121 Tasting Notes

drank Anji Bai Cha by Butiki Teas
121 tasting notes

Though I have tasted this before, I didn’t get chance to write a note yet… Time to make up for it!

I really like this kind of tea – my boss at the clinic serves a very similar one, as a pre-acupuncture drink, to his patients (he serves them Tianmu White Tea, which is basically identical), and I get to drink a fair bit of it myself.

It’s a really nice green tea – it has a lovely, mild, vegetal flavour, with gentle fruit and floral notes. This definitely is NOT a powerful tea – even with lots of leaf and water that’s too hot, it’s flavours are quite mellow. But, it’s still a nice, stimulating cup and it’s very refreshing on warmer days.

I only got a little sample of this tea, but I’ll be sure to enjoy the rest of it :D

(I brewed this in my little glass tea pot, lid-off, using ~4 g in 200 ml. The first infusion (of 5) was for 2’ and successive ones were longer and used hotter water, until a final steep of around 15’ with near-boiling water. It lasted quite well through all 5 infusions, though the last one was pretty mild.)

Flavors: Floral, Vegetal

170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 0 sec 4 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

Sounds so delicate and lovely!

Red Fennekin

Mmm, it really is! I strongly recommend trying some Anji Bai Cha (or the related Tianmu type) if you can get hold of it! :D

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I cracked this out again, yesterday (which lasted me into today) – my goodness does this tea have some staying power! By the end of 12 infusions, it was still going pretty strong!

I’m still not sure this one is a favourite, yet. The savory, vegetal flavour are really intense – it’s not unpleasant, for sure. It is very much drinkable and I kept coming back for more. But, at the moment, it isn’t one I reach for with the same keenness as some other teas in my cupboard.

I read somewhere that sheng puerh mellows, and becomes smoother, with age. If that’s the case, perhaps I ought to let a little bit of air get to this and just try it again in a few months (I also read that loose puerh, such as this, ages faster so maybe this’ll be a nice one to “test” such things out on).

Either way, I did enjoy this tea and will continue to enjoy the rest of my bag!


This is one that I would love to try some time. My first order from Whispering Pines is on its way as of yesterday!

Red Fennekin

Ah, excellent :D What did you order?

I could always send you a little sample, if you wanted! I’m sure it wouldn’t cost me too much (right??)?


I ordered some of the Golden Orchid, because it had such great reviews across the board and I’m a sucker for vanilla. I probably could have browsed that site all day and ordered 100 different teas, but I restrained myself. Who knew that trying to control my tea buying habit would be so hard?

I would love to do a sample swap of sorts, but I just noticed that you’re in the UK. I’m in Canada. I don’t know anything about international shipping costs, but I imagine that would be quite steep.

Red Fennekin

Mmm, I have a bag of Golden Orchid that I just can’t wait to try :D I’m only just managing to put if off on the basis of the number of open bags I already have going on :P

Ah, that’s true… :( Well, it’s one that I imagine Brenden will regularly keep in good stock, so hopefully you’ll get to try it at some point :D

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As this box is quite old, I thought I’d start to get through it more quickly, particularly whilst I’m appreciating oolongs so much.

Nothing has really changed about my opinion of this tea – it’s genuinely really good! The infusions (I got ~10 in my 100-120 ml Gaiwan) were all buttery, sweet and floral, with just a hint of a delicate, vegetal flavour.

I have noticed, though, that this tea lacks some of the complexities of the best oolongs I’ve tried so far – even when prepared with lots of leaf and with short infusions, I get little variation. Each infusion is lovely, don’t get me wrong, but it pretty much remains the same throughout the session.

Admittedly, this might be a consequence of this bag’s age – I’ve had this tea opened for around 12 months.

Perhaps, once I work my way through my cupboard, I’ll order another box and test it again, when it’s “fresher”. Goodness knows it’s worth it, for the price – it’s an absolute bargain, compared to other such teas. Perhaps, though, it’s cheapness is a sign that it isn’t necessarily the finest quality oolong…

Either way, I really enjoy this tea – there’s nothing wrong with it and it helped keep my mood really high, despite my on-going toothache :P

adagio breeze

Oh no, that tooth is still acting up? Hope it feels better soon!


