987 Tasting Notes

Backlog from a few days ago:

Two months ago I visited my sister for my birthday, and she made a pot of nettle tea. It was delicious! Incredibly green and juicy, like I had just had a tonic of vitality or something. She offered to give me some of the teabags in her cupboard, but I declined because I figured I could find some myself.

Big mistake going with this brand. I bought it from a health food store about a month ago and it’s horribly dry and dusty. There’s none of that lovely “you feel like this drink is healing your parched throat after a month in the desert” vitality of it.

I’ll try resteeping it with different amounts of water at different times, but this is a pale shade of the stuff my sister’s got.


I found a good loose leaf nettle tea at Starsky. It’s called Koro- Nettle Seed tea. It’s pretty good and cheap too.


I’ll send you a sample of it if you like.

Christina / BooksandTea

I think that might be the same one she has. There’s a Starsky’s in Hamilton.

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Having this at work, more lazy western steeping. This is a little smoky, a little sour, and I can definitely taste more of that mushroom note. Glad I had a chance to try this; this is a decent young sheng with a flavour profile that’s different, but not too different. I’ll see if I can steep this 3-4 times today.

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Felt like having some shou this evening and this was the one that won the “rummage around in the tea cabinet” lottery.

I mostly drink sheng so I figure I should expand my horizons a bit. This was a good one to choose, though, since the flavour was quite mild. Generally earthy, but nothing too offensive about it. Also, it tasted pretty consistent from steep to steep.

Glad I got a chance to try this. I still have enough for 1 serving, I think. This is a good “starter” for newbies like me.

Thanks for sending me some, Ubacat!

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Many thanks to Ubacat for sending me a sample of this!

The instructions on the packet said to put 8g of dried leaf in my gaiwan – which is quite a bit! I measured out how much was in the sample Uba sent me and it was 9.8g, so I didn’t see the point of using 8g and having less than 2g left over and just lingering.

So instead I just split my whole sample in half and did 1 gaiwan’s worth with 4.9g instead. Much more reasonable.

It turned out to be a smart call anyway, since the leaf expanded by a LOT. The first steep was mild, but the second and third steeps were intense: a rich, clear yellow with notes of jasmine, and other flowers. Oddly enough, I also got a sort of “sharp” note underneath that reminded me of mint.

However, I’m not a huge fan of the base. It had that “curly” flavour that I find occurs in lightly-roasted oolongs that I dislike. (“Curly” is the best way I can describe it – it’s a sensation on my tongue that reminds me of the sharpness of uncooked cabbage or kale.)

The later steeps were also mild, but I think that can be attributed to the water cooling down over time. I still have 1 good serving size of this left.

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First note for this tea!

I did some gong-fu steeping for this last night: 6g, 130mL gaiwan, 90C water, 5-second rinse.

The flavour and smell were pretty typical for a young sheng – tart, fruity, a bit smoky. I noticed that this had some bitterness in the first few steeps, but it was a sharp, thin bitterness, rather than the kind of juicy bitterness with a fruity aftertaste that I noticed in the Gu Shu from a few days ago. I prefer the Gu Shu kind of bitterness a lot more.


Uhhh from what I understand this is gushu. Site says 120-200yr old trees.


Gottcha. I’m not sure why Scott labels some of his cakes Gushu and others not, my understanding was that anything over 100 years could be considered gushu, but my understanding may be flawed…


Scott mentioned in one of his Q&A videos that gu shu is typically defined as any tea tree older than 100 years. In Chinese, the term ‘gu shu’ is often used interchangeably with ‘lao shu’ and ‘bai nian shu’ (100 year-old tree) and generally also refers to any tree older than 100 years. So, according to pu’er tea industry standards, what we have here is ‘gu shu’ material.

Also, not all gu shu cha is bitter—the Qing Mei Shan and Huang Shan from Scott’s 2015 line are great examples, and happen to be my favorite so far.

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I brewed this gong-fu style with about 5g of leaf and 100C water. The resulting tea was fruity, malty, and dark, with hints of bread, camphor, and burnt sugar.

This was good, but the flavour dropped off quickly after the first few steeps. However, this tea has to contain some of the biggest tea leaves I’ve ever seen! I mean, look at this sucker!


