336 Tasting Notes


OH MY LORD…. how long has it been since I’ve written a tasting note on Steepster? Years? It’s good to be back! (And I’m happy to see the interface is mostly the same!)

After living in a rural neighborhood all my life, I moved to a township in Dayton a few months ago and I still can’t believe things are actually close to me. Although Teavana is hit-or-miss for me, I was so excited to have one within a ten-minute drive from my place that I stopped by to pick up this and another tea.

It’s funny because BDP is my favorite kind of tea overall, but I haven’t managed to get this particular version to be quite satisfying. It’s either not flavorful enough or I brew it a little past its prime. I think I’ve had similar problems with some other Teavana teas in the past. This morning, I can taste a hint of the trademark BDP cocoa/raisin sweetness, but it’s just a little oversteeped. Might have used too many pearls, but with any fewer I can’t get the flavor to come out. Egh.

Honestly, it’s just so nice sitting on the couch in the morning, drinking a cup of tea and writing about it, that I don’t care!

Flavors: Cocoa, Malt, Raisins, Wood

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

Thanks for the suggestion! I default to 4-5 min on black teas, but that might be why it turned out a little astringent.

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Oh, goodness, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve had some loose-leaf tea. I’m feeling a bit rough around the edges today: tired but jittery, and it’s already been One of Those Weeks although it’s barely Tuesday afternoon.

I think this is already helping. It’s nice to have something warm and caffeinated that’s not coffee. I still think it’s my favorite comfort tea. It’s the tea equivalent of a big, snuggly blanket on a cold night.

I’m already starting to run low on my bag of this. Sadness!

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drank Japanese Sencha by Harney & Sons
336 tasting notes

Japanese movie (live action adaptation of Rurouni Kenshin) + late at night = perfect timing for sencha.

Of course, the one time I don’t royally screw up a sencha is when it’s in a teabag and I nuked the water. Figures. :/

I don’t have much to say. It’s good? It’s bright and grassy in a good way. I’m sure the bagness makes it less than ideal, but honestly, I’m just happy I didn’t make it taste like rotten meat.

Aren’t I such a discerning tea snob?

155 °F / 68 °C 1 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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Dear lord, can you say “winter blues?” For some reason, I’ve felt really dumpy and discouraged over the past twenty four hours, and I don’t know why. I have to think at least part of it is the weather. I wouldn’t say it’s S.A.D. levels yet, but this has been happening more over the past few winters.

Let’s put on some comfort tea, shall we?

Ohhhhh this is good. I don’t remember quite as much smokiness last time! It’s such a dark, sweet smokiness… it makes me think of the very last red embers on a log, or smoked meat. Actually, it kinda reminds me of smoked ham. Huh.

I’m so happy I used the big mug for this. I’m going to keep sipping away while I do my homework. I’m sad I’m running low. Come onnnnn, commission check!


Yeah, it’s been a rough winter! Today my comfort tea was Verdant’s Yu Lu Yan Cha… also smokier than I remember!


I’m glad I’m not the only one sludging through winter. Yu Lu Yan Cha is another good one!


Hang in there, winter blahs are no fun at all! I get it too

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I wanted to love this tea. I so, SO wanted to love this tea. I love shus and I love rose, and I was hoping it would be the best of both.

I have tried this tea on three separate occasions with different steeping methods, twice with the gaiwan and once in a teapot.

I get almost no rose in this tea, and that’s what I was really excited about. It is a decent shu – it’s just the tiniest bit brisk (that might be the little bit of rose coming through.) Just not what I’d hoped for. sigh Oh well.


I’ve never actually tasted rose in a rose puerh before. Common problem apparently!

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drank Royal Wedding by Harney & Sons
336 tasting notes

Not the best day. Had an assignment due tonight that I’m not sure I did right, and I don’t think it’s going to get a very good grade. Not used to grad-school levels of work yet, and I’m feeling the effects of poor time management more than ever. Didn’t sleep so hot last night, and still feeling a bit of a mini-meltdown I had right before I went to bed. And something happened at work that really, really rubbed me the wrong way.

But this tea was sweet goodness.


I know this doesn’t count for much, but I’m sending internet good vibes!


Well, thank you! And I’ll send some right back! :D

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I am so, SO happy to have this in my cupboard again.

I’ve had this twice in the past two days. It’s just liquid comfort. It tastes like it should be opaque. I never thought a toasty rice flavor could be… so… good. Makes me curious about more genmaichas.

I’m coming down with the sickness right now, so I’m not at my most eloquent. But mmmmm comfort tea.

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Bit of a backlog.

Think of George Takei saying, “Oh myyyyyy!” and you’ll have a good idea of how I feel about this tea. It is VERY good. I’ve never had it before, yet it tastes very familiar (perhaps because it’s reminding me of Yu Lu Yan Cha?)

The dry leaves are beautiful. They are so long and twisted, black with gold woven into them. Just looking at them looks delicious.

I didn’t take enough notes to post a super-detailed review, but the tea has a warm, dark, sweet potato/yam/etc. essence with hints of something desserty, possibly cacao. But there’s just a little bit of spunk. I don’t know what it is. It’s not spice, it’s not astringency, it’s just… spunk. It’s exactly the right amount of accessible, exactly the right amount of complex, exactly the right amount of comforting, exactly the right amount of interesting.

