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Recent Tasting Notes
This is a sample from TheTeaFairy who writes this is “a really good straight black”. I had my doubts because up until now there was no such thing as a good straight black. But since tonight I’m not interested in the chocolate teas I’ve been guzzling like mad, polishing them off slowly, I thought I’d bite the bullet and have this. Steeled myself for great unpleasantness and followed the steeping instructions: 1.5 tsp, 2 minutes, 95C. Well, it was more like 203F but hey, close enough.
Cautious sniff, cautious sip… wait a minute, this … this is not bad. Does not need sugar or cream, in fact I find it vegetal enough at the back that I think it would taste weird with sugar added. I don’t know about malty, like someone said, to me this is more like a dark roasted oolong.
Thank you, TheTeaFairy I like this!
Very beautiful, tightly rolled little emerald green balls that smell like honeysuckle. The leaves unfurl to be pretty forest green and the liquor is a Spring green as well.
The liquor smells of honeysuckle as well.
The flavor is not as floral as the scent which is very cool. It has a cream and almond taste.
As it cools, a nice Angel food cake flavor comes thru. There is a touch of astringency but it is palate-cleansing and very very subtle.
The second steeping I timed at 4 minutes as well, as the leaves had opened up very large. The flavor was still creamy- tasting and honeysuckle-scented with the very light astringency.
This is a very beautiful tea!!!!!
Thank you to Teavivre for this sample!!!!!
Flavors: Cream, Flowers, Nuts
I prepared this western mug style. This tea is not even close to what I expected. The dry leaf aroma is freshly dried grass and grain with just a hint of malt. This brews up lighter in color than anticipated. The taste is loaded with hints of fruit and flowers. The malt comes out late in the sip before the sweet fruity aftertaste kicks in. It feels thick and creamy, almost foamy. I found this to be an extremely enjoyable mellow tea. Western mug style did not produce a bold cup to me. I also detect no smoke, and definitely no bitterness. High yum factor.
Another sample from Teavivre! thanks so much, Teavivre! I REALLY wanted to try most of the Keemun teas from Teavivre, since one of them will definitely be ordered in the future. I love the Premium Keemun Hao Ya black. This one seems to be one point lower in the Steepster rating at the moment, though it is supposed to be better quality. Teavivre’s instructions for this one are two teaspoons at 194 degrees with a rinse and 1,2,3 minute steep times. The dry leaves are mostly black with tinges of gold.
Steep #1 // 20 mins after boiling // 2 min after rinse
The wait was accidentally a bit longer than I would have liked. But looking at my tasting notes for the other Keemun, it seems I get a perfect cup after waiting 18 minutes and steeping for two minutes, so I’m glad it ended up being closer in time to compare! Before I take the first sip, the fragrance is much like sweet potatoes with marshmallow on top, not really smoke. I must note that this is NOT like Teavivre’s lighter sweet potato tasting teas (Tan Yang & Yun Nan Dian Hong Golden Tip), it just has that particular fragrance. The flavor itself is brisk enough without being astringent. I wouldn’t say there is any smokiness in the flavor or fragrance with this one. The Premium has a hint of smoke. The flavor in this one is like melted chocolate chips. Not necessarily dark chocolate like the Premium Hao Ya.
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3 min
This one has a slight hint of flavor that says it would have been better with waiting for the water to cool a while. Teavivre has definitely perfected their steeping instructions… I will always follow their instructions as close as I can because when I do, the tea tastes better. It’s still a tasty cup though. I really like this tea, but I think my favorite is the Premium Hao Ya, because that one has a hint of smoke and dark chocolate, rather than the semi-sweet chocolate chips that this tea has. Either way, both teas are pure chocolate… and both are fantastic.
Many thanks to Angel and Teavivre for this sample!
I am already a big fan of Teavivre’s Ripened Aged Pu-erh tea so I was looking forward to trying another selection from their Pu-erh collection. Pu-erh doesn’t seem to be everyone’s cup of tea (I confess that the pun was intended) because of its strong taste and smell, which some people liken to fish or leather. However, I like the exotic flavor very much.
I opened up the sample packet and pushed the tip of my nose inside to analyze the unbrewed odor. The smell was somewhat leathery (which I find appealing) with a twinge of sweetness.
I followed Teavivre’s recommended brewing instructions and steeped the long chocolate brown leaves and brick for eight minutes at 212 degrees. That seemed like a long time to brew (the packet listed the maximum recommended brewing time at 10 minutes!) but Teavivre’s instructions have never failed me yet.
