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Recent Tasting Notes
I decided to make a cup of tea today and this oolong won over my other oolong that I got from the fantastic people at Teavivre. I brewed the water and took it off the heat as soon as I heard the slightest noise come from the kettle, exactly as if I was going to be brewing my green tea.
I put one sample packet into my french press and did about a 15 second rinse on the leaves. Then I steeped my first cup for two minutes. The liquid came out a very light tint of yellow. I wasn’t expecting it to be that light in color. It had a very light sweet scent. At first it didn’t taste like much, but it did have some sort of flavor.
The second steep was three minutes. The color was slightly darker and the taste was slightly stronger. Strong enough that I could taste fruit in the tea. What? Fruit in a non-fruity tea? This is amazing! Sweet and fruity. If I knew that, I would have saved this tea for the afternoon because it is really light. I’m not sure how I like it yet, but I have three samples left and I am more than willing to try it again.
I probably still have a good two steeps left in these leaves, but I’m going to save them for later. The leaves don’t have that much liquid left in them and I have the plunger down on my french press, so they should keep until the afternoon.
From what I read, this is similar how you treat an oolong when you make it in a gaiwan. But how else can you steep the tea? Is it possible to just throw it in a mug and steep it without it coming out really bitter? If it is then it would be a nice tea to drink throughout the day in classes.
I saved the last of this sample so that my fiance could try it too. I learned the importance of eventually getting a “fair pitcher” so that we get even flavors out of my press. My first cup was a little bitter while his was light and sweet. The flavors went back to normal for the second cup.
I am sad that this sample is gone, but I am happy that I was introduced to such a yummy type of tea. I will have to try some more Fujian blacks in the future.
Mom was watching me very closely when I made my first cup of this tea. She was fascinated by the loose leaf brewing process and she said the tea looked really dark. I offered her a sip and she took it and made a face. It was too strong for her. Which I find really funny because I only brew this at 3 minutes.
She did say she would like to try more of my teas, but she is afraid of my black teas now. This will be an interesting expirament. Maybe I will try her with the last little bit of my rose black tea.
Backlog #8: I was drinking this and all of the sudden it hit me! This tea tastes almost like the bubble tea I was drinking obsessively when the Chinese Club was selling it. The base is a medium body with just a touch of a caramel. Not much, but enough that I can tell it is sweeter than my Yunnan. I need to try this in a latte now and find out if my hunch is right.
My Teavivre samples came in! I am so excited. I managed to pick this one to try first because it is a different black than I have been having.
For having such a short steep time, the tea came out surprisingly dark. It has this nice toasty aroma to it that is making my mouth water. I am slightly sleep deprived right now and head deep in literature, so I might get a little flowery with my description later on. Or I might not, but I figured I would give warning just in case.
I think I might have gotten the water a little too hot for the first steep. It tasted earthy and black. A pleasant taste, but kinda flat. It could be because it is a new tea to me and I’m just not picking everything up right now.
The second steep was better. I brewed it a few seconds longer and I started to get a hint of caramel. The water was cooler at this point. I’m thankful that Teavivre sent such a large sample of this tea because now I can play with it and get my brewing method down for me.
I’m too full of tea right now to try for a third steep. I think the tea might be able to take it though. It is good, but I’m going to wait to rate it until I get a few more cups of it under my belt. I’m going to use a little bit cooler water next time. I wish I had a variable temperature water kettle, but I’ll stay with my stove top kettle for now.
Edit to Add: the last of my cup was cold by the time I drank it. Cold enough to make me think that this would be a really good lightly sweetened iced tea. Like a two serving bottle of tea with a teaspoon of honey dissolved in it kind of lightly sweetened. That would make an even better iced tea than our normal iced tea.
I love the aroma as this tea steeps. It smells fresh and earthy, like walking through a forest after a rain. The flavor is also earthy, but my tea vocabulary is too lacking to describe the tea well- I’ll leave the description to more experienced members. The tea’s aroma is so prominent that it is a true part of the drinking experience- I love it.
