1928 Tasting Notes


I’ve been meaning to try this sample for a while. I’m actually not sure what possessed me to buy it, as I don’t usually have any urge at all to drink Earl Grey except in the morning. I’m pretty sure it was one of those TRY ALL THE TEA moments that compelled me to stick this in the shopping basket.

The dry leaves smell strongly of a floral bergamot. After steeping, the bergamot note is much more of a citrus-y one but I can’t really discern the underlying tea. There’s a “decaf” aroma though. Something that smells like decaf. It reminds me vaguely of the smell you get from laundry detergent when you open the washer while it’s running. Not soapy but vaguely chlorine-y. Fortunately, that’s secondary to the bergamot aroma. The liquor is an amazing red. Garnet. Really gorgeous.

The flavor is about what I expected. It tastes like a rather watered down version of the
Earl Grey Sterling. It doesn’t have the maltiness of the Shanghai, which is why I picked on the Sterling. Being a decaf, though, this one doesn’t have nearly the fullness of flavor of the Sterling. It’s like an Earl Grey that’s been scrubbed against a washboard over and over until it grew thin and faded. Fortunately, the chlorine-y note in the aroma doesn’t show up in the flavor.

I’m pretty sure I haven’t had another Earl Grey decaf, so as far as I know, this is a strong example of the type. It’s not something I feel the need to keep in my cabinet, though. More because I don’t really feel like drinking Earl Grey when I’d want something decaf than because of this tea, though it does have that “less than” quality that so many decaf blacks have.

I won’t have trouble sipping this one down, but for reasons already explained, it’s a miss for me.

200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

i love this washboard comparison;)


Heh! Thanks!

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drank Silver Needle by Shanti Tea
1928 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 120 of the year 2014. I’m having to do caffeine tonight to get in a daily sipdown… I steeped this one in the gaiwan this time.

Wow. What a difference. It’s like a completely different tea. It must be because of the amount of leaf, because I steeped at a lower temperature (175) and shorter (1 minute) than the first time.

The black tea undercurrent I mentioned in the original note is much more prominent. I’m reminded of the flavor of the green Darjeeling from Shanti, but instead of having the buttery vegetal plus Darjeeling, this one has a fresh, light snowy Darjeeling-y note.

I have a way to go before I feel comfortable that I’m getting silver needle completely right, but I finally feel I’m on the right track at least. Not sure this is the right silver needle for me, though. I have to shop around a bit before I settle down.

I am going to need something comforting after this because I had a disappointment earlier today. I suspected it was coming, because I knew this publisher was in trouble after a merger with another company than seems to have gone awry, but now it’s here. The first magazine to buy one of my speculative stories has announced that it’s releasing all the stories back to the authors. Essentially, they’re shutting down the magazine and all the magazines under the umbrella of this company. My story was supposed to be published (originally) last June, but never was, and then it was supposed to be published sometime before the end of this year. Now it’s been released back to me without seeing publication. It’s rather a saga and I won’t go into it further, but if you’re really interested I posted a note about it on my web site. So sad and disappointing. Such is the world of small presses, apparently.


Sorry to hear that your story is not going to be published… :((


Sorry. Good things will happen, they are just around the corner


Thanks guys. It sucks, but what can you do. I’m starting to feel oddly uplifted because at least the story isn’t in limbo anymore.


Ouch, that sucks :( But just like boychik said, it will all turn out great in the end :)


Definitely the world of small presses – but that just means now you have ownership of your work again to shop it around for an even better, higher-paying market! :)


Hehe, MissB, let’s hope so!

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Ah yes, much better than either of the other two yerba mates. Because tastes like peppermint, and only like peppermint for the first few sips. :-) Then the mouthful ’o dirt flavor starts to become apparent.

I thought this was the last of my yerba mates but it appears I also have a Teavana from the old tea of the month club subscription. MateVana. That one seems to have a lot of other stuff in it that may also be successful at masking the mate flavor at least for the first few sips.

