362 Tasting Notes


Wang generously included a 25 g bag of this tea as a free sample in my last big order. I’d nearly ordered it on my own, so needless to say, I was happy to see it. This tea is from spring 2022. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml porcelain pot using boiling water for 55, 45, 55, 65, 75, 90, 120, and 240 seconds, plus some long, uncounted steeps.

The dry aroma is of orchid, osmanthus, honeysuckle, coconut, and grass. The first steep has notes of orchid, osmanthus, honeysuckle, freesia, butter, grass, and cream. Like the unscented Alishan, it’s woodsy with a slightly vegetal aftertaste. The second steep really opens up, with coconut, honeydew, more osmanthus, fruit tree blossoms, honeysuckle, gardenia, lemongrass, pine, petrichor, minerals, and grass. The bottom of the cup smells really sweet, a bit like floral honeydew, although the tea itself is not too sweet. I assume this is what osmanthus smells like. The next couple steeps feature coconut, lemongrass, sugar cookies, spinach, and grass, and that distinctive osmanthus flavour. Steeps five and six still have lots of heady osmanthus florals, although the vegetal nature of the Alishan is showing through. I get petrichor and mineral notes along with the spinach and grass. The end of the session is vegetal and persistently floral, with freesia and orchid being noticeable.

I usually think of scented teas as having lower-quality base material, but this one proved me wrong. I liked it even better than their excellent regular Alishan because of the addition of the osmanthus, which made the tea even more floral and fruity. The osmanthus was a wonderful complement to the somewhat vegetal Alishan and truly enhanced the drinking experience. Daylon, some of this will be in your box!

Flavors: Butter, Coconut, Cookie, Cream, Floral, Fruit Tree Flowers, Gardenias, Grass, Honeydew, Honeysuckle, Lemongrass, Mineral, Orchid, Osmanthus, Petrichor, Pine, Spinach, Sweet, Vegetal

Boiling 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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I noticed this tea on the Mountain Stream site and was intrigued, but never got around to ordering it. Thanks, Derk, for the generous sample! I steeped slightly over 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml porcelain pot at 205F for 30, 40, 60, 75, 90, 105, 120, 150, 180, and 240 seconds, plus some uncounted steeps.

The aroma of the loosely rolled dry leaves is of mango, guava, honeysuckle, gardenia, other florals, and spices. The first steep has notes of lilac, honeysuckle, gardenia, cream, mango, guava, orange, marzipan, spinach, grass, and chili. I’ve never had jackfruit, so can’t comment on whether it’s in the tea. I taste what might be camphor near the bottom of the cup. The second steep gives me mouth-watering notes of mango, orange, and tropical fruit, plus clove, chili, honeysuckle, lilac, other florals, camphor, and grass. The tea is a bit perfumey, but in a good way. The next couple steeps are more floral, with cream, camphor, grass, and some astringency. The mango and tropical fruit come out in the aftertaste. Steeps five and six are more grassy, though the mango, marzipan, and florals are still there. The grass, spinach, and kale become more prominent as the session ends, though the creamy mango and tropical fruit make me want to keep going.

I love fruity oolongs, so it’s no surprise that this one is a winner for me. The combination of lush tropical fruit and heady florals is wonderful, even though the tea became more astringent near the end of the session. The spices are something I rarely notice in Taiwanese oolong. It may have some rough edges, but it put a smile on my face while I was drinking it.

Flavors: Astringent, Camphor, Chili, Clove, Cream, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Guava, Honeysuckle, Kale, Lilac, Mango, Marzipan, Orange, Perfume, Spices, Spinach, Tropical

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

Glad this one could make you smile.

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After my “interesting” experience with matcha, I’m happy to have picked a more standard green tea from Nio’s generous pile of samples. I steeped 5 g of leaf in a 150 ml porcelain pot using 140F water for 1 minute, plus several 20 second steeps.

The dry aroma is of cantaloupe, nuts, sweet grass, spinach, and umami. The first steep has notes of wheatgrass, spinach, cantaloupe, cream, green beans, and umami. This tea doesn’t punch me in the face like some other green teas, and is more grassy than vegetal. The veggies become more pronounced in the second steep, with more kale and spinach, while the third and fourth steeps return to being buttery, beany, and pleasant with some cantaloupe and floral overtones. Later steeps give me a peachy, grassy aftertaste. The final few steeps are generic veggies and grass, though the bitterness never gets out of hand.

