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Recent Tasting Notes
Continuing with my slow exploration of post-fermented teas.
I steeped this twice, western style over two days. Broke off 6g of leaf and orange peel for 8os of water. I rinsed twice and then steeped for 1min in boiling water, and then a second steep for 6 minutes.
This is musty and earthy, with just a hint of citrus. Slightly sweet and quite smooth. A pleasant cup, but nothing remarkable or deeply nuanced. I’ll give this another try soon, gongfu style.
Flavors: Citrus, Earth, Musty, Sweet
Free sample from Teavivre. This is the last of the free samples I received a couple of months ago, which brings me up to date with the freebies and means I can now focus on all the teas I have bought in the meantime! :)
The dry leaf is a mix of green, brown and silver leaves. It looks like a good proportion of those lovely furry silver tips that make such good white teas. The dry leaf aroma is green and tobacco. Yes, I know that green is not technically an aroma, but that’s what it smells like, so there. Once steeped the leaves appear quite chopped. I suspect this may be a function of the process of removing a sample from a beeng, because others have noted how the leaves appear whole. They also have a vegetal, spinach aroma.
The liquor is a mid yellow colour and carries a light smoke and delicate earthiness along with a smidge of the tobacco. These notes increase with subsequent steeps. The sweetness and creaminess of the liquor remain constant throughout. There is a slight astringency that emerges in the aftertaste. The aftertaste endures nicely with a hint of menthol cooling the tongue.
More noticeable than the flavours is the cha qi which immediately struck me in the knees. I could feel my legs relaxing the second I sipped the first cup. I can also feel a serious tea drunk coming on! This tea is good now and that leaves me hoping for good things in the future once it has aged.
N.B. Teavivre recommend a 100 degree (212 degree) steeping temperature. I steeped it at 90 degrees. I worry that using boiling water will kill some of the notes I found in it.
Flavors: Cream, Smoke, Spinach, Sweet, Tobacco, Vegetal
I’ve really gotten out of the habit of posting here… Ah well.
Today I’m digging into one of my “new” teas from Teavivre. I’ve tried a sample of the organic superfine Keemun from this company but decided to get the grade 1 as my purchase, if only bc I’ve been trying to cut back on my tea spending… (I’ve been somewhat successful at that too!)
I found this one to be quite similar to the superfine, a little darker with a few more malty notes but with a lovely mellow finish and very little astringency. There is an interesting top note in there too, not defined enough to call fruity but present enough to keep the flavor dynamic.
Overall a great tea for almost any mood!
ETA: and it’s wonderful with cream and honey too!
I tried this tea a long time ago, earlier in my tea journey, and I couldn’t decide what I thought of it then. I don’t think I had a very educated palate at the time. Angel at TeaVivre offered to send me a sample, so I took her up on it. Thank you!
This time, I opted to brew it gong fu-style. It’s very creamy, and I detect notes of bread, malt, and cocoa, but they are subtle. It’s kind of like milk chocolate! I have other chocolate black teas I like more (I’m looking at you, Zhen Qu!) but it’s pretty good and would be a good one to pick up once I’m out of my beloved Butiki tea. ;)
Thank you Angel for this sample.
My hubby has next week off work which he usually does for my birthday (which is also next week). Hopefully that means we will fit in a lot of tea sessions during this time to help me clear some of my stash.
The raw cake contains whole leaves that are a blend of: dark brown, silver, gold and red/brown. Very high gloss/shine is present and lots of furry silver tips.
It has a sweet yet smoky, wood and earth scent.
Water: 100 C
Pot: Yixing 200ml
Rinse 1 – 10 seconds
Rinse 2 – 10 seconds
Steep 1 – 10 seconds
Colour is light yellow and has a gentle, smoky and damp earth scent.
Flavour is subtle with sweet and creamy earth notes with a hint of smoke. The sweet honeysuckle notes linger into the after taste.
Steep 2 – 10 seconds
Colour and flavour are thicker. The smoke has increased though for the most part it is still sweet and creamy. Slightly dry in the after taste now though the honeysuckle still dominates. Also getting some fresh wood tones and an increase in the cream as it cools.
Steep 3 – 15 seconds
Thicker and smokier with some astringency. Also the dryness increases to the point of being perfumed. Very rich and mineral like, sweet grass perhaps or sweetpea.