Well, at least I know what not to get going forward. Mate has officially been added to my list of NO.

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This has become my commuting tea of late somewhat by default. I had hoped to co-opt the Tavalon Great White for that purpose but was disappointed by the flavor I got steeping that one western style. I suppose I could do a bunch of short steeps to toss into the Timolino but I’m usually pressed for time in the morning and that seems like a plan that would be frequently foiled.

I’ve found that in general, I tend to prefer somewhat lighter teas as companions for commuting or bopping around running errands. Greens or whites, mostly. This one is a green, but as I have mentioned, it’s a strange green in that it is much more substantial than most. It’s almost like a black tea in body and flavor.

But because of its unusual attributes, I’m not really sure when I’d drink it if I didn’t drink it in the car. It’s not hefty enough for a first morning tea, and its too hefty for an evening one. Hence the default commuting tea.

It’s actually lasting well beyond the commute because it isn’t as smooth of a sip as a Chinese or Japanese green. It’s a good tea. I’m just a little annoyed with it because I don’t like it enough to create a special time of day category for drinking it, and I’d much rather be drinking a lighter weight green on the commute.

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Second tea of the a.m. after the LeafSpa English Breakfast (which was pretty much the same as yesterday, so no new note).

I shook the packet this time. I’m getting much the same as I did the last time, but on looking back at my original note, I think there wasn’t all that much difference between my original tasting experience and my current ones. I still have the Cabury Fruit and Nut association, and I still get the cashew. I have to keep reminding myself that white chocolate is really butter and not chocolate, but once I do, I get the white chocolate, too.

In my original note, I seem to have been pleased with the subtle interplay of flavors and now I’m feeling like I’d rather be hit over the head with them a bit more. I don’t think the flavor has faded significantly from the original tasting, I just think that my expectations have changed given the much more potent flavoring in other 52teas blends.


I hear you. When I want my tea flavoured, I want it flavoured.


It’s funny, sometimes I really dig the subtly-flavored flavored teas as in those mysterious French blends. But 52teas blends are usually SO flavored that if one comes out subtle I wonder about it. LOL.

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drank Sleep Tight by TeaGschwendner
1928 tasting notes

It seems I was so successful in cutting the caffeine intake, I took a nap as soon as I got home from work while the BF had the kids at kung fu. I needed that. I need more than that, but it’s a start.

That also meant I didn’t have much tea today. Which is a bummer.

And now I’m having this.

When dry, this tisane is so fluffy it’s a little scary. I think I’m making a dent in it, but every time I open the tin it seems to have increased in volume rather than decreased. Obviously, this can’t be true. Or can it? (Twilight Zone music.)

I wish I liked this better than I do. Then I wouldn’t care if it was in fact a bottomless tin.

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drank Kuki Yerba Mate by Samovar
1928 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 119 of the year 2014. Not sorry to see it go. Now I just have the peppermint left, and as I like it best of all I hope it won’t be too onerous of a sipdown.

Ah well, at least I gave yerba mate a try. But I feel pretty safe in saying it’s never going to be my cup of tea.

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This morning it is rich and smoky and malty and sweet and borderline chewy and all kinds of complex. And very good with half of an unadorned banana bread bagel (onion or garlic or salt is ordinarily about as far away from plain as I’m willing to go with bagels, but the BF bought these and the kids were going on about how great they were so I had one and they were right). And I just realized I’m still writing in the mode I used for my writing exercise of last night, with all the and and or connectors. LOL. Fortunately I haven’t been doing that in my emails for work.

I’m really tired. I didn’t sleep well and I think I was over-caffeinated, so today I’m going to make an effort to stop the caffeine by 4 p.m. or so and try to get to bed early. Daylight savings time. Ugh. It will put a crimp in my tea-drinking style, but I need the sleep.

