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Recent Tasting Notes
I usually find floral teas appealing, but considering this was my first rose tea to be had, I couldn’t drink all of it—too many rose notes for me, I suppose. However, my wife couldn’t help but linger nearby as I gave this tea a go. In fact, she wanted to try it—and try she had—which to my surprise, she loved it. So…here’s her note on it….
“A tea that reminds me of my grandmother, for roses were her favorite flower, from which she was named after. When I drink a cup of this tea, I am reminded of the gift of knowing my grandmother as I grew up distant from most of my outside family; however, grandma had reminded me of the simple joys in life—”Wake up and smell the roses," She’d say. So, as I drink this tea, I am reminded of my grandmother Rose, who always seemed to smile at the gift of another day." -The Missus
[Note: Rating by the wife]
Prepared 3.7g in a ceramic gaiwan. I gave the leaf a flash rinse to get it going. Steeping times: 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 30, 45; 2 minutes, 4, 9, 20.
A hongcha with great aromas? Check! When I smell the leaf in the packet – wow! – was it super chocolate-like. Letting the leaf sit in the pre-heated gaiwan brought out gingerbread and tomato sauce notes as well as chocolate. The wet leaf smells of cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little bit of fudge.
The liquor is orange-colored, clear, clean-tasting, and medium-bodied. The first cup is light with malt with some sweet potato. From the second cup and onward (till the last), the malt has disappeared, and the sweet potato note is stronger. I also taste cinnamon and chocolate. They don’t pop out as much, but they are present. There is a consistent caramel aftertaste. The texture is smooth. As the description on the website says, this hongcha tastes – and feels, I’d say – “sweet and mellow.”
I especially this recommend this to hongcha lovers. Get a look at that leaf!
Ah, autumn! I am loving the weather, it is cool and crisp, the leaves are turning, and there are pumpkins everywhere. Also skulls. This Halloween skulls are super in, and I am fighting the urge to buy up every piece of interesting skull decor for my tea desk and future wedding, but it is hard! The hunt is, of course, still on for the perfect ‘spooky’ piece of teaware from the thrift stores, no luck yet!
Today’s tea will always make me think of the Tang Dynasty, mostly because of the movie Curse of the Golden Flower (or Curse of the Golden Corset as I call it) because they really had an obsession with Chrysanthemums. The movie, while beautiful, is certainly not one of my favorites…but the Tang Dynasty will always be my favorite period of Chinese history, rivaled by the Three Kingdoms Period of course. This really has nothing to do with anything, save a love of an aesthetic, so without further ado, Teavivre’s Huizhou Emperor Chrysanthemum Tea! A beautiful single blossom individually packaged, it made me feel like royalty with the presentation, it also meant that the risk of the flower being crushed into oblivion was minimal which is always nice. The aroma of the flower is very lovely and pure, as though I have a fresh chrysanthemum sitting next to me. Trying to describe the aroma is a challenge, because it smells like chrysanthemums, describing tea is easy since it almost always has notes of other things, but for some reason this particular flower has always challenged me. I will try, assuming the reader has never sniffed one, to find a comparison. There are notes of daisy, wild flowers, pollen, lettuce, white pepper, straw, and gentle almost creamy sweetness. It smells like autumn and nostalgia, a very happy smell for me.
Now I could have gongfu’d this flower, I have thrown many a chrysanthemum into a gaiwan and steeped as such, but since this one is so special I thought I would go for a clear cup and just let it float around while I sipped it. Again, talk about feeling like royalty, there is something very princess like about drinking a cup of flower. The aroma is much like the dry flower but stronger and sweeter, it lacks some of the more potent sharp notes that some yellow chrysanthemums (especially Tai Ju, which are mostly buds) have.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, chrysanthemum has quite the reputation for being a cooling herb, it is also one of the few medicinal herbs I drink not just for taste but for its usefulness, especially this time of year. I am not sure which of the chemical compounds in this flower it is (because of course the internet has conflicting info and I no longer have my books on TCM) but one of them does wonders for sore throats and as an expectorant, making it a must have around during allergy season. It also settles my stomach so I drink it after big meals or before bed, granted I am not one to recommend medical stuff since my body is super weird (and they do not help Ben’s allergies at all) but it is an interesting bit of trivia. Plus it helped me pass the time waiting for the flower to steep!
