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Recent Tasting Notes
Backlogging from last month.
Thank you Teavivre for this sample.
The dry leaves are dark green, long and thing, and smell like dried out seaweed…not the nasty smelling stuff you find on the beach, more like the kind you use for making sushi. The infusion smells of asparagus lightly cooked in salt and butter.
The taste reflects the smell of the infusion: steamed asparagus coated lightly in salt and butter. There are some notes of corn bread with a sweetish aftertaste. This tea I found to be a bit more bold than most green teas I drink yet it contained no bitterness. Thank you Teavivre for letting me try this yummy green tea!
Second tea of the morning….. (SRP #41)
My computer hates me today. I just lost my review.. Anyway, the short version of my intro is that I appreciate the new way they are packaging free samples. Less waste is always good in my book. Also, I appreciate that they have moved toward putting labels on the small manufacturer packages of samples, too.
This sample was provided by TeaVivre for review. I think I am on my last round of these. This has been so fun! Thank you so much to Angel and her team for introducing me to teas beyond my favorite China black teas.
The leaves are a tight ball and dark green. The liquor is an amber yellow rather than golden like greener oolong varieties. I am pretty sure the leaves are slightly roasted in this tea. It could just be the variety, but there is a light roasty or baked scent as well as flavor. It really reminds me of roasted green vegetables. The notes of butter with the heavy mouthfeel are there, but the roasted flavor is the most prevalent. I generally prefer greener oolongs, but this is good. It lies somewhere between the green and dark oolongs as far as flavor.
Mug method, 2 minutes, 185 water. No additions. Getting ready for a resteep.
I’ve been very fortunate to be able to sample some great pu’erh teas lately. I’m becoming a huge fan of the variety and would now place pu’erh as one of my favorite classifications. At the top of my pu’erh tea list (so far) is Teavivre’s Ripened Aged Pu-erh Mini Tuocha. I was anxious to see how the Mengku Palace Ripened Golden Buds Loose Pu-erh Tea measured up.
I steeped this tea at 212 degrees for two minutes as instructed on the sample package. A rich molasses-colored brew developed.
The flavor of this tea is earthy, woodsy, and leathery. This follows the pattern of the other pu’erh teas that I’ve tried. The taste is somewhat milder than the Mini Tuocha blend. I also found the flavor to have a nice twinge of sweetness to it. As with all of the Teavivre teas that I’ve sampled to date, there is no bitterness.
This is another solid tea entry in the Teavivre family. If I were forced to choose between Mengku Palace and Mini Tuocha, I would have to go with the more robust Mini Tuocha. That does not diminish the quality of Mengku Palace. I’m just a strong tea kind of guy.
I really like this tea!! Thank you Angel for this sample!
I’m actually on my second cup of this and it is sooo good! I have had pearls in other types of tea before (like jasmine green pearls), but never black. These ones seem maybe a bit larger than the other ones, but it’s been a while since the last time I had any tea pearls. I like my tea a bit strong so I used 5 pearls the first time, and 4 the second. Either amount is fine.
They smell very malty and chocolatey, and the taste is very rich and warming. I always add milk and sugar, so that added to the sweetness and creamy chocolateness. But for me, that’s fine. This is an excellent tea and I think it would be good iced…I might look into cold brewing this one over the summer.
I just want to add that I just love watching the pearls unfold in the hot water in my steeper.
Man, a little jasmine tea is good for the soul. Nice and smooth with that fragrant and relaxing sweetness that only jasmine possesses. Not quite as sweet as other jasmines I’ve had, but it’s very good. The leaves are beautiful (albeit not quite as beautiful as pearls) and have little pieces of jasmine petals scattered throughout.
Another sample from Teavivre.
I let this steep for three minutes, enduring the enticing aroma until the tea was done. The end result is a very nice Tie Guan yin: Fruity, buttery, a hint of saffron. I don’t taste any grassiness, but the taste lingers for two whole minutes in the hard palate of my mouth, which definitely marks this as a really good quality Tie Guan yin. I can’t wait to see how it develops.
All right, after several false starts and a few interruptiuons, here is the second steeping for this Tie Guan Yin. It retained most of the flavor from the previous infusion, with the creaminess actually being a bit more prominent, along with nice development of the saffron flavor. A hint of grassiness might have developed, but it’s really faint, and I might be tasting it because I’m looking for it. Anyway, the aftertaste still lingers for a minute 45, which is pretty impressive. I’m liking this tea more and more.
