Dazzle Deer

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Recent Tasting Notes

82

My last sampler from that long ago 2017 sampler set order from Dazzle Deer. Sample still sealed. Tea wholesaled from Teavivre.

140ml miniature teapot | 5g | 185F | Rinse/30s/45s/65s/90s/120s/120s

The leaves had a strong, bitter melon note after the rinse, with a bit of herbaceousness (thyme?) The aroma of the liquor also smelled strongly of bitter melon, cooked cucumber, and something sweetly floral (honeysuckle?) The flavor of the first infusion tasted of sour plum, stonefruit, melon rind, cucumber, dandelions, and honey. There was a sharpness to the flavor, but it was not bitter despite the pungent aroma; it was actually quite smooth, and left a somewhat sticky sensation on the tongue after the sip. As the tea cooled, a very floral/peach flavor emerged. After the second steep, the aroma was strongly sweet, herbaceous, and floral. The stonefruit was more of a peach flavor than sour plum, and I tasted warm hay and pollen along with the dandelion/honeysuckle and thick sweet honey. Third steep the floral/pollen/honey notes became even stronger, as the fruitiness became more subtle. The melon didn’t re-emerge until the later steeps, along with with a pear note, as the tea retained a sweet florality. I pushed it through six steeps, and it was delicious and smooth all the way through.

Of all the Dazzle Deer samples I went through (aka Teavivre teas!), I enjoyed the Wild Lapsang Souchong (black), Golden Monkey (black), Yunnan Dian Hong Golden Tip (black), Wuyi Da Hong Pao (oolong), Dragonwell (green), Moonlight Beauty (white), and Bai Mu Dan (white) the most. I really didn’t care for the heavily roasted oolongs and both pu’erhs… While I just don’t seem to be warming up to pu’s despite my many efforts, I do seem to really enjoy aged white teas!

Flavors: Bitter Melon, Cucumber, Dandelion, Floral, Fruity, Herbaceous, Honey, Honeysuckle, Hot Hay, Melon, Peach, Pear, Plum, Stonefruit

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 5 g 5 OZ / 140 ML
derk

Aged whites are bumpin’! They make a good dead-of-winter brew because of the flavor profile, caffeine buzz and body warming effect.

Mastress Alita

I’m definitely interested in exploring aged whites more!

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82

Well, I have now determined that Dazzle Deer sources from Teavivre, so all these teas I’ve been sampling have come from there… if I had figured it out sooner I would’ve logged in the appropriate place, but I can’t be arsed to move them all now and only have this white tea and one other (the Bai Mudan) left so I’ll just finish off putting them here. If anyone else is like me and hates ordering 100g of things at once, at least this is a place where you can get some Teavivre teas in smaller quantity packaging (or at least, could pre-Covid… not sure when, or even if, they plan to reopen their virtual shop).

140ml (of 180ml capacity) miniature teapot | 5g | 185F | Rinse/70s/80s/90s/90s/100s/100s

The aroma smelled of soured stonefruits, apple cider, and hot hay. The steeped tea tasted of stonefruit (particularly a tart plum), mango, green apple, hay, with a subtle honeyed sweetness. There was a strong fruitiness, with a tart/tanginess that didn’t push into sour/puckering on the sip; the tea was very smooth. The tartness of the stonefruit notes mellowed a bit throughout the session, and a melon (green and cantaloupe) flavor started to emerge as well. Late steeps found the stonefruit softer and melon, cucumber, and hay more dominant.

I really enjoyed this one!

Flavors: Cantaloupe, Cucumber, Fruity, Green Apple, Green Melons, Honey, Hot Hay, Mango, Melon, Plum, Smooth, Stonefruit, Tart

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 5 g 5 OZ / 140 ML

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66

This is another of my long-ago 2017 Dazzle Deer order samplers (I only have two left now, the white teas!). Pu’erh is my least-enjoyed tea type, but a sampler is a sampler and I’m always willing to be surprised. If nothing else, I knew I’d have a tea that would have some staying power while I whittle away the hours at home today — I’m awaiting test results to find out if I’ve had relations with Miss ‘Rona and can’t return to work for the time being. My sister was not so lucky, and she stayed in my home for a work trip… exactly two weeks ago. So here we are…

But that stuff is depressing, so let’s talk about tea! Used the full 7g sample and filled my little pumpkin pot to 140ml with 205F water.

140ml (of 180ml capacity) miniature teapot | 7g | 205F | Rinse/10s/20s/30s/45s/60s/90s

So, as I mentioned, I don’t really like pu’erh, because it usually tastes like dirt or marshy swamp water to me. This one is strongly earthy, and I would place it under the “dirt” category in my (very broad) categories of pu, but that said… it tastes a lot better to me than most I’ve tried. The first steep in particular, had an aroma with a smokiness not unlike a Chinese black, making me think of BBQ, or, mixed with the strong earthiness, grilled mushrooms. The flavor was that earthy taste, but a touch of smokiness came out, and it was smoother, rather than feeling as “gritty/dirty” of a dirt flavor as I’m used to. In the mid-steeps, the smokiness mellowed out and more of that mineral/wet rock flavor I am used to getting from pu starting to come forward, but again, it didn’t push itself into an overbearing or unpleasant “marshiness.”

