374 Tasting Notes


I recently got my first Jianshui teapot (which I am already in love with) and decided to have the first session in it with this tea. I think that having a dedicated (and beautiful) pot for Dan Cong oolongs will let me get more into them.

This Ba Xian is quite wonderful. The floral fragrance is magnificent, as is its extremely long aftertaste, and a silky soft and ‘misty’ mouthfeel.

Dry leaf aroma is quite medicinal, fruity, and sweet, while the wet leaf smell is more flowery I’d say. The taste has a plum sweetness, green bell pepper bitterness, and a vegetal note of dry grass, among many other flavours. It is a smooth drink with a nice honey finish. Aftertaste displays further notes like orange blossom, spices, wood, citrus zest, and celery stalk. Over time, it becomes increasingly floral and fragrant.

Flavors: Astringent, Biting, Bitter, Celery, Citrus Zest, Dry Grass, Floral, Flowers, Green Bell Peppers, Medicinal, Orange Blossom, Plums, Spices, Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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This tea has had a very interesting progression. I only had 25g of it that I finished today, but I think it aged in a very interesting way, so I may try to get a decent amount of a newer version for a little black tea aging experiment.

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I was not feeling the best today, so I took out this sample I got from derk thinking it could be a good tea to cheer me up and relax. I think that worked to some extent, the tea kept my attention for several hours and allowed my mind to abandon some toxic thoughts.

My main takeaway about the tea from this session is that it indeed has a strong cha qi, not really of the dreamy kind though. It did help dissolve my thoughts, but didn’t really enhance the creation of alternate reality to replace them. The other thing I will remember this tea for is how much it reminded me of Dan Cong oolongs, more than any other sheng I can remember. In particular, I got reminded of Dan Congs of the floral/vegetal/buttery kind. Personally, I didn’t find the bitterness overwhelming at all and the astringency was almost unnoticeable among other characteristics.

The tea has a piercing aroma of sauna, peat, coriander seeds, wood, incense and a hint of smoke initially. Later throughout the session, I also picked up distinct peach and pine scents. The taste starts off bitter, vegetal, and crisp with a significant walnut flavour. Around steep 4, it gets more tart and floral, displaying notes of citrus zest, parsley, light smoke and meat. Aftertaste is sweet and cooling with flavours such as peas and honey. It has a good huigan and longetivity, as one would expect in this price category.

The texture is very viscous and oily, but the liquor feels light in the mouth nonetheless. After swallowing, there is an interesting milky mouthfeel and a slightly cooling throatfeel. As I mentioned already, the cha qi is strong and grounding. Early on, the sensation involves a pressure in the head and I can feel blood pumping in my face. Then there is about half an hour that I have almost no recollection of. I did meditate a bit and then I might have been sleeping but maybe not, I really can’t remember. After I came back from the high, my whole body was incredibly warm and relaxed yet alert.

Flavors: Bitter, Butter, Citrus Zest, Coriander Seed, Floral, Honey, Meat, Parsley, Peach, Peas, Peat, Pine, Smoke, Tart, Vegetal, Walnut, Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

Hope you’re feeling better, Togo.

Something about this tea rang a bell for me. I bought a cake after having only one session and sending the rest of the sample packet to you. It’s interesting you said this puerh reminds you of a dancong; it did nothing of the sort for me, though maybe another year on record has transformed it. I look forward to breaking the cake soon.


I imagine it has changed faster being broken up than inside the cake, but I would be interested to know your thoughts when you revisit it. It’s definitely one of the best aged shengs I have tried. I reckon it probably rang a different bell for me than it did for you, but I have been coming back in my thoughts to yesterdays session, so it definitely left a mark :)

It’s crazy you sent me half of the sample you had, I am very grateful :)
I recently got more samples of aged pu’er as I am trying to explore the space and educate myself, so this fit into that objective as well.

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I find this DHP much less interesting than the 4 year older one. None of its qualities really caught my attention, maybe with the exception of the bubbly texture.

It still has some charcoal aroma, complemented by notes of cucumber, old books, moth balls, and very light cannabis. Wet leaves, on the other hand, smell of metallic, roasted pear, and ash. It’s a sweet, but not very pungent aroma. The taste is muted and somewhat boring – mostly woody and sour.

