109 Tasting Notes

92

Free sample provided by Teavivre for review

Warm sweet potatoes on a cold, rainy day-need I say more?

I’ve only had a couple of Dian Hong teas, but I have really loved them. That combined with a sky-high Steepster rating sets a high bar for this tea. Never fear, Teavivre easily clears the hurdle with this wonderful tea.

The dry leaf aroma is slightly sweet with notes of buckwheat and orange citrus-quite intoxicating. The long twisted leaves are colored golden and chocolate brown. Brewed leaf aroma is mostly the pleasant buckwheat aroma. The liquor is a rather striking golden orange.

The dominant flavor in this tea is sweet potatoes and it really doesn’t need much more than that. Sometimes I catch a notes of cinnamon and orange citrus-both of which go great with sweet potatoes. There can be very subtle malty notes as well. It’s very smooth and non-astringent. For me, I enjoy this most as a mid-morning or afternoon tea. This is a tea that I really need to have in the cupboard all the time.

First infusion-1 heaping teaspoon to about 7 ounces of water. Temp 185/2 minutes
Second infusion-185/3 minutes.

Think I will use 1.5-2 teaspoons next time, because I think that I can draw more infusions out of this terrific tea.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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86

I have never tried this type of tea before so thanks to Teavivre for their generous free sample to review.

The dry leaves (pearls) are huge! While a Jasmine pearl is typically the size of a BB, these pearls are the size of a marble. They do have a sweet aroma of chocolate. I am glad I drink my tea in clear glass cups, because it was so nice to watch the balls unfurl to do their magic.

The pearls unfurled into chocolate brown leaves with a few mahogany brown leaves. The brewed leaf was kind of grainy in aroma-with a slight resemblance to the aroma of a brewed Autumn Harvest Laoshan Black. The liquor leans toward a reddish-orangish brown.

The flavor reminded me a lot of a Keemun-so smooth and chocolately. However, it does not have the smoky notes you often find in a Keemun. It’s very sweet. There is a grainy type note in the background-again similar to Autumnal Laoshan Black-but it’s very minor. I enjoyed this tea very much and look forward to drinking more of it.

1st steep I brewed with 5 pearls, boiling water, 2 minutes.
2nd steep I added a 6th pearl and brewed at 208 for 3 minutes

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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I still have about 5 or 6 FF Darjeeling samples that I haven’t tried yet. I got pretty discouraged when I didn’t really like my Thurbo. I enjoyed a FF Thurbo from RtR earlier this year, so I expected to like the new crop. Maybe the flavor changes that much 9 months after picking and I only like it as it gets a little older. Maybe the drought affected the flavor. I don’t know.

Anyhow, this has been the best of the ones I have tried. It’s beautiful collection of green, light brown and dark chocolate colored leaves. Dry leaf aroma is less floral and more fruity. I don’t love it, but it’s not unpleasant. The liquor is a nice golden yellow.

There is something fruity in the flavor-perhaps pineapple-and that helps. One thing I have noticed in all the Darjeelings I’ve tried is a type of weedy flavor. Maybe like a dandelion-not sure. It’s hard for me to overcome that flavor, though this tea does better at that than the others.

I tried this about 3 days in a row and thought I was really coming around to it, but I didn’t have any over the long weekend, and now today, I am not sure how much I like it. I have been constant with brewing parameters. I still have a couple more brews worth in my sample, so I will try some more to see how it goes.

I’m not going to give a number rating to any FF Darjeelings unless I find some that I am sure that I like.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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88

Free sample provided by Teavivre for review

Among the boxes of tea that rained on my house yesterday was my free sample box generously provided by TeaVivre Such a nice surprise.

I placed my first order with Teavivre in such haste that I missed out on a lot of teas that I wanted to try, so I am grateful for the free samples. As has been mentioned, each sample is in a small mylar foil type pack and all 5 fit back into one resealable foil/mylar pouch. Very nice. Teavivre has great customer service and follows up with an email to make sure that everything was okay with the package.

