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Recent Tasting Notes
I was reading Teavivre’s info and Steepster notes for this tea last night and just got so excited I could hardly wait until morning. Well, things happen with a baby and toddler, so it’s mid morning now by the time I’m sitting down to a cup.
I followed Teavivre’s suggestion on their site of 4 pearls (and they are big) and boiling water for 1, 2, and 3mins, using 200ml of water.
Opening the sample pack, I knew what to expect from all the reviews but I could hardly believe just how real it was! Every bit the scent of dark cocoa powder, maybe a little sweetened, and then a subtle hay scent coming at the end (maybe that was the sweetness). The wet leaf is full of cocoa and bread. I like where this is going!
I was a little concerned when I first started pouring that it wasn’t very dark in the cup. When the cup was full, it turned out to be a dark honey color. The taste—oh my word—semisweet, definitely more like dark cocoa than dark chocolate, but with a little cream or butter, and then finishing with bread. Seriously, look at those as a list of ingredients. It couldn’t have tasted more like a chocolate croissant if I was actually chewing through it! How is this possible?? It’s a straight tea, for Pete’s sake!
2nd steep: A few hours later, now that I can sit down again. I forgot to mention in the 1st steep that there was a whisper of smoke, but I can’t remember if that was in the wet leaf or in the cup. I’m guessing the wet leaf, because that’s where I find it this time. This steep is also semisweet, but also has a touch of bitterness—but it’s not bad—so I guess that makes it bittersweet! It has the same delicious flavors as the first, but it’s taking them longer to develop on my palate to become that buttery chocolate croissant. But that might not be the tea’s fault. I can feel myself having a hard time relaxing and concentrating on the tea… a migraine is trying to develop. Let me get right on to the next steep before Lil’ Man gets up from his nap.
3rd steep: A good deal thinner feel to this cup. The sweetness is still very much there, but the bitterness seems to be gone. The flavors are all there, too, but they don’t stick around. This time it’s just a cup to sit back and relax with; a cup to help you enjoy doing something else like reading, not a cup to focus on itself. If this was how the tea was from the beginning, I’d be saying, “Eh, yeah, what’s next?” But you know, this tea worked it’s heart out for the first two steeps. I’d say it’s rather entitled to fade off into the sunset.
This looks like it’s the first tea from my samples stash that makes me say “I’ve gotta get more of this!” I still can’t get over the whole chocolate croissant thing. Maybe I’ll do a blind sniff test with Hubby to see if he can tell the tea from some cocoa powder and a real choc croissant. There’s a good excuse to run up to the bakery!
This was more tart than I was expecting, but was still an enjoyable cup. I am finding myself liking hibiscus/roselle less and less, so I probably won’t buy this tea, but it was a good introduction to roselle and is a good one to have on hand for company that can’t handle caffeine. (I seem to have a lot of those friends! ) I didn’t try it sweetened; the next time I have some I will post the difference!
Thank you to Angel and Teavivre once again for their very generous sample sizes!
The last time I had this (which was also the first time) I used the whole 7g sample. I really enjoyed it, and found out that I actually don’t mind a gentle smokiness in my tea! But this time I’ve decided to try it with just 3.5g but everything else the same: 200ml at 90C and steeps of 1, 2 and 3 minutes.
1st steep: I do really like the scent of this tea dry, wet, and in the cup. The malty grains with gentle smoke and some caramel appear in all forms of the tea. It’s a really pretty dark copper even after just one minute. I forgot that this is a smooth tea; I was expecting some astringency, but I think that’s because I remembered rightly that it leaves a powdery feeling on my tongue. I actually really enjoy the smoky caramel flavor in this. It’s causing me to think of making some caramel sometime soon.
2nd steep: I’ve been able to drink most of this cup without concentrating on it. That’s not a bad thing, though the kids are mostly the cause of it. This tea puts me in a good mood I’m finding, and I’ve just been running around playing with my two little ones. In any case once I’ve returned to my cooling cup, I can notice the same flavors as before but they’re weaker and joined by floral notes.
