326 Tasting Notes

drank Xiang Xun Dan Lu by Tao Tea Leaf
326 tasting notes

Picked this up a while ago when I was in Toronto. The Tao Tea Leaf store is quite nice, they carry a lot of beautiful tea ware. There are a lot of places to buy tea in Toronto.. I’m sure there are a lot of stores I don’t even know about, but this particular place caught my eye because they mainly sell premium teas (not mainly just flavoured ones).

Now onto my tasting note:

I’ve short steeped this tea a few times now, and in general it reminds me of a few other black teas with similar profiles (Zhao Bai Jian, Laoshan Black Tea). Earthy, floral, malty, hint of chocolate and sweetness. Sophisticated and easy on the palate. I really enjoy how the floral notes never get too bold, there is just a nice hint of it. And out of the other teas with similar profiles, I prefer this one because of that mild floral aroma.

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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See previous tasting notes for my thoughts on this tea’s flavour profile

Hmm, I take back what I said about this not being a good resteeper. I just had to scale down the short steeps by A LOT. When I short steep black tea I usually start at 30s or 45s, but these leaves infuse very quickly. Hime Fuki is also quite potent, I only needed 1tsp for short steeping in a 100ml tea vessel. I’ve tried adding more leaves previously and it was too bitter.

Overall not one of my favourite black teas, but still an enjoyable purchase. It shares a lot in common with Qimen black tea, but I prefer the flavour of Hime Fuki over that type. Generally I’m not a big fan of Qimen types though, and that is probably why this tea is not one of my top favourites.

100ml purion teapot, 1tsp, 6 steeps (3s, +3s resteeps)
(The built in filter the purion teapot had was very useful here. If you use a gaiwan you’ll need a strainer because the Hime Fuki leaves are small and broken)

200 °F / 93 °C

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Still my favourite “cheap” ($5/50g) LS.

Had a good experience short steeping this today, got up to 9 steeps. I was a bit surprised because the tea is comprised of broken leaves and I don’t always get performance out of those. It tasted very smooth, smoky, woody, and buttery throughout all the steeps.

On a final note I’d just like to mention that I usually love LS, so I’m not sure I would recommend this to those that dislike smoky teas. It is definitely not nasty and tarry, but I’ve also tried better (and more expensive) “authentic” LS.

100ml purion teapot, 2 tsp, 9 steeps (3s, +3s resteeps)
edit: if anyone’s curious, the smoky flavour didn’t stay in the purion after a quick rinse for my next tea

The DJBooth

That sounds awesome I think I’ll have to add this one to my shopping list.


It’s a pretty standard LS if you like that sort of thing.

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drank Da Hong Pao by Camellia Sinensis
326 tasting notes

I bought this just to see what’s so special about Da Hong Pao. There are a lot of sources for this type of tea, but I chose Camellia Sinensis because they never disappoint me and I like supporting Canadian businesses (plus the tea arrives quickly). Now onto the tasting note:

First steep: Roasted, floral, very smooth, kinda sweet.

Second steep: Sweeter, roasted flavour is nice and not too strong, has a soft floral aroma.

Third steep: More balanced, the liquor leaves a pleasant sweet and roasted flavour at the back of my throat.

Taking a break to sniff the gaiwan, the wet leaves have a very charming scent. I like how the roasted characteristics never become too overpowering.

Fourth steep: Much of the same characteristics are present, still quite smooth/creamy with a soft floral/fruity aroma.

Fifth steep: Seems a bit lighter and zesty. This cup made me think of mango and honey dew melon.

Sixth steep: More sweetness and fruit than roasted flavour.

Next time I’ll try with a longer initial steep and more leaves.

Sometimes I see that other teas are compared to Da Hong Pao, and I can kinda see why now, but I don’t find those comparisons very helpful. I’d rather people mentioned specific characteristics or flavour, like “sweet and roasted”. Overall a wonderful tea, but some of the hype around it tainted my experience. I’ll have to try some more Da Hong Pao teas in the future.

100ml gaiwan, 2 tsp, 6 steeps (10s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 1min, 1m20s)

200 °F / 93 °C

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I’ve never tried “gaba” teas before, so I was quite happy to see this tea sample included in my order of Zealong Black tea.

In the first steep I’m tasting candied fruit, roasted oolong, and a green veg-like flavour. Quite smooth and soft on my palate. The liquor is a somewhat dark amber colour.

Subsequent steeps became bolder in flavour but still maintained a good balance. I like how the later steeps tasted of candied golden raisins and cantaloupe melon. The seventh steep even brought out some cinnamon notes. There is some astringency but just enough to keep the body from seeming too dull.

Very happy I had a chance to try this once. Not sure if I’d buy this for the health benefits, but the flavour is unique and memorable. Getting the impression this vendor has great taste in tea. :)

200ml glass teapot, 2 tsp, 8 steeps (rinse, 40s, +10s resteeps)

185 °F / 85 °C

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Last time I brewed this western style once at 3 minutes, now I’m going to short steep it.

The liquor of the first steep felt really silky in my mouth. This short steep brought out some new flavours: floral, cinnamon, and the now familiar malt and barley flavours from my first tea session.

