171 Tasting Notes

drank Hong Jing Luo by thepuriTea
171 tasting notes

Experience buying from The Puritea: Overall, positive (I hope to write a review of them, later).

Date of Purchase: Bought in the end of November, 2011; brewed up about three months later.

Packaging: Sample came in a simple silver bag, sealed, with a simple label.

Appearance and Aroma of dry leaf: Beautiful tightly curled, light-and-dark-brown chick-pea-sized tea ‘balls’; rich quality Yunnan Red tea aroma: sweet and carmel-y.

Brewing guidelines: Glass Bodum pot, leaf free to roam (I normally steep Chinese Red tea in one of our ceramic pots, but I wanted to watch the leaves unfold as they steeped); stevia added; used my standard Chinese Red tea steeping times and temperatures; measured about 3.5 tsp of dry tea; used just under four cups of water.

Color and Aroma of tea liquor: What I judge to be standard Yunnan red tea color and aroma: dark and sweet.

Flavor of tea liquor: Good flavor up through four steepings. I tried a fifth with much less water, and was able to coax a little flavor from it.

Appearance and Aroma of wet leaf: Beautiful full leaves and buds (almost no pieces); roasted and malty aroma.

Value: Very expensive for a sample ($3 for a quarter-ounce), still pricy at the four oz. price ($19), but not too bad at the eight oz. price ($32). I think there are a few places you could get a good Chinese red like this for less (possibly Jing Tea Shop, or Tea Trekker).

Overall: I was in the mood for a Chinese red to have during dinner, so I spontaneously brewed up this sample. My wife and I both enjoyed it’s rich, sweet, carmel-y flavor. I enjoyed watching the little ‘balls’ unfold over each steeping. I was disappointed that there seemed to be only a quarter ounce in this sample, but overall this was a tea worth drinking. Still, I would look elsewhere before buying this tea again.

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Backlogging, and based on my memory

Experience buying from Ovation Teas: Overall, positive. < more details later >

Date of Purchase: Summer 2011, in response to a promotion on Steepster.

Appearance and Aroma of dry leaf: a little odd smelling, but sweet and fruity; I don’t think the flavors I chose quite go together (see Overall for the ingredients). It has these largish, dark, odd shaped nodules that I believe are the nomi fruit, bits of what I believe are dried pear, and stevia leaves (which must be hiding in there somewhere) mixed in with the green tea leaves; I like that it’s mostly comprised of green tea leaves.

Brewing guidelines: Glass Bodum pot with metal infuser/plunger; sometimes I forget there are stevia leaves in the tea and still add my stevia extract (doooooh-a! how exactly do you spell the sound Bart Simpson’s dad makes when he goofs up, anyway?), my standard Chinese-green tea steeping times and temperatures.

Flavor of tea liquor: Unusual, but good! It’s sweet and strangely fruity. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this particular mixture to anyone else, but I am glad I tried it (I am certainly no expert when it comes to blending tea).

Blends well with: I have used this successfully to help flavor a number of my unflavored greens.

Value: Through a promotion Ovation Teas was running, I got four ounces of this for only the cost of shipping. Thank you Ovation teas! It was worth it!! Otherwise, I think a custom blended tea is about $13 for 4 ounces (depending on the base tea you choose).

Overall: My custom green tea blend included nomi fruit, diced pears, and stevia leaves with strawberry flavoring (in an attempt to keep it simple I choose only four ingredients, but Ovation allows you to choose up to six). I normally use my flavored greens to enhance the flavor of the later steepings of my unflavored greens, but I like this tea enough that I sometimes brew this one up in the evenings by itself. It certainly is fun getting to choose what you put to help flavor the base tea. I don’t know if I would pay full price for a different blended tea of my choice, but I will keep it in mind (I don’t have much confidence in my ability to pick the best combination). It certainly is a great idea of those of us who want something different and don’t have access to all of those wonderful and different flavoring ingredients!

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Experience buying from Ovation Teas: Overall, positive. < more details later >

Date of Purchase: Summer 2011, in response to a promotion on Steepster.

