64 Tasting Notes

drank Jasmine Dragon Tears by Pekko Teas
64 tasting notes

Steepster! It’s been far too long! I seem to have come across a great deal of bad luck recently. First my favorite glass kettle broke, then a stomach virus, then some common cold. Needless to say, tea has been a bit out of reach for me recently. :( But I’m back! And with a new Utilitea kettle to boot! I have a lot of catching up to do, and this sample was the first I tried when I well enough to taste “real” tea.

I thank Pekko Teas for this sample, and I must say I’m impressed. This is a tea with an awesome name and a taste to match. The jasmine flavoring is just that: it isn’t overbearing and allows the tea leaves to exert their influence wonderfully. I’m constantly sickened by jasmine “scented” teas that give me a headache and make me feel like I’m drinking perfume. This certainly isn’t one of those.

I use about 18-20 pearls in a 100mL gaiwan with very short steeps at ~175 degrees F. (5", 5", 4", 5", 5", 6", 8", 10", 14", 22", ~35") —> That’s usually the pattern I use, sometimes performing a bit longer steep for the first one to allow the leaves to unroll further.

The liquor has a medium body and a smooth and buttery mouthfeel. Prominent tastes include vegetal, steamed greens (a rotation of asparagus, green beans, and spinach throughout steeps), and honey in addition to a humble jasmine tone. In further steeps, a parsley spiciness and cool minty effect come into play. Only the fifth steep has ever been bitter to me, and it’s hardly noticeable. Throughout the ten steeps I can usually get out of these pearls, the flavor never reaches that astringent and earthy taste that I’ve noticed some jasmine greens revert to midsteep. Instead, an deep earthiness climbs out of the aromas. But with the sweet, waxy floral scents, the lid of my gaiwan smelled like planting flowers after removing them fresh from the pot. Smells of sweet, moist earth and intense florals.

The aroma of the wet leaves is top notch. It has that brilliant mixture of deep vegetal greens, sweet honey, and penetrating florals. It’s a particular scent that is essential for jasmine teas to have for me to love it. The leaves themselves are somewhat questionable to me, however. They appear a bit faded and drab, like the color was leeched out of them. The are, however, very clean: very few particles and broken leaves or stems.

Overall, a tea that is quickly becoming a favorite of mine!

175 °F / 79 °C

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drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
64 tasting notes

This is another sample (Thanks Verdant Tea!) I drank long ago. It was definitely a fantastic experience. I really love the leaves of this one. The aroma is simple and delectable, with scents of dark chocolate and honey. The small, twisted leaves shining with this midnight-blue sheen when in the light is eye candy. When wet, they gave off an aroma that was literally chocolate. Not even “like” chocolate. This was a milk chocolate with almonds Hershey’s bar ground up and placed in my gaiwan. Mmmmm! At this point the artful twisting of the leaves is very apparent. The twists were so fine that the leaves looked like pieces of yarn. I’m amazed by the skill and care of the He family farmers.

The resulting liquor smelled like pure tea and cocoa, and a bit like a high roast dan cong. So far, sooo good! The appearance was a light caramel, butterscotch color, which gradually turned darker with increased tones of amber as the steeping progressed. My first sip tasted a bit metallic, but it was soon forgotten with the flood of heavenly flavors. It was like drinking thick and creamy hot cocoa with milk and a chocolate syrup drizzle, with a few marshmallows plopped in for good measure. Underneath, tones of pure tea and caramel wafted through the nasal cavity after a sip. The next steep was headier, and a bit coarser in the mouthfeel; it matched perfectly with the introduction of oak wood and a gentle sprinkling of spices. It took me back to my Boy Scout days during winter camp, sitting by an oak wood fire drinking hot chocolate or chai after a long, cold day, reveling in the warmth that crept back into my fingers.

The steeps kept coming and coming as the body became further balanced and the mouthfeel increased in spiciness. The liquor became more malty, producing something smooth and creamy. The hot cocoa flavors gradually transformed into something reminding me of crispy chocolate chips, like when you leave chocolate chip cookies in the oven for a bit too long. Very yummy.

Further steeps tasted more or less the same, eventually fading out and losing strength past 10 or so steeps (I kind of lost count and stopped taking notes and just tried submerge myself in the lovely aromas and flavors). I absolutely love the depth and complexity of this tea. It sticks with a theme throughout every steep, doesn’t disappoint, and excites every sense.