Steep 4 – 10 seconds
Creamy, sweet, honeysuckle, thick, smoke. All balanced much better in this steep than the previous two. It’s still astringent but toned down. My favourite steep so far.
Steep 5 – 5 seconds
Soft, floral, sweet and slightly smoky. Another well balanced steep. Not as thick and losing strength though the dryness and astringency have also lessened.
I will continue to steep though out the day but will stop my writing for now.
Overall: The Puerh started soft and sweet which increased in strength rather quickly, with it’s later steeps calming down to bring a more balanced tea. The main flavours were honeysuckle, cream, smoke, sweetpea and wood. It’s a very nice raw/sheng that tastes better over time, put simply.
The leaves appeared to be very nice quality both before and after the steeps, as such I will consider buying a cake of this in the future should I get the opportunity.
Flavors: Cream, Drying, Earth, Honeysuckle, Perfume, Smoke, Sweet, Wood
Another sample from TeaVivre. Thanks, Angel! I was curious to see what this one would taste like, having a similar name to the super fruity nonpareil yunnan dian hong ancient wild tree that I enjoyed so much. The dry leaf is dark and twisty. The brewed tea tastes malty with a bit of cherry and stone fruit, especially after several infusions. Overall, it’s an excellent tea, but I think I like ancient wild tree best.
When it is snowing, I drink more tea. Makes it nice to watch from inside if I have a nice warm beverage. Today, I decided to try this. Mostly for warmth and because this is my first mug of oolong tea this year. The dry leaves have a sweet, dried fruit scent, with some roasted nuts. Brewed, I get more roasted nuts. That comes out more in the flavour, along with something toasted grain bread. Thanks to Teavivre for this sample.
Flavors: Dried Fruit, Grain, Roasted nuts, Toast
Ah… To think that not all that long ago I didn’t know TeaVivre existed. :)
I am not the learned taster that some here clearly are and my palette clearly is not as definitive (heck, I don’t even like sweet potatoes so I don’t eat them), but I know what I like and I like this tea.
Granted this is my first effort with it and I like to play with different leaf quantities, water temp and steep time to extract the best flavor for me, but I like this black. To me it is not an “in your face” flavor burst that I like in other blacks but it has a nice flavor that lingers.
More to follow.
The first time I tried this tea its beautiful, soft floral flavour and the beautiful colour of the tea stayed with me. It was not as biting a floral as I usually prefer in green Oolong’s but it had distinct lilac, gardenia and magnolia notes that remained distinct above it’s other notes despite its soft creamy nature.
It’s been awhile since I first tried this tea but I recently had time to revisit it and what I stated above still stands.
The dry leaf ranges from a pale milky green to spruce green and has a bright floral scent tempered by citrus and green notes. tightry leaf ranges from a pale milky green to spruce green and has a bright floral scent tempered by citrus and green notes. Then leaves are a bit more loosely wound than some rolled Oolong’s I have seen.
The following are my impressions of this session:
40s colour pale gold green tinged yellow.
Scent, bright yet soft green and citrus tinged floral, with hints of lilac, the creaminess of magnolia, and a bit of gardenia.
Soft but rich flavour. Citrus note on top opening up to a green floral note that is almost freesia, and then suddenly dissolving into honey with a bit of peaches and cream. Hints of cut grass mixed with the green floral, and the slightly drying citrus note dissolves into cream. Aftertaste of creamy green floral and honey.
20s. Above plus a hint of spinach in the scent. The event is also sweeter.
Citrus with a hint of spinach immediately opening to lilac and honey. There is much more spice in this steep. Cream, peach, and cool green notes become apparent as it cools. It leaves a tingling on the upper roof of my mouth. There is a floral spicy and cooling aftertaste.
22s. More blended a fragrance with all of the above notes plus magnolia.
Sender in body with cream, green,spicy floral notes, and a hint of spinach up front. The spice lingers and builds with the following honey notes. The aftertaste is a spicy floral that is first warming than becomes cooling.
26s good blend of all the flavours with green floral and honey up front with a hint of vanilla opening up to a slightly bitter spice note that tastes a little bit like chewing on cinnamon sticks. This sweet spice is mixed with a bit of spinach. Cream blends the early and later notes together.
30s the floral is a little bit warmer and more enveloping it is still a green floral but is more gardenia like with its rich heady fragrance and is full of spice, the honey, cream and vegetative notes are very much in the background. I love this steep.
