135 Tasting Notes


I am slowly making my way in the world of Liu Baos. This is a good one. Tightly pressed, with not much of dry flavor besides some herbal pungency. As all hei cha teas, it produces multiple resteeps. The taste is bold and invigorating, with herbal undertones, fermentation, savoriness, bay leaf, some muted pungency and spiciness. It possesses a pronounced pleasant aftertaste.

This is definitely an acquired taste, somewhat similar to raw puerhs but more subdued. I am kinda like young puehrs, but prefer Liu Baos more especially in the cheaper price segment. Raw puerhs are too often fit only a very specific mood for me while this Hei Cha I can enjoy more frequently. Some people would probably say that it’s due to a lack of character… but it works for me: a very defined, unique taste is a blessing only if you are really into that combination.

Flavors: Astringent, Herbaceous, Spices, Wood


I had my first Liu Bao this week. That tea and your review of this one are piquing my interest in the style.

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Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong is one of my favorite type of teas so I opened the bag with teas with quite a bit of anticipation. I was surprised: this tea was different from all other its relatives. The dry leaves smell surprisingly strong of vegetables: sweet potato and carrots. And the taste is a veritable vegetable stew: fried cabbage, roasted carrots, baked sweet potato and, for some reason, grapes. And oh my, it is REALLY sweet: it’s hard to believe there is no added honey or brown sugar in the cup. On the negative side, the aftertaste is minimal and the tea does not resteep well degenerating instead into a vaguely sweet mush of tastes.

I tried to like it but after trying it 3 times I still not into it. I like my Zheng Shan Xiao Zhongs with some structure, bitterness and with a lingering aftertaste and this tea is completely different. But if you are into unbridled sweetness and roasted vegetables this would be a good tea for you.

Flavors: Grapes, Honey, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Vegetables

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One of many Yunnan assamicas that are typically processed into puehrs but Yunnan Sourcing is now offering as regular red teas. Large wiry leafs, fresh floral malty aroma, which is being nicely complimented by a pronounced sweet potato note as a wet leaf. The taste did not appear very complex to me: very sweet, in a honey and flower ways. Plus some chocolate, sweet potato and baked bread. The aftertaste is not particularly remarkable nor strong: some rather generic honey and chocolate.

It is a simple but pleasant tea, “not that there’s anything wrong with that”. The type that you are certain to finish (and enjoy!) but equally certain not to re-order because it does not stand out in any way.

P.S. I feel somewhat intimidated because the template for this tea had been created by eastkyteaguy and he has it in his cupboard…which means that soon he will post here a detailed review that would meticulously document about 20 other aromas and flavors for that tea that I had failed to pick up…but I feel bold today.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Chocolate, Flowers, Honey, Malt, Sweet Potatoes


This amuses me. I’m really not that intimidating. I promise.


Well, it was mostly frustration with myself: there was a certain rather unique aroma that this tea had (besides obvious ones that I managed to discern and describe) and I tried really hard to identify it but failed. Luckily, I know that you will be able to pinpoint it and then it would seem so obvious to me… You are doing a great service to the Steepster community with your incredibly detailed and organized reviews.

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I think it is a new tea offered by Yunnan Sourcing – and one of the cheapest on their website. I had the one picked in October 2018, merely a month before my tasting.

The tea looks, smells and feels good in the bag: huge twisted wiry leaves, very hard and strong. It has an unusual dry aroma of vegetables: carrots, cabbage, raw potatoes…

It steeps well (western style) and fast to a bright red soup. The smell changes somewhat to a smell of vegetable stew with a hint of sweetness. The taste follows the nose: vegetables, a bit of floral sweetness, some sourness and copper, and a long minty and sour aftertaste. The flavors are changing and evolving, and the taste not nearly as rough as I expected based on the size of the leaves and its low price point. This tea re-steeps
fairly well and in the process acquires a pronounced sweetness as if the ever-present carrots had just been roasted.

