Recent Tasting Notes


What fickle little tea! Needs longer then 3 minutes of steep time in order to really bring out the peach flavor. I felt like 4.5 was a good amount. Any more and it became to bitter. The Jasmine flavor is very light. Too light if u ask me. Needs to be stronger.

150 °F / 65 °C 1 tsp

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A quarter of the way through WoT book thirteen (so close to splurging on tea purchases!), my kobo file went glitchy and I had to switch to my dad’s hardcover edition. It’s the worst development this series has taken so far- this 800 page behemoth has already tried to maim me twice today! Lots of respect for the people who followed this series as it was released, with the hardcover editions.

This smokey sample from Amariel made up for my failings with physical book copies today. I drank about eight cups this evening and now it’s gone. It has some rough elements (smoke, leather, bitter cocoa) , but this tea presents them in a smooth and easily drinkable way.

Flavors: Cocoa, Leather, Malt, Smoke

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec

That sucks about your kobo! Hardcovers are so difficult! i could NOT have read the hardcover,, but I was really disappointed they wouldn’t release the ebook utnil 3 months after the hc release. (I would have paid the hc price or equiv to have the ebook at the same time)

carol who

Okay… What’s WoT?


Carol – It’s The Wheel of Time. I haven’t read it yet because it’s an epic series and a huge time commitment, but from everything I’ve heard it’s really good.


It’s definitely a huge time commitment. I’ve taken over a year, with lots of breaks between the slower middle books, to get to the end. It started off as a way to take my mind off ASoIaS, but I’ve come to love the series a lot. It’s going to be so weird finishing WoT..

That’s frustrating about the release dates for the different formats! It’s so nice having a 10000+ page series fully published and transportable on lightweight ebook devices- I feel spoiled XD


I need to re-read that. I was current up to book…8 or something like that and then I decided to wait until the series was finished before making another run at it.

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I received this sample from Angel at Teavivre. Thank you!

I am just starting to try a few Pu-erh’s so I was excited when Angel said this would be included in the pack that was being sent. Since I am so new to Pu-erh’s I am going to leave this tea unrated. I have only had one other raw pu-erh so I don’t have enough knowledge to give a fair comparison.

I started by giving this a few quick rinses until the mini toucha began to break up a bit. The first steep was a light green/yellow color. The taste was a slight sour/sweet taste that I remember liking from the previous raw pu-erh. It was sweet and tasted slightly of hay. I didn’t get much floral taste, but at the end of the sip there was a bit of a fruitiness. The second steep was much of the same. On the third steep I started to get almost a spicyness at the end of the sip.

This was a very cup. It makes me want to continue to try raw pu-erh. Thank you to Angel for the opportunity to try this pu-erh!

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A big thanks to the lovely Angel at Teavivre for this free sample! I am slowly but surely getting through all these samples.. :D

The dry smell of this one is quite lovely. Honey, with a hay note I find in quite a few white teas. Sweet and soft for this lazy Sunday morning (massively cleaned the house yesterday, maybe today I can devote some time to tea reviews haha). I am steeping for 3 minutes for this first cup at around 194 degrees as per Teavivre’s directions (1-5 mins recommended). The leaves were a bit broken up, mostly flat leaves, but a lot of them in each packet! I am using approximately 1/3 to 1/4 of the first packet. The steeped scent is a light honey/crystal sugar smell, not as much hay. It is quite pleasing and light, I like the smell for a first Sunday cup!

As for the flavor, this is a very light white tea, with notes of mild hay and a slightly sweet, honeyed taste. I detected a slightly cooling flavor as well, almost a mint-like sensation, but no mint flavor, more of a grass note.

Overall, this is a pretty mild and inoffensive tea. It isn’t wowing me per say, but it’s a pretty standard white tea that I will have no trouble drinking, as it tastes like a solid, dependable choice for a white tea. It is light and refreshing, and the hint of sweet is quite nice. I actually am drinking it quite fast as it’s easy to drink and satisfying. Not a bad little tea! Thanks again Teavivre for the opportunity to try this tea! Might keep it in my cupboard as a standard, reliable white tea for when I just want to relax with a simple cup, not too complicated, but still quite good :)

Flavors: Grass, Hay, Honey

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This tea is so pretty, lots and lots of golden tips, probably 2:1 or 3:1 ratio. And the smell from the dry leaf, sweet potato, malt, and lots of cocoa. Wet leaf smells like molasses sweet potato and malt.

