386 Tasting Notes

drank Bai Lin Kung Fu by Shang Tea
386 tasting notes

Yay, I feel much more comfortable tasting these Shang teas now that I’m home with my variable temperature kettle. My mother doesn’t really have a thermometer that lends itself to measuring water temperature – she just has the “instant read” variety that you normally use for meat, and they take too long to measure the temperature, allowing the water to cool somewhat in the time it takes to find out the temperature. Anyway, hooray for kettles! I did have good experiences with the Shang teas I tried at her place as well, so no harm done there.

So, this tea. The dry leaves are very dark and rather small and wiry, and there are a very few golden tips mixed in. Their scent is mostly raw, chewy grains (if you don’t know what I mean, chew on a little bit of raw oats or other cereal grain). I get a little whiff of peanuts in the shell also, which is interesting. I was considering doing a 3-minute steep, but I ended up stopping at 2 (which I think was the correct decision).

The brewed aroma is dark multigrain baked bread studded with dark dried fruits (raisins, cherries, prunes) and drizzled with a touch of molasses. I love the bready teas, so it was making my mouth water! Yum, this tea! It definitely has both the chewy raw grain flavor and the dark baked bread flavor as well. Best of both worlds! That dark fruitiness from the aroma is also present in the taste. I get just the tiniest hint of cinnamon near the end of the sip, and I love it in this tea! Funnily enough, I can taste the peanuts from the dry scent, hah! No shells this time, just raw or lightly roasted peanuts. Of course, there’s a coating of honey/molasses over the top of the whole darn thing! Overall, this is a very “thick” tasting tea with a heavy mouthfeel. I’m quite glad I didn’t steep it longer, because it’s quite flavorful even at 2 minutes!

I think this might be my favorite so far of their red teas. I have another packet of Golden Needle so I’ll drink that later to compare! :D

Flavors: Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Dried Fruit, Grain, Honey, Molasses, Peanut, Raisins

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

High five! That’s my favorite too

Cameron B.

So good, boychik! I love the bready/grainy teas, and this is the motherlode! :D

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Continuing my re-tasting of these chanakara teas that I bought a year or more ago. Luckily there were a couple of boxes that were still wrapped in cellophane, and the flavor seems to be very present so far. When I wanted a caffeine-free tea to sip on, I went for this one. I’m not terribly familiar with dragonfruit itself. I’ve seen them for sale before, but I’ve never actually tasted one. The dry tea bag smells very gingery… uh oh. I steeped for 5 minutes in boiling water.

The brewed aroma is fruity and quite tart from the hibiscus. I can definitely pick up on a kick of ginger. Because of the smell, I added a teaspoon of sugar before I even tasted this tea. I am actually pleasantly surprised by it considering the number of ingredients in it that I don’t generally enjoy (ginger, hibiscus, licorice). Most of the flavor is a lovely fruitiness that is accented but not overpowered by the hibiscus. The fruit definitely reminds me of other “exotic” fruits, such as mango and papaya. I taste the ginger and peppermint only at the end of the sip, and even then they’re quite mild and play nicely off of the fruit.

Overall, I’m quite impressed with the fruit flavor in here, and the restraint on the hibiscus! This would make a super delicious iced tea, too. I might have to order more of this one, and perhaps the loose leaf version this time around!

Flavors: Fruity, Ginger, Hibiscus, Peppermint, Tart

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 8 OZ / 236 ML

This may be silly…but the name makes me think of naruto

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Jeez, I’m really going through the teas I got from Roswell Strange. Every time I go into the kitchen to choose a tea, I end up with one of hers. This one is “generic” black tea leaves with a few slices of almond and some red flower petals. It smells of sugar and caramel with some almond and cinnamon in there too. I did a 3-minute steep at 200 degrees, next time I may go for longer.

The brewed aroma is cinnamon and honey roasted almonds. Yum! I added sugar to mine, and it’s lovely brown sugar-candied almonds with just a little touch of cinnamon. There’s a definite caramelized taste here, and a little hint of buttery pastry. Mine came out just a little bit weaker than I would have liked, so I will probably try a longer steep for the other half of my sample. Overall, I love the flavors here. :D

Flavors: Almond, Brown Sugar, Butter, Caramel, Cinnamon, Pastries, Sweet

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Roswell Strange

Very rarely do I criticize Butiki teas; but this one is the flavour I really wanted from Almond Indulgence, but didn’t get. Plus it’s cool supporting a local company, too. :)

Cameron B.

