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Recent Tasting Notes
More fancypants Chinese green tea from Teavivre, yay. This smells and tastes wonderful, sweetly nutty and buttery smooth. Like the other huang shan mao fengs I’ve had it’s relatively light, more aroma than taste; that said, it’s a lovely pick-me-up.
I’m becoming quite fond of my little glass teapot (giving my brew baskets a break!)—I love watching tea leaves expand.
Decided to revisit this one today – and I’m also making it a sipdown since after making my Timolino full of this I sent the last bit off in a swap package. I figured I’d revisit it since I had relatively fond memories, but I doubted that I’d enjoy it enough to ever really get around to drinking up the last of it. I’m sure it’ll be better appreciated where it’s going…
For preparation, I steeped 1 tsp. in my timolino with 80 degree celsius water for two minutes. The tea liquor was a pale green yellow like last time – but this time for the quantity of water I used significantly less leaf so I’m expecting the taste to be a bit lighter than what I remember (thinking maybe that’ll ease up on any unwanted vegetalness). I can’t really judge anything from the smell: my timolino seems to have picked up a permanent “white chocolate” creamy type of smell from the White Chocolate Frost I had in it (although I’ve managed to get the lingering taste of that tea out).
Taste wise, I’m fighting through a little bit of bitterness. I guess the steep time I used was too much. However, once I fight through that kinda bitterness the result is a somewhat creamy kind of spinach/cucumbery taste. Not too bad. I think I’m gonna try and hold onto my initial memory of this though: I remember it tasting better that first time. The after taste here is quite pleasant though – and even though there’s vegetalness it’s not in a “seaweed” or “grassy” which so I’m not completely turning up my nose on this one.
I don’t drink straight greens often if ever so sometimes I forget you need to use a very ‘light touch’ with most of them – but over all I think both memories/tasting in mind (edit: I just went back and reread my last tasting note on this) I’m happy with my rating and satisfied with my decision to pass it on, though glad I took the opportunity to try it one more time.
Teavivre Sample #3:
Ughh! I had a longer more detailed review for this one written, but Steepster ate it and it’s late and I don’t so much feel like rewriting it from scratch so mostly I’m just going to summarize…
Anyway, last tea of the night which leaves one Teavivre sample left (a straight white tea) and one Butiki sample left that I’m going to try as my reward for finishing all the straight tea samples that Lala sent me.
I wanted to read the steepster reviews of this one, but there are only two tasting notes. Since there was no info. in the tea description or on the sample packet about how much leaf to use for my cup I basically just guessed 1 tsp. since that seems to be a pretty safe amount for green teas.
The dry leaf smells very fresh and lightly vegetal which is usually unappealing but not so much in this case. I keep going back to the sample packet to take another whiff. There’s something REALLY familiar smelling about the dry leaf for this one, and it’s bothering me – however I’m certain I’ve never tried this specific tea before.
I steeped 1 tsp. for 1 minute, and the colour is a pale yellow/green. The scent is mildly vegetal, but in a way that I don’t find off putting (probably because of how light it is). The taste of this tea is very light and the only notes I can get are vegetal ones reminding me primarily of very lightly creamy spinach. It’s very refreshing, and there’s absolutely no bitterness or astringency to be detected. I’m wondering if I did underleaf this or whether that’s how this tea is supposed to taste. I’m definitely going to need to try this again with more leaf and a longer steep time to be sure.
I keep going back to the words “light”, “refreshing”, and “smooth” in my head. Conservatively, I’m going to rate this tea a ‘75’ for now, but I reserve the right to increase the rating if I taste this a second time and am able to duplicate the taste or can get it to taste better (because I really like it) or decrease it if it tastes really different and unappealing because right now I’m in a bit of disbelief about whether this is really how the tea SHOULD taste.
Getting closer to a sipdown for this one. Two, maybe three cups left? Although, even though I’d like it out of my cupboard, I’m not especially in a rush to drink it all up.
Today, I really butchered the the steeping for this one. Firsty, I definitely overleafed (in a small attempt to use up more leaf). For my 8 oz. cup, I used about 2 1/2 tsp. of leaf. And then, I set the teaball with the leaf in it on the counter next to the mug while I waited for the water to cool down enough, but then I got distracted by an email and I let it cool a bit too much. At this point, I just thought “fuck it” and plunked the teaball in the water. I have no clue how long it actually ended up steeping…
Taste wise, this is weird. It’s very, very vegetal and leaves an especially dry and astringent feeling in my mouth after the sip – but it’s NOT really bitter tasting at all. I’m really disliking it, but what else can I expect from preparing this in the stupidest way possible? It’s a combination of not loving green tea and doing a horrible job preparing it – not any criticism against the tea itself.
