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Recent Tasting Notes
Thanks to Angel at Teavivre, for offering to send me their wonderful teas to sample. This is the 2011 version, but the 2012 version is in transit. I used the max recommended (2 tsp. and did a quick rinse for 1st steeping).
Having tried other dragonwell greens before, I really wasn’t expecting to like this. But with the first sip, I absolutely fell in love with this version. Very pale yellow in color when brewed, the first sips are very vegetal … sort of like celery, without any sign of bitterness whatsoever. Even a year old by now, this tastes fresh. And it was that part that really impressed me. I consider myself a newbie, but this speaks quality.
2nd steep (increasing 10 degrees, adding 1 minute) produces a slightly stronger brew. The 3rd steeping is still flavorful, and for the first time, the floral aspect comes through.
Thanks to SimpliciTEA for mentioning the 16 oz. glass “cafe mug” at Target (for 2.99 each here). They are made by Anchor and really add to the green tea “experience”. Btw, they also carry Anchor’s 2 quart “Bistro” pitcher, for 5.99, which I picked up to store iced tea (if I ever get that just right).
Highly recommend Teavivre for great service and (so far) very quality teas.
Thank you Angel from Teavivre, for writing to me and generously offering to send me samples to try. This is by far my favorite of the 5, and have already ordered 100g with my first Teavivre order.
So I started my tea journey trying mostly flavored teas. I am now in the next phase, of attempting to find unflavored teas to love. This one falls in the “love” category. Btw, I am still using honey to sweeten most teas, but this one requires only a minimal amount. Don’t forget that my first love is Coke, so my taste buds are sweet trained. But I’ve found local honey, and using it will help with allergies too (so it has 2 purposes). But the tea itself carries a sweetness to it, that requires little help.
Yun Nan Dian Hong Golden Tips is really smooth and has absolutely no bitterness to it. Being sensitive to bitterness, this already gives it high praise. Someone called it “Lipton but better” and I concur … much much better. Some mention the sweet potato association. I’m leaning more towards caramelly, but see where those associations are coming from.
Teavivre says that this can be resteeped 12 times. I’ve only gone as far as 3, and on the third the flavors were weakening. Perhaps I need to be more precise with my temps and times. I’ve also tried it cold, and that is where the Lipton comparison comes from. It’s very nice cold, in a Lipton (but better) kind of way. Teavivre is now offering this in the 50g size. Angel sent me a sample of the full-leaf version of this tea, and it will be nice to compare the two. Teavivre’s customer service rocks btw. My order was put into the mail system Upton/Adagio-style (next business day). This and Upton’s Imperial Golden Monkey (ZP85) are my current unflavored favorites (so far).
(Free sample provided by Teavivre. Thank you!)
My schedule is being quite hectic lately, so I don’t have much time and inspiration for writing notes and reviews. However, I was really impressed with this tea, so I decided to scrap up my tasting notes and write a note.
Dry leaf: 3 gr
Water: 250 ml at 85 Celsius
Number of infusions: 1
Steeping time (in minutes): 3
Dry leaf gives away impression of hay being stacked in sunny summer day (if you’ve done it you know what I’m talking about) with mild citrus and molasses edge. I’ve drank a few good Dian Hongs in past couple of years, but this one is the most tippy of all teas I’ve had an opportunity to try. Dropping leaves in pre-heated teapot reveals more malty notes.
Tree minute steep seems to give a rather deep red infusion, almost like that of ripe Pu Erh. I’m getting the feeling that 3 minutes was a bit too much, but it doesn’t matter. Placing my nose over steaming cup reveals rich caramel-molasses and citrus notes with smooth finish.
If Teavivre’s Ripened Aged Pu-erh Mini Tuocha is intensive as espresso (check out my note), thank this tea has intensity that of a coffee. Right after swallowing a starchy dryness builds up in the throat and peppery note covers the tongue. A few sips in and I can sense some flowery hints in the background. Just delicious!
Unfortunately I didn’t have time to resteep it.
Dry leaf: 3 gr
Water: 200 ml at 85 Celsius
Number of infusions: 5
Steeping time (in minutes): 2, 3, 4.5, 5.5, 7
Deep and clear red hue, typical for black teas. Wet leaf has initial citrus aroma that quickly turns into impression of wet hay and (mulja) with flowery hint that sits in between.
