194 Tasting Notes


I had very high expectations for this one based on the ratings by others. It does look gorgeous: wiry and multicolored. And it does taste great: malty sweetness. But when you drink it it feels weird. It has a strong backbone similar to keemuns but it adds to it the sweetness of blackberries, overripe black cherries and mangoes – and it does not blend that well. Maybe because I like keemuns so much …but this tea just comes to me as a worse option for a robust cup of tea.

In the subsequent steepings the taste of berries becomes way less intense but that results in the loss of its most memorable quality. It could be good for someone else but I will stick with my keemuns.

Flavors: Blackberry, Malt, Mango, Overripe Cherries

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I am just getting into puerhs, trying to understand all the hype. This one really helps to do it. I had a sample(25 g) and looked terrific: like a multilayered old piece of something from the strange, ancient forest. When you steep it it does not give you much of smell but the taste is pretty complex and cool. There is mineral, coffee, pleasant sourness and a lot spices. These spices predominate in a long, evolving aftertaste.

Also, if you steep it for 3-4 minutes the brew comes out very dark and tastes remarkably like coffee.

All in all, a pretty good experience that holds through multiple resteeps. I am not sure if I get more of this one – need to try more puerhs to figure out if this one is that unique – but you cannot go wrong with Brown Sugar.

(later addition) I started to steep for 2 minitues instead of 30-45 seconds and the taste profile changed completely: typical puerh earthiness and rotten wood came in force and became main notes. It was not bad but quite different. Note to yourself: this rea produces completely different taste profiles depending on the steeping time (which is not bad at all you can get multiple teas for the price of one).

Flavors: Coffee, Earth, Mineral, Pleasantly Sour, Spices

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I like Teavivre. All of their teas I have tried so far are good and reasonably priced. And now there is this Osmanthus Oolong, the first tea from Teavivre that is different and not in a good way.

I liked the name, Osmanthus, which sounded very exotic and promising. When I tried the first steep I was surprised by the taste: it’s like half of it a typical Ti Guan Yin and another half some fruity-flowery component. And these two halves did not blend well. In the subsequent steeps this initial composition disappeared, with Ti Guan Yin taking almost all of the available space. In the steep 4 the offputting sourness appeared: i.e., this tea does not resteep well.

Al in all, the first steep is not bad and kind a unique but overall for me it was a disappointment. Will not order again.

Flavors: Butter, Flowers, Fruity, Umami

5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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drank Paris by Harney & Sons
194 tasting notes

I got this tea as an inexpensive everyday mindless drinker (to save the money for pricier teas for special moods) and it delivered. The smell is pleasant, rather complex and muted, not in-your-face how it often happens with many flavored blends.

The taste is robust, i.e. you can drink it with all kinds of foods and sweets and it does not get lost. It kind of hard to describe since all of the blend’s components come together so nicely. Sometimes it seems to me that I am drinking the pure perfume, which does feels a bit weird. In general, it’s better not to dwell on the taste trying to deconstruct it. In any case, it feels different at different times, concentrations and steeps.

The overall impression is of a relaxing, optimistic amusement. The closest tea that produced the similar feeling for me was lychee tea. I like Paris, and while not the greatest tea, it certainly has a place. Looking forward to try other blends by Harney & Sons: Florence and Catherine the Great.

Flavors: Caramel, Vanilla

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Wow. I got it as a free sample and it was quite an experience. The tea looks stunning dry and smell incredibly sweet and complex. The complexity persists in taste. There are so many different components that all blend so nicely: wild honey, caramel, rose, graham crackers, flowers and many, many other things. Every time you take a sip you pick up on something new.

And yeah, it has a long, sweet aftertaste. This tea is just such a show stopper on so many levels. It is a poster child for why you need to drink tea without milk, sugar or any other additives. And it priced very reasonably for all it gives. I am ordering it now.

Flavors: Caramel, Flowers, Graham Cracker, Honey, Rose

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What an interesting tea. I got it as a free sample from Teavivre. It cannot be farther away from the smoked version. The dry leaf has an intense sweet smell of blackberry, raspberry and malt. After steeping it for 45 secs in a gaiwan it developed a nice amber color and an incredibly sweet taste of forest berries, malt, spices and honey. Both the taste and the smell are quite complex, well balanced, and powerful.

I do not remember having anything like that before. It is probably the sweetest tea I ever tasted, with the long spicy and bitter aftertaste. This tea grabs your attention from the very beginning – as soon as you put it in a Cha He – and keeps it well after you finished the cup. It is a great tea to have a conversation over, as well as being a “lift me up” cuppa.

