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Recent Tasting Notes
Yesterday was an adventure. I needed to finish my pickles, which take about three days for all the steps. Youngest was waiting for the chance to have the kitchen because she was making an Italian Cream Cake from scratch, from freshly ground soft white wheat. As I was pickling, I managed to set a spoon on fire, scorch my dish towel, and burn my hand (on the flaming spoon whose nylon hanging string melted and burned into my hand). Then the phone rang and the lady who has breast cancer wanted to come over to talk about her surgery and pre-op some more since, like mine, they didn’t get it all the first time, and I had a new student coming just after lunch and needed time to eat lunch myself, and….well, you get the idea.
So today was the first day of school for my final homeschooled child, who is a junior this year, and it was TEA PARTY DAY!!! Yay! It has to be a better day when you are going to have Italian Cream Cake and tea with with friends.
I checked the package today and noticed that this tea is technically expired. It is still truly delicious, and I do have more of their newer harvests as I ordered a couple of different ones because the samples were so, so good. It would be considered expired on 6/12/13. We have actually had it a couple of times lately and it was a favorite with guests both times. In spite of the age, this is a fabulous tea that still shows its fine pedigree. It is almost gone, but expired tea is what happens when you buy way more than you can drink, even when you drink it in groups.
I keep thinking that I will pare down my cupboard, and then I see a tea I must keep on hand for so-and-so, or one that I have been wanting to try, or one that I can’t bear to run out of. Ah well, I will keep I drinking and sharing and it will all work out!
Backlog from last night.
Teavivre gave me 3 packets of tea to sample, one of which I gave to a friend. Of the two remaining, I used a whole packet to brew it in my gaiwan about a month ago. Now, I’ve opened up the last remaining packet.
I must say that of all the jasmine teas I’ve tried from Teavivre, this one is my favourite. The jasmine here is beautiful and strong, but not overpowering with the metallic taste I’ve found in some jasmine teas. Here, the flavour is sweet at the back. This is just such a gorgeous tea.
I steeped it twice, both times for two minutes, and got a beautiful clear yellowish liquor that shaded down to dark green as the tea sat in my mug. The flavour was clear, sweet, and jasminy, with a somewhat thick mouthfeel but otherwise very fresh and relaxing.
I don’t consider myself a fan of white teas, so it’s doubly lovely to find such a gem.
I ordered a sample of this from TeaVivre during their 3rd Anniversary Sale, just because I was curious. I’ve been experimenting a little bit with oxidized and roasted oolongs lately, mostly due to my love of GTT’s Eastern Beauty. I haven’t really loved them so far, I find that they mostly taste like autumn leaves to me with a little bit of something else mixed in. But still, the curiosity has its way! These leaves are very large and brittle, and quite twisty. They’re very dark in color, and they’re closer to being grey than brown. Dry scent is autumn leaves with hay and some vegetal notes. I did a 2 minute steep at 200 degrees.
Brewed, it still smells quite leafy. There’s definitely a bit of bread there as well, along with some honey sweetness and lovely fruit notes. Hmm… I’m beginning to think these teas may not be for me. This one also tastes like dry autumn leaves, which I guess is because of the roasting done to it. There’s a little bit of bread or grain, along with an earthy wood flavor. I get a tad bit of fruit and some creaminess near the end and in the aftertaste, but I wish these were more present throughout the sip.
I find that this genre of teas tends to bore me a bit, if that makes sense? I’ll probably try this tea gong fu style as well, but I found that it tasted rather the same with the dancong I tried that way. I’ll still try it though, just to give it a chance!