I am so very grateful to Teavivre for this sample which I am long overdue on reviewing. I tried it over a month ago when I was just getting over a cold and didn’t get a great tasting from it, so I wanted to revisit it to give it a fair rating and review, and just . . . got distracted. It’s horrible of me but here I am now, hoping that a good solid review helps make up for my faults.
I did two steeps of this one tonight, both with water that was filtered through a Brita since my tap water can be fairly chemical. I followed the package instructions for brewing temperature, amount, etc., for the first steep. This meant a 90 degree C steep for one minute. The colour of the tea was a light yellowy-green, and my first sips were . . . not much flavour at all. In fact I got halfway through the cup and still hadn’t much flavour. Knowing that second steeps are always the better, I dumped the rest of cup one and eagerly went on to cup two.
This time I did the same temperature but for twice as long, this time two minutes. The tea was the same colour but slightly more intense, which left me hopeful. There was definitely flavour here this time. And as I sipped more and more I got floral notes.
Now I’m still fairly new to straight teas, especially whites since quality whites can run top dollar sometimes. And while I am extremely grateful for this amazing sample from Teavivre it has helped me realize that Bai MuDan teas just aren’t going to be one of my favourite types. It wasn’t until tonight as I was sipping this one that I put together the Peony in the english name with . . . floral. Stupid of me I know, but truth! I’m not a big jasmine fan so I’m not surprised to also not be a large fan of peony, but I wish it was different since this is clearly a quality version of the type of tea.
I’m not giving it a rating since it isn’t the tea but my tastes that would give it a lower number. Again, a huge thank you to Teavivre for letting me try this tea!
Another sample from TeaVivre.
Leaves are whole, long as they should be. These aren’t handcrafted premium Taiping Houkui leaves, but quantity-produced, decent looking stuff. Colour varies from fresh grass to darker seaweed, stored properly.
Dry leaves smell like dry grass, I get a surprisingly strong association of Japanese green teas. Something oceanic here.
Taste of the first brew is surprisingly thick, somewhat slimy, or swampy. Not unpleasent, but not something I’d expect from a green tea. I guess it’s because this isn’t exatly fresh anymore. My water was also cooler than necessary.
Second brew, with warmer water, brings more natural results. Fresher, this time I associate vegetality with jungle, rainforest maybe. Still far from fresh orchid garden I expect from TPHK, this is going that direction.
Third brew doesn’t bring anything new out.
Overall, I’m slightly disappointed with this tea. I wasn’t able to get out much more than “usual” green tastes, this isn’t very strong example of Taiping Houkui. Although leaves look fairly well preserved, I’d say this tasted much better nine months ago.
TeaVivre sent me some samples of their greens from last year.
When I received the package, I was quite impressed with labels. They have marked down production dates and manufacturers! Bag also had some storage and brewing instructions, and it was nice to note that wulongs, greens, white and blacks had distinctive shelf lives. Aluminium bags with TeaVivre’s labels contained smaller, sealed bags used by manufacturers.
This is fairly cheap, and judging be the leaves pricing seems fair. These aren’t strictly Mao Feng, bud and leaf. There are some lower leaves, some leaves have a bit of oxidation, some twigs etc. Leaves are generally whole. Leaves are fairly long, making production date (5/20/2011) seem realistic.
There seems to be two major tastes whirling around here. Weird, little ill-balanced round, almost milky taste, which changes into a light vegetality. I didn’t like the initial milky taste, and the vegetality should have been little stronger to balance that out, methinks. Aftertaste is fairly pleasant, round and soft, if slighly uninteresting.
Overall, I think this is fairly priced, quite decent tea. I have had a couple of casual glasses of this, and those I enjoyed a lot. Now that I sit down and drink this properly with focus, tea feels lacking in many ways. Then again, which green from 2011 isn’t now? This isn’t top tea, but TeaVivre isn’t asking a price of such from this. I would be happy to recommend this for a casual drinking, and I have very positive image of TeaVivre now.
