1719 Tasting Notes

drank Dian Yin Zhen by Nannuoshan
1719 tasting notes

A Yunnan silver needle. Interesting. I have yet to meet a Yunnan I didn’t love.

The buds, as others mentioned, look like silver needle but not. They look like golden tips but not. What makes this different is the downy fur covered buds are straw color. They are so soft to the touch.

The dry scent immediately says Yunnan. It’s part leather, pepper, and hay.

After about a 30 second steep at 195 F this looks colorless until poured. In the cup it seems a grayish or possibly green tinted honey.

The taste is everything I love about Yunnan tea. Absolutely no bitterness. It has a warm earthy flavor that lingers between leather, cave mineral, slightly mushroom, and loam. It almost has a smoky presence but I am pretty sure white tea is not fired to halt oxidation.

After sipping this I realized I have sampled something similar in the form of white puerh.

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drank Tie Kwan Yin Oolong by Tea Ave
1719 tasting notes

The third and final of the Tea Ave samples I received along with the awesome aroma tasting set. OK, when I opened the sample I contemplated that Tea Ave was messing with me. The dry scent was roasted as expected along with fall leaves and grape. Grape? Makes no sense to me either but that is how my brain interpreted it. Then I looked at the leaf and instead of the dark green I expected, this looks like a tippy black tea rolled into nuggets trying to look like an oolong.

Steeped 3 1/2 minutes in the gaiwan. Poured into the aroma cup, flipped into the tasting cup without making a mess (Score!). Out of the aroma cup I was just getting roasted notes until I pulled the cup away. The I got a flood of floral bouquet. I liked it.

The taste is dark roasted and nutty. Then it seemed to turn very creamy. I don’t recall any one else experiencing this. Late in the sip I get apricot and greenhouse florals. There is a sweetness throughout.

What struck me is what I was not catching. Normally when I think tie kwan yin, I think geranium, or what those who are less amused taste as latex. This note is only lightly found momentarily in the lingering aftertaste. Between the roasting and the heavier oxidation it seems to be mostly eliminated. Interesting tea.


K S thank you so much for your thorough reviews for all 3 samples here and on you blog :) We would like to invite you to transfer your comments and rate the teas at our website when you get a chance to, it will help us a great deal :) Cheers.

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drank Ginger Lily Oolong by Tea Ave
1719 tasting notes

These samples are abundantly labeled with information including 4 different sets of brewing parameters. The C-3PO gold color of the bag appeals to the Jedi nerd in me.

The dry leaf smelled like roasted biscuits and oats to me. Whaaaat? I don’t know, maybe I should have eaten lunch.

The aroma and taste of this honey colored liquor is wonderful. It is a wave of floral typical of Alishan, but it is more. I’ve never heard of a ginger lily but it blends flawlessly with this tea. There isn’t a heat or spice note to suggest ginger to me. Just lush sweet floral notes. Then the taste and feel become milky. Well, that’s neat and how does that happen? Both thoughts go through my mind. But not for long as the light roasted note kicks in giving this a neat earthy nutty touch. The aftertaste lingers, and lingers, and lingers. It is a swirling transition of first floral then roasting then back.

Very nice.

Tea Ave thank you for the sample, and my apologies for taking so long to get to this one.


We had this one tonight at Writers’ Group!

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drank Earl Grey by Ahmad Tea
1719 tasting notes

I would have never made it as a world traveler. I could not survive the jet lag. Day light savings time only moves the clock one hour and it is kicking my butt. Sad thing is I no longer have to go to the office, so it shouldn’t matter. Today is a rainy, dreary, day with lots of fog. I just can’t get motivated. I am so behind on reviews, but my sleep deprived head hurts. Maybe tomorrow. Today I grabbed my favorite comfort tea. I even added sweetener which I almost never do any more. I over leafed on purpose and lowered the temp to 195 F (90 C) to compensate. The cup is dark, has some bite but not too much, and the bergamot is making me happy. I just may survive this day after all.


Aww, sorry DST is being a pain for you. I myself slept in until 10:30am today partially because of it too. That one hour difference can definitely still make quite a difference.


Losing that hour is just soooooooo wrong…. Take my money, take my car keys, take my jewelry, just don’t STEAL my TIME! ugh. I’m right there with you on this. <lifting my tea cup to you, as my head collapses on my desk… lol>


That lost hour kills me too. I’ve spent the past few days being mad at Woodrow Wilson for signing it into law, though it looks like I should actually be mad at Benjamin Franklin, Germany, and Congress: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-daylight-saving-time-8-things-to-know-20150306-htmlstory.html


Thanks Kaylee, good read. Riots in Russia over it. While I don’t suggest that approach, I understand. Our part of Indiana used to leave the clocks alone and changed time zones. It was great.


