1315 Tasting Notes

2021 harvest

A Ruby 18 with heft. The mouthfeel of this tea sets it apart from other Ruby 18s I’ve had. Thick and fluffy with a big character of dark, varnished wood and some savory malted barley. Restrained tones complement the bold, woody flavor; black cherry rounds out the bottom and Ruby 18 wintergreen mintiness comes through in the top. Mild honeyed malt aftertaste. Tannins are prominent after swallowing, leaving the mouth very dry, but with that sensation comes a penetrating calm felt deep within my body that causes my eyelids to droop in warm intoxication.

This tea is quite the contrast to the cheekier and fruitier character of other Ruby 18 reds out there. Those are easier for me to appreciate with lighter body and bolder cherry and wintergreen character. But this is pleasant in its own way. The tea has power over me, rather than me having power over the tea. It feels nice to drink on a wet December morning, squishing around the backyard while taking care of my tea plants.

Above was gongfu preparation, with multiple short steeps (15 to 25 seconds) to mitigate the tannins. Would recommend this way over western.

Flavors: Cherry, Dark Wood, Drying, Forest Floor, Honey, Malt, Savory, Tannic, Thick, Varnish, Wintergreen, Woody

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

You’re growing tea plants?! That is so cool!!


I’m still so happy that you’re growing tea plants, derk!


It sounds like I might have made the right decision not to purchase this tea in our group order. Wishing your tea plants well!

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drank Dolce Riviera by Dammann Frères
1315 tasting notes

Refreshing cold brew with a profile that, to me, complemented late summer weather out here in the North Bay, so basically up to the end of October.

Made the very last bit of leaf this morning with hot water from the work dispenser, cooled for 5 or so minutes before steeping.

Smelled just like a peach cobbler. Guessing the peach was coming from the green tea itself as peach is not an added flavor. I couldn’t pin down the base character beyond its alkalinity. It was something like stewed moss with lima beans and seashells?? Togo mentioned mussels in a recent review for another tea and now that’s where my mind is going. Sounds so weird but throw in those soft touches of floral-sweet cinnamon, basil and lime and you have a well rounded and balanced tea. Two good steeps and forgiving of brew time. I’d buy this again!

Flavors: Alkaline, Astringent, Basil, Cinnamon, Lima Beans, Lime, Pastries, Peach, Round, Seashell, Smooth, Sweet, Wet Moss

3 g 10 OZ / 300 ML

Lmao, ‘late summer’ here in the North of England is the beginning of July :’) we start our Autumn early here!

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drank Nuit Tranquille by Elephant
1315 tasting notes

From my aunt’s stash. Martin says this is a Lipton brand for the French market.

La tisane Nuit Tranquille n’offense ni n’excite. C’est comme tous les thés Lipton — faible et ennuyeuse au goût. Je ne goûte que de la camomille et un peu de verveine citronnée. Je peux la boire mais je ne sens rien.

I have no idea if that’s proper French.

205 °F / 96 °C 8 OZ / 236 ML

I don’t speak any French, but it looks impressive.

Martin Bednář

Google Translate helped me with this tasting note.

Cameron B.

Seems mostly sensical to me ha ha, though I’m not fluent by any means. It’s weak and boring and you can only taste chamomile and a bit of lemon verbena.


I agree, your French is impressive, even if the tea wasn’t.


@Cameron B. – thanks for the translation!


You have the idea Cameron. I was feeling cheeky so decided to try typing it in French.

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To me, this is nasty. The tulsi scent does not mix at all with the raspberry flavoring, producing a nauseating medicinal aroma. Organic raspberry flavoring does not excuse its criminal over-application. It’s chemical and piercing and exits my nostrils with force when I swallow.

The taste sips alkaline then finishes with hibiscus sourness. In between is a flat taste of tulsi and hint of peach flavoring. Severely disjointed. Ugh. I definitely feel queasy. “Crowd pleaser” my ass.

Flavors: Alkaline, Chemical, Flat, Herbaceous, Medicinal, Peach, Raspberry, Sour, Tulsi

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 10 OZ / 295 ML

Yuck. But your tasting note made me laugh.


Eww, excellent description. Crowd displeaser!

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Everything is in its place, so I sit with mouth closed and enjoy the silence.

Flavors: Apple Skins, Butter, Cashew, Cherry Blossom, Cream, Creamy, Floral, Grass, Honeydew, Lavender, Lilac, Lily, Mineral, Moss, Mung Bean, Pear, Soft, Sugarcane, Sweet, Tannin, Vanilla

205 °F / 96 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

Surprise – like it best brewed grandpa in a glass :)

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Rich florals dance off the palate as the unctuous, springwater-sweet liquor moves with grace. The taste is at first ethereal and subtly blooms with rich notes of honeysuckle, passionfruit-cream, jackfruit-vanilla and spinach, hints of mango and marzipan. The aftertaste is tangy and lemony. I feel both spicy chili pepper warmth and some camphorous cooling. Clean.

This tea is on its way to greatness. Initial few steeps are beautiful but the later steeps are more difficult to balance. Does well with very hot water and both gongfu and western, though I prefer gongfu. Best tea of the white, oolong and black tea bundle! I found a strand of moss in this bag :)

Flavors: Camphor, Chili, Cream, Floral, Fruity, Garden Peas, Grain, Honeysuckle, Lemon, Lilac, Mango, Marzipan, Oily, Passion Fruit, Spinach, Spring Water, Sweet, Tangy, Tropical Fruit, Vanilla

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drank Herbal Slimming Tea by Urban Remedy
1315 tasting notes

Found this in my aunt’s tea drawer, along with some other new-to-me herbal teas. I’ve been nasty bloated for two weeks after eating something that didn’t agree with me, so thought I’d give this a try.

