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Recent Tasting Notes
It is so cold. I know I shouldn’t complain. I have lived in this darn country and province my entire life. I have made a conscious decision to continue living here. I actually quite like how we get four distinct seasons. I normally would not mind if it was this cold. But come on polar vortex, it is March 1. It is supposed to be like -5C, starting to melt a little every day.
It is currently -40C, feels like -52C. If you would like to know what that is in Fahrenheit, -40 is where the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales meet. That’s right! It is -40F feels like -61.6F. WHAT?!?! I am not even going to bother going outside, not because any exposed skin will freeze in 3 seconds, or because my nostril hairs will freeze on contact to the air, but I am scared my door will break off its hinges if I open it because it is so cold.
So I am drinking this to warm up. I brewed it a little extra time today so it is nice and thick. 7 pearls for 2 minutes (I usually do just 1 minute). It is thick and bold and malty. Some hints of cocoa, but a lot of sweet dark plum flavours. It is STRONG. And I need that today.
I declare today a tea day!
I, uh, decided to dump the whole packet in my timolino and cold steep all afternoon, but when I was ready to drink it, it was not steeped enough and was too weak. I knew I shoulda used a bit of hot water at the bottom first.
Oh well, this one is gone, but not forgotten. I do still like it, but I like the strawberry oolong best.
I purchased a sample size of this tea as I was unsure if I would like it. I am not the biggest fan of herbals but am always on the lookout for a good one that I can enjoy in the evenings. This was really good. I love blueberry and this tasted like a tart wild blueberry. I would definitely order this again if I make another Teavivre order.
Yep, definitely been struck down by one of Apollo’s plague arrows, not sure if this is just the worst cold ever or the flu, but I am stuck in bed with an all cold liquid diet. I guess it is really good that I love ginger ale and sherbet, fruit smoothies, and soup. Now I will take a break between dopey cold medicine hazes to update my blog, but don’t be too surprised if I am a bit silent over the weekend.
Today is the last of the Teavivre Spotlight Week (business week of course) and it is Fengqing Ripened Tribute Pu-erh Cake Tea 2013 a Shu Pu-erh made from tea plucked from 50-100 year old large leaf arbor trees in 2006. Lovingly ripened until 2013 in Fengqing, Yunnan. The aroma of this tea is leather and very earthy, like wet loam and a touch gamy. There is a sharp finish like pine needles, the leaves certainly have a strong aroma, though not an unpleasant one.
Once the leaves have been rinsed and quickly steeped the aroma is richly piney and mildly earthy, the leather and gamy quality from the dry leaves has been replaced with fresh pine wood and sweet sap and honey. The liquid has a faintly floral quality and strong notes of pine wood which gives it an underlying sweetness.
The first steep is quite delicate, blending aged orchid (if I was an exceptionally skilled cultivator of orchids I could pick out the specific orchid it reminds me of) that has been flowering for at least a day. It fades to loam and finishes with a slightly bready quality.
The aroma of the second steep is a blend of loam and pine wood with the barest touch of cocoa. The taste is rich and loamy with a bitterness reminiscent of autumn leaves and oak galls. It is the bitterness of earthiness and not astringent, unripe fruit. The aftertaste is mildly sweet.
For the third steeping the aroma is mostly loam with just a hint of pine wood, the aroma reminds me specifically of oak leaves, but I might have spent way too much of my life sniffing forest floors, it is part of mushroom hunting. The taste is a bit more mild than the previous steep blending leather and loam with only a hint of the previous steep’s bitterness, as before there was a sweet aftertaste.
The fourth and final (at least for me) steep has the aroma of loam and that is all. The taste is all loam and leather with strong earthy undertones. The sweetness of the previous steeps is gone and you are left with a forest floor. This is certainly a Pu-erh I would recommend to someone who wants a bold, earthy Pu-erh. This is probably not my favorite type of Pu-erh, but it well crafted and enjoyable.
Flavors: Honey, Leather, Loam, Orchids
It was only a couple years ago that I had my first taste of puerh. A lot of people seem a little freaked by the experience but I found it instantly accessible. At first I could only tell by taste if it was raw or ripe. Slowly I am beginning to grasp the wide range of flavor of each. This one gets my award as the best aroma ever from the dry leaf. It is hay, green tea, and citrus. Really nice. The steeped leaf is minty, anise, citrus, and deep green steamed vegetal. Again, really nice. The sip reveals the youth of this cake. It is not the bright metallic taste I usually expect. This is dusty and musty. The taste is very earthy like fresh clean damp soil. It reminds me of digging potatoes as a kid with my dad. So mega-points for memory association. I very much enjoyed this cup and look forward to seeing how it changes with age.
