Tao Tea Leaf

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Recent Tasting Notes


I’ve had this tea for quite some time, so I finally decided to brew it up. The leaf is very dark (and Purple) and it carries a nice dry wood with some malt and a very faint grape juice aroma in the background. The juice note is very slight and tangy. I warmed up my gaiwan and threw some inside. The warmed leaf gives off a definite grape skin aroma. The scent is very fragrant and direct. I can also pick up some dark wood and plum that lingers. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The scent instantly changes to a char and bitter green scent; all the fruitiness has vanished. Luckily, they reappeared in the cup! The taste was very smooth and dry with a sweet fruity plum aftertaste. This is good tea. The flavor is pretty full and eases through the palate. The qi is mild and mostly directed at the head. A dry woody tone carries the flavors consistently and throughout the session. The tea lacks character and any depth, but it is a nice “purple” tasting tea. A later steeping brings out a wild bitter taste, and then the tea completely falls out and becomes astringent. I was able to get a good amount of steeping out of this tea, and I’m glad to have tried it.


Flavors: Char, Dark Wood, Drying, Fruity, Grapes, Plums, Raisins, Smooth

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 2 OZ / 50 ML

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drank Tai Ping Hou Kui by Tao Tea Leaf
1830 tasting notes

I found a small sample of this tea tucked away that I’ve had for who-knows-how-long – probably the last time the GCTTB came through about a year ago. The tea leave look more like flattened piece of a dried seaweed than tea to me and they don’t ‘puff up’ at all during the brewing process. The tea has a pleasantly sweet scent that’s reminiscent of certain green oolongs. The flavour is lightly floral and a little bit fruity with a grassy, slightly toasty finish. The description mentioned apricots and I can definitely see that, though that wasn’t quite what came to mind for me when I sipped it. A very nice, high-quality green with a rather unique flavour profile.

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 10 OZ / 295 ML

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Weak and practically tasteless.


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I decided to make this in the gaiwan with short steeps. Smooth. Tried with and without milk. The milk did not add/improve n an way as it would with an Assam or other black tea. This tea is nice as is.

Flavors: Chocolate, Sweet, Tannin

Boiling 0 min, 45 sec 5 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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drank Da Hong Pao by Tao Tea Leaf
56 tasting notes

A really nice roasted taste, but also sweet. I had purchased a sample to see if I would like it and it’s really nice. A light brown/chestnut colour in the cup. I made this in the gaiwan with short steeps. Right now I’m on my third drinkable steep and enjoying the mouth feel. I was disappointed that it only allowed a few resteeps. With good quality tea I usually get quite a few short steeps. With this one the 4th steep was too light.

Flavors: Roasted Barley, Sweet

180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 45 sec 5 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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I was in the mood for shu (cooked) pu-erh and walked into the Tao tea leaf store. These are definitely shu as others have noted, and the retailer confirmed it. By the third drinkable infusion it really seemed to get deeper and richer in flavour, and it’s smooth, sweet, and full bodied. I really liked this but thought the leaves should have been bigger, not mulching and broken as they were as soon as they were steeped. After I tossed the first wash, I steeped for 30sec a few times, then 40, 50 and a minute. I’m on my 6th steep and it is as good if not better. There is a mouth feel and the taste lingers in a pleasant way, stimulates saliva so-to-speak. The only negative thing I’ve noticed is that after the first couple of steeps the effect it has on me is overly stimulating. I feel really buzzed in my head and some tightness in my chest, a bit of nervousness. I’ve not had this type of reaction to other puerhs. Don’t know if anyone else has found this with this tea.

Flavors: Sweet, Wet Earth

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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Very nice oolong. No frills. Steeps to an amber color. Reasonably priced… Good daily tea. On the third steep and still going strong.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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Ohhhh so good. I need more!! this was just a sample. Perhaps a small purchase can be a sipdown goal reward?

Evol Ving Ness

Thank you for reminding me of this shop. I need to plant it on my path in the near future..


are you thinking during the day or evening? we can go together if we can find a good day for it :)

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drank Ying De Black Tea by Tao Tea Leaf
978 tasting notes

This is a fantastic black tea. Nice and rich – a little chocolate – a little honey – really sweet. Fantastic.
Thanks so much Sil for sharing.

