391 Tasting Notes


Shared this with a strictly-with-milk tea drinker, and we both loved it. Incredibly robust, a little smoky, some cocoa… I’d say there’s some malt here, too. I loved it black, but it was really outstanding with oat milk.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.


I took this cake (and its amazing Fu Dog wrapper) to work after comparing it to another very affordable cake I picked up from LP, a 7543 that I decided I liked more and wanted to keep at home. The lovely thing about cakes I take to work is that I feel I get to know them intimately and in a concentrated amount of time — a knowing that slowly picking through my tea drawers at home just doesn’t facilitate.

This way of drinking through a single cake also, perhaps, encourages broad-stroke descriptions, judgment in swaths after dozens of cups rather than a quiet sit with a tiny gaiwan.

What I’ve come to expect of this tea is a little funk up front, which (usually depending on the earliness of the hour and my corresponding constitution) I have rinsed a time or two. I tend not to rinse, for better or worse. This cake strikes me reliably as vegetal and tobacco; I have had exactly one second steep that was delightfully full-bodied with a touch of sweetness, and I’ve been waiting for a return of that bit of lovely ever since. There is not a pronounced amount of sweetness, spice, camphor, or forest here.

Most of my “sessions” (an overstatement if there ever was one) have been grandpa-style in a ceramic tumbler. I’m very often disappointed after adding a second round of water, and sometimes will throw a few more leaves in to compensate. Not a terribly long-lived expression. I’ve added ice a few times, to drink with takeout Thai, and it’s nice for that.

It’s been a solid little workhorse for a couple months now, but as I near the end of my cake I’m looking forward to cracking into something a little more exciting.


Great way to use up a cake! I have missed your notes. Hope your life is exuberantly joyful!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.


Shocked (okay, not really, all things considered) I haven’t yet written a note on this tea. I shared some with a new friend who primarily drinks bagged blacks with oat milk, and they are head over heels for it. Yesssssss.

This might be my favorite black tea… absolutely top three, I’ll say, in case I’m forgetting two whole teas somehow. I was shocked the first time I tasted it, as the amount of flavor that comes from these leaves is incredible — brown sugar, fig/raisin, a whisper of nuts. Rich, thick mouthfeel with no astringency. Assam has a whole new meaning to me now.

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Fig, Nutty, Raisins, Rich, Smooth, Thick

Daylon R Thomas

Favorite Assam of all time. I have many blacks trying to replace it’s empty slot for cheaper, but there’s been none. I’m so glad it’s returned for a little bi.

Marshall Weber

Thinking I need to give this company a go! You’ve convinced me. I’m gonna wait until their spring greens are back in stock tho. Glad you had a great session :)

Login or sign up to leave a comment.


I can finally say with confidence that my teas have adjusted to the mountain, and I (perhaps have also adjusted, and so) can taste them again. Hallelujah, amen.

This is especially true with the sheng I have been babying in my crocks, and this little firecracker came out of one of them yesterday. Gong fu’d last night, then Western steeped 10g all day today (I think I’m on infusion 5… I definitely left steeps in the tank last night, based on these numbers).

This is perhaps not my favorite bouquet of flavors, but holy mother, does it have a story to tell. This may be the most distinct sheng I’ve had the pleasure of drinking. PJ’s assessment on his blog holds true, insofar as there is camphor and soooome smoke, but my little piece has transformed right past the minty hint of Crest toothpaste into herbaceous screaming and horehound bittersweetness. This 5th steep has some chamomile that is threatening to send everyone home to bed. It’s glorious and jarring and not subtle or really even balanced in any proper sense of the word. The mouthfeel is round, my guts are warm, and I had a great time, I swear, but no, I will not marry you because I can’t live like this every night, but also I hope you have the best life, you Wild Big Tree. Muah.

Flavors: Bay Leaf, Camphor, Chamomile, Fennel Seed, Ginseng, Herbaceous, Iodine, Licorice Root, Sage, Star Anise, Sweet, Thyme, Traditional Chinese Medicine


Oh boy, that sounds like a good session and a good time was had by all!

