365 Tasting Notes

Free sample obtained from an order.

Performed a gongfu session with a porcelain gaiwan. Followed the website’s steeping instructions: flash rinse, 10 sec, 10, 15, 20, 25, 35, 90.

Gorgeous leaf. Picture says it all!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BaUPERFFS_q/?taken-by=delightfulkiwi

The dry leaf aroma has a note of sweet potato initially, then I start to smell chocolate sprinkles and milk chocolate bar after a little time. After I let the leaf sit in the heated bowl, spices appear: clove, nutmeg, cinnamon. Sweet potato is stronger in the wet leaf aroma, which also produces a malty note.

The liquor has a golden orange color, and is medium-bodied and nicely clean in appearance and feel. The texture starts of as creamy and then becomes silky later in the session. The first infusion is rather light in flavor – I would start with 15 seconds. The second infusion is much more flavorful,packing a punch compared to the first (seems like it oversteeped). I taste notes of malt and burned sweet potato. Following the third infusion, the burned taste disappears , and the liquor mostly tastes of sweet potato and malt with a hint of fruitiness. There is no aftertaste, but the sixth and seventh infusions have a slightly cooling effect on the tip of my tongue and the back of my throat. I can smell a lovely fragrance of longan from my empty cup.

Nothing about the taste stuck out to me…though this is very good quality and the price is a bargain. I can see this Fujian hongcha being a welcoming breakfast tea all year round. But today it offers a nice, comforting feeling during an overcast, cool autumn day.

(lol this is why I have Steepster. I apparently reviewed this tea before, a couple years ago: https://steepster.com/KiwiDelight/posts/314758

Different harvest, different palate. I like coming back to the same tea after a time (not counting pu’erh because reasons).)

Preparation
3 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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Purchased a sample. Prepared in a gongfu session with a porcelain gaiwan. Followed Teavivre’s steeping instructions: flash rinse, 10 seconds, 15, 15, 25, 35, 60.

I was not expecting to be blasted by such a cocoa bean-like aroma from the dry leaf. So sweet, a touch bitter. The heated leaf uncannily resembles those times in which my house is filled with the smell of brownies in the oven, then you take those brownies a douse them with chocolate syrup. Hit with hot water, the leaf initially smells of sweet potato skin, clove, and malt. Later in the session, the aroma comes back to cocoa.

The liquor is a beautifully clear golden orange and has a full body and smooth texture. The flavor profile doesn’t undergo change throughout the session. From the first infusion to the end, I taste honey, molasses, and sweet potato (no skin), leaving me with a grain-like aftertaste and a slightly dry mouth.

This is another excellent hongcha offering from Teavivre. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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2017 harvest sample provided by Teavivre. Thank you!

Had a gongfu session, brewing 3g in a 60ml porcelain gaiwan with 180 degree water (the ratio is a bit higher than the recommended, which is 1g:30ml). No rinse. Followed the website’s steeping directions directions: 10 seconds, 15, 20, 25, 35.

The dry leaf aroma is lightly sweet with notes of corn silk, white sugar, and hay; and transforms into butter and fresh blueberry muffins after I let the leaf sit in the pre-heated gaiwan. (I triple-checked – yes, blueberry muffins!) The wet leaf aroma is drastically different: vegetal and savory. I didn’t let the leaf rest in fresh air as usual when they’re packaged in these packets, and that may explain the bizarre yet fascinatingly scrumptious aromas.

With a fresh and lively feel, the liquor is bright green in color and full-bodied. It has a sometimes thick, sometimes creamy texture. Though clean tasting, there are many bits of bud fuzz floating around. The liquor tastes similar to the wet leaf aroma in that it is vegetal and savory. Heavy in flavor, but not in substance. Tops off with a sweet finish. No aftertaste. The taste and feel are consistent throughout the session.

I went beyond the recommended steeping times: 45 seconds; 1 minute, 2, 5. I could have stopped with 45, the sixth infusion, which tastes lighter and sweeter than the previous five and has a cooling sensation. Thereafter, the liquor tastes cooked.

Teavivre continues to offer excellent green teas. I’m not much for savory green teas, but I really like this one. It’s a little more high-end for the pricing of 100g, but seems worth it.

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Samples provided for review. Thank you, Angel! This review is based on the second session.

Brewed with a gongfu session, in a 120ml porcelain gaiwan. The dragon ball weighed 9.7g. I used 190 degree and then 200 degree water since my kettle does have a 195 setting. I gave the ball a rinse and a quick rest to open up. Steeping times are pulled from the website: 25 seconds, 20, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 80 (etc.)

