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Tao Tea Leaf

Recent Tasting Notes

drank Golden Assam by Tao Tea Leaf
1628 tasting notes

Second experience with this one confirms that it stays on the light side of the Assam spectrum—but as weather attempts to mellow out some, I tend to gravitate that direction with morning teas anyway.

Been one of those weeks where I’ve had to gulp without tasting, so a slow-down cup this morning before long day of elder care errands is very welcome. Thanks again to scribbles!

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80
drank Bi Luo Chun by Tao Tea Leaf
170 tasting notes

Ok, I steeped it 3 times today! 1st steep at 80°C for 3 minutes, then the 2 following steeps for 4 minutes apiece.

1st steep: buttery, vegetal, and slightly astringent, with a hint of sweetness.

2nd steep: amber liquor, slightly astringent, but surprisingly sweet with very little butter/vegetable taste.

3rd steep: halfway in between the first 2: sweeter than the first steep, but more astringent than the second.

Of the three, I prefer the 2nd steep the best. It was like honey!

Flavors: Honey

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80
drank Bi Luo Chun by Tao Tea Leaf
170 tasting notes

It’s Monday, and I’ve got a cupboard bursting with untasted teas! I’m going to try comparing some milk oolongs later this week, but for now, this seemed like a nice way to start.

I got this as a sample from Tao Tea Leaf when I met up with Indigobloom last week – just a little paper pouch.

Dry leaf: Long, dark, and quite spindly. It smelled faintly sweet, but I couldn’t quite compare it to anything. They were a bit hard to measure, but I tried to get 3 tsp of leaf as closely as I could. There should be at least as much leaf left in the sample.

Steeping parameters: The sample didn’t come with any instructions, so I fell back on the default green steeping parameters that I’ve seen others use: 1 tsp for 8 oz of water, 80°C for 3 minutes.

Liquor: The wet leaves smelled very heavily of salt, butter, and vegetables. After steeping, they were a nice olive/jade green, and I hope to get at least one more steep out of them. The liquor is a pale golden colour that shades down to a deeper amber as it sits in the pot. The taste is similar to the wet leaf aroma: buttered vegetables (I’m getting asparagus) with a slight taste of honey at the beginning of the sip. There’s also a bit of astringency as the sip progresses, leading to a bit of dry throat.

Verdict: I quite like this! It’s smooth and slightly sweet, while still retaining a lot of the crisp flavours I associate with green tea. I hope that this tea turns out to be characteristic of Bi Luo Chuns in general. I’ll edit the note once I get a second steep out of the pot.

Flavors: Asparagus, Butter

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 24 OZ / 709 ML
Indigobloom

Yum! Glad you enjoyed it :D

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drank Golden Assam by Tao Tea Leaf
1628 tasting notes

Malty is the general go-to descriptor for Assam teas, but in my vernacular, toasty fits much better. Not burnt toast, mind you; lightly toasted. A “3” setting on my well-used and crumby Oster.

This Assam from Tao Tea Leaf is just that with a little sweetness on the tip of the tongue. Enough black tea kick to noodge me awake (I hate daylight savings time. Sorry, night people. I want my extra light in the morning!)

Thanks to scribbles for this morning’s cuppa.

TheTeaFairy

Haha! I will now describe my " toasty" flavours with my toaster levels…mine goes up to 10, so that gives me a wide range of description, lol!

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drank Chinese Breakfast by Tao Tea Leaf
1628 tasting notes

(Updated tea info with the description currently on Tao Tea Leaf’s website)

Scribbles is my tea hero this week, sending some treats I definitely couldn’t find in these parts and might not think to seek out. I am absolutely reveling in this one. The tea description says this contains the same leaves that grow up to be pu-erh. You totally get that.

But the first thing this cup made me think of this morning was this: melt butter in skillet. Stir in about a tablespoon of brown sugar. Grab a slice of dark wheat or rye bread and brown both sides until nearly burned. Lick the crust. That’s it.

Steeped plain ol’ western style, about 3 minutes, no milk or sugar. This is gooooood.

K S

Wow. Just wondering what my wife will say when she catches me licking toast? Your description reads like what was going through my head with Zhu Rhong but didn’t have the sense to type out.

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84

Still exploring Dexter3657 ’s samples. Thank you so much for all these samples !
This one really earthy and roasty and has a strong burnt taste,. It even has almost a smocky taste when you have it very hot, not at all when it cools.
It is medium bodied. I think I would have prefered it a little stronger bodied due to the notes it reveals : earth,roast requier to my opinion and to my tastes a robust body.

Whatever, it is really a very good tea as it is.
Thanks again for sharing Dexter3657

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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78

Yay! Today I got my super giant mason jar mug from DAVIDsTEA!! I’ve been eying it for a while and finally decided to buy one.

