674 Tasting Notes

I’ve had this tea for awhile, unopened. I was saving it for a special occasion, which wasn’t planned, but ended up being today.

The side-effects associated with migraine and fibromyalgia take over from time to time, and there’s not much I can do about it. Sleeplessness and depression are the two symptoms that I’m glad to get over with the fastest. Physical pain is easy to handle by comparison.
Today I woke up and reached for my Kindle Fire next to the bed. My daughter had a new entry on Facebook with a link to her blog that began with this quote:

“Stand at the brink of the abyss of despair, and when you see that you cannot bear it anymore, draw back a little and have a cup of tea” ~Elder Sophrony of Essex

Then she went on to quote me (shock):
My mother reminds me often that tea has a way of keeping you in the moment. It’s not like coffee which in our society is meant to keep you always moving forward.
Tea encourages the partaker to sit down and rest a moment. It is a sort of “reset” button for the weary.
If we push ourselves beyond what we can bear for the sake of being strong, we will fall over, teacup and all, and find staring up from the darkness of the abyss… far more terrifying than standing at the brink.

(Hum, I thought…something from an Elder (Monk) and my daughter to think about in the middle of my depression, and I went about my morning…considering those words from time to time.)

At about 4PM, I couldn’t figure out where the time had gone. I felt foggy headed and the depression had closed in on me.

I remembered the quote from the Elder (Monk) and went to my tea cupboard…rummaging about until I found the one unopened SPECIAL OCCASION tea that I had left.

Standing on the edge of the cliff as I was, seemed a great time for Hand Picked Spring Tieguanyin!

Without a care for the opinion of others, I smelled the leaves. They reminded me of the many years of art classes, the sweet scent of oil paint on my brushes and canvas (and on me).

When I rinsed the leaves, I was washing the gloom away with tea liquor like a new ritual, washing my hands and face with it’s pale perfume.

Each leaf was so dark I wouldn’t imagine it had seen more than the most gentle rays of sunshine.

I drank the tea.

Beautiful, delicate orchid, cool spearmint like a pool of mountain water…honey cream…that made me sit in another moment different than the one I had been in before.

Drinking the tea, I drew back from the ledge and the sadness was interrupted.

Through cups and cups, I continued to let the tea lift my spirit.
(Not only through the way natural chemicals in tea helps the brain, but through the exceptional flavor of this particular tea.)

Time and again, tea has come to my aid when my body gets the best of me.

I’m feeling…better!


Bonnie, I have said many times that the smell of many oolongs reminds me of paint. You expressed it much more elegantly! I even asked at a tea shop if there was a special word for what I was smelling, but they didn’t have an answer for me. Strong vanilla and paint but as a super addicting smell, that is what I get, so I just call it oolong smell now.


Thank you for this beautiful note, Bonnie. I always have difficulty describing the oolong smell too and your description is lovely.


Whew! I’m not crazy! I have company!


Or we’re all crazy…..! :D


Tea is comfort!! I’m glad you’re feeling better now, paint smell and all xo


Thank you xxoo


lovely and well spoken…seems to be a hallmark of yours…it wasn’t till you wrote it that it occurred to me the ‘paint’ aroma is terpeniod (like the scent of linseed oil and turpentine that has built up on a paint rag and imbued it)….thought the wiki notation was science nerdy and might be interesting to share :
The terpenoids (pron.: /ˈtɜrpɨnɔɪd/ TUR-pə-noyd), sometimes called isoprenoids, are a large and diverse class of naturally occurring organic chemicals similar to terpenes, derived from five-carbon isoprene units assembled and modified in thousands of ways. Most are multicyclic structures that differ from one another not only in functional groups but also in their basic carbon skeletons. These lipids can be found in all classes of living things, and are the largest group of natural products.

