676 Tasting Notes


12-12-12 Whoopie! My youngest turned 40 today! Good Grief!

None of you have gotten to that place in your own lives, (you’re still young) but let me tell you…it’s odd, sitting in a French Restaurant, having a Birthday lunch of Crepes Breton with a woman you gave birth to long ago who’s 40 years old! Yikes! Kinda Strange!

So, I’m supposed to say all kinds of wonderful things about that, and about her. (I do that all the time, say wonderful things I mean here on Steepster!) It’s true.! 8 kids, she’s written 2 books that have been published, bakes bread…blah blah blah. Good stuff!

What I want to say is, that when I write about my great and caring daughter (and my son Aaron too), I’m the one who’s been on the receiving end of a miracle. They aren’t great people because of me.

I wasn’t always the best mother.

Sure I fed, clothed, housed my children and loved them…but I had a lack of self esteem and depression. I was a single mom and dated some guys that I should have stayed clear of. I was an emotionally needy, confused young mom. Not the person you think of here on Steepster.

I never did drugs, alcohol or beat my children, but sometimes they parented me, sad to say.

Do they blame me now? No.

My daughter has always said, “Mom…your mother had low self esteem so you caught it from her.”
Always, compassion. Always, an open heart. Annalisa- 12-12-12.

The Tea
I received this tea packet from David Duckler around my Birthday last May and saved it for a special occasion. He said this is the favorite tea of Wei Wei!

I prepared the tea in my Gaiwan.
Rinsed the emerald green Tie Guan Yin leaves quickly two times.

The perfume from the wet leaves was one of those rare experiences.
Powdery, sweet, very floral…carnation and orchid with honeysuckle
but not funeral flowers…not nauseating floral overload.

This was the best floral scent in the World! Love and life smells like this! It was breathtaking! If you were walking on the outskirts of heaven barefoot, the scent that would rise up would be this scent…I’m certain.

I took a sip of tea and the aroma was so wrapped up in the flavor that they were the same. Floral, incense, sweet and smooth with a little buttery mouth-feel.

No astringency, no dryness. No acidity or vegital flavor.
Pure ‘Garden of the Gods’!

Incredible Tea! Hot, warm, cold…the same. Gorgeous.

Oh Mr. Duckler…if you could get more of this tea for Verdant?!

Thank you David for this tea which has made this 40th Birthday celebration of my daughter Annalisa even more memorable.

Here’s a picture I took on the way home today of some Snow Geese on the frozen part of a small lake in Central Park. THOUSANDS come through here every year!!!

Whispering Pines Tea Company

This tea sounds AMAZING! :D I love your reviews. I enjoy that you enjoy life so much :) I’m absolutely in love with it – glad to see others loving it too!

I love the picture, but those are Canada Geese (Branta canadensis). Snow Geese are almost completely white other than having black primaries (wingtip feathers). Sorry, I’m a bird nerd…haha. :D

Hope tomorrow is just as wonderful, and I love the pics you include :)


i think you have done a great job with the kids. never doubt yourself. compassion from a child is the highest way of them saying you were great and the show the love for what you did for them. tell her happy birthday from us and she will have to have tea with us if we make it out to Colorado. i am sure she is just as proud of you as you are of her!


Oops on the geese…knew they were from Canada though and not Wyoming…hee hee. We do get the White morph and Blue morph Snow Geese. We even get Pelican’s in Summer!!! 378 species of birds are recorded in this County. (Actually being 45 minutes from Rocky Mt. National Park, there’s lots of wildlife in general).
Thanks mrmopar… Sometimes parents take all the credit for great kids and in my case, the credit goes to my kids for raising me! Love them! I was 20 when my son was born, so I think we grew up together! She does love tea!

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drank Earl of Anxi by Verdant Tea
676 tasting notes

This morning, I was drinking Verdant’s Earl of Anxi Tea…The one that has Frankincense in it.
As I was drinking my tea, tasting the tea leaves…sweet and juicy, smooth with a light citrus from the goji berry and orange…then the floral jasmine and oolong.
In the next moment I was transported by the frankincense…the exotic and spiritual. I am used to the scent of incense in Church. To drink in the scent is different though. Something like the difference between hearing about prayer and praying. The scent and the taste are different but the same, only the experience of drinking the incense is intense. Holy somehow.

I sat sipping my tea with the evocative ancient, fragrant taste. I was thinking about my son and how much I love him and how glad I am that he cares for others, especially the poor. For me, as his mother, this truly is a blessing. This morning the tea and the memories were an offering, a prayer of thanksgiving.

I wrote a story on my blog about my son Aaron and Christmas
called Uncle Aarons Santa Sack. It’s a nice story. I’ll begin it here:

I’ve written stories about my grandchildren and my daughter because I see them more often and they live close to me here in Colorado.
However, I haven’t written much about my firstborn…my son Aaron.

Aaron and I are alike in many ways. Creative, artistic, stubborn, smart and funny. We’re both tall, and have the same small eyes and Highland Scot’s nose (not small). Boggle is our game (or any word game), and old movies!
Aaron is smarter than I am though. He has ADD ADHD and life has been very challenging for him. He has been brave, never giving up and is successfully running his own small business.

