1297 Tasting Notes

drank Monkey-Picked Oolong by Teavana
1297 tasting notes

This might be a case of slightly dashed expectations, but I am not very impressed with Teavana’s Monkey Picked Oolong. I was probably expecting manna from heaven at this price ($25 for 2 ounces), but I find this to be a somewhat middling representative of the oolong class. This is supposed to be the best of the best, but it comes nowhere near the Wenshan Baozhong from Harney & Sons—or even the Milk Oolong from grocery store brand Republic of Tea!

This tea is certainly drinkable and even enjoyable, but it lacks the luscious creaminess of those two oolongs. It seems that I prefer my oolongs on the creamy side, and Monkey Picked Oolong is certainly not that. It seems to be more highly oxidized but also less flavorful to me. Probably a question of taste. Or is it perhaps the age of this particular batch? How often is the frequently opened and fanned vat of Monkey Picked Oolong replaced? I wonder.

second infusion: already waning and seems more like a resteep of a China green than an oolong. Will not resteep.

180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 45 sec

Honestly I don’t expect much from any Teavana tea.


Me either, I just stopped buying them after I got a bunch of crappy ones.


Marzipan and TeaBrat: I was very disappointed with the post-holiday gift set of foodish nonsense. However, I was impressed with some of the pure tea offerings, including the Gyokuro and the dragon pearls—both jasmine and black. So I have not written them off for good, but this oolong was disappointing. I suspect that it might be older stock…


True, it’s hard to mess up gyokuro ;)

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Today was my second experience of Hou Kui, thanks to our friends at Teavivre. This Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui leaves a lasting impression—both for its appearance and for its taste!

The dried leaves are truly spectacular to behold. They also take up a huge amount of space and weigh very little, being extremely thin. They are large in size but smashed to paper thin. Actually, they might be even thinner than paper! And the color is bright green veering chartreuse!

The taste strikes me as somewhere between Long Jing and Mao Feng, with a chestnutty facet but also a hint of vegetal flavor. It’s closer to Long Jing than Mao Feng, but Hou Kui does not taste exactly like Long Jing. Now that I’ve depleted my samples, I am adding this unique tea to my wish list!

170 °F / 76 °C 3 min, 0 sec 4 g 10 OZ / 295 ML

I think I need to buy some of this!

Terri HarpLady

I love this one!


Teabrat, you won’t be disappointed!


Terri HarpLady, isn’t it beautiful?

Terri HarpLady

It IS beautiful!

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drank Love by Pukka
1297 tasting notes

Love, love, love. I drank two glasses of this bedtime blend while watching Le Corbeau (1943—and naturally banned by the Nazis in Vichy France).

The best line in this provocative film filled with rich metaphors:

“Parce que c’est aussi bête que ça: Je t’aime.”


J’adore tes citations à la Française!

I always forget to ask: how come you speak French?


Merci, TheTeaFairy! I learned French by spending some time in France and taking lots of French courses. Also by reading books and watching films!

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drank Wild Purple Black by Tea Setter
1297 tasting notes

Wrapping up this sample from Tea Setter of Wild Purple Black tea. Gosh this is good. It tastes like food. Maybe a loaf of medium-dark baked bread? This one is going on my wish list…

Flavors: Baked Bread

Boiling 4 min, 30 sec 2 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Today’s batch of Norbu Margaret’s Hope Autumn Flush Darjeeling was not quite as good as the last one, but I blame the infuser. I used a glass contraption which allowed some of the smaller leaves to slip through, so they sat there in the bottom of the pot (and glass), adding just a touch of bitterness.

Darjeeling is so sensitive to brewing parameters, in my experience. I wonder whether the darjeeling detractors are aware of this? One little mistake can turn an excellent tea into a borderline unpleasant experience!

To be honest, I have never really thought of darjeeling as black tea. It’s too temperamental and cannot really be consumed with cream. My Platonic Form of black tea remains Assam, but I am beginning to explore the China black teas, having learned that “China black” is not a dirty word, though the rampant use of inferior China blacks as the base for flavored teas has led countless people to believe that—myself included, until only recently.

Back to this darjeeling. I need to take a picture of the dried leaves (purchased from Norbu). This tea is so beautiful, with spindly leaves of all different shades.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 5 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

I read somewhere it’s oolong


Really? Seriously, boychik? How interesting!


Thanks, boychik! I just read the article on darjeeling at Wiki. Wow, I feel proud to have deduced this from my experience. ;-)

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What a relief—according to Tea Setter “High” doesn’t necessarily mean “Better”. I was worried there for a minute, because this Iron Goddess High Grade Oolong, while delicious, did not strike me as appreciably better than the "Medium"grade. I’m working from memory, of course, as I depleted my sample the other day. Probably I should order some larger amounts of both, because I like them a lot.

Now I think that I am beginning to understand my former aversion to oolong. I must have only tried very low grade (in the sense of base, probably swept off the floor after everything good was picked off the table) TGY. I really had a prejudice against this tea because I thought that it was the same stuff that is found in oolong filter bags, which induce headaches and even malaise in me!

I now know more about oolong than I did only a few weeks ago, and one possible explanation is that the substances which are in higher concentration in oolong than in green or black teas are much higher in the powdered form? I don’t know. It’s still kind of mysterious. Maybe some sort of solvent is used to remove the dust from the floor before dehydrating and producing oolong filter bags? All I know for sure is that I have had no adverse effects whatsoever from any of the loose leaf oolongs I’ve now tried…

Pale yellow liquor. Floral scent and flavor. Smooth texture worthy of savoring rather than gulping down.

