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Recent Tasting Notes

Sipdown, 125. One more sipdown in, yes! Gongfu session.

To me, this is a pretty nice shu puerh, but it doesn’t stand out too much. It is a lot sweeter than a lot of other shus that I’ve tried. This one is woody, with a good bit of earthiness. It is one of those puerhs that really reminds me of a barn… The wood, the dirt, the leather, a bit of hay and sawdust. And sweet. An interesting tea, but not my style. Thanks again to Teavivre for this sample!


go you! with your sipdowns :)


You are my sipdown inspiration :D

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Last night there were too many margaritas, too much mexican food, and too much ice cream, and now they are all having a war in my stomach. I have heard numerous times that puerh is supposed to be good for upset stomachs, so I decided to give this a go, finally. I’ve had this sample for quite a while now, and must apologize to Teavivre for only now getting around to sampling it. The truth is, I’m still a little afraid of shu puerh. But onward!

I remembered why as soon as the water hit the leaves and I got a kind of slightly seaweedy smell. Just now I am realizing I should have rinsed them once, but I didn’t. Ah well. Fortunately any fishiness has gone away after a full steep, and the liquor is opaque and dark as night. It smells like sawdust, pretty much spot on.

The flavor is amazingly smooth. Not a hint of bitterness or astringency, and a thick, luscious texture. It is, also, lightly sweet. The main part of the flavor is earthy, saw-dusty (though without the feeling of ‘dust’), woody. As far as I can tell, its a very nice example of this type of puerh. Not fishy or off-tasting, just smooth and relatively pleasant. I just am not super into drinking earthy sawdust, heh. It may be settling my stomach (hard to tell), but hopefully so!

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This was one of the free samples I received from Teavivre.

Writers’ Group meets at my house every other Thursday. On some of the first meetings, I hesitantly offered tea because I didn’t know if they would like it. They loved it, and now it is a very big part of group. We drink VAST amounts…so much that I got to use the new German phrase I just taught my daughter (we homeschool), “Ich muß pinkeln.” No translation needed, yes?

I asked one member if she had any special requests for tonight, and she said she wanted the tea that makes her tummy feel better. A couple of weeks ago she told me that she has a lot of digestive issues and usually has a lot of trouble eating meat as she just can’t seem to process it. Then she noticed that she could eat almost anything for several days each time we had tea together.

So tonight’s tummy tea was this! She and I sniffed the dry tea. She was a little scared as it had a really horsey smell. We both like shu puerh though, so she didn’t mind trying it. We actually steeped it western style in an 18 ounce pot, and I think we ended up making 6 or 7 steeps.

The liquor was dark, as in almost inky! It looked like I was handing out cups of coffee. Everyone looked a little scared at first, but everyone loved it. The horsey aroma was absent from the steeped tea and instead there was a nice, earthy puerh taste. The tea had a lot of body, which in a puerh comes across to me as a cedar flavored oiliness. It coated my mouth. There was little aftertaste, but a real sweet, smoothness following. The man in our group, whose wife is Asian and drinks more bitter greens that he doesn’t care for, remarked on the sweet, smooth taste of this, and said he liked how there was no bite at the end.

The first steep was about one minute but the second went much longer as I got distracted. The remaining steeps were all between one and two minutes. Even the forgotten steep did not get bitter or unpalatable. This is a very forgiving, very nice puerh, and I am glad my friend (Hi, Marshain!) is going to have a happy tummy for a few days.

Thank you, Teavivre! This was lovely, and I look forward to the remaining sample!

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Mmm I do like my wuyi rock tea! This is no different, roasted slightly smokey oolong. I only got two infusions out of this cause I had it at work…might try a third for the fun of it now and see if there is anything left. I am hoping to do a side by side comparisons of my wuyi rock teas one day soon, but until then I do enjoy this tea.

ETA: third steep it’s still going strong! Taste: more floral less toasty.

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This morning I got a call from a friend who lives in Charleston. She was here in town and wanted to meet for lunch. I wanted our time together to be special since it is not often that we see one another in person.

We had lunch at my house and I had youngest make some muffins for our dessert. I got out the aroma cup set that Teaave sent. Seriously, you would really enjoy one so order it ASAP!

