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Recent Tasting Notes
This morning it is warmer outside than it has been in forever (a whopping 20 F!), so why can’t I get warm? So what do I do? I reach in the fridge and grab a cold brew. No not that kind, the tea kind. I poured it into my Tupperware glass because I’m a bearded redneck. It turned out well. I don’t notice a lot of difference other than it is cold. My personal sweet spot is just above room temperature with most teas. This is no exception. Call me crazy.
While I’m waiting for this to warm up a little – I mentioned playing guitar with a group of friends who put on a concert at our church Sunday. They put up a video on Youtube of a song they wrote the week of the concert. The audio and a few clips are from our church. I am not playing with them :( but it is an awesome slide blues song. Thought you might enjoy it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgjpRETiIv8&feature=youtu.be
Digging through my tea drawers (plural – sad in a super happy sort of way) and what’s this!? How can I possibly still have some of this beauty? Oh WOW! It looks like I still have enough for two sessions of many cups of glorious grapey jasmine awesomeness! I love happy surprises – especially when I give them to myself all unexpected like. OK, really Teavivre made this moment happen. I know that but right now I’m not telling me. My day is complete. Party on Garth. Party on Wayne.
These pearls have been sitting quietly in the bottom of my press since the wee hours of the morning. Waiting. I, on the other hand, have continued my 2 month long battle with Healthcare.gov. I scrapped my application and started over today as I could never get past the system errors in the old one. Multiple chat conversations with them over the weekend where they finally admitted it was a glitch. They knew about it but don’t know when it will be fixed. So now I finally get to see what is offered. Only two companies in my county. One of them doesn’t even have contracts with the local hospitals or doctors, so it is pointless. The other is better but more expensive. Hardly what any one but an insurance salesperson or a politician would call affordable. Plus I still can’t tell if I have to pay the mega deductible before the doctor visits or prescriptions are covered except for copay. So after the break I get to try again to speak with someone at the insurance office. Moral of the story – if you live in America and have a job with insurance, no matter how crappy, suck it up and hang on to it.
Oh the tea was really nice. I have come to the conclusion I prefer the bolder premium version a little more but just a little.
Teavivre’s Jasmine makes me think grapes. The is the most amazing scented tea. I could just sniff this all day. The pearls are a little smaller than the premium. The brew is nearly clear. To me the difference between this and premium is this leaf has a mildly woodsy taste. I had 4 cups from one scoop. A trully beautiful tea.
Special thanks to TeaEqualsBliss for sharing this nice white in her very bountiful envelope!
First, I must say that my tasting note on this tea may seem a little different than others that have posted. It may be because I chose to add a little extra leaf in the pot, nonetheless the result is very tasty!
The aroma of the dry leaves are sweet and enticing. There is a certain floral undertone to the wet leaves, similar to blossoming honey suckle. Even though there is sweetness at its base, there is certainly much more. I found the liquid when first poured, to have a distinct aquatic flavor. Only one word that I know how to specify exactly – seaweed! I tried several smaller cups (87ml) to confirm this detection. Yes indeed!
As the cup cools, the grassy pelagic notes soften to a smoother, thicker malty sip. With the body of the tea, there is a certain coppery cocoa-like flavor. One last thing, you also find a touch of astringency towards the end, but your palate is left with a clean, ginger-like taste that lingers nicely.
Very nice cup of tea!
Free sample from Teavivre
I love dragon pearls. The little balls of tea waiting to unfurl in my pot have an aesthetic appeal all of their own. So, when Teavivre sent me this sample I was naturally very pleased. These ones are tight little balls of dark olive with silver tips, a beatiful contrast. They smell strongly of jasmine when I open the packet, a flowery, heady aroma that makes me feel good before I have even drunk the tea.
Steeping the tea for the first time results in an almost colourless soup with a delicate jasmine aroma. The taste is sweet and jasmine-y (well it is a jasmine tea after all!). The jasmine is not overpowering and the tea is lovely, leaving me feeling good and relaxed as I finish the cup. And then, crikey, the tea really hits with a wave of well-being and relaxation that is awesome. Brilliant!
On a second steeping the tea is just as good. The liquor is slightly darker and the leaves have unfurled completely in the pot, but the taste and effect are much the same. Now, if you will excuse me I am going to just sit here and feel suffused with well-being, relaxation and jasmine tea.
Finished this off as my morning cup. Now I’m off for our weekly breakfast out with friends. I hope this is loaded with caffeine (but I don’t think so) as I only had three hours sleep. The house is too warm for me and every one else says they’re freezing. Strangely, a good cup of hot tea doesn’t add to my body heat and it does make me happy.
My oldest son came over this morning to help prepare for our thanksgiving dinner tonight. My youngest is at work. The oldest has to work thanksgiving day – stupid black Thursday. Next year it will probably start at Halloween. But I digress. I offered to make tea. My wife wanted Vanilla Bean decaf black tea. My son didn’t care, so I made this one for him and me.
