435 Tasting Notes


This is a tea that came from a swap with Dexter3657.

A small portion of our swap was devoted to “odd choices”, stuff we thought was weird or different, whether we felt they were good or bad.

I already knew this buckwheat tea was a favourite of hers. I love buckwheat as a flour, makes awesome pancakes. But to think of it as a tea, not really. But I will try anything, so of course I’m happy she sent it since it’s not something I would ever go out of my way to buy.

It’s odd looking, like tiny little caramel crunch. You know I have to do it. You would to the same. I just took a pinch and threw it in my mouth. Crispy yummy. I think we’re on to something pretty tasty.

I followed Dexter’s instruction and brewed 5 min in boiling water.

Oh! This is definitely buckwheat pancakes in a cup, but with a big nutty toasted twist! Oh, and it reminds me of Genmaicha, without the tea, just a full cup of delicious roasted grain. I will have fun with what’s left, I will create my own Buckwheat Genmaicha with some delicious Sencha. I think it would be fantastic with some Yunnan Black as well.

I can’t thank you enough for this Dexter, this is being added to the shopping list!

(Yes, another favourite!)


love this one!


You are a genius!!! but I’m voting for Laoshan Black – or something equally as chocolaty…. maybe even special dark…. It’s nutty, roasty, grainy goodness – what’s not to love. (I like it with a little milk and sweet – it’s like kids cereal in a mug…)
So happy that you like it!!!!


Lol, I just drank Laoshan Black Genmaicha for the first time last night and didn’t even think of that one, of course it’s gonna work…will try both tonight I think, Teavivre’s Yunnnan and after Laoshan Black to compare. Lol, I will need a tin cause I also want to try Taiwanese Wild Mountain Black from Butiki. Sky is the limit!
Do you ever second steep it?

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Sorry Steepster, I’ve been in such a blah mood lately, I kind of deserted everything around me, even my dear Steepster friends, so sorry :-(

Today was a YAY day as I received my Verdant order. I was impatiently waiting for the new Laoshan Black. For sure, it was going to be the first one I try. But I had to open the box first.

I don’t know what type of “tea box un-wrapper” you are:

Type A) you carefully open the box with a sharp knife, and take out the pouches one by one, checking and matching everything with the packing slip, then, happy with yourself, put everything away in a very tidy manner. You WILL NOT open the pouches until you decide to drink your new tea, which might be in a couple of weeks or even months from now.

Type B) you literally rip the box open, I mean with your bare hands. You fetch everything out in a very frantic manner. You don’t care if it matches the packing slip or not, it’s new tea and it’s all you care about. You gather all the pouches in one big pile and you circle them with your arms, eyeballs out of their sockets, you whisper to them “all mine, all mine, my precious!!”
You will not wait any longer to open all the pouches, no method whatsoever to your madness, you just go from one to the other, trying to figure out which one smells best and which one should land in your cup as of RIGHT NOW! By the end of the evening, you’ll be tea drunk and will have tried them all.

Well, maybe you guessed already…I’m type B. This is how I roll and I won’t apologize for it.

Now back to the order and my tea choice. After a spectacular type B grand opening, I throw myself on Laoshan Black Chocolate Genmaicha cause the smell, oh my, the smell…freakin unreal!!!

It’s so chocolate, so Laoshan Black, so nutty and crispy toasted rice, it’s the bomb people!
It,s like having Laoshan Black with Rice Krispies squares, just in a more fancy and sophisticated way, so yummy!

Enough said, just try it for yourself :-)

P.S. Thanks again Verdant for such a pleasant shopping experience as always, you guys are wonderful!


Ok, to answer your survey I’m type b;)


Lol, Go team B :-)


Type B – especially with Mandala and Verdant boxes


I’m type C. I do a little of A and a little of B. :-)


I loved this note and am glad you’re back!


MzPriss, Agreed!

Haha, Morgana, didn’t think of a type C, you are so balanced :-)

Thank you my dear Keychange, missed ya ;-)


I’m going to have to get a fresh batch, clearly!


I haven’t tried this yet – but since I’m almost sobbing over the fact that regular Laoshan Black is currently out of stock, maybe I should try some of this because yeah I NEED another tea to obsess over


Yep include me in the B section also.


MzPriss you should definitely give it a shot, new tea obsession is always a good thing!!

Hope you have more luck with a new batch whatshesaid :-)

Mrmopar, though I do enjoy being a type B, I so admire type A for their restraint and self control!!


