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Recent Tasting Notes
Another gratuitous sample from Teavivre! I really wanted to try some more of their teas but I didn’t feel like sitting down to something dark, and I’d already had a cup of the Dragonwell this morning. So here goes with this one.
When I opened the sample package, I looked inside to see that the buds were a bit more curled than I’d seen previously, and there are some small leaves mixed in with the buds. Bending down to take a closer look, I was hit with a really strong scent – much more strong than I’d expected. It was a lot different too – very flavorful. Beyond the jasmine I got whiffs of peach, plum and nectarine. There’s something else there that I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe a sort of orchid scent? It almost reminds me of the forest, mossy and cool, but not dark. Regardless, it’s the best smelling unaltered white tea I’ve ever smelled.
The steeping instructions asked for 1-3 minutes; I steeped mine for approximately 2 to 3. I didn’t set a timer. After steeping, the buds look a bit of a brighter green than before, and they’ve started to unroll just slightly. The wet scent of these is similar to the dry scent, but not as strong. I’m also getting a little bit closer to the flavor I was unable to identify in the dry leaves – it smells almost mossy, somehow.
I used my 2-cup teapot for this, which is a light rose color. I really do need to get a glass or a white teapot. I’ve been eyeing the 18oz glass ForLife ones… sigh. Too many teapots, so little money. As it pours, the stream looks white. Even in the light pink teacup, I can see that the liquor is a pale yellow in color. The scent of the liquor is even fainter than the scent of the wet leaves, but it’s still along the same line.
It tastes fantastic. I haven’t had a lot of experience with yin zhen teas – I’ve tried the Teavana silver needles and David’s jasmine-scented. Both of them have been soft but fairly tasteless to me. I can hardly taste the jasmine in David’s.
But this – this is something else. I can taste the jasmine there without a doubt, but it’s light and delicate, without the overpowering dryness or “soapy” qualities it can have when used in excess. The best descriptor I can find for the tea is “round.” It’s clear and pure, mild and sweet. It’s the fullest-flavored yin zhen I’ve ever tasted, and it has its own distinctive flavor.
The first time I went into Teavana (hardly knowing anything about tea, but knowing that silver needles was considered “expensive and quality”) I asked for a cup of their silver needles so I could taste it. The girl there said “Sure, but it has a very light flavor it’s really best blended with other teas. Would you like to try that?” She blended it with another, and it was good, but this is a tea which, while very light, needs nothing extra to taste fantastic.
Thanks again Teavivre – you’ve sold me. Another one I have to add to my shopping list!
Thank you Angel and the Teavivre team for the wonderful samples!
I’ve had this tea from a few different companies. But in my opinion.. Teaviver does it the best! Most other ones have a SUPER strong licorice taste and that’s all there is to it. This one starts out as a warm, dry flavor I honestly can’t explain. Then there is a mild aftertaste of sweet licorice. I got about 3 steeps out of it. I followed the steeping directions on their website..
1st- 1 min.
3rd- 3 min.
Turned out wonderful :]
Another sample that was generously provided by the Teavivre team! Thanks!
I’ll be honest – I have not had good luck with Chinese green teas. However, I wanted to give them another try so I requested this tea in my last box of samples. The dry tea is so pretty with little curly pieces of light and dark green and there was a very clean smell. I brewed this tea up for about a minute and was greeted with a very pale (almost clear) yet shimmery liquid that smelled very sweet. Wow, this is actually good. It reminds me a bit of Silver Needles, but a bit of a greener taste. There is a bit of a fruity aftertaste that lasts long after the sip. I’m looking forward to several infusions of this beauty.
Thanks to Teavivre and Angel especially for the sample of this!
Steeped for awhile – probably about 4 minutes, so it’s a bit more grassy than I’d ordinarily like. But it’s a credit to this tea that it’s still perfectly drinkable, just different.
It has such a unique, pure flavor that I’m struggling to describe it with any words other than “Strong Dragonwell.”
Dragonwell is my favorite kind of green tea, though. I haven’t been drinking looseleaf for very long, so most of my teas have been come-and-go. Dragonwell (Teavana variety) is the only one I’ve repurchased over and over.