And I get to end the day with a sipdown!
This one is from my steep sister, Sil, & I have no idea what my current tea count is, probably 320 or something absurd like that (better that 400 + that it was a month ago!)
Confession: I really like tuochas. They are adorable & I’m a fan of things that are cute sized/shaped. So there!
Although this is not a bad puerh, as in fishy or ammonia-like, it does have a strong peat moss kind of quality, & is rather woodsy. I’m not complaining, but it’s certainly not as sweet as smooth as some of the Shu’s I’ve tried. The 2nd steeping is definitely nice & more developed than the first, & if I wasn’t heading out the door in a minute, I’d go for a third.
Maybe when I get home…
I am so very glad that I take notes in my tea notebook and that I tasted the teas I wanted to for this week, because yours truly has decided to catch some sort of nastiness. Either it is a cold, pharyngitis, or allergies (or my immune system playing some perverse game with me), whatever it is I feel awful and I would like it to go away. Sadly this does put a bit of a damper on my enjoyment of tea because my throat is so sore, when tea causes pain to sip you know you are in for a bad day. Luckily my brain seems to be functioning normally, so I can’t complain too much.
Today’s Teavivre tea is Nonpareil Yunnan Dian Hong Chinese Red Black Tea, a Dian Hong without an equal, that is what the Nonpareil part of the name means. Hailing from Yunnan (It seems to be this week’s true theme) and plucked March of 2013, this tea is one of the most famous of China’s red (or black, your preference) teas. The aroma is quite sweet and fruity, a blend of cherries and stewed plums with a little whiff of cinnamon. There are also notes of molasses and a delicate floral finish that smells like violets. The floral note is very faint, reminiscent of a breeze carrying the aroma of flowers from a distant field.
Once the tea is brewed it keeps its stewed plums (and a touch of prunes) and adds a strong note of cocoa, there is also a faint hint of molasses. It smells quite sweet and a bit decadent. The aroma has a warmth to it that is pleasant. The liquid sans the leaf has a honey sweet aroma with a blend of creamy cocoa and light caramelized sugar.
The first steep of this tea has a very fruity flavor blending plums and prunes with a slightly sharp fruity note. Think sharp like the taste of a berry, though there is not a distinct berry taste, just the sensation. There is also a strong cocoa note that fades to a honey sweetness. In a word, tasty!
The aroma of the leaves for the second steep have a strong aroma of honey, cocoa, and plum fruit. The liquid is a sweet blend of indistinguishable fruit and flowers with a finish of honey. The taste is a delicious blend of fruit, honey, and cocoa with a finish of roasted peanuts. The peanut tastes lingers for a sweet and slightly roasted aftertaste.
For the third and final steep I notice that the wet leaves have a slightly spicy aroma similar to the dry leaves, with notes of cocoa and honey. The liquid is faintly sweet with a delicate note of fruit and a slight creaminess. The taste is richly cocoa with a hint of spice and a finish of fruit. The cocoa note is the strongest this time while the others are faint. This tea is mellow, sweet, and enjoyable, some of my favorite qualities in a black tea. The plum flavor and aroma give it a uniqueness that I found very enjoyable.
Flavors: Cocoa, Honey, Plums
This is from the european teabox. I removed a small sample from this, enough for a couple cups and sadly I ruined my first try (too hot water I think). This second cup suffered perhaps a smidgen from too little leaf, but I managed to not torture it this time!
It is a weirdly pale tea (too little leaf maybe), but with a lot of character. It´s weirdly thick, body-ish, and very very veggie. I get no bitterness at all, but I went coooooollll with its brewing temperature. Very lovely.
I had quite the spider related adventure yesterday, sitting at my desk I noticed a leggy specimen scuttling up the curtain, so I snagged a jar and popped it in. Turns out I had no idea what this spider was, it had legs like a crab spider and the body of a baby fishing spider and the coloring of a fishing spider. I was stumped so I posted photos on facebook which made my mom and grandmother worried it was a brown recluse (I live in the Brown Recluse Belt apparently, yikes) and I was pretty sure it wasn’t (what with it being black and gray and not matching in other aspects) but to be sure I posted photos of it on Bug Guide, a great place to get mystery buggies and arachnids identified. They were able to ID him as the Running Crab Spider (I knew those legs looked crabby!) from the family Philodromidae. I think that my basement lair will be seeing a lot more spiders as it warms up.