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I tried this one a while back, but haven’t had any time to log anything recently. As I think back on the time I drank this, I remember being much happier with it than my notes seem to show. But I was listening to Queen songs on repeat while I drank, so I’m sure that had something to do with the discrepancy. :D

Overall this one was pleasant enough, but not incredibly exciting. I used the whole sample in a 100 mL gaiwan, which came out to be about a third of the way full. The dry leaves had a very sweet aroma, with that characteristic “old” smell very prominent. It also had this “seltzer-y” characteristic, like that smell of club soda. The aroma rounded off with undertones of avocado, old books, and this light sour smell. The leaves were very tightly compacted, appearing almost fused.

The wet leaves were powerfully earthy, very musty, with aromas of peat and dusty old books. After steeping, the leaves pretty much looked like mulch. And there were tons of empty stems. And I mean tons.

Transferring over to the liquor, that sour smell from the dry leaves became very powerful after the liquor was drained from the empty cup. Otherwise, the liquor itself smelled very similar to the wet leaves. The liquor appeared as this extremely red-tinged burgundy color that became nearly black during the middle steeps. It made this beautiful red ring of liquor around the lid of the gaiwan while it was steeping.

As for flavor, the first and second steep were probably the most interesting, at five and twenty seconds respectively. The taste was most predominately earthy. It really packed a punch. However, there were delicate traces of avocado and smoky notes, with a nice sweetness that rounded things out. The second steep was more or less the same, but with additions of peat, salt, and must. The mouthfeel was very smooth and mellow, and it left a spicy aftertaste that could be felt in the back of the throat. However, the body was quite flat for both steeps.

The third steep was the same as the second flavor-wise, but the avocado tones disappeared. The texture became a bit unpleasant—oily and slippery. This was probably the last interesting steep. I went for seven steeps, but I was reallyyy dragging it out (the seventh steep lasted 10 minutes) just to see if I could pull anything interesting out in the end. Instead, I received a taste that was like wet cardboard. Bleh. The mouthfeel became a bit intriguing. Tingling sensations grew in strength into the sixth steep, with a cooling sensation in the fourth. Other than that, however, I didn’t get much from this tea, leaving me a bit disappointed.


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I’ll apologize ahead of time for this rambling…

Ahhh pu’er, you have redeemed yourself. I drank this sample from Esgreen last week, and I was supremely happy with the little cake. The cake was well-compressed and has a faint smell of old leather. I followed Esgreen’s instructions and plopped the little guy in my 100ml gaiwan. I heated my water up to boiling and poured it over the cake, releasing strong fumes of smoke, sweet damp earth, mushrooms, and peat. I took a bamboo chopstick and began breaking up the cake during a ten second wash. This is where the fun really began with me. I don’t know why, but there’s something so enjoyable in this activity.

I poured out the wash and was astonished by this ruddy, rust-tinted, incredibly dark broth. I was thinking that the “10g” cake in such a small volume of water would produce something pretty potent, so unsure of whether to stick with the 20 second initial steep, I took a sip of the wash. Barely anything. The body was actually smooth and creamy despite the overly weak body. With regained confidence, I steeped out a 20 second brew.

And I thought the wash was dark. This was THICK. Not only was the mouthfeel smooth and incredibly thick, the broth poured out of the gaiwan was highly viscous and murky. I took a tentative sip and was rewarded with a well-rounded flavor. Peat and earth flavors were mirrored with smoke and camphor tastes, while salty, almost caramel-y notes brought up the rear. There was also this faint nuance that with the immense thickness of the broth reminded me somewhat of cream of mushroom soup. After swallowing, I was greeted with a tingling tip of the tongue and a unique minty-cooling sensation on the sides of my lips. Excited, I went on to steep number two.

The peaty/earthy notes climbed and burst forth throughout a sip. The smoky notes became quite potent and caught in the nasal cavity. Camphor notes decreased, while a small amount of bitterness surfaced, along with a subtle metallic feel. At this point, the tea’s physiological effects came into play, and I started zoning out, becoming mesmerized by the tea oils. They were so delicate, the translucent spindles dancing under the rising steam against this unfathomably dark background of the broth. I snapped to, took another sip, and tried detecting an aftertaste…and realized there was barely anything. The flavors of this tea evaporate after a sip, leaving almost nothing lingering besides a very, very faint salted caramel flavor. Ah well.

