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Recent Tasting Notes
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.
This is a fairly large sample from Teavivre (enough for three or maybe four brews) made in my new yixing pot :)
This is a very nice, mellow pu’erh! The flavor isn’t as heavy as the other’s I’ve had, and it seems like it would be a good “introduction” pu’erh with less shock factor than some.
Dry Leaves: The dry leaves have a pleasant and sweet roasted chestnut smell without any compost-yness. Its just nice and roasty, and smells the way I imagine a fully oxidized ti guan yin would. The wet leaves are fairly large.
Brewing: The tea is a nice bright red color, very deep, but not quite is brown/burgundy as the other pu’erhs I’ve tried.
Tasting: The tea is very mild and sweet with flavors of milk chocolate, walnut, buckwheat honey, barley, and roasted mushroom.
This tea arrived today promptly from Teavivre. Brewed in an ‘inginuiTea’ grandpa style. 30 seconds, 1 min. 2 min.
Dry: faint aroma of smoky fall leaves. sweetness
First: 30 sec. Smooth. Slightly green flavor. Sweet. slightly smokey. Dry finish. Faint aroma of sugar caramelizing in the distance.
Second: 1 min. Considerably better flavor. Smoother yet. Green flavor gone, as sweet. Faint smokiness. Very clean flavor.
Third: 2 min. Aroma of almost caramel corn, smoky. Smmoooth. very similar to the second. Good.
Really a nice tea. Recently into Oolong teas. I fell in love with Phoenix Dan Cong and thought I’d try this one. Not a disappointment.
Very good quality tea. Super smooth and clean taste.
Footnote: This tea really lasts. I brewed it 7-8 times and it kept me alert for a long day. The taste remains nearly equal to the third brewing. amazing
I am currently enjoying my third and fourth infusion of this tea. It’s really quite lovely. It started out with a distinct mineral-y/charcoal-y kind of taste, with notes of flower in the background, and a warm, toasty kind of overtone. Now, I notice some of the mineral/charcoal notes have begun to wane, and a woodsy note seems to have taken their place, and this melds wonderfully with the warmth of the roasty-toasty taste. The floral notes have begun to reveal a honey-esque tone that is quite lovely.
I like that this tea is not overly floral, offers hints of fruit (I notice a slight peach-y undertone), and that it has such a warmth to it, especially since I’m kind of dealing with COLD bones because I’ve been working off and on in my studio, and dang it’s cold in there! I come in here to warm up with a cup of tea, and this tea does the trick.
so this tea i got free from Teavivre They gave me like 5 teas and this is the 2nd one i have gotten to try.. Also this is my First Milk Oolong!
The color is such a pail green i had to Look at other peoples tasting notes to see that this was how this tea was suppose to look. the smell i cant place its such a nice sweet smell but i cant place the other notes its too hot for me to Drink at this moment in time so we must wait as to not burn my mouth and kill the Beauty of this tea…jeopardy Song plays i can not even tell you or put into words now wonderful this tea is… its making me speechless… the sweet notes are wonderful and there is that hint of warm milk with the smell of the beauty of earth in a little leaf… how can one put into words such a wonderful tea! i love this tea! And will be searching for more Oolongs!!
Thanks to Rachel Sincere for a sample of this tea.
This may or may not be my first Keemun, I’m not sure. I definitely don’t have much experience with them. Teavivre said to use 7g of tea for an 8oz cup, but that seems a bit much. That’s almost 3 teaspoons, is that right? I just used 1 and a half, and steeped it for a minute. It tastes fine to me.
There’s some interesting notes in this tea. I’m getting some chocolate, malt, and some heartiness, too. As it cools I find that it’s still enjoyable and doesn’t get too bitter too quickly. There’s definitely fruity tones to it that pop more, as it cools.
Also, according to the description this tea has lots of flouride. No need to brush my teeth now (haha – just kidding).
This my first sample and tea from Teavivre. Thank you for the chance to try your teas. It will be a great help in my discovery of this world of tea.
I brewed 7g in 8oz water for 1m. It has a wonderful creamy, vegetal taste. It finishes with just a bite of bitterness (the good kind). I love this tea.
2infusion 2m, similar to the first
3infusion 3m, smoother, but still flavorful.
leaves are wonderful to look at in the glass.
This one is a long time coming, I apologize, it has been a busy year!
The dry leaves were beautifully wound balls, very fragrant and sweet smelling. They were a healthy green shade with some white as well.
As they steeped they unfurled nicely. They revealed full leaves and buds with a damp smell, almost like an after rain smell of jasmine.
The first steep was for 1:30. This produced a pale gold liquid with a light fragrance. The tea tasted strong but not overwhelming of jasmine.
The second steep went for 1:40. The leaves unfurled completely producing a slightly darker liquid with a light fragrance. The tea lost some of the strength of the jasmine but I think that it would have been better if I steeped it longer, still good though!