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Recent Tasting Notes
Chun Ya is a green tea I haven’t heard about that often, and the dearth of notes on it suggests I’m not the only one. I steeped around 3 g of leaf in an 85 ml teapot at 185F for 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 80, 120, and 240 seconds. I also steeped about 2 g of tea in 200 ml of 185F water starting at 4 minutes, adding hot water as needed.
The dry aroma is of flowers, green beans, and chestnuts. The first gongfu steep has notes of green beans, spinach, chestnuts, grass, and faint florals. The next steep has a hoppy/piny bitterness and adds brussels sprouts and watercress. The next couple steeps have notes of hops, cilantro, spinach, asparagus, and chestnuts and are getting bitter. The final few steeps are predictably earthy and bitter, with notes of brussels sprouts, spinach, and grass.
As with the other green teas, bowl steeping brings out many of the pleasant notes (chestnuts, hops, florals, asparagus, spinach) without the increasingly unpleasant bitterness. What it lacks in complexity, it makes up for in drinkability.
I have to say that to my untrained palate, these green teas are much of a muchness. This one is less savoury than the Lu Shan Yun Wu but less nutty/sweet/elegant than the Huo Shan Huang Ya and Bi Luo Chun. I think I would repurchase all of these three teas instead of this one. I already cheated on this drink-all-my-green-teas project with a Red Jade hongcha from What-Cha and an Alishan from Tillerman (no regrets!). However, I will keep forging ahead. Thanks to Teavivre for the samples!
Flavors: Asparagus, Bitter, Butter, Chestnut, Earth, Floral, Grass, Green Beans, Herbaceous, Hops, Pine, Spinach, Vegetal
I don’t have a previous note for this tea, even though I ordered it based on the impression that I’d tried and liked it. I also remember having a very fresh Lu Shan Yun Wu from Yunnan Sourcing a few years ago. I steeped around 4 g in an 85 ml pot at 185F for the recommended 20, 30, and 50 seconds, plus extra steeps of 70, 90, 120, and 240 seconds. I also grandpa steeped around 1 g in 200 ml of water.
The dry leaf smells like veggies and nuts stir fried in butter, with green beans, soybeans, asparagus, and greens. The first steep has notes of chestnuts, butter, asparagus, green beans, soybeans, spinach, and umami. I imagine that this tea would go well with food, as others have found. The profile doesn’t change much over the session, though the bitterness increases near the end. The chestnuts and umami stick around, which is nice.
Grandpa steeping produces almost the same results, though without the bitterness. The body of the tea is especially thick in the early part of the session.
This is a simple but tasty tea whose resemblance to a stir-fry is oddly appealing. I will enjoy playing with my remaining 5 grams, but I think this is a once-a-year spring indulgence for me rather than a daily drinker.
Flavors: Asparagus, Butter, Chestnut, Green, Green Beans, Nutty, Savory, Soybean, Spinach, Thick, Umami, Vegetal
I remember getting samples of this tea in the past, but I don’t have a note for it. Maybe they’re still in the vaults. I steeped around 4 g of tea in an 85 ml teapot at 185F for 15, 15, 20, 30, 50, 70, 90, 120, and 240 seconds. I also grandpa steeped slightly less than a teaspoon of leaf in a 200 ml cup for 4 minutes, adding hot water as needed.
The dry aroma is of green beans, nuts, corn, spring flowers, and grass. The first gongfu steep has notes of green beans, asparagus, nuts, lilac, narcissus, and grass. The second adds corn and is slightly bitter. The next couple steeps are beany, buttery, and floral, with faint hints of melon. The body of this tea is pleasantly thick. The melon and florals persist into the next couple steeps, but the tea becomes increasingly bitter, with asparagus, kale, and grassy notes. The end of the session is all bitter veggies.
Surprisingly, steeping this tea grandpa style decreased the bitterness and brought out the corn, florals, and melon. Maybe this is because I used substantially less tea. It never got overwhelmingly bitter, instead fading to a grassy, saline finish.
This tea has many of the flavours I enjoy in high mountain oolong, though it’s definitely more vegetal. I was surprised that grandpa steeping didn’t increase the bitterness, but instead highlighted the fruit and florals. I may need to try this method with the other Teavivre greens.
Flavors: Asparagus, Butter, Floral, Grass, Green Beans, Kale, Lilac, Melon, Narcissus, Nuts, Salty, Sweet Corn, Thick, Vegetal
A while ago, I won five spring 2022 tea samples in a draw, one of which is this yellow tea. (I then added two 10 g samples and got two more 5 g packets for free, giving me eleven 5 g pouches of tea and making it worth the small shipping fee.) This is my first yellow tea, and I’m not sure what to expect. I more or less followed Teavivre’s instructions and steeped 5 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 185F for 60, 70, 80, 90, 120, and 240 seconds, plus a few uncounted steeps.
The aroma of these trichome-heavy leaves is of chestnuts, spinach, grass, and bok choy. It smells like a fresh green tea, which makes me think of spring. The first steep has a thick body and flavours of candied chestnuts, spinach, bok choy, grass, green beans, umami, butter, and faint florals. The second steep is even sweeter and reminds me of a Long Jing, with more nuts, minerals, honey, and umami. The minerals and veggies increase in the next couple steeps, though the tea is still nutty and floral. The flavours fade gradually over the session, though the final steeps are still fairly sweet.
Although I still probably couldn’t pick a yellow tea out of a lineup of greens, I enjoyed this sample and will look for more yellow teas in the future. I still don’t like drinking my veggies, but the nutty sweetness of this tea made me happy. I’ve decided not to rate these teas since I have so little of them, but this one would rank in the low to mid eighties.
