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Recent Tasting Notes
I am using my last sample of this excellent pu-erh from Tea Vivre. I got it as part of the Pu-erh sample assortment. My initial tasting notes from last summer indicated at least 9 steeps which I enjoyed hot, at room temp, and cold. Nice and earthy, and especially good with a little stevia. Today, I had 7 gms which I rinsed twice to open up the leaves, then steeped in 6 oz boiling water at 30, 60, 120, etc. I haven’t had pu-erh in awhile, but wanted to share this with my son while he is home from school. It really hits the spot, and I highly recommend it, especially if you haven’t had pu-erh before. There is no fishiness, and I think it is a great example of what a good ripened pu-ehr is like. The Teavivre site shows low quantities of this. If you haven’t dealt with Teavivre before, I can recommend them as a company that provides excellent service and they offer free samples with your order.
Great tea, always in my cupboard.
A huge thank you to Angel from Teavivre for this sample.
The last fruit tea from Teavivre that I had was blueberry and I enjoyed it very much so I have high hopes for their apple tea. Apple is funny with me and I have to be in the right mood for it, I think it’s because my husband loves apple juice so I always have to buy some for him and I’m an orange juice kinda gal.
It’s a long 9 minute steep for this fruit tea so I helped myself to a piece of apple in the raw mixture and it was very fresh and scrumptiously good.
The tea once brewed is reddy/purple in colour with only a subtle apple/fruit fragrance. Whoops I burnt my lip trying to taste it’s fruity essence too eagerly :( Waiting a few minutes before sipping again I can taste mixed fruit of which apple is the background ingredient behind what tastes like rosehip. It’s very sweet but it tastes naturally so and it’s also a little sour, sort of like apple candy/sweets.
It’s a very nice subtle apple tea and it is refreshing and clean tasting. The downside for me is that I would prefer if it was a little stronger with the apple and a little less rosehip. I bet this would make a delicious iced tea.
Thanks Teavivre for the sample!
Can I just say that these are super cute? For whatever reason I think these pearls are just precious. The thing is, I generally don’t like straight black teas (other than pu’erh) so this is a big step in a different direction for me.
I’m surprised how light this brewed! It is a very light, almost clear broth color. This smells very hay-like. The tea is pretty thin compared to other blacks I’ve had. I think I know why blacks are strange for me: they’re kind of meaty. This mostly has meaty, hay notes. It’s not a great tea for me, but I’m pretty sure a lot of people would really love this one!
Thanks to Angel and Teavivre for this sample!
I really wanted to love this one, but it’s just not happening. I mean, it’s nice to sip on when I’m not thinking about it, but it’s not the delicious tieguanyin I’m used to. I understand this is a Taiwan version, but I’ve had jin xuans that taste more like tieguanyin than this tea. This tastes much more like mao xie (hairy crab) oolong than tieguanyin, actually. The sweet, potent florals of tieguanyin are pretty dull in this tea, and the added roasting just adds awkward charcoal flavors that make the taste seem unbalanced and somewhat stale. It’s really strong for the first couple steeps, too. I have to make the wash extra long just so I don’t have overbearing burnt barley and metallic flavors in the first steep.
The leaves and liquor have aromas that smell like roasted wheat and unripe fruits, mixed with some cooked vegetables and lots of grass. Actually, most of the steeps have a very grassy profile. Into the later steeps, things improve a bit with notes of asparagus and genmaicha, finally landing on some really vegetal qualities of tiequanyin. There isn’t much sweetness to this one, which seems to contribute a great deal to the unbalance of flavors. There are a few faint traces of melon, as well, and after sneaking a few peaks at some reviews of this tea, I agree with KS about the aftertaste seeming a bit like watermelon rinds. It’s interesting, but not the most satisfying.
The mouthfeel is common and uninteresting. It typically gets a bit creamy and slightly juicy during middle steeps, but it isn’t anything extraordinary. Most of the steeps end up being a bit dry.
Overall, this one is just “okay” to me. Nothing jumped out at me and the unbalance of flavors really threw things askew. I dunno, it just did not match up to all the other oolongs that I have tried.