One Christmas, when all of us were still living in Northern California, Uncle Aaron arrived on Christmas Day at sister Annalisa’s cabin home which was in the Redwood’s. I was already there, along with my brother Steve, his wife Kathy and my Nieces.

It was a big crowd! My daughters cabin was small and we had at least 20 people jammed inside for dinner.

Before opening presents, we ate!

First, big platters of ribs were passed around! Anna’s homemade french bread, potato salad and greens, all sorts of side dishes…and more ribs. There were those children who always put olives on all their finger tips. Everyone was noisy, laughing and happy.

Rolls of paper towels were passed around for cleaning BBQ sauce from faces and fingers. Groans and smiles at dessert cakes and pies.

The living and dining room had been converted into a combined eating area with several long tables. When dinner was finished, the chairs were removed and formed into a circle to view the children (who were seated on the carpet) opening gifts and for settling with coffee, tea and beer. (The children had already opened family gifts in the morning, so this was an opening of gifts from grandma and went quickly!)

When the children were done with the gifts and were about ready to go off and play…Uncle Aaron got up from his spot on the couch, put toddler Micah down and said, “Not so fast!”

“What do you mean?” his sister asked.

“We’re not done with the gifts yet, I have something else to do. Wait right here!” he said.


There’s a picture there with the sack too.

Michelle Butler Hallett

I love how you write about this tea.


Thank you Michelle. David Duckler and I had a long conversation about incense while I was forming my blog with him and before this tea was born. I discussed how incense in the name of my blog was from the phrase…“let my prayer arise in your sight as incense and let the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice”. How a life should be like incense.


The origin of incense is so ancient, I like to believe that it holds many secrets of the world, that’s why its scent feels so mysterious and meditative to me…

Thanks for sharing that beautiful story, you brought back many holiday childhood memories of mine… As for Santa’s sack, my favorite is the one decribed at the end of your blog’s review…wow, you have many good reasons to be a proud mother… Aaron’s generosity is a blessing.

People in general feel more compelled to give around the holidays, that’s when as a society we feel more responsible for the well being of the less fortunates, which allows many folks to have decent food to put on the table on such a critical time of the year. But most of us forget that a year has 365 days, do the math, one day of generosity is just not enough… I know we do what we can, and that’s ok, but Luckily, there are also people like your son to fill the gaps…

Bonnie, please thank Aaron on my behalf :-)


What a wonderful son you have. Such a good story.

Donna A

What a wonderful heart-warming story. It sounds like you have a great family. Aaron has learned young what a blessing it is to be a giver. I volunteer at our local food co-op. Other than the director, it is an all-volunteer effort to help the needy in my community. It is supported by area churches. I interview clients and we give them food and help with utilities. Anyway, I always leave the co-op in a better mood than I came in with because the clients I have interviewed have all been a pleasure to work with, and it feels good to be a part of such a good cause. Thanks for such a great story. I’ll want to check out your blog regularly in the future.


Donna, I just knew it! The people on Steepster are the BEST! Love hearing how so many like you are caring about others! I’ve been on the giving end and on the receiving end of charity. Thank you for what you so lovingly do for others!

Donna A

Bonnie, I’m blessed to know a lot of people Iwho love to serve others, whether it’s here in my community, or when disaster hits elsewhere, and also by helping people in need by traveling to places like Costa Rica, Africa, etc. One cool example is a guy I know and his buddy leave their wives for a couple weeks every summer and take a road trip-this year it was to the West Coast. Their goal is to do at least 2 good deeds per day. I could write a book on the wonderful things I’ve seen people do. When you’ve been on the receiving end, it makes you want to give back. In my case, 20 years ago when my twins newborns, I had a rare cancer for which I had to go through 2 surgeries and radiation. People from my church, unasked, brought meals practically every day for a year, came and helped with my 3 yr old, hired someone to take care of the babies when I was at treatments, so my husband could keep working. It meant more to me than words can express. It is definitely much better to give than receive. Forgive me if I’ve gone on too long! You don’t see these stories about the good things people do in the news unfortunately.


I think that’s wonderful! Maybe this is where Hallmark Stories are born?! Ya Think?! Hooray for you the survivor!

Terri HarpLady

Thank you both for these wonderful stories of compassion & generosity! I love this place! :)


Me too Terri! You all are great people!

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drank Organic Guranse by Butiki Teas
676 tasting notes

I’m having an odd day.

I began with this tea, one that I like but had tucked away too long and should have been drinking. It’s not old or anything like that…but has escaped from my vision. We do that, forget a tea in the back of some other tea that we’ve taken to heart.
I shared a pot of Tangerine Guayusa with my granddaughter last night
while we made tea and chocolate dusted toffee and watched ‘The Artist’ on Netflix.
There was the Guranse…so I put it out for the morning pot of tea.

This is a yum Winter tea. It has all the maple black tea taste I remember with a bit of malt. Very nice on a cold day.