2 teaspoons, 8oz water, 185F, 2.5,4,4, minute steeps.

The first steep is like someone took some sweet potato fries, drizzled some caramel sauce on, and sprinkled with golden raisins. Like dessert fries or something? Is that a thing? I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a thing. The second steep is still the dessert fries, but maybe a dusting if cocoa powder as well. Faint, but tickling at the edge of my senses every once in a while.

This steep is very similar to the last steeps, similar flavor and disappears way faster than it should. After this mug I went to a little party at a friends house. But I’ll cold steep the leaves and see how that fares for a 4th steep.


This is one of my favorites that I keep reaching for…drinking a cup right now!!

Tea Sipper

Def dessert sweet potatoes!

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Thank you, Angel, for providing me a sample!

Brewed Western-style.

Never thought that a white tea could be pressed into a cake. I studied the chunk of cake included in my packet. An aesthetic pleasure. Varying shapes and sizes of the leaves, short twigs, earth tones mixed with silver – an instant of the big picture vs the small picture, how both are beautiful individually and as a whole. I bet the cake is something else to behold.

The dry aroma is one of those you can’t stop smelling. Rich, yet gentle. First, honey, then grapes, and, lastly, a pile of autumn leaves. Hay and cucumber dominate the wet aroma.

The liquor is the color of raw honey. Clear. Thick- and full-bodied. I taste notes of cinnamon, apples, maple syrup, honey, and influential challah bread (’tis the season for New Year). Juicy – the sweetness sticks to the roof of my mouth. Refreshing feel. This tea implores you to “stop in your tracks” and to really sense it.

I wouldn’t have thought to buy this tea on my own, thinking that it’s not “my cup of tea”. I am sure glad of these kinds of surprises. Truly enjoyable! It’s the first of its kind for me, so no rating. It’d be in the low 90s.

Boiling 6 min, 0 sec 7 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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harvest 6/14
I picked 100g on awesome July Anniversary sale.
I suspect this tea didnt have enough rest and develop the flavors, its kinda one dimensional. it is nice but not wow. based on all raving reviews i had high expectations. ok, i’ll wait. i will revisit it in a 6 months. thankfully i got a lot to experiment.
Gongfu method
6g 100ml gaiwan 195F
rinse/ short steeps

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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This is the tea I chose this morning before going to the crêperie for brunch. It’s one of the many teas that boychik sent in our swap. I really loved the Keemun Mao Feng from TeaVivre, so I was excited to try this one as well. The leaves are small and thin and jet black in color. Dry scent is sweet and very bready. I steeped a level teaspoon for 3 minutes at 200 degrees.

Once infused, the tea smells like toast and honey! Yum. And the taste is very similar. It tastes just like a nice crisp toasted baguette with honey and perhaps a touch of butter smeared over the top. There are some raw grain notes here as well, perhaps oats, and just a touch of fruit preserves.

Entertainingly enough, I asked my boyfriend what he thought it tasted like and he said grass or toasted seaweed… Uh… what? :P

Flavors: Baked Bread, Dried Fruit, Honey, Oats, Toast

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

My hubby would say it tastes like tea! The only diff he says shou pu is like tree bark

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The first infusion tastes light and creamy with hints of vanilla and raisin, and the second is similar but with a subtle tanginess to accompany, a bit like ginseng. The predominant flavor is of dried fruit, particularly raisin or dried apple. The third infusion I may have overbrewed a bit; it had a lot of that tanginess. By the fourth, the flavor is more mild again with some hints of vanilla and raisin, much like the first but more full and round. As the infusions go on, they continue to be full and rich and slightly tangy… a little more earthy as you go with some notes of hops popping up late in the session. I was able to push more than 10 very flavorful infusions out of this tea. If you are adventurous enough to make it that far, the 10th steeping or so tastes like onion rings from Sonic Drive-In… slightly sweet, fried, and every so slightly oniony. I’m not joking. I love it. 12+ infusions it has taken on a chamomile fragrance. Very interesting progression with this tea.

Flavors: Dried Fruit, Raisins, Tangy, Vanilla

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

ok, let’s see if steepster will let me comment this time grumble grumble…anyway, I am definitely going to have to have a very long session with this tea to see what fun things I can taste in the later steeps.