The dry leaf aroma has notes of rose and typical Dian Hong (malt and chocolate). After I let the ball sit in the pre-heated gaiwan for a bit, I smell freshly baked brownies – incredibly fresh. Makes me want to make brownies. The wet leaf, in order from strongest to weakest, smells of rose, malt, and brownies. As the session when on, an allspice note took over.

The liquor, a clear golden orange, has a full body and smooth texture. The flavor doesn’t evolve; it’s constant. Comparing this to the loose rose-scented Dian Hong that Teavivre also carries, the dragon ball is much more balanced. The rose doesn’t overwhelm the typical Dian Hong notes, which are, again, malt and chocolate, plus a hint of allspice and black pepper. It’s as if the rose is naturally steeped from the leaf rather than an addition. Speaking more the Dian Hong’s overall quality, it’s a very nice quality. Very few broken leaves or buds. It’s delicious, clean, and comforting. Additionally, whole rose buds and petals are pressed into the ball. WHOLE. I like that touch.

I’m not very big on rose when it comes to the tea and flower combination. It’s OK. I do, however, adore Dian Hong. Since I’ve sampled both the dragon ball and the loose leaf, I can say that I prefer the dragon ball. I felt like the rose-scented loose leaf comes off as overpowering. If you prefer a flower “flavored” tea in which the flower isn’t too strong, this is something to try.

However, as someone who watches caffeine intake, I don’t like the idea of dragon balls much because there are so many grams crammed into one piece. Both of these dragon balls provided weighed nearly 10 grams – double my typical maximum. Another thing to consider. At least with the loose leaf I can control leaf amount more easily.

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Sample obtained from purchase. Brewed in a gongfu session with a porcelain gaiwan. Since I decided to brew the entire sample, I slightly changed the website’s steeping directions: flash rinse, 20 seconds, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 4 minutes (the gaiwan overflowed with water at the last infusion).

The dry leaf smells a little bit floral but mostly of ginseng, the latter of which is intensified when I let the leaf sit in the pre-heated gaiwan. Once rinsed, the wet leaf smells roasted, absent of ginseng and floral notes. (Both the oolong – the Four Seasos variety – and ginseng were roasted for 4-6 hours, according to the website.)

The liquor looks beautiful in morning sunlight: clear golden yellow. Halfway through the session, though, when the ginseng has completely dissolved, many small leaf bits pour from the gaiwan. Of all the infusions, the first tastes most like ginseng. I’ve never had ginseng before. It’s like a sticking sweetness, reminiscent of stevia and licorice, and clings to the back of the tongue. Beginning with the second infusion, vague floral notes from the oolong appear. The ginseng and oolong are balanced for the remainder of the session and complement each other. The sweet aftertaste lingers for at least half-hour.

This is my first Ginseng Oolong. I’m not sure what to think of it and this particular one that Teavivre sells. It seems like it can grow on me. I think I should try it again Western style to see how it steeps. It didn’t undergo much evolution during the gongfu session since the quality of the oolong wasn’t great (totally understandable given it’s meant to be coated with ginseng in this case). For what it is to me now, I remain neutral about the taste but I am positive about the quality. It wasn’t off-putting at all. I commented on the numerous leaf bits in case you wondered you should use a strainer or not prior to trying this out for yourself and didn’t know what you were getting into (I didn’t myself).

Preparation
Boiling 7 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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Sampled from the Here’s Hoping TTB.

Had a gongfu session with a porcelain gaiwan. Gave the leaf a quick rinse. Followed the website’s instructions: 5 seconds, 7, 9, 12, 18, 28, 28, etc.

Not only is the leaf richly aromatic all around, but the aroma is intriguingly complex. The dry leaf has notes of molasses, brown, sugar, sweet potato, and a bit of malt. Sitting in the pre-heated gaiwan, the leaf aroma then becomes sour and sweet – like raisins and cranberries – and also has a fragrance of freshly baked bread. The wet leaf aroma is similar, smelling of fresh cranberry muffins.

The liquor is bright golden-orange, clear, and medium-bodied. While the aroma of the Dian Hong is complex, the taste is much simpler. The flavors do evolve with a gongfu session, but each infusion yields an uncomplicated brew. The first cup is light in flavor, with the sour cranberry note making an appearance. Beginning with the second cup, the flavors are more developed. The second tastes purely of sweet potato. The third and fourth are creamy in texture, bread-like, woody, and sweet potato-like. With cups five through seven, the flavors undergo a drastic change. This Dian Hong shifts from classic sweet potato to a sweet/fruity hongcha. The aftertaste, throughout the session, is very short-lived.

