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Recent Tasting Notes
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.
This is still part of the free sample sent by Angel and Teavivre. Thank you!
After lunch today, I swallowed and winced. Uh-oh! What is happening? A sore throat? And I have a voice student coming in an hour!
I cast about ideas for about two seconds when the lightbulb popped on. Make a pot of tea! I liked this one last time, and I just got an email from a friend requesting that I recommend some green teas for her cupboard since she is a converted coffee drinker who mostly has black and puerh tea now.
The dry leaves pulled a fast one on me. I remembered how good they smelled the first time, so I gave a big sniff to the pouch before pinching out my leaves. What is this? CHOCOLATE? I must be wrong. Sniff again. No, this smells very strongly of chocolate now! I guess I need to check the pouch again and make sure there is a bit of chocolate from someone’s hands (who would do that?) on the pouch but I swear I didn’t see any!
I used more leaf this time as I felt my last brew was a little weak. The leaves are so very long and thin that a teaspoon is pretty useless for measuring it. I think I got it right this time because my pot was fantastic. Smooth, buttery, vegetal but not grassy, and a little nutty. Maybe the chocolate scent manifests as a nutty taste? Very good tea, my throat is a little better, and I definitely plan to resteep this and have another pot tonight!
Thank you, Teavivre!
Since it has happened four times, I guess I can say it is now a Friday night tradition for hubby and me to go to the Chinese buffet. While I was there tonight, many of the food aromas were evoking memories of green and oolong teas I have had. It really makes me wish they had good tea there, and not just plain old bags of Lipton black tea!
At least I have great tea waiting for me when I get home! This particular one is a free sample provided for review by Angel and Teavivre. Thank you!
When I cut open the pouch, a wonderfully fresh spinach aroma rushed out to greet me. The leaves are very dark and so long and thin and twisted! I used what I thought was about eight grams for my teapot, but I may have misjudged. I used their recommended 194F for my water and gave it a 1 1/2 minute steep to hit a happy medium.
The liquor has a light body and light but somewhat lingering flavor. It is buttery, vegetal, and a little nutty. It is smooth and I don’t detect any sourness. This was very good, but a little more subtle than I was looking for tonight. The meal really needed something with a little more OOMPH to follow it up. I think next time I will actually weigh the leaves or make it in a gaiwan for better control.
Edited to add: the flavor became stronger as it cooled, with no increase in astringency and no sourness. So this would be a great sipper!
Thank you, Angel and Teavivre!
This tea was a wonderful way to start the day. With most Keemuns I tend to use a bit more leaf and I increase the steep time to about 5 or 6 minutes. I could smell the fragrance. A beautiful aroma. The flavor was so smooth with hints of chocolate and whole grain fresh baked bread. The best part was the lingering taste in my mouth long after I stopped drinking. Sublime. Well worth adding to your tea collection….
Alas! I am out of this one! I think this means I am now officially out of ALL Keemun tea, which means an order is in order. I just placed a Teavivre order but didn’t realize I was so low on this one and didn’t get more. I am considering placing an order for several of their Keemun teas to try side by side.
I served this with Chinese Marbled Tea Eggs and they were delicious. The flavor was much more subtle than I expected, but the great thing is that you don’t need to salt your eggs at all even with the subtle flavor. And they are beautiful! My guest loves eggs so they were a hit with her. I used fresh eggs from my fluffy ladies who live in my backyard. :)
This is a classic Keemun, more wine than smoke, gentler than many and smooth, needing no additions.
Oh horrors. I am nearly out of this. Oh well, I guess I will have to place another Teavivre order! :)
I made a pot of this early today to have with a cherry vanilla bagel, and to share with my future SIL. I could be wrong, but I think he used to drink the type of breakfast teas that really need milk and sugar. From what my daughter says, he drank EVERY kind of tea, including herbals. I didn’t know if he would like a black tea that didn’t actually NEED milk and sugar, but he seemed to enjoy this a lot. I made two steeps of it and we finished it all.
This is a definite reorder. When I want a Keemun, this one is very civilized and flavorful.
Today was tea party day! My best friend had brought some lovely organic peaches yesterday, and since I know my weekly guest loves peaches and loves my home made ice cream, I decided to make a cobbler and vanilla ice cream. We needed a special tea time since she won’t be here next week!