Then I read a Facebook note from my daughter. A reminder of something that happened 24 years ago today. A horror.

My daughter and 3 other girls were driving down Skyway from Paradise, CA to Chico. The road is on a ridge with canyons on both sides, quite beautiful. Two lanes up the mountain and two down with a wide buffer between. The division of upward and downward lanes wasn’t even. At times, you could look uphill or downhill on the oncoming traffic.
Katrina turned 17 on Dec. 7th and my daughter was turning 17 on the 12th. I knew the driver a little. The other girl I didn’t know. In fact, I had no idea the girls were going to Chico.

It’s amazing that all 4 girls wore their seat belts in a new convertable. California hadn’t passed a seatbelt law yet.

At some time, on one of the mountain turns…the driver lost control, flipped over and over the median and ended up in the uphill lane upside down. The driver and front seat passanger got out and my daughter and Katrina were trapped in the back.
A fire started and someone stopped with an extinguisher and put out the fire.
A tow truck driver arrived and had a heart attack and died on the spot.
The fire department arrived and used the jaws of life and cut out my daughter and Katrina.

I received a call to get to the hospital in Chico but nobody would say anything else. My son had my car and I couldn’t reach anyone to take me to the hospital for quite a bit…until I found a friend of my mom’s.
Going down Skyway, all we could see was a massive traffic jam for miles and miles…not knowing that this had anything to do with my

At the hospital I was briefed. My daughter was in shock but fine. Katrina was dead. She died instantly. My daughter didn’t know and was not to be told yet, she was still too fragile.

When I was allowed to tell her the next day, she somehow knew. She remembered and was heartbroken. What grief for such a young girl, and what a big heart she has always had full of compassion.

Every year my daughter still misses Katrina. A sweet daughter of Hawaii who lived in a difficult situation at home, but had such a pure heart and deep love for others just like my Annalisa.

I sat with her mother in a bar while she got drunk. Me, drinking coffee, making sure she got home safely. She was mad for awhile that my daughter had lived.

I can’t imagine such sadness.

Memory Eternal Katrina Afong.


Oh my gosh that is so incredibly sad. I have a friend who frequents a road that sounds similar near Los Angeles, and I swear every time he’s there he posts some update about being careful because someone’s flipped their car or lost control on a motorcycle.

Donna A

A parent’s worst nightmare! As far as the tea, it is an odd coincidence that I drank Organic Guranse this afternoon and put my review in. I liked it too.

Invader Zim

So sad, I appreciate you willing to share this with us Bonnie. I think there is someone cutting some strong onions next to me though.

Butiki Teas

Oh no, how very tragic. That sounds like such a dangerous area.


I feel good that since I posted this my daughter came by and we made some more toffee with tea infused in it. Such a sweetheart. She turns 40 on 12-12-12! No kidding!


The lapse of time when you didn’t know if Analisa was ok must have been a nightmare…I was hit by a car when I was 8 and my mom still gets chocked up when we talk about it. I can only imagine what it does to you with such a close call!


I reread your story about Mr. Gill today. So many people are sad around Holiday’s. My cousin and his wife were broadsided by a woman who ran a red light 2 days before Christmas and both were killed about 5 years ago. Nobody ever expects tragedy. Some people become bitter and hard, and others honor the memories of those they love by deeds of compassion and kindness towards others. Not easy to do, but nothing worth doing is easy as they say. I’m sure your mother is thankful for you! (So am I and we’re never met!)


Ok Bonnie, now you make me tear up…and I’ve never met you but I know kindness has your picture right next to it in the dictionary… good reminder that things must never be taken for granted.


Oh no that is a sad story. Breaks my heart.
I’ve never been in a serious car accident, but my Mum has been in two that she should not have survived. On the hwy, hit by a drunk driver going 180km/h and then yrs before that, squished between a mac truck and the guard rail.
I didn’t find out about either one til she was home safe, and I still worried about her like mad. Makes me grateful to have family. Online line and blood related xxo

Terri HarpLady

Sorry to hear this sad story, but also grateful on your behalf for your child being spared. I love the relationships you have with your children & grandkids, in part because it reminds me of the relationships I have with mine! I brought them into the world & raised them, but now they are really my best friends.
You are a strong & compassionate woman!


I know this is an odd place to write things like this, but I also know that lots of people are not happy at this time of year. I wanted to say Hey! Drop me a note if you’re sad! Drop me a note if you’re not sad too! We’re all here together!


Thanks for sharing this, Bonnie. In August of 2010 my uncle died in a motorcycle accident (he was my dad for most of my life). I always miss him this time of year.


Memory Eternal for your Uncle Claire. Of course you will always miss him.

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The only alarm clock needed this morning was the bright sun! Those of us fortunate enough to live in higher altitude’s know about sun glare and the need to wear sun glasses year around. It’s really bright out today!
My condo looked like an alien spaceship was outside shining lights under the doors and windows trying to get a beam on me in my pajama’s. No deal! No alien was going to separate me from my tea cupboard!

