Tao Tea Leaf

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Recent Tasting Notes

I quite like this tea, but can also understand some of the negative reviews here. The amber liquor smells of strong sweet hay, while the wet leaves smell of sweet hay, a hint of tobacco, and another strange sweetness that I can’t really place. I brewed with about 225ml of water, and poured the water slowly from some height to help the tightly compressed leaves open up. That worked really well. The liquor is smooth in the mouth, with just a bit of astringency and the hay flavour is strong. I found the qi to be substantial and enjoyable.

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 8 OZ / 225 ML

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Grassy and nutty notes and smelled amazing. I’ve never smelled jasmine flowers before!

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drank Lime Green by Tao Tea Leaf
1885 tasting notes

Another sample from GCTTB

Unfortunately I strongly disliked this one. The sickly sweet licorice root was disgusting and I wouldn’t finish the cup. From what I did taste, this blend is heavy on the licorice root which gives it a metallic root flavour. Something roasty (the licorice root?), some lemongrass, a hint of lime flavour, and something fruity (apple or lemon). Even licorice lovers might find this undrinkable. It tastes like stevia in water with some lime and lime essence.

Flavors: Citrus, Lemongrass, Licorice, Lime, Medicinal, Metallic, Mint, Sweet, Taro Root

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 15 OZ / 450 ML

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I’ve discovered that the secret to bringing the cinnamon out of this tea is to use a lot of it. I used to put about 4 or 5 g of tea in a 120 ml vessel, but adding a couple extra grams makes all the difference. I steeped 7 g of tea in my 120 ml teapot at around 195F for 10, 12, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 120, and 160 seconds.

In the pot, the dry leaves smell like cereal, roasted spices, and char. The first steep has initial impressions of wood, roast, cereal, honey, and char, with the cinnamon lurking at the end of the sip. The cinnamon is more roasted and mellow than spicy, and I might not have classified it as such if I hadn’t been looking for it. The tea is a bit drying and has a reasonably long aftertaste.

The roast really ramps up in steep 2. I don’t think I oversteeped it, but it sure tastes that way. Gone are the cereal and sweetness, and the cinnamon is relegated to the aftertaste.

Steep 3, at 15 seconds, isn’t so roasty, and the original notes come through again. Still, this tea is a little too roasted for me. The sweetness gradually diminishes over the next three steeps until, by steep 6, it’s not nearly as complex. The cinnamon has virtually disappeared by this point. By steep 10, when I called an end to the session, the tea was just charcoal water.

This Rou Gui was good, with a nice cinnamon note if I use enough tea. However, I’m just not as fond of Wuyi oolongs as I am of greener ones.

Flavors: Char, Cinnamon, Drying, Grain, Honey, Mineral, Roasted, Wood

195 °F / 90 °C 7 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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drank Purple Pu-er (Sheng) by Tao Tea Leaf
418 tasting notes

I have really liked some other purple leaf sheng that I’ve tried, so I was pretty excited to grab a little baggie of this from the TTB last time it came into my possession. Unfortunately, this one was a bit of a let-down. The dry leaf had a slightly fruity aroma – after a rinse, they smelled sweeter with a bit of a vegetal note and another something that was really familiar, but which I was unable to place.

I didn’t get a whole lot else from the tea. Some bitterness and vegetal sweetness, maybe just a touch of raisin-y fruitiness. The tea was pretty drying from the start and got more so as the session progressed. Pretty meh the whole time. I only had about 4g of this one, so I don’t have enough to try it again, so that’s that I guess!

Flavors: Drying, Fruity, Vegetal

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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Bought this a few weeks ago when Tao Tea Leaf was having a sale. It is a fairly nice tea. It is probably not as strong as I expect a breakfast tea should be. It has a malty note and I would say a bit of a fruity note. Overall a nice tea. I am being lazy this morning and steeping my tea western style. But breakfast teas were really meant for this kind of steeping anyway.