So, typical flavors for me, but a much easier ride. Not sure if that is just a quality of this particular pu’erh, the fact it is thirteen years old now, or just my mindset needing warm tea comfort at the moment, but I think I’ll keep steeping for a bit. Still not my preferred flavor profile and certainly not turning me into a pu convert yet, but I’m not whinging with every sip, which is an improvement.

Flavors: Earth, Mineral, Mushrooms, Smoke, Smooth, Umami, Vegetal, Wet Rocks

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 7 g 5 OZ / 140 ML
Mastress Alita

It’s negative! Womp womp!

White Antlers

Great news!!!!

tea-sipper

Ah, I’m glad you’re ok and hope your sister gets through it quick. My sister thinks she has it right now— she has symptoms, and her friend just tested positive. She was having Dad help her with things two days before her symptoms so I’m biting my nails right now for my parents.

Mastress Alita

It’s scary out there everywhere. I hope things turn out okay for them. So far my sister says she’s been going through the ringer, and I’m hoping it passes for her quickly as well.

ashmanra

So glad you were negative!

tea-sipper

It’s just a waiting game for so many people. This dang virus.

mrmopar

Glad you were negative!

Martin Bednář

So fast results! But yaay, it’s negative, which means, it’s positive news!

Mastress Alita

I was very thankful to get my result back so quickly, since waiting can be the worst part! I got it in about 22 hours and am already back to work. :-)

Martin Bednář

And here you wait and wait… I heard about people getting it after 10 days, or week…

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78

Monday off since I work this coming Saturday, and I felt in the mood to pull out the adorable tiny pumpkin and do gong fu. One Chinese black sampler from Dazzle Deer left, a sealed April 2017 harvest. Old, but it’ll do.

Dry leaf smells delightfully of orange rind and sweet potato. Filled my 180ml capacity pot just to 120ml to steep the 5g of leaf in the sampler.

120ml (of 180ml) mini pot | 5g | 205F | 3s/5s/10s/20s/30s/45s/60s

Wet leaf has an even stronger sweet potato/yam aroma, as well as something sharp and fruity… nectarine? First steep has a mellow smokiness, orange rind, a strong stonefruit presense at the back of my tongue, a bit of malt/molasses, and sweet potato. Much stronger smoky/malt/sweet potato notes on subsequent steeps, with the fruitiness becoming a little less pronounced, save an orange rind tang at the back of my throat in the aftertaste. In the fifth steep a lemon citrus flavor came forward in the sip. The citrus flavor became stronger in the final steeps, and the stonefruit notes that had emerged in that first steep never did reappear.

Overall, a very satisfying and enjoyable Chinese black, and a tea type I definitely will have to try out further in the future.

Flavors: Citrus, Fruity, Lemon, Malt, Molasses, Orange Zest, Smoke, Smooth, Stonefruit, Sweet Potatoes, Tart

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
Cameron B.

Is the tiny pumpkin a yixing pot?! Sounds adorable either way. And I’ve never heard of this Dazzle Deer…

Mastress Alita

It is not yixing… I admit I purposefully avoid yixing because I don’t have the space to have multiple teaware pieces to “season” to different tea types, so I need brewing vessels I can use for any type of tea. It’s a bronze-glaze ceramic, and so tiny and cute! I got it from Tangpin on Etsy, which had free shipping from China. It was a very good experience; the pieces arrived in the estimated time provided by Etsy, the shipping from China was FREE, and their prices were quite reasonable. They also included a free tea towel and tongs. I really love the little pumpkin and bronze cup I got to go with!

This is what the pot looks like: https://www.etsy.com/listing/771141862/tangpin-tea-ceramic-teapots-pumpkin-tea?ref=shop_home_active_61&pro=1&frs=1

Cameron B.

OMG it’s the cutest ever! I was thinking of yixing because I have seen some pumpkin-shaped ones, but this is even more pumpkin! So perfect for fall. ❤

Leafhopper

Yum! I love those sweet potato-flavoured Yunnan black teas!

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58

Had some time before a doctor appointment today, so decided to get the little 180ml pumpkin pot out again and go through another of the old 2017 Dazzle Deer samplers. This time I’m taking on my least-liked tea-type, pu’erh. Though I admittedly have had much more experience with shou than sheng, so I wonder if I can get a different experience than the “dirt and marsh water” that I usually taste…

Used the full 7g sample and filled the pot to 140ml (so it wasn’t quite to its capacity) with 205F (lowered to 195F, and then 185F) water.

