788 Tasting Notes

Thank you so much Nicole!

This tea was lovely, emphasis on the grain, rose, and lychee qualities in the aroma and aftertaste. The body was clean and sweet considering the dark amber of the brew. I can dig it. I gong fu’d it the first three steeps starting at 15, 20, 35, then two minutes and three minutes later. I could have maybe pushed it further with longer minutes, but I was getting the same thing. The first two steeps left the greatest impression and made it stand out from a Dianhong, which this tea matches the most for me.

I actually preferred the Bai Lin because it was more unique personally, but this is still an EXCELLENT hong cha that I am so happy to savor. And like the Bai Lin, everyone should try this tea at least once.

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I’ve had this tea a while via Phoenix Tea as the vendor and I was thoroughly impressed. It was one of the sweetest black teas that I’ve had, possessing a woodsy maple quality throughout each brew kung fu. I’ve used increments of 15 seconds mostly, though I’ve began with 30 seconds and worked my way up to longer minutes. I still have yet to try this western, but I prefer short steeps anyway.

This tea was on the lighter to darker end that I like and its white tea origins were fairly apparent in the body. I did get a little bit of the specific earth and autumn leave quality I associate with some whites in conjunction with the overall maple character. Dark wood, grains, sweet cocoa, and molasses pop up overall. The cocoa is sweet enough for me to count as the elusive chocolate note. I still think it’s more maply and molassesy personally.

I like this tea better with less leaves at around a 3 gram to 6 or 8 oz ratio because its surprising strength for smaller leaves. If I brew it stronger or for longer, the maple wood quality dominates making it a little bit dry. The shorter steeps or minimal leaves prevents that.

If the price were ever slightly cheaper, this could rank as my favorite hong cha because it has all the qualities I like, and it was less bitter than some of my Dianhongs. At the same time, I could get it cheaper in bulk from Phoenix Herb Co. I recommend that everyone should try this at least once because it is a great quality tea.

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Gong Fu’d a sample and was surprised that I enjoyed it. I did not get the rocky, sea weed salty roast that I normally associate with this tea and instead got something juicy and floral. It made me think of hot apple juice with roast only coming in the later, longer steeps. The floral edge was something that I did not see coming and that made me pretty happy. So my appreciation of this roast has been reinvigorated, but at the same time, I do not see myself getting this tea for its price. I do recommend it as a Gui Fei to try if you are exploring some avenues.

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It’s a little dryer than usual this morning. The black tea’s tannins have been stronger in this particular cup. Maybe it’s because of the paper filter bag, or maybe I have too many black tea leaves. Who knows?

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This is a long ass story.

I’m so glad I’m taking my time with this tea. The little complexities and the layers of earth and sweetness makes this so enjoyable. I start off with a cocoa covered wisp of autumn leaves in the middle of winter, on a day that looks like the beginning of spring. Then the shift comes into the cocoa and then the honey all the while walking on a sunny day. I of course brewed this up in my 16 oz tumbler: today was a tumbling day of incidents beginning with a singular incident yesterday, after all.

The wind sneaks over at a chilly 27 F yesterday morning at 8: 05 AM. I slowly inch my car into a parking spot, and as soon as I tap the breaks and shift my gears- POP!- goes something in front of my hood. A bubbly mist rises there billowing through the cracks like dried ice. I lift the hood, and the mist is coming from a radiator hose bleeding out coolant all around the engine and all over the pavement.

“Fucking hell…” I grumble to myself. I pace back and forth like the business-casually dressed fop I am, re-center, then head into the middle school to start volunteering. I immediately let the wise Mr. Hopper know what the hell happened with absent surprise of it actually happening, and he starts to text his best mechanic, a past student who used to give him a little bit of trouble. I call my insurance, have it towed over to the shop, and proceeded to interacting with my kids.

Incident smiled then because another day prior to that prior day, a friend of mine wanted to stop by the classroom to see how the classroom dynamic was different from the school he volunteers at, the same school I tutor at and get paid for. People always get confused with this bit: I VOLUNTEER for Mr. Hopper, I WORK at the other school. Because I invited my classmate that I see at work prior, he was able to interact with the kids as well and get my tuckus back to campus.

From there on out, I played every step by pre-planned ear. I went to my classes, talked about pre-revolutionary American fashion oh-so-pretentiously, and proceeded to try to kick butt on an Exam about Chinese geography and history. I call up the shop and have them look at it intermittently throughout the day. I anxiously wait, gong fu some Li Shan from What-Cha, western some more Li Shan, and gong fu some Shang Tangerine Blossom. I head anxiously to my next class with my phone on full volume.

My professors of course know what the hell is going on too. I present a proposal for a Civics lesson plan on the U.S. Judicial Branch with the same classmate that I invited and got a ride from, and they let me talk on the phone during moments of class with well timed precision. Of course one professor is at a meeting two rooms away while the other teaches. The one at the meeting was the most concerned.

