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Recent Tasting Notes
Finished up my sample from my first round of Teavivre samples. I was craving something light and iced but still wholesome, and this is perfect. I’m really starting to get a taste for iced white and oolong teas. Working with Teavivre’s instructions has really refined my preparation, and taught me that I was overdoing it with the heat and time before.
This morning’s first cup before heading out to do errands.
My Teavivre order of a ton of samples arrived yesterday morning – woo hoo! Since I had the most samples of this tea, I decided to start with it first.
Three grams of leaf in 8 oz of water at the below preparation notes yielded a delicious cup of black tea. There was heft in the cup, but no sign of bitterness. Some have said this is reminiscent of beer and I’d agree with that. There’s a malty-sweetness to the liquor. I had no desire to add anything to this cup to make it taste any better – it was that good!
Resteep: Water was just under boiling for a 3 minute soak. This turned out to be another delicious cup similar to that of the first cup.
I could see this as an everyday tea, but not something I’d necessarily want if I needed to be kicked out of bed in the morning. But a very nice change to the usual black-tea-with-milk-&-sugar routine.
I let this one steep for perhaps 5 minutes and the result was a gorgeous dark brown-reddish liquid. Very strong yet none of the offensive flavors or odors we sometimes encounter with Shou. I have come to love and appreciate a fine Shou and this is on par with some of the better ones that I have had.
The second steep is lighter yet still full of flavor.
I enjoyed this last week as well and after the third steeping I used the rest for iced tea. I left it sit for maybe a week in the fridge and actually forgot what it was until I tasted it. It was nothing short of wonderful.
This is the last of my samples from Teavivre – thanks again for the generous samples!
The dry leaves are quite pleasing to the eye-exquisitely twisted black leaves flecked with warm golden buds.
This tea is smooth, sweet and contains notes of grain. Maybe rye? Zero bitterness or astringency. This is one of the highest rated teas here at Steepster and is a very high quality tea.
Tea Vivre Free Samples Round #3
This Jin Xuan is not entirely unlike a Tie Guanyin, which is perhaps not too surprising as they are both Taiwanese mountain oolongs. By this I mean that there is that slight floral quality to the brew which I used to so often mistake for a scented process but is, in fact, merely the floral bouquet of camellia sinensis itself.
Although, these two teas do grow at very different altitudes, so maybe it isn’t as obvious as one would think.
The “milk flavor” does add an interesting creamy texture to the cup, but if I’m entirely honest, there is a bit of grittiness as a result at the end of my first steep (which I assume is the milk flavor treatment, perhaps it isn’t), and you can get a similarly thick, soft mouth feel simply by purchasing and steeping exceptionally good tea.
Second steeping is more floral and less milky. If you are fond of light, Formosan oolong, this would be a solid choice.
Of course, we can’t always justify the expense of exceptional tea, and under those circumstances this certainly produces a very pleasant cup.
Tea Vivre Samples Round #3
The best word for this tea is balanced.
Long running readers of my reviews will know that I am not a fan of floral things, least of all in tea.
For reasons that are not entirely clear to me, Houston’s Chinese restaurants all seem to serve jasmine tea rather than green or oolong as their “default” tea. I’ve never come across that in any other city. Unfortunately, most of it is bad, bagged, or low quality tea, besides.
Which is part of why I opted to taste this sample in spite of my biases.
Now, I freely admit that my biases against flavored, scented and spiced teas derives largely from my book knowledge of why teas began to be processed this way in the first place. But, I am learning to accept that many of these techniques have become a tradition and that there are those who are trying to elevate them to an art in their own right and not simply as a way of selling mediocre tea across vast distances and time.
This silver needle scented tea points the way to beginning to understand this. The floral notes are absolutely heady, almost cloying, the moment the leaves are first struck by hot water. I freely admit I was terrified that I was about to drink the equivalent of a cup of rose water. But amazingly, after this initial offering of intensity, the jasmine has quickly settled into place side by side, perhaps even a step behind, the tea itself.
