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Recent Tasting Notes
This was a sample sent to me from the lovely folks at Teavivre. Dong Ding (sometimes Tung Ting or “Frozen Summit”) is a very beautiful tea mountain in Nantou county near the west coast of Taiwan. They produce a lot of rolled oolongs in the Taiwan/Fujian style. “Qing Xiang” (清香) means “Fragrant” or “Aromatic”.
The dry leaves lived up to their name with a very pleasant sweet aroma. As expected for a Dong Ding, the leaves are rolled into balls, but somewhat unexpectedly they are many different sizes. Some are quite a lot larger than my usual Dong Ding (indicating a lot of stems, which doesn’t mean anything in itself), while some balls were more like fine gunpowder green tea in size. The variation in leaf size had me on my guard, as such inconsistency can make infusing a tea difficult. The color was a mix of bright green mixed with gunpowder gray, like an evergreen forest in the spring.
The first three infusions did not impress me too much, having a little too green and sharp a taste for my palette. However, as the flavor that was present hadn’t become noticeably weaker I tried a fourth and was very surprised at the improvement. A hint of saltiness crept into the flavor, which changed everything. There was still the bright spring quality, but it became subdued and gentle. The aroma was delicate but unmistakably that of the wonderful sweetness you will find in an oolong withering room. Somehow a bit of cream entered the texture, mellowing the sharpness of the previous infusions. The effect was still there but now it manifested as a dryness on the front of the tongue in the aftertaste, not marring the mouthfeel. My mind wandered away to a green mountainside in Lugu, looking across the lake at the tea fields of Dong Ding. It’s really a reminder that, particularly with a rolled oolong, there can be layers of flavor that lie hidden away behind the initial taste.
A hot rinse of the leaves at the start or possibly beginning with a cooler temperature water might have made for a different beginning entirely for this tasting. Tea is a living creation, and while I love to find a Dong Ding that really wows on the first sip, I very much enjoy a tea that makes me taste and experiment to find its beauty. I’m glad to have had this chance!
(Read the full review here: http://someteawith.me/2013/11/27/teavivre-2013-qing-xiang-dong-ding/)
I think it’s been over a month since I had this one, which makes me want to yell at myself because this is really good. It’s dark and rich, without being overly malty. (which is what I was afraid of). I’m getting sweet honey, and caramel too!
I guess the secret for this one is to err on the side of understeeping!
Each sip is seriously like walking along the danger zone – it smells like it’s almost too strong and I don’t want to sip it, but when I do it’s just rich and perfect.
Aroma: Fresh, toasty, vegetal, buttery
Liquor: Bright yellow with green undertone
Flavor: Fresh, grassy vegetal flavor with a touch of sweetness. Small hint of nuttiness.
Notes: Thank you teavivire for this free sample! I haven’t really gotten into oolongs that much, but this one was great! It was bold, but refreshing at the same time. The body felt very creamy which I enjoyed very much.
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.
Thank you Teavivre for this tea sample!
Almost every evening, the sky at the end of my street where the plains meet the bottom of the Rocky Mountains turns radiant! I wander outside regularly with my camera to capture the Cathedral-like stained-glass window array of colors.
Cold winds tumble and dip down to 5000 ft. creating odd shaped clouds that can hover all day in one spot. They catch the setting sun appearing to be an alien spaceship or flat pancakes.
Of all the places I’ve been (Alaska, Greece, Italy, California, Peru and so on) these sky-scapes are the best!
I drank a little tea…this one in particular…and enjoyed the menthol coolness of the leaves when I put my nose close to the gaiwan after a 2 minute steep.
I tasted sweet corn.
Then cool airy menthol with the corn which was refreshing.
The fragrance was floral and corn which I didn’t taste up front, but on my palate as an aftertaste with slight bitterness (not unpleasant), reminding me of lilies.
The term moderately-roasted shouldn’t scare off those who don’t like roasty tea’s. There’s nothing ‘roasty’ tasting about this tea!
What the roast does is bring this Oolong out of the ‘very floral’ tasting Oolong variety but stopping before becoming roasty. (My opinion)
I wouldn’t steep this a long time. 2 minutes after a rinse was very good to my taste.