Plant terpenoids are used extensively for their aromatic qualities. They play a role in traditional herbal remedies and are under investigation for antibacterial, antineoplastic, and other pharmaceutical functions. Terpenoids contribute to the scent of eucalyptus, the flavors of cinnamon, cloves, and ginger, the yellow color in sunflowers, and the red color in tomatoes.1 Well-known terpenoids include citral, menthol, camphor, salvinorin A in the plant Salvia divinorum, and the cannabinoids found in Cannabis.

But yeah…I do pick that up and I guess my strong association with oil painting kept it from view until you said that…


Instinct backed up by science. How interesting and kind of you to share Kashyap! The very thing that I was describing (fibromyalgia) that makes me ill is also what has gifted me with heightened sense of taste and smell. (I’ll admit it’s annoying at times having to keep my environment balanced by temperature,noise,light,scent or I get sick which is why my adventures are well-designed). I quite like the smell of terpenoids.

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Thank you to Eric for this lovely tea gift!

Eric from Happy Lucky’s (like he has no other life than that) went to San Francisco after Christmas and brought back a tea gift to me! What a nice young man he is!

I’m going to review ERIC! (Hahahah)

Eric is a Scientist! He only works part time at Happy Lucky’s but his main job is as Science Instructor at Frontrange Jr. College, until he get’s his Ph.D.

Eric is SUCH a great fellow tea nerd! One of the most endearing things about him is how much he knows about tea and how off-hand he is about it. He knows so much about the science of tea and the history of how tea has been produced and spews out information as though the rest of us know what he knows. Uh, no we don’t Eric!

What he brought me as a gift, was one of his favorite tea’s, which made me feel special.

I prepared the tea in my Gaiwan, just the way Eric would have done.
A short 30 second steep created the scent of flowers and Chinese food. (Something you might smell in the Summer walking by an outside cafe)

The flavor was sweet roasty stonefruit, water on granite rocks and very clean.
I decided to lengthen the steeps which made the flavor more roasty and woody than before with persimmon, peach and apricot sweetened with honey.Cinnamon spice punctuated the finish.

Those were a lot of flavors packed together, but this was a smooth tea. The flavors blended together like an old fashioned stone-fruit pie (my stone-fruit pie) with only the best ingredients, packed full of fruit and dripping with natural juices and a little spice kick.

(This tea is supposed to have an orange flavor but I didn’t taste any orange. I smelled the aroma of orange wafting around the cup.)

Delightful tea made more special by the giver! No wonder this is a favorite of Eric’s!

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Thank you Stacy for this sample tea!

I have TROUBLE with Bai Mu Dan and I have no idea why! I didn’t even know that this tea had bai mu dan in it when I brewed it…thinking nothing in particular past the name of the flavor in the sample.

What happens is either I can’t taste the flavor at all, or I get a furry kind of feeling in my mouth with no flavor. It’s odd (to say the least).

Being fair about reviews (and fair to Butiki)…and seeing that I couldn’t really taste the tea, I thought I’d share a funny story from my daughters blog about what happened this morning when the appraiser came to her house.
Annalisa has 9 children at the moment (3 are Foster Children under the age of 3), their 8 year old son in the story is bi-polar and gets excited easily.
Her blog is: http://[email protected]

Pole Dancing!
So, dear friends,the appraiser came. He was very nice and thankfully he has two sons of his own because my 8 year old followed him around the house with his mouth going probably two miles a minute. My son showed the appraiser the plans we have for our micro farm and told him if he didn’t score us well we’d end up on the street (thank you 10 year old brother!). It was amazing what my son fit into a 10 minute interaction. Up to this point while he had been talking this poor man’s ear off he had not said anything particularly shocking. But we weren’t finished yet.

I learned a lot about appraisals and how FHA guidelines differ from conventional guidelines. I learned what a conforming window really meant and what actually counted as a bedroom. We were almost free and clear but just as he was slipping on his shoes to leave my son said “I want to be a pole dancer when I grow up.”


Then he added enthusiastically, “And my oldest sister told me she secretly wants to be one too!”

The man just looked at me and smiled and told me it was okay before he headed out the door. I asked my son if he even knew what a pole dancer was. “It’s someone who dances on a pole.” Hmmmm. “Like at the circus where they climb up and down the pole and do tricks?”

