311 Tasting Notes


Initial tasting notes for the second Japanese black tea I purchased from Yuuki-Cha.

A sniff in the Hime Hikari tin turns up different flavours than what I sensed with the Hime Fuki tea I previously tried. It still shares the broken leaf appearance but does not immediately remind me of Qimen in any other way.

Moving on to brewing and tasting the liquor, I first picked up on the sweet honey flavour, followed by apple and grains. The tea body seems to be even softer and less astringent than the Hime Hikari.

I know most people don’t like resteeping black tea, but I enjoy trying it anyway. Here on the second steep, much of the original flavour stayed but it was noticeably weaker. The sweet honey flavour in particular really stands out.

Finally I tried to go for a third steep, but there wasn’t much flavour left in the tea leaves.

I quite like the first steep, and out of the two Japanese black teas I’ve tried this is my favourite. The Hime Fuki has a more unique taste and feel, it just doesn’t happen to be one I am particularly crazy about.

200ml of water in a glass teapot, 1 tsp, 3 steeps (3min, 4min, 5min)

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec

I always try resteeping, cause you never know until you try.


Yep, pretty much.

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Initial tasting notes for a Japanese black tea I recently purchased.

The tea leaves look small and broken like Qimen. Not that I mind a such thing, just mentioning it.

First I steeped it with the directions that were mailed along with the tea. About 3g of tea and 120-150ml of water at 3mins. I tasted notes of apple, something grainy, astringent and bitter. Not a great start, so I made a new pot and used more water to even out the bitterness; about 200ml of water.

The second attempt wasn’t bitter at all and I was able to focus my attention more on the lovely flavours of this tea; cinnamon, apple, spices, and grains. The tea body itself is nice because there is enough depth and an edge/bite to keep it interesting.

Very tasty tea, but I am not a fan of the given directions (perhaps it works better for their other black teas). Both the tea leaf appearance and flavour remind me a bit of Qimen black teas. So I would recommend this to people who enjoy Qimen types, but also to anyone looking to try black tea from Japan. With the right method, this tea tastes absolutely wonderful. It’s full of flavour and has a charm of its own. It’s a bit pricey but worth getting if you want to treat yourself. :)

First tea: 120ml of water, Second attempt: 200ml. 1 tsp of tea for each cup, 1 steep

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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This is one of four teas I ordered from Yuuki-Cha. This tea vendor first caught my attention when I was looking around to see who was selling Japanese black tea. Currently there are 4 of those on their website and I bought 2. But what really compelled me to make a purchase (besides extra Christmas cash) were the addition of 2 “oolong-black” teas. And I’m trying one of those as my first to review and taste.

Drinking from the first steep the orange-red liquor has a really really soft feel in my mouth. Then I pick up on a pulpy/grainy texture and some sweetness. Very weird tea. Almost reminds me of Huiming Hong Cha from Camellia Sinensis. What always struck me as strange, was with each sip the tea body was so soft and not astringent at all. It’s like anti-astringent (I know.. not a real word, just work with me!). It’s a strange feeling you’d have to experience first hand.

I then steeped it a second time to see if it would change much. It’s still sweet, and has a pulpy/grainy feel. This time the liquor changes to a dark amber color (lighter than previous). It’s obviously weaker but has enough of the first steep’s characteristics to stay satisfying.

This wasn’t what I expected at all from this tea. To be honest I’m not sure what I expected but this wasn’t it. Not that it’s a bad thing, but this was an interesting tea experience for sure. I would certainly appreciate this tea more if it had a stronger body, but perhaps I’m just being picky. I’ll be sure to experiment with this one to see what flavours I can get out of it.

Anyway, I can see where the name oolong-black comes from now. It has the charm of both. However I think it would mostly appeal to people that enjoy black tea because it is very oxidized. Definitely worth a try if you are looking for something new and interesting.

About 120ml of water in a small glass teapot, 1 tsp (about 2-3g), 2 steeps (3min, 3:30min)

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Tea sample provided by Teavivre for review

Decided to make this a green tea morning by trying my next Teavivire sample: Bi Luo Chun.

The dry leaf scent is nice, but I can’t quite describe it. There is nothing else I can think of that fits the profile. It’s a very nice smell and not what I expected.

Moving on to drinking the liquor. The first steep tasted sweet, a bit smoky, with spice notes, overall very interesting flavours to experience. The tea body has a nice deep flavour, not too vegetal. And I felt a warm fuzzy peach texture in my mouth

Second steep was still nice but a bit weaker. I agree with some of the people on here that this tastes much like a white tea, and I’m getting more of that “tea” flavour I experience with white tea.

Third steep felt soft, sweet, warm, and fuzzy. Still tasting a bit of the spice notes, but the tea body is weakening.

I ended on the fourth cup, which while weak was still pleasant and satisfying.

I’ve never tried this type of tea before but I like Teavivre’s offering. Out of the other green tea samples from this company, I prefer the Premium Dragon Well (which I have purchased) but Bi Luo Chun would have to be my second favourite. This was my second time brewing it (first time reviewing), so I still have plenty of leaf to experiment with and find an ideal steeping method.

