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Recent Tasting Notes

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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I am feeling particularly blessed this weekend. I don’t know why other than that I have taken time to think about it. I am feeling more energetic now and more like myself since all the surgeries. I have family that I really enjoy being with. I have a miniature farm in my yard, and I always wanted a garden and chickens and a good dog. We have good food to eat, and lots of desserts right now because it was hubby’s birthday over the weekend. I have nice people in my life like K S, whom I have never seen face to face but who sent me some of this tea because he knew I loved it and it is sold out. There is a lot to be thankful for, and that is only the beginning.

I think I really started feeling this way when we had our birthday dinner and had tea afterwards. First, my son’s new-ish girlfriend wanted to try Hot Cinnamon Spice tea, and she loved it. Then I found out that my son, who used to hate ALL tea, has gotten her drinking puerh, and when he asked if we could have some after dessert I was thrilled. It is so peaceful to me to sit around the table or even on the floor with a kettle and make steep after steep of a good puerh, filling and refilling the cups. And this time, we were joined by…YOUNGEST DAUGHTER! Yes! She gave up sugar and milk in her tea a couple of months ago, and is now trying lots of new kinds and broadening her horizons. And she liked it!

This is the puerh I usually gave people who were drinking it for the first time. It has the trademark characteristics found in most shu – horsiness, earthiness – but none of the bad traits like fishy odor or bitterness. The creamy cedar note in this one is what endeared it to me so. You get the rich earthiness with the aroma of horse barn – mmmmmmm! – and then that bright spot that still manages to be mellow.

Something about drinking puerh with family and friends feels like an extra special bond to me.

I have much to be thankful for.


Just great, I enjoy tea with my son too. Hopefully they will appreciate tea habits even more as the years go on, both as a family tradition and for well-being.


Lovely review :]


Very nice! good to hear you are well!


See, this review was worth the last known bit of this tea on earth. lol Glad I got to be a part of your blessed day!

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Someone I knew many years ago has been back in touch and had expressed an interest in trying puerh tea. She came today to get some eggs so we sat down for a quick gong fu session before she had to head out of town.

When people tell me they don’t really like tea or that they are afraid of puerh, I like to start them with this one. It is just so good and smooth and sweet! She really liked it and wants to know more. This is probably my all time favorite puerh.

She told me that her son-in-law has a Yixing but she doesn’t know what he drinks, just that he grew up drinking tea and his mother was very much into natural remedies and such, so I got a handful of Teavivre samples together and sent them with her for him to try,an d I am sure he will share a cup or two with his mother-in-law! I can’t wait to hear how he likes the teas I sent. I love introducing people to Teavivre. :) They are amazing!

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A dear friend from Charleston is in town and I picked her up to have lunch with me today. She has mentioned in the past that she really only likes sweet iced tea but I knew she has never tried any unusual or high quality loose leaf teas. So I made lemonade to go with lunch but asked if she would like to try something special for after, and she was game.

Guess what? She loved it! I used my small porcelain teapot and resteeped about eight or nine times. She was so surprised that the tea didn’t need sugar. I made it really strong, which is how I like it, because she said she likes her coffee strong. The first steep was pretty dark but I didn’t do a rinse so the leaves were not opened up all the way.

I had added about 1 1/2 teaspoons of loose tea to the pot and just set the Krups pot on the table. Yes, the water is cooling the whole time, but I have never found it to adversely affect the taste of the teas I do this way.

The second steep was nearly black and had a lovely earthy flavor. No horsey, no fishy, no shrimpy. The cedar oil taste is my favorite part of this tea.

The last steeps were medium dark and the cedar flavor was joined by a pristine mineral taste like primordial dew. Oh my goodness, I love this tea. I keep watching the website because it has been out of stock for a while, but I will positively be ordering more when it comes back.

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This is my favorite puerh without a doubt. If I have a new guest coming to tea and they say they already like and drink tea, I often serve Harney’s Paris or some other flavored black that I feel is a sure thing. If they say they drink coffee and don’t really drink tea or know anything about it, they get this!

A few days ago, a lady I haven’t seen in five years posted that she needed feed bags for a project. I offered her mine and told her to stop by when I have time for tea. She said she didn’t really drink it and to surprise her with something unusual and adventurous. I made this!

When she arrived she told me that she normally took her coffee with milk and sugar, and that was how she had tried her grocery store greens that she dumped out. But she tried this puerh with nothing added and nearly swooned. She loved the cedar-y flavor, the smoothness, and the creamy mouthfeel. We had about eight steeps and honestly, I think the last was my favorite. We swished it around and such a sweetness and bright yet mellow flavor was there. It was pure delight.

This is one of the teas that must ALWAYS be on hand.


Interesting – onto the shopping list it goes.


This one is so good! I only have one serving left, and I’m hoarding it. Sadly it’s out of stock.


I’ll have to dig mine out when I get home. I haven’t tried it but it’s in my cupboard!


Sounds great!

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My son, my godson, and my son’s girlfriend all came to stay for the weekend, and my son asked if he could grill and invite a friend he knew from church. The friend asked to bring several family members and it ended up being a really fun day with some really nice folks.

Hubby does not eat cow because he doesn’t like the texture of beef, so I was pretty happy that my son was grilling portobello mushrooms to serve like burgers. They were delicious!

While we were waiting for the food to be ready, I started talking to the two young ladies, who turned out to be very curious about TEA! Yay! We talked and talked and talked about tea, and when they said they were adventurous and had never heard of puerh, I decided we had time for a gong fu session with this lovely tea.

The first steeps were inky black, because I like my puerh strong! I did not rinse and we started with one minute steeps or perhaps a little longer. They said they could detect the aroma of mushrooms, and had a lot of fun experiencing the changes in color and taste of the tea. We got seven good steeps before the color and flavor had weakened too much to enjoy.

I have invited them back since they were interested in lots of different types of tea. I hope they will take me up on the offer!


Oh, there are so many things I like in this review!! Family and friends gathering, people interested to learn about tea, sharing about tea knowledge, and let’s not forget Portobello burgers, yum! What a fun day it must have been :-)


Oh, it was delightful! I am so glad my son invited them and glad that his friend brought so much family along, because I think it made everyone feel more at ease because no one felt like a stranger! I will have to keep that in mind for future events. This was our first time aging portobellos and we loved them! I think they will become a staple. The girls were typing notes about Teavivre and Steepster into their phones when they left, so I hope to see them here soon, as well as at my house for more tea!


Love it.

Josie Jade

Sounds like a wonderful day!

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Last night I steeped these leaves for one pot of hot tea. Then, thinking about Bonnie’s puerh reviews, I put the leaves in my Bodum iced tea pitcher, filled it with filtered water, and out it in the refrigerator. By the time I was ready for bed, the water in the pitcher was as black as cola and even had bubbles along the sides that made it look carbonated. I decanted the first cold steep and put in more water to see what would happen.

When I got up this morning, the second steep was still pretty pale so I poured a bit in a glass and it was very weak though good. I added a bit of it to that ultra dark first steep.

I tried a glass of that mix, and Oh. My. Goodness. This is the most refreshing thing I think I have ever had to drink in my life. Sometimes a fine white or green tea will have a taste of snow melt to me. This is a whole glass of icy cold fresh pure snow melt with the loveliest aftertaste. Pristine. I really really want to do this some more. This is going to be amazing in summer heat.

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