1673 Tasting Notes

Can’t post a review on the blog until the 23rd as my data plan hit the limit and it won’t let me upload pictures until the new cycle.

Anyway, this tea is pretty off the rails cool. What it has in common with other white tea is it is subtle and mellow. That’s pretty much it. I’ve had 100g bags of tea that barely took up the volume of this 10g sample. Seriously, the leaf is huge and not rolled or twisted. They are brown like fall. There is no silver haired buds to be found. I agree with one of the reviewers, it is almost like we are being punked, until you sniff it. The dry scent is fruity and malty. Nice.

I steeped this at 176F for 3 1/2 minutes. It gives you a beer colored brew. The taste is apricots drenched in fresh mountain streams. It is slightly malty. I catch lovely floral notes of peonies. It is so mellow and lightly sweet.

I sense more resemblance to a light black tea than to a white. Now, stout black tea lovers will most likely never make that connection because it is such a subtle tea. The cooler it got the more I loved the taste. It had almost a wine like bouquet with the floral notes. The trouble I had with it was that at room temperature it becomes a gulping tea as I found it that refreshing.

If you enjoy a mild meditative tea, this one from Africa should not be missed. If you more inclined to enjoy big bold flavors or highly roasted notes, then you are probably going to be underwhelmed. Me personally, I don’t ever crave highly roasted oolongs, or chai. I am pretty picky about flavored teas. I want to taste the base, unless it is something desserty or intentionally overpowered like H&S Hot Cinnamon Spice, or pretty much any good Earl Grey.


Someday when (one of us) has time (ha), we should start a pronunciation glossary of all these fun plantation names. Otherwise, I’ll just call this one Bumblebee :)


I think if you eat a handful of crackers while saying bumblebee, you might just get this one.


And of course, I just pictured myself saying bumblebee as dry cracker crumbs spew from my lips….yep, I think it was Bvumbwe!

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drank Sheng Cha Oolong by Simple Loose Leaf
1673 tasting notes

Moving slow today but moving.

This is my last sample from Simple Loose Leaf. I didn’t save it back on purpose but I’m glad it did get held back. This tea I would rename The White Rabbit. It took me way down the rabbit hole. I’ve read several reviews. They are all over the place. I recall them being positive but everyone found something different. Here is my take:

The dry nuggets remind me of the scent of strawberry tops. Too subtle for scented but present. The moment the leaf hit my warm damp press I could smell American biscuits. After steeping the leaf was more baked bread with strawberry and apricot marmalade along with more typical lightly roasted oolong notes. The scent of the white grape colored brew was lightly floral and fruity.

Once the leaf unfurls it is humongous.

Then I tasted. Yeah, caterpillars smoking questionable pipes and Cheshire grins abound. The flavors flew by so quickly. First, I tasted biscuit and baked bread, then strawberry tops. I have not seen any other reviews that caught this same note, so it is just for me, and I appreciate it. The next flavor to fly by is a brief moment of walnut shells. Then it settles into a fruity and floral oolong flavor. Mixed throughout I catch brief roasted notes. This has an interesting kind of tart that leaves a little tingle around the lips and gums. It is also a bit sweet. The feel is a bit milky or almost foamy.

It is a very curious cup.


Reminds me of the tunnel in “Willy Wonka” … there’s just no way of knowing—which direction we are going—-


You have a dark creepy side – cool. ha


You started it with the smoking caterpillars :)

carol who

No kidding, right?

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drank Earl Grey by Ahmad Tea
1673 tasting notes

Desperate need for comfort tea today. I’ve tried for two days to review my last Simple Loose Leaf sample, and I have a stack of What-Cha and Whymm to get to, but at the moment it is just not going to happen.

I haven’t posted much lately. Really haven’t felt well for a couple weeks. The medicine the pulmonologist put me on 6 weeks ago worked fine for a month. Got it refilled and it was like a switch flipped. I’m back to not being able to do much of anything without becoming out of breath and I’ve never smoked a day in my life. Even making tea is work at the moment.

