74 Tasting Notes


This is a very tasty puerh tea made from the Camellia Taliensis varietal in Simao. The leaves are light and silvery and produce a peony flavored puerh tea with mild bitterness. I’m impressed with how long steeping this is, I’m at twelve steeps and the tea hasn’t quit yet. I got a lucky 25g sample with a purchase. The leaf is often used in blends with other teas to add thickness, resulting in a syrupy brew. Good tea to try at least once to recognize the profile in other puerh blends.

Right now a 400g cake of this tea is only $59 making it a good bargain. I wrote more about it on my blog. It is a good cake for people who like to drink fresh puerh and have a mild experience.

Flavors: Floral, Sugarcane, Vegetal

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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drank 2015 Last Thoughts by White 2 Tea
74 tasting notes

This is a true old arbor gushu puerh tea with a predominantly Yiwu floral flavor and a Menghai base flavor. Leaves and stems are large and thick and this tea steeps fifteen times or more. I used 5 grams of leaf in about 75-100 ml water, and this was too much for me due to a powerful head effect similar to what I experience with hydrocodone. Two cups and I was sweating, foggy headed, and heart palpitations, and had to sleep it off a couple times. Younger people might not need the nap, but one other person has confirmed the painkiller effect to me on his sample.

This tier of tea has layers of things to taste.I got mostly the floral Yiwu, some bitterness and astringency, along with hot pepper, grapes, aspirin, Chinese medicine, Apple vinegar and I don’t mean in a sour way, more that flavor of apples fermenting in wood casks. I’m certain as I continue to drink this tea I will find even more things to taste. The tea seems more bassy than last year’s, a bit more base than bud which to me adds more of those darker notes and rounds out the profile nicely. The painkiller effect is new, I’m certain that it wasn’t in last year’s edition.

I checked with TwoDog and he said the tea is the same arbor as last year, just different leaf of course. This cake would be interesting to see a Chinese medicine doctor try and learn about how it might be used as medicine. I hope to get a full cake myself. This is the best quality, highest tier of puerh tea we can acquire in the west. The best tea, period. I will never find better in my life than this.

A cautionary note for drinkers with heart issues, I believe I would be fine with a dosage of 3G/100ml but no more. You can read more on my blog http://deathbytea.blogspot.com and also take note of the reader comment who experienced a similar effect.

Flavors: Apple Skins, Floral, Grapes, Lemon, Peppercorn, Vegetal, Vinegar

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 75 ML

Sounds good!


Yes! I want :D




Holy wow I need a sample!



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drank 2015 Poundcake by White 2 Tea
74 tasting notes

I steeped a 99g weight gourd of this tea because I am unable to chip off any of this highly compressed tuo. I wasn’t just doing it to be funny, this is how I had to access the tea. And sometimes I eat an entire box of chocolates too. Cuz I want to. Cuz it is yummy. This tea is light and delicate enough. I steeped this using a 900+ ml Bonjour borosilicate teapot.

I went 8 rounds on this tea and the flavor justifies the “cake” name with thick yellow sweetness. As it happens, yellow butter Poundcake has been my favorite birthday cake most of my life, and only the nuns took the trouble to learn this about me and baked them for me, bless them. The tea here is sweet, motor oil thick, with notes of cloves and nutmeg on the early steeps.

After round 8, at 208 F temps, I’d literally stewed the tea. The leaves began to disintegrate into mush, rather like over cooked canned asparagus. The tea is probably best respected in the lightly compressed cake form which is what is available to buy, rather than the highly compressed tuo available only to tea club members. If I had the tea again, I would brew this at a far lower temp, maybe even as low as 170F to try and keep the integrity of the leaves. I think this is why the flavor dropped off for me well before the color or body of the liquid. The leaves seem like lettuce picked after a rain.

Having said that, I find white2tea’s house productions to be a memorable experience. I get why the fresh experience of this leaf makes it special. It is really easy to drink a big pitcher of this tea because it is so gentle, not bitter, not sour, just sweet and thick. In fact, I’d have a harder time drinking a pitcher of lemonade or beer compared to this. Spring honey all the way with this one. Drink fresh, it is not one to hoard to age.

