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Recent Tasting Notes
I was excited to try this new tea from Teavivre. Teavivre’s products are consistently great in taste and value. The little unbrewed leaf balls, which I assume are hand-rolled, are also a fun concept.
I followed the recommendations on the package and brewed it for two minutes. There was no suggested tea amount listed so I filled my official tea spoon as I normally do with loose leaf. This came out to about four balls per eight-ounce cup. When the steeping process had completed, a brew with a rich amber color appeared.
At first sip, I could detect a little sweetness and the familiar woodsy taste that accompanies most of Teavivre’s black teas. In the beginning I was a little disappointed with the flavor power. However, the taste seemed to amplify and become more pronounced with each sip. By my sixth swig, I was really enjoying the blend and thinking that is what I’ve come to love and expect from Teavivre.
I can’t say that I noticed a chocolate taste as some reviewers noted. To me, the sweetness was more like honey. Of course, you can’t go wrong with either flavor.
This tea is a great new addition to the Teavivre collection. It most likely will be on my order list the next time my Teavivre supply diminishes…soon!
(This sample was generously provide to me by Teavivre. Thank you so much Team Teavivre.)
Dry Leaf: Smokey and vegetal.
Wet Leaf: Has a warm vegetal aroma with a very slight smokey aroma
Liquor: Is a yellowish green color.
Taste: Has a smokey flavor with a vegetal taste and there is a slight bitterness that lingers in the back of your mouth in a pleasant way.
Overall Opinion: I give this tea a 88. I think this tea has a rich flavor and quite unique from other green teas. Also, I think if you are eating a flavorful food dish this would be a great tea to go with it.
Second tea of the morning….. (SRP #40)
We finally have weather cool enough that I am craving oolong. I still don’t know how all of that works for me, but I seem to be craving green and oolong tea less with the warmer weather. I guess it is that I crave iced tea, and for me that is usually a black tea. I blame my midwestern upbringing on that one. At least I have moved beyond Lipton Instant…or Lipton sun tea. Maybe there is still hope in that I can move beyond the black teas for iced….. After all, this is a journey, and my tastes have all ready changed a little.
My sample was purchased. The leaves are tight bright green pellets. The scent of the dry tea is of cream and butter. I am pretty sure I am going to like this one better than the unflavored. The liquor is a golden yellow, and really a little deeper than I expected. The leaves brew up absolutely huge. The scent of the brewed tea is of cream and butter, again, with a hint of something very lightly floral. I definitely like this better than the unflavored version. If I am ever in the market for a milk oolong again, this will be the one I purchase. It is still not quite as good as the Milk Oolong from American Tearoom, but then I am not willing to get a second mortgage on my house to buy tea (meaning it is way too expensive a tea that is not in my absolute favorite type.) This one is very good and a great value at around $11 for 100g. For comparison, the other is $60 for the same weight and it has a Tie Kwan Yin base.
Usual mug method for 2 minutes, no additions. I followed the brewing parameters on the label.
The first thought I had when I smelled this tea was there was a light sweet aroma. It reminded me of creamed corn to a degree. The flavor is light and sweet with still some of that corn sweetness. I am going to have to try this one again to see if the flavors are present in the next batch.
I have never tried this type of tea before so thanks to Teavivre for their generous free sample to review.
The dry leaves (pearls) are huge! While a Jasmine pearl is typically the size of a BB, these pearls are the size of a marble. They do have a sweet aroma of chocolate. I am glad I drink my tea in clear glass cups, because it was so nice to watch the balls unfurl to do their magic.
The pearls unfurled into chocolate brown leaves with a few mahogany brown leaves. The brewed leaf was kind of grainy in aroma-with a slight resemblance to the aroma of a brewed Autumn Harvest Laoshan Black. The liquor leans toward a reddish-orangish brown.
The flavor reminded me a lot of a Keemun-so smooth and chocolately. However, it does not have the smoky notes you often find in a Keemun. It’s very sweet. There is a grainy type note in the background-again similar to Autumnal Laoshan Black-but it’s very minor. I enjoyed this tea very much and look forward to drinking more of it.
1st steep I brewed with 5 pearls, boiling water, 2 minutes.
2nd steep I added a 6th pearl and brewed at 208 for 3 minutes
Have not been feeling well all day – for the last couple of days actually. Spent the day sipping 52 Teas Pot O’ Gold and now ending my evening with a lovely white.