With the repeated infusions (starting with the 4th) the taste profile becomes simpler and less balanced: bread, biscuit and malt come forward, while berries and honey disappear. It also becomes sourish. So, you can get 3-4 good steeps and that’s that but those steeps are totally worth it.

I will most certainly order it again and put it into a heavy rotation. This is the tea that you offer to your Lipton teabag friends to demonstrate what they are missing, to recruit and convert.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Black Currant, Blackberry, Honey, Malt, Raspberry, Spices

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 45 sec 4 g 100 OZ / 2957 ML

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Well, the smell is good, very good actually. The appearance is promising too: it looks like a typical rock oolong with coal-black fat leaves. But the smell what is the best about this tea: very intense, malty, baked bread with the strong notes of rose and sweet fruit like apricots. And all of these fragrances blend together extremely well. It feels good just to savor the smell: it is so uplifting and comforting. This tea is a pick-me-up-when-I’m-down kind for me.

That is another way to say that the taste is not nearly that remarkable: the pale yellow-orange liquid has as the main component maltiness, mineral and some lingering rather sophisticated bitterness. It is the kind of tea that you have stop whatever you are doing and pay your full and undivided attention to get all the nuances besides the maltiness , which makes it a tea for special moods: quite contemplation, wakefulness, introspection.

A good tea but not for everyone and not for every day.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Bitter, Malt, Mineral, Rose

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This tea has a great appearance with a superabundance of long, curly golden tips. The aroma is strong even in the dry leaf. The wet leaf has a very unique smell that so far I encountered for the first time: a strong fragrance of ripe dark berries (blackberry, black currant) and overripe dark cherry…maybe, some kiwi in the mix also. The aroma is very strong and pleasant aroma despite not having many undertones to it.

The taste follows the smell: you almost have to double check that there is no berries smuggled in your cup. The aftertaste consists of the same dark berries, it is lingering and verrrry pleasant. If you steep it in a gaiwan for 30-45 secs it is a medium-bodied tea, if you increase to 1.30-1.45 a more typical foundation of caffeine and tannin emerges (similar to keemuns).

Oh, and it also fantastic cold, and I suppose as iced tea. Must come as a flavor-loaded bomb on the hot summer day. Inj a good way, you now.

All in all, it is a very good, unique tea. I will keep it in my collection for specific moods.

P.S. I logged in again after having a second cup and with shaking hands, I am upping its rating to the highest among the teas I have reviewed so far. Oh my…

Flavors: Black Currant, Blackberry, Overripe Cherries

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drank Decaf Ceylon by Harney & Sons
194 tasting notes

i got it thrown in my order as a freebie. it was a tea sachet which was a bit weird since my order consisted of loose teas only. Well, maybe they do not have any free samples of loose tea. Still strange.

I peeked at the sachet and smelled and it was not very encouraging: no discernible fragrance and inside the sachet a half of the content was tea dust, simple and pure… And the other half some tiny abused pieces of I don’t no what…leafs? stems?

Anyway, I threw it in the mug, filled it up and waited for 2 minutes. Well, no aroma appeared and the taste was so generic, flat and forgettable. Right in the area of a typical supermarket teabagged offerings. Which was a shame because the packaging was nice, the sachet looked good enough and I really, really wanted to find a decaff Ceylon for a mindless casual drinking (and to save my caffeine daily quota for better teas).

It was kinda of a disappointment, sorry. I will certainly never buy it again, loose or bagged.

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This tea is very fragrant, especially during the first two steepings. The aroma of tropical fruit, lychee, flowers, peaches. The color is very satisfying: deep amber.

The taste is quite mild and largely follows the nose. I somehow expected a bolder taste. Make sure not oversteep it since it acquires the rougher bitterness that crowds out milder floral notes. In the third steeping and later the floral notes are largely replaced with apricot, honey, and almond.

It is a very forgiving tea and comes out well in a gaiwan, grandpa style or the typical western method. I came to like it as a daily drinker because what eslse do you need for that but a tea that fragrant, good tasting, not harsh and goes well with almost any kind of mood? It has been growing on me steadily.

I will add it to the beloved keemun hao ya as my daily staple. It has the same robustness and is perfect as a morning tea. Will certainly order again.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Flowers, Fruity, Honey, Lychee, Peach

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 45 sec 3 g 2 OZ / 70 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.

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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