This is a sample I’ve had for a really long time, but never opened. I am really pleased that I finally did.

This is unlike any pu-erh I have had to date, and in a very good way. I rinsed twice and then steeped in the gaiwan with boiling water for 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 60, 120, 240, 260 and 480 seconds. And for once, I didn’t feel in a rush to get through the steeps.

Because this tastes more like a Yunnan black to me than a pu erh. Yes, it has something of an earthiness to it that makes me know it is pu erh. But unlike other shus I have had recently, this one’s primary flavor profile isn’t earth, leather, and mushrooms.

Instead, this has a sugary sweetness to it. The note starts as a dark and heavy one, like molasses and evolves into brown sugar by around the sixth steep. Around the second steep, I even got something a little like cocoa. I hesitate to call this malty, because it doesn’t have the sort of depth I associate with maltiness, but it is mild and smooth.

There was a slight fishiness coming from the packet, but it washed completely away in the rinse. The liquor started very dark, like bourbon, and over time lightened up to a more medium amber.

While the tea didn’t undergo a dramatic transformation, it was sweetly delicious throughout.

I’m a little afraid I liked it because it wasn’t like pu erh. But who’s counting?

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Earth, Molasses


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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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