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Recent Tasting Notes
It’s been a while since I’ve had a TGY. Having grown accustomed to Taiwanese tea lately, I found the taste of this tea to be distinctively different from other green oolongs. This is a very flower packed tea, orchid to be precise, with a heady floral aroma. There’s little to no fruitiness or mineral notes. The flavor is like the essence of orchid with buttery tones and a hint of vanilla. I recommend short steeps because the flavor can quickly become overbearing if steeped too long.
While I enjoyed this tea, it’s not one I’d go out of my way for again. The flavor doesn’t change much from steep to steep and it’s floral aspect, though powerful, is one-dimensional. I prefer the more complex and subtle flowery notes of Wenshan Bao Zhong.
Flavors: Butter, Orchid, Vanilla
My first taste of this year’s crop of this wonderful tea. It has lived up to my expectations!
My first impression of this tea reminds me of a mild dragonwell. It has a very light liquor (almost clear) while somehow still having a full mouth of flavor and a wonderfully pleasant aroma. The taste is very vegetal, and reminds me of cut grass with perhaps a hint of spinach. The taste is light, refreshing, and cooling. It’s a great summertime tea. The taste starts off sweet and ends with a slight astringency in the finish. There is also some undertones of savoriness throughout the cup. Excellent overall.
Flavors: Grass, Metallic, Sweet
This is my second dragon well from Teavivre. I tried this side by side with their other nonpareil dragon well, She Qian, for comparison. It wasn’t even close. The She Qian, a delicate and sublime green tea, is clearly superior in every regard. The Ming Qian’s leaves have a nutty, chestnut aroma and taste. They aren’t quite as pristine as She Qian nor as tasty. The tea has a basic dragon well flavor and it’s not particularly remarkable. I would describe the flavor as a light vegetable broth. It’s not as sweet nor as refined as the other one. A pretty lackluster tea overall.
My first spring green of 2016 and definitely worth the wait. The dry leaves in a heated vessel exude a luscious creamed spinach aroma. Tea brews to a delicate, pale liquor that embodies the freshness of the leaves. There is a gentle grassiness accompanied by a a soft chestnut flavor. Eventually it transitions to a light vegetable broth. The mouthfeel is crisp and smooth. Nothing too strong or in your face. This is a pretty mellow tea as far as dragon wells go. It’s thinner than Teavivre’s Premium Dragonwell but the taste is more refined.
I recommend steeping this in a tall glass. Normally grandpa style is annoying because of leaves getting into your mouth, but I didn’t mind it here because the tender buds are so delicious. And the beauty of watching these leaf buds dancing in the water only adds to the enjoyment. A very invigorating and refreshing dragon well tea.
Flavors: Garden Peas, Grass, Spinach, Vegetables
Now this is a special tea!
Comparing it with other black teas from Teavivre, it’s in a whole other category.
First, the taste. It’s strong. Then stronger. Give this to your coffee loving friends and watch them overdose… If not, you’re doing it wrong.
Perfect for work, better for overdosing and then leaving home early…
I was getting dried fruit (maybe fig), nuts, honey and then speeding towards some light roast coffee, but without acidity.
Second, the smell is strong. Mostly reminded me of tobacco (the good smelling part of tobacco) and then some wood and malt.
Last part, the price. It’s good, it’s fair, you get more than you pay for. And if you want strong, I don’t think you can find it cheaper.
This is a 9/10 material of black teas, but for the price, it goes almost full perfect.
Tea Tumbler 250 ml, 6g for 5/10/20/30… sec @ 90°C
Flavors: Dried fruit, Tobacco, Coffee, Nuts, Honey
My last order from Teavivre was mostly black tea. This one is a really nice one for the price.
I was getting coffee, wood and maybe mushroom notes for the first 2 infusions. Later infusions revealed more citrus and cocoa flavors.
This is a good tea for casual drinking. I’m mostly brewing it with my tea tumbler for those long working hours. For gaiwan style brewing I’d recommend the Yun Nan Dian Hong Full-leaf.
Tea Tumbler 250 ml, 6g for 5/10/15/20… sec @ 90°C
Gaiwan 100 ml, 3,33g for 5/10/15/20… sec @ 90°C
Flavors: Cocoa, Coffee, Orange, Smoke, Wood
Spring 2015 harvest. Despite this tea being almost a year old, the dry leaf smells incredibly sweet and fragrant. Maybe not a pure, subtle, “fresh” aroma but still delightfully intense.
