1313 Tasting Notes

Just came back from visiting Saint Augustine, and when I thought I was just going to save up for my trip, I decided YOLO and got some tea samples that waited for me when I got back home.

This tea is probably one of the more expensive ones I’ve gotten from What-Cha, but I was really curious about it because One: I’m going through a Jin Jun Mei phase, and Two: Alistair described this one having honeydew notes, which is extremely unusual for a Fujian Black Tea. The single review also raved about it gong fu, and I figured this one would probably disappear.

Brewing it up western in my kyusu with 2 teaspoons and 195 F water, I pour a testing sip to see what I taste. Honeysuckle, milky texture and hot water. This tea is probably one of the most subtle blacks I’ve ever had, and the profile was identical to a Yin Zhin white. Interesting. I decided to let it sit for two more minutes, and the tea had a little bit more to it. It’s not flavor forward at all so far, but it’s not boring. The texture is heavily viscous, and the bitterness and astringency are nonexistent. There’s slight malt, but it’s barely there. The honeydew is there a little bit more dominating mouthfeel and texture rather than flavor. Honeysuckle is the main flavor through and through, bordering on being kinda like a chamomile. Sometimes, I got weird hints like incense or cardamom.

Not satisfied with that session, I decided to be heavily more generous with the leaves gong fu, and got more of the honey flavor and a denser after taste. Honeysuckle is still dominant with the flavor having more trademark black tea qualities like sweet potato. The thing that’s unusual is that those qualities are a lot more subdued, and again, the tea resembles a white tea more than what I think of a black one in flavor.

While I’m being pretty critical about the flavor, the tea definitely is not one dimensional. It resembles the Snow Tips a lot in its overall profile, whereas that one was more rosy, and this one is more “yellow” i n the florals and soft. It’s also extremely calming, which is a nice change of pace for a black.

I’m not fully decided on this one yet. There are cool things about the tea I really enjoy, though it’s too subtle for me so far. Out of all the teas I’ve reviewed, this one is what I’d personally rank as an expert’s tea because of it’s subdued nature and nuance. I know professional sommelier’s look for something that they can slirp without astringency or bitterness, and I can see this tea hitting high marks because of how dense in texture and lacking in abrasion it is. A newer drinker would think it tastes like hot water, and I intermediate drinkers who like blacks would be pickier. I do see white tea drinkers liking this one a lot though if they are exploring Fujian Blacks.

I hope my review didn’t disappoint you, Alistair. I’m going to try this one out again soon and am very happy I have it. I do have a descent sommelier book, and I am going to read it to see if I get any more insights. I am looking forward to a very leaf intense gong fu session!

Flavors: Chamomile, Floral, Honey, Honeydew, Honeysuckle, Malt, Smooth


It sounds fascinating to me!

Daylon R Thomas

It is, but very, very subtle.


Interesting! This sounds like the opposite of the other Jin Jun Mei you gave me to try from them. I wonder if this subtlety is typical of higher-priced Jin Jun Mei.

Daylon R Thomas

Maybe? I’m not an expert on it-I’d be curious if Alistair or anyone else can weigh in. I do notice that some of the more expensive Jin Jun Mei’s are more subtle/vegetal like from Old Ways Teas, but otherwise, I’m clueless.

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I tumblered 2 grams, and it was nicely floral. It had some veggie notes, yet I got yellow carrot as one of them with the melon, lavender hints, osmanthus, and sweetness. Interesting.

Flavors: Carrot

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Another addition in later notes. The tea didn’t quite last as long as I thought, but it’s doing some fun things with the more cooked notes. Pine sap, resin, smoke, charcoal, and some sweetness mid body and in the finish. The brew afterward was just smoky, so I decided to put the leftover leaves in my garden.

Flavors: Charcoal, Pine, Resin, Roasted, Sap, Smoke

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Rating between a 87-92. I decided to western brew style it because I felt lazy.

I rinsed it, and the rinse was extra sweet and buttery, but a little bit cool from the 195 temp. I amped up the kettle to 200-205, and aimed to steep it for two minutes. I let it sit, and after about 30 seconds I poured some into my cup to check its progress. It was sweet buttery and melony. I gave it another ten seconds, and same thing with more of the lavender floral. I thought I waited another minute into what ended up being two, I poured some more out to check, and it was vegetal edging on broccoli and cabbage, so I “saved” what I could by dumping it out.

