2384 Tasting Notes

drank Prince Vladimir by Kusmi Tea
2384 tasting notes

Another sample gone and I am really happy with how the sipdowns are going!

I had this with breakfast today, and while it was tasty enough, it isn’t one I would buy again. I prefer Troika and Anastasia and a few other Kusmi blends to this one, but if you like holiday tea with clove in it, you might love this one more than I do.

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One year ago I said I was going to quit hoarding this, and never drank it again. I have been working so hard on sipdowns! I had enough leaf left for about four cups of tea and used half of it this morning. This is way out of date but it is still SO GOOD. It doesn’t have that sharp metallic edge I get in some flavored teas.

This is warm, sweet, creamy, and delicious. I will probably not remove it from my cupboard because I think this may have achieved desert island list status.

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drank Coconut Cream Pie by DAVIDsTEA
2384 tasting notes

This was a sipdown today and I see I never even added it to my cupboard.

I liked it fine in the past. It is definitely very coconuty and sweet. But this last bit in the pouch was so sweet my guest wouldn’t drink it and asked to pour it out! There was so much oil floating on top that I poured mine out about halfway through as well. I guess it would have been better to put it in a tin and occasionally turn it upside down to redistribute the ingredients.

If you love coconut and really sweet tea, you would love this! It is definitely dessert-like. Just a bit too much for me.

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I invited someone over for lunch and tea today – not a hardcore tea drinker. I asked what she usually drinks and she said she usually has a green or black, no milk or sugar. I assumed it was grocery store bags. I showed her my tea shelves and we started opening tins and sniffing, and she got excited about this one. We steeped this to have with….the same soup I mentioned in my first review of this tea. That was totally by accident, because when I made the soup to serve for lunch today I had no idea what tea we would be having!

She absolutely loved it. We drank LOTS of it. It has such a nice base. The smoke is just right. I do not like Lapsang that tastes like smoke and hot water. I really REALLY want a good base under the smoke and I want to taste the tea. My favorite smoky teas are this one, the Dammann Freres tea by the same name, and Russian Caravan by Grace Tea. This went so well with our meal.

After the meal we had matcha, Wenshan Baozhong, and Pu’er, not in that order. Maybe I will get around to reviewing how those went.

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drank Jin Jun Mei by Harney & Sons
2384 tasting notes

I made this gong fu style first and wrote a review for Sororitea Sisters. The following day I served it at tea time made western style and that is what I will address here.

First of all, I read a lot of hype of JJM and had high hopes. It is crazy expensive – $75 an ounce. No, I didn’t pay that. I used my reward points to buy a sample pack. I got one gong fu session and two large pots of tea out of the leaves when you include resteeps. The sample was $10. The two ounce tin is $149.

This was….good but not $75 an ounce good. It was savory like Zhen Qu from Southern Season and had hints of Golden Monkey flavors. I tried regular cups and Jianzhen cups. It just wasn’t the over-the-moon experience I was hoping it would be.

I served an out of date Tangerine White from Revolution as the other tea at tea time, and my guest said she preferred that to the JJM, and she is a black tea lover, preferring unflavored black most of all. That kind of says something.

Again, it wasn’t bad, but there are $6 an ounce teas that taste as good or better to me. I feel bad saying it because I love Harney and Sons and they and their teas have been great to me. Maybe my tastes are not refined enough to appreciate this tea. That is quite possible.
I wouldn’t mind hearing from a real JJM lover who has tried several and see how this compares for them.


Yikes! Real Jin Jun Mei is indeed expensive—Zhen Tea has 15 grams for $78. I haven’t tried anything of that quality, and the much cheaper version I had from Yunnan Sourcing wasn’t that exciting. You might have better luck with Old Ways Tea or other Wuyi-based vendors, which I’ve heard are somewhere in the middle in terms of price and quality. (I’d also like to know if the really expensive stuff is worth it.)


Yeah, for $3 per gram I would expect something quite out of ordinary too. Not sure Harney & Sons are the best source for that level of teas, though. I mean, I did see some quite expensive offerings on their site but was always skeptical about them.
Also, I am forever skeptical of Jin Jun Meis: they look to me as an attempt to rebrand tippy Lapsang Souchongs by giving them a sexy name and building up the hype. Still like them, though.


I must have missed the memo about JJM being related to Lapsang Souchong, which is a tea I like a lot when it’s unsmoked. Yunnan Sourcing has a few unsmoked Lapsangs that are both affordable and tasty.


Teavivre’s unsmoked Lapsang is cheaper and better than this one to me!


I’ve never had Teavivre’s unsmoked Lapsang; I might have to remedy that.