The reason I wrote about the sky in my neighborhood and this tea is this: When I drink tea, it always makes me a better person in some way if I let it do so.
Before I began drinking tea, I never carried a camera or went out of my way to notice how beautiful nature was unless on vacation.
Tea put my life in the present moment where I have the opportunity to notice what’s around me. Now I notice the sky and so much more!
Thank you Angel and Teavivre for a sample of this! Mmmm I was craving a rich black tea and I hope found my winner! I opened the package and a rich cocoa aroma spilled out. The leaves are beautiful, too. Mmm the flavor isn’t as rich as I was hoping but it’s still very enjoyable. This tea has light cocoa\caramel notes but there is something vegetal to it. Like sweet potato.. or raw string bean. There is a touch of malt, too. I really enjoy this tea. It’s nice and comforting.
Sipping on this while continuing my Family Ties viewing / putting off working on the program notes until tomorrow. I was about to do the H&S Holiday Tea for the third time in two days, then I realized – wait. Black Friday’s in four days, Cyber Monday’s in a week, and I’m planning a tea splurge regardless of whether or not the companies in question are offering discounts or not. My cupboard’s not enormous by Steepster standards, but I better sip down a few things up in here.
I oversteeped this by a bit, so it’s a little bitter. But still good and smoky. Little mushroomy, but that might be the oversteeping. I wish I could say more, and more intelligent stuff. But it’s enjoyable.
Decided to revisit this one today – and I’m also making it a sipdown since after making my Timolino full of this I sent the last bit off in a swap package. I figured I’d revisit it since I had relatively fond memories, but I doubted that I’d enjoy it enough to ever really get around to drinking up the last of it. I’m sure it’ll be better appreciated where it’s going…
For preparation, I steeped 1 tsp. in my timolino with 80 degree celsius water for two minutes. The tea liquor was a pale green yellow like last time – but this time for the quantity of water I used significantly less leaf so I’m expecting the taste to be a bit lighter than what I remember (thinking maybe that’ll ease up on any unwanted vegetalness). I can’t really judge anything from the smell: my timolino seems to have picked up a permanent “white chocolate” creamy type of smell from the White Chocolate Frost I had in it (although I’ve managed to get the lingering taste of that tea out).
Taste wise, I’m fighting through a little bit of bitterness. I guess the steep time I used was too much. However, once I fight through that kinda bitterness the result is a somewhat creamy kind of spinach/cucumbery taste. Not too bad. I think I’m gonna try and hold onto my initial memory of this though: I remember it tasting better that first time. The after taste here is quite pleasant though – and even though there’s vegetalness it’s not in a “seaweed” or “grassy” which so I’m not completely turning up my nose on this one.
I don’t drink straight greens often if ever so sometimes I forget you need to use a very ‘light touch’ with most of them – but over all I think both memories/tasting in mind (edit: I just went back and reread my last tasting note on this) I’m happy with my rating and satisfied with my decision to pass it on, though glad I took the opportunity to try it one more time.
Thank you Angel and Teavivre for this Sample Tea!
I have simpathy for those of you getting ready for Thanksgiving with the latest Winter storm ready to hit. Freezing rain and/or snow!
The West (and Mountains where I am) has had the storm pass by already. Finally we’re coming out of sub-zero temperatures.
What we all have in common, even those who are in the cold Canadian Winter and those of you in Europe…is the comforting glow of a cup of tea which warms us from head to toe.
This Thanksgiving I’ll be with my daughter, son-in-law and 10 children. (One 2 year old is a short stay foster toddler. Another has been with them almost from birth (about a year). The third is three and awaiting adoption into their forever family of 3 bio and 4 adopted children). Grandma Bonnie will be busy in the noisy mix on the farm this Thursday.
Granddaugher Kiah (16) will be butchering the turkey and several chickens. She’s done this before.(sorry vegans, but this is the way this family feeds their brood by raising their own food!)
