37 Tasting Notes

drank Ben Shan by Verdant Tea
37 tasting notes

Quick note

Really tastes like honeysuckle, a little creamy, but not too overpowering floral.

Flavors: Cream, Floral, Honeysuckle, Vegetal

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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Grabbed a sample, so lets toss it in!

My leaf was mainly black, with only a couple leafs having golden hairs on them. Some people consider that to be an indicator of ‘low quality’ tea, but it also may not be such an indicator. Just something I thought to bring up.

7g, 180mL, 200F with a wash.

Dry Aroma: like other yunnan blacks. A little dark, with mainly burnt fruit notes. A bit of wood as well

Wet aroma: Dark, wet wood, oak, burnt apple, dried fruits, a bit smokey

Colour: A nice whiskey-orange, enters ruby red if you do longer steeps.

So onto the taste profile.

Texture: I’d say in between smooth and rough, and it’s very “coaty”. Really sticks to your mouth everywhere. A bit of astringency at the back of the tongue, but almost none in the throat nor tip of tongue at the first steeps. Afterwards, everything gets drier and drier.

Flavour: Quite smokey actually. Tastes very similar to the aroma: smokey, very slightly woody, but the dried/burnt fruit notes are pretty much hidden. The flavour isn’t complex nor bright, just feels a bit damp and flat.

On later steeps, the flavour is mainly a mild smokeyness with a bit of wet wood and a very very faint hint of dried prune.

If you’re in the mood for a mild smokey black tea, then this is one you might consider. But other than that, I can’t see anything special about it. The more you drink, the drier your mouth. Rather flat taste and doesn’t feel like it has much “life” to it like other teas. Not impressed with this tea, but again it’s decent if you want a mild smokey tea to sip.

Flavors: Burnt, Dried Fruit, Oak wood, Smoke, Wet Wood

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 6 OZ / 180 ML

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Second tea tested in my sample pack!

~3g, 110mL, ~185F. + Wash

Wet leaf aroma: Very fruity and a tad bit smokey. You can definitely smell those peach notes!

Texture: Very smooth but also rather thick. Another reviewer said it has a umami note to it, but for me personally there is no umami notes in this tea. It’s just very smooth and thick, which can seem to be that very “savory” taste that one would associate with umami.

The flavour is rather interesting. Again, very strong peach flavour as well as a perfume flavour on the initial ‘hit’. The aftertaste manifests itself strongly as peach with more fruity notes.

At first I was wondering why someone says this has a celery note, but that would be another way of classifying that initial “perfume” note that you can taste.

Following the first steep, the main flavour body tastes like peach and now like a bit of applesauce as well. What’s neat is the empty cup smell, smells pretty much just like butterscotch… It really almost smells like sugar is really in that cup but it’s empty, it’s just the aroma!

For those tasting this tea, I would say you have to be very attentive of steeping time. Too much and you get strong perfume and celery notes, which eclipses the peachy and fruity notes,

As a summation, this is a rather decent dancong with very strong peach notes, with accompanied applesauce + roasted apple taste, with a strong perfume and celery flavoured front. Like fruity oolongs and want a peachy one? This is your tea.

Flavors: Apple, Celery, Peach, Perfume, Smoke

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 4 OZ / 110 ML

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drank Houjicha by Mei Leaf
37 tasting notes

Got this from the mei leaf sample box. Despite it being green tea, lots of the leafs have been kinda crumbled and I thought that would be detrimental, but damn this tea is great.

Prep: 5g to 110mL, @200F

No wash.

The wetleaf aroma is an absolutely amazing roasted hazlenut. I made some very unmanly sounds smelling it, absolutely fantastic.

First steep tastes like hazlenuts with roasted seaweed. Lots and lots of umami. A bit of a dryness on the tip of the tongue, but none of the astringency in the back of your throat. Really delightful. In fact, my whole room also now smells like roasted hazlenuts!

Oh man that second infusion, it literally gave me shivers. The umami is so incredibly strong, it’s just incredibly savory. This tea excites the salivary glands massively!

I haven’t tasted any particular change in flavour on further infusions, just that this is a tea for umami lovers. Really, just a stimulating experience all around

This is my first tea from mei leaf and I have to say that their description on their page is perfect, all the way down to the amount of infusions you can get from gongfu. I find this to be pretty rare from most tea suppliers, but their description is practically perfect. You can expect 7 infusions from this tea.

Very good tea and an absolute must-have for a umami lover. Well done Mei Leaf, well done.

