Rishi Tea

Recent Tasting Notes


Forgive me, it’s been more than two years since my last tea review. The new job pretty much ate my brain — and all my free time. O.K., so enough about me. Let’s talk tea.

Technically, you can’t call Himalayan Class Black a Darjeeling because it’s grown 150 miles (245 km) to the west. But for all intents and purposes that’s what it is, a Darjeeling grown just over the border in Hile, Nepal. Darjeelings have this amorphous quality about them. They’re technically a black tea, but they’re kind of green. And they’re made with Chinese varietals and Assamicas.

Himalayan Classic has that typical Darjeeling quality. It has very little body and that classic apricot-peach taste that Darjeelings have. (Rishi also says it has a malty quality, which I’m not tasting.)

If you like Darjeelings (particularly second flushes), you’ll like this.

You wouldn’t want to put milk in this tea. Well, let me rephrase that — I wouldn’t want to put milk in this tea. There’s no accounting for what you might want to do, but the tea doesn’t really have enough body to handle it. And I’m not sure milk goes well with teas with floral qualities either.

The tea is quite green, as is the wet infusion. The liquor has that greenie-oolongie thing that Darjeelings tend to have. Quite frankly, Darjeelings have been mediocre the past few years, so this is a good alternative.

First steep should be about three minutes, just like a Darjeeling. Go four to five minutes for the second steep. And I don’t think you can coax a decent third steep out of this.

Flavors: Flowers, Peach

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Hands down favorite green tea. I am a green tea fan, and since finding this dragonwell by Rishi, it is the only one I drink regularly.

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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drank White Peony by Rishi Tea
91 tasting notes

This is my first White Peony experience outside of Shang Tea, owned by Zehua Shang, who specializes in white tea, has won pretty high awards for his White Peony, and farms the tea himself, so his tea is direct from the source to the customer. Thus, beware of my bias.

That said, I’ve never felt compelled to purchase Bai Mudan from any other vendors since Shang’s is top notch, and even better I live near the store so I can go and purchase it firsthand and enjoy some tea with the awesome employees. This Rishi white tea only landed in my cupboard because I was at a local grocer to try samples of some loose teas they had in bulk bins. I saw this and thought I’d give it a try since I could sample it very cheap this way.

After a steep or two, the leaves are very green and smell perfumy. I drank the first steeping before starting my review, so my review will start with the second. I am brewing this Gongfu style. This infusion is more yellow than the last, which was a bit pale.

The aroma of the liquor is lightly floral and I’m picking up hints of camphor, to my surprise. The flavor is smooth and lightly green with just a touch of nectar-like sweetness. There are very subtle green and juicy notes like a fresh cucumber. As it cools more and as I get into the third infusion and beyond, there is a copper-like mineral taste, subtle, but there.

The flavor overall is somewhat soft though, bordering on too soft, even after allowing the tea to cool some. I know not all teas are created equal, but I’m using the same amount of leaf I always have with White Peony. I think perhaps I’ve been spoiled on amazing white tea and now that I’m trying one from a less-specialized vendor (meaning their company doesn’t have a specific specialty for white tea), I am seeing now why so many people claim that white tea “tastes like nothing” to them. Indeed, if this white tea from Rishi is more indicative of what white tea is like outside of the high-end vendors, I can see that white teas can be very subtle. I have had a few silver needle teas from sources other than Shang Tea and some were very lacking in flavor or depth, while others were quite robust, so I guess the amount of flavor in white tea can really vary.

While I don’t think this White Peony from Rishi is particularly complex or thick in flavor, I do think it is good, and I think that for the mid-range loose tea market it is a good offering. If you aren’t looking to pay top dollar for your white tea or are looking for the convenience of being able to purchase it at some grocers nearby (currently I only know of Whole Foods selling this, but there may be others), this tea is worth the money. The flavor is pleasant and mild. It was a pleasant experience to drink it, and biases aside, I feel happy to have drank it.

Flavors: Camphor, Cucumber, Nectar, Perfume

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 45 sec 2 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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drank Golden Yunnan by Rishi Tea
4 tasting notes

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drank Golden Yunnan by Rishi Tea
62 tasting notes

I purchased this tea while I was in western New York on vacation this summer. I desperately needed a good cup of black tea to get me going in the mornings, because for once in my life, I hadn’t packed a suitcase full of my tea from home (we flew this time, and I had limited space in my luggage for tea canisters and such). Anyway, this tea was delicious during my vacation, and it is delicious now.

