75 Tasting Notes

drank White Rhino by Butiki Teas
75 tasting notes

This is a unique white tea. It does indeed brew a bit like a red/black tea. The apricot notes are apparent from the start, and the brew comes off with a nice malty caramely kind of tone. It’s subtle, sweet and earthy. Nice and mellow.

I might be fooled by the fact that it is a white tea though and perhaps it would benefit from being steeped more like a black tea (which for me usually involves a longer steeping period and hotter temperature). The flavor was great and I can only wonder if a longer brew would have yielded more richness and complexity. I only brewed it for 45 seconds, gongfu style in a gaiwan. I didn’t check the vendor’s steeping recommendations this time around. Just brewed like I do most whites. Adding 15 seconds to each steeping, it did build in flavor and peaked around the 3rd steeping. Really nice.

Flavors: Apricot, Caramel, Hay, Malt

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 45 sec 2 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Butiki Teas

This tea does hold up well being steeped like a black tea.

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This is my first time trying a Four Seasons oolong, so yet again, I’m very excited by these samples from Green Terrace Teas. They are vacuum packed in gold foil pouches that are lovely and keep the tea very well stored.

Brewing this Gongfu style in a gaiwan, after an initial rinse, the aroma of the leaves is very rich with scents of honey, custard, cinnamon and apples. It smells a bit like a pecan pie or apple pie or some other delicious pastry. It is heavenly. The taste is mild and sweet with the same qualities.

The second steeping tastes lightly floral with hints of toasted pecans and cream. It has a wonderful warm and mild flavor, quite balanced with the floral and nutty tones on opposing ends of the taste spectrum. By the third steeping, the flavor is more floral, but it is very easy on the tongue and not overly strong. It is still also very creamy and mildly sweet. The lingering aftertaste is very nice. Four steepings in the floral qualities emerge a bit more, still underscored by a caramel-like sweetness. Fifth steeping is less floral and more of the sweet honey and nutty flavors with a bit of caramel apple, becoming once again very mellow. I think this tea is at its best in the early and late steepings when the floral notes are more subdued.

I think this is a wonderful Four Seasons oolong and I recommend it. It has a very clean taste and a sweet and balanced flavor.

I brewed it for 15 seconds in a gaiwan, adding 15 seconds each time at 194F/90C with 4.5g of tea per 100ml of water.

Flavors: Apple, Caramel, Cinnamon, Creamy, Floral, Honey, Pecan

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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This is the second sample I received from Green Terrace Teas. I chose three oolong, as I feel I haven’t spent enough time with oolong and I do really adore them. This is my third time trying a Jin Xuan, and I already have a personal favorite Jin Xuan so I’m curious to see how this one will sit with me.

The first thing I notice is how subtle the scent of this tea is. After an initial rinse, there’s a very creamy aroma with notes of butter and vanilla. It almost smells like the crust on a creme brulee.

I’ve noticed many of my oolong becoming too flowery and heady a few Gongfu style steepings in, so I’ve cut down my initial start time on them to 15 seconds rather than 30. So far so good. The initial steeping of course is very light now and carries the subtelties of the tea. I’m getting very light notes of cream, toasted sugar, and butter. There’s a very mild floral aroma in the leaves, but it does not come through in the taste (yet).

This tea already differs quite significantly from my favorite Jin Xuan, which is called Jin Xuan Dong Ding because it is grown on Mt. Dong Ding. That variety has fruity notes common to Dong Ding oolong, I am guessing because of the terroir of the region, but the creamy notes of Jin Xuan come through as well since that is the varietal they are growing in that instance. This Jin Xuan from Green Terrace is very creamy, but does not have fruit aromas or flavors. I think it is closer to what Jin Xuan is typically known to be like.

The second steeping is similar to the first and still somewhat light. By the third steeping I am getting a more rich flavor, quite buttery with floral hints and a slightly vanilla aftertaste. Great hui gan. Four steepings in and it’s getting even more rich. I’m expecting at any moment for one of these steepings to fully unleash the creeping floral tones that I keep getting whiffs of, but much to my surprise it stays very creamy and soft while those floral hints stay in the background. It’s nice.

After a full five steepings, this tea is staying flavorful and is not getting particularly stronger or more floral or astringent. In my opinion that is a good thing for a tea that is meant to have a creamy, rich, mellow flavor. The flavor doesn’t really change much from one steeping to the next. It is pretty consistent, but builds on itself in richness.