Flavors: Chocolate, Hay, Hazelnut, Nuts, Roasted nuts, Seaweed, Umami

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 110 ML

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drank Yu Lan Xiang by Seven Cups
37 tasting notes

This is a strip oolong. Has quite large leaves and not a terribly large amount of bruising (oxidation), so an overall slightly less-oxidized oolong. I am using around 4g in 110mL, at 180-185F

The wet aroma is fantastic and very strong and thick! Lots of ‘dark fruit’ notes, like berries, with a great degree of floral and magnolia aroma accompanying it.

The taste itself is quite the treat. It is smooth, but quite thick and juicy as well — definitely not a light oolong. It has a very creamy, buttery texture and flavour throughout. Very floral, with osmanthus and honeysuckle being the main contributors.

There is a very slight astringency, but it’s only mainly noticed as part of the aftertaste, or if you were to overbrew it.

On the fourth steep, the leaves have mostly fully opened up.

At this point, the tea has been consistant with its profile. Very creamy and very floral, thick but juicy as well. Very minor astringency — mainly detected as part of the aftertaste. A nice thing about this tea is that the more you let it cool down (after the steep and removing the leaves, just letting it cool in a cup), the floral notes slightly fade but it becomes far more creamy and buttery.

on the fifth steep, creamyness has started to fade but the floral notes remain the same.

sixth steep, the cream is on it’s last legs but the osmanthus remains persistant.

seventh steep. I would consider this tea to be ‘exhausted’ by now. Cream is gone, floral is way too subtle, and you mainly taste the husk of the leaf. I’ll consider my session to be complete by now.

As for a summary, the first half of the steeping session gives you a very thick, juicy, creamy (butter and cream), and floral flavour. The creamyness and floral both fade, but the cream is the first to go. There is very little astringency, and even after all seven steeps my throat doesn’t feel dry at all, only the surface of my tongue feels a bit dried. A very pleasant and thick oolong, an absolute treat to have.

Flavors: Butter, Cream, Floral, Honeysuckle, Osmanthus, Thick

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 4 OZ / 110 ML

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Haven’t made a review in quite some time! This wont’ be terribly in-depth like my others, but it should give a pretty decent overview.

I’m using about 4g for 110mL, at 205F.

Forgot to check out the dry aroma :P but the wet aroma is nothing too special. It’s a bit musky and ‘sandy’, but also subtle hints of sweetness and vanilla.

As for the taste, very neat and very interesting. It comes within two ‘stages’. The first stage gives the “standard” taste of sheng puerh, with the combination of white tea notes such as bai mudan and silver needle combined. Tastes like a strict combination of the two without any of the astringency, nor any hint of bitterness at all. Which is rather neat considering than sheng is normally categorized by those two characteristics.

After about 5 seconds (or less, if you can’t help to swallow the tea), the second “stage” comes in. This is where the sweetness hits and it’s absolutely sublime. It’s like adding a drop of vanilla to your tea and having it combine with the flavours perfectly. The sweetness spreads throughout your mouth and remains rooted as a strong aftertaste presence. Very delicious.

As a summary, if you had silver needle before, imagine silver needle infused with vanilla and the two live in absolute harmony with each other. This is how this tea tastes to me, and it retains its flavour for a very long time for multiple steepings.

I am primarily a shu puerh drinker and I normally dislike sheng, but as funny as it sounds, this is actually my absolute favourite tea from all the teas I’ve tasted. It’s great.

Flavors: Butter, Cream, Floral, Smooth, Vanilla

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 4 g 4 OZ / 110 ML

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Starting off with around 4-5g of leaves, 100ml at 200F, no wash.

Larger leaves, so no need for a wash in my opinion :D

For the first steep, spent about 3s. Unlike the smoked version of this, this one’s actually is fruity. It does have apricot notes. Like the smoked, this one does have a creamy flavour (but not as pronounced). It also has that traditional chinese black tea taste in the background (unfortuantely, I don’t know exactly how to label that particular taste).

Second steep adds a relatively strong wood flavour, on par with the apricot. Currently this tea tastes very much like a more mellow, creamy version of the Big Red Robe by Li Xiangxi, the same group that provides this tea.

On the fourth steep now, and no change in flavour from the first steep. It’s consistent.

6th steep and the same, only the flavour’s just barely starting to lessen.

I guess this tea can be steeped around 10 times before it fully loses flavour, so it has some nice endurance.

As for the final verdict? This tastes like a lesser version of Big Red Robe by the same group. It might need higher temperatures and/or longer steeping time with more leaves, so I’ll have to check later. But for now, it’s an alright tea. I would recommend the ‘smoked’ version of this one however.

Flavors: Apricot, Cream, Wood

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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~3.5g, 100ml at 200F, no wash

No wash this time because leaves already seem rather opened and it smelled really good.

Dry aroma smells like a very musky campfire

Wet aroma smells like a much more subdued campfire and it isn’t as overempowering. Description on verdant says ‘smells like a distant campfire’ and I agree.