I considered ordering Almond Indulgence, but it didn’t end up making it into my order. I really like most almond flavored things.

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Another tea from Roswell Strange! And another tea that I was curious about, although it didn’t quite make my Butiki order last weekend. The tea itself is quite beautiful – silver tips mixed with a few pink flower petals. It smells like lovely refreshing watermelon. I followed Stacy’s instructions and did 185 degrees for 4.5 minutes. I may have used a bit more than two teaspoons, maybe closer to a tablespoon.

The brewed aroma is very faint, but it’s the same juicy watermelon from the dry leaves. Yum, this tea! It’s definitely the most convincing, most authentic watermelon flavor (or any fruit flavor really) that I’ve ever tasted in a tea. I did add sugar to mine, just to amp up that lovely flavor. Stacy was right in her description, I did start to get more and more honey notes as the tea cooled. Yum, honey-drizzled watermelon! I didn’t get any floral, but I certainly don’t miss it. In the background, there’s a bit of that lovely hay and grain white tea taste that I love. Yum yum! And I can definitely see this being amazing as a cold or iced brew.

Flavors: Grain, Hay, Honey, Melon, Sweet

185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Roswell Strange

Glad you liked this one! This was my first Butiki blend I ever tried :)

Cameron B.

It’s definitely very good and very accurate. I’ll have to wait and try the ones I ordered – there are way too many white blends that sound good. :P I think I ordered the Cantaloupe and the new Butterscotch one.

Terri HarpLady

This is one of Stacy’s best flavored teas!


Ha—the instructions on mine from my order a few months ago said a tablespoon.
Do your instructions say anything about adding sugar?

Cameron B.

Hey Memily, mine was actually a small sample in a Ziploc baggie, so I went by the instructions that are on the website (2 tsp, 4m30s, 185 degrees). It does suggest to add sugar for more watermelon flavor. :)


Ohhh ok! Yeah I don’t recommend adding sugar, makes it way too sickly sweet. It’s perfect just as it is.

Cameron B.

He he, I have a pretty high tolerance for sweet, so I thought it was good. :P But it was definitely delicious without it, too!

Butiki Teas

Oops, it is 1 tablespoon per 8oz of water. We switched Silver Needles and switched the info on the package but I guess we forgot about the website. Sorry about that.

Cameron B.

Not a problem, Stacy! I used a tablespoon anyway, heh. :D

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I’ve been wanting to try this tea for a while now, since I love blueberry and I’m always on the lookout for the perfect blueberry tea. Luckily, Roswell Strange was kind enough to send me some in our recent swap. Visually, it’s generic black tea with dried blueberries and random flower petals. The smell is jammy, sweet blueberry. Yummm…

Hm… I do enjoy the blueberry flavoring used in this tea, it’s sweet and jammy and delicious. I also enjoy the addition of elderberry in here, it adds a lovely depth. I get a hint of mintiness near the end of some sips, which is odd since there’s no mint here. My problem with this tea is the stevia – it adds that weird artificial sweetener aftertaste that I hate. And I don’t find that the stevia actually makes it very sweet, I added sugar to mine. I also find it a tad bit astringent for some reason.

So close, but not quite. Poo on stevia! :(

Flavors: Berries, Blueberry, Jam, Sweet

200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Roswell Strange

I always forget there’s Stevia in this one; for some reason I can’t taste Stevia. Guess I’m lucky? Glad it wasn’t AWFUL though :)

Cameron B.

It was really good otherwise. Poopy stevia. :P


I can’t taste the stevia in that one either, but I still don’t like that it is in there.

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This sample came from Nicole (sorry it takes me so long to get through your packages – you send me so much! :P). I have no idea what a jackfruit is, or what it would taste like… This tea is a mixture of rather large and straight green teas leaves and little stubby black tea leaves. There are sizable pieces of orange peel along with some fruit chunks and flower petals. The dry scent is… odd. It’s quite sour and reminds me of pickle brine with a fruity edge. That kind of worried me, heh! I went for a 5 minute steep (recommended is 4-5).

