208 Tasting Notes


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Brewed with a test tube steeper. No rinse as recommended. Steeping times: 40, 50, 60, 75, 90, 180.

Such a wonderful aroma. The dry leaf smells of malt and wood, and the wet leaf of sweet potatoes and a little hot fudge. I started craving sweet potatoes… The liquor is amber-colored, mostly clear (fuzzies from the leaves), creamy-textured, and full-bodied. Depending on my mood, the flavor profile switches back and forth between pine and dark chocolate. Always sweet, if on the woody/malty side, but never bitter or to woody. There is a sweet cinnamon aftertaste. Cozy feel, seems to be best for late autumn or a cold, rainy spring day.

200 °F / 93 °C 4 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

Love The Zhu


I haven’t had a Chinese black tea in months and this experience was a good one in coming back.

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Last one from the Sheng and Shou TTB. This is the loose leaf version, but I didn’t want to create a new “tea” for this note.

Brewed gongfu-style with a ceramic gaiwan. Used enough leaf to fill half the gaiwan. 10 second rinse. Steeping times: 5, 8, 12, 15, 20, 30, 60, 90, 120.

Despite being an autumn sheng, spring is in the dry leaf, which smells of flowers, notably hyacinths, and a newly mowed lawn. The wet leaf aroma reminds me of leafhopper oolongs. Purely stonefruit after the rinse, and then i becomes richly jam-like.

The liquor is a clear pale gold. Slightly thick texture. Light-bodied. Bright personality. Uplifting yet calming feel. The first couple infusions resemble white tea. Airy feel, tastes of field grass. Beginning with the third infusion, this becomes more sheng-like – sweet grass and asparagus notes appear. Infusions eight and nine are fruitier, very fruity. Plum lingers in the mouth long after the very last sip.

The dry leaf is something to admire. I think this is my first sheng in which the leaves are so long, unbroken and full. They’re also lovely in color and texture.

Dr Jim

I was just thinking that I was hoping to see more reviews coming from the TTB, then when I went to my dashboard I saw this. Cheered me up!


@Dr Jim – I am about to start digging into the ones I took from it and will be posting in the next week


Woohoo! Too bad it’s my last one :P

Dr Jim

You should have taken more!

Dr Jim

I shouldn’t throw any stones. I have a lot of trouble writing reviews of pu-erh. Seems like everything tastes of wood or tobacco. I read these reviews of various fruits, but I have real trouble seeing it. I think my palate isn’t refined enough.


You should write Dr Jim. Took me long time but I found practice/drinking it brought me along.


I didn’t have enough in my stash to replace what I took, but I’ll have more the next round for sure!

The first time I drank sheng – from Verdant, two years ago – it tasted like bitter dry grass. I was totally turned off. I’ve been reading people’s notes over the past few months and the fruit notes they tasted made me too curious to pass on trying more sheng. The amount I’ve been drinking of late escalated because of the box. I guess my palate evolves rapidly. I’m still getting grass or hay or tobacco (blurgggh) but I’m getting there. I liked shou right away, and I’m slowly coming to like sheng. And I like the qi that comes drinking it. It’s like a clearer “tea tipsy” compared to what shou causes.


I’ve done one of the teas I took, and I plan to do more this week. I didn’t want to spend too much more time with the box since it sat there unopened for so long while I was sick. I just jumped in, picked a handful out and sent it on its way.

Dr Jim

That’s pretty much what everyone did. I figured with pu-erh, people use so much for a pot that it made sense to just take one sample. For the next circuit I intend to ask people how that worked out and whether it makes more sense to let people take all they want. The up-side is that the box is just flying around the country. We’ve had 8 people have the box in only 40 days, which has to be some kind of TTB record.

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From the Sheng and Shou TTB.

Brewed with a gaiwan, gongfu method. No rinse. Steeping times: 10, 10, 20, 20, 30, 30, 35, 60, 120.

Dry leaf aroma smells of white sugar. The wet leaf aroma also smells sweetly, and has notes of hay and (somewhere in there, lingering at the end, mostly after the first infusion) mint.

The color of the liquor is pretty in a white porcelain cup – green-ish orange, then more orange-y as the session goes on. This sheng is smooth. It begins with a thickness that eventually thins out. Starts off as clear, then a lot fuzzies from leaf float around in the Pyrex cup, starting with the fourth infusion. There are consistent flavors that pop out all at once: dry hay, green peppers, fruit (especially apricot, noted by Stacy from Butiki), and musk. Sluggish qi. Made me feel tired-tipsy.


