Recent Tasting Notes


This is the tea I chose this morning before going to the crêperie for brunch. It’s one of the many teas that boychik sent in our swap. I really loved the Keemun Mao Feng from TeaVivre, so I was excited to try this one as well. The leaves are small and thin and jet black in color. Dry scent is sweet and very bready. I steeped a level teaspoon for 3 minutes at 200 degrees.

Once infused, the tea smells like toast and honey! Yum. And the taste is very similar. It tastes just like a nice crisp toasted baguette with honey and perhaps a touch of butter smeared over the top. There are some raw grain notes here as well, perhaps oats, and just a touch of fruit preserves.

Entertainingly enough, I asked my boyfriend what he thought it tasted like and he said grass or toasted seaweed… Uh… what? :P

Flavors: Baked Bread, Dried Fruit, Honey, Oats, Toast

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

My hubby would say it tastes like tea! The only diff he says shou pu is like tree bark

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The first infusion tastes light and creamy with hints of vanilla and raisin, and the second is similar but with a subtle tanginess to accompany, a bit like ginseng. The predominant flavor is of dried fruit, particularly raisin or dried apple. The third infusion I may have overbrewed a bit; it had a lot of that tanginess. By the fourth, the flavor is more mild again with some hints of vanilla and raisin, much like the first but more full and round. As the infusions go on, they continue to be full and rich and slightly tangy… a little more earthy as you go with some notes of hops popping up late in the session. I was able to push more than 10 very flavorful infusions out of this tea. If you are adventurous enough to make it that far, the 10th steeping or so tastes like onion rings from Sonic Drive-In… slightly sweet, fried, and every so slightly oniony. I’m not joking. I love it. 12+ infusions it has taken on a chamomile fragrance. Very interesting progression with this tea.

Flavors: Dried Fruit, Raisins, Tangy, Vanilla

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

ok, let’s see if steepster will let me comment this time grumble grumble…anyway, I am definitely going to have to have a very long session with this tea to see what fun things I can taste in the later steeps.

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drank Golden Monkey Black Tea by Teavivre
274 tasting notes

The dry leaf is a mix of malt, molasses, smoke, sweet potato, and dried fruit. The leaf is a beautiful mix of twisty dark brown and golden tips. Looks like there might even be more gold than dark brown. And there’s golden dust inside the packet, usually a good sign.

1.5 teaspoons, 8oz water, boiling, 2,2,2,3 minute steeps. Sweetened with stevia.

The first two steeps I had while taking my quiz, and didn’t quite pay as much mind to the cup as I should have. I did notice that it was malty, sweet potato, raisin, and sort of caramel. I also noticed that the two cups were gone much too quick.

Third steep, so much caramel and honey. There’s also sweet potato or yam, malty and almost yeasty. Reminds me of sweet potato casserole during the holidays. I always saw it as dessert, but I think it’s supposed to be a side dish. Similarly this tea, when lightly sweetened, is almost dessert like. Perfect cuppa to keep me out of the ice cream in the freezer.

Forth steep is similar to the third, but overall a little darker and more muted. I’m getting some chocolate as this cools. Yum!

This is so good. I’m hoping Teavivre has some good Black Friday sales because if the rest of my samples are as good as this, I’m going to be needing to place a pretty big order!

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Another free sample from Teavivre! :O
And this one…
This one is what I’ve been wanting.
It’s strong. Floral-y. Almost perfume-y.
This is the kind of tea for me.
Ladies and gents, we have a winner here! :D :D :D

Flavors: Floral, Perfume

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Been saving this one back. I can’t remember if I added it in with an order or if this was one Angel sent for review, so I thought I better get to it. This stuff is amazing. When you read the flavors listed on the Steepster page for this tea, that is just what you get. The dry leaf is fruity. Steeped this is cucumber and melon, hay and grass. I have had Silver Needle from several vendors and to my tastes Teavivre is right at the top of the list. I can see if you drink mostly big bold black teas or highly flavored ones, this might be too subtle for you. As for me, I love complex quieter teas that invite you in. This does that beautifully.

