477 Tasting Notes

Batch-tasting this at work right now, and just generally vibing with how it turned out. It’s similar in vibe to Vanilla Jasmine… An oolong to help round things out, milky, gentle, floral rosey-like lychee, sweet and slightly tropical coconut note. Lychee on its own can be very powdery-floral to me, grandma-esque, but it’s made slightly creamy with the coconut. It’s probably too light for milk, but also really inviting iced… If I hadn’t gone for lychee, I think this could have tasted really nice with rose instead. Rose Coconut Milk, hmm.

Definitely another tea that I held onto my original test-batch for. Been drinking a lot of this, and a lot of No.9 in between batch-tasting and pre-shipment sample-tasting. One of our main big blenders is out of commission and being worked on, so drinking this and staring forlornly out at it.

The most current batch of this needs to rest a bit though; the ratio tastes a little off, so I’m holding it back.

Flavors: Coconut, Custard, Lychee, Milk, Sweet, Toasty, Vegetal

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I roughly "gongu"d this so that I could use a smaller amount in my 100mL gaiwan. Three minutes.

Smell: Bergamot first, very well balanced. Light sweet trichome smell. Brewed, stronger trichome and malty sweetness. I’ve worked around very dusty, trichome-heavy teas for so long that I associate a smell with them now, a sort of thick, sweet dust.

Taste: malt, burnt sugar. Not getting any bergamot! As it cools, I get a bit of bitterness at the back of the throat, bergamot-adjacent. From there, the bergamot builds a bit with sips, but doesn’t get very strong. A little light, but the bonus is it doesn’t hide the notes of the tea at all. Citrus, grapefruit, molasses, honey.

Second steep at 7 minutes—smell the bergamot on the liquor now. Taste is light, citrus/grapefruit, honey. Most of the stronger notes from the previous steep are gone.

I feel like the pairing is well-done, sweet, light, balanced. It would be interesting to compare this tea fresh, as I’m sure the bergamot’s dissipated a lot.

Flavors: Bergamot, Brown Sugar, Burnt Sugar, Citrus, Grapes, Malt, Molasses, Pastries

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drank Lao Man E 2014 Spring by Tea Urchin
477 tasting notes

Derk sent several extra samples with the Nepal tea box, and while I tasted all of them while recovering, I kept forgetting to type up my tasting notes. So once again, I’m trying to get back into the habit of transferring my tasting notes from my notebook.

97°c/22 seconds, no rinse, cold vessel.
Smell: On leaf, camphor and not much else.
Liquor: Pale yellow.
Taste: Quite light, hint of smoke and vegetable broth.

27 seconds – Liquore more orange. Touch of savouryness to aroma. Taste—brothy, layered smoke, touch of bitterness. Brightness—not quite sour, but makes me salivate.

37 seconds – Pale orange. Juicy, slightly tart and astringent. Brothy, light smoke and very clean. Slight floral notes, but definitely not a focal point.

37 seconds – Slight medicinal/“clean” smell on the nose. Taste has developed a “clean” note as well. Not chlorinated, just fresh—summrey? Floraly, iodine. Savoury, broth. Juicy, subtle smoke continues, but the astringency/bitterness has disipated. Salivating note persists.

42 seconds – Less of the “clean” note. Leaning back into broth. Vegetal, herbaceous, cooked.

60 seconds – “Clean” smell is back. Brothy, but no smoke. The floral notes and iodine becoming more priminent.

Lose track after this steep.

Flavors: Astringent, Camphor, Clean, Floral, Iodine, Vegetable Broth

205 °F / 96 °C

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drank Haiku by Nikaido
477 tasting notes

Following in the tradition of Nikaido’s other “well I have to, it’s got such a nice name” teas, it also helps that this honestly smells vibrant, fruity, fresh and delicious. This was actually the first tea I tried out of the bunch—as soon as I smelled it, I knew it’d make a nice iced tea, so I brewed it hot and poured it over ice the moment I’d gotten home that day.

I usually have a contentious relationship with flavoured greens… They seem to have trouble holding flavours as well as black teas, and don’t often live up to the smell. But I was glad I was right on this one—it made an excellent iced tea when I sipped it way back.