Verdant said it’s a gongfu black tea, and therefore my first steep was 3s. I added about 2-3s for each steep, with adding around 30s+ for 6th steep onwards

I’ve had other ‘campfire/smoked’ teas in the past, but this one is the best I’ve had so far, judging from the first steep. The flavour is a combination of smokeyness and vanilla. It isn’t bitter at all but instead extremely creamy. Very savory taste and a slight hint of that spicyness ‘nutmeg’ hiding in the background. No taste of the advertised fruityness, but this is just the first steep after all.

Second steep is just as the first but more creamy. Very nice.

Third steep is just like the second. However the last ‘sip’ of the steep had a really nice smokey flavour to it. Really liking this tea so far.

fourth and fifth steep all taste like the previous. Smoky flavour that isn’t overpowering, with a very creamy texture and hints of vanilla (vanilla decreasing per steep though).

for 6th steep, went longer than usual. Not detecting any more vanilla, but the creamyness smokyness remains.

7th steep is the same as 6th.

8th steep in. Seems we’re about to hit the end of this leaf’s potential. Very long steep for this one (about 3 minutes?). Smokeyness still persists, but creamyness is down low and instead you start getting that ‘exhausted tea leaf’ flavour. So I will stop my steep session here.

So as a summarization:

Probably the most pleasant smoked tea I’ve ever tasted. The smokyness is here, but it’s not astringent or overpowering, but instead extremely creamy in texture with vanilla notes accompanying it. About halfway through a step session (4-5th steep), does the vanilla start to die out, but you get the smokyness and creamyness still remaining strong.

I am going to recommend this tea, and I rarely recommend teas. If you’re a person that likes smoky teas but wish the smoke isn’t so strong, but instead creamy, with the added bonus of vanilla, then I definitely suggest to give this tea a try.

Flavors: Campfire, Cream, Creamy, Smoked, Smooth, Vanilla

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Got this one as a sample.

5g, ~100ml, at 200F, starting with a 5s wash.

First thing I want to say is that it isn’t as woody + astringent as other sheng pu’erhs. This is a nice thing for me, as I personally dislike that a bunch.

First steep wasn’t too strong of a taste, but everything was soft. So it was just a poor steep or I didn’t let the leaves open up enough yet.

Second steep brings the flavours out. Leave the mouth dry, but it’s a strong combination of that woody sheng flavour with a minor plum backdrop.

Third steep, i forgot about it and kinda oversteeped it by a minute instead of 15s. Surprisingly, not much of an astringency detected, but more of an increased plum flavour that balanced out the wood.

With the leaves open, the woody astringent taste starts to take hold and overwhelm what very little plum flavour there is.

In short, this is a soft sheng pu’erh compared to the other sheng pu’erhs I’ve tasted. But do take this review with a grain of salt. I dislike sheng pu’erh in general and this one is no different. But if you do like sheng pu’erh, just keep in mind that this is a more mild taste than others.

Flavors: Astringent, Plums, Wood

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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I got this as a sample, so 5g, ~100ml, 205F, w/ 5s wash.

The initial taste I would say is /kinda/ like seaweed and umami, but very little seaweed and a ton of umami. It is quite reminiscent with the other Shou Pu-erh cakes from whispering pines. What’s REALLY interesting is the after taste, it has a very strong cocoa flavour to it. This aftertaste is strong enough to overpower the actual initial flavour, a really surprising find on my end.

There is no astringent taste to it, that I would associate with other strong-flavoured shou pu-erhs. It has some great mineral notes, but nothing ‘rocky’ tasteing like wuyi oolongs.

Comparing this to two other pu-erh’s I had from WhisperingPines, I would classify this as not being as tasty as the 2012 Huron Gold Needle, but generally better than the 2015 Lord of the Lakes.

One thing to note, due to the constant cocoa you get per sip, the bitterness adds up over time, which can be one negative for this cake. Otherwise, it’s pretty decent.

Flavors: Bitter, Chocolate, Cocoa, Mineral, Umami

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Phenomenal tea right here. Drinking this is just a wonderful treat.

85-89: Extremely good tea but it’s just missing that one thing to make it exceptional.

80-84: Very good tea. May not be the best, but it certainly is excellent for the times that you crave them.

70-79: Good tea. The types of teas that have that one characteristic to them that makes it worthwhile despite lacking in all the other areas

60-69: Average tea. Doesn’t excel at anything but isn’t’ horrible in anything either.

40-59: Below average tea. I can see how someone else would like this tea but I definitely don’t like it. Could be an issue with my brewing or just my taste in general. If it’s a brewing issue, rating will be adjusted accordingly.

0-39: How is this tea. Better beverages could be made by grabbing a clump of dead grass from my front lawn.


El Paso, Texas

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