235ml water in a glass mug, 1 tsp, 4 steeps (1min, +30s resteeps)

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Tea sample provided by Teavivre for review

Had a much better experience with this tea today. I used exactly 235ml of water as opposed to too little like 100ml with a gaiwan, or the usual 250ml amount I use for most teas.

First steep tasted wonderful, very delicate, with some floral and fruit notes, very vegetal and buttery, with a hint of smoke.

Second steep was almost a little too bitter for me, but still palatable. The green tea body is much bolder and sweeter.

I adjusted the steep time for the third cup, which worked just as I had hoped. More delicate green tea, no bitterness, still has a strong aroma but weakening due to it being the third steep.

Fourth steep was actually much sweeter than I expected. With a sort of baked aroma, along with the weakening buttery and vegetal flavour.

Still not sure I would buy this, but I feel that depending on how you prepare this tea it can taste really good or really bad. The water to tea leaf ratio seems to be very important and I’ll be using the rest of my sample to figure out what I like best. And I’m happy that Teavivre sent me this as a sample because it’s allowed me to experiment with green tea. In the past I have had a few bad experiences with green tea and that might be due to bad preparation and/or bad tea.

235ml water in a glass cup, 1 tsp, 4 steeps (1 min, 2 min, 2 min, 2:30 min)

170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Tea sample provided by Teavivre for review

I tried this in a gaiwan (30s, +10s resteeps) but didn’t enjoy the result very much. So I then prepared it in a glass and used longer steeps.

First steep tasted sweet, vegetal, with honeydew and cucumber flavour, and was slightly buttery. Liquor felt very smooth and soft in my mouth.

Drinking from the second steep, the flavour is obviously much stronger, but still nice and not bitter. I prefer the delicate aroma of the first cup though.

As a personal preference, I think this tea benefits from a higher water to leaf ratio than offered by a gaiwan. One cup of water (I tend to use a bit more at 250ml) per 1 tsp worked very well for me. I still have plenty of the tea sample left so I will keep adjusting the steep settings to find what I like best.

Overall Xin Yang Mao Jian turned out to be very nice with a strong aroma and a fresh vegetal feel.

Glass mug, 250ml of water, 1 tsp, 2 steeps

175 °F / 79 °C

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drank Waterlilies Fruit Tea by Teavivre
311 tasting notes

Tea sample provided by Teavivre for review

Now here is a strange “tea” for me to review, a fruit tea! Obviously the word tea is meant here as something brewed in hot water and not relating to camellia sinensis (real tea leaf). This one lists using 3-4 tsp per 230ml of water, and with that in mind Teavivre graciously gave me about 50g of Waterlilies Fruit Tea to try.

I prepared some of this last night, with 500ml and about 5 tsp of fruit tea. The brew was a bit too tart for me, so today I’m adjusting the steep variables.

Tonight I tried 250ml of water and 2 tsp of fruit. It was still a bit too sour for my tastes so I added bit of honey. The result was much more palatable and the honey gives the liquor a nice texture.

Next time I’ll try this with a simple sugar syrup (sugar and water boiled in a small sauce pan) to see if that enhances it more. But I will still use 2 tsp of fruit per 250ml, because the flavour is much the same. If you want a more intense tart fruit flavour, use the full 3-4 tsp.

I’m not a big fan of hot fruit flavour, but this isn’t bad for it’s “type”. If you want to avoid caffeine and enjoy a tart fruit drink, this wouldn’t be a bad one to try. I think the addition of honey or sugar is needed to bring down the sourness. Normally I dislike adding sweetener to tea, but this isn’t tea it’s fruit, and as you know fruit drinks do tend to have a sweetener to make them more palatable.

250ml of water, 2 tsp, 1 steep (8mins exactly)

Boiling 8 min or more

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Tea sample provided by Teavivre for review

This is a follow up from yesterday where I brewed it with short steeps. Today I brewed this western style but in two different ways.

(#1) First I used the whole packet (5g?) with 500ml of water, steeped it twice.

(#2) Then I used the whole packet with 250ml of water, and also steeped it twice.

(#1) was good, with the liquor from the second steep having a better taste. The leaves didn’t unfurl completely until the second steep either, so I think a minimum of two steeps for Dong Ding prepared western style is a good idea.

(#2) was also given a rinse because I wanted to “wake up” the leaves a bit more. The flavour from the first cup is pretty intense, with the lichee aroma really grabbing my attention. At three minutes (#2) is on the edge of becoming bitter but never really cross the line. My second cup tastes a bit different, maybe a bit less fruity with the tea body becoming stronger. Anyway, it’s still a good flavourful cup. The lichee notes really seem to make it quite mouth watering.

Out of the cups I made today, my preference is for (#2’s) first steep which is similar to the steeping directions listed by Teavivre. And even though both were brewed in boiling water, the tea liquor did not taste too bitter or unfriendly.

