987 Tasting Notes

I didn’t feel like doing a whole gong fu thing tonight, so I just did a few lazy western steeps – 5 grams, 8 oz of water, and 3 steeps ranging from 30-45 seconds each.

This tea smelled really interesting right after it was rinsed. I sensed a deep, earthy, sweet smell that reminded me – of all things – of toasted marshmallows. Thinking about it more closely, I suppose that was the nuttiness I was reacting to.

I didn’t get much mushroom flavour out of this, but it was nutty (walnut and almond skin, I think) and vaguely fruity. Smoky. A little astringent. I was sipping this while writing up the second draft of some website copy for a freelance client. Glad to have one smaller thing off my plate (and a small serving of tea in my cup!)

PS: Thanks, ubacat for sending this to me! Sharing a tea box with you has been so fun.

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As soon as I opened the packet of this tea, I knew I was in for a treat: there were beautiful green, fluffy strands of dry leaf mixed in with whole dried jasmine flowers. One rule of thumb for jasmine teas is that the higher-quality stuff uses real flowers rather than jasmine essential oil, so it was really good to see that here. The smell was also lovely: fresh and floral, with a hint of sweetness.

The resulting tea was a very pale yellow that darkened as it cooled. And yes, the jasmine was really pleasant. There was a sense of sweetness and a long, lingering aftertaste. Plus, it stays consistent across steeps: the jasmine flavour is just as strong (without being cloying) on the second steep as on the first.

Full review at: http://booksandtea.ca/2015/11/four-teas-from-mei-mei-fine-teas/

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The dry leaf of this green tea from Sichuan (a new area for my palate) is dark green bordering on brown/black, dense, and tightly curled, with a dry, sharp look to it. So far, somewhat predictable. But the smell is unlike any other tea I’ve tried. There are the usual vegetal smells of green bean, as well as a deep, dark whiff of honey, but there’s a sharpness to this tea that reminds me of mustard of all things.

Yes: nice and grainy honey mustard. That’s what this tea reminds me of. With maybe a hint of something like dill.

The first steep is sweet, with an undertone of herbs and honey, and an aftertaste somewhat “chemical” but soft. The second steep is even sweeter, and there’s something fresh and green in the aftertaste that reminds me vaguely of fruit — something fresh and green, but not really tart. Overall, this tea just coats the tongue with softness.

Full review at: http://booksandtea.ca/2015/11/four-teas-from-mei-mei-fine-teas/

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The dry leaf of this was fine, sage green, densely packed, and covered in white fuzz. The smell was incredibly unusual for a green tea — it smelled sweet and herbal, like lemon verbena or Macedonian/Greek mountain tea.

The scent was very different from the taste. That herbal element was still there, but while I was expecting something sweet and honeylike, it ended up tasting vegetal (asparagus and alfalfa, I think), with a weird chemical overtone I couldn’t identify. I gave it a second steep at 1.5 minutes and got a tea that tasted sweeter, but still somewhat vegetal and chemical-like. On the second steep, I could see the fine white fuzz from the leaf floating around in the liquid. The second time around, I also noticed a somewhat pleasant, grassy aftertaste.

Full review at: http://booksandtea.ca/2015/11/four-teas-from-mei-mei-fine-teas/

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The dry leaf of the Meng Ding Yellow Buds look like a mix between long yellow grains of rice and leaves from dragonwell (Long Jing) teas — oblong, a bit flat, with a yellow-green cast to them. They smell grainy, a bit vegetal, and a bit sweet.

The taste during both steeps was consistent — very vegetal and green-beany. Mild, not very assuming, and frankly, not very different from many green teas I’ve tried.

Full review at: http://booksandtea.ca/2015/11/four-teas-from-mei-mei-fine-teas/

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Hoo boy, I made a strong batch of this tea this evening – the herbal bounciness of this has morphed into a medicinal edge that I don’t like.

Anyways: Gracie news!

Gracie is still at the vet’s, but she’s doing much better than she was yesterday. It’s highly likely she’ll be able to come home tomorrow. She was in a baaad way on Monday night, but with the proper treatment, she’s on the mend.

She was even able to stand up and walk around, and now she’s started to give the vet staff some sass! Welcome back, my sweet little cantankerous bitchy princess!

For now, she’s still on a bunch of antibiotics and they’ll start the steroids tomorrow. Then when she comes home, she’ll be taking a bunch of pills every day for at least 2-3 weeks. Some are steroids. Others are meant to help her gall bladder. But my little princess is nearly back!

alexander&james tea co.

Yay! So glad she’s feeling better.


Very glad to hear she’s doing better. :)


Good news!


I’m so glad to hear this! That was quite a scare.


That’s great!


So glad to hear this!

Christina / BooksandTea

Update: She came home last night! She’s super skinny and tired-looking, and she hid behind the couch once she was home, but she’s back! Now we have to give her a bunch of pills every day, which is gonna be super fun.

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I’m almost done this tea – there’s probably enough left for 1 large pot. I’ve been remiss about drinking the brewed tea, because it’s cooled down a lot.

