Pu-erh Chai

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Black Chai Pu'erh Blend
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Edit tea info Last updated by Jason
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205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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30 Tasting Notes View all

  • “Mmmmm! So I figured that since it’s the weekend, I should make a tea that I can’t possibly make on the weekdays with my new schedule. What tea better to make than a chai. Not only a chai, but a...” Read full tasting note
  • “This is a weird smell…almost like something turning funky in the frig…but the more it cools you can smell a hint of cinnamon. The coloring is neat…a reddish brown on the verge of black. It’s bold...” Read full tasting note
  • “Not gonna lie…I’m scared of pu-erh. It may be that I should’ve waited to try this until after whatever uplifting, familiarizing, reassuring experience might follow the arrival of my Samovar order...” Read full tasting note
  • “Golden Moon sample No. 9 of 31. I’d picked this out after the Orchid Temple but had to wait until today, when I have stove access during caffeine-safe hours, to put it through its paces. I used...” Read full tasting note

From Golden Moon Tea

Dark leaves, aged to perfection, produce a deep, russet-brown liquor. An exotic blend of rich, earthy notes enlivened by aromatic cinnamon bark and elegant green cardamom pods, highlighted with a smooth citrus bouquet. Sweet and full bodied. A mysterious adventure in every cup. Excellent for health.

About Golden Moon Tea View company

Golden Moon is dedicated to offering outstanding, whole-leaf teas of the greatest quality and finesse. All Golden Moon Teas are hand-plucked and meticulously crafted to enhance leaf character, aroma, color, clarity, body, complexity, and above all, flavor.

30 Tasting Notes

187 tasting notes


So I figured that since it’s the weekend, I should make a tea that I can’t possibly make on the weekdays with my new schedule. What tea better to make than a chai. Not only a chai, but a pu-erh chai?

So for this one, I used the traditional takgoti recipe for chai (1 tbsp chai, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 cup milk (soy), 1 cup water) and did the traditional simmering thing. First off, let’s talk about the dry leaves, which are gorgeous. There’s large chunks of cinnamon bark here, and my sample had a single, seagreen cardamom pod. The smell was spicy, rich and earthy. Just the way I like it.

One of the most wonderful smells is chai simmering on a stovetop. Seriously. Everyone that walked into my kitchen kept MMMing and AHHHing. It’s pretty cold here in NYC, and the smell was just immediately warming and comforting.

I should note that I used Very Vanilla Silk soymilk in this one. I would have used regular vanilla, but I was out of it. Besides, Very Vanilla is actually creamier, less nutty, and tastes like a melted vanilla milkshake. So I figured it’d pair nicely with the earth accents of the chai. Anyway, this one simmering smelled deliciously of cinnamon and cardamom, with a delicious pu-erh base.

Before I poured the milk in, the water/sugar/tea combo was ridiculously dark. The leaves almost disappeared in the murkiness. It was pretty interesting. Once the milk was added, the chai was significantly darker than your run-of-the-mill black chai. More like chocolate milk instead of caffe au lait.

After letting it sit for 9+ minutes, I strained the concoction and poured. The first though I had with sipping this was, boy, is this rich and sweet. Seriously sweet. I think I might need to lay a bit lower with the sugar next time, since Very Vanilla is pretty sugariffic. But anyway, the sweetness here was delicious. Then the spices came in, with soft accents of cardamom and puffs of cinnamon. The finish was rich and deep and pu-erh, which was welcome and wonderful. I don’t think the pu-erh is overwhelming here as well, but serves as a backbone to the spices instead.

Even my mom liked this one, and she pretty much intensely dislikes the taste of pu-erh. She said that it was “warming and welcoming,” which is entirely true.

I didn’t really get any of the citrus that GM points out in their tasting notes, but sweet, rich, spiced, wonderful goodness is all here. Chai is its own drink. It’s tea, but it goes above and beyond tea to this rich and delicious concoction. I think this method of preparation has to beat the pants off of just adding milk to a regular cup of chai-like tea. You don’t get the combination of delicious flavors, the uniformity of a unique beverage. Mmmmmm.

I also put a little in the fridge to cool. This bit after it was ice-cold tasted more strongly of pu-erh, with the spices taking a backseat. It was enjoyable, but still not as wonderful and amazing as the hot mixture.

Perfect, perfect, perfect to sip on a cold day. And for watching the Winter Olympic Games! The Opening Ceremony was definitely meh at points, but Gretzky on a jeep in the van being chased by rabid Canadians was absolutely hilarious.

Mmmmmm. I be happiness right now.

Boiling 8 min or more

I can’t wait for my Golden Moon sampler to get here!