A nice warm sunny day usually comes right before snow, someone pointed out yesterday. (Heck, we’ve had nothing but nice sunny days
for the past year!)
It’s December! The forecast looks promising for this weekend…we hope! I that December magic with a couple of inches of snow!
I have my camera ready!

The Tea:
This morning, I wanted to practice my Gaiwan skills with the new Verdant Sheng I purchased during the Black Friday sale.

I’ve been watching the new Verdant video and practicing how to pour and strain tea, shaking off all the water from the leaves so that there is none left. (Which causes bitterness in the next steeping)

I have a small 4oz. FAT (easy to handle) white Gaiwan, and I used a small amount of hard sheng (about 1.5 tsp). Boiling water.
(It is important that the water is filtered or you may have bitter tea.) A strainer is very useful. Always rinse the leaves once first.

My infusions were as quick as I could manage (5 seconds).
The liquor was a light yellow green, and the leaves smelled like sweet salty tobacco then changed and had a sweet herb scent.

The small amount of hard Sheng I used almost filled my Gaiwan half way with big green leaves when it expanded fully.

My first tasting was smoky, salty but not harsh. The scent was light tobacco, but the leaves were still tight and hard, waiting to expand. Not much to comment on as yet.

The second tasting was softer than I imagined it would be…sweet and savory on the finish with a smoky tinge and vegital something that reminded me of the feeling when drinking a Gyokuro.

For the third and forth infusions, the light smoke and saltiness settled down and an herb flavor, Greek Oregano came to mind… with a peppery bite. The tea never became dry or harsh but stayed smooth and very easy to drink.

As I went through each steeping (now on the fifth) I realized just how smooth this Sheng was. Something that I don’t always experience with a young Sheng.
The flavors were rolling around in my head for a long time because there was a definite umami quality about it!
There, I’ve said it!
Usually this is only a term used for Green Tea, but I experienced umami as this tea hit all the sweet, salty, savory, slightly bitter taste points.

This reminded me of roasting root vegetables like potato, red onions, sweet potato, parsnips with olive oil and butter, Greek oregano and sea salt. The vegetables retain the savory quality but roasting brings out the sweetness and smokiness too.

One thing that I don’t understand much about is aging Pu’er. That’s something I have to study up on. Right now though, this is a tasty
Sheng. You just have to be careful not to oversteep or you’ll have a bitter cup.


YAY! I knew I wasn’t crazy lol. I agree, ‘umami’ is a usually a green tea characteristic but I have found some Puerh that wear it. I like it, it is soothing in my opinion.


YAY! That mean’s that I’m not crazy too, or we’re BOTH crazy!


LOL! SHHHHH! They are not supposed to know that. But honestly, I really like it, no matter how unexpected it was for me. It was very welcomed. In my experience, the ones with this trait have a longer than regular aftertaste, and as time passes it starts to become sweeter like you would have expected the aftertaste to be.

Invader Zim

After reading your review, I wonder if I get bitterness a lot because I overleaf? When I did mine (I don’t have a scale) it ended up filling my entire cup when it was fully expanded. And just so you too know, I read nothing :)

Whispering Pines Tea Company

I’ve begun using a very minimal amount of leaf with puerh and enjoy it a lot more. There’s even touchas that I cut in half to maximize flavor for me.


Invader- I don’t read notes before either as a rule. I do read brewing instructions on regular tea’s though but not information on taste. I like to make up my own mind and see how it compares. I’m more at ease with how much Shu Pu’er to use and how long to let it steep. I like mine a bit on the stronger side so no cutting Shu Tuo cha’s in half for me Whispering Pines. You can’t do the stronger brewing with a Sheng or the hairs on your head will raise up like Alfalfa from the Little Rascals. (I lost some of you with that reference!) That’s where cutting back a little works better for me too.

Invader Zim

Lol, Bonnie, when I said I read nothing, I meant of how you two are crazy! But I don’t read reviews before trying teas either. I like mine a little less strong, but I think I will start using less leaf, especially for shengs. And my hair is short enough that it does look like Alfalfa in the morning! No reference lost on me!


Me? Crazy? Heh, you tawkn to me?

Terri HarpLady

Nice review, as always, Ms. Bonnie. I haven’t tried this one yet, I was gonna drink it today, but I realized I was more in the mood for a Shu. Even though I’m still fairly new to Puer, it feels good to know which type I was in the mood for!

I’m finding that with Shu’s I usually go with 5grams of tea in my 4 oz Gaiwan, whereas with Shengs I want much less. Still not sure how much yet. 5 grams was WAY too much, even with the shortest possible steeping, 4 grams still seemed too strong, so I’m gonna try 3 next time.


Good idea. This one I think less is more. My own opinion though.


Teachat has some good threads about aging puerh if you’re interested.