Third infusion, still no grass. The taste has lost a bit of the creaminess it had, and is starting to get a bit weaker. It also only lingers for a minute now, but other than that, it’s still very good. I also want to note here that this tea is MUCH better if you drink it when it’s warmer. If it get’s cold, it isn’t as vibrant. Unfortunately, this is my last cup of the day, since I need to be able to get up for my internship tomorrow, but needless to say I’m going tosavor the rest of this cup.
A big shout out to Teavivre for the free sample of this tea!
It’s been several years since I last had a Lapsang Souchong, and it’s actually better than I remember. I used about 5 grams, and steeped it in 205 degree water for about a minute (I was being a bit conservative). The first impression you get of the tea is aroma: It’s pleasantly smokey, but overwhelmingly so. The tea is also a lot sweeter than I remember, and was really the perfect way to start my morning.
I was looking through my sample box, looking for a green tea this morning, and I stumbled across this one. I can’t believe I forgot I had it!
The dry leaf is a dark-scented, almost like a light Darjeeling. The pieces are small and fairly broken, and although I’m drinking it out of my TARDIS mug (I can’t get over it. It’s fantastic.) it’s a mid-range light yellow.
It tastes the way it smells, sort of a darker green with hints of pepper and cucumber. It’s a bit bitter, but as my tea kettle only does 180 and 212 with accuracy, I had to guess for the 195. It’s good, though. It’s a hearty green.
Another sample from my box from LiberTEAS! I’ve been wanting to try this one for a while so I was thrilled when I saw it in there. I have a sample of the flavored version of this in the mail because I wanted to try something extra milky, so it will be fun to compare it to this once it comes.
The dry leaves are a lovely green and smell so creamy, and they open beautifully—tons of whole, undamaged leaves unfurled! This tea is also a water hog, and the first steep sucked up nearly half of the water I put in there. I was a bit conflicted on what temp I should brew it at, some instructions say boiling but my sample said 170 so that’s what I did for the first steep! It was creamy, silky heaven—floral, sweet, and buttery. It’s a bit apricoty but not really fruity at all if that makes sense, and it’s floral without having a specific flower taste. Very mildly floral, but it’s there. There’s also a bit of grassiness going on, which I love! It’s not milky in an overt sense, but there’s a distinct smoothness here that I associate with milk oolongs. I think the milk part is more mouthfeel than taste.
For the second steep I tried hotter water (190) which I don’t think is ideal for this tea. There was no bitterness or astringency, but the creamy flavors fell away and the grassiness was pushed to the forefront. I liked it, but it didn’t seem much like a milk oolong—in fact this steep read as more of a green (i.e. less complex).
Steep 3 at 170 again was back to creamy goodness, with a more pronounced and distinct floral note than the first steep. It’s similar to the Mermaid’s Kiss, so it’s maybe magnolia? So far this is the most refreshing steep, and the grassy-milky-creamy-floral-apricoty notes seem the most balanced.
For the 4th steep I decided to get a bit crazy—you might have guessed from some of my previous notes that I like to experiment with my tea, and I certainly did something a bit risky with this cup! I wanted a bit more milky flavor, and I have these chewy milk candies from Japan sitting on my counter, so I chopped half of one up and put it in my IngenuiTEA as it brewed. It certainly looks milky now, and tastes more… well, milky! And sweet too, since there’s sugar in it now. It’s surprisingly natural tasting, probably because they are pretty small candies and I only used half of one.
I’m sure there are more steeps left in this so I’ll probably play around with it later tonight. Either way, given the reasonable pricing and how tasty this is I’ll definitely be adding it to the next order I place at Teavivre!
I love silver needles and love jasmine, and this is just the cup of mellow I’ve been needing lately. The jasmine scenting is really well done, and doesn’t dominate the cup excessively; despite how muted white tea can be, I can still tell it’s here beneath the jasmine. The result is delicious; definitely a different caliber than the bagged jasmine tea I’ve been downing at local restaurants lately. This is the kind of jasmine tea I can see myself sipping in a shady tea shop, seated at a low tea table, relaxing as the cicadas hum outside. It’s really refreshing, as a good white tea ought to be, and the jasmine reminds me of a sultry hot summer day. I love this kind of tea in the warmer months; it makes a good iced tea too.