I trained a girl at work today, because I’m apparently the star cashier. It’s not because I’m particularly good at my job; I’ve just been there longer and I actually do my job, as opposed to some of the boys / high school kids who just kind of stand up there and text the whole time. Training is lovely, but exhausting. We’re busy for BTS anyway, and when I’m training I don’t even have the lull in between customers to myself. But she’s good, and she’s sweet, and I’m hoping she’ll learn quickly and well.
So this tea is really good to just curl up in bed with and watch old DW episodes :)
Thanks to Teavivre for this sample! Dragonwell is one of my favorite kinds of greens, so I was really excited to try this one. I brewed up a cup of it yesterday – it was morning, and I wanted a nice tea to drink, but I didn’t necessarily need much caffeine. I baked all morning for the tea party yesterday afternoon, and the stress definitely woke me up! I made shortbread cookies, vanilla scones (with the recipe DaisyChubb posted a few weeks ago – delicious!), a fruit salad and a homemade dill and goat cheese dip, and my friend made cucumber sandwiches, muffins and chocolate covered strawberries. We had so much food, and we ended up sitting around the table for seven hours just munching on all the goodies! It was a fantastic day, and the party continued until three in the morning… crazy. And then the next day I went straight to the beach all day and didn’t really get to try any new teas. Anyway, I made this tea yesterday, had a couple of sips of it, and then didn’t get to finish the cup because I was baking so frenetically!
After I drove my sister to camp today, I brewed another cup of this. And oh, it is good. I’ve been thinking about it all day. The leaves are long and flat, a pale grey-green color. The leaves smell beautiful. There’s a very quiet vegetal flavor here – I wouldn’t describe it as grassy, but green. There’s a characteristic chestnut scent there as well.
Sipping it, it tastes just the way it smells. One of my favorite things about a Dragonwell is just how clean it tastes, and this is no exception. Even though I’ve made it with regular old tap water, it tastes like I’ve made it with mineral water. I love it. It’s very light, it’s green and nutty. It’s one of the most soothing cups of tea to me. I’m in love with it. This is going into the order with that black dragon pearl tea… oh, it’s fantastic.
And our last contender, Keemun number 4! Or maybe I should call it Neg One (-1). There’s Grade 2, then Grade 1, then Hao Ya must be Zero, and this would be -1. Anyway, Neg One was courteously provided by Angel and the Teavivre team as a free sample to Missy. Continuing with the Steepster’s Digest layout:
-Similar to the Grade 1 Keemun, I’m kind of thinking of it as 1’s cooler brother
-Sweeter than the other Ks
-More grainy than malty at this point, share’s some similarity with the Bailin Gongfu
-That sweet fruitiness has returned with a passion
-Smokiness has gone away (sad face)
It’s tough to decide between this one and the Grade 1 for third place. The flavors of this tea are probably the most complex out of the Ks I’ve tried today, but I really feel like it’s missing something without that smokiness that I so enjoyed out of the “lesser quality” Ks. I put lesser quality in little quotey bits because calling any of these teas anything but awesome quality is a disservice.
This would be the K from Teavivre I would recommend to someone that was appalled by the thought of smoke flavor in their tea, but still really wanted a K in the cupboard somewhere. I still stick by what I wrote under the K Hao Ya post: depending what you’re looking for, any of the four grades of Teavivre’s Keemun are excellent choices.
This had the same dark chocolate, malty notes I expect. It did surprise me with the addition of a grainy flavor. I thought it was softer than the others. It ends well with a fruity flavor but very little smoke. In fact, I thought this one was the least smokey of them all.
While I believe all of these teas to be of equal quality, grade 2 is the one I shall keep. I like the robust qualities it shows. Thanks to Angel and Teavivre for the chance to try this one out. :D
So, Keemun number 3! Semi-backlog, as I finished this about an hour and a half ago, but I was in the middle of making dinner. So you get the Steepster’s Digest version:
-More similar to the Grade 2 Keemun than either the Grade 1 or the Superfine
-Stout, but not as as stout as the Grade 2
-Lacking a lot of the fruitiness of the Grade 1, but it’s still apparent. Just… less so.
-Not as smokey as Grade 2, but smokier than Grade 1
-Somewhere around no astringency. Very smooth.