I recommend this to hongcha/Dian Hong lovers and especially beginners to hongcha. As someone who probably appreciates aroma more than taste, I loved this. But since I also evaluate taste by similar weight, I found this to be alright – not spectacular. It’s easy-going. I did enjoy what I had, though I wouldn’t purchase. To more experienced drinkers, this might suit your fancy more than mine.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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Sample provided for reviewing. Thank you, Angel!

Gongfu’d this in a porcelain gaiwan. Gave the leaf flash rinse. Steeping parameters are from the website: 15 seconds, 20, 30, 45, 60 (also did additional steepings at 90 and 120 seconds).

The first time I tried this Tie Guan Yin, I thought the leaf smelled and tasted rather fresh and green for a baked oolong, and that it would need to air after being kept in the airtight packet. This review is based on the session two weeks later (at the time I’m writing this).

The dry leaf smells floral and a little roasted. The roasted note becomes more pronounced after the leaf rests in the pre-heated gaiwan, and a fresh strawberry also pops out here. The wet leaf aroma smells even more baked, a touch more floral, and less fruity.

The liquor is golden in color and has a medium body, light feel, and thick texture. The first infusion is lightest in feel but incredibly juicy, tasting like fresh strawberry juice (reminds me of the juice leftover in a strawberry salad, over which you would sprinkle some white sugar), and the aftertaste is immediate and strong and very sweet. The aftertaste isn’t long lasting – it’s like a burst of flavor as you would get with gum. The second infusion is even juicier and sweeter. Beginning with the third infusion, floral notes show up – staying until the end of the session – and the floral and fruity notes are nicely balanced.

Abstractedly, this Tie Guan Yin tastes and feels like midsummer. Not only because of the height of vegetation growth, but also that’s the time of year in which I eat strawberry salads. This being my first roasted/baked oolong, I was expecting something much less floral and fruity. It barely smells roasted and tastes even less so. A few leaves are tinged with a red though. Floral rolled Chinese oolongs aren’t my favorite tea, but I found this to be alright. If it sounds like your type of oolong, go for it. Nice quality – very clean and bright.

Preparation
Boiling 4 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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Sample provided by Teavivre. Thank you, Angel!

Brewed 3.5g in a 60ml gaiwan. Gave the leaf a flash rinse. Followed the website’s steeping times: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 35, 45 (went beyond to do 1 minute, 2, 4, and 9).

It’s not at all surprising to smell campfire when I open the packet. It’s nicely smokey, very unoffensive. The smoke becomes muted when I let the leaf sit in the pre-heated gaiwan, bringing out a scent of BBQ’d pork ribs covered with sweet BBQ sauce. The wet leaf aroma smells like unburned pine wood and a touch of honey.

The liquor is the color of creamy orange. It’s not at all opaque, clear rather, but it is a soft-looking orange. Medium-bodied, considering the leaf and not the smoke. Has a smooth texture. The flavors don’t change throughout the session. They instead remain very much the same: pine smoke, dry wood, charcoal (burned wood bits), BBQ’d pork. The smokey aftertaste is mellow. As I said on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/p/BP5gFNZhnIL/), this smoky Lapsang Souchong feels cozy and figuratively tastes like winter air filled with smoke arising from suburban houses’ chimneys.

I’ve had more un-smoky Lapsang Souchong (or Zhen Shan Xiao Zhong) than smoky and prefer those, but I did like this one. I wouldn’t buy it. I never feel like I want a smoky Lapsang Souchong – I just don’t enjoy it enough. For those who do, give this a try. The leaf quality isn’t high since the leaf consists of a lot of broken pieces, but given that it’s a lower grade that is smoke, it isn’t an issue.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C

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This is a part of a tasting activity. Free sample received. Thank you, Angel.

Prepared 4g in a 60ml porcelain gaiwan, then transferred the leaf to 120ml of the same material. Followed the website’s steeping times: 20 seconds, 40, 60, 80, 100, 120. I went with a couple more extended steepings at 4 minutes, 8, and 10 (gotta get it all out).

Going against my expectation, the dry leaf didn’t have much scent, even after resting in the pre-heated gaiwan. The leaf weakly smelled floral and a little buttery and bread-like. The wet leaf aroma is much, much stronger – very floral, evocative of a summer field.

