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Recent Tasting Notes

drank Bailin Gongfu Black Tea by Teavivre
119 tasting notes


This is a landmark for many reasons:
1.) THIS IS MY 100th tasting note! I can’t believe I’ve made so many!
2.) I have exactly 70 followers now! Thank you to everyone that puts up with my incoherent ramblin’s!
3.) This is my first 100 on a tea! Ironically on my 100th tasting note! Whuddathunkit?

So, thank you to everyone that’s stuck with me this whole time, I’ve already grown exponentially in my tea experience and I look forward to growing even more! Sorry that I haven’t been on for a few days, I’ve had a lot to do this week AND I wanted to make this note special because, it is afterall a landmark post. Also, I am sad to say that I most likely won’t be on for the rest of the week/weekend because I have the Vermont AllState Music Festival tomorrow through Saturday and then we are having a family dinner for Mother’s Day because my family from out of town are here visiting! Super exciting! You best believe that I will be drinking tea though!

So, onto this tea! Thank you very kindly to Angel and the rest of the Teavivre team, this tea is without a doubt one of the best blacks I’ve ever tried. I know that this will be a repeat of what I have said in the past and what other’s have said, but I love it so much. Last time I reviewed this I was going through a “moody I’m questioning what I like and how I like it” phase, but now I’m back and I can say fully that I love this one to death.

It has all the perfect characteristics that a Fujian should-it’s got a very nice, fresh baked bread taste (rye perhaps?). Alongside that is an extremely dark dark chocolate note that adds…… Not necessarily sweetness but rather a nice accent to the bread. Like a Pain au Chocolat, but a little bit of a grainier bread and a really dark chocolate.

In the second steep (unfortunately all I got to with this session today, although I know for a fact that it could have been steeped AT LEAST one or two more times) a realllllly yummy caramel taste came out. The grain started to back off a little in this one, though it was still definitely there. There was absolutely no astringency in either of these steeps!

This one is definitely going on the repurchase list! Thanks again to Angel and Teavivire for this sample as well as to all of my lovely followers for supporting me and reading my rambli-I mean reviews! Happy Drinking!

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

Hooray for you! Today you are a man (well not exactly but you are on the way!).
I think you’re taller also! Yes, I see it! Taller and with a glow about you! Fine chap that IAN! Congradulations fine Ian! Hear Hear for you’re a jolly good fellow!


Congratulations Ian! Nice choice of tea for a milestone BTW.


Hahahaha Bonnie! Thank you very much! I am very flattered :D


@kOmpir: Thank you so much! I love this one so much!

Daniel Scott

Taking note, I will look into this one!


I agree – this is really good!

Joshua Smith

Ah, I remember this tea. Good times. If I didn’t have such a large stockpile, I would buy some, but alas, that will have to wait until July…



Dylan Oxford

I got a sample of this from Azz (and now a sample from Teavivre), and I’m pretty impressed with it as well. I’m torn between drinking this second sample, and sharing the love for someone else to try, since I know I’m going to buy a mount of it later!


Congrats! This is definitely a milestone worthy tea, and I love reading your reviews. Keep ’em coming!


I should have this tea at my door step very soon! can’t wait to try it!!

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The dry leaf smells amazingly floral today. This leaf is now 14 months old but still makes one of my favorite delicate cups of tea. Creamy today with a pleasant aftertaste. Love it.

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Free sample provided by TeaVivre. Thank you!

Dark greenleaf is twisted and lightly rolled in snail shape with about quarter of white buds. This Bi Luo Chun reminds me of White Monkey Paw since its so fluffy and doesn’t seem to deviate much in appearance. When I phisically compared the two, they’re almost identical!

I brewed two one-minute infusions using 250 ml glass teapot using 3 gr of leaf and 80 Celsius water.

First infusion, strained after one minute shows off light green-yellow tone with steamed vegetables (something like zucchini or peas, not sure) along with some leaf sediment at the bottom. Initially, the liquor doesn’t seem to show any signs of astringency, it’s fresh, light and moist. Second sip reveals some chestnut note hiding in background. Half way in, astringency silently moves in stiffening the gums and leaving the tongue dry and on the very root sweetness lingers. As I go past half the cup the intensity of dryness and astringency increases but still not shifting to leaving off unwanted overall impression.
I’m not a big fan of Bi Luo Chun, but I can keep up with astringency/dryness as long as it doesn’t get past this point.

