Silk Road Teas

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Recent Tasting Notes

70

I brewed this up this morning for the monthly prompt “drink a pu’erh tea.” I bought these back in 2018 at a co-op Derk told me about located in San Francisco, on a trip to visit my friend Todd.

I’m just not hugely a fan of mini tuo shou… so far all that I’ve tried have pretty much tasted the same to me. It’s not bad, but not really my thing, either. I used a whole mini tuo in 12 oz. of 205F water and let it steep somewhere between 5-10 minutes. There is a bit of that “marsh water” flavor I’ve never been fond of, but it leans more mineral and smooths it out a bit into more of a petrichor note, which I find more appealing. The expected dank, wet earthiness is present, and just a hint of a peppery smoke.

Flavors: Earth, Mineral, Pepper, Petrichor, Smoke, Smooth, Wet Earth, Wet Moss, Wet Rocks

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

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78

I purchased this sample at a co-op in San Francisco that derk told me about, back in… 2018, I believe? (I don’t think I’ve even been able to get back out to California, where my best friend lives, since that time…) I drank a cuppa western yesterday morning, but decided to gong fu brew it this morning (What?! Two gong fu sessions this month?!) Just enough leaf left for one more western brew, as well.

Using as my (final!) March sipdown prompt, “a tea with spinach/artichoke notes.”

180ml (mini pot) | 10g | 205F | Rinse/25s/30s/35s/15s/15s/15s

The leaf after the rinse has a strong sour vegetal aroma (an amalgamation of kale, spinach, and basil), and the leaf has expanded so much it fills my tiny pumpkin teapot! The tea on the other hand smells sweet and floral… lilacs, honey, and cream. The flavor tastes a bit perfumy on the first infusion, with a strong sharpness at the end of the sip and a coating, somewhat oily floral left on the tongue. Second steep was the same, leaving me to question if I just haven’t figured out leaf ratios for gong fu correctly since my western cup was smooth smooth smoooooooooth without any sourness or overly-obnoxious floral. Third steep was a bit more mild, but still more astringent than I prefer… the floral, however, had subsided a bit and vegetal notes started to come out, a bit of a spinachy/garden peas note. On the fourth infusion I decided to cut back the infusion time rather than increase it, which helped some, but I still wasn’t a fan of the thickly floral aftertaste.

I finished out the water I’d boiled at six steeps. Perhaps I botched this gong fu session, but I preferred the western cup, which was a very smooth cup with that lovely lilac cream aroma, with a warm garden peas/spinach vegetal note followed by honeyed cream and soft lilacs, and absolutely no sour or astringent notes. Rating is based on the pleasant western brew rather than this lackluster gong fu session. I’m glad I still have enough leaf left to do another western brew cup!

Flavors: Cream, Floral, Garden Peas, Honey, Lilac, Mineral, Smooth, Spinach, Vegetal

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 12 OZ / 350 ML
derk

Looking back at my old note, and reading yours, I should’ve tried this western! Not all oolong are best in tiny teapots. Happy Belated, btw!

Mastress Alita

Thank you!

I seem to have it in my head that I typically am “doing tea wrong” because I prefer to western brew over gong fu brew, and that certain tea types in particular (like puerh or oolong) really must be done gong fu. I think this is proof I need to get out of my head so much! (Or I need to figure out how to “gong fu better,” heh.)

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82

Skysamurai’s TTB Thank you!
Pu-erh. It is always hit or miss. Especially when flavoured. And tuo chas? Some were better, some were awful. Well, well…
Tea #8
Decided to brew it grandpa in 300 ml cup. It is actually good! Very “dark” taste, but not fishy, stinky, whatever. It was clean shu aroma.

Taste was strong as well, but on the other hand it was mellowed with floral notes from chrysanthemum. It is earthy, but so good taste. Surprising. I had such a low expectations and it is over them so much.

I like to be surprised. This tea is one of those teas.

