154 Tasting Notes

drank Dragon Well by The Republic of Tea
154 tasting notes

This tea has an almost roasted flavor with some nice playful green notes, robust and zingy. There are hints of roasted corn and zucchini and maybe some toasted pecan, really small hints of green bean. There’s a little sweetness to the tea as well. The flavor is long-lasting and really lingers on the tongue with a bit of hui gan. Honestly, this is the first Dragon Well tea I can recall really enjoying. The last one I had was really intense and tasted like fried chicken. I still long for the day when I can try the fabled Xi Hu Long Jing. If I were a lion in China, Lion Mountain is where I’d probably hang out and drink tea, anyway. ;3

The repeat infusions on this tea had very nice flavor as well, more robust than I usually get with green teas.

Flavors: Corn Husk, Roasted nuts, Zucchini

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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This green tea looks rather thin and delicate like mei hua or a bi luo chun but less fuzzy. The scent is sweet and has a note of tropical fruit, maybe passion fruit, as well as a lightly floral quality and a vegetal kind of green bean scent.

The taste is gentle. The most obvious to me is a lotus flavor, which is sort of a creamy and delicate floral and anise-like flavor if you’ve never had it. As the tea cools it tastes rather umami, a bit like gyokuro, and there’s a hint of pleasant bitterness in the finish.

On the second infusion, the flavor is similar but a bit sweeter and milder. Same with the third, but yeilding a little more bitterness.

I brewed it at 2.5g/100ml. When I brewed it again with only 2g of leaf per 100ml the flavor was much more delicate and the “pleasant bitterness” wasn’t even present at all, so it’s a much smoother cup. I’ve been experimenting with leaf amounts for green tea in a pseudo-gongfu style lately to try to find what works best for me. It’s been a lot tougher for green teas than most other types. I keep fluctuating between 2.5g and 2g per 100ml, and much like with this review, the higher amount gives stronger tasting results with more distinguishable flavors, while the lower amount tends to produce a more agreeable and delicate flavor, but bordering on so subtle as to be bland, not in the sense that it doesn’t taste good, but in the sense that it doesn’t taste significantly different from other green teas. Particularly, the repeated infusions seem really dull with this amount of leaf.
As for Sky Between the Branches, I think it’s one of the better green teas you’ll find from Republic of Tea. It’s worth a try if you have it in bulk nearby. They stock it at Whole Foods near me. I wouldn’t buy a whole can of it without trying first though.

Flavors: Floral, Sweet, Vegetal

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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I didn’t realize I haven’t reviewed this yet. I ordered samples of this a while back and I enjoyed it quite a bit. If you’ve never experienced the flavor of lotus it is a strange one. It reminds me of anise or licorice combined with cream and a hint of floral. It can taste and smell very strong compared to other scented teas like jasmine or chrysanthemum, so I find this one can sometimes benefit from a bit lighter brewing than other scented teas.

That’s about it in a nutshell. It’s a rather relaxing flavor if you like it. It’s definitely better off light to me, but you could easily brew this strong for a more invigorating brew.

Flavors: Anise, Creamy, Floral

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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As I’m brewing this… I’m thinking it smells terrible, like one of those cheap scented candles from Wal-Mart that are way too strong and smell a lot more like crummy chemicals than they do the actual fruit or whatever they are meant to resemble. They give me a headache. The smell is very strongly of fruit, and it doesn’t smell like real fruit, despite there is real fruit in it. I’m pretty familiar with the smell of warm pomegranate as I use pure pomegranate juice to create my own grenadine syrup for beverages, which basically just involves heating pomegranate juice and sugar together in a pot (though I finish it with a splash of orange blossom water). The scent of heating that juice is very different from this. It smells fresh and doesn’t penetrate the sinuses like perfume like this tea’s scent does.

In any case, the taste is not nearly as strong as the scent. It is fruity as you’d expect. Nothing about it really tastes like green tea. I’m already getting the feeling this would be a much more successful blend if it was paired with rooibos or black tea or something with a strong enough flavor of its own so that you could actually taste anything other than the pomegranate flavor.