Terri HarpLady

I guess I missed the ‘slamming’, must have happened when I was off playing gigs somewhere.
I find that with tea, as with all other things in my life, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder (or in this case the taste buds, etc). A tea that I love might be a total turnoff to another sipper. The price I am willing to pay, the place I put my trust (as in tea purveyors), those are things that are subject to my own experience, & no one else’s. We all share our experiences & preferences here, in what I consider a loving & open hearted community, but only I can determine what my tastes are, if it’s worth the cost, how it makes me feel, etc. I Love Verdant, more than anything because of the commitment to the authentic & unique artisan ideal, but also because the teas are awesome. I love the educational element as well.
So the bottom line, for anyone, is “Do I like this? Is it worth the price for ME?” If not, don’t buy it. No need to trash a person, or a company, just give your opinion in an open hearted way, and try something else.

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Thank you mrmopar for this sample Pu-er!

What a lovely gift I received one day a about a month ago from my friend mrmopar. Samples of Pu-er! Tears of delight, really!

Tucked into the package were little tuo cha’s that I can’t read the names of (written in Chinese) so I won’t be reviewing them, but they look like pieces of candy. Colored wrappers full of mystery.
I’m having so much fun with them!

This morning, I picked one of the chunky samples in a labeled zip bag. It looked like dark, hard and gnarly Shu Pu-erh bark. Excellent!

A quick wash first, and I was set for several infusions in my purple clay Gaiwan.

Only the first infusion had a lighter brown color. The rest was deep red-brown. The wet leaf scent was mild, more on the vanilla bread side than leather.


My first impression was, this is a good Pu-erh.

I could tell right away with the first light steeping, that there was something different about the taste. It was slightly sweet, very juicy with a spice to it that I couldn’t sort out and pin down.

The feeling of the tea in my mouth was light and smooth…with the flavor of banana skin way off in the background. At first I wasn’t convinced of that, and I walked around the room to make sure I wasn’t picking up a scent from somewhere else. Banana skin, yes.

Steeping again, a much thicker brew this time, and quite red-brown. The flavor was still not earthy or woody and no flavor of cedar either.(This was another surprise because I would have expected woodiness with such vibrant color.)
What I tasted was vanilla cream, some salt and a hint of caramel.
There was something else. Spice or herb, a savory something that I could not identify. The Pu-erh was playing with me gently.

Pouring a third time, the thick and rich broth tasted more like cedar wood with a tang that lasted just a moment…then melted away into a smooth, sweet velvety finish.

I am always tempted to add a few (very few) grains of sugar when a Pu-erh comes to the caramel, cedar, salty stage. I know what will happen next! The same flavor that you taste with quality caramels is what this Pu-erh tastes like with just a little sweetness added to it. (a little cream is nice too). I love salted creamy caramel!

Don’t misunderstand, I like my Pu-erh straight, but sometimes…it becomes dessert towards the last of the steepings.

This is a very good Pu-erh!

I wrote a story for my blog and here’s an intro if you want to read more, it’s about a time long ago when I was working at the Children’s Shelter School, Christmas (1979). www.teaandincense.com

Shelter School Christmas

Our facility was a room in an abandoned Psychiatric Hospital from the 1930’s. A big, drafty, wood and plaster building that creaked and groaned. It looked like a set from an old Hollywood movie!

Two social workers sat in the hallway at all times, while the teacher and I were alone with 10-15 students in a classroom lined with floor to ceiling bookshelves and tall windows, (a scene right out of a Harry Potter movie set). If you peeked in, you’d agree it was a strange looking scene, old radiators and wood planking.

During the Christmas Holidays I decided to plan a party. Without a kitchen, I was still able to teach the kids to make snacks. Then, we decorated by cutting colored paper rings and streamed them across the room. We made strings of popcorn and glittery stars. Each student made a soft, stuffed ornament that was theirs to keep and take to whichever group home or foster home they would be sent to.

It was important to show how to create something from little or nothing, how to celebrate when life is frightening and uncertain. It’s a great lesson in life.

We were going to finish with a party!

I taught some of the tougher hard to reach boys how to properly serve tea and snacks. We even used serving trays for our party.
These boys took their job seriously, practicing over and over again.

(the story continues)

Oh, by the way…Happy St. Nicholas Day! Dec. 6th this is celebrated in many places around the World. 4th Century Nicholas of Myra gave to the poor and defended children and women. He paid the dowery for poor women to marry (something important back then).


so glad you like it. i was stunned when i first tasted this one. i think it is a great one and got a 2007 and a 2012 version of this one to age. yummy stuff i do declare!


Oh Bonnie, what a lovely Christmas story. I wonder where those children are now. I’ll bet you are part of their fondest memories :)


Thanks for reading it I-bloom. They’re always a part of my memories too and my daughters as you read, and we talk about it now and then. I’m sure others have similar stories.


Probably,but you tell it so artfully well :D

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Last night I set up a tea tray for watching a 3 hr 25 min. long Indian movie called Jodhaa Akbar, that my daughter had recommended.

I required a large pot of tea naturally, but also the right type of tea for setting the mood.

The movie was a historical epic. Palaces, battles, silk, incense, beautiful women and handsome men of course…with music and romance (just what I want in an Indian Movie!).

I didn’t have the right Chai for this movie. I needed something exotic, a little different twist, so I created my own.

