221 Tasting Notes

100

Ah. Another day and another sample from Teavivre to try. I am one of THOSE tea lovers who really likes the smell and taste of pu-erh tea. My wife wouldn’t go near anything pu-erh with a ten-foot tea cup.

I’ve enjoyed other Teavivre pu-erh offerings in the past so I am anxious to give this 2007 version a shot! When I opened the silver sample package, there were short brown leaves inside. The aroma was tell-tale pu-erh: deep, rich, and leathery.

I followed the package’s instructions and steeped the leaves for five minutes at 212 degrees. The brewed color was a bright reddish brown. The odor was leathery and earthy.

The flavor was pu-erh all the way which is just the way I like it. A strong leather and earth taste danced on my taste buds with every sip. What impressed me most about this selection was the silky smoothness to it.

I tried some pu-erh teas in the past that sacrificed a smooth taste for an overpowering one, resulting in a bitter side effect. (I won’t mention bitterness again because there was not a trace of it in this product.) This pu-erh was incredibly smooth and a pleasure to swallow. I had to slow down the consumption of my first cup as I found myself unintentionally guzzling it.

The aftertaste was also remarkably smooth, light, and gentle. I was sorry to see it go when it delicately drifted away.

This is the BEST pu-erh tea that I have tried to-date. 2007 must have been a banner year for this category. If you LIKE pu-erh tea, you will LOVE Yunnan Palace Ripened Pu-erh Loose Tea 2007!

Flavors: Earth, Leather

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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90

One of the benefits of ordering tea from Teavivre is they allow you to select free samples of their teas with your order. This presents the opportunity to take other choices from their constantly growing lineup out for a spin.

The description of this Jinhao Golden Tip Black Tea intrigued me because it advertised a possible wide range of flavors to be experienced. I also chose this one because black tea is my favorite due to higher caffeine content and (usually) more robust flavors than the less oxidized types.

I opened the silver sample package and found long black and golden leaves inside. The aroma was rich and leathery like a lot of Chinese teas.

I brewed the leaves at 195 degrees for five minutes. (I am unable to steep at the recommended 194 degrees since my automatic tea maker was not designed with this temperature selection. Close enough.)

The final product had a golden brown color. The aroma had sweet and malty characteristics.

My first sip had a fleeting flavor like English Breakfast tea. Then, out of the multitude of tastes noted for this tea, my palate was able to pull three out of the hat: malt, fruit, and bread. The flavor was blended so well that I had to truly focus my taste buds to dissect it into separate entities. The end result was also sweet, smooth, and hardy.

With my first few sips, I thought I was experiencing just a tad of astringency. However, this sensation completely settled down before I was half way through my first cup. I believe Angel’s comment on the Teavivre website explains this part of the ride: “This is a rare infusing-durable organic black tea with charming fruity fragrance and sweet taste. The taste will turn mellower as time goes on.”

All in all, I found this tea to be a unique and tasty blend. After my first few sips, I just sat back and enjoyed it.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Fruity, Malt

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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82

I received a sample of this tea with my order from Teavivre. I was curious to see how pine needles relate to black tea.

When I opened the silver sample package, there were long brown leaves inside. No aroma immediately presented itself so I sent my nose on a seek and find mission deep inside the package. Ultimately my sniffing sensors were able to pull a very slight grassy smell from the leaves.

I pretty closely followed the recommended brewing instructions and steeped the leaves at 195 degrees for five minutes. (NOTE: My Breville Automatic Tea Maker does not have a setting for the recommended temperature of 194 degrees.)

The finished product had a bright amber color. The aroma was a bit like southern sweet tea but very faint.

My first two sips produced a dim and distant flavor that was somewhat malty with an extra twinge that was kinda sorta like pine. I am not sure that I would have arrived at the pine flavor conclusion if I hadn’t been expecting it.

As I continued with two cups worth of sips, the flavor did build up on my palate sufficiently to make it seem stronger than it was initially. There was no astringency to speak of. I attributed the twinge to the pine-like attribute. The aftertaste also contained no bitterness.