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The tea is good! light, refreshing, and a bit spicy. Just what I wanted.

I seem to be fighting a bug. Only it isn’t like any bug I’ve had before. 99% of the ones I have involve a sore throat/stuffy nose/cough/fuzzy brain. This time? slightly elevated temp that I wouldn’t even call a fever… and exhaustion. Oh and I’m sore all over. Nope I haven’t done anything resembling exercise recently. Confusing! I don’t know what to do with this thing, whatever it is. I know how to fight my normal sick battles! Not impressed I say.
Sorry for the rant. I get grumpy when I feel like bleh,apparently.


Hate to say this, but it could be influenza. :/ That’s how I felt at the beginning of last week, and it progressed to be snotty. But mostly I was just exhausted and uncomfortably warm when normally I’m a bit chilly.


Yeah I was thinking about that. My tummy is only a tiny bit icky feeling though. I think I’m more annoyed cuz I felt like this earlier in the week on and off for about four days. I felt better on Friday and now its back. Hope you’re feeling all better now OMGsrsly!


Influenza is a respiratory virus, similar to but also much worse than a cold (it’s a different type of virus). The “stomach flu” is usually either a GI virus or food poisoning.


hmm. So it’d be the stomach flu then. Maybe

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Sipdown (168 because I forgot to add it)

It might be human error but this tastes rather watery. Plus, there is a weird raisin flavor and that’s it. Not sure what happened but if this is how this tea is supposed to taste than it is not for me.


i didn’t love this in 2015, but in 2014/2013 it was fantastic.

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Another one from Nicole – thank you! The leaves here just look like they will make a delicious cup. Mostly amber with black here and there… mildly fuzzy twisties. The dark amber brew is quite delicious but it’s tough for me to describe. It’s malty, honey, not really chocolate, a little on the lighter side of the flavor spectrum. Hints of tomato soup. Not the most distinct flavor with this type of tea, so it isn’t my favorite of this type, so I’m glad Nicole only sent me a little to try of one of her favorites. :D
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for a full mug// 10 minutes after boiling // 2 1/2 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3-4 minute steep

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I forgot if this was from a tea box or if this was from a swap, but either way, I got this from Sil!

I have too much tea and I’m going to drink as much as I can bc I need to get rid of them all.

- Smells like a subtle and light black tea with more hits of coco and vanilla.
- Tastes like black tea. Nothing too special. The vanilla and chocolate aroma was lost

With milk and sugar, that helps the bitterness of the tea. Love the creaminess and I think the vanilla is coming back :)

Cries bc I’m just about to take my last final of undergrad. Beer final, here I come!

Flavors: Vanilla

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 5 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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Thanks to TheLastDodo for this one a while back! The dry leaves look like twisted needles of green tea. The flavor is just what I love with a green tea: sweet, nutty, a little vegetal, with hints of fruit. Superbly well balanced between all four of those notes, almost like each one is present in the perfect amounts. This is exactly the way I love green teas to be. This would be a perfect green…. IF the second cup was at all like the first. It seemed like any of the flavor notes in the first steep were gone in the second, leaving just a slightly astringent and dry plain green. The parameters were similar to the first steep, so I’m not sure why it would make such a difference. The first steep is worth it though. After trying a few Mao Feng teas, they are certainly some of my favorite greens.
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for a full mug// 30 minutes after boiling // 2- 2 1/2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 30 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep

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The first steep of this was amazing. Very vegetal, buttery, and mildly floral. I really don’t like florals at all and barely noticed it so that was fine by me!
The buttery part does lend itself to “popcorn” but I would never have picked out that descriptor without looking at the notes above. I consider Genmaicha to be closer, but in a different way of course. If you could combine the two, you’d definitely have a great snack alternative. And since popcorn IS my fave indulgence, well I’d be in heaven.
Also, first steep was rather drying. The second was less so, but then I found it to be more flowery, so not as tasty IMO. Even still, I really enjoyed it overall. Very tasty! Too bad I only had a sample. I may see if they have any next time I’m at the shop.