I brewed this tea one time in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker with 3 tsp leaf and 200 degree water for 3 minutes.

Flavors: Fruity, Malt, Sweet

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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Just the perfect amount of floral today, in the first few infusions. Seriously. Really needed that.
And I finally noticed that same roastiness from the High Mountain tea version, in this one. Funny, my last cup didn’t have it at all.
Later steeps have a much more complex nature to it. Less floral and more mineral and apricot. Also getting what they mean about sugar cookies. There is a sweetness in all the infusions that hangs out through the whole sip. Oh and a lovely tartness, like plums just before they ripen. Yum.
Made it to the seventh one (long steeping the final one now) and it has a bit of a stale note. I guess I’m wringing out those leaves pretty good!
Heh. My tongue is burning in a pleasant way, but methinks that may be from the stir fry I had with dinner. We added a lot of garlic :D

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GCTTB Confused as i was pretty sure i’ve had this before but cna’t seem to find my tea log. I pulled this one out because i wanted to see if it was as i remembered it since it’s been a super long time since i’ve had it. It was delicious and exactly what i needed yesterday.
…found the other listing: http://steepster.com/teas/tao-tea-leaf/38699-zhenghe-gongfu-black-tea-jin-ping-village

this harvest is back to what i want this tea to be…coaco, malty, smooth and delicious.

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Mmmmm yes this was good today. Fruity and mineral rich. Four steeps of complex roasted yum! Not much variation between steeps, besides getting smoother over time. This would be great for grandpa style brewing, I suspect.

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Picked up a sample of this tea from Tao Tea Leaf last week. As with all of my trips there, it was very pleasant, and the owner Tao, was quite helpful.

When dry, the smell of this leaf reminded me of rose and plum, and when brewed, this morphed into a honey plum smell.

As for the taste, this seems to be a very finicky tea in that it is easy to under or over brew it. My first steeping was bland (which is likely due to the water being too cold). The second steep was very bitter (I steeped it far longer than the first time to try and bring out the flavor). The third was quite enjoyable. It was smooth without being thick or oily, and had a natural sweetness as well as honey flavors, but still had a slight bitterness.

The leaves were oddly mottled, each one having some light spots, and some dark ones.

Overall, I think this tea will be enjoyable once I get the correct brewing style tuned in. For now, the experience was a bit hit or miss.

Flavors: Bitter, Honey, Plums, Rose

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2.25 tsp for 500mL water @90C, Western style, steeped three minutes.

I received a sample of this tea from the 2017 Toronto Tea Fesitival’s oolong tasting box.

The instructions on the packet are alarming: boiling water, 100C. What?

I decided to ignore that and use 90C water. And I’m glad I did.

Dry leaf: twisted and dark strip-style oolong. Scents are sweet, toasty, anfd a bit musty.

Wet leaf: long and glossy dark brown, with some dark green. Scents of toast and molasses.

First infusion

Liquor is light copper, no down. Sweet and toasty with some dark fruit notes and a strong mineral finish. In fact, it’s very sweet, almost like a pale honey. A heavier body than I was expecting. I’ve made a 500mL beaker here, so it might be a while before I try a second infusion.

Sweet, toasty, fruity, and mineral. Lovely.

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1.25 tsp for 300mL water @90C, steeped two minutes.

The packet says 100C water —that seems a bit high for an oolong. As it’s been a few years since I could drink a milk oolong, I am very hesitant to rise scalding the leaf with such hot water. So I did 90C.

I’m trying a sample of this for the 2017 Toronto Tea Festival. I signed up as a taster, said I like oolongs, and I and got in, and that meant a lovely box full of oolong samples. My last milk oolong was from DavidsTea, and, sadly, DT had gone to milk-flavoured oolong—not the same thing at all. The flavouring left an odd taste I did not like, and I’ve not tried anyone milk oolong since. I really miss it.

So this is a lovely surprise. I can’t confirm whether this tea has any flavour added. The strong butter notes make me wonder. I hope I’m wrong.