Don’t read this part if you don’t like to read about medical ailments. ;-) Over the past week I’ve developed a rash of some kind on my foot. I have attempted self diagnosis via the internet and I believe it to be dyshidrosis, which can be brought on by stress, and apparently by inhaling dust if you’re allergic to dust. (And I did get a big whiff of dust during the weekend before last’s cleaning project.) Or nickel. (Does tea have nickel in it?) It looks awful, though it doesn’t feel that bad. I am not sure whether it’s going away. If it doesn’t go away by the end of the week, it’s medical appointment time. Great, just what I need.


Hopefully the rash will go away quickly!


Thanks, caile!


feel better. BTW shu at night and i sleep like a baby(probably tea drank)


Maybe it wasn’t the shu that kept me up, then. I was ready to blame it.


Really, I had sleep prob before but since I started drinking shu 3-5 steep just before bed it knocks me out. Do you want me to send you some samples( it’s not swap I need nothing in return)


Aw, thanks. But I really do have a ton here already. :-)



Sami Kelsh

I get a similar rash issue on my index fingers (random) triggered by hot weather. It’s annoying as heck, but eventually goes away on its own. I’ve yet to find any treatments that speed its disappearance besides avoiding situations that trigger it, which can be nearly impossible, depending on the cause. I’m probably not helping! Just mostly wanted you to know that you’re totally not alone.


Thank you, Sami. Are yours little tiny blisters? That’s what I have.


If it’s itchy hydrocortisone usually helps. Calamine is another good one.


Not really itchy, which is weird. You’d think it would be…

Sami Kelsh

Yep, that’s what I get too, Morgana. It’s been okay for the past few months, but I’m not looking forward to summer. Especially when the blisters start to weep.

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I’m pretty inexperienced when it comes to pu erh, but now that I’ve tasted this once before, I’m starting to understand why it’s highly rated.

Though the description says that it is leathery, I don’t get leathery, but I think that is because as I mentioned before, what others taste as fishy I often taste as leathery. Which, if I connect the dots, means that this is not a fishy pu erh (despite the smell of the dry leaf). Which, from what I’ve read, means that it is a higher quality one.

(But now I have to figure out why I’m not getting leather when I should get leather according to the description.)

What I get instead is a very smooth, mellow tea. I said in my last note that it tastes deeper than the Dante, but on an absolute scale it doesn’t strike me as overly deep in flavor. By which I mean it isn’t as richly flavored as some of the better non-pu-erh teas I’ve had, which is interesting because the liquor is very dark, like almost espresso dark, but with a reddish tinge. Sort of cabernet colored. I would never expect that color from the dry leaf, which is a medium brown (though the leaves becomes dark chocolate/coffee ground colored after steeping).

There is a definite earthiness to the flavor. I said tree bark/moss before. This time around, having an idea what to expect, I’m getting more mushroom flavor. Not so much raw mushroom as cooked, but without a flavoring agent like butter or wine. Wood flavor? Eh, maybe. Perhaps that’s what I’m getting as the tree bark/moss flavor. Like being in a dense, deciduous forest after a cool rain.

I’m on my third steep as I write this. I’ll be putting it through more as I work on my writing assignment due in (gulp) about two hours. (I hope I won’t regret drinking it this late at night.) Next time I’ll try it in the Yixing pot.

Rating it higher than the Dante, but not prepared to rate it exceptionally high until I know my way around pu erh a bit better.

Sami Kelsh

Mushroomy? My interest is piqued. I’ve been allergic to mushrooms for years, but tea wouldn’t make my face go all numb and swollen! GET IN!


Yeah, it’s an interesting flavor. I was trying to think of something else to compare it to, some root vegetable perhaps, but it really doesn’t strike me as having the spicy flavor of most root vegetables, or the metallic flavor of potato.

