106 Tasting Notes

Trying a sample of this for a late morning tea today (thanks for the sample, Angel!), 7g to 100ml in ruyao gaiwan, preheated and one rinse with boiling water in a thermos.

This starts off predominantly roasty, with a smooth, faint floral bitterness and a lingering roasted char aftertaste. Astringency starts to ramp hard as it opens up, but the roast turns nutty and a bit of light caramel sweetness enters center stage as well. A lingering sweet throat coating builds up over the steeps as well, adding to the dry feeling of the astringency.

Despite being a yancha, I didn’t taste any rocks until about steep 6, where a very clean mineral (rather than standard wet rocks) flavor emerged from the roast alongside more caramel sweetness. The astringency does die down again around this point as well, but it’s pretty prominent throughout the session. The flavor profile is a bit strong on the roast, but it does have some nice flavors throughout, particularly at the beginning with that odd combination of lightly bitter florals that I found refreshing in mouthfeel and taste.

Overall, I thought it wasn’t bad, but too astringent for my liking, something that was improved as my water cooled, so perhaps I will try this with cooler water next time, especially as the lid had an amazing floral sweet roast aroma that wasn’t reflected in the tea. The liquor in the cup also seemed to sweeten and mellow as it cooled, so something to consider. It lasts about 8 steeps before it begins to die, which is pretty good, and a good amount of get up and go for the morning.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Caramel, Char, Floral, Nuts, Roasted

Boiling 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Sample from my amazing secret Santea (thanks, twinofmunin!), but I’ve also had the pleasure to try it briefly at Floating Leaves Tea with Glen and Lamu. I didn’t take notes then, but this was just as clean and deep forest floor as I remember, with virtually none of that shou funk and all of the lovely thick texture shou tends to give (although that’s compared to sheng, this is actually not super thick on the shou spectrum).

I really dislike shou fermentation funk, so I’m finding I really enjoy aged shou that has cleared, the more completely the better, like this one. I only gave it the one, normal rinse as opposed to my usual two long ones once I get a whiff of the leaf and it still came out nice and clean. I went with around 8g to a 100ml in ruyao gaiwan, boiling water. It’s a little thin at the very start due to my being too lazy to do more than throw a condensed chunk in the gaiwan, but already has a heavy up front flavor of old wood core and forest floor. As it opens up, it gets thicker and sweeter, with a subtle camphor cooling quality throughout (I noticed it by steep 2, but I had also been choking on it from trying to talk and drink at the same time, so I doubt I would have noticed it for a while longer if it hadn’t been numbing the sensitive tissues of my vocal chords, heh). A mineral mossiness takes over the wood flavors towards the end, around steep 6 or 7.

When steeped with a very light hand, this kind of reminds me of coffee in character without the bitterness with the mellow yet prominent wood flavor that lingers. Steeped more to my standard slow flash steeps, it’s predominantly thick and rich and tastes like if I cored an ancient tree and boiled it in water for an hour or two and maybe threw a handful of some of the equally ancient forest floor in for good measure.

There is a certain lingering quality to this tea, however, that I’m hard put to describe. There’s a review on their website of this as having indescribable ‘emotion’ and I would have to agree—there’s a certain taste to it that I can’t put words to, but evokes the smell and memory of my favorite aged (now deceased) grandma, despite the fact that she smelled nothing like this tea. It simply tastes like nostalgic old age to me underneath the very upfront wood, minerals, and sweetness. Coupled with a very relaxing, grounding (as in, it feels like all your muscles are being dragged to the ground) qi that was quite strong for me, I really enjoyed this. I got 11 steeps out of it, but could have probably pushed it for more if we didn’t have another tea lined up for the day.

Flavors: Camphor, Forest Floor, Mineral, Moss, Sugarcane, Wood

Boiling 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Hm, not 100% sure this is the same tea (sample was labeled as 2011 Jingmai Gushu, but ancient gardens sounds pretty close to the same idea and I don’t see Jingmai Gushu for sale on their website), but we’ll stick it here all the same. Tried this out in my new mini gaiwan, little over 4g in a 60ml porcelain gaiwan, preheated, 205 F water, yada, yada, yada.

This is a quite sweet, stone/slate tasting tea, with a bit of metallic milk taste that is really weird when contrasted with the astringency present throughout, but not in an unpleasant way, just a confused combination of flavor processing way. It opens up quite pillowy and thick feeling, which gets cut into a very clean taste and feel by the astringency which grows significantly throughout (but not to the point of being overwhelming).

