911 Tasting Notes

drank Yunnan Noir by Adagio Teas
911 tasting notes

Okay, I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority here, but I love Adagio’s new bags. They are cute and I like the feel of them and even the samples are resealable. I don’t know about everyone else, but I have a big box filled with empty tea tins – I don’t need more of them to clutter up my pantry. Yay for bags!

And yay for cute little leaves! These are little black and gold not-quite-pellets and smell malty and fruity sweet and possibly a little cocoa-y. The leaves unfurl easily while steeping and brew into a pretty dark liquid. Mmm, that smells very rich, sweet, smooth and malty.

Maybe my taste buds are wonky because everything is tasting sweet to me. Or maybe I’m just gravitating towards sweeter teas… Anyway, this one definitely tastes sweet. Sweet with a hint of grain (barley-ish?), smooth, a little bright fruity (plum? fig? blackberry?) on the front, a tiny hint of toasty on the end. It’s a very smooth tea that is surprisingly mild. The aftertaste really seems to stick around which makes the mildness of the next sip surprising. As it cools, a little astringency builds up but only to the ‘refreshing’ level, not the ‘uncomfortable’ or ‘unpleasant’ and makes the toasty want to turn into smoky (though it doesn’t quite make it there). And my empty cup is giving me whiffs of hot chocolate, which is interesting since I didn’t really pick up any cocoa notes in the taste.

This is actually very pleasant. Definitely recommended to anyone that likes the smoother Panyang or Fuijian type teas. (Yes, I know, Yunnan Noir is the name, but it’s so fruity sweet and smooth that I can’t help but associate it mentally with Panyang or Fuijian teas, just a slightly stouter version of them.)

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Well, I don’t know if it’s all that strange to make the comparison, myself! The Golden Monkey you sent me to try (which I now own, yay) has some qualities that are very strongly like those in the Emperor’s Gold I have a tin of.

Maybe one of the people on steepster with seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of tea processing methods and history can illuminate the reasons for this. I’m looking at you, Thomas Smith. ^.-


Hahah – I was thinking of the same need for encyclopedic knowledge! :)
I suppose ultimately they are all Chinese blacks so it’s not surprising there is some similarity? I just tend to think of Yunnans as being a little stouter/bolder and this one is milder and sweeter than I would anticipate. Of course, a year ago when I got fruity notes from a Yunnan, I thought I had stored it wrong (next to a fruit-flavored tea). So who’s to say my ideas now aren’t as off as that idea was? (And yay for Golden Monkey!)

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Oooh, great aroma. The dry leaves smell very sweet – like candied citrus. Once brewed, the smell citrus comes through stronger but it’s still very sweet smelling.

And wow at the taste. Very citrusy. But not harsh. Again, I’m going to go with candied citrus, possibly because it is and possibly because I’ve been up for only 15 minutes and my brain is merely limping along so I can’t think of anything else. I can’t really say, “Oh, this is the bergamot, this is the lemon”, it’s just all citrusy-fresh and sweet in a way that makes me think of my favorite heirloom navel oranges – they are very sweet with just a slight tang of citrusy sharpness, and so is this tea. The citrus isn’t refreshingly tangy or anything. It’s just sweet. (That’s okay, I like sweet.)

There is a hint of astringency on the end of some sips. Also, the flavoring starts to feel a little strong/perfume-y as it floats up the back of my throat into my sinuses, but it’s a wet, sweet perfume-y instead of a dry, floral perfume-y so I’m okay with it. I do feel the flavoring almost needs a little taming, but I think sugar would make it too sweet and milk might kill the flavors too much.

The aftertaste is a little tart as it builds in my mouth and there isn’t a whole lot of the tea base flavor coming through. But it’s not a rough nor harsh tea so I suppose I will forgive it these little quirks.

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Apparently, I am not done with caffeine today! (Thankfully the fine tremors from earlier teas have stopped.) At the husband’s request, I’ve made one of the new EGs for us to try out. He’s had a tough day, he deserves some happy tea.