Appearance and aroma of dry leaf: attractive looking: lots of light-brown colored bits of flowers and full cardamon seeds mixed in with the darker colored tea leaves and cacao nibs; smells spicy, with chocolate overtones.

Brewing guidelines: Ceramic sixteen-oz cup and lid, tea in metal basket strainer; heated unsweetened soy milk added before steeping; stevia added; my standard black tea steeping times and temperatures (see my profile for details).

Blends well with: I blended this successfully with the Laoshan Chai and with the Java OP I have.

Value: Not bad, especially when you buy it by the pound (I think it is ~ $30/pound).

Overall: I am not a big chai drinker, but my wife is, and we both like this chocolate flavored chai; the chocolate notes this tea brings compliments the traditional chai flavor. For some reason some chai’s give me a dry mouth feeling that I don’t really care for (as with this one). Still, this is a tea my wife drinks often, and sometimes I join her.

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It has been taking me entirely too long to do my reviews, so from now on I plan to only mention those things that are noteworthy; why did it take me this long to finally come to this decision?! I don’t know! I admit I judge I’m sometimes a little slow on the uptake. : – }

Experience buying from Seven Cups http://steepster.com/places/2824-seven-cups-online-tucson-arizona

Date of Purchase/Frequency of drinking: I bought this in spring 2011 and have been drinking it off-and-on since then.

Aroma of dry leaf: unbelievably strong smell of smoke!

Brewing guidelines: Ceramic six-cup teapot, with large metallic tea-ball; stevia added; I always use my standard black tea guidelines with this tea.

Aroma of tea liquor: unbelievable smell: I absolutely love that smoky aroma!

Flavor of tea liquor: Incredible! It makes me think of times when I have sat around a campfire on a cold evening while enjoying a warm beverage with friends!

Aroma of wet leaf: Smoky, wonderful!

Blends well with: I would think it wouldn’t take much of this to add a little smoky flavor to any tea.

Value: $4.31 / 50 grams (I think it was 25% off). Not a bad price for the quality (considering it wasn’t a ‘fresh’ tea).

Overall: When I read in Heiss and Heiss’s Tea Enthusiast’s handbook that Lapsang Souchong is a ‘love it or hate it tea ’ I just had to try it. And, fitting with what they said, this tea absolutely blew me away when I first tried it (astonishingly enough, even my wife liked it initially, but she has sense changed her mind). I will never forget that drinking this tea gives me a sense of sitting around a campfire, which still amazes me, as I truly enjoy recalling that image every time I drink it. I have been drinking this tea here-and-there since I bought it, and I spontaneously decided to brew up the last of it today (which inspired me to finally write this review). I am sad that it’s gone (but the reality is it’s time to make room for new teas, although this one’s going to be hard to replace). A minor note: when drinking the first steeping after it sat and cooled quite a bit I noticed that I don’t like the taste as much as when it hot (unlike some teas which can be just as good). Still, I really enjoy both the taste and the aroma of this tea. I recently purchased a Lapsang from Culinary Teas, so I’ll have to see how good that one is. I think Lapsang Souchong is a tea I have to have in my cupboard at all times (it may even have to be Seven Cups Strong Smoke version, we’ll see). I can believe that this is a love it or hate it tea, and I am definitely in the ‘love it’ camp (of course, with the ones sitting around that campfire!). I think of the legend many years ago when some oppressive overlord decided to pay a visit to a tea plantation in China. This visit forced the tea farmers to inadvertently hide their unprocessed tea leaf stash in a place where the leaves took on a smoky flavor. That unusual happenstance allows me to reap the benefits! Thank you to all of the people and the unusual circumstances who/which made this wonderful smokey tea possible!

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Experience buying from @Ashley: I bought this tea from Ashley when she was selling all of her tea. I received the tea quickly through the mail and my package was filled with many surprises. Thank you Ashley!

Packaging: 52Teas packaging is very professional: the iced tea comes loose in a small, sturdy brown paper almost-envelope-like looking package, with the label on the front.

Appearance and aroma of dry leaf: Very fine tea leaves, with a strong smell, of Papaya!