The next steep resulted in essentially the same brew, but with a reduced bitterness. But wow, my head was feeling so thick and heavy. I was becoming so relaxed from this tea. I poured out another steep. A very prominent sweetness broke off from the earthy flavor as a new woodiness began to climb from the bottom. As I was appreciating this new sweetness, I closed my eyes…and found it difficult to reopen them. Why was I so sleepy? I debated taking a nap and starting back where I left off, but brushed off the idea.

The next steep was spectacular. A new sparkling texture arose, with thick sweetness, a more subdued smokiness, increased camphor and wood flavors, a reduced saltiness, and an addition of this ripe fruit taste. Mmmm such a nice balance.

Steep six. Supposedly the last quality steep according to Esgreen. I was anxious to see how this lovely would fizzle out. I soon realized that “fizzle” was a poor verb here. Perhaps sizzle? I was greeted with a great deal of spice, a decent amount of earthiness, and the aroma and flavors of cedar chips and wood shavings. The mouthfeel became extra tingly with that spicy feel on the sides of the tongue. After this, I thought there had to be more.

I quickly prepared a seventh steep. What resulted was a bright and warm brew. Spicy notes increased along with cedar and oaky goodness. earth and peat notes were subdued and smoke flavors were diminished. I could tell my tea was dying, but with great dignity. The texture was as tingly as ever and still sparkling. On a side note, I was becoming even sleepier, the tea seemed to be sucking my energy as it’s own was reduced.

I thought, let’s go for one more. After a seemingly endless time of five and a half minutes, steep eight was ready. Alas, poor Mini Bing! I knew him, Steepsterites; a fellow of infinite depth, of most excellent flavor… He faded out with notes of cedar, aged leather, and peat.

So to sum up all the above nonsense , I was expecting at least over ten steeps with such a high concentration of leaf, so at first I was a bit disappointed. Yet, I soon realized that that’s just not this shu’s thing. It’s simple, tasty, uncomplicated, and extremely easy to brew, as it is very forgiving. I also loved how the flavor changed from something that brought to mind images of a damp, murky, and earthy marsh to something like a dry and woodsy forest during summer. At least that’s what I got from the tea. Also, with that extreme calm feeling I received, I could definitely picture this being a nice tea for before bed or on lazy Sunday afternoons. At any rate, mini bing cha is pretty neat. :) Cheers!


Wow, one of the best descriptions of drinking (dancing) with Pu-erh I’ve read. Really excellent. I could relate to everything you said. “Hey folks, he tells the truth here! This is really what it’s like to drink many steepings of Pu-erh!”


Awww, thanks so much, Bonnie!

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This tea is certainly a yummy one, and one that I’ll be savoring for as long as I can. The quality is apparent right from the beginning in the dry leaves. They have this elegant appearance, with graceful twists and a variety of shapes. The dark brown-black color gives ode to some hidden power the tea possesses while the brittle nature of the texture play on it’s many subtle flavors. Smelling the leaves results in a heady, rich aroma of roasted hay and that characteristic Wuyi scent.

Add water and the leaves give off an incredibly intense aroma of pine sap, musty notes, and burnt oak logs. The resulting liquor smells of Da Hong Pao, is sweet and thickly floral, with undertones of sandalwood. A sip from the first steep explodes with flavor: ripe bananas, honey, malt, florals, and sometimes I can even detect a touch of cocoa. The mouthfeel is extra thick, leathery smooth, and so very juicy. Into the next couple of steeps, the fruity flavors from the first steep become more prominent and develop into tastes of dark berries and add tartness, complementing the sticky sweetness of the banana and honey flavors nicely. Sandalwood flavors also become apparent, and the liquor’s aroma expands into something that reminds me of a holiday candle. It’s nice, homey, and reminiscent of late autumn afternoons.

Into the fourth and fifth steeps, the banana flavors subside and a creamier mouthfeel develops as woodier flavors take control. Berries become less pronounced and a thick prune-like flavor rounds out the wood. In the next few steeps, the taste becomes spicier, musty, peaty, and earthy, transforming into more of a pu’er with a rounder, thicker body. At this point the aftertaste has become fruity and sticky with undertones of this weak black tea flavor. The steeps round out in the ’teens with sweet, licorice-like flavors and a subdued ripe fruit flavor.