The liquor is pale yellow, full-bodied, clean, and creamy. Throughout the session, there were tiny bits of leaf at the bottom of my cup. The first couple cups are gently floral with a peach aftertaste. They feel easygoing. Beginning with the fourth cup, the flavor has fully developed. The aftertaste really fills the mouth, like a perfume trapped in a bottle. I simply can’t pinpoint specific flowers (I guess this means I have to give myself homework of smelling flowers….or I need to drink more Tie Guan Yin), so I go by feeling, and this very much feels like a bright mid-summer’s day spent in the midst of a wide field. I was relaxed and warmed on this overcast winter morning. Lastly, what is interesting is that, from the fifth cup to the end, the aftertaste changes from a refreshing peach to a cooling sensation.

I haven’t had a Tie Guan Yin in so many months. Lightly oxidized rolled Chinese oolongs don’t appeal to me. Not that I don’t like them – I do, but they’re not a niche I want to explore. That saying, I mostly enjoyed my session with this Tie Guan Yin (I’m little disappointed with the lack of aroma). Pleasant, sweet, floral, a little fruity, and – surprisingly – menthol-like. The floral aspect doesn’t taste powerful or perfumed. It’s just right.

Preparation
Boiling 0 OZ / 0 ML

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Prepared in a gongfu session with a porcelain gaiwan. Steeping times: 10 seconds, 12, 10, 12,15, 25, 35, 45; 1 minute, 2, 5.

I grabbed ounce with my last order. Just opened the packet! I’m met with a number scents when I test the leaf’s aromas. The dry leaf is pleasingly sweet, smelling of rich cocoa, mashed sweet potatoes, and a little bit of malt. The pre-heated leaf smells more strongly of cocoa and malt, and there is an addition of cinnamon. The wet leaf aroma is simply tannic.

The liquor is light orange, full-bodied, clear, and fragrant with notes of sweet potatoes and honey. For the first few cups, I mostly taste sweet potato and a bit of malt, with honey lurking in the background. At the fourth cup, there is still sweet potato, but when I let the liquor sit in my mouth for a bit, I begin to taste cocoa nibs. Following the fifth cup to the end, the sweet potato and malty notes have totally gone, letting cocoa nibs and cocoa shells take over. Someone else on Steepster commented it tastes like Laoshan Black Chocolate Genchmaicha, and I concur. Very chocolate-like, but without additional ingredients. Additionally, the texture is thick and smooth.

I expected to taste sweet potato for the entire session, but was surprised when cocoa completely took over in the middle. What a switch! In my experience (still very much exploring), it’s either this or that for Dian Hong. I thoroughly enjoyed every cup, from start to finish. Delicious and complex.

Preparation
Boiling 3 g 60 OZ / 1774 ML

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Bio

I began drinking tea because its complexity fascinated me. I love learning about its history, its manufacturing processes, and its place in various cultures.

Japanese greens were my first love and gateway into the world.

My favorite teas are leafhopper oolongs, pu’erh (shou and sheng), and masala chai. My favorite herbal tisanes are spear/peppermint, lavender and chrysanthemum.

I’m currently exploring pu’erh, and any Chinese and Taiwanese teas in general. I’m not much into flavored teas, unlike when I first started. The only teas I truly dislike are fruity tisanes and the ones that have too much fruit. I do like hisbiscus, especially iced.

I like to write nature essays. I’m a birdwatcher as well as a tea enthusiast. The kiwi is one of my favorite birds. I also like Tolkien, Ancient Egypt, and exercising.

IMPORTANT NOTE, PLEASE READ: After two and a half years of having an account here, I will no longer will provide numerical ratings as an addition to the review because the American school system has skewed my thoughts on numbers out of a hundred and the colors throw me off. Curses! My words are more than sufficient. If I really like what I have, I will “recommend”, and if I don’t, “not recommended”.

Key for past ratings:

96-100 I adore absolutely everything about it. A permanent addition to my stash.

90-95 Superb quality and extremely enjoyable, but not something I’d necessarily like to have in my stash (might have to do with personal tastes, depending on what I say in the tasting note).

80-89 Delicious! Pleased with the overall quality.

70-79 Simply, I like it. There are qualities that I find good, but there also are things that aren’t, hence a lower rating that I would have otherwise like to put.

60-69 Overall “meh”. Not necessarily bad, but not necessarily good.

0-59 No.

If there is no rating: I don’t feel experienced enough to rate the tea, or said tea just goes beyond rating (in a positive way).

Location

Westchester, NY

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