Flavors: Floral, Wet Earth

Preparation
Boiling 10 OZ / 300 ML

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82

2021 Homemade Advent Calendar Swap – Day 2
From Skysamurai.

Starting late today. Having this highly caffeinated puerh at nearly 4pm probably isn’t my best idea, but here we are. After a quick rinse, this steeped up a lovely shade of red. As my husband said, it almost looked like hibiscus. Maybe not quite that red, but it definitely turned pink once I added my requisite cream (or in this case – half & half).

My first thought when opening this little nugget is that it smells just like chamomile. So interesting! It also has that earthy puerh aroma as expected, but it’s definitely not fishy like some I’ve had. The flavor is rich and also tastes a little like paper (?). But not in a bad way, if that makes any sense at all.

Overall, I really liked this one. Adding it now to my ever-growing wishlist which, much like my TBR, will likely never be completely whittled down.

Flavors: Chamomile, Paper, Wet Earth

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 10 OZ / 295 ML

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drank Pearls of Jade by Silk Road Teas
2757 tasting notes

My toes were cold so I made miso soup for lunch, which made my toes colder because I ran outside barefoot to pick greens and chives for the soup. With miso soup, I always try to have green tea, although if it is a red miso I will do oolong.

I was feeling ashamed of myself for opening so many new teas (and for buying new teas) so I decided to finish this sample of Pearls of Jade. It is a green tea but based on appearance I would thought it was an oolong.

Sometimes I fail pretty spectacularly at multi-tasking. I was trying to make the soup, make the tea, and prepare omelettes with turmeric and thyme for the dogs at the same time, and without thinking I dumped the remains of the sample into my Kamjove. (Sam is having allergy issues again. Thus the turmeric.)

Fortunately, I did steep for the right amount of time at the right temperature. I didn’t even think about how much leaf I used until after the meal.

During the meal, the first sip was KAPOW cinnamon. I wondered if I had made a Christmas tea in this basket but I could swear I haven’t. It was really good. It was after the soup was gone that I noticed the tea was super strong. And then I realized I had used almost enough for a whole pot in a little Kamjove. Good thing I had resteeped and combined or this could have been too much.

As it is, I have a nicely brisk green tea that is making me feel a little more energized. My tongue is tingly, there is a little sharpness to the last bit of tea, but nothing unpleasant. I think if I had leafed it correctly it would far less brisk. I am getting some lovely floral aromas from the cup.

This tea is at minimum three years old and probably older, so I would say it must have at quality to hold up so well. But I expect that from Silk Road.

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drank Pearls of Jade by Silk Road Teas
1749 tasting notes

Starting with a 5-second rinse and a 45-second steep. Slowly making my way through all of my open green teas. I don’t turn to green tea often, so they tend to accumulate while my favorite black teas get picked time and time again. Turning to Oh, How Civilized yet again for tips on making a good cup. I normally steep longer so maybe that’s why my green teas typically turn out bitter.

https://www.ohhowcivilized.com/green-tea/

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 45 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
ashmanra

Nice, informative page. Thank you for sharing it!

Mastress Alita

I use a lot less leaf than most (a mere 2g for a 12 oz cup) and never steep longer than 2 minutes. Works well for me. I find if you just dump a “perfect spoon” in, it always tastes super bitter to me.

Shae

I’ll try that, thank you! I have SO MANY green teas, mostly from subscriptions, that I just can’t seem to get through.

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93

2020 Lot, but drinking the last of it now January 2021. Back in 2020 Silk Road Teas did a tea Zoom in which they featured three different teas. Dragonwell, Silver Needle, and this one. The Black Fragrance I am currently drinking is not labeled, nor does it say kung fu on the page anywhere, so I’m assuming they changed the name. I was going to make a page set aside from this one and label it, Black Fragrance – Hei Xiang – Rare Lot, but because they are the same farm, same nameish, and same processing I figured it would be better to compare notes here. This is one of those teas that you could rate simply based on the price. Price-based ratings are, in my opinion, not the true opinion though because you could really not like it but force yourself to say you do because of how expensive it is. That being said even without knowing the true price still thought this one was stellar and I am grateful to be able to taste something that is not exported out of China, generally, (I guess though now we can say it is? Albeit in tiny, tiny batches.)

