1893 Tasting Notes
What a heavenly day! It was 44F this morning when the sun rose, and just a bit above that when I went out to feed the chickens. Breakfast was served by candlelight and with hot cocoa, but I knew I had to have some great tea to enjoy this first truly autumnal day. After breakfast, youngest and I made a pot of this to enjoy.
Quite a few of the Teavivre black teas have instructions for lower temps and shorter steep times, and I quite often make them by western parameters because I am used to the strength. This one, however, is best made just how they recommend. The water is cooler – 194F and the steep time quite short at two minutes, but that is fine with me because I get my tea faster!
The morning pot of tea was lovely and bracing, comforting and warming. I saved the leaves and we made two more steeps this afternoon as we enjoyed the cool air and the brilliant blue sky with the sunlight hitting the tops of the pines and making them almost glow with fresh green color. And the tea was perfect. Perfect perfect perfect for this beautiful, blessed day. There is cocoa, walnut skins, malt, and pure beauty in this.
Some of you know that hubby used to drink grocery store black tea with tons of sugar and milk, but then he really started getting into oolongs and greens and even whites. He has eschewed black tea for a long time now because he says he wouldn’t enjoy it without additions.
Since he drinks puerh and likes it, I didn’t mention what I was drinking outside on the big quilt in my secret garden. Guess who drank two cups?
Today was tea party day, and this was the second tea served after we had our pumpkin roll.
We didn’t have tea party last week because our guest was out of town, so this week we really wanted to kick off the fall season in a big way.
I chose this tea and Indian Spice to bring in fall flavors. It wasn’t cool here today, so I kicked the thermostat down a few degrees to make the house chilly so we could enjoy our hot teas as if we really were having fall weather. I am not ashamed. (I once took a cold shower and cranked the air conditioning way up in the middle of summer so I could enjoy my tea in a heat wave! I don’t do it often, though!)
Youngest has been trying tons of new foods and lots of teas that she has passed over up to now. She asked for just a sip of this, and then said, “Hit me, I’m in!” This is a very likable tea, great for serving to a crowd. This is definitely on my reorder list when it gets low. This is probably my third tin. The bright and cheery flavors of this tea make it really nice for social occasions, while its cranberry almond counterpart from H&S, Boston, is my solitary comfort cup of cranberry, totally different. Both are well worth having, both will stay in my cupboard.
I ran out of this tea, but I did not remove it from my cupboard because I had already ordered two more bags. We love it too much to let it run out, and guests who don’t normally drink tea find it really tasty.
Today was tea party day, of course. We missed it last week because my guest was in Florida, so this week we made up for it with a home made pumpkin roll that my youngest made from freshly ground whole wheat and a sugar pie pumpkin that we bought at the state farmer’s market. It was delicious, and just as I had hoped, this tea with its natural sweet potato notes was a great pairing with the pumpkin roll.
Prepared as a chai with lots of sugar, I liked this well enough. Drinking it prepared as a black tea without adding milk or sugar, not so great for me. The tea base seemed…thin. This one is nice prepared as a milky chai, but without all that milk it is a bit astringent. It smells good. They did a good job in the spices if you want a chai that will be widely liked by a lot of different people with different tastes, but I don’t think I will reorder this one. If I want a chai made with milk and tons of sugar, I will add my own spices to one of my own favorite black teas.
I am not adding this to my cupboard because I have only about one ounce of it. This was a gift from one of my music students today. We have tea together almost every week, as I did with her brother before her.
Their family goes to The Extra Ingredient whenever they visit Greensboro. The story they were given was that the loose teas being sold by the ounce are blended by a British gentleman who used to blend teas in England and asked them to carry his blends here so that he could continue to buy the needed supplies to blend and drink his favorite teas.
I may have under leafed this a bit, but it is very tasty. The dry aroma is really lovely. There are black tea leaves, not too small, and bits of green leaf which I assume to be blackberry leaves, but I suppose it could even be stevia leaf or something. If it is, I will soon have a stomach ache, so I am hoping it is blackberry leaves.
It smells like candy and I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out what is so familiar about it. I think something about it is reminding me of Guava candies or Parma Violets, but without the soapy taste. I like Parma Violets, by the way, in spite of the soap!
The tea isn’t particularly astringent, the berry flavor lingers. I am astonished at the price I was told for this tea and wonder if they were mistaken. I was told it cost 3.99 for four ounces and this was repeated several times, so I don’t think they meant to say that was the price per ounce. My little bag says it is two ounces but I think it was divided, so maybe that is actually the price for two ounces. If it is, this is an amazing deal if you like flavored tea.
I find it very sweet drinking it without additions, but I plan to cool some tomorrow and add simple syrup and try it as an iced tea. If it is good that way, I may have to stop in the store myself soon.
Since I had good luck drinking shu with youngest, I decided it was time to try sheng on her! Hubby joined us.
I used about five grams in my small gong fu pot. The water was boiling, but since we bring it to the table with us, it is cooling all the while. From that five grams of leaf we got two liters, that’s right, TWO LITERS, of tea!
I didn’t read the directions last night when I had this and oversteeped it on the second or third steep, which made it very brisk but also increased the sweet aftertaste quite a bit. The oversteep led to a very lemony taste for a little while before it settled back down.