First sip is deep and slightly minty. Right after swallowing tongue gets covered with peppery sensation – a Yunnan black tea trademark. Few sips in and I could feel that my throat is getting a bit dry and sore.
Second infusion came out identical to first, only with amped peppery sensation. Nice.
This is where I accidentally left it to steep for additional 30 seconds (I was doing the dishes). This infusion was just a little bit weaker than previous but still it was one impressive cuppa. Peppery taste just can’t seem to dissapear and that’s where I got the idea to pair this tea to something like well seasoned red meat. I just hope it doesn’t slip from my mind by than.
Again, a little bit lighter infusion, both in terms of taste and color, from the previous one. Seems like pepperyness is starting to let go since it was a little bit too strong for my taste in previous steep. Somewhere at the finish I’m starting to get a real nice sweetness to it. Makes me think of Bailin Gongfu black tea.
And this is where I’m calling it a day. I drank 1 liter of tea, and even if I went for another cup or two I would certainly enjoy it, but my stomach is calling shots here. Last, fifth infusion was (again) lighter than previous but the sweetness kept its magnitude and peppery sensations seems to be totally gone.
Magnificent tea. Honestly, I thought I’ll stop after third cup but it turned out to be quite a surprise, from deep and complex character to sweetness in the end… Oh, and not to forget that peppery bite. Not to mention that this tea is really cost-effective, I might get a bag of this in my next order.
The second of my free samples from Teavivre.
I tried this one before the puerhs they sent me because I was wary of it. I am generally more of a savoury person than a sweet person, although I do like honey every now and then, especially orange-blossom honey and similar types that are not supermarket generic. Anyway, the thought of honey-soaked TGY did not grab me immediately because of my predilection for savoury things. Hmm, I was wrong to be wary.
First up, stick my nose in the packet. I do this with tea, food and books. Especially books. I love the smell of a good book. So, I’m odd! What of it? :-) Anyway, the aroma was more honey than anything else and I thought that the tea would be much the same. The honey smell was gentle and pleasant as I added boiling water to the leaves in my gaiwan, although I felt it dominated the aromas.
Then it was time for the first cup. Yes, honey in boiling water. I only steeped it for a minute but the TGY flavour did not really come through. Should I have steeped it longer? I’m not sure that I should. I drank the first cup and really enjoyed it, then it was time to re-steep the tea. So I went on. Steep, drink, re-steep. I’m on the sixth infusion now and have really enjoyed the journey. The honey flavour steps more into the background and the TGY comes forward more with each steeping. This makes for an interesting journey. Let’s see how long it goes on for.
So, what’s the final verdict? Lovely. Yes, this tea has plenty to offer and the longevity of it is great so that you can get a whole range of flavours from just one session. Marvellous, and thank you, Teavivre.
Hmm, the tasting notes say there is a hint of caramel there. A hint? I opened the packet and stuck my nose in. The smell was muted at first. Then it hit me as I took a breath and tried again. That was not a hint, it was a whopping great big dose of caramel, like sticking my nose into the middle of a Cadbury’s Caramel bar. Then the floral aroma developed and the two smells worked together to entice me into going further.
I brewed the tea per the instructions and tasted carefully. Floral notes on the front of my tongue and then suddenly a caramel hit as the tea reached the back of my mouth. Crikey, that was sweet and quite a shock. The flavour toned down a bit in the aftertaste but it lingered nicely for a while. Now that I knew what to expect from this tea, I relaxed into the tea and enjoyed the rest of the pot.
This tea is very sweet, perhaps a little too much so for my tastes, but there is no denying that it is a quality tea. I might only wish to drink it when the need for sweet is on me, but it will be going on the shopping list, just for those occasions.
THIS IS A MONUMENTAL POST! DO YOU HEAR ME?! MONUMENTAL!!!!
This is a landmark for many reasons:
1.) THIS IS MY 100th tasting note! I can’t believe I’ve made so many!
2.) I have exactly 70 followers now! Thank you to everyone that puts up with my incoherent ramblin’s!
3.) This is my first 100 on a tea! Ironically on my 100th tasting note! Whuddathunkit?