Based on the conversation with KS below, I tried this again with a method closer to the suggested style: 4g per 100mL at boiling, wash, 25",35",45". I’m not sure if it’s that much better, but it is different. I’m also not sure which I prefer, flavor-wise. There are definitely some new blends of flavors. There are more fruity nuances, it’s surprisingly sweeter, and isn’t as bitter as I was expecting for such a high leaf to water ratio. It certainly is more bitter this way, however. With these added dimensions, it feels a bit more balanced, but the body becomes more monotonous. I still can’t get past the charcoal flavors, which are even more potent. Now that this is more severe with this session, I’m now recalling that every time I’ve tried this tea, it’s given me a headache. :/ Sigh, this just isn’t happening, folks.
So, I have had this for a really long time and I’m just now getting around to trying it. Sample provided very generously by Teavivre!
Steep notes: 3-4 tsp. leaf to 500 ml. water in my Breville at below parameters.
I really wanted a black tea tonight but for some reason I didn’t have any in my cupboard. I mean, I did, East Frissy and David’s Breakfast blend are in there, but I wanted something…not breakfasty? I don’t know. I’m fickle, it’s cold and rainy and windy and I wanted some warm, no frills (no dessert!) tea.
So in this one went. The dry leaf had almost a malty smell to it, which is a characteristic I normally find in Assams and which made me very happy. Dry leaf looked like long spindly blades of grass.
The steeped liquor is a yellow green and has a vague buttery scent. Taste wise, I get buttery and nutty. The nutty flavor especially lingers as an aftertaste. It’s very smooth, though, and slightly (pleasantly) astringent.
I like this – it’s a very delicate flavor that would go well with dinner, as I find most green teas do. It works well for night when you just really don’t want anything heavy.
Many thanks to Teavivre for this sample!
The dry leaf of this smells very similar to the Xiaguan toucha I was drinking earlier. I prepared this tea per Teavivre’s instructions of ~1 min. steep times. Pouring this tea was really interesting! I noticed that at first the water was very russet/copper colored and then ended with very deep browns and reds. I guess I never paid attention to that before.
This pu’erh has a distinct hay and bread like quality. There is some sweetness, but it is at the back end of the sip. It also kind of reminds me of cream of wheat for some reason; so farina like. Something about drinking this makes me think that it’d pair well with almonds and crystallized aged gouda cheese bits. I think that the mouth feel of this reminds me a bit of almond skins and that’s where I’m getting this. That sounds really weird when I write it down! Overall this is really easy to make and it is a great pu’erh for newbies like me.
I’m watching a generic Christmas film and I got the sudden urge to drink a gaiwan of black tea. So my hand goes into my large bag of Teavivre samples and I pulled this one out. My husband is having his work party tonight so I am on my own all day :(
The tea is made with small leaves that have been thinly rolled and dried. They have a dry earthy smell.
Gaiwan 3oz Tea:7g 6 steeps: rinse,15s,25s,45s,1m10s,1m30s,2m 90ºC/194ºF
Steep one – 15 seconds
The tea soup is honeyed brown in colour with a sweet, earthy and slightly floral tone. It does taste sweet and malty to my delight with no bitterness and of fair strength.
Steep two – 25 seconds
I’m starting to pick up a musky deep fragrance now. Malty and sweet still and very rich but still smooth.
Steep three – 45 seconds
Increasing in strength and becoming maltier and very thick and earthy.
Steep four – 1 minute 10 seconds
The colour reminds me of pu erh as it has that brown/red glow. Very sweet …reminds me of marmite a little.
Steep five – 1 minute 30 seconds
This has weakened somewhat and has increased it’s floral flavour again, it’s like jasmine but earthier.
Steep six – 2 minutes
No malt or richness to speak of anymore but it’s still sweet and floral.
I love Yunnan tea’s and straight away I could tell that this was one of them. It has the lovely strong, malty trademark that Yunnan’s usually have which is a pure bonus. On the most part it was rich and smooth but very balanced and clean.
Admittedly not one of my favourite Yunnan’s as the smell is a little too musky for my liking but it was a pleasant and smooth drink. It’s amazing to think that such small leaves can create such large flavour and aroma.
This is my last sample from Angel at Teavivre, and it is a good one!
The dry leaves are beautiful. Long and slender with lots of warm yellows mixed in among the black. As soon as the tea started stepping I knew there would be no need for sugar. The honey fragrance is strong. Not overwhelming, but very easy to pick up. And the taste… yum. It’s malty, sweet, and velvety. This is good. I mean really, really good. I don’t usually stick with one tea all day, but I can easily see myself steadily sipping on this while I get an order finished and in the mail today.
