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Recent Tasting Notes
My husband (an oolong fan), and I received a sample of this premium Oolong (October 2012 harvest). My husband asked me to order more, telling me it was the best Oolong he has ever had. It has the floral aroma and taste you would expect from a high quality Tie Guan Yin. It has a clean, refreshing finish. Very nice.
This tea was delicious- very smooth and sweet, as well as floral and light. It seemed to have a stronger taste of jasmine than other jasmine dragon pearls I have tried, which I enjoyed very much. This is a good tea for any time of day, and I would highly recommend it.
I’m finally getting around to opening up this sample so graciously provided by Angel at Teavivre.
It’s really cold outside, and I was looking for a tea that would be clean and clear and very light. I’ve had this one for awhile, so I decided to try it.
Upon opening the package, the leaves are very thin, long and twisted. They have a strong dark green scent, like that of spinach or kale, and they’re the dark grey-green of kale as well.
I put ~2tsp into my 20oz Amsterdam pot, steeped at 180 for 2 minutes.
The liquor is transparent. It looks like nothing more than water. The smell is similar to the kale smell of the leaves, but it is very faint.
The flavor, however, isn’t. It’s not a strong, punch-you-in-the-face kind of flavor, but this definitely isn’t water I’m drinking. It has that sweet grassy sort of taste I like in green teas, with a little bit of natural vegetal sweetness that sparkles towards the end of the sip. It’s a little bit like seaweed, to be honest.
2 tsp. tea to 12 oz. water, below parameters.
I found this in my sample drawer when I was cleaning it out and it sounded like the perfect tea right now. It has such positive reviews but I remember (and my tasting note confirms) that I found it kind of smoky in the smell. It doesn’t taste smoky but I have to hold my breath a bit while drinking so that it doesn’t negatively impact the taste.
The tea itself is amazing, though. Bright and bold, quite reminiscent of a Ceylon really. With a verrry gentle fruity note (I think stone fruit, maybe dried apricots) beneath. It has a starchy mouthfeel with a vague sweetness to it that I love. This is a black tea that is easy to drink without additives. If only it didn’t have that hint of smoke! Admittedly, it does go away as you get deeper into the cup but that’s only because I’ve gotten used to it I think.
Still, I’ll raise it a few points because it does have a wonderfully complex nature. I’ll put up with the smell temporarily if I get such a lovely tea in return.
This was a generous sample from TeaVivre. Thank you so much!
Hmmm…I may have gone too long on the steep time, because this had a touch of astringence to it. And that was only at 2 minutes! I did use 4.5 grams of leaf for 500 ml. of water, though, so maybe that might be part of it…
The smell of this was slightly smoky, which I’m coming to realize is a general characteristic of Fujian teas. It wasn’t ash tray smoky, luckily, so I didn’t feel too apprehensive about trying it. Especially because of an underlying starchy/malty note that adds some extra (and very pleasant) complexity.
The taste is…raisins. Rather, the taste plus astringence equals raisins. Kind of fruity and dry but also that vague sulphur-y flavor which I think is what that smoky smell turned into. Interestingly, even though it’s dry it also has a thick texture that coats the mouth – this is quite the maze of contradictions!
I wonder if this is related to the Tan Yang Angrboda loves so dearly? It’s just that she described that tea pretty much how I think this one tastes. They are from the same province, so I suppose it’s possible.
Anyway, I’m going to try a little less leaf or a little less steeping time or some combination of the two the next time I brew this – I’m curious to see what will happen. Tonight’s preparation yielded a good tea, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t get everything out of it that I could have.
I will say that it definitely has a TON of character and it’s a shame human error had to go and get in the way. :( Oh, well – at least there can be a next time!
Looking for something different today decided to switch it up with a white tea. Been sitting on this sample from Teavivre for some time. Brewed in my Finum and holding back a little on brewing times from what is suggested, this yielded a lovely golden color with an aroma similar to what I’ve come to expect from whites along with notes of hay, caramelized sugar & pine. Mildly sweet, ever so astringent with a dry mouth feel and a light tingling after-sensation, I’m not the most massive fan of whites, but I can appreciate them. Yielding nicely consistent multiple infusions, I’m pleased but not rushing to stock up.
