52 Tasting Notes


This is the second tea I bought from Genuine Tea. I’ve never had an oolong that tastes quite like this one, but I can’t speak from much experience as this is the first time I’m trying Da Hong Pao. Can someone please chime in and let me know if this is a typical flavour profile for this style of oolong?

I’m actually half-way through this session while I’m writing this, so I’ll have to come back to update it at the end of the day with final thoughts. I’m using a 140ml teapot with 90°C water and 6.5 grams of tea, although I wish I had added maybe a gram more in hindsight.

Initially I was disappointed with the aroma and flavour, the first pot reminded me immensely of Houjicha which I already have a large supply of. There was a strong charred wood scent mixed with some vague fruitiness, but it seems that the flavour changes quite a bit as the leaves open up. The next few pots were far superior, the char turned into more of a wet asphalt note (like the way roads smell during summer rain), and the woodiness became sweeter, almost like how Palo Santo smells. Surprisingly the mouth feel is super mellow, literally no bitterness at all and minimal astringency. There is supposedly a honey/peach note to this tea that I just don’t taste at all, perhaps slightly as an aftertaste that lingers on the tongue (although I am a bit congested today). Will have to give it another go some other day. Update: I found the wet leaves in the pot smelled much stronger of peaches, but it’s more of an aroma than flavour

Interestingly I did find a very calming energy wash over me throughout this session which was nicely in balance with the higher caffeine content.

I do like this Da Hong Pao, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy it again, especially when I already have other teas in a similar flavour range. A quick google search tells me how that this is a very popular oolong, so for all I know this isn’t the really good stuff.

Flavors: Char, Mineral, Wet Rocks, Wood


Parameters are not optimal if it’s a good quality leaf. You can try 7g/100mL, start at 20-30s, 100°C.

So Keta

Interesting, I’ll give this another go with your suggestion. Thanks for the tip!


I think you still got most of what da hong pao is like. It’s usually so heavily roasted, that is the dominant flavor. It’s to tea what Starbucks is to coffee. :-) Heavy roast.

So Keta

Fair enough, thanks for clarifying. Out of all the roasted teas I’ve tried I don’t think I’m too keen on Da Hong Pao compared with some others.

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Yesterday I went to a massive biannual craft/artisan show downtown called the One of a Kind Show. Usually I find the few vendors selling tea there focus on blends and herbal teas because that’s what typically sells, but I managed to find a new player who had the good stuff and I shopped quite a bit with them! Many more reviews to come over the next week.

This particular company is relatively new, only in business for the last four years, but after speaking at length with the owners it seems they really know what they’re doing. Most importantly, the tea is good. I’ve always struggled with finding reputable local companies that sell tea as I don’t think ordering online from around the world is very sustainable as an individual consumer; I’m always thrilled to find feel good about my purchases.

This Imperial Golden Monkey that I was sold is just so nice. I was told the farmer whom they source this from experiments with cross-breeding typical Assam black tea and typical Fujian tea to create something unique. The leaves are very thin and long, and are blueish-brown with streaks of gold weaving throughout the bag. Pretty to look at!

In a 180ml gaiwan with 90°C water I started a typical gong-fu session. The wash was so aromatic and clean that I did end up drinking it, unlike some other black teas I come across. The first flavour notes that I recognised were of burnt caramel and cacao nibs. Very rich and almost bitter in the same way a very dark chocolate tastes. After a few more cups the caramel transformed into more of a classic malt taste, but interestingly some background fruitiness arises, perhaps rhubarb or green apples? I didn’t notice much sweetness though which was refreshing, I think most black tea I’ve had lately become sickening after a few cups, but it’s likely I’ve just been ordering the wrong stuff for my taste. The mouth-feel is great, medium thickness, low astringency, minor salivation, and no lingering bitterness! Only the good flavours stick around on my tongue.

Ultimately I don’t think I have anything bad to say about this tea. It’s well-balanced, obviously grown well, and it doesn’t make me terribly jittery from caffeine after a whole session. Excellent for a daily black tea, and something I think I will continue reaching for regularly.

Flavors: Cacao, Caramel, Green Apple, Malt, Rhubarb


I’ve had the same experience with tea vendors at the OOAK (the two times I’ve been to the Christmas one). It’s neat that there was a company with different offerings! Do you know if they were at the Tea Festival?