I am very partial to Yunnan black tea, and this one met my expectations. Smooth, malty, robust, with that nice little peppery bite to it—mmmm love it! On the box, the description states that it is “Malty and rich with a mellow, jammy sweetness and subtle accents of plum and raisin.” Yes, yes, and yes! All of the above! A very nice cup of tea, indeed.

Now I just need to try this side-by-side with Gong Fu’s Emporer’s Gold and see how it compares. I will try to save the last teaspoonful I have remaining for just that purpose.

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Peach Blossom by Rishi Tea
39 tasting notes

Yerba mate is a little the same color when I steeped it. I get a lot of peach and Valencia orange as fresh as hand zested citrus. And the first was so elegant and sweet after all if fifty seconds on the pot of clay. Some of the brews are less and less but the nice smell and small batch just reminds me how well yes it is that, and the importance of that is that. I might not be saying anything to someone without a 3-4 oz xing-yi from shou-Shang. I’m probably sleep depriving from skipping water in favor of thus hydrationable you know ..
So mauve too much of a good thing is hazardous too your health, I won’t be finishing this bag anytime soon. Bit. Of a quandary, quite a quite a quagmire . What points I set out to address have since been absconded by dat creativity., by teh reinvention of a classic. Again . Too with being honest I’m more a fan of the store where I get the peach blossom tea: Delhi urban bodega. I could spend all day scouting out new hangs to make and people watching, then ride the subway for an hour to get here and it’s still totally bank. These little treats I give myself get a little pricey, but that’s why I graduated from the school of pharmacy and dealt with the constant torture by pharmacy tech books For them I take a day off, play a game of thumb war, oh dadgum Sam-€ you won, I’ll just keep on tea bagging and stirring.

Flavors: Lychee

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This has been one of my favorite tea experiences! The first cup I made was a sensory delight – notes of smoky sweetness, dried fruit, autumn maple forest, and even an umami sort of meatiness making for a rich mouthfeel – it was strong and complex, but perfectly balanced and also refreshing. Somehow I have never been able to recreate the strength and depth of that first cup, but I’ve enjoyed each brew nonetheless (ok, maybe just a bit the less, but still a favorite!)

Lot 1036361

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Dried Fruit, Maple, Meat, Smoke, Umami

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec 8 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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drank Golden Yunnan by Rishi Tea
1281 tasting notes

Queued post, written June 22nd

This one also came from Auggy and if the LS I wrote about earlier was really more of an afternoon thing, then this is the one I should have chosen for the smoky wake-me-up in the morning.

The aroma is quite earthy, reminding me a bit of puerh, actually. Not nearly as much earthiness as in puerh, but something along those lines.

It’s really quite smoky in flavour, but also with a little sweet honey in the aftertaste along with that hay note. There isn’t too much of that hay, actually, which is the note that I don’t really appreciate much in Yunnan blacks. That’s the second Yunnan I’ve had where it’s been there but not super prominent. Either Auggy has a good idea of how much or little of that hay note I like, or I’m learning to appreciate it more than I used to. It’s not strong here, but it’s there. The primary note in this tea really is the peppery smokiness.

I found this quite enjoyable. I suspect if you enjoy shu, you might like this one as well.

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drank Earl Grey Supreme by Rishi Tea
160 tasting notes

I really liked Rishi’s regular Earl Grey because it had a very robust taste and the flavor was just loaded with bergamot. Therefore, I was quite excited to try the Supreme edition of their Earl Grey after I read that it contained “a smooth liquoring Keemun and a bold flavored Yunnan with 100% natural essential oil pressed from real bergamot citrus fruits.” I’m a very enthusiastic fan of both Keemun and Yunnan. (Getting a nice discount on this tea helped too.)

When I opened the package, a strong bergamot aroma with a fresh quality filled the room. I steeped the black leaves at 212 degrees for 5 minutes. The brewed color was a dark amber/gold. The finished odor also was fortified with bergamot.

The taste of this tea was similar to the regular Rishi Earl Grey that I drank and enjoyed semi-regularly for a year. But, that was my gripe with this blend. At a price of roughly $1 more per ounce than Rishi’s standard Earl Grey, I wanted…no…EXPECTED…something in the quality to elevate it from the basic (cheaper) product that I will be going back to the next time I order Rishi Earl Grey. Nowhere could my searching palate locate the Yunnan or Keemun infusion. I could taste black tea but that part of the flavor was unexceptional. Ironically, there also was a twinge of astringency that I didn’t encounter with the lower grade blend. This attribute remained with the strong aftertaste.