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I’m way behind in my reviews…So I’m not letting myself try new samples until I can catch up on the old teas and allow myself to focus on the new ones. And with that, I will catch up with this pu’er. I steeped the whole sample (I think it was around 4.5 grams or so) in my 100ml gaiwan. I got through about 10 or 11 steeps total. There was a great deal of intrigue in this tea, with a very unique flavor profile. From the first four-second steep, I received notes of mushrooms, cedar chips, a certain grape-like tartness, a faint earthiness, and flavors of overripe fruit. The liquor smelled like old, worn-out leather and age. It actually came out kind of frothy, which was interesting to me, as the height I poured it from wasn’t any higher than normal. The mouthfeel contained a slow and drawn-out huigan that began sparkly and tingly and transformed into a bitterness. There was also a lingering metallic feel to it here.

Into the next steep, all the above flavors increased in intensity while notes of camphor and what totally reminded me of Dr. Pepper were added to the mix. The mouthfeel turned into something fierce in this steep. It was stronger, more potent, and it made the tip of my tongue feel like it was on fire or that it was vibrating or something. Very tingly. This mouthfeel remained like this with somewhat less intensity throughout the rest of the steeps.

As far as flavor goes, the rest of the steeps went downhill from here (at least for me). The next steep was incredibly sour-tasting. And instead of showing up and then fading, it actually expanded and became more intense after a sip. It was kind of like biting into an unripe lime, complete with a great deal of astringency. Bleh. I don’t know what happened here, but it only steeped a second longer than the previous steeping. At any rate, it calmed down into the next couple of steeps, but it was still very apparent.

The steeps faded out with a great deal of earthiness, a bit more spice, and some notes of that overripe fruit taste. Overall, I really liked the tastes it put forth, and the mouthfeel was highly stimulating, but the metallic feeling and sour tastes were just too off-putting for me. However, I did really like the leaves of this one. Although there were a TON of stems in my sample, the leaves became quite green when wet and the ones that happened to be whole had some beautiful veins. The leaves’ aroma was also quite nice. Hints of florals, grapes, ripe fruits, and some nostril-tingling tartness.


You manage to drag more out of one session than I can in an entire week of sipping. Respect.


Why thank you, K S!!! :D I just love trying to pull out every bit of flavor and texture I can. It usually ends up being a long process, but it’s so fulfilling in the end when you can really “get” what a particular tea is all about.

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drank Bailin Gongfu Black Tea by Teavivre
64 tasting notes

Thanks to Angel and Teavivre for this sample!

I have mixed feelings about this one. I really love the flavor spectrum, and this is a lovely desert tea: nice and chocolaty, touches of caramel, a good helping of spices, and hints of honey and malt. Butttt, I’ve tried this tea three separate times gong fu style, using different steeping times, amounts of leaves, and temperatures of water. Every time I get an unpleasant sour and salty texture and taste, especially in the first steeps. After about the fourth, this dies down a great deal, but I can still detect it. It’s not terrible enough for me to discard a steep, but it’s noticeable enough to distract from the yumminess this tea possesses. I will say, however, that my first issues were treating it as a traditional black tea and using near-boiling water. The third time I tasted this one, I treated it more like a dark oolong with much better results. Still, this coppery taste lingered. However, I’ve added milk and sugar to some of the later steeps the last time I brewed it and it came out very chai-like and was quite pleasant. I think I’ll switch over to brewing this one Western style now.

Outside of the flavor world, the dry leaves are a delight to smell. The aroma is like sticking your face into a container of Hershey’s cocoa powder, along with hints of hazelnut and spices. The wet leaves gave off scents of mocha, roasted nuts, honey, and coffee grounds. It was very rich and dark, but didn’t knock your head back—it was smooth and unaggressive.

The mouthfeel felt a bit chalky to me during some steeps. However, for the most part it was soft and smooth, especially when the water used is cooler. The aroma of the liquor doesn’t have much to it. It gets caramely some steeps, others it just smells like average black tea.

