55 Tasting Notes


Spring 2019 Harvest

(This is the general excerpt from my tea blog, which includes photos of each steep https://jadeoolong.blogspot.com/2021/02/comparing-tea-to-itself-wild-tree.html)

NOTE: I also wrote a log for the 2012 Harvest two years ago.

Brew info: 6.13 grams of tea | 100 ml water | Porcelain gaiwan | Gong fu style (see steep information below)

Leaf Aroma:
*The high notes of the wet leaves are sweet, but slightly sour
*The low notes from the wet leaves are of light smoke and cacao powder
*The leaves open somewhat quickly. They seem to open up 7-10% with each steep. I think this tea will go on for a while.

Tea Broth / Soup:
*The color of the tea soup is a lovely orange amber

The broth is very smooth with a very mild viscosity.
*There is hardly any astringency at all. I suspect this will be a very forgiving tea with regards to water temperature.

The flavor starts off with a mild sourness followed by a sweetness and sugary aftertaste. It’s fairly well balanced with no flavor overpowering the other. It has a fairly medium finish with a tongue juiciness that lingers with sugar crystals.The sourness is not as dominating, as Laoshan Red teas. It’s just a nice balance of sweet & sour.

I don’t detect the more fruity notes from my 2012 tasting, which could be just the harvest year or my looking at tea differently.

Brewing specs by steep:

1.200F @ 20s 2. 200F @ 30s 3. 195F @ 40s — I wanted to see if the sourness/tang might be reduced with a lower temperature, but it didn’t really. 4. 200 F @ 40s — still going fairly strong. The color of the soup hasn’t changed much since the first, but I can tell it’s just starting to drop. I figure I can go a decently long time with this tea as the leaves are not yet fully open. (5+ Steeps) Flavors are diminishing very slowly over time, as is the color of the soup. The tang is also dropping, but the slight sweet is still there. Still keeping itself balanced.

Flavors: Cocoa, Pleasantly Sour, Sugar

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

Nice to see you back. I enjoyed perusing your blog. The layout and your cadence are calming.

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I started keeping a blog for tea reviews because it’s a bit hard to figure out which teas I’ve reviewed - Steepster’s sorting algorithm kinda sucks -- plus versions on FB, and this is just better for my own record keeping.

This morning, I wanted to have a tea session with a shou puerh….and I accidentally made this tea instead. Oops. Sometimes, you have to let the tea decide what you’re drinking.

This tea has got a lot of sweetness to it with a lot of herbal notes bordering on vegetal. And, it’s really easy and smooth to drink. In later steeps, there’s a cooling effect like menthol or mint. I can feel the cooling effect in the back of my mouth and throat. It’s very pleasant. The tea has a nice relaxing effect.

This tea seems to like short steep times at about 190degF (10second intervals), and increasing either temp/time brings out a bit of herbal bitterness that isn’t bad, but was unexpected.

Despite Denong’s description of floral flavors, I didn’t really get a sense of floral scents or flavor notes until much later infusions (#5). Everything read to me as sweet herbal notes.

I’ve got about enough to do another tasting later. I took a look at their pricing for this cake and I won’t be able to afford to replace it once I’m done. I’m very grateful to be able to sample this tea. If you get a chance, I recommend it.

More detailed steep information at:

190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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I have the SPRING 2019 version of this tea.

SUMMARY: This is an interesting tea. The flavors are fairly subtle, balanced, and not one note seems to stand out, but it has a lot of texture and cha qi. In fact, it’s a bit hard for me to discern any one given flavor of the tea although there’s a lot of flavor notes in the aroma.

When I brewed this a little hotter / longer, the tea is all about the texture. I could feel the astringency on the tongue, roof of the mouth, on the lips, with a puckering sensation. In conjunction with the astringency, the cha qi on this tea is fairly strong. In the second infusion, there was a tingling in my eyes, from the top of my head to the back, and on the lips…like when I have a really good tai chi session.

Brew times (time / temp F) : 10s/202F, 30/199, 40/195, 50/205, 60/199, 120/200, 5min/200

Wet leaf: The wet Leaf aroma changes slightly with each step. But in general:
The high notes include stewed tomatoes, cooked veggies (maybe squash?) — this turns to a sweet, fruity scent in later infusions. The low notes initially smell of marinara sauce with the tomatoes & herbs, mild roast, then turns into roasted veggies, nuts

The liquid aroma is somewhat sweet, like honey/marzipan with a slightly almond, nutty aftertaste.

