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Recent Tasting Notes
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?)
…and this was what I made to warm up when I happily returned to my hobbit hole. Bilbo says, “I miss my books, and my arm chair, and my garden. See, that’s where I belong; that’s home.” Now I know! I’m a hobbit.
This is a little sweeter and gentler than the Boston Tea dragonwell I had earlier today. Lovely on its own; I may have a second cup with a little sugar.
The movie today reminded me that sometimes we’re called to do things that are much bigger than we are—to be light in a dark place. As I’m rocking and sipping in my favorite spot, my prayer is that God’s love and light surrounds you and gives you peace. Merry Christmas, friends.
Needed something gentle. Talk about severe storms headed this way has gone on for several days and has rubbed my nerves raw. I may have to break down and pay a visit to the storm shelter builders about digging a hole in our backyard…
This is wonderfully gentle, a nice sweet cereal flavor, but not so light it leaves you searching for something to taste. Trying a second steep as I write this…very pale, taste buds have to work a little harder, but still OK. Its mildness is very soothing.
C’mon storms, get your work done here and move on. I could use some sleep tonight.
This smells great, both dry and steeped. Comes across as sweet and grainy to me. It’s a beautiful pale blonde in the cup, and has the temperament of a nice, friendly bowl of cereal. At first I was a little stumped about which brand of cereal, but hubby nailed it as far as I’m concerned—Sugar Pops! (Or Corn Pops or whatever politically healthily correct name it’s been given now.)
Love to my enabler ashmanra for the opportunity to try this one. Looking forward to Steep #2 in a bit!
I’ve had a few smokey green tea before but this one is unique. It has a cool tingly sweet aftertaste that reminds me of orchid and ginseng oolongs. It didn’t come out till the second steep and is most strong in the third. I hadn’t experienced it in a green before neat! It is a bit bitter at the front and charcoaly, but the lingering taste on my tongue and in my throat are worth it. Thanks Michelle for sharing this one!
This is my first experience with any Tie Guan Yin. So what happens now? Do I get inducted into the Brother and Sisterhood of Tea? Am I knighted, given the Order of the Dragon? Any of that? No?
Well, I like this anyway. I was surprised opening my oolong sampler pack from Teavivre when this one was vacuum-packed amongst the other regular-looking samples in the normal Teavivre large zip pack. Another surprise as I opened the sample itself: it was in yet another smaller clear plastic pack inside the foil pack! You can tell they wanted to take care of this tea. It already has a scent of cooked vegetables, artichoke, I think, and that’s when dry! I can also pick up a little sweet floral and a roasted/fired scent.
As usual, I followed Teavivre’s recommendations of using the whole sample (7g) for 200-250ml of boiling water and steeps of 1, 2 and 3 minutes.
1st steep: The wet leaf is strongly scented: buttery vegetables (artichoke and long-cooked greens), vanilla and orchid. In the cup it’s a light yellow-green and has a broth-like feel to it with a slight astringency. I get flavors of buttery vanilla and orchid with notes of vegetable and mineral.
2nd steep: The leaves pretty much filled the normally generous-sized infuser basket in my teapot, so it was a little tough to judge how much water I was pouring in. As it turned out I poured just right. It’s now a golden color in the cup and feels lighter. The astringency is stronger this time, but not too strong. I don’t get vanilla this time around, but it’s still really buttery with orchid and vegetable flavors. The mineral note is quite a bit stronger too, taking over much of the middle and finish of each sip. That’s not something I’ve had so strongly before, at least not that I’ve noticed. This is a mentally-awakening cup of tea, and that’s always a good thing!
3rd steep: Check it out! I actually got to a 3rd steep! I actually turned over the leaves in the strainer, moving the ones on top to the bottom so that the water would reach them better. I think as a result, this cup was very much like the 2nd steep.
4th steep: I can hardly believe I’m writing this. A fourth steep! Thanks, ashmanra for the commission comment below. :) But everyone, given my track record for not being able to take teas to even a third steep, I think I deserve at least a “Most Improved” ribbon! I had this cup with dinner, so I wasn’t focusing on it so much. But it was still noticeably floral and buttery with the mineral center, even though it had a thinner feel this time.
