1997 Tasting Notes

drank Cheesecake Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
1997 tasting notes

I had a matcha marathon! This was one of the flavors in my latest order that I had never tried. (Two were refills of old loves!)

I like cheesecake but I don’t love it unless it is the kind I make myself. I don’t want it dry and dense, or heavy. I actually prefer the easy, super creamy kind that has a sour cream, sugar, and vanilla topping on it.

One of the main aromas that hit me when I opened the pouch was vanilla. That is great, because I love vanilla!

(By the way, I haven’t seen anyone address the best way to open these pouches to prevent the loss of any precious matcha powder. These pouches are vacuum sealed so tapping it lightly on the counter is not going to jiggle the powder down lower. If you start cutting or tearing the pouch from the side a little poof of your matcha might escape, or even more.

There is a little half circle notch on top of the pouch. Make a tiny cut right there with scissors, just big enough to allow air to enter the package. Now the matcha powder will obey the call of gravity and go to the bottom of the pouch so you can safely cut a larger opening and pour it into your container without losing any!)

So on to the tea! We made hot matcha lattes and they were excellent! I think this would be awesome for mixing with MOST other flavors, too, to lend its creamy vanilla goodness. I really want to try this as a cold latte tomorrow. Almond matcha is still my favorite of all (right now!) but this is running a close second, maybe tied with butterscotch!

You can buy it here: http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/cheesecake-matcha.html


Have you ever tried Japanese cheesecake? It’s much lighter but still super creamy: http://en.christinesrecipes.com/2011/02/japanese-cheesecake-fluffy-creamy.html


I don’t think I have ever had that! I think one of my kids may have had it, though. Maybe I should give the recipe a try!

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I chose four puerh teas for Christmas from my hubby. Three were shu puerh, and one was a sheng.
Furthermore, this is a very young sheng. I chose it because I thought it would have tons of potential for aging based on its origins, and I confess also because the paper wrapper is beautiful and I love that a friend of Garret lent her talents and designed it!

I think the papers wrapped around puerh are beautiful. Perhaps they also look exotic to me because the language is completely mystifying! There are no letters we can pick out similar to ours, so no hope of finding a word or two similar to English or other languages we may speak. The message on the wrapper is a complete mystery to me! I save my wrappers because I hope to one day cover a tea chest in them.

Concerning wrappers, I also will probably never qualify to be a puerh con artist. You know, those people who buy expensive puerh, keep it, and wrap the nice wrapper around a cheap puerh and sell it for a lot of money? Well, I wouldn’t, but I also couldn’t, because I can never get the wrapper back on the cake with the beautiful tight pleats that it had to begin with! Deft and nimble hands wrapped these cakes! Maybe with practice….

I took Garret’s suggestion and poured some boiling water into my little pot. After the pot had warmed a moment, I poured out the water and added the leaf to the empty pot. I put the lid on for a few seconds and then lifted it and sniffed. Root vegetables! Rutabagas, I think! I am going to try this with a lot of my teas.

I gave the leaves a thirty second steep. There is still the root vegetable aroma, but it is milder and it isn’t “biting” at all. The liquor is a pale golden yellow. The flavor matches the aroma rather well. I am drinking the third steep now and there has been no diminishing of flavor. I think this would also be great with food.

I am really excited to be moving forward in my puerh journey. I hope to live a long time so I can try this tea over many years and see how it matures. I must say it is a well-behaved child, though. :)

Thank you, Garret and mrmopar, for helping me choose my Christmas tea!


Glad to read your notes Puerh Sis’tah! Such an interesting part of the tea world so we’ll have to share more samples and notes. Garrett should do a live chat!


I feel like we should have a place like one of those hep cat poetry bars! Heehee!


Save those wrappers when you’re through…there’s got to be a pu-erh-gami crafty thing you can do with them!


Grinning at your pun.

I have a bit of puerh in my sample box but haven’t gotten up the nerve to try it yet. I probably need to. My big sis is really into it and I suspect she’ll be sending more samples. It’s nice to know there are friends treading the path ahead of me.


MsWhatsit: Try it! I bet you will like it! I started with a fishy smelling tuo Cha from A Southern Season, a shu puerh that smelled bad but tasted okay and it did wonders for the tummy. Their loose puerh was better, but then I tried Teavivre’s Puerh and went WOW! The loose and the mini Tuocha I have had from them are very good. I like these from Garret a lot, too!