Flavors: Cloves, Honey, Nutmeg

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 99 g 30 OZ / 900 ML

I couldnt stop laughing xD It took me awhile to realize you weren’t kidding…


I agree with you. Why drink green tea which is not my favorite. I can drink fresh pu instead. And end the day with shou


I will say I’m not as backed up as I usually am. Perfect!

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drank Ceylon Star by The Tea Smith
74 tasting notes

Received a sample of this tea with a purchase and just noticed it in my pile. Brewed two teaspoons in about 100 ml gong fu in a kyusu pot for 30 second steeps.

I didn’t notice any special flavors to this tea, to me it just tasted
Iike a regular black tea. Ceylon tea is in many tea bags I’ve had over the years. But the caffeine kick in this is pretty powerful. I had taken an ibuprofen for a pinched nerve in my back and have been doing this for days now. This tea had a sort of Excedrin effect and really boosted the ibuprofen tab.

Honestly this is the best pain relief I’ve had in days. Gonna hoard my little Baggie of this tea. Will recommend this for the caffeine because it is definitely one of the stronger teas I’ve had lately.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 3 OZ / 100 ML

Tea and advil helping your pain? that’s awesome! Hope you are able to get more relief!


I repeated this again today and found it worked. I think I need to have a higher caffeine tea so I can take half the dose of ibuprofen, and save my stomach for sheng!


That’s really awesome! :D

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drank Lapsang Souchong by The Tea Smith
74 tasting notes

I ordered two ounces of this tea for a crazy low price of $3.55, along with an order of Lin’s Teaware. The Teasmith’s Lin’s collection is mostly half price right now, I find the cups amazing with their heat distribution qualities. So I ordered cups, then turned around and ordered one more cup and this tea as well as some Rou Gui I have yet to try.

This tea blasts my nose with pine smoke when I open the bag. Western style steeping produced better results for me, my gong fu just ended up too light. I tried two different infusers after that, the Eva Solo and then just one from a Nissan insulated thermos which would likely classify now as vintage since I’ve had it 20 years. Finally I just dumped some of the leaves loose into the teapot and this produced the best brew. My son came downstairs to get a brownie from the pan I baked earlier.

“Mom come out here.”

“What,” annoyed because I’m drinking tea and typing which means leave Mother alone.

“I smell a brat cooking.”

“It’s my tea.”

“It’s not your tea, just come out here.”

But it was the tea. While I was thinking of the piñon incense I used to buy in New Mexico, my son who has never been to the southwest identified the scent of Wisconsin cheesehead childhood. It is his reference. I had him smell the bag of tea, and he was uncertain. He continued to hang a little on the stairs with a little wistful and crestfallen look, he kinda wanted that German brat he smelled to be real. He felt so sure he smelled grilling. Well of course we use wood briquettes to grill, or I cut green maple branches for smoking fish.

Because of my experimenting with parameters and adding water along the way, I can’t say exactly what I used but about 2 tbsp of tea for 28 ounces of water in a 31 oz Bonjour glass teapot. This was more tea than I really needed so I dumped less than half into the pot after the gong fu didn’t work out. Brewed at 208 F, my kettle is set for that temp.

Smoke is long and loud and the tongue tingles. Sweetness from the tea follows only with the long steep. The pine smoke is strong now and needs time to integrate more with the tea. I plan to tin up this tea and let it rest. The vendor site has a couple reviews on using this tea as a rub for meats and fish prior to cooking the meat. One person dried out the used tea and saved it for cooking too.

Flavors: Oak wood, Pine, Smoke, Smoked

205 °F / 96 °C 6 min, 15 sec 6 tsp 28 OZ / 828 ML

I love good LS. The cups, the pot…. You are tempting me again ;))


I know, we have that bad effect on each other. I have bought way too much teaware in the past month, heh.


BTW, Lin’s ceramic is forcing the resellers to sell at their target price. This is why the Lin’s products prices at Camellia Sinensis doubled (actually, it was even more than that) a few months ago.


