Recent Tasting Notes


If you’ve kept up with my tasting notes, you know that I am a huge fan of Teavivre Teas. I have yet to be disappointed by any of their products.

If I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be Teavivre’s fabulous Premium Keemun Hao Ya Black Tea. That tea is nothing short of incredibly fantastic, albeit a little pricey. This time, I thought I would save some money and hope that their Grade 1 Keemun selection was good enough to satisfy my Keemun itch.

I love the aroma of the short unbrewed tea leaves. It is a rich, sweet, and earthy smell that seems to belong only to Teavivre’s Keemun.

I steeped the tea at 205 degrees for three minutes as instructed on the packet. The color of the brewed liquor was golden brown.

As I brought the cup to my lips, I could already smell the savory Keemun. The first sip was absolutely delicious. The taste was sweet, earthy, full-bodied, and very smooth. There was no bitterness to be found. Subsequent sips…and cups…were at least equally delightful.

In my opinion, this Grade 1 Keemun is every bit as delicious and satisfying as Teavivre’s Premium Keemun Hao Ya Black Tea. If you are on a budget (as I am), and you love Keemun, take advantage of the great taste and very reasonable price (currently – 10/24/2012 – Teavivre is also offering 20% off!) of the Grade 1 Keemun tea. I am very glad that I did! By the way, if your budget is even more restricted than mine, Teavivre has a Grade 2 Keemun black tea at even greater savings (and also currently – 10/24/2012 – 20% off)!

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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This is again thanks to Angel and the Teavivre crew. smiles

This is a better review than the Lapsang Souchong by a mile! LOL. I had wanted to try a more ‘traditional’ Oolong because I’ve had such limited experience so far, and wanted something to compare teas with an Oolong base to, even teas that have a lot in it. I had a imsomnia filled night so if my wording comes across as odd, that is why. Lack of sleep can make me a little loopy.

1st smell Dry: Sweet and uncomplicated. I can easily picture myself relaxing after a long days work with a cup of this, though long before I go to bed, as the minor caffeine amounts may affect my sleep later that night.
Wet: Even more sweet, and maybe because I was expecting it: Creamy.
1st taste: In reading the reviews for the tea before sipping my cup, I noticed frequent mentions of a buttery taste. Truthfully, the idea kind of repulsed me, even though I have had and do enjoy butter tea. But when I took the 1st sip, without any sweetener, Mmm. Nice. I knew I had to add sweetener….I’m getting resigned to that factor…..lol. So I added one at a time, took a sip so I would make sure not to accidently put to much.
Oh, almost forgot to mention: I do not have any traditional tea items for this, I had thought if I did get to where I really like at least 2 of these samples, then I would start saving up for a nice gaiwan. So instead, I was going to use one of my teapots, but one is ridiculously big, to big for 1 cup, and the other is in the dishwasher. So I used my owl cup and favorite strainer. I put the visual equivalent of what I use for other loose tea, rinsed them, preheated my cup and then boiled more water, and set the top on it. When I took the top off, my 1st thought: (Mind you slightly befuddled due to lack of sleep.) that the leaves had exploded! Then I thought….Ooooo I think I put to many in the cup. So I thought to myself that I’d better do at least 1 more steeping of the leaves, that is if I could stand drinking down the 1st cup.

It isn’t the usual type of tea that I’ve gotten used to, so I don’t think I would choose this one very often. It is sweet, creamy, kind of grassy. I just might decide to buy this in bulk form.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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Thank you Angel and Teavivre for all the wonderful samples! I was so excited when these came in and I ended up being sent a lot more than I expected to receive!

I decided to start my taste testing out with something I have never had before, White Peony. When I opened the package I took a whiff and got didn’t really get anything worth mentioning. It was light and fresh.

Actually after reading the instructions, I just realized that I have been using only 1tsp per 8oz instead of 2-3tsp. OOPS! Regardless, I cannot stop drinking this. I drank 3 12oz cups, and made 2 8oz cups with the same leaves yesterday, and have had 3 12oz cups again today. Though the taste is really light it’s really great. It’s definitely something I could drink at any time of the day. It’s floral, and calming. The leaves are really cute too. Next time I’ll make it with 3tsp instead of just the one, but I’m really loving this as is.

