34 Tasting Notes


I haven’t been feeling inspired enough to review my Samovar order with the new (my last!) semester at hand…but gosh, this makes me almost feel motivated!

I know it’s seriously corny, but this makes me smile every time I drink it.

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drank Houjicha by Samovar
34 tasting notes

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So I lost this elaborate post I just wrote…so I’m going to just gloss over it because I’m lazy and want to hurry and get to my newly arrived Samovar order! Basically I’m going to say that I was scared, but drank it anyway. It wasn’t bad, and I’m glad I tried it.

I think it’s just too far from the flavors I’m going for lately. It’s very forceful and savory, while I’m tending to like sweet and complex. I know that quality could have something to do with it, but I think it’s something I would have liked more when I was more into black tea anyway.

Honestly, and I know that it’s not necessarily the case with all Lapsangs, all I could get from the smell was “bologna”…Being a vegetarian I haven’t had bologna in about 10 years, so I suppose I could be wrong, maybe a hot dog, but it was pretty distinct. The taste was black tea with hints of bologna…>__< It wasn’t bad, but it was really strange.

My sister quite enjoyed it with some honey. I tried a bit, the floral/sweet honey taste seemed to balance the smoky/savory really nicely. However, I’d rather not add anything to my cup at all.

I’m really not sure how I feel yet, so I won’t rate it.

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec

Eee! Samovar!


I was going to write more, but…Samovar!


Hahaha! I always love to see what meat/smokey taste comes out of Lapsang. I’ve seen ham, pulled, pork, roast beef. And now bologna! Very interesting indeed.

I never thought of adding honey. That might be a good idea, since I didn’t have such a great time with my first lapsang.

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I’ve been hunting around for a caffeine-free masala chai for a while now. I always seem to want those sorts of flavors right around bedtime. So when I noticed adagio’s rooibos vanilla chai it was as if the sample button clicked itself.

I just made this using the now semi-famous, popularized by takgoti, stovetop preparation method. This is the first tea i’ve done “chai style”, so I don’t really know if i’m reviewing the method or the tea. Oh well. I used rice milk.

Note- I just realized how rambly this whole thing is.Lots of tangents going on. I’m quite tired, but I wanted to log this right away.

Rooibos doesn’t have a whole lot of flavor for me. I think of it as being sweet and earthy with a flavor that, although it’s one I find pleasant, isn’t all that strong. I think the sweetness gets overpowering before the distinctive flavor, but I might just be doing it wrong. I have a history of forgetting about rooibos (and other herbals as well) while they steep, leading to times of well over 10 minutes. When it gets too strong, it has this extreme sweetnessand syrupy quality that makes me think there’s added sugar [please note that I’m generally not a fan of sugar in tea, so the thickness is unsettling]. Anyway, the point is that the rooibos really doesn’t come through as a flavor, but instead as added sweetness and body.

The spices seem more balanced than what I’ve had before. The cinnamon is definitely strong, but so is the ginger. My sister and I took a few minutes to decide that cinnamon is dominant, but only by a little. The spices are unified, but not homogeneous. It’s just sweet, spicy goodness.

I was just thinking that the vanilla just lent itself to sweetness and creaminess, smoothing the spices. Now that I’m at the bottom of the cup, though, the vanilla is definitely present. It’s a bit too sweet for me, but my sister found it delicious. I might have tasted rooibos right here, also, but I can’t tell. I’m not disappointed in the least, since I’m interested in the spices.

The only thing I’d do differently next time is to add less sugar. I guess 1tbsp is too much for me, since I’m not a fan of soda or juice. My victims found it to be perfect, so I’m wondering if I can add half of the sugar to the pot, then tell people to add more if they want to.

I want to try everything chai-style now!

ETA- I should note that I used 2tbsp of sugar for what turned out to be about 3 servings. It wasn’t 1tbsp per cup, exactly.

Boiling 8 min or more

Yay! takgoti’s method is so awesome. Just do a tsp of sugar, then! :) Glad that it was super-delicious, though. I definitely think it adds to the depth of the flavors, the stove-top method.


W00t! I really am not deserving of it being called “my” method, as I didn’t invent it or anything, but I’m glad it worked for you even though it came out a little sweet! [Easily remedied, though, I imagine.] I haven’t discovered any way of making chai that tastes better to me.


