171 Tasting Notes

Backlogging and based partly on my memory

This is, I believe, a sample I purchased from Teavivre at the end of last year (2013).

I used my standard raw pu-erh brewing parameters while steeping it: 150ml gaiwan; start water temperature at near boiling and work my way up to boiling; 15’ rinse, 30’, 45’, 60’, etc. Stevia added.

The tea liquor had a nice clear, yellowish color, with the standard raw pu-erh aroma.

The flavor was what I have come to expect from a quality raw pu-erh, although it is not a flavor I particularly like or can get excited about—too fishy, sour, or like bitter greens (I got that phrase from yyz’s review).

Although the wet leaf was largely whole, I noticed that there were a lot of long stems amongst the wet leaf, mostly stems attached to leaves (perhaps that is standard, I haven’t analyzed the wet leaf of enough quality raw pu-erh teas yet).

Overall, having had a number of pu-erh samples from a a few companies over the last 6 months or so, I find Teavivre’s pu-erh to be quality—the leaf is more or less whole, the flavor of the tea is clean, and the tea liquor has a good aroma. This tea is no exception. I still consider myself a newbie when it comes to pu-erh (having been drinking it for about for about 8 – 9 months), especially raw pu-erh, so I don’t have much here to say about this particular tea. I was able to get four good steepings out of it, and it could perhaps have yielded a fifth. Although I did not find anything ‘stand-out’ about this tea, I think it is a tea I could drink on occasion as a kind of tonic for my digestive system.

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 5 OZ / 140 ML
Victor Saldivar

Hello, you seem to be very knowledgable about tea. I have several questions I would like to ask you. If you have time, I’d appreciate your response.

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I am working at doing these reviews a little more imperfectly, because otherwise it will take me FOREVER to review all of the teas I want to review.

I got this as a sample from a friend: thank you!

I am glad I had an opportunity to compare this tea to early spring 2014 Yunnan Sourcing (YS) “Sun-Dried Buds” Wild Pu-erh tea varietal I have brewed up a number of times so far.

This tea was harvested in the late winter/early spring of 2011.

The dry tea is very similar in appearance and aroma to the 2014 YS tea varietal: largish green and white cluster-like buds, with light-brown edges, with the exception that there were no brown twigs (as there was with the YS version), and the Mandala version was not quite as green-ish in color as the YS version (not surprising as the Mandela version is three years older). There was very little aroma in the dry tea buds, but not much less than the 2014 YS tea varietal.

I used my ceramic 180 ml blue and white gaiwan, Stevia, approximately 7 grams of tea buds, 7 OZ water.
I started at about 175, 1’ and increased the temp a bit and added a minute, for each successive steeping, and so far I got the 5 steepings.

The tea liquor has a very light, clear yellowish-green color; it has a very similar aroma to the 2014 YS tea varietal: reminiscent of a forest. The flavor is sweet, spicy, somewhat fresh, with a hint of pine needles.

To me, in many respects this is like a white tea in terms of delicate flavor, sweetness, and freshness. But because this tea is technically a pu-erh, my understanding is that it should mellow with age (rather then going bad after a year or two), and to me that gives it a HUGE advantage over any typical white tea. Although this tea does not come across as fresh as the 2014 YS tea varietal (which I expected), overall, I am impressed that this 2011 version of wild Yabao tea buds seems to be able to stand its ground when going up against a much fresher version. It seems to have as much flavor, aroma, and staying power over multiple steepings as did the 2014 YS tea varietal. This tea is considerably more expensive the the YS version, but at least I know this one stands up well after three years.

Flavors: Pine, Spicy

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 7 tsp 7 OZ / 207 ML

Awesome, I have been thinking about getting this tea, and your review is spot on to what I would want to know. Do you think since it is supposed to be more like puerh it would hold up to hotter temps, or would the flavor be destroyed? I don’t have any experience with dried buds done in this fashion.


Fun to see how this tea ages. When I get a fresh crop of it, I leave it sealed for the 1st year of its life. After that, I store in open containers in our pu’er tea vault and let them age with the rest of the pu’er. I learned that storage technique when I was in Kunming back in 2008. Neat to taste and smell the differences as the tea ages. And yes, the green freshness does change. But it turns into something deeper, with more caramel like sweetness rather than the green sweetness. At least that’s what I get with the aging.

Dang… tea is a blast!


