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Recent Tasting Notes
THIS IS A MONUMENTAL POST! DO YOU HEAR ME?! MONUMENTAL!!!!
This is a landmark for many reasons:
1.) THIS IS MY 100th tasting note! I can’t believe I’ve made so many!
2.) I have exactly 70 followers now! Thank you to everyone that puts up with my incoherent ramblin’s!
3.) This is my first 100 on a tea! Ironically on my 100th tasting note! Whuddathunkit?
So, thank you to everyone that’s stuck with me this whole time, I’ve already grown exponentially in my tea experience and I look forward to growing even more! Sorry that I haven’t been on for a few days, I’ve had a lot to do this week AND I wanted to make this note special because, it is afterall a landmark post. Also, I am sad to say that I most likely won’t be on for the rest of the week/weekend because I have the Vermont AllState Music Festival tomorrow through Saturday and then we are having a family dinner for Mother’s Day because my family from out of town are here visiting! Super exciting! You best believe that I will be drinking tea though!
So, onto this tea! Thank you very kindly to Angel and the rest of the Teavivre team, this tea is without a doubt one of the best blacks I’ve ever tried. I know that this will be a repeat of what I have said in the past and what other’s have said, but I love it so much. Last time I reviewed this I was going through a “moody I’m questioning what I like and how I like it” phase, but now I’m back and I can say fully that I love this one to death.
It has all the perfect characteristics that a Fujian should-it’s got a very nice, fresh baked bread taste (rye perhaps?). Alongside that is an extremely dark dark chocolate note that adds…… Not necessarily sweetness but rather a nice accent to the bread. Like a Pain au Chocolat, but a little bit of a grainier bread and a really dark chocolate.
In the second steep (unfortunately all I got to with this session today, although I know for a fact that it could have been steeped AT LEAST one or two more times) a realllllly yummy caramel taste came out. The grain started to back off a little in this one, though it was still definitely there. There was absolutely no astringency in either of these steeps!
This one is definitely going on the repurchase list! Thanks again to Angel and Teavivire for this sample as well as to all of my lovely followers for supporting me and reading my rambli-I mean reviews! Happy Drinking!
SO I HAVE A LOT OF GREAT NEWS TO DISCLOSE IN THIS POST
The first is that my first post on my TeaTrade blog is up. The blog can be found here http://serendipitea.teatra.de/. I explain more in depth there what I aim to do. Please take a click and tell me what you think!
The second (okay so there were really only two things) is that I’ve made the decision to stop rating teas. I know of only one other user who does this (JacquelineM) but I’m doing it for a slightly different reason than she does it (though her reason does come in to play a little). The main reason is that rating a tea means that all of the work I put in to making a review culminates to me making a rating that says if I like it or dislike it. Compared to many here, I’m very new to the premium and loose leaf tea scene. The goal of me having an account here on Steepster is for me to me able to explore new teas and learn as well as review the new things that I’ve tried. I feel like if I spend a whole review listing what I taste only to culminate it in me rating it on if I like it or not, I’m not really growing. I want to review every tea I try purely by how it tastes, and not by if I like it or not. I want to go into my review unbiased and focus simply on the liquid in my mouth from a standpoint that is as unbiased as possible. I feel like that will help me grow in my knowledge of teas more than rating a tea on a like-based scale. Once I feel like I’ve tried enough teas and taken my palette to a place that I feel comfortable that I’m at the peak of my journey, I will perhaps start rating teas again. But until then, I’m going to go without rating teas.
So, now that all of this has been said, onto the tea! This is a backlog from yesterday. Another sample that Teavivre sent me!
I was so excited to try this tea. I mean like. REALLY. Excited. I mean come on, it’s the highest rated tea on the site, how could I not be?!
So, trying to keep my excitement to a low, I opened this one up. The dry leaf smells a lot like bread. In a really yummy, toasty way.
The wet leaf and tea itself smell a lot like fresh baked bread. In a way that really entices you. The tea itself is wonderful. It’s very strong and certainly not light, even with only being steeped for 2 and a half minutes! It too tastes like toasty, warm, fresh baked bread. It practically screams bakery! It’s so wonderful. Even as it cooled it retains its boldness, as a certain caramel-y note (not too sweet) comes out. It’s almost like a savory caramel-like a salted one that has a little too much salt, but in a good way. It tastes…… toasty. This, again, is hard for me to put into words, but the best I can say is bread! A wonderful tea, and I can see why it’s the top! This is definitely going into my repurchase list!
This is absolutely lovely. The milk tones are subtle compared to a manipulated (flavored) milk Oolong, but, I like that. It allows the natural tones of flower and nut to come forward, and gives it a subtle “warm milk” kind of flavor in the background that is remarkably soothing.
