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Recent Tasting Notes
Thank you CrowKettle for the sample! (Or wait. Was is Sil? /0\ I’ll start labeling from now on I promise, but I know this one showed up with my matcha samples!!!)
I think Dragon Pearls are one of my favourite types of teas! This is just so smooth, and I love the malt and cocoa notes. Honey too! I steeped it for two minutes and that makes it nice and strong, without being overwhelming, and I’ll probably get a few more steeps out of this before I call it quits. I love how much flavour is in this black.
I believe this is nicer than the one from Zen Tea, and the tea itself is so pretty to look at. I love those little balls! It’s hard to say what makes this one “better” but it seems like there are a lot of things going on, and if I steeped it for less time and more often I would probably pick up on all sorts of things!
I guess I’ll have to keep my eyes open for a Teavivre sale because I’d like to stock up on this one. Moar please!
Part 2 of 3 of my Teavivre 2013 Long Jing Smackdown. Spring samples courtesy of the generous Angel over at Teavivire. I cross reference the 3 types of teas I received in their respective tasting notes, so if you’re really curious you might want to check them out for a more full account.
Part 1 – “Organic Nonpareil Ming Qian Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea”
Part 2 – “Organic Superfine Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea”
Both can be found in my Tea Log — http://steepster.com/markballou
This Long Jing had not impressed me as much in 2012, losing out to follow up orders of the Organic Superfine version. 2013 though is a pleasant surprise. I’m immediately greeted by an unexpected dry leaf, nice, not on par with some of the shapeliness of the highest quality Long Jings, but surprisingly uniform and pleasing to watch hydrate in my 10oz double wall tall glass tumbler. Broken leaf is minimal and there’s a small amount of white clump. The leaf color is greener than I’ve come to look for when evaluating Long Jings; something about young teas not developing as much chlorophyll, having more theanine and a tendency towards a lighter green color. Upon opening the package you can smell the fresh, bright, lively aroma immediately.
I’m impatient and don’t let my water cool to 175˚F as recommended by Teavivre but bully my way into this tea at approximately 190˚ (the water temp in the prep details is for my later side by side comparison). I’m not completely uncivilized and follow my tried and true Long Jing brewing protocol minus the glass warming stage:
I first note the liqueur is vibrant yellow-green, followed by an initial taste impression of “juicy.”
This is a wow. I’m not hit with complexity here, but overall satisfaction. Where I’m often impressed with a multidimensional profile, here it’s not about that. It’s a broader experience. This tea is tolerant, not going all bitter with the water being so hot. I’ve gone through 5 steeps of this tea and it never went all swampy and flat on me like many of the Long Jings I’ve had before. The color got less vibrant and lost it’s green color, favoring the yellow tones.
In my side by side comparison the Premium did not fair as well, and contrary to when I steeped a larger quantity of leaf, by the 4th and fifth steep it had indeed gone somewhat flat. It still never did go swampy, just was kinda void.
If you’re not all about Organic, then I’d say this is a good value and is the one I’m tempted to buy in quantity.
Beautiful 2013 spring samples courtesy of the preeminently generous Angel over at Teavivire. I was shocked at how many she sent me when I contacted her about the 2013 harvest. When I find a tea I like, I tend to buy significant quantity, so having this reference is truly appreciated. You rock Angel!
Well, let’s call this Part 1 of 3 in my Teavivre Long Jing Smackdown. All in all I was provided with samples of the Organic Long Jing, Premium and this Organic Nonpareil Ming Qian. I prepared them all in my variation of the Tall Glass Method, where I decant each infusion, leaving a root. Tasting notes on the other 2 teas can be found in my Tea Log:
I really wanted to be the first to post a review of this tea, but I didn’t want to rush, particularly because my findings were a little perplexing. Initially I sampled each of the teas separately, reserving some dry leaf to compare. I noticed that the leaf of all 3 teas was very well photographed on the website and representative of what I was sent. Kudos to Teavivre for providing great photo documentation that is not overly manipulated.
