853 Tasting Notes

drank 2015 Pin by White 2 Tea
853 tasting notes

The cake is a tightly compressed mass of dark green, with strands of silver, beige, khaki and white interspersed throughout. The dry leaf smells smoky and slightly fruity — pretty typical for a younger sheng.

I broke off 5.85 grams of dry leaf and gave the tea a quick rinse in 90°C water in my medium-sized gaiwan (about 130 mL). After the rinse, the smell of the leaf transformed from slightly smoky and fruity to intensely fermented — it was sour and reminded me of yogurt. I don’t mind this smell, but it was a surprise.

The first steep was very clear and had an amber tint to it like beer. The taste was refreshing: clear, smooth, with no sharpness or astringency. I noticed a slight bitter aftertaste.

The second steep was bitter and some smoke started to creep in. It’s possible I oversteeped this one, though, as I was slow to pour the liquid out of the gaiwan. Because of this, I noticed some astringency along with the bitterness. I took care during the third steep and was rewarded with liquid that was lighter in both colour and flavour – the bitterness hadn’t disappeared, but the fruitiness of the leaf came out to play. Despite the presence of fruit, though, the tea was still relatively herbal in flavour, with a bitter aftertaste.

The flavour stayed pretty consistent from here until the seventh steep. One thing I noticed about this tea is that its bitterness has a quality I feel on the middle and sides of my tongue, rather than the back of it. The mouthfeel and the flavour are both thin — this tea washes over my mouth smoothly, coats my tongue, and recedes quickly, leaving no trace. The colour lightened over time as well, becoming a pale gold rather than the amber it was at the beginning.

C’mon guys, read the full review. It’s got cat photos! http://booksandtea.ca/2015/11/white2tea-november-2015-subscription-box-2015-pin-raw-puerh/


You had me at cat photos. What a cutie! :-)


Awesome blog! I love your design. Yeah I have this tea also and am waiting a few months for it to settle before I try it.


Obviously, I need to add cat photos to get traffic. You think I would’ve figured that out earlier.


Don’t underestimate people’s appetites for cuteness. Oolong Owl is great, but half the reason I click through is the cute crochet owls in the pictures.

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I last had this tea about a year ago, and it’s amazing how much a year of difference makes when you start to learn more about puerh. I know by now that I definitely prefer the fruitier, grassier, apricottier ones. However, this one still has quite a bit of depth and nuance. Before I noticed tobacco notes. Now, to me, they’re still smoky, but have more of a “forest floor” tinge to them.

Drinking this at work, bastardized gongfu style. Decent. I’m glad to have a chance to finish this one off.

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drank Ocean Breeze by RiverTea
853 tasting notes


I bought this tea over a year ago so it was about time to finish it off. I had it tonight in the hopes that it would soothe my unhappy stomach, but alas, it’s not to be. The ginger is not doing its trick.

Now I need to find another green tea with ginger and citrus out there. I’m sure there are plenty. Any recommendations from the crowd?

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Backlog from a few days ago.

I’m almost done this bag, but I’m noticing how that the tea is more fruity/lemony than it used to be, while before it was more subtly floral. I think all the lemon myrtle settled at the bottom of the bag.

Not a bad thing, of course….

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First note for this tea, and it’s a sipdown!

I think I got this as a swap from Ubacat. This is a very nice moonlight tea, with fruity and floral notes, and it resteeps extremely well, even with my bullshit bastard gong-fu style that I use when I’m at work.

I got about 2 big helpings from the sample that Uba sent. The leaves are large and fragrant, with an earthy sweet smell. Glad I got a chance to try this.


Glad you liked it. I tried a few moonlight teas and this one remained my favourite. It’s also one of those teas you just can’t screw up the brewing. It’s always good!

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Backlog from a few days ago:

Two months ago I visited my sister for my birthday, and she made a pot of nettle tea. It was delicious! Incredibly green and juicy, like I had just had a tonic of vitality or something. She offered to give me some of the teabags in her cupboard, but I declined because I figured I could find some myself.

Big mistake going with this brand. I bought it from a health food store about a month ago and it’s horribly dry and dusty. There’s none of that lovely “you feel like this drink is healing your parched throat after a month in the desert” vitality of it.

I’ll try resteeping it with different amounts of water at different times, but this is a pale shade of the stuff my sister’s got.


I found a good loose leaf nettle tea at Starsky. It’s called Koro- Nettle Seed tea. It’s pretty good and cheap too.


I’ll send you a sample of it if you like.


I think that might be the same one she has. There’s a Starsky’s in Hamilton.

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Having this at work, more lazy western steeping. This is a little smoky, a little sour, and I can definitely taste more of that mushroom note. Glad I had a chance to try this; this is a decent young sheng with a flavour profile that’s different, but not too different. I’ll see if I can steep this 3-4 times today.

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Felt like having some shou this evening and this was the one that won the “rummage around in the tea cabinet” lottery.

I mostly drink sheng so I figure I should expand my horizons a bit. This was a good one to choose, though, since the flavour was quite mild. Generally earthy, but nothing too offensive about it. Also, it tasted pretty consistent from steep to steep.

Glad I got a chance to try this. I still have enough for 1 serving, I think. This is a good “starter” for newbies like me.

Thanks for sending me some, Ubacat!

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drank Jasmine Oolong by Tea Ave
853 tasting notes

Many thanks to Ubacat for sending me a sample of this!

The instructions on the packet said to put 8g of dried leaf in my gaiwan – which is quite a bit! I measured out how much was in the sample Uba sent me and it was 9.8g, so I didn’t see the point of using 8g and having less than 2g left over and just lingering.

So instead I just split my whole sample in half and did 1 gaiwan’s worth with 4.9g instead. Much more reasonable.

It turned out to be a smart call anyway, since the leaf expanded by a LOT. The first steep was mild, but the second and third steeps were intense: a rich, clear yellow with notes of jasmine, and other flowers. Oddly enough, I also got a sort of “sharp” note underneath that reminded me of mint.

However, I’m not a huge fan of the base. It had that “curly” flavour that I find occurs in lightly-roasted oolongs that I dislike. (“Curly” is the best way I can describe it – it’s a sensation on my tongue that reminds me of the sharpness of uncooked cabbage or kale.)

The later steeps were also mild, but I think that can be attributed to the water cooling down over time. I still have 1 good serving size of this left.

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First note for this tea!

I did some gong-fu steeping for this last night: 6g, 130mL gaiwan, 90C water, 5-second rinse.

The flavour and smell were pretty typical for a young sheng – tart, fruity, a bit smoky. I noticed that this had some bitterness in the first few steeps, but it was a sharp, thin bitterness, rather than the kind of juicy bitterness with a fruity aftertaste that I noticed in the Gu Shu from a few days ago. I prefer the Gu Shu kind of bitterness a lot more.


Uhhh from what I understand this is gushu. Site says 120-200yr old trees.


Gottcha. I’m not sure why Scott labels some of his cakes Gushu and others not, my understanding was that anything over 100 years could be considered gushu, but my understanding may be flawed…

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Updated February 2014:

I’m a writer and editor who’s fallen for loose-leaf tea hard. Within a year of joining Steepster, I’ve spent at least $500 on tea, and gotten a whole bunch in swaps! At this point I’ve got a better handle on what I like and dislike, but I’m sure that there will always be more to discover.

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

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: pu’er teas.

I rarely score teas anymore, but if I do, here’s the system I follow:

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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