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Recent Tasting Notes


This versatile and flavourful black satisfies plain or with milk. The aroma wafting around the teapot catches the nose immediately. The amber brown liquor is lighter than to be expected from the black leaves, but it is not short on flavour. Taken black, it has a pleasant, malty sweetness that is free of astringency and does not dry the palate. To get a satisfying dark brew when taking with milk, it is necessary to make it stronger, but the splendidly full-bodied, almost syrupy flavour of molasses, malt and caramel is delightfully heady and aromatic.

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If you enjoy Chinese black teas, you must try this one! Open the packet and inhale deeply – hay, cocoa, malt , maybe a little fruit. Smells delicious.

I used less than boiling water, as suggested by Teavivre in their brewing instructions – 2 tsp in 8 oz of water. Flavorful for 4 steeps (1m, 2m, 2.5m, 3m). The tea soup is a rich brown and it tastes fantastic. I cannot wait to serve this to guests. I’ll definitely be keeping this one on hand!

195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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I’ve been putting off trying my pu erh teas for a time when I can sit and relax. The first time I tried this one I could not get it to taste right. This time I steeped it for 1.30 at 212. degrees. Much better :3 It is sweet with a lovely floral note. The sweetness almost reminds me of peach or apple. It still has a soft earthy taste to it. I’m happy I chose this one today. Very relaxing.


sounds yummy!

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So I tried making this in my gaiwan last night and apparently failed miserably. I followed steeping instructions on the website but no matter how I tried steeping it it had a horrible bitter chemical flavor. Does anyone know why? I’m completely puzzled…. :(


Hello KallieBoo,

Our this raw pu-erh tea cake is made by the tea buds and leaves from Yunnan large-leaf tea trees. The process of making this kind of raw puerh cake is totally manually and without any chemical material.

The bitter taste of tea is caused by the component of catechin in tea leaves. The catechin in large-leaf tea trees is usually more than other tea tress. The tea cakes made by the material which contains more tea buds will be bitter than other teas because of the high containing of catechin.

The bitterness often can be divided into several situations.
1. You feel bitterness once the tea liquor into your mouth, but a quick enjoyable aftertaste sweetness will come to your tongue and even throat. This is a good sign for high quality raw pu-erh teas.
2. You feel bitterness from the beginning of the drink to the end without any aftertaste sweetness or astringency. This kind of tea will be a little poor quality that the fist situation.
3. The bad one is for the feeling of bitterness with astringency

For the bitter chemical flavor you mentioned, I think it may because you are not accustomed to the natural bitterness of the raw pu-erh tea which then you mistaken as chemical flavor. If this kind of bitterness is not quite acceptable by you at the beginning. I suggest you shorten the brewing time, at the first few infusions you can quickly pour out the tea liquor in a few seconds after you pour the boiling water to the tea. In this quick brewing way the bitterness may be a little decreased.

The bitterness of raw pu-erh tea may be not quite acceptable for the raw pu-erh beginners. However, many pu-erh tea lovers love this kind of bitterness and sweet aftertaste after some time of adjustment period.
After more than 7 years of natural oxidation, the sweetness aftertaste of this pu-erh tea is quite obvious. I believe you will also love this kind of pu-erh tea once you are used to it.

Here are also some other tea lovers reviews for this teas:


Thank you for helping me Angel!! I’ll have to try it again.


You are welcome, please contact us if you have any questions about tea:D

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My very first keemun was Teavivre’s Keemun #1, and it is still one of my favorite teas. I have been looking forward to trying its “big brother”. I was curious because it seemed to be quite inexpensive compared to other Hao Ya teas I have recently tried.

This tea’s nose has much less smoke than #1, but there are hints of chocolate. It seems very refined and elegant, but less powerful than I would like. The taste is also a bit on the weak side, but pleasant; without a hint of bitterness.

The tea really comes into its own in the finish. It opens up and shows both power and complexity. There is still a lot of flavor a full minute after I swallow. This long finish seems to help the taste build up: each sip seemed stronger than the first, so that by the end of the cup, I can’t really complain about the lack of power.

I gave this pretty much the same rating as the Keemun #1 but they are very different teas. This one is more subtle but lacks the smoke and power that I’ve come to look for in Keemun teas.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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woops over leafed! but not oversteeped, and still good. whew.
kinda average milk oolong in my inexperienced opinion.
or i could be distracted by downloading fic and learning how to use twitter.

thanks for the sample whatshesaid! i know you aren’t online much these days, but hope you are having an awesome baby growing time!!


