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Recent Tasting Notes

I woke up very bleary this morning, unexpectedly, and actually drank coffee for the first time in a long time.

But as late morning begins to drag on towards lunch, it is time to settle into something softer, so here I am with the last of this free sample and it is just right.

Hopefully it will settle my stomach a bit before it is time to eat.

I am surprised I like this tea as much as I do, but I really do.

Boiling 1 min, 30 sec

Did you still taste bell pepper and roasting pan? I tasted toasted sesame seed and some honey…grass at one point.

Jim Marks

No, brewing it this way has produced a radically softer cup. The first two steeping were very sweet, from the ginseng coating, but now that it has washed off, the liqueur from the fully opened leaves is very much like a tieguanyin.

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Because I messed up my steeping on this last time, I was anxious to get back to it, but I wanted to give Liz a chance to sample it as well. Now that she has, I could come back to it.

Much like the jasmine silver needles, the key word here is “balanced”.

The sweet coating which brings the ginseng to the tea does not produce a cup of candy. The first two or three cups are certainly sweet, but you can still taste the tea well enough.

I’m up to steep five or six now and the leaf is starting to take center stage and there is very little sweetness left. The leaves themselves, once hydrated, are huge, and deep green and they produce a bold, amber cup. This is one of those classic Chinese oolong which is practically a green tea. There is a strong presence of the roasting pan heat beneath the green bell pepper bitterness.

There is a bite that wants to creep in, here, but short steeps are keeping it at bay. This strikes me as a tea that might not do very well with Western steeping.

Again, not a tea that I could see ending up in my daily rotation, but as a medicinal throat soothing tea, I don’t see how you could ask for better than this.

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

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I have finally discovered the right treatment to masque the floral notes of green oolongs.


On the one hand, this is sweet. Not a leaf with a sweetness to it, but actually sweet. I assume part of the ginseng treatment involves a sugar of some kind. This is not just on the tongue, but there is a burnt caramel sugar aroma both in the cup and from the liqueur.

Alas, I radically over steeped my second cup. :-(

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

I loved this. My friend disliked it a lot. The ginseng reminds me of how licorice root makes me feel in the throat soothing herbal blends.

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Backlogging from this morning: i realized I hadn’t tealogged this one today when my youngest daughter walked by and said, with great depth of feeling, “Mom, we have GOT to get some more of that smoky tea!”

This is the last of my free sample from Angel and Teavivre. Thanks, guys, you are making me break my tea buying ban, but I am hoping this doesn’t count because it is really for my child! (yeh, right!)

We started back to school yesterday and this morning as soon as we opened the geometry book I said, “I am going to HAVE to have some tea! Smoky?” And daughter said, “Oh, yes, please!”

Middle daughter said she couldn’t have made it through Algebra II and Advanced Math without her London Cuppa. I think youngest and I will be swilling through quite a few pots of Lapsang to get through geometry. She has only had it for two days, but already says it isn’t nearly as fun as Algebra. Sigh. I hope this doesn’t mean it’s gonna be a loooong year!

The most remarkable thing is that I asked her if she wanted me to order this or her beloved Baker Street that is almost all gone. She wants this one! Wow! Teavivre, that is amazing, in case you didn’t know! So, oh well, I guess I have to order some tea tonight! It’s for school….


Your daughter has great taste! :) Good luck to her in geometry! Math and I = FAIL.


@Azzrian… me too. I believe math is evil.


I loved geometry. Maybe it was because I learned it from Pathagorus… It was a long time ago.


Math is evil logic is magic!


I don’t even know how many cups of tea I drank while studying for my college statistics course. How I passed with an A- is a mystery to me because I had no idea what I was doing on the final. It must have been to tea. :) Your daughter is developing great study habits. hehe


K S: I read your comment to my girls and they almost sprayed their snack all over the table. Youngest said, “Like a boss!” This is apparently a very favorable thing for young people to say! :) You didn’t, by chance, meet Euclid, too?


Ashmara: Euclid – no he had the big head by that time and wouldn’t talk to us mere mortals ;) I use geometry everyday. I can see where it wouldn’t be a favorite for most people.


The sacrifices you have to make hey….lol


My college stats class was so long ago, the college used punch cards that we had to feed into a mainframe. Oh Yes. One small mistake on a card and you were like a detective trying to figure out what mark on the card was wrong. I did interviews for the class at the San Jose Flea Market (HUGE). It was one of the dumbest classes I ever took!


