261 Tasting Notes

drank Eighteen by Song Tea & Ceramics
261 tasting notes

This second time brewing Eighteen, I lowered the temperature (waited 1 minute after boiling) and steeped it for a shorter time (1 minute, adding 15 seconds with each infusion).

First infusion: Smells wonderful. Still tastes a bit bitter, but the bitterness disappears when I pair it with my blueberry scone and it becomes a nice drinkable breakfast tea.

Second infusion: Perfection. No trace of bitterness any longer.

Third infusion: Similar to my first tasting of this tea, the fruitiness / sweetness is mostly gone and there’s just a fragrant vegetal tea scent remaining in the leaves and liquid.

Flavors: Cherry

200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 15 sec 3 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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A straightforward, wonderfully drinkable black tea. Very smooth, not bitter, full-flavoured and not weak. A go-to decaf tea for me. It smells more fragrant and tea-like than my Harney & Sons Decaf Earl Grey.

3 min, 15 sec 6 OZ / 177 ML

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My friend brought this to work and made me a cup with her gravity steeper. I got probably the 2nd or 3rd steeping. The jasmine fragrance is strong and wonderful; the taste is very subtle, great for a light tea in the mornings.

Flavors: Jasmine

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Strong intense smell, complex flavour. Says it has noted of lemongrass, muscovado sugar, and lemon custard but I don’t think I managed to catch all of that. It’s not a beginner’s red tea, in fact one of their most premium ones, but I actually preferred the simpler red tea “Eighteen” from the same store.

205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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This oolong smells amazing—notes of orchid, and buttery sweet rice mochi. Compared to its fragrance, its taste is a bit bland and anticlimactic although it is still nice, subtle and herbal.

Flavors: Butter, Cake

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Not much of a scent or flavour, and doesn’t really resemble tea but at least it’s smooth and not bitter. Good enough for an everyday tea, but I am on the lookout for something better. Wish I hadn’t bought a box of 50 bags on Amazon.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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I remember this tasting pretty vegetal, grassy and unmemorable for me. I personally would not buy it, but my partner, who is more of a tea connoisseur himself, liked this the most of all the teas we tasted at Song that day.

Flavors: Vegetal

5 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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Very subtle, floral, unobjectionable tea. On some sips it tasted pretty close to water though. We tasted two infusions.

Flavors: Floral

200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 30 sec 4 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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Note to self: Next time try brewing at 170˚F for 2 minutes.

Update: I brewed it correctly and it’s a nice simple tea to drink at work.

First infusion: 5oz of 175˚F water for 1:15. Beautiful aroma of jasmine, but the tea flavour is very subtle. Perhaps I should’ve brewed it hotter and for longer.

Second infusion: 5oz of 190˚F water for 1:30. Tastes slightly bitter, I probably burnt it a little. Fairly one-dimensional flavoured tea.

Third infusion: 5oz of 185˚F water. Tastes smooth and subtle, a bit watered down though. This is probably the last possible infusion this tea can handle.

Flavors: Jasmine

185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 30 sec 3 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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drank Eighteen by Song Tea & Ceramics
261 tasting notes

Note to self: For first infusion, brew this tea at 203˚F for 1 minute only.

This tea smells divine. 1st infusion smelled strongly of deep, woody, spicy maraschino cherry notes. Tasted of slightly bitter cherries, and really bitter when I drank it while eating an apple.

2nd infusion smelled more like spicy cardamom or nutmeg. Tasted bitter, I think I brewed it too hot and for too long.

3rd infusion I cooled the water a little more and brewed for 1:30 and it tasted fine even with the sweet doughnut. The leaves are beginning to smell vegetal without any more of the spicy cherry scent though.

I’ll have to try this again after I buy my temperature-control kettle.

Flavors: Cherry, Cherry Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 15 sec 4 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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