261 Tasting Notes


Parents received this as a gift so I’m using it as my daily drinker.

Pleasantly surprised because compared to the last Earl Grey I had (Gianfranco’s by Postcard Teas, a very fancy store), this is much more drinkable. The black tea is very mild and pleasantly sweet. Nothing strong, bitter or astringent here, though the citrus notes are also very faint (almost non-existent). But this is my perfect afternoon cup on fuss-free non-gongfu tea days.

195 °F / 90 °C

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Received this as a gift with purchase so perhaps I am more lenient than if I had paid for it. But I’ve drunk this at least a dozen more times over the past two years and find it quite pleasant as a daily drinker, not particularly astringent. If it matters, I live in a humid tropical country.

Tea Tasting Note: [[2020-11-25]]
- 3.8g in 75ml gaiwan [[Gongfu brewing]]
- Dry leaf smells incredible. I love how well-pressed it is – easy to get whole leaves out of the cake.
- Rinsed once
- First infusion (92˚C, 0:15)
- Pleasant and strong floral perfume, flavour is v light.
- Rating: 87
- Second infusion (94˚C, 0:18)
- Overbrewed already, orange colour. Bitter, dnf.
- Rating: 75
- Third infusion (94˚C, 0:15)
- Still slightly bitter but better, more like a later infusion of a green tea.
- Rating: 81
- Fourth infusion (92˚C, 0:15)
- A better green tea.
- Rating: 85
- Fifth infusion (94˚C, 0:16)
- Light flavour, but there’s an interesting new note in here I can’t place. I can push harder.
- Rating: 83
- Sixth infusion (95˚C, 0:23)
- A bit light, but very nice and perfectly serviceable daily drinker.
- Rating: 85
- Seventh infusion (97˚C, 0:35)
- A bit overbrewed.
- Rating: 81
- Eighth infusion (98˚C, 0:33)
- It can go longer but I gotta go start my day.
- Rating: 82

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Floral, Grassy

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 75 ML

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Tea Tasting Note: 2020-11-16

- 3.8g in 75ml gaiwan [[Gongfu brewing]]
- Dry leaf smells lovely tangy like sour plums
- No Rinse
- First infusion (90˚C, 0:10)
- Rating: 90
- Second infusion (91˚C, 0:15)
- Slight astringency but still refreshing, has that vegetal green raw pu-erh taste. Not sweet.
- Rating: 84
- Third infusion (91˚C, 0:16)
- Stands up to yoghurt and granola
- Rating: 84
- Fourth infusion (92˚C, 0:16)
- A bit of bitterness. Still really nice when cooled.
- Rating: 85
- Fifth infusion (92˚C, 0:18)
- Mellower, no bitterness. A bit of astringency (dry-mouth)
- Rating: 84
- Sixth infusion (93˚C, 0:20)
- Rating: 90
- Seventh infusion (93˚C, 0:25)
- Rating: 90
- Eighth infusion (94˚C, 0:32)
- Rating: 87
- Ninth infusion (95˚C, 0:35)
- Rating: 85
- Tenth infusion (95˚C, 0:40)
- Rating: 83
- Eleventh infusion (96˚C, 0:45)
- Rating: 84
- Twelfth infusion (97˚C, 0:40)
- Rating: 89
- Thirteenth infusion (97˚C, 0:45)
- Astringent again, pushed it too hard lol. Body is thin
- Rating:
- Fourteenth infusion (98˚C, 0:38)
- Lovely. Getting tea drunk.
- Rating: 90
- Fifteenth infusion (98˚C, 0:45)
- Rating: 87
- Sixteenth infusion (98˚C, 0:50)
- DNF.
- Rating: 83
- Seventeenth infusion (99˚C, 0:40)
- Rating: 84
- Eighteenth infusion (99˚C, 0:55)
- Rating: 86
- Nineteenth infusion (100˚C, 0:43)
- Rating: 84
- Twentieth infusion (100˚C, 0:50)
- Rating: 85
- Twenty-first infusion (100˚C, 1:05)
- Tastes straight up like a regular green tea now… 変なの...
- Rating: 85
- Twenty-second infusion (100˚C, 1:30)
- Rating: 84
- Twenty-third infusion (100˚C, 1:40)
- Rating: 84
- Twenty-fourth infusion (100˚C, 1:55)
- Rating:
- Twenty-fifth infusion (100˚C, 2:15)
- Rating:
- Twenty-sixth infusion (100˚C, 2:40)
- Rating: 83
- Twenty-seventh infusion (100˚C, 3:10)
- Rating: 83
- Twenty-eighth infusion (100˚C, 3:45)
- Honestly, it’s not letting up yet but I’m getting sick of tea for the day.
- Rating: 82