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Teavivre contacted me to do another round of tastings and of course I agreed! They arrived yesterday and immediately I had to try this one.

Holy cow this tea has staying power! I dumped my whole sample package into one of my 24 ounce bubble teapot. First steep I let go for only two minutes and it was light and delicious strawberry flavor, but the oolong was present as well, which I always like. Next steep, four minutes. Still strawberry goodness, though there’s a bit more oolong. Then my wife steeped the leaves in a 12 ounce mug for 6 minutes and enjoyed her cup, even if she had let it steep a touch too long. THEN we dumped the leaves into a 25 ounce mason jar to coldsteep over night and that’s my treat for today. I love how much tea I got out of maybe two teaspoons worth of oolongs. By the time we put them in the mason jar, they had uncurled to completely fill the infuser to overflowing. I think one of my other samples will have to go in my glass teapot because the leaves are just too beautiful.


That’s impressive staying power for sure!

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drank Bailin Gongfu Black Tea by Teavivre
116 tasting notes

When the dry leaves sat in the warm gaiwan for a minute, the first thing I smelled was french toast with chocolate chips. There was a distinct egg-like scent with some sweeter pastry-like aromas.

Ah, here’s more like it. After that last incredibly strong black tea, this one is an oasis. The first infusion yields a soft, mellow and sweet tea with a dried-fruit kind of quality and almost no astringency. The aftertaste is a hint drying. The second infusion is pretty similar to the first. Theres a bit of a perfumy quality coming through as well now. The brew is overall soft and rather easy to drink, but yields to a dry mouthfeel. I’m really big on mouthfeel and this is not the clean finish I really enjoy.

The aroma of the third infusion is truly enjoyable, lightly floral and sweet, a tinge of vanilla and dried fruit. The flavor is likewise mellow and sweet but it is picking up in astringency and becoming more and more drying on the mouth as I go on.

Overall, I think the flavor of this tea is wonderful. I just wish it wasn’t so drying. I just reviewed another black tea from TeaVivre which was much more harsh in that regard, so this one is a step up, but I’m not sure why I’m getting so much dryness from these teas. I have a few red and blacks at home that finish very clean, so this is not at all what I am used to.

Flavors: Chocolate, Floral, Honey, Perfume, Raisins

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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drank Golden Monkey Black Tea by Teavivre
116 tasting notes

This is an intensely deep flavored black tea. After an initial Gongfu style infusion, the leaves smell of figs, nuts, and dark molasses. The first infusion was a bit hard on the palate, only steeped for about 15 seconds. It has a nice bitterness to it like a dark chocolate. Coming back for a second infusion it is less bitter and more well-rounded. There are hints of cinnamon, oak, and perfume in the aroma, while the taste is a bit hard to describe to me. Dark tobacco and fig flavors might be an appropriate way to describe it, if anything. It has it’s own flavor, like most teas, and is tricky to describe in other terms. The feeling it leaves in my mouth is very dry. I’m not diggin’ that.

By the third infusion, it’s a little more mellow overall, but there’s a definite astringency and bite in the finish. I’m tempted to call it here, as I’m not finding it suited to my tastes much at all, but Gongfu always pushes me to try another steeping.

The fourth infusion is even more dry (eeeek, this is like red alert dryness levels), the flavor has sort of flattened out and it tastes like … underbrewed coffee.

So, there you have it. This tea is not for me. Not feelin it. If you like your tea to give you (and your palate) quite a jolt, this may be right up your alley, but you might want to bring a bottle of Gatorade to rehydrate afterward. It’s so drying.

Judging by some of the other reviews, I half anticipate this could be the first moment for me on Steepster where a fanwagon crashes into the comments section of my review and passively-aggressively berates me for not sharing the euphoria of their experience, or tells me I brewed it wrong. I hope not.

