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Recent Tasting Notes
I got hooked on the Black Dragon Pearl from Teavana. It is actually one of my top 3 teas. I decided to try it from Teavivre since it is much more cost effective and the description is exactly the same. As soon as I opened it up I noticed the scent was a bit different. Visually the Teavivre and Teavana pearls look exactly the same so I figured it might be still taste the same. But no.
I really didn’t get much of the earthy malty flavor that I loved in the Teavana version. I tried so many different variations but I could not get it to taste anything close. The earthiness in the Teavivre brand tasted slightly pu’erish (very slightly) and I don’t like pu’er teas.
I gave up on comparing it to the Teavana version and just tried to enjoy it for what it was but it didn’t do anything for me. Now I have 3.5 ounces of tea to get rid of.
THANKS TO ANGEL FOR THIS SAMPLE…THEY ARE GREATLY APPRECIATED
These are beautiful leaves and so aromatic. This tea is extremely satisfying even before the first sip. It may sound a bit geeky, but to watch these vibrant green leaves open up and release an undeniably beautiful aroma could be considered a transcendent experience.
The somewhat grassy dry aroma, when awakened, blossoms into a very green, asparagus-like aroma mixed with floral overtones. A very enticing lt. green liquor also emits a slight evergreen scent.
This lightly oxidized oolong possesses a delicate taste that is pleasing and noteworthy enough even to someone (me) who usually demands and enjoys the big, bold tastes of shu puer. The taste has the complexity most will enjoy. Green beany, asparagusy vegetal predominate, but there are a host of others which I am unable to concisely identify. Nonetheless, multiple flavors abound in this cup.
Obviously, this is a high quality tea,possessing attributes typical of many good Taiwan oolongs. This tea has a very clean, pleasant throat. A subtle throat belonging to a subtle tea. One shouldn’t expect more.
My only regret regarding this oolong is that I exhausted the leaves when I could have drunk more.
This is a very nice, complete oolong with no obvious flaws.
It’s a really hot day here in New Zealand (being summer and all), so was in the mood for something refreshing. Upon opening the packet I wondered if this was going to make my mouth pucker when steeped, as it smells quite tart. I was definitely wrong however. When steeping this smells absolutely gorgeous! Very similar scent to when I make berry syrup oddly enough.
8 minutes – Ooh, this is quite nice. Not what I expected, but in a good way. It’s on the far end of light, moving towards medium strength at this stage, so I figured I’d let this one steep longer.
10 minutes – Very good, but now I’m interested in seeing how strong this will go before compromising the flavour – which is SO good! Not the most logical thought process for a tisane, but the man likes his flavor hits and I’ll be making an iced version at the same time.
16 minutes – Better and better. It’s now reminding me of a refreshing juice, but really hot obviously.
23 minutes – This is where I decided to stop, but I reckon that you could easily go for much longer and not have the tartness develop too much. Excellent blending by Teavivre. The flavour overall is an interesting one. It doesn’t scream apple, but there is a strong apple aftertaste. I definately get the lemon and verbena. I’ve never tried roselle before, but assuming that is the bulk of what I’m tasting, it’s lovely. Kind of berry-ish, but not. Hard to explain. The rosehip note has come out more and more the longer it’s steeped.
I tried this cold in three different ways;
Straight – Much more tart when cold (this is probably a “thing”, but I’m new to iced teas). Still refreshing, but I prefer it sweetened when cold.
Sweetened with sugar – Yum. I can tell this will be the man’s favorite.
Sweetened with honey – Yum! The honey I used has a very distinctive flavor (a native called Manuka) but they go together really well.
On the whole, hot or cold, this is an excellent fruit tea! I will definitely be including this in my next Teavivre order, and am curious about their other ones.
This is a very pleasant puer!!! It seems I have been drinking almost exclusively puer lately. This is probably due to the fact that my dear wife’s stomach is acting up and Puer is the only tea she can drink. The Chinese attribute a lot of health benefits to Puer, and in a culture where, “food is medicine”, puer does seem like a very healthy drink. If even half of its attributed benefits are true, I should live be ~178.
Anyway, I’m rambling…onto the tea
Usually one can describe puer specifically, and tea generally in associative terms, i.e. leathery, nutty etc. This puer, however, is a little different. Both the aroma and the taste don’t necessarily have noteworthy associations. Rather, this tea is pure, clean, whole, complete. I’m really enjoying this! It is soooo smooth and crisp, not like tea at all.
