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Recent Tasting Notes
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!
I really have to start setting out the morning’s teas prior to going to bed, because it took me waaayyyy too long to pick things this morning, and there are a bunch of “repeats”, i.e. teas I’ve had more than once recently. Anyways, made this one up, apparently didn’t use enough leaf, tried to fix it by steeping MORE leaf in a tiny cup and adding it, used too much water…. anyways, it seemed to develop a bit of extra flavour by the time I finished it off, which was good.
Delicious, delicious tea-for-breakfast yesterday morning. I think this and other dragonwells may become my go-to first thing in the morning teas, because they sit so much better in my stomach than flavoured blacks which sometimes edge towards astringency (Laoshan Black and Premium Taiwanese Assam are good too, but more limited in their supply in my cupboard at the current time). Anyhow, it was great in the travel mug yet again, all rock sugar and chewy vegetal. I deliberately overleafed to give it a stronger flavour, which was quite successful.
So! I am thrilled to have discovered today that this dragon well takes to the travel mug much better than expected! I brewed it up, poured it in, topped it off with some cold water, and drank it about 45 minutes later at my morning meeting, and it was delicious. So, I think that as long as I a) use an uncontaminated mug and b) drink the tea fairly soon after brewing, I can successfully take green teas to work as well. Exciting!
And of course, this tea was tasty as usual, although it’s getting on in age. I still prefer Verdant’s Dragonwell-Style Laoshan Green to most dragonwells, just because the sweet, caramely notes are more pronounced, but this is a pretty tasty example of a proper dragonwell. It was nice to have something a bit out of the ordinary in one of my mugs this morning!
Thank you Teavivre for this huge sample! We wanted a second green tea tonight, and this one fit the bill well. Looking forward to it! I used maybe 2 tsp for my 250ml infuser.
First infusion (1.5min/80C):
Aroma’s a bit sharper and greener than the Gyokuro Yamashiro from DavidsTea. The flavour is smooth, with a sweet-ish aftertaste. Definitely not as green tasting despite my impression of the aroma, and definitely no bitterness. Quite delicious, actually.
Second infusion (2.5min/82C):
Not really getting an aroma(?), but the flavour this time is nuttier, with a “green tea” aftertaste. Still smooth, but almost a bit of… smooth astringency? Smooth bitterness? There’s a stronger flavour there too, but it’s pleasant, not objectionable.
Wish I could describe more clearly what I mean by a green tea or oolong aftertaste. It’s good though.
Again, this is as far as I’ll likely get tonight. Sigh.
ETA: Third infusion, 3min at 82C. Definitely lighter in flavour, but still nutty and a bit vegetal, and oh! There’s the green tea aftertaste. Sure sign that I’ll brew this one to the third infusion again. Yum. Still absolutely no bitterness; a very smooth cup. This tea is really quite good; I’m very impressed by the lack of bitterness/astringency. I’ll need to try more dragonwells before concluding anything, but I can see this one being a purchase.
ETA again: Fourth steep (84C/4min) nothing remarkable. Some astringency. And it tastes a little weird. I attribute that to how long the leaves sat out. My stomach sure gets tested sometimes…
I received a sample of this in my most recent shipment from Teavivre (Thanks, Angel!). I’m excited to try it out since I love a good pu-erh and I really enjoy chrysanthemum herbal infusions.
I was a little concerned at first since there was precisely one chrysanthemum in the tuo. Then I realized that it’s been in that little wrapped up tuo for quite a long time, so I really haven’t got anything to worry about, now have I?
I’m in the office, so I used my “Perfect Tea Maker” or whatever it’s called from Teavana (a very nice gift from my friend, TheDizzyPixie). The infusion is nice and dark and beautiful to me. It has the earthiness of any pu-erh, but a nice sweetness to the aroma that speaks to the chrysanthemum.
The tea itself is a surprisingly mellow, nice pu-erh with a pleasant, lightly sweet after-taste.
I’m very happy with this and imagine I shall be ordering more in future!
I’ve developed a bad habit of taking this with a teaspoon of condensed milk, much to the dismay of my waistline. Usually I drink my teas with nothing mixed in, but this tea is so smooth and well bodied that it begs for the richness of condensed milk. It ends up tasting like a weak Hong Kong milk tea..which is fine by me.
Usually I don’t drink black teas throughout the day because I find them too robust, but this one is very smooth that I like it even in the late afternoon.
Looks: Leaf texture is pretty typical of black teas. They look shredded, and a chocolate brown once brewed. Honestly, this is a tea to brew for the taste, not for looks.
Fragrance: This tea smells awesome. Very rich, caramelized fragrance. When I smell it I can taste it right in the back upper palate, it’s rich with a little astringency.
Taste: Very mild, for a black tea. With the smoothness of a smoky green tea. Full bodied with full aroma, but not so much that it makes you heady. As I said, I like it with the condensed milk because it adds richness, but you shouldn’t try it, or your waistline will cry too.