I liked this. I had read about Tie Guan Yin before, and notes of iodine, mineral, salmon and flint were mentioned. It didn’t sound too appealing to me, but everyone and his dog has had several different TGYs in their tea logs, so I had to try it. Since I got Teavivre’s oolong sampler, I chose to have this organic version first because the “Monkey Picked” version looks like one I’ll like even more. Now I’m really looking forward to it!
Today is probably not the best day to write about tea, but given that I find comfort in both writing and tea, here goes. I got this Milk Oolong on a recent order from Teavivre. I’d like to just reiterate how much I love Teavivre. Fast, relatively low shipping threshold, and I’m not sure if they sell a bad tea (everything I’ve tried has been delicious). My only other experience with a milk oolong was from David’s Tea. I loved every single thing about that tea. The milk flavor was strong enough that even I could taste the creamy, delicious goodness. So I had a high bar set that I was hoping Teavivre could surpass.
My first pot of tea I made according to Teavivre’s directions—2 t per 8 oz of water steeped at boiling for two minutes. What I got was overwhelmingly oolong and short on milk. Green oolongs aren’t my favorite in the first place, so that was a bit of a disappointment. I valiantly brewed a couple more resteeped pots. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what I was hoping for—a milk miracle, I suppose. It was a miracle that never occurred.
I decided to give it another try this morning, in the hopes that different brew parameters would help. Also, I ordered a lot of this tea. So I have quite a bit to work my way through. I brewed 1 t per 8 oz at 90 C, and low and behold. Milk! I was so happy! The smaller amount of leaves and lower temperature seems to have allowed the milk flavor to come through. I’m definitely a happier camper (tea-wise) this morning.
And if you don’t want to read about my crappy news, please stop reading now. I totally get it, since it isn’t exactly about tea. But it is weighing heavily on my mind. I found out from my vet yesterday that my dog has a very aggressive pancreatic cancer. Animals with this condition seem to only live a couple of weeks after diagnosis. She is my baby, gotten from a rescue. She was terrified of everything when we got her, and she’s come so far. She’s only seven—young for cancer. She is my tail. She follows me everywhere, and prefers me to all other company. The thought of losing my Bella is tearing me up.
I think I’m discovering that my tastes lean towards the darker teas (though I’m yet to order any samples of puerh—I’m afraid of it!). But that’s not to say that I haven’t enjoyed all of the greens and whites I’ve had. I haven’t had that many oolongs yet; this may be my third or fourth one. Descriptions I’ve read of Dong Ding in general and of this one by Teavivre sound delicious.
As usual, I’m following Teavivre’s recommendation of steeps of 1, 2, and 3 minutes with boiling water. I’m using the whole 7g sample package for 200-250ml.
1st steep: Opening the package I found lovely scents of gardenia that remind me of my mom, sweet grass and a buttery note. The wet leaf is amazing: I found it hard to keep my thoughts together as the scents raced around, full of cooked greens, heavy white florals, a light vanilla (but only just), and then butter, butter, butter! I could not believe that a tea could have this much butteriness just in the wet leaf, let alone the liquid! In the cup it was a pretty pale yellow, very smooth feeling and maybe a little oily. There was a very slight bitterness, but that seems really fitting with the flavor full of buttery greens and white florals that are lighter than in the wet leaf.
2nd steep: It’s hard to pour the right amount of water in the pot this time because the leaves take up so much more space in the infuser, so there’s probably closer to 250ml or maybe even more. Despite extra water, the tea is darker now as a nice light sunshine yellow. The flavors are also more equal now between the buttery greens and the white florals, but the florals really linger in my nose. Lil’ Miss is watching her shows now, but even with Postman Pat and Peppa Pig on, I manage to feel a little refined while drinking this on the couch.
And once again, the day took over and I never got to a third steep.
I’ve been holding off trying this sample because I’ve just been a bit afraid of it. I don’t know why; maybe it’s the legend this tea has created for itself, high expectations that my yet-learning mouth doesn’t want to dash in its immature tasting abilities. Maybe the Southern Girl predeliction for sweet teas in which I am trying to re-educate myself.
I used half of the sample pack, and that worked out to be about 2tsp for 200ml. I followed Teavivre’s recommendation of 1, 2, and 3 minute steeps.