Wooooo twitter! :O
I grabbed some of this tea, but I don’t remember how much. I hope it’s tasty! :P

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Backlog from yesterday:

These tea leaves are the strangest leaves I’ve ever seen. They look more like those seaweed snacks that are becoming super popular these days. I put them all in my test tube steeper vertically and they went almost all the way to the top. The tea itself was pretty good. I got a few good steeps out of it, but it wasn’t anything too crazy.

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this is my favorite so far! i love a nice jasmine tea. this is flavored with peach extract so not overwhelmingly peach but it plays nicely with the jasmine

i steeped for 2 minutes. the pearls werent able to completely unfurl so i will try a second steeping to see how it will affect the flavor

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

I’m always scared to try peach anything, same with cherry. I love fresh peaches (and cherries), but dried and/or artificial flavors hardly ever compare and are often an affront to my taste buds. It’s good to hear that it’s not overwhelming.


one of my favorite teas is fruta bomba from teavana. its a green with peach in it (and other things). they use real fruit and its a lovely flavor. not overwhelming. on the other hand, teavanas sakura allure is a green that has real cherries and its such a strong cherry flavor that the tea isnt even green, its dark red. i love cherries also, that one is so strong i typically like to ice it to thin it out some

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i steeped for 3 minutes which gave it a very light amber color. the leaves were able to unfurl all the way to release the full flavor of the oolong.

the strawberry flavor is from strawberry extract and i think because of this the flavor is very light, secondary, and not overwhelming. the tea has a faint strawberry fragrance also.

overall, i like it. its nice if youre in the mood for a flavored tea that isnt strong.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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It is a pleasure to work with Teavivre – their tea is delicious and the customer service is just as good. Today I am enjoying their Taiwan Jin Xuan Milk Oolong. The thick creamy taste is superb. Hard to believe that this rich creamy flavor is natural but it definitely is.

The liquor is a medium gold with a slight vanilla cream aroma. Both the flavor and the mouthfeel suggest sweetened condensed milk. I prepared this according to instructions provided by Teavivre for an 8oz cup Using my test tube steeper, I watched the leaves unfurl and expand and was able to enjoy four flavorful infusions (1m, 2m, 3m, 4m). I was delighted to discover that the flavor had staying power throughout the process.

This is one rich, delicious brew. Certainly one I plan to keep on hand and enjoy regularly.

205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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I’ve not had this one for awhile so I’m really enjoying it this morning. Rich, malty, bready flavor. A wonderful black tea to savor and enjoy without adding milk or sugar. Time to go resteep…..

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This tea hit the spot this morning – full of deliciousness. I’ve been working my way through a few teas in the traveling teabox and I needed the comfort of one of my favorites. Bailin for me!

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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I am enjoying Teavivre’s Spring 2013 harvest and have taken advantage of their 2nd anniversary sale. The speed with which they deliver their tea is very impressive.

So I have finally tasted the highly regarded Bailin. Though a milder black tea flavor than I prefer, this tea is most enjoyable! The flavor is rich and gentle with a definite sweetness. While the smell of the dry leaf is definitely mild, the aroma of the liquid is strong and very pleasant.

It produces a dark copper brew. The taste is woodsy, sweet, and fruity all in one. Brewed below boiling (I used 190 degree water) and there is no bitterness at all. Added 1 minute to each 8oz infusion (1m, 2m, 3m, 4m).

If you’ve not had the opportunity to try this tea, do yourself a favor and give it a try!

190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Quite possibly the finest ti guan yin of my life. The scent of the leaves alone was enough to send me into ecstasy. It’s like being in the best most fragrant flower garden. Absolutely amazing.
I had no idea the leaves would unfurl so quickly and at such volume. My basket was almost overflowing.
The taste of this tea is magical. Floral and fresh. Apple aftertaste. Just a bit vegetal, but unlike any vegetable I know. Slight peachiness. This is gently energizing. Perfect for me as I’m feeling pretty tired.

This is a beautiful tea.


Great review. You make me regret not ordering a sample of this!


Awww! Now I have to fix myself a cup of this, after reading this lovely review :-)


I almost didn’t get a sample of this either. I figured it can’t be so different from other to guan yins, but it is. Great tea inspires great reviews. :)

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Using filtered water with a TDS of 27, I brewed 8 oz. of Fengqing Dragon Pearl Black Tea western style with 10 pearls per TeaVivre’s Brewing guide. Ten pearls equaled 16.8 grams per a My Weigh Durascale D2 660 scale.

