437 Tasting Notes

Green tea has been marketed as a distinct Rizhao Brand in Rizhao, Shandong,
China since the 1998, though tea has been grown here on a wider commercial basis since the 60’s. It is often referred to as Sunshine, sunfall tea. Sometimes it is referred to as jiangbei ( north of the river tea) as well ( though this many not be unique to Rizhao tea). It is a popular enough tea in China that it has been subject to the problem of fakes ( with some
counterfeiter going so far as to dying tea, and some sellers cutting it with
tea from the south of China).

Rizhao tea is often marketed as a “health tea” because it has been shown to have higher levels of Catechins, amino acids, and selenium than other green teas produced in China.

It usually is known for having a blue green colour ( though those grown under green houses can be a lighter colour) and a chestnut/pea/fruity flavour. It is produced in xueqing ( curled ) form, a lonjing type form and a needle like form, over 4 seasons. It is one of the more northerly teas produced in China.

Some good sources of articles are ( when viewed by translator):


Currently I have two greens from the same plantation, both picked in late
winter/early spring and grown under greenhouses ( if the taobao site is to be believed: http://chayedian.taobao.com/category-334660585.htm?spm=a1z10.4.0.0.Lc8DRm&search=y&parentCatId=323244125&parentCatName=%C8%D5%D5%D5%C2%CC%B2%E8&catName=%C8%D5%D5%D5%C2%CC%B2%E8+%B4%F3%C5%EF%B2%E8#bd )

The first one sold as snow sunshine on aliexpress and early spring on the taobao site was harvested on 20/03/2013.

The second one was sold as Xianshuang type ( a thick and dense aroma/flavour
type) or spring tea and was harvested on 01/04/2013.

The snow sunshine tea is thick and loosely rolled coils with the leaves seeming wider than the xianshuang type. Short white hairs are visible on the leaves with the colour ranging from deep blue, green , through spruce green to a lighter grass green colour. The scent of the dry tea is fruity, with a touch of a roasted scent and touch of alfalfa/legume type scent. It smells less intense than the xianshuang type.

The xianshuang type is more tightly rolled with the leaves appearing smaller and slightly more coiled. The colour is a deeper spruce to blue green with pale green patches from furry buds and hairs. The scent is more of a fresh green scent rather than fruity, with a hint of a roasted savoury note.

They both steep to a pale greenish yellow, with the first steep appearing quite light after 45s at 82*C and with the colour intensifying and yellowing in later steeps (55, 70s).

The snow type smells very fruity with melon tones accompanied by chestnut, a
hint of smoke, and cooked peas, while the Xianshuang type has stronger chestnut notes with peas, and a faint floral/fruit plum note.

The snow type taste of a refreshing honeydew melon , a hint of fresh snap pea with a bit of chestnut underneath, accompanied with faint flavour from
roasting. In later steeps it remains fruity but savoury notes of chestnut, a roasted note and a slightly bitter spinach note develop more prominence. This is a refreshing, smooth, fruity green.

The Xiansuang type tastes of chestnut, spinach, and alfalfa/peas, along with a tone of warm, ripe, plum with a hint of papaya ( the small, rounder, sweeter ones). It is buttery, heavier, and more savoury than the earlier harvest tea with a denser broth. It smells and tastes fruitier as it cools.
Later steeps taste heavier and denser. This tea is refreshing but leaves a more tingling feeling in the mouth and has a bit more bitterness than the earlier harvest.

These teas both make really nice fruity greens with chestnut notes and with
references to peas and other legumes. I really enjoy the melon tones of the snow type and appreciate the more savoury notes of the later harvest.

**These teas were bought from aliexpress store Chinese Tea Distributor.
Which appears to be an online seller for Qingquan Yu Ming ( Yu Ming Springs
also known as Imperial Ming Cha), a company which has been buying and selling tea within China since 1984 and seems to be specializing in Kim Chun Mei, Jasmine teas and Teas from Shandong( mostly green, but some Laoshan black teas).