Truly a delicious Oolong. I’m on the combination of infusions three and four as I type this, and I think I’ll take it for a couple more.
This is exciting-my first order from Teavivre and my first order direct from China!
I’ve never heard of this tea before, but Teavivre’s web site said this is refreshing in hot weather and with an early summer in the States, I thought it was worth a shot.
The leaves are as everyone says-thin and very dark green, almost black (Charleston Green, perhaps?). The dry leaves are very fragrant and smell like spinach and a touch of cream, or maybe even creamed spinach with a bit of nutmeg? Brewed leaves turn a very nice spinach green color.
Have made this two times. First time was 1 tsp at 175 for one minute. 2nd steep was 175 for 1:15. Very pleasant. Taste very similar to aroma. Spinachy, kinda sweet, smooth. Slightly weaker 2nd steep-but definitely worth 2 infusions.
Today I used 2 tsp at 175. First steep was 175 for 2 minutes. Liquor was a pale green-yellow, with more green in it than yellow. Spinach was the dominant flavor-really the only flavor that I can describe. Surprised that there was a bit of bitterness in this steep and I think I brewed this a little too long. Still, it was good.
Second steep: 175/2min. Maximum spinach/vegetal flavor. Zero bitterness. Clearly brewed the earlier steep too long. Liquor is paler, again slightly more green than yellow. Very enjoyable.
Third steep: Liquor is paler still. Again a bit more green than yellow in color. Flavor is weakening. Still slightly spinachy but gravitating toward what I perceive as a generic green tea flavor-a GOOD general tea flavor, but not as unique as the first two steeps.
Well, our hot spell ended before this tea arrived, so I can’t comment on its effect in hot weather, but it is a refreshing tea and I expect it to do well. I may even ice it.
I am mostly a black tea drinker, but I feel I need a bit of balance in my teas. This has worked out well and I will probably order it again-feel stupid for ordering this just before the new harvest came in. Still, excellently packaged and the tea looks and tastes very fresh.
The result from my third steep is in: it worked with the way I have been steeping it this time!
At first I was nervous because the liquor was a little lighter than the past two steeps and it didn’t smell as toasty/chocolatey as the previous two steeps. Then I sipped it and it was still pretty good. It did not taste watery like the third steeps did when I still had my first steep time at 4 minutes.
I have always wanted to try this tea with just a bit of milk and I always enjoyed it so much that I never did. I figured I would try it with this one just because. At first, the tea didn’t taste any different. Just a little creamier. Then the milk started to bring out this nice nutty taste. Creamy, nutty, and still roasty. Sadly, all the dark cocoa taste has worn off but I wasn’t expecting it to last through the last cup.
When I want it to I can make this tea last through three steepings. That makes me happy.
I almost dumped the rest of the sample into my press by accident. I shook the packet a little bit too hard and the tea just came out! As a result, I think I put a little bit more leaf than I usually do.
It came out dark and roasty. There was a hint of dark cocoa to it that I crave whenever I have this. I have been steeping at a shorter and shorter time and it comes out darker and darker. I must have used more leaf. The flat leaves don’t like fitting into my teaspoon so I have to eyeball this one.
It looks like I only have one more good sampling left of this one though. I normally get two big mugs worth of each steep, so it was a very generous sampling. I just love it so much. I will have to plan my next tea purchase and decide if I run to Teavivre right away or if I will play with 52teas.
I’m going to try a third steep again. Normally I stop with two steeps of this one, but I think the leaves might have enough punch left for a third steep. I’m on the second right now, so I will report my findings after dinner.
I brewed this just a little differently this time. I think I used a little bit more leaf and steeped for a lower time. The first steep was 3 minutes long while the second steep was 4 minutes long. This produced a more flavorful second steep and really brought out the chocolate notes in the first steep.
This is really yummy and good for any time of day. I might have to break it into two cups the next time I drink it and try one cup with a spoonful of sugar to see if that brings out the chocolate notes even more. If it does, I will have to give it to mom to try since that is how she makes her tea.
Backlogging from Vacation #4:
I did manage to bring my french press with me and brew a cup of this up for breakfast one day. I had to use bottled water and even boiled, it didn’t make the tea taste as fantastic as I remember it being. It was still good and I felt indulging making it on a camping trip. My aunt and uncle even thought that it was really cool that I was indulging in loose leaf tea. They have discovered a fondness for chamomile tea.
I have missed drinking this. My mom was eyeballing me as I made it so I offered her a sip. She took it and she said that she liked it better than the Gongfu black, but she would still prefer it with some sugar. She used to drink loose leaf but said that “it was prehistoric” and “not like this”. I think I might be getting her interested in it again because of my press.
