57 Tasting Notes

drank Sen Cha by Sugimoto America
57 tasting notes

*Quick Note

I got this from a Marukai Japanese market in San Diego during my spring break. I thought it was plain sencha until read the back of the packaging and realized it was a fukamushi type.

Anyways, I was pleased with the taste of this tea. It is lightly sweet, medium bodied, a bit nutty, and with no astringency whatsoever.

Very good store bought sencha.

175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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drank Tie Guan Yin by TeaSpring
57 tasting notes

My TeaSpring Ti Kuan Yin order has just arrived! I ordered about an ounce of each of their TKY and will be reviewing them in the coming weeks as soon as I can. First lets start with their lowest priced TKY.

>Dry Leaf Apperance/Aroma
Curled up dark jade leaves, typical Ti Kuan Yin look, nothing out of the ordinary. Floral aroma is really subtle, barely noticeable on the dry leaf but prevalent in the the foil pouch the tea came packed in.

>Brewing Method
Following Teaspring’s directions using a Yixing teapot, freshly boiled water, and 1 min steep time.

> Liquid Appearance
Clear golden green, first cups were very pale.

> Taste/Aroma
I re-steeped this tea 5 times. After the 4th cup I noticed a sharp drop in flavor and decided to end the session after the 5th.

The 1st cup was very light in taste, faintly floral, but with a really smooth taste. Not as “fresh” as other TKY’s. The 2nd cup remained with a similar muted floral taste, but the tea became slightly thicker, almost creamy. In the 3rd cup, the tea had a very nice creamy texture but aroma and flavor was lacking. By the 4th cup, the tea lost most of its creaminess and a subtle green taste began to emerge. The 5th cup was really faint in taste, no aroma, and barely any texture.

> Wet Leaf Appearance
The leaves were mostly medium sized, mostly damaged in some way, but with few stems.

> Overall
Well I really wasn’t expecting much from TeaSpring’s budget TKY. Despite its low price, I don’t think I would purchase this again, even as my everyday option, as I feel the taste is too light and there are much better affordable options out there. I did enjoy how the texture of this tea evolved from light and smooth, to thick and creamy.

On another note, I don’t know if it has always been this way with TeaSpring, but in my last two orders, both my packages came heavily damaged (cardboard box seemed as if it had been under a super heavy item during the whole shipping process). Thankfully the tea itself wasn’t damaged.

205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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*Quick Note.

I’ve had this for a while but I don’t drink it too often. I experimented a lot with this tea, as I received a big batch as a gift.

Brewing it Teavana’s way (1tsp per 8oz water at 195F), I found it a little flavorless and uninteresting. I tried brewing it gong-fu style and got a much better result.

Using lots of leaves and short steep times, this tea makes a very interesting cup. The wet leaf smells fantastic, like hot raisins mixed with other dried fruit. The taste is lightly toasty, with sweet (dried) fruity undertones.

I enjoyed this tea even though I feel it’s a little pricey.

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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drank Huang Jin Gui by TeaSpring
57 tasting notes

*Quick note.

This feels like a budget Ti Kuan Yin. Very similar in various aspects that some might even think it’s the same tea (I’ve read somewhere that Huang Jin Gui is in reality a variety of Ti Kuan Yin, whether that’s true or not I don’t really know).

This tea is very VERY aromatic, I brewed this gong-fu style and as soon as the near boling water hit the leaf, I was hit by a very nice spring-like floral aroma. Taste-wise it’s good, very light in taste though. Sweet with a slightly thick body. Other than that, it is a very straight forward (Anxi) green oolong.

I did like this tea, reminds me a lot of TKY but fresher, greener, lighter, and more about aromatics rather than the whole package. Good as an everyday option I guess.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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*Quick note

Solid everyday green oolong.

I’ve had this for a while, often neglecting it for my more “complex” stuff, and never took the time to write about it. This was one of the first oolongs I ever tried. It’s great when you just want tea without any hassle. Brews great western, gong-fu, in-mug, etc., and tastes good.

