434 Tasting Notes

The tea smells fabulous with sweet potato,cocoa, the brighter tones of malt and the spicy tones of gardenia, sharper tasting sweet berries and a touch of honey.

The dry leaf is mostly chocolate brown broken leaves with scattered golden tips

Once brewed it yields a red toned broth

There is a light flavour at first that is slightly vegetal with the bitter tones of malt, but this quickly dissapears and you get the heavier tones of malt, cocoa, and gardenia, that then sweeten into fruit, honey and cocoa notes. As it cools sweet potato is present in the first notes as well as a citrus note, and a hint of floral. Allowed to cool further the fruit notes come to the forefront with the sweet potato and the berry notes are more distinct.

The tea resteeps quite well, with sweet potato, citrus and malt notes more apparent.

I brewed this tea at around 92°C for three minutes and there is a mild astringency and a cooling feeling at the top of the mouth. There seems to be more caffeine in this one than Tiger Assam as I feel it buzzing in my upper arms. I am quite enjoying this mix of floral spice, fruit, cocoa and bitter tones. I might actually prefer it to Tiger Assam.

Thanks Sil this was a perfect first cup for today!


i wasnt impressed at first time i tried a sample. im so glad i picked a tin on NYC Fest. The more i drink it, the more i fall in love with this tea.


I think it might be a tea that might be easy to over steep, it does have those bitter tones. Others have found it to be astringent thats why I used a cooler temperature. The very first sip when hot was kind of vegetal and thin but as it cools it transforms to something really pleasant.


Yyz, you always make me want to drink whatever you’re having, but it’s rarely in my cupboard :-(
This time, it is!! I recently received a huge sample from a generous tea friend, I think I will try it tomorrow morning…


You are right. 200-205F and no more than 3 min for me.


yay! glad you’re enjoying it. it’s nice to be able to try these before committing to a whole 4.4oz tin!


and yes… keep it a little lower on the temp side with this one

Sami Kelsh

Ooh, this sounds so nice! Man, I really need to invest in these tea people, for reals.


sami just poke me sometime…happy to send you samples to try before you place an order since shipping will be a nightmare

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drank Black Gold by Mandala Tea
434 tasting notes

This tea is a lovely mix of sweet notes and cocoa, with light floral notes, a hint of orange and a bright nature hidden under the warm sweet tones.

The dry leaf is a roughly wound blade with silver tinged golden buds and grey black to brown dusty leaves.

The tea brews to a young oak colour with scents of cocoa,molasses, malt, honey, spice, and a hint of yam. I brewed the tea 4 times, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks Dexter for this lovely tea!


Sweet at first with honeyed tones, followed by a bit of oatmeal mixed with bittersweet chocolate. Malt lies very lightly underneath. There is a hint of plum and a very light floral ( almost rose) mixed together. A hint of something crisp and bright like the upper tones of malt is present. The tea is mostly cocoa, mixed with honey and a light grain note underneath as it cools . It is warming at the front of the mouth, with a nice medium density and a moderate dose of caffeine.

2 min. Bright malt, with a floral tone out front, followed by molasses, dark malt, cocoa and oatmeal and a touch of sweet potato. Cocoa, dark, malt and a citrus grain note, with honey become dominant as the tea cools.

3 min, sweet potato,cocoa, a hint of molasses, a touch of orange,grain notes, malt. Brighter flavour than previous steeps, sweet cocoa tone is not as rich. Malt tastes heavier and deeper as it cools.

4 min fading bright vitamin c notes and a vegetal, plum note on top, hint of sweetness. Hints of honey malt and a reference to cocoa as it cools.

Maybe not as resilient as some Yunnan’s I have had as the flavour seemed to really fade after the third steep, but the flavour is really rich and comforting.

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This is another tea I’ve had to a while.

The dry leaf has brown, black and grey leaves , with scattered golden tips.

I used one heaping TSP/225ml.

After 3 min the tea brews up to deep mahogany brew.

The tea smells comfortingly of biscuit, light sweet red fruits, tempered by plum, honey, spice with a slight presence of vanilla and honey, with the deeper tones of malt underneath.

First impressions are of a smooth, sweet and light Assam. Light fruit and honey are in the first sip, with biscuit notes deepening into a malty slightly deeper fruit tone base. Spice and vanilla are underneath. There is a slight light floral tone in the lighter top notes. Pleasant and probably a nice Assam for those who have difficulty with heavy tannins and astringency as this tea is lighter in both of these for an Assam but has enough texture to have a nice density in the mouth. Despite honey being quite present in the initial sips, this tea does not have as sweet an aftertaste as some of my Assam’s. A citrousy malt note becomes more present as the tea cools and a sharper tone develops in the tea. I think when I first had this I used less leaf as I remembered feeling that this tea was too light in flavour, but with a heaping spoonful this is quite a pleasant tea.

