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Recent Tasting Notes

2016 Sheng Olympics

As part of the #2016ShengOlympics organized by LiquidProust, I decided to do a side-by-side tasting of all three Verdant “old tree” shengs. I figured with 50ml gaiwans it should not be overwhelming (I was not entirely correct; it’s still a lot of tea!)

Here’s the teas before the start of the session:—/

And here’s the aftermath showing the most intact and largest leaves I could find:

I took each tea through 11 steeps over several hours in round-robin fashion using 3.5 grams of leaf in each 50ml gaiwan with 205F (+/-2F) bottled spring water heated in a clay boiler. I let the tea guide my steep times, ending up with 10/10/10/15/20/30/40/60/90/120/300 seconds for each one.

All of the teas were quite mellow with mild aromatics and easy on my stomach. And the energy imparted was moderate; I never felt too wired.


300 Year Tree: Light yellow liquor. Aromas of pine in the first half of the session, turning tart and fruity in the latter half. Medium bodied, slightly oily mouthfeel. The flavor started fruity, turned to sweet-tart citrus with slight spice in later steeps. Some faint astringency in the beginning and again near the end when I pushed the steep times. Overall a decent mild young sheng.

1000 Year Tree: Medium yellow liquor. Aromas of pine in the first half, turning to old books, then spicy-tart near the end. Medium bodied, fairly oily mouthfeel and a soothing feeling coating the throat in most steeps. The flavor was primarily sweet-tart with slight spice and pine notes appearing at times, and citrus and herbs arising in the later half. Faintly astringent in the longer steeps. I liked this one just a little better than the 300 Year, mostly because of the feeling in my throat.

1800 Year Tree: Medium-dark yellow liquor (but not quite amber). Aromas were primarily tart, sweet, faint pine, woody, turning fruity sweet in the long steeps. Medium bodied, slightly oily mouthfeel. Flavors started as a sweet-tart balance with faint pine, citrus emerging in the mid-steeps, some herbal notes, ending with light sweetness and slight pepper. No astringency. This one edged out the other two in terms of flavor, but just barely. My notes repeatedly show “a mellow, smooth cup”.

Any one of these would be a good beginner’s sheng since they were all quite mild and well behaved. In truth I cannot pick a winner since they were all so similar. I had to really focus to pick out the differences. Also I did notice some slight camphor mid-session, but since that can carry over in the mouth from one tea to the next I could not attribute it to any one tea.

So what did I learn after drinking about a liter and a half of tea in one night?

(1) When I closed my eyes I felt I was swooping around the cosmos with “Rocket Man” playing in my head.

(2) Drinking this much tea leads to truly epic pee sessions. (Wife: “Did someone leave the water running?” Me: “Go back to sleep dear”).

(3) A few of my Steepster friends keep weird hours on Instagram as well.

(edited to add “2016 Sheng Olympics” at the top)


Thanks for the review! I don’t think my palate is quite evolved enough to pick out such subtle differences between the teas, but I will try. When I tried their regular non-old tree sheng, “beginner’s sheng” was my take on that one as well.


That sounds like good news for me. I like mild shengs. I haven’t got my Sheng Olympics package yet but enjoying reading the reviews everyone has started leaving.


Yay, thanks for doing the side-by-side taste test. :)


Thanks! It was an interesting and fun experience. I’ve never tried more than two teas side-by-side, and after this I think three at once is about my limit.

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A friend asked to come over and make cards together. We had leftover Snickerdoodle cupcakes that my youngest daughter the awesome baker made. I asked my friend what kind of tea she would like it, as I usually serve sweets with a plain black tea unless I have a fruity tea that matches the flavor of the dessert. She said she normally liked fruity flavors but that didn’t seem like a good match with dessert, so I mixed Hot Cinnamon Spice half and half with Queen Catherine to tone it down a little. I don’t want to scare away tea newbies!

It went together really well, the cinnamon was present but not as “in your face” and the more cupcake I ate, the better the tea tasted with it. I think it came out as a really great pairing.

And yes, I just did a review that said we are all sick with a bad cold, but I did tell her and give her the option not to come, and she said, “I’m not afraid of a cold!” :)


OK, I’m thinking that recipe just needs to be shared. But only if it’s easy for us culinary incompetents :)


Sounds like a brilliant combo!


Just google Snickerdoodle Cupcakes and find the one from Sally’s Baking Addiction! We make outs with freshly ground wheat, don’t know how they would be with store bought but surely still good. And we use Penzey’s cinnamons – always! They are the freshest and strongest!


And we don’t frost with half and half frosting, we just go all cinnamon. And no little cookie. But this is the recipe other than that! LOL

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Urgh. This is annoying me so much not being able to do tasting notes, I think i’m just going to review my cold.

This cold is an interesting one: initial steeps were very hot, ending in me sleeping only four hours last night which wasnt great. The body is medium sore, with the headfeel definitely strong enough to be in the ache category but not as strong as, say, a migraine. My nose is also blocked so im frequently having to bump this with sudafed.