Today’s tea only has one thing in common with spiders, they both are found in trees. Fengqing Arbor Tree Ripened Puerh Cake Tea 2010 is made from the leaves of arbor trees that are 50-100 years old, I find that pretty awesome. Hailing from the Puerh home of Yunnan, China, this tea was picked in 2008 and given a nice dry storage for two years. The aroma of these compressed leaves has a great blend of loam, wet pine wood, and leather. There is a sweetness about the leaves that resembles sap, specifically pine sap, and a touch of caramelized sugar. I think my favorite thing about Puerh tea is how they seem to frequently remind me of forests, this one has a forest floor quality.
Once the tea is given a double rinse (first time I have ever done that) and steeped the aroma is much sweeter with notes of caramelized sugar and molasses with warm woody quality and a finish of loam. The liquid also has a sweet quality with notes of cocoa and molasses, and finishes on a warm loam and earthy notes.
The first steeping starts off quite strong with a mix of earthiness and loam. The midtaste is like leather and a hint of pine wood. The finish is molasses like and has a sweet aftertaste. This tea has a very smooth start and is quite tasty.
The aroma of the leaves for the second steeping is sweet and loamy, there is a tiny hint of mushroom at the finish really tying in the forest floor imagery in my head. The liquid also is quite loamy but it also has notes of pine wood and leather. The taste is quite strong, rich leather and loam with a warm finish of pine sap that leaves a lingering sweetness in the mouth.
For the third steep the aroma of the leaves is all loam all the time, it is very foresty and quite nice. The liquid however is mostly pine themed, with a blend of wet pine wood and pine needles. The taste of this steep has a bit of bitterness, a bitter earthiness to be exact, but it fades to loam pretty quickly. The aftertaste is sweet and piney.
I should apologize, according to Teavivre’s website this tea can be steeped up to eleven times, but I only got to four because yours truly decided to leave the tea lair for a snack and then promptly got distracted and then fell asleep. I was going to start all over and redo the steepings today, but with my throat being so sore I worry I could not do it justice. The aroma of the leaves is much the same as the previous steeping, as is the aroma of the liquid. The taste however has much stronger pine qualites giving it a woody sweetness that is fantastic. I have become rather enamored of Puerh tea that tastes like a pine forest and strongly recommend this tea if you are a fan of all things pine. I can certainly see this tea lasting for much longer.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Leather, Loam, Pine, Wood
Thank u to Teavivre for this sample!!! This has a lovely creamy scent. There is a tiny tiny hint of floral and I like the floral being subtle. The floral notes are mainly when you breathe out and not in the flavor.
Small cleansing amount of astringency.
The creamy “milk” flavor really comes out as the tea cools a bit. This is a lovely and balanced Jin Xuan!!!
Flavors: Cream, Flowers
Thank you to Teavivre for this sample!!
Delicious , slightly creamy and floral. I do catch a subtle amount of roastiness but it is moderate as the title says. There is also a cleansing astringency if you steep it longer. I thought three minutes was perfect and then I steeped the tea for one more minute and I wished I had stopped at three minutes but that’s why I like to taste at every minute when I am sampling so I learn!! :)
The aroma of this tea is smelling so lovely!!!!!!!!
Flavors: Cream, Flowers
I have never had a tea that changed so radically with a change in water. My mom was up last night and she always says she can taste my water when I steep tea for her. So I did this for us with bottled water, refrigerator cold level, heated to boiling. Allowed to cool about 45 seconds then steeped 8 balls in 16 ounces of water for about 5 minutes.
The very first, immediate flavor I got was a faceful of brown sugar. Sweet, dense, sticky brown sugar. Not even caramel but brown sugar. Then the next flavor that hit me in the face was the alcohol malt. Both Mom & I sat and snuffled into our cups, trying to identify the smell we both were finding strongly but couldn’t name. All of a sudden it hit me – it was like inhaling in a warm summer room where malt alcohol has been spilled for years. Wood infused with malt.