Wheee, it’s so much fun when it actually arrives and all the cute packets are in front of you. The biggest trouble is deciding what to drink!


That seems like an interesting mix. I might have to check Golden Moon out some time!

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6768 tasting notes

This is a weird smell…almost like something turning funky in the frig…but the more it cools you can smell a hint of cinnamon. The coloring is neat…a reddish brown on the verge of black. It’s bold but even in taste. It’s growing on me…


growing like pennicilin? Your scaring me!!!!


Yeah…maybe that funky frig smell did something to me…lol…


Is there a Dr. in the house?

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158 tasting notes

Not gonna lie…I’m scared of pu-erh.

It may be that I should’ve waited to try this until after whatever uplifting, familiarizing, reassuring experience might follow the arrival of my Samovar order sometime later today, since I purchased what I understand is a very forgiving ‘starter’ kind of pu-erh, and it might’ve set me down the road to not having a mental block about the stuff…but it was exceedingly early when I sat bolt upright in bed for no good reason (3am) and I needed something cozy. I needed chai. I wasn’t completely willing to go the distance and do the yerba mate chai thing; I have a sneaking suspicion I’ll need that mega-dose of caffeine much later today. This was lingering along with a handful of other tea samples in my Golden Moon basket…so…

Here we are.

I can’t get past the idea that something about this tea smells a little bit…funky, and yet I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. It seems to hide directly behind the hint of cinnamon, just out of view, and worry me. I have a creeping feeling that it is…socks. Or something like socks. Maybe someone’s socks after they were walking around in the dirt. Or…or…not socks. Something. This is definitely not the chai experience to which I’ve become accustomed, and I am having a hard time telling whether or not this is psychosomatic or genuine.

I tried for quite some time to finish my cup, and in the end I couldn’t…a real rarity for me. I wonder if I ruined this tea for myself by being so wary of pu-erh; I wonder if I wouldn’t have liked it better had the qualities of the pu-erh flavor not been somewhat masked by spices, so that the vague hints of them that I was receiving were immediately associated with a pu-erh experience that I enjoyed, rather than striking me as, and I stand by this assessment, a faint impression of socks.

It isn’t terrible, but it sort of unnerved me. Hopefully later today I’ll have my first cup of really good pu-erh, and this will all rectify itself.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

You are braver than I – I put this sample in the Traveling Tea Box! I just couldn’t go there – maybe I will evolve there in the future :)


That has sort of been my feeling about it for a while now, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and I usually find that teaplz’s tasting notes are pretty in-line with what I get from teas that both of us have tried, so it seemed like a good bet! That reason more than any other is the one that makes me question whether or not I was really getting a funky socks taste…but…I really think I was. Now, if only the guys at the desk downstairs would come back from lunch, then I could have my package of new tea!


Hrm! Maybe it’s better to try a plain pu-erh before this? I have no idea. The first pu-erh I had was GM’s regular one, and I really enjoyed it. I can definitely see this being unnerving to try first, since it has the pu-erh flavors, but then also has the chai flavors, and I would have probably thought it was funky too, if I couldn’t differentiate between the chai and the pu-erh and I was like D:

That being said, pu-erh is definitely not for everyone. But loose pu-erh isn’t TOO scary-looking. The taste is very, very earth-like. Rich soil and the like. I love really earthy tastes (like mushrooms, mmmm) so this is right up my alley.

You should totally try Samovar’s ME though! I’m really excited to see what you think! :D


I haven’t tried the Pu-erh Chai yet, but I do hope Maiden’s Ecstasy finds you better!

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2036 tasting notes

Golden Moon sample No. 9 of 31. I’d picked this out after the Orchid Temple but had to wait until today, when I have stove access during caffeine-safe hours, to put it through its paces.

I used the stovetop method LENA described here: http://steepster.com/discuss/25-chai

I made a slight modification, which is that I didn’t boil five minutes after adding the milk. I just brought it to a boil, removed from heat, covered and steeped for 10 minutes, a la the instructions on the Samovar Masala Chai sample. I did this because my stove must run pretty hot. The water boiled completely away before 10 minutes were up, and fortunately I walked into the kitchen in time to save the project from disaster. So I think my personal recipe is going to have to be “boil 10 minutes or until water evaporates.” Either that or try more of a simmer than a boil.

Anyway about this tea. I calculated that I had enough in the sample for 3/4 of a cup of chai, so I used 3/4 tbsp sweetener, 3/4 cup water and 3/4 cup 1% milk.

