542 Tasting Notes

drank Matcha Green Tea Jasmine by Ito En
542 tasting notes

Another ugly ass matcha green tea from today. This one’s pretty dang brown in my cup. It’s thick and very grassy and mineral with the jasmine scenting reminding me of cheap jasmine green teabags. Weird thing: some sencha can be buttery. This one is. The butter flavor and thickness do not mix well with jasmine scenting.

I feel very calm after drinking this one, just like I would drinking any other Japanese green with high theanine and catechin content. That’s a major plus.

Flavors: Bitter, Butter, Grass, Jasmine, Mineral, Thick

175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 30 sec 10 OZ / 295 ML

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drank Zen by Tazo
542 tasting notes

Ain’t gonna lie.

I like this and have always liked this. I might continue to like it forever more.

Good for a morning palate cleanser. Good for an afternoon pickmeup. Good for an evening cool down. Good iced.

Flavors: Grass, Green, Hot hay, Lemongrass, Mineral, Spearmint


One of my simple favorites, too. I learned to love it on the road at writers’ conferences where you have to drink out of either Styrofoam cups or one travel mug that hasn’t been properly washed … the spearmint overcomes those inconveniences.

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drank Reishi Matcha by Choice Organic Teas
542 tasting notes

Today is warm and sunny! I’m celebrating by drinking bagged green teas, haha!

First time I tried this, I followed the directions and it tasted like burnt dirt. Steeping matcha and sencha for 5 to 8 minutes with water initially boiling does nobody any favors!

This time, I steeped at 175F for 3 minutes. You see my “38” rating for this tea? I assigned it after drinking burnt dirt. Three minutes today produced a brew with the color and opacity of 38. On my screen I see a putrid yellow-brown. 38 reminds me of things only babies are capable of producing. Now think about looking down into a cupful of 38. Do you want to drink 38? Do you?

I do not. But I did. It is still gross. Tolerable at lower temperature and less time but it’s still 38. Maybe even lower but somewhere still in that color-rating span.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Burnt, Dirt, Earth, Marine, Straw, Thick


Nothing says YUM like burnt dirt.


lol tea-sipper… No kidding. Ick.


This tea might not have been very good, but your review was excellent!


I dropped the rest of this box in the break room tea stash. I am cruel, haha!

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Revisiting this tea somewhere around a year later. It’s certainly different than anything I’ve had before and I really enjoy it. Now that I am familiar with osmanthus after purchasing some in Chinatown, the aroma and flavor the flowers impart is very evident. The flowers I own are a sunny golden yellow; these are orange and have a slightly different, deeper flavor.

I find this tea to be very relaxing. It’s complementing a late-night winter reading session nicely. Still lots of chocolate in this tea but moreso in aroma than flavor as I’ve experienced in most of Verdant’s Laoshan black teas. This time around I’m also picking up on rye/pumpernickel and malt mid-mouth to back, and citrus/zest in the aftertaste. I suppose Verdant’s note of pomelo is apt but I’m not finding it as sweet — more like tangerine.

While the tea evolves little for an oolong, I am still intrigued by its profile. The osmanthus adds a dimension that I think really improves upon the Laoshan black tea taste. I wasn’t drawn in by the large number of samples I purchased from Verdant last year, but this one is highly enjoyable for its quirkiness and cha qi. I’d consider keeping a fresh quantity as a staple for winter should they continue to offer it.

Flavors: Camphor, Cherry, Cinnamon, Citrus, Citrus Zest, Dark Chocolate, Drying, Floral, Honey, Malt, Medicinal, Menthol, Metallic, Mineral, Orange, Osmanthus, Rye, Smooth, Tangy, Thick, Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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This is a pleasant and balanced Yiwu tea — balanced between thickness, softness, minerality, astringency, bitterness, throatfeel and aftertaste.

