37 Tasting Notes


Bought this 1 kilo of ripe from Dizzy Puerh on Taobao. Sessioned it today though it really needs more time to rest and lose the wo dui flavor, which actually isn’t bad. Cracked off about 8 grams into my usual 125 ml water. Two rinses and two strainers and then did 4 short steeps. This ripe is more lively on the tongue than the older, and originally nicer cake that I have.

I am not a collector of ripe, but it drink it a lot. This tea is for puerh like Maxwell House is for coffee. Not the premium stuff, but gets the job done. More of my silliness and pics of the session on my blog -—→http://deathbytea.blogspot.com

Flavors: Plums, Wet Earth, Wet Wood

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 4 OZ / 125 ML

Awesome! I love reading your blog. :)


me too. Just finished reading.


Oh, thanks so much for reading, love you guys!


You’re on my feedly, so I never miss a post! <3


She is a catbird on that blog for sure. I even warned her about the “chairman” being off for a week on there… ;)


y Cwyn. It’s awesome!


I have a Chinese army recruitment cup that makes me think of the Chairman whenever I look at it.

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drank Isopure Lemon Black Tea by Isopure
37 tasting notes

My back hurts today after gutter cleaning on my roof yesterday. I couldn’t sleep and feel like crap, so why not just feel worse and drink some of the most awful tea sludge I can find? Also, I made certain to pick a tea that contains Sucralose (aka Splenda) which gives me the scoots something terrible. I shouldn’t really review this but once in awhile I like to shock the children who think I only drink the finest puerh.

This is a 20 oz bottled tea beverage marketed to sports types, weight lifters etc. It contains black tea, lemon juice, 40 grams of whey protein (probably caseinate) and 2500 mg of something called BCAA. I don’t know what that is, but it could be like growth hormones for Big 10 Bull College weightlifters? Anyway, I found this for 99 cents at the local Bent ’n Dent, it normally sells for like $46 for a case of 12 bottles and reviews on the Vitamin Shoppe prove some people buy this stuff. Mine is a few weeks out of date, just to add to the fun.

I drank 1/3 bottle chilled, at first I thought it was kombucha because it tastes sour and tangy, like fermented tea. Without preservatives, maybe it HAS fermented by now. Or maybe it is the lemon? The offending beverage is clear, however, so the casein is hidden in there somehow. I was sure this had gone bad, but a few sips more and I’m not so sure now. I think this could be how it really tastes. Basically like sour lemon and then the Sucralose hits me with a blast of artificial candy and lingers forever. Because Sucralose isn’t digested by the body, I fully expect to be in the toilet within an hour.

Okay I got through 1/3 of it, cramps are coming on. For those of you worried about trying sheng puerh, there are worse things to be drinking, homegrown in the west. This is one of them.

Flavors: Artificial, Lemon, Sour


Hah!! Had to laugh… ‘cos am trying to brave the sheng world (to date love the shu). Also am health freak/lifter…still wouldn’t drink above…heh :)


Oh this sounds horrible. Horribly horrible. (And sheng is delicious. I’m scared to try shu, though…..)


Yah just got off the shitter, I-so-pure now. Just kidding. Glad I quit when I did, though.


lol, why would you do that to yourself, WHYYYYY! hahahaha, you crack me up.


If you’re determined to go over to the Dark Side, apparently Isopure also does a nifty line in ‘the purest whey protein isolate’. Otherwise known as a byproduct of cheese, or, as Stephen Fry calls it, ‘milk-gone-off-big-time-stylee’.

You could add a dash to your morning cuppa for that extra lip-curling, stomach-churning Oomph.

//sips a heavenly Oolong and watches with interest Cwyn’s search-in-earnest for the worst tea ever brewed. From a safe distance.//


What you are referring to is sodium caseinate, “whey isolate” is the new term for it. It has long been used as a cheaper milk substitute. Back in high school in the late 1970s, I was on the debate team and we had a consumer products topic one year, I remembering arguing “casein cases,” the debate was whether casein mass production could be an economic boon or if it ruined milk farmers. For awhile in the 1980s, consumers caught on to casein and bought fewer products with it, and manufacturers started hiding it under various names. Whey isolate is casein back again in 21th century techno form.


They’re selling … powdered milk?


(though I suppose that’s no odder than my waxing long and lyrical about soaking foliage in a jug of hot water, now I come to think about it…)

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drank Banana Black Tea by EnjoyingTea.com
37 tasting notes

Well this tea isn’t bad, and certainly undeserving of the reviews it has on here. Like most reviewers, got this as a free sample when ordering something else. I think the problems arise with the steeping parameters, this one doesn’t work English style and it won’t work done grandpa either. Nope, leave your horse and carriage at home. Takes a puerh drinker riding in on a yak to the rescue and show these people how it’s done.

