Recent Tasting Notes


Nasty, ruined Yerba Mate for me, can’t even drink it, puked it up this morning, don’t mention it to me, I hate it, doesn’t need to exist.

205 °F / 96 °C 6 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

Oh no, that sucks! I have had some good mate and horrible mate (as with any tea).

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drank Roasted Barley Tea by Unknown
1017 tasting notes

I dunno if I’m logging this in the right place. I’ve had malt barely teas before (kinda meh) and I’ve bought a few korean barely teas and they’d come out flavorless. I wanted another go though and was happy to find Korean Barely Tea in the Here’s Hoping Teabox 3.

Awesome timing too, a blogger I met at the World Tea Expo recently made a post on steeping this grainy roasty tea http://thirstyfortea.com/2014/06/13/korean-barley-tea/ and I used her directions of boiling it for 20 minutes. I then put it in the fridge and served cold.
Really good stuff – sweet, roasty with a bit of corny flavor. A sweeter dark roast houjicha. I think I’ll buy more of this stuff next time I’m at my local Korean grocery store (love going there, they always play G Dragon)

Boiling 8 min or more

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drank Oolong by Unknown
1692 tasting notes

Never have been able to source this one, but the price is still right at the Fox Farm bulk bin at a whopping 31 cents an ounce. It’s my husband’s favorite summer iced tea. Some oolongs get bitter when you sun-tea or cold steep them; this one has a roasted, nutty personality that takes abuse nicely.

It’s been my favorite kind of “get-to” day…been busy puttering (manufacturing a “fingerprint recognition sensor” for 9-year-olds with a ziplock bag of aloe vera gel) and shopping (buy 2, get 1 free used books at Vintage Stock). Believe I’ll pour me a big glass of this, put my feet up and rest from my exertions.

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drank Toasty Oolong by Unknown
72 tasting notes

I stopped into the local “boutique” tack shop (shop that carries higher end/higher quality horse gear) to get a hug from my friend who owns it. She’d heard I’ve been having a rough go of it, and excitedly handed me a little washi tin with a mysterious toasted oolong inside. She had picked the tea and tin up in separate countries during a backpacking trip through Asia last year but couldn’t remember where the tea itself came from. But she gave me a GIANT hug (I had a bit of a cry) and we hid in her office and shared a pot.

It’s LOVELY. It reminds me of a houjicha mixed with a tie guan yin. It’s toasty rather than fermented, and in lovely little curls which unfurl to reveal a lovely crinkly leaf as it steeps.

I need to search for something similar for when I run out because I can see myself drinking it regularly. Toasty and nutty yet a touch creamy with a fresh finish.

Random acts of kindness. They make crappy days sooooo much less crappy <3

Flavors: Nutty, Roasted, Sweet, Toasty


You changed your name! I love it! :D
Also yay for random acts!

Bear With Me

Figured it was suiting since Pony’s no longer going by Ceylon Star since it’s being discontinued (Bear With Me is his new show name. Like the double entendre? ;) ) and the timing worked out because I’m sure people are sick of my going insane-ness so, uhh, please “Bear With Me”?


I love your pony’s new show name. :) So cute. Also ♥

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drank Direwolf Grey by Unknown
1294 tasting notes

Thank you Stephen Hockman for swapping! I’d say I’m a fan of the book, the first one anyway (so many books to read I haven’t read the others yet) and haven’t seen the show. Direwolf reminds me of Jon Snow, who is maybe my third or fourth favorite character in the first book, if only he’d just grow up a little bit. :D

This is a nice enough tea though – I see orange peel, lavender and lemongrass in the dry blend. The taste is a punch of fresh lavender so much so it kind of overpowers the blend. It’s nice lavender though. I’m not sure if there is actually bergamot in this one, can’t really taste it. The black tea is mild. I like it, enough to enjoy the couple of teaspoons I have anyway. For an EG it falls short, but if you forget it’s supposed to be an EG, it’s pretty nice. The second steep was just as good.

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This is a sample I got from Rie last year. I wasn’t expecting much, as in the time since that swap I’ve realized I really don’t care for green oolongs. But I’m pleased to report that this is probably the nicest green oolong I’ve tasted yet. The unlovely flavors I’ve come to know as orchid and honeysuckle are present, but they’re so much more delicate here than in other green oolongs I’ve had. This still isn’t something I’d keep in stock (and it’s a good thing, since I wouldn’t be able to get my hands on any more even if I wanted to), but I’m surprised to find that I’m genuinely enjoying my cup.

