1994 Tasting Notes


Sipdown no. 22 of 2020 (no. 617 total). A sample.

This was another casualty of the combination project. I am going back to samples to sip down so that I can combine sample boxes. Only two left now, which is great progress.

I actually didn’t have enough of this to brew western style, which is what the situation called for, so I added some from a Harney sample (which is now very much within its own sipdown range).

I gotta say, I do love green oolongs. An excellent dark oolong is awesome, but the green ones are like being surrounded by soothing flowers. They make my mental state better just to smell them.

Brewed western, I didn’t notice the dairy quite so much, which is fine because I don’t love milkiness in oolongs. The slight butteriness was just the right amount.

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drank Marron Chocolat by Lupicia
1994 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 21 of 2020 (no. 616 total).

Funny, I was thinking about chestnut stands in NYC again when I went to write this note, and I see I mentioned them in my original note.

My original note is pretty accurate in other respects as well except that these last few spoons were more chocolate than chestnut. And paper? Hmm. Yeah, I see what I meant — it’s a sort of very light woodiness that is reminiscent of paper.

What bugs me is that I wish that this was more of what I thought it was going to be. Nuttier, more distinctly chestnut. Part of this may be mental. I was incorrectly translating marron to hazelnut in my head. But it isn’t all mental.

While I’m often a fan of subtlety in tea, I wanted this one to be MORE.


Youngest brought chestnuts home for Christmas and I had my first roasted (oven) chestnuts ever!

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drank Topaz Pu-er by The Tao of Tea
1994 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 20 of 2020. I intend to get to 21 to break the 20 curse.

I put the last of this into the fridge as a cold brew.

I think I was getting to this point last summer, but I think it is time for me to acknowledge that I don’t love pu-er.

I really like the idea of it, and I know that a lot of people consider it to be the only tea worth drinking. But it is hard for me to fit into my lifestyle.

I have been off of work since the Monday before Christmas. I’m having a full two weeks off during a pandemic. And I still seem to be running from thing to thing.

I run from exercise to meditation to cleaning out the kitchen cabinets, to cooking dinner, to… whatever is next. Even when I am trying to practice mindfulness, I mostly have to bring myself back from thinking about, in the immortal words of President Bartlet on West Wing, what’s next?

I feel like doing justice to puer takes more time and patience than I have. In looking at the samples I have left to sip down, I’m daunted by the puer ones and when I’ll have time to do them justice.

I might as well accept it. The tea I enjoy most is the tea I don’t need to spend a lot of time making. There. I said it.

Mastress Alita

I feel the same way… I also just can’t seem to like the taste of it either, no matter how much I try!


Nothing wrong with that.


Yeah, I like the taste most of the time, but the time investment is too much for me. :-)

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Sipdown no. 19 of 2020 (no. 614 total). A sample.

I drank too much tea yesterday. It was a re-entry thing. I went overboard.

Today I didn’t drink as much. I had the last of the Mariage Freres Bolero and this.

I think the Bolero overshadowed my experience of this. That or it didn’t age well. In looking back at my original note, I see I was quite taken with this. But today it was borderline nondescript.

Definitely the Bolero.

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Sipdown no. 18 of 2020 (no. 613 total). A sample.

Another sipdown from yesterday. It was yummy. It has that note that I associate with Yunnan black that is almost chewy in its richness and smoothness.

Looking back at my original note on this, I mentioned that I drank it western style despite the name. I did that again for the sipdown. Oh well.

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Sipdown no. 17 of 2020 (no. 612 total). A sample.

Yet another 90 rated tea, I see. The fact that I happened to pick it was entirely random. I swear.

I sipped it down yesterday because I was making space. I combined a couple of sample boxes and to do that I needed to consume a couple of errant samples.

Looking back at my original note, I found this to be smoother than a lot of second flush darjeelings, and that was my experience of it this time around as well. It’s definitely one of my favorite second flush darjeelings — I see I have it on my wishlist.

Some day I will be out of lockdown. But I expect that to happen before I get out of tea lockdown, at this rate.

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drank Classic Black by Art of Tea
1994 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 16 of 2020 (no. 611 total).

Another highly rated tea in my collection, and one that I am sorry to see go.