The most amazing thing is the mouthy feeels & huiguan, I just cant taste anything! for three days! Oh how fun that has made drinking tea. They are on to a winner with that one.

medium to strong astringency

I steeped this in a 100ml gaiwan with boiling water


Sorry you are sick but that’s a great review. :)


I like the huigan part. Been there too.


Sorry you’re not feeling well. You need some Honeysuckle tea. It’s good for treating the flu.


ha cheers peeps. im doing lemon & ginger. at least i can taste that bit :)


Feel better soon!


still. cant. smell. anything.

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Had a random ‘turkish tea’ given me to try by a Turkish girl.

Tasted like Tobacco, specifically cigars and something slightly spicy. I couldnt place what type of leaf it was, I was listening out for hints but couldnt place it. Wasnt too malty and no sweet notes I could get.

Apparently it probably was Rize tea

Nice of her to offer me some. :)

Flavors: Smoke, Spices, Tobacco



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I was using a second cup for my leaves and in a sleepy haze steeped it. It was Ba Xian & a Sheng.

Some nuttiness & cream & some menthol to lift it, with some bitterness.

I dont think it would qualify for a master blend unfortunately. But I ended up enjoying it by pure surprise :D

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Cream, Menthol, Nutty

195 °F / 90 °C 6 min, 15 sec

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First time using this random tea template! I am glad someone made this, as currently I am drinking tea that I only know ingredients of, not the name or vendor. So here we go.

My mom kindly got me a tea gift set that came with a very cute plain white teapot that reminded us both of Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast. The tea, however, is not looking too great. So far I have tried 3 of the 4 that were included in mini glass jars (which I will keep for tea storage, they are perfect!), and only liked one.

The one I am drinking right now is just labelled as “Green tea with tropical fruits and flower petals”. It’s alright, but the flowery aroma is a bit strong for my liking, and it’s hard to taste the fruitiness or green tea base. That being said, it’s a huge improvement from the tea I tried this morning: black tea with flower petals. I kid you not, this tea is so flowery I thought I was literally drinking a cup full of roses. While it smells very nice, it’s not something I look for in a tea. This experience prompted me to create my own tea giveaway thread, since I don’t see myself going back to these teas anytime soon! If you want to try them (or other teas I have listed), go to my tea trades thread:

There were two other teas in the set, one of which I haven’t tried yet. One was a black tea with coconut that was pretty good. I can see myself finishing that one in time. The last one seems pretty straightforward: jasmine green tea. While I know what this should taste like, the flowery trend of this gift set has me a bit wary. Hopefully the jasmine will not be too strong!

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On the 17th day of sipdowns…

I got this in a swap but I’m not actually sure what it is… It’s in an Adagio tin labeled “Pearl” but the list I received from the swapper said there were two other Adagio teas but no Pearl. I decided this must be Strawberry Shortcake from the list (though it doesn’t taste like it.) It was good, but not as wonderful when iced. I’m not terribly let down that I can’t figure out what the tea is but it was interesting to try to decipher the tea without having an ingredient list.

Flavors: Berry, Cream, Fruity, Spices

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Beorhthraefn included a sample of Lover’s Cup by Sereni-tea in the Secret Pumpkin package. Thank you!

Brewed in an infuser mug. This is a white tea blend with rose petals and rose flavoring. It tastes like pure rose tisane but light, unlike actual rose tea. I can’t taste the Bai Mu Dan base at all. Not unpleasant, just OK to drink. Wouldn’t have it again.

185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Beorhthraefn included a sample of Taj Mahal by Sereni-tea in the Secret Pumpkin package. Thank you!

I didn’t examine the leaf, but I remember it being close to a typical masala chai, containing whole but short leaf black tea, cinnamon, clove, cardamon , etc.

Brewed on the stove-top with almond milk. I shouldn’t made this with almond milk. It was my first time having it ever and I wanted to try masala chai with something other than 2% milk. Not only did it not properly boil, but it didn’t taste all that good (even by itself). But underneath that I could still tell that this blend tasted strong, malty, slightly peppery, and cinnamon-y. Average but OK.

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Beorhthraefn included a sample of 8 Immortals Dancong by Sereni-tea in the Secret Pumpkin package. Thank you!

Brewed in an infuser mug. Steeping times: 2 minutes, 4, 8. The wet leaf smells muscatel and like wet rocks. The liquor is clearly golden, full-bodied, and juicy with white grapes. Can’t really evaluate the quality considering my lack of experience with Dan Cong, but this was nice to drink.

200 °F / 93 °C 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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10 jan- My Morning Mate + Citrus Lavender Sage = very nice flavored mate blend. I love Citrus Lavender Sage, but it’s expensive. So I just use it in blends, so I can stretch the flavor out. Both from Teavana.


When Teavana had their Banana Nut Bread tea, I would always blend that with the My Morning Mate. It was superb. However, they unfortunately don’t carry it anymore.

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Pumpkin Spice black tea Seasonal. I don’t feel like adding it. Republic of Tea. Sample tea bag from their flyers. Pumkin and spice, neither flavor is strong. Not a tea I would purchase. It’s fine.

