17 Tasting Notes

drank Kukicha by Dobra Tea
17 tasting notes

Kukicha will always have a special place in my heart…like a long-ago lover whom one remembers in moments of sweetness. And the taste, just as sweet.
The crisp stems stand for that special connecting place between root and leaf—they are the bright conduits between soil and sun, kundalini coils by which energy may spiral back and forth between realms. Drinking this tea, I always get a little crazy with light.
The first tea reading I had, I chose kukicha…
The reader told me that stems indicate men, admirers, or lovers…which was absolutely hilarious because there were ONLY stems, no leaves!!! At least, as I was blushing, I must have made a nice rosy contrast to the shiny chartreuse green of the liqueur!

160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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I can’t think of anything else in the world that shares its sumptuous hue…except perhaps the vitrinous waters of a brook lined with bright Zisha clay, the vermillion colors slowly swirling over the vibrant roots of river reeds…
Always changing…no brew has been the same. Watching the honeyed coils of buds melt open in the cup, one witnesses the miracle of late winter’s opening unto spring. The taste bespeaks of the manes of wild horses, dark dens made of willow, and all those grateful moments when one welcomes and greets the warming…
A tea of thanks. I brewed this tea for my mother and I as we celebrated her birthday today.

Traveling Shrine

P.S. Like Bi Lo Chun, this tea is saturated with the fluffy “keefy” dust of the hairy tips, but in this case, it is a stunning bright orange powder!

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I’ve become quite a fan of brewing the finer black teas of China with zhongs and not filters. In such a small vessel, the leaves seem to fill the entire space with their burgeoning flavors, and more infusions can be gained with a quicker and more surprising succession of brews.
Late afternoon awakener, for the days when one wishes to linger in sleep. Notes of bittersweet cacao paired with the deep satin texture of this tea makes any gray day luxurious. I read somewhere that Qi Men means “Great Gate,” the energy of opening.
A Ganesha tea, obstructions and limits clear away under its influence.
3 min, if using a teapot, or by intuition via zhong ;-)

Traveling Shrine

Forgot to mention, but accompanying this tea with cacao-like delicacies is a sure-fire route to supreme bliss. Sensual Enlightenment!!!! I had it with a cacao-blue green algae Wildbar and Maca-Manna butter……………..no further words possible!

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Astringent, but polite…the leaves dance vertically in the cup, whirling rods of “yellow” energy. A tribute to the inner emporer, feeds the inner majesty…

165 °F / 73 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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“inherited” these jasmine pearls when I moved out of my old apartment in November. I have no clue where they come from. I originally thought they might be the pearls we were selling at Dobra (from Tao of Tea), but these pearls are not as delicious as the Tao of Tea ones, so they can’t be!!!
Still, as the first tea of the day, accompanying my english muffin with homemade guava-prickly pear jelly, these precious pearls are a refreshing and romantic pick-me-up. A tea that coaxes the senses to wake and engage with the world. People poo-poo jasmine too much. But a classic is a classic for a reason.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 15 sec
Ben Youngbaer

I have some jasmine pearls you should try, they are from china and they have some rose buds in them = delicious. Jasmine can be an amazing experience or headache inducing, the pearls I have are the former.

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teagasm! (ok, I’m terribly partial to aged oolongs, but still…)
An ancient oak door opening onto a scene from a childhood dream, a secret garden overgrown with memory and bittersweet vines, the words of the elders making poetry in this malty cup.
Delectably rich, with notes of walnut, mahogany, winter squash, and caramel, but not as pungent as the Ali Shan 1991. A tea to surrender to. Must be prepared in zhong or gong fu to really appreciate.

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec
Ben Youngbaer

I’m going to have to try this. Aged oolongs are certainly teas to be reckoned with. Sometimes the Ali Shan was a little to intense for me, depending on my mood and the infusion so I’d probably like this more. No way it’s better than pre-1970 Bai Hao though. only 30 seconds? kinda surprising for aged.

Traveling Shrine

Well, I find the only way to really enjoy aged oolongs is via gong fu or zhong, so 30 seconds then is actually a bit long! There are so many intricacies to be discovered when one opts for several quick infusions rather than only a few longer brews. I have also often found the suggested brew time (from Camellia Sinensis) to be surprisingly long and always wondered why that is…perhaps they use less tea per pot? (for example, we would never brew an oolong for 4 min at Dobra!) Tis a mysterie. Maybe we can can have a degustation sometime—most of my tea friends don’t really appreciate aged oolongs! The powerful aromas and tastes freak them out!

Ben Youngbaer

Not appreciate aged oolongs? Blasphemy. Oolong workshop would be amazing and/or Pu-er. I always made sure to use my zhong with the ‘68 (except when drinking with others). I tried infusing for shorter and longer times and I found that the suggest 14mins or whatever Camellia wrote down worked and tasted quite good but it tasted it’s best at around 7 mins with a little bit hotter water. maybe they do use less tea per pot though. I’ve seen books that have steep times for Japanese greens for 5mins and up with just-off boiling water. Quite curious.


Ben, this is a very different tea that the Ali Shan. I agree with you that it can be a very intense tea, especially the charcoal roasted version. It’s a great dessert tea, but not a great “session” tea in my opinion.

The ’78 Bao Zhong, on the other hand, is one that you can really go the distance with. Very smooth and flavorable, with hints of the original fruit and vegetal qualities sneaking through in the later infusions.

As for the recommended brew times from CS, I asked one of their employees about it the last time I was in the shop. She informed me that because most of their customers brew with large teapots or teabags, they give longer recommended infusion times. I found that a bit confusing as the teas they carry appeal more to advanced tea drinkers who are probably doing gong fu or at least using a gaiwan.

That said, I find that most aged oolongs can hold up well under longer infusions done gong fu style, and not as much leaf is needed. Longer brews for these teas rarely become bitter; just more concentrated.

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Tastes like fresh rain dripping from spring blooms…I oversteeped the third infusion and it was still preciously sweet. Creamy but not thick. A darling tea!

195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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Tea combines the all sensual, earthly, sacred, social, philosophical, and artistic elements of this world. It is where culture meets nature gently, as in an offering to dance. It is part ritual, part impossible moment—“one meeting, one chance.”

I am a chaiwala because the tea experience is a way of sharing in a great reverence—for nature, for pleasure, for the present moment, for each other— a reverence that the busy world often forgets.


Burlington, VT



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