78 Tasting Notes


It is a typical Yunnan. Pleasant, sweet, no astringency. It smells of malt, baked bread, sweet potato and dark berries. The taste is consistently pleasant but there is no wow factor or anything unique. In addition to malt, baked bread, sweet potato, and blackberry it also has notes of baked apple, caramel and raspberry.

All of these components blend together well creating a unified taste without any differences in the second taste, aftertaste etc. The problem is it loses its complexity fast when you have it Western style as I did: there was still some baked bread and pleasant caramel sweetness but a lot of the previous undertones disappeared and some gooseberry-like sourness surfaced. That made for a very muted and way less interesting second cup. So if you are to brew it Western style you better add a lot of water and wait a bit longer to produce e a lot of tea from the first steeping.

You cant go wrong with this one but I did not find anything remarkable that would make me want to reorder.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Blackberry, Candied Apple, Caramel, Malt, Raspberry, Sweet Potatoes

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This is the tea that confused the heck out of me. The 2018 harvest. It is showy: long twisted black leaves that smell of malt, dark chocolate, smoke and dark berries. Very few golden tips.

I just threw about 3 grams in a teapot and did it Western style, steeping for 30 seconds. Since I have been having a lot of tippy Yunnans lately I somehow expected some variation of a typical Dianhonh and it was nothing like that. First it hits you with a maltiness that is quite Keemun-like, which is quickly and completely replaced by a lingering beguiling sweet floral / berry aftertaste that reminded me of Wild Lapsang Souchong. Quite complex, actually. I was confused but liked it.

Then I made the second cup. It smelled very strongly of ash (?) and chocolate and had a completely different, unified taste of complex and pleasant honeyed sweetness. Totally different from the first cup. Oh, and it also had a noticeable minty undertone- so convincing that I had to physically change my cup to make sure that I had not accidentally poured it in a cup from which one of my kids had just drunk mint tea or something. Now I felt that this tea was just messing with me!

Finally, with some apprehension I added the water for my third cup . This time I let it sit for 3 minutes to get all it out. Now the tea smelled of cocoalte and baked bread and, despite the dark color, still tasted rather subdued. You could still discern some notes of malt and mint but now chocolate, cherry and wood predominated – with a lingering aftertaste of mint.

What kind of wizardry is that?! I am certainly going to gong fu this ever-changing tea to death tomorrow. I don’t know how to rate it: the taste and aroma are not strong (which I usually strongly prefer) but it are pleasant, always unexpected and sometimes baffling. The whole experience was almost like some tea-induced tripping.

Flavors: Ash, Black Currant, Blackberry, Cherry, Dark Chocolate, Flowers, Honey, Malt, Mint, Wood

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First of the batch of new harvest teas I got from Yunnan Sourcing. The dry leaves look good as they should for Golden Monkey: long twisted leafs with at least a third of golden tips. The smell is not that good though: I expected it to be very sweet and intoxicating but it instead got a smell of old dry leaves, spices and some sourness.

I brewed it western style and got rather mixed results. I put about three grams per a large coffee mug (drinking at work) and first let it sit for 50 seconds. It turned out to be pleasantly malty and sweet but it felt that the taste was a bit lacking and not intense enough. So I brought the infuser back in the mug for another 20-25 seconds and it was too much: the sweetness turned into slight sourness.

All in all, it is a pleasant tea but not very intense and captivating. and finicky about the steeping times. I will try it gong fu but I am not holding my breath. It is not a bad tea but there are certainly better Golden Monkeys on the market: the one from Teavivre, for example.

This, unfortunately, became my all-too-common experience with Yunnan Sourcing: their standard and, often, premium teas are all solid and pleasant but rarely wow you. To get to really impressive teas one needs to move up all the way to the Imperial grade and it will cost you. Don’t get me wrong, the selection of teas at Yunnan Sourcing is almost overwhelming but I was able to find outstanding teas in the non-premium category of other online Chinese tea vendors way more more frequently.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Malt, Maple, Spices, Sweet Potatoes


I find that with YS, i often prefer the regular grade vs the imperial grade, so that’s a win for me haha


Thanks for the recommendation. I’ve been ordering the standard grade of Golden Monkey and last year’s harvest wasn’t as good as I’ve had in the past. Think I’ll upgrade to Imperial grade when I reorder this year.

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It was the Autumn 2017 harvest. The tea is intensely green and vegetal and works very well in a gaiwan. A VERY good and complex first steeping followed by several decent ones. The western-style brewing produces a solid drink as well, although less complex. Asparagus, broccoli, butter, pepper, grass, mushrooms. Tulips and chrysanthemums on the nose.

This tea is showing a certain familial likeness with other green Anxi oolongs from Yunnan Sourcing like Hairy Crab and Ben Shan. If you liked this TGY (and I did) you will certainly like them as well. Overall, it is a very solid Tie Guan Yin but does not knock you off your feet. A good – and affordable- daily drinker.

