1367 Tasting Notes
Butiki Taste Testing Traveling Tea Box – Tea #3
I haven’t been writing as many tasting notes as I’ve been sipping a ton of unnamed things from the Butiki teabox that I can’t write tasting notes for. Many good teas there! I’m planning on mailing the teabox on Wednesday. For a name like ‘tiger’, this one ain’t that tough. This one isn’t biting. It’s very good tea, nice flavor, but sometimes I want my assam stronger. The leaves are very fresh tasting somehow. It is a very nice breakfast tea though. Perfect with pancakes. The second steep I accidentally steeped for over ten minutes and it tasted exactly like the first cup. I love that it doesn’t get that oversteeped leaves taste, but this one is just a kitten. I’d stock this in my cupboard to fit in the ‘light assam’ category.
Steep #1 // few minutes after boiling // 3 min steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 10+ minutes (accidentally)
Thank you BrewTEAlly Sweet for a bit of this one in your sale a while back. I LOVED the Steep City samples that they sent a while back, but the last couple I’ve tried I haven’t had much luck with. This one is back to deliciousness. The fragrance of the dry leaves coming from the white tea smells a bit like suntan lotion but the flavor combination really works… a candy coconut with something like buttery sweet cake or cookie ingredients. I can’t tell what exactly but this sure seems like a dessert tea. No roses in my blend though. White teas always make for nice pairings with dessert type flavors… I just realized. The second cup still had plenty of coconut flavor. I’ll enjoy the few teaspoons I have left!
Steep #1 // 30 min after boiling // 3 min
Steep #2 // 28 min after boiling // 3 min
Additional notes: I just wanted to try this one again to see if I was correct in remembering how much I loved it. Yes. I used half a sample pouch this time (should be around 5 grams) with a rinse and steeped for 3-4 minutes and this pu-erh is amazing. Last time I used an entire sample pouch (10g) which definitely wasn’t overleafed for me but I think next time I’d go with a leaf amount between 5-10 grams. I got three very delicious mugs from this steep session. I think everyone who tried pu-erh and thought they didn’t like it should try this one. I also think this would be perfect for people who don’t like their tea to be astringent. It’s amazing to me that pu-erh can be so dark yet so smooth. I’m really itching to buy a brick of this one. I’m thinking about it… ordering today!
Butiki Taste Testing Traveling Tea Box – Tea #2
I loved seeing a Whispering Pines tea in the teabox, but it didn’t look like this one had much love on Steepster. A Yunnan from WP without much love? What?
Steep #1 // a few minutes after boiling // 3 min
I did use more than a teaspoon for this cup accidentally, maybe that made the difference of me LOVING it. It doesn’t really seem like a Yunnan to me though, especially with all this smoke. Closer to a Lapsang Souchong than a Keemun even. This is a very dark cup – dark burgundy in color, so I’m not sure where the “light” flavor is coming from. It has enough bite to it, but it doesn’t seem like I overdid the leaves.
Steep #2 // a few minutes after boiling // 3 min
Another really nice cup – it doesn’t have the oversteeped leaves flavor. Maybe everyone just needed to use more leaves? But that would be more smoke than many people want to handle. Not too much smoke for me though!
Butiki Taste Testing Traveling Tea Box – Tea #1
I’m thrilled to have another teabox to try teas from! Technically, this isn’t the FIRST tea I’m trying from the tea box, but most of the box is full of samples that Butiki had and don’t really have a name to them, just a tea type. So my tasting notes might be slowed for a while, as I’m tasting things I can’t write notes for (though there will be a giant tasting note when I mail the box.) THIS one I can write a tasting note for though!
Steep #1 // 25 min after boiling // 3 min
I used 2 1/2 teaspoons though I was supposed to use three. I wanted to leave enough leaves for one more cup for someone else. For three teaspoons, the flavor is very light. Very good, but very light. It’s sweet and a little fruity. I couldn’t guess this was a black tea at all or really a Darjeeling but I definitely think I brewed it the right way. Not terrible but I think even my Darjeelings need more to them.
Steep #2 // 25 min after boiling // 3 min
This cup was basically the same as the other. I like this, but if I steep up a Darjeeling, I need a complex Darjeeling!
Headache so why not have the peppermint sample from Butiki? I probably didn’t use enough leaves in my small infuser for this one, as the flavor was good yet muted. There are so many peppermint leaves here that I thought there would be more peppermint (maybe my headache just needed more). There was also three types of chocolatey goodness in this blend but I really only tasted a hint of chocolate on one sip. I know what the marshmallow leaf should taste like and I wasn’t really tasting that either. Just a really yellow colored cup of mild peppermint. The second cup definitely was sweeter somehow, the marshmallow was to the forefront. I guess more leaves/ a longer steep time would really work better for this one. Next time I will use what is left of my sample that is probably closer to two teaspoons and see what happens. Maybe I was imagining this one at magical Butiki levels of awesome. I needed to try it though!
