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Recent Tasting Notes
This is one of the free samples that Teavivre recently sent me and I brewed it up this morning at work. I don’t tend to go for teabags or pyramid bags, but I have heard good things about Teavivre pyramid bags, and I love any chance to try shu, especially in a convenient form. Unfortunately, I seem to be contracting the beaus illness so I am not in peak tasting form. I do think that my sense of taste and smell are both still good at the moment though.
There aren’t any reviews on this one yet (what?!) an the brewing directions were quite lengthy (9-12 minutes) so I am winging it. I used boiling water, and I think it got maybe 2 or 3, MAYBE 4 minutes. That is more than I would typically have done for a shou pu but it looked at first like there wasn’t that much leaf in there. That was deceptive though, as it has expanded to fill about 3/4 of the bag.
Despite the lengthy steep time (IMO) this is not too strong. No bitterness or mustiness. Still bold, earthy, and with a smoke note. I don’t notice any rose, but it does remind me of wood fires. My house is heated by wood furnace, so I’m pretty familiar with that. :) I’ve saved the bag so I can steep it throughout the day and I’ll update if anything new and radical comes about. This is a really nice easy drinking shou, even if it isn’t terribly complex. It gets sweeter as it cools as well, maybe that is the rose.
Flavors: Earth, Smoke
Thank you to Angel at TeaVivre for this sample!
I have had a few different TGY. Several for me have ended up tasting bitter and not very pleasant to my taste buds. The few that I have gotten right have been wonderful. This tea immediately goes into the wonderful category. I have been sipping on this tea all afternoon with no hints of bitterness. It is sweet and floral. As the infusions go on I get a creamy texture and hints of peach. I have done about 7 or 8 infusions and this tea is still giving! Thanks again TeaVivre for so many wonderful offerings. This is another one that will stay on the wish list!
I want to start of by saying I am not a green tea drinker as I usually lean towards black or Pu-erh. I also stay away from floral teas as I am usually very sensitive to floral notes. Given all that, I still really wanted to try this tea after hearing/reading great reviews about the subtlety of jasmine notes. After opening the sample packet I saw nice tightly balled pearls with a sweet subtle jasmine aroma. I brewed a 2tsp per 16 oz with first steep of 2 min. Tea was a pale golden yellow/green color and you could smell the jasmine as I poured. Mouth feel was smooth and no trace of bitterness some green teas inherently have. Unlike many reviewers I found the Jasmine to be very strong and almost overwhelming, my boyfriend, who was also sampling felt it was very strong as well although not as overwhelming as I did, He described the jasmine notes as more of a strong forerunner in flavor rather than an subtle undertone . The second and third steep mellowed out the flavor a little more and it wasn’t overwhelming to me any longer however it was still very strong. Overall the tea was good, just maybe not the best for me-being so sensitive to florals. I would have to do a little more experimenting with exactly how much tea to use so that my first steep doesn’t end up so strong.
I was very interested in trying this Pu-erh and received it as a sample to try out. I was surprised at how large the tangerine peel chunks were in this blend, and it smelled very sweet and full of citrus. I used half the sample packet and steeped for 8 minutes. The color was a smooth brown with a tint of blood orange. The tea was smooth and hints of cocoa with a very faint citrus aftertaste. The overall flavor was weak and i think I ended up with much more citrus peel than tea in my first steep so I decided to add the rest of the sample for the second steep for a stronger flavor. The second steep had a much stronger earthy cocoa flavor with a smooth citrus flavor coming through at the end. I should have started out with the full sample, or at least more than my original steep. I enjoyed the unique flavor this tea had it was a nice change to the everyday non flavored pu-er choices available. Yum Yum
Flavors: Citrus Fruits, Citrusy, Cocoa
This is a household favorite for myself and my boyfriend. It is what I consider to be good starter Pu-erh for those that want to dip their toes into Pu-erh tea’s. It has a great flavor with a smooth mouth feel. We like to steep this tea dark and tend to steep for 2 minutes. Color is a dark mahogany with a light earthy aroma that reminds me of fresh mushrooms. The flavor is consistent throughout the first several steeps and is earthy with a pleasant bitter note without being harsh.