I was shocked that all three dry teas looked and smelled almost identical. I really expected to see something to differentiate them. I first tried the Premium, and without going into detail I again was surprised to find that there wasn’t a huge difference in the flavor profiles, aroma and color of the liquor in comparison to the Ming Qian and the Organic Long Jing. I thought I’d see vast differences, but either A) my palate isn’t refined enough to tell the difference, or B) these teas really aren’t significantly different.
To see if maybe my memory was failing me day to day, I decided to do a single sitting, side by side comparison. I’d spread the initial tastings out over 3 days as there was no way was I going to do 3 full servings in one day or I’d be bouncing off the walls. For my comparison I cut the tea by a 3rd the size of my usual servings and prepared them each the same way. For my finding on the other teas, see their respective tasting notes.
As for this tea, the highest price of the 3, I like it. It’s a good Long Jing. None of them were particularly chestnutty, as is often the descriptor for Long Jings, and this one I would say was the least. Most significant for me was that it had an overall more refined, smooth profile and a sweeter aroma. The mouthfeel was clean with a light, dry astringency on the periphery and a lingering subtle sweet aftertaste. I don’t have any food comparisons or vegetables that it reminds me of. No green beans here or spinach, just telltale Dragon Well. Sometimes you’ll see a mild smokiness or toasted element to Long Jings. Not so much for any of these. Though I DO get a little toasty note here, just more of a backdrop than center stage.
I got about 4 steeps out of each of these, steeps 2-4 with a root. The first about 1 min (30 swirled + 30 steeped), 2nd about 30 secs w/ the previous well-soaked root, the 3rd about 1-1.5 mins and the 4th I drank from the tall glass. The Ming Qian started falling apart, along with the Premium, tasting a bit vacant on the 4th steep, but remained quite drinkable. I could probably coax a 5th steep out of this but I’m not motivated. Yeah, motivated myself— 5th, not so much.
Is it worth paying premium for the Ming Qian? Maybe if you want to get stupid like me and go crazy with a comparison, really splitting hairs to see the minor differences between Teavivre’s offerings. But honestly, for my taste, I don’t see the need to spend the extra ducats.
Caffeine. After a side by side like this, all I can say is “Yes.” I’m pretty confident that I could depend on this tea to keep my inner fire burning late in the day and rub the cobwebs out of my eyes in the AM. As for now I’m certainly motivated to write all three tasting notes, one after the other while still fresh in my mind.
This is one of the new teas I got samples of from Angel at Teavivre, but it appears I have had a previous harvest of this tea. It seems like I really want to like this one, but I have immense trouble getting the right amount of leaf and water right.
Right off the bat I got a stronger brew than my first time, but it was a bit mineraly and a little astringent. I’m not getting sweet potato at all. I wish I was, though. I wish I was getting caramel and honey with sweet potato…but I’m not.
I just don’t know what to make of this tea. The leaves are long and spindly, and with more leaf and longer steep time, I am getting a darker and more bodied brew, but I did need to add sugar as it was a bit bitter.
I feel like if I get the balance right, it can be a great tea, but finding that balance has been tricky, so far.
I thank Angel for providing this sample for me to try again. Sometimes harvests can very, but this tea still seems finicky to me.
Giving this sample a go today, as I am out of milk right now. Thanks to Angel at Teavivre for sending me this one to try…she knows I like oolongs.
My first attempt, I think I let the water cool too much, and possibly under-leafed this as well. I got a much lighter and thinner liquor than I was expecting. I’m tasting something though, but I am unable to put my finger on it. It seems possibly fruity or buttery or brothy but maybe a little of it all?
Although I have a second steep coming, with hotter water and more leaf, so I can compare then if it was my steeping parameters or not. Water had cooled a few minutes (maybe 5?) and I did a 3 minute steep. this current steep I am using just boiled water and a 2 minute steep. We will see.
I am very intrigued by this tea though. The leaves are long, thin, and spindly…and the colour is a dark green with a slight purple tinge to them, I think. Someone said seaweed, and I think that is a good descriptor.
What do you think?