Steep #1 // couple minutes after boiling // 5 min
Steep #2 // just boiled // 10 min
The last of my new Teavivre samples to try! Once again, thank you so much Teavivre! The dry leaves look like the flat and long Dragonwell leaves, of course. Another strong scented leaf. I don’t think Teavivre could package their teas better. They leave the samples nice and pillowy so the tea doesn’t get crushed. I don’t think the air would affect the teas too much if you will be sampling them soon anyway. And then when you order, you get a handy reusable pouch around other packaging the teas are in. So nice.
Steep #1 // 37 minutes after boiling // 2 min
Another three tablespoon of leaves suggestion from Teavivre, but I’d rather go with two and a half teaspoons (half a sample) to avoid the astringency. I accidentally waited too long for the water to cool, but I was going for a half hour anyway. As to be expected, the flavor is light. But it is such a nice flavor. Sweet, creamy, fresh, nutty, buttery, a little fruity and that creamed/ breaded corn again. I guess all green teas taste like that. I thought it was just mao feng. I’m not sure if I could tell how much of a difference there is between this one and the She Qian.
Steep #2 // 30 min after boiling // 2 1/2 min steep
Of course the flavor is stronger again, but not at all astringent. So so good. There is a little bit of a mouth drying affect with this cup for some reason though. All of the green teas I’ve tried from Teavivre recently are similar yet have different characteristics. I’ve loved most everything I’ve tried from Teavivre so far, so it is so difficult when deciding what to order.
Beware this tasting note is a big one. I wanted to compare all of Teavivre’s Keemuns within a week, since they have some of the best Keemuns and I will definitely be buying at least ONE of them. I have written individual tasting notes for these teas in the past, but this review is to compare the four. I have acquired these samples within the last six months, so I’m not sure if they are the same harvests now. All of them will be steeped at the same parameters: two tsps // 10 minutes after boiling // 2 min steep #1 // 3 min steep #2
Premium Keemun Hao Ya $15.90 for 100g/3.5 oz
First steep: I knew that the leaves of my new sample were definitely going to be different than the sample that I had from around the time Teavivre started out (I can’t believe that was only three years ago!) Sadly, I think I liked my previous sample better. The only difference in steep sessions was that last time I waited 18 minutes for the water to cool after boiling rather than ten minutes, but I have since learned that ten minutes is closer to 194 degrees. This sample is slightly more astringent (maybe it would benefit from only using 1- 1 1/2 teaspoons), it loses that hint of smokiness, it has less of that deepness of flavor that translates to a dark chocolate. There is still a hint of plum or cherry though. And this is still a very nice tea. Previously, the Premium would have been my favorite. We shall see!
[[I also tried to recapture the magic of the previous harvest and tried a cup with 1 1/2 teaspoons and 18 minutes after boiling. This time the astringency was gone that the first cup had but I also wasn’t able to find the flavor depth and the chocolate that the first harvest had. The second steep a couple minutes after boiling for a three minute steep and that cup was pretty good too – not oversteeped at all. I’m sure all harvests will be different though, so I’d keep trying samples of the Premium once in a while to see if it’s one day the same.]]
Organic Superfine Keemun Fragrant $12.90 for 50g/1.75oz
First steep: The dry leaves are short, mostly black with touches of gold. This cup tastes similar to the Premium Keemun Hao Ya, but everything about the flavor is lighter. The fragrance of the cup has a hint of plum, but less plum than the Premium. It also has an astringency that translates to the chocolate flavor, but the astringency is much less than the Premium, therefore there is less chocolate flavor than the Premium. No hints of smoke are to be found in this cup, but I like my keemun to have a bit of smoke. There is a flavor to this one that isn’t found in the others that I can’t place – something like wine or muscatel. It isn’t a strong muscatel, not like a darjeeling. Very unique.
Second steep: This cup is also very nice but it has that hint of flavor like it’s oversteeped: the tree bark-like flavor. I probably shouldn’t have steeped this cup for three minutes. Not astringent at all though, just the tree bark flavor. So the Superfine Keemun has less of a bite than the others, if that is what you’re looking for.