My friend drinks coffee in the mornings and sweet tea in the afternoons but doesn’t really like hot tea. She had tea with me once and said she was amazed at the difference in taste when you have “the good stuff.”

This tea didn’t disappoint me using the aroma cup set. We smelled the dry leaves – faint, vegetal, a hint of sharp. We smelled the dry leaves in the warmed pot – more intense sharp and vegetal aroma, root vegetable. Then the steeped tea scent from the aroma cup – magnolias and a tiny hint of gardenia!

She loved the experience and the tea! We made six steeps in all, one liter, and each steep was so sweet and floral. She couldn’t believe it didn’t need milk or sugar. The golden color persisted and leaves were expanded impressively by the time we had to say good-bye.

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I saved the leaves from my first sampling of this sample sent by Teavivre for review. I almost didn’t want to use them because the first steep had been so amazingly good that I didn’t want a watered down version of that experience. But today I decided to give these leaves a go and see how they held up.

Oh joy! This is every bit as good as the first steep! And keep in mind that I am making this western style. The tea has a naturally floral quality that is just magnificent.

Here is how I pictured it. Imagine being flustered and distracted and busy, and then an elegant, gracious woman takes you by the arm and leads you to a chair. At her first touch, you feel calm. She gives you a cup of tea, and as sip you become like her – elegant, calm, poised, controlled, focused, peaceful, and gracious.

On my shopping list!


Does it taste like Juicy Fruit? :)


That sounds amazing. I really need to get back to them for some samples I have been wanting to try.

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The girls wanted to have a little tea time together today since the pound cake was sitting there looking tantalizing. I thought this would pair pretty well with it, but I don’t think I will pair this tea with sweets, or much of anything else again, because it is too awesome to let anything distract you from it.

This is a free sample from Teavivre and I have to say thank you thank you thank you! That is how much I enjoyed it.

The liquor was paler than I expected but when I lifted the cup the most amazing aromas came to me; flowers, yes, but something else. A fruity scent almost like sweet lemon candy that has no puckery sour taste. Oh my, oh my oh my. This is good, and I am normally a fan or roasted TGY or buttery oolongs.

This pot of tea gave me the very same sense of calm and peace and sanity that I get from Teavivre’s Jasmine Silver Needle and Jasmine Dragon Pearls.

Excellent. Wonderful. Having some more.

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This is a free sample from Teavivre. Thank you, Teavivre!

The last time I had this tea, it was at bedtime and shared with hubby. This time, I made it as our HUGE pot to accompany Asian buffet takeout. I steeped the leaves in a 22 ounce pot using two of the sample packs, then resteeped and poured all together in my biggest tetsubin.

I tasted a sip from each steeping. The first was much as I remembered it – light, clean, and fresh. It was so light I was afraid I had under leafed. The second steep was left a little longer and was definitely stronger, much stronger than the first steep.

The two steeps combined made an excellent accompaniment to our meal. I had some rather “heavy” and seasoned foods: dumplings with that sauce, lo mein, mushrooms, etc. So as mild as this tea can be, I was shocked when I first picked up my cup to sip. The tea that had seemed so mild had so much flavor and was so cleansing to the palate! It was quite a shocker, and I enjoyed using it between courses to get ready for the next dish. It was not astringent or sour, though. Very good tea!


Interesting review! I don’t always consider that perception of a tea can depend on the foods it is paired with.


I find that cheese is wonderful with tea. It can really make it taste so much sweeter, even when you haven’t added a thing to your cup. And chocolate is great, too, of course!

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I have not had tea for the past few days because I was sick. I am so glad to be getting back to my teapot and my calming evening cup of green tea!

This is a sample of the 2013 harvest sent by Teavivre. Many thanks!

When I made this tea, the kitchen lights were all out but one, so I saw the dry leaves only dimly. Everyone was getting ready to head to bed. After it steeped, it wouldn’t have mattered if all the lights had been out. The leaves were such a vibrant green they would have lit the room. They were so beautiful – fresh, alive, and crying out that they were the newborns of spring!

The aroma was of soft spinach, no hard or bitter edges. The liquor was a much paler color than I expected after seeing those electric green leaves.

