148 Tasting Notes


This has a light smoky flavor, almost barely noticeable, and as others have noted this seems to have Darjeeling and Keemun in it. I can taste a little bit of cocoa and a slight sweetness bordering on fruity. I steeped this one for four minutes and it’s still very mellow. I was hoping for something strong before essay writing but this seems to scream afternoon or evening tea!

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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My tiny tasting cup finally came! I’ve had this sample from Verdant for awhile now but I wanted to wait to try it until I could give it attention and lots of steeps. This is my first tasting note logging multiple infusions! I don’t have very sophisticated taste buds but I still felt like I got a lot of this tea (Rayn contributed a bit too).

I started out by giving this tea two quick rinses.

1st steep – about 4 seconds
Smells like hay and dirt, has a reddish brown color. The flavor reminds me of earth, mushrooms, hay, and the woods.

2nd steep – 5 seconds
Liquid is dark in the infuser but pours out a darker brown tinged with red. I still smell hay and dirt and barnyard. Tastes slightly mineraly?

3rd steep – 10 seconds
Sparkling taste is getting more prominent and it feels kind of cooling on the inside of my mouth. Still smells really earthy. Slight scratchy feeling near the back of my throat.

4th steep – 15 seconds
Scent is warm and almost spicy. More sparkly and sweet, this is the first time it’s tasted sweet. Wiggles, my cat, was very interested in this steep and spent a long time sniffing it!

5th steep – 20 seconds
Pu’erh is very sweet on this steep. Kind of juicy and fruity. I must have really liked this one because I drank it fast.

6th steep – 25 seconds
Clear and sweet. Rayn comments that this one “tastes like mineral water”. Didn’t get much before it got cold since he got home from work :)

7th steep – 30 seconds
Rayn’s note: “sweet and spicy”. Color is getting lighter again, I taste a bit of the spiciness Rayn mentioned, and it seems to be getting earthy again to me. As it cools more sweet mineral water flavor.

8th steep – 40 seconds
Light amber liquid. Flavor is bright, mineraly and this reminds me of pine or cedar.

9th steep – 1 minute
Light red color. Very sweet with a hint of saltiness.

I ended up steeping this three more times but didn’t write the last few down, they were really similar to the 9th steep.

205 °F / 96 °C
Rachel Sincere

My palate is not sophisticated at all. I hear “hay, earth, and the woods” and I think “Dump it! Trade it! NEXT!” LOL


Haha! I know it sounds odd, but it tastes good.


What Rachel said. =)

I found a Bodum tasting cup that I want to get. It’s so cute, it’s only about 2 or 2.5oz. I’m so psyched that I finally found something I like. Now I just have to find a place where it’s actually in stock…

Anyhoo, really cool tasting note! I’m impressed by all you got out of the tea in spite of your supposedly unsophisticated palate. =) I’m looking forward to similarly educating my own palate soon.


It was a really cool tea, Nik! Well worth trying if you’re interested in pu’erh. Even Wiggles (http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lzo3ppZ4OW1r581hyo1_1280.jpg) couldn’t resist checking it out.


I’m not, all that much, but I’m trying to psych myself into getting interested. =P


P.S. Wiggles is very cute. Is Wiggles wiggly?


If it’s any help Nik, I wasn’t interested at ALL in puerh… but puerh got interested in me. I’m hooked now – highly recommend this and other Verdant pus!


Verdant…pus? Oh! The plural of “pu,” I get it now. Had a really grossed out moment, there. =P Thank you, yes, that does help. I try to keep an open mind, and I’m willing to go earthy if there’s sweetness to be found, but I’m not even remotely willing if there’s only fishiness to be found. =)


Nik – Wiggles was a very wiggly baby! Nowadays she does wiggle a bit, but mostly naps and starts fights with her sister.
In my experience, better pu’erhs don’t have any fish taste or flavor.


haha ‘pus’ – my bad!
Yeah to be honest, I don’t think I’ve had a single “fishy” puerh from a high quality vendor like Verdant or Mandala. Only from DavidsTea n_n; (I still liked them, but it’s a totally different thing like the difference between a book and a movie!)


Sorry to hijack your tasting note Claire! It is wonderful!


DaisyChubb – I don’t mind hijacking! :)


very cute kitty!

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drank Yuzu Kukicha by Den's Tea
148 tasting notes

I think I could become very fond of this tea.

When I opened the package there were the familiar bright green twigs of kukicha, along with small yellow-orange flecks of yuzu and green matcha powder coating the inside of the bag (I reminded myself not to inhale too deeply). The yuzu smell is very strong when you smell this!