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drank Green Tea by Unknown
1692 tasting notes

This one remains a mystery and I have been too lazy to take and post a picture. It is in a lovely white tin with blue roses and a medallion that looks like a Blue Willow china plate.
The only English on the tin and the inner pouch is a very awkwardly spelled description (lovely “flayour” and “tenderraw” leaves) that provides no further description of its provenance. The lid of the tin was sealed with a very prominent green “2014” sticker and it came to me via a friend’s hubby who was in China very early this year.

Anyway, it steeps to the color of champagne/honeysuckle and is heavy, satiny, and tastes like sweet hay. Made a whole pot so I could enjoy a regular cuppa and try chilling a jar as well. At the rate I’m going, there may not be any left to chill.

Edit after I Googled “2014 green tea blue and white tin” (sometimes you find stuff!) It appears to be a Bi Luo Chun: http://www.aliexpress.com/item/150g-Top-Grade-biluochun-Spring-2013-green-Tea-Chinese-health-Care-Weight-loss-Bi-Luo-Chun/1412979198.html


That tin is so pretty!


I have always loved the Blue Willow china pattern—that’s what the tin reminds me of.


That is beautiful! I use an odd assortment of Spode Blue Room dishes, mostly the floral series, that I collected at discount shops over the years. My only blue willow is a couple of pieces I inherited from my godfather, and he inherited them from his mother. I display those, but don’t use them.


Lost the only BW plate I had in the you-know-what…ever watch Andy Griffith closely? That’s what they eat on for everyday!


I’ve always loved blue willow as well. I love these blue and white tons as well. They have almost sucked me into certain aliexpress purchases but so far I’ve controlled myself.

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drank Tai Ping Hou kui by Unknown
302 tasting notes

This is a gift from a friend who was making frequent work trips to China. He’s changed companies, so no more trips to China for him, and no more tea direct from China for me. Ah well. It was nice while it lasted.

Mine is not in the packaging pictured here, but it is unknown. I have no clue anything about it. The only bits I can read on the package are TaiPing HouKui and 3-5 twice and 90°C. It is in a really nice tin that unfortunately was dented in transit. It still seals nicely, so at least I can store it in that.

So I guessed 3-5 minutes at 90°C based on the above information.

This is underleafed. It’s really hard to measure these leaves. I tried about 2t-ish but the leaves are not measuring friendly. Whites are easier to measure. I guess I should have pulled out the scale, but my husband is working on a project in the kitchen, and I had no space to work. As I’m basically out of water now (he’s doing a plumbing project) I can’t try again.

I will write up a better review once I try it weighing it. I can tell, though, that I’m going to like this one.

It’s a good thing because I’ve got a pretty good amount of it.

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drank Tie Guan Yin by Unknown
191 tasting notes

Dexter gave me this sample of an unknown Tie Guan Yin . I found a few people have some unknown Tie Guan Yin teas so I’m posting my review here. Thanks Dexter!

This was a roasty oolong but light roast taste. I would almost say it’s between a light and full roasted oolong but it does lean a lot more toward the roasted side. I had this tea yesterday and can’t remember a whole lot on it but I know I did like it even though there were things about it that are similar to black teas. A good change when I’m tired of the light buttery oolongs.

195 °F / 90 °C

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drank Shuixian by Unknown
91 tasting notes

After trying Verdant’s Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong recently, I wanted to revisit this one and compare. It stands out as almost the polar opposite on the spectrum of smoky teas. The smokiness here is much more mellow and soft, and taking a deep breath of the aroma is highly soothing. The flavor, though, is less smooth than the Xiao Zhong, with a “fuzziness” lent to it by the various roasty elements, and the finish is drier, but it is still quite enjoyable and has a lingering sweetness.

