371 Tasting Notes


Santea Clause Traveling Tea Box

I was worried this would taste of rooibos, but that doesn’t really appear let alone overwhelm the flavors. Smells very much like the chocolate treat. Mostly minty, a little chocolately, and also creamy. I like this mint-chocolate blend. Perfect for winter.

Boiling 8 min or more 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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Santea Clause Traveling Tea Box

Standard, simple herbal blend. The presentation of the dry leaf is lovely. I can taste more chamomile than lavender, though.

Boiling 6 min, 0 sec 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Santea Clause Traveling Tea Box

I’ve been spoiled by excellent shou pu’erh. This shou is pretty weak, but its notes – coffee, damp earth – go well with the chocolate flavoring, which itself is good as far as bagged tea goes. Makes a comforting cup on a cold autumn day.

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 8 OZ / 236 ML

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From Cameron B in a swap!

Brewed with a shudei kyusu. 1st infusion: 160 degrees, 45 seconds. 2nd and 3rd: 170, 30 seconds.

I love the color of the wet leaf – such a deep yet vibrant green! This gyokuro has a citrusy dry aroma. The wet aroma smells of the spinach, almost sugary. The liquor is bright green, full-bodied, thick-textured, and very sweet. The first and third infusions are buttery with a spinach note, and the second tastes more like squash with the slightest hint of bitterness (the good kind).

A good quality gyokuro, but it’s too sweet for me. Thanks for giving me a chance to try it, Cameron B!

1 tsp 3 OZ / 88 ML

yum yum yum

Cameron B.

Yours in on the way, Steph! :D


lol enjoy :)

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Second one to try from the sheng sampler. Method: gongfu with gaiwan. 10 second rinse. Steeping times: 10, 10, 15, 15, 20, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120.

It was difficult to make the dry leaf aroma, though it pretty much smells buttery. The wet leaf aroma changes as the leaves cooled and as the session went on: dried grass, cooking herbs, grilled vegetables, and apricot and grapes.

Overall, the broth is clear, full-bodied, a little thick, and bright. A livening effect on the body. Later, an alcohol kind of buzzed sensation.

Infusions one and two are light in flavor, not quite there. Buttery and vegetal, with a tart aftertaste. These invoke a mental scene of dark earth after a light rain, of water droplets slowly dripping from the very tea tree this pu’erh was processed.

The third infusion tastes of sweet grass and hay, and the aftertaste is more citrus-like. Tingly on the tongue. The fourth infusion has indescribable notes – this is probably the camphor, which I’ve never tasted. Infusions 5-9 come back to the sweet grass and tartness. The texture is more smooth.

Lastly, the tenth infusion has the same notes only lighter in taste. Buttery, with a creamy texture.

200 °F / 93 °C 7 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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Big thanks to Cameron B for including this in her swap!!

I don’t have much to say other than I really, really enjoyed it, through and through. Wonderful dry aroma. I could even smell the creaminess. Excellently flavored, too – it was like drinking actual cantaloupe juice warmed up. Bai Mu Dan is a great choice to for a base tea. Barely a grassy note, and it’s light enough for a flavoring that is so light itself. Also, the Helichrysum flowers are a lovely addition, a contrast the colors of the Bai Mu Dan.

180 °F / 82 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Autumn Song by Mandala Tea
371 tasting notes

Brewed with a gaiwan. 10 second rinse. Steeping times: 10, 10, 15, 15, 20, 30, 60, 90, 120.

I don’t have a palate for sheng, hence no rating.

A dry aroma of plums, grapes, lettuce an licorice. The wet aroma evolves: from green peppers to grapes to apples and honey. Sweet and juicy – I enjoyed this aroma throughout the session.

Early on and late into the session, the liquor is the color of grape juice, and in the middle of apple juice. Full-bodied, thin textured, clear, and crisp. The first infusion is too light in flavor, tasting of dried grass and grains. It is also unpleasantly sour. The flavor fully develops at infusion two. It is still grassy, though no sourness anymore. A little sweet now. The third infusion has more vegetal notes in addition to grass: zucchini and a reprise of green peppers. The grass lessens in the fourth and fifth infusions, which are also much sweeter – reminding me of grapes – with a hint of citrus.

Back to dried grass thereafter. The sweetness also slowly disappears. Lighter flavor. I’m left with a peppery aftertaste at infusion seven. This, too, goes away. The last infusions are very light and grassy, no peppers at all, and they have an airy mouthfeel.

Flavors: Apple, Dry Grass, Grapes, Green Pepper, Vegetables, Zucchini

205 °F / 96 °C 7 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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Thank you, Angel, for providing me samples!

Gongfu method with a ceramic gaiwan. 10 second rinse. Steeping times: 10, 5, 10, 5, 15, 20, 30, 60, 90, 120.

The dry leaf has an aroma of earth and old leather. The wet aroma evolves after the rinse and first couple infusions – sugarcane, leather, bread, pipe tobacco – and remains sweet and earthy thereafter.