Okay, finally trying my puerh sample from Teavivre. Thank you Angel! I have only encountered puerh a few times before and I didn’t like it – the aroma was always fishy and I couldn’t get over it. I understand that to mean that the puerh was of low quality and lately I’ve been wanting to try some better stuff, so here I am. I also have one from Peony Tea that I hope to try soon. The tuocha (henceforth to be known as the bird’s nest) is adorable and has an aroma that reminds me of hamster cages – not pee or poo but sawdust and maybe the grains that I used to feed Jake. (We had a hamster who died a few years ago, he has a very fond place in my heart. The smell of this actually makes me miss him).
I did a thirty second rinse to awaken the leaves, and hopefully rinse away anything that I might find particularly yucky. :) Surprisingly, the bird’s nest basically crumbled. My gaiwan is full of small pieces of tea leaves, it almost looks like ground coffee. I didn’t really expect that.
First official steep went for 1 minute and yielded a DARK liquor. It truly puts me in mind of coffee, that is not something I’ve had in tea before. I am predominantly a black tea drinker and puerh seemed like the next step for me. My tea pet (a pair of feet) are getting a really good bath today! Anyway, the first steep smells like a barn to me, old wet wood and damp hay/sawdust. It smells like cows and horses coming in from the rain with damp hides – while this description may sound unappealing, there is something comforting about it too. I don’t necessarily want to drink it, but the aroma is very familiar. There is no fish at all, but just damp nature – wood, earth, animals, cloth. Interesting. The taste matches the smell astonishingly closely. Still no fish, but strong earthiness, very natural and organic. Strong without being bitter, and not like any tea I have had before. I like this, but it’s way out of my comfort zone. It doesn’t even taste like tea as I know it. I would like a bit of sweetness here, a honey note to offset the earthiness. I don’t even know if puerh HAS honey notes!
Second steep went for 1.5 minutes, yielding an even darker brew than the first time. it’s almost black! Are we sure this isn’t coffee? The leaves are so small that a bunch escaped the lid of my gaiwan. It may be silly, but I hate leaves in my cup. The aroma this time is very similar than the first. Initially it seemed a bit muted but then I got a strong hit of leather, like I’m in a shop filled with freshly worked boots. While I LOVE the smell of leather (I was a biker baby, I had leather jacket, chaps, all that good stuff) I feel a little weird about drinking it. Bravely, I persevere and am rewarded with a better brew than before. The taste is very similar to the first steep but more palatable. The edga has been taken off the earthiness and I am getting something more like the tea I know and love. There is some sweetness here that I appreciate, though there is also a hint of bitterness. It’s strange that both of those notes can be present where they weren’t before. I’ll finish this one quickly, I fear it may be becoming bitter because of the leaves that slipped into my cup. I almost expect a bit of spice, cinnamon or nutmeg but I get nothing like that. This remains very organic, tasting entirely of the earth. This is definitely better than the first, for me.
Third steep went for 2.5 minutes (whoops!) and yielded a much lighter cup. This time I am enjoying a deep amber. maybe the extra time was a wise accident. The aroma has gone back to hamster cage, wet sawdust and maybe even garden mulch. As I’ve said before, very earthy. The taste is a muted version of the aroma, no bitterness but not any sweetness either. I think I am getting close to the end of my run with this bird’s nest. The beau says this one is by far the best, while I am not sure. The boldness of the second steep was remarkable, but this one comes across as drinkable. I am starting to get a cumulative hint of bitterness which is clouding my judgment of this one.
I’m going for a fourth steep of 3 minutes. I’m too lazy to get up and re-heat the water so it has probably cooled quite a bit at this point, but the extra time seems to balance that out. This liquor is considerably lighter than the others and has very little aroma. There is a whiff of barn animals, but that’s about it. The flavour is similarly weakened. I’ve reached the end, I think. I do prefer my pu a little lighter (for now) so the second and third steeps were the best for me, but they were all enjoyable.
All in all, puerh is definitely not an everyday tea for me, but this bird’s nest has taken away a lot of my fear. There is hope for me in the world of pu! : ) As for the rating, since I have little experience with puerh, I will just go with how drinkable it is for me and perhaps adjust up or down as I try more. Since previous puerh blends were undrinkable for me, this rating is actually really high!
Thank you Angel for this generous sample. :)
I’m in a fruity mood today during my lazy Saturday afternoon and I’m hoping that this will quench my fruit thirst.
