drank Houjicha by Samovar
1994 tasting notes

Spidown no. 176. A sample.

I’m still a huge Samovar fan, and I’m delighted to see that they appear to have weathered the transformation they were going through a while back where they basically didn’t have any tea available for purchase. Now I see there are some old favorites gracing their web pages again. I do wish some more of my favorites were there, particularly on the herbal side of things as I’m soon to be in the market for something like Berry Rooibos, which I really adored, or maybe Orange Ginger. Alas, those aren’t part of what’s around but there’s still the wonderful chai, breakfast blend, earl grey, four seasons, and others. Yay!

And nor is this one among the green teas in the current Samovar online store, but since my experience of yesterday with the Den’s Houjicha, I’m thinking it’s way past time to do this sample. This one does have going for it that it’s never been opened, so perhaps that will make a difference.

I didn’t want to wait for the water in my boiler to cool from oolong temp of 195F, but the Breville doesn’t like to be filled to less than 500 ml. I’m taking a chance and only filled it to about 250, then set the temp to 175 and steeped for 1.5 minutes (much longer than Den’s recommends, but half the time Samovar instructs on its sample packet).

The leaves didn’t have much smell when I opened the packet, but the tea smells roasty ricey and is a clear tan color. Alas, the lesson learned yesterday appears to have been reinforced today. I suspect this would have had much more flavor when fresh. Though the packet was closed, it wasn’t vacuum sealed. What I’m tasting is a very faint roasted rice flavor, a bit like pine nuts. Knowing Samovar, I expect this isn’t what I should have experienced.

I’m not going to rate this because it doesn’t seem fair. I saved a lot of Samovar samples on the “best for last” theory, and I’m sorry I did. Lesson learned.

Flavors: Rice, Roasted

170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 250 ML

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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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