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Recent Tasting Notes
While sipping the third cup I thought the second deserved a comment of its own. My wife made a spinach and strawberry salad with orange poppy seed dressing and a honey chicken Parmesan cheese thing she made up. This tea held up really well against it. The combination brought out some spicey notes that weren’t present before. Yum.
I am generally a pretty easy going guy. Today trying to get everything organized to make a cup of tea proved to be almost too big of a task. I didn’t completely loose my cool to the point of embarrassing myself, but it was close. Didn’t break anything but there are a number of tea puddles that I am attempting to clean up.
This tea. This is my third Huang Shan Mao Feng. It is the first nonpareil. I looked at my reviews of the other versions after I tasted this one. This wins hands down. I used the entire sample, a Finum basket and a mug. It started as like clean mineral water that quickly changes to a smooth creaminess. The flavor begins, to my tastes, as grain (oats) accompanied by more vegetal notes. What I call oats, other reviews refer to as chestnut. Next, a wonderful green astringent bite kicks in. TeaVivre calls it brisk, and it is, but not like the bite I associate with Assam based tea. The aftertaste is fresh and hangs around like it is begging me to take another sip. So of course I must oblige. There is a fair amount of cooling sensation present as well.
As you can tell I really liked this one.
I am thrilled to get to try this tea because all the Gong Fu teas I’ve had from Teavivre have been fantastic. Just having this sample reminds me of all the black teas I need to reorder.
The leaves are indeed very fine. Practically none of them are broken, and they are all very narrow and pointed at the end. Each of them seem to be a different shade of chocolate brown and gold. It reminds me of a little bird’s nest as it sits in my infuser while I wait for the water to heat.
As they steep, the tea smells deliciously toasted and warm. It’s a very comforting scent. I’m somewhat reminded of cocoa and whole wheat bread. The flavor is even better. I’m getting notes of sweet potato, cocoa, caramel, and malt. I’m catching myself trying my best to drink it even though it’s too hot — it’s like I can’t stop myself.
This is the most perfect tea I could have on a wet, cool day here. It’s definitely going to be in my next Teavivre order.
Tea provided by Teavivre for review
Just received Teavivre’s samples yesterday, and this is the first one I picked out to try. Good black teas always have a special place in my heart, so I was eager to taste this. I’ve also been wondering for a long time “what IS tan yang black tea like?”.
My initial steep tasted; fuzzy, sweetness/caramel, earthy.
Second to fourth steeps started to really build up a strong earthy flavour, that had a nice roasted, woodsy, syrupy, and slightly floral background.
Fifth through tenth steeps maintained that strong flavour, only weakening slightly with each steep. The last cup was still very flavourful considering it was the tenth.
Overall it met my expectations. Teavivre’s steep guidelines were spot-on, I enjoyed the flavour brought out in the shorter initial steeps. What I liked about this tea, is that held onto a strong flavour throughout my steeps. That being said, I’m not impressed with the level of “charm” Tan Yang brings, and I’ve tasted similar teas with different names (this is a really minor point, not meant to be taken as negative).
Compared to the other black teas Teavivre sells, this is probably my second favourite (first would be their Yunnan Dian Hong Golden Tip). If you enjoy resteeping your black tea a lot, this is a very good option to choose.
Steep parameter (as suggested on their website)
100ml gaiwan, 5g sample, 10 steeps: rinse(10s),5s,5s,10s,20s,30s,35s,35s,60s,2m30s,3m30s
Been a while since I had this Oolong but I thought I would start using it up by making some iced tea. Admittedly I made it a tad too strong as I found out this morning but after adding some calorie free sweetener it now tastes like strawberry syrup rain. Very hard to detect the Oolong with the sweetener in it, you would think it was just one of those strawberry flavoured syrup drinks that a lot of cafe’s sell as ‘iced tea’.
Story time –
First time I got a peach iced tea from Costa Coffee I saw them use two squirts of syrup over ice and add tap water, then you have sickly sugar water..oops sorry I mean ‘iced tea’. :/ I remember going into one before and asking what selection of teas they carried and they said “Summat foreign named, like a green tea but not one” and that had me intrigued, I asked to see this magical tea and she brought over a glass jar that said ‘Long Jing’ on the side. Then again she said “Yeah it’s green inside the bag but it aint a green tea, though it’s like one”, at that point I said “Well actually it is a green tea, Long Jing stands for Dragon Well and it’s a Chinese green”. Then straight away “Ooohh and how do you know that then hey? Know everything do ya?” and she starts calling the staff to tell them in a mocking sort of way. So I left after saying “I’m an amateur tea taster with my own blog and over 500 teas at home, if you bothered to look it up yourself you would see that I’m correct. Selling people a green tea and saying it’s not is just ridiculous”. Possibly one of the best storm off’s I have ever done. My parents were standing by my side think blank expressions on their face like ‘wtf just happened?’.
