326 Tasting Notes


Tea provided by Teavivre for review

This is the final sample out of five I was given recently to try. Like with the other ripe puerh sample, I decided to short steep this 10 times as suggested on Teavivre’s website.

In comparison with the Menghai Palace Ripened Pu-erh Cake Tea 2008 that I tried last time, the first steep of this tea is actually quite different. It’s less earthy, more roasted/smoky and has a nice floral (rose) flavour.

Much of the sample had unraveled by the second steep, but it didn’t become overly bold or earthy. There was a nice bitterness and umami flavour that consisted through the ten steeps. I didn’t expect to like the bitterness, but it actually paired well with the earthy and umami. Towards the last couple of steeps, I mostly tasted tasted the bitterness, floral and roasted flavours.

Overall this sample impressed me a lot more than the other ripe puerh one. And out of all the riped puerh sold by Teavivre, this would be one of my favourite alongside their Aged Chenpi Ripened Tangerine Pu-erh 2009 (which I’ve yet to review, oops!). Even though there is a bitterness to the tea, it is palatable and enjoyable. I quite liked the characteristics of this tea, because most of the riped puerh I have tried are very samey and this one is more memorable.
That being said, this type of tea is an acquired taste. If you’re interested in trying ripened puerh, this is certainly one of the more interesting ones you can sample from Teavivre.

Flavors: Bitter, Earth, Roasted, Rose, Smoked, Umami

Boiling 9 g 3 OZ / 75 ML

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Tea provided by Teavivre for review

Trying the fourth out of five samples Teavivre sent me to try. At first I wasn’t sure which one I wanted to save for Chinese New Year. But considering how bitterly cold it has been lately, I put off trying the two ripe puerh teas. Having black tea is nice in the winter, but ripe pureh is so earthy, dark and heavy that it uplifts any thoughts of bad winter day I have.

There were no steep suggestions on the website, so I chose the gongfu steeping from another ripe puerh and steeped Menghai Palace Ripened Pu-erh Cake Tea 2008, 10 times.

First steep brought out all the flavours I expected; deep earthy, mellow, woodsy. The cake piece hasn’t completely unraveled yet.

Second steep really cranked up bold flavours. And the cake finally unraveled on the third steep. It was a bit stronger than I anticipated. Not in a bad way, but it’s a very bold ripe puerh flavour. It maintained a really bold flavour up until the seventh steep. Then flavour of the tea weakened a bit, and I could taste some more subtleties; licorice, anise, pepper, leather, herby. And finishing on the tenth steep, it had a bit of a nice sweet aftertaste.

Overall it met my expectations. Ripe puerh is always a good pick for resteeping gongfu style. It maintains its flavour over many resteeps, and it’s a very strong flavour.
There’s nothing that impressed me about the tea, but it didn’t have any negative or unwanted flavours either (aside from being really bold, which could be a pro or a con for another person).

Flavors: Anise, Earth, Herbs, Leather, Licorice, Menthol, Pepper, Wood

Boiling 9 g 3 OZ / 75 ML

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drank Osmanthus Oolong by Tea Ave
326 tasting notes

Tea provided by Tea Ave for review

Wrapping up my sample reviews for Tea Ave, I saved the Osmanthus Oolong tea for last. Sometimes I either really love or dislike flavoured teas. So I went into this tea session with much curiosity.

Sniffing the aroma cup, there is a nice scent of warm, sweet honey and butter. Tasting the liquor, the flavour of osmanthus is hard to ignore. It’s somewhat peachy in flavour and sweet. The oolong tea base has a much bolder flavour than the two previous samples I tried (Oriental Beauty and Li Shan). Together, the osmanthus and oolong are paired fairly well, it didn’t seem like either one was overpowering the other.

Osmanthus Oolong remained a consistent steeper up til my final fifth cup. I could have probably resteeped it more if I wanted to. That being said, I couldn’t really get into the osmanthus flavour. The tea flavour was ok, but my taste buds are still on the fence with osmanthus.

