An Xi Tie Guan Yin traditional charcoal roast

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Oolong Tea
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Edit tea info Last updated by Cait
Average preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 8 oz / 236 ml

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28 Tasting Notes View all

  • “I love smokies. I love the way they prickle on the tongue and the surprise of sweetness that shows up on the swallow. Sometimes a lot sometimes just a hint. I love Tie Guan Yin. I love the almost...” Read full tasting note
  • “Life in Teacup…I must say I am VERY pleased with your customer service!!! I’ve VERY excited to try your tea! This is the first one I will be tasting! I see it’s a well rated cup here on...” Read full tasting note
  • “Mmmmmmmmmm! My order from Life in Teacup just got here yesterday and overwhelmed me with the shiny foil-wrapped temptations waiting within! I feel like a really need to find some time to sit down...” Read full tasting note
  • “Thank you so much to RABS for sending me this. Yesterday in the Geek Contest Game I ruled another “2” and there was no corresponding package left—I had already had my “2”. Today I ruled a “2”...” Read full tasting note

From Life In Teacup

Production Year: 2009
Production Season: Fall
Production Region: Anxi County, Fujian Province
Style: Traditional charcoal roast

Brewing method for oolong, ball-shaped dry tea leaves
Vessel: gaiwan or small teapot
Water temperature: newly boiled water (nearly 100°C or 212 °F)
Amount of leaves: 5 gram for every 120ml total volume (Or reduce the amount to 3 gram for some heavy oxidation and/or heavy roast products)
Warm-up infusion: pour hot water in the vessel, and immediately drain it. Wait for about 1min. before starting the next infusion.
Time for each of the first 3 infusions (after warm-up): 20sec. (Or reduce the infusion time to 10-15sec. for some heavy oxidation and/or heavy roast products)
Extend infusion time based on taste for later infusions. Most oolong tea can well last for at least 5-7 infusions.

About Life In Teacup View company

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28 Tasting Notes

1328 tasting notes

I love smokies. I love the way they prickle on the tongue and the surprise of sweetness that shows up on the swallow. Sometimes a lot sometimes just a hint.

I love Tie Guan Yin. I love the almost floral freshness of them, the lovely green colour of the leaves and the lightheartedness of the flavour.

Smoky + Tie Guan Yin = ?

What could possibly go wrong here?

Well, I am about to find out, as Cait happened to be in possesion of some and very kindly offered to send me a sample of it when I expressed my curiosity.

The leaves have darkened so they look like an oolong from the darker end of the spectrum. They smell very oolong-y and grass-y, but not really smoky as such. It’s definitely not a ‘normal’ oolong smell, but it’s not really smoke either. It’s more like… a touch of smoke. The memory of smoke. If I search really hard in the aroma, I can find real smoke, but the grass-y oolong-y parts of the aroma are just so strong and insist on being in the foreground at all times.

Tea-making not being an exact science, I think I gave it a slightly longer steep here than what is strictly necessary, so that may account for the appearance. It looks a bit more reddish brown than the regular Tie Guan Yin. The aroma is very oolong-y but with a crisp sort of bite to it. Again, not really smoke. More like… toast. There’s something very fruity here too. Sweet apple-y. Interesting. I’ve never found that in a Tie Guan Yin before.

Oh my ceiling cat!

First sip made me really widen my eyes in wonder. This tea must have gold dust in it, that’s how good it is. It’s not smoky as we know our regular smokies. It doesn’t have that same bite, not at first. At first it’s more toasted than smoky and then the smoke shows up on the swallow. That’s so backwards!

This actually reminds me quite strongly of Genmaichas. There is the same sort of nutty toastedness in it. That apple from the aroma is a bit harder to find but if the tea isn’t too terribly hot, there’s a touch of it for a brief moment when it first hits the tongue.

I’ve got enough leaves for one more pot, but I’ll have to check the vendor because I can’t remember now if they were one of the places to have reasonable shipping to Europe or not. If they do, I will without a doubt need more of this.


