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Recent Tasting Notes
Tea party day! Well, we have two a week now but Wednesday is still the one where we have three teas and LOTS of food. Youngest made pumpkin scones that had a glaze over the top and then a pumpkin drizzle on top of that. The scones were sooo moist. The texture was perfect, not hard and dry like the ones you buy.
I like an unflavored tea with the food, so this tea went first. I had her prepare by the package instructions instead of using my usual Western parameters for black tea. It was really so very good. This is a shelf staple.
It is a very satisfying tea by itself but also goes well with food. It is economical as it resteeps very well. And it is so good, with slight malt, a little yam, and just plain good tea flavor.
This tea is so far superior to the one from Teavana in my opinion, and it is probably half the price. It is a tea that can go with any mood, any food. I served it today to youngest and her friend and I forgot to put milk and sugar on the table. It didn’t matter. They drank it plain. I think both girls have been trying to drink their tea straight for a couple of months now, and this one is an easy one to learn to like like sans additions.
Mercuryhime got me thinkkng…and looking around. She mentioned having to clean when you invite people to tea. Well, Mercuryhime, if I am ever in the area, don’t clean for me because I just want to be with you! Let your dogs lick my face, let me get dirt on my shoes in your garden, I will be happy! I love getting to know new people and learning from them.
BUT…I am going to bare all and tell you PART of what is cluttering my kitchen right now. Remember, my kitchen is large though my house is small, because this was a kitchen/den combination when the house was built, with a tiny dining area. A den was added, so the old “den” is now informal dining and school table and the formal tiny dining corner is now the laundry area and bread making center.
Okay, here goes. Tomatoes everywhere on the island, cucumbers because I am about to make pickles, teapots all down the counter, a Breville, a mixer, two ceramic egg holders because I don’t refrigerate my eggs. (Fresh, unwashed eggs have an antibiotic coating from the hen.) There is a cooling rack out still from muffin making, a cast iron Dutch oven that I can’t put away due to my surgery and am waiting for someone else to do It, two jars of kefir fermenting, a compost pail, some recycling that hasn’t been carried out, lots of spices, a mortar and pestle full of eggshells that need to be distributed, a bowl of fruit. I have my mother’ s and godmother’s rolling pins and my MIL’s old hand powered egg beater. All sitting out or displayed. It really does look like an old general store in there. On the fireplace, there are candles, lanterns, a candle box, a paper towel tube (WHY?), and some magazines. That is probably less than half. LOL!
Does anyone else dare tell what is sitting out in their kitchen? Several OCD people probably just fainted. I am sorry! :D
FYI: we eat almost all our meals at the little tea table in the “L” of the living room because of all the stuff in the kitchen.
This has become a “go to” black tea for me. Whether I am pairing it with food or just want something that I think anyone will like, even non-tea drinkers, it is a safe bet. It is sweet and honeyed and smooth, so it really needs no additions.
This was the first tea of tea party. I am going to ask for your input today about how I sometimes serve tea and choose the pairings. If anyone has any helpful tips or advice, I welcome it.
Since this was the “tea party before Christmas” and our gift exchange day, I served loaded baked potato soup. We seldom do “real” food. I chose this tea to go with it because I felt it had enough presence to still be enjoyed but no flavors that would compete with or overshadow the food.
I thought it went with the soup very well. I knew I had to step up the strength of the next black tea served so it could compete with dessert so this was a great starting place.
Somehow I had failed to add this to my cupboard. What an oversight because I love this one!
Today I made a new cake to try out some new pans. I bought the half size Bundt pans and though I really should have made my pound cake recipe I decided to try a new recipe called Hungarian Embassy cake. I got the recipe from a friend who was at an embassy dinner over twenty years ago. She loved the dessert so much she asked for the recipe, and then was featured in our local paper for her baking and they ran the recipe, too.
I invited my best friend over for cake and tea. I also wanted a good excuse to use my new variable temp kettle again. The cake has a streak of brown sugar and cinnamon through it, so I thought this would be a good match for it.
