509 Tasting Notes

drank Jin Jun Mei by teasenz
509 tasting notes

Oh my god. Oh. My. God.

Cameron B had such good things to say about this tea a few months ago that based on the strength of that recommendation, I requested 5 free samples from Teasenz. This baby was one of those. And oh boy, Cameron was spot-on.

You should have been there when I opened up the package and inhaled the first wafts of this stuff. “Oh my god. It smells like chocolate. Oh my god! It smells like cocoa powder!” I tried shoving the bag in my husband’s face so he could get a good whiff (and thus hopefully convert to Tea-ism) but he wasn’t game.

I can’t get over how good the dry leaf of this tea smells. I took about 2 tsp, brewed it Western-style in my lovely tiny Brown Betty pot, and poured it all out into a large mug.

Considering I only steeped the first steep for 3.5 minutes, the liquor was astonishingly dark and rich-looking. A lovely dark amber colour, like beer bottles. And the smell was good too! Slightly tart, but dark and sweet like prunes or honey.

The taste isn’t quite as good, but it’s still satisfying. Malty, rich, slightly sweet, no astringency, but it doesn’t quite slap me silly with flavour the way I hoped it would.

Now I’m off to have a second steep!

By the way, I woke up this morning with a bit of a sore throat, and I’m worried this may be the first sign of a cold. I better enjoy awesome tea like this now; I’ll save the crappy-tasting tea for when I can’t actually taste it.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

Feel better.


I hope you didn’t get the crud that I have. This tea sounds delicious.

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Backlog note 13 of 13 – I’m finally caught up!

Heartened by my success with Teasenz’ Lychee Black tea last night, I gave this tea a second chance as well. And, like last night, I watched clock carefully and used a shorter steep time than I did the first time around.

I’m happy to say that the bitter chemical taste I noticed the first time around isn’t as prominent. It’s there perhaps a bit, unfortunately, but the savouriness of the tea itself comes through more, and I definitely finished almost the whole pot of this.

So, note to self: when brewing Western style, Teasenz teas tend to benefit from shorter steep times. Good to know.

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drank Lychee Black by teasenz
509 tasting notes

Backlog note 12 of 13. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

After some hesitation, I decided to try this again last night. This time I was much more careful about the steeping time. I kept it to between 3 and 3.5 minutes.

And it worked!

This tea definitely had a true lychee taste without any sourness and only a little bit of astringency, and tasted pretty smooth. However, it’s best to have this hot; as the tea cooled, it became a bit more harsh and chemical-tasting.

I’m really happy I gave this a second chance.

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

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drank Baked Apple by RiverTea
509 tasting notes

Backlog note 11 of 13. Almost there!

I had this yesterday and I think I’ll need to play around with it a bit more – lower temperature, different steep time, etc.

However, this first taste doesn’t leave me too hopeful. I like the idea of combining apples each with green tea, roses, and almonds – but I think having apple, rose, and almond all together in the same green tea is a bit much. I really just want this to have green tea, apple, and maybe some almond and cinnamon.

The tea base in this was a bit too bitter and astringent, I think. More experimentation is a must.

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drank Sweet Seduction by RiverTea
509 tasting notes

Backlog note 10 of 13.

You know, I told myself that I didn’t like vanilla when it was mixed in with green tea. There’s something about the combination that just doesn’t work for me. The smoothness of vanilla with black tea? Hot damn. But green tea has a sharper flavour that I think works better with fruit than with vanilla.

However, I got excited when I saw all the positive reviews for this tea by other steepsterites – especially the one by Sil. Although her review was somewhat guarded, I figured that if she liked this green tea when she so rarely enjoys greens, maybe it was worth a shot.

Um…. no. I’m wishing I hadn’t bought this tea. It’s sweet, but the leaf was too bitter and umami to really meld well with the vanilla/nut flavour of the nougat. Perhaps I steeped it for too long, or at too high a temperature, but my first experience with this tea was not positive.

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Backlog review 9 of 13.

Remember a few notes back when I said that I didn’t like Capital Tea’s Yunnan Green, and that I was going to avoid similar teas?

