704 Tasting Notes
Third of five recent Teavivre samples, and I am saving the unusual ones for last. The beau and I recently drank the regular Silver Needle and I am interested to see if I get nuch difference in the organic. I am going Western again and following the instructions with 75 degree water and the full pouch in the teapot. Around four minutes steeping a light yellow liquor with some serious melon and cucumber aromas.
First sips come in light, a bit melony and sweet. I recently ate some seasoned crackers and the remains of those are overpowering the tea. This is a very light tea, not one that holds up well to this particular pairing. I think this should be enjoyed on its own so you can get the full sense of light sweet hay and honeydew/cucumber flavours. No bitterness or astringency at all, I like this more than the regular Silver Needle from last week. This stands out more and has a bit of a floral note that I appreciate. I think I still preferred the white peony but this hits the spot right now.
I can’t rule out steeping parameters as a factor in my results but this stand on its own much better than it’s non-organic counterpart. A very nice light white that is easy to sip exactly as is.
EDIT: second steep at boiling for a minute is really nice. Similar flavours but even more bold. Nice to sip while I sit in the sun before going to work at the library. We were up later than usual checking out the Northern lights. Amazing!
Flavors: Cucumber, Floral, Hay, Honeydew, Melon
This is quite possibly my first “Random Steepings” entry. Tada! The beau and I had Chinese food “in town” tonight and I was curious about the tea. The waitress said there was a loose leaf oolong and we asked for a pot of that. It came loose but was brewing up really dark so we investigated. Turned out, this is definitely shu puerh. She had no more info about it but we told her a bit about puerh and how she might like to brew it if she wants to try it again. It was actually really nice and held up to Western steeping really well. This encouraged me to try more of our pu Western style. Yay!
Also excuse the (many?) Typos. I’m on my phone and Steepster won’t let me see what I am typing so I am just hoping it turns out legible…now it’s letting me. Grr. That was pretty bad. I think I got most of them.
First thoughts: Wow, those are big! The leaves are uniformly whole, about 1.5 inches long.
I got some of this in my recent package of samples from Teavivre and now that Steepster seems less broken, I’m finally reviewing it. I don’t often drink white tea but when I do I tend to enjoy it. I steeped this for about two minutes in 75 degree water per the instructions on the sample. I used the whole packet to make a pot for the beau and I since he is a big fan of white teas.
At two minutes western style, this is light tea. Very light. Maybe too light. I poured the tea back into the pot for another minute steeping – and made a mess. Whoops. Then I forgot it, and it went two more minutes. So, a four minute steep it is. The water was only 75 when poured though, so I’m not worried about over-steeping.
Now, we have a lot more flavour. It is still a light-tea but full-bodied and sweet with some notes of hay and melon or cucumber. No bitterness, astringency or dryness. Light but yummy. Sort of unassuming. Another tea that I like when I drink but don’t always think to go for. The beau proclaims it “really good.” He gets a bit of jasmine (which is likely floral in general). He had a sip of scotch before trying it though, so his impressions are now confused.
I don’t think we will have any problem enjoying these samples and I am interested to compare it to the Organic Silver Needle we also received. I think I will try a second steep of this later at higher temps as well to see what we get.
It’s been a little while since I’ve had the white peony, but so far I would say I liked that a little better. It had a little more oomph for me and stood out a bit more. I think it also had different brewing parameters though which can really change the outcome.
Flavors: Cucumber, Melon, Sweet
This is a bit of a revelation. I still have half a pound of this from my hasty mega-purchase a few years ago. I constantly give it away, but it reproduces like gremlins.
Knowing its tendency to become a bit bitter and dry, I steeped it quick (about 2.5 minutes) and added a small splash of milk and a bit of honey. This brings it back to sweet, creamy, vanilla. Not my favourite and I definitely regret buying so much but this will make it really easy to drink some more at work. No re-steeping, dear heaven.
Flavors: Cream, Vanilla
Sooo, I am finally trying this – the first of my Mandala sampler. This is my first Mandala experience, but not my first puerh. I already know I prefer Shu, so this is a great opportunity. Dry, the leaf smells sweet and reminds me (as usual) of sweet hay, damp earth, wood and sweet clean animals.
I followed the instructions provided with the teas which suggested the whole serving for one session or half that for a lighter brew (or in my case for a small quantity of liquid). I gave a 15 second rinse with boiling water, then 30 second steep with boiling again. The result is not bitter or astringent, though it isn’t as sweet as expected. It has a bit of dryness and some general earthiness but not a lot else. It’s definitely earthy and mushroom-y. The beau gets a fishy smell but I don’t. He says “it’s really strong. It’s not bad though.”
2: 45 seconds, boiling. The leaves are still pretty clumped up, and the liquor is quite dark with an earthy, mushroom aroma. The flavour matches the first, but maybe a bit less dry. Strong, rich, earthy.
