579 Tasting Notes


Spring 2019 harvest

I was torn about how to rate this tea. I love it cold brewed but not so much prepared hot. Cold, or rather ambient brewing, was able to extract the best flavor from this tea. It had this almost ethereal floral flavor of honeysuckle and perfumey lilacs, punctuated by occasional bursts of hyacinth, and sweet grass notes in the background. Tastes like drinking perfume but in the best, most delicious possible way. Easily a 95+ rating for the ambient brew.

However, this tea was not as successful hot steeped. It produced a somewhat uneven flavor, more savory than flowery. Vegetal with a lemongrass sharpness.

I’m sure there is a way to bring out those luscious floral notes by hot steeping but I couldn’t quite figure it out. That’s okay though, I’m content to ambient steep as long as this warm autumn weather we’re having continues.

Flavors: Floral, Honeysuckle, Lemongrass

Iced 2 g 9 OZ / 266 ML

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This was a lovely cold brew. Very refined and succulent peachy flavor. Reminds me of the fruitiness of a good quality dan cong. Natural tasting and not overly strong. White peach was the dominant flavor here; I couldn’t really taste the blackcurrant. If it’s there, it’s subtle and doesn’t try to compete with the peach. Mind you, I always blend my flavored teas with a straight so that could be why it was so faint.

Although I love peaches, it’s been a while since I’ve actually had a peach flavored tea. Teavana’s Peach Tranquility was a favorite of mine back in the day. It was good but had a lot going on. This tastes more similar to Lupicia’s Momo Super Grade oolong, a baozhong subtly scented with Japanese white peach. It’s got a purer flavor that tastes just like ripe summer peaches.

Flavors: Peach


Lupicia’s Momoko green is my favorite peach tea. They do such a good bright peach flavor.


I agree, Lupicia’s peach flavoring is really exquisite

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Spring 2019 harvest

My dragonwell tasting flight continues. I have to say, I’ve never really been into Long Jing until this year. Turns out it wasn’t my tastebuds, but operator error. Having now learned to brew it properly, I’ve started to gain a newfound appreciation for this tea.

I steeped it grandpa style: 1.2g of leaf in 10oz of 180 F water. The aroma of the leaves is sweet and vegetal. The dry leaf smells of spinach, edamame, and chestnut. The brewed tea has the aroma of sweet peas and honey. On the first sip, I tasted warm grass, sugar snap peas, and green beans. Fresh, crisp texture with a thick mouthfeel. Underlying this is mild bitterness that grows ever so slightly as I drink down my cup but doesn’t become overbearing.

Flavors: Chestnut, Garden Peas, Honey, Soybean, Spinach

180 °F / 82 °C 1 g 9 OZ / 266 ML

So would you recommend brewing dragonwell grampa style instead of gongfu? I think I might also be making it wrong.


Well I’m sure there’s a way to properly brew dragonwell gongfu, but I haven’t figured it out yet :-) But yeah, grandpa style seems to be the classic method of brewing it. It’s one of those green teas that needs a steep longer in order to release its flavor


I’ll have to try that. I’ve always been reluctant to explore grampa steeping because I don’t enjoy really hot tea and I’m worried that by the time I start drinking it, it’ll be bitter. How do you figure out how much leaf to use?


Dragonwell is my favorite unflavored green.


@Leafhopper it took me a while to get the hang of grandpa brewing. The leaf/water ratio and temperature has to just be right to avoid bitterness. I weigh out the leaves and use roughly 0.25g per 2oz of water. Try that as a starting point and see how you like it.

@gmathis I’m partial to sencha but dragonwell is really growing on me


Thanks! I might just do that with some aging dragonwell I have lying around.

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This year’s early harvest Laoshan green tea was superb. Lush aromas of soy, leafy greens, nori, and oats. The steeped tea is fresh and full bodied, sweeter than the later flushes with pronounced notes of anise and kettle corn. I prefer slightly cooler brewing tempertures, around 175 F, to bring out the delicate sweetness. Hotter water makes the savory, toasted notes stand out more.