Flavor-wise, it is really quite similar to Verdant’s Zhu Rong from August of this year as far as flavors go. This one has a bit more chocolate and the addition of caramel, the Zhu Rong had a lot more spices. During mid-steeps of both teas (around 6 and 7) I would have to depend on mouthfeel (Zhu Rong was smoother) and aroma (Zhu Rong’s liquor’s aroma was more pronounced) to differentiate between the two if drunk side-by-side. I may consider this in the future… Actually, looking back at the raw notes I took while drinking both of these, steeps 6 and 7 look nearly identical, while the rest quite different. Hmmm, something to investigate further…

185 °F / 85 °C

This one is in my top 5 black tea’s.

Donna A

I, like Bonnie, really appreciate this tea.


Yeah, I can understand why this one is loved by so many. I dunno, though, I like it, but to me it just feels like it’s a bit off balance.

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Thanks to ESGREEN for this sample!

I’m still pretty new to pu’er, so the first thing I did was go to ESGREEN’s website for any brewing instructions. When I saw “10-15g in a gaiwan” I thought I was misreading something. So I weighed the sample I received and found it to be 7g. I shrugged and poured the contents into my 100ml gaiwan. I went with the rest of the guidelines on the website and did two washes of three seconds each. The liquor was DARK. I began thinking 7g was too much, but went on with the first steep at four seconds. I bid my time and sniffed the wet leaves first. They were extremely pungent, smelling of old, worn-out leather, dusty books, dirt, and hints of overripe plums and a touch of florals.

I turned back to my foreboding cup of deep, dark, brown-crimson liquor, and sniffed it. Earthy and musky. I took a sip…and sighed in relief. I guess I was expecting something like turpentine since it seemed like there were way too many leaves in the gaiwan. Turns out it was just the right amount. The resulting brew wasn’t potent at all, and it never did become unpalatable if steeped too long in the later steeps. A slightly familiar “sheng” flavor introduced itself. It was earthy and musty. Meh.

But then….whoa… This tiny bit of astringency I first detected hiding somewhere in the tea exploded, making my mouth and throat tingle all over like ants were marching back and forth across my palate. An excellent sensation of huigan. The liquor was silky, smooth, and had this interesting salty/slippery feeling to it. The tea becomes more complex over time, increasing in sweetness, introducing flavors of fruits and florals, and becoming much like a shui xian into the fifth steep. The mouthfeel becomes even more complex, though. All kinds of tingling, sparkling, smooth, salty, and coarse textures assaulted my tongue and throat, appearing and disappearing with reckless abandon. I took this tea into the twenties for steeps, finally rounding out with flavors of peppercorn, camphor, earth and wood, tiny hints of chocolate, and florals and fruit. Towards the end of its life, it left a beefier aftertaste, and the huigan was slower and subtler.

The leaves were quite massive. By the end of my steeping session, the lid of my gaiwan was resting on the leaves, and couldn’t even close completely. There was also a ton of huge loose stems and quite a large ball of broken pieces that had formed at the bottom, resembling mulch. The leaves that were whole, however, had held up nicely through aging and were very strong and thick.

Other things I noticed: around steep five, the liquor became kind of murky, and was actually gritty. At one point I ground my teeth and heard a crunch. Also, through steep four to around six or seven, tea oils were clearly visible resting on the surface of the liquor.


Great review, sorry to hear about the ‘crunch’ though.


Thanks! And yeah, it was a bit of a surprise! But nothing really major. Makes me kind of wonder about the cleanliness of manufacture, though. I’ve never experienced dirt or grit or anything similar in other teas I’ve had.


I am still working on my review of this one. I am not sure what I think of it yet. Thanks for a great review.


K S, it took a while for me to figure out how I felt about it as well. It’s definitely an intriguing one…I’ll be interested to see what your final opinions are!

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Thanks to Teavivre for this sample!

I’m really liking this one. The dry leaves are so consistent in color, size, and shape, it really leaves a great first impression. They actually remind me a lot of a gunpowder green tea, just lighter in color and a bit larger on average. The leaves smell very clean and fragrant, of dried fruits, flowers, and grasses.

