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Recent Tasting Notes
Backlog from a few days ago.
I got this as a free sample from Angel a few weeks ago – Teavivre is so generous and I really appreciate them for it!
Now, I have a confession to make: I’ve never tried Keemun before this tea. The impression that I got was that it was a really “grainy” tasting tea, and that left me a bit trepidatious. A lot of my teas end up tasting really alkaline, like pretzels, for some reason, even when I use filtered water (I think I may need to seriously descale my kettle). So having a tea that was going to deliberately taste like that left me wary.
I needn’t have worried: although I did get a tiny touch of that pretzel/alkaline note at the back, the strongest notes I got from this tea (steeped at 90C for 3-4 mins, 1 tsp/8 oz) was a sweet note very similar to spiced plums.
I ended up brewing this again the next day, and I experimented by using 100C water instead of 90C water. That was not the best idea – the flavour is much nicer and more complex at the lower temperature.
Thank you Angel at Teavivre for this sample. It took me a while to get around to this tea because I am always watching my caffeine at night and rarely have much time in the morning. This tea was worth the wait. I am glad I have another sample of this tea to try gongfu style. I brewed this western style this morning. There are strong notes of chocolate or cocoa in this tea, with a mild backing of malt. Notes of caramel seem present too. I would venture to say that this is backed by notes of baked bread. This is a really good black tea. I will definitely have to buy some the next time I put in an order with Teavivre.
I brewed this once in an 18oz teapot with 3 tsp leaf and 195 degree water for 2 min.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Chocolate, Malt
Thank you to Angel at TeaVivre for this sample!
I used about 6g of leaf in my 100ml Gaiwan. This was a light roasted green oolong. It was nice for the cold afternoon. Even though this was a roasted oolong there were still hints of fruit and floral that seeped through the roasty flavor. I haven’t had too many oolongs that were moderately roasted. This was enjoyable tea, but not my favorite flavor profile.
This was a very strange tasting for me. I previously brewed this and I remember it being a delicious experience. This time around it wasn’t as enticing. The dry leaves have a beautiful appearance. With full twisted stems and leaves, this forest green tea had me hooked. It was speckled with blonde tips and silver hairs. With its aging it had deepened and became a darker colour. I was very excited to steep this in my sheng Yixing. I used less grams because of the size of the leaves. Upon being steeped, the aroma of spinach and wet sage filled the air. There were undertones of lychee and artichoke inside the pot. I began my first round and the flavor was very nulled. The only consistent prominence with this brew was the sheng mouth feel. It had a very dominant menthol sheng flavor each steep. Other than that flavor though, it was mostly a faint grassy taste. I could hint at a light earth taste but otherwise it was nill. This brew was flat and I had no more success each steep. The qi was rather weakened. The soup was still pleasurable but the flavor was very lacking.
Flavors: Artichoke, Eucalyptus, Lychee, Menthol, Sage, Spinach, Wet Rocks
I don’t think I’ve ever felt punched in the face by an orchid before. But this first steep was practically like chewing on an orchid dipped in butter. A full minute was FAR too long.
That said, the next 4 steeps were lovely. A minute and a half for the second steep worked out just fine, and the orchid was softer and the cream heavier. Each steep after gave pretty wonderfully until the very last, when it felt spent. I have never had an oolong this intense before, and I think with a reduced first steep, I’d get more out of the leaves in general. I would totally buy more of this knowing that.
Not for the faint of heart or haters of florals.
Thank you to Angel at TeaVivre for this generous sample!
My husband and I love to travel on the weekends, but this winter in an effort to save money for our upcoming summer road trip we decided to hang around home. It has been a lot of fun. My little one has gotten to do her first set of swim lessons, we have made a tradition of grilling meat from the Local Pig on Saturday night and Saturday afternoon has turned into a lazy book and and now that I am drinking tea again, tea time. This is the tea this afternoon.