EDIT FOR RE-STEEP:
So I used more leaf, hotter water, and less steeping time and I got a stronger brew. I’m not sure if that was for the better or not. I feel like I have gone in the opposite direction now and it is too strong a steep. I feel like I need something in between. I’m not getting sweet potato, but I am getting a saliva inducing feeling in my mouth. I am still tasting something fruity, but I am not sure. It doesn’t seem peachy to me, but someone mentioned grape, and I think maybe I am getting a raisin note, or plum or tart cherry, because I am getting a little bit of astringency with the juicy mouthfeel. There is a little smokiness too, I think, along with a mild floral note.
I think that I need to play around with the steeping parameters on this one still, to get the optimal balance of flavours I am looking for.
Dare I say it? Am I being too impulsive by already saying that this has become one of my favorite teas?
Eh, let’s say it. I think it’s safe. This tea was so great! It’s the first Golden Monkey I’ve tried, and I think it’s pretty safe to say I’ve found a winner. :) It had a very interesting taste. It tasted chocolately, yet it was fruity, and yet it was also had a slight tinge of pepper too. Very slight mind you, the tea is very pleasantly sweet! I practically guzzled the cup, and I have my next infusion steeping now. The shelf life on the package said 36 months. As if this’ll be around for three years. More like three days. Haha. Next time I order this, I’ll be sure to order it with a tin. This’ll be a permanent one. Very glad I was confident and ordered a good pouch rather than just a sample.
I’m feeling much more comfortable about my likes with black teas. I tend to love them either very bold and roasty, or really naturally sweet. I enjoy the nutty ones, and I’m not a huge fan of super peppery ones, nor super smokey ones as I discovered with lapsang souchong.
Edit: Second infusion, the chocolatey and fruity notes have really receded, and it’s mostly hayish now. It’s still quite flavorful, and really good! I’ll be sure to try a third infusion. :)
Thank you Angel for this sample.
In raw form this tea is a lovely blend of dark brown, light brown and silver green leaves. It has an earthy, wooden scent.
Once brewed the tea is brown in colour and has a slightly spicy and toasted, earthen scent.
My husband had a sip and said he could taste pasta and pizza in this tea. The most bizzare statement that he has ever made. I found this tea to be spicy and warming with a gentle toasted almost fruity and floral essence. Very beautiful and elegant. Each sip brings forward different flavours but each one is as tasty as the last.
Side Note – I don’t think I have ever had a spicy natural Oolong before.
Water: 8oz boiling water
Leaves: small circled to huge full tea leaves
Aroma: light (different from previous oolong i had)
Color: yellow green
Taste: I had rinsed this tea first i think that is what washed all of my initial flavor away thus making this tea quite dull.I’m going to have to brew it again to see if i get a better taste. Oolings are fun to watch due to their huge leaves.
Water: I boiled 8oz water on the stove,then let cool for 5 minutes.
Leaves: medium size tea buds, greenish-brown & fuzzy
Aroma: Strong Jasmine
Color: pale almost clear
Taste: The jasmine aroma of this tea was quite strong but i didn’t really get any floral taste.It reminded me of the Organic Silver Needle White Tea just with a scent added. I didn’t get a lot of taste from this tea, it was okay.
Full review on http://sororiteasisters.com/ at 6pm central time May 14th but here are snippets:
The aroma of Organic Superfine Moderately Roasted Tie Guan Yin “Iron Goddess” Oolong Tea is milky and creamy, which is surprising since I was really anticipating a deeper roasted aroma. Regardless, I love a milky tea so if it tasted milky I would be fine with that. I decided to go ahead and let it steep for a couple more minutes since Iron Goddess does not get bitter with longer steeps. This seems to be the way to go because after two more minutes after an initial 2 minutes it became stronger, bolder, with a coffee like aroma and that roasted aroma I was expecting. I will later hate to try it with a shorter steep though as I am sure that milky aroma had something to it!
Also this is a tea that keeps on giving. Even with my long five minute steep the first time around I can continue to keep on steepin! Following steeps have some interesting notes highlighted that bring about the thoughts of a green tea, such as green bean for example, but more like veggies that are fire roasted! So good! I love having this Iron Goddess with some milk chocolate, it really taste like s’mores between the creamy note in the tea and the smokiness with the toasty note, and of course the chocolate!