I’ve been reading my family history. We go back to the Massachusetts Bay Colony…all the way back to those early Pilgrims. My daughter Annalisa laughs…“The African American part of me came over on a slave ship and cooked turkey for others. The British part arrived on a ship as a Pilgrim and my husband (who is part Native American) shared turkey with my Pilgrim ancestors. So there you go,Thanksgiving!”
Whatever our background and story, we can be thankful for many things. I am thankful for my Steepster friends for sure! I’m thankful for so many blessings…too many to count!
This morning, I made a spaghetti squash crusted deep dish pizza with feta and spinich. While it was baking, I made some Taiwanese Osmanthus Oolong Tea.
The instructions say ‘steep 3-8 minutes’. That’s quite a long time! I chose 6 minutes, poured the whole packet of leaves into my larger gaiwan…then added boiling water.
The aroma that wafted up was lovely floral, slightly vegetal…but tasted too strong. 6 minutes was almost bitter, sweet but too much.
The second steep, at 45 seconds, was perfect. Light, sweet with the aroma of sugar cookies. Osmanthus can smell a bit like vanilla.
The Oolong isn’t very vegetal and reminded me of taking a nibble off a skinny stalk of young, fresh uncooked asparagus. (I detected a hint of butter)
Many steepsters love a sweet tea and wouldn’t dream of not adding sugar or sweetener. Adding a little here (just a little) works well.
My favorite time to drink a tea like this one would be when the first bulbs in Spring are coming up, and the ethereal glow of warm sunshine begins to melt the frost. Hope in a cup!
Blessings to everyone this Thanksgiving and to those who are not in this land, Blessings always!
My morning cup with yesterday’s leaf. Yes I was awake this time and yes it was delicious.
I drank a pot of this earlier this afternoon. So tasty, so richly sweet potato & malty. Delicious! Just what I needed.
TODAY is the DAY!!!! It is Grey Cup day!!!!!! And my home town is hosting Grey Cup!!!!!! And the home town team MADE IT!!!!!! Go Riders!!!!!!
For anyone that doesn’t know, the Grey Cup is basically the superbowl but for the CFL (although it is nothing like the superbowl). My home town Roughriders (green and white) are playing the Hamilton TigerCats. Its gonna be aweome! And it is super crazy in the city. I made every effort to run all of my errands on Friday and it took forever, I was out of the house from 11am to 8pm. And then I was going to hide inside all weekend. Away from the crazies, and there are a lot of them, believe me. But then my mom texts me yesterday with a list of things she needed me to pick up for today. Oh man, its nuts out there. Everyone is in a hurry to pick up all the last minute things for the game, or trying to get to the game.
This tea is light and smooth. Today I am finding it to be sweet and the slightest bit floral. It is creamy and buttery. But there is also that nice green vegetal taste. Reminding me of wheat grass today.
So I may be a melon head, and I may bleed green, but I also drink GREEN! Take that Hamilton.
A quick tasting note. Very green oolong, mildly bitter, not as sweet and nutty as other oolongs that I’ve had. I probably will not order more, but I really am enjoying the sample while it lasts.
Thank you to Angel at Teavivre for this wonderful sample!
Dry: Tightly rolled olive bundles that seem to include a bud and full leaves when unfurled. Smells green, almost grassy, and mild. I wasn’t sure what to expect at all in the brewed tea from the package because the dry scent is not anything that really caught me initially, but (spoiler alert) I was very pleasantly surprised.
Steeped: Clear light green liquor. I brewed this with the Western method and it needs even more room than most oolongs to expand as the bundle of leaves are quite large and whole. It smells sweetly floral and fresh.
Taste: As soon as I took my first sip, I was falling in love. It is my new favorite Taiwan oolong. I am greeted with creamy milk blended with soft floral notes. I am not into flower teas usually, but the flavor of this tea is lovely and elegant with a silky mouthfeel. The aftertaste is sweet and mild, leaving me wanting to take another sip time and time again. I daresay I like this even more than the milk oolong with its smooth buttery goodness and natural milk flavor.
Everything is frosted and quiet outside, the sun is just starting to peek over the towering trees, and I am sipping a taste of the mountains on this fine Sunday morning. Yes, please!