Second cup is very similar to the first, except the grape flavour really starts to come out here. Nothing really tastes out of place, and the floral notes are not strong enough to rub me the wrong way. The tea body and liquor colour are very light, with still no trace of bitterness or much astringency (much like my first experience with this tea).

Third cup left a nice sweetness at the back of my throat, but the flavours seem to be weakening.

Drinking on from the fourth to sixth steeps, the tea flavour continued to fade but the grape notes still built up in my mouth.

I tried extending the steep times a bit on the last two cups, but it was still really to light for my tastes. If I try this again I’ll probably do 3tsp of leaves, since 2tsp didn’t really fill up the gaiwan too much anyway.

Overall it reminds me of a few other black teas I’ve tried, but the grape flavour (reminds me of grape jam) makes this tea very unique and memorable. It didn’t turn out to be a great resteeper for me, so I’ll probably be drinking this western style in the future.

100ml gaiwan, 2tsp, (45s, 1min, 1m15s, 1m30s, 1m50s, 2m10s)

205 °F / 96 °C

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Recently there was a post on Steepster/Teatra.de about a special offer to buy a pre-release pack of Zealong black tea. It seemed a bit pricey but I love trying new stuff so I put in an order for 50g. (Although to be fair, the price is on-par with other high end black teas I buy)
My package came in the mail today, and along with the tea I ordered there were a few goodies: a photo of a Zealong picker in a tea field, photo of a tea cup in snow, and 2 tea samples (gaba oolong and FF ruby darjeeling).

For my first tea session I will be brewing it “western style” once at 3mins. Next time I’ll do multiple short steeps in a 100ml tea vessel.

Dry leaf appearance: big broad leaves

Liquor scent: malty, grainy

Flavour: Starts off very light, grainy, malty, with a sweet after taste. As I kept drinking, I started picking up on a unique flavour, not sure how to describe it other than “grapey”. It’s not a muscatel or concord grape kinda flavour. The tea body wasn’t bitter or had much astringency. Reminds me a bit of the “oolong-black” tea I tried from Yuuki-Cha.

Next time I brew this western style, I’ll try it at 5 minutes. The tea body is very light, so I think it could benefit from a longer steep time. This is my second experience with a tea from New Zealand. Before this I tried the Zealong Pure oolong, which I thought was pretty good. They all seem to be quite smooth and lack a sharp astringency.

Overall I found this to be an interesting black tea, but I won’t rate it until I do a short steep session.

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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I was really disappointed the first time I prepared a cup of this, so I decided to have another go today.

Drinking in the liquor, it tasted too tarry and smoky. Lapsang Souchong is one of my favourite types of black tea, but I cannot find anything here to love. It’s like someone dissected a smoker’s lung and then steeped it.
The lingering aftertaste is not pleasant, the tarry and smoky characteristics stay with me even when I move onto drinking water. Blech

I’ve heard that some people keep new LS for aging to let the smoky characteristics mellow, but I don’t think you could salvage this one.

This one got dumped in the trash but I’m not entirely disappointed with my purchase. I was genuinely curious what the heck this tasted like! If you have a deep love for Lapsang Souchong/Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong don’t touch this one. There are much better options out there.
I’m not sure who this tea appeals to… perhaps people with very little LS experience or those that are heavy smokers (no offense, this is just a very smoky and tarry tea).

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My husband and I are not too enthusiastic about drinking green tea, but this one has certainly charmed us. It’s not that we don’t like green tea, but we’d usually rather drink oolong or black teas. That being said, I like brewing up a pot of this a few days out of the week. It’s also a very easy tea to brew, it never turns out bad even when I let it steep too long (oops!). Based on the flavour and price, this is our favourite green tea and we will probably buy more in the future.

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Tried some of this at a local tea room and wasn’t very impressed. I like rooibos but this one just tasted too much like medicine. Somehow I thought I’d love this cup of tea because I’m a big fan of those craisins w/ pomegranate juice.

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Feel free to add me on Steepster, I’ll probably add you back. :)

I don’t log tea every time I drink it. Tasting notes tend to be about either one style of brewing or a new experience. It is helpful for me to look back on my notes and see what a tea tasted like or which steeping parameter worked best for me. I try to mostly short steep tea unless it only tastes better with a long steep. I’d rather experience what a tea tastes like over 3 or 12 steeps than just 1 to 3 long steeps.

When I write “tsp”, the measurement I use is a regular western teaspoon. Not a tea scoop

How I rate tea:

99-100: Teas that blow my mind! An unforgettable experience. Savoured to the last drop. I felt privileged to drink this.

90-98: Extraordinary, highly recommended, try it and you won’t be disappointed (and if you are, mail me the tea!)

85-89: Wonderful, couldn’t expect more but not a favourite.

80-84: Excellent, a treasured experience but not a favourite.

70-79: Good but could be better. Above average.

60-69: Average, unexceptional, not something I would buy again. Slightly disappointed. I’d rather drink water.

50-0: Varying degrees of sadness

No rating: Mixed feelings, can’t decide whether I like it or not, not enough experience with that sort of tea to rate it. A dramatic change of heart.


Ontario, Canada

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