Brewing guidelines: I used a fine mesh Teavana metal basket strainer inside a ceramic six-cup pot (yes, it was a little awkward in how it fit); stevia added.
…………….1st: near boiling, 3’
…………….2nd: boiling, 5’
…………….3rd: boiling, 8’

Color of tea liquor: Can’t remember for certain, but think it was an attractive dark reddish-brown color.

Flavor of tea liquor: Good! Iced, it tastes sweet and fruity. Although the last steeping was fairly weak, we still got three good steepings out of it.

Overall: Our first go around with one of Frank’s iced teas, and we liked it. I used my new metal basket strainer I just bought from Teavana, and while I like that the mesh is very fine, it was so fine it quickly got clogged up and I had to pour the water very slowly (I was hoping the fine mesh would help keep the tea in the strainer without the smaller bits sneaking out; it did it’s job, it just took f o r e v e r to pour that water). It was a little agonizing, but it’s really just a consequence of my choosing to use that particular filter for this very finely cut tea. I’ll make sure to choose a different filter next time. All that to say, I tried this tea from one of those ubiquitous cups of forgotten tea after drinking a glass of H&S passion fruit tea (which I often brew up and drink iced) and found that this Papaya tea was better tasting.

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Backlogging, and based almost entirely on relatively recent memory

Experience buying from Village Tea Company Online: Overall, positive (I hope to write a more formal review later)

Packaging: I love the packaging: very stylish looking sturdy paper cylinders, with a very tightly fitting lid. The 110 grams of tea comes in two beige colored cloth bags (almost like a bag of gold dust a prospector might keep stashed away!), and there are about 10 of those little paper teabags to put the ‘gold’ in. This is probably the most ingenious packing for tea that I have ever seen. It really makes the experience brewing it up a little more fun.

Appearance and aroma of dry leaf: Looks just like plain rooibus; but the aroma, ahh, the aroma, it is possibly my favorite smelling tea (that, and Harney’s Vanilla Comoro): it reminds me of walking into one of those climate controlled cigar rooms and taking a deep breath (I used to smoke a cigar on rare occasions, but it’s been a long time).

Brewing guidelines: Glass Bodum pot, with metal infuser/plunger; stevia added. I should probably use a pot that retains the heat better, but I love seeing the color of this tea.
……….1st: Near boiling; 2’…….Awesome!
……….2nd: Nearer boiling; 3’…Good.
……….3rd: Boiling; 5’……………Decent enough.

Color and aroma of tea liquor: a beautiful dark, rosy-red color; a wonderful vanilla smell.

Flavor of tea liquor: Awesome! It’s sweet, with strong notes of vanilla and possibly milder notes of tobacco. I can usually get three decent steeping out of this, even if it means steeping it for ten minutes for the third (I love that you can’t over-steep an herbal tea).

Blends well with: I blended it with one plain rooibus with success.

Value: Although I was fortunate enough to buy this on a promotional deal, it’s on the pricy side for a flavored rooibos at their standard price ($13.95/110 grams).

Overall: Although I am a green tea fanatic, I absolutely love this tea! I think I must really like vanilla, for I seem to love anything with vanilla in it (now that I think of it, in regards to ice cream I do prefer vanilla over chocolate). To me, in many ways, this tea smells like fresh, quality tobacco, and although I don’t smoke, I love the smell of good tobacco. I sometimes make this as a treat in the evening. This is a tea I will seriously consider buying again when I run out. It ROCKS!

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Experience buying from Harney and Sons http://steepster.com/places/2779-harney-and-sons-online-millerton-new-york

Age of leaf: Lot # 11193: puts ”production” at mid-July of 2011. I waited until today, Mid-January 2012, to open this tea (it was still in its vacuum sealed bag within the tin).

Appearance and aroma of dry leaf: similar shape and size of a standard green tea: very dark green, curly leaves, which look almost brown. Yet, it has an aroma I have never encountered before (which I really like): surprisingly sweet, and spicy, and somewhat similar to a White Monkey green tea I had recently. It is very leafy in that 1.5oz fit very snugly in their standard 4 oz tin.