My friend was captivated by the honey aroma of the tea. She really loved it. The resteep was just as good, making this an excellent value as well as an excellent tea. It was a great value even without its resteep-ability!
Smooth, honeyed, a tiny tad malty, and utterly delicious, this is a cupboard staple. Teavivre blows me away.
Back logging from yesterday: it was tea party day and I didn’t get our teas logged because we stayed over our teacups for an extra hour. I guess we were catching up on all we missed because of missing tea party the week before.
This was the first tea I served. I had tried it earlier in the day using cooler water and a short steep time. For tea party, I made it by more customary western parameters for a black tea.
We were thrilled with this tea. The extra steep time increased the flavor and sweetness and did not add even a hint of bitterness to it. My guest gasped and ooh-ed and ah-ed and said that it was a thumbs up and a winner for her. The sweet potato goodness won her heart, and it was her favorite tea of the day.
This is not as caramel-y as the recent Harney and Sons version, so it has a slightly lighter body, though I had one harvest batch from H&S that was almost identical to this. I think the sweet potato flavor may be more pronounced in the Teavivre one and both are probably equally sweet, with the H&S tea leaning toward a honeyed sweetness.It is an excellent tea, and half the price, so it is a good choice if you want to save money or drink it more often. This will be going on a future order for me.
How do you taste a new company’s rendition of a favorite tea? One hopes to keep an open mind! I hope I did here! I will be tasting this twice today and it may be very different each time.
Harney and Sons Golden Monkey has been a tea party staple for a long time. I first tried it on someone’s recommendation back when I still took milk and sugar and I was disappointed in it. When I tried it plain, I was amazed at how delicious it was. The additions really hurt the tea in my opinion.
Then hubby picked up some from Teavana, and while it smelled just like H&S it lacked the body and satisfying maltiness, and I only enjoyed it as a breakfast tea with milk and sugar.
The question now was…where will Teavivre GM fall in the scale? And that question may not be fully answered until after tea party today!
For this morning, I am making this tea according to Teavivre’s recommendations. They use steeling parameters more common to Asian methods than to western steeping, so their black teas are lighter and more delicate, unlike the rough treatment we barbarians give to our hearty breakfast teas and British legacy teas, to steal a phrase from Michael Harney.
The verdict on this method of brewing: it’s all here! The sweet, smooth liquor with sweet potato flavor and a nice touch of malt is refined, medium-bodied, and smooth. No astringency. With the lower temperature and shorter steep time it is not as strong as my H&S cup made western style would be, but it is delicious nevertheless.
This afternoon I will be making a large pot using western steeping parameters to serve at tea party. I am looking forward to my guest’s and youngest daughter’s reactions and thoughts.
Edited to add: VERY IMPORTANT NOTE! I just looked up both of these teas and Teavivre’s is almost exactly half the price of H&S. This is an important factor to consider if money is an object.
Both are less expensive than Teavana’s, which is my least favorite of the three.
TeaVivre provided me with this sample, but I feel that I cannot properly review it. I brewed this in a gaiwan and rinsed before trying a sip. This is just too strong for my tastes. The scent and taste of the ginseng is what bothers me, I think. I appreciate the diversity of samples provided by this awesome company, but this is unfortunately not my cup of tea.
Angel and Teavivre were very kind to include a sample of this tea in my last sample box that arrived from them! They noticed I had mentioned in one review wanting to try an unflavored since their flavored sample was my first mik oolong.
I had my bestie over today for Japanese Lettuce Wraps. I was really in the mood for some Teavivre Monkey Picked Oolong, but only had enough of my sample left for a small pot. I ordered a full pouch but it hasn’t arrived yet, so I went ahead and made a small pot of Monkey Picked and a bigger pot of this. It is a great opportunity to compare both.
Sniffing both of these made me giddy. The Monkey Picked was just what I was looking forward to – baked, rich aroma and ultra smooth. I sniffed this one and was surprised at the great difference! It smelled so green, so floral, and the baked aroma was very much in the background, not right in front like Monkey Picked.
