Totem Tea

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Recent Tasting Notes

drank Spring Equinox Dragonwell by Totem Tea
1000 tasting notes

Thanks to White Antlers, I was able to have a full pouch of green tea to serve as the herald of spring before any fresh harvests could arrive at my front door.

The dry leaf of this smells a lot like Caramel Creams – those Cow Tales candies. I don’t recall ever seeing those candies in this area of California. I’ve mostly been cold-brewing this because the tea is old (though in fantastic shape!) and it makes a nice cold cup that tastes like the quintessential iced green tea in a bottle. Kinda sweet, kinda nutty, kinda ‘green’ and kinda bitter. I’m having a cup grandpa style today. With all the pollen doing its sticky business, my schnoz is stuffy so today this smells like peanut butter toast when brewing.

Little personal edit: Large gatherings leave me milling about looking for people to chat with one-on-one. My cousin had her wedding shower this weekend and because of my tendency to stray from the crowd, I of course chatted with the tender of drinks. I have a date after my second vaccine, the first of which I received this morning.

Martin Bednář

Try the Linden for the “schnoz”. I keep learning here…

derk

Yup, the linden will be coming into play soon. It really does work for my mild congestion.

Cameron B.

I’m the same way with large crowds. Introverts unite! And hooray for the impending date! :D

ashmanra

Oh neat! For the date I mean! I get my second shot Friday. Hooray!

Dustin

We get our 2nd on Friday as well! A hot shower really helped me with the sore arm discomfort.
It’s so weird trying to remember and relearn how this whole socializing in person thing goes!

derk

I’ve been feeling pretty uninspired and uncommunicative the past few months, so it was nice to have a goofy conversation and find some common ground. Hope you (ashmanra) and Dustin get through the 2nd shot with little negative reaction.

Dustin

Thanks! Same for you!

Martin Bednář

I wrote the comment before “little personal edit”: I am a bit envious that you get the vaccines! Nothing like that for youngsters like me here. And happy to hear about the date.

I miss goofy conversations too, and it is pretty much annoying. Yes, I have been with my family, but friends are friends…

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88

Only had gongfu and was definitely better in the clay gaiwan than the porcelain pot. The clay muted some of the roast, though by now, several years after I bought this tea, it is mellow.

Dry nuggets smelled of roast, figs, wood, brown sugar, chocolate carob. Warmed smelled very sweet and dark, rich with dark brown sugar, dried black figs, dried blueberries, florals, dark chocolate. Reminded me of a flourless chocolate cake make with a dark, fruity cocoa powder. The rinsed leaf became woody and pungent, with cooked green beans, seaweed snacks, eggplant, earth and something like tomato ketchup. Also floral — don’t ask how the florals fit in, but they did.

The brew was surprisingly complex and gentle. Thick, sweet mineral water body with a sheer overlay of pear florals, chocolate and dried fruits. Very warming, spicy chili pepper feeling in the mouth, a bit of a throat catch from the lingering roast. Plenty of spices like cinnamon and nutmeg were revealed later along with caramel, earth, grass, pine, cedar and coffee. Lingering mineral-caramel aftertaste turned to apricot skin. I noticed the aroma later with hazelnut chocolate and with this, the taste became more like roasted nuts, plant stems and camphor.

Really well done traditional Taiwanese tieguanyin dark roast. The roast brings out all those complex sweet, dark and fruity notes while leaving the liquor rather light and playful. Pleasantly warming for a December day.

Flavors: Apricot, Biting, Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Camphor, Caramel, Cedar, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Dried Fruit, Earth, Fig, Floral, Grass, Green Beans, Hazelnut, Mineral, Nutmeg, Pear, Pepper, Pine, Plant Stems, Roasted, Roasted Nuts, Seaweed, Spicy, Sweet, Thick, Vegetables, Wood

tea-sipper

Making a roasted tea sound perfect – impossible!

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At last! An oolong that can stand up to my barbarian abuse! Early a.m., western style, time around 3:30 ish, maybe, while I was rummaging in the fridge for my work lunch—-and delicious all the same. I’m seeing all kinds of taste comparisons in the reviews, but I don’t believe I see raisins and good fruitcake yet, so I’ll just throw those in there.

