321 Tasting Notes

From the Beginner’s Pu’erh TTB.

Brewed with a ceramic gaiwan. Gave the leaf two 5-second rinses and let it rest for 10 minutes. Steeping times: 15, 10, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50; 2 minutes, 4, 8, 20.

Dry leaf smells of chocolate and leather. In heated gaiwan bowl, of hot cocoa and sticky rice. The wet leaf aroma changes: begins with sticky rice, then evolves to prunes, then to a chocolate-fruit note reminded me of those dark chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds.

This is originally from the regular pu’erh TTB, added by Rich. Having written the only other review, he commented on how bitter this shou was he tried it around a year ago. I think this is aged OK. While there was an under-note of bitterness until the seventh cup, this tastes nicely sweet and chocolately.

The soup is clear dark orange-red, clean-looking. The first cup is sour, with some fermentation, but tastes of chocolate just a little. Following the second cup, the sweetness and the chocolate note strengthen. They reach a plateau with the seventh cup and continue to be present at the last cup. From the eighth cup to the end, I can also taste fresh cedar wood.


The soup is full-bodied but feels light. Not a rich shou. Easier on the stomach, too (also in his review, Rich commented he got a stomach-ache). To get a better sense of an unbiased session, I should have used a porcelain cup, but I wanted to use a ruyao cup, which affected the soup in that it was creamy and very smooth.

Boiling 5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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From the Beginner’s Pu’erh TTB.

Brewed with a ceramic gaiwan. Steeping times 2 x five, 5 x five, 8, 10, 10, 15, 18, 20, 30, 45; 1 min, 2, 4, 10.

The dry leaf on its own smells of tobacco, clove and fennel; resting in the heated gaiwan bowl, of fresh leather and red grapes. The wet leaf aroma evolves throughout the session. Beginning: grassy and muscatel. Middle: tobacco-y, smoky. End: very grape-like.

The soup color starts off as light orange but is deep yellow by the end. Thick texture; creamy at certain points. Cup 1 is very bitter, tasting of sour smoke. 2 through 7, unexpectedly, taste like smoked salmon. I need a bagel and cream cheese to go with this!

After this, there is a turning point: a grape note appears with menthol, replacing the salmon. Feels cooling in the mouth. The soup continues to become sweeter and fruitier. No more bitterness. At cup 16, the grape note is traded with apricot, and the menthol stays as an aftertaste.

Boiling 5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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Thank you, Teavivre, for the sample!

Gongfu session with a glass pot. No rinse. Steeping times: 10 sec, 15, 10, 25, 45, 35, 45, 60, 90; 2 min.

Based on the website’s description, I expected a soft-going aroma, but that is not the case. The leaf – dry and wet – is very aromatic. Beany, buttery, grassy, and a little sweet. Fills the pot easily and escapes. Additionally, I smelled a little tobacco in the wet leaf after the second steep.

The liquor is pale green, thick, and full-bodied. Full of flavor from beginning to end. For the couple steepings, I taste strong and creamy notes of buttered vegetables, beansprouts. A little bit salty. They are very much like a thick sencha, having umami like a gyokuro. Beginning with the third steeping, the flavor becomes gentler and sweeter. Each cup finishes with a cooling mint leaf. I felt considerably more energetic after drinking the sixth steeping (I consumed 1-6 within two hours, about 12 oz worth).

Buttery green teas aren’t to my taste – they tend to be too heavy for my stomach. However, while this tasted rich, it didn’t feel rich. It was tolerable. Even though I did not take to loving this, I appreciated the mint finish and aftertaste most. I recommend this as an excellent summer tea. The brewing temperature may be a little high for summer, depending, but it’s worth it for the cooling note.

195 °F / 90 °C 5 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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From the Beginner’s Pu’erh TTB.

Brewed semi-gongfu/semi-Western method with a glass test tube steeper. Amount of leaf leaf is actually 1.8g since that was all that was left. No rinse. Steeping times: 1 min, 1’ 30", 2’, 4’, 8’.

This Dian Hong has the most hot cocoa-like aroma I’ve encountered thus far. I smelled malt the first second I stuck my nose in the packet but it quickly paved the way for a powerful chocolate powder. I may be fooled if I were blindfolded. Having sat in the heated steeper, and being washed with water after the first infusion, the cocoa is magnified. Chocolate deluxe. Death by chocolate.