Oh thank goodness, the brewed tea doesn’t smell sour or pickly at all! Just very fruity (similar to mango) with some vanilla and little bit of green tea. Wow, this is delicious! :D It has a lovely creamy fruit flavor, like a mango smoothie. The vanilla is a lovely addition. The green tea base tastes a little bit like autumn leaves in the background. Near the end, I get a flavor that I originally thought tasted a bit like banana taffy, but after reading the description, it’s definitely almond extract. Really lovely!

Overall, this tea reminds me of a mango smoothie with vanilla almond milk. Yummy!

Flavors: Almond, Autumn Leaf Pile, Fruity, Mango, Sweet, Vanilla

175 °F / 79 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

I’ve never had a jackfruit either. :) But I like this tea.

Cameron B.

Seems quite similar to mango to me, if this tea is accurate. And I love mango! :D

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This tea came from Roswell Strange. I always jump on any chance I get to try French teas, since they tend to be a pain in the ass to get here in the US. So anytime I’m browsing someone’s cupboard for swap requests, these always jump out at me. I’ve definitely had good experiences with French flavored/scented teas so far! This one smells like black walnuts, hah! So clearly there’s something that contaminated the teas around it, maybe the Candied Almond tea? Not sure, but I don’t really care as long as it doesn’t carry over to the taste. :P I brewed this one with a very level teaspoon because I wanted to get two servings out of the little baggie, but I also did a tad bit less water than I normally use.

The brewed aroma is very mild – it mostly smells like a mellow black tea with caramel elements and maybe the tiniest hint of spice. I do get a little bit of a licorice smell for some reason, although I don’t think there’s licorice flavor in here. I added a scant teaspoon of sugar. Hmm… this is a very subtly flavored tea. I think I taste the black tea base before anything else. There’s some caramel sweetness swirling around, and I definitely get a touch of sweet orange and lemon (more of a candy lemon than a fresh one). The cinnamon manifests as a lovely warming sensation, and I’m tasting something that reminds me of anise or licorice, although it’s extremely mild. The apple comes in at the very end of the sip and combines with the caramel for a lovely aftertaste.

Overall, I think this is the most subtly flavored French tea I’ve had yet, and even though there are several flavors involved, they do merge and play beautifully together. Very nicely done, Dammann Freres!

Aww… I am getting a little bit of a black walnut flavor as it cools… Sad day. I’ll be sure to drink the other half of my sample while it’s still hot!

Flavors: Anise, Apple, Caramel, Lemon, Licorice, Orange, Sweet

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 207 ML

If you want to do a swap for more French tea samples (mostly DF and Fauchon) come September, let me know! I am too busy at the moment, but would probably be up for one then. :)

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I got this tea in a swap from Ost. She sent me a huge amount of it, I guess she didn’t like it much. Well, more for me! I’m not really a wine person, but I do like some sparkling wines (the sweet ones). The tea itself is mostly leaves with some silvery buds mixed in along with some thin red flower petals. It smells like candy! Very sweet and slightly tart raspberry with a definite effervescent quality. There’s white grape juice in there as well. I followed the instructions on Red Leaf’s website and did a 4 minute steep at (about) 180 degrees.

The brewed aroma is very similar to the dry but a bit milder. Woo, this tea! The first thing I notice about it is the effervescent champagne quality it has. Very bubbly! The raspberry flavor is still very candy-like in my opinion, but that’s okay. I’m definitely getting that white grape juice flavor that I smelled before. I added sugar to mine, as the tea wasn’t as sweet as I expected plain.

I can see this being fantastic and refreshing iced! Must try that later! :D Thanks Ost!

Flavors: Candy, Champagne, Hay, Raspberry, Sweet, White Grapes

185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

Glad you enjoyed it! (:

Cameron B.

It’s tasty. I can’t wait to try it iced, I bet it’s wonderful! :D

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Hooray, another tea from my 3rd anniversary sampler! I had totally forgotten which teas I chose as my optional ones, and I ended up ordering a sample of this in my sale order the night before last. Oops. I sent them an email asking to change it, just because I would rather try a different tea than one I’ve already had. If not, I won’t be too upset, because this tea is tasty. :D The dry leaves are long and sort of twisty, but more flat than I normally see. They’re quite dark, similar to a black tea. Their smell is a combination of musty hay, sweet honey, and dried apricots.