Second infusion shifts more to vegetal element with accent to dryness and somewhat astringency that are in the same range as second half of first cup. There isn’t any sign of that sitting sweetness from previous cup. Half way in and dryness moves to throat with starchy texture and tongue registers just a hint of bitterness righ just after the swallow.
The leaf could take one more infusion that would be even more dry, astringent and even bitter. I’m really satisfied with first cup but I would pass the second one if I’m in ‘spoiled palate’ mood.

Wet leaf reveals notable broken leaves due to handling and transport. There’s a large of first leaf that has just separated from the bud which is characteristic for this tea that is harvested early in season. With deep sniff fresh and grassy profile is savored with vegetal note in background.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Tea of the afternoon… (SRP #30)

Hmmm. The needles on this one are definitely longer than my previous cup. It also is incredibly fresh and you can see the difference in the steeped leaves compared to my last cup. The brew is so pale, it does not look all that much different from water. I had to double check the water temp, because I have not really seen a white tea brew up this pale. I used the same setting on my electric kettle as the last and steeped for 2 minutes. It could also be that I should have twice as much tea than the 5 gram packet I added to my 24 oz teapot (I am really thinking this is where my problem lies). This is quite different from my previous cup. But, this would be the prime choice for the person who likes subtlety in their floral teas. For me, I pretty much prefer a sweet form of jasmine in overdrive as long as it doesn’t go to perfumy. I do get the high quality white tea flavor profile. Also, the price of this one brings it in line more with an every day tea

I am off to try a resteep of the first half along with the rest of my sample for three minutes to see if it helps. Stay tuned.

Edit to add: Yes, much better on the resteep. Light jasmine, high quality white tea. Liquor is still on the pale side, but what I woud expect from a white tea.
In summary: Lovely tea. Unbeatable price. All form a company with great service and attention to detail in presenting themselves in a way appreciated by tea drinkers.

170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 0 sec

Definitely too much water.


Yes, much better with the ratio of tea to water corrected!


This one is on its way to me! Now I am even more excited to try it!

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Honestly I don’t have a lot to say about this one right now because I had it with lunch so some of the nuances were lost and I wasn’t really paying attention to it. It was delicious, however, and a 1 minute steep definitely suited it with no loss of flavor. A nice, simpler jasmine to have than pearls.

195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec

Do you like this better than pearls Dsara? I find the Yin Hao to be less fragrant & it doesn’t multi steep as well. but it is still areally good Jasmine tea.


No, I definitely prefer pearls when I want a really jasminey tea, which is usually what I want when I want jasmine tea. :) I do enjoy having a less pungent jasmine green with a meal, though, and I wouldn’t have pearls for that. I did bring back a non-pearl jasmine green from China that I love as much as pearls, but it’s an exception to most things I’ve tried.


Is it as sweet as their jasmine pearls?


No, not as sweet as pearls… this one nice but not on the level of pearls when it comes to sweetness. Teavivre’s pearls are really good, though.

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Thank you Teavivre for this wonderful Pu-erh sample!

It is a gloriously beautiful day on the Frontrange! After yesterday’s rain, everything sparkles today in the sunshine at this mile high altitude. The green trees seem greener and the birds are hunting for worms in the still damp grass.

I remembered that I had one last Pu-erh sample from Teavivre to try out. A special older one. Good choice for my early morning lazy bones enjoyment.

I prepared my Yixing pot and a 1.5 tsp of the dry pu-erh. My rinse time was 10 seconds and I did 2 rinses. In all I was able to do 5 steepings before I was full, but I continued later in the day and will this evening. I made iced, bottled pu-erh for on the road (delicious) from these same leaves. I have to note that this was some of the darkest, dry pu-erh I’d ever seen, and tightly compacted! There’s not much scent to the dry leaf.

Steep time on the package said 2 min. (I like pu-erh strong but, you could shorten a bit).

1. The color of the liquor was chestnut brown and there was no musty, earthy scent. When I smelled the wet leaves they smelled like sweet grass and bread. The first sip was sweet, salty hazelnut-pecan without any tannin. The flavor was full and rich.

2. I messed up and let this round steep 5 minutes…eek…it looked like espresso. Not to worry! The DARK chestnut liquor still tasted good. I drank it (are you kidding me?!)
I made a Cappucino because, eh….in Rome you can add some milk in the morning ONLY! I had saved my cuppa!

3. I noticed that the leaves had still NOT opened all the way inside my Yixing. This was really tightly packed pu-erh! The leaves were smelling a little more like leather in a good way. The pour was chestnut brown so I had not killed the strength (whew!). The flavor had changed. It was lighter and juicy. There was cinnamon that filled my whole mouth mid sip and was sweet but not biting. All the flavors together had body. This was a good pour.

