818 Tasting Notes

drank Silver Needle by Teance
818 tasting notes

A friend of mine gave me a bag of this tea a long time ago. I never opened it because I thought that would save the freshness until I wanted to enjoy it. I have the April 2013 harvest…which is over a year ago, so I was a little worried it would not still be good. It tastes absolutely delightful! Nice and light, smooth, crisp, and I get light melon notes, as indicated by the package. I will definitely be enjoying this one now that it’s open. :)

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I haven’t had this one in awhile and thought it would be the perfect wake-up tea this morning. I only had a little over two servings left, so I decided to add the one extra pearl to my cup this morning for an extra kick in the pants. Bad idea. My cup was very burnt tasting. I had to add extra sugar because I sure as heck wasn’t going to waste the brew! In the end I got through it and it was a kick in the pants. At least I have one more perfect serving to do this tea a proper positive sipdown at another time. It would have been tragic for the last cup of this tea to go down like that!

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This is my last ripe puerh to try from the sampler. I was excited to try it because the description sounded so lovely…who wouldn’t like light cocoa, vanilla, fig, and prune? I drank it gongfu-style with my pseudo gaiwan setup. I enjoyed eight infusions and I have to say this puerh is incredibly inoffensive. There is a strong creaminess that lasted throughout my session….so good! I bet this would be a great starter puerh, but it also makes me wonder if I hadn’t tried more pungent ones first whether I would truly have enjoyed this one as much as I did. The earthiness is there, but there are no sharp notes. I also detected the light cocoa, vanilla, and dried fruit notes. I think prune is a good characterization for the fruit note. Overall, this is my second favorite from the sampler, behind special dark. It’s not quite at “my precious!” level, but definitely a comforting cup!

Cameron B.

I’m a puerh novice and I loved this one. :D


So, it IS good for newbies!!! I’m pretty new too, but had tried a few before the mandala sampler and didn’t like them. There were a couple I couldn’t even drink the cup of before, so dumped the cup! The horror, I know! This sampler was such an awesome way to try a bunch of different ones. It really helped show me that puerh isn’t scary and there are a few I might like. :)


Sounds good. I’m looking forward to trying mine but haven’t had a chance yet.. I’ve been thinking about which of the ones in the sampler to try first – maybe this one. :)


It’s very pleasant, caile. I say, go for it!


caile It’s very gentle and not in your face like “I’M A SHUUUU”. It be a good one to start with :3

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drank Downy Sprout by Samovar
818 tasting notes

I had the pleasure today of going out to tea with some close coworkers, one of which is in high level management and has amazing advice. We decided to go to Samovar. The server was so surprised we were actually going to sit in for tea, because a few of us are known to drop in for a quick chai to go. Their chai is awesome! It was so relaxing to sit down today and enjoy the ambiance. We each ordered something different…a chai, an oolong, lapsang, and I ordered this tea. The manager with us ordered the lapsang with a little milk…interesting choice and I would say appropriate because she is quite bold, just like the tea. :)

On to this tea. They served it gaiwan-style, which is always nice, but I think they put in too much leaf because no matter how short I steeped the tea, it was always bitter. Ugh. I’ve had that problem before with an oolong of theirs served this way. If it hadn’t been bitter, I would have greatly enjoyed it. It has a very silky and thick mouthfeel and reminds me of buttery veggies. Honestly, it seemed closer to a green tea than a white tea. It was still pleasant to drink with friends but again, too much leaf.

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drank Special Dark by Mandala Tea
818 tasting notes

I think I’ve just fallen in love with a ripe puerh! How can that be? Wow, what a reversal! This tea definitely lives up to its name. It’s clearly “special!” I feel like Gollum right now….“my precious!”

This tea completely distracted me from the Filipino pastry (hopya, for those who know) I set out to eat. Ya, it’s that good!

15sec rinse, smells like chocolate!

30sec: earthy, sweet, unsweetened cocoa, dark chocolate bite rather than a sharp cedar or leather note, hint of dried fruit?

45 sec: so dark! unsweetened bakers chocolate, wood, plum, smells like vanilla.

1min: OMG, it smells even sweeter! I could just inhale this all day!

1min30sec: lighter in aroma, and then OMG, amazing taste…this just keeps getting better! Smoother, still bakers chocolate, bread-y.

2min: smells so sweet! Keeps getting smoother and sweeter. Honey, like honey wheat bread.

2min30sec: keeps lightening up, still honey sweetness, more smooth, vanilla.

3min: honey, vanilla.

5min: pure honey water! Yum!

