Recent Tasting Notes


For years I have been amazed by the beautiful blooming flower tea’s that I have been secretly wishing to try. They look like miniature secret gardens that you can drink and watch slowly fill the bowl with magic. Well I finally decided to make it a reality for me and so for Christmas my auntie agreed to buy me a see through tea pot with matching cups and a bag of random blooming tea’s.

I got them all from Teavivre earlier this year and kept them safe, now is the time to try it. I need a little water after having admittedly too many glasses of whisky this year (it’s my poison of choice) and thought I would do so in style. So chosen randomly from the bag came this marigold blossom flower tea.

The tea is in a subtle w shape and it smells very sweet and floral. I boiled the water and added it to the closed bud and watched with delight as it started to slowly open up but only ever so slightly. It would seem that for full exposure it will take a few steeps over quite a long process, right now it only looks slightly puffy and water logged.

2 minutes steep in boiling water reveals virtually no fragrance of colour. The taste is also extremely subtle but it does have similar properties to a white tea which makes sense considering it’s made of white silver needle. It has that clean and slightly floral taste of the first steeps of white silver needle.

I do a 2 minute 30 second steep with the same bud to see if it will open more and thankfully it does. Not exposed are yellow marigold flowers. Yep there we go it’s half open :) The liquid is also much darker now though is pale yellow so still light in colour as far as tea goes and it smells a little more floral. It’s sweet and much stronger now and edging on the verge of tasting like a green tea. It does taste very much like what you would expect a flower to taste like.

It’s a nice experience to watch something being created from what looks like nothing. Plus it’s also tasty so I can fun, play and drink :) It certainly makes a nice change having something so pretty and unique to watch. I may be slowly becoming a blooming fanatic.


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I bought these to use for special occasions. There isn’t a lot that is more special than Christmas Eve in this house! I had hoped to entice some of the kids into trying it since it is so unusual, but the diehard puerh drinkers didn’t budge. They DID watch it bloom and appreciate it. No one else wanted tea.

So I ended up drinking three steeps of this myself! This is my favorite blooming tea so far. The flavor is light and smooth and the flowers add a delicate touch, but not so much flavor that you would dislike it if you are averse to floral teas.

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…and this was what I made to warm up when I happily returned to my hobbit hole. Bilbo says, “I miss my books, and my arm chair, and my garden. See, that’s where I belong; that’s home.” Now I know! I’m a hobbit.

This is a little sweeter and gentler than the Boston Tea dragonwell I had earlier today. Lovely on its own; I may have a second cup with a little sugar.

The movie today reminded me that sometimes we’re called to do things that are much bigger than we are—to be light in a dark place. As I’m rocking and sipping in my favorite spot, my prayer is that God’s love and light surrounds you and gives you peace. Merry Christmas, friends.

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Fantastic tea!

180 °F / 82 °C 4 min, 15 sec

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I am using my last sample of this excellent pu-erh from Tea Vivre. I got it as part of the Pu-erh sample assortment. My initial tasting notes from last summer indicated at least 9 steeps which I enjoyed hot, at room temp, and cold. Nice and earthy, and especially good with a little stevia. Today, I had 7 gms which I rinsed twice to open up the leaves, then steeped in 6 oz boiling water at 30, 60, 120, etc. I haven’t had pu-erh in awhile, but wanted to share this with my son while he is home from school. It really hits the spot, and I highly recommend it, especially if you haven’t had pu-erh before. There is no fishiness, and I think it is a great example of what a good ripened pu-ehr is like. The Teavivre site shows low quantities of this. If you haven’t dealt with Teavivre before, I can recommend them as a company that provides excellent service and they offer free samples with your order.


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I am going to have to label this as a favorite of hubby soon. We had it with Asian buffet take out again last night and he emptied the pot before I hardly had any! Then he….yes, HE….resteeped. I don’t know if he has ever made loose leaf tea by himself, but he went in the kitchen and made another pot. He was being sweet to me so I could have seem more, and of course he sat down and had more as well.

It is hard to describe how good this is with food. I am surprised I like it so well with food because it is a mild tea that you would think would get lost under the flavors, but instead it swirls across your palate and tastes so fresh and sweet, like sweet well water. I think this would have to go on the “if I could only have ten teas” list!

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Last night I asked my son who is here for the holidays if he would like some tea. He said sure! I asked what kind and he replied that he would like the usual. The usual means Teavivre Puerh, usually ripened Tuocha.

