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Recent Tasting Notes
This is my favourite of the samples TeaVivre has sent me so far. The leaves are quite small, so like someone else has suggested on here, Western brewing might be the way to go.
2 tsp, 500ml, 2 mins: the taste is smokey and sweet! I couldn’t believe how much I liked it considering the smokey smell and taste. Not like the smokeyness I’ve tried in a couple pu’erhs, but a really mellow, [b]sweet[/b] smokey taste. For me this was a pleasant surprise!
Well, this certainly tastes like tea…ummm, let me clarify that, I love this tea, not because its sweet or exotic or complicated, I’ve had plenty of teas that are amazing, white/black mixes, oolongs with fruit or edible flowers, ,y last two reviews here spring to mind, tea’s that I love none the less but are so complex they lose that one fantastic aspect of tasting like… well tea.
Yun Nan Dian Hong from Teavivre is probably the best tea I’ve had in a long time, and its all due to the simple fact its uncomplicated, delicious, and amazingly unrefined, its simply good black tea. Simply good if not simple, there is a lot of flavor to this tea, a subtle taste, that’s neither as heavy as my other favorite (second favorite now?) black, Yunnan noir by adagio, a little more delicate, a light smoky almost burn sugar taste, but is still well in the confines of a delicious morning black. I struggle to describe it honestly. One of those things that’s better experienced in the first person rather then the third.
As for the technical I followed the advice of the lovely Strayer (Who also sent me this tea in the first place, and therefore will be loved forever) and steeped for less then four minutes at a nice high temp of 180-185, it steeps into this rich golden brown, amber color that is nearly as pretty as it is delicious, and the aroma of the drained leaves is amazing as well, definitely a good morning tea something to take your mind off the fact you had to roll out of bed before noon.
You do need to watch your time and temp though, this is actually my second attempt at the tea and its well, sensitive, my first attempt was only about a minute or two longer, and ten or 15 degrees less and it didn’t quite ruin the tea, but it wasn’t nearly as good, it may be a black but it behaves like a green, a few misplaced seconds or degrees here or there, steeping it in glass instead of insulated ceramic, this all seems to make an actual difference, its more then worth the effort, but don’t be surprised if your first attempt isn’t exactly prefect, on that note I’m going to toy with the time and temp a bit, and see if I can get even more out of this tea.
In short, because I might of over cooked this review, if you want a pure strait forward, but none the less uncompromisingly delicious black tea, you need to do yourself a service and at least try this, it really is amazing.
Well, look what I found!
I wanted a pure black tea for breakfast this morning, and going through my Teavivre samples there was a small red packet hiding down at the bottom. Hooray for surprises!
Steep notes: entire packet into 8 oz. tea at below parameters. No additives.
Guh – the dry leaf! Malty black teas are my favorite – they are so heavy and rich to smell. They are also among my favorite to look at once steeped – the brown liquor is the color of polished mahogany.
The taste is malted honey, and the texture is thick – almost like nectar. Even as it cools nothing is overly tannic or astringent with this. Just a perfectly well executed black tea, that I’ll be taking through a few more infusions since I’m not ready to stop drinking yet!
When I looked through my box of Teavivre samples tonight I was between this one and the Yunnan Dian Hong. This one won because it’s smell was a tinge darker and more earthy compared to the slightly brighter (maybe fruity?) scent of the Yunnan.
But I remembered that this tea had a note of smoke when I made it previously, so I decreased the steep time by about 30 seconds to avoid it. It worked pretty well, I think – the cocoa notes I got before are stronger than the smoke essence. It still retained its thick texture, and seemed very bready to me again tonight.
It is still perfect without additives, and I think because of the reduction in smoke I will raise it up a few points. A wonderfully satisfying black tea.
This was another generous sample from Teavivre!
Preparation notes: I used 4 tsp. of this (about 1.5 of the enclosed red packages) to 500 ml. water and steeped at the below parameters in my Breville.
The smell of the dry leaf is malty and rich – it smells kind of bready, too. It’s a characteristic black tea smell for me and I love it! The scent carries over into the steeped leaves, with the addition of a slightly smoky note. The steeped liquor turned a mahogany brown.
At first the taste is mildly smoky – not my favorite. But there’s a lot of complexity to it as well – a cocoa kind of smoky. Once it cools down a bit more the smoky taste goes away and just the malty, cocoa taste remains. The mouthfeel is quite thick and chewy in this, too, an added bonus and a quality I love in black teas. I’m enjoying this without sweetener, but I think this would lend itself well to honey over sugar if you must add something – I think because there’s a light honey accent in the steeped tea.