35s. Creamier in mouth feel and taste and sweeter with honey, cream and magnolia opening to cream, honey and spice with a very faint hint of vanilla and spinach and a hint of stevia, warming opening up to cooling and a lingering mix of honey and spice. Another wonderful steep.
40s similar to above with the introduction of a mineral note and nutmeg. Lingering honey and cooling spice.
50s spice and a soft floral up front opening to green notes and nutmeg mixed with honey and spinach with hints of mineral notes and cream. Creamy on the tongue.
70s similar to above with mineral and nutmeg notes moving forward and slightly less honey.
110s cream, honey, nutmeg, cinnamon and spicy warm flowers.
180s cream and honey with nutmeg and vanilla dominant with lilac in the background. The tea still has a creamy and thick body.
320s cream, spice, gardenia, hints of cornsilk, honey, spinach and a mineral tone and a brighter green note. The tea is still yielding a dense creamy body.
This is a really lovely tea for when your craving a soft creamy floral. I would definitely consider picking up some of this in the future.
Thanks too Angel and the ever generous Teavivre for the chance to sample their tea.
Thank you to Angel at TeaVivre for this lovely sample!
Dry: Luscious long twisty dark and dusty leaves with a few dark bronze pieces mixed in. I think of an elder tea tree when I look at and touch the leaves. There is an aroma of smooth malt, faint hay, and even a touch of cocoa. I’m already excited to brew it up because it smells like something delicious is going to evolve in the infuser (spoiler alert- it does!)
Steeped: Brewed Western style results in a clear brown liquor with a fairly complex fragrance of malt and dates with a hint of spice, and even earth. If I was blindfolded, I might wonder for a split second if this was a pu-erh before a sweet honeyed note with a floral background drifted up from the teapot. I bet this would be fantastic Gongfu style, too.
Flavor: This is probably the best black I’ve tried from TeaVivre so far besides my favorite Keemuns from them. Initially, there is something reminiscent of dates and molasses, chewy and dark. It is also naturally full-bodied and sweet with honey-flower notes, almost syrupy before it mellows. There is something in the background that is spiced and faintly earthy- reminds me of cedar when preparing to cook with it. My husband shared a cup with me this morning and he really likes it also. It resteeps nicely, though we stopped after 3. Overall, this tea is lovely, unique, complex and makes for an interesting tea experience. Definitely not your everyday Yunnan black- if you have the chance to give it a try, I’d highly recommend it. :)
Flavors: Cedar, Dates, Flowers, Honey, Malt, Sweet
Angel at TeaVivre provided this sample. Thank you! I steeped it for 2 minutes. Teavivre recommends 9 minutes, but it got so dark so fast, I was worried! Turns out, I didn’t need to be.
In the first steep, I detected the usual earth notes, but also some caramel and cocoa and a bit of freshness from citrus or wood. There’s not much, if any, fermentation funk. It’s pretty clean tasting.
I decided to go full throttle on the second steep and brew it for 9 minutes to see how dark it would get. It got to pretty much the same level of darkness as the first steep and the flavor level was similar and still clean tasting.
This teabag is super convenient. I usually drink puerh gong fu-style, so it’s one I reserve to drink at home, rather than at work. Since this is a teabag and the tea seems pretty fool-proof, I could definitely bring it to work, which is a plus! This could totally be a daily drinker.
Also, it pairs really well with a piece of dark chocolate :)
Thank you so much for the samples, Teavivre! Always a great day to get a package from Teavivre! The leaves here are dusty black, large and very twisty. The leaves kind of look exactly like they would be from an ancient tree. The fragrance from the mug has such a caramel scent even before taking a sip and the color of the mug even looks like caramel. The flavor is caramel, honey, sweet like I actually added sugar, a little bready and a bit tangy to give the flavor depth. I imagine the tanginess is from the leaves being ancient. I’m not sure if I should have rinsed the leaves. The texture while drinking the tea is even syrupy! With the second steep, the tanginess evens out and the other flavors from the first cup remain. I tried a third half mug steep with a very long steep time, expecting a ruined, overleafed/oversteeped, undrinkable cup (what I usually describe as the oaky/woody leaf flavor), probably expecting this because the leaves are from an “ancient” tree but the third steep was delicious. Another smooth cup. It didn’t have that oversteeped leaves flavor at all, and was actually unexplainably unique. A nice one! Note to self: definitely don’t miss the third steep and I think a longer steep time won’t hurt the third steep either.
