79

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.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 30 sec
Missy

Yay for the new gaiwan!

Invader Zim

I too have noticed a lot of stems with Teavivre’s teas, but it’s not something I mind considering the flavor of the teas.

SimpliciTEA

MIssy: Yes! Yay! It was a gift from Gingko with my order from her that I received just last weekend. It is TINY (it only holds 3 OZ of water with the lid on, 4 if I pour water to the very top; so I am guessing it is defined a 4 OZ gaiwan). It’s not very practical for me to use it often, but it is stylish, and I love using it (I brewed up a Taiwan oolong in it yesterday). I’m going to want to get a full ‘sized-one’ one of these days, soon.

Invader Zim: I agree about the flavor being most important. From what I gather, lots of stems can be an indicator of lower quality leaf (my understanding is you get little, if any, flavor from the stems), AND YET, taste matters most. Still, I rated it at 79 rather then 80 because in my book the appearance of the leaf is a part of the overall experience of the Tea. Of course, not everyone would agree with me, I’m sure.

Missy

Wow! That’s pretty awesome she gifted you with a gaiwan. I think mine is 4 oz as well. I like the smaller size because it seems like you can get a bazillion steepings in gaiwans. I’m not sure I can actually hold all the tea were it to be much bigger. :D

SimpliciTEA

The thing I really didn’t like about brewing up such small amounts of tea , was pouring what felt like barely a ‘splash’ of water in my kettle, and bringing that to a boil. It seems like a lot of work for such a small amount of tea. Do you actually boil the 3 ounces in a kettle, or do you use something else like, gasp use a microwave to heat up the 3 oz water?

Bonnie

I pour the boiling water in a glass pot or you could use cast iron and cover with a large thick tea cozy which keeps the water hot over several pours. Usually this lasts 3 steepings then I reheat water.

SimpliciTEA

I just might try that; thanks, Bonnie!

Dylan Oxford

Yeah, that’s kind of why I don’t really appreciate Eastern style brewing like I should. I’m a big, thirsty American, it takes a long time to brew enough tea in my gaiwan to fill my 44 ounce cup!

Okay, that’s slightly facetious. My cup is only 20 ounces ;)

Bonnie

You need a tea I V

Missy

I tend to make tea for more than one person at a time so I add my 4 ounces to water I’m already boiling for some one else. To answer your question I think I would just boil up 4 ounces were I making tea just for me.

DaisyChubb

I’m with Bonnie (could I get that on a tshirt?) – I usually boil the water in my kettle, then pour it into one of my very heat resistant travel mugs. That keeps my water hot enough for 3-4 steepings in my 4oz container. Yum!

SimpliciTEA

Thanks, all! I’m a lot about efficiency (not always a good thing) so heating up enough water for at least three steepings (in my case here, nine ounces) makes sense for me. I’ve already got ideas of cups, mugs, etc. to us keep the water warm in.

I sometimes brew up enough oolong for my wife to drink with me, but I think she had a few that she thought had a ‘weird taste’, so she’s really hesitant to try more of them. I’m V E R Y … S L O W L Y trying to get her to come back around to the bright side of oolongs (but it seems to be a somewhat delicate matter).

Using gaiwans that are this small certainly makes sense for groups of people at tea tastings, tea parties, or whatever you want to call them.

Small as it is, I still really like it. I can’t wait to show my friends, as most are interested in learning about other cultures, so I think they will see the beauty in both it’s form and utility.

Twenty ounces? That’s a BIG dog! I’m with you Dylan, I like to drink LOTS of tea.

And I, too, like the idea of putting something like *Bonnie*’s post of, “You need a tea I V” on a T-shirt!

Missy

I won’t tell any one that the purple monstrosity Dylan obtained for my tea drinking pleasure actually holds more tea than his red and black monstrosity. This message will self destruct in 30 seconds.

SimpliciTEA

Monstrosities certainly do add personalty to a collection of teaware, especially when the big Dawgs (I’ve got a 32 OZ myself) sit next to the little Dawgs (like a 4 OZ gaiwan).

Missy

Lol I have to take a look at them side by side now. :)

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Comments

Missy

Yay for the new gaiwan!

Invader Zim

I too have noticed a lot of stems with Teavivre’s teas, but it’s not something I mind considering the flavor of the teas.