The vegetal notes took over! I should remember that hotter water makes the tea develop faster. I poured some room temperature water in the mug to cut down on the vegetal notes and the slight grassy astringency, and it was good. Still sweet, buttery, creamy, and heavy on the melon, but the dill note was the strongest. I looked at the mug again, and I think I put closer to 5 grams instead of the 3 I assumed I did. There were some smaller leaves I couldn’t see.

Oh well, I took that as a lesson about this particular tea, so I dropped the temp back to 185-190 and let it only sit for between 1-2 minutes. The vegetal notes resided back, and the honeydew melon was back in place as the main flavor. I’m going to have to use 2 grams instead for western next time-I underestimated how powerful it would be.

I’m pretty happy with this one so far western, but gong fu is the way to go with this Li Shan. I have not decided if I want to tumbler it or not because it’s a little bit too vegetal for longer steeping, and if I do, I cannot exceed 2 grams. The veggie notes are making me lean more toward an 88 for a rating despite this being a higher quality tea, but my parameters in what makes a tea I prefer is versatility, so I am docking a few points for now. I will likely raise the rating back up later on, so we’ll see how it goes in other styles.

I know this is a critical good review, but I am a little bit more harsh this time around because I am liking some of the other teas they have more, especially the Long Feng and Shan Lin Xi….nevermind the notes I didn’t like were absolutely my fault. I still recommend Trident because they basically have a full catalogue that only focuses on the good teas. It’s by no means overwhelming, but it’s pretty damn complete.

Flavors: Broccoli, Butter, Cream, Floral, Fruity, Honeydew, Osmanthus, Spinach, Vegetables, Vegetal, Zucchini

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Western is the way to go. It works as tumbler fuel nicely, and it can work gong fu if you are very generous with the leaf. I’m rating it a 96 for now because I unapologetically like this one. I might rate it higher-who knows. I’m very happy finishing this one off, or keeping some to share. I was glad to get some from Andrew because he goes through phases with the black teas. They almost always sell out quickly, and this was not cheap for him to make. He also is very picky with black teas himself, and has never been enamored with the idea of selling blends, so I am very happy to have had the opportunity to hoard it while it was still available. I know he’s going to experiment further with the barrels, and there was a vanilla added version of this same tea for a little bit, but there is no more hong cha on his site for… now.

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Grilled peaches coming in steep three. I looked at my stash and realise I still haven’t touched some Dancongs and a lot of Wuyi Black….and Georgian Black. I just did an order of Wild Jin Jun Mei and more oolong from Grand Crew. I had a descent paycheck, so I was like screw it. But then again, I still have close to much black tea….and some oolong I’m neglecting. I am tempted to do a traveling tea box of the high priced blacks I’ve got so other people can get try some of what I’ve got. I’ve got some friends near me that like tea where I live, but they do not guzzle it as crazy as I do. Sometimes, it will sit around until I am over and they brew it for all of us. The blends and jasmine teas I give people get finished quick, and one friend plows through the Darjeelings, yet I haven’t seen her in a while. This is why I miss smaller samples. I was going to workout, but I am chilled the f out by this tea.

Flavors: Grilled Food, Malt, Peach

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After me being a hovering pest a few months ago, I caved and got a bunch of Fushou and a few Gaoshans from trident. They were really kind to do my order over the phone before they got the supply on the website, and they included a sample of a freakin’ competition tea.

I should start doing blind tasting notes because the power of persuasion is high with this one, or the notes were just nailed. I’ve only rinsed and gong fu steeped my 8 grams in 5 ish oz after 35 seconds.

It’s got the trademark honey-charcoal taste of Gui Fei’s plus some. There are very few roasted oolongs I’ve had that actually have a chocolate note like this one, almost tasting like a chocolate flavored tea. The chocolate malt is just as pronounced as the the peachy honey in the aftertaste. There’s a really cool floral osmanthus that transitions from the chocolate note directly into the peach. The charcoal is there in hints to texture the aftertaste, yet it’s more pronounced in aroma.

Second brew closer to 25 seconds, and the peach is upfront followed by the chocolate malt note instead, hinted by what my brain registers as hazelnut. It’s malty and nutty like a really high grade yancha, which is pretty damn impressive.

I’m going to stop here so I don’t leave another mini-book. I’ll add the later steeps if I notice anything distinct beyond what I just wrote or charcoal notes. I personally would not want a stash of this one because I don’t see myself drinking it often, yet I am very happy to get to try something I like drinking. It’s definitely a tea snobs tea, but the flavor profile is something that I can see intermediate drinkers getting behind.