Compelled to pick a word for this tea I’ll take “pure.” There is a purity to this that is remarkable. Fans of whites, in my opinion it’s worth taking note.
Drinking this right now, after a long morning of cross-country skiing and walking (it was amazing!)
As this is an oolong, I expected a strong and bold taste, but got a very humble and fragrant tea instead. I suppose it’s too smooth for my liking, maybe not even strong enough, though I steeped it for a long time. I think it would work really great as a base for some kind of blend, but alone it’s not interesting enough for me :(
I will drink the remaining sample with great pleasure, but I don’t think I’ll order this one. Have a nice week everyone!
Appearance: small tu-cha button, Chrysanthemum pressed into the back of it.
Aroma when Dry: toasted nuts, earthy, faint floral notes
After water is first poured: nutty, creamy, buttery caramel notes
At end of first steep: murky, earthy, peaty, floral
At first? Light red brown
At end of steep: opaque black– brown
Preferred time of day: afternoon
At first?: heavy, slightly creamy earthy notes, clay, hints of floral, slight sour finish
As it cools?: notes get more earthy, heavier
Additives used (milk, honey, sugar etc)? No
Lingers? Yes, deep earth notes, slight floral leads on sour close
Second steep (3 min)
At first: more Chrysanthemum notes, with floral notes lingering longer, still heavy, earthy
Now this one I like. Never really tried real milky oolongs before, but now I can see why it’s called that. The background is kinda similar.
On a side note, you can try to imagine what’s “local” milky oolong like given how sellers try to buy cheap and be literal with flavoring … XD
Continuing my floral tea route tonight I decided on an Oolong and chose Da Hong Pao from my Teavivre samples. I have a bag from Canton Tea Club that I have yet to brew but I haven’t been in the mood so this will be a test. If this goes down well tonight then maybe tomorrow I can blog it.
Still brewing in my gongfu tonight with my 7g sample.
3 steeps:30s,1m,2m 100ºC/212ºF
The raw tea consists of large, thinly rolled dark brown leaves with light tips. They smell floral and sweet with a wonderful musky autumn leaves scent blended in. I can also note there were no sticks or stems amongst the leaves.
Steep 1 – 30 seconds
Orange gold in colour with a roasted, sweet and floral scent. Lightly roasted in flavour balanced with sweet floral highlights and a little nuttiness. Only a hint of perfume but overall well balanced.
Steep 2 – 1 minute
The orange colour is wonderful to look at. Dominance wise the flowers have taken over the roasted flavour with the dry perfume after taste remaining at the same level. Sweetness still lingers to create a light tea overall that’s smooth and delicate.
Steep 3 – 2 minutes
Now it’s a similar strength as the first steep. It’s still smooth with no bitterness and the dry perfume flavour is at a minimum. There is also still a little sweetness amongst the floral tones and that wonderful roasted almost baked warmth.
I found the quality of the leaves to be very good which was shown in appearance and taste. It’s not my favourite Oolong but as a floral tea it’s great. My mouth is left with a sweet floral after taste that is sitting very nicely with me. I can definitely see why this is so popular.
After reading a review on a Camellia Flower Pu Erh cake from Oolong Owl I got a severe craving for a floral Pu Erh. I placed an order for one of these fabled God of Night Sweats cakes but since that won’t arrive for a few weeks I have had to go through my stash and find something for here and now. This rose Pu Erh will do nicely.
Oh and before I forget, here is a link to Oolong Owls review. Worth a read if anyone missed it.
So two tuocha in my Gongfu as normal, though one of them is missing a rose :( First rose tuocha I have had without a rose in it. Oh well, was bound to happen at some point I suppose.
It’s still a nice Pu Erh, as I remember, mildly floral and slightly sour but on the whole a decent tea. Cures my cravings for now anyway.