Per brewing guide: 3 steeps: rinse, 1m, 2m, 3m at 212*F.

Fragrance: Cocoa

Liquor: Amber brown

Aroma: Cocoa with a caramel-like sweetness

I enjoyed the rich, moderately strong dark cocoa flavor and caramel-like sweetness of this tea medium-bodied tea. All three infusions were enjoyable and very consistent. In fact, with this much leaf, I was also able to produce 4m & 5m infusions for a total of 5 infusions. There was no hint of bitterness or astringency.

Impression: A high-quality, rich, smooth, medium-bodied black tea with a moderately strong dark cocoa flavor and a caramel-like sweetness. I agree with Ashmanra, I consider this to be an excellent afternoon tea.

Thank you to Angel Chen and TeaVivre for their gracious free sample of this high-quality tea.

Correction due to new scale: What I thought was 16.8 grams was actually 168 grains. I was in the incorrect weight mode due to the very small font used for the grain abbreviation (gn). Using a Grains-to-Grams conversion, the actual weight was 10.9 grams.


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I’d like to thank Angel & TeaVivre for their generosity in sending out samples to those of us who love tea, & I’d also like to commend them for the excellent quality of all of their teas (at least all of the ones I’ve tried so far).

I’m gradually getting more accustomed to white teas. I’ve learned to really watch the temperature of the water, as well as the quality of the water, & they don’t seem quite as bland as they used to, & although I’m certain they will never replace black tea as the love of my life, I enjoy a cup here & there. This one is quite tasty, with a thick tongue & a mild malto-meal kind of taste, with a little butter & soymilk. There’s just enough of a vegetal flavor to hint at split pea soup, & today I’m also picking up a hint of citrus. A lovely tea.


Malt-O-Meal is a great descriptive term—-especially for white teas (I’m right there with you—you really have to hunt for the taste.)

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Ok, I didn’t actually drink this yesterday, but another of my adults was talking about how much she loves white tea, and I had 2 of this one, so I gave her one. It really is a nice one!

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It’s the last day of July already? Unbelievable!
A few months ago I started using the last day of the month to update my “Tea Collection” database, re-arrange my cupboards as needed, & kind of review what I drank. I have this insane goal to drink a cup of every single tea in my cupboard once a month, & as my cupboard continues to expand, that goal gets harder & harder to accomplish. I didn’t even come close in July, having started the month with 307 teas (including samples) in my cupboard. I only drank 132 of them (some several times, like Zhu Rong), with 36 sipdowns. That’s ok. There’s always August! :)

In looking through my cupboard, I realized I still had a sample from Angel that I hadn’t tried yet. I guess I’m starting to like white tea, or maybe this is just a really tasty one! It’s hard to describe the flavor of it. It started out almost buttery & malty, but then it took on a kind of soymilk flavor, & near the end it reminds me a little of split pea soup, very savory.
Thank you to Angel @ TeaVivre for sending me generous samples of this, & also for allowing me to be part of the sampling program, as I truly enjoy the quality of your teas!


Wow. I still think drinking 132 different teas in one month is pretty good! You need to give yourself time to enjoy each cup, and resteep if it’s worthy of the extra attention. :D

I think I’ll be reviewing my collection every month or so, and updating the estimates on how much (in oz) I have, as well as total number! It’s pretty relaxing.

Terri HarpLady

Oh, don’t worry, I enjoy every single sip!! Including re-steeps when they are worthy :)
I know there is no way I can drink through 300 teas a month (or however many I have by now…I’m afraid to count). That would be 10 teas a day, which might be doable if I wasn’t drinking oolongs, puerhs, etc.


yeah…those damn puerhs always slowing me down! and SOMEONE just sent me a zillion of them!

