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Recent Tasting Notes
This is one of the yunnanist Yunnans I have ever had. Really, that is my first thought on sipping this.
To me, Yunnan blacks are the original dessert teas. Chocolate, honey, maltiness, sweetness. When my boyfriend spoils me with super-fancy handmade truffles from the farmer’s market, the kind you have to sit and savor not (just) because they’re practically two dollars apiece, but because they’re just that good, I reach for none other than a good Yunnan black tea to go with them.
I have a long history with Yunnan blacks, beginning with an Adagio signature blend “Silk Road” that I drank religiously every morning for breakfast. Soon I realized the element of the blend I loved most was Adagio’s own blend, “Mambo”, a mix of Yunnan black and WuYi oolong. It didn’t take me long from there to pinpoint that the Yunnan was what I was really after all along, and since then, I have taken a lot of joy in trying assorted Yunnan black teas from many vendors.
These days I even gongfu brew them, something I never would have imagined years back when I was gulping mugfuls of milk-and-sugar laden Silk Road every morning while watercolor painting sheets of would-be origami paper. But that distinct Yunnan-y flavor takes me back, regardless.
One of my first tea trades was with the lovely Azzrian, who must have read (or intuited) my bio regarding peach tea, because she sent me the most amazing array of peach blends! When I opened the box, the scent of peach was enough to put me into a blissful coma (not really…lol). So, I secretly open that box just to get a whiff at least once a day cuz it smells so good & relaxing. I’ve also been sipping some of those peach brews…I love peach!
Every morning I start off with a cup or 2 of plain black tea. This was one of the non-peach teas in the box, & I felt that it was time to drink a ‘different’ black tea from all the other ones I’m rotating through.
I couldn’t really smell the dry leaf, the outside of the baggy was permeated in the lovely scent of peach, but the brewed tea is a deep red, no peach flavor. Its a nice black tea with malty notes & a good start for the day. I kind of wish I’d brewed it a little stronger, but thus is life. Thanks Azz!
My friend Michelle and I tried this flavored version again compliments of Michelle on here, after a few steeps of the unimpresive non-flavored version. This tea smells like peaches! And tastes like peaches & cream! It’s kinda intense and unfortunately a wee bit cloying but still tasty. I have more of this to play around with so we’ll see. But neither were as good as Fong Mong’s Milk Oolong, even though I do think highly of Teavivre.
I apologize for the abbreviated tasting note on this one, but it was two days ago and I wasn’t terribly impressed. It’s a good green oolong mind you, slightly floral (my friend had a hard time placing it, not orchid, not jasmine, oramanthus, I doubt she’s had oramanthus but I have once), a slight cooling note at the end but creamy? no. buttery? no. I’ve had two other unflavored milk oolongs from Taiwan and this I’m afraid just didn’t measure up, which is unfortunate as I had high hopes for this. Now I suppose there could have been brewing factors or that the sample I got passed on from Michelle, was older or something, but it simply didn’t resemble the other milk oolongs in anyway. ::shrug:: Thanks for letting me try it Michelle
I was in the mood for a green tea this evening and I picked a good one. The dried leaf has a nice aroma but my spider senses tell me it’s the 2011 harvest. I have a Liu An Gua Pian that was sent from Anhui that looks much fresher. That tea is definitely this years harvest. This is still a very vibrant tea with a nice full flavor. This tea is also making me perspire on my forehead. I can feel the purifying effects of this lovely tea upon my body and mind.
I was about ready to give up on this one until I ran across momo’s post about trying to cook with it. That inspired me to put a little kick into the turkey gravy that I was making for tonight’s dinner.
I put about half a shotglass worth of leaf in a shotglass and filled it up with water to brew. Then when it came time to add water to my pan to make my gravy, I strained the cup through a strainer and used the tea. I also used a little bit of cayanne pepper and some black pepper on the sausage because dad didn’t spice the sausage enough for my taste.
