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Recent Tasting Notes
Thanks to Angel at Teavivre! I tried this today and I must say, I am impressed. Steeped Gongfu style, it provided a much needed calmness to my morning.
Dry the leaves give faint notes of cream. The liquid color is pale yellow. I went 5 steeps on this and only the 5th was noticeably less in flavor. Still good, the 5th steep was just lighter. As Dinosara noted, it lacks the intensity of ATR, owing mostly to the stated fact that ATR uses TQY. I hadint known that before but it makes sense now.
I have been a devoted fan of ATR’s Milk oolong but I think for the price, I have a new favorite.
An order will be following.
Second Review. Sample thanks to Angel at Teavivre.
I mentioned in another review that Sunday the temp. here in the Rockies was 81 and today when I woke up it was SNOWING! Good Grief! Right away I know I wanted a great Pu-erh and decided to review this one a second time. I used my PIAO I glass pot which is easy to brew Pu-erh and observe all the color and action of the leaves. I sat my tray by the patio window watching the snow when a huge robin joined me…sitting and watching for a long while. (later the snow went away and turned into light rain…the first in 7 months…and the forcast for the next 10 days is back to the 70’s). All the steep times 4minutes.
1. The small Toucha with the rosebud on top has a hidden world inside. Who could guess what after one quick rinse and a 4 minute steep such an extra-dark beef-broth colored liquor could extract from such an innocent looking pebble. There isn’t a fishy-foul smell or sour odor or bad taste to this clean, gentle Pu-erh. For the first time ever I am NOT running to add sweetening or milk to temper the earthiness on the first steep. This is very clean tasting and has an bit of earthy, dark and musty cave scent and flavor with a slight mineral finish. I can’t taste any rose but I do taste a little caramel.
2. The leaves now smell like hot, wet leather.(That will get you to buy Pu-erh!)…so now that I have your attention, the liquor is still dark Chocolate Brown. The rosebud is floating at the top of my steeper like a submarine and the Pu-erh leaves are heavily sinking to the bottom like wet mulch. Oh the flavor is beautifully mellow even more than before. Slightly sweet with the perfect level of Pu-erh earthiness that lovers of this type of tea crave. Straight up this is a delight. The slightly astringent finish is not bitter or dry. I added sweetening to see what would happen and the caramel jumped out as a surprise. I added cream and decided that this is THE perfect choice for latte’s…the one I would share with my best friend!
3. The color has changed to a lighter Whiskey Brown…with a very light and gentle taste. Hints of earthiness are now very fresh and clean straight up. The flavor is sweet and medium juicy with a little tannin. There is a little smoke. I caught another scent and had to think about it for awhile….hum….the scent is like when I wash and clean Kale…when I am ripping off the leaves from the stem. (Sorry, best I can do on that one).
This was a nice morning ritual. Great tasting snowy/rainy day Pu-erh. Delicious!
I just drank about 24oz. of Pu-erh in less than an hour so I’m done at 3 steepings for now…gurgle…but this is so delightful! Teavivre is sending me some more Pu-reh’s to review which is exciting for me! I do so want to learn more about them! I have found that they take my appitite away and I need to drop some weight. Good side effect!
Last Note For lunch I made a Vietnamese Sweet Yellow Curry Soup with coconut milk and green peas and cilantro for color. I needed some added richness, ah ha! I still had Pu-erh from the morning brew. I steeped a quick one in the pot and poured about a cup of weakened Pu-erh into my soup. Um! Then I sprinkled some very dark black Urfa smoky chili flakes on the soup and the belovely bowl was ready. Yellow and bright green, noodles and speckles of black smoked and sweet chili, an undertone of Pu-erh and coconut curry. Come on over and have a bowl!
First review and a huge thank you to TEAVIVRE and ANGEL for this beautiful sample! (sample is hardly correct…it is generous and wrapped in a way that honors the tea inside)
I made sure that my glass pot, glass mug, infuser…everything was sterile so that no sneeky flavor from past tea tastings would interfer with this one. This tasting is special. I love Pu-erh! The little Toucha is cute (I know cute is tacky) with the little rosebud on top of the small dome of aged Pu-erh. I poured the water over the tea and waited….watching the dome disolve…1,2.5 minutes (tasting along the way). Pulled the basket out and smelled the leaves…small and almost black like wet potting soil earthy. The scent is like sweet straw and a bit spicy. The liquid pour looks like light molasses in color. First sip is slightly sweet, not too earthy with a slight caramel cinnamon finish. I’m a sweet lover so I added a tad of sweetening…and it brought up the caramel flavor. Delicious and mello. Now a bit of creme…um…buttery caramel Pu-erh with a bit of earthiness and still good color and body. No fishiness and I did not rinse the Toucha. The rose did not have an effect for me. Maybe it was in the background and gave the spice or sweetness.