3: 1 minutes, boiling. Might as well mention that due to my lack of a sharing pitcher, I am brewing in my small gaiwan, and pouring into the larger one then pouring into our cups with a dribble at the end for my teapet. It’s a messy but equitable system. This steep smells very strong. Like an earthy greenhouse or barn. As always, this isn’t negative. Still no bitterness, but a bit dry. No sweetness, which I had in other shu. I think this is maybe the result of the small leaf?It’s bold, fo shu! (See what I did there?) The beau says the fish is gone (I never got that!) and that it is more earthy. “Best steep so far.”
4: 1 minute 15 seconds, boiling. I can’t imagine how strong this would be with the full sample. I definitely made the right choice for my brewing setup to split this in two. I was looking at other notes and saw some comparisons to coffee which seem accurate but it isn’t unpleasant and bitter like coffee. More an explanation of the depth and richness. This steep gets some sweetness finally. I like it. Much the same, but better. The beau says “now this tastes like a typical pu-erh, the strong taste is gone.” We agree on that for once.
5: 1 minutes 30 seconds, boiling. Whoa sweetness. Something fruity. Appley? This is different. I like it. Best so far. Reading other notes again – man, did my experience contradict EVERYONE else? Oh well!
6: 1 minute 45 seconds, boiling. The problem with this steeping method is that the gaiwan burns my fingers with boiling water, but the water is cool enough to drink by the time it is poured in my cup. I could go through a lot of steeps very quickly if it weren’t for the need to get water boiling again regularly. Taste is similar to 5. Sweet, lighter, a sense of apple or maybe apple peel. I don’t know why I say that, it isn’t strong enough to really explain, but it comes to mind anyway.
From here on, I’m going to just steep and enjoy without reporting. This can get exhausting. I need a bigger sample so I can try it gongfu, and Western-ish as well. For now, this was nice and different from other shu I have tried. I don’t think I need a cake of it, as it doesn’t hit my hot spots (currently). Really nice to experience though. Great education!
Flavors: Apple Skins, Earth
Well, I haven’t had this in years and I expected my opinion to be different as my tastes have changed so much, but I actually still like it. My youngest brother got it for my while in Toronto, – he got me a couple teas he wanted to try. Smart cookie. I forgot I had had this one and my initial impression was favourable. I love jasmine, the lemon scent was strong and the oolong seemed subtle. All good for me.
Steeped, those impressions held true. I didn’t notice the oolong underneath the lemon, but it was definitely there since it tasted a bit creamier and smoother than lemon myrtle on its own. The jasmine was present underneath the lemon, but very pleasant. Youngest brother tried it hot and said it just tasted like water. At this point, he decided he wanted it cold and stronger. I put the tea in a travel mug and told him to refrigerate overnight and try today. I don’t know if that helped him out but I do remember that people new to tea tend to like it much stronger than I do. I thought this was a great balance, where he found it plain. Just goes to show how subjective tastes are!
Flavors: Jasmine, Lemon
You know what Steepster? This tea is going on four years old and I still have 50 grams left. You know what else? It’s still really good. I get grapes, I get raisin, I get a bit of natural sweetness and a hint of white tea. I don’t get bitterness or astringency. I don’t get bubblegum. I don’t get anything overly artificial. This was a really well balanced white tea blend that Davids put out for Christmas nearly four years ago and I really liked it. I still like it. I wish they would return to these less flavoured blends that hold up to a bit of abuse. I am so happy with this right now. Trying out whites and green oolongs lately has inspired me to broaden my tea horizons, on occasion at least. Usually the beau takes care of everything that isn’t a black tea in our house but I’ve been on a sampling role lately and I will be keeping this one at work with me for the times I want a flavoured or light tea.
By the way, the grapiness of this is like purple grapes I find. No tart, not aggressive, not fake or candy-like. Really nice. A white base was the way to go. Way better than the newer grape tea they did a while ago.
Flavors: Grapes, Raisins, Sweet
I’ve opted to do a follow-up note on this tea as I am steeping it Western style and am curious how it will hold up. I am also happy to report that this samples doesn’t have any of the crushed leaves or powder that I encountered in my earlier sample. I feel badly for suggesting that it is a broken leaf tea when I apparently experienced an anomaly.
As per Teavivres Western instructions, I am steeping the whole pouch in my Perfect Tea mug for one minute in boiling water. I’ve got to admit that despite my innate specticism about some of these steeping parameters, Teavivre is REALLY good about making them accurate to the specific tea. I tend to brew per my own general guidelines but following the exact directions for each tea yields a different (and sometimes better) result for the Teavivre teas. The dedication to optimal brewing per tea and per batch is remarkable, and much appreciated – even from a brewing sinner.