After I lambasted Verdant’s Laoshan Green in a tasting note a long while back (to which Lily Duckler responded in the most gracious and professional manner possible), I’ve been looking for things to appreciate about their teas, and I’m truly impressed with how many times they just knock it out of the park. This is one of those times.


That’s a keeper fo sho! Love your review :-)

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Backlog from last night.


I stumbled across a mystery ripe pu erh in an unmarked tin the other day, and from what I remember, this is the most logical choice for what it was.

I did this right after I had a very unsuccessful bai hao tasting (really, it wasn’t worth a tasting note it was so not-good.) Although I used the gaiwan, I wound up pouring all the steeps into the same cup together. Not a whole lot to say about it – it was enjoyably earthy, and the liquor was an absolutely gorgeous true red.

I let my dad try a bit of it, and he had an interesting reaction: “It’s almost nutty. It’s like when you open a hickory nut and eat it right out of the shell.” I have never had a pu erh and thought of it as nutty before – maybe that’s just how my tastebuds work, since I don’t think they’re very good with subtleties – so that was really interesting. Every time I let unsuspecting people try a ripened pu erh, I always think they’re going to be grossed out, but they end up really liking it!

EDIT: Wait… no! I just read that the Wild Purple Buds is a sheng? Is that right? So this isn’t the one I sipped down last night? Oh heck, I have no idea.

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Bidding 2014 farewell with an unexpected sheng kick!

Actually, it kind of fits. In most ways, 2014 was a “bleh” year that was no different than the previous “bleh” years, BUT I had two big positive changes that I would never have expected: 1) I overcame a lifelong insecurity about being single/unable to fall in love, which I always thought would end with me finding My True Love, not with me realizing I’m proud and happy to be a gray-romantic “lone wolf.” 2) After years of feeling aimless, I finally found a career field that interested me (professional writing) and began my Master’s. Yay unexpected things!

Okay, so anywho. Me, my gaiwan, my new gongfu-style tea tray that makes my life 1000% easier (thank you Mom), my electric kettle that makes my life 2000% easier (thank you Grand), my glass cup, and my stream-of-conscious tasting notes.

Steep 1: 10 s (my “rinse” steep, which I drank anyway.) Light gold liquor. Wet leaves smell kind of grassy, but also a roasted wooden undertone. Flavor is bright-ish and lightly woody, with a high-pitched astringent note that’s not bitter. Makes me think of young, dewy tree branches. Almost savory? Oh, this is good.

Steep 2: 15s. Liquor color is now closer to amber. Wet leaves smell more like… you know what they remind me of? Dog hair. They smell like dog. Contrary to what I’d expected, this steep is a lot more astringent, actually kind of bitter. Did I screw something up? I’m trying to see what other flavors I’ve got, but it’s hard to get past that bitterness. Seriously, what did I do?

Steep 3: 20s. I’m trying to drink some water/brush my tongue so that the last steep’s aftertaste doesn’t affect my opinion of this steep. The bitterness has faded some. I’m getting that woody, almost-sweet undertone again. You know what? I used more water in this steep than I did the last one. I wonder if that was the issue.

Steep 4: 25s. I think the liquor has lightened a bit? The bitterness is largely gone, but everything else is pretty muted, too. The wood tone has rounded out. Yeah, it’s OK, but it’s nothing like the first steep.

Steep 5: 35s. Used more water in this steep than the previous ones, since this is my final one and I’m finishing off the water. Now the liquor is all pale and precious again. OK, brushing my teeth with toothpaste before tasting was a bad plan. Crapsies. The tea has all but rounded out. It’s kinda good, it’s pretty mellow, but I can’t tell if it’s really flavorful enough to be worthwhile.

I’m not enough of a sheng connoisseur to know how this one stacks up, but I like it. I think I like Teavivre’s Fenqqing Ancient Tree Spring Chun Jian 2012 a bit better (the complexities stand out more, if I remember correctly), but I’ll have to do another tasting of that one to be sure.

I am really, really getting to enjoy doing these gaiwan tastings. It’s so meditative and positive.

Goodbye 2014… bring it, 2015!

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The name’s Holly. 27. Work for a small IT company. About to finish a Master’s degree this winter. ISFJ for what it’s worth. I play various instruments (mostly bass guitar right now), attempt to write songs that I’m too scared to play for anyone, and I’m currently taking voice lessons. I also enjoy starting various hobbies, wearing monochromes, writing, cooking, taking walks, and various and sundry other things…

I’ve been a tea drinker since spring of 2013. Tea is a source of happiness, positivity, curiosity, and relaxation (…and caffeine) for me.

I’ve been on and off this site over the years, and I even had a separate tea blog at one point. For now, I’m just working on getting back in the habit of enjoying tea regularly and to its fullest.

Love: Malty Chinese black teas, shu/ripe pu erhs, soft flowery teas (esp. jasmine teas)

Like: Japanese green teas, sheng/ripe pu erhs, white teas

Still trying to get into: Most oolongs, chai teas

Not crazy about: Roasty teas, fruity teas, rooibos, many (not all) herbal teas

90-100: YEAH!
80-89: Nice! This is good stuff.
70-79: Respectable tea.
60-69: Not bad.
50-59: Middling. Not really worth it.
25-49: Eeeeeugh. Not good.
0-24: Did you know you can use tea leaves as odor absorbent?



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