Oh no! I was hoping your tooth was all fixed. :(

Red Fennekin

Thanks you two :-)

I was hoping it was fixed, too – it felt so much better on Friday that I was sure it was. But the pain returned with a vengeance, over the weekend, and the dentist is now telling me I need root canal… I’m extremely unimpressed – aside from the fact that this means I’ve paid £80 for a filling that essentially will last until I have the treatment (a week or two, then – tops), I now have to go through all of the unpleasantness of root canal surgery. Great T_T


…. :( ….
I feel SO bad for you. I’ve had this happen before, and it’s horrible… Also, the pain from a tooth that needs a root canal quite far surpasses that of one that needs a filling. I can work with a tooth that needs a filling; one that needs a root canal is a whole other matter. I hope that your root canal procedure goes well (I’ve had one I was supposed to get taken care of, but the abscess went away, so I’ve kind of put it off…). Dental work is miserable.

Red Fennekin

Ugh, tell me about it – I’ve never really experienced any pain like this before (I know, I’ve been lucky in life!), so I’m finding it really tough. Ibuprofen has become my new best friend :P

Thanks for the well wishes! I’m gonna get a second (and third :P) opinion on it, but I certainly can’t pay the £375 that they’re asking – I don’t have nearly that kind of money. I’d have to see if I could get it done on the NHS (which, tbh, I’d probably prefer anyway – my experiences with private dentists have hardly filled me with confidence…)


Oh, it’s the worst! :(
And, I totally understand not being able to pay for the procedure. This last root canal, the dentist told me it would be $800 for the procedure and then even more than that for the crown. I just sort of looked at him and said, “I’ll get back to you on that.” Our dental insurance is really confusing, too, so it makes dealing with it a double pain. So, basically, I am SO sorry that you are dealing with this right now… I can sympathize fully. I really hope you get it all worked out soon.

Red Fennekin

Ugh, exactly – sounds like you had to pay even more than I might have to :\ I think the crown would be included in mine, though the idea of having to get a crown seems like payment enough T_T

But, again, thanks for your sympathy :-) I really appreciate your kindness and well-wishes!

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This was the third, and final, tea I ordered when buying a puerh bag and a puerh pick from CTC. The review on here made it sound great and, at £10 for 100 g, it sounded like a bargain.

This morning, I set down to breaking a bit of my cake off (just shy of 5g, I think) and prepared this in my Verdant Gaiwan. Having never broken up a puerh cake before, I’m not sure if this was typical, but it was more difficult than I expected! Videos on Youtube always make it look so easy hahaha. The leaves were nice, though – brown-and-dark-green, with some stem (but not much!). They were nice and intact, and they were consistent throughout the cake – what was on the outside was also on the inside, which I took to be a good sign.

After drinking WP’s Arbor Mist sheng puerh, I had a decent idea of what to expect, but I actually think I preferred (on the first attempts, anyway) this sheng – the infusions it produced were really lovely! Flavourful and tasty, but it was also quite fruity. Alongside this fruitiness, there was a lovely smooth mouthfeel and a surprising, almost cream-like note. It was also lovely and sweet.

The initial infusion was a pale yellow and subsequent infusions became a darker, gold/golden-orange colour. The earlier steeps were more vegetal and a little pungent, with that hint of bitterness and astringency, but later infusions had such amazing fruit and cream notes! The tea left me feeling alert and happy, so that’s a plus too. The final infusions (#9-11) were milder, but still really delicious – I got stonefruit notes, along with that lingering creamy flavour. It did also give me that tingly mouthfeel, that I’ve often seen described, so it’s nice to fully understand that concept now :D

I still haven’t tried enough sheng, I don’t think, to award a particularly meaningful score to this tea. But I’d strongly recommend it – it was really lovely! I’ll certainly be turning to this tea plenty in the future – brewing it like this (which, tbh, I think I will) will mean I’ll get another 19 sessions. Delightful! :D

Flavors: Creamy, Stonefruit, Sweet

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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Along with the couple of sample bags of Arya Emerald Darjeeling that I got from CTC, I also treated myself to two little bags of this. Given my absolute love affair with TGYs, so far, I failed to see why I wouldn’t really like this.