So Keta

Yeah it’s a shame really, no one knows what they’re missing out on lol
I actually missed this year’s festival, but I imagine they were. I think I remember reading that some of their tea was included in the Tea Taster Box? Not totally sure though.

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As I’m sure many others are, I’m a sucker for milk oolong. I don’t even like milk very much, but there’s something about the sweet and creamy flavour and mouth-feel of this style of tea that makes me very happy. I have not tried any milk oolong from Yunnan Sourcing before, but I have high hopes.

I used a 140ml teapot with 6 grams of tea and 90°C water, short steep times.

The first thing I noticed is thankfully the pungent milk aroma coming off the wet leaves and soup. Buttery, sweet, and not too floral. From experience, a good milk oolong has the same pungent flavour as it does aroma. I can happily report that this does indeed have a strong milky/buttery flavour, however it was more “green” tasting than expected (umami and vegetal). This is perhaps due to its growing conditions though? It’s a high elevation Taiwan tea and reminds me of other “jade” Taiwan oolongs I’ve tried. Not my favourite oolong flavour profile overall, but it is well-balanced with the milk. What’s nice and most notable about this batch is that the milk flavour does carry along for multiple brews, eventually tapering off, leaving the tea tasting like something between a typical oolong and green tea. Many milk oolongs that I’ve tried quickly taper off into a normal flavour profile, so in that sense this tea is superior.

In conclusion, this is a lovely milk oolong overall, especially for people who prefer more subdued floral notes. Unfortunately, it’s turned out to not be my favourite simply due to the green flavour profile. I much prefer floral, fruity, or roasted oolongs.

Flavors: Butter, Milk, Sweet, Umami, Vegetal

195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 5 OZ / 140 ML

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My friend’s father died yesterday and I invited her over for tea and some down time between making funeral arrangements. Pulled this pu-erh out and it seems to have done a good job calming the nerves, or at least providing something else to focus on.

We used boiling water with 8 grams of tea in a 140ml teapot. 20 second wash was followed by short brews leading up to 1 minute long.

This tea is so lovely. The first thing we noticed was the aroma from the pot, very sweet and grape-like with deeper floral undertones. There’s a type of realistic gummy grape candy from Japan that actually tastes a lot like the aroma from this tea!

Even with the first pot or two the soup is a gorgeous dark caramel colour, you can just tell it will keep on giving with each brew. The mouth feel and smoothness in general is just awesome, viscous and creamy! Considering this was picked in 2007 I think it’s aged very nicely indeed. Mellow is the word. Hardly any astringency is present. I think it was stored very well as it seems to be incredibly clean. Didn’t notice much dust or sediment or weird tastes.

I think the flavour profile is quite rich and complex. Compared with the wet leaf aroma, you can taste the age of the tea significantly more. The grape mixes with notes of leather, honey, and sweet grass, and perhaps other fruit. It reminds me of drinking sangria actually. Strangely the floral notes seem to fade into the background which doesn’t bother me.

Overall I’m extremely impressed and pleased with this tea. My friend also loved it! I’ll have to buy a full cake as this was just a sample I purchased. I think it’s worth the price.

Flavors: Flowers, Fruity, Grapes, Honey, Leather, Sweet, Warm Grass

Boiling 8 g 5 OZ / 140 ML

And a good friend you are as well. Tea can be very comforting.

So Keta

Aw thank you! Tea is usually my go-to no matter how big or small the problem is.

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I’ve been painfully waiting for TWO MONTHS for my last order of tea, it got help up in customs for like six weeks which is just crazy. Happily, it’s finally arrived and I can’t wait to try everything out.

This white tea cake is the first one I’ve selected mostly because I haven’t drunk any white tea in a long while now and because it was the cheapest part of my order (save the best for last and such). The compression on the cake is quite nice and airy, very easy to pull apart, however the leaves are brittle and are dusting quite easily. I hope that doesn’t bring out the bitterness too much. The dry aroma is fruity and slightly floral with hints of balsamic vinegar. Very interesting nose for sure.

For this brew I used a 140ml teapot with 7.5 grams of tea (although I wish I had used a little more than that), and 85°C water. A quick wash was followed by steeps increasing in 10 or 15 second increments up to 1 minute long.

By the second or third pot the soup becomes a lovely sunset yellow/orange colour, and the flavour finally presents itself fully. I found the first couple pots to lack some flavour, perhaps this tea takes longer to “wake up”? Anyway, the taste is quite nice, but it’s not blowing me away or anything. There’s a bit of a raisin flavour mixing with peppercorn which is tasty. Not getting as many floral notes as I anticipated. The mouth feel is really what’s winning me over though, it’s very creamy and thick, thankfully with no astringency or bitterness. Nice. I think generally it’s a sweeter tea which somewhat makes up for a generic flavour profile.

