980 Tasting Notes


“It’s really good, I think I really like it, let’s get back to the show! Fruity, floral, very satisfying, thirst-quenching, berrylike, thank you very much whoever sent it. hahahaha! OK? hahahaha! It’s an 8!”

we’re watching the newest episode of Big Sky


This is like Simpson & Vail’s Carrot Cake Cupcake blend but with jammy blueberry. It has the same powdered sugar-cream cheese frosting vibe to me, like churros with frosting. Very mellow, sweet cinnamon or something. I think I taste a kind of crumble note, that oaty-pastry flavor. It’s pretty good and as Kiki says, thirst-quenching. I think the berry-currant tartness and green rooibos base play that role.


The verbatim Kiki quotes never get old. :D

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Kiki in da house:

“Is it chocolate? It tastes ok! A little dusty? Carob or something. It has some kind of artificial flavoring. You know what, it does kinda taste like an almond sugar cookie now that you say it. Buttery- a little buttery. Maybe cuz I just took a little bite of cream cheese. It’s better with cream cheese. It wasn’t really that thrilling. It has a very subtle taste. It’s not something I’d buy but hey, I did drink all of it!”

I dunno about you Kiki. I think the dry and wet leaf smelled like chocolate and that’s the only aspect that seemed artificial to me. I stole a few sips before I passed it off to you and it smelled and tasted a lot like an almond butter cookie with darker notes, not subtle for me but also not in-your-face. There’s still one serving left, so I’ll have to brew a greedy cup for myself :P

Cameron B.

Hmm I don’t remember chocolate!

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drank Cloud and Mist by Mandala Tea
980 tasting notes

Even though fresh harvests of other green teas are becoming available, I went ahead and bought a 2020 harvest to satisfy the immediate desire for green tea.

The 25g didn’t last more than a few weeks after I opened it. I never took notes so this is a recollection and not the best one at that.

Found myself gravitating to brewing in a glass gaiwan and it lasted for many steeps. Thick, clean and sweet with quartzlike minerality and the following mild qualities: soybean and soy-milkiness, green chestnut astringency, raw asparagus bitterness and a lemony citrus tone to balance. Very gentle honeysuckle floral quality. Sometimes I’d get fleeting peach. There is a moderate herbal note like anise-tarragon. I like those green, pungent notes that come out when brewing with a higher leaf to water ratio.

Grandpa is thick, mild and juicy. Western brings more astringency and florality.

A good tea if the time it took me to drink through 25g is a testament to my enjoyment. Recommended as a good, clean and solid green tea that takes well to different methods, though I never did try upping the temperature. I can’t believe it’s been 5 years since this tea was last reviewed.

Flavors: Anise, Asparagus, Chestnut, Cookie, Herbs, Honeysuckle, Lemon, Milk, Mineral, Peach, Soybean, Sweet, Sweet, Warm Grass, Thick

Cameron B.

I feel like Mandala has fallen out of favor? I remember them being much more popular a few years ago!


Idk if they’ve fallen out of favor in the world outside internet tea talk. Mandala has provided nothing but good tea, great shou, a phenomenal first sheng experience and a personal, kind demeanor. They were one of the first online vendors I bought from and while I’ve ventured to many others in the past 4 years, I felt a sense of coming home with my most recent order.

Mastress Alita

I could not live without their Smart Soak! Only thing that takes flavor funk off my infusers, thermoses, etc.


It looks like Mandala has a website again? I thought they didn’t for a while, like ordering through e-mail or something?

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drank Baked Apple Pie by Cuppa Geek
980 tasting notes

A nicely tangy apple flavored chamomile blend. Tang’s from the apple pieces though. There’s no hibiscus and I’m unsure about honeybush or cinnamon. So I just got out of bed to check the steeper basket and it is indeed only apple pieces and big, soggy chamomile flowers. I even took one teaspoon from the bottom of the bag and one from the top. I’m not complaining, though. The tea went very well with a couple of too sweet Hostess carrot cake donettes. And since I poked through the steeper basket, I also nibbled on some apple chunks.

Flavors: Apple, Chamomile, Tangy


Tea you can eat is always a plus.


Haha, yeah. The marshmallows in CuppaGeek’s Pretty in Pink went missing today as I was preparing a pitcher of cold brew :E


I’d say “this is one of my favorite CG varieties,” but I think that’s what I say about all of them. Haven’t had a klunker yet!


Not a big chamomile fan here but I think she does chamomile blends very well. Spiced Fall Evenings will hopefully be back in my cupboard this fall.


Last night’s cup was tart. A hibiscus petal must’ve made it in.

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Mountain Stream Teas was kind to include this as a freebie in my order last month. Thank you :)

Looking back, the first 5 grams I wasted on shorter steepings. I went that way because of the roast; I didn’t want to be overwhelmed by it since me and roasted Taiwanese oolong aren’t the best of friends. It was very light and watered down tasting, spring water sweet, tingly minerality, hints of umeboshi and caramel.

Because I was underwhelmed, I followed the suggested steeping parameters on the bag for the remaining leaf. What a transformation! The jinxuan character became pretty pronounced. It was very smooth and light- to medium-bodied with a deep, mellow pear-like sweetness, creamy caramel, still hints of umeboshi, tender sweet grass, roasted flavor but well integrated (this is a 2019 electric roast tea so it has had time to settle). Thick aftertaste of creamy dried peaches. The longer the tea was left to cool, the more the flavors of the tea developed. It seems to be very low in caffeine.