According to CTC’s website, the samples I ordered featured the Spring 2013 harvest – I dunno if this is true, or not, but (if it is) it will give me perspective on how well this tea ages (promising, given the quantity of it that I currently have stored at home :P). The bag containing a little too much for me to use up in one go, so I held back 1 tsp and used the rest in my Gaiwan.

After a brief rinse (it is over a year old after all!), I managed to get through around 4 infusions after dinner today – probably something like 10", 15", 30", 1’.

This tea was, much to my delight, delicious. But, I have to say, it was quite different to the Autumn ‘14 Tieguanyin of Verdant, that I’m so enamoured with. Without directly comparing them both (so going off my memory of the Verdant one), this TGY had a gentler, smoother flavour and was certainly more buttery.

Either way, I’m glad I bought two bags of this. At some point, this week, I’m gonna do a semi-blind taste test between the two and see what a direct comparison leads me to think of them both.

This TGY was a touch more expensive, I think, than the Verdant one, but will cost me a bunch less on shipping. I’m not sure if it will knock my current favourite from its very high perch, but it’s certainly nice to know that I have options :-)

Flavors: Butter, Floral, Orchid


A semi-blind taste test sounds like so much fun! :D

Red Fennekin

It deffo should be! If I get someone else to put the tea into the Gaiwans, without telling me which is which and just leaving a note to check afterwards, it should mean that I can genuinely see if the notes I pick up in either tea are ‘real’ or just influenced by the company’s suggestions and descriptions hahaha!

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To go with my cups, what better than this equally beautiful Gaiwan. I’m totally in love with it. Though I wouldn’t say I have overly small hands (perhaps I do T_T), I love the size of this Gaiwan as it’s so comfortable to hold. It just fits really nicely! I never burn myself when using it, which is an obvious plus, and the parts all fit together perfectly – there’s no wobble or anything. Liquid flows really well when pouring.

Much as with the cups, my guests are always impressed by the beauty and style of this Gaiwan. It’s my immediate go to, now, for brewing Tieguanyin – I like to think that my favourite tea is being served in the most beautiful Gaiwan I’ve seen, so far! :-)


So very, very beautiful.

Red Fennekin

Tell me about it!! :-) As soon as I saw it on Verdant’s site, I was utterly enarmoured. Plus, their suggestion that it was a good size/shape for rolled oolongs (so, for example, my beloved tieguanyin), I just had to buy it… ^^; Tbf, $30 for something so beautiful, that I get regular use of, doesn’t seem too bad…!


I totally ignored the ‘gaiwan’ bit of the name and thought you were drinking fish flavoured tea! Ewww :S haha

Red Fennekin

Oh gosh – hahaha! That doesn’t sound very pleasant at all hahaha

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Absolutely perfect, beautiful little cups. Aside from being an ideal size for use with a Gaiwan or small pot, they look fantastic and have a great feel – not too light, despite their size and thickness, but certainly not heavy on unwieldy. Amazingly, they feel quite sturdy too – despite them obviously being quite thin (shining a light through them really does, as the sales pitch suggests, make them glow!), they don’t feel fragile at all.

My guests are always very impressed when I serve them tea from these lovely cups. I just can’t fault them.


And matching cups!!! (your tea sessions must be glorious!)

Red Fennekin

Hahaha – thanks! :D They’re certainly aesthetically pleasing affairs ;) I rather enjoy, that’s for sure!

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Backstory (again – sorry!!):

I recently gained some tea cash from Verdant, which was due to expire at the end of January. I then received an email from Verdant saying they had some Puerh cakes that were reduced because the wrappers were damaged. It was a sheng puerh that I’ve had on my wishlist for a while, so I thought I’d take advantage of this double-discount situation and order myself one!

Fearful that I wouldn’t really be able to keep it clean with the wrapper all torn/ripped, I popped along to Canton’s website, recalling that they had some lovely cotton bags in which to keep puerh cakes. Given it was only a couple of pounds, and I had a free-shipping code, I thought I’d buy it, along with a lovely little puerh pick. Whilst ordering, I got a small sheng puerh (which I plan to break into tomorrow or Monday) and a number of little samples, including two (at only £1 each!) of the Summer 2014 harvest of this Darjeeling.


