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Recent Tasting Notes

Free sample provided by Teavivre for review

Many thanks to Angel and Teavivre who contacted me about doing another round of reviews. The shipping was REALLY FAST this time-8 days to my door! And of course, practically before I opened the box, Angel messaged me to make sure everything was okay with the shipment. Teavivre is really on the ball and I love it! I received approximately 16-21 grams of every tea in individual foil bags all inside one large re-sealable foil pouch.

This tea is first up, it being a Keemun (which I really enjoy) and a new tea being offered by Teavivre.

The dry leaves are long, a dark chocolate brown, and twisted to be very thin, with just a couple of light brown leaves mixed in. The scent is very fruity, similar to some FF Darjeelings, but without the accompanying “weedy” smell.

First Steep (Infused One minute @195) The liquor is predominantly orange with touches of red and brown. Brewed leaves smell more fruity and a little floral-a bit like a Ruby Black. Flavor is smooth with a fruity finish. No smokey or chocolate notes really. I did catch a couple tannins while splashing this around the back of my mouth.

Second Steep (Infused for 2 minutes) Brewed leaves are really starting to smell like a Ruby Black now-according to my notes, that means a little malty and a little of some type of mint. The flavor is weaker. I’m catching just a tiny hint of smoke and chocolate. Tannins are a little more noticeable. Mouthfeel is almost light.

Third Steep (Infused 3 minutes) Brewed leaves smell more like Ruby Black than ever-crowding out other notes. The tea is now starting to taste a bit like Ruby Black, although overall the flavor is weaker.

As always, this is a high quality tea from Teavivre. If you have wanted to try Keemun, but are afraid of smoky notes, this is your tea. However, if you really enjoy the distinctive smoke and chocolate notes, you may miss that with this cup.

195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Another very flavorful, fragrant, jasmine tea from Teavivre… but this one is green!

Thanks again to Angel and the team! Or wait, did I buy this one? Hrmm. Ah well, thanks to them anyway!

Compared to the pearls, I think this one is just a little bit less awesome. The jasmine is much stronger in this than on the pearls, and the green tea seems a little less delicate, a little stronger.

Missy and I both prefer a tad more subtlety in our jasmine teas, so I believe we’re going to be sticking with the pearls. However, this is a very strong contender.

195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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This was a sample (to Missy!) from the wonderful Angel and the Teavivre crew.

The first thing you notice about this tea is WOW, JASMINE! It is very heavily fragranced, they definitely do not skimp on the jasmine for this particular batch.

The tea itself brews into a beautiful, placid, lightly yellowish-green color. You think for a second that maybe you haven’t brewed it long enough. Especially when you pour it into a big red mug!

The flavor is a really strikingly powerful sweet jasmine flavor, with a secondary flavor that sits somewhere near golden apples. Sweet and fruity, powerfully so. Beneath that, there is a lightly hay flavored, dry white tea taste, with a hint of that brushy-pepper aftertaste that I associate with many white teas.

Overall, a very tasty brew if you’re fond of jasmine. I think I prefer Teavivre’s jasmine pearls to this, but in general I would prefer most green teas over white, methinks.

And after one 2-minute brew, these leaves barely look touched. You could easily go two or three brews off these babies.

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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Deep breath…Here goes my first puerh!! I am excited! Thanks to Teavivre for the sample!

I snip open the sample packet and take a deep whiff. Very surprising! I was greeted by a wonderful savory, mushroomy, brothy aroma. The anticipation is really building now, I absolutely love mushrooms!
I measure out 4 teaspoons for my 12 oz glass cup and set the water to boil. I rinse for 15 seconds; pour off and steep for one minute.
The liquor smells much like the dry leaves. It is a very dark reddish brown. My mouth is watering!
I take a sip. And another. Right now it’s so hot I can barely stand to sip it but I can’t stop myself. It tastes like it smells- like buttery mushrooms. Actually reminds me of the mushroom onion soup they serve at Japanese Hibachi restaurants. Without the onion.
As it cools I am getting less sautéed mushroom and more earthy mushroom. This is my first earthy tea. Interesting! The more I sip, I like.
Whoa..the next sip the broth factor really amped up. It is salty and nummy! Holy carp, and there’s a savory juiciness that stands up as the aftertaste.
This tea really reminds me of something and I can’t pinpoint it! It reminds me of home, i think. Home cooking in Minnesota..visiting Grandpa and Grandma at the northwest angle..eating Grandpas amazing food outside next to Lake of the Woods..I think I have it. It tastes like my Grandparents’ log cabin smells. And it really reminds me of a wonderful fish soup a Laotian friend made me once. The liquor isn’t fishy tasting, but for some reason it brings me there. I think it’s the saltiness.
2nd steep: 1:45 seconds. It’s pretty similar to the first steep ( which is good) so I am going to try an experiment with sweetener and milk. Which is unusual for me, I almost always drink my tea plain nowadays. …I like it with a bit of raw sugar, the sweetness is more in the aftertaste. Now for the milk..and it’s delicious.
Well, I’m pretty happy. I won’t rate it until I have had the opportunity to try more puerhs. But if you’ve never had puerh before, and you like mushrooms, try this!

