I have a sample of the 2009, which is what I’ll be talking about.

After yesterday’s awesome sheng, it seemed unlikely anything could live up to that. But this is a pretty close second.

As an aside, I think it actually benefits me when it comes to pu erh that I have so much tea. I probably got this when it was relatively young, and it now has had the benefit of age. A lot of the pu erhs in my stash, especially the sheng samples, are close to or over 10 years old.

The leaves of this don’t smell much and believe it or not, what they do smell like to me is urine. However, that is not what the steeped tea smells or tastes like (I am not pulling a Howard Hughes here, I promise).

I rinsed and let the leaves sit for 15 minutes before steeping 5/5/7/7/10/10/20/30/40/60 at boiling in the gaiwan.

Actually, that’s not quite true. The first time I tried to steep this I was doing about 3 other things at the same time, and it wasn’t until the timer was at around 6 out of 15 that I realized I’d actually put leaves in to steep rather than letting them sit after a rinse. I made the mistake of trying the resulting tea, which was really, really bitter and unpleasant.

The second time around I did better, though I did have to leave for my 11 a.m. appointment after the second 10 second steep. I resumed when I returned about an hour and a half later.

If I hadn’t read the other notes, I probably wouldn’t have identified a smoky note — but yes, a touch is there in both the aroma and the flavor. There is none of yesterday’s medicinal flavor, not even after the first steep.

Instead, it heads straight into a rather consistent flavor that is somewhat similar to yesterday’s sheng (also a Norbu) but without the occasional foray into medicinal, melon, or other things.

This one has the same sort of toffee-coffee-cocoa note, which as I ruminate on it is more like white chocolate than anything else. More of a sort of buttery reminder of cocoa than actual cocoa.

No. 2 tasted some and agreed with me. But then he said what he always says about tea: “it tastes like leaves.”

The liquor is rather consistently a light golden yellow and clear.

I’m so glad that after all this time I’ve gotten over my fear of pu erh. It’s been a very interesting and rewarding adventure so far.

Flavors: Butter, Cocoa, Coffee, Smoke, Toffee, White Chocolate


Another convert!

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Another convert!

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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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