226 Tasting Notes


Supposedly, this tea is a Keemun. If so, it is decidedly a weird one. Dawn is very smooth and not at all overpowering as many Keemuns tend to be.

On the positive side, it has an absolutely lovely, intoxicating dry leaf smell of honey , meadow and flowers. The tea itself is smooth and rather subtle, with the key notes of malt, honey, metallic sourness and sea. It did not reveal much variation while going through gongfu steeps. though. Unexpectedly, it was better warm then hot: the high temperature overwhelms its subtle nuances.

Another positive – a looong, pleasantly puckering aftertaste.

Overall, Dawn has some really strong sides and some pretty underwhelming. I feel that I need to recalibrate my palate a bit to appreciate as I am accustomed to more assertive Keemuns.

Flavors: Berries, Honey, Malt, Metallic, Seaweed

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This is a tea with a few reviews scattered throughout Steepster among the separate entries for each harvest so there is no critical mass in one place. So I created a harvest-neutral entry that, hopefully, will over time acquire enough reviews to provide useful guidance to those contemplating ordering it.

It is a gentle and delicate black tea. The aromas are vaguely floral and the taste is malty, a bit astringent and sweet: grapes, sugarcane, lime, rose petals. It is quite a unique taste and more delicate than many other purple teas I have tried. I mostly drink it Western but it also steeps well gongfu: when prepared that way it comes out somewhat along the lines of light, floral Taiwan oolongs.

Flavors: Grapes, Lime, Malt, Rose, Sugarcane

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The black teas from Japan could be weird but the same weirdness can make them unique and appealing (to some people – as there is no worldwide clamoring for them unlike for blacks from China or India).

This tea is less unusual then many Japan blacks I have tried: a lot of malt, some saltiness and a hint of mint. There is also a presence of an alien kind of sweetness, reminiscent of artificial sweeteners. IMHO, the best use case for this tea is to work as a bracing breakfast drink for those who prefer to have salty and savory notes on the malty backbone rather than variations of sweetness.

P.S. The astringent malt REAAAALLY lingers after you long finished your cup.

Flavors: Malt, Medicinal, Mineral, Mint, Salty, Sweet

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Long wiry leaves. The aroma and taste of tangerine, orange, orange peel, minerals – as advertised. The flavors are mild and it did not re-steep well for me.

This tea is a nice change-of-pace specimen rather than something I am yearning to drink specifically. I keep it in my cupboard mainly for the variety purposes.

Flavors: Citrus, Mineral, Orange, Orange Zest, Tangy

Martin Bednář

This sounds so good!


ooh, yum. I also like to keep a dancong on hand for the sake of variety but ran out a while ago, this might have to be my next purchase!

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This is a lovely Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong. It is good both Western style (where it comes out honey-sweet with a backbone of malt and grass) and gong fu (where it gives you at least 4-5 distinctly tasting steeps). Prepared gong fu it evolves through honey/caramel/flowers to herbs/spices/vegetal and then to vegetal/malty.

Overall, it is way less malty and baked potato-y then a typical unsmoked lapsang. The aroma is decent and the flavors are pure and well-defined.

Flavors: Caramel, Grass, Herbs, Honey, Malt, Marine, Melon, Mineral, Mint, Spices, Tree Fruit, Vegetal

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That was a bummer. The dry leaf smell was nice – sweet and berry-like – but the taste was simply not there. It was like desperately trying to see the details by staring in the dark window of an abandon house, festooned with grime and cobwebs. I could discern some malt, berries, chocolate and undefined sweetness – but it was so barely-there and muted…. And that was for the first steep, with the second steep being simply undrinkable.

Most likely, it is simply a tea that is old and was stored carelessly. Which is a bummer since I do like lapsangs and was looking forward to trying this one.

Flavors: Berries, Caramel, Chocolate, Malt

Mastress Alita

My local coffee haunt sources a small selection from TeaSource, and recently got this one. I was excited since I love unsmoked Lapsang Souchong (and can’t stand the smoked stuff!) I, too, was completely underwhelmed. I actually wondered if it even was an unsmoked lapsang because it didn’t really taste anything like others I’ve had…


I was unimpressed with China tea offerings by TeaSource overall: they were not bad but quite unremarkable. I always want to give American regional tea companies a chance… but they almost never measure up to the vendors operating directly from China, Taiwan, Japan etc. in quality and the breadth of choices.

Of course, TeaSource are more known for their blends, which are not my main focus of interest. So, maybe it was not meant to be for us from the beginning.

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drank Golden Buddha by TeaSource
226 tasting notes

This is a sunny, carefree tea. Bread and fruity sweetness. It is not complex but so yummy and charming. It has no astringency but enough of the malty backbone to keep it from becoming cloying… also a mild pleasant aftertaste of baked bread. This tea is very forgiving regarding the steeping times and the water temperature.

It is a golden retriever of teas, always ready to cheer up with unadulterated happiness.

Flavors: Bread, Stonefruit

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I will echo the previous review by azgryl that was very much on point. It is a pretty tea with an aroma of Darjeeling. The taste is mild, with malt, mint, flowers and muscatel predominating. Ir has a nice long aftertaste and re-steeps very well.

Overall, it is a very solid tea that lacks complexity or uniqueness. I got it as a sample and will not consider buying it due to its high cost ($0.60-0.70 per gram). At that price range significantly more interesting teas could be had. However, if one has a predisposition toward Darjeeling-type teas and no monetary constraints this tea would be a good choice.

Flavors: Flowers, Malt, Mint, Muscatel

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drank The Mad Hatter's Tea by 52teas
226 tasting notes

It is a very-very well balanced tea: bergamot, ginger, and lemon complement each other very well. But it also a very forgettable and unremarkable drink and I do not know why. Maybe the tea base should be more defined and assertive, or maybe it was designed to be taken with milk and sugar (and I always drink my tea straight).

In any case, despite the obvious skill and thought that went into creating this blend it did not click with me.

Flavors: Bergamot, Ginger, Lemon

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This tea has a typical profile for Japan blacks: grass, seafood, bark, tree-sap astringency, and a hint of sweetness. Overall, it is mild and smooth, with equally mild but lasting aftertaste.

There is nothing wrong about this tea but also nothing really impressive.

Flavors: Bark, Grass, Sap, Seaweed

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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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