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Recent Tasting Notes
This was pre-movie tea for hubby and myself. We went to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel at our little local art house theater where they sell gourmet popcorn, wine, and a pretty extensive collection of Numi teas and a fair number of Tazo teas. The movie was pretty good, by the way, and only had one F-bomb, a real feat for an art house movie, it seems!
I made this in my largest pot because we seem to drink a lot of it at a time. It is smooth and sweet, very lightly butter-y, and goes well with food. We had it Sam’s club white meat chicken egg rolls, LOL! Hey, don’t judge, they were pretty good! And the tea went nicely with it.
Thank you to Angel at teavivre for the samples, of which this was one of many! The day that box arrived I was as happy as Christmas morning! Since then though I have been crazy busy with my internship and weekending with my university friends and have not had a chance to really enjoy tea (or to review it properly). So I finally had a spare minute today and decided to brew a cup of this!
My first thought was that the leaves of this tea are huge. I only used half of my sample package for a mini-tea pot worth (about a cup and a half) and it was probably not the best brewing implement as the basket it a little small to allow tea leaves this large to steep properly. The dry smell was very vegetal, like hay or dry grass. I was intrigued because this is the first non-flavoured white tea that I have tried, so it was the first time that I have actually smelled the leaves themselves.
I brewed it according to package instructions, 90 degree water for only 2 minutes, and overall was very pleased with the results. The flavour is very smooth and pleasant, lightly grassy with a hint of floral notes. I am not sure that straight white tea is my favourite cuppa, I think I am more of a flavoured tea girl along the lines of Strawberry Fields or Gold Rush, but the quality of this white is better than any I have tried and a perfect smooth blend for those days where I have had enough of strong flavours and just want a nice cup of white tea, with all of the benefits that go along with it!
Just a note on brewing, my teapot holds about a cup and a half, and the remaining half of a cup typically keeps brewing after I pour the first cup. Therefore the second cup was steeped for over 5 minutes. The result was a slightly bitter, strongly grassy tea that overwhelmed all of the pleasant floral notes. Therefore I strongly advise paying attention to brewing time- for this tea it makes a big difference!
I saved the last of this sample so that my fiance could try it too. I learned the importance of eventually getting a “fair pitcher” so that we get even flavors out of my press. My first cup was a little bitter while his was light and sweet. The flavors went back to normal for the second cup.
I am sad that this sample is gone, but I am happy that I was introduced to such a yummy type of tea. I will have to try some more Fujian blacks in the future.
Finally, after twenty minutes of waiting for this to load, I can review my last tea of the day. Last night I saved my pearls. Tonight I added a teaspoon of new pearls since I had made it on the light side last time. I unashamedly drank the whole pot by myself. This is my quiet tea, my happy place tea, my meditative tea. Always, always must have on hand. I will be taking some to a new “tea friend” to try when I get my stitches out at Duke next week, because he has been paying $6 an ounce for the Teavana ones, while these are less than $4 an ounce. When you drink a lot of it, that is a significant savings if the quality is as good, and I think these are better.
I think these are steeps eight and nine.
My son and I are drinking more puerh tonight and I saved these leaves from last night since they still seemed to have plenty of flavor. This is mild and I think it is getting a little sweeter. I am still saving the leaves as I think we have one or two more steeps we can get from these. This sample packet was $2 (it comes two packs at $4) and the three of us have shared it for two days and I see one more day in its future. Not bad at all, and pretty much makes $48 for the large cake a real bargain, especially considering what a smooth, drinkable puerh this is. Again, no horse-y, no dirt, definitely no fish, just clean, sweet, fall leaves.
This is another from my second batch of samples from Teavivre (many thanks!) I was feeling a little Western Gong Fu-ish today, so steeped some up while watching the beau play Uncharted 2 with my brother – I LOVE that we can play games with my family even though we live a couple hundred KMs apart. It is a lovely way to spend the weekend, especially now that we have a headset and can talk the whole time – the internet is a wonderful thing!
Anyway, I’m using my gaiwan and wee double walled teacups, so these are small steeps (maybe 2 oz liquid for each of us per steep?) I am not terribly familiar with oolongs, but I have tried a couple Tie Guan Yin in the past and generally know what I think of them. I tried the regular TGY from Teavivre in my first batch of samples and enjoyed it so thought the honey soaked one could only be better (I love honey! IF I sweeten a tea, it is my preferred sweetener.)
First steep – 80 degrees, 30 seconds. The liquor is not as clear as a typical oolong, though it is a warm yellow shade, almost like sunset with a hint of ochre. The brew smells quite vegetal (a bit more than I might prefer) but there is a hint of sweetness in the aroma which I prefer. The leaves have barely unfurled at all! The taste is very different from the smell – I get sweetness from the honey and typical oolong taste underneath. VERY pleasant, if a bit mild.
