676 Tasting Notes

Thank you Nuvola Tea for this Sample!

I shared this tasting with my friend Eric who is a Science teacher at the College and serves tea at Happy Lucky’s several days a week. He’s here on Steepster, and a fellow tea geek!

When I want to discuss tea trivia, Eric’s my man!
We talk about leaf hoppers, the bugs that make Oriental Beauty Tea so sweet, and have talks about Puer fungus.

Eric handled the gaiwan through 4 steepings of this Ti Kuan Yin.
(He teaches a gongfu class so I am more than happy to let him do this!)
The flavor if this tea was lightly sweet, with a mild roast nuttiness.
I tasted brown sugar but the more I drank, the more I tasted old fashioned Horehound candy…bittersweet and tangy.

I was about to hand my cup back to Eric when the sweetest fragrance rushed up at me. Wow,this was the scent in my empty cup… thick like a flower shop but as sweet as See’s Candy!

Each steep was pretty much the same. Nutty roastiness, sweet brown sugar and Horehound candy.
A creamy mouth-feel lasted through the first three steeps.

Lovely tea.

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drank Congou Keemun by Butiki Teas
676 tasting notes

Tonight I made Pad Thai from scratch for the first time. Prawns, noodles, egg, sprouts, scallions, garlic, peanuts, and homemade sauce. It was Excellent!, if I do say so myself.

The last squeeze of lime and sprinkle of chopped cilantro was pure heaven in my big bowl!

I paired my delightful dinner with Congou Keemun Tea because of it’s sweetness. This isn’t a malty tea and I wouldn’t have wanted malt or cocoa with my Pad Thai. A fruit or floral tea with body works better, and this Keemun was a nice balance with the Pad Thai flavors.

When you get old, remember to cook with love even if you’re by yourself. Healthy food should taste good, especially with the right tea!


Oh man, now I want pad thai!


Yum. I know this is an old note, but it spoke to me. I love to cook and I’ve started pairing teas with meals- I agree, there are many foods that don’t need a full malty, heavy tea. I’ve been using an inexpensive tea from Upton with all the asian foods I cook and it’s perfect.

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Thank you Roughage for this tea sample!

This is a beautiful Oolong! The picture from Wan Ling Tea House doesn’t do justice to how lovely the tea is, so I took a few pictures.
http://flic.kr/p/dT162K and http://flic.kr/p/dSZNBp

The tea was so sweet. Sweeter than most tea’s I’ve had, even other Oolongs, and tasted like ripe pear and creamy pineapple.

I put my nose close to the wet leaves in the gaiwan, and the perfume wafted up around me as though I had sprayed the air with an exotic floral mist. The end of the spray was sexy and peppery.

One evening in Kauai, I went to a beach where there were no other people. It was almost sunset, and the small beach had many rocks the size of small boulders, strewn about. They were like stepping stones going from the beach out to the sea. It was easy to walk for quite a distance before the water reached my knees, so I left the shore and chose a rock to sit on out where the only sound was gentle waves, and the water lapping against my feet.

Soon the sunset changed the sky to gold which reflected on the sand through the clear water. I was a glowing golden statue sitting on a rock in the sea. http://flic.kr/p/dT1Yd4

When I was drinking this tea, I remembered the beauty of Kauai and the golden sunset. This is a shimmering Oolong, smooth and sweet.

I love to drink tea and go back to places that have moved me. One of the reasons I drink tea often.


That yixing in the red box… wow! I’m jealous! Nice pu’er display as well! :o)

Terri HarpLady

Nice pic! I want to smell that! I love the way the sunlight really brings out the deep mahogany of the leaves.

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Thank you JC for this sample tea!

I’ve had Tibetan Pu-erh before and thought they were supposed to be pretty much the same.

Evidently NOT!

What I drank before was ‘what the men drink who are herding animals Tibetan Brick Pu-erh’ which was a little on the rough side, although
fun to try.

I’ve been reading a book about the Tea Horse Road in Tibet, and slowly writing a story on my blog about ‘Ritual’.
It’s a story about how tea has become a Ritual in my life, and what that means to me.

The tea I decided to pair with the story is this one, a special Tibetan Pu-erh, because of it’s long and colorful tradition. I also wanted to make some Butter Chai Tea! (Can’t use Yak Butter Chai Tea unfortunately!) And this tea is the one to use.