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I decided to finally break this out. The dry leaf is super compressed. I was reminded of a XG iron cake. The cake gives a dry vegetal aroma with some faint sweetness. I placed a bunch in my warmed yixing and waited a little bit. The yixing gave a smoke and roasted vegetables aroma. I washed the leaves once and began brewing. This was not a great tea session. The cake took about four rounds of steeping to finally open up, and it didn’t give off any great flavors. This tea has no complexity, and it sticks with some basic tones. For instance, each steeping yielded the slightly yellowed liquor with tastes of roasted veggies, smoke, astringency, and bitterness. I did flash steeping this whole session, and the bitterness would not fade. I experienced a little bit of huigan in one sip, but it quickly faded away. The whole session gives a drying feeling in the mouth. The leaves consist of mostly chop and don’t yield any great experience. However, the qi is present, and is of decent strength. The feeling is somewhat uncomfortable and is centered at the head and back of the neck. I didn’t really enjoy this session. I might be spoiled with my regular offerings. This tea may interest others who have a palette for these sort of things.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Grass, Smoke, Vegetables, Vegetal

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

I also got nothing good out of this.


I gave it a shot, but my expectations were very low. I’m glad I’m not alone in the outcome.

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Holy fuck, people. HOLY FUCK. Trudeau didn’t just win the election, he punted the Conservatives to oblivion. I was convinced that despite the Liberal uptick in the polls, Harper was going to pull one last rabbit out of his hat and still win the election. For the Liberals to not only win, but get such a commanding majority is a highly pleasant surprise.

I drank two steeps of this tea to give me caffeine for the election results. I got a nice scent of cinnamon from the first steep, and a nice fruity undertone from the second steep. Overall, a decent cuppa for the evening; the roastiness was a nice complement to the crispness of the outside air.

Currently watching Mulcair’s concession speech. Still picking my jaw off the floor. I wonder when Harper will do the dignified thing and concede as well. I guess hiring a fancy Australian campaign fixer that traffics in using racism as a divide-and-conquer tactic didn’t turn out so well, did it? :-D


The majority vote in my province was conservative. I was rooting for the liberals, but I think the main reason why the liberals were so far ahead is because alot of people would rather stick their vote on the card away from conservative. And liberals were clearly a better choice then the NDP’s They wanted Harper out pretty badly.

Roswell Strange

We were listening on the radio at work as they were counting votes, and when they announced that Trudeau had won not just as a minority but as a majority my manager literally cheered. He was so excited! Had I not been on till helping a customer I may have done the exact same…

Roswell Strange

OH! Also, they’re reporting that Harper’s already conceded ^^


I thought it was going to be a minority government. It really surprised me that it was majority.

Christina / BooksandTea

Harper didn’t give his speech until midnight my time (about a half-hour after I wrote the above note), and even in that speech, he didn’t talk about stepping down from leadership of the Conservatives. That piece of news went out in a separate press release. I guess the words “I’m not going to lead anymore” really stuck in his craw. (Jesus fuck, I hate that man.)



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I had this from awhile ago and some cinnamon sounded pretty good. I opened it up and took in a pleasant warm and spicy wood aroma. I had good hopes for this session. I placed a good amount in my warmed gaiwan and gave it a shake. The spiced wood aroma deepened to roasted spices. This scent was close to a chai aroma. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The flavor was heavily tannic and unpleasantly bitter. I’m unsure if I did something wrong. I tried to do flash steeping and the result was the same. The taste was like sucking on a cinnamon stick. I was reminded of when I was younger, and I did the “cinnamon challenge”. However, the session improved in later steeping. The tones softened to a burnt sugar taste and light roast aroma. This took quite a bit of steeping. This rock oolong carried no sweet aftertaste and was very rough. This might not be the tea for me.


Flavors: Bitter, Burnt Sugar, Cinnamon, Dry Grass, Roasted, Spices, Tannic

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

You did the cinnamon challenge and lived to tell.


hahahah I have. I do not recommend it…


I only watched one video of someone doing it. It looked terrible xP


a lot of gagging, shivering, and shaking. All in all, unpleasant. but I beat the challenge ;)


Holy shit :O You truly did live and tell.


hahaha I should have a badge or something…


Interesting… Quite frankly, Rou Gui is pretty much the only rock oolong I’ve never been a fan of. I haven’t tried this one and don’t think I will anytime soon after reading this, lol. But have you had other TTL Wuyi? They are quite good, especially their Bei Dou.


