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Recent Tasting Notes
Today is tournament day! I am fighting PHR and honestly I have no idea if I can win, see PHR are really good at killing things…and the Scourge (in particular me) is really good at dying. I hold the record for the lowest kill to death ratio, meaning I am really good at dying, which is funny because it doesn’t mean I am bad at winning. Depending on the scenario, I might be very well suited to win, because my big advantage over the PHR is speed, they are super slow and I am the queen of speed!
It is spring, meaning it is time to revel in the spring harvested green teas! This week will be all about greens, specifically a set of five green teas from Teavivre! Today’s green tea of choice is Lu Shan Yun Wu Green Tea, a curly and very green leafed tea from Jiangxi Province in China. This particular tea was plucked April 10, 2015, which, if I remember my calender correctly, means it was harvested between Qing Ming and Gu Yu, making it awesomely fresh. The aroma of the tea (which is also known as Clouds and Mist Tea) is a blend of nutty and vegetal, it has a bit of spinach, some toasted sesame, a distinct yet mild roasted peanut note, a sharp note of artichoke, and a finish of raw asparagus. It smells super green, and very fresh, like a pile of vegetables right out of a garden…and like someone is roasting nuts in the kitchen.
Into my tall plum blossom gaiwan the leaves go, to have their dance with the water. After steeping the aroma becomes really intense, pretty much all the nutty notes have vanished, replaced with a mountain of vegetal notes. It starts with a very strong cooked asparagus, a nice note of cooked spinach, a bit of broccoli, and a finish of bell pepper. It kinda smells like food and honestly makes me more than a little hungry for stir fried vegetables. The liquid is fairly mild on the first steep, with notes of sauteed vegetables (primarily bell pepper and asparagus) and finish of gentle nuttiness.
First steeping, and wow, this tea is not mild, it packs quite the vegetal punch! It starts out sweet and nutty, like roasted peanuts and a hint of honey. Then boom, sharp asparagus, slightly bitter yet leafy kale, crisp bok choy and bell peppers, and a surprisingly sweet finish, kind of like the sweetness of carrots without the taste of carrots.
The aroma of the second steeping is sweet and vegetal, there are notes honey and peanuts, followed by asparagus, spinach, and a bit of bell pepper. The taste, well, remember last steep how the aroma made me hungry for stir fried vegetables, well the taste kinda satiated that craving. It is a blend of stir fried (in sesame oil if we are being really fancy) bell peppers, asparagus, bok choy, and a touch of broccoli. If this sounds delicious to you, then let me tell you, it is. I am a sucker for really vegetal green teas (yes, yes, I am sucker for teas in general, but shush) and this one takes the cake. The aftertaste is a touch of pepper and then a bit later a bloom of honey.
Third steeping time! The aroma is more sweet than vegetal this time around, with notes of honey and toasted sesame overpowering the more gentle notes of bell pepper. Ok, so here is where it gets weird, this steep has one of the best tasting notes ever, it tastes like capers but without the pickle aspect, it is really quite awesome and unique. Mix this in with gentle black pepper, bell pepper, and a touch of bok choy and you have a green end to a very green tea.
so i won one tea ball of this from teavivre
when I smell the tea ball dry, it smells like flowers.
when I smell the bloomed flower it smells sweet and flowery
when I smell the brewed tea, it smells like white tea and flowers
when i taste the brewed tea, it tastes like white tea and flowers
Flavors: Floral, Flowers, Sweet
It’s a beautiful, sunny, Sunday here today, so I spent the morning in the garden catching up on my reading (Ryan Lavelle’s ’Alfred’s Wars’, if you are interested), watching the cats play, and drinking this flowering tea. It looks fantastic and I love watching flowering teas open. Better yet, this tea was still light, slightly fruity and very refreshing despite having been in the cupboard a while. A great start to the day and spoilt only by the need to crack on with some work now.
