Recent Tasting Notes


You are probably at this point (or even earlier) wondering what happened to Tea Book Sunday, well it has not died, it has evolved to Tea Stuff Sunday to encompass all those things that are related to tea but not exactly tea. I figure I will run out of tea books eventually, and there are some weeks when I am too swamped reading books for review purposes on Netgalley or Goodreads that I just don’t have time to read a tea book (tragic, I know.) So have no fear, there will be more books, but there will also be other cool tea themed things.

Like today! I am looking at the newest addition to my tea gear collection, Jing De Gongfu Porcelain Plum Blossom Bamboo Gaiwan Tea Set from ebay, it was a birthday present (by way of a monetary gift) from my grandparents (fun fact, while visiting them I taught my grandmother how to use a gaiwan, she loves it!) I added this unusual collection to my wishlist months ago, but ended up buying the bat gaiwan instead because it would be more versatile.

This set is very much so not perfect for all teas, well that is not true, the cha hai and cups work for anything, but the gaiwan is more specialized. I bought it specifically for ‘needle’ teas, long curly leafed teas, and basically ones that do not need room to unfurl. Not a gaiwan suited for my much loved balled up oolongs, that is for sure. While some people might consider this limitation a negative, I love it because it means I have a gaiwan with a really unique shape. Also, the width of the gaiwan’s lip means I have not once burned myself with it.

The cha hai might be my favorite part of this set (even if it oddly lacks the red coloring on the plum blossoms) because it reminds me of a calla lily, each time I pour with it I feel like I am pouring nectar from a flower. It adds a bit of whimsy into my tea brewing, which I love. It also has a mostly clean pour, the only time it drips is if I goof and hold it at a weird angle while pouring

The cups are lovely, they are a tiny bit translucent in their thinness, and this is beautiful. It does also mean that the heat transference is pretty intense and they get scalding hot quickly, so I really have to be quick if I am handing the cup off to someone (so far that someone has been my dear mother) and even then there is usually a chorus of the both of us going ‘ow ow ow’ the whole time.

As a fun finish, I am including a video I recorded, fair warning it is not professional quality! I filmed it with my camera which makes mediocre movies, and I have no idea how to edit things so you get to hear instead of just read my rambling. This video shows my gaiwan technique (a facebook friend asked how I do it) and some practice methods I recommend if you are just starting out.

For blog, photos, and video:

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Man… Another winner from AllanK.

One rinse only, and this had just a subtle earthiness, definitely not much. It was smooth and lovely. The tea brewed up to a topaz shade. Very lovely.

I had a long and unpleasant Sunday, into today, in a war with an Ikea bed frame. I’d like to say that I won, but it was more of a tie. I’m not feeling super poetic, but this was damn good. I’m just gonna leave it at that!

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

So glad you got good tea through all this IKEA ordeal!!

And yo, Allan knows how to shou!! Sounds great :-)


Is it just me, or does it seem like every time someone has to assemble Ikea furniture they’re in a war?


Unfortunately, the IKEA war of 2014 isn’t over. It’s on hold til my stepdad can come over on Saturday. But the frame is together and sturdy enough to sleep on, so I’m at least happy about that!!!!


You won the battle but not the war!


Exactly, KiwiD!


At least you drank some good Shou after the battle. I’m glad you liked the Lucky Dragon. I’ve had good luck from that seller, not as good as the Song of Chi Tse, but then again they don’t sell many Dayis at Streetshop88. Are you going to buy the Lucky Dragon? It’s a 200g cake.


The 2010 Golden Needle White Lotus is even better, only not as aged with a little more fermentation flavor.


I may wait, A. Not because I don’t like it, but because I need to slow down.

I’ll try the Golden Needle tomorrow then :)


Hey that Streetshop88 is the guy from whom I bought my Overlord Drunk puerh cake, lol. Scratch from the street for us addicts on a jones.


I may be waiting several days to try the next one of yours. I want to give these teas multiple steepings and I have to be up at 5am for the next several days. Looks like three nights of rooibos for me. It tried the Port today, it was good.


I am glad Allan came over to us from TeaChat.


Same here :)

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I am not sure if I should recommend this tea or not and I am pretty sure I didn’t brew it quite right.I steeped it in a 220 ml gaiwan with 8.5 g of leaves. The dry leaves had the smell of tobacco, for lack of a better description. I used boiling water. I first rinsed it twice. The rinses were quite light in color so I steeped it for thirty seconds. This seemed oversteeping so I steeped it again for 15 sec. This steeping came out better. It had sweet notes, sour pungent notes, sour berry notes and an overriding flavor I did not identify. It was my first experiment with Fuzhuan teas and was an interesting flavor. I sourced it from Streetshop88, an EBay tea shop that has sold me some excellent Puerh and Oolong. I think it is worth exploring more in a couple of days or weeks.

