Tea Reports 2015 & 2016, Soliciting Feedback & Looking Forward

As many of you may have noticed the tea of the month reports haven’t exactly been on schedule. They’ve often gone longer than expected and I still have countless unfinished samples which I am trying to drink through. First things first.. I’ll be finishing the last two reports at the end of 2015, Taiwanese oolongs to age & the box (aka aged oolongs). While it may seem premature to brainstorm/discuss how to continue these sorts of reports, it often takes a time to get these together without placing extraneous orders. These reports are the most personal tea journeyish projects that I do on TeaDB, but I’d certainly be curious to solicit some feedback.

Tea, Tea, Tea, Tea!
Tea, Tea, Tea, Tea!

One Change

I’ll be lifting the month from “tea of the month”. They’ll now simply be tasting reports. Doesn’t mean they’ll end up being longer or shorter just that I’d rather these go as long as necessary rather than cut them arbitrarily at the 30-31 day mark. This will also prevent me from biting off more than I chew. I’ll probably line up a couple at a time and do them at my leisure. This will also give me time to finish off interesting samples, something that I’ve too often neglected.


One thing I will not do is push my interest level to other tea genres. The days of Japanese green tea reports and random oolong reports (sorry Dancong) are over. I’ll be leaving those to someone else who has a larger passion for these specific genres. For me, it’s not worth the money and not worth the time. I’ve got only so much caffeine that I can drink and I’d rather my energies be spent on my principal interests. Another area I’m feeling temporarily a bit burnt out is all the young pu’erh. My stomach outlasted my own endurance (a good thing!) and this momentary break into Taiwanese oolongs and aged oolongs will represent a nice change of pace.


I feel good about the repeat tea of the months that I’ve done this year for tea of the month. Things like the Menghai report are significant improvements over their predecessors. The Yiwu ones (1,2) were worthy expansions on the original report. It’s also interesting and fun to take a look back and see how my opinions (or the teas) have changed. Thanks to the recommendations and tea sent in, I think the reports encompass more of what those genres of teas can offer. That being said, I’ve also come alot further saturating alot of the western tea market. Tasting absolutely everything is not really a goal that I’m interested in. I also feel I have a decent idea where to place most pu’erh vendors at this point.

2016 Reports

Seasonally it seems most appropriate to do some darker tea in the cooler/wintery months of 2016.. Tentative plan is to do some sort of combination of ripe pu’erh/mature pu’erh/heicha (see below).


Would you like to see continued repeats of the area reports (i.e. Yiwu, Menghai County, Simao, Lincang)?

Would people prefer tastings to be done by a specific vendor (i.e. W2T, YS, TU), rather than across regions/areas?

More announcements of the specific teas being tasted so it’s possible to drink and compare notes?

Potential reports (please post what you’d like to see):

  • Aged Ripe
  • Lincang Ripes
  • Menghai County Area RIpes
  • Menghai Ripe Recipes
  • Mature Pu’erh
  • Heicha (probably deserves a regional breakdown)
  • Dayi Teas (i.e. mid 2000s Dayi)
  • Xiaguan Teas (hunt some better stuff down)
  • Stash Report (drink through stuff I’ve got stored. Might be better in 2017)
  • Vendor Reports (i.e. a vendor’s 2015 line)

Potential Pu’erh Areas:

  • Yiwu
  • Menghai County
  • Lincang
  • Jingmai
  • Jinggu
  • Elsewhere?

Any other feedback is also much appreciated. Please comment!

31 responses to “Tea Reports 2015 & 2016, Soliciting Feedback & Looking Forward”

  1. 1) We should have a collective taobao party, with a budget amount, and some means of selecting vendors and teas.

    2) I think people would have fun talking and thinking about tisanes and how to value them. Not teavana blends, but fancy kinds of mint tea, rooibos (see if there’s a valuable difference in grades or something), the various basil family tisanes, and of course, the more psychoactive stuff with the alkaloids.

    3) As for vendors…I think everyone would benefit from an investigation of Chawangshop’s selection of heicha.

    4) A video tour of someone’s teaware collection would also be welcome.

    • I have had my eye on Chawangshops heicha. There are so many that it would make a great tasting report, although it looks like lack of samples might hurt that project, unless the vendor was willing to break some up.

    • Shah,
      Psychoactive tisanes with the alkaloids… are you thinking of something that begins with the letter K?

      • khat?