Now for what you’re probably all wondering: how is Gracie?

Better. But she’s not out of the woods yet.

She’s still at the vet and had an ultrasound done, resulting in a diagnosis of “triaditis” – inflammation of the liver, gall bladder, and pancreas. She’s also got a kidney infection. It looks like the crux of all this is a blockage in her gall bladder preventing the flow of bile. Not good, but definitely better than a cancer diagnosis.

She’s on several meds now: antibiotics, an anti-vomiting one that should also help her pancreas, something to help things get flowing in her gall bladder, painkillers, and liver and B12 supplements. They’re also force-feeding her wet food using a syringe.

My husband, mother and I went to visit her this evening. They brought Gracie in hooked up to some sort of IV line. She looked much more alert and responsive compared to yesterday (yay!) but still quite bedraggled and tired. Her pupils were dilated, which I think is related to the painkillers. Once the antibiotics kick in, they’ll also start giving her some steroids to stop the inflammation.

She had gobbets of wet food stuck to the fur along her mouth, jaw, and foreleg, which I guess means she wasn’t that receptive to food. She also disliked it when we tried to pet her anywhere beyond her shoulderblades – the vet technicians were surprised when I pointed this out, but thought that was happening because of residual soreness from the ultrasound.

Gracie will stay at the vet for another few days, after which we hope we can take her home. However, she’ll still need to take medication and it could take 6 weeks for her to fully recover.

alexander&james tea co.

Sincerely sorry to hear about Gracie’s ailing, but I’m happy that the diagnosis wasn’t nearly as bad as you thought. I’m wishing her a swift and healthy recovery.


I’ve been through many emergencies with my cats so I know what you’re going through. Hope Gracie heals quickly. Don’t forget to take care of yourself while you are being nurse to Gracie. Hugs

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Drinking some aged DHP this morning from my brand-new, super-tiny gaiwan.

But I’m having a hard time focusing on the tea. Last night my family had to take Gracie to the vet – she was lethargic, not eating, and had collapsed on the floor near the litter box this morning. (I didn’t see her before I left for work. If I had looked for her then, would things have been different? We don’t know how long she was lying there for.)

The vet said last night that she was severely dehydrated, and it looked like she had lost a substantial amount of weight in the past few days. She’s stayed at the vet’s office overnight, but since the office isn’t open yet, I have no idea how she’s doing. The vet won’t open for another 20 minutes. Will they call right away?

Gracie is 17 years old, guys. She’s a wonderful cat, but she’s getting old. I’ve had her for over half my life. I can’t her being gone, but I know it will have to happen one day. Will she be okay? Could I have done anything differently if I had looked for her before I left?


oh no Christina hugs

Sami Kelsh



Thinking of you, Christina. I can relate to wondering how things would have been had you acted differently, but remember that they could have also turned out worse, too. Also, the waiting is often the worst part. Hang in there hugs


I’m so sorry to hear this Christina! I hope Gracie gets better quickly <3 sending lots of hugs for you and your kitty!


So sorry to hear. Hope things turn out well. Don’t blame yourself, though. Old kitties just get old.

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Sipdown! This was full of flavour, but I think that the coconut was starting to go off a bit, since I detected some underlying tartness this time.

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I used 90C water and lots of short steeps, ranging around 5 seconds or so. The smell of the dried leaf was tart, slightly smoky, somewhat fruity. After a quick rinse, the leaves began to stick out from the ball and make the whole thing look shaggy. After a few steeps, the dried leaf bloomed and unfurled like crazy!

Over this steeping session, the flavour was pretty consistent, though it got stronger over time: smoky, grassy, kinda apricot-y and astringent. The taste was pretty clean — no mushroom, fish, or other funky flavours. The initial steep was a lovely pale peach colour that deepened into a nice sunset peach over time.

Full review at http://booksandtea.ca/2015/10/white2tea-october-2015-box-lots-of-puerh/

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Updated March 2016:

I’m a writer and editor who’s fallen in love with loose-leaf tea. I’ve also set up a site for tea reviews at http://www.booksandtea.ca – an excellent excuse to keep on buying and trying new blends. There will always be more to discover!

In the meantime, since joining Steepster in January 2014, I’ve gotten a pretty good handle on my likes and dislikes

Likes: Raw/Sheng pu’erh, sobacha, fruit flavours, masala chais, jasmine, mint, citrus, ginger, Ceylons, Chinese blacks, rooibos.

Dislikes (or at least generally disinclined towards): Hibiscus, rosehip, chamomile, licorice, lavender, really vegetal green teas, shu/ripe pu’erh.

Things I generally decide on a case-by-case basis: Oolong, white teas.

Still need to do my research on: matcha

I rarely score teas anymore, but if I do, here’s the system I follow:

100-85: A winner!
84-70: Pretty good. This is a nice, everyday kind of tea.
69-60: Decent, but not up to snuff.
59-50: Not great. Better treated as an experiment.
49-0: I didn’t like this, and I’m going to avoid it in the future. Blech.


Toronto, ON, Canada



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