Water: 8oz boiling water
Leaves: very tiny brownish-black leaves
Taste: Before buying this tea i had never heard of Pu-erh before, it was something completely new and still is. Before brewing I had rinsed the tea twice each time for 1 minute b/c I read it’s good to rinse Pu-erh. Then the brewing process I was surprised at how dark the color was it remind me of black coffee. As for the taste I’m not sure how to describe it, but it’s a very smooth tea.
Thanks to Angel and Teavivre for a sample of this tea!
I love silver needles- the little fuzz all over the leaves just makes it seem so alive!
This might be the RICHEST white tea I’ve ever tasted. It is hard to describe. The smell of wet straw dipped in white chocolate maybe? Its sweet, earthy and VERY smooth.
If you like white teas this one is a sure bet!
This is a sipdown of my sample.
I really enjoyed this lovely oolong. It is a little bit vegetal and I think I prefer more roasted oolongs now. However, I would never turn down a cup of this and rather enjoyed the freshness of the leaves. I might even order more samples some time so I can enjoy it again.
I needed a gong-fu tea tasting today, so I tried it with this tea. I followed Teavivre’s parameters:7 steeps: rinse,25s,35s,45s,55s,65s,75s,85s.
I found this green oolong to be buttery, slightly vegetal but not overpowering. I found it fruity and slightly sweet, just as the description states.
Overall, I am glad that I ordered a sample of this tea and ejoyed it.
I received this as a lovely sample with my Teavivre order. The dry tea is a very small dark olive, producing a golden green cup. A silky, sweet, hay and honeyed cup, which is reminiscent of a sweeter, softer, less green dragonwell. Not bitter, not flowery, but vegetal and honeylike. Very much enjoyed.
Water: I boiled 8oz water & let it cool slightly
Leaves: mini yellow-ish brown flower buds
Steep: 3 minutes
Color: pale yellow almost clear
Taste: I made this tea the same day as the blooming tea,I had no luck with this one either it was tasteless as well. Maybe I should have let it brew longer time I’m going to give it another go. I’ve been having difficulty writing reviews b/c I haven’t been getting much taste from my teas.
Second Tea Log
This time when I made this tea I mixed it with green tea the a second batch with white.It was better from when i first tried it.My first time blending teas together.
I bought this online from Teavivre a while ago. I used all the leaves from one packet, but I could have split it into two or three parts to use later. Keemun is not particularly my favorite black tea, but it was one of the first loose leaf teas I had ever bought. This tea is actually very good. It is smoky but not overpowering or ‘in your face’. It is a little woody and has a hint of cacao in it. It is ever so slightly astringent, but it is VERY smooth. In fact, I didn’t add any additives to this tea at all. This was a pleasant and good experience and a great morning brew.
Flavors: Cocoa, Dark Bittersweet, Malt, Wood
This is a nice, soft Keemun. It smells like the cocoa, malty scent that Keemuns possess. I brewed this for 2.5 minutes, which I think is long enough. It is a little bitter and astringent in my mouth. It was a honey brown colored brew. The taste is lighter Keemun, which is nice because sometimes Keemun can have an overbearing malty almost metallic taste in my mouth. This one doesn’t leave my mouth that way. This is a nice Keemun, but not my favorite.
Oh how I love green teas! This was my first straight Dragon Well. Thank you Angel and Teavivre for the sample :)
I’m really much more familiar with Japanese greens. This is a less grassy and buttery than a sencha, but it is still sweet and very vegetative. It reminds me of steamed broccoli, where a sencha would remind me of kale or spinach. It is rich without being buttery, but VERY smooth!
Extremely enjoyable, thanks very much Teavivre!
This is the second of two Dragonwell samples I was sent by Teavivre.
This one was a little sweeter then the first one I tried and seemed to have a more balanced flavor profile. The only negative thing I can think to say about this is that I wasn’t able to get as many steeps out of the leaves as I did with the other one. Though the steeps I did get were very good.