539 Tasting Notes

drank Jin Jun Mei by Tao Tea Leaf
539 tasting notes

I had this yesterday in-store from Tao himself, and he told me later that he was surprised by my choice since he didn’t recall seeing me in his store before, and he doesn’t consider Jin Jun Mei a “beginner” tea. (Ooh, so flattered!)

I’ve had only one other Jin Jun Mei, and that one had a really rich chocolate/cocoa note. This one was a bit more malty and molasses-like. I don’t know if that’s because of the difference in vendors or because there was a substantial amount of leaf in my cup – far more than when I brew at home. However, it was quite tasty!


sounds delicious and fun!


What a compliment!


I love TTL teas! i wish i could visit a shop


I also got a whole bunch of oolong samples that he recommended to me. I told him that I’m not very familiar with oolongs, but that I think I like the darker ones rather than the greener ones.


One of my jinjunmei’s has tons of molasses it actually can be a little intense westerned steeped. I tend to use 5-15s steeps at boiling and enjoy the tea much better that way. I find the flavour profile can vary in this style of tea.

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drank Marquis de Gris by RiverTea
539 tasting notes

This tea smells so wonderful when it’s dry and when it’s brewed – I really get that zap of mango. For some reason, I like mango in teas, but I really have to be in the mood for it.

The amazing thing is that I barely get a hint of bergamot with this. If I hadn’t known it was a variant of EG, I would never have guessed.

The taste is a bit weaker, less fruity, and more malty, with a slight yeasty overtone that I’m surprised but not put off by. I might restock this? Maybe?

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 15 sec 3 tsp 24 OZ / 709 ML

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Thanks to Ost for this sample!

When I checked out the brewing instructions on Teavivre’s website, I was really surprised: 2 tablespoons for 2 cups of liquid? That’s about 3 times as much as I normally use when brewing that amount of tea.

I used up all of Ost’s sample when brewing it, and even after 1.5 minutes in hot water, this tea was DARK. It was rich, strong, smelled of malt and sweet potato and bread, and a pretty decent cup. I got at least 3 steeps out of that single batch of leaf, and the 3rd steep in particular smelled citrusy. However, I really do wonder if the western-style steeping instructions on the site are correct.

195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 30 sec 5 tsp 17 OZ / 502 ML

I use between 1.5 t and 2 t (it’s fluffy) for an 11 oz mug.

Tea Sipper

I think Teavivre changes the parameters when the harvests change.

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drank Golden Himalaya by RiverTea
539 tasting notes

Backlog from last week:

I think I understeeped this, as when I drank it, it was quite weak in flavour. Similar to a Darjeeling I have in my cupboard, but I wish I had gone for 3 minutes at least instead of 2.

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Backlog from the recent past:

I’ve had this tea a few times since I won it as part of RiverTea’s Facebook contest. When I won, I asked them what teas I’d be getting, and they said it would be a surprise unless I requested a specific tea.

You know, I kinda wish I had asked RiverTea to send me more of their Golden Yunnan, because that stuff is so good.

This is decent, but I’m not a big Darjeeling person. However, I do like it more than the summer flushes I’ve tried – it’s mild, undemanding, and somewhat savoury. I normally brew it at 85°C since Darjeelings work best at lower temperatures than other black teas.

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Backlog from I don’t know when:

Hi guys! I’m sorry I haven’t been on that much. Rest assured that I’m still drinking tea.

I was looking forward to trying this as I know it’s the base green for JO’s Just Marvelous Mint Green. I’ve found the mint/green blend to taste kind of odd, and I always assumed that it was because of the steeping time involved in the mint.

However, having tasted the base green, I can attest that the weird, chemically, funky flavour I’m noticing is definitely due to the green tea they use, and not the mint.

This is disappointing.

I only have about a spoonful of this left, but I’m going to sip it down soon. Now I just have to steel myself to finish off the mint/green blend.


Yeah, it’s kinda weird.

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I tried some this morning and managed to get 3 solid 1-cup steeps out of about 1-1.5 tsp of leaf.

This stuff is beautiful when it unfurls, and the liquor is a delicate pale yellow.

However, it’s got some of that same smoky, bitter – almost chemical – quality I noticed in Teasenz’s Yunnan Bi Luo Chun. I bet this would be quite interesting as a black tea, as I find smoky goes better with black than it does with green.

Kind of undecided on this one.

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I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of this tea. Maybe it’s the carob? It smells nice, but it’s far too sweet.


I haven’t tried it yet. I didn’t realize it was carob when I picked it from my kickstarter. I’m not a carob fan.

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Backlog from a few days ago.

This is a really bergamot-heavy EG. It’s not the most bergamotty one I’ve ever had, but it’s up there. Glad I only got a small sample of this – I have enough left to make a quick sipdown.

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drank Gyokuro Standard by Yunomius
539 tasting notes

Backlog from a few days ago.

I could have sworn that I wrote a note about this tea before, but I guess not. In any event, this is a sipdown!

I used more western steeping measurements and even slightly underleafed and oversteeped the brew. Despite this, the cup was surprisingly pleasant! I generally steel myself for the bitterness of gyokuros, but this was gentle and nutty. Not sure if I’ll get more, but this was a nice sendoff.

170 °F / 76 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 24 OZ / 709 ML

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I’m a writer and editor who, after years of bagged-tea purgatory, has finally seen the light and glory of loose-leaf teas. I’m still just starting my journey, as it’s been only in the last 2 years that I’ve started drinking loose-leaf tea, and only in the past few months that I’ve been trying different varieties in earnest.

Likes: Green tea, sobacha, fruit flavours, masala chais, jasmine, mint, citrus, ginger.

Dislikes (or at least generally disinclined towards): Hibiscus, rosehip, chamomile, licorice, lavender.

Things I’m on the fence about: Oolong, vanilla (I prefer it mixed with black teas or rooibos rather than green tea), white teas.

Still need to do my research on: unflavoured black teas, pu’er teas.

For those interested, here’s my scoring system, though I don’t score teas as often as I used to:

100-85: A winner!
84-70: Pretty good. This is a nice, everyday kind of tea.
69-60: Decent, but not up to snuff.
59-50: Not great. Better treated as an experiment.
49-0: I didn’t like this, and I’m going to avoid it in the future. Blech.


Toronto, ON, Canada



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