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Recent Tasting Notes
Tea of the evening…..
First of all, thank you to Teavivre for this sample. I have really appreciated the way their tasting activity has made me expand my comfort zone for tea.
Now that I have a gaiwan, it is much easier to test this kind of tea. I am definitely still new to pu’erh, but I have to say this has been my favorite so far. It could be that I am finally getting better at preparing it, too. Leaf smell is very earthy, but more like the garden smells when you are planting, rather than a barn! I used what roughly looked like a tsp of leaves. I rinsed them. First steep was 1 minute, second was about a minute and a half. The liquor is more golden brown that I would have expected. The other few pu’erhs I have tried definitely had more of a dark reddishness to the tea. First steep smells of hay, but tastes earthy and very mellow. Really, the taste is somewhere between strong black tea and a porter beer. My very first pu’erh tasted of dirt, but this is not anywhere near the same. Earthy and warm. It has a heavy mouthfeel, and there are no small bits of debris like I have had from lower quality tuo chas from other companies (maybe I did not rinse them very well in the beginning…like I said, my preparation has improved, too). I am drinking this after a not so healthy dinner, so it is definitely helping calm my stomach. Second steep is a little stronger due tot he longer steep, but just tastes a little more intense than the first cup.
I do find it interesting that this one seems so much more mellow than the 2010 pu’erh that I recently had from another company. I did ask Teavivre for a beginner’s pu’erh, and I do think this is a good place to start.
I have been feeling a little bit “off” for a couple of weeks now. I am pretty sure it is from too much holiday food combined with getting off of my exercise schedule during the holidays and now trying to put it all back together. After meals I feel especially strange, so I think my digestion needs some TLC.
I turn to puerh tonight to see if that will help. This is the my very last tuo cha from Teavivre, but I do have two kinds of their loose puerh left as well as the beeng Cha I got from Mandala in December. This was actually sent to me by AmyOh way back, but since it is puerh it has only been getting better!
I gave this a 30 second rinse, then a one minute steep. It is nice and dark. I immediately made another one minute steep and combine the two in my fair cup. It is still quite dark. The flavor is rich and the floral aspect muted. The taste is not fishy at all, and very horsey. I think of piles of leaves and mushrooms, nice and earthy.
I will probably go three more steeps on this tonight.
Edited to add: final steeps were so good. The tea seemed to get a thicker mouthfeel, that thing I call a cedar oil coating. It feels so smooth.
I still have a few of these left, sent so generously by AmyOh. My daughter and hubby wanted to drink some puerh last night and so far Teavivre has been hubby’s fave, though he had not tried this yet that I can recall. I made three eight ounce steeps and poured them all together in the larger pot. Both liked it very well, and I am reaching that point where I had better order soon because the night time pot of tea is becoming a ritual and I am getting really low on puerh!
Maybe my palate is not very sensitive, but I do not taste anything floral, and I don’t taste chrysanthemum. I do taste a shu puerh that I like a lot and really enjoy. This one is earthy and horsey with nary a hint of fish.
This tea came from AmyOh and is definitely the chrysanthemum one this time! I think last time I had gotten a rose tuo cha mixed in with the ones Amy sent, but there is no doubt I am looking at a chrysanthemum now.
I did a quick rinse, then made two steeps in rapid succession and poured both into my fairness cup. (During the rinse I left the lid off the pot. The sepals of the chrysanthemum started to unfurl and wave and it was truly creepy and looked like a scene from a horror movie. I guess I have been watching too much Doctor Who.)I immediately resteeped again and carried it all to the tea table, so the different steeps were mixed together.
This was a good puerh. I did not expect to find it very different from the other two from Teavivre, but I do believe it may be just a touch milder. The third steep was especially dark, very inky. We continued steeping to about six I think, and by the end it was getting lighter. The flavor brings to mind earth and leather horse tack, my favorite.
This was very good, and I look forward to drinking them all, but I think I will order the plain Ripened Aged Tuo Cha puerh rather than one of the florals. I really don’t taste the flower and I think the plain puerh is just a bit stronger.