Do I like this tea? Yeah, but (surprisingly and perhaps fortunately) not as much as the lower-priced edition. Rishi’s bergamot in both offerings tastes fresher than several other Earl Grey selections that I have experienced. Rishi also seems to supercharge the bergamot presence in their teas.

This is the first time that I have ever subtracted rating points from a tea due to price. However, I feel that it is my duty to do so for two reasons:

o significantly higher price of this version (when compared to the very good basic offering)

o absence of enhancement over the basic Earl Grey (to justify the cost)

I will recover from this disappointment. I don’t mind being humble. I will continue to enjoy Rishi’s no frills Earl Grey.

Flavors: Astringent, Bergamot, Tea

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

Interesting comparison—thanks! I just picked up a box of the “basic” on sale at Whole Foods. Looking forward to trying it now! ;-)


I hope you like it! I bought a pound of it last year and drank it all! Thanks for your comment!

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Purchased at Wegmans. Tried it at the recommended steep time but wow, was it really fishy and malty. Drank it gongfu style and was much better. Probably wouldn’t purchase it again but if it was offered I would drink it.

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 tsp 4 OZ / 118 ML

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Picked this up at Wegmans. Steeped at the recommend time and wasn’t a fan of it after trying it three more time to see if it would grow on me but it didn’t. Decided cold brew it and I definitely prefer that flavor but I wouldn’t purchase or drink this again.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Golden Yunnan by Rishi Tea
1096 tasting notes

I picked up a box of this Rishi Yunnan Golden, identified on the box as Dian Hong, from Whole Foods out of curiosity. It was on sale for $6.99 for 50 grams, usually going for $10.99. According to the reviewers at Amazon (many of whom are irate), Rishi has essentially doubled or tripled the price of their teas since abandoning the metal tins in the supposed name of the environment. Reminds me of when the ice cream companies told us that they were reducing the half-gallon carton size so that we could store our ice cream in the door of the freezer. (Right, and I have some nice land for you down by Alligator Alley…)

And now, at last, for the tea. I may have had elevated expectations from the appearance of the gorgeous dried leaves, which include tons of golden tips. Somehow the final brew seems a bit blunt and brisk. Did I oversteep or overleaf?

It’s not sweet, nor is there a baked bread facet. Basically this tastes like stout black breakfast tea! The liquor looks closer to Assam than anything else (dark and veering red), but I do not find the brew to exhibit the same maltiness.

I’ll certainly try again—I have another 46 grams…

second infusion: I decided to try these same leaves one more time… The brew was slightly better, but still not very good. I debated adding cream for about half the glass but then ended up just tossing it into the wind—I was sitting on the deck.

There are so many rave reviews for this tea that I can only surmise that my batch is a dud. I noticed that the infused leaves are quite small, so it looks as though the crispy golden tipped dried leaves disintegrated in hot water.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 4 g 10 OZ / 295 ML

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It’s a nice, full but mild (not bitter) black tea, that’s easy and pleasant to drink straight. I got two 16 oz mugs from it, and probably could’ve steeped a much weaker third mug from it if I’d tried.

Flavors: Grass, Hay, Leather, Mineral, Roasted Barley, Wet Earth

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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drank Blueberry Rooibos by Rishi Tea
8 tasting notes

This is my mid-afternoon tea today and when I opened the bag I could smell a nice blueberry scent. I drank it after a wait time of 5 minutes. This tea did not deliver in the sharpness taste of the blueberries I was hoping for. Love the color, the smell straight from the package but would not order this tea again. If you are looking for a mild blueberry taste this tea might be for you.

195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Jasmine Pearl by Rishi Tea
1096 tasting notes

Rishi continues to impress me with the quality of its teas. This one is a very good Jasmine Pearl. Richly scented, with a silken texture.

Flavors: Jasmine

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drank Tropical Coconut by Rishi Tea
1096 tasting notes

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drank China Breakfast by Rishi Tea
215 tasting notes

I had this with a restaurant breakfast. The first cup was lovely and delicate, nice and balanced. My second steeping of the leaves was much bolder and full bodied. I drank the first cup straight, as it seemed that milk and sugar would over power the delicate flavour. The second cup was well suited to milk and sugar.

