I had ordered a sample of Bi Lo Chun from Harney and Sons to compare with this one from Teavivre. My results did not come out at all as expected. I thought the Teavivre tea would be fresher and more flavorful and wild win hands down. Instead, I am perplexed and surprised. This doesn’t taste like a fresher tea, it tastes like a completely different tea. It looks fresher, though, certainly. Since these are the only two Bi Lo Chuns I have tried, I don’t know which is more typical.
Teavivre’s was soft and fluffy, and the golden tips looked truly golden. Harney’s was browner, even the golden tips…it was just slighter darker in general. When steeped, the wet leaves of both brands look essentially the same. The liquor of the Teavivre tea was a clear yellow, rather pale. The Harney version was a bit darker, not much, and perhaps a wee bit cloudy, probably from the down.
Now the taste is where the two are really completely different. Teavivre’s is mildly nutty, grainy like Cheerios, (thank you KS for hitting that nail on the head), and light and lovely. It is good tea and overall is very mild.
Harney and Son’s has stronger flavor. Laid over all else is a front note of…sour? tart? But good! Maybe citrus. Harney says there is an orange flavor, possibly picked up from the orange blossoms that grow around the plantation. By its nature, it reminds me of a light astringency but is more like the taste you would be left with if you had scraped an orange rind with your teeth. I think I really prefer the Harney version of this, but in a really mellow mood would perhaps want the Teavivre version.
Edited to add: Teavivre’s description of their tea matches the taste of Harney’s so maybe I didn’t use enough leaf? And Teavivre’s is far less expensive at $10.90 for 3.5 ounces, while Harney’s is $20 for two ounces