Well, I confess – I’m a little disappointed by this tea. Opening the bag, the leaves didn’t smell like much. And, when brewed in my little glass teapot (my usual preference for brewing greens, and it certainly worked like a charm for Canton’s Gua Pian and for Verdant’s Dragonwell), it produced a pretty lacklustre infusion :\ I tried increasing the steeping time, for the second infusion, and the temperature for the third, but it didn’t do much to it.

I’m gonna give it the benefit of the doubt and try the second little sample I have. I think, though, that I’ll try it in my Gaiwan next time. Withholding my judgement for now :P


What temperature did you brew it at? When I tried this one yonks back, well, three years actually, I found it best brewed at about 60 degrees C for about a minute and a half.

Red Fennekin

If I had to estimate (and it would only be an estimate), somewhere between 70 and 80 degrees – the way I did it normally works OK, given the shortness of steep, but clearly I mucked it up with this one.

It does seem like a pretty delicate tea, so perhaps I should try that. I’ll dig out a thermometer too – I’m pretty sure we have a clean sugar-thermometer in the kitchen that would do OK. Any tips on quantities/brewing method? :-)


There are advantages to having a variable temperature kettle. :) I used to use a milk thermometer and that worked well enough, but the kettle is more convenient. I went back to my old tasting note here: http://steepster.com/Roughage/posts/99405
The tea was made with 1 heaped tsp in a 250ml glass pot (from Canton Tea Co) at 60 degrees and steep time of 1m 30s.

I’ve had a couple of really finicky Darjeelings, but I have generally found that experimentation works out in the end. I do wonder what I would make of the Arya teas now that I have another three years of tasting teas under my belt. I bet my descriptions would be quite different.


I have just remembered the other thing I do. Water in our area is well ’ard, like rock, so I always use filtered water. You would be surprised how much difference it makes.

Red Fennekin

Heh, thanks :D I have a similar glass pot (it’s probably closer to 200 ml, but that’s OK) and should be able to use a thermometer to get the temp right! I do always used filtered water, too – I’m not sure I’d be able to cope, in general, without my filter jug hahaha.

(I do really want a variable temp kettle! That gooseneck one that CTC used to sell – I think it’s a Bellevita one – looks amazing. If I get a full-time job, I’ll deffo save up to treat myself to one :-) )


My kettle is a Cuisinart one that I bought about the same time as that Arya Emerald tasting note. Irritatingly it only goes in 5 degree increments from 85 degrees. When I bought it, the rep from Cuisinart was in the shop explaining it to the staff, so I berated him for his product not being perfect!

The Bonavita kettle looks much better with the temperature settings from 60 degrees and up. It’s on Amazon if you have the money for it. I’m sorely tempted but need a full-time job too, before I get to splurge on tea stuff again.


Oops, posting before checking properly. Although the temperature settings on the Cuisinart kettle are irritating, it does have the temperature guage on the handle, so it is possible to get whatever temperature you want by standing over the kettle and stopping it at the right time.


*gauge not guage. Grr, I hate typos!

Red Fennekin

Bonavita – that’s the one!! Yeah, I’ve seen it on Amazon, which is most likely where I’ll buy it from – I deffo need the money before I go for it… It’ll probably be my “first pay treat” or whatever hahaha :-)

The one you have does sound perfectly practical, though – I imagine it’s a little less costly, too! I only leant towards the Bonavita one because of the exact T control (which has been well reviewed by most people) and because of the gooseneck, which suits me as I’m usually brewing in a Gaiwan or very small pot, so being able to control the water flow would be pretty handy.


Yes, that sounds about right. Aesthetically, I am not sure about the gooseneck but practically-speaking it works. When I bought my kettle there was not as much choice as there is now.

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Well then. Now that I finally have a cupboard that is utterly full, and after having tried a far larger number of teas than before, I wanted to revisit this one. I’ve been enjoying green teas and greener oolongs so much recently that my perspective on these teas has changed a great deal.