When I serve something sweet like that, I like to serve an unflavored black or roasted oolong tea that will contrast and complement the food. This was brilliant with the sweet foods we were eating.
I continued my experiments with it, raising the temperature to 203F instead of the recommended 195F to give it some gumption, since it is so very refined. I steeped it for about three minutes and I must say it was a delightful pairing. This was the first time I picked up strong notes of unsweetened dark coca powder. Love it!
The next two teas were chosen because of the sweets but intended to be served after. We had Teavivre’s Oriental Beauty to sample the natural peach-y notes caused by the leaf hoppers, and then we had a full on peach flavored tea from Harney and Sons, to see the difference between natural notes and flavors compared with added flavors.
This is the very last of a sample sent for review by Teavivre. Thank you, Angel!
I wanted a good black tea after breakfast today and I wanted something that would go well with some Cinnamon Hazelnut Biscotti Babies that my bestie gave me in a Harney and Sons gift set for Christmas. I really wanted a Keemun but I am almost completely out of Keemuns (gasp!) and thought I would finish this sample.
Sitting here also makes me count my blessings. I am drinking tea that was a gift, eating biscotti that was a gift, and my pot is sitting on a warmer that was a gift, looking at a card by GMathis that was an unexpected surprise bearing a gift of great tea inside!
This is definitely good black tea. I went just over three minutes on steeping even though the directions recommend one to two minutes. They do say to steep longer if you like your tea stronger, I find that hong cha is typically drunk much lighter in Asia than westerners are accustomed to. Indeed, this wasn’t hurt a bit by the extra time, and could have gone longer.
It is everything I needed for it to be this morning. Smooth, fruity, sweetly honeyed. And it does pair nicely with my biscotti! It is mild for a breakfast tea, but I don’t use my breakfast tea that way usually anyway. I drink tea after breakfast.
A friend called this morning on her way to Raleigh and said she needed some Teavivre tea, and were they located in Raleigh? I told her no, they were in China, but if she needed tea I would order it for her. LOL! So now I need to make a decision on which Keemun to buy for my cupboard. This is the only Teavivre one I have had, so I will glance back at Missy and Dylan’s comparisons of all the Teavivre Keemuns and try to make a decision!
I don’t own this Keemun….yet….but the way my guest loved it today I may need to put it on my shopping list. I would love to try ALL of the Teavivre Keemuns!
This particular one is mild and smooth, with a silky, almost cedar fragrance. There are hints of sweet potato and a little molasses or honey perhaps. It reminds me a lot of Golden Monkey. This was my guest’s hands down favorite.
I think it was Missy and Dylan who compared a number of Teavivre’s Keemuns. I need to look at his reviews and narrow down the ones to try. They have several! As my guest said, “This one’s a winner.”
I decided to do a little experiment with this one today. Made by the recommended steeping parameters, it was a refined afternoon cup. I wanted to see if brutal western brewing would turn it into a hearty breakfast cup.
Last time: 194F and 2 1/2 minutes.
This time: 212F and 4 1/2 minutes.
This liquor is still very clean and clear and medium orange red, a tiny bit on the light side of color for a black tea. This is black tea as the Chinese enjoy it.
The test – did it bring out more cocoa, more smoke?
No, it brought out SWEET POTATO! BOOGIE BAM BAM! This is delicious! Seriously, I have Caramella Girls playing in my head from the first sip. Aromatic, steaming, freshly cut open baked sweet potato.
So this still isn’t what most people would consider a breakfast cup, but it is great tea! Some keemuns are a little rough around the edges for me. This one is incredibly refined.
This is a free sample provided for review by Angel and Teavivre. Thank you!
The dry leaves smelled amazing when I opened the package. This is really fresh.
The steeped tea is a very clear and clean medium orange color. It smells like grain, dark honey, and baked fruit, but these aromas are light and clean just like the color of the tea. The natural, fresh sweetness and complete lack of astringency make this a very pleasant tea indeed! The finish is light, sweet fruit and if there is any smoke here, it is very light, as are the cocoa notes. This is a great afternoon cuppa.
I went on the low side with leaf. Next time I try this, I will try it with two teaspoons and a longer steep time and see if that makes it more of a breakfast tea. As an afternoon cuppa, this is excellent. It is an elegant and genteel tea.
