268 Tasting Notes

Received as a free sample from my last order. Brewed grandpa style.

I like that the packet says extract. I know exactly what’s in here. I’m used to seeing “natural flavors” at best. This has a pleasing dry leaf aroma. A strong strawberry scent emerges from the packet. Perfect for spring. The strawberry complements the floral base tea, which is a lower quality light-to-medium oxidized oolong, resembling (as it seems to me) Tie Guan Yin. The balance is so balanced that the liquor tastes as if the strawberry were a natural note that the leaf gave away. It reminded me a Taiwanese high mountain oolong.

I enjoyed this, but I wasn’t struck. The base tea didn’t impress me, but it makes sense to use it for a flavored tea – it’s ok quality at best. Maybe since it’s late summer, I’m ready to depart from this kind of oolong. Maybe next spring… I recommend this for those who love flavored tea, or for those who don’t but might be interested in the more natural side of this genre.

205 °F / 96 °C 7 g 12 OZ / 354 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.

Gongfu session with a ceramic gaiwan. 5 second rinse. Steeping times: 30, 30, 45, 45, 60, 90, 120, 180, 240.

The leaf post-rinse has a light and sweet floral fragrance. Early spring-like, leaves still “flowers” on trees. The liquor is light yellow and has a light body. Fuzzies float around. The texture starts off as creamy, then becomes soft and thick. The flavor profile does not change throughout the session. Instant yum! with the first sip. Very sweet, delicately floral, fruity (mostly peaches and apricots) aftertaste.

How it differs from the first time: definitely not vegetal and seaweed-y (clearly wanted to have more Japanese greens in my life back then). Not as floral, certainly no roasted vegetables or tartness or berries. I’m able to discern more sweetness and appreciate its gentle qualities. I changed my mind from mid-summer to early spring. It’s because this Dong Ding is not roasted. These leaves were plucked from a kind of bush mostly used for pouchong. A lovely non-roasted Dong Ding, not quite every day, but not incredibly special.

200 °F / 93 °C 7 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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Had a gongfu session with a ceramic gaiwan. Since Teavivre recommended only 4g, I split the 7-gram sample packet and had two sessions with two different sets of steeping parameters. The first from is Teavivre’s website: 10, 20, 30, 50, (accidentally skipped 70), 90, 120. The second is my own: 30, 60, 90, 180, 300.

I smelled the dry leaf aroma two ways. First, I stuck my nose into the packet, then I heated the gaiwan bowl with boiling water, poured that out, and let the leaf sit in the bowl for thirty seconds. What a wonderful aroma! It’s one of those you can’t stop smelling. A combination of cocoa powder, gingerbread, and cinnamon. I knew this leaf would smell great if it were amplified by a heated bowl. Great start to the first session. The wet leaf aroma smells differently – sweet potatoes, then, after the leaf aired for a bit, freshly baked muffins.

Against a white porcelain cup, the liquor has a beautiful and clear burnt orange color. The texture is consistently smooth and little thick. Full body. The flavor profile doesn’t evolve, but it’s filled with individual notes that I taste all at once yet can pick out separately. This goes for both sessions. There is the cocoa and the sweet potato, but also subtler notes of wet wood and clover. Sweet and bitter simultaneously, with a coffee aftertaste. This has a soothing and warming effect on me.

This is forgiving and easy to drink, therefore good for the Western brewing method and beginners to Chinese black tea.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 OZ / 88 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.

Had a gongfu session with a ceramic gaiwan. 3 second rinse. Steeping times: 25, 55, 75, 90, 100, 120, 160, 240.

I couldn’t smell anything the dry leaf. The wet leaf aroma – after the rinse – is sweetly floral, and then becomes buttered popcorn. Thereafter, it is purely floral.

The liquor looks very pretty in a white porcelain cup: clear, bright, like sunshine. Medium-bodied. The texture is thick for the first couple infusions, and then gradually thins out.

Throughout the session, the flavor profile is pretty nearly consistent. The first and second infusions begin with a floral note and finish with a sweetness. An apricot/strawberry aftertaste lingers. Reminded me of a Taiwanese high mountain oolong. Thereafter, floral-plant and sour notes are dominant. The plants – green leaves, chloryphyll – aren’t strong or delicate, a medium intensity. Very Tie Guan Yin-like.