I’ve had their DHP which was decent. I’ve never had any others. I have two in my cupboard that I need to get to. I’m unsure on what they are though…

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I think I need to give up on the dream of a black cloth on my tea desk, oh sure it looks fantastic day one, but as of the first time I turn my back on the tea table, it is the cat’s table. So, either I need a tortie cat colored tea cloth that will also not show ALLLLL the stains from my tea spillage or I need to get a tiny tape roller to collect all the cat fuzz since she keeps insisting on sleeping on it. Clearly she is jealous of the tea pets and wants to be the alpha pet. Of course I could get one of those cool wooden tea trays with the drain, but it would make accessing my desk’s cubbyholes nigh impossible…maybe I should just turn my antique secretary desk into a draining teadesk…that would be so metal. And also really hard!! For those who remember my other tea desk WIP it is currently on hold until after I move…someday.

Today is, unless my notebook is a big ol’ liar, the last of the pile of samples from Tao Tea Leaf, their Precious Ali Shan-Premium, though reading the description, I am not sure if the Oolong from Ali Shan or an Oolong from Li Shan, I though about trying to figure it out through taste (or being sensible and contacting the shop) but then decided, maybe I spend too much time getting bogged down in the details, maybe I should just enjoy the tea and let it be the guide, not any preconceived notions of location. So tea, what do you have to tell me? The aroma is creamy, like all sorts of creamy, we have milky notes, sweet cream, honey butter, and almond milk. Underneath that sweet creaminess is a touch of gentle spicebush blossoms and faint papaya fruitiness.

Into my gaoshan pot the leaves go! The aroma of the now steeped and slightly unfurled leaves is gentle almond and chestnut at first, this moves to a nice burst of honey and flowers, honeysuckles, lilac, and that tropical fun burst of papaya at the finish. The liquid is where all the creamy action went, chestnuts and sweet cream with a nice burst of almond milk and distant honey drizzled bread.

First steeping is very creamy in the mouth (I am seeing a bit of a theme here) nice and smooth, one of my favorite thing about gaoshan Oolongs, they have some of the best mouthfeels in the tea world. The taste is sweet and creamy, almond milk and papaya notes mix with gentle flowery undertone. As the sipping continues the flowery notes build to a distinct honeysuckle note, and the finish has that same note with a lingering honey and chestnut aftertaste.

Second steeping, the aroma of the liquid has a nice spicebush note at the first, that moves to sweet cream and nutty notes of almond milk and chestnut. I am really liking the almond milk note, being one of my favorite non-dairy milks. The taste really ramps up the sweetness this steep, creamy and gentle nutty with a blend of chestnut, almond milk, coconut milk (specifically the milk substitute, not the super heavy stuff you get for cooking delightful Thai food, or coconut juice, the coconut note is very light in that stuff) and a touch of actual sweet cream. The finish is a lingering honeysuckle note that just keeps on going.

The third steep taught me something very valid, never rely on an internal timer (fun fact, any teas that require less than a five minute steeping time, I just keep watch on the leaves, count it out, or just wait til it feels right) for steeping tea while playing Terraria, I oversteeped the third steep by a good two minutes. Way to go, Amanda! The liquid was dark compared to the previous steeps, but the aroma was all flowers, no more cream, just a bouquet of lilacs and honeysuckles, very sweet and spring like. The taste was not at all bitter, not a bitter note to be found, hooray! The taste is intense creamy notes of chestnut and almond milk and then BOOM flowers! So many flowers, like I just fell face first into a lilac bush and got all its tasty nectar into my mouth. Well played, Oolong, well played!

Blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/10/tao-tea-leaf-precious-ali-shan-premium.html

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drank A Li Shan by Tao Tea Leaf
603 tasting notes

[Backlog] – I find myself reaching for hot teas despite the rising indoor and outdoor temperatures. Iced tea certainly has a time and place, but for me, nothing can replace the comfort of a hot cup of tea. I tend to drink black or darker teas in the morning and follow them with greener, lighter teas in the afternoon and evening.