I bought this tea on the same day that I received the Teavivre news letter featuring an all new ‘Strawberry Oolong’. I hadn’t known Teavivre to do anything flavour wise other than Jasmine and I decided then and there to treat myself. Well it arrived yesterday and I have had to wait until tonight to sample it.
The smell is divine, sweet and fruity strawberry with a clean and mouth watering juiciness. It looks like any other late harvest Oolong and without the smell I wouldn’t have thought anything else of it (had I known known the information on it and was blind tasting). However it really is a very nice scent, it smells a little unnatural but not too much to spoil it.
Once steeped for 3 minutes this Oolong is cloudy yellow in colour with a soft but still juicy strawberry aroma. So far it smells so fruity that it resembles a fruit only blend.
Wow! It has the same sweet and juicy flavour as it’s aroma but there is also a gentle floral and slightly toasted depth to it too. Not too sweet but at the right balance for me and it’s nice to be able to taste the Oolong beneath it all. Overall it’s quite light and refreshing but with enough flavour to be pleasing. The sweetness is almost honeyed. Very smooth and delicious!
I think it would be a good tea to try iced, maybe even worth a try at cold steeping it. Very happy that I was naughty and bought this tea despite my promise to drink what I have first…oops.
My second rating for this tea because yes, IT IS THAT GOOD! Well-named gorgeous dry leaf of mixed blacks and golden browns steeps to a beautiful red-brown liquor that is delightfully rich, honeyed and smooth with caramel and sweet potato overtones. You don’t have to use much to get a flavorful cup and it’s not so overwhelming that it’s a tea to tire of. No. I can drink cup after cup of this fine tea. Teavivre has outdone itself here and my larder will never be without. Please note, I am generally an ‘unflavored’ green tea drinker, but strayed into this bewitching brew via a sample. Bravo Teavivre! Excellent offering!
Okay I bought this on steepster reviews alone. The warm honeyed tones of the long, fluffy, dry leaves reflect the delicious flavor of the steeped tea. A dark gold liquor with a smooth, satiny honey flavor that fills the mouth and remains on the tongue. Truly a memorable tea. Full-bodied with no bitterness. Definitely no sugar or milk needed. Some reviewers mention sweet-potato or maple references (which I get), but without smokiness or chocolate tones. Overall a lovely ‘black’ to always have in the larder. I’m glad I took a chance with this one. It’s definitely one not to miss.
Another short tasting note for this sipdown, which people may or may not see with Steepster being so wacky!
As I have said many times before, this is one of my favorite green teas. I’m not a big connoisseur of green teas, but I’ve had a good number of varieties, and to my taste it doesn’t get much better than this. Lots of natural, nutty chestnut flavor, a bit of butter, but not too much, a bit of sugar snap pea. I think it’s the nuttiness that I love. Yum.
Flavors: Butter, Chestnut
My samples of the new spring harvest of green teas from Teavivre finally arrived yesterday! I picked through them this morning and pulled a pouch of this tea out to have first because this was my favorite of last year’s harvest.
Mmm, there are few things like a really fresh green tea for spring. It’s kind of amazing. And this Huang Shan Mao Feng is just delicious. One thing I love is the intense notes of buttery chestnuts in this. Those are what first hits you, followed by the fresh green flavor of crisp snap peas. There is a light sweetness that grows as you drink the cup. I was glancing through some of the new flavors, and I liked sugarcane as a possibility because when you chew on sugarcane it’s not just sweet, it’s got a planty-ness to it as well from the cane. The sweetness isn’t as intense, but it has the same quality to it.
Definitely still love this one and glad to have some of it again!
Flavors: Butter, Chestnut, Peas, Sugarcane
Sipdown, 117. I saved this one for last of my Teavivre greens because it is my favorite.
Even though I used the entire sample packet for this one, it was still very light. It’s like the lightness is inherant to its being. Although I wished for a heavier flavor on this one before, I still enjoy it in its lightness. After my short survey of chinese green teas (definitely not exhaustive, but more different greens than I have tried before), I can say that this is my favorite type at the moment. Nutty, buttery, and not too beany or vegetal. Quite lovely, and I may get some more for those times when I need a green tea (rare as they are).
Pretty sure this Huang Shan Mao Feng is my new favorite type of green tea. I also often enjoy a good dragonwell, but there is something about this one that is so good.
I think this is the first time that I’ve had a wide variety of different greens at the same time, and it has been interesting trying them. I think I have one pouch left of each green sample that Teavivre sent me, so I will be able to compare them all again, along with the Laoshan greens I now have through the Verdant Reserve Club.