I am happy you enjoyed this tea! The experience of being at the farm where this was grown was truly satisfying. Super remote area, very high-altitude. It is exciting to see what has already happened to the flavor in just a short time since its pressing! Most customers are brewing it up as a green tea with lower water temps – 175,185… when in China we were brewing it up with a full boil and that makes for a whole other experience from the same leaf.

As far as “fishy” and “mushroomy, briny” smells issuing from some ripe pu’er, that can happen…. though if the leaf is well produced, that smell goes away not long after production. If tea is poorly ripened (as well as stored improperly) that smell may never dissipate.

@Bonnie – a live chat? How about a LOVE chat :) ? As in I’d love to do a live chat!!! How to do it??


I’ve done it with another group in Google Chrome Live Chat where there’s a time set and invite sent. You just join in and everyone can see each other at the same time. The topic was selected ahead of the meeting. People joined in from around the world. All free! We did this on Sunday at 3pm because of time zones.


Ok Garrett! Now everyone knows that you have a thing for Puerh lovin older women! (or maybe just me) Ha! Make the rest of you jealous!


Hmmmm… Bonnie, I’m not sure if I know of any older women on here!! Y’all seem young and spry to me!!! Happy New Year to you!! May 2013 see you feeling great and experiencing all the joy you can stand!!! Many hugs and bright blessings!!


Happy New Year Garrett!


Mswhatsit, I’m still a pu-erh rookie too, but I’m wimping into it by leaning toward flavored pu-erhs. Sort of like training wheels.


That’s right, Garret! We are bright and sassy like a young sheng, but smooth and mellow like a mature pu! :D

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drank Almond Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
1997 tasting notes

I debated long and hard about getting the almond matcha. I love almond scent in hand lotions and such, but my mother never ever used almond extract and I never had anything flavored with it until I was grown. I have never had marzipan that I can recall though I had a marzipan chocolate bar that was quite good that my daughter picked up in Budapest or somewhere.

When I was young, I became friends with a man who owned a Chinese restaurant. He served a dessert drink called Toasted Almond. If I remember correctly, it contained Amaretto, Creme de Cacao, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a bit of milk, and ice shavings tossed in a blender. There was possibly a bit of sugar added. Bottom line – it was intoxicatingly delicious. Literally. Because there was alcohol in it but it was so good you wanted to have three in a row, which fortunately I did not do.

Yesterday, my bestie and I had a matcha marathon! I got a bamboo whisk and an aerolatte for Christmas so we were experimenting. We made an almond matcha latte – just cold milk, a spoon of Turbinado sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of matcha. Yummy!

Then my son and his girlfriend came. I amped it up for them. This is how I made two servings at once: Two scoops Breyer’s Lactose Free Vanilla Ice Cream (because it tastes sweeter due to the lactose being broken down), milk, a tablespoon of sugar,
and a teaspoon of almond matcha.

One second their glasses were full, the next – empty! They said it reminded them of an expensive dessert drink they had at a fancy Italian restaurant near where my son lives.

I think I have found my favorite matcha flavor! I am so glad I bought the large as I have a feeling this drink is going to be much in demand throughout the holidays! I chose Robust flavor level, as always! Here is where to get it:



Have you tried the amaretto?


No, should I? I think this one is already amazing! :) I have had two lattes today already!


Thanks for sharing your experience. Macha is another one of those things I’m gathering up my courage to try.


DO IT! DO IT!!! My suggestion is to start with strawberry and caramel matcha. Those two are spectacular!


Oh, yes! Caramel! That is my hubby’s favorite and I love love love the way it smells.

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Another Christmas tea! Yay!

I started this one last night. I used Granny Stella’s tomato knife to work a chunk about the size of a teaspoon off of the brick. I notice this is called an iron cake. I haven’t heard that term before, so perhaps Garret and/or mrmopar will enlighten us?

My husband and son joined me drinking this one. They would have bailed on me if there had been any fishy odor. This tea has none.

I steeped this for forty seconds at first, increasing to sixty seconds for the fourth and fifth steeps, which is where I am right now.

The color was deep at first but not inky black. This is a medium strength flavor, not knock you down powerful but not subtle either. It has the horsey profile I like.

I am such a newbie at puerh that I have trouble distinguishing between the good ones. I can tell a bad one easily enough! I am trying very hard to learn to distinguish between cedar, mushroom, earth, leaves, and wood.