This is the final Tuocha that was sent by AmyOh. Thank you, Amy!

This Tuocha is larger than the ones I bought at A Southern Season. I out it in an eight ounce g,ass pot and gave it a thirty second rinse because I couldn’t remember how well this one breaks up. The rinse was fine, because the next steep, also thirty seconds, was inky black. I made three steeps in rapid succession and combined them in one larger pot.

Great as always. I confess I still do not detect much if any rose flavor, though the pink bud is very pretty in the Tuocha and in the pot! This is a stronger puerh than Mengku Palace. It is not fishy but strongly horsey. Very good, and very soothing for tummies. That is a good thing with all the holiday cooking.


Can you detect a difference between this and the regular tuocha? To me the rose knocks the rough edges off the cup.


I think you are right, but it isn’t a floral taste to me.

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A huge thank you to Angel from Teavivre for this sample.

The last fruit tea from Teavivre that I had was blueberry and I enjoyed it very much so I have high hopes for their apple tea. Apple is funny with me and I have to be in the right mood for it, I think it’s because my husband loves apple juice so I always have to buy some for him and I’m an orange juice kinda gal.

It’s a long 9 minute steep for this fruit tea so I helped myself to a piece of apple in the raw mixture and it was very fresh and scrumptiously good.

The tea once brewed is reddy/purple in colour with only a subtle apple/fruit fragrance. Whoops I burnt my lip trying to taste it’s fruity essence too eagerly :( Waiting a few minutes before sipping again I can taste mixed fruit of which apple is the background ingredient behind what tastes like rosehip. It’s very sweet but it tastes naturally so and it’s also a little sour, sort of like apple candy/sweets.

It’s a very nice subtle apple tea and it is refreshing and clean tasting. The downside for me is that I would prefer if it was a little stronger with the apple and a little less rosehip. I bet this would make a delicious iced tea.

Boiling 8 min or more

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I bought this because I loved the way it looked! These leaves are twisted and soft and fluffy, but they have great staying power for resteeping. I have reviewed this a few times before so this time I will just say that I still mostly taste oats, specifically plain Cheerios. This is not a contemplative, meditative cup for me, but rather a tea I make either to go with Asian food or when I want green tea but I want a tea that will get me going and keep me going. For some reason, this tea makes me want to attack my to do list! That is exactly what I have GOT to do today!


Cheerio tea! Yum!


Oh, this is the one I said reminded me of old upholstery stuffing – definitely Cheerios!


(laughing and snorting milk through my nose)


Isn’t it funny sometimes how the ones with the most foreign sounding names often have the most familiar flavors?


The one that they call Camel’s Breath or Camel Spit or Camel whatever makes me laugh every time. Haven’t tried it, but would like to.

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Thanks Teavivre for the sample!
Can I just say that these are super cute? For whatever reason I think these pearls are just precious. The thing is, I generally don’t like straight black teas (other than pu’erh) so this is a big step in a different direction for me.
I’m surprised how light this brewed! It is a very light, almost clear broth color. This smells very hay-like. The tea is pretty thin compared to other blacks I’ve had. I think I know why blacks are strange for me: they’re kind of meaty. This mostly has meaty, hay notes. It’s not a great tea for me, but I’m pretty sure a lot of people would really love this one!

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Thanks to Angel and Teavivre for this sample!

I really wanted to love this one, but it’s just not happening. I mean, it’s nice to sip on when I’m not thinking about it, but it’s not the delicious tieguanyin I’m used to. I understand this is a Taiwan version, but I’ve had jin xuans that taste more like tieguanyin than this tea. This tastes much more like mao xie (hairy crab) oolong than tieguanyin, actually. The sweet, potent florals of tieguanyin are pretty dull in this tea, and the added roasting just adds awkward charcoal flavors that make the taste seem unbalanced and somewhat stale. It’s really strong for the first couple steeps, too. I have to make the wash extra long just so I don’t have overbearing burnt barley and metallic flavors in the first steep.

The leaves and liquor have aromas that smell like roasted wheat and unripe fruits, mixed with some cooked vegetables and lots of grass. Actually, most of the steeps have a very grassy profile. Into the later steeps, things improve a bit with notes of asparagus and genmaicha, finally landing on some really vegetal qualities of tiequanyin. There isn’t much sweetness to this one, which seems to contribute a great deal to the unbalance of flavors. There are a few faint traces of melon, as well, and after sneaking a few peaks at some reviews of this tea, I agree with KS about the aftertaste seeming a bit like watermelon rinds. It’s interesting, but not the most satisfying.

