1026 Tasting Notes

40

Final sample from Angel and Teavivre. I’m a beginner at Pu-erh, and a nobody when it comes to Raw Pu’erh. This will be the first one I’ve ever, ever tried. I’ve heard good things, though, so I’m actually pretty excited to dive straight in.

Fresh from the packet, the dry leaves smell of apricot and grape. There’s a deep, winey scent which is really appealing. The recommended parameters are 6-10 minutes at 212, and I’m going to go for the bottom end of the range for my first steep. I gave the leaves a short rinse before preparing my first cup proper.

First cup, and the liquor is bright golden yellow. The scent is very fruity; stonefruit generically, but I think apricot more specifically. To taste, it’s a completely odd duck. Initially, I’m getting quite a strong flavour of mushroom; quite nutty , a little damp-tasting. Then a smooth, sweet apricot note develops, which, frankly, is more than a little weird next to the mushroom. There’s a light astringency in the aftertaste, but nothing overwhelming.

Second steep is very similar to the first. The mushroom notes are a bit milder, but the same (quite jarring) contrast with the apricot is still there. The astringency is increasing, to the point where my mouth and throat feel quite dry after taking a sip.

I know this one is good for multiple resteeps, but I’m going to leave it here because I’m not really enjoying it. I have another sample of this one to try at a later date, so hopefully I can analyse what I’m doing and make some amendments. I think perhaps western style brewing is not the way with this one.

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 0 sec
Tealizzy

I’ve found puerh is best suited to the short steeps of gong fu brewing. You might give that a try.

Sil

also… if you don’t like the first few steepings if you do them gong fu, just toss out the first few… haha

Terri HarpLady

Welcome to the wonderful weird work of Sheng :)

TeaBrat

I would agree with tealizzy, I steep shengs for around 10 – 30 seconds. 6 minutes is way too long.

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90

A sample from Angel at Teavivre. I’ve drank a fair few white teas on my journey so far, but I don’t think I even really knew they came in cake form. Once again, Teavivre broadens my tea horizons! The pouch directions specify 6-10 minutes in boiling water, so (with trepidation) I jumped in at the bottom end of the scale for my first steep.

The liquor is bright amber, very orangey. The scent is honey and hay, very thick and sweet. To taste, I picked up a distinctive (and unexpected!) mushroom flavour, and a touch of of damp leaves. So autumnal! I was expecting something more reminiscent of your average white peony blend, but this is completely different (and delicious).

On second steep, the liquor is again bright orange/amber. The main flavour this time is cinnamon, followed by the deep, rich flavour of dried apricots, rounded off with smooth, sweet honey.

Third steep, and the liquor has lost some of its amber/orange colouring. It’s now a more “ordinary” red-brown. The scent is more like I’d expect from a shou mei, quite floral (peony-like), with notes of hay and honey foremost. The flavour is, again, savoury. The damp leaf flavour from the first steep has re-emerged, and is followed by a heavy floral note, then, right at the end of the sip, a tinge of raw, green wood. There’s still a light, smooth creaminess to the overall cup that I really like.

Fourth steep also has a reddy-brown liquor, very similar to the third steep. The scent is primarily floral, like an ordinary shou mei, but with hints of wood and damp leaf. To taste, the flavour this time is noticeably more delicate than previous steeps. The main note I can detect is wood, followed by a hint of cinnamon, rounded off with the floral, peony-like flavour I’ve come to associate with white tea. It’s a tiny bit drying in the mouth — not astringent or bitter at all, but a little powdery in the aftertaste. Mid-sip, the liquor itself is still smooth.

Fifth steep, again, results in a red-brown liquor. The scent is wood and an almost dusty floral. To taste, I can detect primarily peony. It’s a reasonably mild flavour all round, but still definitely identifiable as a shou mei. The drying, powderiness is still present.

Sixth steep, and the liquor is now more of a golden brown than a red brown. The scent is lighter this time around, but I’m picking up raw wood and peony. To taste, the main note is now just plain peony. I notice that the layers of flavour are diminishing a little with successive later steeps, although I still feel like this batch of leaves has a lot to give. The dryness I noted in my previous couple of cups is becoming more pronounced.

I’m pretty sure this one could have stood more steeps, but the work day is pretty much over. I’m not going to try and take the leaves home with me (lack of a suitable container, really) so it’s goodbye for now. I have another sample pouch of this one, so I’ll try and fit a few more steeps in next time. Given that it’s entertained me all day, though, I consider it great value! I’d definitely consider buying white tea in cake form in the future.

Many thanks to Angel and Teavivre for providing this sample. I really do feel like my understanding of white tea has improved since I started the sampler!