Any recommendations on the best way to brew dancong and da hong pao teas would be lovely. :D
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Baked Bread, Dried Fruit, Earth, Grain, Roasted, Wood
Another generous sample from Angel that i’m enjoying today in an effort to get more teas closer to sipdown category :) I wasn’t sure whether i’d like this one or not, given my dislike of “rose” as a general flavour in teas. Turns out that this one is pretty tasty. The chamomile balances out the rose sufficiently for me (though maybe that’s because i picked all the really big flower chunks out of my cup before brewing…) Not sure if i’d restock this one, but i am enjoying this quite a bit. It’s a lovely evening tea for relaxing…
Thank you again to Angel for the sample! I picked this one today, mostly just for a break from black teas. I don’t like drinking my greens and whites unless i happen to be in the house. Sadly, this one feel short with me – there are other white teas that i’ve had from Angel that i much prefer. For me, this was closer to “water” than a lightly flavoured white tea. :( oh well, you can’t win them all, and i didn’t hate it – just not a tea for me :)
behind in my tea logging today – having a work from home day so that i can be productive and catch up on a few things before round two of travelling next week. eep. I am a fan of this one, so i’m glad that i picked up another sample with my new tea pot! :) I don’t want to fully stock another large amount of this one, so it may just be samples here and there when the mood strikes
Another hearty thanks to Angel and Teavivre for this sample!
When it comes to Pu-erh tea, people in my realm seem to be divided into two main camps: those who love it and those who (to put it kindly) detest it. Personally, I am a proud card carrying member of the first group so I was anxious to try this new offering from Teavivre. My wife, however, is almost sickened by anything Pu-erh. She hates the smell and taste of it and doesn’t even like to be in the same room when I am brewing or drinking it.
I will start this review by warning you that if you are already predisposed to disliking Pu-erh tea, the initial opening of the package of this one will probably not miraculously endear you to it. The consistency of the dark brown Pu-erh “cake” reminded me of the two-day-old cut grass that becomes dried and jammed in the chute of my lawn mower. The unbrewed aroma is also a little reminiscent of compost. However, do not give up on it at this point! You’ve come this far. Be brave! Steep it!
I brewed the cake and remaining loose leaves for two minutes at 212 degrees. The color was like no Pu-erh that I had ever experienced. Instead of the dark muddy brown that I was used to with the Pu-erhs of my past, this one had a very light gold color. It was almost as light as green tea. The aroma had a grassy attribute that was, again, like green tea. Nowhere to be found was the strong earthy odor that seems to accompany many Pu-erh selections.
The taste of this tea was completely devoid of the expected leathery and earthy flavors that I usually find in the Pu-erh teas that I have tried. The taste of this one was light, smooth, and grassy. The flavor again reminded me more of green tea than either black or Pu-erh. At that point, I decided to stop comparing it to my Pu-erh acquaintances of days gone by and began enjoying it on its own merit.
This tea is quite tasty. The flavor is without astringency and is light and airy. I would liken the taste to a meadow of freshly mowed grass. The aftertaste is very mild and quickly diminishes.
I like this new product from Teavivre. It may be a good alternative to reintroduce the Pu-erh haters to this variety before they attempt to jump back on the traditional robust Pu-erh wagon.
I wonder if the untraditional characteristics of this tea are related to it being advertised as “raw” Pu-erh. It just goes to show you that, as in most areas of life, when you think you’ve seen (or tasted) it all, you haven’t.
Where vanilla? :(
I liked the corn flower blue fruit tea a lot more. This one lacks the sweet berry flavors. They are shy here. The roselle/hibiscus is strong. I don’t mind it chilled but not the best hot. Plus there’s no vanilla in the taste. I might take the cornflower blue and add vanilla bean to it.
Glad to have tried this though!
I’d like to thank Angel & Teavivre for sharing a generous sample of this tea, as well as the white tea cake I sampled earlier today. This is a really delicate looking tea, & I poured the entire sample into my glass test tube steeper, giving it 1 min at 194, with a few resteeps. The original steeping was really very nice, & I’m guessing that the reason this is called peony is because of the floral taste of it. It is floral, and more flavorful that I recall white teas being, so either I’m sampling better more flavorful white teas, or I’m getting the proper parameters down, or maybe I’m actually developing a taste for white tea? Either way, I enjoyed the initial cup, & the resteeps were also ok, although they gradually took on a little bitterness.
Another green tea sipdown from this spring’s harvest. It feels nice to get through these in a reasonable amount of time!
Today I went back to my large gaiwan for this dragonwell and it certainly worked out well for me. Buttery, sweet, and fresh. A nice, re-hydrating cup of tea after a loooong day of teaching. Thanks Teavivre!
I got this tea in the assorted green tea sampler. The first impression that I get from opening the tea is that it is a nice quality. The leaves are a dark green and intact. It smells like hemp protein powder, so stronger than spinach.