1st steep: The wet leaf smells of cooked and subtly sweet vegetables, kind of like zucchini, with some toasted notes. I like toasted notes. With this shortest steep, it’s the palest of mint greens in the cup, and it has a thick, broth-like feel in my mouth. One of the kids did something, or made some sort of noise that made me look quickly in that direction while I was lifting the cup to my mouth, and I ended up missing. As it rolled down it honestly felt like a milkshake, albeit a warm one, on my chin. Now that sounds like I’m a dribbler. I do not currently need someone on hand to mop me up. But my imagination tells me that’s what it feels like to dribble a warm milkshake. You can stop shaking your heads. It’s the truth. The taste is very much like the wet leaf scent. I’m liking this!
2nd steep: A little darker color in the cup, more a pale yellow-green. And the same flavors only stronger this time, but a light orchid flavor comes out as the cup cools. This is really very nice!
Unfortunately I didn’t get to the third steep. Evening came up with everything it brings for me to do. Next time I’ll make sure to get all the way through! Looking forward to it!
Lovely oolong tea. While I don’t taste ‘milk’ I do get a smooth feeling while drinking the tea. I think I need to drink more oolong before I really rate this one, but it falls kind of flat to me since I just drank their premium dragon well which was fantastic. That makes me believe that I am probably a bit biased right now. I will drink it again some other time, and then maybe drink the flavored version and see which I like better.
I wanted to like this tea because it sounded really interesting when I read about it. Opening the sample pack it seemed promising, smelling of orchids and fresh vegetation pretty equally. I used the whole 5g sample for 200ml of 80C water.
I want to say “1st steep” here like normal, but I didn’t get past that one, and that was for just over one minute. The wet leaf smelled much more of cooked greens with a little bit of orchid. First I noticed a strong and lasting bitterness. Then I could find the cooked greens and orchid like in the wet leaf. And then the bitterness again. And maybe that developed into a mineral-like taste. And then just that bitterness.
I don’t think I did anything wrong here because I used my Breville One-Touch as a variable temp kettle, so the water was definitely right. Teavivre recommended steeps of 1, 2, and 3 minutes, so I didn’t oversteep. I tried all afternoon to make myself want to try for a second steep. I just couldn’t do it. I don’t want to blame the tea, so I’ll just say maybe it isn’t for me. I don’t know if I’ll try the second sample or not.
I had been saving this sample for towards the end of my sample stash because I tend to save the best things for last. But I’m having a really hard time right now and I need to calm down and treat myself.
I was a little confused about how much to use for my teapot with 200ml of water. Teavivre’s site says 1tsp and equates that to 7g, and that’s not right. Others here have mentioned using 1tsp. Most notes though haven’t said outright how much they used, but hinted that they used the whole sample pack of 7g. I hedged my bets and used 3.5g, which turned out to be exactly my tea scoop that is 1.5tsp! With that amount I did Teavivre’s recommendation of 1, 2, and 3min steeps.
1st steep: On opening the pack, I was met, no, I was virtually mugged by sweet jasmine. But mugged in a good way, of course. Behind that was a subtle woody scent. After the steep, the pearls were only starting to open, and the woody scent seemed to be in the middle of the jasmine now, making me picture a swirling ball of jasmine with a small, central core of the woody-ness. It was just like being able to smell the flower and its stem. Tomato lovers know that a tomato smells best when it still has some vine attached, and this is the same; you get a fuller sensation. In the cup it was just the same, and all the heady aromas really filled my mouth and nose.
2nd steep: The pearls were most unfurled now, but they still kept the general pearl shape in the centers. This was very much like the first cup, but the woody scent in the wet leaf was now much more like green tree sap, a bit richer and deeper. I wouldn’t have expected to pick up on that. Rather proud of myself there.
3rd steep: I’m surprised that there still seems to be some centers of pearls mostly together. Looks like I could get another steep from this, but it’s getting late. I’ll have to try getting to four steeps next time. It’s also not noticeably different from the previous cup.
This is so smooth and velvety that it is almost creamy as someone else here mentioned. I haven’t tried the lower-priced Premium Jasmine Dragon Pearls, but based on everything I’ve had so far from Teavivre, I can’t imagine they would be a disappointment. But it looks like I’ll be getting one or the other of them for my permanent stash!
