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Recent Tasting Notes
I’ve been too busy lately to take time for much tea beyond mass-market teabags, but I had a couple of hours free today, so I thought I’d spend the afternoon with this one.
The dry leaves, when I first opened the pack, gave a little dry-forest-floor burst of scent, and after rinsing, the wet leaves smell very strongly of damp trees and wood, and old, smoky leather.
The first steep of this after rinsing a couple of times tasted a bit flat, and a clay-taste overwhelmed the other tones, but from the second steep darker, leather and loam comes through and turns it into a whole other kind of drink, with an aftertaste like sweet butter. From the fourth steep, the taste becomes very strong, and there’s a thickness to the aftertaste – almost like the thickness after eating chocolate; there’s no cocoa taste, exactly, it’s more of a satisfying feeling of ‘fullness’. The later steeps became very light and sweet.
I got a nice, sleepy little buzz from drinking this all afternoon – I’ve had that once or twice from drinking puerhs, but only very occasionally; all in all, it’s a nice and long-lasting tea (through about 8-10 short 20s-1m steeps) for a lazy afternoon.
Flavors: Butter, Forest Floor, Leather, Loam, Sweet, Wet Wood
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!
I love jasmine tea and so it’s my goal to try all different types of jasmine tea! I gave this particular one a try and I would have to say it tastes pretty good. Maybe a little bit more bitter than the pearls I’ve tried, but it’s still really delicious with good jasmine accent.
The time for me to pack my bags and travel off to Pennsylvania for a couple months is fast approaching, and I need to make sure all my projects are finished before I leave in about a month. My biggest concerns are making sure I have Ben’s army painted and my tea collection re-organized. I have a whole new system in mind and I need to select which teas I am taking with me to Pennsylvania, three months worth of tea (especially at the rate I drink it) is a sizable amount.
Today marks another step in my Raw/Sheng Pu Erh adventure. Teavivre’s Lotus Leaf Raw Pu-erh Mini Tuocha an adorable little tuo (or nest) of Sheng Pu Erh with a nice addition of lotus leaves, from Lincang, Yunnan. The aroma of this little tuo is not very strong, with faint notes of wet hay, sweet freshly mown hay, a bit of yeasty bread, a touch of mineral, and salty lotus leaf. Specifically the lotus notes remind me of the lotus wrapped sticky rice (or lo mai gai) that I love so much when going out for dim sum. Delicious!
After giving the nest a rinsing and steeping, the aroma has a distinctly fermented aroma, with notes of wet hay, lotus leaves, salty cooked spinach, and a touch of straw mushrooms. The more I sniff the wet leaves the more it reminds me of food, clearly I am hungry! The liquid having been freed from the gaiwan and its leafy friends, has a very nice aroma. There are notes of sweet hay, a touch of yeasty bread, and finish of salty lotus leaf.
The first steep is nice and mild, it has a thick mouthfeel with a slightly salty almost broth like taste. This transitions to fresh hay and spinach with a slight sourness. The finish is like a distant breeze bringing in a field of flowers.
The second steep has the aroma of wet straw, straw mushrooms and a pile of leaves after a rain. There is also a bit of sweetness and lotus leaf at the finish. The taste starts off with an intense hui gan, it begins with sourness and cooling and then switches to sweetness. After this initial bit of a mouth party the taste is a mix of sauteed mushrooms and and lotus leaf with a finish of pepper.
For the third steep I am greeted with the aroma sweet honey and wet hay and a hint of salty lotus leaves. The taste starts out the same as the previous steep, my mouth is cooled and given a kick of bitter and sourness before being turned sweet. It is a very interesting sensation and I am still not quite sure if I like it or not! There is a slight taste of hops, it took me a moment to realize what it was since I do not drink beer and it has been years since I even tasted any. Not a big fan of the hops, but it fades pretty quickly to sweet hay and a touch of spinach. This tea was pretty interesting, I certainly think the added lotus gives the tea an added layer of depth.
Flavors: Hay, Hops, Mushrooms, Sweet, warm grass
I’ll start out by thanking Angel & Teavivre for this sample.
This is a very fresh Raw Puerh, being from 2014. The aroma, upon opening the packet, is very fresh & green, like a barn full of newly baled Hay that includes Clover in the mix.
