356 Tasting Notes

Sampled from the Pu’erh Plus TTB.

Prepared 4.6g in a 60ml ceramic gaiwan. I generally followed BLT’s instructions. Rinsed once for 7 seconds and let the chunk rest for 2 minutes. Steeping times: 10 seconds, 15, 15, 22, 22, 29, 35, 45, 60, 90; 2 minutes, 4, 8, 15.

The dry leaf aroma smelled earthy and leathery. Sitting in the pre-heated gaiwan brought out sweetness. The aroma of the wet leaf was also sweet and leathery initially, and became chocolate-like and even sweeter the more the leaf was steeped.

I should have given the chunk a second rinse. It was more pressed than I thought, so it didn’t completely fall apart until after the fourth steeping. As a result, cups 1-4 were too light in taste: sweet and earthy with an aftertaste of dates and raisins. Beginning with the 5th and till the 1oth cups, I experienced very much what BLT describes on their website. Right on the money! That is, overall, this was a clean, clear, and gentle shou. The soup is the color of dark orange. Though lighter in feel and taste than I prefer in shou, Grizzly Brown was full-bodied, very creamy in texture, and had a pronounced sweet earth note. The date/raisin aftertaste was more rounded and lasted longer, and I also noted a prunes. At cups 11 and 12, the sweetness faded and I tasted wood and leather. However, 13 and 14 surprisingly returned to fruity sweetness, even tasting somewhat tart.

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Sample pulled from the Pu’erh Plus TTB.

Brewed in a test tube steeper. I’d call it Western method because I had little leaf (going by what is suggested on the website) and did long infusion. 3 minutes, 10.

It’s a given that the leaf smells of rum (dark rum specifically), but it’s worth note that even after the leaf is spend, I can still smell rum. And from the shou, I pick out sticky rice. The liquor is cloudy (unexpected but not unexpected, considering) and full-bodied. Note: I strictly drink wine and beer, no hard liquor. Not to my taste. That includes both kinds of rum. Maybe in baked goods. I pulled this tea from the box out of curiosity. I can definitely taste the rum and in know way it is overpowering or overwhelming. It works very nicely with the shou, which itself is excellent and adds an earthy, sweet note and a creamy texture. I enjoyed both cups greatly.

Boiling 3 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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From the Regional Group Buy.

Brewed in an infuser mug: 3 minutes, then 6.

The dry leaf aroma is a surprise: smells like apple cinnamon! The wet leaf aroma is more typical of a black tea: malty and with a little chocolate. The liquor has a thick and silky texture, and tastes like an 85% chocolate bar. Very delicious!

200 °F / 93 °C 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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It’s like drinking brownie essence. Many thanks to hawkband1 for giving me a generous amount in her swap.


Glad you enjoyed!


I really, really like the sound of that!


It’s super yummy.

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Prepared in a ceramic gaiwan. I followed the steeping times from the website: 15 seconds, 25, 35, 50, 80, 130, 210 (I tacked on a 10-minute last steeping to completely tire off the leaf).

I’m jumping on the bandwagon on having been taken by surprised by this hongcha. All of my expectations were flung out the window when I first evaluated the aroma, and then the taste of the liquor.

To begin, the aroma doesn’t undergo metamorphosis when the leaf is hit with heat and water. Overall it smells incredibly savory, like tomato sauce with dried oregano, rosemary, and basil. I’ve had wet leaf of black Bi Luo Chun smell like tomato and herbs, but this one has a much more complex aroma, and it was easy for me to pick out multiple specific notes.

The liquor – which is the color of deep gold – is clear, clean, and medium-bodied. For roughly the beginning two-thirds of the session, this hongcha resembles Oriental Beauty. Again, WHAT. I thought I would taste malt, sweet potatoes, and spice. But it has that fruity flavor that I associate only with Oriental Beauty. Very sweet and flavorful, practically like juice. Which fruit(s) I exactly can’t pick out since I haven’t had that many OBs. Later, the last few infusions taste more honey-like.

The session lasted only a morning but it was enjoyable. Nonpareil Yunnan Dian Hong Ancient Wild Tree Black Tea matched the mood created by today’s weather: gray sky, continuous rain, bright autumnal foliage, warm air.

185 °F / 85 °C 4 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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As a birdwatcher, I love waterfowl watching the most. Ducks rock. Dabbling, diving – they’re all made of perfection. Pictured on the wrapper is a drake Ruddy Duck (he’s missing the white on his chin, but that’s alright since it’s for the sake of keeping the print coloring simple). I’ve seen Ruddy Ducks a few times so far, but only a drake in breeding plumage once. That blue beak is something to see firsthand. Winter is approaching. The ducks are on the move.

I obtained a sample from the Pu’erh Plus TTB. Brewed in a ceramic gaiwan. Gave the leaf a 5-second rinse and a 2-minute rest. Steeping times: 5 seconds xfive, 10, 12,15, 20, 30, 45; 1 minute, 1’30", 3, 6, 12, 20.

The dry leaf smells sweet and pepper, and, after sitting in the pre-heated gaiwan, of apricot and mint. The wet leaf is very aromatic, filling the corner of the room with a fragrance of white sugar and apricot.

The soup is clear, and has a full-body yet a gentle, bright mouth-feel. The color begins as pale yellow and ends as pale gold. Thick-ish texture sometimes. I used 200 degree temperature water for the first five infusions and then switched to 190. 200 produces a tartness that overwhelms the grassy and apricot notes. The huigan is weak.