Cwyn: I glad the review seemed helpful. Before I brewd this up, I looked at a number of reviews of wild Yabao tea bud varietals; I didn’t find lots of detail on how best to brew it (Mandala’s website states to start at 175 F for one minute, and then go up from there). Previously, I treated the YS tea varietal more or less as a white tea, brewing it very similar to Mandala’s website recommendation; if I remember correctly, I think I went fairly hot on the last steepings (190+), and still got flavor out of it. It seems this type of tea is pretty amazing in terms of how many steeping I can get out of it, and in how resilient it is to stepping temps. Perhaps someone else can speak to how well it handles near boiling temps?


Garret: I was actually wondering if this tea should be stored as any other pu-erh, and it turns out in your comment you already answered that question for me!

Still, I do have another related question: I am guessing this is raw pu-erh, as it sounds like there is no ‘accelerated fermentation’ (or whatever the term is when cooked pu-erh tea is processed) done with this tea? I want to know, so I know which types of pu-erh (cooked or raw) to store the wild Yabao buds with.


I did 6th steeping at near boiling, and a 7th at boiling (after the tea sat out all night) and there was still discernible flavor along with good aroma. So, yes, I believe this tea can handle boiling temps.

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drank Cloud and Mist by Mandala Tea
171 tasting notes

I got this as a sample from a friend: thank you!

NOTE: This green tea was stored in a thin baggie for a week or so before I transferred it to a glass jar to showcase it on our kitchen table—in a spot where no direct light or sunlight could shine on it ; unfortunately, it ended up sitting there for almost a week before I brewed it up (I was originally planning to brew it up the day after I transferred it). So the storage on my end was less than ideal. I judge that’s not a lot of time to be in less than ideal conditions; still, although it’s not likely it lost a noticeable amount of its freshness before it made it to my gaiwan, it is possible.

The dry leaf looked like medium sized, gently curled leaf, with a few thin twigs; it did not have a very strong aroma, making me think right away if this was likely a 2013 harvested tea (as of this writing, their website has no harvest date for this tea).

I am guessing there was approximately 6 – 8 grams of dry tea, I used my standard green tea brewing parameters in my blue and white 180ml gaiwan, Stevia added.

……….1st: ~175, 1’
……….2nd: ~175. 1.5
……….3rd: ~180, 1.5’ (normally I go to 2’)

The tea liquor had a clear light-green color, with a very mild vegetal aroma; I’m not certain about this, but it didn’t smell fresh to me.

1st steeping (Using Brita filtered water): distinctive vegetal green tea flavor (unrecognizable at the moment) with a bit of bitterness on the roof of my mouth (though not unpleasant).
2nd steeping (Using tap water): not much flavor, and what was there tasted flat and bitter. However, I finally got descriptor for the aroma of the wet leaf: asparagus. That I like. Still, based on the lack of flavor, I am going back to filtered water for the 3rd.
3rd steeping (Using Britta Filtered water; due to the bitterness on the second steeping, I kept the time at 1.5’): it tasted better than the 2nd, yet still with some bitterness. I judged there was no justification to go for a 4th on this tea.

The appearance of the used wet leaf is what is most notable about this tea. I have dissected the wet leaf of literally dozens upon dozens of green teas (I actually used to take pictures of them), so I believe I have much experience to draw from in terms of what I judge to be quality Chinese green tea. After the first and second steepings the tea in the gaiwan appeared to have a beautiful deep green color and looked to me like quality leaf. Yet, once I dumped it out on the counter and looked closely at it I was a little surprised at what I saw. Yes, I am detail oriented, and so those reading this may find this is a bit much, but to me there are several interesting things to note. Most of the teas I have had are what I consider to be artisan, single-estate, loose-leaf Chinese tea. I have found that the leaf of single-estate teas to be of uniform size and color (I believe the leaves of single-estate teas come from the same variety of bush, are all picked within a relatively small time frame, and are chosen by a relatively strict standard as to size of the leaf).

