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Recent Tasting Notes

This is a sample I got from TeaVivre. Thanks so much to Angel & the TeaVivre team!

Today I officially start teaching again. I’ve been on vacation for the last 2 weeks, mostly laying around in my PJs with Tony at his house. I’m suppose to have students from 10am til 7pm, with a few breaks here & there. The 10am was a no show. I called, they thought we started next week. I get this every year, & purposely took the first week of the month off because of it. Oh well. I should be doing things, but instead, I’m drinking tea.

Dry, this smells interesting. The initial smell was floral, then peachy, & there’s also chocolate liquor in there. Very interesting.

Wet, the aroma changes drastically to hashish (it’s been a long long time, but I smoked a lot of that one year), charcoal, & even a hint of opium (it’s the floral smell…if you’ve ever smoked it, you’ll know).

I brewed the first cup western style, following the instructions I went with 1 heaping T for 1 minute. It was nice, a little fruity, floral, a little charcoal. It did not wow me. It kind of reminds me of a peach oolong. I re-steeped those leaves for 3 minutes, & it was more of the same. It’s nice, but I feel like I’m missing something.Admittedly, I added some stevia to the 2nd half of the cup & it became a sweeter version of itself, bringing out the fruitier flavors. Sacrilege, I know.

I drank a cup of Matcha, to cleanse my palate, I suppose…& some water.

Then I visited the Verdant site, looked up the Da Hong Pao instructions, & started again with 5g of leaf in my 4 oz Gaiwan.
2 quick rinses, combining 2 steeps at a time in my little glass pitcher (no stevia):
1 & 2 (4 sec) – lovely apricot color, delightfully peachy taste with a hint of charcoal.
3 & 4 (8 sec) – more of the same, plus honey, & a little smoke.
(my 11:30 student cancelled)
5 & 6 (12 sec) – more of the same flavor, an interesting sensation under my tongue
7 & 8 (16) This one has a real nice honey aftertaste, & all of my tastebuds are tingling.

My 12:30 student just called & cancelled (sigh). Time to run a few errands… Enjoy the day, Steepsterites!

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drank Golden Monkey Black Tea by Teavivre
1212 tasting notes

Hoooooly cow.

This tea smelled so good before I even drank it that while signing up for a fantasy hockey league (OH MY GOD FINALLY!!!! still), I decided to name my team Golden Monkeys.

It’s like an amazing cake. I don’t even know what to say but I am wondering why I took so long to try this out!

It’s so sweet, definitely like honey. I honestly wish I knew what sweet potatoes tasted like on their own…it’s been so long since I’ve not had any that tasted purely of orange juice in a casserole type dish. May have to fix that myself. Anyway, I’m sure that flavor is in here too. It’s also malty, and it does remind me a bit of red wine.

I have to say….if I finish off my two sample packets I would have to buy 100g…

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Tried this last night. As in, I tried to get this to work. It never opened up, and the tea itself was lacking. It wasn’t fragrant OR sweet. It wasn’t bitter, though…it just wasn’t anything. So odd.

I wound up leaving the little bulb in water for the entirety of my Law and Order: SVU marathon, and had something else. STILL didn’t open up, so I smashed it open with a spoon. Would have been pretty, if it had worked, lol. Gave the tea to my plant. At least something got to drink it.


did you use boiling water to brew it?


Yup. :(

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So after realizing I didn’t buy any raw puerh earlier in the day on Cyber Monday, I really wanted to try some and so here we are.

This is the first puerh I’ve had off a cake of sorts, this coming from a tightly packed, oversized tuocha. Man, it was hard to get things rolling. I felt like a monkey that’s probably gone along forever like, who needs tools, dudes, and then a scientist thinks it’d be funny to give me a pick.

But I did it! One rinse later, I have my first cup (20 sec steep). It smells so good. Kind of like how white teas have that hay smell, but on tea steroids.

Wow I have no idea what is going on with this tea. My first instinct is to shun it. There’s so much! The hay, woods, fruits, astringency, sweetness, dry mouth, the feeling like I just might have had a sip of juice instead. The flavors are ridiculously cool though but it leaves this weird thick, dry mouth feeling that makes me feel like a dog that just got some peanut butter.

I will probably come back to this later but right now I need water. I assume it’s the small pieces that ended up in there in the process of me figuring this whole separating tea to use from the whole, so eventually they have to all end up out of the gaiwan, right?

2nd steep, 25 sec: it’s a bit better, still astringent to the point of dry mouth feels, but it is so much sweeter and fruitier. I’m taking tea to a friend tomorrow and asked if there is anything she wouldn’t like and she said she’d try anything so I feel like I should give her some of this and see what she thinks. All she’s had so far I think are flavored teas so this is probably a bit mean at this point. I must say the dry mouth is a lot more tolerable, though it reminds me a bit like hay is stuck in my mouth thanks to honey. Oddly this tastes better than it sounds.

