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Recent Tasting Notes
I’d like to thank Angel & TeaVivre for their generosity in sending out samples to those of us who love tea, & I’d also like to commend them for the excellent quality of all of their teas (at least all of the ones I’ve tried so far).
I’m gradually getting more accustomed to white teas. I’ve learned to really watch the temperature of the water, as well as the quality of the water, & they don’t seem quite as bland as they used to, & although I’m certain they will never replace black tea as the love of my life, I enjoy a cup here & there. This one is quite tasty, with a thick tongue & a mild malto-meal kind of taste, with a little butter & soymilk. There’s just enough of a vegetal flavor to hint at split pea soup, & today I’m also picking up a hint of citrus. A lovely tea.
It’s the last day of July already? Unbelievable!
A few months ago I started using the last day of the month to update my “Tea Collection” database, re-arrange my cupboards as needed, & kind of review what I drank. I have this insane goal to drink a cup of every single tea in my cupboard once a month, & as my cupboard continues to expand, that goal gets harder & harder to accomplish. I didn’t even come close in July, having started the month with 307 teas (including samples) in my cupboard. I only drank 132 of them (some several times, like Zhu Rong), with 36 sipdowns. That’s ok. There’s always August! :)
In looking through my cupboard, I realized I still had a sample from Angel that I hadn’t tried yet. I guess I’m starting to like white tea, or maybe this is just a really tasty one! It’s hard to describe the flavor of it. It started out almost buttery & malty, but then it took on a kind of soymilk flavor, & near the end it reminds me a little of split pea soup, very savory.
Thank you to Angel @ TeaVivre for sending me generous samples of this, & also for allowing me to be part of the sampling program, as I truly enjoy the quality of your teas!
Thanks again for the samples, Teavivre! I must admit I thought this was the other Tan Yang when I asked to sample it, but that one is missing from Teavivre.com now. I remembered it from a past visit to the site, so then I didn’t realize it was missing now. I have tried this one before, but at least it was another harvest. This harvest calls for two tablespoons, at 194 degrees for 17 ounces with 1-3 minute steep times. I went with three teaspoons. I love the fuzzy dark gold leaves with hints of black and a sweet potato fragrance – that’s always promising. The color of the cup is actually surprisingly dark for such a golden leaf – the color of the brew is slightly lighter than a cup of coffee. The flavor kind of reminds me of an assam, almost brassy with hints of smoky or tobacco notes. Hints of tomato, sweet potato, honey, molasses. Sweet but with more bite than I expect from such a golden leaf. The second steep is more like chocolate, again surprisingly dark for such light leafed tea. I probably could have used two teaspoons rather than three and had a delicious cup anyway.
Steep #1 // 3 tsps. // 15 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 8 min after boiling // 3 min
Harvest: March 25, 2014
I had been wanting to request more samples from Teavivre but I kind of felt guilty about it and I thought I’d drink up some of my other teas first anyway. BUT Angel from Teavivre sent me a message on Steepster saying she was sending me some samples anyway! Well, if they are offering, I will certainly not say no! So THANK YOU for the amazing generous sample package! I always love Teavivre’s teas, so this will be fantastic. Tan Yang’s are the next tea I HAD to try, thanks to the reviews I’ve seen here on Steepster. The descriptions of Tan Yangs sounded like they’d be my new favorite.
I wanted to follow Teavivre’s steep instructions: This means 185 degrees with FOUR teaspoons of tea for 8 ounces with 1-3 minute steeping times. So I used three teaspoons of these lovely mostly golden yellow wirey leaves (which is probably the most leaves I’ve ever used for any tea).
First steep // A minute thirty seconds. I let the water cool a while after boiling. Sadly, I have no way to tell what temp my water is. The flavor is divine, but it seems like the water was cooled too long for a black tea. But I will certainly follow Teavivre’s instructions at least for the first batch of leaves since they kindly sent me the samples. This is so good, but I wish I knew why this was called a Tan Yang. I’m going to take a guess that it’s because this tea is from Tanyang Village? It seems like a lighter Yunnan tea. I know Yunnans come from Yunnan. But this is a Fujian tea (and from the few teas I’ve had that I’ve known are from there, they seem like they have charcoal accents.) Anyway, the flavors here: a bit of smoke somehow (is that the Fujian?), sweet potato, honey, molasses… but on a lighter scale, probably because the steep temp is so low.