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 0 sec

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65

This was last night’s pre-bedtime cup. I haven’t drank this in a little while, so it was a real re-acquaintance. I used a smaller cup than normal, I enjoyed it a lot more than it appears I have previously. The cream and vanilla flavourings came out really clearly, and tasted wonderfully thick. The rooibos was a little woody, but toned down well with a splash of milk added. A lovely creamy treat, and one I’ll have to remember to revisit more often! I’ve increased my rating a little to reflect such a successful cup. I feel like I finally “get” this one now.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 45 sec 1 tsp

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70

I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t too sure about this one on first sip. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it three minutes in water cooled to approximately 180 degrees. Looking at the dry leaf, there doesn’t appear to be a huge quantity of green tea leaves. It’s mostly lemon verbena, and stevia, as far as I can tell. Perhaps accordingly, the liquor is a pale lemon-yellow. The scent of both the dry leaf and brewed cup is deeply lemony – like lemon zest.

To taste, I was initially disappointed to find the flavour very mild. Lemon sherbets are a strong flavour, with a kick of sharp/sour alongside the boiled sweet sugariness. This tea is much, much more delicate than I was expecting. There is a distinctive lemon flavour; very much like lemon squeezed into water. It’s mildly sour, with a hint of sweetness from the stevia. There’s nothing that’s really making me think “sherbet” though. Not enough of a tang!

I like this one as a gentle, fresh lemon-tasting tea. I feel a little disappointed that it doesn’t live up to its name, but I imagine it would be good iced as well as hot. I’ll happily drink up the rest of my bag, but it’s not one I’d repurchase.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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85

A sample from Angel at Teavivre, and the final flavoured white I have with me to try at work today. I agree pretty much with K S’s sentiments in her note — jasmine is one of those things that I have become leery of, primarily because my experiences so far have been largely disappointing. Strong, cloying, potentially chemical flavours, usually in bagged tea. I have since tried a couple of better quality jasmine teas, and they’re starting to change my mind, but none so much as Teavivre. Their jasmine just seems…different. Milder, sweeter, more grape like and less perfumey.

I’m seeing here the same silver needle base the other two teas I’ve tried today had. Pale, creamy green buds, very downy. I’m sure I’m seeing a dried jasmine flower in the dry mix, too. The scent is lightly floral — both the headier, perfume-like floral of jasmine, and the lighter, sweet hay-like floral of the silver needle. I used 1 tsp of leaves, and gave them 2 minutes in water cooled to 175.

The taste is very mild; much milder than the scent of the dry leaves would have led me to believe. This is fine with me, though. Mild jasmine is more suited to my tastes! It also means that the flavour of the white tea base still shines through, and that’s a good thing in my book. When the base tea is this good, why would you not want to taste it?! I’m getting the same fresh, clean cucumber flavour as I have with the last couple of Teavivre whites, and a hint of sweet, hay-like floral. The jasmine flavouring floats over the base tea like a scented cloud; it’s a delicate, airy, heady floral that makes its presence known without being overwhelming. I still probably wouldn’t choose a jasmine tea if left to my own devices, but I wouldn’t say no to another cup of this one. I think I knew it already, but both white tea and jasmine are going to be synonymous with Teavivre for me from now on!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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90

A sample from Angel at Teavivre. After trying the plain Silver Needle this morning, I decided to move on to the two flavoured blends she sent me. The silver needle in this packet appears to be of the same quality — pale creamy green buds, very downy. In addition, there are rose buds and whole chamomile flowers scattered throughout. The scent upon opening the little pouch reminded me of peaches — sweet, slightly floral, with a lovely juicy fruitiness. Amazing! It’s the scent of summer.

I gave just over 1 tsp of leaves 2.5 minutes in water cooled to approx. 175. The resulting liquor is pale green, with a hint of yellow.

The initial flavour is rose, in a kind of sweet, sugar-dusted, turkish delight kind of fashion. I think the sweetness comes from the chamomile — it’s almost honey-like, with notes of hay and sunlight. The two flavours sit well on the silver needle base, which is itself mildly floral, a little sweet, but mild and unobtrusive on the whole. There is a slight savoury, fresh cucumber note that I picked up on in the plain Silver Needle, but it’s mostly overwhelmed by the sweeter flavours.

I like the combination of chamomile and rose here. It’s sweet, delicate, not overpowering, and tastes wonderfully of turkish delight! What’s not to love? I also found it very calming during a stressful morning at work, so that’s another point majorly in its favour! Thanks again to Angel and Teavivre for allowing me to sample this delicious, sophisticated blend!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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90

A sample from Angel at Teavivre. I like white tea a lot; it was one of the first varieties of tea I really tried after black, and my initial enjoyment has stayed with me ever since. The dry leaf here looks exceptionally fresh – soft, downy buds, which are white and creamy green. No dried out grey/black buds here! I gave 1 tsp of leaf 3 minutes in water cooled to 175, and the resulting liquor is a very pale green, maybe with a tinge of yellow.