Yeah I had a post up on the Teaware topic about that. Even at the target price, for similar capacity and quality, the teapots are fairly ballpark. What I find to be pricey are the accessories, gong bei and so on.


Update: used the steeped leaves as part of a rub mix for roasted chicken legs. Yum!

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drank Kabuki by American Tea Room
74 tasting notes

I wish I had read the Steepster reviews before buying this. The reviewers mention the sugar syrup or sugar whatever added to the tea. This isn’t mentioned on the website description at all. It just says sencha plus cherry blossoms and petals. What the tea really has is cherry marshmallows, like the kind of dried marshmallows in cereal like Lucky Charms. They dissolve completely in the brew. The website should have mentioned added sugar, instead it gives the impression of an herbal sencha blend, which this is NOT.

Leave it to my idiocy for not checking what my fellow Steepster people wrote. Actually it didn’t occur to me, I thought this was a new tea and wouldn’t be reviewed yet.

The tea smells like the cherry marshmallows but the cup fortunately doesn’t really translate the sickly sweet smell. The dry tea smells like a ton of flavoring and sweetener was added but maybe it comes down to controlling how many of the marshmallows you put in the pot, because the actual sencha appears to be just pure leaf.

I’ve had American Tea Room’s Sencha Ashikubo before, and for the price it is not too bad. This one tastes more vegetal in the cup than cherry or sweet. The sweetness might help with bitterness if oversteeped, but again it might change depending upon how many marshmallows you have in your brew. I could taste the spinach-y sencha and if I hadn’t smelled the bag or seen the marshmallows I wouldn’t have known from the taste that anything else was added. So that means I can stand to drink it and will likely finish the bag. I won’t buy it again, but I can at least recommend it as a pretty spring sencha that is mild and pleasant with no overpowering notes.

Flavors: Spinach, Sugar, Vegetal

165 °F / 73 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 140 ML
Liquid Proust

Cherry marshmallows… that’s odd. I tend to be disappointed when teas have sweeteners in them to have a taste appeal for drinkers.
I have some actual cherry blossoms from Japan that are used for tea if you’d like to try a petal in a cup of green one day.

American Tea Room

We’re sorry that this tea is not to your liking. First off there is no sugar or added sugar in this blend. The description does not mention sencha at all but rather Kabuse – which is made from the tips of shade grown tea leaves. There is some natural cherry flavor added – but no sugar or a ton or anything. If you are not happy with this or any of your purchases we are happy to return or exchange this for something that might be more to your liking. I think you must be confusing this tea with something else as there are no marshmallows in this tea – those are actual cherry blossoms. We never state anywhere on our site that there is any sencha or that it is an herbal blend. It is made from Kabuse (shade grown tea leaves) cherry blossoms and some natural flavoring.


Kabuse is a name for a top grade sencha. It is sencha. Two other reviewers mentioned the added sweetener and one called it simple sugar syrup. Sugar is natural. I’m guessing the blossoms are coated in a simple syrup with cherry flavoring added. Marshmallows are simple sugar syrup, typically with vanilla flavoring.

American Tea Room

Cwyn – Kabuse is not another name for a top grade sencha. It is partially grown in the shade and then the tips are plucked.There is no sugar at all and no simple syrup either – it may have a syrupy taste – but there is no added sugar or marshmallows and the cherry blossoms were not coated in sugar. Of course you are entitled to your tasting opinions – and we are happy to exchange this for you if you like – but we do want to make sure you have the correct information from the vendor. We are well aware of how this tea is created – and there is not one gram of sugar anywhere – or any sweetener of any kind added to any portion of the cherry blossoms or the tea. There are only three ingredients: Tea, Cherry Blossoms and Natural Flavoring.


The correct name is kabusencha, here is the Japanese かぶせ茶. This is an exceptional grade of sencha, which is a broad term for covered or shade tea. Sugar is considered a natural flavoring. I appreciate that you want the vendor information included, but I remind you that the vendor description is already in the database. This is a forum for tea drinkers to share their impressions. If I wanted a refund, or had a question, I would contact you directly. I am skeptical of wholesale descriptions. This is why we have tea forums for tea drinkers to share impressions.