First off, although there were lots of stems, many of which where large (not too uncommon), there were a few nice looking buds as well. I checked the description on Mandala’s website, and its not clear if this is ‘single-estate tea’ or not (with leaf of the same age and type of bush), yet I don’t believe I have ever seen a whole-leaf Chinese green tea where the leaf varies so much as in this tea: there are a number of large army green colored leaves along with a few much smaller and much lighter green colored leaves. It looked to me much like some of Teavana’s green teas I have dissected in the past. Furthermore, this tea does not have the fresh appearance that the rest of the green teas I have been drinking this spring have (a few of the leaves in this tea looked shriveled). Although Mandela has harvest dates for many of their teas, because I didn’t see a harvest date on their website for this tea, I assume it is not of the 2014 harvest (harvest dates for green teas in particular are important, because most green tea looses significant value—flavor, aroma, and freshness—after about a year or so).

Overall, although I liked the aroma and initial appearance of the wet leaf, I was not impressed with this tea. The flavor was lacking, and there was more bitterness than what I normally find in a green tea. Still, it may not have ‘showed up’ for me for a number of reasons, perhaps due to storage, and perhaps because, as some green teas are, this one is finicky and needs to be brewed in a very particular way (a way I did not use). In terms of value, I judge this tea is very highly priced at $8/OZ, as there are at least a few teas I can find that are fresh and at least the same quality, for much less (even through English language online venders). Still, for a number of reasons, including potential storage issues, and because this tea is probably from the 2013 harvest, my final judgement on this tea is inconclusive.

Flavors: Asparagus

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 7 tsp 7 OZ / 207 ML

I would be curious about the taste when brewed cooler, 150-160 deg. Probably right might be last year’s, but it looks like a dragonwell in the cup. If it is a bit bitter, very often a cooler steep might yield more of a floral quality. Anyway I’m interested in this tea and your opinion is well written here:)


Thanks, Cwyn, for your response, and for your compliment. : )

I don’t write many reviews because when I do write them I like to be as thorough as possible (as well as being honest), and for me, that often means spending at least an hour putting my experience with the Tea into words in a way that makes sense and actually has meaning (for example, I spent much of my Saturday evening composing this review as I took in as much as I could about the tea). I really wanted to like this tea, partially because so far the other teas I have had from Mandela have been high quality, and also because of all the classes of tea, I am most passionate about artisan Chinese loose-leaf green tea.

I agree, cooler temps can sometimes help to manage bitterness in green tea, yet from my experience, bitterness often comes from over-steeping it (perhaps it would have helped if I started at 30 – 45 seconds instead of 60 seconds), or occurs because the tea is getting old.


Agreed, overstepping is one of the more frequent causes of bitterness. It is an issue at my house because I really short steep, 10-20 secs for just about everything except herbals. My son likes his tea strong and full and my preference is too light and short for him.


My wife likes our tea strong and full as well. When drinking a beverage, I also prefer what I call a ‘taste explosion’ in my mouth (for example, in terms of beer I love a really hoppy India Pale Ale and strong tasting stout like an imperial stout, and I’m typically not a big fan of lighter tasting beers like pilsners or lagers). Still, as I slow down and pay more attention to the taste and aroma of foods and beverages, I am becoming aware that there is a whole new world of subtle flavors underlying the bigger bolder flavors; I am experiencing this in teas (for example I am just starting to dig the flavor profiles of fresh spring oolongs) and in beers (any quality beer, whether IPA, lager, or stout is worth experiencing).

Perhaps over time both my wife and your son will begin to appreciate the subtler flavors in tea as well.


Very nice! I do agree that one’s palate does come into play across other beverage and food groups. I don’t have a great palate myself, of any particular talent, but with tea I have learned much from those with a better palate and greater experience. I email with a few expert folks on my tea steeping with particular teas, depending upon their expertise. They have helped me tweak what was an “okay” experience with a tea into a far better one. Now I am starting to get more confident and have ordered some very fine teas, but I have my email pals on stand by. I have to go slow and I document for them any issues and they help me tweak what I am doing accordingly. :) I am glad to be following your notes, for you are another good find as a person who takes care and uses a method when steeping.


Thank you again for your kind words. : )

That’s great that you have some kind so tea tasting support system in place!

I find that when I choose to really pay attention to the entire process and experience of brewing up tea and enjoying all it has to offer, it can be very time and energy intensive (especially when documenting the whole experience). I can easily get overwhelmed with the process. That’s why I only spend the time and energy documenting the teas that are notable (or the ones I have been given to sample). Still, when I do take my time with the Tea, giving it a chance to gift me with everything it has to offer, I find the time and energy spent is well worth it.

I’ll be interested to read the reviews of the fine teas you have ordered, and perhaps what your email pals have to say as well!