The fruitiness becomes tart at the end of the sip, which is to be expected from pomegranate, as tasting the fruit or its juice will do that. However, there is a dry feeling in the mouth during and after the finish that makes me think “low quality green tea here”.

I feel I can’t be very forgiving to this tea because it is not very forgiving itself. You can get better green tea pre-made in a bottle at the nearest fuel station here in the states.

Flavors: Artificial, Fruity

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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I kept skeptically thinking this was just a really lightly oxidized oolong. Perhaps it is from an oolong cultivar. The rolling style is very similar to beaded oolong, and indeed the scent gives some really fresh mountain greenery notes that I’m used to in high quality high mountain oolongs. The flavor is really sweet and delightful. It definitely has a plum or cherry taste to it and hints of floral, the type you get from high mountain oolong. It’s light too, the flavor isn’t really all that strong. I might be prone to use more tea leaf if I were to make this again, but I only had one sample. This is a good oolong-lover’s green tea or for someone who doesn’t really like vegetal tasting greens.

Flavors: Cherry, Floral, Plums, Sweet

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

This green is definitely very oolong tasting. I also wondered whether it was really an oolong with a green tea label slapped on it. Regardless, it’s very good.

Red Fennekin

Irrespective of the classification, it sounds really good! :-)


I thought it was really good. It was nothing like any other green tea I’ve had, which makes it weird to me to see lots of reviews saying it tasted just like a typical green tea. If anything, it really tasted more like oolong tea. I also noticed though that other people tended to steep it a lot longer.

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This sample is part of the Ripe Puer sampler I got from Mandala teas a while back. I drank it prior to writing this review (I usually drink tea while writing the review), so I can’t say too much about it in specific detail.

Shu Puer is a strange category to me in that I find most of them to be mediocre. They rarely have really distinguishing qualities and often taste rather similar to me. Further, they have never really “wowed” me yet, but this is what I like about them. They are easy to drink without giving too much attention to them. They are gentle and comforting, mild.

I will say this one didn’t have any real mustiness or leatheriness to the flavor. It was mild and easygoing all around and rather enjoyable. However it lacked any notes that really stood out. It got a little sweet in later infusions.

This is an all around good Puer to have if you want to drink tea casually and relaxed, perhaps with some conversation.

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 tsp 3 OZ / 100 ML

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This tea has incredible flavor. I was sent two samples of this by Yunomi. They are packaged in little 1 gram foil pouches that are strip-shaped, so the tea could easily be poured into a cup or water bottle or wherever you want to put it really. The first one, I simply dissolved into about 5 ounces of warm water in a cup. The second one I decided to prepare like matcha, whisked in a chawan with just about 2.5 ounces of water.

Of these two methods, I really prefer the second. The result is a beautiful emerald green drink with a seafoam green froth. The mouthfeel is very milky, thick, and full, and not at all drying. The flavor is incredibly rich and green. It’s very nutty with hints of pistachio and edamame. The warm, nutty flavor really fills your mouth and nostrils. I wouldn’t say this tea is sweet. It’s more savory than sweet, but it is definitely mellow. There’s very little bitterness to this tea even mixed so strongly.

I have a lot of difficulty describing green flavors like this, but I think the emphasis is on a rather mellow, nutty kind of flavor more than a vegetal one.

When mixed into more water the first time I had it, the flavor was rather subdued, so I feel I may have used too much water. That time. The packet didn’t say how much water you should use it with. Maybe 3-4 ounces is ideal.

Flavors: Green, Nutty, Soybean

170 °F / 76 °C 0 min, 15 sec 1 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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drank Golden Needle King by Shang Tea
154 tasting notes

I’ve had this tea quite a while. I usually don’t think to review Shang Teas because I am impressed by really everything they offer and have at one time or another owned most of their teas. I don’t need to rate and review them to know them well. I’ve become pretty connected to them. I forget that others might like to know about their qualities. This review comes in the wake of a yixing crisis that led me to rediscover this tea.

