Vicony TeasEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
I went to bed at 11. I have been awake since 2:30. At 5:30 I gave up trying and got up – sort of. While staring at the ceiling I decided I would start with a Vicony tea. Grabbed this one. Didn’t think about what I was doing and steeped it like 5 minutes. Uhmmm last time I used a 10 second steep. So it is a wee bit strong. Besides being sort of coffee like this is still intensely good. It is a LS but only hints of smoke. Mostly it is everything I love about Chinese black teas – chocolate, honey, malt, sweet potato. This is just the whole package. Last time I had this I steeped it 4 times. Given the length of the first steep today, maybe not as many. A truly excellent tea.
Back in my heavy tea bag use days, I drank mostly flavored Ceylon or Assam blends. I never really cared much for straight black tea. I still find most breakfast teas to be beige. They have bite. They leave you with bad breath. I usually don’t remember what they taste like. I did really like the Paisley breakfast tea – it was a good different.
I find I really like Chinese black teas. I generally use the same descriptors – cocoa or chocolate, malt, grain, maybe a little smoke. Yet the combinations are different so they all taste different.
This is a lapsang souchong tea. Before I tried it the first time I thought LS always meant BBQ like highly smoked leaf. Nope. This one is not smoky. The wet leaf smells like cocoa toast. The sip is one of the richest malt, grain combination I have tried. It feels thick. No bitterness. No astringency. Kind of like golden monkey but darker. This is what breakfast teas should taste like. The aftertaste is nice too :)
10 second steeps on this one! Malt, honey, sweet potatoes, and light smoke. This is an amazing tea. The first day I had this I could smell it the rest of the day. I had to brew it again right away. I had four 12oz mugs. It would have gone more. If you are interested I have a longer review on my blog.
Another oldie in my collection becomes but a pleasant memory. This is grown and produced in Guadun, Tongmu Guan home of LS teas. However this one is not smoky and tastewise is midpoint between Nature’s Tea Leaf Fujian Congou black tea and Teavivre’s Yun Nan Dian Hong black tea. An exceptionally good cup for those who enjoy the type.
Rummaging through my box of samples and found this one. Looks like I last logged this 9 months ago. The leaf is long for black tea and dark. The dry aroma is of grain. The brew scent is light smoke and malt. It is fairly sweet and lightly smoked. It reminded me of Bailin Gongfu when I last had it. Today I would say it doesn’t have the chocolate notes. What ever. This is a really nicely smooth satisfying cup. Two thumbs up.
I have several teas that really need a sipdown due to age. This is not one of them. It is supposed to get better with age. I just couldn’t help myself and now it is gone. A wonderful fermented white tea. Retains enough of its white tea traits to be recognizable and supplements it with fresh raw puerh like earthiness. This is from Yunnan but I don’t know if it is truly a puerh but somehow calling it dark tea doesn’t seem correct either. How about I just say it was really good. Definitely worth trying if you can find it.
I enjoyed the white tea I had yesterday so much I almost had it again, but I have been wanting a puerh lately. This tea settles both the cravings. This white bud leaf is processed like a raw puerh. It tastes mostly like a silver needle but slightly heartier, with some maltiness and a very mild sheng earthy quality. There is zero bitterness. This is very very good.
I have been trying lately not to duplicate my Steepster posts with what’s on my blog. This tea is so wonderful I am going to break my rule -
This is the third of the Vicony Teas Company samples I have received for review. This Yunnan Silver Needle White Tea is a sheng puerh. It is listed as Art. No: BYP12 on Vicony’s website. The leaf on this looks like a normal loose leaf silver needle white tea. Very white and very fresh. It has only the mildest scent.
I used my wooden spoon to measure out a healthy scoop of the leaf. I used 12oz of near boiling water and my press. The first steep was 2 minutes. The leaf danced in the press, hanging from the surface of the water. The brew is very clear with nothing floating in it. The color is a dull green. So far there is not a lot that even hints this is puerh other than the slightly darker brew color. There are no scents I normally associate with sheng or raw puerh. In fact it has little scent. Just a hint of fresh hay.
I lift the cup and sip. Ahhh, there it is. At first you catch notes of melon and cucumber but as subdued glimpses really. This gives way to the wonderful leather taste I usually reserve for shu puerh. Actually, I am not sure I have ever tasted it in a sheng puerh. As the cup cools the melon really comes alive and blends with the leather. The result is pure joy. Now it is developing a natural sweetness. I feel a nice coolness on my breath. This is really seriously good.
Cup two was also steeped for 2 minutes. It differs from the first in some respect. The leather is less pronounced but still obvious. This has become even sweeter and slightly more like white tea in taste. The melon / cucumber notes are more prevalent. The more the cup cools the more it takes on a grainy flavor – something like wheat.
Cup three continues with the grainy taste. The leather has disappeared.
On cup four the grainy taste has turned to pure malt. Each cup has grown darker. This one is golden in the press and caramel in the cup.
This white puerh is not the flavor blast that puerh fans often expect. On the other hand this is one of the most complex puerhs I have ever tried. It has zero bitterness. It is a lighter more delicate cup that white tea fans will greatly appreciate. After only one session with this I am hooked. This should be in your tea cupboard!
I have had this over a year. It has been stored in zip lock bag inside a zip lock pouch. The age doesn’t seem to have had any adverse affect. I remember being on the fence about this one when I first tried it. I later had Teavivre’s version which I liked better at the time. Today though I am finding this interesting. The color is a very pale green/yellow tint. At first it just tastes sweet, then it switches to a light green vegetal flavor. Late in the sip it almost becomes bitter but suddenly transforms into a cross between dandelion and pine. I am noticing a wonderful cooling sensation all the way down into my lungs. Awesome. This is the last of this sample but it should re-steep a couple more times. I am looking forward to each mug. It is interesting how tastes can shift a little after a year. Leaving the rating from a year ago.