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Someone please educate me: I see puerh often described as sheng or shu. Anyone know if this tea falls in one of those categories?

Invader Zim

Raw puerh is also know as sheng puerh, what you have is a ripe puerh, aka shu. I can’t tell you much about puerhs, I’m just attempting to dip my toes in now. Here is a link to a discussion that may help you out for shu puerh:


Here is one for sheng puerhs:



Thank ya!


This pu’erh tea we sent to you is Shu

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Time for the second steep. I actually lowered my steep time on this for two minutes. The flavor didn’t change that much. It felt more like sucking on a potato. No sweet flavors to my tongue at all. So I tried putting a little bit of sugar in my cup. It didn’t bring out or cover up any of the flavors. It was a little sweet but not that much.

The more I sipped on it, the more I realized that I was starting to get a case of “numb tongue”. My tongue was starting to go numb and that is never a good sign. I think it is just too much ginseng for me to handle.

I want to thank Teavivre for sending me a sample to try. It was interesting, but just a miss.

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This tea is interesting. I have never had any ginseng tea before. The only reason I know what ginseng tastes like is because I have had the Arizona green tea with ginseng before. I used what came out to be 2 teaspoons because the first teaspoon and the last teaspoon were half spoons.

I brewed the first steep for 3 minutes. It is a light color and doesn’t smell like much. I had this with some Nature’s Harvest veggie crunchers and I think that is bringing out a more savory element to the tea. The aftertaste is very ginseng. There was a while there where I started to taste some pepper. I let it cool down and that is gone now. Cooler the aftertaste is less sharp and the tea is smooth on the tongue. I think I’ll wait a while before making the second and third steeps on this one.

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Shou pu-erh. It just always triggers something in my memory. It’s the taste of a dim sum restaurant. In my mind, pu-erh is a noisy crowded place filled with the scent of greasy foods and pungent sauces. It’s sitting at a table with my family and a small cup of some dark harsh liquid. Needless to say, the tea was pretty subpar. They servers simply fill a pot with leaves and boiling water. Then they set it at the table. The first few cups are always too light. the last few cups are always too dark. Then the pots are refilled with water and it’s a slightly better brew. But with the leaves they tend to use, it doesn’t get that much better. Until a certain age, my grandparents would just get me a can of soda. Then I learned I could just ask for jasmine or chrysanthemum tea and it was better. So the pu-erh of my youth was not really a good example of this illustrious tea. Yet every time I have a shou pu-erh, even a quality one like this offering from Teavivre, I always remember those dim sum places with my family. and that sub-par tea. The flavor is so familiar to me I don’t even notice what tasting unless I really think about it. All I get is memories.

If pressed, I’d say this tastes like autumn leaves. There’s a leather-y flavor and a smooth sweet finish. And that’s all I’ve got. :) I think shou pu-erh isn’t really my thing, but I think this is a good one. From the few sheng pu-erhs I’ve tried though, those might be worth exploring for me.

Thank you, Teavivre, for this generous sample!


You know, at least you have a memory associated with it. Save that memory for when you’re a grandma. Pull out some Pu-erh and tell the story to grandkids of having dim sum with your family. The scene will come back and you can relive that part of your life if a vivid way!