*Second steeping 2.5 minutes reveals a less caramel taste but still a beautifully mild earthy flavor and round tone perfect for adding what you want for a latte. I made an iced version just to see how it would taste…thinking of the 72 weather outside. This was wonderful iced! Bravo! No bitterness at all! Ice cubes, sweetening and milk or whatever you use…ice cream…and a Puerh smoothie that you can still taste as what it is! Fantastic! Purely as straight pour…or as you wish..tea is such luxury. I found that my first tasting this morning took my appitite away which was a nice bonus since I could lose a few.
This was for a tea review of a sample of Yin Zhen sent to me by Teavivre.
The leaf was very fluffy and downy. This was very promising as their Bai Mu Dan was similarly fluffy and produced an absolutely amazing cup. I was expecting a high sweetness I think of as typical of Silver Needles over the heartier, richer White Peony.
My first hint that this was a different Yin Zhen was the scent of the leaves. It was very woody and a tad musty. Not in a bad way, just more potent than I expected.
I watched the color closely as I brewed it (in a gaiwan) since I figured it would be wise not to trust my “normal” Yin Zhen technique. The first infusion (80C for 2 min) was sweeter than a Bai Mu Dan, but not overly so. There was a noticeable and pleasant lingering effect of that sweetness on the front of my tongue. It was faintly reminiscent of thyme and rosemary, maybe even with a mintiness. The liquor was a pleasant blond-gold color.
The second infusion (at the same time and temperature) had an aroma of straw and that woodiness that I sensed in the dry leaf. There was less sweetness.
The third and fourth infusion continued to be more woody and less sweet leaving me with the distinct impression of a really good Bai Mu Dan. It’s interesting and not bad, just not what I was expecting.
Pi day. A complex day deserves a complex sort of tea. Keemun it is! I brew up some of Teavivre’s Premium Hao Ya and see if the math checks.
The dry leaf is woodsy and earthy with a slight cocoa note, typical of many keemuns. The scent of the wet leaf is not all that much different than the dry, but slightly more gentle. The liquor smell loses some of that nice earthiness and is of a far more smoky quality.
As I sip, I’m not intrigued. I’m not mystified. I’m not overly interested. This keemun would best be described as mild-flavored, with smoke. On the initial swallow, this tea is not particularly strong. There is a somewhat malty taste on the onset with a hint of sweetness. But, the aftertaste brings a stronger wave of smokiness that makes you forget the opening. The cocoa notes are relatively weak in this one, which is a disappointment. You can faintly taste the cocoa lingering, but it never dazzles and pops. Failure to reach potential. The depth in this tea is lacking.
Overall, the math is a little off. This keemun is an average offering: neither fascinating, nor drab. Intricately deep and complex like pi, this tea is not.
You may consider this a continuation of the post I wrote a couple of days ago, and which you can find here http://steepster.com/Angrboda/posts/106070
If you can’t be bothered to go link hopping, I wrote about this tea in multiple (4) short steeps but didn’t come to a rating conclusion because I found the four infusions so vastly different from one another. Some had elements that I really like and some had elements that I dislike, so it was all rather confusing. Over all though, I found it a bit wan and as though there was something missing.
This time I’m having it steeped western style. This is what I mostly do, so I have more of an idea of what to expect here. In my experience western style usually yilds a darker and deeper sort of infusion, where gong fu is more about picking up on smaller nuances. Compare it to impressionist paintings. Western style gives you the big picture and only that, where gong fu allows you to step closer, inspect the technique used in painting and the combination of colours and then piece it all together into a whole yourself. I suppose that makes gong fu an exersize in tea tasting, where western style becomes more like having the answer sheet handed to you.
This in turn leads me to wonder if the reason I tend to prefer western style may in fact be due to being lazy.
Anyway, I have made it western style today, and I do indeed now sit here with a considerably darker and deeper sort of brew.
This time I’m getting none of the floralness that I had objections about in the earlier attempt. The aroma is all bready and toasty, and with a certain amount of autumnal notes to it. Like the smell of leaves on the ground in the forest in mid-autumn. A bit earthy and a bit wooden as well. Mostly though, it’s toast and freshly baked goods I’m getting. If I really really concentrate, there is a mild chocolate note in it as well, but I can only find it if I’m searching for it and then only if I hold my nose in a very specific distance to the cup. I suspect it’s some of the toastiness that gets transformed under these circumstances.