Terri HarpLady


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Thanks again for the samples, Teavivre! I must admit I thought this was the other Tan Yang when I asked to sample it, but that one is missing from Teavivre.com now. I remembered it from a past visit to the site, so then I didn’t realize it was missing now. I have tried this one before, but at least it was another harvest. This harvest calls for two tablespoons, at 194 degrees for 17 ounces with 1-3 minute steep times. I went with three teaspoons. I love the fuzzy dark gold leaves with hints of black and a sweet potato fragrance – that’s always promising. The color of the cup is actually surprisingly dark for such a golden leaf – the color of the brew is slightly lighter than a cup of coffee. The flavor kind of reminds me of an assam, almost brassy with hints of smoky or tobacco notes. Hints of tomato, sweet potato, honey, molasses. Sweet but with more bite than I expect from such a golden leaf. The second steep is more like chocolate, again surprisingly dark for such light leafed tea. I probably could have used two teaspoons rather than three and had a delicious cup anyway.
Steep #1 // 3 tsps. // 15 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 8 min after boiling // 3 min
Harvest: March 25, 2014

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I had been wanting to request more samples from Teavivre but I kind of felt guilty about it and I thought I’d drink up some of my other teas first anyway. BUT Angel from Teavivre sent me a message on Steepster saying she was sending me some samples anyway! Well, if they are offering, I will certainly not say no! So THANK YOU for the amazing generous sample package! I always love Teavivre’s teas, so this will be fantastic. Tan Yang’s are the next tea I HAD to try, thanks to the reviews I’ve seen here on Steepster. The descriptions of Tan Yangs sounded like they’d be my new favorite.

I wanted to follow Teavivre’s steep instructions: This means 185 degrees with FOUR teaspoons of tea for 8 ounces with 1-3 minute steeping times. So I used three teaspoons of these lovely mostly golden yellow wirey leaves (which is probably the most leaves I’ve ever used for any tea).

First steep // A minute thirty seconds. I let the water cool a while after boiling. Sadly, I have no way to tell what temp my water is. The flavor is divine, but it seems like the water was cooled too long for a black tea. But I will certainly follow Teavivre’s instructions at least for the first batch of leaves since they kindly sent me the samples. This is so good, but I wish I knew why this was called a Tan Yang. I’m going to take a guess that it’s because this tea is from Tanyang Village? It seems like a lighter Yunnan tea. I know Yunnans come from Yunnan. But this is a Fujian tea (and from the few teas I’ve had that I’ve known are from there, they seem like they have charcoal accents.) Anyway, the flavors here: a bit of smoke somehow (is that the Fujian?), sweet potato, honey, molasses… but on a lighter scale, probably because the steep temp is so low.

Second steep // Hotter & two minutes. This one had a deeper flavor, but still very similar to the first cup. I must have steeped it just the right way with the increase in time & temp to get it that way. I definitely suggest using three teaspoons for this one since I can see how it would be way too light tasting with only one teaspoon. Very good!

Third steep // Just boiled for 4 minutes. Cup number three had a slight flavor that reminded me of what I would call the Fujian flavor: something like charcoal. But it is just enough to be intriguing… not overpowering. The cup color is now a deep red rather than orange. More malty goodness!

I always thought that the few Fujian teas I’ve tried were so charcoal-like that they were my least favorites. But I’ve learned that not all Fujian teas are the same. I guess every tea IS my cup of tea! Oh no!


“Sadly, I have no way to tell what temp my water is.”
Here’s an inexpensive fast-reading solution you may wish to consider: http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/36677-davidstea-thermometer-and-timer

Terri HarpLady

This is actually the next tea I’ll be drinking this morning!


Oh thanks, looseTman, I didn’t know that existed. Also I appreciated you mentioning in yesterdays tasting note that 8 grams of tea is 3 teaspoons. :D


You’re welcome. The DAVIDsTEA thermometer/timer is cost-effective and very handy for brewing western style.

A more convenient but more $$ method would be a variable-temperature kettle. Here’s one example: http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/39130-bonavita-1-liter-variable-temperature-digital-electric-gooseneck-kettle – very helpful for Gongfu brewing.

8 grams of tea is 3 teaspoons is correct for Bailin Gongfu. However, the same weight of a larger leaf tea might have a larger volume – more teaspoons. I just purchased one of these to eliminate the uncertainty and to insure brewing consistency.

Thanks for recommending ZTL EG Cream. We’re enjoying it.


Wow, tea can be a science, I guess! I just have a mug. haha. Yes, I knew that meant 3 tsps of the Bailin Gongfu and other teas would be different. But it’s nice to have a ballpark guess now. Also, I realized because of this that I may have underleafed many of my Teavivre samples, so it’s my mission to steep those correctly pronto. (Like this tea needed 3-4 teaspoons and I previously would have thought that was too much.) I’m very happy you liked Zentealife’s EGC! They are one of my favorite tea places!