I get news as soon as I finished my lesson. The hose is replaced, but my car has more overheating problems. Again. And more problems with its bearings. So I let the shop keep my car overnight to do diagnostics the next morning.

The next morning is today’s morning. I wake up at 7, go back to sleep at 7:30, wake up at 8:30, go back to sleep, then my mom wakes me up at 9:45. She’s been informed and freaked out every step of the way. We make three plans on how I’m going to switch cars. I proceed to slowly wake myself up by drinking more Li Shan and Tangerine Blossom Gong Fu. I’m walking to get some lunch (i.e. breakfast), I’m about to call the shop, and I get the call from the student that has been looking at my car. He confirms the inevitable.

So I take the bus to get to the Middle School I volunteer at. I walk another two and a half miles to the shop. I pick up the car and meet the ex student mechanic in person. He is a twenty something like me and is incredibly nice. We talk about Mr. Hopper, how awesome he is, he tells me about the past that I just informed you, the reader about, and he proceeds to top me off with some coolant. I put my keys in the ignition, exhale, and drive down to my campus parking lot.

I call my mother. We start the paperwork for transferring the permit. I load up my tumbler with the Darjeeling and the rest of my teas with my lap top and toiletries as if I was going home. I take the first sip of the Darjeeling, and the cocoa covered wisp of autumn leaves meets my lips.

I walk over to the parking office and begin the parking process in person. My mom initiates the process of donating the car. I walk to my designated coffee and gelato shop, Iorio’s just south of the office. I sit there, start to write up make up papers for work hours.

The final two incidents are the facts that I did not have “work” today, and the fact that I was planning on going to the DIA Museum with three friends of mine for a night out in Detroit. Of course, one of them has work, and of course, I give them another excuse not to go – never mind all four of us planned the night for over a week. So instead, I’m writing here, at the same place where this friend works – sipping my refill of this same Darjeeling in a coffee mug.

If only life had the same sweet aftertaste.

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I’m not sure if I should do another note for Phoenix Herb Co. ‘cause that’s where I bought this, but the source is the same.

This is by far one of the best scented white teas I’ve had. It works wonders when shortly steeped and gives of a sweet, light and fragrant flavor. It is so naturally sweet it reminds me of valentines day sweet hearts. The only other things I can compare the taste to are oranges on cucumbers and flowers. This was true western or gong fu, but a very LIGHT brew overall. I would keep the grammage to 3 grams and not exceed a minute western or 30 sec gong fu.

My only complaint is the high price because I would drink this often. The fact that you do not want to use too many leaves for a cuppa staves off some cost along with re-usability, but it personally sucks that quality kicks quantities ass so hard.

For me, it is perfect because it is sweet, floral, creamy, and candy like, but other people might be overwhelmed with how strong this tea is. It might remind them of potpourri, or the citrus florals might be excessive. It was powerful enough for me to only have it on occasion, not every day. Let’s say three times a week if money were no object. The white tea though has enough nuance to not make snobs bored, however.

Know that I am resisting the urge to buy quantities more of this tea. Curse you expenses!

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Thank you Phoenix tea so much! This Chai is frickin’ tasty. Then again, I dig the hell out of the ingredient combo. This is by no means super spicy, but instead, very creamy with a spicy edge to it. It takes a while to steep western, but the flavors come out nicely. The white tea is very apparent and provides the creamy feel and taste. Then you pair that with the lemon grass, citrus peel, and sweet cardamom and you get something close to lemon meringue, or at least I do in my pretentious imagination. The clove and pepper provides just the right kick of spice to keep it interesting.

The tea also served to ward off the plague going around. I was recovering, but so many people at my college and my placement school were carriers. I immediately finished this up in the morning, and my cough went away. I do not know if its placebo, but whatever it was, it worked.

I should also note that my roommate loved the shit out of it and he is a lemon lover. So lemon lovers, this is your tea and Phoenix Herb is a great company overall.

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This is officially one of my favorite black teas. It’s like I do not need an Earl Grey again. I got some from Phoenix Herb Co. which is an awesome spice and herb seller, and they had this as an option. Got two ounces, and a part of me thinks I should have bought more of this than the Lapsang.

So I show it off to my hot beverage enthusiast teaching mentor, and I add to many leaves. I’d hope this tea would help his sickness as it did with mine, but the black tea gave off a really strong coffee note. Who knew that a Bai Lin could do that? The citrus florals were still phenomenal, but the black tea was a complex shift of too strong. I added significantly more water for my mentor hoping it would be better for him.