I love it, I love it, I love it!!! There’s something so rustic and comforting about drinking from this big old fashion recipient.

It retains heat pretty well, the tea was still warm at the end of the 24oz I just finished!

To inaugurate it, I chose this generous sample from lovely Sil.

I like vanilla tea as long as it’s not “sickening vanilla”. When it’s done right, it can be really good.

This tea is interesting, it’s actually a very decent caramel tea. No mistake here, I said caramel cause that’s what it tastes like, yes very toffee like and burnt caramel. a good base tea, probably Assam I’m guessing, but can’t call it a vanilla tea at all. It’s somewhat creamy, but not in a vanilla kind of way. Anyways, that’s my impression.

Nonetheless, I still enjoyed it a lot and I’m glad I got the chance to try it in my super mug, thank you Sil!!!

Sil

it’s “different” for sure…

__Morgana__

I really want one of those jars! Wow, still warm 24 ounces later!

gmathis

Mason jars are my favorite kitchen and decorative container ever.

Dexter3657

Yay you love your new mason jar mug!!!!

Abby Noelle

Ahh..I’ve been wanting the mason jar too!!!

Amariel

I admit. I’ll likely be getting a mason jar too, once the weather warms a bit. I want to use it for cold steeps.

Sil

I so want to get a mason jar and a timolino…i just wish DT wasn’t so bloody expensive.

OMGsrsly

Me too, Sil! The mason jar is so neat, but I can’t do it. Not when I can get a mason jar for $1.99 at Canadian Tire. :)

__Morgana__

Does anyone know why David’s says not to put the mason jar in the dishwasher? Is it because of the heat? (It says it’s not safe over 208 degrees or something like that.) But it’s glass, so that’s just weird to me. I put glass stuff in the dishwasher all the time and I’ve also used boiling water in glass. Maybe it’s other parts that are the concern and not the glass part?

TheTeaFairy

Lol, the Mason jar mug seems to generates a lot of passion around here :-)
I hear you guys, I mean, I have lots of mason jars already in the house, for free, why pay over $30 box after taxes and shipping, it sounds silly! I resisted for couple of months and…caved in like I often do with DT teaware, I,m kind of addicted I guess!

Morgana, me either, I don’t understand the heat tolerance level, says it could break. With extreme variation, from cold to hot, I guessed I’d understand, but mason jars are good to boil , so that’s over 212 F. Weird.

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91

backlog from yesterday. This was my other morning cup of tea. I still really enjoy this one, though perhaps slightly less than i did the first time i had it. I do enjoy it still, though i often forget to pull it out from my cupboard. I need to stop that :)

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79
drank An Ji Bai Cha by Tao Tea Leaf
1258 tasting notes

I love how these leaves look when steeped! So soft and fluffy.
The taste follows suit, with a light airy sortof long jing profile. A hint of grass, leading into a rather sweet and nutty finish. I went for a second steep as well, which was more or less the same, only the sweetness took on a mild sort of mallow flavour.
Overall, quite enjoyable!

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For me, this is what oolong should be. It’s nice and dark, but not over roasted, it’s nutty and a little metallic, but everything is nicely balance.
If I ever say – you know that classic oolong taste – this is what I’m talking about. This is awesome. I really, really like it.
Thank you so much scribbles for sending some of this my way. Always enjoy trying Tao Tea Leaf – and this is a great example of why I love them. :))

scribbles

This is my favourite oolong.

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Mucked this one up yesterday latteing it too—if I’d seen ahead of time online (or just assumed based on TTL’s tendencies, which by the way often jive with my preferences) that the tea base was a starring player I’d have though twice about diluting that with milk. Alas, I know a lot of the charms of this tea were lost in a sea of foam, and I don’t have any of my sample left to give this its proper tasting. Even mishandled though, this was ok. Not remarkable, but fine. Whoops.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Sil

My comments keep going missing… If we ever do a swap, I can send you more to play with

ifjuly

that’s really kind of you to mention, Sil! i’d be up for a swap…someday, ha…i’m a little wiped out when it comes to swap boxes (i’m such a lightweight!). i feel like i spend 2 or 3 days a week every week in line at the post office and my postage funds are a bit depleted at the moment. but i’d love to swap sometime, maybe in a few weeks in spring, with you (and Cavo!).

also, if you can’t manage to find anyone with Lupicia’s Cookie i might be able to scrounge some up for you. i bought a packet loose a while back, but have given most of it away in various swaps and through my husband’s love for it for afternoon tea. i’m a little disorganized at the moment, but i think i might have a little bit left. when i know, and if you still need some, i can send it off if you like.