180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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This tea smells of sweet cooked apple and a fruity base tea with pastry like hints.

I find it benefits from a 5 minute steep. The base does not overpower the flavouring and the fruit is stronger than when I steeped it with shorter steeps. The rose blends with apple flavour in such away that the tea reminds me of spring with a reference to apple blossoms ( which makes sense as they are in the same family), and at other times it reminds me of fall as I get an aftertaste of cooked apples. The base has enough tannins and astringency to give the tea a certain thickness and a reference to baked goods, but taste wise it is quite fruity, and freshening. The bite of Rose becomes more apparent as it cools. It’s quite nice.

I think I prefer the brightness of Nina’s Marie Antoinette with its crisp granny smith apple like reference and it’s lighter base, but this is still very pleasant and enjoyable.
200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec

Sounds like this is to die 4

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drank Courtesan by SAHARA TEA
437 tasting notes

I picked This up on sale at Winner’s today after Dexter’s review of 100 Mysteries last night. I figured it was worth a chance.

It makes a pretty nice tea for the holiday’s. It smells of cinnamon and raisins when dry and once brewed it is a pretty red colour and smells like a Christmas pudding.

It smells strongly of cinnamon, raisins and dried fruit. The taste is pleasant and is less sweet and spicy than it smells. The rooibos is smooth and
disappears in a vanilla like note. The cinnamon and fruit combine with a pastry like notes that remind me of a spicy french toast made with brioche. The rooibos is well hidden, with cinnamon being the dominant flavour and with the fruit underneath. A nice, cinnamon fruit tea for the holidays.


Sounds like a nice combination of notes. After reading all of these reviews, I’m actually glad I didn’t make a trip down to a Winner’s to check out their sale. Sounds dangerous.


Probably a good idea, the one near me still has Fauchon tempting me to buy other flavours. This was a good deal though as it was marked down even further so I got it for $4 so I don’t feel particularly guilty about it.


I’m enjoying the Sahara Tea finds all over the place; they’ve got some unusual pairings that make me think… wait, what am I drinking? Pretty tasty too, once I get over the brain melt. I must have missed this at my Winners though. All I saw was Fauchon.


If you were at Metrotown, I’m pretty sure I didn’t see anything by Sahara today.


I’ve seen them occasionally at Homesence and Winners. They had this one and the Tantric Tulsi. I just picked up this one this time. It’s my first time trying their teas and it was quite nice! I found it in a clearance section. So you might want to check out there if your browsing. I see what you mean about thought provoking blends sometimes though, they do use an interesting mix of ingredients especially in their herbals, I almost wish I bought the Tulsi!


We must keep on running into each other OMGsrsly. It’s like we’re at the same place at the same time, each time! Only place I’ve found Sahara locally is the Low Carb Grocery down on Marine Drive, and they usually carry 6-8 different blends.


Oh, that’s so funny. :) I never go down to Marine Drive because I bus, and the buses down there from my neighbourhood are rather terrible.

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This tea produces a nice rich and brisk brew. It brews up to the colour of coffee and smells of biscuit, spice, and red fruit. This tea is smooth, with good bitter malt notes, and a nice briskness. It tastes of cocoa and biscuit which sweetens to honey, spice,a hint of sandalwood and cherry and blackberries. As it cools the bitter cocoa notes mix blend nicely with the sweeter top notes and the red fruit becomes more apparent.

This tea makes a nice morning cup with the malt, cocoa and biscuit notes nicely apparent and well blended with a fruity Ceylon. Very enjoyable.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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drank Christmas Greetings by Riston
437 tasting notes

Having had this tea a couple of times this tea tastes and smells to me of hazelnut caramels with some coffee notes.