My tumbler rode to work with me, but didn’t last very far past my office door. Good stuff!
(I hereby nominate derk for “Donor of the Month.”)

Martin Bednář

Apparently a good tea when it is finished before the job :)

Leafhopper

I’ve also polished off good teas without spending enough time analyzing the taste. Also, Derk is absolutely the donor of the month, and I’ll be working through the teas she sent me for quite some time. :)

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85

Thanks to Derk for the sample! Because it costs more to ship from the U.S. to Canada than it does to ship here from Taiwan or China, I tend to have few teas from American companies in my cupboard. This is my first tea from Totem Tea, and as a Dong Ding-style oolong from Taiwan, it’s sort of in my wheelhouse. I steeped the roughly 6 g in a 120 ml teapot at 205F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The dry aroma is of cookies, peach, cinnamon, nuts, and wood. This tea is making me hungry! The first steep has notes of cookie, peach, walnut, anise, grass, orchid, cream, pleasant sourness, and wood. I can tell there’s a roast, but it’s somewhat green for a Dong Ding. The cinnamon and other spices are a bit more apparent in the second steep, as are the orchid florals and that sour note I tasted earlier. The third and fourth steeps continue to be nutty, woody, and floral, with some baked bread undertones. By steep five, notes of minerals, sourness, walnut, and wood become stronger, though there’s still plenty of sweetness and a little spice and florality. The session ends with wood, minerals, and roast.

While I didn’t get all the nuances from this tea that Derk did, I found it to be a slightly offbeat, intriguingly complex Dong Ding. Those cookie and spice notes were lovely, though I wish they’d stuck around a little longer. Thanks for the chance to try this tea from a new-to-me company.

Flavors: Anise, Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Cookie, Cream, Grass, Mineral, Nutty, Orchids, Peach, Pleasantly Sour, Roasted, Spices, Walnut, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
White Antlers

For some reason, this makes me wish for a plate of gingersnaps or nutty biscotti to dip into a snifter of tawny port.

Leafhopper

I’m glad my tasting note conveyed this tea accurately! I was craving gingersnaps the entire time I was drinking it.

White Antlers

LOL! I do believe that derk is a super taster and you really created the seasonal cookie (at least here in the U.S.- an old Hallowe’en standby) with your tasting note. : )

Leafhopper

Thanks! I agree that Derk is a super taster and I’m in awe of her palate. I hope to be able to detect all those flavours one day.

derk

You inspired me to make a pot. I do smell floral ginger and charcoal roast in the warm leaf. Supertaster? Idk, I love bitter sheng and stuff like all the bitter greens, ridiculously spicy peppers and Swedish snus tobacco but not coffee or dark chocolate even though I can appreciate them. I feel like my palate just kinda went crazy in my mid 20s. First, I quit smoking cigarettes, then a permanent taco truck showed up in my very whitebread town. Then I moved from Ohio to San Jose and went nuts with my first taste of Vietnamese food. I’ve since moved out of the toddler ‘put all the things in the mouth’ phase.

derk

White Antlers, I can see how you get that craving from Leafhopper’s note!

Leafhopper

Derk, that’s interesting! I also enjoy bitter things, like coffee and IPA. I’m sure putting all the things in the mouth helps with detecting flavours! I like eating different cuisines, but don’t cook much, so might not always know exactly what goes into various dishes.

Leafhopper

I might have to rope my family into doing this. My hunch is that I’m an average taster. How about you?

White Antlers

Oh, I’m a sub-par taster, Leafhopper. One reason I don’t post tea reviews even though I drink lots of it every day is because to me, it tastes like ‘tea,’ ‘good tea,’ ‘stuff I don’t like,’ or ’it’s okay.’ When I was a teenager, I was hit by a car as a pedestrian and as a result, suffered a traumatic brain injury which left me blind in one eye and with no sense of smell in my left nostril among other things. While I do enjoy bitter flavors (not beer),love almost all cuisines and don’t find cilantro ‘soapy,’ a super taster I am NOT.

