580 Tasting Notes

1 packet (4g) to 300mL water @90C, steeped three minutes twenty seconds.

Dry leaf: darkest green and tight-rolled.Complex aroma: barley, florals, grass, apple.

First infusion. Wet leaf is dark green Some leaves are open; others are still tightly rolled. Pale yellow liquor. Notes of barley, pineapple (?), florals, honey, and something cooling … I want to say camphor, but I;m not sure if that’s right. A balanced and, to me, slightly starting tieguanyin. Lots going on here. I love it.

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2 tsp (roughly, tea is fluffy) for 500 mL water @95C, steeped four minutes.


Dry leaf is golden, long, and downy. Wet leaf is medium brown and remains tight after the first steep. Liquor is tan with gold.

I adore dian hong. This one is a touch sweet — though it can get bitter if left too long to steep, as I found out yesterday — with notes of cream, malt, and a slight leathery finish. None of the peppery bite I like so much in some dian hong. Some slight astringence. Smooth and soothing. Re-steeps well; I got three infusions yesterday and expect the same today.

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2.25 tsp for 200mL water @93C, steeped six minutes.

Dry leaf: an exceptionally pretty tisane, with apple pieces and various flower petals. Fruity scents with some peppermint, cola nut, and what smelled like a fruit flavouring.

Wet leaf: much the same.

Liquor: yellow-bronze. Fruity scent with not much from the peppermint. The cola nut does not dominate as in Rise N Shine. I didn’t taste the lemongrass, though I pick up on honeybush. I wish the mysterious “flavouring” were identified and perhaps turned down, because something fruity and slightly artificial dominates the finish. Still, pleasant and easy to drink. A subtle energy lift, not as potent as Rise N Shine.

Citizen Tea really shine on their blends.

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2.25 tsp for 500mL water @90C, Western style, steeped three minutes.

I received a sample of this tea from the 2017 Toronto Tea Fesitival’s oolong tasting box.

The instructions on the packet are alarming: boiling water, 100C. What?

I decided to ignore that and use 90C water. And I’m glad I did.

Dry leaf: twisted and dark strip-style oolong. Scents are sweet, toasty, anfd a bit musty.

Wet leaf: long and glossy dark brown, with some dark green. Scents of toast and molasses.

First infusion

Liquor is light copper, no down. Sweet and toasty with some dark fruit notes and a strong mineral finish. In fact, it’s very sweet, almost like a pale honey. A heavier body than I was expecting. I’ve made a 500mL beaker here, so it might be a while before I try a second infusion.

Sweet, toasty, fruity, and mineral. Lovely.

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1 tsp for 250mLwater @90C, steeped three minutes.

Dry leaf: artificial butter-cream scent. Tightly-rolled bright green leaves. Twigs.

Wet leaf: unfurled green leaves, many twigs.

Liquor: pale yellow, some gold tones. Taste is flat — it’s scented hot water. And the scent is not very appealing; it seems fake and heavy to me.

A disappointment.

Evol Ving Ness

Too bad. There’s nothing like a nice milk oolong when you are in the mood for one. The jury seems to still be out on how much butter/cream is best. Personally, the creamier, the better. Though in the tea world, I may be a neanderthal.


Out of curiousity, what is the best Milk Oolong you’ve tried? So far the best I’ve heard about is Tao Tea Leaf and Teavivre, other than the now closed Majesteas


I’ve had Tao’s. It is pretty good. Nothing to blow my socks off, but a solid option. Oh and I think YS has a good one, or so I am told

Michelle Butler Hallett

I;ve only had four. My favourite came from a now-defunct indie tea shop; I’;m not sure where they got it from. That milk oolong semmeld and tasted like heavy cream with a slight floral note, and nothing seemed heavy or artificial. No mention of “flavouring” on the packets. My next-favourite was from DavidsTea, when it was still milk oolong with a long explanation about the effects of cool springs on the leaves in question. Then they switched a few years ago to “milk-flavouring.” That really didn’t agree with me; it tasted fake, and the tea itself seemed bitter and flat. I liked Tao Tea’s, but I wondered if there was added flavouring, as things got very buttery, almost microwave popcorn levels. Citizen Tea’s just face-planted for me.


Totally with you on the fake teas. The DT one I have tried as well, but didn’t enjoy. Maybe I’ll find one at the tea festival


@Evol not a neanderthal, to each his own with preferences I say. Those flavourings can be be cloying for me at times

Evol Ving Ness

Agreed. They can be cloying, but when heavy but not cloying, they are glorious.


Yes, so true! to be honest, what I dislike in Milk Oolongs most is when they have a floral intensity to them. For some reason I find the two flavours don’t mix well at all

Evol Ving Ness

Agreed. Most of the time.

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1.25tsp for 250mL water @ 90C, steeped three minutes.

Before I go any further, I must point out that Citizen Tea makes it very easy to try samples of their teas. My entire order was made of little sample packets, and I am delighted by that. It’s a very friendly way to try different offerings and means I don;t need to commit to 50 grams of something I really don’t like in the end. Citizen Tea bends over backwards to treat the customer well.