The main features of this tea are a tangy apricot fruitiness, a little grassy & brassy at first, with an instant tongue tingle. The middle steeps are a little peppery & bitter, but then it smooths out nicely.
Just a newbie to the tea world and what really got me hooked on teas is jasmine green tea. I thought to give this one a try but it’s not really my favorite. The flavors are not as aromatic as the jasmine green tea…but I don’t feel like I know enough about tea to really compare it well. Just wanted to give my two cents. :D
backlog, written August 25, 2014
Nothing quite like a rocket siren to wake you up first thing in the morning. Time for some caffeine to make up for the lack of sleep.
This one is interesting. The strawberry flavor is right up front in the sip, quickly and smoothly transitioning into the flavor of the solid quality base tea. It reminds me of a high mountain Taiwanese oolong: light and sweet with a smooth mouthfeel and lingering lightly menthol aftertaste. Looking at the product page, I see that this oolong was produced in Fuding City, Fujian Province, China. It is a mountainous area though, so at least I got that part kinda right!
I also see that this is a particularly low caffeine tea. Morning fail. On the up side, I can totally see this as a refreshing post-dinner brew. Or an iced tea.
Thanks to Angel at Teavivre for the samples!
Sunday Tea and Books time!
Many thanks to Angel of Teavivre for sending me a sample of this. I haven’t tried many pu’erhs, so it’s lovely to get some more exposure to them.
Upon opening the packet, the leaf smelled of tobacco, leather, cedar wood, raisins, and earth. There were some broken up leaves in the packet, but instead I took a large unbroken chunk that was probably about 1/2 the packet’s worth and put that in a 100mL gaiwan. I did a rinse for 15-20 seconds, then let it rest for about 2 minutes in the hot gaiwan before steeping.
I brewed up a big pot of hot water – about 1.25 L – and put a tea cozy on it to stay warm. Over the next 1.5 hours, I steeped the leaf a whopping 13 times to see how far it would go.
The first 3 or 4 steeps were all a dark amber colour, and tasted smoky and bitter. Not the bitterness of beer, but a bit thinner and sharper, like it was coating my tongue. The tobacco impression lingered all throughout. I also got hints of cedar wood and birch bark. However, as the steeps progressed, the tea became more fruity. These steeps ranged from 10-20 seconds.
After the first few steeps, my mouth felt coated, but it wasn’t tongue-curling astringency so much as a fuzzy feeling all throughout.
I have to say that I think steeps 5-8 were the best, as the smokiness remained but the bitterness faded away. Instead, that stonefruit note came increasingly to the fore. These steeps ranged from 20-25 seconds.
However, steeps 9 and onwards were quite weak, with a significant drop-off in flavour from 11-13. At this stage, I had progressed from 30 second steeps to 3 minute steeps, without much appreciable increase in flavour.
This was a hard one to try and compare. The smokiness and bitterness and tobacco scent/flavour all had me stumped. I’m still not sure I can think of a character that fits this tea, but my husband and I were rolling the words around, and we both felt pretty comfortable that if we could think of a fictional character, it would have been someone from a Western/cowboy novel. Maybe one of these days I should pick up Lonesome Dove or something.
Did you know that Elmore Leonard started out writing westerns before he moved on to crime fiction? I’ve only read one of his novels – Out of Sight – but I’d love to read more.
Getting to another free sample from the lovely Angel at Teavivre! I am enjoying trying all these new teas this weekend :)
This one is so cute, my first mini tuocha! A small pressed cake, individually wrapped in paper, aweee I didn’t want to steep it even it was so cute lol. But I had to find out what it tasted like. I put it, the single tuocha, in my small teapot, who’s volume I’m guessing is around 10-14 oz or something, and steeped it with boiling water for 4 minutes. Oh, the dry smell was a slightly honeyed sheng smell, a bit woody and grassy.
The tuocha broke apart nicely with the 4 minute steep, and the liquor is quite light with barely any scent to it, a slight honey smell. Nothing like the grassy tobacco that was yesterdays sheng haha! This one is very light, much more to my tastes.
The flavor is also very light, but I am very much enjoying it. A slight woodiness, some mild grass, and a definite honey aftertaste. There is some grain-like, or hay notes in this one, but it’s very smooth and mellow. It hopefully is helping my poor lungs and throat, I was picking apples outside today and cleaning all weekend and stirring up every possible allergen, I broke down and had an allergy pill and am still not quite up to par, my throat is icky but improving due to the new air filter upstairs and a dehumidifier downstairs lol. Hurray for tea and air cleaners! Anyways, back to the tea haha…I am quite enjoying this. Smooth and mellow, a good end to a good day!