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Preliminary review

I got this sample from a friend. : – )

I estimate I used 4-5 grams, and I didn’t quite fill the gaiwan with water. I completed 6 Steeps starting at near boiling then moved to boiling water; rinse/30/60/90/120/150/~ 300; Stevia added; 150ml gaiwan.

Noteworthy: as I was looking at the wet leaf in my gaiwan after the first steeping, I noticed the little bit of tea liquor left behind had a consistency or viscosity I had never seen before: it was like it was silky, rich, and/or oily? Whatever it was, I believe it indicated there is more (complexity) to the liquor than what I have seen in the shus I have been drinking.

I don’t consider myself to be very skilled at nailing down flavors, so sometimes I look at the reviews of others to see if their notes strike a cord with me; as I have a hard time with describing the flavors of cooked pu-erh tea, I decide to do that this time, and from at least one review (MissB) I saw the flavor descriptors ‘cocoa’ & ‘earthy’; I definitely get those flavor notes (perhaps even ‘malty’). Furthermore, there were no off, musty, or odd flavors in my cup. The color is clear and rich, and what comes to mind is the color of mulch. I looked at the wet leaves, but nothing interesting to note other than the pieces are as big or bigger than any other shu I have had, and they were a very dark brown color.

I usually try to test the steeping staying power on the last steeping, and the length tends to be somewhere between 5 – 10 minutes; on this final steeping at approximately 6 minutes it still had flavor (although I used less water) and it had no bitterness what-so-ever.

Definitely one of the best shus I have tried. I have plenty of the dry tea left to do another session sometime.

Flavors: Cocoa, Earth

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 tsp 5 OZ / 147 ML

Gotta love it, Mandala really knows what they are doing when they select teas for their cake pressings!


Yum Yum!


yay! Thanks, guys – your compliments help me keep coming to work everyday! I loved your review of this tea, Joe! No one needs to be skilled at nailing down flavors to know if they are enjoying something and inspired by it. Sometimes, words can get in the way :) I should say, more often than not, words get in the way. Thank you so much for writing down your experience with this one. I loved it!


Glad you got something out of the review. : )

I also judge words often get in the way.

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Preliminary Review

Interesting note: when I bought this tea a few months ago it was priced at $4.00. Now it is $4.80.

150ml easy-pour gaiwan, boiling, using my standard times for pu-erh: rinse/30/60/90/120/360, Stevia added.

Yesterday I finally tackled the task of compartmentalizing all of my pu-erh; I decided to keep my sheng (raw) in a cardboard box that four Teavana teacups came in (the size of a small shoe box) and my shou (cooked) in a tall terra cotta wine brique with a cork top I found at a goodwill recently. Unfortunately, I found that this mini-cake almost fits in the brique. Then I thought, “Well, almost is not going to stop me from putting this cake in here!” Anyway, I had yet to try this tea, so I decided this was as good time as any to take some tea from the cake by trimming some off one ‘edge’ so it could fit, and then brew up the ‘trimmings’; in the process of trimming a little at a time while seeing if it would fit it turns out I had to take enough tea for about three steeping sessions; so I decided to brew up about 5-6 grams right away and then put the rest in a plastic bag (I plan to brew the trimmings sometime over the summer.)

I am sitting here writing this after the tea is all gone, as I wasn’t planning on writing this review. So, my observations here are general. Later this summer I plan to pay more attention to the flavor and aroma for a more thorough review.

This tea is different than any of the other cooked pu-erhs I’ve had: it was lighter in flavor, smoother, and even seemed to have a kind of fresh quality to it without any of the musty-ness that most of the other cooked pu-erh seems to have had. It wasn’t harsh, edgy or too fishy either, as I was expecting from reading about how young cooked pu-erh can taste. It had a beautiful reddish-brown color that was much lighter than the color of the cooked pu-erh I had just yesterday. This is my first mini-cake and I have to say, overall, I am impressed with the entire experience; it’s very different than brewing up a sample or a mini tou. I may try brewing this up in my Yixing next time.

Although I still don’t find cooked pu-erh to be something I would drink for pleasure, this is probably the best tasting one yet. As varied as I understand the selection of pu-erh teas to be, and as deeply rooted in Chinese culture as it is, I decided to invest my time and energy into exploring this class of tea hoping to unearth a least a few of it’s hidden treasures. For me this is a kind of long- term experiment, undertaken in large part because of how pu-erh seems to not only captivate tea enthusiasts worldwide but to hold their attention for a lifetime.