I’m several extremely short steepings into these leaves and I’m only just now thinking that longer steeps are in order and so far there is no bite, no hard edge, nothing unpleasant in these cups. A soft, but present tea being supported by unassertive, but present flowers.
These teas will never be my first choice. Never be my ‘go to’ cup. But if more people served tea like this one that Tea Vivre is offering, I’d wrinkle my nose far less when dining out.
Thank you very much to our tea Angel for putting me on the right path.
Before I start on my new samples, I knew I completely forgot this one from the last round. Thank you for all the samples once again, Teavivre!
I’m supposed to be in class right now but I just feel sick and I don’t know why. It probably more has to do with the weather…while I appreciate getting rain it’s just so annoying when it’s just overcast for days. At least more lilies have bloomed since yesterday
This tea is really pretty to look at, with its thin leaves. It has a bit of a smoky, spicy scent to it.
Brewed for 90 seconds for the first steep. This has everything. Seaweed, veggies, sweetness, smokiness. I’m thinking I need to at least try asparagus, because all these teas I like that have the flavor according to other notes, I’d like to confirm that with my own taste buds and that’s kind of hard when you don’t eat the stuff. Of course I am probably like a month too late for any, but if that’s what the taste is here, I’m willing to try. I mean, I drank a foie gras milkshake last week just to find out what it tastes like. Probably not the best way to find out (you know, those weeks in France would have been a better time) but still I had to try it once.
I can’t figure out if I want to describe the last note as smoky or spicy because it’s like it changes with each sip. It’s not very smoky, or very spicy, almost just like a roasted mild pepper.
I prefer sweeter greens most of the time, but right now I really could go for a savory, vegetal one like this. I will give it another steep soon.
Yoga, then Chinese Flute radio on Pandora, candles lit, and tea with hubby. He likes this one! I never thought I would see the day! Mr. Tetley-with-milk-and-sugar is drinking oolong plain and liking it enough to keep refilling his cup and to tell me that yes, please, he would like a resteep. I am gurgling from all this tea, but I was feeling rather dehydrated after our jaunt in the rain and thunder today to set Fluffy free over an hour north of here, then shopping in Raleigh. I need this before the coming week hits – back to (home)school, orthodontist appointment for youngest, and a Stampin Up workshop for 21 people to conduct.
Two friends joined me for lunch today. One said she was interested In learning more about oolongs so I got my gong fu set and tray and prepared this tea. Liberteas sent such a generous sample that I have enough to drink it yet again! Thank you!
The first thing one of the ladies said was, “I taste peaches at the end of the sip!” They really Iked this, and are well on their way now to liking all kinds of tea! They were fascinated by the way the taste changed with each steeping, and by the time they left I had a list in hand of what they want me to order from Teavivre for them!
I just shared steeps two and three of this with hubby. We are using my glass gong fu teapot tonight. This is really good, very civil oolong. No strong toastiness accosting you, just a mild reminder of the heat once applied to the leaves and the beautiful berry and fruit scent it defends itself with when the leaf hoppers attack! This is so going on my next order. I think hubby agrees, and I have a friend whom I know is going to ask for some as well!
This is a sample shared by Liberteas. Thank you!
I believe this is my first ever Oriental Beauty. If this is indicative of others, then I have really been missing out, because this is FANTASTIC! The roasty taste I normally associate with oolongs is much more muted here, and this is FRUITY! I gave it the longer steep time, so there is a little bit of astringency, just a tiny drying and maybe a slight tart berry flavor with the stone fruit taste. Doggone it! I am going to have to place another big Teavivre order! Oh well, I was ordering tea for a friend anyway!
Thank you, Liberteas! I love it!
Heh heh heh. Hee hee heeeeee. BWAHAHAHAHAHA! ANOTHER CONVERT!
Last night was Writers’ Group night at my house and copious amounts of teas a are always consumed. The writers range in age from 16 to 68. Lots of the young people are getting into good tea and that makes me happy.