This is a pleasant sencha that I wouldn’t mind revisiting. However, most of these Japanese green teas are kind of vegetal for me.

Flavors: Butter, Cantaloupe, Creamy, Floral, Grass, Green Beans, Kale, Nuts, Peach, Spinach, Umami, Vegetal, Wheatgrass

140 °F / 60 °C 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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This is my first time trying matcha! I’m surprised it’s taken me so long, but I’ve never really explored Japanese green tea and I don’t have the right tools. In line with that, I steeped my 2 g sample in a 180 ml mason jar using 160F water.

After extensive shaking, I get a jar full of very green matcha that even has some foam on the top. Taking my first sip is like having a bunch of veggies hit me in the face. I get kale, spinach, asparagus, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and grass. Cameron is right that there’s no sweetness whatever, though I don’t get any hay or mustiness either. The body is thick and creamy, and did I mention very vegetal? There were some clumps at the bottom of the jar, so I must not have shaken it as well as I thought.

I think matcha might be an acquired taste for me.

Flavors: Asparagus, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Creamy, Grass, Kale, Spinach, Thick, Vegetal

160 °F / 71 °C 2 g 6 OZ / 180 ML

Traditional matcha has to be really high quality for me to enjoy it. Otherwise, I like to use it for sweet lattes, usually cold but sometimes hot. And with both traditional and lattes, a small piece of dark chocolate or a little something usually accompanies it.

Cameron B.

I would say matcha is definitely an acquired taste.


Ashmanra, chocolate makes everything better, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it worked with matcha. Maybe I should find a bigger jar so I can dilute it a bit.

Marshall Weber

It is certainly an acquired taste haha. I have found that using the traditional techniques (bamboo whisk to get a froth) help a lot with texture and flavor to my surprise.


Glad I’m not the only one who feels this way! I have a few more matcha samples to go, but I don’t think I’m invested enough to get a traditional bowl/whisk. We’ll see!

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I received four Dancongs from One River Tea, all of which are on the roasty side for me. I’ve always wanted to try Osmanthus Fragrance, though it seems that most of them, like this one, are heavily roasted. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml porcelain pot using 195F water for 7, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The dry aroma is of osmanthus, chrysanthemum, buttered popcorn, peach, and sour roast. The first steep has nice floral, buttery aromas and top notes of orchid and osmanthus, with roast, wood, minerality, and sourness in the background that might get out of hand later. I get a pleasant peachy aftertaste a few minutes after drinking the tea. The next steep also has nice aromas and flavours of butter, osmanthus, peach, grass, honey, zucchini, apricot, and other florals, backed by a prominent roast. The third steep is similarly aromatic, with a lovely stonefruit and floral aftertaste. However, keeping it in the mouth for any longer than necessary is a mistake, as the tea is sour and astringent and reminds me of pencil shavings (more kindly described as woody?). By steep five, the florality is integrating more into the body of the tea, but the roast, wood, and minerality are becoming even stronger. The slightly sour, floral/grassy/buttery aftertaste is still pleasant. The next few steeps still have buttery floral elements, but the roast, minerality, wood, and sourness are taking over and the aftertaste is not as prominent. The tea remains floral to the end, although the bitterness is very pronounced.

This tea is kind of a Jekyll and Hyde. I love the floral, fruity aroma and aftertaste, but the roast overwhelms these flavours in the mouth. I’d say that this tea might become more integrated with time, but it’s from 2021 and I’m not sure how much longer it might take.

Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Butter, Chrysanthemum, Floral, Grass, Honey, Mineral, Orchid, Osmanthus, Peach, Popcorn, Roasted, Sour, Wood, Zucchini

195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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After reading others’ descriptions of this tea as very astringent, I decided to take the vendor’s advice and cold brew this fukamushi sencha. I don’t usually do cold brewing, as it doesn’t produce as much tea as hot steeping, but avoiding bitterness and bringing out the fruit were good enough reasons for me. I steeped 5 g of leaf in a 700 ml teapot using cold water for around 4 hours, then resteeped the leaves for over 12 hours.

The dry aroma is of spinach, kale, umami, apple, and papaya. Though the tea is still vegetal, it isn’t as astringent as I suspect it would be hot. I get notes of spinach, kale, grass, umami, beans, butter, apple, and faint papaya. I still wouldn’t describe it as particularly fruity. The tea is smoother than the two hot fukamushi senchas I’ve had, with a thicker body. The longer second steep produced a pleasant grassy, vegetal tea with no fruit and little character, so I think it’s best to cold steep it only once.

