1254 Tasting Notes

Happy to report this green tea has retained its signature character despite being 1.5 years old. Nothing has changed or is missing from my first sit-down with it: https://steepster.com/derk/posts/427724

It feels like a combination of Anhui yellow tea, various Zhejiang green teas and ethereal, slightly herbaceous Fujian silver needles.

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drank Bao Tang 2017 Spring by Tea Urchin
1254 tasting notes

I can’t say anything about this sheng pu’er has changed much since my last note nearly a year ago https://steepster.com/derk/posts/415982 but it made for a very enjoyable session after lunch today.

While it still has plenty of youthful astringency, there’s a great balance of sweetness (brown rice syrup), bitterness minerality, florality, returning sweetness and cooling huigan. The mouthfeel and initial thick, oily texture seal the deal. Most importantly, this tea is CLEAN and elicits a calming, muscle-relaxing body feeling even with a full belly.

Going to up my rating as this session left a favorable impression. Not sure how this sheng will hold up in the long haul in my climate. It might be better off subjected to more humid storage.

Flavors: Astringent, Beans, Bitter, Brown Sugar, Floral, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Mineral, Mint, Nutmeg, Oily, Orchid, Rice, Rich, Stonefruit, Sweet, Thick, Winter Honey


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Still an excellent sheng in comparison to 2 years ago. It has retained many of its quality characteristics. Along with the liquor color that has changed into a bright and clear orange, the most noticeable transformation is of the sweetness to something fruitier like a cross between melon and dates. Very nice tea that gives me the speedy Jingmai energy that’s normally overbearing but it’s useful for this post-lunch session. It possesses a subtle, gripping depth of feeling that tempers the usual Jingmai jitters.

Flavors: Astringent, Cactus, Camphor, Dates, Green Wood, Lime, Marshmallow, Melon, Mineral, Orchid, Peat, Roots, Salty, Sap, Sweet, Tangy, Viscous

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drank Spring 2021 Lishan by Bok
1254 tasting notes

From Leafhopper, purchased from Tea Forum member Bok – thank you!

The dry leaf has the most natural creamy and sugary sweet aroma I’ve ever smelled in a high mountain oolong. It reminds me of a touch of pineapple blended with coconut cream. The floral aroma mixes very well displaying fleshy notes of tuberose and magnolia and a more airy orchid.

Warming the leaf brings out more of a sweet vegetal, nutty character with spinach, creamed corn and macadamia with a good dose of nutmeg and a hint of kale.

Both the taste and aroma are delicate yet entirely intoxicating. Instant calm. Grass, tuberose, pineapple, palm sugar (those Vietnamese pucks), coconut, macadamia, ginger lily, nutmeg, cream, an overall slight umami quality. Very smooth with both balanced acidity and astringency that leave the mouth watering. The tea goes down with ease, finishing minty cool and buttery clean. Soul-warming.

The leaf has good longevity and with my hand, seems to express itself with numerous peaks and valleys. It’s not a very forward tea and needs some coaxing to maintain an even display of character. Even though the warm fruity, nutty and spicy tropical aromas and tastes would appeal to many, this is a leaf that might be best appreciated by tea enthusiasts with perceptive palates. I would love to see what others think of it, though!

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Butter, Coconut, Cookie, Cream, Flowers, Ginger, Grass, Kale, Macadamia, Magnolia, Mint, Nutmeg, Orchid, Pineapple, Spinach, Sugar, Sweet, Sweet Corn, Tropical, Umami


Yeah, this is a good tea! You probably got more from it than I did.

Daylon R Thomas

I really liked this one too. I finished it up pretty quickly, and found a lot of the same notes. I especially got mint, pineapple, and a little bit of peach myself.

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drank Spring Wenshan Baozhong by Tea Masters
1254 tasting notes

March 2021 harvest

First brews from a bag freshly opened had a sugarcane-sweet nose and tastewise, a combination of flowers, tropical fruit and gentle grassy-spinachy character. Refined sweetness and brisk astringency in a moderately viscous and buoyant liquor. A pleasure to drink prepared in a mason jar with water-dispenser hot water at work. This tea produced three fully flavored and textured steeps of forgetful mind timing. It helped to allay my nerves during a frantic and frazzled work day. So far, my biggest issue with this tea is the rather drying quality.

