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Recent Tasting Notes
Ugh, my computer froze and I lost my note on this one. I have had it before so it’s not too big of a deal, but still annoying.
Mainly I am trying to figure out some of my gongfu brewing issues. No matter what I can’t seem to have a good gongfu session. Maximally I get one good first steep, a decent second steep, and after that it’s all meh, regardless of the tea. I thought maybe I wasn’t using enough leaf so I went crazy with this one. It’s actually less good than the last time I went gongfu on this one and used half the leaf. Still don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve obviously enjoyed the gongfu sessions I had at tastings that other people ran, and I have even successfully gongfu’d tea myself before (a jasmine green), so I don’t know what my problem is here. I think I cannot seem to figure out the optimal leaf amount for my pot. Maybe someday.
Gong fu of the day. I’ve had this one once before but I think I mistakenly put the review under the organic version; I checked, and I have the non-organic. Whoops. Anyway I used one of the vacuum-packed sample pouches for my 6oz teapot; I measured, and it was a little over 1 Tbsp. I’m going to try this one a few short steeps to start and see how it goes. Side note: there are a lot more tiny tea bits in this pouch than I remember the last one having. Thankfully I have my ultra-fine strainer for my ru tea set, so no bits in my fairness pitcher.
After a quick rinse I did a 20 second steep, and it smelled and tasted delicious. Floral, sweet, a bit buttery, just overall delightfull. Really, basically everything I look for in a TGY, except for maybe I like a few more buttery/creamy notes, but that’s not a big thing. Second steep was also at 20 seconds, and the florals and sweetness have faded considerably from the aroma, while the vegetal greenness has become much stronger. The taste is pretty enjoyable; not as good as the first, but perhaps a bit better than my previous second steeps with other oolongs. Still some sweetness, still some florals, perhaps more butteriness, along with the increased vegetal notes. Third steep at 25 seconds is down to mediocrity. Maybe I do need to use way more leaf for my pot. I will certainly burn through my stash quickly that way!
On the third day of tea-mas Angel gave to me, three Yun Nan Dian Hongs, two Bai Lin Gong Fu’s and a 75th tasting note! So yesterday my Verdant spring greens arrived, Monday the husband’s Upton samples came and today, quite unexpectedly the post man knocked and I signed for a box I wasn’t sure if I should be looking at, then I saw my name and all the stickers from customs and realized what it must be, my free TeaVivre samples!
Thank you so much to Angel and all the folks at TeaVivre for such a generous offer try new tea in exchange for reviewing them. Any company that offers samples, be they included with an order or offered at a very affordable price gets points in customer service in my book, this is the first I’ve come across that has offered them completely free (I understand this would be very impractical for smaller companies in the States). I will definitely be placing an order soon!
So this tea! This tea that is all the buzz on Steepster. This tea that has been on my shopping list for so long. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely! I am grateful for the four tiny serving packets, it makes things less intimidating. I feel comfortable diving into this tea knowing I have a serving that I can make for my husband strong, one that I can save for my gaiwan and for my guests (okay maybe two for guests).
Today though I semi-gongfu-ed this in the tea maker. I did a rinse, but was too curious and took a sip (or three) before pouring an offering into my cast iron cups, it was sweet and delicious and very promising. I wasn’t able to pinpoint the scents of the dried leaves though they were dark rich and lovely, the wet leaves though are unmistakeably dark rye, more salty smelling than sweet, but still very inticing.
Oh this tea is very well mannered, but not at all dull. This is a black tea that could convert coffee drinkers and white tea drinkers alike, it even reminds me a bit of coffee in this steep, but in the best and most gentle of ways. It is not the least bit rough, astringent or sour. It has cocoa and caramel, a hint of butter and yes bread-yness, something I don’t believe I’ve experienced before.
I’m on my second steep well and very pleased as second steeps haven’t been working out for me lately. This tea sings, it reminds me a bit of a Ceylon in that respect, there is a bit of spice but it is so velvety that reads more as cider (yes another Ceylon association for me). I really do think the husband will like this one and he couldn’t possibly tell me these short steeps taste like boiled rocks, or could he? I don’t understand how his tongue and brain work together.
Third infusion could have been a bit longer, but it is still very nice and there is promise in the bottom of the cup. Update: enjoying these later steeps this evening, these last two cups (steeps 5 and 6? at around 1 min each) are a bit more sweet and mineral and remind me of Verdant’s Yanxin’s Reserve ’04 Shu Nuggets in its angel food cake feel. Yum!