This is a very good complex tea with alot of layers, and despite the smoke I will have no problem polishing off the 2 cups. I think it is the more tolerable of smoky teas I’ve tried, and it is definitely worth drinking through til it cools to get some of the chewy cocoa flavors.
Tea sample provided by Teavivre for review
Finally got a chance to brew this eastern style (short steeps). I wouldn’t have even given it a thought had I not seen Teavivre’s guide to brewing Keemun tea, where they used a clay teapot for short steeps. Unfortunately I don’t have one of those for black tea, but I do have a gaiwan.
Drinking from the first steep, I’m picking up on very strong tea flavour, notes of floral, pungent, malty, and a hint of smokey. Drinking again, there is caramel, spices, baked apple notes. Truly a delightful experience for my senses.
Second up tastes quite the same. Here I enjoyed the heavy tea body more.
Third cup had a change in flavour; a bit less smooth black tea body and more malty astringency. There is also a velvety texture, deep rich flavour with wonderful pungent body in my cup.
Fourth cup had another noticable change in flavour. Still nice flavour, but the tea body is becoming more mellow now. The spices notes are becoming more bolder, especially pepper and cinnamon.
Fifth cup had a much stronger smoky flavour. Tea body is becoming more mild but still flavourful. Not bland at all.
Ending on the sixth cup, the flavour is still good, but becoming less interesting. I think I can taste my original water, which is usually a good indication of where to stop. If I were a Keemun fanatic I could resteep again, but I am satisfied ending here.
This was quite a nice experience given the fact that I am dealing with broken leaf. I prefer this short steep method mostly because I use more leaf and less water than western style. This allows me to brew some very aromatic and bold cups of tea.
Up’d my rating because short steeping this tea has been a more enjoyable experience.
Personally I love the strong pungent flavour that brews from the 2 tsp of leaves I used. But if you do not like such bold tea, I recommend 1 tsp.
100ml gaiwan, 2 tsp, (rinse, 30s, +10s resteeps)
Please note that if you use a gaiwan, I recommend using a tea strainer over your teacup or “fair cup”. And by strainer I don’t mean those big infusers. (If you’re not sure what I mean, check google images)
Unwanted tea advice: I think that if you love drinking unflavoured tea often, it’s worth buying a gaiwan to enjoy the experience of short steeping tea. (I paid like $10 for a gaiwan and 4 cups in Toronto. So your gaiwan purchase does not have to be expensive to be good!)
Tea sample provided by Teavivre for review
Smelling the tea leaves and then liquor, nothing bad jumps out at me. Seems like typical stuff for Keemun.
Taking in the first few sips, I get that pungent malty flavour and something floral, but it’s a mellow flavour. Then I taste “tea” flavour, followed by something nutty and smoky.
Overall I feel that this is a nice Keemun without too many bold flavours. I tend to like it a bit more bold, but I can see this as a nice Keemun to get into. I’ve always enjoyed this type of tea, so it did not have to try hard to impress me. :)
Teavivre has instructions on their website for this prepared gongfu style, and I might try that. However due to the broken leaves (which are typical, not saying it is bad) I think this tea is best suited for long steeps in a teapot (western style).
200ml glass teapot (filled mostly), 1 1/2 teaspoons, 1 steep
This is probably the fourth sample from Teavivre and I again find myself in love with this tea (ok there was that moment where it went down the wrong pipe – but that was all my fault). It is very delicate and the leaves are light and fuzzy. I used my clear tumbler/infuser to watch the magic happen. It was a good show. ;) The first steep was more vegetal, while the second steep brought out more of the flowery taste. But I enjoyed both. I’m going to try for one last steep. I sense another order to Teavivre coming after the holidays! Many thanks to them for this sample!
My previous experiences with white tea have been few and far between, and not particularly exciting. It’s not that I dislike white tea, I just like a less subtle tea experience most of the time.
Anyway, this tea is beautiful to look at. The leaves are very complete, dark green with silver, and fuzzy. They smell a little on the sweet side, and fresh. Previously, I’ve gotten all sorts of weird aftertastes with white teas, particularly Adagio’s. This just tastes delicious. I guess this is what white tea is supposed to taste like! It reminds me of spring, of being out in the grass and sunlight. There is a hint of vegetal green tea flavor, but I like it.
I don’t know if this was just a Georgia thing, but when I was a kid, there was this sort of wild grass that if you pulled the longest piece, there would be a tip on the blunt end that was white and edible. It tasted just like this.
This is what a satisfying white tea is like. Now I think I understand. I’ve just had bad white teas in the past!