The taste and mouthfeel is fantastic! Like a chrysanthemum flower should be, the texture of the liquid is thick and slippery, coating my mouth in a nice cooling sensation, like the world’s mildest Biotene mouth spray. Honestly the texture reminds me of that as well, but with no mint to be found…which is completely fine with me! Some chrysanthemum flowers are very sweet, others are very pungent and medicinal, this one is way on the sweet spectrum. None of the sharp more medicinal qualities are really present, just the wonderfully sweet nectar of fresh golden chrysanthemum. With notes of honey, pollen, wildflowers, daisies, straw, and a lingering aftertaste of sugar.
One fantastic thing about this single flower that really struck me was how many refillings of the cup I could get before it finally faded out, it has some great resteep value going on. I got four very flavorful cups and at least three more very mild but pleasant ones. At first, when looking at the price, I thought it a bit too steep for my blood, but after seeing how much life I could get out of it I realized it was not bad at all. Plus, taste aside, part of the price does come from the spectacular presentation, it looks spectacular while steeping. I found it so lovely that when I had sucked every bit of flavor from the blossom I stuck it in a different cup of tea just to extend the visual enjoyment.
Another lovely green from Teavivre! Wow, these green teas are always amazing. The leaves are very long, wiry with a half and half mix of green and white color! It’s very interesting — I haven’t seen a green tea like this. The flavor is fantastic. The first steep couldn’t be better. Another perfect green tea for me. The flavor is bright, fruity, sweet with hints of corn, while also being very nutty (my favorite green type). It’s tough to explain this one, as it is a very complex green. The subtlest hint of bite or astringency also makes it perfect. The resulting brew color is a cloudy light green. It’s the most delicious green tea. So thirst quenching. I can’t say enough about it. I really hope I remember to steep this one exactly the same next time.
Steep #1 // half a sample pouch for a full mug// 32 minutes after boiling // 2 1/2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 30 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Harvest: April 2016
Today’s work cold brew. I’d been meaning to try this one cold for a while (since last summer, I think?) but I always seem to forget. This year, though, I remembered just in time. I’m not typically a fan of jasmine tea, but I do like peach, and this one strikes just the right balance for me. It’s not too floral or perfumey, and the peach isn’t overly artificial or chemical tasting. Instead, there’s a delicate balance of both. The peach is juicy and natural tasting, and the sweetness is augmented by the light heady floral of the jasmine. It’s a good pairing! The green tea base is smooth, with no bitterness or astringency at all. It must have had at least 7 hours in the fridge, so I wasn’t sure what to expect on that front (I don’t cold brew green teas very often, so I’m less certain about steep times and such like), but I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. Another excellent Teavivre offering!
I wanted something fairly straightforward this morning, and this fit the bill perfectly. It’s still one of my favourite plain black teas – deliciously malty, with strong chocolate and cocoa notes. It’s very easy to drink, very smooth, and works well both with and without milk. I have a feeling this – or one of Teavivre’s Dian Hongs — will be a permanent fixture in my cupboard. They’re just too good to do without.
Why don’t I drink more green tea?
I always love it when I drink it, and I used to drink green tea every day, but I don’t love it the way I love Black/Red Tea. I guess that’s the reason.
Plus I can’t drink green tea on an empty stomach…there’s always that…
But anyway, this is a lovely one, more delicate in appearance than Dragonwell, with a clean vegetal taste, a buttery aroma, and a thickness that builds on the tongue, sip by sip.
Much gratitude to Angel and Teavivre for the sample.
Speaking of Teavivre, I finally got my sipdown extravaganza down to below 200 teas in my cupboard (190, actually), so now I’m allowed to order from one company per month, with wild abandon. This month it was Teavivre, as their black teas have been missing from my cupboard for quite some time, and I’m getting low on black teas anyway!
sipdown – 189
Oh my goodness. I was not expecting to like this one as much as I do. I was craving a straight black tea this morning and instead of reaching for my usual Nepal Black, I reached for a sample in the sipdowns pile. There was SO MUCH LEAF in this little sample package. Definitely 2-3 cups worth. It has a metallic taste, kinda like licking a penny, but I don’t dislike it. It’s all good.
Thanks again to Angel & Teavivre for this sample.
This is such a beautiful and delicate looking tea, with a flavor that is vegetal, mineral, even floral, and a little nutty as well. I shared steepings of it this afternoon with 2 of my college harp students who came over to work on a duet, and we all enjoy several rounds.
