258 Tasting Notes


Revisiting this tea on a rainy morning that sees my son home from preschool with a bit of the sniffles and feeling under the weather. To help combat that, I made us a smoothie this morning consisting of plain greek yogurt, almond milk, a banana, Amish jarred peaches, frozen blueberries, turmeric, and ginger with a squirt of honey. It was really good.

And to combat the rainy day, I have made a cup of one of my favorite styles of tea, Jasmine Pearls. There is something about good jasmine tea that just… gets me.

Gongfu style, first brew of 20 seconds. Yup. I remember why I love this so much. Thick and creamy mouthfeel. Delicious jasmine tea and flavor that is not overpowering or too weak. No bitterness. Wow, I nailed this first steep, if I do say so myself.

Second steep, 15 seconds. Pulled it back by about 5 seconds due to the leaves opening up. Scent is still nicely balanced. No bitterness in the liquid. I do think, however, that I could have let this go to 20 seconds and have gotten a flavor similar to the first steep. The flavor is still nice here, just not quite as thick or sweet. Still above average in flavor in scent, though.

3rd steep, 30 seconds. Scent is as strong as ever. The strength has come back a bit for this steep. A few seconds longer and I could see this turning a little bitter. But as it is, still very smooth and drinkable.

4th steep, 40 seconds. The scent still has such a creamy, sweet, jasmine scent. I love it. The flavor is still very nice and similar to the scent. I was actually expecting this steep to start the decline for this tea but not so. I would still drink this steep every time.

5th steep, 1 min. This tea has great longevity and consistency for its style.

6th steep, 90 seconds. Went to take a shower. Came back to this tea and now I am seeing the flavor start to fade which is fine. I feel I got more than I bargained for anyway.

I’m glad I revisited this tea (and that I have plenty left). It is a great option for a Jasmine Pearl and probably one of Adiagio’s best offerings that I have had.

Flavors: Creamy, Floral, Jasmine, Sweet

190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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This tea is so surprisingly good. I believe this is the tea I got from the Beginners Puerh TTB. I brewed it gong fu this morning with my friend Rose and we were both taken aback by the smell and flavor of this tea. Burnt caramel (in the best way possible) was what this reminded me of. Malty, sugary sweet, and rich in depth. I even over steeped this on the third steep by a good minute or two because I was distracted with conversation and, while strong, it still gave a great flavor with no real hint of bitterness.

I want to order this tea. Better yet, if you are someone who has it and does not care for it, please let me know. I will gladly take it off your hands :)

Flavors: Caramel, Malt, Sweet

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Finishing the last of this today. It is a truly fantastic tea. It is roasty and rich, has a slightly smokey flavor, and reminds me a bit of coffee in a really good way. No bitterness, just smooth. I am contemplating ordering more of this right now. It is just so damn good.

Flavors: Coffee, Roasted, Smoke

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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I am enjoying this tea this morning with the success of having my new John Deere riding lawn mower just delivered. My wife and I moved into our new house in November. We went from having a yard that was maybe 40×50 feet and only needed a manual push blade mower to having an acre and a quarter. And with spring coming on this purchase was much needed.

So I decided to do what any Steepster-ite would do in celebration and brew up a nice strong pot of tea. I pulled this Feng Qing Gold Needle out because I wanted a no fuss tea. It was the right choice. Brewing this up in the manner I did (5g in 8oz water for about 2 minutes) produced a wonderfully smooth and flavorful cuppa. Dark in color and rich in malty black tea flavor, the smoothness of this steep caught me off guard. I didn’t expect it to be so. I bought a couple ounces of this tea because it seemed like a fairly cheap but good quality every day type of tea. I’m glad I did. I’m thoroughly enjoying it this morning. I might even go back and buy more. Which is saying a lot of a variety hound like myself.

Flavors: Malt

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec 5 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
White Antlers

Congrats on the mower. Using it will afford you numerous cold brewing opportunities. :-)

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This may be one of the more dramatic cases I’ve seen of the differences a tea can have when brewed gongfu vs western style.