Out of the four, this is my second favorite. It’s very, very good, but something about the Grade 2 just appeals to the blue collar in me. It’s like a working man’s tea. So yeah, if sometime in the future, Marty McFly is reading this and wondering what tea to buy… I would recommend giving all of them a shot. It’s almost like you need to toss them on a scatterplot, or some sort of four-square diagram. Depending what you’re looking for, any of the four grades of Teavivre’s Keemun are excellent choices.
This is smooth and rich with malt and chocolate notes. I find it falls a little shorter on the fruit notes than the grade 1. I also thought it had less smoke. ohmygurd where is the smoke!? The smoke I was looking for is pretty tame with this one. A great tea but I really want more in the smoke department, so grade 2 is still top dawg!
Keemun Grade 1 vs Keemun Grade 2… fight! Okay, so teas can’t really fight each other… the gloves won’t fit!
I found this tea to be extremely tasty, a very solid black tea that anyone would be lucky to have. It is dark and smooth, a little bit malty with a sweet, lightly fruity finish. I almost wrote ‘fruity finish at the end’, but I stopped myself (and then shared!). The smokiness on Grade 2 is a little lighter at first than Grade 1, but brings itself out in the aftertaste pretty prominently. It lingers on the tongue a little while, as a very pleasant memory.
Ill-fitting protective gear aside, this was a brew destined to do battle against it’s lower grade brother, and sadly it lost. At least for me. The flavors in this cup of Keemun are a little more complex than the Grade 2, but ultimately I prefer the strength and gusto of the Grade 2 Keemun. Either of them make a fantastic cup of tea… and had I not enjoyed the Grade 2 SO MUCH, the Grade 1 would feel more remarkable.
So, in an nutshell – if you like more contemplative, interesting flavor profiles, take the Grade 1. If you want a powerful cup of awesome, take the Grade 2. Or take the blue pill, and you’ll wake up tomorrow thinking this was all just a dream (I recommend the tea).
Today we have another tea faceoff. The contestants shall all be Keemun. Lovely stuff so far.
This is much like the grade 2 we tried previously but smoother and more refined. I think there is a fruity sweetness to it that the grade 2 doesn’t really have. The smoke that follows the rich, malt seems to be about the same in each. I do think that Grade 2 has my attention for now. It just feels a little more robust. This is for a more classy lady than I. ;)
Got my order from Teavivre today :D And I received this as one of my samples. I have tried this one before but it was when I was first exploring the wonderful world of pu-erh. So hopefully I’ll like this one a bit more then the last time. I’ve been playing around with my gaiwan today and thought I’d do multiple steeps for this tea. So here it goes!
1st at 10s:
The flavor is light but it’s good. It’s woodsy and sweet. There is a bit of a smokey flavor to it.
2nd at 10s:
The liquor is certainly darker. The aroma is strong and very earthy. The flavor kind of reminds me of a cigar. It’s musky, earthy, and a bit smokey.
3rd at 10s:
The liquor is a dark, velvety brown now. The aroma has lightened but it’s still pretty earthy. It’s turned very smokey and musky. There is a bit of a sweet, floral note coming through, though.
4th at 15s:
The liquor is starting to lighten up a little bit. The aroma is earthy and sweet. The flavor is earthy and has a bit of a floral\sweet note to it. This is actually my favorite so far.
5th at 20s:
This steep is mellow and quite enjoyable. The aroma is sweet and earthy. Much lighter than the last two. The flavor is sweet and earthy. A tiny, tiny bit of floral comes through.
6th at 30s:
This one is much like the first. It’s light. It has more of the earthiness to it but still has that sweet note to it.
First of all, a big thank you to Angel and Teavivre for the free samples!
This tea took a few sips to get used to. The taste is kind of earthy and musty with a super(and I mean SUPER) light floral tone. I might have let this one steep a little too long and get a tiny bit bitter, but it’s still pretty tasty.
Overall, not my favorite pu-erh but I would definitely order it again :]
Drum-roll please…. I’m back! I had a wonderful vacation in Europe. I even got to try delicious new teas from new places! Reviews coming soon! :) When I got back I found a nice big bag of samples from Teavivre waiting for me! What a great way to end your vacation! Admitedly I am swamped with work but I will make time for tea and Steepster. I missed you all while I was away!
This is the first tea from the samples that I have decided to try. I chose it randomly, and I have to admit that I am a pretty good random chooser (if I may say so myself!)!! hahaha… This tea is delicious!