Second steep // Hotter & two minutes. This one had a deeper flavor, but still very similar to the first cup. I must have steeped it just the right way with the increase in time & temp to get it that way. I definitely suggest using three teaspoons for this one since I can see how it would be way too light tasting with only one teaspoon. Very good!
Third steep // Just boiled for 4 minutes. Cup number three had a slight flavor that reminded me of what I would call the Fujian flavor: something like charcoal. But it is just enough to be intriguing… not overpowering. The cup color is now a deep red rather than orange. More malty goodness!
I always thought that the few Fujian teas I’ve tried were so charcoal-like that they were my least favorites. But I’ve learned that not all Fujian teas are the same. I guess every tea IS my cup of tea! Oh no!
I brewed 8 oz. of Bailin Gongfu Black Tea western style with 2 tsp. exactly as recommended: 3 steeps: rise, 1m, 2m, 3m at 185*F. While I enjoyed the rich light chocolate / cocoa flavor, this tea was light-bodied. All three infusions were enjoyable and very consistent in body. I also tried a 2m first-infusion and it too was light-bodied. There was no hint of bitterness or astringency.
The following day, I received our new digital scale. I then brewed some Bailin Gongfu Black Tea using a full 8 grams of tea. Out of curiosity, I then measured the 8 grams with a teaspoon and found that it equaled 3 teaspoons. Even with this much tea leaf, I still found this black tea to be light-bodied.
Impression: A high-quality rich silky smooth black tea with a light chocolaty flavor and a caramel-like sweetness for those who enjoy lighter-bodied black teas.
Thank you to Angel Chen and TeaVivre for their gracious free sample of this high-quality tea.
Correction due to new scale: What I thought was 8.0 grams was actually 80 grains. I was in the incorrect weight mode due to the very small font used for the grain abbreviation (gn). Using a Grains-to-Grams conversion, the actual weight was 5.2 grams.
I did not care for this Dragon Well. A friend gave me a sample and it did not taste like the Dragon Wells I’m familiar with. This Dragon Well seemed vegetal/floral. All the Dragon Wells I’ve had have had more of a vegetal/chestnut flavor which is what I look for in a good Dragon Well. Other than that, I feel like the look and quality of flavor was there, just not my type so I won’t rate this tea.
My window is open and there’s a cool breeze trickling over the music that softly plays in the background (City and Colour). The sun has set and the darkness is like a worn-in hoodie or sweatshirt you wear because you like the way it feels as it hugs you when no one else will. There is a couple walking down the street. I can hear their sneakers scrape on the pavement and the occasional laugh and murmurs of conversation. A man and an woman. Just taking a walk together at night. So beautiful. It’s one of those nights you take for granted. The simplicity of it. The pureness of it.
It’s over between us. It hurts. We’re trying to be friends but I think it’s harder for me than it is for her. “This too shall pass” and all that but. Man. It just hurts sometimes.
So. That’s where I am drinking this tea. I said on my first ever Steepster review that SN is a tea to be enjoyed alone and thought about. I still stand by that. There’s something intimate about Silver Needle, isn’t there? The untouched, unaltered, pure state of the leaves. White tea, more than any other, to me, is the best friend of the tea world. Like a shoulder to cry on or a friend to listen to you complain or to just sit in silence with you, SN is the solitary tea drinker’s tea. A rainy day tea. A blanket and book tea. A contemplate existence tea. A write tea reviews at night with City and Colour playing in the background trying to get your mind off her tea.
Sigh. Tea me.
I’ll just go out and say it: this is one of the best Silver Needles I’ve ever had. And I’m not saying that based off limited experience with SN’s. I may have acquired 30+ teas on my shelf but I drink SN the most. Its my second favorite tea of all-time (Dragonwell holds that honor).