This time I brewed it gongfu and did steeps of 1 min, 1 min, 1:30, and 1:30. A much fuller, richer flavor appeared in all steeps. The liquid was thick and coated the mouth with sweetness. I cannot say I would recommend brewing this Western style after experiencing it gongfu. My rating jumped up after this experience.

Flavors: Honey, Malt

205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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I am sampling this from the Beginner Puerh TTB.

I don’t get much smell from the dry leaf but after a flash rinse, I am getting a smokey and earthy scent from the wet leaves.

1st steep, 10 seconds. Liquor is a pale yellow, almost peach color. Liquor scent has a slight earthy, slightly… fruity(?) scent to it. I understand that the puerh nugget hasn’t quite broken up yet but the liquor flavor is very light, airy, and smooth. Little earthy flavor. A slight sweet coating on the back of the throat.

2nd steep, 15 seconds. Liquor is slightly darker now. The flavor is much of the same. I suspect the tea nugget will break up upon the 3rd steep, judging by its integrity at this point. Perhaps that will see an increase in flavor and color. Not that I’m complaining. I enjoy the mellow sweetness so far.

3rd steep, 15 seconds. While the tea didn’t break up on this steep, I am starting to see more darkness being released into the water. It is looking now like a cinnamon reddish-brown. There is slightly more earthy/moss flavor here.

Took a nice little 3 hour break here to take the kids to a movie. But now, I’m back on the horse.

4th steep, 20 seconds. Now we are getting into some darkness. I might confuse the liquid for a lighter roasted coffee at this point, in terms of color. Flavorwise, it is still fairly light handed with the earthy tones, smooth, and sweet coating on the back of the throat. Or maybe that is the leftover pop and popcorn being washed down. I must say though, this shu is surprising me.

5th steep, 25 seconds. Deep and dark ruby red. Sweet earthy tones. Smooth as ever. Tea nugget is still mostly in tact. Uh-oh, I might be in this one for the long haul! Fine by me.

1,2, skip a few, 99, 100.

I’m not quite sure how many steeps I ended up getting from this serving since I ended up stretching it throughout the day and kept coming back to it. But, I will say that overall this is a very smooth and long lasting shu that I am very happy I took a sample of.

Flavors: Earth, Sweet

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

One of my faves for shou.


Yeah, I was really impressed with it. I guess I wasn’t expecting much but it gave me a pleasant surprise.


They made them in 2008 and I think the last time since was 2012. I got 2 from 2008 and I bought 3 2012’s to age.


How are the 2012’s looking compared to the 2008’s?


I haven’t gotten into them yet. Still aging away.


Here is one on eBay from a private seller. Looks legit and cheaper than most on there.

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I found this tea in the Beginners Puerh TTB. I actually have to credit Just John a bit for my new found love of whites, the moonlight variety especially. We swapped and he sent me a moonlight white that opened my eyes to the possibly depths of flavor there.

I steeped 4g in about 10-12oz of 180F water for 5 minutes, then 7, then 10.

Full disclosure: I was giving my wife a back massage using a Lavender and Chamomile massage oil and I brewed this tea as the “finishing touches” to the candle lit spa like experience. So, while drinking it, I believe the scent and possibly by extension the taste was a bit marred by that.

Overall, I was a bit underwhelmed with this tea. There was some nice flavor, sure. But it didn’t have an oomph or wow factor to it. I’d like to say it was delicate but I don’t want to confuse delicate for slightly bland. And again, perhaps the tasting was altered by the scent on my hands. Perhaps I just didn’t get the brewing parameters right. But, I don’t have any more sample on hand to play with and quite honestly I’m not sure this tea has convinced me to buy some in order to play with it. Especially not for the price I’m seeing it listed at.

I’m not usually this harsh on reviews but I was excited for this one and ended up not feeling it.

Flavors: Barnyard, Hay, Peach

180 °F / 82 °C 5 min, 0 sec 4 g 10 OZ / 295 ML
Dr Jim

Lucky wife

White Antlers

Dr. Jim, you read my mind. How many folks give their spouse a back rub with the whole spa experience?

