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Recent Tasting Notes
How did I go more than a week without drinking any jasmine???? Well, that unacceptable state of affairs has now been rectified, as I just enjoyed a large glass of Teavivre Premium Jasmine Pearls.
Today I really noticed the quality of the base tea, which is very silken and smooth. This is a case where the floral flavoring and the base tea are equally important and neither is present to cover up the deficiencies of the other. The liquor is pale green veering peach.
The uniform smallish-sized pearls have not yet fully unfurled and are still extremely fragrant, so another tasty infusion definitely lies on the horizon…
Method: 1.5 tsp, 8 oz, 208 degrees, 3 minutes and 8 minutes, brew in mug strainer
Dry Leaf And Brewing Aroma: milky and buttery with a little hint of floral
Flavor: this tea is very light and “green”. I sipped it a bit and found the flavors to be pleasant, but quiet. I put the strainer back in and steeped to 8 minutes. The flavor is more present, but I could still use a little more, personally. Next time I’ll use more tea. This isn’t super creamy, but it has a nice milky flavor and has a hint of butter. I can taste some very mild florals as well. On some sips, I even pick up a slight roasty taste. This wasn’t my favorite of the TeaVivre samples, but I like it enough to drink more. :)
I am sad because I typed up a very long and detailed review only to have it vanish for some unknown reason. :( This one will not be as comprehensive because I am running out of time to type it. Let me thank Angel at Teavivre for the generous sample though- I love this green!
Onto the review, the dry leaf is sweet and savory both, like crushed sweet grass. The leaves are army green and rolled tightly. In the infuser, the leaves become a brighter green and the liquor is clear and yellow-olive. It smells very pleasant, sweet with a nutty vegetable broth aroma.
The steeped tea tastes delightful- water chestnuts and minerals with a savory green vegetable finish. This tea has a very smooth mouthfeel and is light and flavorful. I remember my previous experiences with Huang Shan Mao Feng to be on the faint side, but this one was just right with more tea used initially than I had previously. I really enjoyed it and would even say it is one of my new favorites. Lovely and elegant, what is not to like?
Flavors: Mineral, Nutty, Vegetable Broth
Method: 1.5 tsp, 8 oz, 208 degrees, 3 and 10 minutes, ForLife brew in mug strainer
Dry Leaf Aroma: The leaves had only a very faintly floral scent.
Brewing Aroma: Oh, THERE you are! This smells gorgeous! There’s a very strong floral aroma, like jasmine, but not exactly jasmine.
Flavor: Smooth and floral. I steeped for 3 minutes and the flavor was nice, but not that strong. I put the brew cup back in, intending to try again after 2 min, but I got distracted and another 7 minutes had passed!
The flavor was definitely stronger now. The floral is in your face, but I personally like that, so I’m happy. There was a little astringency, and a bare hint of bitterness, but nothing crazy. I will undoubtedly buy more of this to keep at work for grandpa style brewing. It holds up to long steeps extremely well!!!
Thanks to Angel @ TeaVivre for the sample!
Insomnia has been biting me in the butt again and last night I made a few crucial mistakes. I drank caffeine after dinner and I worked out close to bed time. My milk powered alarm clock then decided to go off, 40 mins earlier than normal. Thank goodness for caffeine and a good cup of tea to get me rocking and rolling this morning.
After a comment from looseTMan on the keenum front I pulled this sample out again. This is another tea that proves my theory I need to give a tea at least 2 tries before rating or making a decision on it. This has been my go to tea this week and the very generous sample from the folks at Teavivre is almost gone. This has the good kind of brisk with a fruity-ness to the tea that I can’t quite explain. I pulled this tea out to compare to the wp pin peak keenum and they are both wonderful. I would keep both in my cupboard. The pine peak has a more bread like flavor and this has more fruit accents. A good morning cup!
Weekend Sipdown #1
I decided to round off my week’s holiday with a few sipdowns, to make way for new incoming teas. Yes, I was baaaaad again! Also because there are many in my sipdown box that I’ve enjoyed a lot, and I want my final acquaintance with them to be a memorable one.
