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Recent Tasting Notes
So I still have a couple of these and had brought one to work at one point in case of pu-erh emergency. I decided to make this in my perfect tea mug with a western gongfu hybrid. After my attempt to brew the Chenpi Ripe Tangering pu-erh Western style the other day, I thought I’d better try a rinse. I got the water to a boil then did a ten second rinse. It smelled very earthy and dark (and a little fishy) after this so I did another ten second rinse. Still smells earthy, dark and strong but not offensive. The tuo pretty much collapsed at this point and my infuser is fall of very finely ground leaves, like coffee grinds (I see I had that experience with this the first time as well).
After all this, I gave it a 30 second steep which yields an aroma of earth, barn and mushrooms. Maybe damp hay. Not offensive, just strong. Like a farm, but not unpleasant. I swear! It’s not that it smells like manure, but it does smell like a wooden structure that’s lived in by animals. I think people with a rural sensibility might understand that. Or I’m crazy. :)
So indtead of writing the rest of this note, I accidentally talked with a co-worker for a while. Whoops. Impressions from the past are: it wasn’t very strong in flavour, despite the depth of colour and aroma. I was probably a little skimpy on time given the two rinses BUT leaving it like this kept it fairly fresh and allowed me to sip along mindlessly which was actually perfect in the circumstance. No strong notes really came to the fore, so my assessment of this now (with more pu under my belt) is that it is good for a casual puerh when I want something rich but am not in the mood for black tea. It’s a beginner puerh, which makes sense given that it’s a mini tuocha with tiny leaves. I’m gonna go make more now…
Okay, finally trying my puerh sample from Teavivre. Thank you Angel! I have only encountered puerh a few times before and I didn’t like it – the aroma was always fishy and I couldn’t get over it. I understand that to mean that the puerh was of low quality and lately I’ve been wanting to try some better stuff, so here I am. I also have one from Peony Tea that I hope to try soon. The tuocha (henceforth to be known as the bird’s nest) is adorable and has an aroma that reminds me of hamster cages – not pee or poo but sawdust and maybe the grains that I used to feed Jake. (We had a hamster who died a few years ago, he has a very fond place in my heart. The smell of this actually makes me miss him).
I did a thirty second rinse to awaken the leaves, and hopefully rinse away anything that I might find particularly yucky. :) Surprisingly, the bird’s nest basically crumbled. My gaiwan is full of small pieces of tea leaves, it almost looks like ground coffee. I didn’t really expect that.
First official steep went for 1 minute and yielded a DARK liquor. It truly puts me in mind of coffee, that is not something I’ve had in tea before. I am predominantly a black tea drinker and puerh seemed like the next step for me. My tea pet (a pair of feet) are getting a really good bath today! Anyway, the first steep smells like a barn to me, old wet wood and damp hay/sawdust. It smells like cows and horses coming in from the rain with damp hides – while this description may sound unappealing, there is something comforting about it too. I don’t necessarily want to drink it, but the aroma is very familiar. There is no fish at all, but just damp nature – wood, earth, animals, cloth. Interesting. The taste matches the smell astonishingly closely. Still no fish, but strong earthiness, very natural and organic. Strong without being bitter, and not like any tea I have had before. I like this, but it’s way out of my comfort zone. It doesn’t even taste like tea as I know it. I would like a bit of sweetness here, a honey note to offset the earthiness. I don’t even know if puerh HAS honey notes!
Second steep went for 1.5 minutes, yielding an even darker brew than the first time. it’s almost black! Are we sure this isn’t coffee? The leaves are so small that a bunch escaped the lid of my gaiwan. It may be silly, but I hate leaves in my cup. The aroma this time is very similar than the first. Initially it seemed a bit muted but then I got a strong hit of leather, like I’m in a shop filled with freshly worked boots. While I LOVE the smell of leather (I was a biker baby, I had leather jacket, chaps, all that good stuff) I feel a little weird about drinking it. Bravely, I persevere and am rewarded with a better brew than before. The taste is very similar to the first steep but more palatable. The edga has been taken off the earthiness and I am getting something more like the tea I know and love. There is some sweetness here that I appreciate, though there is also a hint of bitterness. It’s strange that both of those notes can be present where they weren’t before. I’ll finish this one quickly, I fear it may be becoming bitter because of the leaves that slipped into my cup. I almost expect a bit of spice, cinnamon or nutmeg but I get nothing like that. This remains very organic, tasting entirely of the earth. This is definitely better than the first, for me.
