813 Tasting Notes

There are a couple tea pages for Temple Stairs, but not specifically for this version, so I added it.

Thank you Garret, for adding this sample to my order!!! I’ve found that I need to drink puerh early in the day or I’m up all night! That last sheng I had really kept me up! Today I have a scratchy sore throat, but I don’t feel sick. I need a good tea to help soothe it! I wasn’t sure I should try a new tea with a sore throat, but I did it anyway!

I like the samples from Garret, as they’re already portioned out, and I don’t have to think about how much leaf I should put in the pot…I just dump the whole sample. I might need to invest in a small scale…any other tricks? I’m trying to remember how the perfectly portioned out samples look in my little pot and then I’ll just copy that amount.

Two 15sec rinses.
30sec: nice earthy, cocoa, a bit leather/cedar notes.
45sec: similar, more leather/cedar…maybe a hint of mint or cinnamon? Something that has that effect.
1min: smooth, very dark, it’s smoothing over my sore throat. It also feels like it is clearing my nose out. Interesting. I just love the color of ripe puerh…that red hue is awesome.
1min15sec: ooh, smells sweeter…I just stuck my nose it it like a dork! Haha! Oops! This tea is having a major calming effect on me…I feel so blissful right now!
1min30sec: that sweet smell is like caramel-sweet, not fruity-sweet. Mmmm!
1min45sec: definitely a light caramel sweetness coming through and the earthy flavors are fading now.
2min30sec: light caramel, hint of cinnamon.
3min, 5min, and 7min steeps: caramel sweetness.

Overall, very enjoyable, and I wouldn’t mind some more of it!

I love how I can just drink any puerh now and enjoy the experience. There was a time, not that long ago, when I dumped cups of puerh! I know, the horror!!! I think Garret, and Angel at Teavivre, can take the credit for that renaissance in my tea journey. :)


scale will change your life. you will be surprised 3g for one type of tea or the other completely different. Also some puerh has lots of caffeine and another will make you sleepy. you never know. i had one shou last night, after 2 gongfu cups knocked me out. Slept like a baby ;-)


Nice! I think you’re right about how some puerhs affect you differently. This one made me so happy and relaxed! Any recommendations for where to get a scale?


I don’t get much energy from the shous I’ve tried so far. Sometimes shengs really get me buzzing though! I got a small digital postal scale on amazon for like $10. Works awesome!


Thanks, Sarsonator…I just wish-listed one on amazon. :)


Thanks, looseTman! That looks like a great option!


You’re welcome. We’ve had our scale for over a year and couldn’t be happier. It’s much easier to make a consistent cup of tea no matter the size of the tea leaves. It’s not easy to measure large leaves with a teaspoon.

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I couldn’t wait to try this one with all the amazing reviews and people worried it will be out of stock. Since I’m still new to the puerh world, I only bought a sample of this one, but still, it’s good for 4 whole amazing experiences, right? :)

I also used my new tawny dragon tea set to make this tea. The little pot is awesome! Pours so nice! The cup, and actually the pot, gets really hot to the touch, though. Fortunately the pot has a handle, but I have to let the little cup cool a bit before drinking. Now I know why it would be a good idea to have coasters for your teacups! Just looking at the cup relaxes me though…it’s color and shape has that effect.

There was a big piece of the cake in my sample, which I estimated to be about the right size for a serving, so I just plopped it into my tawny dragon and poured two rinses of 10 seconds each.

My first steeping to drink was 15 seconds. It came out pretty light. Very mild, slightly sweet, hint of tang, hint of smoke/camphor…whatever it is! ;) Creamy. I followed that up with a crapload of steepings, probably around 14 or 15, each 15 seconds longer until I hit 3 minute steeps and then stayed there. I did one last hurrah steep for 5 minutes too. I think I actually got tea drunk! The liquor was absolutely beautiful throughout…a pretty copper color. As I steeped, the taste became more astringent and then less so, turning into a very smooth stone-fruit tea. The astringency was kind of a lot at the beginning, which made me want to keep going to coax out the fruity note. It worked, but it took a lot of steepings. My favorites steepings were toward the end of my session. I’m thinking either I used too much leaf, or the water was too hot, or maybe it’s just me? Any recommendations for the best way to brew this one? I’d like to be able to coax out that fruity note sooner, if possible. Fortunately I have more leaf to enjoy!

Oh, and that tawny dragon pot has now become my new best friend…I might just start gong fu-ing everything now! Ha!


I hope this is in the Sheng sampler Mandala offers this month.

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drank Ruby Black Tea by Health&Tea
813 tasting notes

Stephanie threw this into our swap as a bonus! Yay! Thanks, Stephanie! I’ve had a ruby black before and at the time it tasted like artichokes to me. The minute I got a whiff of this one, I definitely got that artichoke scent again, and unsurprisingly, it tastes like artichokes too! So weird, but kinda good, actually. ;) This tea also had nice malty notes and I think a fruity note as well. Very enjoyable, especially if you like artichokes! Ha!

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drank Mulberry Magic by DAVIDsTEA
813 tasting notes

I bought this ages ago, like a year ago, and I remember not liking it too much. It brews up this weird green color and at the time I thought it just tasted weird and herbal. Tonight, I like it a bit more, and probably will not have a hard time finishing the bag. I added a few pieces of rock sugar and brewed it for 3 minutes. The result was a sweet, nutty, and slightly herb-y blend. Not great, but definitely better than last year. Ah, how tastes change!

