23 Tasting Notes


The dry aroma is very pleasant: hickory smoke, leather, chili pepper, seeet pipe tobacco, a touch of spring soil. It actually reminds me of barbecue sauce. The effect is light, young, and sweet rather than heavy and dank.

(Note: I was using relatively long steepings close to a minute)

First steeping has that sweetness in the flavor. The color is woody, medium brown and a bit yellowish. As promised by the name, the tea unfolds in the pot to reveal large pieces of greenish-brown leaves. The liquor is thin and softly textured. That light pipe tobacco flavor comes through, barbecue sweetness, a touch of barnyard/horse aroma. There’s a bright sweetness at the top that could just maybe be orange peel. After a few minutes the energizing effect begins, invigorating and warming with a gentle “high,” becoming a bit jittery the more I drink.

Further steepings bring out more of a menthol cooling effect in the mouth, which increasingly dominates the experience with additional steepings.

Overall, wonderfully balanced and refined but still exciting and surprising. Some pu-erhs scream, this one sings like Ella Fitzgerald.

And as a bonus, it’s pretty reasonably priced.

Flavors: Barnyard, Earth, Leather, Menthol, Sweet, Tobacco, Wood

Boiling 1 min, 0 sec

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A Wegman’s just opened up near me. Of course I headed straight for the tea aisle. Imagine my delight to find they sold bulk loose tea! Picked up some of this stuff.

The aroma hits you with a pungent, woodsy punch. The liquor is a rich brown, like fine Corinthian leather, or maybe medium-roast coffee. The flavor, a hint of smoke, pipe tobacco leaves, a little dark chocolate, a nip of bitterness but not too much. Actually, it kind of reminds me of Scotch. It’s both rough and refined at the same time. Feels nice going down and warms your insides. But unlike most English Breakfasts, I don’t get much malt at all. This is one I could see myself acquiring a taste for. And it’s cheap, too!

Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Honey, Smoke, Tobacco, Wood

Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

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drank Silver Needle by Teavana
23 tasting notes

Question: does anyone know how to mark this tea as “available”? It definitely is.

My review:
This is a wonderfully delicate tea in flavor. Gentle and refined. Not one to drink if you’re looking to be smacked in the mouth with flavor.

In the cup, it comes out a light, slightly orange-ish tan color. The first aroma I get is floral. I’d say Jasmine, but I’m not much of a flower guy. A soft, pleasing scent. A definite sweetness: apricots and honey. There’s a slight taste of straw/hay as well. And a light creaminess, a splash of dairy, in the flavor. Although the texture is not creamy, simply pure like spring water. After a bit more steeping, a bright somewhat acidic note starts to emerge, like the feel of citrus, but not actually citrus flavor.

I’d say this is perfect for drinking on a mid-Spring morning. It goes with sitting back as warm, gentle breezes carry the smell of growing things to you.

It’s also great for blending. I tried it with Sencha, and it added a nice softness to the flavor.

Although undoubtedly overpriced, if you’re looking for a white tea, it’s not a bad choice.

Flavors: Cream, Floral, Hay, Honey

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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I bought this at a large Asian supermarket in the US. The package looked different but I think it’s the same tea (mine was white with a green Chinese character on the front). It’s a very plain oolong. It’s certainly drinkable but not what I would call a fine tea, just standard commercial grade. Randomly shredded leaves with lots of twig. Heavy roasted flavor. After a lot of steeping, some light pine notes emerge.

Flavors: Pine, Roasted

200 °F / 93 °C

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My friend ordered this in their teahouse. I had a sip of it and had to bring home some for myself.

Large, stiff, tightly rolled leaves. The aroma of raspberries and cream rises to meet your nose.

Brewing retains those berry aromas and a touch of sweet milkiness, while adding a bit of maltiness and a little bite of astringency and bitterness. The texture is silky smooth and medium-thin.

This would be an excellent breakfast tea, if you like yours a bit on the lighter side. Superb with milk (and sugar, if you wish). A nice example of an Indian black tea with that touch of tart berry giving it something unique.

Flavors: Berries, Malt, Milk, Raspberry, Sweet, Tannic

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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Second to last in the Verdant $5 sampler (possibly the best $5 I’ve ever spent, by the way).

Dry leaves—Thin curled strands of dark green. Wonderful multi-layered aroma, quite creamy, reminds me of a matcha latte, strong green-vegetal notes, and a distinct touch of cocoa powder.

Pale yellow-green liquor. Rich mouthfeel, on the creamy side. The taste, while not being bold or overpowering, is fairly robust. Quite a roasty flavor, almost malty, good green-tea-grassy-vegetal flavors up front, a bit of bitterness and spice, hints of something vaguely sulfur(?) at the end. Steeping brings out the bitterness quite easily, so stick to short steep times at first.

0 min, 30 sec

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Dry leaves have an alluring chocolate-covered-berries aroma. They’re a roughly cut mix of leaves and some stems averaging out to tobacco-brown, but with a range of colors from black to green.

I wasn’t sure what to expect of Spice and Tea Exchange, but this brews up a quality cup of tea. It has a coffee-like richness with a fruit/sweet quality, finishing with a touch of spice. It’s pleasantly smooth on the palate. This is a versatile tea that would be great on its own, with milk, or iced.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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Working my way through the Verdant sampler pack…

I think I could just smell the dry leaves all day. Dark, rolled leaves giving off an aroma of dark-chocolate-covered caramel, cinnamon, slight floral notes and perhaps raspberry?, plus a special oolong quality that I’ll call “X-factor.”

Steeped, it comes up toasty and nutty, with green tea-like flavors, and a subtle layer of chocolate. It has a light, clean texture, very drinkable. However, astringent and slightly bitter flavors do creep in with longer steeping, so be careful not to oversteep. Multiple shorter steeps are best.
I did not get much (if any) of the cream/butter qualities others picked up on.

Nothing crazy or shocking here—This is an oolong for when you just want a good oolong!


ahahahah X-Factor

Yeah Wuyi’s are pretty much short quick steeps only. I tend to like to under-leaf slightly. It helps when you are trying to get out subtle nuances in it; especially if you don’t have a gawain or have a slow pour tea pot.

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I’m not a tea expert by any means. I still have so much to learn and experience about the amazing and enormous world of tea!

I tend to prefer my tea unsweetened, with no added flavors. On the other hand, sometimes nothing will do but Earl Grey with lots of milk and sugar, spicy Chai, or taro milk tea. I usually take it hot, but will definitely enjoy an iced tea, or even a matcha smoothie, in the summertime.

Japanese green
Oolong (I’m still figures out which styles are my favorite)

Key to my reviews:
95-100: Amazing, mind-blowing tea (I’ve never given this rating yet)
90-95: An exceptional tea, truly excellent. A work of art.
80-89: A very good tea, strongly recommended. Not just high quality, but something special that puts it ahead of the pack.
70-79: A good tea, a solid recommendation. Made with care and quality. Nothing obviously “wrong” with it, but may not have that extra special “something.”
60-68: A pretty good tea. One you could drink daily without disappointment. May have one or two negative qualities, but more good than bad.
50-59: The lowest level of tea I’d consider worth drinking more than once. Usually will only choose it if it’s the only thing I have around.
49 and below: Bad teas, from just “meh” to “spit it out and run for the Listerine.” I probably won’t bother reviewing many in this category.


New England, USA

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