54 Tasting Notes


Fancy Tie Guan Yin Oolong Autumn Harvest 2012
Dry: Rich, clarified butter, orchid-floral
Wet: Oceanic, vegetal, faintly floral, almond
Leaf: Deeply luminescent green, tightly rolled knots that unfurl to huge full leaves. 4g easily fills the volume of an 10oz pot.
Cup: Pale, lemony-golden liquor with a cloudy appearance, that clears up to a bright, glowing white grapefruit translucent hue by the 3 extraction. The cup is deeply fragrant and hints at the buttery and sweet flavors in the cup. Rich, explosive layers of resonate orchid, with a sweet oceanic depth and almost sea salt lingering. The resounded waves that bloom throughout the mouth are like the ocean against the shore, laying new sparkling moments that linger for many minutes after drinking. The splashing flavors are rich with a texture that is like holding flower petals in the mouth, only to find them vanish upon searching for them. The flavors continue, steep after steep, only becoming cleaner, more mineral, elusive and sparkling sweet. It seems to hold onto the temperature of the liquor and translate it into something that is nearing a texture, but also a physical sensation that resonates against the top of the palate and against the uvula and intensifies each whisper of incoming breath.
Directions: used 4g in 10oz glass pot, decanted into glass tea ocean and steeped for 1-2 minutes using 190 degree water (with an initial ½ oz of cold water to pre-extract the leaves on the 1st steeping. 2nd steep same. 3rd steep 3minutes. 4th steep 4 minutes. 5th steep 5 mintues.
Notes: I have been assembling over a dozen Tie Guan Yin oolongs of various grades, types, oxidation, locations, harvests and crafts to hold a free tea cupping for the local public in my Tea Around Town program. Its been a very interesting journey and quite educational, as I have draw together aged oolongs, double fired, spring/autumn harvests, China/Taiwan harvests, and variable oxidation and this particular tea floored me. I have always heard about the quality of these oolongs being defined by the characteristic of ‘orchid’ notes and the tendency for them to ‘blush’ in repeated ways beyond the first sip. I guess I have experienced some of them in the past, but this was truly an example of this all the way. Later steeping even drew out flavors of Asian pear and granny smith apple. All I can say is with such a bounty in a simple cup, why would anyone ever need to flavor these? Wow…..amazing.

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec

..why would anyone ever flavor these? Amazing. Well expressed.

Doug F

I’m always impressed with the oolongs and black teas I’ve purchased from yunnansourcing. It’s more than just a great pu-erh company.

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Very excited about this tea and so I’m re-posting it as a link for any Steepster tea lover who is connected to me to get a chance to try and not only sample an extremely rare offering from Kenya and get it fresh and direct from the farmers, but also get a chance to support a project that I have been keenly interested in : The Tour de H20.
4 years ago in Columbus, OH and in California, Global Partners started a supportive bike ride that helps aid in the spreading of awareness and in financially supporting the cause of developing water projects, well development, and water infrastructure in needed areas of Kenya.
I developed a friendship with Steven Hurt and his wife who are both involved with this project and began riding to share awareness and support.
Joy of the Royal Tea of Kenya called today and wanted to make sure that I could get some of this tea to offer to others and I decided that with any of this tea purchased through me, that all profits would go directly to this years Tour de H20.
I felt this was a win/win for both the tea lover, tea seller, Kenyan farmer, and Kenyan water development project.
If you are interested in being a part of this, please contact me in a note and I will be offering this for $20/oz and I have only a limited supply.
Thank you all so much for even considering it and I hope we can raise hope and compassion with each cup of tea!.