It came out pretty good! There is a different note underneath the light smokiness. I think that is the actual black tea base. It was different enough to be pleasant and went very well with the turkey sausage.
I want to make a version of this again for the whole family only instead of using a meat for the base, I want to try it with onions and mushrooms. That way I can mold the turkey sausage to look like little t-bone steaks for the family. That will surprise them.
Cooking with this tea might have saved it for now. I will have to figure out how to use it in a satisfying way.
I had a bad first experience with Lapsang Souchong. It smelled like bacon and tasted like watered down burned bacon grease. That being said, I am a little nervous over this tea because the smell of the dried leaf came back to me very quickly. I brewed this for two minutes and it smells smokey. More like grillhouse smoker type of smoke and less campfire this time.
It isn’t bad. It isn’t what I was expecting either. Yes, it does taste like smoke but it also has a mild and barely detectable sweetness. But I mostly taste smoke and I’m not the biggest fan of that taste. It makes me feel better about Lapsang Souchong now and I know that the tea itself isn’t bad.
If you like lapsang souchong, I believe that you would really love this one. I’m not rating this one because it isn’t a bad tea. I’m just not overly fond of it.
I know I have been absent for quite a while. September normally is one of the best if not the best surfing month of the year. And this one was of the best ever. So everything gets postponed. Sidetracked. Except for Tea. I drink it religiously. I just did not write about it. I have to tell you all about my first experience with this Sheng. I never brought a Pu-er to work before because quite frankly they can be wild. Normally it is an Oolong or a green for my 9pm tea. My friends and I enjoyed this. It provided superior flavor and mouth texture and an incredible buzz. I went to my GFs house with this feeling of utter calm and hightened state of well being. Then she gave me the soup made with black chicken, spinach and goji berries and ginseng and some other herbs. Three spoonfuls of the soup and I was sicker than sick. Apparently this is a no-no to combine a young Pu-er with what my friends call a “hot” soup. Not temperature wise but energy wise. OMG it was awful. FF to today I brewed this in my gaiwan and I lost count of the steeps. It started out slightly bitter with a golden hue and morphed into a sweeter liquid later with a flavor that seemed to linger. I feel the same euphoria as before only now I am wiser. I can only imagine how good this will be with aging.
My best friend came over with cheesecake today! Yay! She is a teacher and we took advantage of her day off to spend some time together even though youngest and I did NOT take the day off. We are doing a few extra days of schoolwork because she is going to Northern Ireland, Ireland, and England next month!
With sweet food, I like a contrasting tea. Nothing astringent, mind you, just something to “cut the sweet” and clear the palate so that dessert is delicious instead of cloying. One of my favorite teas to serve with really sweet food is Teavivre’s Fengqing Black Dragon Pearls. My friend had those recently at my house, so I thought we would drink this so she could try something new.
Oh, what can I say? I really love Da Hong Pao teas. One of the first ones I tried (by a different company) was anemic and uninteresting. This one has the fresh walnut flavor, the woodiness, the hints of unsweetened cocoa, that I love in DHP. The dry leaf in particular smells like a chocolate flavored tea! Steeped, the chocolate becomes a hint of cocoa and the nutty flavor comes to the forefront.
I am on the second steep and will be making at least one more with this even though I am making it western style and by the pot. So good!
This is the last of my sample from Teavivre, and once again a sample has caught me in its nefarious snare. I will probably be buying this one on my next order.
I got three steeps from this today and possibly could have made more, but I was cooking lunch and needed to get moving. This is so smooth. The leaves are very dark presteep. This is a dark oolong, not a green oolong, but it doesn’t have the mineral punch of a monkey picked (which I love big time, just saying it for comparison) but there is a lot of nutty smooth flavor.
As requested, I am posting a link to the pictures of the newly completed Tom Baker Fourth Doctor season 16-17 scarf, the largest and longest of the entire series. A scarf for Sam the puppy is now underway.
This was a free sample included in one of my latest Teavivre orders.
