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Recent Tasting Notes


I found a couple of unopened sample packs of Dragon Pearls in one of my tea tins. The weather’s turned icy today where I am, and it’s just about perfect for black teas and oolongs, but I’m almost out of all my autumn and winter teas. So I’ve been brewing these pearls up and trying to decide what to make of them.

The dry tea is gorgeous – tightly made pearls with a scent of chocolate, fresh bread, malt, and a hint of new leather. I like to steep about 4 pearls in about 200-250ml water for quite a long time; 5 minutes or more, and add a very small splash of milk to temper the slight astringency from the long steep time, and to enhance the chocolate and malt notes.

And it’s delicious – sweet and light with a mildly floral and honey aftertaste, but I feel like I’m missing the dark and mature, black-tea-taste.

195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 200 ML

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Receiving samples like this make me excited to buy from Teavivire in the future!

I had two great sesisions with this sheng and wasn’t disappointed. The wet leaves had the aroma of dates and wet straw. the soup tasted malty, but with what I can only describe as a “pepper” or “green chile” first note -which I wasn’t expecting at all. Mid way through my sessions the soup had a slight maple aroma, and a nutty caramel taste like brie cheese baked with brown sugar. Later infusions were tobacco flavored, smooth, and cooling.

This is by far the most dynamic sheng I’ve tasted in my short time, and one to remember.

The sample also had a strong influence on my physical body. The first session was very rough on my stomach, and made me feel very “full” with no appetite. My mouth was watering for hours afterward. BUT after the discomfort, and with the second session I felt energized and balanced.

Flavors: Malt, Maple, Pepper, Tobacco

5 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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This is a solid performer of a tea. It is not as good as their Nonpareil Ancient Tree Wild Tree but is pretty good. It has notes of malt and notes of chocolate in there. It’s got very little bitterness and just a little astringency. Overall I have to give this one a good rating.

I brewed this once in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 3 tsp leaf and 195 degree water for 5 min.

Flavors: Chocolate, Malt

195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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This is a complex tea. I get a number of different notes. Fruity, malt, spices, honey, brown sugar, dried fruit and molasses. I also seem to get a chocolate note. This is an interesting and tasty tea that I am just getting around to trying. Bought it with my last order during their sale on oolong. I’m afraid it only got brewed western style. I’m too lazy to brew gongfu at five in the morning when I can’t sleep.

I brewed this once in a 16oz Glass Teavana Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 3 tsp leaf and 190 degree water for 3 min.

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Chocolate, Dried Fruit, Fruity, Honey, Malt, Molasses, Spices

3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

This is my favorite black tea from Teavivre

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OMG this tea! I melt. It’s Ginseng but not overwhelming and it’s sweet!

So I was trying to make lots of tea for my drive to San Francisco (which is only an hour, but I know I’ll be sipping tea and singing tunes the whole way). Followed the instructions for 1 tsp @ boiling for 3 min per 16oz for each steep (3 total, this time).

First steep was soooo yummy! Sigh. It’s just a dreamy tea. I ordered 100g, but I kinda wish I had gotten more! I know I’m greedy. It was just the perfect balance of oolong and ginseng and surprisingly ohh so sweet. Savor this first steep!

Second steep, the ginseng taste is very muted but the oolong sings. It’s more on the green side of oolong but still full but light. I brewed at 3 mins, but I wish I had brewed longer. The bag instructions say 3-8 min. At this point the leaves are just barely beginning to crinkle open. And these leaves are wrapped tight! There is very little mouth dryness, but most of the sweetness had disappeared.

Third steep was washed out, but that’s my fault, it definitely could have used alot more than 3 min. The leaves were still barely open, but I was already running late, so it steeped for the minimum amount of time. I have to appreciate this tea again on a day when I have the time to let it sit and unfurl its beauty!

This tea works really well at 212 as teavivre recommends, but usually I brew most teas at 180-185, so I wonder how it’ll change it.

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195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 15 sec

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Thanks to TeaVivre for including this sample with one of my purchases. I don’t know which harvest this is – it has been a while since I placed an order with TV (mostly because I still have so many of their teas in my cabinet).

I woke up wanting a sturdy straight tea with strong bread and honey notes. In other words, I woke up cold and wanted something to warm my soul. After a bit of digging, I found this one. The dry leaf smells sweet, with a hint of breadiness. I dumped the whole sample packet in my nifty gaiwan/teapot hybrid and hoped for the best.