All right, first sample from the new batch from Teavivre. Thanks again, Angel!
This is also my first Dragonwell, so I’m a bit excited to finally get to try it out. I put about four grams of tea in my tea ball. The instructions said to use more, but that was also to make 8 oz. of tea, whereas my mug only holds 6. Anyway, I steeped the leaves for one minute in 175 degree water, and the results were great. It has a very smooth texture, like the aftertaste of a Wuyi Oolong, which seems to coat the tongue and hard palate. The tea also has a delightfully nutty flavor which reminds me a bit of Hojicha, but it’s not as strong and taste more refined. Definitely a great way to start off the weekend.
Alright, second infusion, same preparation as before. The only real difference is that it has lost a bit of the mineral smoothness, which, while disappointing, does not really affect the taste too much. It is, however, a bit unfortunate, because it seems that I won’t get all that many infusions out of this tea.
Tea of the morning……
Even though this is the end of my sample, there is no SRP* count on this because I bought some for my stash. This one has become my smokey tea of choice over the version I had from Upton. It is a little smokier and maybe brothier…..I kind of want to call it slightly bacony. The version from Upton was a great starter Lapsang for me. I would call this a little more in the medium smoke range and could be a little more long term for me…..or at least for 100 grams worth!
Usual teapot method.
*my Sample/Stash Reduction Plan
Tea of the morning……
This sample was provided by TeaVivre for review. (Thank you!)
I decided morning was a great time to try this one. We are in the midst of a slight cold spell…or maybe I just feel like it is a cold spell because it was a sweltering weekend last week. Anyway, a sweet smokey tea was a good match for the weather today.
Leaf is actually kind of fluffy for a black tea. There are even some golden pieces in there! The smell is of smoke and earthiness. I brewed it is with a little hotter water then they recommended (I used boiling, they recommended 195) but I still had a fabulous tea. I get notes of malt, cocoa, and smoke with a sweetness. Since I usually sweeten my hot tea, I ended up with a smokey sweet liquor. Once the tea got in the temperature range for drinking, I noticed that my cup was empty in a flash. That means it is incredibly good. I think I will try a resteep, too. Yes, this goes on the shopping list! I think I will replacing my Lapsang Souchong Black Dragon with this. I do think it is a sweeter tea than the Lapsang from Mountian Rose herbs, too, plus their shipping is cost prohibitive.
Usual teapot method with a 2 minute steep. Lightly sweetened.
Went to bed last night before I had a chance to log this because my computer was acting up:
I finally decided that this tea is just too good not to drink. It’s just my last packet so I think I was trying to make it “last” by not drinking it, but by not drinking it I didn’t get to enjoy it.
I did notice that it is slightly sweeter if you have it with a dessert. I normally wouldn’t have placed it as a tea I would have with dessert, but that slight extra sweetness made it extra yummy.
The only trouble with oolongs is that they last all day. I need to get another french press so I can brew two types of tea during the day.
This is still the same bunch of leaves, but I felt like it needed a new tasting note. My brother just graduated from high school! Yay. He is disabled and we are very proud of him. Even better, he is going to be able to go to college too! I am very proud of him.
We had a big celebration dinner at Moes and this steep of tea is just the thing to finish the meal. It is nice and light with a slight fruity taste now. The sip ends with a creamy sweetness. I think I might have found my new favorite type of tea to compete with Earl Grey.
I left the leaves in the french press. I’m going to check them in the morning and if they still look fresh then I might try to steep it one more time to see if I can get any last drops of flavor out. We are leaving tomorrow for our vacation in Ohio so I probably won’t be on for a week unless I break and bring my computer with me. We will see. If I don’t post for a week then you know what happened.
Whenever I get out my loose leaf I get people hovering around my french press. Then they pretend not to want to try the tea even when I offer. This time it was my brother and after it was done steeping, I told him for the last time that if he wanted to try it then to get out a mug. He got out the mug. Lol.
I keep expecting this to be rich like a black tea but it isn’t. If anything it is more like a green tea. Very delicate with a slight mineral taste that is drying out my mouth. But it has a faint sweet creaminess that keeps me coming back for more. I still have more steeps left to this (I’m only on the second steep) and I have a feeling I will be sharing the other steeps with my brother. I don’t mind though.
