161 Tasting Notes

90
drank Black Dragon Pearl by Teavana
161 tasting notes

It’s Monday morning and I am back to work after taking Thursday and Friday off. I knew this morning would require drastic measures to get back into the flow, so I reached for this Black Dragon Pearl tea that my lovely wife bought for me this weekend at the Teavana store.

The sales pitch was that this selection is stronger than your average black tea. I planned to save it for those mornings when I needed shock treatment to return to the land of the living. And here we are.

When I opened the container, a slightly more powerful than usual tea smell shot out from the rolled dark tea balls inside. I had high hopes that the taste would follow suit.

I steeped the “pearls” (I used 10 for two cups of tea) for four minutes at 195 degrees as instructed. The brewed color was a muddy gold. The aroma was richly tea-like.

The flavor was like a potent English or Irish Breakfast tea. However, the taste was a little sweeter and more focused than those blended varieties. My first few sips also contained some bite which I initially thought was astringency. However, this was soon overpowered by the more robust black tea taste.

My head started to clear during my first cup which is always a positive sign for me. As I began my second cup, the well established flavor on my palate began to seem smoother and sweeter. The pseudo-astringent bite had all but disappeared. The sweetness began to identify itself as brown sugar. Also, the Yunnan flavor attributes emerged. The aftertaste did not have any bitterness.

All in all, I found this to be a very pleasant morning tea after the first few sips. I’ll determine how powerful it was at quitting time today when I measure my production for the day.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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100

My thanks again to Angel and Teavivre for this new tea sample!

Black teas are my favorites of all the teas. Their flavors tend to be more robust than some of the lighter color products. Also, I often need the extra kick of caffeine provided by the selections at the darker end of the tea spectrum.

I don’t think I had ever tried a “red black” tea, which is what Teavivre is calling this blend on the sample packet. I was intrigued and ready to go!

When I opened the packet, the rich odor was instantly recognizable as Yunnan tea, but with something extra. There were syrupy and fruity undertones that sparked my sweet tooth.

I steeped the dark leaves at 195 degrees for five minutes. (I don’t have a 194 degrees setting on my One Touch Tea Maker as recommended by Teavivre – but close enough!) Teavivre’s brewing instructions are always dead-on for my tastes.

The brewed color was a bright golden amber. The aroma was like a sweetened Yunnan tea.

I’m a purist when it comes to tea. I drink every selection straight-up without milk or sweeteners. However, I imagined the aroma wafting from my cup to be similar to what other Yunnan teas would smell like if you added a liberal spoonful of honey.

The taste was a well-balanced cornucopia of Yunnan, sweet, and fruity flavors. The overall flavor strength was full-bodied with all tastes expertly co-mingling in unison. The aftertaste was lightly sweet as it gently faded away. There was no astringency to be found.

As you probably have guessed by now, if you are following even a small portion of my reviews, I am a big admirer of Teavivre teas. I almost always appraise their selections very high on the rating scale. I find the exceptional quality and robust flavors of their increasing varieties to be consistently superb.

This red black tea is also a winner. The taste is outstanding. The flavors are potent without being overbearing, while also somehow managing to be smooth. It’s just another fabulous tea from the folks at Teavivre.

Flavors: Berries, Earth, Honey

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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100

Many thanks to Angel and Teavivre for this sample!

I am already a big fan of Teavivre’s Ripened Aged Pu-erh tea so I was looking forward to trying another selection from their Pu-erh collection. Pu-erh doesn’t seem to be everyone’s cup of tea (I confess that the pun was intended) because of its strong taste and smell, which some people liken to fish or leather. However, I like the exotic flavor very much.

I opened up the sample packet and pushed the tip of my nose inside to analyze the unbrewed odor. The smell was somewhat leathery (which I find appealing) with a twinge of sweetness.

I followed Teavivre’s recommended brewing instructions and steeped the long chocolate brown leaves and brick for eight minutes at 212 degrees. That seemed like a long time to brew (the packet listed the maximum recommended brewing time at 10 minutes!) but Teavivre’s instructions have never failed me yet.

The resulting liquor was dark brown in color (like other Pu-erh varieties). Interestingly, the brewed aroma was quite mild and unassuming. I had to place my cup directly below my nose to detect the faint earthy and leathery odor that I have become accustomed to with teas of this variety.

The taste of this tea is nothing short of excellent. The prominent Pu-erh flavor (you decide if it is fish or leather) is in the house but it is smooth, sweet, and exquisite without becoming overwhelming. The aftertaste is also rather wispy, floating on the palate for a few brief moments.

I thoroughly enjoyed this selection and am now in the process of wringing at least two more steepings out of this sample. I like this tea so much that I am tempted to have my wife (who gags at just the thought of anything Pu-erh) give this one a try.