I brewed 3 grams in 100ml of water for 15 seconds, adding 15 each time (this is more than a gram of tea less than Teavivre recommends for Gongfu style). This is how I typically brew red and black teas and usually it works out pretty well. The color of the liquor was a nice medium orange barely leaning toward red, so it didn’t look or seem overbrewed.

But like I said, some people LOVE these kinds of intense teas, so give it a chance if you’re interested. The flavor was not as complex as the aroma and was very dark. It didn’t really have any sweetness, which for me is an almost necessary component for a red or black tea to keep it from falling off the deep end into bitterness.

Flavors: Drying, Fig, Molasses, Tannin, Tobacco

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

Oh wow, I did not get any of the harshness or jolt that you describe, just smooth sweetness. But I do brew it much cooler, so that is probably why.


I brewed it at 203F. From most of my experience and sources I’ve seen, I’ve thought that was pretty safe for most red/black teas. It definitely works well for the few I have here at home. I wonder though if cooler is necessary for some of these.


I just saw that Teavivre recommends it at 196, so I did brew it hotter than they recommend. That might account for the explosion of tannins to some extent. It’s too bad I used up all my sample so I can’t really retry. :P

Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

I do 195 or cooler, the Teavivre website recommends 194 for this, and 185 for the Bailin Gongfu, both are exquisite at those temperatures. I tend to follow their brewing parameters for their teas because they have never steered me wrong.


Definitely all sources I have found point to the 196-212 range for red/black teas, so 185 is an odd recommendation to me. If I had known Teavivre had recommendations for each specific tea though I’d have tried it that way. I may start going with 196 or so for red/blacks I haven’t tried though to be on the safe side. Some can be unexpectedly delicate.


And by 196 I totally meant 194. Dang Fahrenheit conversions.

Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

I never go higher than 195 for my Chinese black teas, which could be the reason I have never not enjoyed one! I certainly suggest checking their brewing recommendations out for all their teas, it is one of the resources I used when I was first making the transition over to gongfu brewing and it has been very helpful.


This is why I am laboring over trying so many different methods to build this Gongfu infusion guide I’ve been working on for over a year. The internet is teeming with conflicting information about how to brew teas in the Gongfu style, but I’ve found that once you hit the magic numbers for a specific type of tea, almost no tea turns out badly. I must find them all and compile them, for the love of tea! D:

Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

Hehe, I found mine already :P


Several others who reviewed this tea on Steepster reported using even higher temperatures than I did and loved it, so it’s all personal tastes at the end of the day. For some teas, I’ve found there is a fine line between too hot, leading to thin or astringent tea, and too cool, leading to a sort of “flat” and undeveloped taste.

Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

For instance, Ben really enjoys this tea at a hotter temp, he likes his black teas to have a bite.


I’m trying some of my red teas here at home at slightly lower temps around 194 and finding it is much more my tastes.

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So, out of all the free samples I received from Teavivre I’ve been drinking the
Nonpareil Anxi Qing Xiang TieGuanYin Oolong the most. I have both these teas in zip lock bags, and the Anxi Qing is the one I happen to grab the most. xD
As I go back to this one I don’t like it as much. Yes, it’s still floral-y, and buttery. But it’s definitely not as strong as the other.
Didn’t think I’d end up liking that one better…but the tea world never ceases to surprise me.xD
So this one won’t be bought again probably. But still a lovely tea!


Man, someone was on a tea drinking spree! :D


Haha I was! Was an awful weekend so I wanted to try a bunch of stuff to entertain me!

