1696 Tasting Notes

A colleague shared some Pu-erh tea picked from a 200 year old tree.
What an experience! A light tea with a sweet, maple syrup note throughout all infusions, and intermittent notes of clay, malt, spun sugar, linen and oak. 
Unfortunately I had a few interruptions that threw off my timings a bit, so I had to fudge the follow up infusions a bit.
Also, I really need a way to maintain water temperature! My teapot cools down fast and I haven’t got a thermos big enough to hold that much liquid. For some reason my kettle keeps the heat, but it stays above where I need it to be, and then when I pour it into another vessel, its below where I need it because of the air exposure… tea snob problems
Not that it bothers me TOO much. Still, I wouldn’t mind doing it as per instructions the first (and in this case, only!) time.
Ah well. I really enjoyed it, and methinks I had a tea-buzz going on as well. Sweeeeet

195 °F / 90 °C

Was it a raw or cooked puerh? Sounds like a sheng maybe? Puerh is the best to get a tea buzz going IMO :D

Christina / BooksandTea

It sounds like you found a new job, based on this post. If so, congrats!


Stephanie, sorry I should have mentioned that! Definitely uncooked. Usually I get a bigger buzz from the cooked variety so I certainly didn’t expect that :)


Christina, sadly not so much. I finished my tea courses at George Brown. The girl who gave me this sample is a puerh importer.
I figured I better behave like who I want to become haha


(not an importer, just a professional!)

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So Friday was my last tea sommelier class. I’m done!! Sighs.
This is gonna be a long note so apologies in advance. I really want to remember the day and I think writing about it is the best way. That and I want to see if I can replicate some of the experiments at home one day :)
It was a great class to end on. We had so many teas that day, I swear I was a little drunk by the end of it!
The course was just presentations… I guess sommeliers are expected to have public speaking skills. It was a little stressful, but fun.
Well, we did start off the class with beer infused with Oolong. That was really tasty. Kindof floral and it blended well together. And it kicked off the “party” atmosphere.
Next we had some aged puerh with pretty intense menthol notes. Tasted great but the leaves smelled like moth balls! Errr…
After that we had more puerh (each class is dedicated to a type of tea. Can you guess what this one was??)
The lady who presented brought in tea eggs for us to try and they were the best I’ve ever had. Then again, I’ve only ever tried them at the old tea house I used to frequent before they closed down, and a sushi house that is also now closed. Hmmm.
Apparently the eggs are boiled in a brew of soy sauce, cinnamon, clove, sugar, salt, and guess what… tea! So flavourful and pretty. I love the marbled effect! I wonder what type of tea they used.
After that, we had another oolong, infused with presoaked (in tea!) pumpkin seeds. Our Prof is really nice, and doesn’t really care if we follow the schedule, and we weren’t being marked that day anyhow.
First steep was super pumpkin like, a little harsh, but rather tasty. I quite enjoyed it. Second one was much smoother, rounder, a little milder, and overall amazing. The package was written up in Japanese, so I’m not even sure what they are called… but I really wish I could find me some!
Anyhow, our last experiment was a bit more serious. One of my classmates bought a pesticide detection kit at Essence of Tea, that teaches you how to notice the difference between organic vs pesticide free food and beverages. They tested both teas in a lab and showed the results on a handout. I have it if anyone wants a copy. (though I would have to scan it)
It was not a perfect experiment because it came with two teas that weren’t identical besides the pesticide factor, but I did learn quite a bit anyhow. Mind you they were both uncooked puerhs made in a similar fashion, so it was easier to compare atleast.
It turns out that the way you can tell is not by taste at all! Not the main factor anyhow. Nope, it is more of a sensation thing. The organic version had a slight bitterness that came back with a honey sweet aftertaste. There was definitely more flavour there, while the pesticide version was less defined in that way. I would even say that it was kindof bland, more like something you could use for a flavoured tea, or in a blend.
The sensory part comes in with the pesticide version, and was really only noticeable when I sat down with a glass of both types. With the pesticide one, there was a very slight tingling/numbing of the tongue and roof of my mouth, and a tiny little pinching in my sinuses. You know when you have a headache, it comes in tiny stabs? somewhat like that, only very brief and not something I would normally pay attention to, although perhaps I should! Of course, organic is only one thing that contributes to quality tea. The richness of the soil, how it’s processed, how much sun it gets, those all need to be in balance as well. Bah. I had fun. Hopefully I’m not ruined for non-organic teas now heh. Ah well. The Prof pointed out that first or second flush teas are more likely to be organic anyhow, because pesticides are expensive and they don’t spray until the bugs come out… which is of course later in the season.
That was the end of it, sadly. It was a melancholy moment for me. But I really had to get going, as by the time I left class it was almost 10:30pm. We tea folk know how to partay.
Next up for me… a friend just gave me Turkish tea that she brought back from her trip! 500 grams I think. Oh dear. Should be interesting.


Thank you so much for the detailed notes and congratulations! Sounds like you had an awesome time. I’m just curious, what tea sommelier did you take and where did you find it?


Dwmshunt, yes it was a fabulous night!
The program is run through George Brown College in Toronto (Canada). There are five in Canada who offer it.
There is an American equivalent that you can take at the annual Tea Expo as well.

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drank Black Currant by Riston
1696 tasting notes

This tasted like syrup. Sweet, berry like and not bad at all!
a teeny bit wax like when cold but I expected that from Riston….
I think this would go really well in a tea popsicle.

