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Recent Tasting Notes
Happy pi day! I don’t have any pie-flavored teas right now, so I’m going for a pu instead. This one comes to me courtesy of Angel at TeaVivre. Thank you!
I’ve only had a handful of pu-erhs before. I didn’t like them much (too much dirt/leather/fishiness), so I’m entering this tasting with a bit of trepidation.
I am using one of my favorite pieces of teaware today: a gaiwan-teapot hybrid that I picked up in Taiwan for a comically low price. It is the size and shape of a gaiwan, but it also has a spout and handle. Aesthetically pleasing + easy to use = win. I used the whole sample packet, which filled a little less than half of the gaiwanpot. Per packet and website instructions, I used boiling water throughout.
The dry leaf smells ok. Earthy and slightly oaky. After a 5 second rinse, I steeped the leaf for 20 seconds. The brew is a light golden color. It has that earthy pu-erh scent with a hint of floral. The wet leaves smell awful – boggy, almost rotten. The flavor of the brew is savory, darkly bitter, and muddy. Not a very promising start.
The second steep was 30 seconds long. The golden color of the brew is more vibrant this time. The smell is earthy and vaguely floral again, but also peaty. The flavor is bitter bitter bitter and somewhere under there is still some muddiness.
I would normally add 10 seconds for the next steep, but the second steep was so bitter that I don’t want to risk overdoing it. So the third steep was 30 seconds long. The brew looks and smells lovely, but the sharp bitterness is still here.
I did the fourth steep at 30 seconds again. This one came out slightly less bitter, with a tree-ish undercurrent.
I can’t do this anymore. No more steeps. This tea is clearly not for me. I won’t rate it because I have no idea whether this is objectively bad for a pu or just bad to me because I don’t generally enjoy pu-erh. I suppose it’s possible that I overleafed. I don’t think so though. After four steeps, the leaf only fills about ⅔ of the gaiwanpot. I’ve successfully brewed oolongs and blacks that nearly overflow the pot after enough steeps. Alas, the search for a pleasing pu marches on.
Thanks to Angel at TeaVivre for the sample! I used approx. 4 grams for 2 oz of water in my little glass gong fu teapot. After a 4 second rinse, I got a solid 9 steeps out of this leaf.
1st steep, 5s – This is a vibrant orange brew. It’s sweeter than I expected; there’s definitely a strong honey note. It’s also bready with a moderately thick mouthfeel. The wet leaf is shades of medium brown and dark green, long and thin, reminding me of vanilla pods in appearance but smaller.
2nd steep, 5 s- The brew is a darker orange, with a richer flavor than the first steep. It smells like dark bread. The flavor is more mushroomy, slightly reminisicent of Butiki’s Taiwanese Wild Mountain Black.
3rd steep, 8 s – This steep has the same dark orange color and robust flavor as the second.
4th steep, 5 s – The color is the same, but this steep is brisker and less savory than the previous steeps.
5th steep, 10 s – The savoriness is back! Definitely mushroomy.
6th steep , 15 s – The brew is ever so slightly paler. The mushroominess is still present but has mellowed out.
7th steep, 20 s – This steep is mellower than the last and more bready than mushroomy.
8th steep, 30 s – This steep is lighter in both color and flavor. This leaf is nearing its steepable end.
I neglected the 9th steep and allowed it to cool. This is actually fantastic cold. Very refreshing! I’ll have to try it cold brewed at some point.
Thanks to Angel at Teavivre for the sample!
The leaves are so pretty! I love the many shades of brown, from so light it’s almost yellow to a nice chocolate hue. The actual brew has an interesting warmth to it. It took me a while to place the flavor, but it’s fresh-baked Russian black bread and manuka honey. I got about 6 solid steeps out of this in my little gong fu teapot. The flavor didn’t vary notably over the course of steeping, but I’d like to try it with my aroma cup and see if that makes a difference. Lucky for me, Teavivre samples are generous so I’ll be able to play around with this tea a bit more!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Honey
Another delicious haute black from China. It’s somewhat hard to believe how the flood of mediocrity coming out of that land permanently tarnished our expectations regarding all things Chinese. Fortunately, worthy companies such as Teavivre are working hard to dispel the negative stereotypes…
I have not always been thrilled with Dian Hong teas, but the key words here appear to be ancient wild tree. Very tasty indeed—both the first and the second infusion. This is the sort of fine black tea which makes one wonder why in the world anyone would ever have thought to add flavors or cream…
This sample came from Teavivre a while back. I appreciate getting a free sample, so thank you.
