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Recent Tasting Notes
Tea of the morning…..
I am down to the dregs of my first 50 grams of this tea. (Luckily, my pack rat tendencies had me purchase 100 grams from the outset!) It is wonderfully caramelly, sweet potatoey, with a bit of maltiness. I love this one. And I am enjoying my crisp, nearly-summer morning before the wheels get rolling.
Usual teapot method.
Tea of the afternoon……
And I brewed a whole pot. Yes, I am feeling like I want to hoover any chocolate in the house, so I was trying to think of what would be decadent enough to distract me. A whole pot of this won.
There are notes of caramel, malt, chocolate, and caramelized sweet potatoes. Very complex and very good!
Usual teapot method.
Second cuppa the morning…..
I am so glad this one has come to live in my tea cupboard! Roasty and perfect. A little more malty and less cocoa-ey than the Keemun. It is a beautiful tea. And I do agree with JacquelineM. It does taste of sweet potatoes. Really good, freshly baked ones that are slightly browned on the edges for a bit of a caramelized flavor. Yum. It is probably the coldest it has been all winter today (it shows up as 1 degree without windchill), and I am inside, all warm and drinking this perfect tea. Now where is my book?
Usual mug method.
Tea of the morning…….
This is the last black in the teas sent for review by TeaVivre. Thank you so much for the opportunity to try your teas. (A green and an oolong to go!)
This is a beautiful tea. It has long golden fingers with a bit of a sheen and downy fuzz. It appears to be the very tenderest part of the plant. The smell is rich and slightly earthy. I do think Yunnans are a coffee drinker’s tea in that the flavor is full, slightly malty, and roasty. This one is a very smooth example. I did initially think I might have gone a little light on the leaf in my teapot, but the richness of this tea easily overcame that. This is definitely going on my shopping list. It is probably the best Yunnan I have had to date.
I did follow the steeping recommendations on the package.
I was contacted by the company to offer free samples and since others had been reviewing free samples from them, I decided it would be a good way to see what the company was about. Part of what made me pause in thinking of placing an order is that there really is no option on their website to purchase samples, so you really cannot know what you are getting, and then there is the meeting of the free shipping…(which I now know they ship to the US for around $6 for orders below$30). I have to be quite frank in that I do prefer to purchase my samples rather than getting them free as I think it lends more credibility to my review. I do think samples along with an order is another great inroad for reviews, but I know it is hard to break through for that first sale. I have tried to be as unbaised as possible in my reviews of the teas sent, but it is really hard to know for sure. I do feel a need to make sure I try all of them sent in a timely manner, which is not how I usually approach tea. I usually let my mood guide me rather than I ‘have to try these first’ as a courtesy for TeaVivre’s sending them to me. All I can say is that I will defintely be ordering in the near future if that is any indication. The sample offering worked to make me want to be a customer, because the tea does speak for itself.
Another generous sample provided, another good quality green tea. It calmed me down from my “back-to-work-after-vacation” mood. Crisp finish, a buttery start, but not vegetal or hay-like in the cup (just faintly in the dry-leaf aroma). I steeped it the usual way and it met expectations, though on my list of personal preferences, it’s third on the list behind different Japanese greens, and Silver Needle. It has a relative sweetness to it, but it didn’t seem to fully commit to a particular profile. Very smooth, drinkable, go-to green tea, and I would have no problem recommending it to those who are looking for a smoother, less-grassy green tea experience. I just happen to be one of those mavericks who likes stronger flavors when I’m craving a green.
This was my first attempt at a Pu-Erh, to start I love black tea’s and the idea of a fermented aged black tea more then appealed to me, I went into this thinking it was just an…extra-black black tea, and while it is by far the darkest tea I have ever seen, extra-black certainly dose it no justice.
The little brick itself is certainly a bit intimidating even if its only the size of a nickel, the leaves a very compressed of course and pitch black, it has a very earthy smell, like old hay, I dropped it into a flush in-mug infuser with boiling water over the top and it quickly started to break apart.
The tea seems to steep very quickly, you can actually watch it bleed into the water as if you dropped in a slow dye (If you have a glass pot or mug to steep in do it), boiling water for three minutes seemed to be more then adequate, I’d say it actually might have been a bit too much but there was not bitterness at all, I’ve read the fermentation process makes pu-erh very resistant to oversteeping, which is good because I’m pretty negligent about my timing in the morning. The little brick seems to contain an extraordinary amount of leaves, easily five or six times its volume in heavy wet earthy smelling happiness comes out.
