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Tao Tea Leaf

Recent Tasting Notes

77

I FINALLY arrived home…after 3 hours spent in the trains, subways and buses.There was a fire in a Parisian station and the traffic was terrible on several lines.Horrible.
It’s now almost 11 and I’ll go for a rose tea because, to me, rose always symbolized rest and quiet. yes : Rose is relaxing, no doubt.

This is a lovely mild rose tea. Not the kind of rose to shout I’M A ROSE on the roofs. No, it’s a delicate and somehow even a shy rose.

It reminds me a lovely Pierre Ronsard’s poem about rose and youth(sorry in Old French):Ode à Cassandre
Mignonne allons voir si la rose qui ce matin avait déclose n’a point perdu cette vesprée…finishing by
Cueillez, cueillez votre jeunesse : Comme à cette fleur la vieillesse
Fera ternir votre beauté

Meaning Carpe Diem because even if you’re young… you’re getting older like a rose…

And for me, this tea is the opposite : young rose, you’re too young – please get older and we’ll see your magnificence.

I’m watching a TV show about our president and as I’m sipping my rose tea, I have a thought for the French first Lady. Hold on Valérie…you’re a clever and lovely rose and you desserve really better than this boor…

Thank you JustJames for sharing this lovely tea !

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

Or in the phrase Aaron Sorkin loves to quote (it’s been both in The West Wing and in The Newsroom), “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may…” ;-) I love rose teas and was glad to hear about this one!

Ysaurella

I love rose teas as well. Until now my favourite remains Rose of Dammann Frères but I should try now a Mariage Frères one

TheTeaFairy

Ahhh! Je me souviens de ce sublime poème Ysaurella, thank you so much for this beautiful note. Perfect tea for the occasion. ( I’m exhausted just by reading about your daily travelings…must be really hard, you have all my compassion…)

Ysaurella

Thank you TheTeaFairy :)

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This is a lovely little tuo. Very young, but still very palatable. I definitely prefer the shou over this, but, most likely I will be picking up both versions in bulk. :p
Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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Darn. I was really hoping that I wouldn’t like this shou because Tao is located in Canada and takes a long while to ship to NYC. But… darnit… I love this. I am such a sucker for cute little tuo cha and I am an even bigger sucker for rice. The aroma is amazing. My entire apartment smells like sweet sticky rice. I can totally see this becoming my everyday, relaxing shou. I will have to find a place in Chinatown that sells these in bulk.
Obvious notes of sticky rice, earthiness, and cream. The body is thick and heavy. It coats the tongue with either oiliness or cream, I cannot decide. It has a nice length. The throat has a strange cooling effect that reminds me of mint. It’s a very lasting effect.
It’s a perfect, little, inexpensive tuo. :)

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec
boychik

let me know when you find it. i really liked from Puerhshop.com both shu and sheng. and they are like 25c a piece. really cheap IMO. when i will place an order i will definitely add them. they are hit in my family.

Tea Pet

A friend and I went on a tea mission in China Town today. I was only able to find two rice tuo cha from Sun’s Organic Tea Shop. Amazingly, I was able to pick up some 1970 Menghai Sheng, though! What a find!
It seems like Puerhshop.com is the best option. :)

boychik

Oh I just love Puerhshop. I got my order in two days, very reasonable shipping, affordable puerh, huge selection. They include samples. I think they are pretty popular among Steepsterers.

Tea Pet

Did the rice shou you got from them have a nice strong rice aroma? Was the rice taste long lasting after a few steeps? I’m thinking about placing a rather large order for some! Thanks, boychik!!

boychik

I just love it. pretty potent and not artificial. Do you want a sample?

Tea Pet

If you have any to spare, that would be very much appreciated. However, truly, I do not want to inconvenience you!

boychik

What are we here for? Pm me

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The first time I tried this I did not like it. The second time I tried it I loved it and hoarded the last piece. Today I’m on the fence.

The brew is dark with a strong rice aroma. I just finished the third steep and the sticky rice flavour is still present and quite strong. I’ll keep steeping until the taste weakens.

A possible re-stock when I next visit Tao’s shop.