Brewing note: I cannot get as many multiple steeps out of this one as my other teas, two or three at best. The flavour degrades very quickly. Oversteep will result in extreme astringency.
Looking at the Teavivre site, I’ve realized that I may have steeped many of their teas wrong. Sometimes it calls for 2-4 teaspoons. Usually the sample packages mention the time and temp but not the teaspoons. And back when I got these samples, I only had the dipper infusers that would only hold one teaspoon anyway. So if I have any of the previous samples from Teavivre left, I plan on steeping them properly soon!
This one actually calls for 3-4 teaspoons and I must have only used one back in the day. But from what I remember, the flavor isn’t much different now. It’s weird that some of Teavivre’s black teas are supposed to be steeped at 185 degrees but some of the oolongs are boiled. This one is a Fujian oolong, so I associate this with a charcoal flavor. And this one has that flavor the most, rather than a floral or a vegetal oolong. But I’ve had another Fujian oolong before and it literally was like drinking a cup of charcoal. This one is much more delicate, as most of Teavivre’s teas are. I prefer my fruity, floral and vegetal oolongs to dark oolongs, but this one isn’t so dark so I don’t mind it!
First steep: boiled: 45 seconds Second steep: boiled: 1 min 30
I’ve found that oolong tea has one of the most diverse flavors among any type of tea. My favorite oolong is light and slightly peachy. This one is stronger, with a toasty roasty scent and flavor. It has less of a peachy flavor and more of a floral scent and flavor. It sort of reminds me of a lighter genmaicha. I’ll be drinking this whenever I want a stronger oolong. Another great thing about oolongs is they taste the same with multiple infusions. Check out teavivre.com for generous FREE samples! They are amazing!
Tea of the afternoon……
And my last sample to review from Teavivre from my Steepster tasting activity. I do have a few samples of their new teas in my most recent order, so there will be a few more reviews to come. Again, I am very appreciative of this chance, and it has really changed my views on green tea and pu’erh. I was pretty much only a fan of black teas and the occasional oolong prior to this.
I had to try this one a few times before I could really put it into words. The lighter teas are subtle, and they require just a little more time to test. I agree with others that the first scent of the dry leaves is of fresh hay. The leaves are long, very light sage green and covered with a downy fuzz. The brew is a pale yellow. The flavor gives light hints of hay, melon, and cucumber (I agree on this one KS!). I brewed it a second time, and it almost seemed a little bit more intense than the first steep. I did steep a little longer, and I guess the leaves were primed and ready to give up their true flavors. While I am not usually a drinker of white tea, I did like this one enough to order some! Even though it is on the pricey side, the resteepability makes this one within a range I am comfortable spending on a quality tea.
Mug method, 175 water, 2 perfect tsp tea (the entire sample bag), 2 minutes first steep, 3 minutes second steep. No additions.
Tea of the afternoon…..
I this is the last Teavivre sample I have to taste, but I have one more than this to review. Then I will probably be going through my samples to put an order together. In general, I am thoroughly impressed with the tea I have received from this company. Thank you so much to TeaVivre for the opportunity to try the samples. I know I sound like a broken record, but I greatly appreciate their approach to tea, as well as the quality I can purchase for the price.
Onto the tea. This one is very good. The leaves are green like you would expect with a green oolong. The brew is light yellow with only a hint of green. The vegetal notes are light. There is definitely a hint of butter and a creamy, heavy mouthfeel. Yum. I really like this one. I think I need some soon, but I need to go back to my Tie Guan Yin for a cup just to see how it compares.
Mug method, 2 minutes, 175 degree water. No additions.
A fantastic oolong provided to me as a sample from Teavivre.
The leaves as well has the tea carry a distinct and powerful floral aroma which is very pleasing and relaxing.
The taste is primarily floral with hints of a vegetal-ness, and the tea carries a smooth honey-like mouthfeel. One of the most noticeable aspects of this tea however is how long the flavor lingers on the palate.
I look forward to how this tea may change for the second brewing!
Detailed Review on http://sororiteasisters.com/ coming on the 18th but here are my snippits:
I think, but please don’t hold me to any decisions on this, if I could only have one black unadulterated (unflavored / flavored by nature only) tea for the rest of my life, this would be the one. Granted I would never, ever, want that to happen!
Bailin Gongfu Black Tea from Teavivre is one of my black tea staples. I always have plenty of this on hand. Sure I enjoy other black teas, and have plenty of them for variety, but this black tea, this is my “go to” tea in the morning. It is always spot on for the flavors I crave to wake up to.
Bailin Gongfu Black Tea from Teavivre has every element in a black tea that I would want. Malty notes, hints of a cocoa flavor, caramel notes, depth, and complexity, robust, and strong without any bitterness or astringency.
It is coming time soon to order more of this perma stash tea.
Always my go to tea in the morning when I don’t feel like trying something new.
Its perfection. Dependable. Delicious.
I can feel some sickness coming on … once I am fully awake I am going to switch to some green tea to combat whatever is trying to take over me.