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200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 15 sec 6 g 10 oz / 290 ml

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1346 Tasting Notes

35 tasting notes

So over the last week I’ve been telling myself I need a thick-walled gaiwan for brewing high-temperature teas like shou. Basically the theory is that thick-walled gaiwans retain heat better on longer steeps, making later steeps more flavorful. Anyway, I don’t have the money to buy teaware at the moment so I decided to make my own.

May I introduce you to…the double-boiler gaiwan!

Yeah, so I happen to have two of the same gaiwan cups (the lid broke on my first one), and decided to try filling the lower one with boiling-ass water and steeping the top one with equally hot water. So does it work? Yes! Not only is the gaiwan sizzling hot to the touch, but the tea inside (2011 Hui Run from Yunnan Sourcing) is much richer and more intense in later infusions. Maybe I should switch my major to engineering…


Brilliant. I’d find every way to burn the hell outta my fingers doing that though haha


Ha yeah, I definitely singed my fingertips a little. The goal is no fingerprints by age 30

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681 tasting notes

Backlog from April 21st:

Pineapple Kona Pop / Raspberry Pineapple Luau
from Teavana

I mixed these two together this morning for something different, but it didn’t really create anything spectacular. In fact, it’s pretty tasteless. I’m sure it’s partly due to my teas being older, but it’s really just not good. There is a vague fruitiness but it mostly tastes dusty and bland. The color is a deep berry red which I’m assuming is from the hibiscus which I can also taste. Not impressed.

Flavors: Dust, Fruity, Hibiscus

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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230 tasting notes

Well, today I’ve finally had a moment to sit and drink tea; to contemplate my life. The last couple of weeks of college are nearly complete (4 classes left until I complete my Education major, and then can continue onward for another year, to become a certified middle-grades History/English teacher!), my wife’s car is on the verge of falling apart, we’re waiting for our caseworker to get a hold of us to set a date for the home study, and we’re eager to have our children out of the terrible foster system—and into a loving home—where Mom & Dad will give them the best that we can give them….

Okay, that was sentimental….

Anyway, I’m currently drinking my third cup of Liquid Proust’s ‘A Dark Kitchen Sink.’ As of late, I’ve been wanting to eat everything candy and/or ice cream. However, I need to resist the temptation, and just pluck from the cupboard, these types of tea that I purposely have for these stressed induced situations. Fortunately, this was in there—and what a treat! If I were to close my eyes at this moment, I could say that you’ve watered ice cream down (particularly a Turtle sundae) by a whole lot, and reduced it to a simple drink; to which I’d say,

“My, oh my, what a fine treat! Is this hot watered down ice cream?”

Then I’d hear, “No you dope, it’s simply the best damn dessert tea that you’ve ever had.”

Alright, there’s a huge nutty flavor which comes from the whole pecans within the tea. There is definitely a nice black tea flavor after the third steep that jumps out a little (from the description, I’m assuming that’s from the Golden Pu-erh needles); which gives it the sweet cocoa note. The honey gives it a nice caramel note, too. I mean, I could list the ingredients that I try, but when I go about reviewing a tea that way, I get sidetracked, and then my review turns to mush.

I will just say that this is GREAT, remarkable, extraordinary, amazing, astonishing, astounding, sensational, stunning, incredible, and unbelievable! Buy it. Try it! Drink it! It’s liquid ice cream! What could be better?

P.S. Today’s tea soundtrack comes from the Japanese instrumental rock band, MONO, “Hymn to the Immortal Wind.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbnhjsDI_ho




Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Cocoa, Honey, Pecan, Vanilla

Daylon R Thomas

It’s one of the best Pu-ERh blends I’ve had. Funny enough, I’m a social studies education major…

S.G. Sanders

Any particular era of history that you enjoy the most?

Liquid Proust

Oh hey, I have a MCE bacholers certified to teach SS and LA :)

S.G. Sanders

Well, I guess there are plenty of us out there in the world, wanting to teach! Such interesting subjects, too.:)


one of the many best reviews i’ve ever seen

Daylon R Thomas

Ancient Egypt. My degree was in anthropology, but I switched ‘cause I like teaching more. I probably will pursue a Master’s or a PhD eventually, but with my type 1 diabetes, I need good insurance to cover my pump supplies.

Daylon R Thomas

I also really like teaching philosophy and psychology…which I do as a tutor in a International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge class.

S.G. Sanders

That is awesome! I’m a big Civil War buff & 19th century literature geek. I want to pursue a Master’s in Literature and/or Counseling.

S.G. Sanders

Egypt is pretty cool stuff, though. I just taught my kids about mummys the other day.