3rd Steep: It has gotten smoother and an understated sweetness and creaminess that kept me sipping it until it was gone. Yum.
This is my first milk oolong and I am excited. I brewed this at a hotter temperature. I didn’t let it come to a full rolling boil, but I did let it boil.
The first steep has a really, really light color. Almost clear with a hint of green. I’m a little worried because this is how the other oolong looked yesterday. Maybe I didn’t get the water hot enough? It is still a first steep. Maybe I didn’t let the leaves “rinse” enough by that little 5-15 second swish I gave the leaves. I won’t know until I dive in and taste it. I smell a very light scent. The taste is very interesting. It isn’t tasting like much-but then I’m not sure what unflavored tea is supposed to taste like since I normally drink flavored tea. But the mouth feel is amazing. I feel like I am drinking warm milk even if it isn’t that strong yet. I’m going to finish this cup and then steep it again. Until I come back, I’ll watch my friends play Skyrim while enjoying this cup.
10:49 PM: I managed to get three more steeps out of the leaves. But I noticed that the cooler the water got, the less flavor and the less milky it got. I have a feeling I didn’t get the water hot enough for even the first cup. I just read Azziran’s note to me about brewing oolongs like a black tea more than a green tea. I will have to try this with even hotter water in order to even start to experience more of the milk oolong’s flavor. I have a feeling this might become one of my favorite type of teas once I learn how to brew it right.
Teavivre just might make a non-flavoured tea person out of me yet! Up until their samples, I had been firmly in the fun flavours camp, without fully appreciating tea for itself! This tea has certainly changed that!
1st Steep: This tea smells rather earthy and bitter, but it is really very sweet (I was quite surprised). It is smooth, mild, still earthy but nice and sweet. It is a pale green colour, with very few stray pieces, indicating the quality of the leaves.
My teapot makes about a cup and a half (Its one of teaopia’s tea for one sets), so I left the half a cup steeping for about 5 minutes, and the result was quite bitter (still decent, but too strong for my taste) so I would advise paying attention to steeping instructions and only steeping for a minute or two.
2nd Steep: And this tea just got a whole lot sweeter! Most of the earthiness is gone, now I just taste yum. This is much better the second time around! I can’t believe how sweet it is (and its still healthy for me to boot). From the tastes of things, these leave would probably hold out for 4 or so steeps, I may just have to try it!
Overall, my favourite pure green that i’ve tried (although its the only), but still, the bar has been set high!
Another tea from my second round of samples provided by Teavivre. This is my first time trying a bi luo chun and the reason I chose it was honestly just that I thought the leaves looked cool, hehe. It’s definitely a beautiful looking tea. I wasn’t a HUGE fan of the taste, but that’s not to say that it’s not a good tea, I’m more casual with my reviews and usually rate based on whether or not I personally liked it. This tea was just a little flat tasting for me.
I definitely agree with what Ian said about the “saltiness”. There’s a definite alkaline taste to it, and other than that all I’m getting is your typical vegetal green flavor. All in all, I’ll happily drink it every now and then…it just didn’t captivate me in any way. Still a big fan of Teavivre, many thanks to them for the samples.
Thank you Ashmanra for this sample tea!
I found this in the sample bin…having lost it’s way…poor dear! I have reviewed this tea before but it was 7 months ago…a tea lifetime!
I have changed (haven’t we all!). Talking to myself (nobody else is here so that’s not a stretch), I was thinking about how we are so plugged in to flavor. We live in a world that over salts and over sugars with artifical flavor enhancers in almost everything we eat and drink…yet we tea drinkers are inspecting our favorite tea beverages for every little nuance of aroma and taste. We seek the best.
I got on a cooking kick today. It was all about spices in my house.
There was a recipe for Vadouvan Indian Spice Blend (onions, garlic and shallots sauteed in spices and baked until dry). http://flic.kr/p/dG1Kvy
Then I made gingerbread with ginger chai in it, layered with toffee in the middle. (I made toffee for Christmas and had small pieces left over in the freezer steeped with Laoshan Black Tea).
My house smelled really good!
While the oven was doing it’s job (I had chopped the onions etc. by hand and ground all the spices with mortar and pestal), I made a pot of this Pu-erh!