The resulting liquor was dark brown in color (like other Pu-erh varieties). Interestingly, the brewed aroma was quite mild and unassuming. I had to place my cup directly below my nose to detect the faint earthy and leathery odor that I have become accustomed to with teas of this variety.
The taste of this tea is nothing short of excellent. The prominent Pu-erh flavor (you decide if it is fish or leather) is in the house but it is smooth, sweet, and exquisite without becoming overwhelming. The aftertaste is also rather wispy, floating on the palate for a few brief moments.
I thoroughly enjoyed this selection and am now in the process of wringing at least two more steepings out of this sample. I like this tea so much that I am tempted to have my wife (who gags at just the thought of anything Pu-erh) give this one a try.
In short, Teavivre has produced another sterling tea. If you LIKE Pu-erh, I am confident that you will LOVE this Pu-erh!
I’ve been putting off trying this one until my cold was under control and I felt like I could get a true taste of it.
Looking through my samples this morning, I decided a basic black tea would be good.. after all, I was eating a rich chocolate chip cookie and needed something to pair well with it. Some breakfast, eh? Actually, I could see myself doing the same thing tomorrow morning :) Very enjoyable.
This tea is rich and very present black, not bitter, and not overwhelming in any sense. At smells faintly sweet when steeped and is smooth and almost has a bit of cocoa in the background.
I actually drank the whole first cup sans any raw sugar! That’s unusual for me. The next steep I will likely try with a touch of sugar and maybe a splash of cream to see how it compares to other blacks I’ve had that way.. since that’s how I grew up drinking hot black tea I think it only fair to try each one that way as well.
I’m tempted to try some of their other grades of Keemun to see how they compare. I’m on the hunt for a staple black for my tea cupboard for when I want a basic good black or something to add to another tea for depth and richness. This one is great, but maybe I could step down a price point and still be satisfied.
So after drinking some Caramel Vanilla Assam all day I wanted something different and new. So this is the 4th tea I got as a free sample from Teavivre’s very generous sample offer.
Opening the package I get woodsy, malty, grain-esque smells. It actually made me think of really good iced tea. Lol. Or the first time I had black dragon pearls, which is strange because they’re totally different teas. Lol.
I used 2 tsp in 195* water for 2:30min (I write this down because it is nigh impossible to use the slider selector bars while on an ipad).
Smells the same brewed as dry. First sip is …..oh man. I think this is the sort of tea I’ve been craving without actually knowing what I was looking for. It’s slightly woodsy, and fruity and sweet. I get almost a gentle smokeyness from the sip too.
I get a touch of bitterness and a medium strong astringency from the end of the sip, but it might just be because I overleafed my cup. Next time I might just try 1 1/2 tsp just to see.
Otherwise this tea is absolutely delicious. It might even become a staple in my cupboard after I’ve given it a few more tries….and pared down dome of my cupboard. It’s certainly not going into the swap bin. Lol!
I’m also going to have to give this a shot iced, though I haven’t decided if I want to straight up cold brew it or brew it hot then chill.
Sipdown #3 today!
I’m cleaning out my cupboard to make room for new stuffs, so trying to sipdown what I can. Might manage a 4th later.
So, on to this tea. I have not had a straight oolong in some time. I don’t know why, really, because I do traditionally love them. I get so wrapped up in my shiny shiny that I often forget about things I have.
The leaves are quite typically dark green and shriveled and sort of ball like. The brew is still pale, like the first time I made this. There’s a mild floral scent to it, but nothing so overpowering, and you can pick up a little of the roasted flavour. The taste is a little more roasted and less floral.
As I mentioned in my initial tasting note, this is a very basic medium toned oolong, that is a nice starter one. It is not overly complex, which is actually quite fine. Sometimes the simple things are best. Like today, my lunch was spinach linguine tossed in a brown butter sauce, with a little parmesan. Super easy, super tasty. If my lemon half hadn’t gone bad, I’d probably have squeezed a little juice over it all too. Just simple flavours and sooo good.
Anyway, I like this oolong, but it is not amazing. I am thankful to Angel from Teavivre for providing me with this sample to try.
Sipdown (kinda)! I got 2 sample packs of this from Teavivre, but since I wasn’t too enamored of this, I’m going to give the second sample to Indigobloom. So this note is me finishing off the sample I already opened.
