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Recent Tasting Notes
Brewed with a gongfu glass tea pot.
Steeping parameters: No rinse. 30 seconds, 45, 60, 120
This would be my second Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong, the first being from Wegman’s years ago. From the dry leaf alone I can tell that this one is of much better quality. Short and twisty, unbroken, they mostly are very dark – near black – peppered with a few golden leaves. They smell of burned conifer wood and smoke. The wet leaf aroma, of barbecued spare ribs. A hint of vanilla rises from the liquor.
Reddish in color, clear, and smoothly textured, it tastes much like it smells, and then some, including a pungent yet mellow smoky meat flavor. This tea leaves behind a sweet barbecue sauce aftertaste and a dry throat.
No rating, but recommended since I enjoyed it. I wouldn’t have this kind of tea often, but this is one I would go to if I wanted something different and smoky.
Wow. This is.. wow. I actually thought it was a black until I grabbed the bag to log it – it tastes surprisingly like a Yunnan. Really, really enjoyed it, and wish I had a bit more.
So… I can picture who I got this from, I’m just so horrible with handles…. please forgive me, lovely Canadian I had tea with in Edinburgh, and did this tea swap with! (I know your real name, just not going to say it here).
Method: Gongfu glass teapot.
No rinse. Steeping times: 20, 10, 10, 20,
I had to admire the lovely dry leaf at the very start of the session. Twisty, half-inch, very few broken in the packet from traveling. Mostly bright gold with some browns, and very, very fuzzy. When the leaves steep, though, the gold immediately disappears, and they become uniformly chocolate brown. And throughout the session, the fuzzies just keep on coming. Each infusion is cloudy from all of the fuzzies floating around. They clump together at the bottom of each cup I pour myself.
I’m still getting over my cold from earlier this week. I tried my best to discern the aromas with a semi-stuffy nose. The dry leaf aroma has notes of malt, baked breads (notably pumpernickel), and bergamot; while the wet leaf aroma smells of fudge at first, and then roasted red peppers. Pretty sure about that last one, even though it sort comes out of nowhere, considering the kind of tea this is.
The liquor has a beautiful golden color – shining in the light, it’s like treasure. Full body, warm feeling, a consistent creamy texture and note of sweet potato as each cup cools a bit. (No need to mentions this orange tuberous plant anymore then.)
I have to take a moment to get used to the flavors – it’s been a while since I’ve had a Chinese black tea. Initially, the first infusion tastes malty and nutty, and then the sweet potatoes arrive. Second infusion is WELCOME TO FUDGETOWN. Basically. Three and four have prominent chocolate and citrus notes, a combination that reminds me of those chocolate oranges you smash on the table. There is no 45-second infusion because it was too weak. Moving on to the true fifth infusion – all sweet potatoes.
This is my first Dian Hong. Beautiful to behold, and nice to drink. Overall, this was a good first experience.
I Love Spring Tea!!! If you have yet to experience fresh spring tea, you must try it! I opened this generous sample to reveal a giant amount of leaves. The dry leaf consists of long glossy ivy green strands. The long vibrant tendrils are decorated with small downy hairs. They have a deep vegetal and olive oil scent with a slight floral undertone. I placed them inside my warm kyusu and let them sit for a little bit. I returned to the kyusu and lifted the lid to be greeted with a great spring scent. My brewing vessel wafted fresh greens into my tea room. I brew fresh tea very lightly; I use cool water (170F). The colour of the liquor was a pale iridescent jade. I gave this gem a taste, and the flavor was fantastic. The initial sip was of butter and watercress covered with a deep vegetal tone. The brew grew sweeter after each steeping. The third steep yielded a slightly darker liquor and a sweet floral flavor. I was able to get three steeping out of this fantastic leaf. This tea session was awesome!
Flavors: Floral, Nutty, Olive Oil, Vegetal
Additional notes: I wanted to try this one again with two teaspoons (the last steep session used one teaspoon and it was a little light – I knew the flavors would be better closer to Teavivre’s parameters.) So with almost the same temperature and steep time that I used last, there is an improvement. This is the BEST green tea!! This is the green tea for me, that is for sure. Two teaspoons is the sweet spot for a 11-12 ounce mug. The flavor is stronger and nuttier and sweet and unique without being astringent or bitter. Basically the same as with one teaspoon but bursting with flavor. The best green tea flavor! I’d definitely use two teaspoons in the future. It’s perfect. I really wish Teavivre would sell more of their teas in 50 gram amounts (or even 25 grams) because I could stock up on ALL of their awesome green teas, but I’d rather keep stocking up on them with fresh 25-50 gram pouches!