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

Do let us know if there’s any difference when you use 3tsp. If not, it sure sounds like you’re getting a lot of flavour out of just 1tsp! I might stick with it and make the tea last 3x longer. :D

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Time for my green tea after dinner tea plan! Since my white Silver Needle Jasmine tasted better with more leaf, I decided to put in about a teaspoon more leaf than I normally do.

Whoah! It smells green and buttery right from the get-go this time. I don’t even need to get close to my mug to get the yummy buttery smell. I steeped this for two minutes. I am finally getting the butter note that I have missed from my first dragonwell. Then the green tea flavor comes charging in and enveloping my mouth with its wonderful taste. The liquor is still very pale even with the extra leaf. This tea isn’t as astringent as my green jasmine pearls which makes for a lovely bedtime tea.

I think I have been under-leafing my french press recently. I will have to pay attention with my other teas to make sure I am getting the leaf-to-water ratio right and get a new teaspoon for measuring.

2 min, 0 sec

How long did you steep this for? I’m totally thinking about getting it but found that the premium version I need to steep for a minute or less.


I steep it for two minutes and then up the steep time for a minute with each steep. My press holds about two teacups (1 mug) worth and I can get about three steeps out of each bunch if I want.

Is the premium version you have not working out for you? I have to play around with some teas and sometimes my tastebuds change and I have to figure out how I like my teas again.

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Thanks to the Teavivre gang, especially Angel, for these samples.

When I got up today, (Got up really late.) I wanted to start on the tea tasting of the samples I got yesterday. I was most curious about the Lapsang Souchong so that is what I picked.

Dry smell: strongly smokey, not unappealing, but not appealing either.
Wet smell: more or less the same…though the smell reminded me a little bit of hay.
1st taste: Like many Americans, my palate has been affected by the high content of sugar, but I did try a few sips without putting any in, didn’t want to make it to much of a sacrilege. Alas…I knew by the 3rd sip that if I was to be able to finish the cup I would have to add some sweetener, so I added Apriva, (Kroger version, kind of like Splenda.) I ended up having to add ALOT. Which I really winced over, and still wincing as I am writing this. Wincing because I wanted to enjoy this without having to add anything to it.
Even with the sweetener however….can’t say I really like it. sad face this is NOT reflected on Teavivre, but rather on me and my palate. Hopefully this will be the only tea that I dislike from the group.

I will pretty much be reviewing only 1 a day, as I do not want to complicate the taste test with other teas. And hopefully when I get up each day, so that would be the only taste fresh in my mouth.


Don’t feel too bad. Lapsang isn’t for everyone. The smokiness is just too much for me too.

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Gah, I haven’t posted here in such a long time. Midterms and essays, followed by a visit from a good friend whom I hadn’t seen in about a year and a half, followed by getting a cold have been keeping me away from this site. :(

Anyway, I brewed up a cup of this… kind of an odd tea to brew when you’re sick, but I just had a craving for a toasty Oolong. :P

… and I’m going to head back to bed, watch sitcoms, and write. Last day of break, hopefully the worst of this cold will have passed by tomorrow!


You have been missed. Hope your feeling better!

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This is just what I needed as a hot cocoa intervention. I decided to spoil myself and put in more leaf than I normally would. This adds up to about three or four teaspoons. Oh my! It is so good this way! I was only going to do one steep, but I am going to have another steep later before getting my green tea out for after dinner.

Going off the tea topic for a second, wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a Steepster-like site for hot chocolate, drinking chocolate, and brewable cocoa beans? Ok, Steepster for chocolate lovers and choco-holics. I think it would be amazing.

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*Thanks to Angel & Teavivre for this lovely sample!

There are 2 of this adorable mini tuochas in the sample bag. They are wrapped in white paper, and opening one, I find a little birdnest, with a rose petals pressed into the bottom of it. The smell is similar to the other shu puerh’s I’ve tried thus far: earth, mineral, ocean.

I’m brewing the first tuocha americano style, in my cute little glass pot, so I can watch the tea fall apart & swim around, & really see the color. The disintegration is spectacular, with particles almost exploding in all directions! The tea was finely chopped before being tightly compressed, or so it seems, as the pieces are very small.

This made for a very dark & potent cup, & although I was hoping for a little more rose flavor & aroma (as I do like that), it isn’t really there. What is there is a deep, satisfying puerh that brings to mind an old, old forest with ancient trees & layer upon layer of decomposed leaves, acorns, wood, & moss. I have to leave the house for the afternoon, but when I return, I shall re-steep!