American Tea Room

Senchas are not grown in the shade – Only three Japanese tea types are Gyokuro, Kabuse and Tencha – cha is the word for tea – and Kabuse + cha is the word not Kabu + Sencha. the corect word is KabuSECHA – not KabuSENCHA – Sencha means small leaf Sen + Cha. I am only trying to educate you as I see you like tea – I have been in the business for nearly 15 years – and just want to make sure you have the correct information. We have no reason not to disclose any ingredients or give incorrect information on our website. Some websites do list Kabuse as a type of Sencha – but this is factually incorrect – Japanese Teas are divided only two ways – Light Grown and Shade Grown. Light Grown teas are Bancha, Sencha and Tamaryokucha – Shade Grown teas are Gyokuro, Kabuse and Tencha.


All sencha and yes your Kabuki (masked theatre indeed) are covered at some point prior to harvest. This varies literally by the grower. I can go purchase Kabusencha or kabusecha covered 3 days prior to harvest, 10 days prior to harvest, or covered for longer. At $15 an ounce, I’m not terribly likely to believe this is top grade, full shade grown tips, because if it were the tea would cost $60 an ounce and up and nobody would put marshmallows in it.

If the readers are interested, I suppose I can put up a YouTube video steeping the “cherry blossoms” so people can see them dissolve. But I doubt anyone really cares.

Liquid Proust

This doesn’t help… But, I’d watch the video :p


Says the guy who dug up Proust and steeped him. :D

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I got a generous sample of this tea from klasektea.com with the purchase of teaware. I’m not seeing the tea on the website as of this writing, but it is early May and 2015 teas are just arriving in shops.

Normally I’m not a fan of Darjeeling First Flush which is really just plain wrong of me, since it is a miracle of tea processing. The floral scent of this picking is unparalleled. Having said this, for some reason this tea hit a sweet spot for me last night and I stayed up until 5 a.m. drinking it. Maybe the spring blossoms and lilacs outside got me in the mood for this fresh floral.

This tea is the bomb! It is not so cloyingly floral and doesn’t go bitter when brewed hot. I know it’s wrong to brew this much over 85 C but I usually want a little bitterness so I go 95 C. Brewed about 1 tsp of leaves gong fu in Lin’s Ceramic 100 ml teapot and cup. I continue to be hugely impressed with Lin’s cups especially, the heat distribution improves the mouthfeel of just about any tea I’ve tried. It is like a round bubble of warm tea in my mouth when I take a good sip.

Another thing I noticed is this tea lasted for more quick steeps than others I’ve had in the past. I long brewed it on steep 7 and still got a strong cup.

Flavors: Floral, Honey

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 3 OZ / 100 ML

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This is the huang pian cake in the 2012 Chawangshop Yiwu line of cakes. I purchased it in 2014 for $12, it is now $14 in 2015. Read the vendor description carefully so you know what you are getting because the cake name is a little misleading. The tea is supposedly 1/2 Yiwu leaves, and all the leaf is supposed to have been picked prior to April 8. Leaf quality is thin and papery.

I packed a lot of leaves into my gaiwan, expecting this to be on the lighter side, which it is. The first two steeps confirm the smattering of Yiwu leaves but I notice on steep 1 that boiling water kills the tea and flattens the flavor. 190-200 is more ballpark for this. On steep 3 and subsequent steeps the other “half” of the leaves emerge with a rather ordinary plantation apricot flavor. The little Yiwu sister is chased away by her bigger and badder brother.

Not much body here, in steep 5 I’m swishing the leaves to add a little steep time. And nothing offensive in the tea, very light overall but I’m disappointed at the rather ordinary taste. I wish this had kept the Yiwu leaf throughout or even some Laotian leaf for that other half. But then the low price speaks for itself. Given the amount of leaf I used, I can probably use up this 200 g cake quickly.