Leafhopper

I separate tea into those categories, too. I don’t think you need to detect every nuance to enjoy good tea. :)

White Antlers

Nope, you really don’t. While I am not big on analyzing what I eat and drink, reading tasting notes like yours and derk’s gives me tremendous vicarious enjoyment and pleasure. : )

Leafhopper

Thanks! I’m glad you appreciate my notes! Sometimes they’re a shot in the dark, but I do my best. :)

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78

Some semblance of stability on here it seems. A part of wishes I went ahead and wrote the notes to let them cascade and save myself some time.

Anyway, thanks to Whiteantlers, I got a massive unexpected surprise on my door step a few days ago.

I saw her name, smiled, and then when I opened the package, I went “Damn….”

“You know me so well.”

I smiled in glee at the treasures, and immediately went to a particular tea that I’ve been coveting for a while from Lupicia-the fan favorite, but misunderstood grape bomb Muscat Oolong. Of course, more on that one later.

For now, this backlog of the many other backlogs I want to do, comes first. I was surprised Orchid Phoenix was not already added, and I was happy to try it. I love Milans, and Totem usually has teas with more refined notes and flavors, and a pretense more than quality that demands high price.

So does it have the usual roasted heather honey woodsiness you can expect from any Milan, with some more Lychee in steep one, but it does not expand beyond “Notes of honey, black pepper flowers, and sandalwood.” Accurate, yes, and I only got 4 rebrews out of it and the sandlewood “burned” into the last sessions. I liked it in steeps one and two, but it got muddled by the sandlewood notes later on being too woodsy.

I’m glad this was a sample, because $14 for this particular tea is way to high for only giving you 4 sessions after a minute for the first steep. I feel that this one is oversold, but I also feel that way about Totem Tea’s hiked up prices period. I still enjoyed being able to try it, though.

Flavors: Burnt, Honey, Pepper, Wood

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 0 sec
White Antlers

I agree with you about Totem’s prices. : ( Consider your box a way of me wishing you a few happy belated birthdays.

derk

Totem Tea is expensive. The incense is fabulous. My reaction to opening a box from White Antlers was disbelief. Perhaps a tear. Perhaps.

White Antlers

derk Ah! You enjoy incense? Perhaps when the blasted heat lets up here, you might find some coming your way…

ashmanra

Totem Tea has incense? Off to check it out! scamper

White Antlers

ashmanra Totem’s incense is nice, but I highly recommend Mermade Magickal Arts as well as Japan Incense for wonderful, unusual selection.

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This is another tea from derk!

I wanted something to go with a blueberry croissant from a local bakery. It was almost more like a Krispy Kreme doughnut with blueberry filling. They are delicious but almost too sweet for me. I thought a nice roasted tea would offset the sweetness perfectly.

This is one of the darkest, most heavily roasted oolongs I have ever had – and I loved it. I do not like coffee, and I have tried to wrap my head around what it is that people like about coffee. When I have tried it, it is so bitter and strong that I just don’t get it.

Tonight, this tea made me almost get it. There was something about it that made me think of coffee, but I loved every sip. It has light body but such richness, like nearly burnt toast and roasted nuts – maybe toasted pecan? – and smoke. The flavor of the tea more than made up for the overly sweet dessert.

Thank you, derk, for a lovely tea experience!

derk

Oh dang, that sounds like a great pairing.

gmathis

Taking note. This is the type of oolong my hubby likes best.

ashmanra

derk – it was delicious! My husband had picked up the croissants for the virtual baby shower for our soon to arrive grandsons!

Gmathis – I highly recommend it! I think he would love it!

derk

Will your grandsons be near ashmanra?

gmathis, I’d be happy to send you a sample to see if it’s something your husband would enjoy.

mrmopar

You aren’t old enough to have grandsons!! Twins, more similarities among us. Must be something in the family tree cousin, I have twin grandkids too.

gmathis

Derk, we’ve never turned down a sample of anything, but absolutely no hurry. You enjoy it first.

tea-sipper

Congrats, ashmanra!

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88

What an incredible herbal tea with half of the listed ingredients being unfamiliar to me.

Job’s tears, sicklepod seeds, dokudami, cat’s whiskers (Orthosiphon aristatus herb), turmeric, guava leaves, biwa (loquat) leaves, and reishi mushroom

Aromatic and flavorful, incredibly rich and dark when simmered, roasty and savory but with a very light mint-but-not-mint-y edge and just enough warm turmeric to peak through without dominating. Almost like a dark soy-based broth, but not? Or barley miso?