The dry leaf smells very whoosh menthol of lavender. My sinuses are a little stuffy but this stuff has got to help that.

I’m going to attempt to go additive-less on this one (because the last thing I need is caffeine and sugar). The liquid smells both bergamot-y and lightly menthol-lavender… which oddly combines in my nose to make me think of the smell of fake crab, but maybe sweeter?

The taste, thankfully, doesn’t remind me of fake crab. It seems to be evenly bergamot and lavender – if one pushes forward more I can’t tell which one it is – but the aftertaste is more lavender. There’s not a whole lot of tea base taste here – it’s fairly mild – but it’s also smooth and the overall feeling and taste is very easy so I’m okay with that. There’s no real astringency or bitterness, even after a 4minute steep, so I don’t feel like it needs additives at all.

Probably not the smartest move, having a caffeinated tea at 10pm, but hopefully it will work out just fine as this tea is fairly smooth and relaxing, not bold and energetic. I find it nicely enjoyable.

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I’m fairly over-caffeinated right now after about 2L of tea today and not all that much food. But I’m having so much fun with my new teas that I’m just going to ignore the slight tremor in my hands because I really wanted to get to this tea today. Good thing I don’t need to go to sleep early tonight!

These leaves are (relatively) larger and not as uniform as CTG’s Keemun and Adagio’s Anhui Keemun. Any chance there is a correspondence between leaf size and tea quality?

The dry leaves smell very… starchy? Bready? Toasty? It’s very different from Adagio’s Anhui Keemun but is still attractive. Brewed up, it smells smoky and starchy. I’m oddly reminded of plantains. And something raw/green that reminds me of a Nilgiri.

The taste managed to surprise me. Based on the smell, I was expecting something a little rough and raw tasting. But it’s very sweet – a grain-type sweetness – and notes that alternately remind me of coffee and something almost floral/fresh. There is an overall dryness to the tea – it’s not very strong but it is solidly there and makes me think of a red wine aftertaste. As it cools, I get something that is more Nilgiri like, but more pleasant than any Nilgiri I’ve had.

It’s not what I was expecting with a Keemun but I did manage to drink it quickly. I can’t say I’d reach for this when in a Keemun mood, but I don’t think it’d be totally ignored in my pantry either.

ETA: Ah-ha! I just figured out what that green/raw-ish taste reminds me of – a green rooibos! Seriously, it does! (And green rooibos is the next tea up because I do not need any more caffeine today!)

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More new tea! This one from Arbor Teas’ fair trade selection. When I first started drinking tea a few years ago, it seemed like there were only about three fair trade and five organic teas. Anywhere. And they were all kind of meh tasting but cost twice as much as normal teas. So when I went to see what samples I might want to try from Arbor Teas, I really figured that they wouldn’t have that many options. Dude, they have a lot. Seriously, have I been that far out of the Fair Trade/Organic tea loop or were there always lots of options and I just didn’t know where to look?

Anyway, I’m really excited to try this one, mostly because the only green pu-erh I’ve tried was CTG’s Sticky Rice one which gave me the idea I might actually like green pu-erhs. This one will be the ultimate test to see if I really do!

First off, the tuo-cha is surprisingly heavy so I broke it in half for my 10oz mug. The leaves are soft and furry and look somewhat Silver Needle-like. I did a rinse then steeped for about 30s. The liquor is very light and smells softly honeyed/musty.

The taste is delightfully surprising – sweetly musty, soft, smooth and earthy but light, not heavy/syrupy earthy like a cooked pu-erh. There are hints of hay in the sweetness and sometimes a faint honey. The aftertaste is deliciously nectar-y and pretty. I was worried about the possibility of bitterness (since CTG’s has a tendency to get bitter if you steep even slightly too long) but there is no hint of bitterness or even any astringency here – it’s very smooth. The lack of bitterness makes me think I might steep it just a little longer next time to get a bit stronger flavor but then I think that for something like this, a fainter first steep isn’t unusual.