Tea and Cheese Lover

Happy wife = Happy life


Haha. Yeah, well she is pretty amazing and treats me very well so I try to keep her happy. Massages are one of her favorite things ever so I actually took a class a few years back to learn some different massage techniques. Hate to have that go to waste so I usually give her a massage a few times a week, give or take. I just like making her happy.

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Thanks to Lion for this sample! What an interesting tea this is. Looks like an oolong but apparently is a red tea.

Did a flash steep in 190 F. First infusion of about 15 seconds in the gaiwan. Liquor color is a pale blonde… much like a lightly oxidized oolong. A delicious light sweetness fills the cup. It coats the tongue and throat.

Second steep, 20 sec. Honestly, the wet leaves smell so much like an oolong. Are we SURE this is a red tea? Haha. The sweetness stays here. The scent has an almost hay like quality to it so when I’m drinking this steep there is a play of sweet hay balance going on here. I really am enjoying this.

Third steep, 25 sec. On the third steep, you can see the leaves unfurl and actually start to look like a red (black) tea. The liquor has darkened up slightly to a honey gold color. The sweetness is still there. I got a very small note of tang/sour on the front end but I might have missed it if I weren’t paying attention enough to write this review. The coating sweetness still is the prominent feature here.

This tea petered out after about 4 steeps. I’m sure I could get some more steeps but I might be sacrificing quality at that point. Overall, I am really happy I was able to try this tea. It has a very natural sweet quality to it that I enjoy.

Flavors: Hay, Sweet

190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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drank Morning Sun by Mandala Tea
258 tasting notes

Thanks to Nicole for the sample!

This is a beautiful tea. The gold and black curled leafs are absolutely gorgeous both dry and wet/unfurled. I didn’t get my smell in the way of the dry leaf (possibly because it was just a sample size as opposed to a bag full) but the wet leaf smelled deliciously malty.

I brewed this first sample taste Western and did 3 steeps of 1,2, and 5. All three steeps were dark and flavorful. Malty and sweet, this tea was close to exactly what I wanted it to be. I would strongly consider buying an ounce or two of this tea.

Flavors: Malt

205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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I received this tea as a sampler in an order. I really love Moonlight Whites so I was pretty excited to see this arrive in the mail.

This isn’t going to be an in depth review because I am drinking it while watching The Walking Dead. It is very good though. Good enough that I felt it deserved at least an actual review mention.

Seriously, if you like Moonlight Whites and you understand the quality that Brenden brings to his tea than you know why you need to pick this up.

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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Michigander, Husband, father of three, lover of tea, books, nature, gardening, and passion. Stay at home dad currently. Previously a preschool teacher.

I have now completed some tea swaps and I am so totally up for swapping! What a cool way to connect with fellow tea lovers and try some new teas. My tea cupboard on here is woefully out of date though.

Black tea has been my go to tea for some time. Oolongs are good too but mainly roasty oolongs. I’m finding that there are some green and white teas (mostly Moonlight Whites) that impress me lately which they never used to do. I am getting into and developing a taste for Pu-erh. I have tried raw and my Ulcerative Colitis just can’t handle the roughness of it. So I stick to ripe Puerh. I am recently drinking more herbal tea or Rooibos especially STRONG ginger blends. I’m not too picky.

Some of my favorite places from which to purchase tea are Whispering Pines Tea Co, Verdant, A Quarter to Tea, Beautiful Taiwan Tea Co, Bitterleaf Tea, and Yunnan Sourcing.

Rating system:
90-100: Some of the best I’ve ever had. I’d be a fool not to keep it stocked as often as possible
80-89: A damn good tea. Not to be missed
70-79: A good tea but lacks the wow factor. More than likely a simple tea that could be an every day option
60-69: Eh. This is okay. Not swill by any means but fairly underwhelming.
50-59: Not really doing it for me. I’ll finish it but please don’t bring me any more.
Below 50: Life is too short to waste on things such as this


Lansing, Michigan

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