140ml miniature teapot | 7g | 205F (Dropped to 195F, 185F) | Rinse/10s/15s/10s/10s/10s/10s

The wet leaf after the rinse smells like wet autumn leaves, raisin, bitter melon, and sour vegetables. The first infusion has a surprisingly sweet/floral aroma!? As well as honey, and raisin and autumn leaf. I definitely have never had these kind of scents in a pu’erh before… and… it tastes good to me?! What the frack, this has a lightly floral (lilac? lotus?) taste, a touch of that fruity honeyed raisin quality, and then a slightly more bitter vegetal (cabbage?) finish. On the second infusion the tea had suddenly grown uncomfortably bitter (the description for the tea says it has “no bitterness or astringency” so I can’t help but feel like I’m doing something wrong?), so instead of increasing the steep times for each infusion like Dazzle Deer’s site had recommended, I decided to try sticking at the 10s and also lowered the water temp slightly to 195F. That helped some, but it still was a little more bitter/astringent than I prefer… What happened to that lovely first steep?! Lowering the water temperature even further (185F) helped a little, but I still felt an almost medicinal bitterness left afterwards on my tongue. Only by my sixth steep had it mellowed, but by then I was tired of the tea and ready to wrap up the session…

I think this is closer in flavor to something I would like (while I never seem to have much luck with shou, unless it is in flavored blends), if it weren’t for the bitterness that overtook the tea after the first steep. And I don’t know if that bitterness is a sheng problem or a Sara problem. Will need to explore further.

Flavors: Astringent, Autumn Leaf Pile, Bitter, Bitter Melon, Floral, Honey, Raisins, Vegetal

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 7 g 5 OZ / 140 ML
derk

Sounds like a typical young Jinggu sheng to me. The bitterness and astringency isn’t a Sara problem. A lot of young sheng possess both qualities. Supposedly they mellow in age and with the right storage conditions. Oh, if only you weren’t on a tea-buying and acceptance ban.

Mastress Alita

Isn’t three years aged though?!

derk

How’s your dashboard looking in comparison to recent? There’s a glitch on mine where my dashboard is missing notes from between 20 and 3 hours ago.

derk

Aged? Newp, it’s still a baby.

Mastress Alita

I still have those notes open on another tab, but on this one (new tab) I’m seeing the same thing. If you look at the Steepster Migration page, Ilya said a database table had been moved and things should’ve only been affected for a few seconds. I’ll go report it…

Mastress Alita

Bah, and here I’ve been dutifully trying to drink all my oldest teas (2017) for space/storage reasons! Three years certainly seems like a long time to me, hahaha! :-P

White Antlers

Sorry to butt in re: Dashboard. Mine is quite dysfunctional.

derk

Hide yo sheng, hide yo strife. Really, just toss all your sheng and shou in the back of a closet. Don’t let their presence feel like a burden. And one day when you find them, maybe they’ll have transformed a bit.

Mastress Alita

So how long is long enough, then?

derk

38 years.

derk

Next year, it will be 39 years.

derk

I kid. There are lots of factors involved, so I’ve read from my position in this here armchair. Over a few years, I have noticed changes in my sheng collection, both the sample bags that have remained closed with no humidity or temperature additions, and the cakes and open sample bags that are stored in crocks with added humidity to keep it around 65-70%. The ambient temp in my room is usually between 60 and 70 degrees.

Then there is the sample of tasteless sheng stored in a compartment in my truck. I’m really curious about how a year of that storage will turn out.

Martin Bednář

Just give it a try new and then… I don’t think there is some clear “long enough” time line. I liked very fresh ones and I liked as well aged ones.

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65
drank Golden Tree by Dazzle Deer
979 tasting notes

I recently have acquired some new teaware, and today I finally had the time to pull out one of my new pieces, an absolutely adorable tiny little 200ml bronze-glaze pumpkin with a matching glazed cup. I’m still working on my old, past-the-best-by pure teas so I decided to brew this oolong sampler I had from Dazzle Deer… a May 2017 harvest that I still had in a sealed pouch. Oof. Used 110ml of 205F water for the 7g, brewed gong fu style.

110ml miniature teapot | 7g | 205F | Rinse/30s/35s/45s/55s/65s/80s/90s

This was a roasty oolong, with notes of wood, char, smoke, roasted nuts, and walnut; not my favorite flavor profile, but it didn’t have a level of roast that breached into that level of sooty uncomfortableness I can easily get from roasted or smoked teas. The flavor didn’t change much throughout the session, though as the leaves opened up more in later steeps, it did gain a very subtle floral quality and the tea smoothed out a bit more, becoming a bit more rounded and sweeter during the early portion of the sip, with the end sip and aftertaste retaining a stronger roasted/char quality. By the fifth steep the flavor was starting to wane, and I decided to stack my sixth and seventh steeps together to use up what was left in the thermos of water I had prepared.