All in all, a decent but forgetful white tea. The price definitely reflects the experience in this case. Also, as per the name, I did notice three distinct aromas between the dry leaves, the tea soup, and the wet leaves. Very interesting in that regard.

Flavors: Honey, Peppercorn, Raisins


Give it a rinse and a 10 minute period to wake up. It may change the tea brew a bit.

So Keta

Thanks for the tip, I’ll try that today.


White tea can be a bit harder to brew. Almost like a really fresh green can be. I think experimenting a bit to see if it makes any difference.

So Keta

Most of my experience with white tea has also been loose leaf, so a cake is a new beast altogether. I made a pot today and gave it a longer wash (20 seconds or so), that seems to have worked better. Will keep trying though.

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drank Houjicha by The Ikebana Shop
52 tasting notes

Wow, it’s been a couple months now since I’ve posted here, didn’t think it’d been that long. Usually at the end of the year I don’t buy any more tea and try to drink anything that’s been sitting unopened or about to go stale in my cupboard. Last week I found a sealed package of Kyoto houjicha that I had somehow buried and forgotten about! I purchased this maybe three years ago in Halifax, Canada of all places, thankfully it’s not stale yet. Anyway, that’s what today’s entry is about.

I used a new clay 140ml gaiwan with 7 grams of tea in 85°C water.
A quick wash was followed by a 10 second steep, working up to 1 minute brews.

I love aromatic teas, and this one doesn’t hold back. A pleasant char/roast scent hit me hard in the face before even sipping, followed by a subtle briny layer which I found was really unique. Definitely reminded me of being on an ocean pier or a beach bonfire. The flavour is just wonderful though, a typical umami roast is very forward in initial brews, but there are deeper undertones of wood, seaweed, and coffee to be coaxed out which just makes me very happy indeed. Wasn’t expecting such a complex flavour profile. The mouth feel is amazing too, the soup is thick and lubricating going down with a pleasant astringent aftertaste. I really like this tea, and will probably buy more as I only have 80 grams right now.

Flavors: Coffee, Roasted, Seaweed, Umami, Wood

7 g 5 OZ / 140 ML

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Blah I feel like crap today, currently taking a break from work and just so thankful I’m allowed to have a proper tea station set up at my work bench. It really makes a huge difference on days like today. Creature comforts and such.

Anyway, I’ve broken into this 15 gram sample of oolong and I’m quite pleased they included it. I like it significantly better than the jade oolong I purchased. Although it’s a rather green “high mountain” oolong, it’s super mellow yet somehow rich, fruity, and sweet. Not at all brothy and umami like some of the other oolong in this order. The citrus notes are enjoyable, but they’re actually not the flavours that stand out the most to me. There’s something like vanilla or white chocolate coming through, and a gentle floral sweetness too. The liquor is thicker than the other oolongs from this order as well. Amazingly smooth mouth feel, with some light astringency after a few cups. A distinct floral and vegetal aftertaste is present. Really quite impressed with this to be honest. I’m going to order more when I restock for an every day tea.

Flavors: Citrus, Floral, Vanilla, Vegetal, White Chocolate

7 g 6 OZ / 180 ML

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I’ve become entirely enamoured by oolongs. The range of flavours is outstanding. I love a good pu-erh too, but the majestic oolong has stolen my heart. Aside from flavour, I actually managed to brew the same gaiwan of Cape Jasmine two days in a row! Amazing.

I’m trying the third tea from that order today. Although this high mountain jade oolong was made in 2014, it has a very young appearance and overall tastes a bit closer to a green tea than a darker oolong (I suppose this is why it’s called “jade”?). It actually reminds me of another green tea I reviewed a few weeks back from Yunnan Sourcing, ironically called “Yunnan Jade Dragon” as well (although more brothy).

The flavour profile is a really nice balance of soup broth, spinach, cream, and gentle floral notes reminiscent of King of Duck Aroma, but nowhere near as in your face. I think I prefer the aroma better than the taste though.

In conclusion, I won’t be buying this again. I definitely prefer oolongs that are sweeter and more fermented, this is too green for me. It’s still a great tea, but I’m happy I only purchased 25 grams.