Teavivre Sample #2:
This one is supposed to smell/taste like chestnuts, I guess. Being totally honest, I know very little about Dragon Well teas. The leaves themselves look very similar to DAVIDsTEA’s green tea base used in Hot Lips, which is a flavoured green tea that I actually like a fair bit. However, I think Hot Lips has a sencha bae like most of their flavoured green teas – anyone know for sure? Maybe that’s a stupid question – I don’t know.
I don’t smell chestnuts in the dry leaf. I do smell grass. Still, this is less vegetal smelling than most straight green teas I’ve smelled.
I steeped 1 tsp. in about 80 degree water for a minute. There isn’t really a strong smell coming from the liquor of this one, that’s good because it’s not too seaweedy or grassy and bad because I have no idea what I’m going to taste.
Actually, I really like this one! With the exception of the Butiki Teas that Lala sent me, this is probably tied as my favourite alongside the Jasmine Pearls – so far anyway. It tastes light and buttery, with almost some nuttiness to it. In a lot of ways it’s reminding me of the Genmaicha I bought at McQuarries.
I think I could drink this on a regular basis – and I’d be open to trying different varieties of Dragon Well too.
I think I need to retreat to my room though, and come back to the rest of the samples in an hour or so – Tre’s watching Vines or Youtube videos or something like that, and every ten seconds or so he breaks out into really obnoxious laughter. It’s kinda disrupting my “restful Sunday” and the calm tea drinking atmosphere I’ve got going on…
What a treat—I wanted to try more hou kui greens and suddenly I’m finding them everywhere (but you know how that goes—once something’s in your scope of awareness you’re subconsciously on the lookout for it when before you’d just tune it out as unrecognizable).
Some of the longest tea leaves I’ve ever encountered—they stood up like a swirl of matchsticks in a jar, barely fitting in my glass teapot dry! Tickled me. I like how this is a perfect balance of savory and sweet—there’s some soup-satisfying vegetable flavor, can’t quite place it (it’s not the usual suspects like carrot or green bean or snap pea…KittyLovesTea mentions cabbage and I could see how that might be it; it is something more in that family, less green or sugary, rounder and fuller), but also a perfumed sweet element ever present. It feels light and delicate yet it has a lot of flavor and a surprisingly satisfying body. There’s a tinge of roastiness too, really yummy. Now I’m looking forward to the couple of other hou kuis headed my way.
I know I keep saying it but wow, I just can’t get over how much I love straight green tea now when I thought I hated it for like a decade. Turns out I just wasn’t familiar with Chinese ones. Yum!
Ok, time to try this one again.
I’m still finding this pretty bitter, but I think I’m able to identify the taste a bit better. There are slight floral notes, and I want to say something verging on apricot or peach but just not quite getting there. It reminds me a lot of Ontario Ice Wine, but without the berry notes and with much more astringency.
The aftertaste isn’t sitting well with me at all, and I don’t think I can blame it on user error this time. I guess this is sort of a sip down then: I’ll be giving the last bit of this sample to Robyn.
Teavivre Sample #1:
Dry leaf smells sweet and floral. I definitely like the smell of this one, but I’m not surprised – I’ve been trying more white teas lately and have been really liking them.
Steeped 2 tsp. for 1 minute and about 15 seconds.
Hmm… It’s a little bitter. Not a lot, but just enough that it’s sort of off putting. I’m sure that’s likely a user error though, and not the tea itself. However, the cooler my cup got the less noticeable the bitterness seemed. Aftertaste is very lightly floral, and sweet.
Not a huge fan, but I’m going to hold off on a rating until I’ve tried it again because one of the things I’m finding so hard to get over is the bitterness, and that was probably my fault.
I am a jasmine fiend. Rose is my favorite floral note, but jasmine is a very, very close second. Especially with white tea—I think jasmine and white tea are meant to be together. It’s a match made in heaven! And this is, without a doubt, my favorite white & jasmine that I’ve tried (so far, but I’m guessing I’m not going to find one that tops it… though I do have a Verdant sample tucked away somewhere I haven’t tried yet).
First off, it’s just so pretty! Fluffy little leaves like lambs. I want to pet them, which is kind of weird. You probably shouldn’t stand around stroking your tea. Which I totally didn’t do. No way!