Dry leaf: green pebbles, with a strong scent of liquorice. I’m dubious here …

Wet leaf: very little unfurling of leaves, which bodes well for repeated infusions.

I avoid liquorice in teas and tisanes as I don’t care for it, and because I have blood pressure issues. I missed the mention of liquorice when I ordered this sample.

Once again, Citizen Tea show they understand blends. This is very balanced between ginseng and liquorice, with neither dominating. It’s sweet, but not cloying. The ginseng lends the usual slightly fuzzy mouthfeel. Me, I’d prefer it without the liquorice, but if you like the stuff, you’ll probably like this tea.

Evol Ving Ness

Ginseng also raises blood pressure.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Shoot. Did not know that. Thanks very much for telling me. I really like ginseng oolong. I’ll have to save it for once in a very great while.

Evol Ving Ness

You are welcome. I’ve been doing a great deal of research on this. Hibiscus is a good one to drink if this is an issue.

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1.25tsp for 250mL water @80C, steeped two minutes.

Dry leaf: bright green, long and pressed flat, some twigs. Very fragrant: grass and soybeans and even a hint of vanilla. Sweet.

Wet leaf: still a bright green.

Liquor: palest green, almost clear. Extremely fragrant for a green tea: first of vegetal, then of sweetness, almost grassiness. Some vegetal teas taste like briny broth and scallops to me. This one has a slight scalp note but none of that brothy taste. Potent leaves. Something sharp in the aroma, almost fruity: I can’t quite figure it out. The liquor is packed with flavour.

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2tsp for 250mL water @90C, steeped 9 minutes. The packet recommends 2tsp for 1 cup of water, which seems like a lot to me, but with tisanes, things can get tricky. So I’ll follow the instructions. Packet also recommends a steep time of six to eight minutes. I got distracted and left it for 9.

Dry leaf: gorgeous dark roasted mate. I was delighted to see that, because the packet lists only “mate” as an ingredient. I was worried that green mate, so fresh and vibrant, couldn’t stand up to chai spices. Roasted can, I have no doubt. I love roasted mate, and it can be hard to find. Strong scent of ginger and cloves, which I love. Clove is an ingredient I don’t often encounter in chai blends. Stash uses it, and Stash was the first chai blend I ever tried, so now for me cloves need to be there. And ginger. I adore cloves and ginger. Cinnamon I can take or leave in a chai blend. This probably tells you I am an unsophisticated brute who knows nothing of chai.

Wet leaf: glossy dark roasted mate, but of clove and ginger showing.

Liquor: quite dark, though not as dark as a pu-ehr. Dark golden brown, as a Nigiri might give. Translucent: light passes through without interruption from down or fragments. Fragrant still with clove and ginger — and a bit of cardamom, which I also adore but can only take in small doses. Too much cardamom gives tisanes, teas and coffee a soapy mouthfeel. I also find too much cardamom hard on the stomach. Given how long I’ve steeped this, I’m a bit nervous.

Just on the edge of soap with the cardamom, and I blame myself. A shorter steep would solve that.

A very balanced blend. The roasted mate is all toasty and a bit earthy, a subtle touch of bitterness — which really works here. I don’t think it needs any sweetening, because the ginger and cinnamon sweeten things nicely at the end. The cloves add depth, and the pepper leaves a lingering bite that builds with each sip.

The mate lift kicks in fast, as it should. Not a smack to the head, but a definite boost. Very pleasant.

I really like it. Citizen Tea seem to have a good handle on blends. Watch the water temp and steep times on this beauty, and enjoy.


I find they (and Teaopia when it was around)don’t add blends often, not like DT or Teavana. But they do a much better job overall of blending! Quality over quantity :)

Michelle Butler Hallett

I think you’re onto something there.


I hope so! I’ll definitely pay more attention to any new blends they come up with now

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5g to 200mL water @95C, rinsed and brewed gongfu style in bone china

1st infusion 30 seconds

I have great respect for Master Zhang. I’ve learned so much about oolongs from his work. And today, I didn’t just learn something, I experienced it. The first sip felt musical; I heard singing.

I enjoy floral tieguanyins, This one has floral notes, plus some distant ginseng (and that ginseng zip on the tongue). I wish I had the vocabulary to better convey this tea, which is the most sublime and beautiful tea I’ve ever tasted.

I’m in awe.

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1.25tsp for 300mL water @100C, steeped eight minutes.

Cola nut dominates the taste and scent of this pretty stimulant tisane. Next layer of flavour is guarana, cinnamon, and apple. I didn’t taste the yerba mate at all … but I can feel it, that and the guarana. A slow build to a potent energy boost. The honeybush and apple make a lovely combination that rounds out and balances the entire blend. Still, a strong scent of cola nut remains, even in another room where I had first steeped the tisane. So if you don’t like cola, this tisane likely won’t work for you. As for me, I like it far more than I expected to.

A pleasant stimulant tisane that has good depth of flavour — not always a given with tisanes — and delivers on the promise of an energy boost.

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I prefer straight teas but will try almost anything … so long as it’s not tainted with hibiscus. I loathe hibiscus.

Floral oolong and complex black teas are my favourites.


St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

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