It’s done by gongfu, and yes in an unglazed clay pot. In this case Jian Shui, but any dedicated black tea unglazed clay pot will work. 5 grams (which is a lot of loose leaf) and 100 ml. As in small cup, around what 4 oz tops. Do a RINSE. I’ll say it again: do a Rinse. By Rinse I mean fill the tiny clay pot with boiling water over the tea and then pour it off. Water your tea pets with the rinse. Then fill the pot again and steep 15-20 seconds, pour into your cup.

The results? Delicious. This loose leaf has dried banana bits, they don’t taste like anything. Main profile for me is floral black tea, a rather good roast in fact. Chocolate and root beer whiffs. Slight bitter with short 20 secs 2nd steep but long sweet aftertaste.

This is pretty good actually.

Flavors: banana, Chocolate, Root Beer

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Feeling a bit under the weather today for reasons unrelated to tea, but I’ve had Giant Steps planned for today for weeks now. And I wanted to taste it no matter what. It just meant I used only 5 grams instead of my usual 8-10 g, and reduced the amount of tea liquor to tasting quantity. Two rinses on the boil, then did about 8 quick steeps using a gaiwan and about 70 ml water.

Soup came out yellow and lemony tasting, no bitterness in quick steeping. Got a good dry mouth afterward, but I can’t fairly rate astringency due to taking hydrochlorothiazide, amongst other meds, which is designed to remove water from the body, aka water pill. Thus I have artificially dry mouth anyway. I note a nice astringency in a puerh, but rating it on a scale would be unfair to a tea (T).

This will be the only time I will drink my Giant Steps cake, as I plan to save it for my son. A more humorous take on that plan, plus photos, are in my tea blog -——>

Flavors: Lemon

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 2 OZ / 70 ML

I very much enjoyed your writing


A friend with lots of dry mouth issues from meds recommends brushing teeth with coconut oil mixed with baking soda or bentonite clay, with cinnamon and or dried peppermint or peppermint oil added for flavor. Might help? Or maybe oil pulling with coconut oil? Dry mouth is the PITS!


I think some of the natural food store’s toothpastes have those ingredients, I probably have one in the bathroom cabinet somewhere. The dry mouth doesn’t bother me much except when drinking astringent tea. I need the water removal so mostly I just feel normal, but it does bother me that the bulk of water being removed is expensive puerh broth. Sigh…


Hope this day finds you feeling better. Read the blog post – Love the Gator. Curious, do you ever get your son to try your tea? Even if he hates it now, it would make it absolutely priceless one day to have that memory attachment. I have two grown sons. One I have shared astronomy with. He will inherit the scopes. The other shares my tea. He doesn’t really get the value of some of the good stuff but I know he would value our sharing.


He actually likes tea, but prefers black tea “the darker, the better.”

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drank 2014 Last Thoughts by White 2 Tea
37 tasting notes

This tea is an appropriate cake for me. In fact, I am using it for my life narrative. Or, end of life narrative, as it were. I decided to start writing some of my thoughts in a tea blog called “Death By Tea.” The address is on my profile————>

I wanted to be able to post photos and this is a worthy cake. Dramatic? Yes. But I have my reasons.

Of course I will continue to post reviews on Steepster, usually with different content. And I really need the cupboard here and the good tea drunks who know my stash and I know theirs. :P

I haven’t steeped out this tea yet, people. I tried. This is the most highly caffeinated puerh I have yet brewed. 8 grams in my 130 ml gaiwan and they are now busting out the top past 15 steeps. I’ve tried over brewing it, thick and bitter, as well as quick, soft steeps. An old lady like me half gone but not ready to quit yet she is barely a few months old. Baby soft.

Lots of buds and leaves of many sizes. Yellow soup, I smell that light apricot and expect that taste but what I get is 2 notes lighter, white grapes.

Is it worth the money? Only when you’re dead, or almost. Like me. Children grown and done. I don’t have the time to see how this ages, but maybe someone else here with a really big penny jar will spring for it and report back to y’all in 20 years.

88 score today for the TwoDog and for the people of Yunnan. The news of the earthquake in Yunnan today gives me pause for having drunk this cake, my Last Thoughts for today are for them.

Flavors: White Grapes

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 4 OZ / 115 ML

I read it…and I hope to read many more.


