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Recent Tasting Notes
First review and a huge thanks to Angel from Teavivre for this generous sample! I very carefully opened the tea package (which is beautiful) and inhaled deeply several times to catch the first burst of scent all dry, nutty and vegital but still muted and light. I got my Spring Water…loaded my electric kettle to temp 194 and set my glass teapot to the ready. I put 3 teaspoons for 8 oz. water in the SS. basket. The leaves are a mulch of forest green lush leaves tinged with brown and small brown twigs. Steep time 2 minutes. Ready for the tasting. Put my nose down to smell the wet mash…all spinich and buttery rich. The pour into my glass mug is a champagne gold liquor nice and pale with no vegital scent at all. In fact…the scent is like cherrios dust…like at the bottom of the box. There is no floral taste like I expected or acid. The next step was to check on what would happen when I added some sugar. I didn’t overdo the sweet out of respect for the light character of the tea. There is a change…a light biscuit tone. Really there is. I think this would be a good tea choice with raspberries and cream or a croissant and jam because of the balance of acid, cream and butter in the food and biscuity lightness in the tea. No milk in this tea for me. Milk would be too heavy and the flavor of this tea is just too delicato. A second steep for 4 minutes proved a bit weak and more vegital. Still, good color and flavor. In a tea tasting I would put this in the forefront before stronger and heavier tea.
Mmmmmmmmmm. The last of our sample, so I tried to do it justice.
Dry, this tea is . . . not dry! It’s sticky from the honey, which is awesome. But it is a dark green, with a hint of muskiness from the tea covered by the predominance of the real honey. Steeped Western-style, about two or three teaspoons of tea in one of the BrewT-type steepers from DT.
First steep: Oversteeped! Three and a half minutes, because I got distracted while it was brewing up. Still! Delicious. Tea turned out a rich golden colour, with a darkly vegetal flavour. The honey toned down to a hint of sweetness throughout the cup, that sweetened without turning it floral.
Second steep: Successful steep time! Minute fifteen. Not as much of the honey flavour – I was tempted to add some myself. A lighter gold colour, and the cup was much smoother in taste, not quite as herby.
Third steep: Just under two minutes, maintained the smooth deliciousness of the second steep, but less honey.
Four steep: Two minutes. No honey taste, sadness. But the oolong is still going strong.
Fifth steep: Two minutes. Would have been delicious, but I forgot about it on the windowsill when I went to bed and didn’t drink any of it.
Sixth steep: Two minutes. Leaves have actually been sitting in the steeper overnight, so I’m hoping I’m not going to give myself an allergic reaction to it. Was actually more of a trial to see if it could be done – I never want to give up on this tea. More of a bitter vegetal flavour, but surprisingly drinkable. Don’t think I’ll try for another steep.
Teavivre’s Bailin Gongfu Black is a storybook tea. Wrapping oneself around this tea evokes a wondrous childlike experience. Spending an afternoon with a pot creates a feeling of warmth and wonder where imagination takes an unyielding hold.
I flat out love the dry leaf smell of this tea. Stick your nose in the bag and a rich, woodsy-cocoa scent envelops. The wet leaf is toasty and earthy, while the liquor has stronger dry-cocoa notes. Sipping this elegantly smooth tea, one experiences toasty-cocoa bliss. This tea provokes you to daydream. Naturally sweet. Perfectly balanced. The aftertaste transitions from toasty-cocoa to a more creamy caramel. A slight degree of astringency with the caramel aftertaste creates great harmony. I smack my lips after a sip and a joyous sweetness remains. My tongue begs for more. Yum!
I found that with this tea you must be careful not to over-brew. I get the best results brewing for exactly 2:30, not a second longer. Brew too long and you fade the wonderful cocoa/caramel taste. Prepare a cup, close your eyes, and let your mind and taste buds wander this dreamy fairytale.
On a hot summer day there are few teas that I can quench my thirst with. On the light bodied side there’s Huang Shan Mao Feng, and on the more intensive side there’s Xin Yang Mao Jian. Mao Jian has an interesting leaf for a green tea – it’s needle shaped with dark green tone and abundant white buds which makes leaves stick to each other easily.