The tea broth has an interesting texture primarily due to the astringency factor in the tea. It feels very viscous on the tongue but drinks smoothly.

Even though there’s a strong astringency in this tea, there’s no bitterness. I pushed the times without any bitter tasting tea. I think this would work for Grandpa brewing style

0 min, 30 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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Summary: This is a pretty decent tea, and it has the potential to be a VERY good tea. The tea broth is thick, rich, and very juicy. It’s got a good astringency, but never borders on bitter even when pushed. The flavors aren’t complex with primary notes of roast / sweet wood with hints of stone fruit. Even though this tea is a side varietal of Da Hong Pao, it has aspects of a Dan Cong.

I think it’d be interesting to see how this ages over time. I think it’ll become an amazing tea. (Side Note: This would make a good grandpa style brewed tea as of right now)

Brew Times: 20s, 30, 45, 75, 90,120…
Brew Temps: 200F, 201F, 199F, 199F, 199F

The wet leaves had high notes of stone fruit turning into sweet sugar with later infusions. There were low notes of roast, fire, and woodsmoke.

The liquid gave off hints of orange/citrus.

The tea broth is very thick & viscous, nice on the tongue. This tea goes down easy with a medium to long finish. It has a medium-long astringency that started on the edges of my tongue then the whole tongue.

Flavors: Strong initial wood flavors with hints of fruit at either the beginning or end, depending on the steep, which would then mellow out

Flavors: Campfire, Roasted, Smoke, Stonefruits, Wood

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 tsp 5 OZ / 150 ML

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I finally got around to tasting this tea from Whispering Pines.
The small brick was about 5.5 grams. I broke it in half to try in two sessions.

TL;DR Summary: Overall, this is a decent tasting tea. If you really like sweet fruity teas, then I’d recommend this to you. There’s hardly any astringency or bitterness no matter how far I pushed out the steep times. Personally, I liked the flavor profiles (with the dates & plums) but I really wanted more body and viscosity to the tea. IMNSHO, I think it’s a bit thin, which is why I’m not giving this a higher rating.
I think a leaf vs. water ratio would help or a CZ with a bit of crushed leaf. I probably should have just brewed the whole square instead of trying to conserve the tea. (Also, I really think this tea would be most excellent as a cold brew!!) The only other “ding” I would give it is that it didn’t last as long as I hoped, given the price point. Flavors started to wash out by steep 5.

I brewed this GongFu style.
Water: 90-100ml
Temp: 200+ deg
Steep times: 15s, 30s, 60s, 60s, 60s, 90;120

The dry leaf: hints of plum and fig
Leaf in warm gaiwan: Fresh plums, figs, prunes.
No wash.

- 15s – First steep is the color of medium red amber. The wet leaf smells of sugar water and plums. It’s very sugary sweet! Did I accidentally add sugar? Nope. It’s just THAT sweet.
There’s hints of plums, figs, apricots with a very mild astringency with a drying in the back of the throat & back of my tongue. However, the tea soup is very thin and the flavors are hints of what this could be. (Maybe this should have been a 20-30 second steep)

- 30s – a little bit more body but not by much. There’s a hint of Chinese salted prunes in the leaf aroma. Broth: The flavors of plums & figs are much more stronger and distinct. It’s still sugary sweet.

- 60s – Lets see what happens if I push it out? The color is much darker than the #1 or #2. I still get scents of plum and sugar from the leaf, but with the added scents of dates and fruit bread(?) The sugary sweetness is not as strong. Now I get the flavor of dates. I probably should have kept the steep to about 45seconds if I wanted to keep the sweetness of this tea for longer.

- 60s – The color is now lighter than #3; The leaf smells more of cooked plums/dates versus fresh plums & dried dates. There’s still some sugary sweetness in the leaf.
The tea brother definitely has more of a date flavor with the ever present plums. The sweetness is now in the aftertaste.

- 90 seconds — Flavors are starting to fade a bit. I don’t think the tea has that many longer steeps in it.

- 120 seconds — Flavors are definitely starting to fade. Still no bitterness and an extremely mild astringency.

Flavors: Dates, Fig, Plums

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(from notes August 18, 2019)

This morning, I treated myself to a new tea-to-me vendor, Old Ways Tea.
I made the “mistake” of brewing this for 60s at 200 deg F. The resulting tea was strong. It had some amazingly darker robust flavors — Moss, earth, and slightly smokey flavor. The mouthfeel was amazingly smooth and silky with a clean finish. It was like how silk and velvet lay on your skin.