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Thank you, Teavivre for sending me so many free samples! So excited about them!
This is the first one I’ll review. But to be honest, I feel like it’s not so much of an honest review. xD I steeped it for a little more than the time it says on Steepster, but even after that I just think that this one deserves to be steeped “grandpa style”. This would be GREAT to drink with the leaves constantly at the bottom of my mug.
I always seem to want floral-y oolongs to be stronger. Which is probably because I used to always steep everything (mainly oolongs though) grandpa style, before I even knew what that was or that there even were steeping times for things. xD
After I steeped it for the right time it tasted mainly buttery and light. So I decided to put the leaves in longer. After a few minutes I could taste the floral more. And since I really like the floral taste, it would be better “grandpa style” since that flavor emerges when it’s steeped longer..
So yeah. xD Sorry for the rant.
I like this tea. But I wanna try it “grandpa style” because I know I’ll like it even more like that! Pretty good though. Happy to have tried it! :D
Thank you again, Teavivre for the samples!! :D

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Thank you, Teavivre, for providing me a free sample!

Brewed grandpa-style in a glass tumbler.

Lovely leaves, before and after being steeped. White downy hairs, then very green as they float vertically. The dry leaf aroma is oatmeal-like. Then there are cucumbers and honeydew slices. A pale green aroma – first time I imagine a color in my mind as I smell a tea. As the leaves steep, the water magnifies the honeydew aroma, nearly tricking my senses into thinking that the fruit is in front of me instead of tea. The liquor is light-bodied, thick, and clear (surprisingly because of the fuzzies). Again, honeydew, and also dried grass. Juice-like. Because of an airy quality, this tea has a calming, floating effect.

No rating because of my inexperience with white tea. But I like and would recommend this one.

170 °F / 76 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Sample 4 outof 5 from Teavivre. Thanks! I am spending the day at home catching up on life. Between my two jobs, I have had only a few days off this month and I am rarely home to enjoy them. Evenings are equally busy with visiting family and so on. Today is the last official day of summer and after a massive torrential rain overnight I am enjoying some sun and warm temperatures. It’s just after noon and I’ve already made two loaves of bread and a batch of english muffins which will be gratefully enjoyed throughout the week when I have no time to make dough.

So, here I sit with a cup of this. I was pleasantly surprised to see massive chunks of tangerine peel in with the puerh. I used half the sample in my perfect tea mug for a few minutes with water that (apparently) cooled to 96 before pouring. The result is a deep brown like a stout or dark ale. The aroma is musty and barnlike, but not in the usual pleasant way. It’s overpowering. Shoot. I haven’t made puerh Western style in a while…shoulda done some sort of a rinse first. I’m going try drinking this but if it’s too strong, I can always pour it out and try again with a re-steep. D’oh.

Huh. This has a totally different taste profile than the aroma suggests. I get smoke. No barn or hay. Maybe something musty if that ties into the smoke. It’s strong with a sense of bitterness like a coffee edge but not unpleasant. This is a very potent mug. VERY strong. I am tempted to add a bit of milk to dilute it because I’m not super interesting in drinking it as is. Which sucks, because this is my fault and this is my first tea of the day. I will not rate this currently because I need to try again under better circumstances.

All I can say for sure right now is that it is very bold and strong with a smoky edge. No sweetness. Whew.

Flavors: Musty, Smoke, Wood

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LOVE! I love a good Tai Ping Hou Kui and this is an excellent one. As it had been a while since my last cup of Tai Ping, I had to think a bit on how I was going to steep the tea. I would normally steep a green tea in my Breville One-Touch but I do like to watch the dance of the Tai Ping leaves so I instead decided to brew this in my glass teacup.

A sweet and gentle aroma accompanies a flavor that is sublime. Sweet, hints of orchid, light grassy tones and a touch of butter. Creamy and sweet and delightful.

Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/06/28/premium-tai-ping-hou-kui-green-tea-from-teavivre/

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Delicious tea! Got this as a five sample package I purchased from Teavivre. It has subtle flavors and I read one of the other reviews and it really does have a spinach taste to it. But it’s really light and very calming and yummy. No bitterness to it at all; just slides down the throat really easily.

