1155 Tasting Notes


Not gonna go in depth with this note since I’ve had several harvests of this tea by now.

The April 2020 harvest I currently have produces variable results. In general, this is a light-bodied tea without much structure in the mouth but it has some great aromatic nuances.

One day this past week made a perfect cup. Cocoa, vanilla and roasted pears. That was really nice.

I’d give this harvest an 75, previous harvests 94 and 90, average 86.

Flavors: Cocoa, Pear, Roasty, Vanilla

Daylon R Thomas

The 2020 was hit or miss, though more specifically the experiments with Tie Guan Yin and Shui Xian were really good from Taiwan.

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September 2019 harvest

The tea is so smooth. Too smooth for me, too smooth for western brews. But it’s strong! The profile and caffeine remind me of some Assam or Japanese black tea profiles. Dried cherries, tobacco and cherrywood are the most prominent flavors and they feel like they were sitting out in frosty evergreen forest air. It’s a cooling tea despite the warm flavor profile.

Check out the old note because I feel like so much of what I have to say is redundant. https://steepster.com/derk/posts/391280

Strange how I fell hard for a June 2018 harvest but this one has left me feeling ambivalent enough that I used most of it to make weekly pitchers of cold-brew for Kiki (which she loved and I never tasted). Looking at the wet leaf, I think this is more highly oxidized such that it presents as simpler and more straightforward.

93 for June 2018 harvest, 72 for September 2019, average 83

Flavors: Bitter, Butter, Cherry, Cherry Wood, Chocolate, Coconut, Dried Fruit, Evergreen, Fruity, Honey, Lemon, Lychee, Molasses, Orange, Prune, Raisins, Rosehips, Smooth, Tangy, Tannin, Tart, Tobacco

Evol Ving Ness

Wow. Funny how the harvest varies—greatly, in this case.


I’m foggy about which years my two harvests of this tea were from, but I liked my previous sample more than the 50 g bag I bought during our big Black Friday purchase last year. I have a feeling that batch was from 2019, not 2020, though I could be wrong.

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I think this might have been a freebie included a few orders ago but I’m uncertain. EIther way, thank you Old Ways Tea :) 2020 harvest.

The aroma is moderate, the taste is full and the body of the tea is delightfully creamy and oily. I suppose that means it also lacks the typical astringency or drying character of many Wuyi oolong. It possesses less mineral character than I prefer, so this might be a good introduction to rock oolong — enough minerality that it defines the style but perhaps not so much as to turn people away.

The taste is round and full, nutty-sweet and chocolatey with an orchid top note, and at times expressing a note of pleasant sourness but I can’t nail down which flavor profile matches it. A pithy bitterness arises here and there, giving a hint of edginess. The aftertaste quickly develops after the swallow and blooms into a fruity, airy, rich and sweet combination of white peach, orchid, brown sugar and semisweet chocolate. The throat feels cool.

Between the mouthfeel, tastes and aftertastes, it is a satiating tea that doesn’t have me wanting to drink cup after cup, but rather has me wanting to savor it over the course of a few days. It’s not a tea that was immediately appealing to me because I like more ‘edge’ but it is nonetheless good quality. I could see someone falling hard for this Shui Xian.

Flavors: Almond, Black Raspberry, Brown Sugar, Cacao, Charcoal, Chocolate, Creamy, Dark Bittersweet, Jam, Mineral, Nutty, Ocean Air, Oily, Orchid, Peach, Pleasantly Sour, Round, Sugar, Sweet, Thistle, Wet Rocks

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April 18/25 2021 harvest

With only a few servings left of the 50g bag, it’s time to attempt some kind of description of this sencha. My multiple notes literally got scattered all over the place and I can only find this one now.

Dry leaf has a lush, deep green aroma. Very fruity, strawberry-pineapple-sakura-pine, sometimes mandarin orange-Asian pear attached to that hyphenation.

Wet leaf smells very meaty, can’t get the idea of Vienna sausages out of my head. I guess that’s the umami revealing itself, much moreso in the wet leaf than in the taste. Dark green wet grass, subdued flowers.

The tea is such a moving mix of flavors and sensations. I find it difficult to sit with the tea but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy drinking it. Active tea means activity. Rich, persimmonsweet flavor. Rather smooth, fruity with a bitter-bright vegetal taste, piney backdrop. Fairly light rounded umami that is not a distinct note or aftertaste. Floral-fruity-bitter-brightgrassy finish. Fruity aftertaste later turns piney-fruity.

There is some bitterness-astringency in the throat that quickly brings about returning sweetness. Cool inhalations, a light chill lines the inner perimeter of my lips. Feels like my body is breathing. Bottom of the cup smells like sakura. Only in later steeps do I notice the cinnamon and vanilla described by Thés du Japon, mostly in the aroma.

