252 Tasting Notes

Bonnie sent me a sample of this tea some time back and I have only now found myself in the right mental place to taste it. So, I threw the pillow into a gaiwan today after work and set to. I’m glad I did. It’s light, floral and sweet with a vegetal base note. It reminds me of why I really should drink more oolong. I should probably write more about it, but the other two tasting notes tell you as much as I would. Read them for more on the tea, because I am going to focus on drinking it instead of writing about it! Thank you, Bonnie.

Flavors: Floral, Sweet, Vegetal

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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This was a free sample from Paul at white2tea and I am very grateful that he sent it to me. It has been lurking in the back of the cupboard, awaiting the time when I might be able to take a moment from my schedule to fully appreciate it. This morning is that time.

The dry leaf smells green and slightly composty with a note of warm horse. It promises much at first sniff. Looking at it, I see brown, green and silver leaf. It’s chopped but not excessively so. The cake is loose. That might be a result of taking the sample from the beeng.

When I pour the hot water onto it, the leaf immediately releases a thick floral aroma. It’s not cloying though. The liquor is a thick amber colour. The website describes the tea as ‘burly’. There is certainly nothing wishy washy about it so far. All of the elements of it are strong and bold. The taste is the same. There is strong astringency with sweet, floral and fruity notes, and strong spice in the aftertaste with perhaps a hint of pepper. There’s a lot going on there, and I am not sure that I am the best person to parse the range of flavours. I am aware of the range, but at a loss to differentiate all the elements. Perhaps I should lay that out as a challenge to others. I really like this tea. It has great body and good legs, both in the liquor and in the aftertaste.

Flavors: Astringent, Green, Pepper, Spices

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

Actually, why am I even bothering writing my own tasting notes when Hobbes has nailed it perfectly? http://half-dipper.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/2012-ruiyuan-laoshucha.html


Thanks for this I had not seen this post by Hobbes. I love this cake I ended up buying a few to store. When I tried it in my sample it was very surprising to me that such a good tea was plantation. I’m actually happy that the farmer is proud of his crop as it is as opposed to try to pass it for older trees. This one earned my respect in the sense that plantation does not mean weak. :)


I agree with most of this! Like JC I picked up a few of these before it sold out.


Unfortunately I missed out on this one and it is also the one where I learned the lesson — “if you think you want a tea that is not in widespread distribution, buy it for it might be gone when you do go back to purchase it!”


Totally agree, DigniTea. A beeng or brick is a sample. A tong is a basic purchase. Now if only I had enough money to put that into practice! :) But, yes, if you see a tea that you like, buy it immediately if you can because it might not be there later.


Because now its your note we are reading!

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Had a pot of Lapsang Souchong with my gaming buddy yesterday. Just trying to keep the boardgaming civilised, don’tcha know. Anyway, I really like this tea for its pine and smoke. I think I’ve said all I need to about my own thoughts on this tea previously in tasting notes. My friend was not familiar with LS at all, so it was an interesting experiment.

He commented on the smokiness, noting that he was really not keen on the aroma. However, once past his nose, the tea was really jolly good. He commented on the pine and sweetness of the tea, and noted that it was a bit like drinking liquid barbecue. We managed to drink three pots of it while playing, so I reckon it was a success.

Flavors: Campfire, Pine, Smoke

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I’ve nearly finished this brick, because I have been drinking it grandpa style a lot while driving deliveries for my wife’s shop. So, to make sure I tasted it properly before I ran out, I bunged a load of leaf in the gaiwan and have been brewing away properly over the past few days.

The dry leaf carries the aroma of a warm barnyard full of horses. It’s pleasing, and the tea responded well to the gaiwan, delivering a light floral liquor that was a mid yellow colour. It gave about 12 or 15 steeps in total, perhaps a little more, before it gave out. I should have made notes on that but I did not, and likely I shall not learn from this either!