Thanks so much! I had to move onto my late nite shou, still got the gaiwan full of this tea to continue drinking it tomorrow.


I’m adding you to my feedly now!


Update: past 20 steeps now on day 2. Had to put leaves in a larger pot, they came out the top of the gaiwan. The tea liquor is darker orange now after the leaves sat overnight.


I have been behind on my blog posts, but I finally came across your complete review on your blog this morning as I was catching up. Really well done, Cwyn. I very much enjoyed your writing. :)


Oh and I am absolutely determined to try this. I won’t be able to afford a cake, but I am planning to get a sample with my next White2 order, when I buy some more Repave!!!!! Yay!

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drank Roasted Fujian Oolong by White2Tea
37 tasting notes

Drank two cups of this brewed 3 grams in a barrel-style zhu-ni for 125 ml cup. Boiling and just under. Fell asleep and dreamed about the tea.

One of the downsides of spending time doing theatre is a lifetime of performance anxiety dreams. Just about to go on stage, and I don’t know what play I am in. I don’t know my lines, I can’t find my script and am buck naked in front of the audience.

This time, however, I brewed this tea is a small vintage brown clay pot I actually bought in real life. From Origin Tea’s remaining stock. Debated between using it for highly aged oolong or very old sheng. I decided to use it with old sheng in real life though. Is this a sign, do you suppose? Should I have used it with oolong like I did in this dream? In a really nice adjoining condo with two cats.

Then I’m on stage at the end of the play for bows, in costume actually. I thanked the audience for attending this wonderful Shakespearean performance and that I would be returning to America after this, our last show. But first, drinks for the cast on me. Audience stares, bows for all, a few claps, off we went. Then the cast reminded me we were gonna do one more show again that night. Oops, inappropriate speech. Then we walked through the mall as I fully intended to get a drink anyway, and isn’t that a really nice t-shirt with belt buckles across the chest? And the store has a gourmet chocolate section with pink wrapped chocolates and I’m asking about a big chocolate covered caramel I can’t seem to find while staring at massively huge chocolate bunnies.

Woke up to dry mouth. But I finished the play!! Okay, one last show still and I don’t know the name of the play or my lines, but I wasn’t nekkid and got through bows! And it was Shakespeare, on an English stage, no less (aka A Cold Day In Hell Before That Ever Happens).

The tea is astringent and still needs time to age, rolled leaf like Tieguanyin, very dark charcoal roast, long steeping, floral in the mouth and long brewing.

Yeah, I write some strange stuff but this actually happened, and it is the first time I’ve dreamt about a tea I am drinking. I need more sessions with this to mess with leaf amount and steep times, had to brew it for a minute or so but it keeps giving. Well-spent cash on 50 grams of this. High score because I finished the show.

Flavors: Chocolate, Floral, Roasted

200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 45 sec 3 g 4 OZ / 125 ML

When I was in college, I had nightmares in which I was going down the sidewalk and someone would stop me and ask why I wasn’t at rehearsal. The opera was starting that night! I didn’t know the music, I didn’t know any lines, I didn’t even know the opera! But I would run to the theater and rehearse anyway, stumbling through and trying to find ways to make it work by that evening even though I had no idea what was going on. LOL!


The bad news is the theatre changes but the dream usually is the same! Rather interesting to start the dream at the end of the show.

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At the risk of sounding ignorant, I am going to call this tea the Assamica version of Bai Mu Dan, which consists of first flush silver bud/two leaf mix. The tea is classified as black on Steepster for previous years, Mariage Freres refers to the leaves as green, and silver tips can be considered a white tea. Someone who knows more about Darjeeling tea can edit the description as needed.

Used 1 tbsp leaves in 140 ml gaiwan, just under boiling water, quick steep. Tea is same color as other white teas I’ve had, ranging from clear to yellow brown. Similar peony taste, and I got a sniff of lavender on the first steep, and camphor in the taste. A little sharper and more astringent than Bai Mu Dan, which is welcome, it cuts the floral taste a little.

Would serve this to my sister as a sweet love fest sort of family tea. Special event. Left to my own devices, though, I can be found digging in my puerh fridge for dirty, wet, fruity, cigar flavored earth.

Flavors: Camphor, Floral, Green, Lavender

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 3 tsp 5 OZ / 140 ML

“dirty, wet, fruity, cigar flavored earth” thats the image im going to have in my head every time i drink shou.


Ha Ha you got one of those fridges also? Glad to know I am not alone and will not have to attend the meetings alone. I will just grab Cwyn as she is in the same boat.


Oh man, lolz. I had this image of a flying fridge landing in the boat and crashing a hole in the bottom.