Definitely enjoyable. There’s a fairly strong fragrance to this brewed tea that backed me off initially because I have an aversion to strongly scented teas (like earl grey). Other keemuns I’ve tried haven’t had this. However, it lessened enough as it cooled a bit and I was pleasantly surprised that the flavor wasn’t perfumey.
Really easy drinking tea, fairly smooth and medium body. Sweet potato with a bit of malt, tastes like autumn, perfect for this late-September morning. Just a touch of astringency at the finish which melts away quickly. I brewed it for about three minutes, and based on the reviews I’ll be trying it next time at 1/2 that length. Though Angel sent me this sample a few years ago, just enjoying it happily now.
I have only had Dragon Pearls from another company, and for the price, Teavivre were better!!! Full of flavor. I have been chugging this tea for school, and it’s pretty much my go to for afternoon/early evening.
Medium level of caffeine
It’s just a wonderful black tea. I only like drinking it hot. It needs NOTHING added to it, it’s perfection on its own.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Molasses
Hello, I have taken a huge break from tea reviewing, even though I have drinking tons and tons of new teas! This one made me realize I need to review it, since no one has yet done it!
This one is reminds me of a foggy spring morning…sorry for the flowery description, but that’s what the taste feels to me. It has a strange brewing time for a green tea…5-8 Minutes! I thought for sure that it would be bitter as a lemon. And it has no astringency whatsoever. It’s just mellow. It reminds me of a white tea! You can see the leaves as they open that they are youngsters.
I would gladly have this tea on a break from his bitter green tea cousins. I could see this tea be nice iced, too. I have a pattern I do this with most Japanese green teas. I brew them hot twice, and on my last brew, I throw cold water over it, and let it brew once more overnight in the fridge for just one more go with the leaves.
I am on my 2nd brew, and it’s lost some of it’s depth. Not sure what the steps to rebrew this tea would be.
Flavors: Cut grass, Wet Earth
From the purchased sample pack. Impressions leave an okay thought, an expensive price tag thought and not much steeps before the flavours just fades to an ordinary tea tree bush vegetal taste thought. To be honest I am not impressed and is no where near the taste and quality of the xing xiang oolong. Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay but not for $26 /100g
Roast is okay. Leaves are a bit tattered.
Tea is between light and creamy. A distinct smoke note though not very interesting. I ended up throwing the rest of the sample in the garden.
It’s no secret that I drink an obscene amount of tea, most of which is some form of green tea, but I don’t tend to purchase Dragon Well as often as others. I’m a big baby when it comes to astringency, I just don’t care for it (although it’s something many other tea drinkers truly desire.) Dragon Well often has more of an astringent bite than other green teas—especially those picked later in the Spring. What really sets this tea apart from others of its type is the incredibly smooth flavor and lack of astringency. It’s without a doubt the most enjoyable Dragon Well I’ve had the pleasure of sampling, but it’s also one of the most expensive teas TeaVivre has to offer (50 grams will set you back about $34.) You can certainly find many less expensive options if you enjoy Dragon Well, but comparing a She Qian Dragon Well to anything else is like comparing apples to oranges. She Qian teas are picked much earlier in the year (near the Spring equinox on March 20th) and are highly sought after because of the vastly different flavor profile they offer. They’re only produced in limited amounts, but if you’re a fan of Dragon Well you’ll definitely want to put this on your wish list.
You can read the rest of the review on my blog:
Sipdown! I don’t remember whether I got this as a sample from the company or as part of a swap, so I’m sending out a general thanks and hoping the right person gets it.
Honestly, today’s generally rough for me. I managed to get out of bed and putter around for a few hours but now I’m back. Luckily, my tea tray fits perfectly on my nightstand. I have been drinking good teas but having trouble focusing on them. This one managed to cut through the fog when a delightful floral scent wafted up as I poured from brewing vessel to pitcher. This smells and tastes like jasmine and lavender and rolling fields of heather as far as the eye can see. Later steeps are drier but still quite floral and smooth. Even my tea pet likes it. :-)
This is another tea from Angel at Teavivre. Thanks again, Angel! Sorry it took me so long!