Overall I enjoyed this floral oolong more than I thought I would. But I do not enjoy the taste of osmanthus as much as I enjoy the scent of it. Sometimes I prefer a bold flavoured tea, but the pairing of bold oolong and strong floral taste was too much for me. This is the sort of tea I’d recommend for those that prefer a stronger tea. It has a good strong flavour that you don’t have to concentrate on to taste. Perfect for sipping while doing other tasks (homework, browsing the internet, etc).

Steeped as suggested on package 1m, 1m30s, 2m, 2m30s, 3m

Flavors: Butter, Floral, Honey, Osmanthus, Peach, Sweet, Vegetal

Boiling 8 g 4 OZ / 130 ML

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drank Lishan Oolong by Tea Ave
326 tasting notes

Tea provided by Tea Ave for review

Trying the second of three samples provided by Tea Ave today. Using half the sample to try their suggested steeping method (see my steep time notes at the bottom), and saving the other half for experimenting.

Comparing the aroma cup and first steep, there is a a buttery, floral scent with a bit of cinnamon. The tea liquor tastes very delicate and has subtle flavours. I tasted the expected light oolong base, floral, buttery and vegetal characteristics. There was also a delightful zesty peach flavour there as well.

Steeping through the other five cups, the intensity of the tea remained consistent. It peaked on the fourth and fifth cups, but it didn’t taste too bland or light on the cups leading up to it or on the last cup. The zesty peach flavour was present in all the steepings, and it lingered on in the aftertaste with the delicate oolong tea base. One thing I noticed is that each steeping was very smooth, so there was no bitterness, off putting aroma, or over-roasted flavour.

Overall I enjoyed Li Shan oolong tea. It met my expectations; it is a sold resteeper, a good representative of it’s type, and didn’t bring any off putting aromas to the table.
I’d recommend this tea to those that prefer delicate, subtle oolongs. It is a very satisfying tea when I slow down and give my attention and focus to each steeping, taking in the delicate flavours. For someone that prefers bold teas, this just wouldn’t meet your expectations.

Steeped as suggested on package: 1m, 1m20s, 1m40s, 2m, 2m30s, 3m

Flavors: Butter, Cinnamon, Citrus Zest, Floral, Peach, Vegetal

195 °F / 90 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 80 ML

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Tea provided by Teavivre for review

Trying the third black tea from a sample pack that Teavivre sent me recently. Yet again, I’m using short steeps as suggested on their website to taste test it. Black tea is often prepared western style with long steeps. I prefer to short steep black tea, especially if it’s of good quality because it will yield many good short infusions to taste.

Straight from the first sip, this tea blew me away. The flavours are far from what I expected. Just glancing at the name of the tea I figured, ‘oh ok, here is another yummy Yunnan Dian Hong tea to try’. Sipping the tea and smelling the cup, there is a distinct umami aroma. I’ve yet to try a tea I’d consider to be savory. There is also a very enjoyable woodsy, floral and roasted flavour. Also a bit of earthy, and mild sweetness in the background. The tea base mixed the savory flavour makes for a very bold first cup of tea.

On the third steep, there was more of an almost sour and tart flavour. It wasn’t strong enough to make my face pucker, but because it’s unusual to taste in tea it tastes strong to my senses. As I resteeped all the way to a seventh cup, the tea maintained a consistent bold flavour. It tasted a bit weaker on the sixth and seventh steeps, but the flavour and liquour colour is much stronger and darker than I anticipated.

Overall I was very pleased with this tea. I’d like to use the recommend option on Steepster for this one, but it brings such bold and unique flavours that I know that would be off putting for some people.
I’m used the word bold a lot to describe this tea, and even that doesn’t really fully describe the sensations it brings. It has a balance of potent flavours (roasted, woodsy, earthy, savory, floral, sweetness, spice, and tartness) that you usually don’t taste in tea. Usually if a tea is bold/potent it’s in a bad way, such as being off balanced, bitter, or too pungent (the opposite of what a well balanced, delicate tea would be). If I had to compare this tea with any other, it would be similar in sensation to a strong Sun Moon Lake black tea. Both of them have bold flavours, but still maintain a good balance and are not recommended for tea lovers that want a subtle tea.
On recommendations, I think the savory nature of the tea makes it a good one to sip during winter. Where I live it has been brutally cold the past couple of months. The bold savory characteristics gave me a pleasant feeling of cozy warmth, similar to what I feel when I drink strong chai or Lapsang Souchong.