I also really like this western brewed. Probably around 1g:100mL, 2-3 min?, 2-3 steeps. It’s so refreshing. Good astringency mixed with gentle cooked white bean and seaweed overtone, butter. Not fruity as prepared in my small clay teapot but I feel like I get hints of it all here and there. Returning sweetness.

Flavors: Astringent, Beans, Bittersweet, Butter, Cinnamon, Drying, Floral, Fruity, Grassy, Green, Mandarin, Meat, Pear, Persimmon, Pine, Pineapple, Round, Sakura, Seaweed, Strawberry, Sweet, Umami, Vanilla, Vegetal, Wheatgrass

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 4 g 2 OZ / 70 ML

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This ‘high mountain old bush’ Shui Xian is a subtle and refined rock oolong. My impression after drinking it is of horchata, like if you took the essences of fresh rice milk, floral-woody cinnamon, floral-sweet vanilla and sugar then combined those with the characteristic minerality of yancha in a spring water-like body, you’d almost have this tea.

I say almost because there is also a prominent orchid florality, a note of dry-roasted almonds skins, some delicate berry tones, and a hint of custard. A feeling of wet moss and mushrooms.

The tea feels good, smells spectacular and drinks with ease. A lingering vanilla-orchid aftertaste completes the experience.

Flavors: Almond, Astringent, Berry, Cinnamon, Custard, Drying, Floral, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orchid, Perfume, Rice, Roasted Nuts, Spring Water, Sugar, Sweet, Vanilla, Wet Moss, Wet Rocks, Wood

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drank 2013 Gongmei by white2tea
1155 tasting notes

Unusually fragrant when opening the bag, it smells so much like hot cross buns, which is what I’ve experienced in a few other aging whites, but the intensity here is striking. Yeasty rolls, red fruits, icing sugar, citrus; cinnamon undertone but definitely not a distinct note.

Warming a rinsing brings in full force a potpourri of flowers both fresh and dried, more differentiated citrus notes, honey and whiffs of something like myrrh.

The tea does well with shorter and longer steeps in a gaiwan, my preference lying in the latter. Very hot water is needed to reveal the depth of aromas and flavors. The floral aroma slips underneath the first sips which are at first sweet with nectar and tangy with citrus. A full, underlying woody and dried autumn leaf character mingles with red fruits and apricot. A muted caramelized sugar note keeps the tea from going too woody or leafy. Citrus zest notes are prominent in the finish and continue to grow. The bottom of the cup smells so rich and sweet, like molten, bubbling sugar just beginning to brown.

I’ve also brewed this western a few times with pretty long steeps, 5, sometimes 10 minutes. The redfruits and citrus become muted and the tea becomes very syrupy sweet and woody. The syrupy sweetness reminds me of Costa Rican agua dulce.

It’s a good aging white with no flaws. Long-lasting tea, high energy but not too strong. A tea I could see myself buying another sample of but not a whole cake.

Flavors: Apricot, Bread, Brown Sugar, Chrysanthemum, Cinnamon, Citrus Zest, Dry Leaves, Geranium, Honey, Incense, Lemon, Nectar, Peony, Perfume, Powdered Sugar, Red Fruits, Sugarcane, Sweet, Tangerine, Tangy, Thick, Vanilla, Wet Wood, Wood, Yeast


Sounds so nice!


Agreed, got my mouth watering a bit!


I think you gave me a sample of this one. I’ve been trying to avoid caffeine because I haven’t been sleeping well, but I look forward to trying it when I can. White teas always seem to get me buzzed.

Martin Bednář

Sounds wonderful :)


It’s probably the most agreeable aging white I’ve had.


Leafhopper, you’ll probably want to avoid this one for a while if you’re cutting back caffeine.


Derk, I thought that might be the case. I’ve been trying to drink caffeinated teas only in the morning, though I’m not sure it’s helping me sleep.


If you want any suggestions beyond reduced tea consumption, let me know. I hate to hear of you suffering. Take care <3


I think my bout of insomnia is due to stress and inactivity, as I’ve been avoiding going outside due to this COVID nuisance. However, suggestions are welcome.

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drank Biarritz by August Uncommon Tea
1155 tasting notes

what was i thinking.


it’s like kool-aid but nasty.

won’t bother ordering from august uncommon again. we don’t play nice together.

on a more positive note, chinese and spanish classes are done. i’m freeee!

Flavors: Amaretto, Anise, Artificial, Cherry, Fruit Punch, Marzipan, Medicinal, Orange, Rooibos, Sweet, Tangy


This tea is everything I hate about fruit/rooibos blends. It tastes like cough syrup and is the worst.

Cameron B.

Heh heh, I remember hating this one as well…


My tongue is curling into a knot just envisioning it. Happy end’o’smester!