The leaves are long and elegant. The dark brown and golden yellow make the leaves a pleasure to look at. The smell is incredible… It is a combination of extreme maltiness a hint of chocolate and a dash of honey. It is a party in your nose! My mouth couldn’t wait to join in!
The scent while brewing is spectacular, an extension of the deliciousness of the dry leaves. Once brewed the used leaves turn true golden and the golden brow liquor that they produce smells of fresh baked chocolate bread! I am in love… Unsweetened I get a tiny bit of welcome bitterness followed by the taste of fresh baked bread with just the right amount of maltiness and a hint of honey to finish of the sip. Wow… Sweetened a chocolate note becomes apparent and it is pleasure in a tea cup.
The second steep is just as delicious, but not quite as bold in flavor. I find it, surprisingly, a tad bit more astringent than the first, but still delightful.
This tea makes you double check if it is flavored… I really felt like I was eating freshly baked chocolate bread with honey!
A great welcome back tea! :)
I am really loving this tea! Thanks TeaVivre team! This gives a new meaning to malt, in my books. I was never a fan of malt, even as a child Whoppers disgusted me. But WOW this is such a delicious chocolate malt flavour in a tea. I’ve been steeping 5 pearls in 10-12 oz mugs, with 3 min steeps to start. This can go for at least 3 steeps, probably more. The flavour sticks around throughout the steeps as well and doesn’t get too watered down like some black teas do after the first steep. Very smoothe too. My favourite part about this tea has to be the fact that it’s AMAZING iced with some sweetner and lemon juice.
Free sample provided by Teavivre, thanks again to them. This is my first Keemun, hooray! I always love when I get to try something completely new to me. As far as aroma goes, I noticed similarities to my previous experiences with Chinese black teas, such as a malty aroma with hints of cocoa and a slight bit of honey. While the leaf was steeping, the cocoa aroma intensified and a small amount of smoke presented itself. Every tea has a tone or a feeling to it, and the tone that this tea was presenting was dark and haunting.
The taste followed suit with the aromas. Dark chocolate, lots of malt and a little smokiness. This tea has some real heft to it. It’s not bitter, but it’s intense. It’s not astringent, but it’s robust. It reminds me of some really high quality coffee in its intensity, but it lacks the acidity of coffee. The smokiness is almost like an illusion to me, you can’t smell it or taste it on nearly the same level as a lapsang souchong, you just kind of feel like it’s there.
This tea would make a great wake up cup as well as an awesome late night tea.
First site of the leaves: they seem to be very well rolled with a great mineral aroma. First steeping is pretty much what I expected. It’s definitely recognizable as an oolong because even though it’s got a lot of flavor, it’s never overpowering. Very good, clean rocky aftertaste and I’ve found that after a while it tends to dry your mouth out. My first Da Hong Pao, but I doubt my last. Thank you Teavivre!
Thanks so much to Angel and Teavivre for these samples! They took a little while to get here, but in perfect condition. Teavivre is, in my opinion, well worth the wait.
I’ve never had a black pearl tea – the only pearls I’ve ever had are the small jasmine ones. I went for that little sample packet first. Upon opening it, I was surprised by how large the pearls are, and how tightly packed. They’re mostly a dark mahogany color with little striations of a lighter yellow, sort of like pine. I suppose trees are on my mind today – it was Red Pine Forest day with my preschoolers at camp. They very much enjoyed building “mouse houses” in the dips between the tree roots!
Tea! The dry leaf smell immediately conjures up something musty and dark. There’s almost a hazelnut to it, but there’s something more than that. It sort of reminds me of walking through a darkened barn, with the scents of hay and leather hanging thickly in the air, the rustle of horses and cows as they shift about and flick their tails to ward off the flies.
Never having had a black dragon pearl this big before, I think I overdid it – I put three pearls in my little tasting cup and steeped for around 15 seconds the first time. The wet leaves have such a distinctive smell – it’s the same scent as of the dry leaf, but sharper, finer, more present. It’s not as muted. I read recently that the human nose works best in warm, damp conditions… I can definitely see that here! I don’t smell so much of the hazelnut connection as I do something burnt… not badly burnt, but deliberately charred. I can’t think of what, though. Chestnuts at Christmas? Macadamia nuts? There’s more than a little bit of dark chocolate in here too, and some notes of currant. Chocolate covered nuts? It’s bothering me that I can’t put my finger on it, especially because it’s so distinctive and I just know that there’s a name for it.
