Ken Lee (AliExpress)

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Recent Tasting Notes

This tea reminds me of the corn syrup my mother used to pour on ice cream as a child. It has a rich sweet flavour, mixed with roasted notes, cocoa, a hint of malt and sweet dried fruit. It is really smooth brewed at high temperatures and very short steeps ( boiling and 5-10s to start). In later steeps it mellows to a caramel. The aftertaste is very sweet and lingering. It resteeps really well and I ’ve steeped it past 11 times. When brewed western style the flavour becomes too much for me and heads to an acidic molasses. The liquor is red edged with gold even at short steeps.

The dried leaves are small, very tightly wound and like to interlock with each other. It can make it difficult to get out of the bag. They are shiny black, with reddish copper buds and smell like raisins. It makes a fantastic dessert tea.


this sounds delicious! how do you pick on aliexpress? im completely lost. did you know the seller before you placed an order? or its like gambling?


I just lost a big long message but I’ll start again. First I’ll say that I have really only had issues with transactions twice. Once the seller cancelled the transaction before shipment with no communication. This was no big deal, my money was refunded without issue, it was just a little rude. Later on I found out that the item was out of stock. The second time was more serious as they put the item into shipped status, then said the item was out of stock and tried to foist a whole bunch of unwanted alternates on me. This was not a big sale and eventually I agreed on a tea because the sale was under five dollars and not worth going to dispute. Otherwise my experience has been positive and I have now done over 30 transactions on the platform.

I guess it is a little bit like gambling as I have bought from sellers ( all positively) with no sales history ( the first sale was the Laoshan which was an amazing price of $12/250g including shipping). Generally I will attempt communication with the seller as this will often tell me whether they no their stuff or are simply copying adds from Taobao. Remember though that English is not their first language usually and tyhei can be mix communications. I have had some great conversations with sellers and learned many things. Some things to bear in mind: descriptions can be misleading so look at the factory produced description if possible and look for information about shipping weight etc. If it is not clear ask. I mostly ignore the star system 4 or 5 stars simply means that the transaction was completed successfully and the buyer got more or less what they expected. If their are negative ratings look at what they are about. Mostly its items that the seller can’t do anything about like shipping time and sometimes it’s only one product that has skewed the ratings. Don’t discount sellers because they sell non tea related things. Often this is where you can get family grown, or more unusual products, or in some cases you can get great deals because they can afford to buy in volume. I found most of my sellers either through searches of specific items is. Rizhao tea, or by looking at the sales page ( that’s how I found this seller. He had great tea but is currently not selling). If the item is not unique to the seller copy the description into the search engine and see what comes up. I’ve seen the same tea varie in cost by over 30$. I got this tea for under 13$ where other sellers were selling it for over 90. If you have any other questions don’t hesitate to ask.


Thank you for sharing your experience. I bought on aliexpress only once. Some one recommend me the link for the cake, so it was very safe transaction. It is so addictive I can’t stop browsing


I sometimes have that problem as well;).

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I’m not sure if this is the right listing or not, but it’s a jin jun mei from ken lee, so… probably?

So… all fun times must come to end. My husband went to the store to pick up a few things and on reentry to our drive way, somehow hit a big pipe and we sprung a massive outdoor water leak. There is now an ice rink in the street in front of our house. My husband isn’t alway so calm in these situations so it was a bit, how should i put it, um, yeah, it was loud.

I thought at least it was outside not inside, so there’s that! Anyway, it took about 20 minutes of digging in the snow to find the water shut off for that area. The water is no long flowing into the street. I’m now inside, taking some deep breaths, drinking this tea, and playing play doh.

I like this tea. Very grainy and chocolaty. Glad it was my post crazy water pipe breaking tea.

Now back to enjoying the snow. Please. No more craziness!


Glad you found the shut off what a nightmare! We’ve been having a real winter this year,ranging from the ice storm and kids skating on the street, to so much snow people were cross country skiing on the sidewalks. My cousin’s happy they have a huge backyard and like to put out an almost NHL standard rink in the back. Glad you like the tea the other one has more of a reddish tip and is more caramelly/ corn syrupy.

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This was my morning tea at work today.

Thank you yyz for another interesting tea. I feel like I don’t have the knowledge or palate to really understand some of these teas. You’ve pushed me out of my comfort zone, and while I may not have “got” all the lessons – I really appreciate the experience and somehow I’m looking at some teas differently. Thank you!!