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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Wild Orchid Pearl Oolong ~ Nepali Tea Traders
Dry: Toasted, malty, tomato, floral-spicy
Wet: mussels-sweet ocean brine, peachy-stone fruit
Leaf: Carefully twisted golden and umber leaves, crafted in spirals and knots, dark against light, with reddish-sienna leaf hints. Pale golden pollen clings to the leaves and the bag. Almost a ‘temple of heaven’ –like look but with a darker and more complex appearance, laced with fuzzy gold and straw-hued threads.
Cup: Rose-brassy-orange hued liquor. Bright and sweet, light bodied, with dancing mineral notes, hints of roasted squash, walnut, and marigold. As the tea cools, hints of vegetal and spicy-floral notes deepen and emerge. Summery and crisp this tea is flavorful and dynamic.
2nd extraction added hints of lime zest and deepened the body as the leaves unfurled further. Sparkling and bright with a developing herbaceous and toasted bread aspect and continued floral and spicy canvas.
3rd extraction is extremely smooth and rich with a clean, sweet muscatel and slightly dry, spicy wine-like finish. The body develops and orchid fleshy weight that is supported by the vegetal and floral balance.
Directions: used 5g in 8oz of 200 degree water, in glass pot and decanted into glass cha hai to aerate, and then poured into ceramic cup. All tea ware was heated prior to use. First extraction was 2 minutes, second was 4 minutes, and third was 3 minutes; 4th extraction was thin in color and character and was not included.
Notes: The brightness and hue of the liquor is captivating and has a deeply reflective and powerfully light catching radiance that is worth being mindful of steeping, just to capture it. The ‘orchid’ in the name is interesting, as I was able to understand it a bit more as I explored the extraction and steeps, finding that it did indeed carry a orchid ‘fleshy’ leaf mouth feel/flavor that was woven into is at various temperatures and extractions.
My experiences with the ocean and at the edges of the sea are occasionally triggered by some teas and this was one of those rare moments. The cleaned, ocean-brine scent of a cleaned mussel shell finds itself in the still steaming leaves of the just poured 1st extraction. It was not a aroma I would have expected nor the hint of earth or barn that also weave into it as the leaves cool.
The crisp and brightness of the tea is extremely refreshing when ‘drink-ably hot’ and becomes clean and smooth bodied as it cools. The spicy floral finish is akin to a Darjeeling 2nd flush but more subtle and tickling.
I would easily rate this as one of the best offerings I have had from Nepali Tea Traders and while very different from the Ama Dablam White tea, I would say its an easy second for its color, range, crisp flavor and the discovery of orchid notes in the cup.

Nepali Tea Traders had this to say: This distinctive tea is plucked just before Nepal’s tea plants go dormant in mid-November. The beautiful pearls produce a subtle flavor with an amber infusion. This exquisite, complex oolong produces aromas of wild orchids. The flavor is soothingly fruity, characteristic of the finest of the autumnal teas from the Jasbirey foothills of Sandakphu.

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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Harvest Russet Oolong ~ Nepali Tea Traders
Dry: Sweet, spicy, toasted, and hints of citrus orange
Wet: Sweet and gently vegetal, fresh garden bean pods
Leaf: russet, burnt sienna and dark umber hued leaves, with wild twisted forms and irregular cut and twists, allowing for dark and golden edges to intertwine and resonate in reddish hints.
Cup: Coppery-brassy orange hued liquor. Clean, refreshingly crisp body with muscatel and stone-fruit notes and a spicy-floral lingering finish. Gently textured mouth feel that softly builds, leaving a crisp, mineral finish. 2nd steep introduced toasted, woody, and sour notes that hinted at peach pit, with the cup remaining bright, crisp and dynamic with perhaps even a hint of alpine strawberry.
Directions: used 5g in 8oz of 200 degree water, in glass pot and decanted into glass cha hai to aerate, and then poured into ceramic cup. All tea ware was heated prior to use. First extraction was 2 minutes, second was 4 minutes, and third was 3 minutes; 4th extraction was thin in color and character and was not included.
Notes: The leaf craft is amazing to look at, resembling in some aspects dan congs and loose leaf wild-crafted shou pu erhs, unique and fresh in appearance and fragrant.
Another great offering and surprising for its character and extraction.
Nepali tea traders had notes on the black tea by a similar name but not anything under the oolong and this may be a new listing that has yet to post.

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec

Another amazing tea from Nepali. These are such fun to experiment with because they don’t automatically fall into the ‘normal’ range of steep time or water temperature to extract the best flavor. (At least, not what you might think at first)


I totally agree and I think its due to the leaf cut/structure/roll and a combination of mineral absorption that the tea transmits due to soil and altitude


The tea farms that Nepali gets the tea from appears to be at a lower elevation, not too far removed from Darjeeling. Wish I could show you the map but maybe you’ve seen it already. I’d like to go meet with Pat again. You should come to the Rocky Mountain Tea Festival in Boulder. I should encourage Nepali to be a vendor there.