So, this morning’s obvious choice was this. It’s as lovely as I recall from previous cups — slightly sweet, malty, with a sweet potato note and a mild hint of cocoa. There’s a twist of smoke lurking around in the background, too, but it’s never overpowering. I’m just beginning my exploration of plain black teas, so it’s hard to say where this will eventually come in my ratings. For the moment, though, I love it. It tastes wonderful, and it’s the perfect comfort cup. Most definitely a tea I can see myself coming back to!
for the first time in months I got to go to game night at my favorite gaming store. I had to stop going because I am allergic to the protein in male cat saliva, and they have the most adorably polydactyl (sadly not pterodactyl) shop cat. Being around it was making me really sick, after an hour or so I would end up having the worst flair up that left me feeling miserable for at least all of the next day. Thanks to my new medicine and a better inhaler, I can go back and have a blast! It was so good catching up with old friends and trying new games.
Not too long ago, Teavivre had an excellent review themed promotion/contest, of course I entered. Once the winners were revealed and my name showed up, I did a happy little dance, expected to have some tasty new tea. When it was revealed that I won the top prize a Hand Made He Huan Yixing Zisha Teapot, well, the amount of happy noises I made were so loud that I am pretty sure the entire neighborhood heard it. After many tense days stalking the mailbox, waiting for my new treasure to arrive, my waiting was over!
Once I unboxed the teapot from its velvet lined brocade box, the first thing I noticed is the size. It fits perfectly in the palm of my hand, which is a great size for gongfu tea. You do not want a teapot that is too big (unless you are serving a bunch of people) because the whole point of gongfu tea is having multiple steepings, it is about the journey of the leaf. If your teapot is too big, then you will be too full of tea after one or two steeps that you start to slosh if you try to drink more. While enjoying the size, next I cannot help but admire the craftmanship of the pot.
The pot is smooth and the color is beautiful. I go back and forth if I prefer the color of the red clay or the purple clay, they are both fantastic in their own way. I love the shape of this pot as well, I find the little up turned spout very adorable. While I was getting the teapot ready for seasoning I examined the pour and the lid. With a good yixing teapot you can hold your finger over the little vent hole in the lid and have no liquid pour out the spout, it creates a perfect seal. Also you should be able to have your teapot at a complete vertical angle and not have the lid go flying off. This beauty passed both those tests with flying colors.
I decided that this teapot would be perfect for my love of Wuyi Rock Teas (or Yancha if you are fancy) and seasoned it accordingly. I season mine a little differently than the various ways I have seen recommended, I mix a few methods and it seems to work for me. Of course I was super excited to try out my new teapot, and the experience was amazing. Usually with my Sea Dyke brand Shui Hsien I can get three good steeps out of it using my gaiwan before it just starts tasting watered down, with my new teapot I got an extra steep and each of them tasted more rich and floral than it usually tastes.
This teapot is way out of my usual spending range, all my other yixing pots were gifts or a fantastic find at a thrift store. I certainly say if you can afford it, get one of these pots, it might take me quite literally years of saving money, but I think my next yixing teapot will be from Teavivre. Afterall, I still need at least one more, always just one more.
Today was my second experience of Hou Kui, thanks to our friends at Teavivre. This Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui leaves a lasting impression—both for its appearance and for its taste!
The dried leaves are truly spectacular to behold. They also take up a huge amount of space and weigh very little, being extremely thin. They are large in size but smashed to paper thin. Actually, they might be even thinner than paper! And the color is bright green veering chartreuse!
The taste strikes me as somewhere between Long Jing and Mao Feng, with a chestnutty facet but also a hint of vegetal flavor. It’s closer to Long Jing than Mao Feng, but Hou Kui does not taste exactly like Long Jing. Now that I’ve depleted my samples, I am adding this unique tea to my wish list!
First tasting for me of this tea.
Very nice, smooth with distinct sweet, chocolate taste.
