145 Tasting Notes

Early steeps are dark and sort of earthy with a light sweetness. Later steeps become much lighter and sweeter with no earthiness. Hopefully by the time my tea box is no longer overflowing I may be able to get another brick of this and some more of their other Bulang shu. That might be a while, though.

Steeped this in a clay teapot my uncle gave me a few years back— I don’t remember if it’s yixing or not and I may have previously used it a few times for black teas, but I’ve reseasoned it for shu pu’ers now. I recently rediscovered another two clay teapots that were gifted to me by my relatives but disappeared amidst moving chaos last year. One’s now seasoned for shengs and the other oolongs (primarily roasted ones, I’m thinking). Hopefully I’ll be able to find some time this upcoming semester to use them every so often!


i think this tea is great everyday tea. quality tea that tastes good. and can i have your relatives ? nobody gives me yixing


Agreed, it’s a fantastic everyday tea. Also a great example of how a tea’s flavour can change throughout steeps. I really loved having it in the morning and then steeping it throughout the day— I usually like strong/earthy pu’er in the morning and something lighter/sweeter in the evenings.


Good stuff.

Crimson Lotus Tea

It’s always nice when you rediscover teapots that disappeared! :-)

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Thanks Angel and Teavivre for the samples!

So generally, I’m not a huge fan of floral teas. Or floral anything. Can’t stand jasmine-scented anything, lavender alarms rather than soothes me.

The one exception to that rule is osmanthus.

I remember when I was a kid, my mom would mix a bunch of little osmanthus flowers with sugar. She’d just use a tiny bit of the scented sugar in whatever thing she was making (usually some kind of congee or porridge) and the whole kitchen would explode with the fragrance. I’d come running to breakfast that morning. I loved the taste and smell of osmanthus so much.

It’s been years since I’ve lived with my parents, and even longer since I’ve had that congee. We moved and good osmanthus flowers pretty much became impossible to find. That jar of osmanthus sugar lasted for one glorious year and I still remember how sad I was when it ran out.

Anyway, this tea is fantastic. Not at all overly-scented or artificial-tasting. It might be my memory playing with me, but I think it’s slightly sweet, far from cloying. The natural floral flavour of the base tea works well with the osmanthus flavouring. Osmanthus still lingering in a resteep, but just barely. I really like this one.

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drank 2005 Ripe Bulang Maocha by White2Tea
145 tasting notes

The sticky rice description is incredibly accurate. If the whole sipping a hot liquid thing didn’t give it away, I’d probably think I was eating lightly sweetened sticky rice.

On a side note, I think I’m coming down with something. My sinuses were really bothering me earlier today and I could barely pick out specific flavour notes between the two shus I had today. Bleh.

No rating because I think I’ve given up on doing numerical ratings at this point, since recalibrating previous reviews is a pain.


Ugh, the numerical ratings are killing me too. I know my scale has changed a fair bit – it’s way more helpful for me to read my reviews to figure out whether I thought I tea was reasonable or not.


I agree! This is a nice one.

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drank Hello Sweetie by Butiki Teas
145 tasting notes

I can probably count on one hand the companies I get my flavoured teas from, and Butiki is one of them. After reading all the rave reviews of this, I added it to my wishlist and it sat there for a long time until I read about Butiki’s eventual closing.

Somehow a package filled with tea showed up on my doorstep last week. No idea how that happened.

I had a rather hectic week, so I didn’t get around to trying anything in it until yesterday, when I pulled this one out at random. Three teaspoons, 12 oz water at 200 F, and I had dessert in a cup.

One thing I love about Butiki’s flavoured teas is how the flavouring really complements the base tea. I didn’t get much in the way of bananas, but the coconut and buttery toffee went deliciously well with the honey and caramel of the Premium Taiwanese Assam base. And my room smelled like cookies.

I’m very tempted to get more before it’s gone for good. There’s something so comforting about this tea.


Funny how the tea just appears…. >.>

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drank Golden Turtle by Mandala Tea
145 tasting notes

Got this from a while back but only had it a few times. Lovely, buttery texture. Lightly floral and slightly vegetal with a hint of savouriness.

To be honest, since I got this I discovered that I’m not a huge fan of floral notes in my teas (which is why I’m choosing to not rate it). Otherwise, this is an excellent tea for lovers of Anxi tieguanyin. Personally, I find it a bit too green for my taste, but I’m glad to have tried it. I do like the texture.

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Sipdown of the 2012 batch.

Tastes different from the cake form. Some notes seem stronger, in some way, but other notes (like the light smokiness) seem to have disappeared. Still pleasantly sweet and crisp. I think I prefer the cakes, but this is still very good!

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Light, sweet, with some slight woodiness. Mouthwatering aftertaste. I have no idea why I sometimes think I taste the tiniest hint of banana in this. (The last time this happened, it was more prominent and with Mandala’s 2009 Bulang Gong Ting shu but I don’t think the leaves are from the same region…)

The first time I brewed this, I used my 150 ml gaiwan. It tasted pretty good, but I wasn’t getting much of an aftertaste or the “mellow sweetness” mentioned in the description. It didn’t really impress me, to be honest.

I decided that I wanted a mug of tea earlier tonight, rather than multiple little cups. Normally, I go for flavoured teas or black teas at this hour (caffeine doesn’t really affect me, which is a blessing as a tea drinker and a curse as a student) but for mysterious and unknown reasons I reached into my box of pu’er samples instead and randomly pulled out a pouch.