Flavors: Apricot, Floral, Hot hay

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 13 g 4 OZ / 110 ML

Sounds a bit disappointing, I had their 2010 Dian Yi Hao Naka Raw Puerh Brick and wasn’t impressed at all, but to be fair I have yet to get another young Naka to compare it to, because all the Naka I’ve had is older stuff.

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Really? I filled up my gaiwan for this…I can smell what I call “mall puerh” a mile away, that incense-y store flavor you can find in a million cakes on EBay and Taobao. This is just sad, leathery old poor quality “tea” to which a few young “white buds” have been added in as a sprinkling. Some of the tea is just black leaf along with brown, leathery leaves. You can talk to me all day long about brewing it “cooler,” but nothing will improve this leaf. I can’t believe a company online which is trying to be nice actually would put their name on this cake, but whatever. I’m a person who wants to like a tea, but I’d rather drink dandelion greens from my yard than this.

From the Sheng Traveling Tea Box.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

hmm. wow. I haven’t had a bad tea from Norbu myself but have never tried this one.


This is a good example of that “tastes vary” comment I made the other day. As you know, could be many different variables involved here but many people have enjoyed this particular tea (although I know nothing about the condition of your particular sample). Also, agree with TeaBrat and say that Norbu is a fine tea seller.


Not a tastes vary situation. This is about quality of base material and this one is intentionally deceptive in its creation. There are fresh young buds on top of old, poor quality tea. If the whole sample is evenly bad I could question the sample. Norbu seems to mainly source from India, the deception here is in China. This tea is either not what Norbu sampled for purchase, a bait and switch, or just unscrupulous wholesale source.

Dr Jim

Wow. I’ve got to jump in on the side of “tastes vary,” since I’m the one who put it in the box. This is one of my favorite teas, though it doesn’t really taste like a pu-erh: more like a white tea with character.


Cwyn – I must respectfully disagree for my experiences with this tea (I own a cake and I have enjoyed it at least six times) are totally different from that which you describe. After reading your comment, I pulled out my cake to look at it again. My cake is full of buds throughout. While I do not have your particular sample, I can say that I have shared this tea with a few people and reading over the other Steepster notes posted, your experience is definitely an outlier. Since you pulled it from a teabox, is it possible that somewhere along the way moving from person to person it might have been switched or mislabeled? As I am sure you already know, this is a rather light delicate tea and I have found that it performs better at a temperature below 205 degrees.

Dr Jim

The temperature is a good point. I found it OK at 200 degrees, but fell in love at 185. I also looked at my beeng, and it is salt-and-pepper. I then looked at a Mandala silver bud and saw the same thing. They both seem to be about 50% bud. I think it’s just the style.

Dr Jim

BTW: I checked my notes on the S&S TTB and I don’t think this was a tea that I added (though I own a beeng and considered adding some). Stacy from Butiki provided some tea to help start the box, including a sample of “Norbu cake”. It is possible that this tea isn’t white buds at all, but a different Norbu cake?


Really I have no idea, DigniTea, this was a sample with loose tea and a small chunk, and not a cake with the wrapper. I did not get 50% bud at all though. Maybe 3 white buds and a gaiwan full of leathery brown leaves.

The idea of the TTB was to choose some teas from the box and write reviews. This was my observation of the leaf and I don’t think the temp will change the leathery brown leaves. I can respect people may not agree on teas, but I’m not going to change my opinion.


Dr. Jim, increasing the temp and pushing the tea is a way to test if the tea breaks down under the pressure. Good base material will not. This is a normal way of testing puerh tea, the sample is mostly puerh tea.

Dr Jim

Sorry to re-open this, but I found a few grams of the Norbu that was added to the tea box (I removed a few samples before sending the box out). This is definitely NOT the 2011 Spring Norbu White Buds, as it has virtually no buds, while my beeng is full of them (though the bud to leaf ratio appears to be about 1:1). I can’t address Cwyn’s comment on the quality; she’s much more experienced in drinking pu-erh than I am, but at least we can say that Norbu is not mis-representing the tea.

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I’m a tea drunk with baggage and issues. 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.

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


Midwest US



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