True! I wonder how well loose pu-erh ages. I don’t think I’ll be a grandma for at least 20 years, probably longer. I’d hope my kids won’t be having kids so young. Then I’d have to wait for them to be old enough to have caffeine-ful tea. So another 6 years? Then they’d get a sip or two. Don’t want caffeinated kids running around. Yikes! I guess I’ll purchase some newer pu-erh when the time is right. :)


I just saw some 1994 listed online. I had kids at 20, my daughter married at 20 and had a daughter at 21 who’s now 18 and would love to be married and a mom. I’ve decided that I don’t want to be called great grandmother. I will be called Bonnie The Great. I’m too young to be great grandma.


I’ve heard that pu-erh in cake form ages well. I don’t think I’ve heard much about loose pu-erh though. As for age for having kids, I guess it’s a personal thing. My mom had her first kid at 20 and I think she always wished she had waited a few years.
I think we can start calling you Bonnie The Great straight away! You could change your username. :)


At 40 my son was 20 and my daughter was 16. By 42 they were on their own. Great adults! I’m young enough to do fun things with the grandkids like drink tea and took a cruise to Alaska with one and went to a hookah bar. We do concerts and so on.


You sound like an awesome grandma. :)

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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.

195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 45 sec

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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.

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec

One of the best!

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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.


Hooray for you!!!! I thought I was along here making Iced Puerh! It’s really good and satisfying…and I like this one too! I like to take this in the car when I’m running around town because it keeps me from being tempted to stop and eat something and blow my diet!


A couple of times I have cold brewed some leaves that still had staying power. I was surprised to find I quite liked it that way!


I figured that you might…you have good taste Amy!

Charles Thomas Draper

This was the brewed tea. I tried to cold-brew Puerh before and it was’nt that good. Black teas also. I will save cold-brewing for greener teas….


I DON’T cold brew it I use a gaiwan or brew basket then brew how…let it cool down and bottle. If it is too strong I sometimes dilute a bit and sweeten then bottle.

Jim Marks

I love shou iced, but I brew it hot and then pour it over ice. Because shou brews so strong, it works out very well and an interesting sweetness comes out.

This shou from Tea Vivre is surprisingly good — as are many of their teas.

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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.

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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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.

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

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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.

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec

I have come across a few Chinese restaurants which seve cheap Jasine tea instead of Oolong, but only a few.


I agree Jim that this is a very nice Jasmine. I have another favorite from Puripan that is what I look for. Delicate non-perfumy jasmine and a forest pine needle tea essense that is cooling in the mouth and tingles. Sometimes I am in the mood for this type of tea.


A friend said they all sell jasmine tea where she lives. Unfortunately, ours here serve cheap, black tea in bags. PLLLLLLLL! :P

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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.

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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.


Do you use a particular curriculum, or do you make your own? I am researching a couple years early for my toddler; are there any curriculums that you didn’t like?


In the early years, I found the little books from Dr. Ruth Beechik very helpful – A Strong Start in…various subjects. She shows how you can teach your children without spending a fortune on a curriculum. ( Some require text book, teacher book, quiz key, test key, quiz book, test book…and that is for one subject!) You Can Teach Your Child Successfully was a great book. To teach mine to read, I loved Alphaphonics and very much disliked the Abeka style of teaching reading. They do it backwards, in my opinion. I loved Saxon for math, very thorough. For a philosophy of the way to teach, read The Charlotte Mason Companion: A Reflection in the Gentle Art of Learning. Using the narration and dictation methods worked wonderfully for us. And if your child is male you may especially want to read Better Late than Early, a great book on the different rate of development of boys and what they need and when. For the early years, I loved Learning Language Arts through Literature – great program and works beautifully with the Mason method. Later on, the Abeka curriculum offers the most demanding, most thorough grammar and composition program you can get. All of my children are very good writers, and I credit the toughness of that curriculum. It was recommended by a professor at The College of William and Mary as being the best and hardest be out there, so of course, I bought it! :) There are thousands of great choices!


I need to take your Stampin Up course by correspondence!


That would be fun! Maybe we could Skype you in sometime! :)


Thanks for the info! :)

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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!


It’s awesome how you’re spreading the tea love, ashmanra!

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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!

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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!

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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….

Cameron B.

Adorable, tea party under the Christmas tree! :D


Wow, that’s impressive! Kudos to her for being so open-minded. It took me quite a while to try pu-erh, and yep, can’t say I am a fan haha.

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