So, I brewed it with my infuser and mug (quick rinse x2, 5 second steep). I must have messed up with the ratios in my gaiwan the first time around, because I can certainly taste the sweetness and mouthwatering aftertaste now! Definitely a huge departure from the earthy, dark shus I usually prefer.

195 °F / 90 °C
Crimson Lotus Tea

Glad you gave it a second go! I have come to like that one more and more. Like you said it is a huge departure from the earthy, dark shus I usually prefer. :-) That’s why I like it.

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This tea sends me into a very happy place.

I probably should not have had it at 11 PM. I might not be able to sleep.

In which case, I’ll take the newfound energy I have and continue tackling the neverending readings I have.

Brewed with my new gaiwan, 10 second steeps.

195 °F / 90 °C

Did you get this from Mandala? I bought 2 of this cake from them, their storage of this cake is excellent. Really like this cake and I don’t expect the current price to stay so low once other purveyors sell out of this.


Yep! I tried a sample from them a few months ago and wound up getting 2 cakes not long after. So glad I did. I think they’ve sold out of them now. (Which might be a good thing for my wallet/limited apartment space, haha.)


Holy cow, it is out of stock!

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I think this is the third Darjeeling I’ve ever had. The first was from years ago and I remember thinking it was okay. The second was a sample of Castleton Moonlight Oolong or something last year. I remember liking it, but not enough to compel me to immediately place an order.

Anyway, I didn’t really take notes of it as I was drinking it earlier today, but I did enjoy it and resteeped it another time. Couldn’t taste anything apple-y like the other notes mentioned, but it was a nice, comforting brew with a light astringency near the end. I definitely do want to explore more Darjeelings eventually (pu’er and a few aged oolongs are mostly taking up my attention at the moment).

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 15 sec

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Best thing ever.

Basically, I drink so much tea that I kept breaking cheap (under $30) electric kettles every year/year and a half. After going through my third one (the base leaked water and it became an electric hazard), I figured I’d save up over the summer for one of these and wound up getting it a little before classes started, which was almost two weeks ago. I’ll try to remember to update this over time.

So far, no complaints. I picked this one (instead of the 3L Champagne Gold model) due to its larger capacity and vaccum-electric hybrid, which is supposed to help reduce electricity consumption (which would hopefully lead to a slightly lower electric bill than if I’d gotten the 3L model). The music notification irritated me, but pressing and holding the “Unlock” button for several seconds can set it to Beep or Silent mode, so I set it for the former.

There are three temperature settings (in F): 208, 195, 175, and a Vaccum Insulation-only mode.

The only two things I want to point out:

It always boils water first, then lets it cool to the temperature specified. This is probably the only big flaw I can see for tea drinkers who want to make the most out of their water by only letting it heat up to the temperature they want and not go over that.

For college/grad students (or people who do a lot of moving and live in small spaces like studio or efficiency apartments): This is kinda big. Not massive, but definitely a little bigger than I expected (it has a 4L capacity, after all). But it shouldn’t be too hard to find a box for it if you don’t have the original and need to move. And it’s not oddly shaped like a gooseneck kettle, which is a huge plus when it comes to packing.


Awesome review, was wondering how this thing actually works. Seems like it would take up an additional room all to itself! 4 L is obscenely huge and incredibly tick. I think the boil then cool is the way to go, it follows the method for Japanese tea, and would also boil off any odd tastes and stray bacteria in the water. If the local water supply goes bad you would be all set for that too!


How long does it take to heat the water? I downloaded the Owner Manual from the website and it said 35-40 minutes! Seriously?? Is that true?


It boils for a few minutes before the “done” notification sounds. From my experience, it takes around 30 minutes to go from cold tap water to a “done” boil beep. I’ve taken to unplugging and refilling it with room temperature water after the water level drops a little under 1L. It seems to take around 15-20 minutes to get to the “done” beep then. You can dispense water at any time as it’s heating up though.


Wow, I guess this product isn’t for me then. I’ve heard such great things about it but I don’t want to wait 30 minutes just for boiling water. I guess it’s convenient for re-steeps? Anyway, thanks for writing back!


Oh, sorry if I wasn’t clear earlier— it keeps the water at the specified temperature (mine’s currently at the hottest, 208F) after the water heats up. So once the water’s boiled you don’t need to reboil/reheat it until it’s time to refill (or if you use the insulation-only mode). There’s a turn-on reboil timer that you can set in any mode, though I’ve really only ever used it when I kept it in the insulation-only mode. I’d set it at night and tell it to start heating up when I wake up so that I could have a cup of tea after my shower.

It’s super convenient for resteeping and for making tea throughout the day without needing to wait for the water to heat. It worked for me as a student since I’d study in my room a lot and constantly drink tea while studying/writing. For days where I’d be in the library, I could quickly fill up a giant thermos of hot water for “grandpa brewing” teas in a separate tumbler. A 2L electric kettle would have worked just as well for the latter scenario though.

For my current situation (spending more time outside the house), this is admittedly somewhat overkill since I run around with the giant thermos. I try to get in a few gongfu sessions most evenings—its convenience is much more apparent then. I think if you brew Western style once or twice a day and don’t tend to resteep or if you’re not at home very much when you make/drink tea, this might be a little excessive.

I hope that helps a bit more! Good luck on your teaware search!


Thanks Ag! I’m going to get a 2L electric kettle cause I think that’ll suite my needs just fine. I appreciate the detailed review!

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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. I also have strong interests in theater, computer science, and food (which shouldn’t be particularly surprising).

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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