The flavour is all dark and earthy now, and there’s a nutty top note on it. It’s like I first get the basic earthiness and then the nutty note pops up at the top of the mouth and works its way downwards to the tongue. A bit wooden, but mostly nutty. And lets face it, most nuts are kind of woody in flavour anyway.
As with the aroma, I’m getting a lot of toasty notes in along with the nuts, but it no longer gives me any baked goods associations. Toasted nuts, perhaps? That makes sense, actually.
There’s an intersting difference between my gong fu results and my western style results. Gong fu gave me the barest hints of caramel, but in this round the barest hints of caramel has turned into strong hints of chocolate. Apart from both of those being sweet flavoured, they’re not really related flavours at all. I think it’s the deeper feeling to the western style flavour that does it.
As it cools a little, the nutty notes take over and it’s a very toasty and nutty sort of profile. It tastes a bit like it should be a little astringent, like many nuts are, but when you pay attention to that, you find to your surprise that it’s not astringent at all.
The aftertaste is woody and nutty as well, and unlike the gong fu session, here it’s very long, prickling on my tongue and palate long after I’ve swallowed. I always appreciate a good long aftertaste IF it’s a pleasant one (green and white teas for me often aren’t). It’s like it makes the cup last longer.
Maybe it makes me rather a philistine or perhaps I’m just too bone idle to really appreciate gong fu, but I do prefer western style brewings most of the time. Gong fu is fun to experiment with, but for me that’s all it is. I like the depth that western style provides.
Gosh, that took its sweet time to pop up! I think over an hour is a new record for me. Easily a new record actually. Then I didn’t dare close it for fear that it would take another eternity to get the posting box open, so this is actually being posted many hours later. I wrote on it every time I had an infusion, so you will see a noticable change of mood further down.
I am so in the mood for Steepstering! So I went and looked for one I had not tried yet and one I expected I could probably write a small novel about. Oh yes. Made the boyfriend a pot of blackberry flavoured black and dove into the small, short steepings of this one myself.
I have to admit I didn’t get anything noticable out of the dry leaf aroma at all. It was just sort of… there. I’ll have to go back and have a second sniff and see if I can’t coax something out of it.
For the first steep, the aroma is quite strong. It’s toasty and ever so floral! Very very floral. Like a flower shop floral.
So floral that I’m surprised it doesn’t overwhelm the flavour of it completely. There is a strong floral note at the forefront there, but it’s at a tolerable level. At the back end of the sip we have the toasty note, creating a fair bit of aftertaste. It’s not a very long one, though.
In the middle, however, there is just… hot water. It’s like there is a hole in the flavour, like something has been removed. My brain wants to fill in with something a bit woody and slightly caramel-esque, but it isn’t actually there.
For the second steep, the aroma is noticable weaker, but it has a more uniform sort of appearance. It’s sweet and kind of borderline caramel-y. Very soft, with only slight floral aspects.
The flavour has evened out a bit too. The floral beginnings have receeded and the toasty note is bigger and starts earlier. While it is longer, though, it’s no longer long enough to actually make it all the way to the end of the flavour. Odd that. It has moved.
There is still however a bit of a gap between the two and also at the very end, the toasty end-note having moved closer to the middle.
For the third steep, I lengthened the steeping time a bit this time, and the aroma has increased in strength accordingly. It’s toasty and sweet, smelling rather like caramel, and the floral note which was prevalent on the first go is all but gone. I can’t say I miss it either.
The flavour has become fuller as well. The toasty note has once again moved forwards and is now the first thing I notice on the sip. A burst of toasty, but unfortunately a rather short burst. Then it peters out at the end of the sip and leaves little to no aftertaste. Like the aroma, there is a thick, caramel-y aspect to it, reminding me a bit of brown sugar.
So far, I like this one best. I could even imagine myself making and discarding the two first steeps so I could get a mugful of this, without having to drink a total of 1½ liters of tea.
For the fourth steep, my mood has taken a nose-dive. I’m doing something which must be done, but I hate it. It’s difficult and frustrating and even if I had limitless funds, I would still hate it. So give me some therapy tea, please. At this point and under these circumstances I actually considered dropping this and making something fruity and/or dessert-y instead, but I can’t be arsed to clean out the pot, so I suppose we’ll just continue what we started.
Note, it is now 20 minutes to 7pm. I started this at around noon, I think. It has been an ongoing project.
Now, I rather enjoyed the third go on these leaves and so I’ve been equipped with Expectations. I want something like the third. The aroma, however, have weakened a bit again, in spite of the fact that the steeping time go another notch upwards. Not much, I don’t think, but there is definitely a difference. The profile of it is still the same same as the third.