SimpliciTEA

MIssy: Yes! Yay! It was a gift from Gingko with my order from her that I received just last weekend. It is TINY (it only holds 3 OZ of water with the lid on, 4 if I pour water to the very top; so I am guessing it is defined a 4 OZ gaiwan). It’s not very practical for me to use it often, but it is stylish, and I love using it (I brewed up a Taiwan oolong in it yesterday). I’m going to want to get a full ‘sized-one’ one of these days, soon.

Invader Zim: I agree about the flavor being most important. From what I gather, lots of stems can be an indicator of lower quality leaf (my understanding is you get little, if any, flavor from the stems), AND YET, taste matters most. Still, I rated it at 79 rather then 80 because in my book the appearance of the leaf is a part of the overall experience of the Tea. Of course, not everyone would agree with me, I’m sure.

Missy

Wow! That’s pretty awesome she gifted you with a gaiwan. I think mine is 4 oz as well. I like the smaller size because it seems like you can get a bazillion steepings in gaiwans. I’m not sure I can actually hold all the tea were it to be much bigger. :D

SimpliciTEA

The thing I really didn’t like about brewing up such small amounts of tea , was pouring what felt like barely a ‘splash’ of water in my kettle, and bringing that to a boil. It seems like a lot of work for such a small amount of tea. Do you actually boil the 3 ounces in a kettle, or do you use something else like, gasp use a microwave to heat up the 3 oz water?

Bonnie

I pour the boiling water in a glass pot or you could use cast iron and cover with a large thick tea cozy which keeps the water hot over several pours. Usually this lasts 3 steepings then I reheat water.

SimpliciTEA

I just might try that; thanks, Bonnie!

Dylan Oxford

Yeah, that’s kind of why I don’t really appreciate Eastern style brewing like I should. I’m a big, thirsty American, it takes a long time to brew enough tea in my gaiwan to fill my 44 ounce cup!

Okay, that’s slightly facetious. My cup is only 20 ounces ;)

Bonnie

You need a tea I V

Missy

I tend to make tea for more than one person at a time so I add my 4 ounces to water I’m already boiling for some one else. To answer your question I think I would just boil up 4 ounces were I making tea just for me.

DaisyChubb

I’m with Bonnie (could I get that on a tshirt?) – I usually boil the water in my kettle, then pour it into one of my very heat resistant travel mugs. That keeps my water hot enough for 3-4 steepings in my 4oz container. Yum!

SimpliciTEA

Thanks, all! I’m a lot about efficiency (not always a good thing) so heating up enough water for at least three steepings (in my case here, nine ounces) makes sense for me. I’ve already got ideas of cups, mugs, etc. to us keep the water warm in.

I sometimes brew up enough oolong for my wife to drink with me, but I think she had a few that she thought had a ‘weird taste’, so she’s really hesitant to try more of them. I’m V E R Y … S L O W L Y trying to get her to come back around to the bright side of oolongs (but it seems to be a somewhat delicate matter).

Using gaiwans that are this small certainly makes sense for groups of people at tea tastings, tea parties, or whatever you want to call them.

Small as it is, I still really like it. I can’t wait to show my friends, as most are interested in learning about other cultures, so I think they will see the beauty in both it’s form and utility.

Twenty ounces? That’s a BIG dog! I’m with you Dylan, I like to drink LOTS of tea.

And I, too, like the idea of putting something like *Bonnie*’s post of, “You need a tea I V” on a T-shirt!

Missy

I won’t tell any one that the purple monstrosity Dylan obtained for my tea drinking pleasure actually holds more tea than his red and black monstrosity. This message will self destruct in 30 seconds.

SimpliciTEA

Monstrosities certainly do add personalty to a collection of teaware, especially when the big Dawgs (I’ve got a 32 OZ myself) sit next to the little Dawgs (like a 4 OZ gaiwan).

Missy

Lol I have to take a look at them side by side now. :)

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Bio

(Updated 6-3-2014)

After about three years I changed my avatar from the picture of a green teacup with steam rising (one I created using Paint) to this dragon gaiwan. This is one of my favorite gaiwans, although I haven’t brewed any tea in it as of yet.

You can call me, Joe.

What, How and Why I steep:

I typically expect, and shoot for, at least three flavorful steepings out of (just about) any tea I brew up.