All-in-all it is a tea with a bit of unusual taste that may grow on the drinker substantially after trying it several times (it surely happened with me before). And I really liked the look and feel of it. Yunnan Sourcing claim that this tea has been grown without pesticides and that it will improve and change flavor with age. I will probably reorder it and store for a year or so to see what happens. I was not swept off my feet by this Assamica but I was certainly intrigued.

Flavors: Carrot, Floral, Metallic, Mint, Pleasantly Sour, Sweet, Vegetable Broth


Actually they had that one last year too. I bought some shorty after they put it on this site spring 2017, wasn’t really a fan when I got it. But I left it alone for a six months or so and the flavor changed a lot. It got nice and smooth, slightly savory but more sweet with a good raisin/dried fruit kind of flavor. Good stuff! Hopefully yours will change over time too


tperez, thank you for the heads up.I will definitely try to age it. This tea did taste promising but somewhat unfinished (as I often feel with young puehr).

It’s strange that it has been offered for at least a year and there was no reviews or even a blank entry on Steepster: does not happen often.


Oh, ok sorry it appears this is not quite the same tea… The one I had is this https://steepster.com/teas/yunnan-sourcing/79718-mengku-wild-arbor-assamica-black-tea-star-spring-2017 Both Mengku assamica blacks and mention “Mr. Duan” in the description, but yours says “Huang Shan Mtn.” and sun dried while mine says “Xiao Hu Sai” and doesn’t specify. I’d be curios to see how they compare

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I got it as a free sample among with several others from AprTea which is really appreciated. Da Hong Paos are probably my favorite oolong so I have high expectations when I meet a new Da Hong and this tea while not wowing me totally met them.

This tea has all of the necessary flavor components: roast, mineral, a touch of bitterness, some grass, and a coda of floral sweetness. A nice and long aftertaste is present. Finally, this Da Hong Pao is very pleasant for enjoying its smell from the cup in front of you: it is strong and balanced.

And this is the strongest quality of this tea: while not especially complex it is very well balanced in both taste and aroma, with all of its components coming seamlessly together. Now about the negatives: not the most complex (which, by the way, it does not pretend to be that since this tea is openly marked as a basic Da Hong Pao), the taste does not last for many infusions with the regrettable astringency appearing fairly soon.

While not likely to become one of the all-time favorites this tea can successfully perform the role of a daily Da Hong Pao for a budget-minded tea drinker.

Flavors: Bitter, Campfire, Floral, Grass, Mineral, Roasted, Sweet

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This was my first Ginseng Oolong so I was curious. There is not much of smell in dry leaf except for some slight grassiness with a touch of pungency. When sipping first you get a quick impression of a roasted oolong with some grassiness again – but it quickly replaced by a powerful medicinal flavor of ginseng that tapers off into an extremely long and somewhat choking licorice-like aftertaste. And I am not a big fan of licorice.

All in all, it is weird drink that is not much of tea but rather some kind of a miracle health potion. I bet this tea was invented primarily because of a Chinese obsession with ginseng and, undoubtedly, is being promoted as curing a thousand of illnesses. I am glad I tried it but not being a fan of herbal folk remedies nor licorice I will not return to this tea again.

Flavors: Grass, Licorice, Medicinal, Roasted


My problem with this tea was tt was too sweet for me but now thinking about it maybe it was the licorice, as I am not good at being able to determine tastes very well. o.O If you ever want to try Ginseng again hehe, maybe try Mandala’s Ginseng. I like that one a lot.


Thank you for the suggestion. I eventually will want to try all of that herbs that are commonly mixed with teas. My problem is that I like the tea first and in many cases in those mixes the tea is simply used as a delivery vehicle for that additional herb and is totally overpowered and suppressed. So far I found only rose petals and snow chrysanthemums that mix well (in moderation!) with red teas and enhance them. But I am always open to trying new things.