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drank Golden Monkey Black Tea by Teavivre
274 tasting notes

The dry leaf is a mix of malt, molasses, smoke, sweet potato, and dried fruit. The leaf is a beautiful mix of twisty dark brown and golden tips. Looks like there might even be more gold than dark brown. And there’s golden dust inside the packet, usually a good sign.

1.5 teaspoons, 8oz water, boiling, 2,2,2,3 minute steeps. Sweetened with stevia.

The first two steeps I had while taking my quiz, and didn’t quite pay as much mind to the cup as I should have. I did notice that it was malty, sweet potato, raisin, and sort of caramel. I also noticed that the two cups were gone much too quick.

Third steep, so much caramel and honey. There’s also sweet potato or yam, malty and almost yeasty. Reminds me of sweet potato casserole during the holidays. I always saw it as dessert, but I think it’s supposed to be a side dish. Similarly this tea, when lightly sweetened, is almost dessert like. Perfect cuppa to keep me out of the ice cream in the freezer.

Forth steep is similar to the third, but overall a little darker and more muted. I’m getting some chocolate as this cools. Yum!

This is so good. I’m hoping Teavivre has some good Black Friday sales because if the rest of my samples are as good as this, I’m going to be needing to place a pretty big order!

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Another free sample from Teavivre! :O
And this one…
This one is what I’ve been wanting.
It’s strong. Floral-y. Almost perfume-y.
This is the kind of tea for me.
Ladies and gents, we have a winner here! :D :D :D

Flavors: Floral, Perfume

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Been saving this one back. I can’t remember if I added it in with an order or if this was one Angel sent for review, so I thought I better get to it. This stuff is amazing. When you read the flavors listed on the Steepster page for this tea, that is just what you get. The dry leaf is fruity. Steeped this is cucumber and melon, hay and grass. I have had Silver Needle from several vendors and to my tastes Teavivre is right at the top of the list. I can see if you drink mostly big bold black teas or highly flavored ones, this might be too subtle for you. As for me, I love complex quieter teas that invite you in. This does that beautifully.

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Teavivre contacted me to do another round of tastings and of course I agreed! They arrived yesterday and immediately I had to try this one.

Holy cow this tea has staying power! I dumped my whole sample package into one of my 24 ounce bubble teapot. First steep I let go for only two minutes and it was light and delicious strawberry flavor, but the oolong was present as well, which I always like. Next steep, four minutes. Still strawberry goodness, though there’s a bit more oolong. Then my wife steeped the leaves in a 12 ounce mug for 6 minutes and enjoyed her cup, even if she had let it steep a touch too long. THEN we dumped the leaves into a 25 ounce mason jar to coldsteep over night and that’s my treat for today. I love how much tea I got out of maybe two teaspoons worth of oolongs. By the time we put them in the mason jar, they had uncurled to completely fill the infuser to overflowing. I think one of my other samples will have to go in my glass teapot because the leaves are just too beautiful.


That’s impressive staying power for sure!

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drank Bailin Gongfu Black Tea by Teavivre
118 tasting notes

When the dry leaves sat in the warm gaiwan for a minute, the first thing I smelled was french toast with chocolate chips. There was a distinct egg-like scent with some sweeter pastry-like aromas.

Ah, here’s more like it. After that last incredibly strong black tea, this one is an oasis. The first infusion yields a soft, mellow and sweet tea with a dried-fruit kind of quality and almost no astringency. The aftertaste is a hint drying. The second infusion is pretty similar to the first. Theres a bit of a perfumy quality coming through as well now. The brew is overall soft and rather easy to drink, but yields to a dry mouthfeel. I’m really big on mouthfeel and this is not the clean finish I really enjoy.

The aroma of the third infusion is truly enjoyable, lightly floral and sweet, a tinge of vanilla and dried fruit. The flavor is likewise mellow and sweet but it is picking up in astringency and becoming more and more drying on the mouth as I go on.

Overall, I think the flavor of this tea is wonderful. I just wish it wasn’t so drying. I just reviewed another black tea from TeaVivre which was much more harsh in that regard, so this one is a step up, but I’m not sure why I’m getting so much dryness from these teas. I have a few red and blacks at home that finish very clean, so this is not at all what I am used to.

