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This one has a rather singular smell in the packet. I would describe it as “dark” or maybe “hearty.” There’s no fishiness at all, and only a little leather. What I get is more deep and rich, like a really moist tobacco or, for some reason, a really concentrated butterscotch. Where that is coming from, don’t ask me — it may be more of an association than a flavor. If you’ve had those really dark, deep, rich butterscotches that make you understand where the “scotch” part comes from, that’s what I mean.

I rinsed and then steeped at boiling for 10/10/20/30/40/60/120/240/300/360

The tea starts out with an astonishingly bright orange colored liquor, but by the second steep it has become a dark, cognac color. I swear, I did not read the description that said cognac before I called it that — even more surprising because by steep 2, I get a cognac flavor (and again, I swear, I didn’t read the description first!)

Steep 1 is smooth, and a bit more earthy and mushroomy, but steep 2 is cognac, for sure.

The third steep is similar to the second, as is the third — but the fourth is a little less “round” and the fifth has a sweetness that I’m finding tends to come out in shus in the middle steeps. It must have something to do with the breakdown of the sugars in the leaves? The sweetness here isn’t like the brown sugar and molasses notes that I adored in the Life in Teacup, but it is very nice.

By the sixth, I start detecting a bit of a fade. The color becomes lighter though still reminiscent of brandy.

I enjoyed all 10 steeps. While I still think the Life in Teacup is the most stunning of those I’ve had recently, this is lovely. I had to bump up the Life In Teacup’s rating so I could rate this one high, but not as high as it.

Flavors: Brandy, Butterscotch, Earth, Mushrooms, Tobacco


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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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