I also get a great deal of complexity from this one. It starts off pretty common, with flavors of florals, grass, and a tiny bit of a milky taste. Yet it develops a great number of nuances including parsley, kelp, grass, cream, and vegetal flavors. The flavor is lingering and “blossoms” over the tongue and through the mouth with each sip. The milk tastes become stronger throughout steeps and with later flavors of vanilla bean, artichoke, asparagus, and green beans, this tea really becomes quite savory. The mouthfeel began like the smooth, creamy, and thick goodness I was expecting, but really faded into the eighth steep, becoming more drying and “woolly.” However, the balance and interesting flavors remained through to the final steep, unlike the other Jin Xuan I have had previously, even becoming earthy with notes of tapioca in the twelfth steep.

The liquor’s aroma has a very subtle aroma, and is difficult to detect in the first steeps. The appearance is a light, but vibrant yellow-green. The wet leaves were also in great shape. It was quite a hodge podge of shapes and sizes, but their were few, if any, loose stems and the coloration was a healthy deep forest green. They were, however, quite thin and fragile, tearing easily. The aroma was of pungent greens, spinach, green beans, and maybe a little kelp. This tea really had that cross between a tieguanyin and a gyokuro that I had noticed in the last Jin Xuan I had.

Overall, a very nice tea that I’ll be drinking slowly.

185 °F / 85 °C

Excellent review – now I have to have some of this today!


Thanks! I’ll definitely be having this one again in the near future. Just gotta find a way to make this sample last. :)

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Woo! Another dan cong fragrance checked off my list! And a very nice one at that. I’ve wanted to log this one so badly, but this semester’s been pretty intense and I wanted to give this one the proper time to say lovely things about it. :)

I’ll start with the dry leaves. The aroma is unbelievably complex, and it seems I detect some fragrances more than others at different times. To date I’ve accumulated these aromas: dehydrated cantaloupe, banana-nut bread, honey, ripened blackberries (this one is consistent), a bit of cucumber juice, and sweet spices. Of the darker oolongs I’ve had, this is by far my favorite dry leaf aroma. The leaves are also extremely long when dry; sometimes it’s a pain trying to get them to fit in my small gaiwan!

After a wash, the wet leaves explode with more olfactory goodness. It’s so very rich and pungent, with this wine-like tartness that envelops the nasal cavity. It’s like elder berries, grape juice, hibiscus, and a bit of orange blossom. It also has these undertones of that strong, pungent, vegetal quality you find in a good tieguanyin.

On to the liquor. The orange zest of the “orange blossom” (huang zhi) fragrance is very prominent here, but there is a ton more going on in the cup. On the first steep (2 secs), if sipped immediately, the body is very light with slightly subdued flavors of orange, and honey. After cooling a bit, though, everything seems to come together and settle into a fuller body with more prominent orange flavors, a slightly tangy citrus taste, and undertones of apple.

Into the second steep (3 secs), tastes of raw sugar come into play and mix with the previous flavors. The third steep (3 secs), though, is really where everything comes together. The sugar, citrus, and orange blossom notes meld together to remind me of candied orange rinds. Then, tons more fly up from the bottom including flavors of hibiscus, which add a floral tartness, more honey, red grapes, and a bit of ginger, which nicely compliments the orange flavors. The aromas from this cup are quite powerful. That explosive tartness originally smelled in the leaves is now given off by the liquor, and upon taking a sip spreads even further. Sweeter elements chase from behind, until they meet in equilibrium and fade slowly into an aftertaste of thick, tingling goodness.

At this point, the mouthfeel becomes sparkling-like, and is quite light on the tongue. This sparkling texture increases in intensity over time, even into steeps in the ‘teens. For sake of space, I’ll outline the rest of my steeps:

Steep 4 (0:07) – Spices, tartness, and the “candied orange rind” flavor decrease slightly, while malty flavors appear, astringency is less strong, and there is an overall sweetness.

Steep 5 (0:12) – Tartness is further subdued, while sweet floral flavors become most prominent. An orange cream-like flavor also comes into play.

Steep 6 (0:16) – The top flavors (orange cream and florals) again come down, while tartness seems to disappear. Undertones of walnuts and berries appear along with a subtle astringency.

Steep 7 (0:22) – Easy come easy go: walnuts and berry flavors dissipate. However, flavors of cranberries come into play and mesh well with the orange-blossom flavors, presenting something reminiscent of cranberry-orange juice. The malty tones of previous steeps also become difficult to detect. Orange blossom flavors rise….

Steep 8 (0:30) – …and then fall. Honey becomes very apparent again, while tones of apples and the rich earth appear as undertones.