Steep #1 // 2 heaping teaspoons for 11 ounce mug // 15 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // 5 min after boiling // 3-4 min steep
Steep #3 // half mug // just boiled // 6+minutes
Harvest: April 30, 2014
I have been so busy the last few days because I feel almost human again. The busyness has kept tea consumption rather limited. I made the time to enjoy this one again today. I went with a 3 1/2 minute steep today. Last time it was a full 5 minutes. The difference between the two was really interesting. Today it was malty with unmistakable peach notes. Very smooth. No bitterness. No bite. Only a slight dryness. The aftertaste was green and vegetal tasting. If I have to choose, I would go with the long steep as it seemed to have just slightly more depth, but long steep or short this is a really good Dian Hong.
Steeped yesterday’s leaf this afternoon. I got to say the cup aroma was so fine. As the cup was sitting to cool I was smelling grape. It sort of drifted between grape, wine, and Darjeeling aromas. I know the taste was light but honestly I got distracted fixing stuff on the computer and ended up drinking this pretty quick and not paying attention. I know I liked it or it wouldn’t have disappeared so fast.
Oh this dry leaf smells wonderful. Its like honey drizzled over fruit. The cup scent is similar but more baked. If fills your senses as you begin tasting. I notice a spiciness, kind of peppery without the burn. This is very smooth. With no hint of bitterness. One taste I’m getting kind of strikes me as grape. Maybe its really plum and I don’t know any better. Slightly yam but the fruit taste is stronger. There is even the faintest touches of earth and leather. For as light as this seems on the first sip, there is so much depth here when you slow down and taste. Thank you Angel for this very nice tea.
Gotta love flavorful black teas on snowy mornings… Enjoying this in the beautifully sunny aftermath of the blizzard that, mercifully, barely brushed the DC area. Just a few inches yesterday, I’ve enjoyed the luxury of pulling in and out of the driveway that I didn’t have to shovel :) Wish my folks in RI were so lucky.
Solid cup of flavor, medium bodied and round, with a lingering cocoa and slight malt. There is a distinct perfumey note that I read through everyone’s notes to pin down but somehow didn’t settle on … it nears the intensity level of a bergamot… maybe that’s what fellow Steeps are describing as floral? or cedar? The woodiness, oddly, seemed more of a flavor-texture than a flavor. There’s a fruit in there, too, will have to chase that down in future steeps.
The smokiness is phantom-like, in and out, wonderfully described by Fjellrev as “a (very distant) campfire”…just a hint of extra character.
This isn’t the most cocoa-y or chocolatey black around but they’re there to enjoy.
This provided a full 3rd finium basket steep which was a little smoother and flavor-focused on the rear sides of my tongue. Looked up the tongue-map only to learn that it has been scientifically discredited. I missed that news. But the 3rd steep definitely had tongue-localized flavor, so there you go.
1st in another round of generous samples just received from Teavire, thank you for the tea tours!
Flavors: Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Dark Wood, Smoke
Thank You Angel at Teavivre for this sample. This tea was very good. It was sweet in nature and had very little fermentation flavor. It had almost completely cleared as far as fermentation goes. I think I could describe the sweet notes to this tea as dates or plums what have you. This is one I will look into buying a cake of.
I steeped this eight times in a 220 ml gaiwan with 9.5g leaf and boiling water. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 30 sec, 1 min, and 2 min. The tea was by no means played out there was plenty left to it but I had had enough caffeine.
This was yet another generous free sample from Teavivre.
I’ve spent the day drinking this and really enjoying it. Upon opening the packet I was hit by a waft of hay and spice. The dry leaf looked to be in large pieces if not whole leaves. Upon steeping the leaves turned green and it became clear that my initial impression was correct. The liquor was a light amber colour and gave off a floral aroma, like orchids. The taste was light and yet full, being peppery with fruity rum and raisin notes. I got little in the way of astringency, except when the cats distracted me by demanding attention and I steeped it for a tad too long. Even that was pleasant and left a peppery aftertaste on the tongue. It has lasted me all day, amounting to about twelve steeps, so the tea has pretty good legs. Overall, this is a good tea that I would be happy to drink more of. Good job I have a second sample pack, eh? I might try the next packet at a higher temperature and with a longer steeping time to see how that fares, given that Teavivre recommends 100 degrees C and a steep time of 5 to 10 minutes. Yes, 5 to 10 minutes! That seems like an awfully long time when I am in the habit of brewing shengs for 10-15 seconds at a time.
