drank Shu Enso Maiden by Samovar
1994 tasting notes

At first, I thought that this was going to be a transformational pu erh experience. But it fell somewhat short.

The cake smelled a tad fishy and a lot leathery, and broke apart quite easily. I put a fair amount of leaf in the gaiwan given that I think I’ve been underleafing pu erhs to an extent.

Boiling. Rinse. Steeped at 10/10/20/30/40/60/120/240/300/360

The aroma of this is fantastic. It smells like molasses and brown sugar, without any fishiness at all, and it has that malty quality that I get from a lot of Samovar black teas that contain Yunnan. It steeped very dark and opaque until the last couple of steeps when it became a bit lighter and more the color of bourbon.

But. The promise of that aroma didn’t come through in the flavor. I kept waiting for the sweetness, the sugary note, but I never got it. It was more woodsy, and a little like coffee as the steeps progressed. And it was smooth, and had nothing ordinary or objectionable about it — I just wished it followed through on how it had smelled.

I have high expectations for Samovar teas in general, which may be why I felt a little disappointed. It’s very good, but I was hoping it would be out of this world.

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Coffee, Fishy, Leather, Malt, Molasses, Wood


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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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