Steep #1 // 2 tsps. // 32 minutes after boiling // 55 second steep
Steep #2 // 28 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Thanks again for another batch of samples, Teavivre! I was trying to decide which one of the five new green teas to try from Teavivre today and realized this one has a similar name (if you change one letter) to my FAVORITE green tea of all time. I had to try this one first! I also steeped it like I steep that other favorite, rather than following closer to Teavivre’s suggestions. I’ll try closer to their parameters another time.
Upon opening the sample, the strongest, most delicious scent from a green tea – very nutty, like the chestnuts Teavivre mentions! The dark green coils are very twisty. So far, exactly like the other favorite. The flavor is possibly a little lighter than the tea I’m comparing it to. I COULD have used more than a teaspoon of leaves. The color of the brew is a very light neon green. But the flavor is DIVINE – again, this is my favorite type of green tea. It’s very sweet and creamy, yet nutty. It’s very smooth! Nothing vegetal or savory about it other than a slight hint of corn. So delicious! I’ll be experimenting with different amounts of leaves with this one, trying to find the perfect flavor for this perfect green tea.
Steep #1 // 1 tsp in 11 ounce mug // 32 minutes after boiling // 55 second steep
Steep #2 // 28 min after boiling // 2-3 min
Harvest: April 10, 2015
This is one of the better teas I’ve ever tasted. Yes, it’s a bit more expensive, but sometimes you have to treat yourself! The aromas and flavors are so wonderful. I feel like I am “drinking spring.” What an excellent tea. Wow, just WOW!!
Flavors: Asparagus, Butter, Vegetal
2005….where was I? I was a kid trying to succeed in the radio business, no kids, single, and trying to make ends meet. I guess you would call this my Throw Back Thursday Tea. Ten years later I wonder if I’ve still really made it in this biz, 2 kids with one here anytime now, on my second and last marriage, and there’s a whole lot more in between. First I’ve never met a Pu I didn’t like. Erh that is. This one is no different. Dark. Smooth. Earthy. Everything that you would expect from a great Pu-Erh. Good tea is a part of a great daily trifecta. A good cup of coffee, good tea, and a good BM. That’s really all you need to have an excellent day. I am now remembering why I need to take the time to make good tea. Pu-erh has a balancing effect on me. It may be real it may be in my mind. I feel more relaxed after having this tea. I never worry about the quality either. I have not had a tea from Teavivre that is not top quality.
Flavors: Coffee, Dark Wood, Earth, Smooth
Mao Feng is one of the few varieties of green tea I really, really enjoy. This is the Spring 2014 harvest, so I’m a little behind the times, but I have huge confidence in Teavivre’s packaging, so I’m not too worried at this stage. I used 2 tsp of leaf, and gave it 3 minutes in water cooled to 180 degrees. The resulting liquor is a clear pale green, and the scent is mildly grassy. The scent of the dry leaf is stronger – fresh green vegetables with a light floral edge.
The overall taste is a lot lighter than I expected, and I think for my next cup I might use a little more leaf and leave it for longer (possibly up to 4/4.5 minutes). That’s unusual behaviour for me with a green tea, but I’m glad I underdid things first time in any case. The flavour savoury, with mild hints of buttered green vegetables; green beans and sugar snap peas primarily. There’s a slight pepperiness to the initial sip that’s really rather pleasant, but the cup as a whole is very, very smooth. I’m glad I’ve managed to prove to myself that not all green teas are strong and bitter, because at one point it would have been very easy for me to give up on green tea entirely. I would have missed out on this, had I done so, and on discovering that there are varieties that I do really enjoy. That’s probably been the biggest revelation of my tea journey so far, and it makes me glad that I persevered.
I would happily purchase Mao Feng from Teavivre again – their green teas are among the best I’ve tried, and this cup only confirms that I’ll soon be back for more!
Had a nice big cup of this in the morning before heading off to work (have I mentioned how much I love my new kettle since it takes the guesswork out of temperature??).
This morning I paid more attention to it, and I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised. The leaves are such a beautiful dark green when brewed, and the liquor is a nice golden colour. The flavour is intensely vegetal – think green beans, kale, snap peas. There’s no hint of astringency or smokiness, just a really clean, green, soupy flavour.
I think that next time I’ll try this tea side-by-side with the Hunan Cloud and Mist I have from Capital Teas – I suspect this tea will win the competition.
Backlog from this morning.