Yikes! I had forgotten that this is like having a good cup of coffee in the old days before I discovered tea!
Dark, rich and bready…no bitterness. Smooth.
My mood was not about making notes about how many steepings I could get out of this pu-erh…hah…I wanted to drink mugs full of tea…lots of it with cream and sugar! That’s what I did! Gulps of tea sweet and caramel, creamy…good!
What’s better than this?!
A good cuppa PU, Spicy Smells filling up my house and gingerbread baking in the oven!
I was drinking this Pu-erh for my morning tea because I was feeling very sad and a really good cup of tea couldn’t help but cheer me up!
My car is up for sale, I had a buyer and we were to meet at the Bank today to complete the transaction but this morning they pulled out of the deal.
WAH! BOO HOO! (There…OK,done!)
Drowning my sorrows with tea was a pretty safe way to get over a disappointment. I know I’m usually cheerful, or I try to be unless I’m sick or there’s a disaster.
Tea has been seen as something offered for comfort. Just look at old movies.
“Here dearie, your whole family was lost at sea, have a cup of tea.” “Oh my Reginald, Lady Margarite has fainted, fetch some tea.”
Maybe it wasn’t quite that bad but almost! Funny and charming.
There’s some truth in the comfort aspect of tea drinking and that’s why I chose a Pu-erh (and a very good one) for my morning tea.
Pu-erh’s are calming and good for the stomach and blood pressure. (Just what Bonnie needs for maintaining a level head.)
It’s important for me to trust that all things will work for good and worry won’t gain me anything.
I made a lovely creamy latte. (Not all Pu-erh’s make excellent latte’s but this one is really good)
Savory turn’s caramel, the rich creamy sweetness soon taking my sad self to a more positive place where everything was sure to turn out fine in the end.
I took a deep breath. I sat thinking…
“Remember what you said just yesterday Bonnie about being grateful (you even wrote about it in a review you ninny). Were you really serious about gratitude only when things are going your way, or can you be grateful when disappointment or hardship is knocking at the door? Oh?!”
That’s not something I wanted to think about but it was true. It’s easy to be thankful when things go my way. I have to work harder on being thankful when they don’t.
See now how taking a break with tea can help settle the mind.
My tasty Pu-erh latte was what I needed to create the right mood and had perked me up!
Tucked in a familiar silver package, the 3/4 full remains of my Mengku Palace Ripened Golden Buds Pu-erh had been urging me to come and enjoy the gift of goodness I remembered once again.
Others have been writing reviews lately and I was tempted…pushed the thought away…but the urge kept coming back. I wait for the right time for certain tea’s. And for Puerh’s especially.
I can safely say that I pick a tea to drink according to my mood.
I’m unable to review certain kinds of tea without a very clear and centered mind.
It’s the difference between reading The Cat in the Hat (which is cute and charming) and a novel like The Brothers Karamozov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (one of my favorites) only here we’re talking about tea.
(Half of you just walked away making that twirly motion next to your head indicating CRAZY!) I don’t care!
My steep time was 2 minutes in a glass pot Western Style. (I wanted lots of tea!)
The color of the liquor was dark Chocolate fudge brown and smelled like expensive Italian leather shoes. New ones. A very nice smell indeed.
I poured myself a cup and took the first long sip, rolling the liquid around in my mouth blissfully. The juicy, mild Puerh had the essence of gentle air after a hard rain. I imagined myself in North Ferriby, U.K with an umbrella in my hand…standing on a corner… waiting at a bus stop with the smell of rain, wet paving stones and fresh moss. I could see the Humber Bridge Span in the distance through the misty drizzle.
It’s a warm enough day though.
The tea smells and tastes like plumped up, wet tea buds and the aftertaste is Thai grilled chicken.
I wouldn’t mind taking this cup into an ancient musty library at Nottingham University hurrying past old stone and polished creaky wood, my body would enter and find a lone soft chair and plop down, limp like a discarded marionette.
Tea and a place can come together as a singular vision. A story and a novel,fragrance and a flavor stirred up at the right moment.
I’m glad that I waited for this tea. It’s a good lesson for me to trust my own instincts about where I am on the tea path. I have so much to learn.
(This review is for Steepster Roughage from the U.K.)