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Recent Tasting Notes
Thank you Angel of Teavivre for this sample.
Such an enjoyable tea. A bit of maltiness, fruit, and smoke. I really liked the smokey flavor and how it lingered after the sip. The tea is smooth, and while it has some strength I would not call it a robust tea. In the future I’ll drink this as an afternoon tea. I like something with more kick to it in the morning.
I’m so happy so far with my finals results! I even got 100% on my presentation last night and I’m not one for public speaking; so that was a miracle!
This tea was another of Teavivre’s generous samples. Unfortunately, my lid fell into my cup when I was poring so some leaves got more steeped than others. This steep reminds me mostly of deep greens like spinach. It is just a bit sweet. There is also a back flavor of a bit of barley like baked-ness that reminds me of Rishi’s Tie Guan Yin. The major difference between the two is that this one exhibits more creamy flavors than the Rishi version.
Well once again the sample wins out over the tea I actually ordered. I was looking forward to the Milk Oolong from Teavivre, which ended up being moderately disappointing, and was delighted to find a selection of sample one of which was their Bailin GongFu black tea. I steeped a pot from the generous sample and it was delicious!! With so many blacks to choose from they really have to stand out to impress me and this tea did. It’s light and fruity right off the bat with cherry apple and and finishes with all nutty hints of almond and walnut. This tea is great served hot how tea is supposed to be, but serves up great iced like my American brethren seem to prefer. It’s good as is as God intended or with the addition of a sugar cube straight from the pits of hades the fruit flavor explodes up to a whole new level. This is a great back tea
Thanks to Angel and Teavivre for this sample!
I’ve been holding off on reviewing this one for a while and give this tea as many tries as I could for the best opinion. It makes a nice cup, but it isn’t really anything I would show off to friends. I fear too much roasting is what did this one in. Charcoal and woody flavors overpower many of the subtler tastes the leaves offer, and tend to cause a fuzzy and drying mouthfeel and a somewhat bitter aftertaste. Thankfully, the leaves have an inherent sweetness to them, and counterbalance this enough to make the overall flavor enjoyable. I have difficulty finding any floral tones throughout steeps, but if I try hard enough I can just pick them out. I find the flavor profile to lean more towards tart fruits than florals, and this is mirrored in both the wet leaf’s aroma and the aftertaste. The first few steeps gong fu style tend to be the most interesting for me. I receive notes of apple, cocoa, and malt in addition to the aforementioned charcoal and wood tastes. Honey flavors creep in into the third or fourth steep, but besides this addition, the complexity goes a bit flat and the flavors fade out quickly for this tea type.
The dry leaves have a nice deep brown appearance and smell of hay, dried fruits, and somewhat biscuity. The wet leaves expand to reveal a very green coloration. They release dark aromas of earth, pure tea, cocoa, and tart berries. They appear in decent shape, although there are a few quite large empty stems. The leaves are, however, very dusty and leave a layer of silt at the bottom of my cup after every steep. Untwisting the the wet leaves, I dragged my thumb across the surface of a leaf and received a fair bit of black specks on the tip.
I suppose my expectations were a bit too high, as this tea just tastes common; there is nothing exciting or unexpected hiding in the leaves. I’m okay with this, though. It’ll give me something to drink when I don’t have time for other complex teas.
I’ve been away for a bit. However, if anyone cares, I am now a tandem reviewer. With great pleasure and endless frustration, my dear father-in-law is visiting for a few months and will be teaching me how to properly evaluate tea!! He is a fairly well recognized actor who starred in the highest grossing Malaysian movie to date. Nonetheless, he is a kind old man who has tolerated a white devil son-in-law, therefore I hold him in fairly high esteem. He has (of course) been drinking Chinese tea for his entire life (>7 decades). I’ll try to be a good student. Anyway, onto the tea!
I humbly express a huge “thank you” to Angel for the generous samples.
Sheng Ancient tree Puerh
Dry aroma: puerh, not remarkable
Wet aroma: sweet, honey, freshly cut cherry or maple…Pleasant and exciting
Yixing small pot…208F 30-45 sec after two washes (substantial discussions with Chinese grandfather as to the reason, but OK)
First steep: (I’m going to go narrative from here on because the flow, as the tea demand it). The pre-drink aroma was pleasant if unremarkable, but the first sip was oddly delicious and a bit scary. My mind thought, “strange brew”, but I must have more. This is definately Puerh, but Puerh with a funny, not unpleasant twist. I couldn’t put a finger on the curiosity….therefore I had to wake my wife to translate for Mr Lim (my FIL) He did a lot of gesturing and loud talking to express himself. Turns out, he was saying “cats should be grass” “Mao Xu Cao” which translates into Orthosiphonius (Chinese herb). He was quite excited at this point.
The second steep was for three. My wife joined us in the evaluation. This tea is getting stronger and smoother. The partakers are becoming happier. An interesting thing happened at this point. My esteemed Father-in-law began speaking about the goodness, tastiness of the bitterness. I hadn’t noticed much if any bitterness, except for a little bite at the end. What I might have thought as a detriment, my father knew as an attribute…. New way of thinking and tasting….
