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Recent Tasting Notes


Unbeknown to me, I had similar teas when I was a little kid. I remembered hating it. I grew up in and still live in Hong Kong. All the Chinese / Cantonese restaurants here would serve their customers teas in grandpa style. Now I that start exploring black teas, I just figure out some upscale restaurants serve high grade Keemun tea.

This is one of the promotional discounted teas I ordered from Teavivre.

Brew guide provided by Teavivre: 1 tablespoon for 17oz of water at 90’c (194’f) for 2 to 5 minutes

Since I didn’t want a big pot of brewed tea sitting around for hours, I only made a small cup.

This tea was very smoky. At first sniff, I smelt roasted chestnut. Then I got tastes of lightly roasting dried seaweed and tobacco. No wonder my little kid self hated it. This tea just took me back to my childhood. Now as an almost grown up, I can appreciate its strong characters.

I found the first steep too smoky for my taste. To me, the aftertaste was like I just finished smoking a cigarette. My colleague loved it though.

I preferred the second steep.

Flavors: Astringent, Chestnut, Seaweed, Smoke, Tobacco

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec 3 g 6 OZ / 180 ML

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This tea is so amazing! I was greeted with an explosion of gold dust upon opening this tea. The scent from these curly gold twirls was spectacular! It was a sweet and caramel like scent. I brewed these beauties up gongfu. I placed them in my warmed gaiwan. I was getting the aroma of sweet red potatoes from my brewing vessel. I washed these treasures once and prepared for brewing. The steeped leaves smell of baked bread and malt. The flavor is delicious. This rusted red liquor tastes of malt, dark wood, and buckwheat honey. This brew is more deeper and bold than I thought it would be. Instead of caramel, silky tones I received wooded and hearty. I am in no way complaining. I needed something with some punch to wake me up. This is a beautiful Dianhong, and I am so happy to have tried it.


Flavors: Baked Bread, Caramel, Dark Wood, Honey, Malt, Smooth, Sweet Potatoes

190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Decent milk oolong. Liquid smells caramel. Very light and unobtrusive .
Caramel doesn’t transfer to taste, which is good if you ask me.

Flavors: Caramel

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This is my last tea for the night. I haven’t had white tea in awhile, and I remembered that I had this. The dry leaf looks a little darker. This tea resembles more of a tarnished silver rather than a silver. However, I don’t judge tea solely on appearance. I decided to brew these little needles in my glassware. I used cool (175F) water to brew it up. The liquor was a pale glistening white gold. The taste was incredibly sweet. This brew begins with a dry hay and melon flavor and then smooths out to sweet and honeysuckle. This helped calm me down before bed. it was nice to revisit white tea again.

Flavors: Hay, Honeysuckle, Melon, Nectar, Sweet

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 15 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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This was an incredible tea session! I opened my package to reveal these massive forest green nuggets. These beauties carried a creamy watercress scent. I placed them in my warmed gaiwan and shook them up. I removed the lid and took in a fantastic aroma. The warmed leaf smelled exactly like apple oatmeal. It was unbelievable! I knew that this would be a treat. I washed the leaf once and prepared for gongfu brewing. The steeped leaves gave off a complex fuji apple and pear scent. The liquor was a pale translucent jade. The taste was phenomenal! It was a heavy soup with a creamy finish. I could taste butter beans wrapped in magnolia nectar. The aftertaste was sweet with a warming sugared undertone. The leaves are massive! This session began in my gaiwan, and then I moved to my Zisha. Afterwards, the leaves continued to expand, so I moved to my cha hai and brewed grandpa style. The flavor became more floral and more sweet. I loved this so much. I was tea drunk and laughing throughout the session.



Flavors: Apple, Butter, Flowers, Nectar, Oats, Pear, Sweet

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g

Wow. That sounds impressive!


I loved it :) This will be a definite top 5 oolong for me.

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Good morning fellow tea lovers! This is my morning brew. I’ve gotten a lot of this stuff, and I’ve been meaning to try it out.

The dry leaf resembles a more fragile and darker jin jun mei. These small ebony curls give off a dry currant and baked bread scent. I brewed them up gongfu. I placed a generous fluffy amount (the tea feels soft and silky) into my warmed gaiwan and gave it a shake. The aroma was sweet, yet it was also very dark and crisp. I washed them once and began brewing. The flavor is very heavy. This is a bold black. This still has the yunnan sweet tones, but it leans more towards the malt. I get a lot of dark wood, stain, and baked bread. The most overpowering flavor was that of wood. There is a light honey tone present in this brew. The liquor is a vibrant blood red. I enjoyed this tea, and it did a great job in waking me up. I would use this as an everyday black.


