400 Tasting Notes



I had this grandpa’d style at work today. I was preoccupied during the day. We were trying to get the shipment count down as much as possible, with the holiday around the bend. I worked like a fiend to get my stuff out of the way, but it looks like I’ll go into work Thursday with my hands full.

I noted that it had a thick cocoa sweetness throughout; smooth, sweet, and savory. I should’ve spent more time with it, but I needed the boost for the day.

Side Note: We also decided to get a second dog this weekend. Our Australian Shepard, Groot, was getting quite lonely, as well as anxious. Since we knew that he likes other animals, we found a breeder near the house, and got him a brother (also an Aussie). We named him Chewy (Chewbacca) on the account that he’s brown, fluffy, and adored by all. Groot seems to like him a lot.

Anyway, he was up at 02:00, after going to bed at 23:00. I am beat. Otherwise, he’s potty trained and getting on his new schedule, which has been easily adjusted and he seems to go with the flow.

Lastly, I’m down to the last few bits of my W2T stuff…I drank a lot of it, on the account that I picked up a healthy amount of tea on Black Friday. I’ve lost the tracking on it, though…For it shows that it left China on 12/5. I’ve never had such a wait with W2T in the past, so here’s to hoping that it arrives in the US soon. I suppose I could always email Paul again, to see if they can see what’s going on with the shipment from that end…Either way, the tea will hopefully be here within the month, I assume.


I also have two BF orders that haven’t arrived yet, I think it’s just a busy time for post.


It’s a real bummer.
Hopefully you’ll see your stuff soon!


Yeah, I mostly don’t want it to get lost, it’s not like I have a shortage of tea, rather the opposite if anything :D

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I’m learning that with Puerhshop tea, one must take their time in getting the brewing methods right. It took me a bit of time to get it down with this one, but I’ve got it down, now.

Best water temperature is 205F/96C.
Flash steep, flash steep, flash steep!

Now, with that said, I enjoyed that this being dry storage, hasn’t made the tea awfully bitter (actually, it can be bitter, but if you follow the instructions above, you’l survive it). There are few notes of astringency that follows with each sip, but never bitter. I noted a ‘sweet-slightly sour note that remains in the back of the mouth, and a bit of smoke, but not too much smoke.’ It definitely brews up odd, at first, although, after the eighth steep I noted, ‘a sweet apricot finish, with a touch of lightly smoked floral notes.’ Again, a little strange, but never terrible.

I’m trying to get better with nothing stuff, since I’ve been away for two years. :P

Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Floral, Smoke, Sweet


I rather like this one and still have an entire cake left. You’re right about the teas from Puerhshop. You do have to play around with them to get the brewing methods right. I use 205 F water for this one and a lot of their sheng cakes and usually do two quick rinses before flash steeping (no more than 4-5 seconds) the first two or three infusions. The tea stays a bit astringent and smoky, but more pleasant fruit and flower notes do come out after that. Honestly, I think Puerhshop gets a bit of a bad rap. It’s a great source for solid budget and no-name teas. I especially like some of their cheap shu.


I completely agree with the bad rap ordeal. I know that they have cheaper, no-brand named teas, but they’re open about it. Unlike some off-market tea vendors, that’d sell you no-brand, claiming otherwise. PuerhShop is honest, affordable, and has good stuff.

As for the tea session, I give it quick rinses until the tea opens up a bit. I typically throw in a chunk when brewing this one in particular…I’ve learned that breaking into a loose matter can result in an astringency/bitterness that doesn’t go away. I like it, though. I try to push my younger sheng puerhs, but this one doesn’t work the same as those.


Yep, agree Puerh shop has some jewels if you dig around.

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I had this sample in the work desk for a long while (over a year, for sure). I remember trying it once, but disliking it (?). It reminded me of a perfume my mom wore when I was little. However, after giving it a year-ish time to rest in the bottom of my desk drawer, it really lightened up a lot. I know that green teas tend to lose their potency after a bit of time, but with the heavy jasmine coating every ounce of the leaf, I’m okay with it losing a bit of strength. I thought that it really smoothed out and only had a hint of jasmine, rather than a ton of perfume flavor.

Despite it turning out okay in the end, I’m not going to get any more of the sample. It’s not my favorite from the shop. I think that if it were naturally scented with jasmine, like a jasmine dragon pearl, then it’d be okay; unfortunately, I think that this was scented with non-toxic perfume or oils.

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Had a few grams of this one for a while. I got this when OTC first got it in their stock. I think that they had limited supply of it at the beginning, but they do carry a few cakes in the store now. I was fortunate enough to know when it came through, since I’m close with one of the sales staff there. They’re one of the few local ‘gongfu-puerh heads’ around here, so we keep in touch often.

I have to admit that I wish this had more of a punch. The first two steeps were the strongest of the session, at which point I noted, “peach punch.” After that, it got super light in the flavor. I got about 8 steeps through until I called it quits. I threw the water to boiling on the fourth steep; however, neither water temp or steep time added much to the session. It’s a solid tea for puerh beginners, but when one prefers the hard hitter, it’s not the best tea to purchase. I’m happy that I stuck with the sample, rather than spending the $65-70 for the 357g cake.