Overall, a very tasty and light sheng. This is much more my speed in the way of shengs, not sharp and not too green. I will have no trouble getting through my few more samples of this, and it definitely might be a reorder :D thanks again Teavivre for the opportunity to try this lovely tea!
Flavors: Grain, Grass, Hay, Honey, Wood
My package doesn’t say “superfine” but it does say organic. So I think this is the right tea to log it under. Here’s hoping this note shows up despite all the recent Steepster server issues.
These leaves are really old, so this doesn’t have as much punch as I’m sure fresher leaves would imbue. But what I can taste is a delicious, delicate green tea. The liquor is so light and clear that if I didn’t know my mug had tea in it, I’d think it was filled with water. The inside of my mug is brown, which makes detecting the liquor color difficult, but I believe it’s a very pale gold.
All in all, this is a refreshing, contemplative tea. It calms the mind and quiets the stream of thoughts. The fact that it’s organic is just icing on the cake. I will make a note to get more of this when it’s time to replenish my dragon well stock. Thanks to Teavivre for the free sample! I’m really enjoying this.
I don’t think I’ve reviewed this tea yet! It was a free sample from the lovely Angel at Teavivre from a while back, I think in my second round of free samples. Thank you for all the lovely teas!!
Onto the review! This one smells very chocolatey in dry form. I steeped it with ~194 degree water for 2 minutes. This may have been too light for my tastes, as the steeped smell is a faint floral aroma but very light and fresh, almost a fruit note in there as well.
As for the flavor, wow this is such a light tea for a black tea! It is super mellow, with the only really discernible notes being something floral and something sweet, almost like a marshmallow, in the aftertaste. As it cools, the marshmallow flavor takes on more honey notes. The middle notes are definitely floral, and to my palate there is a slight linen note at the first sip. It is quite bizarre, as it’s a light tea but there definitely is caffeine in here, I feel a warming buzz coming over me.
Overall, this is a different type of black tea than I’m used to, but I am really enjoying it because it’s so light and sweet. I may try brewing it a bit stronger next time, or if I resteep these leaves, to see if I get a bit more prominent flavor. But this is a nice light tea on this sunny morning. It feels more like an afternoon tea, one to have with light pastries in a flower garden. I wish it was still summer now :( haha, but a very tasty tea! Thanks again Teavivre for the free samples!
ETA – as it cools, the texture becomes a bit maltier, and notes of milk chocolate are coming out in the middle of the sip. Strong linen like notes to milky cocoa to marshmallow/honey – this tea is confusing, but it all works. I am enjoying this!
Flavors: Floral, Honey, Marshmallow
Just when I think I won’t taste another Keemun that I could love as much as those who have already stolen my heart, here comes another one. The dry leaf of Teavivre’s Superfine Keemun Mao Feng is wiry little black leaves that smell of dried fruit and light earthiness. After a 4 minutes steep, the liquid is a beautiful amber color and smells of molasses and moss….and it gets better!!! The taste of this tea is much like the leaves…delicate, balanced and completely captivating. It is breathtakingly aromatic, with gentle notes of forest moss, sweetness of dried fruit and molasses and a touch of light toasty grain to round the flavor profile out. This tea is smooth, fragrant, and not to be missed!
Flavors: Grain, Molasses, Moss, Peach, Stonefruits, Toasty
A huge thanks to Angel at Teavivre for this free sample! Sorry it has taken me so long to get to reviewing it – the weather got cold and I haven’t been in the mood for sheng lately with the weather, but today is warm and sunny, and I was reading sheng is good for allergies on a review somewhere so I will give it a shot, as mine are bad right now (well, lungs anyways).
Anyways, onto the tea review! The dry smell of the pieces of the cake (nice large ones I might add, perfect for a few brews) smells strongly of hay with some honey and crystallized sugar notes. I am going to try this first cup for 3 mins with boiling water, no rinse. As it steeps the cake piece breaks apart into lovely leaves.
Hmmm, the steeped smell to me is quite weird lol, almost a tobacco note in there! Strong almost grassy tones, and yes, that is definitely a tobacco note, at least to my messed up nose from allergies it is lol. I have never got that in a pu’erh before! We will see how it tastes!