This is a very nice green oolong that comes through with floral and buttery notes. I am also finding the strawberry flavor to be a bit weak. It really needs to be steeped Western style to get any strawberry flavor at all. Hardly any strawberry flavor is present in the 2nd steep for me. If you want a really strong flavored strawberry tea this is not the thing. I was expecting something slightly different from this. It’s ok but I prefer the fruit flavored oolong from Naivetea and Lupicia.
What a lovely tea!
When I taste, the vegetal element is in the forefront, with the sweetness following. Hints of rock sugar and snap peas are present, along with a mineral quality I really enjoy. While waiting for my next infusion to finish steeping, the aftertaste is light and sweet.
This is a very interesting and quite delicious tea, smooth and perfect for a mid morning tea break. :D
The leaves unfurl further with each infusion, turning my gaiwan into an art piece for this tea session…. So pretty!
Thanks Miss-Phi for the sample!
Miss Phi, you have the smallest handwriting that I have ever seen! Somehow you managed to fit the whole name of this tea and the company it came from. I would kill for your fine motor skills, my dear!
Ah, yes. This is my kind of black tea. tippy, more golden fuzzies than not, the leaves are long and skinny and twisty and fun. After the leaves were spent, they were like little leaf noodles in my gaiwan.
The liquor was richly red and brown. The nice and thick malty quality is quite nice. I get some starchy sweet potatoes as well as some light dusting of cocoa powder. It is like some wonderful and delicious monster of sweet potato bread baked with chocolate-covered cherries in the center. So… Yum? Yes. Yum.
Flavors: Cherry, Coconut, Malt, Overripe Cherries, Sweet Potatoes
I ordered this tea from Teavivre, since I didn’t have a single white tea in my cupboard, but was really craving it. My tea arrived on Saturday and was such a happy surprise.
After a day of feeling like I was fighting off a cold on Sunday (I have not been sick in over 2 years, so I have no right to complain, and I think I’ve beaten it off, because I feel almost 100% again this Monday morning) and drinking apple cider vinegar all day, I thought this would taste really nice last night. So, I did this up in my porcelain gaiwan (about 3 grams of tea), using 90C water. I rinsed for 5 seconds, then steeped for 45 seconds (70, 90 second steeps after…). The tea leaves are really beautiful, with their white hairs and delicate structure.
This tea is so lovely! Very light floral, with honey notes and that mouth feel I so desire in whites.
Since it was getting late, I stopped at 3 steeps last night, but have continued on this morning.
This cup in front of me has a honey golden liquor, with sweet floral notes on the tongue, and hints of grass and honey. This cup is like liquid sunshine… I love it.
This is definitely a white tea I’d like to have on hand at all times. :D
First steep smells like french toast, tastes softly floral and vegetal, a little buttery. The second steep had more pronounced and recognizable but still soft gardenia fragrance, just lovely, and the flavor had more personality, floral/vegetal with a bare whisper of vanilla. Third steep was unremarkable, too subtle for me. But there, I remarked it.
This tea is calming both physically and psychologically… like a very gentle cuddle. Understated elegance. It would be a great one to serve to someone who would prefer subtlety to a frank, full-disclosure tea… it retains an air of mystery.
I’ve been waiting a while to get this out and try it. Also, thank you to Angel and the Teavivre team! For some reason I have a hard time with raw pu-erhs. The flavor is always off to me but this one is delicious! It has a juicy raisin flavor with hints of cinnamon and pine. The second steep turns a little more savory/sweet with light smoke notes. There is a soft bitterness that reminds me of a slightly over-steeped green.
I’m going to do more steeps but have to go away from my computer for a minute. I’ll edit it later with the other steeps :)
Flavors: Bitter, Cinnamon, Pepper, Pine, Raisins, Smoke
What a lovely strawberry oolong! Thanks Sil for sharing, this one has been on my bucket list for awhile.
The oolong is very light and refreshing, pairing excellently with the fresh strawberry. Not really tart, but not too sweet either. One day, methinks this will be in my cupboard! I didn’t get to taste it hot so I’ll have to save the more extensive note for next time
Thank you, KittyLovesTea, for a sample of this!
I think I may have slightly oversteeped this one while I was getting my smoothie ready :(. It’s still quite awesome though: a light green tea taste along with jasmine. Yum. I love watching the little pearls unravelling as they steep :)
I wonder if I should get a filter for my water – I always use tap water when making tea and I’m getting a bit of a mineral taste to this tea which I don’t think is the tea’s fault. It might be something to look into…
Leaves: medium green
Aroma: Sweet, Vegetable
Color: Pale almost clear
Taste: A cup of tea before bed paired after eating a ruby red grapefruit . Dragon well was one of the first teas i had in my early tea blogging start. I’m excited to be reviewing a different variation of this tea. A wonderful cup nice & light! Great if you don’t want anything heavy at night.
