Featured & New Tasting Notes

This is a very interesting selection from Yunnan Sourcing recommended by a few whose opinions I value. Reportedly a special production by the Mengku Tea Factory made with material from 400-500 year old trees. According to YS, the tea is 100% Ban Zhang Wild Ancient Arbor. The leaves of the cake appear to be clean, thick and stout. These leaves yield a dark gold tea liquor which is bright and clear. There is an enticing floral-fruity scent on top of a smooth woody base which is long lasting and powerful. The sip is full and complex yet strongly sweet. There is a pleasant bitterness but this quickly dissipates then a full, delicious, sweet taste dominates and remains in the mouth for quite some time. Dominant presence in the mouth – the tongue and mouth tingle after just a few small sips. The Qi comes forward after just one cup and builds over several infusions. I find this to be a very enjoyable tea.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 4 OZ / 110 ML
JC

I like this one! I was apprehensive about buying it since I feel for the price tag it has, I would get low grade (since Ban Zhang is so legendarily expensive). But I was glad I did. The first time it did have a pinch of smoke to it, but no other steeps had it. Very good one.

DigniTea

Yes, I quite like it. Did not detect any smoke in mine. That on-going “authentic LBZ” discussion aside, I think it is made from very good material.

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75

Backlog from last night.

I chose this tea last night to have with dinner – a few slices of meat-lovers pizza with sausage, bacon, and pepperoni.

Good call! The saltiness and smokiness of the pepperoni and bacon really went well with the smokiness of the tea. And I love the fact that the base tea itself is slightly sweet.

I was seriously considering buying some dark chocolate after dinner to have with this tea since I had at least half the pot left, but the convenience store was closed. Too bad. I bet this tea would be GREAT when paired with dark chocolate squares.

Michelle Butler Hallett

I’ve done that — lapsang with dark chocolate. Serious bliss.

boychik

tiny bit of maple syrup

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82

Dry – Standard bittersweet ripe notes, some starch, faint earthy and sweet.
Wet – Sweet, fruity complexity (dark dried fruits), faint cocoa/chocolate hints, citrus?, thickness.
Liquor – Burgundy to a reddish-brown. mellow fragrance.

Initial steeps were all sweet and smooth with a noticeable thickness and developing some dark dried fruit notes of dates and sometimes berries? with a caramel or better yet molasses finish to it. As you continued to steep the following steeps had more bittersweet-ness to them, but maintained the character from the first steep.

Around 4-6 some changes developed and I had to adjust the steep times being a bit more conscious on the color and smell of the steep, longevity issues. The steeps here are still very smooth, but wear less thickness and the fruity notes are more active. The notes remind me of dates, molasses and perhaps a Chinese dried persimmon.

Late steeps were from the 6th to a 8th and a very forced 9th steep. The notes are still here, though they are faded and is already lacking some thickness. Still very good steeps with some camphor being detected (was there before but the thickness mellowed it a bit).

Final Notes
A very good and simple ripe, the longevity is a bit… inconsistent, specially considering that the description says 25 infusions…. It also depends a lot on which portion of the cake you are steeping from. The middle get just a rougher with more sticks here and there, which honestly isn’t bad I felt like the middle lacks the thickness, but it has some more bitter notes that at some points may trick you into think ‘cocoa notes’.

Flavors: Dark Bittersweet, Dried Fruit, Molasses, Sweet, Thick

Preparation
Boiling 7 g 4 OZ / 130 ML
boychik

i love dried persimmon and dates flavor. Chawangshop is an interesting place. but i find shipping rather expensive. I dont feel like getting few samples for $17 ship

JC

Yeah, I had the same issue with them. The quality of the tea is very good so far, but the problem is not so much the shipping cost, is the fact that you don’t really know the the cost until after you receive your invoice.

They use a rounded up estimate so you could be paying a lot less than stated initially or end up with a higher price, which honestly sucks when you are planning your order out.

boychik

i really like that YS has loyalty points. quite helpful with the ship. that crazy ship prevents me from placing an order. even if to do join order i think it will be so hard to split the ship portion.

boychik

the tea btw sounds really good. have you tried “Lao Yu”? im so curious about this tea.

JC

Yeah, my recommendation is that you find someone who wants to buy whole cakes that may be interested in trying and just chip in a bit, you’ll be better off.

I haven’t tried that one. can you put a link to be on the look out?