Flavors: Charcoal, Chocolate, Floral, Hazelnut, Honey, Malt, Osmanthus, Peach, Roast Nuts, Smoke, Smooth

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 8 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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My stash is the 2020 lot, but it has the same notes as they used in their description for 2021. I actually ordered 50 grams of this last year but got 2 10 gram samples; I contacted the company and they sent me the 50 grams that I ordered.

Reviewing this one, it’s an extremely clean and thick high mountain oolong. It can handle high temperatures and it usually lasts at least 6 steeps for me when I brew it in the 20-30 sec increment scale, but I also follow the parameters on the website rinsing the tea, then going for 60, 50, 65, 90, and then long steeps ahead. The shorter steeps bring out more of the florals you smell in the aroma into the taste, but the longer steeps gong fu give you a more rounded mouthfeel. Boiling water amps up aroma, cooler temperatures make the tea a little bit sweeter in my experience.

The notes on this one are interesting because it really hits you more in feeling, while the tea is not lacking in flavor. It’s a lighter tea that I can see red tea drinkers snubbing, and it’s not as fruity as other Dayulings. While it’s definitely floral, the florals are harder to pin apart other than orchid, some hyacinth, and other more subtle white flowers. Snowdrops kept coming to my mind. It is definitely sweet having a white sugar note in the first two steeps, even in the rinse, and it’s got a refreshing vegetal creamy mouthfeel. The site describes the vegetal notes as being like mountain cabbage, and I can see it in the teas refreshing crisp quality. Sometimes it’s got a white egg quality in texture, and there were times where I get peach in steep 3, but not too often. Orchid, sugar, white flowers, and cabbage are the main notes I get.

Like most Dayuling’s it’s effervescent, and it feels like your drinking a mountain mist cloud in overlooking a forest kind of like the way the describe. Like a cuifeng, it’s got some alpine notes too which I usually don’t get. They were describing petrichor, but I am getting something like drinking dew and misty fog. This tea is the essence of moisture, and moisture is the essence of beauty……(mer-man high pitch pitiful coughing)
Comment if you know the movie reference!

So yes, this is leaf water, but it’s good leaf water that comes from mountains with water falls and mist. Basically, it’s what a Dayuling is supposed to be. I’ve only had one other Dayuling that I’ve liked a little bit more in terms of flavor, but I highly recommend this one mostly because I recommend Wang Family Tea period. Their customer service is awesome and none of their teas disappoint me. If you are looking more for something flavor forward and fruity, then the Fushou Shan might be a better bet or one of the specialty Shanlinxi’s. The cuifeng is also exceptional if you are looking for something cheaper but just as good.

I’m just glad that I finally got to reviewing this one. I know a few of you are probably tired of the constant high mountain oolongs I review. They are becoming a specialty at this point. Leafhopper, if you want me to save some of this for you, I will. Just let me know.

Flavors: Butter, Creamy, Floral, Lettuce, Orchid, Peach, Rainforest, Smooth, Sugar, Sugarcane, Sweet, Vegetal

205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

I’m not tired of your reviews! You stop with that nonsense.

Mastress Alita

I would NEVER miss a Zoolander reference. I’ve had that whole movie memorized for years!


Not tired of them either!


Keep those high mountain oolong reviews coming! I have a bit of the Foushoushan but none of the Dayuling, so I’d be delighted if you could keep some for me. We could do another swap in the fall when my stash is a bit more manageable.

Daylon R Thomas

Sounds good!

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Interesting Brenden didn’t do notes for this one.

Anyway, it’s a really straightforward vanilla tea. If you’ve had the Golden Snail and Alice, you know what to expect-just in vanilla dreams version. Smelling the bag is a fun experience, and hits you with a soft vanilla. The tea is much the same in this first steep western. I used 195 Fahrenheit because it’s hot today, and I wished I used boiling instead to open up the the vanilla with the tea. I could taste some of the vanilla beans themselves as being cooler than the actual tea.

My mug was still plenty tasty. Bready malt is prominent in the body with a little bit of dryness on the tongue, and the vanilla follows nicely after some caramel in the after taste. The profile reminds me heavily of those caramels with the milky cream in the middle. I can see some people getting marshmallow or cream notes to describe how the vanilla hits you in the aftertaste with the smooth texture. The vanilla can get grainy, but that’s not too much of a problem.

I’m liking this one a lot so far from brew one. I will admit that my petty preferences do make me lean towards Alice and Cocoa Amore, but I like it more than Golden Orchid because it’s a lot smoother.