This brews up into a dark olive green liquid made slightly cloudy from the matcha powder. I haven’t had many yuzu flavored things, so this was fun to taste! There was a bit of kukicha flavor and then pow! tart yuzu, almost like lemon but my taste buds couldn’t quite place it. They went it’s like lemon…but no…maybe more like a mandarin…no…
The yuzu is a bit tart, but nowhere near hibiscus tart, just a pleasant citrus flavor. I think this could be really tasty iced.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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drank Chance Combinations by Custom
148 tasting notes

This is a chance combination of tea and a book club!
I recently had an idea that I thought was really cool, but wasn’t sure how others would feel about it, so I decided to put it out on the interwebs for feedback. And the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

I’m sipping on Nepal Black from David’s Tea and starting up a new book club titled “Old Books Are Cool”. Every week we’ll be reading a chapter from a book that is at least 80+ years old, most of which will be free in ebook format and certainly free from the library. At the start of every chapter I’ll be posting themes, historical context, cultural context, and sometimes questions to think about.
I really wanted to find a way to share with people older literature that often gets ignored in today’s society, I think in large part because it’s hard to understand without all the contextual stuff that goes with it.

So why am I posting this? I want to open this up to any friends on Steepster, or Steepsterites in general who might be interested. Our first book will be The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells and I’m aiming to start next week. The book club is being hosted in google groups so anyone can participate no matter where they are, and if someone has a week they can’t read they can just catch up whenever they want.
If this sounds like something you’re interested in, just send me a message with the email address you’d like added to the group. :)


Ooh. I’m interested. I’ll shoot you a PM with my e-mail. You may also want to post this one the steepster message boards so more people see it.


I thought about that, but I didn’t want it to be “non-tea spam”. I wonder if people would mind?

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drank Ginseng Oolong by DAVIDsTEA
148 tasting notes

This is tasty! I was cranky with the ginseng green I got from Adagio, in large part because the predominant flavor was ginger and not ginseng. No such trickery here. I was a little spooked that the label said to steep this for 5 mins, but the flavor is perfect.

The tea looks like little mossy rocks. I showed them to my housemate and he thought they were cool too, even though as he said it “doesn’t look like tea”. I watched this one brew in the steeper. In the first couple of minutes the layer of ginseng starts floating off, and the water gets a tiny bit cloudy. After that the oolong leaves themselves start to unfold, tiny and leafy. Unlike most ball oolongs which really unfold during the steep, these stayed somewhat ball like. They almost looked like little pieces of rolled up seaweed floating in the water.

I love the flavor of this. The oolong flavor is at the forefront, tasting a bit like a roasted tikuanyin. After that there’s a hint of ginseng and a sweetness that reminds me a bit of stevia. This tea also feels really cooling inside my mouth.

195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec

housemate is right, it doesn’t look like tea! I have only tried Teavivre Ginseng oolong and I loved it so much! I find that ginseng compliments oolong in a very unusual and almost intriguing way :-)


It really does TheTeaFairy! I only got a half ounce of this to try, but I really liked it and may get more in the future.

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Drinking the last of my sample of this tonight, and I’m sad to see it go! I noticed tonight that if I sip on this right away it tastes a bit odd to me, almost kind of bitter, but as it cools it develops the velvety chocolate I loved last time.

I’m doing homework at 10:15 on a Saturday because all my professors decided to be “nice” and make everything due the week before Thanksgiving break instead of after. What is there to do except sip chocolate tea while writing literary analysis?

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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drank Nepal Black by DAVIDsTEA
148 tasting notes

I’ve been wanting to try a black tea from Nepal for awhile now, so I had to pick this up first at Davids today.

The leaves are long, wiry, and slightly curled with some golden tips. The aroma of the dry leaves is beautiful – full of malt and cocoa. While brewing the leaves unfurl to nearly three times their size, and turn a light brown color. This is a neat one to watch steep.
The flavor is spot on for me. Lots of malt, cocoa, and a hint of honey-like sweetness at the end. For some reason I thought this would be like a darjeeling, but it’s much more “robust” than that. I really like this!
We had a long day of running errands and ended up held up by a problem with the MUNI system for awhile, and I very much wanted a Decent Cup of Tea by the time I got home. This did the trick. :)

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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drank Ginger's Oolong by Harney & Sons
148 tasting notes

And the last tea we tried tonight. I have a confession: some day I will be a crazy cat lady. I love my two cats and completely spoil them. One of them is named Ginger, and I thought it was adorable that this tea is called “Ginger’s Oolong”. Yep, I’m a dork. I got a sample.

I was a bit surprised at first because most of it looks like very small leaves, almost as if it was made with a CTC oolong. I thought, who would make CTC oolong? Then I remembered I’ve drank tea bag oolong before, the beloved yamamotoyama, and while it’s nothing special it’s not awful either.

Brewed up this tastes lightly floral and fruity with a nice bite of ginger, almost like drinking a not very strong herbal ginger infusion. But unlike the Adagio supposedly-ginseng-but-really-ginger tea I had recently, this is good. Nice ginger flavor without being overpowering or drying out my throat and mouth. I think this works well with the oolong as a balancing act.

Edit, a couple of classic Ginger photos:

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

Your Ginger looks like a purrfect tea companion to me


She is quite the cutie!