Then I took it into work today to share with Tea Coworker. Hot water from filtered system, put into microwave and heated to just below boiling. 12 balls for 24 ounces. Steeped about 5 minutes. Didn’t get any brown sugar and the malt wasn’t as strong, but it was still more present than my first steeping with tap water and at a slightly lower temperature. We both still liked it a lot and Tea Coworker said it was a pretty amazing tea. But I want to try again here at home to reproduce the second set of parameters – that was truly the most amazing result.
Edit: just realized that I never wrote a note for the first steeping. Oops. The first steeping was malty, cocoa-y and very good. It was done at 190F with tap water and for about 3.5 minutes. Nothing super awesome, but good enough. Glad I tried again though with different water, temp and time – it revealed something beyond good enough. :)
Well it finally happened, I saw the inevitable coming for months now, but it seems the end has finally arrived. My iron has kicked the bucket. Of course it decided to die in the middle of fusing a massive project (luckily it was for myself and not for my shop or worse, a custom order) so my epic tea mat is fused unevenly. It is frustrating but salvageable (I think) when I am able to get a new iron (no idea when that will be, curse you lack of money!!) but I am mostly frustrated because I was feeling inspired to make some awesome perler creations and mini hama creations and now I can’t. Darn. Ah well, at least I still have my origami stars and of course tea to occupy myself with.
Today’s tea from Teavivre is Fengqing Zhuan Cha Raw Puerh Brick Tea 2005 and has the honor of being the oldest Puerh that I have tried. This lovely tea hails from the land of Yunnan, China, an area that is famous for its tea (especially Puerh), it is made from 30-40 year old large leaf arbor tea trees and was picked between May and June of 2005. The aroma of the dry and compressed leaves is sweet like pine wood, loam, and vegetation. It smells like a forest in late summer, mixing abundant growth and decay, humidity and wood. It is a wonderful smell for someone who spent many a day like that deep in a forest drinking up the various aromas that nature provides. I think the best teas are the one’s whose taste or aroma transport you to a place in your memory. Poetic waxing aside, there is a finish of peanuts and cocoa that is extremely faint, almost the ghost of a smell.
Once I rinse and give the leaves a brief steeping the aroma becomes a blend of cooked spinach, rich oak loam, sweet old hay, and a touch of barnyard. This tea took a walking tour of the forest and walked into a farm, a fascinating transition. The liquid is sweet hay in both appearance and aroma, with a sprinkling of pine needles giving it a slightly sharp green and pine sap aroma as well.
Ok, I hope you all are ready because I got a whopping seven steepings out of this tea and I took notes on them all! The first steeping is nothing short of fascinating (I feel I will use this word a lot with this tea) the mouthfeel is thick, not oily, but thick. It feels like with each sip my mouth fills with saliva along with the tea, it is an odd sensation but not unpleasant. The initial taste is faint, like old straw, but by the time it reaches the midtaste it picks up notes of spinach and peanuts. The aftertaste is bold and lingers leaving the taste of faintly sweet peanuts and mild vegetal.
The second steeping has a powerfully vegetal aroma, mixing cooked spinach and beans, it took me a moment to place the specific bean but to me it smells like lima beans. There is also the loam and forest aroma from previously. The liquid, well in my notebook I wrote ‘it smells like hay and liquid gold joy’, I still think it is an accurate description. The taste is still a blend of peanuts, cooked spinach and lima beans, but there is a sourness, like a hint of tamarind, which certainly makes me salivate a lot. It fades to a subtle sweetness at the end.
Third time around the aroma of the leaves and liquid is much the same as the second, except there is a honey quality to the liquid that was not there previously. The taste is a blend of old hay and lima beans with a slightly metallic quality. The midtaste is vegetal like cooked spinach and the aftertaste is sweet and like fresh hay.
The fourth steeping’s leaves are mildly vegetal and fresh hay, not as potent as the previous steeps but still full of aromas. The liquid is honey sweet and fresh hay, golden and pretty. This steep was pretty interesting, there is a bitterness that was not present before, vegetal qualities of lima beans and cooked spinach, it is quite the savory veggie broth. The mouthfeel has gone back to being thick, like the first steep, and the aftertaste is like loam.
The fifth steeping has a faint vegetal and mild, slightly sweet hay aroma to its wet leaves, the liquid has very little aroma, just a hint of sweetness and hay. The taste is initially sweeter, it fades to a sweet vegetal decay (it sounds gross, but think Black Trumpet mushrooms, so yummy) and hay. It now has a dry mouthfeel and sourness to it that lasts into the aftertaste.
