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Recent Tasting Notes
I have, “A definitely good hongcha, this one is,” written in my tea journal for one session with this Dian hong. While I can’t comment on my Yoda-esque prose I seem to have adopted that day, it adequately sums up this tea. It’s a mid-grade Dian hong, possessing fair amounts of both black leaves and golden budsets, and it certainly shows in the cup. While I prefer the all-buds Dian hongs, I both enjoy and respect the qualities brought out with the blend. That Yunnan “peppery” flavor often becomes lost with the higher grades or mutates uncontrollably with the lower grades, shows up in just the right amounts in this tea to blend nicely with the strong sweetness and dark, fruity aromatics. For the last session, I used the remainder of my sample, which took up between a third and a half of the gaiwan. It produced a far more complex brew, but most notably intensified the pepper-fruit interaction. I was excited about this, because I am usually unable to receive decent results with a large amount of leaf when it comes to Dian hongs. The texture usually ends up being too thick and muddles the more subtle tones somehow.
The aftertaste and mouthfeel are thick and starchy, giving rise to that “yam-like” perception often received from this type of tea. It’s always something I look for with Dian hongs, and this one does it fairly well. The aftertaste in this one, however, often becomes a bit salty and it if overbrewed at all, it is difficult to get past the maltiness, especially in later steeps when many of the initially interesting flavors have considerably declined in intensity. The liquor is also noticeably murky, but seems to clear up after the first few steeps.
Thank you Teavivre for this incredible sample!
Dry this tea smells beautiful. Like fresh cut hay on a summer day!
Brewed this tea tastes incredible. This is my second white tea I’ve ever had and I must say I’m extremely impressed. This tea gives me an immediate floral note with a deep and rich honey aftertaste. I can also taste a distinct note of hay which is very neat as I’ve NEVER had that note in a tea before. Can’t wait to see what other notes I taste in further steepings!
All in all, this is a great white tea, and I can recommend it if you like grassy, hay like notes in tea!
2 rounded tsp for 16 oz
Brewed it a little stronger this time. Still rounded, smooth, silky. Drinking it first thing in the morning without milk and sugar which is a big deal for me. I am eating toast between sips which helps my stomach handle the straight tea first thing. But, this tea is so smooth, it is going down easy.
2 tsp. tea to 12 oz. water, below parameters.
I found this in my sample drawer when I was cleaning it out and it sounded like the perfect tea right now. It has such positive reviews but I remember (and my tasting note confirms) that I found it kind of smoky in the smell. It doesn’t taste smoky but I have to hold my breath a bit while drinking so that it doesn’t negatively impact the taste.
The tea itself is amazing, though. Bright and bold, quite reminiscent of a Ceylon really. With a verrry gentle fruity note (I think stone fruit, maybe dried apricots) beneath. It has a starchy mouthfeel with a vague sweetness to it that I love. This is a black tea that is easy to drink without additives. If only it didn’t have that hint of smoke! Admittedly, it does go away as you get deeper into the cup but that’s only because I’ve gotten used to it I think.
Still, I’ll raise it a few points because it does have a wonderfully complex nature. I’ll put up with the smell temporarily if I get such a lovely tea in return.
Another knockout hit for TeaVivre! SWEET!
Before I start, thank you TeaVivre for this terrific sample!
The dry tea smells exactly like a campfire in the middle of autumn. It feels and smells like roasting hot dogs on a fire, making smores, and everything wonderful about the autumn season.
This tea is insanely good! It gives the impression of a regular tea at first sip and then envelops your tastebuds in a primal smoky flavor that lingers in your mouth well after the liquid goes down your throat. This is my first smoked tea (although a blend I had previously had a hint of Lapsang in it if I recall correctly) and I love it.
I’ve heard from many people here that Lapsang is essentially a hit or miss tea for anyone that tries it. This is without a doubt a homerun for me, a tea that I must get very soon.
Thank you so much to Teavivre for the ridiculously generous sample pack.
I am still a novice to these straight, quality teas, so I have to write my review of this on a comparison basis.
I have recently come to realize I am a fan of oolongs, though as with most teas I prefer the flavored to the unflavored. I did enjoy the milk oolongs I’ve tried so far, which I don’t think were flavored but yet still creamy and buttery and a bit sweet, which is definitely what I want in an oolong.
