Recent Tasting Notes


Thank you to Angel at TeaVivre for this lovely sample!

Dry: Luscious long twisty dark and dusty leaves with a few dark bronze pieces mixed in. I think of an elder tea tree when I look at and touch the leaves. There is an aroma of smooth malt, faint hay, and even a touch of cocoa. I’m already excited to brew it up because it smells like something delicious is going to evolve in the infuser (spoiler alert- it does!)

Steeped: Brewed Western style results in a clear brown liquor with a fairly complex fragrance of malt and dates with a hint of spice, and even earth. If I was blindfolded, I might wonder for a split second if this was a pu-erh before a sweet honeyed note with a floral background drifted up from the teapot. I bet this would be fantastic Gongfu style, too.

Flavor: This is probably the best black I’ve tried from TeaVivre so far besides my favorite Keemuns from them. Initially, there is something reminiscent of dates and molasses, chewy and dark. It is also naturally full-bodied and sweet with honey-flower notes, almost syrupy before it mellows. There is something in the background that is spiced and faintly earthy- reminds me of cedar when preparing to cook with it. My husband shared a cup with me this morning and he really likes it also. It resteeps nicely, though we stopped after 3. Overall, this tea is lovely, unique, complex and makes for an interesting tea experience. Definitely not your everyday Yunnan black- if you have the chance to give it a try, I’d highly recommend it. :)

Flavors: Cedar, Dates, Flowers, Honey, Malt, Sweet

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 7 tsp 17 OZ / 502 ML

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Angel at TeaVivre provided this sample. Thank you! I steeped it for 2 minutes. Teavivre recommends 9 minutes, but it got so dark so fast, I was worried! Turns out, I didn’t need to be.

In the first steep, I detected the usual earth notes, but also some caramel and cocoa and a bit of freshness from citrus or wood. There’s not much, if any, fermentation funk. It’s pretty clean tasting.

I decided to go full throttle on the second steep and brew it for 9 minutes to see how dark it would get. It got to pretty much the same level of darkness as the first steep and the flavor level was similar and still clean tasting.

This teabag is super convenient. I usually drink puerh gong fu-style, so it’s one I reserve to drink at home, rather than at work. Since this is a teabag and the tea seems pretty fool-proof, I could definitely bring it to work, which is a plus! This could totally be a daily drinker.

Also, it pairs really well with a piece of dark chocolate :)


I have yet to find something that dark chocolate doesn’t enhance :)

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Thank you so much for the samples, Teavivre! Always a great day to get a package from Teavivre! The leaves here are dusty black, large and very twisty. The leaves kind of look exactly like they would be from an ancient tree. The fragrance from the mug has such a caramel scent even before taking a sip and the color of the mug even looks like caramel. The flavor is caramel, honey, sweet like I actually added sugar, a little bready and a bit tangy to give the flavor depth. I imagine the tanginess is from the leaves being ancient. I’m not sure if I should have rinsed the leaves. The texture while drinking the tea is even syrupy! With the second steep, the tanginess evens out and the other flavors from the first cup remain. I tried a third half mug steep with a very long steep time, expecting a ruined, overleafed/oversteeped, undrinkable cup (what I usually describe as the oaky/woody leaf flavor), probably expecting this because the leaves are from an “ancient” tree but the third steep was delicious. Another smooth cup. It didn’t have that oversteeped leaves flavor at all, and was actually unexplainably unique. A nice one! Note to self: definitely don’t miss the third steep and I think a longer steep time won’t hurt the third steep either.
Steep #1 // 2 heaping teaspoons for 11 ounce mug // 15 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // 5 min after boiling // 3-4 min steep
Steep #3 // half mug // just boiled // 6+minutes


I really need to get around to placing a Teavivre order… I keep hearing such WONDERFUL things (plus, the photos on facebook are the best :) ).

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Oh this dry leaf smells wonderful. Its like honey drizzled over fruit. The cup scent is similar but more baked. If fills your senses as you begin tasting. I notice a spiciness, kind of peppery without the burn. This is very smooth. With no hint of bitterness. One taste I’m getting kind of strikes me as grape. Maybe its really plum and I don’t know any better. Slightly yam but the fruit taste is stronger. There is even the faintest touches of earth and leather. For as light as this seems on the first sip, there is so much depth here when you slow down and taste. Thank you Angel for this very nice tea.