Flavors: Fishy

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 5 tsp 5 OZ / 147 ML

I have been working on the 2009 version of this tea and have laid in some of the 2012 for aging. With the 2009 I use 8 grams in my 100mL gaiwan with short steeps (10-15 seconds) and get a rich, balanced full bodied cup. I put it in a similar category to the 2009 Mengku Rongshi Golden Buds Ripe, flavor-wise, but less expensive. After reading your review I’ve decided to pull out one of the 2012’s and give it a try this week.


Glad to read you like the older version. I would be interested to read what you think of this one. I plan sometime soon to try doing steeps with a quality pu-erh for shorter times, as you mention.


Agreed this is a really good inexpensive cake. I have a few of these aging myself.

Terri HarpLady

thinking I might have to jump on the bandwagon…
As always, you guys are such a bad, or is it good?, influence on me, lol


Both Terri!

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Preliminary Review

UPDATE: I did three more steepings, the last one at about 6 minutes to test it’s endurance, and it help up well with flavor. The last one I didn’t add sweetener and I was more easily able to identify the most prominent flavor: hay. It’s not a flavor I really enjoy, but it’s not a bad one either. The fifth had a bit of bitterness such that I could feel the dryness on the roof of my mouth, reminding me of the dryness I experienced recently from a few red wines I tried at Trader Joe’s.

150ml easy-pour gaiwan, boiling, rinse/30/60/90/120/360, Stevia added.

I have tried this pu-erh at least twice now, and I think so far it is my favorite cooked pu-erh. Admittedly it’s one of the few pu-erh’s I’ve tried that is not a mini toucha or a sample. There is nothing off putting about it, the liquor has a very dark red color, a strong aroma, and a bold, somewhat spicy, flavor.

Right now I have been using a little screw driver to break apart the tea, but soon I will have these tools from JK Teashop; I can’t wait to use the real thing!

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

Wow: a pu-erh pick! Who knew?


Amazingly, while looking on-line I found it difficult to find some kind of a hand held, single hole punch on Amazon or AceHardware; they seem to come in sets, and/or are expensive, and I’m not even certain they would do the job of separating the tea as well as (I hope) the pu-erh pick will do. So, as you say, Who knew!?


I updated my tasting note, and fixed a duplication in the links. The second one was supposed to be a link to a pu-erh knife.


Good price on the knife! I got that same one off eBay for 3x more.

Terri HarpLady

I used a tiny screw driver for quite awhile before I finally broke down & got a puerh pick. Glad I did!

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Preliminary review

I believe this is the first tea I bought from Taobao that I have reviewed.

I used my 150ml easy-pour gaiwan with about 5 -6 grams of dry tea. Small amount of Stevia added.

This morning I opened the package and brewed it up. So far (we have done two steepings) it is everything I was expecting in a fresh dianhong. The dry tea is beautiful (although there is more black in the tea leaves than in the pictures) and aromatic (the tea in the package was brimming with freshness and smelled a lot like a fresh spring green tea). The tea liquor is not only flavorful but my wife and I both agree it is very smooth; there is some subtle ‘thing’ missing in the flavor that I have experienced in most Chinese read teas, something best left out: it is as if the flavor is unencumbered and can move freely and effortlessly about to surprise and delight me at will (I hope to nail this down a little better later). The tea liquor has a gorgeous caramel color, and it looks to me to have an oily texture (just as the description mentions). Glancing at the wet leaves, they seem to be predominately, if not completely, buds.

I had such a positive experience with Tea it inspired me to write about it. I plan to write more sometime later.

This is definitely a tea worth sharing with others.

Oh, and I love the tin it came in (it’s different than the one on the website).

Flavors: Caramel

205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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I steeped the remaining tea from the sample (about 5 grams) in my 150 ml gaiwan doing a wash and adding stevia on each steeping, water at boiling:
1st – 45 seconds
2nd – 75 seconds
3rd – 60 seconds
4th – about 90 seconds

I like the flavor. Somewhat cloudy orange-ish colored liquor, lots of little pieces of tea, no bitterness on the 1st steeping, but some on the 2nd (that’s why I backed off on the time on the third), none on the third, and just a little on the forth.