I brewed the tea for about three minutes at 176F. The color of the tea brewed is a light green. Very subtle, and it still has that vegetable smell, though now subdued. It has an interesting toasted flavor. That’s all I have now, but I’ll add more once I finish the tea.
This came as an offering from Angel and Teavivre.
One thing I love about Teavivre is when they say sample, they really mean it…VERY generous size, they allow you to have a real gongfu session.
I’m using one full sachet for a 5oz yixing pot. The cake chunks are always separated with care.
After a quick rinse, steep one is a little shy it seems. A bit sweet, slightly fuity with hints of astringency.
It gets interesting at steep three. Nice body and texture to this tea. To me, it’s really fruity.
Like a blend of grape and apple juice…sweet and tart at the same time. The typical young sheng astringency is building up, and that’s something I appreciate.
There’s also a certain woodsy finish to the sip.
I lost count of how many steeps I had, but there were many.
I really enjoyed this one.
Thank you so much Teavivre for the oppotunity.
Tea provided by Teavivre for review
I decided to short steep Silver Needles just after my Bai Mu Dan session to compare the two teas that Teavivre sent me samples of.
First steep was much creamier, and the vegetal, fruit, floral and spice flavours taste more balanced. I liked how part of the spices notes reminded me of cinnamon and raisin flavour.
Second through sixth steeps were all consistent in flavour. Perhaps due to the longer first steep, I didn’t taste an increase of boldness with each cup. All of the flavour I tasted in the first steep continued on with the same level of intensity until the fifth steep. The last two steeps (fifth and sixth), were weaker than the rest but it still tasted very much like Silver Needles and not just water.
Overall, I found Silver Needles to be a much smoother, refined white tea than Bai Mu Dan (as to be expected). Depending on your preference, having a consistent flavour across all short steeps can be a pro or a con. Personally I prefer being able to taste some changes between steepings. I enjoy the flavour of Silver Needles more, but Bai Mu Dan gives me more to think about.
When deciding what tea I prefer, having these tasting sessions close to each other really helps me decide based on the differences and similarities that I would have otherwise not noticed. If you haven’t tried sampling two similar teas side by side, or steeped one after another, I really recommend trying it sometime.
This reminds me of the other floral tuocha I tried from Teavivre. It’s dark and earthy, with some hinted flower scents. There isn’t much rose flavour in the brew. Mostly earthy, dark, and some leather. Not really what I was expecting, so off to re-steep.
Edit- I did steep too long for my taste. At three minutes, I get more of the floral flavour, with a bit of sweetness, and still earthy. I even get some rose.
Flavors: Earth, Rose
Tea provided by Teavivre for review
First short steep brought back all my lovely memories of drinking fresh Bai Mu Dan; crisp vegetal, fruity, and honey sweet flavours. It’s been a while since I’ve had this tea, but it tastes just as good (as I can remember).
Second steep had a more noticeable “fuzzy” feel on my palate. And the boldness of vegetal/fruit flavour became bolder and stayed strong from the second to fourth steeps.
Ending on the fifth short steep, it’s a bit faded but still retains a good flavour without becoming flat or too dry.
I’ve always been a fan of Bai Mu Dan. It is easy to prepare and its flavours are gentle on the palate. Depending on how hot my summer is, I sometimes like to cold steep it overnight to drink as an iced tea. So far my August has been rather gloomy in Ontario, but it gives me more time to enjoy gongfu tea and I’ve spent less time this year glued to my sofa in front of my air conditioner. ;)
This is delicious! It’s also very interesting, kind of a cross roads of flavors & sensations.
I used 5 G for 6 minutes in a standard mug…10 oz-ish
The resulting cup reminds me of a cross between a sheng & a few of the other Heicha I’ve tried. It’s a lovely rich taste, much different from any of the other white teas I’ve had, much fuller in flavor, with a silky quality & an instant chaqi buzz, along with a potent tongue tingle, & my lips feel full & sexy, LOL. Honey, sugar cane, malt, its really very tasty & sweet, fruity even. I’m actually contemplating a cake of this…
I’m taking a break from the latest session of multitasking: a few more loads of laundry done, a few students, cleaned up the kitchen, gave my yixing their bath, & the hardest decision I have to make is which tea do I want to season with?