Hmmmmmm – am I the only A around here?


(I love this tea – Laoshan black with Rice Krispy squares is a really good comparison)


Hi! I’m also B. :)


Haha, I’m like Morgana – a bit of both, type C


B, B!! :D I do go back and match teas up to my packing slip/order, but only after I roll around in them.


Dexter, don’t feel bad, you’re in a league of your own and we all want to be like you when we finally grow up :-)

Haha! Omgsrsly, I forgot about the “roll around in them” part!


I’ll have to say I’m a bit of both as well… so call me type C. :)

What a fun conversation this turned into!


I have enough to build a small house around me!


Suziqzer, yes it quite funny :-)

Mrmopar, more realistically, I’d go for a decent size cottage…but that’s just me.


Yep Type B over here! haha
Now I also want to try this tea! I haven’t ordered from this company before so I should give them a try.

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I got a big “Phatty” sample of this pu’erh from Dexter3657. Used the whole thing in a little gongfu glass pot so I could watch the particles break apart.

This is pu-pu-nom-nom goodness. It’s everything I love from a shou pu’erh! A little earthy, a little sweet, with a minty fresh finish.

The truth is, mini gungfu shots are just not doing it for me tonight, cause I want mooore of it right now!!!

Sorry for the “pu-rists”, but I dumped everything into a large infuser and steeped in a 16oz mug. Let me tell you, I am now unapologetically gulping it down as if there was no tomorrow. A satisfied fairy, that’s what a I am…sorry Mandala for such an incomplete review but sometimes, you need to keep things simple and just let the tea shine for you :-)

Thank you so much Dexter for sharing this with me!


Yay, glad you liked it. This isn’t my favorite Mandala pu’erh, but even just ok Mandala pu’erh is just amazing compared to most others I’ve tried.


Well, i’m still sipping on it, really enjoying it.


Have you tried it cold steeped?


No, I have not, cause I just used the whole sample at once tonight, but I plan on cold steeping the used leaves. I’m guessing you have?

Terri HarpLady

I like my Shu’s made western sometimes too. So rich, so robust, so YUM!


I do shus western a lot


I’m not sure I’ve cold steeped this one, but in general I cold steep used pu’erh leaves – love cold steeped pu’erh. You said you cold steep your oolongs – just wondering if you do the pu’erhs too.


Tea-riffic! I frequently brew up shu loud and proud before a workout or a run. In HUGE pots for lots of hydration :) Can’t walk around with 1 ounce cups without spilling, after all. Sometimes you just need a big-ass mug of shu pu’er. Your review is perfect!


Aww! Just saw your comment Garrett, thank you ;-)

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I have only a few more samples left from the wonderful bunch Sil sent me back in Decenber…it seems that I saved the best for last.

This has an amazing aroma…it really came as a burst as soon as I removed the lid of the gaiwan. And guess what? It tastes even better!

It’s floral but not in a bouquet kind of way, just a delicate linger…also fruity, fig like.

Some caramel as well and a subtle nuttiness that wraps and ties everything together.

It feels round in the mouth, thick and voluptuous. I think it’s one of the finest Wuyi I have had for sure.

I stopped reading just to make sure I would fully focus all my attention to it. It’s that good. I had 4 delious steeps and will now cold brew the leaves for tomorrow…

Thanks Sil, this was lovely :-)

Dog and tea story…(skip if not interested)

My dog Dexter is a snob. I always say he’s an “AristoDog”, basically he acts like he’s Royalty. He doesn’t like to get messy, spring time, he tries to avoid stepping in mud, and if he does (which inevitably is bound to happen), he licks himself till he’s got no more saliva.
And Dexter likes his comfort. Yes, he’s allowed on the couch. He has special cushions that he grabs and carefuly places at stategic spots so he can morph into a sophisticated potato couch. This is a typical illustration of his concept for comfort:


There’s one thing missing though: his “doux-doux” (French prononced “doo-doo” in English). “Doux” means soft. In my family, we’ve been calling our favourite special throws/blankets a “doux-doux” ever since we were little children. I still love special blankets, have several all over the house and ready to be used when sitting in front of a fire, or just to lounge on the couch, a book in one hand, a cup of tea in the other. Dexter has his own doux-doux, the same one since he was just a puppy. He carries it with him pretty much everywhere. When I wash it, he looks for it everywhere.

Today was a lounge doux-doux day for the both of us… I grabbed mine, he grabbed his, and we had a cup of this wonderful tea. I say “we” cause while I was sipping, he kept trying to get into my cup, literally…totally unlike him!

