28 Tasting Notes

drank Golden Eyebrow by Goldfish Tea
28 tasting notes

This was the final tea that I tasted while at the Goldfish Tea shop. I have been drinking a lot of the “Precious Eyebrows” Chun Mee from Enjoyingtea.com recently, so the association piqued my interest. However, the teas could not be more different.

First off, this is a black tea. And there is no mistaking that fact when you take your first sip! It is robust with a full flavor that sparkles its way up into your nose and back down your windpipe. Yet for a black tea, there is definitely a delicate side to it and after a few sips, the flavor really mellows out. There is a complex sweetness to it that combines just a hint of floral nectar with some broad dessert flavors.

Tasting Notes: Leather, earthy carob, hazelnut, chocolate cake, caramel, lilac, celery.

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drank Milk Oolong by Goldfish Tea
28 tasting notes

Milk ooooooooolong! Yeah, I am a total sucker for almost any milk oolong and this was no exception.

I ordered this cup early in the morning at the cafe and it was so enlivening to encounter the smell of fresh cut hay, which was then followed by that sweetened condensed milk flavor. It reminded me of when I first moved to Colorado, shaking off sleep with a cup of hot coffee in the back of a pickup truck on the way to the farm. There was always that moment when your sense of smell would come to and you could appreciate the fragrant traces of dried grass in the air before it became overwhelming.

There was also a hint of spiciness in this that reminded me of a Thai Iced Tea. Other tasting notes: Cinnamon, anise, lychee, orange blossom water.

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drank Tie Guan Yin by Goldfish Tea
28 tasting notes

I recently took a trip up to Detroit and randomly came across this truly amazing tea shop in the suburb of Royal Oak. The setting was both relaxing and sumptuous, with every inch covered in gorgeous teaware, asian scrolls and statuettes, hand carved and beautifully stained wooden furniture, silk upholstery, and of course – tea! The space is a great size, with many seating arrangements: cafe tables, raised decks with low tables for sitting cross-legged on pillows, and even big comfy chairs divided by bamboo beads for privacy. Like any coffee shop worth it’s salt there was a small library of books and board games and several framed posters showcasing maps and images of Chinese tea history. The staff was very knowledgable about their teas and also friendly! Finally, when you order the tea, it comes out on wooden or bamboo trays in either beautifully decorated china for black tea or clay tea cups for oolong (maybe glass for green and flowering teas?). You also get a digital timer for your extra steeps, which you can refill at the water bar that has multiple faucets, each gauged to a different temperature specific to what kind of tea you are drinking! They really thought of everything here! A very fun and unique experience…But now on to the teas!

The first tea I tried was the Tie Guan Yin “A” (A and B designated high-grade and mid-grade quality for certain teas). I was very impressed by this one. There was an enormous range of subtle flavors, the most prominent being a light floral taste like the smell of hyacinth and rose. There were some exotic peppercorn notes, as well as other spices like lemon myrtle, eucalyptus and cinnamon floating about in the savor. All of it was all tied together fascinatingly by a sweet umami quality that had individual characteristics like rock sugar, fish oil and tar. I’m sure the latter two sound really strange, but they were not in any way unpleasant – more like a delicate pungency that helped to bond the other disparate flavors, the same way that anchovies work in a Caesar salad. Definitely a new candidate for a sparkling flavor experience.

I tried two other teas while I was there and even brought home a few, so I will have some other reviews for Goldfish Teas coming soon. They have an online store if you are interested in trying and I’m sure with a phone call you could negotiate some of the newer products they have in stock for shipping – such as their Crab Leg Tea, which is not even a tea but actually a parasitic orchid that grows on ancient tea trees!


sounds like a great place!

Tea and Trees

I’m surprised you enjoyed it so much! I’m really not a fan…

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I have not been that much of a fan of Shu Cha (ripe/cooked pu’erh) until trying this one. I have said it before and I will say it again, the mysteries of pu’erh are never ending!

8 steeps, 10-35 seconds.

1. Wash.
2. A rich, musty smell and a dark amber color. Fairly mild flavor, but with some chocolate notes in the taste! Despite the “ancient” smell that many pu’erhs have (including this one), the taste has strangely made the flavor of my water even cleaner than when drinking it plain. This is a difficult quality to wrap my head around, as I have no idea how a tea can give off the flavor of fresh spring water, while adding such a dark red color to it. But that is what I taste. There is also a kind of nutmeg spice aftertaste, sort of like mexican hot chocolate.
3. Darker color, yet distinctively cleaner taste with this next steep. This is one of the most palatable Shu pu’erhs I have had yet. Though it definitely tastes better when the water has cooled a little. When hot it gives off a slightly bitter smell, like an unripe avocado.
4. An agave sweetness emerges with a hint of red pepper.
5. Sweeter still! This cup leaves a satisfying taste in the back of my throat, like after a filling sushi meal.
6. Suddenly, all the color has gone out and is now very pale. The taste is still fairly sweet with a hint of salty as well. The sweetness has come around to something that reminds of blueberries without the tartness.
7. Same.
8. Same, but less.