The main thing that came to my mind as I drank this was “nature.” Not wilderness nature but perhaps a large farm bordered by woods with fields of grazing horses. There is the horse farm scent to this, but added to it are leaves crunching underfoot as you walk, breathing in fresh, clean air. Sometimes I get a hint of caramel in this one. Steep four had a little cedar oil richness coating my mouth. Steep number five is still going strong so I will probably continue working with this teaspoon of leaves, and soon I will try it with more leaf and shorter steeps.

Of the three teas I have tried from the Mandala order, they are all very good and I would not be able at this point in my puerh education to tell them apart if I were drinking them “blind.” But I can say with certainty that I enjoy drinking every one of them and look forward to sharing many cups of these teas with family and friends.


What matters is that you’re enjoying your journey into puerh! I look forward to reading your reviews for when i decide to start down that path :)


Like you, I can’t tell the good ones apart. I did recently revisit some of the first that I really liked and found them now to be lacking. I guess there is hope for us.

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I had a late supper of Asian buffet leftovers. I made a pot of this just for me because it is excellent with food, especially Asian food, and so smooth and wonderful. One of my “if you can only have ten teas” list winners.

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Another Christmas present!

I want some tea before driving up to Raleigh to pick up my daughter at the airport. She has been in a bit of a white tea kick, so I guess that is why this one was on my mind.

I checked out the recommended steeping instructions on the tin. Thank you, thank you, Hugo Tea, for putting those on there. It gives us a starting place to find our own favorite way. It calls for one tablespoon of leaf to eight ounces of water and when I open the tin I see why. These are big leaves! They don’t look like typical tea, but more like what you pick out of your socks after raking the yard. All that fluffy means you need more leaf! It reminds me in appearance of a Shou Mei (SooMe) white tea I had a while back.

Oh my gosh! This is fantastic! Reading their description of the tea made me think I was going to have to hunt for flavor unless I wanted to pretend I was having a nice cuppa hot water, but this is so flavorful and good. It is sweet and smooth, a little bit creamy, a little mineral, a little tiny bit buttery, a bit floral, a lot good.

Hubby downed his cup before I could sip mine once and he asked for another, so I immediately went in and made a second steep.

Home run, Hugo Tea. Home run.



Hugo Tea Company

Great! This Bai Mu Dan tends to be creamy, with a weighty mouth-feel than most that we’ve sourced/tasted. We are quite proud of it—but even more pleased that you enjoy it so much.

Thank you!

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This is one of my Christmas present cakes from hubby! We drank it tonight while playing Star Trek Settlers of Catan with my son and godson.

First of all, I have had loose puerh and mini Tuocha in the past. I liked puerh right from the first time I tried it, even though the first ones I bought at A Southern Season were really fishy smelling. (Not fishy tasting, though.)

Tuocha are easy! Just drop it in! Getting the amount you need detached from the cake is a challenge and I don’t have a puerh pick or knife. I had read that a butter knife would do and that is what I used last night but it didn’t work so well.

Tonight I tried Granny Stella’s tomato knife, a cheap little white knife my husband got when his granny died. It has a serrated edge and a very pointy tip for piercing.

Now I don’t know if this cake is not as compact and hard as the other one, but that knife worked a treat and in no time I had pried off what I needed for steeping.

I am not an experienced and learned puerh drinker, though I hope to be some day, but I can give my impression of this. It was not fishy at all. It was rather mild and the liquor lighter than others I have tried. I used only a little leaf in an eight ounce pot and we got about six steeps that were pretty good strength from it. I was keeping it around thirty seconds per steep. A final steep was really pale but still tasted nice.

This is very good, and I think it would be a great unflavored puerh to start the fearful on the path.

Many thanks to mrmopar and Garret for their help in choosing my Christmas teas!


A cheese knife also works well.


Perfect! I watched the video on the Verdant website about how to break pieces of puerh off the cake which I found helpful. (check without videos I wouldn’t know what I’m doing!)


YAY! So happy that you have been enjoying this tea, my dear!! This last trip to China I had a ton of my favorite breaking knives yet and had them shipped here after the trip. This new knife works like a dream for even the most tightly of compressed cakes. Here is the link to it so you know what I’m a talkin’ about: http://shopmandalatea.com/tea-wares/tea-accessories/fine-breaking-pick.html
The only problem with the Phatty Cake that I can see is that I only had 400 of them pressed. It is our 2nd best-selling ripe tea so far and it’s too late to press more. Gonna try to source more of the leaf. May your days be merry and bright!!!


agreed this is good tea! glad you liked it ashmanra.

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This is one of the teas I received for Christmas from my eldest daughter. She must have heard us throwing around the words Lapsang Souchong back when her youngest sibling was having withdrawals from it when we briefly ran out and the Steepster community pitched in and sent her lots of samples so she could choose a favorite to order!