Managing the bitterness is the only downside here; I think this is a tea I could easily enjoy.

Until I get more of a reference point of what I like in a raw pu-erh, I am leaving off the numeric rating.

Boiling 0 min, 45 sec 5 tsp 5 OZ / 147 ML

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Brewing guidelines: Standard parameters when I brew ripened pu-erh in my 11 OZ Yixing.
……….15 – 20 second rinse with near boiling water, Stevia added thereafter.
……….1st: Near boiling, 0.5’
……….2nd: Boiling , 1’
……….3rd: Boiling , 1.5’
……….4th: Boiling, 2’
……….If 5th and/or more: Boiling, < If I do more than 4 steepings, I basically add 0.5’ for each. >

Overall: This was tea from a 14 gram sample from a pu-erh tea sampler I purchased at the end of 2013, and with each 14 gram sample I did two sessions each (cutting each roughly in half, or about 6-8 grams for each session), such that I did at least 4 steepings in each session.

As with all of the ripe samples I have been trying (probably about ten different ripe samples from a number of different vendors), this one tasted much like the rest: heavy, woodsy, with a flavor I enjoyed. This was a part of a cake, and I noticed even after the 4th or 5th steeping that much of the tea was still in a single ‘chunk’. This one seemed to maintain a dark color throughout the steepings, where most of the rest of the teas got substantially lighter by the 4th or 5th steeping. On the last steeping I did it for about 7 mins, and I noted that there was the slightest hint of bitterness in it (I didn’t put sweetener in it, and perhaps that is why).

One pattern that is emerging for me: on most days I seem to only have the time and energy for about 4 steepings, and those I usually do in conjunction while heating water for steeping another tea (usually a green tea). Perhaps sometime soon I will sit down and really pay attention to the flavors in all of these ripe pu-erh teas. I like to take things slowly.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 7 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Brewing guidelines: Standard parameters when I brew ripened pu-erh in my 11 OZ Yixing.
First I do a 15 – 20 second rinse with near boiling water. Then for each successive steeping I add Stevia to my 8 OZ clear-glass teacup (thus, typically not added to the teapot).
……….1st: Near boiling, 0.5’
……….2nd: Boiling , 1’
……….3rd: Boiling , 1.5’
……….4th: Boiling~(poured usually right after the previous steeping, so the teapot and water are as hot as possible)~, 2’ (if it’s the final steeping, then sometimes longer)
……….If 5th and/or more: Boiling, < If I do more than 4 steepings, I basically add 0.5’ for each. >

Overall: NOTE: I hope to ‘streamline’ my reviews going forward, so, hopefully, they are a little less technical and dry (and perhaps even stilted), and a little more organic and experiential (and hopefully, flowing); this somewhat new approach to reviews is a kind of metaphor for where my life is headed right now, and is one reason why I write reviews: as a kind of time-capsule of where I was in my life at that time.

This tea was a sample included in a pu-erh sampler pack I bought at the end of 2013. I have been brewing up lots of different ripe pu-erh teas over the last few months, usually over the weekends, steeping a different one each day in the hopes of determining which ones I like the most. I have not been as systematic about my overall analysis as I used to be (especially as I was with green teas); for example, mainly due the the time and effort involved I don’t compare/analyze the dry and wet tea leaf of ripe pu-erh as I have with other teas classes.

Although I am enjoying ripe pu-erh, somewhat sadly most all of the ripe pu-erh teas I have had basically taste the same to me (so far). I believe, over time, as my pallet gets more exposure to ripe pu-erh, the differences will make themselves known to me.

I finished the last of this yesterday, and all I really remember about this tea is that I liked the flavor a little more than the others. I don’t know, perhaps the word ‘Golden’ in the name is doing an unconscious ‘number’ on me. I don’t think so, though. The flavor seemed somewhat richer than the others, and the leaf was somewhat larger than the others. I will say this: I prefer the pu-erh with the larger leaf, if anything, because then it won’t slip through the holes at the end of my spout on my Yixing!

As I don’t really have a benchmark to measure from as of yet, I plan to leave off the rating on any pu-erh teas I review.

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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(Updated 6-3-2014)

After about three years I changed my avatar from the picture of a green teacup with steam rising (one I created using Paint) to this dragon gaiwan. This is one of my favorite gaiwans, although I haven’t brewed any tea in it as of yet.

You can call me, Joe.

