255 Tasting Notes

2015/2018 3 Cranes “2506” Liu Bao

7.4g, 100mL gaiwan, 212f, Brita filtered water

5s rinse smells like shou puer: mushroom and dank in a slightly fishy sort of way

dry leaves smell like the HK custom aged sheng I’ve tried before. Bit dark and earthy

wet leaves smell woody and slightly sweet.

7s: mouthfeel slightly thick. tastes like shou. slight black pepper undertones.

10s: much darkened in color. darkened flavors. still like shou.

rest of steeps pretty consistent, not sure exactly how many I ended up doing. don’t really get sweetness during gongfu steeps, but I’ve never been too perceptive to vendor listed sweet notes of shous, so it could be a me thing.

thermos brew: standard grainy sweet notes, but retaining a woody character.

overall, a nice daily drinker if you’re into this sort of shou tea profile, and Yunnan Sourcing sells it for even cheaper last I checked (so fairly easy on the wallet in comparison).

Flavors: Black Pepper, Earth, Mushrooms, Sweet, Wood

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

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2006 “Osmanthus Fragrant” Farmer Style Raw Liu Bao
7.5g, 100mL gaiwan, Brita water, 212f

dry leaves don’t have much smell

in prewarmed gaiwan: not quite osmanthus to my nose, but slightly sweetened

1x 5s rinse

wet leaves carry no osmanthus for me, but smell rather similar to some of the Xia Guan shengs I’ve tried, with their characteristic light smoke and dried fruit.

5s: taste upfront is sort of nondescript, but slight sweet dried fruit aftertaste, like a sheng.

12s: slight sweet, more woody. similar aftertaste

15s: back to nondescript w/ aftertaste

20s: a bit of bittersweetness and woodiness w/ aftertaste

30s: woody and lightly sweet

1 min and 2 min: both similar to before

thermos brew: slightly bitter and medicinal

Apparently osmanthus is one of the main liu bao profiles, but didn’t really catch it here. I guess the osmanthus teas I’ve tried are nauseatingly strong on it though, so this was a change of pace that I didn’t quite seem to acclimate to.

Flavors: Bitter, Dried Fruit, Medicinal, Smoke, Sweet, Wood

7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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2020 Winter Shan Lin Xi Oolong

Rivers & Lakes Tea

6.0g, 100 mL gaiwan, Brita water, 212f

dry leaf smells like classic Taiwanese oolong: floral and bright

wet leaves: sweet floral, reminiscent of Bath and Body Works Sweet Pea lol. nice bright green.

5s: light sweet, floral, vegetal. bit of mint cooling note in aftertaste

8s: bitter note that transitions to a floral, then mint note. something slightly coconut & crushed leaves as well.

6s: an extension of previous, but less bitter. more crushed leaves and mint. the last steep and this one make this one seem like something akin to Philosykos, if that were a tea and not a perfume, haha

8s: slight sweetness reappears. No bitter, just a slight dryness then mint aftertaste.

15s: similar to before, coconut-like notes, then mint.

Proceeded to cold brew, not because the tea ran out of steam, but lighter oolongs are just not my favorite. cold brew wasn’t really complex, but a strong ginger note appeared.

Flavors: Bitter, Coconut, Drying, Floral, Ginger, Mint, Sweet, Vegetal

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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2009 “Gan Ku” Farmer Style Aged raw Liu Bao

5.1g, 100mL gaiwan, 200f

Of course I don’t especially like bitter flavors as much as the next person. And of course I believe that tea shouldn’t just be sugar water, etc. etc. At any rate the description was intriguing enough, and I’m not brave enough to try a ku Ding tea, so I thought this might be fun to try.

dry leaves don’t smell like much.

1x 3s rinse, which smells a bit grainy

wet leaves smell like young sheng, sharp and fruity

3s: tastes a bit smoky. A hint of medicine. something peppery on tongue.

5s: not too much flavor upfront, but leaves a slight sweetness on tongue afterwards.

10s: dried fruit like a sheng still

30s: stronger on medicinal note

1 min: still like before, but more fruity.

2 min: similar

1 min: not much to add. starting to fade.

2 min: slight mushroomy note

2 min again, but 212f on this and subsequent infusions since this doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. no notes added

5 min: a light sort of floral medicinal

10 min: lightened significantly

thermos overnight: standard thermos sheng profile.

