818 Tasting Notes

I’ve really been in a shu mood, enjoying special dark yesterday and this one today. This is still super creamy. The most prominent note I get is wood, but like most ripe puerhs I’ve had, it gets sweeter in the later infusions. Mmm, sweet creamy wood! :)

Since I’m traveling to Arizona next week for work, I’m trying to enjoy teas that are better enjoyed at home before I go. I just got the sheng sampler in the mail! Woot! To drink today? Or tomorrow? That is the question!

Btw, steepster is particularly sucky today. Hopefully this will post!

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drank Special Dark by Mandala Tea
818 tasting notes

You know you’re in love with a tea when you have a hard time tossing out the leaves after drinking infusions of the tea all day. The tea leaves are just so precious! I remembered too late that some people put the leaves into a cold brew after enjoying their session…next time!!

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I’ve enjoyed this one a few times, but never got around to writing a note. To be honest, this tea didn’t smell or taste like I was expecting, but it’s really grown on me. Don’t expect it to taste like the usual white tea. It brews up darker, almost like a light black or oolong, and yet, it is lighter in texture and flavor. I think all the flavor notes in the name are there, but overall, it’s probably more butterscotch-y than anything else. I really like it in the afternoon. I haven’t brewed it in a glass steeper, but I have a feeling it would be very pretty served that way.

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Yay! Another puerh to try! Garret included a sample of this tea in my last order. Thank you!!

I’ve been drinking this tea all day…I’ve probably steeped it 20 times by now. Telework days are good for that. I might have to invest in a portable gaiwan set to take to the office with me so that I can enjoy puerh there too, but limiting my sessions to days when I’m at home keeps up the excitement, so maybe not. ;) Plus, not being able to drink puerh at work will force me to drink the other teas in my cupboard! I think pumpkin chai might be on the list for tomorrow. :)

In the first few steeps, there was a strong tobacco note, but that faded into a nice smooth sweetness that goes on and on forever! It’s definitely a fruity sweetness, a stone-fruity sweetness. Yum! It’s got this thickness to it, like nectar. Double yum! So glad to have tried it. Puerh FTW!


This has a “spicy” note for me on the years I have tried. Very good tea.


I have this but haven’t had a chance to make some yet – I’m looking forward to it. :)

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Getting down to the last bits of this tea. Will probably have to add the little bit left to something else in order to make a cup of it. This tea is one of the first straight black teas where I discovered that black teas could taste different than “black tea” and have interesting notes like malt and raisins. I’m now quite the lover of unflavored black teas and continue to be surprised and enjoy how absolutely different good black teas can taste, from cocoa and smoky notes, to sweet potato, honey, fruity, or even artichoke notes. I love them all! Now I have a hard time getting to the flavored teas in my cupboard because the unflavored ones are just so darn good!


Haha I’m with you on flavoured and unflavoured. And straight blacks. :)


I agree, unflavoured blacks are a wonderful thing. So many interesting notes weaving in and out.

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There are a couple tea pages for Temple Stairs, but not specifically for this version, so I added it.

Thank you Garret, for adding this sample to my order!!! I’ve found that I need to drink puerh early in the day or I’m up all night! That last sheng I had really kept me up! Today I have a scratchy sore throat, but I don’t feel sick. I need a good tea to help soothe it! I wasn’t sure I should try a new tea with a sore throat, but I did it anyway!

I like the samples from Garret, as they’re already portioned out, and I don’t have to think about how much leaf I should put in the pot…I just dump the whole sample. I might need to invest in a small scale…any other tricks? I’m trying to remember how the perfectly portioned out samples look in my little pot and then I’ll just copy that amount.

Two 15sec rinses.
30sec: nice earthy, cocoa, a bit leather/cedar notes.
45sec: similar, more leather/cedar…maybe a hint of mint or cinnamon? Something that has that effect.
1min: smooth, very dark, it’s smoothing over my sore throat. It also feels like it is clearing my nose out. Interesting. I just love the color of ripe puerh…that red hue is awesome.
1min15sec: ooh, smells sweeter…I just stuck my nose it it like a dork! Haha! Oops! This tea is having a major calming effect on me…I feel so blissful right now!
1min30sec: that sweet smell is like caramel-sweet, not fruity-sweet. Mmmm!
1min45sec: definitely a light caramel sweetness coming through and the earthy flavors are fading now.
2min30sec: light caramel, hint of cinnamon.
3min, 5min, and 7min steeps: caramel sweetness.

Overall, very enjoyable, and I wouldn’t mind some more of it!

I love how I can just drink any puerh now and enjoy the experience. There was a time, not that long ago, when I dumped cups of puerh! I know, the horror!!! I think Garret, and Angel at Teavivre, can take the credit for that renaissance in my tea journey. :)


scale will change your life. you will be surprised 3g for one type of tea or the other completely different. Also some puerh has lots of caffeine and another will make you sleepy. you never know. i had one shou last night, after 2 gongfu cups knocked me out. Slept like a baby ;-)


Nice! I think you’re right about how some puerhs affect you differently. This one made me so happy and relaxed! Any recommendations for where to get a scale?