Martin Bednář

Happy for your freedom! Enjoy those few days!

Evol Ving Ness

Hurray for language classes! Well done!

Lexie Aleah

This tea was a big no for me as well! haha Congrats on the language classes!


Thanks, y’all. This definitely tasted like Robitussin last night :(

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drank Antwerp's Placebo 2019 by Mandala Tea
1155 tasting notes

The combination of aromas in the dry leaf smells almost exactly like a brand of Swedish snus called Ettan, which has the obvious rich tobacco smell as well as walnuts and chocolate.

Those same notes come through in the warmed leaf along with a spicy dark rye and a vague flowery quality. Rinsing enhances the spiciness and brings out warm yeast bread dough and mahogany furniture.

The taste is warm but the tea doesn’t warm the body. In the mouth is a clean swirl of tobacco, mahogany, goji and cucumber, very light bitterness; clean and oily. The aftertaste is sour and feeling in the body acidic which leaves me thinking this tea will benefit from time stored. I get that kind of sourness that cucumber can possess and also that of fermented cacao beans. Something also reminds me of coconut husk.

I don’t have enough left of this free sample provided by Mandala to bother storing. If this is still offered by Mandala in a few years, I’d consider buying a cake. A clean, oily shou that tastes like tobacco and mahogany is much welcome, compared to those that are muddy and taste of potting soil.

Flavors: Acidic, Bread Dough, Cacao, Camphor, Chocolate, Coconut Husk, Cucumber, Dark Wood, Drying, Flowers, Goji, Metallic, Rye, Smooth, Sour, Spicy, Tobacco, Walnut, Yeast

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Like Low Country, having tried a few sips unadorned, I decided to add some cream-top whole milk. It’s a balanced, sensual cup this way. Forward in approach. I’m pretty sensitive to rose, and August Uncommon heavily flavors their teas, so a peppery rose perfume is still the standout note after adding milk. The clove is present, softened and deep. Cocoa shells give a rich yet mild bottom touch. (Bottom touch – I’m leaving it.) The finish is rather citron. The tea itself, harsh edges rounded by the milk, gives me a muted impression that’s darkwoody-spicy-muscatel. Strong floral compounds in teas – here, rose – tend to land me all lala; this one is no exception. I have found my way into bed at nearly 11am to type this note.

Flavors: Astringent, Citrus Fruits, Clove, Cocoa, Dark Wood, Floral, Muscatel, Pepper, Perfume, Rose, Spicy, Tannin

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Second time this has happened in the middle of typing a glowing review of this tea — backspaced myself out of the pop-up window and lost it all.

In my frustration, I feel like I need some closure so I’m posting a little bit for now:

What a gorgeous Japanese black tea! It blows away all past encounters with Japanese blacks, all of which deeply offended my stomach. This leaf is so clean and pure.

I’ll come back with a full review later after typing it up in another platform :P

Flavors: Camphor, Caramel, Cinnamon, Floral, Geranium, Ginger, Mineral, Orange, Orange Zest, Pine, Rose, Spicy, Squash, Tangy, Vanilla, Wood

Martin Bednář

Won’t lie, Japanese blacks seens to be often pure gems. But so hard to get.


I haven’t ever tried a Japanese black — now I must add to the wishlist!


LOL, I picked the other two Iwata black teas on that site. Let me know what you’re thinking of ordering.

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If you’re an aspiring or current tea grower, let’s talk! I am slowly beginning a tea farm here in Northern California. Currently growing are young plants pulled from the ground and gifted to me after a visit to Fairhope Tea Plantation in Alabama. The parent plants are sinensis variety from a defunct Lipton research project. I’ve also started seeds from Camellia Forest Nursery in North Carolina. The types include Camellia taliensis, an assamica variety, and 3 sinensis varieties including “Small leaf” “Large leaf” and “Black Sea.” To learn how to process tea into different styles, I plan on traveling to China and Taiwan if/when COVID becomes a relative non-issue. I’m taking Mandarin classes to aid in this journey.

Tea became a hobby and my daily drink of choice some time late in the last decade. My introduction to loose leaf came, following a lone tin of some Tie Guan Yin oolong many years prior, in the form of dumpster-dived Wuyi oolong packets that somebody left upon moving out of an apartment building. From there, my palate expanded to teas from across China and the world. I used to focus more on taste and still harbor the habit, but after trying sheng pu’er, I tend to focus more on how a tea feels in my body. Does it complement my constitution? Does it change my mood or does it enhance my current mindstate? While I may not mention those effects in tea notes, it is what I value most. Flavored teas are not a favorite but I do drink them intermittently.

In terms of who I am, you could consider me a jill of all trades. Specialty is not my strength, as can be seen in the spread of my tea notes.

One thing I will always love is riding a bicycle.


Sonoma County, California, USA

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