He is correct. He has experience. I could explain the taste in terms of barkyness or mossiness, but I will simply say that this tea has everything you might expect from a sheng puerh, but it has a significance that appeals to the novice and is noticed by the expert.
This is a tea that should be tasted because it has some uncommon attributes that are exceedingly pleasant.
What can I say, another home run from Teavivre. Yet again I am more impressed with the sample than I ever expected to be from the tea I actually ordered. This tea tastes right away of fruit. Peach and apricot making way to a cherry finish with just a touch of fresh cut grass. One thing that stands out when tasting this tea tho is the gushingly wet mouth feel. This tea has no dryness at all making it extremely refreshing as a for a hot tea and I’m planning on trying it iced to see if that wetness carries over. All said its a great cuppa
Finishing this sample off, and I think this is actually my first Note on it. I’ve been neglectful.
This was my free sample with order. I’m not usually big on jasmine, but I’ve actually been enjoying this one. It’s not as strong and floral. The jasmine scent is pleasant, there but not overpowering, the green tea light and savoury, and mixes well with the floral.
I’d probably keep some of this on-hand for those days that I’m in the mood for something floral, since I already know I like it.
So I’ve been hearing so much about gongfu I couldn’t resist trying it for myself. Also, this gives me an excuse to buy more tea hardware. I saw this “easy gaiwan” and just had to have it (http://www.yunnansourcing.us/store/product.php?id_product=128). It’s the same one Daniel Scott has in his icon. I don’t know if I’m ready for the “big girl” gaiwans, so I liked how it had handles and a built in strainer. I’m also using a strainer basket (also from Yunnansourcing) and a random 4 oz cup I found in the cupboard. One day I’ll get a fancy tea cup, but not yet.
Also, to keep the water warm but accessible, I brewed some hot water and put it all into a cast iron pot for me to pour in segments as I type. As you’ll see over the course of my “steepings”, the water got cooler more quickly than I thought. So this is why people get a Zojirushi.
I chose this tea because everyone has raved about it, and I was just “meh” about it. I thought brewing it gongfu style might help “bring it out” more and make me see what all the fuss was about. Also, it has gongfu in the name. How can you not love it??
I wanted to be part of the cool kids so I wrote down my thoughts of each steeping. But since this is my first time, you’ll see my notes aren’t quite so refined. Oh well, it was an experience.
1st steep – I was supposed to throw this steep out as a rinse, but I just don’t have the heart, so I thought I would try it. I got some light chocolatey notes. Also, this strainer basket is great, but where the heck do I put it when I’m done with it? Right now I’m just putting it over my gaiwan upside down, but next time I should bring along a plate of some sort. Oh geez, more hardware. This gong fu stuff sure requires a lot of room. This is what I get for not using a “serving pitcher”.
2nd steep (20 sec) – Used more tea this time. Definitely stronger and maltier. I’m getting notes of toast in here, as well. And I noticed the tea mentioned caramel, so yeah, I can see that. This is very different than the first steeping. Except I didn’t remember to swirl the leaves around in the gaiwain. Should I have? Maybe I’ll do that next steep and see how it goes. Also, I should use less water since this first true steeping spilled a little bit because I’m trying to get it just right.
3rd steep – (40 sec) My water has cooled down a bit. Boo. Don’t fail me now cast iron. This is a little bit smoother – not quite as maltier. I wonder if my water isn’t hot enough. Ah well.. Also, I noticed this was supposed to be 30 sec NOT 40 sec. Whoops.
4th steep (50 sec) – Now my water has cooled down quite a lot, even though my cast iron still feels hot. Why have you neglected me, cast iron? Also, I had my first pouring fail. I thought the lid was on properly, but I went to pour and it wasn’t and I spilled some water. Oh well, cleaning it up wasn’t too bad. The tea isn’t bad, but now it’s starting to have this metallic taste to it. Hmm.. I better drink my water fast so I can do another steeping before my water gets too cold.
5th steep – (1 min, 10 sec) – Need to figure out an efficient way to time these things because looking at my watch and hoping for the best probably isn’t going to cut it. So uh.. I guess the steeping time is right. We’ll hope so. Also, this tea is luke-warm and I’m not really tasting anything besides metallic-ness. I guess I need to break down and go make some warm water from the kettle, which is in the other room #firstworldteaproblems.
6th steep – (1 min, 30 sec) – Okay, so I went back and actually got hot water from the kettle. I steeped this the time allotted, and now it’s kinda bitter and extra metalic. Bleh. I wonder if I messed things up by using luke warm water the last few times. Should that really matter? As it cools though it’s not THAT bitter, but it’s that exciting, either.
Okay, I think I’m done with this tea. I gave it 6 good steepings, but I’m just not going to love it, especially near the end. The gongfu experience was fun, but it’s a lot more work than my traditional western style. I’ll definitely try it on some more teas to try and see what fun I can extract out of them.