I love love love this one :D


I appreciated it, but I didn’t get an “aw yissssss”. I’m getting so much better at tasting sheng though.

Did you stock up? :P


Yep, I bought the last 400g cake :P

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drank Chocolate Malt by 52teas
208 tasting notes

Here’s Hoping TTB Round 4

I forgot I already tried and wrote a tasting note for this! I gave a 76 rating last time?? One year makes a difference even for flavored teas.

I must have underleafed. Last night, this was so good. I thought it really did taste like a milkshake. Rich with chocolate flavor. No need for dessert!

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Thank you for providing a sample, Just Organic Tea!

I was looking forward to this one the most out of the bunch, and it is one of the two that I really liked. Spearmint is my favorite herbal tisane. I was expecting peppermint so it was great to to the former on the packet. Spearmint and lemon (and lemon myrtle) go well together. Tastes mostly spearmint-y. There is a hint of the lemon/citrus notes. I drank this over the past couple days. The weather was so cooooold, but this was still refreshing to drink.

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I appreciate the free sample!

I took this without milk or sugar both times. A gentle masala chai overall. The liquor sweetly smells of cardamon and cinnamon, and tastes mildly spicy (the ginger is most prominent), which doesn’t linger in the aftertaste and allows the base tea – malty, bread-like – to take over.

This masala chai blend would be perfect to have in mid-autumn.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 8 OZ / 236 ML

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From the Sheng and Shou TTB.

Brewed the gongfu method with a ceramic gaiwan. Gave the tuocha a 20 second rinse. Steeping times: 5, 5, 10, 30, 40, 60, 240.

Luscious aroma: cocoa and sugarcane arise when the tuocha is newly steeped, then loam and damp earth at the end of the session.

The liquor full-bodied, delectably creamy, and very dark in color yet clear. The flavors are bittersweet, a combination of dark cooking chocolate and black coffee. I notice that the chocolate tends to rise to the roof of my mouth while the coffee sticks to the tongue. The flavors sweeten and become less bitter as the session goes on. An earthy note then appears.

The tuocha gives away a rich liquor right away, but too much too quickly, as the flavors weaken after the fourth steep, hence the really long ultimate infusion time. Now, this comes from using a ceramic gaiwan. I’m certain a yixing pot would be more generous.

Ugh, it snowed for most of the morning and some of the afternoon (just flurries but still – UGH). At this point of the year, the crocuses would be in bloom. Even spring migration is stalled! Temple Stairs is definitely a comfort in this delayed “spring”.

Boiling 5 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Dr Jim

Love your review, but hate the snow: it’s been coming down all day here as well. I REALLY need some Spring.


Me too. I’m not used to long winters. The grayness has been making me feel so tired.


I am so done with the constant cold. But it has to change some day… right?

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Thank you for the sample, Just Organic Tea!

The aroma of this one smells soooo good. I rinsed my iced tea pitcher with hot water for a few seconds and dropped in the tea bag before heating up some more water. While I waited for the water to come to a boil, the raspberry filled the pitcher. Yum!

Taste-wise, almost like the strawberry iced tea, the raspberry flavoring could also be stronger – just some more flavoring to be even more enjoyable. Even though the temperature today didn’t reach above 45 this was still refreshing!

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Thank you providing me a sample to review, Just Organic Tea.

Solid base tea. I can’t taste much of the strawberry flavor, even when I put few ice cubs into the glass. It’s definitely there but needs to be much stronger. The tea bag and liquor do smell of strawberry, though – nice aroma.

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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.

My favorite teas are shou and Japanese greens, and my favorite herbal tisanes are spear/peppermint, lavender and chrysanthemum. I’m currently exploring shou and sheng pu’erh, and any Chinese and Taiwanese teas. African teas are my babies. I adore masala chai – I share with my dad every Friday (“chai Friday” – hee hee). The only teas I truly dislike are fruity tisanes and the ones that have too much fruit. I do like hisbiscus, especially iced, though. Not much of a fan of milk oolong either.

I’m an MFA graduate who studied nonfiction writing and am now an editorial assistant. I mostly write nature essays. I’m birder as well as a tea enthusiast. I also like exercising, Tolkien, and Ancient Egypt.

How I rate:

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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