1994 Tasting Notes


Sipdown no. 5 of 2021 (no. 625 total).

This was a tiny tin, with just enough for about 3 pots of 2 cups each.

Three years ago, I really liked this and remarked on the chocolate/orange flavor. Which is a flavor I really do find enjoyable.

Not so much now. I don’t know whether it’s an age thing or a taste thing. Or maybe it’s just that I have had better orange/chocolate combos? Not sure. Bumping it down.

As an aside, I love that I have all of these prior notes to look back at. It’s very educational about how my own tastes have developed over time.

I would love it if Steepster had an export function that would periodically back up my notes on my hard drive in case something awful happens. It would be horrible to lose 10+ years of notes.

Mastress Alita

That’s precisely why I write all my notes off the site on a Notetab file, then paste the data into Steepster. I have all my notes in the text file on my HDD, and I have that file backed up in multiple places.

Martin Bednář

At least we have our feed.rss which works quite well as kind of backup, though it would be good to write a little bit more there and format it somehow, but I am too lazy (and busy) to do that right now.


Yeah, way too late for that now. It would be sad to lose the notes but I have so many other projects I need to get done I cannot see when transferring note manually would ever get done…

Mastress Alita

Ya, I never had to transfer; I basically moved off an independant tea blog that had no readers to Steepster, and when I did that, I copied my blog posts (again, which I always wrote “offline” first) as my first set of Steepster posts, then just continued the file from there on. I have over 700 notes plus my Profile and some yearly stat keeping stuff all on that one file, ha!

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drank Mango by Harney & Sons
1994 tasting notes

This is the next lowest rated black tea in my cupboard, so imagine my surprise when I had some this morning for the first time in a long time and went — wow, that’s really good.

I can see why I might have been conservative in the rating. It’s a sort of a heavy tea base and mango is such a juicy-light flavor, it is sort of odd to have it paired with a heavy base. I can also see why I thought it would be good iced (and I’ll try it that way eventually).

But for now, I have to bump the rating some. Just a few points for now, but if it continues to grow on me I’m open to more.


My tastes and preferences have changed over time, too.


Mine go back and forth! What in the world!?! Ha ha!

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Sipdown no. 4 of 2021 (no. 624 total). Backlog from yesterday.

And it’s gone! The BF had asked about it, and I had enough for two cups left, so I made him some.

He really liked it. He described it as “sweet, but spicy.” Yeah, I guess it is that. And to be honest, it sort of grew on me. Enough that I’m bumping the rating some.

I had thought this was the sort of thing I’d only drink if I needed it as medicine, but I think I was being unfair. Particularly since last night I moved on to the Paris Herbal from Harney which I inexplicably rated a 78. Bumping that one down.

Maybe my tastes changed? Or maybe I remembered the Paris as having more oomph. But it was heavy, heavy on the rooibos last night.

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Sipdown no. 3 of 2021 (no. 623 total). A sample. Backlogged from yesterday.

I rated this one pretty high when I originally put it through its paces, and I’m not going to second guess myself. Particularly since, though it appears I tried hard to preserve enough for a second serving, I failed. I had to add some tieguanyin from the defunct Chicago Tea Room to the mix to have enough to steep western style in the Breville.

Certainly, a nice final caffeine infusion for the day. I’m reminded that I need to drink this sort of tea not on the heals of a stronger one, though. Definitely need more than just a palate cleanser to fully appreciate the subtlety of this one — need at least half a day without other tea flavors. I described this in the original note as a light, by which I don’t mean in flavor, but in the emotional state it induces. To fully appreciate that, I’d need more of a time break between the last heavier tea and this.

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drank Gina Amaretta by TeaGschwendner
1994 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 2 of 2021 (no. 622 total).

I did not really intend to sip this one down. I thought it was a different Tea Gschwedebalaboop tea that I had rated lower. So there was some confusion, but also I think I had almond on the brain from the Brioche substitute discussion.

I stand by my original assessment — not a substitute for Brioche. It’s not sweet enough, and not pastry enough for that. Though it is more of a pure almond flavor, which also has a place in the flavor pantheon. With age, it is less alcohol like and more just nut like.

Look at me, on a sipdown roll in 2021!


Tea Geschedebalalboop always makes me stop and think. I also now realize I spelled it incorrectly in the letter I sent to gmathis two hours ago!

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Sipdown no. 1 of 2021! (no. 621 total).

Happy New Year, and may it be a lot better than 2020!

Still continuing with the house project. Going room by room. The easiest rooms first. I feel a lot better without all the clutter around. I don’t have high hopes that it will stay that way, though.

Anyway, I thought this tea would be right up my alley. I love fruity teas, and particularly French fruity teas. And yet, as I said in my original note, this one doesn’t have that mysterious French thing going other than in the name.

It’s an ok fruity tea, but I prefer the ones from Kusmi, Mariage Freres, etc. Those have more depth — this one has a sort of painted on quality to the fruit flavor.


happy new year!

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Sipdown no. 25 of 2020 (no. 620 total). A sample.

