1230 Tasting Notes


Back to work today, and this was my mid-morning cup. It’s definitely lost some of its flavour, but it’s still a good creamy peppermint tea. I’d like to say I feel refreshed and ready to work again after the easter break (6 days of quiet and calm…), but I could honestly have done with longer. Either that, or work just sucks. I did use some of my break to finish updating my steepster cupboard and getting through my backlog, though, so at least something is right with my world. I sorted out my actual cupboard, too, and was surprised to find that I’m not doing that badly in terms of older teas. My current total made my eyes water a bit, but I’m sure I’ll start getting through it soon :) A good enough day, but now I’m tired.

Boiling 3 min, 45 sec 1 tsp

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The last of my samples from Angel at Teavivre. I have a difficult relationship with oolongs, which is why I saved this one until last. The quality of the other teas I’ve tried from Teavivre ought to have reassured me that everything would be okay, though!

Finally, finally I’ve found an oolong I enjoy. Brewing, it smells buttery, milky and sweet. I gave it about three minutes in slightly cooled water, and the resulting liquor was a pale, pale yellow-green. Sunlight on leaves. The taste is a revelation. Unsalted butter, a smooth milky creaminess, and a hint of fresh green vegetables. It’s totally unlike what I’ve come to expect from a typical oolong — it actually reminds me more of a green tea, or a milk oolong. Declicious, delicious stuff :)

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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A sample from Angel at Teavivre. As I work my way through the samples Angel so kindly sent me, I find myself becoming ever more seduced by these teas. I’d heard a lot about this one, so I saved it until almost last. It lives up to the hype, I think.

I used 1 tsp of leaf, water about 190, maybe just under, and gave this one 2.5 minutes. The liquor is very dark brown, the darkest of the teas I’ve tried so far from Teavivre. It has a stronger, darker scent than I was expecting. I read leather in the notes below and thought “surely not”, but it’s there in the scent. Most definitely. Leather, a tiny hint of smoke, bread, and chocolate.

To taste, this is much as I expected given the flavours I detected in the scent. It’s strongly flavoured, with initial hints of baked bread (rye bread, I think) and grain. In the middle of the sip are the sweeter notes — there’s a maltiness I didn’t quite expect, a hint of cocoa, a touch of honey. The sip ends with the merest touch of smoke. Given that the flavours are quite “dark” and strong, I half expected some bitterness. There’s none. Neither is it even remotely astringent. It’s so easy to drink, and yet so complex and multi-layered. It’s difficult not to love it instantly. I drink a lot of black tea, and this one is just fabulous. One I will definitely add to a future order!

190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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A sample from Angel at Teavivre. The first thing that struck me about this tea was how green the leaves are. I’ve had quite a few white peony teas where the leaves have been black or close to it — these are a pale spring green, very fresh looking! There are a high proportion of downy white buds, and some leaves and twigs (some of them also slightly downy!) The scent is quite heavily floral, but sweet and delicately hay-like as well. I’m a fan of white teas in general, and I’m really looking forward to giving this one a taste!

I gave 2 tsp of leaves about 2.5 minutes in cooled water (about 170). The resulting liquor is a medium yellow-gold, and smells sweet and floral. To taste, it’s as wonderful as I’d hoped. It’s not as heavily floral as the scent would suggest, but there is a floral, almost orchid-like, note to the flavour. It’s naturally sweet, although not excessively so — it’s the sweetness of flowers on a summer day, straw, or spring grass. The sip ends on a slightly powdery note, with a hint of dryness.

As white peony teas go, this is definitely one of the better ones I’ve tried. I love how green the leaves are, and how delicate yet multi-layered and complex the overall flavour is. Fantastic!

170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 30 sec 2 tsp

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A sample from Angel at Teavivre. First cup of the morning, and another that’s easy to adore instantly. First off, this tea is beautiful to look at. A high proportion of the leaves are golden yellow, with some darker ones scattered throughout. Some are almost variagated, beginning dark brown and ending in a glorious golden tip — hence the name! Dry, I can smell a gentle nuttiness, which develops at the tea brews. I followed the recommended parameters for my first cup and let the water cool to about 185. I added the leaves, and left them for three minutes. I returned to find a dark brown liquor, and I have to confess that I added a splash of milk at this point. Naughty maybe, but that’s how I roll!

To taste, this is another rich, flavourful cup. These Chinese blacks have really surprised me, although I think the quality of these Teavivre samples has something to do with it. In any case, I’ll no longer automatically look to India when I want a full flavoured, full bodied black. In the initial sip, I get mainly nuttiness. This is followed by a truly amazing bready sweetness, and finished up with a sweet potato note. It’s smooth and slightly creamy tasting, with not the slightest hint of astringency. I could happily drink this all day! Another amazing tea from Teavivre — and another to add to my next order.