Flavors: Dark Bittersweet, Earth, Mushrooms
This is one that Teavivre had sent to me previously for review with some other white teas, but somehow this one got missed! The beau and I were going to brew up one of the new blacks/shou pu for review but I wanted to round out the last batch. We are also both really intrigued by a white tea cake. He has a cold as well, so hot tea sounds lovely.
We’re using the whole sample packet in boiling water in a 24 ounce teapot. This is a really big sample so I am comfortable with those parameters. The dry leaves consist of obvious chunks from a cake in several large pieces and a few smaller broken pieces – possibly from transport and storage. I gave the big infuser a shake and nothing fell through. No crumbs in sight, despite the odd smaller piece.
I am not hugely familiar with white teas, but I did like the ones I tried from Teavivre recently, and I am very interested in how this comes off, since it seems to share similiarities with blacks/shou pu which are more my area. The smell is sweet and honeyed, like hay and fields but also strong. Not very floral in the dry aroma, but very strong. Steeped, the leaves are HUGE. They’ve taken up the entire infuser. If I put them loose in the pot they probably would have filled the whole thing. They are like something from Goosebumps, growing bigger and bigger…
Tastewise, this isn’t what I expected. It reminds me of a lightly roasted oolong, with a hint of smoke and some strong earthiness. But there is also a light floral note which is mixed in really well. I don’t know that I would have guessed this is a white tea if I were presented with it unknowingly. It reminds me of rock oolongs with a bit of a mineral note. I’m really curious to read everyone elses notes on this one!
The beau says it is earthy, but light. Tastes like a white tea but with something more heavy and earthy, like puerh. He also gets a little bit of smokiness.
All in all, this is a really interesting tea experience. I wouldn’t keep it on hand for myself, but that is because my tastes are toward stronger darker teas. I think it would be a really cool introduction to white tea for someone who prefers those stronger flavours though. Really neat!
Flavors: Earth, Floral, Hay, Mineral, Smoke
I was lucky enough to receive some generous samples of black tea from Teavivre, and I can’t wait to try them all. This was the first one I went for, and seems to be a good choice (though I’m guessing that they all are!). I’ve been tending toward flavored teas lately, and haven’t had a good unflavored black tea in a long time. I always seem to forget how much I love them until I happen to have one and I’m reminded all over again.
This tea was really lovely. It was very smooth, and I didn’t get any bitterness or astringency at all. I got some dark chocolate notes, which I always really love in these kinds of teas. I look forward to trying this tea out some more, and seeing what parameters give me the best results
A huge thank you to Angel at Teavivre for this free sample! I received them earlier this week and am diving into this one tonight. Yes it is a bit late for pu’erh, but it’s shu, which is warming, cozy and sometimes very relaxing for me. So we will give it a go this late! :D
The dry leaves smell oh so good, musty, damp wood, a log in the forest. I love that smell, and immediately said to my bf’s brother “I will like this tea, it smells like a damp, musty log!” LOL, you know you like tea too much when…anyways, I was a bit unsure of parameters for brewing this one, so I did 2 short 15s rinses and then a first steep of 30s. I am using about 1.25 tsp in approx 9-12oz water (not sure on the cup’s capacity, it’s one of my smaller mugs though). The steeped scent was heady and rich in the rinses, and has now given way to an actual sweet aroma! Sweet, with hints of must and chocolate. Interesting, haven’t had a noticeably sweet aroma in many shu puerhs yet!