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Ama Dablam White Tea ~ Nepali Tea Traders ~ new autumnal crop
Dry: Toasted hay, spicy, floral, wild cumin seed, fruity
Wet: Perfume-like, sweet, fruity aspect of poached berries and rhubarb with spicy element
Leaf: Beautiful glossy white needles against dark, olive and grape leaf-hued leaves. Voluminous by weight and thickly woven with bud tips, this tea has an aspect of its Bai Mudan cousins with leaf, bud, and stem present, but in this case, the carefully drying and craft of pluck makes it delicate and lovely and clearly shows the care of its farmers.
Cup: Pale, white grapefruit flesh-hued liquor with clear, bright translucence and a mere hint of yellow. Smooth, butter, and clean, hints of toast, almonds, sunflower oil, and white pepper dance within each sip; exchanging hands and leaving the last motes to spin and vanish. Extremely warm in its flavor, yet clean and refreshing, gentle pollen notes linger and there is a hint of juiciness. The flavor blooms repeatedly with each sip and there is a teasing floral hint that holds onto the back of the throat and the sides of the tongue.
Directions: Used 3.1g in 10oz of 180 degree water in a glass pot, steeped for 4 minutes and decanted and aerated into a glass cha hai and served in white porcelain cups.
Notes: Second extraction was less complex but cleaner with an almost rose water element and a clean almond note. Water temp was increased to 190 and steep time was 3 minutes. 3rd extraction developed a rich buttery note and I used 195 degree temp steeped for 2 minutes and it also developed a snow pea note with a sweet, floral depth.
The craft of this tea is wonderful and it has a freshness and delicate appearance that emanates in both the leave and the cup. One of the best teas I have yet to try from Nepali Tea traders and one that I think distinctly shows a careful and loving artfulness. I truly hope that this continues and it finds more receptive tea lovers who can appreciate the subtle range of this cup. Many I’m sure will find its flavors to be overly delicate and will drink it for its ‘white’ nature, but I imagine with time the rarity of this cup will shine and show itself to be truly worthy of an honest and complete listen.
From Nepali Tea Traders: This special white autumnal tea is grown and processed in the style of the prized Bai Mudans from China. It is made from a bud with one leaf shoot from a specially cultivated plant. The tea is dried naturally, fired and then cured for more than a month so the flavor profile develops to the optimum level. The liquor is very pale green and has a mild floral aroma and a soothing sweet finish, devoid of astringency, and grassy flavors.

As this is my 50th review, I think it is fitting to adorn it with such an amazing tea and if anyone is interested or frequents facebook to follow me at ‘Tea Around Town’ where I post additional photos and post ‘n’ host tea tastings and talks in the Columbus, OH area. Hope to see you there.

185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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Vietnamese Wild Black Hand-Crafted ~ Tao of Tea
Dry: Deeply fragrant aroma of rose, cherry/amaretto and hints of osmanthus. Overall floral and fruity and very complex.
Wet: Sweet and deep woodsy aroma with nuances of baked-caramelized nuts, and an aspect of horse leather or naturally fragrant oils.
Leaf: Darkly oxidized, twisted and textured leaves, of various size and length with some leaves being nearly 3” long and the density of the leaves being variable.
Cup: A pale brassy-peach hued liquor with amber depth. There is an immediate aroma from the cup that is reminiscent of oolongs served in more traditional Chinese restaurants, where the metallic scent of the pot contributes to the deeper tea aroma. The initial flavor is deeply woody and wild, elusive hints of flavors found around the savored pit of a cherry mingle with a slightly spicy caraway-leathery note, slipping into sweetness and hinting with a glint of metallic on the aftertaste. Extremely smooth and the almost ‘thin’ delicate flavors are confusing as the mouth indicates a denser body and viscosity. Overall the cup is dynamic and is challenging to define, being both simple and elusive, but clear and distinct in the same breath.
Directions: 1st extraction: 5g in 8oz 195 degree water steeped for 2 minutes in graduated glass pot and decanted into glass tea ocean. 2nd steep: 200 degree water for 3 minutes, with same tools, resulting in deeper flavors that were more robustly woodsy and the spicy was lightly hinting at chicory, but the overall flavor remained close to the ‘pit of a cherry’. 3rd extraction: 200 degrees 3-4 minutes and resulting in excellent color extraction with cup beginning to fade into a soft metallic and textured cup and significantly mellowed profile.
Notes: This tea was my first black tea from Vietnam. I’ve had oolongs, green/scented-jasmine green teas from the country but never a cup that was truly black, nor anything so distinctly sources in North Vietnam or from an aged tree from the country. I can’t say enough about how amazing the dry aroma and the craft of the leaves are, particularly upon first inspection and with no cupping expectations. I was very excited to try this and to share it. The cup seems to want to communicate in a complex language of flavors, textures, and weight, with color being vibrant consistently and not a clear indicator of strength. The variable leaf size I think also affects the extraction and its strength and also contributes to the elusive nature of some of the flavors. The notes from the Tao of Tea state:
Northern tea region of Ha Giang in Vietnam is home to old growth tea trees also know as ‘Shan Tea’. A pilot project to help preserve these tea forests is underway. We work directly with this project to source this Wild Black. Long, stylish leaves, well crafted into a robust, hearty black tea.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Satrupa – Small Whole SFTGFOP 2nd flush
Dry: clean, fruity-mulberry notes, earth, warm spice, hickory
Wet: clean, mellow, sweet, tannic, tin
Appearance: gorgeous leaf cut, mingled umber hued leaves, with silvery and golden threads,
Cup: bright, brassy-orange liquor. Light front flavor, extremely clean, gently sweet, with silk-like finish and faint textural build with repeated sips. Elusive fruity, walnut, and spicy notes mingle and merge with the refreshing and fluid body.

