169 Tasting Notes


I’m very new to Oolong tea so I am not sure what to expect when I try each variety. Teavivre’s Tie Guan Yin “Iron Goddess” Oolong tea is fascinating by any distinction. I was struggling to put the wonderful flavor into words until I read the information about this tea on Teavivre’s web site.

Teavivre explains that this tea is from “an area with a mix of mountains, forests, and small creeks.” Bingo! That is also a great description of the flavors inherent in this tea.

The taste of nature is abundant in this selection. It is earthy, fresh, and woodsy. The flavor is not overpowering but just right. I steeped it for the recommended maximum time of three minutes and it was perfect for my tastebuds with no bitterness. It has a light golden color that underestimates the power of its flavor.

This tea would be great to sip all day. Teavivre says that it can typically be infused seven times. I probably won’t be putting that claim to the test today, but excuse me while I prepare infusion #2 for another four cups.

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drank Sapphire Earl Grey by Novus Tea
169 tasting notes

It is probably not fair for me to review this tea because I have to confess that I just do not like tea that tastes like flowers. Jasmine flavored tea almost makes me gag. However, since I took the time and made the effort to down a whole cup of this tea this morning, I guess I have earned the right to put my two cents in (you can decide if my two cents are worth that much to you).

I tried to clear my mind of all prejudices as I took the first careful sip. I knew immediately that I did not like the taste of the Malva flowers. To me, flowered tea is like drinking perfume. I like flowers in the garden and perfume on my woman, but neither down my throat.

Even more disappointing to me was that I did not taste even a hint of Bergamot. Perhaps the Bergamot presence was so weak that the Malva beat it into submission.

The advertisement on the tea bag wrapper states that the “Bergamot and malva flowers add an innovative twist to traditional Earl Grey.” Personally, I think the Malva flowers twisted the life out of the Bergamot.


Sorry it was dissappointing…….


That’s ok, Scott. I think I’ve been spoiled lately by the great loose leaf tea I’ve sampled. Thanks for checking in!

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I went into the office today, which sadly meant I had to be away from my Breville loose leaf tea maker. Even sadder, my only tea options were those of the bagged persuasion. My fiancee gave me a sample tea bag of Sorwathe Rwanda black tea to try so I decided to turn my misfortune into adventure.

This tea is Fairtrade Certified and an Ethical Partner Participant. It is also certified by the Rwanda Bureau of Standards. I wasn’t sure what all of that signified, but I was hopeful that it meant good things inside the tea bag.

I steeped this tea for six minutes at approximately 200 degrees. I figured that was about as high a temperature as the hot water button on the office Flavia machine could muster. The tea that resulted was very dark and almost brown in color. It had a thick appearance and taste. The flavor was overwhelmingly malt. Despite the strong malted dominance of the taste, I didn’t experience any bitterness. I like malt to be PART of the flavor of my tea but I don’t want malt to be the ONLY flavor of my tea.

In my humble opinion, the tea would be much more enjoyable and interesting if there were at least undertones of other tastes within. This tea isn’t terrible, but it is a one horse ride to Mediocreville.

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drank Golden Monkey Black Tea by Teavana
169 tasting notes

Yesterday, while we were out Christmas shopping at the local mall, I was again magnetically drawn to the Teavana store. My tried and true Teavana routine is to let the staff recommend what I should buy next. This time it was the Golden Monkey black tea.

After steeping this tea for three minutes at 195 degrees, a dark golden brew emerged. This tea is said to contain cocoa. I didn’t recognize chocolate in the flavor but this tea does have a nice sweet and malty taste. This is not one of the strongest black teas that I have tried, but there is sufficient flavor to satisfy my preference for the bold and beautiful.

While I enjoyed the milder but sweet and pleasing experience of this blend, I found myself longing for a scone or some tea biscuits to accompany it. This might have just been due to the throbbing of my sweet tooth. Or, maybe it was due to Christmas, the time of the year when sweetness fills our senses and our hearts.

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This tea is fascinating before you even brew it. The leaves are flat and green like shards of fresh palm leaves. The pre-brewed leaves also have a fragrant grassy aroma.

After brewing at two minutes (as recommended) using a temperature of 175 degrees, the tea had a pale yellow color. At first taste, I thought I was experiencing some bitterness. After several sips, though, I realized that this was just a floral and reedy aftertaste.

The more I slurped this tea, the better I liked it. The grassy, nutty flavor is light and strong at the same time. If you close your eyes while sipping, you can imagine yourself sitting in a lush green grassy meadow, surrounded by flowers and a thick forest, while a soft breeze swirls around you.