The sixth steeping’s leaves have only the aroma of faint vegetal left, the liquid is the same as last steep, faint and barely there. This is the first time the tea starts to loose its footing, it is starting to taste watery with hints of lima beans, spinach, and hay. The aftertaste is faintly sour.
The final steeping is truly the finished tea, there is very little aroma left at all, just the ghost of previous scents. The taste is faint honey sweet hay and a hint of sourness, that is all. This tea was fascinating, I am not really sure I liked it, but I did certainly enjoy the experience. I spent the entire day with this tea and I do not regret it, especially since it gave me a little golden piece of summer.
Flavors: Lima Beans
I respect all the work that goes into preparing this beautiful tea! I love the luxuriously long leaves with their deep green color!!!!!!!!!
There is a light pea flavor and maybe potato and slight green bean flavor. It has a tiny hint of clover flower in the spring but an ever so tiny amount.
Thank you Teavivre for this gorgeous sample and will definitely be getting some of this tea in the future!!
Flavors: Green Beans, Peas, Potato
Continuing the Battle of the Milk Oolongs from yesterday, I’m going with this one today. The sample is courtesy of Angel, which I very muchly appreciate!
Compared to the Della Terra one I had yesterday, this one is on the floral side and not as buttery. Rather, it’s fresher and lighter. I know this sounds contradictory, but even though I always look for that luscious creaminess in a milk oolong—so the creamier/more buttery the better—overall, I prefer this one over previous milk oolongs because it’s fresher and lighter, and lacks that heavy butteriness. Maybe this is a sign that I simply prefer lighter floral oolongs over milk oolongs? Who knows.
Simply put, this is a dainty floralesque milk oolong. It’s beautiful, but like yesterday, I’ll reserve rating until I’ve tried all the milk oolongs sitting around. Thanks, Angel!
Thanks again to Angel and Teavivre for providing me with these samples for review!
I am still fairly new to puerh, and sheng/raw style in particular. I have only tasted a handful. Luckily they have all been very high quality GOOD teas. However, I already very much feel like I know what I personally am looking for in a raw puerh and this one delivers! It has SO much energy! It is sweet but also has a bright fruity TANGY zing that I just love. I would say this is a close 2nd to my very top favorite sheng of all time, the Mandala Wild Monk cake. If you are a fan of that, you may like this one very much. This one has less of a smokey taste for sure. Almost no smoke element in this tea.
I am going to savor the rest of my sample and put more of this on my shopping list ASAP! :)
I love the speckled color of the leaves. Beautiful Earth tones of cream, brown, moss, ash. Then after brewing, the leaves open up and present even more assorted color.
The liquor is a golden color with sweet Moscato wine scent & stewed fruits.
The flavor has malt, sorghum, cereal, touch of almond milk. There is no tannin or astringency and I like that about Oriental Beauty.
I have a beautiful purple Zisha Yixing for this tea that I am getting ready to season. I love it.
I love the legends about the Queen and the braggart farmer. I love the lower brew temperature. I love that the leaf hopper (tea jassid) gets to enjoy his breakfast and bite the leaves to add some of the particular flavors.
Everything about this tea is beauty and this one from Teavivre is very delicious!!
Flavors: Honey, Malt, Stewed Fruits
I made this one to have with some gluten free scones this morning (which came out really tasty!). It seemed like it would be a good pairing , because the leaves of this tea are very dark in color, almost completely black, with just a few streaks of brown. Another thing I noticed, as I was scooping it, was that the leaves are very very skinny and brittle.
The dry leaf doesn’t smell like much, mostly just that toasted almond-y orange pekoe smell. The brew, however, smells quite good—I’m getting chocolate and honey and a little hay. I didn’t sweeten it at all, just had it straight and black (which is, as I understand, how you’re supposed to enjoy Chinese blacks?). I do have to say, though, that even though I know the Chinese call black tea “red,” this doesn’t really look red to me, lol. Oh well. Not criticizing, just observing. Anyway, it was rather a smooth cup going down, great for if I’m looking for something a little nondescript. Thank you, Angel, for the sample!
Flavors: Chocolate, Honey
This is my second sample of Tan Yang Gong Fu from one of Teavivre’s black tea sample packs. Wow, this tea surprised me this time. It has a smooth, sweet taste reminiscent of caramel, with an accompanying satisfying faint aroma. I had a hard time sipping instead of gulping. Very pleasant tea, I’d highly recommend it.