One of the college students brought his mother last night. We had met only once before but I knew she was interested in trying some good loose leaf tea. She drinks flavored Lipton and Celestial Seasonings and told me that she is not very adventurous when it comes to food and drink. I let her smell several different puerh teas, which drew a rather deadpan expression and “yes, it really does smell….earthy.”
So what did I do? I gave her the tea that scares a lot of hard core tea drinkers! Puerh!I set up a bamboo tray on the floor by the Christmas tree. We had Jasmine Silver Needle first to get her feet wet, and she liked it. Then I cleared away, got a new pot out and started this.
She liked it best! And says she is bringing a young lady with her next time who is also eager to try new tea. She liked the creaminess and natural sweetness. I have another lady coming Monday who had tea with me a couple of months ago and now she wants her adult daughter to get into it. Loving all these padawans!
Also, every like and comment I have made on Steepster today has disappeared, so maybe I typed this note in vain….
I am feeling particularly blessed this weekend. I don’t know why other than that I have taken time to think about it. I am feeling more energetic now and more like myself since all the surgeries. I have family that I really enjoy being with. I have a miniature farm in my yard, and I always wanted a garden and chickens and a good dog. We have good food to eat, and lots of desserts right now because it was hubby’s birthday over the weekend. I have nice people in my life like K S, whom I have never seen face to face but who sent me some of this tea because he knew I loved it and it is sold out. There is a lot to be thankful for, and that is only the beginning.
I think I really started feeling this way when we had our birthday dinner and had tea afterwards. First, my son’s new-ish girlfriend wanted to try Hot Cinnamon Spice tea, and she loved it. Then I found out that my son, who used to hate ALL tea, has gotten her drinking puerh, and when he asked if we could have some after dessert I was thrilled. It is so peaceful to me to sit around the table or even on the floor with a kettle and make steep after steep of a good puerh, filling and refilling the cups. And this time, we were joined by…YOUNGEST DAUGHTER! Yes! She gave up sugar and milk in her tea a couple of months ago, and is now trying lots of new kinds and broadening her horizons. And she liked it!
This is the puerh I usually gave people who were drinking it for the first time. It has the trademark characteristics found in most shu – horsiness, earthiness – but none of the bad traits like fishy odor or bitterness. The creamy cedar note in this one is what endeared it to me so. You get the rich earthiness with the aroma of horse barn – mmmmmmm! – and then that bright spot that still manages to be mellow.
Something about drinking puerh with family and friends feels like an extra special bond to me.
I have much to be thankful for.
Someone I knew many years ago has been back in touch and had expressed an interest in trying puerh tea. She came today to get some eggs so we sat down for a quick gong fu session before she had to head out of town.
When people tell me they don’t really like tea or that they are afraid of puerh, I like to start them with this one. It is just so good and smooth and sweet! She really liked it and wants to know more. This is probably my all time favorite puerh.
She told me that her son-in-law has a Yixing but she doesn’t know what he drinks, just that he grew up drinking tea and his mother was very much into natural remedies and such, so I got a handful of Teavivre samples together and sent them with her for him to try,an d I am sure he will share a cup or two with his mother-in-law! I can’t wait to hear how he likes the teas I sent. I love introducing people to Teavivre. :) They are amazing!
A dear friend from Charleston is in town and I picked her up to have lunch with me today. She has mentioned in the past that she really only likes sweet iced tea but I knew she has never tried any unusual or high quality loose leaf teas. So I made lemonade to go with lunch but asked if she would like to try something special for after, and she was game.
Guess what? She loved it! I used my small porcelain teapot and resteeped about eight or nine times. She was so surprised that the tea didn’t need sugar. I made it really strong, which is how I like it, because she said she likes her coffee strong. The first steep was pretty dark but I didn’t do a rinse so the leaves were not opened up all the way.
I had added about 1 1/2 teaspoons of loose tea to the pot and just set the Krups pot on the table. Yes, the water is cooling the whole time, but I have never found it to adversely affect the taste of the teas I do this way.