The caramel flavour is dominant and it tastes like the kraft caramel squares from halloween, with nutty hazelnut underneath. The hazelnut is pretty authentic those with allergies should stay away as it leaves me with an itchy throat. It brews to a dark red amber. The base tea is sweet and fruity with some spicy slightly leathery notes and subtle bitter coffee like notes underneath and and is smooth if brewed around 90-95. It becomes bitter if steeped at boiling.

The packaging is cute, a tall metal canister with a music box built in. The tune is unfamiliar to me but is pleasant and cheerful!

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

A music box! That’s cute!


I’ll second the yum.

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I have four Rizhao blacks in my cupboard right now and each of them are quite different. One tastes almost exactly like hot chocolate, another of caramel, another of light smoke honey and cocoa and then there is this one. This one is the most robust of them so far and most similar to the Laoshan blacks I’ve tried, but it is unique in it’s own right. It also delivers a pretty potent dose of caffeine, which is currently buzzing through out my body.

It brewed to a red orange amber colour. The first steeps smelled of roasted grain, honey, cocoa, mash from making malt, plum, cinnamon and a lemon note.

At 70s it tasted of a lemon plum top note, opening to cocoa, honey,caramel and cinnamon flavours. As it cools malt becomes more apparent, and exhibited some tones you can get from a honeyed ale. It is smooth and slightly buttery with a reference to cream, yet has a brisk feeling from a good dose of caffeine. The aftertaste has good cocoa with light grain/ Ovaltine notes, and is slightly spicy on the and peppery on the tongue.

Subsequent steeps ( 2, 2.5, 3.5m) have exhibited similar tones along with the introduction of a light vanilla into the mix. As it cools the tea becomes very sweet with the honey notes this tea contains becoming very apparent. I think I’ll be nursing this tea for a few more steeps at least!

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drank La Naissance by Fauchon
437 tasting notes

The flavouring in this tea is like a cross between Italian Torrone and Turkish Delight. I quite like it, but I find that if you want the flavouring to pop brew it for less than the recommended four or 5 minutes. I can definitely taste the marzipan which blends well with a slightly fruity, slightly bitter rose and Jasmine. For those who hate floral teas this is not overly floral, it’s more candy like. The almond flavour is part marzipan, part nougat and part cake ( if you’ve had a cake baked with almond flour). It is not overly sweet, which is nice as I prefer to be able to sweeten a tea to my own tastes. The Tea is quite pretty with a scattering of rose buds, jasmine pieces and sliced almonds. The base is a chinese black but it brews up to that thick sort of consistency that assams often have.

The tea brews up to a dark amber and smells of a rich white cake. The base tea underneath brews up to a thick, slightly tannic and malty fruity tea. It adds a slightly bready texture to the tea and would handle milk or cream well. I find that if allowed to brew too long the base overtakes the flavouring of the tea.

The tea re-steeps nicely. The more I sip this tea it reminds me of cake, which is nice and fitting since it’s my ‘jour de naissance’.

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec

Happy birthday!!




What Sil said. Happy birthday!


Happy birthday!


Bonne fête! :)


Have a great birthday!


That’s awesome! Enjoy You Day! :)


Thanks Everyone!


Belated Happy Birthday :-)
I wish Fauchon teas were so easy to come by in the states


Thanks, I wish they were easily available here too!

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When I first opened this packet the scent of the dry leaves was very intense, with sharp, bright, notes that seemed almost harsh and pungent at first, but mellowed to notes of grape, lemon, spicy, earthy, biscuit notes with a hint of woody sandalwood.

The leaves are fairly large, and are mostly various shades of brown, with some sage to olive green silvery tips.

Because of the intensity of the dry leaf scent I used slightly less leaf than I normally do and instead used 1 tsp/225ml which I brewed at 3 minutes at 90*c.

The tea brewed to a copper amber colour. The scent of the brewed tea was awesome with hints of fruity white wine, lychee, pink grapefruit, spice( fall leaves mixed with carnation), with a hint of biscuit underneath.