I will call myself spoiled on the Jin Xuan Dong Ding I mentioned earlier. I really prefer its fruity-creamy blend of flavors. This Jin Xuan from Green Terrace is agreeable though, and I think those looking for a strictly milky, creamy tasting Jin Xuan will not be disappointed.

Flavors: Butter, Cream, Vanilla

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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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. I can’t fully describe what I’m smelling here and those are rough estimates. This is unlike anything I’ve encountered, but 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 honey-orange 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.

I brewed this gongfu style in a gaiwan for 30 seconds, adding 15 seconds each time at 194F/90C, using 4.5g of leaf per 100ml water.

The only reason I didn’t rate this tea higher is because I wish some of the wonderful complexities of the aroma came through a little more in the flavor. This really is an incredible tea though and one not to overlook.

Flavors: Apple, Butter, Cream, Flowers, Honey

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 4 tsp 3 OZ / 100 ML

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reviewed Digital Kettle Pro by Pino
75 tasting notes

Wow, no one has reviewed this yet? I’ll indulge.

I had my Pino Digital Kettle Pro for 6 months before the heating element stopped working and it failed to heat up water anymore. The temperature readout and controls still worked, but no heat. Unfortunately, Pino only offers this product with a 90 day warranty so I was screwed and had to toss the thing. I have a friend who has had this same kettle for years with no problem and loves it.

My feelings on it are mixed. The size of the kettle is medium sized. It holds about 1.5 liters.

The pour spout only works well if you pour with confidence, otherwise you’ll get some drips. However, when this thing is full it pours fast and hard if you pour confidently, and it begins to pour with just a slight tipping angle, so you can’t really get it very low over say, a gaiwan, to pour directly into it without making a mess. I often had to pour into a cha hai and then use that to pour into my gaiwan so as to get an even and steady pour.

The temperature setting can be set to any temp and the readout tells you the temperature live, which is ideal for a kettle, but it often overshoots the temperature when heating by about 5 degrees F, and will drop about 5 degrees below the desired temperature before it decides to heat again. If precision is the name of the game, you’ll find yourself waiting on it to get back to the desired temp. You can cheat it when it is too cool (but not cool enough to start reheating on its own) by flipping it off then back on. If you do that it will try to heat to the set temperature (will still overshoot a bit, so you’ll have to wait for it to cool some).

Being that this was my first totally variable temperature kettle I was happy with it while it lasted, but now that I’ve moved on to a smaller kettle with a gooseneck spout from Bonavita, I’m definitely digging the Bonavita a lot better.

The manufacturing feels solid and appears solid, but since mine died after just half a year of use, I can’t speak for the quality.

I’d give this kettle a higher rating if it had a more controlled pour and if the temperature stayed closer to where you set it, also if it had a longer warranty. It does let out a chime when it reaches the desired temperature, so that is nice if you need that kind of thing.

For the price, there are better ones out there, so I wouldn’t recommend this one, especially with only a 90-day warranty.

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I hadn’t delved too deeply into the negative reviews before purchasing this kettle. Perhaps part of me stubbornly wanted to believe it would be as amazing and useful as it looks. Now that I have, I’m a little leery, but so far, so good.

The gooseneck spout is a godsend. It allows for a very precise pour and the speed at which the water comes out is just perfect. It takes about 4-5 seconds to fill it up the gaiwan and gives the tea leaves a nice swirl before leaving them to steep. Alternatively if I am brewing a very delicate tea that should not be agitated, the gooseneck allows for a very slow but steady pour that will not rustle the leaves much. In terms of pouring, this kettle is the best I have tried, hands down. The pistol grip is also very comfortable and the 1-liter size is perfect for what I’m using it for. I need a smaller kettle like this one so I can get a more controlled pour. It’s easier to maneuver since it is less heavy. It allows for more elegant motion of the wrists.

I am concerned, however, by the reviews I’ve read about potential electrical problems and rust after repeated use. These problems appear to be so frequent that I am already uneasy about the product and feel like I am using it with anticipation for something going wrong. Lucikly, there is a 1-year warranty so as long as you’re okay with having to wait on the company to replace it, in theory, you should be covered in the event something goes wrong. The 1-year warranty was a selling point for me because my last kettle from another company crapped out after 6 months of use and only had a 90 day warranty.