The flavors appeared more distinct in the second and third steeps as I raised the temperature of the water and allowed a longer steep time.
Another quality black tea from Teavivre.
Flavors: Chocolate, Honey
This tea was my companion in the garden this morning. The task at hand was to water the Northwest Quadrant & dig up the rest of the garlic. While doing so, I came across a burrow of baby bunnies, in a little hollowed out place under the straw. I admire their cuteness, but didn’t touch them, & gently layer the straw back over them & went on with my work.
I grew 6 kinds of garlic this year! My whole house reeks of freshly dug garlic, & that is awesome! There’s lots of hanging & braiding to do, & hopefully I’ll never have to buy garlic again!
Lovely tea, by the way. I’ve reviewed it plenty of times, so that’s all I’m saying.
O-Kay! This took me by surprise. I remembered trying it before and not finding it much better than the standard Yun Nan Dian Hong that Teavivre offers (which I love). I won the Teavivre sampler in their recent contest so I have two more samples of this to try again. I used about half of the pouch as this is a very full leaf tea and 7 g seemed a bit much at one time. Plus I am stingy. This is still priced at 3 times the standard Yun Nan so in my world this is a premium tea (at $15.90 CAD for 50 grams).
The dry leaf was a slap in the face of molasses. Oh my, does it smell good. Like I’m about to make brown bread and I’ve got my molasses, shortening and water mixed up and cooling with the aroma filling the house with sweet hot molasses! First sips do retain some of the molasses flavour but it has morphed more into finished brown bread with some ‘bakiness’ and a bit less sweet. Very tasty and smooooth. No bitterness anywhere ever. I think I could steep a pound of this for an hour and all it would be is strong.
I will definitely give this another steep or maybe two and will enjoy the rest of the samples. I am grateful for the opportunity to try it again (in a punctual manner, haha). It is too expensive for me to stock regularly but this is a nice change from my usual Yunnan rota. Mmm!
(Rating increased because apparently I was insane last time. I am not factoring in the price though, if I were I would have to put it down a bit. Cuz I’m still stingy.)
Flavors: Baked Bread, Molasses, Sweet
This sample is from Nicole. TeaVivre announced their third anniversary event today and when I saw that they’re going to be having a black tea sale, I remembered that I hadn’t tried this one yet. So I figured I would give it a try so I can have some idea of what I want to order during the sale! The leaves are so cute! They’re very petite and extremely slender. Half golden, half brown and quite curly. They smell of honey and malt, and to a lesser extent, raisin. There’s also a tiny baby stonefruit peeking out at me. I went with a two minute steep because it was the average time here on Steepster.
Brewed, it smells quite bready and similar to pastry. That’s not something I’ve really encountered before. There’s also light bread and honey. My first impression after tasting is that this reminds me quite a bit of white tea! Mixed with black tea, of course. There’s a prominent hay note and the texture is rather light. Then there’s a lovely creaminess that conjures up visions of croissants. Mmm… I found myself wishing for just a touch more honey to compliment the lovely pastry aspect. Adding a tiny bit of sugar just pushes it completely over the edge… Luckily I’m in an indulgent mood. ;)
I am so in love with this tea! The only (small) complaint I have is that it is quite astringent in comparison to most teas I’ve had. But a small price to pay for such a delicious croissant tea!
This makes me wonder if I should try other teas with a two minute steep… Hm…
Flavors: Astringent, Creamy, Hay, Honey, Malt, Pastries
Thank you Teavivre for the awesome contest! I won a whole cake of pu-erh and I don’t think many other people would be hoping for a pu-erh among those other amazing teas they could have won! Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s Teavivre’s fault that I’m almost addicted to pu-erh as much as black tea and I REALLY love my black tea. I love that this came wrapped and then in a manila envelope type thing with a string to close it.