This sounds amazing.

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Gotta love flavorful black teas on snowy mornings… Enjoying this in the beautifully sunny aftermath of the blizzard that, mercifully, barely brushed the DC area. Just a few inches yesterday, I’ve enjoyed the luxury of pulling in and out of the driveway that I didn’t have to shovel :) Wish my folks in RI were so lucky.

Solid cup of flavor, medium bodied and round, with a lingering cocoa and slight malt. There is a distinct perfumey note that I read through everyone’s notes to pin down but somehow didn’t settle on … it nears the intensity level of a bergamot… maybe that’s what fellow Steeps are describing as floral? or cedar? The woodiness, oddly, seemed more of a flavor-texture than a flavor. There’s a fruit in there, too, will have to chase that down in future steeps.

The smokiness is phantom-like, in and out, wonderfully described by Fjellrev as “a (very distant) campfire”…just a hint of extra character.

This isn’t the most cocoa-y or chocolatey black around but they’re there to enjoy.
This provided a full 3rd finium basket steep which was a little smoother and flavor-focused on the rear sides of my tongue. Looked up the tongue-map only to learn that it has been scientifically discredited. I missed that news. But the 3rd steep definitely had tongue-localized flavor, so there you go.

1st in another round of generous samples just received from Teavire, thank you for the tea tours!

Flavors: Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Dark Wood, Smoke

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Thank You Angel at Teavivre for this sample. This tea was very good. It was sweet in nature and had very little fermentation flavor. It had almost completely cleared as far as fermentation goes. I think I could describe the sweet notes to this tea as dates or plums what have you. This is one I will look into buying a cake of.

I steeped this eight times in a 220 ml gaiwan with 9.5g leaf and boiling water. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 30 sec, 1 min, and 2 min. The tea was by no means played out there was plenty left to it but I had had enough caffeine.

Flavors: Sweet

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 9 g 7 OZ / 220 ML

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This was yet another generous free sample from Teavivre.

I’ve spent the day drinking this and really enjoying it. Upon opening the packet I was hit by a waft of hay and spice. The dry leaf looked to be in large pieces if not whole leaves. Upon steeping the leaves turned green and it became clear that my initial impression was correct. The liquor was a light amber colour and gave off a floral aroma, like orchids. The taste was light and yet full, being peppery with fruity rum and raisin notes. I got little in the way of astringency, except when the cats distracted me by demanding attention and I steeped it for a tad too long. Even that was pleasant and left a peppery aftertaste on the tongue. It has lasted me all day, amounting to about twelve steeps, so the tea has pretty good legs. Overall, this is a good tea that I would be happy to drink more of. Good job I have a second sample pack, eh? I might try the next packet at a higher temperature and with a longer steeping time to see how that fares, given that Teavivre recommends 100 degrees C and a steep time of 5 to 10 minutes. Yes, 5 to 10 minutes! That seems like an awfully long time when I am in the habit of brewing shengs for 10-15 seconds at a time.

Flavors: Black Pepper, Hay, Orchid, Raisins, Rum, Spices

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 5 OZ / 150 ML
Red Fennekin

Mmm, this one sounds really good! One for the wishlist.


Wow, you actually make me want to retry pu-erh again.


i think i’ve tried this tea before. some teas i can steep for over 5 minutes like this one :) http://steepster.com/teas/yunnan-sourcing/48693-2006-nan-jian-phoenix-ripe-pu-erh-tea-mini-brick


others become extremely bitter :(

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A lovely roasted Tie Guan Yin. The roasting process has changed the flavor profile – the floral and vegetal notes that I might normally experience with a Tie Guan Yin are more toasty and nutty now. This adds a really nice dimension to the sweetness of this tea.