My biggest complaint from use is that the heating element makes a very noticeable sound, clicking on and off as it tries to reach the set temperature. Sometimes the element will click on and off every few seconds for a while, so the sound can be very frequent. If repetitive clicking sounds annoy you, this could be a bad investment for you. I was put off by this at first but learned to ignore it. I expect some noise from a kettle, and this one roars a lot less as the water heats than previous ones I’ve owned.

I don’t know if this is a real problem or not, but the LED screen flickers when the kettle is heating. I haven’t had this problem with my Pino Digital Kettle Pro, which has almost an identical temperature readout and base. However, as that was the kettle that quit working after 6 months of use, I can’t really compare whether this type of problem is worth fretting over or just a minor glitch. As long as it does not lead to the readout not functioning, I’m okay with it.

The included plastic screen to cover the base is a really nice accessory, though I’m not sure how necessary it is since the base doesn’t really appear to have many seams where water could leak into it anyway. The sticker included did say it is for commercial or frequent use. I guess it is meant to be used in an environment where the potential to spill something on it is high, or where there’s a bit of hustle and bustle or moving around of objects.

The plastic base of the kettle(not the control unit it sits on) is a bit wobbly on mine and does not sit flush with the stainless steel. While this doesn’t seem to affect the functionality or cause the kettle to wobble when seated, it feels like cheap manufacturing and I wonder if water dripping from the sides of the kettle (from condensation inside the lid when you remove it or put it back on) may get trapped in this seam and cause rust over time. In theory, it shouldn’t, since the product is supposed to be stainless steel.

The timer function is nice, but only operates when the kettle is not seated on the base, so prepare to sit the kettle down elsewhere if you want to run the timer. It counts upward from zero so you don’t have to set it, but you do have to pay attention to it as there is no beeper or anything to alert you when it reaches a certain time.

As for the preset temperatures, I feel somewhat misled by the product description. I thought it was possible to have user-defined presets, but it is not. The wording on that should be a little more clear. You can, however, cycle through the presets to get to a temperature close to where you want it and just dial from there to reach the desired temp. It saves time from having to dial all the way from a low temp to a high one or vice versa.

One other thing. I had this plugged into a power strip with some other appliances and it took substantially longer to heat up than when plugged into the wall outlet directly. It may be beneficial to only use this directly with an outlet. The cord is not as short as some reviews say. It is about 3 feet long and can be wound underneath the base to store it away, though this is more difficult than it should be and it can easily get stuck under there, so I’m not sure how useful the function really is or if I’ll be using it often.

It performs the core tasks I need it to: heat water to any specific temperature and hold it there, and offers a very controlled pour. Anything beyond that I would say is bells and whistles, but as far as the bells and whistles go, I’d say it’s important to deliver what you lead your customers to expect they’ll be getting, and not sacrifice quality or functionality for extra features. The preset and timer functions are a little half-assed to me, so not as great a selling point as I originally considered, but still they are handy to an extent. The missing points on the score I gave it are partly due to the features that could be better incorporated and partly due to the questionable manufacturing quality.

I would not really recommend ordering this kettle for the full price of 95 dollars, as I don’t think its quality or track record warrant anywhere near that price. It will occasionally drop in price on Amazon. When I ordered it it was 60 dollars, so keep an eye out. I think 60 dollars is worth the try, but 95 is putting too much burden on the buyer for the questionable quality.

Terri HarpLady

I got one of these in January, & your review was spot on, all the way down to the clicking, which initially irritated me, being hypersensitive to sounds, but on a subconscious level my brain catalogued it, so now I can tell the water is ready by it. It’s a lovely kettle, & I’ve had no problems with it whatsoever.

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This is my 50th Steepster review! WOOOO! fireworks

I decided to do something special and be somewhat of a pioneer. I haven’t seen any tea pets here on Steepster but since they’ve begun allowing reviews for teawares I figured I’d introduce one of mine and see if this flies. While it is not essential to making tea, it is definitely a tea accessory and is a product made specifically for use with tea, so hopefully this is acceptable.

I ordered this tiger tea pet from a site called AliExpress. It’s an online marketplace where many vendors from Asia sell their wares. I’ve named him Inaba and he is my third tea pet. For those of you unfamiliar with tea pets, they are more often used in Taiwanese Gongfu Cha than in Chinese. They are little companions that sit at the tea table for use when rinse water is poured out from the gaiwan and tasting cups. The rinse water is poured over the tea pet, and in the case of this type, it causes him to rapidly and dramatically change colors! It’s kind of showy and some find that it distracts from the appreciation of the tea, so it is not used by all Gongfu practitioners.

