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69

Thanks to Angel and Teavivre for this sample!

I really wanted to love this one, but it’s just not happening. I mean, it’s nice to sip on when I’m not thinking about it, but it’s not the delicious tieguanyin I’m used to. I understand this is a Taiwan version, but I’ve had jin xuans that taste more like tieguanyin than this tea. This tastes much more like mao xie (hairy crab) oolong than tieguanyin, actually. The sweet, potent florals of tieguanyin are pretty dull in this tea, and the added roasting just adds awkward charcoal flavors that make the taste seem unbalanced and somewhat stale. It’s really strong for the first couple steeps, too. I have to make the wash extra long just so I don’t have overbearing burnt barley and metallic flavors in the first steep.

The leaves and liquor have aromas that smell like roasted wheat and unripe fruits, mixed with some cooked vegetables and lots of grass. Actually, most of the steeps have a very grassy profile. Into the later steeps, things improve a bit with notes of asparagus and genmaicha, finally landing on some really vegetal qualities of tiequanyin. There isn’t much sweetness to this one, which seems to contribute a great deal to the unbalance of flavors. There are a few faint traces of melon, as well, and after sneaking a few peaks at some reviews of this tea, I agree with KS about the aftertaste seeming a bit like watermelon rinds. It’s interesting, but not the most satisfying.

The mouthfeel is common and uninteresting. It typically gets a bit creamy and slightly juicy during middle steeps, but it isn’t anything extraordinary. Most of the steeps end up being a bit dry.

Overall, this one is just “okay” to me. Nothing jumped out at me and the unbalance of flavors really threw things askew. I dunno, it just did not match up to all the other oolongs that I have tried.

Edit:
Based on the conversation with KS below, I tried this again with a method closer to the suggested style: 4g per 100mL at boiling, wash, 25",35",45". I’m not sure if it’s that much better, but it is different. I’m also not sure which I prefer, flavor-wise. There are definitely some new blends of flavors. There are more fruity nuances, it’s surprisingly sweeter, and isn’t as bitter as I was expecting for such a high leaf to water ratio. It certainly is more bitter this way, however. With these added dimensions, it feels a bit more balanced, but the body becomes more monotonous. I still can’t get past the charcoal flavors, which are even more potent. Now that this is more severe with this session, I’m now recalling that every time I’ve tried this tea, it’s given me a headache. :/ Sigh, this just isn’t happening, folks.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C
K S

Good notes on this one. After reading your review, I went back and read mine,then all the others. The reactions are all over the place. I noticed a lot of difference in steeping parameters. Of course there is also varying amounts of experience. I am a total nube at monkey picked.

I was curious your leaf to water ratio and your typical steep times. From your profile I am guessing you used a gaiwan? I have tried to understand the gaiwan method but have never liked the results. Yet you often get some amazing results.

I typically would use 2.5g with 12oz water in a French press. The time and temp I would have followed TeaVivre’s instruction.

Cody

Hi KS, I’ve tried this one using multiple methods, which is why this was the last of the samples from Teavivre that I logged. I usually prepare it gong fu style in a 100 mL gaiwan with around 2-3 grams of dry leaf. I do about a 3 second wash and my first steep is around 4 seconds.

I’ve tried this with many variations in water temperature as well. I think boiling, as Teavivre recommends, is too hot for this tea. The times I went straight to boiling during the first steeps caused them to turn pretty bitter if they steeped too long. I can’t imagine what the 7g per 3oz for 25 seconds at boiling (Teavivre’s gong fu instructions) would do… I still have some of the sample left, so I’ll experiment with your method and Teavivre’s method.

K S

I had the advantage of no expectations of what this should taste like and the thrill of a new adventure. So I loved it. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. I hope it doesn’t come off as me challenging or argueing with your comments. I am trying to understand if the parameters could have affected the experience. Apparently not.

I do the same thing you did, with other teas, when following the instructions doesn’t produce a good cup. Changing time, temp, or leaf to water just a little does usually make a difference. I just don’t have enough experience yet to anticipate what change will bring the best result. I have found, for me personally, Teavivre’s instruction have been pretty spot on even when it seemed all wrong. In fact, I often use their instructions on other companies similar products.

From what I am reading here, you did experiment and no matter how you approached it, this tea simply did not meet your expectations. That is fair enough. I do enjoy your reviews because they make me think. Thanks for letting me pick your brain, in a non-zombie way of course.

Cody

No, you didn’t come off that way at all! I was hoping someone was going to chat about their methods; it seems like everyone but myself absolutely loved this tea and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t crazy lol. It’s a shame I couldn’t try this one without any expectations as I’m sure it would have made a difference. I think it comes down to that roast. I find that when lighter teas are given the extra roasting and it doesn’t integrate perfectly, it’s a pretty big turn off for me. I’m sure that’s part of the reason I’m not as happy with this tea as others seem to be. I’ll play around with different methods tonight and let you know how it goes. I’m not giving up yet!

