1453 Tasting Notes

Overcast and cool September Sunday calls for some sencha.

May 2022 harvest
First experience with this tea that’s over a year old by now. I picked it up at some point in Spring of 2023.

Dry leaf smells like kudzu, black grapes, paper, buttery raspberry scones (anybody familiar with Sconehenge?), anise and lamb fat. Warmed leaf is more intense with dominant aromas of spinach souffle and raspberry cream.

The dry and warmed leaf aromas catch my attention much more than the taste of the tea. Brewed with Thés du Japon’s suggested parameters, the tea is watery, drying and tannic with a distinct bitterness – perhaps it is showing its age. I do get fruity notes like green grapes and kiwifruit. Also some wheatgrass and light, dewy sweetness. Slight refreshing character, like cypress in the fog.

I’ll give this tea a few more tries. If it’s simply past its prime, compost it is.

Flavors: Anise, Apricot, Beans, Bitter, Cream, Drying, Egg, Evergreen, Grape Skin, Grapes, Green, Kiwi, Paper, Pastries, Spinach, Sugarcane, Sweet, Tannic, Watery, Wheatgrass, White Grapes

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 4 g 2 OZ / 70 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

drank Zijuan Hong by Daxue Jiadao
1453 tasting notes

As stated in a previous note, this a meditative tea.

I’m back from China. Rather than give a complete synopsis in one go, blurbs will find their way into future notes should a tea elicit the desire to write of my experiences. Here I will start with the end of my trip, as with all endings come beginnings.

On the first leg home, the China Southern flight attendant placed some floppy “old man brown” slippers on my first-class feet in Wuhan. As my ankles swelled by the hour, I figured why put my shoes back on. Those ugly, oversized slippers whisked with me through perfumed boutique shops in the Hong Kong airport, swept the (clean) floors of Taipei Taoyuan, shuffled me through U.S. customs in San Francisco and tripped me up as I boarded the bus that brought me back home. Sunday night around midnight I finally made it through the front door in a state of time-travel delirium and searched for my old girl Sophia.

I found Sophia after settling down for a bit, only to lose her less than 24 hours later. Monday was the end of our 22-year companionship. She waited for me to come home from my journey and passed in the comfort of my arms in her favorite chair and blanket. Now she rests under the lemon tree with the other kids, to feed the fruits that bring us happiness. I will be able to see her live on through my bedroom’s back door while I sit with tea. And these stupid China Southern slippers will be worn until they fall apart – little reminders of over half my life, arguably the most formative of my years, spent with a little warm body that made biscuits on my chest, sea foam eyes that softly spoke “You are mine and I am yours” and a vocabulary that always let me know what was on her mind. My little nugget, my little shoulder cat. So many feelings.

So yes, with all endings come beginnings. The end of Sophia’s life – full of patience, tenacity, wisdom and love – will be mirrored in my slippered steps as I stumble forward into this dream of farming tea.

Love you, baby.


I’m so sorry for your loss. Cats stay with you in the heart.


No sorry – no loss. I gained the world from her. But thank you :)


Oh, my heart! I wish I were near! Love to you.

Mastress Alita

My condolences, Derk. Here’s to twenty-two amazing years!


Oh goodness, my heart hurts for you. What a beautiful remembrance. Sending love and hugs.

Martin Bednář

Sending you a hug!


So glad you made it home to be with your baby. I’m praying for you today. Rest and heal, friend.

Maddy Barone

We need a “hug” icon. I’m so sorry for your loss.


Thank you all for the kind words.


Much rest and peace to you. I’m so sorry for your loss.


My condolences for your loss. I’m glad you were able to be with her at the end.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

drank Heavenly Turn by Global Tea Hut
1453 tasting notes

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

From Daylon! When I read your descriptions, I thought these would be great for a friend, so I dipped a sample from each and sent them on their angry way.

6 Japanese black teas, 5 of which have some level of smoky intrigue.

Dark Peach
Smokey, woodsy, smooth but also too astringent and thin for me to appreciate. Salty, bitter-dark tannins. Cloaked fruit. Cream gives a slight smoked meat flavor and draws the fruit out but the liquor is ultimately too thin to handle cream.