Yay! \o/


Oooh, I gotta try this….I tried the regular green TGY (grade 2) and I absolutely loved it. Maybe I’ll add some of this to my next shopping list.


their US shipping is more than reasonable, i hope international is as well!


I have to give this another try immediately now. No waiting. (Your ceiling cat references crack me up.)


It’s funny you mention gold dust because there are some teas that are a golden color and have “dust” covering them. LOL.


want want want want want!!!!! I too love the “Oh my Ceiling Cat”s (that rolls off the tongue so much easier than “oh my great flying spaghetti monster”) :D


But not as well as “Oh my Cthulhu!” ;)


Is this the Special Edition one?

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6770 tasting notes

Life in Teacup…I must say I am VERY pleased with your customer service!!! I’ve VERY excited to try your tea! This is the first one I will be tasting! I see it’s a well rated cup here on Steepster and now I will be a part of it as well! YAY!!!! This is screaming 2nd (or more) infusion(s)!!! Here’s my first go-around with this roasty-toasty dude…

It’s a gentle smoke scent paired with a little bit of woodsy and almost a natural puckery sweet…maybe apple-scent!? LOVELY…and VERY unique!


Oh my…I have to laugh…but for GOOD reason…I see that more than one reviewer on Steepster also added WOW regarding this tea…and I thought it was funny…but there I go saying now…WOW…and I’ll say it again…WOW…I can’t say as I have ever tasted anything quite like this…VERY NICE…Unique is rarely bad in my book.

It’s acting like it’s a sweet type taste and ‘fakes you out’ and ‘changes it up’ into a woodsy type taste…then you can taste the smoke. The smoke is VERY pleasant and makes you all warm and fuzzy inside!!! I am picking up on a Apple/Lemon type flavor as an aftertaste, almost…

I agree with the other posts about this being a different kind of a smoke! It’s not your Souchong type…it’s much different…and very relaxing!!!

This Oolong was a very nice surprise in so many ways!!!!

Boiling 6 min, 0 sec

Hooray! I totally love LiT’s customer service and can’t say enough good things about how “WOW” their tea is. This was my 10 hour tea and I loved every single sip of it — warm and fuzzy is totally apt. So glad that you love it too :D


Not entirely sure but i think i ordered some of their teas too. (checks) Yup yup i did and a bunch of them too :D


I have some more LiT’s Reviews coming up this afternoon…


Double hoorays!!!!! :D


Ooooh, you know I love roasted oolongs! :) I already had this one on my shopping list. Now, I just need some extra cash. lol

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216 tasting notes


My order from Life in Teacup just got here yesterday and overwhelmed me with the shiny foil-wrapped temptations waiting within! I feel like a really need to find some time to sit down and thoroughly taste everything. Today I don’t have that time, but I do have a whole fresh pile of this lovely tea which I already know I love. Mmm, smoky and delicious.


I am SO curious about this one and I just discovered a lovely shipping flat rate to Europe. Veeeeeery interesting.


It is wonderfully tasty! I think I could send you a bit, if you like….


If you don’t mind shipping to Europe, I’d like that. Take a look at my cupboard and see if there’s anything you’d like in return. :) There are a couple of things that I don’t have enough of to share, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. :)


I’d love to try some pu-erh, if you have some to send! Everyone keeps talking about it and I have no idea where to start….


No problem. :) I don’t have vast amounts at the moment, but I can definitely put something together for you.

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257 tasting notes

Thank you so much to RABS for sending me this. Yesterday in the Geek Contest Game I ruled another “2” and there was no corresponding package left—I had already had my “2”. Today I ruled a “2” again and decided I could give myself another rule of the die. After all, 3 a day are permitted. My next roll of the die yielded a “3”.

This beautiful package contained two tea samples and I’ve only had one at this point. I just finished my first infusion of this oolong. When I opened the package from “RABS” I got very excited at the word “charcoal.” For me “charcoal” is one of those magical words like unicorn and rainbow and cat and miracle and antidisestablishmentarianism. It’s a word that make my heart leap up, as Wordsworth would put it.