4. Now the leaves had become as black as midnight and smelled of sweet leather. The flavor on the pour had become juicy with some tannin and less cinnamon or nuttiness. The color was still good but the tea seemed to be going flat on flavor.

5. Here is where I added a little sugar…the spice returned and the tannin toned down, but now an apricot floral flavor swept in at the finish. I mean, which would you prefer? Flat and tannin, rich and apricot floral? I pick #2. On and on this tea delivers and does not quit. It does not give up. Amazing!

Here is my take. This is a bargain! You can steep this tea forever! I have just scratched the surface on the steeping possibilities of just a little bit of this pu-erh and the delicious flavor is worth purchasing! This is a quality pu-erh!

And note about what to do with used leaves. I have a garden pot where I mix mulch with good used organic tea leaves (especially pu-erh). I also have a jar for pu-erh rinse water that I let cool and pour on my herb garden plants. They thank me by growing strong and healthy.


Bonnie, one tea I really do not have at the moment is Pu-erhs.


That’s something we must take care of pronto!

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1) I’m sick and am not going to get the best taste or flavour out of this tea
2) I used too much leaf or did something wrong with the brewing
3) I’m just not a fan of straight green tea anymore

Or it could be all of the above, in parts. This steep is feeling heavy and a bit astringent.

More after I have finished this cup and attempt a re-steep.

Many thanks to Angel Chen for sending this to me to try…


The second steeping has brought out a milder taste, though I’m still leaning toward the notion that I used too much leaf, and that I am just not as much a fan of Chinese greens.

I really like the the look and texture of the leaves though, when they are dry. The white tips are a nice touch.

I have to say that I think this tea is a bit savoury and astringent or drying. Next time I will use less leaf and maybe a shorter steep time as well.

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This is my last sample of this package, I was so excited to try them all that I had to sample them all right away! Thankyou again to Angel and TEAVIVRE for these wonderfully generous samples!

I used 1 teaspoon of leaf. The leaves are nice looking, different than anything I have seen before.
I was a little worried about the smell of the steeped leaves….it was like smoky potatoe soup.
The liqour is a nice deep brown.
1st steep: complex sweet potatoe with a little pit of smoky and sweetness in there. This might sounds weird but it tastes a little like barley without the grain-i-ness (does that make sense). It kinda tastes like sweet potatoe soup, which sounds really strange but actually tastes pretty good.
2nd steep: 90degrees, 3minutes, a little less sweet but still good
3rd steep: 95degrees, 4 minutes, now it tastes like potatoe soup without the sweet potatoe

This is very different than I was expecting and very different than anything I have tried before. I actually like it!

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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Yum yum! I love how sweet and nutty this tea is. It’s amazing how different various green teas can be from one another in taste. I definitely appreciate them way more than I ever did before. Actually my appreciation of these greens makes me not as interested in some of the flavored green teas I used to like a lot… those bases just seem so boring in comparison. I do love the occasional flavored green with a really interesting base, but I don’t see them as much.

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Goodness. This one is a keeper. I had to wait until my second time tasting this before adding a note, just to make sure I do like it this much.

Looks: My sample came in a purple package with the leaves vacuum packed inside. The tea itself is sticky with honey and brew up a medium green.

Fragrance & Taste: The aroma is characteristic of Tie Kuan Yin, but the addition of honey make it more..comforting, somehow. There is a little more sweetness, and the flavour is more mellow. I find I crave this on morning when I’m sore and tired.

Brewing note: This tea is not great for resteeping, in my opinion, because the honey is pretty much gone after the first steep. Sure, you can resteep and the TGY flavour is still fabulous, but I find myself missing the delicious honey flavour. I brew at just under 200F, for 2 minutes. There is a slight astringent flavour if I overbrew, which I imagine will get worse the longer you steep.

Disclaimer: I got this as a free sample from TeaVivre.

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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Thank you Teavivre for the sample!

This tea was very relaxing today. I even found it evoked some vivid memories in my mind. I didn’t find it as flavourful as other Bai Mu Dan’s I’ve tried, but I did find it to be slightly sweet, floral and meditative. The texture was silky smooth and delicate, yet almost syrupy.

I got 3 steeps out of the leaves, and although the caffeine content is low, I do feel energized in a very relaxing way. Like I could do a craft. I’m going to do a craft!