This tea in particular has me thinking about how much presentation affects perception. If I had ordered this through a prestige company, I might be trying to describe all the aromas I can find in it—woodsmoke, tobacco, vanilla cream. If it had been served in little ceramic cups in a dim sum restaurant, as similar teas often are, I might not have paid as much attention to it, or just concluded it was a pretty good crowd-pleaser. So it’s important to appreciate something on its own merits and not how much I might have paid for it…

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drank Oolong by Unknown
297 tasting notes

This is the free tea we have at work, so of course I drink it on the daily! I wish I knew which company it’s from. I should ask my boss. I do know that it comes from a giant teabag that just steeps in the tea machine all day, waiting to dispense the deliciousness. (I should clarify that I work in a restaurant.)

Anyway, I can taste burnt cocoa notes and baked bread. It’s a very good tea. Keeps me functioning throughout my shifts, and the customers seem to enjoy it, too!

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drank Shuixian by Unknown
91 tasting notes

This is one of those mystery teas I sometimes end up with from friends and family in China. It has an incredibly rich, woodsmoke sort of aroma and taste, with a little bit of sweetness underneath reminiscent of longan fruit.

When I had more of this, I used to brew up a cup whenever I felt like I needed inspiration. After trying a few more subtle oolongs lately, I think the smokiness in this one is a little too in-your-face for it to be perfect, but it’s still one of my favorites.

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drank Matcha by Unknown
888 tasting notes

Hello Steepster! I have been away from you for a few days, with the business of last week’s moving to the new half of the office plus a 2 day conference for work, and yard work on Saturday. But I have returned, and had a wonderful tea experience yesterday!

I found out that the botanical gardens near my city host Japanese tea ceremonies. This year they are only offering them on 4 days, and yesterday was the first 4, and on top of that, the only day that offered ceremonies in the small tea room (Ro ceremony). Only 5 people are allowed to partake in this ceremony due to room size restraints, so me, my boyfriend, and 3 other people partook in this special event. Matcha tea was prepared in the traditional method with a whisk and a unique bowl for each person, and we ate a sweet (wagashi) before drinking the tea to complement the tea. We were also shown the way to drink matcha in a ceremony, with the turning of the bowl so as to not drink from the front of it, and the etiquette of drinking tea before the person to your left. It was a truly beautiful experience, and the room was absolutely lovely and simple, one scroll on the wall with a simple flower arrangement as the only focal points in the room other than the kettle, a large cast iron one that was sunk in the middle of the floor (in the hearth). This room also had authentic Tatami mats, while the larger one for larger ceremonies had synthetic.

Oh, and the matcha was fantastic! Enough for 3.5 gulps, and it went perfectly with the wagashi! I thought about asking where they sourced their matcha, but was enjoying the ceremony too much to want to bother with questions that might infringe on my sense of tranquillity.

Overall, a beautiful, relaxing experience that I highly recommend if you ever get the chance to experience a tea ceremony. I would love to do one again sometime, and feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to partake in such a lovely event! My boyfriend also enjoyed it immensely. I also learned the 4 principles of Japanese tea ceremonies: harmony, respect, purity and tranquillity. I felt all 4 of these principles and it was wonderful! Afterwards we wandered through the botanical gardens, even though it was snowing, and a lovely feeling of peace settled over me. A great way to spend a Sunday morning!


That sounds wonderful.


Oh how I I wish I was there with you…


That sounds lovely!


It really was amazing! If you are ever around the Edmonton area, check out the schedule at the Devonian Botanical Gardens, they are having 3 more days with ceremonies this year :) happy I was able to cross that off the bucket list!

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There are a handful of teas that truly haunt me in the most beautiful way – this tea is one of them. Thinking of the tea calls to mind a giant forest, wolves weaving in and out of tall trees, almost hidden from the eye, a small man-made fire in the far off distance assaulting their senses. Smoke, fresh upturned soil, thick, ancient trees, winter, leaves – the notes in this tea are absolutely everything I love about tea. What an amazing thing. Truly, everyone, think about how amazing tea is. One plant has given us so very much.