The liquor is beautifully golden orange, having a full body and creamy texture. The fannings and small bits were about a fourth of the amount of leaf I took from the packet, and I had thought they contributed the strong malty note one would in certain Assams. However, that seems to be a characteristic of this Dian Hong. The malt stays the entire session, but gradually lessons a little. Inverse proportion: there is hint of honey-molasses sweetness in the second infusion but the sweetness strengthens.

Overall, rich and strong. A good Dian Hong for every day, especially when one’s spirits need lifting and you’d want a nice hongcha.

2 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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From the Beginner’s Pu’erh TTB.

Had a gongfu session, brewed in ceramic gaiwan (120ml, but I tried to eye the water level). One 5 second rinse. 3 min rest. Another 5 sec rinse (was the first steeping but the soup ended up tasting too light). Steeping times: 15, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 75, 70; 2 min, 2.5, 4, 6, 10.

The dry leaf smells firstly of tobacco, then of apricot. I let the leaf sit in the heated bowl for a moment and it brought out the apricot note. Wet leaf also smells of apricot. Very fruity aroma, even the soup aroma is strong.

The soup is pale yellow and full-bodied. Overall, this sheng is sweet and bitter simultaneously. It never shakes of the bitterness, which is always underneath, but the apricot sweetness increases in the beginning of the session and levels off to a consistency in the middle. The texture starts to show at itself early on – thick and smooth, a little oily? – and remains so. Menthol makes an appearance at infusion 5 and stays until the end. Sometimes it overpowers the apricot, sometimes it sticks to the roof the the mouth or back of the throat. The apricot/menthol aftertaste is long-lasting.

As for qi: Starting with infusion 3, the soup feels like it’s charged with energy. Like it’s almost buzzing. At the penultimate infusion, the energy mellows. I drank the first 9 cups on an empty stomach (I was waiting for brunch to be prepared). My digestive system felt fine. I did feel tea tipsy!

I do agree a cake or tong would be worth every penny.

200 °F / 93 °C 5 g 2 OZ / 59 ML

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drank Hashiri Shincha by Den's Tea
321 tasting notes

It is my pleasure to have the 2016 harvest as my first Hashiri Shincha from Den’s. I had been looking forward to it for months.


Brewed in a ceramic kyusu. Steeping times: 90 seconds, 60, 90, 120. Temperature remained the same.

The most noticeable characteristic is the sweetness. Unexpectedly, the dry leaf smells fruity, of lychee and loganberry. When steeped, the leaf smells more vegetal and ever so slightly buttery. The pale but bright green broth is very thick and medium-bodied. The first cup has a balance of sweet and savory. It is so deliciously sweet! With each following infusion, the savory note strengthens and the sweetness lessens.

There is no bitterness, nor a seaweed note. Straight up sweet and/or savory. It is refreshing and invigorating – a spring delight.


160 °F / 71 °C 5 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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I requested that this tea be swapped for another that I already owned when I was first offered the sample flight, all for which I’m grateful. Thank you, Angel!

Taken grandpa-style in a glass.


This tea fits the tone of mid/late-spring. I like the appearance of the dry leaf: short, dark green curls. The aroma of the dry leaf is buttery and savory, like a deeply steamed sencha. Of the wet leaf and the liquor, there are sweet notes of sugar snap peas and beans. The liquor is clear, pale green with a creamy texture. Flavorful, tastes briskly fresh, has sweetly vegetal notes, notably beany. Heavy feeling for a green tea.

This is the first time I’ve had a Lu Shan Yun Wu and it’s a good first experience. The heavy/buttery quality in green teas isn’t to my liking, but it’s not exactly repulsive. This is of good quality, one to enjoy every day.

175 °F / 79 °C 2 tsp 11 OZ / 325 ML

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Thank you, Angel, for the sample!

Brewed in a ceramic gaiwan, prepared in a gongfu session. No rinse. Steeping times: 15 seconds, 8, 10, 15, 20, 40, 60, 120, 300.

The dry leaf smells mostly of honey with a little bit of malt. After resting in the heated gaiwan bowl, the leaf smells pleasantly of light smoke and caramel. The wet leaf aroma is very different: chocolate and honey are dominant notes, and there is a hint of malt.

The liquor color is a beautiful burned orange. Just lovely in a white fine porcelain cup. Very clear and very clean.