So, thank you to everyone that’s stuck with me this whole time, I’ve already grown exponentially in my tea experience and I look forward to growing even more! Sorry that I haven’t been on for a few days, I’ve had a lot to do this week AND I wanted to make this note special because, it is afterall a landmark post. Also, I am sad to say that I most likely won’t be on for the rest of the week/weekend because I have the Vermont AllState Music Festival tomorrow through Saturday and then we are having a family dinner for Mother’s Day because my family from out of town are here visiting! Super exciting! You best believe that I will be drinking tea though!
So, onto this tea! Thank you very kindly to Angel and the rest of the Teavivre team, this tea is without a doubt one of the best blacks I’ve ever tried. I know that this will be a repeat of what I have said in the past and what other’s have said, but I love it so much. Last time I reviewed this I was going through a “moody I’m questioning what I like and how I like it” phase, but now I’m back and I can say fully that I love this one to death.
It has all the perfect characteristics that a Fujian should-it’s got a very nice, fresh baked bread taste (rye perhaps?). Alongside that is an extremely dark dark chocolate note that adds…… Not necessarily sweetness but rather a nice accent to the bread. Like a Pain au Chocolat, but a little bit of a grainier bread and a really dark chocolate.
In the second steep (unfortunately all I got to with this session today, although I know for a fact that it could have been steeped AT LEAST one or two more times) a realllllly yummy caramel taste came out. The grain started to back off a little in this one, though it was still definitely there. There was absolutely no astringency in either of these steeps!
This one is definitely going on the repurchase list! Thanks again to Angel and Teavivire for this sample as well as to all of my lovely followers for supporting me and reading my rambli-I mean reviews! Happy Drinking!
SO I HAVE A LOT OF GREAT NEWS TO DISCLOSE IN THIS POST
The first is that my first post on my TeaTrade blog is up. The blog can be found here http://serendipitea.teatra.de/. I explain more in depth there what I aim to do. Please take a click and tell me what you think!
The second (okay so there were really only two things) is that I’ve made the decision to stop rating teas. I know of only one other user who does this (JacquelineM) but I’m doing it for a slightly different reason than she does it (though her reason does come in to play a little). The main reason is that rating a tea means that all of the work I put in to making a review culminates to me making a rating that says if I like it or dislike it. Compared to many here, I’m very new to the premium and loose leaf tea scene. The goal of me having an account here on Steepster is for me to me able to explore new teas and learn as well as review the new things that I’ve tried. I feel like if I spend a whole review listing what I taste only to culminate it in me rating it on if I like it or not, I’m not really growing. I want to review every tea I try purely by how it tastes, and not by if I like it or not. I want to go into my review unbiased and focus simply on the liquid in my mouth from a standpoint that is as unbiased as possible. I feel like that will help me grow in my knowledge of teas more than rating a tea on a like-based scale. Once I feel like I’ve tried enough teas and taken my palette to a place that I feel comfortable that I’m at the peak of my journey, I will perhaps start rating teas again. But until then, I’m going to go without rating teas.
So, now that all of this has been said, onto the tea! This is a backlog from yesterday. Another sample that Teavivre sent me!
I was so excited to try this tea. I mean like. REALLY. Excited. I mean come on, it’s the highest rated tea on the site, how could I not be?!
So, trying to keep my excitement to a low, I opened this one up. The dry leaf smells a lot like bread. In a really yummy, toasty way.
The wet leaf and tea itself smell a lot like fresh baked bread. In a way that really entices you. The tea itself is wonderful. It’s very strong and certainly not light, even with only being steeped for 2 and a half minutes! It too tastes like toasty, warm, fresh baked bread. It practically screams bakery! It’s so wonderful. Even as it cooled it retains its boldness, as a certain caramel-y note (not too sweet) comes out. It’s almost like a savory caramel-like a salted one that has a little too much salt, but in a good way. It tastes…… toasty. This, again, is hard for me to put into words, but the best I can say is bread! A wonderful tea, and I can see why it’s the top! This is definitely going into my repurchase list!
This is absolutely lovely. The milk tones are subtle compared to a manipulated (flavored) milk Oolong, but, I like that. It allows the natural tones of flower and nut to come forward, and gives it a subtle “warm milk” kind of flavor in the background that is remarkably soothing.
Truly a delicious Oolong. I’m on the combination of infusions three and four as I type this, and I think I’ll take it for a couple more.
This is exciting-my first order from Teavivre and my first order direct from China!
I’ve never heard of this tea before, but Teavivre’s web site said this is refreshing in hot weather and with an early summer in the States, I thought it was worth a shot.
