260 Tasting Notes


The Final Sipdown: Day 14.2

I’ll confess: I dumped my entire sample of this [thanks teaplz!] into the strainer. I figured it was honeybush, so it wouldn’t really make a difference and I’d just steep it at the shortest end of the recommended steep time range. The tea brew was dark, dark, dark which made me nervous, but I could smell strawberry from a few feet away, so I figured it probably wasn’t horrible.

And it wasn’t.

But it also wasn’t fantastic.

This seems to be a theme for me.

The smell of the strawberry was strong. It was accompanied by a strong smell of caramel. Both of these components were present in the taste of the tea, albeit the caramel was rather weak and only appeared at the front of the sip and at the tip of the tongue, and the strawberry was disappointingly watery.

Also present was a medicinal taste that seems to accompany a lot of these honeybush/rooibus flavored blends.

When I think about this tea, I keep thinking, “That wasn’t too bad.” But really, when I have a solid stack of really great herbals at my disposal, why bother?

Also, does anyone else think that Smooth Strawberry Dream kind of sounds like a race horse name?

Teas Downed: 23

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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The Final Sipdown: Day 14.1

Oh, brother. Only on tea 22 and I’m already using a save. [For those who haven’t read, I have allotted myself five saves so I don’t have to finish a sample I particularly like. You can probably guess where this log is going.]

It’s official, I’m a Japanese green fangirl. I can’t help it! And let me tell you, it’s funny to me because it isn’t even necessarily the taste of the actual tea that I am enamored with. Yes, the buttery, creamy quality that many of them [including this tea] encompass is absolutely deeee-LIGHT-ful. Especially my dear, sweet kukicha. [Would it be weird to name a dog Kukicha? It’s fun to say.] The vegetal, sweet grassy notes are ones I find quite tasty, especially in concert with the other flavors that Japanese greens tend to offer.

No, the thing that I most love about Japanese greens is the aftertaste. When I’m drinking a good one, it’s absolutely sensational. Sweet and refreshing, light and yet strong, it’s a study in distilled fullness.

I don’t think that I really have that much a sweet tooth, mainly because after those first few bites that’s usually enough for me; I get over saturated on sugar. But that moment right after swallowing a particularly good bite of cake? Oh, bliss. When all the little flavors linger and swirl into a sweet shadow of the essence of what used to be. It’s like a patronus of cake. [Sorry, I’ve got Harry Potter on the brain.] That is what the aftertaste of a good Japanese green is like to me.

This particular one has a distinct citrus note to me – specifically orange. The astringent note in it even reminds me of the bitterness in orange pith. All the regular players are present and accounted for – the grassy, vegetal notes are front and center. There is a light buttery, creamy component, though it is not anywhere near as noticeable as it is on kukicha. And I’m also getting a slightly nutty note. But it’s the citrusy note give it a refreshing lift. It’s making me think of the yuzu sencha I have, but the citrus note isn’t quite that pronounced. It’s much more subtle, and yet it has presence. Now that I’ve noticed it, I can’t stop paying attention to it.

Making this tea has not only led me to a second steep, but it’s made me break out my kyusu. Don’t you realize I don’t have time to dally about with second steeps right now, tea? And yet, I find myself not really wanting to hurry, and simply to breathe.

Breathe, and appreciate being home and having a day off tomorrow.

Breathe, and be thankful for the days I have left with my family.

Breathe, and marvel at the myriad of flavors that tea can provide while the sweetness rolls over my tongue.

And now, in the way that tea has of teaching me things I wasn’t necessarily planning on learning, I am beginning to realize something. Half of the beauty in Japanese greens for me might not even lie in the physical sensations it provides, but the natural inclination to slow down and ponder upon exhalation.

Teas Downed: 22
Saves Used: 1

165 °F / 73 °C 0 min, 45 sec

I loved the “patronus of a cake” idea.

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drank Grapefruit Green by Lupicia
260 tasting notes

The Final Sipdown: Day 13.1
[For the sake of clarity, I’m logging this one the day after. Blame the full stomach and the comfortable couch. Damn you, couch!]

Ugh, the only thing that rued anything yesterday was my stomach. I drank this tea, started to log it, and promptly fell asleep on my couch. So. Much. FOOD. I’m sure y’all can relate.

[That being said, I hope everyone had fabulous Thanksgivings.]

Grapefruit Green. If I liked grapefruit more, I suspect that I’d also like this tea more. Unsurprisingly.

The smell had a sharp grapefruit note to it that was tempered by the vegetal component of the green tea. Strangely, I got an overwhelming sense of cooked green beans at a few points while I was waiting for it to cool.