My original tasting note from 2 years ago still holds. There is smokiness there and a mild astringency that is pleasing to the tongue. The aftertaste is minimal and there is little subtlety to the flavour. What there is, though, is an unchallenging, workmanlike tea that delivers a pleasant drink at a good price. I could drink this regularly without complaining, were I in need of an everyday sheng. It certainly works for when I am too tired to appreciate something better.

Flavors: Astringent, Barnyard, Floral, Smoke

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 11 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

Roughage, VP’s blog is listed here. It’s really a good start.


Cool, thanks. That’s my reading for the night sorted. :)


is the brick hard as a rock like the one I have that’s also from haiwan?


Yes, Kirk, it was rock solid and really hard to pick apart.


i used a hammer on my ft xianguan and it still tastes great


I should probably have done the same with this one.

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Free sample from Teavivre. This is the last of the free samples I received a couple of months ago, which brings me up to date with the freebies and means I can now focus on all the teas I have bought in the meantime! :)

The dry leaf is a mix of green, brown and silver leaves. It looks like a good proportion of those lovely furry silver tips that make such good white teas. The dry leaf aroma is green and tobacco. Yes, I know that green is not technically an aroma, but that’s what it smells like, so there. Once steeped the leaves appear quite chopped. I suspect this may be a function of the process of removing a sample from a beeng, because others have noted how the leaves appear whole. They also have a vegetal, spinach aroma.

The liquor is a mid yellow colour and carries a light smoke and delicate earthiness along with a smidge of the tobacco. These notes increase with subsequent steeps. The sweetness and creaminess of the liquor remain constant throughout. There is a slight astringency that emerges in the aftertaste. The aftertaste endures nicely with a hint of menthol cooling the tongue.

More noticeable than the flavours is the cha qi which immediately struck me in the knees. I could feel my legs relaxing the second I sipped the first cup. I can also feel a serious tea drunk coming on! This tea is good now and that leaves me hoping for good things in the future once it has aged.

N.B. Teavivre recommend a 100 degree (212 degree) steeping temperature. I steeped it at 90 degrees. I worry that using boiling water will kill some of the notes I found in it.

Flavors: Cream, Smoke, Spinach, Sweet, Tobacco, Vegetal

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

This sounds excellent.


I enjoyed it a lot. For a young tea it had a lot of promise.

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I bought a packet of this just before Christmas, and sadly I have just had the last steep from that packet. I get about three (four if I really push it) steeps per pot. This is another really nice tea from Teavivre. I feel like a bit of a fraud because I don’t think I have ever said anything bad about any of their teas. I realise that this is partly because of the self-selecting nature of my sample; I only order teas that I think I shall like, and I am now fairly experienced at that. However, I think it is also a testament to the quality of tea that Teavivre sells.

This tea is largely malt and cocoa to me with slightly sweet notes on the side. It reminds me of Assam tea and would certainly make a good replacement for your English Breakfast tea. Its only failing, and that is not the tea’s fault, is that I do not find it as good as the Golden Monkey that I got in the same order. This is a good tea, but I do prefer Golden Monkey.

Flavors: Cocoa, Malt

195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec 4 g 8 OZ / 250 ML

What is interesting about it is that my experience of the Bailin Gongfu this time around is rather different from my original notes. Different year, different tea? Possibly.

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This was yet another generous free sample from Teavivre.

I’ve spent the day drinking this and really enjoying it. Upon opening the packet I was hit by a waft of hay and spice. The dry leaf looked to be in large pieces if not whole leaves. Upon steeping the leaves turned green and it became clear that my initial impression was correct. The liquor was a light amber colour and gave off a floral aroma, like orchids. The taste was light and yet full, being peppery with fruity rum and raisin notes. I got little in the way of astringency, except when the cats distracted me by demanding attention and I steeped it for a tad too long. Even that was pleasant and left a peppery aftertaste on the tongue. It has lasted me all day, amounting to about twelve steeps, so the tea has pretty good legs. Overall, this is a good tea that I would be happy to drink more of. Good job I have a second sample pack, eh? I might try the next packet at a higher temperature and with a longer steeping time to see how that fares, given that Teavivre recommends 100 degrees C and a steep time of 5 to 10 minutes. Yes, 5 to 10 minutes! That seems like an awfully long time when I am in the habit of brewing shengs for 10-15 seconds at a time.