Thank you to Angel and Teavivre for this sample. I bought a pack of mixed tuocha anyway before tasting them which is a little crazy but I think I’m going to love them.
My sample pack comes with 2 tuocha pieces that look so pretty and delicate. The Pu Erh is nice and darkly brown and the rose petals are notable on the top. In smell they have a slight sweet rose scent which mixes well with the woody Pu Erh.
Brewing in my gongfu with Teavivre’s instructions. I have been told to continue 30 second steeps though instead if it’s too strong. I will see what happens.
Tea:2 pieces 4 steeps:30s,1m,2m,3m 100ºC/212ºF
Steep 1 – 30 seconds
Golden brown and almost treacle like in colour with a strong Pu Erh scent with only a subtle touch of floral sweetness. The taste is smooth with a woody and malty smokiness that is finished with a gentle kiss of sweet rose. The rose seems to be keeping it lighter than usual.
Steep 2 – 1 minute
Colour is now very dark brown almost black. Also now the tuocha have broken up. Considering the colour has changed quite significantly the taste is still very similar. It’s a little richer but still mellow and with only a slight floral sweetness. There is also a leather like charm about it which I am seeing as being a positive thing (despite being vegetarian).
Steep 3 – 2 minutes
Even after a 2 minute steep it remains mellow and refreshing. The rose has blended in a little more but at the same time the Pu Erh has toned down ever so slightly to keep it at a fair strength. I’m still picking up that leather finish.
Steep 4 – 3 minutes
The flavours are very subtle now compared to the strongest steep (number 2). All that remains is the smooth wood finish that has been consistently mellow throughout.
Overall I really enjoyed this Pu Erh and it was exactly what I was after at this time. It was ripe yet mellow and so lightly sweet whilst keeping with the traditional Pu Erh flavours. As a whole this tea is: mellow, leather like, earthy, woody, floral, sweet, musky, rich and smooth. For me it’s perfect.
I’ve tasted this one twice now. This was the first loose leaf pu’er that I’ve prepared, and I definitely underestimated the amount of leaf that I should use the first time. More is definitely better with this shou. For me, about a third of my gaiwan works pretty well considering the leaves don’t expand much after water hits them.
The dry leaf aroma is spicy, dry, and woody. The leaves are short, stocky, and thin with faded black, and light brown colorations. They remind me of black tea leaves. After a wash of around ten seconds the leaves reveal a thick and earthy aroma like rich and fertile soil. There are also some notes of cocoa, grapes, and the second time I tried it, some faint funky smell like spoiled grapes. Kind of off-putting, but not awful.
The broth ends up being quite nice. The first steep is very thick and dark, but not so much so that I can’t see to the bottom of the cup. Later on, as steeps progress, it becomes darker and murky. Tea oils are also apparent on the surface.
Flavor-wise, it’s a bit of a weaker brew as I alluded to at the beginning. I first began with Teavivre’s recommended steep times, but found them to produce a more one-dimensional and shallow flavor. I do 10" for the first and 20" for the second steep, but usually jump to something above a minute for the third and something like five minutes for the fourth. I can maybe get one or two extra steeps after that, but they typically aren’t note-worthy.
This shou has a very woody flavor, which is always the top note for each steep. Later on, a really sweet and peaty flavor mingles with the woodsy notes while dry, spicy features rise throughout the session. At some points, I can taste some fruity dimensions, like a wine-y aspect that provides both sweetness and a tad bit of tartness. Later on during the session, usually during the fourth steep, it tastes really leathery, with an almost oily mouthfeel to match. Otherwise, I suppose I could describe this tea as “smooth” texturally, but the mouthfeel isn’t very interesting overall, although it becomes faintly sparkly during the very last steep. I can, however, get a decent aftertaste following most steeps, which happens to be very sweet.
Other than a faint metallic undertone in the first steep, a bit of an odd aroma to the wet leaves, and a little oiliness this shou is pretty clean. It provides most of the things I would look for in a shou, but doesn’t really bring anything new to the table.