And this tea is worthy of leaping hearts! I have had only one infusion and hope that there are more. Before I started to write this review, I went to the web site of Life in Teacup to place a full-blown order. That in itself should tell you, reader, how much I was enjoying this tea. (Note: They are on holiday until August 1st).

The “charcoal” does not produce a deeply smoky tea, but it does produce what I would call a very “savory” tea which intensifies and focuses fruit and flower and nut aromas. This tea offers an intoxicating dance of flavor. The “charcoal” must refer to the way of toasting the leaf or preparing the leaf. There isn’t much real smokiness in evidence. The play of flavors is very delightful. It’s as if I were sitting at the New York City Ballet watching a quick succession of soloists sequeing their dances precisely: first there is a floral: lavender or lilac in sensation followed by a nice earthy nut which gives way to a pluot (plum/apricot) or a peapear (peach/pear) duet or fruits.

This is one of those teas, similar to Dawn by “The Simple Leaf” that seems to have an outrageously wonderful assemblage of natural flavors which mix and mingle on the palate with the precision of trained performers. It’s wonderful! And I am off to do another infusion.

Rabs, I cannot tell you how spectacularly you have delighted me and thrilled my palate. The Geek Day prize has been a smashing hit. It’s sensual impact is incredible: the visual presentation, the aromas, the tastes of the teas, the heart and soul and spirit that went into the selection; along with the playfulness and the randomness. What you have done is true “performance art”.

Resteeps 2 and 3: Strong, fresh, vigorous. Delightful as the first time. I already know what to anticipate so a bit of the “WOW” factor is down, but I would not change my rating at all. I am going to steep number 4 for 4 minutes.

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 45 sec

Sounds neat, but what NUMBER was it? Inquiring voyeuristic minds want to know!


It was a number “3”. I just edited the post to add that. I can’t believe I forgot!


ooo what fun!


I am absolutely blown away by this note. Doulton: the pleasure is so mine!

I must admit that I was unable to check Steepster all day at work, but did manage to take a peek and glance at Cait’s first Geek notes and I got all teary eyed.

Now that I’m home I decided to practice some self control and start at the bottom of my dashboard and work my way up to the newer posts. This post actually got the full-out waterworks going. I had felt so intimidated to send Doulton teas and I really wanted her to enjoy at least one or two. This is beyond all my hopes and I have tears of joy. Thank you too, Doulton!

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1719 tasting notes

Having this one today. It reminds me a lot of Heritage Honey Oolong from Mountain Tea. That one is from Taiwan. This is Fujian. Very nice cup. I was expecting heavy smoke or roasted notes. Nope. It is fresh and fruity with hints of osmanthus, ginger, and cinnamon, all wrapped in nuts and orchids.

Boiling 1 min, 0 sec

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1908 tasting notes

I’d love to try steeping this tea gong-fu style one of these days but since I don’t have a scale sensitive enough to weight out 5 grams nor an appropriate teapot/gaiwan, this time I had to do my usual method of 1 teaspoon in my strainer mug. I did follow the directions that recommended a quick initial rinse and short, high temperature infusions.

I have a soft spot for Tie Guan Yins and in my opinion when they’re good they’re really good.

This is a really good oolong.

It starts off sweet and floral before changing into a richer roasted or baked flavour with some nice fruity notes. I’m not tasting the smoke that other people seem to be, or maybe I’m just interpreting it differently, but given how good this tea is I’m not fussed. It has good staying power too – I did three infusions and could have done more if it wasn’t getting so late. It’s quite good at keep its flavour, though I noticed that the second steep was a bit more floral and the third one was a bit more fruity.

A+ for this one.

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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314 tasting notes

Lushly, verdant, toasty…faintly floral aroma. At first sip, the taste is mildly green, “humid” and smoky—like steamed and roasted banana leaves. Pretty typical of the oolongs I’ve tried in the past.

Fresh gardenias push forward, upon further sips. Faint essence of buttery vegetables in the background. A delicious, savory “grilled” aroma prevails throughout. Reminds me of grilled eggplants brushed with olive oil. On a table redolent with fresh jasmine and gardenias!

