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Recent Tasting Notes


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!

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Dag Wedin

Ah this one is so good. :)

Terri HarpLady

I’m waiting for mine to arrive :)


Such a good tea!

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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!!

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I’m eagerly awaiting my Teavivre samples too!


You will not be disappointed! :)


This is one of the many that I had to buy once I had sampled it!

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I don’t actually have much experience drinking Pu-erh, but it has been on my to-do list for awhile. Drink more Pu-erh Check! Thanks one last time to Angel at TeaVivre for providing me with this sample and helping me to check one item off my to-do list.

I began with a very fast rinse before moving on to the first steep. The first steep is not nearly as dark as I normally associate with Pu-erh. This is the first time that I’ve used a Gaiwan so I am sure the color will darken on successive steeps. The tea has a very light mellow earthy taste, but is not nearly as strong as my previous experience with pu-erh.

With the second and third steep the tea continues to darken in color and the flavor becomes more bold. The third steep is when the tuocha completely broke apart. As I continued on with steeps 4, 5, and 6 I was surprised that although the color continued to darken, the flavor remained very similar. It is very possible that I could have gone past 6 steeps, however, I had unexpected (but very welcome) company today and one of the kids thought my pu-erh looked yummy tasting.

The flavor of this tea is very mellow and doesn’t have the depth of other Pu-erh that I have had, which is why I think it is perfect for someone just starting out with Pu-erh. I find that the less complex teas are a great place to start. I do wish that the rose flavor would have been present, I didn’t taste it at all once the tea steeped.

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Sipdown, 143. Thanks again to Teavivre for this sample.

This time I brewed the entire sample pouch in my 12oz cup, at the recommended steeping parameters. I did that with my first pouch as well, but my water was off. This time it was totally awesome. The black tea flavor was extra bold, without tasting oversteeped or astringent. It’s rich and a hint cocoa-y. The rose is fairly subtle still, but it is certianly present. It just lets the dian hong really run the show. The dian hong isn’t as earthy when brewed this strong, and the flavors are more complex and interesting. Glad I made my last cup like this, I may actually have to pick more of this up at some point.

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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I can’t believe that I’m still the only person who has reviewed this tea. I guess it’s still pretty new! I had a cup of this earlier, this time my water was for sure fine. The tea did turn out a bit fuller and more nuanced than last time. Incidentally I used half my sample pouch in a 12oz mug, and brewed at the recommended temp.

This is quite a nicely done scented tea, as I would expect from Teavivre. It’s also been done with a deft hand; the rose is subtle but present enough that you know you are drinking a rose tea. But really it is more like a pleasant accompaniment to the dian hong. The dian hong is on the earthy side of things, with light notes of sweet potato. The whole cup was slightly sweet from the dian hong. For me, I tend to favor the not-so-earthy dian hongs, so the black base totally my style, but it is a lovely tea nonetheless. I will definitely enjoy the rest of my sample pouches.

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec
El Monstro

I’ve noticed this tea a few times on their site, will probably order some sooner or later…haven’t met a rose tea I didnt like, especially iced.

Ruby Woo Scarlett

The sweet potato notes are very intriguing! I’ve never tried dian hong, perhaps I should.


One of the most sweet potato-y dian hongs I’ve tried was Teavivre’s Dian Hong Golden Tip. Quite sweet and delicious! It would be a good one to try out.

Ruby Woo Scarlett

Will do, I see they offer samples!

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Backlog from this morning. I wanted to try this one this morning because I wanted to get to the samples that the lovely Angel from Teavivre recently sent me. Unfortunately, I just changed the water filter in my pitcher and I feel like there is always a break in period where nothing quite tastes right. I realized this after I had already put this in my infuser, so I brewed it up anyway.

Anyway, reserving rating this for now, but as it is it has a lot of potential. I do feel like maybe I could go for a hotter temp (this was recommended on the package). Rose, and slightly sweet-potatoey dian hong are a pretty good combo, and one I feel like isn’t common. This was a little flat and not flavorful, but I think that was the water, not the tea. Fortunately I have more of this one to try again!

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 15 sec

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This is a free sample from Teavivre, provided for review. Thank you, Teavivre!