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Buoyed by Dexter’s glowing review of this tea, I finally drank this tea last night.

It has quite a lovely rich, warm flavour. The first steep tasted a little like Chinese grocery store oolong in the orange tin if perhaps a little less nutty but subsequent steeps were much rounder, and richer in flavour with good roasted charred notes, balanced with caramel, cinnamon, stewed black cherries and apricots, cocoa, fall leaves, vanilla cream, and mineral notes. The first steep does have that odd mauvish colour that Dexter noted. Pretty tasty if you like dark roast teas.

The dry leaf is like the picture appearing very dark brown to black. They are heavily charred. The tea was well packaged as the nuggets remain solid and tightly wrapped in shape as I think the level of roasting may make them prone to crumbling.

I steeped the tea 9 times at @95°C after a rinse (40, 35,40,50,70,90,150s, 4min, 6 min), 1.5 TSP in 170ml Taiwan.

The broth was a eddish grey tinged brown for first steep, more red tinged golden brown for others.

40s. Scent Charcoal tinged roasted grain note, caramel, sweet dried apricot mixed with cherry and plum, hint of fall leaves spice note

Taste Toasted grains up front opening to brown sugar caramel note, hints of fruit and leaves layered in bbetween, bitter cocoa mixes with sweet sugar in the aftertaste. black cherry like fruit note becomes stronger as it cools and charcoal moves to the background.

35s scent roasted note, caramel over cherry with cinnamon, cocoa, fall leaves.

Taste Roasted note blended with much stronger cocoa note and fall leaves, over caramel, stewed black cherry and cinnamon.

40s scent. fruit, spice and caramel, moving to the front combined with the cocoa, roasted note moving into background

Taste Caramel, cocoa, with roasted notes over stewed cherries and cinnamon, leaf note gone.

50s. Taste Roasted note caramel cocoa, fruit heading more to dried apricot.

70s taste . Roasted grain, cocoa, caramel, joint of warm fruit with cinnamon. Black liquorice tone in aftertaste.

90s. Taste same as above with a little vanilla cream and the caramel notes are mellowing, but the tea is quite sweet, with a hint of roasted ash note, less fruit, and more cream, cocoa and mineral notes

150 taste sweet notes fading, roasted grain notes, cream, and mineral notes, with fading caramel and cocoa.

5min taste cream, cocoa,roasted,notes,vanilla, caramel., mineral note.

6min taste continuing to fade but still flavourful.

The spent leaves are charred in such away that even though they have unwound the blades remain mostly wound and are curly not flat leaves are dark chocolate brown.

A really nice warm tasting tea!

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drank Papaya and Orange by Bonomelli
434 tasting notes

Despite all the potentially tart ingredients included, this tea smells fantastic. It smells like the small dark rounder papayas that have the darker orange flesh and that taste sweeter, with just a tinge of orange. The colour of the tea even mimics the reddish orange colour of the papaya flesh.

Flavour wise, the first sip does betray the hibiscus but after that it settles down into a pleasant blend of herb and fruit. The papaya is tempered by a note that reminds me of chamomile, though there is no chamomile on the ingredients list, this is followed by a slightly bitter zest of orange ( like Orangina), that is sweetened by liquorice( which is really just a sweet note). I found the tea pleasant and it will probably make a nice cold brew, but the hibiscus is present enough that if you are sensitive it you may not enjoy the tea. However it is very affordable and comes in small 10 bag boxes that makes it suited to us that like diversity, and is definitely worth the risk of trying it. Papaya and Orange do make a very tasty combination.

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This is a good Assam blend, that would be especially nice for someone who likes the fruity, malty spectrum of Assam’s, and that like to take their tea with milk. It has a fair bit of tannins and moderate astringency so it is a good match for rich foods such as a fry up.

The dry leave are dark to chocolate coloured thin blades scattered with golden tips and smell of raisins and chocolate.

I have brewed this tea twice, both times at around 95*C for 3 minutes.

The first time I used 1 TSP per 225 ml. I found this to be a little bit too much leaf for me so I reduced it to about 3/4 TSP the second time.

The broth is a mahogany toned red.

Using 1 tsp resulted in a scent that is very fruity with cherry and citrus notes. Also present were spice, malt, pastry, milk chocolate and a hint of almond tones.