4 min, 0 sec

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drank Chocolate Cinnamon by Rishi Tea
48 tasting notes

I should have read the ingredients list, but I was swayed by the box label that said the words “chocolate” and “cinnamon”. I’m sure they are present, but the only flavor I can taste is the peppermint. This is a good tea, if you want peppermint pu-erh. If you’re expecting chocolate and cinnamon, look elsewhere.

In related news, I have most of a box of the tea if someone wants it.

Flavors: Peppermint

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drank Golden Yunnan by Rishi Tea
219 tasting notes

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drank Citron Oolong by Rishi Tea
301 tasting notes

Wow – I am a huge fan. This has a way of tasting juicy without being overly sour or sweetened. It is very much an equal mix of citrus and oolong, as opposed to oolong with some citrus in it. In fact, in the jar, I was like “wtf where is the tea??” because of all of the flowers. But once steeped, the oolong unfurls a TON and then it doesn’t seem so crazy. The blossoms are beautiful and prevent it from tasting like cleaning products for me, and I enjoy this hot or iced equally. Bonus, I steeped it three times and all three steeps were flavorful. This is a definite repurchase.

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Pu Ehr Ginger by Rishi Tea
13 tasting notes

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Flavors: Campfire, Dark Chocolate, Ginger, Loam, Oak wood, Peat, Raisins, Walnut

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 15 sec 6 tsp 24 OZ / 709 ML

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drank Pu-erh Ginger by Rishi Tea
1480 tasting notes

SSTTB #16.

Still not feeling so great, and while I had a ginger tea at work, I wanted something less sweet at home. Enter this.

I steeped somewhere around 5 minutes, as I was baking toast and didn’t feel like setting the timer twice. It’s really nice! Earthy mineral puerh, lots of ginger. I added 1/2 tsp honey just to punch it up a little, but although it tastes good like this, I’m not sure it really needs it.

Definitely a decent tea. Not something I need to stock, but I’m glad I had it around this evening.

Flavors: Earth, Ginger, Mineral

195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 15 sec 2 tsp 14 OZ / 414 ML

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This is a funny case—the opposite of Pukka—where sachets are being identified on the box as “tea bags”. In fact, I almost passed on this box, until I saw the image of the pyramid sachet on the side, along with a little blurb, “Introducing our Novel Knit Tea Bag”. Now I’m wondering whether this whole series of sachets is new to Rishi.

The material used for this jasmine green (which, to be honest, reminds me a lot of Sunflower Jasmine Tea!) has much coarser openings than the one they use for the Matcha Super Green. No doubt that is because of the size of matcha particles. Or is it? Now I’m wondering: why not use the smaller-pored material for all of their sachets?

This tea is heavily scented with jasmine. On the box, it is suggested that the tea has been infused nine, count ‘em nine, times with jasmine petals collected at night. I say “suggested”, because here’s how the text reads:

The sweet fragrance of jasmine tea can only be created in the traditional way, involving nine stages of scenting to deeply infuse the tea leaves with the aroma of fresh jasmine.

Is the claim here that any company which does not put its tea leaves through nine jasmine mating sessions is not producing true jasmine tea? Not sure, but I believe that a number of them talk about five or six jasmine-scenting sessions.

All of that aside, I ended up enjoying the second infusion more than the first. The liquor was pale gold and the flavor very jasminy in both cases. There is a touch of nice green tea texture here, but no more than I found in the Sunflower Asian market budget brand, so I probably won’t buy these sachets again. Of course, it’s worth noting that this tea is organic and fair trade certified, unlike the mass-produced and budget-priced Sunflower Jasmine Tea.

On the other hand, I do prefer the attractive Sunflower tin to the clunky Rishi box! The individual envelopes are expansive enough to hold four sachets each! I’ve been noticing that a lot of upper-middle-class (sold at Whole Foods) brands use disproportionately large packaging—usually boxes—which frankly is a big fat waste of dead trees. It’s supposed to convey a feeling of spaciousness and luxury, like going to a museum, I guess. In reality, it calls to my mind forests razed to the ground. But that’s another story…

It will be interesting to see how these sachets compare with the loose leaf jasmine green from Rishi, which looks to be the same tea, but one never knows!!!!!

Flavors: Jasmine

165 °F / 73 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 g 9 OZ / 266 ML

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