261 Tasting Notes


I love the smell of this dry leaf––so intense and delicious, that toasty chestnut flavour you associate with Dragon Wells, along with some brown sugar. It has that heavenly 冲天 quality aroma that I think Chinese people associate with really primo tea.

After doing some research, this Bao Hong Tea(宝洪茶)is apparently also called Yi Liang Dragon Well(宜良龙井).

1st infusion: (15s)
Pale yellow liquor, as expected of a Chinese green. The tea smells so similar to a good Dragon Well, but the taste is sadly more bland. But it is a good round thick mouthfeel, with juicy almost fruity aftertaste.

2nd infusion: (30s)
The wet leaf has some seriously complex aroma going on that I don’t even feel equipped to try to analyse right now. Maybe roasted plum and golden raisin? The tea smells and tastes like Dragon Well, except with a stronger fruit note and lacking that crisp edge that I recall 龙井 has.

Verdict: Overall a beautiful, interesting green for people who love Dragon Well but want to try a variant. I’m drinking the March 2016 harvest in the first week of April, pretty much as fresh and splendid as a green tea gets. Note: It’s possible I underleafed, will try this again with the ridiculous 5g they tell me to per 100ml.

Rating: 87

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Chestnut, Plum, Raisins

175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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This is obviously a greener version of the Light Roast Premium Tie Guan Yin also offered by Yunnan Sourcing. Light, floral, buttery, more similar to a Jin Xuan oolong but with a metallic undertone. I am drinking the Autumn 2015 harvest and I have to say the Autumn 2015 Light Roast Premium Tieguanyin was more interesting and flavourful.

Brewed at 203˚F in my little 90ml gaiwan. I might have under-leafed, will brew again with more tea next time.

Flavors: Butter, Floral, Metallic

205 °F / 96 °C

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Brewed this Western-style, 6g in about 14oz of 205˚F water in a glass teapot (my only Western pot) for about 5 minutes to take to work in a Thermos.

It’s quite nice, I taste bitter and fruity dark chocolate notes, but it’s not very smooth. I might try lowering the temperature next time to 200 or 195.

Flavors: Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Fruity

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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Spring 2015 harvest. Despite this tea being almost a year old, the dry leaf smells incredibly sweet and fragrant. Maybe not a pure, subtle, “fresh” aroma but still delightfully intense.

Apr 11: Brewed this Western-style, in a 16oz teapot for 3:00, 179˚F and it turned out pretty luscious, with full nutty sweet toasty flavour, maybe very slightly on the edge of burnt. They recommended 185˚F but I might lower it to 177˚or so next time. Unfortunately I was stupid and needed to insulate the pot base with more than a tea towel, so my solid wood dining table now has a round white burn print on it ໒( •́ ∧ •̀ )७
Any suggestions on removing this burn stain would be appreciated. I might try wiping it down with olive oil…

To be continued…

Flavors: Almond, Chestnut, Toasty

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drank Eighteen by Song Tea & Ceramics
261 tasting notes

Gosh, I keep changing my mind about this tea. Today I brewed it with a lighter hand as I remembered it could get pretty bitter. I brewed it in my new 160ml 脂白 (“white as fat”) gaiwan set––beautiful design, misleading name?––and it blew my mind, tasting like sophisticated caramel with woody and cherry tones, very little bitterness.

Not sure if the thickness of the gaiwan (it got really scalding hot sometimes) had anything to do with it, but I will try it in the same gaiwan again and see if I get consistent results.

1st infusion: 202˚F, 0:55

2nd infusion: 203˚F, 1:25

3rd infusion: 204˚F, 2:00

“Eighteen” is not easy to brew, better to take a lighter hand than the recommended brewing parameters but when it’s done right gosh this tea is ambrosial and I would absolutely buy this again from Song (and maybe try its older brother, Twenty-One).

Rating: 85

Flavors: Caramel, Cherry, Dark Chocolate, Wood

4 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

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Super excited to try my first Spring 2016 Long Jing! Since I received this tea on Apr 4 in California, it must have been harvested in late March, which is a pretty early harvest.

Skipped the rinse and brewed at 175˚F.

1st infusion: (30s)
A bit light (try steeping for 35 next time), but the aroma and flavour are heavenly. Has that subtle buttery toast of sweet chestnut on the nose.

2nd infusion: (45s)
Sweetness is gone, but it’s still buttery and more savoury and vegetal so it tastes like popcorn. Lovely and interesting.

Flavors: Butter, Chestnut, Popcorn, Vegetal

175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 30 sec 2 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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I’m drinking the Autumn 2015 of this Light Roast Premium Tie Guan Yin from YunnanSourcing. Used about 4 – 5g in 150ml gaiwan. Skipped the rinse but poured slowly making sure to wet every rolled pellet.

Next time: Brew at 203˚F, for 20s / 30s / 45s / 65s.

1st infusion: (20s, 205˚F)
Wet leaf smells unpleasant, bitter metal. But the tea! It is roasty and buttery and sweet and floral but with that Wuyi oolong mineral / chocolatey bite all at the same time. Pale golden yellow liquor, just ambrosial. Juicy, full mouthfeel.

2nd infusion: (45s, 207˚F)
Tastes a tad bitter and metallic, I’ll try 30s and a lower temp next time.

3rd infusion: (50s, 204˚F)
Liquor smells very buttery. It’s mellow and pretty smooth, the bitterness is gone. I bet this is an amazing tea if I brew it right.

4th infusion: (lost track of time, 204˚F)
Sorry tea, I’m really not doing you justice today. But yeah it’s basically the hot water you get in Vietnamese restaurants now.