It was good but others reviews mention other flavors that I wanted to taste. (Also, I can’t compare this to any previous years, as some reviewers seem to indicate that previous years were better…)

I backed off the brew time because I wasn’t getting a lot of high notes so I brewed at 45 seconds. Flavors dropped down to tobacco, chocolate with an amazing cooling effect like ginger. The cha Qi fills the mouth and throat then the head. The mouthfeel is exactly the same.

Subsequent steepings had creamy textures and flavor of orange peel.

It’s an AMAZINGLY COMPLEX tea. Probably the best of example of a Wu Yi Black Tea. The way you brew it is going to dictate the flavor profile — none of which are bad but only based on your preference. This tea is a fine Scotch. The mouthfeel of silk and velvet is worth the price of admission.

This is a Tea you want to sit back and enjoy by itself. I’ll be ordering more.

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drank Kenyan Purple Leaf Tea by Justea
55 tasting notes

I bought this at the SF Int’ Tea Festival because I’ve heard of Kenyan tea but not have had a chance to sample. I tried their jasmine flavored version and thought it was good. A friend tried the chocolate or mint and also found it tasty. However, I really just wanted to try JUST the Kenyan purple tea without any flavors. I had to ask them if I could taste JUST the purple tea without any flavoring, but they didn’t have it brewed, so I bought this untasted.

The tea leaves are small and have a purple tinge to them.
The dry leaves smell faintly of plum.
The warm (not wet) leaves smell more of plum and a light roast.

I brewed this in two different ways.
- Western
- GongFu

TL;DR — Western Style: Hardly any flavor
GongFu style — MUCH too bitter, even at a low temp/short steep times.

I brewed this per their recommendation on the bag: Western Style 1tsp (3g) for 1cup water @ 175F for 3 minutes. (NOTE: Their website suggests 3g at BOILING WATER for 3-5 minutes)

Steep 1 : Tea broth: a very pale dirty yellow
Flavor: Extremely mild flavor. There’s hardly any initial flavors, only hints of toasted flavors, but nothing discernible. There’s an extremely mild astringency as my whole tongue dries out just ever so slightly. The water at 175 deg F isn’t helping leach out any of the flavors. (This is when I check their website and find that they recommend BOILING WATER)

Steep 2: 4 minutes @ 208degF
Leaf aroma: there’s a vegetal / roasted scent
Liquid aroma: A very mild fruity (not plum, no stone fruit) scent.
Flavor: There’s an extremely mild sweet vegetal notes. And a bit more astringency than the first steep. It’s not really all that much flavorful than the first steep

Conclusion for Western: When brewed to their recommendation, this tea has hardly any flavor, which is why they probably mix it with other things.

Tea: 5grams / Water: 150ml

30 seconds @ 203F
The tea broth looks like a dirty rose wine. It looks rather unappealing, but has a underlying hints of sweetness in its aroma

Flavor: First thing that hits your mouth is BITTER. I can’t even finish drinking it as it’s so bitter.

20 sec @ 175F — I dropped the steep time down as well as the water temperature, hoping that this will help. It’s not as bitter as the first steep, but still bitter enough to be undrinkable.

Conclusion: Won’t drink this stuff as GF. A higher tea to water ratio does not necessarily make this tea flavorful.


I keep hearing about all those wonderful Kenyan teas as well but those few that I tried were similarly disappointing, or, at best, nothing special. Either my luck is lousy or the hype is a bit excessive.


I think the hype is excessive. It seems to be okay as a blended tea, but on its own? Meh…

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(Notes from 8/1/19)

I got this as a sampler from YS (20 g sampler)

This was the right tea to drink tonite. It’s an interesting tea…best for a late afternoon tea. However, I’m not sure I would order it once this sampler is done.

The flavor initially starts of very thin velvety chocolate, but then blossoms into a robust flavor of sweet toasted aromatic wood/florals with the barest hint of minerality; it’s like the aftertaste is where all the flavor lies.

It’s a weird combination that makes it a fairly well-balanced tea. And the finish is extremely clean. This tea is really easy to drink. And there’s a very faint hint of cha Qi, which given that I ate before the session is saying something.

Steepings are consistent and very forgiving. (5g tea/150ml water). I pushed this from 20 seconds (#1) to 60s (#2), 80s(3) to 2 minutes (4), then 3min (#5) and there was no astringency at 195-200 deg F. I’m sure this can be brewed full Western or Grandpa style with a large amount of leaf without it getting bitter.

But for me, the initial thinness of flavor puts this in the 2.5 out of 5 star range. The robust aftertaste and cha Qi saves it.