Flavors: Black Pepper, Hay, Orchid, Raisins, Rum, Spices
A lovely roasted Tie Guan Yin. The roasting process has changed the flavor profile – the floral and vegetal notes that I might normally experience with a Tie Guan Yin are more toasty and nutty now. This adds a really nice dimension to the sweetness of this tea.
Early infusions are creamy and sweet. As it was quite hot, I noticed the tea was on the crisp side, but as the tea cooled slightly, it became softer and creamier. Later infusions became smoother, and the roasty-toasty notes became enhanced. I noticed notes of charcoal and freshly roasted chestnuts. The last infusions that I enjoyed of this tea became a different tea entirely, with a cleaner taste and notes of fruit.
Here’s my full-length review of my adventure with this tea: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/12/28/anxi-monkey-king-ma-liu-mie-tie-guan-yin-oolong-tea-from-teavivre/
Oh, I haven’t tried this one before! Sample from Angel. I love the aroma. Light malt drenched in honey. There is no hint of smoke, bitterness, or rough edges. This is just oh so smooth. In the taste, I again get malt and honey. There is a baked quality to it like maybe cocoa. Beyond this I get occasional mineral notes, then stone fruit (apricot?). There are even occasional flashes of floral notes.
From a little research, Keemun refers to the growing area not a particular processing. That is good to know as I don’t think I would identify this as Keemun by tasting. I can identify it as a really tasty Chinese red (black) tea.
Thank you Angel for this sample.
In raw form the leaves are dark brown/red, curly and smell of malt, wood and treacle.
Flavour reveals fruity raisin and date with sweet wood, brown sugar and malt tones. Rather light in strength with no astringency though slightly sour at times. Clean tasting and fresh throughout. Some dryness in the after taste.
Overall: A delicious Dian Hong with clean tasting and pure characteristics. Soft and sweet which balances nicely with the dark and rather rich malt and wood flavours. Personally, I prefer it creamier but this made a very nice drink this morning and it went down a treat. I would consider buying some of this to alternate with my golden tips.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Dates, Malt, Raisins, Wood
After hanging out in the snowy woods again, I decided to have this tea. There is a sweet, bread like scent, with hints of honey and sweet potatoes. The flavour is more molasses and bittersweet dark chocolate. It is a bit darker than the others I’ve tried this weekend, but still good for snowy evenings.
Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Grain, Molasses
Thank you to Angel at TeaVivre for this sample!
Let me preface this note by saying that I am a newbie to pu-erh teas. I have only tried a few before this one!
Dry: This came from a cake, but was mostly already broken up into smaller pieces. There were a few larger chunks that I reduced a bit before brewing. The black dry leaf is tightly packed, glossy, and bright. The smell from the sample pack is earthy at first, but reminds me of leather from my saddle after I take a second sniff, with a hint of a thick sweetness at the edges, like molasses.
Steeped: I wanted to brew this with the Western method, since that is what I most often use. When I brewed my last pu-erh and used Gongfu style, I awakened the leaves. I wasn’t sure if you still do this when brewing Western, but I went ahead and did a quick rinse before I fully infused. The leaves immediately started releasing their tannins and the fragrance intensified to sweet, warm dates. After steeping, the tea is a deep rich brown liquor and the aroma is even more potent.
Taste: My first sip reminded me of quality black coffee, but not because of the flavor. I drank coffee for years before I switched to tea and the texture and the hint of bitter/earthiness at the end of each sip is what awakens the memory. The taste itself is overall sweet with notes of worn leather, earth, dates, and even a hint of floral and tobacco. It is not a simple tea, though it does have that same smooth/serene nature as the Superfine Tan Yang Gong Fu from earlier (with an entirely different profile otherwise).
I brewed this with bottled Spring water and it resteeped wonderfully so far with the flavor remaining fully intact after 3 in a row. I can see it is good to go for at least a few more. While I am very thankful I was able to try it, I tend to avoid teas with notes of tobacco, earth, etc. I am giving it a high rating though because I try not to rate teas based on whether they match my taste buds, but rather that it was exactly as described on the TeaVivre website. I know there are others that would love this with the deep complexity released from the aged leaves. Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend! :)
Flavors: Dates, Earth, Floral, Leather, Smooth, Tobacco