An example of an oolong I didn’t like was the Tung Ting Vietnam from Davidstea, as it was super spinach tasting to me. I do not like spinachy tea, so that is to say that I prefer the less vegetal teas.
This one was somewhere in between. So far I’ve only had one steep, I followed the directions and went 2 minutes at boiling, I think 1 minute would have been fine to allow for a stronger second steep. I will give that a try later on.
Steep one at 2 minutes was pretty flavorful. This is not a very sweet or creamy oolong, it was a bit vegetal but not so much so that I was turned off. I am not sure I would order it, however.
I did get samples of the milk oolong (both flavored and unflavored) and I am very excited to try them.
As of now I am incredibly impressed with this company just based on their customer service.
I know they have quality teas, and if I rate my samples in a mediocre way it has nothing to do with the tea and everything to do with my own tastes at this point on my little tea journey. I like that I am slowly broadening my horizons – baby steps!
Glad to try this and looking forward to steeps 2 and maybe 3 :)
I decided to not bother with a numerical rating as I don’t want to bring down the score, as I said I don’t feel I am qualified at this point given my own tastes. Teavivre has a great rep so when I want some good straight teas I know where to go! Thanks again!
Rounded tsp in 8 oz
Worked great as a breakfast tea with no additions! Towards the end of the cup, it was cooling off and I was feeling the astringency. I took a tip from Stacy of Butiki and added some more hot water, and that really worked to smooth it out enough to keep drinking it without adding sugar or milk!
Thank you TeaVivre for this FANTASTIC sample!
Oh my goodness this tea is exquisite! The dry smell is of a buttery green bean with a silky smoothness added to it. I can’t wait to brew this up!
Brewed this tastes exactly like it smells. Of a deep, rich green bean with a smooth and silky butteriness. I am absolutely in love with this tea. Absolutely in love with it. I’ll have to order some of this because it is just amazing.
Overall this tea is an extremely vegetal beautiful tea with a buttery flavor to accompany it. I highly recommend it!
Sample sipdown! YAY!
The leaves on this black tea are really neat. Black with gold tips (it is in the name, so I don’t know why I was surprised) and wiry looking. Really cool.
Dry, this one had honey notes, bakey/croissant notes, a malty aspect, and possibly sweet potato? Yam? Something like that.
Once brewed, it picked up a slight spicy note (cinnamon, but not quite…) which is very interesting. The honey notes have calmed down, and the sweet potato/yam aspect has increased. The maltiness has also increased some. The bakey notes are still present (hooray!) and there is a slight earthiness to it.
Taste – Honestly, I think I screwed this up a bit (doesn’t taste bad, but it is a bit bitter). I forgot about the water in the kettle until it was at a boil, and then thinking “Black tea, boiling water”, I started to pour the piping hot water on the leaves…before realizing it called for a lower temp! Oops. I drained the water out and started over, but I think it had already affected the leaves. That being said, I will share with you what I’m getting from the cup.
So, other than the bitterness, I’m picking up some bakey notes, the sweet potato/yam aspect I found in the smell (it also happens to describe the mouthfeel – this one is almost potato-ish feeling), and a slight spicy aspect that is NOT attributed to the bitterness. I’m also picking up some earthiness and maltiness in the sip.
Luckily I have another sample of this one, so I can try again and hope for better results. This brew isn’t undrinkable, but I fear the bitterness is masking the full flavor profile of it. Holding the rating until I get this right.
Sample sipdown! I’m slowly getting through all my samples/swaps…there are way more than I thought I had. I’ll get there eventually!
The leaves of this one are so pretty. Long, twisted, and deep green. Once the steep, the green becomes more vibrant and the leaves unfurl a bit – so pretty to watch.
The smells I’m getting from this are delicious. Dry, the scent is slightly vegetal, slightly floral, with a crisp/fresh aspect. There are also slight butter notes present. Once brewed, these scents morph a bit. I’m getting a much stronger buttery vegetal note – smooth vegetal, though, not grass (more like a sweet spinach smell). The floral notes are also still present, though not as prominent. It’s a sweet, fresh smelling cuppa and I can’t wait to sip it!