        I would be talking about stuff like kratom, kava, coca, st. john’s wort among the more common stuff out there.

        • Yes I was wondering if you were talking about kratom. We sell kratom and kava kava at the shop I work at, along side with camellia sinensis

          • Kratom tea is by far the worst tasting tea ever drank. But no one rinks it for the taste.

            I second Shah in requesting a look in to ChaWang shops Hei Cha.

        • Perhaps Kuding? Though I know I get enough bitter drank from fresh sheng…don’t think it would be the best.

    • Hi shah,

      Thanks for the feedback. I like the sound of most of these.

      Taobao party is a great idea and a good way to start some conversation there. Will try to make that happen.

      Chawangshop & heicha is also a strong likelihood. I’ve been eyeballing their selection for well over a year now.

      Teaware. Should’ve looked at this before I went to Asia.. Will see if we can figure something out.


  2. James, your regional reports are a valuable reference point and updating them every couple of years is probably a worthwhile exercise as your palate matures (and as the teas evolve with time).

    On the ripes, as you know there’s a lot of truly awful stuff out there (I’ve just finished a run of appalling Haiwan ripes and even those were good compared to the Awazon house-label ripes I tried). If you’re planning a comprehensive ripe report make sure your health insurance is paid up :=)

    I’ll second shah8’s suggestion of exploring Chawangshop’s heicha. I’ve had some pleasant surprises there.

    • Hi hgshepherd,

      Appreciate the feedback. I’ll need to find someway to make the ripe reports more targeted and useful than the past one where I more or less drank everything laying around.


  3. Maybe it’s just me but using the region as an organizing principle is not that useful to me. I would be more interested in other ways of organizing the reports: by vendor or aged vs. young. Don’t get me wrong, I like learning about regional differences, but where a pu-er is grown does not primarily affect my buying choices. Also, you said you won’t be expanding the types of teas you review, but the occasional review of Yunnan black teas would be nice!

    • Hi Doug,

      Very useful feedback. I find the larger regions to be somewhat useful when I first started into pu’erh. Suspect you’re right for the most part as they don’t bear a huge impact on my buying decisions either.


  4. Set the studio up for an emergency review of this newly-listed heicha at Chawangshop: Chong Shi cha

    Description from the website: “Local people put medicinal herbs and old tea leaves into a bamboo basket and let them natural fermentation to produce aroma to lure insects lay eggs, after some months larvae eat the leaves and leaving the droppings there. People take droppings out and dry them in the sun, then fry the droppings together with tea and honey in the iron pan for 20 minutes so that the final insect feces tea is ready for drinking.”

    Finally, you’ll have the chance to drink something that shah8 hasn’t tried first!

  5. 1) Heicha and/or Laotian tea would be interesting.
    2) Comparisons and contrasts between mature raw and aged ripes.
    Thanks for all the great work James

  6. I am thrilled to learn that you will be moving back into oolongs, Taiwanese in particular! I would love to see more vendor reports from vendors with accessible, i.e., affordable, oolong selections because one of the most enjoyable aspects of watching TeaDB is being able to sit down and drink the same tea as featured in your videos. Such interactive experiences are especially enjoyable for those of us who don’t have any tea friends.

    These vendors in particular are both popular and affordable: Mountain Tea, YS, Eco-Cha, Beautiful Taiwan Tea, Taiwan Tea Crafts, Tea From Taiwan, ChaWangShop, Taiwan Sourcing

  7. 1. Heicha report or maybe heicha compendium, as there is so little information online (unlike puerh).
    2. Taiwanese oolongs report by vendor. I would be especially interested in Taiwan tea crafts, as they have large selection and allow 25g orders.

  8. A little late to the party here (had this idea earlier, completely spaced mentioning it). But I feel like you really ought to do something with blind tastings. I’m at a bit of a loss for what the format might be, but I think seeing this tea is from ‘place x/ vendor x/ price x/ whatever else x’ makes it impossible to objectively evaluate a tea, so I feel like it kinda needs to be done somehow. But I bet if you mentioned what you were doing, a lot of people would send you some blind samples. I know I would.

    • Hi Keith,

      Thanks for the comment and feedback. Probably a good suggestion! I have mixed feelings on blind tastings but it’s certainly worth exploring.


    • Hi Konrad,

      Thanks for the feedback. Unfortunately both of those do fall outside my range of interests. Will try to bring some onto the show though.


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