My coworker was visiting family in Taiwan and offered to bring me back tea. Apparently, he and his cousins went out trying a whole bunch of different tea shops on the hunt. I’m both thankful he did it and jealous. I’ll be reviewing the various teas he got for me over the next little bit.

Starting with the Sun Moon Lake black tea. Appearance: beautiful, long twisted tea leaves. I seriously love how these look. When steeped, they have a leathery appearance. Liquor: dark amber-brown. Very smooth, complex mouthfeel. Smell: dark, malty, and a little smoky. Taste: Sun Moon Lake is interesting because it is an Assam variety plant, grown in Taiwan (so the course reversed, where the Chinese variety were taken to Darjeeling). This definitely tastes like an Assam – assertive, malty, complex. It has some nutty, almost cocoa, flavor notes. It is good (and varied) throughout the cooling process. Much less astringency than most black teas (although I did steep for a short time for a black tea) This is right up there with a good Darjeeling as my top-two favorite black teas – for obviously different reasons. Yum.

190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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Attorney in San Francisco. Recent convert to tea drinking, but I’m hooked. I also love experimenting with vegetarian food (meaning I rarely use recipes). Long time chocolate lover.

When I review a tea, I will identify the following information: Source – “Name.” Style, including loose, bag, or sachet. Appearance, referring to the appearance of the leaves dry. Liquor, referring to the appearance of the brewed drink. Smell, referring to the brewed liquor. Taste (self-explanatory). Other insights. Finally, I will give it a score from 1 to 10. Anything in the 1-3 range is something that I disliked and am unlikely to consume again. Anything in the 4-6 range is okay; I am not likely going to buy it again, but if I came across it and wasn’t paying (or past my fairly low caffeine tolerance for the day), I probably would consume again. Anything in the 7-9 range is something I liked, and the higher the score the more likely I will try to keep the particular tea around. I intend to use a 10 rating very rarely, and only for the very best.

General notes:

I don’t like milk or sugar in my tea, except for an Indian style chai masala and certain other exceptional cases. Many black teas are blended to be more on the bitter side, and thus to call for sugar to soften and round the flavors. When I think to try sugar in such a black, my review will note any difference between the straight and sugared taste. I’m doing that for the review process, because if something requires sugar, I’m unlikely to commit to it for one of my standard teas. I can’t imagine using sugar in a green, oolong, or white tea, so don’t expect that distinction in reviews of those types.


San Francisco



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