You’re very welcome, and I agree with you that tea is often used as a delivery vehicle. I’ve tasted some really bad ones, mainly from the grocery store tea aisle ones that I’ve tried in the past.

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A tightly compressed tuo that has a disheartening tendency to break apart into small particles. the base tea is not one of the best but the lengthy ageing balances it out. In the taste first that you feel is a strong metallic flavor like… copper. Which is immediately replaced by warm grain, aged wood, bamboo and sugarcane sweetness. Somehow it reminded me of the whiskies from the Highlands. With subsequent steepings the sweetness intensifies, while the metallic overture fades away.

An interesting combination of flavors but not very complex.

Flavors: Bamboo, Grain, Metallic, Sugarcane, Sweet, Wood

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I am eternally surprised how Chinese tea growers come up with so many different variations of Tie Guan Yin. And they are all good! Teavivre calls this tea “slightly roasted” but I found the roast to be pretty strong.

The wet leaf aroma is very distinct, intense and immensely pleasing: a campfire in wet woods, moist grass, sea, mineral. And it is not only leaves: the tea itself is quite fragrant. The taste follows the smell: grass, smoke, minerals, some sourness, some sweetness, a touch of bitterness. It blends together very well. After the tea is gone a long smokey, mineral and spicy aftertaste lingers, and lingers, and lingers… Because the aroma and taste are so well-defined and fairly complex this tea is quite evocative and awakens a swarm of memories and associations.

I usually not big on roasted oolongs because the roast often overwhelms the complexity of the tea, but in this Tie Guan Yin it actually brings together all other elements and creates a distinct and entertaining experience.

Flavors: Campfire, Mineral, Roasted, Spicy, Sweet, warm grass

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This little sample came to me packed as King Tut: first it was sealed in plastic, then placed in a vacuumed-sealed and richly decorated copper-colored foil package, which, in its turn, was inside a larger gray-colored foil package. After I finally extracted the tea from all of its layers of protection I had to admit that they worked well and preserved the aroma and flavor quite nicely.

The dry leaves smell of ocean, lilac, orchids and spice – a very distinct smell. That smell is preserved in the wet leaves , accompanied by leafy greens and grass. The mouthfeel is very creamy , while the taste is robust, complex and evolves in your mouth: grass, sweet flowers, seaweed, umami, butter, asparagus, broccoli, spice on the end. It has a long-lasting calming and vibrant aftertaste. This tea is very good Western and well-suited for multiple gaiwan steeps.

Overall, this is a very good, balanced and complex Tie Guan Yin. I had a great experience.

Mastress Alita

Hahaha, King Tut tea!

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It is a very smooth oolong with an understated but pleasant taste. The dry leaf and wet leaf smell is nothing remarkable: faint notes of grass, hay and roast. The appearance is rater interesting with a variety of colors in not-particularly-tightly rolled balls.

The taste is very smooth and understated. Grass, hay, roasted nuts, grain. Not very complex but quite pleasing. It is good Western style, good as gongfu and VERY good cold-brewed. Actually, this is one of the few teas that if you forget your cup and want to finish it later when the tea goes completely cold the drink is still satisfying. It is hard to mess this tea up with even the most inattentive and lazy preparation.

There is nothing wrong with this tea but nothing special either. Personally, I prefer teas with a more pronounced and/or more unique taste.

Flavors: Grain, Grass, Hay, Roasted nuts

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I like to drink teas to recreate a specific mood, or just to take a break at work. The world of tea is so endless, patiently waiting for exploration and rewarding you in many ways big and small.

I am looking forward to years of playing with tea leaves, gaiwans, cups, and YouTube videos.

My ratings:

90 or more – a very good/excellent tea, I can see myself ordering it again.

80-89 – it is a good tea, I enjoyed it but not enough to reorder.

70-79 – an OK, drinkable tea but there are certainly much better options even in the same class/type.

60-69 – this tea has such major flaws that you have to force yourself to finish what you ordered.

<60 – truly horrible teas that must be avoided at all costs.



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