Flavors: Mineral, Spinach

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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I was sure I already made a review of this tea but cannot put the hand on…weird.
Steepster makes now things so difficult to add notes, research notes thanks to the tea ratings – we cannot sort them out anymore by brand or rating…I’m begining to really lose patience with the Steepster bugs.
So I had this tea with my breakfast this morning and I appreciated the huge malty & cocoa notes. I brewed it western style. This is typically the right tea to wake you up.
I noticed a thin bitterness at the end of the sip which is not my alley but it may be caused by the fact I didn’t prepare the tea as recommended in a gong fu session.

Thanks to Angel for this sample

Pics of the tea are available here : http://thevangeliste.wordpress.com/2014/09/21/bailin-gongfu-black-tea-teavivre/

Flavors: Cocoa, Malt

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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I think I ordered this as a sample in an order long ago and have since forgotten I had it. I decided to brew it gong fu style. Verdict: amazing buttery, creamy, vegetables!!! There is also a bit of a floral note, but it’s not too overpowering. Yum! I think I might just gong fu all my oolongs from now on. I love it!!

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I’ve been too busy lately to take time for much tea beyond mass-market teabags, but I had a couple of hours free today, so I thought I’d spend the afternoon with this one.

The dry leaves, when I first opened the pack, gave a little dry-forest-floor burst of scent, and after rinsing, the wet leaves smell very strongly of damp trees and wood, and old, smoky leather.

The first steep of this after rinsing a couple of times tasted a bit flat, and a clay-taste overwhelmed the other tones, but from the second steep darker, leather and loam comes through and turns it into a whole other kind of drink, with an aftertaste like sweet butter. From the fourth steep, the taste becomes very strong, and there’s a thickness to the aftertaste – almost like the thickness after eating chocolate; there’s no cocoa taste, exactly, it’s more of a satisfying feeling of ‘fullness’. The later steeps became very light and sweet.

I got a nice, sleepy little buzz from drinking this all afternoon – I’ve had that once or twice from drinking puerhs, but only very occasionally; all in all, it’s a nice and long-lasting tea (through about 8-10 short 20s-1m steeps) for a lazy afternoon.

Flavors: Butter, Forest Floor, Leather, Loam, Sweet, Wet Wood

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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This is the same tea AND the same tea sachet, but it deserves another review. These are a new offering from Teavivre, and I want to give it a thorough look.

I saved the sachet after my daughter and I made two or three steeps. I wish I remembered how many! I realize these are sized for a ten ounce mug or pot, but I was using my eight ounce pot so keep that in mind as well.

After the steeps we drank, I made a steep last night for hubby. He liked it, and said the rice flavor is very noticeable. Again this morning, I steeped the sachet and made another eight ounces. The result is much paler, but the rice flavor is still noticeable and the puerh flavor is there. It is fading at this point, though.

So my final verdict is….if I didn’t work at home as I do, and I wanted a GOOD puerh tea that was also very convenient and very economical due to the resteep factor, this is a fantastic choice, and is far and away better than any puerh bags I have had in the past. In fact, there is no comparison between the two. That would be like comparing Twinings tea to a competition grade Ti Guan Yin.

Kudos to Teavivre for getting it right!

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I chose this tea purely out of curiosity. I had heard of rice flavored teas but never tried one.

Edited to add: It is important to note that these are sized for ten ounce portions, which is really handy if you are making a mug at work. They were aware that if you are using sachets you are probably not using a gaiwan or a tiny pot for tiny cups! And you get multiple steeps, plus such a long steep time that it becomes even more convenient for work or really busy times.

I expected a hint of rice flavor mixed with shu puerh, but even the dry sachet smelled strongly of rice – the steeped tea even more so! And there is lots of the glutinous rice flavor in the cup. This tea is the essence of what you smell when your rice boils over a little and the sticky rice water slides down the side of your saucepan and you can smell it all through the house. I am amazed at how much rice flavor is in this. I really want a bowl of rice now!

