342 Tasting Notes

From the Pu’erh Plus TTB.

Brewed in a ceramic gaiwan. The tuocha weight totaled 5.4g. I was going to give it two 10-second rinses and a ten minute rest, but it opened up very quickly, so only one rinse was necessary. Steeping times: 2, 2, 4, 4, 8, 18, 30; 1.5 minutes, 4, 15.

The tuocha smells of cedar wood. Letting it rest in the pre-heated gaiwan brings out an aroma of pulled pork, which gradually changes into honey BBQ sauce, and then to chocolate. The wet leaf smells of tapioca and smoky pine wood.

The soup is deep reddish brown, full-bodied, and creamy. It’s somewhat cloudy at first and takes up to four infusions to finally clear. I may should have kept the tuocha better. Who knows how long it’s been sitting in the little plastic baggie (kept in an open cardboard box). The first two infusions taste funky, which begins to lessen at the third, when I also taste a hint of chocolate. The fourth infusion has that cream of mushroom flavor I haven’t tasted in shou in a while, but it is also sweet (not incongruously so). Fifth infusion and onward, there is flat cedar wood note, almost paper-like at the end.

This might be my tastes since I haven’t had a mini tuocha in more than a year. More likely, this might be a lesson on how I should keep shou mini tuos if I ever stock on any.


Boiling 4 OZ / 120 ML

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Purchased last year, finished just now. Brewed in a ceramic tea pot or in a paper filter bag.

As I’ve previously stated before, I love masala chai and exploring unique blends. I’m a lover of ginger, and I appreciate the fact that the ginger Brenden uses in his blends is stronger than what I’ve encountered in teas from other companies. But the ginger in this case overpowers all of the other ingredients, both the base tea and the spices. Just barely I can taste the vanilla bean and the chocolately goodness from the black Bi Luo Chun (I’m a fan of his Golden Snail). And I did try to shake up the pouch.

It’s hard to fully comment every aspect. Nevertheless, this makes an excellent autumn tea. It is very comforting. I do recommend it for those who are curious or want a different masala chai. You would most likely get something different out of this.

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From the Pu’erh Plus TTB.

Used a ceramic gaiwan. This session was all over the place. Too bad I only had 4.2g to experiment with – I wanted to enjoy this as much as I could. I changed the brewing temperature twice – beginning with boiling, then to 200, lastly to 185 – because I thought an 11-year old sheng would do better with a hotter temperature. But the liquor was dark yellow and the amount of bitterness exceeded my expectations. Dry storage, it is then.

Five second rinse. Three minute resting period (looked pretty compressed, but loosened pretty quickly). Steeping times: 5 seconds, 5, 2, 2, 5, 8, 8, 10, 20, 30, 45; 1 minute, 2, 4, 8, 15.

At first, the dry leaf aroma has a sour note of pickled something (closest, red peppers), then sweetened to honey and cooked brown sugar. The wet leaf aroma is smokey and grassy, becoming lightly fruity later in the session. My tasting cup and the gaiwan lid held onto this fruitiness for much of the session.

212 degrees, infusions 1 through 5. Bitter, herbaceous. Only the first cup has huigan. The soup starts to have a thick texture with the fourth.

200 degrees, infusions 6 through 9. Texture is much thicker. Energetic mouthfeel. Still quite bitter and herbaceous with just a touch of sweetness underneath. Not much huigan.

185 degrees, infusions 10 through 16. The soup goes through the most evolution in this strand. The intensity of flavor has lightened. Tastes bitter but doesn’t feel bitter. The herbaceous note is still present and I also get some tobacco. The aftertaste is citrus zest. Abruptly (beginning with 13), the soup becomes purely sweet with a more noticeable huigan. Strong note of apricot until the end.

(what I have done to this sheng. oh well, still learning.)


2 OZ / 60 ML

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drank Nandi Hills Black by Justea
342 tasting notes

From the Regional Group Buy. I split the sample packet into two sessions.