Because I bought this in a Zoom package I didn’t see the original price so my opinion wasn’t influenced by it. My initial reaction was it was good but had way to many hay notes. Fresh hay is fine but I’m not really a fan of those hay in stable notes, though I did have a silver needle from Ceylon the other day that was very good with those notes.

This time around I’m smelling clean earth. The flavor still has those farm hay notes but I realized after a few sessions that I liked this one best within a minute of steeping. It then revealed light molasses and sometimes brown sugar. The mouthfeel is very soft with no astringency.

White Antlers

Your review was interesting because it reminded me of my days as a rabid perfume collector. At that time, I was part of an online perfume community-the scent version of Steepster. Back in the late 90s, many European perfume rleases were nigh on impossible to get in the U.S. When someone would be able to source one, by hook or by crook, s/he would write up a glowing review, to the envy of everyone else who did not have the resources to obtain The Precious. Often the coveted scent was poorly blended or just so freakishly odd that it was not particularly wearable outside of ones own home. (A scent called ‘Dinner by BoBo’ comes to mind). So the fabulous reviews were invariably a mixture of guilt aka buyer’s remorse and a sort of childish ‘nyah nyah-I could afford this. I now have this and YOU don’t.’ Thanks for prompting me to walk down perfume memory lane.

Skysamurai

@White Antlers. Thank you for sharing! That is fascinating!

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82

Mastress Alita’s January sipdown challenge Tea #3: New tea

additional notes:  Since sipping down a NEW tea would be near impossible for me, I decided that “new” could mean a tea from the first three pages of my Steepster cupboard if ordered by ‘recent’, so here we go.  This one counts as “new” to me? Yes? Sure.  It was a lovely sendoff- somehow I was tasting mostly almond, actual almond.  I’m glad I could finish this great green before it was years old.
2022 sipdowns: 5

gmathis

I think dragonwell is my favorite green tea variety—it sounds like you choose a good one!

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82

SkySamurai’s mystery advent tea #3 – backlog from 12/16
The leaves here look very much like Dragonwell to me – flat and wide!  The fragrance of the dry leaf at first was sweet then somehow became very vegetal, almost like sauerkraut which I don’t really like.  But this was an odd association with this tea.  The flavor is fantastic – a very high quality green – smooth, sweet, creamed corn, hints of veggies (but luckily no sauerkraut.) A great green.  The second steep is extremely sweet and creamed corn! My guess is still very much Dragonwell green.  Was I correct? Yes.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons // 45 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 35 minutes after boiling // 2 min

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72

An Ode to Tea challenge – K Redux

Another letter revisited to get to a sipdown!  Only had a half teaspoon remaining of this, so I went with half mug steeps.  It’s fine, but too light for me to love it.
2021 sipdowns: 60

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72

SkySamurai’s mystery advent tea #2  – backlog from 12/15
This is an interesting one – it almost looks like the lighter tea from yesterday, but with a darker leaf.  Like a black silver needle – big and fuzzy leaves with maybe a hint or two of gold.  The scent of the dry leaf is like lychee but also with that aroma that keemun has that I can never describe.  I was debating on using two teaspoons, but went with one.  However the flavor is very light and the brew looks light as well.  But the flavor definitely seems like keemun and definitely not lychee.   My guess is that it’s a very fancy big leaf keemun!   Sadly I prefer the less fancy (cheapy!), very dark and strong keemun. Was I correct? NO.  I have never heard of “Black Fragrance” so there was no way I would guess this one. :D I wish I had liked this better. Maybe it needed more leaf.
Steep #1 // 1 teaspoon // 20 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3-4 min

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89

An Ode to Tea challenge – S

Another I assumed would be a sipdown, but next time.  Since this is cheating (for my personal sipdown challenge), I should really be finding another appropriate lettered tea that IS a sipdown for each letter.   I wanted to drink this lovely tea while fresher anyway.  It’s so delicate and fluffy!  Like a healthy cotton candy, maybe lemon flavored.   A very unique white I wouldn’t mind stocking up on.  Uping the rating from 84. Thanks again for introducing me to it, SkySamurai!