Totem Tea describes it with “Notes of unusual roasted herbs, warm brick, and kukicha.” YES. On another website, this is sold as a Grandpa’s blend. YES. I am so confused and so in love. Whatever this is, it’s satisfying for these chilly nights!

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more 10 g 17 OZ / 500 ML
Martin Bednář

Interesting blend derk! I Looked for every ingredient what is it and how it looks like. I really liked Orthosiphon aristatus flower, in Czech it could be translated like: trumpet flower.

But that’s not important, the important thing it is satifying for you!

gmathis

That is an encyclopedia in a mug! Do you feel older and wiser yet? ;)

ashmanra

Literally half the ingredients are new to me!

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drank Old World Qing Xin by Totem Tea
2535 tasting notes

This came to me from the ever generous derk! Thank you so much!

My husband said he would like to have tea tonight so I made cinnamon toast and set up for gong fu. We have been really enjoying a Dong Ding from Tin Roof Teas so I thought he would enjoy this tea, as well.

We used a scent cup and the aromas were lovely. I was surprised to smell cinnamon in the scent cup – and I am sure it wasn’t the cinnamon toast I was smelling! It was definitely in the cup. There was a hint of magnolia or osmanthus, too.

The steeped tea was a medium yellow color. It was smooth, not overly sweet and less roasted than some Dong Ding I have tried, but lightly woody still. Delish! The unfurling of the leaves was pretty impressive. I taste light cinnamon, a little woodsy flavor, light floral notes, and a very little mineral taste.

Delish! We enjoyed! Thank you, derk!

derk

You’re welcome :)

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85
drank Old World Qing Xin by Totem Tea
1000 tasting notes

Going for another Dong Ding so soon. Why not compare to learn? I’ve had this sitting in a jar with an absorber for probably over a year.

This is pretty dang different from the Taiwan Tea Crafts competition Dong Ding I had yesterday. Another awesome roasting, though. I’d classify it as more medium-roasted than light. Sweet, green, nutty anise cookie aroma and empty cup smell. The cooler and greener aspects like cardamom-pine-balsam-menthol and sweet grass are still able to shine brightly through a roast that mainly brings spice cookie-walnut-sweet almond-sandalwood flavors, fleeting molasses. There is an orchid undertone that seems to tie it all together. Impression of steamed milk on the swallow. Good bitterness that slides over the tongue and deposits in the back but quickly turns into sugarcane returning sweetness. Good astringency and minerality, too. Pleasant unripe peach aftertaste turns deeper. I get the classic high mountain oolong calmness which I actually didn’t experience in the Dong Ding from TTC. Moderately mouth and body cooling with an opening of the sinuses and ears.

Can’t believe I had two tasty Dong Ding oolong in a row.

Flavors: Almond, Anise, Bitter, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cookie, Cream, Floral, Ginger, Grass, Menthol, Milk, Mineral, Molasses, Nutty, Orchid, Peach, Pine, Plant Stems, Pleasantly Sour, Roasted, Spices, Sugarcane, Walnut, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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62

I received a freebie of Lugu Competition Dong Ding with my order, so thank you Totem Tea :)

Gone gaiwan. 2.5g, 60mL, 200-190F, didn’t keep track of steeps.

The scent of the dry leaf was one note — roasted peanut butter. Warming and rinsing the leaf brought out notes of roasted peanut, brown sugar, something marine, wood and violet pastilles. The first several steeps were incredibly light and smooth, so much that I couldn’t pick out any distinct notes beyond basic descriptors like bitter, tart, floral and vegetal. Very little aroma. I did get some bottom of the cup scents of violet, hyacinth and brown sugar. The light bitterness grew ever so slightly and the vegetal taste revealed itself as banana leaf. Some roasted walnut also popped in. Around the sixth steep at 30s, astringency and a metallic tone came in. The tea continued to ride out its light demeanor until the end.