Can’t wait to hear good news about the kiddos! They are blessed that you much about them!

S.G. Sanders

@gmathis, We are preparing the house for everything. We’ve already got the bedroom ready, finally have (as of yesterday) two reliable family-sized cars, and have bought them small gifts for when they arrive! We’re so excited; it’s quite emotional for the both of us. Unfortunately, the county is behind by 5-6 weeks on home studies, so that is frustrating. Thank you for the kind words :)


That you care so much about them! (Glad you read between the typos.) Keep us posted!

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560 tasting notes

I received a mystery sample! All I know for sure about it is that it’s by Yuuki-cha. My best guess from the appearance was that it was a green tea, so I steeped accordingly. I think I guessed right. The brew is quite dark, but definitely not dark enough for a black tea. To me this tastes like hojicha, though the dry leaves didn’t look anything like the hojicha I’ve tried before. It may also be some sort of oolong I haven’t encountered before, but hojicha is my best guess.

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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361 tasting notes

A tea from the Puerh TTB labeled “2016 Xigui Caicheng.” I think Xigui is the factory, not 100% sure though. The leaf for this one was very green. Smelled of straw and grass when dry. After a rinse, I got a slight briney note on the nose as well. Bitterness is the main thing I noticed with this one for the first 5 or so steeps – a rather unpleasant and astringent bitterness. Also detected nutty and straw notes – more like I had oversteeped a green tea. That harsh astringency did start to fade around steep number 6, after which I got around 6 more steepings with a basic sweet hay characteristic and slightly thick texture. Wouldn’t consider this tea a winner, though part of that could be that I brutalized it a little bit with boiling water. I’m guessing it would be more tasty with a few years’ age on it to cut that bitterness.

Rating: 73/100


I think Xigui is a region or mountain. There was also a “Bulang Caicheng” and I think one other in the box so I think Caicheng must be the vendor/factory. Maybe whoever added it to the box can shed some light


Oh, right I think I took some of the other Caicheng one too. Duh. I think it was Liquid Proust who put em in there.

Liquid Proust

Should have been a xigui and a bingdao in there. It’s the factory name as you suggest.

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53 tasting notes

Enjoying some ripe pu-erh this morning. Not sure really what kind or where it is from since it was a gift. It has a wonderful deep earthy taste and aroma though.

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206 tasting notes

EDIT: I served this at our book club last night and most everyone agreed. Andrew nailed this tea in regards to capturing the feel of the book. Bravo, Andrew.

Andrew (LiquidProust) had offered to make a custom blend for my tea book club to coincide with the book House of Leaves. I basically told him that I need/want something that is dark, full of depth, and a bit confusing. After some messaging back and forth, he came up with this concoction: a Lui An tea from the 1990s, a ripe puerh from 2006, a 2016 Dianhong black tea, a 2015 Bang Dong, Black tea, a 2014 Shui Xian Wuyi roasted oolong, and Mugwort.

Whew! The blend itself looks fascinating. Despite there being a lot of dark leaves mixed together, it certainly looks like there is a lot going on if you know what you are looking at/for.

I decided to give this two quick 3 second rinses. The smell off of the wet leaves had me a bit worried. It smelled… old and bitter. The old part was okay as I enjoy the sort of old pages of a book smell. It was the bitter that concerned me. Not like an astringent bitter… more like a medicinal green bitter. Maybe that is the Mugwort? Either way, I was concerned.

After the two rinses, I steeped for 15 seconds. The liquor itself doesn’t have much, if any, of the bitter smell. It brewed up a golden amber color not unlike a thick, locally produced honey. The flavor here is very smooth. It does have a tinge of that green, raw plant flavor on the back end put it is not overpowering. I, again, suspect that to be the Mugwort. Maybe Andrew can weigh in here and give his thoughts. The rest of the flavors, as I said, are very smooth. I would say it is a perfect combination of a puerh and black tea flavor. Kind of like drinking an antique book.

After this first steep, I am impressed. This is a tea that, on the surface, could be intimidating if just judging by the ingredients. But the flavor on this first steep lends itself to being very drinkable and approachable even if it is a bit complex and layered (which is what I had requested!)

Second steep (20 seconds) and holy shit. That bitter type of smell that I couldn’t place? I’ve found it. It smells like that earthiness that you associate with a fresh plucked and cut beet. Like a light bulb going off, it hit me. That is exactly the smell of the wet leaves. And that taste still translates into the after taste a bit. The color of the liquor is slightly darker, a cinnamon brown color. Yeah… this is still good. It has such a smoothness to it. I would say that, if you can get over the slight earthy beetness on the aftertaste, this is much more approachable for newbies than just a regular ripe puerh. It isn’t as muddy or heavy. It is a bit lighter, cleaner, and smooth.