Just as I started preparing for this tea, I noticed the lingering cold that I thought was beat had reared its ugly head again. So my senses obviously aren’t what they should be. My first straight Keemun and I didn’t know how I’d feel about it. I knew it was something I needed to at least try though. My prejudices say that I don’t like smokiness, but that’s not a good enough reason to stay ignorant! I’m following the suggested temp of 90C and 1, 2, & 3min steeps.
1st steep: The wet leaf has a grainy/maltiness that I really enjoyed in the Bailin Gongfu, along with what I can’t tell is either caramel or leather (is that weird?) and a gentle smokiness. Dark coppery liquor. Smooth but thin on mouthfeel (but that’s not necessarily a bad thing) and maybe even a little powdery feeling. Smoky caramel as LiberTEAS mentioned, and some not unpleasant bitter/semisweet fruit flavor. It’s not something I necessarily come running for, but I’m not throwing out the cup by any means. I just need to learn more about it. Moving on…
2nd steep: There’s a more noticeable sweetness in the wet leaf this time, or maybe I’m just getting past the smokiness. In the cup it’s sweeter as well and the smoke is receding, at least to my senses. I’m still getting the same notes as before, but they’re changing position. Ooh, there’s that caramel again. I’m getting more positive about this now. Is that my presuppositions getting dashed and my horizons expanding, or is it the tea talking? This cup got rather cold before I’d finished and now florals are coming out.
3rd steep: For any time-poor parents of babies and toddlers out there, you can understand—I made it to 3 steeps, and I’m proud of that. (On a semi-related note, halfway through the first cup I realised I forgot to have breakfast and I still haven’t fixed that. Too late now.) Sweetness is really coming through and the smokiness is decidedly just an afterthought now. I can sense more of the grains now, and this is just turning out to be a very easy cup to drink. Being the third and final steep of a tea I was originally unsure of, that’s not terribly surprising. But it also gives me the expectation that I’ll enjoy the earlier steeps of this more the next time I make it.
I had planned to treat my 2nd sample of this as a regular breakfast tea with milk and sugar, after I gave this one a good pure test. But now that I’m noticing a change in my perspective, I think I’d like to see what I think after another pure tasting first. Looks like I’ll either need to get another sample or be convinced enough to get a stash before it gets the breakfast treatment.
I like these kind of surprises, especially when they’re educating!
The second of my Teavivre samples, and I’m going to try to get all the steeps I can and that the kids will let me. Based on how the day’s been so far, I’m a fool for trying to do this now.
I’ve only had any oolong once before, and I steeped that in my Breville One-Touch because I was making some for my husband as well. This I’m doing in my glass gaiwan and at 95C even though the sample says boiling. But for the sake of my fingers alone, I may make this in a small teapot with infuser next time. It’s hot! Otherwise, I’m basically following the gongfu times suggested (25sec, 35, 45, etc.)
1st steep Buttery with rose and grassy notes
2nd steep Still buttery and rosy, but there’s a strong bitterness that takes my attention away from everything else after that. I’ll steep it at 90C next time.
3rd steep That’s better, but perhaps the damage has been done. The notes in the 1st steep are fully back, but after a couple of sips I’m sensing the bitterness rising again. Pushing through…. Wait, maybe some caramel coming now? Floral notes really hanging around.
4th steep Yes, I am getting some caramel now. I must be getting past the bitterness now as I’m finally noticing a sweeter finish.
I’m going to finish here because I’ve got to get back to my day and I also think I’m just not in the right frame of mind for this. A little disappointed, but I’m not blaming that on the tea. There are far too many glowing praises of this tea, so I’m going to cop it myself. I’ll try it next time in a teapot with more familiar timings. At the very least, my fingers will thank me!
Trying to remember, but I’m pretty sure this is the first unflavored or non-blended black tea I’ve had besides a Spring Darjeeling (during an Afternoon Tea at the QVB Tea Room in Sydney). It’s also the first of my samples from Teavivre, so there’s another reason to be excited about it. Well never fear, it’s lived up to the high expectations and surpasses them! That seems hard to do given such glowing praise it’s received on here, but the fact is, I finished the first cup well over half an hour ago and I’m still relishing the flavor in my mouth!