Flavors: Baked Bread, Dark Wood, Honey, Malt

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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again, I can’t help but fish out a similar black from my cupboard to taste beside this sample! so out came my Pure Gold black tea.

disclaimer: I do not usually steep gongfu but that should change soon.

they both looked the same, more or less, with this Superfine looking just a bit more golden. they both smelled nice too! (sigh)

first steep: Pure Gold tasted sweet (have to admit that to my simple tastebuds that is almost always the first flavor that i notice, lol) and Superfine, it was also good..

after a couple more steepings, I can say that this has stronger cocoa notes and yes this is a stronger tea than the other but it is just right. It is my first Tan Yang and so I probably shouldn’t compare it with a Yunnan? anyways, I gotta lot more learning to do on Chinese blacks XD

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I thought Dragon Pearls would be bigger coz of the name but it is the same size as my other Jasmine Pearl…steeped side by side with equal amounts.

i read that it is better to steep green tea by soaking them in a bit of regular temp water then adding the warm water later so i tried that here and behold, it was perfect. haha

my other pearl has a stronger flavor but in the 3rd steeping, the delicateness of Teavivre’s Dragon shone through like a beam of light and suddenly, the other pearls I’ve tried seemed too strong.

sipping this tea is like sipping the flower itself! and God knows that throughout my life, i have held many a jasmine flower to my nose until it was all squished up so i should know!

I wonder what it will be like to brew this with hotter water? I was pretty conservative with the temp for these greens.


I just read recently an opinion that high quality Chinese teas can and should be steeped with higher temperature water to bring out the true flavors. The author thought that since we have tended to have lower quality teas available in the west, the lower temps are needed to overcome the inadequacies, but truly high quality tea needs higher temps. An interesting thought. I have always stuck with the lower temps for greens and whites but I admit that I don’t buy a lot of greens and they are probably not the best quality when I do. The known high quality whites I get from Shang don’t suffer at all from higher temps though so that makes me curious to try a high quality green that way.


I was also thinking that quality leaves can be steeped at higher temp :) However both got bitter. Teavivre’s got just a bit more bitter so i just mixed the two of them to balance out and put them on cold steep (end of experiment) Sorry I am not too scientific about it – my thermometer broke and I have no way to measure temp.


Yeah, I would put Teavivre in the high quality category. Likely, the real truth is variable depending on growing season, processing, etc. And I rarely measure temp accurately. I heat to boiling and then let cool till I think it’s good. :) Not very scientific and not easily repeatable but I tend to drink forgiving teas. :)


These are the smallest pearls I have seen from Teavivre. Premium Jasmine Dragon Pearl is a little larger, and their Black Dragon Pearls are much larger!

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Brewed this one at work with high high expectations because of its smell.

This just turns out to be an average keemun and the leaf is a bit smaller than others I have seen (which doesn’t equate to taste always)

note I went from Wild Crafted Dianhong by Whispering Pines to this within a matter of an hour so just imagine the the unfair comparison :p

Louise Li

I just placed an order for this tea. I would pretend that you wrote a raving review.

Liquid Proust

Your taste Your taste may differ from mine. It’s always good to cross reference other steepser’s notes if you are super curious of a tea.

Louise Li

Yes, it is quite possible we have very different taste in tea.
I drink lots of coffee, and am trained to have a palate for coffee tasting. In the world of coffee, any taste of fermentation would be considered a defect. So I can’t stand pu’eh (apologies to all pu’eh lovers).

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I finished this off this morning before heading to work. It was somewhat savoury and a bit malty, but otherwise it didn’t make a big impression on me. Maybe I’m just not a Keemun kinda gal?

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I think I’ve had this tea before, but I never logged it.

Today was a pretty awesome day and I’ll explain why in my next tasting note, but suffice it to say that I wanted to start things off with a breakfast that would be heavy enough to last into the early afternoon until the real day’s eating began. So I whipped together one of my favourites that I make when I have the time: a slice of toast topped with hummus, fried mushrooms, and a fried egg. What’s even better is that we had roasted garlic hummus in the house! Beauty.

I wanted a tea that would complement the flavours in my breakfast, and I thought this would do the trick since Keemuns tend to be grainy and savoury.

Not a bad choice, as it turns out. 3 tsps in my 3-cup teapot, 90C water, 3 minutes, and I got a nice amber liquor with notes of malt and raisin. I didn’t get the “grain” note I was expecting, but it was malty, savoury, and strong enough that it wasn’t overpowered by my food.

As a bonus, I probably have just enough left for a cup or two, so this will make an easy sipdown.

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Had a gongfu session. Prepared with a ceramic gaiwan. 5 second rinse. Steeping times from Teavivre’s website: 25 sec, 25, 30, 40, 60, 90, 120, 180.