While looking around on the Teavivre site I finally found the brewing instructions. It sure beats trying to read the tiny lettering on the package! This one said 7g in 3oz Gaiwan. Seems like a lot but, in the tea went. I brewed this one up per the steeping instructions. Despite my qaiwan overflowing with leaf, this turned out wonderful. I get hints of floral, some buttery feel on the tongue and the end part of the sip is somewhat cucumber flavor. I do not get any hints of bitterness. This is going to be a great tea for the afternoon. For the price point I am pretty excited about this one. Thank you again Teavivre for letting me sample this one!
The dry leaves are very dark with green and white spotting. Being aged, it has lost most of color and calmed out. I am brewing with my sheng yixing pot at 212 degrees and 100ml. The liquor is a pale opaque amber. It has a light eerie glow. The steeped leaves expand to full and stemmed leaves w/ bud. They smell of tobacco, smoke, pine and a sharp green essence. They hint undertones of sweet rum and cured leather. I always enjoy Fengquing sheng and Teavivre never disappoints. The brew begins sharp and dusted. It quickly calms and becomes floral. It tastes of grassy wildflowers. Each brew still packs a punch but soothes with a sugary nectar. I believe with aged sheng the Qi does not die down but becomes slow acting. With this brew it slowly awakens during drinking. It is slow acting but still very prominent.
Flavors: Dandelion, Pine, Raisins, Smoke
Wanted a Friday-worthy tea today to enjoy after yin yoga and a swim. Cooked up a pot of miso-mushroom-soba soup and got down with this tea while I waited for it to finish. Was not disappointed.
If the allure of its curly golden cuteness and wonderful chocolatey steam-breath doesn’t get you, the flavor will. This tea’s a charmer. Smooth, nice body and plenty of soft, nearly-sweet flavor. It has a good deal of depth even though it’s not a full-throttle black. The chocolate is more pronounced in the aroma but still present in the sip.
The caramel noted by fellow Steeps tasted more like a good quality butterscotch to me. There’s something else umami about it, couldn’t pin it down, and a faint hint of some fruit that I’ll try to figure out in future steeps. Will check for that sweet potato next time, too, didn’t catch that.
Another high quality tea from Teavivre, thank you for the surprise offer of samples to try!
Flavors: Butterscotch, Chocolate
I’m itching to sample another Pu-erh tea. Thanks to Angel, that itch will be scratched this morning!
I cut open the silver sample package and snorted deeply. The familiar earthy smell was present but there was also a musty attribute to it. It reminded me of when I open a drawer filled with old clothes.
I don’t know if it’s old age catching up to me but I am finding it increasingly more difficult to read the tiny directions on Teavivre’s sample packaging. I couldn’t quite make out the recommended steeping time so I brewed the dark brown matted and clumped leaves and “cake” for three minutes at 212 degrees.
The brewed color was a dark brownish amber, like maple syrup. The aroma was earthy and leathery, what I expected from a Pu-erh tea. The musty attribute had disappeared from the smell.
I didn’t find the flavor as robust as some of the other Pu-erh teas that I have sampled recently. I wondered if this was a result of the shorter steeping time, the more recent processing time, or a combination of both.
In any event, the flavor was mostly smooth and unmistakably Pu-erh. As I slurped more and more from my cup, the attribute that I had earlier tagged as musty in the unbrewed odor began to creep into the flavor. This peculiarity lingered on my taste buds as a slightly bitter note. The quirk didn’t ruin my experience with the tea but it wasn’t something that I cherished either. After almost a full cup of the brew, my brain (and buds) seemed to learn how to push most of the musty trait aside.
I can’t deny that I would have been more enthusiastic about this tea without the flavor foible. I also would have appreciated a richer and more powerful Pu-erh taste. However, that being said, this is still a decent Pu-erh offering from Teavivre.
Flavors: Earth, Leather, Musty
Another wonderful sample generously provided by Angel and Teavivre! Thanks!
This is my least favourite of the three blacks that I received in my most recent package – it was still wonderfully smooth, but there was less chocolate, and more of the “regular black tea” profile, that I don’t really care for (which consists of primarily hay-y notes, I think). Still an excellent quality tea, just not a profile that was to my liking.