This is one of my favourite pu erhs to date. I have never had a ripe pu erh that is smooth and delicate. Don’t get me wrong it has a lot of flavour and it’s very deep and rich but it’s also refreshing and honeyed beautifully.
I need to order some more :) Check my previous steeping notes for a detailed review.
Wow a Teavivre Pu Erh that no one else has reviewed. I feel honoured to be the first :)
I’m full of Chinese food now and I rummaged in my bag to find my sample of this. It’s in a rather large silver sealed bag instead of the usual Teavivre sample bags and I can feel that the tea is a large piece of cake. That sounds nice … a large piece of cake. It would see I have more than one stomach, one for Chinese food and one for puddings.
Anyway I opened the bag and pulled out this large piece of broken off cake. It weighs 21g so I’m going to have to half it. There we are I now have 10g in my Gongfu. It’s a mixture of dark and medium browns in colour with a rich and slightly smoky fragrance.
Tea:10g 5 steeps:30s,1m,2m,3m,4m 100ºC/212ºF
The table above was taken from the Teavivre website so I will try following those rules, if it’s too strong then I will lower the steeping times.
Steep 1 – 30 seconds
The colour is reddy brown similar to mahogany and it smells sweet, woody, earthy but fresh. The flavour is actually quite subtle, it’s fresh and light but it has a mature sort of taste.
Steep 2 – 1 minute
The colour now is almost black and looks like cola. It tastes earthy and thick, a little sweet and woody to. Despite it’s strength it’s still fresh and smooth. The quality is starting to make itself known and I’m impressed so far.
Steep 3 – 2 minutes
It still keeps increasing in strength but remains smooth and rich but fresh. For being ripe there is still a sweetness there and no harshness at all like some lower quality Pu Erh has. This is smooth all the way with that sort of caramel finish. Smoky, woody caramel.
Steep 4 – 3 minutes
The caffeine has made me a little tea drunk, it’s pretty awesome. It’s still the same colour as cola. The sweetness is increasing but not as much as some Pu Erh, this really has balanced perfectly.
Steep 5 – 4 minutes
In a few words this tea is: rich, sweet, woody, earthy, smooth, light, fresh, mellow, smoky and a little fruity. The strength has weakened a little in this steep but I think it would easily hold for another few.
I think this is the best ripe Pu Erh I have ever tasted. It’s not heavy or bitter which is what I was expecting and it was also very consistent throughout. Delicious.
Thank you Teavivre for this sample.
The tea itself is a mixture of dark brown and light brown leaves compacted together into broken cake pieces. They have a sweet and earthy smell equal to most raw Pu Erh. I shall be steeping with a table taken from the Teavivre website.
Teapot Gongfu Tea:2pieces 4 steeps:30s,1m,2m,3m 100ºC/212ºF
Once the tea is rinsed it bears a much sweeter and woodier scent.
Steep 1 – Yellow in colour. A slight smell of fresh cut wood. The taste is sweet and slightly smoky and vegetal. Even though it’s light it’s also on the rich side.
Steep 2 – Darkening in colour to become a little golder. The flavour has increased to double the first steep. Now it’s very rich but still remains sweet. Also picked up floral and perfume tones but on a subtle basis.
Steep 3 – Much sweeter with a dry perfume after taste. The richness has also increased along with smokiness but it manages to stay refreshing.
Steep 4 – I do like that the sweetness has continued all the way through and now that it’s settled it’s become woody again. It tastes like a forest, it has the sweet wood, the green fresh leaves and the rich soil flavours all in one.
Overall I do like this Pu Erh very much as it remained consistently good throughout the 4 steeps. It’s also fairly strong and potent which I have to be in the right mood for. If I was going to say anything negative it would be that the tea left my mouth bone dry and it had that strange perfume taste that gathered at the back of my throat.