I have a full review on the way, I’ll post the link in the comments below when it’s finished :)


wow – you sure have been blogging a lot! My goal is once a week… lol


haha it is a lot! I’m just trying to get a base of stuff for people to read while I’m still unemployed – it’ll definitely cut down once a job comes my way!


oh PS I very much enjoy your blog on teatrade – pretty jealous of your proximity to so many different tea places :D I love the recent Vital Tea Leaf post, it made me laugh


Thanks! I will try to keep it going but will have to find other things to write about once I run out of tea places to review. hee hee!


How… did I miss seeing the fact that your blog was up and running? Oh right, my brain’s been pretty sidetracked for a week now. Thanks for the link and therefore reminder, and also for the new source of reading material (right, like I needed more at 11:40pm after a day of driving and field work and three hours sleep :P)


I think it was a teavivre day today! I had one and I saw at least one other tasting as well. :P


Nice haha! Happy Teavivre day!

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Thank you TeaEqualsBliss for sending me some of this tea. It is astounding!

What a deliciously complex cup of tea. I will probably be echoing some of the other tasting notes here, because I do taste the sweet-potato/yam-like flavors, as well as the caramel-y undertones. I also taste a bit of spice to this, like a hint of nutmeg and pepper.

A remarkably good set of flavors to this tea… I’m so enjoying it! YUM!


I liked this one as well.

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Free Sample from Teavivre.
First steep I decided to drink instead of use as rinse – leathery, not fishy at all other than slightly very slightly in aroma and if you can get past that which I did easily it is quite rich and lovely!
Tastes of wood, sandalwood specifically come out.
Slightly perfume like flavor.

The following steeps still tasted dark, chocolate notes come out, the leather like flavors still present and I am feeling very relaxed!

Pu-erh is a very lovely special tea which I always throughly enjoy.
Thank you Teavivre for this sample!

Scott B

I have this at home, but have been a little nervous about trying a Pu-erh.


Go for it! I would recommend a rinse – about 30 seconds or full steep time – dump then steep again. Now I did drink my “rinse” steep but I love Pu-erh and this was not my first time. I would only suggest this to mellow you into the idea of pu-erh but you CAN drink it by all means. I will say this is not my all time FAVORITE pu-erh but it is nice a good place to begin!

Scott B

Thanks for the tips. I’m not as worried about the taste as much as whether any mold or yeast in the tea will give my allergy problems.


Scott – I have allergies too and have not had any problems with pu-erh that i know of…

Scott B

Thanks, Amy. I’ll get to it eventually. Think I will try Verdant’s Imperial Breakfast first-it has a little bit of Pu-erh in it.


Ah yes sorry Scott that is a whole different animal!

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Backlog #8: I was drinking this and all of the sudden it hit me! This tea tastes almost like the bubble tea I was drinking obsessively when the Chinese Club was selling it. The base is a medium body with just a touch of a caramel. Not much, but enough that I can tell it is sweeter than my Yunnan. I need to try this in a latte now and find out if my hunch is right.

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Backlog #7: I am liking this more the more times I drink it. I can see how it can be an everyday cup of tea that goes well with meals. The flavor isn’t heavy enough to interfere with any food flavors, but it is enough to make it pleasant. The green tea also dries out my mouth just a little bit between bites so that my palate doesn’t get overwhelmed by flavors. This would go fantastic with sushi!

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Backlog #6: You didn’t think I would stay away from some type of Yunnan that long now that I have this, did you? This one is a little less chocolately than the Golden Imperial Lotus from Teavana, but I don’t have to steep it as long to get a full cup out of it. I still only steep it only two times or else it just gets too weak for my taste.

I really want to know how this would taste in a latte, but I love it too much plain to drink it with milk. Maybe one day I will try it before I get other Yunnans.

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So, I just got done with exam week and I have some backlogging to do from my past few weeks that I have been absent. My computer charger died the first week I was gone. Then I just didn’t drink that much tea until after exam week. But I am back and very happy to brew some lovely teas.

Backlog #1: Jasmine “Dragon Pearls”. I brought this one out when playing Skyrim and it is only the second Jasmine tea I have ever had. It smells fantastic and it is so much fun to watch the pearls float around in my french press. The tea itself isn’t as sweet as I thought it would be and it didn’t taste like much. It was a pretty standard green tea to me, but my roommate who also tried it said it was the most fantastic Jasmine tea she has ever had. Maybe I just need to try more Jasmine teas before thinking of this one as “generic”. I will happily drink up the rest of my sample.

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Many thanks to the Teavivre team for this lovely sample! The first infusion after a short rinse yielded a very dark, almost thick tea. It was a little bit earthy for my taste, but this was easily remedied with the addition of a small amount of sugar and a splash of milk. The second infusion was just as dark, but not as thick as the first. The floral aspect of the chrysanthemum is more noticeable this time around and adds a nice, light sweetness. The third infusion was significantly lighter with the floral sweetness even more noticeable than before.