Andrew… you could totally blend this and market it as something like “Dream Leaves” or “House of Dreams” or “Leaves of Dreams.” I don’t know… spit balling here. But, really, this is good. And, dare I say it, I’m feeling a bit of a tingly head buzz just two steeps in?? Maybe I’m inhaling too much of the incense I have burning but I am getting something going on.

3rd steep, 25 seconds. Beet-ness is still with us in the wet leaves. Let me just say here that somehow, for some reason, the song “House of the Rising Sun” is a damn near perfect song to go along with this tea. It came on Pandora and it just fits. The color remains the same here. The flavor is mostly similar but a little more beet flavor on the end. But not bad at all. And seriously, I feel ridiculously giggly. I don’t remember a tea doing this to me. I almost feel high… not that I know what that feels like or anything… But this tea is definitely having an affect on me.

4th steep, 30 seconds. Color holds. Cinnamon brown. Interestingly enough, that beet like flavor is slowly becoming the more dominating flavor. This makes me question if it is the mugwort at all. Having never had Liu An tea, perhaps the flavor is coming from that tea instead of the mugwort. I’m starting to assume this simply because I would expect the flavors the the fermented teas to outlast that of the mugwort. Perhaps I am wrong. Again, someone with more knowledge on these two leaves can lend some clarity.

5th steep, 45 seconds. During this steep, I smelled the water and leaves and I finally got a hint of a whiff of a classic ripe puerh smell. Also, because researching things tends to be a love of mine, I went on a search to see if I could find a taste description of Liu An tea. My search returned a lot of descriptions using words like medicinal and earthy. That would seem to fit in with my earthy beet description. So, maybe that solves it! The earthy beetness could very well be the Liu An. Yeah… still digging this tea and the impact it is having.

6th steep, 1 min. So, I decided to switch up my music selection from random to a more relaxing nature/spa sounds. Annnnddd now I just want to lie down and pass out. My brain and my body are trying to tell me, “It’s fine. Just lie down and close your eyes for a second.” Which, I would, but I have to pick my son up from school in about 45 minutes so… that won’t work. In the meantime, I’m in a consistent sweet spot with this tea. Color and flavors have hit a constant at this point. I am happy.

7th steep, 1 min 30 seconds. Andrew, dude, what have you done to me!? Haha this is some light headed, get lost in the clouds, stuff here. I’d give you a hug right now if I could. Seriously, I have never had a tea make me feel like this stuff here. I wish I could say that I am over exaggerating but… my head is tingly and soft, my body is super relaxed. I had a banana and oatmeal square for breakfast so I don’t think I can blame it on that haha. Oh, right. The tea is still good as well. It is getting slightly thinner on the after taste but it is still drinkable.

I would love to keep this up but the time has come to go and get my son. But yeah… Home. Run. Thanks Andrew.

Session picture: https://www.instagram.com/p/BLv3kr2BixY/

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML


Hoping this becomes available


I would buy gobs of this. I’m not sure how much a gob is but I’d buy that amount of it.

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288 tasting notes

After reading Liquid Proust’s review of the YQH Bulang a few days ago, I decided to try it myself. This was my second session, and the first try was underwhelming (which is pretty much what he said). During the 1st steep, I got a bright idea and pulled out a 2006 6FTM Bulang sample from Tea Urchin to do a side-by-side tasting. These are my notes.

The dry leaf was what you would expect: the YQH had beautiful full leaves that came apart easily and the 6FTM was tightly compressed. The small bits and powder probably are more inherent in the tea than due to my technique in breaking off my sample. First steep (10 s): surprise: the older tea has significantly lighter color than the younger tea. Second surprise: They tasted quite similar; the YQH had more complexity but wasn’t as potent as the 6FTM.

Second steeps (10 s): The colors are now very similar. The initial darkness in the 6FTM is probably due to the powder that’s now in my strainer. Both teas have that smoked meat aroma I associate with Bulang. The YQH is stronger. The YQH also has more flavor. The 6FTM seems just a bit washed out after I tried the YQH. On an absolute basis, the 6FTM is fairly full in the mouth, has good flavor and a bit of complexity. I liked it well enough to buy another sample but not a cake (this is about my 5th session). When I go the the YQH, though, it is just a bit more powerful, has bigger mouth-feel, and is more complex. Kind of like that kid in school who did everything just a little bit better than you did. It’s a bit hard to judge the finish when you go back and forth, but the 6FTM seemed to have a very good finish. After waiting a couple of minutes to let it fade (though it was still pretty good after 2 minutes) I finished the slightly cool YQH. The taste had opened up to be a bit stronger than I remembered, and was showing some stone fruit at the finish. There is a slight astringency I didn’t notice in the 6FTM but otherwise the finishes are comparable, though the YQH seemed to last longer, though of course it is building upon the 6FTM finish.