Third steep went for 2.5 minutes (whoops!) and yielded a much lighter cup. This time I am enjoying a deep amber. maybe the extra time was a wise accident. The aroma has gone back to hamster cage, wet sawdust and maybe even garden mulch. As I’ve said before, very earthy. The taste is a muted version of the aroma, no bitterness but not any sweetness either. I think I am getting close to the end of my run with this bird’s nest. The beau says this one is by far the best, while I am not sure. The boldness of the second steep was remarkable, but this one comes across as drinkable. I am starting to get a cumulative hint of bitterness which is clouding my judgment of this one.
I’m going for a fourth steep of 3 minutes. I’m too lazy to get up and re-heat the water so it has probably cooled quite a bit at this point, but the extra time seems to balance that out. This liquor is considerably lighter than the others and has very little aroma. There is a whiff of barn animals, but that’s about it. The flavour is similarly weakened. I’ve reached the end, I think. I do prefer my pu a little lighter (for now) so the second and third steeps were the best for me, but they were all enjoyable.
All in all, puerh is definitely not an everyday tea for me, but this bird’s nest has taken away a lot of my fear. There is hope for me in the world of pu! : ) As for the rating, since I have little experience with puerh, I will just go with how drinkable it is for me and perhaps adjust up or down as I try more. Since previous puerh blends were undrinkable for me, this rating is actually really high!
Thank you Angel for this generous sample. :)
I’m in a fruity mood today during my lazy Saturday afternoon and I’m hoping that this will quench my fruit thirst.
The tea itself smells sweet and fruity in a way that reminds me of jelly babies. Yum Yum. The hardest part is to leave this brewing for the whole 9 minutes. The tea soup is a very dark purple in colour with a berry fragrance.
The tea itself is heavy berry without being too tart and fruity whilst remaining quite light and refreshing. Usually with fruit tea’s I am reminded of cordial with hot water but this tea is different, the fruit tastes natural which brings that fresh and slightly sweet characteristics alive. It picks up strength a little the more I drink but it still remains with the same balance of flavours.
Overall I think this is surprisingly tasty and pleasing. I would recommend this tea to any fan of Teavivre or fruit tea, perhaps even to someone who just wants to wash their pallet between other tea steeps.
I got this tea and my colleagues were all super excited about trying it out. I mean, who wouldn’t want to get a taste of some Da Hong Pao, the tea of the imperial courts which cured an emperor?
With that expectation, this tea fell flat – don’t get me wrong, the tea was not bad. It just wasn’t great. The liquor was a bright reddish, and the taste was earthly and mellow. The aftertaste was not sweet and very mild.
Brewed gongfu style in yixing pot. Brew times: 30s, 1m, 2m, 3m.
Just a few brief thoughts, as I sadly ran out of this tea. This was part of a large sampler purchase from Teavivre. We are making our way through our selections. I must say this tea stands out. It is tastes almost honey-like with a dark coppery look to it. Delicious through at least two steeps. Needs no sweetener but is very good with a little honey. So good my husband pilfered into my sample!! We will certainly be buying this tea, likely in bulk. My new favorite black.
This tea was a sample from Teavivre that I have taken forever to get around to. :( I did make this tea once with a scoop of spearmint, but I didn’t feel it would be fair to rate this without trying it first on it’s own. Firstly, it did mix very well with the mint. Sweet and refreshing with a vegetal and malty background.