I look forward to introducing it to the husband, brother-in-law and possibly old co-workers, to comparing it the organic sample (I also think this would be interesting to compare to the newer harvest of Laoshan Black as it is a bit grainy) and some epic Yunnan sampling ahead. Thank you again Angel and TeaVivre, it is truly delicious!
I was having a cup of this for the second time this week at work, still trying to figure out what that familiar flavor was…then it hit me! Fresh juicy papaya! I am so relieved! I’ve been trying to figure it out since the first cup. So tasty!
I think I also need to revise my opinion of this tea. I figured out that I used a bit too much leaf the first time. Also, I’ve stopped hoping for that buttery cream flavor in milk oolongs. Much better without the flavor of disappointment. I’ll just stick with calling these oolongs Jin xuan and appreciate them for what they are. Smooth and delicious papaya. :)
So I’m trying this awesome sample from Azzrian in my brand new glass mug with strainer and lid. I can drink tea at work without those paper filters now! Awesome! I also love how lovely the tea looks through the glass. I want to just look out the window and drink tea for the rest of the day.
I’m quite enjoying this one. It’s not as creamy and milky as other milk oolongs I’ve tried. I think I’ve only had David’s and the three from Tea from Taiwan. It’s also quite it bit more drying on the tongue, though not unpleasantly. This may be because I’ve always brewed my oolongs with below recommended temperatures. I tend to prefer them that way, but I followed directions this time. Hmm… I guess I’ll try a cooler temp next time and see how it goes.
As it is, this oolong is very nice for a daily brew. The first steep was sweet and floral with a light milkiness. This second brew is more vegetal with an aftertaste of unripe melon. There’s a heaviness in the mouthfeel but the lightly floral scent in the back of the sip keeps things balanced.
Not my favorite to be honest, but it makes a good everyday tea. I wonder if I’ll like the flavored one more. :D
Thank you again, Azzrian, for the chance to taste this!
This is the last of the samples I received from Teavivre. I have been meaning to write it up for a while but can only plead extreme ennui, which is a shame because I received a large sample and have been enjoying it regularly for a week now.
The keyword in my excuse above is ‘enjoying’. This is a lovely green tea and it has given me much pleasure. The leaves look beautiful and suspend in the teapot very pleasingly. I generally use a glass teapot for my green teas, and in this case particularly, the visual aesthetic is emphasised by doing so. It smells grassy and slightly nutty. When brewed these flavours come to the fore and I find myself not wanting to swallow the tea because my tastebuds are dancing around in delight as I roll the tea around my mouth. The aftertaste is sweet and I can imagine that my breath now has a nutty, buttery, grassy deliciousness to it as I breathe out. Yes, this is a tea that is well worth savouring and is one I shall add to my buying list.
Stole this bit from my post on Tropical Tea Co’s Pai Mu Tan:
I’m not a huge fan of unflavored white tea, as it tends to be a little more… delicate than I think I truly appreciate at this point. It’s good, it tastes good, but it’s not quite the tea I want to drink, you know?
It holds true here, and since I’m comparing two teas against each other, I’m being efficient and plagiarizing myself! And then being inefficient by explaining my self-plagiarism. It’s my prerogative!
(my apologies if you’re perfectly in the like seven year age demographic span to now have a song stuck in your head)
This tea, much like the Tropical version, is very light, sweet, and grassy. The grassy flavor is a little more subdued on this version, leaning more towards the cucumber-y flavor. The somewhat spicy peppery notes take more center stage real estate in this tea, instead of lingering slowly along in the aftertaste.
Together, the flavors seem to be a little more smooth and cohesive. This does add to it’s delicacy somewhat, but still produces an overall more enjoyable brew. I still don’t think I’ll be making this a permanent collection tea at the moment, but I was definitely glad to get to try it again.
We got our box from Teavivre today, so a big thank you to Angel and the rest of the Teavivre team.
I should start this off with a bit of a disclaimer that I wouldn’t consider myself much of a white tea fan. They tend to be subtle and contemplative teas. Maybe more useful to someone with a more discerning palate than my own.
However – this is by far the best white tea I’ve ever had. The flavor itself is still a little subdued, but the heavier feel of this brew really took me for surprise (actually, I’ve felt that way about both of the Teavivre teas I’ve tried now… it’s probably a mark of quality).
There’s a little sweetness to this, and a very… fresh, spring, vegetation taste to it. A light tea with a grassy flavor, and… something, like cucumber skin, or maybe sprouts on the edge. Very very fresh tasting. At the end, there’s a spicier, maybe light peppery flavor to it, reminds me of that same somewhat leafy, peppery taste from a golden Yunnan tea. Not sure if that makes sense.