I admit this was a fail, but I also feel like I fail him. He’s been very patient with me and letting me take over class, but I’ve been having a hard time with classroom management as of lately. My posture has been closed off and it’s been a little difficult getting the kids attention. The real struggle is managing them with warm up games which my mentor can do with professional ease, whereas it gets awkward for me. There are a few students in my class that would prefer to read a book or do their assignments, and unfortunately, I was one of those students in middle school. I gotta fight that unconscious urge, and I gotta get used to doing new things like those new games. Anyway, I am so glad that my mentor does those games for mental and physical warm ups for his class, and I hope he enjoyed the rest of the tea that I brewed for him. If it doesn’t over-steep.

Evol Ving Ness

Go with pair work warmups in which they engage with their partner, preferably with some sort of tangible colourful material, and preferably laminated so that you only need to cut sets once.

Evol Ving Ness

Competitive things work well too. Divide class in half. Involve sprints to board to write answer.

The point is take the attention off of YOU.

Daylon R Thomas

Thanks Evol! To think about it, pair work was when I was more active lol.

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My dear friend gave a very generous portion of this tea. I’ve wanted to try it, but wow, this amount is insane.

Anyway, this tea works Gong Fu and I’ve yet to do it Western. It is a very dry tea-so dry that I remember this tea is literally made of twigs. ‘Autumn leaf pile’ is right and I get a very fall feel though it’s not bad now in winter. There is a little bit of a fruit quality that I associate with white in the background-lychee is close, maybe honey, but it’s buried beneath the leaves in taste. A bit smoky too. Yeah, it’s on the complex side.

I’m not sure if I like it or not though I thought I would. Maybe a few more tries might get me to change my mind. It’s dry overall.

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After trying Shang’s Tangerine Blossom, I got hooked and had to go on a search for it and some Lapsang Souchong. Typing it up on the Google, the Tangerine Blossom showed up on their website, they were in the same city as Shang, and the tea had the exact description. This company had all the teas I was looking for and for slightly cheaper than Shang, so I decided to get a lot.

This one was balanced Lapsang. Smokey and thick like tree sap and pine resin, but sweet enough to stand on its own. Very easy to drink, but powerful. Just what I was looking for. Now to tuck in the little staple to the side.

Evol Ving Ness

Smart cookie.

Evol Ving Ness

Also, since when have you been into Lapsangs?


I tried a sample of their unsmoked in Seattle and got myself a couple of ounces. It was really nice!

Daylon R Thomas

Evol, hawkband1 and I swapped samples and the Lapsang she gave me was good which got me to start drinking them. My first lapsang just tasted like burnt old tea leaves and I did not like it. Once I found some that had the pine resin/tree sap taste going on, I got hooked ‘cause I need more fire in my life. The unsmoked Lapsang from What-Cha was also really good. I’ve noticed that the unsmoked ones tend to be on the cocoa side of sweet as far as Fujian teas go.

Evol Ving Ness

Good to know. Thanks, Daylon.

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First Off, Current Targets:
Taiwan Sourcing Luxurious Jade Sampler (FRICKIN’ PRICEY)
Taiwan Sourcing Longhan Nectar Red Oolong
Beautiful Taiwan Tea Co. Yu Shan, Stone Table Alishan, Dong Ding, and Dayuling
Berylleb Dayuling
The best coconut/pineapple oolong I can find
The best Alishan and or Lishan for the best price
The best Jade Oolong Period.
Drunken Green Dragon J-Tea
My wish list is fairly accurate though it is broad.

Current Favorites:

Vietnam Red Buffalo Oolong
China Yunnan Pure Bud Golden Snail Black Tea
Taiwan Lishan Oolong
Kenya ‘Rhino’ Premium White Tea
India Orthodox Masala Chai

Liquid Proust Teas:
French Toast Dianhong

Floating Leaves Tea:

Beautiful Taiwan Tea Co.:
“Old Style” Dong Ding


I am an MSU student studying to become a high school social studies and history teacher with a minor in anthropology. I unfortunately dropped the anthropology minor, but I am and will continue to be an anthropologist as well as a historian. I love to read, write, draw, paint, sculpt, fence(with a sword), workout, relax, and drink a cuppa tea…or twenty.

I’ve been drinking green and black teas ever since I was little living in Hawaii with a dominant Eastern Asian influence. I’ve come a long way since I began on steepster and now have a better idea of the teas I absolutely prefer. Any tea that is naturally creamy, fruity, or sweet without a lot of added flavoring ranks as a must have for me. I also love black teas and dark oolongs with the elusive “cocoa” note. My favorites are lighter Earl Greys, some white teas like What-Cha’s Kenyan offerings, most Hong-Cha’s, darker Darjeelings, Green Shan Lin Xi’s, and Greener Dong Dings. I’m in the process of trying Alishan’s. I also tend to really enjoy Yunnan Black or Red teas and white teas. I’m pickier with other teas like chamomile, green teas, and Masalas among several.

I used to give ratings, but now I only rate teas that have a strong impression on me. If I really like it, I’ll write it down.

I’ll enjoy a tea almost no matter what, even if the purpose is more medicinal, for it is my truest vice and addiction.


Michigan, USA

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