Nice ripe pu-erh, deep and not too simple. Chrysanthemum blossom adds some interesting taste at later steeps. http://www.teablr.com/?p=531
Thanks to Teavivre for this sample!
I’m not the biggest green tea drinker, but this is a new favorite of mine. It’s sweet, fresh, light, and crisp. All the things one usually seeks out in a green tea with the addition of some nice oolong-y characteristics and a basic flavor framework that reminds me of a dragonwell. The leaves are an awesome shade of vivid green and smell very dragonwell-like: oats and nuts and potent veggies. I haven’t decided whether I prefer gong fu or Western style with this one yet, but each has it’s pros.
Gong fu style
This allows for a huge change in flavors from steep to steep, but getting more than three solid steeps is rare. But let me tell you, those three steeps are pretty awesome. It’s like a fifteen-steep session condensed to one fifth! With about 1/4 to 1/3 of my gaiwan full of dried leaf, 175 F water, and a seven second first steep (no rinse) it comes out wonderfully. I receive notes of fresh hay, a malty sweetness, thick and “chewy” vegetal qualities, and faint tones of nuts. Maybe almonds? The liquor’s color has great clarity and is so light and vivid it’s almost neon.
The second steep at about 14 seconds brings a lively mouthfeel with a sort of sparkling texture. A new nuance that reminds me of whole wheat toast becomes most apparent and the nutty qualities become more pronounced. The third steep seems to do well somewhere between 30 seconds and one minute. Twenty seconds is a bit too short and it comes out really weak, and one minute introduces some bitterness and astringency (two things that usually aren’t present with this tea except for extra long steep times). The nutty and toasty qualities subside a great deal at this point and are replaced with a strong herbal quality. It’s far more “green.”
With the aforementioned leaf to water ratio, a fourth steep is possible, but it’s flavor faded and it has a heavy mouthfeel. It comes out like a mixture of steep 2 and 3.
While the flavor doesn’t change dramatically between steeps, each steep is lovely in its own way. Western style produces a light-bodied cup with great character. The “darker” flavors like toast and nuts and such aren’t as apparent this way, but instead blend in with the other nuances so that all the flavors kind of meet in the middle. Yet, a lively, sparkly/fizzy mouthfeel helps add another dimension to keep things interesting.
The main drawbacks to this method, for me at least, is I have to use a ton of leaf. I did 3 heaping teaspoons in my 16 oz cast iron with 175 F water. I performed the recommended one minute steeping time, took the leaves out, and poured some off. Still really weak. So I plopped the leaves back in and went for another minute. This worked much better.
Ultimately, I’ll be using Western brewing when I want a sipping tea and gong fu when I want a short, but power-packed session. I also prefer gong fu to pull out the best flavors this tea offers, like that whole wheat toast note that I look forward to every time I drink this one. I think the textural intrigues of this tea are pulled out much more easily with Western style, though.
There’s a good chance that I’ll be stocking this one as my one green tea on hand at some point. :)
Noooo, Steepster ate my huge tasting note!
Dry, the leaves look thin, dark and spindly. There’s beautiful sea-spray and freshly cut grass scents to the leaves and brewed tea.
Very light liquor – like a green tinted white tea. Smooth, slight hint of seaweed, grassy and “fresh”. Depending on how resteeps go, this could definitely belong in my cupboard.
My thanks to Teavivre for the sample!
The dry leaves look green, freshly cut and smell faintly nutty. I’m really looking forward to steeping this – hurry up kettle!
This tastes a little like toasted nuts to me. I’m also getting a light freshly cut hay note followed by the vegetal wallop. Somewhat-light with a buttery texture.
I’m on the fence about this one. I’ll have to see what other steepings and cups are like – thanks to Angel for the generous size that allows me to do so!
Edit: Revisited this one and steeped for just over a minute. Beautiful light flavour – like an elegant vegetable broth, if there is such a thing. Flavour present to the 4 steep, where it starts to diminish.
Edit 2: Found out that I really enjoy this cold or cooling. No astringency present like I thought there would be.