318 Tasting Notes

88

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.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 OZ / 85 ML

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83

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. ;)

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 tsp 3 OZ / 100 ML

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83

Tea provided by Teavivre for review

First quick steep had a light body, and a nice mix of cinnamon, spice, fresh fruit, honey and crisp finish that I expected. It still tastes very much like typical fresh loose leaf white tea.

Gradually from the second on through my sixth steep, leaves of the tea cake unraveled and the liquor color darkened. It tasted less crisp and refreshing, but became sweeter and more mellow. Consistent flavour from each steep until my final sixth cup.

Trying a white tea cake for the first time was a wonderful drinking experience. I’ve only had fresh white tea before, and I didn’t expect this to taste any different. It was surprising to taste a white tea with a much heavier body and darker character. I think it’s a good tea to try if you already enjoy drinking dark teas like black and ripe puerh. It brings a nice balance between fruit and spice with a dark liquor and mellow body while still retaining fresh white tea’s charm.

Preparation
Boiling 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Tea provided by Teavivre for review

Dry leaf in the package smells sweet, like chocolate (didn’t expect that!)

First steep had a rush of flavours that I did not anticipate. It was a bold, heavy liquor with the flavors of mushrooms, wood, dark veg, moss and reminded me a bit of unsweetened chocolate. I expected it to be bitter (due to its age), but it was tolerable and somewhat went with the other flavors.

Second through third steeps increased in flavor but otherwise were similar in taste.

On my fourth through eighth steeps brought out a strange aftertaste. It’s hard to describe the exact flavors but the aroma brought back the memory of drinking dan cong oolongs. The aftertaste flavor took a while to develop, but on each subsequent steep (since fourth), the flavor was brought on sooner and stronger. It’s really weird for me to connect the flavor with dan cong oolongs, but that is where my memories of tea flavor keep pointing to.

Ninth to eleventh steeps were much weaker and less bitter than the rest, but the aftertaste flavor only increased. I don’t usually care to drink all of my later steeps, but I really enjoyed them with this tea.

Overall I was pleasantly surprised by this puerh. It’s very different from the other sample I was provided (Fengqing Ancient Tree Raw Pu-erh Cake 2014). I found the bitterness to be much more tolerable, and it dropped off significantly in the later steepings. Having experienced the aftertaste present from the fourth steep onward, I can’t imagine steeping this western style. Each short steep brought out many different flavours that I wanted to savour. If I were in a better situation to keep/store/age puerh I’d considering getting some of this tea. Admittedly I’m a fairly inexperienced raw puerh drinker, but this is one of the better puerhs I have tried.

Preparation
Boiling 10 g 3 OZ / 85 ML

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Tea provided by Teavivre for review

First steep tasted was fairly palatable. It was less bitter and bland than I expected. There was a bold, bitter vegetal aroma that lingered after sipping.

Second through sixth steeps brought out some enjoyable flavours- crisp vegetal&minty, pepper&spice. And some more subtle hints of plum and honeyed sweetness. By the third steep there was an intense flavour that generated a mouth-watering feeling in my mouth. Even though the bitterness was always there, I somewhat got used to it and appreciated the underlying vibrant flavours.

Seventh through eleventh steeps were milder in flavour and bitterness but not really to an extent that I couldn’t taste the same tea characteristics. My last two final steeps were much more palatable but lacked the punchy vibrant flavour I noticed in earlier steepings.

Overall It was an interesting experience to drink this sample from first steep through the eleventh. I knew the young raw puerh would be bitter, but I enjoyed the bold and vibrant flavours of the steeps one through six. I’m not an experienced raw puerh drinker, but each time I try some it helps me understand the appeal others see in it. Still, it was pleasant to drink a raw puerh that lacked some negative qualities that I have encountered before (such as being too smoky or flat).

edit: Since my tea session (~2hr) I’m quite ‘tea drunk’. Just making a note because it could be a pro or con for some. Sometimes my gongfu sessions are really intense afterwards. I always find it’s good to stay well hydrated (with water) when I’m done steeping.

Preparation
Boiling 10 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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80

Almost through my entire purchase of this tea (50g) and must say that it met my expectations.

There is a nice balance between nutty flavor and spices. The tea isn’t bitter or dry, it’s smooth and has a palatable “black tea flavor”.