This is the most expensive oolong of Totem Tea’s current offerings. I have to say I’m grateful this was a freebie because the price is out of my range and it turns out I didn’t enjoy this tea too much. At this point, I consider myself a sufficient taster but I just couldn’t pull anything significant from this tea even with lowering the temperature. I would’ve gone higher but was thinking that might increase the bitterness and astringency. It reminds me of how LuckyMe feels about some other comapnies’ Imperial Grade offerings. Totem Tea described the Lugu Competition Dong Ding as having notes of open flowers, caramel, spiced plum and clove but the closest I came was an undefined floral note. Maybe somebody with a really refined palate can get more pleasure from this tea than I was able to.

They have some killer incense, though!! I purchased the sampler of all 12 varieties they sell (except I only received 11?). My favorites are Kalimantan Aloeswood (China), Young Sandalwood (Taiwan), Golden Gaze and Golden Walks (Mongolia), Sinking Night (Japan), Offering (Taiwan), and Frankincense (Taiwan).

Preparation
2 OZ / 60 ML

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96

This was the final tea in the sampler provided to me by the folks at Totem Tea. Of the bunch, I would have to say that it was my favorite despite the fact that were was not weak link in the group. Though I have not had a ton of Oriental Beauty oolongs, I do enjoy them, and as of this posting, this is by far the best I have ever had. This was a deep, rich, complex, and absolutely gorgeous tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cedar, pine, baked bread, and malt. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond, rose, violet, candied orange, and spices. The first infusion introduced stronger rose, candied orange, and violet aromas as well as a subtle scent of honey. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of malt, baked bread, roasted almond, candied orange, violet, and rose that were chased by subtle honey notes. Subsequent infusions saw the nose turn even more intensely floral as well as a bit nuttier and spicier. Definite impressions of cinnamon and nutmeg emerged in the mouth alongside new notes of orange blossom, cantaloupe, honeysuckle, apple, pear, honeydew, and minerals. Very subtle hints of cedar and pine appeared as well, and I could also detect hints of peach and licorice in a few places. The final infusions presented lingering notes of minerals, cantaloupe, honeydew, roasted almond, pear, rose, and orange blossom that were supported by a subtle maltiness.

I am used to teas of this type that beat me over the head with stone fruit, honey, and roasted almond notes, so coming across one that overwhelmed me with impressions of flowers, melons, orchard fruits, and spices was a real treat for me. If you have yet to find an Oriental Beauty that does it for you, check this one out. It is well worth it.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Baked Bread, Cantaloupe, Cedar, Cinnamon, Honey, Honeydew, Honeysuckle, Licorice, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange, Orange Blossom, Peach, Pear, Pine, Rose, Violet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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90

Here is yet another tea I drank back in May that is only just now getting a review on Steepster. Totem Tea graciously sent me a sample of this tea in 2017 in exchange for a Steepster review. Naturally, I am only just now getting around to posting one because it’s not like I procrastinate terribly or anything. Anyway, this was a very nice Taiwanese black tea. It was a bit gentler and smoother than expected, but it most certainly had a lot to offer.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of honey, sweet potato, sorghum molasses, and some sort of dried fruit. After the rinse, I found new aromas of roasted nuts, cocoa, and wood. The first infusion then introduced a scent of candied orange and a definite aroma of raisin. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of honey, sweet potato, sorghum molasses, raisin, wood, candied orange, and malt that were balanced by brown sugar and stone fruit accents. Subsequent infusions saw more cocoa come out on the nose along with aromas of malt, brown sugar, and cherry. Stronger impressions of brown sugar came out in the mouth while the previously vague, generic stone fruit notes turned into distinct flavors of peach, cherry, and plum. Roasted almond and cocoa notes also emerged alongside impressions of minerals, cream, and vanilla. I could detect something of a camphor/menthol-like note in the aftertaste too. The final infusions presented lingering mineral, malt, wood, candied orange peel, and sweet potato impressions chased by something of a vague herbal presence.

This was a very refined and often subtle Taiwanese black tea. I am used to Taiwanese black teas with a bit more wildness, but this one was nicely put together, tightly layered, and very approachable. I could see this making a great introduction to some of the higher end Taiwanese black teas or a wonderful tea for a slow, mellow gongfu session. At this point, I can safely say that Totem Tea offers some good stuff. Anyone with an interest in quality loose leaf teas should at least consider checking out their offerings at some point.