I like to watch Puerh unfold too. You must be very visual also.


I have never tired one of the flower touchas! I may have to get a couple.

Terri HarpLady

@Bonnie: I love watching Teas unfold, swim around, & do the crazy things they do! It’s like my own little aquarium show. :)
@Azzrian: I have a few here I’m trying. I got the Rose one, I got a Chrysanthemum one from TeaVivre also. I also have a jasmine tuocha from The Tea Spot that I’m looking forward to trying. I’m sort of thinking it’s more for visual effect. I didn’t really get much of a rose taste, but I’m please to say that when I got home I did my 2nd steeping of it, & it was a very juicy brew! I know it sounds silly to say that a tea was ‘wet’. “Of course it was wet! It’s made of water”, someone might say, but we all know how drying some teas can be, & this steeping was mouth watering, & oh, so smooth!

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Thank you to Angel & Teavivre for this generous sample

These are among the most beautiful tea leaves I’ve seen. Perfectly straight, in shades of olive, wheat, charcoal, & rust. Wet, they swell up lushly, taking on a copper color, with an olive undertone.

The scent is of chocolate & peppercorn, & the flavor satisfies: bold without being bitter, deep & smooth, essence of chocolate, a little spice, & there is the ‘clean’ sensation of linen, but it’s not an astringent type sensation, & it’s not so much a taste either, more a freshness, like sheets drying in the sun on the line. This is the kind of tea I like to start my day with!

I drank the first cup & a half plain, thought I’d add a little stevia to the 2nd half of the 2nd cup, just to see what it brought up, & it ruined it for me. :p

Not so much that I couldn’t polish it off & go for one more steeping, though, & the leaves delivered.


Mmmmmmmm Chocolate and Peppercorn!

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I think this is one of the few Teavivre teas I have ordered that I bought “blind” rather than having already had a sample first.

I really shouldn’t be up, but I am hoping to stay up late enough to get some big news and I have had a brutal day working at early voting. I needed a soul soother tea and picked this one.

This is so light and creamy that it reminds me of drinking white tea. It is smooth, never sour, never bitter. The more I drink the more I want to keep drinking, which is good because I had no lunch today and couldn’t even go get water for the longest time. I am so glad I bought this one.

Tomorrow, I am taking a bottle of matcha water to stay hydrated and keep my energy up, because tonight I am seriously flagging.

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I grabbed this one when I arrived home from work today. I’d been wanting a straight Keemun for a few days now and totally forgot I had this sample! :) This is super smooth and mellow too. Plus unlike previous experience with some Keemun teas not bitter as the cup cools!

2 min, 0 sec

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Thanks to Teavivre for this generous free sample, and apologies for such a slow review!

I used about 2 tsp of tea in 2.5 cups of water for this tea, as I did with the DT version. This version definitely brewed up more quickly and strongly than the other, and even though it had less than half the time to brew, the flavour is quite similar. The biggest difference I’m noticing between them is in terms of sweetness; this tea is noticeably sweeter, and the sweetness emerges prior to swallowing, so is not just in the aftertaste. Other than that, both have a sweet, slightly seaweedy aroma, and the flavour of crispy fried seaweed, which is kind of toasty/seaweedy/delicious. Very interesting! After a bit of thought, the flavour could be described as quite “buttery”, which is how the fried seaweed comes off because of all the oil present. It’s tough to say which tea I’d prefer; I imagine that Teavivre’s has greater longevity, so if I was to purchase this again, that would probably be my choice, although I doubt I’ll pick this one up again of my own accord.

Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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Been busy all weekend, so I have had no time to try any tea and it has been driving me crazy! So now that I finally have time I decided to make this up from the sample bag that Teavivre.

The dry smell is very pleasant, which was surprising to me for some reason. It’s probably because the last Pu-erh I had was very fishy. The wet smell is very interesting as it smells kind of spicy like chili peppers or cooked green peppers. The color of the liquid is interesting as well since it is kind of a copper color similar to Oolong tea or a light black tea. The taste is a little oily in the mouth with a nice plum flavor. I sort of like it, it’s interesting.

Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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Fifty Shades of Oolong…

Lazy sunday afternoon….