I don’t think this one is going to make it to the ‘keep’ list, but I’m glad that I tried it. Thanks again Angel!
I got my box of tea from china today! Woot!
We have the pai mu tan from tropical tea company and I like this one better. The pai mu tan feels like the less interesting cousin to this one. I get a bit of cucumber and pepper ending with a note like alfalfa fields. I haven’t ever chewed on alfalfa but this tastes like they smell. I find it mildly sweet. Score! A good tea but I think I like the darker teas a bit more.
Setup (teapot method)
- Vessel: glass teapot (250 ml)
- Leaf: 7,4 grams (sample bag)
- Water: 80 Celsius
- Steeping time: 1m, 1m30s, 2m
Dry leaf – Somewhat long, twisted in loop fashion with fluffy appearance and about 40% of white hairs. The aroma is very rich with clear notes of snap peas with grassy edge.
Wet leaf – Relatively wholesome, it seems to be a fragile kind due to a young leaf and processing method. Airs of brothy vegetable notes with some nutty components in the back.
Infusion – I must criticize Teavivre’s preparation instructions a little bit before I move on the tasting. It seems that the teapot methods on some of their teas result in unbalanced cups, Oriental Beauty Oolong and Fengqing Black Dragon Pears to be precise. I was a bit afraid that this might happen with this tea as well and I’m glad that it didn’t.
This tea is a ‘loud’ one, it doesn’t slowly introduce you with its nuances like some more delicate green would, it actually hits you with a rich and intensive mouthful and leaves you to decompose its notes as you sip on. I think this is by far, so far, the best experience I ever had with vegetable character in tea. It bears intensive notes of corn, eggplant and even some squash, and the eggplant is the one I found the most interesting. I remember when I was a little boy that eggplant had an almost bitter taste with a bite at the top of the tongue, and this tea reproduces it perfectly.
Aside the vegetable components that bears some pleasant and refreshing bitterness there are some grassy notes that might hint on some more brothy Japanese greens, altogether with nutty elements of roasted chestnut and cashew.
The other cups show a slow decline of vegetable components allowing some sweetness and even flowery notes to develop. Third cup bears some astringency, but not enough to shake the overall impression.
Setup (gaiwan method)
- Vessel: porcelain gaiwan (85 ml)
- Leaf: 4 grams
- Water: 80 Celsius
- Steeping time: 30s, 50s, 1m20s, 1m40s
Infusion – Gaiwan method on the other hand shows some more bite, better pronounced nutty notes, and emphasizes more on the corn note than the other vegetable components.
I remember last year’s Bi Luo Chun being quite good, but this fresh pick definitely beats it, which comes at the price (this – 15$/100gr, last year – 10-11$/100g).
Free sample provided by TeaVivre. Thank you!
Dark greenleaf is twisted and lightly rolled in snail shape with about quarter of white buds. This Bi Luo Chun reminds me of White Monkey Paw since its so fluffy and doesn’t seem to deviate much in appearance. When I phisically compared the two, they’re almost identical!
I brewed two one-minute infusions using 250 ml glass teapot using 3 gr of leaf and 80 Celsius water.
First infusion, strained after one minute shows off light green-yellow tone with steamed vegetables (something like zucchini or peas, not sure) along with some leaf sediment at the bottom. Initially, the liquor doesn’t seem to show any signs of astringency, it’s fresh, light and moist. Second sip reveals some chestnut note hiding in background. Half way in, astringency silently moves in stiffening the gums and leaving the tongue dry and on the very root sweetness lingers. As I go past half the cup the intensity of dryness and astringency increases but still not shifting to leaving off unwanted overall impression.
I’m not a big fan of Bi Luo Chun, but I can keep up with astringency/dryness as long as it doesn’t get past this point.
Second infusion shifts more to vegetal element with accent to dryness and somewhat astringency that are in the same range as second half of first cup. There isn’t any sign of that sitting sweetness from previous cup. Half way in and dryness moves to throat with starchy texture and tongue registers just a hint of bitterness righ just after the swallow.
The leaf could take one more infusion that would be even more dry, astringent and even bitter. I’m really satisfied with first cup but I would pass the second one if I’m in ‘spoiled palate’ mood.
Wet leaf reveals notable broken leaves due to handling and transport. There’s a large of first leaf that has just separated from the bud which is characteristic for this tea that is harvested early in season. With deep sniff fresh and grassy profile is savored with vegetal note in background.
