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Recent Tasting Notes

A coworker of mine recently received a bunch of random tea samples from a family member; the sort that are the individual serving size vacuum sealed in those little red/blue/gold/whatever foil bags – she tried one of each and decided she didn’t like them, so they’ve now been passed off to me to give ’em a shot and see if I have any success…

The packaging is basically all in Chinese, except for a couple which have the word “Tie Kwan Yin” on them – but two of them do have pictures on the front, this one and a package that appears to maybe have a picture of burdock root!? The photo on this one is a bundle of asparagus – intriguing, right? Obviously I had to start with the cryptic asparagus tea – so I opened up the package and, well, it’s weird. It doesn’t really look like tea leaf at all, but it’s certainly got that very green kind of “generic herbal ingredient” look. I made it into one giant mug and shared that with everyone in the lab so we could all experience this cryptic asparagus tea; I think the leaf kind of looked like Jiaogulan (the kind that’s not rolled with glucose) but our resident plant expert said it had more of a asparagus stalk appearance.

Whatever the hell it was, it smelled very salty – like seaweed or, ironically, sea asparagus. I also thought that there was an aroma of like very, very dark chocolate; just that sort of dense and bitter cocoa type of thing but I have no explanation for why this weird “asparagus tea” was giving me chocolate vibes from the dry leaf.

Steeped up… Well, it was an experience. It tastes kind of like a Japanese green tea in that it’s got a lot of very saline marine/seaweed type of notes; really green and grassy too. Whatever chocolate I might have been experiencing in the dry aroma 100% was lost in the taste. I was not in any way a fan of this, which isn’t surprising given my strong aversion to Japanese green teas. Of all the people in the lab only one person liked it, and he got the rest of the mug all to himself because of that.

I am happy I tried it though, whatever “it” was. I really do love trying new things, and this was certainly a new experience. I’m excited to see what’s in the rest of the little mystery tea packages!!


There are teas that taste vegetal but this is the first time I’ve heard of vegetables being added to tea! What an odd combination


Have you tried putting the packaging through Google Translate? It might give you a bit of info as to what the tea actually is, even if the translation is a bit rough. I downloaded an app for it, and have delightfully been translating all manner of things.

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I had a short Gongfu session of another of these “mystery tuochas” (see previous tasting note for an explanation) yesterday morning/afternoon before leaving work for the day – this one was in a yellow wrapper with green font and pressed into the sorta “standard” shape for a little tuocha. It was clearly blended with something, but like the previous one it was very challenging to figure out exactly what that something was…

Thankfully, I work in an office filled with really cool people – so I had one of my coworkers who speaks and reads Chinese try to translate the wrapper for me, and another who has a background as a horticulturist try to identify the ingredient that was blended into the shou. We’re pretty sure it was chrysanthemum – but osmanthus is also a possibility.

Whatever it was, it must have just been for visual because it really didn’t come through in the taste of the steeped infusions at all – which were just a strong, full bodied earthy note with a sweet undertone and finish. Pleasant, but not remarkable in anyway.

Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/Byu1-43A3Sm/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFz2J6S0J0c

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Gong Fu!

One of my coworkers gave me a bag of ripe pu’erh tuochas that she had been gifted by her mother in law (who is Chinese) – she said she’d never drink them, but knew that I really enjoyed ripe pu’erh so figured that maybe I’d have a use.

I’m into mystery tea – so now I have this bag at my desk at work, and whenever I’m in the mood for random pu’erh I can grab a tuocha from the bag and brew it up. I should probably add that all the tuochas in the bag are different. So, it’s not just a bag of a dozen or so of the same mystery tuocha. Each one is going to be a surprise!

This one definitely had something blended into it – you could visually see it compressed alongside the tea and then, after the tuocha had broken up following a couple steeps, it was more clear that the mystery thing was likely a type of flower. I’m no plant expert, but I happen to sit right next to one! Seriously, my desk mate is a horticulturist who specialized in functional herbs and flowers. So, after some taste testing of the next few infusions, and letting her poke around in the steeped leaf we determined that the mystery thing was more than likely osmanthus.

It was a pretty good pu’erh – I didn’t brew a ton of steeps because I also had work to do. However all were quite tasty; very sweet and a little floral on top of a rich, clean earthyness.

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Received from a friend, unsure of the vendor, but in a silver package with a green border and the tea character on the front.

Large flat almost translucent leaves. Classic Tai Ping Hou Kui look.

One of the most unique looking teas I have brewed in my 100ml gaiwan. Enough leaves to cover the bottom and then some.

Flavors: Very light and sweet. Grassy with very mild vegetable notes. A long finish with a slight tart flavor. Very subtle tart flavor on the back end. There’s a mild woody note that is pleasant and the tea reminds me of green beans.

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