Flavors: Anise, Kettle Corn, Lettuce, Oats, Rice, Roasted Barley, Seaweed, Soybean, Spinach

175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 30 sec 2 g 96 OZ / 2839 ML

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reviewed Glass Tea Carafe by World Market
579 tasting notes

Having owned and broken countless World Market tea thermoses over the years, I figured it’s time I finally did a review. These are 10oz glass bottles with removable strainers and beautiful painted designs – botanical and geometric motifs – on the outside. Being glass, they are lightweight and allow you to watch the leaves as they brew. Of course glass also makes them breakage prone and thus a disadvantage to my clumsy self. After shattering enough of them, I bought a foam sleeve which has helped to protect mine from minor bumps and drops. Good thing is they are fairly cheap – I’ve gotten them for as little as $7 on sale – so not a big deal to replace. Like any thermos, they do a good job of keeping brewed tea hot or cold. There’s no plastic in direct contact with the liquid.

Unfortunately, there is one major flaw that makes this product less functional: the cheap metal strainer gets hot and taints the flavor of the tea. It’s especially noticeable with delicate teas like greens and whites. This problem essentially makes it unusable for grandpa brewing which mostly defeats the purpose of having a strainer. For this reason, I had to buy another tea thermos with a better quality strainer for steeping tea on the go. Mine is now used only for holding brewed tea.

World Market has carried these tumblers for a while now. Every year they come out with attractive new designs, but alas they all have the same cheap-o metal strainer. It’s a shame because this is otherwise an excellent tea thermos.

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Not a tea I would have picked out on my own but was seduced by its divine aroma. I ambient brewed it today blended with a mellow green tea, then poured over ice for a really delicious and refreshing iced tea. The taste reminded me of fresh baked blueberry pie. The blueberry flavoring is very well done here; light and totally natural tasting with a gentle coconut accent in the background. I’m usually not a fan of coconut flavoring and appreciated the fact they didn’t go overboard with the coconut.

Note that I have yet to try this straight or hot brewed since I find most flavored teas too overpowering on their own. All 3 of the teas I bought from Kusmi turned out to be winners. I really appreciate the subtle, true to life flavoring and after writing off flavored tea a while ago, it’s made me give them a second look.

Flavors: Blueberry, Coconut

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Bought a bag of this at Mitsuwa to make Hojicha lattes. Back in the day, I used to buy Maeda-en sencha from the Asian market and it was one of the better grocery store loose tea brands. Their Hojicha is no exception and it not only made a tasty latte, but was delicious served straight. It’s sweet and earthy with caramel undertones.

To prepare the latte, I steeped 1 tbls of tea in 1/3 cup of 195 F water for 3 minutes. Sweetened with 1.5 tsp of sugar and added a 2/3 cup of frothed milk.

Flavors: Caramel, Earth, Sweet

180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Spent the afternoon at Barnes & Noble yesterday while my car was in the shop. It’s funny, although I read almost exclusively on the Kindle these days, nothing beats the experience of browsing an actual bookstore. I’m aware that bookstores and libraries are an endangered species these days, and try to support them in some way whenever I visit. So I went to the cafe and ordered this unsweetened Teavana iced tea.

As soon as I took a sip, I instantly recognized it as the old Starbucks Tazo Zen Green Tea now rebranded as Teavana. A tea I used to be quite fond of but hadn’t tasted in years. The tea was light amber in color and very heavy on the mint. Not the fresh mint you taste in Moroccan mint tea but the dried variety in your spice jar. There is a bit of lemongrass and citrus but the dominant flavor is mint. When I’m drinking a blend, I like to be able to taste some of the base tea however this felt like I was drinking dried herbs steeped in water.

It’s interesting how your tastes evolve over time. Although i used to love this tea, I struggled to finish the entire cup. It’s palatable and was nostalgic for me, but wouldn’t recommend it unless you really love mint.

Flavors: Herbs, Mint

Mastress Alita

Libraries, an endangered species?! I should hope not, I’ve worked at one now for 15 years…

I also have converted to reading on Kindle, for two reasons: 1) I just don’t have the storage space for physical books, and 2) I have a hard time holding a book while I’m eating or sipping a cup of tea, but can easily lay a Kindle on the table and free up a pinky for page-turning-via-swipe. That said, I agree there is still something “zen” about the “paper smell” of a bookstore/library and the experience of holding a book/physically turning pages; zen, and also nostalgic as a long-time reader/book-lover.