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Was caught offguard at how toasty, almost smoky this tea is in the first steep. It’s not that strange every-tea-type-all-at-once-coming-out-a-wash flavor and odd darker color the Zen Tea Yellow Bud was, more like the delicate nature of a white tea but an assertive top note more akin to smoky Chinese black tea and the sweet fullness of a Chinese green. Huh! Rather nice.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec
Dexter3657

Huh, interesting. I think I’ve only had one yellow tea, and IIRC it was sort of a cross between a green and a white. Not really to my taste, but this sounds interesting.

Sil

i had one yellow tea ages ago..i think it was from harney that blew my mind. and then it was never restocked and i forgot where i got it from..and since then all yellows have been pretty meh. teafairy sent one to me so i’m hoping that changes my stance on yellows heh

ifjuly

I can’t make heads or tails really of yellow tea because I’ve tried maybe four from different companies and they haven’t been remotely similar. It also seems yellow tea is pretty rarely exported and perhaps some of what I’ve tried hasn’t been actual yellow tea, not sure. But one was really dark and then tasted like a neutralized mix of every tea type, one was as close to the color of plain water as tea could be and very light but DELICIOUS, like being in a summertime vegetable garden, so good, this one was toasty a bit like a Wuyi oolong, and one was pretty much the same as a white tea. I really have no sense of what a yellow tea profile is, ha.

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Another Sipdown from my Sil Box!
Thanks So much for knowing that I love Ginger, Sil! BTW, I ordered a ridiculous amount of Sichuan Caravan, LOL.
I think Ginger is one of the best things with Shu, or really with any dark type of tea. This one strikes a really nice balance, with the ginger & puer both at just the right level. The Shu is a nice one, a little earth, a little semolina. It’s perfect for my day, as my guts are a little out of sync still. I made myself another bowl of soup (chicken stock, chicken, spiralized sweet potato, green onion, garlic, ginger, coconut milk, & a little red curry paste). I’m having soup, the puer, & a bottle of ginger kombucha.

Sil

i quite like this one..but sometimes tao’s prices make my head hurt.

Terri HarpLady

yeah, I have to agree.

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69

Huge thanks to Sil for sharing some of this with me!

I oversteeped this by a few minutes, so hopefully I’ll do a better job with my timings with the next (and last) cup of this.

This strongly reminds me of the pu-erh that OMGsrsly shared with me that I tried the other day. Soko? It smells earthy and similarly, although it tastes less aged and more… vanilla black. The base is super strong (likely due to overbrewing) and I really only got a bit of sweetness after adding some Truvia. A bit surprised at the flavor here, and the lack of bitterness as well.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more

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73

Finally got around to trying this one, though it’s a bit silly given that i’m sick. I wanted a vanilla tea though so i pulled this one out. it’s for sure a black tea with a dash of vanilla – the base, as angrboda mentioned is heavily present. I’m ok with that because i like being able to taste the tea bases. :)

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85

Merry belated, Steepsterites!

We had English Christmas this year which involved roast turkey dinner, Christmas pudding (Americans, what do you traditionally eat for your Christmas dinner?), lots of presents, Morris dancing in a pub carpark in the village and a pantomime in Ipswich during which I even took part in the shouting and booing (Oh yes I did!), and my bestest best present this year was a Kindle Paperwhite which I’ve been playing with today. I’m still at the stage of learning how to use it, but I have discovered that I can charge the battery using my phone charger and how to download classics for free from Project Gutenberg. And in case anybody was wondering, we were nowhere near any of the flooded areas and had power the entire time.

Before Christmas, however, I received a very sweet Christmas card from Sil who had decided to spoil me with a couple of samples of vanilla flavoured black tea. This is one of them.

It smells very sweet and vanilla-y, but also, I think, a little caramel-y. There is also an aroma as if it has a very powerful base or possibly a slightly smoky base, but I think that might be something to do with what I’ve had in this mug earlier today, so I don’t think it really belongs. (Mind you, it does smell rather like a sort of base that would be lovely with some added flavouring.)

