101 Tasting Notes


From Dark Matter 2016:

Near boiling water, gaiwan, rinsed once, steeped starting at 5 seconds and increasing.

I love the large leaves on this. I grabbed one out that was longer than my pinky. The tea brews to shades of dark dusky amber never getting truely dark. I found the flavor to be rather subtle, not in a bad way just not what I was expecting. It stated with a bit of briney flavor and a few steeps in had a nice earthy funk. Got some woody and mineral flavors in later steeps and some sweetness at the end. Pretty refined for something with both “Tibetan” and “Hei Cha” in the name.

Flavors: Earth, Marine, Wood

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Grabbed one of these when I ordered some teaware from CLT. I’ve heard about its reluctance to open up so my first few steeps were long and included me steaming the ball in the gaiwan as well as manually trying to pry the damn thing apart. I managed to do so and then realized it’s much too much leaf for the gaiwan I was using. I think maybe you need a 200-250 ml container? I removed about half of the leaves to continue steeping later but then lost them in a tragic fridge accident that also managed to take a large chip out of one of my gaiwans :(

The first few steeps of this I got pure apricot. It was quite possibly the most apricot tasting thing I’ve ever had including most actual apricots. I was a little suprised by this as I don’t remember it being mentioned in anything I read when I decided to pick one up. The second steep was almost a bit smokey which was strange. Later steeps continued with the apricot along with some light drying astringency coming out. Then it mellowed out into honey. It steeped for awhile, but I lost count with all the fumbling around with the leaves and the mess I made. I’m steeping out the last of it in the fridge now to see if I can’t get a bit more.

It’s more leaf than I really need at one time for home use but I would love to see how this fairs in a travel mug for all day at work. I’m a little bummed I didn’t grab the set of five…one lonely planet indeed.

Flavors: Apricot, Honey

Crimson Lotus Tea

I had some yesterday and got strong apricot notes this time as well. I was surprised.

Gooseberry Spoon

I was a fool.

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I’ve kind of been hoarding the last of this sample knowing I can’t order more until after the move, but today was cold and I didn’t think I could face going to work without it. So I regretfully brewed the last of it and remembered why I fell so in love with this tea. Nutty. Chocolatey. Dark sugar goodness. I even forgot about the second steep (damn you Dowton Abby!) and it ended up still great and amazingly sweet. I will not be facing another winter without this.

Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Chestnut, Dark Chocolate

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From Dark Matter 2016:

I brewed this in a gaiwan with short steeps. I probably should have looked at recommendations first, but it came out fine. The tea itself smelled strongly just like granola to me. It even tasted like it on the first steep. The next few steeps brought out the roasting flavor and this was just on the edge of being unpleasant for me, but I’m very sensitive to it. Later steeps mellowed out to just toasty as well as having good unroasted oolong flavor. There was also a bit of mineral in there that seemed to fade in an out on what seemed to be based on steeping time.

I’ve been brewing this for a good part of the day now so add “decent staying power” to the list.

Flavors: Grain, Mineral, Toasty

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From Dark Matter 2016 :

I didn’t rinse. 1st steep was about 10 seconds. It was a bit fishy, but more of “this would be good in noodles” kind of way so I ended up finishing it. 2nd steep was around 25 seconds and had a bit of a bitter taste. By the third steep it was gone and a mineral flavor came out. I feel like it faded rather fast, but later steepings still retained a bit of funk. I also started to get a bit of mouth coating feeling at the end.

It might be interesting to see how this would age but otherwise there’s nothing here to really catch my interest.

Boiling 3 g 6 OZ / 190 ML

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drank Midnight Sun by J-TEA
101 tasting notes

From 2016 Dark Matter:

Brewed this western style. The color of this was an amazing mahogany. The tea itself was rich and well rounded. There was a hint of chocolate and just a bit of astringency, the good “brisk” kind. I resteeped it twice with good results.

Boiling 4 min, 15 sec

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From Dark Matter 2016:
Brewed this western style, boiling water, 3 min in a ceramic mug. First off this tea smelled Chocolatey amazing. In the past I tried finding ways to make rich dark hot chocolate by melting dark chocolate squares into hot water. This was how this tasted without the greasy mouthfeel, unmelted clumps, or watery flavor. It had a bit of malty sweetness and lingering full mouth flavor. I steeped again for 4 minutes and it was now brighter with a bit if astringency more like “regular” black tea. A third infusion was similar but lighter.