As usually happens, I had probably only had one or two ounces of this tea when my stomach started sounding like the singing of whales, apparently whales with questions, as the musical phrases usually ended with an upward lilt. Puerh makes my tummy feel better when I have been bad, and I was bad twice today – lunch pizza with youngest, and Five Guys with hubby for supper. Oof. But now all is well and tummy will not keep me up tonight!
Thank you, AmyOh, for gifting these to me! I will most likely be drinking this again with my son tomorrow. He liked Teavivre’s puerh well enough to have me order seven ounces for him.
I set up my bamboo tray on the floor in the living room last night, lit candles, and brought in the electric kettle. Hubby and I had seven steeps in my eight ounce glass pot. I love using the tiny double walled glass cups I bought from Teavivre with my glass pot! The tea looks so beautiful in glass and you don’t burn your fingers. A friend had tea with me using these once and made me order a set for her before she left.
This is a good TGY. I don’t taste the honey and I noticed Bliss said it added texture to her tea. Perhaps that is what I should look for next time but nothing about honey stood out to me. I don’t add any sweetener to oolongs (or hardly anything, for that matter) so I don’t need the honey, but it is fun knowing that the honey came from hives all around the tea fields.
I did notice a remarkable difference between the very hot, freshly steeped tea and the tea that sat for a little while in the fair cup. Henceforth, I will most definitely be cooling this tea a bit before drinking, because the flavors really blossom and swell as it cools.
It was a lovely tea experience, very peaceful.
My friend who is trying to learn to like tea other than black tea and puerh came over today to try this. She loved Silky Green from Bird Pick and asked me to order some for her but she wants to try even more. This one was on her list to try because she loves to buy organic and the honey is supposed to come from bees kept around the tea plantation.
I used one pouch of leaves in a six ounce gong fu pot. We probably made six steeps before we stopped. The first steep tasted strongly of oats to me, like Cheerios. Each steep became sweeter until I was getting that plum aftertaste I had with their Chun Mee. And the best part is that my friend really enjoyed it and is expanding her horizons! We have agreed that we want to protect our arteries so we will still know each other’s names when we get old!
I recently placed my first official order with Teavivre. I got free shipping but it arrived quickly. Of the teas I ordered, this was the only I had never tried, and I was especially excited about it. Of course, I could just add a bit of honey to my tea. One of my former music students became an organic farmer and sells honey as well, but I never add it to my tea, though I used to add it to herbals.
There was something special about hearing that this tea is SOAKED in honey produced by bees kept around this tea plantation. Wow! And wow, again!
I made this gong fu style. First steep – very good. Nice TGY and the honey really doesn’t mask the flavor. In fact, if I didn’t already know it was there I might not know it was there, you know? :)
Second steep – darker, more flavor. The leaves have really unfurled now and are quite large. What started as a thin layer of pellets on the bottom of the pot is now a pot bursting with leaves. I am now eating my salad for lunch, and I must say this tea is an amazing pairing for it: baby spring mix, tomatoes, celery, Swiss cheese, and Sweet Vidalia Onion dressing. The TGY just turned my salad into a feast.
Third and fourth steeps – the tea is a little tiny bit astringent now and doing just what the Chinese like for it to do…cleanse the palate after the meal. Perfect timing since my salad is now gone!
Delicious, and oh yes, I would definitely order this again.
I made two steeps of this to go with lunch today. Hubby is either getting used to green tea and wants to drink for health reasons, or his tastes are changing and he is actually enjoying it. As he was working on the kitchen re-do he kept coming in the living room and getting more.
This is a delicious green that goes well with food but is also wonderful as a contemplative cup. Buttery, lightly brothy, fresh.
I had to run errands for hubby and it is about 100 degrees outside. Youngest and I stopped at Taco Bell for takeout and she got a Baja Blast. Soda. Soda. Soda. Cold and bubbly.
But I don’t want to want soda! I got home and I opened the fridge and there was this pitcher of perfectly clear, glowing golden liquid. I made it the regular way for hot but poured it in a glass pitcher and put it in the fridge on Wednesday. I can’t get over how clean and fresh and clear this looks. Not clear as in colorless, clear as in there is no sediment, no particles at all. Beautiful. And satisfying! I don’t want soda anymore. And I believe I owe replacing sugary drinks with tea a lot of the credit for dropping my triglycerides by 103 points in 3 months, without medication. Go, tea!