The second steep (40s) is much darker and has an allover stronger scent and flavor, but it is just as pretty – lovely musty, sweet, honeyed smoothness with a bit of a richer flavor than the first steep and a hint of more normal pu-erh earthy but still not the overly sweet syrupy earthy that is just too much for me. There also seems to be a fair amount of honey in the aftertaste. It actually reminds me of a tasty Silver Needle tea. I’m not sure if that’s a normal green pu-erh taste but honestly, I don’t really care because this is the type of pu-erh I can totally get behind.

The third steep (~45s) is smooth and rich and earthy and nectary and a little heavier but not too heavy… There’s an almost… bready note to it too? Kind of like wheat bread or perhaps toast? It’s hard to really peg but it’s super-tasty.
~1/2 tuo-cha/10oz

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I need to order from Arbor Teas again. I live in the city (Ann Arbor) so they deliver to my door for free. :)

Thomas Smith

Young, pure bud sheng cha is just half a step (if not less) away from a silver needle style white tea, so the similarities you’re drawing are totally justified.

Fair Trade really didn’t have a presence in tea in China until recently and has largely spread from a single project/organization in Yunnan. Really, it isn’t applicable for most teas in China (private sellers are ineligible – only coops qualify – and most tea is sold through middlemen). However, it’s exactly the kind of program that needs to be applied in Assam and Dooars in India and should probably start a presence in Africa (other than the rooibos growing coops) as well.


Thomas, you are a wealth of tea information! And glad to know about the similarity to a SN white – makes me feel not so crazy! :)
I just finished the book The Empire of Tea and that (along with a few other things I’ve read) has definitely made it hit home how important things like Fair Trade teas are.

Thomas Smith

You should give Liquid Jade a looksee as well!

I generally don’t put much thought into Fair Trade for tea (or even coffee, where it’s more applicable), since I am one of those types that wants a direct traceable line from a single farmer/producer or small village organisation to the consumer rather than a larger coop that blends material. However, the atrocities in Assam’s tea industry and the fact that one of the only outlets for organic tea from the region is owned by one of the major perpetrators in human right’s negligence as well as pollution from tea farming in the entire tea industry really angers me. It’s a big part of why I rarely buy Assams anymore even if they are really good. It’s strange to me to think that India has more issues in this arena than China (in tea, anyway). Fair Trade coupled with government programs in China have really worked to better the lives of some of the generally impoverished communities by bolstering tea production, though it has taken a toll on the environment. Transfair really needs to mobilize in Northern India. There are organisations waiting and trying to work it out on their own – they just need the outlet to get things moving.


Awesome – I will have to check that out. It looks like it will be a bit more engaging than The Empire of Tea which, while it had interesting info, tended to be pretty darn dry…

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drank Anhui Keemun by Adagio Teas
911 tasting notes

I’ve got lots and lots of new teas to try (my cupboard went from 87 to 123 in just two days – I might have made a few tea orders… just maybe) and I’ve set aside today to do nothing but relax, rest and make a slight dent in my new teas (and watch Project Runway). This is the first tea up today, mostly because Chicago Tea Garden’s Keemun has made me rediscover my massive Keemun love and inguna’s logs make this one sound delicious, so I have been stupidly excited about trying this one.

First off, it smells awesome. Like the softest leather coated in super-dark chocolate. Brewed up, the smell gets a bit stronger on the chocolate/earthy/dark/damp but sweet notes show up, too and it just smells so rich and thick and smooth. I could smell this all day.

I was pretty tempted to follow CTG’s steeping time for this one (they give 1-2mintues for their Keemun while Adagio gives 3-5minutes) because these dry leaves smell just as complex as CTG’s and so I want to treat them the same. But I went ahead and follow Adagio’s suggestion this time and maybe I’ll play a shorter steep next time, mostly because I think this will have enough complexity going on to be interesting, not simply weak, with a shorter steep time.