Flavors: Almond, Brown Sugar, Camphor, Cherry, Cocoa, Cream, Honey, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Molasses, Orange, Peach, Plum, Raisins, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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90

I have to be about the worst promoter ever. If not the worst, I am certainly one of the most easily distracted. I received several free samples from Totem Tea quite a few months back that I was supposed to review here. Naturally, I opted to prioritize the teas on which I was already working and never got to them as promptly as I should have. This tea, in particular, was one that I promised to review at least 2-3 months ago. I finally got around to drinking it and taking session notes back around the start of the month. Three weeks later I am just now getting around to writing about it here. Overall, I found this to be a very nice dark roasted Tieguanyin with considerable depth, complexity, and longevity both on the nose and in the mouth.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped my 6g sample in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 20 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 14 seconds, 17 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, and 40 minutes. I was tempted to keep going, but I ran out of steam a little before this tea did.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of char, dark wood, cocoa, and cream. After the rinse, I noted the emergence of some hints of butter and spice, though for the most part, the tea’s bouquet did not change much. The first infusion then brought out scents of cinnamon and coffee. In the mouth, I found mild, subtle notes of charcoal, cocoa, dark wood, and cinnamon that gave way to equally soft, subtle notes of butter and cream toward the swallow. The subsequent infusions saw the darker wood notes lighten and start to differentiate into more distinct impressions of maple, cedar, pine, and spruce. New notes of vanilla, damp grass, cattail shoots, brown sugar, banana leaf, minerals, nutmeg, graham cracker, roasted peanut, caramel, brown toast, and molasses gradually appeared. Stronger notes of butter and cream came out on these infusions while the previously absent impression of coffee also finally made its appearance in the mouth. The later infusions retained notes of minerals, wood, charcoal, and cream that were a little stronger than expected. I could also still pick out some distant notes of cream, vanilla, caramel, cocoa, and coffee in the background.

If you have ever had a roasted Tieguanyin, the aromas and flavors this tea offers will not likely be new to you. It must be said, however, that the aromas and flavors this tea offers are far stronger, far deeper, and far more persistent than those of many similar teas that I have tried. In fact, it is getting rather difficult to find true dark roast Tieguanyin, as many roasted examples of Tieguanyin these days are usually either light or medium roast teas. Probably more for the aficionados of heavier roasted oolongs, this would still be an excellent tea for anyone with an interest in such teas. Definitely consider this one if you are looking for something more challenging.

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Brown Toast, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Char, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Coffee, Cream, Dark Wood, Graham Cracker, Grass, Maple, Mineral, Molasses, Nutmeg, Peanut, Pine, Roasted, Vanilla, Vegetal

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
mrmopar

I am guilty of this too.

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86
drank Gui Fei Oolong by Totem Tea
943 tasting notes

A couple months back, Totem Tea offered to send me some free samples in exchange for a review of each on Steepster. Now I am not one to ever turn down free tea, regardless of how large my backlog of reviews is or how much tea I already possess, so naturally, I jumped at the opportunity. I have been promising to get around to posting reviews for at least two or three weeks, and here I am finally get a start on that. Of the teas I was sent, this was the first I tried. I found it to be a very nice, sophisticated Gui Fei oolong.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. The instructions on the sample pouch instructed me not to rinse the tea, but as I always rinse oolongs, I opted for a flash rinse (water on, water off). After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 200 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by infusions of 12 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, I caught aromas of honey, prune, and nectarine coming from the dry tea leaves. After the rinse, I discovered interesting scents of rose, cedar, and roasted almond. The first infusion brought out a subtle orange scent. In the mouth, I found predictably light notes of honey, rose, roasted almond, and orange accompanied by hints of malt and cream. Subsequent infusions brought out stronger cream and malt impressions while the cedar, nectarine, and prune notes showed up in the mouth. I also began to get notes of butter, peach, saffron, violet, baked bread, geranium, lemon, toasted cashew, and minerals underscored by a slight charcoal presence. The later infusions offered lingering impressions of cream, minerals, malt, and charcoal balanced by touches of honey and dried fruit.

