Experience buying from Teavivre http://steepster.com/places/2857-teavivre-online—
After Angel sent me a PM requesting I review a group of selected tea samples she was willing to send me, I requested this particular spring green tea to try out as well (along with one other), and she willingly sent it along with the rest. Thank you Angel and Teavivre!
Just this weekend I received a package with all ten samples of the teas she said she would send (yay!), each weighing roughly 15 grams. This particular spring green tea is advertized as being harvested on March 6, 2012. I brewed this up the morning after I received the package, and I am excited to try the other green teas soon (there are two others). I am writing this review from my notes and from my very recent memory of drinking it just yesterday (I don’t post reviews on Sundays).
Right away the appearance and aroma of the dry leaf blew me away, as it was a dark vibrant-green color, with a unbelievably strong vegetal aroma that seems to be characteristic of any fresh green tea. It was composed of very thin, wire-y looking leaves the shape of which reminded my somewhat of the roots of a tiny tree; it was unusual in appearance and I really liked that. So, we both got off to a great start. I used all but a tablespoon or so of the sample, estimating I had at least 10 grams of tea waiting patiently in my pot (and likely more like 12), and so I used only about five cups of water rather than my standard six cups in my glass Bodum teapot, such that the leaf was free to roam, and I added my standard amount of Stevia. I held a few grams back in case I feel the need to brew it up later in my new gaiwan.
Wet the leaf smelled like what I imagine fresh cut spinach would smell like: a fresh, strong, vegetal aroma. I believe the color of the tea liquor was light green. The leaves were mostly on the bottom for most steepings, but on the second I remember some of the leaf moving to the top while steeping. It has a good smelling, fresh aroma (although I was sniffing it while steeping, I basically went by the timer). I decided to start the first steeping at a little higher temperature than I normally do (180F), and a little longer (1.5 minutes), rather than my standard 170F, one minute, because I am finding hotter and longer tends to be better for most of the green tea I have been brewing up lately.
Now to the flavor. Overall, although it was on the mild side, my wife and I both enjoyed drinking it (and she can be a hard one to please when it comes to green tea, in my judgement, anyway). It had good flavor through three steepings and mild flavor on the forth. I used near-boiling water for a fifth (I like to push limits the first time I brew up a tea) and it was definitely flat tasting (my guess is I scorched the leaves). Still, three good steepings and a decent forth is more than I expect out of a tea at this price range ($10.90 / 3.5 OZ = a little over $3 / OZ). Very generally, the number of good steepings I expect to get out of a green tea is relative to its price: I expect at least one good steeping for $1 /OZ, two for $2 / OZ, etc. Maybe a little silly, but I am very cost conscious, and that’s an easy ‘value scale’ for me to remember and use.
Finally, the wet leaf. Again, the first time I brew up a whole-leaf Tea (not necessarily flavor-added ones), I like to do what I call a ‘leaf analysis’. I spread out the leaf on the counter, preferably where there is good light, give it a little time to dry, then pick through it, looking for patterns and oddities. I literally used to sort the parts into piles (by whole leaves, buds, bud-sets, stems, broken pieces, etc.); I know, talk about anal! But I found that was taking just a bit more time that I though was really necessary (it was sometimes taking more than fifteen minutes, and I even started taking photos of the sorted piles), so now I simply take a few minutes at most to sift through the wet leaf and look at the big picture: are there lots of torn/shriveled-looking pieces? Is the color and size of the leaves/buds generally uniform? Are there many stems? What really stands out the most?
So, in this particular tea I noticed right away that there were a surprising number of stems, and I mean long stems, some were even thick (not many), and there were a number of torn leaves, with few buds (or bud-sets). It reminded me of a lower-grade HSMF from an e-bay seller (China Cha Dao). I consider this leaf to be of a lower grade than most green teas I seen (practically none of Seven Cups, Jing Tea Shop, Verdant Tea, Life in Teacup or Tea Trekker Teas have had this many stems and torn pieces). Interesting and all (to me, anyway), but when it comes down to it flavor still matters the most. The wet leaf was at least uniform in color, and vibrant looking (which to me is a verification that it was indeed fresh), and still not unreasonable considering its price.
I liked just about everything about this tea, and I hope to purchase some later on this year. This is easily a tea I could drink everyday, and it turns out I can afford to drink it often at it’s very reasonable price. This is one of the best values for a fresh spring green tea I have ever come across (having looked at many dozens of green teas). I have been looking for an affordable, quality, fresh spring green tea from Teavivre, and as it turns out, this one fits the bill.