviews, I need to get a container of it. :)

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I got this from Micah in a tea swap, and I’m not really sure what to say about it.

It was very bland.

I had enough to try a couple of cups, and I did one at the recommended 195F and one at a lower temperature of 165F. I tried resteeping for longer times to no effect. Both of them tasted like pallid reflections of what the I think the tea is supposed to taste like. Barely-there floral, washed out sweetness.

Ultimately, it felt like someone had Scrooged the flavoring in the tea. It felt like I was drinking hot water.

I’m sorry, I can type Scrooge without thinking about Scrooge McDuck. And then I think of Duck Tales. Life is like a hurricaaaaane, here in Duckberg.

And before I go off on a very distracting youtube search for my favorite cartoon theme songs, I will say that I can’t recommend this tea.


195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 sec

I now have a mashup of Chip&Dale/Duck Tales/Talespin theme songs running through my head. It’s very “Chi-Chi-Chi-Chip and Dale! Ohh-e-oh (…duckberg!) Ohh-e-oh (…when there’s danger!)” Those were my FAVORITES (post TMNT of course). Thank you for that :)


Oh my god. Someone must make a formal mash-up of these if it hasn’t been done already. Immediately!

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drank Darjeeling Tea by Golden Moon Tea
260 tasting notes

GM Sampler | Tea 6 of 31

Darjeeling | http://bit.ly/cHh5kY
Toutes les Choses | http://bit.ly/cHWS3X

This tasted like darjeeling, which means that it was bitter for me. Whenever I get a black tea that has this high, sharp, bitter taste to it with a fruity fwip of flavor afterwards, my brain goes to darjeeling now. A former round with a sample of SerendipiTea’s Darjeeling Autumnal from Auggy taught me that if I hit the right parameters [although it could have partially been the tea itself] darjeeling doesn’t have to equal BITTER, but this one had it. It wasn’t as loud as I tend to get with Darjeelings, but it was there.

As it cools, as I’ve come to expect, the bitterness falls back and the sweetness comes forward. Then that grape taste that I’ve come to identify as the muscatel is much more apparent in the tea; not just on my breath or in the aftertaste. I probably would have been tempted to wait and drink the whole thing cooled, but IT IS COLD HERE, Y’ALL.

So the moral of the story is that this was decent, but I won’t be ordering it. I probably should have steeped it shorter to compensate for my apparent sensitivity to bitterness in tea, but I used the packet up and reading the other reviews doesn’t make me think I missed out on anything phenomenal. There’s really not much else to say, as it was relatively straightforward.

[Sorry, I couldn’t resist doing it one time. Here’s the actual Darjeeling picture: http://bit.ly/bIf03p .]

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec

lovin’ the pics! And reviews of course…stay warm – and safe!

Gingko (manager of Life in Teacup)

I also notice from some black tea nd darker oolong that when they cools down, the flavor is very different from when they were hot. Sometimes there is more interesting taste when it’s cold. I am still wondering why it is so!


@TeaEqualsBliss Thank you! I’m wearing socks to bed!

@Gingko I have no idea if this is true, but I think that for me sometimes when a tea is hot it blocks my tongue from being able to sense flavors. It’s like the heat is metaphorically blinding it to some things, almost. Sometimes the flavors that open up to me when a tea cools aren’t pleasant, though!

Miss Sweet

Love love love the photos!


Today i was tasting (am tasting) Darjeelings for the first time with careful tongue, and I just finish saying to my wife what you described – letting the tea sit after brewing brought forward a sweetness.

I love your photos, but seriously… Rick Rolling? There will be vengeance!



@Miss Sweet Thank you!

@Heyes Hehehe, if I didn’t do it at least once I’d be a bad geek. I totally thought you were going to reference this http://steepster.com/sophistre/posts/21199#comments and then I clicked.

I LOVE ELMO!!! http://bit.ly/ayOu4S


LOL! I thought he was too…

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drank Irish Breakfast by Adagio Teas
260 tasting notes

I got some of this from ever-awesome Lena in a swap and I decided to start my morning off with it. However, I’m going to have to leave a rating off of it because my morning also involved reading for a class and, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to pay very much attention to the tea.

I’m going to try it at a shorter steep time next go round because this was a little bitter for me. It had a slight smokiness to it and an even slighter sweetness at the finish. In some aspects, it nearly reminded me of coffee, but the flavor wasn’t as full and it didn’t have that roasted quality that I usually get from coffee. I also didn’t get any maltiness from it, which I was expecting to at least get a hint of.

But anyway, this could all be for nought because I really wasn’t doing a good job of paying attention and, let’s be real, if acoustical wave forms are actually able to hold my attention in the morning I need to let that ride.

What I can say with certainty is that the caffeine didn’t take very long to kick in and I was feeling antsy before long, which began to disrupt my reading kick a bit so I didn’t finish the cup. Caffeine jitters and being snowed in do not mix very well – especially when you’ve been cooped up in the house for almost a week.