The flavor itself is distinct, no pu-erh fishiness at all, the taste is far smoother, far more distinct and delicate then the very dark color would suggest, most of the reviews say that there is a leather taste, and I agree although I think I lack the words to describe it properly it’s a very earthy taste.
Tl;dr: The Pu-erh Mini Toucha from Teavivre is a distinctly delicious, easy to make Pu-erh tea, that from my first experience doing a Pu-Erh is as amusing to steep as it is to taste.
Wonderful in every way! This might sound strange but of course this takes like silver needle and of course it tastes like white tea…but…I also find a hint of something like mashed potatoes or Potato Soup…I know…it’s a stretch but it’s super yummy regardless! LOL It’s quite malty for a white and I really like that!
Ooh, here we go. This is what I like in a green tea. I know it seems weird, but I didn’t know what I was “tasting for” in them before. I had experienced so few that I didn’t know what characteristics I liked and wanted to pursue.
The smokiness pleases the black tea lover in me. It’s more in the scent than the taste; subtle. I don’t exactly taste the plum that Teavivre describes, but I sense some sort of creaminess that I’m also liking. There are no strong vegetable or seaweed tastes to it, which I’m still adjusting to. Maybe a little nuttiness. Anyway, this is really good. I’m going to have to explore Chun Mei, I think.
Free sample generously provided to me by Teavivre. Thanks so much!
Preparation notes: 2 of the 4 enclosed tuo cha in 500 ml. water in my Breville at the below parameters.
Dry leaf: My only other run in with pu erh tea was with a Teavana blend roughly a year ago. It was a fruit blend, and in loose leaf form, not a cake, so I guess you could say this is my first authentic pu erh experience.
The tuo cha are small – maybe the size of a quarter, or slightly larger. The immediate scent that came to mind was fishy, which my boyfriend interpreted as food pellets. There were also notes of dirt. Very organic smelling.
Steeped tea: I opted toward the later steeping time with this one, and though it isn’t bitter, I’m thinking I might have gone a little strong and would probably dial it back next time. This brewed up a dark brown to black color which totally shocked me, even though it had been noted by others. I guess I just didn’t think it would be possible to get so dark despite the short steep time.
The predominant smell from the steeped tea is that of the hamster food pellets my boyfriend smelled initially. The fishy smell is displaced more toward the background, with hay and dirt taking the center stage. It smells a touch sour, too.
Surprisingly, given how dark it is, it doesn’t taste astringent or bitter. Just…strong, with a full mouthfeel. It seems like a midway point between black tea and coffee. The taste itself does have some earth on the swallow, otherwise, think a very strong black tea, with the accompanying maltiness and smoothness that it has when steeped properly, and you will have an accurate picture of what this tastes like as well.
I understand why people say that pu erh is an acquired taste. In my case the taste wasn’t the issue – it was the smell I’ll have to get used to. After my experience with Teavana I had written this type of tea off completely, but it turns that I may actually like them after all. I think further exploration is in order!
Second tea of the morning……
And this is the end of my sample! I do think this is the first sample sent from Teavivre that I have finished if that is any indication how good it is for a drinker of black teas. (My samples of the Balin Gongfu and the Yunnan Dian Hong Golden Tip are close behind, though…) While I am sad to see this go, I know their Keemun Grade 1 and Keemun Grade 2 teas are also very good. I do think I might spring for this one once I get through my sample of the Grade 1 and purchase of the Grade 2. It really is just a little extra special when compared to the other two.
Usual teapot method, light on the leaf and 3 minute steep.
Tea of the morning…..
I am trying to get an idea of where this one sits in the line up of Keemun. It does have fewer yellowy tips than the Hao Ya A I have on hand, but it is very similar to my Hao Ya B in appearance. The golden tips are there, just not as prevalent in comparison to the Hao Ya A, and definitely more prevalent than the lower grades. I know that there is a specific grading system for Keemun tea, and in my short online research for a listing of the levels, I can’t really find a good guide in English. I might have to dig further. In comparison to my lower grades of Keemun, the leaves on this are narrower, but about the same length. I am throwing out a guess here, but the fineness might have to do with the part of the plant it comes from. Tips and first leaves are often smaller than leaves further down the stem in my limited gardening/botany experiences. So perhaps the higher grade Keemuns come from leaves closer to the apex of the branch? I did do a bit of reading on Teavivre’s website, and it also has to do with the part of the season they are harvested. My extrapolation of that….the earlier harvest would be the bud and first leaves of the season, the later harvest would still be the buds and first leaves, but produced a little further down on the plant? (I am going based upon my experience with roses and dahlias here…..the apex flower is always the best. Once it is picked, it will produce more flowers, but they are not as big or vibrant as that apex flower of the season.) One of these days, I am going to find that information!