Oh Bonnie, I hate to admit I had a punch card class. We all knew it was the biggest waste of time. Then I took a class where we had to write a Fortran program to draw a circle on the screen. We thought we were so cutting edge. Let’s see, use a compass – draw a circle in a few seconds, or write a program taking several minutes to do the same thing. But that was just the beginning. Baby steps. Oh The good ol days.

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This is a free sample provided for review by Angel and Teavivre. Thank you!

Breakfast is a simple affair in my house. A piece of whole wheat toast or an English muffin for me, toast or waffles for the girls. Sometimes we just have grits. With waffles we drink milk, but everything else is accompanied by milk with Nesquik.

Today, we are out of our homemade whole wheat bread, out of English muffins, and almost out of grits. I opted for waffles and when I thought of the maple syrup somehow I couldn’t get Lapsang out of my head as a great go-with.

I did drink milk with the waffles, but this wonderful tea was waiting for us and I could hardly wait to get to it. Just as sweet and salty go together well, I have been enjoying sweet and smokey together.

Youngest and I are the only ones drinking tea on this rainy morning because middle daughter started community college today. I am really excited for her! I think she is excited, too, because she has been handling all the details without being asked; getting her ID card made, picking up her parking sticker, going to the bookstore, seeing her guidance counsellor, going to bed on time to adjust to the new schedule, buying an extended alarm clock app to guarantee that she won’t be late. Sniff, sniff! We plan to have a nice, hot pot of her favorite, London Cuppa, waiting for her when she pulls up at lunch time!

I did not look at the instructions BEFORE making this. It says to use 2 teaspoons per cup, and I only used one per cup.This is still very good and certainly strong enough to enjoy, perhaps because I gave it the extended 2 minute steep instead of cutting it short to one. I still have a bit left so perhaps I will make a cup of it with 2 teaspoons and see how it changes the taste.

As is, the body is light, the smoke is medium, the tea is sweet, smooth, and delicious!

Thank you, Angel and Teavivre!

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This is a free sample that was provided by Angel at Teavivre.

This is my first time serving this tea at tea party day. I wasn’t sure how it would go over. My guest likes coffee, dislikes puerh and ginseng teas. Where would smoke fall in that? She had a Hunan Golden Tip that I thought was pretty smokey once but she said she didn’t pick up the smoke.

I served this as a companion to more peach dumplings today. We were experimenting with Vietnamese and Chinese cinnamons to see if we liked them better than the Ceylon Cinnamon of last week. I needed a tea that was bold enough to sip beside the sweet dumplings in the syrup without getting lost, yet would hopefully pair well and play nicely.

I must say this did very well. My guest liked it, and youngest daughter, she with the great love of Baker Street Afternoon, said enthusiastically, “That was GOOOOOOD!” She is contemplating making another pot of it right now, so I guess I have found one more tea that needs to go on my next Teavivre order! I think this is the first time I have really noticed a Lapsang leaving the smokey taste alongside the sweet tea base, and it was very good. My guest and I agreed that this would be heavenly to drink while sitting by a crackling fire on a rainy, cold night.

Thank you for the opportunity to try yet another of your great teas, Teavivre!

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When I first started getting into loose leaf tea, there were two types of tea that frightened me. One was Lapsang and the other puerh. I am pleased to say that I conquered my fear, got past the smell, and like both very much now!

This was one of the samples in my latest box from them, and since my youngest daughter loves smokey tea I thought it would be nice to try it together on the patio with some Kerrygold Dubliner cheese.

One or two lapsangs have really turned me off because they smell like an ashtray. Having grown up with smoking parents and keeping a cough most of my young life, that is a bad association, plus cleaning the ashtrays was one of my chores. O.o

This Lapsang reminds me a bit of Upton’s Baker Street Afternoon Blend in the aroma. This is a sweet, bacon-y smoke, like maple bacon perhaps. It was an excellent match for the Dubliner cheese. But where I find Baker Street to be almost chewy because of its taste texture, this one is lightr bodied.

I don’t like biting, astringent tea, not even to get me going in the mornings. When I want a tea that asserts itself enough to get my attention even while foggy headed, or just because I want something more bold, I think Lapsang is an excellent choice. This one has the right kind of smoke for me, a sweet, food-y smoke. The tea base is sweet, mild, and tasty. No sugar or milk is needed to mask astringency or to add flavor and I can enjoy it plain. My youngest daughter takes all of her tea with milk and sugar, and she enjoyed it that way, so it can handle additions if you want them.

Thank you, Teavivre! This made a lovely start to our day! I am resteeping it now to sip on for the rest of the morning.


The LS lovers the better! I am so waiting at the door for mine to arrive…(looking out the window)….


After I finish my Earl Grey snit I think it’s time to play with the smokey ones…


I applaud you for conquering your fear. Maybe someday soon I will join you, just not today.