Although I enjoy this tea most of a time in tall glass style during my working hours, for the sake of tasting I prepared it in a western teapot fashion. According to the instructions I used 4 gr with my 250ml glass teapot and steeped for 4 minutes at 85 Celsius.
What I got was a bright golden-green infusion with deep vegetable elements lingering at the top along with some smokey notes which brings out a clear association with Lapsang Souchong. First sip presents itself with somewhat brisk medium body, smokey element in the middle and sweetish finish. Both smokey and sweet notes linger in the back for some time. Following sips bring out the complete picture of this tea with prominent spinach-eggplant vegetable note and a slight salty-like sensation combined with a touch of vegetable bitterness. The tea itself quenches thirst and has a good palate cleansing property.
What’s especially noticeable with this tea is that it keeps its characteristics (barely evolves) as it cools down.
I got this tea on pre-order at a bargain price, now I wish I got more.
Flavors: Pine, Smoke, Spinach, Sweet, Vegetal
Another free sample provided by TeaVivre. Thank you!
Dry leaf is finely rolled with really dark green hue with a lot of petioles that give of pine leaf resemblance. That being said, leaf is 1,5 to 3 cm long and here and there you can find some around 4 cm. If you look more carefully you can also see some pebbles and even non-rolled leaf parts making (about 10-15%). There’s some smokiness about it, but you really have to dig in your nose to sense it.
One of the ways I savor dry leaf aroma is by dropping it in heated teapot and let it rise to my nostrils with the steam. At this point I can sense some buttery notes with vegetal hint.
1st infusion (3gr 80C 250ml 60s)
Clear liquor with light jade tone. On first sip you get a light hint of pleasant bitterness that quickly dissipates and turns to bold vegetable note, or more like some herbal tea with bitter note (like Mountain Germander). Finish is a bit dry and at this point I can picture myself quenching thirst with this tea in summer heat. I’ll have to wait for it though.
2nd infusion (80C 250ml 90s)
Second infusion yielded a bit stronger character with more bitterness but still in pleasant range. I think I shouldn’t have stretched it but keep it at 1 minute infusion – getting the impression that too much flavor got released.
Vegetal note has increased also and sweetness appears just after swallowing. Not bad, not bad at all.
3rd (3gr 80C 250ml 90s)
After this I’m pulling the plug. I could have pulled out one more steep if I hadn’t gone too far in second.
Here I get more robust cuppa with very little bitterness (less than from 1st steep) and astringency takes over. After swallowing starchy dryness is present in throat.
To wrap it up, I might get a bag of this as summer closes in, and I yet have to try it in cold brew fashion.
My second batch of samples from Teavivre arrived today! I was very surprised when my mail lady knocked on my door as I didn’t think I would have to sign for this package (I didn’t have to last time, which is weird). Regardless, I was very excited when I took it inside and opened it up! Again, I was at a loss for what to try because I’ve been eyeing all the samples they sent me this time. So, I flipped them over so the label was facing the table and lined them up and shuffled the order around and asked my little sister (I’m babysitting) to pick a number between 1 and 5. She chose 3, and this was the third one in the lineup, so I decided to brew this up. I specifically asked for this one when I asked if I could get another box of samples (thank you again Teavivre!) and so I’m super excited to try this! I’ve also never had a milk oolong before, but I’ve heard wonderful things about them so I’m so excited to try this one.
Dry Leaf: Again, the packaging is wonderful. For this tea (and two or three of the others I got), there are 4 individual baggies with tea in them inside one bigger bag. I don’t know how much is in each because the little baggies are in Chinese (further proof of the high quality of this tea) and it doesn’t say on the bigger bag they’re all in. I assumed that one package would be enough for 10 oz of water, so I threw one in. The dry leaf is pretty green and it smells very fresh and vegetal, a little salty, actually.