Dry leaf smells very buttery, more butter than cream. Dry leaves are tight-rolled and dark, dull green. Wet leaf after first infusion smells more faintly of butter and of mild green veggies. Wet leaves are a less dull but still dark green.

Liquor: pale gold, as one might see in a white tea. No down. Light to medium body; I expect this will lighten will subsequent infusions. Creamy mouthfeel without being heavy and coating.

Not a sweet milk oolong, but certainly not bitter or harsh. Some distant floral notes in the scent but no floral notes in the taste. Some hints of stone fruit as the liquor cools. Slight mineral finish that I really like. No astringency … but there is a gentle bite on the finish that makes me think of apricots.

This is only my third milk oolong. It’s more complex than I was expecting. I’m looking forward to further infusions.

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 300 ML

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This is better for other Tea but This is not available in Market . It available on order.
Green Leaf Tea is important for Health than Normal Tea.

Flavors: Strawberry

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drank Lao Ban Zhang by Tao Tea Leaf
53 tasting notes

4.5g in 100mL jian shui teapot. the vendor basically says dry storage in Toronto, but I think its more like dehydrated storage. When I opened the bag to smell the dry leaves, there’s that distinct dehydrated storage aroma…lifeless is the only way to describe it if you’re not sure what I’m talking about. perhaps the storage is where this tea went wrong? maybe with better storage it may have been a better experience?

Haveteawilltravel’s review of this tea is very close to my experience, so I’ll just say what wasn’t already said. Very loosely packed, large whole leaves but also lots of pieces, thick center vein.

Vegetables, smokey, slight huigans after 3rd/4th cups but that went away.

The only redeeming quality of this tea was the oily full mouthfeel, but that may have been a increased or caused by my well seasoned jian shui teapot. I am not motivated to brew with a gaiwan just to figure that out. I’m not motivated to even finish the sample. If someone wants it, message me and I’ll pass it along if you want to try it.

Chi was mostly lower back, kidneys, and uncomfortable. I could feel a little movement in the head but it wasn’t very strong. I was underwhelmed…

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drank Lao Ban Zhang by Tao Tea Leaf
1104 tasting notes

About a month ago I tried Tao’s Banzhang and last week I tried the Lao Ban Zhang. Taking some time apart from reviewing it because I really felt something off of this and I wanted to make sure it was the tea and not just my overall upbeat mood that day.

Turns out, either I’m really susceptible to tea giving me awesome feelings or this is some serious ‘feels’ tea. It doesn’t have a good taste; something like a factory cake from 2007 to 2009 ’ish, but the feels got me.

That’s about all I can say for this one.


I’ll take this over a tasty tea with no feeling any day


I drank this today coincidentally…then saw your comment when I logged in to post my review.

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I approached this as an herbal tea, not puerh.

The shu puerh is in there, but it takes a back seat. It provides mostly body and structure, mouthfeel, and a deep smoothness to this tea.

Earthy flavors of shu are not noticeable, but when I really look I can find a hint of them, and they balance the otherwise sharp peppermint.

Vanilla is hard to find but think its just rounding out the overall experience, adding complexity.

I enjoyed this quite a bit. A ‘touch’ of sweetener may enhance this, maybe next time I brew this I’ll add a dab of honey.

Steeping time needs to be pushed, I think this is best brewed western style with multi-minute steepings. Gongfu brewing didn’t give me much flavor except mint. You really need the extra steeping time to draw out the puerh and vanilla.

I think this is peppermint but its very well balanced.

This tea leaves a fresh feeling in my mouth (guessing from the mint).

A fun treat, this would be nice to cozy up with as the cold weather approaches.

Flavors: Earth, Peppermint, Vanilla, Wood

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Free sample, I really enjoyed this tea. Its clean and tasty, very pleasant aroma.

Its just barely leaning over the line towards the sweeter side of shu, so its pleasant but not sugary or sweet.