Apr 11: Brewed this Western-style, in a 16oz teapot for 3:00, 179˚F and it turned out pretty luscious, with full nutty sweet toasty flavour, maybe very slightly on the edge of burnt. They recommended 185˚F but I might lower it to 177˚or so next time. Unfortunately I was stupid and needed to insulate the pot base with more than a tea towel, so my solid wood dining table now has a round white burn print on it ໒( •́ ∧ •̀ )७
Any suggestions on removing this burn stain would be appreciated. I might try wiping it down with olive oil…
To be continued…
Flavors: Almond, Chestnut, Toasty
Leaves: tiny curled glossy leaves
Amount:1.5 tsp (light) 2 tsp (strong)
Aroma: Classic black tea
Color: golden yellow, copper (light), red copper (strong)
Taste: The really cool thing about this tea are the leaves they had a glossy finish to them. I haven’t encountered this with any other teas. I decided to do something different with this tea brewing it using two different methods dealing with light & strong flavors. Reverse method the first cup i went with a strong brew using the information i found on the Steepster blog “Tips for Measuring Dry Tea Leaf” which stated using 1.5tsp or 2tsp for 10/12oz. As stated i went with 12oz the cups was a red copper color, the texture was was very smooth mouth feel. The flavor was light but a bit bitter. On to the light brew the color was brighter it starts off as a golden yellow then deepens as more tea enters the cup. Tast wise it was the same as the previous cup but with no bitterness. It was fun trying out a different method with this tea. which lead to a more in-depth review.
Here is a mini behind the scenes story that took place as i was making the second brew:
I already had added my 1tsp into my french press then i measured out my 1/2tsp. once done i was about to add the leaves into the press when some how my left hand bumped the spoon sending tea all over the kitchen counter. so i had to clean up then re-measure it.
Thanks for this one in your sale, Ost! I’m happy I’m able to try it because it doesn’t look like it’s available anymore. I’m a little sad about that. I think I can guess why. The long, dark, wiry leaves have a much different flavor than Teavivre’s much beloved other Tan Yang: the Superfine. Fans of the Superfine might have thought this one would be more like that one. While those leaves were mostly golden and tasted like sweet potato and honey, this one is very much like tangy plums. The light amber brew is just pure tangy plums and I love it. It is almost identical to the Yunnan Dian Hong Ancient Tree that Teavivre sells and I absolutely love. It’s a pity I didn’t know about the similarities sooner, as I would have stocked up on this one. Maybe Teavivre will sell this again some day. I will be waiting! (I asked Teavivre and they replied that they were waiting to find quality Tan Yang again, so there is hope this will be available again.)
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug// 10 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 10 minutes after boiling // 3-4 minute steep
Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong is one of my favorite black teas. This one, while a little unusual, is really good.
A little lighter than what I’m used to, not as dark, not as rich but still has a really nice mouth feel. The malt and chocolate notes are present, there is definitely a starchy sweet potato thing happening but there is also some fruit – plum maybe. It’s really fruity for a ZSXZ.
This has made me very happy today. :)
Leaves: green tightly rolled balls
Steep: rinse, 5m
Aroma: classic oolong
Color: golden yellow
Taste:It’s been a long time since i had my last cup of oolong tea so this will be almost like a fresh start. To begin i gave the leaves a 10s rinse as i do with all oolong teas because of what i read online. the aroma was that off the classic oolong scent your used to. Steeped for 5m the flavor was nice with no bitterness. Overall i found this to be a great cup & can see myself drinking again. What makes this cup special is that this marks my 100th tea review! I’ve been writing reviews for 3 years & i plan to continue because this is something i enjoy doing. Thank you everyone for your continued support & answering my questions when i stepped into the world of tea :)
Leaves: white/black small twisted leaves
Aroma: sweet,citrus, orange
Taste:The aroma of this tea is great upon opening the packet i noticed a huge piece of tangerine peel surrounded by the white tea leaves. Although i can say these looked different from other leaves i seen in the past they were much darker. As with the last tea this time i used the whole packet. Once brewed it was now time for a taste this is where i probably went wrong b/c I found this tea to be bitter & lacking flavor. Maybe i used too many leaves? After a few more sips the bitterness fades & i can’t pinpoint the flavor. There is also a bitter after taste left on the tongue when finish. Over all didn’t like this tea.
Today was a beautiful day, warm weather (meaning no cold side of the head and ears, mohawk woes) and clear skies…combine that with getting a good night’s sleep (and being woken up by the smell of blooming flowers) for the first time in over a week made for a having a lovely day. I had an adventure to a part of town I don’t normally venture to procure some fried chicken and okra, because nothing says comfort food on a warm day like fried yummies. I am Southern after all, it is what my people feast on, well that and collards but that is sadly harder to find this time of year outside of a can. Now I sit and blog between waiting for coats of paint to try on my miniatures, fun times for me!