But there’s something about this intoxicating aroma that tantalized his canine nostrils it seems…well I don’t blame him, this stuff is irresistible!


What a cute story!


OMG I love his eyes, sad eyes. he really looks like blue blood. its doberman right?


When you cold steep the leftover leaves, how long do you have to leave them steeping?


So adorable! And he does look pretty comfortable with all his pillows!


Thanks Keychange!

Boychik, that’s his sad puppy face, he probably does it on purpose just to get the attention, he seems to love the camera, lol! Here’s his happy face, and yes, he’s an “un-cropped” Doberman :-)

Marzipan, I cold brew used leaves in mason jars for about 24h, but I suggest you just taste along the way and decide when it’s enough for you. New leaves, I will normally do 12 hours, depending on the tea. Don’t hesitate if you have other questions :-)


So glad you enjoyed this. I was hoping you would :)


Caile, yes, he’s quite a lucky puppy I’d say…but I’m a lucky owner as well, he’s such a great companion :-)

Sil yep, totally my style, thanks :-)


I love the floppy ears!!!


Puppy! :) So cute!


Dexter is so so so cute and I love that you didn’t crop his ears. My dogs like to get in bed with me in the morning while i drink tea and sniff my tea mug.


I learned a new vocabulary word! Doux-doux. Love it. We use woobie and huggy interchangeably for the same sort of item.


He’s beautiful – awesome when you get to have lazy lounging days with your pets!!!


Thanks guys :-)
Stephanie & MzPriss: floppy ears are not common for Dobermans, the breeder was pressuring me to have his ears cropped when I got him at 3 months old, but just didn’t have the heart to do that to him. I’m glad I didn’t!
Haha! I see your dogs can appreciate a good cuppa also :-)

Gmathis, I love woobie, I’ll try to remember that!

Dexter, those are my favourite days…I know you enjoy them also :-)

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This is surprisingly tasty. I say surprisingly, cause I did not expect it to be so tasty. “Ombrelle de papier” evokes something fragile, shy, and innocent.

This tea is bold and fruity, despite its white base. I brewed all at once the big sample Dexter3657 sent me. She wrote that it had a hint of rhubarb so it fitted my likings. Well she was right, it does (I love rhubarb!!) But pineapple and rhubarb, who would have thought? I started having it hot, but as it was cooling down, I got the impression this would be better cold. So I put my mason jar mug in the fridge and got busy…

We’ve had a tremendous amount of snow here in the last two days. Winter is not ending, it’s still very cold on top of things.

I’ve had a lot to deal with for many months now, health and emotional issues. Still not over. All those circumstances have made me tired and lazy. I haven’t worked out in a long time, putting it off until I feel better or waiting for more clement weather. Excuses, really. I know I’m tougher than that. Weather issues? Really Fairy??? How bout having access to a full gym…downstair in the basement! What’s your excuse now? Pain, fatigue? Some people train with serious injuries, some have serious handicaps and still train… So there. No more excuses.

I used to find relief and pleasure in exercise not so long ago. In a few weeks, I know I’ll
be back on my bike, ready to ride, but I have to get back in shape first. So today was the day. Treadmill, spin session, and Pilates recliner.

Lol, all with moderation of course, I do have to be able to walk tomorrow! It feels so good right now, I got the fix of endorphins I’ve been craving so much, and mostly, I feel proud of myself, something I haven’t felt in way too long. Yay for me :-)

Time try this iced tea! So good, juicy and quenching, my training tea of the day!

Thank you Dexter :-)


Glad you liked it.

Look at you go!!! WOW, that’s great that you are feeling better and getting those endorphins working for you. Yes all in moderation, but be proud of every little step forward. :))


Thanks, Nike has this one right, feels good to Just do it ;-)


bravo Mme la fée du thé :) take care

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You know when you place an order, there’s a point when and you realize your cart is really getting full and you need to slow down…but there are so many good ones that you just can’t leave behind, right? Then you think sample size. Yes! Yes! That’s the answer, give yourself the illusion you’ve got your act together, you’re NOT out of control, not at all. You suddenly feel much better about adding 10 more teas, seems like the reasonable thing to do. (Not!!)

That’s how I came to order this tea. I should have been less reasonable and order a larger quantity…That’s the other thing about large orders. Somehow, the full size pouches are the ones I wish I had ordered in sample sizes, and the sample pouches end up being the ones I should have ordered in full sizes. Ugh???