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89

SkySamurai’s mystery advent tea #1 – backlog from 12/14
These mystery teas will be a treat.  I’m actually writing this on 12/14 but can’t post until I look at the paper and know what the tea is.  Thanks very much SkySamurai!!   This looks to be a very fuzzy leafed green or white tea.  The aroma of the leaf is sweetly vegetal.  I probably should have done a rinse with such a fuzzy leaf.  I haven’t had one of these types in a while!  The flavor is like cucumber tea sandwiches.  Cooling to taste like clear minerals, a field of hay.  The second steep is more minerals and a hint of creamy lemon.  The brew color of the tea could almost be a normal mug of water.  It’s very good today and I’m happy to have steeped this today. I remember mostly having this type of tea from Teavivre. My guess: a silver needle white.  Was I correct? Yes.
Steep #1 // 2 loose teaspoons // 40 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 35 minutes after boiling // 2 min

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87

Wonderful oolong, floral and honeyed. Drink it in the garden

Flavors: Champagne, Flowers, Gardenias, Honeysuckle, Sweet

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 30 sec 6 g 10 OZ / 300 ML

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82

Very nice puerh, I’ve been drinking this almost daily. Great in a teapot and delicious in the gaiwan with a 20 second steep for 2 or 3 times. Brewed stronger and/or in the first steep: rich red hue and cocoa nib like flavor. Candy cap mushroom and slight earthiness while still being very clean.

Flavors: Cacao, Cedar, Earth, Licorice, Mushrooms, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 5 g 10 OZ / 300 ML

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80
drank Camel's Breath by Silk Road Teas
1239 tasting notes

Brewed my last mini tuo of this grandpa style in a 16oz mug. I think I got 3 refills on top of the original pour. Good strength for 4.5g of shou.

This reminded me a lot of a freebie no-name mini tuo I picked up from the SF Tea Fest, offered by Imperial Tea Court. This one, though, was a different shape: classic birds nest vs the flat puck from ITC. I bought a small handful of these Camel’s Breath from bulk tea section at the co-op.

Dark, smooth, oily and briny, lots of leather and barnyard. There was a distinct finish to this tea, something almost gamey-musky or cheese-like in taste. Sounds gross but it complemented the brininess very well. I feel like I should be working in a horse barn at the edge of coastal cliffs when I drink this. Spent material reveals no fannings only finely chopped leaf. Daily drinker type of tea.

Flavors: Barnyard, Fur, Leather, Salty, Smooth, Umami

Preparation
Boiling 4 g 16 OZ / 473 ML
Kittenna

Fur is not a flavor I’ve seen listed before, nor one that I can imagine!

derk

You’ve never licked a furry animal? I laughed when I saw fur in the flavors list so I threw it in. It fits the theme.

Mastress Alita

They have “fur” but don’t have many of the things I’m constantly looking for as flavors like “chamomile”, “pomegranate”, “water chestnut”, or “furniture polish.” Go figure. Sadly using the “add a flavor note” and “add an ingredient” doesn’t seem to do anything because I have e-mail history showing I e-mailed in “pomegranate” over a year ago and it was never put on the list, so I just gave up.

Kittenna

Sad. I’m not good enough at identifying flavours to use that feature, but it would be nice if it worked!

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89

It’s done, it’s done! I have tasted and written a note about all of the teas in my Steepster cupboard! Huzzah!

And I’m still on track to make my sipdown stretch goal for February. Now, of course, I do have about 16 pu erh samples left to taste and maybe one or two random others. But when I started this taste-everything-in-the-cupboard adventure, it seemed incredibly daunting. And now it’s done.

And this tea is an interesting note to end on. I didn’t have it listed in the cupboard until last weekend when I discovered I hadn’t put it in there. And there is precious little information available about it online.

I had thought it was a sheng because of the “greencake” reference, but then when I opened up the cake, I found a Menghai Tea Factory description of Yunnan Chitsu Pingcha inside. When I Googled that, I was pretty sure it was a shu.