Flavors: Ash, Cannabis, Char, Cucumber, Metallic, Pear, Sour, Sweet, Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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Today I am tasting one of the very first tea cakes I bought. I am quite happy that it doesn’t seem to lose pungency in terms of its fragrance. It is, however, entering a sort of transition period in its development. The flavours are not as bright, although still quite vegetal. There is definitely a strong pine note in the finish and a distinctive lactose sweetness that I can’t quite recall from sessions a year ago. Overall, it is a very flavourful tea with good bitterness, sour grass note and a marine and yeasty character. It is also super smooth with an extremely soft and oily mouthfeel.

Flavors: Yeast

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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This is a very interesting green tea, which is quite different from the others I have had. I wasn’t sure how to brew it, but in the end I used 4g for this session in a 100 ml gaiwan with a fairly constant 80°C water. The infusion times were 60s/20s/30s/60s. It turned out well, but given the character of the tea, I think it can perform quite differently with other parameters.

Dry leaves smell of watermelon and popcorn, and in the preheated gaiwan also vegetables and spinach. Once wet, I get aromas of stewed carrots, beef broth, and gardenia flowers.

The first infusion is extremely smooth and full bodied with no astringency and only light bitterness. It tastes of sunflower seeds and broth with a slightly grassy finish. After swallowing, the tea is cooling in the throat and displays crisp sweetness with flavours of nuts and green apple.

Second steep has more astringency and lighter body. Higher notes are more present with a crisp profile and citrusy flavour. Aftertaste again has some sour green apple note, but is also reminiscent of copper, sand, and spices. Third steep is somewhat less interesting in this particular session, but it has a sweeter long-lasting aftertaste with a new melon flavour.

Finally, fourth infusion is again fairly distinct. It has a strong melon seed flavour and notable dryness, but overall is more savoury once again.

One final thing to note is that the tea has a strong cha qi for a green tea. It is relaxing and warming and makes me sweat.

Flavors: Broth, Carrot, Citrus, Drying, Flowers, Gardenias, Grass, Green Apple, Meat, Melon, Popcorn, Sweet, Umami, Vegetables

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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I got a sample of this tea earlier this year and after one session went and bought the cake straight away. It’s a pungent and clean tasting tea with a unique aroma, bitter and floral taste, and a lightly fruity aftertaste with a strong huigan. The price is relatively good at the moment as well, so I had no reason to hesitate. Interestingly, the leaves have a relatively dark olive green colour, darker than any young sheng from standard varietals that I can recall.

Starting with the dry leaf aroma, I can smell nuts, apricot and spinach most of all, but also some kind of flowery scent. The aroma of wet leaves is strong, complex and hard to identify. It is a little bit oolong like (think Taiwanese high mountain oolong without a lot of the florals). Some all-over-the-place fleeting notes I get include coffee, tangerine, stewed vegetables, and popcorn.

The rinse already gives a good impression of the tea’s taste profile. It is a mix of bitter, floral and sweet; very viscous and yet it feels light in the mouth. Later on the tea gets incredibly fragrant, but not as perfumy as some other Yi Wu shengs I’ve tried. Apart from that, it tastes grassy and woody, with a decent umami and notes of roasted nuts, white grapes, swiss chard, and burnt food. Deep bitterness persists throughout the whole session, but the tea never gets overly astringent.

Ding Jia Zhai is an all-round great tea, but its aftertaste is one of the highlights for sure. It has some spiciness and a kind of sticky sweetness to it. On top of that, a few fruity flavours emerge that are absent when drinking the tea, most notably tones of orange, grapefruit, pawpaw, and chamomile. The huigan is remarkable even relative to other (supposedly) gu shu teas. The flavours of this tea stay with you and slowly evolve for a long time.

Mouthfeel wise, I found the tea maybe a bit less interesting, but still very enjoyable. The texture is smooth and oily and the body is medium. As for the cha qi, this tea has a nice subtly creeping, calming energy that’s not rushy. It is not one that would send you to the stratosphere I reckon, but I like it. I think this would be a good tea for social occasions.

Song pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wxZ1DV9xO4

edit: I ended the session at 17 steeps today, but the tea seemed like it had a bit more to give, being still quite flavourful and thick even at these late stages.