First up is their Lapsang. One of the misconceptions I think people have about Lapsang is that it is a strong, slap you around tea like a robust Irish Breakfast or East Frisian blend. Or maybe they think it will be spicy hot like chili peppers.

However, Lapsangs are neither of those. Good Lapsang, like this one from Teavivre, are actually rather gentle and smooth, often with some sweetness.

The dry leaves on this tea are beautiful tightly rolled strips of chocolate brown with some golden brown tips mixed in. As you would expect, their aroma is smoky and piney. Not overwhelming, but a little more subtle. Very pleasant. The brewed leaf develops a bit of a peat moss aroma-milder than some other Lapsangs. The liquor looked to be a deep amber color.

The taste is as advertised-smoky and pleasant and slightly sweet in the finish. Very tasty. If you like Lapsang, you should enjoy this tea. If you are curious about Lapsang, it’s a good tea to start with.

I’ve managed two steeps so far, and will be going for a third shortly.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec
ScottTeaMan

How much tea did you use?

Scott B

I used 2 teaspoons on the first steep and I added a third teaspoon for the second steep. I might just start out with 3 teaspoons next time.

Scott B

Oh, I usually put 8-10 ounces of water in my cup.

TeaBrat

ooh, you’re braver than me. I will have to increase my leaf slightly next time!

ScottTeaMan

SO , Scott-if you use 3 tsp do you do 2 or 3 shorter steeps? Bonnie is (I think ) sending me samples of a couple LS. I may try -well maybe the whole sample, & short steeps of 1.5, 2 & 3 minutes.

Scott B

Amy-You actually had a hotter temp and longer steep time on your first brew, so I am not sure how all that works out compared to the more leaf I used. However, Lapsangs don’t scare me-Pu’erhs do.

Scott-I did 2 minutes for the first steep and 2:30 for the second. Teavivre recommends 1-2 mins for 1st steep and +15-30 seconds each additional steep. I’ve just been following their recommendations for now.

ScottTeaMan

It seems like Tevivre is using gongfu style steeps.

Scott B

There may be a bit of a translation issue, but I interpreted the instructions as for Western-style brewing: “2-3 teaspoons for 8oz of water. Brew at 194ºF (90 ºC) for 1 to 2 minutes
Infusion times: 4 – 5 times. Brewing times prolongs from 15 seconds to 30 seconds with the increasing of infusion times”

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87
drank Indonesian by Mark T. Wendell
109 tasting notes

Did you ever think you’d get buried under an avalanche of tea?

It seemed that might happen yesterday as package after package arrived. My dog was wearing her nose out smelling all the interesting boxes. When the torrent subsided the boxes were between knee and waist high and I was ready to brew.

This was my first order from Mark T Wendell. The only Indonesian tea I’ve ever had before was in TG’s disappointing English Breakfast blend, so it was nice to see an Indonesian tea get a chance to stand on its own.

I’m not sure if this is an estate tea or not. The web site says it’s from Kertasarie Estate but the label on the tin says it’s a blend. Do estates ever make their own blends from different teas?

Anyhow, the dry leaves are short, twisted and fairly uniform in size. Their color is very dark brown with a few medium brown specks in there. Dry aroma is pleasant and subdued, with maybe a touch maltiness and a hint of orange citrus.

Brewed aroma is more malty with maybe that orange citrus note. Can you smell tannins? I swear I smell tannins. Liquor is nice and coppery.

Taste is good, if a little generic and nondescript. A little malty, but that orange citrus note doesn’t seem to have made it. Somewhat robust, but no bitterness. I think this could be a decent breakfast tea. I will brew this a little longer next time and see if I can coax a bit more flavor out of it.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Scott B

Yes, their web site says it’s from the estate. But the label on my tin says “A blend of exquisite teas from the island of Indonesia..”. I am just unfamiliar with estates making their own blends-perhaps they do.