I’ll let you know later!
I got a sample size of this just for my son because he loves pineapple. Dry it smells like sweet candied pineapples. Iced, I forgot to smell it-but it was just tart enough for my son to enjoy with a light sweetness that I did not feel the need to add sugar for myself. My son really enjoyed it and said it tasted fruity, I even enjoyed it because it was very refreshing and not too tart. I think I will get more sometime.
When I removed the toucha from the sealed bag, the aroma was incredibly bread. Smells so good. I started with a 40 s steep. The first cup was light and tasted like hazelnut. No bitterness and no astringency that I noticed. Second cup at 30 s was darker and more complex. It started more like a raw pu-erh without the harsh bitterness. It is thick and syrupy with a sweet fruity aftertaste and leaves a sticky lip feel. With the 3rd cup at 30 s, I got a stronger cup, cheek tingle, and a bitterness that I like – not the nasty harsh kind. When it was hot, I thought I briefly tasted leather. As it cooled it became more mineral and almost cave like. In each cup the cooler it got the more I caught the hazelnut flavor.
I did not notice anything I would consider floral and certainly not like any lotus I’ve tried. That doesn’t surprise me. The ripe rose toucha has no rose taste but is one of my favorite ripe touchas. This is definitely a more complex tea than I was expecting. I am looking forward to several more cups – the toucha is loose but largely still intact.
A huge thanks to Angel and Teavivre for this sample!
As Teavivre continues to add new teas to its ever-growing repertoire, I am always anxious to try them and see what the young company is up to. The black teas are my favorite so I was eager to take this one for a spin!
When I opened the sample package, the strong aroma of the black and slightly curly leaves was quite interesting. It was faintly nutty, a bit fruity, and a lot like bread.
I brewed the leaves at 195 degrees for five minutes. The steeped result was a reddish gold liquid. The aroma was again nutty and fruity with a bread attribute.
The taste of this selection was slightly sweet. All rolled up in the flavor was nuttiness, a very subtle fruity flavor, and that lurking bread quality. When you put it all together, it reminded me of a tasty piece of fruit and nut bread. The tea was extremely smooth with no astringency. The sweet and soft aftertaste lingered quite pleasantly on my palate.
This is another delicious tea from the folks at Teavivre. For a company that is only three years old, they really have their finger on the pulse…or, should I say, tongue…of this tea lover. I will definitely be adding this great new entry to my shopping list in the future!
Flavors: Fruity, Nutty
My order arrived yesterday. It’s only been six days since I ran out of this but it seemed like a month. I thought learning to properly whip the green tea powder was tough until I found some xanthan gum (paid too much but only local source I could find). I used a little over a 1/4 tsp. The result is kind of tapioca pudding. My first try. Can anyone offer some tips? I mixed the powder and gum then added a little water to mix before adding the milk.
Brewed according to the instructions on the package…
Probably like most people, I don’t read the brewing instruction manual on my tea packets, and in the ordinary way of things, I brew 5g of everything with 100-200ml water, adjusting the amount until I find equilibrium.
But since I’m currently well-stocked with 200g of Bailin Gongfu – my favourite black tea – I thought I’d give the instructions a try.
The instructions on the ziplock bag the tea comes in are 2 tablespoons of tea leaves, to 17oz water. By UK measurements, that’s 30g of tea and a gnat’s under 500ml water.
OK, I compromised, and used 1 tablespoon – 15g – and 250ml water.
It was delicious. Malty, delicious, wonderful, floral and just … the best tea I’ve ever had. Like Bailin Gongfu Plus. Super Bailin Gongfu. The Breaking Bad of Bailin Gongfu.
‘course, I then spotted the instructions on the website, which are subtly different to the ones on the package. On the website, it recommends for western-style brewing: “2 tablespoons/6 grams”. So I’m guessing the tablespoons thing is a typo for 2 teaspoons, unless Chinese or US tablespoons are very, very different from mine.
But I have to admit that if I were rich as Croesus, I’d drink it like this all the time.
Flavors: Floral, Malt, Tea