Yeah this tea definitely has a green color to it, but I think it is still considered a black due to the length of oxidation the leaves are supposed to undergo.


Interesting brewing method.

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Received a sample of this fresh 2014 Taiwanese oolong from a friend. Brewed up about 2 grams in 115 ml, did a quick rinse of the leaf in a strainer first, then proceeded with gongfu steeps in a Jian Shui pot which may have been a poor choice. I read oolong on the label, the leaf looked dark, but when I brewed it I saw it is green oolong and not a dark roast.

This tea is incredibly floral, heavy on the gardenia, or orchid or pea flower. Since this is a natural flavor and not artificially added, it is quite lovely. But the tea is too green for my liking. The soup is greeny-brown, which is okay, but it was very astringent and the sweet flower flavor then went sour on the tongue afterward and lingered. Had two cups and didn’t want anymore. I would probably love this more deeply roasted, the roast would have given a sweet lingered taste instead of the sour. But then I might as well be considering a black tea, because some of this same floral taste was present in the Wild Purple Dehong Black I reviewed recently.

This is probably a really good tea, just not my taste so I will leave off a rating.

Flavors: Garden Peas, Gardenias, Orchid, Pleasantly Sour

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 2 g 4 OZ / 115 ML

hahah, I thought the same thing!

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I was surprised to receive an unopened 10 g sample of this from a Steepsterite. Even more surprising is that Camellia Sinensis reviewed and boosted the rating for this tea, most likely to justify the price they are charging at $58.25 for 1.76 oz. The 10 g sample I got is thus a $10 sample! Much thanks for the opportunity to try this.

Tai Ping Hou Kui is one of China’s 10 Famous Teas, and the real stuff is grown from a larger leaf tea cultivar known as Shi Da Cha. To be the genuine stuff, it must be from one of three villages in the Anhui Province at the foot of Hwang Shan (mountains). The pluck is 1 bud/ 3 leaf and then a repluck is done at the local small factory by hand to remove 2 of the four leaves. This is part of the expense of this tea, as no branch without the bud should be picked, and the leaf with the bud must be perfectly straight. Next it is partially dried in bamboo, and then heated three times in the bamboo over charcoal. After this the leaves are laid flat by hand onto mesh screens and a roller is used on the screens to press the straight leaf/bud combo flat and straight. Then the tea is dried in the screens.

After all this, yet another quality inspection is done and the final product is sorted and graded. The top quality earning the title of Tai Ping Hou Kai must have 1 bud/1 leaf exclusively. Any leaf missing a bud, chopped bud, any 3rd or 4th leaves, any loose leaves, any chopped leaves must be labeled Hou Jian and sold under that name.

A tea is not a Famous Tea worthy of the title unless it is what it is supposed to be. The criteria for this tea is one of the strictest and extensive, not to mention all the processing involved. It must be judged by this criteria, especially with the high prices associated with this tea. This tea is also made and sold from villages outside of the Three, and may be just as good, but it is sold as a fake and few would ever be able to tell.

This tea is not fake, but my sample is Hou Jian. Being a sample, and undergoing all the shipping and handling would no doubt break buds off. But in 5 grams brewed I found 1 intact bud/leaf, a few broken off buds, lots of extra leaves and a lot of chopped leaves. Looking at the rest of the bag, it is all leaves and chop. The mix is dark green with some yellow ones, the color should be more of a uniform medium green, not dark green.

As a Hou Jian, this tastes pretty good. Because the leaf is already heated over charcoal 3x, you get the taste of a stronger Dragonwell flavor without needing to fuss over the water temperature. The tea is already scorched so it can take hot water. I got a good 5 quick steeps of 5 grams in 115 ml water before the flavor gave out. Very warm, a little spice from the char, yellow soup. For me the flavor is like a Dragonwell/Longjing but more intensely so.

Would I recommend this? Sure, but not at this price. You can get basically this same tea at 1/5 the cost on a lot of other sites. They will call it Tai Ping Hou Kui too, but only charge you $13/oz. Still pricey, but even Hou Jian has a lot of processing behind it. I am doubtful that the real Tai Ping would be sold outside of China and especially not to a western buyer. It is an imperial product. So, buy yourself some “Tai Ping” and know that Camellia Sinensis isn’t really doing anything different from other western vendors, but their price is high and it is going to be Hou Jian no matter where you buy it, so might as well just get the best price you can someplace else.

My rating is for taste, I quite liked the tea.

