1315 Tasting Notes

When the sun goes down in November, the cold penetrates to the bone. No better tea to banish the chill and flood the body with warmth than a good aged tea. Feeling grateful for a lot of luxuries right now.

An aged tea does not usually beckon one to admire the leaf. Here, the leaf is surprisingly large and in tact. It looks well processed and cared for. Nor does an aged tea usually beckon one to admire the leaf aromas. When dry, it smells like a powdery soft vanilla root beer, soy sauce, BBQ and wintergreen. Warming brings hard and dark wooden furniture. Rinsing brings back the root beer and wintergreen, now with earth-encrusted tree roots and petrichor, a general TCM feeling, tobacco and bread dough.

The liquor has a surprisingly strong wintergreen and BBQ pork aroma. The aged taste, less concentrated than the leaf aromas, begins with straw, wintergreen, campfire and a hint of butter, transitioning to a clean and crisp wintergreen woody tobacco root beer. I’ve never had birch beer but it makes me wonder if this is close. A slight cherry bark undertone comes into play.

The mouthfeel is generally smooth and mineral with some moments of juiciness followed by an alkaline impression in the back of the mouth. A little bit drying, some tingling of the salivary glands. The overall feeling, especially in the mouth and throat, is warming/cooling, much like the pervasive wintergreen character.

I read from both of the other reviewers that this tea is rather energizing, however those experiences were from 7 and 5 years ago, so maybe some of the caffeine has degraded with time. I was acting goofy and singing stupid songs to my cat (she’s almost 21!) and an imaginary crowd before sitting down with this tea; now I feel warm and relaxed, quieted. Bedtime is when I realize I’ve had a strong tea too late in the evening. Thankfully it’s Saturday.

White Antlers — your presence is missed. Thanks for passing this one on.

Flavors: Alkaline, Bark, Bread Dough, Campfire, Cherry, Dark Wood, Drying, Earth, Grilled Food, Mineral, Root Beer, Roots, Salt, Smooth, Soy Sauce, Straw, Tobacco, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Vanilla, Wintergreen, Woody

Boiling 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

All of those flavor descriptors are so homey and comforting!


I sang with you (hello, venerable kitty!) and then quieted with you. Thank you for inviting us into your tea experience. <3

Mastress Alita

21 years! I hope I am as blessed to have my kitty for a long time, too.


That tea sounds fun and comforting. Long live the kitties!

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Definitely halfway between a fully ripened tea and a black one as What-Cha states. It’s exceptionally clean and fresh tasting, more cool in feeling than warm. Smooth foresty-earthy, tangy ‘tea’ taste along with a tone of stewed fruits. There’s a brightness to it that I was never able to pin down even after finishing the last of the bag. And now that I’ve read the leaf was aged for a year in a jute bag, I swear that’s a complementary taste.

Western could manage 2 steeps only if leafed heavily. Gongfu gave 6 or 7 solid over-steeped infusions that retained the smoothness but left some residual bitterness.

Overall, I found it an easily approachable tea and one I could recommend as a first step to somebody looking to explore shou pu’er. I never took good notes, so I’m hoping eastkyteaguy will fill in someday!

Flavors: Cedar, Dry Leaves, Earthy, Forest Floor, Mineral, Round, Smooth, Stewed Fruits, Tangy, Tea, Wet Rocks

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drank Chili Brew by Brooke Birch Tea Shoppe
1315 tasting notes

Last tea to try from the sampler my coworker bought me back in May? If you come across this, Gary, thanks again for your generosity :)

Edited to make this a simpler note than the comparison I had written up yesterday to a tea in the same vein: Frontier’s Warming Crimson Berry https://steepster.com/teas/frontier-natural-products-co-op/17906-warming-crimson-berry-tea While I used to appreciate Warming Crimson Berry, Chili Brew is world’s better!