The first flavour note was bright and fruity, followed by biscuit with a fall leaf note accompanied by a light astringency that opens to fruit notes of wine, grapefruit , a hint of melon, and a light syrupy note. I found this to be a relatively smooth and bright darjeeling.

The tea finishes with a bright clean feeling in the mouth that fades to a spicy note that lingers in the mouth. The fruit and spice dominate over the earthy tones.

The 2nd steep at 4 minutes produced a smooth, and a bit heavier and deeper flavoured liquor with spicy, leaf note, over more distinct, wine note with slight woody sandalwood. nutty note, followed by citrus notes and syrup.

A 3rd steep at 5min was slightly floral, with lychee, citrus, and syrup notes over faint sandalwood.

The spent leaves were entire and were mostly brown with some green ones.

Altogether this tea was very enjoyable and I could easily see myself keeping a little bit of it in my collection. Thanks again to Capital Tea Ltd. for this generous sample.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Of the two Rizhao blacks that I have at the moment this is one is probably the less complex but on the other hand it tastes strongly of hot chocolate and because of this I am pretty sure it is my favourite of the two at the moment.

This tea brews to a reddish brown and has flavour notes of hot chocolate over malt with honeyed grain, caramel and cinnamon, with faint roasted notes. It smells like hot chocolate with a touch of Ovaltine.

This time I brewed 1.5tsp/225ml for about 1 min at around 90*C.

I think it does a little better brewed for a little less time if you want the chocolate to dominate over the malt. However it was still good. Resteeps well for 4-6 steeps.

I bought this through Aliexpress.

I bought it at this store http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Black-tea-2013-tea-top-small-250g-bulk/1170792688.html

but I am pretty sure this is the same item


and this company is offering a chance to try a sample pack.


Oh my goodness, you make it sound irresistible!

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This tea is quite different than the Chinese blacks I’ve been drinking lately. For one thing the spent leaves are huge, with the one I measured being 5.5cm long or around 2.25 inches. Secondly it’s flavour profile reminds me a little bit of a cross between a Indian and a Taiwanese( I haven’t had many of these though) assam. It has the thick rich texture of an Indian assam, replete with malt and biscuit, combined with the bright fruit and spice notes, of mint, nutmeg and cinnamon I’ve had more in the Taiwanese versions. Really interesting and nice flavour notes which were not exactly what I was expecting as the dry leaf smells mostly of chocolate and cinnamon.

The leaves themselves look exactly like the picture, dark, thick, glossy and twisted. I used around 1.5 tsp for 225ml and brewed at around 95*C.

50s brewed to a rich reddish brown
scent: red fruit, malt, cinnamon, nutmeg note, hint of biscuit, honey,

flavour: fruit ( a cherry, currant like note), honey, malt, slight floral note, hint of chocolate, cinnamon and nutmeg.

faintly astringent, rich makes a nice breakfast tea,

45s above notes with a slightly minty fruit note (reminds me of creeping snowberry (northern peat bog plant with white berries tasting of blueberry and mint)). It’s smoother with more cocoa and a stronger nutmeg note. Feels cooling.

60s spice, nutmeg, cinnamon fruit, cocoa, malt fruit and honey.

90s faint fruit malt, biscuit, hint of cocoa.

Next time I’d like to try a longer western style brew to see what notes come out.

This was a really interesting tea that I think would make a nice breakfast tea. Thanks again to Capital Tea for their generous opportunity to sample this tea. http://www.capitaltea.com/shop/product.php?productid=224&cat=6&page=1


Hrm… I’ve never gotten much of anything when I steep anything for only 50 seconds. I’ve tried. I mostly get watery crap.