He asked what it was. I read the label as he took a sip. He said, “That will do” as he turned and headed out of the room.
I inwardly sighed. Then it happened.
He stopped in his tracks and went, “Mmmmm, that really has a nice aftertaste. It’s flowery or something.”
Yes! Good tea not wasted!
Second story – a year ago our thanksgiving was stressful. I was losing my job and we were afraid we could lose the house. A year later the house is paid off, we are doing fine, and it looks like I have a part time job! Just enough hours to pay for insurance. That is all I really wanted anyway.
My point, if you are struggling this year and on the verge of giving up – hold on! Tomorrow is another day. A blessed day of thanksgiving to all my Steepster friends.
Sip down. I had more than I really needed for steeping one mug at a time but not enough for two. I always feel a little uncomfortable using more than necessary. Even though I did not pay for this (thank you TeaVivre) I feel like I am being wasteful. I use what I need and steep until the leaves have given their all. Oh well, in the press it goes. I have not, so far at least, been a big fan of Assams. Ceylon black tea is ok. Chinese black tea I have loved almost every one I’ve tried. Those I haven’t loved I liked a lot. This one I could drink every day. It is really a fine tea. Malty, sweet, fruity. Just plain good.
I wanted something I hadn’t sipped in a while. This one jumped out of the drawer shouting drink me, drink me! Took a scoop and the fragrance of the dry leaf in the press is so good. Cocoa, grain, malt, honey! The sip is smooth. If you avoid Keemun because you think it will be smoky, think again. This just a delicious delight. All the scents are in the taste along with a bit of fruitiness. TeaVivre consistently delivers quality teas and this is an exquisite example. Very high on the yummo scale.
The sip is first malt, then wheat, followed by honey. There are flashes of light cocoa notes. It is a bit fruity. Many report sweet potato notes. I get that, but it was not as strong as some other black Chinese teas I’ve tried. This kind of reminds me of Bailin Gongfu.
This is very, very smooth. You could slam this down with out thinking about it. I choose to sip slowly. There is no bitterness and no bite. You could probably brew this strong and work the tannins into a frenzy but prepared per the instructions this seems light on the stomach. What I am not noticing is smoke. I was fully expecting some but it is not present.
Cup two, continues where cup one left off. It is now a little sweeter and that sweetness really lingers in the aftertaste. Cup three is very similar.
This is a very nice tea. The only negative comment I could offer is that oddly, I find myself missing the smoke that frightened me a year ago. That is not the fault of the tea. Rather it is my understanding of what makes a Keemun that is to blame. If you don’t enjoy a smoky tea, then this is the Keemun for you. If you like a light smoky tea try the Premium Keemun Hao Ya Black Tea.
This is so sweet! Like brown rock sugar! I love the floral aroma. It’s also got the something that reminds me of autumn. I find that this is common in dark oolongs. If you close your eyes to inhale the aroma and then sip, it’s really like being outdoors in the woods when the leaves have mostly fallen to the ground. I’d even say it’s out in the woods during late morning after the dew has dried but before it gets too hot. It’s one of the warm autumn days with chilly mornings and evenings. One of those beautiful clear days where you don’t know if you need a jacket or not. Mmm…makes me long for fall…which is almost here! I know this because even though I have a giant pot of Oriental Beauty in the fridge, I woke up craving hot tea, which is why I brewed this. It was so chilly this morning, my puppies were sticking their cold noses into my armpits and backs of my knees. They’re lucky their cute.
Back to the tea! Where was I? Sweet, autumnal, floral and woodsy (but not woody. Wood is a funny word when you think about it.) Very tasty and warming. The second steep is proving to be as delicious as the first. The first steep was sweeter and more floral, but this second one has a more prominent roasty woodsy taste. I really think I’m starting to enjoy darker oolongs. At least when they are smooth and tasty like this one. :)
I really love hot tea on chilly days. soon…
On an unrelated note, I’ve been playing Magicka with my sister. Are any of you familiar with this game? It’s sort of really hilarious. Especially when it’s me and my sister playing because we have this terrible tendency to accidentally kill each other because we thought we hit the “heal” button when we actually hit the “Fire” button. We both learned the revive spell pretty quick. :)
Tea provided by Teavivre for review
This is my second time brewing this. Previously I used short steeps in a gaiwan, today I’m using a glass mug (about 400ml). I know everyone is not interested in short steeps, but I enjoy comparing a tea using both methods. For people that have read some of my previous tasting notes, you’ll notice that I typically short steep all of my black teas. Usually I prefer the flavour of that method, but I also enjoy the additional tea ritual steps. ;)
On the taste of today’s brewing results:
My two steeps came out pretty mild, which depending on your Keemun preference is good or bad (good for me). With the familiar flavours of its type coming up very subtly. I really enjoyed how the floral flavours were mild, while the spices were a bit stronger.