I normally steep puer short, from 5-15 sec. After several short steeps (all enjoyable cups), I decided to let it steep for 90 secs to see what would happen. I was yet again rewarded with a smooth, subtle and wholesome cup.
I enthusiastically recommend this tea. Not because of its complex flavors, but because of its complex nature.
I got some awesome lip balms in today from momo! I had the hardest time choosing which ones to keep. I need to give three as gifts but I want them all! aaargh. You can buy some here!
I think they would make great holiday gifts. :)
So this tea! I’ve read nothing but praise for this, and today, I am totally understanding why. The dry leaf smells sweet like cookies. The tea tastes like dark cocoa and rock sugar. mmmm… The color is a bit lighter than expected, but the flavor is full on nonetheless. I can also taste some toasted grains. Maybe like the dark crust of some excellent multigrain bread. I’m adding this to the list of black teas to buy again!
TeaVivre has sent me some samples that have been just delicious and this is no exception. this is a delicious raw Pu-erh with a flavor profile very similar to a 1995 that i am wildly fond of from Portola Coffee Lab here in Orange County CA that costs three times as much. this tea is earthy and woody, slightly smoky, a bit dry and astringent with only the slightest hint of vegetal finish. there are some subtle fruit notes in the middle of the sip, but having just realized my last sip is gone i’ll have to wait till i steep another cup of this golden elixir from the generous sample provided to give you accurate notes :-)
Thank you Angel of Teavivre for this sample.
Such an enjoyable tea. A bit of maltiness, fruit, and smoke. I really liked the smokey flavor and how it lingered after the sip. The tea is smooth, and while it has some strength I would not call it a robust tea. In the future I’ll drink this as an afternoon tea. I like something with more kick to it in the morning.
I’m so happy so far with my finals results! I even got 100% on my presentation last night and I’m not one for public speaking; so that was a miracle!
This tea was another of Teavivre’s generous samples. Unfortunately, my lid fell into my cup when I was poring so some leaves got more steeped than others. This steep reminds me mostly of deep greens like spinach. It is just a bit sweet. There is also a back flavor of a bit of barley like baked-ness that reminds me of Rishi’s Tie Guan Yin. The major difference between the two is that this one exhibits more creamy flavors than the Rishi version.
Well once again the sample wins out over the tea I actually ordered. I was looking forward to the Milk Oolong from Teavivre, which ended up being moderately disappointing, and was delighted to find a selection of sample one of which was their Bailin GongFu black tea. I steeped a pot from the generous sample and it was delicious!! With so many blacks to choose from they really have to stand out to impress me and this tea did. It’s light and fruity right off the bat with cherry apple and and finishes with all nutty hints of almond and walnut. This tea is great served hot how tea is supposed to be, but serves up great iced like my American brethren seem to prefer. It’s good as is as God intended or with the addition of a sugar cube straight from the pits of hades the fruit flavor explodes up to a whole new level. This is a great back tea
Thanks to Angel and Teavivre for this sample!
I’ve been holding off on reviewing this one for a while and give this tea as many tries as I could for the best opinion. It makes a nice cup, but it isn’t really anything I would show off to friends. I fear too much roasting is what did this one in. Charcoal and woody flavors overpower many of the subtler tastes the leaves offer, and tend to cause a fuzzy and drying mouthfeel and a somewhat bitter aftertaste. Thankfully, the leaves have an inherent sweetness to them, and counterbalance this enough to make the overall flavor enjoyable. I have difficulty finding any floral tones throughout steeps, but if I try hard enough I can just pick them out. I find the flavor profile to lean more towards tart fruits than florals, and this is mirrored in both the wet leaf’s aroma and the aftertaste. The first few steeps gong fu style tend to be the most interesting for me. I receive notes of apple, cocoa, and malt in addition to the aforementioned charcoal and wood tastes. Honey flavors creep in into the third or fourth steep, but besides this addition, the complexity goes a bit flat and the flavors fade out quickly for this tea type.