As far as taste….I was thinking it would be easier to detect a difference in taste between this one and the Grade 2, since I am not a tea master. I do think this one is smoother and less earthy (although the Grade 2 is only lightly earthy in taste). Definitely a little less astringent at the end, even though neither is really all that astringent at the end when I brew them properly. The chocolate note in this is more of a darker chocolate.
A very good cuppa the morning!
Usual mug method, a little light on the tea, and a 3 minute steep.
Tea of the afternoon……
This was a sample sent courtesy of TeaVivre. Thank you! This is a really good one! I am pretty much in love with Keemun tea of all varieties, and this one is very satisfying. There is a little bit of smoke, a little bit of maltiness, a little bit of a cocoa note, and lots of satisfying flavor. It is probably the quickest I have sipped down a pot of tea in some time. I find it similar to the Hao Ya A from Harney, although the leaves on that one are a little finer. I also find it similar to Keemun Heng Ru from Upton, but this one is a little more complex. This is definitely something I would consider purchasing in the future and am grateful to TeaVivre for the chance to sample it.
Usual teapot method.
While I’m intrigued by puerh and the fact that the tea has aged, I’m always a little apprehensive when trying one. I tend to shy away from teas with even a hint of fishiness, and puerh is notorious for it.
The cute little cake itself smells great, though it definitely smells different from fresh black tea. It smells like dried grass and promising maltiness, but with a hint of that aged flavor. Before I made this tea, I read that it only needs about a minute to two minutes to steep. I didn’t believe it, but I went with what the professionals said. By the end of the first minute, the tea was darker than a seven-minute-chai. I panicked and decided to stop it at 1:30.
It smells like sour honey and wood. But the taste is like something I’ve never had before with a puerh. I definitely taste leather, like others have said, but it’s a good thing. It’s incredibly smooth and flavorful, and like many Teavivre teas I’ve had, it’s naturally a little sweet. I can taste the same sort of flavor that I associated with fish, but it’s different in this blend. I’m glad I still have one cake left.
Continuing in my theme of drinking teas I’ve had for an embarrassingly long time…
At least this is a sipdown. Seriously, though it was so old I pretty much had to do a process of elimination via my Steepster cupboard just to see what it was (it was in a small vaccuum sealed red package with not a word of English on it) – so, way to go self.
I know I’ve had this once before but it’s been about 2 years so I am can’t speak to whether its aged or not since I don’t really remember the original tasting. But I do know that today’s steeping, done in my DAVIDs tumbler, turned a pretty light green and was not even remotely bitter despite being brewed at the recommended BOILING water parameter for 3 minutes.
There was not much in the way of actual milky notes – maybe more of a floral buttery flavor akin to a Tie guan yin. This was a very lightly oxidized oolong – and perhaps it is due to age that I missed out on some of the milky creaminess I have gotten out of milk oolongs before.
I still much prefer darker oolong varietals, which is why I will likely not be having more of this any time soon. But I’m glad I didn’t let it go to waste at least!
Free sample generously provided to me by Teavivre. Thanks so much! From what I’ve tried of oolongs so far, my favorites are the milk oolong and dan cong varietals – so I was really excited to give this tea a try!
Preparation notes: 2 of the 4 enclosed red packets in 500 ml. water in my Breville at the below parameters.
Dry leaf: The dry leaf is typical of milk oolongs I’ve seen – small, tightly rolled dark green leaves that give off a grassy smell with a slight creamy hint.
Steeped tea: The steeped liquor is a greenish yellow with a predominantly creamy scent and underlying grass notes. A slight floral aroma seems to become more evident as it cools.
The tea itself is quite smooth – I don’t pick up on any bitterness. I feel like I’m getting hints of milk or caramel towards the beginning of the sip before it fades into more of a green, buttery taste (with some floral accents) typical of a ti kwan yin. Towards the end of the cup I did notice that it seemed to be drying out my mouth, but this wasn’t unpleasant, just something I picked up on.
This is yet another solid offering from Teavivre – while it’s not my favorite milk oolong, it is still very good and an affordable option for what can be a pricey tea.