If Tea Masters calls this an everyday baozhong (which I agree with), I can’t imagine Stéphane’s next step up. At $3.50 for 25g, I consider this a deal but there are much better baozhong out there. Let’s see how I can connect with this leaf in a more relaxed setting.

For the tea nerds, this #2028 “is produced from a cultivar that was developed at the same time as Jinxuan (code #2027) and Tsui Yu (code #2029). However, even though this cultivar was never officially released by Taiwan Tea Research and Extension Station, farmers have continued to use it in their plantations.”

I’m glad to have received this baozhong as a freebie (a 25g freebie!) as it’s not a tea I would have added to my cart, so thank you very much!

Flavors: Brisk, Drying, Floral, Flowers, Grassy, Spinach, Sugarcane, Tropical Fruit, Viscous

3 g 10 OZ / 300 ML

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drank Yuchi Wild Black Tea by TheTea
1254 tasting notes

3 years is no time at all to a tea well made and well stored. I had a modest-sized 2019 harvest from Leafhopper that I decided to split between 2 western brews instead of one gongfu session.

I don’t know anything about this leaf since the The Tea doesn’t have a description on their site for it right now. But I am convinced my sample of the 2019 harvest was of the TTES #8 cultivar and not a ‘wild’ tea because both western sessions I had of this tea screamed at me: https://steepster.com/derk/posts/398397 In my sense-memory, an undeniable deadringer. Same year and everything. Leafhopper, I see you’ve had What-Cha’s tea, too. How do the two compare for you?

Anyway, awesome tea! Not often I’m blown away by western preparations of tea, nonetheless those distractedly brewed at work and with water cooler hot water. I have mad respect for this leaf. It has everything I want from a high-powered black tea while managing to be wonderfully refined in taste and possessing great structure. Malty and savory in a way that doesn’t bog me down thanks to the bright citrus and fruity berry tones combined with the full, smooth body, cooling finish and both light astringency and sweetness (that was a mouthful) —

Hot damn! This tea sings.


Always exciting to see a new-to-me Yuchi Wild Mountain Black. Sounds lovely!

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drank Royal Red Oolong by Ethan Kurland
1254 tasting notes

Juicy, tangy and mineral. Rather buoyant feeling for something so dark.

Like sour cherry juice from the halal markets. A room of antique woods. A hint of clean must. Dark sweetness of dried fruits. Deep tang of stewed fruits. Rich florals of fruit skins. Cooling finish with first few steeps.

Aromatic, drinks very easily and leaves the mouth watering.

Thank you for sharing, Leafhopper :)


I liked this one as well. I only realized after making the swap packages that I hadn’t left myself any to review.

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A third iteration of this pomelo flower scented oolong and the best of the three years!

Previous harvests were unbalanced in retrospect — more drying, bitter and/or yeasty. The March 2022 harvest is more delicate and well balanced without a trace of bitterness unless left to stew in shallow waters grandpa style.

The oolong strikes me as a Cui Yu jade oolong rather than a Jin Xuan milk oolong. I get not a hint of milky mouthfeel or taste. The mouthfeel is glassy, oily and crisp with a papery drying quality after swallowing. Overall character is much like a Sauvignon Blanc wine. The main body is a mix of citrusy tangy-sweet pomelo with black grapes and white grape juice, green plums, pear and sweetgrass. Top notes of faintly yeasty pomelo blossom with fruity jasmine; light bottom notes of sweet lettuce, bitter greens, parsley, tarragon, lavender, warm celery root and buttermilk biscuit. The aftertaste doesn’t last long but it’s fruity like the main body of the tea. Steeps out after many infusions with a balanced astringency and juicy swallow. Light bitterness creeps in, a cool spearmint mouthfeel is noticed.

I like this better with short steeps gongfu than grandpa style – but not by much – and leafed a little more than my usual.

This is the first harvest I can recommend!