The mouthfeel is common and uninteresting. It typically gets a bit creamy and slightly juicy during middle steeps, but it isn’t anything extraordinary. Most of the steeps end up being a bit dry.

Overall, this one is just “okay” to me. Nothing jumped out at me and the unbalance of flavors really threw things askew. I dunno, it just did not match up to all the other oolongs that I have tried.

Based on the conversation with KS below, I tried this again with a method closer to the suggested style: 4g per 100mL at boiling, wash, 25",35",45". I’m not sure if it’s that much better, but it is different. I’m also not sure which I prefer, flavor-wise. There are definitely some new blends of flavors. There are more fruity nuances, it’s surprisingly sweeter, and isn’t as bitter as I was expecting for such a high leaf to water ratio. It certainly is more bitter this way, however. With these added dimensions, it feels a bit more balanced, but the body becomes more monotonous. I still can’t get past the charcoal flavors, which are even more potent. Now that this is more severe with this session, I’m now recalling that every time I’ve tried this tea, it’s given me a headache. :/ Sigh, this just isn’t happening, folks.

200 °F / 93 °C

Good notes on this one. After reading your review, I went back and read mine,then all the others. The reactions are all over the place. I noticed a lot of difference in steeping parameters. Of course there is also varying amounts of experience. I am a total nube at monkey picked.

I was curious your leaf to water ratio and your typical steep times. From your profile I am guessing you used a gaiwan? I have tried to understand the gaiwan method but have never liked the results. Yet you often get some amazing results.

I typically would use 2.5g with 12oz water in a French press. The time and temp I would have followed TeaVivre’s instruction.


Hi KS, I’ve tried this one using multiple methods, which is why this was the last of the samples from Teavivre that I logged. I usually prepare it gong fu style in a 100 mL gaiwan with around 2-3 grams of dry leaf. I do about a 3 second wash and my first steep is around 4 seconds.

I’ve tried this with many variations in water temperature as well. I think boiling, as Teavivre recommends, is too hot for this tea. The times I went straight to boiling during the first steeps caused them to turn pretty bitter if they steeped too long. I can’t imagine what the 7g per 3oz for 25 seconds at boiling (Teavivre’s gong fu instructions) would do… I still have some of the sample left, so I’ll experiment with your method and Teavivre’s method.


I had the advantage of no expectations of what this should taste like and the thrill of a new adventure. So I loved it. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. I hope it doesn’t come off as me challenging or argueing with your comments. I am trying to understand if the parameters could have affected the experience. Apparently not.

I do the same thing you did, with other teas, when following the instructions doesn’t produce a good cup. Changing time, temp, or leaf to water just a little does usually make a difference. I just don’t have enough experience yet to anticipate what change will bring the best result. I have found, for me personally, Teavivre’s instruction have been pretty spot on even when it seemed all wrong. In fact, I often use their instructions on other companies similar products.

From what I am reading here, you did experiment and no matter how you approached it, this tea simply did not meet your expectations. That is fair enough. I do enjoy your reviews because they make me think. Thanks for letting me pick your brain, in a non-zombie way of course.


No, you didn’t come off that way at all! I was hoping someone was going to chat about their methods; it seems like everyone but myself absolutely loved this tea and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t crazy lol. It’s a shame I couldn’t try this one without any expectations as I’m sure it would have made a difference. I think it comes down to that roast. I find that when lighter teas are given the extra roasting and it doesn’t integrate perfectly, it’s a pretty big turn off for me. I’m sure that’s part of the reason I’m not as happy with this tea as others seem to be. I’ll play around with different methods tonight and let you know how it goes. I’m not giving up yet!


I felt the same way about black fengqing dragon pearls. I liked it but seemed like I was missing out reading everyone else’s reviews. I tried several times and just didn’t get it.

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So, I have had this for a really long time and I’m just now getting around to trying it. Sample provided very generously by Teavivre!

Steep notes: 3-4 tsp. leaf to 500 ml. water in my Breville at below parameters.

I really wanted a black tea tonight but for some reason I didn’t have any in my cupboard. I mean, I did, East Frissy and David’s Breakfast blend are in there, but I wanted something…not breakfasty? I don’t know. I’m fickle, it’s cold and rainy and windy and I wanted some warm, no frills (no dessert!) tea.