Flavors: Apple, Butter, Grass, Green Beans, Kale, Papaya, Smooth, Spinach, Umami, Vegetal

5 g 24 OZ / 700 ML

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I received 50 g of fresh spring 2023 pre-Qingming Bi Luo Chun about a week ago, and got this new-to-me tea as one of my two free samples. This is something I probably never would have tried, so thanks to Teavivre for including it! I steeped around 3 g of leaf in an 85 ml teapot at 176F for 20, 25, 35, 50, 80, 120, and 240 seconds, plus some uncounted steeps. I also steeped the remaining 2 g in around 250 ml of 176F water for 5 minutes, topping up the water as needed.

The dry aroma of these flat, almost uniform leaves is of chestnuts, seaweed, and grass. The first steep has notes of chestnuts, green beans, asparagus, butter, umami, and grass. The next steep adds notes of orange peel and florals, and the tea is slightly drying. The tea is less sweet than Dragonwell and has a starchy quality. The orange disappears in the next couple steeps, and stronger notes of asparagus, chestnut, and green beans emerge. The final steeps are a bit more bitter and add kale and grass to the veggie combo.

Bowl steeped, this tea has notes of chestnut, asparagus, spinach, green pepper, faint florals, seaweed, and grass. There’s some bitterness, but it’s not overwhelming. I get more green beans and grass as the session goes on, and the tea becomes slightly sweeter and more floral. It lasts for several infusions.

This is close to the type of nutty, less abrasive Chinese green tea that I like, though Dragonwell appeals to me a little more because it tends to be sweeter. As usual, bowl steeping provided the more pleasant experience, though the citrus in the gongfu session was a nice surprise. This isn’t something I need to rush out and buy, but I’m glad I got to try it.

Flavors: Asparagus, Butter, Chestnut, Drying, Floral, Grass, Green Beans, Green Pepper, Kale, Orange Zest, Seaweed, Spinach, Sweet, Umami, Vegetal

175 °F / 79 °C 3 g 3 OZ / 85 ML

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Last week’s Steepster freeze felt like a month! I’m glad we can all post tasting notes again, and I have a bit of a backlog.

This is my second fukamushi sencha. I’m using my Finum infuser instead of my other strainer, and I hope it will filter out more of the leaf. I steeped the 5 g sample in a 150 ml teapot using 150F water for 45, 20, 20, 20, and 20 seconds, followed by a few uncounted steeps.

The dry leaves have aromas of spinach, umami, nuts, and tropical fruit. The Finum indeed worked better than my other strainer, and I’m happy to report that no leaf bits made their way into my cup. The first steep has lots of umami, plus spinach, brussels sprouts, butter, asparagus, nuts, and hints of passionfruit (thanks, Cameron!). The second steep has a thick body and is a bit more bitter, but still has pleasant flavours of nuts, asparagus, kale, and passionfruit. Subsequent infusions are quite vegetal and grassy, though not as astringent as the other fukamushi sencha, and the final long steeps have hints of florality.

I enjoyed this more than the previous fukamushi sencha, particularly the passionfruit that appeared near the beginning of the session. The tea is smoother and less aggressively vegetal, which are both qualities I appreciate.

Flavors: Asparagus, Astringent, Brussels Sprouts, Butter, Floral, Grass, Kale, Nuts, Passion Fruit, Spinach, Thick, Umami, Vegetal

150 °F / 65 °C 0 min, 45 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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In my last Camellia Sinensis order, I got a mystery teabag as part of a contest, and if you identified what it was, you could win $500 worth of tea. Unfortunately, I only looked at the teabag after the contest was over, so here we are. At least I know what it is! I steeped 3 g of leaf in a 355 ml mug using 185F water for 3:30, 4:30, 6, and 10 minutes.

The dry aroma is of kale, spinach, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds. The first steep has notes of spinach, kale, lettuce, green beans, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, earth, and umami. I can sort of see how the vendor says it is herbaceous. The finish is a little drying, but it’s not particularly bitter, though more bitterness comes out as it cools. The next couple steeps accentuate the beans and hazelnuts, with an earthy, herbaceous, vegetal background. The final long steep is vegetal and grassy.