I’m actually getting pretty hungry while drinking this—I’m finding myself craving some eggplant parmagiana, right now. Finished off with some steamed sticky rice topped with mango and drenched with coconut milk…served on a banana leaf.

Yummy tea. Rumbling tummy.

Off to make some lunch!! :)

Boiling 5 min, 30 sec

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367 tasting notes

This tea’s note is gonna have to jump the line in front of my Shakespeare one. Oh, what a joyous tea-drinking day! The Shakespeare tea (to be named later) was a revelation. This tea (I’m not even done with the first infustion) had me doing this (the PG tips intro for those who haven’t seen it — I’d be the monkey):

I’ll probaby do some editing on this note later to add info on the further steeping times and give it a rating. I was planning on having a lazy tea/book day and then I got a call to do an interview for a temporary summer library gig to help me get more hours/$. So I didn’t really do anything special with this tea. I plopped the whole packet into my large teapot (I know — sorry fellow oolong lovers, but I needed an oolong STAT and propriety flew out the window), but I did take 20 seconds to rinse the tea.

The smell was like a whammy to my scent memory (both the dry and infused tea). There’s something in my childhood it evokes. I think that I’ve narrowed it down to the church potlucks my family used to go to. They were held in a basement (sorta creepy but cool at the same time), and there was always a section of hot vegetable dishes. That’s this smell mixed with something else. I keep thinking that the something else has to do with early elementary school. I think that it may be the smell of the little boxes I used to keep my pencils, scissors and crayons in (like a cigar-box, but for school supplies). Weird, but true. If I hadn’t had oolong before, then it’d probably scare me off. But sweet baby jeebus on a pogostick: sip one and I was floored. This is oolong joy in my mouth! It’s got depth, a sweetness, a floralness, just yummy oolonginess! TG

ETA: getting ready for the 10th large cup infusion. This is ridiculous (but in a good way). I’ve been drinking this tea since around noon and it’s almost 10 hours later and it’s still pretty dang good. The flavor has definitely mellowed, but I love the sweetness that remains. ::sigh:: I love you tea!

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

When I saw that video, the first thing I thought was “That is what Rabs means by TG!” Lol, too funny.


Someone else pointed me to that video (perhaps Feisty or Jamie) in one of the selects after s/he saw my TG. I laughed until I cried. I’ve said “nerdgasm” for years and when I got into tea and had my first excellent cup that’s when I decided that my highest praise would be TG :D

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1794 tasting notes

This is the third sample I got with the earliest green tea of 2010. And this is the end of the sample. It seemed appropriate to have it today because I’m in that oolong frame of mind (and now I’m going to have Billy Joel in my head for the rest of the day, unfortunately).

I have to admit to a bone-headed mistake the first time I tasted this. I was working at home and in a rush to get a cup ready before my next phone call, so I misread the package; I had it in my head that this was a green tea for some reason and I completely screwed up the steeping. Now I find that I don’t have enough tea left to steep a full cup. Under these circumstances, I don’t feel comfortable doing a rate-by-numbers on this one.

I will say, however, that having just come off of tasting another oolong that was essentially “meh”, this has a lot going on. Even with less than perfect brewing conditions both times I steeped this, its delicious, roasty flavor came through. There’s a white wine-like fruitiness in addition to the toasty flavor. And I want to say there’s something that’s an almost coffee-like note as well. That might be a hint of the smokiness Cait mentioned (but since I had Samovar’s Russian Blend earlier today my smoky radar may be a bit jammed right now for anything subtle).

I’d like to try this again, as I expect there’s a lot more to discover here.

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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59 tasting notes

After a warmup infusion (95C, immediately drain water after filling small (~100ml) pot), first infusion used 92C water for 15 sec. It has a nice golden color, and a delicious roasted flavor that almost reminds me of a houjicha. It’s fairly appetizing. Brewed the second infusion the same way. All the flavor from the first infusion is still there, nearly identical to the previous cup. Third infusion, still the same, but maybe with a slightly less roasted aftertaste. I enjoyed this!

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec

Only 15 seconds? Must be some seriously strong stuff!

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