Flavors: Dry Grass, Green, Spicy

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 115 ML

hahah, afraid it wasn’t unopened! I helped myself to a pot. It is super pricey though, the only reason I bought it was so that I could do a comparison to the Teasenz “Monkey Picked”.

I’ve been pretty satisfied by Camellia Sinensis in the past, so if they did buy an artificial Tai Ping Hou Kui, I’m inclined to believe it wasn’t intentional.


It wasn’t opened though, I had to tear off the top. Anyway the real Tai Ping, an imperial product, would be gift boxed to the nines in China. The leaf would have to be 100% intact as a 1 leaf/1 bud, exquisite condition, and the price would be high like it is here. The whole idea of this tea is the look of the leaf, more than for just about any other tea, the long and perfectly straight and flat, uniform combination.


you had to tear off the top? That’s strange, I just closed the ziplock seal in the bag. Unless it got so hot in the USPS truck/plane that it sealed itself!

Yeah judging from what you said it most likely isn’t the real deal, but I trust Camellia Sinensis so I’m inclined to believe that they bought the wrong one on accident (or were told that they were buying the real deal).


No, this would just be usual practice for this tea. The vast majority of leaf wouldn’t turn out perfectly, and it has to be shaped straight and that is the luck of the pluck, as it were. A factory would have a lot of tea to sell that isn’t premium. Hou Jian is the same tea, undergoing the same process, it is just broken leaf. Everyone is doing the same thing, buying bulk Hou Jian, so the only thing Camellia Sinensis is guilty of is overcharging. If you look at other sites, “Tai Ping” goes for around $13-15 an ounce.


Check out this page, and scroll down to the section called “Modern Process” and you will see these individual and perfect leaves laid out one by one on the screens. This is true Tai Ping Hou Kai. These leaves are treated better than a diapered baby. As you can imagine, a lot of lead won’t be this perfect, so it would graded Hou Jian. Tastes the same, but not Imperial quality.


I love the detail you put into the description. No wonder the ‘real tea’ is so expensive!

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I purchased 25 grams of this, which for a cake is in the average price range for White2Tea of around $98. Because of the humid storage, and the age on it, I know the tea will be long brewing (lots of steeps) and a little goes a long way. 4 grams in my new 70 ml brown Yixing from Origin Tea. Gonna use this pot specifically for these really aged long soaker puerhs. Proceeded with my 15 sec steeps on forward mostly on a boil and then a little cooler 195-200.

Humid storage flavor and smell evident throughout, but eventually this integrates well into the tea producing a strong aged cigar tobacco smell and taste. A touch of camphor early in the first steep. No smoke in this despite the heavy tobacco smell. Even my strainer smells like cigars with just a few tiny bits of tea in it. Still a good astringency here and mildly bitter, the astringency is pleasant though. Fills the mouth and then turns into tongue buzzing, just like cigar smoke does, most noticeable in the first 5 steeps.

Pleasant qi, warming and relaxing, scalp buzzing around my ears but not highly caffeinated. I won’t need to follow this up with a shou. A drink straight out of the gentleman’ club, not a talker, think John Houseman in a leather chair in “Scrooged,” looking up from a newspaper.

This tea is incredibly clean, and red amber. Still got some years to go to mellow out completely. Almost a shame it got pulled out of the Guangdong humid storage, even 3 more years on this would be amazing.

Flavors: Camphor, Musty, Tobacco

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 2 OZ / 70 ML

Still was going past 20 steeps, the buzzy tongue feeling down to just the tip now. Cigar flavor gone leaving an earthy and aged wood taste. I tossed the leaves rather than leaving them overnight.

Asaf Mazar

Very interesting review. My experience with red mark so far has been with a 10g sample of 2003 vintage from finepuer (link below) I found it to be strong on caffeine, with excellent dried plumb notes. The leaves were exceptionally thick and substantial. Almost rubbery. http://www.finepuer.com/product/2003-menghai-wild-arbor-red-mark-discus-tea-cake-357g

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Convent trained, PhD, strong background in herbal infusions during those years. Started drinking green teas almost 20 years ago to address a kidney issue, now in remission, and never looked back. Seeking friends and curators with interests in premium and small batch teas. I drink all greens, and maintain a small collection of sheng and shu cakes. I am interested in first flush, wild leaf, ancient leaf, teas for and by monks and nuns, and difficult teas. My appreciation is high for subtle palates, though my own is rather average. Always interested in unique teas, brewing and storage issues.

Avatar photo credited to oolong-tea.org, I bought this vintage duan-ni tea caddy from them and own it.

Blog: http://deathbytea.blogspot.com/


Midwest US



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