I certainly feel like I’m getting my veggies with this one, and though this isn’t a bad thing, I can’t see myself drinking it regularly. Still, I’m glad to have tried a tea that I normally would have ignored, especially because it was pretty good!

Flavors: Earth, Grass, Green Beans, Hazelnut, Herbaceous, Kale, Lettuce, Spinach, Sunflower Seed, Umami, Vegetal

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 30 sec 3 g 12 OZ / 355 ML

Love the contest idea, although there is no way I could win it with my wonky tastebuds!


There’s no way I would have gotten it either! I might have guessed it was a Chinese green, but not which one.

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drank Gyokuro Sasa Hime by Nio Teas
362 tasting notes

The first sample I grabbed today was a matcha, but I have no tools for preparing it so I put it back in the bag. I’m glad that my second pick was a gyokuro. I steeped 5 g of leaf in a 120 ml kyusu using 140F water for 2 minutes, followed by several steeps of 20 seconds.

The dry aroma is of spinach, grass, and earth. The first steep has notes of spinach, brussels sprouts, broccoli, umami, grass, herbs, butter, and earth. I get very little sweetness and lots of bitter veggies. The next steep features edamame and umami and is still quite bitter. The final steeps have somewhat sweet grassy notes with other veggies.

I didn’t enjoy this gyokuro as much as the Gyokuro Cha Musume I had a couple days ago. It lacked sweetness and fruitiness and was quite vegetal and bitter. I was happy to try it, but it’s not the type of flavour profile I gravitate toward.

These Advent calendar samples also contain a lot of matcha. It seems dumb to buy a $60 matcha kit to make free tea, especially since I’ve never had matcha before and don’t know if I even like it. I don’t have a milk frother or blender, so those options are out, too. Hmm.

Flavors: Beany, Bitter, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Butter, Earth, Grass, Herbaceous, Spinach, Umami, Vegetal

140 °F / 60 °C 2 min, 0 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
Cameron B.

For the matcha, you could try using a regular whisk if you have one for cooking/baking. I also like to drink matcha cold shaken with water or oat milk, and you don’t need any special tools for that.


I don’t have a whisk, but I do have jars and water bottles that could work for cold brewing. Do you use the same amount of water you’d use for hot matcha?

Cameron B.

I personally use about a teaspoon for 8 ounces of liquid, so quite a bit more diluted than a traditional usucha. Obviously that totally depends on your personal tastes though. Maybe start stronger and you can always add more liquid.


Do you have a cocktail shaker or protein powder mixing cup with the metal ball?


Nope. I have relatively few kitchen gadgets. However, these things would be easy to find if I decide I like matcha and want to keep making it.


I got my cocktail shaker at an estate sale for cheap cheap and the protein powder was one from Vitamin Shoppe with their logo and it was also cheap but has endured like a champ. Ashman uses it several times a week to mix Instant Breakfast but I have used it for matcha lattes. Also, I have a cheap Aerolatte, and someone (maybe matchaoutlet.com or 3leaftea had them for $7.


Thanks! It’s possible that thrift stores might also have cheap cocktail shakers. If I try a couple of these matchas and decide I like them, I’ll explore getting the tools. However, I already have a lot of tea stuff in my small apartment (along with the ever-expanding tea museum) and don’t want to accumulate things I won’t use.


Also, watch me break this resolution and buy an entire matcha set if I decide I enjoy these samples! :D


@Leafhopper if you have a jar with a lid, you can use it as a shaker to mix up the matcha. You don’t need fancy equipment for matcha. I often use a small balloon whisk from the dollar store and a rice bowl.


Yep, my eldest, Superanna, uses a fork!


LuckyMe, this is what I plan to do, at least for now.

Ashmanra, I’m sure some people would consider that to be heresy, but it’s a great use of resources! :)

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Since I discovered Teavana’s Monkey Picked Oolong four years ago, I’ve been fascinated by loose-leaf tea. I’m glad to say that my oolong tastes have evolved, and that I now like nearly every tea that comes from Taiwan, oolong or not, particularly the bug-bitten varieties. I also find myself drinking Yunnan blacks and Darjeelings from time to time, as well as a few other curiosities.

However, while online reviews might make me feel like an expert, I know that I still have some work to do to actually pick up those flavours myself. I hope that by making me describe what I’m tasting, Steepster can improve my appreciation of teas I already enjoy and make me more open to new possibilities (maybe even puerh!).



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