The flavor is mild and smooth, nothing harsh or biting is to be found here. There is almost no aftertaste, which is having the effect of making me drink more and more because I want to keep experiencing the flavor.

Hubby came in after I had already finished two cups. He poured himself a cup, then another, and was about to pour another but the pot was empty. I asked if he wanted a resteep and he said, “Yes, please!” I made the second pot and he drank a cup and told me he had to go to bed now. He left the room and was back in less than three minutes pouring another cup of tea.

There is a mineral freshness to this along with the vegetal flavor, rather than the butteriness sometimes found in a vegetal green. My mouth feels so fresh and clean, yet there really wasn’t any astringency. I have really enjoyed these two pots of tea tonight, and hope they go a long way to rehydrating me!

Thank you, Angel and Teavivre, for these beautiful samples!


Sounds awesome Ashmanra! And it seduced the hubby, impressive :-)


+1 what TheTeaFairy said. Glad you are feeling better.

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Mmmm, This is such a great tea. Its my first straight white tea that I have purchased. I thought from what Id read that white tea was all very delicate and subtle, which made me worry that this tea would lack much flavor or be just too delicate for me. Was I ever wrong. It smells like Hay/spinach/forrest ie)very earthy. It steeps to a nice pale yellow color. It tastes so silky smooth and almost syrupy(i read this in another post about this tea). This is my before bed, late night, calm down tea. It is just sooo calming to sit and have a cup, or two, before bed. Another A+++ tea from TEAVIVRE


That just be why I wasn’t a fan… “Hay/spinach”


Yeah, you seem to be a more Sweet/sugary tea fan…this would definetly not be up your alley.


I’m starting to appreciate good quality straight teas but not the grassy sort :)

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I received a wonderful box of samples of the 2013 harvest today from Teavivre. Thank you!

Hubby and I have not had our bedtime green tea lately. We’ve been a little out of sync schedule-wise, so tonight we set that straight.

He really has been enjoying green tea though he is still rather new to it and says he really can’t describe flavors yet, but tonight he said “vegetal, I definitely get that this is vegetal.” He agreed that there is also a hint of butter and a nice toasted flavor. And this was just bursting with flavor! We had five steeps of it, and I have saved the leaves because I think I can get a few more tomorrow.

This is an excellent Dragon Well. I liked the first one I ever had. It was purchased from a tea shop not far away. For some reason I never finished that bag of tea, but when I tried Teavivre’s Dragon Well last year I had to order. This one is every bit as good as last year.

Hubby drank right along with me and kept refilling. He said he found this green tea particularly smooth and drinkable. I, too, found it smooth and easy to drink, and on one steep that went a little long there was a hint of root vegetable flavor (not strong enough to be unpleasantly astringent) that blossomed into sweetness after the swallow. Nice!

Thank you, Teavivre, for the samples! I look forward to trying all of them!


Can’t wait to try them all!

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The best tea I’ve had all week. I want to drink this every day. Jasmine teas have never worked for me before. They all made me think of cheap shampoo. But this one is lovely. It feels elegant, refined, transporting me to a fine Chinese tea house. Nice, warm base, and just the right amount of jasmine.


I love every single jasmine tea they make but one, and I plan to order it as soon as I sip down a few more teas. It is so soothing and focusing, I feel so eceful when I drink it.


You’re so right! Soothing focusing peaceful feeling—perfect description. This tea gave me a few moments of feeling centered during such an odd week.


You inspired me to have a pot, and it was a sip down!


Excellent! My good tea karma for the day! Hope you enjoyed it!

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I love this tea! This is the best jasmine tea I’ve tried to date. First the smell soothes you, especially if you’ve had a stressful work day. I’ve been reading about the benefits of tea and wanted to try a white tea. My best friend suggested I try this tea and I’m in love. The jasmine is distinct but not overpowering and the white tea is a good choice when I want something light. It has a sweet flavor and I have no need to sweeten the tea. It’s very satisfying after a meal when I’m craving something sweet. It’s not going to replace my sweet tooth for chocolate or cheesecake but when I’m determined to skip my sweets this is a wonderful indulgence. Definitely worth buying and keeping on the favorites shelf :)


Yay! So glad you love it as much as I do! We should place an order soon!