Early infusions are creamy and sweet. As it was quite hot, I noticed the tea was on the crisp side, but as the tea cooled slightly, it became softer and creamier. Later infusions became smoother, and the roasty-toasty notes became enhanced. I noticed notes of charcoal and freshly roasted chestnuts. The last infusions that I enjoyed of this tea became a different tea entirely, with a cleaner taste and notes of fruit.

Here’s my full-length review of my adventure with this tea: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/12/28/anxi-monkey-king-ma-liu-mie-tie-guan-yin-oolong-tea-from-teavivre/

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Oh, I haven’t tried this one before! Sample from Angel. I love the aroma. Light malt drenched in honey. There is no hint of smoke, bitterness, or rough edges. This is just oh so smooth. In the taste, I again get malt and honey. There is a baked quality to it like maybe cocoa. Beyond this I get occasional mineral notes, then stone fruit (apricot?). There are even occasional flashes of floral notes.

From a little research, Keemun refers to the growing area not a particular processing. That is good to know as I don’t think I would identify this as Keemun by tasting. I can identify it as a really tasty Chinese red (black) tea.

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Thank you Angel for this sample.

In raw form the leaves are dark brown/red, curly and smell of malt, wood and treacle.

Flavour reveals fruity raisin and date with sweet wood, brown sugar and malt tones. Rather light in strength with no astringency though slightly sour at times. Clean tasting and fresh throughout. Some dryness in the after taste.

Overall: A delicious Dian Hong with clean tasting and pure characteristics. Soft and sweet which balances nicely with the dark and rather rich malt and wood flavours. Personally, I prefer it creamier but this made a very nice drink this morning and it went down a treat. I would consider buying some of this to alternate with my golden tips.

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Dates, Malt, Raisins, Wood

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec 7 g 29 OZ / 850 ML

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After hanging out in the snowy woods again, I decided to have this tea. There is a sweet, bread like scent, with hints of honey and sweet potatoes. The flavour is more molasses and bittersweet dark chocolate. It is a bit darker than the others I’ve tried this weekend, but still good for snowy evenings.

Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Grain, Molasses

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Thank you to Angel at TeaVivre for this sample!

Let me preface this note by saying that I am a newbie to pu-erh teas. I have only tried a few before this one!

Dry: This came from a cake, but was mostly already broken up into smaller pieces. There were a few larger chunks that I reduced a bit before brewing. The black dry leaf is tightly packed, glossy, and bright. The smell from the sample pack is earthy at first, but reminds me of leather from my saddle after I take a second sniff, with a hint of a thick sweetness at the edges, like molasses.

Steeped: I wanted to brew this with the Western method, since that is what I most often use. When I brewed my last pu-erh and used Gongfu style, I awakened the leaves. I wasn’t sure if you still do this when brewing Western, but I went ahead and did a quick rinse before I fully infused. The leaves immediately started releasing their tannins and the fragrance intensified to sweet, warm dates. After steeping, the tea is a deep rich brown liquor and the aroma is even more potent.

Taste: My first sip reminded me of quality black coffee, but not because of the flavor. I drank coffee for years before I switched to tea and the texture and the hint of bitter/earthiness at the end of each sip is what awakens the memory. The taste itself is overall sweet with notes of worn leather, earth, dates, and even a hint of floral and tobacco. It is not a simple tea, though it does have that same smooth/serene nature as the Superfine Tan Yang Gong Fu from earlier (with an entirely different profile otherwise).

I brewed this with bottled Spring water and it resteeped wonderfully so far with the flavor remaining fully intact after 3 in a row. I can see it is good to go for at least a few more. While I am very thankful I was able to try it, I tend to avoid teas with notes of tobacco, earth, etc. I am giving it a high rating though because I try not to rate teas based on whether they match my taste buds, but rather that it was exactly as described on the TeaVivre website. I know there are others that would love this with the deep complexity released from the aged leaves. Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend! :)

Flavors: Dates, Earth, Floral, Leather, Smooth, Tobacco

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 10 g 17 OZ / 502 ML

I ordered this because the sample was so good that we all nommed our cups, and it should be here this week! YAY!