Flavors: Black Pepper, Hay, Orchid, Raisins, Rum, Spices

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 5 OZ / 150 ML
Red Fennekin

Mmm, this one sounds really good! One for the wishlist.


Wow, you actually make me want to retry pu-erh again.


i think i’ve tried this tea before. some teas i can steep for over 5 minutes like this one :) http://steepster.com/teas/yunnan-sourcing/48693-2006-nan-jian-phoenix-ripe-pu-erh-tea-mini-brick


others become extremely bitter :(


Indeed, some teas are more tolerant of excessive steeping. I tried this one with a five and ten minute steep. It turned out to be quite drinkable when I did this, with no bitterness. However, and it is a big HOWEVER, it really lacked the character of the gong fu brewing, and few of the notes I got from cooler brewing were present when I drank it.


some teas can be steeped long and not be bitter but gets bitter when cooled down


I found this tea had more character when brewed at 85-90 degrees C. When brewed at a higher temperature it seemed to have less going for it. I usually brew young shengs cooler anyway because they can be quite bitter at higher temperatures.

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I’ve been drinking the Meng Ba Na after a long break from it. These days I find myself less enamoured of shupu but this is a solid drink that I got at a decent price. It is round in flavour and full-bodied in texture. The dominant notes are wood and peach, giving it an earthy taste that is quite filling. I am quite pleased that I bought several bricks of it when I had the chance, because it seems to be developing nicely in storage, despite my lack of careful curation.

Flavors: Peach, Wet Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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I bought a large packet of this ages ago and it has lasted well. The jasmine scent is not as strong as it was when I bought the tea, but it still makes a great light drink for after my morning coffee on a Sunday. It’s light, delicately scented, slightly sweet and generally good. I still think this is the best jasmine tea I have had, and I love that I can brew it in a mug by just dropping pearls into it and drinking as I go along. I guess it’s a variant on grandpa-ing the tea.

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This was another free sample from Teavivre for which I must thank the lovely Angel.

I broke the first tuo in half to use it and it broke down into teeny tiny pieces. Based on this experience, I left the second one whole. One of the things I like about these tuos is that they come wrapped individually in paper wrappers. The designs on these wrappers (and indeed for most puerhs) have a strong aesthetic appeal for me.

As mentioned, the tuo broke down into teeny tiny pieces when I picked it apart. As it brewed, it became clear that it was largely chopped leaf and that there were quite a few sticks in there too. I did not expect any whole leaf really, because it is a mini tuo.

The dry leaf is honey-sweet and woody. As it brews, a smokiness in the aroma comes to the fore, and the leaf proves to be green. The liquor is yellow-ish green. I found it a tad milky instead of being completely clear, even after a couple of washings.

I liked the lightness and creaminess of this tea. It has floral and vegetal notes to it with a slight astringency that could be ameliorated by shorter steeps. This gives it a thick mouthfeel that is refreshing at the same time. There’s honey in the aftertaste with a wee nip at the end of it. The empty cup smells strongly of honey after drinking too.

For a tuo this is pretty good, although not top of my list of shengs, but then I have been spoilt by tasting some really good shengs in the past!

Flavors: Floral, Honey, Smoke, Vegetal, Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 130 ML

Excellent analysis.


Thank you.

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I am a qualified peripatetic berserkerologist peddling berserkjaknowledge wherever I can. I have always liked decent tea, but in 2011 I started working at learning what good tea really is. I continue to expand my horizons and discover new teas with the aid of my chums on Steepster, much to the chagrin of my wife, who despairs of my enthusiasm.

My favourite teas are Darjeelings, sheng puerhs and Anji Bai Cha. I return to these every time, after whatever flirtation with other teas I have been involved with.

I no longer rate the teas I drink because keeping ratings consistent proved to be rather hard work while not really giving me anything in return.


East Yorkshire, England



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