Second tea of the morning…….
I received this sample a several weeks ago from TeaVivre and have been putting off reviewing due to my seasonal allergies. It is hard to taste things very well when your sense of smell is off. I am a little sad it is out of stock, but am hopeful that there will be more for the next season.
This is nutty, and more vegetal than the Premium Dragonwell. There is the slightest hint of bitterness, but it works to cleanse the palate. It is a surprisingly refreshing tea, and there is not a hint of aftertaste. I would never have guessed that the lightest amount of bitterness could work so well in ones favor. It can be a good thing, when in the right amount. I am sure it will be a great resteeper, and I will thoroughly enjoy the sample. I hope to add a few more notes on this one because it is so interesting how flavors I thought were not of interest to me actually are! Thank you, again, to TeaVivre for the opportunity to sample this one.
190 water, about 2 tsp tea in a 15 oz mug. 3 minutes. No additions.
This is a major backlog as I have been SO stressed lately I can’t even handle it.
I still have a lot more left of this from the sample that Teavivre sent me (thanks again!), and so I’m going to have to re-drink this and write a review for it because I honestly don’t remember that much about it.
I remember it being pretty bold with a nice strong base (a little malty and grainy) and a fruity essence (very wine like, more savory fruit) that kind of grew up from it. It also had a nice smoky background to it that kind of lingered in the background.
It was pretty good but I’m going to re-review it with more detail.
So… this is some exciting stuff. This is my first ever Puerh. and i didn’t know rather to be excited or intimidated by it. It is wonderfully malty like the yunnan blacks i have had and so much more dark… almost like a cup of coke. Dry, it smelled a little fishy. Brewed is is a wonderful thing. having said all of that. i’m not even sure if this is the same tea as the teavivre tea. The packaging look identical so i kind of assumed. None the less, amazing.
Thank you Tommy for my new Fixation.
This tea really is a tiny bit of heaven on earth, huh? I almost feel funny drinking it on a mere weekday morning. Perfect amount of jasmine – and a wonderful pastry jasmine — not perfume-y at all. The green tea is excellent. It’s beautiful to behold the pearls when you open the tin. It smells wonderful before, during, and after it is steeped. Again, I don’t do ratings, but this is so, so, so a 100.
Oh my goodness, why did I wait so long to try this tea?!?!!?
I finally had an empty tin, so decided to transfer my generous sample from Teavivre into it, and I was greeted with the most wonderful fragrance imaginable! Sweet jasmine, but not perfumey or overpowering. Nutty isn’t the right word, but sort of a depth to it, too. It made me want to drink some as soon as possible! So this morning I made myself a whole pot of coffee so I wouldn’t have Caffeine Issues and could enjoy a green tea (I wish I was kidding).
This is so. good. It’s floral and rich, but the jasmine is so balanced with the green tea. I taste tea. Good tea! No bitterness, and none of the funny tastes I haven’t learned to appreciate yet in a green tea. More of a creamy taste. I am so impressed!
The pearls are also very beautiful.
I’ve made two steeps so far (the second one even lovelier than the first) and I can see at least two more this afternoon.
Thank you SO MUCH Teavivre. I’m in love!
Tea of the late morning……
If I had to choose one pu’erh to have in my cupboard, this would be it. When deciding how to approach the pu’erh samples sent to me by Teavivre, I decided to save the most expensive for last. Price in tea is usually a pretty good indicator of desirablilty, and in this case for me, it was very true. The price difference is enough that I would want there to be a significant taste improvement over the one with the lower cost, and this tea definitely delivers.