Even though I used way too little leaf for this cup, I really do enjoy it a lot. It is less vegetal and grassy than some greens, and I love the chestnut flavors. Really quite good.
Much thanks to Angel and Teavivre for this sample to review. Another busy busy day so this will have to be a tad short, but I will try to do it justice. Fortunately I have a few more servings for future tastings.
I used half the sample pouch with 12 oz of water. After two minutes it was a nice light yellowy-amber color, with a light nutty-sweet aroma. Even with a fairly light flavor (I might use more leaf/more time next cup), this is super delicious. So sweet, and oh so nutty. It is way chestnutty, with soft vegetal notes behind it, and perhaps just a hint floral like lilacs.
I am reminded by this cup that although I am losing interest in flavored greens, a high quality unflavored green like this can be heavenly. This tea really is “without parallel” among green teas. I looked at my tasting notes for the regular Huang Shan Mao Feng that I had from Teavivre a while ago, and although I really liked that one, this one is quite amazing. I think I have a love for Huang Shan Mao Feng I never realized before!
A big thank you to Teavivre for allowing me to sample their teas again! I always love having the opportunity!
Now, I have had a chrysanthemum tea once, and that was several years ago. I know I enjoyed it, but I don’t remember much else. (Besides the fact that it was much lower quality than this one.)
The tea itself is beautiful. Delicate, pale flowers with green buds at their base, almost like little daisies. They smell sweet and sort of spiced. I’m instantly reminded of spring. They seem to have been dried very gently, as there is no trace of bruising or brown spots anywhere. Very interesting! As it steeps, the flowers fluff up and expand, making me wish for a glass teapot to prepare them in. It would be so lovely…
The tea brews up to a light shade of greenish yellow, as I expected. It smells a lot like fresh chrysanthemums, but also kinda like chamomile. But not exactly. It’s a little hard to describe. The flavor is light as well, and very clean tasting. It’s soothing and very floral, of course. The description mentions it being slightly bitter, but I’m not getting that. Perhaps I would if I added more flowers.
This would be a great tea to end a summer night with.
Apparently this is the tea I wanted so late at night! Nothing herbal. Nothing flavoured. Just pure black tea in all it’s delicious glory. Honey and malt and awesomesauce.
I’m starting to get a little low on this one, but it’ll just have to last me. I did a count and I have ~77 teas right now and roughly 67 incoming after this weekend. Some of them are just small swaps from Steepsterites, but I have a few 100g orders coming too! I’m pretty excited – this will definitely liven up my cupboard!
My first tea of the day!
Everyone else is sleeping so I’m sitting with the baby watching the LAST episode of Downton Abbey and drinking dragon pearls. I still haven’t had my dragon pearl-off, but someday!
I have a feeling that I’ll need a comfort tea afterwards from what I’ve heard. :( 15 minutes to go, and I’m waiting for hell to break loose.
God, I love some of these characters so much. Even Mary, even though she’s so complicated. And stubborn.
Thank you CrowKettle for the sample! (Or wait. Was is Sil? /0\ I’ll start labeling from now on I promise, but I know this one showed up with my matcha samples!!!)
I think Dragon Pearls are one of my favourite types of teas! This is just so smooth, and I love the malt and cocoa notes. Honey too! I steeped it for two minutes and that makes it nice and strong, without being overwhelming, and I’ll probably get a few more steeps out of this before I call it quits. I love how much flavour is in this black.
I believe this is nicer than the one from Zen Tea, and the tea itself is so pretty to look at. I love those little balls! It’s hard to say what makes this one “better” but it seems like there are a lot of things going on, and if I steeped it for less time and more often I would probably pick up on all sorts of things!
I guess I’ll have to keep my eyes open for a Teavivre sale because I’d like to stock up on this one. Moar please!
Part 2 of 3 of my Teavivre 2013 Long Jing Smackdown. Spring samples courtesy of the generous Angel over at Teavivire. I cross reference the 3 types of teas I received in their respective tasting notes, so if you’re really curious you might want to check them out for a more full account.
Part 1 – “Organic Nonpareil Ming Qian Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea”
Part 2 – “Organic Superfine Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea”
Both can be found in my Tea Log — http://steepster.com/markballou
This Long Jing had not impressed me as much in 2012, losing out to follow up orders of the Organic Superfine version. 2013 though is a pleasant surprise. I’m immediately greeted by an unexpected dry leaf, nice, not on par with some of the shapeliness of the highest quality Long Jings, but surprisingly uniform and pleasing to watch hydrate in my 10oz double wall tall glass tumbler. Broken leaf is minimal and there’s a small amount of white clump. The leaf color is greener than I’ve come to look for when evaluating Long Jings; something about young teas not developing as much chlorophyll, having more theanine and a tendency towards a lighter green color. Upon opening the package you can smell the fresh, bright, lively aroma immediately.