For me it really depends on the Assams, Ceylons, and Darjeelings I tend to brew for about 2.5-3.5 min, and generally get the level of flavour I want. I especially keep to this for most flavoured teas unless directed elsewise because I like the balance between the base flavour and the flavouring. For Chinese teas I find it varies. I have some teas that do need a longer steep to preform their best Ie my Xinyang Hong Cha, and others that I can steep for much less time. Generally I am steeping either Gonfu style or a teacup at a time so I may be using more leaf than if I were brewing a mug. I took the advice I read in the comments of someone’s tasting notes to try very short steepings for some very tippy blacks and that is now the only way I brew one of my Jinjunmei’s. I only brew it for 5s in a gonfu pot and then pour it off into a cup and it is perfectly caramel and desert like. I was really surprised. I then increase steeps by 5s each steep. I fond that longer steeps produced a flavour that was overwhelming and a little unpleasant for me. Things to take into consideration I am used to drinking a weaker tea and I rarely add anything to it. If you prefer milk or cream in your tea you probably would need a longer steep. As well I have bought some tea lately that retain flavour over multiple steeps. I’ve usually been able to resteep my assams 3-4times, but some of my Fujian blacks last for 7+ steeps. I’ve had some oolongs that are also overwhelming or even bitter if I steep the first steep over 30s and one of the one’s I have recommended a 10s first steep.


yyz I’ve seen you mentioning Capital Tea Ltd a couple of times today, and this tea was the one that was screaming my name on their web site. ugggg…… I ordered 100g of it and samples of 8 other teas. I think you get the blame/credit of this order ;))


I hope you enjoy them!


Dexter, you’re hopeless. :)


If it makes you feel better, I am in dire need of banning myself from Aliexpress. I probably have enough tea for over a year at this point.


nxtdoor But it makes me happy… :))

yyz – I’ve taken just a couple of quick looks at Aliexpress and quickly determined that if I don’t want my cupboard to hit 400 teas, it’s a place I should just avoid. The other one I have a self imposed ban on is Yunnan Sourcing.


my ONLY issue with capital tea ltd is that you can 100g or 10. I would really like 50g option.


Sil for most teas there smallest size is 20g but I agree 50g would be nice.


i just want to go tea shopping…so close to my goal lol


I know…. At this point I think that unless it’s some amazing deal or perhaps flavoured teas I shouldn’t even be online on black Friday weekend. Especially, with the amount of tea I am currently waiting on. Think of it this way that any tea you buy now just takes away from the pool available to buy on black Friday. On the other hand I find myself building orders and shutting them down before processing them.


Sticking my nose in – I just broke open, my order box. It’s beautiful – I’m really happy with the 20g samples – I think they are more than enough to try the teas – actually bigger than I would have expected for 20g. LOVE the red tissue against the black packages. This is really nice and professional, and it was quick. Ordered on the weekend, shipped Monday, I got a card in the mail yesterday.
Thanks yyz so far I’m really impressed – will see how the tea is.
Sil I’m going to send you a bunch of these for you to try.


and I got a 20g free sample – I didn’t notice it at first, it is in exactly the same pacaging as the ones I ordered.


Nice, I usually get my packages within 2 days ( I live in Mississauga). The first time I ordered from them they actually comped me a piece of my order as a free sample. I didn’t really notice until I was reviewing my bill. Their samples are really generous. What did they send you as a sample?


LOL it’s not something I would have ordered, but I guess that’s good to get me to try other things. It’s this Darjeeling.


Funny, I have that one to try too!. I still have this one and a Ceylon to open. At least with 20g you can try it all sorts of ways to see if there’s away you can enjoy it. If it’s too astringent the first time, lower the temp.. I have one that is lemony and bright when brewed at boiling and tastes of almonds at lower temps. I hope you enjoy their teas!


I surprised at how much tea there is in the 20g sample. I agree that it’s enough to play with but not crazy amount if you don’t like it. Enough to share. Like I said – really happy. I’m sure I won’t love them all, but am hoping to love one or two. It’s also easy to order a bunch with most of the being 3-4.00.





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