Sil

absolutely! I am never in a rush to swap – i usually try to line myself up with whomever i’m swapping with at least in terms of their preferences heh. I’m pretty easy going and i’m happy as long as they are :)

Appreciate the coOkie offer, Katiek is going to send me a teabag to try but if the postal system eats it…i will drop you a line in future heh :)

ifjuly

cool, cool. i’m glad you’ll get to try it first—to be candid i didn’t understand what all the fuss was about (it’s certainly not bad, but it didn’t leave much of an impression on me). i’ll try to find mine and yeah, feel free to drop me a line if you decide you must have more. (:

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It’s been a crazy couple of days, and I finally got a chance to just sit and relax, and let some if the stress go. This sweet honey tea is certainly helping to ease the tension.

This is a sad sipdown, but i am sure it will be back in my cupboard.

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69

I only slightly oversteeped this one this time, however I think I preferred it with a longer steep time – it seemed to mellow it out more and bring out the vanilla better. For some reason, I’m getting a nutty feel to this, and something slightly metallic from the vanilla. The base is interesting, yet I feel like I’ve either done something wrong, or it’s just a base that’s different from my liking. I want to have more, and then the metallic comes in, and a weird aftertaste. Hm. Going to chalk this up to user error again – I left it a touch too long to attend to my 6-year-old who hacking up a lung while playing games on my phone.

Thanks to Sil for generously sharing some of this with me!

1.5 tsp in 12oz.

Flavors: Metallic, Vanilla

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
Sil

haha. I haven’t quite decided how i feel about this one either.

MissB

Okay, well now I feel less, uh, bad, about this review!

Sil

OH like i care if others don’t like teas they get from me haha. to each their own silly :) Only way to get a fix on what ppl like is send them stuff, see how they feel and then note for next time…also…how else will you try ALL THE TEAS! :)

MissB

Ha! It’s more that I was wondering if it was just me… sometimes it’s really my palate messed up from, you know, things like zero sleep. If you’re also torn on this one, then I feel better with saying, “Yep, I tried it, and I’m cool with moving on now”.

ALL the teas! Heh. You’re well ahead of me on that one, for now. ;)

Sil

…for now.. heh i have to get pregnant at some point lol you can catch up then..

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Thanks to Indigobloom for picking up a sample of this tea for me. I LOVE ginger so I was pretty excited to try it. I think I may have underleafed this tea because it came out very light in color, not what I’d be expecting for a sencha. The flavor is pretty light, mildly vegetal with an almost floral note. I get the ginger in the background but when I make ginger herbal tea, I usully steep it for 5 minutes or more.

I wish I had more of this to play with, I bet it would be perfect cold steeped which would really allow the ginger to come through without oversteeping the green. I feel like I can’t really give this a proper rating dur to user error… :-)

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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Sipdown #45.
I’m sorry to report that I really blew it with this tea :(
I got sidetracked while it was steeping, forgot to set my timer, & it must have steeped for 10 minutes. This is especially disappointing because Sil bought this for me so I could sample it (she’s awesome that way). So I drank a few sips of it, & although it was bitter & kind of sharp, I know I would have enjoyed it if I hadn’t screwed up. It has that awesome Fujian character that I love about Jin Jun Mei & others. I can’t really describe it, but I love it.

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drank Bi Luo Chun by Tao Tea Leaf
609 tasting notes

Had this last night while starting Elementary (which BTW I’m immediately fond of—it’s like a breath of fresh air antidote to a lot of the problems I have with Sherlock). It was lovely and I’m going to enjoy drinking my little pouch down for sure (I love bilochuns!), but Verdant’s still takes the cake (definitely no slight on this though—I’m hardpressed to think of more than maybe 5 teas I’ve had as or more delicious). Resteeped a couple times, but not endlessly potent like Verdant’s either.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Sil

i like both sherlock and elementary for different reasons :) they both have their place in my world

Dinosara

I enjoy Sherlock, but I love Elementary more. Elementary lovers unite! :)

ifjuly

I would so love to see this: http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk/productions/16546-frankenstein my friend who has and tipped me off to it said “B/c it is nuts watching them both play the same guy after seeing both of them play the same guys. And it makes me love Miller even more as Sherlock. He is not afraid to be weak as a kitten. Neither is Cumberbatch, but the BBC Sherlock won’t let him.”

Dinosara

Woah, that is crazy! That would be so interesting to see.

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drank Keemun Gongfu by Tao Tea Leaf
609 tasting notes

Keemun + maple syrup time as I settle in to start Hannibal! It’s been a gloriously cozy, snuggly, mellow Sunday.