Short steeping as suggested by Teavivre’s website: rinse, 15s, 25s, 35s, 45s, 60s, 75s, 90s

Flavors: Earth, Floral, Roasted, Tart, Umami, Wood

195 °F / 90 °C 7 g 3 OZ / 90 ML

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Tea provided by Tea Ave for review

Ever since Tea Ave contacted me to try this tea, a bit of hype has built up for me. So I had a lot of expectations going into my first steepings of their samples. Out of the three samples received, I started with Oriental Beauty. In my experience it can give you a really magical experience or be really disappointing.

For the steeping I decided to short steep as suggested on the packaging with a bit of personal adjustments (increase water temperature/reduced water/longer steep times towards the end). Tea Ave was also most generous in providing a sniffing vessel and cup along with the samples, so I used them in my tea sampling today.

Smelling the fragrance cup, there was a heavy honey/nectar smell. Sipping, the the liquor was delicate. It had a nice balance of the flavours I associate with Oriental Beauty; sweetness (honey/nectar), floral, wheat, and spice. The tea body didn’t have a strong/bold flavour, but it wasn’t flat or weak either.

As suggested on the package, I resteeped it ten times. The tea flavour changed quite a bit from the following steeps. On the second steep I got more a citrus flavour. Then on the third steep, more of a roasted flavour came out. Nearing the end on the seventh steep, the liquor tasted and felt really creamy in my mouth. Finishing off on the tenth steep, the tea retained a dark color, and I could still taste subtle characteristics from my initial steepings.

Overall this is the sort of Oriental Beauty that I have a strong preference for. It is delicate, subtle, and just sweet enough for me. I’ve tried the same style of this tea in the past, and I do not like the overly sweet ones as much. I really enjoyed how the tea flavours unfolded over the short steepings. So I’d recommend Tea Ave’s Oriental Beauty for those that enjoy sweet, but not overly sweet oolongs and also for those that like good resteepers.

185 °F / 85 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 75 ML

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Tea provided by Teavivre for review

Without smelling the dry or wet leaves, all my first impressions came from sipping the first steep. I was a bit surprising to taste citrus (or something that tastes similar). There was also a nice bittersweet chocolate flavour (not overly sweet) and a nice woodsy/earthy characteristic to the black tea body.

Each resteep was pleasant. I really enjoyed the blend of citrus/woodsy flavours. It only weakened when I reached the sixth steep. Less of the charming flavours remained, and more smoky/roasted flavours appeared.

Overall I thought Teavivre’s Nonpareil Yunnan Dian Hong Ancient Wild Tree tea brought out some interesting flavours I didn’t expect to encounter. The quality of the tea is present in the resteepings and the good balance of flavours. For tea preferences, I would recommend this to those that may usually find Yunnan black tea boring or average. But also to those that already enjoy black tea from the region, because it brings interesting flavours with a great tea base that you already have learned to love.

Short steeping as suggested by Teavivre’s website: rinse, 15s, 25s, 35s, 50s, 80s, 130s, 210s

185 °F / 85 °C 6 g 3 OZ / 85 ML

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Tea provided by Teavivre for review

For me, the timing of sampling new teas for Teavivre was perfect. I haven’t been writing on Steepster much due to problems with the website and also to drink through a lot of older teas I haven’t finished yet. And because winter has been especially intense for me this year (or it seems like it). I was thrilled to warm up with black tea and ripe puerh.

Starting with the samples I chose to short steep Superfine Keemun Mao Feng.

The initial steep was a surprise to my senses. Usually I expect a really strong rose/floral flavour from Keemun type teas. Instead I was greeted by a refined rose flavour, with notes of honey and a good black tea base to back it up. It’s difficult to put into words, but the difference between lower grades and their Superfine version is vast. “Everyday” Keemun has always been a bit too rough on my tastebuds, especially its strong rose flavour.