Butter Chai Tea Recipe
A little milk (1/2 c) and salt (1/4 tsp), some butter (2 TB) and water (5 c) and Tibetan Pu-erh (1TB) and bring to the boil then simmer. (You can make adjustments to suit you.)

A tasty broth to stave off cold when treking through snowy mountain passes, donkeys heavy laden with tea… bound for waiting merchants on the other end of the Tea Horse Road. (OK, I’m a romantic!)

Before making the Butter Chai Tea, I made some regular Tibetan steeped (30 seconds) Pu-erh in my gaiwan.
The flavor was smooth and sweet with a refreshing taste. No extreme earthiness or thick mouth-feel.

The mellow flavor made the Butter Chai Tea light and smooth.

Because the Pu-erh boiled and then sat to simmer (the way it would on an open fire) I wondered how it would taste after a bit.
I waited while it simmered 20 minutes on the stove, poured a mug… and the tea tasted just as good as at the first!

Lovely Mild Puerh

Ritual is a story on my blog www.teaandincense.com

I began drinking tea as a way to be still (quiet) because my mind wandered when I tried to pray. I had difficulty quieting a zooming Silicon Valley mind that had rushed for so many years. Like most people I had worried so much about the past and the future, I didn’t know how to meet with God in the present.

Carefully learning to prepare tea several times a day, I didn’t just drink the tea but thoughtfully looked for all that was good in the experience.

First, I smelled the aroma of the tea liquor. Then I gave full attention to the scent of the tea leaves, observing the color of the dry and wet leaves. Finally, I tasted the tea prepared different ways (plain, with sweetening or milk, and after the second or third steeping ). I learned to use different types of tea equipment and the tea names from a vast array of tea previously unknown to me.

……and so on….


which book…I have read the ‘tea horse road’ and I have a few others that follow the same theme…..and just curious?


Tea Horse Road


Nice! Thanks for the recipe! This one is a ‘post-fermented’ Tibetan brick or Shu/Shou. I like it because its mellow and sweet. I want to try that butter mixture, and I don’t know how Yak butter tastes but I feel intrigued about it. I want to know which other animal’s butter taste similar enough to try it.

As you said the green/uncooked stuff is on the rougher side but always seem to have nutty/herbaceous taste. I can see that tasting nice with milk/butter, never actually tried it that way.

I’m feeling better again, so soon enough I’ll start drinking tea again, need to resume trying the samples!


Got the recipe from Roughage (in England) who says Yak butter tastes sourish. He tasted it in China I believe. Being that he’s a Necrolinguist (dead languages) and expert on Viking Berserkers, I tend to think he’d know.

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There are two kinds of wood you need for a good fire in a wood-stove, soft wood,like cedar to get the fire going, and hard wood, like oak for the fire to last a long time.

When I lived in the Sierra Mountain town of Paradise, one of the 6 girls that lived in my house was Susan. Her father was a tree feller. (That’s what you call them) Tree felling is a dangerous job, and when he wasn’t felling trees, he was drinking, so Susan stayed with me and her dad paid for her room and board with firewood. We had wood all Winter cut and stacked with bundled kindling. During power outages, we had heat! Cedar and Oak!

Compared with the 5000 foot altitude I live at now, 2000 feet doesn’t seem like much of a mountain, but where I live now is flat and dry. Paradise was mountain forest with tall pine and oak.
In the Fall and Winter, the smell of smoke from many wood fires was delicious wafting through the trees.

I absolutely LOVE the smell of a damp forest and wood smoke!
I LOVE the smell of the smoke early in the morning on a sunny, cold day holding a cup of hot tea in my hands, wrapped in a blanket while sitting on the back porch warm and happy.

Smoke means BBQ and 4th of July (the dumb little houses that smoke and do nothing else, remember them? And punks…those things that come with sparklers?).

So many people have memories of camping or hiking with friends when they drink a smoky tea. My grandkids call Lapsang Souchong ‘Memory Tea’.

This tea is NOT a Souchong! Souchong means: A tea made from the larger older leaves of the shoot. A lower grade of tea leaf.

This smoked tea is a high grade Oolong. Something Very Special!