Taste-time: So, I may let this one cool down a bit more, but as of right now I’m getting a creamy mouthfeel, stronger floral notes, and some light vegetal notes at both the front and back of the sip. The sweetness is still there, but not as evident as it was in the smell – not bad, just a fact. There is also something cooling about this tea, almost like spearmint. It’s very slight, and most of the time unnoticeable… but the cooling effect is present with each sip. It’s interesting, in a good way!
As it cools more, I’m also getting a bit of an earthy, rock-ish (I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone, but its the only way I can describe it) taste – it blends nicely with the other flavors. The sweet taste has emerged a little more at this cooler temp, which is what I was hoping for. The floral taste is still the strongest, which is fine. It isn’t a perfumy floral taste, but a natural one; makes it easier to tolerate, and in fact it may even be enjoyable. =)
It is also less creamy. The thickness of the mouthfeel has diminished some. Interesting, as usually I find it the opposite.
Crisp, fresh, floral, and smooth. That’s how I would describe this one. Very tasty. Can’t wait to compare this to my Butiki Huang Shan Mao Feng… a few more samples down and I might be able to swing opening the package!
Green Tea WIN!
Thank you Alysha for a sample of this!!
Over the last month or so I’ve become slightly obsessed with oolongs. I want ALL the oolongs.
I had recently fallen for Davidstea’s Quangzhou Milk Oolong and wanted to try another milk oolong! Actually I want to try ALL the milk oolongs!
Since the Davidstea one is the only comparison I have, that’s what I did. First I drank some of this alone, then I made them both side by side and did a little taste test!
My conclusion was that to my mostly untrained taste buds, this one is slightly more vegetal, where the Davidstea one is a bit creamier and slightly sweeter. It makes me wonder if the Davidstea one is flavoured?? Regardless I prefer the Davidstea version, but if they’re sneaking flavouring in there that would be an unfair advantage for sure. This one was really good though and I’d buy some in the future! Brewed at like 85 degrees for 3 min or so.
Sample package label:
“Ingredients: Pure tea buds and leaves
Original Place: Qimen, Anhui, China
Distributor: Teas and Thes (China) Ltd.
Room 3-241, Hui Zhan Nan Wu Road
Xiamen, Fujian, China
Brew at 194*F (90*C) for 2-3 minutes
Free sample not for sale”
Per their website: http://www.teavivre.com/keemun-hao-ya/ this Keemun is a handmade Gongfu process tea that also has EU Organic Certification.
Introduction: Kevin @ The Whistling Kettle first introduced me to Keemun tea: http://steepster.com/looseTman/posts/152917#likes I’ve purchased several pounds from him and have thoroughly enjoyed it. When I saw TeaVivre has four Keemun teas from which to choose, I knew I would have to sample at least one of them. But which one should I choose?
This TeaVivre article http://www.teavivre.com/info/guide-to-choose-high-quality-keemun-black-tea/ explains the differences about three different grades of Keemun teas in great detail. Additionally, TeaVivre also offers an Organic Superfine Keemun Fragrant Black Tea http://www.teavivre.com/keemun-fragrant-black-tea/.
Technique: 8-oz water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 19 ppm, heated to 212*F and allowed to cool to 194*F (90*C) – verified with DAVIDsTEA digital thermometer.
2 Tevanna teaspoons, without sweeteners, milk or cream.
This tea has a pleasing mild smoky fragrance as well as a fruity fragrance that reminds me of red wine.
Vibrant copper hue
2-min Infusion Initial Impression: The taste is rich and creamy smooth. It’s not at all bitter or astringent. (I then let it steep for an additional minute.)
3-min Infusion: It’s a creamy smooth, well-balanced, full-bodied breakfast tea with a natural caramel-like sweetness, a fruity / wine-like flavor, and a finish that leaves you with a wonderful full mouth feel, which lingers on the tongue for an extended period of time. It’s truly outstanding!
3-min: Initial taste – a longer infusion was needed
5-min: It’s a creamy smooth tea with a natural sweet flavor and a finish that leaves you with a wonderful full mouth feel that lingers long on the tongue. – Yes, the 2nd steep was as enjoyable as the first!
