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Recent Tasting Notes
I can’t believe I waited this long to try this tea. I’ve had this sample for some time, and I think I was just trying to drink up other opened packages first. I should have tried this earlier though, because it’s just the sort of oolong I like. This roasted tieguanyin has a great nutty, smooth and slightly floral flavor. As the cup cools it gets slightly sweeter. Very nice! Thanks again, Angel and Teavivre!
Note: Brew this at 190˚F. This is my go-to pre-bedtime drink especially after a heaty dinner or desserts.
The flowers are ultra-perfumed, almost to the point of stinging. It tasted bitter when brewed at 195˚. They definitely need the half-teaspoon of sugar to counter the intense florality*.
*not a word, but it should be!
Dry leaves: sudden bright scent of passionfruit / mango.
1st infusion: (25s)
Leaves smell like a complex mixture including bitter chocolate and seaweed. Tea has that roasty, mineral flavour I associate with Fujian oolongs. Drinking this with toasted leftover dimsum now and it pairs alright with the oily sweetness, imparting chocolatey tones.
2nd infusion: (30s)
Liquor is still a beautiful reddish bronze. Flavour is mellowing out from the initial infusion’s harshness. This is growing on me.
3rd – 5th infusions:
More of the same goodness, the colour shows no sign of letting up while the flavour gradually lightens.
6th infusion: (120s)
The leaves are left with a fruity aroma like grape or plum. The liquor has finally turned a coppery amber colour, and tastes a very pleasing, mild flavour with the bitterness all gone––mineral and roasty with fruit aftertaste. Really like this infusion.
Flavors: Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Mineral, Roasted, Seaweed, Stonefruits
Next time: Try skipping the rinse and brew at 170 – 173˚F instead since their Nonpareil Silver Needle did so well at a lower temperature.
I am loving pretty much every tea from Teavivre so far. This Silver Needle is so fragrant in a similar way to the White Peony, but less sweet (I specifically wanted a less sweet tea this afternoon). Really happy I could brew this in my new glass gaiwan (which only takes well to lower temperatures like this 176˚F). Did a 2-second rinse.
1st infusion (45s):
The leaves are bursting with perfume reminiscent of a field or garden in summer––floral and dry grass. The liquor tastes floral, but with a refreshing twist like cucumber, and also a hint of soy milk with vegetable broth.
2nd infusion (60s):
Still that nice summer field aroma, but more subdued than before. Starting to taste a bit of that sweet “melon” other reviewers have mentioned, but also starting to get slightly dry and astringent. Still yummy though.
3rd infusion (90s):
Less fragrance now, but the tea is still full-bodied with nice round mouthfeel. Less astringent because I poured the liquor out of the gaiwan promptly (I might have oversteeped on the 2nd infusion).
4th infusion (105s):
I’m impressed that the leaves are still going, this infusion has mostly the dry floral and pine flavour. I could probably get one more steep out of this, but I’m not going to push the leaves any more because I want to move on to a different tea.
Flavors: Cucumber, Floral, Hay, Soybean, Vegetable Broth
This review is based on the 2015 harvest. Had a gongfu session with a glass pot. Gave the leaf a quick rinse. Steeping times: 30 seconds, 60, 90; 2 minutes, 5.
The fuzzy dry leaf has various hues of green, which become more vibrant after steeping. I particularly liked the rinse coloration:
Most of the leaves are whole. They consist mostly of individual leaves, and a few a leaf and a bud and two leaf.
The dry leaf aroma has notes of gentle seaweed and corn. Once hit washed with water, the aroma becomes stronger, smelling of buttery zucchini and a general sweet, fresh green vegetable hodge-podge.
The liquor is tinted with a very pale green. The body is full. Heavy with flavor, but not heavy itself – light in the mouth. Smooth and creamy texture. The first infusion tastes vegetal and a little sweet with sugar snap peas. Thereafter, the flavor becomes so sweet that it is reminiscent of a Taiwanese rolled high mountain oolong. Very candy-like. It also has a slight cooling effect in the back of the throat. This combination reminds me of the Japanese milk-mint candy. The liquor, though, retains its vegetal essence.
Nothing was short of enjoyable, even though it’s been a year since the leaf was harvested.
Brewed this Western-style––first 13oz boiling water for 5 mins, then 13oz water for 6:30 for a much lighter infusion. The tea tasted beautiful and not astringent at all. Rating this higher for Western-style than gongfu style because it seems to give out all its flavour in the first two steepings.
I’m still sad that the tea doesn’t handle gongfu brewing well.
Flavors: Butter, Spinach
This is a review of the 2015 harvest from Teavivre. Not a bad Tie Guan Yin, but I don’t think this is better than their normal Tie Guan Yin so I don’t understand the “Nonpareil” qualification. This one has a more complex aroma, like buttered spinach compared to the straight-up buttered toast of the Tie Guan Yin. However, this oolong only lasted 2.5 steepings for me (the 3rd steeping was pretty watery, a thrown white flag). That’s pretty weak for a premium oolong.