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 15 sec 4 g 12 OZ / 354 ML

The mouth feel of good oolong….mmmmmm….dreamy.


It is, Cheri! How did I live without it? It’s as though I was the equivalent of color blind during my pre-oolong tea years—unaware of an entirely different perceptual experience!


I feel the same way! I only started drinking them recently, and they’re now my favorites.

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Palais des Thé Vive le Thé! is another case where I find myself puzzled by the needless adulteration of a pretty decent green base tea. It’s smooth and silken, with a flavor slightly vegetal, but also somewhat buttery. The ginger and citrus just seem like distractions to me.

This tea should not be covered up. It’s a bit like putting ketchup on filet mignon. Or perhaps I should choose another metaphor, since I no longer eat mammals. How about Wild Alaskan salmon with barbecue sauce on top?

second infusion: I decided to try another round and found it to be more likeable than the first—because the added flavors were lighter!

170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 15 sec 2 g 9 OZ / 266 ML

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drank Zen Iced Green Tea by Tazo
1297 tasting notes

I cold brewed a batch of this tea as a part of my concerted effort to remove most filter bags from my house before summer’s end. No surprise that it tastes a lot like an unsweetened iced green chez Starbucks, since this is that blend.

It’s refreshing enough, but I have never found Zen to be especially “Zen”. Wouldn’t that name be more appropriate for a Japanese single-original first-flush sencha.? It could be called Zencha!

Iced 8 min or more

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drank Wenshan Baozhong by Harney & Sons
1297 tasting notes

I began my (tea)day yesterday with this oolong from Harney & Sons, having ordered a selection of samples in order to find out whether or not I like this genre, after years of laboring under the (now known to be false) belief that I have an “oolong issue”.

In the Harney & Sons Guide to Tea, author Michael Harney ranks this tea at the near green end of the oolong spectrum, so I figured that it would work as my obligatory green of the early afternoon—and it did. In truth, however, the flavor of the pale gold veering green liquor is very creamy and floral and not at all vegetal. I brewed 4 grams for 2 glasses at 79C for about two minutes, and the leaves had barely begun to untwist.

They do look (as the company states) like pieces of twisted rope—not at all like gnarled nuggets, although the dark green color is similar to some of the gnarled nugget oolongs I’ve seen. Whenever I see that leaves have hardly begun the realization of their full potential, I know that further quality infusions lie on the horizon…

second infusion: just as good as the first. Rich, creamy, still floral.

third infusion: still very tasty and smooth, somewhat less creamy and floral, but just as good as some first infusion oolongs. I rarely do a fourth infusion, because often they taste too close to water to me, but this third infusion was so good…

fourth infusion: the liquor is now bright yellow—similar to many second infusions of China green teas. The flavor is weaker but still enjoyable

Flavors: Creamy, Floral

170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 30 sec 4 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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I brewed up a large Bodum of this chamomile-lemon myrtle blend from Numi with every intention of drinking one glass and refrigerating the rest for iced tea tomorrow afternoon. Whoops. A movie later (I watched Hannah Arendt), the Bodum was drained, and now I have wild and crazy dreams to look forward to, given my previous experience with lemon myrtle at bedtime…


I love when a tea is that good (or a movie that good) that you drink all the tea without even realizing you’ve done it. I hope your dreams weren’t crazy this time.


Thanks, Cheri! They were odd but not heinous. ;-)

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Update: 28 September 2014.

On the above date, I officially went on strike and stopped posting tasting notes at Steepster, having endured more than two months of this site’s complete and utter dysfunctionality.

Today is November 1, 2014. I write now to announce that I’ll be launching my new blog, sherapop’s tea leaves, in the not too distant future…

A long-time tea and perfume lover, I have recently begun to explore the intersections between the two at my blog: http://salondeparfum-sherapop.blogspot.com//

I participate at fragrance community websites, and I care about tea as much as perfume, so why not belong to Steepster as well?

A few words about my ratings. In assessing both teas and perfumes, my evaluation is “all things considered.” Teas do not differ very much in price (relative to perfumes or any luxury items), so I do not usually consider the price when rating a tea.

What I do consider is how the particular tea compares to teas of its own type. So I might give a high rating to a fine herbal infusion even though I would never say that it is my favorite TEA. But if it’s good for what it is, then it deserves a high rating. There is no point in wishing that a chamomile blend was an Assam or a sencha tea!

Any rating below 50 means that I find the liquid less desirable to drink than plain water. I may or may not finish the cup, depending upon how thirsty I am and whether there is another hot beverage or (in summertime) a source of fresh water available.

From 50 to 60 indicates that, while potable, the tea is not one which I would buy or repurchase, if I already made the mistake (I have learned) of purchasing it.

From 60 to 70 means that the tea is drinkable but I have criticisms of some sort, and I probably would not purchase or repurchase the tea as I can think of obvious alternatives which would be better.

From 70 to 80 is a solid brew which I would purchase again.

From 80 to 90 is good stuff, and I probably need to have some ready at hand in my humble abode.

From 90 to 100 is a tea (or infusion) which I have come to depend on and look forward to imbibing again and again—if possible!

If you are interested in perfume, you might like my 2300+ perfume reviews, most of which have been archived at sherapop’s sillage (essentially my perfumelog):



Somerville, Massachusetts, USA



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