The Tao of Tea

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Recent Tasting Notes

48
drank Pu-er Tuo Cha by The Tao of Tea
100 tasting notes

Small leaf pieces and a standard, basic shou taste. Because of the leaf shape, it’s easier to brew this Western-style than gongfu, but I did try both. It didn’t impress me either way; that said, it’s less expensive and more widely available than many similar teas of equal quality, so for someone just getting into pu-erh, it’s a good option.

Flavors: Dirt, Mushrooms, Wet Earth

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 2 OZ / 55 ML

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50
drank White Peony by The Tao of Tea
100 tasting notes

Needs a low brewing temperature. Quite vegetal, very spinach-y – almost like a green tea. Very fluffy; it’s hard to fit an adequate weight into a gaiwan. It’s a decent tea, but not really my thing.

Flavors: Spinach, Vegetables, Vegetal

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 2 OZ / 55 ML

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drank Black Dragon by The Tao of Tea
1434 tasting notes

A friend gave me a sample of this tea, but after reading over other people reviews I’m not sure this is the right one. It was hard to read her writing for the company name.

I’m enjoying this, whatever it is. It’s very umami. It almost smells like the seaweed part of miso soup. Or a roasted furikake. It’s very smooth and well balanced and has a sweet sensation to it. It seems more oolong than puerh to me. Glad to have gotten to try this!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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70

It’s low in caffeine, but not VERY low! Don’t drink it at night… Compared to other kukichas I’ve had, I think this one is stronger. It’s pleasant, sweetish with a roasted taste, and very drinkable.

Flavors: Grass, Roasted, Seaweed, Sweet

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 8 g 7 OZ / 210 ML
Cameron B.

I love kukicha, it has such a mild and sweet flavor! I should really drink Japanese greens more…

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70

It’s low in caffeine, but not VERY low! Don’t drink it at night. If brewed well, it’s pleasant, sweetish with a roasted taste, and very drinkable. If steeped for too long or at too high a temperature, it becomes very bitter.

Flavors: Grass, Seaweed, Sweet

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec 6 g 7 OZ / 210 ML

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My original note for this tea is under a duplicate entry, which is currently inaccessible. I get a 404 error when I go to that page. Frustrating. New overlords, if you are listening, can you fix that please?

Sipdown no. 12 of 2020 (no. 607 total).

After the discussion of cold brew puer, I was in the mood. So my last two cold brew pitchers have been of this tea. The little nests made it really easy — I just unwrapped them and plunked them into the pitcher. The first time I left them in the fridge way longer than I intended, and they pretty much unfurled themselves completely. The second time, they retained some of their shape after about 1.5 days steeping.

Shu is actually quite pleasant cold, at least the ones I have tired. This one is. It’s like a very full bodied black tea. Not particularly the best vehicle for discerning nuances in flavor, color, aroma, etc. but the trade off is a very refreshing cold tea.

I wish I could read what I wrote about this before so I could figure out if I have anything to add. I can’t even tell how I rated it before.

Grumble.

Martin Bednář

They told me earlier it’s because overloaded servers with spam. It should be acessible later on.

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drank Wild Black by The Tao of Tea
2511 tasting notes

I was really looking forward to this one, but it has let me down. It may not be the tea’s fault.

This was a gift to my daughter, and the box looked somewhat banged up. It was taped shut. When I opened it, there were fourteen sachets instead of fifteen. I checked the expiry date and it said 12-31-19. That was just a few days ago but I am thinking this tea has been sitting on a close out shelf or in a cabinet for a while.

The sachet honestly smelled very promising. I just wanted a decent cup of black tea to go with some shortbread while I write a letter. I supposed it did the job, but it is the most amazingly forgettable tea ever.

The sachet was pretty big so I used a generous mug. I think I may try it again with much less water, and if that doesn’t do it, farewell to thee thou disappointing tea!

