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Recent Tasting Notes
Free sample from Teavivre. Thank you.
I like Alishan, so I was really pleased to be sent this for review. I had a friend round for games last night (yes, I am a gamer), so I made a pot for both of us to see how he, a non-tea drinker, enjoyed it.
Upon opening the packet I was faced with little dark green nuggets of tea leaf. They had a slightly milky aroma to them. Upon steeping they opened up to fill the pot with huge leaves, some with large bits of stalk still attached. It’s a wonder there was still space in the pot for water! Did I mention that the leaves are huge and whole? Beautiful.
As the hot water hit the leaves, a waft of honeysuckle sweet oolong smell filled the room. The tasting notes from Teavivre mention gardenia scent. I’m going to have to sniff some gardenias for comparison. Whatever, the scent is brilliant. It’s sweet and floral and brings to mind all the good things about a springtime garden.
Drinking the tea, I was most struck by the creaminess of it all. It was smooth, sweet and clean, but also round and creamy. It brought to mind sipping nectar from honeysuckle, when I was a child. The sweetness extended into the aftertaste, which was great while it lasted, although I did not find it endured as much as other teas. The tea itself was also very relaxing. I felt very much at peace after drinking it. If you like floral, full-bodied teas, then I think this one is for you. Well, it’s for me, anyway.
Oh, and my friend? He said that I had spoiled him with a really great tea. Job done, I think.
I’ve tried several White Peony varieties lately, and this is one of the better ones. Thank you, RogersCK for the sample!
It is very similar to Adagio’s White Symphony. It is fuller-bodied than many other white teas I’ve tried, but still very smooth with no astringency or bitterness. Like the White Symphony, it’s slightly sweet with a hint of nectar that reminds me of the nectar we sucked out of field clover as a child (I’m guessing this is probably what many describe as honeysuckle).
I steeped at 185 degrees for about two minutes (maybe slightly longer – I like a bolder taste) and added just under 1 tsp of table sugar.
Edited to add: Second steep – even better than the first! Brews to a deeper golden color and the flavor is even a touch more robust. I could be way off here as it’s been a while since I’ve had black tea, but the flavor almost reminds me of a good English Breakfast (but far more delicate).
I was too ambitious when I brewed this as I was making three cups at once (all of which will be sipdowns —>105) and so I over-steeped this a bit. I will definitely have to reorder another sample of this when I do my next teavivre order. I can see the potential in this although this result is just a touch too strong for me. It smells fruity and sweet and I get bits of that in each sip. Had I not over-boiled it, I might have tasted it more.
Time for another oolong sample!
Now this is what I think of when I think of oolong – very green, light, slightly buttery and very floral. It’s bright and refreshing. I usually start with a black tea in the morning but this is very good. It’s much like a gentle wake-up, a tingling on my tastebuds, instead of the usual slap-to-my-face from the stronger alternatives. (Bolder Black & Tiger Assam to name a few!)
I think I prefer roastier oolongs over floral ones, but there is a time to appreciate these ones too. And I think the Iron Goddess variety is one of the most popular? I’ve had a few versions of this, and I think I’m happiest with this one from Teavivre!
There’s a slight seaweed aftertaste here – I think I may have oversteeped it just a tad, so next time I’ll try 2, or 2.5 minutes.
I’ve heard tell that Oolong is an ancient Chinese remedy for hangovers, so, in the interest of science, today I’m looking for empirical evidence in my teacup.
It was movie-and-harissa-chicken night in my house last night, which is an excuse to break out the beer, because harissa is made almost entirely of chilis, so something is needed to put out the fire, or at least numb the inflamed senses.
I got a couple of hundred grams of this Ali Shan in the TeaVivre anniversary sale (along with too many Puerhs to count, or to fit in my tea-tins, or, probably, ever manage to drink). I was introduced to Oolong by TeaVivre when Angel sent me some free samples last year, and this one was the best tea, hands-down, I’ve ever had.
On my 3rd steep of this, I’m only halfway through my research. It’s a double-blind placebo-controlled study but for the control-group results I’ll have to wait for my housemate to get home from work and ask him how he feels.
But so far, I feel no better than I did a couple of hours ago, though the tea tastes as delicious as ever, and its warm butteriness and autumn-leaves smell is making me care less about my fuzzy head.
Interestingly, Wikipedia cites some research that claims alcohol ‘has been found outside the solar system, in stars and planetary-forming regions of space.’ By a staggering coincidence, the movie we watched last night was War of the Worlds.
Flavors: Butter, Milk, Sweet
I received some samples of Taiwan oolongs from Angel at TeaVivre this morning, and this was the first one I tried. I made it in a gaiwan with the whole of the sample pack (5g or 7g, I think; the weight wasn’t on the packet), and steeped for just half a minute or so each time with water of about 90C.
I haven’t had a lot of oolong before, and I’ve always found them a bit bitter for my taste, but this one was incredible – it’s been elevated to my favourite tea of the moment. It has a warm and very distinct sweet flavour that has a gentle spicy hint, and an addictive aroma of sweet-mellow autumny grasses.
I got about eight full-flavoured infusions out of the leaves before the flavour started to weaken, and I was tempted to try to squeeze a couple more out. Will definitely be buying a stock of this, I’m smitten with it.
Backlog: Catching up on reviewing samples today. I was sent this tea as part of Teavivre’s spring collection and have not yet written them up. This is a shame, because I enjoyed all the teas in the collection. I’ve also just realised that I sampled this tea two years ago. So, how is the 2015 picking?
The leaves are tiny curls that expand a little in the pot to create a grassy bed in the teapot. It’s times like these that I am pleased that I use a glass teapot for these teas.