Jim Marks

I actually think that shu style pu-er is the best tea to use to get former avid coffee drinkers to consider tea. Very dark, but very mellow, as well. A good “cross over” even if it is the oddest of teas.


Shu puerh is what got my oldest kids started drinking tea!

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I am going to preface this review with two facts
1) Black tea and I aren’t the best of friends
2) I brewed this with boiling water, for a long time and with an ordinary travel mug and a drawstring tea bag, so not ideal brewing conditions for a high quality tea, and I will try again once I have time to do it properly!

Now to the reviewing… I found it to be too strong for my liking (although it wasn’t bitter, which is my number one put-off for black tea). I may have brewed it for too long, I often get distracted at work and forget about my tea just waiting for me on my desk! Anyways, I didn’t get any of the caramel flavours that others did, it was just strongly vegetal for me, and not my favourite flavour. I am going to hold off on the numerical rating until I have a chance to brew it properly and mindfully and then record right away, as this rating is coming from my morning cup yesterday.

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I realized that I have been hoarding this and I really don’t have to since I have another tin already. I feel TERRIBLE and decided to give myself some special tea today. We all have colds; coughing is pain and sneezing is pain because we have coughed long enough and hard enough to make our muscles sore. I wanted the good stuff for breakfast. And Eggo waffles with butter and warm maple syrup.

This is smooth and sweet. It is milder than the Zen Tea Keemun that I dearly love and have been having lately. It goes well any time of night or day. I would add milk and sugar to the Keemun if I wished, but I would never add anything to this. It wouldn’t be right, and it wouldn’t be proper treatment of this tea to me.


Mmmm, tea; uggggh, cruds. Take care of yourself!

Christina / BooksandTea

Good thing you have a bunch of this ready to go! You deserve the good stuff.


Oh no, hope you feel better soon! And a wonderful tea to help with that.

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Almost all gone! NOOOOOOOO!

We served this as the first tea of tea party today. It was paired with a homemade whole wheat Devil’s Food cake with cream cheese frosting – the one in the new Penzey’s catalog for those who get that. They were scrumptious together. I told my daughter, “Save those leaves!” on this one because after these are done, I only have enough for one more pot!

Thank goodness, I will probably be placing another order soon and these are back in stock last time I checked. As I get my stash whittled down, I might buy a few staples.

The sad thing is I have a whole bunch of tea that isn’t even listed on here because I can’t read the labels! They were purchased in Brussels or Amsterdam and the names were handwritten on stickers on the bottom of a collection of cute little sample tins, and some of them I can not read at all!

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It is taking me a while to get everything logged this week, but this was the first tea served at tea party on Wednesday. It was the Queen of the tea party, too. This is delicious stuff.

We made it western style. I think we used about fourteen pearls in a 22 ounce pot. I served it first because I felt that its rich, cocoa notes would cut the sweetness of the baked peaches and ice cream. This is not astringent nor is it in any way sour, but I have trouble describing the rough, tongue scraping quality of unsweetened cocoa that I get from this. It is a highly desirable trait to me in this tea, and I find it in some Keemuns as well. This type of tea has the body and taste to stand next to pretty much any food, and is especially good with sweet things to me. Some green teas cleanse the palate with an astringency that turns to sweetness after the sip, but this clears the palate without astringency. It is so…..present! I don’t think I could absentmindedly drink this tea. It became a cupboard staple from the first taste of the sample Teavivre sent.

My guest and I agreed that this was the best tea of the day.

Terri HarpLady

I need to place a TeaVivre order for some of this…when I get more money…maybe in July…

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After having Loaded Baked Potato Soup, I served Italian Cream Cake. I didn’t make it! A friend sent it to me and it came from Sam’s club and was delicious! The frosting tastes a lot like the Bavarian Cream matcha from Red Leaf, but there is also coconut and that adds a lot to this cake.

It is extremely rich, however, too rich for me unless I scrape off a lot of the frosting. I felt that it required a black tea with a lot of presence to pair with it.

I love this tea! I don’t know how to describe it accurately because there is an unusual texture or something that I only know how to describe as…cocoa powdery, and I don’t mean just the flavor of cocoa powder but even a dryness at the same time it was wet. It is not, however, the dryness associated with astringency. I do not find this tea to be astringent at all!

When I drink it, it FEELS dark and rich. Imagine if you put a tiny bit of cocoa powder on your tongue, unsweetened, and it wasn’t bitter at all. It is not a heavy bodied tea, but rather it seems to hang on to my tongue for a moment before I swallow. This is what made me feel it would go well with that rich cake. Again, it needs no milk or sugar, which was critical since this cake is so rich and sweet.