The leaves are as everyone says-thin and very dark green, almost black (Charleston Green, perhaps?). The dry leaves are very fragrant and smell like spinach and a touch of cream, or maybe even creamed spinach with a bit of nutmeg? Brewed leaves turn a very nice spinach green color.
Have made this two times. First time was 1 tsp at 175 for one minute. 2nd steep was 175 for 1:15. Very pleasant. Taste very similar to aroma. Spinachy, kinda sweet, smooth. Slightly weaker 2nd steep-but definitely worth 2 infusions.
Today I used 2 tsp at 175. First steep was 175 for 2 minutes. Liquor was a pale green-yellow, with more green in it than yellow. Spinach was the dominant flavor-really the only flavor that I can describe. Surprised that there was a bit of bitterness in this steep and I think I brewed this a little too long. Still, it was good.
Second steep: 175/2min. Maximum spinach/vegetal flavor. Zero bitterness. Clearly brewed the earlier steep too long. Liquor is paler, again slightly more green than yellow. Very enjoyable.
Third steep: Liquor is paler still. Again a bit more green than yellow in color. Flavor is weakening. Still slightly spinachy but gravitating toward what I perceive as a generic green tea flavor-a GOOD general tea flavor, but not as unique as the first two steeps.
Well, our hot spell ended before this tea arrived, so I can’t comment on its effect in hot weather, but it is a refreshing tea and I expect it to do well. I may even ice it.
I am mostly a black tea drinker, but I feel I need a bit of balance in my teas. This has worked out well and I will probably order it again-feel stupid for ordering this just before the new harvest came in. Still, excellently packaged and the tea looks and tastes very fresh.
The result from my third steep is in: it worked with the way I have been steeping it this time!
At first I was nervous because the liquor was a little lighter than the past two steeps and it didn’t smell as toasty/chocolatey as the previous two steeps. Then I sipped it and it was still pretty good. It did not taste watery like the third steeps did when I still had my first steep time at 4 minutes.
I have always wanted to try this tea with just a bit of milk and I always enjoyed it so much that I never did. I figured I would try it with this one just because. At first, the tea didn’t taste any different. Just a little creamier. Then the milk started to bring out this nice nutty taste. Creamy, nutty, and still roasty. Sadly, all the dark cocoa taste has worn off but I wasn’t expecting it to last through the last cup.
When I want it to I can make this tea last through three steepings. That makes me happy.
I almost dumped the rest of the sample into my press by accident. I shook the packet a little bit too hard and the tea just came out! As a result, I think I put a little bit more leaf than I usually do.
It came out dark and roasty. There was a hint of dark cocoa to it that I crave whenever I have this. I have been steeping at a shorter and shorter time and it comes out darker and darker. I must have used more leaf. The flat leaves don’t like fitting into my teaspoon so I have to eyeball this one.
It looks like I only have one more good sampling left of this one though. I normally get two big mugs worth of each steep, so it was a very generous sampling. I just love it so much. I will have to plan my next tea purchase and decide if I run to Teavivre right away or if I will play with 52teas.
I’m going to try a third steep again. Normally I stop with two steeps of this one, but I think the leaves might have enough punch left for a third steep. I’m on the second right now, so I will report my findings after dinner.
I brewed this just a little differently this time. I think I used a little bit more leaf and steeped for a lower time. The first steep was 3 minutes long while the second steep was 4 minutes long. This produced a more flavorful second steep and really brought out the chocolate notes in the first steep.
This is really yummy and good for any time of day. I might have to break it into two cups the next time I drink it and try one cup with a spoonful of sugar to see if that brings out the chocolate notes even more. If it does, I will have to give it to mom to try since that is how she makes her tea.
Backlogging from Vacation #4:
I did manage to bring my french press with me and brew a cup of this up for breakfast one day. I had to use bottled water and even boiled, it didn’t make the tea taste as fantastic as I remember it being. It was still good and I felt indulging making it on a camping trip. My aunt and uncle even thought that it was really cool that I was indulging in loose leaf tea. They have discovered a fondness for chamomile tea.
I have missed drinking this. My mom was eyeballing me as I made it so I offered her a sip. She took it and she said that she liked it better than the Gongfu black, but she would still prefer it with some sugar. She used to drink loose leaf but said that “it was prehistoric” and “not like this”. I think I might be getting her interested in it again because of my press.