Brewing guidelines: leaves free to roam in my glass Bodum pot; stevia added.
……….1st: 165; 1’………. Incredible!
……….2nd: 170; 1.5’……About as good!
……….3rd: 180; 2’………Still good.
……….4th: 185; 2.5’……..Wow, still good.
……….5th: 189; 3.5’………Not much, but some!
……….6th: 193; 5’………….Amazing. Still some flavor!

Color and aroma of tea liquor: standard clear yellowish-green color which did not seem to change much over the steepings; very mild, but somewhat sweet, aroma.

Flavor of tea liquor: < see below >

Appearance and aroma of wet leaf: Impressive looking: although there were a number of stems (and a few pieces) it was mostly comprised of whole leaves and buds; they were similar in color to the leaves of a green tea, but they had some yellow—and one or two brown—splotches on some of the leaves (I suspect this discoloration is from the yellowing process). It was fun to watch them steep. They slowly progressed from ‘hanging out’ on top on the first steeping, to ‘hanging out’ on the bottom on the sixth. Aroma was odd, almost sour after one steeping, then later, after one of the last steepings, it was almost, malty? Weird.

Value: Awesome for what this tea delivers: $5 / 1.5oz tin.

Overall: First of all, silly as it sounds, I have to apologize to the tea: it sat, unused and unloved in a dark tin, on the back shelf of my tea cupboard for months before I even opened it. Sorry, tea!

Feeling a little better now, to business.

I have had only one other yellow tea (from Tea Trekker) and my wife and I both liked it. Yellow teas are hard to find; well, maybe it’s more accurate to say that they’re aren’t very many types of them (a tea retailer will usually one have one or two, if that). They can be on the pricy side, as there is an extra step in the processing, and I think the production is generally pretty limited. I view yellow teas as the ‘creme de la creme’ of the larger category of green teas (which they kind of fall within). So, I was expecting something good from this tea right from the get-go. And, not long after opening the sealed bag and smelling the leaves I was already starting to get excited about this tea. I could tell right away it was different (I went out to the H&S website to look at their recommendations on how to brew this tea, and I saw that they describe the aroma as being similar to a Darjeeling. No wonder I like the smell of the leaves so much!). So, that’s nice, it looks and smells good, but what about taste? Well, it didn’t disappoint here at all. It was very unusual: smooth, sweet, and fruity, somewhat like an Indian black tea, as good as or better then the Tea Trekker yellow tea, and I never tasted any astringency. My wife could even tell it tasted like a black tea, and she liked it so much she was quickly asking me to brew up the second pot! The staying power of the flavor over six steepings amazed me: it had about as much flavor on the sixth as a quality green has on the forth. All that to say, this is one of the best teas I have ever had, no matter what class it’s in!

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Backlogging, and based almost entirely on my memory

Experience buying from SpecialTeas http://steepster.com/places/2931-specialteas-online-stratford-connecticut

Age of leaf: I do not know because I ordered over the phone in the beginning of 2011, and, alas, did not ask.

Appearance and aroma of dry leaf: lots of dark colored broken bits of tea, with an overwhelming smell of peaches. Dry and bakey.

Brewing guidelines: Traditional ceramic six-cup teapot, with large metallic tea-ball;
stevia added. I brewed this up with temperatures a little cooler than a black tea, and with a little shorter steeping times.

Color and aroma of tea liquor: < later >

Flavor of tea liquor: Standard floral oolong flavor such that the peach flavoring overwhelmed it(especially on the first two steepings).

Appearance of wet leaf: Clearly not a quality pluck, given that the leaves are all broken.

Value: I bought this for 75% off in their going-out-of-business sale (I think it was $10 for a two pound bag).

Overall: This was my very first exposure to an oolong tea; it’s not bad for a ‘starter oolong’, but having had a number of them since then, I now see that it really doesn’t represent anything close to what a quality oolong has to offer. I don’t know what to do with this tea. I will probably never brew it up on its own. I have considered adding it to flavor some of the more basic black teas. I don’t know. For now, I simply chalk this one up to experience. At least I do remember being excited in trying it as my very first oolong. And for the price, I can’t complain. I hope to find a home for it, sometime, as it has its qualities for those who like peach.