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drank Vivaldi by Mariage Frères
1928 tasting notes

I had an odd amount left over in the packet after transferring this to a tin, so I thought I’d steep it in the interest of clutter reduction. I suspect that I may have under rated some of the other Mariage Freres blends because I was feeling my way into my system for the teas with the French thing, a/k/a the je ne sais quoi, at the time. I would discount from this the ratings on the Earl Grey and the Breakfast Blends because those I would have rated much more along the lines of others of their ilk rather than the more mysteriously flavored blends.

I went a bit to the opposite extreme with this today. I overleafed and steeped hotter than before.

I think the happy medium is going to be overleafing, but slightly less, and steeping just a little cooler. The first time I had this it was a tad on the thin side, and today it is perhaps just a smidge too strong. However, I can definitely enjoy the flavors today.

What those flavors are is apparently a mystery. Mariage Freres’ description doesn’t say and some folks are getting tropical fruits from this. I’m not, really, though the banana reference makes some sense, because of the creamy interplay with the fruits. To me, it’s mostly dark red fruit. Berry, more raspberry than anything else but maybe a little strawberry, and some plum/prune/currant. Definite red fruit notes. And something along the vanilla/chocolate continuum. I found a seller on the internet who says this is chocolate and cassis. http://www.furansunocafe.com/produits.php?no=400&lg=en&base=salon_de_the That makes sense to me, but it’s not overly important.

With the magical French blends from Mariage Freres, Dammann Freres, etc., the individual flavors concern me less than they do with other blends. I’ve said before that I like to be able to distinguish each flavor even if the tea takes an ensemble cast approach.

But the French blends seem to beg for a more impressionistic tasting experience. I often feel while I’m drinking them that I’m tasting them through the gustatory equivalent of Renoir’s dappled sunlight, or Monet’s reflections off the pond at Giverny. Whether I can distinguish chocolate or black currant, or any other flavor for that matter is about as important to me with this tea as finding a hard edge in a Monet painting.

Which is to say, not at all.


Great note!


I really love the descriptions!


Thanks, ladies. :-). I really love French blends. I should drink them more.


I just realized that I have no idea what what gender OMG is lol. I just assume most people here are female because that seems to be the main demographic. Apologies!


Heh. I didn’t even notice the gender thing. But yeah, I’m a lady. :D


Morgana – I’m the same way. I assume most people on here are female although I didn’t when I started… Actually I think for a while I thought CrowKettle was a guy; no idea why! But I’ve only done a swap with ONE man about 20+. Seems like there’s a lot of ladies here.


Cavo, yeah, I think it’s a majority for sure. But I really shouldn’t make assumptions. It’s the internet, after all. ;-)

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I got obsessed with tea in 2010 for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it. I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I write fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I drink tea without additives. If a tea needs milk or sugar to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’ll rate it high. The exception is chai, which I drink with milk/sugar or substitute. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs, but as my tastes developed they became less appealing — I still enjoy nicely done blends. I do not mix well with tulsi or yerba mate, and savory teas are more often a miss than a hit with me. I used to hate hibiscus, but I’ve turned that corner. Licorice, not so much.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. But I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas in relation to others of the same type, for example, Earl Greys against other Earl Greys. But if a tea rates very high with me, it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is

90-94 Excellent; first rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Very good; will likely buy more

70-79 Good; would enjoy again, might buy again

60-69 Okay; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but likely won’t buy again

Below 60 Meh, so-so, iffy, or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

I don’t swap. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I have way more tea than any one person needs and am not lacking for new things to try. Also, I have way too much going on already in daily life and the additional commitment to get packages to people adds to my already high stress level. (Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.)

That said, I enjoy reading folks’ notes, talking about what I drink, and getting to “know” people virtually here on Steepster so I can get ideas of other things I might want to try if I can ever again justify buying more tea. I also like keeping track of what I drink and what I thought about it.

My current process for tea note generation is described in my note on this tea: https://steepster.com/teas/mariage-freres/6990-the-des-impressionnistes


Bay Area, California



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