Ah, the taste is much more pleasing :) very grassy, a strong green note, some green hay, and a tiny bit of honey. Also there is a smoky flavor kicking around in there too, maybe that’s where the tobacco smell was coming from. The flavors kind of go together but I am also finding it a bit tough to wrap my head around a green yet slightly smoky flavor. It actually reminds me of the days back in high school when I worked at a greenhouse/vegetable garden, on the days it rained – a lot of the ladies smoked there, so there was a hint of smoke in the air usually, mixed with that wet dirt and vegetables smell, along with wet hay from the nearby fields. I can actually picture it just like when I was there from this tea! Crazy, I love how teas can evoke good memories :) Oh and a sense of a tea buzz is definitely coming on, I will go slow with this cup lol.
Overall, this is a heck of an interesting tea! I have never had a sheng or any variety of tea for that matter that is like this. I’m also at a loss for how to rate this, I can’t decide if I like it or if it’s too weird for my tastes lol. But I am happy I got to try it as always!! I love broadening my tea tastes :)
Flavors: Grass, Green, Hay, Smoke, Tobacco
Thanks again Teavivre for the samples! Always a wonderful mail day when a Teavivre package arrives (well the package arrived a while ago anyway.) Teavivre has quite the collection of keemuns now. Five of them. The thing is, I think all of them could taste similar depending on how they are steeped… they seem sensitive to steeping! The leaves here are longer and wirey, so the leaves are physically different from some of the other keemuns Teavivre carry. I didn’t follow Teavivre’s instructions this time around. Six teaspoons is a lot of tea… though that is for 17 ounces of water and my mug is 12-13 ounces. They also suggest 194 degrees for 3-5 minutes.
Steep #1 // 2 tsps. // 15 min after boiling // 3 min
The cup here is very light in color but there is such a lovely fragrance before I even take a sip! Perfume in the best way possible. It has subtle flavors that I would attribute to Keemun, as well as something that reminds me of the muscatel from Darjeeling. There is also a squash flavor. This one reminds me of a Keemun blended with Darjeeling. But it would obviously be a different cup brewed differently…
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3 min
…and it is. This cup is much darker in color and the taste is more like a Keemun, however that flavor can be described. Not sure, but I love Keemun. This cup is so different from the first cup that it could be more similar to some of the other Keemuns Teavivre has. Neither cup had much smoke as none of the Keemuns from Teavivre do. I also tried another Keemun from them the other day and the results were entirely different than the first steep session. They are constantly changing but if I love all of the Keemuns from Teavivre then it really doesn’t matter.
Here’s Hoping Traveling Teabox Round #3 – Tea #15
Oh I’ve wanted to try some of the Teavivre herbals! This one seems like mostly hibiscus/rose hips which I’m not a fan of… but some of the other herbal blends from Teavivre sound amazing. This blend also has some apple and mint. Two teaspoons at just boiling for my 12 ounce mug and the red of this cup is looking fierce. Before sipping, there is an apple cider like fragrance. The first sips are extremely tart but really it’s like a syrupy fruit punch/apple cider. I probably could have added a bit of sugar. It’s tough to notice the mint except for the hints of cool to my mouth. The tartness is more tolerable as I’m drinking but this one would be an AMAZING iced tea. I think I’d like the blends with less hibiscus better but this one was good.
Steep #1 // 2 tsps. // just boiled // 2-3 min
This was a free sample from Teavivre. Thank you.
I opened the sample packet and tipped out a pile of autumn leaves. Honestly, I have never seen tea that looked so natural and unprocessed, well, apart from the obvious compression on bits of it. The leaves were brown, dry and very light in my hands. The only difference from the stuff in my garden is that these smell of honey and possibly apricots. Something fruity like that. I looked at the brewing guidelines and paused. White tea at 100C? That can’t be right. And brew it for 6-10 minutes? Surely some mistake. I checked the website. No, it was right. I had better try it at that temperature and steeping time in the first instance. I opted for a mid-range 8 minutes and watched with concern as the liquor got darker and darker. When the timer went off, the tea was a dark amber colour, more like a black tea than a white one. The honey aroma was still there though along with the fruitiness. I really need to sort out a reference collection for fruit and veg so that I can compare the teas with the collection. I’ll add it to the to-do list, right alongside getting a round to-it. I’m rambling now. Back to the tea.