After this minute in the boiling bath, I have a boldly aromatic tea with hints of cinnamon, spice, hay. I can smell it from across my desk, it has a note that suggests a potential bitterness, but is generally appealing. It also maybe smells a bit roasty, and perhaps a bit floral.
First sips reflect the flavour quite well. Some sweet baking spice flavour, some roastiness, no bitterness or astringency. It reminds me of the Taiwan Oriental Beauty I sampled the other day. Very nice!
EDIT: Second steep: As usual, I got distracted with work and this went 2 or possibly closer to 3 minutes with boiling water. This results in some astringency, a very dry tongue with the start of bitterness. I don’t like that, but I know it is my fault so I shan’t try a third. If I can get past the self-inflicted astringency, it tastes much like the first. Bakey and roasty with a bit of sweet and spice. Like snickerdoodles or cinnamon buns.
I received some white tea samples for review from Teavivre the other day and on this nearly rainy Saturday I am sitting down with the beau to try this one out. Thanks Teavivre! We are brewing Western style according to the Teavivre directions with the full packet of leaves at 90 degrees for about a minute. We’ve got three samples of each tea, so we can try with a gaiwan at another time. For now, my liquor is a light yellow and smells faintly of hay and maybe something cucumber related, but I think that is because I accidentally saw the flavours list on Steepster before beginning my review.
Since it only steeped at 90, I am able to try it fairly quickly. This is the advantage of lower temp teas, I swear! First sips are mild. A light note of hay but not as sweet as the green oolong I had the other day. It is flavourful but light, if that makes sense. Not like weak tea or lightly favoured water but not a bold flavour either. My non-tea drinking brothers might not find any taste here at all, but the beau and I do. It is hard to describe, but hay and a bit of floral are present. I always worry that people will think hay means unpleasant, but it’s not. I love the smell of fresh hay. I am getting some residual sweetness that I think is a result of my earlier Jolly Rancher. Whoops.
The beau reports: “This is good. I like it. It has less of the earthy taste you get in other whites. More like jasmine but less in your face.” He says it has “a hint” of floral. I don’t notice, but I rarely do. We both like it, he more than I as whites are more his forte. For me, as a Chinese black tea drinker, this is a nice cuppa occasionally but not something I’m likely to enjoy regularly. He says it might be under-steeped and isn’t strong enough to get a high rating from him right now. I will do another steep in a bit and put a number on it after that one. I think he is right and a bit more time would have boosted the profile here. Will report back then!
EDIT: Second steep was forgotten in the pot which yielded a more flavourful brew but (surprisingly) no bitterness. It was enjoyable, but maybe a bit too much white tea in one day for me.
Flavors: Floral, Hay
This, my tea-drinking friends, is a leap of faith. I rarely drink green oolongs but here I am with some green oolong samples and an urge to try them. I looked up the Teavivre guidelines for Western steeping and they seem crazy but I’m giving it a go. The full packet in boiling water for one minute (in my Perfect Mug). The leaves are initially tightly rolled and look like small pebbles of tea. It doesn’t seem like much, but after steeping they are nearly 10 times the size. They went from a slight layer in the infuser of a few MM to a 4/5 full infuser. Wowza! There were some crumbs as well but they were large enough that they didn’t sift out so in they stay.
The resulting liquor is quite yellow and smells like boiled corn on the cob with butter melting down the side. I’ve been having corn on the BBQ lately and it’s not quite like that because it smells SWEET. This is not a typical aroma for ME in tea, but I do like it. It takes a bit of a mental reset to associate it with a beverage rather than food, but I’m okay with it. I’m getting to a point where I enjoy green oolongs on occasion, though I don’t tend to seek them out or stock them.
So, for taste I do get the sweet corn quite strongly, and also a bit of spice that again reminds me of cinnamon (like the Taiwanese oolong I had the other day). I do also get some astringency, some dryness on the tongue. It doesn’t manifest as bitterness and it isn’t too overpowering but it isn’t ideal. This is why I was leery of boiling water on an oolong, but hey – ya gotta try everything once! It’s not as bitter as I feared, so I think it is likely be being sensitive rather than burnt tea.
I will definitely do more steeps of this, I think the leaves have a lot more to give. I might prefer it with a gaiwan, and if I can remember I will try that with my other sample. As it stands, it is light, sweet, corn-y with a bit of dryness. It is pleasant, but not in my wheelhouse so it is hard for me to get more out of it. I enjoy it, but i wouldn’t seek it out. For those who prefer greener or lighter teas though, this is likely one to try.
As it cools I am getting new tastes in the aftersip, sort of fruity or berry-ish. The dryness/astringency becomes more pronounced as it cools, so I am off to finish this cup up for now.
Flavors: Butter, Cinnamon, Corn Husk, Sweet