It is what everyone has already mentioned. Semi-sweet (TeaEqualsBliss). “Psuedo-smoky” (Angrboda). Thick mouthfeel and very malty—a new flavor in tea for me—without aggressiveness (Dylan Oxford). And so many others said how rich and bold it is. I may have missed it, but didn’t see anyone write how long the sensations last: it is astounding!
Since I’m really learning now and trying to train my palate, I don’t think it’s fair or helpful for me to give number scores yet. But this tea is a real lesson in richness, length of flavor, and HOW GOOD a straight black tea can be without any additions! I’m looking forward to a couple more steeps for these leaves (and the 2nd sample pack of it!) and my big stash of other Teavivre samples is looking even better than it was before!
This one reminds me of Teavivre’s Organic Silver Needle white. I brewed it at 195 for a minute as instructed, which is hotter than I normally steep whites, but it is fine, definitely not bitter. I was generous with the quantity of leaves. Yes, this tea is gentle and soothing, but at the same time has several flavors going on. I pick up on hay, cucumber and creamy notes. This tea exceeded my expectations, as white teas are not usually what I gravitate toward. I would like to try this one again.
Wasn’t sure what to expect. Would the leaves be dry? You can’t “dry” honey. Maybe crystalized. Nope, I realized when I got the vacuum-sealed bag open and went in to scoop some out. Honey coated. Not leaves in a pool of honey, though. Really infused.
Couldn’t smell the honey on anything but my spoon after I’d scooped. Brewed in a gaiwan, the liquid is a cloudy, toasty yellow. Smells like a toasty oolong, no sweetness.
First Steep: Despite the obvious stickyness of the leaves, I’m not getting too much of a honey flavour. A nice oolong—not sharply vegetal, very pleasing, buttery notes. When I breathe out… Sweetness, I think, bordering on honey. As if the honey does not directly add any flavour, but somehow enhances the oolong itself so that I am enjoying this immensely.
More sweetness as I sip. I have a feeling the honey may have settled to the bottom—as it tends to do when you stir it directly into the tea anyhow. Starting to get a sticky honey taste with just a touch of sweetness.
Second Steep: Bolder taste in the second steep, as I didn’t actually rinse this. I think I’m getting more honey. Just a faint, sticky sweetness under the toasty oolong notes. I like darker, roasted oolongs, and I think the honey goes with it well.
Third Steep: Didn’t pay as much attention to this one. Still fifteen seconds. Didn’t get any sweetness.
Got this as a sample with my Bailin Gongfu order.
The leaves are nice, pale green color when brewed and are, overall, pretty undamaged. Smells kinda good too…
The problem is – I never really liked this particular type of tea. And while the taste is surely there, I simply couldn’t bring myself to care. Won’t rate it `cause its useless anyway.
Tea party day! Well, we have two a week now but Wednesday is still the one where we have three teas and LOTS of food. Youngest made pumpkin scones that had a glaze over the top and then a pumpkin drizzle on top of that. The scones were sooo moist. The texture was perfect, not hard and dry like the ones you buy.
I like an unflavored tea with the food, so this tea went first. I had her prepare by the package instructions instead of using my usual Western parameters for black tea. It was really so very good. This is a shelf staple.
It is a very satisfying tea by itself but also goes well with food. It is economical as it resteeps very well. And it is so good, with slight malt, a little yam, and just plain good tea flavor.
This tea is so far superior to the one from Teavana in my opinion, and it is probably half the price. It is a tea that can go with any mood, any food. I served it today to youngest and her friend and I forgot to put milk and sugar on the table. It didn’t matter. They drank it plain. I think both girls have been trying to drink their tea straight for a couple of months now, and this one is an easy one to learn to like like sans additions.