As for the flavor, mmmm this is mellow, lightly earthy and a bit sweet in flavor. Yum, it is like my beloved Noble Mark, but with a bit less mushroom flavor and more sweetness. There is a noticeable sweet aftertaste. It is rich and full bodied, but not harsh and not overly strong either. Just yummy! I am feeling a tiny bit of cha-qi from this, a slight alertness, but hoping this fades into that pu’erh calm that I enjoy immensely.
Overall, this is a rich, satisfying brew. Notes of caramel, earth, mushrooms and a bit of chocolate prevail. Tasty, with a slight tea buzz coming on, but nothing crazy yet. Happy to have tried this, and as I taste this tea more, it might be a contender for my top shu. It has a lot of notes that I am enjoying! Thanks again to the lovely Angel for sending me this tea to try!
ETA – the energizing cha-qi did drop off and lead into a more relaxed feeling, I am very happy about that as I will be able to sleep good tonight! :D
Flavors: Caramel, Earth, Mushrooms, Wood
Thanks to Angel and Teavivre for this generous sample!
This tea is pretty darn delicious as well – a sentiment I am still surprised to find myself saying about a straight black tea! I can’t properly review it right now, because I did take it to work in a mug, but it was malty and fruity; bold yet not astringent (except just now when I used a very bad water:leaf ratio for my second infusion – a bit of dilution helped that quite well though). I’m not sure whether I prefer this or the Tan Yang (the Tan Yang may edge it out just a bit), but both are going to be travel mug treats for me :)
I prepared six cups and this shows no signs of letting up. In fact, the last four cups were steeped only long enough to fill and pour. The brew is dark burgundy by the second cup and stays that way. The flavor is spicy cedar, earthy loam, and faint old book leather. This has magic properties for opening my lungs, or at least it feels as such. The best part is, I feel more mellow than the tea I’m drinking. I am not really sure what tea drunk means but if this is it, it is pretty far out man. Peace out.
Angel generously sent me a sample of this tea and I’ve almost gone through the whole thing! It’s delicious! I might even like it better than the other Teavivre Keemun I had in my cupboard. It’s very bold and chocolatey with a hint of smoke. The chocolate is definitely a dark chocolate, great to reduce sweet cravings! Very good western or gong fu brewed! Loved it!
Tea provided by Teavivre for review
For me, the timing of sampling new teas for Teavivre was perfect. I haven’t been writing on Steepster much due to problems with the website and also to drink through a lot of older teas I haven’t finished yet. And because winter has been especially intense for me this year (or it seems like it). I was thrilled to warm up with black tea and ripe puerh.
Starting with the samples I chose to short steep Superfine Keemun Mao Feng.
The initial steep was a surprise to my senses. Usually I expect a really strong rose/floral flavour from Keemun type teas. Instead I was greeted by a refined rose flavour, with notes of honey and a good black tea base to back it up. It’s difficult to put into words, but the difference between lower grades and their Superfine version is vast. “Everyday” Keemun has always been a bit too rough on my tastebuds, especially its strong rose flavour.
Sipping through the second through fifth resteeps, it maintained a consistent flavour. I was really impressed the overall balance of the tea while still retaining a deep black tea body (not flat or dull). The honey and floral notes, combined with the delicate nature reminded me of drinking white tea.
Overall, out of all the Keemun tea I have tried from Teavivre this is my favourite. I typically dislike tea with strong intrusive flavours, especially floral (rose). So this sampling was very satisfying for me to try. I always assumed that Keemun wasn’t really my type of tea until trying this version. If you prefer really bold floral flavours, the lower grades would be a better fit.
Short steeped as suggested by Teavivre’s website. 10s, 5s, 10s, 15s, 15s
I haven’t tried enough white teas. They are arguably my favorite type. Okay, I don’t really have a favorite type… but one of my two favorite teas (tied for the best I’ve had) is a white tea. I love the subtle nature of them. I can drink them often and not get tired of them or feel overwhelmed.
This silver needle by TeaVivre is just about what I’d expect from a Fujian silver needle. My entry point to white teas was through the award-winning white teas of Shang Tea, so I feel a little spoiled in that regard and tend to compare white teas to those ones.