Feeling rushed while having this, because I have to get my house cleaned as it is bugging me a lot. Rushed is not my favorite way to enjoy green oolong. I made it western style. For thoughtful details, see original note.

For the 10K foot level commentary, it’s a little less floral and buttery than my original note suggested, which may be a symptom of age.

But it has a fresh floral aftertaste that is quite pleasant.


I get where you’re coming from. I have a threshold for messiness, but once it’s been crossed then absolutely everything has to be cleaned.

Mastress Alita

I mass-cleaned last weekend. It was exhausting!

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Sipdown no. 24 of 2020 (no. 619 total). Sample tin. Backlog from yesterday.

There was so little of this left, it screamed for a sipdown. It is what I’d added to the Upton the other day so I would have enough to steep that in the Breville without having to go all fractional. I made it western style having done my duty by it through multiple steeps in the original tasting.

Green oolongs are so wonderfully springlike, it is hard to think about the fact that it is basically the dead of winter. Not that we have winter here, really.

This one was lovely and floral, with just enough butteriness.

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Sipdown no. 23 of 2020 (no. 618 total). A sample.

It’s with a wistfulness that I sip down the American Tea Room samples I have left.

I rated this one particularly high, and yes, it deserves it. Yunnan is likely to be my favorite black tea forever — the richness, the maltiness, and here, the sweetness that reminds me of molasses. I was very sad when ATR went away.

And I’m sad that this is gone.

But the really important question is — did anyone ever find a substitute for Brioche? I still have a sample of that I really should sip down but if there’s no substitute I don’t know if I can bring myself to do it any time soon.


YES Simpson & Vail’s Almond Sugar Cookie is VERY similar to Brioche.

Mastress Alita

Morgana, looking at the ingredients listed on the Steepster listing of “Brioche”, I believe it is the wholesaler blend “Candied Almond” from Wollenhaupt. Source: https://www.wollenhaupt.com/en/product/candied-almond-1093603/

This means many different tea shops will source this tea under different names, and the easiest way is to Google by ingredient list (Black Tea, almonds, cinnamon, safflower, flavoring). For example, The Tea Smith has it as “Almond Biscotti”. Good luck!


Right — teavana and another company (specialteas?) also had this but both are now gone. I will look into these, thanks!

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I went back to this last night because for two nights in a row, I cooked with turmeric and it seemed (whether this was placebo effect or not, hard to say) to really make my knees feel better.

One of the side effects of the pandemic and associated shutdowns is that I’ve discovered I don’t hate cooking. I actually like it, as long as I have all the ingredients I need. Not having the ingredients stresses me, as does going to the grocery store. Long story, but as an only child I spent a lot of time in grocery stores alone while my parents did the weekly shopping. I would go to the toy aisle (they had those back then) or the pet aisle and pretend I had a dog, and make a mental list of all the things I’d get for the dog. I never got a dog, but in an ironic twist, we just put down a deposit on a basenji puppy!

As an aside, having the ingredients makes me think of one of my recent Netflix love affairs, Midnight Diner. Really lovely little series.

Anyway, I hate the grocery store. I was pretty excited back in the 90s when Web Van came along, and I thought it was a gamechanger, but like a lot of tech startups it failed and nothing really came along to replace it until Instacart. Which is my new best friend. Yesterday I had them deliver a can of coconut milk, a can of tomato sauce, some cilantro, and a tin of baking cocoa (not for the recipe below, for no. 2’s mug cake obsession). It doesn’t get better than that.

Which allowed me to make this:


The day before, I made this:


So right. Turmeric overload. I love Skinnytaste in case it isn’t obvious — really tasty recipes that aren’t highly caloric but are filling. The only thing I love more is Home Chef, which I credit for my new found love of cooking — thanks, Home Chef, for measuring everything for me and packinging up all I need, with clear, easy to follow instructions. And for not being delivery flakes and having recipes that taste healthy and nothing else, like Sunbasket, or that taste great but all taste the same, like Blue Apron. OK, that last comment might be unfair because my son was the one who picked the recipes for Blue Apron — he wanted to learn how to cook, but every recipe he picked was Chinese or Thai and after a while I associated Blue Apron with the flavor of soy sauce. End digression.

Start another digression. What is so hard about pronouncing turmeric? TUR-MER-ic. There’s a commercial that drives me nuts by pronouncing it tu-MER-ic. No R, accent on the second syllable. What?

In any case, I thought I would continue in the turmeric vein. My knees feel a lot bettter, but I still don’t love the taste of this blend, which given my love for all things Samovar pains me to admit. It’s not terribly flavorful except for a licorice note that sort of masquerades as mint. The citrus isn’t overly noticeable with age or luck of the spoon, but the turmeric is, and on its own, it’s not my favorite flavor. I feel the same way about cumin. It’s good with other things, but on its own, not so much.

Cameron B.

Yay puppy!!! :D


My husband got a protein powder with turmeric. It has been a game changer for him. His boss was the victim of a horrific dog attack that nearly killed her and high dose turmeric got her off pain meds after her many surgeries. She says it was a miracle for her once they got the dose right.

Lexie Aleah

Congrats on the new puppy!

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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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