I asked. “Yeah, just like that!”
Of course the appraiser didn’t get to hear that part. All that poor man knows is that we are a extra large family with children who aspire to be pole dancers!

Thank you Lord for the innocence of my son! I hope you enjoy this little chuckle today!


LOL That sounds like something the children in my family would say. Thank you for the silly story :]


When first reading this I got hung up on the Bai Mu Dan which I happen to love, not as much as Silver Needle, but I do love complex and subtle teas. Anyway, looking at this again – its pineapple and cilantro! I can’t picture the two together but even more I can’t imagine them being so tamed you couldn’t taste them. Interesting.


I tried on two occasions, still could not taste it. Not the first time for bai mu dan.


Love the story! Made me laugh XD

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Without my realizing it was happening, my taste in tea and my desire for it has changed.

In the beginning, there was a glittering path with lots of tea all of which I was ready and willing to try out. You could say that I binged on tea much like a child in a candy shop.

I soon realized that some tea’s I was binging on tasted better than others. The best tasting tea’s rose to the top and became the tea’s I craved!

As my appreciation for tea developed, I found that the tea that I loved the most were often harder to acquire. Tea from small farms, seasonal or wild picked soon became part of my new love affair.

This past month in particular, I’ve had some of the best tea’s of my life. Oolong from Verdant and Mr. Han’s Black, a Red Blossom 2010 Wuyi Oolong and Taiwaniese Wild Mountain Black Tea from Butiki have all been outstanding.

The experiences drinking the tea’s stopped me from writing as much as usual. These moments go by quickly, and I need to pay attention to the voice of the tea’s I’ve been drinking. It is very important to be still with good tea.

I kept the steep time rather short with this Oolong. 5 seconds on the first steep after a rinse, then 10-15 seconds.

I’ll discuss the flavor in a somewhat static way…

Fruit leather, stone fruit…plum, peach… Autumn brandied fruit compote. Slight smoky roast with cinnamon stick finish. Cooling on the tongue. Lingering flavor with the memory of Oriental Beauty sweetness. Creamy smoothness.

The first three steeps were best. Later pours were weaker but worth brewing.
When I say “the later pours were weaker but worth brewing” here’s what I mean: The taste of the tea is so good, that even when weaker, there is a longing for more and more…even if it’s a shadow of the first glorious cup.

Fine tea produces that longing for more. A desire for more than flavor. A desire for the entire experience that reaches a quiet place inside.

I put this on the ol’ blog too… www.teaandincense.com

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I know, I know, I know…but this is a partial of a story and review on my blog…OK! www.teaandincense.com

I had an appointment with my Priest.

I regularly request time to meet and discuss various things with Fr. Evan. Sometimes we just talk, sometimes I have confession and most times we have TEA.
Previously I had introduced Puer (which he likes a lot) and Laoshan Black from Verdant. This time, I brought Taiwanese Wild Mountain Black Tea from Butiki.

With a smile, he brought out his electric kettle, filtered water and cups for me to prepare tea. Today, I gifted Fr. a fat white Gaiwan and showed him how to use it.

We smelled the aroma of the leaves in a heated dry Gaiwan. Then we steeped the leaves, poured the liquor into the fairness pitcher and into our cups…stopping to smell the wet leaves.

First sip….

WOW!” exclaimed Fr. Evan.

“I taste cherry, no peach…wait…plum…some kind of stone-fruit, and the flavor… stays in my mouth!”

Terri HarpLady

Happy Valentines day, Ms Bonnie!!


Thanks Terri, same to you!


I love your description of the scene – and tea is always so fun to share!


I wish I could meet this priest friend of yours, he sounds like a treat!


He has a 1 year old son who try’s to B-line to the Alter every Sunday and one of these days he’s going to make it! Fr. Evan is 44 and very kind but creative, and super educated.