The cake itself didn’t give away much when I sniffed it. It was sort of that chocolate tree thing, but not clearly so — and it could have been earthy mushroom just as easily. If I was more of a sophisticate with pu ehr, I probably would have gotten clued in through the leaves, which were big and broad and flaked off the cake easily.

But after rinsing at boiling and letting the leaves rest 15 minutes, I went ahead and did the first steep as a shu, at 10 seconds.

It was then pretty easy to figure out this was a sheng. Lighter colored liquor than the espresso color of shu, rather an orange-gold (apricot? amber?) color, and a definite rich, buttery, caramel-espresso note in the aroma.

The first steep was pretty intense because it was 10 seconds rather than 5. Thereafter, I backtracked, and did 5/5/7/7/10/20/30/40/60 in the gaiwan.

And now I believe I am experiencing what it is like to be a little tea-drunk. Tipsy, really. I’m a little light headed after 20 steeps of sheng between this and the last. A weird, but pleasant feeling.

This is a tasty tea — actually I find it very similar to the last one I had today in terms of flavor, but without the fruity note. It is also less astringent, and has a really nice sweet aftertaste, which is what the note inside the wrapping said it would have.

I think I’ve become a pu erh convert, though honestly, I think I am far less likely to be forgiving of a pu erh I don’t like than any other sort of tea. The ones I’ve enjoyed are really enjoyable. The ones I haven’t are…. well, among the worst tea experiences I have had.

Flavors: Butter, Caramel, Earth, Espresso, Mushrooms, Smoke, White Chocolate

tea-sipper

CONGRATS now you can revisit your favorite teas. :D

__Morgana__

Thank you! I can’t believe it’s done. LOL.

Kawaii433

What a nice relief, great job!

Evol Ving Ness

Well done, Morgana!

Kittenna

Amazing! That’s not a goal I have any hope of achieving anytime soon, but it hopefully really puts things into perspective :)

mrmopar

Awesome! I doubt I will ever hit that level..

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79

Happy Chinese New Year all. :D

Classic aromas, classic taste. Interesting name. I like it lol.

It has a super dark liquor, thick and almost looks like black syrup. The taste though was surprisingly mellow although rich, full-bodied. I was apprehensive at first looking at it. It’s smooth, earthy, mushrooms, little sweetness, typical fermentation notes, light leather. No fishiness, no bitterness. Lots of flavor throughout, no serious change in notes from steep to steep, just steady and pleasant… But am stopping here, for now, it’s 2 a.m. hehe

Daily drinker.

Yixing gaiwan, mini tuocha, 212°F, 110ml, rinsed twice, 6 steeps: 5s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 25s, 35s

Thank you Derk! :D

Flavors: Earth, Leather, Mushrooms, Smooth, Sweet, Wet Earth

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 4 OZ / 110 ML

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drank Darjeeling by Silk Road Teas
1236 tasting notes

Is this black tea exciting? Not really.

Is it appreciated by my Red Rose loving parents? Yes, it absolutely is.

This one might be perfect for casual black tea drinking when you don’t want to break into your fancier and frillier stash, as well as for guests who want tea but aren’t used to loose leaf or who think the title “Yunnan Pure Bud Golden Snail” is a bit intimidating to start.. Although, I find the Snail wins people over regardless of their prior concerns and biases (such an amazing tea; why is it not in stock and why am I on a tea buying hiatus?).

Flavors: Floral, Grapes, Hay, Malt

Evol Ving Ness

hahahha—I love your tasting notes. :)

gmathis

Some teas are just like your black socks. Serviceable, dependable, goes with just about anything. (But the polka dotted ones are much more fun!)

CrowKettle

I love your sock analogy. Also a timely reminder to buy more black socks! (Tea buying hiatus doesn’t mean sock buying hiatus :P)

gmathis

One year, my husband invented the “Sock of the Month Club.” On the first of each month, I’d find a new pair of (dollar shop, usually) socks on the dresser. My favorites were the Hanukkah socks and the Frankenstein socks, which I cheerfully and rebelliously wear off-season most of the year.

CrowKettle

That’s amazing. I generally wear my seasonal socks year round too. They are usually some of my coziest pairs!