Lightly sweet, subtly floral, and smooth, it’s hard to go wrong with this tea (especially for the price, less than $4 an ounce at the time this was bought).

195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 15 sec

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Part of my recent Oolong order from Verdant.

This note will be more of a first impression. I loved the aroma of the dry leaf, reminded me of autumn, scents of nuts, dried oranges, and a touch of honey.

Taste-wise I really enjoyed this tea, again this reminds me a lot of autumn. First few infusions were nutty and subtly sweet with a touch of red apple. I then noticed a dried orange note in later infusions. Like biting on a small piece of orange skin (with dryness in the mouth and all). It was pretty pleasant.

So far so good but I just did 5 steepings. I will revisit this tea with a longer gong-fu session to fully explore what this tea has to offer.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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*Thanks to Krystaleyn for letting me know I posted the note on the wrong page. same note as earlier just moved to 2012’s spring pick page.


While I did say I would be taking a break from detailed notes, I just had to properly review this tea. So here it is, Spring 2012 Tie Guan Yin!

>Dry Leaf Appearance/Aroma
Tightly curled up jade leaves. Smaller in size than most TKY’s I’ve had (consistent with autumn 2011 pick). The dry leaf was very aromatic. Even a single leaf gave a delightful floral fragrance.

>Brewing Method
Gongfu style using a small 6 oz Yixing pot dedicated for Tie Guan Yin only. Using freshly boiled water and short steep time as recommended by Verdant tea (3-6 secs).

>Liquid Appearance
Clear bright golden green.

My first two cups were delicious. Sugary sweet, floral, and with a nice floral aftertaste that originated from the back of my throat. While the dry leaf was very aromatic, the liquid was not as strong but noticeable when drinking the tea.

On the third cup, the tea became deliciously creamy, with a silky smooth texture that felt very nicely filling your mouth. All this while retaining its sweet floral taste. I noticed this “thicker texture” was more noticeable when the tea was hot, not so much when it cooled off. The fourth cup remained mostly the same. The aftertaste of this tea haunts me as I boil more water, as if my mouth is telling me “more, more, more!”

Surprisingly by the 5th cup, the creaminess is completely gone, but basic taste remains there. I do notice a slight “green” hint but not too bothersome. The 6th cup required a longer brew time, as flavor was getting weaker. Tea was lighter in taste, but still very good.

By the 7th cup, there was no aroma, but the tea was still very tasty retaining its slight sugary sweetness. While I’m certain this tea can take more than 7 infusions, I ended my session there as it is too much tea for me to drink in one sitting.

>Wet Leaf Appearance
I was a little surprised here. The tea contained many broken and damaged leaves, lots of small pieces, and quite a few stems (even found a 3 inch one). Unbroken leaves ranged from really tiny ones to very large ones.

This tea was truly a journey. While I only re-steeped the tea 7 times, that was more than enough to convince me of the quality of this TKY. Comparing it to Autumn’s pick I’d say this is truly a better offering. It is very tasty(sugary sweet and floral), creamy, and with a truly haunting aftertaste (something I found lacking in Autumn’s 2011 pick). I did notice that Spring’s 2012 pick was a bit weak on the aroma of the brew, but the amazing taste made up for it. Definitely a must try if you love Ti Kuan Yin!

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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Just got my big oolong order from Verdant (I’m excited to try their spring Tie Guan Yin!), I ordered an ounce of each of their oolong teas, but somehow, I forgot to add an ounce of this to my order. Thankfully, I got a nice sample pack of this tea with my order.

This tea gives you an incredible rocky mineral taste that fills your mouth in the first cup with hints of chocolate. I brewed this in a quick gong-fu style doing only 4 steepings. The rest of the cups were not as strong in the mineral sensation, but lightly smoky and with a really subtle hint of cinnamon.

