187 Tasting Notes

80

Ashmanra’s Sipdown Challenge | January 2023 | A tea that goes with snow

I am drinking this one in defiance of the weather, because it’s 37˚F and RAINY and I HATE IT. Bring on the snow! Please!!!

My work-from-home desk is situated right in front of a large window in our home office/yoga room/craft room, so I’m getting a front-row seat to the rain show. It sucks and I hate it. This tea is yummy, but it’s also making me wish I were drinking it on an actually snowy day. I am in A Mood.

The end.

2023 sipdown count: 14/75

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80

My 89-year-old grandmother has more joie de vivre than anybody I know. Every time I’m visiting my home state, I try to make time to have tea with her — we’ll spend a couple hours drinking tea while she regales me with story after story. I just sip my tea and listen! She mostly drinks decaf Lipton (or the grocery store brand equivalent) but usually has a few Harney & Sons tins kicking around in her cupboard. When I was back for the holidays, she brought some of this tea to my parents’ house during a quick visit and insisted I take the rest home with me. I complied, and I’m glad I did!

This feels like a very good entry point for the casual tea drinker who “doesn’t like” green tea (which is probably why she had a tin of it!). The coconut flavor is present but juuust muted enough that it’s not overpowering (it trends a bit toward the artificial end of the coconut flavor spectrum, but not aggressively so), and then the lemongrass brings in a subtle twist. I don’t get any ginger, honestly, although I am picking up a smidge of vanilla.

This is just a solid, tasty, mellow, smooth green tea with pleasantly subtle flavors. It’s an easy drinker and I have no complaints (although I guess I do wish the second steep was a little stronger; I’m mostly getting weak lemongrass). But I’d happily keep it on hand.

Flavors: Coconut, Lemon, Lemongrass, Smooth, Vanilla

gmathis

She sounds like a treasure!

Kelmishka

She truly is! Her storytelling this time around included reenacting “psychic dreams” she’s had throughout the years, complete with dramatic voices and gesticulations. :D

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73

This one is mostly allspice with a hint of nutmeg, followed by a pastry note from the oats. I wish I were getting more cherry!

Flavors: Allspice, Nutmeg, Oats, Pastries

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80

Ashmanra’s Sipdown Challenge | January 2023 | A tea by candlelight

Heh, I seem only to log this one as a sipdown! This one always ends up in my cart on the rare occasion I purchase from August Uncommon (typically when they email me about rewards points or a sale or something). I had a couple servings left and brewed a potful to enjoy while doing some leisurely reading on this very cold and rainy afternoon. I did cheat and plug in some twinkle lights alongside the candle because it’s too grey and gloomy to read by candlelight alone. (As a side note, we in Maryland have gotten no snow this winter and I’m so over it. I WANT SNOW, DAMN IT. Not freezing rain, not sleet, not hail… GIVE ME SNOW. Seriously pondering a move to colder climes at this point.)

Aaanyway, I continue to very much enjoy this tea, and also to think that it is almost too aggressively flavored. It’s also strong! I’m slightly regretting drinking so much at 2:00 p.m., but the damage has been done.

Leaving my rating the same.

2023 sipdown count: 13/75

ashmanra

Oh, that sounds like a lovely day – reading and candlelight with twinkling fairy lights included? And tea?

Kelmishka

The best way to fight the Sunday Scaries! :)

Courtney

We got a bunch of snow this morning and I’d happily trade you!

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Ashmanra’s Sipdown Challenge | January 2023 | Your oldest green tea

I chuckled when I saw this prompt because I knew exactly which tea to use! My partner bought a massive box of this tea at Costco before we got together—so, probably a little over 12 years ago! I remember he still had a decent amount left when we moved in together, and then successively smaller quantities have moved with us through various cities and states. We had three bags pushed to the back of our tea chest (actually this really neat metal button/notions box his tailor great-grandfather used), so I dug them out today and finished them off.