Wasn’t particularly excited by the tea, but I loved the little teapot which was so easy to use for gong fu, did a good job of keeping sediment out of the pour, had a smooth pour and didn’t burn my fingers like I have trouble with using gaiwans, and the cup also felt very silky smooth in my hands and didn’t have uncomfortable heat from the hot tea. It felt really good to use the new teaware and I’m looking forward to using them in many more sessions!

Flavors: Char, Floral, Roasted, Roasted Nuts, Smoke, Walnut, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 7 g 4 OZ / 110 ML
Leafhopper

If I might ask, where did you get your mini teapot? I’m always on the hunt for glazed teaware under 120 ml, even though I have a few teapots already.

Mastress Alita

This one holds 200ml total, I just filled it only to 110ml. I got it from Tangpin on Etsy. They had free shippig from China and the packaging was impeccable (I got the mini pot and two tea cups).

Leafhopper

Interesting! I’ve never heard of that vendor; I’ll have to check them out to see if they have anything smaller. Enjoy your new teapot and cups!

ashmanra

The pot sounds adorable!

Mastress Alita

@ashmanra: It is! I’m really pleased with it!

@Leafhopper: I just checked through Tangpin’s teapots and while most seem to be in the 150-250ml range, there are some outlyers in the larger or smaller category. I have seen a few 120ml and 100ml so far, and even an EXTREMELY tiny (yet adorable!) 25-35ml pot that almost looks like a dollhouse kyusu to me (and now I kinda want it…)

This is their shop page, and you can look just under “Ceramic Teapots”: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Tangpin

I’m not sure if it’s the same for Canadians, but for my US Etsy account the shipping from China was free, it arrived in the estimated time that Etsy provided, and the packaging on the teaware in the boxes was really impeccable; it would’ve been extremely hard for that stuff to break! And at least with my order they gave me free leaf tongs and a shop-branded tea towel, which I felt was a nice touch (and I did use them!)

Leafhopper

Thanks for the link to their shop. Their prices are quite reasonable. And yes, I kind of want that dollhouse-sized kyusu now, too!

derk

I like your teapot, Mastress Alita.

Martin Bednář

I guess I will need to place an order over there :D

Mastress Alita

@derk: Thanks! I am enjoying using it.
@Martin: I know that if I get a hankering for more teaware (and there is always another hankering!) I will probably be a repeat customer because I had a really good experience there.

teevogel

And another thanks for the link!They have a really cute teapot(and matching cups) with kittens painted on it/them^^

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86

I finally sipped down my last Chinese black that I was using as my morning daily drinker (Adagio’s Yunnan Noir) so it was time to move another bag over to the Sipdown Corner™. Lately I’ve been trying to target my very old pure teas (Dazzle Deer, What-cha, Rishi) so I grabbed this 50g bag from Dazzle Deer to be my next daily drinker. I have had Golden Monkey in the past (from Teavivre, not sure if this one comes from the same source or not) and really enjoyed it, so I’m looking forward to the next month or so it’ll take me to work through this bag.

I’m drinking out of a work thermos and don’t want to open it up to stick my nose into the brew, but the tea is warm and satisfying, with lots of flavor notes even brewed up Western style for thermos treatment before work. I’m getting malt, baked bread, orange, orange zest, a hint of smokiness that on the malty/tangy orange base is making me think of a sweet BBQ sauce, sweet potato, and a subtle hint of floral rose toward the end of the sip. A slight cocoa flavor is left lingering on my tongue between sips. Despite being three years old and the best-by date having already passed, this is still quite flavorful, smooth, and delicious.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Cocoa, Floral, Fruity, Malt, Orange, Orange Zest, Rose, Smoke, Smooth, Sweet Potatoes, Umami

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

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63

Another of my “one and done” style Dazzle Deer samplers. I’m “winging” the preparation style a bit on this one, using the directions from a tea I think may be the same (or very similar) that I also haven’t tried yet that is about as old as this one from What-cha, their China Fujian Zhangping Light Roasted Shui Xian “Fruit” Cake. So I basically dropped the full oolong cake in two cups 205F water, steeped for 3 minutes, and strained into a small teapot.

The leaf expansion was huge! I immediately started to worry this might be a bit astringent just because so much leaf was in the water after the cake had fully expanded. The spent leaves had a highly perfumy, floral aroma. The steeped tea is a pretty autumn leaf light orange color, and smells of lilacs, orchids, honey, cream, and very sweet. The flavor is highly floral and a bit thick and syrupy on the tongue. This was described as lightly roasted, and while it doesn’t come out at all in the aroma, I do taste it. It’s a mild roasted note, slightly char-like, with a bit of a honey-roasted nuts flavor. And it is a touch astringent, with a slight bitter/drying effect left after the sip. I’m not sure if I care for the blend of the roasted nuts flavor with the highly floral flavor, but it is a fine enough oolong. Not my favorite, but I’ll enjoy this pot, and I’ll have no problem drinking the other cake of this I have from What-cha, either.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Char, Cream, Drying, Floral, Honey, Honeysuckle, Orchid, Perfume, Roasted, Roasted Nuts, Sweet

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 9 g 17 OZ / 500 ML

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78

The Great Un-Steepstering of 2020 Review #9 (08/23/20)

The site is (mostly) working again, but I’m not quite caught up with posting my backlog (at the time of this writing); I’m only posting one a day as to not overwhelm both readers and the (still somewhat slow) site, so until I catch up to “real time” my reviews will be back-dated (though the gap is getting closer!)