As I am seasonally sinus-challenged, I prefer strong and robust flavors in my teas. The flavors in this selection are a bit anemic and indistinct for my taste. However, the flavors are not unpleasant, include Teavivre’s trademark smoothness, and may be strong enough for other tea drinkers.

Flavors: Malt, Pine

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
TeaVivre

Compared with other Dian Hong tea, this tea has a lighter taste!

Stoo

Yes it does! Thanks, Angel!

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98
drank Golden Monkey Black Tea by Teavivre
221 tasting notes

Five years ago, I had the pleasure of trying Teavivre’s exceptional Premium Golden Monkey Black tea. That tea still stands out as the premier Golden Monkey tea that I’ve tasted.

Recently, Teavivre was selling its “standard” Golden Monkey tea selection at a great price. Even though I had been spoiled by the premium offering, the discount on this one was too good to resist. I decided to take a chance and reasoned that if it had at least an OK flavor, it would be worth the money.

When I opened the silver shipping bag, my nose was greeted with a semi-sweet and earthy Chinese black tea aroma. The leaves were long and brown with equal amounts of golden accompaniments.

I steeped the tea at 195 degrees for four minutes (one degree higher and one minute more than the recommended method) as I like my teas at maximum strength.

The brewed color was dark and golden. The smell was sweet and chocolaty and much more intoxicating than in its pre-liquefied state.

The closest word I could think of to describe the flavor of my first sip was SUPERB! The taste was rich with chocolate, caramel, honey, and other sweet accents, without making it a chocolate drink. The sum total of the flavor recalled my memories of a brown sugar ice cream cone.

This taste remained amazingly consistent through two rapidly demolished cupfuls. Even with the steady bombardment of the robust flavor, I didn’t detect any bitterness whatsoever. The entire experience was incredibly smooth. The aftertaste was delicate and it dissolved quietly.

This is an awesome Golden Monkey tea which I HIGHLY recommend. I will mainly be drinking it in the morning but this selection could just as easily be served to your favorite guests at your most special events.

I am very pleased with myself that I rolled the dice and purchased a pound of this tea at the discounted price. My only concern is that I will devour the entire pound too quickly!

Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Honey

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 24 OZ / 709 ML

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95

Many years ago, I had such enormous faith in the quality of music by The Beatles (still my all-time favorite band), that I would buy their new record albums (the vinyl kind) before I heard any of the songs. I was never disappointed. I always loved every track on every album.

During the last six years, I have grown to have the same confidence in teas by Teavivre. I’ve tried a lot of their teas and I don’t remember ever being disappointed. So, for the first time, I actually bought a pound of this Yunnan Gongfu Fragrant Black Tea without seeing, smelling, or tasting it. My wife expressed skepticism and astonishment when I told her I sent our hard earned money all the way to China for a whole pound of a product I never even sampled! I gently assured my more sensible half that she need not worry. I know what I’m doing (I hope).

When the pound arrived, it was shipped and packaged in five 3.5-ounce silver zip bags. So, it is in reality a total of 17.5 ounces- more than a pound. I decided not to convey this fact to my sweet spouse just yet.

After consolidating the five bags into one tall metal container, I noticed the sweet and fragrant aroma (hence its name) of the long black leaves with golden accompaniments. The smell was like honey and chocolate.

I steeped the leaves for five minutes at 195 degrees. These settings were within Teavivre’s recommended brewing range. The resulting liquor was a deep amber color. The aroma was sweet like honey.

As I hopefully and optimistically took my first small sips, my palate was flooded with the sensations of honey and chocolate. These flavors were perfectly blended and the entire experience was smooth as silk with no astringency lurking under the covers. Through my entire first and second cups, the very pleasant tastes remained consistent, smooth, and steady. The aftertaste was light and amiable. It seemed to softly dangle on my tongue until it tenderly dissipated.

I am very pleased (and relieved) to report that this is another exquisite tea from the folks at Teavivre which I highly recommend. If you like sweet, smooth, and full-bodied black teas (and who doesn’t?), you will love this one. Now I will tell my wife how brilliant her husband is to purchase 17.5 ounces of this terrific tea! ;-)

Flavors: Chocolate, Honey

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 6 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML
ashmanra

I read this through like it was a thriller! Is the tea good? Does Stoo live? LOL I am glad this story had a happy ending!