So in this one went. The dry leaf had almost a malty smell to it, which is a characteristic I normally find in Assams and which made me very happy. Dry leaf looked like long spindly blades of grass.

The steeped liquor is a yellow green and has a vague buttery scent. Taste wise, I get buttery and nutty. The nutty flavor especially lingers as an aftertaste. It’s very smooth, though, and slightly (pleasantly) astringent.

I like this – it’s a very delicate flavor that would go well with dinner, as I find most green teas do. It works well for night when you just really don’t want anything heavy.

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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I found a little foil pouch I didn’t remember I had! Yes!! On a cold, wet, and windy night, I have smoky black tea. ♥

(For the new people, I’ve reviewed this several times and I’m not gonna bore you with repeating myself.)

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 15 sec

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Many thanks to Teavivre for this sample!
The dry leaf of this smells very similar to the Xiaguan toucha I was drinking earlier. I prepared this tea per Teavivre’s instructions of ~1 min. steep times. Pouring this tea was really interesting! I noticed that at first the water was very russet/copper colored and then ended with very deep browns and reds. I guess I never paid attention to that before.
This pu’erh has a distinct hay and bread like quality. There is some sweetness, but it is at the back end of the sip. It also kind of reminds me of cream of wheat for some reason; so farina like. Something about drinking this makes me think that it’d pair well with almonds and crystallized aged gouda cheese bits. I think that the mouth feel of this reminds me a bit of almond skins and that’s where I’m getting this. That sounds really weird when I write it down! Overall this is really easy to make and it is a great pu’erh for newbies like me.

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After having Loaded Baked Potato Soup, I served Italian Cream Cake. I didn’t make it! A friend sent it to me and it came from Sam’s club and was delicious! The frosting tastes a lot like the Bavarian Cream matcha from Red Leaf, but there is also coconut and that adds a lot to this cake.

It is extremely rich, however, too rich for me unless I scrape off a lot of the frosting. I felt that it required a black tea with a lot of presence to pair with it.

I love this tea! I don’t know how to describe it accurately because there is an unusual texture or something that I only know how to describe as…cocoa powdery, and I don’t mean just the flavor of cocoa powder but even a dryness at the same time it was wet. It is not, however, the dryness associated with astringency. I do not find this tea to be astringent at all!

When I drink it, it FEELS dark and rich. Imagine if you put a tiny bit of cocoa powder on your tongue, unsweetened, and it wasn’t bitter at all. It is not a heavy bodied tea, but rather it seems to hang on to my tongue for a moment before I swallow. This is what made me feel it would go well with that rich cake. Again, it needs no milk or sugar, which was critical since this cake is so rich and sweet.

I think it paired very nicely, but it is also wonderful on its own and is great for gong fu sessions, too.

Hesper June

Oh! Baked Potato Soup and Italian Cream Cake! Yummy!


Mail me your leftovers :)


Why is it, I’m allergic to healthy things like potato and beans but not cake?! OK gimmie the cake!


I can imagine how something dark and rich could nicely offset an overly sweet cake. Sounds good.

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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.


I make a soup every Sunday, but we tend to stick with what we know – combos of veggies and maybe some chicken or pork. What is loaded baked potato soup? I’d love to give it a shot!


It is a potato soup with onions if you wish but they are not critical, and you top it with cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon. Some people also put sour cream. Here is the revile I used, but I only put half the cream cheese and it was still great. http://pearls-handcuffs-happyhour.blogspot.com/2011/03/outback-aint-got-nothin-on-me.html?m=1


Appreciated! 0

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I wasn’t overly fond of the intense earthy/mossy aroma but the flavor is pretty good! Special thanks to Liberteas for this one! It’s malty and mellower but has nice sweet-woodsy notes to it with a hint of cocoa powder!

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Chocolate! It tastes more like chocolate than any tea I’ve ever had that didn’t actually have chocolate in it. Six pearls was more than enough for two steeps of this rich, chocolatey, malty delight.

Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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So after realizing I didn’t buy any raw puerh earlier in the day on Cyber Monday, I really wanted to try some and so here we are.

This is the first puerh I’ve had off a cake of sorts, this coming from a tightly packed, oversized tuocha. Man, it was hard to get things rolling. I felt like a monkey that’s probably gone along forever like, who needs tools, dudes, and then a scientist thinks it’d be funny to give me a pick.