I have to admit, I did not have high hopes for this tea. After googling roselle and learning that it’s hibiscus, I was ready to hate this drink. Then my husband requested an iced tea for dinner. So I brewed this up sort of light hoping to mitigate the overwhelming tartness I was expecting, poured it over ice and sugared it up. Wow. This is good. Is that really hibiscus? Is it because I made a light brew? Is it the sugar? Whatever it is, it’s good. It’s softly tart. But mostly, it’s fruity and delicious. Lightly blueberry and more grapey. The juiciest fruit tea of all time.
I ate the berries after brewing. They were tasty and very sweet. I would have eaten more of them, maybe saved them for oatmeal the next day, but they were full of seeds. I probably could have made a second steep. I have enough for a cupful another time. More experimentation laaater. I usually don’t buy fruit teas because they tend to disappoint, but this is certainly one I will consider.
Yum yum! I love how sweet and nutty this tea is. It’s amazing how different various green teas can be from one another in taste. I definitely appreciate them way more than I ever did before. Actually my appreciation of these greens makes me not as interested in some of the flavored green teas I used to like a lot… those bases just seem so boring in comparison. I do love the occasional flavored green with a really interesting base, but I don’t see them as much.
This time I dumped a fair amount of leaf into my steeping basket and hoped for the best. I think I can call it a success. It’s still very pale but the tea is pretty flavorful; nicely nutty and a hint sweet. I definitely enjoy this one when I’m looking for a nice, light green tea that’s not very grassy. That chestnut flavor is great and I could see this being a nice tea to have with a meal as well.
Man, I think I still didn’t get enough leaf with this tea. This cup is tasty but very light. I steeped it for 3 minutes because after 2 it just seemed way too light, and it’s clearly a tea that is pretty forgiving as far as steep times go because it has no hint of bitterness or overcooking. Maybe I’ll have to break down and actually weigh this one to make sure I’m getting enough leaf in.
First of all I have to say thank you so much to Angel Chen and Teavivre for providing me with so many samples for tasting. Along with a few samples of teas I know I like—Tie Guan Yin and jasmine pearls—I requested a few of the green teas I’m not familiar with but was intrigued by their descriptions. Up to this point I have generally only drank flavored green teas. So I guess this review comes with a helping of ignorance about green teas, but you have to start somewhere, right?
The dry leaves smell a bit grassy, like I tend to associate with green teas. The leaves are very long and spindly, which means I was unsure about my portioning, but I forged ahead since the directions actually used a teaspoon measurement. The steeped tea is very light, a hint of mint green color. The aroma is surprising to me: buttery, a bit floral, almost like a green oolong, but lighter and fresher. It really doesn’t smell much like the dried leaf. The flavor is a bit vegetal and grassy (green tea-ish, really), but it’s also buttery, floral and a hint sweet. I do think I didn’t use enough leaf for this cup, but I’ll remedy that next time. I’m really enjoying this one even slightly weak, so I’m really interested to see how it brews up with more leaf. I could definitely see myself exploring more of this type of green tea.
Between taking up my range during an ill-planned cooking extravaganza and just general busy-ness, I have been sticking to tried and true teas and chugging apple cider. But I have a new mug from my favorite hockey team (go Stockton Thunder!) and I just received a new bunch of samples from TeaVivre, so I figured it was time to get adventurous again.
I’m not really sure how to describe the smell of this one. It sort of reminds me of roasted nuts, but without any hint of nut, if that makes any sense. Roasted tea? I don’t know, but it’s nice.
I went with the water a little hotter than recommended because I am impatient. The aroma turned very slightly sweet or maybe a little malty once the water hit the leaves. Again, having trouble placing the scent, but it’s still very nice.
The tea is fantastic. I think I’ve said that about everything I’ve tried from TeaVivre, but I have been really impressed with all of their teas and this is no exception. It’s not malty at all, but it does come through with a smooth, strong black tea flavor that turns very slightly sweet and nutty as it hits the back of your tongue. I’m getting maybe some chocolatey hints, too.
Overall, this is one of those teas I could drink all day (and one of these days, I’m going to pick up those empty sachets and start bringing good tea to work with me so I can do just that).
(Sample provided gratis by TeaVivre for review.)
Water: 750ml 195°F
Tool: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker BTM800XL
Steep Time: 2 minutes
Dry Leaf Smell: fresh, vegetal
Steeped Tea Smell: vegtal, light, floral
Flavor: smooth (but not silky) vegetal, sweet
Liquor: translucent yellow-green
Resteep: 195°F 2 min
same quality, slightly darker, odd stronger on steep two, i guess the leaves being open made a difference
Resteep: 195°F 2 min
same quality as the second
Resteep: 195°F 2 min
same quality, touch weaker
refrigerated – BLEH not good cold
At this point I gave up
The leaves could have probably done another cup
Not the best I’ve had but a good iron goddess, slight nuttiness, smooth vegetal, just keep it hot.
