138 Tasting Notes

Whoops, it’s been a while since I’ve logged anything. I’ve been rather busy as of late what with bumbling through the Real World with this job thing and bills and insurance and whatnot. When I found out I was eligible for a retirement investment plan thing I went full on into “I have no idea what I’m doing” mode for a good week or so until I (hopefully) figured out what to do with that.

Anyway, I think I’m slowly getting the hang of this…

In the meantime, I’ve mostly been sipping on some old favourites and didn’t get around to writing notes of new teas I’ve had as of late. Fortunately I still have some left for most of them so I can revisit and take notes when I can.

I rinsed this one once for 5 seconds and somewhat absentmindledly drank it by accident.

Now I’m on steep 2 or 3. Or maybe 4. I can’t remember which because my hands are on autopilot since my brain yells “MORE” every time it notices the cup is empty. It’s really starting to open up (in flavour and the ball unfurling) at this point though, which makes me think I’m on steep 4.

One orb that I forgot to weigh, 150 ml gaiwan that I tend to underfill. 5-10 second steeps.

Smooth and silky mouthfeel. There’s an edge of vegetal tartness/bitterness to it that complements the hint of floral sweetness and juciness I’m getting. The aftertaste (huigan? ugh I’ve forgotten a lot of terms as well) is quite prominent. Sweet sugarcane, I think? Man, I’ve got to work on identifying flavours better.

It’s been a while since I’ve been properly tea drunk but I think this can easily get me there. I’m feeling pretty tea buzzed right now. I’m feeling surprisingly alert and energetic (a little bouncy) yet calm at the moment.

It’s almost midnight so I don’t know if I’ll steep this to the end tonight or set it aside to dry and then work on it in the morning but there’s still a lot left in this tiny orb!

(Steep #x + 1 : so soothing. Aftertaste keeps getting sweeter and sweeter. I’m taking longer pauses between each sip to just enjoy the aftertaste. Also I’m surprisingly calm/content now considering I was feeling pretty down all day today. Tea is great.)


2.5 hours later and I’m definitely tea drunk. Of the calm yet bouncy kind.


The morning after:
Steep #x + 4 or 5
a) this is still going pretty strong.
b) huigan makes me think I’ve eaten some candies.
c) still smooth, flavour has veered a little more vegetal but the sweetness is still there. I think at this point I’m mostly paying attention to the huigan. I’m kind of in love with the huigan.
d) guys, I think I’m tea drunk again.

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drank Special Dark by Mandala Tea
138 tasting notes

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drank Ban Tian Yao by Nannuoshan
138 tasting notes

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drank Random Steepings by Various Artists
138 tasting notes

Grandpa brew all the things!

It’s been a ridiculously busy few weeks and March doesn’t look like it’ll be fun at all. I’m out of the country for about two weeks for a class and have so many things to turn in/submit when I get back. I’m computerless in the meantime, since my laptop’s been out of commission for months (I do all of my writing on my desktop). I doubt I’ll be able to properly type out papers on my phone, haha.

Anyway, I’ve been grandpa brewing the hell out of anything that I can get my hands on in the morning over these last few weeks. Quick note of things brewed in my 12-oz Thermos Tea Tumbler, all water temps at 195F. Leaf quantities all ‘eyeballed’ but definitely on the lower end of everything, since the leaves just sit in the tumbler all day. I lug a 40 oz thermos around in my bag alongside the tea tumbler and top off the water when it gets low (half or 2/3rds gone).

Verdant’s Laoshan Roasted Oolong – use very, very small quantities of it. Roasty, chocolaty, with a cocoa bitterness that becomes more of an overwhelming burnt chocolate when too much leaf is used. Lasted for a full day— it got uncomfortably bitter for me the morning of the second day so I dumped it and went for fresh leaves.

White2Tea’s 2014 Bulang Lao Cha Tou – really sweet (molasses or brown sugar type sweetness with a touch of powderiness that reminds me of Special Dark), about 4-7 rinsed nuggets will do for an entire day. Got a sample of it from the tea club a week or two ago and immediately ordered another 100g that just came in this weekend, and now I wish I’d gotten even more just because of how convenient it is. This lasted for a day, but I probably could have pushed it to two days with hotter water on the second day.

