336 Tasting Notes


Another one of my Teavivre samples, did it with the gaiwan. I’m feeling a little lazy, so I’m not going to log the individual steeps.

I know this flavor but I can’t put my finger on what it is. It’s not quite chocolatey. It’s like a combination of slightly earthy and some dark fruit thing, with a bit of smoky thrown in for good measure. The aroma of the wet tea leaves is really smoky. It’s very smooth.

I think it’s gonna be a little too much on the smoky side for a restock, but it’s definitely worth a try.

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drank Mi Xian Black by Butiki Teas
335 tasting notes

This was a sample sent to me by the wonderful Nicole! Works out, because this was a tea I’d already been wanting to try based on some of the reviews I’ve read. So I sipped some of this tonight as I tried out my neato little bass guitar that I bought from a coworker. I feel kind of bad because I got it at most half of what its new value is, but I couldn’t pass up an offer this good on a bass so different from the one I have right now. Plus the guy who was selling it is a total sweetheart, and I have to admit part of my motivation was just helping him out…

We were busy at work today and I talked a lot all day, and this feels really good on a dry, clenched throat. I get a bit of the maltiness, but I get more of that dark fruity/sweet potato flavor. Okay, honey. Very sweet and smooth, no astringency whatsoever. Creamy mouthfeel. I think I underleafed a bit (I did 1-1.5 tsp instead of the recommended 2), but I wanted to make the sample last as long as possible. Yep, this will most likely be a restock.

Terri HarpLady

Yay for getting great deals on musical instruments. They best part of being a grown up is that the toys just keep getting better!


So true!!! Although they do start getting more expensive, too…

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Made this the first go-round in the teapot.

Cup 1: This is like an overture of Chinese black teas. The first time it hit my tastebuds, it was earthy, like Bailin gongfu, and a little smoky, a hint of good lapsang. But the longer it stays on the tongue, the maltier it gets. On my first taste, there was a hint of sweet that went with the malty. A bitty bitty hint of black dragon pearl.

Cup 2: Forgot to take the infuser ball out of the teapot and left it steep for 45 min to 1 hour – whoops! But it’s still very drinkable. Very, very malty and good. It’s getting astringent from steeping so long, but not enough to make me stop drinking it. I’m only getting a phantom hint of cocoa, and that mostly in the aroma.

Good, good tea! Can’t wait to try in the gaiwan!

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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MY TEAVIVRE ORDER CAME TODAY!!! MY TEAVIVRE ORDER CAME TODAY!!! And I have a day off! And I have my gaiwan! Happy happy happy!

This was the first tea I’ve been wanting to try. I did this in the gaiwan. Dry leaf is dark and twisting, somewhat fine. Earthy scent.

Steep 1: 1 tsp, slightly under boiling, 10s. Wet leaf smells dark and mossy. Tea tastes very similar. Very smooth, little to no astringency, bassy flavor.

Steep 2: 12 s. Not getting a ton of difference in the flavor, but the mossiness is more pronounced. There’s something atmospheric and evocative about teas that taste like this.

Steep 3: 14 s. The mossiness has mellowed. There is the littlest bit of malty in the background.

Again, I had what barely qualifies as an excuse for breakfast, so I’m reluctant to do too many steepings on a relatively empty stomach. I prefer malty over earthy when it comes to black teas, and this was definitely the latter. Nonetheless, a well-made and enjoyable tea.

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So after my bizarre Laoshan green affair, I decided to try this, since it’s another reason I’ve been waiting for my gaiwan. I do have to admit, while this tea’s not quite my thing, I am much more in favor of it!

Steep 1: 10 s. Verdant says to do this with boiling water. I let the water cool a lot below boiling, so this is probably underdone. Flavor in the cup is softer and more subtle than what I’m used to with this tea. If I concentrate, I get a bit of the caramel center in the item notes. But the most surprising part of all was when I smelled the wet leaves in the cup. Is it just me, or did I pick up some pine scent?!? Not that I’m complaining…

Steep 2: 12 s. Barley aroma a bit more pronounced in the wet leaves this time. Same with the taste. There’s some floral-fruity note that I can’t pin down. I keep staring at “honeydew melon sweet orchid” and trying to figure out if that’s it. I still don’t think it is.