So many excellent tasting notes thus far. I get the floral, the hay, peppery, the summer lawn, and even the frost as others have mentioned. This is an awakening of tea, a chameleon. I don’t even want to bother writing more about it – this is a tea to be silent with and enjoy – and since we have a wonderful storm now I will sit back and relax and know that this tea is going to make me feel much better!
Seriously, who could resist trying a tea with this clever name? My latest round of samples arrived yesterday. (Yeah!) I did not intend to break into them this soon, but they were there. Well you know how it is. Actually this one was not completely sealed. I might not have noticed but there were monkey droppings in the bottom of the big pouch ;) Being sealed in the larger pouch, the tea is still fresh and no harm done. Since it is open let’s have at it.
The nuggets look like normal tiguanyin. I forgot to sniff the dry leaf. Steeped in my press for 3 minutes with boiling water. The brew is a green tinted amber. It is extremely clear yet dense. That probably makes no sense but I stared through the press at it for a few seconds as I found its beauty fascinating. This is my first monkey picked oolong. The rich roasted aroma coming off the brew caught me by surprise. I try not to read other reviews or company flavor profiles before tasting. You can also catch the oolong in the scent. The leaf did not fully open on the first steep.
The sip is like a wave crashing over the tongue. It begins as a hearty roasted blast breaking on the taste buds. Next, splashing up is a moment of intense milkiness. Then as the flavor begins to recede, the tiguanyin is revealed. The aftertaste is somewhere between tgy and watermelon rind.
Second cup I went 1 minute. I got interrupted and the cup sat after I poured for several minutes. This cup is very different from the first. The roasted notes are much more subdued. This tastes like a mild genmaicha has been brewed with the tgy. There is also another note, not exactly earthy, but not really woodsy in mid sip. Looking over the other notes at this time, I guess this is what others are calling nutty.
Third cup back at 3 minutes. Pretty much this is now a straight mild tiguanin. Sweet. It has a nice lingering fruity aftertaste.
Thank you TeaVivre for the sample. This is another winner.
My first tea and work combined adventure! Armed with a DAVIDs drawstring tea bag (one of my favourite inventions ever), a travel mug that my mentor bought me on the first day of my internship (she’s the best), a Ziploc bag, my crappy office tea kettle, and half a sample package of this tea, I embarked on an all day oolong adventure.
First steep (7:30 am)- This was my caffeine hit for the morning, so my tastebuds were less attuned to the taste as my brain was slowly being shaken awake by the mild caffeine hit. I steeped it for appox. 3 minutes, and I can’t give a more accurate estimate as I was crazily running around trying to get all of my stuff ready. This tea was much lighter than I had been expecting, for some reason I was expecting a darker colour (maybe because the leaves are fairly dark). Anyway the taste was strongly earthy and vegetal, but overall very smooth and pleasant.
Second steep (8:30 am)- This was my “I made it to work but am not mentally prepared to start yet” cup. The second steep was much stronger than the first, and had a surprisingly different flavour. It was very floral and very sweet, almost creamy. By the end of the second steep the leave (which dry were only a quarter of the bag) had unfurled to take up the whole bag. This steep was my favourite, absolutely delicious and so very sweet without any sugar!
Third steep (11:30 am)- Early lunch today, all alone in the lunch room with only my oolong for company. There were less floral notes and sweetness in this cup, the earthy flavour has re-emerged as the dominant flavour. I am assuming this is what oolong is supposed to taste like (and I do quite like it), but since I have only ever had one other, heavily flavoured oolong (happy kombucha) I can’t really compare pure oolongs…
Fourth steep (4 pm)- My afternoon got busy and left me unable to steep more until my hunger pangs distracted me at 4 pm. Despite making a cup of tea, I still caved to the office vending machine’s call and bought a Mars Bar. Anyway, the fourth steep was very similar in flavour to the 3rd, smooth, rich and earthy. I haven’t noticed any decline in flavour at all. The tea appears to be getting darker, but I also left this one to steep for quite a bit longer because I forgot about it (oops).
I probably could have gone on for more steeps but alas my work day was done and I accidentally chucked out the tea bag as I was cleaning my desk for the evening. Thanks again to Angel at teavivre for these very generous samples. I only used half of one for a whole day of enjoyment, and am so excited that at least 5 days of enjoyment are still to come!
I enjoyed the last of this free sample yesterday and when I say enjoyed, I mean enjoyed.
Hot or iced, this is a fantastic shou.
If you have not tried iced shou, I highly recommend it. Steep it hot, and a bit stronger than you might, and then pour it over ice.