In short, Teavivre has produced another sterling tea. If you LIKE Pu-erh, I am confident that you will LOVE this Pu-erh!

Flavors: Leather

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more 4 tsp

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68

Thanks, Angel and TeaVivre for yet another sample!

I’ve sampled several oolong selections in the past week and have already grown accustomed to their consistently less than robust taste. The flavors have never been unpleasant but mostly softer than I prefer, particularly in the mornings.

When I opened the sample package of this one, there was little to no aroma coming from the dark green tea buds. I deduced that this was a warning sign. I steeped the buds for 2 minutes at 212 degrees as recommended.

The brewed color was an extremely pale gold. It almost looked like a watered down oolong from last week. There was no odor emanating from the pot. These attributes were also alerts to my senses.

When I first sipped the tea, I wasn’t sure if I was tasting oolong flavor or my filtered water. There was very little taste that could be identified. As I sipped more of the brew, a faint floral essence appeared. However, I had to really tune in my taste buds to pick up on it.

If I had to label the taste of this tea, the term “ghost flavor” comes to mind. The flavor (what little there was of it) wasn’t bad or bitter and it was smooth. There wasn’t sufficient present taste to produce an aftertaste. This selection just did not have enough gusto to attract my interest.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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93

Thank you, once again, TeaVivre and Angel, for this sample!

I’ve sampled more oolong teas this week than I have for the past two years. I have liked them all but have found the flavors to be consistently sub-robust.

I opened the sample package of dark little tea buds and the aroma was very much like peanuts roasted on burning grass. It was not an unpleasant smell at all.

I steeped the buds at 212 degrees for two minutes as recommended. The finished color was a moderately dark-tinted gold. The aroma was nondescript but it had a roasted characteristic.

I was surprised when the flavor of my first sip was quite well-defined. It was smooth and faintly floral with a dominant but not overpowering roasted taste. The thought of roasted cashews entered my mind. Each subsequent sip also produced the very distinct and enjoyable roasted/floral taste. No bitterness arrived. The aftertaste also had a moderate roasted quality.

This is my favorite oolong tea so far. The taste is excellent, fairly powerful, and extremely smooth. This selection was very easy to gulp down. If you like teas with a roasted flavor but find the Lapsang Souchong smoky varieties to be too overpowering, you will LOVE this oolong!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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90

Thank you Angel and TeaVivre for this sample! I’m no expert on oolong teas but, thanks to TeaVivre, I’m getting plenty of exposure to them!

When I opened the sample package, the aroma that burst forth was like cinnamon. Another TeaVivre oolong that I sampled recently smelled like snickerdoodles and this one had a similar odor.

I steeped the dark green rolled tea buds for 2 minutes at 212 degrees as instructed on the package. The brewed color was pale gold. The aroma was again like cinnamon…or snickerdoodles! I may have to buy a box of snickerdoodle cookies for…uh…research…to verify that I am accurate with this comparison…yeah…that’s the purpose.

When I first tasted this tea, my taste buds didn’t immediately locate a flavor to identify. However, after about two or three sips, the sweet and slightly floral attributes began to seep through. This has consistently been my experience with oolong teas.

One half-cup of this tea later, I found the flavor to be quite mellow and sugary (just how I like it!) with a floral dash thrown in. There also was a faint and pleasant tea taste. No bitterness existed. The aftertaste was nice, sweet, and lingering.

Even though I prefer stronger and more robust teas, this selection is quite good when judged on its own merit. I would enjoy sipping it in the late afternoon or early evening when I’m ready to start winding things down.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec
Fuzzy_Peachkin

I swear I get more food cravings reading steepster than anywhere else. I need to bake up some snickerdoodles!!!

Stoo

I know what you mean, Fuzzy_Peachkin! I’m really craving snickerdoodles BAD now and I have myself to blame! :-)

K S

Stoo you cracked me up. I don’t even know what a snickerdoodle is but I want one… or nine!

Stoo

K S, A snickerdoodle is a cookie made with butter or oil, sugar, and flour rolled in cinnamon sugar. It’s great! You can get them in most stores in the U.S. Even nine aren’t enough to satisfy me. Once I start, I usually eat the whole box. I highly recommend them! Uh-oh…I’m starting to crave them AGAIN!!!

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90

Thanks again, Angel, for this sample!

I don’t have a handle yet on what makes a fine oolong tea. Until I do, I’ll continue to focus on taste.

When I opened the sample packet, the aroma was familiar. It took me a few seconds to identify it. And then I got it: snickerdoodles!

I steeped the twisted little dark leaves for two minutes at 212 degrees as recommended. The brewed color was a pale yellow. The smell was slightly syrupy and airy.

The flavor was light, a bit sweet, and extremely smooth. One thing I’ve noticed about all of the oolongs that I’ve tried so far is that this category seems to be devoid of the earthy and grassy flavor characteristics that I’ve grown accustomed to with black and green teas. This selection was no exception.