The aroma was so powerful when I tore open the packet. There is nothing quite like the smell of fresh tea, and it really encourages me to order my greens as I drink them instead of stockpiling a ton and letting them get old. These leaves shouted, “Fresh!”

The leaves are so pretty – light and fluffy, and there are so many packed in here. I decided to steep them in the large Kamjove that I ordered from Teavivre.

We are at the beach right now and I had something after supper that I almost never eat – a Krispy Kreme doughnut with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. I needed something to wash it down, and I once would have poured a big glass of milk or popped open a soda. But we were sitting on the deck and the wind was becoming a little chilly and I thought a good green tea would be perfect.

Yes, it really was. This time, I felt like there was a strong green bean/asparagus scent. It was a little brisk and therefore just perfect for clearing the palate. I think I made a total of five steeps from the sample packet that were all combined in this pot, and even though I gave them fairly short steeps this tea was plenty strong. It could even have used a slightly shorter steep time.

I love asparagus, so this tea was a guaranteed hit with me.

Flavors: Asparagus, Green Beans, Spinach


Green tea on the beach sounds lovely!

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Dang, this is good!

I had my leftovers from the Asian buffet today and made a pot just for little old me. I usually steep this twice and combine the steeps in a large pot. I also usually start eating before I taste it. Today I steeped only once and even forgot to set the timer so I have no idea how long it steeped. I was afraid it would be bitter, but it isn’t at all!

I sipped it while I waited for my lunch to heat and oh man, it was amazing! It tasted like the freshest peas and green beans! Then the nutty flavor rises high in the palate and there is sweetness at the beginning and after the sip.

Also, this is ridiculously good with candy corn.


What isn’t good with candy corn?

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All I can say is, wooooooooooooooow! I really enjoyed this tonight. We went to the Asian buffet and got take out. I had made two steeps of this before we left the house and poured it in my tetsubin and put it over the warmer. Hubby and I drank it with our food and it was really good. Then when the food was all gone, I poured some more and had my dessert of three mellocreme pumpkins. (Like candy corn, for the uninitiated.) It was fantastic. I have heard that it is traditional to celebrate special events in Asia with super sweet desserts and tea, and it must say my mouth was celebrating this tea tonight!

This was sweet, smooth, fresh, green, and lightly nutty. It had just enough oomph to go with a meal, and not enough astringency to be bitter.

Thank you, Teavivre, for the delicious sample!


Do you find that green teas keep you awake at night?


It is so hard to say. A few days ago I drank tulsi before bed because I had hurt my back and wanted to relax all over. It is a herbal and caffeine free, of course. I also had taken ibuprofen AND Tylenol. I couldn’t sleep! And it wasn’t from pain, I just couldn’t sleep, and I would have thought the tulsi would send me off to dreamland. Then sometimes I can drink tons of caffeinated tea at night and not be bothered. My daughter gets super sleepy if she drinks black tea in the afternoon and isn’t moving about.

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I honestly don’t remember why I picked this one as me of my free samples with my order. Maybe I was broadening our horizons now that hubby and I drink green tea together often, and have it with a lot of meals.

Either way, this is a strong contender for a shelf staple. The aroma of the dry leaves was fresh. I think of green teas as belonging to certain families, like the spinach, buttered veggie, oat, or grassy families. Some are astringent on the sip and give way to sweet rising aftertaste. I wish I was a super foodie who could detect and describe more accurately but I have gotten better since joining Steepster!

This one belonged in the creamed spinach family for me, one of my favorite types. There is none of the bitterness that dark green leaves (like spinach, mustard, turnip) can have, just the smooth veggie taste of spinach – the best part of it.

My description does not match theirs, but honestly I don’t know what chestnuts taste like well enough to say the tea tastes like chestnuts…or not.

We drank three steeps of it and it had a nice amber color every time. The creamed spinach flavor kept coming through, so I call this a winner.


Sounds up my alley!


Spinach is my favorite too!

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I can really get into a Huangshan Maofeng. The last one sent from Teavivre was quite nice, and this one is even better. It’s very light and crisp, with a simple vegetal and nutty sweetness, a sparkling texture, and fresh aroma. The leaves are consistent and great quality, with fur, not too many blisters from pan-frying, and mainly bud material. They’re quite pretty. While the tea could probably use some depth that the later harvests’ leaves provide, it isn’t lacking much of anything else. It has been a great tea to have this summer for outside sessions, where it really cools me down. It’s simple and it’s good.