My friend Todd (https://steepster.com/ashi here on Steepster) is currently in evacuation due to the California fires. On Sundays we normally “watch TV” together (I live in Idaho and he in California; we “stream” at the same time and use a chat program to interact in real time!) and decided to keep our “Sunday TV date” since he could stream from his hotel (good to keep the mind on other things and keep to routine, right?) but before the stream, we decided to try out having a tea time together on Zoom! He doesn’t have any “tea stuff” right now due to the evacuation, but picked up some bottled houjicha from a convenience store and had a lavender cocoa from Peet’s he’d picked up from earlier in the day when he went to visit the family that is currently babysitting their coop of chickens. I decided to make this tea.

Since I followed my last Dazzle Deer oolong sampler to the T with their directions and it was a bit astringent, this time I used the website that I tend to always use when it comes to “water-to-leaf” ratios (something I have a hard time judging myself), OCTea (https://octea.ndim.space/#/) and… hey! I had no astringency this time! I did have to use a slightly larger steeping vessel to accomodate, but s’all good.

250ml teapot | 7g | 205F | Rinse/10s/20s/40s/60s/90s

I didn’t really notice much variation from steep to steep regarding flavor, so this is actually the kind of oolong that would probably do me very well as a Western or cold brew. I got a very smooth, roasted flavor, but not “charred” or “smoky” (there was perhaps a very subtle hint of a “burnt toast” note to the aftertaste, but it was mellow, more like an afterthought, and hit that spot of “pleasantness” that is hard for smoky flavors to hit for myself). It had a very toasty nutty flavor, like deeply roasted walnuts, with other notes of wood, oats, sweet honey, plantains/sweet potato, and subtle minerals. It was a smooth and pleasant cup throughout the five steeps I took the tea.

This is a type of oolong I can definitely see myself interested in exploring further.

Flavors: Honey, Mineral, Nutty, Oats, Roasted, Roasted Nuts, Sweet Potatoes, Toast, Walnut, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 7 g 8 OZ / 250 ML
gmathis

Being displaced stinks. Been there. I’m glad you could be there for something familiar and comfortable! (“Familiar” and “comfortable” are in short supply if you’ve been booted from home!)

White Antlers

That is so touching that you are providing your friend something stable and familiar during a horrible time.

Roswell Strange

I hope Todd is able to get back to a normal state of living soon. Virtual tea time does sound quite nice, though :)

mrmopar

I think he said he would be back home Friday. Lets pray he does.

Mastress Alita

Right now he has his current hotel booked through until next Monday, and waiting until the evacuation order gets lifted. At the moment, water and power have been cut in the area, and even if the evacuation orders are lifted, they want to make sure all utilities are up and running before they return. :-)

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58

The Great Un-Steepstering of 2020 Review #7 (08/16/20)

Digging into more of my pure origin teas from 2017 (I’m sorry I neglected you, poor teas!) I realize that any lack of quality at this point, well after the best-by dates, is only a reflection of my bad habits and not the tea.

I don’t think I’ve ever tried a baked/smoked oolong…? I can’t stand fire-smoked teas like lapsang souchong, as the strong, smoky “aroma” is a major migraine trigger for me. I’m not a huge fan of smoky flavors, either, if they taste too strong/ashy/charlike (a bit of mild BBQ-esque smokiness I am fine with, and really like in Chinese blacks). This came in a sample packet with a lot of different teas, and probably wouldn’t be the kind of thing I’d select for myself based on those tastes, but on the other hand, I was wildly curious so of all the Dazzle Deer samples I have to go through from that pack, I chose this one. It’s a fall 2016 harvest, best before 12/31/2018 (I’m such a bad tea mother!!!)

The samples were packaged in the gram amounts the site suggested for gong fu, so it was a good excuse to get my lazy butt to actually brew gong fu on a Sunday afternoon where I had the time to do so. I used the instructions from Dazzle Deer’s website, albeit slightly cooler water (honestly, at the high altitude here in Idaho, I haven’t really found much difference between using 205F and 212F so I tend to brew most things that ask for “boiling” water at 205F, which is faster on my kettle).