Today concludes my week of Teavivre teas with one that is very appropriate to the weather, Zheng Wei Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea, a Fujian Oolong from the An Shan Tea Garden. This Oolong is an autumn harvest and is said to be different from their other Tie Guan Yin by being less green and more floral, and considering their other TGY is pretty floral that is an impressive boast. From the moment I cut open the package I realized this boast was true, this TGY is hands down the most floral smelling one (possibly the most floral tea) I have ever sniffed. It was potent, heady, and intoxicating, notes of hyacinth, orchid, lilac, and daffodils. The last one made me immensely happy because that is not a note I get very often in teas, and I absolutely love daffodil, alongside all these flowers is a touch of green vegetation, the accompanying leaves to all the blossoms in a bouquet.
Once the leaves have steeped (and thoroughly poofed up in my xishi) the aroma takes on a delightful sweetness, one that reminds me of caramel, which I admit surprised me though not in a bad way. Alongside this sweetness was the heady elixir of hyacinth, daffodil, and orchid blossoms and the green notes of bamboo leaves and vegetation. The liquid has a buttery sweet quality, reminding me of buttery cookies and flowers, it is heady and sweet, no greenness to be detected in the steeped liquid.
Holy cow that is one buttery mouthfeel, it took me a moment to focus on what I was tasting because I was too distracted by the buttery goodness, so smooth! The taste, when I finally focused, was light, typical for a first steep, gentle notes of hyacinth and orchid with a daffodil note as well. This moves to a celery leaf almost savory quality at the finish with a lingering flowery note in the aftertaste.
I feel like I am sniffing pure undiluted liquid spring-time, it is intensely floral with green notes as well, really it is spring in a cup. The mouthfeel is still intensely buttery but with a slight slickness at the finish. The taste is light, though not as light as the first, it is intensely floral, so many flowers, like walking in a spring garden when everything is blooming. The midtaste brings in more green, notes of bamboo leaves and a touch of celery leaves, for the finish it is all sweetness, like flower nectar and honey with a very strong orchid aftertaste.
For the third steep I still feel like I am in a garden, like I am slowly sinking into a flowery field, being lulled into a heady slumber in a flower patch, it borders on being narcotic like some flowers can be. This steep is just as floral, but it takes on a real nectar quality, I feel like a hummingbird supping from various flowers in a garden. There is very little green to this steep, just a hint of bamboo. The real shine from this steep is the aftertaste, where the earlier sipping has a nectar quality, the end has a heady orchid note that stays around forever, seriously the aftertaste on this steep just would not stop, it was epic! This might be my new favorite green Tie Guan Yin, it gives many steeps and is like drinking spring.
Yesterday was Ben’s birthday, we celebrated in a nerdy fashion, we played with our miniatures all day. He worked on some of his Malifaux assembly and modification and I worked on putting together my Age of Sigmar box, (I said I would eventually fall into Warhammer and it happened, totally Ben’s fault) It feels so good to be painting again! Working on two separate game armies, random miniatures, presents for friends, and Ben’s armies, my paint table runneth over and it pleases me, maybe I will have all my current projects finished by the time my Reaper kickstarter arrives in October, but I doubt it!
Today I am continueing my look at some of Teavivre’s teas, with a long time favorite tea style of both Ben and me, a moonlight! Moonlight Beauty Raw Pu-erh Loose Tea is a lovely pile of silvery buds that could pass for a Baihao Yinzhen, but this is from Xishuangbanna in Yunnan, and while it is similar in production to white tea, it is technically a Puerh. Of course the real difference is in aroma and taste, and the aroma of these fuzzy leaves is grand. Notes of hay and honey blend with savory (the herb rather than the descriptor) sage, tomato leaves (moonlight always smells vaguely like tomato leaves and I have no idea why) and a finish of pollen and wildflowers. It is mellow but very distinct and sweet with herbaceous qualities.
I got to use my big engagement gaiwan for this session since I was sharing with Ben, the aroma of the not so fuzzy leaves blends sweet and savory notes pretty well, with pollen, hay, and honey on the sweet side and lettuce, sage, and tomato leaves on the more savory side. The liquid however is all sweetness, with notes of wildflowers, hay, honey, and pollen. It has a distinct summery quality, like being in a field when all the flowers are in bloom.