The shortbread was pretty good, though!

mrmopar

I heard some people from Bragg had shipped out. Hoping your better half wasn’t one of them. Looks to be a nasty mission they are embarking on.

ashmanra

Thanks, mrmopar! He CAN be shipped out, but is not likely to ever be shipped out.

Some of my students have been a bit sad this week as some of their dads are going. I appreciate everyone who keeps them in their prayers.

mrmopar

I remember my days there well. Usually one of the first to go always from there. Prayers after the new developments definitely.

Rabs

“The most amazingly forgettable tea ever.” OUCH

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drank Kali Cha by The Tao of Tea
2335 tasting notes

This one was a (failed) attempt to broaden hubby’s oolong spectrum, and has been a bit of a moving target for me as well. It gets great reviews and I really want to like it!

This morning’s attempt has probably been the best so far, and of course, I was bleary while prepping it in my toasTEA thermos, so I couldn’t tell you steep time or temp to save my life. It smells as toasty as a good Assam, and that toastiness leads the procession this morning. To me, anyway, there’s some fruitiness in the mix with any oolong—-except this one. I’m getting (and now that I think about it, probably did previously) green veggies at the tail end of each sip. Little bitter. But sometimes your tastebuds need a good talking to.

I’ll keep trying.

Courtney

It sounds so promising until the end!

gmathis

Second steep forthcoming. We’ll see.

gmathis

Interesting—there was almost none of the vegetable whang in the second steep, and now that I have let it go stone cold, it’s nothing but toast. May have to set this aside and try cold steeping come spring.

Courtney

Fascinating!

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drank Kali Cha by The Tao of Tea
2335 tasting notes

This one is going to take some tinkering. Generally, I am not patient with tinker-needful teas. At four minutes with roughly the appropriate temperature (remember, I am a barbarian who does “kinda” and “sorta”) and a smidge less leaf than the tin recommends, this tastes much more like a Darjeeling than an oolong—and a rather bitter one at that.

I skimmed through other reviews, and another Steepster described it as an oolong evidently grown less than 20 miles from the Darjeeling region. That pretty much sums it up!

All the same, it was good to shake up my morning synapses with something different.

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drank Kali Cha by The Tao of Tea
2335 tasting notes
I put this in my hubby’s stocking since he has fairly recently discovered oolong and this one purports to be strong and dark, his favorite configuration.

Therefore, I deliberately oversteeped the first pot to accommodate his palate. I got “bitter with a little bit of floral.” Some reviews mention orchids, and I get that. Hubby just got orchids.

Second steep (same leaves) was equally dark and much smoother, not so flowery. More drinkable by my standards.

Looking forward to another stab at this, based on my own preferences. Reviews also mention cocoa and I am all about that!

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73

I think this is a great tea for the price, though definitely not the best oolong I’ve ever had. I did enjoy this and would buy it again if I’m tighter on money.

I brewed this twice, first according to the instructions and then unconventionally in my gaiwan. I much preferred the unconventional brew to the one by the instructions. The one where I followed the instructions turned out extremely bitter with very light notes of chocolate and mainly tasted like I’d just liked a log used for a campfire, so not something I’d describe as pleasant. I initially thought this tea was pretty terrible but decided to give it another shot in my gaiwan- I brewed it with steeps of 10s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 1min, 1:30, 2:00, etc. I managed to get nearly 20 steeps out of the leaves this way and I was able to taste the much subtler notes that were covered before. It tasted very sweet and had an aftertaste of a malty dark chocolate, with hints of caramel. It certainly wasn’t a traditional tieguanyin by any means but I would continue to brew this in my gaiwan rather than follow the instructions.