I’m feeling judgemental. Urban Remedy is a plant-based food, beverage and lifestyle company that offers many promises wrapped in a squeaky-clean feel-good urban image and plenty of plastic packaging. I will stop before it gets ugly.

This has 6 traditional Chinese herbs, only a few of which are well known to westerners – peppermint and ginger. It tastes like an herbal-sweet peppermint tea with a barely perceptible butteriness. I feel like it should taste medicinal, stronger, despite being steeped for 20 minutes or so.

Flavors: Herbal, Peppermint, Sweet

Boiling 8 min or more

Two weeks is a long time for something you ate to wreck your gut for! Hope you find relief soon! I too am judgy AF. Right there with you on annoyance with attempted manipulation by superficial advertising and wasteful packaging. Don’t get me started on those wine gift baskets because I have a good 5 minute rant on those things!


Thanks for understanding the absurdity and for the sympathy. Made a big pot of congee with all the good and gentle things.

Martin Bednář

I am third one in the party who hates superficial ads and wasteful packagings! Which is ironic, considering my tea bag wrapper collection.

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drank 1999 Cangmi by Yang Qing Hao
1315 tasting notes

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May 2021 harvest

The leaf is clearly thin and delicate and when dry, has a soft, high scent of butterfat with an even softer ‘dark’ undertone. The cut is small and uniform, about the size of sea salt flakes, which allows for quick infusion. Despite this, there is very little astringency and no bitterness. It is best prepared as a one-steep tea with long infusion time. Probably well suited for a European-style large teapot brew.

A doughy aroma gently stimulates the senses. I think of it less like yeast, which gmathis aptly noted, and maybe more like a fresh, doughy and warm soft pretzel.

As far as the taste, this tea is all about the tones and lacks distinct flavor notes. Low tones of well worn soft leather, old dark wood, dark bread and forest soil earthiness with some red currant brightness are so soft and rounded. Tinges of astringency and acidity. When prepared with higher leaf:water ratio, I do notice some of the vanilla sugar Thés du Japon suggests.

This profile is a bit of a mystery to me. If I am to categorize its character, it’s maybe like an African black tea with a leathery Assam but without the typical assamica punch of either. The velvety and full body is more like a high-quality Chinese Qimen and does not match what the leaf visual brings to mind.

Interesting tea and worth a try for the curious. Read more here: https://japaneseteasommelier.wordpress.com/2017/12/24/karabeni-cultivar-black-tea/

Flavors: Bread, Bread Dough, Cream, Dark Wood, Earthy, Leather, Red Currant, Round, Soft, Sugar, Vanilla

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

Pretzels! There you go.

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April 2020 harvest

Decent, fairly smooth structure and a zippy floral-lemon-raspberry-woody taste. First two infusions prepared gongfu coat the mouth in tea oil and aromatics. The leaf can be somewhat temperamental with high temperature, producing a drying, tannic bite in the throat. 200F or less for me, which is what I usually do with these red teas from Wuyi.

It’s missing some depth and intensity — especially in the retronasal action — compared to my memory bank of the 2017 harvest: https://steepster.com/derk/posts/392085 Regardless, I was able to move through the 50g bag with ease as a work tea. Eucalyptus is a surprisingly strong note when left to steep absentmindedly.

2017 harvest 96; 2020 harvest 84; average 90

Finally below 200 teas in my cupboard. That doesn’t include all the ones that don’t have an entry here :P I dream of the day I have less than 100 teas.

Oh yeah, I joined the US League of Tea Growers. How did I find it? I don’t know. But somebody from the European Tea Growers Association has opened an invitation to USLTG members, in which a group will be doing an 8-day educational tour of Sri Lanka tea estates this January. Considering it. If only I had a business to write off the trip as an expense.

Flavors: Citrusy, Cream, Eucalyptus, Floral, Geranium, Lemon, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Oak, Orange, Orchid, Raspberry, Rosewood, Soy Sauce, Tangy, Tannin, Wood, Woody


That is so exciting! The joining, the maybe trip, all of it!


I tried a sample of this tea from Daylon that I think came from the spring 2021 harvest, and I also think I have 25 g from our big Black Friday What-Cha haul. (My cupboard has way more than a hundred teas…) I enjoyed the orange/lemon notes and the fact that I could get lots of steeps. What’s your favourite unsmoked lapsang?

Also, that trip sounds really interesting! :)

Mastress Alita

I remember visiting the US League of Tea Growers booth at Tea Fest PDX in 2019 in Portland, OR. Nice!

I have finally worked my cupboard down to around 137 teas! It seemed an impossible task from being at nearly 600 only a few years ago, so it is definitely possible. Good luck!


My eyes see the organizational title as you typed it. My brain is translating it as “League of Extraordinary Tea Growers.” That suits you better ;)

Martin Bednář

That trip sounds so amazing! I would love to join you, though I don’t have single tea plant. Also, at least joining the club makes something!
As of amount of teas, my cupboard says 214 which is way more than I want to have, though it may contain some teas I don’t have anymore, but on the other hand there are teas that I have and they aren’t there.

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Eventual tea farmer. If you are a tea grower, want to grow your own plants or are simply curious, please follow me so we can chat.

I most enjoy loose-leaf, unflavored teas and tisanes. Always on the lookout for teas from countries and regions not commonly known for tea production or those that are not well represented in the western market. I seek these teas to gain an understanding, however vague, of how this plant performs in different climates.

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Sonoma County, CA

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