What, How and Why I steep:

I typically expect, and shoot for, at least three flavorful steepings out of (just about) any tea I brew up.

I generally start at the times and temps below ( = minute(s), " = second(s) ), then add 5F and 30" for each successive steeping:
Chinese Green - 175F, 1’ ;
Japanese Green - 160F, 1’add 15F, then decrease by 15";
White - 160F, 2’;
Oolong - This varies;
Indian Black/Chinese Red and Herbals - a little off the boil, 2’; why do I start with such low temps & short steep times? So as to ‘spread out’ the flavor over multiple steepings. I have found this to work with every tea I have tried so far. Also, I am not looking for intense flavor in that first cup (i.e. Western style), I would prefer to taste it—and savor—it over many steepings.
Pu-erh - Beginning in 2014, I finally chose to dive into pu-erh! Standard parameters when I brew ripened pu-erh in my 150 ml gaiwan (I also own an 11 oz Yixing):
First I do a 15" rinse with near boiling water. Then for each successive steeping I add Stevia.
……….1st: Near boiling, 0.5’
……….2nd: Boiling , 1’
……….3rd: Boiling , 1.5’
etc. Until there is no flavor, or I ran out of time and energy.

I hope to ‘streamline’ my reviews going forward, so, hopefully, they are a little less technical and dry (and perhaps even stilted), and a little more organic and experiential (and hopefully, flowing); this somewhat new approach to reviews is a kind of metaphor for where my life is headed right now, and is one reason why I write reviews: as a kind of time-capsule of where I was in my life at that time.

Tea Rating scale:

1 – 29: There is no reason to even think about drinking this stuff again.
30-49: I may drink it if someone else brewed it up, but I would not bother brewing it up myself let alone bother buying any.
50 – 59: I like something about it, and I may brew it up if I already have some, but I would not buy any more of it.
60 – 69: I like a few things about it, and I may buy it if the price is right.
70 – 79: This is a tea I enjoy and would drink fairly regularly as long as it is reasonably priced.
80 – 89: A tea I will drink as often as I can, and will likely try to buy some when I run out (as long as it’s affordable).
90 – 99: This has everything I look for in the best of teas: beauty in appearance, a delightful aroma, and most importantly, depth and yummy-ness in its flavor.
100: Perfect.

My primary interest is in artisan loose-leaf Chinese green, red and ripe pu-erh tea, although I enjoy a white and an oolong tea every now and then as well. Here and there I brew a few of the other true teas and an occasional herbal.

Since I choose to live on a very limited income (‘Voluntary Simplicity’), I have to be very conscience about how much I pay for tea. In reading their Tea Enthusiast’s books, Mary Lou and Robert J. Heiss sold me on the wonders of artisan teas. Thankfully I have found that there is affordable, artisan tea out there; it’s just like anything else that has true value: it takes hard work, dedication and at least a little persistence to find it.

I came to tea out of a desire to find something to help calm and focus my mind as naturally as possible. My mind is very active, so to speak, and at times I find it very difficult to focus and keep myself centered. For years now I have been practicing Yoga daily along with others things to help me to stay relaxed and present, but I found I wanted a little something extra to help me start the day; the theanine in green tea seems to help me in this.

I have been enjoying loose-leaf tea since November of 2010.

I enjoy connecting with others about tea.

I drink Stevia with just about all of my tea (no sugar or artificial sweeteners).

I drink a pot of green tea every day in the AM (usually steeped three times over the course of the day), sharing it with my wife.

Each tea in my cupboard is carefully and colorfully labeled in a tin or in a jar that used to hold something else (I love to reuse things!) .

I have three teapots: a glass Bodum – I don’t use the metal infuser/press anymore (greens), a 16 oz glass Victorian (to brew greens and whites, and to use as a pot to decant other teas into), and an 11 oz Yixing (ripe Pu-erh only). (New in 2014) I also one a number of gaiwans ranging in volume from from 125 ml to 250ml.

I tend to be direct, straightforward and honest when I post anything to the discussion boards. I take the approach that everything I say is stated with the implied disclaimer: In My Humble Opinion (i.e. IMHO). I may occasionally emphasize this point, where appropriate. I view your comments in the same way. You are in no way obligated to read what I have posted. And I am in no way similarly obligated to you.

Sitting with my cup of tea I greet the day in anticipation of new discoveries along the way.


Midwest, USA

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