In comparison to the silver needles I’ve had before, this one seems a bit more sugary sweet, but lacks the subtle peach notes I’m used to. The gentle color of the brewed liquor is like cream. The aroma has subtle hints of fallen autumn leaves. The downy buds have a nice coat of silvery white fur.
On the second infusion, my little white porcelain pinming cup looks like a yellow early evening moon is in it. There are subtle notes of spices in the aroma and the tea itself now has a bit of a cucumber taste. There’s more of that mouth-filling sugary flavor, and there’s a bit of a dusty taste in the background, subtle enough not to be unwelcome.
As with most silver needles I’ve tried, the flavor is rather consistent from one Gongfu infusion to the next. The flavor remains delicate and sweet.
This is certainly a good silver needle. It’s not the best one I’ve had, but it’s definitely good. It has a lot of sweetness. I’d say that’s the main distinguishing feature between this silver needle and others I’ve had like it.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Cucumber, Dust, Sugarcane
A huuuuge thank you to Angel and Teavivre for yet another round of wonderful samples, which I received yesterday! I was super excited to try this tea, mostly because I have recollections of Angrboda speaking highly of tan yang, and perhaps even this tea specifically – which seems even more likely given that I apparently had this tea on my wish list as well :)
The tea is a fluffy mass of yummy, chocolatey-smelling golden tips. I opted to brew western-style, since that’s how I usually drink things (I don’t have enough time for gongfu sessions right now, though one day I hope to be able to test the waters with my Teavivre gaiwan!), and used about 4 tsp for a 16 oz. mug. The resulting brew is really tasty – malty/bready and chocolatey, but with a brightness (lightness?) that some other Chinese blacks don’t seem to have. The aftertaste is of malty hay, which is delicious in itself.
I feel like I really suck at describing this tea, so just know that it’s really quite incredibly delicious, and a must-try if you like Chinese blacks and chocolate notes.
The smell of green oolong will always remind me of that time I was unemployed for half a year. It was when I really started to get into teas, and this was the kind of tea that first drew me in. I started each day with a lovely green oolong session as the sun flooded my kitchen with light. This Li Shan is exactly my favorite kind of tea. The scent alone forces you to slow down and appreciate the freshly bruised green aroma. Then you get the velvety smooth liquid in your mouth and it’s like swallowing spring flowers. It tastes like new life.
These days I take great tea for granted. Time to slow down and focus on the good things in life. Lately world news seems to get more depressing everyday. Need more tea breaks.
Let me start by saying I enjoyed this one. You might question that as you read. First off I think the string is too short. The tag was sucked under the instant water hit the cup. I had to fish it out. Second, I had no idea what sticky rice smelled like. Uhmmm, at first it kind of smells like old socks in a gym bag. Yep, I’m a red neck. Third, 9-12 minutes? Seriously? I couldn’t do it. I lasted three minutes and the brew already looked like coffee to me. The house was now filled with the aroma, which is growing on me and has become more food like. That aroma penetrates the brain right up to the point the tea hits the lips. Then it instantly disappears and is replaced by a dusty earthiness that makes me picture roots. Just a touch of mineral. Then after I swallow the sweet sticky rice reemerges and blends with the pu-erh. I love the contrast. A very interesting cup.
This tea is a nice resilient tea with a lively cream, and sweet vegetable flavour that became sweeter and spicier towards the middle grouping of the 11 steeps I gave it ( 45s, 25s, 30s, 40s, 45s, 50s, 60s,90s,110s, 3min, +5min (after a rinse). It also taught me that I think I prefer fruitier Jin Xuan’s ( this is quite a nice tea but I am finding I prefer either really fruity or really floral green Oolong’s).
The leaves were a bright colour with noticeable attached stems and smelled of cream, peach, and clover.