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Thank you Angel & Teavivre for another generous sample.

In shades of Sage, sof gray, & cream, this is a delicate tightly rolled tea that opens to beautiful bright green small leaves. The dry aroma is thick & a little tart.
I went with 4 G in the test tube steeper, only filling it a little over halfway, which is maybe 3oz or so, using short steepings of 30/60 etc

Overall, I found it to be refreshing, lightly tangy, & sweet, with a wonderful sense of clarity!
The later steeping tended towards a light astringency & small bitter quality, but not enough to make it unpleasant in anyway. An enjoyable tasty tea, although admittedly, I believe I prefer the Cha Want Tai Ping Hou Kui.

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2nd Sipdown of the day! I think that’s 284 to go…

A lovely nutty green here, a sample from Angel @ TeaVivre, thank you!
It’s like a savory green such as spinach or chard, with butter & a pinch of salt. Very tasty!


i have samples coming from angel…. i am very excited.

Terri HarpLady

TeaVivre’s teas are very nice! :)

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I chose this for the 2nd pot of tea for the Ladies, who are still playing beautiful Harp duets while I wash my dishes. Have I mentioned that I actually live in Heaven?

This was a sample sent to me from TeaVivre awhile back. They are so generous that I actually received 2 sample envelopes of this, one which I drank back then, & the other which we’re enjoying some of now. To me, this is a delicate, savory, buttery green tea. Very pleasurable.
Thanks again, Angel & TeaVivre!


Of course, it is heaven. How else can the be all that harp music? :D


I wish I could join :)

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My thanks to Angel @ TeaVivre for the generous sample, & also for your willingness to send these samples out! Thank you!
This is pretty, delicate, kind of fluffy olive green tea.
2 tsp + 8oz @ 1 min (175) = a very light, pale yellow green infusion with a pleasantly sweet flavor that hints of hot breakfast cereal with butter. I’m seeing a field of newly harvested hay bales, drying in the sun. Sweet, mildly vegetal flavors & a pinch of saltiness make me think of a cup of sweet white miso broth with Kombu floating around.

A very mild & pleasant cup. No astringency or bitterness.

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Something upset my stomach this morning, so I decided to brew up the last of this before work. Just threw in a couple of teaspoons of sugar because I don’t like drinking this straight. The rest is smooth and slightly smoky.

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Why, hello tea! I’ve missed you. In the time I’ve been away, I’ve had a short relapse with an extra large iced coffee drunk in a too short time period and with various sodas.

Hot and sweet in a nice large mug. Yum on the green tea with a hint of smoke. Extra sugar in my cup because it helps control the lion that is the smoke in this tea. I knew I was saving this for a good time. I’ll probably have this brewed more times and maybe have one iced. If I do have it iced, then I will write a tasting note for that one.

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I’m on some antibiotics now and I am feeling better. I’m glad. This tea (sweetened) also helps me feel better because it is so tasty. I like it better sweetened because the light smokiness drowns out the sweet greens when it is plain. When adding sugar, the smokiness is brought down a little bit and I can taste the lovely green tea. I just wish I had some mint to put with this.

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I am finally starting to want my loose leaf tea again. I am so happy. I have missed actually making my tea, but if I haven’t wanted any then I wasn’t going to force myself to drink some. I don’t drink enough water anyway, so I should really be drinking more tea. At least it is a liquid!

Anyway, this tea is the perfect tea to come back to. I put a little bit of sugar in it because I find it a little bitter on its own, but the sugar helps bring out the natural sweetness of the tea that I just don’t taste on its own. I am actually cutting back on my sugar and only put two teaspoons instead of three. The next time I make it, I’m going to put one teaspoon of sugar in. I’m trying. I might cut back on the brew time too and brew it for two minutes or maybe even a minute instead of three.

This tea makes me want to get some fresh mint to brew with it. Sadly, we don’t have any or else it would be even more awesome!

Have I mentioned I actually like this one? I really do.

3 min, 0 sec

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I broke into this one a couple of days ago to drink with my fiance. I brewed it for a minute and then poured out a glass for each of us.

I was expecting this to be overwhelmingly smokey, but this surprised me. There is a little hint of smoke and a slight sharp astringent quality. But there is this nice light sweet taste to it that was just calling to me. The taste is nice and grassy. Almost a little spinachy. It just tastes green.

I brewed another steep today for about a minute and a half and added sugar. Oh my! This is going to replace my hot chocolate cravings for a while with that extra sugar. It brings out the natural sweetness of the tea and the smoke takes on an extra quality to it. It reminds me of fresh vegetables. I bet this would be wonderful brewed up, sweetened, and then iced. Yum.

