261 Tasting Notes

From a Steepster Select box I obtained around a year ago.

Brewed semi-Western style with a gongfu glass tea pot. Steeping times: 20 seconds, 40, 60, 120.

The session begins with a complex and strange savory aroma. The most savory I have thus far experienced. The dry leaf smells of cloves, a number of other blended spices, and oregano. Spiced brownies and cinnamon initially arise from the wet leaf, then red meats on which black pepper is sprinkled, then broth.

The liquor is very beautiful against a porcelain white cup. Clear amber. I haven’t had a visual pleasure of a tea’s liquor in a while. It has a smooth texture and full body. The first and second infusions are malty, chocolately, and a little peppery. There is an aftertaste of chocolate mousse with a little more than a touch of dark rum. The third infusion is SWEET POTATOES. Sweet potatoes return in the fourth infusion, which also has notes of cedar and malt.

Comforting and mellowing throughout the session. At the end, I felt a little tea tipsy. Reminiscent of early autumn. I enjoyed this through and through. It made a good first experience with a Taiwanese black tea. (Hence no recommendation in spite of my being in favor for its being).

2 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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I obtained this last year from a free Steepster Select Box. It really held up…

Brewed semi-Western style with a gongfu glass tea pot. 20 second rinse. Steeping times: 1 minute, 45 seconds, 1 minute, 2, 4.

The dry leaf smells of sweet and tangy (unidentifiable) fruit. I don’t necessarily detect pine as the packet suggests, but I do get deciduous trees from the wet leaf – full-leaf, very green, in between field and forest. The liquor aroma has quite a sweetness. Lovely aroma to take in, overall.

The pale yellow liquor is light-bodied yet flavorful, filling the mouth. The flavor profile is consistent: it has the sweetness of maple syrup, but without the heavy, thick feel. The tasting sessions starts of as purely sweet and becomes a little more floral with each cup. The texture is thick, but the at the third infusion, it becomes wonderfully creamy. The fifth – the last – infusion is very different. Sweetness faded, there are only floral notes. Also corn husks. Never had corn husk in my tea before. Eh.

So so sweet. Great to drink on a cooler summer morning. I really like the aromas this leaf has to offer.

Boiling 2 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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I last drank this last mid-November of 2014. This note is for educational purposes. Ratings won’t be deleted to keep the integrity of my first tasting note.

Method: gongfu session with a ceramic gaiwan. 5 second rinse. Steeping times: 25, 35, 45, 55, 65, 75, 100, 120.

The dry leaf and wet leaf aromas smell roasted and bitter, of sauteed dark greens. In contrast, the liquor aroma gives off strawberries.

The liquor has a golden yellow. Full-bodied. The effect feels heavy (as opposed to, say, Teavivre’s Da Yu Ling, which makes me feel energized). The first infusion has a silky and thick texture. The flavor notes are sweet like strawberries first first, then, later, like hard candy, which then becomes flower-like. There is a milk candy aftertaste that is persistent throughout the entire session.

The second infusion is similar overall but tastes more roasted and has notes of tart berries. Three and four: a floral sweetness, also just as tart, though. Five, six, and seven are even sweeter, a little less tart and more flower. Drying mouth. Finally, eight tastes mostly like the milk candy.

How this differs from last time: I stored this poorly. Oh heck, I really didn’t even “store” it. That accounts for the stronger tartness. Can’t really review the quality because of this.

Boiling 7 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

I think you might have meant mid November of another year, seeing as we’re in Aug of 2015…


Ugghhh I thought I had edited that before I posted xD

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I last drank this late November 2014. This note is for educational purposes. Ratings won’t be deleted to keep the integrity of my first tasting note.

Method: gongfu session with a ceramic gaiwan. 5 second rinse. Steeping times: 30, 30, 50, 75, 90, 120, 150, 180.

The dry leaf aroma now smells of sweetened milk, and is a little buttery; the wet leaf aroma of intense flowers; and the liquor aroma – from the underside of the gaiwan lid – of pure sugarcane.