The tea tastes much heavier than it smells. Malt and cocoa are the first tones, followed by cinnamon with a hint of nutmeg and finishing with citrus opening up to cherry almond tone. There is a hint of a light floral if you hold the tea at the front of the mouth and allow air to move over it. The texture created by tannins and astringency are a little too strong to create a biscuit tone. The tea lends itself well to milk and would complement a fry up ( big greasy breakfast) quite well. As it cools the dark cherry and bitter malt tones blend more elegantly together with the cool floral note appearing lightly on top of it. This is a nice and robust tea and quite strong. Brewed this way this is a nice blend for those who like robust, heavily malty, fruity Assam’s. The tannins really coat your tongue, with this tea.

The tea resteeps nicely with citrus note intensifying and the tea tasting sweeter and and a little spicier.

Using 1 /4 less leaf, the first steep is much sweeter, with stronger cocoa notes and less bitter malt. The tea remains fruity, but the cherry note is less apparent. The flavours blend together well and are less distinct than when more leaf is used. The tannins and astringency are still quite apparent. A sweet tone with tinge of caramel is first apparent over cocoa and malt, with the flavour finishing with spice and a slightly tart fruit tone balanced by warm berry tone.

I must thank both Sil and boychik for their generous samples of this tea. It is a nice blend and makes a nice breakfast tea.

1 tsp 8 OZ / 225 ML

What a review. I think I’m going to read it not once :)


“It has a fasir bit of tannins and moderate astringency …”
“The texture created by tannins and astringency are a little too strong …”
“This is a nice and robust tea and quite strong.”
“The tannins and astringency are still quite apparent.”
Not to be consumed before breakfast on an empty stomach!


Probably not a good idea if you are intolerant!


Well luckily, I’m not and I’ll take this baby on an empty stomach any given day :-)


Neither am I, thank goodness as I’ve had times where I’ve existed on nothing else but caffeine:). No food for 16 plus hours, or pushing past those moments you’re so tired you’re freezing…etc


I’ve been a tea lover all my life and haven’t had any such issues. However, this Assam, on that day, wasn’t a good idea on an empty stomach. I suspect it was me as I had heartburn for a couple of days afterwards.

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This is one of the green teas I received yesterday! It will probably take me a little while to figure out my preferred parameters but so far I prefer less leaf, higher temperatures and shorter steeps.

This tea has dark green, curled thick, twisted cabled leaves. The leaf smells intensely sweet and fruity.

Using 1 TSP/200ml/85°C/40s the result in tea is a pale green yellow.

The tea smells of blanched fresh peas, cantelope, chestnut and a hint of savoury greens.

The taste is intensely sweet with notes of melon, fresh peas, caramel, rock sugar, a hint of chestnut, and a hint of lilac. The higher temperature produced a thinner brew.
I kept my resteeps to intervals of 5-10s. These steeps had notes of melon, chestnut, peas, caramel, a touch of cocoa, and a touch of lilac spice. They were creamier and had a more balanced flavour sweet with just a hint of bitterness.

Using more leaf (1 TSP / 150ml) produced stronger spinach notes and bitter greens. Lower temperatures resulted in a creamier but more savoury brew.

The seller http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/Sunfall-2014-green-tea-premium-organic-tea-bulk/1052197_1837152561.html kindly shipped the tea in two packets whiich will make it easier to keep fresh. It is also available here.: http://h5.m.taobao.com/awp/core/detail.htm?id=38236971307&spm=

This is a nice very sweet green tea and probably my second favourite of the Rizhao greens I have.

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This tea provided a pleasant accompaniment to my afternoon.

The dry leaf smelled of a powdery chocolate smell with a hint of sugar and raisin as well as a hint of sweet aging straw. The tea never developed the sweetness apparent in the smell.

I brewed this tea 12 times after the rinse and used half a sample packet. ( 10, 20, 25, 30,35,40,45,50,60,80,120,180s). The broth was a brownish red tinged gold.

The first third of the steeps were dominated by a coffee like bitterness created by tones of leather, dried bitter greens, dry fall leaves, dark cocoa and charred dried aged wood. This was tempered by unsweetened cream, plum, warm lemon, and a hint of vanilla orchid.

In middle steeps the leather and bitter greens slowly dissipated and the wood developed a charred aged cedar tone. Honey became apparent underneath the fruit. Tones of sultana and licorice appeared briefly among the cocoa, charred wood, fruit and cream.