I had a odd experience with the dry leaf aroma: it was vegetal like sencha, but after a letting the leaf sit in the bowl for a minute or so, I smelled orange juice. I’m pretty sure of it… It’s not I’ve had orange juice as of late.

Well, the aroma of the leaf – from the rinse – goes back to Taiwanese oolong. Ah, summer flowers. ‘Tis mid-summer, the day of Lughnasadh. You can’t go wrong with an Alishan oolong, for it’s essence is summer. The wet leaf aroma – which follows the first infusions – reflects the fact that these leaves came from a tree called “Jin Xuan tea tree”: the notes are quite milky.

When I read this, while waiting for the water to heat, my insides winced. Jin Xuan makes me feel a little ill. But this tea isn’t called Jin Xuan.

The leaf yields a light green gold liquor, which is clear and full-bodied, and has a thick mouthfeel. The floral notes are consistent and delicate. In the middle of the session, berry notes comet through – strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, and other goodies. Nothing other than flowers and fruits.

I wouldn’t call this everyday per se – in no way it’s so pedestrian. But it is something one can drink every day, to relax with all year around. Agreeable and pleasant, this isn’t something I’d tire of easily.

195 °F / 90 °C 7 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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This has that typical green oolong profile, but it’s not as flagrantly orchid or honeysuckle (or whatever that note I can’t stand is) as some. It doesn’t taste super milky or creamy in comparison to other green oolongs I’ve had, but it is very smooth. It almost reminds me of some Chinese greens in its hints of nut—mao feng, maybe? Given my bias against green oolongs, this is much nicer than I thought it would be (though still not something I want to purchase). I think I got this from someone at one of the NYC meet-ups, back in the day.

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Thank you, Liquid Proust! This is a good Tie Guan Yin that comes pretty close to one of my favorites. Orchid, grass, some cream, and a dash of butter is what I get with almost every steep, more so in the second. There is a little bit of sweetness if you drink it very carefully. It also has a really solid mouth feel for me until the last steep. I got three out of this one doing western style. Pretty good, and solid. Just one level too light for me. I’d recommend to almost anyone though.

Flavors: Butter, Cream, Grass, Orchid, Vegetal

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 207 ML

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Salty, hay and mineral aroma from the brewed tea.

Savoury roasted flavour. Light matcha-like note. Medium mouth-feel.

Boiling 2 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 13 OZ / 375 ML

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note to self: when steeping 2 similar looking teas side by side, unbox teas in separate areas. i almost mixed up this one and the heavily roasted! but thank goodness, i can see the slight difference in color as this was just the teeniest bit greener. the color of the brewed tea did show that i was right – and i had put this in my white teapot while the other in my brown kyusu (haha, sorry purists, it was the only other pot i had available!)

on to the taste: like i have read, i fall under the majority preferring lightly/moderately roasted! thank you Teavivre for helping me figure this one out with your nice teas!
this one is naturally sweet but i need to steep it longer (for a minute or so) vs my usual less than a minute steep to get my desired strength but it’s all good coz the instructions say 1-3 minutes. and freshly boiled water (some oolongs need lower temperature and shorter steeps to avoid getting bitter but apparently the really good quality ones like this allow/need higher temp and longer steeps).

edit: i think cold steep can work nicely with quality oolongs..imna try it with these two (heavily and moderately roasted) soon!

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oolongs are harder to steep, i think! i like that it doesnt get bitter so easily and i can steep it over a minute no problem. but maybe not for 3 coz it does get every slightly bitter along the way. i got more of the tgy taste in this one but like the sweetness of the lightly roasted oolong more :)

on the other hand…the flavor of this remains for more steeps. i think i will enjoy this more gongfu style or shorter more frequent steeps

I recommend mixing these two organic nonpareil oolongs (heavily and moderately roasted) together in later steeps to mix the deep and sweet flavors if you are steeping them side by side just for fun :)

edit: i have just tried a reserve oolong and wondered how such an expensive tea can taste so meh. but i had no other teas on me the whole day i was out and thank God, it started to turn sweeter! ah, tea discoveries! so…im gonna try to steep these two lovely iron goddesses again and see how far i can go with them!

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This Silver Needle has made me want to start trying more white teas. I haven’t tried a lot, but the ones I’ve had, I didn’t really care for. They seemed too light…not enough flavor. This one, I’m really liking though. I’m getting a lot of hay in scent and taste. It’s creamy and a little sweet. Something else, I think might be soy milk….it’s been a while since I’ve had any, but I’m pretty sure that’s what it reminds me of.