Leaves: small golden rolled leaves
Aroma: regular black tea
Taste: Finally I reached the last tea to review in my collection! This yea had a similar look to the golden tip black tea. I finally found the perfect tea brewing notes as well when using 8oz of water! Upon first sip i got a little bit of bitterness but it quickly went away as i continued drinking. A slightly dry tea finish with almost no tea particle escaping the tea ball. The clarity was great clean and clear! As for taste it was similar to the Keemun tea i had the other day. The longer steep revealed a darker tone w/ slightly deeper flavor.
Leaves: small rolled leaves
Aroma: regular black tea
Taste: One more tea to go in my collection! This is my second Keemun Fragrant Black Tea but this time with a different company. The first steep was light in flavor & aroma so decided to go for 2 more steeps to see if it would reveal any thing different. 2m slightly more flavor but still light. 3m revealed the same even though i slightly over boiled my water lol. Overall a nice light black tea no bitterness & great clarity!
I’m starting to taste black teas on a fruity – chocolaty continuum. Perhaps its more of a triangle – and ‘tobacco-y’ is at one corner, too. This definitely falls into the fruity side of things, with maybe a tiny bit of chocolate manifesting as the dark flavors in the tea.
Flavors: Cherry, Fruity
A sample from Angel at Teavivre. I feel like I’ve said this a fair bit recently, but Pu’Erh is a variety of tea that’s very new to me, and which I’m still learning about. I’ve tried a good few different ones now, and some common characteristics have emerged – probably enough to know that it’ll never be my favourite type of tea, but by no means enough for me to rule it out completely. Some Pu’Erhs I’ve loved, some I’ve hated. In any case, the adventure continues!
This is the latest installment. I used one tuocha, discarded the first steep as a rinse, and then gave it approximately 3 minutes in fresh boiling water. 3 minutes sits right in the middle of the recommended parameters, so I figured it was a fair place to start. The scent is of earth with a slight hint of manure, and the resulting liquor is very dark brown (almost black), and I feared for a moment that the flavour would be far too intense for my tastes. Not so, apparently. This Pu’Erh is actually fairly mellow, with an initial soil-like earthiness (I’m thinking wet soil after a heavy rain shower), which intensifies a little towards the end of the sip and then fades away. A mild orchid note emerges in the aftertaste, lending this tea a fresh and fragrant profile. It just goes to show that a strong-looking dark liquor doesn’t necessarily equate to overpowering flavour, which was a useful lesson for me when it comes to Pu’Erh. Another small piece of my Pu’Erh fear has been dispelled! The thing I like most about this is its almost soft-tasting smoothness. It’s so silky and easy to drink – a real pleasure.
Second steep, again for 3 minutes in boiling water. The liquor is, again, a very dark (almost black) brown. While brewing, it took on a brothier scent (almost reminiscent of beef oxo, although obviously nowhere near as strong!) The underlying earth/manure scent is still present. The taste is much the same, although marginally milder – wet earth, a light orchid floral, but this time with a hint of nuttiness and a fleeting flash of caramel. The second steep is as smooth as the first, but with an even creamier mouthfeel. It’s absolutely delicious, and it’s not often you’ll hear me say that about a Pu’Erh!
Third steep, again for 3 minutes in boiling water. The liquor is a dark golden-ish brown this time, so noticeably paler than previous steeps.The scent while brewing is less pungent now as well – hardly there at all, in fact. The taste is very mellow, with hardly any earth/manure notes to be found. There’s a lot more orchid-like floral in the mid-sip, and an almost camphor like coolness in the aftertaste that I can feel at the back of my throat. An interesting progression from steeps one and two.
Fourth steep, again for 3 minutes in boiling water. The liquor is paler still at this stage, now a medium orange-brown. The scent is about level with the previous steep, barely there but still mildly earthy with a hint of manure. The taste is broadly similar to steep 3, although with stronger cooling notes. I’m thinking peppermint rather than camphor now, although very mild. The orchid note is still there in the aftertaste, although it’s fainter and less noticable overall.