If I’ve caught any of you yixing lovers’ attention now, what I mean is that I recently got a new yixing pot. I’ve been using it a few weeks now with some Gui Fei oolong, and while it has built up the most caramely, rich, sweet aroma and flavor, I have to admit I found myself wondering if the tea was really as good as I remember it from when I first brewed it in a gaiwan, so I got out my gaiwan and tried it in there. Sure enough, it was better than in the yixing pot. Whaaaat? I was sure I’d used it enough to be seasoned and not still extracting flavor?

Research led me to find that the type of yixing pot I have is thick-walled and low fired, so not only is the heat retention a bit too high for greener oolongs, but it is porous enough to steal their aroma. I had to put a lot of thought into how to re-season my yixing pot as the shape and thickness and clay type of it make it ideal for high-temperature teas, particularly red tea or puer. I don’t really drink a lot of either, so I had to decide which one I’d enjoy having more often and enjoy exploring more of (and sharing with friends). I went with red since I thought it would be better complemented by the sweetness already built up in the pot from the Gui Fei, and a friend mentioned the red color of the tea would complement the blue yixing clay well, which I agree with immensely. I’m reminded of Icelandic volcanoes when pouring the deep red-orange drops from the deep blue pot that is etched with a golden crackle design.

So out comes the golden needle to re-season the pot. It took to it well and blended well with the sweetness from the gui fei as I thought it would. I did the “un-seasoning” process of boiling it in just water for about half an hour to get the original tea scents I used in it out, but it only half did the job. I knew it wasn’t all gonna come out. Either way, it works well and in time it will grow to be more distinctly “red” and less “sweet oolong”.

As for this golden needle, it is really a mellow tea, even when using a lot of leaf. The flavor is light and there is really no bitterness or astringency in it like you might find in some Yunnan red teas. It’s just smooth and zen, the slightest bit tart. The flavor is malty and really this is one of those teas that isn’t super flashy with elaborate notes. This is a tea that tastes like tea and in that since it is humbling and simple, easy to appreciate. It has a little note of lychee, though that may be a lingering effect of the Gui Fei I had in this pot before, which has strong lychee notes.There are also little hints of dried fruit.

The second infusion of this tea is my favorite. It is rather sweet and syrupy. Really flavorful and forgiving. No bitterness or drying sensation. It’s a very juicy red tea, a real joy to drink. This could easily be a real favorite of mine if it was a hint sweeter, but I’m not about to go make it in a mug with some sugar. It’s great just how it is.

Flavors: Dried Fruit, Lychee, Malt, Tea

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 6 OZ / 170 ML
Red Fennekin

The tea sounds really delicious! I’m sorry to hear about your Yixing crisis though :(


any chance to post a pic of your Yixing?


i love Golden Needle King btw and many other teas by Shang ;0


I will try to get a pic of my Yixing soon. And it’s not a big deal, Red, I am happy with the outcome even if it isn’t the original tea I had imagined using the pot for!

Red Fennekin

That’s true and fair :-) I’m glad something good came of it all!


Just a little update on the Yixing… it is looooooving these red teas. Holy cow I never knew red tea could taste so good. Maybe due to the sweetness of seasoning it once with Gui Fei, or maybe just due to the clay continually sapping some of the flavor from the teas, the red teas I have been brewing in it have all been coming out so much sweeter and mellower than if I brewed them in a gaiwan. It’s really impressive! I am glad I made the switch. I think I’ve found this pot’s tea match.

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drank Gui Fei Oolong by Green Terrace Teas
154 tasting notes

I am re-visiting this review to say a couple important things. First of all, I love this tea so much I have a $115 dollar yixing pot dedicated to it (I occasionally let some other fruity/floral unroasted oolongs in there, but not often). The seasoning on this pot just keeps getting more deliciously sweet and rich. It smells like caramel and fruit when I open it up. Secondly, LYCHEE!!! I had some trouble putting my thumb on what the flavors of this tea are the first time. I kept thinking apples and roses/magnolias… then I had a lychee fruit beverage yesterday and suddenly it hit me. Lychee has a really floral kind of fruitiness to me, and it is almost identical to the flavor of this tea (Lychee flavored Calpico is the drink I had, FYI, which is a creamy non-carbonated soft drink from Japan).