It was obvious to me that this was a quality Gui Fei oolong. There was a lot to appreciate about it. I was a little disappointed that I did not get more sweetness out of the last series of infusions, but that may have had more to do with the way I brewed the tea and my ongoing battle with seasonal allergies than anything else. Overall, I was rather impressed. Check this one out if you are a fan of bug-bitten oolongs.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Butter, Cedar, Char, Cream, Fruity, Geranium, Honey, Lemon, Malt, Mineral, Orange, Peach, Roasted Nuts, Rose, Saffron, Violet

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Totem Tea

Wonderful! I’m very glad you enjoyed the tea, and I look forward to your future reviews. All the best, – Phillip

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This was a sample for review
5.5g /80ml glazed teapot
Dry leaf smell of plum chutney, sweet and spicy, tomato on a vine.
I used off boil and short steeps. Leaves look delicate. This tea is bold and quite complex. Sweet and spicy, malty, some dark fruits, nutmeg and cinnamon and cherry tartness. With long lasting minty coolness in aftertaste. Not as strong as #18 but pretty noticeable.
I liked drinking it as it cooled a bit. It was nice as we are finally getting cooler mornings. I paired it with Offering incense generously provided by @totemtea . I think it was a good match. I don’t use incenses because of allergies but this was very pleasant and didn’t bother me at all. I think it complemented this tea nicely. It was very nice session overall. Thank you totemtea for sharing your tea and incense with me

Nicole

Sounds good!

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This was a sample for review
3g/50ml porcelain 212F
This is Alishan TGY. Dry leaf is highly aromatic of fruits, nuts and some floral. This tea takes boil temp well. It has tropical fruits notes (pineapple, lychee), roasted nuts and some florals on the background. Later steeps brought up dried fruits, cinnamon, nutmeg, mineral and slight pleasant bitterness typical to TGY. Some florals but it’s more fruity than floral if it makes sense. Later steeps I transferred leaves to my Hokujo kyusu which holds temp better than porcelain. I suggest you to drink it while it’s hot. As it cools bitterness is more pronounced. .
This Alishan TGY is very nice. If you like Muzha TGY you will enjoy it as well. I find it less finicky than Muzha and wallet friendly too .

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 2 OZ / 50 ML

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drank Old World Qing Xin by Totem Tea
493 tasting notes

Got this sample for review. This is traditional roasted Dong Ding that is not common nowadays unfortunately. The roast is skillful and tea tastes settled. It’s not overpowering.
3g/50ml 212F
Started in gaiwan but then transferred to my Hokujo kyusu from @artistic_nippon #artisticnippon
Dry leaf smells of fruits and roasted nuts and maybe touch floral.
It is dried fruits sweet, oily thick and mineral with pleasant bitterness at some moments. Savory spices, tingling the tongue. Some dill, nutmeg and peppers. It was highly enjoyable and went thru many many steeps.
I tasted several Dong Ding at that time and I think this one really stood out for me. I love traditional roasted DD
Thank you for the chance to try it totemtea

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 2 OZ / 50 ML

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This was a sample for review.

I had an enjoyable session with this tea. It says a lot because high mountain oolong is a rare guest. It has wonderful aroma, umami taste, some spice, barely floral on the background. Has long lingering spicy and minty aftertaste. It went thru many steeps, took slightly off boil temp well. Leaves are quite sturdy after many steeps.
I paired it with Kalimantan Aloeswood incense. Really liked the aroma. Not overwhelming just right
Thank you totemtea for sharing this Lishan and incense with me. It was really enjoyable session

Preparation
Boiling 3 g 2 OZ / 50 ML

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82
drank Bai Lin Gong Fu by Totem Tea
188 tasting notes

Anything special, not really, but it is well made and according to the description all hand processed. A for effort and B for the finished product. I remember Bai Lin being a little darker than this blondish presentation but the leaf is uniform, fuzzed and fragrant Brewed gongfu in a small teapot with a quick rinse, then I married 2 steeps together to be able to read the morning news. Refreshing, smooth, mild cocoa, fig, no aftertaste. straight up red tea. There is a most noticeable kick after 15 minutes which is non jarring so I just road the wave.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 130 ML
Daylon R Thomas

I think you’ve probably tasted better ones than I have, but Joseph Wesley’s Bai Lin is excellent and though Shangs Tea is dry, it has the same characterisitcs of a white tea which makes it impressive. I’ve heard good things about Teavivres and Yunnan Sourcing’s offerings for Bai Lin as well.