Will try the other sachet before I put money behind this rating, but for now I’d wager that the 2014 harvest of this tea was way better than the 2015.
Flavors: Butter, Spinach
Part 1 of 4 in my Teavivre Dian Hong series.
Gongfu session with a ceramic gaiwan. Went by Teavivre’s steeping times. 3 second rinse. 10 seconds, 10, 10, 10, 15, 15, 24, 45, 60, 75, 90; 2 minutes, 4, 8.
Evolving aroma. The dry leaf smells malty and chocolately. After letting it rest in the heated gaiwan bowl, I get more chocolate and a slightly plant-like note, too. Rinse and following, the wet leaf aroma progresses from malt to earth to chocolate. (Moreover, it might be my slightly stuffed nose (I really tried un-stuffing it), I smell a hint of Windex underneath everything. This also might have to do with packaging (I bought this sample in November 2015 and it’s now March 2015, nearly a year later after this tea was processed). Not deterring, but puzzling. It disappeared in the middle of the session.)
Beautiful deep golden liquor. Clear and clean. Brisk in taste and even the lingering aftertaste. Full-bodied. A bitter malt dominates the first couple infusions and disappears after the third infusion. The profile is now much sweeter. I taste – in order of strength – orange zest, freshly cut wood, and plums and dates. Not much to say texture. The third infusion is creamy, but it simply feels clear most of the time.
This a lower grade Dian Hong. The leaves are mostly broken; the few whole leaves are short. Not exciting, but the quality is good.
I drink this both Western and grandpa-style.
This chrysanthemum is lovely all-around. The flowers come to life when steeped. Vibrant creamy yellow. The infusion has a gentle feel in the mouth and is very mild in floral strength. Clean and bright. I drink this in the evening.
Update: Realised I hadn’t de-scaled my kettle after about a month of use, wondering if this might have contributed to the mineral / metallic taste. Keep having #waterissues with this tea unfortunately. Would love to try another sample in future.
1st infusion: (25s)
Light, floral, buttery, beautiful. Although, I have to note that something roastier and less sweet would have paired better with my sweet waffle breakfast. Not the tea’s fault of course!
2nd infusion: (35s)
Actually tastes really light, not as flavourful as the last time. There’s also a thin metallic note that I don’t like very much (the 铁 in 铁观音?).
3rd infusion: (45s)
Fuller than the 2nd infusion actually. Lingering but thin buttery and floral notes.
4th infusion: (65s)
Steeped for longer than recommended to get more flavour. Of course, then it ended up tasting slightly astringent. Don’t think I can do a 5th steeping.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Metallic, Vegetal
I suppose I can’t really rate this tea impartially because I didn’t heat the gaiwan and I used tap water for the first 2 infusions (apparently that works better for my partner when he brews tea) but the hard minerality of the water just ruined the tea for me.
Still, I could tell that it was a very buttery, divine-smelling oolong. The leaves were large and high-quality. It wasn’t quite as buttery as Teavivre’s 2015 regular Tie Guan Yin, but had more interesting complex notes besides the butter, and it was not bitter at all.
Will rate when I brew the second sachet properly (with filtered water).
Dry leaf smelled fresh and vegetal, not buttery though it tastes so.
1st infusion: (15s)
Hot leaves suddenly exploded with a buttery scent, in addition to vegetal, floral, and savoury vegetable broth notes. Tastes like a fresh clear spring with its own natural sweetness and slight buttercream flavour. Perhaps not as buttery as the Jin Xuan oolong, but still fantastic in its own right.
2nd infusion: (25s)
Silky buttery scent and texture. Excellent.
3rd infusion: (35s)
I was struck by the almost highlighter-yellow colour of this infusion. The buttery scent remains, but flavour is less prominent. Drinking so many of these in quick succession, the astringency is building up on my tongue but I can’t tell which infusion contributed more.
Amazingly, this still smells buttery. A mellow infusion with less astringency.
Colour has paled a lot. Very slight vegetal scent.
Flavors: Butter, Vegetable Broth
My god, is this really Tie Guan Yin? I just brewed the 2015 Teavivre Tie Guan Yin and if you had asked me in a blind tasting, I would have sworn this was a Jin Xuan Oolong. The leaves are green, not darker roasted like traditional Tieguanyins I’ve tasted, and it smells super buttery and fresh like popcorn. (Update: I now realise after a bit more tea experience that this is what non-roasted Tieguanyins usually taste like.)
It’s also strange that this green oolong is brewed at 212˚F.
1st infusion: Beautiful, buttery, fragrant, clear.
2nd infusion: Still smells and tastes buttery, but subtle and a tad bitter.
3rd and 4th infusions: As the Chinese saying goes, 三道四道是精华。No bitterness this time, just a subtle floral butteriness.
Flavors: Butter, Popcorn
Comparing this directly after 5 steepings of Teavivre’s 2015 Organic White Peony. The Premium White Peony 2015’s leaves are unmistakably greener and fresher-looking, than the OWP, but that gives it a fresher, greener, rawer scent which not everyone will prefer.