Yeah, I was really pleased. The sweetness was actually not a real problem. I was just a bit disappointed that I couldn’t handle eating the slice of pie I was hoarding to eat with it. >__< Said pie was gone when I went back to it the next day. Honestly, though, the chai was better anyway.

I tried it again with half the sugar and it was perfect for me, though my drinking partner had to add a bit more sugar to the cup. I guess I’m just a freak. o

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I’m back after a really really long time! yaay! Prepare for an assault on you’re dashboard pages! Then again, it was only 2 or 3 weeks, which kind of proves that I’m a ridiculous junkie for not only tea, but steepster as well.

So I found myself on adagio’s website…you know, ordering presents and whatnot. I wasn’t going to get anything for myself, but I thought that I’d might as well, since I just happened to be there. I limited myself to 1 sample, but then I saw a couple more I wanted, which left me at 4. I actually had to chase myself off when I realized that I was eying full sized tins.

Anyway, based on the description Adagio gives, this should have been UH-MAY-ZING. Telling me that it’s sweet, luscious, and indulgent seemed to cater to exactly the flavors I was craving. I didn’t stand a chance. Even if I had read the reviews here, I doubt it would have made a difference. It was like I had fallen deeply in love with someone I’d just met on the internet. I was ready to pack up and move to Iowa. Turns out that jerk used a photo from 10 years ago, before the first two marriages.

Actually, it isn’t bad, I just really wanted to use that analogy. I just feel like it’s nothing special. The first two steeps, I found, were simple and nutty, with a sweet aftertaste. The third was my favorite. The nuttiness was less prominent, allowing it to blend more with the sweetness. There’s a hint of buttery, also. There may have been a bit of toast somewhere, but nothing as exciting as advertised. I’m just finishing up the 5th steep, which is still very drinkable. I really should up the score a bit for re-steeping power. It’s quite sweet (for how weak it is in general, anyway) and the nuttiness has become an aftertaste. It’s not complex by any means, but it’s about as exciting as it’s always been.

Steeping: Water was heated to the point where I could juuuuust make out steam rising
1-2 minutes (it smelled really vegetal at about 1 minute, so I stopped it early out of fear)
2-3 minutes (package directions)
3-4 minutes
4-4 minutes 45 seconds
5-6 minutes

It’s entirely possible that I’m just not so much a green tea person. I tend more towards whites, blacks, and oolongs, so I just might not be refined enough for this. I kinda doubt it, though. Dongshan Dolce is pleasant enough, I’ll definitely finish my sample, but will not buy it again. I suppose it would be good for people who want green tea without grassy flavors. The entire time I’ve been drinking it, I keep thinking that it’s a less plant-y version of Andao’s Spring Snail Shell.

165 °F / 73 °C 2 min, 0 sec

Welcome back!


Hey welcome back (to the asylum, Mwhahahaha!)

Great review by the way. :)


Thanks so much! You don’t know how glad I am to be back. Just one more final and I’m back to obsessive posting and commenting! I promise the dashboard assault is coming! Muahaha. T__T


When you put it that way, I feel like I should be laying out barbed wire and getting ready for a D-Day-esque invasion. ;P


welcome back….missed ya!


I love Adagio. I pay for all the gifts I get people w/ my credit card then use the cup points for myself.:)


YAY, it’s good to have you back. :D


@Jillian- barbed wire wouldn’t be a bad idea, though electrified might be a better choice. w



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Ugh. Sometimes it feels like the only thing that’s pleasant during my day is tea. >__<

Yay Thanksgiving (hostess training) and finals time (when YOU get to pay other people to enslave you)!

I know I’m just whining, but I seriously needed this cup. Sweet and gentle.

160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec

Tea heals all wounds. Well, most wounds. A lot of wounds.

Good luck on your finals!


I’m trying to pay them in tea. They don’t like me very much…yeah, Thanksgiving Break is more of a kick in the face than a rest because of finals. More tea all around


@takgoti- haha I definitely believe in the healing powahz! Thanks a lot. Most of the craziness should be over in the next few days, so I’m excited.

@teafiend- I tried that…didn’t work for me either. u__u My professors always seem to give lots of work assuming that people actually have spare time during their thanksgiving break. Oh well.