175 °F / 79 °C

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Thanks to Teavivre for the sample.

I use seven pearls (a whole sample pack) per gong fu session with flash infusions. This is twice the amount suggested for gong fu brewing on Teavivre’s website, but I prefer my hongcha to be robust. The pearls are very well compacted and fairly consistent in size, but there are some that are much smaller than the others. A good amount of golden bud material can be seen in the layers of the pearl, much more so than those of Teavana.

I wasn’t expecting much from this tea, but as it turns out, it is actually pretty tasty and okay for lazy drinking. The liquor’s depth is nice, with a malty smoothness, and resounding “pure tea” flavor. The lengxiang (cold scent) in the empty cup is subtle, and has characteristics of roasted barley and cooked sugar. Infusions don’t move past five, though, and even that is pushing it. The aftertaste is weak and slightly drying. There is also a faint soapy flavor right on the opening sip and at the end of the finish and seems to be paired with a slightly oily texture, but it isn’t all that apparent unless focused on it.

Looking at the spent leaves, I notice that some seem over-processed. They are totally black, difficult to unroll, and have a “carbonized” look to them, similar to spent shu pu’ercha leaves.

205 °F / 96 °C

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Free sample from Teavivre. Thank you.

When I opened this packet I was met with a lot of long thin leaves of a darkish hue. The aroma of the dry leaf was like fresh hay that has newly been stored in the barn. Definitely a good smell, then.

I steeped the tea three times in my glass teapot: first for one minute, then two and finally three. The first and second steeps were the best, while by the third steep the tea had definitely faded.

Once steeped, the wet leaves smelt or asparagus, or perhaps that pork chop aroma that I always associate with a good Long Jing. The leaves had lightened to a bright mid-green at this point and the liquor was a pale greenish yellow. When I first started pouring it, I thought it was going to come out almost clear, like my favourite Anji Bai Cha. The dominant flavour was a sweet grassiness and a delicate savoury element, like a lighter Long Jing in many ways. The tea itself was very refreshing and hit the spot beautifully on a warm Summer’s day like today. This is one for the wish list.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Many, many thanks once again to ashmanra for this tea!

I am really enjoying this Golden Monkey! I think it is ever so slightly less sweet than my Harney GM (but the most recent harvest that I’ve tasted of Harney’s GM is less sweet than the previous harvest I had, so it could be the harvest). I also think it’s a little stronger — it’s not going milky on the second steep.

I think this is an incredible bargain (it’s half the price of Harney’s) but I think I do like Harney’s just a wee bit more. $10 more? I am not sure!

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This was another one in our mini tea party/tea tasting. I wanted her to try a plain old black tea. I probably should have made her a ceylon or something, but that’s just so boring. Anyway, neither of us were too enthralled and actually dumped out the second steep as there just wasn’t too much going on with this one and a lot more other tea left to drink. But she did make a connection I hadn’t made. The wet leaf smells like, in her words, “what it smells like outside of Full Sail Brewing when you and dad think it smells so good cause they are brewing beer.” And you know what? She was right! That’s exactly what it smells like!

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I think our 13 year old is a “super taster.” She doesn’t eat much in the way of variety because the flavors all seem so strong to her. And her sense of smell is crazy. One day I got a big box of tea in the mail and she sat with me as I opened the pouches and smelled them. She (at 13) was saying thing like, “It kind of smells like a mix of hay and raisins,” or “Its got a bit of caramel flavor, but I also smell something really earthy,” while at the same I’m thinking “I smell tea.” But she hasn’t had much interest in actually trying anything that wasn’t a fruity hibiscus tea (yuck). Anyway, she returned home from a trip to Nepal with her mom (I’m her step mom) and told me she really likes Jasmine tea. She knows I drink a ridiculous amount and always laughs when the mailman brings me “another” box of tea in the mail so she asked if I would get her some jasmine tea. I don’t normally drink much jasmine, but I am happy to have someone in the house to drink tea with and something to continue my connection with her as she heads into increasingly tough ages (I hated 13-15).