Gongfu first in a 120ml ceramic gaiwan. Steeping times: 15 seconds, 12, 18, 25, 45; 1 minute, 3, 8. The dry leaf aroma morphs the more I smell it, changing from malt to pipe tobacco to beef jerky. After resting in the pre-heated bowl, the leaf aroma is smokier and more meat-like. The wet leaf aroma is evocative of deciduous tree wood.

The liquor has a full body. It is beautifully golden in the sharing pitcher. 15 seconds might have been too much time for the first infusion, which tastes malty and smokey with just a hint of honey beneath. Thereafter, all the way to the end of the session, I taste a lighter – not that much lighter – sweet potato note. The texture is thick and silky.

Second session was with an infuser mug. Steeping times: 3 minutes, 5, 8. The wet leaf aroma undergoes more change. At first it smells noticeably of tannins, then switches to honey, then to BBQ meat covered with honey BBQ sauce. (I did not have a dish like this recently.) Not surprisingly, this method produces a more intense liquor. It is darker, heartier, and more robust. Very tannic. Also a little astringent. The first cup tastes of smoke and red meat, and has a sweet aftertaste. These notes completely disappear after that, though. Compared to the first, the second and third cups are simple. Simply tannic. I had to finally add milk to the third cup since the temperature really warmed up by this point of the day.

You could go either way with Nandi Hills Black, depending on what you want out of it. If the season were winter, I’d go for the Western method. I did prefer brewing the leaf in the gaiwan. It was the first time I’d gongfu’d an African black tea. That session was more enjoyable all around. Reminded me of certain Dian Hong.

200 °F / 93 °C 5 g 0 OZ / 0 ML

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Acquired through the Regional Group Buy. This is only for my second or third purple-ish tea. Still very new to me. I evaluated this tea as best as I could, and I tried to be as concrete in identifying the flavors I was smelling and tasting. I decided to first brew half the sample in a gaiwan and then then other half in an infuser mug.

120ml. No rinse. Steeping times: 30 seconds, 10, 20, 40, 60, 90; 2 minutes, 3, 5, 8, 12.


I had difficulty discerning specific notes in the dry leaf aroma. I wrote: sweet, cloves, grain-like, Cheerios. I let the leaf rest in the pre-heated bowl and smelled an entirely different aroma: tart berries, particularly blackberries and gooseberries. The wet leaf aroma is combination of the previous, smelling of pies made with tart berries, and of Cheerios.

The gongfu method produces a liquor the color of rose quartz. The body is medium, and the texture creamy, and the aftertaste consistently sweet. The tasting portion starts off sour – literally. At the second and third, the tart berries stay in the front of my mouth while the Cheerios note rests in the back. The fourth and fifth infusions are more grainy than sweet/tart. From the sixth infusion to the end, the liquor tastes sweet with a note of chard, the grain having disappeared entirely.

I found steeping the leaf Western method more favorable. This leaf is meant to be steeped this way. Steeping times: 3 minutes, 5, 10.


Two days later, I had an easier time picking out what I was smelling in the aromas. Dry: rhubarb, gooseberries, gooseberry pie. Wet: same notes, but the sweet- and tartness are stronger. I can’t tell what the liquor color is because the inside of the mug is blue. This time, the body is fuller. The first cup, at first taste, has a bitter grass notes, underneath of which is plum. As I continue to drink, the tea becomes more flavorful. The bitterness disappears, the sweetness completely takes over, and the delightfully fruity aftertaste lasts for minutes. The second and third cups taste lighter and not as flavorful, but are just as sweet, with no bitterness at all.

Additionally, I couldn’t find anything off-putting about this tea. Preparing Purple Leaf Tea the gongfu method draws it out too much. Consequently, its personality doesn’t shine through. I highly recommend to steep the leaf in an infuser mug like me or a larger pot. The leaf gives out so much more.

175 °F / 79 °C 5 g

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Acquired through the Regional Group Buy.