No, wait, it’s actually been a full week now. I have literally been stuck in the house for an entire week. Our street still hasn’t been plowed. The tea I was supposed to get in two days ago has been delayed yet again because of “adverse weather conditions” [this being the order that includes my greatly anticipated Caramelized Pear]. Steepsterites, I am going to lose my mind if these roads do not become drivable very soon.

So thanks for the tea, Lena! Sorry this entry bites pretty hard. I’ll try to get some better thoughts down next time. In the interim, have some snow pictures.

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 30 sec

Sorry about the weather! For some reason, Cambridge hasn’t been hit at all, except for a little rain yesterday.


Oooh, hooray for photos with punchy colors! The palettes in your shots are always such eye candy. Hope you get a chance to wander out of the cave soon though!


@TeaEqualsBliss Doing my best!

@Shanti Yeah, it’s pretty, but a bit of a bummer as the plows are too tied up to do a lot of the residential areas. Too much snow – no place to put it! Government’s been shut down a few days…craziness.

@sophistre Thanks so much! I like color, so I usually end up overcompensating a tad in post-processing. Hee. I hope I get to escape, too, for the sake of my dwindling mental health!


Oh noes, it snows! Just break out some boots and a thick coat and go out for a walk, girl! ;P


I know what your going through. Here in Maine we have had many storms like you have experienced over the past week. Stay in and drink more tea. We didn’t get any snow at all from the storms and we are equipped to deal with it. Go figure.


(I was calling us “Steepers”)
Now you begin to learn why New Englanders are crazy, grouchy, and hospitably in the strangest of ways. We get a whole of of weather, hot cold, wet, dry, all crazy.

Glad you had some company to keep you less crazy.


Awww…it’s ok. You stay safe and warm inside. If you aren’t opposed to it, adding some milk and sugar to this one is pretty tasty.


@Jillian Oh, I have! Trust. Broke out some boots that were made for stomping. Even went sledding with the kids the other day. It’s just not the same! http://bit.ly/c1CgFN

@Dan Haha! I think that this article hilariously sums up how well we deal with snow. http://bit.ly/a5lDYm

@Heyes Haha, Steepsterites, Steepers, Steeps, Steepsters…I think they all work! Maybe we can start four very confusingly named gangs. When you’re a Steep, you’re a Steep all the way. And the New England weather is exactly why I’m not planning on moving any farther North than here. And it gets too muggy for me in the South. Guess I’ll have to go out West! OH WELL!

@Shanti HAHAHA you just got my giggle of the day.


@LENA Thanks, I’ll do that! Maybe I’ll do that now, actually.

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I got this tea from Jillian and decided to steep it in my Sorapot.

[It was very pretty – I’ll need to take pictures next time.]

First off, one of the things that I absolutely love is the short steep time, because it means that I don’t have to wait that long in between cups. I got a pretty good rhythm going, lengthening the steep time by maybe 15 seconds or so on each subsequent cup, stopping at four. I could have gone longer, I suspect, because the flavor wasn’t weakening for me – a very good sign.

This tea was buttery, with some sweetness that sashayed around and swished through the aftertaste. At times, it had a very pronounced vegetal quality to it, which is something that I’m somewhat indifferent on. For me, it didn’t stick around consistently, and I consider that to be a saving quality. It had a darkness that colored the flavor of the tea, which keeps me from wanting to compare this to a Formosan Oolong since it had some similar qualities.

Overall, I found it wholly enjoyable, so thanks for sending this to me, Jillian! I look forward to many steeps in my future.

190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 45 sec

How are you handling the sora pot with the leaves and the water amounts and the steep time, and such?


Yay, I’m glad you like! _


Sorapot! Sooooo jealous!!! LOL :P Neat review – as always!


TeaEqualsBliss, it’s time for you to purchase a sorapot from the steepster select =P


@sophistre I handle it pretty much like I handle everything else. I just measure out the leaves and drop them into the glass tube, then close it up and pour the water in through the spout when it’s ready. I have a little glass pitcher that I bought from Samovar that have my thermometer in. I’ve figured out that the top of the handle in the pitcher is about 10 oz., so I pour it in there and wait for it to reach the correct temperature if I need to and then pour it into the Sorapot. Steep times don’t change.

@Jillian It was really good! I’m excited to finish it off!

@TeaEqualsBliss Haha, thank you! I do love it, so.


Ahso. You pour everything out of the sorapot all at once. It just looks like such a large quantity of water and thus a whole heck of a lot of tea compared to the quantities I’m usually making for myself at one time…but leaving the tea in the pot post-steep wasn’t an option! Suspect my glass infuser cups are not going to find themselves out of a job anytime soon…but gosh the pot sure is pretty.


Haha, well, the full capacity is only about 11 oz. and a cup for me is typically 8-11 oz., so it works very well for me! I just pre-measure my water before I pour it into the pot and everything’s copacetic. I don’t think doing less water would be a problem if necessary [because yes, I wouldn’t want my tea sitting and steeping for that between cups either].

