12 Tasting Notes


This is a seasonal Matcha from Uji, Outside of Kyoto (Japan). Seasonal teas are pretty popular in Japan to add excitement and anticipation throughout the years (and drive consumers to purchase tea during the hot summer months).

Uji based Marukyu-Koyamaen is a reputable tea manufacturer and produces unarguably some of the best tea in Japan. I received this tea as a gift from a good friend in Japan…any way, on to the tasting.

The tea is ground to a slightly finer consistency than traditional matcha. I actually thought this would produce clumping in the cold water as I’ve heard that finely ground teas produce more “Static Cling” than other teas and can cause the particles to stick together. I have not experienced that with this tea. I sifted about 3.5 grams of matcha into a bowl and slowly added cold filtered water. I made a slight paste and really noticed the aroma. Its quite savory…i would describe the aroma as heady…mowed grass, roasted nuts and slight savory twang.

Matcha made with cold water produces foam, but less than hot water. The tea was easy to whisk and after about 20 seconds, a slight foam was appeared on the surface. The color is amazing: a deep thick forest green. The tea is very velvety…it has a distinct “cream” note. The aroma is slightly muted (I think due to the cold water) but it has a fresh and grassy taste. This matcha had little astringency (perhaps also due to the cold water?) and is definitely refreshing! Drinking cold matcha, which has a creaminess and a certain weight on your tongue, seems so similar to milk.

If you can find this tea…go for it!

Iced 0 min, 15 sec

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Simply put, this is the most deeply smoked tea I’ve tried.

Lapsang Souchong originated in the Wuyi area of China. Lapsang was a bit of an accident. The movement of armies through the tea region delayed the drying of the years tea leaves and in order to make up for lost time, they used pine fires to speed up the drying process. The flavor and depth of the tea was remarkable, and became highly sought after. The best Lapsang still comes from Wuyi.

Appearance: Deep black and reddish leaves with a moderate amount of stem.

Wet Leaf aroma: Menthol, smoke, pine, tar, clove, seawater, taffy, smoked kippers, bacon

4 grams of tea, 5oz water at 208F, brewed in a gaiwan.
. 1st steep: 3 minutes, 2nd steep: 2 minutes , 3rd steep: 2:30

First steep
The first thing I noticed was a deep aroma of menthol. Lapsang Souchong is fired over pine, and the pine came through as strong as I’ve ever tasted. Deep notes of clove, pine tar, smoked bacon and an oily finish dominated. The flavor of the actual tea leaves was quite mellow in comparison to the smoke. I didn’t mind, but some may find it a bit unbalanced.

Second Steep:
A bit more gentle, but still full on smoke. If you enjoy Islay Scotch, go for this one, as it shares qualities with these scotch’s: Lagavulin, Laphroaig, Talisker and Ardbeg.
The color of the liquor was still a vibrant deep copper.

Third Steep:
A noticeable drop off in flavor in the third steep. No bother though, its all about the first steep! If you can find this tea, BUY IT. I loved it.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Often called “Milk Oolong”, Jing Xuan was developed in 1982. A product of Taiwan’s Tea Research Institute (created by the Japanese during the occupation of WWII), its name means Day Lily (Named in honor of the creators mother)

Appearance: Tightly wound green oolong. Blueish green hue with a moderate amount of stems.
Wet Leaf aroma: fruity, Bread-y, cooked sugar,

4 grams of tea, 5oz water at 195, brewed in a taiwan.
(Rinse with boiling water, 10 seconds). 1st steep: 2 minutes, 2nd steep: 2 minutes , 3rd steep: 2:30

First steep
The first steep was very light. The color was an almost neon green. The dominant notes were fruity (peach?) and floral. Not much depth on the first brew.

Second Steep: The slight creaminess this tea is known for showed itself in the second steep. The fruit and cream together makes for a nice mouthfeel/aroma. This brew was a bit “coppery” with a tropical overtone (pineapple/coconut). Still a bit lacking in the depth department. While it was fresh, was expecting a long lasting finish.

Third/Fourth Steep: The creaminess was already on its way out, replaced by a more noticeable floral scent. I got jasmine, orchid and lily with a hint of citrus (mandarin). The color of the liquor at this point was more golden then green. The wet leaves had opened completely and had a slight “meaty” aroma, similar to chicken soup. (interesting!)

Overall, a lighter brewed than I had hoped for, but fresh and clean. Great if you like floral and fresh oolong.

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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Today I drank a oolong from the Lam Dong region of Vietnam.