The beginning of the sip reminds me a little bit of sweet butter with corn. It quickly changes into something more floral, but lingers around just long enough to keep me interested. The rest of the sip is very green, almost a bit earthy. Flowers are still quite prominent and the buttery corn is nowhere to be found. I don’t detect a whole lot of fruit as the description mentions.. mostly leaves and flowers. I think that I’d like this cup more if it had creamier, fruitier elements. I do enjoy a floral oolong, but I suppose that I have to be in the mood for it.

This is a very nice choice to drink during the summer. It has a satisfying richness, but is still light enough to sip into the late afternoon or early evening. This tea would be a good choice for someone’s first oolong. It gives you a little bit of everything – flowers, earth, a hint of creaminess – without sacrificing body or the cup as a whole. I like that no single flavor takes over, but that they all contribute something, leading to a very balanced cup.

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I’ve been drinking lots of oolong lately. I continue to love this. Definitely creamy and nutty with a nice cannabis aftertaste. I find this really comforting and relaxing.

Flavors: Cannabis, Creamy, Nutty


my fav ;)


Love this one!

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Alas! It did not storm yesterday, and on second looking at the weather, apparently I misread ‘early Thursday morning’ as early Tuesday, whoops! It is ok, because today was another comfy, blustery, windows open day, a day made for daydreaming about mountain forest frolics and coming home to a pile of fuzzy blankets and freshly baked bread. Ah, daydreaming!

Today we are looking at a tea that is anything but evocative of autumn, it is Tao Tea Leaf’s Shifeng Longjing Green Tea-Premium. Longjing (or also commonly known as Dragonwell, the translation of Longjing) is one of the most well loved teas of the spring harvest, some of us spend all year excitedly waiting the various harvests of this flat pan-fried leaves. The name Shifeng refers to one of the mountain peaks in the Xihu growing region, I think, it might be a mountain range and not a peak, or the name of a region in Hangzhou. As interesting as all that is, the real important thing is whether or not the tea is any good. The aroma is fairly delicate, not an overpowering scent, but it does have very distinct notes, specifically vegetal ones. Blending notes of snap peas, celery, greenbeans, asaragus, and a finish of sweet and sesame seeds. Sniffing this tea it is definitely a dragonwell, blending the iconic vegetal notes and that toasty sesame seed note that to me is very iconic, which I believe comes from the pan firing step of processing.

Dragonwell means time for the dragon gaiwan, just lungs everywhere! Though surprisingly I did not use my dragon cup, opting for my possible Tongzhi era cup instead, because it is still the new hotness in my collection. Now that the leaves have had a steeping, the aroma is heavy and thick in the vegetal department, especially the notes of asparagus, cooked cabbage, and greenbeans, it is a savory aroma with just a hint of nutty sweetness at the finish. The liquid is very light, but the notes that do waft out of my cup are green and fresh, asparagus with a hint of sauteed sesame seeds.

First steep, it starts out very smooth with a nice nutty blend of chestnut and sesame seeds, bringing out just a touch of sweetness at the start. This moves on to peas and edamame with a slightly savory sauteed bok choy and a slightly spicy (like VERY distant allspice) honey sweet finish.

On to the second steep, still a fairly light aroma, with asparagus and sesame seeds, adding a tiny hint of peas with this steep. The tasting experience is still very smooth, a nice light and smooth mouthfeel. The taste is all vegetal all the time, notes of asparagus and bok choy, edamame and peas, and a finish of greenbeans. Even though the notes are distinct none of them are very powerful, this is a delicate tea.

So, this last steep had pretty much no aroma, just a hint of asparagus. The taste was also pretty mild, almost nothing going on, like spring water and a touch of asparagus and bok choy. Even though this tea kinda petered out, I found the first two steeps delightfully light and refreshing. I am certainly fond of these delicate teas once in a while, as for an everyday drinker I prefer a Longjing with more of an oomph that I can just have, a tea as dainty as this needs concentration and complete focus, so not a bad thing on occasion.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/09/tao-tea-leaf-shifeng-longjing-green-tea.html

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