212 Tasting Notes


This is a lovely Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong. It is good both Western style (where it comes out honey-sweet with a backbone of malt and grass) and gong fu (where it gives you at least 4-5 distinctly tasting steeps). Prepared gong fu it evolves through honey/caramel/flowers to herbs/spices/vegetal and then to vegetal/malty.

Overall, it is way less malty and baked potato-y then a typical unsmoked lapsang. The aroma is decent and the flavors are pure and well-defined.

Flavors: Caramel, Grass, Herbs, Honey, Malt, Marine, Melon, Mineral, Mint, Spices, Tree Fruit, Vegetal

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That was a bummer. The dry leaf smell was nice – sweet and berry-like – but the taste was simply not there. It was like desperately trying to see the details by staring in the dark window of an abandon house, festooned with grime and cobwebs. I could discern some malt, berries, chocolate and undefined sweetness – but it was so barely-there and muted…. And that was for the first steep, with the second steep being simply undrinkable.

Most likely, it is simply a tea that is old and was stored carelessly. Which is a bummer since I do like lapsangs and was looking forward to trying this one.

Flavors: Berries, Caramel, Chocolate, Malt

Mastress Alita

My local coffee haunt sources a small selection from TeaSource, and recently got this one. I was excited since I love unsmoked Lapsang Souchong (and can’t stand the smoked stuff!) I, too, was completely underwhelmed. I actually wondered if it even was an unsmoked lapsang because it didn’t really taste anything like others I’ve had…


I was unimpressed with China tea offerings by TeaSource overall: they were not bad but quite unremarkable. I always want to give American regional tea companies a chance… but they almost never measure up to the vendors operating directly from China, Taiwan, Japan etc. in quality and the breadth of choices.

Of course, TeaSource are more known for their blends, which are not my main focus of interest. So, maybe it was not meant to be for us from the beginning.

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drank Golden Buddha by TeaSource
212 tasting notes

This is a sunny, carefree tea. Bread and fruity sweetness. It is not complex but so yummy and charming. It has no astringency but enough of the malty backbone to keep it from becoming cloying… also a mild pleasant aftertaste of baked bread. This tea is very forgiving regarding the steeping times and the water temperature.

It is a golden retriever of teas, always ready to cheer up with unadulterated happiness.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Stonefruits

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I will echo the previous review by azgryl that was very much on point. It is a pretty tea with an aroma of Darjeeling. The taste is mild, with malt, mint, flowers and muscatel predominating. Ir has a nice long aftertaste and re-steeps very well.

Overall, it is a very solid tea that lacks complexity or uniqueness. I got it as a sample and will not consider buying it due to its high cost ($0.60-0.70 per gram). At that price range significantly more interesting teas could be had. However, if one has a predisposition toward Darjeeling-type teas and no monetary constraints this tea would be a good choice.

Flavors: Flowers, Malt, Mint, Muscatel

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drank The Mad Hatter's Tea by 52teas
212 tasting notes

It is a very-very well balanced tea: bergamot, ginger, and lemon complement each other very well. But it also a very forgettable and unremarkable drink and I do not know why. Maybe the tea base should be more defined and assertive, or maybe it was designed to be taken with milk and sugar (and I always drink my tea straight).

In any case, despite the obvious skill and thought that went into creating this blend it did not click with me.

Flavors: Bergamot, Ginger, Lemon

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This tea has a typical profile for Japan blacks: grass, seafood, bark, tree-sap astringency, and a hint of sweetness. Overall, it is mild and smooth, with equally mild but lasting aftertaste.

There is nothing wrong about this tea but also nothing really impressive.

Flavors: Bark, Grass, Sap, Seaweed

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This is a very grassy and floral Tie Guan Yin. There isn’t much of buttery and cooked green leafy vegetable notes, but plenty of lilac and violets.: very clean and refreshing. It has a strong lilac and white lily aroma, re-steeps well (that is when SOME buttery notes do creep in) and has a nice lasting aftertaste.

All in all, it is a very good representative of the grassy TGYs. Bonus points for being quite affordable. The only thing that keeps it from being amazing is that it does not have that vast, never-ending complexity of the very top teas.

Flavors: Flowers, Grass, Violet

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This is a relatively new addition to Teavivre black teas that did not impress neither the members of the Steepster community nor the reviewers on the Teavivre site. And I can see why: this is a smooth, understated tea without any single flavor or aroma jumping forward and grabbing your attention. The main taste components are malt, cherry, hay and gentle sweetness. It has a mild sweet and flowery aroma and does not re-steep well.

However, I think that this tea is good in its own right: I sometimes want a simple pleasant and smooth tea that is sweet and soothing. It is well-balanced and while not super-complex is good as a drink to sip while working or as a desert tea.

Flavors: Cherry, Hay, Malt, Sweet

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This is a very common mass-produced puerh. I tried , I think, the 2012 pressing before and it was quite smooth and pleasing. This pressing is quite young and it shows with a noticeable fermentation smell. The taste is familiar: smooth, slight decay, vegetables, sweetness and just trace notes of bitterness. It’s not very complex, and no long tail present.

This puerh will undoubtedly improve with age, lose its fishy smell and add some complexity. But it is quite palatable right now for those who want a smooth, warming shou that is very tolerant of over-steeping.

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I like to drink teas to recreate a specific mood, or just to take a break at work. The world of tea is so endless, patiently waiting for exploration and rewarding you in many ways big and small.

I am looking forward to years of playing with tea leaves, gaiwans, cups, and YouTube videos.

My ratings:

90 or more – a very good/excellent tea, I can see myself ordering it again.

80-89 – it is a good tea, I enjoyed it but not enough to reorder.

70-79 – an OK, drinkable tea but there are certainly much better options even in the same class/type.

60-69 – this tea has such major flaws that you have to force yourself to finish what you ordered.

<60 – truly horrible teas that must be avoided at all costs.



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