JC

Those look good! I’ll let you know if I plan to order from them again. Maybe you can tag along.

jschergen

I’m the same way with Chawang. So many items added to the shopping cart and an almost equal amount of cancelled orders.

boychik

JC and jschergen if you ever decide to get something from Chawangshop please let me know ;) that 2004 Dehong is haunting me at night lol

jschergen

Yeah, actually those two at the top of my radar too. Especially after Jakub’s review..

JC

you see, you people are a bad influence. I’m trying to save money. LOL

mrmopar

You all want to pool an order?

Cwyn

I’m in, I want the Houde oolong squares.

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80
drank Rose Oolong by Tea Ave
2134 tasting notes

Finally getting around to more of my Tea Ave samples. By now I’ve tried 2 of 3 (plus a bonus), and this one (#–2) is the last one to try. Funny, since by rights it should have been the first one I grabbed given that I love rose. I’m brewing this one western style using my typical green oolong method. I will take the rest home to gongfu, perhaps this weekend.

Some people may appreciate that this tea has light rose notes. They are definitely present, but playing around the edges. I myself prefer a much stronger rose flavor, since rose is one of my favorites. I could forgive that, however, if the base was anything to write home about. I find it a little meh. Vegetal, a little buttery, but lacking the creaminess I would expect from a Jin Xuan. I will say that I get a little bored by Taiwanese high mountain oolongs, although I have them as the base of a few other scented teas and enjoy them well enough. Even in Tea Ave’s own Ginger Lily, it worked better. I think this one is just so dominant in the flavor, and one-note (vegetal). Maybe it will be more nuanced in gongfu. That said, I drank it easily enough.

The thing that sets me off the most about this is the price. Right now, the sale price is more than double what I would pay for a rose green oolong from Dammann or Taiwan Tea Crafts. Now, I am not one to cast judgement at spending a lot on one tea, as I have done my damage with some reserve teas in the past, but their prices seem a tad excessive to me for the product. I am grateful that they sent me the samples to review (as well as the aroma cup set and such), but I will be perfectly honest in my review: I expect mind-blowing for that price, and this is decidedly not.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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drank Sencha Fukujya by Curious Tea
1504 tasting notes

Looks like dried grass clippings. I have a lot of tiny particles in mine. The other tea in the package was undamaged, so I don’t know if this was roughed up in shipping? Others didn’t comment on this so I am believing it is just my bag. Steeping temp of 158F is hard to do but I stood guard over the kettle and got it.

I think Curious Tea nails the taste profile on their webpage by saying this “has a full vegetal and slightly toasty flavour. It strongly evokes green vegetables, such as spinach or greens with a nori undertone and a distinct dryness in the aftertaste.”

I think the only thing I would add is though the temperature is a bit of a pain to hit, it is worth the effort as the cup was nicely smooth.

gmathis

Mercy, 158 sounds like far too much work. I need something that allows me 25 degrees and 90 seconds either way! :)

K S

Japanese tea would never work with the old Hot Shot I used to use, but I really miss the simplicity of those days. I still have to be in a cooperative mood to attempt odd parameters – and that means never any where near early morning.

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68
drank Orange Blossom by DAVIDsTEA
1080 tasting notes

Tried this in the store yesterday, and wasn’t crazy over it even though I like my orange blossom. The base was quite loud and covered up the delicate floral notes. They served it iced, which I imagine is the better way to go with this one, but it still gets a “no thanks” from me.

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95
drank Peppermint by Souvia
1661 tasting notes

’Here’s Hoping’ Teabox Round #4 – Tea #13
Somehow this one wasn’t on Steepster yet, but this is a great herbal peppermint. Super fresh, sweet and strongly minty. Not much else to say, but I definitely need to keep mint in stock at all times! Second steep was delicious too… aren’t they usually? Not sure why I say it all the time!

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drank 2013 FT Feitai 7572 by White2Tea
1065 tasting notes

Thanks to my buddy BezoomnyChaiVeck for the sample :D

This is incredibly solid shou. Sweet and rich and very satisfying! Looks like this was a very good price too but is now sold out. I will remember for future reference that Feitai is good tea and 7572 is a nice recipe! :)

Cheri

I have a whole cake of this that I haven’t even broken into yet. I could send you some more, if you wanted.

Stephanie

Aww you should try it Cheri! :D

paxl13

7572 is the best recipe in ripe IMO :) and I’m the one who bought the last cake :)

AllanK

I have a cake of this I have yet to try. I will have to break it out soon.