It’s been a bit since I’ve had this one! (Mostly because I couldn’t find it, and when I did, I put it in a tin then forgotten I’d put it in the tin.) This is my breakfast tea while watching Family Ties on Netflix (ahh so good!!!) As I think I say every time I drink a dian hong, I have to remember to drink this slowly to get the flavor progression. Otherwise there’s still the tasteful rose flavoring. I feel like I’m just repeating what I’ve already said about this one. But it’s the kind of tea that we get obsessed with tea for. Definitely restocking on my impending tea splurge…
The moment my feet hit the floor I knew I needed a strong black tea. I got up, went to the fridge, grabbed the milk and chocolate syrup. Poured the milk and realized the chocolate syrup was actually pancake syrup. Another trip to the fridge and as I stirred the milk I realized it was not strong black tea. That kind of morning. Chugged the milk and started looking for the tea. Except I couldn’t read the labels, or at least my brain couldn’t decipher them. Decided on this as it was the first label that I understood. It is a beautiful tea even if it isn’t strong black tea. All that to say thanks Teavivre, the life you saved this morning may have been my own.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with the osmanthus but am enjoying it quite a bit. I favor black teas, but was pleased to get several oolong samples from Teavivre, and its always fun to try new teas from them. I’ve had good experiences from pretty much everything they’ve sent me. This oolong has a subtle floral aroma. The brew is smooth and refreshing- pleasantly floral but not overpowering. I look forward to several more infusions.
I decided to have a relaxing morning with my new tea pet and gaiwan.
The aroma of the wet leaf is very sweet. Slightly floral. But there is still a touch of earth and smoke. Mmm :] The flavor is very sweet with light touches of honeysuckle.
Aroma is still sweet but the smokey note is starting to come out a bit more. The flavor is still sweet with a strong earthy note.
The aroma is sweet but the earthy\smokey notes are starting to take over. Ooo this steep is dark. Beautiful deep chocolate brown color. The mouthfeel of this steep is thick but smooth. The flavor is sweet with strong earthy notes. That touch of honeysuckle is in the background.
The aroma is still earthy and smokey but the sweetness has almost vanished. The flavor is very earthy with honeysuckle notes. There is a slight roasted nut flavor. But only slightly.
The aroma is kind of leafy and burnt(in a good way). The flavor is very earthy with toasted nut and sweet notes.
The aroma is slowly making it’s way back to sweet and earthy. There is still a nice burnt\smokey note to it. The flavor kind of reminds me of a raw mushroom. Still earthy. Still sweet. I’m catching a slight honeysuckle note again.
Aroma is nice. Sweet and earthy but still has that burnt smell to it.
The flavor is sweet and earthy with light hints of honeysuckle.
The aroma is nutty, sweet, and earthy. Mmm the flavor is sweet and nutty with mellow earthy notes. The flavor is mellow and sweet. Slightly floral.
MMm I really enjoy puerh so this was a nice treat.
I have a Saturday off!!!! WHAT WHAT WHAT!!!!!! AND I have Sunday off too! I have a real weekend?!? WHAT IS THIS??
ahem Sorry. Working retail does things to me.
I think I had this tea exactly ONCE, then never bothered to try it again. It was more smoky than I liked or something. This time around it’s quite enjoyable. I think it’s a tea you need a longer steep time for; I tried like a 3 min steep (Western style, of course) and it was pretty underwhelming. It’s a dark, smooth kind of smoky, like you’d get from a good lapsang. I didn’t really pick up on the sweet potato until I read it in the item descrip; I get a hint of it if I know to look for it. Then again, I’ve never been good with the subtleties.
Don’t know if it’s distinctive enough for me to restock, but clearly a quality tea. Pretty in dry leaf form, too.
Oh my goodness, this is divine. Malt and honey aren’t typically flavors I’m crazy about, but here together they create such a warm, savory, delicious cup. I accidentally oversteeped my second helping of this tonight and there was no astringency. Love! Some foods have the reputation for being “comforting”, I would say this tea has it as well. So happy I got to try this one!