May Black
Papery, woodsy, did I write pulpy? Bold, fruity and floral but thin. Starchy, malty and buttery smooth but also astringent. Tastes like ‘tea’. Dry leaf scent and liquor aroma hold much more intrigue than what I experience in the mouth. In the dry leaf, there is old, whitened chocolate, berries, twigs and malt; in the liquor, I finnd a chocolately-woodsy aroma but also a really, smooth Darjeeling lilt of muscatel, apricot and vanilla. Too disjointed for my liking.

Cacao Smoke
Dark and dirty and oily. Bold and smooth. Ashy-smoky, bitter, earthy. I love it. Old mechanic shop being swallowed by overgrowth in a humid forest, an ashtray tucked somewhere in the undergrowth. The taste of staring into pitch black, no stars. Cream brings that cacao to front but also makes the tea almost too oily.

Fruity whiskey, smooth smoked meat. Has a nice astringency. This one’s a winner, too. No doubt why this is called King. Well done!

Yuzu Cloud
Slightly sweet smoked sausage with fruit — pineapple? Dark, smooth, light astringency, salty, fruity. This one is noticeably cooling in the mouth which adds a welcome dimension.

Whiskey Cloud 9
Whiskey like in King but milder, smoke is more like smoked salmon and more prominent but still smooth.

I’m pretty certain these are all teas that are sold by a Japan-based vendor well known around these parts.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

Acquired through the generosity of Martin! Thank you, tea friend.

I got this because of the ingredients (I love Sonnentor herbal teas for their creative blends):

blackberry leaves sweet org, hibisucs org, black carrots org (10%), mango org (10%), buckwheat herb org, lemon balm org, pineapple org (7%), bananas org, aronia org, orange peel org, lemon peel org, liquorice org, chili ground org (1%)

Blackberry leaf sweetness up front, followed by muddled, earthy fruitiness and a hint of chile pepper heat in the back that’s too mild for me, but probably perfect for others.

I’ve nearly finished the entire box but can’t seem to articulate my impression beyond “strange” mostly due to that front-loaded sweetness. My past Love Story was spicier and punctuated by plenty of acidity — not so sweet and smooth and down to earth :P It might be fun to conceptualize my current relationship in tea form. What kind of ingredients bring to mind “love”? And goofiness. Lots and lots of goofiness!

Flavors: Chili, Earthy, Fruity, Sweet

Martin Bednář

I am so happy that you like to try teas with “weird” ingredients. Yes, Sonnentor often uses not so common things and moreover… almost (or all) being organic!


Well, there’s a fun thought experiment. Goofy, eh… are there steepable parts of Joshua Trees? Or maybe the scoby floaters we were on about a few days ago, dried and reconstituted for stealthy snot appearances. Hehehe <3


Hmm…38-year strong black tea, carefully conserved; kept airtight; lost a little strength; but still can’t get through the day without it? ;)

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

drank Genmaicha by Rishi Tea
1453 tasting notes

Last note I mentioned something about this smelling like paint. A little exposure to air has done the trick. Best genmaicha around even though it has too much roasted rice for my liking. Remedy? Crunch crunch crunch :)

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

drank Random Steepings by Various Artists
1453 tasting notes

Mulberry Tea from Istanbul, 2022. I sent some of this to Cameron B. a while back. She had more to say than I do (not because I don’t like it but I’m simply short for words):

Instant ‘tea’ powder dissolves easily in hot water, then I add a touch of cold to get it to chugging temperature. Sweet-tart and mulberry. Candy! Turkish Kool-Aid. I don’t think this is flavored but made with actual mulberry powder, citric acid and sugar.

Flavors: Candy, Mulberry, Sweet, Tart


That sounds neat!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

drank Random Steepings by Various Artists
1453 tasting notes

Saffron Tea from Istanbul, 2022. Loose chopped black tea and fannings mixed with loads of saffron and a rose petal or three. Claim written on the vacuum-sealed clear plastic bag: “Cancer Alzheimer’s Dementia”.

It has a bright and almost citrusy, peppery but not pungent scent. The musk of sun-warmed skin, floral, supple leather, fields of hay. Reds and golds and earthen tones.