Marshall Weber

Have been looking at trying this one, but sounds like quite the firecracker hahaha

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

Per the description, this is a raw liu bao… but it tastes wet piled to me. Damp storage notes (which I don’t mind one bit) aside, it does not have the nuance that I typically expect in raw aged liu bao. That said — the simplicity is enjoyable, and it gave me lots and lots of steeps.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

I think I missed the boat on this one, maybe. I got nice comforting bread dough, but that was about all. I wonder if I shouldn’t have crocked it for a few months before digging in. Ah, well.

Thank you derk and White Antlers <3

Login or sign up to leave a comment.


Oof. I like this. I have been trying to be less precious with my samples, and so grabbed this on a whim and brewed it western style last night. First sip took me aback, so I gong fu’d it today to see what was up.

There is a numbing camphor belt that develops around the center of my mouth — tongue/cheeks/roof, all get to play in the halo. Nut skins, florals, dried fruit, spices, toast… it’s smooth and complex and the qi is so lovely (ie. not making me want to crawl out of my skin, a feeling I’ve been having more often than I’d like lately).

I do not need a cake, for reals and truly, but I’d spring for one of these if I did.

Edited to add: I’m drinking this western again tonight and having the same sensory experience that I’m just now remembering I had last night: “This tastes like makeup smells… in a good way.” I guess that’s baby powder and whatever eau du essences… just popping in to bookend: “I like this.”

[End sample, persued by bear.]

Flavors: Camphor, Dried Fruit, Floral, Oats, Spices, Toast, Walnut

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

The second of four from derk from White Antlers… thank you again. <3

This dry leaf smelled fruitier than the Hei Shi leaves, but the steamed leaf was immediately savory and herbaceous, briny and seaweedy.

The transformations these leaves made… oy. Broth the first: nutmeg (not quite betel?), malt. Broth the second: oop, nope — this is not sweet at all. Like a buttery olive, like mild white pepper — barnyard and hay. Smooth mouthfeel, saliva producing… much more warming than the Hei Shi sample.

Here I stop and wonder: this is delicious and a journey, but would I ever crave it, chase it? I feel bad that I don’t think so. :/

Third steep, now there’s some bitter that hits on the back roof of my mouth, while everywhere else is ridiculously smooth to the point of luxurious. Indistinct hay and grasses. But then zip zop, later steeps become drying to the point of numbing, I start buzzing, I feel like I need food to tamp this down… but am distinctly not hungry.

Woo, a ride.

Flavors: Barnyard, Bitter, Brine, Butter, Dried Fruit, Grass, Hay, Herbaceous, Malt, Nutmeg, Olives, Savory, Seaweed, Smooth, White Pepper

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

derk sent me some liu baos originally from White Antlers, and so I thank you both for the pay-forward and pick-me-up kick in the pants to plug back in here. I started with this one from Hei Shi village as one of the two youngest samples, and I’ll work my way older over the next couple days…

I dutifully took my little set of notes, then found derk’s notes, and had that magical feeling that someone had been right here before me. I love that.

I did not realize before I sessioned that this is unprocessed material — so to liu bao what maocha is to puerh. What a revelation and a treat to experience these flavors that transform into that classic betel-medicine profile. Though if this is 10 years old… I suppose it’s some kind of aged, hehe. I don’t know enough to understand what steps stand between this and Liu Bao writ large.

Dry leaf was old books and old fruit leather; steaming gave up baby powder, muscatel, juicy peach?, strawberry. I’ve been tending toward longer steeps lately, and a 30 second wake-up made my first pour the most beautiful. Heady fennel, vanilla, and allllmost cocoa — but not quite — I settled on malt. Gorgeous and ethereal.

Wet leaf quickly went deep to tobacco and medicinal (herbs, iodine… funny how we all recognize so simply what is such a complex olfactory hit), though the lid kept on with baby powder and vanilla. Second steep brought me to the meadow — wildflowers (derk said heather, and that is JUST the thing I was wracking my brain for — yasss!) and the gauzy bitterness of breezy grasses. The third steep brought more grass, but I found the malt again along her backbone. Guh. This wasn’t long-lived, but it didn’t need to be.

The 2013 from Buyi village is loaded into my pot now. I’m excited.

Flavors: Baby Powder, Buffalo Grass, Fennel, Fruity, Herbs, Iodine, Juicy, Leather, Malt, Meadow, Medicinal, Muscatel, Strawberry, Tobacco, Vanilla, Wildflowers

Login or sign up to leave a comment.