1630 Tasting Notes

drank Masala Chai by Simply Enjoy
1630 tasting notes

I usually don’t like chai, but I was pretty impressed with this one. It’s closer to an Indian style, so the ginger is more prominent than the cinnamon and cloves though all ingredients are easily tasted. This was a gift from my friend , and thank heavens it was a sachet I liked. This will help me be ready for school indefinitely.

Any way, I did this western soaking it to 3 minutes and fifteen seconds. I’m not entirely sure what the black tea body is, but is incredibly smooth and did not have the dry mouth effect that an Assam does. Probably a Ceylon, but could be something else. Like I said above, the ginger is a little more prominent which is in a nice combo with the other spices. They by no means detract from the black tea base but rather compliment it like they are supposed to. Most of the chai’s I’ve had taste like Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Fireballs in the most artificial way that you can think of. This one is truly more natural and rejuvenating, but relaxing.

I actually took a few sips of the tea pure and I can honestly drink it that way, but I added cream and sugar to see how it would taste. It was pretty good and very balanced, so I handed it off to my little brother because he likes his teas that way. Glad I have it.

Flavors: Cardamom, Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger, Smooth, Sweet

Boiling 3 min, 15 sec 8 OZ / 236 ML

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This was better than the previously aged Tie Guan Yin I’ve had, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. It has that stained wood quality that I’m not a huge fan of, but that note is made up for by its sweet, cedary character. I really understand why sandalwood would be the comparison for it’s spiciness. I made it gongfu, steaped for 30 seconds after five second rinse, and it is sweet and very similar to coffee, but not in a way that you would expect. It has the roasted, sweet berry acidity of coffee, but it tastes more like a coffee berry than anything else. So, surprisingly fruity. I would probably drink this more often in the winter, but not something that I would buy again. I honestly wanted just a sample, but got the full ounce on sale. I’m not sure if I want to steep it a third time though, because the woodsiness is still holding me back.

I think that this tea deserves a higher rating in quality between a 80-95, but in terms of taste, it’s closer to a 65-70 for me because of preference. It might be good western with cream and sugar, though that may be blasphemy. Maybe there are better ways of brewing it that I haven’t figured out yet.

Flavors: Berry, Coffee, Dark Wood, Earth, Sweet, Tar

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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I wish I bought this one instead as a full ounce instead of the green tea. Man, I really, really love this tea. It smells EXACTLY like chocolate. It’s a lot like the Laoshan Black, but this one is considerably smoother and the chocolate note is the most dominant. Laoshan’s have a rosier quality to me, but this one is sweeter and less astringent. So sweet.

Okay, how I did this one: 3-4 grams (about a tea spoon and a a third of one is what I actually measured-forgive me for my approximations) in seven ounces of water 200-190 degrees F.

Steep one, 5 seconds…choCOLATe…

Steep two at ten seconds, still chocolate but smooth with a weird fruitiness coming in. The sandalwood is there, but it is hard to describe its unusual presence. It’s not something that you obviously taste or immediately get, but it has a smooth, smokey quality that isn’t really smoky or burned in the least bit-roasted, yes, and smoother. It’s almost like a chocolate covered almond to me.

Steep three, 45 seconds, too faint, then upped it to a full minute. Chocolate is still there and oh so sweet, but more almond with a very approximate cherry aftertaste.

Steep four at three minutes. Faded, which is to be expected, but still very sweet and smooth. Not quite sure how to describe it, but it makes me feel so good.

Steep five at around five to six minutes. There’s still chocolate hanging around, but now it’s like a Dian Hong in its later infusions. It has predominantly sweet potato taste, and some caramel notes to it now that are a little bit more noticeable. My love is reaching interesting depths now.

Steep six boiling water at three minutes. Chocolate and toffee….
I should have realized that I would deeply enjoy this tea because I like Laoshan Blacks. Unlike the black, it’s smoother and doesn’t have the same astringency or malt. I think that the chocolate like taste is much easier to get and smell because it doesn’t have the fermentation to overwhelm it. I would recommend this to a newer to intermediate drinker, but it has to be brewed right or the notes would be lost. I would introduce Gongfu to a newer drinker with this one because it’s so sweet, and this one really allows one to enjoy pure tea. I think that a more experienced drinker would like it, and it’s more for someone who likes roasted oolongs or Laoshans. It does not have the same dehydrating effect for me whatsoever.

This is just my bias, and I hope that this tea gets a higher rating on here over time because I think that it really deserves it.

Flavors: Almond, Caramel, Cherry, Chocolate, Roasted, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 7 OZ / 207 ML

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I got this as a sample from my last order and boy, was it a generous sample. Thank you, David!