Tea of the afternoon… (SRP #30)
Hmmm. The needles on this one are definitely longer than my previous cup. It also is incredibly fresh and you can see the difference in the steeped leaves compared to my last cup. The brew is so pale, it does not look all that much different from water. I had to double check the water temp, because I have not really seen a white tea brew up this pale. I used the same setting on my electric kettle as the last and steeped for 2 minutes. It could also be that I should have twice as much tea than the 5 gram packet I added to my 24 oz teapot (I am really thinking this is where my problem lies). This is quite different from my previous cup. But, this would be the prime choice for the person who likes subtlety in their floral teas. For me, I pretty much prefer a sweet form of jasmine in overdrive as long as it doesn’t go to perfumy. I do get the high quality white tea flavor profile. Also, the price of this one brings it in line more with an every day tea
I am off to try a resteep of the first half along with the rest of my sample for three minutes to see if it helps. Stay tuned.
Edit to add: Yes, much better on the resteep. Light jasmine, high quality white tea. Liquor is still on the pale side, but what I woud expect from a white tea.
In summary: Lovely tea. Unbeatable price. All form a company with great service and attention to detail in presenting themselves in a way appreciated by tea drinkers.
Thank you Teavivre for this wonderful Pu-erh sample!
It is a gloriously beautiful day on the Frontrange! After yesterday’s rain, everything sparkles today in the sunshine at this mile high altitude. The green trees seem greener and the birds are hunting for worms in the still damp grass.
I remembered that I had one last Pu-erh sample from Teavivre to try out. A special older one. Good choice for my early morning lazy bones enjoyment.
I prepared my Yixing pot and a 1.5 tsp of the dry pu-erh. My rinse time was 10 seconds and I did 2 rinses. In all I was able to do 5 steepings before I was full, but I continued later in the day and will this evening. I made iced, bottled pu-erh for on the road (delicious) from these same leaves. I have to note that this was some of the darkest, dry pu-erh I’d ever seen, and tightly compacted! There’s not much scent to the dry leaf.
Steep time on the package said 2 min. (I like pu-erh strong but, you could shorten a bit).
1. The color of the liquor was chestnut brown and there was no musty, earthy scent. When I smelled the wet leaves they smelled like sweet grass and bread. The first sip was sweet, salty hazelnut-pecan without any tannin. The flavor was full and rich.
2. I messed up and let this round steep 5 minutes…eek…it looked like espresso. Not to worry! The DARK chestnut liquor still tasted good. I drank it (are you kidding me?!)
I made a Cappucino because, eh….in Rome you can add some milk in the morning ONLY! I had saved my cuppa!
3. I noticed that the leaves had still NOT opened all the way inside my Yixing. This was really tightly packed pu-erh! The leaves were smelling a little more like leather in a good way. The pour was chestnut brown so I had not killed the strength (whew!). The flavor had changed. It was lighter and juicy. There was cinnamon that filled my whole mouth mid sip and was sweet but not biting. All the flavors together had body. This was a good pour.
4. Now the leaves had become as black as midnight and smelled of sweet leather. The flavor on the pour had become juicy with some tannin and less cinnamon or nuttiness. The color was still good but the tea seemed to be going flat on flavor.
5. Here is where I added a little sugar…the spice returned and the tannin toned down, but now an apricot floral flavor swept in at the finish. I mean, which would you prefer? Flat and tannin, rich and apricot floral? I pick #2. On and on this tea delivers and does not quit. It does not give up. Amazing!
Here is my take. This is a bargain! You can steep this tea forever! I have just scratched the surface on the steeping possibilities of just a little bit of this pu-erh and the delicious flavor is worth purchasing! This is a quality pu-erh!
And note about what to do with used leaves. I have a garden pot where I mix mulch with good used organic tea leaves (especially pu-erh). I also have a jar for pu-erh rinse water that I let cool and pour on my herb garden plants. They thank me by growing strong and healthy.
New tasting with the spring harvest!
The leaves on this one are fluffy, but kind of twisted. The dry leaf has a light, sweet smell to it. Brewed, it is a bit more brothy and vegetal. I found that this tea was not as mild as before, but I anticipated that and added in a little more leaf. I am not sure that was wise, but it wasn’t un-wise. I did get a stronger flavour with more leaf, but maybe I had wanted something a little lighter after all. I think I lost out on some of the sweetness I smelled in the dry leaf that way.
I’m not good at describing subtle tastes in tea, so I can’t make out what veggies it tastes like, but it was a little more savoury than the sweet that I was expecting.