The flavor was not powerful but it was sweet, pleasing, and refreshing. No “tea taste” was present and not even a whisper of bitterness could be found.

This is an engaging oolong tea with a faintly sweet and pleasant aftertaste. I wouldn’t add it to your list of robust blends, but if you are looking for a light, sweet, and silky smooth brew, this one can’t be beat! Oh, and did I mention it is sweet?

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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90
drank Lu Shan Yun Wu Green Tea by Teavivre
161 tasting notes

Another thanks goes to Angel of TeaVivre for this sample!

I’m starting to enjoy green teas more in the morning than I once did. There are some mornings (although few) when I don’t need to blast off into my day fueled by the robust butt-kicking black teas.

I opened the sample package of Lu Shan Yun Wu green tea and instantly noticed a fresh to-the-ground flavor. I steeped the short dark leaves for two minutes at 175 degrees instead of the recommended 176 degrees (my tea maker can only deal with increments of five degrees).

The brewed color was a pale golden green. The aroma was fresh and grassy.

My taste buds are currently somewhat challenged by the attack of Fall allergies. That may be why it took several gulps of this tea before the flavor began to get my attention. The taste was fresh and green with just a twinge of sweet. There was also a smidgen of sweetness in the mild aftertaste. As with all of TeaVivre’s teas that I have sampled or purchased, this tea was totally free of bitterness.

This is a fine fresh-tasting and slightly sweet green offering from TeaVivre. The flavor is light and tender. It is also so smooth and easy to sip that I found myself gulping it down quickly. That is a positive attribute because I have tried other teas (that will remain nameless) where my eight-ounce cup seemed to hold eight gallons and I struggled to coax them down my throat.

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

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86

Thanks go to Angel of TeaVivre for this tea sample!

I prefer robust teas and find oolong selections to be a little lighter in flavor and kick than I need, particularly in the mornings. However, I am starting to enjoy oolong and green teas at those times when I don’t need to be jolted out of my morning stupor.

I opened the sample of this tea and was greeted by an earthy aroma and little rolled green leaf pellets. I steeped the pellets at 212 degrees for two minutes as recommended by TeaVivre.

The brewed color was light gold with a greenish tint. The aroma was slightly floral and grassy.

My first taste of this tea produced a very faint sweet, earthy, and grassy flavor. In all fairness, this is the beginning of Fall and allergy season here at home, and my sinuses are already being assaulted.

After a few more sips, the sweet, floral, and slightly leafy flavors became more pronounced. The tea was smooth throughout without bitterness. A very gentle floral aftertaste seemed to remain. Even though I live in the Southeast, where Osmanthus is said to thrive, I don’t remember running into it in my neck of the woods. I therefore would not be a good judge of the authenticity of Osmanthus flavor in this tea.

Although I initially struggled to register the complete flavors of this blend (again, this could be due to my allergy-challenged sinuses this morning), once I did, I found them to be quite pleasant, peaceful, and polished. I would enjoy sipping this selection in a tea room with friends on a Saturday afternoon while watching THE USC (University of South Carolina) football.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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91

This was another sample provided by the good folks at our local Provisions store. So far, I’ve enjoyed three other selections by this company and was anxious to see how this Pomegranate sencha (Japanese) green tea with rose petals matched up with the others. The word “sencha” means “simmered tea,” referring to the method that the tea beverage is made from the dried tea leaves (Wikipedia gets the credit for this definition).

When I opened the sample package, my nose was bombarded with a loud and very sweet fruity aroma. I didn’t detect any rose smells. Perhaps a rose by any other name WOULDN’T smell as sweet as this unbrewed tea.

I steeped the full green leaves and pink rose petals for four minutes at 175 degrees. The finished product was a light greenish yellow. A powerful fruity aroma burst up from the pot.

My first taste of this tea produced an extremely sweet and fruity flavor. I’m not a pomegranate connoisseur, but based on my limited experience with the fruit, the flavor of this tea was like the pomegranate that I remembered. I thought this was admirable since the ingredients listed on the package stated that it was “artificial pomegranate flavoring”. The fruity sweetness of this selection was too dominant for me to even notice any rose presence.

The very sweet fruity flavors remained strong and steady, but without bitterness, throughout my cup. If you like to add sweetener to your tea, I would recommend abstaining from it for this blend. I have a mouth full of sweet teeth and this tea tasted incredibly candy-coated straight-up.

The aftertaste was long-lasting but nicely subdued. I thought that was surprising considering the exceptionally robust flavors.

To sum it all up, this is another fine tea from Sandy Creek Herb Co. I enjoyed two cups of it very much. It even scratched my usual itch for something sugary like a donut or cookie to accompany my cups!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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Bio

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)!

Location

South Carolina, USA

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