Anyway, this was another one that I was really curious to try. The notes on Verdant sold me, while the contradictory ones on here made me want to know more.

Dry leaf, I couldn’t really smell it, but the leaves looked like a greener version of a Wu Yi rock oolong. I steeped half a tablespoon of the fairly medium leaves for twenty seconds in eight ounces. The steam that rose was very floral to me like a forest, and very nutty. It was extremely similar to a Gui Fei. Then I sipped it down, and it had the same nutty, oddly sweet taste of a Gui Fei, but a bamboo woodsiness of a rock oolong. It was almost vegetal, but more so roasted and nutty. I can see why vanilla was noted because it has the creamy, cooling and sweet mouthfeel of vanilla, but doesn’t quite have the taste.

Steep two, 45 seconds, and a little too light. Steeped the rest of it for another fifty seconds. Much fainter this time, but had a toast, muffin quality to it. Some more of the vanilla mouthfeel.

Steep three, three minutes. There is a definite vanilla like smell, kinda creamy like jasmine. Sipped, and a little too light again. Another full minute. Still light, but floral that’s kinda close to the smell.

I had to stop there. I really enjoyed this one. It was sweet and had a fairly unique profile to it that again was between a rock oolong and a Gui Fei. Perhaps I should use more leaves and a little bit less water next time, but I still enjoyed it. Would recommend as something to try, but it would be up to mood, preference, and season like Fall or Summer to own.

Flavors: Floral, Nuts, Roasted, Smooth, Sweet, Toast, Vegetal

190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 15 sec 2 g 7 OZ / 207 ML

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I was really curious about this one, and since it was on sale, I decided to get an ounce. Starting off, the dry leaves are long and spindle like, scented very similar to a Yunnan White Moonlight but grassier. I added about a tablespoon of it, but not a full one because the leaves were so long.

I did pour 195 F hot water in for fifteen seconds, and drank it. It definitely taste like a green version of a Yunnan Moonlight. It has the weird, hay and creamy notes of one, but then it has a very grassy seaweed taste. I did the second steep for about 30 seconds and it was the same as the first.

I am glad that I tried it, but it’s not my favorite. I think that this is an amazing quality tea with a very unique, almost Pu-Erh type taste, though not one that I would drink often. I personally did not enjoy this one as much as I thought I would.

…now for the back note. I had to try it again. I used considerably less leaves this time, at around four grams with water at 180. First infusion after 30 seconds it was still the sea weed fishy grass I didn’t like. But I steeped it again at 50 seconds by accident, and it tasted like a green tea with a recognizable apricot note. It was way better. Third time at around three minutes, it kinda resembled a Sencha with more sea mist than weed, yet not quite as grassy or sweet. It still resembles a Yunnan Moonlight and really isn’t close to a Sencha, but again, there’s that maritime quality to it. The rating remains as a personal seventy for me, but I liked it more in the later infusions.

Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Cream, Grass, Hay, Seaweed, Umami

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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I like this one a lot, and makes me feel relieved in terms of budget. I was actually recommended this one as a bagged, and based on the descriptions of caramel, I had to try it.

First time, I tried to do it Gongfu, but wound up Western on accident. I definitely got something like a spicier yet lighter black tea, but the more subtle notes like caramel were overwhelmed after two minutes. There were even seaweed notes that were kinda good, but something I have to be in the mood for. It got sweeter in the later steeps with something that reminded me of a cooked cherry, but not entirely.

Finally got to do it Gongfu tonight, with a ten second rinse at 195 degrees, using six grams in six ounces. The first rinse had a taste that replicates rose water. This tea is VERY close to a Laoshan black because it has the same type of rosy, cooked fruit character. Laoshan’s are one of my favorites, and in comparison, this one is a lighter brother or cousin that does not have the robust malt or chocolate of a black. It also doesn’t have the same dehydrating effect that a black does.

Steep two, 30 seconds, and still very rosy with a faded molasses bitter sweetness. Steep three, a full minute, and darker, redder, and something closer to a black tea. Four at two minutes, and something like a cherry black, but lighter. Five at three, and cooked cherry.

I really liked this one, but it is a toss up. When I’m in the mood for it, I would probably rate this one a 90; when I’m not, an 80. I still need to figure out better steeping parameters for this one. It was sweet, but not as sweet as I was expecting. I didn’t get the full caramel or honey like described, so I’ll be back on this one pretty soon.