The later steeps were dominated by plum charred cedar, cocoa, honey and hints of vanilla orchid.
The tea produced a bright tingling at the front of the mouth and a warmth in the throat.

Thanks Angel I enjoyed this tea very much and appreciate the opportunity to really begin my education in puerh teas!

Once again thanks to the ever generous TeaVivre for their generous samples.


The flavors and aromas you get from this tea is astounding. Do you have a background as a tea sommilier, or did you get some other kind of training to be able to identify the flavors so distinctly?


Thanks. I actually don’t have any formal training. Informally I grew up in a very multicultural environment and have had exposure to a wide variety of environments. I started cooking by taste when quite young and my mom and I used to go on wine tours from when I was a young teenager. Some of the vintners used to lay out samples from their entire production and I guess my education in discerning tastes and tones began there. I’ve generally had a pretty good sense of taste though! I have travelled a lot as well and it is sometimes interesting how different culinary traditions combine the same ingredients and obtain very different results. Or in some cases use small amounts of a simple ingredient to create a bold transformation in flavour.


Thank you for posting here about your tasting history.

I don’t feel I have a very good sense of taste myself, but it may be in part due to my racing mind, and my hope is that in slowing down I will be better at discerning flavors. I’ve already slightly better at it; I hope my ability to taste continues to improve as I continue to slow my life down.

I also appreciate that last sentence you posted, as it reminds me how the right changes in the right place at the right time, no matter how small, can transform lives.

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drank Keemun Classic by Capital Tea Ltd.
434 tasting notes

This dry tea smells of rye bread that has been allowed to develop a dark crust and is slightly smokey and chocolate and has broken but still fairly large thin leaves ranging in colour from black to milk chocolate brown.

After 3 min at 95°C this tea brews up to a nice reddish copper.

The scent is soothing and warming of light to medium spicy smoke chocolate, a hint of vanilla orchid and a grainy slightly malty note and a hint of fruit.

The tea feels dense in the mouth, with moderate astringency. A sharp fruit tone like dark slightly sour berries and malt are up front, followed by a mild dark chocolate, insence like spice like burning fall leaves, and vanilla orchid to soften and balance the tea. This tea is nice and robust due to the tannins and the astringency. As it cools the chocolate, spicy tone from the smoke ( which is at a level I can appreciate and which enhances the flavour of the tea) and a robust grain tone become dominant and the sharper fruit are minimised. There is a tone that reminds me a little of iron and the flavour reminds me a little of a bitter sweet lava cake I once had.

After a resteep of 4 min the body is a touch thinner and it smells more of chocolate. When hot the sharp berry note is a biy more like a young wine with the sharp berrybalanced by bitter notes from the malt, cocoa, and smoke. There is a nice smokey, grainy element to this steep. This tea could probably take another resteep.

This tea is very nice, with a higher level of caffeine and with enough body to take milk if you prefer your tea that way, and a nice robustness in flavour. It reminds me of being at the field camp in Chapleau watching the mists rise off the lake in early morning and waking to the day in companionable silence. Overall very happy to have this in my cupboard.


Awesome review! You have quite a refined palette! Perhaps your Steepster moniker should be Mass_Spectrometer!


How does this Keemun compare to others you’ve tasted?


I haven’t had that many yet. This one definitely has more chocolate tones and is slightly smokier than the ones I’ve had so far. It has a denser mouth feel and more astringency at this temperature. It is a bit more bitter, but this appeals to me as I love espresso. Of the ones I had the Teavivre superfine, reminded me. Of a jinjunmei I had. The whispering pines one had a menthol pine tone that I liked and made the tea very refreshing. The Marie Antoinette one was Avery broken op which was smooth but did not have the resteepability of these other ones. I had an older Zen tea one I liked as well. I’d like to try this one at a lower temp and try it using shorter steeps. It is not as elegant as some of the Keemun’s I’ve had, but I like the robustness, the chocolate notes in it and I appreciate the tones the smoke contributes.


Agreed with looseTman, your descriptions are so colourful! I think you have a lot more taste buds than the average human ;-)


Thanks for the detailed reply! We look forward to your lower-temperature results …


i envy your tastebuds and description abilities;)


Or how about, Super-Human_Buds


Do you have a culinary background?


Not professionally. I do like to cook by taste though, and enjoy experimenting with food from different cultures ( one of the joys of living in such a multicultural area). My mom also used to take me on wine tours when I was quite young 13-14. A friend of my mom’s knew the honour of one winery outside of St.Catherine’s and she used to lay out everything she produced that year and we’d sample it all.


You might consider adding this background info to your Steepster profile.

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