This is a sample from teavivre and I thought I’d give this one a go today. Feeling like a straight, or mostly straight tea right now. Pu-erh sounds good to start the new year in. On;y I did have some Harney and Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice earlier since I was cold.
Anyhow, dry observations…
It smelled very earthy, and the cake was pretty firm…only a little crumbling at the top. I do have to mention I had no rose bud whatsoever with this particular tuocha cake. Now, I don’t know about the others, though there was some confusion initially about which pu-erh tuocha I was getting from Angel. So take this last fact with a grain of salt when it comes to tasting notes. I can’t be 100% sure that I got the ripened rose instead of the plain.
Brewing and tasting…
The liquor turned dark dark dark! It looks very much like coffee or wine, or a mix of the two. I cannot pick up any rose notes specifically, though there is a floral note at the back of my tongue that is accentuated a bit more with the sugar I added. And I added the same amount of milk, roughly, that I usually do, and it is a dark brew still.
I taste a very full bodied tea here…even with the milk and sugar. It is earthy and warm and balanced. I don’t get any fishy taste, though I did faintly smell it when it was dry. To me, this is equivalent to a dark beer (though I don’t drink beer). It’s not for everybody. I think this is good for those who like coffee but want to transition to tea because it is such a hearty taste.
This all said, it isn’t my favourite, but I do like it as a straight tea. I think I prefer pu-erh blends like DAVIDs Oh Christmas Treat! Orange and chocolate are the perfect match for pu-erh.
I’ll see what my next steep is like on this. Oh, and for the record, I did break up the cake with my fingers into a few smaller chunks into my steeper, no rinsing, and I used boiling water and steeped about two minutes.
Happy New Years Steepsterites!
Thanks to Teavivre for this sample! Another that I stole from my wife. Broke in my new yixing with one of these little packets.
Brewed it gongfu style, starting with a five-second steep and then a few more seconds each steep. I actually lost track of how many steeps I did, but it was in the fifteen to twenty range.
Dry, the leaves are a very bright colour with a strong floral odour. Actually very visually pretty. Very verdant, with the bright greens and then the darker smoky leaves.
First steep: golden liquor, almost clear, but a strong floral flavour. Very crisp and clear.
Successive steeps: gradually a darker, more green colour. The floral taste faded a little with steeps into more of an earthy, vegetal flavour.
Overall, a very tasty ti guan yin. It was a relaxing cup of tea, perfect detox after eating way too much crap.
Finished out the New Year festivities with this one. My fruit tea and tisane consumption tends to be sparse. It’s not that I don’t like the fruit teas. I just prefer straight teas. The problem with teas like this is that I have a hard time not eating the dried fruit :) This one is not bad reminds me of strawberry lemonade or Tazo passion tea. Sorry but when you put hibiscus in a tea it’s going to have the Tazo quality for me. It’s pretty good a little the pineapple is very predominant it this tea. The only qualms I have with this tisane is the 3-4 teaspoons per cup and steeping it for ten minutes to really get the flavor. I guess that’s one of the properties when you are steeping all fruits. I think this would be great iced.
Let the festivities continue. There seems to be a pattern. Teavivre seems to be the tea of choice for the evening. Other flowering teas that I have sampled have been jasmine flavored. So this is a new experience for me. The green tea is not a very strong scent. The liquor is a little darker yellow. Slightly nutty not bitter. However it took a second steep for the flower to really open up. It’s a decent green and a good one to share with friends over for New Years Eve. I kinda like having a flowering tea that’s not all jasmine. However the flower itself blooming is not as dynamic and just seemed to not want to open up.
New Years Eve consisted of tea, friends, and good food. This is where my drinking for the night started. I have not been a huge fan of white tea. It’s been week. Done something to my stomach. Having this with kielbasa with kraut, pigs in a blanket, and homemade mashed potatoes…..with heavy whipping cream. Yum. A light yellow liquor. A little smell and taste of hay. As I’m continuing to enjoy this tea a little more like like almonds. Raw almonds. Un-roasted. I think this is the best white tea that I have tried so far. This one would make me add more white tea to the cupboard.
3 heaping tsp. of tea, 500 ml. water in the Breville at below parameters.
There is more smoke than I remember in both the smell and the taste of the steeped tea this time. The smoke is right at the beginning of the sip, and then the vegetal note takes over toward the end. It’s reminding me of smoked meats. I think that this would have been good with a savory meal.
I have enough tea to have a few more cups, so I’m curious to see whether this steep (with the smoky notes) or the previous one (which was much more green/spinachy), was the odd one out.