I probably should get a scale someday too – I am probably underleafing and overleafing all the time. I tend to just use my “perfect” teaspoon, which I think is about 1.5 of a regular teaspoon, and is totally inconsistent with various tea densities. :P


I purchased a scale because some tea suppliers specify grams instead of teaspoons and I have no experience estimating grams of tea. I’m also not a big fan of ambiguous terms scant, generous, heaping, 1-2 tsps., etc. With the cost of some of the better teas, I don’t want to waste tea with an incorrect guess that yields weak or overly leafed tea – obviously something to be avoided. However, I suspect some very experienced tea lovers are able to accurately estimate grams.

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I brewed 8 oz. of Bailin Gongfu Black Tea western style with 2 tsp. exactly as recommended: 3 steeps: rise, 1m, 2m, 3m at 185*F. While I enjoyed the rich light chocolate / cocoa flavor, this tea was light-bodied. All three infusions were enjoyable and very consistent in body. I also tried a 2m first-infusion and it too was light-bodied. There was no hint of bitterness or astringency.

The following day, I received our new digital scale. I then brewed some Bailin Gongfu Black Tea using a full 8 grams of tea. Out of curiosity, I then measured the 8 grams with a teaspoon and found that it equaled 3 teaspoons. Even with this much tea leaf, I still found this black tea to be light-bodied.

Impression: A high-quality rich silky smooth black tea with a light chocolaty flavor and a caramel-like sweetness for those who enjoy lighter-bodied black teas.

Thank you to Angel Chen and TeaVivre for their gracious free sample of this high-quality tea.

Correction due to new scale: What I thought was 8.0 grams was actually 80 grains. I was in the incorrect weight mode due to the very small font used for the grain abbreviation (gn). Using a Grains-to-Grams conversion, the actual weight was 5.2 grams.

185 °F / 85 °C

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I did not care for this Dragon Well. A friend gave me a sample and it did not taste like the Dragon Wells I’m familiar with. This Dragon Well seemed vegetal/floral. All the Dragon Wells I’ve had have had more of a vegetal/chestnut flavor which is what I look for in a good Dragon Well. Other than that, I feel like the look and quality of flavor was there, just not my type so I won’t rate this tea.

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My window is open and there’s a cool breeze trickling over the music that softly plays in the background (City and Colour). The sun has set and the darkness is like a worn-in hoodie or sweatshirt you wear because you like the way it feels as it hugs you when no one else will. There is a couple walking down the street. I can hear their sneakers scrape on the pavement and the occasional laugh and murmurs of conversation. A man and an woman. Just taking a walk together at night. So beautiful. It’s one of those nights you take for granted. The simplicity of it. The pureness of it.

It’s over between us. It hurts. We’re trying to be friends but I think it’s harder for me than it is for her. “This too shall pass” and all that but. Man. It just hurts sometimes.

So. That’s where I am drinking this tea. I said on my first ever Steepster review that SN is a tea to be enjoyed alone and thought about. I still stand by that. There’s something intimate about Silver Needle, isn’t there? The untouched, unaltered, pure state of the leaves. White tea, more than any other, to me, is the best friend of the tea world. Like a shoulder to cry on or a friend to listen to you complain or to just sit in silence with you, SN is the solitary tea drinker’s tea. A rainy day tea. A blanket and book tea. A contemplate existence tea. A write tea reviews at night with City and Colour playing in the background trying to get your mind off her tea.

Sigh. Tea me.

I’ll just go out and say it: this is one of the best Silver Needles I’ve ever had. And I’m not saying that based off limited experience with SN’s. I may have acquired 30+ teas on my shelf but I drink SN the most. Its my second favorite tea of all-time (Dragonwell holds that honor).

The liquor is pale and clean. A quiet, golden tint; a flawless hue of simplicity. There’s a calm cedar-like woodiness, almost like whole-grain bread that peaks its head through the light veil of sweetness. There’s the hay-like taste. There’s the tangy deepness. There’s even a little spark of spice on the second infusion. There’s the smile on my face.

I have found my definitive Silver Needle. If you want to experience what white tea truly is and can be in it’s purest form, buy Teavivre’s Organic Silver Needle. This is absolutely fantastic.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec

hmmm i may need to try this one with my next order


I happen to read your review tonight, and it is bringing me to tears, cause at this very moment, I know exactly how you feel… thank you for these beautiful words.
(and City and Colour just adds to the mood)


I think of alpine pools of water flowing over granite. ICY! Pure and clean. Pine trees reaching fingers upward to the heaven’s and a welcome solitude. May your heart heal with love from many strangers and friends…good tea and great silver needle.

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