They ship so fast! I couldn’t believe this had arrived already when I went to the mailbox. Hope yours is in your mailbox tomorrow. :)

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While staying inside for a bit (snow again) I decided to have this tea and a Beastmaster episode. There is a scent of maybe dark brown sugar or molasses. The flavour is on the sweet side, with some plum notes. It is good for winter afternoons.

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My room mate ordered this tea to try a flowered tea for the first time, and damn were we impressed. Full body of a black tea, with the sweet touch of rose. Definitely a good sweet tea to have around the house for when your sweet tooth is calling your name!

Boiling 1 min, 0 sec

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This was another free sample from Teavivre for which I must thank the lovely Angel.

I broke the first tuo in half to use it and it broke down into teeny tiny pieces. Based on this experience, I left the second one whole. One of the things I like about these tuos is that they come wrapped individually in paper wrappers. The designs on these wrappers (and indeed for most puerhs) have a strong aesthetic appeal for me.

As mentioned, the tuo broke down into teeny tiny pieces when I picked it apart. As it brewed, it became clear that it was largely chopped leaf and that there were quite a few sticks in there too. I did not expect any whole leaf really, because it is a mini tuo.

The dry leaf is honey-sweet and woody. As it brews, a smokiness in the aroma comes to the fore, and the leaf proves to be green. The liquor is yellow-ish green. I found it a tad milky instead of being completely clear, even after a couple of washings.

I liked the lightness and creaminess of this tea. It has floral and vegetal notes to it with a slight astringency that could be ameliorated by shorter steeps. This gives it a thick mouthfeel that is refreshing at the same time. There’s honey in the aftertaste with a wee nip at the end of it. The empty cup smells strongly of honey after drinking too.

For a tuo this is pretty good, although not top of my list of shengs, but then I have been spoilt by tasting some really good shengs in the past!

Flavors: Floral, Honey, Smoke, Vegetal, Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 130 ML

Excellent analysis.


Thank you.

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This was a free sample from Teavivre. Thank you and sorry for taking so long to write it up.

So, hello, Steepster. Remember me? I stopped coming around over the past few months. I’ve still been drinking tea, but I have not written up any of the notes I made. Time to rectify that problem.

This is a really fresh smelling leaf with a smell of warm hay. The leaves are soft and fuzzy. The liquor is almost clear. There is a fresh sweetness to it that is really lovely, like a cucumber sandwich on a hot summer’s day, or a good melon. The warmth of the hay comes through in the liquor too, with a balanced savoury sweetness that makes the tea both refreshing and moreish. This is a tea that belongs in my cupboard.

Flavors: Creamy, Cucumber, Hot hay, Melon

165 °F / 73 °C 1 min, 0 sec 3 g 250 OZ / 7393 ML

I thought I heard a Viking roar from across the pond! Good to see you!


Berserker Expert yo!


Thank you, friends. Yes, I have been neck deep in the blood and gore of my enemies (or just stuck with too much work and not enough time), but my axe is clean once more, my enemies have been crushed beneath my chariot wheels, and their women have finished lamenting. I do indeed know what is best in life! :)


Glad to see you back! I have a sample or two of this – I must get around to trying it


I think it’s worth trying. There’s a lot going on with it, and I think it is a good one for when you want something sweeter or lighter. I look forward to seeing what you think of it.

Should I change my nomme de klavier to Conan the Tea-Taster now?


I know Conan, Robert Howard.


Welcome back Dr. Roughage! I’ve been quite absent as well…nice to see you again :-)

(I miss your bear puns)


I shall do my best to bear up under the pressure of the need to provide more puns, TeaFairy, but please bear with me and I shall do my best.

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Thank you so much to Angel at TeaVivre for the samples!

Dry: Fine, airy, short tea leaves with significant golden pekoe that carry the aroma of baked sweet potatoes and fragrant grass hay. Do you ever take a whiff of dry loose leaf and have the knowledge that you will enjoy it before your first sip? That happened this morning for sure. The pekoe is bright and lovely even against the stainless infuser backdrop.

Steeped: Brewed Western style that produces a deep red-brown clear liquor. The thin leaves unfurl and become milk-chocolate colored in the infuser. The scent is malty-sweet with a honey aroma that develops as you keep inhaling.