Flavors: Berry, Sour, Sweet

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 8 g 7 OZ / 220 ML

I am unsure what a Fuzhuan should taste like? Do you think I brewed this right?


I prefer shortest steeps possible especially with unknown tea.


I am by no means an expert but tea source suggests brewing dark teas other than puerh at 195- 205 so perhaps the temperature was too high.

I’m not familiar with this tea the two source I ’be looked at have suggested different things
Tea source suggested 195-205 ° tea for dark teas other than puerh.

This source suggests using a lot less leaf 4g/200ml Than using a 60 s steep after a rinse than very short steeps afterwards.


Thanks, I shall try first lower temperature, then if that doesn’t work lower temperature and fewer leaves. It was a tea I wanted to try and appeared to be good quality.It may just be I don’t like the flavor.


That’s possible, have fun experimenting!


Sorry for the convoluted message at top. I started to write it and then it seemed lost. I’ve never seen it merge too messages together before.

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This tea has an interesting flavor that is a mix of ginseng and oolong tea. It is not bitter but a little sweet with the pungency of the ginseng. Is is a flavor that is hard to describe but good. I added sugar but I think it has some natural sweetness and little of the wood notes common in oolongs. I brewed this with boiling water because I read that you need boiling water because of the ginseng shell around the tea leaves.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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Ah, freshly dyed hair is always such a good feeling, especially when it is a shade of blue. I have spent most my life envying vibrantly blue birds, wishing my drab Peahen ash blonde hair was more of a Peacock blue. Then I grew up and realized, Holy Plumage Batman, I can dye my hair whatever color I want thanks to the art of science…and cosmetics! So having had my hair pretty much every color of the rainbow, I tend to stick with either Grackle Blue Black or some shade of blue, this time dark teal. Rock on my feathered friends.

Oddly enough, for all my rambling about feathers, this review is centered around bats. Specifically my new amazing tea set procured from China by way of ebay shop StreetShop88. This lovely blue set consists of a Gaiwan, a Cha Hai (or pitcher, fairness cup, or tureen) and a pair of cute cups. A little backstory, I have two other gaiwans…my fish themed travel gaiwan and my now quite chipped white gaiwan, I wanted a third one specifically I wanted a third matched set for everyday use. It took me about a month and a half of window shopping till I found the one I wanted.

I had a few specifications: it needed to be 100ml or less, it had to have a wide rim, it had to be less than $35, and lastly it had to have an awesome design. I had originally settled on a Phoenix themed set from the same store and then I saw the bats and it was all over, I had to have that one. Bats and the round Shou character are very auspicious symbols in Chinese art, five bats, according to A Dictionary of Chinese Symbols by Wolfram Eberhard (my go to source for all Chinese symbolism) represent the Five Blessings-a long life, riches, health, love of virtue, and a natural death. The Shou character represents Longevity, it is a symbol that I like to have around.

Symbolism and aesthtics aside, how does this set function? First off, I don’t burn my sensitive little fingers, I love my fish gaiwan to pieces, but its fairly small rim tends to heat up very quickly meaning on steeps that go on a big long end with me going ‘ouch’ a lot. The really wide rim and equally wide and somewhat squat body means that leaves get to really roll around and unfurl beautifully.

This set was put together beautifully, when you pour off a steep from the gaiwan into the pitcher, there is a perfect amount for both cups. No leftover and no one gets left out, this is the first set I have had where I get that result. The Cha Hai makes me exceptionally happy, it pours wonderfully and looks like a creamer. Also I absolutely adore that inside the gaiwan and cups the Shou character is printed inside.

For the most part there are no real flaws with this set. There are a few errors on the printed design of the key pattern on the rim of the gaiwan’s lid, but oddly I find this a bit endearing. The only other problem is it is fairly thick porcelain so the temperature tends to stay pretty warm, this might make brewing green teas a little difficult, but that is easy to adjust with cooler water or shorter steep time.

Over all I love this thing, I recommend it if you are looking for a new gaiwan tea set, especially if you love bats!

For photos and blog (including my blue hair!)


I love bats too! That set is so cute


Awesome review! What a cute set!

Love the hair :)

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