Fifth steep, this time for 4 minutes in boiling water. The liquor is again noticeably paler – a medium red-orange with only mild notes of earth and no manure! The taste this time is really barely there. There’s still a coolness, although even that is less intense than previous steeps. The earth, manure and floral notes are all but gone as well, although there’s a mild nuttiness that sets this apart from just warm water. I’m impressed at how smooth this one has remained throughout all of my steeps, including this one. There’s absolutely no bitterness or astringency, even though the leaves have been dunked in boiling water for a combined total of 16 minutes.
I imagine this one could probably go on a bit longer, although I suspect it’d need much longer steeps to really eek out any flavour. This one tuocha has lasted me all day, though, so I’m happy to leave it here for now. There comes a point in the day when I really just want to drink something different, anyway! I’m impressed with this one, though. It’s a great quality tea, and the resteeps make it excellent value. There are very few Pu’Erhs that I can say outright that I enjoyed drinking, but this is one of them! Another excellent offering from Teavivre.
Leaves: large green/brown leaves
Color: dark yellow
Taste: This tea was more messy then the rest in terms of measuring i just pinched off a bit & put it into my tea ball. During the steep quite a few of tea particles escaped, for the 6m brew time. Aroma i didn’t pick up on much of anything it was very light and faint. As for taste it was bland.
For a while in my tea-drinking career, I was reluctant to give up bagged tea in favor of loose leaf tea. I thought that I’d be giving up strength of flavor for complexity of flavor – that loose leaf teas would always be weak compared to the full-bodied (albeit simple) flavors of a CTC tea. If I’d started with this tea, I wouldn’t have had to worry at all. This has all of the immediacy of a quick steeping bagged tea AND all of the levels and gradations in flavor found in a loose leaf. It would be a perfect transition tea for those used to their morning cup of Twinings English Breakfast or the like.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Chocolate, Honey, Malt
A sample from Angel at Teavivre. I’m not the biggest fan of Pu’Erh, but I’m learning to tolerate/appreciate it as I continue exploring. These bags are certainly a convenient way of preparing pu’erh, which I usually brew western-style at work anyway. I used 1 bag (which looks to contain a generous 1 tsp of leaf) and gave it 1.5 minutes in boiling water. The guidelines specify between 2 and 9 minutes, but I’m afraid I’m just not that brave! The resulting liquor is a deep, dark brown (almost black), and smells (characteristically) of horse manure and earth.
To taste, it’s not as pungent as the scent would suggest. It’s definitely VERY earthy, but in a warm compost sort of way which is actually quite pleasant. It’s very spring-like and naturally wholesome in flavour, without the heavy, cloying notes that some Pu’Erhs possess. It’s also smooth, with no astringency whatsoever.
The scent is probably the most off-putting thing for me, but once I get past that I can actually find it in myself to enjoy a cup of Pu’Erh, particularly when the flavour is as clean and light as this. The very end of the sip verges on the almost-fecal, but it’s not a flavour that’s present throughout, and thankfully it doesn’t linger long.
I’m pretty convinced that Pu’Erh is never going to be 100% my thing. I think I have too much of a sweet tooth for that! I can happily drink the occasional cup, though, and this one is a good choice for those moments. Convenient to brew, not too strong, and lacking most of the more unsavoury flavours Pu’Erh can have. This would be a good introductory choice for those new to the variety, and those who are just plain scared (like I was!)
A sample from Angel at Teavivre, and fairly long overdue thanks to various winter illnesses. Apologies, Angel! I’m glad I reserved this one until I was feeling better, though, because it’s clearly a tea to be savoured. The dry leaf is thin and wiry, and the scent is beautiful; cocoa, grain and honey! I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 2.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium golden brown, and smells deliciously chocolatey.
