I intended to try this yesterday, but the day got away from me once the turkey was in the oven. So I decided I’d mix it up and start with oolongs today. I feel so adventurous!

I am guessing this is Da Hong Pao, despite the hood nomenclature. It walks like a duck. The leaves are beautiful and big, dark and chocolate brown. They smell roasty-toasty. Actually they kind of smell like toast, the kind one makes in a toaster.

Stepped in the gaiwan after rinse. The Zo is still at 190F (what gives) for short steeps starting at 15 sec.

The tea is medium-dark amber and smells mildly toasty. No sharpness. For whatever reason, I find myself thinking this would make an excellent iced tea. It has a rather singular note on the first steep. No surprising sugars or florals, just a straight up roasted but mild flavor.

The second steep gets a little more interesting. There’s something that smells a bit like camphor in it, though it is very faint. And some wood. It’s still smooth, though there’s a high note that tends toward some sharpness. It’s drying to the mouth. There’s a tad of smoke in the aftertaste.

I’m trying hard to get what the description means by malty here. I’m not getting that. The third steep is similar to the second, though I taste a note that’s sort of like coffee, too. This is one tea that definitely changes from steep to steep. It becomes more complex, too. I suppose this is a reason not to drink it iced, but the idea of having it iced still intrigues me.

The fourth steep is similar. I don’t know whether it’s because I still have a bit of a sniffle, but this seems like it can grab your throat the wrong way when you’re not paying attention.

It has more going on than the ATR that I found a bit boring, and has some odd things about it that don’t endear it to me as much as the Andao. Rating accordingly.

Flavors: Camphor, Coffee, Roasted, Smoke, Toast, Toasty, Wood

190 °F / 87 °C

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I got obsessed with tea in 2010 for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it. I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I write fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I drink tea without additives. If a tea needs milk or sugar to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’ll rate it high. The exception is chai, which I drink with milk/sugar or substitute. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs, but as my tastes developed they became less appealing — I still enjoy nicely done blends. I do not mix well with tulsi or yerba mate, and savory teas are more often a miss than a hit with me. I used to hate hibiscus, but I’ve turned that corner. Licorice, not so much.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. But I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas in relation to others of the same type, for example, Earl Greys against other Earl Greys. But if a tea rates very high with me, it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is

90-94 Excellent; first rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Very good; will likely buy more

70-79 Good; would enjoy again, might buy again

60-69 Okay; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but likely won’t buy again

Below 60 Meh, so-so, iffy, or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

I don’t swap. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I have way more tea than any one person needs and am not lacking for new things to try. Also, I have way too much going on already in daily life and the additional commitment to get packages to people adds to my already high stress level. (Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.)

That said, I enjoy reading folks’ notes, talking about what I drink, and getting to “know” people virtually here on Steepster so I can get ideas of other things I might want to try if I can ever again justify buying more tea. I also like keeping track of what I drink and what I thought about it.

My current process for tea note generation is described in my note on this tea: https://steepster.com/teas/mariage-freres/6990-the-des-impressionnistes


Bay Area, California



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