It’s time to make this tea again, and for it to get the Perfect Glass Teapot Treatment with my Teavivre teapot. (I can’t tell you how much I love that little thing!)
I definitely like teas with a more baked or bread-y flavor compared to herbaceous flavors. I enjoy that this tea reminds me of toasted pane di casa with peaches and ricotta that I’ll make for breakfast from time to time. Today I’m having my tea with a modified huevos rancheros (made with a little beef & bean chilli leftovers) and it goes with the tea wonderfully! I’m feeling well-fuelled for the day and don’t mind the storm clouds all around. In fact, I’m feeling quite cosy now.
So, Oriental Beauty, the oolong everyone raves about from the tea company everyone raves about. It’s a pretty tea when dry with colors ranging from pale yellow, golden, red-brown to almost black. I can find scents of honey, peach and bread. I’m following Teavivre’s recommendation of 30sec, 1min and 2min steeps at 85C.
1st steep: I’m going to start getting a reputation for painting strange flavor “pictures” here if things keep going the way they have, and this tea isn’t going to help! The wet leaf first smelled like the wonderful crust of freshly baked bread, and then—wait for it—Southern-style green beans. The type that’s been cooked to an inch of its life, with bacon (and plenty of bacon fat) and sugar added. Reminds me of my favourite BBQ restaurants back home. For a homesick South Carolinian, it’s hard to get past that, but if I really push through it I think I can find some peach following it up. And that was just the wet leaf! This first cup was quite light in color, like fresh peach juice, and very smooth. The flavors are buttery with bread, honey and peach, but not exactly sweet.
2nd steep: This steep is darker, like copper. A gentle bitterness this time. The flavors are mostly related to what I found in the 1st steep, but they’re in a different order and there are some additions. First is buttery, baked fruit (mainly peach), then cinnamon, wood, and freshly baked bread. There’s a slight note of liquorice that comes towards the end, but it’s not strong or unpleasant (as I don’t like liquorice). But the overall impression I get from this steep is remembering when I would spread a piece of pane di casa with some ricotta, put sliced peach on top with a little brown sugar and cinnamon, then grill it. That’s not all that sweet, and neither is this tea, which is surprising considering the flavors involved.
3rd steep: The bitterness more noticeable this time, but it’s not offensive. The flavors are now pretty well restrained to butter, honey, peach and bread, and they’re all a good bit weaker. There’s not really that much to say about this steep. The bitterness did make this last steep not as easy-drinking as the last steep of most other teas I’ve had. I’m not saying it was bad, just that I simply noticed the bitter taste each sip. I couldn’t mindlessly drink it while reading, say.
I wanted oolong and I wanted to use my yixing pot again. I looked at the leaves and figured it fits in with the whole green Taiwanese oolong thing I got going for it. So I was kind of surprised to see people calling this roasted and I guess right there it says baked taste, but whatever, it won’t kill the poor pot to just get anything that IS actually green right?
Since I bought a sample size, I used one of the two packets. It was actually 8 grams which was fine by me.
I did a rinse just because I felt bad for hiding away poor teapot for a month. It was nice to see him again. I guess it’s a him. I’ll just go with it. So he wanted a nice oolong bath before we got started.
So, drinking the second steep here. It has just a little bit of a baked taste to it, but considering how I have had zero luck so far with actual roasted oolongs, it tastes fine to me. It’s sweet and vegetal, before it fades into the roasted note, which reminds me of brown rice, and finishes up with a floral one.
Third steep: when I took the lid off the teapot, wowowow! It smelled like I had just baked oolong bread or something in there. While this one gets a bit more roasty, it still has floral/vegetal qualities to it, but the roasted notes are a lot stronger now. I am almost afraid to go on but I will. Because I probably just steeped it too long, since I was distracted by carrots.
Fourth steep: less toasty! Back to being very floral! I should go to bed soon but I really want to give it one more go.
Fifth steep: Not getting much else from this but floral and green, which is perfectly okay because now it tastes more like a TGY than anything else, and one steep that crossed over to the dark side (literally?) was enough for me. There is definitely enough flavor in it to keep going but it is 11:30 so it’s time to end our lovely night.