172 Tasting Notes


I am a big fan of oolongs that are partially roasted. They tend to strike this perfect balance between darker, toasty flavors and the fresh and floral notes of a green oolong. This sample came to me courtesy of Angel Chen and Teavivre (I am consistently blown away by their generosity).

The dry leaf of this brought the concepts of yin and yang to mind. Dark brown, roasted leaf and fresh jade green balancing each other out. The smell was mostly that of a roasted oolong, nutty and earthy, with an undertone of flowers and fruit.

I brewed the tea in a 4-ounce gaiwan with boiling water, one minute and thirty seconds initially, and one minute for two consequent steepings. The flavors that I picked up were mainly earthy and nutty, reminiscent of a blend between very light shu pu-erh and a Wuyi rock oolong. The lighter flavors then presented themselves on the finish, which I would describe as those of jasmine, mineral, a bit of grassiness, and a touch of dairy. All of the aforementioned flavors/aromas were very light nuances, and the dominating flavor profile was that of earthiness. Overall, an enjoyable and somewhat complex oolong.

Flavors: Earth, Floral, Grain, Grass, Nutty

Boiling 1 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 4 OZ / 118 ML

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This is another tea that I picked up at Whole Foods recently in the bulk section. I go to Whole Foods only occasionally and it’s usually for tea, I’m much too broke to buy my food there hehe. I knew that I wanted a Japanese green. That brisk, refreshing vegetal character has been calling me all week and I had none at home.

I was honestly pretty impressed by the appearance and aroma of the dry leaf. The leaves were in pretty large and regular pieces and posessed a nice dark emerald color. The smell was a bright mix of hay and fruit. Once brewed, the overall flavors matched what I had expected based on the smell: a bit of the usual vegetal flavor (fairly light), some “hay” flavor reminiscent of a Chinese white tea, and some pleasant and refreshing fruit notes. I can’t put my finger on what fruits I would say it evoked, but if I had to pick one I suppose it might be melon. Not bad stuff.

Flavors: Fruity, Hay, Vegetal

2 min, 15 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Hey there, Steepster! It’s been a while. I picked this one up on a whim after spotting it at my local Whole Foods. It is very cold and snowy here in Bend and a nice spicy cinnamon tea sounded like the perfect cup to warm me up a bit. I have had Harney’s loose leaf “Hot Cinnamon Spice” tea quite a few times before and always enjoyed it. I notice that this one is called “Hot Cinnamon Sunset” and find myself wondering if it is a different tea, or if it was just given a name that is a bit more appealing since it is for retail distribution.

Well, after sipping it a bit, it seems to be the same blend as Hot Cinnamon Sunset…and that’s a good thing. I don’t usually go for flavored teas, but this one is just so pleasant and simple. A mild, smooth black tea base with strong cinnamon flavor, light clove undertones, and a nice orange flavor to add brightness and round out the relatively intense spiciness. Very enjoyable.


They are the same tea according to Harney and Sons. Palm Court is the same as Titanic, and Bangkok also goes by two names but I don’t remember the other name right now.

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Very light both in color and in flavor, but not lacking. A subtle delight and excercise in sensory awareness.

Silky smooth with flavors of water chestnut, a light vegetal taste (I’m inclined to compare it to a nice mild cabbage flavor), with some notes of coconut and a natural sugar cane sweetness. This is a wonderful tea. It is delicate and requires your attention and focus in order to be fully appreciated. I feel very calm and centered after appreciating this beauty. Definitely recommended.

Flavors: Coconut, Nutty, Sugarcane, Vegetal

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Tried this one again today, but cold-brewed this time (in a large french-press overnight). I enjoy this particular tea a bit more this way. Its flavor profile is very well-suited for an iced tea. Interestingly, it seems to taste a bit more floral , and I’m getting a definite cauliflower note.

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I’ve been looking forward to trying this one all day. The last time I had Teavivre’s organic “superfine” dragon well was about two years ago, and I know that I enjoyed it a lot. The smell of the dry leaf is promising, vegetal and distinctly buttery. Let me tell you, I am a BIG fan of a green tea with a nice buttery aroma.

Brewed for 1 minute at 170 degrees. The liquor is a very pale green, as was expected. The lack of color is deceiving, and this tea is very flavorful. The texture/consistency is the first thing that grabs me. Just what I was hoping for: it is extremely silky with a buttery thickness. I can’t help but swish it around a bit to savor that wonderful texture. The flavors are those of green veggies and macadamia nut, with a strong sweetness in the finish (the natural, awesome kind). I am also picking up the slightest floral hint.

Delicious. I always love a good dragonwell. Many thanks to the good people of Teavivre for the sample.

Flavors: Butter, Nutty, Vegetal

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I received this as a sample courtesy of Angel and Teavivre. I was definitely excited to see this one, this is just about the last variety of Chinese green tea that I have yet to try and it’s been on my “to do list” for a while.

The dry leaf is very beautiful, and I was surprised to see just how intact these large, flat, elongated leaves stayed through shipping. There were very few broken pieces, I’m impressed. While it was brewing, it smelled very similar to a dragonwell, but with a stronger vegetable aroma. I was conservative on the temperature as I usually enjoy my green teas better that way (160 degrees) and I steeped it for two minutes.

