280 Tasting Notes


I’m surprised that I am the first one to log this!
Thanks to Mel for including this as an extra.

This is only that second darjeeling that I’ve ever had, and it is REALLY good. It is flowery, and there is a hint of sweetness — but what impressed me about the sweetness was that it came from a subtle citrus/lemony flavor. Almost as if I had squeezed a little bit of lemon into the tea and put a dash of sugar. Of course it wasn’t that strong, but it was definitely present.

I could see this being a kind of black tea I would drink regularly! My wife really liked it too, as I thought she would.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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drank Hawaii-Grown Black by Samovar
280 tasting notes

I received this from Geoff via seykayay — thank you both!

As everyone else has said, this is quite a unique tea (thanks LiberTeas for enlightening me on italics). The closest tea to it in my experience is Mellow Monk’s Top Leaf. No, of course that’s an entirely different tea. However, this as well as the top leaf opened with a very strong earthy note that to me, honestly made me think of their growing regions (both of which, Hawaii and Aso, are volcanic).

Besides that strong earth ‘volcanic’-seeming flavor, I felt like it was pretty smokey. People have mentioned it being like grilled fruit, but I unfortunately didn’t get the fruit part. I detected a very subtle aroma of fruit in the wet leaves (which yes they were pretty, whole, and large), and immediately hoped it would be present in the flavor/aroma of the tea. Alas, I pretty much got the grilled part and none of the sweet or fruit.

It was a little starchy after the grilled/smokiness faded. Unlike other people, this actually went for 3 full steepings: 1TB leaf, 4oz water (each time), 4 mins, 2 mins, and 5 mins.

Being that this is quite an expensive tea, I wouldn’t buy it because I didn’t love it (but I did enjoy it). At the same time, it was really a fun one to get to try. Thanks again for those who shared with me!

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Geoffrey Norman

How DO you do italics on this thing?


Just add _ before and after the words for italics!
(and just in case, just add * before and after the word(s) for bold!

What I’m really curious about, and haven’t learned, is how people make really really small text in the middle of their review.

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This was also part of a swap from Mel — thanks a lot! This was the first heavily charcoal roasted TGY that I’ve had. (I believe I had one from Life in Teacup before, but it was far less roasted than this one).

When I opened the bag, it smelled so familiar, like ‘dear old’ Houjicha. I was hoping this would be a wonderful cross between the roasted sweetness of Houjicha and the buttery flower of green TGY (at least, hints of floral notes or fruit).

Unfortunately, teaddict is right (other person to post on this one); it seems a little too roasted. Don’t get me wrong, it is a good tea and I enjoyed all 7 steepings (which, hadn’t really given out by the time I did), but there was very little evidence that this was a TGY. For the most part, it tasted like a Houjicha, but not my favorite one either.

Now, if I could find a cross between the two, that started with more roastedness on the first few steeps, but became more fruity or floral as the leaves opened, I think we’d have a winner!

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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This is a very unique, interesting white tea.
Thanks Gingko, for the sample, I enjoyed it both times (I think it was two 3.5g bags)!

The liquor was a light brown somewhat gold color. Honestly, this tea really felt like a black tea, rather than a white tea. The color wasn’t light (green or yellow tinted), the wet leaves were dark brown (again, like a black tea after infusion; not as dark as houjicha or anything), and the first pot I had of this was slightly astringent and had some malty notes!

For the first time a few days ago, I went by the directions; boiled water for 3 minutes. This afternoon, however, for the 2nd bag, I tried slightly under boiling, probably between 190-200 or so, for the same amount of time.

The astringency and drying sensation from the first pot were gone. Instead, the honey-sweetness was much more pronounced! (This was present the first time, but far less obvious). This really reminds me of a less complex Yunnan Gold. It is from the same region, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by that.

For a white tea, this was very surprising – it wasn’t too light, flowery, buttery — the honey-sweetness was quite enjoyable, but I can’t remember there being much else to it. I think I would go for Life in Teacup’s Yunnan Golden Buds over this, but that’s just my personal preference!

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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This was also part of a swap, thanks Mel!

This is a very enjoyable rooibos. I didn’t taste the cake flavor, but all the spices are there. Adding a bit of milk even hinted at the frosting. A clever idea for a tea, and I give it a thumbs up.

Boiling 8 min or more

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Thanks Gingko for the fun sample for Valentine’s. My wife and I enjoyed this and the Green Kiss Chocolate. There are probably a lot of things you could put these blossoms in to add character/color, and a little flavor.

