drank Qi Lan by Teas Etc
1997 tasting notes

I definitely smell the cocoa notes described in the dry leaf. There’s also something gently spicy, like a savory spiced bread but not garlic-y.

195F, progressively longer steeps in the gaiwan starting at 15 seconds after rinsing.

The tea is a light copper color. I get tobacco notes in the aroma, as well as cognac. But the flavor is unexpectedly, naturally sweet. I don’t taste honeysuckle, more something fruity. Peachy. The cocoa/tobacco come through in the flavor as well. This is a fascinating tea — so many flavors and levels of complexity. The cup smells like honey after the tea is gone.

The second steep is more amber in color than copper. More stonefruit than chocolate/tobacco, but still with something brandy-like about it in the aroma. The flavor has all kinds of complexity. Angrboda was right about the chameleon nature of this tea, though the flavors I get aren’t what she does. I see what she means about the mint, though I don’t taste mint. I get a freshness in the mouth reminiscent of mint. Honestly, I could drink this all day — it’s smooth and easy to drink. Definitely worth the time. I’m sad that they no longer have this on the Teas Etc. web site.

Maybe I’m just in the mood, but this is coming across to me as one of the more enjoyable dark oolongs I’ve experienced. The third steep has a mineral hint in the aroma and a peach/peach pit smell. It does not smell like it would have any sweetness in the flavor, and yet it does, with a cocoa finish and a tobacco/brandy aftertaste.

Between the third and fourth steep, I started to notice what I think Angrboda meant by cinnamon. It’s not a flat out cinnamon flavor for me, but it’s reminiscent of that. Like having powdered cinnamon on the tongue but without the intensity/bitterness. All of the flavors mentioned persist into the fourth steep with almost no loss of flavor.

I’m going to put this through a few more steeps. It’s a wonderful tea.

Flavors: Brandy, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Mineral, Peach, Stonefruit, Tobacco

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I got obsessed with tea in 2010 for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it. I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I write fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I drink tea without additives. If a tea needs milk or sugar to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’ll rate it high. The exception is chai, which I drink with milk/sugar or substitute. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs, but as my tastes developed they became less appealing — I still enjoy nicely done blends. I do not mix well with tulsi or yerba mate, and savory teas are more often a miss than a hit with me. I used to hate hibiscus, but I’ve turned that corner. Licorice, not so much.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. But I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas in relation to others of the same type, for example, Earl Greys against other Earl Greys. But if a tea rates very high with me, it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is

90-94 Excellent; first rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Very good; will likely buy more

70-79 Good; would enjoy again, might buy again

60-69 Okay; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but likely won’t buy again

Below 60 Meh, so-so, iffy, or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

I don’t swap. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I have way more tea than any one person needs and am not lacking for new things to try. Also, I have way too much going on already in daily life and the additional commitment to get packages to people adds to my already high stress level. (Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.)

That said, I enjoy reading folks’ notes, talking about what I drink, and getting to “know” people virtually here on Steepster so I can get ideas of other things I might want to try if I can ever again justify buying more tea. I also like keeping track of what I drink and what I thought about it.

My current process for tea note generation is described in my note on this tea: https://steepster.com/teas/mariage-freres/6990-the-des-impressionnistes


Bay Area, California



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