I put all of my Vicony samples in one big resealable pouch for storage. I think it had unintended but pleasant results. This starts light green then mid sip I am getting smoke. I never noted smoke before so I’m pretty sure this is cross contamination but it is exactly what this tea needed! late sip it turns creamy. The aftertaste is bitter but not offensive.
I had a rough day today so this was a pleasant distraction.
This tea was a former top 10 China tea. Today is the day I figure out how to properly prepare it. My first couple attempts were less than spectacular. I used a healthy handful of leaf in my press. I heated the water until it started steaming and then turned it off. I let it set until the kettle grew completely silent. Opened the lid and let the steam escape for several seconds. Then poured it over the leaf. I went about one minute on the steep.
The leaf smells of buttery vegetables. That is a good start. The cup is cool enough I can sip immediately. The water temperature seems correct now, but the steep time needs to be increased. There is nothing off tasting, it is just not strong enough. As it cools a little more, it takes on a sweet creamy light vegetal flavor. I am on the right track as this isn’t bad.
For cup two, I used the same method on the water but steeped two minutes. Ah ha! This cup I can say I enjoy. It starts light green, then the taste switches to a memory. I can’t describe the taste, I can only tell you, it tastes like water from a fountain in a near by state forest from back when I was a kid. We would stop our bikes at this fountain every time we passed it, just to get a sip. As this moment in the way back machine ends, for Mr. Peabody and his pet boy Sherman, I notice the aftertaste is a light bitter flavor reminiscent of, but not exactly, dandelions.
This is not likely to become a favorite, however with some work, I have learned to appreciate it and even enjoy it.
Upping the rating.
As others said about this type tea – the leaves are huge. I did a long review here: http://theeverdayteablog.blogspot.com/2012/08/vicony-teas-company-premium-taiping.html
Short review – My experience was different than others describe this. The orchid flavor tastes mineral and mushroom to me. It has a lingering aftertaste but I did not find it naturally sweet. It went great with a ham and turkey sandwich. I like it but not love it.
Using up the last of this wonder white peony today. Not enough leaf for two and a little much for one. In it goes. The room is filled with a fresh grassy hay scent. I over steeped on purpose to amp up the flavor as I have been sipping brisk teas all morning. This is hanging right in there. Not so much melon/cucumber steeped long as it is earthy hay. A great finish to a great tea.
I stayed away from the spice drop candies today to avoid pickle tea :)
So I’m sitting here typing notes to put in packages I will be sending out in a day or two (if I promised you one – its coming soon) and waiting for this cup to cool enough to sip. Forgetting what I’m doing with the tea while thinking on the notes, I reach over and pop a couple spice drop candies in my mouth. Tasting tip: don’t eat spice drops when drinking white tea. Good grief. I really need to move the candy dish out of temptations way.
Normally a good white tea will have fresh hay, cucumber, and melon notes. Looking at my previous notes on this one it was a fine example. It is still scented of hay but the taste is decidedly pickle. Not that I mind pickles but it is not what I was going for this morning. Amateur. Oh well, in the time it took me to complain my taster has mostly calmed down and this is once again a lovely tea with earthy notes. I will continue to sip it today and then I have enough for one more session another day.
FYI: I have read up on white teas and it seems a good one if well stored will remain tasty for 6 years or more. Knowing you don’t have to drink it right away makes an expensive tea seem a little more worth it.
See how white the leaf looks in the picture? Well, it really is that white. This leaf is gorgeous. It tastes just as good as it looks. Cucumber and melon, with a lingering sweet aftertaste. Superfine is not just the grade of leaf with this one.
For those interested Vicony asked me to mention they supply samples to reviewers. You will have to meet a few conditions and they do ask for a phone number. The few hoops were worth it to try this one.
From my It’s All About the Leaf review, available at: http://www.itsallabouttheleaf.com/1668/tea-review-vicony-teas-keemun-hao-ya-b-2/
The first time I tried this, it was so smoky, bitter, and strong I couldn’t finish the glass. So I threw the sample into a drawer and tried to forget about it. Then, a few months later I found the sample again, and decided to brave trying it again.
This time, I decided to make sure I used an extremely short steeping time. And it helped, immensely. Now, the smoky flavors have done from trying to remove the skin from your nose to a more pleasant woodsy flavor. Like chewing on tree bark. The brew tastes very masculine and robust. Lots of tannin, lots of body.
I still don’t like it much. I feel like it’s a bit of a bully of a tea; pushy and strong and ready to hit you if you don’t treat it exactly right. Others may like it, especially if you’re a black coffee fan or like the stronger, darker flavors. Me, I’ll reach for something else.
Vicony Teas is the end-all/say-all to Keemun excellence. Heck, they were there at the drink’s inception. So, I think they have a heads-up on what’s good and what’s not. This is a new type of Keemun – only about ten years old – processed in a way similar to Bi Luo Chun (a famous green tea). And there are similarities. The flavor profile is creamy, sweet, smokey, woody, and a bunch o’ other things. I just can’t think of ‘em at the moment. It’s a very complex cup that only slightly deviates from the Keemun norm. I’m okay with that.
A longer review of this is now up at www.itsallabouttheleaf.com. This is a nice, tangy Keemun for no-frills, no-flavors, non-adulterated black tea lovers.