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Pretty excited that I got a Dianhong for Christmas in July :)
Not sure if I am suppose to disclose who got me this…

Anyways, this does not have the furryness to and it is more of a darker leaf which made me curious as to the taste. I’m not sure exactly how the process works with dianhong teas in generally, but this is missing out on the velvet taste that happens all around my mouth with other dianhong teas. This is more of a very smooth black tea. While it will be my breakfast tea for quite awhile as I really enjoy how well it goes down, as a dianhong tea I am missing out on the natural cocoa notes that go down with some sort of texture I can’t touch but I can taste… I’m sure this is fantastic for those who enjoy their straight blacks :)

p.s. no tea will have an easy shot to impress me after the Imperial Golden Bud from Whispering Pines :/

Liquid Proust

@boychik “was it Yunnan Dian Hong Golden tip or Yunnan Dian Hong black? on IG you mention that its golden tip”

It was a Dian Hong golden tip

Daylon R Thomas

I kinda wish I got that instead of the ounce of North Winds. It was a free sample, and I wanted more of it, but no, I had to savor it. I liked it more because it was stronger to me than the North Winds Gongfu style.

Daylon R Thomas

Or well, more flavorful.


Merry Christmas :)

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So this came with the flavored sample set that I mostly wanted to try the jasmine teas contained within. This is the oolong with the added flavoring, rather than the unflavored Jin Xuan oolong. Upon opening the pouch, there is mostly certainly a candy sweet fragrance! With the unflavored Jin Xuan, I can’t really taste much of the qualities that make it a milk oolong. That sweet flavor makes itself known mostly in the first steep, slowly fading after that. The leaves are very dark green. The leaves unravel very fast, already filling the infuser with the first steep. I used an entire sample pouch (two teaspoons) but it seems like the flavor was stronger than necessary with each steep (even with one minute steeps). So I’d also recommend trying this tea with one teaspoon or one and a half teaspoons and/or with lower temperatures. I didn’t ruin the flavor too much, but I know it could have been better with proper parameters. Otherwise, the flavor is milky and candy sweet with hints of butter and some type of fruit – possibly pineapple. This oolong is alright, but I know that Teavivre has better options.
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons // few minutes after boiling // rinse // 1 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 1 min
Steep #3 // 3 minutes after boiling // 1 min
Harvest: 2014
Ah! I won one of the $8 gift cards. Very excited about that! Good luck to everyone else!



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I put 10g of this into a gaiwan to steep. That was a bad idea – I should have just stuck to using half that.

Here’s why:


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I wanted to try this white tea with the same parameters as I tried the Nonpareil a while ago. Though it might be way too far back for me to compare these two. The leaves are huge and there are a TON in a 5 gram sample. They have such a strong scent for a dry leaf – very surprising for a white tea. I can’t really tell a noticeable difference in flavor from this one and the Nonpareil (though that was months ago that I tried it.) The first cup is mostly mellow dried grass. Maybe I say “mellow” because it also reminds me of lemony marshmallows, if that exists. Maybe cotton flavored, in the best possible way. These are flavor notes I typically find in a white tea! These flavors intensify with the second steep! A nice white tea but I adore the Jasmine white.
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for a mug (about half of a 5 grams pouch) // 40 minutes after boiling // rinse // 1 minute steep
Steep #2 // 30 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Harvest: 2015

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I love floral teas but prior to this, I’d never had osmanthus scented tea nor did I know what it’s supposed to taste like. The dry teaball has a rather unpleasant hay smell and if you steep it with boiling water as Teavivre instructs, you end up with a bitter and astringent brew.

So the next time I made this tea, I used 170 to 180 F water and it turned out much better. The hay odor thankfully didn’t make it to the brewed tea and I was able to pick up a subtle floral flavor which really shines through though on the 2nd infusion (I got 3 infusions in total out of 1 tea ball). While enjoyable, I was expecting a more flowery tasting tea and the osmanthus flavor was too mellow for my liking.

I made this side by side today with an osmanthus green oolong and the oolong was the hands down winner. The natural floral notes in the oolong pair better with the osmanthus than the vegetal green tea.

Still, this tea was tasty iced and fun to watch bloom in a glass teapot.

Flavors: Hay, Osmanthus, Vegetal

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 8 OZ / 236 ML

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If you like Teavana’s fruity teas, you will enjoy this blend. It tastes like a hibiscus spiked fruit punch. The hibiscus is clearly the dominant flavor in the brewed tea and if you drink it straight, that’s all you will taste. Although I don’t usually don’t sweeten my tea, this one does benefit with the addition of a little sugar. It tempers the sourness of the hibiscus and brings out the other fruit flavors, which aren’t really discernable on their own but meld together nicely. If chilled, this would make a fantastic iced tea.

Flavors: Fruit Punch, Hibiscus

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 5 OZ / 147 ML

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