To taste, I can immediately detect cocoa, which quite dry and almost powdery, and sweet malt which lingers beautifully. The mid-sip contains a hint of smoke, almost like burnt toast, but it’s by no means overwhelming. There’s also a touch of syrupy sweetness reminiscent of sugarcane. The flavours are quite heavy and “dark” tasting, but the tea itself is smooth and very easy to drink for the most part. A tiny bit of astringency creeps in as the cup stars to cool, but it remains entirely peripheral so it’s not too much of a bother. The flavours linger long in the aftertaste, which is very pleasant, and as they mellow out it’s possible to find the honey and a light floral reminiscent of orchid. It’s completely delicious!
I can see why Angel included this as part of a winter tea tasting pack. It would be the perfect warming cup on a cold, dark day. It’s equally pleasant on a cool, crisp spring day, though, and in actual fact it’s a tea I could happily drink all year round. Definitely one I’ll stock up on once I’ve finished my samples!
Leaves: dark green with white sections
Taste: I was shocked when i first opened this pack of tea it wasn’t the typical pu-erh i was used to seeing. What i encountered was green leaves followed by a vegetable aroma, instead of the typical dark leaf/earthy aroma. It produced a yellow toned tea the aroma closer to a white or green tea. As for taste it was very light in flavor that is what set it apart from the previous pu-erh.
I have been drinking this tea for weeks now and i have got to say that it’s amazing. It you are a pu erh drinker like me you would definitely will enjoy a cup of this tea. The Chinese have been using Pu erh tea for digestive properties for thousands of years. I wouldn’t drink this after 6:00pm because of caffeine levels in the tea.
Flavors: Butter, Leather, Wet Earth, Wet Wood
Leaves: large tea block
Color: dark reddish brown
Taste: This time i came across cake from of pu-erh, i tore off a piece hoping it wouldn’t be too much for a 8oz cup. With a rinse done i was ready to brew 3m for starters. This brew was bland with no bitterness at first then upon cooling i noticed a slight bitterness that faded in and out as i sipped on my cup. Not much of an after taste left but it had a bit of a cooling sensation at the back of my throat.Overall i don’t quite know how i feel about this particular pu-erh.
Leaves: medium w/ tangerine pieces
Color: reddish brown
Taste: Due to my previous brewing i decided to let this cup go for 6 minutes instead of the longer steep of 8m. what surprised me was the large pieces of the tangerine peel that was in the sample packet i received. The aroma of the dry leaf was sweet & earthy while on the other hand the brewed cup had a bit of a burnt/earthy smell to it. The color was lighter in comparison to the previous pu-erh & i could see the bottom of my tea cup. I should also mention before brewing i also gave this tea a bit of a rinse. As for the taste i really didn’t get much of anything in terms of flavor.
Another sample from Angel at Teavivre, for which I am phenomenally grateful.
So, catching up with writing up the teas once more, I find myself coming to my notes on this one. I brewed it in a gaiwan for a change and felt the extra effort was well worth it.
Upon adding water to the leaf I was immediately hit by a waft of malt and raisins, and the resultant liquor was very dark. It tasted primarily of malt and raisins with a pleasing bitterness at the back of the throat. Apart from this bitterness, the main experience was smooth and mellow, developing more rounded fruity notes as it cooled. There was a hint of winter berries in the colder brew supported by notes of allspice that gave it a Christmassy feel. The aftertaste was thick and sweet. Overall, yet another tea that I would be happy to have in my cupboard in quantity.
Flavors: Fruity, Malt, Raisins, Spices
Free sample from Angel at Teavivre. Thank you for this and apologies for taking so long to review it. Life does not always comply with one’s need to taste and write up teas, sadly.
I am always pleased to write about teas from Teavivre because I have never had a dud one yet, and this did not break with tradition.