The liquor of the first steep is a warm golden-red in the white porcelain tasting bowl. I notice immediately how smooth the mouthfeel is. There’s almost no astringency or drying, and it leaves a sweet aftertaste on the tongue. The scent I identified in the scent is extraordinarily present in the taste. Usually I have a hard time distinguishing exactly what something is going to taste like based on the smell, especially straight teas (It’s much easier for me to approximate the flavors of spicy chais or fruity herbals) but there’s a direct link to the taste of the tea all the way back to the smell of the dry leaf.
Second steep, and as I pour the water into the cup it immediately blossoms a deep red. The pearls have mostly unrolled and are like spider legs climbing up the side of the cup. The liquor is a deep red-brown color. Definitely overdid it with the pearls – the first thing that hits my tongue is a strong astringency. It actually helps define the flavors I was missing earlier – it almost reminds me of a graham cracker. That coupled with the chocolate notes and the astringency in this steep – it’s like a warm summer night, all your friends sitting around a firepit, roasting marshmallows on sticks, the smoke blowing through the breeze and stinging your eyes when it’s aimed in your direction.
Possibly the best black tea I’ve ever tried!
I’m steeping three pearls now, Western Style for three minutes. It’s just as good, and I’m even getting notes of butter in the middle of it. Incredible! This tea just keeps on giving!
The last but not least from the samples given, its best described in my opinion as the cu de gra of tea itself! Comfort. The richness of natural oolong flavors just coincides with an addition of a milky flavor that’s naturally harmonious altogether, and gives the said drinker a little more comfort (think of hot milk in cold day). The milky flavor is not at all too overwhelming but as to complement a slight vegetal and nutty flavor of the oolong itself. High quality in taste, even the raw leaves are still attached to its stems! Decent and rewarding, recommended to all! Drink on Steepsterites!
Oh, jasmine. I’m not sure there’s a more intoxicating smell on this earth. It envelops you, comforts you and lets you know you’re in for a treat…it’s truly something special.
This one tastes very pure and natural. The jasmine does not smell or taste perfumey or over-the-top at all. As I sat and contemplated the imagery this tea was presenting to me, I noticed some of the same things that Bonnie identified. Pine forests and blue glacial water like in the Canadian wilderness. Then to a moonlit forest late at night, seeing the precious jasmine flower bloom before me. Wonderful. I absolutely love the imagery that tea can give me.
This is a very smooth and very sweet tea, probably the sweetest jasmine tea I’ve had. Absolutely marvelous, thank you for the sample Teavivre.
This is my first Milk Oolong type tea. Thanks to Teavivre for allowing me to sample this tea. I already love Oolongs for their nutty and buttery characteristic. So I was excited to try this one. I have a pouch of Verde au Lait that I acquired in a trade and it fell short of the goal. I made it at work and shared with my co-worker who I am making a tea lover as well. A pale yellow liquor typical with most green oolongs. I’ve been going nuts a bit with getting a week ahead on music logs since the baby will be here any day, and I’ve been re-inventing our broadcast clocks…tea is much needed. This is great! Milky? I am not really getting a milky flavor from this tea. Buttery? Absolutely! I feel like I’m in the theater enjoying a huge bucket of popcorn with double butter. For dinner last night I made garlic lime shrimp in a butter sauce. I think this would make a great butter substitute in cooking. Four tasty pots were made with the leaves.
This sample was sent to me by Angel and the wonderful Teavivre team. And many thanks to them!
This herbal tea has an amazing aroma and a beautiful color when brewed. It has a sweet pineapple/citrus flavor. I love the tart taste so I didn’t sweeten it.. But it almost reminds me of an unsweetened fruit punch. It is absolutely delicious! And I could only imagine it would be even more so iced! Definitely going to be ordering more.
First of all.. A huge thank you to Angel and the Teavivre team :] The samples they sent me were very generous.
This is a wonderful white tea. It has a floral taste to it and finishes with a fruity after taste. It is sweet and finishes a bit astringent. Such a beautiful light amber colored liquor as well.