The dry leaves have a nice deep brown appearance and smell of hay, dried fruits, and somewhat biscuity. The wet leaves expand to reveal a very green coloration. They release dark aromas of earth, pure tea, cocoa, and tart berries. They appear in decent shape, although there are a few quite large empty stems. The leaves are, however, very dusty and leave a layer of silt at the bottom of my cup after every steep. Untwisting the the wet leaves, I dragged my thumb across the surface of a leaf and received a fair bit of black specks on the tip.
I suppose my expectations were a bit too high, as this tea just tastes common; there is nothing exciting or unexpected hiding in the leaves. I’m okay with this, though. It’ll give me something to drink when I don’t have time for other complex teas.
I’ve been away for a bit. However, if anyone cares, I am now a tandem reviewer. With great pleasure and endless frustration, my dear father-in-law is visiting for a few months and will be teaching me how to properly evaluate tea!! He is a fairly well recognized actor who starred in the highest grossing Malaysian movie to date. Nonetheless, he is a kind old man who has tolerated a white devil son-in-law, therefore I hold him in fairly high esteem. He has (of course) been drinking Chinese tea for his entire life (>7 decades). I’ll try to be a good student. Anyway, onto the tea!
I humbly express a huge “thank you” to Angel for the generous samples.
Sheng Ancient tree Puerh
Dry aroma: puerh, not remarkable
Wet aroma: sweet, honey, freshly cut cherry or maple…Pleasant and exciting
Yixing small pot…208F 30-45 sec after two washes (substantial discussions with Chinese grandfather as to the reason, but OK)
First steep: (I’m going to go narrative from here on because the flow, as the tea demand it). The pre-drink aroma was pleasant if unremarkable, but the first sip was oddly delicious and a bit scary. My mind thought, “strange brew”, but I must have more. This is definately Puerh, but Puerh with a funny, not unpleasant twist. I couldn’t put a finger on the curiosity….therefore I had to wake my wife to translate for Mr Lim (my FIL) He did a lot of gesturing and loud talking to express himself. Turns out, he was saying “cats should be grass” “Mao Xu Cao” which translates into Orthosiphonius (Chinese herb). He was quite excited at this point.
The second steep was for three. My wife joined us in the evaluation. This tea is getting stronger and smoother. The partakers are becoming happier. An interesting thing happened at this point. My esteemed Father-in-law began speaking about the goodness, tastiness of the bitterness. I hadn’t noticed much if any bitterness, except for a little bite at the end. What I might have thought as a detriment, my father knew as an attribute…. New way of thinking and tasting….
He is correct. He has experience. I could explain the taste in terms of barkyness or mossiness, but I will simply say that this tea has everything you might expect from a sheng puerh, but it has a significance that appeals to the novice and is noticed by the expert.
This is a tea that should be tasted because it has some uncommon attributes that are exceedingly pleasant.
What can I say, another home run from Teavivre. Yet again I am more impressed with the sample than I ever expected to be from the tea I actually ordered. This tea tastes right away of fruit. Peach and apricot making way to a cherry finish with just a touch of fresh cut grass. One thing that stands out when tasting this tea tho is the gushingly wet mouth feel. This tea has no dryness at all making it extremely refreshing as a for a hot tea and I’m planning on trying it iced to see if that wetness carries over. All said its a great cuppa
Finishing this sample off, and I think this is actually my first Note on it. I’ve been neglectful.
This was my free sample with order. I’m not usually big on jasmine, but I’ve actually been enjoying this one. It’s not as strong and floral. The jasmine scent is pleasant, there but not overpowering, the green tea light and savoury, and mixes well with the floral.
I’d probably keep some of this on-hand for those days that I’m in the mood for something floral, since I already know I like it.
So I’ve been hearing so much about gongfu I couldn’t resist trying it for myself. Also, this gives me an excuse to buy more tea hardware. I saw this “easy gaiwan” and just had to have it (http://www.yunnansourcing.us/store/product.php?id_product=128). It’s the same one Daniel Scott has in his icon. I don’t know if I’m ready for the “big girl” gaiwans, so I liked how it had handles and a built in strainer. I’m also using a strainer basket (also from Yunnansourcing) and a random 4 oz cup I found in the cupboard. One day I’ll get a fancy tea cup, but not yet.
Also, to keep the water warm but accessible, I brewed some hot water and put it all into a cast iron pot for me to pour in segments as I type. As you’ll see over the course of my “steepings”, the water got cooler more quickly than I thought. So this is why people get a Zojirushi.