I hate DST as well…we need to get rid of it!


Changed time zones?! I am equal parts amazed and impressed. How is that even a thing? It never occurred to me that time zones could be malleable at will…


Microsoft used to have a special time zone setting in Windows just for Indiana. Then the politicians decided it was some how confusing to businesses in New York. If I could figure it out, I’m pretty sure the suits in New York could pay people to figure it out for them.

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drank Bai Mu Dan 2008 by Nannuoshan
1719 tasting notes

The third white tea from the Nannuoshan collection. Good white tea will age well and mature in flavor. You do not need to finish it off in a hurry if stored well. This one is from 2008. In the dry leaf I catch a complex blending of scents. This is leafy and deeply earthy. There is a touch of sour mixed with sweet. I also catch the fragrance of hay with floral overtones.

The leaf is very dark compared to their younger, Bai Mu Dan offering. It looks more mature with silver buds covered in fine downy hair. The leaves have only a slight hint of green. Mostly they are darker shades of brown, looking more like black tea at this point.

A 30 second steep in 195 F water results in a liquor that is clear with only a light tinting of yellow. The leaf remained mostly on the top of the water during the steep. After emptying the teapot, the leaves can be seen as chocolate brown and cinnamon.

The aroma is very suggestive of a black tea. Along with the leafy and peony floral notes, I detect a healthy dose of malt.

Tasting, there is a green leafy note up front, followed by a touch of ginger without the heat. After this, it turns a mellow mineral, followed by a mystery taste. It isn’t really potato. I am thinking maybe water chestnut, but not really. What is that familiar flavor?

Second cup, also at 30 seconds, had a plum aroma as I poured. The taste continues where the first cup left off with the addition of a peppery spice note up front. This cup also has a pleasant peony taste.

Cup three was steeped for 45 seconds. Weird, it is back to having a malty aroma with a much lighter plum note. This tastes much like the second, except the spicy note is much less pronounced. The plum that I caught in the aroma is also drifting in to the taste.

Sorry getting long winded. I’ll finish by saying this seems to pack a lot of cha qi. I feel warm and fuzzy, very mellow, yet very focused.



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drank Bai Mu Dan by Nannuoshan
1719 tasting notes

My second white tea from the Nannuoshan collection. The dry leaf aroma has sweet and slightly sour notes of fresh cut hay. My sample had very little settling so the leaf is mostly intact, long and straight. The leaf is light green to olive, while the buds are silvery and covered in fine downy hair.

A 30 second steep produces a very light yellow liquor. The tiny fuzzy hairs are seen throughout the mug. Once the tea cools for a moment the fuzz all settles to the bottom leaving an otherwise clear brew.

The wet leaf scent matches perfectly my memory of mom’s peony bushes that bloomed outside my bedroom window when I was a wee lad. I have honestly never caught this before in a white peony. So, much love.

Sipping I get a light melon/cucumber taste. There is some amount of floral notes that are more in the background. The longer I sip the more I pick up on the slightly sweet hay noted in the dry leaf aroma.

I veered off course with the second cup and steeped for 1 1/2 minutes instead of the recommended 45 seconds. The flavor is more intense but I learned I really prefer the shorter steep taste. The brew is a much darker golden color with a green tint. The flavor seems to match the first cup but as I mentioned is more intense. It is accompanied by a peppery spice note at the front of the sip. I catch fleeting glimpses of fruit. It seems to jump back out of range before I can fully lock in on it and identify exactly what type fruit.

I have enough for another session with this one. I intend to stick with the recommended time and temps.

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drank Xue Ya by Nannuoshan
1719 tasting notes

I chose to review Nannuoshan’s white tea collection. This first one, Xue Ya, seems controversial. I’ve seen versions of Snow Buds listed by other companies as white, yellow, and green teas. This one from Yixing is long straight green leaf with silver haired buds. The dry leaf scent is slightly sweet, and equal parts grassy and oats.

The first steep was 30 seconds. The liquor has very little color, just a hint of yellow. The green wet leaf has an aroma suggesting stewed meat to me, Mmmmm. Along with it is a vine like aroma.

The taste is mildly sweet. It is sort of grassy, but the taste is bigger than that simple word. It has a bite that is bitter, but stay with me, the bitter is the crisp refreshing type that is pleasing to the palate.

