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Recent Tasting Notes
The dashboard is down and I can’t read any new reviews :( So I will write my own. This tea has its work cut out for it. While brewing it I fixed a ham and turkey sandwich with farmers market spinach, leaf lettuce from our garden, muenster cheese (should have used smoked gouda). I also poured on my new favorite – great value chipotle ranch dressing. It is not overly spicy. Just the right mix of spicy and creamy, but it is more potent than some teas could handle. The tan yang smells so good in the cup. Best of all the sweet potato and honey cut right through the sandwich when sipping. What a tremendous tea. Nudging the rating.
I have a bunch of teas that I haven’t had time to review yet, including some more from Teavivre. Forced retirement has not resulted in the free time to sip that I anticipated. At least not yet. If I owe you a review I promise I will get to it.
I grabbed this one because I don’t have to think. I know I love it. I started this cup in a hurry. I am not even halfway in and I have slowed down and mellowed out.
I read Azzrian’s review of this tea and it was a little different than my experience, though equally cool. I got the ale taste. She got tea drunk. If any of you woke up with a bad headache this morning – blame us.
I decided to have another go at it today. This time I am not getting the sweet potato that Azzrian noted (and which agrees with TeaVivre’s description). I am also not getting the strong yeast and ale that I noted yesterday in the first cup. Today this is more malt, bread or grain, and honey. It is still very good and so mellow, but I must admit I was looking forward to repeating yesterday’s experience.
I am trying to figure out what I did differently between the 2 days. Both days I used my press, 1/3 of the sample packet of leaf, 12oz water heated to 185d, steeped 2 minutes, and added sweetener. The only difference I can see is before I prepared this yesterday, I removed a few leftover dried up leaves of a highly floral oolong from the press. I then took a brown paper towel (the ones you often see in public washrooms for hand drying) got it wet, then wiped down the press to make sure there were no floral scents left over. This always leaves the press smelling a bit like the wet paper towel. I did not wipe down the empty press today because I was using the same type leaf. I have never noticed the towel affecting the taste before.
If that is not the difference then it was just one of those magic moments that happens every now and then that you cannot repeat. It’s all good, because this is a wonderful light Fujian with tremendous aftertaste. The aroma of the wet leaf is calling. Time for round two.
Round two is same as yesterday chocolate malty yum.
Superfine Tan Yang Gong Fu Black Tea
Sample provided by TeaVivre. I opened the package and took a deep whiff. It is like sweet fresh dried tobacco with maybe a hint of fruit. I want to say cherry but that may be because when I smell tobacco it reminds me of my grandfather and his cherry pipe tobacco. He always wore work pants, even after he retired, and a white v-neck T-shirt. He had his pipe in one hand and a glass of ice tea in the other – always. He also had a bottle of Maalox (antacid) next to him that he chugged like milk but we won’t talk about that.
He loved to watch the Flintstones. No, it was not because of he had grandkids he just loved the Flintstones. He also had a battery operated toy train engine that you put on the floor and when it hit something it backed up and turned, taking off again in a new direction. He would sit and laugh at that often. Even as a kid I didn’t understand how he got that much pleasure out of a simple toy. The train doesn’t work anymore but I still have it.
Ok, back to this tea – the leaf is thin twist curls of varying shades of brown. It reminds me of my wife’s needlepoint thread and is quite pretty. I used a generous scoop and steeped per the instructions of 185 d for 1-2 minutes. Once again it just seems all wrong for a black tea but TeaVivre has never led me astray so I am trusting them.
The resulting brew is lighter than most black teas. It is deep golden brown or almost bronze. The wet leaf smells of toasted caramel.
I took my first sip, put the cup down and walked away for a moment. I returned, picked it up again and sipped. My mind is trying to reboot. I saw on the label this is a Fujian tea. So I am expecting a certain flavor profile, yet this is altogether different this morning than my preconceived idea.
I am tasting yeast, lots of yeast. I am getting grain, barley I think. My brain keeps saying beer, no its ale. This tastes like ale without the bubbles, scratchy throat, or hangover. I did add sweetener, and that may bring out these flavors. As the cup cools it turns more towards heavy malt, which is what I expected from this tea.
Cup two at two minutes. I can’t wait to read other reviews on this one. Now this has become a light chocolate malt. A smooth and creamy chocolate malt. Mmmm. I might use that description on a half dozen other teas but this one taste different. It is simply a mellow delight.
I forgot I even had this. And – lo and behold – I finished the whole thing in a two day’s stretch. The pots I brewed of it turned out perfect – smokey, sweet, and…nostalgic?
Hard to explain.
It was accompanied by several other “finali-teas”, which I had to expand upon here: http://steepstories.com/2013/01/29/a-week-of-lasts-finali-tea/
Point being, sometimes a perfect pot o’ tea is the perfect omen for a week of goods and bads.
Posting this twice, once under each tea. I used, by volume, about equal portions of Teavivre Dehydrated Camellia with Single Origin Teas Idulgashinna Ceylon Green Organic. Camellia on its own reminds me of white peony. Idulgashinna is a unique green tea experience. I thought the two would compliment one another. I was right. The camellia really amplifies the leather notes of the Idulgashinna. At the same time the woodsy elements of the camellia shine as the cup cools. More experiments will definitely follow.
Angel told me this mixes well with green tea. So tonight I blended this with Huang Shan Mao Feng. I can definitely taste the Camellia which is actually the flower from the tea plant. It tastes a lot like white tea with a bit more of a woody taste. I mentioned this morning my taste buds are messed up today. I think I burned them yesterday. I know this taste different than straight Camellia but I can’t pick out the green tonight. It’s ok. I still really like it. I’ll try it again when I can taste. Thanks TeaVivre I have really enjoyed this one.
My wife made a pot of vanilla bean chamomile. It smells so good. I am thinking I might mix the two together at some point :)
Another from yesterday. I am still trying to learn the sounds of the kettle at home. I am not good at it apparently. I got the water too hot. This still tastes something like white tea but overcooked it takes on kind a a soft wood flavor. Definitely pay attention to the temperature.
I am finding this stay at home stuff is brain numbing. It has been less than a week and I have already lost all track of time. I have no idea what day it is until I hit the clock on the computer. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Day two with the same leaf… petals… flowers, ummm whatever this is. The second cup is darker in color. Still very see through but with a golden green tint. This has no bitterness. It still makes me think white tea with its melon and light cucumber notes. I thought this last night but wasn’t sure until today – this has a cooling effect making my lungs feel more open. My wife is going to try it later since its caffeine free. It didn’t work as a sleep aid for me like chamomile but it doesn’t pump more stay awake in your veins either. I’m am ready to commit to a rating. I like this.
New Samples from TeaVivre! Woot! Not going to rate this until I get to fix it without the microwave. I quickly looked at the picture and thought what came out of the bag would be hard like nuts. Nope. It’s real soft. I steeped with below boiling water for maybe three minutes. The resulting brew is pretty clear. It has a little bit of honey color but not much. I’m wondering will this have any flavor? But of course. The website says it has a persimmon aftertaste. I was expecting closer to chamomile. It does not taste like our persimmons and definitely not chamomile. What I got is something very similar to white tea. Subtle but deep. Even prepared poorly I like this. If I were to rate it I would say mid to high 80’s. Don’t fear the Herbal. Need more cowbell?
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.