226 Tasting Notes


This is a very grassy and floral Tie Guan Yin. There isn’t much of buttery and cooked green leafy vegetable notes, but plenty of lilac and violets.: very clean and refreshing. It has a strong lilac and white lily aroma, re-steeps well (that is when SOME buttery notes do creep in) and has a nice lasting aftertaste.

All in all, it is a very good representative of the grassy TGYs. Bonus points for being quite affordable. The only thing that keeps it from being amazing is that it does not have that vast, never-ending complexity of the very top teas.

Flavors: Flowers, Grass, Violet

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This is a relatively new addition to Teavivre black teas that did not impress neither the members of the Steepster community nor the reviewers on the Teavivre site. And I can see why: this is a smooth, understated tea without any single flavor or aroma jumping forward and grabbing your attention. The main taste components are malt, cherry, hay and gentle sweetness. It has a mild sweet and flowery aroma and does not re-steep well.

However, I think that this tea is good in its own right: I sometimes want a simple pleasant and smooth tea that is sweet and soothing. It is well-balanced and while not super-complex is good as a drink to sip while working or as a desert tea.

Flavors: Cherry, Hay, Malt, Sweet

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This is a very common mass-produced puerh. I tried , I think, the 2012 pressing before and it was quite smooth and pleasing. This pressing is quite young and it shows with a noticeable fermentation smell. The taste is familiar: smooth, slight decay, vegetables, sweetness and just trace notes of bitterness. It’s not very complex, and no long tail present.

This puerh will undoubtedly improve with age, lose its fishy smell and add some complexity. But it is quite palatable right now for those who want a smooth, warming shou that is very tolerant of over-steeping.

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This is a very basic pu-erh: wood, decay, a bit sour, a bit sweet. No complexity and the flavors do not blend well. I can’t find anything outright bad, but also nothing good or just memorable. Also, I failed to see any signs that it will get better with time. Well, at least it lacks any fishiness.

There are many inexpensive shous that are more interesting and enjoyable. I still have an almost entire cake of it left and it will probably be a slog to finish.

Flavors: Decayed Wood, Sour, Sweet, Wood


Have you tried cold steeping in the fridge, unsweetened? Cold shu is one of the most refreshing things to me in hot summer! It would be a great way to deplete your stock quickly.


Thank you for the suggestions. Unfortunately, I cannot drink tea in any other form but hot: not warm, not cold. But this shou is drinkable just utterly unenjoyable for me.The lesson is to always get a sample before committing to a cake.
I will try experimenting in mixing this tea with whatever I have on hand in terms of spices to create a puerh version of the Indian chai.


Let us know what you find out from the experiment :)
I’ve been meaning to try to make “shou masala”, but still haven’t gotten around doing that.


This one is really young. I would let it air out and try in another year. You may be able to put some budget sheng with it and make a mix of the two.

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It is part of the five pounds of pu-erh that I ordered to get me through the virus-forced extended working-from-home period.

The reviews by HaChaChaCha and Rich are on point:

- a clean, powerful taste without any funk or bitterness
- thick and viscous, with a strong cha qi
- main flavors are wood and chocolate, with some undertones of barnyard and berries
- not responsive to differences in the brewing time
- not a lot of complexity.

Now, it is well-packed, but not excessively: it could be broken with a knife fairly easy and without dust. This is a no-fuss shou with punch and character that could be enjoyed on a budget. Good stuff.

Flavors: Bark, Barnyard, Berries, Chocolate, Wood


Love how they press the factory symbol in these things as well.

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I am a sucker for shou/citrus mixes, so the bias is here but I think that it is not just a pleasant tea but is also a stand-out in its class.

The pu-erh is solid: mild, smooth, no fishiness. The citrus certainly plays the leading role, though with clear notes of tar, pine needles and citrus zest. Some sweet maltiness in the background rounds it out.

Overall, it’s bracing, fresh and energizing, with a looong tarry aftertaste. This shou can stand to multiple steepings but could be fairly easily over-steeped.

Those who enjoy mild and the ever-changing complexity may find this tea too simplistic and overbearing, but I appreciate boldness and, unsurprisingly, liked this tea quite a bit.

Flavors: Citrus Zest, Earth, Malt, Pine, Sweet, Tar

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This is supposedly a rare tea cultivar, plus it is an aged Japan black, which is also not very common.

As is always with tea from Japan it is broken up into pretty small pieces. The wet leaf smells strongly of leafy greens, sea, sourness and umami. The taste largely follows the nose. Sourness, medicinal herbs, seafood, soy. Pretty smooth and understated.

This is pretty far from a regular tea territory flavor-wise, bordering on medicinal herbal concoctions or traditional Asian food. I was not a big fun, to be honest.

Flavors: Medicinal, Seaweed, Sour, Soy Sauce, Spinach

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Interesting look: large curly leaves, prominent stalks.
Intriguing aroma: both dry – stone fruits, fallen leaves, smoke – and wet – mineral, resin, pine smoke.
Enjoyable taste: mineral, spice, smoke, camphor, tobacco, dark honeyed sweetness.
Also, it resteeps well and leaves a pleasant lingering aftertaste.
This is a very smooth roasted oolong that is cheerful, dependable, and lacks any obvious flaws or imbalances. Taiwan oolongs are rarely leave me excited due to their subtlety but I really liked this one.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Camphor, Mineral, Pine, Resin, Smoke, Spicy, Stonefruit, Sweet, Tobacco

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I found Ariel’s review of this tea pretty much on the mark. It does start off pretty bad: I prepared it gongfu and first several steeps were very astringent, metallic and mineral. There was also a lot of apricot but, regrettably, the unripe kind. And not much of an aroma.

By the 5th-6th steep this tea underwent a pleasant transformation. First, it acquired an agreeable aroma of wood, fallen leaves and fallen needles. Second, the apricot ripened, the metallic astringency turned into cranberry and all of that was balanced by honey and floral sweetness.

Unfortunately, all of that lasted only a couple of infusions, after which the tea rapidly gave up. The last steepings were rather undefined, with strong notes of pine and citrus.

Overall – meh. Too much work for a couple of decent steeps. On the other hand, it does have a character.

Flavors: Apricot, Citrus, Cranberry, Floral, Honey, Metallic, Mineral, Pine

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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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