As for Inaba, he is my favorite tea pet so far for a few reasons. First, the dramatic color change is really wonderful to watch. The color changes instantly as you douse him with hot water, so it looks like you’re rinsing him clean, but the dark color only returns over a period of a minute or two so it slowly grows more dark. Second, he is the smallest tea pet I own now. He’s only about 4.5 inches long and 4 inches tall, so he fits very well on even my small personal sized Gongfu table.

He is climbing on a hill of money, so maybe he can bring you prosperity, fortune and good luck if you offer him some delicious tea! Hehe. ;3

All in all, I find this tea pet to be a charming addition to a Gongfu Tea Table. I like that the initial colors make it appear to be a solid colored statue. If you are serving guests, it may come as a surprise when you rinse him and he shows such vivid colors! Tea pets are definitely a fun conversation piece for tea gatherings and can be a nice icebreaker if you are serving new guests.

I’m going to rate this guy very highly but not perfect. If you look at him up close the detail on the painting can be a little off in some spots. That is the only aesthetic downside to him, but it is not really too noticeable and for the price these usually cost, it is totally acceptable to me.

If you are considering getting a tea pet, I highly recommend him, though there are so many types out there it may be your personal preference to get another type. If you are looking for one with a strong color change, however, this one is awesome, and as mentioned before, he is very compact and unobtrusive to the tea area.

He brings elegance and power to the tea table! Rawr!


He’s pretty cool! Which store did you get him at? I like this one as well, though I haven’t bought it yet. http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/Porcelain-green-tea-pet-dragon-arts-gifts-feng-shui-dragon-Chinese-mascot-God-Zeng-with-special/526436_1480622114.html

Lion Repshire

That one is awesome! I love the color of the glaze. I have a yixing clay one as well that is a little dragon. Maybe I’ll review him here soon too!

I got the tiger here: http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Allochroic-Mascot-Allochroic-Tiger-tea-pet-will-change-color-S10-Free-Shipping/484626596.html

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Oh no, I’m the first to review it. Pressure!

Haha. Okay, so this 88th Night Shincha is kind of magical. It’s traditionally picked on the 88th night of spring , 88 nights after the Vernal Equinox (which puts it somewhere around June 17th most years if I counted right).

This shincha smells a lot like a high quality matcha to me. It is very rich. I’m getting lots of green leafy notes, some pistachio and a hint of green bean in the scent. In the taste it is vegetal and nutty like pistachio, mellow and has a nice sweetness to it, not a sugary sweetness mind you, more of a mild sweetness like you might describe some vegetables as having (carrots for example). There are delicate hints of mint. It’s lacking the mineral and ocean qualities I’ve tasted in other senchas, which is a nice parting from what I’m used to. The color is a beautiful green-yellow.

I’m gonna have to say this is the best sencha I have had yet. I have only had maybe 4 or 5 so my experience with them is not too broad, but this one is definitely the most enjoyable to me, for its mellow sweetness and hearty vegetal taste. Oh, and if anyone is curious, shincha is a first flush (first harvest) sencha, so that’s why I am comparing the two. :3

Edit: I served this tea at an event I held at my house where I served night-themed teas and it was a favorite among the guests. They said it tasted like a green smoothie. I can’t argue with that!

Flavors: Mint, Nuts, Sweet, Vegetal

160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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This Fu Shou Shan has a very flowery presence, some light buttery vegetal notes and is rather creamy. There’s also a good deal of foresty, pine like notes.

All around a pretty solid Taiwanese oolong. Nothing surprising, but pretty good.

Flavors: Butter, Flowers, Pine, Vegetal

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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The scent notes on this one are quite unexpected: rose, perfume, amber, green bean. It reminds me of some shampoos and lotions.

The taste is like… paper, with a hint of hay and malt. Very slight hint of ocean and on later steepings it actually tasted like the smell of amber. Strange.

It’s not bad tasting, but it is kind of bland to me. I feel rather unaffected by it. The perfumey notes are a bit much for me.

Flavors: Hay, Malt, Ocean Air, Paper

185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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I’m a dedicated student and practitioner of Gongfu Cha and you can almost always find me brewing my tea in a gaiwan. I tend to stick to straight teas and scented teas rather than flavored tea blends with lots of non-tea ingredients. I dabble in tisanes and blends from time to time though.

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’m a sandwich and sushi chef and an aspiring beverage artist.

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!


Kansas City, USA

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