Second steep – 85 degrees, 35 seconds. The leaves have opened a bit more, but not nearly at full leaf yet. This steep is not as powerfully sweet from the honey (I assume most of it will dissolve in the first couple steeps) but neither is it a very powerful TGY. Another nice steep, but a bit muted. The beau says this steep tastes more of oolong.
Third Steep – 85 degrees, 45 seconds. Leaves are almost entirely opened now and I imagine most of the honey to have dissolved. This is a bit more vegetal than the first two and the sweetness is more in the aftertaste, like a taste memory. This steep really shows the quality of the TGY underneath the honey and I like it! The beau says this is definitely the best steep and I would tend to agree with him.
Fourth Steep – 85 degrees, 1 minute. This will be my last, as it is getting warm in our apartment as the sun comes out and I hate feeling too hot! The aroma has lost all sweetness and has a bitter/vegetal smell, but the taste is not as powerful as the aroma would have me believe. There is still a bit of honey sweetness underneath the sip and lingering in the aftertaste.
While this could easily go a couple more rounds, I need a timeout for some cold water. This was a lovely experience, I think I might even prefer this to the ‘regular’ TGY. If nothing else, it is a nice change from the usual. The third steep in particular was really nice and balanced the honey and oolong the best. Thanks again Teavivre for a lovely treat!
I found some Kashi flatbread style pizzas at Sam’s club and thought it was something my husband and son would like. It has a whole grain crust with spinach and three kinds of mushrooms. I wanted something healthy to drink to go with our healthy pizza, but it had to be something my son would drink, and he really isn’t a tea drinker other than one or two puerhs.
I chose this one because I think it is great with food. There is absolutely no bitterness and no sour taste. It is a very smooth green with a light butter flavor and a lightly floral/fruity aroma and aftertaste, but nothing to interfere with your meal.
I liked it and drank several cups, and it must have been pretty good because my son finished his cup. I had to go off before we had finished the pot, and I drank the last cup when I got home. It was quite cool, yet still very tasty and still had no bitterness at all!
Second Review Teavivre Sample…thankyou!
I made it to the Post Office in my local health food market just before closing at 6pm last evening…to send off samples of tea to Stoo (Steepster) and my sister-in-law Kathy (Special Ed. teacher). Some evil old desire came over me and I found myself next door at Starbucks, sitting in a big leather chair with a skinny vanilla latte (coffee) with Kindle in hand jotting comments on Steepster. How evil is that?! How could I? I repent!
To make up for last night, I need to blot out the memory of that coffee with a really great tasting PU-ERH! Yes!
Teavivre has one of my favorite loose Pu-erhs for every day drinking. It has big bold flavor. You do a quick rinse, steep 3 minutes and Wow! The darkest liquor!
The Pu-erh is super rich, deep, with an earthy broth and mushroom taste that is also a little salty. As a latte you could not ask for more. There is smooth creamy caramel without sacrificing a barrel aged, cave cured taste that I crave in Pu-erh’s.
I will buy this tea. It is not enough to have a large sample. I want to have this often. It has the most mushroom flavor of any Pu-erh I’ve tasted thus far. I should begin to catagorize my Pu-erh’s with flavor profile tags now. Seems like a better system than my memory.
Hope I am forgiven for backsliding. Why would I go back when there is so much more in tea (especially Pu-erh) than I ever imagined as a coffee drinker.
I realize I’m probably the odd one out brewing this with such short infusions, but I plan to try this longer as well with the husband, if I can ever get him to agree to sampling. Conversation last night: “Hey sweetie can I brew you a cup of really good black tea, I promise I won’t do short steeps”, husband: “No.” How do I work with that? (apparently by just brewing them and bringing them to him). So between that and me and the toddler not feeling well, these samples have been going slowly, my apologies.
I do think I am learning more about tea through this. Like I finally understand what people mean by a Yunnan having a linen like texture and for me it relates to the feeling, not the taste of pepper and cinnamon, though there are hints of those tastes in this too. The texture also reminds me of waffles, good whole wheat waffles like the ones I had for breakfast, which are really kind of linen like themselves. There is a soft sweetness here, but it does not speak to me as honey, nor as rock candy, but as sweet cream butter. However the tea is not yet buttery in this first short infusion, it does not coat the roof of the mouth until the second steep (perhaps if I did one longer infusion it would be there). Rather this is like licking a stick of unsalted butter and really tasting it.
I did brew the three Dian Hongs this evening at two and a half minutes each and got my husband to try each. All three are very nice black teas, each is different. Not so surprisingly the husband liked the lowest grade as it tasted the most “tea-like” more tannins I suspect and personally I think more malt, it had a cooler quality. What is surprising is that I preferred this, the middle. I think it was actually the most complex, but the golden tips is revealing more character as it cools. I will resteep each of these tonight at least once.