I had a sampling of this tea before, so I took some of my tea to share with friends who I knew were NOT fond of roasted Oolongs but DID like traditional Lapsang Souchong. What would they think?

Joe prepared the tea according to the Verdant instructions, short 5 second steeps in a Gaiwan.
The flavor was lightly smoky, smooth and sweet. We had some trouble tasting further nuances in the tea with such short steeps so we decided to throw caution to the wind and do a 3 minute steep.

This was more like it we agreed! Longer Steep wins!
Sweet and silky smooth, but with whisper light smokiness.
The honey caramel Oolong base created a fat oozy syrup that coated the inside of my mouth…moving slowly from the back to the front.
I was toying with the idea of fruitiness but couldn’t put my finger on what it was. Maybe Fuji Persimmon. I don’t know, not sure.

I drank some more of this tea this morning, and took a picture. It was a time to reflect alone on wood fires and my life in Paradise. Time there with family and the 6 girls who came to me in High School and are now 40 year old women (including my daughter).
My parents, and grandmother are buried in that town.

You don’t have to be hit over the head with strong smokiness to have sweet memories, and this tea has given me all the gentle beauty I could desire.

I suppose that I’m like an old teapot that needs good tea to keep it well seasoned.

I’ve said this before, I hope this tea (or one like) it becomes available permanently.


Terri HarpLady

Yes! This is a tasty one!
Lovely review, ms Bonnie!


What a lovely, evocative review!


I loathe lapsang souchong…but I came to learn that ‘real’ lapsang is from a very specific estate (you can find more details in ‘the story of tea’) and that imitations have cropped up (pun intended) and some even rely on ‘flavoring’ oils….If you get a chance, the Tao of Tea at one point had a Bohea, which was one of the most sublime smoked teas I have ever had and I was stunned by it…it was layered and mellow, sweet and voluptuous in the mouth. If I can’t find the good lapsang…then the only way you will find this triple bagged in my tea locker, will be for use as an ingredient in thai prawn soup, or homemade BBQ sauce, or for Chinese tea eggs.


I have a LS that I like quite a bit, but this tea here is another story altogether. I know about the other real Lapsang too…I read.
The LS I cook with has a sweet smoke and comes from my town, look up the Happy Lucky’s Lapsang Souchong here on Steepster, people like it. This smooth smoke Oolong, ah…not the same league at all. This is an elegant tea!

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Sip down as ya’ll say (my first time).

Received this from Roughage some months ago and it’s lived a fine life in my cupboard’s Roughage bin next to the mrmopar bin so they could have a nice visit.

The tea has lost a little umph over time. Good to see how that works really. Haven’t been able to tell with some tea’s, but this being all delicate and subtle…I could tell that the strength had waned a tad.

Still, the flavor was good.

I tasted the lingering citrus, seedless white grape with rich pound cake at the finish. It was a fine tea, just lighter.
Adding a bit of sugar to the tea helped bring out more flavor.

Some older tea’s are better in the bathtub then in a teacup they say, but not this one. It’s still good to drink.

Faded beauty? Yes, but a beauty none-the-less.


could be the beauty itself…since this tea is so dependent on an insect for its nuance of cinnamon and honey, the enzymatic reaction occurring at the tea responds to being bit and then the crafted hands that transform the tea from that moment….I have notice now for a number of years, since first falling in love with this tea and becoming her devoted suitor, that there have been many years where the depth and subtle layer are smoothed over, like a too thick veil over this lover’s face. In rare years I find her in her glory and gratefully share the graceful movements through the cups reflection…but so many times I keep this tea company knowing in her heart, rests an amazing wonder


I agree. One of the finest I’ve ever tasted is a Taiwanese wild picked that Stacy at Butiki tea has a limited amount of to release this week. Best I’ve tasted (some tea friends agreed). She got lucky!


Glad you enjoyed my faded beauty, Bonnie. It’s one of my favourite teas.


Thanks R

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Thank you Wanya Tea for this sample!

The only small scale Kenyan tea’s I’ve tasted have come from Butiki, Ajiri and Wanja Tea’s.

Each have been different and delightful.

My friends who have spent some time in Kenya have winced and groaned describing the super, hyper-strong brewed tea. (I would have joined in with glee since the Ajiri Strong Tea tasted quite normal to me, but seems far too strong to many others.)