First Infusion: About 200 degrees (it says boiling but a.) I think that’s a little too high and b.) my kettle boiled and I wasn’t right there so it cooled for about a minute and a half and I was too lazy to put it back on :P) for 2 minutes in my Noble Mug from DAVIDsTEA. The resulting brew is fairly light. It still smells a little vegetal. Again, I’ve never had a milk oolong so I don’t really know what to expect. It tastes very fresh and slightly vegetal but not in a savory way. Usually when I think of vegetal I think of the opposite of sweet, but this is different. It’s like fresh garden picked veggies. Aasdklfjdaslk this is so hard for me to put into words, but the best I can say is sweet veggies. Definitely not as sweet as a fruit but still slightly sweet. There’s a very distinct heaviness left in my mouth afterword, which I’m assuming is the milk part coming through. As this infusion cools, the sweetness comes out more and more. This is a pretty good, but based on this infusion I wouldn’t repurchase.
Second Infusion: Boiling water for 2 minutes and 30 seconds. It’s times like this when I really wish I had a gaiwan. The leaves have opened up so much and it’s hard to brew them in a basket like I do. I’ll try to find one around here (though finding tea supplies is not-so-surprisingly hard here in Vermont). This infusion is much creamier. I can definitely sense the milkiness of this. It’s smooth and heavy in your mouth. This time it’s a bit sweeter. Not a lot, but it definitely got sweeter. Still vegetal though. I think the main difference in this infusion is the way the creaminess came out. Like the first infusion, as this one cools the sweetness comes out more. It’s starting to turn more fruity than vegetal. I don’t think the leaves have it in them to make a third infusion, so for now this is my review. Not phenomenal (I don’t think I prepared it exactly as I should’ve, so I’m going to try it differently next time.
On somewhat of a side note, I have a good idea for my TeaTrade blog (it’s still a little confusing to me so I don’t really use it). I was thinking about making a tea review blog that connects teas to the arts. Like taking whatever tea I choose to review and then say music that compliments it or art that it makes me think of. It sounds kind of weird now, but what do you guys think? Any comments/suggestions would be great!
Despite my box from Teavivre arriving over a week ago, it has taken me this long to try them! My apologies to Angel Chen and the lovely people at the company who provided these amazing samples to me, but in my defence the delay was to be able to give them my best attention. I normally use unfiltered tap water for my tea but felt that since these were quality teas from a quality company and a gift, they deserved better. So I finally got some spring water to put in my kettle and some time to sit and appreciate. Sadly, that time today was after midnight so I am starting with the only herbal in the bunch!
Since hibiscus and tart flavours aren’t my favourite, I disregarded the recommended brewing instructions and instead did what I normally do for my herbals, a heaping teaspoon in boiling water for five minutes.
First impressions are that the tea is lovely brewed, a pinkish red that makes me think of summer and sangria and happy times. The scent is hard for me to define, but definitely fruity in nature . . . maybe a blended strawberry scent? The first sips are lovely, with a tart undertone to a nice fruit punch flavour.
Part way through the cup I added some sweetener, curious how this would change the flavours. I found that it added to the fruit punch aspects, highlighting the slight tartness but also the richness that was in the flavour.
I definitely am enjoying the cup and am curious now how it will taste iced. I don’t think I’d like it cold brewed since the roselle would dominate, but brewed hot over ice would be very interesting.
My first flowering tea thanks to Teavivre! I chose to get this one because lilies are my favorite flower.
I had to steep it in a pyrex measuring glass because I have no other vessel suited for this, but it worked out just fine. And it was so cool!
I was almost expecting not to like it because I don’t really care for floral teas, but this is just right. It’s not very floral, it’s more like the petals add sweetness to the green tea. It also tones the jasmine down, so I like this even more. It is a very clean flavor. I steeped it again and I’m going to drink it cold tomorrow. It could probably hold up to several more steeps but it’s too late to get into that right now sadly :(
I think more of these will have to be purchased when I order from Teavivre…
Sipped this one extensively over last couple of weeks and wrote a review on my blog:
Copy-paste the content in Google Translate and translate it as Croatian.