Flavors: Apricot, Bitter, Burnt Food, Butter, Citrus, Coffee, Floral, Fruity, Grapefruit, Grass, Nuts, Orange, Popcorn, Roasted nuts, Smooth, Spinach, Sweet, Tropical, Umami, Vegetables, White Grapes, Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 3 OZ / 90 ML

If you like bitter yesheng the slumbering dragon is interesting and he has 17,18&19 harvests available. If you haven’t tried these it’s definitely interesting to do a vertical tasting of these as the bitterness fades quickly. It’s very expensive for yesheng but worth sampling


Thanks for the recommendation :)
I do have a sample of the 2017 harvest, but I wasn’t very impressed with it and actually haven’t found it very bitter at all.

I seem to prefer the Ye Sheng black teas to shengs, but I just got some aged Ye Sheng samples so I am curious to try those out :)

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I have been going through my CLT samples, thinking whether I should get any of the cakes, and I realized I never wrote a review for this one. It is among the better semi-aged teas I’ve tried, but the price reflects that as well.

The highlights of the tea for me are its flavour complexity and the cha qi. It also steeps for a long time. Even though I don’t find it quite as appealing taste & texture wise, I might get the cake with the current sale. I’ve been generally disappointed by CLT’s house productions, so I may not add anything else to the order. If you have any strong suggestions, let me know please :)

The aroma is deep and sweet with notes of rainforest, plum, fermented fruits, copper, thyme, honey, and a touch of lavender and nettle. Taste has a lot going on too. It is bittersweet, crisp and tannic overall with a good astringency. Over the course of the session I noted flavours of eucalyptus, autumn leaf pile, anise, grape skin, kombucha, chamomile, bread crust, walnut bread, rice paper, and red grape juice. Aftertaste continues with the impressive display of flavours, ranging from kale, to apricot and macadamia nuts. It is pungent and mineral, with a fairly long-lasting huigan and a camphor-like throat cooling quality.

Body is light to medium with a drying, bubbly mouthfeel that becomes a bit more milky mid session and silky at the end. The cha qi is noticeable and fast to appear. In my older notes, I described it as a full-body experience, but I am not sure I am getting that this session quite as much. I do get some slightly numbing sensations in my legs, but it seems mostly just very calming today.

Flavors: Anise, Apricot, Autumn Leaf Pile, Baked Bread, Biting, Bitter, Camphor, Drying, Eucalyptus, Grapes, Herbs, Honey, Kale, Lavender, Menthol, Metallic, Mint, Nuts, Plums, Rainforest, Rice, Stewed Fruits, Sweet, Tannic, Tea, Thyme, Walnut, Wet Rocks

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
TJ Elite

I ordered a sample of this around a year ago and recently received another one as a freebie with an order. It’s interesting to hear you call it complex. All my sessions with it I found it incredibly one-note. Brews for many infusions, but never really changed over the course of any of my sessions. Only my final session with it where I used clay and brewed it with a much heavier hand did it become more enjoyable. With my standard brewing style my first few sessions were rather weak and took ages to get going.


yeah, that’s interesting indeed. I think it happens to me sometimes that if a tea doesn’t pull me in at the start (which could be for many reasons) then I drink it with a different mindset (I think often unaware of the fact) and it will also affect how I approach it in the future (for example by drinking it at occasions when I specifically don’t want to give a tea my full attention).

But there’s big variance from session to session even for teas that I expect to be able to get a lot out of. In today’s session of this particular tea, more than half of the associations I mention above didn’t really stand out to me I’d say, they come from my first session with the tea, which happened quite a while ago in fact. And again, this is definitely a result of both external and internal (to the mind) factors I believe.

This is also partly (other reasons would be more abstract and ‘meta-physical’) the reason why I seem to think of tea reviews as much more subjective (or you could say relative) than most other people do (especially those who do not participate in such note-taking as some of us do here on Steepster).

TJ Elite

I usually base my reviews on my first session with a tea. I find that’s when I’m most attentive and most free of preconceived expectations (as much as one can). Every session that follows, I find myself comparing the tea to that first session, having expectations. I’m usually able to pick out only a fraction of the subtleties and various facets of the tea compared to the first session. With enough time having elapsed, memories faded and perhaps a different vessel to spice things up, I’m usually able to have a fresh perspective again. By that time the tea is likely to have changed notably anyway.