So today, she and I brewed up small batches of a variety of tea. I bought a few more glass test tube steepers (i just love them) and we made the yunnan full leaf, this, and the laoshan black rose bergamot thing, I’ll look that up later. Regardless, this was the clear winner for her. And surprisingly, it was for me too. The glass test tube steeper let us watch the little pearls unfurl and turn into bright leaves and we had a great time just talking about a variety of topics.

Tea. Magical.

Terri HarpLady

I love my test tube steeper!
You sound like an awesome stepmom!

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Many, many thanks to ashmanra for this tea!!!!!!

These are very, very delicious black dragon pearls, particularly if you prefer the more leathery/slightly smoky side of things. There’s chocolate and sweetness and grain, but a distinct Queen Catherine-esque type light smoke. It’s distinctive enough to even come through on the second steep.

It was yummy and a great wake up this morning, but boy is it delicious with my red beans and rice with andouille sausage and smoked paprika leftovers I brought for lunch!

I love my uberchocolatey thepuriTea dragon pearls, but these are different enough, believe it or not, that I would stock them both!

Thanks once again, ashmanra!

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Longjing isn’t really my thing. I enjoy it on occasion, but I generally find it almost too savory for frequent drinking. Anyway, this one is fantastic. The aroma is very fresh, with strong, sweet, and slightly nutty characteristics. The dry leaves look to be of great quality: bright green, tons of fuzz, with a few pockets here and there sticking to the leaves. Almost entirely of buds, but there are some broken leaves and extraneous materials scattered throughout. All in all, though, very consistent.

I have found this particular version to be somewhat finicky to brew, though I particularly enjoyed it “grandpa style” (if anyone follows MarshalN), with minimal leaves, sipping from an open gaiwan, filling it back up with water once it gets a bit past halfway. Pretty much the traditional style, but I prefer it in a gaiwan instead of a glass. In this way, a clear, light-jade green liquor is produced that is crisp, light, and buttery, with the characteristic Longjing “chestnut” flavor. The aftertaste is sweet, fresh, and induces salivation.

Preparing it gong fu leads to too much umami flavors and an “overly green” taste (if that makes any sense), especially with too high a quantity of leaves. However, depth increases at least three-fold this way. This makes sense, but the level to which it increased was surprising to me. At any rate, this way or grandpa style both provided decent staying power throughout steeps. All in all I was impressed, and I am thankful for an opportunity to sample this tea.

170 °F / 76 °C

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The word “fragrant” in the title does not mislead; indeed, this tea is aromatic in many ways. The small, mostly black dry leaves exude a powerful aroma of citrus, cocoa, and that unmistakable “pure tea” scent. This balanced medley is interestingly persistent and found in the wet leaves, the liquor, and the empty cup/gaiwan lid. The liquor is bisquity and very smooth, with a lively and crisp texture.

Flavors open exponentially, with a slower start upon the cusp of the sip, quickly rising into a strong, full-bodied mouthfeel. While it develops quickly, the complexity is low. However, the depth is remarkable and is enough to lead to a cooling finish in the throat and a lingering aftertaste. In some cases with high amounts of leaf, the finish is drying and somewhat sour, while the general mouthfeel is sharp and slightly metallic. Hence, I have found that small amounts of leaves produce a more balanced, sweet brew, while packing the gaiwan seems to bring out more undesirable qualities, even with flash infusions.

Sweetness is pretty low-key, but after seven or eight steeps, I am able to steep out infusion after infusion of flinty sweet liquor with a simple, slightly malty, “tea” flavor. This ability to go the distance in steeps, its powerful cooling qualities, and its strong fragrance make this a really great Keemun.

Thanks, Teavivre, for the sample.

205 °F / 96 °C

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Backlog from yesterday.

Lately I’ve noticed that if a tea is described as having sweet potato notes, it is likely that I’m not going to love it. This tea is so highly reviewed I was hoping it would be the exception to the rule. Unfortunately, it’s not. I wouldn’t turn down a cup of this, but I also won’t be placing an order for it.

So far from my huge bag of samples from Teavivre, the Golden Monkey is the clear favorite.


Lol on the sweet potato notes! Me too!

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