When the sample came out of the mylar vest, it smelled deliciously spicy. Cinnamon and cardomom. Just the slightest, earthy pu erh scent. This changed during boiling. The pu erh came out in the aroma. This pu erh smell didn’t strike me as leathery so much as mossy, wet tree bark or maybe leafy soil. It kicked in shortly after the boiling started, then just as quickly resolved and retreated, and back came the spices as the primary aroma.

The chai has a dark aroma owing to the pu erh. It’s gingerbready, but also vaguely chocolatey.

The taste is interesting. It’s chewy, but because of the pu erh it strikes me as a little rough around the edges. Not in a bad way, mind you. It makes this a less sweet, somewhat earthy drink, but with chai’s spicy creaminess. There’s depth and complexity to the flavor — I’m getting some coffee notes and some chocolate notes. I could see being in the mood for this on a cold rainy day. It doesn’t replace my top choice, but it’s a nice sometimes alternative.

I wonder how it would taste using the Samovar method of adding a spoon of black tea to it? Or would it be more appropriate to add a spoon of loose pu erh?

Boiling 8 min or more

I keep avoiding this sample. I have yet to gain an appreciation for either pu erh or chai and the thought of these two forces combining, well, let’s just say it makes me nervous.


Rabs, it could go either way I think. Either your fears will be validated or you’ll find that the combination of the two makes each of them better than they were alone. Certainly I’d think this would be the case for the pu erh because the milk, sweetener and spices tame it quite a bit. For the chai, not so much. If you just don’t like chai, making it with pu erh seems to me unlikely to make it more tempting. Will be looking forward to hearing what you think once you take that bold step forward. ;)


Gingerbready? I have to try this stovetop method!


Yes, it’s worth a try! It is now my preferred method by a long shot. The consistency and flavor is so much more nommy than just steeping in water and adding milk/sweetner.

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382 tasting notes

Golden Moon Sampler Tea #4:
So I’ve been thinking about my teapot lid issue, and I have come up with several possible plans of action.
Plan A: Befriend a potter.
Plan B: Order a billion different lids off ebay and hope one fits
Plan C: Invent time machine, go back in time and grab lid before it gets broken/stop myself from throwing it away like a noob.
Plan D: Recall the existence of thrift stores and the preponderance of random ceramics in them and see if there’s anything there that fits.

I’m currently leaning towards plan C myself.

Back on topic! The gods of fate have decreed that my afternoon tea be pu erh chai. The leaves look very nice with bits of cinnamon bark and a cardamon pod. I am a big fan of cardamon in chai and am always mildly disappointed when it fails to appear in my chai leaves. So bonus points for that, definitely. I have to agree with the other reviewers that the smell when brewed is decidedly funky. I probably would have been freaked out enough by the pungency to add milk (of the rice/almond vanilla variety) had there actually been any in the house. Sadly, I am currently milk-less, so I’m just going with the straight tea.

For me, this came out a very lightly spiced pu erh. I can definitely distinguish the base tea, unlike in the case of the sugar caramel oolong. Now, if a flavored tea is just standard black tea + flavor of some kind, I am generally more forgiving if it doesn’t distinguish itself. If something is specifically a flavored oolong or pu erh or other kind of distinctive tea, I fail to see the point if the flavors completely eclipse the base tea, if that makes any sense. Thus, I approve of this tea, although I think it could stand to be a bit more spice-y. On the other hand, since pu erh brews up so dark all the time, I may have overestimated how much water was needed. Sigh, always with the caveats.

I think I would like to try this with some sweetened milk, I may have to order more just for that.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

When you get Plan C on track, please let me know, there are a couple of things I have to correct, also …!

Jim Marks

Plan E ~ go to thrift store and buy a cheap but functional tea pot that comes with a lid?


please please please go for PLAN C! LOL!


Noooooo, I loves my teapot! I have named it Ivan!

Jim Marks

Ooops. Plan A, then?

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1353 tasting notes

Isn’t it weird how, while I couldn’t type very well, I couldn’t stay away, but now that I can type again, I find I don’t really have anything to say? Anyway, it’s mid-may and it’s EXTREMELY cold outside. The other night it got down to below freezing and the weather people say that our current weather looks much more like october weather than it does may weather. Obviously this calls for something warming and I happen to have this sample from Doulton handy.

Pu-erh chai??? That’s one of the most bizarre things I’ve heard in a long time. While I do tend to like pu-erh a lot, I’m not a fan of chai, and the combination of the two things doesn’t really appeal to me. But it was gift tea and I’m going to give it a fair chance instead of just passing it on. I’m not that much of a wuss.

