326 Tasting Notes

drank Hashiri Shincha by Den's Tea
326 tasting notes

It is my pleasure to have the 2016 harvest as my first Hashiri Shincha from Den’s. I had been looking forward to it for months.


Brewed in a ceramic kyusu. Steeping times: 90 seconds, 60, 90, 120. Temperature remained the same.

The most noticeable characteristic is the sweetness. Unexpectedly, the dry leaf smells fruity, of lychee and loganberry. When steeped, the leaf smells more vegetal and ever so slightly buttery. The pale but bright green broth is very thick and medium-bodied. The first cup has a balance of sweet and savory. It is so deliciously sweet! With each following infusion, the savory note strengthens and the sweetness lessens.

There is no bitterness, nor a seaweed note. Straight up sweet and/or savory. It is refreshing and invigorating – a spring delight.


160 °F / 71 °C 5 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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I requested that this tea be swapped for another that I already owned when I was first offered the sample flight, all for which I’m grateful. Thank you, Angel!

Taken grandpa-style in a glass.


This tea fits the tone of mid/late-spring. I like the appearance of the dry leaf: short, dark green curls. The aroma of the dry leaf is buttery and savory, like a deeply steamed sencha. Of the wet leaf and the liquor, there are sweet notes of sugar snap peas and beans. The liquor is clear, pale green with a creamy texture. Flavorful, tastes briskly fresh, has sweetly vegetal notes, notably beany. Heavy feeling for a green tea.

This is the first time I’ve had a Lu Shan Yun Wu and it’s a good first experience. The heavy/buttery quality in green teas isn’t to my liking, but it’s not exactly repulsive. This is of good quality, one to enjoy every day.

175 °F / 79 °C 2 tsp 11 OZ / 325 ML

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Thank you, Angel, for the sample!

Brewed in a ceramic gaiwan, prepared in a gongfu session. No rinse. Steeping times: 15 seconds, 8, 10, 15, 20, 40, 60, 120, 300.

The dry leaf smells mostly of honey with a little bit of malt. After resting in the heated gaiwan bowl, the leaf smells pleasantly of light smoke and caramel. The wet leaf aroma is very different: chocolate and honey are dominant notes, and there is a hint of malt.

The liquor color is a beautiful burned orange. Just lovely in a white fine porcelain cup. Very clear and very clean.


As expected, this Lapsang Souchong has a full body and flavors which fill the mouth. Unexpectedly, it barely has any smoke – it’s very sweet. The session begins with the first infusion being chocolately, slightly malty, and smooth. There is a dominant smoke in the second infusion, but it disappears completely afterward. Third infusion and onward, the liquor is smoother and sweeter, having notes of chocolate and molasses and honey. The aftertaste lingers for minutes. There is absolutely no malt – a first for me with a chocolate-like hongcha.


Positively delightful. I enjoyed every drop and every aspect of this tea. Very glad to have this on a beautiful day off from work!

200 °F / 93 °C 4 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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This is a free sample. Thanks to Angel at Teavivre!

Just to get it out of the way: I tried finding info one what “embryo” , means to but had no luck.

Frankly, based on the name, I’m surprised I like this more than I thought I would. I can’t say anything more about the taste other than it tastes like buckwheat, but it has a clean and full, roasted wheat-y flavor. It makes a good evening ‘herbal’ cup, and it sits well in the stomach after a big meal. The kernels, after steeping in the tea pot, smell so good.

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

A baby plant inside a seed is called an embryo, maybe it has something to do with that?

Gooseberry Spoon

What ashmara said. I’m thinking its equivalent to the term “non-degerminated” used on English labels for grains and flours. This means that the germ (embryo) hasn’t been removed meaning 1) the flour has all of the nutrition from the germ and 2) the flour is not as shelf stable because it contains the healthy unsaturated germ oils that have a tendency to go rancid over time.


Thanks, guys! I’m completely unfamiliar with this side of biology and didn’t know how to go about researching.

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Generously given as a free sample. Many thanks to Angel!

Brewed in ceramic gaiwan, had a gongfu session. No rinse. Steeping times: 15, 10, 15, 20, 30, 45, 60; 2 min, 5.

Nearly all of the leaf is dark, dark brown, save for a few golden leaves. They’re short and curly, like black bi luo chun, but thin and without hairs. The dry leaf smells of sweet potato and a hint of chocolate. After the leaf spent a little time in the heated gaiwan bowl, the chocolate note strengthened, and a graham crackers note also appeared. The wet leaf aroma is malty at first; as the session went on, it smelled more like sweet potato.

The liquor has a dark orange color. It is clear and clean-tasting, with a full body but light mouthfeel. The first infusion tastes of sweet potato and malt with clove in the background. Second infusion and onward, the liquor sweetens more and more, consistently tasting of sweet potato. Its texture feels thick and smooth, almost creamy.


Being hongcha, this is a delight to drink on colder, overcast days. Unfortunately, this is only my second keemun – and my first keemun from Teavivre – so I can’t evaluate it fully. I wasn’t wowed by the aroma or the taste, though I did enjoy the full session. I also liked its hug-in-a-cup effect. It reminds me of dian hong. I imagine this would also taste good Western style.

185 °F / 85 °C 4 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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drank Sencha Zuiko by Den's Tea
326 tasting notes

A sample of this came from my order. Thank you, Den’s Tea!

Brewed in a tokoname kyusu. This review is based on my tweaked brewing parameters. I tried the recommended parameters, but the increase from 160 to 185 for the second infusion was too much and produced an infusion not to my taste, so I kept the temperature a constant 160. Steeping times: 90, 60, 90, 105, 120.