But I did it! One rinse later, I have my first cup (20 sec steep). It smells so good. Kind of like how white teas have that hay smell, but on tea steroids.

Wow I have no idea what is going on with this tea. My first instinct is to shun it. There’s so much! The hay, woods, fruits, astringency, sweetness, dry mouth, the feeling like I just might have had a sip of juice instead. The flavors are ridiculously cool though but it leaves this weird thick, dry mouth feeling that makes me feel like a dog that just got some peanut butter.

I will probably come back to this later but right now I need water. I assume it’s the small pieces that ended up in there in the process of me figuring this whole separating tea to use from the whole, so eventually they have to all end up out of the gaiwan, right?

2nd steep, 25 sec: it’s a bit better, still astringent to the point of dry mouth feels, but it is so much sweeter and fruitier. I’m taking tea to a friend tomorrow and asked if there is anything she wouldn’t like and she said she’d try anything so I feel like I should give her some of this and see what she thinks. All she’s had so far I think are flavored teas so this is probably a bit mean at this point. I must say the dry mouth is a lot more tolerable, though it reminds me a bit like hay is stuck in my mouth thanks to honey. Oddly this tastes better than it sounds.

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I’m watching a generic Christmas film and I got the sudden urge to drink a gaiwan of black tea. So my hand goes into my large bag of Teavivre samples and I pulled this one out. My husband is having his work party tonight so I am on my own all day :(

The tea is made with small leaves that have been thinly rolled and dried. They have a dry earthy smell.

Gaiwan 3oz Tea:7g 6 steeps: rinse,15s,25s,45s,1m10s,1m30s,2m 90ºC/194ºF

Steep one – 15 seconds
The tea soup is honeyed brown in colour with a sweet, earthy and slightly floral tone. It does taste sweet and malty to my delight with no bitterness and of fair strength.

Steep two – 25 seconds
I’m starting to pick up a musky deep fragrance now. Malty and sweet still and very rich but still smooth.

Steep three – 45 seconds
Increasing in strength and becoming maltier and very thick and earthy.

Steep four – 1 minute 10 seconds
The colour reminds me of pu erh as it has that brown/red glow. Very sweet …reminds me of marmite a little.

Steep five – 1 minute 30 seconds
This has weakened somewhat and has increased it’s floral flavour again, it’s like jasmine but earthier.

Steep six – 2 minutes
No malt or richness to speak of anymore but it’s still sweet and floral.

I love Yunnan tea’s and straight away I could tell that this was one of them. It has the lovely strong, malty trademark that Yunnan’s usually have which is a pure bonus. On the most part it was rich and smooth but very balanced and clean.

Admittedly not one of my favourite Yunnan’s as the smell is a little too musky for my liking but it was a pleasant and smooth drink. It’s amazing to think that such small leaves can create such large flavour and aroma.

195 °F / 90 °C

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I decided that it was time for tea. I have been feeling better today which means I have been drinking less water, juice, and tea overall. I still need to drink more liquids though.

This is just what I was looking for. Slightly buttery and a tiny bit fruity at the end of the swallow. Nice and light and refreshing, but I can still taste what it is supposed to taste like.

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Well, look what I found!

I wanted a pure black tea for breakfast this morning, and going through my Teavivre samples there was a small red packet hiding down at the bottom. Hooray for surprises!

Steep notes: entire packet into 8 oz. tea at below parameters. No additives.

Guh – the dry leaf! Malty black teas are my favorite – they are so heavy and rich to smell. They are also among my favorite to look at once steeped – the brown liquor is the color of polished mahogany.

The taste is malted honey, and the texture is thick – almost like nectar. Even as it cools nothing is overly tannic or astringent with this. Just a perfectly well executed black tea, that I’ll be taking through a few more infusions since I’m not ready to stop drinking yet!

Boiling 3 min, 15 sec

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This is my last sample from Angel at Teavivre, and it is a good one!

The dry leaves are beautiful. Long and slender with lots of warm yellows mixed in among the black. As soon as the tea started stepping I knew there would be no need for sugar. The honey fragrance is strong. Not overwhelming, but very easy to pick up. And the taste… yum. It’s malty, sweet, and velvety. This is good. I mean really, really good. I don’t usually stick with one tea all day, but I can easily see myself steadily sipping on this while I get an order finished and in the mail today.

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