The smell of the dried leaf is less earthy than all of the pu’erhs I have tried (we are only talking about 7 or 8 total…), but only slightly different than the Teavivre 2007 ripened cake. I can see the golden buds in this one. The liquor is only slightly reddish, golden reddish like the 2007 cake. The taste is like you would expect from a pu’erh. Mellow, rich, slightly earthy, and this one is sweet. I am sure that is the first time I have used the word sweet in a review for a pu’erh. Kind of a note of honey which is surprising to me. I do love the mellowness and….I am going to call it the clean-ness of the 2005 Fengqing Golden Buds Ripened Pu-erh Cake as well as the same from the 2007 Fengqing Ripened Tribute Pu-Erh Cake. Very little debris from these two even on the first rinse. Nice high quality full leaves. The liquor still has a clear quality to it rather than a murkiness I have experienced with others. And it is the sweetness of this one that has won me over.
Thank you to Teavivre for the generous samples of their pu’erh cakes. I may become a real pu’erh drinker, yet! It is good to know there are pu’erhs out there that I would enjoy. One just has to know where to shop and who to ask. Thank you for your guidance in choosing these for me to try!
Gaiwan, boiling water, roughly 1 tsp cake, 30 second rinse, 1 minute for steep #1, 1 minute for steep #2…and I am sure it will go much longer!
Tea of the evening…..
First of all, thank you to Teavivre for this sample. I have really appreciated the way their tasting activity has made me expand my comfort zone for tea.
Now that I have a gaiwan, it is much easier to test this kind of tea. I am definitely still new to pu’erh, but I have to say this has been my favorite so far. It could be that I am finally getting better at preparing it, too. Leaf smell is very earthy, but more like the garden smells when you are planting, rather than a barn! I used what roughly looked like a tsp of leaves. I rinsed them. First steep was 1 minute, second was about a minute and a half. The liquor is more golden brown that I would have expected. The other few pu’erhs I have tried definitely had more of a dark reddishness to the tea. First steep smells of hay, but tastes earthy and very mellow. Really, the taste is somewhere between strong black tea and a porter beer. My very first pu’erh tasted of dirt, but this is not anywhere near the same. Earthy and warm. It has a heavy mouthfeel, and there are no small bits of debris like I have had from lower quality tuo chas from other companies (maybe I did not rinse them very well in the beginning…like I said, my preparation has improved, too). I am drinking this after a not so healthy dinner, so it is definitely helping calm my stomach. Second steep is a little stronger due tot he longer steep, but just tastes a little more intense than the first cup.
I do find it interesting that this one seems so much more mellow than the 2010 pu’erh that I recently had from another company. I did ask Teavivre for a beginner’s pu’erh, and I do think this is a good place to start.
I have been feeling a little bit “off” for a couple of weeks now. I am pretty sure it is from too much holiday food combined with getting off of my exercise schedule during the holidays and now trying to put it all back together. After meals I feel especially strange, so I think my digestion needs some TLC.
I turn to puerh tonight to see if that will help. This is the my very last tuo cha from Teavivre, but I do have two kinds of their loose puerh left as well as the beeng Cha I got from Mandala in December. This was actually sent to me by AmyOh way back, but since it is puerh it has only been getting better!
I gave this a 30 second rinse, then a one minute steep. It is nice and dark. I immediately made another one minute steep and combine the two in my fair cup. It is still quite dark. The flavor is rich and the floral aspect muted. The taste is not fishy at all, and very horsey. I think of piles of leaves and mushrooms, nice and earthy.
I will probably go three more steeps on this tonight.
Edited to add: final steeps were so good. The tea seemed to get a thicker mouthfeel, that thing I call a cedar oil coating. It feels so smooth.
I still have a few of these left, sent so generously by AmyOh. My daughter and hubby wanted to drink some puerh last night and so far Teavivre has been hubby’s fave, though he had not tried this yet that I can recall. I made three eight ounce steeps and poured them all together in the larger pot. Both liked it very well, and I am reaching that point where I had better order soon because the night time pot of tea is becoming a ritual and I am getting really low on puerh!
Maybe my palate is not very sensitive, but I do not taste anything floral, and I don’t taste chrysanthemum. I do taste a shu puerh that I like a lot and really enjoy. This one is earthy and horsey with nary a hint of fish.