Mercuryhime got me thinkkng…and looking around. She mentioned having to clean when you invite people to tea. Well, Mercuryhime, if I am ever in the area, don’t clean for me because I just want to be with you! Let your dogs lick my face, let me get dirt on my shoes in your garden, I will be happy! I love getting to know new people and learning from them.
BUT…I am going to bare all and tell you PART of what is cluttering my kitchen right now. Remember, my kitchen is large though my house is small, because this was a kitchen/den combination when the house was built, with a tiny dining area. A den was added, so the old “den” is now informal dining and school table and the formal tiny dining corner is now the laundry area and bread making center.
Okay, here goes. Tomatoes everywhere on the island, cucumbers because I am about to make pickles, teapots all down the counter, a Breville, a mixer, two ceramic egg holders because I don’t refrigerate my eggs. (Fresh, unwashed eggs have an antibiotic coating from the hen.) There is a cooling rack out still from muffin making, a cast iron Dutch oven that I can’t put away due to my surgery and am waiting for someone else to do It, two jars of kefir fermenting, a compost pail, some recycling that hasn’t been carried out, lots of spices, a mortar and pestle full of eggshells that need to be distributed, a bowl of fruit. I have my mother’ s and godmother’s rolling pins and my MIL’s old hand powered egg beater. All sitting out or displayed. It really does look like an old general store in there. On the fireplace, there are candles, lanterns, a candle box, a paper towel tube (WHY?), and some magazines. That is probably less than half. LOL!
Does anyone else dare tell what is sitting out in their kitchen? Several OCD people probably just fainted. I am sorry! :D
FYI: we eat almost all our meals at the little tea table in the “L” of the living room because of all the stuff in the kitchen.
This has become a “go to” black tea for me. Whether I am pairing it with food or just want something that I think anyone will like, even non-tea drinkers, it is a safe bet. It is sweet and honeyed and smooth, so it really needs no additions.
This was the first tea of tea party. I am going to ask for your input today about how I sometimes serve tea and choose the pairings. If anyone has any helpful tips or advice, I welcome it.
Since this was the “tea party before Christmas” and our gift exchange day, I served loaded baked potato soup. We seldom do “real” food. I chose this tea to go with it because I felt it had enough presence to still be enjoyed but no flavors that would compete with or overshadow the food.
I thought it went with the soup very well. I knew I had to step up the strength of the next black tea served so it could compete with dessert so this was a great starting place.
Somehow I had failed to add this to my cupboard. What an oversight because I love this one!
Today I made a new cake to try out some new pans. I bought the half size Bundt pans and though I really should have made my pound cake recipe I decided to try a new recipe called Hungarian Embassy cake. I got the recipe from a friend who was at an embassy dinner over twenty years ago. She loved the dessert so much she asked for the recipe, and then was featured in our local paper for her baking and they ran the recipe, too.
I invited my best friend over for cake and tea. I also wanted a good excuse to use my new variable temp kettle again. The cake has a streak of brown sugar and cinnamon through it, so I thought this would be a good match for it.
My friend was captivated by the honey aroma of the tea. She really loved it. The resteep was just as good, making this an excellent value as well as an excellent tea. It was a great value even without its resteep-ability!
Smooth, honeyed, a tiny tad malty, and utterly delicious, this is a cupboard staple. Teavivre blows me away.
Back logging from yesterday: it was tea party day and I didn’t get our teas logged because we stayed over our teacups for an extra hour. I guess we were catching up on all we missed because of missing tea party the week before.
This was the first tea I served. I had tried it earlier in the day using cooler water and a short steep time. For tea party, I made it by more customary western parameters for a black tea.
We were thrilled with this tea. The extra steep time increased the flavor and sweetness and did not add even a hint of bitterness to it. My guest gasped and ooh-ed and ah-ed and said that it was a thumbs up and a winner for her. The sweet potato goodness won her heart, and it was her favorite tea of the day.
This is not as caramel-y as the recent Harney and Sons version, so it has a slightly lighter body, though I had one harvest batch from H&S that was almost identical to this. I think the sweet potato flavor may be more pronounced in the Teavivre one and both are probably equally sweet, with the H&S tea leaning toward a honeyed sweetness.It is an excellent tea, and half the price, so it is a good choice if you want to save money or drink it more often. This will be going on a future order for me.