Tea provided by Teavivre for review
Trying the third black tea from a sample pack that Teavivre sent me recently. Yet again, I’m using short steeps as suggested on their website to taste test it. Black tea is often prepared western style with long steeps. I prefer to short steep black tea, especially if it’s of good quality because it will yield many good short infusions to taste.
Straight from the first sip, this tea blew me away. The flavours are far from what I expected. Just glancing at the name of the tea I figured, ‘oh ok, here is another yummy Yunnan Dian Hong tea to try’. Sipping the tea and smelling the cup, there is a distinct umami aroma. I’ve yet to try a tea I’d consider to be savory. There is also a very enjoyable woodsy, floral and roasted flavour. Also a bit of earthy, and mild sweetness in the background. The tea base mixed the savory flavour makes for a very bold first cup of tea.
On the third steep, there was more of an almost sour and tart flavour. It wasn’t strong enough to make my face pucker, but because it’s unusual to taste in tea it tastes strong to my senses. As I resteeped all the way to a seventh cup, the tea maintained a consistent bold flavour. It tasted a bit weaker on the sixth and seventh steeps, but the flavour and liquour colour is much stronger and darker than I anticipated.
Overall I was very pleased with this tea. I’d like to use the recommend option on Steepster for this one, but it brings such bold and unique flavours that I know that would be off putting for some people.
I’m used the word bold a lot to describe this tea, and even that doesn’t really fully describe the sensations it brings. It has a balance of potent flavours (roasted, woodsy, earthy, savory, floral, sweetness, spice, and tartness) that you usually don’t taste in tea. Usually if a tea is bold/potent it’s in a bad way, such as being off balanced, bitter, or too pungent (the opposite of what a well balanced, delicate tea would be). If I had to compare this tea with any other, it would be similar in sensation to a strong Sun Moon Lake black tea. Both of them have bold flavours, but still maintain a good balance and are not recommended for tea lovers that want a subtle tea.
On recommendations, I think the savory nature of the tea makes it a good one to sip during winter. Where I live it has been brutally cold the past couple of months. The bold savory characteristics gave me a pleasant feeling of cozy warmth, similar to what I feel when I drink strong chai or Lapsang Souchong.
Short steeping as suggested by Teavivre’s website: rinse, 15s, 25s, 35s, 45s, 60s, 75s, 90s
Flavors: Earth, Floral, Roasted, Tart, Umami, Wood
Sample from Angel – thank you as always for your continuous generosity. this is one of those mineral like teas for me. there’s a bit of sweetness here but mostly it’s that mineral like taste that, in roasty ooolong teas develops in to that taste that i don’t like. However, in this tea it’s pleasant…making for a very light cup. I don’t think i’d pick this one up but i’m really glad for the chance to sample it as would have been one that i would have likely ordered to try out. I see this finding it’s home with someone who likes those sort of roasty mineral like teas….though this is certainly got a sweetness to it that is very pleasant.
I have the day off from work today! Not only is that a great thing by itself, but it also means I can really concentrate on this new tea sample from Teavivre. Thanks, Angel!
When I opened the sample package, the “cake” had the expected matted, grassy, compost-like appearance. The aroma was strong, leather, and earthy, but there was also a sharp edge to it.
I steeped the entire sample package in 16 ounces of boiling water for eight minutes. It seemed like a long brewing time at that high temperature but I was game since I like strong robust teas.
The brewed color was a muddy brown. The odor was, surprisingly, much milder than the unbrewed smell. It was undeniably Pu-erh, but not unpleasant.
My first sip was loaded with the unmistakable Pu-erh taste that I’m accustomed to and actually like. It was deeply earthy and leathery. This selection also had a slightly sweet attribute that I found quite enjoyable. The whole concoction was very smooth. Each swallow streamed gently down my throat with delightful bliss. No astringency appeared on my taste buds and the aftertaste was equally sweet and pleasing.
In summary, this is a very nice Pu-erh from Teavivre. It’s not the strongest one I have encountered (even after brewing at 212 degrees for eight minutes) but it is among the sweetest and most satisfying that I have experienced. Great flavor with no face-scrunching bitterness.