Flavors: Chocolate, Floral, Honey, Perfume, Raisins

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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drank Golden Monkey Black Tea by Teavivre
118 tasting notes

This is an intensely deep flavored black tea. After an initial Gongfu style infusion, the leaves smell of figs, nuts, and dark molasses. The first infusion was a bit hard on the palate, only steeped for about 15 seconds. It has a nice bitterness to it like a dark chocolate. Coming back for a second infusion it is less bitter and more well-rounded. There are hints of cinnamon, oak, and perfume in the aroma, while the taste is a bit hard to describe to me. Dark tobacco and fig flavors might be an appropriate way to describe it, if anything. It has it’s own flavor, like most teas, and is tricky to describe in other terms. The feeling it leaves in my mouth is very dry. I’m not diggin’ that.

By the third infusion, it’s a little more mellow overall, but there’s a definite astringency and bite in the finish. I’m tempted to call it here, as I’m not finding it suited to my tastes much at all, but Gongfu always pushes me to try another steeping.

The fourth infusion is even more dry (eeeek, this is like red alert dryness levels), the flavor has sort of flattened out and it tastes like … underbrewed coffee.

So, there you have it. This tea is not for me. Not feelin it. If you like your tea to give you (and your palate) quite a jolt, this may be right up your alley, but you might want to bring a bottle of Gatorade to rehydrate afterward. It’s so drying.

Judging by some of the other reviews, I half anticipate this could be the first moment for me on Steepster where a fanwagon crashes into the comments section of my review and passively-aggressively berates me for not sharing the euphoria of their experience, or tells me I brewed it wrong. I hope not.

I brewed 3 grams in 100ml of water for 15 seconds, adding 15 each time (this is more than a gram of tea less than Teavivre recommends for Gongfu style). This is how I typically brew red and black teas and usually it works out pretty well. The color of the liquor was a nice medium orange barely leaning toward red, so it didn’t look or seem overbrewed.

But like I said, some people LOVE these kinds of intense teas, so give it a chance if you’re interested. The flavor was not as complex as the aroma and was very dark. It didn’t really have any sweetness, which for me is an almost necessary component for a red or black tea to keep it from falling off the deep end into bitterness.

Flavors: Drying, Fig, Molasses, Tannin, Tobacco

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

Oh wow, I did not get any of the harshness or jolt that you describe, just smooth sweetness. But I do brew it much cooler, so that is probably why.


I brewed it at 203F. From most of my experience and sources I’ve seen, I’ve thought that was pretty safe for most red/black teas. It definitely works well for the few I have here at home. I wonder though if cooler is necessary for some of these.


I just saw that Teavivre recommends it at 196, so I did brew it hotter than they recommend. That might account for the explosion of tannins to some extent. It’s too bad I used up all my sample so I can’t really retry. :P

Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

I do 195 or cooler, the Teavivre website recommends 194 for this, and 185 for the Bailin Gongfu, both are exquisite at those temperatures. I tend to follow their brewing parameters for their teas because they have never steered me wrong.


Definitely all sources I have found point to the 196-212 range for red/black teas, so 185 is an odd recommendation to me. If I had known Teavivre had recommendations for each specific tea though I’d have tried it that way. I may start going with 196 or so for red/blacks I haven’t tried though to be on the safe side. Some can be unexpectedly delicate.


And by 196 I totally meant 194. Dang Fahrenheit conversions.

Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

I never go higher than 195 for my Chinese black teas, which could be the reason I have never not enjoyed one! I certainly suggest checking their brewing recommendations out for all their teas, it is one of the resources I used when I was first making the transition over to gongfu brewing and it has been very helpful.


This is why I am laboring over trying so many different methods to build this Gongfu infusion guide I’ve been working on for over a year. The internet is teeming with conflicting information about how to brew teas in the Gongfu style, but I’ve found that once you hit the magic numbers for a specific type of tea, almost no tea turns out badly. I must find them all and compile them, for the love of tea! D:

Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

Hehe, I found mine already :P


Several others who reviewed this tea on Steepster reported using even higher temperatures than I did and loved it, so it’s all personal tastes at the end of the day. For some teas, I’ve found there is a fine line between too hot, leading to thin or astringent tea, and too cool, leading to a sort of “flat” and undeveloped taste.

Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

For instance, Ben really enjoys this tea at a hotter temp, he likes his black teas to have a bite.


I’m trying some of my red teas here at home at slightly lower temps around 194 and finding it is much more my tastes.