And now, for impressions of brew 2 and 3..in which I did not time it. 2nd steep was basically vanilla malt like what you find in the aftertaste of a malted Vanilla Milk shake, and steep 3 tastes like vanilla extracted sugar. Usually, the vanilla fades out in a tea in lighter shades, but the tea faded before the vanilla. I think over leafed the tea, and powered it too much in the front. It reminds me of Liquid Proust’s Vanilla French Toast….sigh.

Overall, I’m pretty damn satisfied with the ounce I have. Out of all the vanilla dreams teas I’ve had, this is one of the smoothest. I’ve been tempted to try Elderwood, but always hold back because I read it’s heavier on the earth and malt. I’ve yet to try Ambrosia if it ever returns. This one is a marshmallow golden fleece out of this world for a straightforward vanilla black.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Caramel, Chocolate, Cream, Malt, Maple Syrup, Marshmallow, Milk, Sugar, Vanilla


“marshmallow golden fleece” yuuuuummmmm

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I’ve been meaning to try this one because I was curious about the notes people got from it, especially the chocolate ones. I still have quite a bit of Echo-Cha Gaba teas that I need to finish, though I admit I have a hard time with them because they are resilient and durable teas.

I’m only going to write my impressions of this tea so far from the rinse and the first steep. It tastes a lot like the several more oxidized jin xuans I’ve had. The first rinse was a light brownish orange, and had impressions of honey, chex mix, and raisin. My current sipping continues with the raisin and honey flavor overall, with a bit of a grainy texture like a raisin oatmeal cookie, and sometimes, it’s making me think of those packs of sunflower seeds with raisins and M & Ms. No raw chocolate notes yet. The tea is a little bit drying or maybe salty, but not too much. I’m getting a little bit of a tea sauna sweat too.

I’m not wowed by this one so far. The honey notes are nice, and it’s not a boring or a bad tea-my big thing I’m not digging is the raisin quality. Later steeps might change my mind.

Flavors: Cookie, Drying, Honey, Raisins, Salt

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First Off, Current Targets:

Whispering Pines Alice
Grand Crew Teas
Wuyi Origins Jin Jun Mei Sampler
What-Cha Jin Jun Mei
Good Luxurious Work Teas
A good Qilan
Best Sachet Teas

Dislikes: Heavy Tannin, Astringency, Bitterness, or Fake Flavor, Overly herby herbal or aged teas

Picky with: Higher Oxidation Oolongs, Red Oolongs (Some I love, others give me headaches or are almost too sweet), Mint Teas

Currently, my stash is overflowing. Among my favorites are What-Cha’s Lishan Black, Amber Gaba Oolong, Lishan Oolong, Qilan Oolong, White Rhino, Kenya Silver Needle, Tong Mu Lapsang Black (Unsmoked); Whispering Pines Alice, Taiwaneese Assam, Wang’s Shanlinxi, Cuifeng, Dayuling; Beautiful Taiwan Tea Co.“Old Style” Dong Ding, Mandala Milk Oolong


I am an MSU graduate, and current alternative ed. high school social studies and history teacher. I formerly minored in anthropology, and I love Egyptian and classical history. I love to read, write, draw, paint, sculpt, fence(with a sword), practice calisthenics on rings, lift weights, workout, relax, and drink a cuppa tea…or twenty.

I’ve been drinking green and black teas ever since I was little living in Hawaii. Eastern Asian influence was prominent with my friends and where I grew up, so I’ve been exposed to some tea culture at a young age. I’ve come a long way since I began on steepster and now drink most teas gong fu, especially oolong. Any tea that is naturally creamy, fruity, or sweet without a lot of added flavoring ranks as a must have for me. I also love black teas and dark oolongs with the elusive “cocoa” note. My favorites are lighter Earl Greys, some white teas like What-Cha’s Kenyan offerings, most Hong-Cha’s, darker Darjeelings, almost anything from Nepal, Green Shan Lin Xi’s, and Greener Dong Dings. I’m in the process of trying Alishan’s. I also tend to really enjoy Yunnan Black or Red teas and white teas. I’m pickier with other teas like chamomile, green teas, and Masalas among several.

I used to give ratings, but now I only rate teas that have a strong impression on me. If I really like it, I’ll write it down.

I’ll enjoy a tea almost no matter what, even if the purpose is more medicinal, for it is my truest vice and addiction.


Michigan, USA

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