Checked with the pharmacy, his records show the refill is from the same supplier. He exchanged the old ones for some out of a different bottle but it appears the problem is me. Guess I will be making the trip back to the doctor for a different medicine.

On top of that, I got my welcome to Medicare packet in the mail. Kind of a reality jolt. It won’t kick in until July. It takes two and a half years once you admit to yourself you are disabled to get Medicare. My doctor tried to convince me so a year sooner – stupid man pride. The last year I worked, I would sit in my car for 5 minutes after everyone else left while I waited for my blue fingers to turn pink so I could drive home. Here’s your sign.

You have to be unable to work for six months to be considered disabled by the government, then two more years before Medicare kicks in. It’s stupid. The intention is to prevent abuse I guess but really it is much easier on the abuser to go without during the waiting period. The politicians and the press have turned it into a political football. Having been on both sides of the issue, I do understand. Anyway I am feeling a little old and battered today.

Sorry for the over sharing. Just hoping it might encourage someone who is struggling to hold on. Tomorrow is a new day.

While I wait for better days ahead with some new drugs, I am enjoying this my favorite peasant tea.

Maddy Barone

I am really sorry. Sorry that the meds aren’t working any more, and sorry that you have to wait so long to get Medicare coverage. My day job is for Medicare. The Medicare trust fund loses over $64 million dollars a day. A good chunk of that is fraud, so that’s why the delay. But it really gets my goat that honest people in need are the ones to pay for the bad apples.


I am somewhat of a bureaucrat by trade (reluctantly; I just want to do crafts and play with kids when I grow up), but oh, how bureaucracy frustrates me! Hope the comfort tea propped up your battered bones :)


So sorry to hear. I hope the meds get sorted out soon and things improve for you.


Prayers for you K S.


Please get well soon K S! We are sure everything will turn out fine in the end:)


I understand, and give you my best wishes that things improve with every day.


Thanks all.

Maddy, I have been fortunate enough to have insurance the last year. The coming Medicare thing is just a reminder of my new normal. You are on the inside so I believe you, however everything has been so well documented, tested, and double checked, I can’t even begin to comprehend how fraud occurs on the average person’s end. I know, just shows how naive I am.

Maddy Barone

Some fraud is committed by beneficiaries, but the bulk is by suppliers of medical equipment. At any rate, I hope things get better for you in the near future. Meanwhile, tea is pretty good medicine. Not a cure-all, but good!


Prayers for you, K S!

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drank Yin Zhen by Nannuoshan
1673 tasting notes

This is the last of the white tea samples I received from Nannuoshan (Thanks!). I saved the silver needle for last as I love silver needle. This one wins the award for best fragrance as the gorgeous dry silver haired buds hit the hot damp teapot. It has the usual hay fragrance but amped up and more wine like with fruit – apple I think.

The liquor was only slightly yellow tinted after a 30 second steep. The wet leaf is fresh and green, having an almost toasted scent. It also seemed slightly malty.

The taste was at first like scraping the white part of the rind of a watermelon slice. Next was cucumber. I caught notes of grass and hay, as well as floral and fruit. The floral was described by one reviewer as honeysuckle. It is light and glancing notes but there.

The second cup (45s) was darker in flavor, slightly more intense with a peppery note up front while hot. The aftertaste of both cups was hay and floral.

Sadly, I don’t have time to take this further today. I am running out the door for praise band practice. I have invited an awesome guitarist friend to come worship, jam, and otherwise have great fun with us. I’ll try not to make my wife too upset by rolling in really late, but no promises.

To wrap this up, this is one of the top silver needles I have tried. Once you get near the top I don’t know if you can single just one out, but this is definitely in the running.

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drank Dian Yin Zhen by Nannuoshan
1673 tasting notes

A Yunnan silver needle. Interesting. I have yet to meet a Yunnan I didn’t love.

The buds, as others mentioned, look like silver needle but not. They look like golden tips but not. What makes this different is the downy fur covered buds are straw color. They are so soft to the touch.

The dry scent immediately says Yunnan. It’s part leather, pepper, and hay.

