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Recent Tasting Notes
This is a black tea that will appeal to the mild child in most of us. It’s more savory than sweet, with a strong topnote of chocolate, some spice, hints of wine as it lingers on the palate. Nothing overpowering in any direction, simply a smooth cup of black tea.
That may be why it’s called gong fu – a nod to it being one of the oldest black teas produced in its region. At some point you learn to do it right, n’est-ce pas?
What’s interesting to me as well is reading TeaVivre’s description of the caffeine content. It’s lower in comparison to a cup of coffee, so it might be a good nightime tea, but that’s also a relative statement. If you’re preparing it “gong-fu” style, that might be a moot point as well.
A really intriguing tea that I would venture to call a possible gateway tea for the hot chocolate drinker in your life who’s looking for something new to try.
Pics and further thoughts in my full review on my blog : http://bit.ly/t131TI
Same tea, new note. I added the rest of the sample. This is the last of one of the first teas I received from Teavivre. So sip down!
This is still so fresh and clean. Along with the melon and cucumber notes, it made me think pea pods today. Silver Needle is such a beautiful delicate tea.
This morning we played all hymns – probably haven’t done that in a decade. Started out slow and quiet. The last two we do as rockers, so I turned the volume up a just little (honest – maybe 1/8 turn). The sound guy and the drummer saw this as the moment they had been waiting for. Things got pretty loud after that (he he).
Yesterday I had one of, if not the darkest, cheapest, loose leaf in my collection. This morning (6:00 AM) in celebration, I chose the lightest, possibly most expensive tea I have and it is a beautiful thing. When I take the time to notice sipping tea is a deeply spiritual thing. It connects me with the universe. This morning in honor of the One who created the universe, I rejoice in this cup. To those of you who are followers of the way – He is risen! Rejoice I say again rejoice! Happy Easter All! I’m off to play some loud guitar. Woo Hoo!
I sometimes read where reviewers don’t like white tea because, to them, it is too subtle. I can’t relate. I find Silver Needle to have an amazingly full flavor, and while it is not as in your face as an Assam it does pack a healthy buzz – despite popular opinion to the contrary. One of my oldest samples, it still smells as fresh as the day Teavivre sent it to me. As soon as the water hit the leaf, the room smelled of fresh cut hay. The sip is sweet hay and cucumber followed by a lingering melon aftertaste. This is exactly what I wanted this morning! I will continue on with this most of the day. An excellent white.
I have so been craving this one. I can’t believe I still have some of it. Steeped about a minute and a half. After I poured my cup, I stuck my nose in the press and took a deep breath. It was like a bouquet of field flowers. The taste of this is cucumber and melons with a nice tongue tingle. It is sweet with a fresh hay-like taste late in the sip. The aftertaste lingers with white tea delight. This is an exceptional white tea. It re-steeps well. I spent the rest of the day with this one.
This tea is a gift from Heaven how delightful and appropriate that it was sent by an Angel. I lift my cup in humble gratitude. Thank you.
Wow, the instant the water hit the leaf the room was filled with the scent of wonderful sweet hay. The wet leaf is a bit seaweed. The first sip, as with the white peony, still reminds me of mild cucumber, but today there is another element that… it reminds me of fresh garden picked sweet peppers. You know the kind with no heat or pepperiness to them, they just taste green. The aftertaste is melon. Multiple cups tell me this packs a pretty good amount of caffeine.
My new tea disciple buzzed me today to ask what made oolong different :) in explaining it to him I mentioned white tea… white tea? I have never heard of that!.. Um, would you like to try some? I think he was in my office with his mug before I could hang up. I showed him the dry leaf, then poured him a cup. He thought it just looked like water but sniffed and caught the hay note. He had the 3rd cup. My 4th was still going strong.
You don’t chug this and run. You get quiet with it and meditate on its subtle flavors. When you do it speaks in a nicely complex way. This is really good.
Since I am already rambling – I had a spinach salad at lunch with cucumbers and mushrooms. As I am biting into the cucumber I am thinking this isn’t quite the same as what I called cucumber in the tea. Then I bit into the mushroom and it tasted so earthy like forest dirt smells, and all I could think was puerh! I am becoming such a tea nerd.
Sunday afternoon with the Mythbusters and a cup of yum. (Season premeire tonight!) My wife took one look at my mug and said it just looks like water. I said, yeah and it tastes like cucumber. She said, ewww and walked away. Yep, I know how to keep this stuff to myself. Honest wasn’t my intent. It just does taste like sweet hay and cucumbers. If I heard that description I would be skiddish too. One taste though and you just get it. This really good.