The throat coating on this one is strong and the huigan builds up a very strong sweetness by the end game steeps (around 7-9), while the upfront flavor becomes thinner and softer around the same time.

Overall, this tea is quite sweet and has almost no bitterness, although there is a fair amount of astringency throughout the ~10 steeps I got out of this. Energy-wise, I got a pretty zoned/focused vibe from this tea, although nothing super strong. The flavor profile is quite agreeable, not as citrusy as the other Jingmai I’ve tried, but nothing too offending and there’s depth and some fun texture to go along with it as well. The aftertaste is quite nice, with a surprisingly deep honey thing on steep 7 that I really enjoyed but didn’t reappear, unfortunately, and I’m still not a fan of astringent tea.

Flavors: Honey, Limestone, Milk, Mineral, Sweet

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Another one from the group buy, also in orb form. This tea is very clean and really green tasting for puerh, even more than I would normally note with young, first year tea. Not really my thing, personally, as I don’t drink much green tea, but it does have a bit of puerh herb-y complexity with the sweetening after taste that starts to pop up in later steeps and a tiny bit of astringent citrus that gives it a very bright/golden kind of feel.

The energy is uplifting, but not overpowering. It has quite some endurance, though, as I drank it out over the course of two or three days. Overall, very green, very clean, and very light. Too much so for me.

Flavors: Citrus Zest, Floral, Green, Herbs, Sweet, Warm Grass

205 °F / 96 °C 3 OZ / 90 ML

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drank 2016 Tuhao as F*ck by white2tea
106 tasting notes

Trying the orb version from the group buy, so steamed the sucker open with an extra long rinse to start, 205 F in a preheated porcelain gaiwan. This opened up to quite the bitter tea with an intense throat coating and interesting herbaceous depth, but it was getting complaints from my drinking companions, so dialed it down to 200 F later which kicked the bitter down, but also kind of dialed down some of that thick body.

The energy on this one is quite strong, very warming to the point that I had to remove the heavy sweater I was wearing by steep 5, and was struck suddenly by a heavy foggy
dizziness on steep 6. Some mild throat sweet sugar cane return was present at this point, highlighted by the bitterness of the tea, which never really goes away completely, even at this light temperature, although it surprisingly doesn’t ever have much astringency to accompany it either. Don’t remember much else at this point since I was drinking with company and didn’t write down notes, but it was quite the strong tea, glad I got to try it, although I don’t know if the flavor was something I’d seek out. Be curious to see how this tastes in a few years.

Flavors: Bitter, Herbaceous, Sugarcane, Sweet

200 °F / 93 °C 3 OZ / 90 ML

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So. Tea. Drunk. HYPER!!! This tea is nicely mellow and smoky, smooth camphor feel on the swallow, good aged orange color and taste. Very easy to brew, friendly in taste, no real bitterness or astringency really to speak of. The qi on this though has got me buzzing around on epileptic party parrots while laughing hysterically and waving my arms around like the party degenerate that just don’t care because it’s 19NINETY NIIIIIINE!!!!

I’d characterize it like weed brownies, you don’t eat it for the taste, but it’s not like the brownie taste is getting in the way, ya get my drift? And now I need to go. Go zoom around my house and jump off walls and such. yeah. Thanks for sample, phiiii!

Flavors: Campfire, Camphor, Dates, Medicinal, Mushrooms, Smoke, Sweet

Boiling 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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I steeped this a little heavier than usual due to the almost nonexistent aroma off the dry leaf, 7g to 100ml at 198-200F. Very light flavors with cooler water, borderline boring was my first impression, actually, as it was a pretty one note, unchanging tea for the first 6 or 7 steeps or so. Not an unpleasant note, by any mean, in fact, it was quite mellow and calm and pleasant with an herbaceous, bassy sweet note to it and a soft, moderate thickness with a bit of roof drying astringency.

Later steeps the astringency dies down considerably and so I pushed it with hotter water (upped to 205 F and longer steep times that I would have called slightly overbrewed in most tea) and it returned a nice bit of sour-almost-not-quite citrus bordering floral notes alongside the sweetness, creating an interesting mouth feel dynamic with the astringency. The taste reminded me of sweet and sour stir fry sauce with a more vinegar than citric sourness at parts that helped contrast the sweetness. Nothing mind blowing, but a nice little last hurrah from this tea which had been quite boringly polite up til now. I haven’t tried this at boiling yet, but soon enough we’ll see what that brings out of this.

