794 Tasting Notes

drank Yixing Hong Cha by Nannuoshan
794 tasting notes

Thanks for the sample, nannuoshan! This is the third black tea I tried. The dry leaf is dark brown to black in color, thin, and twisty. It smells like malt. I followed the recommended gong fu parameters to brew this tea, but I was able to enjoy a couple more infusions than were listed. The brewed liquor is a nice reddish-brown.

I taste a tiny bit of cocoa, but the flavor seems more potato in nature. I also get a bit of a tang. It is smooth and lightly viscous. Overall, it is clear that each of the three black teas I tried are different enough that one might enjoy all three at different times.

Pics of the leaf and liquor:

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Thanks for the sample, nannuoshan! This is the second of the three black teas I tried. The dry leaf consists of very curly, thin, dark brown leaves with some lighter brown sprinkled in. I used the recommended gong fu parameters to brew this tea and I was able to enjoy more than 3 infusions. The aroma is malty and smoky. The liquor is lightly viscous and reddish-brown in color,

With the first sip, there was an explosion of flavor. It was like a bunch of flavors were bouncing around in my mouth. There’s chocolate, vanilla, caramel, a bit of smoke, and even a bit of fruit, like dried cherry. The flavor is rich, like fudge. Nannuoshan’s website states this is a higher grade keemun (which are known as “Qimen”) and based on the flavors I tasted in this tea, I can tell this is of excellent quality. This is really a fantastic tea!

Pics of the leaf and liquor:

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drank Tanyang Gongfu by Nannuoshan
794 tasting notes

Thanks for the sample, nannuoshan! This is the first of the three black tea samples I tried. Gabriele wrote in his note that it seems like I like black tea because I requested three, and he’s right! I do love black tea!

This one sounded like a good one to try first. The dry leaf consists of about half-inch long, thin, twisty black leaves and smells like malt. Here’s a pic:


I followed the recommended gong fu steeping parameters, which are not that different than how I usually gong fu brew black teas. The steeped leaves smell like malt and cocoa. The liquor is reddish-brown in color and smells like cocoa and honey. It is medium viscosity, not overly thick or thin, and smooth and clear.

The first infusion is smooth and tastes like cocoa, honey, and nuts. Yum! In the second infusion, the liquor is more red in color, like a cherry wood, and the flavors continue with cocoa, honey, and some malt creeping in. I found more even more honey notes in the third infusion, at least in the aroma, with light malt and cocoa.

The recommended 3 infusions are perfect as the flavors start to diminish after that.

Of the three black teas I tried, this one is my favorite. The cocoa and honey flavor lingered in my mind. I’m excited that I still have enough leaf for another session! Maybe I’ll wait to have it in the new gaiwan I ordered!


I loved this one!


@cookies – high fives! :)

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drank Nannuoshan 2013 by Nannuoshan
794 tasting notes

Thanks a bunch to nannuoshan for this sample! The dry leaf is a nice mixture of green and gold. I only had enough sample for one session…about 6g. I rinsed the leaf twice at 5 seconds each and then steeped it for 5 seconds. Because of my gooseneck kettle, I was barely able to finish pouring the water over it at 5 seconds! You have to be quick!

The wet leaf smells like dried fruits! The liquor is a pretty amber color. There were some other reviews about this one hitting strong after 5 seconds, so I went more gradually than usual and had three or so 5-second steeps, and then I started to add time with a 15-second steep and then a 25-second steep and so on.

From the beginning, it tastes like dried fruits and apricot. There’s a hint of sheng bitterness, but the short infusions prevent it from overpowering the flavor. At the 25-second steep, I noticed it was getting sweeter and that it was having a calming effect on me. It just kept going and going, getting sweeter and sweeter. I lost count of how many infusions I enjoyed. I was going to stop a number of times, but the developing sweetness kept calling to me, making me steep it “just one more time”, which actually became several times! The spent leaves are whole leaves and they look so fresh, like they were picked yesterday.

With longer steeps, initially there was more bitterness. I think it would be worth it to let this one age for a couple more years to mellow it out, especially since that dried fruit flavor is so delicious! I may pick some up with that in mind!