Butiki Teas

I love “trail of tea” wherever you go. That is so sweet of you to share your tea. :)


Eric at the tea shop got his order today…so my trail produced a convert! You just can’t keep a lid on me when I taste good tea! It has to be shared!

Butiki Teas

Nice! Absolutely, drinking a wonderful tea alone just isn’t as great of an experience as sharing teas that you love.

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drank Coffee Leaf Tea by Astral Natural
674 tasting notes

Thank you Eric (think it was Eric and not Joe) for this interesting sample tea!

The world of herbal tea is interesting. Leave it to scientist Eric to produce something new for me to try out on a recent visit to my tea shop.

Eric handed me a tea bag and said, “Here’s something you might find interesting. It’s coffee leaf tea and tastes pretty good.”

Sure, I thought. How could coffee leaf tea taste good. I’m not really all that fond of herbal tea, other than mint and ginger. I love herbal blends that I can add real tea leaves or puerh to, but I don’t drink plain herbal tea very often.

I was a big time coffee drinker. Only the best for me!

My Aunt lived in Brazil when I was just beginning to drink coffee in my 20’s, and sent powdery packages of ink black coffee to me in California. I was hooked long before Starbucks existed.
(My family thinks it’s amusing that I’ve switched to tea)

Last night, I decided to try out the tea, with an attitude that was cynical. I didn’t think that the teabag was going to give me enough flavor. I was being a snobbish bore.

The taste was better than I deserved and very much like guayusa and orange peakoe. I had to admit that the flavor was really good! The tea was something that I didn’t expect (no, it wasn’t coffee flavored or weak I had to admit to my snobby self!) and taught me a lesson in pre-judging.

It’s unfortunate that this tea only comes in teabag form because the flavor is tasty and makes a good decaf alternative.

Wish I knew about the leaves when I had coffee trees growing outside my back balcony in Puerto Rico, I could have chopped up some leaves myself!


This sounds so interesting, guayusa and orange pekoe flavors? I didn’t even know they made tea out of coffee leaves!


I recently heard about the coffee-leaf-tea thing. As I don’t much care for guayusa though, I suspect I wouldn’t be a fan.


I heard they are using the shells now as well. Sounds yummy!!


I think the shells would have caffeine, not the leaves though.

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Chinese New Year!!!

Granddaughter Schey and I went to Happy Luckys after Church like we normally do, and hopped up onto the bar stools that we usually occupy.

“Hey, what did you bring us today?!” Preston asked.

With great excitement, I pulled out my bag of Taiwanese Wild Mountain Black Tea which caught Joe’s eye further down behind the cash register.

“Wow, is that it?!” Joe exclaimed. (He and Preston had tasted the previous small sample from Butiki but this was MORE!)

“Yep, I brought the whole bag in so Eric, Andi, and Schey could have some of this tea too!”

I’ve never seen Preston move so fast! He had a Gaiwan, 6 tasting cups and an aroma set (for me) ready in no time.

I invited a young man at the bar (he was drinking tangerine stuffed puer that the shop now carries thanks to advice from Steepster mrmopar) to join in the tasting.

Preston warmed the Gaiwan, placed the leaves inside…waited, then passed the Gaiwan for everyone to smell the aroma. Delicious waffles…this is what we all think the tea smells like!

We each held the first golden-amber pour in our cups up high as Eric made a toast in Chinese 新年快乐 (xīn nián kuài lè) for Happy New Year!

All that I heard after that were….GROANS AND SIGHS OF DELIGHT!

I’ve seldom seen so many speechless, excited tea people. It was a pleasure bringing a grand tea to my friends.

In the past month…I’ve shared 2 tea’s that have been in the top 3 that Eric and Joe have ever tasted…Master Hans Black Tea from Verdant and Butiki’s Taiwanese Wild Mountain Black.

One final word:
What takes my breath away when I drink this tea is the finish.
Just when I’ve swallowed the tea it lifts me up and I’m floating on the most gentle ribbon of lingering flavor that undulates on and on like small ripples in the water. Eventually, my whole body feels the thrill of the tea. (Hard to explain how good it is)

This was a grand way to celebrate Chinese New Year!