Liquor: yellow in color, full-bodied, stimulating effect. The first infusion has a creamy texture. Sweet on the tip of my tongue, floral in the top of the back of my mouth. The second infusion is silkier, having both sweet and floral all around. Milky aftertaste. Third through ninth infusions, the rest of the session: roughly the same. Thick and smooth, sweeter and more sugar-like with a sugar snap pea aftertaste.

How it differs from last time: The seaweed aroma is more likely from the packet itself, the leaf trying to keep fresh. I didn’t sense any fruity, juicy, or bitter vegetal (spinach) flavors. And this tea feels more summery and than spring-like. Still enjoyable.

Boiling 7 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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I drink this Western but tonight I wanted to try it out with a gongfu session.

Disclaimer: This is only my second batch chrysanthemum buds/flowers to ever drink. But I feel positive about this. Pleasant. Clean. Relaxing.




Boiling 5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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Cold-brewed then poured on ice.

I’m heading into a direction: flavored teas are losing their appeal, I quickly move toward the threshold of purely drinking the unflavored. But if there are more blends like this I might not be turned off from flavored teas completely. I haven’t tried a cup of this hot, but it was mighty delicious each time I drank it cold.

I thought this would be bitter since the base tea leaves are pretty broken, but that wasn’t the case. The blueberry flavoring is strong yet light. It works very well with the shou mei – whose sweet grassy flavor I taste just a slight – and doesn’t taste at all artificial. Summer is blueberry time (actually blueberries), and after my first sips I could have sworn I’d just eaten some blueberries. The freeze-dried blueberries in the blend are nice touch in the dry leaf appearance.

2 tsp 24 OZ / 709 ML

I swing back and forth. I went through several months where I only drank unflavored, then went back to flavored.

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I had bought this nearly three years ago, when I was still a newbie to pure loose tea. To finish it up quickly, I cold-brewed the remainder. Surprisingly, it still held up event though it was a couple years old (???).

As far as an oolong of which I know nothing about – except the fact that it’s rolled and seems to have gone through ~35% oxidation – I found this delicious cold-brewed and then poured on ice. A simple scented oolong suited this brewing method. The flavor profile isn’t complex: sweetly floral and light, very refreshing and hypothetically relieving for the summer heat (I drank it in an icy office the entire time hehe).

7 g 24 OZ / 709 ML

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I cold-brewed this for 22 hours, and then poured on ice. Since I didn’t have it hot, I can’t compare flavor profiles. But it seems that cold-brewing really draws out strong barley notes, with an undertone of brown sugar sweetness. Very nice to drink. I enjoyed each sip.

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Had a gongfu session. Prepared with a ceramic gaiwan. 5 second rinse. Steeping times from Teavivre’s website: 25 sec, 25, 30, 40, 60, 90, 120, 180.

I had a odd experience with the dry leaf aroma: it was vegetal like sencha, but after a letting the leaf sit in the bowl for a minute or so, I smelled orange juice. I’m pretty sure of it… It’s not I’ve had orange juice as of late.

Well, the aroma of the leaf – from the rinse – goes back to Taiwanese oolong. Ah, summer flowers. ‘Tis mid-summer, the day of Lughnasadh. You can’t go wrong with an Alishan oolong, for it’s essence is summer. The wet leaf aroma – which follows the first infusions – reflects the fact that these leaves came from a tree called “Jin Xuan tea tree”: the notes are quite milky.

When I read this, while waiting for the water to heat, my insides winced. Jin Xuan makes me feel a little ill. But this tea isn’t called Jin Xuan.

The leaf yields a light green gold liquor, which is clear and full-bodied, and has a thick mouthfeel. The floral notes are consistent and delicate. In the middle of the session, berry notes comet through – strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, and other goodies. Nothing other than flowers and fruits.

I wouldn’t call this everyday per se – in no way it’s so pedestrian. But it is something one can drink every day, to relax with all year around. Agreeable and pleasant, this isn’t something I’d tire of easily.

195 °F / 90 °C 7 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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This tasted like a run-of-the-mill chocolate tea. Nothing stood out as brownie batter. It was alright.

2 g 8 OZ / 236 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.

My favorite teas are leafhopper oolongs and shou pu’erh, 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 jin xuan either.

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

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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