This was the final tea of tea party today. I saved the green for last. Because I love this one so much, I really wanted to share it with my guest even though she is not a big fan of green teas.
How could she resist? She was very I impressed with this tea and really, truly loved it. It is an excellent green. We even brought out the big bag (that’s right, this one isn’t a free sample, it is the big bag I couldn’t resist after trying my free sample! Woot! Woot!) and poured out some leaves to show her how different they look, how the long, thin leaves have a sheen and an almost silky feel as you run your fingers down the shiny, wok toasted leaf.
I am taking a JoeMo of tea with me every day to work at early voting. I enjoy it early in the morning, but it is getting so hot and muggy I will have have to start taking iced! Yesterday’s tea was this Dragon Well, and we resteeped it last night and I shared a pot with my oldest daughter.
Dragon Well was the first type of green tea that I liked and remains one of my favorites. It isn’t sour or bitter, has a medium body, and resteeps very well. Good stuff, and this one is excellent.
Teavivre sent me a sample of this tea a while back, and I couldn’t wait until it was all gone to order it. I had to have it on hand so I wouldn’t be without it for even a day. I served this one to hubby tonight since he is warming up to green tea now thanks to Premium Silky Green from Bird Pick.
He liked this one also. I noticed he drained his cup and was refilling, and it wasn’t long before he asked youngest if she would mind starting up a resteep for us.
This is fresh and fragrant with a hint of grain flavor and light drying to cleanse the palate. I follow their recommendation of 176 degrees. The first steep was 1 1/2 minutes, and the second received two minutes. Delicious and satisfying.
Oh, yes! This is the kind of green I enjoy most! The dry leaves smelled nice and vegetal when I opened the pouch…not quite as sweet as buttered squash, but maybe a bit like bok choi? The liquor is pale yellow. The taste is so so smooth. I am so glad a made a pot of this and not just a cup.
Long ago I wanted to drink green tea for my health. I bought grocery store bags and prepared them all wrong, drank what tasted like hot water and got a stomach ache.
When Sandy first took me to A Southern Season, I bought a dragon well tea because I had heard they were some of the healthiest. When I made ithe tea, it was such a far cry from the first bagged green I had tried that I could hardly believe it.
This is really excellent. The greens I have had this week so far have been astringent. This one is not. It is smooth, sweet, and wonderful. Here is another tea that needs to go on my Teavivre order. I can’t wait to have my daughter try this one.
Thank you, Angel and Teavivre! This is really hitting the spot!
Last night I asked my son who is here for the holidays if he would like some tea. He said sure! I asked what kind and he replied that he would like the usual. The usual means Teavivre Puerh, usually ripened Tuocha.
This is the final Tuocha that was sent by AmyOh. Thank you, Amy!
This Tuocha is larger than the ones I bought at A Southern Season. I put it in an eight ounce glass pot and gave it a thirty second rinse because I couldn’t remember how well this one breaks up. The rinse was fine, because the next steep, also thirty seconds, was inky black. I made three steeps in rapid succession and combined them in one larger pot.
Great as always. I confess I still do not detect much if any rose flavor, though the pink bud is very pretty in the Tuocha and in the pot! This is a stronger puerh than Mengku Palace. It is not fishy but strongly horsey. Very good, and very soothing for tummies. That is a good thing with all the holiday cooking.
This is a gift from AmyOh! Thank you, Amy! I saved this for drinking with my son and his girlfriend.
This is a really great puerh. We used my gong fu set and made about five or six infusions. This has great, rich flavor. We had Rishi Pu-erh Classic afterwards and NO ONE was impressed. They preferred the Teavivre puerh.
Thank you, Amy! I shall enjoy this with my family very much!