Flavors: Chocolate, Pine

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 24 OZ / 709 ML
Sil

good choice :)

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Kinda relieved this isn’t as perfect or honestly even much at all like Golden Moon’s mysterious Honey Orchid—on the one hand it’d be another resource for it (I’m mad for GM’s) but on the other I’d feel a little chumpy for getting sooooo excited about GM’s (one of the first teas I really fell in love with when I joined Steepster) only to discover it was just like everyone else’s what-I-learned-is-known-as dancong (if that’s even what it is…hard to tell, vague copy over at GM!). This doesn’t give me the insta-aaahh sigh of fragrant honey pleasure GM’s does. Honestly, it tastes a bit weak to me…but maybe I need to play around with the steeping paramters or do it gongfu sometime.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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This was good but doesn’t give me the immediate pleasure-pang satisfaction it seems to for most. Part of it is that inescapable sweet potato thing so many popular Chinese black teas have that I’m just bored to tears by personally. And I don’t know, for some reason that note always signals a wateriness to my brain even when I don’t think it’s actually there, hard to explain and I don’t know why. It was certainly not bad but all the wonderful notes others are mentioning I don’t get at all, just sweet starch and a little smoke. It seems I can only appreciate/detect longan when it’s waaaay overpoweringly flavored like in Lupicia’s Earl Grey Grand Classic. I’m such a subtaster. I did this gongfu but I think next time I will try it Western style and overleaf a bit.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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91

YYZ had this a few days and it was a nudge to pull this out and have it again this week. I’ve been trying to drink up older teas, and this doesn’t quite fall into that category since i picked it up in September. it DOES, however, fall into the category of delicious, delicious teas that i love. so there.

Terri HarpLady

That works for me!
:)

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This is a really nice Fujian tea that had a great mix of bright fruit and sweet cocoa notes. It is very similar in flavour to a tea I love and may not be able to replace, so I am grateful to Dexter3657 for this sample as I’ve been curious about it for some time.

Below are my observations. I steeped it 5 times.

This tea brewed into a medium amber brown.

Scent longan, cocoa, honey, malt. Both bright and rich smelling.

1.5 TSP/200 ml/95°C/1 min

Nice balance of bright citrusy longan, honey,with cocoa in the finish. Slight hint of dark bread crust, cherry and spice.
1 min scent similar to above but stronger sweet cocoa note.
Long an, stronger cocoa with honey underrneath

1:30. Longan honey, cocoa in back again but still quite present.
2:10 longan dominant other flavours present underneath. Becomes sweeter as it cools

4 min slightly tart sweet potato with cocoa honey note

Altogether this is really a nice tea that I will purchase in the future. Thanks!

yyz

I changed the picture and description of this tea as this is the only King Pin on their website and it is described as a staple at the tea shop.

Fjellrev

Beautiful notes in there!

yyz

Thanks! I meant jing pin;)

Dexter3657

Glad you liked it. This is my favorite black tea, and I share it quite often – I don’t think others love it as much as I do – but it’s nice to read other’s reviews. :))

caile

Sounds very nice!

Sil

Love this one!

ifjuly

oooh, longan! I love zhenghes and have enjoyed everything I’ve tried from TTL, so onto the list it goes!

Dexter3657

ifjuly did I not send you any of this? I can if you would like to try it. :))

ifjuly

you did, and I’m a total doof! I went to add it to my wishlist and saw it was already in my cupboard! hahaha my bad.

ifjuly

(more shameful “your stash is out of control” symptoms…)

Sil

i bought this one after dexter shared it with me..love it as well!

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I was prepared for this one to be subtle; I’ve seen enough copy from various tea vendors disclaiming their rou gui oolongs as being subtly cinnamon-y, the kind of thing that might disappoint someone used to flavored tea. But actually this was more on the nose than I expected. The dry leaf smells deliciously of cinnamon, and I like that it’s not cinnamon sugar, more like the Vietnamese kind I use to bake with. Warm but not candy powdery. Steeped it’s less sharp and clear, but you still get that soft warmth of baking cinnamon as well as the rocky element I’m used to from Wuyi oolongs. I really enjoyed this one and am glad I know now when I want that kind of thing rou guis are a good, maybe best option (my mishaps with hot cinnamon flavored black teas made me wary!). A lot of tea shops I like offer a rou gui oolong and now I feel confident sampling them when I make future orders. Bet this is a good specimen in particular; I’ve been pleased with the quality of just about everything from TTL I’ve tried.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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drank Milk Oolong by Tao Tea Leaf
179 tasting notes

Just as the tea description says, as soon as I opened the bag the creamy, milky aroma was immediately apparent. I was sure I was in for a treat.

So far I’ve had 2 cups and about to go for a third. As the tea aroma suggested, the brews were sweet and creamy. But, I didn’t find this any more special than another milk oolong I had tried a while ago (which was far less expensive). It was good, but not outstanding.

Fjellrev

I see the potential in milk oolongs, but still haven’t found one that is outstanding.

scribbles

This is only my second milk oolong, so I don’t have a lot of comparison experience. I’ve read Mandala’s version is quite good.

Fjellrev

I haven’t had theirs either but it’s been on my list. Maybe it’s the answer!

scribbles

I hope so! My next order from them will definitely include some.

mrmopar

Mandala’s is very good.

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