The puerh aspect is an earthy one rather than a horse-y one. The first steep was quite dark, which isn’t surprising since they recommend a 9 to 12 minute steep for this. By the third steep we didn’t even time it, we just poured it up after finishing one of our school lessons and it was fine. Even my youngest daughter, who just started drinking puerh teas a couple of weeks ago, liked it!


oh I’ve been curious about the puerh tea bags! Good to know!


They are also sized for ten ounces water, which is nice because if you are using a sachet, you are probably drinking a mug of this rather than a small cup. Very convenient at work, and you get multiple steeps that retain their flavor. Now I want to try the rose one and the plain!


That does sound perfect :)


Glad someone reviewed the sachets. I expected Teavivre to do them right – glad to see it confirmed.


I really want some of these rice ones! Please send me some free to review Teavivre!!! ;)


I couldn’t find them on their site after they announced them. Super interesting!


I found them under the main heading “Pyramids.” You could probably leave this bag right in your mug and keep drinking it all morning without even removing the bag.

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I love jasmine tea and so it’s my goal to try all different types of jasmine tea! I gave this particular one a try and I would have to say it tastes pretty good. Maybe a little bit more bitter than the pearls I’ve tried, but it’s still really delicious with good jasmine accent.

Flavors: Jasmine

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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The time for me to pack my bags and travel off to Pennsylvania for a couple months is fast approaching, and I need to make sure all my projects are finished before I leave in about a month. My biggest concerns are making sure I have Ben’s army painted and my tea collection re-organized. I have a whole new system in mind and I need to select which teas I am taking with me to Pennsylvania, three months worth of tea (especially at the rate I drink it) is a sizable amount.

Today marks another step in my Raw/Sheng Pu Erh adventure. Teavivre’s Lotus Leaf Raw Pu-erh Mini Tuocha an adorable little tuo (or nest) of Sheng Pu Erh with a nice addition of lotus leaves, from Lincang, Yunnan. The aroma of this little tuo is not very strong, with faint notes of wet hay, sweet freshly mown hay, a bit of yeasty bread, a touch of mineral, and salty lotus leaf. Specifically the lotus notes remind me of the lotus wrapped sticky rice (or lo mai gai) that I love so much when going out for dim sum. Delicious!

After giving the nest a rinsing and steeping, the aroma has a distinctly fermented aroma, with notes of wet hay, lotus leaves, salty cooked spinach, and a touch of straw mushrooms. The more I sniff the wet leaves the more it reminds me of food, clearly I am hungry! The liquid having been freed from the gaiwan and its leafy friends, has a very nice aroma. There are notes of sweet hay, a touch of yeasty bread, and finish of salty lotus leaf.

The first steep is nice and mild, it has a thick mouthfeel with a slightly salty almost broth like taste. This transitions to fresh hay and spinach with a slight sourness. The finish is like a distant breeze bringing in a field of flowers.

The second steep has the aroma of wet straw, straw mushrooms and a pile of leaves after a rain. There is also a bit of sweetness and lotus leaf at the finish. The taste starts off with an intense hui gan, it begins with sourness and cooling and then switches to sweetness. After this initial bit of a mouth party the taste is a mix of sauteed mushrooms and and lotus leaf with a finish of pepper.

For the third steep I am greeted with the aroma sweet honey and wet hay and a hint of salty lotus leaves. The taste starts out the same as the previous steep, my mouth is cooled and given a kick of bitter and sourness before being turned sweet. It is a very interesting sensation and I am still not quite sure if I like it or not! There is a slight taste of hops, it took me a moment to realize what it was since I do not drink beer and it has been years since I even tasted any. Not a big fan of the hops, but it fades pretty quickly to sweet hay and a touch of spinach. This tea was pretty interesting, I certainly think the added lotus gives the tea an added layer of depth.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/09/teavivre-lotus-leaf-raw-pu-erh-mini.html

Flavors: Hay, Hops, Mushrooms, Sweet, warm grass

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