Maaaaaan. I’d wanted to do at least a third steep, if not a fourth and a fifth, but I haven’t eaten in a while and my stomach is starting to get a little peeved with me putting all this greeny liquid in it without any food. (siiiiiiiiiiiigh) Welp. ’Til next time, gaiwan!

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OK. I have been holding off on doing a legitimate review of this tea because I was convinced I was doing something wrong. Every time I try to make it, I feel like I oversteep it. I take one sip, and then can’t even finish the cup. So this evening after work, I decided to make this one my inaugural gaiwan tea.

I’m still on a learning curve with the gaiwan, but I’ll get there. I think I have the gist of it though?

I’m going to rain on the Steepster parade with a brutally honest account of my personal experience. I don’t know what the issue is with me and this tea. I don’t know if I got a weird batch, or if I’m still making it wrong – or if this particular flavor profile just doesn’t sit with me. Dry leaf smells like fake chocolate flavoring on top of a green base, and the two aromas do NOT jive together for me. It’s the same fake chocolate flavoring I tasted in the Laoshan black, but unlike black tea, it does not go well with green. When I make it – even with a gaiwan, with water that is even cooler than what Verdant’s website calls for – it always tastes like I overdid it. The thing is, I’ve done it so many times now, and the taste so resembles the smell, that I’m doubting it’s my error, I think it’s the tea. The wet leaf aroma and flavor are completely unappealing to me. There’s a light vegetal taste, which is fine until it’s overpowered by a burnt, sickly sweetness that legitimately makes my stomach turn.

Suggestions?!?!? My gaiwan steeping was ~1 tsp of tea at 170 degrees for 10 seconds (although I may accidentally have gone a little over, which may partly account for the burnt quality.) Am I doing it wrong or do I just have an aversion to this particular flavor profile?


It just may be your taste buds. Nothing wrong with that. :)


I agree, you don’t have to love a tea just because it’s popular. Everyone has their own tastes/preferences.

Lily Duckler

My other suggestion would be to try brewing in glass and not to cover your tea as it’s steeping. Covering increases the brewing temperature even over short brewings and can make greens more temperamental. Brewing in glass is also a good option as the material is so good a dissipating heat.

I generally brew green tea with my nose. Just like green vegetables are done cooking when they look most beautiful, green tea usually tastes the best when it smells best. With this tea, for example, I usually pour my water against the side of the glass (so as not to shock the leaves), swirl for around five seconds, and smell. If it smells good, then it’s done brewing: I pour out into a new glass through a strainer.

Have you seen David’s brewing videos about Laoshan Green? I’ll leave the links here for reference. Though the videos are using different harvests, the same methodology still applies.

All of that said, the flavor profile of Laoshan Green tea is very distinct. In Chinese, we refer to it as “dou xiang wei”.. (soy) bean fragrance/aroma flavor. It is a decidedly sweet vegetal flavor that leans more towards sweet-savory (soy bean, green bean) rather than more leafy // chlorophyl (grasses, fresh leaves). In that way, your comparison to chocolate makes sense- cocoa is after all made from a particularly sweet bean. However, just like some people do not enjoy chocolate (cocoa bean) while others do not like cream or milk or the flavor of vinegar or the flavors of red meat, it’s possible that this flavor is just not something you enjoy. Given all of this, I want to thank you you taking so much time with the He Family’s tea! Because I love what Mr. and Mrs. He are able to get out of their land and their leaves, so I always really appreciate seeing people take the time to try and taste their tea.

If you’re ever in the Midwest, I hope you’ll be able to come and visit us in Minneapolis. I’d love to make this tea (and others) for you and drink it with you!


Folks, look at the above comment; if this isn’t the height of professionalism, I don’t know what is. Lily took the time and patience to respond to an abnormally negative and blunt review of one of her company’s signature teas with steeping suggestions, links, and an explanation of how the flavor profile is created, without getting defensive. She then went on to thank me for trying her company and even went so far as to invite me to their store! It’s commendable to go the extra mile for an appreciative customer, but to do it for one who complains about the product is truly a cut above.

Lily, thank you for your thorough feedback – I hadn’t considered how covering the tea would affect the steeping temperature! I’ve still got some of this tea left, so I’m going to revisit it with your advice. I also want to let you know that although the Laoshan green wasn’t my cup, I enjoyed your Laoshan black tea, and I fully plan on restocking that as well as trying some of your other selections.