While I enjoyed this Dong Ding I don’t think I like it enough to purchase some. Out of the three oolongs I’ve tried from Teavivire, this is my second favourite with TGY being my least favourite, but only due to personal preference. As mentioned in the other tasting note, I enjoy this Dong Ding because the additional flavours are not too overpowering. This is why I don’t like the TGY so much, because it is very floral and quite sweet when prepared western style. Again, I’ve mentioned this before but I do not have a sweet tooth, so I prefer earthy teas or those that are only slightly sweet.

Overall I think this is a good oolong for those that enjoy “oolong” flavour without too many floral/sweet characteristics. Not a favourite but still a good experience.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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Tea sample provided by Teavivre for review

After having the Milk Oolong today, I didn’t expect to be so blown away by Dong Ding’s scent. When I stuck my nose in the small tea pouch, the scent of lichee was a nice surprise.

Sipping from the first steep, tasting something quite earthy, a little sweet, and still has a touch of lichee fruit flavour with a hint cinnamon.

Third through fourth steeps continued to build in flavour, with the fruit flavour remaining.

I could keep resteeping but decided to stop here as I grew less interested in drinking more Dong Ding. It satisfied me and that’s enough.

Unfortunately I do not have a lot of experience with Dong Ding oolong so I can’t say how good this is compared to others. What I like about this tea is the fruity flavour, it keeps the tea interesting and slightly sweet without becoming too sweet for my tastes (I do not have a sweet tooth, so this is important to me). But the fruity flavour is not very strong, just a hint of it.
My husband came home to try the third and fourth steeps. He liked it but was not too interested. I think the thoughts of bringing a bit of Milk Oolong to work tomorrow raised his tea expectations too much. ;)

125ml yixing teapot, 1 packet (5g?), 4 steeps (rinse, 30s steep, +15s resteeps)

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec

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I’ve been so busy lately with tea samples and drinking through older purchases that I have not revisited this ebay puerh indulgence. However due to finding a new website I have renewed interest in my flavoured tuo cha. The website is http://www.nciku.com/ and it lets me “draw” Chinese characters with my mouse and gives me a selectable text of it. This has made finding out what I’m about to drink much easier, because the tuo cha wrappers only contain Chinese writing. So anyway, tonight’s tuo is globe amaranth with ripe puerh (千日紅熟沱).

Sipping from the first steep after the rinse, I taste something sweet that reminds me of cake. The liquor is still light because the tuo didn’t break apart.

Second steep is also sweet, with the tuo starting to break apart a bit but not fully. The ripe puerh flavour coming through is not too unfriendly.

Third steep is still quite sweet, and the tuo finally broke apart. Not the best tasting ripe puerh, but nowhere near the worst I’ve tried.

Fourth steep, I just taste ripe puerh at this point. I don’t get the sweetness or anything floral that I would associate with globe amaranth.

Fifth steep, while not floral is still fine. I think the ripe puerh is tasting a bit nicer at this point.

Ending on the sixth steep, the puerh is still strong and the liquor is still dark. I’d keep resteeping but I’m satisfied stopping here.

Not sure I would seek out this type of flavoured tuo cha, but it is nicer than some of the others that come with this set. My favourites are still ripe lavender and raw sticky rice (Nuo Mi Xiang) flavour.
I’m not a connoisseur of puerh tea, so this ebay purchase of 20 different flavoured puerh suits me just fine. The only thing I dislike about it is that the ripe puerh tends to overpower most of the flavouring. And a final note, I tend to like both ripe and raw puerh, so if you’re the sort of person that isn’t sure how much they enjoy those two, I would avoid buying these type of flavoured sets on ebay.

100ml gaiwan, 1 mini tuo, (rinse, 15s steep, +15s resteeps)
Individual rating: 70

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

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Feel free to add me on Steepster, I’ll probably add you back. :)

I don’t log tea every time I drink it. Tasting notes tend to be about either one style of brewing or a new experience. It is helpful for me to look back on my notes and see what a tea tasted like or which steeping parameter worked best for me. I try to mostly short steep tea unless it only tastes better with a long steep. I’d rather experience what a tea tastes like over 3 or 12 steeps than just 1 to 3 long steeps.

When I write “tsp”, the measurement I use is a regular western teaspoon. Not a tea scoop

What my tea ratings mean:

99-100: Teas that blow my mind! An unforgettable experience. Savoured to the last drop. I felt privileged to drink this.

90-98: Extraordinary, highly recommended, try it and you won’t be disappointed (and if you are, mail me the tea!)

85-89: Wonderful, couldn’t expect more but not a favourite.

80-84: Excellent, a treasured experience but not a favourite.

70-79: Good but could be better. Above average.

60-69: Average, unexceptional, not something I would buy again. Slightly disappointed. I’d rather drink water.

50-0: Varying degrees of sadness

No rating: Mixed feelings, can’t decide whether I like it or not, not enough experience with that sort of tea to rate it. A dramatic change of heart.


Ontario, Canada

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