Rating: 87

Flavors: Butter, Floral, Metallic, Mineral

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 4 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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4/12/16: After more experimenting, I’ve come to the conclusion that you must RESPECT THE BREWING TIME to get the most out of this tea. It does not do so well brewed Western-style.
1st infusion: 10 – 15s
2nd infusion: 20 – 25s
3rd infusion: 30 – 40s
…and so on.

When you do that, this is an ace tea so I’ll increase my rating to 87. Temperature is less important; it tastes great at 195˚F or 205˚F or 212˚F. It also tastes good cold-brewed into iced tea.

Update: The regular grade “Da Hong Pao” is noticeably better than this tea so I’m downgrading this to 83.

I believe this is the Spring 2014 harvest of this “Light Roast Da Hong Pao Wuyi Shan Oolong” from Yunnan Sourcing. Dry leaf smells very similar to the Teavivre Da Hong Pao (out of the 3 大红袍s I’ve tried), intensely bitter chocolate.

Brewed 5g in 150ml thin porcelain gaiwan at around 203˚F. I skipped the rinse but got a bit nervous because the first infusion was very foamy, with some dark residue on the gaiwan lid
( ̄□ ̄;)!!

1st infusion: (15s)
Light on the flavour, but characteristic nutty “Da Hong Pao” flavour and is deliciously smooth. So ridiculously smooth I can’t believe it. I guess that’s what they meant by “Light Roast”. I am so happy I bought 100g of this!

2nd infusion: (35s)
Wet leaves have that burnt tobacco smell that is familiar, but also makes me want to try brewing this for 25s or at a lower temp like 195˚F next time. Turns out I needn’t have worried because the flavour is still very light, maybe a tad bit astringent. I can’t imagine how light this tea would taste if I had rinsed it for 10 seconds like they recommended!

3rd infusion: (60s)
It’s pretty light and sweeter now.

4th infusion: (2:00 at 210˚F)
Very light, but some fruity notes came out! I taste plum.

Verdict: Very pleasant, affordable everyday tea. Rating: 85

Flavors: Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Nutty, Plum, Roasted

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

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I bought this after a tasting of both this and its aged 1992 harvest, assuming this was the lesser of the two because it seemed to have sharper edges. The dry leaves have only a faint scent of malty chocolate, even when warmed.

Skipped rinse.

1st infusion: (1:45)
This infusion, standing alone, merits 95 points. It tastes creamy, rich, and sweet like a baked good (but not too sugary sweet like Song’s Shan Lin Xi Winter Sprout). There are notes of milk chocolate and graham cracker. The texture is insanely smooth, light, delicious yet unpretentious. I can’t wait to try this in an Yixing teapot.

2nd infusion: (2:05)
Smells roasty and comforting, like a malty milky beverage. Less sweet than 1st infusion, but equally smooth.

3rd infusion: (2:15)
Leaves are a beautiful coppery purple-green colour. They smell metallic, but liquor smells milky and buttery.

Flavors: Butter, Chocolate, Graham Cracker, Malt, Milk

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Overall I don’t think Bi Luo Chun is my favourite type of tea, but the Teavivre version seems to be higher quality than the “Supreme Bi Luo Chun” I got from Dragon Tea House. The leaves are more intact and tightly curled, less ‘dust’, and have a more intense fragrance; floral perfume.

I used about half the sample (3g) in my 150ml glass gaiwan and skipped the rinse.

1st infusion: (30s, 178˚F)
Nutty, slightly savoury aroma with light vegetable broth flavour, and fresh and clear like spring water. (The DTH 碧螺春 had cloudy suspension, probably from the tea ‘dust’.) Ever so slightly astringent, maybe I need to go down to 2g of leaf or lower the temperature.

2nd infusion: (50s, 177˚F)
This was pretty astringent and tastes “off”. I think I overleafed or maybe I need to brew this at 175˚. Will try experimenting with the second half of the sample but yeah, apparently I find 碧螺春s really difficult to brew! Sticking with Dragon Wells as my favourite green for now.

Flavors: Grass, Nuts, Vegetable Broth

3 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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Amateur tea enthusiast here. I told myself I would start with studying Chinese teas when I first encountered good tea at Song Tea in San Francisco in 2016, and it’s now 2023 and I feel like I’m still just beginning to scratch the surface of Chinese teas.

Maybe someday I will move on to Indian, Japanese, Korean, etc. teas…

For my day job I work in tech as well as write some fiction on the side.

The next step in my tea journey is to start training my nose with an aroma kit to get a more precise handle on floral notes.

My Tea Rating Scale: (adapted from @benmw)
100 : Unforgettable, life-changing tea experience.
95–99: Extraordinary – Beyond impressive.
90–94: Impressive – Deep complexity, extreme clarity, or unexpected discovery of wonderful flavor. Made me reconsider the category. Would always want to drink this if I had the chance.
80–89: Delicious – Nuanced, balanced, clear, and complex layering of flavors. Would probably buy this tea again.
70–79: Very Good – Nuanced flavors, perhaps not as balanced or complex as the next step up, but clear and very enjoyable. Would consider buying again if the price was right.
60–69: Good – Clear flavors, representative of the category, but doesn’t set a standard. Good as an everyday tea. Would not buy unless desperate (e.g. when travelling without access to better tea).
50–59: Average. Would not pay money for this, but would drink if it was provided FOC.
30–49: Below Average. Would not drink this again even if it were free.
0–29: Undrinkable. Could not even finish the cup.



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