I sipped with trepidation. My concerns were quickly allayed and I thought to myself “Crikey, that’s really jolly good.” It is sweet and honeyed with a touch of cinnamon and a side order of grapes. Unlike some white teas I have had, it is not cloying or too thick. Instead it is clean and smooth with a creamy consistency. The aftertaste is sweet and tingling and I can feel a slight cha qi present that is slightly relaxing. All these good things continue through the next couple of steeps too. I’ll struggle to work today between the relaxing nature of this tea and the loudly purring kitten next to me just begging to be petted.
Top job, Teavivre. Yet another good tea that I have enjoyed.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Grapes, Honey
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
From Unflavored TTB
This is tasty! I’ve had the Adagio black pearls and this is much better. Caramelly, malt, sweet and some what licorice tasting.
I am, however being super lazy – I just dropped 5 pearls into my cup without using a tea strainer. I’ve been sick for days, I really don’t care. FREESTYLIN STEEPIN YO. I will have to get more of this tea sometime.
The dry tea smells first of chamomile touched by rose mixed with a fruity grassiness from the base tea. The tea includes rose buds chamomile flower heads and a medium long slightly wide bladed silver green toned tea bud.
I steeped 1.5tsp in a 170 ml gaiwan and got 5 good steeps after which the flavour began to fade and the tea thinned. As a caveat this tea does have a moderate dose of caffeine so is perhaps better suited to a time when you want a mellow alertness rather than later on in the evening.
1 min Chamomile scent with a faint hint of spicy rose and a fruity slightly sweet vegetal note from the base tea.
The tea is creamy and sweet with a mineral note.creamy sweet soft slightly fruity and nectar like note from base opens up to a cooling spicy note from the chamomile and a faint hint of rose as the flavour dissolves on the tongue.
90s tea has a slightly deeper tone under the chamomile. Cream, sweet soft fruit and nectar, sweet vegetal note, almost a hint of peaches and cream corn with rose appearing briefly before the chamomile.
2 min. Similar scent. Chamomile more dominant, with base tea sweetening the mix and adding cream notes underneath. Rose presents a certain spiciness at the end.
2.5min. A balance between the flavours. The base tea has developed a little more depth with vegetal notes, but it is still very fruity and creamy. There is a faint hint of citrus notes.
3 similar to above with a slight bitterness.
4 not as sweet or creamy but still flavourful.
5 min continuing to fade.
I enjoyed this tea and liked how the sweet and creamy white tea enhanced the chamomile with the rose being a minor player. Thanks to TeaVivre for the chance to sample this blend!
I love the chestnut flavor (and aroma) of this tea. Sweet and delicious. It has a pleasant toasty flavor to it, reminiscent of the flavor of a freshly roasted chestnut. A delightful creaminess in both taste and texture.
This is less vegetal and more nutty. Usually, I expect a vegetal tone to a green tea, but I like that there’s more nutty flavors than vegetative. If you’re one who tends to shy away from a green tea because of the strong vegetal overtones, this would be an excellent tea to try.
Lovely taste, restorative, a beautiful tea! Read more here:
Got this one from Sarsonator in our swap a few weeks ago. She surprised me and gave me a whole lot of Teavivre samples. ^^ Because she is just awesome like that!
Now unlike Oriental Beauty, this one actually is floral-y.
It’s smooth and strong. Kinda grassy but really floral-y.
So it’s definitely a win in my mind! Woo!
Thanks, Sarsonator! :D
Flavors: Floral, Grass, Smooth
Got this sample from Albertocanfly a few months ago. Haven’t actually had an Oriental Beauty yet, I don’t think. But this seemed to be well praised, so figured it was about time I had this one.
For some reason, I was expecting it to be more floral….
But it kinda turned out to taste a lot like grapes. Kinda vegetable and sweet. Really sweet actually.
This is just a weird combo of flavors. xD I don’t really know how to feel about this one-haha! Luckily Albertocanfly gave me a few tsp so I have time to figure out what I think. I don’t not like it. It’s not what I expected, but I guess I’ll just see if I like it. xD So I’ll wait to rate this.
Thanks for the sample, Albertocanfly! :D
Flavors: Fruity, Grapes, Honey, Honeysuckle, Sweet, Vegetal