Upon sipping… regards cup suspiciously it does actually seem to have a rather strong base. It tastes very Black Tea. All grain-y and full bodied. It’s a bit Assam-y and the vanilla is also coming out in the same sort of way that it often does on an Assam base, so if this is not Assam, I think it might be something fairly similar. And yes, I know I mentioned something earlier about having had something in this mug earlier this afternoon that may have ‘bled’ aromas into this cup, but I don’t think this experience has anything to do with that previous cup. That one was nothing like any sort of Assam at all, you see.

Anyway it strikes me as something along the lines of a vanilla-flavoured Assam, and I think Assam makes a really good vanilla base and provides a generally good experience. I’m very pleased with this tea.

Jillian

I don’t know about the States, but here in Canada the usual supper is either glazed ham or turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce accompanied by mashed potatoes and various other veggie side dishes like brussel sprouts (ew). My mom also makes this delicious dish of baked acorn squash and apples.

Sil

I’m glad you enjoyed it :)

Fjellrev

Happy holidays to you too! Jillian’s right about Canada. My family also prepares various Ukrainian dishes. Desserts vary with every family, I think? Usually cookies are common. My grandma also made lemon pie this year.

Roswell Strange

That sounds like just about every fancy Christmas dinner I’ve ever had here in Canada. This year, my Aunt made a Pecan and Pumpkin pie for dessert. My Mom tends to make croissants with “Holiday Dip” (it’s like this cream cheese type dip but with cranberry in it too) for dessert.

Terri HarpLady

Sounds like an awesome fun time!

Tony’s xmas dinner for his kids was a spread of lunchmeats, cheeses, breads, various olives, etc.

Me & my kids do xmas breakfast. When they were younger it was Kugle (kind of like mac & cheese, only with apples & cinnamon added), fruit salad, scones. We used to also do a turkey dinner, pretty much a repeat of thanksgiving.

Nicole

Most American dinners are very similar to the one Jillian described and as Terri noted, pretty much the same as Thanksgiving dinners. In my mom’s family, we often skip the turkey and have a pork roast of some kind instead. This year it was a fantastic pork wellington stuffed with apples and wrapped with pancetta.

Bonnie

When my parents were living it seemed like a replay of Thanksgiving with turkey. Now…I changed it all to ribs! We’re a blended ethnic family AND Eastern Orthodox Christians. We observe the traditional 6 week Nativity Fast and don’t eat meat or dairy until Christmas day (little ones have dairy). African-American Soul Food for dinner and Scots Eggs with scones for brunch is how we FEAST! (The Russians and Ukrainians held a 12 dish dinner at Church Christmas Eve after Liturgy).
This year for New Year’s Day I’m making (Greek) Vasilopita (St. Basil’s Bread) with a coin in it. You can see a picture and get the recipe on my Pinterest under Bonnie Johnstone…Eastern Orthodox Food board.

Peggie Bennett

Thanksgiving with my parents is usually turkey and the traditional sides. Christmas is turkey and prime rib roast, along with crab. This year, my brother decided he wanted filet mignon roast as a side dish to the other two meats.

yyz

For us its usually Turkey of some sort, with mash potatoes, vegetables of some sort, red cabbage, salad, and sometimes. Turnip. When I was little we would often have carrot pudding, or mincemeat tart for dessert, but now it’s usually lemon cake and cookies sent by one on aunts great aunts from Germany, My uncle usually brings Shrimp. If at one of my other Aunts it turns into a three day gourmet fest competition between her and her sisters with Champagne breakfast, and meal consisting of pancetta stuffed roast in mediera, and poultry of all sorts. Very dangerous… Though one year we had a Vegetarian Christmas when my cousin was going through her continental vegetarian phase. To be quite honest though at that time I rarely ate meat as well.

Bonnie

Everyone’s food sounds great! I am always alone for New Year’s. It’s been this way for a long time. Sooooo, if you get depressed…drop me a note. I don’t get depressed, but I’ll be glad to keep your company!

ashmanra

Most of my life, Christmas dinner was pretty much a replay of Thanksgiving dinner: turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, candied yams or sweet potato casserole, rolls, cakes, pies. But for the past few years I have been making eye of round roast instead, as the family seemed to tire of the turkey leftovers too quickly since they had just had them a few weeks before. Of course, gravy and mashed potatoes are still a MUST because it is some of the best food on Earth! We had creamed spinach and always macaroni and cheese with both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, as well as usually corn on the cob.