For a tea called moonlight, I have always thought it looks like a cup of sunlight. It kinda tastes like sunlight, mixing smooth honey and pollen with lettuce and sage, and a finish of hay. It has a wildflower aftertaste that lingers for some time, it reminds me of a field again, which is great.
Onward to the second steep without delay, the aroma has taken a creamy note, like creamy raw honey with definite wildflower and pollen notes and a finish of hay and lettuce. The taste does not change much from steep to steep, it stays strong with notes of honey and hay with the lingering wildflower notes that do not quit. Of course the best part of this tea is its staying power, it just goes for a while, I think I got eight steeps before it started fading away.
Overall I don’t think Bi Luo Chun is my favourite type of tea, but the Teavivre version seems to be higher quality than the “Supreme Bi Luo Chun” I got from Dragon Tea House. The leaves are more intact and tightly curled, less ‘dust’, and have a more intense fragrance; floral perfume.
I used about half the sample (3g) in my 150ml glass gaiwan and skipped the rinse.
1st infusion: (30s, 178˚F)
Nutty, slightly savoury aroma with light vegetable broth flavour, and fresh and clear like spring water. (The DTH 碧螺春 had cloudy suspension, probably from the tea ‘dust’.) Ever so slightly astringent, maybe I need to go down to 2g of leaf or lower the temperature.
2nd infusion: (50s, 177˚F)
This was pretty astringent and tastes “off”. I think I overleafed or maybe I need to brew this at 175˚. Will try experimenting with the second half of the sample but yeah, apparently I find 碧螺春s really difficult to brew! Sticking with Dragon Wells as my favourite green for now.
Flavors: Grass, Nuts, Vegetable Broth
Console exclusive games infuriate me to no end, seriously. I have an Xbox, both the One and the 360, mostly because the only people I ever play with have those systems have them and I have gotten used to the Xbox, I like it and will continue to play them, but I really wish I lived in a world where the console war and exclusive games didn’t exist. I love Ark, but I am so sad that it is no available to PS4 players…but they get to have access to two games I want but can’t have because of being on the Xbox. Street Fighter V and more importantly No Man’s Sky, I want that game so badly, it looks amazing but I can’t play it. I AM CRYING BITTER TEARS ON MY CONTROLLER!! It really would be simpler if I had a gaming PC, but that will be something for the future, maybe. Ok, end nerd rant, tea time!
Continuing on with Teavivre week, today I am looking at Yunnan Gongfu Fragrant Black Tea, a hong cha from Fengqing, Yunnan, one of my favorite regions for making the glorious red teas that I’m hopelessly addicted to. Dianhongs are my drug, no lies. The name of this tea is no exaggeration, it is immensely fragrant, you open the bag and whoosh, face full of aroma! There are notes of intensely sweet cocoa and yams with brown sugar, malt, and a finish of gentle woody notes. It is very sweet and rich without being too much of either. I might have giggled with glee sniffing this tea while awaiting my kettle’s heating.
Into my teapot the oh so fragrant leaves go for their first steep, upon steeping it is time once again for sniffing. The notes coming off the wet leaves is intense! Notes of malt, cocoa, yams, peanut, pumpkin, mineral, molasses, and a very tiny hint of rose. It is really complex, pretty much every note I associate with Dianghong is present, which is impressive. The liquid is a touch lighter, sweet notes of brown sugar and pumpkin with a delicate pastry and chocolate note, it is quite sweet.
The first steep surprised me, for such a strong fragrance the taste is really light. Starting with gentle mineral notes and almost effervescent sweetness that dances across my palate. It is reminiscent of both cane sugar and brown sugar with a delicate cocoa woodiness. The finish is sweet and lingering with a light honey quality.
Second steep is where it is at! The aroma stays strong with notes of cocoa and brown sugar with a definite pumpkin and yam quality. Well, the taste takes a hint and brings in the yams and toasted peanuts, but imagine that with notes of pastry and cocoa and a finish of brown sugar and mineral. It almost reminds me of peanut brittle now that I think about it, but with sweet potatoes and cocoa, delicious!
For the third steep the aroma stays strong, but starts to pick up woody and a slight camphor note, at the finish there is a hint of pepper and a stronger mineral note as well, making it less sweet but more complex. This steep surprised me a bit, where the mouthfeel earlier was smooth and a bit thick, this one is thick and slippery with a salivary affect giving it an extra thickness. The taste is woodier, the intense sweetness is replaced with a woody richness reminiscent of cacao shells and a touch of very distant camphor. The finish and aftertaste is where all the sweetness of this steep is, ending with brown sugar and delicate yams. This tea went for several more steeps before giving up the ghost, finishing out with a very pleasant mineral quality.