Evol Ving Ness

gmathis, thank you for sharing your husband and his brand of joy with us. Delightful!

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63

Finished off this sample with another go at gongfu, this time using 4.5g/212F/6 steeps and also a western steep with 3g/195F/2 steeps.

For gongfu, the boiling water didn’t seem to effect the tastes at all. In terms of texture, the astringency was not effected and the liquor thickened up some. The tea did open up quicker, this time on the second steep. The leaf can steep for upwards of 10 minutes for the last few infusions without developing off flavors. I’d suggest brewing this tea at boiling instead of the Silk Road recommended 195F.

Western was a wreck though at 195F and the most dominant quality was that tartness in the back of the mouth that’s also prominent in tieguanyin oolong. Not something I appreciate shrug

Dropping the rating. It just doesn’t do it for me.

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63

5g, 100mL teapot, 195F, no rinse, 5 steeps of 30/45/60/75/90s

Somehow this sample I picked up form the bulk tea section of the co-op ended up in a jar at home that formerly housed onion powder?!? You can guess what the dry nuggets smelled like :/ They weren’t entirely cloaked by that odor and I could smell some toastiness underneath. Warmed leaf also smelled toasty.

The onion powder scenting didn’t come through in taste. The tea was pretty mellow for the first 3 steeps with light toasty, peachy, honey and fruit flowers tastes. Clear tawny hue, light-bodied with some astringency. Aftertastes were also light but hung around for a while. Not much aroma. With the fourth steep, the flavors really came forward with additions of apricot, lemon, minerals, wood and cream and some fluffy lactic acid tartness around the salivary glands. Fifth steep and it was done.

Given that the tastes didn’t really open up until the fourth steep, I’m thinking this tea might do well with a longer western infusion. I’d also like to increase the temperature to see how the tea responds, hopefully without gaining more astringency.

Flavors: Apricot, Cream, Fruit Tree Flowers, Lemon, Mineral, Peach, Tart, Toasty, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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91

The pearls have a lovely light jasmine scent in the tin.

After steeping, they make a very pale yellow liquor that is clear, and smells deliciously of juicy jasmine flowers.

The flavor is mild, but a lovely jasmine that has some juiciness to it and isn’t painted on or at all artificial tasting. The tea has no bitterness, and adds a nice greenness to the flavor without in any way dominating it.

And it goes really well with leftover turkey.

Flavors: Green, Jasmine

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 500 OZ / 14786 ML

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74
drank Keemun Quimen by Silk Road Teas
1239 tasting notes

It turns out I had to leaf it harder.

Western again: 4g this time, 8oz, upped to 205F, 2 steeps at 2m30/4m.

The dry leaf, which I didn’t mention before, is very chopped and isn’t too fragrant but does smell of bittersweet chocolate and berry. The brewed tea is deeply orange-red and very evocative of autumn. It still smells like lipstick, red wine, malt and citrus (orange?), now with an addition of oats. Tastes fruitier than with 2g and the oat and citrus in the scent come through in the mouth. Still also has a note of autumn leaf. The most noticeable differences are a moderate mineral tone and slight touch of bitterness that give the tea some depth.

It’s decent daily drinking material. I’m out of it now but there’s still some tweaking to be done with the brewing parameters.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 30 sec 4 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
ashmanra

Aaaaargh! I had a chance to buy this Saturday and decided to be good and wait until my stash is smaller! Whyyyyy?

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74
drank Keemun Quimen by Silk Road Teas
1239 tasting notes

I have no idea if this is the right tea. I purchased some Silk Road Teas ‘Keemun’ from the bulk section of the co-op. Usually the co-op labels the teas thoroughly but I couldn’t find plain old Keemun on the Silk Road website so I’m dropping this here.

With that out of the way, prepared western with 2g, 8oz, 200F, 3/5m, this tea tastes like the smell of lipstick, autumn leaf and some berry. Smells better than it tastes with notes of red wine, malt and citrus. Actually, the aroma kind of smells like lipstick, too. I happen to like the smell of lipstick but can’t say I enjoy drinking it.

I think I have to play around with it more and adjust the rating accordingly.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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