I wished there was more staying power to this tea, but I enjoyed this so much I looked on Life in teacup to see how much it would set me back, but I didn’t see it listed. Anyone know if it will be available?

Flavors: Chocolate, Malt

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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This is a Minneapolis brand that I’d thought I’d try since I’ll be moving near there soon and saw it mentioned a few times on food websites. I usually make my own but I occasionally pick up chai concentrate to have when I’m in a hurry or when I want something for work. I did the half shaken mix and half heated milk (whole dairy)as in the instructions. It was heavy on the ginger with a clove aftertaste and a bit of cinnamon. It was pretty weak on the tea front, but then again that’s pretty common with these concentrates and with pre-prepared black tea in general. In the end I’m not sure if the flavor really justifies paying more for this than the Tazo or oregan chai concentrates since it ends up with the same generic “chai latte” flavor. I kind of regret not getting the other flavor: burnt sugar and ginger. It might be interesting enough to separate it from the others.

I should really try making my own chai concentrate and keeping it in the fridge.

Flavors: Clove, Ginger

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From Dark Matter 2016:

Anyone remember that “hangover cure” concoction from the movie Heathers? I kept thinking that’s what this would taste like if I added some OJ. My palate is definately sensitive to smoke flavors so that’s a bit understandable, but there is some other flavor to this that I dislike as well.

I brewed this in a gaiwan with a first steep of about 15 seconds or so (longer than I intended of course) and it was pure ashtray. Okay, I thought the same with the Iron Arhat and I ended up enjoying it once all the flavors harmonized. So I kept going, and going, and eventually it started to get so unpleasant that I started to throw out my cups after drinking half. It seemed to steep forever. Eventually the smoke subsided a bit and I started to get a really bitter front note. It also left my mouth dry and coated with a chemical flavor I can only describe as “oh god I hope I don’t get mouth cancer”.

So yea, sample this tea before buying…

Flavors: Smoke, Tar, Tobacco

Boiling 3 g 3 OZ / 90 ML

i don’t mind smokey flavors at all. the bitterness i’m not too picky on


in fact i love smokey flavours

Gooseberry Spoon

To each their own. I’m fine when it’s in BBQ, and salmon, and other protein but in tea it’s just been unpleasant. There was something else going on in here though, it might honestly be one of the worst teas I’ve tried.


hmm, i may have to try this to see too


The opinions on this tea, and many others in Dark Matter, have been so polarizing. A really interesting group of teas :)

Gooseberry Spoon

Yea reading through the other reviews is bizzare. I even had my sig fig try a later steep and he said it tasted like mint!


Gooseberry, I’m with you on keeping smoked BBQ in my plate and out of my cup. Have you tried YS’ Hunan Wild Tips Ye Jian Hand Roasted Hei Cha? It’s much more fruity up front in both taste and aroma. It tastes more like a fruity red tea with the digestive affects ripe pu’er and mouth activity of raw pu’er. Leaving the bag open in my pumidor has improved it.

Gooseberry Spoon

Tanwuils, I haven’t, but I’ll keep an eye out for it next time I place an order with YS. I still can’t take straight up smoke :)

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Used this to make chazuke for dinner. It was such a nice savory accent to the rice. Also, sip down of this sample. Whooooo!

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Likes: Jasmin, citrus, blackcurrants, Japanese greens

Dislikes: Chamomile, lotus, “dessert” teas

Curious: pu erh, chocolate, US tea

Drinking habits: No milk or sugar unless masala chai. At least one hot cup a day and two iced.


90-99: Fantastic, unique, and I’ll have to keep restocking FOREVER
80-89: Excellent! Will buy when I have room and can afford it.
70-79: Great tea, A solid tea. Will keep around.
60-69: Good tea, would buy again on sale.
50-59: Average tea will drink what I have left but wouldn’t go out of my way to look for it.
40-49: Meh, would drink up if given some
30-39: Kinda sad, would put up with it.
20-29: not good might finish the cup. Would drink if there is no other choice.
10-19 Bad. Do not want. Can I just get a cup of hot water instead?
0-9: Horrible, would spit it out and dump out the cup.


Midwest US



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