I haven’t reviewed tea on Steepster in DAYS! I’ve been making Asian Pickles (sweet and savory) and Vadouvan Indian Spice Blend (Curried onions and garlic which is slowly baked in a mixture of spices until almost dry. Stored in freezer bags I’ll have a good supply for adding to recipes!).

There is no way I could review tea with onion, garlic and vinegar scenting my house!

As a first tea after my cooking projects were completed, I chose this tea from Kenya, figuring that it was probably suitable for accompanying flavorful, spicy foods. (Kenyan Cuisine uses lot’s of curries!).

The flavor was bright and clean with fruit and citrus, a sweetness that was light and smooth. I didn’t taste any malt and there was no nasty astringency.

You could very well drink this tea plain (which you can’t say about many black tea’s) and I found that a little sweetening brought out the fruitiness in a way that I liked best. Adding milk seemed too heavy. The body of the tea was light and in my opinion, milk isn’t needed.

There was an aftertaste of black pepper pound cake. This made me think further of what the tea would taste good alongside. I imagined a Denver Omlette, Chips and Salsa, Curry or Spicy Sausages. It can handle flavor packed food without getting lost!

Although the tea isn’t heavy, it’s sturdy enough and holds it’s own.
One of those indispensable tea’s when you can’t decide what to serve with a meal.

Very enjoyable tea!

(Although I haven’t been rating tea’s, it’s my choice to do so now and then. Since this company has 2 tea’s…I chose to rate the tea.)


Missed you round here Bonnie!! I love Kenyan teas with milk

Terri HarpLady

Me too! I haven’t been reading reviews as much recently, & finally had time to sit around & read yesterday & I was like, “Where the hell is Bonnie?” :D
Anyway, by coincidence, I’m sipping down samples again today, & this tea just happens to be in my cup as we speak!


Hi guys, you can understand that someone who is highly scent sensitive just can’t drink tea and review honestly with onions and garlic and vinegar etc. all over the place! Every time I opened the frig my pickles POW! were aging overnight but now I can bottle um up! Oh and I made French Onion Soup too. (May as well since onions were being cut up BY HAND!!! (No processor!). The results are great though!


Of course! I hope you still had a cup of tea though :)


Yes but it was called choco pu…puerh with chocolate hulls from Happy Luckys that you can taste no matter what you’re cooking.


Oh chocolate tea!! I’ve been looking for a good one. Here’s hoping Happy Luckys goes online soon!

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I imagine Stacy must have gone to sleep one Wintry night with the wind howling through the branches outside…full of dreams of fairies and liquor soaked plum pudding, a flaming spectacle at the end of a comforting meal.
Night-owl that she is, she would have jumped out of bed…run barefooted to her workshop to prepare a splendid tea, paying homage to that special pudding.

Has she succeeded in her magical efforts? Indeed she has!

My first thought was that I had Campbells Original Scot’s Shortbread in a cup, full of buttery sugary cookie. The richest kind! It was the Oolong Tea base that gave this buttery sweetness (along with some brown sugar).
Then there was more! An orange and vanilla taste, very clean citrus, made me want to take a dessert spoon and dig into my tea.
I added some cream…the way I would add real whipped cream to a pudding… and ugh… it was so, so good!

What would I serve to complete this as a dessert? Some dark chocolate, rum cake or perhaps some pecans and golden raisins.

Lovely tea treat!

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Thank you JC for this generous Sample Sheng!

I took a look at the review by Amy Oh and JC before my own preparation this morning. Amy’s was a 20-30 second steep time and JC’s was short 2 seconds…increasing gradually like Ravel’s Bolero.

I ’m choosing to play a little between the lines.

After one rinse. I steeped an even amount of leaf to water in my Gaiwan (5 grams leaf to 5 oz water) for 12 seconds.
The flavor was savory like artichoke, just short of bitter and thick at the back of the throat.
As I moved back from the glass cup, I noticed a strong wild honey scent and put my nose back to the glass cup.
The scent wasn’t there.
When I went back again to the cup, the honey returned.
I held the cup and moved it around in front of me…the wafting aroma of wild honey magically perfuming the air. Tea magic. Look for this!

My second steep at 10 seconds was dry but had the same big flavor and umami finish.