I don’t remember a whole lot about this tea because I had it right before I went to work, but here’s what I do remember:
- Its leaves were darker in comparison to the Hunan Cloud and Mist green I have from Capital Tea – more of a dark olive green, curly, with no fuzz visible. The Capital Tea Cloud and Mist looks much more like a Bi Luo Chun
- The tea was a big stronger smelling, but it had less of a smoky note. More vegetal.
- The liquor was fairly mild except for the final swallow at the bottom of the cup, which had quite a buttery, green-beany taste.
This will be interesting to play with. I brewed it at 85C – I wonder what it will be like at 75?
Brewed in a glass, grandpa-style. I started drinking after a 1-minute steep.
This is probably one of those instances in which I taste a tea so differently from everyone else, or it’s probably this particular batch.
When I stuck my nose into the sample packet, I didn’t expect it smell like certain shengs I dislike: black pepper, beef stew, and a hint of apricot I was able to pull out from somewhere. As the leaves steeped in the glass, I smelled buttered popcorn.
The liquor is green-ish, full-bodied, cream-like, and savory. The flavor is very buttery (even near salty) with notes of Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and beans with a green pepper finish. I dislike green peppers, more so in my tea, if it’s not subtle. Not for me.
This tea tastes exactly how the dry leaf looks – soft, downy, and light. Though not as strong as black and green teas, this almost clear cup in no way tastes of water. It is somehow full without being at all assertive. The cup ends with an unexpected and pleasantly surprising peppery note on the breath out.
Flavors: Honey, Pepper
To celebrate my turning a quarter of a century old, I’m having this fresh Chinese spring green with my new glass tea pot and tea tray. What else could be a better solitary way to celebrate? (Besides having a tea pet for a companion!)
Brewed with a gongfu glass tea pot. Steeping times: 1 minute, 1 minute and 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 5 minutes (supposed to have been 4…).
It’s been a while since I’ve last seen such gorgeous leaves. Shaped like silver needles, they are mostly moss-green, with some having enough soft hairs to look white-ish. Their sizes range from just an inch to an inch and a half.
The dry and wet leaf bursts with a buttery, zucchini aroma. So strong, I sneezed. After the second infusion, the wet leaf gives boiled asparagus.
When steeping for the first time in the pot, the leaves look like those from an aquatic plant. That’s not tea, that’s a living creature! One leaf and a bud, two leaves and a bud, two leaves. Vivid green.
The liquor is consistently clear – not cloudy, and also almost having no color, a very, very pale green. The first infusion is creamy, having vegetal and mineral notes, and a almond aftertaste. The second infusion goes away from vegetables and we have sugar snap peas. Sweet, sweet, sweet, very sweet – yellow warblers agree! I feel calmed yet rejuvenated. After this point, the intensity of the flavors decreases and becomes less powerful. Or more gentle, depending on your outlook. Still full-bodied, the third infusion is also sweet, though in a farmer’s market ear of corn sort of way. And in the last infusion, I taste beans.
A free sample for Angel at Teavivre. Thank you
The dry leaf smelt mainly of hay with an undertone of floral scent. It looked lovely: a lot of little twisty black leaves. The liquor was a dark brown with an aroma of grain and a hint of malt. The tea itself was silky in the mouth with a light, fruity taste reminiscent of raisins, plums and honey. It’s a great afternoon tea with no bitterness or astringency. All it really needed was jam and scones to accompany it, and my afternoon would have been complete.
Flavors: Fruity, Hay, Honey, Plums, Raisins
Thanks to Angel at Teavivre for this sample. So, where does all the time go? I spend most of it sitting at this computer writing, so you would think that I would find the time to write up the various teas I have drunk, but, oh no, that does not happen. How embarrassing! It’s just a good job that I scrawl my notes on the tea with pen and paper first.
The dry leaf smells of wet wood, earth and cedar. I brewed it in a gaiwan and poured out a thick and dark liquor. It looked great and tasted pretty good too. The over-riding impression for me was a continuation of the cedar, tempered by leather, a little woodiness and something sweet and caramelly. Is that even a word? It is now. It was smooth and sweet and very enjoyable, although perhaps a little too middle-of-the-road for me. That said, I’m sure this will be many people’s cup of tea.
Flavors: Caramel, Cedar, Earth, Wet Wood
Oh goodness… As it’s steeping, this tea smells like the fresh green and floral breeze on an early summer evening. So lovely!