Not to be deterred, I drank. It was…kind of strange. The grapefruit didn’t appear to me for a while, and even when it did it tasted a bit of chemicals. The green tea was there, but eventually the grapefruit had it in a chokehold and I couldn’t taste it anymore, and there was a bizarre strain of bitterness that ran through the entire thing that I think was in part due to the fact that grapefruit has a bitter-sour quality about it and in part due to the strange chemical taste I was getting from the tea.

Also, at points I received a fleeting scent [and taste, but mostly scent] of fruit gum. Which is funny because Auggy, who was also the sender of this tea, mentioned gum in her log [I think]. Specifically it reminds me of Stride Gum’s Forever Fruit, which in turn reminds me of the one Japanese gum I have ever tried. It’s a unique flavor. This tea, however, is not playing out for me in a uniquely good way. It’s not something I’ll be buying. For the grapefruit lovers out there, however, it may indeed be worth a go.

Teas Downed: 21

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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The Final Sipdown: Day 12.2

Got this tea thanks to the ever generous Auggy and I must say it was one of the ones I was most excited to try. However, pretty descriptions does not a pleasant tea make, because…

This tea sounds a lot more impressive than how it tastes. Mostly, I am getting hay. Hay with maybe a hint of not particularly distinct floral. The tea itself tastes of the smell of hay, if that makes sense. And…I’m thinking raisins?

I dunno. I used the entire sample and, much like my prior log, am finding this not unpleasant, but altogether unremarkable.

Is it because I’m so tired? I feel slightly guilty that these teas might be served a light injustice via my fatigue, and so I’m going to call it a night and leave these both sans ratings.

In an effort to catch up, I am going to officially declare tomorrow Tea Day. Down with turkey! Up with tea! And up with being awake enough to pay attention when I’m drinking tea and cogent enough to log them without writing idiotic logs. Time to go to sleep to the dulcet tones of Vince Guaraldi. How is it that A Charlie Brown Christmas is so simultaneously dull and comforting at the same time? It’s a holiday tranquilizer.

Anyway, nothing, AND I MEAN NOTHING, is going to keep me from counting this towards my TFS total. Tomorrow, TFS shall rue my existence! For now, Christmas tiiiiiiime is heeeere, haaaappinesssss and cheeeeer… Zzzzz.

Teas Downed: 20

190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 30 sec

I’d agree with the non-remarkable bit. It’s a pretty tea and sounds good but the (ugly leaf) version from Tea from Taiwan is so much tastier.

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drank Golden Osmanthus by Lupicia
260 tasting notes

The Final Sipdown: Day 12.1

I thought time was flying, and then I realized I let six days slip by without logging something in for TFS. Crazy weekend, coming home exhausted [and falling asleep near immediately] after work, and tomorrow is Thanksgiving in these here United States already. TOMORROW.

Time isn’t flying, it’s apparating.

Why yes, that was a Harry Potter reference, don’tmindmethankyou.

Just about a month left in this crazy challenge and I’m filled with new determination to complete it [though, ironically, four separate tea packages arrived at my house today, only one of which was self-induced]. When it rains, it pours, right? Not that I’m really sad about it all…of all the things to be showered in, tea hardly merits a complaint.

But I digress.

The tea. It tasted like a darker oolong, but apparently it isn’t? Or maybe it is?


Um, I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be but it had a kind of roasty quality to it. Nothing sparking any kind of major interest here. It’s not a bad tea, but it’s not a terribly interesting tea for me. And yet it’s not quite bland enough to be meh…it’s just above meh…

I should not be allowed to write logs tonight, despite the fact that I have clearly been endowed with a super-human ability for succinctness.

Right, try again. Darker flavors with a roasty quality. Maybe just a shadow of the honeyed, buttery, nectary tones I usually get out of the greener oolongs, but not nearly enough to be a game changer for me. Not particularly complex. If I chance across it later in life, I’d be willing to try it again, but I won’t be buying it. Nevertheless I appreciate the opportunity to try it, and perhaps even more so…

I appreciate the opportunity to [symbolically] decupboard it [as I never actually cupboarded it in the first place, it seems].

Teas Downed: 19

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec

Glad you are back! And hope you get some good rest soon!

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The Final Sipdown: Day 6.6

Funny that they should compare this to jasmine tea in the description, because that is exactly what this smells like. A the tail end of the scent, I get what I think might be magnolia, but I can really only identify it as something between rhododendron and artichoke because we’re not far south enough to get a lot of magnolias around here and I haven’t had much opportunity to acquaint myself with them.

Anyhow, this also smells like an oolong. Like Auggy [the giver of this tea] has mentioned, it also smells like it should be buttery. It isn’t.