Subtle and extremely drinkable.

notes: I owe Saunam Bhattacharjee a debt of gratitude for his wonderful and generous nature and the transparency that he has shown with regards to his family’s tea company and the knowledge he shared of its production and estate. I contacted him in 2011 and quickly grew to appreciate all that he does and his gifts allowed me to also create a graded example of tea from every sort that I use in my educational classes, demos, and tastings. The samples he shared literally go from PF through the whole range of leaf cuts and this has allowed me to not only learn a great deal, but also to share this with others.
I chose to write about this tea, even though its over a year old, because Saunam recently had a personal tragedy befall his family as his mother and father were brutally murdered. You can read more directly here: http://mkbasia.blogspot.ca/search/label/Konapathar%20Tea%20Estate
and please offer you kind words if you can as this is an example of some of the social and political upheaval that permeates tea regions that are important for all of us to be aware. His loss is horrible and unimaginable and I deeply wish him the best.

On a side note as well…I have begun a tea blog http://705thteadisambiguation.blogspot.com/

and a facebook site “Tea Around Town” https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tea-Around-Town/435275026553658

that I hope will link in to future events and help grow my local tea culture.

That may also explain where some of my notes/posts go :)

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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Organic Elder Flowers c/s grade ~ Sambucus Nigra (Bulgaria)
Dry: mustard seed, lemon zest, musk, sesame seed ~ trisket crackers!
Wet: floral, fennel, musky, mustard greens
Leaf: pale tan yellow fine chopped flowers with brown hints the color of fennel seed. Some stems and pale green, yellow branch material mingles in.
Cup: Rich lemony-yellow hued extraction with strong herbal fragrance hinting at chamomile and lemongrass. Surprisingly full bodied and juicy with flavors that are deep, resonate and distinct, boasting with citrus, grassy voices, rich with hints of grapefruit pith and chamomile-floral flavors and a drawn out finish of brash rye and barley. The flavor hangs at the front of the tongue and teases the throat and it is sour, sweet and spicy.
Directions: used 1 tbsp (2.5grams) of flowers to 8oz of 200 degree water and steeped for 5 minutes in a glass graduated pitcher.
Notes: I totally hem’d and haw’d trying to figure out the nature of the aroma, searching my memories for the link that lit up the minute I drew in the aroma and after much mental searching through my spice cabinet, it dawned on me “Trisket crackers”! Wow, what a random connection and one that leads me back to being 14 and working on a fishing boat in Alaska, where snacking was constant to stave off the cold, wet, windy conditions and we would plow through box after box of anything we could quickly devour for calories (and that would mean we wouldn’t have to go through the process of taking off all the bloody raingear to eat).
It’s a very complex cup and flavor profile and I was surprised and pleased by how it is powerful and invigorating, in a way not so common in herbal teas. The sea-saw of citrus, spice, and floral is dynamic and interesting. I can see why many companies mix this with verbena or lemon balm, mint, or Echinacea as they would all amplify and merge with each other.
There is also an immediate effect on the nasal passages, a feeling not unlike drawing in a spicy, woodsy scent that seems to penetrate the nose and makes me think of the woods in Ohio in the late summer and early autumn. You can also taste a hint of the dark fruit long after the cup is done and you can ‘find’ the berry in the ‘flower’, so to speak.

200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec

Beautiful descriptive review as always! Wish I could taste these flowers, but you almost took me there! I hope you’re writing about Alaska. I’d love to hear more.


well as I owe you a bit of tea as it is…I will tuck a bit of this in as well


Really?!Didn’t think you could send it. Cool! I can feel like a 14 year old boy fishing in Alaska (well maybe not). Beside, you don’t owe me. Nobody owes me anything, but I do appreciate tea when it appears.It’s a tremendous joy!