Anyway, sipping time. OMG, so good. The taste is strong and bold with a sweet earthy, syrupy richness with a hint of smoke in the end of the sip. It’s very smooth and silky feeling and leaves the loveliest aftertaste, something almost floral? As I sip, I keep thinking of two different teas – one CTG’s Keemun because, hello, both really good, complex, flavorful Keemuns and two – Makai Black. Yeah, okay, I know that one sounds like a bit of a stretch but Makai Black (either version) gives a good, thick, sweet-but-not-sugary rye-syrup or barley-syrup type note and this one has something similar going on – not exactly the same, but a great, rich syrupy feel/taste of something dark and tasty. Uhm, and I just looked at Adagio’s tasting notes and it says ‘molasses’ so okay, maybe I’m not that crazy then. It feels a bit richer/darker than molasses to me but whatever, we’ll say molasses.

This is really good. This one and CTG’s Keemun (which I love and adore so) are neck and neck as far as delicious and much loved Keemun tastes. This one tastes stronger, but then it was steeped longer than what CTG suggests for their version. This one also might be a little heavier/smoother/richer by a little but that might be the longer steep time again. Considering the price difference, CTG’s version is a must-have daily-drinker where this one would have to be a bit more special occasion but taste-wise, I’m thinking they are not too far off.

This is one seriously tasty Keemun. I’m really tempted to give it a perfect score right now, but I have to wait to make sure the tastiness is easily repeatable (I have a feeling it will be) because picky teas piss me off. But this is a must-try tea for any Keemun lover.

(Screw it. I just did a second steep (also at 3:00) and it’s so delicious. Full points right now.)

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This one and the yunnan golden curls from Adagio are both driving me wild with ordering desire!!!!


GAH! The European Adagio branch doesn’t have this either. They haven’t got anything!
I’ve got one from TeaSpring though which is also very nice. (Especially when not made accidentally double strength)


Jacqueline – I have the Yunnan Golden Curls to try too! Hopefully I’ll be able to try them out today without OD’ing on caffeine!
Angrboda – I’m like the worst responder ever to PMs because I suck but yeah, sending you one now. :)


Phew …really glad you are not disappointed.


Definitely not disappointed – this is a great one! It’s no wonder you love it so!


Woo. Another one for the list…


Definitely! It’s really a fantastic tea. Hmm, maybe I want some Keemun now that my EG is gone…….

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This tea confuses me. The name is “Chocolate Earl Grey” but the chocolate bit is more strong hints of chocolate or cocoa flavor (not an actual chocolate taste) and the Earl Grey bit is more of a hint of fresh citrus lightness (instead of noticeably bergamot).

I’ll admit, I was hoping for something a bit more like a chocolate orange. So the fact that this tea is mild tasting with notes of chocolate and bergamot instead of the actual taste of chocolate and bergamot left me feeling a bit confused. That being said, I managed to drink my cup pretty quickly – it was sweet, smooth and had a very nice flavor. Just totally not the flavor I was expecting. For that reason, I’m leaving this one unrated for now. I need to have a cup of it without blatantly incorrect expectations clouding my experience.

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RachanaC (Rachel)-iHeartTeas

I LOVE this one, I need to get more soon.


I think I really am going to like it because I drank it fast – always a sign of a good tea. But it wasn’t what I was expecting/hoping for so that threw me. I’ll have to have it again soon KNOWING what it will taste like and then I’ll be able to figure how much I like it. If that makes sense.

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Like some others floating around, I received some Fair Trade tea samples from Arbor teas to try. Very exciting! I’m kind of hit or miss with flavored non-black teas typically, but that doesn’t stop me from trying them. And this one’s description sold me with the “subtle nectar” thing. I like nectar.

The tea smells very fruit-flavored hard candy, but not in a synthetic or unpleasant way. And I say ‘fruit’ flavored because, while I’ve had pomegranates before, I have difficulty associating something not an actual pomegranate with pomegranate flavor. So ‘fruit’ it is – very sweet and berry-fruit-like. If I close my eyes, it smells like it would be a thick, slow-moving, dark red syrup.

The taste is surprisingly frisky. It doesn’t taste like a heavy, rich syrup. It is still sweet, but it’s light and playful, not slow and heavy. It’s very refreshing and the taste gave me a really nice pick-me-up. It makes me feel perky.