Hot, it’s still smooth and fruity. It has a lasting berry/generic curranty kind of taste, maybe the slightest bit of pineapple. The oolong in this blend I think helps round it out a bit more so that any straight vegetal notes of the green tea don’t overwhelm the fruit flavours that were added. As it cools, I get a silkyness on the tongue that feels like vanilla.

I think I definitely prefer this one iced, though it’s been a bit since I’ve had it that way. Vanilla tends to get lost in iced teas for me, but I remember it being wonderfully light, fruity and fresh.

Flavors: Berry, Butter, Grassy, Red Currant, Vanilla, Vegetal

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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So several weeks back I finally got hit hard by an ongoing health-problem, and landed in the ER after family medicine wasn’t cutting it. Cue several more ER trips, and finally an OR waitinglist layover, I got rolled into surgery on Tuesday and have been slowly recovering from home. July’s fucking sucked.

I’ve got a bunch of samples I want to try, gifted from derk during the travelling Nepal teabox, but Horrible Timing has them taunting me from a side table. I had to shift to working from home, which meant putting work-teas first.

But I’m stuck at home for a while now healing, which seems like a nice time to catch up.

Drinking the wash of this at 20 seconds, very light toastyness. Hasn’t fully opened yet.

First proper steep at 20 seconds isn’t overly complex, some grains, lightly sweet, toasty but leaning sliiightly burnt. No sourness in the roast.

Second, 20 seconds again, burnt and toasted, strong mineral note, and a bit of charred wood. Not getting a whole lot of nuance, the fruit noted in other descriptions not really coming through for me.

Third, 20 seconds, became lighter and sweeter. Despite being a pretty heavy roast, it really has zero sourness. The sweetness is definitely more starch-sugars than anything fruity. Since I’m not sure what year this sample’s from, it could be that it could use a re-roast to bring out some character, but it’s still quite pleasant.

Flavors: Char, Grain, Mineral, Roasty, Toast, Wood

190 °F / 87 °C

That does sound like a rough July! I hope you have a stunning and well-healed August!


Oh, AJ. welcome home. Here’s to healing, friend.


Thanks to both, it’s been a load of ill-timed BS (not that there’s ever a good time for surgery) and I just want to Rest.

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drank Dongfang Meiren Oolong Tea by Tea Side
477 tasting notes

Visiting family out in the Okanagan this week, so I indiscriminately packed a bunch of old samples I hadn’t visited in a while.

Gongfu, a bit slapdash in the setup I brought with me. About 95c water (mobile, so I can’t use the slider).

First steep was very light, but it quickly evolved into a well rounded, deeply aromatic and sweet mouthfeel. Stronger than some Taiwanese versions. Also surprising as I’ve had this sample quite a few years.

Cinnamon, slight savoury bright note, honey, a bit of malt and grain in the corners of your mouth. Makes me almost think of buckwheat honey, but definitely not that strong and deep. Slightest astringent on the tip of the tongue, Darjeelinglike notes of muscatel grape, a rose flavour, a little bit of stewed peach or apricot. But the fruit is very minor.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Honey, Malt, Peach, Rose

3 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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drank Poet's Blend by Murchie's Tea & Coffee
477 tasting notes

Hnnng my dashboard’s stuck again. Notices aren’t updating, and forum’s cache seems to be backed up too. Welp.

This’ the first tea I released as part of the ‘Tasting Lab’ aside, which is the “AJ’s given free reign to go wild” section of the website where I release just whatever interests me (within reason). At the moment I’m releasing one exclusive tea every two months, and this was the first.

As part of its release, I wrote a work-blog post about the thoughts and inspiration behind it, but had to cut it WAY back to keep to an acceptable level of “AJ Rambles about History”.

The inspiration behind it (and the next blend) came about after a long period of reading about blending-trends through history (especially the Victorian/Edwardian periods), changes in tea-drinking preferences in the US and UK (the UK dropping interest in green tea in the 1800s following Robert Fortune’s ‘famous discovery’, and the US switching from Chinese green to Japanese green at the same time, before finally dropping interest in green in the 1940s following WWII anti-Japanese sentiments).