The flavour has weakened as well. Again it’s the same as the third, only paler. The toasty is a bit less toasty, the sweetness is proportionally represented. And there is still no aftertaste to speak of.
Given how this has taken me all day and how I don’t really think the fourth delivered, not to mention aforementioned frustration, I’m going to stop here, I think. I defintiely want something with more comfort in it at this point.
I’m not sure how to rate this. None of the infusions really gave me anything which made think ‘yes, that’s this tea’, possibly because they were so different and sometimes very very far apart on my likes-dislikes scale. I don’t think I’ll give it any rating at this point. I’ll wait until I’ve had it brewed western style like I do almost all the time anyway.
Thank you ME for buying this tea!
I broke down and paid for Teavivre tea! Hee Hee!
So I have to thank myself for doing the right thing and buying one of my top 5 Black tea’s of all time (Truely this and Verdant’s Laoshan Black are #1 and #2 but I’m not telling in which order)!
My tea cupboard is awesome! Filled with bins of tea from the great to the wanna be great’s. I’ve become emotionally attached to some tea (hate to say this, but I’m a tea hoarder when it comes to some tea..you’d better not touch some of them…I’ll jump all over your…)
to the point that letting them go is almost out of the question. Sinful!
Writing reviews about some of the lesser quality tea’s can get to drag me down. UH! Burn out!
After awhile…I run..to my jewels, those beautiful special tea’s I can always count on for relief. Oh yes! Great tasting tea again! My precious! (I couldn’t resist!)
I am saved!
Today, I needed saving from the bad tea blues. My Bailin Gongfu Black could save anyone from the blues. It’s the best of Black Malty, Cocoa, Rich and Smooth, Bready, Golden Goodness!!!!!
Slurp, Gulp, Sweet or with Cream! Exceptional!
I Love, Love, LOVE THIS TEA
Tasting note from my 7 year old grandson Micah. The tea leaves smell like chicken and smoke. The tea tastes good and not like the wet tea leaves. It tastes like a cookie…like the caramel candy you gave me today grandma.
Note from Grandma: I think this is pretty spot on! Micah knows how to clean and devein shrimp, prep veggies and likes my butter garlic with breadcrumbs brussel sprouts! We went to a Greek Taverna last night and he got to break a plate “OPA”!
First Review and thank you to Teavivre and Angel for this fine sample (ample sample)!
What a spectacularly beautiful tea! I used a double glass cup so that I could see the color of this tea and WOW! The tone is golden amber lit by firelight. I didn’t read the reviews on this tea so that I could form my own thoughts on it. Caramel was my first opinion..very light..with a little buttery pie crust taste(I used to bake pie for contests so I know crust!). There is a smidge of vegital but not a green note…more like a yellow wax bean or raw sweet potato when you cut it (not a yam). I never would have sipped this even a year ago and snapped my fingers and announced…“Ah now this is a good Chinese black tea!” For all I knew black tea would be …eh…dark…and bitter…and in a bag! ergh! This is fit for a Queen…and I suppose that sans an abusive ex-husband…I’ve become a Queen! I quite like my new TEA life and I quite like this tea for sure! 3min steep did it for me!
Thanks to Angel from TeaVivre for the great samples!
This was a very nice tea, similar in style to some silk oolongs I’ve tried in the past. There is a nice green tea-style “vegetal” flavour – it’s got that fresh grassy oolong taste which is very smooth and enjoyable. There is some light sweetness as well that blends nicely together for a very rounded taste – very straightforwardly good. This is a light tea which you could sip very casually and have a nice calm day. Very tasty and a great addition to the tea collection!
First review. Thank you again Teavivre for the beautifully packaged sample. This was the second tea that I shared with my granddaughter Megan today after watching Amadeus. I didn’t let her have a smell of the wet tea leaves…just the pour which was a steep of 3 minutes. She could not believe the flavor! “This is incredible…what is this”! I laughed and explained and asked what she tasted. It’s floral, buttery, popcorn. Then I had her smell the beautiful green wet tea leaves. “Spinach grandma! How could that smell make such a different tasting tea”? And that’s part of the magic isn’t it. The chameleon character of some tea…smells like one thing tastes like something else…huh we all know what that’s like don’t we. And we love that surprise too. This gem of a high quality A+ tea is so smooth a luscous. The flavor so well balanced that no one nuance outshines another. I found myself looking at the bottom of my cup like an addict ready to dip my finger in to grab for the last drop. Fortunately I can resteep many times without denigration. This is a keeper tea!