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I’ve seriously had my nose in my mug for a good ten minutes. Beautiful. It smells smoky-sweet and amazing. Huffing tea is much more entertaining than studying for a gigantic Japanese test I have tomorrow. >__<

After two minutes the liquor was already a bright honey color, making me pour the first steep too soon. The flavor is good, but I have to go looking for it a little. Smoky and floral, which sounds kind of weird, but it’s tasty. As it cools the smokiness seems to dissipate somewhat, letting the sweet floral step forward. Actually, I think the sweetness and the floral are two separate entities. Floral and a fructose sort of sweet. I can’t decide what kind of fruit it is or even if I could tell in the first place. I don’t feel like this would be good iced, since the little bit left in my cup that cooled completely is pretty flat, with a grassy sort of taste to it. I don’t even know if oolongs can be grassy…oh well. Not unpleasant, but not comparable to what it had been.

Alright, I left the second infusion for 3 minutes. The color is slightly paler, but not by a lot. The nose is similar, but lighter on the smoke. It’s baked goods rather than campfire. As I was thinking that, when I pulled away from the mug to type, I swear it smells like donuts. My roommate thinks I’m nuts as I’m leaning over and sitting up like one of those sippy bird figurine things. I’m getting, very specifically, donuts, but only in the first few seconds after I move away from the steam. How perplexing. Now, the smell of donuts always makes me happy, but whenever I eat them I decide never again. They’re never as delicious as they smell, plus fatty food tends to make me feel a bit sick (taste aversion learning, perhaps?). It never seems worth it to eat one, but I adore being in a place that makes them. Even if it’s completely ridiculous that I think this oolong smells like donuts, I’m ecstatic.

My first impression of the taste is that it isn’t as rich as the first cup, which I felt could have been stronger. This makes me think that I didn’t use nearly enough leaves. I seriously need a scale and/or the sense to stop being so stingy. There’s a really slight smokiness, but mostly there’s a baked goods type of caramelized sweetness. It’s delicious and I wish I could taste more of it! I don’t think I’ll get a third steep out of it, but I’ll do one anyway, just in case. I think I’ll do quite a long steep, just to try and get everything out of the leaves, but I’m not too hopeful.

I’m giving it a rating based on the assumption that I messed up by not having enough leaves. I’ll reevaluate the next time I have it, but as far as I can tell I really like this!

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec

The smell of donuts makes me happy too…but I usually eat one. I might have to try this tea. Donuts and oolong, oh my!

Oh yeah…let me know if you want to try the Strawberry Shortcake white tea. I can send you some! lfinch8@gmail.com


I’ve worked at a Dunkin’ Donuts and never again will I eat one. I think I gained like 5 pounds in the first month, donuts and coffee with cream. This tea however, I am most certainly putting it on my “to buy” list.
I feel your testing pain, I just got my butt kicked in Greek.


I have so many comments I want to make that have nil to do with the actual tea review.

1. I want to start a band called Huffing Tea.

2. The drinking bird reference makes me think of that episode of The Simpsons where Homer gets the bird to press the key on his keyboard while he’s “working from home.”

3. The donuts also made me think of The Simpsons.

4. I want a donut.

But the tea sounds really, really good. Adding to list.


5. Hope your test went well!


tears why’s everyone so nice to me!? Here I am, ignoring steepster, while there are so many happy comments on my last real review. crying I’ll be back to being active soon.

My test was just fine. I’m miffed, though, since I was one point away from an A. I think Japanese is the only class in which I’m an overachiever. o

I’m drinking this again today and, though I don’t have time for a full review, I still feel the same. More leaves was a good idea, but I’m not getting donuts so much anymore. It’s a more complex, baked goods type of smell that’s present in the taste a bit as well. I’m so surprised the sugary qualities.

Anyway, expect me back full-force very soon!

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drank China Lichee by SpecialTeas
34 tasting notes

The following is extremely rambly. I’m quite tired, so apologies. Anything actually having to do with tea starts at the third paragraph, beginning with “Anyway”. >__<

Does anyone else think that Lichee/lychee is the most floral tasting fruit ever? Maybe it’s one of those things where two tastes somehow remind you of each other without being similar at all. I’m convinced that it has something to do with how the smells activate this same scent receptor thingies…For example, things with cherry flavored syrup remind me SO MUCH of almond extract. If it isn’t red, it seriously takes a moment for me to decide which it is. Even though they’re different flavors, something about how I taste/smell them is the same. So maybe lychee and flowers are the same for me.That sounds crazy.

sigh I love the stuff. Actually, when I found out that my local frozen yogurt place had lychee as a topping I more or less flipped out. Frozen yogurt(from places like caliyogurt, etc) is one of my favorite things, so when you have lychee with it. I almost cried. Now, if only they’d had matcha yogurt that day…I think I would have imploded.