Flavors: Cherry, Molasses, Roasted, Rose, Salt, Seaweed, Smooth

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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I’m sure that the samples I had were probably of Spring 2015 itself, but this is what comes the closest to in terms of the tasting notes I looked up. The first time I steeped my first sample, I followed the instructions of four grams for six ounces of water, fifteen second rinse with 205 degrees F water, and got nothing. One bare note of creaminess. I steeped it twenty seconds. Still, bare creaminess and floral notes, but otherwise, hot water. Then I did something outrageously stupid: I upped the amount to seven grams of leaves, half of them dry, half of them not, and brewed for 3 minutes….still way to light and barely present in ANY flavor. Other than my shining example of burning impulse, I didn’t know what I did wrong. I could barely get a taste-I was drinking light flower water.

And so, I decided to get another sample as a freeby with my order. I honestly couldn’t let the backlog above as my impression for this tea. I knew it HAD to be better. It was. This time, I used the full seven gram sample for seven ounces of water near 190 degrees F. The dry leaf smell offered so much more than the previous one: a very distinct vanilla orchid aroma invited me. There was almost a jasmine like sweetness to it, and the smell was amplified once brewed in hot water.

I rinsed it for fifteen seconds, drank it, and decided to do it western. I was really hoping to do it Gongfu style, but the tea was not quite strong enough for me personally to do it that way. Steep one: one minute, and primarily orchid, some sweetness and creaminess, with a vanilla accent. The mouthfeel was light, yet smooth and creamy. I was hoping for a little bit more taste, but the aroma made up for it therapeutically. Steep two, near two minutes, still seven ounces like the rinse and steep one, and got the full profile. Orchid, cream, vanilla, and flowers. Steep three was pretty similar at three minutes, but more floral, peachy and green than creamy and vanilla, and not quite as sweet as say a lychee, honeysuckle like steep two. Now on steep four, it’s light, but creamy and peachy with an undying floral faint character. I’m not sure if I’m going for steep five, but this one has a purity that I can savor.

I honestly had really high expectations for this tea, and was more critical than I have been of others. Tie Guan Yin holds a very special place for me. I was introduced to Green Oolongs by it, and unlike all others I’ve had, Tie Guan Yins have a distinctly divine quality. If you want to believe in the legend that names this tea, it is indeed divine in nature.This tea was, or rather, is a gift from the Iron Goddess of Mercy,the Bodhisattva Guanyin. When I drink a good Tie Guan Yin, I immediately think of this legend, and feel as if I’m drinking something from heaven. This is the type of tea that I can meditate to, the kind of healer that purifies me of all the leaching negativity of daily life.

Again, I have very particular expectations, and this time, they were met. This is purity in a cup like a good Tie Guan Yin is supposed to be. There are others that I might recommend over this one, but very few that hard to come by. I’d still recommend it, though more so for an experienced drinker. I wish I knew how to steep it better Gongfu, and I honestly might not recommend this to a newer drinker because of inexperienced steeping parameters (as clear in my prior dunce).

Rating is a bit difficult for me on this one. I think that it deserves a range in the 90’s, but in terms of my preference for slightly stronger teas, I’m putting it at an 85.

Thank you David for this wonderful tea!

Flavors: Cream, Flowers, Grass, Orchid, Peach, Sweet, Vanilla

195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec 7 g 7 OZ / 207 ML

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Wow…this is by far one of my favorites that you’ve granted me, Liquid Proust. Rocks, leaves, cedar, and Fall are what I smell in the dry leaf. There was something familiar about this one, like one of the ones you made…I shall not tell.

With the few near-five grams I had, there was a need to make it Gongfu. I brewed five ounces of water heated to 195 degrees approximate, and steeped only fifteen seconds. It was creamy feeling and roasted, with the notes presented in the previous review. Cedar was distinguishable as a flavor, crisp and fragrant, but warm, and somehow sweet with an iron bite which showed up more in the second 25 second steep. The mouthfeel was almost buttery, and very similar to a Tie Guan Yin, but closer to a jin xuan.

It was consistent in the third steep at 50 seconds, but was closer to roasted nuts. I can see why people describe this tea as having a “cinnamon” note. It doesn’t really taste like cinnamon itself, but it has a weird, spicy metallic character that is very similar.

On the Tour of Oolongs, this is by far one of my favorites. I can now say that it’s an Oolong that I definitely prefer, especially compared to a Bai Hoa and the Li Shan’s I’ve had. I like the woodiness of the Wu Yi’s I’ve had, but the problem is, well, they taste like wood which is something I don’t always want to have. The Li Shan’s are usually hit or miss: they either have a sweet, almost fruity character and buttery mouth feel with some sort of floral aspect that I LOVE, or they taste like flavorless water with a salty or buttery texture.

