220 Tasting Notes
Thank you to Angel at TeaVivre for this lovely sample!
Dry: Luscious long twisty dark and dusty leaves with a few dark bronze pieces mixed in. I think of an elder tea tree when I look at and touch the leaves. There is an aroma of smooth malt, faint hay, and even a touch of cocoa. I’m already excited to brew it up because it smells like something delicious is going to evolve in the infuser (spoiler alert- it does!)
Steeped: Brewed Western style results in a clear brown liquor with a fairly complex fragrance of malt and dates with a hint of spice, and even earth. If I was blindfolded, I might wonder for a split second if this was a pu-erh before a sweet honeyed note with a floral background drifted up from the teapot. I bet this would be fantastic Gongfu style, too.
Flavor: This is probably the best black I’ve tried from TeaVivre so far besides my favorite Keemuns from them. Initially, there is something reminiscent of dates and molasses, chewy and dark. It is also naturally full-bodied and sweet with honey-flower notes, almost syrupy before it mellows. There is something in the background that is spiced and faintly earthy- reminds me of cedar when preparing to cook with it. My husband shared a cup with me this morning and he really likes it also. It resteeps nicely, though we stopped after 3. Overall, this tea is lovely, unique, complex and makes for an interesting tea experience. Definitely not your everyday Yunnan black- if you have the chance to give it a try, I’d highly recommend it. :)
Flavors: Cedar, Dates, Flowers, Honey, Malt, Sweet
I’ve already reviewed this one a couple of times, but as far as flavored teas go- it rocks my socks. Today it is malty cocoa and dark red (real) cherries, not the medicinal fake flavor that can be found in many products. With a 2nd steep, the cocoa becomes a more muted darker chocolate. This one is not overly sweet and is very enjoyable overall. I wish it was less expensive (and it calls for a lot of tea each use), but probably not one I’d want to drink every day anyway because it is not a commonplace blend. Hope everyone is having a good week!
Flavors: Cherry, Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Malt, Smooth
Unfortunate sipdown! I really enjoyed this tea. May need to order it at some point with Huang Shan Mao Feng, another one I really like. I actually just bumped the rating up on this one a little bit because it came out even better than last time. Tangy, sweet and savory both depending on whether this is your first sip or your last. It is very flavorful- almost fruty at first- and it was straight-up refreshing this morning. Also, these airy, fluffy, deeply colored leaves are so attractive. They remind me some of how cute WP’s Golden Snail leaves are.
After all the black/pu-erh steeping yesterday, I think I had way too much caffeine. Today I wanted something just like this with low caffeine. So thank you, Bi Luo Chun for helping me out. I re-steeped this one 3 times and it held up fine btw. And now I am going to go knead my made-from-scratch bread dough so I can bake a few loaves before the start of the week. There is nothing like fresh homemade bread and a good cup of tea. Happy Sunday!
Flavors: Fruity, Sweet, Tangy, Vegetal
Thank you to Angel at TeaVivre for this sample!
Let me preface this note by saying that I am a newbie to pu-erh teas. I have only tried a few before this one!
Dry: This came from a cake, but was mostly already broken up into smaller pieces. There were a few larger chunks that I reduced a bit before brewing. The black dry leaf is tightly packed, glossy, and bright. The smell from the sample pack is earthy at first, but reminds me of leather from my saddle after I take a second sniff, with a hint of a thick sweetness at the edges, like molasses.
Steeped: I wanted to brew this with the Western method, since that is what I most often use. When I brewed my last pu-erh and used Gongfu style, I awakened the leaves. I wasn’t sure if you still do this when brewing Western, but I went ahead and did a quick rinse before I fully infused. The leaves immediately started releasing their tannins and the fragrance intensified to sweet, warm dates. After steeping, the tea is a deep rich brown liquor and the aroma is even more potent.
Taste: My first sip reminded me of quality black coffee, but not because of the flavor. I drank coffee for years before I switched to tea and the texture and the hint of bitter/earthiness at the end of each sip is what awakens the memory. The taste itself is overall sweet with notes of worn leather, earth, dates, and even a hint of floral and tobacco. It is not a simple tea, though it does have that same smooth/serene nature as the Superfine Tan Yang Gong Fu from earlier (with an entirely different profile otherwise).