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I’ve been curious about this tea for awhile now. I asked for some in a recent swap with Stephanie and she sent it nicely wrapped in aluminum foil to hold in the scent. Thanks, Stephanie!

It smelled like the kind of flavor that would be delicious iced, so that’s what I did and it tastes delicious! So refreshing! I get a lot of blackberry, maybe a hint of lime, and the base tastes a lot like a black tea to me, but lighter in flavor. I didn’t add any sugar. This could definitely be a favorite iced tea, but I bet it would also be good hot with a scone. Yum!


I love this one! :O


Me too! I’ve never iced it, but I have cold brewed it.


Glad you enjoyed it. I really like this one iced, for sure :)

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drank Silver Needle by Teance
813 tasting notes

A friend of mine gave me a bag of this tea a long time ago. I never opened it because I thought that would save the freshness until I wanted to enjoy it. I have the April 2013 harvest…which is over a year ago, so I was a little worried it would not still be good. It tastes absolutely delightful! Nice and light, smooth, crisp, and I get light melon notes, as indicated by the package. I will definitely be enjoying this one now that it’s open. :)

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I haven’t had this one in awhile and thought it would be the perfect wake-up tea this morning. I only had a little over two servings left, so I decided to add the one extra pearl to my cup this morning for an extra kick in the pants. Bad idea. My cup was very burnt tasting. I had to add extra sugar because I sure as heck wasn’t going to waste the brew! In the end I got through it and it was a kick in the pants. At least I have one more perfect serving to do this tea a proper positive sipdown at another time. It would have been tragic for the last cup of this tea to go down like that!

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This is my last ripe puerh to try from the sampler. I was excited to try it because the description sounded so lovely…who wouldn’t like light cocoa, vanilla, fig, and prune? I drank it gongfu-style with my pseudo gaiwan setup. I enjoyed eight infusions and I have to say this puerh is incredibly inoffensive. There is a strong creaminess that lasted throughout my session….so good! I bet this would be a great starter puerh, but it also makes me wonder if I hadn’t tried more pungent ones first whether I would truly have enjoyed this one as much as I did. The earthiness is there, but there are no sharp notes. I also detected the light cocoa, vanilla, and dried fruit notes. I think prune is a good characterization for the fruit note. Overall, this is my second favorite from the sampler, behind special dark. It’s not quite at “my precious!” level, but definitely a comforting cup!

Cameron B.

I’m a puerh novice and I loved this one. :D


So, it IS good for newbies!!! I’m pretty new too, but had tried a few before the mandala sampler and didn’t like them. There were a couple I couldn’t even drink the cup of before, so dumped the cup! The horror, I know! This sampler was such an awesome way to try a bunch of different ones. It really helped show me that puerh isn’t scary and there are a few I might like. :)


Sounds good. I’m looking forward to trying mine but haven’t had a chance yet.. I’ve been thinking about which of the ones in the sampler to try first – maybe this one. :)


It’s very pleasant, caile. I say, go for it!


caile It’s very gentle and not in your face like “I’M A SHUUUU”. It be a good one to start with :3

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drank Downy Sprout by Samovar
813 tasting notes

I had the pleasure today of going out to tea with some close coworkers, one of which is in high level management and has amazing advice. We decided to go to Samovar. The server was so surprised we were actually going to sit in for tea, because a few of us are known to drop in for a quick chai to go. Their chai is awesome! It was so relaxing to sit down today and enjoy the ambiance. We each ordered something different…a chai, an oolong, lapsang, and I ordered this tea. The manager with us ordered the lapsang with a little milk…interesting choice and I would say appropriate because she is quite bold, just like the tea. :)

On to this tea. They served it gaiwan-style, which is always nice, but I think they put in too much leaf because no matter how short I steeped the tea, it was always bitter. Ugh. I’ve had that problem before with an oolong of theirs served this way. If it hadn’t been bitter, I would have greatly enjoyed it. It has a very silky and thick mouthfeel and reminds me of buttery veggies. Honestly, it seemed closer to a green tea than a white tea. It was still pleasant to drink with friends but again, too much leaf.

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drank Special Dark by Mandala Tea
813 tasting notes

I think I’ve just fallen in love with a ripe puerh! How can that be? Wow, what a reversal! This tea definitely lives up to its name. It’s clearly “special!” I feel like Gollum right now….“my precious!”

This tea completely distracted me from the Filipino pastry (hopya, for those who know) I set out to eat. Ya, it’s that good!

15sec rinse, smells like chocolate!

30sec: earthy, sweet, unsweetened cocoa, dark chocolate bite rather than a sharp cedar or leather note, hint of dried fruit?

45 sec: so dark! unsweetened bakers chocolate, wood, plum, smells like vanilla.

1min: OMG, it smells even sweeter! I could just inhale this all day!

1min30sec: lighter in aroma, and then OMG, amazing taste…this just keeps getting better! Smoother, still bakers chocolate, bread-y.

2min: smells so sweet! Keeps getting smoother and sweeter. Honey, like honey wheat bread.

2min30sec: keeps lightening up, still honey sweetness, more smooth, vanilla.

3min: honey, vanilla.

5min: pure honey water! Yum!

I could drink this all day! It would be delicious with a scone…that’s key!! ;) This is a “must buy” for me. I’m so happy I enjoy a ripe puerh! Yay! :D

Thank you, Garret, for offering the sampler!

Okay, time to eat my hopya!


Shu makes me feel like “My precious” every time I drink it

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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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