Impression: This premium-grade Keemun, clearly sets itself apart from “Keemun Panda #1” in that it is certified organic, provides a natural caramel-like sweetness, and a wonderful full mouth feel, which lingers on the tongue for such an extended period of time.
Congratulations to Mr. Jiang, the tea farmer responsible for this superb Keemun!
“He and his workers are well known to produce some of China’s most sought after Keemun teas, illustrated by their Keemun winning gold medal for best tea at the Shanghai World Expo.”
This is our first TeaVivre black tea and it’s provided a wonderful first-impression. Premium Keemun Hao Ya Black Tea should not be missed! – A truly exceptional Keemun! Very well done!
Thanks to TeaVivre and Angel for providing this free sample.
Another fine sample from the folks at Teavivre :)
The dry leaves are small and tippy with lots of golden buds.
The initial infusions come out very dark, the little leaves are very potent. Despite the dark brew, the tea is extremely smooth with an almost marshmallowy texture. It has flavors of oak and milk chocolate, with a very slight smokiness.
Around the fourth steep the brew gets a bit lighter, with more sweetness and a mellow flavor like yellow squash on the rich, woody background. Flavors begin to fade at the sixth steep. This is less than I usually get, maybe because of the tippy-er leaves giving off most of their flavor early on?
This is a mild and mellow pu’erh with a sweet, friendly taste, but to me it didn’t seem to have a whole lot of depth.
This is the last of a sample sent to me quite some time ago from Angel @ Teavivre. Thanks again, Angel!
SO…the dry smell is like sweet dried berries
I preheated the Gaiwan & dropped the leaf in there, & the aroma was even sweeter, like strawberries & dark chocolate, with a floral ‘after’ smell that lingered in my sinuses.
I went with really short steepings 4 secs for starters
The wet leaf smelled of apricots & caramelized brown sugar
The early steepings were lightly peachy, with a perfumey lingering aftertaste, & there was also a camphor. And roastedness.
Later a ‘rock’ flavor predominated.
Sometimes I really enjoy this kind of tea, and I did enjoy it, but I feel unsatisfied.
After a weekend of overindulgence in Easter goodies, a straight green just seemed like the right thing to do. I like green tea, but still haven’t found my “go-to.” I’ve tried a few different Dragonwells and although everyone seems to love it, it hasn’t grown on me. So I really wanted to give it another chance and brewed this top-of-the-line sample.
And it tastes…salty? I’m getting a chicken broth-like flavor that makes me feel like I’m drinking soup. As it cools the vegetal flavor comes through, but it’s still quite savory. I can tell this is a quality tea, but sadly I have to face the fact that I must be the exception and Dragonwell is just not for me. Ah well…no use mourning when there are so many teas out there waiting to be discovered. The search continues!
I woke up with a stomach ache. Too much food for Easter last night, and I don’t eat meat very often. So I turned to puerh to help out. As I was getting things ready, the doorbell rang. Jack, the son of a dearest friend, was at the door. We’ve known him forever and he’s family to us. Says he was in the neighbourhood and wanted to say hi. He’s a troubled 18 year old kid but he has a good heart and I love him. I have my ways with teenagers, they trust me and confide in me. I help in ways I know how. As a true teenager, he usually drops by for two things:
1- Load his ipod with awesome music for free (never a problem!)
2- Money (and I’m hoping he doesn’t ask today)
I ask how he’s doing.
That’s all I’m gonna get.
«Come, I’m about to have some puerh tuocha, want some?»
«????» then a big smirk on his face.
Oh, I get it! It’s in a wrapper half opened… from his perspective, it «kind of» looks like some other substance… He thinks I’m about to roll something??
«No silly, it’s just tea!»
I go through the process. As I’m pouring, I explain what a Yixing is and why I have to rinse the tea first. That part makes him question my sanity.
«as I understand it, you rinse it cause it’s old and dirty?Now why would I want to drink some old and dirty bad smelling tea?»
I know he doesn’t have the patience to listen to the lecture I could give him on the subject so I spare him.
«Oh Just sip it! If you’re man enough that is».
I’ve had this puerh only once, over a year ago, at a time when I could not appreciate it much. Things have changed, though I have only scratched the surface of puerh knowledge, at least I’m past the stage of being scared of it.