Beautiful and healthy velvety leaf. Fruity and syrupy aroma, often with fleeting florals. The flavors are definitely there, though maybe understated beyond the sweetness which is a mix of sweet vegetal and powdered sugar, and hints of caramel and stonefruit. The aftertaste is a dynamic and complex mix of fruits including concord grape skin, black plum/skin, apricot, peach, green melon, blueberry? and others I can’t pick out — perhaps something tropical — along with a light syrup-butter-caramel vibe. Some minty sweetness and cooling, for which this tea is named, does show up in the throat, though it is modest. The most pronounced aspect of this tea is also part of the aftertaste. I get a major floral violet impression from the lingering sweetness and purple-like bitterness and it’s downright awesome. It seems to be the base upon which the fruits mingle. Pleasant and relaxing energy that fills my whole body with a sense of comfort and heaviness. Overall, it’s a very balanced sheng that I would recommend to drinkers willing to pay the price but it is no longer available.

I tried to buy a whole cake without even ordering a sample (glorb knows why) but the inventory numbers lied, so I was stuck with a sample. I’m glad Bitterleaf was able to work that out with me because this tea is a treat.

Flavors: Apricot, Bitter, Blueberry, Butter, Caramel, Flan, Fruity, Grapes, Green Melons, Jasmine, Mineral, Mint, Orchid, Pancake Syrup, Pastries, Peach, Plums, Powdered sugar, Stonefruits, Straw, Strawberry, Sweet, Thick, Tropical, Vegetal, Violet

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 110 ML

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drank Oolong by Choice Organic Teas
542 tasting notes

‘No surprises’ dark oolong blended from Chinese and Indian leaf. Robust (yet flat) for an oolong with malty and woody/autumn leaf foremost and a playful cherry candy flavor. The cherry flavor is more pronounced in aroma. Medium body that finishes pretty clean and dry but can get bitter if oversteeped.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Candy, Cherry, Dark Wood, Malt

195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 10 OZ / 295 ML
Martin Bednář

I remember having this one from you. It wasn’t so bad. Though far from best.


I’ve got a box of this in my bag to take to work after the holidays. I’ll keep the “don’t oversteep” caution in mind…that happens often when I


(oops…hit enter too soon) … when I steep at my desk.

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Prepared according to direction and not for medicinal use.

It’s fairly light and nutty. Gently sweet with some bitterness on the swallow and a slight tart finish. There’s a creaminess that confuses me. It’s a strange one, like oat straw or milk thistle, like it’s vegetal-based, pervasive and binding rather than butterfat-based and distinctly apparent as I experience in many Taiwanese oolong. I assume it’s from the latex in the dandelion.

As a side thought, I really wonder what the chemical signature is for the cream aroma/flavor in Taiwanese oolong and how it compares to that of animal-based cream. Oh how’d I’d love to analyze the compounds in all the teas I drink by running infusion samples through a GC-MS machine.

Boiling 8 min or more 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Awake English Breakfast by Tazo
542 tasting notes

I’m surprised Awake has such a low rating. Bold, full-bodied, a bit oily with good depth between malt, brightness and an interesting spicy herbal quality that reminds me of oregano. Pairs really well with a farmer’s breakfast. This tea used to be an oft-employed kick in the pants for me.


I’m with you. This is a good’un for morning jump starts.

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There’s a lot of material in the sachet! I was expecting a very strong cup because of that but it was just a clean herbaceous, moderate intensity peppermint. Didn’t get stewy or biting sipped grandpa style in a large mug. Recommended for sippers who enjoy peppermint but don’t want to be blasted by menthol.

195 °F / 90 °C 8 min or more

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Just copying this from Random Steepings since I have positive identifcation by mrmopar.
Getting blasted on some shou from mrmopar. Labeled 2013 Hai Lang Hao Bulang Brick shou. Is it this: https://steepster.com/teas/hai-lang-hao-yunnan-sourcing/56059-2013-hai-lang-hao-bu-lang-old-tree-brick-ripe ? If so, I’ll transfer it over tomorrow and update after I brew this tea out.

It’s a brick, so the material is compact. I’m drinking alone with 10g in a 190mL teapot. Combine those two with this being a strong leaf — I can’t finish tonight but I do feel like making a note. I feel chest-forward. Lots of caffeine!