Flavors: Asparagus, Black Pepper, Broccoli, Butter, Mushrooms, Vegetal

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It looks good and smells good, like a Dian Hong should. The taste is nothing remarkable though: some malt, some cherry, some sweetness. Kinda reminds me Yunnan Gongfu Fragrant Black from Teavivre but waaay less interesting and lower quality. Nothing remarkable at all and what it does have declines rapidly over the subsequent steeping replaced by off-putting astringency.

One of the rare teas that I am surprised why does Yunnan Sourcing offer them: their other teas are so much better. Not going to buy it again for sure.

Flavors: Cherry, Malt, Sweet

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This tea (the Spring 2018 version) steadily grew on me over the course of finishing a 50 g. It has a luxurious smell and appearance while dry: tight golden and black curls redolent with malt, sweet potato and carrots – and a heavy dusting of magical golden dust everywhere, which I LOVE.
The taste is strong, fairly complex and instantly recognizable: dark chocolate, malt, sweet potato, floral, flowers and some sweetness. It does well with gong fu and Western brewing, but goes downhill rapidly with subsequent steepings.

Not for the folks who prefer understated teas and love to tease out multiple flavors out of them playing with the steeping conditions. This tea is ideal for drinkers who are into puers, roasted oolongs, Keemuns and other bold teas.

Flavors: Caramel, Carrot, Dark Chocolate, Flowers, Grass, Malt, Sweet Potatoes

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After trying this tea in a gaiwan I decided to do the western brewing and steeped the heck out of it. I used out 3 grams and let it sit in the amount of water equivalent to a large coffee mug for 3-4 minutes. It produced a very lightly-colored yellow-green brew with a pleasant strong taste: grass, tulips, peaches, and a lot of naphtalene mothballs – but in a good way.
By the way, “but in a good way” became my perennial copout for an usual but pleasant taste… although my wife keeps making fun of me every time I use it after I described one of the raw puers to her as “It tastes like throw up – but in a good way”.

In any case, this tea is very forgiving to a long Western-type brewing, and while not as complex as doing it gong fu style it produces a lot of tea with intense pleasant smell and taste ( I got three steepings out of it for 3-4 large coffee mugs). A keeper for sure.

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This was a nice ripe puer. I got it A.because I wanted to try something from Menghai and B. because it was quite inexpensive for a 100g cake. The taste is strong and pleasant, with fallen leaves and dry wood. No fishiness, not danky. Nothing too complex or changing over multiple steepings but still consistently pleasant.

It is not a puer for paying-attention-to way of drinking but rather a good tea for absent-minded kind of sipping at work and that how I finished this little cake off in one workweek.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Decayed wood

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 100 OZ / 2957 ML

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My second oolong from Yunnan Sourcing and a very green oolong it is. This tea smells and looks like a lightly oxidized Ti Guan Yin but with a much stronger grassy component. The taste is quite complexand includes spinach, broccoli, grass, rubber, spices, grass, butter, something floral… And naphtalene mothballs… but in a good way.

This tea goes the distance and lasts for multiple steepings (at least 5-6) without losing much of complexity or becoming bitter. I started with a 20 sec. infusion but it was to short of a time so I transitioned to 25-35 secs afterwards.

All in all, it is a very tasty and fairly complex tea that is suited well for gong fu, which is quite typical for oolongs. It is inexpensive, distinct enough from a green Ti Guan Yin offered by Yunnan Sourcing, which makes it a good buy worthy of a reorder.

Flavors: Broccoli, Butter, Floral, Grass, Spices, Spinach

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 100 OZ / 2957 ML

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It was my first purple puer. The cake was not particularly tightly pressed but still required patience and my newly purchased puer needle to separate without turning half of it it into dust. The leaves are large and appear to be black but steeping reveals them to be mostly green.

I have not had much of luck with my puers so far: I stick to cheap products and in that range raw puer is barely drinkable and ripe ones are pleasant but rather lack in complexity. And this purple puer turned out to be a very pleasant surprise in that respect. First, its taste and aroma are decidedly different from other puers I tried. I did the short steepings (10-12 seconds), which produced an interesting mix of lingonberries, red currant, cranberries, black currant leaves and the overripe blackberries that were sitting in the hot sun for a bit. And some honeyed sweetness. The aroma is very intense and consists of the same components.

I got no less than 7-8 good steepings out of it. As usual, only the first couple of them were remarkably complex , but the next 5-6 steepings were very pleasant nevertheless, with the cranberry/lingonberry sourness coming to the fore in the steepings 3-5 , while last steepings were full of calming sweetness. All in all, it is a very interesting tea that gives you a very different taste depending on the duration and number of steepings, which gives ample space for exploration and experimentation. Every time I drink it I pick up something new., it is never boring and repetitive.

Flavors: Black Currant, Blackberry, Cherry, Cranberry, Honey

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 tsp 100 OZ / 2957 ML

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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.



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