Other tasting notes: Vanilla, hazelnut, avocado pit.


What about teaware/water setup used in this ?


As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I don’t use a temperature gauge when brewing tea for just myself. If I am holding a tea ceremony (an extremely rare event nowadays) I might break out the gauge, but usually I try and limit the amount of apparatuses necessary for my own personal tea enjoyment.
Now of course, I don’t the water to ruin my tea, so instead I use an estimation system. I typically bring my kettle to a full boil, then pour the water into a glass pitcher, where I will let it sit for maybe 2 minutes before black tea, 5 minutes before oolong, 8 minutes before green tea, etc. All of this is just approximate. For a shu pu’erh brick like the one above, I probably won’t let the water sit for too long, as I have been advised that pu’erh should be brewed fairly hot (around 212 F, which is where water boils).
My teaware setup for this brew was a Yixing clay teapot poured into glazed tea cups.


OK, thanks.

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This is hands down my favorite blend ever. There are so many distinct tastes that have melded into a single superb fusion. The flavors you will notice immediately are the tastes of chocolate milk, cinnamon and candy apple. Beyond that there is marigold, chinese 5 spice, a tiny hint of root beer, and even an ancient pu’erh flavor (I’m guessing this is the “curiosity”). There is even a slightly crisp vegetal taste hidden in there as well. And at the bottom of the cup: a syrupy bitterness like the last sip of a fine espresso. Another sparkling flavor combination!

What is sparkling flavor, you ask? It has been a continuing exploration for me to find out what this tasting note actually means, and here is my latest update: First off, I drink a lot of sparkling water, soda water, etc. Not only does it satisfy my thirst, but it also gives me that relaxing effervescence in my chest as it goes down. I have heard that sparkling water also aids digestion because the bubbles help to break down your food. While I am no expert, I am inclined to believe this is true based on personal experience. And although I have never associated this same feeling with tea, now that I am aware of it, I have shared this experience in a slightly modified way. However, certain symptoms remain: The saturated savor at the tip of your tongue and the soothing sparkle throughout your body.

It’s hard to explain, but for me, there is something beyond inspiriting in this blend. While the caffeine combination of the teas plus cacoa nibs gets your blood pumping, the flavors send pleasant but conflicting signals of relaxation to your brain. Your heart skips a beat and suddenly you find that you can only breathe out but not back in again. We all know this feeling – but in a tea?? If this tea was a very attractive kitty cat, then yes of course all of this would make sense. But alas it is not. It’s a beverage – we consume it and five minutes later it’s gone. But thankfully these leaves are most certainly built for multiple steeps… Sorry Triple-C, I’m quite fond of you, but it’s back into the boiling hot water for now!

Other tasting notes: Licorice, molasses, sugar snap pea, acorn squash, taro chip

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drank Chun Mee by EnjoyingTea.com
28 tasting notes

Nutty, smoky but sweet. This is a great everyday green tea. It is less sweet and slightly more smoky than other greens, so a perfect switch for black tea drinkers. It can withstand a large range of steep times and water temperatures and remains palatable even when bitter. The flavors are not at all one-sided, nor are they too elaborate. This tea will definitely keep me coming back for more. Also, I love the Chinese name for this tea: “Precious Eyebrows”!

Tasting notes: Grass, linen, honey, celery, kale, hickory

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This is one of those teas that is very enjoyable yet difficult to describe. It is a mild woodsy tea that would best be compared to a soothing cup of broth or the warm feeling one gets after drinking hot sake.

First cup. Western Style. Steep 2 minutes.
Upon the first sip, a rush of grass and barley flavors. As the temperature cools, the taste becomes more balanced. Despite not being sweet or pungent in any way, there is a juicy consistency to the liquor that is refreshing. And yet there is something very pragmatic in the demeanor of this tea. A philosopher’s drink no doubt.

Second cup. Western Style. Steep 2 minutes.
The flavor does not come leaping out of the gates as it did the first time round. There are some buttery notes with this infusion.

Third cup. Western Style. Steep 3 minutes
Halfway through the cup a light peppercorn sensation emerged. All in all, the third cup is very similar to the second, which means that I could probably continue steeping, but I think that’s enough for now!