Pics of the session:


Sounds great

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drank Cape Jasmine Oolong by Tea Ave
794 tasting notes

Thanks so much to Teaave for this sample! So, jasmine and I have not been the best of friends. I really have to be in the mood. This one didn’t smell too strong based on the dry leaf, so I had a feeling I might enjoy it more, and guess what? I did! This is the best jasmine tea I’ve ever had. It is so creamy and buttery with a fresh flower petal taste, not that I’ve ever eaten flowers, but it’s what you imagine they taste like from the fragrance. Sweet, more than just floral, like it has substance, like thick flower petals. It’s floral, but not perfume-y, if you know what I mean. So good! If I were to have a jasmine tea in my cupboard, this would be the one! By the way, have any of you noticed the additional photos Teaave put up on their Steepster tea pages? Omg, the tins and other packaging are so nice! I can’t wait for their online store to open! That $15 off will not be going to waste!


Ooh! Your description is so tempting I feel like it should be written on the side of their box. :D I do love the packaging, too! The photos look like postmodern art. %)


Thanks, Jackie!

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Thanks to SLL for this sample! Omg, my first full-strength lapsang! Woo! This is a tea that I would not have understood or had the palate for a couple of years ago. It would probably have been dumped down the drain….the horror! I can’t believe it, but I actually really like it!

This tea is a super clean, smooth, and sweet wood smoke black tea. I added milk and sugar, which I normally do when I brew black teas western-style and it was yummy. The smoke lingers in your mouth and I think it would be great paired with complimentary food….it would add a fresh smoke taste to whatever you’re eating. Mmmm! I’m a convert!


Yay . Glad you like it. Next step will be maple syrup only.


I’ll need to buy some real maple syrup then! That does sound delicious!

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Thanks for this sample, SLL! I’ve had lemon grass in blends before, but not straight. This is simply lemon grass. Simple can be good. This tea is really really yellow when you brew it up.

It’s essentially a sweet lemon tea with some nose clearing properties. Very simple, but nice. I can imagine this would be delicious iced in the summer! Fortunately I have more leaf, so I will be trying that! :)

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Thanks for the sample, SLL! I’ve never tried a gyokuro before and I’m not a big green tea drinker, but hey, I’ll try anything once! I feel like maybe I’ve heard that gyokuro is kind of a fancy, high society tea. The description says it is exceptional, so I might be right!

The dry leaf is a very vibrant green color and chopped up like confetti. It smells nutty and buttery, like a pastry! Actually, it smells just like shortbread cookies! Yum!

The recommended steeping parameters call for a water temperature between 120 and 140 degrees F, but it turns out my kettle won’t set below 140F. Fortunately, it will display the temperature as it gradually heats up, so I unplugged it when it said 130F! SSL also recommends a 5-minute steeping time for the first infusion. 5 minutes for a green tea? That’s long!

The wet leaf smells vegetal. The liquor is a light yellow-green color. It tastes like something out of the ocean, minus the salt, like seaweed, and it’s also nutty, creamy, and buttery. It has a lightweight mouthfeel. The only weird thing for me was the water temperature is a little low for my taste…I like my tea a little hotter. Overall, it’s very different than other green teas I’ve had and I quite like it!

Pic of the leaf:


Gyokuro is my favorite green tea! Glad you liked it! The Teavana one only calls for a 45 second to 1 minute steep, I’m surprised they called for 4-5 minutes. I steep it a little warmer as well…140F is too low for my taste also!


It didn’t get dark or bitter at 5 minutes, so I think it was right for this one at least. I’ll have to try it at a little higher temp next time!


Sounds great! I’m still waiting to try this one…just sounds like such an afternoon tea for me, and I’ve been spending all my afternoons away from home (and any hope of water temperature control!) lately.


Nice! I did do some longer steeps, and it was still nice and sweet. I’ll have to try this gyokuro!


I love gyokuro. I usually go with a bit warmer water and very short steeps. I wish I could drink it more often, but I find with the gyokuro I have, the caffeine hits me like a freight train.

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drank Da Hong Pao by Nannuoshan
794 tasting notes

Thanks for the sample, nannuoshan! I think this is my first Da Hong Pao, although I’ve had roasted oolongs before. The dry leaf includes medium sized leaves that are dark, wide, and twisted. It smells like twigs, maybe some charcoal, and burnt popcorn (in a good way!)