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drank Purple Pu-er (Sheng) by Tao Tea Leaf
4041 tasting notes

sample sipdown…i think i’m going to try this one again in future. it really didn’t taste like a whole lot of anything so i’m not sure how that works lol i even steeped it for super long after a few sessions. go figure

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70

sipdown! (137) I’ve been drinking this most of the morning and i have to say it’s not a bad little tuocha. There are others i much prefer, but this is a pretty decent average puerh. more to come with a few more resteeps.

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drank Golden Assam by Tao Tea Leaf
2485 tasting notes

Another pleasant tea that I drank this morning from sil.
I can’t really much about it, but it I remember that I enjoyed it, as I was getting ready to run out the front door.

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Yeah, baby!
It’s drizzly outside, raining on & off. My house is heated with radiators (water, not steam), so it’s nice & toasty in here. I’ve been practicing on & off all morning, taking breaks to teach when a student shows up, & now I’m finishing off my lunch. I’ve drank some other teas, & will try to post them, but for now, I wanted this one, & I’m loving it! This cool weather really makes me want something smokey & rich, & this is it!
Some Lapsangs taste like somebody added liquid smoke to the tea, or like you’re at a BBQ. Not this one. The smoke is subtle, & it’s buttery & sweet! A nice caramelized brown sugar taste, & I didn’t even add maple syrup! Delicious!

Thanks, Sil, for the sample, & if you want to split a larger quantity with me, or with our BBB, THAT would be awesome!

TastyBrew

BBB!!! I want to try this too! Sounds awesome.

Terri HarpLady

Yay!! I think you’ll love it, TB!

Sil

Can you send me a poke about this on Facebook so I don’t forget? At the salon tonight

Sil

Terri…is this the one you were trying to figure out??

Terri HarpLady

Must be! :)

Sil

mm k. I’ll put it on my list of teas to pick up for sharing with the box. Might be a few rounds but we’ll get there. I have another from tao leaf to share with you and tastybrew too

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89

i much enjoyed this tea. after an appreciative umpteenth viewing of the brilliant set builds and costuming skills of hellboy II. not to mention the star himself— obviously there are more famous and graceful stars but ron perlman is colourful and honestly his irreverence entertains me, lol! and for a kid born in 1950 with a cleft lip and palate…. i dunno— could you tell? some of the best speakers come from challenging circumstances. darth vader had a terrible stammer, hellboy had multiple facial reconstructions starting as an infant (can’t have been fun), and the kid from breaking bad actually does have cerebral palsy. it’s good to see real people on the boob tube. if i’m going to pay netflix to babysit my brain ideally it should be babysat by a realistic cross-section of society, lol.

surprise, surprise, i digress and i haven’t even begun about the tea!

this was a very different green than i’ve ever had before. naturally sweetness, as well as a nice light flavour. no earth, nuttiness, musk, sea weed, floral or fruit tones. no wood. no muscat. no rice….. but about half way through my cup something changed and i got a very light, sweet smoke. i am not a fan of smoke. in the least. and yet….. it was as though as essence was captured from incense but without the perfume. a thin stick of sandalwood burned perhaps until nothing but white ash was left and wafted in the vicinity of the tea as it dried.

very nice. i will most certainly reorder. it absolutely doesn’t need sweetener. clear, light smooth with a very gentle segue into the finest smoke i have ever experienced.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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drank Cream Earl Grey by Tao Tea Leaf
608 tasting notes

I was quite impressed with this—a lot of cream EGs are so creamy-sweet they no longer taste much of “clean” bergamot/classic EG, but this one strikes a great balance. It is sweet and creamy, richer than standard Earl, but you never forget it’s an Earl you’re drinking. I really enjoy Della Terra, Zen Tea, and Upton Imports’ cream EGs but they’re so creamy I don’t tend to think of them as EGs really in that when I crave that particular taste they’re not what I’d reach for (they’re more for when I just want creamy vanilla tea in insta-latte-ish, almost dessert coffee-like form). This is more like, hey, I definitely want EG with all its clean fresh bergamot-y Earlness, buuuut it’s cold outside so I also kinda want it to be richer and sweeter. Really delivers. Also, the smell steeping is heavenly; you get that immediate Earl Grey gratification but also trip all the pleasure center wires with that sweet, smooth vanilla. Yum!