I will have to try Teavivre’s unsmoked Lapsang as well. Thank you. ^^


I second ashmanra: Teavivre’s Lapsang has been one of my favorites for years. It is quite complex for the price.


I can chime in a little on Jin Jun Mei, having tried a decent number over the past couple of years. In my opinion, Jin Jun Mei is a hot ticket tea for three primary reasons. The first is that black tea is becoming a bigger deal among tea drinkers in China, and Jin Jun Mei happens to be one of the newer black teas that just came along and got some attention at the time domestic interest in Chinese black tea was noticeably increasing. The second is that a number of more traditional Chinese tea reviewers and critics tend to heavily weight leaf grade and appearance in their evaluations of tea, and Jin Jun Mei is generally produced in grades that are considered desirable and attractive. The final reason is that “mi xiang” teas have recently become a huge craze among Chinese and Taiwanese tea drinkers, and Jin Jun Mei tends to have a natural honey scent and/or flavor, which producers and vendors have capitalized on in their marketing. Due to these and probably other factors, demand for Jin Jun Mei has skyrocketed, and prices have gone through the roof. The yearly Jin Jun Mei competitions in Wuyishan have become a huge deal, and should a tea place in the competition, expected demand drives price speculation through the roof. This, however, does not mean that lower grade teas cannot be just as good or better in terms of value for individual drinkers. Personally, I still prefer teas like Jin Mao Hou and Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong to Jin Jun Mei and refuse to pay ridiculous prices for competition Jin Jun Mei as the reputation of the producer and appearance of the leaf tend to be primary deciding factors in competition placement and thus the price point at which such high grade teas are sold. I also tend to evaluate teas based on a combination of aroma, flavor, and feel, so I have little reason to expect greatness out of teas that are exorbitantly priced due to evaluations primarily or wholly based on other characteristics. I think one’s primary consideration in tea reviewing should be how a tea strikes them at or around the time of consumption and not how special and great a certain tea is proclaimed to be and/or how it is priced. Having tried competition grade Jin Jun Mei (not awarded teas), I can honestly state that I have tried cheaper teas of the style that have struck me as being just as good or slightly better.

Roswell Strange

Thanks eastkyteaguy – I actually found that really informative and helpful! :)


Yes, indeed! Thank you, eastkyteaguy! Makes sense. The Teavivre unsmoked lapsang that I like is Xheng Shan Xiao Zhang, I believe. I prefer it to this JJM.


No problem. On a related note, black tea in China is very much subject to fads and crazes, much like pu-erh, Wuyi and Anxi oolongs, Fuding white teas, Keemun, and many of the more famous green teas. Right now, Jin Jun Mei is clearly a hot commodity. For some time there, it was Yunnan Dian Hong, though I do not know whether or not it ever commanded such ridiculous prices among tea vendors. Of course, Keemun has also long been a big deal. I have a feeling that once the Jin Jun Mei craze dies down, we’ll start seeing something like unsmoked lapsang souchong, Laoshan black, Phoenix black, or black Tieguanyin become the hot new thing. Smoked lapsang souchong is also worth keeping an eye on for the time being. It has long had a reputation as a lower end tea for Westerners, but it is actually becoming more popular in China. More vendors are starting to offer it. Oh, and if you are ever looking for something akin to Jin Jun Mei at a fraction of the price, check out Yin Jun Mei, which is Jin Jun Mei’s lower grade counterpart. Berylleb Tea and What-Cha both used to offer great ones.

Ilse Wouters

If I may say so : thank you for all these comments, it gives me quite a few ideas for teas to find, to try and to discover.

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I came on here excited to take this out of my cupboard as another sipdown, to discover that it wasn’t in my cupboard. My shelves and baskets DO look much better and from where I was standing I could count 96 teas with fourteen more in the living room and I wasn’t counting one other box plus my puerh stash.

The one is a lesson to me. It was a perfectly drinkable black tea to serve with lunch today, but it was way too old. When it was fresh, it was absolutely fantastic. It has faded to “just okay.” And that is my fault for buying too much tea. Lesson learned, and I am planning to continue whittling down my stash, giving away tea, icing the mediocre stuff, and making a really good list of shelf staples and having just a couple of additional just for fun teas on hand.

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I have had this tea for at least ten months. I don’t know quite what to say. It is….weird.

I LOVE most The O Dor teas, with some of the blends being right at the top of my list, but this one baffles me. I don’t hate it. I wish the tin was empty and I will be relieved when it is. It just tastes weird to me.

In spite of the ingredient list, it does not taste fruity to me. I don’t even know what it does taste like to me. Besides weird.