Flavors: Pumpkin, Spices

S.G. Sanders

Republic of Tea has a tendency to have bland flavors.


I do like some of their loose teas. I agree that some of their blends don’t have much flavor.

S.G. Sanders

Especially their bagged teas.

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There is a local shop called Yan-Tsu Hong herbs that sells Chinese herbs, medicines, and teas—-Regina friends, have you been here? It is right by Cuppa’T. A few years ago, I tried their Iron Buddha tea (Tiekuanyin—it says on the label) and hated it but that was before I appreciated and knew how to brew oolong teas. Trying it today, I know my tastes have changed because I am really enjoying this. It is buttery and floral with vegetal notes. This is a decent green oolong.
I think that I will brew it at a lower temp next time though to see if that brings out more sweetness.

Boiling 1 min, 15 sec 2 tsp

I’ve prolly walked by it a thousand times but have never been inside.


Lala check it out next time, the prices are super cheap

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Hello Steepster! I’m back, after a dreadful bout of…. something. On Wednesday I got really ill, and have been slowly recovering.
My stomach is coming back up to speed, but I haven’t felt up to tea, beyond the ginger tea that I have, and today a random Milk Oolong that my boyfriend has.
I’m hoping next week to return to my tea drinking ways.


Good to have you back, although I’m sorry your stomach was attacked. I’ve been there before and it’s awful awful stuff.


I’m sorry to hear that you haven’t been feeling well. :(

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The dry leaf aroma is sweet and floral. It’s also almost fruity. The brewed tea aroma is a floral green oolong. This is my kind of tea!

I got this sample from a co-worker/friend. I have no idea what company this is from as the red, vacuum sealed package is only covered in kanji. I tried translating 茗典茶藏 and determined it says: “tea for ceremony, tea to have.” Anyone come across this before?

The leaves fully unfurled after the second infusion for two minutes. It’s a shame I can’t identify the source because this is a great tea! The leaves have more stem attached then I’ve ever seen before, but the resulting tea is delicious! It’s probably an unflavored milk oolong. This second infusion is creamy! Mmm, yum! This is soooo good! It’s really hitting the spot. I’d rate it a 92.

Boiling 1 min, 0 sec

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Bagged houji-cha. Made at work with microwave boiled water (not having a hot water dispenser kind of sucks…)

This was good. First time having a roasted green tea and I was struck by how oaty it was. Reminded me a lot of oatmeal without actually tasting like cereal. This was interesting enough to warrant revisiting … perhaps with a loose leaf version.

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I drank some Japanese green tea with matcha from a sample from LiquidProust. The green tea tasted very “leafy green”, combined with the taste of Trader Joe’s Mochi green tea (if that makes any sense ;-) ). Unfortunately there was also too much bitterness to it for my taste.

Liquid Proust

Quite common. Many Japanese greens are astringent.


Good to know.

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The perks of being the friend of groovy people: they know herbs and they know tea. A friend granted me a whopping ounce of a lavender, red rooibos, and holy basil blend and it is super lovely and balanced. Awesome on its own or with honey. Simply lovely.

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Another lovely tea from my dear friend and dealer Andrew. A Dianhong cake that is making me pretty happy.

This is by far one of the softest Dian Hongs I’ve had. It is darker than most and does have a stronger malt taste verging on the borders of an Assam, but not nearly that thick. More bready like rye. Overall, it’s closer to a very thin cocoa. Not chocolate, powdery hot cocoa. There’s a little bit of caramel, but also a slightly stronger tobacco and maple. I’m enjoying the crap out of this texture. The occasional astringency, not so much.

This is better in shorter steeps. At first, i tried it at fifteen seconds, but it was very soft and faint so I upped it to thirty. Still a bit too soft, so I went to 45. Malt overpowered the other notes just a little bit, but the shorters steeps got better in the later ones. I’m currently on eight and could probably do three more. It is similar to French Toast Dianhong’s specific base, but I prefer that base because it has more maple.

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Oolong thang, or what’s been reserved. Steeped three minutes and about 3-4 grams. A lot more pleasant, but I may have bled the flavors dry from my earlier mistakes. I’m getting Da Hong Pao left overs. Dry, woodsy, dark bitter sweet. Not sure if there is more I can get out of it.

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Oolong Thang. Andrew, you might be mad at me for this one. I used the entire sample. It was way stronger than I thought. I knew it was aged and needed hotter water. It needed more water, and less leaves. My fault. So. I’ve just rinsed it a lot to get to the sweeter flavors, sipping each one. It tasted like a lot like a Da Hong Pao to me, but older and mustier. There’s some energy to this-really-powerful-energy. Headaches were experienced…. I hope that it would have been better if I didn’t mess up. I’m still discovering that I’m REALLY picky about aged teas.

Liquid Proust

Was that the aged rock oolong that was in square paper? If so… I should have told everyone to break it into two because I steeped a whole one and was like never again, but it’s nice when done right (which I even messed up)

Daylon R Thomas

Yeah, that’s exactly what I drank and what I did. But. I haven’t used every steep. I’ll divide it in half and steeps some more tomorrow.

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