ScottTeaMan

I m still pretty sure it’s single estate b/c other websites have it listed as such. Where on the tin does it say it is a blend? I saw no notice of it on their website.

TeaBrat

Buried under an avalanche of tea, sounds like the story of my life. Ooh – I hope you got the Victorian Afternoon blend. :)

Scott B

Scott-The quote I included is from a label on the back of their 4 oz. tin. The description of it is sounds like it was written a very long time ago. Maybe at that time it wasn’t an estate tea.

Amy-I’m starting to think that what I am doing here is just living in a tea shop or something. Alas, I must have missed the Victorian Afternoon blend. Is it similar to Harney’s Queen Catherine?

TeaBrat

Scott – the victorian afternoon is a Lapsang blend, I quite like it.

ScottTeaMan

Here’s to living in & being buried in…….TEA! If it wasn’t so delicious, I’d probably bathe in it.

Scott B

“This vibrant blend of Indian, Sri Lankan and Formosan teas is further complemented by a slightly smoky character” Sounds very interesting.

Scott B

Scott-People have been known to drink their bath water!

ScottTeaMan

That sounds thirst quenching!

Scott B

gives a whole new meaning to the Nestea plunge

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75

Finally got around to brewing this at a lower temperature as suggested by Amy oh.
Although the tea wasn’t bitter, the last time I brewed this, I tasted almost nothing else but 2nd flush Darjeeling-which I don’t care for.

Anyhow, brewing at 195 today the tea tastes much better. Can’t really pick out individual tea flavors, but at least the 2nd flush taste is hidden. Probably wouldn’t buy this again, but it tastes decent enough. I will certainly finish my sample pack without complaint.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec
ScottTeaMan

I thought this eas a good blend.

Scott B

Yeah, the first time I brewed it, I liked it-but failed to keep notes on brewing. The second time was not good. At the lower temp today was good again. Not a favorite, but not bad.

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86

Getting up very early to walk the dogs and then ourselves during the heat wave. Rather than feel slugged out all day, I went for this, figuring if it didn’t wake me up, nothing I had would.

And it does wake me up fairly well. However, today it didn’t reach up and smack me like it did the other day. Brewing parameters were the same. It’s still bold and robust, but went down remarkably smooth for this type of tea. Upping the rating a bit.

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82

Rating number is for straight brewed tea

Ridiculously hot for May, so more Lapsang.

I tried this today iced with soymilk to try to emulate a Thai Iced tea that I’ve had in restaurants. I never did get a container to cold brew, so I hot brewed a cup and poured over a cup with an equivalent amount of ice as the tea. Used 1 teaspoon of fresh leaves and 1 teaspoon of leaves that were on their second steep. Brewed in a about 10 ounces of water.

Added milk and a lot of sugar-2 tablespoons. I put in too much milk and the liquor was something like mother of pearl instead of a nice tan. Still, it tasted pretty good. The smoke was subdued in the sweetness in the milk and sugar, but it was there. A unique drink. Very refreshing on a hot day. Definitely want to experiment with this some more.

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88

Brew temp 208

Yes, I bought this because it is supposed to be one of the teas thrown into Boston Harbor. Why not-the sample was only a dollar or so.

This is really nice. It tastes like a cross between Keemun and Lapsang. The aroma is unusual, I smell perhaps pine, but also something else that I cannot identify-I’ll have to work on that. Smooth, flavorful and pleasant.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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61
drank Imperial Breakfast by Verdant Tea
109 tasting notes

I wish I liked more tea.

I wish I could be like many of you here who seem to like pretty much any quality tea, no matter what type it is-but it is not to be. I’ve been expanding a bit more beyond the teas that I am used to and I have found that I have definite preferences-new things I like and new things I don’t. I enter the process open-minded, but there are just some things my senses don’t care for and Laoshan black is one of them. It’s kinda disheartening to hear people rave about a tea that I just don’t care for. I’d like to join the club exalting various great teas and have people think I know a lot about tea because I agree with them. But no words-no matter how cogent-can convince my senses that they enjoy something when they just don’t.

