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Recent Tasting Notes
I was already quite familiar with Teavivre’s pu-erh tea via their Ripened Aged Pu-erh Mini Tuocha (bird’s nest-shaped little tea cake) selection, my absolute favorite pu-erh tea. I liked it so much that I sent away for seven ounces of the product from Teavivre in China a few months ago. When I received the order, the ample amount in the package made me think that I would be tuocha-sufficient through the end of the year. However, I brewed through all of the little birds’ nests in about three weeks! Since I try to maintain Teavivre’s pu-erh and a few of their black varieties in my stash of staple teas, I immediately hit their website to order more pu-erh. This time, I thought I would give their loose leaf Ripened Aged Loose Pu-erh tea a shot, hoping that it would just approach the great quality of the tuochas.
When I opened the package, the strongest pu-erh aroma that I have ever experienced burst forth from the bag. It was a potent, earthy, and leathery smell that screamed pu-erh in several different languages. The long tea leaves looked like shredded landscaping mulch and were a milk chocolate color.
I was surprised (and a little concerned) when I saw that the instructions recommended three to four teaspoons of the leaves for each eight-ounce cup. I was afraid that I would empty the entire package twice as fast as with the tuochas. However, Teavivre’s instructions always seem to suit my taste buds, so I used their recommended amount (three tablespoons), temperature (212 degrees), and brewing time (two minutes).
The steeped brew was a deep dark brown. A fragrant medium-strength pu-erh tea aroma arose from the pot.
The flavor of the tea was absolutely, thoroughly, and incredibly delicious. It was rich, powerful, smooth, and exploding with flavor. The taste was fresh and earthy with a full-bodied leather quality. Bitterness was not in this tea’s vocabulary. The aftertaste lingered blissfully without annoyance.
I would give this tea a rating of 200 if that choice were available. I will do my best to make sure that this tea is NEVER missing from my daily stash.
Water: 8oz at 185 degrees
Leaves: light yellow flower w/ green base
Aroma: floral chamomile spice
Taste: The scent reminded me of chamomile but with a bit of spice added. I must also say this is a very pretty tea,I used 25 pieces. Considering I’m not a fan of chamomile tea,this tea was quite nice.The aroma my be a bit strong for some when drinking.
HOO YEAH! This sample sent me to to Tea Heaven! Best Teavivre tea I received by far! The darkest of black teas- Its roasty, almost ashy foretaste feels like silk in the mouth. It then overwhelmed me with roasted green beans (yes, I’ve been obsessed with beans lately) and was tantalizingly tangy in the aftertaste. That last bit made the impression on me of apple cider vinegar on a green bean salad.
Two mugs of this today. Two words…happy mouth! I can’t say if I like this better or the same as the Golden Monkey, but both are similar, only this one is lighter somehow. This is the type of black tea I find most comforting, straight. It is just warming and it wraps it’s golden leafy arms around you and says it is alright. Partially drunk straight, but I caved and added milk and sugar to the second half of the first cup and second cup.
Many thanks to Angel at Teavivre for the generous sample.
Yum! Full details later.
EDIT: So it is quite some time later. I feel like rather than backlog and try to get in the mindset I was in this morning when I had this tea, I better just have another cuppa in the morning and write my tasting then, so it is more accurately described. But I can say I really enjoyed this one today.
This tea is grassy, slightly sea-weedy (but in a good way) and buttery. It tastes fresh and spring-like. As it cools it gets more grassy and leafy. It loses the seaweed flavor altogether.
2nd Steep: No seaweed, even more buttery. There’s a floral sweetness I can’t place.
Short tasting notes- at work.
I’m enjoying the variety in my teavivre samplers. This is a slightly dark, woodsy oolong tea. The smell of the liquor is earthy greenbeans and mushrooms. It seems like a lot of teas lately remind me of beans. The taste is much like the smell with the addition of some very faint honey and citrus tones that work really well to add some brightness and complexity to the earthy tones. The aftertaste doesn’t last very long, but it holds onto the fruity tones and settles into a creamy flavor.
Second Steep: Much more woody, less sweet and fruity. Minerally?
