94 Tasting Notes

90

This is a sipdown of a TGY I bought in the spring of 2016. I steeped 5 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 120, and 240 seconds.

The first steep is grassy, tangy, and very floral. In the second, notes of orchids, violets, cream, peach, and grass become more prominent. (I never actually thought I’d use the descriptor “sweet, warm grass,” but that’s exactly what this is.) Though the tea isn’t astringent, it has a drying quality in the mouth. The wonderful peachy florals continue for around six steeps, and are joined by herbaceous and vegetal notes later in the session.

I’m finding that the better (and pricier) the Tie Guan Yin, the harder it is to pick apart the flavours. Maybe for this type of tea, quality is measured by its smoothness and consistency rather than its variety or evolution. Anyway, I’m sure this tea also deteriorated somewhat due to age. I look forward to opening my 7 g packet of 2016 Competition TGY.

Flavors: Cream, Drying, Floral, Herbaceous, Orchid, Peach, Round , Sweet, warm grass, Tangy, Vegetal, Violet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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81

I’m surprised this is the first review of this tea. Thanks, TeaVivre, for sending it as part of a free sample promotion earlier this year. I put the entire 7 g sample in a 120 ml teapot, which it filled right to the brim. Steeps were at 200F for 7, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 120, and 240 seconds.

This lives up to its name, with honey, orchid, mild roast, and lychee-like sweetness. There’s a slight astringency in the aftertaste, which is not surprising given the amount of leaf. In later infusions, notes of wood, minerals, and veggies emerge.

Although this was by no means a complex tea, its honey and orchid character was pronounced and pleasant. I’ll have no problem finishing the two other samples I have on hand, and would consider buying more if I didn’t already own three other iterations of this type of tea.

Flavors: Astringent, Honey, Lychee, Mineral, Orchid, Roasted, Vegetal, Wood

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 7 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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78

This is the final Tie Guan Yin in my set of free samples. (Thanks, Teavivre!) I steeped 7 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 8, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 120, and 240 seconds.

While the first steep is slightly floral, tangy, and vegetal, the tea really gains its stride in steeps 2-3, with strong grassy, butter, tangerine, orchid, floral, coriander, and tannin notes. Seven grams may have been a bit too much leaf, since the aftertaste is bitter and vegetal. By steep six, a lot of the fruit is starting to disipate, to be replaced by minerals and grass. The astringency is a lot more noticeable in this TGY than in the two others I tried.

Although this Tie Guan Yin had a promising beginning, it didn’t have the staying power of its two siblings. It was also the most vegetal of the bunch. While this would make a good everyday tea, I think TeaVivre offers better options at around the same price point.

Flavors: Astringent, Butter, Citrus, Coriander, Floral, Grass, Mineral, Orchid, Tangy, Vegetal

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 7 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
Bluegreen

Thanks for the thorough reviews of Teavivre’s TGY teas. I also got some gift cards etc. at the recent generous Teavivre promotion and was actually considering getting one of their TGYs and your reviews came at just the right moment.

I think Teavivre’s teas are quite solid and factoring in all of their promotions/sales are insanely cheap. I just placed an order and realized that it came out 3 times cheaper per gram than my last Yunnan Sourcing order – at about the same quality. Just crazy.

Leafhopper

I’m glad you found my reviews helpful. You’re right, with their promotions and free samples, TeaVivre can be a lot cheaper than YS. I think their oolongs are hit or miss, with some being decent and a few being excellent (like the Anxi Monkey King TGY). I really can’t comment on their greens because I don’t drink a lot of green tea, and I haven’t explored much of the rest of their catalog.

Have you had any outstanding teas from TeaVivre that I should consider adding to my order?

Bluegreen

Well, you green teas are Teavivre’s strength although it doesn’t do much for you. I think that their selection of Keemuns, Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong and Golden Monkey is also solid. Their oolongs and puerhs are uneven as you have already noticed.

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90

This is the second of the three teas in my Tie Guan Yin showdown. (Thanks to TeaVivre for the samples.) The leaf is more broken up than the Zheng Wei TGY, although the orchid/vegetal aroma is very similar. I steeped 7 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 8, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 120, and 240 seconds.