I began with a large teapot (24oz) and created a blend:
2TB Ginger Sage Winter Spa Blend
1 teaspoon of Laoshan Black
Yanxin Reserve ’04 Shu Nuggets…1 small 3/4 inch piece broken up.

I knew this was going to make a hearty brew, able to stand up to the addition of honey and cream…the same way a Chai would.

I used a glass pot so I was able to eyeball the strength I wanted, but I think about 3 minutes was the steep time. (Maybe more)

This was so good! Sweet, savory from the sage, spicy from ginger and the added tea’s and comforting. The Shu and Black tea’s gave great body creating the wonderful full, warm broth that you want in a tea mug while watching a long movie.

I filled my pot for 3 steepings without any loss of flavor. What a
great companion!


I really want to watch some Bollywood movies but I can never find any on Netflix. I guess I’m going to have to order an actual physical DVD or Blueray. Do you have any recommendations for a first Bollywood movie?

Your tea blend sounds yummy!


Monsoon Wedding for sure, the one I mentioned above Jodhaa Akbar.

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Standing on the Rim

When I ordered my brick of Pu’er, I made sure to buy a .7 oz packet for sampling right away.
I’m so new at storing larger cakes and bricks of PU that I never would have had patience to wait before diving in with my Pu’er knife like an impatient tea Zorro.

Having purchased a large brick is a leap of faith. Is this tea going to be one of those special Pu’er’s that will grow richer in time and dazzle me with exceptional flavor?

I’ve waited to read the notes from Verdant on taste until after I had tried my sample.

I used my fat, white 4oz Gaiwan and 4 grams leaf. I always use Spring Water.

The liquor was an intensely rich Auburn Brown color through all 5 infusions.

The infusions were quirky (like me).
I began with 20 seconds on the first infusion which was fine (the first infusion is usually light), but the second steeping was very strong.
I cut back the time to 10 seconds on the 3rd infusion (which is the same as an ‘instant’ steep for me since I’m a bit slow) and that was most successful!
Keep the infusions at 5-10 seconds, not longer, for best results.

Even though I went from light to heavy and back to light strength, the flavor never went weird. (No hidden boxing glove came out on that second strong steeping and popped me in the nose with a bitter left hook.)

Had I drained the energy and flavor from the tea? The oversteeping could have diluted the Pu’er.

Thankfully, the third infusion was very good, and from that point on the shorter 10 second steep times produced smooth, juicy and flavorful tastings.

All along I tasted soft, sweet ginger with a bite on the front of my tongue that lingered long after drinking the tea.
Some might say there’s a cedar wood flavor but I tasted redwood. That redwood taste is warm and sunny with a tang to it and has more body than cedar.

There was a creamy, light saltiness on the last steeping.

When I drink tea I stand on the rim of the memories in my mind. It’s like looking over the edge of a canyon at pictures far below… with signs such as these:
The Grand Canyon, Santorini, Golden Gate Bridge, Rome, Peru, Alaska, Redwood Forests, Monterey Bay.

Under these signs and pictures are sub headings such as:
Golden Gate Park, The Aurora Borialis and Hiking in the Andes. Places I’ve been and things I’ve done…like my own mental NETFLIX.

When I begin to drink a tea, I stand on that rim waiting for the tea to take me to the place it wants to go and the tea always takes me to a good memory, never a bad one.

Today, I thought about the Redwoods. Inside the Redwoods main heading was a subtitle: Santa’s Village (Scotts Valley, CA.)

This place doesn’t exist anymore, but when I was young it was a magical place tucked into the forest with real Raindeer and a Santa House with Santa Claus. The sweet smell of the enormous redwood trees and the fresh baked Gingerbread scent coming from Mrs. Claus’s pastry shoppe sounds like a strange thought to pair up with a fine Pu’er.
But wait… Redwood, ginger, earthy forest…it wasn’t that far removed from the taste of the tea!

You don’t get to choose what the journey will be. The tea does the picking.

Over the rim I gooooo and I look forward to more leaps!


I love the redwoods Bonnie, one of my favorite places to be, especially around Humboldt. Thanks for sharing your tea thoughts and memories!


Loving this review! Now, when will I be able to watch The Adventures of Zorro Bonnie and the Pu on my NETFLIX Canada?


‘Z’ zip, zig, zag! Pu’er Zorro! By the time I’m done with my Pu’er knife, it will look like Swiss Cheese. I think my technique is early Scots Coal Miner, chip…chip…chip. I can only get better with practice.


Fantastic…Simply fantastic!!!

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If you take time with tea, you can learn to listen to what it wants to say.

If you’re new to the world of tea this may seem like an odd statement. How can tea speak?

If I said that eating Turkey on Thanksgiving reminded me of my childhood home in California you would understand. And if I told you that hot chocolate with mini marshmallows on a snowy day made me think of being a kid again…picking up ice skates and going out with friends for a game of hockey…the picture would form in your mind. The Turkey and cocoa didn’t speak to me but eating and drinking them brought memories to mind.

Tea can speak to our memory also, taking us to places long forgotten but stored like jewels ready for discovery.