Stephanie

Jelly pax!! I JUST missed you in chat too, I was at lunch :)

paxl13

I’ll come by later on today :) Cheers Steph!

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93

MissB is my hero. She found some of this for me while travelling around europe and sent it back to me. I’ll likely still share if some of the girls want to try some, but if not then it’s all mine! mwahahahah. i picked this one for today just because! I wanted all delicious teas today.

Terri HarpLady

Hey, are you still going to France? You can stock up on this one while you’re there, right?

Terri HarpLady

I wouldn’t mind giving it another try…

Sil

will do lady! And even this one is super ridiculous pricing in france because of the tin. I still may get some haha

whatshesaid

yum. you’re going to have so much fun with all the teas when you go there!!

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100
drank Cranberry Pear by DAVIDsTEA
168 tasting notes

Soapy. Very soapy. Drinking dishwater would be more appealing. Yuck!

However, I am sure that taste will go away in a few days. Everything I eat or drink right now tastes off, probably due to the sinus surgery on Thursday. Surgery went well, and no splints or heavy packing had to be used. That means that I can breathe a little bit through my nose, and the pain isn’t nearly as intense. I go back to the ENT on Friday for a follow up and debridement. Hopefully once the crusty, bloody mucus is removed, I’ll start tasting properly again.

MissLena

Happy the surgery went well!

OMGsrsly

I’m so glad it went well! Here’s hoping things will start tasting better. :)

Maddy Barone

Thank you! I talked to someone in an online group for my condition and she said the same thing happened to her, only everything tasted a little like burnt plastic. Yuck! LOL She said hers went away in about 2 weeks.

TeaBrat

Ouch. I hope you feel better soon!

sweetea

Happy to hear you’re on the road to feeling better!

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86

The last time I drank this tea (#6), I said I wanted to try it at a higher temp to see how it performed. And I actually read the note before steeping it, so I remembered to do it! The answer is: not very different? It’s still hugely chocolatey and creamy and sweet, and the base tea is still a little thin. I think I would have been happier if this had been on their usual black tea base instead of a roasted oolong. Still, it is quite tasty.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
Stephanie

I really like this one too but agree that the base is a bit light for it

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Hmm, this sounds like something I would like but somehow I am not loving this particular tea. It is flavorful but also on the tobacco/bitter side of things, at least when you steep it for 2 minutes. So maybe the answer is to gong fu it. I hope I find some way to enjoy it as I now have 50g. Not leaving a rating for now…

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec
boychik

i gongfu it only. and maybe 200F is better. thinner more delicate leaves i brew at lower temp ;)

TeaBrat

Thanks, I will try that :))

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95

Oh this tea is delicious. Sooooo milky. In fact it’s so milky I was wondering if it was flavoured but I’m not getting any tongue tingling I get when flavours are added. The package does not show it as flavoured either.

I brewed it in my gaiwan with the infuser this morning. I’m loving this gaiwan and think I will get more like it. I find it a bit annoying to transfer from a gaiwan to a pouring pitcher. This just simplifies the process with it’s own infuser.

So did a quick rinse on the leaves this morning and even from the quick rinse I was reluctant to throw away the water. A beautiful milky aroma was coming from it.

Meant to brew 30 for first brew but it went 50 before I got to it. Didn’t matter. It was still good. There might be a faint floral aroma from this tea but it’s mostly all milky & buttery , smooth & sweet. Yum!

Flavors: Butter, Floral, Milk, Smooth, Sweet

Tealizzy

Where did you get your gaiwan with infuser? I have the awesome multifunctional gaiwan from Teavivre and I love it!

Ubacat

I got it from this seller on Aliexpress. This seller has some really nice gaiwans.

http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/2014-Openwork-Blue-and-white-porcelain-Ceramic-tea-sets-Kung-Fu-Tea-Celadon-Quik-Cup-One/1260729_1890230268.html

And here’s a basic white cheap one from Yunnan Sourcing. I plan on adding this one to my next order.

http://yunnansourcing.com/en/gaiwans/1463-white-porcelain-easy-gaiwan-for-brewing-gong-fu-cha-200ml.html

Ubacat

Forgot to ask- What does your multifunctional gaiwan from Teavivre look like?

Tealizzy

Oh, I see, like an easy gaiwan with strainer. I have one from Teavivre that is more like an in-cup infuser in a glass pitcher. I really like it : http://www.teavivre.com/blue-and-white-porcelain-multifunctional-gaiwan/

Ubacat

Nice! A bit pricey for a gaiwan but it’s really pretty.