Mmmmm… this is delicious. I think this might be my favorite of the samples Teavivre has sent me. And of course it serves me right that this is currently out of stock since I took so long to get to reviewing this one. This will come back on stock soon, right? right??? Puppy dog eyes
I’m always surprised how flavorful the teas from Teavivre can be even when the liquid is so lightly colored. It’s a lovely light color though. Pale yellow-y green. Like new spring. :) The smell and flavor is like a cross between gyokuro and chun mei green. This brew is sweet and green and nutty with a overall sense of savory goodness. It’s completely smooth with no drying sensation whatsoever. It also complements my homemade spicy shrimp fried rice amazingly well.
Yum. So smooth and sweet and savory… Time for steep 2!
Uh oh…I think I already messed up the preparation of this tea. I’m not sure I used enough leaf. The liquor is almost clear! Clear!!
The aroma of the dry leaves was great: soft, clean, not overly grassy. The dry leaves themselves were a long, thin, crispy, mixture of green and yellow leaves and stems. The brewed tea aroma is very very soft, a little too soft. Again, probably because I didn’t measure the leaf correctly. I hate when I mess up brewing a new tea. It makes me not even want to write a note about it.
But here we go anyway. I apologize for my incompetence in advance. I’ll add a little more leaf to the second steeping and let you know how that turns out. This first cup is surprisingly good, even though it’s a little watery. I can tell that this is fantastic tea if brewed correctly.
Okay, second cup! I steeped this one for 2 minutes 45 seconds at 176 degrees. The liquor is still basically clear, but the flavor is stronger now. For some reason, this tea reminds me of the way cotton candy melts in your mouth. It’s sweet, but not too much so. This must be what people call umami. I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced a texture like this in a drink. Simply exquisite.
This is my favorite green tea from Teavivre so far, although the Silver Jasmine Green Tea (Mo Li Yin Hao) is a pretty close second.
Once I go through the rest of these green teas Teavivre sent me, I’m gonna have to have them all again together and really decide which one is my favorite.
The characteristics of this tea pretty much define everything I love about a lot of the greens I’ve tried so far. I love the sweet, vegetal taste with a hint of nuttiness of this one. The dry leaf smelled to me a lot like hazelnuts for some reason…but then again I don’t think I have a clear idea of what a chestnut smells like so that could be it.
Also I always have enjoyed wondering about brewing instructions only to be pleased with the results. I wasn’t expecting a green tea that brews just fine at a high temperature! But it works out just fine.
What a great sample! I have to thanks Teavivre for this.
The leaves are simply beautiful. There are snowy buds, deep vegetal leaves, and smells just like light hay and sweetness. I love just inspecting this tea.
I can’t comment about the color of the liquor because I’m drinking from a green, opaque cup.
This is very light and surprisingly sweet for a white tea. I really like this one! I think I have become more fond of white teas. This one has a very nice mouth feel as well. I would recommend this for white tea lovers!
What’s a girl to do when she wakes up at 5am and can’t get back to sleep without ruining her entire sleep schedule? Why make a good solid black tea of course! This was the one I chose and those first sips were exactly what I needed to get through those first moments of “what the hell am I doing up at this hour”. I settled in to read my RSS feeds and . . . forgot about the tea because of a few wtf things going on. This one tepid is . . . not so great. Luckily I’d kept the leaves for a second steep so I’m enjoying that now, sweetened this time with just a drop or two of Irish Cream Agave. Definitely a great way to start a day that started way too early.
Since today I had the time and patience, I finally decided to play with the gaiwan I got a few weeks ago. I’ve never tried one before so rather than attempt with a green or oolong I went with a black, knowing it’d be harder to mess it up.
This tea was a great way to introduce myself into using the gaiwan. I used one of the sealed packages that Teavivre so generously sent me many of, and then added my boiling spring water and let it steep!
First steep was 2.5 minutes. The tea was very strong and dark, and as it cooled changed between multiple flavours. First sips were definitely almost too strong for me and I barely resisted adding sugar. I’m glad I did though because soon a really nice malt flavour came in, one that I really enjoyed. The last few sips were almost sweet, which really made me curious what my second steeps would bring me.
Second steep was again boiling, this time for 3 minutes. The tea was much lighter this time, and I really really enjoyed this steep. The malt and sweet blended for me to be delightful and I can see why so many of you love this tea!
Third steep was again boiling for another 3 minutes. This was like a slightly lighter version of steep two. I again loved it. I didn’t try a fourth steep though because I was pretty sure the leaves weren’t going to love me through another shot.
Overall a lovely strong sweet tea that I look forward to trying again, next time in western style!