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Backlogging, and based almost entirely on my memory, as I have almost no notes on it

Experience buying from Seven Cups http://steepster.com/places/2824-seven-cups-online-tucson-arizona

Date of Purchase/Age of Leaf: harvest date: spring 2007; bought Spring 2011; first brewed up not long after getting it.

Appearance and aroma of dry leaf: like any standard Chinese red tea; very aromatic, almost smoky, and kinda like leather.

Brewing guidelines: Ceramic six-cup teapot, tea in large metallic tea-ball; stevia added.
I brewed this as I do any black tea (see my profile for details).

Color and aroma of tea liquor: < I can’t remember, I may update this the next time I brew this up, if I remember to, that is. >

Flavor of tea liquor: Like leather, but in a positive way (I wish I could better explain that). It has a smokiness similar to Seven Cups Lapsang, but it’s flavors are more subtle, and more complex.

Appearance of wet leaf: I remember being very impressed at the quality of the ‘leaf’, being comprised of mostly full, small-looking buds, with very few stems or broken pieces.

Value: Very pricy at full price (about $13/25grams) but I got it at 70% off (it is no longer available). Although I could not personally justify paying full price, depending on what you want in a tea—and given the fact that you could probably coax at least 5 good steepings out of it—it may even be worth it at full price (esp. as it’s organic).

Overall: This is, hands down, one the the most amazing black/red teas I have ever had (after trying at least a dozen different loose-leaf unflavored black/red teas by now). It may be the very first loose-leaf unflavored black/red teas I ever had, and it still has a special place in my black tea repertoire. The first time I steeped it I believe I steeped it seven times, and it was on the seventh that it finally gave out. I don’t have much of it but I have brewed it up here and there since I bought it. I brewed it up just last week, not long after trying Verdant’s Laoshan Northern Black, and I remember thinking, “This tea gives Verdant’s a good run for the money.” It has staying power, and it’s complex, aromatic, and unique; it’s simply amazing. It doesn’t look like they carry a keemun with this name anymore (with ‘Spring Dawn’ in the name) so this may be the last of this crop. So I’m holding on tightly to what I have.

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wow that certainly is expensive!! but it’s complex which in my books is the mark of a fantastic tea. So maybe it is worth it!


I just looked at the back of the tin I keep this tea in (where I have the price) and it says, $6.28/1.75oz. That’s the price at 70% off. That’s about $12/oz. at full price. Still, try looking at it like this: a bag of tea from my local grocery store (not on sale, not including tax) costs about $3.30/20 bags per box = 16.5 cents a bag. And if you only use it once, then six bags = six cups of tea = ~$1.00. For one tsp (2 grams of tea) of Spring Dawn at $12/oz (assuming you get 14 servings per ounce (or 2 grams per serving) $12 oz/14 tsp = less than a $1.00 a tsp. Now, assuming you you can get six good steepings out of that 1 tsp (this may be pushing it, but I was able to do it) then you can get as much out of the Keemun Spring Dawn for about the same price as the six tea bags. And I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather have six good cups of this tea then some store bought tea (even if the flavor on this Keemun decreases slightly with each steeping). It amazes me, but I assure you the the math is correct. It really demonstrates for me how a quality product can still be affordable. : – )


hehe good point. The only downfall is that while resteeps provide excellent value, I’m not always able to use the leaves before they should be thrown out. I consume most of it at work, so sometimes I am only able to get through one or two steeps, due to circumstances that arise… but if I were able to drink at my leisure (as I did today!!) or perhaps share resteeps with a fellow tea drinker, then I think maybe that’d be more worth it. One day I’ll have my own business and will make time for tea at all hours :)


I agree with you in the that downfall of choosing to go with loose-leaf tea is the labor and time involved to fully take advantage of its flavor potential. The way I see it (as I think my example illustrates), the choice to drink loose-leaf (even an expensive one like this Keemun) is more about how much time and effort we are willing to put into a good cup of tea, rather than price.

I hear you when you state that your work environment limits you. For me, it takes almost an entire day to really get the full flavor out of a quality tea (and lots of effort, too), as it did for me today with the six steepings I did on the Hunan Yellow Sprouting I just wrote the review for. Ah, the gift of Time. There certainly is only so much of it. Tea helps to remind me of how precious Time is, and tea reminds me to spend it wisely!


