638 Tasting Notes
Happy Lunar New Year! I’m celebrating by drinking only Chinese teas today. This sample from Teavivre is first on deck.
The dry leaf is seaweed green, long and wiry. One thing I give Teavivre credit for is that the pictures on their website are consistently a fair and accurate representation of how the leaf actually looks. The dry leaf smells of fresh cut grass and honey.
Steep 1: 185f, 30 seconds. The wet leaf looks like steamed spinach and smells like… kale? asparagus? The brew is a green-tinted gold and smells like fresh peas. The mouthfeel is medium-thick and slightly dry. The flavor is light, sweet, and vegetal. It’s basically springtime in a cup, which seems apropos for the Spring Festival!
Steep 2: 185f, 40 seconds. This steep smells more cooked, like steamed spinach (although that might be the visual influence of how the leaves look). It’s still a green-tinted gold, darker this time. The flavor is vegetal with a bitter note. Kale maybe?
Steep 3: 190f, 40 seconds. Basically the same as steep 2.
Steep 4: 185f, 65 seconds. There’s a faint hint of roastiness in the flavor this time. Like roasted greens or maybe grilled asparagus.
Steep 5: 185f, 2 minutes. I think this is the end of what this leaf has to give. The bitter note is stronger, making the brew taste like kale. Incidentally, I don’t like kale. Teavivre says this leaf gong fus for three steeps. I maybe did not need to get more ambitious than that. :-)
Flavors: Asparagus, Kale, Peas
It’s cold and windy and rainy and TBH I’m semi-irrationally scared that the wind will blow my air conditioner out of the window. Mostly I am perturbed by the eerie noises that the wind is making and the fact that some of it is getting through the a/c. So, like any good Steepsterite, I reached for a comforting cuppa. Phi first exposed me to this tea when she sent me a sample (thanks, friend!). Then there was an ounce of this in our gift bags at the Philly Coffee & Tea Fest. I am trying to enjoy rather than hoard it but it’s SO GOOD and I don’t want to run out. It basically tastes like a cinnamon oatmeal cookie. This tea is just wintry comfort in a cup. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to put in some earplugs, curl up under a blanket, and try to sleep through (hopefully) the worst of this storm.
I had planned to attend my local march today. The conspicuously-timed stabbing migraine I’ve been fighting since yesterday morning had other plans. So I am stuck at home, trying to rest and not dwell on the frustration of having my body betray me or the guilt of not being in the streets with my friends and colleagues. What does one even drink on a day like today? Why, Butiki of course, for this is a day for dwelling on what we have lost and remembering what we still have. I’m pairing it with Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.
This blend has held up quite well. I may have added too much sugar to the first steep, resulting in an imbalance between the almond and maple flavors. I didn’t really get any waffle flavor, though there was a nice thick mouthfeel and no driness. I’m on steep 2 now and the flavor of the base tea has come out to play, sort of bready and just a touch bitter. This is a wonderfully soothing, dessert-like blend that I’m happy to still have a little of.
Honestly, I’m not getting a lot of pudding flavor or texture here. Instead, this tastes like a thin Mexican hot chocolate. It’s probably a mild-to-moderate kick of spice but I have an Eastern European palate so it tastes super spicy to me. A splash of rice milk helped smooth out the spice. I think whole milk would probably be great here to add some thickness and mellow out the chili flavor. Alas, I have none.
Flavors: Chocolate, Spicy
Sipdown! I could have sworn that I wrote a taste comparison between this and 52teas’ Coconut French Toast with Cardamom Maple Syrup, but now I can’t find it anywhere and I finished off the 52teas about a month ago so… either I planned to write it and never did, wrote it somewhere unusual and lost track of it, or accidentally deleted it, but the end result is that no such tasting note exists. Alas.
I drank most of this tea grandpa-style, with two balls in a 12-oz mug. I must have gone off script at some point, because I ended up with just one ball left. I decided to gong fu it. I’m five steeps in and still going. The first steep has a strong maple flavor. Subsequent steeps transition to primarily malt and cocoa notes. It’s good on a cold winter’s night.
I actually finished this off at least a year ago, but apparently never posted a note for it. I just found the beginnings of one in my drafts and decided to put it up for completeness. Initial notes: “The dry leaf smells like nutella and butterscotch candies. It brews up slightly darker than a Werther’s candy.” From what I recall, this blend tasted like nutella and butterscotch too. I remember it feeling warm and wintry and comforting. It wasn’t my absolute favorite but it was damn good.
I’ve claimed a sipdown for this before, but then I found another bag when I moved a few months ago. Alas, this time the sipdown is real. The blend is so old that I was worried the fruit would have molded or the coconut would have gotten soapy. Thankfully, neither of those things came to pass. Instead, this remained a sweetly strawberry and creamy coconut confection to the end. The nuttiness is largely gone and the other flavors require some sugar to really pop, but it’s a respectable showing for a two-year-old white tea blend with coconut and dried fruit. There are some good blenders out there right now but I have yet to find anyone who surpasses Stacy’s skill. I’m just grateful that most of the blends seem to have held up to aging well – I might still be hoarding a substantial amount despite my efforts to use it while it’s still good.
Edit: Upon review of my records, it appears that this additional bag came from greenteafairy in a swap we did two years ago. Apologies for the omission, and thanks for sharing!
Flavors: Coconut, Creamy, Strawberry