The chocolate was delicious, very fun to find teeny tiny pieces of leaf in ones mouth after it melted! It had the very familiar flavor of green tea (think green tea icecream) mixed with what I thought tasted like white chocolate (buttery, not dark). I don’t think it’s pure white chocolate or anything, but there’s probably more cocoa butter than cocoa solids.

Anyway, enough about the chocolate, this is about this fun herbal tea.
While I like rose-water flavored things (icecream for one!), I was a little skeptical about drinking actual tea made from little rose blossoms. Just before the steeping finished though, I smelled the lid of the teapot, and it had such a nice, sweet, subtle, rose aroma. It didn’t quite smell like something I’d want to drink, but it was very pleasing.

The tea (tisane) itself I was a little more doubtful about after smelling; it was quite strong (though, still clear in color). However, the taste was nicely muted. The flavor of rose is definitely present, but not overwhelming. I used 10 buds for 6oz water (1-2 buds per oz). My wife pointed out that I should have used a dozen! This is the perfect tea for such an occasion.

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Thanks to Mel for the sample of this!
I am very skeptical about milk oolong. Not because I’ve had one before, but because I’ve heard so much ‘controversy’ over them, whether you can find a genuine one or whether it is artificially flavored.

Well, I am on my 5th steeping (I think?) and it is still delicious. Actually, in some ways I think it might be getting better!
I didn’t preheat the pot, but simply used the quick rinse with boiling water to preheat it.
I started with steeps just under boiling for 15 seconds, 15 again, 25, 30, and now 40.

The aroma of the heated leaf was delicious, and the color of the liquor was a very clear yellow/green. The taste/aroma was like sweet cream + butter of popcorn. SO good.
The 2nd and 3rd steeps were somewhat muted; I was at this point wondering whether it was genuine or not. Again, not that I’d have anything to go by other than the milk flavor giving out after a steep or two. The 3rd one in particular made my mouth dry, it was somewhat parching, almost like sand paper? It was still decently good though, so I drank it up.

Now to the 5th steeping, the sweet, subtle flowery aftertaste is powerful and fills the throat. We’ll see if it will continue further. Though I’ve had Tie Kuan Yin many times, for my first experience with specifically a ‘milk’ oolong, this is a very good one.

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 45 sec
Geoffrey Norman

If it’s a Ti Guanyin from Quanzhou Province, China, chances are it’s an authentic milk (or silk) oolong. If it’s from Taiwan, it’s a “Jin Xuan” and is merely scented with milk.


I don’t know for sure, because I got it in a swap and it looks like the info. on the tea here is very limited. However, based on the fact that it really had lots of flavor through many infusions, I’m guessing it wasn’t scented or flavored.

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drank Shiawase Cha by Maiko
280 tasting notes

This is a fun tea. I had somewhat high expectations for it, hoping it would be like a ‘high-end’ genmaicha or equivalent.

It is quite sweet from the kukicha (karigane), and the matcha gives it a strong flavor. However, it lacks the long-tasting sweet aftertaste I’ve found a number of good genmaichas have. The kelp isn’t a strongly present flavor (to me at least), but it certainly adds something unique. The main issue besides the lack of the strong aftertaste is that the texture seems a bit thin, especially steeps 2 and on.

That being said, I like this tea, and it might be one I would get from time-to-time (as an alternative to regular genmaicha).

This is my first tea from Maiko, and I have to say, their packaging is awesome!

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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I recommend a ratio of 2 to 1 when it comes to leaf and water. 4g leaf, 2 oz water.

It was pretty strong—not overwhelmingly so—but overall AWESOME!

I made sure everything was pre-warmed with very hot water, to control the temps and make sure the tea was actually warm when it was ready to drink! (The teapot had boiled water sitting in it up to the moment I was ready to add the leaf and the cooled water for the tea).

140 °F / 60 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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I love this tea. It has such a nice underlying toasted quality to it. As others have said, it isn’t a sweet-based sencha, but rather very heavy, strong umami and grassiness. It satisfies the same desire you have when you want a bowl of warm stew. No, it isn’t savory, but it has that same delicious, satisfying effect.

150 °F / 65 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Tea: Japanese greens
Dessert: Creme Brulee
Books: Heaven – Randy Alcorn
Anything by J.R.R. Tolkien
Movie: Field of Dreams
Person: Jesus Christ

But who am I to give you recommendations?
You’ll have to see for yourself!

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