93 Tasting Notes


Great, very easy tea. Very forgiving. If you brew it lightly it will be subtle and refreshing; stronger brews can become nicely heavy without any bitterness or astringency. It reminds of some herbal teas, especially the earthy-grassy things in coca tea and mate.

A perfect everyday tea with character. I have to give a special mention to the color of the brew. I have never had a green tea that brews so vibrantly green, it’s really nice to look at.

Flavors: Grass, Herbs

Boiling 0 min, 45 sec 4 tsp 150 OZ / 4436 ML

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This tea has the nicest appearance of about any tea I have ever seen. It consists of slightly flattened, closed to barely-opened buds that are all covered in shiny golden hairs. The smell of the dried leaves is fresh and has that typically dianhong-ish aromatic sweetness that reminds of sugarcane or even caramel. That same sweetness is present in the smell of the wet leaves.

The cup is very nicely golden-colored, with a smooth and balanced taste. The aforementioned sweetness is somewhat less bold and prominent than in some other dianhongs I have had, giving a somewhat subtler feel to this tea. Alongside of the sweetness there is some fruitiness, and I also taste something damp-foresty or mushroomy in there (not sure if I like that). The finish is slightly peppery and mineral. The sip is very smooth and has almost no (and certainly no unpleasant) astringency.

Flavors: Caramel, Creamy, Forest Floor, Malt, Round, Sugarcane

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 2 g 50 OZ / 1478 ML

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I got a small 3g sample of this one with my order at Hotsoup, which I am currently preparing in my gaiwan. The people at Hotsoup ask for reviews of their samples, but apparently this one isn’t sold anymore, so I can’t review it on their site.

The leaves are tightly rolled, a little piece of stem sticking out of each one. They have a dark, blackish roast color.

Smell of the wet leaves: strong, very charming, buttery roasted oolong smell. Remarkably sweet. It reminds me of some dong ding I have drank before, but a lot sweeter.

First infusion: some thickness, a little sweetness. Leaves are still closed so I’m expecting more than this.

Second and following infusions: a deepening of soft, easy flavors. Buttery and remarkably mineral. A little too mineral for my taste, because it gives a watery feel to the tea. This tea is not complex but pleasant. I wouldn’t call this tea astringent, but it has that very mild pleasant drying effect in the mouth that I recognize from light tieguanyins.

Flavors: Butter, Mineral, Roasted

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 3 g 50 OZ / 1478 ML

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I have bought this on a nice discount in 2015. It is stored in the temperate climate of the Netherlands, which might be far from ideal, but should be interesting. I am very curious to see how this pu erh will evolve, and to see whether it will get better in time. I will try to log its development by updating this review.

First year (2015-2016, age 5-6 years): I already liked the taste of this sheng pu erh when I first tried it. It is like a pretty harsh green tea. It easily becomes bitter and astringent, but there is also a promising complexity. This tea is far from balanced. There is a strong smell that reminds of tobacco leaves, noticeable to the dry cake, and also in the cup.

During the first winter, it got pretty cold and moist in the place of storage. The cake even developed some visible mold, which (luckily) disappeared when the season was over. Presently, after one year of storage, I am pretty sure I can already taste some differences. The liquor seems to have gotten somewhat darker, and the tobaccoish smell somewhat weaker.

2019 (age 9 years): Lovely tea. Nice astringency and potent aftertaste. I think it has clearly been aging. It seems toh ave gotten darker, sweeter, with less bitterness.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Raisins, Tobacco


November 2017, age 7 years. Interesting how the very harsh, tobaccoish notes have diminished. The more up-front flavours are now more round and fruity, like grapes or raisins.still it has nice lingering astringency with stronger brews.