Flavors: Plum, Sour, Vegetal

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 75 ML

I’m pretty new to tea, and I just recently learned about steeping multiple times. Your log is fascinating. I have a question: When you say the 28th infusion was 3:45, does that mean you steeped it for 3 minutes and 45 seconds, or do I subtract the length of the 27th steep (3:10) to get the length of the 28th steep, which would be 35 seconds? I’m guessing it’s the first one, but I’m really not sure :)


Oh, good question! Yes I actually steeped it for 3 mins 45 s!


Cool, good to know! I usually just drink bagged teas, so I haven’t really needed multiple steeps yet, but I’m considering subscribing to a monthly box or something that will help me broaden my horizons.


Ah yes, that’s probably a great idea! Also, many good tea shops offer somewhat affordable sampler sets of “representative teas” for beginners to gongfu tea:


Happy steeping! :)

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My review is actually for the May 2020 picking of this Castleton Spring Chinary.

Had this in the morning – rushed to brew and store in a Thermos before taking our puppy to the vet for her spaying.

Absolutely gorgeous, full-flavoured Darjeeling – sweet, nutty, floral, and fruity. Really happy I picked up 100g of this in Teabox’s Cyber Monday sale.

Flavors: Almond, Flowers, Hazelnut, Nutty

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 45 sec 3 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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9 Sep 2020

- 7g in 230ml Yixing teapot [[Hybrid brewing]]

- Dry leaf smells nice.

- Rinsed once. Wet leaves have a mysterious, rich sweetness to them on top of the typical ‘crystal cavern’ clear mineral scent

- First infusion (95˚C, 25s):
- Wet leaves and Tea liquor both have incredibly distinct, beautiful aroma of honey dates. Super flavourful and sweet. The texture of this tea is silky and almost syrupy. Want to rate it a 95 already!

- Second infusion (96˚C, 45s):
- Now got more of that classic ‘astringent green tea’ aroma to it. Might have oversteeped a bit.

- Cold Brew (5 hours): Flavourful though not sweet, lovely body to it and no astringency (unlike another raw pu-erh I’ve cold-brewed).

- My Rating: 91

Notes: Honey Date, Mineral

Flavors: Dates, Mineral

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 7 g 8 OZ / 230 ML

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18 Sep 2020

6g in 230ml Yixing teapot [[Hybrid brewing]]

Dry leaf fragrance just jumps out at you – so sweet and fruity!

Rinsed once.

First infusion (95˚C, 30s): Wet leaf smells typical raw pu-erh, nothing to write home about. Liquor smells fruity and floral, a bit tangy (green mango). Flavours are really well-balanced and it’s comforting and warming. I like a lot! (But wouldn’t pay more than US$50 a cake – haha it costs US$53 for 400g, I’m spot-on!)

Second infusion (96˚C, 1:05): Liquor smells lovely, combination of florals (orchid, apparently) and toasted pastry. However, it tastes very astringent – I overbrewed. Will maybe go for 50s next time.

Verdict: I’ll try the 2014 Yunnan Sourcing Impression Raw Pu-erh (low-tier daily drinker) again and if I like this better than I’ll get it too as a Mid-tier daily drinker.

My Rating: 84

Flavors: Astringent, Green Apple, Orchid, Pastries

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 8 OZ / 230 ML

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- 5g in 230ml Yixing teapot
- Dry leaf smells divine – sweet fruity with subtle floral tea scent like a white tea
- Rinsed once. Wet leaves smell like clear crystal cavern of delights, fresh and sweet
- First infusion (95˚C, 20s).
- Wet leaf smells a little more spicy and peppery, not as sweet.
- Liquor smells faintly musty (like wet clothes left to dry indoors) and not particularly pleasant. Not much flavour or sweetness – I think I should have steeped for at least 30s.
- Second infusion (96˚C, 1:00)
- Wet leaf smells
- Liquor smells pleasant, sweet comforting herbal like grass jelly or something. Maybe this is the orchid scent??!!

