91 Tasting Notes


A friend brought this back for me as a thank-you gift for watching her cats while she was on a brief trip. I’ve been saving it for months, just waiting for the right opportunity to indulge in such a unique tea. While I had entertained the idea of sharing it with the gift-giver, she has officially just moved out of state and I realized, as I was setting up my tea tray and accoutrements, that this was the perfect time to try it.

It came in a well-sealed package which, upon opening, let out a very sweet mandarin aroma. When I say it’s sweet, I mean it practically smells like it was candied or something.

I unwrapped the mandarin and was a little surprised to see it so brown. I knew the peel was dried, but for some reason, it just didn’t occur to me that it wouldn’t be a vibrant orange. The tea itself was loosely packed inside the peel and tumbled easily from its container into the gaiwan.

With a quick rinse, it was ready to be attempted.

The first infusion was for about 45 seconds as I got a nice picture in the process. The liquor was a beautiful amber and the mandarin sweetness was much milder overall. The flavor, however, just wasn’t doing it for me. It tasted almost a bit musty and the after-taste lingered unpleasantly.

As one does, I powered through to my second infusion. With a shorter infusion time (closer to 25 seconds), I achieved a similar shade of amber with a much pleasanter flavor. The odd flavors from the first infusion had mellowed and left the tea with a lightly smoky tendency and just an edge of the mandarin sweetness as an after-thought.

Finally (for this note), onto the third infusion. I was slightly distracted during this infusion period by the antics of my roommate’s cat, who was in the throes of her “morning crazies,” as we like to call it. So the infusion time lasted a bit longer than planned (nearly a minute).

By this point, the distinctive mandarin aroma is starting to noticeably fade. Interestingly enough, I find it’s a welcome change. While it wasn’t bad, it also wasn’t really making a super great impression on my senses. The flavor is still there, guiding the earthy pu-erh flavor to a smooth completion.

Overall, this is a pretty decent tea and definitely fun to explore the packaging. But honestly, it just isn’t entirely my cup of tea. It ended fine enough, but didn’t really pull me through with much desire. I’ll probably break it out occasionally when someone is looking for something more exotic or “out-there” in style.

190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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drank Ya Bao by Unknown
91 tasting notes

I drink this ya bao probably once a week in the office. It’s light, refreshing, and simply delicious! In the office, we’re limited on our hot water resource, so I put a little cold water in with the leaves first, then fill my teapot the rest of the way with hot so that it steeps at approximately the right temperature.

Added benefit: It’s just the right temperature to drink immediately!

Every sip of this tea makes me smile and gives me happy little caffeine jitters.

170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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I won this tea (along with a few others) in a contest the company ran on their Facebook account last year. I’ve been trying them each periodically, but this is my first time writing up a Steepster review for them.

The dry leaf has a very light and somewhat overly sweet aroma. The Bai Mu Dan itself, is large and full-leafed and remains surprisingly intact after being blended with the other flavors.

I brewed this tea in my tea pooper for convenience and the moment the water hit the leaves, the sweetness of the tea became more mild and far less overpowering for me.

Once the tea was ready, it was a lovely, light greenish yellow color and smelled like a spring morning. I discovered that I had brewed it a bit too hot, so had to add an ice cube and that’s when the fear of over-steeping came in.

On the contrary, this tea is actually quite good still! In fact, as a tea drinker who prefers non-flavored teas, I was surprised and excited by the flavor. It’s full-bodied for a white, but balanced nicely with the lilting flavors of the guava and marigolds in particular. I think it’s the hint of ginger that makes it pop and all come together into one smooth package.

So yes, I would recommend this tea!

190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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I received a generous sample of this tea from the company for review and I must admit I’m a bit wary to begin with. It’s not that the tea looks or smells poorly in any way, just that the pomegranate aroma is quite sweet. Lately, I’ve been more drawn toward more naturally flavored teas, so I wanted to wait a little until I was more liable to enjoy the tea for what it is.

Upon opening the tin, the aroma was quite sweet and fruity. Though it is not in a sugary way that you sometimes get with flavored teas. So it’s definitely a good start! The appearance of the dry leaves is quite appealing. With little dried bits of pomegranate in the mix, it gives me hope for a very nice, natural flavor. I’ve noticed with some other pomegranate flavored teas that the aroma is more powerful than the actual flavor, so everything so far indicates something I should enjoy.

As suspected, once brewed, the sweet flavors are absolutely muted to a mellowness that is absolutely pleasant. The green tea taste is perhaps muted more than I would prefer, but I definitely am enjoying this tea more than I anticipated when I first popped open the tin.

To come down to it, this is a tea I will happily enjoy on a relaxing morning when I am looking for a light pick-me-up. My next experiment with this tea will be to make it iced and see how that goes. I have a feeling I’ll enjoy it even more like that!

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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The dry tea has a nice, dry, earthy aroma. I like the needle-like leaves, as most of the Yunnan blacks I get my hands on will be rolled in some way.

After a 5 second rinse (which elicited a nice earthy scent), I infused the leaves for around 45 seconds at a time. The liquor is a lovely amber color and the flavor of the first infusion is surprisingly smooth. There is a slight sweetness to the tea that I was not anticipating and I can’t quite put my finger on what it reminds me of. Maybe it’s like the sweetness you experience when eating pumpkin or certain kinds of squash.

The second infusion has lost the mellowness and is giving a bit more astringency, which I find fun. Overall, it’s not bitter or anything, but a very nice tea to drink and enjoy.

190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 45 sec

Glad you’re back!

Dinah Saur

Thanks, Scott! I never stop drinking tea, I just sometimes don’t have the time or thought process to write it up here. Failure! :P


I’ve been busy lately too-but NENVER too busy for tea. :))

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Just want to start this off with thanks to Fusion Tea Room for this sample!