Yes, so I am finally reading Fifty Shades of Grey… I resisted all summer long, being constantly hassled by friends: «Oh, you MUST read it, Oh Christian Grey this, Oh Christian Grey that!», I’m telling you, a bunch of puberty high school girls! (giggles)
To the point that I thought for sure this book was overrated, too much fuss and publicity surrounding it.

I was kind of suspicious of an author made famous instantly for writing a few hot and steamy sessions. But my curiosity got the best of me, and I caved in! I will admit that Mr.Grey has something on the collective fantasy world of women… Not highly intellectual literature, but hey, can a girl have some pure entertainment readings once in a while?

So I thought I’d pair this book with a «hot» tea, something sexy of course…

Mmm, some Ginseng love potion?

My first ginseng tea ever…I ordered 100g strictly based on *Roughage*’s review, he had mentioned he could taste Fisherman’s Friend cough drops. I adore them and thought it would be wonderful to find a similar taste in a beverage.

Dark bluish green little nuggets, how unusually shaped they are! I am so curious about them… I brewed the tea in my glass pot in order to watch the leaves doing their dance. 90 sec. They barely opened up, they are rolled very tightly. The infusion turned slightly green, darker than most oolong.

The aroma is definitely oolong, with a twist of…je ne sais quoi…

The taste:

Miaow…This is really fifty shades of flavour! How can I describe it?

I understand the cough drop reference, some kind of eucalyptus freshness surfing in my mouth and tingling my tongue, coating and warming my throat along with the buttery taste of oolong.

It also reminds me of some vintage candy my grandma used to give us, in french, they were called «Boules Noires» (doesn’t translate so well in english, but if you want to know, there you have it: Black Balls)

That’s exactly what they were, little black balls, hard as a rock and as you’d let them melt in your mouth, they would change colours… Lots of fun and very tasty! As I remember, they had a sweet liquorice fresh menthol feel to them and this tea is very reminiscent of that. I am really enjoying this.

Second steep and the leaves are on their way to unfurl, but not completely yet. I know some of you mentioned that the ginseng powder was pretty much gone after first steep, but I still get quite a bit of that flavour. It is more subtle though, and the oolong is more present. This oolong is very buttery, in a baked cookie kind of way.

I don’t know how many infusions I will get out of it, but this is what I’m having for the rest of the day!

It was the perfect choice to pair with what I’m reading at the moment… just like the book, it made me blush a little :-)


never heard about these famous boules noires in France. We had “boules magiques” an awful enormous hard candy with several flavor layers and, in its middle, to finish a chewing gum.
I wonder how these boules magiques didn’t manage to eradicate all French teenagers by suffocation …it was really a huge ball…

The tea seems amazing (not sure for the book…but Frenchs have Le marquis de Sade !)


@ysaurella: Oh, we had those awful «jawbreakers» here too, that’s what they were called «casse gueules»! that’s literally what they were! And for the book, I know it just came out in french, it is called Cinquante Nuances de Grey, but I’m reading the english version. I’d say not quite as twisted and tormented as the original Le Marquis de Sade! More of a romantic version :-)


Fifty shades of Grey = Twilight fanfiction with character name changes. Really. Someone found her original work and put it into one of the websites that can find plagarism, compared it to the book and it was a 95% match to the original. So. Bad.


@momo: I know I am also one the last woman on earth not having read the twilight series so I’m afraid I can’t compare…But if it is 95% of the same, than I don’t understand the big fuss about twilight either! However, I still find it somewhat entertaining :-)

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I got this in a swap with Queen of Tarts and I’m still trying to figure out how to make it work for me. Right now I’ve found the tea works best on the lowest temperature setting on my kettle (below the green). I’ve also found I have to steep my tea a minute or under or else it gets too bitter too quickly.

But I’m still trying to figure out the ideal leaf for 8 oz of water. Teavivre says 7g which seems awfully high! I’ve been using 4-ish which isn’t bad. I don’t know. I want to make sure I’m getting the most out of it.

What have everyone else’s experiences been with this tea?


I love this tea! My favourite way of brewing it is Verdant style. I’ve learned a lot from them on how to brew and the tall tempered glass method is my favorite for pretty much all green teas now. Look at their videos, very insightful!



Oooh, thanks for the tip. :)

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My first normal tea in a while!