This tea fits all of my preferences. It’s crisp and deceives me into thinking that it’s lighter, but it is more complex and sophisticated than presented. There’s full range of flavor and it is sweet enough to be perfect on its own. This tea could really be brewed Gongfu or Western, but I personally think that it is sweeter and more nuanced Gongfu while Western would be more robust and maybe earthier. Officially one of the best teas I’ve had because of its sophistication in the guise of nutty simplicity. I’m not sure who I’d recommend this to. I really think that this one would apply to a pretty broad audience.

Flavors: Cedar, Cinnamon, Metallic, Nuts, Roasted, Smooth, Sweet

190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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I was at a frozen yogurt place, and saw the options of tea they had, being all mighty leaf. I’ve always wondered about Houjicha and whether or not it does have a nuttier taste like people described. Well, I had a try western style keeping the bag in as I drank it. The leaves were fairly full in the sachet. I didn’t get too much of a smell because I was having some allergies. I also didn’t get too much of a taste either-it just tasted like a roasted green tea. But then I added a dash of honey, say a teaspoon, and it was much more complex. There was almost a butterscotch quality to it that I didn’t expect. It wasn’t overly sweet, not overly smokey. I enjoyed it, and it certainly satisfied my cravings for something smooth.

It’s a sad bit that the tea came out more with the honey. I prefer my teas without sweetener, but this one depended on the honey as a spotlight for the other notes. I’d maybe recommend it to a friend or someone who wants to try something different. However, this is great yet by no means a “wow”.

Flavors: Butterscotch, Green, Nuts, Roasted

190 °F / 87 °C 6 min, 0 sec 12 OZ / 354 ML

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drank Green Ginger by Tazo
1630 tasting notes

The version I’m reviewing is the re-released one. Again, I’m a sucker for ginger, and that’s the dominant flavor. The lemon grass adds a sweet, mild tartness that I actually like with the ginger. The green tea provides a fresh body for the ginger, but is slightly overwhelmed again by the ginger itself. You know for sure that you are drinking a green tea, but again, the ginger is dominant. I like this one on it’s own or with honey, and it’s actually pretty good for when I’m sick.

Definitely not the best tea I’ve had, albeit enjoyable nevertheless.

Flavors: Ginger, Green, Lemongrass

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 8 OZ / 236 ML

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First Off, Current Targets:

Whispering Pines Alice
Good Luxurious Work Teas
Wang Family’s Jasmine Shanlinxi
Spring, Winter Taiwan High Mountain Oolongs

Dislikes: Heavy Tannin, Astringency, Bitterness, or Fake Flavor, Overly herby herbal or aged teas

Picky with: Higher Oxidation Oolongs, Red Oolongs (Some I love, others give me headaches or are almost too sweet), Mint Teas

Currently, my stash is overflowing. Among my favorites are What-Cha’s Lishan Black, Amber Gaba Oolong, Lishan Oolong, Qilan Oolong, White Rhino, Kenya Silver Needle, Tong Mu Lapsang Black (Unsmoked); Whispering Pines Alice, Taiwanese Assam, Wang’s Shanlinxi, Cuifeng, Dayuling, Jasmine Shan Lin Xi; Beautiful Taiwan Tea Co.“Old Style” Dong Ding, Mandala Milk Oolong; Paru’s Milk Oolong


I am an MSU graduate, and current alternative ed. high school social studies and history teacher. I formerly minored in anthropology, and I love Egyptian and classical history. I love to read, write, draw, paint, sculpt, fence(with a sword), practice calisthenics on rings, lift weights, workout, relax, and drink a cuppa tea…or twenty.

I’ve been drinking green and black teas ever since I was little living in Hawaii. Eastern Asian influence was prominent with my friends and where I grew up, so I’ve been exposed to some tea culture at a young age. I’ve come a long way since I began on steepster and now drink most teas gong fu, especially oolong. Any tea that is naturally creamy, fruity, or sweet without a lot of added flavoring ranks as a must have for me. I also love black teas and dark oolongs with the elusive “cocoa” note. My favorites are lighter Earl Greys, some white teas like What-Cha’s Kenyan offerings, most Hong-Cha’s, darker Darjeelings, almost anything from Nepal, Green Shan Lin Xi’s, and Greener Dong Dings. I’m in the process of trying Alishan’s. I also tend to really enjoy Yunnan Black or Red teas and white teas. I’m pickier with other teas like chamomile, green teas, and Masalas among several.

I used to give ratings, but now I only rate teas that have a strong impression on me. If I really like it, I’ll write it down.

I’ll enjoy a tea almost no matter what, even if the purpose is more medicinal, for it is my truest vice and addiction.


Michigan, USA

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