Chili Brew contains Ceylon black tea, hibiscus, dried blackberries, New Mexico chiles, orange peel and chrysanthemum. The fresh, warming bite of chili pepper hits the senses first followed by the full and juicy mouthfeel provided by hibiscus. Every ingredient comes together to produce a cohesive profile that is not excessively sour or acrid like so many hibiscus blends can be (no sugar needed!). Fruity and iron/earthy, juicy, definitely warming, fortifying. Not much caffeinating since the black tea is not in high proportion to the rest of the ingredients, none of which are flavorings. Good for one solid steep that can be brewed for well over the recommended 3-5 minutes.

I’d recommend this to people who can tolerate a solid dash of regular hot sauce on their food, and I don’t mean Taco Bell hot sauce. A little spicier than Crystal, not as much as Tabasco.

Glad I saved this fortifying brew for the rainy season. On a cold-ass, time-change morning when my hormones are rebelling, it’s helping me hate my body less :P

Flavors: Blackberry, Chili, Earthy, Fruity, Hibiscus, Juicy, Orange Zest, Smooth, Spicy, Tart, Thick

200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec 5 g 10 OZ / 295 ML

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drank Roasted Green Tea by Georgian Tea 1847
1315 tasting notes

Finally dipping into 1 of these Georgian teas. Thanks so much for orchestrating the group buy, Martin :)

The flavor and aroma are full of sweet-roasty and slightly tangy goodness. Roasted barley, caramelized sugar leaning almost burnt, toast and wood all underscored by refined grassy astringency. Earthy in vibe but not taste. Somewhat mineral texture, good mouthfeel that’s a little oily. One thing that arrested me was the color of the tea in the bowl — an alluring, deep shade of salmon with a vibrant clarity. Fresh tea, what a treat :) That’s about as deep as I’m going to get tonight.

I thought this roasted green tea was going to be a wild card but it’s really well balanced and refined. Turns out to be made with a hand that knows what makes houjicha a cup of hot comfort :)

One more :)

Addendum: brewed in a bowl today at work with dispenser hot water, the astringency was no longer in balance and the tea didn’t develop that deep salmon color until the third top-off. Probably due to filtration and pH level — every tea I drink at home uses unfiltered tap water which definitely has calcium in it. Nothing crazy but I do think it smooths most of my at-home brews.

Flavors: Astringent, Caramelized Sugar, Earthy, Grassy, Mineral, Oily, Roasted Barley, Roasty, Smooth, Sweet, Tangy, Toast, Wood

190 °F / 87 °C 3 g 10 OZ / 300 ML
Martin Bednář

You are welcome. Maybe with current weather outside (foggy and rainy, around 8°C allday) I should take it out and brew it. Seems to be lovely.

I wonder how much big difference is between using Japanese style pan and Georgian style pan…

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Coming back to this heicha a few years later only because I thought I had put another fuzhuan tea in the pot — 2015 Gao Jia Shan Da Cang Jia.

Has more of a cherrywood taste now, with undertone of hay and its astringency. Smoky – less so than before – in an ashy stone hearth way but not tarry like some lapsang souchong, more like a decent Russian Caravan. Bit astringent and drying, light-bodied. Later steeps have a gentle twiggy-sweet aftertaste and mild camphor impression. Seems to have more longevity than before. Definitely no visible golden flowers in this sample chunk.

Still ambivalent.

Flavors: Ash, Astringent, Camphor, Cherry Wood, Drying, Fireplace, Hay, Mineral, Smoke, Wet Rocks

Boiling 0 min, 45 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 90 ML

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drank Snowflake Dancong by white2tea
1315 tasting notes

From Leafhopper, thank you :)

Full-figured fruity flavor, smooth spices (clove and wintergreen) in roasty honey, indolic white florals. Mix of green banana and unripe pineapple astringency with cactus bitterness (more feel than taste), neither of which dominates the character. More complex progression than I’m in the headspace to take note of but it’s a natural flow.

Decent aroma (milk chocolate turning Christmas punch), better aftertaste (violets and morphing fruits in brown sugar syrup), some cherry-pineapple burps. Medium-strength muscle-penetrating feel.