- Cold Brew with the leaves (5 hours) Meh, too astringent.

Rating: 83

Flavors: Black Pepper, Herbaceous, Mineral, Musty, Orchid, Spicy

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 8 OZ / 230 ML

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1st infusion: Liquor fragrance: gorgeous pungent fragrance cempedak, jackfruit + malt barley. Taste: not flavourful or sweet.

2nd infusion: Now we have flavour!

Rating: 84

Flavors: Malt, Roasted Barley, Tropical

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 4 g 7 OZ / 220 ML

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Sampling this in my search for a fuss-free affordable raw pu-erh that I can throw 4-5g into my 230ml Yixing pot on a workday and not feel like it’s a shame to only get 2-3 infusions out of it. Like midway between Western-style and gongfu-style brewing.

Rinsed once.

1st infusion (95˚C, 30s): Wet leaf smells pleasant, fragrant. Liquor glows a beautiful amber colour and has a beautiful fruity-floral perfume to it – apricots, tangerines, green mango. Taste is a bit soapy / frothy though, and flavour is very light. Ooh okay now that it’s cooled down, it tastes really balanced (still subtle) and has a syrupy texture. Delightful!

2nd (96˚C, 45s): Wet leaf smells lovely. Liquor fragrance is fainter and more mellow / less sharp than the first. A browner amber colour, slight astringency.

3rd (98˚C, 80s): Liquor has same fragrance as 2nd infusion, and tastes slightly more bitter and astringent but also with an interesting marked smokiness. It reminds me of some kind of tangy ‘green mango’ green tea, and stimulates the production of saliva in a pleasant way.

Rating: 84

Flavors: Apricot, Floral, Green Apple, Orange, Smoke

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 8 OZ / 230 ML

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24 July 2020

Dancong oolongs are shapeshifters (much like sheng pu-erh) – starts off with a light fruitiness that is fairly unique to dancongs (but also reminiscent of a white tea or green tea), then evolves into the mature astringency of a sheng pu-erh and finally, an Wuyi oolong.

1st (181˚F, 15s): Wet leaf so sweet smells like prunes stewed in honey. The liquor is a gorgeous colour – clear champagne-y peach-y liquid.

2nd: (185˚F, 20s): Wet leaves already vegetal, mineral-y, not sweet anymore. The liquor aroma, though, is my happy place. Ambrosial – mangoes, sweet cream, plums, peaches, baking pastries, malt sugar, young florals. Colour is golden honey champagne with hint of redness like the inside of a plum. Tastes like perfumed fragrance, slightly sweet but slightly tart and astringent too.

3 (188˚F, 35s): Wet leaf: faraway smell of flowers in grassy meadow. Liquor smells still slightly sweet, but more mature florals. Tastes a bit vegetal and astringent, but still with some red fruit sweetness – like red grapeskins. Wonderful infusion.

4 (190˚F, 40s): Now a buttery / roasted fragrance has been coaxed from the leaves. Liquor tastes robust, roasty and nutty and bitter chocolate notes like a premium Wuyi oolong or Tieguanyin. Slight astringency and cacao nibs flavour. Liquor colour even resembles an Wuyi oolong now too – medium russet / chestnut colour. Ok a bit bitter and dry-mouth – like a sheng pu-erh.

5 (195˚F, 50s): Mineral spring water flavour and very familiar taste – OMG WHAT IS THIS. Kinda herbal and pleasantly bitter, and so smooth. Omg it tastes like a good craft beer. Has that hoppiness (flavourful but not yeasty), and amazing texture – smooth and astringent-dry and has the full body of a non-bubbly beer. I can’t believe this.

6 (200˚F, 55s): Liquor smell: More buttery goodness came out. Liquor taste: OMG suddenly more fruity sweetness has been coaxed out of these leaves from nowhere! In addition to the existing vegetal “sheng pu-erh” astringency.

7 (205˚F, 70s): Mineral-y.

7.5g in 170ml porcelain gaiwan
Rating: 99

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Butter, Cacao, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Floral, Grapes, Hops, Malt, Peach, Plum, Red Fruits, Vegetal

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 6 OZ / 170 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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