I will re-brew this tea once I have time to do a longer gong-fu session and post a more detailed tasting note. Overall, I enjoyed this Da Hong Pao very much, especially the first cup.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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drank Da Hong Pao by Harney & Sons
57 tasting notes

*It has been a little hard to give proper reviews to the teas I’ve been tasting lately, so temporarily I’ll give quick notes instead of my fully detailed ones. In a month or so I’ll go back to my previous format and revisit all of these quick notes.

Anyways, this tea is delicious. Previous Da Hong Pao’s I’ve tasted tend to go on the overly toasty flavor, but not this one. This one is lightly smoky, with hints of dried fruit, and a really subtle mineral tingling sensation in the mouth. My go to Da Hong Pao, especially for the price.

200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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drank Ti Kuan Yin by Adagio Teas
57 tasting notes

I recently ordered several samples from Adagio and as a fan of TKY’s I had to place a sample of this in there. The tea comes in a nice foil Ziploc bag with Adagio’s logo and short instructions on how to brew. I was pleased when the sample size was about an ounce, as most tea vendors that offer samples give you much less than half an ounce.

The dry leaves have the typical TKY look, dark jade green with splotches of lighter green in between, I also noticed some brownish spots but nothing too prevalent. The leaves were tightly curled up, firm, and slightly oily. The smell of the dry leaves was slightly floral but it had a slight unpleasant metallic smell. Not too strong, subtle actually, but still noticeable that was enough to bother me, maybe old tea?

Anyways, I brewed this tea following the suggested directions, using 195F water and 3 min steep time. As with all my Chinese teas, I brewed this using a Gaiwan.

This gave me a bright yellow green cup with a slight flowery aroma, but something was off, the aroma had an “old” smell to it. Usually TKY’s have a distinctive floral aroma and this one had it too (although not as strong as others) but it also had another, again subtle yet noticeable, off aroma that bothered me. I can’t describe it in other words other than “old tea” aroma. Taste wise the tea was ok. Very Light in taste, lightly floral, and perhaps even a slightly creamy finish. In my second and third cup, the aroma slightly cleared up but the “offness” was still there. Flavor remained mostly unchanged. On the 4th and 5th cup, taste became “greener” and lighter. the 6th cup was very light in taste, so I ended the brewing there.

The wet leaf revealed few stems, medium sized leaves, and most leaves had one form of damage to them.

Overall, since I received almost an ounce worth of sample, I experimented a lot with this tea with different brew times and techniques(gongfu) but flavor/aroma “offness” was still there. Maybe I got a bad batch or it was a sample that was tucked away for a long time and they decided to send it to me, but let’s just say I did not really enjoy drinking this tea (first few infusions were terrible, but becomes drinkable/slightly enjoyable in the later ones as the aroma clears up) I may purchase another sample in the far future just to confirm what I think about this tea, but as of right now I would not purchase this tea.

*after reading some reviews, seems that maybe I did get an old sample… shame.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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SoCal native and Tea addict.

Looking to try every single type of tea the world has to offer.

I’m not too fond of flavored tea or blends, but every now and then, there will be one that I like.

I enjoy all types of tea, but my absolute favorites are Japanese Greens and Oolongs.

I am much more familiar with Chinese and Japanese teas. I’m looking to get in to Korean tea next and then Indian/Ceylons. Herbals are good too, but I don’t pay much attention to them (except rooibos).

Ti Kuan Yin (or Tie Guan Yi, whichever you prefer) Is one of my favorite teas. I’m trying to taste many offerings from different vendors to find the absolute best batch I can find.

My “Tea-Dream” is to one day make a cultural-tea trip to China, Taiwan, and Japan.

Ratings Guide

0 – 19 = Bad.
20 – 49 = Meh.
50 – 59 = It’s Ok.
60 – 69 = I like it, but…
70 – 79 = Good.
80 – 89 = Very Good.
90 – 100 = Amazing.


Los Angeles, CA

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