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So, out of all the free samples I received from Teavivre I’ve been drinking the
Nonpareil Anxi Qing Xiang TieGuanYin Oolong the most. I have both these teas in zip lock bags, and the Anxi Qing is the one I happen to grab the most. xD
As I go back to this one I don’t like it as much. Yes, it’s still floral-y, and buttery. But it’s definitely not as strong as the other.
Didn’t think I’d end up liking that one better…but the tea world never ceases to surprise me.xD
So this one won’t be bought again probably. But still a lovely tea!


Man, someone was on a tea drinking spree! :D


Haha I was! Was an awful weekend so I wanted to try a bunch of stuff to entertain me!

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Thank you, Teavivre for sending me so many free samples! So excited about them!
This is the first one I’ll review. But to be honest, I feel like it’s not so much of an honest review. xD I steeped it for a little more than the time it says on Steepster, but even after that I just think that this one deserves to be steeped “grandpa style”. This would be GREAT to drink with the leaves constantly at the bottom of my mug.
I always seem to want floral-y oolongs to be stronger. Which is probably because I used to always steep everything (mainly oolongs though) grandpa style, before I even knew what that was or that there even were steeping times for things. xD
After I steeped it for the right time it tasted mainly buttery and light. So I decided to put the leaves in longer. After a few minutes I could taste the floral more. And since I really like the floral taste, it would be better “grandpa style” since that flavor emerges when it’s steeped longer..
So yeah. xD Sorry for the rant.
I like this tea. But I wanna try it “grandpa style” because I know I’ll like it even more like that! Pretty good though. Happy to have tried it! :D
Thank you again, Teavivre for the samples!! :D

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Thank you, Teavivre, for providing me a free sample!

Brewed grandpa-style in a glass tumbler.

Lovely leaves, before and after being steeped. White downy hairs, then very green as they float vertically. The dry leaf aroma is oatmeal-like. Then there are cucumbers and honeydew slices. A pale green aroma – first time I imagine a color in my mind as I smell a tea. As the leaves steep, the water magnifies the honeydew aroma, nearly tricking my senses into thinking that the fruit is in front of me instead of tea. The liquor is light-bodied, thick, and clear (surprisingly because of the fuzzies). Again, honeydew, and also dried grass. Juice-like. Because of an airy quality, this tea has a calming, floating effect.

No rating because of my inexperience with white tea. But I like and would recommend this one.

170 °F / 76 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Sample 4 outof 5 from Teavivre. Thanks! I am spending the day at home catching up on life. Between my two jobs, I have had only a few days off this month and I am rarely home to enjoy them. Evenings are equally busy with visiting family and so on. Today is the last official day of summer and after a massive torrential rain overnight I am enjoying some sun and warm temperatures. It’s just after noon and I’ve already made two loaves of bread and a batch of english muffins which will be gratefully enjoyed throughout the week when I have no time to make dough.

So, here I sit with a cup of this. I was pleasantly surprised to see massive chunks of tangerine peel in with the puerh. I used half the sample in my perfect tea mug for a few minutes with water that (apparently) cooled to 96 before pouring. The result is a deep brown like a stout or dark ale. The aroma is musty and barnlike, but not in the usual pleasant way. It’s overpowering. Shoot. I haven’t made puerh Western style in a while…shoulda done some sort of a rinse first. I’m going try drinking this but if it’s too strong, I can always pour it out and try again with a re-steep. D’oh.

Huh. This has a totally different taste profile than the aroma suggests. I get smoke. No barn or hay. Maybe something musty if that ties into the smoke. It’s strong with a sense of bitterness like a coffee edge but not unpleasant. This is a very potent mug. VERY strong. I am tempted to add a bit of milk to dilute it because I’m not super interesting in drinking it as is. Which sucks, because this is my fault and this is my first tea of the day. I will not rate this currently because I need to try again under better circumstances.

All I can say for sure right now is that it is very bold and strong with a smoky edge. No sweetness. Whew.

Flavors: Musty, Smoke, Wood

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LOVE! I love a good Tai Ping Hou Kui and this is an excellent one. As it had been a while since my last cup of Tai Ping, I had to think a bit on how I was going to steep the tea. I would normally steep a green tea in my Breville One-Touch but I do like to watch the dance of the Tai Ping leaves so I instead decided to brew this in my glass teacup.

A sweet and gentle aroma accompanies a flavor that is sublime. Sweet, hints of orchid, light grassy tones and a touch of butter. Creamy and sweet and delightful.

Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/06/28/premium-tai-ping-hou-kui-green-tea-from-teavivre/

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