Other tasting notes: Cedar, artichoke, sesame, soy

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What a fascinating tea! Thanks to both Geoffrey and David for the insightful information about this tea’s extraordinary and rare history. I really enjoyed reading everyone’s saga of complexity with their tasting notes. Here’s what I experienced, cup by cup:

8 steeps, 8-40 seconds.
The first thing that hit me when I opened the bag was a smell that reminded me of the tea at the Chinese restaurant my parents always brought me to when I was a kid. I take this to be a very good sign. Now on to the taste.

1. Grassy white tea with floral notes.
2. A bitter smokiness emerges.
3. Dark & smoky, but a nutty vegetal flavor emerges, like green beans.
4. A citrus smell is now standing out, with a flavor like zubrowka – vanilla, buffalo grass.
5. A faint lilac begins to pop out.
6. More vanilla, macadamia.
7. Caramel & rock candy.
8. The aroma of fennel and just a hint of sarsaparilla.
The scent of the leaves after steeping: Grapefruit, fennel, earth.

What an elaborate network of flavors! Great by itself or as an accompaniment to a spicy meal. Both captivating and calming all at once.

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11 steeps, 5-45 seconds.

Started off by giving this tea two 5 second washes because I had a feeling it was going to take a while for the ball to expand. Which it did. The color began as a light amber, but on the third cup, everything changed to a ruddy burnt umber color. Even the texture thickened. For a second, I thought I was pouring out water from a clay river.

At first the taste was the spiceless earthy flavor of many ripe pu’erhs. Which is to say not much excitement at all for my western taste buds. The fourth and fifth cups yielded some odd metallic notes, but after that it sweetened up a bit, reminding me of honeybush tea (especially with the color). Shortly after this, I detected another distressing toxic flavor that gave me an ugly feeling in the back of my throat. This was when I put the tea down for the night and let the leaves rest. But being the glutton for punishment that I sometimes am, and really wanting to give this pu’erh it’s due, I rinsed the leaves off in hot water and charged them back up for 4 more brews over breakfast the next day. By the seventh or eighth cup (total), an enjoyable masa (corn flour) taste developed. Toward the last good steep there was a brief maple flavor that developed, but like most of the other notes, it was nearly undetectable. Then, on the tenth steep, the color went out almost entirely and I was pouring out nearly clear water. I tried one more steep just to be sure, but that was that. The leaves turned off just as shockingly as they had turned on in their burst of crimson.

So based on this one experience, it was a rather unpredictable and unenjoyable tea. Did I do something wrong? I was really pushing myself to find some redeeming qualities, but maybe this tea is just not for me.


I know some pu erhs to taste odd because they haven’t been aired and stored properly. Could this be the problem?


It shipped to me from china in a pretty flimsy plastic bag. No idea how it was stored before that. What is the best method to air the tea?


Pu erh should be stored in a clean environment (as it absorbs smells and flavours if kept with other items). My Chinese friend said that paper is fantastic for storing your tea in but it’s not that easy or practical for me so I keep mine in a small cardboard box in my kitchen. It can get the air around it to help mature it but also to help it stay fresh. Plastic is a no no for the tea as it’s not natural, meaning the tea may gain the smell and taste of plastic over time. A sugar or coffee canister should be fine as long as it’s made of natural material such as wood. Don’t store anywhere too hot, too cold, too bright or smelly. The more airtight the container is the slower the aging process shall be. Clay jar… paper bag..anything natural :) I rambled on but I hope you understand what I mean.


Wow thanks! I will have to get all my pu’erh out of the plastic asap! So what is the consensus on storing pu’erh with other pu’erh? Wouldn’t the smell of one pu’erh impart its flavors to another? It just doesn’t seem reasonable to have a perfectly sized box for each individual cake or mini tuo cha.


I store all of my pu erh together but each type is separated by paper (just wrapped around like an individual parcel). They don’t seem to change in fragrance or flavour as I can still tell the difference. But I agree it’s not very practical to have a kitchen full of boxes each with a tea inside. I have over 50 different varieties of pu erh and I only have a tiny kitchen lol.


Haha. That is awesome. Thanks so much for all the insight!


Hi, this tea ball was stored in a tree bark tube originally. As my personal experiences I would prefer steeping it with over boild water(big bubbles), wash and risen it for 3-4 times before drinking. And steep it 10-10-20-20-30-40-50secs-this tea ball could normally be re-steeped for for 8-10 times. But I strongly recommend not keeping the infusions over night. And yes, airing pu-erh for over a week could reduce the old,oxidized taste. But normally airing process is for tea cakes, bricks and Tuo.

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