This tuocha is big. The first very short steep after the rinse is a dark brown purplish color. It’s so fragrant of leather, I can’t help thinking of horse stables, the smell of heavy duty leather that worn saddles are made of. It’s rich and bold. I get a faint sweetness, reminiscent of ripe figs or dates. Also very woodsy. It’s accessible I would say, a good quality everyday tea.
A much better experience than the first time I had it! I knew nothing about puerh and had done no homework. As I remember, I over steeped and the taste was revolting! Took me a while after that to start experimenting with any puerh. But I now find myself liking it more and more. There’s just so much to explore!
As for Jack, well, he just spitted his in the kitchen sink. Not his thing apparently!
The only word that came out with the tea was «Gross!». We laughed!
After the fun puerh tasting, he asked for the usual iPod refill. I was so relieved that the money issue was left alone.
Means he’s doing well this time. Sober for the last 45 days. Longest time since he was 16.
He’s not giving up. Happy fun little moments like this morning have been rare between us in the last two years and I will cherish that. Happy tea day…
ETA: This afternoon, Jack and I had this tea again. We’ve had a few tea sessions since that day, and to my disbelief, he asked if he could try the «gross spitting tea» again! (his words, not mine!) I said yes, but only if he’d promise to keep at least one sip in this time.
Not only did he drink many Gongfu shots, he actually liked the last ones as they were getting weaker. I think tea is becoming a project to him and that’s what I had hoped for…it keeps him away from other stuff that’s bad for him. Thanks to this little tuocha, we had once again a terrific time together! For that alone, I am grateful…
1 1/2 tsp for 8 oz
Beautiful aroma, gorgeous light gold liquor. Medium oxidized and not roasty. It has a lovely, fruity flavor.
Only downside was quite a bit of astringency in the finish. I’m going to try a lower temp next time to see if that goes away. Also, there was quite a bit of dust/fannings in one of my sample packets. It must have been the bottom of the bag. I will infuse just the larger leaves next time.
This is a type of oolong right up my alley! Not too green, not charcoally. Perfect when I want something a bit lighter than a black.
Same tea, new note. I added the rest of the sample. This is the last of one of the first teas I received from Teavivre. So sip down!
This is still so fresh and clean. Along with the melon and cucumber notes, it made me think pea pods today. Silver Needle is such a beautiful delicate tea.
This morning we played all hymns – probably haven’t done that in a decade. Started out slow and quiet. The last two we do as rockers, so I turned the volume up a just little (honest – maybe 1/8 turn). The sound guy and the drummer saw this as the moment they had been waiting for. Things got pretty loud after that (he he).
This tea has a beautiful earthy, floral smell.
The tea is crisp and light. I am not sure of the right words but it is not malty, and not roasty. It has a bit of an earthy taste, its sweet and rich, almost creamy.
Very good tea. As always, impressed with the quality of Teavivre teas.
This tea is crisp and clean. It smells very strong but actually is nice and light tasting. Not quite malty, but I think if I would have steeped for longer it would be malty. It tastes a bit roasted. There is a floral fragrance smell to the dry tea and taste to the brewed tea. I would say it reminds me of burnt caramel. But not burnt as is scorched, burnt as is when you are cooking caramel, and the longer you cook it the darker it gets.
I brewed this one up my version of western style. But I can taste in the tea how it would be great for drinking gongfu style.
1 tsp even for 5 oz
OK, trying this side by side with Adagio Yunnan Gold.
It’s obvious which is the better quality. The dry leaves have the same colors, but the Teavivre is slightly more neatly rolled. The Teavivre has more aroma, and the Teavivre liquor is clear and coppery red while the Adagio liquor is cloudy and orange.
Teavivre is more flavorful and smoother. Enough said.
Yesterday I had one of, if not the darkest, cheapest, loose leaf in my collection. This morning (6:00 AM) in celebration, I chose the lightest, possibly most expensive tea I have and it is a beautiful thing. When I take the time to notice sipping tea is a deeply spiritual thing. It connects me with the universe. This morning in honor of the One who created the universe, I rejoice in this cup. To those of you who are followers of the way – He is risen! Rejoice I say again rejoice! Happy Easter All! I’m off to play some loud guitar. Woo Hoo!