The second steep (3:00) is not quite as perky but seems very nicely balanced. The berry-fruit-pomegranate flavor is a tad softer and seems to match and blend really well with (what I assume is) the nectary taste of the white tea. This has a richer taste but works out well since the flavoring is a hint lighter so it doesn’t seem overwhelmingly flavored or fake. Just like a white tea with very noticeable pomegranate (fruit-berry) notes.

I still have a little weirdness with this tea just because it is a flavored non-black. For some reason I have a mental block towards those most of the time. Though this one is nice enough that I could definitely see picking some up if I wanted a berry-ish tea or a flavored tea in the evenings. Fun stuff!

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I picked this one, too! :D Haven’t tried it yet, but I will soon.


I look forward to seeing your review of it! For something not normally up my alley, I enjoyed this.

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This is the first EG in a big batch of EG samples from Upton Tea Imports. (I ordered 22 different teas, over half of which are EGs!) I’m not the biggest EG fan (though I do like it) but the husband is (I blame Star Trek TNG), so the purpose of this endeavor is to find him a go-to, must-have EG to keep on hand. And bonus points if I like it a lot, too.

Taken with sugar and whole milk, this tea reminds me of last week’s Twining’s Lady Ear Grey – fairly soft with a more lemony taste than straight bergamot. The one thing I missed in the Lady EG was the actual tea taste (which I attribute to the teabag being old) but this one fixes that problem. The tea base is nicely noticeable, though it doesn’t scream a particular tea type – bolder than the typical Ceylon, not rich as the typical Yunnan… it makes total sense that this is a Ceylon/Chinese black blend because that is what it tastes like. While the base isn’t overly special, it is nice to have a tea base that tastes obviously tea-like but not overly Ceylon.

The flavoring and overall tone of the tea is soft and relaxing – not a harsh EG at all, but not so soft that it is girlie frou-frou either. There’s a little prickle to the tea that is either astringency or a little roughness to the tea base taste. And even though it doesn’t taste like a bold wake-up tea, the caffeine level is enough to make me perkier than I justifiably should be.

I like this one a little more than Twining’s Lady EG simply by virtue of having a more noticeable tea base (though I reserve the right to adjust that ruling if I ever get the chance to have some fresher (and hopefully more tea-tasting) Lady EG). It’s probably not the smoothest EG I hope to find but it’s nice and very drinkable so I would have no problems adding this one to the regular tea rotation (if this one ends up getting the husband’s vote for ‘must-have’ EG).

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drank Jun Shan by Teas Etc
911 tasting notes

This is my last cup of this sample. So sad! Fortunately, it was a great cup to end on. In fact, I’m giving the rating a bump upwards just a tad because it is just so good.

It’s got some faint notes of a Chinese green – a little grassy, a little mineral/salty, a little sweet – and and some stronger notes of a good Silver Needle (I’m thinking specifically of Chicago Tea Garden’s SN which I had recently) with honey and nectar and bit of vegetal depth.

My little cup went very quickly and pretty much guaranteed that, when I next order from Teas Etc, I will be getting some of this tea.

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So glad you liked it! I really ought to revisit this one sometime, I think.


I really do like it a lot! All the things I like in a Chinese green and a white, none of the stuff I don’t. So tasty!

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I’m trying to be a better tea logger and actually post semi-regularly again! I’ve let my tea tasting senses become too complacent – it’s time for some focused and attentive tea drinking!

Sometimes my notices for PMs and such have been questionable. Email me at your own risk at aug3zimm at gmail dot com.

1 – 10 – Bleck. Didn’t finish the cup.
11 – 25 – Drinkable. But don’t punish me by making me have it again.
26 – 40 – Meh. Most likely will see if the husband likes it iced.
41 – 60 – Okayish. Maybe one day I’ll kill off what I have in my pantry.
61 – 75 – Decent. I might pick some up if I needed tea.
76 – 85 – Nice. I’d probably buy but wouldn’t hunt it down.
86 – 100 – Yum! I will hunt down the vendor to get this tea!

Not that anyone but me particularly cares, but there it is.





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