Rating: 3/4 leaves
Well, this tea is tarter than I remember it being. But I may have let it steep too long (suggested is 8 minutes). I got a little sidetracked with excitement over scoring a Dray Dream Coat from Enlightened Platypus over on Etsy! Long story short I’ve been wanting one of her coats for ages and I finally managed to find mine!
Anyway…this time around the orange is really the flavor frontrunner tonight. I get hints of the apple and black currants, but orange def. dominates. Yikes…so much for a nice soothing cuppa before bed. However, I think I’ll still sleep pretty well. :)
*Knocking it down for the super tart flavor going on tonight.
I included this in my order with Teavivre after trying a few of the samples they sent (I still have a few more to try/review). I’m always looking for a good herbal…this could be a contender. There are nice big fruit pieces in the bag. (Their packaging is awesome – love that they double package their teas.) This tea smelled amazing when I opened the inside pouch. It smelled equally awesome as I let it steep too. I can really taste the black currants (a new favorite). This is very relaxing and I suspect would be awesome iced too. Shame its getting really chilly here or I would be tempted to try it.
Tea provided by Teavivre for review
I decided to short steep Silver Needles just after my Bai Mu Dan session to compare the two teas that Teavivre sent me samples of.
First steep was much creamier, and the vegetal, fruit, floral and spice flavours taste more balanced. I liked how part of the spices notes reminded me of cinnamon and raisin flavour.
Second through sixth steeps were all consistent in flavour. Perhaps due to the longer first steep, I didn’t taste an increase of boldness with each cup. All of the flavour I tasted in the first steep continued on with the same level of intensity until the fifth steep. The last two steeps (fifth and sixth), were weaker than the rest but it still tasted very much like Silver Needles and not just water.
Overall, I found Silver Needles to be a much smoother, refined white tea than Bai Mu Dan (as to be expected). Depending on your preference, having a consistent flavour across all short steeps can be a pro or a con. Personally I prefer being able to taste some changes between steepings. I enjoy the flavour of Silver Needles more, but Bai Mu Dan gives me more to think about.
When deciding what tea I prefer, having these tasting sessions close to each other really helps me decide based on the differences and similarities that I would have otherwise not noticed. If you haven’t tried sampling two similar teas side by side, or steeped one after another, I really recommend trying it sometime.
Tea sample provided by Teavivre for review
Follow up to my last tasting note on this tea
Prepared this in my gaiwan, because the company website mentions you can steep this 5-6 times. So that is usually my tea vessel of choice when I resteep that much.
Surprisingly all of the steeps were very tasty and even the sixth steep had good character. Up’d my rating for this because I’ve grown to appreciate and love it even more.
100ml gaiwan, 1 packet (5g), 6 steeps (rinse, 1 minute for the first two steeps, then +1 min for resteeps)
Tea sample provided by Teavivre for review
Scent from the dry leaves reminds me of straw (in a good way). The liquid aroma brings out some melon and cucumber notes.
Onto drinking it, I taste very subtle flavours; melon, cucumber, essence of spring, straw, something sweet, “tea” flavour. It goes down very smooth, the texture is kind of fuzzy and velvety. I’d say this is more comforting than it is refreshing.
The second steep yielded much of the same flavours. My husband liked it, but felt this was too subtle for him.
Overall this is very similar to Bai Mu Dan, but here the leaves are all buds. The buds make for a very smooth tea, with no obvious faults poking your mouth as you drink. I think trying “plain” white tea once (Bai Hao Yin Zhen or Bai Mu Dan) is a good experience. If you’ve only had the flavoured stuff before, the original tea flavour can be lost.
Personally, I enjoy white tea because it’s not too heavy on the flavour and doesn’t become too grassy like some green teas.
Next time I brew this, I’ll try multiple short steeps in the gaiwan. The Teavivre website lists 5-6 steeps, so I will aim to get the same results.
200ml glass teapot (filled to the brim), 1 packet (5g? 2 tsp?), 2 steeps
This is easily one of the best Dragonwell’s I’ve had to date. OMG, The smell! Immediately after opening the package, I was completely amazed by the smell! It kind of reminded me of fish food flakes (I MEAN THAT IN THE BEST WAY POSSIBLE). It had that light, oceanic smell. The taste followed up on the smell’s promise. It was fantastic! Super-fresh, high-grade Dragonwell. It was more vegetal than most Dragonwell’s I’ve tried. It was a little less on the nutty/toasty side, which was great by me!
Finished off my sample of this today. I made it for my commute cup of tea, and then again when I got home. I’m sad to see it go, but not too sad, because I know I’ll be ordering more. And I’ll also be ordering Teavivre’s keemun and bai lin gong fu as well, because after sampling, I’m addicted.