When I was making my second steep (which I am drinking now), my brother was eyeballing my tea press. I offered him some and he took it. He just came down to tell me that it was really good and that he “didn’t know how to describe it”. I told him that we could have some tea together tomorrow.
I feel like I am slowly introducing tea to my family. My mom and brother both drink tea on occasion, but it is normally either Sleepytime (my brother’s favorite) or something like Lipton. I think I might try to find a loose leaf orange pekoe for my mom because Constant Comment is her favorite.
Backlog #6: You didn’t think I would stay away from some type of Yunnan that long now that I have this, did you? This one is a little less chocolately than the Golden Imperial Lotus from Teavana, but I don’t have to steep it as long to get a full cup out of it. I still only steep it only two times or else it just gets too weak for my taste.
I really want to know how this would taste in a latte, but I love it too much plain to drink it with milk. Maybe one day I will try it before I get other Yunnans.
I have been looking forward to this yunnan ever since my tea samples came to me. The leaves were long and slender. They wouldn’t play nicely with my flat bamboo tea spoon, so I just filled the bottom of my press with leaves. The brew is nice and dark brown. It looks like a solid black tea and I could probably fool some of my friends into thinking this was coffee. It is that dark at just three minutes.
The second steep (4 mins) is just as delicious as the first (3 mins). Bold and roasty. The second steep has a slight undertone of chocolate that I love with this tea. I keep timing my teas wrong. This is a good tea to wake up with in the morning. It is slightly heavy tasting for the afternoon, but I adore it anyway. Maybe the promise of this in the morning will actually get me out of bed earlier so I can make it.
Later… third steep at 4 and a half minutes. The flavor isn’t as strong, but it is still tasty. I think I only like doing two steepings for yunnan blacks because I like them stronger.
The chores are done, so it’s time to relax with a wonderful cup of green tea! I carefully cut open the silver package and discovered very thin, very dark leaves with a lovely aroma of spinach. The leaves are such a dark green that they look black. It reminds me of dried black moss, if such a thing exists, but with a much more appealing bouquet of aromas I’m sure.
I think I’m going to go for several steeps with this one to see how the flavors morph. This is going to be fun! I was generous with the leaf too because I almost always brew my teas too weak. First infusion for one minute, and the little leaves opened all the way up! They’re actually a very vibrant green color now that they’re open. The brewed aroma is very green, very vegetal. And the taste? Matches the aroma perfectly!
This first cup is alive! There’s no better way to describe it. It reminds me of spring, flowers blooming and grass growing. Vivacious and thriving with a nice balance between spinach and nori. It’s naturally sweet and light but also very flavorful. This is a perfect complement to my mood. :)
The greatest part of this tea is that it has a lovely lingering aftertaste. And even though it’s so green, it doesn’t taste grassy. It’s definitely a steamed veggie taste. Butter not chlorophyll. But as it cools, it loses its vibrancy. Time to move on to steep number two (176 degrees for two minutes)!
The second cup is less salty nori and…flatter. It’s still sweet, but a lot less so. It’s also no longer buttery. The first cup was definitely the best. But what’s remained constant is the lingering vegetal aftertaste, although it’s a little delayed now and less green. As this cup cools, it’s darker with hints towards, but not fully reaching, bitterness.
I don’t think this is a marathon infusion kind of tea. At least not the way I approached it with multiple long steeps. Maybe a series of short steeps would have yielded better results. Of course, now I’m sloshing with tea. So, I think I’m done for now. I was going to go for a third infusion, but I don’t think the leaves are up to it.
Still, that first cup was magic! So, I’m rating it accordingly. This is a solid choice for green tea fans.
We got our shipment from Teavivre yesterday. This means we have tea face offs to do today. Yay!
So I’m upping the rating one this one because I found I can truly enjoy it more than I had previously thought. Smooth malty grains with sweet caramel/dark chocolate like notes. I think my previous association with beer almost ruined this tea. While it still has the same grain notes I remember, I’ve picked up other flavors that I enjoy. This is rather good, especially since I can enjoy it plain.
Today we had organic vs regular bailin gongfu. Regular wins out for me. It just seems to finesse me where the organic is more bold. Bold is good, but I really enjoy the way the flavors sneak up on me in the regular.
This is a sample from Azzrian, Thanks! Brewed this up as the first cup of the day. Not a bad cup of tea, but not my favorite either.
It’s a very grainy, malty tea. It really reminds me of the smell a friend’s house had while he was making beer. The end of the sip is sweet, reminding me of honey. Very thick mouth feel to it. It isn’t bitter or astringent at all, good marks for that.