This tasting was better than the previous, I think. I’m not sure if it is because it is a different harvest, or the brewing parameters changed.
Many thanks to Angel at Teavivre for providing this sample for review.
1) I’m sick and am not going to get the best taste or flavour out of this tea
2) I used too much leaf or did something wrong with the brewing
3) I’m just not a fan of straight green tea anymore
Or it could be all of the above, in parts. This steep is feeling heavy and a bit astringent.
More after I have finished this cup and attempt a re-steep.
Many thanks to Angel Chen for sending this to me to try…
The second steeping has brought out a milder taste, though I’m still leaning toward the notion that I used too much leaf, and that I am just not as much a fan of Chinese greens.
I really like the the look and texture of the leaves though, when they are dry. The white tips are a nice touch.
I have to say that I think this tea is a bit savoury and astringent or drying. Next time I will use less leaf and maybe a shorter steep time as well.
Since I was re-visiting the Bailin black, I figured I might as well try this one out again using the gongfu method. Teavivre black teas gongfu experiment day!
I did four steepings: rinse,15,25,40, and 60 seconds.
The gongfu method really brings out the sweetness in the tea. I am getting more caramel notes than I did with the western method. I am still getting that slight sweet potatoe note as well. Or maybe my tastes have developed more and my palate is becoming more refined. Either way, I am increasing my rating a bit!
This is my last sample of this package, I was so excited to try them all that I had to sample them all right away! Thankyou again to Angel and TEAVIVRE for these wonderfully generous samples!
I used 1 teaspoon of leaf. The leaves are nice looking, different than anything I have seen before.
I was a little worried about the smell of the steeped leaves….it was like smoky potatoe soup.
The liqour is a nice deep brown.
1st steep: complex sweet potatoe with a little pit of smoky and sweetness in there. This might sounds weird but it tastes a little like barley without the grain-i-ness (does that make sense). It kinda tastes like sweet potatoe soup, which sounds really strange but actually tastes pretty good.
2nd steep: 90degrees, 3minutes, a little less sweet but still good
3rd steep: 95degrees, 4 minutes, now it tastes like potatoe soup without the sweet potatoe
This is very different than I was expecting and very different than anything I have tried before. I actually like it!
Goodness. This one is a keeper. I had to wait until my second time tasting this before adding a note, just to make sure I do like it this much.
Looks: My sample came in a purple package with the leaves vacuum packed inside. The tea itself is sticky with honey and brew up a medium green.
Fragrance & Taste: The aroma is characteristic of Tie Kuan Yin, but the addition of honey make it more..comforting, somehow. There is a little more sweetness, and the flavour is more mellow. I find I crave this on morning when I’m sore and tired.
Brewing note: This tea is not great for resteeping, in my opinion, because the honey is pretty much gone after the first steep. Sure, you can resteep and the TGY flavour is still fabulous, but I find myself missing the delicious honey flavour. I brew at just under 200F, for 2 minutes. There is a slight astringent flavour if I overbrew, which I imagine will get worse the longer you steep.
Disclaimer: I got this as a free sample from TeaVivre.
Thank you Teavivre for the sample!
This tea was very relaxing today. I even found it evoked some vivid memories in my mind. I didn’t find it as flavourful as other Bai Mu Dan’s I’ve tried, but I did find it to be slightly sweet, floral and meditative. The texture was silky smooth and delicate, yet almost syrupy.
I got 3 steeps out of the leaves, and although the caffeine content is low, I do feel energized in a very relaxing way. Like I could do a craft. I’m going to do a craft!
I have a full review on the way, I’ll post the link in the comments below when it’s finished :)
Thank you TeaEqualsBliss for sending me some of this tea. It is astounding!
What a deliciously complex cup of tea. I will probably be echoing some of the other tasting notes here, because I do taste the sweet-potato/yam-like flavors, as well as the caramel-y undertones. I also taste a bit of spice to this, like a hint of nutmeg and pepper.
A remarkably good set of flavors to this tea… I’m so enjoying it! YUM!
Free Sample from Teavivre.
First steep I decided to drink instead of use as rinse – leathery, not fishy at all other than slightly very slightly in aroma and if you can get past that which I did easily it is quite rich and lovely!
Tastes of wood, sandalwood specifically come out.
Slightly perfume like flavor.
The following steeps still tasted dark, chocolate notes come out, the leather like flavors still present and I am feeling very relaxed!
Pu-erh is a very lovely special tea which I always throughly enjoy.
Thank you Teavivre for this sample!