Liking this one quite a bit! Fun to experience the range of taste associations but not one I’d often drink.

Flavors: Alkaline, Amaretto, Astringent, Banana, Bitter, Brown Sugar, Cactus, Cherry, Clove, Fig, Floral, Fruity, Gardenias, Grass, Honey, Jasmine, Kiwi, Milk Chocolate, Paper, Passion Fruit, Peach, Pine, Pineapple, Quince, Roasty, Stewed Fruits, Sweet, Tropical, Violet, Wintergreen

205 °F / 96 °C 4 g 2 OZ / 60 ML
Martin Bednář

Ah, my very first oolong “leaf type” and not sure if not first loose leaf one at all! I remember I liked it!

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From White Antlers, thank you :)

Simple tea with aged, wet storage taste. There are no rough edges here nor is there any soil murkiness, however, one probably needs to appreciate damp notes to enjoy this tea. Most notable is it’s silky, almost oily, texture; also its comfortable, expansive mouthfeel. It’s not often I experience a mouth-filling tea.

The profile is somewhat alkaline and very rounded with mostly a basement-cavern-petrichor note followed by dry root cellar, once-wet wood, very mellow TCM, some fleeting fruitiness and a clean, mineral finish with non-existent aftertaste. Of the four steeps, the last two revealed the leaf’s hidden smokiness and pine wood.

I added a few tea seed shells from Liquid Proust to the pot without having tried the tea on its own first, so I do wonder how they contributed to last night’s perceptions.

Going to the SF Tea Fest for the first time in 4 years next weekend. Most excited to chat with UC Davis Global Tea Initiative, which 4 years ago I had hoped to join should I have attended UC Davis for a grad program but life swiftly led me in another direction. No regrets. Old Ways Tea will be there, too, and I wonder if Tillerman Tea will make an appearance.

Flavors: Alkaline, Earth, Mineral, Petrichor, Pine, Roots, Round, Silky, Smoke, Tannin, Tree Fruit, Wet Rocks, Wet wood, Woody

Boiling 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

That sounds exciting!

Martin Bednář

It sounds somehow okay to me; though I am very excited to hear you are going to SF Tea Fest. Enjoy it! I want to go to one, but always it was in wrong dates for me. Hopefully next year!


I’m going alone, so there’s not a whole lot of excitement surfacing yet. At this point, I’m more excited about making a long day of my trip to the city and not having to drive. Train > ferry > festival > dinner (Thai? Viet? Ethiopian? Korean?) > say hi to some shopkeepers in my old neighborhood > bus back home over the Golden Gate. Wish you both could join me!

Mastress Alita

I haven’t been since that time in 2018. I got the e-mail about it this year and the thought fluttered through me briefly, but our raises out here aren’t doing much against actual inflation rates and I just couldn’t afford plane tickets and other vacation costs right now. Maybe another time!


Completely understandable. This will be my first day trip anywhere since early June. I hope future circumstances will allow you to return to the Bay area for another tea festival. It’d be neat to see you and Todd again :)

Martin Bednář

derk: I even checked flights, however can’t because busy times at work and no more “leave of absence” days. Try to remind me next year :D


Anyone got White Antlers email? I used to have it but lost it in a computer crash. I wonder how she is doing.

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drank Arunachal Handmade Black Tea by Ketlee
1315 tasting notes

Finished this off as western-steeped work brews. Rather astringent-tannic in the mouth and body this way, not soft as when prepared with higher leaf:water and lower temp, but with deeper flavor and still a very pleasant aroma. A mix of hazelnut and cocoa wafers (like those Loacker Quadratini or maybe their drier, larger ones), a big peachy midtone, chili leaf and hot hay. I feel this tea’s strength in my muscles, gets them revving. Interesting juxtaposition to the aromas and tastes. I’d consider purchasing this one again.

A little bit will be coming your way, Martin.