The liquor is pale and clean. A quiet, golden tint; a flawless hue of simplicity. There’s a calm cedar-like woodiness, almost like whole-grain bread that peaks its head through the light veil of sweetness. There’s the hay-like taste. There’s the tangy deepness. There’s even a little spark of spice on the second infusion. There’s the smile on my face.
I have found my definitive Silver Needle. If you want to experience what white tea truly is and can be in it’s purest form, buy Teavivre’s Organic Silver Needle. This is absolutely fantastic.
This is one that I have been excited to try. The smell of the leaves is of beautiful fresh strawberry. They produce a gold liquid that has much the same wonderful smell with more strawberry than oolong.
The taste is an amazing mix of sweet vegetal oolong and strawberry. The oolong is strong enough to add to the mixture without overpowering it while still showing that it is a tea with a great taste by itself. It reminds me of strawberry Hi-Chew candy, delicious.
Dan cong oolong. Yum. I’ve missed tea. I admit I’ve been distracted by a shiny new hobby. I was gifted with water kefir grains so I’ve been making refreshing probiotic sodas instead of tea. Latest batch is a ginger wineberry concoction. From foraged wineberries! But tea! You have been missed.
This particular tea is a fine specimen of a Dan Cong. There’s definitely some citrus rind and honey. And quince. Theres the typical roasted autumnal flavor of a darker oolong. Pleasingly astringent. Tasty and warming on an oddly chilly summer day.
This was a very balanced Oolong – slightly floral, slightly sweet, slightly mineral, slightly green with medium-light oolong flavour. Due to trying another Bai Hao that I fell head over heels with, I naturally wanted to try Teavivre’s version. While it was good, it failed to meet admittedly high expectations sadly.
This green tea was impressive. The dried leaves are delicate, smell of fresh-cut grass, and open elegantly in my teacup.
I had to drink three cups before I felt I could write a review. The flavor is so light and clean, and I drank it all too quickly, for me to have done it justice with just one tasting. The tea is fresh, simple, cleansing to the palette. There is absolutely no bitterness to be found, even when steeping a tad longer than recommended. The lack of bitterness in aftertaste, just before the sweet bit, may make it seem like less of a green tea experience, but I assure that it is not.
I personally believe that sugar and even honey could ruin the delicate essence of the drink. Maybe a smidge of a light honey would be okay.
Overall, this is the smoothest and lightest green tea I have had the opportunity to enjoy. I will certainly be drinking this for years to come.
Cold Brewed: 7 gr and 750ml in the refrigerator for about 7 hours
Initially has an intensive peach aroma that fades out after few sips and rest on the palate in subtle manner. It has a medium body with strong vegetable notes (peas mostly) with a refreshing dry and bitter edge.
Adding German rock sugar (brown)
When sweetened, peach component is pronounced more and strong vegetable body is mellowed out while the dry edge persists. A good impression of bottled peach flavored iced tea (minus the bad stuff you get with it)… I like it.
I’m not going to rate this tea until I taste it in a classic way.
Backlog – I tried this tea in my gaiwan last night. Eeep, first review too! Thanks to Angel at Teavivre for this free sample! The dry smell is wonderfully jasmine, so yummy smelling! I am pretty sure I overleafed a bit lol, as I put in my whole sample package when I probably should have only used half.
I did a quick rinse, then made the first cup for 30s and the second for 50s. I had the second, and it was wayyyy tooo strong. Probably from overleafing though! My boyfriend got the first cup, and he said it was one of the best teas he’s had!! So for the next cups, I further reduced steep times to around 15-20s, and they were much better. Still a bit on the bitter side from overleafing, but next time I will be wiser.