Well, with “Crocodile” in the name, I was a leetle bit scared! I looked it up to see if there was some special reason for the name and the only explanation I found was that Crocodile usually comes from Taiwan instead of China, is the most heavily smoked, and that explorers and adventurers found it tasty. I guess they must be the sort of people most likely to run into a crocodile?

I never considered myself an explorer or an adventurer but I guess would fit right in with them because this is great stuff! I do not find it significantly smokier than Black Dragon. The tea base is nice, the tea overall is smooth, and there is a fresh, clean taste.

The smoke is…tarry? There are a couple of teas that I will drink but truthfully they smell like ashtray to me. Not this one. This smells like you have been grilling food that is marinated with a sweet sauce, like ham glaze and brown sugar, and part of it got overdone. This is that blackened edge – a little crispy but oh so good and still sweet to the taste, with chargrilled flavor mixed with the blackened, thick sugar sauce.

Doulton would love this. I miss her! Hey, maybe Hesper June should try it!


I miss her too. I think about her often, and hope all is well with her.


Sounds amazing, really like something I’d love very much

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My first puerh cake! I have been really excited about getting these for Christmas. I knew in advance because hubby had me pick the tea I wanted and he did offer to let me try it early, but I waited!

I wasn’t sure how good this first try would be because I took the wrapper and shook off the loose leaf. Then I struggled to pry off a bit of leaf but was really bad at it! I did manage to get about a teaspoon loose and started steeping in my smallest pot.

I was going to rinse but I tasted the rinse and it was good, so I drank it! I did thirty second steeps at first and then increased by just a little for number four. The first steeps are fresh, clean, bright, and horsey, just how I like it. Steep four had chocolate notes! Steep five…oops. I was cooking and doing other things and there is no telling how long it steeped. Several minutes at the very least. But it is still drinkable, and not just drinkable but good!

I am really looking forward to drinking all these puerhs with friends and family for a long time.


sounds good to me!


glad you liked this one it is a favorite of mine! merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas! I do like this one – very much!


you are quite welcome! .. welcome to the dark mysterious world of pu-erh.


sounds yummy!!


You are doomed! We are puerh zombies! Love It!


I have had loose puerh and mini tuo Cha, but having the cakes makes me feel all grown up. LOL! Which probably means I’m not, but I think they are so cool!


Me too! Like displaying art! I can see how a person could get addicted…so pretty and exotic looking!


uuuhhhh zombie want your pu-erh……..good stuff! this pu-erh!

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Merry Christmas, everyone! It has been a very tea-full Christmas for me! One of my gifts from hubby was this tea, so among the many new teas I thought I should choose this one, just because of the name, as the first. I will continue to take tea journeys throughout the day.

On opening the tin I gave the leaves a good sniff. The aroma wasn’t powerful, but it was the kind that makes you growl jus’ a lil’ bit. Kind of like when you see George Clooney in a tux. Niiiice.

I thought I detected Assam in this, and sometimes Assam doesn’t like me. I kept a close eye on the steeping and checked it at 3 minutes. Nope. Needs more time. I gave it a minute and a half more.

Aaaahh. This is a bright cup of tea. It is really hard to describe. It isn’t strong like the Assams that give me tummy ache, those sharp teas that make my tongue curl up and try to hide. It is fresh and clean, there is a nice pure metallic taste – that melting frost taste I usually may find in green or white tea. And malt. And…muscat grape?

I don’t pick up any puerh taste like Azzrian. The fruitiness makes me wonder if there is some Darjeeling in here?

This is a great wake up cup, civilized, smooth, and the drying effect on the tongue builds gradually as you drink instead of assaulting you. (I guess you can tell I have been traumatized by Yorkshire Gold and the like.) It did not need milk and sugar for me. I did try it that way just so I could report the effect but I preferred it plain. A little milk was fine, but sugar did nothing to add to it for me. I generally don’t put sugar in my tea so those who do might prefer it that way. This is sweet enough for me as is!

A very nice offering, Hugo Tea!

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I am a music teacher and homeschooling mom who started drinking loose leaf tea about five years ago! My daughters and I have tea every day, and we are frequently joined by my students or friends for “tea time.” Now my hubby joins us, too. His tastes have evolved from Tetley with milk and sugar to mostly unadorned greens and oolongs.

We have learned so much history, geography, and culture in this journey.

My avatar is a mole in a teacup! Long story…


North Carolina

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