Throughout the session, the liquor is full-bodied, sweet, and soft. Early and late infusions have rusty, brick-like color, whereas those in between are darker, resembling coffee. The first infusion has a thin texture and notes of leather and tart plums. Second introduces wood of trees that are neither young nor old. Aftertaste of black coffee, which is present in the third infusion and only partially in the evergreen-like fourth. The fifth infusion tastes like leather bound books. Up to this point, the texture has been thin. The sixth infusion is notably thicker. Creamy, sweet and sugary as well – the climax of the session. The intensity now decreases. The seventh and eighths infusions have a thinner texture and loam, wood, and chocolate notes. Lastly, the ninth and tenth infusions – combined – taste of burned wood, fried potatoes, BBQ ribs, and salt. with a smoky aftertaste. A thick texture returns.

The tartness early on was not to my taste, but I like how this shou evolved. Great finish. Interesting how the texture wasn’t consistent.

10 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

Only a year old, likely needs some more aging to get the wo dui out, and also the sour can mean the aging was interrupted and the tea dried out in the midst of it. I’d give it a shot of humidity and let it rest awhile in a good clay or stoneware container.


I figured it had to do with being so young. I don’t have either of those containers, just tins.

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Brewed Western-style. 15 second rinse. Steeping times: 30 sec, 45, 60, 120, 300.

The wet aroma smells sweetly of fresh leather, and then of creamy chocolate mousse as the leaf cools. The liquor is consistently full-bodied, thick, and sweet. The first infusion is very sugary, tasting of maple syrup. Underneath, mushrooms. A peppery finish. The second infusion – my favorite – has a wonderfully creamy texture. Sweet again, but with dark bitterness like hot cocoa. I shared this cup with my non-tea drinking dad, who liked it (seems he like shou in general).

The creaminess disappears in the third infusion, which has a distinctive leathery note. In the fourth infusion the mushrooms and pepper return, and there is also a musty note. I can’t say anything about the fifth infusion because I drank it after I ate, like, 15 handfuls of chocolate Lucky Charms. But at that point I think the leaf was overworked anyway.

This was from the shou sampler. Man, I wish I got some of this when I made my larger order a couple weeks back. I like it so much more than the 2011 blend.

Boiling 7 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

Yay someone else who likes shou western :)

I still need to try this one!


So far I’ve been drinking all of Mandala’s shou with Western. My gut says Special Dark is best that way but I’ll experiment with the others I have.

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Thank you for the samples, Angel!

Brewed gongfu method with a gaiwan. 10 second rinse. Steeping times: 5, 5, 5, 5, 10, 20, 30, 60, 90, 120.

The dry leaf smells like…fish. I tried to make out something else, but that’s all there was. Fortunately, my experience improves thereafter. The wet aroma is complex, changing as the temperature cools and the leaf is steeped more: cooked vegetables, maple syrup, brown sugar, cooked meat with honey BBQ sauce, pork in teriyaki sauce, and – near the end – chocolate.

Throughout the session, the liquor is full-bodied, smooth, thick-textured, and, as *Teavivre*’s website says, mellow and sweet. The first infusion is damp earth and leather. The second tastes more like wood, reminding me of a pine forest whose trees and ground are coated with moss. (Infusions three and four, similar). The liquor becomes more broth-like and smoother at the fifth and sixth infusions. Seven’s flavor is lighter, though still sweet, and now a bit chocolatey. The eight infusion has bitterness, but this disappears in the ninth, which resembles hot cocoa (very dark chocolate). Lastly, the 10th infusion tastes weaker and the leathery note returns.

A relaxing and thorough shou. It says, “Take it easy, bro.”

Boiling 10 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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I began drinking tea because its complexity fascinated me. I love learning about its history, its manufacturing processes, and its place in various cultures.

Japanese greens were my first love and gateway into the world.

My favorite teas are leafhopper oolongs, pu’erh (shou and sheng), and masala chai. My favorite herbal tisanes are spear/peppermint, lavender and chrysanthemum.

I’m currently exploring pu’erh, and any Chinese and Taiwanese teas in general. I’m not much into flavored teas, unlike when I first started. The only teas I truly dislike are fruity tisanes and the ones that have too much fruit. I do like hisbiscus, especially iced.

I like to write nature essays. I’m a birdwatcher as well as a tea enthusiast. The kiwi is one of my favorite birds. I also like Tolkien, Ancient Egypt, and exercising.

IMPORTANT NOTE, PLEASE READ: After two and a half years of having an account here, I will no longer will provide numerical ratings as an addition to the review because the American school system has skewed my thoughts on numbers out of a hundred and the colors throw me off. Curses! My words are more than sufficient. If I really like what I have, I will “recommend”, and if I don’t, “not recommended”.

Key for past ratings:

96-100 I adore absolutely everything about it. A permanent addition to my stash.

90-95 Superb quality and extremely enjoyable, but not something I’d necessarily like to have in my stash (might have to do with personal tastes, depending on what I say in the tasting note).

80-89 Delicious! Pleased with the overall quality.

70-79 Simply, I like it. There are qualities that I find good, but there also are things that aren’t, hence a lower rating that I would have otherwise like to put.

60-69 Overall “meh”. Not necessarily bad, but not necessarily good.

0-59 No.

If there is no rating: I don’t feel experienced enough to rate the tea, or said tea just goes beyond rating (in a positive way).


Westchester, NY

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