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Well, normally I do not rinse my puerhs as thoroughly as some might
generally rinsing very lightly as I am scared I am going to miss something…lol..
mistake with this one…
the first 10second steep tasted somewhat “chemical” tasting…I drank that first cup,
not too enthusiastically…poured the rest out….
I am not ready to give a rating as yet,
I am taking a break with one of my inexpensive,
But yummy pumpkin teas with creamer…
I will brush my teeth, rinse my mouth with salt water
and wait a few minutes before trying again
I will not give a rating until I am sure what I think.
Right now I am wondering if my expectations were too high
after seeing “Hawaiian” in the name.
Maybe that sounds crazy, but I have found coffees and tobaccos
to be more rich when grown in volcanic soil…
sometimes being grown in the mountains or near the ocean…
make a difference in the soil which in turn make a difference in the produce…
My second 10second steep will be devoid of any expectations…
blank slate…hopefully, I shouldnt need another rinse after first steep


Steeps 2&3 10 seconds and steeps 4&5 approx 20 seconds
This is not especially a robust or complex tea and after the 5th steep
holds no value to me whatsoever…
I appreciate this gift from a friend and do not wish to look a gift horse in the mouth…
whilst I am not saying the tea not steep worthy
(Very few teas are not worth steeping at all if on hand)
It is not worth purchasing (just my honest opinion)
I hope this was not expensive
It is earthy without tasting fishy
upon cooling slightly it hints at the sourdough bread,
But I have a greater appreciation for a tea that is bold, in your face,
and speaks to you without hesitation…
there is a little bit of a chemical quality throught that I do not understand.
This is not my favorite puerh,but I did enjoy a fair bit of it.
good day

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drank Coconut Pu-Erh by Unknown
1692 tasting notes

This is the result of some significant stash cleaning last night: (Tossing tea, books, or ratty clothing is difficult for me…you?) The upside was several rounds of, “Oh, I forgot I had that!”

Like this. The coconut side of this pu-erh is almost candy sweet. In all, reminds me of a dark chocolate Mounds. Wish I knew more about the source (bulk health food grocery buy) so I could share.


I have the hardest time letting go of books. Donating them or selling them at a yard sale actually makes me depressed even when I know I’ll never read the book again! I may have a slight addiction.


You are welcome to join my support group :)

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drank Tie Guan Yin by Unknown
91 tasting notes

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drank Tie Guan Yin by Unknown
91 tasting notes

This is a Tie Guan Yin that comes in a red package very similar to the one pictured. As I can find no further identifying information on it, it will have to join the ranks of the unknowns.

It’s pretty much average in terms of what one would expect of a TGY, but somewhat easy to oversteep.

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drank Black Pearls China Tea by Unknown
1258 tasting notes

From the queue, written March 19th 2014

This is another from the EU TTB, round 2. This was as close as I could come with the database. If someone can shed some further light on it, let me know and I’ll move the post.

I didn’t have any black tea yesterday. At all. In fact I didn’t actually have any tea whatsoever. It was a day of Female Issues and they were particularly bothersome this month, so much so that I decided not to go to work. This proved to be wise a few hours later when certain… sacrifices… were made. Yes. I spent most of the day feeling exceedingly sorry of myself.

Therefore I declared it a day of non-caffeinated herbals. Except one, which in hindsight I suspect probably had mate in it… Oh well. I chose that one because it was called ‘Citrus’ and I rather fancied something with a fresh-ish taste.

Today, however! Today all those issues are of the past. Luckily it’s always only really the first day, so I’m back to my normal self, and therefore I’m having a black tea. And a Chinese one to boot.

Or at least, I think it’s a black tea. It’s very green-tea-ish coloured after steeping. All yellow and light… The leaf is black, though, and it smells like caramel biscuits, so perhaps this one just has an odd colour. Or it’s severely underleafed. I always find it difficult to work these out. But anyway, as mentioned, it smells like a caramel biscuit. The ones, especially, that I sometimes bake and which I’m planning on making a batch of later today as we have run out of biscuits. Do you know the cinnamon sugar biscuits that LU makes? We call them Bastogne biscuits here. They’re like that but without cinnamon. Anyway, that’s what the tea smells like.

It doesn’t taste like much, though. Oh dear, I have made this quite thin. I can see the potential in it though. I should have used twice as much leaf, probably. It seems to be quite cocoa-y and sweet and also a bit caramel-y. Is it me, obsessed with the thought of the biscuits I want to make, or does it also taste a little bit like those biscuits? It does. I think it does.

I shan’t rate it now, because I’ve only got a shadow of what it could have been here, but it’s still quite satisfying. I will rate it later when I’m more certain of where on the scale it should fall, but I expect it to be relatively high up.