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Thank you to Angel @ TeaVivre for this sample!

It’s been a busy day, running around doing the things self-employed musicians have to do when they aren’t performing or practicing. I’ve drank a fair share of black teas, but didn’t really have time to comment on them, & I’m not in the mood for backtracking, so onward…

This is a really pleasant Shu! I steeped for 1 minute, 2nd steeping for 2 minutes, & will probably try for a few more before I release the leaves to my compost pile.

It’s very dark! I like that in a tea!
It’s ultra smooth, creamy even, & sweet with a raisin bread-like taste & a hint of vanilla.
I needed this…(sigh)…

Terri HarpLady

They have some lovely teas, Paul :)

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I made a batch of my astragulus ginger lemon tisane earlier this afternoon to share with Tony, & then I enjoyed a cup of this delicious sweet cup of caramel yum. Now back to our regularly scheduled program (aka supernatural).


Mmmmm, you always make me crave what you review :-)

Terri HarpLady

Glad to be of service :)

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nom nom!!!
I feel like cookie monster right now, this tea is so delicious. When I saw it in the Here’s Hoping TTB, I immediately said to myself, “That’s MINE! mineminemineminemine!!!”
I want to thank the people who had that box before me, you know who you are (awkward soul, claire) for including some really wonderful teas that I wanted to try!! Usually by the time the box gets to me, it’s just a bunch of chemical laden cast offs that nobody wanted, so I’m generally disappointed. THIS time was different, & I really am grateful. So again, I thank you!

Yes, I took all the awesome stuff from the box, & I would feel guilty, but as Tea Sipper will discover, I loaded it with goodies just for her! So I am absolved of all guilt! LOL, I also tossed in a few castoffs of my own, which aren’t bad, just not to my taste.

Today I poured the whole sample into a cup, steeped 1 min/2/3. All steepings were AWESOME! And it’s a sipdown, leaving me with only 265 teas!

Today is my youngest child’s 21st birthday. His name is Leif, & I posted his pic on my FB https://www.facebook.com/terri.langerak. He’s a great kid, in his 3rd year of college, & although he looks like a stoner, he’s actually as straight as they come, AND he drinks tea.
Feel free to wish him a Happy Birthday.


I used to have hair like that. Actually it was to my waist. Nowadays it is mostly down the sink. I miss my hair. Jealous.

Terri HarpLady

In my house we refer to that as ‘Robert Plant’ hair. My oldest bro had the exact same hair. Leif’s hair has been long most of his life. in 4th grade he begged me to let him die it blue, so for his birthday we bleached & then died it midnight blue. Over the next month it fades down to a soft blue, then we died it again. We re-died it a few more times, & then he let it go. Eventually we cut out the remnants of the treated hair. That was his last hair cut. It’s hard to be a rebel in my house, because almost anything goes. The only real rule is no drugs or alcohol on the premises. And be nice. And Be responsible for yourself & your stuff. Oh, & BE yourself! That’s pretty much it.


My brother has the exact same color of hair and almost as much curl, but it’s more wave really. He lets his grow to shoulder length, but sometimes cuts it short. When my husband first met him, he thought for sure that my bro was a stoner because of his voice/accent. 8 years later, my husband is still suspicious, but I try to convince him that its just the rocky mountain outdoor dude voice. :) It doesn’t help, though, that my brother just acts plain weird, seriously on-another-planet weird. :)


HAPPY BIRTHDAY and keep your cookies away from mommy!


I love your rules! The friend who introduced me to my hubby had waist length hair and it was luminized, so it was deep, shiny black with almost a blue sheen! He is now bald but that looks great on him, too. He really pulls off bald! He misses his hair, though.


Happy birthday to your to your youngest child :)

Terri HarpLady

Thanks for the birthday wishes for my son Leif!
And Angel, thanks always for the wonderful tea! I split an order from TeaVivre with Sil recently, but I’ll probably have to place another one before long for myself!


Terri, thanks for your support on our teas. We will continue to share more and more good teas with you- tea lovers, as well as provide good service all the time.

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Continueing my sipdown of teas from Azzrian, this Bailin Gongfu is awesome! It’s a black tea drinker’s black tea! Aroma of chocolate, but the tea itself is more of a caramel & malt taste, & a little fruity. It’s also ridiculously smooth, & mean the whole cup just went down!
Thanks Azz!

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I’m finally sampling Bailin Gongfu, thanks to our dear friend Angel, @ TeaVivre.

I’ve read various peoples reviews of this tea over the last few months, & as I recall, it is a bit temperamental. I was careful to make sure the water temp was 185, meanwhile wafting the addictive smell of cocoa tinged maltiness emanating from the leaves as I painstakingly weighed them, first all in one cup, 7oz, & then taking away leaves until I was down to 3.5 oz. The other half of the sample got tucked back into my black tea sample bag for another day.