How do you taste a new company’s rendition of a favorite tea? One hopes to keep an open mind! I hope I did here! I will be tasting this twice today and it may be very different each time.
Harney and Sons Golden Monkey has been a tea party staple for a long time. I first tried it on someone’s recommendation back when I still took milk and sugar and I was disappointed in it. When I tried it plain, I was amazed at how delicious it was. The additions really hurt the tea in my opinion.
Then hubby picked up some from Teavana, and while it smelled just like H&S it lacked the body and satisfying maltiness, and I only enjoyed it as a breakfast tea with milk and sugar.
The question now was…where will Teavivre GM fall in the scale? And that question may not be fully answered until after tea party today!
For this morning, I am making this tea according to Teavivre’s recommendations. They use steeling parameters more common to Asian methods than to western steeping, so their black teas are lighter and more delicate, unlike the rough treatment we barbarians give to our hearty breakfast teas and British legacy teas, to steal a phrase from Michael Harney.
The verdict on this method of brewing: it’s all here! The sweet, smooth liquor with sweet potato flavor and a nice touch of malt is refined, medium-bodied, and smooth. No astringency. With the lower temperature and shorter steep time it is not as strong as my H&S cup made western style would be, but it is delicious nevertheless.
This afternoon I will be making a large pot using western steeping parameters to serve at tea party. I am looking forward to my guest’s and youngest daughter’s reactions and thoughts.
Edited to add: VERY IMPORTANT NOTE! I just looked up both of these teas and Teavivre’s is almost exactly half the price of H&S. This is an important factor to consider if money is an object.
Both are less expensive than Teavana’s, which is my least favorite of the three.
TeaVivre provided me with this sample, but I feel that I cannot properly review it. I brewed this in a gaiwan and rinsed before trying a sip. This is just too strong for my tastes. The scent and taste of the ginseng is what bothers me, I think. I appreciate the diversity of samples provided by this awesome company, but this is unfortunately not my cup of tea.
Angel and Teavivre were very kind to include a sample of this tea in my last sample box that arrived from them! They noticed I had mentioned in one review wanting to try an unflavored since their flavored sample was my first mik oolong.
I had my bestie over today for Japanese Lettuce Wraps. I was really in the mood for some Teavivre Monkey Picked Oolong, but only had enough of my sample left for a small pot. I ordered a full pouch but it hasn’t arrived yet, so I went ahead and made a small pot of Monkey Picked and a bigger pot of this. It is a great opportunity to compare both.
Sniffing both of these made me giddy. The Monkey Picked was just what I was looking forward to – baked, rich aroma and ultra smooth. I sniffed this one and was surprised at the great difference! It smelled so green, so floral, and the baked aroma was very much in the background, not right in front like Monkey Picked.
I sipped this one first and wondered if I was losing my mind. This unflavored milk oolong has more of a milky taste and feel to me than I remember the flavored one having! Oh so smooth, lightly floral, deliciously milky. My guest loved it and drank a lot more tea today than she usually has at my house!
Both of these were excellent teas! We finished both pots, and I am so glad I have a Teavivre order on the way! Thank you, Teavivre, for expanding my horizons and letting me try this, I think between the unflavored and flavored milk oolong, I would buy the unflavored!
I should have made this tea while my daughter was here because I think this one is right up her alley. She likes green tea that makes its presence known, not ultra smooth but rather assertive without being bitter. Perhaps a hint of sourness? Those are the greens she reacts most favorably to.
This is one of those greens that has cocoa or chocolate aromas to me, even when steeped. The taste is making me think of oven roasted root vegetables today. This would be over the top fabulous with a meal I bet. As it is, I have enjoyed it immensely as my after-breakfast-sip-during-yoga tea.
I did not make it by their suggested parameters this time as it was the last of the packet and there s a little less than needed for a pot. I used nearly three teaspoons in 22 ounces of Atwater, 174F, for three minutes.