This Tie Luo Han was a pretty nice Wuyi oolong. A good tea to have on a dark, cold morning pre-rain. I have a 2016 harvest.

The dry leaf smelled a lot to me like the crispy edges of pot brownies with notes of dark chocolate, roasted barley, cannabis, mint, burnt sugar, roasted walnut and dark roast coffee with faint cream. Warming the leaf brought forward mostly roast, bittersweet chocolate and light caramel.

The rinse produced a thick layer of saponins on the lid of the gaiwan and after a sniff, I decided to drink it. The liquor already had an array of flavors including roast, charcoal, oak wood, orchid, pomegranate, minerals, metal like steel, and coffee with hints of mandarin orange, sweet red raspberry and jasmine. Despite the flavors and some bitterness and astringency, the mouthfeel was rather clean and juicy and the liquor left behind a light oily glaze. There was also a soothing and light aroma of caramel, marshmallow and orchid. This all continued for several more steeps with the roast and char disappearing and the bitterness fading. The tea moved into a light juicy, fruity and sweet taste, with milk chocolate, sweet red raspberry and red apple moving forward and a light aftertaste of orchid. Toward the end, wood and grass became prominents with aftertastes of hazelnut, nutmeg and light, sweet cinnamon.

I found this Tie Luo Han to be a nice, smooth and rewarding tea once I found the brewing parameters that worked for my preferences. The tea is heavily roasted but also lightly oxidized, leaving a green spent leaf. After several tastings, I found that 8g of leaf and 200F water helped to reduce the green astringency and maximize the flavors. I’d recommend this to sippers with some experience and a willingness to play around and those who aren’t put off by the initial aspects imparted by a heavy roast.

Flavors: Bitter, Burnt Sugar, Cannabis, Caramel, Char, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Coffee, Cream, Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Drying, Grass, Hazelnut, Jasmine, Marshmallow, Metallic, Mineral, Mint, Nutmeg, Oak wood, Orange, Orchid, Raspberry, Red Apple, Roasted Barley, Smooth, Sweet, Walnut, Wood

200 °F / 93 °C 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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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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