I chose this tea because everyone has raved about it, and I was just “meh” about it. I thought brewing it gongfu style might help “bring it out” more and make me see what all the fuss was about. Also, it has gongfu in the name. How can you not love it??
I wanted to be part of the cool kids so I wrote down my thoughts of each steeping. But since this is my first time, you’ll see my notes aren’t quite so refined. Oh well, it was an experience.
1st steep – I was supposed to throw this steep out as a rinse, but I just don’t have the heart, so I thought I would try it. I got some light chocolatey notes. Also, this strainer basket is great, but where the heck do I put it when I’m done with it? Right now I’m just putting it over my gaiwan upside down, but next time I should bring along a plate of some sort. Oh geez, more hardware. This gong fu stuff sure requires a lot of room. This is what I get for not using a “serving pitcher”.
2nd steep (20 sec) – Used more tea this time. Definitely stronger and maltier. I’m getting notes of toast in here, as well. And I noticed the tea mentioned caramel, so yeah, I can see that. This is very different than the first steeping. Except I didn’t remember to swirl the leaves around in the gaiwain. Should I have? Maybe I’ll do that next steep and see how it goes. Also, I should use less water since this first true steeping spilled a little bit because I’m trying to get it just right.
3rd steep – (40 sec) My water has cooled down a bit. Boo. Don’t fail me now cast iron. This is a little bit smoother – not quite as maltier. I wonder if my water isn’t hot enough. Ah well.. Also, I noticed this was supposed to be 30 sec NOT 40 sec. Whoops.
4th steep (50 sec) – Now my water has cooled down quite a lot, even though my cast iron still feels hot. Why have you neglected me, cast iron? Also, I had my first pouring fail. I thought the lid was on properly, but I went to pour and it wasn’t and I spilled some water. Oh well, cleaning it up wasn’t too bad. The tea isn’t bad, but now it’s starting to have this metallic taste to it. Hmm.. I better drink my water fast so I can do another steeping before my water gets too cold.
5th steep – (1 min, 10 sec) – Need to figure out an efficient way to time these things because looking at my watch and hoping for the best probably isn’t going to cut it. So uh.. I guess the steeping time is right. We’ll hope so. Also, this tea is luke-warm and I’m not really tasting anything besides metallic-ness. I guess I need to break down and go make some warm water from the kettle, which is in the other room #firstworldteaproblems.
6th steep – (1 min, 30 sec) – Okay, so I went back and actually got hot water from the kettle. I steeped this the time allotted, and now it’s kinda bitter and extra metalic. Bleh. I wonder if I messed things up by using luke warm water the last few times. Should that really matter? As it cools though it’s not THAT bitter, but it’s that exciting, either.
Okay, I think I’m done with this tea. I gave it 6 good steepings, but I’m just not going to love it, especially near the end. The gongfu experience was fun, but it’s a lot more work than my traditional western style. I’ll definitely try it on some more teas to try and see what fun I can extract out of them.
This is just a really good tasting tea, its vegetal like dark green veggies(spinach) roasty toasty and just so slightly smokey, I think that what I wrote the first time and very little astringency was a little off I think that it’s more of a slight pleasant bitterness rather than an astringency if that makes any sense at all. This is a really nice green tea, I would say different from most green teas I’ve had but I have very little exp with green teas. I think I’ll buy more of this very soon to keep on hand for my visitors and company who ask for a green tea because I won’t serve a visitor a tea that I don’t like(unless they ask for it specific) and I think it is a very good green tea for company.
Not bad at all, Lance likes this one alot, I accidentally over-steeped mine this morning and it gave me some minty notes that were interesting with the smokiness still not bad tho, I’ll probably make a blog post about it soon with some pics :)
Lance tried this one with me because Lapsang is one of his favs he loves the smoky Lapsangs. Lance has had many more Lapsangs than I have and he says this is one of the better ones that he has had.
This one smells nice and smokey when dry and just as good when wet.
The smoky flavor is slightly subtle so its not very over powering but it’s remains for a few steeps, there is little to no astringency to this one which to me personally is awesome because a lot of Lance’s Lapsangs ae stringent to me. This is perfect for a person who wants to try a smoky tea but thinks that Lapsang would be too smokey, It’d Subtly and sweet and a very nice tea :)
2 or 3 good steeps with this one, and thats not bad :)