Keemun – Grade 2 $8.90 for 100g/3.5 oz
First steep: I expected a CTC leaf, very low quality, very astringent. This tea is NONE of those things. I’d say this one is closer to the astringency strength of the Organic Superfine Keemun (the Premium and Grade #1 seem like a stronger tea). It just lacks the little hints of flavor that make the Superfine special, what I call the wine-like flavor or the muscatel. This had the same level of chocolate as the Organic Superfine. A nice burgundy cup while the dry leaves look like the same shape as the others, but they don’t have that hint of gold.
Second steep: This cup loses a lot of flavor and its replaced with that oversteeped tree flavor I don’t like. Maybe the second steeps shouldn’t be steeped for three minutes. But I guess I’m judging by first steeps anyway. An amazing cup for this price – much better than I expected.
Keemun – Grade 1 $11.90 for 100g/3.5 oz
I’m trying this one again last of the four. Even though I had it recently, I vaguely remembered the flavor and I had the feeling it would be my favorite of the four. It just happens to be the keemun for me though, it’s probably different for everyone! The dry leaves are all black. I guess the Superfine is the only one with the hints of gold leaf. For me, sometimes the astringency/ strength/ briskness/ bite / whatever you want to call it is the most important thing. This one to me could win just on the strength of the flavor. The Superfine and the Grade #2 have a lighter strength. The Premium is probably closer to this one in strength. But I know that others that have more knowledge on tea would appreciate the lightness and the special flavor hints that the Superfine has. Not me, not right now though. Maybe one day. This one has a depth to it that I love, but it’s also very sweet and chocolatey.
Second steep: This one has less of the “oversteeped leaves” flavor on the second cup, so I also like it for that. It was a bit more astringent though. If the new batch of the Premium keemun still had more of the hints of plum, I’d probably buy that one, but I think this one is currently my favorite.
OVERALL You can’t really go wrong with any of these. Any tea collection should have a nice keemun and any of these would do nicely. I can say I like them all. I have no idea how they figure out the grades for these four teas. They are all similar, but there are little things with all of them that make them slightly different. None of them really have any smoky flavor, so if that’s you’re thing, you should be safe with all of these. I do like to have a keemun I have in stock to have a bit of smoke, as I feel like that is the main characteristic of keemun. These are all amazing for a black tea anyway. I can’t live without at least ONE of them. I think all four of them are unique from any other tea I’ve tried yet. I’m very appreciative that I was able to try them before buying!
Another one from Teavivre! thank you so much! I really wanted to try this one. Peach AND jasmine! It sounded like the best combination for a hot day.
Steep #1 // 20 min after boiling // 2 min
I used one teaspoon as Teavivre suggests. I’m not sure if I was supposed to rinse, but I didn’t. I wanted as much lovely flavor as possible. The dry leaves don’t have a particularly strong fragrance (I’d say some of the dry leaves of their fresh green teas have MUCH more of a scent to them.) But what I can smell from this tea, it does have a hint of sweet ripe peach and a hint of jasmine. The flavor itself has about the same flavor strength as the scent – a little peach and a little jasmine. There is a butteriness from the green tea. The flavor gets stronger as it cools. This might also be another good one iced.
Steep #2 // 20 min after boiling // 3 min
This cup has a lot more flavor! This type of green tea has a satisfying brothy soup like flavor that I love. Seems like more sweet peach than jasmine. This time there is more astringency as it cools, so one teaspoon is definitely enough to use. I haven’t seen too many peach/jasmine combinations and this one is very nice.
I’m loving these green samples from Teavivre, thank you yet again! This is another tea that Teavivre says should be 3-4 tablespoons of leaves for 17 ounces of water (I don’t think they mean teaspoons.) So I went with one sample package of leaves, which I measured out to be four heaping teaspoons. It’s kind of difficult to measure these leaves when they are all wirey and twisted together!
Steep #1 // 30 min after boiling // 2 min steep
First I must discuss the scent of the dry leaves, it was almost unbearably strong! The strongest green tea scent I’ve ever smelled. The taste is the same as the fragrance. It’s very brothy and soupy… there is that creamed/breaded corn flavor again but this time the flavor is stronger. There is also hints of pineapple for me. The brew is a cloudy mellow yellow color. Using four teaspoons isn’t a bad thing, but it is a little astringent and I don’t think I’d use that much in the future.
Steep #2 // 30 min after boiling // 2 1/2 min
Using four teaspoons IS a bad thing for this cup. Astringency city. I really should have known because the dry leaf is so strong. I drank it anyway, because I could still taste the amazing flavor beneath the bitter. Thirty minutes after boiling definitely is lower than the suggested 185 degrees too. I’ll try it again soon…