After about a 30 second steep at 195 F this looks colorless until poured. In the cup it seems a grayish or possibly green tinted honey.

The taste is everything I love about Yunnan tea. Absolutely no bitterness. It has a warm earthy flavor that lingers between leather, cave mineral, slightly mushroom, and loam. It almost has a smoky presence but I am pretty sure white tea is not fired to halt oxidation.

After sipping this I realized I have sampled something similar in the form of white puerh.

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drank Tie Kwan Yin Oolong by Tea Ave
1673 tasting notes

The third and final of the Tea Ave samples I received along with the awesome aroma tasting set. OK, when I opened the sample I contemplated that Tea Ave was messing with me. The dry scent was roasted as expected along with fall leaves and grape. Grape? Makes no sense to me either but that is how my brain interpreted it. Then I looked at the leaf and instead of the dark green I expected, this looks like a tippy black tea rolled into nuggets trying to look like an oolong.

Steeped 3 1/2 minutes in the gaiwan. Poured into the aroma cup, flipped into the tasting cup without making a mess (Score!). Out of the aroma cup I was just getting roasted notes until I pulled the cup away. The I got a flood of floral bouquet. I liked it.

The taste is dark roasted and nutty. Then it seemed to turn very creamy. I don’t recall any one else experiencing this. Late in the sip I get apricot and greenhouse florals. There is a sweetness throughout.

What struck me is what I was not catching. Normally when I think tie kwan yin, I think geranium, or what those who are less amused taste as latex. This note is only lightly found momentarily in the lingering aftertaste. Between the roasting and the heavier oxidation it seems to be mostly eliminated. Interesting tea.


K S thank you so much for your thorough reviews for all 3 samples here and on you blog :) We would like to invite you to transfer your comments and rate the teas at our website when you get a chance to, it will help us a great deal :) Cheers.

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drank Ginger Lily Oolong by Tea Ave
1673 tasting notes

These samples are abundantly labeled with information including 4 different sets of brewing parameters. The C-3PO gold color of the bag appeals to the Jedi nerd in me.

The dry leaf smelled like roasted biscuits and oats to me. Whaaaat? I don’t know, maybe I should have eaten lunch.

The aroma and taste of this honey colored liquor is wonderful. It is a wave of floral typical of Alishan, but it is more. I’ve never heard of a ginger lily but it blends flawlessly with this tea. There isn’t a heat or spice note to suggest ginger to me. Just lush sweet floral notes. Then the taste and feel become milky. Well, that’s neat and how does that happen? Both thoughts go through my mind. But not for long as the light roasted note kicks in giving this a neat earthy nutty touch. The aftertaste lingers, and lingers, and lingers. It is a swirling transition of first floral then roasting then back.

Very nice.

Tea Ave thank you for the sample, and my apologies for taking so long to get to this one.


We had this one tonight at Writers’ Group!

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drank Earl Grey by Ahmad Tea
1673 tasting notes

I would have never made it as a world traveler. I could not survive the jet lag. Day light savings time only moves the clock one hour and it is kicking my butt. Sad thing is I no longer have to go to the office, so it shouldn’t matter. Today is a rainy, dreary, day with lots of fog. I just can’t get motivated. I am so behind on reviews, but my sleep deprived head hurts. Maybe tomorrow. Today I grabbed my favorite comfort tea. I even added sweetener which I almost never do any more. I over leafed on purpose and lowered the temp to 195 F (90 C) to compensate. The cup is dark, has some bite but not too much, and the bergamot is making me happy. I just may survive this day after all.


Aww, sorry DST is being a pain for you. I myself slept in until 10:30am today partially because of it too. That one hour difference can definitely still make quite a difference.


Losing that hour is just soooooooo wrong…. Take my money, take my car keys, take my jewelry, just don’t STEAL my TIME! ugh. I’m right there with you on this.


That lost hour kills me too. I’ve spent the past few days being mad at Woodrow Wilson for signing it into law, though it looks like I should actually be mad at Benjamin Franklin, Germany, and Congress: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-daylight-saving-time-8-things-to-know-20150306-htmlstory.html


Thanks Kaylee, good read. Riots in Russia over it. While I don’t suggest that approach, I understand. Our part of Indiana used to leave the clocks alone and changed time zones. It was great.