It tastes delicious. Cucumber is the first flavour I picked up; refreshing, cooling, slightly savoury. Then comes a little hay, which adds a delicate sweetness, and an almost thick creaminess. There’s a light floral note right at then end of the sip. It’s a smooth, eminently drinkable cup, with none of the “powderiness” I sometimes get from white tea. I reckon it’s going to be a fabulous resteeper!

Based on this first cup, I can safely say that Teavivre will become my go-to retailer for fresh, flavourful white teas. The leaves are so fresh looking (I’m sure the foil packaging helps with this), and the taste is so much more developed than simply “sweet water”, which is sometimes my impression of white tea.

Thanks so much to Angel and Teavivre for sending me a sample of this one. I’ll definitely be back for more!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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80

I find it hard to believe I haven’t reviewed this one yet. I’ve certainly been drinking it for a little while! I’m sure I did write a note, but maybe steepster ate it. Or maybe I’m just mad.

I used 1 tsp of leaf, and added it to water of about 175 degrees for 2.5 minutes. I was a little taken aback by the colour of the liquor; it was quite a dark yellow-green shade, a shade I usually associate with bitterness or astringency.

Fortunately, it has none of these qualities. Instead, the sweet cherry flavor comes through first. It’s quite mild, but there, and it’s reasonably true-to-life. Not overwhelmingly candy-like, or reminiscent of cough medicine. The toasty rice is the second flavour, and, again it’s pretty perfect as far as my tastes for genmaicha go. It’s toasted without tasting burnt, or bitter, and it’s not too overpowering. I had feared that it would disguise the cherry flavour altogether, but it doesn’t. The final flavour is the mild, sweet, vegetal taste of the green tea. It’s very smooth, and the “green”, almost slightly grassy, flavour augments the fruitiness of the cherry perfectly. I catch just a hint of creamy cheesecake flavour right at the end of the sip, but nothing more than that. It’s enough, though, and it really helps to round this one off perfectly. All elements present and accounted for!

While it’s not my favourite of the cheesecake genmaichas, this makes for a very pleasant cup. Banana Cheesecake Genmaicha will probably always hold that crown for me, and I’d want the cherry here to be a fair bit more prominent if it were seriously going to challenge that. Even so, it’s one of the better balanced genmaicha blends I’ve tried, and they can be hit and miss for me sometimes. Good work, Frank!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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100

Tried a cup without milk today, and it’s just as delicious and easy to drink. The sugary, candy-like sweetness is just beautiful, and the black base tea is light and smooth. It’s an airy afternoon sugar rush, and a definite addition to my cupboard.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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85

Second cup today, and this time I added a splash of milk. It’s much smoother this way, and the spices are a little more muted and a little less “dry” tasting. It still tastes like Christmas!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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Bio

Hi :) I’m Sarah, 25, and I live in Norwich in the UK. My tea obsession began when a friend introduced me to Teapigs a good few years ago now. Since then, I’ve been insatiable. Steepster introduced me to a world of tea I never knew existed, and my goal is now to TRY ALL THE TEAS. Or most of them, anyway.

I still have a deep rooted (and probably life-long) preference for black tea. My all-time favourite is Assam, but Ceylon and Darjeeling also occupy a place in my heart. Flavoured black tea can be a beautiful thing, and I like a good chai latte in the winter.

I also drink a lot of rooibos/honeybush tea, particularly on an evening. Sometimes they’re the best dessert replacements, too. White teas are a staple in summer — their lightness and delicate nature is something I can always appreciate on a hot day.

I’m still warming up to green teas and oolongs. I don’t think they’ll ever be my favourites, with a few rare exceptions, but I don’t hate them anymore. My experience of these teas is still very much a work-in-progress. I’ve also never really tried pu’erh, and that’s something I’m just starting to explore.

I’m still searching for the perfect fruit tea. One without hibiscus. That actually tastes of fruit.

You’ve probably had enough of me now, so I’m going to shut up. Needless to say, though, I really love tea. Long may the journey continue!

My rating system:

91-100: The Holy Grail. Flawless teas I will never forget.

81-90: Outstanding. Pretty much perfection, and happiness in a cup.

71-80: Amazing. A tea to savour, and one I’ll keep coming back to.

61-70: Very good. The majority of things are as they should be. A pleasing cup.

51-60: Good. Not outstanding, but has merit.

41-50: Average. It’s not horrible, but I’ve definitely had better. There’s probably still something about it I’m not keen on.

31-40: Almost enjoyable, but something about it is not for me.

11-30: Pretty bad. It probably makes me screw my face up when I take a sip, but it’s not completely undrinkable.

0-10: Ugh. No. Never again. To me, undrinkable.

Location

Norwich, UK

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