I don’t know why I hesitated to write a note about this one… I’ve done Grade 1 and Hao Ya, but I seem to forgot about this one. Oh well, better write it now while I’m in mood for it.
This is the cheapest Keemun you can get from TeaVivre. I guess I didn’t really want to buy it, but I felt the urge to get it just to feel how far are they from each other.
Dry leaf is unevenly rolled when compared to other grades and even having some red hue to it.
I find this tea to be few steps from my taste area for breakfast tea. It’s light in taste so I could blend it with Ceylon. On other hand, some finer notes come up when steeped with boiling water and 5-minute sit. It has a somewhat coffee background, only lacking in character, with cocoa and dimmed vegetal notes and even hint of coconut with splash of milk.
Pleasant cuppa, only lacking in character. And when I think about it, it reminds me of Prince of Wales.
Sample provided by TeaVivre, thank you!
I haven’t tried Mao Jian before and I was a taken aback by brewing instructions (90C water) and 36-month shelf life which is like a double for random green tea.
Dry leaves have a dark olive tone and are long and twisted with some white tips and mild toasted aroma. I quite experimented with this one (still have to try cold brew method though) and I find it to be sensitive to both steeping time and temperature.
TeaVivre’s brewing instruction for this tea:
" Just like all green teas, brew Taimu Maojian at approximately 194 ºF or 90ºC for 1 to 2 minutes. TeaVivre’s Maojian can be infused 6 or 7 times, and you should add about 25% to the brewing time and using slightly hotter water for each infusion."
When I first brewed it (followed the instructions) I used minimum 60 seconds for first steep and added 15 seconds to second steep. What I got was delicious first infusion with clear jade tone and similar profile as Bi Luo Chun: fresh, slightly vegetal with sturdy chestnut background and some pleasant astringency that quickly fades and turns into sweet finish.
Second infusion seem to keep all the previous characteristics with a big scoop of bitterness. It wasn’t the one that would wrinkle your face but still it makes one focus more on bitterness itself than on savoring nuttiness and sweetness that are included.
I kept on brewing it with 15 second increase per steep, and third infusion brought less bitterness than previous with accent on sweetness and nutty aftertaste. There was a significant drop of astringency as well. I also got some kind of tickling sensation on tongue.
Forth steep (105 seconds) is where I pulled the plug. Taste started wearing out to the point that I might not want to drink 5th infusion. It still retained some sweet and vegetal notes with fair nutty background. Tickling sensation on tongue is more notable than in 3rd infusion.
I think I got seldom results for my first try.
On second try I managed to make it right! First two 60 second steeps (and 90C water for all) brought out an even profile of first infusion in my previous attempt. I also noted some starchy dryness this time. As I moved toward third infusion I noticed how that nutty background reminds me of dry leaf of particular Long Jing I had recently. Sweetness lingers and lasts long after sipping. This tea reminds me somewhat of Bi Luo Chun, that I don’t particularly enjoy due to its astringency, but astringency of this Mao Jian fits perfectly to my taste.
Wet leaves have accented nutty profile and I could toss them in salad or something (it’s organic after all).
I noticed that there’s only 200g left of this tea in TeaVivre’s stock. I immediately snatched 100g … only one more bag left…
It’s safe to say that this is my favorite green tea, and it never ceases to amaze me. There’s nothing more relaxing to me than a properly prepared mug of this stuff. Soon I’ll be trying Teavivre’s Superfine Pre-Ming Dragonwell and I really look forward to it.
Wow. All previous ideas of what Chinese green tea is are shattered. I’ve enjoyed other Chinese greens I’ve had before, but originally thought them inferior to Japanese greens taste-wise. This proved me wrong. This was transcendental. Light and brothy, super buttery and silky. I’ll have to add this into my “permanent collection” along with my beloved Japanese sencha. Blew me out of the water. Now, I’m off to go drop the ratings for other so-called dragonwells I’ve had, they don’t hold a candle to this. Nicely done, Teavivre.
Thank you to Angel from TeaVivre for these very generous samples!
