1994 Tasting Notes


I think of Margaret’s Hope second flush as the quintessential second flush Darjeeling. I haven’t had enough first flush Darjeelings to identify one as an examplar.

But what blows my mind is how different the two are from each other. This first flush is so mellow and gentle. Nothing sharp about it. The description says it has a balanced pungency, but I don’t find it pungent — or at least so far less pungent than some other Darjeelings that I wouldn’t think of that word to describe it.

I steeped according to the package directions, which is hotter than I’ve read is the temperature for first flush. This yielded a light honey-colored clear tea that smells like peach to me. The flavor is pleasantly nutty, grapey, and and stone fruity as well. I don’t really taste lime zest to the point where I could have identified it had I not read the description, but I think I know what the description is getting at. There’s a slight bitterness, not enough to be unpleasant, but reminiscent of citrus skin.

The tea is light bodied and it does produce in me a bit of that waterlogged feeling I get from first flush Darjeelings.

Flavors: Grapes, Nuts, Peach, Stonefruit

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

I love Margaret’s Hope second flushes! I will have to try Upton Tea’s product since I have been disappointed with another vendor’s product, which seemed older and more tired than I expected.


It’s funny, I think of them when I think of Darjeeling but I actually prefer those from some other estates that aren’t as sharp. It was interesting to taste this first flush from Margaret’s Hope which is so different.

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drank Pear Caramel by Leland Tea Co
1994 tasting notes

Cracking this one open on a rainy day in sun land.

This is interesting. The dry leaf does have some sort of fruitiness to its fragrance, but having had the dragonfruit tisane recently I’m smelling that more than pear. I smell the caramel, too. There’s not a lot of underlying tea aroma in the dry leaf.

I’m with Rosehips on this one. Steeped, the aroma is primarily of caramel and I’m not really able to discern a pear smell, either separately or as an add on to the caramel. The tea is a medium-dark copper and clear.

I taste the caramel for sure, but I have to really focus to get anything that I could identify as pear. It’s not completely missing, but I taste it more in its effect on the caramel than as a separate flavor. It broadens the caramel flavor, for lack of a better word. Spreads it out, so that it isn’t a concentrated flavor and adds a “fresh” note.

This tea isn’t sweet, as so many caramel teas are. I could add something to it, but I wish it was a bit sweeter on its own. I have the sense that some sweetness could bring out the pear more as well.

The tea is enjoyable and flavorful. I’m only docking points because I wanted and expected more pear.

Flavors: Caramel, Pear

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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drank Peacherino by Todd & Holland
1994 tasting notes

The BF is quite sick with a bad cough. He’s a big peach fan. The two together resulted in him saying this is the best thing he’s ever tasted.

I’m not on the same page, though I do like this quite a bit.

Honestly, I’ve tried so many peach tisanes lately I can’t keep them all straight. There’s the Teavana, the Harney, the David’s and now this. There may even be others in there somewhere that I’m forgetting.

They all have in common the big chunky fruit blend thing. This one has one of the peachier aromas in the dry mix. It’s pretty peachy after steeping too, but there’s a fair amount of apple as well. The color is a pretty intense, dark wine red.

It’s a good solid peach fruit blend. I think it may be a bit mellower than the Harney and not quite as wonderful as the David’s. But it’s hard to know without tasting them all back to back. Rating accordingly.

Flavors: Apple, Hibiscus, Peach

Boiling 7 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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drank White Ginger by Golden Moon Tea
1994 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 53 of 2018 (no. 409 total).

I’ve been taking this to work for the past couple of weeks as a break from taking green tea to work. It got chosen as it was currently the lowest rated non-herbal in my cupboard. This is pretty deceptive because most of the teas I’ve got in my cupboard don’t have notes yet, and in any case 73 is not a low rating on my scale.

My default, I’ve discovered, is somewhere in the 80s most of the time. I’m working to be a bit more critical than that as I think clumping so many things together sort of defeats the purpose of rating.

Part of the issue I have with this one isn’t really it’s fault. It’s that it’s a white tea, and frankly, white tea doesn’t do a lot for me. If I can get flavor out of it at all, I consider that a plus. I have a lot of white tea, but honestly, I think once I pare down my stash I might have one or two at the most at any given time going forward. That’s how much I don’t get them.