If anyone makes it this far down my review, please recommend me some of your favourite oolongs! Even if it’s a “green” oolong I will still try it, I’m sure many of them do not taste like this.

Flavors: Broth, Cream, Floral, Spinach, Umami

195 °F / 90 °C 8 g 6 OZ / 180 ML

I personally love green oolongs. Shibi oolong from TTC and Li Shan are a couple of my favorites. If you like something greenish but not too green, TTC has a light roasted competition Ali Shan that’s really nice. It’s fruitier and less grassy than other green oolongs

So Keta

Amazing, thanks for the recommendations! I’ll keep my eyes open for them. Fruitier sounds more up my alley. I really love milk oolong too, do you know of any that dance into that realm of flavour?

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Today I’m sipping on another Taiwan Sourcing oolong, blended with jasmine this time. Before I even brewed this tea I was taken aback by the epic bag appeal. The scent is otherworldly, it smells more like jasmine candy than tea!

For this session I used a 180ml gaiwan with 8 grams of tea in 90°C water.
A quick wash was followed by a 10 second steep, working up to 1 minute brews.

I’m a huge jasmine fan and pretty much instantly fell in love with this blend after the first brew. I think oolong is a much better base to use jasmine with than green tea, it makes the flavour more balanced and richer. Aside from the floral notes I’m also getting a bit of citrus and slightly roasted/nutty umami. The liquor is smooth and almost creamy, and yet again more thin than other oolongs I’ve had. It makes me salivate and there is very light astringency to the after taste (I find this pleasant though). I love everything about this and intend to keep it in my regular rotation.

It’s obvious this tea is clean and true with very high quality jasmine flowers. It’s night and day compared with jasmine scented teas. This is the first time I’ve ordered from Taiwan and I have to say I’m extremely impressed with the quality. I think its obvious they grow their teas with love and passion. I’m going to keep buying from there instead of China (excluding pu-erh, of course).

Flavors: Citrus, Jasmine, Nutty, Roasted, Umami

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A few weeks ago I placed my first order with Taiwan Sourcing and was nervous it would take months to get here as there is a country-wide postal strike currently ongoing in Canada. To my pleasant surprise it arrived yesterday and it couldn’t have come at a better time because I am running extremely low on tea. Praise the tea gods!!!

For this session I used a 180ml gaiwan using 10g, one initial 10 second wash followed by a 10 second brew, increasing by 10 to 20 seconds for each additional infusion.
- – -
Mmmmmmmmm. Mm. This is way more delicious than I thought it would be. I wanted to try some teas high in GABA for a few different health reasons and was expecting the value to be in the medicinal effects rather than the taste and experience. Clearly this tea provides both, and it’s absolutely glorious.

As described by TS themselves, this tea has a very strong sweet potato flavour. It actually tastes remarkably close to a classic holiday dish my family loves which is a sweet potato and marshmallow casserole (mashed potato on the bottom, baked marshmallows on top). After that first impression though the sweetness tastes less sugary and more of wildflower honey which makes sense given this is blended with osmanthus flowers. The liquor is a lovely shade of yellow, almost peach-like, and quite thin compared with some other oolongs I’ve tried. There is just absolutely no astringency, it’s smooth, and almost a bit cooling down the throat like mint in terms of sensation.

Later infusions of this tea bring out more savoury notes, still heavy on the sweet potato though. Remarkably there is a general pumpkin spice flavour towards the end, maybe cinammon and cloves or something. The overall taste is extremely clean with loads of depth and layers.

I can’t yet attest to the effects of the GABA as I imaging it takes a few days or weeks to build up in your system to have long lasting effects, but I will say this cuppa makes me incredibly relaxed, sociable, and feeling good. Highly recommend trying it!

Flavors: Cloves, Honey, Marshmallow, Osmanthus, Spices, Sweet Potatoes, Umami


“running extremely low on tea” – I realize this was months ago, but that is a problem I wish I had, so I could justify more orders! Hahahaha.

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World traveller, musician, tea lover.

Tea scoring criteria:

85 to 100 | Exceptional and unique. These teas are an unequivocal delight with every sip. The way they make me feel and the journey they take me on is incomparable.

70 to 84 | Delicious teas that are worth the price, albeit more common in quality and flavour. Still very good teas.

60 to 69 | Somewhat palatable teas that fail to deliver an experience at a level that would make me drink or buy more.

Under 60 | Just no…


Based in Toronto, Canada

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