Sipping through the second through fifth resteeps, it maintained a consistent flavour. I was really impressed the overall balance of the tea while still retaining a deep black tea body (not flat or dull). The honey and floral notes, combined with the delicate nature reminded me of drinking white tea.

Overall, out of all the Keemun tea I have tried from Teavivre this is my favourite. I typically dislike tea with strong intrusive flavours, especially floral (rose). So this sampling was very satisfying for me to try. I always assumed that Keemun wasn’t really my type of tea until trying this version. If you prefer really bold floral flavours, the lower grades would be a better fit.

Short steeped as suggested by Teavivre’s website. 10s, 5s, 10s, 15s, 15s

180 °F / 82 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 85 ML

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Tea provided by Teavivre for review

I decided to short steep Silver Needles just after my Bai Mu Dan session to compare the two teas that Teavivre sent me samples of.

First steep was much creamier, and the vegetal, fruit, floral and spice flavours taste more balanced. I liked how part of the spices notes reminded me of cinnamon and raisin flavour.

Second through sixth steeps were all consistent in flavour. Perhaps due to the longer first steep, I didn’t taste an increase of boldness with each cup. All of the flavour I tasted in the first steep continued on with the same level of intensity until the fifth steep. The last two steeps (fifth and sixth), were weaker than the rest but it still tasted very much like Silver Needles and not just water.

Overall, I found Silver Needles to be a much smoother, refined white tea than Bai Mu Dan (as to be expected). Depending on your preference, having a consistent flavour across all short steeps can be a pro or a con. Personally I prefer being able to taste some changes between steepings. I enjoy the flavour of Silver Needles more, but Bai Mu Dan gives me more to think about.
When deciding what tea I prefer, having these tasting sessions close to each other really helps me decide based on the differences and similarities that I would have otherwise not noticed. If you haven’t tried sampling two similar teas side by side, or steeped one after another, I really recommend trying it sometime.

175 °F / 79 °C 3 OZ / 85 ML

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Tea provided by Teavivre for review

First short steep brought back all my lovely memories of drinking fresh Bai Mu Dan; crisp vegetal, fruity, and honey sweet flavours. It’s been a while since I’ve had this tea, but it tastes just as good (as I can remember).

Second steep had a more noticeable “fuzzy” feel on my palate. And the boldness of vegetal/fruit flavour became bolder and stayed strong from the second to fourth steeps.

Ending on the fifth short steep, it’s a bit faded but still retains a good flavour without becoming flat or too dry.

I’ve always been a fan of Bai Mu Dan. It is easy to prepare and its flavours are gentle on the palate. Depending on how hot my summer is, I sometimes like to cold steep it overnight to drink as an iced tea. So far my August has been rather gloomy in Ontario, but it gives me more time to enjoy gongfu tea and I’ve spent less time this year glued to my sofa in front of my air conditioner. ;)

190 °F / 87 °C 2 tsp 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Feel free to add me on Steepster, I’ll probably add you back. :)

I don’t log tea every time I drink it. Tasting notes tend to be about either one style of brewing or a new experience. It is helpful for me to look back on my notes and see what a tea tasted like or which steeping parameter worked best for me. I try to mostly short steep tea unless it only tastes better with a long steep. I’d rather experience what a tea tastes like over 3 or 12 steeps than just 1 to 3 long steeps.

When I write “tsp”, the measurement I use is a regular western teaspoon. Not a tea scoop

How I rate tea:

99-100: Teas that blow my mind! An unforgettable experience. Savoured to the last drop. I felt privileged to drink this.

90-98: Extraordinary, highly recommended, try it and you won’t be disappointed (and if you are, mail me the tea!)

85-89: Wonderful, couldn’t expect more but not a favourite.

80-84: Excellent, a treasured experience but not a favourite.

70-79: Good but could be better. Above average.

60-69: Average, unexceptional, not something I would buy again. Slightly disappointed. I’d rather drink water.

50-0: Varying degrees of sadness

No rating: Mixed feelings, can’t decide whether I like it or not, not enough experience with that sort of tea to rate it. A dramatic change of heart.


Ontario, Canada

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