The dry leaf has a savoury spinach aroma that is evident in the liquor too. The liquor is a lovely yellow-green colour. It has notes of spinach and nuts with that savoury edge to it, but the flavours are delicate rather than strong. The aftertaste has a slight minty note to it, cooling in the mouth. The vegetal notes dominate the aftertaste while the savoury element lurks on the edges. This is a lovely refreshing tea.
Flavors: Nutty, Spinach, Vegetal
I received another parcel of samples from Teavivre yesterday. This is the first one I picked out to write about. Thank you, Teavivre.
The dry leaf is amazing. It is dark green and looks like little twisty shavings of green. It also smells amazing, a really strong and enticing vegetal smell that is a little reduced when it has been steeped. The liquor is a delicate light green colour, again with the vegetal aroma. Perhaps spinach or green beans? It’s certainly something like that. Then comes the real surprise. I was expecting something strong with a hefty kick but the first couple of sips were incredibly delicate instead. It was only as the tea cooled that the flavour developed more towards what I expected. The liquor was heavy but sweet and the nutty element came out as I continued to drink. It was sweet with a lovely slightly spicy aftertaste. Another good one from Teavivre.
Tea provided by Teavivre for review
Tasting from the first steep, much of my expectations are met. The liquor tastes sweet and creamy, vegetal properties stand out, and the roasted flavour is good and continues to linger on after I’ve finished drinking.
From the second to fifth steeps, the roasting and the bold flavour really peaked. The third seemed a bit heavy, but not overwhealming.
Wrapping up with the sixth and seventh steeps, much of the flavours from the previous cups continued. Unfortunately the seventh had a dry effect on my mouth, but was otherwise enjoyable.
I enjoyed this more than the Qing Xiang Dong Ding oolong. But that’s because I usually prefer roasted oolongs. I intend on trying the samples using a gaiwan and later on with a teapot. If I were to short steep this tea again, I’d probably stop at six, because those were the most satisfying.
Steep parameters (Teavivre’s website suggestion):
100ml gaiwan, 7g sample, rinse and 7 steeps (15s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 60s, 80s)
Many, many thanks to Angel and Teavivre. I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve sampled so far, and this is no exception.
The dry leaf smells very sweet and nutty. Like honey, fresh hay, and a little walnut.
Once steeped the aroma from the leaves, well, I feel like if green had a smell this would be that smell. The liquor itself is light jade and smells spinach vegetal with hints of fresh hay.
The mouthfeel is buttery and smooth, and there is no bitterness or astringency in my cup. It’s a buttered spinach/asparagus green taste that isn’t overly veggie tasting with very subtle hints of floral. There’s a definite nuttiness here as well, and that lingers in my mouth long after the sip has ended.
Even brewing Western style, I was able to get three decent steepings out of this, with both being more floral in flavor and reminding me a lot of a (not too floral) Ti Guan Yin with a thinner body.
This is a really lovely green tea and headed straight to my shopping list.
I knew I had tasted this before but with my hectic schedule I forgot how this tasted. It’s like getting to try it for the first time all over again. I love how the aroma of steeped Chinese green tea leaves often remind me of stew meat. The liquor on this looks green in the press and like white grape juice in the cup. I was expecting a subtle tea. Instead I get BAM! This is a killer tea. It reminds me of a cross between premium Long Jing and Huang Shan Mao Feng. Just an awesome cup!
I stopped putting ratings on teas but this one would be way up there.
I agree with the other reviews – this is good.
What I really want to mention is this is the best example of why I love to use a clear glass vessel when I steep. The leaf is so interesting. It looks like a pile of knotted thread until you spread it out. Then it looks like fine green wood shavings. In the bottom of the press with a mug of 175F water the leaf comes alive and puts on an amazing display. It wiggles, like the blades of grass I watched as a kid when a bug crawled through. Then it intensified until the bottom was shaking and twisting like butterflies trying to free themselves from their cocoons. What a show – and then I get to drink it too! Thank you Teavivre.
Had this midday and WHOA 7g is waaaaaay too much leaf for 8oz of water, unless I’ve misunderstood the packaging/site directions somehow. I wondered when I was preparing it as it seemed like double or even beyond that in terms of leaf amount. Turned me jittery as all get out. It did taste nice, but I’m bummed I messed it up as it’s such a fancy dragonwell relatively speaking. Will compare it to the Premium this week hopefully. I have to admit often I’m secretly hoping not to be absolutely blown away by Teavivre’s teas because of the distance and all that (and the fact for some reason USPS requires me to pick Teavivre packages and only Teavivre packages up at the station without fail). Unfortunately sometimes it can’t be avoided (Milk Oolong!).
I found this one to be thick like broth. It is buttery, vegetal, sweet, lightly floral. The aftertaste of the first mug is what I call geranium. Some call it latex. It is that quickly recognizable oolong taste. The second mug was similar with added mineral notes and lose the geranium. This is more of a contemplative cup than something to get you moving in the morning. I seldom want jolted awake so it suits me.
Having tried several oolongs in the last week or so, I think it is a toss up between this one and the Taiwan High Mountain oolong as my personal favorites. However, they were all excellent and all distinctly different.
OOOfffffph! I am so bloated from last night Thanksgiving dinner. Though weirdly, I’m still hungry for it as it tasted so good. Time to oolong it out of me!
Hmmm. I am haunted by an excellent Big Red Robe Oolong I had at the LA tea festival that blew my feathers off. Sadly, this oolong didn’t blow me away like that one did. However, this Teavivre oolong is still pretty good and an interesting round of tea. Great roasty, nutty, oak, golden flavors with later steepings of rocky minerals and cream.
Full review at my teablog, The Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/da-hong-pao-oolong-teavivre-tea-review/