The second steep was nearly black and had a lovely earthy flavor. No horsey, no fishy, no shrimpy. The cedar oil taste is my favorite part of this tea.
The last steeps were medium dark and the cedar flavor was joined by a pristine mineral taste like primordial dew. Oh my goodness, I love this tea. I keep watching the website because it has been out of stock for a while, but I will positively be ordering more when it comes back.
This is my favorite puerh without a doubt. If I have a new guest coming to tea and they say they already like and drink tea, I often serve Harney’s Paris or some other flavored black that I feel is a sure thing. If they say they drink coffee and don’t really drink tea or know anything about it, they get this!
A few days ago, a lady I haven’t seen in five years posted that she needed feed bags for a project. I offered her mine and told her to stop by when I have time for tea. She said she didn’t really drink it and to surprise her with something unusual and adventurous. I made this!
When she arrived she told me that she normally took her coffee with milk and sugar, and that was how she had tried her grocery store greens that she dumped out. But she tried this puerh with nothing added and nearly swooned. She loved the cedar-y flavor, the smoothness, and the creamy mouthfeel. We had about eight steeps and honestly, I think the last was my favorite. We swished it around and such a sweetness and bright yet mellow flavor was there. It was pure delight.
This is one of the teas that must ALWAYS be on hand.
My son, my godson, and my son’s girlfriend all came to stay for the weekend, and my son asked if he could grill and invite a friend he knew from church. The friend asked to bring several family members and it ended up being a really fun day with some really nice folks.
Hubby does not eat cow because he doesn’t like the texture of beef, so I was pretty happy that my son was grilling portobello mushrooms to serve like burgers. They were delicious!
While we were waiting for the food to be ready, I started talking to the two young ladies, who turned out to be very curious about TEA! Yay! We talked and talked and talked about tea, and when they said they were adventurous and had never heard of puerh, I decided we had time for a gong fu session with this lovely tea.
The first steeps were inky black, because I like my puerh strong! I did not rinse and we started with one minute steeps or perhaps a little longer. They said they could detect the aroma of mushrooms, and had a lot of fun experiencing the changes in color and taste of the tea. We got seven good steeps before the color and flavor had weakened too much to enjoy.
I have invited them back since they were interested in lots of different types of tea. I hope they will take me up on the offer!
Last night I steeped these leaves for one pot of hot tea. Then, thinking about Bonnie’s puerh reviews, I put the leaves in my Bodum iced tea pitcher, filled it with filtered water, and out it in the refrigerator. By the time I was ready for bed, the water in the pitcher was as black as cola and even had bubbles along the sides that made it look carbonated. I decanted the first cold steep and put in more water to see what would happen.
When I got up this morning, the second steep was still pretty pale so I poured a bit in a glass and it was very weak though good. I added a bit of it to that ultra dark first steep.
I tried a glass of that mix, and Oh. My. Goodness. This is the most refreshing thing I think I have ever had to drink in my life. Sometimes a fine white or green tea will have a taste of snow melt to me. This is a whole glass of icy cold fresh pure snow melt with the loveliest aftertaste. Pristine. I really really want to do this some more. This is going to be amazing in summer heat.
My best friend really loves puerh tea and I wanted to have some more today to keep trying to counteract all the holiday food, so I invited her over. Of course, I made apple dumplings to go with it, so how much did it help? LOL!
The instructions on the bag call for a great deal of tea and a rather short steep of 1-2 minutes. I put a bit less tea than called for and steeped it just over two minutes. The resulting tea is rich and dark dark dark – as dark as coffee. But it is oh so good. There is a cedar oil aftertaste to this one that I love.
Bonnie mentions cold steeping her puerh, so I only made one pot with these leaves and then put them in cold water in the refrigerator. It is already so dark! I can’t wait to see how I like it.
I ate way too much from the snackie plate at writers’ group tonight and my tummy was not pleased. I had one guest and her daughter still here and asked if she would like to try some puerh. She likes a lot of different foods – more than I do – and experiments a lot when cooking, so she was game!