I also want to share how comforting opening the bag of this was, it smelled so rich and familiar, like opening up a huge canister of Golden Monkey and wafting it, which is saying something for such a tiny foil packet. The quality of the leaf is very good. I have not brewed the Golden Tips gonfu style yet so I will wait to review it as I am trying to figure out exactly what effects more buds have on the flavor, smooth, sweet and more high pitched are my initial thoughts, but I was getting some yam notes once it cooled. Thank you Angel and Teavivre
I just received my refill of this one. I said I didn’t want to ever be without it and I meant it! My oldest daughter and I shared a pot this morning, she who drinks tea because it is good for her and not because she likes it. She picked up her cup as we talked, took a sip, interrupted herself saying, “Oo, that’s good!” and kept talking. Yep. It really is.
Sweet daughter had come by to bring me a big bag of Lindt truffles to make my face feel better! :)
We had a mocha one with our tea and it was yummy!
My Teavivre package arrived yesterday!! So this is a backlog from yesterday afternoon. A BIG thank you to Angel for this! The samples are VERY (and I mean, VERY) generous.
The reason I did not log this tea yesterday is because, though very good, I did not know, yet again, how to describe it. I had a few words, but they weren’t fitting. After reading through other tasting notes for both the Organic and regular versions of this tea, I now know what I’m tasting.
First, let me get this out: I usually do not like strong, black tea. (You’re probably thinking, then why order it?) Well, I wanted to pick samples that sounded good, but also pick a few that were something I wasn’t fully familiar with, so I could expand. This was also my first chinese tea. :D So I’m being a bit adventerous.
Now for the tea!!
Smell: Malty. Grainy. It was an interesting and nice aroma, but very strong, so after a while I had to close the bag. Some other people mentioned chocolate and of course, it’s supposed to have a hint of caramel. I didn’t really get any chocolate, but there was a caramel scent, though light. Steeping the caramel came out more, and it was very nice.
Taste: To me, it had, once again, a grainy characteristic, but also, especially once I sweetened to my liking, I swear it tasted kind of like honey. I may be crazy, or maybe that was the caramel adding it’s two cents, but that’s what it tasted like to me. And it was amazing. It was also what I’d call smoky, and bold and wonderful. I really did enjoy this tea. :-)
Side note: I rinsed my leaves, and instead of putting them in the strainer and steeping in a mug, I put the leaves straight into the tea pot, and poured my tea through a strainer. Very good, and I think that’s the best way to make loose leaf, though I don’t mind my in-the-mug method.
I bought the sample of this tea with my last order. It came in two 7 g packs and there is a generous chunk of the tea cake in each packet.
I made this in my gong fu set following the Teavivre instructions for a gaiwan. The result was a very mild, sweet puerh. I did a 20 second rinse, followed by a fifteen second steep. That was almost too mild for me since I like a good, earthy, horsey puerh! But it was quite good. The second steep was about 30 seconds, and on each successive steep I really didn’t add much time. This is very tasty.
Some puerhs are fishy. This one has not the slightest hint of fishiness. Some puerhs are horsey, with a lot of saddle leather aroma. This one is sweet forest floor, leaves breaking down into rich soil that will soon be laden with mushrooms. Have you smelled pecan tree leaves as you rake them in fall and they break underfoot and release their sweet scent? That is what I am reminded of, the best scents of a clean forest path.
And boy, does this ever resteep! I think we are on number seven now, and it doesn’t look like it is thinking of quitting on me! This is so mellow and even though we had a meal of eye of round roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, and steamed asparagus with butter and lemon pepper, my mouth feels light and fresh. Don’t worry, I am about to go brush! But the tea is so CLEAN! Definitely one the puerh lover should consider, and one that may win over the reluctant puerh drinker.
Hm. Finishing up the sample they sent me. Eyeballed the infuser basket in my mini teapot.
Very sweet. Doesn’t taste as much like smoke as Adagio’s gunpowder does, but that’s okay with me. I love sweet greens. There’s a bit of the smoky aftertaste, and I love how it sort of follows the flavor instead of dominating it. Sad to see this one go.
Ever have one of those mornings where it makes no difference if you have your glasses or not because your eyes won’t focus? Haven’t been sleeping, so I haven’t had much tea lately, which is ok as Steepster hasn’t been letting me post much anyway.
I swear half these TeaVivre samples are bottomless (which makes me very happy!). I think it is because they resteep so well. I pity the fool who doesn’t resteep (said in my best Mr. T. voice). A scoop of leaf and your good for the day.
Dry this smells of sweet hay. Steeped, today it is reminding me of tiguanyin. I would do a better job with a description but my brain waves are on scramble. What’s the frequency Kenneth? Look a squirrel!
After reading some more tips on steeping oolong, I tried brewing it western style to see if I could get the right flavor. This time I got the right water temperature and it tastes awesome! Delicate and fruity! It also tastes sweet. I can’t wait to steep it again for supper. I am pretty sure I have at least two more good steeps like this. Maybe more. I’ll be drinking it all night long!