When I made the last Ripened Aged Mini Tuo Cha from Teavivre it took until the third steep for it to really break up. I often do not rinse my tea if they seem to steep to a deep color right away. I hate to waste any of the tea so I drink it and enjoy, but that one really did need the rinse to be strong enough. This one, however, disintegrated as soon as the water hit it. As I poured off the rinse, it was at first very light and then quite dark at the end of the tiny pot.
I then added more water and did a short steep. Delicious! Earth and leather! It takes me back to my childhood when I owned a pony. This is the scent of the field full of horses and my little fellow freshly saddled. (I had prayed every night for a pony and one day a lady asked me to sing “Take Me Home, Country Roads”. Another lady heard me, started crying, said she was from West Virginia and asked me if I wanted a pony. I was about ten years old. I said yes. I named him Sam.)
I do not have the most sensitive or educated palate in the world, but I am not finding the rose flavor. Like KS, I feel that it may be there or it may exist only in my imagination. It may be lending a ghost of a hint of sweetness. The rose bud is pretty and I think this will make a beautiful tea for my son to give his girlfriend for Valentines Day, but the bud is tiny and I just don’t find the flavor of it in my cup. I agree that it might be a good thing.
The bottom line: this puerh has no fishy or shrimpy aroma or taste. There is rich earth and also saddle leather. On the third and fourth steeps the liquor is still quite dark (it was inky black at first) and it is becoming rich, plowed farm soil in summer sun. This is one of the best puerh experiences ever. I may try to have their plain puerh again a little later today to compare and see which I want to put on my order. I definitely want to keep this around, and need to since three frequent visitors to my home have become hooked on it.
I did it again. I was looking for a tea to go with our take-out tonight and gleefully pulled this out. “I thought I was out of this!” said brain, reading Chun Mei and thinking very clearly Pi Luo Chun. One of hubby’s favorites and I thought we were out! (Again, this would be Pi Luo Chun not Chun Mei.)
The instructions were way too conservative (for PLC) so I steeped it extra for that lovely oat taste. I had made two steeps and combined them in a large tetsubin.
Halfway through the meal I notice that this is rather strong, and suddenly my brain, which has been running pretty slow all day, went DING! DING! DING! THIS ISN’T PI LUO CHUN IT IS CHUN MEI! ONE OF YOUR DAUGHTER’S FAVORITES AND NOW WAY TOO STRONG!"
Sigh. Hot water to the rescue. I added about 12 ounces of hot water to the remaining 24-ish ounces of tea left and we were left with a delightful pot of Chun Mei!
This really is a great tea to go with a meal or for cleansing the palate after a meal. It has that little bite, that briskness, with green green flavor to move aside any heaviness of the meal. And I am delighted that it is so easily salvageable when I make a mistake like I did tonight.
I haven’t had a Chun Mei in ages! This is a great tea to pair with food because the briskness lets you taste it and keeps the food from covering up the tea. This also makes it a great tea to serve after a meal to clear the palate, and the briskness is followed by a sweet aftertaste. Served with orange chicken, veggie lo mein, and pepper steak. One of my daughter’s favorite greens.
I did get around to opening my new Chun Mei from Teavivre tonight. They sent this as one of my samples a while back, and that was around the time I was first learning to appreciate green tea and learning how the Chinese value the astringency for cleansing the palate after meals. With this information in hand, I was better equipped to enjoy these teas and not try to fit them into the same molds as black teas.
The first time I tried this, I noted the bitter veggie taste – a slight sourness to the tea that made me feel it would never really be my “bag.” Then I noticed how there was a sweetness that would rise in the throat well after the sip and I started craving that sensation. Thus my order for a whole bag of it!
The first notable thing was that when I opened the pouch, right away my brain said “CHOCOLATE!”
Hmmm, that didn’t happen when I opened the Harney tin. I sniffed both teas. Yes, the Teavivre one smells very distinctly like chocolate, whereas the Harney tea requires much sniffing and snuffling to find a light almost chocolate note.
The Harney leaves are larger, while the Teavivre leaves are more broken. Perhaps this is the reason for the shorter recommended steep time, although the water temp they recommend is higher than usual for green. I think I noticed brothiness more with the Harney version. Right now, slurping this cup with lots of air to distinguish the flavors better, I am getting lots of chocolate from this, something I have never found in a green before and didn’t notice with my sample. The liquor in the cup is smelling Ike chocolate, too. And no, I didn’t have a chocolate tea in this pot recently, nor even allow a tea like Florence near it!