I’m not sure that I get why people recommend drinking pu’erh if you’re used to drinking coffee. The brew sure has a very nice dark colour, but I wish it was more full-bodied. I like this but I really have a hard time describing pu’erhs so I can’t say a lot about it. It smelt a bit fishy at first, but I rinsed it for 45 seconds before brewing it and it got rid of the fishiness. Then I steeped it for 2 minutes in a mug with an infuser.
I got a solid 3 infusions out of this and I’m sure I could get more. It was very good iced with a little bit of lemon and sugar.
Maybe it’s in my head but I’m starting to believe the chinese myths about medicinal properties of puerh. It really quenched my thirst and I felt refreshed after drinking several cups. I wasn’t as hungry as usual in the afternoon.
Had an interesting experience drinking this tea this morning. I had to go to work this afternoon, and that was hanging over my head. I had gotten up and ready later than I had intended, and as a result had less time to do what I wanted. Which was learning the bass line for Led Zep’s “Ramble On,” which to someone like me is definitely a challenge, especially since the chorus is a lot of noodling that’s not done the same way twice. So I was a little stressed and not particularly happy.
Then I had a sip of tea, and I let myself focus in on the color, the flavor, the texture… and my mood changed. I found happiness in the little moment with the tea. I became more positive about going to work. I realized the bass line, although technically challenging, was within my grasp in terms of understanding the fundamental structure, especially since I’d just found a video on YouTube that isolated the bass and made it very clear to listen to. And I still can’t get over Teavivre’s lapsang and how much respect it commands.
This is why I drink tea. It allows me to “practice peace,” instead of “practicing stress,” which for some reason is one of the only anti-stress mantras that really works for me. It pulls me into the present moment when I, by nature, tend to live it in my head, whether in a good place or a bad. And it imbues that moment with something positive.
Cheers to Teavivre for making what could have been a brash, offensive drink into something delicious that helped me find a spark of positivity in my day.
Not that I’ve had many lapsangs, but this tastes like what I think a lapsang souchong should be! Just the right amount of smoky. Don’t think this is a tea I’d do every day, but this is exactly what I’d keep on hand for that every-once-in-a-while I feel like brewing up a smoky cup!
P.S. I broke the damn infuser basket on my new teapot!!! Shows ya what I get for trying to clean it more quickly by turning it inside out. It looks like the mesh just slides up into this little crease in the rim and that’s how it stays, but… ugh. Not sure if it’s even worth the effort to fix it or if I should just get myself a new infuser basket. At least it’s easy to just dunk my tea ball in, hook it on the latch, and use it in place of the basket.
This is my second lapsang souchong, and one that came as a free sample with my significantly more sizeable order of their fenqqing dragon black pearl. I have to say I am more impressed with this version than the one from Mountain Rose Herbs. It is a LOT more subdued… perhaps to the point of being a little too mild. O.o What that means, though, is it’s easy to control your variables so that you can adjust for a tea that’s a little more or a little less smoky, especially if you’re not into OH DEAR JESUS IT SMELLS LIKE A WILDFIRE tea. In fact, the aroma was so subtle I could barely smell it from the opening I’d cut in the bag. … I might try a little more tea next time. But highly recommended if you like a bit of smoke but not a lot!
This morning’s cup is dedicated to Past Me. I usually don’t like the decisions Past Me makes, but this time around, Past Me scheduled an 8 AM dentist appointment that’ll probably take about 25 minutes to get to. In doing so, Past Me got Present Me out of a 7:30 AM work meeting (which nobody in my store knew about before Tuesday) that would have been a 45 minute drive if you don’t count 7 AM rush hour on Columbus-bound route 33, which is a four-lane highway trying to handle six- or eight-lane worthy traffic.
So, Past Me, I raise this warm mug of malty cocoa-tinged perfection to you.
I really, really need to stop writing notes on this tea.
Also, I just realized I’ve had the current bag since summer of last year.
This is my evening cuppa as I practice my bass. And make no effort to get this version of this song out of my head: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCXEtvbJkkY
I’ve reviewed this tea approximately 903 times I think. I actually laid off it for a few months while I didn’t drink tea as much, and when I did it was usually something flavored. Getting back to it… there’s a reason it’s my favorite. It is the quintessence of everything I want in a tea: a flavor that is is familiar and desirable (cocoa) yet unexpected (earthy, raisins) at the same time. I have never had anything else quite like it.