After steeping the leaves are suspiciously green looking. Are we sure this is a black tea? There’s something here that strikes me as oolong-y.


I am the one which added this, I think. I agree they are oolong-y but admittedly they are called black pearls, not necessarily black tea ;)

seller description calls it

“black tea handrolled in Hunan plantation. A careful selection of leaves ensures a smooth tasting tea”

but it is kind of a weird shop. Exquisite taste in selecting some teas, but a bit careless at labelling, very careless about displaying sources and blenders, and stuff like that.

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drank Taiwan Tea by Unknown
34 tasting notes

So I must upload a photo of this canbecause I love this tea. I bought it in the duty free shop in Taipei airport when stuck due to some travel issues. The tea: beautiful brownish green knots with strong floral and lighter smoky aroma. A small spoonful untwists to fill the pot. The first sip is both floral and milky then butters and that hint of smoke over the hills. The tea is drying to the mouth though so you keep brewing and sipping keeping the same floral notes into the 4th brew. The scents are captivating reminding me of a tea route high in the Asian mountains in spring. THe tea is getting older, I’ve been hoarding it but decided to break some out for this quiet “good Friday” afternoon as a special treat.

Flavors: Earth, Flowers, Fruit Tree Flowers, Loam, Mineral, Wood

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

I really like your description of this :-)

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drank Green Tea by Unknown
1692 tasting notes

OK, experts, Name This Tea. Here is what I can tell you:

—A work friend’s husband brought it home this week from a business trip to China; was presented several tins by colleagues.
—It is in a lovely white tin with blue roses and a medallion that looks like a Blue Willow china plate.
—The only English on the tin and the inner pouch is a rather awkward Speciaally selected and processed from the finest and tenderraw tea leaves. Rich in aroma and smooth in flayour. (Misspelled verbatim.)
—The lid of the tin was sealed with a very prominent green “2014” sticker.
—It isn’t a long jing. The leaves aren’t that flat and thick; they’re thin, straight, longer than my measuring teaspoon, and very clearly two-leaf tips.
—At a cautious 2:30 steep, it is champagne-colored, thick, silky, and tastes like barely-there honey and sweet straw.

Liking it immensely—but what am I sipping?


If it has Chinese writing on it, take a picture and ask on the discussion boards. I’ve had good luck with that before.

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drank Tieguanyin by Unknown
34 tasting notes

Alas I am going through my stash of Infusions of Tea final sale items and opened up the Tieguanyin. When its gone I’ll have to venture farther afield for a replacement. THe first sips are light with a hint of honey and grass. Deeper in the pot a flowery fragrance contrasts with an oaky dry taste. The second steep is more Oak and Honey but the third returns the first impression of grass. I like a light tea with gently unfolding flavor to unwind in the afternoon.

Flavors: Flowers, Grass, Honey, Wood

190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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drank Egyptian Chamomile by Unknown
328 tasting notes

I had never been a big chamomile tea (tisane, if you insist) drinker. I had stuck to teabags and often it seemed like a kind of dusty taste. But was wondering about trying again a better grade of chamomile and the other day in the bio supermarket I was intrigued by their own brand organic herbs. The dried chamomile flowers were really quite huge (and almost grotesque), and even through the packaging there was this nice cosy (much nicer than teabags) chamomile scent. Costing about 2 euros for a big huge package (50 grams? 100? it looks huge because of the volume), I bought it.

And it is a totally different, so much nicer, tisane than the other kinds I had before. Yep, I finally get chamomile and love it as well.

Just a quibble, or warning – this is about the messiest tea ever for my gravity infuser, even worse than rooibos. I just use a small teapot and strainer, or go lazy and fill a make-your-own teabag.

This, or some kind of it, is going to be a staple for me.

Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

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drank 1st Flush Darjeeling by Unknown
649 tasting notes

Sad, sad sipdown. I have enjoyed this little gem of a tea that I received in a swap from Artp. A friend of his brought it back from India, and Artp was kind enough to offer some for trade. This tea has all of the lovely muscatel flavors and a nice astringency that isn’t overpowering. The second steep of this tea has always been my favorite, and today is no exception. The grape-y flavor with and underlying earthiness is good, good, good. Yep, I’m going to miss this one.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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