The tea itself smells sweet and fruity in a way that reminds me of jelly babies. Yum Yum. The hardest part is to leave this brewing for the whole 9 minutes. The tea soup is a very dark purple in colour with a berry fragrance.
The tea itself is heavy berry without being too tart and fruity whilst remaining quite light and refreshing. Usually with fruit tea’s I am reminded of cordial with hot water but this tea is different, the fruit tastes natural which brings that fresh and slightly sweet characteristics alive. It picks up strength a little the more I drink but it still remains with the same balance of flavours.
Overall I think this is surprisingly tasty and pleasing. I would recommend this tea to any fan of Teavivre or fruit tea, perhaps even to someone who just wants to wash their pallet between other tea steeps.
I got this tea and my colleagues were all super excited about trying it out. I mean, who wouldn’t want to get a taste of some Da Hong Pao, the tea of the imperial courts which cured an emperor?
With that expectation, this tea fell flat – don’t get me wrong, the tea was not bad. It just wasn’t great. The liquor was a bright reddish, and the taste was earthly and mellow. The aftertaste was not sweet and very mild.
Brewed gongfu style in yixing pot. Brew times: 30s, 1m, 2m, 3m.
Just a few brief thoughts, as I sadly ran out of this tea. This was part of a large sampler purchase from Teavivre. We are making our way through our selections. I must say this tea stands out. It is tastes almost honey-like with a dark coppery look to it. Delicious through at least two steeps. Needs no sweetener but is very good with a little honey. So good my husband pilfered into my sample!! We will certainly be buying this tea, likely in bulk. My new favorite black.
This tea was a sample from Teavivre that I have taken forever to get around to. :( I did make this tea once with a scoop of spearmint, but I didn’t feel it would be fair to rate this without trying it first on it’s own. Firstly, it did mix very well with the mint. Sweet and refreshing with a vegetal and malty background.
The tea on it’s own tastes very good as well. I love the shiny little pellets of dry leaf. It reminds me a bit of how green oolong looks, only oolongs aren’t usually so shiny. The brewed liquor is a bit darker than other green teas I’m used to. Darker than some oolongs even. The taste is sweet and slightly toasty. To be honest, it’s not a very memorable flavor. The quality is, as always, top notch. This is exactly what a gunpowder tea should be, but not the tea itself is not extraordinary or unique. I do love that it is smooth and without a hint of astringency. I think I will probably continue to add mint to this tea.
On an unrelated note, holiday cookies are making me fat. It doesn’t help that it’s so cold I don’t feel like going out to run lately. argh.
I generally turn up my nose at the bitter and nondescript jasmine tea served at Chinese restaurants, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this tea. I opened the pouch and was immediately greeted by the potent perfume of sweet jasmine blossoms. The floral scent is no less striking when steeping and drinking the tea. The jasmine flavour does not overwhelm the palate, not even after a few cups. The tea is neither bitter nor astringent, but sweetly perfumed. It is truly a bouquet in a cup. The second steeping is lighter, but still decidedly jasmine. This is the finest jasmine tea I have ever tried.
Brewed gongfu style in a yixing pot.
Brew times: 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 1m, 2m, 3m
Dark brown liquor with a tint of golden. The aroma is gently earthly, but the taste is smooth and sweet aftertaste. I have not drank much loose pu-erh yet, but I do find the taste to be more mellow than pu-erh in cake form. Overall, I enjoyed this tea, but I am left wanting a more robust flavor towards the later steepings.
Thank you Angel of Teavivre for this sample.
I admit I was wary to try this tea. It is one of those teas that people either love or hate, and I wasn’t sure where I’d fall in the mix. Turns out I am a fan. There is a wonderful smokiness that is present in smell and taste, but it does not dominate the tea. There are also sweet notes (honey maybe?) and hints of fruit. Wow, this it’s really good!
This is the fourth Teavivre sample I’ve tried, and I can see myself purchasing each one. I can’t say this makes me sad. :)
I got hooked on the Black Dragon Pearl from Teavana. It is actually one of my top 3 teas. I decided to try it from Teavivre since it is much more cost effective and the description is exactly the same. As soon as I opened it up I noticed the scent was a bit different. Visually the Teavivre and Teavana pearls look exactly the same so I figured it might be still taste the same. But no.