I’ve been away from Steepster for a little while, and it’s because life has been busy! I’m still posting regularly on my blog and have a special treat for readers today (or early tomorrow, depending on some things), but I’ve also been out and about, enjoying my life a lot.

In any case, while I’ve tried Mate a couple of times and it’s alright each time, I always planned to taste the samples from Fusion Tea Room, but I wasn’t writing about Mate just yet, so I kept putting it off. Well, recently at work, our Media Team has been working on a recruiting video and one of the people interviewed talked about how he doesn’t drink coffee, but only Mate (“which has every nutrient your body could need,” according to him). After hearing that line repeated indefinitely as the Media guys edited the video, I got a hankering to try some more of the Mate I’ve got hanging out in the cupboard.

So here goes!

The smell of the dry Mate reminded me of the beginnings of a pumpkin pie, which I think is generally the point. Once brewed, the aroma is pretty powerful and actually caught me off guard at first. It almost is more coffee-like than anything else in the smell, but with the spices that were detected earlier for certain.

The liquor as-is was definitely reminiscent of coffee to me, just without the bitterness. It is hard for me to describe. So I added some sugar (as Mate instructions always seem to include “add sugar and milk to taste”) and it definitely sweetened and was a little nicer. But I remembered how much more I enjoyed the last Mate I drank once I added milk, so I did so here as well.

Once the drink was completed (in my opinion), the creaminess could lend itself to the task of ensuring the right mouth feel/texture to the drink so it really was just like pumpkin pie.

So far, with flavored Mate, I find that I like them best once sugar and milk have been added. We’ll see if this continues to hold true as I explore further!

185 °F / 85 °C 6 min, 30 sec

Welcome back…….and I check your blog occasionally…….you do a good job. :))


you do a great job with your blog!


(must go look)

Dinah Saur

Thanks, Scott and Amy! I’m glad you like it! It’s good to be back on Steepster. I’ve mostly just be drinking repeats of late, but keep wanting to get back over here. :)

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Enjoyed this tea this morning in my yixing-lined travel tea tumbler. I’ve kept it pretty exclusive to use with oolong teas, but this is the first real hearty oolong it’s seen. To begin, I really just love the flavor of tea when it has that yixing addition in general. And this yixing has seen some nice ginseng oolongs, so that was slightly added to the mix, mostly with an after-taste mouth feel.

As ever, this tea is delicious and I’m eager to taste it again in future!

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec

Dinah- it is funny you mention spiciness in Red Robe, because I’ve never noticed it. Now I’m anxious to try. Have I missed the spicy notes all along?

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I received a sample of this in my most recent shipment from Teavivre (Thanks, Angel!). I’m excited to try it out since I love a good pu-erh and I really enjoy chrysanthemum herbal infusions.

I was a little concerned at first since there was precisely one chrysanthemum in the tuo. Then I realized that it’s been in that little wrapped up tuo for quite a long time, so I really haven’t got anything to worry about, now have I?

I’m in the office, so I used my “Perfect Tea Maker” or whatever it’s called from Teavana (a very nice gift from my friend, TheDizzyPixie). The infusion is nice and dark and beautiful to me. It has the earthiness of any pu-erh, but a nice sweetness to the aroma that speaks to the chrysanthemum.

The tea itself is a surprisingly mellow, nice pu-erh with a pleasant, lightly sweet after-taste.

I’m very happy with this and imagine I shall be ordering more in future!

200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 0 sec

This sounds nice. I hope I get a sample or two of puerh with my teavivre order.

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First of all…. getting any of the tea from this past the bamboo leaf wrap in this small case, especially with the intention of putting it all back together since my brother told me this is a young tea, so I want to store it for aging…. DIFFICULT. I made a huge mess just getting at the tea enough to scrape some away.

In any case! The dry leaf had a surprisingly sweet smell to me. It had a minor undertone of caramel that I was not expecting. Don’t be fooled, though… the tea itself does not have this kind of flavor.

The liquor was not quite an amber, not quite a green color, but with a hint of both. It smelled faintly sweet, but not in a way I could pinpoint. After taking my first sip, it was like I was punched in the mouth with the ocean. That first infusion was seriously briny. It reminded me of the time when I was with my brother in China and I ate a sea horse. He asked me what it tasted like and all I could think to say was, “The ocean!” Well, that’s how I felt with this tea. The ocean.

After making my way through the first infusion, I made it to the second. The liquor was a more clear amber color now and it was much mellower. Still vaguely oceany, but not the way that first infusion was.

With the third infusion, I smelled the liquor and it had this nice sweetness to it. With my first sip, I immediately said (out loud to all of the no one with me), “Ah yes… now I’m starting to like this.” By no means has it lost the ocean aspect, but it’s reined the flavor in so it’s just a vegetal, sort of sea weedy flavor, but it’s balanced by a nice, malty note that mellows the whole thing out.

I am definitely looking forward to when this tea has aged more so I can give it another whirl. I’m thinking… once a year? :D

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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I’m your standard nerdy girl in a lot of regards, from my taste in music, books, and movies to my penchant for getting completely wound up in various activities and hobbies. One of my hobbies that never seems to fade away is my joy in writing.

I’ve written a personal blog, a tea blog, and an adventure blog, all of which recently have been brought together to a single location – A Chomp at Life. The Fun and FlirTea section is dedicated to introducing tea to and enticing today’s younger, coffee-drinking generation. It’s a fun place to learn about tea and hopefully start meeting more tea-lovers as well!

More than almost anything else, I enjoy sharing the things I love and helping spread that joy. Now I’m doing this with tea, living life everyday, and adventures – and I couldn’t be more excited!


Chico, CA



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