I brewed this with bottled Spring water and it resteeped wonderfully so far with the flavor remaining fully intact after 3 in a row. I can see it is good to go for at least a few more. While I am very thankful I was able to try it, I tend to avoid teas with notes of tobacco, earth, etc. I am giving it a high rating though because I try not to rate teas based on whether they match my taste buds, but rather that it was exactly as described on the TeaVivre website. I know there are others that would love this with the deep complexity released from the aged leaves. Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend! :)
Flavors: Dates, Earth, Floral, Leather, Smooth, Tobacco
Sipdown.. finally! I know this goes against the general opinion of this tea, but I just don’t find it to be anything to write home about. Honestly, I was disappointed when I first tried this and still even now because I am a lover of all things vanilla and this doesn’t fit the bill. Although the description says vanilla in aroma and taste, it is absolutely not authentic. Not Tahitian, not Madagascar/Bourbon, and not Mexican vanilla either. I would say after slowly working through 4oz, that the closest I can come to is a sugar cookie type blend with some artificial vanilla flavoring.
Sipdown.. finally! I know this goes against the general opinion of this tea, but I just don’t find it to be anything to write home about. Honestly, I was disappointed when I first tried this and still even now because I am a lover of all things vanilla and this doesn’t fit the bill. Although the description says vanilla in aroma and taste, it is absolutely not authentic. Not Tahitian, not Madagascar/Bourbon, and not Mexican vanilla either. I would say after slowly working through 4oz, that the closest I can come to is a sugar cookie type blend with some artificial vanilla flavoring.For what it is worth, my husband actually likes this, but he is not all about the vanilla like I am. He just likes having a sugar-sweet black for breakfast sometimes. Sadly, there are few teas I’ve tried that actually taste vanilla, but GO is my current go-to. Significantly more pricey ($12.50/oz) than the H&S vanilla ($1.75/oz), but actually utilizes real vanilla beans. I can’t afford to drink GO daily like I could with this one, but it makes for a very fulfilling treat when I need my vanilla fix.
Flavors: Artificial, Cookie, Sugar, Sweet
Thank you so much to Angel at TeaVivre for the samples!
Dry: Fine, airy, short tea leaves with significant golden pekoe that carry the aroma of baked sweet potatoes and fragrant grass hay. Do you ever take a whiff of dry loose leaf and have the knowledge that you will enjoy it before your first sip? That happened this morning for sure. The pekoe is bright and lovely even against the stainless infuser backdrop.
Steeped: Brewed Western style that produces a deep red-brown clear liquor. The thin leaves unfurl and become milk-chocolate colored in the infuser. The scent is malty-sweet with a honey aroma that develops as you keep inhaling.
Taste: This tea is very tasty without being overpowering. Delicate notes of malt and sweet potatoes that are very smooth and light on the tongue. This is not a heavy or thick tea, but rather one that gently envelops the senses with a sweet presence. I saw that some people detected astringency, but steeped at 1 minute, there is absolutely nothing brisk or bitter about it. I think this would be an excellent choice to help someone new to fall in love with Chinese black teas.
Flavors: Malt, Smooth, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes
Tasty for what it is and very pretty with the blue and white stars, gold candy bits, and mini marshmallows, but I prefer S’mores from DT if I get to chose a dessert tea. I enjoy this from time to time and it does have a caramel echo, but next time I order I hope to get a GINORMOUS bag of S’mores instead.
Flavors: Caramel, Smooth, Sugar, Sweet
Blerg. I’ve totally fallen out of love with this one. I originally was very impressed, but I don’t know if it hasn’t aged well or if my palette is more refined, but I am counting the number of steeps until I can move on to something else from H & S that I like better, like Florence. At least I still have some Paris to work on also, which is one of their best flavored blends, IMHO.
Flavors: Cocoa, Coconut, Malt
Oh this is a perfect tea for a cold and rainy afternoon. Soft, warm, a hint of buttery osmanthus and of course the gentle, inconspicuous milk note. The green of the unfurling leaves matches the few mossy things left outside in the fog that haven’t been swept away in the coming of winter. The aroma of the brewed tea is comforting and restful. I think I’ll have another steep or three (and it will be a re-order for sure). Stay warm, friends!
Flavors: Butter, Milk, Osmanthus
I finally finished the 4oz tin I had of this today. I honestly won’t miss it much. Since I’ve tried more flavorful Keemun teas from other vendors (I really like Keemun from Teavivre in particular), I don’t feel the need to keep this around. This tastes kind of like toast on steroids, but isn’t particularly full-bodied or complex to my palette. It was a good and inexpensive starter breakfast tea, but I’d prefer Scottish Morn any day of the week.