1452 Tasting Notes
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…
Another one from Dexter! Thanks so much! Still a few more to try from that awesome box of teas a few months ago. Whew. I was a little leery on this one – seems like the kind of white tea I’m not into. But I wanted to try it to see if this one would go in any teaboxes shortly coming my way. The leaves are those fuzzies so I rinsed them to get rid of some of the fuzzies in the cup. Looking at the cup, the rinse DEFINITELY helped the amount of fuzzies… there were a ton in the rinse.
Steep #1 // rinse // 30 min after boiling // 2 min
The flavor isn’t too bad, but it also seems like these types of teas are never special enough for me to want to steep them. It’s also impossible to describe them. I almost wanted to say clouds but then I realized it tastes kind of like cotton (hmm…must be the billion fuzzies still in the mug). Very sweet dried grass. It has sort of a creamy flavor too. Maybe a hint of citrus. This sounded familiar, so I looked at the page for Verdant’s Bai Mu Dan and they describe it as “cream” and “lime”. I did have this one a few weeks ago, but I don’t think my memory is that good. A decent cup but the fuzzies bothering my throat aren’t very inspiring.
Steep #2 // 20 min after boiling // 3 min
This cup was really nice too. I guess I like these types of teas more than I think. I do now anyway. Once in a while I’ll really enjoy this.
From my puerhshop.com order! Surprise! Three things I ordered were NOT mini tuochas. I had no idea that these 100 gram bigger tuochas existed… just the serving sized (mini) tuochas. Well I learned something anyway. I ended up breaking apart these adorable tuochas and putting them in pouches, to save time, messes. I have no idea how else you’re supposed to store them without making a mess. I definitely do NOT regret buying this big tuocha. It is delicious.
Steep #1 // rinse // 4 min after boiling // 2 min steep
When I was done breaking the tuocha into serving pieces, there were a ton of crumbs left, so I used two teaspoons of the crumbs. Nothing but smooth flavor here! I’d like to think that since there were crumbs, this would be the strongest this tea would be (unless I use more than two teaspoons) so this one really can’t have any astringency at all. I swear I had this tea a few weeks ago, but I’m not sure which one. Probably something from Teavivre. It has a really smooth and sweet flavor…. I wish I had bought ten of these tuochas at this price ($3.99!). It really compares to one of my favorite pu-erhs… I just can’t think of which one it is.
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3 min
I love when the first steep of a pu-erh is good, you don’t think it can get much better, and then the second steep has even MORE flavor, you’re in love with it, then the third cup is still going strong! I love this pu-erh, this sort is the reason I love pu-erh. It’s so mellow yet seems as dark as a cup of coffee.
Steep #3 // 4 min after boiling (accidentally) // not sure the minutes
This cup was really good too, on the same level of flavor as the first cup than the second, but I wasn’t really paying attention to the steeping to judge if this would keep going in flavor or not. Boiling and the right number of minutes probably would help. I’ll see another time… probably soon! I could drink this every day. Sigh.
In full disclosure for this tasting note, these leaves are older and also stored in a sandwich bag – not fresh or ideally stored. But I expected much worse from this tea, so it can only be better otherwise. The flavor is a typical gunpowder. I love the little bundles of leaves. To me, a gunpowder should have a hint of smokey flavor, this one didn’t have too much of that, but this is a nice flavor anyway. Very vegetal and almost marine-like. The brew color is a light yellow. Another great tea from Adagio!
Steep #1 // 25 min after boiling // 2 1/2 min
Thanks so much for this one DigniTea! I expect Harney’s teas to usually be very astringent for some reason (maybe I was oversteeping them). But this tea is anything but astringent! I’m actually surprised at how sweet it is, even as it cools. I could swear I added sugar… maybe the caramel tea next to it was so strong that it affected it? I love the maltiness of this one. Always love my malty teas. It also has a dried grassy taste as it cools. The second steep was also very nice…almost an identical flavor. This will be a sipdown next time but I’m adding this to my shopping list so I can remember how much I love it.
Steep #1 // 4 min after boiling // 3 min
Steep #2 // just boiled // 4 min
Thank you so much, Teavivre! With this one, I’ve tried all four of Teavivre’s keemuns. The dry leaves on this one are all black – some of the other keemuns from Teavivre have bits of gold.
Steep #1 // 13 min after boiling // 2 min steep
I used two teaspoons of leaves. The cup is a lovely burgundy color. Honestly, because this is the lowest grade of the four keemuns, I expected a CTC leaf, or a brew that was very astringent. NOT SO. Even with two teaspoons, I’d say this one is closer to strength to the Organic Superfine Keemun — it has less bite than the other two. But this one is lacking those hints of flavor that make the Superfine special – what I like to think of as the wine like properties, or the muscatel. This one might have a milder flavor, but I’d rather that than the astringency that a CTC might have. This cup has about the same hints of chocolate that the Superfine has. A very nice cup of tea, especially at this price. Much better than I expected!
Steep #2 // 10 min after boiling // 3 min
This cup has a lot of the cedar, tree-like oversteeped flavor. That becomes the main characteristic and the other flavors of the first cup are much less noticeable. The second steep isn’t that great and I usually resteep leaves at least once, so that could be a problem. Maybe the three minute steep is too much though. I’ll try less next time. Still surprisingly good for this price, but I think I’d buy one of the three other keemuns. Happy to sample!