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This tea was a surprise as it exceeded my expectations. It’s absolutely awesome: deep, malty, sweet, no bitterness with caramel undertones. Highly recommended!

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LOL! I accidentally put this review under the Organic Silver Needle White Tea instead, which just underlines the fact that I’m so not ready for this. Hahaha. Oy. Here it is:

I drank this.

I don’t think I was ready for it though. I will keep my last two samples for later in the future when I might (hopefully) be able to appreciate all the subtle nuances of a fine tea such as this. I really didn’t get much flavour out of it.

I’m not going to rate it because I don’t think it would be a fair rating.

Big thanks again to Teavivre for the awesome samples!

(90 degrees for a min or two, I forget)


This tea is awesome. Just got 100g of it. I thought white tea was more weak and subtle….I didnt find it with this one at all. how long and what temp did you steep it?


As per their directions! I need more flavour for myself, just didn’t cut it for my tastes.
Maybe if I’d started off drinking straight tea, but I’ve been spoiled by flavoured ones for years.

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The tiny rose bud that was on the top of the tuocha was super cute plus this tea was on sale so how could I resist? I’m a big fan of tuocha format because it’s so convenient and I like to watch the nest shape to unfold.

The taste is sweet and smooth. The rose flavor is very faint, it’s rather floral notes in general that I can detect.

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I steeped this in a normal glass cup.

I wasn’t paying attention to the flavour of this one when I was drinking it; I steeped it to show a curious friend what a flowering tea looked like more than anything else.

The initial 2 minute steep was quite nice; it made a gentle and floral cup that even my friend enjoyed. The second steep was not so great. I should have poured it out after a minute and no more because the the thing got bitter in a ‘meh’ way really quick. Oh, well. Friend decided this was a good point to poke, prod, and dissect the flowering tea so that was the end of that. It was pleasant while it lasted!

Time to watch some Doctor Who and figure out what Devin Townsend songs I want on my iPod (the great internal debate).

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OMG you’re a Devy fan? I was so angry I had to miss his concert with Gojira earlier this year. It is definitely a huge debate.


Yep, Devy’s a favourite of mine. I’ve only seen him twice, most recently at the beginning of September when he toured with Katatonia. I’m not really cut out for gigs or mosh pits but it was a lot of fun! I couldn’t justify the January concert with Gojira and regret it a lot.


I was SO upset I had to miss Katatonia. I had a late class that day and a class the next and would have been impossible. How was it? Katatonia are actually officially my favourite band so it definitely hurt. That’s the crappy part about living here; it’s quite isolated.


It was fun, but also rushed and I wasn’t stoked about the set lists. I was familiar with Katatonia’s releases but they weren’t something I put on too often prior to this concert; they sounded great and it made me appreciate them more. They were promoting Dead End Kings, with only two songs each from the latest three albums, and one from Last Far Deal Gone. Devin didn’t play anything from or before Addicted except Vampira/Bad Devil; all Epicloud and Deconstruction.


Ah, not surprised Katatonia played mostly their recent stuff. I mean, I like their newer stuff, but am definitely a Discouraged Ones/Tonight’s Decision/Last Fair Deal era fan. Luckily when I saw them in Sweden last year, they played Last Fair Deal in its entirety. I almost wept with joy since it’s my favourite album.

I’ll admit that I haven’t even given Epicloud a listen yet. Too bad about him not touching that much older stuff, but maybe it’s more a technicality thing, like only promoting DT Project stuff.


That sounds like an amazing experience! Sweden and Norway are high on my travel list. Was that for an exchange?

I haven’t given Discouraged Ones and Tonight’s Decision a fair listen, and am still familiarizing myself with them. When I discovered Katatonia late in the game (around TGCD) I was initially put off their earlier releases by the difference in sound production but that’s not an issue anymore.

I like a majority of the DTP material and I’ve given Epicloud a lot of playtime since its release, but it isn’t my favourite. There are some excellent vocal moments from both Anneke and Devin though.