Overall, this was unexpectedly soft overall and tasted similar to a dry stored aged sheng where I expected more harshness, especially as there was a note on my order to brew like a young sheng to avoid excessive bitterness. I suspect that my notes in large part have to do with the temperature I brewed at, which is 5 degrees under the arbitrary 205f suggested for young shengs, which maybe I’d adhere to when I have time to wait around for the temp to hit 205 since my kettle only does 10f increments. Unfortunately, this is start of finals time, and I am procrastinating my work everyday by brewing tea and making notes on steepster. (For the greater good, I assure myself!! I digress.) But even so, I thought the thermos brew might draw out bitterness, as it does for some shengs, but there was none here. Will add on notes in the future if I change brewing parameters to start with boiling.

Flavors: Dried Fruit, Floral, Grain, Medicinal, Mushrooms

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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2005 Spring of Menghai Dayi (HK Dry)

ordered as part of LP spring sampler

6.5g, 100mL gaiwan, Brita water, 212f

1x 5s rinse that smells slightly mushroomy (but have picked this note a lot in cha hai, so maybe just that lol)

dry leaves smell of smoke and dried fruit

wet leaves are smoky! a bit of sharpness, some dried fruit, and something oddly reminiscent of gasoline. Thought I also caught something like meat, but I had a bacon egg bagel for breakfast at this same desk earlier, so it could just be that.

consistency is thin throughout.

4s: sharp and slight medicinal that turns into a brief celery tinged sweetness on tongue before fading. light smoky aftertaste that lingers.

7s: less sharp. bit of mint, cooling, and medicinal on aftertaste.

8s: similar. itchy feeling in throat, but slightly fruity sense upon exhaling in throat/back nasal area. a bit hard to describe.

11s: not as harsh upfront, but lingering sweetness on aftertaste remains.

23s: lighter on taste. slight mushroom notes on initial that fade into fruit almost immediately.

25s: slight sharp + smoke that turns into similar aftertaste as before. slight aroma in throat.

30s: fading

1 min: similar to before

thermos: bit bitter, but not undrinkable. Nothing special to note. Unlikely to spring for a cake.

Flavors: Bitter, Celery, Fruity, Mint, Mushrooms, Smoke, Sweet

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Qing Xiang Zhang Ping Shui Xian
Three Bears Tea
1 square, 7.7g (not sure if my scale is undercounting again?), 100mL gaiwan, Brita water, 212f

dry leaves have a light oolong smell, slight floral, something toasty and sweet, so pretty run of the mill oolong.

in a prewarmed gaiwan: more vegetal, like a Taiwanese oolong

1x 3s rinse. I let it sit a couple minutes and then picked apart the leaves since they weren’t compressed too tight to begin with. Wet leaves smell like any Taiwanese oolong with the vegetal, kind of creamy note and very light bare minimum touch of smoke.

5s: nondescript vegetal with floral and sweet undertones. Leaves a sort of sweet fruit on aftertaste for my first sip, but later cups seems to be more minty of vegetal.

10s: slightly stronger flavors + more pronounced minty aftertaste

17s: same as before, slightly sharper upfront.

30s: vegetal upfront, floral finish with minty aftertaste

off to the cold brew bottle. Not to suggest this is a particularly bad tea, by any means. It’s just not interesting enough for me to sit here and continue to take notes about since I can roughly predict how future steepings will turn out.

I bought this for the novelty of trying out a Zhang Ping shui xian since I found it about it a few months ago and it seemed interesting enough and a harmless add-on to my Three Bears order. I’ve figured out by now that I don’t like under roasted oolongs, but I’m glad I tried this because it’s helped me to connect the dots on processing and taste. Every Taiwanese oolong I’ve tried (not that I’ve tried a ton, since I just haven’t liked any very much so far) has fit a standard flavor and brew profile, and I’ve just come to associate every oolong with these characteristics as a Taiwanese oolong. I didn’t realize until trying this that these aren’t the characteristics of Taiwanese oolongs in general, but instead of a light roast processing similar to every Taiwanese oolong I’ve had before. So feeling a bit silly because of that. Anyway, now if I tried this in a blind taste test I wouldn’t automatically assume it’s a Taiwanese oolong (though I probably would still be inclined to think of it as such), but rather just indicative of a light processing.

Tasting notes reflect unedited thoughts during steepings, so keeping the Taiwanese oolong comparisons there.