Although I’m not a huge green tea fan (I prefer the bolder black tea blends), I find this Teavivre tea likable and engrossing. For a green tea, it has plenty of flavor to hold my interest.

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I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about this tea. I never had white tea before and I shied away from it. My impression was that white tea would be weak and watery and not as robust as I prefer tea to be, particularly in the morning.

When I brewed this tea, I was still suspicious. Teavivre’s instructions to steep it for a maximum of two minutes made me think that I was going to have to really focus my tastebuds to find enough flavor for me to appreciate. I followed their instructions anyhow because the Teavivre black tea samples I tried were perfect after I went along with their recommendations.

After brewing for two minutes, the tea had the color of a nice white wine. When I tasted it, I was very surprised by the sweet floral flavor that flooded my senses. Although I can’t say that the flavor is strong (and this may just be a normal characteristic of white tea), I can say that the tea is delicious. A very pleasant sweet aftertaste was also left on my palate after each sip.

This is another terrific tea from Teavivre. Even though I thought that once I went black (tea), I would never go back, I would definitely select this white tea again for afternoon drinking. I’m also now curious about other white teas.

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drank Bailin Gongfu Black Tea by Teavivre
169 tasting notes

This is Teavivre sample #3 of 5 for me today. I’m already sad that I only have two more samples remaining.

One word describes the Bailin Gongfu Black Tea: EXQUISITE! This is another exceptional black tea. The flavor is full yet light and airy. A very pleasing fruity and flowery zing is at the forefront. Behind that is the presence of malt and a hint of sweetness.

This tea is a kaleidoscope of great, well-blended flavors. As with the other two samples I have tried so far, there is a terrific freshness to the taste of this tea, as if it were just harvested yesterday.

I continue to be amazed by the fabulous flavors and quality of Teavivre teas. I’ve already added two Teavivre teas to my Christmas Wish List. Bailin Gongfu Black Tea is about to make its appearance!

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This morning I was excited to try another sample of Teavivre tea. The Yun Nan Dian Hong Black Tea – Golden Tip did not disappoint me one bit. It has a wonderful, light, flowery, fresh fields taste to it.

So far, Teavivre’s black teas have amazed me with the great amount of flavor they produce at low brewing temperatures and short steeping times. I brewed this one for three minutes at 185 degrees as recommended. The result was plenty of flavor, although I think my worn out tastebuds may need about three and a half minutes of brewing to obtain the full flavor effect. Regardless, this is another excellent tea.

This tea has a bright light amber color like wildflower honey. There is also a hint of sweetness to the flavor that makes this selection refreshing for black tea.

I continue to be very impressed with Teavivre teas. They have skyrocketed to the top of my favorites list. I’m already counting the hours until tomorrow’s new sample!

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This is my first taste of tea by Teavivre. Samples of this and four other Teavivre varieties came in the mail yesterday all the way from China.

I have to say, I am blown away by the great complex flavors of this bold yet very gentle tea. It’s one of the best black teas I have ever tasted!

This premium tea has a wonderful woody and smoky taste that is fully realized, but not overpowering, after just three minutes of steeping at 194 degrees. I find that worthy of note because I usually have to brew black tea for five minutes at 212 degrees to wring a level of flavor strength from it that even approaches this fine gem from the East.

The rich flavors of this tea are very clear without any bitterness creeping onto your palate. The bright amber color foreshadows the outstanding tasting experience that awaits you.

I am excited to try another tea offering by Teavivre…TOMORROW!

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Yesterday I found myself back at the mall and once again I was drawn to the Teavana store “just to look”. I don’t know if the sales people are very good or I’m just an easy sell. In any event, this time I purchased the Slimful Chocolate Decadence blend. All you have to do is mention chocolate and my wallet seems to pop out of my pocket. This is my first experience with oolong tea. Following Teavana’s instructions, I brewed it at 195 degrees for three minutes. The flavor is an agreeable combination of chocolate and ginger. As Tamm commented, I did not see or taste the presence of rose petals in my selection. Maybe it’s because I’m not used to oolong yet, but the flavor power of this tea is weaker than my preference, particularly early in the morning when I’m trying to slap awake my brain and tastebuds. Am I sorry I purchased it? No. Do I like it? Yes. Will I drink it again? Yes. Next time, though, I will experiment with brewing it a little longer or adding more tea.

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I ventured into the world of serious tea drinking in the Summer of 2011. I started out slowly and gently with bagged tea but climbed to the incredible flavorful heights of loose leaf teas in October of that year. Once you go leaf, you never go bag (except when you get free samples)!


South Carolina, USA

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