Overall, this is a nice tea if steeped correctly. I wish I had had a sip of the first cup, because I’m sure it was perfect! Ah well, I have two more sample packs to try and find the sweet spot :) I will probably try around 10s steeps as well.
i am a puerh lover. die hard (could i be any more clear?). i will love loose leaf for my whole life. i am genuinely contrite that it took me so long to find it: shame on me! while i will study and love and review and resteep tea forever (and build extra sections for tea storage into our kitchen so it knows how much it is loved), puerh will be a special study for me.
these tuocha are ripened. which means (i am simplifying this because i am still wrapping my own head around it) that as opposed to being dried in the sun the leaves go through a man made imitation of the ideal oxidation conditions… sortof like a natural emerald versus a spinel; one happens naturally the other not. now tea, like gemstones holds separate camps of favour. some favour the bricks and tuocha others the more nature reliant method. i fall into the latter category.
because of my allergy to coffee i am very sensitive to caffeine. when i say in a review that there ‘stickiness’ or a ‘lack of stickiness’ on the tongue from caffeine that’s because i am so sensitive to it i can actually get a physical sensation of it when it’s too heavy. my experience with the ripened puerh has been much too much caffeine and a significant amount of harshness. i literally cannot stomach it. so i avoid them.
i have heard great things of teavivre of late, so when angel asked me which samples i wanted i included this as one of them. i cannot love puerh and commit to an endless study and then refuse an opportunity to try one from a company i’ve heard good things about. (that’s not the way it works)
this is a column A/ Column B review:
*i was expecting harshness and it was quite mellow =0)
*i was expecting rose and didn’t get a single hint even after varying my technique and 3 steeps =0(
*i was expecting the flavour of puerh and also did not detect it (or not in the manner that i adore) =0(
*i was not expecting it to fall apart or ‘blossom’ because many of the brick types i have tried where too ripe and too compressed for it to happen, even after soaking, but it did =0)
i will refrain from a numerical assignment.
if you like the ripened puerhs this one is quite gentle! early on in the steep you get a deep amber coloured elixir (as opposed to some i’ve had that go as dark as turkish coffee).
thank you angel for this puerh nest… it was a much improved experience from my other ripened puerh samples!
Sipdown! 813. Thanks to Azzrian for sending this one to me… in April 2012. Haha. I’m terrible…
Anyhow! I don’t think this tea has suffered; it was in a vacuum-sealed gold foil packet, and tastes great. I used the whole packet for a 10oz cup of tea, and I think it’s pretty much perfect. To me, it’s classic example of a tie guan yin; floral but with that turpentiney smell/flavour (this is meant positively), lightly sweet, lingering oolong flavour. I’ve come to conclude that TGYs are not my favourite type of oolong… I prefer ones that taste a bit less “green”, but every now and then, one of these isn’t too bad!
Sipdown, 139. I really need to make some (figurative) room in my cupboard because I am about to have a bomb of oolongs from Teavivre dropped on me soon. I figured I should try to get through this last batch of teas that they sent me, so that’s the goal for the next few days.
I’ve tried this one with my western black tea methods (2tsp, 12oz water, 3 minutes) at the recommended steep temp, and a pseudo-gongfu method, which is the whole sample pouch for a shorter period of time. I find this one yields similar results for me in each method. Even though it’s a Fujian tea, it has some earthy-potatoey Yunnan-like notes to it. There’s a hint of grains like I might expect from a Fujian, but also a very slight cocoa-powder note. All in all I definitely enjoy this tea, and it seems to be a great example of a golden monkey. Now if I loved golden monkeys, I’m sure this tea would be at the top of my list.
Thanks so much to Angel Chen and Teavivre for this sample. When I first tried a Golden Monkey, I like it ok but I didn’t love it. This was of course before I had a black tea revolution and fell in love with Fujian blacks. Even though I started exploring tan yangs and bailins and others, I never really was interested in going back to golden monkey because for some reason I had already decided I only liked it ok. After seeing quite a few steller reviews for this tea, I decided to ask for a sample of it.
I will often split the little sample pouches Teavivre sends into two cups for the black teas, but today I decided to go for a whole pouch at a shorter time to see how it turned out. I will also definitely try this with my ‘usual’ parameters to see how it fares then too. This cup is dark and smells richly of grains and a bit of molasses, although not as honeyed or caramelly as bailin gongfu, for instance. There is a bit of yamminess in this one as well, something I typically associate more with Yunnans than Fujians.