I hope not either but the funding cuts at some branches and the decline in foot traffic concerns me. As someone who basically grew up in libraries and worked at one for 5 years, I hope they can evolve and remain popular in the digital age.

The convenience of an e-reader can’t be beat. I often read multiple books at one time and I love having them all in one place. Plus I realized I seldom re-read books, so with the exception of a few non-fiction reference books, I’ve been Marie Kondoing my physical book collection. And speaking of libraries, I love using the Libby app to check out e-books and send them directly to my Kindle in seconds!


Our community college library was recently gutted of books and filled with nonsense and computers if the irate traditional instructors were accurate in their descriptions. They were very upset. I love “real” books, but I, too, read a lot on my tablet. If I really love a book, a hardcover is purchased, needless to say, we are short on space now,

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Not quite sure how to rate this tea. It left me a little frustrated because no matter what I just couldn’t coax much flavor out of it through gongfu brewing. However today, I caught a fleeting glimpse of the tea’s character after hastily dumping a teaspoon or so of leaves in my tumbler with hot water.

The tea itself had a nice aroma of granny smith apples and daffodils. Wet leaf aroma was even more flowery with milk, butter, and a little tropical fruitiness. Gongfu brewing produced a light brew with a little sourness and notes of melon and cucumber. When allowed to steep longer, the tea is richer and develops into a bouquet of spring flowers with a sugarcane sweetness. I should have western steeped it instead of grandpa style though because eventually some bitterness crept in however underneath it, I could still taste the nectary sweetness.

Flavors: Flowers, Nectar, Sugarcane

190 °F / 87 °C 2 g 9 OZ / 266 ML

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I gotta say Taiwanese greens are the most aromatic green teas I’ve come across. Yet the actual drinking experience seldom lives up to the aroma. Such was the case with this tea. It had an incredible honeyed narcissus aroma but I got only the barest hint of flavor in the brewed tea. I had a little more success today following Togo’s steeping parameters.

The dry leaves emitted sweet aromas of maple syrup and apple cider when dropped into a heated shibo. Wet leaves had an interesting smell of eucalyptus and spice. First steep had a buttery, smooth vegetable soup flavor. Second steep was similar with a hint of juniper berries. The third steep had a cooling herbaceous taste mingled with sandalwood and a floral finish.

This was a mellow tea reminiscent of mao feng green tea. It had a sweet though indistinct vegetal flavor and a little tingle of spice. After trying a number of Taiwanese green teas, I’ve come to the conclusion that while interesting, they just don’t measure up to their counterparts from China and Japan. They seem more one-dimensional and lack that depth of flavor.

Flavors: Eucalyptus, Spices, Vegetable Broth

180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 45 sec 2 g 2 OZ / 48 ML

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My Rating Criteria:

95 to 100: Top shelf stuff. Loved this tea and highly recommend it

90 to 94: Excellent. Enjoyed this tea and would likely repurchase

80 to 89: Good but not great. I liked it though it may be lacking in some aspects. I’ll finish it but probably won’t buy again

70 to 79: Average at best. Not terrible but wouldn’t willingly drink again

60 to 69: Sub-par. Low quality tea, barely palatable

59 and below: Bleh

Fell into tea many years ago and for a long time my experience was limited to Japanese greens and flavored Teavana teas. My tea epiphany happened when I discovered jade oolongs. That was my gateway drug to the world of high quality tea and teaware.

For the most part, I drink straight tea but do appreciate a good flavored tea on occasion. I love fresh green and floral flavors and as such, green tea and Taiwanese oolongs will always have a place in my cupboard. After avoiding black tea forever, Chinese blacks have started to grow on me. I’m less enthusiastic about puerh though. I also enjoy white tea and tisanes but reach for them less frequently.

Other non-tea interests include: cooking, reading, nature, philosophy, MMA, traveling when I can, and of course putzing around on the interwebs.

IG: https://www.instagram.com/melucky



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