All that said, here is my original review from several months ago when I first tried it:

This is my first bug-bitten oolong! I’m so excited! I received this as a sample from Green Terrace Teas, a new company based in Taiwan. The samples were vacuum sealed in attractive gold foil packaging and labeled elegantly and clearly in both Chinese and English. I am very impressed by how professional these samples are presented!

After a quick rinse of the leaves, I am totally enamored by the aroma of this oolong. There are notes of apples, cream, butter, warm honey and magnolias (or roses). This is unlike anything I’ve encountered; the smell is so wonderful I sat and smelled it for a strong minute or two before brewing the first infusion.

Despite an even more floral aroma after a quick 30-second steep, the gold liquor yielded by this tea tastes very sweet and mellow. I primarily taste subtle notes of apples, honey and flowers. There’s a very evident hui gan. The taste is surprisingly mellower than the aroma.

The second steeping has all the same flavors. It is exceptionally mellow and honey-like with crisp notes of apple and floral magnolia tones coming through. The brew is a deep yellow color.

As the brewed leaves unfurl completely, they are gorgeously green with red-brown edges. The tiny holes from leaf hopper bites are quite fun to look at, and the tea has become noticeably more floral. By the third and fourth infusion, it is still sweet but more floral. I can see this tea lasting a good many steepings and I intend to sit and enjoy them without thinking and focusing on describing the tea, so I will end my review here. I’ve become rather tea drunk from this one tea. I feel like I’ve become flowing water.

This really is an incredible tea and one not to overlook.

Flavors: Apple, Creamy, Honey, Lychee, Rose

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 45 sec 8 g 6 OZ / 180 ML
Tea Pet

Good gui fei is one of life’s true treasures. :)

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Big thanks to TeaBrat for this sample.

This stuff smells like heaven. There’s this wonderful sweet citrus scent to the brewed leaves, or maybe it’s the smell of spiced apples. It’s accompanied by notes of cinnamon stick and pine. This stuff smells like the potpourri smell you catch walking into some quaint little craft shop. It’s nostalgic.

Being made from Ya Bao, the infusion is rather pale, just a hint of yellow. It’s also slightly cloudy, which isn’t uncommon for fermented teas. The flavor is really unique. It has a bit of a smokey and peppery finish, but the main presence in the sip is like a cinnamon-apple peel kind of taste. It’s got a creamy body to it.

The second infusion of this got a little more strong in flavor. It’s got the tangy Sheng Puer vibe now, reminding me less of loose un-aged Ya Bao and more of Sheng. There’s a fizzy quality to this tea. It’s really nifty. In later infusions the smokier qualities emerge more. There’s a lemony tartness to it that I didn’t really think about at first, but after reading other reviews and tasting some more, it’s undeniable.

Flavors: Apple Skins, Bark, Cinnamon, Lemon, Wood

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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I’m a dedicated student and practitioner of Gongfu Cha and you can usually find me brewing my tea in a gaiwan. I tend to stick to straight teas and scented teas most often, though I dabble in tisanes and flavored blends from time to time. I use a Tokoname-ware kyusu for Japanese green teas and a chawan for matcha.

To me, tea offers a time of peace and reflection in solitude, or sharing and enjoyment with friends. It has become a huge part of my life lately.

Aside from tea, I’m a novelist and creator of all types. I love to cook, create music, write, draw, decorate, and do just about anything creative I can get my paws on. I also enjoy creating beverage recipes.

I am really interested in Asian cultures and have a much deeper interest than my shameless love for anime and Japanese video games.

I’m a friend to animals of all kinds. I couldn’t live in a world without animals. Conserving and respecting them is very important to me.

But I am mostly here on Steepster to talk tea! Let’s enjoy the world of tea together!

My Tea Ratings:
0 = Terrible
25 = Uninteresting or harsh
50 = So-So, I’m indifferent
75 = Enjoyable
100 = Incredible!

:3 <——Kitty smiley face


Kansas City, USA

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