I could drink this all day! It would be delicious with a scone…that’s key!! ;) This is a “must buy” for me. I’m so happy I enjoy a ripe puerh! Yay! :D

Thank you, Garret, for offering the sampler!

Okay, time to eat my hopya!


Shu makes me feel like “My precious” every time I drink it

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drank Caramel & Rum by Lupicia
818 tasting notes

Sipdown! A sad one, indeed. This tea helped me get through a very stressful afternoon at work today. It probably wasn’t that stressful, but I am SO FRIED! Anyhoo, I love this tea. It’s probably my favorite rooibos blend. Will definitely have to restock. Gotta have this delicious creamy rum tea around!!!

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Angel sent me this tea for review! Thank you!! I’m so grateful to be able to sample some raw puerhs. :)

After yesterday’s excitement of the 2013 old tree raw puerh, I was looking forward to trying this one for comparison. I think some samples of raw puerh will be going on my wishlist. I again brewed this up with my pseudo gaiwan set up. Here are my notes:

Tangy aroma of dry leaf. Wet leaf aroma is more pleasant than the puerh I tried yesterday… It doesn’t make me cough! Ha!

15sec: Really mild, no astringency, tastes like a roasted oolong.
30sec: more flavor, still oolong-like, a little astringent, some tobacco there but in background.
45sec: oolong-like, subtle note of dried fruit,
1min: similar to last steep.
1min30sec: smoother, sweeter.
2min: sweet, like an aged oolong.

Overall, this is fine, but it was a bit boring for me after trying the old tree puerh. I think maybe it has to do with how young it is. Maybe once it ages for awhile, it will have more complexity. The one I loved yesterday was a year older….can they really change that much in a year? What do really old raw puerhs taste like? I’m just embarking on my raw puerh journey, and I have so many questions! So excited to try more!


Glad that you tried two raw puerh to compare .This 2014 produced raw puerh taste better next year. Actually, the puerh tea is varied from time to time. And also the taste and flavor are related to the storage condition. So i don’t know what old raw puerhs taste like. But if you stored it in good condition, the tea will become more complicated and changable.
Good luck.


Thanks, TeaVivre! I’ll have to try this one again after some time passes!

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This morning, this tea tastes totally different than the last time I had it. Before, the flavors weren’t really peeking out, but it was smooth. Today, it’s like the best of both chocolate-y black teas and sweet potato black teas came together and made a baby! Yum! Quite fabulous! If I rated teas numerically, this would be raised quite a bit. :)

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Angel generously sent me a sample of this tea for review. I jumped at the chance to try some raw puerh, as I’ve never had any. I was a little afraid of it, as the ripe puerhs have been hard for me to really enjoy, but I noticed from reviews that raw puerhs were quite different. So, I made this in my pseudo gaiwan setup. Really need a gaiwan.

The aroma of the dry leaf was quite zippy! It had a tang to it. I put half the packet in my little teacup aka gaiwan and rinsed it twice for 10 seconds each. I really don’t know what I’m doing as far as gong fu style steeping of a raw puerh, but I was copying others and also kind of winging it.

My first steeping was 15 seconds. The aroma of the wet leaf had a strong tobacco note that made me cough! The taste however, was surpringly pleasant! I got notes of tobacco smoke, mint….maybe that’s that camphor quality people talk about. Honestly it was like a smokey green tea. Much more accessible than ripe to me! Yay! I’m really surprised because I didn’t think I’d like it.

Second steep (25 sec) had more tang, was more astringent, and I think I got a little wood note. The smoke note is sweet, maybe like pipe smoke?

The third steep (~40 sec) was similar to the second, but the fourth steep (1min) was softer, less astringent, and kind of toasty.

With the fifth steep (1min30sec), there was a dominant floral note! It was also sweeter Wow! Really good!

I finished with a sixth steep at 2 minutes which was similar to the fifth.

Overall, I’m really impressed, and extremely surprised I liked it. Yay! I like puerh! :D


Awesome! Raw puerh is so special :)


I know! I’m so glad to join the raw puerh club! ;)

Terri HarpLady

Yay, another convert! :D


@Terri: haha! :)

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I ordered a sample of this tea in my last order, as I thought it would be fun to try another version of the yunnan Dian hong. I love the golden tips one so much! This version is darker, more malty, but still has some sweet potato goodness. I think I prefer the golden tips, but I wouldn’t pass this up if it was offered to me!


Sweet potato…yum!

Lariel of Lórien

This and the golden tips make good breakfast teas.


I totally agree, Lariel!

Terri HarpLady

Any tea that tastes like sweet potato is awesome in my book :)

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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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