An unexpected sweetness comes out.
Another tea from sample round #3
The dry leaf smells like a shoe store verging on a sneaker shop. Sneakers have that odd smell akin to “new car smell” but particular to themselves. This isn’t a bad smell for an aged tea. It is close enough to the leathery aromas of a shoe shop that it makes the tea quite inviting.
Because this is loose leaf, not a tuocha, the first steeping happens very, very fast. My cup is almost as dark as my daily drinker “wang pu er” from Upton.
But the flavor profile is quite different. Some of the sweetness of the golden buds remains behind all this musty shoe leather. There is a short finish with solid astringency, almost like an Assam. I’ve never had that in a shou pu er before.
If you like quick and easy shou tea, but lament the way in which they all seem to eventually taste the same, give this one a try, it has some genuinely unique notes.
Free sample provided by Teavivre for review
Among the boxes of tea that rained on my house yesterday was my free sample box generously provided by TeaVivre Such a nice surprise.
I placed my first order with Teavivre in such haste that I missed out on a lot of teas that I wanted to try, so I am grateful for the free samples. As has been mentioned, each sample is in a small mylar foil type pack and all 5 fit back into one resealable foil/mylar pouch. Very nice. Teavivre has great customer service and follows up with an email to make sure that everything was okay with the package.
First up is their Lapsang. One of the misconceptions I think people have about Lapsang is that it is a strong, slap you around tea like a robust Irish Breakfast or East Frisian blend. Or maybe they think it will be spicy hot like chili peppers.
However, Lapsangs are neither of those. Good Lapsang, like this one from Teavivre, are actually rather gentle and smooth, often with some sweetness.
The dry leaves on this tea are beautiful tightly rolled strips of chocolate brown with some golden brown tips mixed in. As you would expect, their aroma is smoky and piney. Not overwhelming, but a little more subtle. Very pleasant. The brewed leaf develops a bit of a peat moss aroma-milder than some other Lapsangs. The liquor looked to be a deep amber color.
The taste is as advertised-smoky and pleasant and slightly sweet in the finish. Very tasty. If you like Lapsang, you should enjoy this tea. If you are curious about Lapsang, it’s a good tea to start with.
I’ve managed two steeps so far, and will be going for a third shortly.
This sample was provided by Teavivre – thank you!
I wasn’t sure how many pearls to use, I have a mug that’s about 10 oz. and I used 4 pearls but it sounds like other people may have used more. The aroma of the wet leaf is fresh and malty with a touch of sweet tobacco.
The predominate notes I am picking up here are of malt, but it is definitely a lighter and sweeter sort of malt than one would find in an assam, for instance. The tea liquor is a clear reddish-brown. There are also subtle notes of chocolate present and I’m picking up on a bit of fruitiness. I maybe crazy but I am getting plantains… ha.
The tea does not have much astringency and is fairly sweet and pleasant. To me it’s a bit reminiscent of a golden monkey.
I did get a very respectable second steep out of this with a slightly longer steeping time (4-5 minutes).
Tea Vivre free samples round #3, tasting #2
Sadly, Liz did not get to review this tea before leaving for Tokyo, but she did get to taste it and I know she really enjoyed it.
This is a very good, and unique black tea. Cocoa and malt and roasted fruit. A bit like a Yunnan golden, but not at all sweet. There’s a crisp, dry finish and no lingering astringency.
The only really strong critique I could offer is that the mouth feel is thin. Not the flavor, but the texture.
Another tea in sample set #3
The flavor profile here is more like a da hong pao than black tea, which is interesting. I’m into my third steep of 5 pearls in my 4oz gaiwan and the leaves are finally fully open. This tea has excellent texture, mouth feel and finish, but so far the flavor is a bit soft. I’m curious if I’m not using enough leaf or if perhaps this tea simply prefers Western style steeps.
I will use the remainder of the sample to do a Western style and compare results.
Round 3 of Tea Vivre samples begin!
First, I want to acknowledge that many people were concerned about the double packaging of samples in the past and they have listened. This set arrived in individual packages which were grouped together into a single outer sealed pouch. Much less packaging but still a dedication to freshness. So thank you for that!
This is a much bolder LS than I usually drink (Upton’s Black Dragon). And since I have defended the black dragon’s refined notes in contrast to most LS, one might assume that I would therefore be less interested in this leaf.
But as it turns out, this leaf has a lot going for it. There is no sharpness here, in spite of the bold flavors. There is also no “meatiness” which is my primary opposition to most LS with bold smoke.