I lowered the timing down further to 6 seconds and lowered the temperature to 170 degrees. Not so good of an experiment. The tea was too bitter, blech.

Back to boiling water I went, and a 20 second steep (which was where Amy Oh liked it).
Now the flavor was herb butter, savory and sweet. Delicious, rich Umami! Full and substantial with the lingering after the swallow that we wait for…and want for.
(Made me think of having a grilled steak with herb butter. Even the liquor looked like melted golden clarified butter!)

This Sheng is delicious!

Some young Shengs are harsh, too smoky, too one note.
This (don’t kill me JC) is like a good Gyokuro.


Thanks JC


Glad you like it. I like this Bulang because its an Early Spring picking it can be mellow and complex. But it IS a Bulang, so Strong Bitter/Floral and astringency can be achieved.


Did you smell the honey when you drew away from it? Did you get shocked at the gyokuro or did you know what I meant?


LOL! I know what you mean! That’s why I love early Spring Sheng! I wish I had more of that Kong Shan from Zhi Zheng. THAT one was PURE honey. I love smelling the tea and the tea ‘caramel’ that thickening left over in the serving pitcher after a pour.


We’re nerds!


Ha i think i fit in this crowd!


Yes indeed!

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Thank you Mrmopar for this Puerh sample!
BTW, the new picture is me sniffing wet tea leaves, proof that I am an official tea geek and nerd!

Oh yeah, getting back into my puerh groove! Woman does not live by puerh alone(but I almost get away with it)!

We’re having a dip in temperature…snow flurries then back up to the 50’s and 60’s. A real Rocky Mountain Roller Coaster! Wheeee!
For breakfast today…a strong cuppa PU sounded fabulous! (If you take a look at mrmopar’s cupboard, you’ll see that he agrees with me!)

This particular puerh was great for bold drinking. I was thinking about how you could make a big pot, sit down with breakfast or the paper…even fill a thermos and head out the door. It’s such a big flavorful puerh, reminiscent of what I ‘Used to get’ at Pete’s Coffee way back when! My morning ‘kick in the butt’ cuppa!

Smooth, dark, stands up to additions and the resteeps aren’t weak.

The flavor:
After one rinse, I steeped 30 seconds which produced a DARK red-espresso-brown brew, smooth and full of energy. The taste was raspberry/choco/cedar/nut with a little tang. (None of those flavors distinctly strong). Muted flavors, smooth and sweet.

On later steepings the flavor wasn’t as strong.

At the 4th and 5th steep…I got lazy and put the two steeps together in an 8oz mug, sweetened it and added cream. Yeah! Good!

I kicked back and watched the news, slurped my mug of PU with a furry throw tucked up under mu chin, my feet propped on the bench coffee table. What a life!

This tea is one of those “Whatever you want me to be, I’ll be it for you baby!” puerh’s! (Too bad I never married man like that, oh well!)

Thanks Mrmopar!


this is my fave kind of pu! :P


I know, good everyday…puer!

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Colorado Grandma

Grandmother to 3 teenaged girls and 5 young boys. (we all drink tea!) I began teatime in the Summer over 30 years ago when my children were little. We took a break from play for tea and snacks every day. My children loved tea time.
There are several tea houses close to my home and a Tea Festival in Boulder. Fort Collins is a bit of a foodie town. We brew lots of Beer (Fat Tire is one brand) and have several Spice Shops (Savory was one featured on Food Network).
Colorado State University is a mile from my home and the Rocky Mountains begin to climb at the end of my street. The climate is semi-arid with LOTS OF SUN AT 5000 feet. (Heavy Winter snows start in higher elevations). Living my whole life in Northern California (Silicon Valley) I have to admit that I LOVE IT HERE!!!
I attend a wonderful Greek Orthodox Church and enjoy cooking ethnic foods (all kinds). I am disabled with Migraines and Fibromyalgia.
My family is Bi-racial (African-American, Scots) and Bi-cultural, (Peru, Cyprus, France, Mexico, Native American)
I’ve worked at a Winery, was a System Analyst, in telecom, been an Athlete and Coach, Artist, Vista Volunteer. Love healthy cooking (and delicious food!). Love to travel and have been to Italy, Greece, Turkey, Malta, Peru, Croatia, Canada, Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska


Fort Collins,Colorado

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