First of all, a belated Merry Christmas to anyone celebrating today!!! (Or yesterday… whoops.)
I got some lovely tea-related things, including a replacement infuser, two insulated tumblers, and (quite possibly my favorite) a double-walled glass mug so I CAN ACTUALLY SEE THE COLOR OF THE TEA. DUUUUUUUUUUDE. (I can’t wait to try my Harney & Sons lavender tea in it!)
I had a bit of the H & S Holiday Tea this morning to go with present-opening and such. Then I decided to try this in my new glass mug. It’s, as one might expect, a lovely reddish amber hue, and delicious as always. Even my mom said, “Oooh that’s pretty! What is it?” when I showed it to her.
I look back on 2013, and it has really not been a remarkable year at all. In fact, in many ways it’s been quite bland. But I can honestly say that one of the coolest things about it was that it was the year I got into tea, which has brought me such relaxation, fascination, and non-intestine-shredding caffeine kicks. The “tea” culture/mentality has also encouraged me to find peace and positivity in my life, two things which I am very good at rejecting, haha!
I’m so thankful to have tea – and THIS tea – in my life.
And now I have just successfully incorporated New Years’ Eve and Thanksgiving into Christmas. BOOM.
Backlog from this morning plus tonight at work. This is always the tea I bust out when I’m stressed. My boss has been gone the past couple of days and tomorrow, which means I’m in charge, which I’ve done several times before but it always makes me just a little nervous. Then, one of the part-timers scheduled an “instrument fitting” (when the kids going into school music programs try out different band instruments to figure out which one they want to play) at a time when both the people in the store (myself and the other part-timer) aren’t fully qualified to do fittings, and for some reason it made me get REALLY STRESSED. Luckily, it worked out that I got one of our lesson teachers, a former band director, to do it. I owe her some kind of baked goods. And now I’m working on my program notes, which are probably fine, but I’m entering that stage of paranoia and perfection, in which I start wondering if I’m writing notes that are helpful enough, or accurate enough, and then I start thinking of what might happen if some hoity-toity music critic from New York read my notes and thought they were absolutely the most asinine analysis of Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto he had ever seen. OK, TeaKlutz, time to step awaaaaaaay from the Word document!
I went on a casual date last night. The guy messaged me afterward, and this morning I sent the “hey-I’m-not-really-into-dating-right-now-but-thanks-for-meeting-me” reply. Which shouldn’t sound like a big deal, but these kinds of things (possibly hurting someone’s feelings and/or making them upset) drive my anxiety THROUGH THE ROOF! Why am I so bad at handling these things? Sometimes I wish I was the kind of person who just… didn’t give a damn about what other people think.
…Sorry for the rant. I’m stressed and I don’t feel like I should be stressed and somehow that’s making it worse. Mmmm guilt complex.
So I’m drinking my comfort tea. I used 3 pearls per cup, which I’ve found is my happy place. I keep trying to find other chocolatey/malty teas, and there are some reeeeeeally really good ones out there, but somehow, it all comes back to this. I wonder if that’s because this is the first tea of its kind that I tried? It’s just so… perfect. Until I drank it, I doubted it was even possible to have a tea that smelled so much like real cocoa. (Cacao?)
Also, I would like to point out that I got mad that Steepster ate my note – and then I opened my other window and realized I hadn’t published it yet. I am so smart! I am so smart! S-M-R-T! I mean S-M-A-R-T!
I interrupt this broadcast to celebrate two things:
1. MY GAIWAN CAME TODAY!!! MY GAIWAN CAME TODAY!!! Aaaaaah! (happy dance) I feel like a real tea connoisseur now! Good thing I haven’t sipped down my last Verdant oolong yet! It’s so gorgeous and delicate! I’m scared I’m going to drop it, but I’m so excited to try it!
… Uh, how do I use it?
and of course it showed up after I brewed a pot of this tea. Ah well!
2. Got a notification that my Teavivre order has departed Bethpage, NY. Only a few days! Making the dragon pearls last just long enough to make it until the big bag comes.