Normally a good pu-erh, for me, has to smell of cows. It sounds odd but there are some other associations connected with this that for me makes it a good quality for a pu-erh to have. I can’t say that this one smells the slightest bit of cows. I’m leaning rather a lot towards fish on that one. And we’re not talking freshly caught fish here either, but fish caught the day before, or maybe the day before that. Fish that hasn’t gone bad yet but is definitely getting a bit on in age. The cinnamon has a strong presence and I can detect some citrus too (Citrus in a chai? wtf?). It’s not that difficult to pick the aroma apart into these component notes, but the over all impression remains fish.

Lovely. I’m feeling very assured.

Or not.

It’s not without caution that I take the first sip and get a mouth full of cinnamon. And cinnamon and cinnamon and cinnamon. Not really a fan of cinnamon tea either, which probably isn’t really helping with my chai issues.

I can find the citrus also and maybe a touch of cardemom, but not much. I can’t really find any pu-erh flavours in it. None of that earthy slightly mouldy darkness that I like about pu-erh. Not even the tiniest smidge. Nothing.

The cinnamon gives it a lot of sweetness but from what I can tell it might just as easily be any old Earl Grey-ish type tea with a cinnamon addition.

No, this one is definitely not for me. It’s drinkable and it’s not unpleasant. But it isn’t good either.

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314 tasting notes

Soil-y, plant-y spices!
Potent cardamom aroma. Heavy (almost minty?) cinnamon aftertaste.
I can definitely taste the earthy pu-erh. Tastes like (how I imagine) rain-soaked granite and slate to be. Just to wax poetic: Like ancient stones set in a verdant fog-covered meadow. :P
Upon cooldown, there’s an almost sandalwood-like flavor. Reminiscent of an antique sandalwood filigree fan. Like wisps of a sweet oriental perfume.
A happy little green cardamom pod bobs in the liquid. Cute! :)

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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243 tasting notes

This tea is very complex: the dried leaves smell fantastic, the brewed tea does not, however, the flavor is great.

The dried leaves smell rough and natural, like they were not processed or pruned, but they are raw from where they were grown. There is also a spicy, sweetness to the scent. You can smell cardamom and cinnamon.

The brewed tea is very dark, almost unexpectedly dark. The aroma of the tea is more of the rough, natural, earthy smell. The initial part of this bouquet is a little too earthy for me, however, it mellows out into the sweeter and better smell. As the tea cools, the aroma levels out, and becomes more and more of the earthy pu-erh and less of the sweetness.

The flavor is complex: pu-erh, then citrus, then cardamom, then chai, then cinnamon, then ends with more pu-erh. It is complex, it is earthy, it is rich and it is spiced. Very good.

The rating suffers a little because although I enjoy the tea, the earthy aroma I do not like. For me, tea is always all about a complete experience, bouquet and flavor. Here the flavor is good, but the bouquet is off-putting.

3 min, 0 sec
Madison Bartholemew

hooooray! less scared of puerh yet?

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93 tasting notes

It’s actually decent. I like the fact that I can taste the pu erh under all the spice. The pu erh is woody and fits good with the cinnamon and cardamom. It’s very smooth and the flavors aren’t YELLING. I appreciate that.


uh! I forgot to mention the color is very dark ( brown/black-ish)
And that I got this sample from Doulton!

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412 tasting notes

I was looking forward to trying this one, never having had a pu-erh chai before. It smells like I expected, earthy and cinnamony. Drunk plain, it’s a little on the bitter/spicy side, but the cinnamon and cardamom flavors come through well. A little milk is nice; sweetener would likely help but I’m resisting. I can’t quite decide whether this is good, and will grow on me, or just too strange; I wouldn’t buy more at this point, but I’ll drink what I have. I’m curious to see how well it resteeps, though there was enough in my sample for two solid cups.

ETA: I had the first two steeps (2 and 3 minutes) with milk, to soften the spices a little. The 3rd and 4th I’ve drunk plain, and I like them that way. The spices are milder by now, and the sweetness of the pu-erh is coming through more. It reminds me of harvest parties and field trips – drinking hot apple cider in a barn; it probably helps that it’s cold and rainy out today.

Bumping the rating on this one for resteepability and versatility.

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

I didn’t try this plain. I can’t imagine I’d like it that way. I’m pretty much completely won over to the stovetop method for anything having to do with chai now, to the point where I’d probably choose not to drink chai if I couldn’t make it on the stovetop.


Yeah, I don’t think I’d choose to drink it plain normally; I was trying to compare it to both other pu-erhs and other chais here, but I think it does better as a chai. The spices cancel out the pu-erh sweetness all too well, though it is re-steeping a little milder. I should try the other half of the sample on the stove top though…

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