WOW. This was really fantastic. This is my first experience with TeaVivre and it
was excellent from the packaging to the tea quality. The tea is packaged twice for maintaining freshness, something I did not expect and was impressed with. I made
a large teapot with 2 of the internal packets and this tea impressed the heck out of my visitors from the very start. We did 2 infusions and it held up very well to the 2nd infusion.
The tea flavour was very unique: unlike anything I’ve tried before. This was very interesting and unusual, in a great way. My friend said, “It smells like honey.” I got notes of honey as well but the clearest image in my mind while drinking this tea was, “This is a Green Tea, gone Black!” It really reminded me of the flavour and enjoyment of a good green tea, it just happened to be a black tea! That was a surprising though, but as I drank further that thought continued. Very good! Great with milk or straight-up. A really unexpected and rich flavour, excellent.
Now that my Teavivre order has arrived (huzzah!) I feel I can safely finish the samples that I have had for ages. Scarily, I ordered 100 grams of the Bailin Gongfu and Also the Black Pearls… despite only having tried them once! What?! My memory is so faulty at the best of times.
This poor sample was a bit crushed from kicking around so long so I expect a bit more malt and bitterness from the broken leaves. The steeped aroma is powerful. It is malty and yeasty and rich, it embodies dark cocoa and rich rye bread. Wow, rye bread is perfect actually. I should get myself some rye flour and make a loaf.
Anyway, the taste of this steeping is just as powerful as the smell. I used the full 7 g sample in my 12 oz Perfect Tea Mug, steeped about 3 minutes and it is intense. The liquor is dark and the tea is delicious. I’m not quite as taken with it as I was that first time (probably because I have had a tea like this a few times now) but this is just so brazen. This tea does not hide itself, flaws or otherwise. It is the “look at me, I’m GORGEOUS!” of teas. (Please picture John Lithgow saying that from his role as Dock Solomon on 3rd Rock from the Sun!)
For me, this has an earthiness and intensity that I don’t frequently find in tea, it actually does a good job of mimicking a roasted oolong, sort of like a couple Big Red Robe’s I’ve enjoyed. Perhaps it would be better to say that they mimic this tea, but that’s semantics.
This is tremendous and very special. Not a mindless tea, but one to be savoured. I think I could win over some non-tea drinkers with this baby. Mwah!
After another crazy week, the beau and I are sitting down to finally try this sample from Teavivre – Thank you Angel! We are off to visit my grandmother in an hour or so, so we’re just slipping this one in before we continue the madness that this week has been.
The dry leaf smells decadent. It smells very rich, I find it has a chocolate characteristic and it instantly brings to mind the Golden Snail from Harney and Sons (which I have only a small amount of and am hoarding because it has been out of stock for months and months). I might want to try these side by side at some point and see if it’s just memory playing tricks on me. I steeped this for 3 minutes at 85 degrees (package specifications) with one sample package (approx. 2 teaspoons). The leaf has a surprising number of tips, it’s very attractive, even if the leaves are perhaps a bit more crushed than I might prefer. That could be due to shipping, storage, etc.
Steeped liquor is a golden amber, a little paler than I expected, but still with a bold aroma. I find the smell is very similar to the dry leaf – bold, rich, chocolatey. I hope I’m not the only one getting chocolate! (a side note, to be fair: I’ve been in the mood for a beautiful pure black tea that has chocolate notes for weeks – the thought that this one has been sitting idly by while I rushed about makes me cringe. I’m in love with the aroma, so far!)
First sips really match the aroma. So far this is a very consistant tea. This is bold. I do get chocolate in the taste, dark chocolate with a hint of something that could be considered bitter but doesn’t make me pucker. There is a sweetness in the middle of the sip which tapers off to the richness I am experiencing in the chocolate notes. Right now, this is heaven! I think there might be a tiny hint of astringency, as my lips are feeling a tiny bit dry, but there is nothing that tastes bitter or drying. Who knows, maybe this is my lips trying to wake up. : )
General consensus: yum. Very yum. Hopefully I can eke out a re-steep before we leave and see if these leaves can go the extra mile. This is definitely a tea that I am going to want to have on hand and will definitey go on my teavivre order once I’ve tried the rest of my samples. Mmmm!