Back logging – It is 56 degrees with a tornado warning this morning. Going to be in the teens and snowing tonight. Crazy. Outside my window are billowing black clouds, a vivid lightning show, and a torrential downpour. The power of nature is awesome. I think cranking REO’s live version of Ridin’ The Storm Out seems appropriate. To go with it, I picked this very delicate tea as it represents just the opposite of the storm. The day holds in the one hand unflinching wrath, and in the other peace and grace. I choose grace. Wonderful cucumber/melon notes in this cup. Excellent choice!
Update – the storm passed with no reports of serious damage. We were without power for a few hours but all is well. Ordered pizza with family, then went to praise band practice so I never had time to post yesterday.
Instead of saving back some of the samples that I am pretty sure I am going to love, I notice I am grabbing them first. Oh well, here goes another. The dry buds are long and silvery white with a bit of green. Very fresh and sweet smelling. Hate to over use the hay word but that’s what I picture when I inhale. Let’s call it alfalfa because that sounds cooler.
Steeped per the instructions for 1 ½ minutes. Wet leaf smells really good. The brew is very pale almost clear with a greenish tint. What a contrast to the puerh from yesterday! Hard to believe they both come from the same plant. Well, not literally but you know what I mean.
The first sip is light with cucumber notes or melon as some may interpret it. Sweet with a touch of grass. I am not sure my description is doing this justice. This is a really good cup of relaxation. My stress level has been through the roof lately and this is just the vacation moment I needed. I am sitting back and staring out the window while sipping the cup. Ahhhh. I would hate to imagine any one would slam this down and not take the time to appreciate it. Cups two and three were every bit as pleasurable.
First of all, I have to say that JacquelineM put it the best with her tasting note of this same tea. It’s just spot-on, and I think everyone should read it and then go buy this awesome tea. It seems like everyone who’s added a tasting note to this one Steepster can at least agree that it’s a 4-5 star Chinese black.
That said, one thing that seems to be missing from some of the other tasting notes about this tea are the floral aspects. On the forefront, you get the tea (a nice black with maybe a little oiliness?). Then, you get the crusty sweet potatoes baked with a touch of orange juice (mentioned by JacquelineM). Finally, you get a mouth full of flowers (not over-the-top, but just right). It’s beautiful, and I’m really enjoying my last 4 cups of it with these spicy noodles right now. :o)
I received this and four other teas from TeaVivre for sampling, so I will use my faded journalistic integrity to provide a bias-free review ;)
Taking the advise of Jim Marks, I did not rinse this lovely little tuocha. 45 seconds for first steep in a 250ml gaiwan, there is a tiny bit of fishy smell emanating from my mug. I thought I would be turned off by it, but I don’t mind it actually. It’s really mellow and blends nicely with the additional scents of hay in this tea.
As this is my first tuocha, I didn’t want to steep it for very long during the first run. That turned out to be a good idea; this tastes smooth and light! There is a little bit of hay on the tip of the tongue, and I can tell there is going to be some additional sweetness in subsequent steeps.
Gonna play more Skyrim and have a few more cups of this!
EDIT: Second steep was 30 seconds, and it’s way darker than the first. Stronger, more pronounced flavours. Still quite nice!
This is Teavivre sample #3 of 5 for me today. I’m already sad that I only have two more samples remaining.
One word describes the Bailin Gongfu Black Tea: EXQUISITE! This is another exceptional black tea. The flavor is full yet light and airy. A very pleasing fruity and flowery zing is at the forefront. Behind that is the presence of malt and a hint of sweetness.
This tea is a kaleidoscope of great, well-blended flavors. As with the other two samples I have tried so far, there is a terrific freshness to the taste of this tea, as if it were just harvested yesterday.
I continue to be amazed by the fabulous flavors and quality of Teavivre teas. I’ve already added two Teavivre teas to my Christmas Wish List. Bailin Gongfu Black Tea is about to make its appearance!
I ended up steeping this tea for quite some time, long past the eight and a half minutes I set my timer for. I was playing Minecraft and not paying attention, so I didn’t hear the beep.
But this tea does not suffer one bit from oversteeping. True, it’s very dark maroon and a little tart, but it’s still great. I like this one more than the other fruit tea I’ve tried by Teavivre, Apple Awakening. The pineapple is a great touch and goes well with the rose hips. It’s like a hot, mouth-watering fruit punch. I bet it would be perfect iced, which is what’s happening next with this tea.
O pizza, I hate myself for loving you so, with your piles of hot melty cheese. Your greasy pepperoni and sausage should make me run away, but I do just the opposite. I wake up feeling such shame ;)
As you might suspect yesterday’s food is killing me today. I need puerh to restore by digestive system. I have one of these little rose touchas left. The leather is very prominent and the rose, though I can’t taste it, smooths out the rough edges. I don’t know much about the differences between shus but I know this is my personal favorite. I can already feel it working its soothing magic.