In fact, it’s on the whole unremarkable, though it could be a decent starter tea for someone who’s never had an oolong. It’s lightly floral and a teensy vegetal with a wafer-thin buttery quality. I also understeeped this on accident, so that could be part of why I’m finding it rather bland, but it’s not something I’ll be seeking anytime soon. Not when I have so many good oolongs already shuffling for places in my life. It’s not a tea that has much going on in it, and so it’s not a tea I’ll be writing any more about.

Teas Downed: 18

170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 0 sec

I also understeeped this on accident, so that could be part of why I’m finding it rather bland…
Nope, it’s just not all the impressive of a tea. Which is why I still have half a tin left. Perhaps it will get demolished during The Final Sipdown…
PS – Congrats on such a massive decupboarding day. Yay!

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drank Tan Yang Te Ji by TeaSpring
260 tasting notes

The Final Sipdown: Day 6.5

This tea is incredible.

Can I say it again?

This tea is incredible.

Unlike flavored alcohol, I find that I really appreciate it when I can taste the derivative beverage in a tea. The taste of alcohol makes me cringe. The taste of tea typically has the opposite effect, and so I greatly appreciate it when the taste of the tea and any other flavors it might involve can play together nicely.

Let’s begin with the scent of the leaves, shall we? It’s got an earthiness about it, but mainly I smell dark chocolate. I have a large bar of Scharffen Berger sitting upstairs that I use for cooking, and that is what I immediately thought of when I smelled these leaves.

The smell of the liquid mimics the leaf scent almost identically, with a bit more of a sweet edge. The chocolate swings between dark chocolate and cocoa.

And then the tea…

The tea is delicious. Aside from the aforementioned flavors, I get notes of caramel, brown sugar, dates, and pecans. On the aftertaste, there’s just a slight, slight tingle of spiciness. Just enough to imply heat. And it feels like I just indulged in some dark chocolate.

Listen, I gulped this cup down before I could really pay attention to it, and while I’d love to go for a second steep I fear that I have too many teas to get through tonight and thus is one of the downsides of TFS.

I will, however, say that from what I’ve tasted, this takes whatever chocolatey or desserty teas I’ve tried have attempted to do, and it does it considerably better. It even takes what teas have not necessarily been attempting cocoa or chocolate [one that comes to mind is that dragon ball pearl tea whatever it’s called from Adagio] and it makes them look like chumps. Like chumps.

I will also say that I am immensely glad that Auggy decided I was worth parting with some of her sample from Angrboda so that I could try this. And also that I will be seriously looking into ordering from TeaSpring. And soon.

Teas Downed: 17

205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec

We told you so! :D I need to get more soon too, as soon as I can defend spending money on tea again. If memory serves me right, I bought 200g the last time and that’s nearly gone. Now I have a slight worry that we’ll end up laying TeaSpring dry of Tan Yang… Again. :p

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drank Sakurambo by Lupicia
260 tasting notes

The Final Sipdown: Day 6.4

Soldiering on, I come to a tea sent by Auggy that has intrigued me ever since I got it. Catching a whiff of the leaves, this smells strongly of a combination of fruit gum, apple cider, and cherry [specifically sour cherry]. The liquid combines these same scents, and the more I think about it, the more I begin the realize the similarities between the three. I’m not sure what about it makes me think apple cider, but it does indeed remind me of sweet apple cider.

All these elements are in the taste as well, making it one of the most consistent leaf to aroma to drink teas I’ve ever tried. But the drink is far more complex.

Before I get into taste, the coloring warrants a note. It’s a deep, brown color that’s not quite coppery like most black teas are. Instead it has a red that falls somewhere between auburn and burgundy tint to it. It’s really very pretty and I find myself staring the highlights thrown into it by the light.

The black tea is there, but it’s super faint for me and comes out mainly right at the start of the sip. The astringency I get at the end, as well, is due to [I think] the black tea. What I find interesting is that it’s not difficult for me to find the black tea because the taste is so loud; it’s difficult to find because the taste has so much going on. If that makes sense.

For one, I get a cinnamon flavor that I think is part of what’s making me think of apple cider. Also, just a hint of juicy cherry more noticeable after aeration and in the finish. Juicy sweet cherry, akin to Luden’s cough drops, but also sour cherry like pie filling. I can’t taste the peppercorn that’s in it, really, though I think it might be lending itself to some of the fruity flavors in coming out of this tea. Oh wait, no. There it is when I swish it around. [At first glance, I thought those peppercorns were goji berries, but they’re not oblong enough. After scanning the logs, as the description is no help, thanks to Jillian I discovered that they are peppercorns. Funnily enough, though, I do get a hint of goji berry in the taste.] What else? Not enough for me to be able to dissect at the moment. There seriously is a lot going on.