I’m impatient and don’t let my water cool to 175˚F as recommended by Teavivre but bully my way into this tea at approximately 190˚ (the water temp in the prep details is for my later side by side comparison). I’m not completely uncivilized and follow my tried and true Long Jing brewing protocol minus the glass warming stage:
I first note the liqueur is vibrant yellow-green, followed by an initial taste impression of “juicy.”
This is a wow. I’m not hit with complexity here, but overall satisfaction. Where I’m often impressed with a multidimensional profile, here it’s not about that. It’s a broader experience. This tea is tolerant, not going all bitter with the water being so hot. I’ve gone through 5 steeps of this tea and it never went all swampy and flat on me like many of the Long Jings I’ve had before. The color got less vibrant and lost it’s green color, favoring the yellow tones.
In my side by side comparison the Premium did not fair as well, and contrary to when I steeped a larger quantity of leaf, by the 4th and fifth steep it had indeed gone somewhat flat. It still never did go swampy, just was kinda void.
If you’re not all about Organic, then I’d say this is a good value and is the one I’m tempted to buy in quantity.
Beautiful 2013 spring samples courtesy of the preeminently generous Angel over at Teavivire. I was shocked at how many she sent me when I contacted her about the 2013 harvest. When I find a tea I like, I tend to buy significant quantity, so having this reference is truly appreciated. You rock Angel!
Well, let’s call this Part 1 of 3 in my Teavivre Long Jing Smackdown. All in all I was provided with samples of the Organic Long Jing, Premium and this Organic Nonpareil Ming Qian. I prepared them all in my variation of the Tall Glass Method, where I decant each infusion, leaving a root. Tasting notes on the other 2 teas can be found in my Tea Log:
I really wanted to be the first to post a review of this tea, but I didn’t want to rush, particularly because my findings were a little perplexing. Initially I sampled each of the teas separately, reserving some dry leaf to compare. I noticed that the leaf of all 3 teas was very well photographed on the website and representative of what I was sent. Kudos to Teavivre for providing great photo documentation that is not overly manipulated.
I was shocked that all three dry teas looked and smelled almost identical. I really expected to see something to differentiate them. I first tried the Premium, and without going into detail I again was surprised to find that there wasn’t a huge difference in the flavor profiles, aroma and color of the liquor in comparison to the Ming Qian and the Organic Long Jing. I thought I’d see vast differences, but either A) my palate isn’t refined enough to tell the difference, or B) these teas really aren’t significantly different.
To see if maybe my memory was failing me day to day, I decided to do a single sitting, side by side comparison. I’d spread the initial tastings out over 3 days as there was no way was I going to do 3 full servings in one day or I’d be bouncing off the walls. For my comparison I cut the tea by a 3rd the size of my usual servings and prepared them each the same way. For my finding on the other teas, see their respective tasting notes.
As for this tea, the highest price of the 3, I like it. It’s a good Long Jing. None of them were particularly chestnutty, as is often the descriptor for Long Jings, and this one I would say was the least. Most significant for me was that it had an overall more refined, smooth profile and a sweeter aroma. The mouthfeel was clean with a light, dry astringency on the periphery and a lingering subtle sweet aftertaste. I don’t have any food comparisons or vegetables that it reminds me of. No green beans here or spinach, just telltale Dragon Well. Sometimes you’ll see a mild smokiness or toasted element to Long Jings. Not so much for any of these. Though I DO get a little toasty note here, just more of a backdrop than center stage.
I got about 4 steeps out of each of these, steeps 2-4 with a root. The first about 1 min (30 swirled + 30 steeped), 2nd about 30 secs w/ the previous well-soaked root, the 3rd about 1-1.5 mins and the 4th I drank from the tall glass. The Ming Qian started falling apart, along with the Premium, tasting a bit vacant on the 4th steep, but remained quite drinkable. I could probably coax a 5th steep out of this but I’m not motivated. Yeah, motivated myself— 5th, not so much.
Is it worth paying premium for the Ming Qian? Maybe if you want to get stupid like me and go crazy with a comparison, really splitting hairs to see the minor differences between Teavivre’s offerings. But honestly, for my taste, I don’t see the need to spend the extra ducats.
Caffeine. After a side by side like this, all I can say is “Yes.” I’m pretty confident that I could depend on this tea to keep my inner fire burning late in the day and rub the cobwebs out of my eyes in the AM. As for now I’m certainly motivated to write all three tasting notes, one after the other while still fresh in my mind.