The appearance and aroma of the dry leaf looked like a average quality Chinese oolong. The greenish brown leaves were rolled tightly with a moderate amount of stem. The aroma made me think of one thing only: a fruit roll up. VERY FRUITY. Almost like there was some scent (there wasn’t) added.

I rinsed the tea with boiling water and then steeped for 2 mins at about 190F. The aroma of fruit rollup came through in the first steep. The liquor was a pale straw color, golden in fact. Not overly sweet or astringent, I just really found it fruity. The 2nd steep was notably more sophisticated. Notes of chestnut, peach and orchid came through. While the aroma was improving, I felt like the liquor was still a bit limp and watery. Unfortunately, the 3rd steep was as my notes say “more of the same”. An interesting tea for sure, as it always fun to taste teas from Vietnam, but this was not a hit with me specifically. I have another small sample so Ill try it again, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to find more.

190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 45 sec

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I love flowers. Everything about them. Especially the way they smell. I am the guy who literally stops to smell roses…so I am a sucker for good Jasmine. Silk Roads Jasmine pearls have a balanced dry leaf aroma. The Jasmine scent shares the spotlight with a notable “fruity” aroma, like berries or jam. The leaf looks consistent and is really more of a light brown with a striking white stripe that runs along the middle of the pearl. The brown may be due to the fact that Jasmine pearls, while technically green tea, often are slightly oxidized. This helps the tea to absorb the scent of the Jasmine.

The first steep, done with water about 176F, was very light. It tasted like sweet water. Very little aroma in the first cup. On the second steep, I upped the temperature to about 190F (sometimes I forget you can be a bit harder on Chinese greens) and low and behold, I got the depth I was looking for. The jasmine scent was balanced now by a nice “pull” of astringency. The hotter water really brought out the dry taste of the tea. I was trying to taste the actually flavor of the green tea, which is hard to do with so much of what you are getting being Jasmine. The tea itself, even before being scented, is high quality. It had a slight vegetal zing and a savory after taste. Nice.

Ok, so the tea really got interesting after the 2nd steep. The 3rd was the most balanced so far. The leaves, now very open, seemed to really give up the goods. A deep briny liquor and delicate jasmine aroma really worked together. The Jasmine in this tea is not cloying or over sweet as in some lesser quality teas. I liked that the tea and the scent were partners, and not fighting for the spot light. The 4th steep continued the trend and I even drank a 5th too. The color of the liquor was a golden chestnut and the pale green leaves continued to open.

I really enjoyed this…a sophisticated Jasmine pearl is hard to find in the sea of tea thats out there. Try this. You wont be disappointed!

190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 45 sec

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Dry leaf appearance/aroma: This green tea is interesting visually as the leaves are actually comma shaped. This noticeable twists come from shaping that happens during the drying phase. The pan firing of the tea also brings the moisture level a bit lower than other Japanese teas and you can really see it: less glossy than traditional sencha. The aroma is grassy and sweet, and almost a bit salty like sea air.

5 grams of tea, 3.5 oz of water, steeped for 50 seconds.

First Steep:
Big aroma of cooked greens and nori. Soupy green liquor with notable (though not overbearing) astringency and a light umami. I am used to Tama Ryokucha style teas being a bit on the lighter side, but this one is very deep green.This one has a bit of a citrus note as well and I am noticing more minerality as I continue drinking.

Second steep:
Much lighter. This one gives up the goods on the first steep (something about Kyushu teas, they seem to do this). More translucent liquor and heightened “cooked greens” flavor.

This tea is bit our of balance for my tastes…a little too astringent. Very fresh though, and this tea maker has a great reputation for making high quality tea. This one just wasn’t my favorite.

175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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drank Ruschka by Mariage Frères
12 tasting notes

Appearance: Deep black leaves slightly curled.

Dry leaf aroma: This tea smells like Early Grey. The package says “A secretive tea, scented with essences of citrus and other fruits, dotted with silver needles.” There is definitely bergamot and lemon peel, maybe even lime? I don’t see any silver needle though…hmm.

Covered the bottom of gaiwan, water at 208F. 1st steep 3 mins. 2nd steep 2 min. 3rd steep 2 mins.

First Steep:
As I mentioned, this tea seems to be an Early Grey. The aroma is all citrus: lots of bergamot, lemon peel, a bit of orange and perhaps lime. (It honestly reminds me of the yellow Trix cereal). The tea itself has a nice balance, although maybe a bit too much bergamot for some. The liquor is a little bit sour, which I like as it blends with the citrus note in the aroma. The color of the tea is beautiful. A firey red-orange. The tea is smooth with little rough edges (the leaf is of better quality than many blends I think).