As expected, this Lapsang Souchong has a full body and flavors which fill the mouth. Unexpectedly, it barely has any smoke – it’s very sweet. The session begins with the first infusion being chocolately, slightly malty, and smooth. There is a dominant smoke in the second infusion, but it disappears completely afterward. Third infusion and onward, the liquor is smoother and sweeter, having notes of chocolate and molasses and honey. The aftertaste lingers for minutes. There is absolutely no malt – a first for me with a chocolate-like hongcha.


Positively delightful. I enjoyed every drop and every aspect of this tea. Very glad to have this on a beautiful day off from work!

200 °F / 93 °C 4 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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This is a free sample. Thanks to Angel at Teavivre!

Just to get it out of the way: I tried finding info one what “embryo” , means to but had no luck.

Frankly, based on the name, I’m surprised I like this more than I thought I would. I can’t say anything more about the taste other than it tastes like buckwheat, but it has a clean and full, roasted wheat-y flavor. It makes a good evening ‘herbal’ cup, and it sits well in the stomach after a big meal. The kernels, after steeping in the tea pot, smell so good.

Boiling 6 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

A baby plant inside a seed is called an embryo, maybe it has something to do with that?

Gooseberry Spoon

What ashmara said. I’m thinking its equivalent to the term “non-degerminated” used on English labels for grains and flours. This means that the germ (embryo) hasn’t been removed meaning 1) the flour has all of the nutrition from the germ and 2) the flour is not as shelf stable because it contains the healthy unsaturated germ oils that have a tendency to go rancid over time.


Thanks, guys! I’m completely unfamiliar with this side of biology and didn’t know how to go about researching.

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Generously given as a free sample. Many thanks to Angel!

Brewed in ceramic gaiwan, had a gongfu session. No rinse. Steeping times: 15, 10, 15, 20, 30, 45, 60; 2 min, 5.

Nearly all of the leaf is dark, dark brown, save for a few golden leaves. They’re short and curly, like black bi luo chun, but thin and without hairs. The dry leaf smells of sweet potato and a hint of chocolate. After the leaf spent a little time in the heated gaiwan bowl, the chocolate note strengthened, and a graham crackers note also appeared. The wet leaf aroma is malty at first; as the session went on, it smelled more like sweet potato.

The liquor has a dark orange color. It is clear and clean-tasting, with a full body but light mouthfeel. The first infusion tastes of sweet potato and malt with clove in the background. Second infusion and onward, the liquor sweetens more and more, consistently tasting of sweet potato. Its texture feels thick and smooth, almost creamy.


Being hongcha, this is a delight to drink on colder, overcast days. Unfortunately, this is only my second keemun – and my first keemun from Teavivre – so I can’t evaluate it fully. I wasn’t wowed by the aroma or the taste, though I did enjoy the full session. I also liked its hug-in-a-cup effect. It reminds me of dian hong. I imagine this would also taste good Western style.

185 °F / 85 °C 4 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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I began drinking tea because its complexity fascinated me. I love learning about its history, its manufacturing processes, and its place in various cultures.

Japanese greens were my first love and gateway into the world.

My favorite teas are leafhopper oolongs, pu’erh (shou and sheng), and masala chai. My favorite herbal tisanes are spear/peppermint, lavender and chrysanthemum.

I’m currently exploring pu’erh, and any Chinese and Taiwanese teas in general. I’m not much into flavored teas, unlike when I first started. The only teas I truly dislike are fruity tisanes and the ones that have too much fruit. I do like hisbiscus, especially iced.

I like to write nature essays. I’m a birdwatcher as well as a tea enthusiast. The kiwi is one of my favorite birds. I also like Tolkien, Ancient Egypt, and exercising.

IMPORTANT NOTE, PLEASE READ: After two and a half years of having an account here, I will no longer will provide numerical ratings as an addition to the review because the American school system has skewed my thoughts on numbers out of a hundred and the colors throw me off. Curses! My words are more than sufficient. If I really like what I have, I will “recommend”, and if I don’t, “not recommended”.

Key for past ratings:

96-100 I adore absolutely everything about it. A permanent addition to my stash.

90-95 Superb quality and extremely enjoyable, but not something I’d necessarily like to have in my stash (might have to do with personal tastes, depending on what I say in the tasting note).

80-89 Delicious! Pleased with the overall quality.

70-79 Simply, I like it. There are qualities that I find good, but there also are things that aren’t, hence a lower rating that I would have otherwise like to put.

60-69 Overall “meh”. Not necessarily bad, but not necessarily good.

0-59 No.

If there is no rating: I don’t feel experienced enough to rate the tea, or said tea just goes beyond rating (in a positive way).


Westchester, NY

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