Hesper June

She is so cute! The tea sounds yummy too:)


What a little sweetheart!

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drank King of Fruits by Lupicia
148 tasting notes

Rayn and I are having an exciting Friday night…of drinking teas and watching Avatar episodes. Okay, so it’s exciting for me!

I have to say that I don’t care for durian, as a fruit. The smell is, to put it nicely, kind of revolting. I once sat next to someone on the bus ride home who had a fresh durian with them, and by the time I got home I thought I was going to puke. Essentially, the taste is decent but the smell is not. However, I’d read/heard so many good things about this tea that I figured I had to at least try it. After all, I once tried durian ice cream and that was actually not so bad, since the smell was not as pervasive.

So I opened the dry tea up, smelled it, and went yuck durian! But I told myself to be brave, scooped out a few teaspoons and brewed a cup. And it’s good. Really tasty, in fact. Once the tea is brewed it’s like it loses the nasty durian smell and just retains the delicious tropical fruit smell/flavor.

It can happen…durian tea can be good!

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec

Anything with durian must be good, although one must absolutly acquire tolerance for the heady aroma for sure!!!


I love the Avatar series! Its so good with tea, jasmine especially ;)

Terri HarpLady

I love Avatar, but I don’t care much for Durian. Nice review, though!


Uncle Iroh definitely makes the show. ;)


I had never heard of durian before reading your tasting note, so now it’s my turn to thank you for the education. :D

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drank Dongshan Dolce by Adagio Teas
148 tasting notes

Note: the bottom of this review contains a personal story I felt like sharing, but I’ve inserted a line for folks that just want to read about tea.
Perhaps this is just me, but most of what I’ve had from Adagio has seemed “stale”. I put FOUR heaping teaspoons in my steeper, steeped it for 2 minutes, and I got slightly green tea flavored water. I’d talk about what this tasted like, except that’s where it stops. I can tell there was some tea in the water – that’s pretty much it!

Ironically I just ordered something from Adagio, but it was a tasting cup. I really wanted a small cup to taste some teas with; the steeper I typically use makes 16oz, which just doesn’t work with lots of steeps.

And right after I ordered it, I had a funny mental intersection of tea, memory, and emotion.

When I was 19, I liked to get up in the morning and drink at least two or three cups of coffee. I lived with my friend Marc, who was brilliant on a ceramics wheel (and in lots of other ways too), and he surprised me one day with a HUGE mug that he’d made for me. The thing had to be at least 24oz. I loved it, and used it to drink BIG cups of coffee and tea.
About a year later, he drowned while in Africa for work. It was strange and shocking; he had traveled to lots of different countries, and was in great shape since he was an avid swimmer and rock climber. It took me a long time to accept that he had passed away, and then to grieve. A couple years later my then significant other dropped the mug one day, and it shattered into a million pieces. I felt shattered too.

Right after I ordered that tiny little cup, I thought it was so odd that nearly a decade ago I had loved that big, big mug. And now here I was wanting this tiny little cup to drink my tea.

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

Thanks for sharing your person memories! Isnt tea a wonderful vehicle for making us slow down and think?


It really is, JasonCT. I’m often surprised by the things I remember/think of while sipping on tea.


Lovely… Thanks for sharing!

Invader Zim

Thank you for sharing, it’s heart-warming and heart-wrenching at the same time.

Terri HarpLady

Claire, it is these personal stories that MAKE Steepster, giving us all a chance to feel that we know one another a little bit, no matter how far away we live. Thank you for sharing!
I also liked what Zim said!


Thank you all. After I wrote this I had Lupicia’s King of Fruits because Marc was always fond of durian. Tea is pretty amazing sometimes (and so is steepster).


I’m sorry for your loss, Claire. A friend of mine passed away in a similar way (we were also in our early 20s, he was also out “in nature”) and it was also a huge shock because he was young and fit. I’m also sorry about your mug! =( Thanks for sharing your story with us.

For a long time, now, I’ve been using my 16oz mug to drink tea. Like you, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that that’s fine sometimes (like when I’m out ‘n’ about), but mostly I want to stick to a regular teacup, like 6oz or so. So I’ve been looking for a spill-proof tumbler or something, but haven’t found anything yet.

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I mostly drink straight tea, and some of my favorites are green teas and oolongs. I almost always have some sencha and tieguanyin in my tea cupboard (and if I run out, awesome, an excuse to buy tea). I do like some flavored teas, but can’t stand really sugary stuff so if it’s very sweet I probably won’t like it. I can’t drink milk so all my reviews are of tea without milk and sugar!
I’ve been getting into puerh the last few months.

Outside of Steepster I’m an English Lit major, and will FINALLY be graduating after the Fall 2013 semester. After that I plan on applying for graduate school to obtain a Master’s in Library Science. Currently I work as a student assistant in the Archives and Special Collections department of my school’s library.
I also like reading (of course) and playing video games when I have time for them.

I’m happy to send samples to anyone in the US or Canada. Just ask. :)


San Francisco, CA

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