Mandala’s Not-So-Mini-Tuos – dropped one in the mug, gave it a quick rinse, and off I went. Really bold/hearty and earthy, and the first mugful or two were really strong for me. Halving the mini tuocha might be a good idea next time. This lasted me for two days.

Mandala’s Pu Wen coin – I really loved this one grandpa style. It’s tied with W2T’s Chocolate Mini Shu and Bulang Laochatou in terms of tastiness/convenience when busy. Unfortunately, it’s the priciest of the three so I’m trying to save the ones I’ve got. Lasted two days.

Mandala’s Rou Gui – fruity and sort of cinnamon-y, mildly roasty and ‘bright’. A pinch or two of leaves lasted for about a day— the flavour started weakening near the end, so I don’t think it could have gone for two full days.

195 °F / 90 °C

Hey I resemble that grandpa remark!

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drank Doke Rolling Thunder by Butiki Teas
138 tasting notes

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drank 2000 Chocolate Mini Shu by White2Tea
138 tasting notes

Yesterday I thought I’d try grandpa brewing the last square I had from White2Tea’s Tea Club. A quick rinse, and then the little square sat in my tumbler for a few hours as I sipped from it.

Unsurprisingly, it was a really, really strong brew. Dark, earthy, wet rocks. It was a little too intense for me during the first round of grandpa brewing that I poured half the tumbler into a mug and filled the mug up with hot water, which helped a lot. There was a pleasant, light sweetness to it. It was surprisingly crisp and refreshing, like how I’d imagine drinking from a stream would taste.

I have a tin of this on its way. At some point, when I have time (ha), I’ll have to do a proper gongfu side-by-side tasting with the ‘98 White Tuo. There’s something kind of familiar about this tea that made me think about the White Tuo.


I soak these squares in cold water for 5-10 minutes while waiting for the water to boil.


Thanks for the tip! I’ll keep that in mind for when I properly brew this. I’ve been trying to grandpa brew almost everything these last few weeks, haha. This has been a busy semester.

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drank Coffee & Cigarettes by Butiki Teas
138 tasting notes

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drank Premium Taiwanese Assam by Butiki Teas
138 tasting notes

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Bumping up the rating.

This is probably my favourite sheng. Stonefruit, leather, slight smokiness. I love smelling the wet leaves. I’d drink it more often if I could, but I’m trying to make it last a while because I love it so much, haha. Wish I’d gotten a tong of this, space issues be damned.


I was lucky to get two cakes when Mandala had it, their storage is really excellent.

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I have far too many interests. Tea is one of them.

Background in bioethics, medical anthropology, and evolutionary biology with aspirations of eventually going into a medical field.

Brewing method is usually Western style for black teas (2-3 minutes at near-boiling), “grandpa style” for shu pu’ers and longjing, and gongfu (with a gaiwan) short steeps for sheng and shu pu’ers (two 5-second rinses, then 5, 10, 15-second steeps with a gradual increase in steep times to taste). The gaiwan is also used for oolongs though I sometimes use a brew basket if the gaiwan is occupied and I’m taking a break from pu’er.

I enjoy black teas, pu’er, and oolongs (leaning towards aged, cliff/Wuyi, or roasted/dark), depending on my mood. I don’t usually drink green tea but do enjoy a cup every so often.

My rating methods have changed over time and as a result, they’re very inconsistent. For the most part, as of 11 November 2014, unless a tea is exceptional in some way (either good or bad), I will refrain from leaving a numerical rating.

The final iteration of my rating system before I stopped (note: I never did get around to re-calibrating most of my older notes):
99 & 100: I will go to almost any lengths to keep this stocked in my cupboard.
90-98: I’m willing to or already do frequently repurchase this when my stock runs low.
80-89: I enjoy this tea, and I may be inclined to get more of it once I run out.
70-79: While this is a good tea, I don’t plan on having it in constant supply in my tea stash.
50-69: This might still be a good tea, but I wouldn’t get it myself.
40-49: Just tolerable enough for me to finish the cup, but I don’t think I’ll be trying it again any time soon.
Below 40: Noping the heck out of this cup/pot.

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