Thank you again, Angel and Teavivre!
I’ve had a smaller rolled yunnan tea before (rolled a bit smaller than a pea), but I wanted to try these out because they seem a great serving size for a small vessel.
I went in expecting great things, because I do love yunnan tea. I did one pearl for my 100ml gaiwan. Meant to do about three to four minutes, went a little over… Would have been fine with a shorter steep, though.
Definitely more on the peppery side. There’s still an undertone with a bit of sweetness, though.
This is it, the end of this tin. I am okay, though, because I already ordered a large bag of their Premium Jasmine Dragon Pearls so I was able to refill the tin as soon as it was empty.
We squeezed all possible goodness from these last pearls. Hubby and I had a Gongfu session on the floor by the Christmas tree with my tiny glass pot and the bamboo tray he gave me a few years ago for Christmas. I managed to use a liter of water on this teaspoon of pearls. The last steep had just the ghost of green tea remaining, with a whisper of jasmine, but somehow it retained the creaminess.
I checked their website and noticed that I have tried every one of their jasmine teas except for the jasmine raw puerh. I accept this as a challenge. I will try to acquire that one as a sample in my next order, and meanwhile I have the excitement of awaiting my latest order, which I saw today on the tracking is in Chicago. I stalk my tea on its way here.
Teavivre’s jasmine teas are like a drug to me, so calming and so soothing. They make a happy place for you and then fluff the cushions when you get there. The tea base doesn’t disappear under the weight of a heavy perfume, but the flavors instead co-exist in perfect balance. Even the economical Silver Jasmine Green, when paired with food, is excellent, though for drinking sans food I prefer the others. Still I can stretch my tea dollars with the Silver Jasmine Green.
I think I HAVE to have a Teavivre Jasmine Dragon Pearl tea and Silver Needle Jasmine White on shelf at all times.
Congratulations to Teavivre for being named on the Top Ten Teas in the World list by Fox News! You deserve it!
I can’t believe I didn’t have this listed in my cupboard! I love love love Teavivre’s jasmine. The first jasmine I had as a newbie loose leaf drinker was not good – it was so perfume-y and fake it almost made me sick. I thought I would never have jasmine again, and then I tried Teavivre’s jasmines. I think I have had every type they sell. And it is almost a drug for me. I unwind and unclench and drift away when I drink it. Aaaaaaahhhhh.
I think my favorite is their Jasmine Silver Needle White tea, followed by Premium Jasmine Dragon Pearls, then this one, then Silver Jasmine Green. The last one is excellent with a meal and so economical, but the others are my favorites for drinking alone.
In my cupboard. Woot! Yahoo! Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh! It finally got here!
I served this at tea party today and as always it was DELISH! The jasmine smells like grape candy in this to me, incredibly sweet, and the flavor is just perfectly floral and not perfume-y. I really love both types of Jasmine Pearls they carry, who can choose just one?
This is a free sample provided for review by Angel and Teavivre. Thank you!
I am a huge fan of Teavivre’s Premium Jasmine Dragon Pearls. They calm and soothe me, they are elegant, they taste like an indulgence, they are a must-have tea for me. So when I saw that they had added a new, even higher grade jasmine pearl tea, I was curious. Would there really be a noticeable difference in the two? Would it be worth the price difference?
We compared the pearls of each kind. These are slightly smaller than the Premium. Both show a lot of white streaks of the silver tips. Both smell heavenly. These may smell a tad sweeter than the Premium.
I made this in an 8 ounce gongfu pot using one tsp. as recommended. The first steep was very pale. The liquor has that sweet jasmine aroma and taste that I love – not perfume-y or cloying or artificial, just sweet and amazing. I haven’t seen anyone else mention it, but it seemed very creamy to me, bordering on a light butter-y feel and taste for the green base. Magnificent.
The second steep is darker than the first now that the leaves have unfurled most of the way. The flavor really isn’t diminished.
Yes, this is worth the additional price for when you want an extraordinarily special jasmine pearl tea. The Premium Jasmine Dragon Pearls are very special and priced to fall in line with a tea you want to enjoy often. Both are excellent, the main difference I find being the creaminess of the Superfine. Both have just the right amount and type of jasmine flavor for me.
Thank you, Teavivre, for letting me try these amazing pearls!