I’m going to try this again as full ChaZhou brew with some crushed leaves to see if it improves that initial thin flavor.

Notes from 8/14/19
Okay, tried this again CZ style with a bit of crushed leaves.
Overall, this is a much better tea with the crushed leaves. It’s a bit more robust than before.
This raises the overall recommendation of the tea.

Also tried steep stacking this tea. Much better this way…better balanced.

Flavors: Chocolate, Malt, Sweet Potatoes, Wood

5 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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(from my notes 6/23/19 as I try to figure out pu-erhs)

Either my tastes or changing or I am a much more demanding tea drinker.
This stuff brews to deep dark black red. Even after 6 steeps, it stays this color. Brewed GF. 208 deg F. Short steeps 10s, 20s, 25, 35, 45, 60. (5 grams tea / 100 ml of water)

Amazing amount of cha Qi in this ripe puerh. I’m pleasantly surprised. The leaves smell of sweet cedar & moss with earthy undertones. It’s got a viscous mouthfeel but it’s not a dry tea. This tea has very little bitterness but has a bit of light astringency.

Overall, it’s a well-balanced, smooth, and quite drinkable tea although watch out for the cha Qi. I was quite buzzed before I finished the first 100ml. (maybe I should have ate first)

By the 2nd 100ml, I could feel the chi in my head, and then got that slight heat flush by the 4th. By the 6th steep most of that was gone and I can tell that the tea was going to wash out within the next 2 steeps

But it’s too well-balanced for me. There’s nothing to distinguish this tea in flavor and while I like a good bit of Tea drunkenness, I want to rewarded with a distinct flavor.

I was drinking a Four Seasons Oolong earlier in the day and that particular cultivar has amazing flavor so perhaps this just pales in comparison? Or maybe I’m not getting into puerhs like I had hoped.

Flavors: Earth, Malt, Tobacco

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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(from my notes 7/06/19)

For the tea of the day, we have Emperor’s Yellow Tea.
The leaves feel like a cousin to silver needle leaves (which are soft and velour like) This one tastes of bittersweet cocoa with hints of orange/citrus and some florals. It’s an easy tea to drink with a mild viscosity reminiscent of very light roasted oolong, but parts of it remind me of a green/white tea.

Brewstye: Gongfu
Tea: 5grams water: 150ml
Temp: 185F
Time: 20s, 30s, 40, 60

The color of the tea brother is a golden, orange amber.
The wet leaf smells of chocolate, malt, cocoa, orange. Later infusions bring out slight florals.

The flavor ranges from bittersweet chocolate to cocoa & florals depending on the steep. There’s a mild viscosity.

Overall, I really like this tea. You need to be careful on the temperature. I brewed once over 185F and it came out just a tiny bit bitter. This really needs to be brewed closer to green tea temps.

Flavors: Cocoa, Dark Bittersweet, Floral, Orange

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 tsp 5 OZ / 150 ML

Other than the temperature constraint, would you say this is similar to a Yunnan gold needle?


Yes. It’s about the same family. YS’s Imperial Golden needle might be a touch sweeter and have more of a malty flavor than the yellow, and there’s no floral notes in the YS’s Imperial GN. If you enjoy one, I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy the other.

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General: A crafty geek girl who has a love for tea, cats, writing, books, as well as learning a multitude of post-apocalyptic skills…just in case.

Tea: I’ve been drinking tea all my life. My grandfather was half-Chinese, but I was always too lazy to brew anything other than Western style. In the past 5 years I’ve been changing that; trying to develop my tea-tasting chops and still a lot to learn! I prefer oolongs, blacks, and greens (in that order), and I’m trying to expand my knowledge of tea from all over the world (and not just China & Japan). I do tend to stay away from herbal tisanes or overly flavored teas as I find them much too sweet and overpowering.

My ratings explained.
90-100: Exceptional tea. The tea I want with me on that desert island. It is the tea I’ll take time to relish and enjoy.

80-89: Very Good Tea. It fits my flavor profile and I enjoy drinking it.

70-79: Good. I like it, but might not be one I reach for on a regular basis..

60-69: Solid. Better than average, and something I’ll grab when I need to “run-out-the-door” and can’t take time to really appreciate the tea I’m drinking.

50-59: Decent/Average. Not my preferred flavor profile or something I won’t purposefully go out to buy. It might lack that “Something” in its aroma/flavor/mouthfeel/finish.

40-49: Below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Gross. Didn’t finish it or refused to drink anymore.


San Francisco Bay Area



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