Flavors: Bread, Buffalo Grass, Celery, Citrusy, Drying, Floral, Fruity, Grapefruit, Grapes, Grassy, Herbs, Kale, Lavender, Lettuce, Lime, Mineral, Oily, Orange Blossom, Paper, Parsley, Pear, Plum, Spearmint, Sweet, Tangy, Thick, White Grapes, White Wine, Yeast

190 °F / 87 °C 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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I’ve prepared this heicha differently tonight by pretty much halving the amount of leaf, so ~5g in the 200mL duanni clay pot. This way has brought out more of a sweet varnished wood taste with something else… the closest I can guess is golden apple and tonka bean with its nuances of grass, almond, vanilla, tobacco and cocoa… mixed with a hint of goji and a sort of dried flower potpourri overlay that is unlike a typical American mixture, or at least what I remember that stuff smelling like in 1980s early childhood.

It’s a comforting elixir, grounding, balancing — one that induces relaxed contemplation and a sense of nostalgia for a time when things were dusty and unsanitized, when wood paneling and carpet ruled home interiors. I do think I like it better with much more leaf as the flavor is both more saturated and complex, and I notice more of this tea’s inherent gentle narcotic effect on the mind and body. Once that peaks, however, the caffeine extracted from that amount of leaf becomes very apparent even though the stimulation of such a high dose is softened by the tea’s energy. To characterize this tea, I’d call it The Introvert’s Shadow.

Grateful to have acquired another bag, this time 250g. I’d love the 3kg brick but it’s such a daunting purchase.

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This was a freebie so fresh it wasn’t even on Mountain Stream Tea’s website when I received my latest order. Thank you :)

The leaf aromas are fresh and floral, cool grassy and creamy, blue-green in scent-color, scalded milk and millet. Warmed leaf smells more like a nutmilk with fruity pineapple-guava tone and some plumeria.

The liquor is glassy-viscous. Squeaky clean young grass and gentle sweetness mix seamlessly with a jackfruit and unripe tropical fruit taste that holds a savory undertone of orange-flesh squash and cooked peaches, carrying through into the aftertaste. Slightly creamy floral perfume of moderate intensity sits above and settles into all the spaces. The floral quality interestingly expresses itself most fully in the later infusions where I can differentiate plumeria, honeysuckle and jasmine.

It does very well grandpa style and also with very hot water.

Overall, it’s an wulong of moderate intensity and well done. More perfumey floral and grassy than fruity and creamy. As long as you’re not expecting a ‘scented’ flavor bomb, can we agree that this is a nice Jin Xuan?

Flavors: Astringent, Butter, Creamy, Floral, Fruity, Grain, Grass, Grassy, Green, Guava, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Macadamia, Milk, Peach, Perfume, Pineapple, Plumeria, Squash, Tropical, Viscous

205 °F / 96 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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If you’re an aspiring or current tea grower, let’s talk! I am slowly beginning a tea farm here in Northern California. Currently growing are young plants pulled from the ground and gifted to me after a visit to Fairhope Tea Plantation in Alabama. The parent plants are sinensis variety from a defunct Lipton research project. I’ve also started seeds from Camellia Forest Nursery in North Carolina. The types include Camellia taliensis, an assamica variety, and 3 sinensis varieties including “Small leaf” “Large leaf” and “Black Sea.” I also picked up 2 older plants from a a local nursery. They were grown from seed supposedly acquired from a tea farm in Washington. To learn how to process tea into different styles, I plan on traveling to China and Taiwan if/when COVID becomes a relative non-issue. I’m taking Mandarin classes to aid in this journey.

Tea became a hobby and my daily drink of choice some time late in the last decade. My introduction to loose leaf came, following a lone tin of some Tie Guan Yin oolong many years prior, in the form of dumpster-dived Wuyi oolong packets that somebody left upon moving out of an apartment building. From there, my palate expanded to teas from across China and the world. I used to focus more on taste and still harbor the habit, but after trying sheng pu’er, I tend to focus more on how a tea feels in my body. Does it complement my constitution? Does it change my mood or does it enhance my current mindstate? While I may not mention those effects in tea notes, it is what I value most.

Flavored teas are not a favorite but I do drink them intermittently. Drink a variety of teabags at work. Herbal teas/tisanes provide balance. Unfiltered tap water heathen (it’s good here).

In terms of who I am, you could consider me a jill of all trades. Specialty is not my strength, as can be seen in the spread of my tea notes.

One thing I will always love is riding a bicycle.


Sonoma County, California, USA

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