Flavors: Peach

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Firstly-Merry Christmas!

Alas, it is time to see the last bit of this in my stash; which is the goal for 2020. Drink as much tea as possible. ;) I feel that I ought to give the tea a proper review…

Dry Leaf: Sweet hay.

Wet Leaf: Peppery, floral, astringent, and bitter (when pushed).

I’m bad at flavor profiles. However, it’s only fair that I made a note for the last session. I originally bought it because I liked the wrapper. I wasn’t necessarily focused on getting this tea (I wanted their 2018 Splendid), however, as these things happen, I got both. I liked that it had some longevity and power to the brew. The tea soup was thick for a sheng (maybe because it’s a huangpian?). I have to note that it’s something where you ought to have food in your system prior to drinking; otherwise, you’ll get a head high of a lifetime, but some stomach pains, too.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Floral, Hay

Martin Bednář

Merry Christmas!


Same to you, Martin!

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Side Gongfu Session (Read previous note):

I acquired 2lbs of this about 4-5 months ago. A friend was trying to rid their stash of a few Teavana teas which they had too much in their storage. I jumped on the chance to get this into my collection.

I’ll admit, it wasn’t my favorite tea, even when Teavana was in business. Firstly, it was too pricey for the quality of the leaf. I felt that it was a mid-ranged TGY, but it wasn’t worth the $25/2 oz that was listed. Fortunately, I worked at Teavana, so I was able to brew a cuppa at any given moment.

Secondly, despite it not being my top pick, I still drank a cup of this on the daily, amongst the other cups I had during my shift. It was something that became a tradition during my time at the shop.

I alternate this one with a milk oolong at work. I think that it’s soothing, despite the fact that it’s two-ish years old. I don’t think that this has spoiled in any way, but it does have a bit of a sour note, when steeped for too long. I noted yesterday, while sharing a cup with a coworker who once was the die hard Teavana fan, that it reminds me of a sour ale. Not for everyone, but the tartness gives it a unique flavor throughout the session.

I like to gongfu brew this, though. I think allowing the leaf to open up naturally, in small flash steeps, results in less sour notes, and more generic floral flavoring during the session. I oversteeped the first two rinses, but the tartness wasn’t as strong as it might’ve been when Western brewed.

I’ve a long way to go until this tea is gone, but I’ll continue to savor each moment, as I typically do with all things that are no longer available.

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I got a few ounces of this from my resent visit to the tea room a few weeks back. I’m glad that they sold all of their blends in house, to take home and enjoy. I typically avoid drinking any blend with broken Assam leaf, but I had a full pot of it at at the tea room, and liked it enough to have during the holidays.

The most crucial thing about this session is that it does well without any cream or extra sugar. There are little mint chocolate bits that add a bit of unique quality to the tea. Without it, I think the base wouldn’t be tolerable. It cuts the edge from the leaf, smoothing it out a bit, while avoiding the need to add anything extra to the cup.

A plus to this tea is that my wife likes it, too. I’ve converted her to loose leaf; which is a plus, I think. It’s good to have someone to drink tea with from time to time. I just make everything Western brewed with her, and will typically have a ‘side’ gongfu session in the meantime.

Flavors: Chocolate, Cream, Milk, Mint, Smooth


ThAts lovely. I wish my husband would drink tea lol

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I like white tea, but they typically are either too powerful or too soft. This one started out quite strong, but after the second infusion, it died down, a lot. I used 9g/120ML, but the strength of the tea wasn’t there. Yes, the notes were present, but I had to use full on boiling water to bring them out; which hadn’t helped much with bringing those notes out.

I liked that it started out strong, but I didn’t like that the strength of flavor backed a way after the first steep.

Flavor profile: soft mineral notes, with a slight milkiness to the mouthfeel. I wanted more, but it just wasn’t there.

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Thick molasses soup. Creamy, sweet, and mossy.

I thoroughly enjoy this tea, but I’ve held on to the last bit for a while. About three sessions away from finishing the cake. 2020 is a year of drinking stuff down! I’ve enough tea to satisfy my needs for at least a year or two, but like this, it’s a partial cake away from being finished. My goal is to drink, review, drink; repeat.


…but why does the name say “ripe raw”? Which is it?


It is a blend of (mostly) ripe and some raw.


Yep! The ripe is mostly predominant, though.


Huh. A mix. I would be at a loss how to steep this. haha

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The tea leaf (wet) reminds me of leather goods. The flavor profile is similar, but not really. It’s woody, astringent, and smooth. I try not to push the leaf too much. I start the first few steeps with a quick flash steep (5-10 seconds) until it softens up a bit. If one brews at a higher temperature (200+), one is expected to get a mouthful of bitterness, which this tea, I’ve learned, will never let go. Once you go heavy handed on water temp and steep time, you’ll never have an enjoyable session.

With that said, after you’ve learned how the tea wants to be brewed, it’s not a bad cup. Not my favorite tea, but a good weekly drinker.

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Mostly drinking sheng/shou puerh. Gongfu daily; western brew at work.

More to see at the IG account: Madhatterteadrunk

Drinking down a lot of my teas in 2020. I may not observe these sessions as much as I’d like, but I’ll note them, when the mood strikes.


Northeast Ohio

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