1st infusion: (25s)
Milder than the Organic White Peony’s 1st, but I might have brewed this for 3 seconds shorter than the OWP. Still very floral and fragrant.
2nd infusion: (45s)
Richer amber liquor, deeper mineral and floral taste. Delicate and substantial at the same time. A wonderful infusion.
3rd infusion: (70s)
The leaves are just now letting out their full plummy fruitiness. Liquor is still going strong, still full-flavoured and slightly sweet. This is probably where the Premium beats the Organic White Peony. Another excellent infusion.
4th infusion: (90s)
Keep em coming. I’m pouring them promptly a few seconds early and there’s no astringency at all, it’s beautiful.
5th infusion: (150s)
Ok, it’s done. Not much to see here. Maybe I should’ve brewed this at 194˚F instead.
Note: This is best brewed in a thin-walled gaiwan, e.g. glass. My thick porcelain gaiwan seems to not only burn the White Peony at 185˚F, but also dulls the beautiful crisp aroma even if I lower the temperature.
Flavors: Floral, Green, Mineral, Plums
This is such a gorgeous tea. It’s only my third Bai Mudan, but I’m in love with its floral perfume and elegant sweetness. Either I brewed it really precisely this time, or it’s more forgiving than the other White Peony I’ve tried.
Compared to the White Peony from Lupicia, Teavivre’s Premium White Peony has greener (fresher) leaves and imparts a lot more flavour and brightness to the tea. Both have the same delicious floral and plummy taste.
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Plums
Take two on this 2015 Phoenix 单丛 sample. I’m forgoing the rinsing step these days.
1st infusion: (10s)
Wow. What a beautiful rich chocolatey aroma, and caramel notes in the midst of this dark chocolate liquor. All that from only ten seconds of work!
2nd infusion: (15s)
I mean these leaves just smell like a saucepan full of melted dark chocolate––that’s how potent they are. The tea has that roasty, mineral flavour like a Fujian oolong.
3rd – 6th:
More of the same bitter chocolatey minerality. I’m really not getting any of this fruity or grape scent that other reviewers have talked about. The Da Hong Pao was more interesting in that regard.
Update: In future I might still buy this and try brewing this at a lower temperature like 180˚F, as mentioned in this Silk Road Teas guide: http://www.silkroadteas.com/how-to-brew-loose-leaf-tea-brewing-instructions/
Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Mineral
Pro tip: When preparing tea for a movie night in, brewing it gongfu style adds too much complication.
I received two sachets of these Dan Cong oolong leaves from Teavivre. They’re beautiful long, whole rolled leaves and really potent, only requiring 10s of brewing at 203˚F and then adding 5 seconds with each subsequent brew. (Then again, this is my first time brewing with 7g of leaves.) Hopefully I can give the second sachet the brewing it deserves.
First infusion: Slightly bitter, as to be expected from the first infusion of a darker oolong / black tea, but very fragrant with a smoky, woody scent.
The second infusion, unfortunately I burnt it but I could still taste the underlying fruitiness despite the charred astringency.
Fourth infusion has a nice earthy, fruity flavour like smoky cherries along with the perfumed wood.
Flavors: Cherry, Smoke, Wood
Silver needle is supposed to be the crown jewel of white tea, but I’ve grown rather fond of its less expensive cousin white peony. It’s not as elegant at the silver needle with its broken up leaves and humble appearance. But what Bai Mu Dan lacks in visual appeal it makes up for with taste.
This tea has a pretty typical white tea smell of corn and hay. Steeped, it has a crisp sweet corn flavor and a gentle note of hay at the end. The liquor itself is almost colorless and very sweet. It’s delicate yet is full bodied. The later steep gives cooling cucumber, corn, and dry straw flavors which are tamer than in silver needle. There is no bitterness here whatsoever. I do however recommend keeping the steep temperature low as high temps result in a strong hay flavor.
Overall, a very sweet, clean tasting, and refreshing white tea that’s surprisingly full-flavored.
Flavors: Corn Husk, Cucumber, Hay, Sweet
Rinsed one time for 20 sec, then did several steeps around 20-30 sec.
A bit smoked at first, little bitter and not much sweetness.
After the 5-6 steep it revealed its sweetness and the smoke was just present by a tiny bit.
Got sweeter and sweeter, and i steeped it longer and longer…10 steep i guess i was around 40-60 sec.
Very nice tea…
Flavors: Honey, Smoked, Sweet
Another really great green from teavivre. It’s my second unflavored green and, being new to tea, I was somewhat skeptical, is it really going to taste different from dragonwell? I was excited to discover a totally different flavor from the same plant. This tea was a little stronger than teavivre’s longjing, and on the first sip almost seemed spicy. As the cup cooled I started getting a hint of fruit. Definitely a tea I’ll be reordering. I’m hesitant to leave a number rating just because I really don’t know what to give it, it certainly would be high though!
Just had to add in the scent! I can’t really put my finger on it, but it smells delicious and fresh.
Flavors: Fruity, Grass, Vegetal