Medium-thick body, aftertaste lingers just enough between sips you don’t lose the flow. There’s something about the way it smells that’s really comforting, kind of woody, like fresh cut green wood.

This is something I would drink frequently, its very smooth, easy on the stomach, comforting without being sedating. Its complex enough to not get boring through the length of a session, but I can’t identify any unique flavors to describe it…but have to agree with the vendors description “full bodied tea is earthy and has a little woody note that also has a thick rich and smooth finish”. That sums it up!

I would have to say this is what I look for in a shu. This is a perfect daily drinker shu.

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I tried a vanilla mint pu-er quite a few years ago (made by Rishi tea I think). That was my first taste of a ripe pu-er and I liked it. Then I went on to try ripe pu-er on it’s own and was enjoying that until I tried sheng. After that, everything went backwards. I liked sheng so much, the ripe pu-er was no longer appealing to me. Now I hardly have any ripe pu-er in my cupboard at all.

So then I saw this sample when getting some teas from Tao Tea Leaf. I remembered how I liked it before (from Rishi) and thought I would give it a try.

I really did enjoy it. The rich vanilla and mint blend so good together and are balanced well with the earthy taste of the pu-er. This is one type of ripe pu-er I will always enjoy. It’s such a good blend. The cup was finished before I knew it.

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drank Rose Pu-er by Tao Tea Leaf
638 tasting notes

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I’ve had this tea for quite some time, so I finally decided to brew it up. The leaf is very dark (and Purple) and it carries a nice dry wood with some malt and a very faint grape juice aroma in the background. The juice note is very slight and tangy. I warmed up my gaiwan and threw some inside. The warmed leaf gives off a definite grape skin aroma. The scent is very fragrant and direct. I can also pick up some dark wood and plum that lingers. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The scent instantly changes to a char and bitter green scent; all the fruitiness has vanished. Luckily, they reappeared in the cup! The taste was very smooth and dry with a sweet fruity plum aftertaste. This is good tea. The flavor is pretty full and eases through the palate. The qi is mild and mostly directed at the head. A dry woody tone carries the flavors consistently and throughout the session. The tea lacks character and any depth, but it is a nice “purple” tasting tea. A later steeping brings out a wild bitter taste, and then the tea completely falls out and becomes astringent. I was able to get a good amount of steeping out of this tea, and I’m glad to have tried it.


Flavors: Char, Dark Wood, Drying, Fruity, Grapes, Plums, Raisins, Smooth

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 2 OZ / 50 ML

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drank Tai Ping Hou Kui by Tao Tea Leaf
1904 tasting notes

I found a small sample of this tea tucked away that I’ve had for who-knows-how-long – probably the last time the GCTTB came through about a year ago. The tea leave look more like flattened piece of a dried seaweed than tea to me and they don’t ‘puff up’ at all during the brewing process. The tea has a pleasantly sweet scent that’s reminiscent of certain green oolongs. The flavour is lightly floral and a little bit fruity with a grassy, slightly toasty finish. The description mentioned apricots and I can definitely see that, though that wasn’t quite what came to mind for me when I sipped it. A very nice, high-quality green with a rather unique flavour profile.

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 10 OZ / 295 ML

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Weak and practically tasteless.


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I decided to make this in the gaiwan with short steeps. Smooth. Tried with and without milk. The milk did not add/improve n an way as it would with an Assam or other black tea. This tea is nice as is.

Flavors: Chocolate, Sweet, Tannin

Boiling 0 min, 45 sec 5 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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drank Da Hong Pao by Tao Tea Leaf
61 tasting notes

A really nice roasted taste, but also sweet. I had purchased a sample to see if I would like it and it’s really nice. A light brown/chestnut colour in the cup. I made this in the gaiwan with short steeps. Right now I’m on my third drinkable steep and enjoying the mouth feel. I was disappointed that it only allowed a few resteeps. With good quality tea I usually get quite a few short steeps. With this one the 4th steep was too light.

Flavors: Roasted Barley, Sweet

180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 45 sec 5 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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