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drank Jamais Vu by Nina's Paris
1696 tasting notes

Wow this is a dynamic blend!
Hot, it tasted of super sweet and fragrant tangerine. I think the pineapple really brought that out because it didn’t taste so much like pineapple, but it had that same sweetness.
Then as it cooled, it kindof reminded me of cherry!! Odd because I don’t think it’s an ingredient. Anyhow, now that my cup has entirely cooled, I get more of a citrus melange.
Overall, a very light, refreshing tea that I didn’t need to add anything to, though I think it’d go superbly with a touch of lemon! I would consider adding this one to my cupboard, no question.
Also, I agree with Sil, this is pretty much a lighter, more vibrant version of Hepburn.
Thank you Nina’s Paris for the sample!!

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drank Green Paradise by Riston
1696 tasting notes

Not bad for a bagged tea.
The good: It’s fluffy and fruity! Probably strawberry, maybe raspberry.
I let it cool quite a bit, and I kinda like it that way.
The bad: I taste a bit of plastic waxiness, with just a hair of bitterness at the end.
Overall, I wouldn’t ever buy it, but would certainly have a cup if it was free or offered at a social gathering where the gen pop isn’t tea snobby like us! :)

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drank Lemon Black by Riston
1696 tasting notes

Hot, this was like a lemon candy… but not a good one. Maybe one meant for soothing coughs and sore throats. You know, with that thick syrupy medicinal kick to it.
Cold, it was closer to lemon cleaner. Hey maybe I should have used it to polish my furniture instead of tossing down the drain

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drank Grape Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
1696 tasting notes

How is this not the matcha that everyone talks about?? It is so tasty!
I made it straight up, no sugar or anything, and it was sweet, grape like one of those lifesaver gummies, and a tad floral. Usually I don’t go for floral in my matchas, but here, I don’t mind it. After adding a tiny bit of sugar, it was super flavourful and juicy. I had to look in the mirror and make sure I wasn’t purple, there was so much yowza in there! Mind you, I did go with robust.
One thing I need to watch out for is bitterness, as I could taste just a hint of it and there is no way I burned the water or didn’t use enough. and I mixed the heck outta my cup. I can’t wait to try this via shaken bottle method!!

Roswell Strange

Would you say it was more raisiny/natural grape tasting or candy grape? Because I could see this being good as Matcha Soda – but only if it’s more candy like.


I’m not much for anything with artificial or natural grape flavor :(


Roswell, I would say more grape candy like for sure. Not really raisiny at all.

Kirk, that’s ok you may like one of the other Red Lead flavours!


what others do they have?


I’ve tried the almond one, it is quite good! kindof like marzipan.

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drank Yume by Lupicia
1696 tasting notes

Thanks to TeaBrat for another delish sample!
I really like this, but I read the description after taking my first few sips… and it didn’t say what I expected, though it is kinda accurate.
Everyone else talks about vanilla, and I guess I can see that, but I’m noticing more of a strawberry/rose note.
At first it reminded me of Marco Polo… but then as my cup drew near empty, I noticed that the base is more astringent, and the tea is less creamy yet more floral. So not that similar heh. But still really tasty, and yes, still reminiscent of a strawberry campino candy!
Of course, I’m not so sure it’d go well with milk.

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drank Strawberry Black Tea by Riston
1696 tasting notes

This was really good when hot, but like the cherry one, awful when cold. Good thing I already resigned it to the timolino!

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drank Cherry Black by Riston
1696 tasting notes

Nice. For a bagged tea that is.
Hot, it tastes just like a cherry candy with a black tea twist.
Cold, it gets quite plastic-ish, but adding a bit of sugar helped. This is one I would love to enjoy iced but I don’t think it will go over so well. Sad.
Also, I can kinda taste the tea bag. Atleast I think that is what the faint cardboard note is anyhow! I hope it is that… If it wasn’t for those two factors, I would most definitely rate this in the high eighties as the cherry flavour is the perfect amount of tart and spot on cherry, when hot that is.
Bah. I’ll be happy to grab a cuppa this when I just don’t wanna think and plunk the bag into my mug, or when I’m in a rush dashing out the door.

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Let’s see… I’m a tea and workout fanatic, I work in HR, and most of my friends consider me to be an egg. White on the outside, Asian on the inside :)
-from philosophy to food, I love it all
Otherwise, what you see is what you get! I can be very straightforward and yet shy.

Also, I’ve started taking tea sommelier classes and it is an absolute blast! Well, so far I’ve only finished the first out of eight courses, but I am really looking forward to the next one.

Anyhow, if your curious as to how I rate things, this is how I work…

Like eating dirt, or some other unsanitary indelicacy that mentioning in my profile here would likely get me banned.
I don’t think I’ve found cause to banish a tea to the wasteland yet though so who knows what it’d inspire ;P

You know that expression “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater”? I imagine drinking that water would be terrible enough to warrant this rating!
I’d never make my enemy drink this, but perhaps I’d throw it at them. Good thing I don’t have any enemies!

This is “tea”?? I tried finishing the cup… but my body rejected it. There may be others who enjoy this tea, but it’s beyond me!

I tried liking it, and I can almost get there! I certainly don’t hate it, but something is holding me back. Allergies? Men in white suits? who knows… certainly not me!

Lovely tea! Not my all time fave but close. I likely wouldn’t repurchase, but may decide to based on many factors: price, accessibility, whether it fills a “tea gap”, medicinal applications, and how often I crave it.
Every once in awhile I find the sweet spot that bumps these up to 90+. Those are the days I need to buy a lotto ticket!

Sweet Camellia! this is realllly good tea! Don’t talk to me until I’ve finished my cup…

Tea of the gods. I would do anything to get my hands on more of this liquid gold!


Toronto (Mississauga, but I work in TO)



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