Second Steep:
The aroma is still quite strong. The tea is a bit less lemony and the taste slightly less sour. I think the 2nd steep is very similar to standard Earl Grey’s (think Twining’s). Color is still a deep orange.

Third Steep:
STILL a deep color. A surprisingly sophisticated flavor remains…the tea has sweetened up a bit and the balance of citrus and the body of the tea are in a nice place.

If you like early grey, you should try this. No doubt, Mariage Frères makes high quality tea. The blends are sophisticated and the tea itself is of really nice quality. While I don’t often drink blends, this is a company that seems to do them right.

Listening: was feeling dramatic: put on Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3 during this tasting.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Appearance: This medium roast Dong Ding is on the greener side. The tight pellets are brownish green in the middle, like boiled spinach, and lighten inwards with the stem a copperish brown.

Dry leaf aroma: fruity (peach, apricot) with a but of a charcoal overtone

Covered the bottom of gaiwan, water at 190F. 1st steep 2 mins. 2nd steep 1 min. 3rd steep 2 mins. 4th steep 3 mins.
First rinsed with boiling water for 10 seconds and discarded.

First Steep:
A light first steep. An aroma of stone fruit (peaches, nectarine, apricot) and not a whole lot of body. The leaves have opened probably 40%.

Second steep:
More full bodied. Coppery color with a more savory taste. The fruit is still there but the flavor of the roasting is much more pronounced. Noticing a light drying astringency but it is balanced. The leaves are probably open 70%.

Third steep:
Getting more of honey note on this one…like a lighter honey. A bit of a floral note as well. The roasted character of the tea remains but is less noticeable. Also getting a very small amount of a wood-sy note, like a sawed piece of lumber…i like it!
leaves have opened probably 85%.

Fourth steep:
Still going…this steep resembles the 2nd, savory with a pronounced freshness.

Take Away:
Nice tea. Not the deepest or most fragrant Dong Ding/Tun Ting I have ever had, but a nice example of a Nantou oolong. Taiwan certainly makes some of the best oolong on the planet. The price seems reasonable so give it a try.

190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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drank zhuyeqing by Seven Cups
12 tasting notes

Appearance: Beautifully shaped light green buds with very few young leaves.

Dry Leaf aroma: slightly medicinal, hint of bourbon, fresh.

4 grams of tea, 4oz water at 180 F, brewed in a gaiwan.
1st steep: 2.5 mins, 2nd steep: 3 mins, 3rd steep: 3.5 mins

First steep:
deep orange liquor. Pervasive medicinal aroma, very herbaceous and plant-y with a dry finish. Not much sweetness. A bit of a toasted note. The astringency is reminiscent of Amaro or some other type of herb liqueur. A little hint of smoke on the end too. I think this would be interesting for people who like less sweet more potent tea.

Second steep:
Much lighter liquor. The vegetal notes are more pronounced. Dominate note is cooked artichoke…or maybe asparagus…no, its artichoke. kind of reminds me of chrysanthemum tea…

Third steep:
Very light liquor and subdued taste. Still a pervasive medicinal/herb aroma. Not a great third steep.

If you are a whisky, bourbon, or spirits drinker, try this tea. Has a lot in common (dry, vegetal, a bit smoky) with dryer alcohol. Fun to drink, and I happen to like dry teas, but avoid if you are looking for something sweet

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Appearance: needle like leaves that are dark green and matte with specks of neon green (stems).

Dry Leaf aroma: fruity, nori, cut grass, hay

6 grams of tea, 4oz water at 170, brewed in a kyusu.
1st steep: 45 second, 2nd steep: 15 seconds, 3rd steep: 30 seconds

First steep: deep green liquor. Very sweet and a bit soupy ( 6 grams is on the high side). There was very little astringency. Dominate notes were sweet grass, hay, subtle wild flower, ) and a fruity sweetness.

Second steep: more of a golden hue in the liquor. Still plenty of flavor. A bit more of a drying minerality come through on this one, kind of like sucking on a pebble! yum…
The floral notes were definitely stronger on round 2 as well. I could also taste the firing of the tea more in the second steep…comes through as an aftertaste that is reminiscent of hot metal…sounds strange, but its in there!

Third steep: Still great color and aroma, but sweetness and mouthfeel are gone.

Overall a nice and easy drinking sencha that is still complex. Has the nice Uji taste and aroma (wildflower) and as I said, is not too over powering. Great tea to get you into drinking senchas.


170 °F / 76 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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I love tea, music, design, and art. Owner of Kettl, a tea and design company focused on the best teas from Japan.

I love all tea, but Japanese greens, Chinese black and Puerh, and Tiawanese oolongs are usually at the top of my list.


Brooklyn, NY



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