Still whitling away the day sick, congested, and crampy watching content from the International Virtual Tea Festival. Decided to brew up a cup of this, as I’m still working on my 2017 sipdowns. This was a Spring 2017 harvest, 36 month best by, sealed packaging.

I know I have enjoyed Black Dragon Pearls before (from Adagio, no less!) but I’ve actually been a bit unimpressed with this particular one. I am aware of its age, but other equally old straight teas that were in still-sealed packaging has seemed to have held up quite well, so I’d be surprised if that’s all that is going on here. I think, mainly, it’s hard for me to judge a good water/leaf ratio with these large pearls. The packaging says “one pearl per cup” which seems logical given their size, and I brewed one for 350ml, but the flavor felt a bit weak. I also feel like I just don’t get very good expansion on these larger pearls compared to the smaller ones (those fully open up, while these just sort of “bloom” in a flower/octopus like shape… the tea is still somewhat bound together in the middle). I left the pearl in the infuser and added a second for my next cup, hoping to urge out a bit more flavor (so one pearl on the first steep, with an additional pearl on its second steep).

This produced a much nicer color in the liquor. The aroma is malty with a touch of molasses and spices, and a hint of citrus rind and cocoa. I was happier with the flavor this time; malt, baked bread, sweet potato, honey, and maybe a subtle hint of cocoa and cherry. So I think I just need to use double the amount of pearls to get the sort of flavor I’m looking for — or, if the tea doesn’t go astringent, perhaps try it grandpa in my thermos. I’ll leave that experiment for the work week.

So I still like the flavor of black Dragon Pearls, but I think for me, I have an easier time brewing/controlling the right amount with smaller sized pearls. In the future, I’ll probably look for the little pearls again when I restock a black Dragon Pearl. I love the taste though, good for mornings or lazy weekend afternoons!

Edit: After drinking this for several mornings as my “work thermos tea”, I have pinpointed my preferred steeping parameters. Firstly… I really don’t like grandpa style, it just becomes far too astringent for my personal preferences that way. One pearl for 8 oz. of water (so a standard 12 oz. mug tastes too weak to me with one pearl; I’ve been using a 16 oz. sized thermos with two pearls) and steeping for double what I usually give blacks (6 minutes instead of 3 minutes), which seems to allow the leaves to fully open, give the tea a nice color, but not reach levels of bitterness I don’t like.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Cherry, Citrus Zest, Cocoa, Honey, Malt, Molasses, Smooth, Spices, Sweet Potatoes

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

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Hi! I’m Sara, a middle-aged librarian living in southern Idaho, USA. I’m a big ol’ sci-fi/fantasy/anime geek that loves fandom conventions, coloring books, simulation computer games, Japanese culture, and cats. Proud asexual and supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. I’m also a chronic migraineur. As a surprise to no one, I’m a helpless tea addict with a tea collecting and hoarding problem! (It still baffles me how much tea I can cram into my little condo!) I enjoy trying all sorts of teas… for me tea is a neverending journey!

Favorite Flavors:

I love sampling a wide variety of teas! For me the variety is what makes the hobby of tea sampling so fun! While I enjoy trying all different types of teas (pure teas, blends, tisanes), these are some flavors/ingredients I enjoy:
-Sweet/licorice root/stevia
-Bergamot (in moderation)

Disliked Flavors:

There are not many flavors or ingredients that I don’t like. These include:
-Bananas/banana flavoring
-Hemp/CBD teas
-Smoke-scented teas/heavy smoke flavors (migraine trigger)
-Perfumey teas/extremely heavy floral aromas (migraine trigger)
-Gingko biloba (migraine trigger)
-Chamomile (used in blends as a background note/paired with stronger flavors is okay)
-Extremely spicy/heated teas
-Medicinal flavors/Ginseng
-Metallic flavors
-Overly strong artificial flavorings

With the exception of bananas and migraine triggers, I’ll pretty much try any tea at least once!

Steeping Parameters:

I drink tea in a variety of ways! For hot brews, I mostly drink my teas brewed in the western style without additions, and for iced tea, I drink teas mostly brewed in the cold brew style without additions. Occassionally I’ll change that up. I use the https://octea.ndim.space/#/ app for water-to-tea ratios and use steep times to my preferences.

My Rating Scale:

90-100 – Top tier tea! These teas are among my personal favorites, and typically I like to keep them stocked in my cupboards at all times, if possible!

70-89 – These are teas that I personally found very enjoyable, but I may or may not feel inclined to keep them in stock.

50-69 – Teas that fall in this range I enjoyed, but found either average, lacking in some way, or I’ve had a similar tea that “did it better.”

21-49 – Teas in this range I didn’t enjoy, for one reason or another. I may or may not finish them off, depending on their ranking, and feel no inclination to restock them.

20-1 – Blech! My Tea Hall of Shame. These are the teas that most likely saw the bottom of my garbage can, because I’d feel guilty to pass them onto someone else.

Note that I only journal a tea once, not every time I drink a cup of it. If my opinion of a tea drastically changes since my original review, I will journal the tea again with an updated opinion and change my rating. Occassionally I revisit a tea I’ve reviewed before after a year or more has passed.


My Cupboard on Steepster reflects teas that I have sampled and logged for review, and is not used as an inventory for teas I currently own at the present moment. An accurate and up-to-date listing of my current tea inventory can be viewed here: https://tinyurl.com/xjt9ptx3 . I am currently strictly limiting tea trading/ordering to get my collection under control! My participation in any tea boxes, tea exchanges, or group orders, and acceptance of any tea gifts is very limited at this point in time. If there is something on my spreadsheet that I have in large quantity (50g or higher) that you would like to sample, feel free to contact me about it, as I am open to limited outbound gifting (USA only!)

Contact Info:

Feel free to send me a Steepster PM, or alternatively, check the website URL section below; it goes to a contact form that will reach my personal e-mail.


Idaho, United States



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