Pu’er tea is like an interesting memory key. The right tea opens up complex chambers often with earthy flavors that flash and turn like wood sprites.

My brewing method today was a fat 4oz white Gaiwan.
There were 7 steepings.
I played with the time beginning (after a wash) at 10 seconds then 15, 15, 20, 45, 20, 1 minute and lastly 30 seconds.
The color was light golden caramel brown changing to deep amber and back to lighter golden with the shorter steep time.

About the color: The tea glitters like the famous Amber Room of Catherine the Great!

The leaves smelled creamy and sweet. I wasn’t expecting the flavor to be as lightly sweet and smooth as it was for a first pour with a hint of vanilla honey.

I was tempted to drink quickly…in a hurry to jump into the pool of richer steepings. So impatient…forgetting the polite behavior required with my tea.

Someone far away had worked very hard for me to have this cup.

Slowly, I moved on to more steepings, remembering to look at the color, smell the leaves and enjoy each inhaled slurp tossed to the back of my throat. Ah yes, smooth and juicy…full of light brown sugar.

Halfway through the tasting, there were some memories of water …coastlines and trees, fields of flowers and mountains. Hum. I dismissed the thoughts.

I drank more tea, which was becoming more like clover honey mixed with light brown sugar. The flavor never became bitter even with the longest steep time and never became dry.

I looked for spice and there was a vapor…and poof, gone. I could not put my finger (or nose or mouth) on it. Some other time maybe.

At the bottom of the 5th steeping I noticed a chewiness and a golden raisin taste. “So,” I chuckled, “it couldn’t be that.” I decided to stick to my opinion though, and later when I read the notes on the Verdent Website and saw the flavor profile mention ‘Raisin’, I smiled.

Again, I was having those wandering thoughts about the Sea and Mountains but stopped this time to consider my tea and what it was saying.

The thoughts floating in and out…the pictures in my memory were of visits to family in Washington State.
It’s so GREEN there with lush forests and farms! The fields of flowers in the Skagit Valley go on forever, and there is WATER everywhere!

Why was I thinking about the seashore, green fields and the trees of Washington? Remembering sitting on a bench in Anacortes looking out to Orca’s Island with the sun glittering on the water? Sailing through the San Juan Islands? A drive up to the snowline of Mt. Baker?

It’s calming, restful and beautiful! http://flic.kr/p/dyqRX9

Was it the juiciness of the tea and the smooth slightly sweet flavor that brought me there? Was this my jewel and a gift from the tea?

I think so. I became rested and calm. Happy with my memories.

One thing that I’ve been known to do with Pu’er that has a hint of salt (there is just a hint here) and slight caramel (I think this is more buttery than caramel) is add a few grains of sugar.
Stand back and see what happens…few grains in…and..CARAMEL!
Very delicious!

I bought 1 cake and it’s fabulous! (This tasting is from a 7oz. sample I bought to go with it.)


I loved this review! It is making me wish I had put an order in over the weekend!

Joshua Smith

Wow, this sounds really great! I just got this in today, but I opted to try a different tea first, and now I kind of regret my decision. While Shui Xian is nice, tasting an unknown tea is so much more fun!.

Anyway, I’m glad that you enjoyed it, and I can’t wait to try it in the near future.

Whispering Pines Tea Company

Thanks for helping me remember to remember. This one brings me home. <3

Terri HarpLady

Nice review, as always, Bonnie. I just got a bunch of new teas in today, including this one, but it was late in the day and I have to get up early, so they all have to wait until tomorrow afternoon. Oh, the agony…


It will be fun to hear what everyone else experience is with this tea since we all filter through out own taste buds and experiences.


sounds yummy!
Bonnie, will you take me to the mountains please?


I-Bloom, sure…but those are at the other end of Canada at the border with the U.S. Just hop on a ferry in Vancouver or Victoria…the San Juan Island and Puget Sound area’s are gorgeous (the Canadian and U.S. Rocky Mountains are beautiful too). Sure…come to the mountains any time!


I went to Calgary once, visited Banff and it was stunning! can’t wait to go again one day


beautiful review

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drank Yu Lu Yan Cha Black by Verdant Tea
676 tasting notes

Follow-up Review:
2nd Brew Style:
A little Western Style Brew this afternoon tasted more like stepping into a heavenly bakery than a candy shoppe (see previous review).

I shared my pot of tea with granddaughter Schey, who thought this was malty without being chocolaty and sweet with a yukon potato flavor dipped in whipped cinnamon honey.

I think this is more like the Jin Jun Mei even though I think it’s totally unfair to compare this tea to any other Verdant Black Tea.

This is unique and I hope this is a tea that will join the list of regular Verdant selections!


This review makes me hungry… mmm!

Terri HarpLady

I drank it yesterday, western style, & it kind of reminded me of the Jin Jun Mai as well, but of course, it was also very different.


Worth trying in a gaiwan though. More intense and the cinnamon scent is more pronounced I think.