Leaves: Tiny rolled leaves
Aroma: Sweet Vegetable
Color: Deep golden yellow
Taste: The aroma of this tea was great! I haven’t had loose green tea in quite some time, I need to practice at getting the water temperature correct. This time I decided to go with 5 steeps to see how this tea would last. As for steeping I’ll update this as I go. 1m I didn’t get much of a aroma from the cup of tea it self as i did the leaved. The taste was light with a hint of bitterness that later subsided, i think this was due to the water being too hot. 2m I let my water cool this time for a minute longer than the first, It was the same shade of golden yellow but lacking in any flavor the, 3rd steep revealed the same flavor profile. I stopped here short of my original 5 steeps planned b/c i felt it wouldn’t make a difference. Overall i found this tea to be quite plain.
I’ve always been primarily a flavored-tea girl, but the more quality straight black teas I try, the more I find myself craving them. This one is divine! The dry leaf is gorgeous: super thin, twisty leaves in variegated black and gold. The scent is rich and malty. Brewed, it’s a gorgeous reddish brown with a silky smooth mouth feel and so much flavor! I’m definitely tasting sweet potato and honey, but there’s also a bit of a caramel note to the aftertaste. And – just to make a good thing even better – this is one of those teas you can keep re-steeping all day long and still get amazing flavor in each cup. This one is right up there with Whispering Pines’ Golden Snail as the best black tea I’ve ever tasted!
Flavors: Caramel, Honey, Malt, Sweet Potatoes
far too long since i’ve been on here to review a tea!
how good is this tea? how’s this for a measure… last weekend the phone rang interrupting my homework. it was my financial institution. i was impatient. i had dropped a class taught by a difficult instructor late in the game and was playing catch up. i was not in the mood for service calls!
‘sir, i just wanted to check…. did you try to use your credit card at abercrombie and fitch online for 427$?’
‘no… WHAT? NO!!!!’
‘future shop online, sir? um… banana republic?’
‘no, i have a future shop just down the road, and definitely not banana republic!’
she continued, the sum total coming to just shy of 2000$. the conversation, beginning with my impatience ended with sincere gratitude! it was a long conversation- nearly 30 minutes. by the end all i wanted was a cup of tea! this was the blend i chose. it was perfect. depth, complexity, muted fruit tones, tempered malt… perfect.
you could argue i was tasting anxiety and then relief, however everytime i’ve had it since it’s been better. my only criticism? that steepster won’t let me rate it higher… c’mon jason, get on that! =0D
I used about half my 10g sample in my “120” ml easy gaiwan. And I’m pouring it directly into two cups, so one cup is steeped longer than the other. Haha. I’m feeling super lazy tonight. I had two cups out, so two cups it is.
I’m guessing that the taste means it was wet stored. It tastes damp. Like wet forest, but not super fresh with pine and clean air. It’s not resinous either. It’s actually pretty smooth yet quite mild. Not that the flavour isn’t strong, just that it’s well blended together so there’s nothing bringing itself strongly to my attention. So far I’m enjoying it, but I’m not sure that this is a flavour profile I adore. Perhaps I’m learning to like a little more bite in my puerh.
And now I have a cat forcefully cuddling me so I can’t reach the kettle.
This tastes like chicken soup! Soup made with roasted chicken and tender greens – a little smoky, a little umami, a little vegetal. I was a little put off when I dumped out the rest of my sample packet and realized how smoky it smelled, but the smoke is a pleasant accent rather than the main focus. As it cools I get more of a green bean flavor. Not sure if it’s the sort of tea I’d drink every day, but it’s darn tasty!
Additional notes: 2014 harvest. 2.5 g dry leaf, ~8 oz water, steeped until it started smelling nice.
Flavors: Chicken Soup, Green Beans, Roasted Chicken, Smoke, Umami, Vegetal
I enjoy this a lot. I have tried it western style, and it was very intense that way. It was equal parts creamy and floral for the first western steep – next time I will do shorter infusions, it was almost too intense. It was creamier and sweeter and fruitier for the following two. I am enjoying it gongfu style today, practicing with my new gaiwan, and it is a lot more nuanced this way. Which isn’t surprising. It hopped between creamy and floral the first several steeps, and moved to primarily fruity/floral for the latter. I steeped it countless times and it retained flavor well. I could see this being an everyday staple, as it is pretty inexpensive for the quality.