28 Tasting Notes

100
drank Yunnan by Silk Road
28 tasting notes

I love this tea. It’s dark, rich, honey-like flavor makes it one of my favorite black/red teas. I don’t drink it on a daily basis but rather when I’m in a special mood for that dark/rich/honeyish/nourishing quality.

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100
drank Clear Jade Orchid by Shang Tea
28 tasting notes

This is a spectacular tea! Luscious, mellow, delicious, with an absolutely distinctive flavor. Although it is listed as an oolong/wulong tea, undoubtedly because of its method of processing, it tastes to me more like a mellow, warm, sunny red tea with a flavor vaguely reminiscent of butterscotch — it recalls sweetness without being sweet. I’ve never had anything quite like it. Shang has outdone himself with this tea.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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67
drank White Tea Wu-long by Shang Tea
28 tasting notes

I like this tea — it is a delicate, rather than strong and pungent oolong and, like Shang’s other teas, retains some of its white tea origins even when not in white tea form. I found that I liked it best when I steeped for the maximum time of his recommended range and put in a slightly larger quantity than he recommended. On the other hand, Shang has pointed out that Americans tend to like their teas stronger than the way they’re made and consumed in China, i.e. in China there’s more emphasis on the delicacy of tea, whereas I think in the U.S., perhaps because of our history of drinking coffee or tea from Lipton’s tea bags, many prefer them stronger.

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100

This is a perfect yellow tea — pure, delicate, intense, light. I find that with yellow teas I have to experiment with the amount of tea per cup. I just made it with two tablespoons instead of one, and I found it better with that quantity than with one. I will probably experiment with more and less to find what’s right for me. Mariage Freres recommends steeping it at 170 degrees.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C

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82

A very good, hearty, strengthening, black pu-erh. Something one can drink on a daily basis. Similar to the Rishi Pu-erh Classic.

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99

This is one of my all-time favorite teas. It has a clear, high, pure, pleasantly bitter taste that could be described as “bracing”. Sort of like the tea equivalent of listening to the oboe. This is one of those teas with which I can go into an addiction phase.

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75

This is a great, hearty, dense/intense, shot-in-the-arm red tea.

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81

Writing as someone who doesn’t generally like green tea, this is just about my favorite: strong, rich, complex flavor.

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52
drank Tangerine Blossom by Shang Tea
28 tasting notes

For me this is a mood tea, by which I mean that sometimes it’s striking, pungent flavor feels like just the right thing and sometimes it feels like it’s too much and too bitter and I can’t handle it.

Shang Tea

Thank you for reviewing all of our teas! Just a quick question on this one, how did you brew this tea? If you have more to brew you should try steeping this tea at 205-208 degrees for 30 seconds to 1 minute (on the first brew) and let me know if you think it still tastes bitter or not.

We have a similar tea called Orange Blossom White Tea, where we leave the orange blossoms in the tea. This tea is very bitter and tart from the orange blossoms, but the Tangerine Blossom should be a very light and sweet citrus taste because we remove the blossoms.

jjshapiro

I always brew the tea as precisely as I can according to your instructions, so I’m sure that I must have. I think this is more a question of subjective taste. I have one friend who really likes this tea; another who doesn’t like it; and I find that in certain moods I find it bitter and don’t like it, and because of that I didn’t drink it for a while, but recently I had sonme and liked it. And I like some teas that are quite bitter, so for me bitterness is not in itself a bad thing. Perhaps it is just a combination of what I guess could be called “pungent” and also a kind of bitterness in a combination that is sometimes too intense for me, given that over-all I tend to like unscented rather than scented ones. But I don’t think I was aware of your Orange Blossom White Tea, so I will order some and compare with the Tangerine Blossom. And perhaps mentally I’m comparing it with your Pao Blossom tea which is so delicate and subtle in an unusual way. In any case, my comment was certainly not a criticism of the tea. Human beings are weird: about certain things they can have complete agreement in taste, and in others complete disagreement. For example, when I was in France last year I got some tea that was extremely floral and scented but for some reason I really liked it (partly because it reminded me of the south of France), so I got some for a friend who shares a lot of my tastes — but she hated it! And since she was not going to drink it, she gave it back to me. Similarly, I’ve bought some teas that I really didn’t like (not from Shang Tea) and was going to throw out, but a friend said, “don’t throw them out, let me try them”, so I gave them to her — and she liked them!

Shang Tea

That makes sense, thanks for explaining!

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71
drank Bai Lin Kung Fu by Shang Tea
28 tasting notes

I agree exactly with Teafreak. This is a good red tea, and while not outstanding in the way that Shang’s Golden Needle is, it is pleasant, warm, and radiant and has a kind of delicacy derived from its white tea base.

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Profile

Bio

I “converted” to tea" in March 2008, along with my friend Shelley, after decades of drinking espresso, while on a trip to Santa Barbara. In my 20’s I went through a phase of drinking oolong tea all the time, but basically hadn’t drunk tea in decades. Discovering the world of tea, in concert with my friends Shelley and Linda, under the guidance of Shang Zehua of Shang Tea (a walking encyclopedia of tea knowledge as well as generous and friendly) and with the encouragement and friendliness of Catherine Heagerty of Silk Road Teas and Greg Glancy of Norbu Tea, has been transformational in my life. After almost three years of tea immersion, I still feel that I am a novice in a large and complex world of human culture, history, and experience, but I am enjoying it, as well as noticing the beneficial effect of tea on my physical and mental life. I keep on coming across new pieces of research about the amazing health benefits of tea. I currently drink about two quarts of tea per day. I mainly have red tea in the morning, white tea throughout the day, and pu-erh tea in the evening, sometimes with oolong thrown in in the mid-morning or early afternoon.

Other pertinent things about me: my greatest passion in life is classical music (especially Monteverdi, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Wagner, Mahler, Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, and Morton Feldman); I’m a vegetarian; I love cats; and I love travel, especially to Mediterranean lands, especially Provence. I also love philosophy and am stimulated by information technology.

From being on this site for a couple of weeks, seeing how other people think and write about and evaluate tea, and therefore reflecting more on my own intuitive and previously unarticulated approach to and criteria for tea, I realize that I have a particular orientation to the teas I have (which I also realize parallels my relation to other pleasurable things in my life) that shapes my comments and evaluations. Namely, for every major kind of tea, I like having one or more really good staple or basic ones, and one or more exceptional, outstanding ones. I don’t like to drink only the most exceptional or outstanding ones. I prefer to mainly drink the good staple, basic ones, and then have the exceptional ones when I’m in special or particular moods or on special occasions. So, for example, if I rate a tea as an 80 rather than as a 100, it doesn’t mean I have a low opinion of that tea and that I’m thinking of it as less than what it should have been (e.g. that it ideally would have been a 100). Rather I’m thinking of it as really good, but that I’m aware that there is a tea that is even better that I reserve for special moods or occasions. To take a parallel example from the rest of my life: I really like to eat in diners. When I’m doing so, I’m not thinking of it as inferior to eating in a gourmet restaurant. I’m completely enjoying it (assuming that it’s good diner food). Then, when I eat in a gourmet restaurant (if it really is one), it’s like enjoyment to a superlative degree, especially because someplace in my awareness is a comparison to really good diner food, which even at that moment I’m not thinking of as inferior. Anyway, this is the kind of orientation that underlies my evaluation of teas. I wouldn’t want to drink only teas that I would rate as 100, it would seem unbalanced, decadent, and lacking in perspective.

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