This friendly tea is pretty reserved but not challenging in taste. If you do buy this, you’ll be rewarded by following the suggested preparation in the description/on the bag.

Flavors: Caramel, Coffee, Cream, Creamy, Dried Fruit, Mineral, Peach, Pear, Plums, Roasted, Smooth, Spring Water, Sweet, Sweet, Warm Grass

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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drank Herbal Paradise by Tea & Trumpets
980 tasting notes

Makes a refreshing and hydrating tangy rosehip type of brew both cold and hot with a bright accent of dried sour red cherry and woody-sweet cinnamon. Not spicy. I don’t taste the coconut. It’s an organic fruit tea which is cool, but because it is a fruit tea, it’s heavy and I don’t want to pay the price per pound. I do appreciate the consistency of taste and body brewed both cold and hot. It was a nice gift :)

Flavors: Cherry, Cinnamon, Dried Fruit, Pleasantly Sour, Rosehips, Tangy

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Camellia formosensis is the native Taiwanese tea species. I don’t think it’s often seen on the market. It has been crossed with a Burmese assamica leaf to create the Hong Yu T-18 cultivar, which is known as Red Jade.

This oolong hasn’t gotten positive reviews here. Told myself when I first had it a few years ago that I’d try it again. So here we are with a Winter 2020 harvest.

It tastes pretty much the same as Spring 2018 but with less bite and maybe lower toned, or at least with less high notes. It’s a tonal tasting tea for me — savory-herbaceous green and roasted nutty-toasted rice brown. This tea isn’t roasted though, so I assume the roasty-toasty deal is because of oxidation. Juicy and a little drying. There is some creaminess and a tangy tone that’s lemony, balanced by a little bitterness and sweetness. Mild earthy-foral aftertaste with a bit stronger sugarcane returning sweetness. It’s kind of like a savory sake.

Nothing really draws me to this tea other than its uniqueness. It’s a nice change of pace.

Flavors: Creamy, Earth, Flowers, Herbaceous, Herbs, Lemon, Roasted Nuts, Sake, Savory, Smooth, Sugarcane, Tangy, Toasted Rice, Walnut

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Cold brew is pretty good. Green and grassy, a little brassy, lightly creamy with a high note of orange blossom and the ginger flower beneath that. I’ll probably stick to tiny teapots for this tea, though.

Flavors: Cream, Creamy, Flowers, Ginger, Grass, Green, Metallic, Mineral, Orange Blossom

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Bought this so I could compare to the 2003 7542 from mrmopar

This definitely tastes aged. I think Camellia Sinensis’s description is spot on. However, I do find the bitterness unbalanced. This 1998 is smoother, less drying and a little sweeter (almost whisky-like) than the 2003 but not as strong with the camphor. Maybe the type of storage and 5 years more of age have transformed the acidity I get in the 2003. This tastes more humidly stored and verges lightly alkaline. The body is nothing to note; I don’t recall noting it in the 2003. Qi is calming and warming, caffeine isn’t very high — I can fall asleep without issue if had in the evening. After 3 or 4 infusions, the qi urges me to take a break. Over the next several infusions, the power is gone and the tastes devolves into bitter, peaty swamp water.

Overall, it’s ok, the feelings elicited are nice and early infusion taste good but I feel like it’s missing the depth needed to make this a very good aged tea. For the price, I pass but it is worth trying.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Bitter Melon, Campfire, Camphor, Drying, Earth, Peat, Petrichor, Resin, Smoke, Smooth, Spicy, Wet Rocks, Wet Wood, Whiskey, Yeast

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Unflavored milk oolong scented with wild ginger flowers. An oddity I had to try. The site says Spring 2020; my packet states Summer 2020.

So far, I’ve prepared it both gongfu with moderate steeping times and western. Western produces a good cup in which more of the jinxuan creaminess comes through. Gongfu is really how this tea needs to be treated.

It’s not spectacular leaf, but it is very good. At first the taste is watery and the body light, but the ginger flower scenting makes up for it. Creamy, sweet, spicy, floral and green aroma. The flavors become fully integrated though somewhat muted and the body fuller as the session progresses. The ginger flower scenting I think is in balance with the tea qualities. It is floral and spicy but not in the sense that the root is spicy. It lingers in the aftertaste, which is mellow but very long and evolving. It moves around from spicy-floral ginger and mineral to apricot-grass-banana leaf, to creamy with delicate sweet floral mango and lilies. The minerality of the tea tingles my whole mouth, not quite astringent. Mouth and throat feel full and a little dry; the throat then feels minty cool.

This is a very enjoyable tea and is not overbearing in any one facet. The ginger flower scenting adds an exotic experience to a jinxuan oolong, which I don’t drink often. I’m happy that this tea can handle near-boiling water. This tea is definitely worth a try. Glad I bought 25g — let’s see what cold-brewing does.

Flavors: Apricot, Cookie, Cream, Creamy, Drying, Floral, Flowers, Ginger, Grass, Mango, Milk, Mineral, Mint, Plants, Spicy, Spinach

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Abandoned the rating system again. Too much work.

Great tea is unforgettable. Good tea is sometimes forgettable. Mediocre tea is forgettable unless I’ve drank enough of it to form an impression. Bad tea is unforgettable, unfortunately.


California, USA

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