Awesome review Bonnie. Question, what is an aroma set? Teach me o’ wise one as I have no Happy Luckys and no Bonnie in my neighborhood.


you’re a good friend to share Bonnie! that orange pu sounds tasty as well!


http://siam-tee.de/product_info.php?cPath=14_22&products_id=120 You ahould find the pictures here of aroma sets. You pour the tea in the tall cup and place the small shallow cup over it. Next, hold your thumb on the top of the tall cup, fingers under the small cup and upend it. Lift the tall cup letting the tea drain into the small cup. Bring the now empty cup up to your nose and smell the tea aroma, rolling the cup between the palms of both hands. Finally, drink the tea in 3 sips (slurps).


The proof that I’m not wise is that I can’t spell a simple word like should!!!


A simple pinky slip that I would never have noticed.

I now understand the concept of the aroma cup. Do you find it to make an obvious olfactory difference or is it more a part of the experience of connecting and enjoying the cup? Maybe both? I love to examine the leaf and smell it both dry and wet. I love watching the leaf dance. I can almost see myself enjoying this process except for the whole tiny cup thing.


I’m not wise, I can’t spell should!

Terri HarpLady

Thanks for the review, Bonnie. I’ll have to give this one a try. I’ve also been curious about the tangerine stuffed puer for awhile, having seen it a few places now.


I am glad they are having success with the orange puerh, it is a great starting point on a tea journey.


I think you just did ;)


The aroma cup enhances the experience for sure and is useful when you really want to dive deeper into scent.


I feel like I’ve just read one great love story!! Best review ever!!!!


What a lovely, lovely review! You really made the tea and the moment come alive.


Thank you. What nice things to say! I know that I talk about my tea house all the time, but what some people don’t know is that going to church and the tea house are the ONLY places I go regularly to interact with people (other than the grocery store or gas station). I feel ‘safe’. These people understand my limitations and never make me feel uncomfortable when my brain gets stuck and I can’t remember a word (which happens often in public). I use a cane in public too. One time at church I didn’t have my cane and went to cross myself and fell over,.which was really funny! Migraines and fibromyalgia play tricks on the brain. My fondness for my tea house is in my heart and in the teacup.

Butiki Teas

Wow, that is quite a compliment to have one of our teas be in the top 3 favorite teas of another tea purveyor. I love how you describe the finish. So poetic! :)


very wonderful fellowship all around!

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drank Kenya Kangaita by Butiki Teas
674 tasting notes

Thanks Stacy for this tea sample!

The last time I tasted this tea, I had been drinking loose leaf tea for about 4 months, so tasting it again was a fun comparison!

I’ve learned that I LOVE strong Kenyan tea so I ignored Stacy’s suggested brew time of 2.5 minutes and opted for 3.5 minutes testing along the way. The longer time would suit others who like the bang of a bold tea that can handle the time.

The taste was black current, sweet dry prune and black pepper…all of which came as a swelling up of flavor towards the back of the throat.

I sweetened my tea and added cream (it was my morning tea)…then sat while my body continued to slowly awaken from sleep.

I’ve never been a morning person, even through three decades of work, I would arise an extra hour earlier than necessary to sit with ‘coffee’, until I had to get ready and could cope with the day.

Now tea is my morning companion, and I can make the wake-up time last as long as I want it to. What a luxury!

While I was sitting in appreciation of my wealth of ‘time’, my thoughts began to wander.
I’ve been making lots of curries, something that I find comforting in cold weather.
Because of my allergies, I’ve adapted recipes to remove beans, tomato, eggplant, green peppers and potato. Thai curries, instead of Indian Curries, have given me more options (Indian Curries use potato and beans in almost everything!) and are delicious.

Along the way, I’ve discovered that certain tea’s are better companions to the curries I make. Kenyan tea’s, some Puerh’s and Thai Chaa Khao Hoom Reistee stand up well to spice (depending on the dish).