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86

This is a malty ans somewhat sweet tea. When I brewed it I was for some reason thinking it a black tea so I brewed it at the wrong temperature. It is listed on the Yunnan Sourcing USA website under black teas. It is tasty and a good tea but I am not feeling any effect from the GABA. I find GABA to be hit or miss and that usually means miss.

I brewed this twice in a 8oz teapot with 3.7g leaf and boiling water. I steeped it for three minutes each infusion.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
Tealizzy

Have you tried mandala’s GABA black? I had a sample once and gongfu infused it many times and it totally had an effect on me!

AllanK

I also have Mandala’s GABA Black and their GABA Oolong. Perhaps it was because I didn’t gongfu it. Perhaps you need to gongfu it to have the GABA effect.

Tealizzy

Try it out and let me know. I steeped it a crapload of times and felt very calm afterwards! ;)

Liquid Proust

Interesting… I bought GABA powder for my friends and I to put under our tongue while we drank tea. This makes me interested in drinking a GABA tea now.

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86

Brewed with a test tube steeper. No rinse as recommended. Steeping times: 40, 50, 60, 75, 90, 180.

Such a wonderful aroma. The dry leaf smells of malt and wood, and the wet leaf of sweet potatoes and a little hot fudge. I started craving sweet potatoes… The liquor is amber-colored, mostly clear (fuzzies from the leaves), creamy-textured, and full-bodied. Depending on my mood, the flavor profile switches back and forth between pine and dark chocolate. Always sweet, if on the woody/malty side, but never bitter or to woody. There is a sweet cinnamon aftertaste. Cozy feel, seems to be best for late autumn or a cold, rainy spring day.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 g 6 OZ / 177 ML
MzPriss

Love The Zhu

KiwiDelight

I haven’t had a Chinese black tea in months and this experience was a good one in coming back.

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75
drank Vanilla Matcha by DAVIDsTEA
2848 tasting notes

Again, a sipdown. And again… meh. I really don’t need flavoured matcha, honestly. Just plain stuff is perfectly fine for me, then mixed with “regular” (aka a bit sweet) almond milk. I did mix this stuff with unsweetened almond-coconut milk, and it had the perfect amount of sweetness, but it’s silly to pay high tea prices for sweetener. Anyhow, it wasn’t overly vanilla-y, but was good. I believe I prefer Red Leaf’s matches, however, especially with their ability (if it is still around) to select your matcha grade and flavour intensity, so you could really amp up on vanilla flavouring if desired.

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more
Fjellrev

I agree, these DAVIDs flavoured ones are weak.

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I haven’t had the opportunity to try a jin jun mei before, so I grabbed a bit of this one with my Verdant order. It looks like a dian hong, and truthfully, it tastes like a dian hong. Sweet, yammy, smooth, maybe a bit of caramel, but not really distinct. Not really sure why there’s such a hype and steeper price for this kind of tea.

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74
drank Green Passionfruit by DAVIDsTEA
1080 tasting notes

Seeing that I absolutely love fresh passionfruit, I had to grab some of this. It didn’t even smell like it in the canister, but I had faith that it would taste good regardless.

Hot, it’s alright. I can taste a hint of pineapple and something more like peach than anything else. Not sure if that’s supposed to be the passionfruit flavouring. I shall reserve the rest for a cold brew when I head back to the countryside.

Kittenna

I’ll try this, but I’m pretty meh about it just based on the description and the fact that it’s a green. Sounds like I’m probably not going to care for it.

Fjellrev

Yeah, it seems quite generic for DAVIDs. I swear other flavoured greens in the past even tasted like this.

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77

This is a pretty awesome shou. A medium-dark amber color with a sweet earthy taste. I guess the word is “meaty” even if that doesn’t make much sense to anyone else :P I enjoyed multiple steeps of this tea. I noticed a distinct difference between this and the other grade that I tried (either fifth or seventh, I can’t remember). This is more clean and pure tasting to me – definitely enjoyable and would have again.

Flavors: Earth

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
mrmopar

I get “meaty” and “brothy” sometimes.

kieblera5

I’m glad it made sense to someone :)

mrmopar

Always, most puerh is multi-faceted and hard to nail down a particular note sometimes. I get the salty/brothy sometimes with sheng.

Liquid Proust

The fifth grade is much bolder than this one is. They are fun to try side by side.

kieblera5

I actually had seventh – I looked back in my notes. I preferred the first grade though!