Overall I liked this Keemun tea because the flavour wasn’t bold and in my face. That being said, I am still not a big fan of this type of tea. If you like Keemun, but want more subtle flavours this is a nice tea to try. But if you prefer a bolder cup, Teavivre’s other Keemun teas fulfill that role better.
400ml-ish glass mug, 4-5g, 2 steeps (3m, 6m)
Tea provided by Teavivre for review
The first through sixth steeps were actually pretty consistent in flavour. Sometimes Keemun black tea is a bit harsh or almost bitter, but this one was very nice and mellow. Just the right mixture of usual Keemun characteristics, earthy, malty, and hints of spices.
Overall this is one of the better Keemun black teas I’ve tried (which isn’t a whole lot, maybe about 6-7 now). Throughout the six steeps, it never became bitter or too strong. That being said, I’m not a big fan of this type of black tea but it still managed to exceed my expectations. I’ll have to try this western style sometime with the rest of my samples.
100ml gaiwan, 2 tsp (4g-ish), rinse and 6 short steeps (from their website: 15s, 30s, 45s, 1m10s, 1m40s, 2m10s)
This is another one I’ve had my eye on for a few months. I was thrilled when it was offered to me by Angel at Teavivre. I’ve previously tried their Keemun Hao Ya, and I loved it. While it was smoky, this doesn’t smell smoky at all.
The dry leaves are particularly dark, almost black, and extremely thin and long. Like brittle spider legs as I measure them above my slightly cooled water. They smell very strong, pungent even. Once brewed, the tea smells like honey and wood with a hint of something that kinda makes me think of pumpkin.
The taste is intriguing and delicious. This is a rather strong black tea as far as Teavivre’s lineup has been so far. It makes me think of a malty puerh. I’m going to give it maybe three minutes and thirty seconds next, in hopes of making it even stronger. Must experiment. But for now, I think I liked the Hao Ya better.
Thank you to Teavivre for this sample!
Sniffing the brewing leaves was actually kind of exciting! It smelled like delicious, simmering garden greens. I brewed it according to their directions of 194 degrees for 1 minute.
The taste is as good as I was hoping. Juicy, mouthwatering, savory, brothy, salty. I really think green teas like this could make a really good soup base. Onto the shopping list it goes!
I do love black pearls … OMG. It’s been a while since I’ve had some, and it’s kind of like meeting up with an old friend that I’ve not seen in a while. Lovely!
I brewed this in my gaiwan just so that I could watch the pearls unfurl … and I don’t know if it’s the brewing method or that these pearls are just awesome but, these taste even better than I remember (I’ve tasted the black pearls from thepuriTea and these are just as good if not better, red blossom tea company – these are just as good if not better and also the black pearls from teavana, and these are better than I remember those tasting)
Rich, malty, and very deliciously chocolatey! So very yum! I do love these pearls. Love LOVE love them!!!
Tea provided by Teavivre for review
After trying this with short steeps, I brewed it in a teapot today. The result was a bit different, and better in some ways. I noticed a lot less strong charcoal flavour, and more of a smooth and sweet liquour.
Overall I prefer the flavour of short steeping this, but it’s still nice from a teapot. If you drink a lot of tie guan yin western style, drinking this da hong pao might be a nice change of pace. It’s a very different experience, but still a good cup of oolong.
I’ve never really been charmed by da hong pao before, but I can see why people like it. With my limited experience tasting this type of tea, I cannot vouch for it’s quality. That being said, I didn’t find any of the flavours to be off putting.
400ml, 5g, 3 steeps (1m, 2m, 3m)
Tea provided by Teavivre for review
Sniffing inside the tea pouch, I’m picking up on charcoal, some sweet scent and raisins.
First through fourth steeps were pretty good. The flavours suggested by the dry leaf scent were accurate. There was also a hint of chocolate in those steeps.
Continuing on for another two, the fifth and sixth steeps were pretty light but enjoyable.
Overall I liked it, but the liquor seemed to be lacking enough depth. Maybe I’m just being picky. Like I said though, it’s still a very enjoyable tea to drink. I’ll prepare this western style the next time I use more of this sample.
100ml gaiwan, 1 sample pouch (5g?), rinse and 6 steeps (as directed on their website: 25s, 40s,60s, 80s, 1m40s, 2m20s)
Free sample from Teavivre
Opening the packet I am struck by a strong grassy aroma that reminds me of a Dragonwell. Initially the dry leaf looks flat like a Dragonwell too, but then I look more closely and see that it is actually curled on the edges with colours ranging from yellow-ish green to a mid green colour.
Brewing the tea reveals a pale yellowish green liquor with a buttery feel and a grassy/nutty flavour. It is mellow with a sparkly aftertaste, and less pork-chop-in-ya-face than the Dragonwells that I have tried. Yes it is slightly meaty but there is more of the good, light grassiness about it and the aftertaste lingers nicely.
Another good tea from Teavivre and worthy of keeping some in stock for when the mood takes.