Wisely yes… but you know what, when I have a few spare minutes there is nothing I’d rather do than make a cup! I don’t mind the time in takes up, rather I wish I had some (time or tea, interchangeable in this case!) when there isn’t any.
Making it to five or six infusions is always such a pleasure. Like a journey where you simply meander and gaze at the scenery. (ok now I am babbling haha)

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Experience buying from Jing Tea Shop http://steepster.com/places/2780-jing-tea-shop-on-line

Age of leaf: I received this tea in early June 2011 and first brewed it that summer (the tea is listed as 2011 early spring harvest).

Appearance and aroma of dry leaf: Fairly standard appearance for a Chinese red tea: lots of small, uniformly-colored dark leaves. However, the aroma smells strongly of what must be lychee fruit (I have had a canned version of lychee fruit once with an Asian friend, but I don’t remember much about it, other than it was mildly sweet, had the texture similar to a pear, and had a mild flavor I had never tasted before). This smell of the dry leaf is stronger than I remember the fruit tasting, but I like it.

Brewing guidelines: Traditional ceramic six-cup teapot, with large metallic tea-ball; stevia added.
……….1st: Near boiling; 2’………Great flavor
……….2nd: Nearer boiling; 3’…..Good Flavor
……….3rd: Boiling; 4’……………..Decent flavor
……….4th: Spot-on boiling; 5’…Not much flavor

Color and aroma of tea liquor: nice caramel color; and a light aroma akin to the taste.

Flavor of tea liquor: strong flavor, similar to other Chinese red teas I have had, with the lychee fruit flavor not overpowering, but rather complimenting the standard red tea flavor.

Appearance and aroma of wet leaf: Standard medium-grade chopped leaf; pleasantly aromatic.

Blends well with: I added a tsp of SpecialTeas Java OP to today’s mix and it didn’t seem to interfere with the overall taste.

Value: A great price for $5.20/100g.

Overall: Before today, I had this tea twice, and although I didn’t remember much about it, I remember liking that it was a little different than any other Chinese red tea I have had before. I decided to brew it up today for my wife and I, as I was hoping this tea would be the one Chinese red tea we could both enjoy together. I wasn’t sure what she would think of it, because she doesn’t seem to be too fond of Chinese red teas: she tried one Lapsang, at least one Keemun (I have two), and she may have even tried a Yunnan—none of which she liked. : ( And, of course, as I myself bought them, I enjoy drinking them all! Now it happens that, although she likes just about any flavored black tea she has tried (most, if not all, of which, I believe, are artificially flavored; I prefer teas that are not), I prefer Chinese red teas (I just checked the description on Jing Tea Shop’s website, and it simply describes this tea as ‘flavored’. So I don’t know if it’s artificially flavored or not. I was assuming it wasn’t. Bummer. I may want to eventually email them to find out). So, after brewing it up, with my fingers crossed, I give her her cup, and she sips, and sips again, I try to act nonchalant while watching her reaction, as she makes one of those faces we make when we think we like something but we’re not sure, she begins to slowly nod her head in affirmation, and says, “I like it.” Phew! Funny, but since I know she doesn’t like Chinese black teas I didn’t tell her up front what it was, so, I waited until she had tried enough of it to confirm her initial impression before telling her that it was a Chinese red tea (this happens on occasion when I want her to try a new tea). Luckily, I too was also impressed with the flavor (not too overpowering on the lychee fruit flavor). So now we can enjoy a Chinese red tea together! Ahh, the work we go through to get our close ones to enjoy tea with us. In the long run, it’s worth it, though, wouldn’t you agree? : – )

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(Updated 6-3-2014)

After about three years I changed my avatar from the picture of a green teacup with steam rising (one I created using Paint) to this dragon gaiwan. This is one of my favorite gaiwans, although I haven’t brewed any tea in it as of yet.

You can call me, Joe.

What, How and Why I steep:

I typically expect, and shoot for, at least three flavorful steepings out of (just about) any tea I brew up.