First steep: 194f, 1 min. A few of the smaller leaves escaped the spout, so I poured through a strainer. The brew is a lovely dark amber. It smells like Russian bread and honey, with an undercurrent that I can’t quite place. Leather maybe? The flavor has an odd astringency. It’s almost tangy. Maybe I’ve had this too long and the leaves have turned?

Second steep: 200f, 1 min 15 secs. This steep has the same lovely color as the first. The astringent leather notes are still here, though.

Third steep: 196f, 1 min 30 secs. Nope. I’m done. The astringency isn’t going anywhere and this is starting to make my stomach hurt. Somewhere under the astringency is some breadiness, but mostly it’s that leather-ish flavor.

No rating because I don’t know how old the leaf is, but definitely not sad to say this is a sipdown.

Flavors: Astringent, Leather


Ugh. better luck with your next tea!


Thanks. I went for Butiki’s White Rhino, which I absolutely adore.


great choice! Looks like a lot of us are having a butiki day.

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I got a big bag of this in the mail! Yay!

What’s the drinking equivalent to NomNomNom? Haha.

I think I prefer the comparatively gentle flavor of natural milk oolong better, but the natural ones can be all over the board in flavor profiles, not totally a bad thing, but when you’re craving a particular flavor… At least with this I got what I was expecting and I can expect to get relatively the same taste every time I order.

By the way, these expand a LOT. They’re on the smaller side of leaf size, but there’s alot of them! and they really bloom!

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This is a delicious, high quality silver needle tea. It has a light body and sweet, soothing taste. Steeped at higher temperatures, I get a lot more of the hay and corn. For me the sweet spot for this tea was around 165 F at 1 min. That produces the most balanced cup with a mild nuttiness, natural sweetness, and pleasant vegetal notes.

Although I still prefer jasmine scented silver needles, this is easily the best straight silver needle tea I’ve ever had. Just the tea to help unwind and relax before bedtime.

Flavors: Corn Husk, Hay, Sweet

165 °F / 73 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 4 OZ / 118 ML

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found this one a bit bitter compared to my other milk Oolong, cant remember who it was from.

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I received a sample of this tea from Angel at TeaVivre. Thank you!

This sample is about a year old. While the nugget was cooking it completely made me disinterested in drinking any tea, or hot drinks for that matter. So this one sat. I am so sad that it sat as long as it did, because it was so delicious. I spent the weekend at a friends house this weekend. Her and I took on our 5 kids all under the age of 3. It was intense, but we managed some down time to enjoy tea in the evenings. She is a oolong fan and so I brought this sample packet along to have her try. I want to sit with this one again this week to get a better feel for it, but it was remember able and made me want to buy copious amounts of this tea to make sure I never run out.

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I’m drinking a sample of an older version of this. It’s a pretty good tea, but not what I usually like in a Dian Hong (which is basically lots of sweetness and maltiness). I basically want a malted milk ball in a cup without the chocolate coating. This tea’s flaw is the mild bitter tannin I taste at the end. I’d probably do a shorter steep next time. This review might sound critical, but it’s only that way because Teavivre is one of my favorite companies, so I have very high expectations for their teas.

185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 30 sec

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Ok, so this sample is probably 2 years old…But it’s still tasty. Like, chocolate milk or something. Just ridiculously chocolatey and smooth. I hope these things are restocked sometime soon. I’d like to taste what this tea is like when it’s fresh.

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

They are back in stock.


Hm. I swear I looked up “pearl” on their site earlier today and it didn’t come up…But there they are! Thanks!

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Finishing an old sample that I got from someone or maybe I bought it myself…

So good. I’m really enjoying this type of tea a lot. Its nice without anything added, which means I don’t have to worry about cleaning my travel mugs. :)

I brought this to volunteering today, and I’m going to credit it with the magic charm of snagging me all the wool and all the linen. Seriously. All of it. 2 LARGE bags of scraps, plus 12 pieces that are probably all 3m+ each. Plus I got more on Thursday. So now I have to wash/dryclean all the fabrics, and then make all the clothes and costumes…


Ugh, I bought a whole bag of this back in January and haven’t even opened it yet, and it’s over 100km away. Tsk tsk.

You’re sure a busy bee, you little seamstress!


You need to rescue your tea! :)

Oh, mostly I had no nice clothes left. I make things in bursts, then wear it till it wears out then start sewing again. Haha. But hopefully I’ll be able to make enough stuff now that I won’t have to worry about costumes for aeons, and I’ll have more office appropriate clothes to last a long time.