Mmm, roasty goodness. The brewed tea smells like autumn leaves and stonefruit, with a definite roasted note. I also get roasted leaves as the main note in the taste. It is accompanied by lovely ripe stonefruit drizzled with honey, and a touch of dark, rich raisin. There’s a little bit of a floral note that appears mostly in the aftertaste – I’m not a huge fan of floral, but I don’t mind it here. I also get a lingering roasty taste after the floral dissipates, and it lingers for quite some time. My brew came out a teensy bit bitter, but I think I overleafed it a bit and I probably should have stopped the steep at 2 minutes. Good to know for next time!

Overall, a lovely dark oolong. I can definitely see the similarities between this one and Oriental Beauty-style oolongs. Can’t wait to try more of this type of tea! :D

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Floral, Honey, Malt, Raisins, Roasted, Stonefruits

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

this sounds yummy!


I love Dancong, but I’ve never had Teavivres! yum!

Cameron B.

This is the first Dan Cong I’ve had, so I couldn’t tell you whether it’s similar to others or not. :P I enjoyed it, though!

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This is a tea that I’ve been really curious about for a while now, so I’m so excited that I got some in my swap from Roswell Strange! Thanks so much! I love marshmallow treats, and I love genmaicha, so obviously this one is a must-try. Visually, it pretty much looks like any other genmaicha, but with the addition of some mallow root pieces. There are a lot of rice kernels, along with a few popped ones. For some reason, the dry leaf smell like black walnuts to me, and I hate black walnuts. Possibly some scent contamination since there were several flavored teas in the envelope, but I’m not sure! None of the others really smell like black walnuts to me, so… Who knows? Anyway!

The brewed tea mostly smells like toasted rice, maybe with a little touch of vanilla in there. I tasted it sans sweetener and I found it mostly tasted like a plain ol’ genmaicha, albeit with extra toasty rice. So then I added sugar, and that definitely helped it to taste more like its namesake. The sweetness really helped the marshmallow/vanilla flavor to come out and play, yum! There’s a buttery taste – I’m not sure whether it’s flavoring or from the green tea itself. The green tea is there a little bit in the background, it mostly manifests as an autumn leafy taste and a slight grassiness.

Overall, I can definitely get the marshmallow treat reference once sugar is added. After all, marshmallows are mostly just sugar themselves. This is toastier than a marshmallow treat, but I think I would very much enjoy one made with toasted grains! Thanks again, Roswell Strange! I really appreciate the chance to try this one, since it’s discontinued. Luckily, I don’t quite love it enough to try to get ahold of some.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Butter, Grass, Marshmallow, Toasted Rice, Vanilla

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

Sounds pretty good, Cambot!!!

Cameron B.

Hah, you’re such a nerd. I think I prefer Lady Gaga as far as vanilla-ish genmaicha goes! Not really the same thing, but close enough. :D


Oh yeah, I know. :p

The idea is similar, so that makes sense! I wish I could like the greens more.


I dot know if you have any left, but you should really try it latte style. I haven’t had this but I had the s’mores genmaicha latte style and it really brought out the creamy marshmallow. 1/2 cup water 1/2 milk and the tea and sweetener and simmer it for a bit

Cameron B.

I’ll try that Mandy, thanks. :D

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Hello, my name is Cameron. I’m 24 years old and currently living in Saratoga Springs, New York with my lovely boyfriend (a software architect). I am currently not employed, which leaves plenty of time for cooking and tea-drinking! I am a staunch lover of pugs and other squishy-face dogs, although sadly I do not currently have one. :(

I originally got into tea a couple of years ago. My sister introduced me to Teavana (there was a store in the nearby mall) and I was hooked. I have just started to drink tea again and I am very grateful to have found this community where there are so many with experience and wisdom to share!

Currently trying to move out of the flavored tea phase and into those tasty straight teas!

I love swaps! If you see something in my cupboard that you’d like to try, shoot me a private message and we’ll work something out!

My general tea info:

Flavored Black
Light to Medium Yunnan
Mild Sencha/Kabusecha
Genmaicha (traditional or otherwise)

Currently Exploring:
Chinese Black
Oxidized/Roasted Oolong

Not A Fan
Greener Oolong
Overly Floral
Licorice Root
Rose Hips
Strong Bergamot

Rating Scale:

90-100: Spectacular, a staple
80-89: Delicious, might buy again
70-79: Pretty good, won’t repurchase
60-69: Just “okay”
00-59: Undrinkable!


Saratoga Springs, New York

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