The directions say 195 degrees, but since I don’t have that setting on my kettle, I went with 190 and then lowered it to 185 in the middle of the session. Prepared semi-Western, semi-gongfu method, with a glass tea pot. Steeping times: 2, 3, 4, 6.

I don’t know when the tea was processed, but the dry leaf aroma smells very fresh and interesting. It’s both savory and sweet, with notes of buttered boiled beans, peaches, and sea salt. I let the leaf sit in the pre-heated pot for a bit and smelled a more vegetal aroma, which reminded me of Lu Shan Yun Wu. The wet leaf aroma – still savory – is also sweet, this time in a high mountain oolong way.

Overall, the liquor is light green, clean, and full-bodied, having a bright and crisp personality. The texture is creamy. Infusions one through three taste like the wet leaf aroma – savory with the sweetness of a Taiwanese. Wenshan Baozhong specifically comes to mind. The last sips leave me with a dry mouth, but a long-lasting nectarine aftertaste. A minty note makes an appearance in the aftertaste after I finish the third infusion.

I then took a longer break that lasted a couple hours. The fourth infusion tasted completely different – sweet and grassy like a young sheng.

This kind of green tea doesn’t suit my tastes. I prefer the sweeter varieties over the savory. And after having tried a few Wenshan Baozhongs, I concluded that while I can stomach them and do like how they taste, I don’t particularly go out of my way to experience them over and over. Regardless of these thoughts, I do think that this green tea is good quality. But it has flavors that someone else would appreciate more.

3 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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drank Magnolia Oolong by Tea Ave
342 tasting notes

Purchased for summer cold-brewing purposes. Didn’t sample before.

I had only one Magnolia Oolong prior to Tea Ave’s – from Tea District – and loved it. I immediately declared this floral oolong to be my favorite cold-brewing tea. I looked forward to trying Tea Ave’s. The base is a higher quality Alishan oolong, which is light and sweetly floral, blending very nicely with the magnolia flowers. (I’m not one to pick out specific flowers in floral oolongs, and that’s as detailed as I’ll get.) Neither overpowers the other.

Overall, I wasn’t disappointed. I got exactly what I wanted: an incredibly delicious and refreshing Magnolia Oolong that detracts from the feeling of high humidity suffocating the self.


Magnolias are such beautiful trees with large flowers. Surprisingly, we have a few this far North.


They sure are. They’re a popular yard tree where I live. It’s a joy to see them every spring.

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drank Osmanthus Oolong by Tea Ave
342 tasting notes

Cold-brewed every bit of what I had – just what I had bought this for. It is summer…

I had only one Osmanthus Oolong before – three years ago, belonging to the Tao of Tea – and I didn’t take to it because of my newb-ish tendencies to overleaf in a Western teapot. It came off as overpowering and sour, turning me off from Osmanthus Oolong. (I’m in no way bashing the Tao of Tea’s blend since the manner in which I prepared theirs was due to improperly brewing it.)

I decided to give it another shot this late-spring and try 25g of Tea Ave’s – without sampling beforehand. At that time, I thought that I should have checked the base tea before purchasing it, and before the package arrived. Jin Xuan. I don’t like Jin Xuan. I can’t stand how buttery it tastes. It makes my stomach feel ill. I had this variety from three different companies and ended up not changing my mind.

That was infusing Jin Xuan in hot water. Of course, I was willing to give Tea Ave’s Osmanthus Oolong a shot. Live and let live. This time, I would only be cold-brewing it. At first, I first noticed what I dreaded: the heavy buttery quality. But it was more muted. I continued to drink my first glass without a problem.

The more I drank, the more the more I tasted Jin Xuan’s floral flavors, and the buttery flavor blended with the osmanthus flowers. The cold-brewed Jian Xuan produces a full-bodied, very flavorful, and thickly creamy liquor. I think I was able to withstand it even more because the osmanthus was just as strong. Not to say this Osmanthus Oolong is strong – though full with flavor, it feels refreshingly delicate.