I sipped this one first and wondered if I was losing my mind. This unflavored milk oolong has more of a milky taste and feel to me than I remember the flavored one having! Oh so smooth, lightly floral, deliciously milky. My guest loved it and drank a lot more tea today than she usually has at my house!
Both of these were excellent teas! We finished both pots, and I am so glad I have a Teavivre order on the way! Thank you, Teavivre, for expanding my horizons and letting me try this, I think between the unflavored and flavored milk oolong, I would buy the unflavored!
I should have made this tea while my daughter was here because I think this one is right up her alley. She likes green tea that makes its presence known, not ultra smooth but rather assertive without being bitter. Perhaps a hint of sourness? Those are the greens she reacts most favorably to.
This is one of those greens that has cocoa or chocolate aromas to me, even when steeped. The taste is making me think of oven roasted root vegetables today. This would be over the top fabulous with a meal I bet. As it is, I have enjoyed it immensely as my after-breakfast-sip-during-yoga tea.
I did not make it by their suggested parameters this time as it was the last of the packet and there s a little less than needed for a pot. I used nearly three teaspoons in 22 ounces of Atwater, 174F, for three minutes.
This is still part of the free sample sent by Angel and Teavivre. Thank you!
After lunch today, I swallowed and winced. Uh-oh! What is happening? A sore throat? And I have a voice student coming in an hour!
I cast about ideas for about two seconds when the lightbulb popped on. Make a pot of tea! I liked this one last time, and I just got an email from a friend requesting that I recommend some green teas for her cupboard since she is a converted coffee drinker who mostly has black and puerh tea now.
The dry leaves pulled a fast one on me. I remembered how good they smelled the first time, so I gave a big sniff to the pouch before pinching out my leaves. What is this? CHOCOLATE? I must be wrong. Sniff again. No, this smells very strongly of chocolate now! I guess I need to check the pouch again and make sure there is a bit of chocolate from someone’s hands (who would do that?) on the pouch but I swear I didn’t see any!
I used more leaf this time as I felt my last brew was a little weak. The leaves are so very long and thin that a teaspoon is pretty useless for measuring it. I think I got it right this time because my pot was fantastic. Smooth, buttery, vegetal but not grassy, and a little nutty. Maybe the chocolate scent manifests as a nutty taste? Very good tea, my throat is a little better, and I definitely plan to resteep this and have another pot tonight!
Thank you, Teavivre!
Since it has happened four times, I guess I can say it is now a Friday night tradition for hubby and me to go to the Chinese buffet. While I was there tonight, many of the food aromas were evoking memories of green and oolong teas I have had. It really makes me wish they had good tea there, and not just plain old bags of Lipton black tea!
At least I have great tea waiting for me when I get home! This particular one is a free sample provided for review by Angel and Teavivre. Thank you!
When I cut open the pouch, a wonderfully fresh spinach aroma rushed out to greet me. The leaves are very dark and so long and thin and twisted! I used what I thought was about eight grams for my teapot, but I may have misjudged. I used their recommended 194F for my water and gave it a 1 1/2 minute steep to hit a happy medium.
The liquor has a light body and light but somewhat lingering flavor. It is buttery, vegetal, and a little nutty. It is smooth and I don’t detect any sourness. This was very good, but a little more subtle than I was looking for tonight. The meal really needed something with a little more OOMPH to follow it up. I think next time I will actually weigh the leaves or make it in a gaiwan for better control.
Edited to add: the flavor became stronger as it cooled, with no increase in astringency and no sourness. So this would be a great sipper!
Thank you, Angel and Teavivre!
This tea was a wonderful way to start the day. With most Keemuns I tend to use a bit more leaf and I increase the steep time to about 5 or 6 minutes. I could smell the fragrance. A beautiful aroma. The flavor was so smooth with hints of chocolate and whole grain fresh baked bread. The best part was the lingering taste in my mouth long after I stopped drinking. Sublime. Well worth adding to your tea collection….
Alas! I am out of this one! I think this means I am now officially out of ALL Keemun tea, which means an order is in order. I just placed a Teavivre order but didn’t realize I was so low on this one and didn’t get more. I am considering placing an order for several of their Keemun teas to try side by side.