100ml shiboridashi | 7g | 205F | Rinse/20s/25s/30s/40s/50s/60s

On the first infusion, it smells of roasted nuts, smoke, slightly vegetal, and a sweetness on the floral side, perhaps honeysuckle? There certainly isn’t the sort of “smoky” aroma from a lapsang that makes my head think a forest fire is in full swing, so I don’t think I have to worry about a migraine trigger here. The flavor on the sip, however, is a bit more “char”-like than I tend to prefer… but it isn’t as bad as I always imagined in my head, either. It tastes like burnt toast, and I’m probably the only person I know that will willing eat burnt toast (and several other burnt foods… I actually like hotdogs and marshmallows better that way, heh). My main issue is that burnt flavor is a bit overpowering and lingers on my tongue, and has a bit of a bitter/astringent quality to it. The tea seems to have some woody/nutty notes, but I’m having trouble tasting them under the heavy burnt toast quality.

The second steep has mellowed the tea out nicely, however… into something I can actually enjoy somewhat. I can actually taste the wood, and a roasted nuts (particularly walnut) flavor that is quite pleasant. There is still a somewhat unpleasant astringent aftertaste (maybe this was just a touch more leaf than I typically personally prefer for 100ml gong fu style? I usually use the ratios on OCTea which seems to fit me perfectly, but due to the size of the packet, went strictly with the vendor-provided instructions this time). Hoping the bitterness will mellow out a bit, too. There is a cooked vegetables sort of flavor as well, though I wouldn’t be able to pinpoint specific vegetable notes (maybe roasted mushrooms?). It still tastes a bit too ashy to tell if there is any sweetness/florality present.

Subsequent steeps did mellow out further, and the astringency following the sip went away. I continued to taste wood, roasted walnuts, and charcoal as the main flavors, with a subtle cooked vegetable note in the background. In the later steeps, I was finally able to coax some of the florality I’d been smelling from the tea out in the flavor, as a subtle honeysuckle note, once the charcoal quality were really starting to fade.

After trying it, this definitely isn’t the sort of tea I’d choose for myself, but I didn’t find it so unpalatable that I couldn’t drink it if offered, and at least find myself curious enough to sample if the opportunity arises to see if there happens to be one out there that falls into the “right” level of smoky vs. charcoal/ashy territory that appeases me. I’m definitely glad for the chance to try this, even if it isn’t quite to my tastes.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Burnt, Char, Floral, Honeysuckle, Mushrooms, Nutty, Roasted Nuts, Toast, Vegetables, Walnut, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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60
drank Bi Luo Chun by Dazzle Deer
979 tasting notes

Sampler Sipdown September! Felt in a green tea mood, and I won’t have time to gong fu until the weekend, so I’m just going to western brew this Dazzle Deer sampler of Bi Luo Chun in a big ol’ mug because I want some Bi Luo Chun now.

I’m still getting that beany flavor I get from Bi Luo Chuns, though this one is a bit lighter than some of the other ones I’ve tried, having a bit more of a grassier clean green taste in the background. I’m also not getting any spice notes like I’ve found in other Bi Luo Chuns, and without that anise/pepper flavor, the somewhat meaty taste my palate sometimes reads from that beany/spice flavor as bacon is instead reading more like seafood, shrimp or scallop. It’s lightly vegetal, with a slight sweet pea flavor toward the end of the sip. This is probably one of the least impressive Bi Luo Chun of the ones I’ve tried. It’s also from a different harvest year, as I believe the other two I tried were 2018, and this one was a 2017, so maybe the lack of spice notes has to do with either age or harvest date. I definitely preferred the ones with the hints of anise or pepper, though. This was still a relaxing green tea and a nice accompaniment to my vegetable soup for dinner, just lackluster in comparison with similar teas I’ve had fairly recently.

Flavors: Beany, Green Beans, Meat, Peas, Sweet, Warm Grass, Vegetal

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 g 14 OZ / 400 ML

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85

Summer Vacation! It’s late, and I seem to be having good luck drinking greens in the evening, so my Chinese tea today is another of my stashed Dazzle Deer samplers from last winter. This is another Chinese green I’ve never tried, a Dragonwell green.

The dry leaf just smelled very grassy, but the light yellow infusion is surprisingly sweet, floral, and even a little fruity in aroma. I did let this one steep just a little longer than I left my Bi Luo Chun last time (two minutes) but it is very smooth and doesn’t have any of that vegetal astringent bite at the end of the sip, so I think I’m in the clear. It’s quite nice. It’s a very naturally sweet green tea, that is a bit buttery, very smooth, and starts off with a sweet floral note that quickly settles into a vegetal flavor that tastes like warm grass mixed with a peapod/edamame/greenbean note. I really like the somewhat thicker, buttery mouthfeel of this green, while still having a sweeter flavor profile. I think I found the Bi Luo Chun I sampled a more relaxing sipper, and while I’ve enjoyed both teas, I think I enjoy this one just a bit more. With its more savory flavor, I may prefer this one more right after meals, though, than just before bed.

