311 Tasting Notes

Thanks to Stephanie for sending me a mini tuocha in her swap!

Had a gongfu session with my ceramic gaiwan. I pried the tuocha apart. About half went in the bowl. Gave it a ten-second rinse. Let it sit for ten minutes. Steeping times: 10 seconds, 10, 15, 20, 30, 60; 6 minutes.

After sitting in the heated bowl, the dry leaf smells of earth, then leather, then chocolate. The rinse aroma is delicious: chocolate-covered coffee beans! I mostly smell leather thereafter.

The soup is dark, clear and full-bodied. Flavor fills the mouth. The texture is creamy most of the time (smooth in the middle of the session). It begins with sweet earth and a hint of chocolate. From the second infusion to the last, I taste black coffee and a bit of old leather. The bitterness from the coffee is not off-putting – it reminds me of higher quality coffee. In the back of the throat, during the aftertaste, there are notes of dark fruit (raisins, acai berry) and dark chocolate.

I thought this was alright. I enjoyed the creamy texture and the intense flavor, but I learned I’m not keen on black coffee in my shou. Glad I got an opportunity to sample this!


4 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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I am dedicating my 300th note to this lovely young sheng.

I had two gongfu sessions with a ceramic gaiwan, but this review is based on the third session with my Jian Shui pot. Did a 10 second rinse. Steeping times: 5 seconds, 5, 8, 10, 12, 15, 18, 25, 35, 50, 70, 90, 90, 120, 150, 180; 5 minutes, 7, 10.

The dry leaf has a powerful aroma – very buttery and sweetly vegetal. The wet leaf aroma evolves the more I steep the leaf, beginning with the same buttery note, slowly becoming sweeter and sweeter, ending with pure apricot.

The soup is light yellow, incredibly clear right off the bat, and medium-bodied. I confess that I didn’t eat much the day of this session, but this would prove that Midas Touch was not harsh on the stomach. It’s easy-going. (ymmv, actually)

The first infusion is light with a slightly bitter grassy note and a silky texture. Between the second and tenth infusions – the bitterness now completely gone (so fast, wow!) -, the grassy, vegetal notes gradually wane as peaches and apricots ever so slightly become stronger, first making their appearances in the aftertaste. At this point, I lowered the water temperature to 190. Huge difference. Pure fruit begins with the eleventh infusion. While no longer silky, the texture is wonderfully smooth.

Of the several 2015 shengs I’ve tried from CLT, this is the most flavorful. It is packed with energetic mouthfeel. I drank nine infusions in only THIRTY MINUTES. I simply kept going without even realizing and had to force myself to take a long break. I drank all 19 infusions between 1 and 5 o’clock. You would think I’d be well over-caffeinated, but as I wrote before, Midas Touch is easy-going for a young sheng so intense in flavor.

I would highly recommend it, but it’s all sold out. This is what I get for only purchasing a sample and then waiting several months before having a fantastic session………



Boiling 6 g 3 OZ / 88 ML
Crimson Lotus Tea

Here’s to another 300 reviews; Cheers!


Thank you! :D

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I took this off of *TheLastDodo*’s hands.She was kind to sent the entire packet.

The dry leaf has an appealingly sweet, orange aroma. The infusion has a soft texture and is full with flavor. I can mostly taste the orange and the rooibos, which are strong. The aftertaste starts of with orange juice, but seconds later reveals light notes of hibiscus, rosehips, and then vanilla.

I was pleased to find an orange-flavored tea, since there aren’t many. For those wary of hibiscus, I don’t think you’d have to worry about it overpowering this herbal blend. I enjoyed this one.

Boiling 7 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Peppermint by Zen Tea Life
311 tasting notes

Flyawabirdie included in her Christmas gift a whopping 50g rather than a sample. Wow! Thanks so much for introducing this to me.

By smelling the dry leaf beforehand I knew this would be a good one. This is one of the freshest – if not the freshest – peppermint teas I’ve ever had. It’s so strong, it’s as if I had been chewing a Dentyne Ice gum (which is my go-to gum for mint power). I even feel the cooling effect in the throat. I’m keeping this is mind for a re-stock when I run out.