Steep #1 // rinse // few minutes after boiling // 2 min steep
It looked like a teaspoon and a half or so of leaves that I broke off. There are hints of gold in these black leaves. At first taste: Oh this is a good pu-erh. I’m already very happy with it! The flavor is already very deep with no astringency – it has hints of the pond flavor when first sipping, but then it’s hints of dark chocolate and even the things I like about coffee. I feel like I’ve tried a pu-erh like this before, probably from Teavivre that tastes very similar. I have sampled a FEW pu-erhs from Teavivre, so it’s tough to tell which one.
Steep #2 // 2 min after boiling // 2 1/2 min steep
Another really lovely cup, of course. More chocolate, more coffee. I really love this pu-erh.
Steep #3 // just boiled // 4 min
I’m surprised at the sweetness of this cup! I didn’t expect a longer steep time to make it sweeter! I think these leaves could keep steeping, and it seems like if it’s a longer steep time it will just keep getting sweeter? It seems like a sweeter pu-erh rather than a deeper, darker tasting pu-erh, if that makes sense. Very delicious! If I had sampled this before I won it for the contest, I probably would have bought it. I think Teavivre’s Fengqing Zhuan Cha Ripened Pu-erh Brick 2006 is still my favorite pu-erh from Teavivre by a tiny bit over this one though.
After a short visit at Amariel’s yesterday, my tea count jumped by 20 to a big 70- and here I was doing so well. I didn’t know where to start so I let my roommate randomly select one of the dozen green tea samples from the bag for the evening’s pot. This one was the winner.
The vibrant green leaves look and smell like seaweed, but once steeped the brew is more akin to beans, with a drop or two of honey. There’s a lot more going on in this tea, especially in the second steep, but I can’t pin most of the flavours. It’s a beautiful and gentle tea to wind down to for the evening. This cup has peace and tranquility written all over it (sappy but true).
Thank you, Amariel, for sharing this lovely sample with me!
Flavors: Green Beans, Honey, Peas
Thank you Angel at Teavivre for my sample of this.
This is my husbands tea of choice for us to sample while we watch the World Cup (Brazil vs Germany) and I carry on with my cross stitch.
The raw leaves are a mixture of dark brown and golden colours which are thin yet long and rather curly/twisted. They have a pure wood scent with a hint of tobacco, at a nice almost mature level.
Leaf – 5g
Vessel – Gaiwan 100ml
Water Temp – 90C
7 Steeps : rinse,10s,20s,30s,50s,70s,90s,120s
First Steep – 10s
Colour is mahogany and it bares a mild yet sweet, malt and wood scent. Flavour is wonderfully smooth and sweet with light malt, wood and maple tones.
Second Steep – 20s
Increasing in strength but still rather smooth and the malt tone is the most dominant. Still traces of light maple too.
Third Steep – 30s
Very smooth, even to the point of slipping down my throat like silk. It’s so very light yet full of flavour, it makes the three steeps so far refreshing and very easy to drink while not compromising on flavour. Still getting dominant malt tones with sweet maple and a touch of wood. It’s holding nicely so far.
Fourth Steep – 50s
Getting lighter in flavour and also less smooth, though only a little. As it’s not as sweet nor smooth the malt and wood tones are equal in strength which make a heavier steep.
Fifth Steep – 70s / 1m10s
Still a nice level of flavour left and with minimum astringency. It’s acquired a light leather flavour at this point.
Sixth Steep – 90s / 1m30s
I’m surprised this still has so much flavour left at this level steep. On the whole the colour is much darker and reminds me of light soy sauce but apart from that this tea is still very sound. It even tastes light enough to be smooth once again and have a little sweetness like rock sugar and malt.
Seventh Steep – 120s / 2m
It remains light and sweet with wonderful malt tones. There was no dryness in this tea and I was left with a refreshed mouth between each steep, a rarity I find with black teas steeped in the gaiwan.
Overall – I wasn’t sure what to expect with this Golden Monkey, it’s a tea I’ve had from many other companies and they tended to be smoky and very strong with lots of astringency and dryness. This was the opposite to others I have tried, throughout it remained flavourful and refreshing with a smooth/silky body. I can’t remember the last time I had a tea remain so consistent throughout a full gaiwan session, it was a very nice treat that pleased both me and my husband. The next time I order from Teavivre I will certainly keep this tea in mind.