The black tea is rich, dark and smooth, a touch coppery. Is it Turkish? Dark wood, tobacco, hay, a hint of honey-raisin sweetness. All that gorgeous, leathery saffron. A friend of the forgetful mind and heavy hand. Not comforting but Invigorating. All of this makes for an excellent morning cup that’s not too high in caffeine. Can be brewed light for a refresher.

Feeling: majestic, revitalizing, invigorating, restorative, calming, grounding, connected to earth and sun

A 100 for me. I can’t be anything but happy when drinking this tea.

Flavors: Bright, Citrusy, Dark Wood, Earthy, Floral, Honey, Hot Hay, Leather, Musk, Pepper, Raisins, Rich, Saffron, Savory, Smooth, Tobacco


How intriguing with the saffron!


Can’t argue with saffron. Mm, sounds a treat.


a 100 rating! You’ve been in China for about a month, derk, hope everything is going well!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

drank Yu Ya Jade Buds by Rishi Tea
1453 tasting notes

I’m pretty excited to be traveling to Hubei province (albeit a different county), where this green tea is produced. It’s made from one of the same cultivars I’ll be working with, E Cha, at the co-operative tea farming village that One River Tea is a part of. Saturday night I fly out! This has been a pretty stressful process and that feeling might not ease until I meet the folks of One River Tea at the airport, who will also have a SIM card for my phone. I will be traveling to a completely foreign country for the first time ever alone. Even if things go awry, I can figure out where and how to catch the 5-hour train ride from Wuhan to Enshi. But once in Enshi, getting to the village is another feat that will require a 1.5-hour? taxi ride. So much is out of my hands. It’ll all work out, though, even if plans get bumpy. Right? RIGHT? Haha. Of course it will as long as I stay cool :)

Speaking of cool, not only is the purpose of this note to release some stress, but it is also to share what a delicious cold brew these tiny leaves make! It’s got some of that dark, mossy energy that a hot brew does, but with my parameters of 7g:1L for 24 hours, this has a bright, fruity taste to it that’s not present in western or gongfu steeps. Good stuff. And the leaves instantly sink to the bottom of any brewing vessel. Why do I value such a thing in tea?


It sounds like this will be quite an adventure! You’ll have to keep us updated on your trip if you have Internet access.


That sounds soooooooo awesome!!! I definitely have tea adventure on my bucket list. Please bring a journal with you and give us details! Safe travels!


I have taken to reminding myself that as long as I’m alive and experiencing something on the planet, things are working out. Take snacks.


You adventurer, you! Praying for safe travels.


Wishing you all the travel luck!


This sounds amazing! Enjoy your travels! :)


Praying for safe travels and lots of memories that make you smile for the rest of your life!

Martin Bednář

It is kind of adventure! I would taking part in something similar too. I hope everything goes well and smoothly to you!


Sounds like a fun adventure. Safe travels!


Thanks y’all and drink good tea!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.



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. Teabags have their place. Some of my favorite teas have a profound effect on mind and body rather than having a specific flavor profile. Terpene fiend.

Favorite teas generally come from China (all provinces), Taiwan, India (Nilgiri and Manipur). Frequently enjoyed though less sipped are teas from Japan, Nepal and Darjeeling. While I’m not actively on the hunt, a goal of mine is to try tea from every country that makes it available to the North American market. This is to gain a vague understanding of how Camellia sinensis performs in different climates. I realize that borders are arbitrary and some countries are huge with many climates and tea-growing regions.

I’m convinced European countries make the best herbal teas.

Personal Rating Scale:

100-90: A tea I can lose myself into. Something about it makes me slow down and appreciate not only the tea but all of life or a moment in time. If it’s a bagged or herbal tea, it’s of standout quality in comparison to similar items.

89-80: Fits my profile well enough to buy again.

79-70: Not a preferred tea. I might buy more or try a different harvest. Would gladly have a cup if offered.

69-60: Not necessarily a bad tea but one that I won’t buy again. Would have a cup if offered.

59-1: Lacking several elements, strangely clunky, possess off flavors/aroma/texture or something about it makes me not want to finish.

Unrated: Haven’t made up my mind or some other reason. If it’s pu’er, I likely think it needs more age.

bicycle bicycle bicycle


Sonoma County, CA

Following These People

Moderator Tools

Mark as Spammer