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drank Green Kukicha by Den's Tea
260 tasting notes

I’ve been on a really big kukicha kick lately, so when I got some of this from Micah in a tea swap it was one of the ones I decided to try first.

First off, I want to say that I think that kukicha is really pretty. I think it’s something about all those linear strips of varied, yet tonally cohesive greens. It makes me want to pull the colors into a room with some warm medium wood tones and fresh cream fabrics. […Am I bleeding HGTV yet?]

This particular tea, while pretty, unfortunately couldn’t run with the refreshing aesthetic it inspires [at least in my head]. It wasn’t nearly as buttery as the kukicha I’ve been inhaling [Samovar’s] and while it had grassy and nutty tones to it, it was missing a lot of that sun-kissed sweetness that makes grassy teas enjoyable to me.

In a way, the taste almost reminded me of the pith of an orange, but without the citrus taste and residual tartness. It rested somewhere in limbo between bland and bitter, in a way that wasn’t completely off-putting, but also wasn’t enjoyable.

Fortunately, some sweetness eventually began to arrive on the aftertaste and grew in volume on my breath, but it wasn’t enough to make it good. I’m going to take the water temperature down into the 160’s on the next go round, maybe steep it a bit longer, and see if I can get this tea to bloom.

180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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drank Honeybee by The Simple Leaf
260 tasting notes

I got a bag of Honeybee in a swap I did with Carolyn because she suspected I’d like it [and she was right]. It brews into a beautiful, deep gold, honeyed hue, but the taste is extremely light.

For me, the majority of the taste for this resides at the back of the tongue, and a bit at the sides. At the front, I get some light floral notes that are much less obvious when the tea is hot, but at the back…mmm…

When the tea is VERY hot [like right when it becomes drinkable], it’s difficult for me to get much of a taste out of this tea at all, so on my second cup I let it cool down a bit more before I got started and I found it to be much more enjoyable that way. The honey taste is definitely evident for me in the aftertaste, and if I inhale through my nose while the tea is still in my mouth I can taste it near my throat.

Again, it’s a very light tea. While part of me likes that, I also find myself wanting just a liiiittle bit more from it. I need to work to get the flavor, and while that’s fine when I’m concentrating on the tea, I feel like this is going to be a tea that I can only enjoy when I’m concentrating on it. I’ll play around with a longer steep time to see if that makes it a little bit stronger, but in the meantime this is a good tea. Thanks, Carolyn!

165 °F / 73 °C 3 min, 0 sec

I had trouble getting any honey taste from it, despite the name. I wonder if Honeybee refers to a honey taste, or to the way the flavor reflects some of the nearby plants…

Okay, so the description says “When infused, the tea exudes the aroma of native Daphne bholua and Rhododendron plants, with a slight touch of honey and fruit.”

So maybe it’s both :)


It could very well be! I lean towards honey tasting because the depth of the sweetness had this darkness to that I associate with honey, but the flavor is so light and I’m sure that some of it’s my subconscious associating with the name of the tea. Carolyn sent me enough to give this a few goes, so I’m sure I’ll be trying it again soon!


I think I’m going to try this one again to see if I can pick out any honey. I got “floral sweetness” from it but not honey or sugar sweetness. I remember one of the Simple Leaf greens I tried tasted a lot like honey, but I can’t remember which one…maybe Maharani or Chloe?


Carolyn actually sent me samples of both of those [as well as your namesake tea :) ], so I’ll be able to test the honey comparison in the near future!

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drank Toasted Sesame by Adagio Teas
260 tasting notes

Auggy sent me some of this tea [because she’s awesome] and I was pretty excited to try it because I enjoy sesame.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to really get any sesame taste out of it. This is what my notes say:

Tastes bitter.
Sweet-ish aftertaste.
Bitter. Bitter. BITTER.
Didn’t get any sesame.
At all.
Oh, wait, on the breath…? Yep. A bit. Not enough to be sating.
…Am I broken?

I think that pretty much says it all.

I had enough for two cups. I tried the first one at 4:00 minute. The second time I tried this I moved the time down to 3:15.

Thanks for sending it, though, Auggy. Ah, well.

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec

Aw, boo bitter! Sorry it didn’t work out for you. This one always makes me crave eel so I like it lots – but then I don’t get the bitter from it. If I did? Yeah, wouldn’t be a fan either! Actually, I think I do get a little bitter from it but it cancels out well with a little sugar and I do enjoy sugar. :) Oh well – even though it didn’t work out at least you can say you’ve had it! Yay!

All things green

I had a similar experience. I need to write a review soon.


@Auggy Yeah, I was a little sad, but I’m definitely glad I got to try it. I think either bitter flavors tend to be louder to me than other people, or I’m not as good at picking out flavors from tea. Or some combination of both.

@All things green Ah good. I mean, not good, but it makes me glad that I’m not the only one.


I’m sad for you, too. Aww, no eel tea. Hehe. I might end up avoiding some bitterness from some teas since I so rarely end up using boiling water. But that’s cause I’m too lazy/impatient to reboil the zo.

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


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