I KNEW this was not your typical breakfast tea when I ordered it. Still, it seemed worth a shot. However, by the time I got around to trying this tea, I have already discovered that I was less than enthralled with 2 of its components (Laoshan Black and Big Red Robe). So this puts a lot of pressure on Yunnan Golden Buds and Xingyang 2007 Imperial Pu’er. Considering I’ve never had Pu’er before (and that there’s probably not much in it), it’s mostly up to the Golden Buds-those poor buds never stood a chance.

The best thing about this tea is how striking all those golden buds look mixed in with the Laoshan Black leaves-very nice. Sadly, the black overwhelms those buds and I can’t really taste them. I taste the chocolate notes in the black, but it’s not remotely sweet. I eat 72% dark chocolate (not sweet enough for most) and I taste enough sweetness. The chocolate notes in the black are bland. Thick, heavy and bland. At least they are NOT bitter, like unsweetened chocolate. Not sure whether I can taste the pu-er. I catch a glimpse of mineral now and then from the oolong. Even if I enjoyed this more, I can’t imagine wanting this as my first cup in the morning. For that, I guess I prefer your typical Assam/Yunnans straight or in blends. But, even as an afternoon tea, this just doesn’t work for me.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec
TeaBrat

It must be frustrating to spend all this money on tea you don’t like. Perhaps you need to narrow down your choices?

Scott B

I wish I liked more of my new teas better, but that’s what I’m doing here-narrowing my choices.Trying new teas is a risk-I know that going in. I’d rather try something unknown that I potentially could like and not enjoy it than to not try it at all. I’m not going broke on my small orders from Verdant and RtR and my Upton samples. If I never tried anything new, I would never have come across things I really enjoy like Lapsang, Keemun, or Yunnan Dian Hong. I certainly don’t keep ordering the same types of tea when I have learned that I don’t like them. I ordered Imperial and Laoshan at the same time, so I had no way of knowing that I wouldn’t enjoy either one of these.

TeaBrat

True enough. :)

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Bio

Started drinking tea for health benefits maybe 5 years ago-exclusively bagged tea. Usually went for various Celestial Seasonings type of stuff. I bought a tea infuser at a gourmet shop once and then I realized there was almost no loose tea available. Eventually tiring of bags, I started ordering loose tea online and I have never gone back. Initially, I was exploring all the wild and exotic flavor combinations, but now I mostly drink straight teas. I still enjoy blended teas-but prefer those without “flavoring”. Hope to learn here and find some new teas I might not otherwise find. Am a vegan, so “milk” generally means “soymilk” to me. If it’s almond, rice, or coconut, I will mention that fact.

I am new here, and new to reviewing tea. Many of my initial reviews will be from memory and may not be very detailed at all. I hope to write more informative reviews on current and future teas.

I won’t let external factors affect my rating of the tea-such as slow shipping, too expensive, etc. I’ll mention any customer service problems in my reviews. I also won’t let my mistakes in not following the seller’s recommended parameters affect a rating. I can’t believe people who say “I forgot about it and oversteeped it” and then give it a rating. If I brew outside the parameters, I will wait until I brew it right before I give it a rating.

TEMPORARY RATING SYSTEM- Don’t hold me to these numbers and descriptions-like George Bluth, I like to tweak.

90+ It’s awesome, right?? I’ll probably try to keep it on hand.

80-89 – I really like this and will buy it again at some point, but there are so many teas to try!

70-79 – This is a pretty good tea and I may buy it again based on my mood, what tea store I am buying from, and what kind of deal I can get.

60-69 – This is okay. I finished the bag. I would drink it again if offered, but would not buy it again.

40-59 – IF I finished the bag, I recall this tea thinking “Why in the hell did I finish the bag?”

1-39 – Did not finish the bag. Maybe not even the cup. Tea was given away or discarded.

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