Overall, I really enjoyed this pu-erh. I would love to try the other varieties from Teavivre – specifically the rose pu-erh. I am loving my samples from Teavivre so far. Thanks again for the chance to sample some of your tea!

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So I have waited and waited to write this review. Mainly because I have been drinking a lot of black teas lately and some were blending together for me. I had to come back to it after I had paired it with food. I paired it with a chocolate croissant the 3rd time and then with a blood orange the next.
I like this..but it did not blow me out of the water. After reading so many reviews I wanted it to, but It did not do it for me. It is still a good cup of tea..

The first cup for me has a chocolate note to it. With a little oat to round off the finish. The second has more oat and a little astringency to it.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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Thank you again to Teavivre for this sample! :)

At first smell and sip, it almost had the same flavour profile as the fujian black I had sampled the day before – but that thought was immediately swept away when the smokiness crept in. mm it is by far my favourite part of this tea.

It’s a gentle smoke, not too harsh, however I did find the base a bit sharper than I expected. The leaves are quite small, so I may have brewed a bit too long. I do taste a maltiness – that is what I associate with the fujian – but other than that they are very different teas.

I did get some floral notes from the tea – I’m enjoying this very much! There is a lot of depth in this tea that I wasn’t expecting – although it may be a bit too astringent for my tastes, the smokiness is definitely seducing me. I look forward to my next cup – when I’m in the mood. ;)

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Thank you Teavivre for the samples I won on your Facebook page woop!

It’s exciting for me right now – I’m in a place where I’m delving into straight teas more than I have in the past (and not just oolongs, even though they’re my favorite). I found it very exciting when I correctly identified the unmarked tea from my aunt in China as Big Red Robe!
With this tea, I’m discovering what makes it a fujian – and right now for me that flavour is in the realm of pumpkin seeds and caramel.

This particular tea had a hint of savoury tomato in it, which to be honest is not my favorite when I catch that flavour (as I have in many Adagio teas), but after the first steep it settled into a nice, rich, dark profile that I did enjoy.

There’s a little too much malt for me, and the tomato notes aren’t really for me either – but this is a quality tea and I did enjoy my half sample of it. Thank you! :)

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This was my first time drinking pu-erh tea and i did not really know what to expect. So far I haven’t had very pleasent experiences with black teas and I wasn’t sure how pu-erh compared to black. I can tell you now that they don’t. This pu-erh took me off guard and pleasantly surprised me!

The dry disk was a hard brick of dark tea with a noticeable earthy smeel. To be honest, the smell had me nervous but my fears were quite unfounded.

I rinsed the tea first then steeped it at 212 for 1.5 minutes. The leaves broke up pretty well I would say but I might rinse it more next time to provoke the breaking more. The liquid was an incredibly dark brown with a earthy smell. Now at this point I really had no idea what to expect. The taste was earthy with a slight fishy sweetness and not bitter at all!

The second was at 208 for 1 minute and broke the tea up completely. It did not lose any flavor at all! I’m sure this could be steeped over and over for awhile. I look forword to much more pu-erh in the future!

Boiling 1 min, 0 sec

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(This is the GRADE 1).

I found this tea to be somewhat bitter. I steeped it only three minutes at just under boiling temperature. Its not a “bad” bitterness, though. It has a nice aroma that seems slightly perfumed, and a subtly smooth mouthfeel. Drinking from a black mug (since my white one broke!) brings out the dark reddish undertones in the liquid- very pretty. For me, this is a tea I might drink as a morning pick-me-up, perhaps because of the slight bitterness. It’s not one of my favorite teas, but definitely not one I’d want to discard. I need to drink it more in order to appreciate its qualities.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

If you’re a black tea lover and like malty or yam teas the Laoshan Black from Verdant is great and Butiki has a nice Assam. If you want samples I can send you some. Tea folks do that!


I have no idea about malty flavors- I’ve got a lot to learn about black teas! I think I’m more of a green tea person, but I want to try an assam for sure. I would love samples. If there is any tea you’d like that I can send to you, please let me know. I’m amassing quite a collection!

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Yesterday’s tea to take to work. I have decided that I don’t want to take a really special tea like this anymore unless I can pour it in a cup. Drinking it from a closed top container makes you lose the enjoyment of sniffing the aroma. This was great, though….too good to take to work on a busy day when you can’t appreciate ow excellent it is.

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