First steep 2 min: The first sip has that sweet flower stems flavor I have previously described for the Tea Ave flavored oolong based. It’s so sweet, but not the in your face kind like the Quangzhou Milk Oolong, but deeper. Sounds strange, but I keep thinking of how I drink iced tea in cafeterias, 90% unsweetened, topped off with just a splash of the sweetened. That faint sweetness, sugary, is what I’m getting from this steep. Also, a decent body that lingers in your mouth, like a milk oolong should!
Second steep 2 minutes: Somehow the sweetness was stronger and almost too sweet; it kinda reminded me of stevia in the way it stuck on my tongue and built. The aroma is more floral this steep. It reminds me of the veggie-sweet-creamy flavoring of the corn ice cream I had in China. A friend walked into my office and remarked that it smelled like those really high class Asian restaurants!
Third steep 2 minutes: The oolong lingering minerality is starting to come out this steep with the ever present sweetness, transforming the flavor into that of those young ears of corn you can get in mid summer, the ones where you can just snack on the whole thing like a carrot, husk, cob, and all. I’m a little suspicious that my new brita filter is making everything taste like sweet bottled mineral water… So I’m not going to add that the flavors. Dang, I bet this would be good cold brewed!
Flavors: Corn Husk, Sugarcane, Sweet
This is the Spring 2014 harvest of this tea, so I’m more than a little behind with my stash currently. I think I picked this one out today because I’ve been drinking a couple of Butiki teas, and the last Bi Luo Chun I tried was a Butiki also, and I loved it. Good memories, I suppose. I’m not a fan of all green teas, but Bi Luo Chun is one I really, really like. The dry leaf is very thin and wiry, and a little tangled. It’s quite a dark green in colour, although with some paler, and some almost white, tips. The scent is absolutely amazing – very savoury and vegetal, like spinach and green beans. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it approximately 2 minutes in water cooled to 180 degrees. The resulting liquor is a pale yellow, and (again!) smells wonderful. Not as strong as the dry leaf, but still savoury and vegetal. I love it.
To taste, it’s just as lovely as the scent led me to believe. It’s not a strong or heavy flavour, like some green teas have, but it’s not watery or a struggle to taste either. It strikes the perfect balance in my estimation – clear, clean, mid-strength flavours. It’s also perfectly smooth, with no hint of astringency, which is something else I’ve come to love about this variety. The main flavours, as in the scent, are vegetal – green beans, still, and freshly cooked spinach. A very green, very clean flavour. There’s almost a slight saltiness about it, and the tiniest hint of sweetness at the end of the sip that puts me firmly in mind of buttered green vegetables. Not that there was any doubt about that, but it’s a wonderful final flourish.
I’m really enjoying this one, and I’m glad to have found a green variety that I can really and truly say I appreciate. This is definitely one I’ll come back to in the future – hopefully with a more recent harvest! It’ll be interesting to compare and see how the harvests differ, but I like this one so much I can only hope there’s not too much difference.
This was fantastic!!! I opened the packaged and reveled these glistening moss agate curls. They were so cute and fragile. The smell was intoxicating. It was a deep rich vegetal aroma. I placed them inside my warm kyusu and waited. The aroma deepened into a robust nut and seaweed scent. I brewed up a cup and was taken back. The initial sip was a thick sweet and bold soup. This green tea is slightly spicy with deep chestnut tones. The flavor continued consistent for several steepings. I am in love with this companies spring teas! This one was fantastic and deeply rich!
Flavors: Chestnut, Nutty, Seaweed, Spinach
Guys, did I mention that I bought a variable temperature kettle on the weekend for 40% off? It is my new precious. I’ve been using it for the past few days, and oh my god, is it so nice. No more testing with thermometers or trying to gauge the temperature by the sound of the boil!
Anyways, I made some of this tea this morning after Teavivre was so kind to send me some samples. I’ve found in making this that it’s easy to underleaf because the leaf itself is somewhat large and fluffy. But this morning I put in more leaf and it turned out pretty well: nice light gold/green liquor with a nutty vegetal taste.
I detected a bit of bitterness at the end, but I was still able to finish it. I don’t know, I’ve become much more finicky about greens lately.
PS: Here’s the Amazon link for the kettle, even though I bought it at Canadian Tire: http://www.amazon.ca/Oster-Litre-Kettle-Variable-Stainless-Steel/dp/B0048BPWQE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1430931604&sr=8-2&keywords=oster+kettle
I’m pretty sure Teavivre sent me this as a sample a while ago. Using my gaiwan to do a few steeps. This stays rich in a reddish brown color through every steep. The flavor is pretty strong for only steeping it for 10 seconds at a time. The flavors are earthy, a touch of leather, and a touch of sweetness with hints of mushroom.