So, in honor of receiving our Teavivre packages yesterday… we’re having our first taste-off! Bailin Gongfu vs. Organic Bailin Gongfu!
Henceforth, references to this tea will be abbreviated to BGF. Act like you know ;)
This tea is malty and smooth, a very grainy flavor and texture. Beneath it all is a caramelly sweetness, and when you add a little bit of sugar it develops into an almost chocolate kind of flavor. This remarkably interesting flavor combination only reaffirms my association of this to a good, dark beer. It’s earthy, and delightful.
So how does it compare to the Organic BGF? Well, to anyone that has drank this tea before, this isn’t going to make any sense… but the non-organic version is… more subtle. The flavor, as deep and rich as it is, pales a little bit in comparison to the Organic BGF.
However, this strength comes at the price of smoothness. The stronger, earthier organic version lacks a teensy bit of that polished, malty smoothness that the BGF has.
So, I think the blue ribbon goes to the non-organic version. As a daily drinker kind of tea, I’d choose the non-organic for myself. But, I could see how the organic version could easily be someone’s preference.
Either way, you’re looking at a remarkably good cup of tea.
My first tea from Teavivre, a wonderful sample sent to me by Azzrian.
Let me say that off the bat, I’m very impressed with the quality of this tea. Opening up the sample, you get a good scent of the tea leaves themselves that is quite inviting. I opened it up to smell it, and then Missy had to go brew it up for us. She says it was so it didn’t go stale, but honestly I don’t think she could resist the aroma.
She tried something a teensy bit different with this tea, in that she brewed a first steeping in a 16 oz tumbler, and then a second steeping, and poured them into our larger pot. So consider this a review of steeping 1.5 ;)
The flavor packed into this tea is good and thick, almost mealy. I’ve thought of other teas as malty, but this truly and thoroughly blows all other maltiness, ever, away. It’s a very tasty, thick, sweet malt flavor that reminds me of a dark stout beer. Underneath that, there’s a honey-like flavor that comes out and is quite enjoyable. At the end, there’s a bit of a grainy flavor that comes out.
Its a very smooth tea, but it has a very thick mouth-feel to it. Again, I find myself likening this to the tea version of a good, dark, stout beer. It has that depth of malt flavor, and this thickness that almost makes your mouth want to chew by instinct alone. That “are we sure this is a liquid?” sense.
I think what’s interesting to me about this tea is that it’s very, very flavorful, but it doesn’t have that… aggressiveness I’m used to in black teas. It almost feels like a night time black tea, if that makes any sense whatsoever.
Definitely puts the bug in my ear to go try some more Teavivre teas, especially now that they’ve added samples to roughly all of their teas, from what I’m seeing.
This is my first white tea so I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t read the instructions so my first cup had about 2 cups of water and one tsp of tea. The tea was a pretty, pale yellow with a light, slightly vegetal flavor and woodsy aroma. But I wasn’t sure what I was tasting. It’s definitely relaxing and smooth. I added a little stevia, which brought out the floral undertones in the taste. Now, according to the instructions I looked at here, I didn’t have enough leaves, so I made another mug, this time stronger.
This time I can really taste the “greenness”, and as the tea cooled, there was more of a floral undertone to the aroma. I liked the tea stronger but you know what? I like it better weaker.
I very much like this tea – it’s creamy, smooth and silky. There is a strong vegetal taste, mixed with mineral and nutty notes. I’m reminded a bit of apple skins and very diluted milk. The floral component hides in the back of the sip and peeks out towards the end. This is a very tasty oolong! Thank you to Teavivre for a sample! I will be adding more of this to my next order.
Backlog of a packet of the Spring 2014 version – so incredibly delicious. I drank this one up shortly after receiving it, and the flavour and aroma were unbelievable. I definitely understand why green teas are considered best when they are ultra fresh, because their potency clearly diminishes after a while (it’s a bonus that Teavivre sent the samples in individual packets, because that helps maintain a lot of the freshness). Anyways, delicious. Once the tea cupboard situation is under control (if?), I will probably treat myself to a small batch of fresh spring greens every year, including dragonwell and maybe a random other one.
Drinking some of the Spring 2014 version of this tea… and it’s glorious. It was even more glorious when I drank it when it was fresher, but it’s still quite good. Sweet, vegetal, rock sugary, beany goodness. A perfect dragonwell, and you can get multiple infusions from it too, which is great! I drank three total over the weekend (and am currently using the second half of the packet for a new set of infusions!)
Previous comments about this tea stand – although fresher is definitely better!
Thanks so much to Teavivre for this delicious sample!