Flavors: Citrus, Herbaceous, Sour, Sweet, Vinegar

7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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The dry leaf on this smells amazing, complexly citrus-y, herby, floral-y, fruit-y, and more. The taste isn’t nearly as crazy, or so crazy I couldn’t pick out all the tastes, I couldn’t tell which by the end. Regardless, it’s very friendly with a soft, bordering a drop of cream mouthfeel with very little astringency or bitterness unless oversteeped (and then it tastes a bit like sour lemon-y, herb-y pennies, but surprisingly still low astringency).

The main taste throughout is that lemon citrus taste with the herb and light mushroom broth heartiness that gets stronger as the leaf opens up. The aftertaste reveals hints of lemon sourness giving way to a lightly sweet mineral sugarcane at times, especially as the tea cools in the cup. The qi hit me HARD on this one by the middle steeps (around 5 and 6), surprising me since it seemed so bouncy and floaty and dreamy, when all of a sudden my fingers felt like they were weighted down while the rest of me felt like it was flying with the clouds. It left me full on retarded for a good couple minutes, I would say, but I am a light weight—my more sturdily constructed drinking partner of higher constitution described the experience more as a mellowing, delayed processing, chill feeling.

The flavors did turn a bit more peachy and more mineral mossy towards the end as the lemon started to finally fade off a bit, but it clung as the most noticeable flavor throughout until steep 10 which is where I stopped. It could have probably gone a couple or even a few more steeps, but the shengry claimed me at this point and I abandoned the tea for some rice crackers. I agree that the 5 years of age hasn’t had much noticeable effect on the flavor profile of this one, although it does seem to have settled into some consistency if nothing else. The dreamy energy was the highlight for me, although I would say the taste was certainly enjoyable as well, if heavy on the citrus.

Flavors: Creamy, Herbs, Lemon, Mineral, Mushrooms, Sugarcane

205 °F / 96 °C 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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This one wasn’t bad if you could forgive the lingering smoker’s breath taste of Eau de Ashtray that lurked in the background of every cup of this. It started off promising, although odd, with a smoked meatiness that faded into a camphor-like cooling cup of tobacco with a surprising brightness at the end, but quickly settled into more of an ashy, used tobacco with shifts into campfire after the first couple of steeps.

To its credit, the ash tray taste is not intensely strong in this tea, but it was just enough to be off putting for those of us who may really dislike that taste (it was enough I decided to stop drinking it by steep 7 and try something else when it didn’t go away, but I really hate cigarette ash smell/taste). Shame, because everything else was pretty solid and I really like camphor notes and the mid aged taste to my pu erh.

Flavors: Ash, Campfire, Camphor, Herbs, Meat, Smoke, Tobacco

Boiling 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

Smoker’s Breath tea? Eww :P


Yeah… It honestly was just light enough it kind of straddled unpleasant and maybe enjoyable if you have good associations with it, but it was just gross to me.

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drank Chocolate by Harney & Sons
106 tasting notes

Smells alcoholic somehow, like chocolate cordials without any filling. Tasted like a watery, somewhat malty version of the same, and while I can’t be SURE this is what was responsible for the splitting headache all day that followed, I don’t care enough to retry to find out.

Flavors: Alcohol, Cocoa, Malt

Boiling 2 min, 15 sec 3 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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Favorite Tea Type: Darker oolong and sheng puerh

Rating Scale:

90-100: Amazing. Will buy and keep on hand all the time if finances and circumstances allow.

80-89: Strong argument for keeping it around all the time, even more than the prospect of trying more new tea. It’s that good.

70-79: Pretty solid. Glad I tried it, several factors that were unique or that I highly enjoyed.

60-69: Nothing that stands out for the most part, but with a quality or two that speaks to me.

50-59: Fairly run of the mill, pleasant but not much more to be said.

40-49: Something here is off putting in an otherwise decent tea.

30-39: There are a few things wrong with this tea. I did not enjoy.

20-29: Disliked this, could maybe see something, some redeeming quality in it others might find worth drinking without spitting back out.

10-19: Begin to question whether any tea is actually, in fact, better than no tea.

0-9: This causes actual food poisoning.



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