Tonight I gave it a 20 second rinse, then several 10 second steeps, then several 20 second ones. The steeped tea keeps its deep golden color through many steeps. Steeps 2 through 4 are probably the most brisk, with 5 onward being more mellow. There is a drying affect for the tongue but the throat stays wet. It will be interesting to see what happens as this one ages.
I think this had a moderate chi. I wasn’t dancing on the ceiling, but last night we had introduced youngest to some 20’s music that was new to her – she is a big 40’s fan – so tonight we went to the 70’s with Jefferson Starship and America, and then took her to the 80’s with Al Stewart et al. It was loads of fun, and now how will we ever get to sleep?
This is the same tea AND the same tea sachet, but it deserves another review. These are a new offering from Teavivre, and I want to give it a thorough look.
I saved the sachet after my daughter and I made two or three steeps. I wish I remembered how many! I realize these are sized for a ten ounce mug or pot, but I was using my eight ounce pot so keep that in mind as well.
After the steeps we drank, I made a steep last night for hubby. He liked it, and said the rice flavor is very noticeable. Again this morning, I steeped the sachet and made another eight ounces. The result is much paler, but the rice flavor is still noticeable and the puerh flavor is there. It is fading at this point, though.
So my final verdict is….if I didn’t work at home as I do, and I wanted a GOOD puerh tea that was also very convenient and very economical due to the resteep factor, this is a fantastic choice, and is far and away better than any puerh bags I have had in the past. In fact, there is no comparison between the two. That would be like comparing Twinings tea to a competition grade Ti Guan Yin.
Kudos to Teavivre for getting it right!
I chose this tea purely out of curiosity. I had heard of rice flavored teas but never tried one.
Edited to add: It is important to note that these are sized for ten ounce portions, which is really handy if you are making a mug at work. They were aware that if you are using sachets you are probably not using a gaiwan or a tiny pot for tiny cups! And you get multiple steeps, plus such a long steep time that it becomes even more convenient for work or really busy times.
I expected a hint of rice flavor mixed with shu puerh, but even the dry sachet smelled strongly of rice – the steeped tea even more so! And there is lots of the glutinous rice flavor in the cup. This tea is the essence of what you smell when your rice boils over a little and the sticky rice water slides down the side of your saucepan and you can smell it all through the house. I am amazed at how much rice flavor is in this. I really want a bowl of rice now!
The puerh aspect is an earthy one rather than a horse-y one. The first steep was quite dark, which isn’t surprising since they recommend a 9 to 12 minute steep for this. By the third steep we didn’t even time it, we just poured it up after finishing one of our school lessons and it was fine. Even my youngest daughter, who just started drinking puerh teas a couple of weeks ago, liked it!
Drumroll, please! There is another puerh convert in my house! Hooray!!!!!!
My youngest daughter has become obsessed, obsessed I say!, with cooking and with trying new things. What a wonderful time when kids hit that ultra adventurous stage. Up to now her favorite teas were Vanilla Black by Harney, any Lapsang but especially Black Dragon from Upton, Baker Street Afternoon Blend from Upton, and Yunnan Golden Tips.
A couple of months ago she cut back on sugar in her tea and finally weaned herself off of it entirely. Then she started cooking and was wanting to try lots of new foods. She discovered that she liked nearly everything she tried. She started trying new teas, and re-tasting ones that she had not cared for long ago.
I nearly fell over last week when I made puerh at my son’s request last week and she asked if there was enough for her, too. Then twice this week she has asked if the two of us could share a pot together.
Today’s choice was Purple Rhyme. I made it western style in my 22 ounce pot and poured it into a larger pot. I used boiling water and steeped for about four minutes, until it was almost inky black! I made a second steep right away which is as dark as the first and combined them. There was no rinse.
This is so good, very smooth and full bodied. This is earthy with a high tang. We drank about 35 ounces of it today. I saved the leaves and expect to get at least another two western steeps out of it tomorrow. I am so happy to have another puerh drinker in the house.
Ooooooh boy. I shouldn’t have had this. First of all, it is a single packet my son found in his apartment. It was left behind by a Chinese roommate who went back to China several years ago, so this is undoubtedly expired. It is instant, and has way too many ingredients.
The surprising thing is that is you like really sweet things, this is quite good. My youngest daughter said it tasted like Land O’ Lakes Warm Oatmeal Cookie mix from the hot chocolate assortment pack. I can see that. It smelled like Red Leaf Matchaccino mix when I opened it.
Something – either the vast amount of sugar or one of the emulsifiers or stabilizers – has given me indigestion and my esophagus is rebelling, even though I only had a few sips before giving it away to the kids, who also didn’t want it. Youngest said too sugary, and middle daughter who is ultra picky said it tastes funny.
The texture is thinner than a matchaccino, but I make those with milk and this probably would have been pretty good made with milk instead of water. When we used to buy hot cocoa mix in pouches we always used milk instead of water and it was infinitely better, though still not as good as homemade.
As a rare dessert treat, this would be nice. If you love sugar, this would be nice. If I could make it fresh and have it all natural instead of full of chemicals this would be nice.
The indigestion isn’t nice. If you want something like this and you can get it, get Red Leaf’s Matchaccino. No indigestion and no mile long list of ingredients.