For most of its life in my cupboard, it was an add on to other things. I used it a lot for the “extra black tea” in the stovetop chai recipe. Now I wish I’d appreciated it more on its own.

I sipped it down yesterday. I had just a tiny bit left in the tin, and now I can repurpose the tin for something else. Not sure what yet.

It was a nice follow on to the Nilgiri from Teas Etc. that I also sipped down recently. The Yunnan in the blend was, of course, a plus for me. More detail in my original note, but in general it aged well.

Au revoir, mon ami!

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drank Boléro by Mariage Frères
1994 tasting notes

Sipdown no.15 of 2020 (no. 610 total).

I thought I might be able to get in a few more sipdowns before the new year. I drank this one yesterday morning and again this morning.

Normally, I sip down saving the best for later — and I just noticed that this was one I rated 90. It deserves the rating, though I really tasted the apricot and cornflower more this time around. I didn’t really get mango, but that could just be luck of the spoon. It does have that lovely French thing going on.

So how did I end up drinking this one “out of order”? Because I am not observing the order. I’m just going with what seems to call to me at the time.

It’s sort of freeing. How have I been such a tea control freak all of this time?


How have I been such a tea control freak all of this time?

I had the same thought recently. Trying to change that.

Mastress Alita

I still haven’t moved past my “tea control freak” phase…

Cameron B.

I’m going a little more control freak right now, just because of the state of my cupboard… XD

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drank Ceylon OP1 by Teas Etc
1994 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 14 of 2020 (no. 609 total).

It’s a cliche by now, but 2020 was a horrible year all around. It was also bad for me on the tea front.

As my usual life routines crumbled in the wake of the pandemic and election doom scrolling, tea was one of the things that fell away. Mostly because I couldn’t really enjoy it. My coffee consumption increased instead, of coffees with no subtlety, but a huge punch — I didn’t have to think about them too much. They were just a caffeine delivery vehicle.

Reading also fell away for the first time in my life. I couldn’t get into a book, because the minute an alert came in on my phone about the next horrifying thing, I felt compelled to look at it. Binge watching took its place. Name a show on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon. If it’s not a comedy, a cartoon, or a reality show, I’ve probably seen it.

Add to all of that an unseasonably hot summer (during which our AC decided to become less than optimal), and while I was able to keep some iced tea in the fridge for most of the summer, I did not drink much of anything hot. Then when the weather transitioned to cooler temps, I never resumed the habit.

And yet, I really do need to drink my tea — we are looking at a potential addition/remodel this coming year and I have so much STUFF I have to get rid of before then that I have to start now. And not just with the tea.

As for this one, it’s still got its silky mouthfeel and a fruity quality and finish that is really honey, but that I often mistake for something else. Plum maybe. Which is all the more amazing when I looked back at my original note and discovered I’d written it 5 years ago.

It’s freaky to think I’ve spent more than 10 years of my life with tea and Steepster a part of it.

In any case, how are you?

Cameron B.

Welcome back! ❤

An addition sounds exciting! Would love to hear more about it. :D


I hope things look up soon and you find yourself cozy with a book and a cup of tea!


Welcome back! Here’s to looking ahead to better days! :)


Well, hello there! Starting some renovations are on our “maybe next year” list. We put it off, not due to current conditions, but due to the lack of desire to have to clean out and make decisions! The company here has been wonderful of late…a very good substitute for binge watching.

Lexie Aleah

Welcome Back, You were missed! Hopefully 2021 will be a better year for us all.

Martin Bednář

Welcome back! While I will rather disappear from Steepster scene, I am glad there are people who are returning!

We all need calmer next year than this one. Certainly, it was rough for everyone.


I guess you’ll have to start on the comedies! And I know how much it bugs me when I can’t read. I hope 2021 is better.


So good to see everyone again and thanks for the warm welcome back!

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drank Rose Tuocha by The Tao of Tea
1994 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 13 of 2020 (no. 608 total).

Continuing on my iced shu kick, we sipped this one down cold. Refreshing, if a bit earthier than the usual cold brew tea, but the rose lightens that aspect a little. And it didn’t seem to matter to no. 2, who was very eager for the last batch to be strained and drinkable.

For my thoughts on this hot, see original note.

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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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