The second cup at 45 seconds is very different. The good bitter of the first cup is moved to the aftertaste along with some grassiness. The sip itself has a strong umami presence with an almost metallic bite. My cup was empty before I realized, so obviously I enjoyed it.

The third cup at 60 seconds morphs once more. The aroma is quite vegetal, seeming more like a Chinese green tea. The taste is a combination of flavors. I get earthy/mushroom, mineral, umami, and grass. The aftertaste is cooling while tasting lightly sweet, and a good bitter grass.

I do like this one. To my tastes it seems more like a green tea than a white. I can see why the debate rages on.

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Actually had this a few days ago. Just now posting. When I opened the sample I thought I was smelling a Peppermint Patty. I know there is no chocolate in it. I handed it to my wife who said the same thing. Can’t explain it, but I liked it. Tasting, this is first peppermint, but it doesn’t assault you. It quickly steps aside and a creamy sensation kicks in. Then I notice the apple like notes of chamomile. The flavors work together nicely. The rooibos I notice last. It adds a fullness to the cup without dominating. I found this to be a well balanced and enjoyable herbal. Typically this would be a good late night treat. I think I wouldn’t mind it most any time of day.

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drank Golden Yunnan by RiverTea
1719 tasting notes

One of the greatest things about having a long running blog is you receive a lot of samples for review. One of the biggest reasons not to have a blog, if you’re thinking about it, is you receive a lot of samples. Seriously. I have a box full waiting for review (and more on the way). Unlike some of you I cannot drink 15 cups a day. I generally have three and they are usually all the same tea. The blog makes it tough to work in old favorites, but I love my blog so…

Today, at least for this first cup, I am neglecting the box and drinking what I’m craving. After this cup I have just enough for one more time with this one. Those of us who love it have not seemed to be able to find a suitable replacement.

Just enough smoke in the aroma to suggest bohea. The smoke note even expresses itself in the exhale and aftertaste. It has a traditional yunnan taste though lighter than many I’ve had. Sweet honey and caramel with a peppery spice at the beginning. I even feel I detect leather. It is one of those teas that the dry scent stays on your fingers and I have no desire to scrub it off.

Unfortunately, the label does not list the estate that produced this one. Sure going to miss it.

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This one doesn’t seem to have gotten much love on Steepster. This is another my wife picked. I thought strawberries and cream – yummy. Then I read the ingredients. I have had one black currant tea before this. Granted it was bagged but it was Ahmad who I normally trust to give me a pleasant bagged experience. I did not like it. I seldom like hibiscus in anything.

Then I opened the lid and sniffed. Hey this may not be so bad. Yeah it is rooibos but it smells like vanilla and cherries, or blueberries, or maybe grape. I never could decide. Doesn’t matter as none of those things are actually listed as ingredients.

I steeped for 5 minutes in a Finum basket using boiling water. The brew is dark like coffee but as you tilt the cup it looks more purplish red. That amused me. The white chocolate forms some scum on the surface that doesn’t hurt anything except the aesthetics.

The first sip was pleasant but much lighter than I expected. I added sweetener and the change is spectacular. I’m just going to quote my blog post on this rather than coming up with something new:

Once sweetened this came alive. The black currant and the hibiscus combine to give a taste that I can’t nail down but drifts between blueberry, cherry, and grape. I do taste just the slightest tartness but honestly it works here. This is creamy, probably from the white chocolate. I do taste the rooibos but it is not the main note. It adds to the overall mix with a touch of spicy sweetness.

I think I can best sum up my perception of this blend by telling you that I went into this review not expecting much from these ingredients. I thought, I’ll try to keep an open mind but will settle on just getting through it. I ended up gulping the last half of the cup down and can’t wait to have another. Surprisingly delicious.

OK, its me live again. This is one of those times when experimenting really paid off. You wouldn’t have a issue with adding a little salt to your supper, if it needed help bringing out the flavor, so don’t be afraid of a little sweetener when it is needed.


I’m actually really fond of this company. They make my favourite vanilla tea and are pretty good overall. Underrated, I think.


Agreed. I can’t think of many companies that can take ingredients I don’t like and make something tasty out of them. Their self restraint is one of their biggest strengths. They generally use a lighter hand on the flavorings so you can actually taste the base.


MMM. A little dairy with fruit is sometimes a good pepper-upper.

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Having a passion for tea and living in rural America is a tough combination. The nearest tea vendor is 65 miles away. Joining Steepster has completely changed the direction of my tea journey.

My Rating System

90-100 Love it enough to keep around
80-90 Like a lot, would drink often
70-80 Above average
50-70 Average – take it or leave it
0-50 I don’t like it and don’t want to like it


Indiana, USA



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