Flavors: Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Malt, Plums, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Sugar

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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90

The dried leaves are pine green and twisted into small balls, like gunpowder tea. They smell vegetal, like spinach or other greens.
When steeped, the tea is pale golden green. The leaves unfurl into full, complete leaves, with occasional small pieces of stem or twig. The size of the leaves compared to their dry state is really impressive! It smells of a lovely warm toastiness, like roasted nuts. The flavor is mild with absolutely no astringency, and has notes of wood and grass.
The tea makes for excellent second and even third steeps.
I had low expectations for a mass-produced tea like this company, but this is actually really high quality.

Flavors: Dry Grass, Roast nuts, Vegetal, Wood

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100
drank Rose Petal Black by The Tao of Tea
25 tasting notes

This is, hands down, one of the best teas I’ve ever drunk. The rose is so strong without overpowering the smooth black tea underneath. We try to always have some around.

Nattie

I love rose teas! Don’t know many other people who do.

Tor

Rose teas are so good! We have a mason jar of rose just to add it to rose teas that don’t taste strong enough. :)

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70

Pretty unremarkable for all it’s osmanthus scented. Some osmanthus flowers in with the oolong. Green oolong base is only okay. There’s probably about 1 cup left at work. I’ve had it 3 times?

Flavors: Osmanthus

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80

Had no expectations for this tea, since I am not familiar with the company, and I got it from a Home Goods or TJ Maxx, one of those kind of stores. I just knew that I needed a ginger peach flavored black for making iced tea and this wasn’t an expensive purchase, so if I didn’t like it, it would be no big deal.

Well. This makes a damn fine iced tea. Love the balance of peach and ginger. Neither overwhelms the tea taste. There’s a lot of it to the package, so it’ll take some time to get through, which is more than OK with me! Very pleasantly surprised. Not sure if I would have it hot, but I feel pretty confident that it would be just as nice that way as iced. This is a winner!

Flavors: Ginger, Peach

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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84
drank Pu-er Tuo Cha by The Tao of Tea
1990 tasting notes

I put a whole one of these in the 50 ml gaiwan, which is probably overleafing by a bit. I rinsed and then steeped at boiling for 10/10/20/30/40/50/60/120/240/300/360

The dry nests have a heavy, whiskey-like aroma. The nest fell apart fully after the first steep.

This one followed the pattern I seem to be observing where the first steep had a slightly lighter mahogany color, then the steeps darkened in color to a coffee color through the fourth steep and then began to lighten to a dark amber with each subsequent steep.

The first four or so steeps smelled of cocoa, coffee, molasses, and a little leather. It tasted like it smelled.

Around steep four, the flavor started to fade some and an earthy note came out.

Another observation: the shu pu erhs I’ve tasted mostly don’t really change all that much except for a shift around steep four when the start to fade. I tend not to really enjoy the later steeps that have less flavor as much. While I’ll continue to steep them through 10 steeps to be able to compare more accurately for initial note purposes, if I were just drinking for the sake of it, I’d probably stop after steep 5 in most instances.

Through steep 5, this was a nice tea with rich flavors, and no fishiness. I enjoyed its departure from the usual mushroom notes I get with shu.

Now that I’ve done some cupboard purging to get rid of things I seem to no longer have, I can report that the current status of teas in the cupboard with no initial notes is:

1 black caffeinated
1 black decaf
7 oolongs
6 pu erhs
2 herbals
5 blooming individual servings

Flavors: Cocoa, Coffee, Earth, Leather, Molasses, Whiskey

Preparation
Boiling

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84
drank Topaz Pu-er by The Tao of Tea
1990 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 20 of 2020. I intend to get to 21 to break the 20 curse.

I put the last of this into the fridge as a cold brew.

I think I was getting to this point last summer, but I think it is time for me to acknowledge that I don’t love pu-er.

I really like the idea of it, and I know that a lot of people consider it to be the only tea worth drinking. But it is hard for me to fit into my lifestyle.

I have been off of work since the Monday before Christmas. I’m having a full two weeks off during a pandemic. And I still seem to be running from thing to thing.