I haven’t properly evaluated Japanese greens for at least two years. With this sencha, I was brought back to the fact that I have a hard time picking out varying distinctive notes the aroma and liquor. Actually, I’m even pretty bad at evaluating Chinese greens too. It’s a bit frustrating since I love green tea…

The dry leaf smells like, well, sencha. In a more evocative sense: mid-summer leaf sap scent carried by a warm wind. The leaf in the heated kyusu and the wet leaf aroma has a buttery note of zucchini.

The liquor is thick, full, and rounded with strong flavor. The first infusion has a vegetal bitterness, but in the second infusion and onward, this bitterness disappears and the liquor tastes sweeter, retaining the vegetal note. Gradually, the body lightens in flavor and thins in texture. Feels uplifting both in mood and energy.

I had this session outside. Fantastic day!


This might be last year’s harvest (2015), but it still tastes fresh. However, this may be the void in my experience with Japanese greens. I’m happy to be on track with my first love.

165 °F / 73 °C 4 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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Steeped Western style.

I didn’t realize the base tea is oolong until after it arrived. I was skeptical, since I would never imagined oolong and spices being infused together.

This is one well-done ‘chai’ blend. It has common ingredients – ginger, cardamom, cinnamon – and not-so-common: allspice, tellicherry back peppercorn (these peppercorns are mighty interesting to behold). For me, the ginger and peppercorns stand out the most. A biting, peppery taste. The ginger tastes so fresh that it seems like it was just cut. The oolong, from Indonesia, is complex and reminds of me a rolled bug-bitten oolong. It offers a thick, smooth textures, and, most importantly, a blend of fruits. Nicely sweet. Strawberries, peaches, apricots…apples. I suppose apples comes to mind because of the power of suggestion from the website’s description! But it really does taste apple-y. It’s a bit like mulled cider, but not as fruit-filled.

This blend is very autumn. Every ingredient works so well together. I was confused when I drank the last it in the office today (4/6/16). It’s early April, not mid-October! I love autumn…

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drank Bossa Nova by Zen Tea Life
326 tasting notes

I’ve forgotten how to rate evaluate flavored teas I’ve been drinking so much unflavored these days! As far as I can discern, this is a solid chocolate tea, very flavorful. The base tea – some sort of roasted rolled oolong probably – is a good match and adds body. Of course this tastes somewhat artificial, but I enjoyed every cup of my sample. The recommendation isn’t a mis-click. I would have enjoyed this immensely when I first started drinking tea.

The sample was a Christmas gift from Flyawaybirdie. Thank you!!

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drank Kenyan Chai by 52teas
326 tasting notes

From the old 52Teas. I prepared this in a saucepan, with 2% milk (roughly two parts water, one part milk).

The masala chai blend is the first I’ve encountered with ras el hanout, a North African spice mix. What is in this particular blend, I don’t know because the packet doesn’t specify. Generally, as Wikipedia says: “Commonly used ingredients include cardamom, cumin, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice, dry ginger, chili peppers, coriander seed, peppercorn, sweet and hot paprika, fenugreek, and dry turmeric. Some spices may be particular to the region, such as ash berries, chufa, grains of paradise, orris root, monk’s pepper, cubebs, dried rosebud, fennel seed or aniseed, galangal, long pepper.”

I can’t pinpoint any specific spices, and even though the mix has a subtle bite, it does have a flavorful presence. There is a prolonged aftertaste. The base tea is a CTC black tea, which contributes a brisk and very malty taste. Overall, this recipe produces a strong, cockles-warming cup.

I just finished the last of this blend. It no longer exists for me. I would recommend it, but since it’s from the old 52Teas, it’s discontinued. My father was also favorable towards it.

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Part 4 of my Teavivre Dian Hong series.

Prepared in a gongfu session with a ceramic gaiwan. Brewed with 200 degree temp. water since my kettle doesn’t have 195 setting. Rinsed the leaf for 5 seconds (was supposed to be the first infusion but it didn’t taste like anything). Steeping times: 5, 5, 5, 5, 10, 10, 15, 18, 30, 45, 60; 2 min, 2, 4, 12.

The dry leaf – nearly inch-long, needle-like, wiry – is dark, save for a few golden tips. It has an aroma of dark chocolate with a hint of malt. Surprisingly, the aroma is weaker after I let the dry leaf sit the heated gaiwan bowl, still having chocolate but also bread. In the beginning of the session, the wet leaf smells like tomato soup and oregano. After a time and some more infusions the leaf smells like raisins.

The liquor is a clear, bright orange. The texture is thick off the bat, becoming creamy in the middle of the session. While it has a full-body, it tastes light. The first couple infusions are malty, and tangy and sweet. Thereafter, I taste a consistent note of sweet potato – without the skin, it is worth noting since I couldn’t taste the bitterness that comes with sweet potato skin. Marshmallow might have also popped up, but that was probably just my brain thinking about the Thanksgiving dish.

I experimented by drinking the infusions from two different cups: ruyao and porcelain. I drank the previous Teavivre Dian Hongs with just the ruyao cup, fyi. This Dian Hong tasted sharper from the porcelain cup, whereas it came out muted from the ruyao cup. Also, creamy texture stood out more from the porcelain.

This is my second favorite Dian Hong I’ve tried from Teavivre. It does very well gongfu style, with quicker steeping times. The creamy texture, coupled with the sweet potato note, was very enjoyable. I also felt energetic, a little restlessly so.

7 g 4 OZ / 118 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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