WYMMTEA|惟餘莽莽

we all have our unique preferences:) glad you enjoyed the tea kieblera5 and thanks for the reviews!

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90

This Oriental Beauty has a great fruity based flavor! Early steepings I got raisins and later infusions I got pear. Also present is a thick body, toasty bread, bit of spice and lots of honey notes. With the aroma cup, it smells like cinnamon buns!

Interestingly, steep this tea with boiling water and you get a dark cherry notes instead of raisins and pears, however with the hotter water temperature you get a fairly dry mouth feel.

Full review on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/oriental-beauty-from-tea-ave-tea-review/ Did I burn myself with the aroma cup? Read on a see!

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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97

’Here’s Hoping’ Teabox Round #4 – Tea #3

Oh my gosh why does this one only get a 68 rating on Steepster!!?? It is so delicious! The most root beeriest of teas. Maybe others are brewing it as an iced tea and not liking it? Or brewing it hot and not liking it? I used quite lot of the blend, steeped for a few minutes right after boiling. The description here doesn’t seem like it includes everything… there is a ton of cinnamon pieces.. more than the black tea leaves. There is a ton of sarsaparilla flavor! I’m not sure what the sarsaparilla should like as an ingredient. I think there should be mallow root instead of the white chocolate chips, which I don’t see anyway. I’m surprised there isn’t more cinnamon flavor. The color of the brew is light brown so the black tea itself isn’t very strong. But whoa it just somehow tastes so much like root beer. I would drink this instead of root beer! I also added some rock sugar. The second cup was just as tasty but slightly more cinnamon. I might keep the last couple of teaspoons of this one if it is so underappreciated. :D
Steep #1 // 2-3 tsps. // just boiled // few minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // few min steep

Fjellrev

I can’t believe the average rating is that low too!

Tamarindel

I really love it but found out about it too late to stock up, and now I’m worried they won’t bring it back this summmer :(

Roswell Strange

I THINK that the rating is so low because when this first came out it was right alongside that ghastly Cherry Cola blend that EVERYONE hated – and so this one got a bit of a bad rep by association? And, the reblend (while super similar) was also better IMO, and I think many of the reviews for this one are older?

tea-sipper

Ah, could be. Thanks!

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I have an interest in bamboo puerh teas because the method of production is so intriguing – fill sections of bamboo with tea leaves and then steam, roast, dry and age in the bamboo. The bamboo is reported to provide a unique sweetness to the leaves. I am able to appreciate the process by looking at this photo of a farmer making bamboo puerh: http://www.michaelfreemanphoto.com/-/galleries/the-galleries/countries/asia-australasia/china/yunnan/-/medias/ed820fb8-090f-11e0-bee4-852ca0e067a1-bamboo-tea?gallery=b6bf0ad4-0192-11e3-99e7-2bf391fc38b8&hit_num=1&hits=2&page=1&per_page=50&search=bamboo&search_in_gallery=1
The scent of this YiWu dry leaf is sweet with an interesting spicy note. The tea soup is deep dark gold in color. The wet leaves are whole and nearly 2 inches in length. The tongue and mouth feel alive and tingly after the first few sips. The initial taste sensations are earthy and spicy. The honey-like sweetness works well with a light woodiness. A bit of astringency is found in later infusions but not at all off-putting. Interestingly, I did not detect any remaining smokiness in the smell or taste. These leaves produce cup after cup of highly flavored sweet mellow tea. Multi-layered – sweet and woody with a light spiciness. This is a very approachable raw puerh.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 4 OZ / 110 ML
Stephanie

Neat picture! Intriguing tea.

DigniTea

Steph – yes, helps you appreciate the tea even more. Don’t you think?

Stephanie

For sure!

tea123

This tea sounds unique.

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88

Ah, my impulse-buy tea (#10). It just smelled too good to resist, despite the fact that it is one of the only-in-a-tin expensive editions. Fortunately, it is quite tasty. Not perfect; honestly it could be more caramel-y and more rosey, but still a nice cup to drink. I think the base this one might benefit from being steeped at a lower temp (while Love Song is fine at boiling), as it gets a bit harsh and the caramel becomes almost burnt tasting. Will try to remember that for the future.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
Marzipan

This is me being jealous of all of your French teas!

Dinosara

Haha well soon you will have your own huge order, too! Maybe you’ll have to organize a MF group buy next. :D

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