Terri HarpLady

I’m sure! I’m getting where I want all of my really good teas gone in the Gaiwan, but sometimes I don’t have all day to sit around sipping them that way. Then it’s the cup.


Does it have that little spicy bite that jin jun mei has?


Not to me B-Mama. The scent is cinnamon to me. Remember I have a super sensitive nose though. See what you think! The honey flavor is very lovely!


Good! I’m not a fan of the jin jun mei because of the spice. I plan to order this tea, I’m just hoping they get zhu rong back.

Terri HarpLady

What? Zhu Rong is out of stock


Yeah! I was just doing a mock up order( I almost have enough points for $10 off) and when I went to add it it said out of stock! I have inquired on fb.


Bah for being out of stock!

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drank Yu Lu Yan Cha Black by Verdant Tea
676 tasting notes

December 1, 2012 Yu Lu Yan Cha Tea arrived as a present to me.
I should be considering others, but couldn’t resist the temptation!

My main concentration was on taste and scent (which is what I will discuss). All measurements were as suggested by Verdant.

Method: Gaiwan: http://youtu.be/bp31QnuVPd4 (Wang Yanxin Brewing Yu Lu Yan Cha Black Tea)
There was 1 quick wash, followed by multiple steepings of 5-10 seconds (longer steeps with each pour). The liquor was medium gold then deeper gold, clear and vibrant.

Taste and Scent:
There was nothing predictable about this tea.
No taste or scent that I could compare it to. This isn’t Laoshan Black or Zhu Rong. Not a cleaver morphing of Golden Fleece either.
To compare one to another would be a type of Tea Blasphemy.

I took one small sip of the golden liquor and thought ‘butter’….
Off in a trailing thought…‘butter’…‘butter’….smooth and sweet and then… ‘potato’…and nothing after that.

I sat.

“What is this tea?” I wondered. There’s no chocolate flavor like the others (comparing the incomparable Verdant Black Tea’s), it’s malty, but not with a maltiness that I’ve ever tasted before.

Again I calmed myself, remembering not to rush even though I was excited. This was like opening a gift I’d been waiting for!

I poured the second steep and drank again, noticing the fragrance.

Sweet Vietnamese Cinnamon with a hint of honeysuckle floral that began to wrap around my head like the ‘Dance of the Sugerplum Fairies’. Oh yes…sweet…pastry and candies like a plate of Snickerdoodles in the Copoco Honey Shop.

There I was, sitting on my sofa but not there at all.
All I was thinking about was the Sweet Shop in Old Town.
The zillions of white twinkley lights in the trees up and down College Avenue that turn on magically at dusk every evening from October to March. Kilwins Candy Shop with handmade candies begging me to enter with the scent of fresh caramel popcorn and chocolates.
It was the buttery caramel, the spun sugar so light that a breath could crack it that drew me in past the doorway.

The tea tasted and smelled like that thinnest sweet, buttery spun sugar with a hint of honey. Somehow, the feeling is like the candy commercial on TV where the lady is looking in the window of the store and what you see is the reflection of her as a young girl.

I don’t understand how the sweetness, potato, butter, malty, honey, caramel and cinnamon flavors all dance together with such abandon on the lightest of tea toes without a mishap. What a show!

This is another exquisite tea!

Happy Tea To You! Happy Tea To Me! My Holiday’s Are in Full Swing!

http://youtu.be/eQemvyyJ—g Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy on the Glass Armonica

http://flic.kr/p/dtcfQA The Lights.


Ahhhh jealousss!!!! Still have to wait a few days before my pouch of this arrives and now I’m even more impatient!


Oh man now I’m totally impatient to gt this one


Our order is en route, Sil!


I’ll be interested in how this will taste Western Brewed. The Gaiwan method was so good.


Love a tea that brings Fairies to my cup :-) This act of Tchaikovsky Casse noisette (Nutcraker) puts me instantly in a Holiday mood, thanks for bringing that to my Sunday morning Bonnie!


Awww, I almost bought this one and then opted not to. Shucks.


Bonnie you are a wizard of words. This sounds SO yummy




I love your description Bonnie and I agree! Do not oversteep! I tried this tea the first time using the brewing steps in the video and it turned out quite lovely! (I love the slight cooling sensations that dance across your palate!) I didn’t prefer a western style brew for this tea.. It came out strong and savory in a strange way….in my opinion, steeping it out gongfu style is definitely the way to go with this tea! I love this tea, it’s such a comforting tea, I feel like I could drink it everyday!


Wow Paul! I wish I was in your small farm community Senior Center! They are so fortunate to have you!


love the images you connected to


Thank you Kashyap!


I hope you weave your stories into your tea reviews! I want to hear more! Sounds like a good book to me! Tell your crew hello!

Terri HarpLady

Paul, I play at retirement homes quite often, and there is one that I have played at on the 2nd tuesday of each month for 12 or 13 years now, during what they call “High Tea with Harp”. I love going there to play for them, they all call me ‘young lady’ (I’m 54, which IS young there), and of course, they are just drinking lipton from teabags, and having some cookies, but it’s one of my favorite gigs ever.

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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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