Many thanks to Wymm tea for a sample!

The dry tea was somewhat glossy and dark, and the smell was fairly neutral — leather and earth, which is something I think is pretty common to shou teas. Once I rinsed it, it smelled like shoes, leather, dirt, and loam, with perhaps a bit of camphor. It reminded me of a root cellar, actually.

The brewed tea was dark. Like really rich, homemade beef broth. It had a slightly fishy, earthy, mushroom-y smell, and I was worried I should have rinsed it twice, but oh well — down the hatch it goes! The first steep tasted uninspiring and muddy, but the second steep developed a menthol/camphor note. That note developed and reminded me also wood, branches, autumn leaves, and cedar. And, oh yeah, this shit was dark. Almost like Guinness beer!

As I drank the third steep I noticed a cottony, gauzy feeling on my tongue. The fourth steep introduced mineral notes, but the initial fishiness was still there. Steeps 5 and 6 were fairly similar, though at the 6th steep I bumped the steep time up to 10 seconds. I noticed that as the steeps progressed, it tasted less of loam/earth and more of wood/cedar. By steep 7, my body became really heavy. I think I stopped after the 7th steep because I was so sleepy!

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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 – 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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