I hate DST as well…we need to get rid of it!


Changed time zones?! I am equal parts amazed and impressed. How is that even a thing? It never occurred to me that time zones could be malleable at will…


Microsoft used to have a special time zone setting in Windows just for Indiana. Then the politicians decided it was some how confusing to businesses in New York. If I could figure it out, I’m pretty sure the suits in New York could pay people to figure it out for them.

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drank Bai Mu Dan 2008 by Nannuoshan
1673 tasting notes

The third white tea from the Nannuoshan collection. Good white tea will age well and mature in flavor. You do not need to finish it off in a hurry if stored well. This one is from 2008. In the dry leaf I catch a complex blending of scents. This is leafy and deeply earthy. There is a touch of sour mixed with sweet. I also catch the fragrance of hay with floral overtones.

The leaf is very dark compared to their younger, Bai Mu Dan offering. It looks more mature with silver buds covered in fine downy hair. The leaves have only a slight hint of green. Mostly they are darker shades of brown, looking more like black tea at this point.

A 30 second steep in 195 F water results in a liquor that is clear with only a light tinting of yellow. The leaf remained mostly on the top of the water during the steep. After emptying the teapot, the leaves can be seen as chocolate brown and cinnamon.

The aroma is very suggestive of a black tea. Along with the leafy and peony floral notes, I detect a healthy dose of malt.

Tasting, there is a green leafy note up front, followed by a touch of ginger without the heat. After this, it turns a mellow mineral, followed by a mystery taste. It isn’t really potato. I am thinking maybe water chestnut, but not really. What is that familiar flavor?

Second cup, also at 30 seconds, had a plum aroma as I poured. The taste continues where the first cup left off with the addition of a peppery spice note up front. This cup also has a pleasant peony taste.

Cup three was steeped for 45 seconds. Weird, it is back to having a malty aroma with a much lighter plum note. This tastes much like the second, except the spicy note is much less pronounced. The plum that I caught in the aroma is also drifting in to the taste.

Sorry getting long winded. I’ll finish by saying this seems to pack a lot of cha qi. I feel warm and fuzzy, very mellow, yet very focused.



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drank Bai Mu Dan by Nannuoshan
1673 tasting notes

My second white tea from the Nannuoshan collection. The dry leaf aroma has sweet and slightly sour notes of fresh cut hay. My sample had very little settling so the leaf is mostly intact, long and straight. The leaf is light green to olive, while the buds are silvery and covered in fine downy hair.

A 30 second steep produces a very light yellow liquor. The tiny fuzzy hairs are seen throughout the mug. Once the tea cools for a moment the fuzz all settles to the bottom leaving an otherwise clear brew.

The wet leaf scent matches perfectly my memory of mom’s peony bushes that bloomed outside my bedroom window when I was a wee lad. I have honestly never caught this before in a white peony. So, much love.

Sipping I get a light melon/cucumber taste. There is some amount of floral notes that are more in the background. The longer I sip the more I pick up on the slightly sweet hay noted in the dry leaf aroma.

I veered off course with the second cup and steeped for 1 1/2 minutes instead of the recommended 45 seconds. The flavor is more intense but I learned I really prefer the shorter steep taste. The brew is a much darker golden color with a green tint. The flavor seems to match the first cup but as I mentioned is more intense. It is accompanied by a peppery spice note at the front of the sip. I catch fleeting glimpses of fruit. It seems to jump back out of range before I can fully lock in on it and identify exactly what type fruit.

I have enough for another session with this one. I intend to stick with the recommended time and temps.

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Having a passion for tea and living in rural America is a tough combination. The nearest tea vendor is 65 miles away. Joining Steepster has completely changed the direction of my tea journey.

My Rating System

90-100 Love it enough to keep around
80-90 Like a lot, would drink often
70-80 Above average
50-70 Average – take it or leave it
0-50 I don’t like it and don’t want to like it


Indiana, USA



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