Dry leaf is sweet and earthy with vanilla, caramel, leather and a red berry undertone. Warmed is earth, leather, a bit of smoked meat and baked bread. A twenty second rinse brings out old books/paper again with earth and leather and the smell of baked bread in the distance. After the first steep, the steam coming from the pot has a very pungent quality almost like vinegar such that I instinctively twitch my nose and turn away. I feel silly and keep going back for more of that tangy twinge.

Smooth, mineral beginnings with the baked bread, leather and earth of the leaf and some cheesy nutritional yeast fermentation taste left behind from the rinse. Like I said, brick tea. Light clenching in the throat, warming and cooling, a bit oily. I wrote for a while after the first steep.

Second steep is clean, much darker since the material is finally opening up. I notice some wet basement, vanilla and caramel in the aroma. Same tastes but camphor dominates when the tea is still hot. It loses that quality as it cools. Tangy aftertaste with brown sugar-caramel returning sweetness. I moved from writing to getting lost in NPR Music Tiny (Ass) Desk Concerts for an hour.

Music pairing: Lizzo — NPR Music Tiny (Ass) Desk Concert
Watched her on Saturday Night Live last night.

Third steep is the same length as the second, 30-some seconds until the pot pours empty. The taste moves into a dominant starchy, potato-like taste and old wood with the earth and leather moving underneath. Returning sweetness develops into dates. This tea sits a bit raw in my stomach so I warmed up some soup. I read for another hour before deciding I should call it quits with tea tonight.

Book pairing: The Message Devotional Bible

And this is where I end for the evening. So far, recommended.
Update: Long-lasting, powerful shou that needs to be tamed with several shorter steepings early then pushed hard as soon the liquor begins to lighten. This tea was nothing out of the ordinary to me taste-wise but it was smooth, and at times oily in its delivery with no bitterness or astringency. More of a savory, leather/earth/tobacco/mineral profile with no fruitiness or sweetness. The returning sweetness became really pronounced with date sugar.

I was able to get 10 longer gongfu-timed infusions from the material, not including the 20s rinse and another 20s rinse to wake up the leaves the following day. Overall, I’d say try this for standard yet clean, powerful Bulang material. As of Dec 2019, this is $0.17 USD/g when purchased as the 2kg brick.

Boiling 10 g 6 OZ / 190 ML
Martin Bednář

What I should do with 2 kg of tea? :D


Group buy!

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Always up for a trade. I keep an updated cupboard. Check it out. Don’t be shy — message me if you want to try something! I send international :)

Most enjoyment:

Wuyi and Taiwanese oolong, sheng puerh, Yunnan and Wuyi blacks, GABA oolong. I also appreciate Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Darjeeling and Nepali teas, bagged tea and herbal teas/tisanes.

I take my teas without milks or sweeteners except sometimes chai and the rare London Fog, matcha latte and golden milk.

I’ll try anything once because it helps me learn. Not opposed to well placed herbs, flowers, fruity bits and flavorings, just nothing cloying. And no added sugars, sweeteners, candy or chocolate.

I abandoned both my preference reference and the recording of detailed steeping parameters in January 2020, favoring a focus on qualitative descriptions. At this point, I am still comfortable toggling the “Not/Recommended” button.

Preference reference:

100-90: A tea I can lose myself into. Something about it makes me slow down and appreciate not only the tea but all of life or a moment in time. If it’s a bagged or herbal tea, it’s of standout quality in comparison to similar items.
89-80: Fits my profile well enough to buy again. Some could be daily drinker teas.
79-70: Not a preferred tea. I might buy more or try a different harvest. Would gladly have a cup if offered.
69-60: Not necessarily a bad tea but one that I won’t buy again. Would have a cup if offered.
59-1: Lacking several elements, strangely clunky, possess off flavors/aroma/texture or something about it makes me not want to finish.
Unrated: Haven’t made up my mind or some other reason. If it’s puerh, I likely think it needs more age.


Sonoma County, California, USA

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