18 Tasting Notes


Mmmm, lovely and delicious GABA green tea, ball rolled.

This tea is unique for sure, and it really is a treat! It’s sweet and textured in the mouth right out of the gate. 10 sec wash and then a 30s steep.

Several more shorter infusions of 15-20s yielded great green/jade tea. Soft, sweet, textured, and slowly taking on some greener/gassier/floral notes. I could drink this all day.

7-8 really great steeps in a gai wan. Definitely worth having some around!

Sold out at YS.us but still on TS.

180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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Because it’s a negative review, I’ll quickly state that this is definitely a good tea if very sweet and malty is pleasing to you. It’s a bit cloying and gross to me, though, hence the negative outcome. The processing technique looks great and the leaves are surely a high quality version of this tea.

Sesh 1:
Generally disappointed with the experience. I don’t really like the super malty and sweet taste that this tea has. It’s not really balanced by anything else, relative to my palate.
It doesn’t have a bready, starchy, baked goods, toasted, or even chocolatey kind of taste like some other blacks. It’s mostly that sweet malty taste, which I find slightly gross to be honest.

Sesh 2:
Letting this sit with some fresh air after opening the vacuum sealed bag did it a lot of good for me. Aromatics are great. More complexity and intrigue to both the smell and taste than the first session. Some of the missing notes started to show up, such as a baked starchiness and possibly a muted chocolatey note. The maltiness may have even diminished a tiny bit, but it was still dominant, especially in the hui gan. So each sip left a somewhat unenjoyable aftertaste in the mouth.

It’s just not for me, which is fine. I won’t get any more of it, but maybe I’ll continue to randomly drink the rest of the 100g bag until it’s gone. It may be that I like a more aged version of Dian Hong, so I’ll randomly come back to it as a very low priority option down the line. Maybe I’ll toss it, maybe I won’t. There are many other blacks that are better than this one to me.

Flavors: Malt, Sweet

0 min, 15 sec

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12g from a sample added to a clay pot.

Warm smell was very enticing: baked chocolatey notes in the smell. I was salivating for the brew..

First steep: ripe perfection. Creamy, textured, rich, chocolatey, mildly sweet, with a touch of forest.

Second steep: Bliss! I literally moaned with delight. So thick and creamy and chocolatey and decadent. My god this tea is so good.

Third steep: Again ^. My mouth needed a reset I think to fully experience it in all it’s glory. It was still glorious, but slightly muted because I kind of rushed into the next steep. I did notice a fantastic aftertaste more this time around, too. “Hui Gan”

Fourth steep: pushed it after a little break, and it delivered a fantastic brew. It was more cacao and dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. More woody and foresty with chocolate around the edges, instead of the other way around.

Fifth steep: pushed it again for about 2 minutes. Pretty good brew that had downplayed versions of all the delicious notes in the earlier tea. It was enjoyable, but definitely the end of the sesh for me.

Great experience! Truly exceptional ripe here.

I bought a cake of this after really enjoying the sample. I cracked open the bing the morning after getting it without letting it rest or anything and it was also very very good. It wasn’t quite as decadent as the sample, so it needs a bit of time to get there. Glad I picked up a cake! (Now hopefully my dry environment doesn’t ruin it)

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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A truly delightful tea!

Warm smell was baked bread with a subtle chocolate note.

Brew was dark mahogany and deceptively rich. Texture was layered and smooth and full.

Taste was different than the smell in the first steep: very sweet. Baked fruit of some kind. Hard to pin down what it truly compares to. I love that in a ripe.

Second steep was more of the same but with a slightly silkier texture and more of a milk chocolate vibe. Very sweet with a savory rich undertone.

Third steep: More of the same with slightly less texture. Same persistent sweet note that goes in and out of being milk chocolatey or some kind of baked fruit kind of quality.

Fourth steep: more of the same even still, which was great, though even less texture. However, the taste was still on point.

Fifth steep: Soft and Minerally. Leaves are done (for my preferences).

I did push this one pretty good each steep, so I didn’t get as many steeps as is maybe possible. I had 10-11g in a clay pot and started with an ~ 30s, 20s, 30s, 1 min approach. The fine grade of leaf had mostly given up the goods by this point, which I’m more than thankful for! The brews were full of delicious complexity and texture. Very tasty and delightful experience with some gentle cha qi.

11 g 130 OZ / 3844 ML

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I enjoyed this ripe tea a lot! It’s very smooth and silky with a dark chocolate note to it, in addition to a creamy woody quality. Maybe some fleeting and subtle fruit notes that overlay the underlying rich core of the taste.

Gong ting grade only means it gives up the goods quickly, but who cares. Quality over quantity. As such, the first and second steeps are the best, 3 and 4 quite solid and enjoyable still, with steep 5 and on slowly changing and losing character.

I’ll get another cake for sure. Definitely a good daily drinker.

12 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

Young gong ting does give what it has with haste. In contrast, I had an aged one several years ago that wouldn’t quit: https://steepster.com/teas/the-phoenix-collection/86740-imperial-pu-erh

Happy sipping :)


Cool Derk! I’ve got my eye on some older ones that I may eventually check out. Also never heard of that vendor you linked. I might check them out eventually as well.


The Phoenix Collection is old school mail order. When I lived in San Francisco, a co-op called Rainbow Grocery carried some of David Lee Hoffman’s teas. I haven’t been there in years so don’t know if they still do. The owner has been in a long fight with county government who wants to evict him from his property due to code violations. There are some fascinating reads out there if you look! A lot of hardcore pu’er drinkers disagree with his manmade cave storage but I’ve absolutely enjoyed the 3 shou pu’er of his I’ve tried. This reminds me I need to go the actual Phoenix Collection and Tea Museum soon before it disappears!


Interesting backgroung! He seems like a curious person indeed.

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