The biggest surprise is that my hubby has downed at least two cups of each, and he was not, and I mean NOT, a green tea drinker. I thought maybe he was just suffering through it for the health benefits so I asked him how he liked it. His reply was, “It’s good!” Wow. It really is.
You know how you can breathe out slowly, just so, to fog up glass? Breathe like that and sweet plum flavor floats up. Yum. Drink a bit more and it just floats up by itself!
I made two steeps of this today, Western style. The first one I drank all by myself, the whole pot! This is one I wouldn’t have liked not so long ago. The aftertaste is what wins me on this one. It is so sweet! But up front it is a little sour, a little astringent.
I made the second steep when my daughter came over. I thought it tasted even better than the first. I couldn’t believe that thirty seconds was going to do it when brewing Western style, but believe me, it does! This green tea has a lot of color at 25 seconds! Even the second steep at 30 seconds is a deep yellow-gold. I am saving the leaves to see if they can handle a third steep in the morning.
This sample from Teavivre was so generous that I still have enough left to make another pot and get several resteeps out of that. I am really thankful for their generosity in sending these. I have tried so many things I would not have chosen on my own, and it has really expanded my tea horizons!
This is my first Chun Mei, at least as far as I know!
The aroma and look of the leaves was completely different from the green tea I drank yesterday. This was not as brightly green, and had a completely different aroma. No wet cooked turnip or mustard greens here!
I accidentally used too much leaf. The first sip was astringent and a little sour, my fault. I had already resteeped the leaves so I did what I had read in an article on serving tea in Britain through the years. I read that sometimes tea was made extra strong and the hot water pot was used for people to adjust the tea to their liking. I picked up the kettle and added water until I had the right amount for the amount of leaf I used. All better!
This is still a drying tea, as it is supposed to be. It is neither bitter nor sour. It makes me think of sunshine on dry hay. I made four steeps and combined them all into one pot after tasting a sip from both the first and second steep unmixed. There is plenty of flavor left. I shall enjoy having this as my morning green!
Thank you, Angel and Teavivre!
What a cute little tea nub! I was a bit apprehensive about the pu-erh, but it’s hard to be nervous about something so harmless looking. You see, I’ve never had pu-erh before, or so I thought. Yet, the flavor is very familiar to me. It tastes like a Chinese tea house. Perhaps I have had pu-erh unknowingly because it tastes like the tea I used to get in dim sum houses. When I was young, my grandparents used to delight in taking me and my sister for “yum cha,” on weekends. It’s the Chinese version of brunch. There’s tea and greasy foods that are horrible for you. (Egg tarts!) I never paid much attention to what sort of tea my elders ordered when we ate at those dim sum places. What a young fool I was. I used to dislike tea, but I think it’s just because tea is brewed so carelessly in dim sum restaurants. I always enjoyed it when jasmine or chrysanthemum was on the table though. Flowers are tasty. Usually, some unknown dark tea was served. That tea tastes like this tea. I guess it must have been pu-erh. So all this time, I’ve been nervous for nothing. I’ve been drinking pu-erh since I was little.
I hear it’s recommended to discard the first steep, but I decided to take a taste before dumping it. hmm…not bad. Seems a waste to toss it out. I do prefer the second steep though. It tastes like rich leafy earth. It also tastes like weekends with my grandparents and other family. It brings me to crowded noisy restaurants with grouchy ladies pushing hot carts of food around. And pink table cloths. There are so many memories in this flavor. It feels wrong to drink it alone in the privacy of my home. I feel like taking my grandparents out for dim sum. My, usually, mild and jovial grandpa will fight you like a tiger for the check.
If I don’t drink pu-erh ever again, it won’t be because I don’t like it, but because I don’t want my associations with the flavor of this tea to change.
Anyway, I think I’m too emotionally attached to this tea to rate it objectively or even think about it in terms of flavor too much. Over all though, I think it’s pretty good. :)