Stoo

LOL. Thanks for your comment, ashmanra! When I told my wife I really liked the tea and THEN told her I had actually purchased 17.5 ounces of it, she let me live. My tea and I happily rode off into the sunset together. LOL.

ashmanra

That’s the best!

Bluegreen

What a great description. I am also the lifelong fan of the Beatles who was also excited (and never disappointed) by their albums – including the singles their sung in German and the discarded studio takes. And I have the same trust in Teavivre. I guess good tea and Beatles go together well.

Stoo

Thanks for your comment, Bluegreen! The Beatles will always be my favorite band and Teavivre, in just six years of operation, has built a phenomenal catalog of fantastic teas!

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93

I was ecstatic to discover this unused tea sample while I was taking inventory of my tea cabinet! I’ll never know how I missed it before since I am a big fan of Teavivre black teas and usually start drinking them as soon as I pull them out of my mailbox. Maybe the tea fairy brought it to me. It doesn’t matter. I am just thrilled that I found it!

When I opened the small silver package, I was greeted with dark brown twisted and glossy leaves. The aroma was slightly sweet and earthy.

I steeped the leaves for about 5 minutes at 190 degrees. The brewed liquor was a light golden orange. The odor was like sweet wheat.

Beginning with the first sip and ending with the last, the flavor was consistently mild and smooth yet full and complete. The taste reminded me of pancakes lightly slathered with maple syrup. The sweet flavor was delicately balanced and not overpowering. The aftertaste was also mild and did not wear out its welcome. There was no astringency whatsoever.

This is simply another fantastic black tea from the folks at Teavivre. It is one of those exceptional selections that seem to get even better after the first steeping. The maple syrup/pancakes flavor attributes make this offering perfect (in my mind) for breakfast. However, I wouldn’t turn this one down at midnight either.

Flavors: Pancake Syrup, Sweet

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
TeaVivre

This is my favorite black tea and I do appreciate its wonderful taste and fragrance!

Stoo

Hi Angel! This is definitely a great black tea! I was amazed that the flavor was still bold and smooth after the fourth steeping!

TeaVivre

Because it used the Ancient Wild Tree as raw material, so it can endure multiple tasty infusions!

Stoo

That’s good to know! I’ll keep it in mind when I drink Ancient Wild Tree tea in the future! Thanks!

TeaVivre

haha, enjoy your tea time!

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93
drank Earl Grey Creme by Teavana
221 tasting notes

My always generous and considerate wife wanted to buy me a pound of tea for my birthday while we were browsing through the local Teavana store. 99.9% of the time at this stage of my life, I buy black teas. I do this because I am still working and need a considerable amount of shock treatment in the morning to jolt my brain into multi-tasking analysis mode. One of my retirement fantasies is to drink green, white, and oolong teas throughout my day while I lounge on the beach (any beach)…but I digress.

Getting back to the tea du jour, the Teavana store had just been remodeled and only three or four black teas were on hand. I was in the market for another earl grey selection, and the “creme” bonus in the title was tantalizing enough to help me make my choice…and it was 50% off.

When I opened the official metal Teavana container that my wife purchased with the tea, the leaves were long and chocolate brown. There also was a plentiful presence of yellow flowers spread throughout them. The aroma was very strong in a sweet sort of way. It reminded me of egg nog that had a shot or three too much booze poured into the mixture.

I steeped the leaves at 195 degrees (which was recommended) for four minutes (which was not recommended – Teavana suggested three minutes). The result was a brew with a rich bright amber color. The odor was strong with fruity and flowery attributes.

From the very first sip, this tea’s flavor was robust and full-bodied but surprisingly smooth. The taste accents were fruity and flowery, with a pinch of vanilla, but not in an annoying way. There also was a honey-like sweetness left on my tongue after each gulp. My palate has been alcohol-free for 24 years but my mind hearkened back to the warm taste of a small snifter of after-dinner brandy. The aftertaste of this tea was amazingly brief and gentle after such pronounced flavors.