I wax rhapsodic a bit more in my full review here: http://booksandtea.ca/2015/11/bang-dong-hong-black-tea-from-white2tea/

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Finished this off last night while working on some homework due today in my feature writing class. It was less umami than in previous infusions.

On a related note, I no longer have any genmaicha in the house. What are your favourites? I bought this from Yunomi, and although they have great stuff I don’t know if I want to make an order just for this. Any recommendations? I think my favourite genmaicha so far is Sloane’s Grand Genmaicha because it’s got a very brothy taste to it.


Cheap stuff from T&T. :) But I don’t generally drink genmaicha. I think the last time I had it regularly was when I was in Japan.


This brand, the Tokuyo Genmaicha, is what I’ve purchased in the past.


I am on again and off again with genmaicha. I’ve gotten some from Tealux (Tealyra) in small quantities and have been happy with their selection.

Christina / BooksandTea

I’ve tried the Tokuyo stuff (Uba, I think you sent me a bunch) and I remember thinking it was kind of “meh”.


Was that one Tealux? It might have been one I got from a Japanese supermarket.


Ah, it was Gyokuro Genmaicha from Tealux. I can’t remember what it was like. It’s been awhile since I had it.


I always tend to like matcha genmaicha’s better than plain genmaicha, only because it enhances the brothiness. I want my genmaicha to feel as thick as it smells, and that helps.


I have a wonderful 15 to 30 teabags of genmaicha from Japan that I’m making myself drink. What’s the best steep time and temp for this kind of tea? I’m only sometimes successful

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Backlog from last night.

I had 2 steeps of this western-style: 5 g leaf, 8 oz of 90C water, 25-35 second steeps. The smell of the leaf when I rinsed it was suuuper funky and fermented – I swear to god it smelled like yogurt.

The taste of this tea was quite mild, though. Very smooth, with a sort of creamy, thick mouthfeel, but otherwise not very obtrusive. I’ll have to see how this tastes when I brew it gong-fu.

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First note for this tea!

Ubacat sent me some of this. I used about 5g in my brand new celadon gaiwan from Yunnan Sourcing (more on this below).

I did about a half dozen steeps and the tea was mild, but somewhat juicy and bitter. Notes of grass and apricots. However, during my final steep, I dropped the lid of the teapot I was using to pour the water into the gaiwan, and the gaiwan got chipped on the edge.

This is only the second time I’ve used the gaiwan! I’m sad. It was pretty. Will it still work, or will the chipped edge make the whole thing fragile?


Oh no! That is frustrating when that happens. I think it would be okay as long as you don’t pour from the chipped edge.


so sorry! it is still functional.

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Thanks to Ubacat for giving me just enough of this tea for one session. I used this tea to baptize my new celadon gaiwan and mesh strainer from Yunnan Sourcing, and it was great! The dry leaf smelled a little musty, but when I drank the tea over several steeps, I tasted fresh grapes, lychee, and a hint of rose. Quite nice! Floral, fruity, somewhat dusty and soft.

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Updated March 2016:

I’m a writer and editor who’s fallen in love with loose-leaf tea. I’ve also set up a site for tea reviews at http://www.booksandtea.ca – an excellent excuse to keep on buying and trying new blends. There will always be more to discover!

In the meantime, since joining Steepster in January 2014, I’ve gotten a pretty good handle on my likes and dislikes

Likes: Raw/Sheng pu’erh, sobacha, fruit flavours, masala chais, jasmine, mint, citrus, ginger, Ceylons, Chinese blacks, rooibos.

Dislikes (or at least generally disinclined towards): Hibiscus, rosehip, chamomile, licorice, lavender, really vegetal green teas, shu/ripe pu’erh.

Things I generally decide on a case-by-case basis: Oolong, white teas.

Still need to do my research on: matcha

I rarely score teas anymore, but if I do, here’s the system I follow:

100-85: A winner!
84-70: Pretty good. This is a nice, everyday kind of tea.
69-60: Decent, but not up to snuff.
59-50: Not great. Better treated as an experiment.
49-0: I didn’t like this, and I’m going to avoid it in the future. Blech.


Toronto, ON, Canada



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