I associate jasmine with calm, soothing teas. Which this definitely is—it’s relaxing, calming, light and airy. But it’s also crisp and refreshing, bright and sparking from the silver needle base. It’s an odd, interesting combination that I was not expecting. There’s notes of honeysuckle and grass and morning dew. It’s a perfect cup of tea for the end of summer, and it feels like the first days of fall to me. Summer is slipping away, but it is still in the air—you can feel that lingering warmth and the soothing feeling of days spent doing nothing but relaxing. And on the horizon are days of crunching leaves and cool breezes and sweater weather! Okay, maybe the lovely weather has me reading a bit too much into this tea. But I am in tea-love! Thanks so much to Angel for this super generous sample.
I requested a sample of this with a recent order I placed with TeaVivre. I’ve been meaning to branch out and try some more greens (my stash primarily consists of black, oolong, and pu’er teas at the moment), and this seemed to be one of the basic green teas I haven’t tried until now.
One of the first things I’d heard about gunpowder was that it had a slightly smoky aroma, which gave rise to its name. I was a little sceptical of that (the etymology, not the taste), since lapsang souchong is probably known as the smoky tea, so it would make more sense to me if that was called gunpowder if the name was just based on flavour. So, I did a quick Wikipedia search, which yielded some unsatisfactory (read: uncited) results. Basically, other origins for the name could be from the appearance and how its unfurling sort of ‘explodes’ when brewed, or it could be from the Mandarin phrase for “freshly brewed”. The most reasonable etymology to me seems to be the one regarding its appearance, but I’ll have to continue looking into that.
Anyway, I wound up drinking the entire cup while looking up the etymology of gunpowder tea and so I don’t have any specific notes on it. Oops. I do remember thinking that it did have the slightest hint of smokiness in the background, along with a bit of astringency and a light vegetal sweetness.
I’m on my second steep now, and the smokiness is gone, as is the astringency. Very smooth cup. The sweetness seems to be more prominent. Might not be an everyday cup for me, but I’d definitely get some more sample sizes from different companies to see the variation in this type of tea, since it does seem like a nice tea. Thanks for the sample, TeaVivre!
Continuing with the backlog and thanks to Angel at Teavivre for this sample.
Like the Lu Shan Yun Wu, the dry leaves look like delicate green shavings of green. They have a distinct warm hay aroma that changes to a delicate umami upon the application of hot water. The green becomes more vivid in the pot and a light yellow liquor develops. The tea has a slightly spicy, green bean flavour to it that sparkles on the tongue and leaves a pleasantly sweet aftertaste. The liquor itself is creamy, verging on buttery and very pleasant on a hot summer’s day.
Flavors: Butter, Green Beans, Hay, Spices, Umami
The last of my free samples from Teavivre. Thank you.
I have high expectations of Teavivre, because the quality of their teas always seems high, even when it is teas that are not to my personal taste, so I approached this tea with pleasure.
The silver and dark green leaves are a pleasant aesthetic change from the flat leaves of the Long Jings that I have had recently. They smell vegetal, or of beans perhaps. There seems to be a bit of hay in there too. When steeped the wet leaf has a slightly savoury aroma, and the liquor, which is a dark yellow, transmutes that aroma to a thick, buttery, beany one.
Tasting the tea, I am struck by the thickness of the liquor too. It feels more like eating than drinking the tea. It is definitely buttery, the beans disappear from the taste and a new fruitiness emerges with a spicy aftertaste that lingers on the tongue. The sweetness lasts for a good while and I can feel myself calming down and de-stressing as I drink it. This is a ‘whole body’ tea. I just wish I could place what type of fruit it is. My expectations have been met and this is another splendid tea from Teavivre.
Another from Lala’s package. Decided this morning, before I head to the University to see Robyn, would be a good time to try out a straight green tea! Honestly, I just picked one of them at random. I have some cold brewed tea that I plan on taking with me later today, so I’ll review that later today.
This is DEFINITELY not something I would have bought myself, so it’s kind of interesting to get a chance to try it (and other teas) that are so out of my comfort zone. Visually, the dry leaf is really pretty – it reminds me of yarn, sort of. However, I find the aroma really off putting. Yes, it’s sweet (just like the description says) but there’s also a really unappealing vegetal smell.
1 tsp steeped for about 1 min and 30 seconds. The smell is really off putting and unappetizing. First few sips? I almost spat it back in the cup…
I can’t really explain WHY I dislike it – it’s for sure sweeter than other straight green teas that I’ve tried and I usually like sweet teas. But there’s something just not sitting right about this one. The aftertaste is really funky too…
I think I’m going to give the remainder of this to Robyn today.
