39 Tasting Notes


Tastes pleasantly of an oaky bourbon barrel and toasty/roasted oolong. What it reminds me most of is the 30-year aged Tieguanyin from Verdant — among my favorite teas. This one is not quite at that level, although I’m still working out the steeping time and temp, given that J-Tea’s site provides zero guidance.

Flavors: Oak, Roasted

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec 5 g 12 OZ / 360 ML

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Milky in aroma and on the palate, yet very timid in flavor overall. I wasn’t impressed. By no means offensive, it’s also by no means remarkable unless you appreciate watery subtlety.

Flavors: Milk

200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 45 sec 9 g 12 OZ / 360 ML

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The scent is vividly malted barley with a waft of sweetness and a hint of chocolate. It’s one of the few times I feel like a tea vendor totally nailed the scent/flavor profile in their description. There’s also a very Assam-like quality to it. Sipping your way through the tea, the barley is still the prominent note, together with the overlall Assam vibe. It’s also SUPER smooth. That said, the malted barley tone isn’t the most appealing flavor to me. I think I’d rather have a Formosa Assam, and at $46 for 2 oz., I can’t think of a reason to ever snag this again. Nice enough tea though.

Flavors: Malt

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 30 sec 6 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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I was pretty excited to try this tea, considering it was awarded two plum flowers in Lugu. It’s pretty ho-hum though. The first steep is a little funky and not so pleasant; perhaps I should have washed it. The second steep was better: grains, some milkiness, and earthiness. It didn’t taste as “alive” as some others I’ve been enjoying recently. An ok Dong Ding.

Flavors: Earth, Grain, Milk

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec 5 g 6 OZ / 180 ML

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The scent of the dry leaves is reminiscent of a delicious sheng pu’er + soap. Steeped, you can pick up on minty notes and soap. On the palate, you get the same: mint and soap with earthy notes. Did I mention the soap flavor? And yet I bought 2oz. of this, after a tasting at Song tea. I felt like it would be a good challenge to get to like it. And yet every time I drink it, I kind of hate it more.

I think my tongue has experienced just about every flavor the non-animal kingdom can throw at it, and to-date this tea and muguet/lily are the only natural flavors by which I’ve been revolted.

Note: There’s nothing “wrong” with the tea. It’s in fine shape and was clearly stored well. I just think it’s disgusting.

Flavors: Earth, Mint, Soap

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

Oh yes, that long-sought-after soap aroma

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I’m not a fan of Indian Assams, so I was excited to try this Formosa version to see if it could turn me around. It did. Gone is the disgusting bitter astringency of the Indian variety. What’s the left is a smooth, delicious Assam that is all you could hope for. There’s not much else to say. It’s a big favorite of mine for the first cup of the day.

Flavors: Fruity, Honey

205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 45 sec 7 g 12 OZ / 360 ML

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I purchased the Spring 2016 incarnation of this tea, and have now enjoyed it several times. The scent of the steeped tea is classic high mountain Taiwanese oolong: soothing and slightly milky. On the palate, I got quite a bit of florality, some fresh/vegetal elements, a light brown sugar vibe, and yet little to no milkiness. Very pleasant, but in the same genre, I still prefer Red Blossom’s Mi Xiang Tung Ting.

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Floral, Vegetal

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 5 g 6 OZ / 180 ML

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Among my favorites, this winter sprout tastes unmistakably like cotton candy. Not that it’s super sweet; it’s literally the flavor of cotton candy. And it’s very forgiving of temperature, even given how green it is. I used to be very careful with cooling the water to 205, but I’ve found you can just throw boiling water on and get what are arguably more interesting experiences out of it.

Flavors: Cotton Candy

205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec 6 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

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When I took a whiff of the steeped leaves, I suspected I was in for a treat. There was this autumnal quality — not spicy, but clearly warm and milky. And when I took my first sip I went, “Oh, yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.” It’s delicious. While Red Blossom’s site says orange blossom, honey, tropical fruit and buttered rum, I got exactly zero of those from it. What I did get was a florality, but it certainly wasn’t orange blossom + there was a flavor of what I can only describe as something exquisitely “comfortable”, milky, and like tonka beans or another baking spice nature has yet to invent. It’s as if I were drinking rice pudding in tea form. Hands down my favorite tea.

Every time I drink it now, I wonder if I’m really going to like it as much as I remember. I do. It’s amazing. And even as I purchase other mountain/high mountain Formosa oolongs, this is still by far the best example of them I’ve yet had. It’s silly how much better this is than all the others.

Flavors: Floral, Milk, Spices

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec 5 g 6 OZ / 180 ML

mmmm Buttered rum. Sounds delicious.

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The tasting notes on Red Blossom’s site make this tea seem like magic. And for $30/oz., I was expecting as much. Sadly, it’s quite bland. Smooth and pleasant enough, with the light taste of some indiscernible fruit, it’s nothing I would look forward to having again. Yet I bought a couple ounces, have had it a half-dozen times now, and will be clearing it out, little-by-little.

Revisting the tea a few times since I first reviewed it, I’ve found being more heavy-handed with the initial dose makes it much more interesting. It makes for a pricey cup of tea, but the appeal is there.

Flavors: Fruity

205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 6 OZ / 180 ML

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A pu’er from La Maison des Trois Thés is what got me into tea, about 5 years ago now. I not only had no idea tea could taste like that but that it could amplify the taste of food so incredibly.

Perhaps because pu’er hooked me, I actually find it less interesting, these days. Taiwanese high mountain oolongs are my newest fascination. Phoenix oolongs and Wuyi teas can be pretty great, as well. And I love Puttabong’s 1st flush Darjeeling, even if no one seems to care about Indian tea that much.

Although I’m a tea snob, I find a lot of the attention tea gets to be extremely pretentious. I genuinely believe if you’re routinely picking up 5 or 6 obvious notes that then shift with each steeping, you’re imagining things. I’ve had the good fortune to eat an inordinate variety of fine food, internationally, and I can usually only discern 2 or 3 notes in my teas; that’s more than enough to keep me fascinated.


95-100: I want to make babies with this tea.

90-94: Everyone should try this.

80-89: Great tea that I could drink every day.

70-79: Ehh. It’s good. I’ll drink it again, although doing so might bore me.

60-69: I’m not into this.

50-59: Gross.

Below 50: What did I just put in my mouth?


Portland, OR

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