No two sessions with the same tea are the same, not even two sips from the same cup. Time, temperature and our own bodies and minds all play a role. Two people can be drinking the same tea and still perceive it differently, let alone people brewing it by themselves. A review is always going to be just a snapshot – one person’s perception of a tea over a single session or a period of time. Hopefully most people who have drunk enough tea, especially pu’er, can understand not to expect having a very specific kind of experience. Then again, even vendors are often filling people’s heads with expectations. I recently had Crimson Lotus’s Altered State – a tea advertised for its cha qi – and, well, it had no impact on me. I didn’t go in expecting it to and they do mention in the description that tea affects every person differently, but if I was a newcomer to the world of pu’er, I’d probably feel quite let down.

Flavor ranks close to the bottom nowadays when it comes to my appreciation of tea. To my surprise I’ve recently come to value aroma far more – the two have essentially swapped places as far as my priorities go. Tea is much more of a feeling. If a tea is really special, sometimes I can tell just by the first sip or two. Likewise, after a session I can tell if the tea was good by listening to my body. Even if my memory of the tea was wiped, 99% of the time I could tell what my impressions of it must’ve been by just how I’m feeling. That’s why my opinion of a tea seldom changes radically after the first session – even if the flavors I was getting were dramatically different, typically my overall opinion remains more or less the same.


Lovely notes on tea, TJ Elite. This comment make me appreciate tea even more. :D

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Holy cow, this tea is smoky. I got it as a sample from tperez and maybe the fact that it was stored broken up in a closed ziplock enhanced the smoky aspect of it, because this is extreme for a tea that’s not advertised to be intentionally smoked.

It’s not bad though, and definitely quite unique. Dry leaves smell of smoked bacon and even in the wet leaf it’s hard to get behind the smokiness, but there are some vegetal aspects to it. The taste is quite bitter and metallic, with notes of quinine, pine resin, mild yeast and a mix of sugarcane and pickles in the finish. Texture is nice – buttery, bubbly and fairly drying.

Flavors: Bitter, Dill, Metallic, Pine, Resin, Smoke, Sour, Sugarcane, Yeast

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 10 g 4 OZ / 130 ML

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oh. my. god. I have found my desert island tea. I think this is the first tea I could see myself drink every day and not get tired of, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, I’ve only had it twice by now.

This is yet another blind cake purchase and I don’t regret it one bit. This tea has everything, and I find it hard to believe that it could get even better in a couple months, let’s see.

The aroma is very clean and pungent, with notes of oak wood and moss. It is earthy, sweet and spicy. The liquor is full bodied and active, with an oily, lubricating mouthfeel. Both the aroma and texture are great, but the tea shines in its taste.

Overall, the profile is bitter, fruity and woody with light sweetness and tartness. The tea is bursting with strong and well-defined flavours. These include strawberry, celery, cedar wood, lamb meat, vanilla ice cream, and cognac among many others. In the very long and sweet aftertaste, I get further notes of honey, straw, chocolate, tomato vine, and various spices.

After drinking Purple Voodoo, I feel full of energy and my mind is more focused. The qi is good for working, but at the moment I find the tea too interesting to use for work. It asks for attention from me and I find it hard to refuse to pay attention to all its nuances. However, as I get to know it better, it could become a great tea to drink while working, albeit a little pricey for that.

Flavors: Bitter, Brandy, Cedar, Celery, Chocolate, Fruity, Honey, Meat, Moss, Oak wood, Plant Stems, Smooth, Spices, Straw, Strawberry, Sweet, Tart, Thick, Vanilla, Wood

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

I have the 2019 on order just from trying the 2018 blind. I can’t wait to see how it compares.

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Currently, I am a PhD student at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Ontario. Apart from teas and mathematics, I enjoy sports and traveling, as well as music of all kinds.

I have been a fan of green tea for a while and only recently (in 2017) started exploring other kinds of tea in greater depth. I rarely drink blends or white tea and avoid artificially scented teas. Other than that I try to keep it varied. The one thing that I am currently missing in my collection are teas from India, in particular some Darjeelings.

My rating description:
100 _ Unforgettable tea, an experience that changes your life.
90 – 100 _ Excellent tea.
80 – 90 _ Very enjoyable, I will buy again.
70 – 80 _ I enjoyed it, but I most likely won’t be buying it again.
60 – 70 _ Decent.
50 – 60 _ Average, forgettable.
40 – 50 _ I didn’t really like the tea, but it is drinkable.
0 – 40 _ I would prefer to avoid the tea.


Waterloo, ON, Canada

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