Flavors: Butter, Floral, Green Beans, Peas, Smooth, Sweet, Warm Grass, Vegetal

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

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99

Summer Vacation! I’ve been meaning to try this one for some time and had yet to get around to it. My first experience with a Lapsang Souchong was awful and I never drunk the stuff (even in a blend) ever again — the experience was like trying to drink a cup of black tea while sitting next to a campfire while a strong Idaho wind was blowing the smoke right into your face the entire time. Since smoke is a very strong migraine trigger for me, the aroma alone was enough to actually give me a migraine from drinking just one cup. It was very unpleasant. But when I saw this included in a sampler package I got during a Veteran’s Day deal from Dazzledeer last November, then read the description, I was intrigued. Lapsang Souchong that isn’t smoked? Such a thing exists? I really wanted to try it. Since my head problems were linked entirely to the smoke-aroma and taste, it seemed a viable way to get to enjoy the tea. Not to mention I was curious to get to actually taste the tea without the overwhelming smokiness getting in the way.

Opening the 5g sampler packet, all I could smell was dark, bittersweet chocolate. Oooooooh, now that is already a good sign! Yes, definitely excited to brew this to drink with my breakfast while watching the episode of Ducktales I have waiting on my Amazon account this morning. Aah, Sunday mornings are the best. I prepared half the sampler (2.5g) in 350ml of water @ 200 F, steeped for 3 min. western style.

Brewed up, the cup still smells very sweet. It has a malty aroma, and is a little savory, like sweet and sour mandarin sauce, but I can also make out honey, cinnamon, and dark chocolate. It has such a pleasing scent it took me a bit to even take the cup from my nose to take a sip. The tea liquor has a stronger maltiness than the last few blacks I’ve sipped on, with a deep, sweet fruitiness to it. It actually reminds me of chocolate-covered oranges. Towards the tip of the tongue I get that sweet honeyed taste that I find so pleasant from many Chinese blacks, and late in the sip I get a deep cocoa note with a slight peppery spice that lingers on the tongue. The whole cup is extremely smooth, lacking astringency.

This is a fantastic cup of tea. Easily one of the best black teas I’ve ever tasted, and one that is going onto my, “I need this back in my cupboard!” list, since this 5g sampler will be gone by the end of the day. I’m a little sad to see Dazzledeer is currently sold out, but then, I’m not surprised, either; tea tastes good, yo, who wouldn’t want to buy it? And better yet, I’ve finally found a way to enjoy stinky lapsang souchong.

Flavors: Cocoa, Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Fruity, Honey, Malt, Orange, Smooth, Spices

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 12 OZ / 350 ML
Bluegreen

Unsmoked Lapsangs (aka Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong) are one of the best Chinese blacks in my opinion. Especially the wild ones. If you liked this offering from Dazzle Deer and can’t find it anymore you may want to check Yunnan Sourcing, Teavivre or Verdant: they offer quite a few.

Mastress Alita

I’ll admit one of the advantages I get from Dazzledeer (besides supporting a small vendor) is that it ships within the US, but it looks like taking a second look at Verdant they ship from within the US as well, so I may take that option to tide me over. Thanks! (Unless I am placing a massive tea order, and I just have no need to be making any massive tea orders at this point in time, I tend to avoid international shipping). I would have to agree with you, this is probably not only one of the best Chinese blacks I’ve had, but just one of the best black teas in general I think I’ve ever tasted. I’m pretty smitten in tea love at the moment.

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87
drank Bi Luo Chun by Dazzle Deer
318 tasting notes

Small, furry, twisted green and silver leaves. Dry aroma is nutty and vegetal. Brews a very light yellow-green. The taste is very mild without being weak. Strong chestnut note, edamame, sugarcane, and a pineapple fruityness. Great lingering flavor and aroma in the mouth. A nice tea!

Flavors: Chestnut, Green Beans, Pineapple, Sugarcane

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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87

This is a fairly nice Bai Mudan. Mellow and sweet with a slight vegetal note and a light menthol-like cooling effect. It is good, but I’ve been spoiled by the awesome Bai Mudans from Wuyi Origin and Yunnan Sourcing. This one just isn’t quite as flavorful.

*Edit: Rating increased as it gave me a REALLY good tea high, wow….

Flavors: Green, Menthol

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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98

Four, count them, four samples down and reviewed in one day, which is very unusual for me.

This tea has fairly small leaves for a Dragowell. Nice, yellow-green coloration. Brews almost clear and I wonder if I should have steeped it longer, but the taste reveals that that is not the case. Very smooth and buttery, slightly vegetal (edamame and a bit of asparagus), and just a hint of floral. A second or so after you sip you get hit with a nice round sweetness that I can’t quite pin down. The aroma lingers in the mouth a lot like a good sheng. Very clean tea with a lubricating mouthfeel.