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I am a huge fan of this tea’s liquor. When using my gaiwan, as soon as an infusion is poured out, the liquor is a bright, vibrant red. Yet, intriguingly this tea oxidizes extremely quickly. If looked upon for fifteen to twenty seconds or so after the pour, the liquor darkens and fades into a more ruddy brown-red coloration. The transition is quite striking and has a color range that is much broader than most other hongcha I am familiar with.

Otherwise, I am also a fan of the aggressiveness this tea brings out in the flavor. It is both expected and consistent throughout steeps and reminds me of the ol’ Zhu Rong of Verdant Tea, but with smoke instead of spice. It provides a robustness that requires a certain mood from the drinker, when something brisk and perhaps a bit rude is desired. But it’s not a complete brute. The flavor transitions into a mouthfeel is nice and savory, with a salty feeling in the aftertaste.

My main complaint is that the leaves are far too potent and abrasive to enjoy their aroma properly. In this case, the smoke is exponentially more powerful than the leaves themselves, creating an imbalance. However, if I remember correctly, this tea was surprisingly lasting across multiple steeps, without a major loss of smokiness in the later steeps. I believe up to eight was common.

I had a few sessions of this Western style, but concluded that I preferred it much more in a gaiwan.


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The processing seems to have treated the leaves well—they look nice and the “roasted” aroma is light and adds nicely to the overall scent. The dry leaf aroma is clean, of dried fruits, and slightly floral. This dan cong reminds me a great deal of Jing’s phoenix dan cong, with higher levels of florals and less pronounced peach notes in the liquor’s flavor. Smelling the wet leaves after the first steep takes me back to my early days of drinking loose leaf teas (Jing’s phoenix dan cong was one of my first). Hints of guava mixed with the regular floral and wood-charcoal aromas. At this point, the leaves are still tightly raveled, but reveal that characteristic green/red/brown coloration dan congs tend to have.

The liquor possesses a nice, light amber/peach liquor coloration, becoming progressively darker into the middle steeps. Always very clear, though. Excellent liquor aroma: sweet, floral, hint of inoffensive charcoal. Body is smooth with faint sparkling characteristics.

When it comes to the flavor, I have noticed that fewer leaves treat the brew better with this tea. When I really load up the gaiwan, I have difficulty finding balance between bitterness and flavor, even with cooler water and extremely short steep times. It was either way too bitter, or there was no bitterness paired with no complexity as well.

Anyway, when the parameters were acceptable, the flavor really shined. The first few steeps were sweet and buttery, with nectar and honey flavors and an aftertaste of peach. Astringency was minimal if steep time was in check, and a nice kuwei, or throaty bitterness, was present in the second and third steep. Yet, as with many dan congs, the infusions of this one become dull, flat, but very sweet, after around the fourth or fifth steep. At any rate, this is certainly one of the better “generic” dan congs.

205 °F / 96 °C

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I have, “A definitely good hongcha, this one is,” written in my tea journal for one session with this Dian hong. While I can’t comment on my Yoda-esque prose I seem to have adopted that day, it adequately sums up this tea. It’s a mid-grade Dian hong, possessing fair amounts of both black leaves and golden budsets, and it certainly shows in the cup. While I prefer the all-buds Dian hongs, I both enjoy and respect the qualities brought out with the blend. That Yunnan “peppery” flavor often becomes lost with the higher grades or mutates uncontrollably with the lower grades, shows up in just the right amounts in this tea to blend nicely with the strong sweetness and dark, fruity aromatics. For the last session, I used the remainder of my sample, which took up between a third and a half of the gaiwan. It produced a far more complex brew, but most notably intensified the pepper-fruit interaction. I was excited about this, because I am usually unable to receive decent results with a large amount of leaf when it comes to Dian hongs. The texture usually ends up being too thick and muddles the more subtle tones somehow.

The aftertaste and mouthfeel are thick and starchy, giving rise to that “yam-like” perception often received from this type of tea. It’s always something I look for with Dian hongs, and this one does it fairly well. The aftertaste in this one, however, often becomes a bit salty and it if overbrewed at all, it is difficult to get past the maltiness, especially in later steeps when many of the initially interesting flavors have considerably declined in intensity. The liquor is also noticeably murky, but seems to clear up after the first few steeps.

205 °F / 96 °C

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