I can’t believe how many people assume that all tea tastes llike bagged orange pekoe. While I can appreciate the place for bagged OP, I find it so hard to explain to someone just how delicious all teas (and especially black teas) can be. There is so much variety out there – so much more!
This sample was generously provided to me by Teavivre and I am very thankful. This is my first milk oolong and this is probably the one I was most excited to try. The first thing I noticed was that the “milkiness” was not as pronounced as I had imagined it to be, but it was definitely there. I guess I just imagined it in a different sense, because what I got from it was better classified as “buttery” like I was used to with a Japanese sencha, just more mellow. While the floral taste of the Tie Guan Yin I tried sometimes got a little too intense for me, I felt that the balance of flavor in this one was just perfect. This was a very pleasant tea to drink on a late night.
This is my first white peony, and my second white tea experience. It was fairly good, but definitely not my favorite that I’ve had out of my Teavivre samples. It’s got that soothing hay/fruit/floral flavor that I loved when I had Rishi’s silver needle, but to a lesser degree. I feel this may have been partly my fault as I’m still a little shaky on how to properly brew a white tea (all I have equipment wise is a basic cooking pot to heat the water in and I have to totally guess on the temperature). This one was just so-so for me. I’m sure it’s a high quality white peony, it’s just not my favorite.
These leaves are beautiful! Long, narrow, perfectly straight, vibrantly green leaves. They’re quite large actually and thus hard to correctly measure. But I think I did all right. The aroma is lovely, fresh green tea.
The taste is even lovelier than the aroma. Light, fresh, vegetal, and sweet. Light is the perfect description. It’s not heavy like Dragonwell.
There’s also virtually no aftertaste (as in the taste doesn’t linger). I haven’t decided if that’s good or bad yet. But it is definitely a noticeable characteristic of this tea. The aroma is grassy, but luckily for me that grassiness doesn’t make it into the flavor much.
Overall, this is a wonderful green tea. The second steep for two minutes was just as flavorful as the first, and I’m sure it could keep going for several more infusions, if I was so inclined. This tea is quite affordable for such high quality. It’s deserving of my stamp of approval! I highly recommend!
I finally did it, I placed my first order with Verdant. I spent a lot of time debating whether or not to do it, but the curiosity has been killing me and I knew that I HAD to do it. I got an ounce of the spring harvest Laoshan green, an ounce of the cornfields shu tuo cha, and an ounce of the golden fleece black tea (which is the one I’m REALLY excited to try). For that three ounces of tea, I spent $40.00. I’m having a really hard time wrapping my head around that number, I feel a bit ashamed to be honest. But if I would have never tried their tea, I would’ve always been left wondering. Sometimes you just have to live.
But anyway, I’ve spent enough time rambling completely off-topic, I just had to get that out there because I’m PUMPED. Now to the tea at hand. This stuff never disappoints me. This is possibly the most comforting tea I’ve had to date. It’s a very light-bodied tea but the flavor is there and it’s right on point. I can summarize this tea in four simple words: Malty, roasty, chocolatey, sweet. In other words, COMFORT. So for now I’ll sit here and sip on this cup of heaven while thoughts of the wondrous teas to come drift through my mind. And then I’ll spend the next week VERY impatiently awaiting my Verdant order…
I thought the Tie Guan Yin I got from Teavivre was good but this stuff right here is AMAZING. I didn’t even consider myself a big black tea fan before because I was naive to what a truly high quality black tea was. I didn’t even know that black tea could possess the kind of flavor “wow” factor that this does, my eyes are now open. For me, the most dominant smell/flavor in this is that of maltiness with little hints of chocolate and raisins, in a more refined sense it kind of reminds me of those Whoppers candies (the malted milk balls). This is smooth, comforting, a little sweet, a little earthy, chocolatey, malty… Just all around delicious. I drank it with homemade General Tso’s chicken and fried rice and it really complimented the meal. I will definitely be buying some of this.