The sourness, I learned from Teavivre’s website, occurs naturally and is actually a part of the process these leaves underwent. A part of the interview with the farmer, Chen Biyi, from the website: “It is because a longer time of spontaneous fermentation before fixation. The sour flavor comes out naturally after the long time of tossing and oxidation, often in three days.”

In infusions five, six, and seven, the sourness becomes a part of the background, staying more under the tongue and allowing me to enjoy the plant and floral notes.

How it differs from last time: It’s much less fruitier, and when I did taste fruit with this session, it was only a for a little and I did not pick out the same fruits (peach, banana, clementine – where??). Presently, it was so much more plant-floral-like. I wonder why the sourness appears now but didn’t back then.

I liked drinking this. Good quality. But I was very new to oolong in general back when I had my first session. A dominating floral quality doesn’t strike me as “Wow yes love!!” – it’s alright. I now know that I am very much more into Taiwanese oolong.

Boiling 7 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

Awesome review. Im flirting with Taiwanese oolongs now but do love good dark roasted TGY. They are all so different.


Thanks! I’ve never had any roasted or aged oolongs in general, though they’re on my “must try EVERYTHING” list.


I may supply you with some. After Labor Day , I’m away for the summer.


Oh dear I was kinda afraid you would say that ^^; You don’t have to feel the need. I’ll get to aged oolongs when I’ll get to them. I’m finally taking on this phase slowly. And right now I’m in serious business mood to just sipdown old/OK teas to clear out my stash.

Also I have nothing worthwhile to send in return Dx


I have this 5yrs DHP fr YS which is pretty interesting. And i expect dark roasted TGY in a mail fr YS too.
not a swap. Dont worry i will not flood you with the tea ;) anyway let me know if you are interested.

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Sample was provided for this review. Thank you so much, 3 Leaf Tea!

Prepared Western method, in a disposable filter and mug.

The leaf aroma has notes charcoal and honey BBQ sauce. The liquor, a light gold in color, is medium-bodied and clear. Texture is absent. At first, I mostly taste burning wood and light gray smoke. After a few sips, I become accustomed to the smokiness and I am able to discern a sweet and spicy note, very much like a BBQ sauce. This sweetness dominates for the rest of the cup, with the wood and smoke in the background.

This is a lighter and sweeter Lapsang Souchong. It doesn’t feel heavy and there is not as much smoke as I’m used to. I especially like the simultaneous sweet and spicy flavor.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Golden Monkey by 3 Leaf Tea
268 tasting notes

Sample was provided for this review. Thank you, 3 Leaf Tea!

Brewed in a glass test tube steeper. Steeping times: 2 minutes, 4, 6.

The dry leaf aroma smells of malt and gingersnap cookies, while the wet leaf aroma is almost purely cocoa, with a touch of cinnamon. The liquor color is a lovely dark amber. Fuzzies from the leaf float around, and it’s not until the third steeping the infusion is clear. Smooth-textured with a medium body, the liquor has notes of malt, clove, and nutmeg initially. In the second in infusion there is not as much malt, replaced by sweet potatoes. And the spices from before stand out.

Overall, I liked it, but I’m neutral (there is nothing that I dislike about this per se). The dry leaf has a very nice presentation, and the aromas were yummy, but the taste doesn’t really suit me.

Boiling 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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drank Chai by 3 Leaf Tea
268 tasting notes

Sample was provided for this review.

I loosely followed the directions on the packet. Brewed the packet’s entire contents on the stove top in 8oz of water, brought to a boil, simmered on low for ten minutes, added four ounces of milk and a tablespoon of sugar, and finally brought to a boil again. In the end, an eight-ounce cup was produced, the total amount as the directions recommended.

I’m pleased with the spices included – they are typical, but there are also a good number mixed in. I smelled the clove and the cinnamon as the leaf brewed. As far as taste goes, I’m loving it. I usually don’t add so much milk (even though that’s what one is supposed to do with traditional masala chai) because I’m afraid that the spices would be heavily muted – for blends I purchase from vendor, that is. I have had experiences in which pre-made blends even brewed with only ONE ounce of milk are very weak. So disappointing. But the spices in this blend, especially the black peppercorns, taste fresh and come through strongly. They linger minutes after I swallow and touch the back of my throat.

I’m finding it difficult not to down all of my cup at once. This an excellent blend. Many thanks to 3 Leaf Tea for the free sample!

2 tsp 0 OZ / 0 ML

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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 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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