Flavors: Malt, Maple, Tobacco, Wood
Morning everyone! I’m trying this same tea again today because I felt like I didn’t really get all it had to offer when I tried it before. scribbles gave me some steeping parameters to try (thanks!) so today I’m trying a 4 minute steep using 4 pearls.
I really love the smell of this tea! It’s very honeyed and has a nice raisin or fig note. I would be in heaven if it tasted exactly like the smell! Sadly, that is almost never the case with tea. :P
Today it tastes quite malty with maybe a touch of honey in there. I maybe get a little bit of cocoa? But it’s definitely bitter cocoa with no sweetness. In fact, I’m getting a little bitterness out of this tea today… That honeyed dark dried fruit that was in the aroma is also there in the aftertaste, yum.
In other news, my boyfriend and I are going to have a new roommate soon. His good friend from California recently graduated from college and my boyfriend managed to get him a job at his workplace. So he’s going to be living with us for a bit at least, which I don’t mind. However, our spare bedroom is full of boxes of shit, basically. So my boyfriend has to go through that and sort out what needs to be tossed, etc. Which means now there’s a humongous pile of empty boxes near the front door, which I will have the pleasure of breaking down and taking to the recycling room today… Hooray? :P
I tried the 2013 harvest of this tea and adored it (as my rating shows) which makes me happy to get my hands on a sample from this year to note any changes. It’s very hard to do…all I have are notes from last year and I only had one sample, the comparing is more or less impossible, but I can at least compare notes and see what differs (if anything).
The leaves are thin and needle like with many silver tips present, last years were more curly and these are straight. Also there are a lot of little hairs present on the silver tips which were not noted last time. Scent remains the same, kale was previously noted and I agree with it still ‘kale mixed with peony and a dash of grass’.
‘Being steeped in my Gongfu teapot three times for 1 minute, 2 minutes and 3 minutes.’ As I did previously.
The resulting liquid is yellow (yep still the same) but it also mentioned it being thick which this is not, it’s very mellow and appears fresher.
First steep is nice and sweet, light yet floral and grassy. Not at all astringent (as was previously noted). Also tasting less vegetal tones than was indicated from last years batch, this is more floral and grassy. The second steep is thicker and comes across somewhat perfumed which gives it some vegetal thickness (which I would liken to broad beans or something similar). So that is a decent change, though from what I remember it is still very similar. My final steep mimics the first one and once again it becomes mellow and freshly grassy.
Some notable changes yet also a lot of similarities, my rating would have been around the same mark regardless so at least that keeps it consistent. I would not say this years batch was better nor worse, it was just different though it remained as much a pleasure to drink as was last years.
Flavors: Flowers, Grass, Kale
I had this last night and forgot to review it so please forgive my lack of a full review for this tea. It’s my fault for getting the drawers mixed up, I have one for Teavivre samples I have not tried and one for Teavivre samples that I have tried, in my sleepy state I got this Puerh from the wrong drawer.
The leaves (from what I remember) were wonderful and musky smelling, very earthy and wooden. Dull-ish dark green and twig like in form compressed to a small piece.
I served this in my 200ml glass Gongfu teapot over three steeps (1 min, 2 min, 3 min).
The resulting flavour was more or less identical for the first two steeps, it had a deep, earthy flavour that reminded me of damp wood. Very musky and musty type of feel from it with some smoke. In a sense it tasted like rain from a forest, at least that is what my tired mind thought at the time. It might not sound nice to some people (musty and damp are not usually flavours I personally like) but it was very pure and that made it nice, it wasn’t too much or too thick. Well until I got to the third steep which was very thick and had to be watered down a little, it became too strong and almost unpalatable.
I enjoyed it as did my husband but it was not a favourite of mine.
Flavors: Musty, Smoke, Wood