I tried it hot again a few days ago to see if maybe the first pot I made had been a fluke. Nope, still weird. So I decided to ice it and add sugar and while I WILL drink it just to be not wasteful, I groan when I open the fridge and see it. My husband says it is odd but he doesn’t mind it and is fine with drinking it iced until it is gone.

Yes, life is short and it would probably be better to just throw it away, but we really are not wasteful and try to use, mend, repair, redo, recycle….you get the idea. And as I said, it isn’t vile, it is just super weird tasting to me. I think I have enough leaf for about two gallons. That should use it all up within a week or two. We will see.

Martin Bednář

Interesting tea I must say. I have found some Czech store selling it too, but it is quite pricey. And I am not really sure if basil leaves and sweets can work together. I can imagine it is super weird for you :)


I also struggle to throw out tea that isn’t terrible but that I don’t like. I hope you get through this one soon!


Martin: I had no idea it was expensive because it was a gift. Even the person who gave it to me didn’t like it when we tried it the first time. I just made a whole gallon of it….iced and sweet. I decided I will probably just ditch the rest. When the smell of the tea makes your heart sink, why keep doing that to yourself? Ha ha! I wish I could taste the blackberry and raspberry that is supposed to be here.@“” I get is….weird.

Leafhopper: thanks! Command decision has been made to drink one more gallon and ditch the rest! When ice and sugar don’t help much, it needs to go.


That’s probably a wise decision!


Don’t dump it — it’s on my wishlist :) May I have it? I can send something in return.


Derk I would be thrilled to send it to you! Let me make sure I have your address! Or just PM it again!

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Today is mine and the Ashman’s 33rd anniversary. We are simple folk who like simple pleasures, so to celebrate we split an everything bagel from Panera at home. He picked up while I made tea.

Da Hong Pao teas can be so different from each other. I had one from a Chinese friend that was almost like drinking a cup of hot cocoa. This one reminds me more of a roasted Dong Ding.

We made three steeps Western style in an 18 ounce pot. Temp was about 190F and I kept it to 3 minutes.

This one really isn’t chocolate-y at all. The texture is thin but silky and goes down smoothly. It is heavily roasted as promised but isn’t smokey, just roasty. It is also a bit nutty, so toasted walnuts are coming to mind for me.

This is an older tea and I will be working on it as my next sipdown. I am eager to try it gongfu because I don’t think I have done that yet with this one. I bet it will be awesome.

Song pairing, cuz it is my anniversary and I am listening to this song over and over this morning. (He isn’t home right now so the repeat doesn’t bother him! I am not that cruel!)

We watch very little tv but we are enjoying this gentle little show.


Roswell Strange

I’ve never heard of the TV show, but the song was lovely! And happy anniversary :)


Happy anniversary! Sounds like a pleasant way to spend it.


Happy Anniversary <3


Happy Anniversary as well. We are spending ours in the mountains of West Jefferson this weekend.


Happy Anniversary, to you and yours ashmanra and mrmopar.

A heart-warming post and beautiful song on this Sunday morning. Thanks for sharing :)


Thank you, everyone! And happy anniversary to mrmopar and mrsmopar as well!


Hijacking a bit but thanks back to you all as well!


Happy anniversary!

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drank White Christmas by Harney & Sons
2384 tasting notes

So here is yet another tea I had failed to add to my cupboard. Although I am finishing teas faster than I am buying new ones, I still have too many and I am discovering a ton of them have never been added on here. I never add my samples anyway, so there are probably double the number listed in my cupboard.

Tonight was Bible study night, and a big part of our gathering is snacks and tea. We have a good kettle and there are some teas in the church kitchen but I usually take my own. Tonight I took this one.

Anyone expecting a white tea to be bland or light on flavor hasn’t reckoned on just how flavored this one is. The aroma while steeping is powerful chocolate and rich vanilla, really more of a white almond bark scent.

For sipping, this one keeps the almond bark vibe and is almost thick with the richness of the flavor, but the mint really makes a strong impression here. The mint lingers well past the vanilla and almond, so this doesn’t really get too heavy. It is a good tea for a flavored sachet.

The first time I ever had it was at the Barnes and Noble cafe. The only thing I could taste was paper cup, so I am glad I gave this a try at home.

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I am a music teacher, tutor, and former homeschool mom (25 years!) who started drinking loose leaf tea about ten years ago! My daughters and I have tea every day, and we are frequently joined by my students or friends for “tea time.” Now my hubby joins us, too. His tastes have evolved from Tetley with milk and sugar to mostly unadorned greens and oolongs.

We have learned so much history, geography, and culture in this journey.

I am also reviewing for Sororitea Sisters now!

My avatar is a mole in a teacup! Long story…


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