The tea liquor is a pretty peach color, smooth, lightly viscous, and tastes like a roasted oolong with a hint of peach. The roasted flavor glides over the top, but it’s not too strong. In the second infusion, there’s a really nice juicy texture coming through. Mmmm! The third infusion is similar to the second and the subtle peach notes in the aroma are very pleasing. I followed the recommended gong fu steeping parameters for the first 3 infusions, but continued infusing it a few more times. In later steepings, I noticed that nice touch of mint that I sometimes taste in roasted oolongs. Overall, this is a warming and comforting tea, good for a cold winter night.

Pics of the leaf and liquor:


Thank you for the nice review!
Is it a bamboo tea-tray from Taiwan, the one in the flickr picture?
Although we cannot see it all, it looks a neat tray of high quality bamboo?
Can you post a couple of pictures of it?


Thanks! Actually, the wood below the cup in the Flickr picture is just my desk! I do have a nice tea tray though, but it’s liighter in color, and the cutouts are in the shape of a cloud and breeze. I love it!


maybe we speak of two different photos :)


Oh! I thought you meant the photo in my review! Yes, that’s my cloud and breeze tea tray. I got it from Mandala, but I think Dragon Tea house also has it. I will post a photo of the whole thing for you.


thank you :)

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I expressed interest when SLL sent out an inquiry for reviewers, but I had no idea I was going to be one of the lucky ones to receive a box for review, until a box magically appeared in my mailbox yesterday. It was an awesome surprise! I love the packaging of these monthly subscription boxes…it’s like getting a gift box in the mail. The teas are nestled in crimped paper pieces and they include a card describing each tea and a couple of reusable cloth teabags. I’ve never used cloth teabags before, but I’ll have to give it a try and report back. Anyway, on to this tea, the first one I tried from the box!

The dry leaf smells like white chocolate peppermint bark! Yum! The leaf is beautiful with those cute little yellow chamomile flowers. I’ve not been a fan of chamomile, as it usually has a medicinal herb note to it, so this should be interesting.

The color of the liquor is a very clear red…pretty. :) The peppermint is nice…it hits at the front of the sip, then backs off for some creaminess, then hits more at the end of the sip with a refreshing minty spiciness. It clears up my nose a little. This tea is smooth and clean and sweet. I don’t even like mint much, but this is good. It’s nice for after dinner and it would probably be good with some honey if you were sick. I’m not tasting any rooibos and the chamomile is very mild, so those of you afraid of the medicinal taste of either of those should not be worried. You know, the funny thing is that when I saw there were two herbal teas in the box, I made a face, as I’m not big on herbal, but this is actually really good. Probably the best mint tea I’ve had. Well done, SSL, and thanks so much for your generosity!

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Another profile facelift! My tastes have changed a lot from when I first discovered loose leaf tea.

I can trace my tea journey back to October 2012, when I discovered DavidsTea. Before that, I had the occasional cup and enjoyed high tea at An Afternoon to Remember, which has since closed.

I went through a period of wanting to try all the teas, and was really into flavored teas, especially dessert blacks, but my tastes have substantially changed over time.

I still enjoy the occasional flavored black or rooibos, but I’m more into unflavored black teas right now and recently, puerh. Chinese black teas are amazing…with their notes of chocolate or sweet potato, who needs a flavored tea? I had a much steeper learning curve when it came to puerh. I used to dump out cups of puerh for tasting like leather. Now, I am really enjoying them. I think it took finding good quality puerh and steeping them gong fu style to really enjoy them.

I also, on occasion, enjoy a good oolong, white, or green tea.

Favorite tea companies right now include: Mandala, Teavivre, Butiki, Golden Moon, Lupicia, and DavidsTea (for teaware mostly).

Just a note: I don’t rate my teas numerically because my iPad doesn’t like the scroll bar. Maybe someday that will change…hint hint, steepster! ;)

P.S. My profile picture is of one of my 2 cats, Holly, who is a little princess but very photogenic, and she loves boxes, including those that bring me tea! :)


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