Steep 9 (0:40) – At this point, the body becomes less full, as most of the flavors become subtle. Berry flavors are replaced by some florals, a new “mossy” flavor, and fresh orange. A slight spiciness comes back along with a subtle grape-like flavor.

Steep 10 (0:52) – Ginger spices climb up to be matched with a more woody flavor. Mossy flavor has disappeared and this cup is quite astringent.

Steep 11 (1:10) – Tapioca! I’m either crazy, or this tastes exactly like tapioca. The couple times I’ve tried this tea so far, it always tastes like tapioca at around this point, and continues like this into subsequent steeps, so I’m going with I’m not crazy. It’s quite refreshing and seems to pair very nicely with the orange blossom flavor that has returned in full. There is also a general earthiness to this steep. Also, at this point the tea reaches a maximum of the sparkling texture, which is very strong and tingly.

Steep 12 (1:28) – Orange and floral notes fade and are replaced by notes of ripe berries, earthiness and woody flavors become more apparent. A very minute amount of spice is detected and lingers in the back of mouth long after a sip.

Steep 13 (1:50) – Similar to last, but spices are more pronounced and the mouthfeel is extremely tingly.

Steep 14 (~13 minutes…oops) – Actually came out okay, just a little too astringent and some added bitterness. The body was very syrupy. Tapioca flavors are still most prominent, followed by orange blossom, and an earthy, pu’er-like undertone.

Steep 15 (~5 min) – Same as above.

Steep 16 (~5 min) – Same, but with a few more berry notes.

Steep 17 (~8 min) – Same, with added flavors of honey, making the body thicker.

Steep 18 and 19 (~8 min) – Very juicy. Candied orange rinds becomes the most dominant flavor, while earthy tones and and ginger spice add depth. Still a very sparkling texture.

This tea definitely kept me on my toes. It was quite a fun experience and has caused my love for dan congs to grow further. The only issue I had was that it becomes extremely astringent and bitter if steeped for too long. Other than that, I’ve been steeping it throughout the day and it never disappoints.

205 °F / 96 °C

It’s a law, I’m sure, that when you drink remarkable tea’s you must write long, completely inspired reviews. I’m chuckling because I do this and when I’m finished I say “WOW, how did all those words get there?!”
It happens so easily…the tea is so special that the words to review it simply spill out.
One the other hand, the worse the tea is, the harder it is to write a review.
Good job


Haha thanks, Bonnie! Say tuned for a crazy lengthy review of a yummy shu I drank recently. I just couldn’t stop writing after I finished drinking. As soon as I’m done with the five exams (2 down so far!) I have this week I’ll be finishing and posting it.

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I’m fanatic about all things tea-related. Lately, I’ve been fascinated with Wuyi yancha, aged Taiwanese oolongs, and sheng pu’ercha. Nearly all of my sessions as of late are performed gong fu, with pu’er tastings comprising probably eighty percent of them. My collection of pu’ercha is small, but growing steadily. Much of the specimens I drink daily are various samples, although I dig into a cake every so often.

I love trying new teas and I am always learning all I can about the world of tea. Hence, I spend a majority of the time I devote to tea either drinking, writing notes in my journal, or reading. But mostly drinking, as I think it should be. Since I have handwritten logs of everything I drink, I cannot usually find the extra time to log my notes here, and unfortunately my online log is underrepresented.

When drinking, I look for a tea that presents a unique experience, something that involves every sense and provides intrigue in every aspect throughout steeps. I search for teas with balanced complexity and something that makes me keep reaching for my cup. I yearn to find all the positives a tea possesses and every subtle nuance hiding among the leaves. I try to be detailed in my notes and deliver a more comprehensive view of the tea, paying attention to things other than simply flavors and qualitative aspects of aroma, such as the form of the liquor and its development in the mouth. Things like this are much easier to compare between teas, as I find them to be more consistent between sessions, and also make distinctions between a good and mediocre tea easier to make.

Adagio UtiliTEA electric kettle.
For gong fu, a 100 mL porcelain gaiwan and a 100mL Yixing di cao qing xi shi pot dedicated to mostly young sheng pu’er.
I drink all green teas in small (maybe 450mL) glass tumblers in the traditional style, with off-boiling water.


Fort Myers, Florida

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