The flavor is very smooth; I had been concerned that it might have gotten a bit overleafed from the scent, which was quite strong, but it seems fine. There is almost a fruitiness to this one, and I couldn’t place the aftertaste until I read K S’s note where he talks about a wine note, and yeah, it does give me the sense of something like a Malbec maybe. It’s sweet and malty, but not in a different way than the other Fujians I know. As I drink it more I am definitely getting an almost pseudo-smoky note to it, not dissimilar to some Keemuns I’ve tried. I interestingly just got a kind of burnt-cocoa powder note from one particular sip, and as it cools its getting even more cocoa powdery, like I made an unsweetened cup of hot chocolate out of dutch-process cocoa.
I’ll give this a preliminary rating but of course that may change as I try out different steeping parameters. Right now it’s meant to reflect that I enjoy this cup, but I’m not in love with it. Which I suppose reflects the rest of my golden monkey experiences. Guess I am just more of a tan yang girl when it comes to my Fujians.
Water: 8oz at 196 degrees
Leaves: green fuzzy leaves
Color: light yellow
Taste: It’s been quite a while since I made any tea,during that time I’ve experimented with coffee Starbucks VIA-Ice Coffee to be exact. So i went with this tea to get back into the swing of brewing. I really enjoyed this tea it was very smooth and had a light floral aroma. I’m sipping on it now as I prepare to watch my favorite anime of the moment Shingeki no Kyojin.
I forgot how amazing this tea was, and I am very sorry I forgot how awesome they are lol, because I would have finished off my final sample of these ages ago. But luckily I didn’t, because this is just what I need on this Monday morning. I am not entirely with it this morning and a fair bit irritable, so hopefully this delicious, sweet, malty tea will help me to smooth out and not be annoyed with certain somebodies at work….ugh. Also listening to classical music, so the combo should do a lot to get me on track haha. See previous notes on this amazing tea!
Ahh, I needed this tonight. Perfectly malty and sweet, without being too much. This is still one of my free samples from the lovely Angel, and when I get around to placing a Teavivre order, this one is definitely on it. I really really like this tea! I used 3 pearls for 2 minutes tonight. Yummm. I’d have another cup tonight, but it’s already pretty late, I need some non caffeinated tea so I can sleep tonight lol. See previous notes on this awesome tea!
I am back! It’s been a while since I wrote a review, but since Steepster was getting updates while I was in the mountains it was all good, as I was too busy to log tea there haha. I will backlog madly after this note.
So I have a massive influx of new teas to try. Like, it’s insane. My awesome free samples from Angel at Teavivre showed up last Friday and I have been itching to try them, so they are first on the list :D so 5 of those to try. I also got my Verdant order today, so there’s another about 7 teas to try that I haven’t yet, and…I also bought some tea at a store in Jasper called the Tea Leaf Boutique, so I have to try 2 from there! Eek! And I haven’t even finished trying my Butiki teas :( oh well, lots of tea drinking to commence now!
So, back to this tea. Oh, and I already mentioned that this came with the free samples from Angel, but I cannot express my happiness enough about the 15 sample packs she sent!! 3 of each kind of tea! THANK YOU SO MUCH!
So, now the review..hehe..
This tea smells heavenly. Honey and malt, and strong honey at that. I immediately thought, Yunnan. Yes indeed this is a Yunnan, possibly my favorite region for Chinese teas! The tea appearance is so cute! I love the little malty balls of goodness, like larger dragon pearls and made with black tea. I used 4 in about 8 oz of boiling water for 1 and a half minutes, based on a few steepster reviews and the package directions. The resulting liquor is a lovely honey colored brown, and smells like, yes, honey! Honey and sweet potatoes.
As for the flavor, yes. This is excellent. The first note is a mild cocoa, and I was like hmm, is it strong enough, but then…that aftertaste…pure dripping honey. And malt. And a touch of hay. Mmmmmmm. This reminds me of Golden Fleece crossed with the aged Yunnan White tea from Verdant. It’s delicious and soothing and cozy. Comforting. So good!
Overall, a delicious black tea! The final aftertaste is of more malt and chocolate than honey. I really like this! Once again, a huge thank you to Angel at Teavivre for suggesting this one as a sample, it is definitely a good pick!!