I have to rate this blend as one of my absolute favorite Teavana teas. I found the experience to be delightful from the top of my first cuppa to the last drop of my fourth. The brew was so entirely smooth that I had to suspend my normal disdain for teas that shout at me with flowery and fruity flavors.

This tea is definitely a winner! Although I will mostly prescribe it to myself as a morning liquid defibrillator, I will also be proud to serve it at night after one of my wife’s famously elegant dinners.

Flavors: Flowers, Fruity, Honey, Sweet, Vanilla

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML
ashmanra

What a great gift! Happy birthday, albeit belatedly! May those dreams of tea on the beach come true!

Stoo

Thanks, ashmanra! I hope you are doing well too!

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90
drank Breakfast Blend by Numi Organic Tea
221 tasting notes

NOTE: This review is on the LOOSE LEAF version of the tea.

I enjoy Numi’s organic black teas, in bags or loose leaf, particularly their Chinese Breakfast selection. They also offer some of the best prices I’ve found for a pound of loose leaf tea during their periodic sales. A sale was going on this week so I thought this would be a perfect time to try another Numi product.

The tea leaves in the one pound bag were short and black. The smell was rich and tea-like. No specific aroma jumped out at me.

I steeped the leaves at 212 degrees for five minutes. The brewed aroma had a slightly sweet vegetable quality to it. The color was bright amber.

My whole cup of this tea maintained a pronounced and distinctive taste throughout. The flavor reminded me of sweet potatoes lightly sprinkled with maple syrup. The overall effect was quite smooth and only slightly sweet. I didn’t detect any harshness. The aftertaste was brief and appealing.

This Numi blend turned out to be even better than I hoped. The achievement made the extremely reasonable sale price that much more delightful. I am going to add this brew to my official morning tea rotation. I predict that I will be ordering another pound before this time next year.

Flavors: Maple Syrup, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

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70

Just some quick notes I jotted down while I was working about this bagged tea sample I picked up in the kiosk at our local Sam’s Club:

- North and South Indian tea blend
- Well-constructed silk pyramid bag with a clever notch on the tag to keep it from falling into the cup
- I steeped it for 7 minutes (by accident- lost track of the time) in boiling water
- Surprisingly mild flavor for 7 minutes of brewing
- Tasted slightly harsh
- Mild aftertaste
- Overall standard black tea taste- no flavor attributes shouted for attention
- Neither exceptional nor exciting

I should qualify this review by admitting I had a fine cup of Oliver Pluff English Breakfast loose leaf tea 15 minutes before this one, and Pluff was still on my palate (and mind).

Flavors: Tea

Preparation
Boiling 7 min, 0 sec

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91

I don’t drink a lot of green tea. I prefer the high-octane black teas, particularly while I am working. But, I liked the name of this free sample from Teavivre and knew (based on the great track record Teavivre has, with me enjoying virtually all of their offerings) that this one was worth a try.

When I opened the silver sample package, the long wrinkled green leaves strongly reminded me of something that is smoked instead of drunk. The unbrewed odor also kind of reminded me of the same…uh…herb.

I followed Teavivre’s guidelines and brewed the leaves for five minutes (the recommended maximum) at 195 degrees (the instructions said 194 degrees but what’s one degree between friends?).

The steeped color was a brilliant gold. The flavor was nutty and slightly grassy but exceptionally smooth. I didn’t detect any other flavors riding piggyback on this. However, there also was an underlying tangy sweetness to the taste that I liked immensely. The slightly sweet and airy aftertaste floated gently on my palate until it regrettably drifted away.

Teavivre has done it again! They have taken a tea that is usually low on my priority list and made it so enjoyable that I heartily recommend it.

If I ever get to retire one day, and no longer need the full-body thunderbolt that black tea gives me in the morning, I will positively include AT LEAST ONE green tea to leisurely sip while I slowly churn back and forth in my rocker. Thank you, Teavivre!

Flavors: Grass, Nutty, Sweet, Tangy

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 15 OZ / 443 ML

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Bio

I ventured into the world of serious tea drinking in the Summer of 2011. I started out slowly and gently with bagged tea but climbed to the incredible flavorful heights of loose leaf teas in October of that year. Once you go leaf, you never go bag (except when you get free samples)!

Location

South Carolina, USA

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