I served this with Chinese Marbled Tea Eggs and they were delicious. The flavor was much more subtle than I expected, but the great thing is that you don’t need to salt your eggs at all even with the subtle flavor. And they are beautiful! My guest loves eggs so they were a hit with her. I used fresh eggs from my fluffy ladies who live in my backyard. :)
This is a classic Keemun, more wine than smoke, gentler than many and smooth, needing no additions.
Oh horrors. I am nearly out of this. Oh well, I guess I will have to place another Teavivre order! :)
I made a pot of this early today to have with a cherry vanilla bagel, and to share with my future SIL. I could be wrong, but I think he used to drink the type of breakfast teas that really need milk and sugar. From what my daughter says, he drank EVERY kind of tea, including herbals. I didn’t know if he would like a black tea that didn’t actually NEED milk and sugar, but he seemed to enjoy this a lot. I made two steeps of it and we finished it all.
This is a definite reorder. When I want a Keemun, this one is very civilized and flavorful.
Today was tea party day! My best friend had brought some lovely organic peaches yesterday, and since I know my weekly guest loves peaches and loves my home made ice cream, I decided to make a cobbler and vanilla ice cream. We needed a special tea time since she won’t be here next week!
When I serve something sweet like that, I like to serve an unflavored black or roasted oolong tea that will contrast and complement the food. This was brilliant with the sweet foods we were eating.
I continued my experiments with it, raising the temperature to 203F instead of the recommended 195F to give it some gumption, since it is so very refined. I steeped it for about three minutes and I must say it was a delightful pairing. This was the first time I picked up strong notes of unsweetened dark coca powder. Love it!
The next two teas were chosen because of the sweets but intended to be served after. We had Teavivre’s Oriental Beauty to sample the natural peach-y notes caused by the leaf hoppers, and then we had a full on peach flavored tea from Harney and Sons, to see the difference between natural notes and flavors compared with added flavors.
This is the very last of a sample sent for review by Teavivre. Thank you, Angel!
I wanted a good black tea after breakfast today and I wanted something that would go well with some Cinnamon Hazelnut Biscotti Babies that my bestie gave me in a Harney and Sons gift set for Christmas. I really wanted a Keemun but I am almost completely out of Keemuns (gasp!) and thought I would finish this sample.
Sitting here also makes me count my blessings. I am drinking tea that was a gift, eating biscotti that was a gift, and my pot is sitting on a warmer that was a gift, looking at a card by GMathis that was an unexpected surprise bearing a gift of great tea inside!
This is definitely good black tea. I went just over three minutes on steeping even though the directions recommend one to two minutes. They do say to steep longer if you like your tea stronger, I find that hong cha is typically drunk much lighter in Asia than westerners are accustomed to. Indeed, this wasn’t hurt a bit by the extra time, and could have gone longer.
It is everything I needed for it to be this morning. Smooth, fruity, sweetly honeyed. And it does pair nicely with my biscotti! It is mild for a breakfast tea, but I don’t use my breakfast tea that way usually anyway. I drink tea after breakfast.
A friend called this morning on her way to Raleigh and said she needed some Teavivre tea, and were they located in Raleigh? I told her no, they were in China, but if she needed tea I would order it for her. LOL! So now I need to make a decision on which Keemun to buy for my cupboard. This is the only Teavivre one I have had, so I will glance back at Missy and Dylan’s comparisons of all the Teavivre Keemuns and try to make a decision!
I don’t own this Keemun….yet….but the way my guest loved it today I may need to put it on my shopping list. I would love to try ALL of the Teavivre Keemuns!
This particular one is mild and smooth, with a silky, almost cedar fragrance. There are hints of sweet potato and a little molasses or honey perhaps. It reminds me a lot of Golden Monkey. This was my guest’s hands down favorite.
I think it was Missy and Dylan who compared a number of Teavivre’s Keemuns. I need to look at his reviews and narrow down the ones to try. They have several! As my guest said, “This one’s a winner.”