K S

I felt the same way about black fengqing dragon pearls. I liked it but seemed like I was missing out reading everyone else’s reviews. I tried several times and just didn’t get it.

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K S

Good notes on this one. After reading your review, I went back and read mine,then all the others. The reactions are all over the place. I noticed a lot of difference in steeping parameters. Of course there is also varying amounts of experience. I am a total nube at monkey picked.

I was curious your leaf to water ratio and your typical steep times. From your profile I am guessing you used a gaiwan? I have tried to understand the gaiwan method but have never liked the results. Yet you often get some amazing results.

I typically would use 2.5g with 12oz water in a French press. The time and temp I would have followed TeaVivre’s instruction.

Cody

Hi KS, I’ve tried this one using multiple methods, which is why this was the last of the samples from Teavivre that I logged. I usually prepare it gong fu style in a 100 mL gaiwan with around 2-3 grams of dry leaf. I do about a 3 second wash and my first steep is around 4 seconds.

I’ve tried this with many variations in water temperature as well. I think boiling, as Teavivre recommends, is too hot for this tea. The times I went straight to boiling during the first steeps caused them to turn pretty bitter if they steeped too long. I can’t imagine what the 7g per 3oz for 25 seconds at boiling (Teavivre’s gong fu instructions) would do… I still have some of the sample left, so I’ll experiment with your method and Teavivre’s method.

K S

I had the advantage of no expectations of what this should taste like and the thrill of a new adventure. So I loved it. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. I hope it doesn’t come off as me challenging or argueing with your comments. I am trying to understand if the parameters could have affected the experience. Apparently not.

I do the same thing you did, with other teas, when following the instructions doesn’t produce a good cup. Changing time, temp, or leaf to water just a little does usually make a difference. I just don’t have enough experience yet to anticipate what change will bring the best result. I have found, for me personally, Teavivre’s instruction have been pretty spot on even when it seemed all wrong. In fact, I often use their instructions on other companies similar products.

From what I am reading here, you did experiment and no matter how you approached it, this tea simply did not meet your expectations. That is fair enough. I do enjoy your reviews because they make me think. Thanks for letting me pick your brain, in a non-zombie way of course.

Cody

No, you didn’t come off that way at all! I was hoping someone was going to chat about their methods; it seems like everyone but myself absolutely loved this tea and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t crazy lol. It’s a shame I couldn’t try this one without any expectations as I’m sure it would have made a difference. I think it comes down to that roast. I find that when lighter teas are given the extra roasting and it doesn’t integrate perfectly, it’s a pretty big turn off for me. I’m sure that’s part of the reason I’m not as happy with this tea as others seem to be. I’ll play around with different methods tonight and let you know how it goes. I’m not giving up yet!

K S

I felt the same way about black fengqing dragon pearls. I liked it but seemed like I was missing out reading everyone else’s reviews. I tried several times and just didn’t get it.

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Bio

I’m fanatic about all things tea-related. Lately, I’ve been fascinated with Wuyi yancha, aged Taiwanese oolongs, and sheng pu’ercha. Nearly all of my sessions as of late are performed gong fu, with pu’er tastings comprising probably eighty percent of them. My collection of pu’ercha is small, but growing steadily. Much of the specimens I drink daily are various samples, although I dig into a cake every so often.

I love trying new teas and I am always learning all I can about the world of tea. Hence, I spend a majority of the time I devote to tea either drinking, writing notes in my journal, or reading. But mostly drinking, as I think it should be. Since I have handwritten logs of everything I drink, I cannot usually find the extra time to log my notes here, and unfortunately my online log is underrepresented.

When drinking, I look for a tea that presents a unique experience, something that involves every sense and provides intrigue in every aspect throughout steeps. I search for teas with balanced complexity and something that makes me keep reaching for my cup. I yearn to find all the positives a tea possesses and every subtle nuance hiding among the leaves. I try to be detailed in my notes and deliver a more comprehensive view of the tea, paying attention to things other than simply flavors and qualitative aspects of aroma, such as the form of the liquor and its development in the mouth. Things like this are much easier to compare between teas, as I find them to be more consistent between sessions, and also make distinctions between a good and mediocre tea easier to make.

Teaware
Adagio UtiliTEA electric kettle.
For gong fu, a 100 mL porcelain gaiwan and a 100mL Yixing di cao qing xi shi pot dedicated to mostly young sheng pu’er.
I drink all green teas in small (maybe 450mL) glass tumblers in the traditional style, with off-boiling water.

Location

Fort Myers, Florida

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