I’d like to expand my list of tea’s and welcome comments from other people who make curry.

I appreciate the unique tea sourcing from Butiki (and we all love Stacy!)!

Butiki Teas

I love making curries. Just made an Indian curry last week. We did cauliflower, carrots, onions, and zucchini. I do love Thai curries as well. We have a great Thai place near us that has a nice selection of curries. My favorite one has pineapple, so it has a lovely spicy and sweet combo.


This is a wonderful estate and the oolong they produce is truly wonderful


so much for articulate ;)


I already know you’re articulate.

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Thank you Nuvola Tea for this Sample!

I shared this tasting with my friend Eric who is a Science teacher at the College and serves tea at Happy Lucky’s several days a week. He’s here on Steepster, and a fellow tea geek!

When I want to discuss tea trivia, Eric’s my man!
We talk about leaf hoppers, the bugs that make Oriental Beauty Tea so sweet, and have talks about Puer fungus.

Eric handled the gaiwan through 4 steepings of this Ti Kuan Yin.
(He teaches a gongfu class so I am more than happy to let him do this!)
The flavor if this tea was lightly sweet, with a mild roast nuttiness.
I tasted brown sugar but the more I drank, the more I tasted old fashioned Horehound candy…bittersweet and tangy.

I was about to hand my cup back to Eric when the sweetest fragrance rushed up at me. Wow,this was the scent in my empty cup… thick like a flower shop but as sweet as See’s Candy!

Each steep was pretty much the same. Nutty roastiness, sweet brown sugar and Horehound candy.
A creamy mouth-feel lasted through the first three steeps.

Lovely tea.

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drank Congou Keemun by Butiki Teas
674 tasting notes

Tonight I made Pad Thai from scratch for the first time. Prawns, noodles, egg, sprouts, scallions, garlic, peanuts, and homemade sauce. It was Excellent!, if I do say so myself.

The last squeeze of lime and sprinkle of chopped cilantro was pure heaven in my big bowl!

I paired my delightful dinner with Congou Keemun Tea because of it’s sweetness. This isn’t a malty tea and I wouldn’t have wanted malt or cocoa with my Pad Thai. A fruit or floral tea with body works better, and this Keemun was a nice balance with the Pad Thai flavors.

When you get old, remember to cook with love even if you’re by yourself. Healthy food should taste good, especially with the right tea!


Oh man, now I want pad thai!


Yum. I know this is an old note, but it spoke to me. I love to cook and I’ve started pairing teas with meals- I agree, there are many foods that don’t need a full malty, heavy tea. I’ve been using an inexpensive tea from Upton with all the asian foods I cook and it’s perfect.

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Colorado Grandma

Grandmother to 3 teenaged girls and 5 young boys. (we all drink tea!) I began teatime in the Summer over 30 years ago when my children were little. We took a break from play for tea and snacks every day. My children loved tea time.
There are several tea houses close to my home and a Tea Festival in Boulder. Fort Collins is a bit of a foodie town. We brew lots of Beer (Fat Tire is one brand) and have several Spice Shops (Savory was one featured on Food Network).
Colorado State University is a mile from my home and the Rocky Mountains begin to climb at the end of my street. The climate is semi-arid with LOTS OF SUN AT 5000 feet. (Heavy Winter snows start in higher elevations). Living my whole life in Northern California (Silicon Valley) I have to admit that I LOVE IT HERE!!!
I attend a wonderful Greek Orthodox Church and enjoy cooking ethnic foods (all kinds). I am disabled with Migraines and Fibromyalgia.
My family is Bi-racial (African-American, Scots) and Bi-cultural, (Peru, Cyprus, France, Mexico, Native American)
I’ve worked at a Winery, was a System Analyst, in telecom, been an Athlete and Coach, Artist, Vista Volunteer. Love healthy cooking (and delicious food!). Love to travel and have been to Italy, Greece, Turkey, Malta, Peru, Croatia, Canada, Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska


Fort Collins,Colorado

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