BigDaddy

Will give the other sites a shot at turning me on to this tea, had some in Queens at 2 different tea houses and liked it but was not overly impressed but Teavivres and YS do have some yummy selections.

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drank Gui Fei Oolong by Totem Tea
1244 tasting notes

Gong Fu’d a sample and was surprised that I enjoyed it. I did not get the rocky, sea weed salty roast that I normally associate with this tea and instead got something juicy and floral. It made me think of hot apple juice with roast only coming in the later, longer steeps. The floral edge was something that I did not see coming and that made me pretty happy. So my appreciation of this roast has been reinvigorated, but at the same time, I do not see myself getting this tea for its price. I do recommend it as a Gui Fei to try if you are exploring some avenues.

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Well, I have some great news. I PASSED BOTH THE MICHIGAN SOCIAL STUDIES AND HISTORY CERTIFICATION TESTS! That’s one HUGE weight off my shoulders. Since one of my friends sent me a decent amount of tea, I decided to celebrate with this buddy on the green side.

I’ve always wanted to try Totem Tea, but never have because of price. This tea so happened to be on the list. I got what I expected from an Osmanthus oolong, and the first two steeps-15 sec and around another 15-20 sec with 200 F water-were nicely floral and sweet. I got a little bit of the chestnut thing going on with the notes. It was on the sweeter floral side and very savory over all. This was good compared to others I’ve had, but I think I like a little bit more floral in my oolong hence my preference for the green mega light roasts. The longevity was sold- about 4 good steeps and 2 decent ones later from half of a sample package. I’m assuming the amount was close to 3 grams. I brewed it twice and the sample felt like 5.

I was still happy to try this and enjoyed it all the better. I think it’s pretty approachable for someone newly trying it, my roommate liked it fair enough. If you otherwise drink oolong and know osmanthus, you know what you are getting yourself into.

Evol Ving Ness

Congratulations!

mrmopar

Awesome!

Indigobloom

Sweet. Congrats!!

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88

Came as a free sample, and I can see why. Such a lovely tea, full figured, redolent, well nuanced, begging to be purchased. I can add no more than what was described by Haveteawilltravel, the review speaks volumes.

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89

I am not one for black teas, but this leaf has quite an aroma. The leaves consist of long dark tendrils with sweet dry cocoa powder and malt emitting from them. I brought this along with me on a road trip this past summer and everyone loved it. I warmed up my gaiwan and placed the sample inside. The cocoa became even stronger with some slight smoke. I sniffed some more and picked up some dark bittersweet fruits, burnt sugar, and black cherries. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The drink is a nice solid malt. A pronounced mahogany tone pops ups and is backed by char, oats, and honey. The body is thick and full and it has a slight brisk dryness. This brew reminds me of black cherry soda. Its a nice burly tea with good longevity. I enjoyed it, as did everyone with me!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BGU6rTDzGeU/?taken-by=haveteawilltravel

https://www.instagram.com/p/BGU6RHSTGdN/?taken-by=haveteawilltravel

Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Char, Cherry, Cocoa, Dark Wood, Fruity, Honey, Malt, Oats, Smoke, Smooth

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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drank Gui Fei Oolong by Totem Tea
358 tasting notes

I think it’s safe to say this is a totally new and unique tea experience for us. Had one sample of this and used all 5 grams of it. The dry, rolled leaves didn’t have too assuming of a scent, but as soon as I washed, the roasty, woody, tangy fruit aroma hit. The liquor is a nice medium gold.

The flavor is a bit hard for me to put into words immediately. That tangy flavor is definitely front and center for me, and there’s an interesting spiciness, both in flavor and sensation at the back of my throat. Fruity, floral (but light enough not to put me off), and I can tell there is some char in there, but it seems pretty subtle.

Second steep is nice and robust. A bit more woody with roasted nuts and rounded out by that tangy fruit. I feel like I am getting some camphor notes and, surprisingly, a bit of qi off this, as well.

More roasted nuts in the third steep, with a hint of creaminess on the tail end and a lingering sweetness.

Got a couple more steeps out of this before the day came to an end. I definitely would like to further explore this type of oolong!

Flavors: Fruity, Roasted, Roasted Nuts, Tangy

Preparation
5 g

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