14 Tasting Notes

100

Brewed according to the instructions on the package…

Probably like most people, I don’t read the brewing instruction manual on my tea packets, and in the ordinary way of things, I brew 5g of everything with 100-200ml water, adjusting the amount until I find equilibrium.

But since I’m currently well-stocked with 200g of Bailin Gongfu – my favourite black tea – I thought I’d give the instructions a try.

The instructions on the ziplock bag the tea comes in are 2 tablespoons of tea leaves, to 17oz water. By UK measurements, that’s 30g of tea and a gnat’s under 500ml water.

OK, I compromised, and used 1 tablespoon – 15g – and 250ml water.

It was delicious. Malty, delicious, wonderful, floral and just … the best tea I’ve ever had. Like Bailin Gongfu Plus. Super Bailin Gongfu. The Breaking Bad of Bailin Gongfu.

‘course, I then spotted the instructions on the website, which are subtly different to the ones on the package. On the website, it recommends for western-style brewing: “2 tablespoons/6 grams”. So I’m guessing the tablespoons thing is a typo for 2 teaspoons, unless Chinese or US tablespoons are very, very different from mine.

But I have to admit that if I were rich as Croesus, I’d drink it like this all the time.

Flavors: Floral, Malt, Tea

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 0 sec
TeaVivre

hi there, sorry for the misunderstnding. The correct proportion should be 6g tea for 500ml water.You can try this. If you prefer a heavy taste, you can add a few gram tea, but 15g is too much. Good luck.

janchi

Hi TeaVivre, yes, I guessed – on the ziplock bag label it says to use “2 tablespoons for 17 oz water” – but 1 tablespoon = 15 grams, so I think it’s just a label misprint for teaspoons (1 teaspoon = 5 grams, which is about what I usually use).

No worries, though – it was a shockingly delicious and strong cup of tea :)

TeaVivre

We do use tablespoon to measure the teas. Because the tea is loose, 1 tablespoon is not 15g that much. So in our brewing guide, the weight of tea is more important.
Glad that you like our teas. You can find best taste by your own experience.

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100

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65
drank PG Tips Decaf by PG Tips
14 tasting notes

I overdid it with the puerh yesterday. After I steeped my chenpi to extinction, I moved on to another shou, which was extremely delicious right up until I discovered from first-hand experience that ‘tea-drunk’ skips right over the pleasant intoxication of, say, ‘merlot-drunk’ and goes straight to the hangover.

I’m not even going to review yesterday’s second shou experience, but it did make me go to the corner shop and get a load of digestive biscuits and croissants to fill the snack-cupboard with, lest I encounter puerh on an empty stomach ever again.

This morning I tried to seek comfort and solace in my favourite, gentle, softly-murmuring Oolong, but yesterday’s dizzying memory still haunts me, so I’m settling myself with PG Tips decaf, with a big splash of milk to cool it down and temper any lingering and vicious shards of caffeine, tannins, polyphenols and whatnot.

It’s quite nice, though to get any tea-taste at all, it has to be brewed for a good couple of minutes in a mug of boiling water, whilst poking at the teabag then squeezing it against the side of the mug with a teaspoon.

I’m rating this highly for a mass-market decaf with a watery taste. 65 I think, because although I once opened up a teabag of it and tried to brew the ‘leaves’ in a jug, like loose-leaf, and watched the tiny particles turn to an unhealthy-looking brownish sludge, sometimes it’s exactly what I need.

It’s like the fizzy-fizzy-make-feel-nice of Alka-Seltzer for merlot-lovers, but for intemperate tea drinkers.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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85

I’m loving the mulled and mellow taste of this. I got it as a free sample with my last order, used half the sample last night, and I’ve been steeping the other half this morning. It’s deliciously woody with a muted tang of orange in the aftertaste – there are pieces of dried orange rind in the sample, which I put in along with the leaves when I steeped, and as the rind softened, more orange taste came through so later steeps were more ‘mulled’ tasting.

It’s very warming and soothing; I drank this right up until bedtime last night and felt very cosy. I think I’ll be buying more of this before winter comes, and then hoping for snow so I can sit by the fire sipping it snugly.

Flavors: Orange, Orange Zest, Pine, Sweet, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec 5 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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76

Not so much a review as a ‘note to self’ about the date (15th August) I put some of this in a little clay bowl with some kitchen towel taped over the top on the advice of other steepsters, to air out some of the more … pungent aromas.

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84

This is a 2013 sample I got last year, but it’s been stored in its original unopened pouch inside a tightly-lidded tea-tin, so I don’t think it’ll have lost very much flavour and aroma, though both might be more muted than if it were very fresh.

I steeped about 5g of this in 200ml of 95C water or a bit cooler, for 30-45s per steep, and got 4 good steeps from it; I steeped the first time using on-the-boil water (because UK children are taught in primary school that tea is brewed in boiling water and it’s anathema to brew it in anything less) and this made it very astringent, but using cooler water took all the bitterness away.