Anyway, this is appropriately cheery to sit with and listen to the steady rain. I find myself thinking of the weather as being romantic, rather than dreary. Seriously, lychee’s impact on my mood is ridiculous.

Now that I think about it, this may be my favorite flavored black. There is lychee flavor, but I’d more accurately call it a scent. My nose is definitely doing more work than my mouth. I can still detect it in the back of my throat and sinuses several seconds after a sip.

The black tea is smooth with slight astringency. It’s clean feeling and crisp. It doesn’t say what kind of tea it is…maybe a ceylon? It’s definitely taste-able, I’m just not experienced enough to say for sure.

In short (which is necessary since I ranted for so long), I’m a fan.

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

I’ll have to keep an eye out for a tea like this. Lychees are few and far between here and when you do get them they cost a small fortune. I’ve only had some twice and that was because they were included in a larger box of fruits and vegetables that I got. I agree about the floral flavour and I can totally imagine they would work wondefully in a tea.


Ooo! I was just whining about how I needed a good lychee tea because Lupicia’s Lychee Oolong failed to impress me. I’ll try this one next!


@angrboda- Even though I’ve always loved things with lychee juice/flavoring I actually hadn’t eaten one until maybe 6 months or a year ago.

@Suzi-If you want to try a little and can wait until probably the week after next I can just send you some. I only have a small amount in my dorm, but I’ll be home next weekend and can send it from there. I guess I’m not confident in my own opinion, so I’d hate for you to order some and not like it. I bought 1/4 pound since my mom and sister like it, too, so it really wouldn’t be a problem (I’m sure I have an empty adagio sample tin to send it in). Let me know if you’re interested!

Rex Barrett

I absolutely love lichee, add that to a nice black and let it be fermented on top of that! I’m in heaven.

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This smelled alarmingly meaty as it was steeping this evening. I’m a vegetarian partly because I dislike meat…so I’m not sure that would be pleasant.

Fortunately that didn’t carry over to the flavor. It’s as buttery and herb-y as ever. Now that I think about it, saying “buttery and herb-y” makes it sound like I’m talking about mashed potatoes or something. I don’t even like butter in real life, but somehow in a tea it’s just fine. I would say “grassy”, but to me that’s a different, sharper flavor.

I think this tea benefits from reeeeally low temperature and shorter steep time. I couldn’t tell if the water was heated or not and wondered if I was about to pour lukewarm water over the leaves. Either way, one minute and cooler water really seems to bring out a good deal of sweetness. Maybe this just shows that I have quite the sweet tooth when it comes to tea (although I rarely add any sort of sweetener). Maybe this is my ideal preparation or maybe it’s growing on me, but I’m really enjoying this.

You know, I really wonder if I’m crazy. I’ve been playing with the idea of doing a swap, but I don’t want the other person to think I’m nuts (or that I’m lying to try and sound smart) or feel obligated to agree with me if they taste something completely different from the same tea. Maybe I’m over-thinking it.

160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec

If you’re willing to send internationally (and I understand if you’re not because it can get a little costly), I’m interested in a swap. I aired the idea earlier of organising either a swap or a travelling teabox, but nobody seemed interested


That sounds so fun. I’ll take a look at shipping costs! Tea isn’t heavy, so it shouldn’t be too much of an issue besides that economical shipping is sooooooo slow.

I don’t really know if I have anything worth trading, though. It kind of feels wrong if half the trade is stuff I’m just trying to get rid of. __


Yeah, for things one is just trying to get rid of, the travelling teabox would be better, but that would require at least a handful more people. The only problem with that is that if you’re not careful the box can get enormous when people add must more than they take out.

Even if the other person liked that things that we didn’t like, it still feels weird in a straight swap. :)

Doesn’t have to be big, though. I’m thinking kind of Adagio sample sized, more or less. That doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

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I’m pretty terrible at bios so I don’t think I’ll even try to make it interesting. I’m a college senior majoring in Japanese and minoring in women’s and gender studies. I’ve been a vegetarian for about 8 years or so. I craft and game whenever possible and have been known to give up large amounts of sleep for either.

いつも日本語の練習の時間ですよ!一緒に練習したかったら私に連絡してください。よろしくね。 ^0^ 


New Jersey, USA

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