1940 Tasting Notes


It’s true, this is better when steeped for 3 minutes rather than 3:30. Ironically, the flavor is deeper and the body comes across as rounder.

And it’s also better with food that has a sweetness built in. I had it this morning with a cinnamon roll and it was delish.

I’m not going to increase the rating, though, because my first assessment is still true even after the change in steeping times. After the cinnamon roll was gone, the flavor resumed it’s sour downturn.

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drank Jardin Sauvage by Lupicia
1940 tasting notes

Wow, this is really nice. I forgot that green rooibos, when done well, can be an excellent delivery vehicle for fruit flavors.

There’s a really nice mango smell upon opening the packet. The liquor is orange — a really orangey orange, which was somewhat surprising. It is almost Orange Fanta orange, but not quite. I’m glad for that, as it would be startling. It’s not opaque so it has a softer hue.

After steeping it’s not very aromatic, but it has a very nice, primarily mango flavor with a touch of orange. The rooibos isn’t noticeable taste-wise. I think it’s main impact is to cut any tendency toward over sweetness, which is actually a good thing.

Flavors: Mango, Orange

Boiling 7 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

This is one of my favourites. Stonefruits and green rooibos are such a good combination. Especially with the mango in there.


It’s lovely, for sure.

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Sipdown no. 43 of 2018 (no. 399 total).

This made a very enjoyable iced tea. No. 2 was singing its praises this morning, so I just put the last bit in to cold brew along with some of the tippy Assam from Tea Table to make up the last two spoons.

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drank Sencha Arihara by The Tea Table
1940 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 42 of 2018 (no. 398 total).

My opinion of this hasn’t changed in the intervening months. It’s a juicy, tasty, wonderful sencha. As it aged, it took on a more standard sencha flavor, which was also lovely.

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Sipdown no. 41 of 2018 (no. 397 total). A sample.

Gosh, I wish I had more of this. I just had a tiny bit left in the packet, so I had to combine it with the Sencha Arihara to have enough for my take it to work tea today. But I’ll remember it fondly. I wish they still carried it.

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drank Jade Bamboo by The Tao of Tea
1940 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 40 of 2018 (no. 396 total).

Nothing to add to previous notes here.

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drank Lapsang Souchong by Tavalon Tea
1940 tasting notes

This is one of the lapsangs I’ve had in my cupboard for a while but haven’t tried until project lapsang sipdown kicked into high gear.

It’s a slow process because I only drink black tea on the weekends and holidays for the most part, and I basically have a one cup threshold when it comes to lapsang. Otherwise it’s too overwhelming for me. But while the colder weather lasts, I can find myself looking forward to that one cup.

The dry leaf on this one smells quite woody, like charred embers. But not ashy, which is a good thing. I don’t get a lot of resin, but I do get a strong pine wood smell.

Steeped, there’s more of an ashy smell which is worrisome. The tea is a medium orange brown color and clear.

The flavor isn’t bad. It doesn’t have the sweetness in the finish that I enjoyed in the Kusmi and the Leafspa. It maintains a smoky woody flavor throughout the sip and into the aftertaste. It has a smooth and soft mouthfeel that I like.

The flavor isn’t overly ashy, as I had feared. Nor is it meaty, which is sort of a relief.

I don’t like it as much as I liked the other two lapsangs I’ve spent a lot of time with recently, but it will have some time to grow on me. According to the handly little checkbox system on the bottom of the container, this 1.5 oz container will produce about 20 cups. Since I make 2 at a time in the Breville, I’ll have something like 9 more encounters with this tea to change my mind.

Flavors: Ash, Char, Pine, Smoke, Wood

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

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drank Bogart by Leland Tea Co
1940 tasting notes

I can’t believe I’m trying this for the first time!

What an interesting tea. I don’t think I’ve had anything quite like it before.

There are big honking pieces of cinnamon in the blend, and because of that, I expected this to be another tea where cinnamon is pretty much all you can taste. But
cinnamon is just one of many things this tea has going on.

The aroma of the dry leaf almost defies description, but I’ll try. It has something deep and rich about it that I want to call cocoa or coffee, but that is probably a very beany vanilla. It also has a more surface level pastry aspect with a hint of caramel. There’s definitely a nutiness, but it’s a confectionary nuttiness. I’m reminded of pralines, though the nut isn’t pecan.

After steeping, the aroma has a lot of vanilla, some spice, and something else that I expect must be hazelnut — but if I was doing a blind taste test I wouldn’t have identified it as such. The tea is a dark, tea-colored brown and clear.

I’m puzzled by one thing. I think a number of folks have read this to contain lapsang souchong. I don’t think it does. I think that Leland is suggesting that it be blended with lapsang, and that if it is, it will please coffee lovers. While I can’t be certain this is the case, I taste and smell no lapsang without trying so hard I am wondering if I’m tasting something merely through power of suggestion and not because it’s there. It seems like a very odd thing to blend with a tea of this type. Which is why I wonder if there’s an interpretation issue here. If there is, perhaps Leland should make its description less ambiguous.

In any case, I tasted mostly vanilla at the beginning of the cup, but now at the halfway mark I’m noticing the hazelnut a lot, particularly in the finish and aftertaste. Really, the only thing that is missing from this that would make it truly wonderful in my book is some natural sweetness to the tea base. I suppose I could sweeten it up myself, but I’d rather I didn’t have to think about it. And I’ve tasted enough black teas with natural sweetness (even lapsangs) that I think it must be possible to achieve that with some thought and experimentation.

It gets points for originality and for complexity, but I’m having a hard time getting myself to the same high rating scale on this one that so many others have had.

I could just be in a critical frame of mind. There was a time when my ratings were pretty much all in the 80s and up, and I’ve been noticing that I’ve been having a hard time justifying higher ratings these days.

Flavors: Chocolate, Cinnamon, Coffee, Hazelnut, Pastries, Vanilla

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

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I love how tippy teas look. This one has some pretty golden tips among the chocolate brown leaves.

In the packet, there’s a sharp note that I associate with Darjeelings rather than Assams, but that smooths out pretty much completely after steeping. The aroma is mouthwatering — it has notes of chocolate, coffee, honey and molasses.

The tea is a dark amber color and clear.

The tea is smooth, and the description of it having almost no astringency is consistent with my experience of it. It has a chocolate note in the flavor, but the sweetness of the molasses in the aroma isn’t something I’m tasting. In fact, the tea tends toward a slight sourness that is disappointing. It’s not bitter, though.

I’m wondering if steeping for less than 3:30 would make a difference. I picked that time since the directions said 3-4. Next time I’ll try less time.

I sort of think it is unlikely that less time will make for more sweetness, however, as I find the sweetness, if there is any, usually comes out early in the steep.

It’s a nice tea, I just expected more from it.

Flavors: Chocolate, Coffee, Honey, Molasses

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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Sipdown no. 39 of 2018 (no. 395 total).

This is truly the end of an era. It’s the very last Leafspa tea in my cabinet from a Steepster select event many years ago.

I’m on a project to reduce the number of teas in my cabinet, but especially to reduce chais and lapsangs. I have too much of both, and I typically don’t drink either that frequently. So I really don’t need that many different ones.

After this one, I’m on to the Tavalon. I also have a Lupicia, a Tea Trekker, a Samovar, a Mariage Freres, and a Golden Moon — and I’m pretty sure I have some others buried somewhere. So it’s going to take a while before I’ve got this under control.

But this one was nice. It was on the mild side, not ashy, not resiny. In a sideways sort of way, I’ll miss it.

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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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