Taste: This tea is very tasty without being overpowering. Delicate notes of malt and sweet potatoes that are very smooth and light on the tongue. This is not a heavy or thick tea, but rather one that gently envelops the senses with a sweet presence. I saw that some people detected astringency, but steeped at 1 minute, there is absolutely nothing brisk or bitter about it. I think this would be an excellent choice to help someone new to fall in love with Chinese black teas.

Flavors: Malt, Smooth, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes

195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

Love this one! :)


It’s so good! I forgot to mention that it resteeps very well, too.


Yes, that’s a good one!

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Thank you Angel for sending me this sample.

It used to be that when I thought of Keemums I thought of smoke, but Teavivre introduced me to a world of Keemuns that have no or very, very little smoke. I think it’s pretty well known that I love a good smoky tea, but I’m also intrigued by all of the layers of flavor that are present in Keemuns when the smoky note is absent. This offer by Teavivre is a great example.

The tea starts off with a moderate malty note followed by a light floral note and something hinting at spice. Kind of an all spice flavor, but not quite. Then there are notes of honey with a dark cocoa flavor underneath. Every now and then I’d taste plum, but I didn’t get too many stone fruit flavors. Overall, this was a very nice cup.

The second steep was completely different from the first except for the malt note. I also tasted baked bread and leather. There was much more of an earthy feel to the second cup as opposed to the first. It was much more bracing and what I’ve come to expect from Keemuns. Again, a very nice cup. I can’t even say which steep I preferred more since they were both quite tasty in their own way.

A really nice offer from Teavivre. I’m looking forward to drinking more of this one.

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Thank you Angel for this sample.

In appearance the leaves are: dark brown, thin and curly with some golden tips present. Also has stick/stem pieces. It has a sweet wood and malt scent with a touch of cocoa and smoke.

Once steeped the colour is golden red/brown and bares a rich but sweet malt scent with sour cocoa and fresh wood.

Flavour is medium in strength with sweet malt tones that lighten to reveal fig and prune notes. The fruit lingers in the after taste with some wood and dryness. As it cools it becomes slightly more sour and smoky.

Overall: Other than some sourness it is rather smooth and lightly creamy which makes the delicious malt and fruit flavours linger. Strength remained consistent and pleasing.

Flavors: Cocoa, Fig, Malt, Smoke, Sweet, Wood

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 30 sec 7 g 20 OZ / 600 ML

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Having a little sheng tonight. I thought the first few steeps with a little harsh/bitter but it did mellow out in later steeps. This one is a little bit too green for me. I don’t think this is bad, just not really to my tastes.

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Since it’s snowy outside, I decided to have my first Teavivre tea of the year. Yesterday, it was with an Elizabeth Chadwick novel, and today with Stargate SG-1 (my second favourite television show). This tea reminds me so much of dark chocolate. It has that dark cocoa scent, with a little bit of malt. The flavour is a little sweet, and has the chocolate notes. Glad I got to try this, as I haven’t had any keemun in a while. Thanks to Teavivre for this sample. :)

Flavors: Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Malt

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Some quick notes on this one while I listen to music tonight, currently have Nirvana – Bleach playing.

Scent is toasted and floral though subtle.
Flavour is toasted with hay, flower and sweet wood tones. Some astringency with a sour quality. Tastes like an Oolong rather than a green tea, or at least that’s what I found. Like a toastier version of a Cloud Mist green.

Another cup brings out the savoury flavours, resembling a blend of baked broccoli and asparagus. Also the sweetness seems to have increased somewhat.

These meant to be quick notes but I got carried away with the music, moved on to Avenged SevenFold – Beast And The Harlot now. It was a nice green with Oolong qualities that had enough flavour and character to be pleasing, though I don’t think I could drink it all the time. Husband was surprised this was a green tea too.

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Still playing with this one and enjoy the variety of tastes I am getting. Smoky but not overwhelming and the undercurrent of malt and spice is really quite nice.

This reserved black is a perfect way to start the day but also can serve very nicely for my 3p cup.

Flavors: Malt, Smoke, Spices

190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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