The curious thing is that there’s not much of an aftertaste for me. Simply a whisper of sweetness that rides the breath. On occasion, I curiously [or perhaps not] get black cherry.

This is a flavor unlike any tea I’ve ever tried, and while I’m really not in love with it I could see it being something that grows on me. For the time being, however, it is unique and not crazy loud enough to be what I consider a flavored mess.

If I find myself placing a Lupicia order, I may pick up a small amount of this to play around with because it’s really making my palate feel challenged. Right now, it’s not enough to justify starting an order up on its own.

Teas Downed: 16

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

I had totally forgotten about this one. I was pleased that it was a cherry something that didn’t taste like cough syrup. Why do so many cherry teas taste like cough syrup?


I think cough syrup has ruined cherry-flavors for all of us. Just like Pledge has for lemon-ness. So sad.

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The Final Sipdown: Day 6.3

Another tea from Auggy that I received way back. As a person not enamored with artichokes, I was not super enthusiastic about trying this tea, but I decided to stop whinging about it and JUST. DO. IT.

The tea smells exactly like White Cucumber. Well, maybe not exactly, but exactly what I remember White Cucumber smelling like. Luckily, I had already developed a steely resolve towards finishing this sample and could not be deterred from dumping it in the Breville and sending it off.

The liquid smells of fruit.

It tastes of…I’m not sure. Fruit? Faintly. Blandness [because sure, you can taste blandness]? Faintly. Water? Yes. Bitterness? Yes, at the back of my tongue. White cucumber scent? Unfortunately, yes, in the finish. Artichoke?

Again, I’m not really sure. I think I get it a bit at the finish and in the aftertaste, but the taste of artichoke is rather distinct and I feel like it would be more obvious.

I think I put too much water in when I made this tea because it’s rather weak. Likely this was a subconscious effort to reduce the flavor of a tea I reckoned I wouldn’t like. Either that, or it simply hasn’t held up as well as the other samples I have tried thus far [though the smell would certainly protest loudly]. Regardless, the flavors I found were not fantastic.

As it cools, it is not faring any better, and so I will bid this tea adieu without regrets.

Teas Downed: 15

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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drank Caramel by Kusmi Tea
260 tasting notes

The Final Sipdown: Day 6.2

It’s a slightly overcast, though otherwise no less beautiful fall day. After momentarily debating over which tea to ELIMINATE next [sorry, I write a word like ELIMINATE and feel as though it needs to be said in all caps], Auggy reminded me that she had sent over some of Kusmi’s Caramel in the last package I received from her.

No brainer.

Using the entire sample [and it was sizeable], I made a large pot in the Breville and poured about a third of it into my tumbler to take while I took the dog out for a walk. Apart from the fact that the tumbler [I keep wanting to type that as tumblr] I have keeps the tea HOTHOTHOT for a long time [great when I’m drinking throughout the day, not so much in the short term], it was a delightful companion to my afternoon excursion.

That said, drinking tea whilst walking a very curious dog does not lend itself to paying attention to nuances within a tea. So I was happy that I had a near full pot waiting me when I returned so that I could log it properly.

This tea is smoooooth. It tastes of caramel, but not in an overtly flavored way. The black tea flavor is nearly always threading in and out of the caramel flavor in a pleasant, complimentary manner. At times I get notes of dates and cocoa, but the caramel is the star here and it is delicious. As the tea cools, I tend to get more astringency from it, but the aftertaste always is silky, part-salty-part-sweet caramel.

I have spent the majority of today sipping on this whilst Little Dog sleeps nearby, I catch up on DVR’d things, and I recover from yesterday. Thoroughly enjoyable, and should I find myself at Dean & Deluca in the near future, I hope I’ll be able to snag a tin of this [though I don’t recall seeing it the last time I was there]. Part of me is now wishing I had used one of my self-alloted five saves to keep part of this sample later, but it’s just giving me another reason to push through TFS so I can justify purchasing a tin.

Little Dog | http://bit.ly/cgMywy
Foliage | http://bit.ly/cb6e5y

And just to reiterate: I ABSOLUTELY ENDORSE THIS TEA.

Teas Downed: 14

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

OM NOM NOM NOM NOM! Favourite Kusmi ever in the world. I need to get this soonishly again.


Awwwwww! Your dog is so cute with that paw over the eyes!!!

P.S. I absolutely endorse this tea, too!


I MUST ORDER MORE!!!! This tea (and whatever else I put in my order) will be my reward for getting below 100 teas in my cupboard.


Thanks for the pics! I miss fall foliage!

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Former coffeeist, turned teaite. Lover of writing, reading, photography, and music. Traveler of life. Known to be ridiculous on occasion.


Virginia, USA



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