Unrelated, this (http://jonathanmangum.tumblr.com/post/61788079605/whimsical-autumn-teapot-fully-functional-clay) is what I’m going to enter into Stacy’s contest – the art one that is. It’s fully functional, and I do make tea in it occasionally! It’s kind of fitting, I think, that this contest is starting as Autumn is and I’ve got a fun, whimsical autumn teapot!
Free sample from Teavivre! Thanks a bunch Angel! This tea is one of my very favorite kinds of oolong.
I opened the package and sniffed. VERY milky aroma, and even a bit caramelly. I used the entire packet – about a tablespoon – and steeped for 35 seconds in my glass steeper. First sip is lightly vegetal. As I continue with the cup the milky flavor emerges and leaves a wonderful sweet aftertaste. I am loving this!
Second steep 40 seconds. The steeper is completely filled with leaves now. The brew smells more floral this time. Taste is mostly floral and a little vegetal. The sweet aftertaste returns midcup. By the end of the cup I can taste a hint of the milkiness, but just a hint. The floral was super strong in this steep.
3rd steep 45 seconds. Once again quite floral.
Thanks again Teavivre for an opportunity to try another of your delicious teas!
Another sipdown! (96)
I find this one has a mild floral taste, a bit of grassiness and a lot of cream to it. It seems like this milk oolong is stronger some of the other unflavoured milk oolongs I’ve had. It’s funny, because when I had it before I didn’t get much cream, but this time I did. Maybe I’m getting better at detecting notes?
This is surprising to me, but I guess I like oolongs now. That’s what happens when you drink one each day for a few weeks, I guess. :P I still can’t say much about them, and remember exactly which one is which, but I do find myself craving one first thing in the morning as a gentler wake me up.
I even chose this over trying new teas from DAVIDsTEA. :P
So I’ll definitely have to order something from Teavivre. I just don’t know which oolong I’ll want. And then maybe I’ll order a few more samples to help me figure out what I like. :)
Thanks for the sample, Heather!
I’m not the hugest fan of green oolongs, and this isn’t really an exception. The leaves smell green and somewhat roasty, with a hint of mineral.
Steeped (I used 2 tsp in 16 oz), it smells sweet and a little floral, reminiscent of the ocean sand. I could swear there’s jasmine in here, just a hint.
It’s really different. I can’t say I really like it, but the fact that it’s not the same as other green oolongs I’ve tried is nice. The flavours are more “me”. While there’s a mineral aspect, it doesn’t taste like seaweed. It reminds me more of a nice jasmine green than anything, only with WAY less jasmine.
I recently went off to college for my freshman year, and I could only take one of my yixing pots and its associated tea. Naturally, I went with this divine black tea! It’s taste is so unique and its flavor fits with every mood (I put in a ginger sugar with it if I’m feeling for something sweet).
I’ve come a long way from my novice tea days: I started out at Teavana (their actual tea POTS are awesome and beautiful, they should just stay away from selling tea LEAVES), then I ended up at adagio (to which I was informed is also a low quality tea store), then I ended up where I am at the wonderful world of Teavivre. Every tea I’ve gotten from them (their Iron Goddess, White Peony, Tian Mu Mao Feng) is just 100% quality. They even give you all of the certificates to prove that they are all organic and not from factory farms.
This tea is amazing, and Teavivre is my number one place to go when it comes to buying tea :)
Almost forgot my preparation method haha:
First steep I give it 1.5 minutes
Second steep I give it 2 minutes
Third steep I give it between 2.5 and 3 minutes
I haven’t tried squeezing out a fourth steep, but I feel like it could definitely give one more.
Buy this tea if you want a quality black tea!
Now that I have my (admittedly small) Teavivre order from Tea Jail I don’t feel so bad about sipping down one of the few Teavivre samples I still have kicking around from the care package Lala sent me when I was brand new to Steepster.
This final amount of leaf was just a little bit more than a tsp. worth of pearls, which I steeped in 80 degree celsius water for 1 min. 30 seconds.
The tea was very light and delicate with a tolerable green base (vegetal, but light and buttery too) and the jasmine was just a touch sweet and perfect. This was a very, very nice tea to calm down and relax to – especially since I’m watching the most recent episode of Supernatural and it is an emotional rollercoaster. I definitely needed something to anchor me to a nice feeling of “zen”, if you will.
I got two lovely resteeps out of this. What a beautiful sipdown!
So this came with me to work today.
I woke up really sore and stiff, and I just KNEW it was going to be a lousy day so I figured something delish and soothing like Jasmine would be the perfect comfort drink today during my shift. And I was so right.