Overall, this is tasty and very, very refreshing on ice. I enjoyed every sip. If a floral oolong has Jin Xuan as the base, I won’t hesitate to try now. Additionally: Osmanthus Oolong now rivals my love for Magnolia Oolong, which I consider to be my favorite, go-to cold-brewed summer tea.

I have tried another Osmanthus Oolong since. I concluded that Tea Ave’s is more high-end. Theirs is more expensive than others I’ve researched, but it shows in the quality of the Jin Xuan. However, it is still affordable. I look forward to buying more next year. If you want a more special floral oolong, you can go for this one.

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Brewed in a ceramic gaiwan. Ratio of 1g of leaf per 20ml of water. I followed Bitterleaf’s infusion instructions before switching to my own. Gave the leaf a 7 second rinse. As was promised, I got more than 10 infusions (14) even with a higher ratio: 10 sec, 10, 15, 22, 29, 36, 40, 60, 90; 2 min, 4, 7, 15.

This is my first experience with Moonlight White. While I’m unable to compare this other Moonlight Whites offered by other companies, I do know that I had a fantastic experience with this one.

First off, dat leaf: https://www.instagram.com/p/BIcp9kABWr5/

I was floored by how aromatic the dry leaf when I opened the pouch. Incredibly sweet with honey and a hint of blueberry! My kettle spent a good time reheating itself because I couldn’t tear my nose away. After resting in the pre-heated gaiwan bowl, the leaf smelled like – oh yes, it did – marshmallow fluff and toasted marshmallows. I thought for a second they may have added some marshmallow root the scent was that uncanny. When I rinsed the leaf, the aroma had more of a baked quality, resulting notes of blueberry crumble and gooseberry cobbler arising from the gaiwan. In spite of this richness, the aroma was very light. Later in the session, the wet leaf aroma became less complex and generally smelled of tart berries.

The first couple infusions produced a pale yellow soup with a light body, delicately tasting of hay and marshmallow root. Following the third infusion to the end, I was hit with a creamy, thick, and medium-bodied soup. It was so rich with a honey!!! Plus the marshmallow root note strengthened (though it didn’t even come close to the same intensity as the honey). I was so surprised how sweet this tasted and how creamy it felt. I let my piggy tea pet Georgie Pie down this session because I was so stingy xD (I did eventually pour some on him)

Also, the color had changed to bright orange and continued to deepen in shade. Beautiful in a white porcelain cup no matter the color.


I’m not much of a white tea drinker (can’t remember the last time I drank some). Moonlight White blew me away. Or keeping Bitterleaf’s elephant theme, swept me up and charged away!!!

6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

Welcome to the world of Moonlight Whites. I remember having a similar eye opening experience with them. I love them.


It most certainly was an eye opener. I love it when teas make me feel like this!

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Brewed with a Western method, in a ceramic tea pot.

I had to purchase this from reading the ingredients list. I like trying interesting herbal bends, and this blend seemed too irresistible not to purchase. I’ve been drinking down the two ounces since last October.

When I had my first cup, I didn’t know what to make of the taste. The combination of flavors created something very knew to me, and I was confused. I wasn’t sure if I liked it. I’m not good at picking out certain flavors for certain teas, and this one was one of those teas. But the more I drank from my initial ounce, the more it grew on me.

The infusion is purple-brown dark and opaque. It feels thick in the mouth. It tastes fruity and sweet from the elderberries, and like licorice. (I’m not licorice fan, but I also don’t dislike it. For any licorice-haters, you might want to take the chance anyway.) The chicory and marshmallow root contribute a bitterness to counteract the sweetness.

The interactions among each of the ingredients must have been what tripped up my taste buds the first few times I drank this blend. I now consider Elder Grove a permanent addition to my stash. It’s a wonderful winter evening drink. Comforting and warming. A must-try for herbal blends lovers.

200 °F / 93 °C 6 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 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.

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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