I made three steeps in a row and tasted a sip of the first, then poured all three steeps into my new Chinese pot. But, OOPS! I didn’t look at the online instructions so I just used one heaping teaspoon of leaf for eight ounces of water. Now I see that they recommend much more than that. In spite of that foul up on my part, this is good tea!
I am feeling philosophical tonight and have a lot on my mind, so I lit the candle, turned on yoga radio on Pandora, and made tea. This is a great tea for such an evening. Now everyone else is abed and I more or less have the house to myself!
This oolong is rich and nutty. It doesn’t have quite as dark and roasted flavor as some oolongs, but is definitely not a green oolong. I really want to learn more about tea – the types of plants, their geographical origins and specialities. I feel inept describing this, but I can say it reminds me of a Monkey Picked TieGuanYin a bit, with the flavor leaning a bit more to walnut. There is a lovely lingering aftertaste that I find comforting.
The rice pattern Chinese pot I bought for $5 (for the whole set of pot and five cups) is handling beautifully, too. This is my inaugural use of it and I have never had a pot with the spout that goes up and then curls back downward, though I have heard they are supposed to drip less. This one pours nicely and the downward turn seems to slow the tea so you don’t splash without slowing to the point of impatience, which is how with one of my pots I end up tipping it too far to speed things up and end up spilling out of the lid. And indeed, I have not seen any dripping. So hooray for that! I needed to try it out tonight because someone is coming for tea tomorrow and I wanted to give it a test drive before using it then.
Now I’ll be honest: I wasn’t interested in this tea, but it came as part of the oolong sampler so I figured I’d at least give it a try. Then I read the reviews here and I’ve decided it will be the tea to christen the new tiny glass teapot from my second Teavivre order that just arrived this morning!
I’m using 3.5g (half the sample pack)—that’s the same as my 1.5tsp tea scoop—for 200ml of boiling water. Steeps are 1, 2, and 3 minutes.
1st steep: Dry it is blue-green pellets with yellow flecks and more resembles small powder-coated rocks than it does tea. It has a sugary wet scent paired with straw. The wet leaf looks more crumpled than anything else after this first steep and smells of toast and well-cooked vegetables (spinach and green beans) with the same sweetness as when dry. Poured out it’s a light golden color. On the first sip I notice an acidity then astringency. On the second sip a sweet taste is added. I can taste toast, seaweed, and a sweetness like sugar cane. Then something remarkable happens: the sweetness starts moving around. It starts by feeling like a vapor that fills my mouth and then it dives to coat my mouth under my tongue! Does any of this sound bad to you? I can’t believe my first prejudiced thoughts about this tea were so wrong!
2nd steep: The leaves look like they could still handle a good bit more; they’re not fully opened for the most part, and the ones that have opened more are still very wrinkly. I don’t notice the toast scent in the wet leaf this time, but I get plenty of sweet well-cooked/roasted vegetables. This cup is more honey coloured, and I also don’t think I’m getting the toast here either. The acidity and astringency is the same, but then the sweetness takes away from that and is actually thicker! After each sip the sweetness becomes thick and honestly juicy right on the tip of my tongue! I’m going to run to the kitchen now to make the third steep….
3rd steep: I may have just been able to detect the toast scent in the wet leaf this time. Now I’m noticing that the acidity and astringency are stronger, but then they’re cut by that delicious, juicy sweetness. All three keep returning, taking turns almost for the attention, but the sugar cane flavor (and the thick feel it gives) wins out, lasting long after each sip.
I’m so glad I got to try this, and also that I can steep all of the oolongs in my new glass teapot where there is more than enough room for them to open out. I think I can safely say that this is my favorite oolong so far, not just because of how it dashed my prejudices for the better, but also because the flavor and sensation of drinking this tea are just so good. If you’re not sure about this one, then trust me: forget about not knowing if you’ll like ginseng… just try this tea!