The tea on it’s own tastes very good as well. I love the shiny little pellets of dry leaf. It reminds me a bit of how green oolong looks, only oolongs aren’t usually so shiny. The brewed liquor is a bit darker than other green teas I’m used to. Darker than some oolongs even. The taste is sweet and slightly toasty. To be honest, it’s not a very memorable flavor. The quality is, as always, top notch. This is exactly what a gunpowder tea should be, but not the tea itself is not extraordinary or unique. I do love that it is smooth and without a hint of astringency. I think I will probably continue to add mint to this tea.
On an unrelated note, holiday cookies are making me fat. It doesn’t help that it’s so cold I don’t feel like going out to run lately. argh.
I generally turn up my nose at the bitter and nondescript jasmine tea served at Chinese restaurants, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this tea. I opened the pouch and was immediately greeted by the potent perfume of sweet jasmine blossoms. The floral scent is no less striking when steeping and drinking the tea. The jasmine flavour does not overwhelm the palate, not even after a few cups. The tea is neither bitter nor astringent, but sweetly perfumed. It is truly a bouquet in a cup. The second steeping is lighter, but still decidedly jasmine. This is the finest jasmine tea I have ever tried.
Brewed gongfu style in a yixing pot.
Brew times: 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 1m, 2m, 3m
Dark brown liquor with a tint of golden. The aroma is gently earthly, but the taste is smooth and sweet aftertaste. I have not drank much loose pu-erh yet, but I do find the taste to be more mellow than pu-erh in cake form. Overall, I enjoyed this tea, but I am left wanting a more robust flavor towards the later steepings.
Thank you Angel of Teavivre for this sample.
I admit I was wary to try this tea. It is one of those teas that people either love or hate, and I wasn’t sure where I’d fall in the mix. Turns out I am a fan. There is a wonderful smokiness that is present in smell and taste, but it does not dominate the tea. There are also sweet notes (honey maybe?) and hints of fruit. Wow, this it’s really good!
This is the fourth Teavivre sample I’ve tried, and I can see myself purchasing each one. I can’t say this makes me sad. :)
I got hooked on the Black Dragon Pearl from Teavana. It is actually one of my top 3 teas. I decided to try it from Teavivre since it is much more cost effective and the description is exactly the same. As soon as I opened it up I noticed the scent was a bit different. Visually the Teavivre and Teavana pearls look exactly the same so I figured it might be still taste the same. But no.
I really didn’t get much of the earthy malty flavor that I loved in the Teavana version. I tried so many different variations but I could not get it to taste anything close. The earthiness in the Teavivre brand tasted slightly pu’erish (very slightly) and I don’t like pu’er teas.
I gave up on comparing it to the Teavana version and just tried to enjoy it for what it was but it didn’t do anything for me. Now I have 3.5 ounces of tea to get rid of.
THANKS TO ANGEL FOR THIS SAMPLE…THEY ARE GREATLY APPRECIATED
These are beautiful leaves and so aromatic. This tea is extremely satisfying even before the first sip. It may sound a bit geeky, but to watch these vibrant green leaves open up and release an undeniably beautiful aroma could be considered a transcendent experience.
The somewhat grassy dry aroma, when awakened, blossoms into a very green, asparagus-like aroma mixed with floral overtones. A very enticing lt. green liquor also emits a slight evergreen scent.
This lightly oxidized oolong possesses a delicate taste that is pleasing and noteworthy enough even to someone (me) who usually demands and enjoys the big, bold tastes of shu puer. The taste has the complexity most will enjoy. Green beany, asparagusy vegetal predominate, but there are a host of others which I am unable to concisely identify. Nonetheless, multiple flavors abound in this cup.
Obviously, this is a high quality tea,possessing attributes typical of many good Taiwan oolongs. This tea has a very clean, pleasant throat. A subtle throat belonging to a subtle tea. One shouldn’t expect more.
My only regret regarding this oolong is that I exhausted the leaves when I could have drunk more.