Not a secret, I love pretty much all types of oolong, and the aged ones fascinate me.

Don’t let the Ginseng part keep you away from this if you’re not a fan, (coughDexter) this has nothing to do with regular ginseng oolong. If it wasn’t for its name, I wouldn’t even know it’s supposed to be there.

This is not smoky at all, but roasty and caramel like. If you’d smell the infusion without knowing it’s tea, you would think it’s a dessert, very creme brûlée, custard like. There’s that faint mineral taste in the background I have come to appreciate. The ending has a cooling effect in the mouth, fresh, but not in a minty kind of way, just like when you inhale and it’s cold outside. That might be the ginseng part. But it has non of the eucalyptus notes traditional Ginseng oolongs have.

I had to basket brew cause there wasn’t enough for me to use the gaiwan. It will be interresting to try short infusions when I get more of it.

And yes, I will definitely buy a larger quantity next time.


Dexter was drinking EG earlier and is trying to be open minded to all the teas that you sent me. :))


The answer to your “the full size pouches are the ones I wish I had ordered in sample sizes, and the sample pouches end up being the ones I should have ordered in full sizes” issue is to just order small sizes of everything and then place later orders of the ones you really liked. Just saying….


Lol, I so give you A++++++ for effort, I do put you to the test, don’t I!

As for your suggestion, if I was normal, that’s totally what I would do…but I’m “tea-challenged”, my neurones just don’t function adequately and rationally when it comes to ordering tea!

Terri HarpLady

Me ordering tea: “but what if I only get a sample, & I love it so much, & then I found out it’s sold out?”


terri – incentive to drink up sample sizes faster when you buy them heh


Haha! Terri: EXACTLY!!!!

Sil: I checked your cupboard, me think you do need every incentive you can get ;-)


hey! I’m doing well! only 6 more teas to finish to have a cupboard that’s only 6 months old! (and that’s within april)


Lol, well… maybe I was tea drunk and had a cupboard hallucination, but I could have sworn I ‘ve seen your stash at 140 not that loog ago…
(psst…there’s a rumour circulating that machiavellian but very nice and generous Steepsterites are trying to sabotage your cupboard…beware!)


haha it was UNDER 140 like a week ago lol I’ll get there though! I won’t make my March goal BUT, I did stick to NO orders during a month where i didn’t hit my goal. So that’s good :)

Terri HarpLady

(pssst…I’ve already started another box for her…heh)


terri…i’ve got a box for you that is ALMOST full enough to send :P


Haha! Hilarious Terri…

Lol, Sil, make sure it barely closes!

(I feel like a referee)


teafairy…totally! :)

Terri HarpLady

Teafairy, every box we send each other barely closes. Actually, the last box I sent to Sil was 2 boxes, hahahahahaha


You two are so amusing :-)


terri – i just considered that payback for me sending 2 boxes at christmas lol

Terri HarpLady

Yeah, I’m still working my way through those offerings :)

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drank Boléro by Mariage Frères
435 tasting notes

This afternoon, I needed a tea that wouldn’t require much work and that would cheer me up a little.

This is a sample from Dexter3657 and she wrote «…seems like something you would like.»

We shall see…

First, the dry leaf smells divine and like most french blends, it’s so pretty to look at. Only knowing it’s a fruity black, I tried to identify the flavours from the scent. It’s very strawberry like, with something tropical, I would say papaya or passion fruit. Turns out none of those are in this blend, lol! It’s a peach and apricot tea and it does taste like it once brewed.

It’s so fruity, but in a clean and natural kind of way. The aroma of this infusion is like walking through a peach field, surrounded by beautiful blooming peach trees… that’s what I imagine peach blossoms must smell like.

It’s a lot more peachy than apricot-y. There’s suppose to be fig somewhere but I can,t detect it at all. The base is also very decent.

It’s so mellow, I let it infused 6 minutes and no trace of astringency or bitterness whatsoever.

Dexter was right, it was something I really liked, and I’m using what’s left for a cold brew,

Thanks Dex :-)


Yay – I thought you would like this one!!! Glad it fit your tastes and mood today. :))


this is a lovely tea, with a kind of frightening mellowness to me.
very weird but glorious. It is a success used for a cold brew as well

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Thank you Angel from Teavivre for sending so many samples, you truly are an angel!