As you’d expect, 12-year-old bagged green tea is not stellar. But! It’s also not bad. Just very weak and thin, without too much flavor beyond a slight grassiness. The funny thing about this tea is that you get an individually wrapped tea sachet, which you are instructed to steep for 30 seconds, but the little plastic packet also includes matcha powder, which you pour from the packet onto your tea. It’s an experience!

I’m obviously not going to rate this tea because it is absurdly old. But I appreciated the reminder to drink it down—and the reminder of how it entered my collection!

2023 sipdown count: 12/75

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80
drank Hazelnut by Teeccino
187 tasting notes

Ashmanra’s Sipdown Challenge | January 2023 | It’s National Coffee Break Day! Take a break today with a coffee-flavored tea!

I loved this reminder to break out the Teeccino! I used to drink it fairly regularly, but I got out of the habit. With only two bags of the Hazelnut flavor in my tea chest, I figured it was ready for a sipdown!

I’d forgotten just how coffee-esque Teeccino is! This one in particular is so roasty and rich, with a really great mouthfeel and body. It sashays right up to the edge of bitterness without going over the line, the same as a good coffee does (to my tastes). And then a whisper of hazelnut comes through on the back, just enough to add a smidgen of nuttiness. Yum.

There’s also a bit of sweetness from the dates and figs. This is where it diverges from coffee (for me, at least, because I drink my coffee black 95% of the time). But not in a bad way! It’s its own thing, and it’s good.

Now I want to buy more Teeccino…

2023 sipdown count: 11/75

Flavors: Dark Bittersweet, Dates, Hazelnut, Nutty, Rich, Roasty

ashmanra

Hazelnut and Mocha are my favorites, I think!

Kelmishka

I don’t know that I’ve had the mocha!

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75
drank Singapore Breakfast by T2
187 tasting notes

This tea could 100% be renamed “Buttered Popcorn” or something along those lines! The genmaicha here leans heavily into popcorn territory rather than anything more roasty, and then the pandan flavoring gives it a smooth buttered note. (At least, I assume it’s the pandan!) The pu’erh is the backbone, I think, with an earthy note underlying it all. I’m weirdly not getting much coconut at all, which is a shame, because I think it’d add a welcome bit of sweetness.

I honestly can’t decide how I feel about this tea. There’s a mustiness to it that’s a smidge off-putting to my nose, alongside a whiff of something artificial. “Day-Old Buttered Popcorn” might describe the effect for me! At the same time, it’s quite unique, and I keep going back for more.

Flavors: Butter, Musty, Nutty, Popcorn

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65
drank Blueberry Limeade by 52teas
187 tasting notes

I want to love this more than I do! Something about it feels a bit flat for me. I think I want something really punchy and tart with juicy blueberry notes, but I’m mostly getting lemongrass, a hiiiint of lime, and a bit of creaminess. As it cools I’m getting a bit of mustiness, too. I should’ve cold-brewed my last cup!

2023 sipdown count: 10/75

Flavors: Cream, Lemongrass, Lime, Musty

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83

I received a tin of this tea from Santa! Well, my brother-in-law, who was my Secret Santa this year. I could see the influence of my sister in this purchase, because she loves flavored rooibos tea. The dry tea smells super sweet and caramelly, and that buttery caramel flavor really comes through in the steeped cup. To me it stays just this side of cloying, and I really dig it! There’s something very comforting about it; maybe it reminds me of a flavor from childhood. It doesn’t really scream “chestnut” to me, but then again the only roasted chestnuts I’ve had were not sweet, and I think this blend is trying to replicate sweet roasted chestnuts.

I shared a pot with my sister-in-law and a friend over the holidays, and we were all surprised at how much we enjoyed this one. I think what I appreciate about it is that it has no cinnamon, no cloves, no spices at all — it’s not trying to be some fancy spiced holiday blend. It’s just straight up sweet, nutty goodness, and it’s very comforting. I’d definitely consider keeping it on hand.