This bleeds into the green-black blending trends that fell out of fashion in the late 1800s/early 1900s following all of the above sentiments towards green tea. Plus the disappearance of a number of tea types out of China. Chief among, “Scented Orange Pekoe” and “Scented Caper”s, nebulous names for a group of teas scented with flowers, among them jasmine (with at least one example of jasmine later branching off into its own distinct ‘tea’). When blending-books talk about SOPs, they talk about them being a “blending tea” not a “sipping tea”, and that the flowers used to scent them vary season to season (but can include: orange blossom, osmanthus, olive flower, magnolia, and jasmine).

Most noticeably, no blend guide seems to make a distinction in their blends towards specific scents of SOP, and list it very generically. The way it’s written (both looking at outside blending guides at the time, and looking at internal records of tea companies) seems to imply that the specific scent of the SOP during any given season was simply “what you get is what you get”, and the blends that included SOP were expected to vary in aroma.

This entire thing is probably a subject I might write a full blog post on? Eventually? And to avoid making this tasting note too long. Because what’s a blog for if not to focus all the pent up Interest about a subject. But the entire thing kinda culminated after a supplier was nice enough to send me every floral scented and flavoured tea they had, including an orange blossom flavoured oolong.

Poet’s Blend ended up most similar to Library Blend, in that it’s jasminy and slightly more green-leaning, but lacks bergamot oil. The orange blossom oolong sort of replaces the bergamot for that citrus, but only barely—orange blossom I find barely qualifies as ‘citrus’. It’s a very heady, in-your-face floral, and I think pairs very interestingly with jasmine, though it’s a touch bitter.

As a result, this tea can be slightly finicky with water temperature and timing. But the orange blossom adds a very nice fragrance, and is noticeable in the taste when you slurp. It’s very “spring”. The black teas mostly serve as a soft base, adding just a bit of body. The green and oolongs are more prominent in the actual profile, and then the jasmine and orange blossom dominating.

I realize I haven’t tried this iced, but today’s cup is already cold (got distracted writing), and the orange blossom and jasmine comes through more already, so I think I’ll try and ice it this weekend.

Flavors: Grass, Jasmine, Orange Blossom, Rosewood, Vegetable Broth


Really interesting history drive. Are there sources you regularly turn to for reading up on tea history, or is it piecemeal from wider-lens sources?


Sounds delightful and I love the history you shared!


A little of both. Unfortunately, most old tea manuals are under 100 pages—closer to 20 if you convert them to modern formatting, and only have a chapter or so dedicated to blending (they usually come with the disclaimer that ‘blending can only be learned through years of experience’ and will give you fairly basic info).

So I collect a lot of piecemeal sources on blending, and refer back to several when topics of interest come up. Most books roughly cover the teas of interest during the day (whether their purpose in blending, or just a general summary). They’re old, old terms, so half the fun is trying to figure out what tea it’s referring to (if it even still has a modern equivalent).

Archive.org is definitely your friend.


So cool, thanks for sharing.


It’s always interesting to read about tea history! I read a book about the prevalence of green tea in the U.S. and the switch to black tea after WWII. Your blend also sounds nice. Anything with orange blossom gets a thumbs up from me!


That sounds like “Green With Milk & Sugar”, which was a really solid read.

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Disclaimer: I work for Murchie’s Tea and Coffee as a taster and blender. I will avoid putting any ratings on teas from them from here on out.

A tea-drinking transgendered Canadian, university graduate, majored in geology (yes, “rocks and things”). I take most of my tea made straight into a mug, although occasionally if I’m not in a hurry (this isn’t often), I’ll have time to sit down with a pot or gaiwan. It’s the highlight of a good day.

My notes are pretty disjointed because I’m absent-minded, and I also keep a teatra.de blog for reviewing and rambling about tea books/publications, and an instagram for photos. Expect nerding about tea production and history on both.

I’m a Doctor Who fanatic (Jon Pertwee, if you were wondering).

“But you should never turn down tea, when it’s offered. It’s impolite, and impoliteness is how wars start.” ~Eighth Doctor, Paul McGann






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