I run from exercise to meditation to cleaning out the kitchen cabinets, to cooking dinner, to… whatever is next. Even when I am trying to practice mindfulness, I mostly have to bring myself back from thinking about, in the immortal words of President Bartlet on West Wing, what’s next?

I feel like doing justice to puer takes more time and patience than I have. In looking at the samples I have left to sip down, I’m daunted by the puer ones and when I’ll have time to do them justice.

I might as well accept it. The tea I enjoy most is the tea I don’t need to spend a lot of time making. There. I said it.

Mastress Alita

I feel the same way… I also just can’t seem to like the taste of it either, no matter how much I try!

derk

Nothing wrong with that.

__Morgana__

Yeah, I like the taste most of the time, but the time investment is too much for me. :-)

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84
drank Topaz Pu-er by The Tao of Tea
1990 tasting notes

Last weekend when I had a terrible cough, I pretty much stayed in bed binge watching stuff all weekend. I did taste a couple of oolongs I hadn’t written notes about before, but I completely skipped the pu erhs.

Since I’m no longer pressuring myself to “get through all my teas a first time and write notes about them,” I almost skipped a pu erh today. But I wasn’t done with tea for the day so I forged ahead.

This one’s dry leaf has a deep, leather and whiskey smell. Not at all fishy, and not particularly earthy/mushroomy either.

I rinsed this at boiling and then steeped in the gaiwan at 10/10/20/30/40/60/120/240/300/360

The first few steeps were lovely. A deep flavor, sweet like molasses, with a smell and flavor of leather and whiskey and a cognac color.

The third steep brought out a earthy note, and the sweetness started to fade after this and a not quite cocoa note tried to appear.

By the sixth steep, both color and flavor were well on the wane. The seventh steep brought out a weak tobacco note.

It’s unfortunate that this didn’t have more staying power. If it had managed to keep its richness and flavor longer I might have rated it higher.

In the early steeps, I liked it as much or more than the Rose Tuocha from The Tao of Tea, which I rated higher than I’m inclined to rate this one. So I’m lowering the rating on that one.

Flavors: Leather, Molasses, Tobacco, Whiskey

Preparation
Boiling

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84
drank Rose Tuocha by The Tao of Tea
1990 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 13 of 2020 (no. 608 total).

Continuing on my iced shu kick, we sipped this one down cold. Refreshing, if a bit earthier than the usual cold brew tea, but the rose lightens that aspect a little. And it didn’t seem to matter to no. 2, who was very eager for the last batch to be strained and drinkable.

For my thoughts on this hot, see original note.

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84
drank Rose Tuocha by The Tao of Tea
1990 tasting notes

I came very close to just steeping this once on the theory it is a “flavored” pu erh. I’m glad I didn’t, because I’m not sure I would have liked it as much as I did.

The nests in the tin smell like two parts earth to one part rose. I rinsed and steeped in the gaiwan at boiling for 10/10/20/30/40/60/120/240/300/360

Unlike the other tuocha’s I’ve had, this one took its time falling apart. It wasn’t until the fourth steep that it finally came apart — I wonder whether the petals have an impact on how the tea holds together?

Until the tea completely fell apart, the tea was not very strong — none of the usual cognac colored liquor until steep 4. Which is why I think I would have missed out had I steeped this western style. Though of course, if I steeped it longer in one steep it’s possible it would have come completely apart during that single steep.

The first steep had a faint rose scent/flavor and an equally as faint earthy/mushroom one. The mushroom did not increase, nor did the earthiness. Instead, the tea became some sort of undefinable flavor that was mild and sweet with a “highlight” of rose.

Different and enjoyable.

Flavors: Earth, Mushrooms, Rose

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84

Beautiful hand-rolled tea and a gentle jasmine flavor. Not too strong—perfection. I took the kettle off before it boiled and the flavor is divine.

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78

Smooth-tasting nutty green tea. Tried with and without honey; both were good. The leaves of this tea are gorgeous. Yum!

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