This is just a really good tasting tea, its vegetal like dark green veggies(spinach) roasty toasty and just so slightly smokey, I think that what I wrote the first time and very little astringency was a little off I think that it’s more of a slight pleasant bitterness rather than an astringency if that makes any sense at all. This is a really nice green tea, I would say different from most green teas I’ve had but I have very little exp with green teas. I think I’ll buy more of this very soon to keep on hand for my visitors and company who ask for a green tea because I won’t serve a visitor a tea that I don’t like(unless they ask for it specific) and I think it is a very good green tea for company.
Not bad at all, Lance likes this one alot, I accidentally over-steeped mine this morning and it gave me some minty notes that were interesting with the smokiness still not bad tho, I’ll probably make a blog post about it soon with some pics :)
Lance tried this one with me because Lapsang is one of his favs he loves the smoky Lapsangs. Lance has had many more Lapsangs than I have and he says this is one of the better ones that he has had.
This one smells nice and smokey when dry and just as good when wet.
The smoky flavor is slightly subtle so its not very over powering but it’s remains for a few steeps, there is little to no astringency to this one which to me personally is awesome because a lot of Lance’s Lapsangs ae stringent to me. This is perfect for a person who wants to try a smoky tea but thinks that Lapsang would be too smokey, It’d Subtly and sweet and a very nice tea :)
2 or 3 good steeps with this one, and thats not bad :)
Thank you Angel of Teavivre for this sample!
I could kick myself for not trying this tea sooner. It is exceptional. The infusion is a beautiful amber color, and it smells slightly bready. At the first sip I taste maltiness followed by a slight sweetness . Yum. Really yum. The tea feels smooth and rich, but it is also light. This tea makes me want to slow down and enjoy everything it has to give. One cup turns into two which turns into the whole pot. I have no regrets. :)
Looks like I’m going to have to make room on my shelf because this tea will become part of my permanent stash.
Hmm looks like I already rated thus one. I completely forgot I had it before. Doh! That means I have two sample pouches of this open. My brain is clearly on its way to dementia.
Well it’s worth reviewing against I seem to like this tea a lot more today. It is indeed fragrant. It tastes like a sweet potato roasted over a fire. Sweet and toasty and delicious.
Hmm… has the enchantment of black tea love come to an end or have I just been having a series of less than awesome blacks lately? This one tastes a little…not interesting. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t capture my attention in any way. I get a little floral perfume and taste of malt… Some fragrant sweetness. Vaguely stone fruity. My tastebuds are not all that interested.
So far, the black teas I like and plan to get more of are:
Laoshan black – Verdant
Zhu Rong Yunnan black – Verdant
Yun nan Dian Hong Black- Golden Tip – Teavivre
Rose Congou – Upton
Looks like I like Yunnan black teas. The Laoshan black is still my favorite. hmm… I’ll still have try the other Keemuns from Teavivre. I also have some other congou tea from Upton to try. I wonder where congou tea is grown? Is it also Keemun as wikipedia seems to suggest?
Many thanks to Angel and Teavivre for this generous sample!
My first experience with this tea was disappointing, I’m sorry to say. Jasmine teas are generally too strong for me, as I’m really sensitive to potent, perfume-y smells. I prepared it with the expectation that it was a scented tea and was blown away by the jasmine. A headache ensued, and I was not able to get through very many steeps. This was mostly error on my part which I discovered when inspecting the wet leaves. Jasmine flowers are mixed in with the tea leaves…Ahh no wonder. After that experience, I put the tea away for a while and let it rest.
After my nice experience with Pekko Teas’ Jasmine Dragon Tears, my confidence with jasmine teas was renewed. I gave the jasmine silver needle another shot and altered my methods. I went with cooler water (~160 F), maybe a bit less dry leaf (~1/3 100mL gaiwan), and ultra short steeps (one second for first steep, added one second for each successive steep, then three-five additional seconds each steep after the sixth). It turned out to work much better for me. The flavor was much more delicate, the mouthfeel became less syrupy and instead creamy. I was also able to pick up many more subtler nuances than I did the first time I tried this tea. Most notably this occurred with the first and second steeps which developed honey textures and a light whipped cream undertone, developing into something more savory into the next steeps. The “greener” flavors were more noticeable and tasted like fresh vegetables.
Into the fifth steep, a very faint, but intriguing, spicy note climbed up. It had the flavor of parsley and the texture of ground black pepper. Also in this steep, further heavy tastes became apparent, pulling the flavor profile together and giving the liquor a fuller body and thicker mouthfeel with the addition of a stone flavor and increased vegetal taste. Honey notes reached a minimum here, and rose again throughout consecutive steeps. After this point, the tea reached a balanced point in which jasmine flavors decreased to midtones, vegetal, savory, and fresh green flavors became most prominent, and stone flavors settled into undertones. These remained fairly constant and faded out together while jasmine notes slowly slipped away.
The leaves smell extremely potent to me especially during the first few steeps. In later steeps, this settles some and I am able to detect sweeter notes, and some stone aromas. The aroma of the liquor is syrupy, sometimes medicine like, although it is very floral with notes of fresh hay.
Conclusions: I’m a stickler with jasmine. However, going with my new method definitely changed my opinion of this tea and made it a great deal more palatable for me. The actual silver needle white tea has some very intriguing complexities to it, but they seem to be masked by the jasmine flavoring when using the suggested methods.