That’s awesome! I’m too lazy to learn how to sew haha. But would that ever be a handy skill to know.


For me it’s also a type of relaxation, or art. And I get something out of it that fits, which is great. I’ve been sewing a LONG time now (Oh gods, like 20 years) so I’m pretty comfortable making a lot of things now. :) Some of the fabric I have might become a suit jacket. I want a riding style jacket SO BAD, but nothing ever fits because I’m so short waisted and narrow across the upper back. I’m kinda excited. One of a cotton to test whatever pattern I end up with, and then one of black wool twill, and then one of plaid, etc. :D :D


Oh, those fabrics sound awesome for a suit jacket, especially the twill and plaid. I’d love to see pictures when you finish the project! I wish I had the means and know-how to at least alter some of the clothes I already have. One of the blouses I bought last year specifically for interviews, and has never been worn until now because of crazy events, is now too big on me so it’s one of those situations where I’d like to make it smaller but can’t, but don’t want to get rid of it either since I paid quite a bit for it.


:) Yeah, altering clothing is a whole other ballgame. There are lots of tutorials online, though! That’s how I get through a lot of technique things. “Someone must have posted a tutorial…” and sure enough, there are always lots to choose from!


That’s true! But I’m too lazy to get a sewing machine, or even try by hand. I’m sure it takes up a lot of your spare time. I’d rather use that for other things haha.

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Thank you Angel for this sample.

The mood struck me for some Pu Erh steeped western style which I almost never do, usually because I enjoy the ceremony in making tea traditionally. Today however I am making Christmas decorations as the craft bug has bitten and I have no time for tea traditions at the moment. Still need tea though!

As I open the sample pack I am impressed by the large pieces of tangerine peel, hopefully that will mean it’s got a lot of orange flavour.

Once steeped this has a mild yet sweet orange scent with some dry earth undertones.

Flavour is rich and dark with earth, dry wood, sweet orange and a light, creamy after taste. It is very orange in comparison to the actual strength which is about average thickness. The sweetness is a nice contrast to the dry earth tones and the melody lingers nicely in the after taste.

I shall keep re-steeping this until it’s completely spent, but at least it’s a comforting and delicious aid to my crafting.

Flavors: Drying, Earth, Orange, Wood

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 7 g 17 OZ / 500 ML

amazing! ive tried this type of tea before. it was spicy like a black tea and had orange taste

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The first time I tried this, I used a lower water temperature than suggested, because 212 just seemed too high. I wasn’t very fond of the result. I guess they know what they’re doing. :) Now that I’ve used boiling water, I like it. Sweet floral flavor, and the aftertaste lasts a while. I usually like darker oolongs, so this still isn’t a favorite, but for a lighter oolong, it is good.

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
alexander&james tea co.

It’s interesting that a lighter oolong can take such a high temperature — our jin xuan is much more delicate, as it only takes about 185 F for it to brew correctly. I’ll have to try this! :)

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Received as a free sample from my last order. Brewed grandpa style.

I like that the packet says extract. I know exactly what’s in here. I’m used to seeing “natural flavors” at best. This has a pleasing dry leaf aroma. A strong strawberry scent emerges from the packet. Perfect for spring. The strawberry complements the floral base tea, which is a lower quality light-to-medium oxidized oolong, resembling (as it seems to me) Tie Guan Yin. The balance is so balanced that the liquor tastes as if the strawberry were a natural note that the leaf gave away. It reminded me a Taiwanese high mountain oolong.

I enjoyed this, but I wasn’t struck. The base tea didn’t impress me, but it makes sense to use it for a flavored tea – it’s ok quality at best. Maybe since it’s late summer, I’m ready to depart from this kind of oolong. Maybe next spring… I recommend this for those who love flavored tea, or for those who don’t but might be interested in the more natural side of this genre.

205 °F / 96 °C 7 g 12 OZ / 354 ML

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I haven’t been keeping up with writing tea notes with work and life and planning our upcoming Scotland trip, but I figured today I should get back into it and also review a new tea that I got a sample of quite a while ago from the lovely people at Teavivre. Many thanks for this sample!I

I brewed up this keemun for about 3 mins with 195 degree water. I usually prefer keemuns in the afternoon, but this one sounded right this morning to me! The steeped smell is bright and fresh, to me some red fruits, a hint of astringency (the good kind of astringency) and some malty cocoa notes.