While I don’t think this would replace black dragon as my “daily drinker” I do think it may be replace black dragon in my “jim john’s blend” trio of teas.
The last of my samples just arrived today from Teavivre – thank you again!
I know it seems like I was the only person on Steepster who was bothered by this, but I’m glad my samples all came in one large envelope this time instead of the little prepackaged samples each in giant envelopes. Yes I am fussy, what can I say. Go Mother Earth! heh…
I was glad to see this tea came from the Wuyi mountains and it has the characteristic smoky aroma that i have just come to love… yay! I did end up steeping this at a slightly hotter temp than what is suggested on the bag, they suggest 194F. The cup is a clear reddish/brown and was steeped via regular infuser mug method.
This is really nice! The smokiness is present but is definitely not overwhelming to me. The tea has a lovely, lingering sweetness in the finish which I really appreciate. If you don’t want to be overwhelmed by tons of smoke this would be a really nice one to try. I also feel like this has a slightly fruity element, a bit of peach albeit a pine smoked peach… yum. A bit of honey also and perhaps some cocoa? I would definitely purchase this one and may need to, soon!
If you’re not a fan of smoky teas, I doubt this will make you a convert, but I’m enjoying my afternoon cup very much. Compared to the Harney and Sons L.S. tea this is downright dainty.
I also got a respectable 2nd steep out of this, which is not as smoky but still good.
Thanks Teavivre for the cool samples. :)
Lots and LOTS of thanks to Angel at Teavivre!
I have a one word (okay, two) overall description of this tea: Blood. Orange.
Fortunately for me, I love blood orange. Love it. :-)
Smell: This tea has a pleasant mix of fruits, and I could smell the sweet apple, kind of tart currants, and the orange. The hibiscus (roselle) was in it again, and again I was pleased rather than disappointed. Steeping I could really smell the orange. That made me happy. :-)
Taste: Blood orange, definitely, and it’s reminding me how much I love that taste. It’s tart, but not overly tart, and has a nice citrus twang to it. The apple provides a mellow sweetness, and the hibiscus adds to the tart but doesn’t overpower. And again, there is orange and when you tell me I am going to be tasting orange I expect it to be there, so this tea REALLY delivers for me.
I don’t have anymore to add, really, except that I put a spoonful or so of some sugar in, to add to the sweetness, and I think this tea, just like the Blueberry Fruit tea, will be great cold as well. :-) A perfect summertime tea!
Update: I just wanted to confirm that this tastes amazing cold.
Thanks to Teavivre for the samples I received in the mail today! I’m very excited to start my tea journey moving away from Teavana products!
I just steeped my first cup of Bailin Gongfu.. and here goes the first sip.. please hold..
First sip, I noticed its smooth bold and sweet flavorful taste. Second sip.. lead to a third, so I’m sure to say ITS YUMMY!
Bottom line- if you like black tea and you’re willing to wait up to 2 weeks to get it in from china DO IT!
This was included in an amazing free sampler package from Teavivre. Check them out! So it is a little foil package that contains enough tea for a few infusers full. (Well i see other reviewers here using an entire package, but my infuser isn’t that big!) Then there is another plastic piece holding the tea, as this is sticky with honey. It’s a bit diffiult to get the tea into the infuser, but I find clamping the infuser onto a bit of the bag and sliding the bag out works well! SInce this is an oolong, I can get multiple steeps out of this:
The sent of the dry leaves aren’t overly honey-like but they are sweet. The steep color is a nice yellow. Oolongs have the most diverse flavor, ranging from a mild, floral, peachy to a stronger flavor. I think this one is in the mid-range of flavor strength. It has a nice floral sweet flavor. but isn’t a mild one. Again, the honey isn’t too present. The lack of honey is kind of disappointing, as it was one of the reasons I wanted to try it. If you try it not expecting much out of the honey, it is still an amazingly delicious oolong. The directions say 212 degrees, but I like gettiing the temp a little lower, especially on the first steep (so that the flavor can be stronger the second steep!)
Second steep: I may have kept the infuser in a little too long this time, but it’s still good. This steep it seems more floral and less sweet. The flavor is more pronounced.
I almost want to go back and start giving my oolong teas a flavor strength rating… where a one would be light and floral and peachy and a 10 would be a bolder flavor… maybe I’m the only one who will know what I’m talking about?? But really, it all depends on the temp and the steep time. Even the same leaves will result in entirely different cup.