I stuck with the same steeping parameters as last time: rinse first with hot water, then steep each time for 1-2 minutes using 85-ish degree water. I got 3 steeps out of the last remaining bit of leaf.
Despite the strawberry flavouring, I did not like the oolong base in this. Too earthy, and the earthiness became more prominent as it cooled. I had the Osmanthus Oolong from Teavivre this morning and that was much better, so I’m not sure what the issue here is.
I drank this tea while having a phone interview for a job I applied for last week. New tea, new job perhaps? Anyways, fingers, eyes and toes crossed for good luck!
Dry leaf: The leaves were dark green-brown, tightly curled little nuggets. They smelled sweet, kind of like apricots. I’m guessing that this is the osmanthus talking.
Steep parameters: I steeped this 3 times, and each steep lasted between 1 and 2 minutes, with about 80-85°C water. I used a teaspoon of leaf and 8 oz of water each time. Before the first steep, I rinsed the leaves with hot water for 10-20 seconds to wake them up.
Liquor: The first 2 times the liquor was a nice sunny yellow with green overtones. The third time, it looked a bit more amber toned. The aroma and taste were fairly similar all three times, though I admit I haven’t developed a subtle enough palate to detect the variety of different flavours in different steeps.
There was a sweetness kind of like apricots, but it was very subtle. All three times, the steep was light and floral, with a hint of oolong nuttiness. I liked this much better than Teavivre’s Strawberry Oolong that I had a few days earlier – that one had a much muddier, earthier taste to it.
Verdict: I’ve still got two more oolongs to taste from the sample pack I ordered, but this is pretty satisfying!
By the way, the phone job interview went well, and I’ll hear back within a week about whether they want to interview me in person. Any and all good employment vibes from my fellow Steepsterites are appreciated. :-)
Flavors: Apricot, Nuts
I made this alongside the last cup, which means the water was a little hotter than last time. This tea doesn’t seem to have suffered for it, and in fact it’s just as good as last time.
In this cup I’m getting some of the deeper oolong flavors with a darker stonefruit note. It’s a little like cooked peaches with some alcohol mixed in with a darker-roast oolong. There’s a note almost like coffee in the background that’s really interesting with the other flavors. I like it this way but I think my preferred steep is just a little less heat—I love the lighter florals present in the last cup.
Teavivre just happened to offer me some more samples. They are the best! I can never say no to more Teavivre samples (hey, they offered!) thank you so much, Teavivre! Teavivre’s instructions say 17 ounce of water which seems odd with a tablespoon of leaves which also seems odd at 203 degrees with a rinse and 1,2,3,4 minute steep times. I went with two teaspoons.
Steep#1 // 15-20 min after boiling // 2 min after rinse
I probably waited too long for the water to cool… not on purpose. The color of the tea looks like it does in Teavivre’s picture of the cup of tea… however the flavor doesn’t seem strong enough to be a favorite tea of mine. The flavor is so light! Also a bit tangy and a bit drying, which is why it might not be a favorite for me. BUT I’m probably not steeping it the correct way, since I didn’t follow any of the instructions… 17 ounces is confusing when I have 8-9 ounce mug… that probably threw everything else. This cup is tough for me to figure out since the flavor is so light.
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3 min
This cup has a deeper flavor… but not my much. It has a texture like those little fuzzies I thought were only on white teas… but this is the second black tea I’ve had this week like that. I wonder if I just haven’t noticed it before? I’m sad this tea didn’t taste like the chocolatey plum, apricot, cherry stone fruits that I’ve seen mentioned because those are my absolute favorite types of teas. This is like a lighter chocolate… very subtle flavors. This one isn’t my favorite from Teavivre… but pass me the perfectly steeped cup and it would probably be much better than this one.
So after the blender mishap you would think I would learn. You would be wrong. I went to fill up my kettle and poured half the water on the table. I guess I am in too big of a hurry to drink tea today.
This one is worth the mess I made. The label says, “Superfine”, why yes, yes it is. Clean and crisp. Much love.
Off to see what I can dump or break next.
I will eventually try this as a hot beverage but not today. I finally got proportions worked out for a nice frothy frappuccino type drink. Once I accepted this is not going to taste like Starbucks (because it is not matcha) I liked it fine. The main problem is learning to use less. A 1/2 tsp in a 16 oz drink is plenty. I made a creamy, sweet, green tinted tan concoction. The taste is more brown than green.
Safety tip – when you use a blender make sure the base is screwed on tightly. Yeah, all over the desk top.