I think it paired very nicely, but it is also wonderful on its own and is great for gong fu sessions, too.

Hesper June

Oh! Baked Potato Soup and Italian Cream Cake! Yummy!


Mail me your leftovers :)


Why is it, I’m allergic to healthy things like potato and beans but not cake?! OK gimmie the cake!


I can imagine how something dark and rich could nicely offset an overly sweet cake. Sounds good.

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Oh my, I am so full of tea tonight. We made four steeps of this tonight. Delicious and chocolate-y as always. I think we tried four different teas tonight. Oof.

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Oh la la! It is still chilly (okay, it is about 52F outside but compared to the eighty degree temps we were having, that is chilly!) and it is completely overcast and drizzly. We have lots of geometry to do and it is puppy sitting day and I had Mountain Dew at supper last night (stupid, stupid, stupid) and hardly slept a wink last night. Time for fortification!

Most of the time when I set out to make tea, I know exactly what sort of thing I want. Today it took a few minutes to figure it out, but I sure picked a winner. I had five pearls remaining from my free sample and that is what I am finishing here, though I did get my own order of it last week, thus I get to click “Add to Cupboard.” :D

These five pearls have given me four eight ounce pots of tea. It is cocoa-y, smooth, and…manly. I don’t know how else to put it. It isn’t strong as in astringent, biting, or drying, yet it has a lot of presence. I am taking it plain, but I think it would hold up well to milk and sugar if such was your wont. It is very good with sweets.

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I saved my little pot of leaves from yesterday because I believed with all my heart that there were a few more steeps in those last five little pearls. I was right. This is still delicious.

I used my little 8 ounce pot and made steeps three and four back-to-back, pouring them into my fair cup. Every since we started back to school, I get so soooo hungry in the afternoon, so I sat down to some teas and Lindt Spring Truffles. The rugged cocoa and malt flavor of this tea is excellent with chocolates. By rugged, I don’t mean rough or brash, think of a ruggedly handsome man who kisses like silk. Swoon! As soon as I can justify it, I need to some of these. But it will have to wait until my stash of black tea goes down a little.

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This is the end of the very generous sample sent by Angel and Teavivre. Thank you!

This was the first tea served at tea party today! And it was the winner! I made two steeps of eight ounces each using five pearls. The liquor very quickly filled the air with a rich chocolate aroma – dark chocolate, to be specific.

The taste is tea and natural dark chocolate with a deep roasty-toasty flavor, perhaps malty. It is so rich! This is definitely going on the purchase list. My guest gave this one a big thumbs up! I may go for a third steep later! I did steep longer than recommended, giving it three minutes because I was in the mood for a hearty cup!

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My oldest daughter came over this morning and we usually drink green tea together. She has never liked tea but started drinking green tea for health benefits a few months ago. I have not been able to get her to take more than a sip of black tea until today.

I made this one just like last night – four pearls in a tiny glass pot, two minutes steeping. Resteeped four times. She drank some of every steep and kept filling her cup. She said it wasn’t her favorite tea ever but wasn’t bad. That is pretty amazing considering that she normally won’t take but one sip!

This is a gentle tea with complex flavor ranging from unsweetened cocoa to honey, I think a bit less malty when prepared this way. It is wonderful, and will probably be on my next order to Teavivre.

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We had a trip to the big city of Raleigh today (they are filming Iron Man 3 there right now by the way!) to help oldest daughter look at apartments. Yes, another child of mine is moving to Tea Land! LOL!

I bought some new cheeses to try at Whole Foods there and wanted a nice tea to go with them. The cheese I purchased was the 1833 Aged Cheddar and an Emmentaler. I wanted a black to accompany them and couldn’t decide what to have until I remembered that I still have a good amount of this sample left. I started to make a big pot, and then decided I needed to treat myself to a real tea event and make this in my tiny glass teapot. I am so glad I did!

I took the teapot to let hubby watch the pearls unfurl with me. My perfect teaspoon had scooped out four pearls, my glass teapot is eight ounces, so I didn’t fill it all the way. The pearls would release little bubbles of air, then one or two slightly larger ones as they began to unfurl. The water slowly turned a medium amber color. Already the aroma is…complicated. This is hard to describe for me. The tea has a dominant cocoa note, but then I think, no, it has a dominant honey note. This is sweet, and at the same time reminds me of unsweetened cocoa. This is a tea with a lot of personality. You may WANT to just drink tea, but if this is the tea, it will arrest your attention. Yet it is not a strong tea, but a gentle one.