The dry leaf gave off an instant chocolatey hit when I opened the packet. I tipped the whole sample into my 250ml pot and set to, starting off at a 1 minute steep and adding 2 minutes to the time for each of two subsequent steeps. The liquor was a dark red brown colour and tasted fruity and light when I first sipped it. A dark chocolate taste developed like a high cocoa butter content chocolate (up in the 85% range for the chocolate fiends). Like the chocolate, the taste was thick with cocoa and a bitter edge to it, but it also had an note of warm hay. This developed into sweetness in the aftertaste that I really liked. The resteeps were similar, although the depth of flavour very quickly dropped off despite the large amount of leaf I used. This is another tea that I would happily buy several packets of.
Flavors: Chocolate, Fruity, Hot hay
A sample from Angel at Teavivre, and a long overdue tasting due to various winter illnesses. At least now I’m fully recovered and able to appreciate tea once again! I used 1 tsp of leaf for today’s cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. No additions.
The liquor is a medium brown with a reddish cast, which I suppose is par for the course with a western style brewing. The scent is baked bread with a hint of chocolate -absolutely delicious, and so enticing. I was a little surprised by my initial sip, which held more sourness than I was expecting. It reminds me a little of sourdough, actually, and complements the baked bread note that’s also detectable. The mid-sip is where the chocolate lives, and it’s a bittersweet, high-cacao sort of chocolate flavour. There’s a strong kick of malt here, too, which helps to sweeten things up a little. The maltiness lingers into the aftertaste, where it’s joined by a light grain flavor. My overall impression is of a full-bodied, bittersweet tea with strong bread and chocolate notes – cups like this remind me of how I came to love Chinese black teas so much! There’s so much depth and flavour here, it’s impossible to be disappointed.
Yesterday’s cup of this tea was brewed similarly – 1 tsp of leaf for around 4 minutes in boiling water – the exception being that I added milk. Based on today’s cup, I can safely say that milk isn’t required – it’s such a smooth tea, with no astringency whatsoever. It does change the flavour profile a little, though.
With milk, this makes for an equally wonderful cup. The initial sip holds the same bread and chocolate notes, but they’re rounded and smoother. The malt is more prominent in the mid-sip; this and the creaminess of the milk make this into a slightly sweeter cup, with the chocolate coming across more as a high quality milk, rather than the darker, more intense chocolate of the cup left black. There’s also a light smokiness in the aftertaste that helps to replace some of the depth that the milk erased.
I’m happy to drink this one either way, as both work equally well. Milk isn’t required by any means, and possibly it’s a little surplus, but it makes for a sweeter, creamier cup and sometimes that suits my mood. Today’s black cup is just as fulfilling, though, proving that this is a versatile and forgiving tea with plenty of flavour to go around. I’d recommend this to anyone, and it’s certainly one I’ll look to repurchase in future!
Leaves: mesh tea bag
Color: deep brown/black
Taste: I don’t have much experience when it comes to Pu-erh teas,this was something new to have it in tea bag from. I also have quite a few other teas like this one that i will be getting threw in preparation for new spring teas. I was surprised by this tea during the brewing process b/c of how dark the color is like black coffee. As for clarity I couldn’t see the bottom of my cup, but when scooped up with a spoon I noticed a reddish-brown clear tone tea. Overall I found this tea to be bland & bitter
What is that soggy-leaf flavor that some teas have? If I could pinpoint this, I think I’d be much better able to identify my own tea preferences. Is it the ‘floral’ note?
Definitely sticking to oolongs with a ‘roasted’ flavor profile in the future.
Thank you, KittyLovesTea, for a sample of this tea!
I remember when DAVID’s Tea carried Jasmine silver needles (white tea). This is how I remember the tea- light and floral and mellow. Lovely.
However, I’m starting to realize that I’m not a white tea person. I do enjoy it, but I don’t find myself reaching for it too often. If I want caffeine, I’ll drink green tea. If not, I want decaf or herbal teas. White tea has a small amount of caffeine and that alone makes me not drawn to it too often. Also, it’s quite costly and hard to find “standing alone” (meaning without a whole bunch of ingredients masking the taste). I know that isn’t really related to the tasting note, but I think I’ll use up the white teas I have and won’t repurchase.