LOL this one confuses me. First off – I had a little argument in head about what this actually was. In my limited experience Jin Jun Mei is black, Wuyi Rock is oolong, milk is oolong. The leaves looked like a black tea, smelled like a black tea – the side of me that was voting for black finally won the argument and this got chosen for morning (I’m trying to drink black in the morning – oolong in the arvo).
Once I actually was drinking it (at this point there was no doubt it was a black – yay I got it right!!!), my confusion really set in. This has some of the characteristics of a malty, chocolatey Chinese black – that part of me is really happy – it has a really starchy mouth feel – that part of me not so happy (too starchy) – it has that really “high, acidic, white wine, up your nose” thing that I have no idea how to describe – but I don’t like it(ok this goes away as it cools some – that’s a good thing).
Way too many things going on for my poor newbie brain. I’m not sure that it’s that I don’t like this, I think it’s more I don’t understand this. Maybe if I understood the nuances, I could appreciate how they are playing off each other – but for now it just seems like a bunch of noise in my mouth. I think I would like to try this one again 6 months from now and see if I’ve “grown” into it.


If you have enough try it in very short steeps. Like 5 s poured off slowly ,with boiling water. Not really what I usually do with Chinese blacks but it creates a thinner tea and the flavour is kind of like a cross between caramel and corn syrup. I have some blacks that seem odd and counterintuitive. One was labeled as a green black, but looks like a very tippy black tea and they mean it. Treat it to hot water and you get, those vitamin c like notes, brew it as a picky green and it’s chocolate. This one’s kind of opposite for some reason. I don’t know why they called this a rock tea either it is rolled. I’m used to a milk tea being one thats good to steep in milk. Though I’m not sure I’d do that with this tea. If you want some more to play with let me know, I’d be happy to send it to you:)


Very interesting review Dexter…I think you’ve managed to describe very well how it translated to you.

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I think there should be a law against making people work at 7AM on a Sunday morning (or any morning for that matter).
I don’t think I should be drinking good samples that yyz generously sent me. Really this morning all I’m doing is pouring in caffeine, not really taking the time to enjoy the tea.
What I do know, is that this is going down nice and easy (working on cup 4 right now) – maybe a bit too “bright” for my tastes, but nice and smooth. All in all a nice cup that is fulfilling my caffeine needs this morning.


Sunday at 7?! Ugh, I feel for ya.


Hang in there Dex, think of how good lazy Monday will feel like tomorrow :-)


My job would be a lot easier this morning if they would close the highways. Travel advisory in effect – blowing snow with poor to zero viability at times. ALl I can do is tell my guests this – I can’t DECIDE for them what to do.

Terri HarpLady

Sorry to hear you have to work so early, but glad you have some tea to enjoy


Hope the day goes quickly and people remember to not take their frustrations out on you! Glad the caffeine helped. This one is quite bright, I agree. It used to be even brighter. It’s mellowing out a little. The other two Jinjunmei’s have very different characters. This one was probably a good choice for today though as the caffeine content is a little higher!

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This is one of my favourite all day teas. Its initial cups are bright and fruity and almost creamy, it lasts anywhere between 7-11 steeps,and it finishes in caramel honey. I haven’t had it for a while and the fruit is mellowing and is less tart as it ages but it’s still pretty fabulous.

The tea consists of dark tightly wound short leaves with copper gold tips.
1.5 TSP in a 225ml vessel steeped at boiling for 45 seconds yields an amber red liquid tinged green gold at the edge of the cup. This one does require a slightly longer steep than some of my Jinjunmeis and does not brew as deep a red but it has a great bright flavour.

The scent of this tea is warm, sweet and bright with sweet potato, caramel, smoke and longan, hint of chocolate and cinnamon.

The flavour is of fruit and very light smoke/ roast and cinnamon notes on top, with caramel, cocoa and hint of sweet potato with peppery notes underneath. It tastes bright, sweet and smooth and leaves a cooling sensation at top front of my mouth. The tea yields a good dose of caffeine. Longan dominates the aftertaste, with light peppery notes and a lingering caramel sweetness. Through later steeps them long an will fade then it will have a couple of sterps that taste like an orange pekoe Ceylon and then it yields caramel towards the end. A great tea for all day.

I’ve enjoyed all the black teas I’ve got from this aliexpress seller and he has really great sales. However he had problems with his partner and currently reorganising his business. Hopefully he returns to selling teas soon as they seemed to be well received.


Nice description!

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