I forgot what I was thinking when I bought this. Picture the scene: they’ve just announced that the trade show floor will be closing at the Canadian Coffee and Tea Show on Sunday evening. I’ve been prowling the same aisles of the trade show floors for a few hours, but no tea vendors are actually selling tea to the attendants – just providing samples for future reference.

Suddenly, I come across Tea at Sea’s booth, which I knew was at the event, but never actually found until after the closing announcement had been made. I’ve been wanting to buy tea all day with no luck.

And Tea at Sea is actually selling canisters of tea! And their tea is cheap! And I just get caught up in the rush of it all that I buy a canister of their Yunnan Green because I just want to buy something, you know?

Both people at the booth were incredibly nice, and I don’t mind having another tea in the cupboard since I know I’ll drink this over time.

But I do have a handy comment for the Tea at Sea people, in case you guys ever see this note: Jesus Christ, your canisters are hard to open. They’re too small to hold comfortably, and the tops are pushed in so snugly that it takes a lot of effort to pull the lid off – and because you have to pull so hard to remove the lid, when the package finally does open, I end up spilling tea everywhere.

Please, please, in the future, make your packages easier to open. I’m begging you.

Anyways, I had this I think on Monday? Decent, green, smoky, slightly astringent. Pretty much like a gunpowder, even if the name is different.

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Backlog note 8 of 13.

This was yet another sample I had at the Canadian Coffee and Tea Show on Sunday. And I loved it. The taste was like a softer, less savoury version of Bi Luo Chun. It was sweet and gentle, but still somewhat savoury. I much preferred this over the Yunnan Green FOP I tasted at the same time.

Again, this one is totally on my wishlist – I’m looking forward to buying it when Black Friday comes. (And of course, now I’ve got the song by Steely Dan in my head. Curses!)


Well there is always “The Deacon Blues”, “Peg”, “Hey Nineteen”, “Dirty Work”, “Reelin In The Years”, and “FM” just to take your mind off the first one.


Oh, and “Josie” too!

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Backlog note 7 of 13.

This was another tea that I sampled when I was at the Canadian Coffee and Tea show on Sunday. And the nice thing was that there was another tea enthusiast there called TJ. He runs a tea podcast – that sounds so neat! I need to email him about that.

Anyways, Joel at the booth was kind enough to let us sample a variety of green teas, and I was intrigued by this one since I have some Yunnan blacks at home that I quite enjoy.

After trying this tea, I think I’m going to stick with the Yunnan blacks and avoid greens, because while the smokiness works in black tea, I find I don’t like smoky flavours in green tea. I could taste the similarity, though, and the liquor was a beautiful yellow-green.

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Backlog note 6 of 13.

I’m backtracking a bit here – I forgot that I drank this on Saturday, not Sunday.

I had a Mary Kay lady over at my house to try on different types of makeup. I thought it would be fun, but I ended up feeling really uncomfortable because I just wanted make up, and she wanted to show me all of these other products involving skin care. I just wanted makeup! And I just wanted her to tell me what colours looked good on me! I’m an idiot when it comes to make up – just tell me what I need to do, and I’ll be fine.

Anyways, I had some of this when she was over. I really want to sip this down – I might as well do it with someone who doesn’t know I’ve got better stuff hiding in the cupboard.

Does that make me a bad person? Ah well. Consider me cheap.

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Backlog note 5 of 13: And it’s note 500!

I went to the Canadian Coffee and Tea Show on Sunday, and had this as well as a few other samples that Joel was kind enough to offer.

Unfortunately, since the show was mainly an internal one for the industry, very few vendors were actually selling tea at the event. If Joel had this on sale on Saturday, I would totally have bought a package despite the price tag.

Going in, I knew this was a Nilgiri tea, but it definitely doesn’t taste like one. I don’t remember a whole lot of that taste now, but I remember it being sweet, like nectar almost, with none of the wet earthiness that I remember tasting the first time I tried a Nilgiri.

Joel said that this is a unique tea, as he bought up pretty much the entire harvest from this estate. This is going near the top of my wishlist now – I hope that there’s still some of this in stock when Black Friday rolls around.


I love this one too.


500 Wow that’s a lot! Congrats!

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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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