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

I really liked this one too. I just wanted to smell it all day! Ha! I ordered some yesterday. :)

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The second of my samples from Angel at Teavivre. This is another win with me! I drank my last cup of Tealux’s Jin Xuan milk oolong last night, and while I found it to be nice enough, it didn’t really make much of an impression on me. That’s why I chose this one to try this morning. It’s much better, and I say that after only a couple of sips!

I used half the sample (approx 1 tsp). Although the guidelines say to use boiling water, I did allow my cup to cool a little before adding the leaves. That’s the way oolongs have worked best for me in the past. Once it reached about 180, I added the leaves and steeped for nearly 4 minutes. The liquor is a pale yellow green, and smells creamy and mildly vegetal.

To taste, this is unbelievably smooth! It has a gorgeous buttery texture and silky mouthfeel, and it tastes DIVINE! For an unflavoured oolong, I was really surprised how well the milk and cream elements came out. Obviously there’s not as much there as there would be in a flavoured oolong, but what is there is very natural tasting. In the initial sip, I get a creaminess first, which seems to “thin” into a lingering milkiness after a few seconds. Then comes the classic “oolong” flavour — a grassy, mildly vegetal flavour, with a tiny hint of mineral in the background. The sip ends on a sweet note, formed from both the remaining milkiness and the spring grass flavour of the oolong.

I went back for a second cup straight away! I’ve never been much of an oolong drinker, but it’s teas like this that make me seriously wonder why not. This is one I would definitely include in a future order — I’d love to try the flavoured version to compare, too! Thanks again to Angel and Teavivre for sending me this sample!

180 °F / 82 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

I love this type of oolong, ‘tho I have yet to try Teavivre’s version. I’ll have to get it with my next order.


I agree with you on this one, and I have Tealux’s version too, which I liked best until this one came around!

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Off topic, but I bought a Dolce Gusto machine yesterday, primarily for my parents who drink a lot of coffee. The machine they were using is just abysmal, it drips, it takes ages to warm up, it makes frankly crap coffee when it finally gets its ass in gear. We have a pod machine at work, and I’ve seen the standard of coffee that it produces, so I was pretty sure this was the right thing for them.

I think I was right, given that they spent most of this morning practically dancing around it. Decent coffee, at last! It was a real revelation, I think. I’ll never be a coffee person, and my parents will never be tea people. That’s just one of our differences. It makes me happy that I’ve made them happy, though. Now they can enjoy their coffee as much as I enjoy my tea, and that’s a great feeling. I’m being over sentimental, I know, but I had to share :)


Out of curiosity I did some googling: wow! That looks like a super-futuristic space-age coffee machine! Are the refills expensive for the pods?


They’re about £3.60 for 16, which is 22.5p a cup. I guess that’s kind of expensive when you consider how many cups a bag of coffee beans would make for a similar price, but the consistency is far better. Compared to Starbucks, or the like, though, it’s really cheap. I suppose it depends how you look at things.

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So a little while ago, Angel of Teavivre invited me to taste some tea samples. This is the first I picked out to try from the selection she sent me. I was hooked from first sip. I’ve had one dragon pearl tea previously, but it wasn’t a patch on this one!

I used 4 pearls (which turned out to be exactly half the sample). The pearls themselves are really pretty — chocolate brown and cream — and the scent dry is of cocoa and hay. I added boiling water, and left them for around 4 minutes. The pearls completely unravelled in about two minutes, and I was left with a dark-ish liquor and the strong scent of chocolate.

To taste, this is really amazing. I was expecting something quite sweet, which I got, but it also has a real richness and depth of flavour. I get cocoa first, followed by a mellow nuttiness, and then an almost grapey, wine-like flavour to finish. I loved it so much I brewed the second cup straight away!

This tea has really made me reevaluate Chinese blacks, which for some reason I’ve always neglected. I’ve tried Chinese greens before, but I’ve nearly always chosen Indian teas when it comes to black. This one has made me think, though, and I’ll definitely be looking to expand my experience of Chinese black teas in the future!

Many thanks again to Angel and Teavivre for giving me the chance to try this outstanding tea!

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
Terri HarpLady

Although I love a bold Assam, there is always something about Chinese blacks that is alluring to me :)


I love these!

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I was in the mood for plain tea last night, so I had a cup from this sample pouch. I enjoyed it a little more than I did my last cup, maybe because I was just in the right place for it. I reduced the brew time a little, and was rewarded with a lightly grassy, pleasingly milky cup. Very enjoyable!

180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 15 sec 1 tsp

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I think a much, much shorter brew time is the best way with this one. I went with my instinct last night, and removed the bag after about a minute and a quarter. The metallic taste was hugely reduced (although still there a bit), and I found myself enjoying my cup a lot more than I would have. There was more grape and stone fruit flavour to be found, which are two of the things I enjoy most about darjeeling. It’s still not my favourite, or the best I’ve tried, but it was okay. Still not a restock.

Boiling 1 min, 15 sec

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Hi :) I’m Sarah, 26, and I live in Norfolk 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.


Norfolk, UK

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