Flavors: Butterscotch, Caramel, Chestnut, Raisins, Sweet

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75
drank Four Seasons by Hawkhurst Tea
187 tasting notes

Ashmanra’s Sipdown Challenge | January 2023 | A tea for joyful solitude and meditation

I love this prompt so much! I haven’t wanted to rush it, though, and was waiting till the moment felt right. Today is a cold yet sunny Sunday afternoon during a three-day weekend, and I’m currently home alone with the animals. I was feeling very mellow and decided to make a pot of something similarly mellow and relaxed. This oolong called my name!

I enjoyed it alongside a mini snack plate of mostly sweet treats: a Sumo orange (SO bougie but so good!), pistachios, dark chocolate-covered figs (!), and a few squares of a dark chocolate bar with puffed black rice and quinoa. I also pulled out my copy of “Comfortable with Uncertainty,” which a colleague very thoughtfully gifted me when I was diagnosed with cancer. I read a few passages and then digested them while drinking tea and nibbling goodies. Such a lovely way to spend free time before my second semester of grad school kicks off this week. :)

Oh, right, the tea itself! It’s very light and softly floral, with notes of jasmine and a bit of minerality. A good choice for quiet contemplation!

2023 sipdown count: 9/75

Flavors: Floral, Jasmine, Mineral, Soft

gmathis

Sounds like a lovely quiet time!

ashmanra

Home alone time can be so special! I am glad you got to enjoy such loveliness today! I am saving that prompt for a very special time, too. Hopefully soon!

Kelmishka

Thanks for the excellent prompt! :)

ashmanra

My pleasure!

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Profile

Bio

I was an anxious child who didn’t like change, so when my parents flew across the country for my grandfather’s wedding and left us kids with my aunt and uncle, I was a nervous wreck. Our first night at their house was tough. I couldn’t sleep, so I got up and padded into the kitchen, where my aunt was puttering around. She could tell I was distressed and offered to make me a cup of tea. It was just Celestial Seasonings’ peppermint tea, but it was exactly what I needed. The tea itself, the comfort it represented, the ritual of making it… I was enchanted. I’ve loved tea ever since.

I’m partial to strong, intense flavors and prefer loose-leaf to bagged, but I’m also no snob. I just know what I enjoy and like trying new blends. I mostly drink my tea straight but once in a blue moon I’ll add a little plant-based milk, generally oat.

I live in Maryland, USA, with my partner, two dogs, and one cat, and I’m an editor at an animal welfare nonprofit. I use she/her pronouns. I’ve actually been a Steepster reader for years and years, but only started posting in late 2021. :)

When I’m not drinking tea (or sometimes WHILE I’m drinking tea!) I’m reading, rewatching comfort shows on Netflix, going for a jog, knitting, hiking, or puttering in the garden. You can find me on Instagram at @kelmishka.

Favorite ingredients, flavors, etc.

Maple (all-time fave flavor!), vanilla, caramel, and all that dessert-y warming goodness

Jasmine, lavender, and most floral flavors

Most spices, although I go through phases and sometimes get bored of generic-feeling winter spice blends

Most fruity flavors

Matcha and other vegetal flavors

Not-so-favorite ingredients, flavors, etc.

Bergamot (I tolerate it, but it just doesn’t do it for me)

Hibiscus

Overly artificial flavors (banana, coconut, mango)

Stevia, monkfruit, and other sugar-alternative sweeteners — blech

Chocolate — it’s hard to get it right in tea, though I love real chocolate!

Animal products, including honey (long-time vegan checking in!)

My ratings

90-100: The best! Will almost definitely repurchase.

75-90: Really good, and potentially worthy of a restock.

60-75: Decent, if not terribly memorable.

50-60: In the “meh” range, but possibly for personal taste reasons.

35-50: I’m not a fan, and this is not very good tea.

20-35: Varying degrees of bad.

1-20: Actively bad. Like really bad. I can’t imagine anyone disagreeing.

Location

Maryland, USA

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