I am sipping on the tea as I write this, and I enjoy it very much. It’s a beautiful sunny day, and a nice refreshing green tea is just what the doctor ordered. It is light and refreshing. The predominant flavors I pick up are absolutely those of green beans and peas as others have noted. I always expect a vegetal flavor in a green, but it is intriguing to me just how easily I can pinpoint the flavor of this one as those particular flavors! There is a very subtle element of silkiness/“buttery” flavor but it is just a light accent. There is a pleasant and refreshing brisk/astringent quality to it also. I just can’t get over how beautiful and interesting the appearance of the leaf is!

The overall character of this tea is invigorating and refreshing, and I am enjoying sitting in the sunshine and sipping it. Thanks a lot to Angel and all of Teavivre for the sample.

Flavors: Green Beans, Mineral, Peas

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Townshend’s is a tea house local to Portland and Bend. I go there about once a month to get enough loose tea to hold me over between orders, but otherwise try to avoid it. They are much more of a hipster hangout spot, and mostly deal in the blasphemy known as “tea lattes”. That being said, they have some acceptable loose-leaf to be had in a pinch.

It is finally spring after a very erratic and generally miserable central Oregon winter. It is time for green tea. Japanese greens are about as “fresh” and “spring” as you can get, and they are calling to me. This is a celebration, and so I will opt for the more expensive gyokuro over the basic sencha.

I walk up to the counter and ask for an ounce of gyokuro. The guy at the counter suggests I go instead with the sencha because “it is the same thing and much cheaper”. I struggle to contain my annoyance and insist that I want the gyokuro. $14 for an ounce (not a terribly expensive gyokuro, but almost this particular one is almost certainly not worth that much). I take a look at the leaf through the clear plastic bag, already a bit disappointed. It seems that this was the very last of what was in the tin. It is about 50% powder, with the rest composed of broken leaves and stems. It’s probably been sitting in the giant storage container for way too long to be fresh, too. Oh well, can’t expect perfection from a place such as this.

Once home, I immediately begin brewing it. I pre-warm my six ounce cast-iron pot. I opt to use one tablespoon of leaf, careful to use the most whole leaf pieces. I heat the water to 160 degrees, steep for 40 seconds, and pour my first cup. The liquour is a very faint green, verging on clear. I sit on my porch and soak in the sunshine, and shift my full awareness to the aromas, textures, and flavors to come as I lift the cup towards my mouth. The smell is what you might expect: veggies. The texture has a bit of “umame” thickness to it, but I have to concentrate to pick it up. I think silky is a better word to describe this particular cup. An overall light an airy profile, but with a touch of buttery thickness. The flavor is nothing to write home about. It is unmistakebly a Japanese green. Extremely vegetal and fresh, with a nice mineral quality. It is much more bitter than expected, especially considering the delicate manner in which it is brewed. The sweetness I had hoped for is not there, not even a little bit. Overall it just tastes like a mid-level basic sencha. It is brisk, refreshing, and suits the spring season well…but this is not what I want/expect from a gyokuro. I would take a $7, 4-ounce tin of Harney & Sons sencha over this any day.

I do two more steepings, each a bit longer than the previous. Not much changes. Same flavor profile to a smaller degree. By the third steeping, the leaves have no more to give. I think this tea will be much better suited as a cold-brew iced tea.

Flavors: Bitter, Mineral, Vegetal

3 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

Glad to see you back and posting! I am starting to get active again, now that its the summer.

Sorry to hear about your experience; gyokuro can be pretty amazing, and I’ve my share of the not-so-good stuff as well, and at their standard prices that is a definite bummer.

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I have really grown to love Keemun black teas. This one did not disappoint. It’s got all of the characteristics one might expect from a keemun, but this one seems a bit more refined than the usual fare. It’s definitely on the light side for a keemun, but at the same time the flavors and aromas are noticeable. The smokiness is there as expected, but the dominant aroma in this cup is unmistakeably floral. Those are the aromas at the forefront, with subtle malt, hay, and cocoa notes floating in the background. The finish is slightly bitter and dry, in a very enjoyable way, with very slight cherry/strawberry notes at the tail end. Despite all the flavors that sometimes indicate a heavy drink, this one leaves me feeling refreshed.

Very good. Many thanks to the wonderful people at Teavivre.

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This is a great clouds and mist green. Refreshing is definitely the biggest word that comes to mind. It’s got a solid sweetness too it, balanced by a fairly assertive but well-balanced vegetal intensity reminiscent of a Japanese green. It is a very “brisk” tea as well, there is a pleasant bitterness on the finish that leaves your mouth feeling very clean and refreshed. This would be a great everyday green, I imagine it would be great cold-brewed. Very fair price for a solid casual green tea.

Thank you to the ever-generous Angel for the sample.

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My name is Kyle. I love good tea, a good book, the great outdoors, and I am passionate about music. I also find enjoyment in writing and mountain biking here in beautiful Central Oregon.

Tea is a hugely misunderstood and under-appreciated gift in the western world, and my hope is to spread the gift of quality tea. It is communion between the passion of man and the raw beauty of nature. It is art, and it is therapy. I hope you enjoy my writings.


Bend, Oregon

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