The scent is like a subdued summer flower-garden, and the taste is mildly sweet with a smoky hint, and lightly oily.

Pleasant and easy-going as a light and uplifting morning drink. I’d rate this in the mid-80s – I like it a lot but it’s not quite as more-ish as my favourite black teas.

Flavors: Floral, Flowers, Smoke, Sweet

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 45 sec 5 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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100

I’ve heard tell that Oolong is an ancient Chinese remedy for hangovers, so, in the interest of science, today I’m looking for empirical evidence in my teacup.

It was movie-and-harissa-chicken night in my house last night, which is an excuse to break out the beer, because harissa is made almost entirely of chilis, so something is needed to put out the fire, or at least numb the inflamed senses.

I got a couple of hundred grams of this Ali Shan in the TeaVivre anniversary sale (along with too many Puerhs to count, or to fit in my tea-tins, or, probably, ever manage to drink). I was introduced to Oolong by TeaVivre when Angel sent me some free samples last year, and this one was the best tea, hands-down, I’ve ever had.

On my 3rd steep of this, I’m only halfway through my research. It’s a double-blind placebo-controlled study but for the control-group results I’ll have to wait for my housemate to get home from work and ask him how he feels.

But so far, I feel no better than I did a couple of hours ago, though the tea tastes as delicious as ever, and its warm butteriness and autumn-leaves smell is making me care less about my fuzzy head.

Interestingly, Wikipedia cites some research that claims alcohol ‘has been found outside the solar system, in stars and planetary-forming regions of space.’ By a staggering coincidence, the movie we watched last night was War of the Worlds.

Flavors: Butter, Milk, Sweet

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 45 sec 5 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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65
drank Chai by Twinings
14 tasting notes

I’ve uploaded a photo of my box of this tea because the British packaging for it is different from the US version (and maybe the ingredients are too, looking at others’ tasting notes for this).

I bought it because it was cheap and cheerful, and sometimes I fancy a spicy tea in the morning; I had a small stash of a chai a couple of years ago that was utterly stunning, but I didn’t keep track of my teas back then, so I have no idea what it was, or even who sold it.

In the UK version of this, the only ingredients listed on the box are tea, cinnamon, ginger, and ‘flavourings’, so most of the spices that should be there are missing. I can taste a hint of cloves, but no cardamom or black pepper. It tastes mostly of cinnamon, and doesn’t have the warmth of a good chai, or the nice little sting on the tongue that the black peppercorns should give it.

It’s not a terrible tea; I don’t take sugar so maybe adding a bit would bring out some of the flavours more, but to me this tastes a bit insipid. I’m going to rate it at about 65, because it’s convenient when I’m stumbling around first thing in the morning and can’t get myself together enough to throw some spices and black tea in a pan and boil them up, and also because it’s a pleasant enough drink, even with it’s shortcomings.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Cloves

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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90

I’ve been on a tea-buying spree lately, and today a dozen sample-sizes that I ordered from TeaVivre arrived (as always, they have the fastest shipping time, no idea how they do it), and this was the first one I decided to try.

I used about half of one of the packs – I think that’s about 3-4g, and brewed it in about 200ml boiling water for short 30 second-1 minute steeps.

I was surprised at how light the flavour is in this; all the cooked puerhs I’ve had so far have been much stronger, with very defined scents and tastes, but this one was very delicate. It still has the leather smell I’ve come to associate with cooked puerh, but it was more of a hint of old, faded leather.

The taste is sweet, and a bit floral, and the tea had a nice calming, drifting effect on me.

This is the first cooked puerh loose-leaf (not compressed) I’ve had, so I wonder if its lightness is because of that?

I’ve put this in the ‘maybe’ box for when I come to choose my faves of all the sample-size puerhs I’m trying; it was wonderful to drink, and more refreshing than the heavier shou puerhs I’ve tried.

Flavors: Floral, Leather, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 4 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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76

I’ve had this for about a week, and I’ve made quite a few cups of it now, but I’m still having difficulty getting the steep time and amount right.

It has a very strong aroma – of new leather, which fills the house when I brew this. It’s pleasant, but a little overpowering.

I steep about 3-5g in 250ml for about 30s a little longer in later steeps, but not by much; the taste and smell really are strong enough, and maybe a bit too strong, for me – even at short steeping times, and even in later steeps.

For the first two or three steeps, the smell is overwhelmingly of new leather, and it overpowers any other scent or flavour. After these first few steeps, it mellows, and becomes sweeter, with some forest-like hints and woody flavours. I’ve re-steeped the leaves many, many times in one sitting – probably as many as 10, and I could have kept going, I think.

Overall, I think this is a very good puerh, but the strength of its brew is an acquired taste that takes quite a few cups to get used to.

I’ve uploaded some pictures of the cake; the leaves are in good shape, and there’s no muddiness – and, yes, I’d already started to break bits off before I got around to taking a pic, so the edges are raggedy – It was perfectly round and perfectly wrapped when I got it!

Flavors: Forest Floor, Leather, Wet Wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 4 g 8 OZ / 250 ML

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