I think I will be clicking “In My Cupboard” soon. I have steeped these four little pearls three times now and will do one or two more tonight. This is another winner from Teavivre, and will be making appearances at tea party regularly in the future.

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My new samples from Teavivre arrived today! Hooray! Since my tea party guest loves black tea, I thought this would be a great one to include today. Youngest made all the tea, and I had instructed her to use nine pearls for the pot and go the maximum listed 2 minutes.

The liquor was of a medium amber/orange color. The aroma has a sweet high note that reminds me of honey as well as a hint of sweet potato aroma with a wee bit of maltiness. The overall taste is really elegant. I would consider this to be an afternoon tea, and would have no problem serving it by itself or with really nice daintiest to eat. My guest was really taken with this one, but all three of today’s teas were declared winners! I expect this will go on my next Teavivre order.

I haven’t tried resteeping it yet, but we saved the pearls and I will make another pot soon, I also want to try a longer steep and see if it results in a heartier breakfast style tea.

Excellent! Thank you, Teavivre, for sending this one for me to try!


I got some too!


I also have a sample on the way!


Yay! I look forward to your review! I can’t wait to see how it resteeps, and next time I drink it I think I will use my little glass teapot!


This one is at home waiting for me to have the time…I am very excited to try it!

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Thanks again, Angel!

This is a backlog from Saturday afternoon and……..I really, really, really hope I steeped this wrong. Truly. I don’t even want to put a note out yet, but feel it can pass as my cry for help. Because………..I couldn’t even stand to drink this. It definitely had that fishy smell and it tasted like that. It was just….not good.

I’m not rating or reviewing this until I know I have it right. So this is my call for help. HOW DO YOU MAKE THIS RIGHT?? Please. I’m begging. All of the other Teavivre teas have been awesome so far, and I don’t want to mess this up.


Poor you! The first thing is not to feel bad! I would suggest watching a video about puerh on the Teavivre website (I think they have a video on how to prepare) or Verdant Tea which has a great video on verdant tv. Usually you rinse the puerh first then steep it to drink. It is rich and earthy. At first you might like it as a latte with milk and sweetened if this is how you drink coffee.


Hmm, yeah, I do think milk or cream would do better. I’ll give it a try, and DEFINITELY rinse it next time. I thought about rinsing it, but in the rush of things didn’t do it. I’m not giving up though!


Good! I was so scared the first time I saw the little thing looking back at me like an eye! Daring me to like it! If I didn’t read up and watch a video I probably would never have learned to love puerh! Don’t give up. There are so many..and all different. Shu, sheng…lighter and darker ones. Magical!


I like this tea for its rich, earthy flavor and mellow taste. You can try Bonnie’s suggestion, to rinse the tea first, and then brew it to drink.


I want to chime in here and recommend steeping this in a gaiwan if you aren’t already. A quick rinse (10 seconds) works wonders with Puerh, and then use short steeps in the gaiwan. 30 seconds for the first infusion. 45 seconds for the next.


I don’t have one of those, and/or really know what it is.


A gaiwan is a little cup with a lid, you can look them up on the internets. :)
But I would also agree a rinse is good, plus shorter steeps as LiberTeas suggests.

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I have really liked every Puerh I have tasted from Teavivre. I have saved this sample that I purchased for almost a year, but my best friend came over to try my new flourless chewy chocolate cookie recipe and I thought this would be wonderful with them. It was!

I gave it a rinse because it is such a tight chunk. It is pretty large, more than I would normally chip off for my little gong fu pot. The first few steeps were kept quite short, maybe 20 seconds. I made four steeps, filling a larger pot, and made four more after that. The fifth steep was super dark, really quickly. It tasted great, too. Dark puerh doesn’t scare me, I like it! I saved the leaves because this doesn’t look like it is even close to quitting.

Delicious, refreshing, moist, clean leaves on a forest floor with streaks of sunlight streaming down on you. That is this tea.


I know this was a long time ago, but I don’t suppose you remember that flourless chewy chocolate cookie recipe do you??


These look incredible. Thank you! I will let you know how they turn out.

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I think these are steeps eight and nine.

My son and I are drinking more puerh tonight and I saved these leaves from last night since they still seemed to have plenty of flavor. This is mild and I think it is getting a little sweeter. I am still saving the leaves as I think we have one or two more steeps we can get from these. This sample packet was $2 (it comes two packs at $4) and the three of us have shared it for two days and I see one more day in its future. Not bad at all, and pretty much makes $48 for the large cake a real bargain, especially considering what a smooth, drinkable puerh this is. Again, no horse-y, no dirt, definitely no fish, just clean, sweet, fall leaves.

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