The ginger is what makes this at all interesting to me. It’s a nice ginger flavor. Not too strong, too heavy, or too spicy.

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Sipdown no. 52 of 2018 (no. 408 total).

Drank much of this tin as cold brew, since this tea managed to be the lowest rated plain black tea in my cupboard. Which makes me think I’m pretty much a softy when it comes to ratings.

It’s not a bad tea. It’s a good tea. It’s even a very good tea. It just doesn’t make me do cartwheels and back flips, and given that there are teas out there that do, I don’t see a reason to put this on the must have list.

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drank Golden Honey Dew by Lupicia
1994 tasting notes

Lupicia has a way with melon. Their white melon was quite wonderful. This is another success.

You wouldn’t know it from the dry blend — it has an intense, pungent smell that was mildly disturbing in its intensity and somewhat chemical. But all that goes away with the steeping.

The aroma is just honeydew — no distracting other flavors, and even the rooibos is undetectable. Fortunately, that’s also the case with the flavor.

It’s a little subtle, but not too much so, nor does it taste like the run off from a melon. It’s got a nice balance, a touch of sweetness, and a fascinating freshness to the mouthfeel. The liquor is a pretty astonishing intense orange and clear.

Definitely a keeper.

Flavors: Honeydew

Boiling 7 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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The dry mix smells very earthy and fresh, with some berry thrown in. I think the earthy fresh smell is the kiwi.

Amusingly, after steeping, the aroma reminded me of hot Mogen David concord grape wine. Very sugary sweet, and something about the mix of the strawberry and kiwi recalled Mogen David to me. And I’m not just saying this because it’s Passover. I didn’t even get it together to make a seder this year.

The color is a deep, dark red. Sort of wine colored, but not the purple color of concord grape. Thankfully.

I like the taste. I think I actually like it better than the Magic Dragon from David’s the other day, so I’m rating it higher. But I wish I still had some Necessiteas Strawberry Kiwi to taste it against, as I quite liked that one. I’m not sure now, as it has been a while, but I may even like that one better. I see I rated it a 79. So I suspect I’d bump the rating now.

Flavors: Fruity, Grapes, Red Wine, Strawberry

Boiling 7 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML
Evol Ving Ness

Happy Passover!


Thank you!

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Sipdown no. 51 of 2018 (no. 407 total). Sample tin.

Given my lukewarm reception to this yesterday, I decided to go cold with it. (See what I did there?) Just enough in the tin to make a full pitcher (with a tad of River Shannon Breakfast Blend to round out the last spoon).

It’s steeping away in the fridge right now. We’ll see what that does — tomorrow.

P.S. Took the kids to see Ready Player One over the weekend. Enjoyed it. VERY different from the book.


Now, that’s some dedication to making any tea reveal its good side!


Heh. I try.

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drank Lapsang Souchong by Lupicia
1994 tasting notes

Today, I did not over steep. Not surprisingly, steeping for only three minutes vastly improved my experience of this tea. So much so that I now prefer it to the Tavalon that I recently sipped down. While it still doesn’t have that sweetness that I appreciated in the Kusmi and Leafspa, it is mellower than the Tavlon and less ashy. Bumping the rating.

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I got this tea through the Cultured Cup, where I placed an order for a number of Mariage Freres teas. I didn’t know who Stephen Pyles was until I found this tea and read about him, but for those who don’t know, he’s an award-winning chef based in Dallas who is known for the “southwest” style.

My guess is that the Cultured Cup commissions custom blends from Mariage Freres, as well as selling some of their standards, because I’ve seen several teas available at the Cultured Cup that bear the Mariage Freres name, but that I haven’t seen on the Mariage Freres site or elsewhere.

In any case, this one smells heavily of bergamot in the packet. After steeping, there’s a dusky vanilla mixed in with the bergamot, along with a baked bread quality in the aroma. The tea is a clear, dark chestnut.

As with most Mariage Freres and indeed most French blends, there’s no clear demarcation between where the flavor ends and the tea begins. The flavors don’t just sit on top of the tea, they meld with it in a very pleasant way.

The bergamot isn’t overpowering in the sip, but it does linger in the aftertaste, moreso than the vanilla.

The only thing that’s missing, and that would make this truly wonderful is more depth to the tea base. With a malty Yunnan base, this would be spectacular.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Bergamot, Vanilla

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 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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