We only made two steeps of this, but that was enough to make my overstuffed belly start going again. My guest liked it a lot, said it tasted like leather (good for her!) and noticed the oil in this one. I love that about this puerh – the “cedar beams polished for a hundred years” coating that forms on your lips and in your mouth.
In spite of all this caffeine in all this tea, I am being lulled to sleep by all the L-theanine.
Wheeee! My tea arrived from China! It was rather awkward, too.
We have a digital keypad lock on the front door, but my son forgets since he moved out after we installed the new one and still locks the knob, thereby locking himself out. He told me he was going to his car to get his iPod cord, so when I heard a knock at the door I thought he had locked himself out again. In a silly, high voice, I said, “Who is it?” a male voice said, “Mailman.” I said it again, thinking my son was playing around. Again, “Mailman!”
I opened the door to let my playful, funny son in, and….it was the mailman. I was so embarrassed. He wanted me to sign for my Teavivre package. LOL! I hastily explained as I signed, but he didn’t seem overly amused. :)
So now, I made a big pot of puerh to share with my son this morning because I don’t have to hoard the last of my sample anymore! I can have all the puerh I want.
I put three teaspoons of tea in my 22 ounce Beehouse pot, poured boiling water over, and steeped 4 1/2 minutes. Second steep at five minutes is every bit as good. If anything, the rich, polished cedar beam taste is more prominent. This one is only lightly horsey and not fishy at all. Second pot is almost all gone, and I plan to make a third steep. Excellent tea!
This is a free sample from Angel and Teavivre. Many thanks for sending me this new tea love.
I had a guest today who I don’t know terribly well. It is someone I knew briefly when I was young and have only seen once more in the past thirty years. This gentleman and I have become Facebook friends over our love of dogs and he asked if we would be willing to dogsit his new puppy on Tuesdays. Today was a test run to see if the puppy and my Sam would get along (they did) and he said in advance that he wanted to try some of that tea I talk about on Facebook!
He has only had Lipton tea and said he drinks it with milk and sugar. I have found puerh to be a safe bet with people who love coffee, as long as you give them GOOD puerh. We pulled out the gongfu set and began.
He listened to my spiel about puerh, then sipped. His surprise was undisguisable. Right away he told me he liked it, and it didn’t need any milk or sugar. He loved how smooth it was, saying that he thought tea was drying, and this one wasn’t! We drank cup after cup, and made steep after steep. Several times he stopped talking about other things to comment on the tea. I must say it seemed uncommonly good today.
I don’t have a lot of this left, so I really need to finalize my order so I can get a big bag of this in. I have been waiting for my new samples before I place the order because as sure as I go ahead and order I will find more in this new box that I have to have some more of!
Right now, this is my “puerh I must have on hand.” Delicious, polished ancient cedar beams, thick mouthfeel, wonderment!
I am still in ecstasies over this tea! I shared several steeps with hubby tonight. Everyone’s tastes are so different. Hubby says he still prefers the Ripened Aged Puerh Mini Tuo Cha from Teavivre, while this one is positively transporting me! I am eager to get my son’s opinion when he comes home this weekend. I hope I can sleep – this is an awful lot of tea at bedtime! O.O
I saved this sample from Teavivre so I could share it with a friend who loves puerh.
Oh my goodness. I think this may be my favorite puerh to date. I didn’t know anything could unseat their Ripened Aged Mini TuoCha, but I think it just happened.
The first sip of tea transported me to a cathedral built of stout wooden beams that have been polished lovingly with Murphy’s Oil Soap. There is the scent of clean wood mixed with a sense of antiquity here. And after the sip my mouth is cool and tingling! The warmth of the dark puerh flavor transforms into sunshine in the mouth!
Because we were conversing, I didn’t get to give this all the attention I could have, but I have enough to drink again, and again, so I can try to be even more detailed. This is indeed a puerh fit for an emperor in my book. Definitely ordering this one.
Thank you, Teavivre and Angel!