I generally start at the times and temps below ( = minute(s), " = second(s) ), then add 5F and 30" for each successive steeping:
Chinese Green - 175F, 1’ ;
Japanese Green - 160F, 1’add 15F, then decrease by 15";
White - 160F, 2’;
Oolong - This varies;
Indian Black/Chinese Red and Herbals - a little off the boil, 2’; why do I start with such low temps & short steep times? So as to ‘spread out’ the flavor over multiple steepings. I have found this to work with every tea I have tried so far. Also, I am not looking for intense flavor in that first cup (i.e. Western style), I would prefer to taste it—and savor—it over many steepings.
Pu-erh - Beginning in 2014, I finally chose to dive into pu-erh! Standard parameters when I brew ripened pu-erh in my 150 ml gaiwan (I also own an 11 oz Yixing):
First I do a 15" rinse with near boiling water. Then for each successive steeping I add Stevia.
……….1st: Near boiling, 0.5’
……….2nd: Boiling , 1’
……….3rd: Boiling , 1.5’
etc. Until there is no flavor, or I ran out of time and energy.

I hope to ‘streamline’ my reviews going forward, so, hopefully, they are a little less technical and dry (and perhaps even stilted), and a little more organic and experiential (and hopefully, flowing); this somewhat new approach to reviews is a kind of metaphor for where my life is headed right now, and is one reason why I write reviews: as a kind of time-capsule of where I was in my life at that time.

Tea Rating scale:

1 – 29: There is no reason to even think about drinking this stuff again.
30-49: I may drink it if someone else brewed it up, but I would not bother brewing it up myself let alone bother buying any.
50 – 59: I like something about it, and I may brew it up if I already have some, but I would not buy any more of it.
60 – 69: I like a few things about it, and I may buy it if the price is right.
70 – 79: This is a tea I enjoy and would drink fairly regularly as long as it is reasonably priced.
80 – 89: A tea I will drink as often as I can, and will likely try to buy some when I run out (as long as it’s affordable).
90 – 99: This has everything I look for in the best of teas: beauty in appearance, a delightful aroma, and most importantly, depth and yummy-ness in its flavor.
100: Perfect.

My primary interest is in artisan loose-leaf Chinese green, red and ripe pu-erh tea, although I enjoy a white and an oolong tea every now and then as well. Here and there I brew a few of the other true teas and an occasional herbal.

Since I choose to live on a very limited income (‘Voluntary Simplicity’), I have to be very conscience about how much I pay for tea. In reading their Tea Enthusiast’s books, Mary Lou and Robert J. Heiss sold me on the wonders of artisan teas. Thankfully I have found that there is affordable, artisan tea out there; it’s just like anything else that has true value: it takes hard work, dedication and at least a little persistence to find it.

I came to tea out of a desire to find something to help calm and focus my mind as naturally as possible. My mind is very active, so to speak, and at times I find it very difficult to focus and keep myself centered. For years now I have been practicing Yoga daily along with others things to help me to stay relaxed and present, but I found I wanted a little something extra to help me start the day; the theanine in green tea seems to help me in this.

I have been enjoying loose-leaf tea since November of 2010.

I enjoy connecting with others about tea.

I drink Stevia with just about all of my tea (no sugar or artificial sweeteners).

I drink a pot of green tea every day in the AM (usually steeped three times over the course of the day), sharing it with my wife.

Each tea in my cupboard is carefully and colorfully labeled in a tin or in a jar that used to hold something else (I love to reuse things!) .

I have three teapots: a glass Bodum – I don’t use the metal infuser/press anymore (greens), a 16 oz glass Victorian (to brew greens and whites, and to use as a pot to decant other teas into), and an 11 oz Yixing (ripe Pu-erh only). (New in 2014) I also one a number of gaiwans ranging in volume from from 125 ml to 250ml.

I tend to be direct, straightforward and honest when I post anything to the discussion boards. I take the approach that everything I say is stated with the implied disclaimer: In My Humble Opinion (i.e. IMHO). I may occasionally emphasize this point, where appropriate. I view your comments in the same way. You are in no way obligated to read what I have posted. And I am in no way similarly obligated to you.

Sitting with my cup of tea I greet the day in anticipation of new discoveries along the way.


Midwest, USA

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