This tea needed a noticeable longer first steep than some of my green Oolong’s. I tried 25s at first and found it to be quite weak. The broth is a light yellow that deepens in later steeps.
The tea smelled of corn, milk, and peach and citrus.
I found the following flavour notes: corn, peach, cream, sweet coked vegetables, citrus, honey, a light soft floral, lilac, and indistinct spice.
The tea retained a thick creamy body throughout the steeps without much of the tingling sensations I get in my mouth from green rolled Oolong’s.
Altogether a nice tea that delivers the notes promised.
Thank you Angel and Teavivre! This sample has taught me a bit about my preferences when it comes to Jin Xuan. I appreciate the opportunity.
Thank you to Angel at TeaVivre for the generous sample!
Dry: Longer twisty dark leaves, though much lighter to touch and almost wiry in the bag. They make an elegant sight in the stainless steel infuser and the fragrance is attractive with a hint of cocoa and heady malt.
Steeped: Brewed this Western style in spring water, the tea takes on a mahogany clear liquor. The scent is warming still with a hint of something chocolate, but with added wood and mineral playing around the edges. I did not expect these notes from the dry leaf, so we will see what happens.
Taste: While it is still quite pleasant, I think I was looking for something more striking initially from the steeped aromas. Steeped at 1 min and then at 3 minutes, the taste of the tea is somewhat muted overall. I don’t really detect any cocoa on the palate, but after 3 minutes, there are flavors that remind me distinctly of walking in the woods after it rains. I grew up in the tropics, so the smell may be different for me than for someone that grew up in the North. Do you know what I am taking about? There is a fragrance that develops when the raindrops land on the trees and the earth and this also has a flavor of wood with mineral, malt, and flowers. I had to sit and think about it for a while before I could put my finger on what I was tasting, though the tea is outstandingly smooth. Of the two Nonpareil Yunnan Dian Hong teas I’ve tasted, I find the Ancient Wild Tree Black Tea to be superior in presence so far. That is not to say I am not thoroughly enjoying this cup, but it is less striking on the palate overall. Next time I may try 3-5 minutes for the initial steep and see if I can coax more flavor out of these pretty leaves. I still suspect this tea has more secrets to share.. for those willing to listen. Happy Tuesday Steepster friends! :)
Flavors: Floral, Malt, Mineral, Rainforest, Wood
Sample sipdown! Brewed the rest of the sample (3.5g) in 10oz of what turned out to be 80C water (I overcooled it, oops) for 2min. Malty, smooth, and weirdly I was getting some smoky notes from it earlier (seems to have disappeared as the tea cooled). Not rating because I wasn’t really paying enough attention as I drank it.
Thank You Angel at Teavivre for this free sample. This is a very tasty, good quality ripe puerh. It has lost most but not quite all of its fermentation flavor. All but the most sensitive to fermentation flavor would be fine with this tea. There were some sweet notes to this tea. The Steepster writeup describes them as caramel. This is certainly a possible viewpoint but I could not pin them down while drinking it. This was a great way to start my day with a rare morning gongfu session.
I steeped this six times in a 220ml gaiwan with 6.7g leaf and boiling water. I steeped it for 10 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 30 sec, and 1 min. I would say that I would only have gotten a few more steepes out of this tea but then again I probably should have used more tea but wanted to save my second sample of this tea for another time.
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Mmm, the dry leaf smells like blueberry fruit leather. I don’t get any vanilla from this but I really don’t care since all I want is a nice cold brew, vanilla or no vanilla. Flavour-wise, it’s tart, but not too tart, and it tastes like a mixture of different berries. Even though there are lots of blueberries in the leaf, it’s not what I’m only tasting. Rather, I swear I’m picking up on strawberry, maybe a little cherry, even. My mom especially tastes cherry.
Pretty good cold brew, if you ask me! I’m so glad I picked this as a sample. Many thanks to Teavivre for the experience! I’ll definitely have to order a full size next time.