The first thing I notice as I open the pouch is a sweet, almost caramellized fruit aroma. Like a grilled peach. The leaves are very narrow and fine. Dark, dark brown. As the tea steeps, the water goes dark very quickly and the leaves unfurl to perfect little spears of young leaves.
The flavor is smooth and has a distinct sweet potato note. I also get a sort of wheat bread and malt flavor, too. It’s a very heavy black tea, but I love it. It’s very satisfying and is definitely going on my order list for Teavivre. Would be a wonderful winter tea. I think it could also serve as a good substitute for coffee.
A note to self, however: Scoop lightly, this stuff is potent! Maybe go with a shorter steep time, too.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Malt, Sweet Potatoes
Reviewing the oolongs that came in the sample packs sold quite expensively. This is my second type of oolong testing, first being the Da Yu Ling oolong in the sample pack.
I am liking this one a lot over the DYL, it’s got a creamy, milky, buttery punch with a distinct floral/fruit after tone. Even though appearing to look light the smell is thick on this one. This is a flavoursome one – my mouth and olfactory is filled with it’s flavour. Sitting in front of an empty cup and cha hai that once containted the dong ding, the smell permeates the air in front of me – I am impressed.
The taste isn’t as bright but best described in the milky category, it really reminds me of drinking milk albeit a floral tea one! And you know what? I like it!
Though new to Oolongs, this is my favourite so far from the 8 varieties of oolongs that I have brewed,
I’ve been disappointed with the teas from Teavivre thus far, even their famous blacks like the golden monkey and golden pearl which I am going to give away, but this one I’d recommend and wouldn’t mind stocking up over all the other tea’s I’ve had from them so far.
Brewed gongfu – flash steep – 20s, 30s, 40s
Flavors: Cream, Fruity, Milk, Sweet
My first tasting of this tea was in my gaiwan with about 3 grams of tea and 2 grams of tangerine peel. I did a 5 second rinse then 3 infusions. From the beginning this was a very fun tea just from the packaging. It is so much fun (albeit also frustrating) to open the tangerine and get the tea out. The aroma of the tea was sweet and citrusy to begin with. The taste was light, oily, buttery, and smooth with slight orange/tangerine flavors. The second and third infusions became sweeter than the initial one. The tangerine flavor becomes more subtle and more cohesive. The flavors meld very well. Overall an excellent sweet and refreshing tea for those who like flavored stuff.
Flavors: Butter, Orange
I’ve been reading a book about tea recently, and I just went through a passage about sheng teas. Now I’m conventionally a shu person, but I was hit with a sheng craving that’s been lingering for a few days… luckily, I had a little bit of this left.
I’m doing homework and a little too distracted to do many steepings in the gaiwan, but I gave it a rinse, then did a 3 minute steep. I know shengs are really meant to be made in the gaiwan, and I would probably get so many more flavors if I did, but oh well.
Ahhhhh it hits the spot! So bright and high-pitched and woody. It reminds me of two things at once: 1) snapping a fresh young twig off a tree and chewing it, and 2) someone playing crystal glasses. (Speaking of which! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47TGXJoVhQ8)
It took me a long time to come around to shengs, but I think I almost crave them more than shus. I know shengs are the more “classic” pu erh variation, since shus have only been around since the 70’s, so it makes me excited to try even more varieties than I already have.
It is exactly my bedtime and I reeeeeeally shouldn’t be doing a second steeping of this… but I can’t do just one steeping on these leaves…. aaaaaagh…. tomorrow morning self, I’m sorry.
No notes yet. Add one?
Flavors: Caramel, Plums, Raisins, Sweet
A sample that came with my recent order there, there’s a medium roast on this one. For the most part, this is there in a good way, although the roast can tend to over power a little. It adds a sweet caramel-esque touch to the flavors in your cup, though, playing on the edges of the tongue behind the general roasty toasty body.
Opens up sweet, a bit buttery, and a little florally aromatic with a slick, lingering mouthfeel. As the leaves unfurl, it becomes a drying mouth feel tea, loses the bit of flowers, and settles in as a creamy, roasty oolong with sweet edges that confuses my brain as creamy flavor and super dry mouth seems like it shouldn’t be a thing. Quite a nice change up from the normal floral explosion, nuclear green Taiwanese oolongs I’ve mainly tried so far, although still the same light, pure character at heart under the roast. I think I like something more complex and/or heavier, so probably won’t be seeking this out again myself, though.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Floral, Roasted, Sweet