As for the flavor, this is a rich, delicious tea. It’s rich, but the body is still pretty medium, so it goes down very smooth. The main notes are a lovely red wine flavor with a bready flavor and some more red fruits. There is also a mild cocoa note, slightly creamy with almost a mild buttery flavor.

Overall, I am very much enjoying this. With all the flavored teas I’ve been having lately, and gasp coffee (PSL season, ugh), this is a wonderful change and reminds me that pure teas still reign supreme and never fail to impress me. Thanks again to Angel and the Teavivre team for this lovely sample! Happy I have a few more packets of this :)

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Although chocolaty black teas seem to be a steepster favorite, I usually prefer a more bitter cup when I select a black tea. Since ‘chocolate’ was the first descriptor on the list, I expected a sweet, desserty cup. To my relief, I instead found a slightly bitter, dry, woody flavor dominating, with a subtle chocolate undertone.

Flavors: Chocolate, Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 45 sec 7 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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I’ve been on an oolong binge lately, so I decided to just keep it going.

This is my last tea before bed. I measured out a decent amount in placed in my warmed gaiwan. The aroma is sweet and alike berries. Its a mix between gooseberries and raspberries. I washed the leaves and prepared for brewing. The scent kept the consistent berry aroma; although, I could hint at slight scents of a fruity wine. The liquor was a pale gold. The taste was smooth and sweet. This had a decent mouth feeling, and it kept the creamy Jin Xuan classic taste. This brew, however, was more fruity and berry like than any other Jin Xuan I’ve ever had. The creamy factor seemed to be an undertone. Altogether, this was a decent tea, but it isn’t something to rave about.

Flavors: Berries, Creamy, Fruity, Goji, Raspberry

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 30 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

I need to try oolong. (I’m pretty sure I haven’t yet)


Really? You should give it a shot. There is so much variety out there. There is always a certain brew for someone :)

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I’m really loving this tea! The smell is amazing. Flavor – It’s smooth and sweet, and has a fruity/winey taste that I really love. It’s also got notes of cocoa (another favorite) and pastry.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

Who doesn’t like cocoa? and pastry? sign me up :D

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Today is the first cool, rainy fall day we’ve had this season. This tea was perfectly warm for the occasion – warm in temperature, but also warm in flavor. A malty, comforting cup.

Flavors: Malt

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 7 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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Whoa guys! I’m back!

This time, I think I intend to stay (although when isn’t that my intention?). I just realized that I love reading tasting notes, and not only because I love tea. Actually, the main reason I love reading tasting notes is because I love reading descriptions of people enjoying tea. It just makes me feel cozy just thinking about it, and it’s so great to connect with so many wonderful people over a cup of hot tea—realizing that we all have such varied, interesting, and sometimes turbulent lives, but that a cup of tea can give us all a bit of pause and comfort in an otherwise crazy world.

Enough of that though. This tea. It’s delicious and fragrant and all things great…except I still cannot drink most tea straight. I just can’t. Most straight tea leaves a dry feeling in my mouth, and I just don’t know how to combat that other than with additions. I’m kind of annoyed at myself for that, but it keeps on being true for me.
guuuuys! I’m baaaaack!

Roswell Strange

Nice to see you back! I’m hoping as the weather cools a lot of people will return to Steepster :)


I really hope so too! Being back is kind of weird. I’m like, “who else do I follow? who’s a frequent poster these days? who are all these new people?” LOL.


yay!! welcome back!


Hey!!! Welcome back! I’m so excited to read your tasting notes again! I just love the way you describe things. This note is no exception. Your vivid description captured one of the things I love so much about tea. I’m totally on the same page as you. :)

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So I realize that it has been since June that I have done a tea review….what is wrong with me? Well….life. Let’s see my son Zebedee was born on June and work has been absolutely nuts. One day I’m in at 5:30 am the next it’s 9 or another time. Rarely is there a week where I’m not working 6 days straight and with DJ gigs sometimes is 16 hour days. It’s a challenging time right now in our house. Today I’m celebrating. It’s my birthday. I must have tea! Pulled this one out of the tea cabinet. I love a good Keemun. I opened up the sample and breathed it in! Leathery…malty…the qualities that are awesome about Keemun. It’s a good straight black definitely a good one to have on for number 36.


Welcome back and happy birthday! Hope things will calm down a bit in your household. I’m glad you’re taking the time to sit down and enjoy a nice cup of tea.

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