I don’t get much energy from the shous I’ve tried so far. Sometimes shengs really get me buzzing though! I got a small digital postal scale on amazon for like $10. Works awesome!


Thanks, Sarsonator…I just wish-listed one on amazon. :)


Thanks, looseTman! That looks like a great option!


You’re welcome. We’ve had our scale for over a year and couldn’t be happier. It’s much easier to make a consistent cup of tea no matter the size of the tea leaves. It’s not easy to measure large leaves with a teaspoon.

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I couldn’t wait to try this one with all the amazing reviews and people worried it will be out of stock. Since I’m still new to the puerh world, I only bought a sample of this one, but still, it’s good for 4 whole amazing experiences, right? :)

I also used my new tawny dragon tea set to make this tea. The little pot is awesome! Pours so nice! The cup, and actually the pot, gets really hot to the touch, though. Fortunately the pot has a handle, but I have to let the little cup cool a bit before drinking. Now I know why it would be a good idea to have coasters for your teacups! Just looking at the cup relaxes me though…it’s color and shape has that effect.

There was a big piece of the cake in my sample, which I estimated to be about the right size for a serving, so I just plopped it into my tawny dragon and poured two rinses of 10 seconds each.

My first steeping to drink was 15 seconds. It came out pretty light. Very mild, slightly sweet, hint of tang, hint of smoke/camphor…whatever it is! ;) Creamy. I followed that up with a crapload of steepings, probably around 14 or 15, each 15 seconds longer until I hit 3 minute steeps and then stayed there. I did one last hurrah steep for 5 minutes too. I think I actually got tea drunk! The liquor was absolutely beautiful throughout…a pretty copper color. As I steeped, the taste became more astringent and then less so, turning into a very smooth stone-fruit tea. The astringency was kind of a lot at the beginning, which made me want to keep going to coax out the fruity note. It worked, but it took a lot of steepings. My favorites steepings were toward the end of my session. I’m thinking either I used too much leaf, or the water was too hot, or maybe it’s just me? Any recommendations for the best way to brew this one? I’d like to be able to coax out that fruity note sooner, if possible. Fortunately I have more leaf to enjoy!

Oh, and that tawny dragon pot has now become my new best friend…I might just start gong fu-ing everything now! Ha!


I hope this is in the Sheng sampler Mandala offers this month.

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drank Ruby Black Tea by Health&Tea
818 tasting notes

Stephanie threw this into our swap as a bonus! Yay! Thanks, Stephanie! I’ve had a ruby black before and at the time it tasted like artichokes to me. The minute I got a whiff of this one, I definitely got that artichoke scent again, and unsurprisingly, it tastes like artichokes too! So weird, but kinda good, actually. ;) This tea also had nice malty notes and I think a fruity note as well. Very enjoyable, especially if you like artichokes! Ha!

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drank Mulberry Magic by DAVIDsTEA
818 tasting notes

I bought this ages ago, like a year ago, and I remember not liking it too much. It brews up this weird green color and at the time I thought it just tasted weird and herbal. Tonight, I like it a bit more, and probably will not have a hard time finishing the bag. I added a few pieces of rock sugar and brewed it for 3 minutes. The result was a sweet, nutty, and slightly herb-y blend. Not great, but definitely better than last year. Ah, how tastes change!

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I’ve been curious about this tea for awhile now. I asked for some in a recent swap with Stephanie and she sent it nicely wrapped in aluminum foil to hold in the scent. Thanks, Stephanie!

It smelled like the kind of flavor that would be delicious iced, so that’s what I did and it tastes delicious! So refreshing! I get a lot of blackberry, maybe a hint of lime, and the base tastes a lot like a black tea to me, but lighter in flavor. I didn’t add any sugar. This could definitely be a favorite iced tea, but I bet it would also be good hot with a scone. Yum!


I love this one! :O


Me too! I’ve never iced it, but I have cold brewed it.


Glad you enjoyed it. I really like this one iced, for sure :)

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Another profile facelift! My tastes have changed a lot from when I first discovered loose leaf tea.

I can trace my tea journey back to October 2012, when I discovered DavidsTea. Before that, I had the occasional cup and enjoyed high tea at An Afternoon to Remember, which has since closed.

I went through a period of wanting to try all the teas, and was really into flavored teas, especially dessert blacks, but my tastes have substantially changed over time.

I still enjoy the occasional flavored black or rooibos, but I’m more into unflavored black teas right now and recently, puerh. Chinese black teas are amazing…with their notes of chocolate or sweet potato, who needs a flavored tea? I had a much steeper learning curve when it came to puerh. I used to dump out cups of puerh for tasting like leather. Now, I am really enjoying them. I think it took finding good quality puerh and steeping them gong fu style to really enjoy them.

I also, on occasion, enjoy a good oolong, white, or green tea.

Favorite tea companies right now include: Mandala, Teavivre, Butiki, Golden Moon, Lupicia, and DavidsTea (for teaware mostly).

Just a note: I don’t rate my teas numerically because my iPad doesn’t like the scroll bar. Maybe someday that will change…hint hint, steepster! ;)

P.S. My profile picture is of one of my 2 cats, Holly, who is a little princess but very photogenic, and she loves boxes, including those that bring me tea! :)


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