When I was making my second steep (which I am drinking now), my brother was eyeballing my tea press. I offered him some and he took it. He just came down to tell me that it was really good and that he “didn’t know how to describe it”. I told him that we could have some tea together tomorrow.
I feel like I am slowly introducing tea to my family. My mom and brother both drink tea on occasion, but it is normally either Sleepytime (my brother’s favorite) or something like Lipton. I think I might try to find a loose leaf orange pekoe for my mom because Constant Comment is her favorite.
Backlog #6: You didn’t think I would stay away from some type of Yunnan that long now that I have this, did you? This one is a little less chocolately than the Golden Imperial Lotus from Teavana, but I don’t have to steep it as long to get a full cup out of it. I still only steep it only two times or else it just gets too weak for my taste.
I really want to know how this would taste in a latte, but I love it too much plain to drink it with milk. Maybe one day I will try it before I get other Yunnans.
I have been looking forward to this yunnan ever since my tea samples came to me. The leaves were long and slender. They wouldn’t play nicely with my flat bamboo tea spoon, so I just filled the bottom of my press with leaves. The brew is nice and dark brown. It looks like a solid black tea and I could probably fool some of my friends into thinking this was coffee. It is that dark at just three minutes.
The second steep (4 mins) is just as delicious as the first (3 mins). Bold and roasty. The second steep has a slight undertone of chocolate that I love with this tea. I keep timing my teas wrong. This is a good tea to wake up with in the morning. It is slightly heavy tasting for the afternoon, but I adore it anyway. Maybe the promise of this in the morning will actually get me out of bed earlier so I can make it.
Later… third steep at 4 and a half minutes. The flavor isn’t as strong, but it is still tasty. I think I only like doing two steepings for yunnan blacks because I like them stronger.
The chores are done, so it’s time to relax with a wonderful cup of green tea! I carefully cut open the silver package and discovered very thin, very dark leaves with a lovely aroma of spinach. The leaves are such a dark green that they look black. It reminds me of dried black moss, if such a thing exists, but with a much more appealing bouquet of aromas I’m sure.
I think I’m going to go for several steeps with this one to see how the flavors morph. This is going to be fun! I was generous with the leaf too because I almost always brew my teas too weak. First infusion for one minute, and the little leaves opened all the way up! They’re actually a very vibrant green color now that they’re open. The brewed aroma is very green, very vegetal. And the taste? Matches the aroma perfectly!
This first cup is alive! There’s no better way to describe it. It reminds me of spring, flowers blooming and grass growing. Vivacious and thriving with a nice balance between spinach and nori. It’s naturally sweet and light but also very flavorful. This is a perfect complement to my mood. :)
The greatest part of this tea is that it has a lovely lingering aftertaste. And even though it’s so green, it doesn’t taste grassy. It’s definitely a steamed veggie taste. Butter not chlorophyll. But as it cools, it loses its vibrancy. Time to move on to steep number two (176 degrees for two minutes)!
The second cup is less salty nori and…flatter. It’s still sweet, but a lot less so. It’s also no longer buttery. The first cup was definitely the best. But what’s remained constant is the lingering vegetal aftertaste, although it’s a little delayed now and less green. As this cup cools, it’s darker with hints towards, but not fully reaching, bitterness.
I don’t think this is a marathon infusion kind of tea. At least not the way I approached it with multiple long steeps. Maybe a series of short steeps would have yielded better results. Of course, now I’m sloshing with tea. So, I think I’m done for now. I was going to go for a third infusion, but I don’t think the leaves are up to it.
Still, that first cup was magic! So, I’m rating it accordingly. This is a solid choice for green tea fans.
We got our shipment from Teavivre yesterday. This means we have tea face offs to do today. Yay!
So I’m upping the rating one this one because I found I can truly enjoy it more than I had previously thought. Smooth malty grains with sweet caramel/dark chocolate like notes. I think my previous association with beer almost ruined this tea. While it still has the same grain notes I remember, I’ve picked up other flavors that I enjoy. This is rather good, especially since I can enjoy it plain.
Today we had organic vs regular bailin gongfu. Regular wins out for me. It just seems to finesse me where the organic is more bold. Bold is good, but I really enjoy the way the flavors sneak up on me in the regular.