Plus, I’ve begun to appreciate vegetal flavours/notes in green tea much more than I used to. It still isn’t my favourite – for example, I’d always rather have that lovely orchid flavour of TGY and similar green oolongs – but it doesn’t put me off like it used to.

And after a great experience with Verdant’s Dragonwell and a couple of Butiki’s greens/greener oolongs, I think I ‘get’ Chinese greens much more.


So yeah! I pulled out my little glass teapot and used a good quantity of these intensely green leaves – it’s such an amazing, deep green! I didn’t measure, but if I had to estimate I’d say I used around 5g. Using cooler water (it was just before the point when bubbles start to form on the bottom of the pot), I began my session!

Overall, I did five infusions: 10", 30", 60", ~2’ (too weak), 10’ (ideal)

The first two infusions were kinda how I remembered this tea before – it is really vegetal. Asparagus is definitely the flavour that hit me most. BUT I did get the sweetness that’s described on Canton’s packaging now – there was an almost floral, fragrant sweetness, particularly in the after taste. The leaves looked lovely whilst infusing, too – they cast a delightful green light through the pot. It was a little bitter, though they may have been a consequence of the quantity of leaf that I used. It definitely wasn’t so bitter that it was unpleasant – I genuinely enjoyed it.

The third infusion was excellent – a far more balanced infusion, with a mouthwatering combination of sweet and savoury. The fourth I underbrewed – I was a little wary of drastically increasing the steep times in case the bitterness ramped up.

The fifth infusion, though not the strongest, was amongst my favourites – it was really delicious! I got some lovely fruity notes, that gental floral fragrance and a gentler, but still present, vegetal flavour.

I still don’t think this is my favourite green tea. But following a very savoury lunch, it went down a treat and I enjoyed it much more than last time. I won’t be reluctant to finish this tin off, now, anyway :-)

Flavors: Asparagus, Floral

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I treated myself to my first infusion of this tea, earlier, to build myself up for the trip to the dentist. I’d only ever really smelled the bag briefly, without looking inside in great detail, so I’d forgotten this was a white-tea-base and assumed, because of the fairly strong flavours in the name, it would be a black! I was really surprised to see Butiki’s lovely Bai Mu Dan come tumbling into my infuser-basket!

It also put me at ease, big time. It smelled absolutely wonderful and I have very positive experience with Butiki’s BMD. So, I set about brewing, as per Stacy’s instructions, and made my breakfast.

I was certainly impressed – the smell of the tea seemed to capture everything in the name – that warmth of cinnamon, sweetness of vanilla and, er…, squash of squash!

On the palette, much the same, though the squash flavour was admittedly much weaker. The normal flavour of the BMD did come across kinda squash-like, though, so I didn’t mind so much. And it was really delicious to drink. I think I’ll really enjoy the rest of my little bag of this.

Flavors: Butternut Squash, Cinnamon, Vanilla

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 30 sec

This sounds soooo good! I hope your dental appointment went well!

Red Fennekin

Yeah, it was really good :D

My appointment was bit of a disaster, sadly T_T They screwed up my filling, which has now fallen out, so I’m now experiencing pretty intense toothache (whereas I was pain-free before!!). Gonna go back tomorrow to see if they can fix it…


I’m glad they’re getting you right back in tomorrow…but tooth pain is absolutely NO fun. I feel so bad for you! (I get major anxiety over tooth pain and dental appointments..).
And to have pain now, where it was painless before must be incredibly aggravating. grrr…

Red Fennekin

Indeed… Thanks for your support, though :-)

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Junior doctor and casual tea-drinker.

It’s been a busy few years for me – I’ve graduated from med school and I’m now working full time as a junior doctor in a small UK hospital. I’ve returned Steepster to continue to learn, take recommendations and share my experiences :-)

I remain particularly keen to try lots of new teas, especially Pu Erhs and Oolongs!

I’m also happy to swap, particularly within the UK! If you see anything in my cupboard that you wanna try, please don’t be afraid to ask! Most of them I have at least 25 g of, so a 5 g sample or so will be no trouble :-)


London/Manchester, UK

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