The first couple steeps feature orchids and other florals, citrus, herbs, stonefruit, and a vegetal backbone. Its heavy and slightly soapy body reminds me of Chou Shi Dan Cong from Yunnan Sourcing, which is a tea I really like. The citrus, florals, and herbs intensify over the next few steeps, and the stonefruit resolves into peach or maybe nectarine. By steep four, minerals, spinach, and possibly jasmine emerge. Can you tell I’m enjoying this tea? The flavour stays consistent for around eight steeps before experiencing the typical vegetal fade-out.

This was a very enjoyable Tie Guan Yin and a strong contender among the samples. It has the fruity tang I want in a TGY, while still possessing lots of florals.

ETA: For me, this one was the winner.

Flavors: Citrus, Floral, Herbaceous, Jasmine, Mineral, Orchid, Peach, Soap, Spinach, Stonefruits, Tangy, Vegetal

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 7 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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84

I took advantage of the free sample promotion that Teavivre was running a while ago to pick up three Tie Guan Yins, with the aim of choosing one to get me through until 2019. (Thanks, TeaVivre, for the free samples!) I steeped 7 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 8, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 120, 180, and 240 seconds.

The first steep is fairly vegetal, with notes of orchids, florals, and grass. The slightly bitter aftertaste probably means that I used too much tea. In the next few steeps, the orchid gets more pungent and notes of butter, lilacs, and violets show up. The aftertaste is long, with no bitterness after the first couple infusions. The tea holds steady for about eight steeps before it starts to fade.

This was a very floral-heavy Tie Guan Yin that hit most of the right notes for me. However, I didn’t get any of the fruit that other reviewers mentioned. I didn’t find it all that complex and while it’s clearly a good tea that gives lots of steeps, there might be more interesting TGY’s out there.

Flavors: Butter, Floral, Grass, Mineral, Orchids, Vegetal, Violet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 7 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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81

This is another of the teas in the India taster kit. While I enjoy trying things from less well-known growing regions, the reviews of past offerings from the Temi tea garden didn’t look promising. For this reason, I probably wouldn’t have purchased this on its own.

I made two attempts to brew this tea correctly. Both times, I steeped two teaspoons of the unbroken khakhi leaves in 355 ml of 200F water. In the first session, I steeped it for 3 and 6 minutes, respectively, but because the flavours weren’t coming through, I upped the time to 4 and 6 minutes in the second round. My notes are for session number two.

First off, the aroma is wonderful, with notes of sweet muscatel and papaya. In the mouth, wood, tannins, grass, dried flowers, and lemon balance the profile. The longer steep time did produce a bit more astringency. The second steep is a muted version of the first, though I could detect faint hints of the spice promised in the product description.

This is an enjoyable Darjeeling-like tea that I won’t have any trouble finishing. It’s not mindblowing, but it’s better than I was led to believe by some of the reviews of previous lots.

Flavors: Flowers, Grass, Lemon, Muscatel, Spices, Tannin, Tropical, Wood

Preparation
4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 355 ML

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75

Woohoo! I finally have some spring 2018 teas! Camellia Sinensis is one of my favourite Canadian tea retailers, not least because I don’t have to deal with the U.S. exchange rate.

This Darjeeling is part of a three-tea India taster kit. If I remember rightly, the EX preface on the invoice number means that it’s harvested before the standard DJ invoices, and the fluffy green leaves bear this out. I steeped two teaspoons in 355 ml of 203F water for 4 and 6 minutes.

The first steep has notes of salt, minerals, umami, muscatel, dried flowers, and herbs, with a drying astringency. The aftertaste is especially green and herbaceous. My initial four-minute steep may have been a mistake, and next time, I’ll cut it down to three. The second steep is also vegetal, herbaceous, and astringent.

A very green first flush Darjeeling, this tea would probably benefit from shorter steeps and lower temperatures. As is, I like the herbaceous character, but wish there was more fruit to balance it out.

Flavors: Astringent, Floral, Green, Herbaceous, Mineral, Muscatel, Salty, Umami, Vegetal

Preparation
4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 355 ML

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Since I discovered Teavana’s Monkey Picked Oolong four years ago, I’ve been fascinated by loose-leaf tea. I’m glad to say that my oolong tastes have evolved, and that I now like nearly every tea that comes from Taiwan, oolong or not, particularly the bug-bitten varieties. I also find myself drinking Yunnan blacks and Darjeelings from time to time, as well as a few other curiosities.

However, while online reviews might make me feel like an expert, I know that I still have some work to do to actually pick up those flavours myself. I hope that by making me describe what I’m tasting, Steepster can improve my appreciation of teas I already enjoy and make me more open to new possibilities (maybe even puerh!).

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