Lily Duckler

Thank you, TeaKlutz! I hope you have better luck next go-around, but if not? The autumn harvests are coming up soon, and every season brings a different quality to each tea.

Happy sipping!

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I interrupt this broadcast to celebrate two things:

1. MY GAIWAN CAME TODAY!!! MY GAIWAN CAME TODAY!!! Aaaaaah! (happy dance) I feel like a real tea connoisseur now! Good thing I haven’t sipped down my last Verdant oolong yet! It’s so gorgeous and delicate! I’m scared I’m going to drop it, but I’m so excited to try it!

… Uh, how do I use it?

and of course it showed up after I brewed a pot of this tea. Ah well!

2. Got a notification that my Teavivre order has departed Bethpage, NY. Only a few days! Making the dragon pearls last just long enough to make it until the big bag comes.


haha! Yay for a gawain and learning how to use it! I still have not bough one yet. These dragon pearls are yummy!

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So there is a lot of DAVIDsTEA hype going on up in here, and until Steepster I’d never even heard of the place. I went onto their website to check locations – none in Ohio! Damn you Canadians and your densely DAVIDsTEA-populated areas! Well, to be honest, most of their stuff doesn’t sound like what I’m really into, but still! It would be nice to have a tea store besides Teavana within driving distance from me! Also, not gonna lie, anything pumpkin is about to get really tempting within two weeks…

This, again, is me working on sipping down my Arbor teas. I think I like Arbor, but I don’t love them. There are many good things to be said about them. My favorite thing about them is that they have by far the best selection of Fair Trade Certified teas I’ve found from any of the tea manufacturers I’ve seen, and I looked through quite a few of them. Also, they’re one state over from me, so they’re close, and all of their tea packages come with a handwritten little note (the second one said “Thank you again!” They keep track of their customers!) But as far as the teas go, I’ve tasted one or two I’ve really really liked, and the rest are all just… good but not making the floor drop out from under me. Of course, I’m saying this having tried these particular kinds of teas for the first time. So who knows, I could turn out to be utterly apathetic to nilgiri and ceylon in general.

This one’s not bad. At first, it was disappointing because it was too straightforward green flavored. Tonight, I’m kind of okay with that.

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Our stores are now creating little micro-sites where you can go to a website for each individual location and see stuff like the employees (including pics, bios, and stuff), events scheduled in the store, etc. It’s a little daunting because I don’t want people looking at my page and assuming I’m THE EXPERT OF ALL THINGS TRUMPET, but I’m having a lot of fun working on it. Man, I miss playing trumpet…

I’ve been drinking this the past couple of days, mostly because it’s the only black tea I now own that isn’t earl grey (which, with Teavana’s version, I have to be in the right mood for), Irish breakfast (which is nice, but not something I want every single day), or pu erh poe (which still smells and tastes like FIIIIIIIISH!) The fact that I’m still not in love with this tea is beside the point. I wanted some time to sit down with this tea, dump music into my iTunes library, and work on whatever non-stressful project I wanted to at that time. Mmm, tea moments!

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If bai mu dan is my gentle “calm down” tea, this is my “you are going to calm the f*** down” tea. It’s gentle, but it’s less subtle.

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The name’s Holly. 27. Work for a small IT company. About to finish a Master’s degree this winter. ISFJ for what it’s worth. I play various instruments (mostly bass guitar right now), attempt to write songs that I’m too scared to play for anyone, and I’m currently taking voice lessons. I also enjoy starting various hobbies, wearing monochromes, writing, cooking, taking walks, and various and sundry other things…

I’ve been a tea drinker since spring of 2013. Tea is a source of happiness, positivity, curiosity, and relaxation (…and caffeine) for me.

I’ve been on and off this site over the years, and I even had a separate tea blog at one point. For now, I’m just working on getting back in the habit of enjoying tea regularly and to its fullest.

Love: Malty Chinese black teas, shu/ripe pu erhs, soft flowery teas (esp. jasmine teas)

Like: Japanese green teas, sheng/ripe pu erhs, white teas

Still trying to get into: Most oolongs, chai teas

Not crazy about: Roasty teas, fruity teas, rooibos, many (not all) herbal teas

90-100: YEAH!
80-89: Nice! This is good stuff.
70-79: Respectable tea.
60-69: Not bad.
50-59: Middling. Not really worth it.
25-49: Eeeeeugh. Not good.
0-24: Did you know you can use tea leaves as odor absorbent?



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