Forgot to log this from this weekend. Thank you to Michelle for this sample, it was on my shopping list so yay! Been awhile since I’ve had Lapsang Souchong but tis the season, happy first day of October! I only had a few sips of the first three infusions, as I poured this as an offering during a healing rite Saturday night. Between the peat moss incense and this the house was filled with lovely smokey smells.
After the ritual I indulged in a few mugs of this and it was perfect, still smokey but in a lighter, cooler, sweeter way, which is how I like it. Actually I’m not surprised this is a Wuyi. Will be coming back to this soon and will log the first infusions as I burnt my tongue on this in the kitchen trying to sneak a taste.
It has been many months since my last review, and I hope to start writing (and posting) reviews for teas again, although probably not as often as I had previously.
The leaf is stated as being harvested on March 25, 2012. I received 15 grams of this tea as one of many tea samples provided by Teavivre during the summer (thank you Angel and Teavivre!) and as the wife is out for the evening, I decided to brewed it up for the first time (she likes jasmine even less than I do, and she’s very particular about not wanting to drink a ‘type’ or ‘flavor’ of tea she previously disliked).
This tea looks like any standard silver needle tea I have seen (having had a few), and on the first inhale it smells strongly of jasmine, but not in a overpowering way. After taking a little more time to really take in all that the dry leaf aroma has to offer I could smell what I believe was the fresh white tea underneath the Jasmine scent.
I brewed about 2 full teaspoons of this tea using my standard parameters for my white teas by starting at 170F (I was actually shooting for ~165F) for 2 minutes in my new 14 OZ Glass Victorian Trading Company teapot (I absolutely love this little teapot), adding a bit of Stevia. I did three steeping sessions.
The tea liquor was a light straw color—possibly a little more yellow than what I am used to seeing in the liquor of a silver needle style white tea, with a mild jasmine scent.
It tasted light and refreshing, as any quality, fresh white tea seems to me to taste, such that the jasmine was not overpowering (as it seems to be in just about any other jasmine scented tea I have had).
The tea buds stood straight up and down—as silver needles are suppose to—while brewing; the buds smell about the same wet as dry, with a jasmine scent; interestingly enough, the buds are greener-looking than any other white tea I have seen. There are a few brownish looking buds and bud-ends, and a few stems, but otherwise the wet tea was comprised of nice-looking greenish-colored buds.
For the record, I want to emphasize that I am not a fan of jasmine flavored teas. I’ve only had a few (one or two green and one black) and I didn’t even remotely like them. So, I was leery about even agreeing to try this one (it is my first jasmine silver needle white tea). Still, after doing three steepings with it, although it’s not a tea I would choose to buy and drink, I will admit it has its appeal: it’s light and fresh, reminding me of the simple pleasure of spending a quiet sunny Sunday afternoon in a spacious garden or some high-ceiling-ed glass-walled atrium where floral scents abound. It held up well through three steepings (when I brew up the remainder of the sample at a later date I hope to push for 4, possibly 5). I am starting to think this may actually be the tea to change the way I view jasmine scented tea. Teavivre claims this tea is “the absolute highest quality scented white tea available,” and having tried many teas from them to date, and from what I have experienced here, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is indeed true.
As it’s my first type of this tea (and a preliminary review), I am leaving off the numerical rating.
I guess I didn’t make a note of this tea the first time I tried it. I made it as per the instructions on the packet, and it came out too strong. Very astringent, even bitter as it cooled.
This time, just under boiling, twenty seconds (plus a ten second rinse). This time, it’s almost sweet, becoming vaguely astringent as it cools (which seems to suit it).
Steep two: More astringent. Bit stronger overall. Darkly vegetal.
This is a sweet and gentle little dragonwell; safe to drink in the evening.
(Just sniffled my way through Downton Abbey Season 3 Episode 4. I wonder what kind of tea Carson serves when…well, you know…happens.)
(Late to see it because weather messed up PBS reception last night and we got the dreaded NO SIGNAL signal. Put me in a vile mood all day until I could get my fix online. That’s just kind of pathetic, huh?)