This is a very nice, complete oolong with no obvious flaws.
It’s a really hot day here in New Zealand (being summer and all), so was in the mood for something refreshing. Upon opening the packet I wondered if this was going to make my mouth pucker when steeped, as it smells quite tart. I was definitely wrong however. When steeping this smells absolutely gorgeous! Very similar scent to when I make berry syrup oddly enough.
8 minutes – Ooh, this is quite nice. Not what I expected, but in a good way. It’s on the far end of light, moving towards medium strength at this stage, so I figured I’d let this one steep longer.
10 minutes – Very good, but now I’m interested in seeing how strong this will go before compromising the flavour – which is SO good! Not the most logical thought process for a tisane, but the man likes his flavor hits and I’ll be making an iced version at the same time.
16 minutes – Better and better. It’s now reminding me of a refreshing juice, but really hot obviously.
23 minutes – This is where I decided to stop, but I reckon that you could easily go for much longer and not have the tartness develop too much. Excellent blending by Teavivre. The flavour overall is an interesting one. It doesn’t scream apple, but there is a strong apple aftertaste. I definately get the lemon and verbena. I’ve never tried roselle before, but assuming that is the bulk of what I’m tasting, it’s lovely. Kind of berry-ish, but not. Hard to explain. The rosehip note has come out more and more the longer it’s steeped.
I tried this cold in three different ways;
Straight – Much more tart when cold (this is probably a “thing”, but I’m new to iced teas). Still refreshing, but I prefer it sweetened when cold.
Sweetened with sugar – Yum. I can tell this will be the man’s favorite.
Sweetened with honey – Yum! The honey I used has a very distinctive flavor (a native called Manuka) but they go together really well.
On the whole, hot or cold, this is an excellent fruit tea! I will definitely be including this in my next Teavivre order, and am curious about their other ones.
This is a very pleasant puer!!! It seems I have been drinking almost exclusively puer lately. This is probably due to the fact that my dear wife’s stomach is acting up and Puer is the only tea she can drink. The Chinese attribute a lot of health benefits to Puer, and in a culture where, “food is medicine”, puer does seem like a very healthy drink. If even half of its attributed benefits are true, I should live be ~178.
Anyway, I’m rambling…onto the tea
Usually one can describe puer specifically, and tea generally in associative terms, i.e. leathery, nutty etc. This puer, however, is a little different. Both the aroma and the taste don’t necessarily have noteworthy associations. Rather, this tea is pure, clean, whole, complete. I’m really enjoying this! It is soooo smooth and crisp, not like tea at all.
I normally steep puer short, from 5-15 sec. After several short steeps (all enjoyable cups), I decided to let it steep for 90 secs to see what would happen. I was yet again rewarded with a smooth, subtle and wholesome cup.
I enthusiastically recommend this tea. Not because of its complex flavors, but because of its complex nature.
I got some awesome lip balms in today from momo! I had the hardest time choosing which ones to keep. I need to give three as gifts but I want them all! aaargh. You can buy some here!
I think they would make great holiday gifts. :)
So this tea! I’ve read nothing but praise for this, and today, I am totally understanding why. The dry leaf smells sweet like cookies. The tea tastes like dark cocoa and rock sugar. mmmm… The color is a bit lighter than expected, but the flavor is full on nonetheless. I can also taste some toasted grains. Maybe like the dark crust of some excellent multigrain bread. I’m adding this to the list of black teas to buy again!
TeaVivre has sent me some samples that have been just delicious and this is no exception. this is a delicious raw Pu-erh with a flavor profile very similar to a 1995 that i am wildly fond of from Portola Coffee Lab here in Orange County CA that costs three times as much. this tea is earthy and woody, slightly smoky, a bit dry and astringent with only the slightest hint of vegetal finish. there are some subtle fruit notes in the middle of the sip, but having just realized my last sip is gone i’ll have to wait till i steep another cup of this golden elixir from the generous sample provided to give you accurate 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.