Flavors: Compost, Earth, Leather, Sweet
You can tell this is an Arbor tree by its bold and muddled flavor. Its not as bold and deep as an ancient tree or old tree but still it has a very distinct flavor. It starts with a dark underbrush taste and continues as mellow and fungal. The aroma is one of newt and wet granite. Its almost as a walk through the forest after a rainstorm. The liquor brews into a dirty red liquor, which is a fantastic Shou. The wet leaves let out an encompassing aroma of moss and stone. Arbor tree tea usually has a very consistent taste profile and keeps a very stable brew. I’m sure to get steeps well into the night with these leaves.
Flavors: Wet Moss, Wet Wood
Thank you Teavivre for these beautiful samples. This Sheng is relatively dark brown with little bits of silver and gold buds. The aroma was intoxicating. I let it rest out for a small amount of time and the scent became stronger. I noted that it hadn’t been aged completely properly but that was not a problem. Upon brewing it was a golden pale stew. The liquor was sweet smelling with a hint of smoke. I was able to steep 12 times before I had to leave my home. I know it would have been able to be steeped more and more. I am always a Sheng fan and Teavivre will help me to continue being one.
Flavors: Leather, Menthol, Plums, Tobacco
The lovely Angel sent this one my way so that i could try it out. I was excited by this one, since i have really enjoyed teavivre’s keemuns in the past and because i am running low on keemuns in my cupboard. this isn’t my favoutite keemun fro teavivre though it’s a really nice cup. It just doesn’t have those slightly almost smokey notes in it that i really enjoy from teavivre’s other keemuns. Ithis one has a smooth body with a tiny bit of malt, a little honey and just some nice tea. While this doesn’t scream keemun to me..it IS a nice tea and it could have a place in my cupboard as just a tea i drink heh
This is another sample from Teavivre – a bit of a puerh tour, how fun is that! Want to start by saying that I am going to have to try short-steeping this next time because it appears my fellow Steeps are appreciating this more than I am; I did like it, though. Did a 10s rinse then 4x 2-3 minute steepings. I kept waiting for the creaminess and other high points to appear, no luck.
All the steepings had earth and just the barest sweetness, with a bit of astringency in the aftertaste. 1st and 2nd steeps had tobacco, 2nd had mushroom with a whisper of chocolate (my favorite steeping), 3rd had damp earth and wood smoke, 4th back to a bit of mushroom and what I could almost but not quite call floral that’s in the tea’s description.
Wondering if it’s my method or my taste buds…
Another sample from the generous Angel!
Before brewing this (Western style for me), I had finished a mug of the Superfine Keemun Mao Feng that I have recently been super impressed by.
I wasn’t sure what to expect of a “red black” tea.
First sip, I was surprised at how…sour (?) it seemed to taste on my tongue!
Not BAD, but nowhere near as sweet as the aforementioned Keemun.
It was a light color, and it had sort of a strange taste that felt somehow familiar to me, but I couldn’t place my finger on it. The closest I came was like kind of a bitter raisins taste. But I’m not entirely sure.
I appreciate the opportunity to try this one, but it’s not one I would purchase.
Perhaps gong fu style would make a big difference overall.
I’m not rating this time around because I feel like I need to try my second sample first :)
This would be a good puerh, as others note, to use as an intro for the uninitiated. It has a pleasant woodsy, fresh-mushroomy, wet-leaf atmosphere without being at all dank (or fishy). Also there’s some distinct clean leather in the first steep, nice. Medium body, not too light. Smooth, no edge. A hint of sweetness leaning toward malt as well. Also leaves a nice little tingle in the mouth.
Thanks to Teavivre for sending a sample of this my way, I am enjoying it!
I am a puerh noob, particularly raw. I think I like it, but it is an interesting flavor. It is a bit sweet but also a bit bitter. There is a quality I was having trouble describing, but seeing the other flavors listed here as including menthol, and it makes perfect sense now. I steeped this four times, then got tired of it and wanted to move on to new things. I think that is my biggest challenge with puerh. I love that it can give and give…but I like too much variety to stick with one thing all day. Perhaps I just need more steepers. Hmm…