I like things that are unusual. I could not wait to get my hands on this tea, and I see I’m the first one to log it, so I’ll try to do a good job at it…

It came in one of those little sample pouches Teavivre uses. I’m having the full sample, I really want to get lots of flavour. There are several large pieces of orange peel mixed with the pu’erh leaf, it’s really pretty to look at.

It is recommended to brew 6 to 8 minutes! That scares me a little but I go for it.

The liquor is coffee dark. Surprisingly, that much leaf and such a long seep time did not produce an overly strong infusion, it is just perfect!

The flavouring process is quite unique, this is some info collected from Teavivre’s website :

«Meet this creative pu-erh tea: it is made of ripened pu-erh tea leaves with Chenpi. Dig out the pulp in the orange, then fill in the empty space with aged ripened pu-erh tea leaves. After drying and shaping, the Chenpi tea was made in the appearance of tangerine, with unique taste».

Honestly, I’m not tasting much of the orange, it’s there but very distant. It does have a unique taste though, very unusual. It’s not “fishy” at all, very smooth and chocolaty. There’s a molasses feel to it. It’s bready, in a rye bread kind of way.

I think this would please a lot of coffee lovers, it is such a rich flavourful cup it could easily become a favourite of the morning.

As it cools down, I can now taste a lot more of the orange, a light and fresh astringency is emerging, nothing unpleasant, on the contrary.

The leaves have a lot more to give and I will sip on this tea for the rest of the evening…

I’m so grateful I got to try this very special tea, thanks again Angel!

Terri HarpLady

I’ll have to give that one a try next time I order from Teavivre :)


Yep, another one on the shopping list for me too ;-)

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drank Special Dark by Mandala Tea
435 tasting notes

This morning, I’ve been sipping on Special Dark. It’s my second review of it.

You know a tea is good when at the end of your cup, just to make sure you’re not leaving one tiny drop behind, you make a slurping sound that could totally compete with your vacuum cleaner.

I was in the mood for a decadent cocoa mouthfeel and that’s what I got. I like to steep it longer than suggested, not that there’s anything wrong with the predetermined parameters, but just because I can achieve a more bittersweet dark chocolate taste that way.

I still get raisiny notes as well, dried fruits.

I broke 3, yes, 3 Yixing clay pots in a short while. (Expensive habit).

Now that I have replaced them all, I’m very carefully preparing for the seasoning. One will be dedicated to oolong, one for Sheng and one for Shou. This being my favourite shou pu’erh of the moment, it’s been elected to serve as my seasoning tea. It brakes my heart to sacrifice it, but it’s an investment that will pay back I’m sure :-)

(Have to remember to order more than one once next time!)

Sami Kelsh

MAN, that’s a lot of clay pots :(

I’ve had the same horrible £5 value range plastic kettle from Morrisons since last May. Also this tea sounds magnificent.


Hey Sami, next time I break 3 pots in a row, I’m switching to £5 plastic kettle, no questions, lol!
I’m just as much of teaware junkie as I am for tea, very bad habit…

Sami Kelsh

I expect I would be if I had, like, an income! I miss having more than 4 mugs :p

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Time to update this profile of mine…it’s 2015!!

I am French Canadian, so please forgive me if my English is not always perfect :-/

My relationship with tea in a nutshell:

I’m married to straight Black. I have torrid love affairs with Oolong and Puerh. I party with Green and White occasionally. Flavored are not my BFF, I usually stay away from them.

Love Steepster, a place for tea lovers, where you learn and share with others.

About me:

I am a free spirit, I let people be who they are and expect the same in return.

Books! I love classic literature, but also modern and pretty much anything that captures my attention.

Music is also something I can’t live without… From Bach to Nirvana, my ears know no boundaries…

Animal and nature lover, amateur photographer.

I’ve been drinking tea for as long as I can remember.

Drinking tea is a sensorial experience. The name in itself “Camellia Sinensis” lingers the promess of an adventure for the senses…

Not a big «swapper», but will occasionally. Not because I don’t want to share but because I’m trying not to hoard so much.

Also, I have narrowed down the teas I really like over the years, and I don’t feel the need to try and buy everything the way I used to. (Maybe I have become a tea snob? Sigh…)

My ratings: because I pretty much drink only teas that I judge exceptional, my ratings are usually high. Don’t be shocked to see lots of 90’s and a few 100’s. That’s because I’ve had my share of crapy teas and I’m done with that ;-)

You can find me on Instagram here, I post about my tea sessions mostly, but also about the beautiful nature that surrounds me, and my fury companions :-)



The Laurentians, Canada

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