Flavors: Floral, Mint, Smoke, Sweet, Toasty, Vegetal

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Wu San Di Shui Xian, TXS tea
7.7g (sachet said 8.3g, so guess my scale is off or something, I’m not sure. Have been less mindful of 1:15 general ratio lately because when I do follow it I’m never sure when to use the remaining 2g or whatever of leaf), 100 mL gaiwan, Brita, 212f

dry leaves don’t have much smell

leaves in prewarmed gaiwan have a roasted and bread-like smell

wet leaves have a strong smoke w sweet undertones of dark chocolate and berry

5s: slightly thick. woody medicinal notes w/ slight sweetness that remind me of cinnamon. slight cooling minty aftertaste

another 5s: similar to initial, but a touch stronger mint aftertaste

12s: slight bitter and roast more upfront before moving to a minty aftertaste

25s: starting to lose steam. a touch of sweetness + toastiness w mint aftertaste and a touch of something like soap

1min: lighter but finishes w a bright mint note and something higher that I can’t distinguish

2min: light medicinal woody notes + roast hint

5min: seems to have regained strength. bitterness like a coffee that turns into a soapy note of sorts.

10 min: roasted bitter note and soapy aftertaste. hint of mint

20 min + one last steep of indefinite hours length: not much left to note. would usually cold brew, but the last time I tried that with a TXS tea it tasted like straight soap.

overall, nothing too exciting, fairly standard shui xian profile. I guess this validates the legitimacy of the shui xian that was a gift that I tried before and thought was fake because of the lack of sweetness and rather medicinal/woody profile. Descriptions online of whatever is supposed to constitute a “classic” shui xian messed up my expectations

Flavors: Berry, Bread, Cinnamon, Dark Chocolate, Medicinal, Mint, Roasted, Soap, Toasty, Wood

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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classic soba, tastes fairly similar to the big barley 1L tea bags imo. toasty and grainy. Sometimes leaves a bit of an odd drying out feeling in the throat, but good for times when you’re avoiding caffeine but don’t want water. Not much else to say about it; this is not particularly interesting, but something I have been drinking often.


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Nishide Tea Factory
Uji Gyokuro Tea G20 (must be the year indicator or something… was too lazy to make a new page)
5.8g, 200mL kyusu

I’ve had this since March, but just haven’t had time to get to it since this is just not what I would generally reach for when I’ve got extra time to focus on brewing + making notes and not just casual drinking. In the meantime, I stuck it in the freezer since apparently Japanese greens don’t take to regular storage too well (maybe hearsay?), so I’m not sure if that affected anything.

dry leaves is both dried seafood umami and dried cranberry/fruity like note

I roughly followed Yunomi’s instructions on the packet, but I think the 60 ml first steep was a typo, so I did all my steep w 200 mL. Accidentally did 30s 2nd steep instead of 15s, and I should also note that my kyusu is not the fastest pourer.

in a prewarmed kyusu, leaves emit a smell like oyster or clam. Surprisingly, in the wet leaves, that is tampered down quite a bit, although retains similar character overall.

122f, 2 min: taste upfront is deeply umami, with a sort of thickened texture. aftertaste is umami with maybe something salty lurking along with a grassy taste.

176f, 30s: a hint of astringency along with a hint of sweet. unmistakably umami still, but sweeter. hint of grass in aftertaste.

196f, 50s: a touch of astringent, with muted flavors similar to before.

212f, 1 min (not Yunomi advised, just wanted to see what would happen when pressed for an extra last steep): something with a touch of bitter, overall nondescript and not quite worth mentioning.

Not a bad tea by any means, but my own preferences lean against overly umami notes. I do wonder if my freezer storage of this tea affected the sweetness, since the other 2 reviews seem to have gotten more out of this.

Flavors: Grass, Salt, Sweet, Umami

5 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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drank Baozhong by Drink Tea Co
255 tasting notes

5.0g, 100mL gaiwan, Brita water off boil

dry leaves have a strong buttery sweet green smell, combined w hints of a slightly roasted oolong

30s: wet leaves smell of roasted vegetables. Interesting. Taste also has a strong vegetable note, which I wasn’t sure how to interpret. Smooth, but drying on tongue, nothing else in particular to note.

40s: aftertaste is more present, a smoky haze of sorts. Not sweet, but present nonetheless. Maybe something like spinach or arugula with less of a kick? Seen a different baozhong review described as tasting of “boiled mint” which I suppose is sort of apt

1 min. 30s: smoky. Didn’t continue notes or infusions, was probably a busy day.

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Just a chronicle of a stranger’s tea journey. Keeping old notes up to see progression, but no longer really believe in all of them. Trying to learn!!

As of 4/21/21, I will no longer assign numerical ratings to a tea unless it is terrible enough to warrant one. There are a fair amount of solid teas out there, and reading mildly subjective reviews from others > very subjective numerical rating that gets skewed by Steepster’s calculating system anyway.



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