I generally start at the times and temps below ( = minute(s), " = second(s) ), then add 5F and 30" for each successive steeping:
Chinese Green - 175F, 1’ ;
Japanese Green - 160F, 1’add 15F, then decrease by 15";
White - 160F, 2’;
Oolong - This varies;
Indian Black/Chinese Red and Herbals - a little off the boil, 2’; why do I start with such low temps & short steep times? So as to ‘spread out’ the flavor over multiple steepings. I have found this to work with every tea I have tried so far. Also, I am not looking for intense flavor in that first cup (i.e. Western style), I would prefer to taste it—and savor—it over many steepings.
Pu-erh - Beginning in 2014, I finally chose to dive into pu-erh! Standard parameters when I brew ripened pu-erh in my 150 ml gaiwan (I also own an 11 oz Yixing):
First I do a 15" rinse with near boiling water. Then for each successive steeping I add Stevia.
……….1st: Near boiling, 0.5’
……….2nd: Boiling , 1’
……….3rd: Boiling , 1.5’
etc. Until there is no flavor, or I ran out of time and energy.

I hope to ‘streamline’ my reviews going forward, so, hopefully, they are a little less technical and dry (and perhaps even stilted), and a little more organic and experiential (and hopefully, flowing); this somewhat new approach to reviews is a kind of metaphor for where my life is headed right now, and is one reason why I write reviews: as a kind of time-capsule of where I was in my life at that time.

Tea Rating scale:

1 – 29: There is no reason to even think about drinking this stuff again.
30-49: I may drink it if someone else brewed it up, but I would not bother brewing it up myself let alone bother buying any.
50 – 59: I like something about it, and I may brew it up if I already have some, but I would not buy any more of it.
60 – 69: I like a few things about it, and I may buy it if the price is right.
70 – 79: This is a tea I enjoy and would drink fairly regularly as long as it is reasonably priced.
80 – 89: A tea I will drink as often as I can, and will likely try to buy some when I run out (as long as it’s affordable).
90 – 99: This has everything I look for in the best of teas: beauty in appearance, a delightful aroma, and most importantly, depth and yummy-ness in its flavor.
100: Perfect.

My primary interest is in artisan loose-leaf Chinese green, red and ripe pu-erh tea, although I enjoy a white and an oolong tea every now and then as well. Here and there I brew a few of the other true teas and an occasional herbal.

Since I choose to live on a very limited income (‘Voluntary Simplicity’), I have to be very conscience about how much I pay for tea. In reading their Tea Enthusiast’s books, Mary Lou and Robert J. Heiss sold me on the wonders of artisan teas. Thankfully I have found that there is affordable, artisan tea out there; it’s just like anything else that has true value: it takes hard work, dedication and at least a little persistence to find it.

I came to tea out of a desire to find something to help calm and focus my mind as naturally as possible. My mind is very active, so to speak, and at times I find it very difficult to focus and keep myself centered. For years now I have been practicing Yoga daily along with others things to help me to stay relaxed and present, but I found I wanted a little something extra to help me start the day; the theanine in green tea seems to help me in this.

I have been enjoying loose-leaf tea since November of 2010.

I enjoy connecting with others about tea.

I drink Stevia with just about all of my tea (no sugar or artificial sweeteners).

I drink a pot of green tea every day in the AM (usually steeped three times over the course of the day), sharing it with my wife.

Each tea in my cupboard is carefully and colorfully labeled in a tin or in a jar that used to hold something else (I love to reuse things!) .

I have three teapots: a glass Bodum – I don’t use the metal infuser/press anymore (greens), a 16 oz glass Victorian (to brew greens and whites, and to use as a pot to decant other teas into), and an 11 oz Yixing (ripe Pu-erh only). (New in 2014) I also one a number of gaiwans ranging in volume from from 125 ml to 250ml.

I tend to be direct, straightforward and honest when I post anything to the discussion boards. I take the approach that everything I say is stated with the implied disclaimer: In My Humble Opinion (i.e. IMHO). I may occasionally emphasize this point, where appropriate. I view your comments in the same way. You are in no way obligated to read what I have posted. And I am in no way similarly obligated to you.

Sitting with my cup of tea I greet the day in anticipation of new discoveries along the way.

Location

Midwest, USA

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