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I don’t like this tea so much. Because this is my first gyokuro, I’ll try not to be too judgmental. To start off positively: this tea yields a refreshing, clean and very green-tasting cup. Flavors present are mostly sweet and vegetal, like cooked spinach. I can imagine someone being very happy with this tea when it is the first ‘serious’ green tea they have tried. But then. I find nothing special to this tea. It isn’t complex, nor is it very aromatic. There is a very slight hint of nice umami present in the wet leaves after the first steeping, leaving you disappointed to notice hardly any in the tea itself. I have tasted senchas that were a lot better and more spectacular, at similar prices. What also annoys me a little is that there are many tiny leaf particles, making the tea a little hard to brew.

After all, this tea itself isn’t particularly bad. Still it it doesn’t feel all that ‘superior’ at all to me. It leaves me with an unpleasant feeling of being sold something that somehow can’t be the ‘real deal’, for a pretty real price though.

In summary: if this is really a superior gyokuro, I’ll stick with sencha in the future!

Flavors: Spinach, Sweet, Vegetal

145 °F / 62 °C 2 min, 15 sec 4 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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Drinking my second cake of this lovely tea now. Until now I have enjoyed every cup of this. This black tea really has its own personality, with a very distinct smell that I associate to dried fruits such as raisins or apricots. A strong smell for a black tea. It does not easily become bitter, and the cup is nicely full-bodied. This isn’t a ‘fancy’ tea really, it isn’t complex or very refined, but it’s just very enjoyable, every time. And the cake shape makes it a lot of fun!

Flavors: Apricot, Fruity, Malt

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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The dry leaves of this tea are long and black, with a reddish shine over them. They remind me of one Taiwanese Hong Yun I bought in Taipei.

According to the vendor’s website, this Jin Xuan was produced in China by a Taiwanese company. So in that way, I can understand the similarities with that Hong Yun tea from Taiwan.

Upon infusing, I notice more similarity between the Taiwanese Hong Yun and this Jin Xuan. The wet leaves have that same remarkable aroma of cinnamon. There is also a dry flowery note, like lavender or maybe roses. A very nice smell for a black tea.

The reddish hue of the leaves is also visible in the tea liquor. The body is nicely full and malty. There is bit of thickness in the mouthfeel. The spicy and flowery notes from the wet leaves however, are only very subtly present in the liquor. That unless you make this tea strong, using relatively much leaves. No problem to do so, since this tea won’t quickly become astringent or bitter.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Flowers, Malt

0 min, 45 sec 3 tsp 60 OZ / 1774 ML

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Very soft and creamy tea. The dry leaves have little smell. From the wet leaves the first I notice is a sweet, red-fruity smell, almost like smelling a cup of lemonade. Then more savory notes follow; beany, roasted smells. In the mouth there is a very sweet vegetal aspect and a creamy, soft feel. With a somewhat stronger cup, upon swallowing there is a soft astringency. Not biting but more like a pleasant stroke on the tongue. The sweetness lingers nicely in the nose.

Flavors: Creamy, Green Beans, Roast Nuts, Vegetal

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 30 sec 4 tsp 60 OZ / 1774 ML

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First time I had a Oriental Beauty-kind of oolong, so I cannot really compare. But I love this tea. Most Oriental Beauty is produced in Taiwan, but this one is made in China apparently following the same style. This tea invokes so many comparisons to different kinds of other teas I know. When I smell it at first there is some of the sweet floweriness that makes me think of Chinese tieguanyin. Then after sipping there comes a spicyness in the nose that lingers long after the swallow, giving the association to a Darjeeling. I think you can call it muscatel-like. The mouthfeel is lush and velvety. There is an astringency that I personally like, every sip leaving a pleasant little ‘bite’ on the tongue. The body is malty and pretty bready. I taste some honey as well. A lot going on, still very balanced. Beautiful tea.

I steeped this one gongfu-style in my Yixing pot, but I bet it will do well western-style, because it feels more like a black tea than like a classical Chinese oolong.

Flavors: Astringent, Bread, Creamy, Flowers, Honey, Malt, Muscatel, Sweet

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 4 g 60 OZ / 1774 ML

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