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drank Elderberry by Kashyap's Cupboard
54 tasting notes

Organic Elderberry ~ Sambucus Nigra
Dry: Dark fruit, tree sap, blackberry pie
Wet: fruity, medicinal
Leaf: in this case small, wet-looking, dark blackish-brown berries, raisin-like in texture but about the size of a black peppercorn
Cup: A pale, purple hued liquor resembling diluted concord or blackberry juice. Fragrant cup, with fruity, sweet notes. The flavor starts somewhat flat with the liquor lying heavy against the back of the tongue and leaving a acai-blackberry flavor to roll against the back of the mouth and a finish that is gently sweet and somewhat medicinal.
Directions: Used 3g in 8oz of 200 degree water and steeped for 5 minutes in a glass carafe.
Notes: I was asked for a ‘elderberry tea’ and after a bit of searching for recipes, I mostly found tea bag concoctions that were full of various ingredients and often included a wealth of other herbals that I’m use were there to produce the ‘desired’ effect: a fruity, health fortifying concoction that is supposed to help with the following:
(Health Benefits of Elderberry)
Native American tribes have for centuries used elderberry tea as an herbal remedy to help ease joint and muscular pains. It is still a popular herbal medication today and can be used for ailments such as:
Fevers, particularly flu or other virus-based illnesses, can be eased by drinking elderberry herb tea. It can also help clear the airways, breaking down mucus and phlegm, which can aid ailments such as bronchitis and asthma.
The common cold can be overcome much more quickly with a dose of elderberry tea, and drinking it regularly can help stave off a cold altogether. Due to the airway-clearing properties contained within elderberry, it can also help with allergies such as hay fever. The tea has also been used to help speed up the recovery process for sufferers of chicken pox and measles.
Elderberry herb tea is a popular choice to relieve water retention, as it has slightly diuretic properties. It can also aid in the detoxification process of the liver and kidneys. With this in mind, it may help those who suffer from frequent bouts of urinary tract infections. Elderberry tea is also a mild laxative and so can help ease constipation and the bloating and flatulence that may accompany it.
Elderberry also has anti-inflammatory properties. It can help to ease the joint pain associated with arthritis and can be used as a wash for skin disorders such as eczema and boils. The fresh herb can be placed into bath water, rather like a large cup of tea, as a whole body soak to alleviate muscle aches and pains.
Elderberry is a well-known immune system booster, and regular consumption of the tea can help the body fight off such ailments as herpes. It is particularly popular with those who regularly suffer from cold sores. It is also thought to help lower cholesterol.
Elderberry herb tea has sedative properties and so can assist with stress relief, be used as an anti-anxiety supplement, or aid a restful sleep. It may also be helpful for people who suffer from insomnia if used on a regular basis. As a relaxant, it may also be beneficial for those who suffer from high blood pressure.
Elderberry is believed to have emetic properties, meaning it can induce vomiting. The raw and unripe fruit leaves and stems contain cyanide. Unless familiar with this herb, it is not recommended to pick fresh for making homemade teas.

Generally the ‘tea’ is made from the flowers of the Elderberry plant and there are some cautions about using ‘natural’ sources as the plant’s unripe fruit, leaves, and stems contain cyanide and can be toxic.

I have also secured a supply of the leaves and will be cupping that as well to see if it has any future applications in blending.

On the whole, I was surprised by the ‘wet’ sticky nature of the berries and the aroma and flavor reminds me very much of an old natural foods store (before the popularity of whole foods when such shops were scattered in small communities) and the mingling of dominate scents that gave each of those places a smell of wood, exotic dried fruits/vegetables, and spice. There is also in its aroma a scent that reminds me of the first breath that one takes walking into a Penzeys spice shop and also of the woods in the early wet, spring transition from winter where there is a mingling of fresh earth, developing berries and flowers, and wet humus.

The berries hail from Croatia.

200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec

Ah,now that is another place I’d like to return to and spend some time!

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Tea enthusiast and charity athlete who enjoys exploring and sharing the world of tea and fighting for a world free of ALS. Visit : http://alswarriorohio.wordpress.com to join the fight!
I am also the founder of Tea Around Town a facebook page devoted to tea enthusiasm and education, linking tea tastings and passion with charitable projects and actions in the Central Ohio area.


Columbus, OH



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