I would say that this is the best tea I’ve sampled from Dazzle Deer, and probably the best Dragonwell I’ve had. The only think I can knock it for is that the tea soup gets bitter quickly if allowed to cool. Unfortunately it’s out of stock…

Flavors: Butter, Soybean, Sugarcane, Sweet, Vegetal

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 OZ / 120 ML

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96
drank Golden Tree by Dazzle Deer
318 tasting notes

Third sample of the day; I’m trying to empty my sample bin to make room for incoming Black Friday orders.

This is the Dazzle Deer sample that I was most excited about; I like my oolongs roasted and the degree of roasting appears similar to my beloved Mountain Tea Amber Oolong.

Looks like a nice medium-heavy roast. Brews a medium-light orange. I used water at the recommended 212F temperature and the tea handles is just fine. The taste is indeed quite similar to the Amber Oolong! Strong rock sugar sweetness, dried fruit, barley, resiny cannabis-like quality, baking spices, and a slightly tart pineapple finish. Warm, mellow, roasty aroma. I don’t get any floral notes, which is surprising for being an Anxi TGY-related varietal.

I like this tea a lot, and will have to get some more so that I can do a side-by-side tasting with the Amber Oolong.

Flavors: Cannabis, Dried Fruit, Mineral, Pineapple, Resin, Roasted Barley, Spices

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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92

Loose leaf shou: the very thought strikes fear into my tastebuds. My first puerh was a loose leaf shou and it very nearly completely turned me away from puerh and I’ve had a bias towards cakes ever since. This one proves my bias unfounded as it is very tasty and clean.

Fairly small leaf material, but not a lot of buds. Smell its typical shou. Brews a dark brown-burgundy. Tastes of clay, nuts, and earth with a molasses sweetness. Nice, velvety feeling in the mouth. Lasted plenty of infusions and even the longest ones turned out tasty. Very clean shou; absolutely no fishy flavors or funk. Nice overall, not the most unique or complex but very easy drinking.

Flavors: Clay, Earth, Mineral, Molasses, Nuts

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
mrmopar

I remember those days. As well as the tea leaf as big as your hand.

tperez

Would you believe that that’s been five years ago? Thanks for being a great tea buddy!

mrmopar

Yep we have been in this thing for a while now! A buddy not necessarily so, an enabler, yes!

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94

Very small leaves for a Yunnan black, covered in golden fur. Almost looks like a Jin Jun Mei or other tippy Fujian black. Tastes of sweet potato and wood with a marshmallow-y sweetness and thickness, almost buttery. Sweet potato casserole tea? This would have been a perfect tea to share on Thanksgiving! This is smooth and mild tea, but can get a little sour if overbrewed.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I completely overdid it on the tea orders over Black Friday Weekend… I ordered from:

-Teavivre: Hong Song Zhen black(haven’t tried before) and Tanyang Gongfu black(super yummy), four little ru yao cups, and some samples. Everything I bought was 20% off, I had a ten dollar off coupon from the “lucky draw” and ten dollars worth of rewards points. Got over $50 worth for under $20 including free shipping.

-Mountain Tea Co.: 10.5 oz of their Amber oolong at 10% off. Most of their teas are decent but the Amber oolong is a killer roasted oolong for the price. Stocked up as a daily drinker. $40 dollars shipped, but it will last me a long time.

-Yunnan Sourcing: This is where I went overboard. I had told myself no more YS orders this year. However, I ended up ordering two aged sheng cakes that I had sampled and liked, three (cheapish) ripe cakes, three blacks at 100g each, three tian jian hei cha 50g each, and eleven 25g puerh samples (mostly 2016 autumn and 2017 spring sheng). Over two kilos of tea!

Flavors: Dried Fruit, Marshmallow, Nutty, Oak, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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94

I’m not the biggest fan of floral oolongs, but this one is quite nice! Comes in a nice 8g “pillow” cake shape, leaves are a mix of green and brown. Brews a dark gold color. Very strong floral aroma. Flavor is honey, flowers, and raw green bean. Lasts a good number of infusions.

Flavors: Floral, Green Beans, Honey

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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90

Small wiry black leaves with a strong chocolaty aroma. Brews a light orange. The chocolaty taste doesn’t carry over into the taste, it’s more molasses, persimmon, and sweet potato with hints of cinnamon and licorice. Nice tangyness.

It seems there is a lot of variation in Lapsang Souchong teas, and I’m enjoying all of them!

Flavors: Fruity, Licorice, Medicinal, Molasses, Sweet Potatoes, Tangy

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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84

Big burly leaves with a typical “sheng-y” smell. Brews a golden yellow. Low-moderate bitterness and astringency. Tastes of minerals, citrus, melon, and green wood. Nothing mind blowing, but a pretty good and reasonably priced young sheng!

Flavors: Citrus, Green Wood, Melon, Mineral

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 90 ML

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