Flavors: Astringent, Chili, Cocoa, Hazelnut, Herbaceous, Hot Hay, Juicy, Peach, Spicy, Tannin, Woody

Martin Bednář

Thanks in advance. Sounds interesting, though I will try to find the way to tame astringency :)

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drank 1990s Liubao by Liquid Proust Teas
1315 tasting notes

From a purchase 4-ish years ago.

This aged liu bao doesn’t have much longevity to it but what character it does harbor hits with a pow. With no hint of what is to come based on the liquor aroma, the first cup smacks me in the senses — not what I’m expecting from an old heicha. It’s like drinking a boiled peppermint tea but kind of fruity. It moves with haste in the mouth like it’s trying to get home as quickly as possible (in my gut!). Have you ever seen a small animal dart so fast to its hideout? The finish is oily and a bit metallic. Second steep I think I taste pizza — pineapple pizza — with old sauce and parmesan cheese rind. Third steep is? Nutty-rooty-woody. Forgettable, I guess. This tea definitely has a soft edge of wet storage to it. I have a difficult time describing humid notes without scaring people away.

Overall, I picked up on more aroma in the warmed and rinsed leaf than distinctive tastes in the tea. Lots of associations from the leaf such as maple-sweet fenugreek seed, warm bricks, old Easter candy (robin eggs), goji, autumn leaf, hot stone fireplace and finally mulberry, which appeared as the leaf cooled and while I waited for the kettle to boil again.

Too caffeinating. Both times drank left me feeling some anxiety.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Berries, Bread, Cheese, Chocolate, Fireplace, Goji, Herbal, Metallic, Mint, Nuts, Oily, Pancake Syrup, Pineapple, Roots, Smooth, Tomato, Wood

Boiling 0 min, 45 sec 5 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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There a few links in this note for reference and some childhood food-related nostalgia.

Persian teas from What-Cha:

(1A) “Persia Lahijan Hand-Made Black Tea” is how this was sold on What-Cha.
(1B) “Near Eastern Hand-Made Black Tea” is how this was labelled, for reasons, I assume https://steepster.com/teas/what-cha/97378-near-eastern-hand-made-black-tea

(2) “Persia Lahijan Black Tea” is a different tea, probably a different harvest and maybe not ‘hand-made’ https://steepster.com/teas/what-cha/94231-persia-lahijan-black-tea

Had this morning in light of tumultuous times in Iran and grateful I had the opportunity to procure a bag.

I love the aroma. Have you ever had a chocolate-covered potato chip? Two Dayton, OH, companies — Esther Price candies and Mikesells potato chips (cooked in peanut oil) — teamed up to release their own version sometime in the late 90s/early 00s? Getting off track (now I’m craving a Marion’s Pizza), but the aroma is like those tastythings but with a more greasy scent and a little earthy. So maybe more like Wendy’s french fries dipped in a Frosty?

The tea is a mellow easy-drinker. Smooth and medium-bodied with just a touch of astringency and a delicate malty-berry sweetness. Absolutely no bitterness. A friend of the forgetful mind. You can do either one long steep or eek out a second steep if the first one was timely.

This tea feels like a bit of a shadow compared to the probably-not-handmade version but it’s fantastic in its own way. It has to be up there with Dobra Cajovna’s Guria Likhauri black tea from Georgia in terms of drinkability. Really easy-going! If ever I were to have a trusty stand-by black tea in my cupboard, both would occupy that role no doubt. Unfortunately, neither are easily accessible in the States.

Flavors: Berry, Chocolate, Earthy, Malt, Peanut, Potato, Roasted Nuts, Smooth, Wet Wood


Potato chip tea! There’s a flavor profile you don’t hear about much, but you’ve made it sound pretty tasty.


It is delicious! I made a cup this morning for a coworker. He doesn’t have a strong sense of taste and doesn’t drink coffee – only the cheapest black teabags on the daily with Coffee Mate hazelnut creamer and sugar. He said this tea was really good and requested another cup.


I love coworker reactions — even the ones where I’m told what I’m drinking smells like cologne or stinky feet. (You’d like her!)

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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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