I really didn’t get much of the earthy malty flavor that I loved in the Teavana version. I tried so many different variations but I could not get it to taste anything close. The earthiness in the Teavivre brand tasted slightly pu’erish (very slightly) and I don’t like pu’er teas.
I gave up on comparing it to the Teavana version and just tried to enjoy it for what it was but it didn’t do anything for me. Now I have 3.5 ounces of tea to get rid of.
THANKS TO ANGEL FOR THIS SAMPLE…THEY ARE GREATLY APPRECIATED
These are beautiful leaves and so aromatic. This tea is extremely satisfying even before the first sip. It may sound a bit geeky, but to watch these vibrant green leaves open up and release an undeniably beautiful aroma could be considered a transcendent experience.
The somewhat grassy dry aroma, when awakened, blossoms into a very green, asparagus-like aroma mixed with floral overtones. A very enticing lt. green liquor also emits a slight evergreen scent.
This lightly oxidized oolong possesses a delicate taste that is pleasing and noteworthy enough even to someone (me) who usually demands and enjoys the big, bold tastes of shu puer. The taste has the complexity most will enjoy. Green beany, asparagusy vegetal predominate, but there are a host of others which I am unable to concisely identify. Nonetheless, multiple flavors abound in this cup.
Obviously, this is a high quality tea,possessing attributes typical of many good Taiwan oolongs. This tea has a very clean, pleasant throat. A subtle throat belonging to a subtle tea. One shouldn’t expect more.
My only regret regarding this oolong is that I exhausted the leaves when I could have drunk more.
This is a very nice, complete oolong with no obvious flaws.
It’s a really hot day here in New Zealand (being summer and all), so was in the mood for something refreshing. Upon opening the packet I wondered if this was going to make my mouth pucker when steeped, as it smells quite tart. I was definitely wrong however. When steeping this smells absolutely gorgeous! Very similar scent to when I make berry syrup oddly enough.
8 minutes – Ooh, this is quite nice. Not what I expected, but in a good way. It’s on the far end of light, moving towards medium strength at this stage, so I figured I’d let this one steep longer.
10 minutes – Very good, but now I’m interested in seeing how strong this will go before compromising the flavour – which is SO good! Not the most logical thought process for a tisane, but the man likes his flavor hits and I’ll be making an iced version at the same time.
16 minutes – Better and better. It’s now reminding me of a refreshing juice, but really hot obviously.
23 minutes – This is where I decided to stop, but I reckon that you could easily go for much longer and not have the tartness develop too much. Excellent blending by Teavivre. The flavour overall is an interesting one. It doesn’t scream apple, but there is a strong apple aftertaste. I definately get the lemon and verbena. I’ve never tried roselle before, but assuming that is the bulk of what I’m tasting, it’s lovely. Kind of berry-ish, but not. Hard to explain. The rosehip note has come out more and more the longer it’s steeped.
I tried this cold in three different ways;
Straight – Much more tart when cold (this is probably a “thing”, but I’m new to iced teas). Still refreshing, but I prefer it sweetened when cold.
Sweetened with sugar – Yum. I can tell this will be the man’s favorite.
Sweetened with honey – Yum! The honey I used has a very distinctive flavor (a native called Manuka) but they go together really well.
On the whole, hot or cold, this is an excellent fruit tea! I will definitely be including this in my next Teavivre order, and am curious about their other ones.
This is a very pleasant puer!!! It seems I have been drinking almost exclusively puer lately. This is probably due to the fact that my dear wife’s stomach is acting up and Puer is the only tea she can drink. The Chinese attribute a lot of health benefits to Puer, and in a culture where, “food is medicine”, puer does seem like a very healthy drink. If even half of its attributed benefits are true, I should live be ~178.
Anyway, I’m rambling…onto the tea
Usually one can describe puer specifically, and tea generally in associative terms, i.e. leathery, nutty etc. This puer, however, is a little different. Both the aroma and the taste don’t necessarily have noteworthy associations. Rather, this tea is pure, clean, whole, complete. I’m really enjoying this! It is soooo smooth and crisp, not like tea at all.
I normally steep puer short, from 5-15 sec. After several short steeps (all enjoyable cups), I decided to let it steep for 90 secs to see what would happen. I was yet again rewarded with a smooth, subtle and wholesome cup.
I enthusiastically recommend this tea. Not because of its complex flavors, but because of its complex nature.