I got a massage this morning. I’m feeling very ‘open’, my breakfast is sitting here waiting to be eaten. This tea is luscious, mouthwatering, and delicious: Malt, chocolate, & bit of caramel sprinkled with a pinch of sea salt. My mouth is watering, my qi is flowing, & I’m smiling. Good start for my day!


It’s a good one. Somewhat refreshing.

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A pleasant tea of the afternoon while teaching from home. Sweet potato & a little malt.

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I allowed myself the luxury of sleeping as long as I wanted/needed to today, laying there, coming in & out of consciousness until 10. I could actually probably sleep until noon, but I do have 2 weddings to play at today, one at 1:30, the other at 5:00, with quite a bit of driving in between, so I figured I’d better get rolling.

This is a lovely & sweet tea, with a rich flavor & fragrance: hay, malt, sweet potato, caramel. No blaring brass, not particularly bassy, I’d say it’s a woodwind quarter, with maybe a little cello & viola thrown in.

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A lovely mellow tea, served to myself, my daughter, & one of my students this morning. It was great with a breakfast of savory sweet potatoes, bacon, & eggs.

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I split a pot of this with one of my students today, as I know she really loves this one, and what’s not to love, I ask you? This is a super tasty Fujian Black, sweet, rich, a little malty & yeasty, kind of like a piece of toast.

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Good morning Steepsterites!
My dad is 80 years old today. Mom turned 79 on xmas eve. They live in Florida, so I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like, but I chat on the phone with them pretty much every day. It’s a bit scary watching your folks grow old, seeing them become children again in some ways, but I’m really grateful. I’ve always had a good relationship with my mom, my relationship with my dad was not so good. It took a long time to heal, a lot of song lyrics written, a lot of journaling. The path to peace is always acceptance & forgiveness, it seems, & honesty. Dad & I understand each other now, we’ve worked out our issues. I’m grateful for that!

This tea is a comforting cup of rich buttery sweet potatoes. Nothing bright here, nothing brash. It’s not particularly bold. It’s a quartet of clarinet, viola, Cello, & Alto Flute.


Your quartet makes sense to me. I’ve never been one for brash instruments. This tea rates 100 with me. Work some Iommi crunch riffs in with this quartet and I’m in heaven.


Your path to peace is beautiful as well. Happy birthday to your mom and dad.


Happy birthday to your mom and dad!


A belated happy birthday to your Mom and Dad!

It’s heartening to hear that you found a path to understanding and peace with your Dad. That may be one of the most important things you could do in this life. Song lyrics, journaling, honesty, acceptance and forgiveness are all powerful tools. You followed a difficult and potentially painful path, which speaks of your inner strength.

I recently went through a similar experience with my parents growing older. Mom and I always got along great, but it took decades to heal most of the distance between my Dad and myself. We both put forth an effort and made great strides, which I am immensely grateful for.

Their health began to decline around Christmas a year ago. I flew to Pennsylvania every month for nearly a year and watched them decline both mentally and physically, becoming more of a caretaker with every visit.

Mom passed in mid November before I could get there, but I was able to stay with my Dad as he slipped away over the next eleven days. I had the honor of holding his head and talking to him as he crossed over.

Later I went back to my hotel, made a cup of tea, and meditated on the feeling of being at peace.

Even though you can’t get to Florida very often, phone calls are a good way of staying connected. I truly hope you enjoy the time you have left with your parents.

Terri HarpLady

Sorry to hear of your parents passing, but so happy to hear that you also found a path of peace with them & was able to be there.
One of the fun things regarding my relationship with my Dad is that when I was young, he strongly discouraged my musical path, but as he got older he revealed that he had wanted to be a musician, & was never able to pursue it, so there had been some resentment there for him. (sidebar: Mom & Dad both played banjo ukeleles & the night they met, they both walked into the door at a party, each carrying a banjo uke, knew all the same songs, & basically spent the entire evening jamming on folk tunes!).

So I started giving Dad piano & music theory lessons, mostly over the phone, several years ago, & whenever we visit, it’s a long long lesson every day. His desire to really understand music theory & how to apply it has been fun to satisfy :)


Very cool story about how your Mom & Dad met! It’s unfortunate that your Dad had to suppress his dream, but at the same time it’s uplifting that you have been able to connect with him on that very level. Giving music lessons over the phone takes patience and dedication on both your parts. My Dad got his first computer 20 years ago in the days of DOS and WordPerfect, and I taught him over the phone several times a week for about a year. Although frustrating at times, it was also a rewarding and bonding experience. It sounds like you are having a similar time!

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