3rd steep (20 s): This is usually my best steep. I waited 10 minutes for the finish to fade. Very similar visually. Excellent nose on the YQH; less on the 6FTM, though it is quite good on an absolute basis. I like the 6FTM a lot; it is showing some sweetness and the smokiness is less obvious. The taste glides gently into a smooth, pleasant, finish. The finish is slightly astringent, but not really bitter. The YQH is also less smoky, but I’m having a harder time finding the flavor: It is what wine drinkers call “closed-in,” which means you can sense flavor but it’s hiding. When I aerate the tea in my mouth, it shows a slightly vegetative flavor. For this round, I’m favoring the 6FTM slightly, just because it is more approachable. I’m noticing a big, astringent finish that I suspect is due to the combined effect of the two teas. Hard to separate things at this point. The qi is also starting to affect my judgement. Time for another break.

4th (30 s): 6FTM is really nice. Sweet and smooth with a bit of fruit. Fruit especially obvious in the finish. Some astringency. Probably wants even more age. The YQH is very similar to the 6FTM at this point. Slightly stronger, and more astringent. I think most of the finish is coming from the YQH, but it’s impossible to separate the effects, when the finish lasts for 10 minutes and I have 30 sec between tastes. The flavor of the YQH is a bit lighter, with citrus elements, while the 6FTM is more straightforward. I still have a slight preference for the YQH, but it IS slight.

Steeps 5-8: This is where I abandon myself to a tea-drunk to see which tea lasts longer. The 6FTM grew more bitter in later steeps, while the YQH just faded away gracefully.

Bottom line: the YQH is the better tea, but not by a wide margin. The 6FTM is definitely the better value.

200 °F / 93 °C 2 g 2 OZ / 59 ML

Interesting notes. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these two Bulangs.

Dr Jim

It was fun. I think I’ll be doing more of these side-by-sides.

Liquid Proust

Would you say it isn’t the best to draw thoughts on YQH bases on this specific cake? I know I have a few more samples, but as this was my only one I have tried it was like… ’eh

Dr Jim

I’ve tasted several now (and bought 1.25 cakes) and my overall impression is that they are consistently good, but not thrilling in the way that some of the W2T teas excite me. I’m sorry for all the wine analogies, but these are kind of like aged Bordeaux, which is just good drinking but doesn’t excite the way a 3-year-old California wine might.


@LiquidProust this is a highly atypical one as far as YQH is concerned. 85% of their tea is Mengla County from 2004-2007. Try one of those and it should be far more indicative.


I think the difference in age 5 years I think can make a difference. In another 5 years the YQH will be more mature and have a fuller experience.


And a completely different terroir. Bulang vs. greater Yiwu area.


I agree. I think there is good potential in the YQH over the years to come.


Well written analysis and very helpful.

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100 tasting notes

When I found out I wouldn’t be able to attend the Midwest Tea Festival I decided to look into some of the vendors from last year that I would be missing. I decided to order samples first from Singe Origin Teas because I’ve seen good things (plus they have a chesnut tea, which I needed). I ended up “throwing in” the Waverly Tea Estate tea grown in Florida because 1) I’m a plant person and I’ve always wanted to grow my own tea and 2) it would be nice to have premium tea here in the US. I figured I have spent more on Kickstarters that didn’t pan out so I might as well try this.


My tea was picked 5 days ago, and I got my 6 oz in the mail yesterday. I didn’t give any parameters other than “green” so I got a medium rolled and medium pan fried green. I wasn’t sure what to expect and went really conservative for my first brewing temp since I thought it could be a super bitter spring green.

1st steep: 4 grams, 8 oz water, 100 F, 1.5 min infusion

The tea looked really dark in the package so I almost was going to treat it like a toasted tea, but when I got it out I noticed it was actually dark green and had a really fresh green smell like a sencha so I was afraid of going too high with the temp. It brewed a light green gold color and started to smell a little toasty. It ended up having a super silky mouthfeel and tasted sort of light and buttery.

2nd steep: 8 oz water, 125 F, 1.5 min infusion

The first seemed a bit light so I decided to up the temp for this one. It brewed to more of a green color. There was a bit of a butteryness still there but now with more vegetal spinach notes. The toasty notes are now coming out and it’s like a cross between a summer dragonwell and a lightly toasted oolong.