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

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A lovely sample from Dexter3657.

I didn’t read anything about this tea before I steeped it, I just went with the directions included on the sample packet. :) Sil apparently says it tastes like LB, and I’ll agree. The flavours are not to my taste at all. Not really smoky, more roasty and dark with a tiny bit of smoke. Plain it was better once it cooled, but it was generally much nicer with maple syrup. I guess I’m really not into teas with this flavour profile (yet).

The rest of the sample will go to my brother… maybe he’ll like it better!

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Smells so much of honey. I admit, I love black teas with natural honey notes (Golden Fleece and Honey Orchid are two of my favorites). Interesting it’s from Lincang; I could be imagining it but it seems to have that clean almost minty quality (albeit subtler) Loose and Luscious Lincang Pu Erh has. I really like it; it sets it apart. You don’t think it will work with sweet and “dark” flavors but it does.

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

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81

In search of perfect chai quest continues. This one is a little sharper, spicier than the previous one I was drinking. My previous note said that this was clove heavy. I’m not getting that today – must depend what ends up in your tsp. I’m upping the rating some, this is a decent chai, but not as good as Camellia.

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drank Earl Grey Classic by Tao Tea Leaf
608 tasting notes

A nice basic Earl, not flowery like a lot of the ones most loved here, a bit astringent and rather clean-tasting, more like what I remember growing up and hence what I cherish. I’d say that like the Upton Imports Original Earl Grey it’s an agreeable “don’t think about it” tea choice for, say, travel or some other situation you want your tea to be at least a certain level of good but don’t want to be carrying overly precious cargo lest it get lost or steeped under iffy conditions or had while distracted. Tried this over afternoon tea with the husband (I am seriously in love with this ritual we’ve got going now, especially now that it’s dark so early), went nicely with ricotta marmalade ladyfingers and turkey cream cheese blackberry jam triangles, cut the sweetness so you could appreciate both the tea and the treats more. My husband’s cup of Adagio Tiger Eye meant chocolate and caramel aromas wafted around as a bonus.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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34

The tea itself tasted just fine. My main negative comment goes to Tao Tea Leaf itself, in that the 26g I was provided consisted mainly of crushed dust, with few intact tea leafs sitting on top. Perhaps I got the last bit from the larger bag, but I am very disappointed. That being said, my other teas that were shipped were still intact.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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What is happening to me, reaching for a rose tea, ha. Now that I’ve had a couple that were good I’m more open to the idea. And this does a really good job of being balanced, where the rose is fresh and heady and very present but not ACK, POTPOURRI over-the-top. That said after a while as it cools it does seem a bit soapy to me, where I can’t tell if it actually is a taste that’s there or my brain’s associating the rose with soapy bubble bath of its own accord. Also, I don’t taste a lot of strong tea flavor here at all, but maybe a stronger base wouldn’t be very agreeable…this feels like a surprisingly light, fresh tea for a flavored black one.

Not bad though. If you like rose tea this is nice quality one.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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80
drank Imperial pu-erh shu by Tao Tea Leaf
4041 tasting notes

sipdown! (162) You know what goes amazingly well with puerh? Pumpkin pie fudge. Yeah…it’s barely lunch time but i’m totally enjoying a small piece of fudge with this puerh. This is a pretty tasty puerh. It lacks some of the intricacies of some of my favourite puerh, but this would do in a pinch anytime! It’s got depth to it, which i really enjoy and it held up well over a number of steepings.

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I drank too many dessert tea’s today (but too lazy to log all of them) and really needed something either salty or roasty to cut into all that sugar. This was the choice, and it was perfect – roasty with mineral notes.

I’ve been neglecting my oolongs since being on a black tea and dessert tea binge. I love oolong. I don’t know why I’m not drinking them up.

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