152 Tasting Notes


My favorite dragonwell so far. It is quite buttery and smooth. Simultaneously sweet and roundly savory. Vegetal, like roasted, buttered… some young and tender spring veg. I love that it’s organic. Thanks to QueenofTarts for this surprise, it’s a great match for me :)

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drank Silver Buds Yabao by Verdant Tea
152 tasting notes

This is the first tea I’ve up-rated for its ‘fun’ quotient! It’s a brain-tickler… normally I would not expect to enjoy this combo of flavors but they are mysteriously intriguing. I dislike clove but the first steep it was all about clove and licorice… but with a countervailing smoothness and sweetness that removed their edge and left the whole palate stunningly interested. Smooth, sweet and savory.

The last sip, by then cooled, was another stunner: caramel. Just this intense sweetness out of nowhere. What fun.

As Amanda ‘SoggyEnderman’ Wilson noted, it has a fragrance of basil, which is just another twist in the interesting profile. Maybe there’s a little juniper in the flavor, but I didn’t pick up the strong pine that characterized it for so many other fellow Steeps.

This tea is a great conversation piece, so a must-have for any tea tasting having the purpose of sampling a wide range of different tea personalities

The name “yabao” is a perfect psycho-onomatopoeia – what your thought ‘sounds’ like in your head when you taste this… like a flash-impact word in a superheroes comic book : bam! … yabao! ha!

Plus it’s fun how the buds puff up like little seaweed pillow-fingers in the Atlantic, if you know the ones I mean.

Thanks to Christina for the great trade!

Flavors: Caramel, Clove, Licorice, Marshmallow

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First steep smells like french toast, tastes softly floral and vegetal, a little buttery. The second steep had more pronounced and recognizable but still soft gardenia fragrance, just lovely, and the flavor had more personality, floral/vegetal with a bare whisper of vanilla. Third steep was unremarkable, too subtle for me. But there, I remarked it.

This tea is calming both physically and psychologically… like a very gentle cuddle. Understated elegance. It would be a great one to serve to someone who would prefer subtlety to a frank, full-disclosure tea… it retains an air of mystery.

2 min, 0 sec

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drank Top Tie Guan Yin by ShanghaiStory
152 tasting notes

Nice lavender-ish fragrance on the first steep with a pretty golden-yellow broth. Flavor is pleasantly floral with a wisp of vanilla. Lightly buttery.

Upping my rating on day 2 after retrying with more leaf and shorter steep times. This one doesn’t do western well, loses a lot of its beauty in a longer steep.

0 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Chocolate Mint Rooibos by Zen Tea
152 tasting notes

Easy drinking comfort tea. Great balance among the rooibos, mint and chocolate flavors, with the mint predominating. The mint is soft, though, and breathy-fresh. The chocolate is almost too quiet in the background, but good enough. Because I’m not a fan of “natural flavours” as an ingredient, it lost points for that.

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Wanted a Friday-worthy tea today to enjoy after yin yoga and a swim. Cooked up a pot of miso-mushroom-soba soup and got down with this tea while I waited for it to finish. Was not disappointed.

If the allure of its curly golden cuteness and wonderful chocolatey steam-breath doesn’t get you, the flavor will. This tea’s a charmer. Smooth, nice body and plenty of soft, nearly-sweet flavor. It has a good deal of depth even though it’s not a full-throttle black. The chocolate is more pronounced in the aroma but still present in the sip.

The caramel noted by fellow Steeps tasted more like a good quality butterscotch to me. There’s something else umami about it, couldn’t pin it down, and a faint hint of some fruit that I’ll try to figure out in future steeps. Will check for that sweet potato next time, too, didn’t catch that.

Another high quality tea from Teavivre, thank you for the surprise offer of samples to try!

Flavors: Butterscotch, Chocolate

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This tea is unusual in a good way. It has a distinctive sweet flavor that reminds me of good rum without the alcohol, if you can imagine that. Very round and both soft and bright at the same time. Fragrance of sweet potato and also green beans. The flavor tastes closer to lychee fruit than honey to me, love that. Slight maltiness. No astringency. Good for multiple resteeps.

Thanks to Tea Sipper for the extra sample – good call!

Flavors: Lychee

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This is another sample from Teavivre – a bit of a puerh tour, how fun is that! Want to start by saying that I am going to have to try short-steeping this next time because it appears my fellow Steeps are appreciating this more than I am; I did like it, though. Did a 10s rinse then 4x 2-3 minute steepings. I kept waiting for the creaminess and other high points to appear, no luck.

All the steepings had earth and just the barest sweetness, with a bit of astringency in the aftertaste. 1st and 2nd steeps had tobacco, 2nd had mushroom with a whisper of chocolate (my favorite steeping), 3rd had damp earth and wood smoke, 4th back to a bit of mushroom and what I could almost but not quite call floral that’s in the tea’s description.

Wondering if it’s my method or my taste buds…

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This would be a good puerh, as others note, to use as an intro for the uninitiated. It has a pleasant woodsy, fresh-mushroomy, wet-leaf atmosphere without being at all dank (or fishy). Also there’s some distinct clean leather in the first steep, nice. Medium body, not too light. Smooth, no edge. A hint of sweetness leaning toward malt as well. Also leaves a nice little tingle in the mouth.

Thanks to Teavivre for sending a sample of this my way, I am enjoying it!

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Predominant note is chocolate , a little tobacco, a little malt and prune-like sweetness. While that description makes it sound like a rich tea, though, it is fairly light. Smooth and round and delightful to drink with no ‘catches’ to distract from the pleasure. This is a tea I would purchase. Very much enjoyed this sample, thank you, Angel!


I taste sweet potato in this one! It is yum!


Ooh will try it again and ‘look’ for that. It is so yum!

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Strong preference for exploring teas au naturel, and unflavored (except for unprocessed ingredients, e.g., cocoa shells/nibs, vanilla beans, flowers, fruits…). Favorites lean in the direction of rich caramelly, malty blacks, any puerh, fresh floral oolongs and whites that have some dimension.

I am always up for swaps.

Beyond the experience of tea, I’m interested in exploring its medicinal aspects. Other interests … yoga, creative veggie cooking, environmental issues, animal welfare, music/guitar, lefty politics, preventive health/nutrition, biking, swimming, foosball, photography.

Here’s how I rate ’em:

95+: euphoria-inducing, le petite mort
91-94: extraordinary, exhilarating
85-90: delicious
81-84: definitely enjoyable
75-80: good, solid stuff
65-74: I’ll drink it, but without enthusiasm
45-64: something redeeming about it, but not much
31-44: just barely drinkable
< 30: tidy stream into the spit bucket


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