The smell is smokey, sweet, kind of like chocolate. I initially get a muskiness as I drink, but it turns into something mineral and juicy, then a pleasant sweet smokiness in the back of my throat. The astringency seems to hit kind of randomly for me – I think this may actually be my first tea that has it/that I’ve tasted it in. I had no idea it was more of a physical sensation than a taste, but I looked it up just now to account for the sourness I kept feeling. It goes pretty well with the flavors in this!

On the second steep, it’s started to get the floralness to it that I saw mentioned in other reviews, and has much less bite. Definitely smoothing out by the third and fourth cups.

Boiling 2 min, 45 sec

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I have been craving Dragonwell so much lately. I’m going to blame a work test (100% aw yissss) so I came home last night and made myself a pot. And of course when I wanted to write the note, Steepster was misbehaving with the kettle so I completely forgot until now (blame a nap followed by the creation of these https://www.etsy.com/listing/112616805/candy-corn-white-chocolate-bark-set-of-2)

I only steeped it for a minute and I really wish I had for longer :( but that is okay, it was still tasty. I hadn’t had this in so long that when I’m describing it as chestnut in writing I realized I really didn’t remember what that actually tasted like. Still came through even with the lighter steep. There are definitely mineral notes too.

I need to get through this one and then also try the Dragonwell I bought for cheap at the international supermarket. I have a feeling this one will win out though, just in color alone it’s superior. And given I’ve had this for months now, that’s saying something I think.


I’m having issues with this one. When I steep it past a minute it’s very astringent. I didn’t think it would be that bad..

Whispering Pines Tea Company

I always steep Dragon Well at 1 minute for the first infusion and add 20 seconds to each after that. They do seem to get astringent past 1 minute.

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I finally got around to sampling this from Teavivre. Sorry it took me so ling. :( this tea is just lovely to look at. It’s cute and furry. I almost felt like I was drowning little fuzzy animals in hot water as I brewed my cup. :( fortunately its just dried leaves I’m drowning! Delicious dried leaves!

The tea is light yellow smells softly floral and tender green grass. Like a perfect spring day. It’s good to remind oneself such days exist on miserable rainy cold days like this one. I’m also getting some summer squash. Second steep went a bit too long but there’s no bitterness. This tea is truly lovely. If teas belonged to a season, this would go with spring. Drinking this tea now is like having a perfect summer tomato in the middle of winter. This tea is out of its rightful time. To get the proper feel of fall, I’ll have to drink some darker oolongs later. :)

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This is definitely the tea I wanted this morning! Normally, I get up and have to ponder and sniff and deliberate before I find a tea that I am in the mood for. Today, my palate said “That one” without even having to start that process.

This tea is just so pleasant and chocolatey. It’s a little chilly in my house this morning (outside it’s in the 50s, which is a very nice surprise, considering where I live), and this beautiful black tea warms me from head to toe. I decided to have some bacon to go with it, which may have been a mistake, since it was peppered bacon and the pepper is kind of taking over my mouth right now… but it’ll pass, because bacon doesn’t last long in front of me. I decided to add some honey and cream to the tea(I know, it’s a Chinese tea, I just really like my black teas British style… sue me). It’s very malty and like drinking very high quality semi-dark chocolate… which is making me want to go to World Market and get some. Might have to make a stop there today sometime…

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 15 sec

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THE LAST OF MY TEAVIVRE SAMPLES AND UM. WOW. WOW THIS IS THE MOST AMAZING BLACK TEA. I don’t think I ever expected myself to rate an unflavored black tea this high, especially without adding more things to it as well. I usually always doctor up my black teas with sugar and/or milk because they’re just too strong and sometimes bitter but WOW NOT THIS ONE! I didn’t have to add anything!

It SMELLED sweet at first! And the leaves looked so cute and curly, I don’t have any other tea that looks quite like this. When I went to take my first sip I was PREPARED FOR HEAVY BITTER BLACK TEA TASTE but then it… SURPRISINGLYWAS NOT! It was rich but not bitter at all, very sweet, kinda reminiscent of hazelnuts! I saw some people mention sweet potatoes as well and YES I think that describes it perfectly! A bit malty, ever so slightly butterscotch-y… what a great black tea, dang!

Many thanks again to Teavivre for these wonderful samples! I’m pretty much sold; most definitely want to buy some in the future!

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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Oh my, I am so full of tea tonight. We made four steeps of this tonight. Delicious and chocolate-y as always. I think we tried four different teas tonight. Oof.

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