2nd steep: 8 oz water, 125 F, 1.5 min infusion

I kept the brewing parameters the same here. It was very much like the second steep but now with a slightly dry finish.

4th steep: 8 oz water, 160 F, 1.5 min infusion

Whoops, I wanted to up the temperature a bit, but didn’t mean to go this high. I honestly I thought I ruined it. It turned a dark gold color and tasted like a smooth hojicha or even a darkly toasted barley tea, it was a little bizarre. I had a bit more of the dryness at the end.

5th steep: 8 oz water, 140 F, 1.5 min infusion

I just had to find out. It’s gold with a green undertone. It’s still very full flavored and now has a buttery mouth-coating ending followed by a fuzzy dryness.

Assesment: An aromatic, full flavored, chimera of a tea. Not quite like anything I’ve had before, and really resilient to my playing around with brewing parameters. I’ll use up the remainder in a gaiwan session once I have the time. Now that I’m not afraid of getting a super bitter cup I’ll probably start with a temp of at least 140-150.

140 °F / 60 °C 1 min, 30 sec 4 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

American grown tea. I read the link; this is really exciting!


Single Origin/Waverly is just an awesome company to deal with. And supporting US grown tea is a plus. I hope his plants grow fast!!! :)

Gooseberry Spoon

It’s certainly got a lot of promise!

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41 tasting notes

2016 Sheng Olympics

As part of the #2016ShengOlympics organized by LiquidProust, I decided to do a side-by-side tasting of all three Verdant “old tree” shengs. I figured with 50ml gaiwans it should not be overwhelming (I was not entirely correct; it’s still a lot of tea!)

Here’s the teas before the start of the session:

And here’s the aftermath showing the most intact and largest leaves I could find:

I took each tea through 11 steeps over several hours in round-robin fashion using 3.5 grams of leaf in each 50ml gaiwan with 205F (+/-2F) bottled spring water heated in a clay boiler. I let the tea guide my steep times, ending up with 10/10/10/15/20/30/40/60/90/120/300 seconds for each one.

All of the teas were quite mellow with mild aromatics and easy on my stomach. And the energy imparted was moderate; I never felt too wired.


300 Year Tree: Light yellow liquor. Aromas of pine in the first half of the session, turning tart and fruity in the latter half. Medium bodied, slightly oily mouthfeel. The flavor started fruity, turned to sweet-tart citrus with slight spice in later steeps. Some faint astringency in the beginning and again near the end when I pushed the steep times. Overall a decent mild young sheng.

1000 Year Tree: Medium yellow liquor. Aromas of pine in the first half, turning to old books, then spicy-tart near the end. Medium bodied, fairly oily mouthfeel and a soothing feeling coating the throat in most steeps. The flavor was primarily sweet-tart with slight spice and pine notes appearing at times, and citrus and herbs arising in the later half. Faintly astringent in the longer steeps. I liked this one just a little better than the 300 Year, mostly because of the feeling in my throat.

1800 Year Tree: Medium-dark yellow liquor (but not quite amber). Aromas were primarily tart, sweet, faint pine, woody, turning fruity sweet in the long steeps. Medium bodied, slightly oily mouthfeel. Flavors started as a sweet-tart balance with faint pine, citrus emerging in the mid-steeps, some herbal notes, ending with light sweetness and slight pepper. No astringency. This one edged out the other two in terms of flavor, but just barely. My notes repeatedly show “a mellow, smooth cup”.

Any one of these would be a good beginner’s sheng since they were all quite mild and well behaved. In truth I cannot pick a winner since they were all so similar. I had to really focus to pick out the differences. Also I did notice some slight camphor mid-session, but since that can carry over in the mouth from one tea to the next I could not attribute it to any one tea.

So what did I learn after drinking about a liter and a half of tea in one night?

(1) When I closed my eyes I felt I was swooping around the cosmos with “Rocket Man” playing in my head.

(2) Drinking this much tea leads to truly epic pee sessions. (Wife: “Did someone leave the water running?” Me: “Go back to sleep dear”).

(3) A few of my Steepster friends keep weird hours on Instagram as well.

(edited to add “2016 Sheng Olympics” at the top)


Thanks for the review! I don’t think my palate is quite evolved enough to pick out such subtle differences between the teas, but I will try. When I tried their regular non-old tree sheng, “beginner’s sheng” was my take on that one as well.


That sounds like good news for me. I like mild shengs. I haven’t got my Sheng Olympics package yet but enjoying reading the reviews everyone has started leaving.


Yay, thanks for doing the side-by-side taste test. :)


Thanks! It was an interesting and fun experience. I’ve never tried more than two teas side-by-side, and after this I think three at once is about my limit.

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