205 °F / 96 °C 6 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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TheLastDodo included some of this in her swap. Thank you!

Brewing method: gongfu session with a ruyao easy gaiwan and cup set. Steeping times: 20, 15, 15, 20, 30, 45, 60, 3 min, 6 min.

I have only drunk yabao once, almost three years ago, when I was a very new to Chinese tea drinking. I wasn’t impressed. There was a spicy note I didn’t take to. I chose this yabao as the first to try from Dodo’s selection because of my faith in Whispering Pines.

This yabao reminds of evergreen trees. It has notes of needles and sap, and lengthy aftertaste of juniper berries, followed by cherries. I would say it is excellent to drink all year round, as evergreens keep their needles. It evokes the green seasons and provides a sense of green in the middle of winter. I am enamored with the beauty of pines, spruces, cedars, firs, yews, and so on. When I am bird-watching and come across a cluster of evergreens in a deciduous woods, something pulls me away from the birds and I must stop. (Well, also, there is always a chance of a Red-breasted Nuthatch or an owl in them during wintertime.) It is a different kind of atmosphere. The wind sounds different blowing between needles.

0 OZ / 0 ML

Lovely description!


Thank you!

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From the Herbal TTB.

The base tea is quite malty and bitter for my taste. With a splash of milk, this becomes creamy vanilla goodness. Worth the popularity.

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 8 OZ / 236 ML

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From the Herbal TTB.

I would steep two tea bags in an 8/10 ounce mug. With one bag, I can taste the flavors – vanilla, cinnamon – and the rooibos, but they are weak. This blend doesn’t pop out with uniqueness, but I think it’s alright.

Boiling 8 min or more 8 OZ / 236 ML

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From the Herbal TTB. Amount taken is actually 1.5 tsp. There is some left for another 8oz cup if anyone was wants to try.

18 herbs?!? Wowee. Here they are from the website: Barley tea, job’s tears, sicklepod seeds, cat’s whiskers (herb), dokudami (herb), oolong tea, tumeric, guava leaves, biwa (loquat) leaves, mikan (Japanese mandarin) peels, brown rice, pine leaves, ohbako, benibana, persimmon leaves, amachazuru, sarunokoshikake (fungi), cinnamon.

Oolong. OK. This is not a purely herbal blend then. Considering the number of ingredients and that I’m taking them from a sample packet, there wouldn’t be much of each, including the oolong. Still. This is under the herbal section.

That aside, I have never tasted practically every single one of these ingredients. This blend is difficult to evaluate. I thought I smelled and tasted a solid note of juniper berries. No barley – it wasn’t something I grabbed a lot of. That may have been the sicklepod seeds.

Pleasant cup, but I’m not hooked. You might get something else out of this, so go for it. It is something I’ve never seen before.

Boiling 6 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Christina / BooksandTea

Frankly, that blend sounds kind of overwhelming.


Yeah. What one tastes is what one picks out for one cup, I guess.

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Brewed on the stove top. Added 2% milk to the second boiling round. No sugar.

As the leaf simmered, the house was filled with a deliciously fruit-filled rooibos aroma. Considering that almost half of the ingredients are fruits – apple, hibiscus, rosehip, pineapple – it’s not surprising. My mother thought I was burning a scented candle, ha ha.

The spice mix consists of ginger, cinnamon, and chili. That last one. Holy frickin’ cow! It’s incredibly strong. This is one of the most peppery spiced teas I’ve ever had, alongside Old 52Tea’s Spiced Chai. Even my throat felt spicy.

On the plus side, good on this blend for nice aroma and spice strength. However, the chili overpowers everything else. Coconut? Shrug. Not in even in the aroma. Too many fruits. Additionally, there are “natural flavors.” Is there a point? The are enough powerful ingredients as it is.

Give or take. You may want to try it or not.

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From the Herbal TTB.

This rooibos blend has a strong aroma and tastes of cinnamon, nuts, and slight vanilla. I can detect the added artificiality, but it doesn’t interfere that much.

Nice to drink once, but I wouldn’t have it again. It was OK.

Boiling 7 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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