The only thing I dislike about the tea is that it can be fickle to get just right, or how I like it. If you like a strong tea, it’s easy to prepare it that way. I am cautious about the leaf/water ratio because sometimes I mess up and brew a cup that’s too bold for me. My main concern with this tea was the potential for bitterness/bland body but my fears were unfounded. It turned out to be a very nice black tea and comes with it’s own interesting terroir (Malawi) that sets it apart from other teas in my collection.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 300 ML

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86

This tea caught my attention during my Spring 2014 harvest purchase. It’s a Chinese tea produced with the methods of FF Darjeeling teas. I love trying new (novelty?) teas, and this one exceeded my expectations. I’ve been drinking a bit of it on and off since my spring tea purchase two months ago, and here are my tasting notes from my tea session today:

Tea liquor has a medium yellow color, and the wet tea leaves smell like a Darjeeling tea.

Sipping from my single long steep, notes of spices and a rich fruit flavour really grabbed my attention. The tea body itself is light and refreshing, not dull or flat. It doesn’t really taste like a Darjeeling to me, but it has some nice similarities.

Overall I think the method they used to make this tea sets it apart from both ‘just a Darjeeling’ or ‘just a Chinese black tea’. The qualities of the terroir give it a smooth tea body, and the method imparts a unique flavor for a Chinese tea.
Worth a try if you love Chinese black teas and want something different.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 250 ML

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75

This arrived as a sample in my latest CS order. Usually I drink pure tea all the time (with the exception of rooibos sometimes at night). When I first got into drinking loose leaf tea I liked having chai. So it is a type of drink I like to have, but not something I’ve been craving lately.

I’ve prepared this a few times already with the generous sample they mailed, and today’s infusion turned out just as satisfying. The loose leaf tea and spices have a strong scent (heavy on the ginger and cardamon). Chai liquor has an agreeable black tea flavour that isn’t too bitter, and the spices taste energetic.

Overall I found it to be interesting, zesty, and not dull in any way. It met my expectations by not being bitter, bland, or too off balance.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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84

Tea provided by Teavivre for review

First and second steeps were similar. Nice light tea body with subtle vegetal flavour (like bok choy), some spice notes, and hay aroma (in a nice way). I’ve always liked how the Bi Luo Chun has a mix between tasting like a green and a white tea. Even though it’s been a long time since I tried Teavivre’s Bi Luo Chun sample, it’s distinctive flavour brought back fond memories.

Third steep brought out a lot of flavour; sweeter and a strong floral aroma.

Fourth steep had a strong vegetal flavour which was almost bitter/sharp tasting (like uncooked spinach).

Looking back on my notes from 2 years ago, changing the tea to water ratio can bring out some interesting differences. I used Teavivre’s suggested 4 grams and 85ml for short steeping. My third and fourth steeps were a bit strong, if I used slightly more water (100ml), it probably would have turned out a bit lighter and less sharp. Overall I like Bi Luo Chun but usually when I’m craving a light green tea I still go with drinking a Dragon Well. I’d recommend Bi Luo Chun to those that like white tea but want something a bit closer to a green.

Steep time: rinse, 30s, 50s, 80s, 100s

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 tsp 3 OZ / 85 ML

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86

Tea provided by Teavivre for review

To compare flavours, I short steeped Teavivre’s Premium Dragon Well and the sample they sent me of the Superfine version.

Starting on the second steep to sip (I didn’t want to sip from the weaker first steep), there’s a clear difference on my palate. The superfine version tasted much more vibrant, buttery, vegetal and had a creamier mouth feel.

The third steep tasted much the same. While still enjoyable, the premium version seemed weaker and had a flat taste.

Overall I enjoyed the superfine version over premium. I never noticed the nuances between the two until I had this side-by-side comparison. Usually I drink the premium version with a single long steep, and that yields a much more bold flavour. It’s also more economical of course. I think when choosing between the different types of Dragon Well sold by Teavivre, personal taste and budget preferences determine the most suitable tea. I’ve tasted their cheapest, “regular” Dragon Well and the premium version is still much better than that. Personally I like the premium version for my common green tea drink, especially if I don’t have the time to sit down and enjoy gongfu style. After this last round of tasting samples for Teavivre, I’m seriously reconsidering just getting superfine version next time. It’s slightly more expensive but much more satisfying.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 tsp 3 OZ / 85 ML

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Bio

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.

Location

Ontario, Canada

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