190 is much better for the leaf. The heart of the session – infusions 6-11 – are lightly sweet and bitter. Qualities balanced, one not overwhelming the other. Slowly developing is a slight cooling aftertaste, which I mostly feel in the mouth. The sweet apricot aftertaste – the throat – is at its strongest at this point. For infusions 12 and 13, the menthol note has fully developed and even rivals the huigan, cooling the throat. The soup itself tastes sweet, bitter, and menthol-like all at once. 14 tastes mostly of menthol. The longer steeps for 15-17 produce a bitterness that outdoes the menthol. No more sweetness. Once again, the huigan is weak. But more than twenty minutes later, as I write this review, I still feeling the cooling in my throat.

5 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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Prepared 3.7g in a ceramic gaiwan. I gave the leaf a flash rinse to get it going. Steeping times: 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 30, 45; 2 minutes, 4, 9, 20.

A hongcha with great aromas? Check! When I smell the leaf in the packet – wow! – was it super chocolate-like. Letting the leaf sit in the pre-heated gaiwan brought out gingerbread and tomato sauce notes as well as chocolate. The wet leaf smells of cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little bit of fudge.

The liquor is orange-colored, clear, clean-tasting, and medium-bodied. The first cup is light with malt with some sweet potato. From the second cup and onward (till the last), the malt has disappeared, and the sweet potato note is stronger. I also taste cinnamon and chocolate. They don’t pop out as much, but they are present. There is a consistent caramel aftertaste. The texture is smooth. As the description on the website says, this hongcha tastes – and feels, I’d say – “sweet and mellow.”

I especially this recommend this to hongcha lovers. Get a look at that leaf!

200 °F / 93 °C 2 OZ / 60 ML

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Obtained a sample from the Pu’erh Plus TTB.

Used 3.4g. Gave the leaf two 5-second rinses and a rest for one minute. Steeping times: 10 seconds, 8, 12, 15, 30; 1 minute, 2, 5, 10, 20.

The dry leaf smells earthy and chocolatey sweet. Sitting in the pre-heated gaiwan really brought out the chocolate; it was very hot cocoa-like. The wet leaf, in contrast, smells of damp earth and fermentation (unexpected and displeasing, since the dry leaf aroma was so nice).

The soup color is dark orange. I taste bittersweet chocolate and fermentation in the first three cups, which are cloudy. It isn’t until the fourth that the soup finally clears. I thought the fermentation would eventually too, but it didn’t. It was present throughout the session. Instead, the bittersweet chocolate note disappears and is replaced by wood beginning with the fifth cup. These notes of fermentation and wood last until the leaf gives up. It isn’t unappealing – the kind that’s stinky, fishy, mushroom-like. It’s rather light and not off-putting. Overall, this is a lighter tasting/feeling shou.

In his review from three years ago, mrmopar wrote that this shou was probably meant to age more and that he’d check on it in five years. I think it has a couple more years to go. It seems like it needs more time.

Boiling 2 OZ / 60 ML

This has some sheng blended in with it. I would agree on the added time for it.


interesting, ive never tasted a sheng/shou blend


I haven’t had a sheng/shou blend either. It wasn’t bad. Although I’ll never forget MarshalN’s post xD

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Obtained a sample from the Pu’erh Plus TTB.

I used 5.4g in a 60ml ceramic gaiwan. Gave the leaf a quick rinse and a two minute rest. Steeping times: 5 seconds x5, 8, 10, 12, 15, 20, 15, 20, 30, 45; 1 minute, 2, 5, 12.

The leaf smells sweet and herbaceous, of tobacco and apricot. As the session goes on, the more the leaf is washed with water, a very sweet apricot aroma takes over.

Clear, yellow soup throughout the session. The first few cups are quite bitter with some sweetness, and they feel punchy and buzzy in my mouth. Not truly surprising since the ratio of grams to water is 5.4 to 60. I’d also used boiling water. I guess this is the first time I “hit it hard” with sheng. I did feel my heart rate increase as if I’d spent some time exercising.

I lowered the water temperature to 200 beginning with the sixth cup. There isn’t much evolution in taste or texture after this point. Overall, the soup is still bitter but sweeter – there is more of a balance. Around infusion 11, a grassy note appears, replacing the bitterness. The soup then tastes like sweet grass and apricot until the end. In regards to the punchy feel, that slowly disappears.

The texture is a somewhat thick. My mouth dries a little after I finish each cup, but saliva quickly replenishes itself. There is huigan throughout the entire session, and it lasts for minutes. I enjoyed the sweet, apricot notes, and I felt contented every time I resumed the session after taking breaks. Bear in mind, I was enraged at one point and this sheng calmed me. Props.

2 OZ / 60 ML

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I obtained a sample from the Pu’erh Plus TTB. I think it’s this particular shou – the label didn’t say who the vendor was, but that it was provided by mrmopar.

Brewed in a ceramic gaiwan. Gave the leaf a 10-second rinse, then a rest for a couple minutes. Steeping times: 5, 8, 10, 15, 10, 20, 40; 1 min, 1, 2, 5, 12.

The dry leaf smells earthy and sweet, and the wet leaf aroma even sweeter, so much like dark chocolate. The soup color starts off as burnt orange and darkens to ruddy brown. A little cloudy in the beginning (viewing the soup from the pitcher), but eventually clears up by the end of the session. The first couple infusions are a little sweet with some thickness, mostly tasting of fermentation (I think). The middle infusions – 3 through 10 – taste just like the wet leaf aroma: very sweet with a bitter dark chocolate note. Creamy in texture. This was the heart of the session. One word I wrote down was “yum.” I also eventually tasted the Raisinettes note that I usually get in a chocolate-like shou. Infusions 11-13 are still creamy, but the chocolate disappears, replaced by cut wood.

Boiling 5 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

It is from the eBay seller Berylleb. An excellent trusted seller for me.


I have heard excellent things about Berylleb from you and Allan. Thank you for adding this to the box!


Welcome, its a good tea.

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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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