I saw this one reviewed yesterday by Indigobloom and thought I’d just pull it out of storage and see if I still love it. I did not do a rinse; instead I thought I would just do a light first cup. I tried to pour this while the brew was medium red. As I poured I became aware it’s a lot like meat on the grill. You have to remove it before it is done. By the time I finished pouring it was Assam dark. Not black and inky but darker than intended.
I needn’t have worried. Though the smell is kind of eeww, the taste is the great leather and lace I remember. A lot of you preferred the non-rose toucha. Not me. You don’t really taste the rose so much as it removes the throat bite that is in the non-rose. This is just velvety smooth goodness.
On the third mug, I let it steep a few undetermined minutes. The color was so cool. It was between grape juice and blood. A cup suitable for Vampire communion?
For the fourth mug I am going to cold brew it over night – just out of curiosity. Anyway still loving this.
What I appreciate most about this toucha is you don’t have to get all analytical with it. Yes, I do enjoy a tea full of subtleties where you have to work at deciphering all the intricate details in each steep. Sometimes though, like when I am on Steepster at 3:00 AM because I haven’t been able to sleep all night for several weeks, I just want a good smooth cup of full out flavor. When I need a tea that takes little effort to prepare or enjoy, this one rocks it. TeaVivre, have I said thank you lately?
I decided to continue with this today as I had not gone beyond three steeps with it before. Cup number four @ two minutes, is the first where the brew looks more like a black tea instead of ink. The leather is reduced but still the predominate flavor. Mild and a bit earthy. Also getting the sticky lip feel.
Cup five @ three minutes. Light and mild. Almost like a sheng. More sticky lip, and now a soapy taste, and add numbing metallic mouth feel. I have experienced this before but never this intense. Interesting.
Cup six @ five minutes. The liquor has an orange tint. I am using a 12 oz mug, so this is like cup 11 and 12 using standard cups. Time to call this one. I am not tasting water but this cup is very light and mild.
Per Ashmanra’s suggestion I had this one today. Really had to twist my arm ;) When I sniffed the dry leaf, I chuckled out loud. I was reminded of TeaEqualsBliss’ review of the tea that smelled of outhouse. Now, I don’t find this tea offensive like that, but I can see how the uninitiated might. Anyway this is everything I want in a ripe puerh. I love this.
Of all the teas in Teavivre’s web store this is the one I was most curious about. I specifically requested it be included in the samples. I have only had one other rose tea and I did not like it at all, however rose and puerh together just sounds interesting.
The toucha comes wrapped in paper with four in the sample envelope. First brew per the instructions. The toucha bubbled the instant the water hit it and crumpled almost as fast. I don’t know if you are supposed to do a wash with these, so I did not. After two minutes in boiling water, the brew is very dark like burgundy wine. The leaf is almost powdery small with a bit of rose petal. The aroma is pure ripe puerh (you know that “Eeww, do I really want to drink this?” smell. To which you happily reply, “Well, yeah.”). There is only the slightest hint of rose.
The sip is not even close to what I expected. Not at all like the green puerhs I reviewed recently and definitely not nasty like the one canned cooked puerh I bought at the local international food mart. The rose is way in the background and may even reside only in my imagination. The main flavor is leather, makes me think of a horse saddle, with a bit of smoke and spice. As it cools, the smoke and spice subside but the leather remains.
Second steep, only 1 minute this time. This is the darkest cup of tea I have ever made. Dark as dark chocolate. Still that amazing leather taste and a touch of pepper. Third cup back to two minutes. Similar to the second, a little less pronounced. Fourth cup, three minutes, still flavorful but the leather is gone. Just warm and creamy now with the first real earthy notes. Still reasonably dark and flavorful. I may try to push this further later but I am pleased with today’s results. Pretty sure with real short steeps I could get a lot of cups from this but a few really intense cups just seems more appropriate.
I know puerh makes a lot of people nervous but I really like this. Interesting and complex. I kind of wish the rose came through more, but given my past experience maybe it is better this way.
This morning I was excited to try another sample of Teavivre tea. The Yun Nan Dian Hong Black Tea – Golden Tip did not disappoint me one bit. It has a wonderful, light, flowery, fresh fields taste to it.
So far, Teavivre’s black teas have amazed me with the great amount of flavor they produce at low brewing temperatures and short steeping times. I brewed this one for three minutes at 185 degrees as recommended. The result was plenty of flavor, although I think my worn out tastebuds may need about three and a half minutes of brewing to obtain the full flavor effect. Regardless, this is another excellent tea.
This tea has a bright light amber color like wildflower honey. There is also a hint of sweetness to the flavor that makes this selection refreshing for black tea.
I continue to be very impressed with Teavivre teas. They have skyrocketed to the top of my favorites list. I’m already counting the hours until tomorrow’s new sample!