Actually though, my shift started off alright and I spent a few hours texting Robyn about all of the ridiculous calendars we sell. But, at the same time I really wish I had been texting James. Pardon my language (I seem to recall reading somewhere to avoid swearing in reviews or on the forum), but fuck him. I’m so frustrated with how things worked out (I even shared my favourite tea with him!) – and I guess I only have myself to blame for being so stupid about all of it and so trusting. Still, even if it was only a month or so talking to him during every shift sort of became a routine for me…
Anyway, this was practically a sipdown for me. I only have enough leaf left for one more cup, which is disappointing because this was SO good. I savoured this ALL day – and it was perfect hot and cold. I need, NEED to get more.
And, because I don’t want to cram it all into one review, tales of my awful day will continue in my next tasting note for what I’m currently drinking… Best to pace the pissed off rants, right?
A gift from Lala! I’ve never tried a Teavivre tea before, nor have I tried dragon pearls so this is a really new experience for me! Out of the Teavivre samples Lala sent me, I picked this one to start off with because it’s not REALLY a straight green tea – there’s jasmine in it. So, that seems like a pretty decent middle ground when it comes to trying out new green teas and straight teas.
I’ll admit, I haven’t had a lot of exposure to jasmine flavoured teas. That’s not because I dislike jasmine though (I actually quite like jasmine), more so it’s because there are just so many flavours I like more. Dry leaf for this one DOES smell like jasmine, in almost a perfumy sort of way but still more natural than perfumy. In fact, all I CAN smell is jasmine – no green tea. Hmm, that’s pretty appealing to me. I’ll be honest though, I think I’m secretly hoping that I’ll hate this tea since, based on the different stores and websites I’ve been to, dragon pearls are NOT a cheap tea. It’d just be so much easier on me if I turned out to have a taste for the really cheap stuff!
So, I’m using 1 tsp for about 6 oz of water, steeped for a minute. The liquor barely changed colour at all during the steeping time, but finally settled on a very pale (almost peachy) yellow colour. The smell is still purely jasmine, but a much more toned down jasmine.
First few sips and… Ugh! I’ve made a mess! I totally forgot I was wearing BRIGHT metallic red lipstick, and now it’s all over my cup and all smudged. On the plus side, the tea itself tastes great! The tea is very lightly jasmine flavoured but still has enough flavour you don’t have to search for the jasmine. I CAN actually taste the green tea, but it’s not really all that vegetal so I’m not minding it too much.
Well darn, I was really hoping I wouldn’t like such an expensive tea. Maybe I can make it work by getting relatives to buy me it for holidays and such, so I don’t have to sell out the money myself. I’m probably gonna have to look, now, for a cheaper jasmine alternative since, now that I really think about it, I don’t actually own any tea with jasmine in it. I think jasmine definitely needs a spot amongst the teas I permanently stock. My friend Robyn has DT’s Buddha’s Blend and I think that has a large amount of jasmine in it – I’ll have to see if I can steal a sample from her.
EDIT: Got a really good resteep out of this one. I doubled the steep time, but otherwise everything was left unchanged. Tastes practically identical to the cup I enjoyed earlier today.
Thank you to Teavivre for this sample tea!
As always the service from Teavivre is of the highest quality with the best packaging and kind notes from Angel!
Now and then I encounter a tea that is…“not my cup of tea” and there is no way to get around saying it. I can’t possibly love all tea’s… nobody can.
I discovered last year is that I can’t taste some green tea’s whatsoever! A few Butiki’s flavored green tea’s taste like water to me because I can’t taste the base tea. Silly taste buds!
The fault isn’t the tea or Teavivre or me, it’s what happens in human beings.
All that being said, I’ll tell you what the tea tasted like to me and you might chuckle (or not).
I’m a super-taster of sorts due to the health condition I have which gives me a stronger than average sense of taste and smell. I have to be careful not to wear perfumes when I drink tea. I tasted Golden Monkey on two occasions to make sure there wasn’t anything interfering with my senses.
What I tasted both times was like V8 Juice.
Primarily Celery leaf juice, brothy diluted tomato with mixed vegetables. Not the best tasting tea if you know what I mean, but an ok soup.
I know, I know… different than anyone else…yada yada.
I’m a black tea lover not a hater but this one hit the stranger than strange tea alarm in my mouth.
Sorry Angel, this one was a giggler. It happens.
a quick note on the fly here.
i stuffed this entire immense sample into my steeping basket. it was excellent!!! lychee notes, bamboo notes, very smooth.
lovely clear steep, tiny bit of sugar added. will buy for sure…. and back into the craziness i go. (haven’t even had a cup of tea yet today!!!)