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Recent Tasting Notes
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.
After my experience with Teavivre’s Yun Nan Dian Hong golden tips, I couldn’t wait to give this a try. The leaves were longer and darker than their other yunnan, and the tea brewed to a darker amber/brown. The scent is all around stronger, still fruity, but more robust and sweet.
I think this is what I’ll be ordering next time. While I love how smooth and pure the golden tips are, this stronger, heartier tea is what I was looking for. It’s dark and gorgeous and complex without being bitter or smoky. Something I could wake up to on a daily basis. Hello, new favorite black tea.
Tea sample provided by Teavivre for review
Tried this again tonight in my teapot. It’s pretty nice but I still prefer it prepared with short steeps. With the teapot one steep method I’m getting very powerful sweet notes. While I do like a touch of something sweet in my oolong, this longer steeping method doesn’t please me as much. And with multiple quick steeps I get a nice spectrum of flavour.
So for my remaining two samples, I will enjoy this prepared in my small yixing teapot. But I can see this as a nice flowery, sweet tea prepared “western style” for those that enjoy something bold that also satisfies their sweet tooth.
500ml water in teapot, 1 packet (5g), 1 steep
Tea sample provided by Teavivre for review
This is from my newest batch of samples from Teavivire. I always love getting packages in the mail, except when it’s at 7am. ;) Anyway, I have a yixing pot for oolong, so that’s what I’ll use for this first tasting session.
The shrink wrapped foil package has a picture of a cute bird on a flower. It’s about 5g, so I can see this as being a nice gift by itself. When I cut open the pack, the aroma of flowers hit my nose right away. It wasn’t too much, just enough to captivate me.
Onto brewing and drinking the tea, the floral notes hit my tongue first, followed by notes of mint/menthol, fresh greens (like asparagus?), and pepper. After the last sip, I noticed how refreshing this tea was. Not heavy or too sweet at all.
The second to fourth steeps had the same flavour, with each steep becoming more intense but consistent.
Fifth through eighth steeps started to lose flavour, but retained enough of it to stay interesting.
Overall, an enjoyable oolong with good consistent flavour. I don’t have much experience with Tie Guan Yin to say if it is a very good one or not. On the package, it says to brew this at boiling which didn’t seem right, but the end result was delicious and not bitter at all. (However I used a yixing pot so that may have negated the bitterness). My husband only has access to boiling water at work, so he may like to buy this and brew it there. It has a very economical price, so we may use this as our “everyday” oolong that I can brew in the yixing and hubby can take to work.
Next time I’ll try this the western way in a teapot and steep it for much longer.
125ml yixing teapot, 1 tea pouch (5g? 2tsp?), 8 steeps (rinse, 30s, +15s resteeps)
Definitely tasted sweet potatoes, and more-so like sweet potato pie because I added a bit of agave. Just a teensy bit. But it was so delicious that way. A short steep time was a good idea, since this brewed up dark quickly. I can appreciate this black tea due to it’s smoothness. I should try it at 85 C next time instead of trying to be a rebel.
I definitely love how this tea looks in the packaging. It’s so soft and beautifully rolled, and gold! You can’t go wrong with gold coloured tea. A+, from a straight black tea avoider.
Since I just had Teavivre’s other jasmine tea yesterday, I’m going to compare the two.
First impression, yum! These are quite similar teas, but I’m detecting a heavier sweetness to these pearls. The jasmine is again very nice and very well executed, but the pearls seem a little less floral than the Mo Li Yin Hao. The green tea is also more absent.
With both teas, I started out with a 1.5 minute steep and increased subsequent steeps by 30 seconds. They both held up to multiple infusions equally well. However, I am detecting a tad more astringency. I remember the Mo Li Yin Hao getting astringent at the end of the third cup. But the astringency appeared in the pearls halfway through the first cup.
I don’t want to be too critical. It’s still a delicious cup of tea. I think I just prefer the other one. The Mo Li Yin Hao was just so perfectly balanced. Still, this tea wins out on cuteness.
How adorable are these little tiny pearls??! I’ve never had jasmine pearls before, so I’m glad I finally got to see what all the hype is about. They’re much smaller than I expected, but they unfurl really beautifully. I’m not sure what pearls have to do with dragons though…Perhaps they hoard them?
Overall, a very nice tea experience tonight. Very relaxing after an incredibly stressful couple of days.
This sample very generously provided to me by Teavivre.
This tea smells and tastes like a weak black tea (I’m not familiar with white teas so I’m using the knowledge base I have). There is a roasted, vaguely honeyed undertone that I’m picking up on (the black tea part) but there is also a grassy note that exists alongside it. Together I guess that does equal the hay-ish taste others were getting.
This tea is very smooth and light, with no astringency. The brew does seem a little thin, but I may have been too stingy on the leaf used because I’ve never measured out leaves that fluffy before and likely miscalculated as a result of it. I will change that for next time and see if that improves the mouthfeel any.
This tea is quiet and understated; the kind of tea you’d want to be able to focus on while you’re drinking so you don’t miss any of the flavors.
I’ve tried a few blends that called themselves white peony, but this has to honestly be the first real Bai Mu Dan I’ve encountered, and I like it. I’m truly not a fan of white tea simply because the ones I’ve tried in past were too delicate to be noticed or would otherwise have to be oversteeped to the point of being bitter to get any flavor to suit me.
Teavivre’s version is truly just a blend of different leaves and buds, the number of white downy leaves had me impressed. It came in a single-serve pack, one pack made a nice aromatic 2-cup pot that was smooth, delicate, but it also had flavor. A bit floral, and a bit of hay.
I enjoyed two pots of it on Thanksgiving day and am reserving the other two packs to sip closer to the other holidays. I now “get” what people who like Bai Mu Dan are talking about.
Eventually it had to happen. I just poured the last of this wonderfully sweet hay scented leaf into my press. Verily, verily, I say unto you; my heart is heavy with sadness. Yet, will I rejoice in the goodness of the cup that awaits. I shall lift up my cup in song and celebration. Yes, in remembrance of the time we have shared old friend, will I sip. Forgetting now the sorrow of our parting I shall carry the joy of our time together in my heart until the day we once again are united.