A sample of the 2015 April harvest, almost a year old and still exquisite. Such a delicate aroma, juicy mouthfeel, and complex yet balanced and soothing taste. I can’t imagine a Silver Needle getting much better than this.
Brewed at 167˚F, 5g leaf, 150ml glass gaiwan. High quality leaves, few broken bits. Skipped the rinse.
1st infusion: (45s)
The aroma is amazing. Beautiful, smooth, reminiscent of roses in moonlight. Such a creamy mouthfeel, not bitter at all.
2nd infusion: (60s)
The liquor has this invigorating yet delicate, musky fragrance. It is full-flavoured, tastes like some creamy fruit. I can see why some people say melon, but that’s not exactly what it tastes like to me. Maybe dragonfruit or something?
3rd infusion: (90s)
Leaves still smell potent. Liquor has not slowed down. Barely very slight astringency in aftertaste.
4th and 5th infusions: (105s, 140s)
Mellowing, getting lighter. 5th is light and elegant. No astringency.
6th infusion: (180s)
Nice finish, still thickish mouthfeel. It’s not water.
Flavors: Cantaloupe, Cedar, Cream, Floral, Hay, Smooth
An Ark update is headed my way that has me full of excitement! Not because of the horribly hard caves or wooly rhinos, not because of breeding phase 2 or the Eurypterid, no my friends, it is for the Dunkleosteus! One of my favorite deep sea monstrosities from the Devonian age, this giant fish had no teeth, instead it had interlocking bony plates and an armored head, but more importantly it had a crazy fast bite speed, making its mouth deadly. Since the only real fossil record is of its bony face, we don’t have a clear idea of what its body looked like, it could have been a longish fish or if you are like me and come up with wild theories, it could have been an eel! Like I said, wild theory that is wildly unlikely, but very fun, I love the Dunkleosteus and I am glad it is getting some Ark love, can’t wait to tame one!
Time to put down the dinosaur geeking and move on to my other major geek out source, tea! Today I am looking at Teavivre’s Tangerine Peel White Tea, a Shoumei White Tea from 2010 shoved into a tangerine peel and then dried in the sun, at least I think these are dried in the sun since that is how Shou shoved in a tangerine is created. It is said that the tangerine peel is good for cough and chest complaints, and white tea is known to have cooling Qi, so I was thinking this would be a great tea to drink during allergy season, plus I love tangerines, so blending the flavor with white tea seems most excellent. The aroma of the leaves and peel is intensely sweet, the comparison the website makes to orange candies is not far off, though conveniently it smells like tangerine and not artificial flavor like so many candies have. Actually candies is not entirely fair, it is more like candied orange peel with a strong honey note. There are underlying notes of hay and melon, but mostly the dry leaves really showcase the citrus.
I tossed the fluffy leaves and peel bits into a teapot and gave them a steeping, the aroma of the leaves is still heavy on the tangerine and intense honey sweetness, but now there are also notes of lettuce and a touch of celery. The liquid is a blend of lettuce, freshly broken hay, tangerine, and sticky sweet honey. It smells warm and sweet and I cannot wait to drink it.
The first steep is very mild, I was expecting a giant tangerine explosion in my face, but the tangerine is more in the aroma and aftertaste. The main notes in this steep are gentle melon sweetness, lettuce crispness, and a sun-warmed hay finish. It has a smooth mouthfeel and a gentle cooling feel in my chest and stomach, refreshing on a warm day!
The aroma of the second steep manages to be even more tangerine, mixing fresh juicy tangerine and candied orange peel with honey and a touch of lettuce and melon. Wow, this steep brings the citrus! It has notes of honey drenched tangerine, slightly sour orange (hello salivary glands) and a definite candied peel note that lasts forever. This tea is not all citrus goodness though, there are also strong notes of lettuce and hay with a slight melon note at the midtaste. It is delightfully sweet and smooth and has a bit of a thickness to its mouthfeel.
For the third steep, the aroma does not change really, pretty sure you could stick the second and third steep under my nose and I would not know the difference. Tasting is pretty similar too, it lacks any sour notes and is all candied orange peel and tangerine sweetness, with strong honey notes and delicate melon. It manages to be both warming and cooling, though the warming comes mostly from the sunny notes present in the citrus, it always registers as summery and warm in my mind. The sensation of cooling is pleasant, not as intense as some shengs can get, but certainly feels soothing on my insides. This tea went for several more steeps, eventually the orange notes faded and I was left with lots of sweet white tea, I really enjoyed it and plan on saving the rest of my sample for a cold steep experiment come summer time!