Flavors: Bok Choy, Butter, Chestnut, Floral, Grass, Green Beans, Honey, Mineral, Spinach, Sweet, Thick, Umami, Vegetal
Pulled this single teabag sample out to drink this morning, as the temperature has dropped and turned rainy and I wanted something dark and warm.
I’m not sure why my brain never realized “Rice Ripened” would be the same as “Sticky Rice,” and I made the realization only after opening the packet and smelling that distinct sticky rice aroma. I like sticky rice pu’erh a lot, so it was a happy realization.
I found the pu’erh very smooth… it had a richly metallic note with earthy undertones, but lacked the potting soil/dirt flavor I often get. I actually found the sticky rice flavor itself not as prominent as I’ve found in other sticky rice pu’erh I’ve had in the past… not sure if that is due to the other ones being tuos rather than a loose teabag, the age of this sample, or if it simply is a lighter scenting than I’m used to. I actually liked the milder touch, it still had that distinct flavor in the aftertaste but wasn’t so overwhelming in the taste and aroma (though I certainly have moods where I like the mi xiang herb really strong).
A pleasant morning cup for a drizzly Sunday morning.
Flavors: Earth, Herbaceous, Metallic, Mineral, Rice, Smooth
This was easily the hardest on the monthly sipdown prompt list for me, “a tea with grape/muscatel notes.” I’ve already sipped down my older grapy-grape Lupicia teas, and when I brewed a cup of the only darjeeling left in my house, it just didn’t have any muscatel notes to it. I recalled that I very often smell and taste a grape flavor in jasmine tea (I’m not sure why, but I have noticed there are some other people out there that have this response as well, so at least I’m not alone) so I decided to brew this long ago sampler from Teavivre.
I recall I picked out this sampler in the first place because my early experiences with jasmine were very not good — as in, it was like inhaling the strongest, worst grandma perfume ever and gave me a migraine — and I thought the proclaimed peach flavoring might tame it a bit. I’m not sure if my tastes have changed since then or it was just bad luck with a far-too-strong jasmine, as I’ve had better luck since then (especially on black bases). Sniffing the dry leaf, I definitely get that distinct flowery jasmine aroma, but I also smell that “grape candy” sort of aroma in it, as well. I definitely don’t smell any peach, though.
Brewed, it still smells heavily of jasmine… not as strong as the “grandma perfume” cup from my memory, but there is a perfume-like quality to it. I also smell grape and bubblegum in the aroma. I’m still not smelling peach… maybe there is some sweetness there contributing to the candy aromas?
The flavor is heady jasmine with a noticable flavor from the green base. There is a slight sweet grassiness but leans more closely to a fresh garden/vegetal quality. The jasmine is strong but isn’t giving me perfume headache, so I’m enjoying the flavor a lot. On the tongue it doesn’t taste as strongly of grapes as I’ve gotten from jasmine black teas, but I do still get that mild grape candy/bubblegum sweet flavor from the tea. There’s peach in this?! Really?! Maybe its just from the age of the sampler, but I don’t get even a hint of stonefruit.
It’s a pleasant cup but I see no reason to have this over other jasmine pearls, as the differential here was the peach, and that is entirely non-present for me.
Flavors: Bubblegum, Candy, Floral, Garden Peas, Grapes, Jasmine, Sweet, Warm Grass, Vegetal
Using this tea as “a tea that reminds you of yourself.” It’s tart in that puckery sort of way which turns a lot of people off, and it is incredibly unique (at least in small town Idaho, where exotic fruits such as Chinese hawthorn are just not a thing). I feel pretty awkward around others and feel like I come off abrasive even if I don’t mean to, and that I just don’t really “fit in” in the area I live. I’m an acquired taste, I guess…?
I got a sample of this from Teavivre, and it didn’t look like very much dried fruit was in the packet, so I cold brewed the whole sample in 500ml of water instead of a litre like I usually prepare cold brew. I like it! But I don’t think I could recommend it to most, as I find this a strong citrusy flavor with a tart, puckery flavor. It tastes sort of like really watery lemon juice that transitions into a sort of tangerine/orange peel flavor that lingers on the tongue. Maybe a hint of pine in there, as well?
If you are the sort of person that finds hibiscus too tart, then this tea will be too tart. I’d say that fans of pleasantly sour things should give it a try. I wouldn’t mind having more of this!
Flavors: Citrus, Lemon, Orange Zest, Pine, Pleasantly Sour, Tangerine, Tart
I’m steeping up this gifted floral tea in my newly received commissioned Magikarp cup! Even though this funky little teacup took a several month long journey through the postal session to arrive, I couldn’t be more pleased. It’s exactly what I had in mind, and the little finishes of gold were the perfect surprise cherry on top! The tea is also just devine; the jasmine is fragrant and playful, and when you really push the steep times extra long both the black tea and floral notes them selves seem to become much sweeter and mouth coating!
Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CeZWpTUuiJu/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hA7z304Gkbk
This was one of several different teas that was kindly gifted to me by Teavivre recently! They asked if I would have an interest in trying anything from their site, and I listed this tea and three others that I had not yet tried. All teas that were a little more floral in nature since I was definitely feeling the Springtime floral vibes on that particular afternoon…
I love dragon balls so, soooo much for their convenience. They’re perfectly portioned for a gaiwan or to brew grandpa style in a giant Western mug (like I did this time), but also wicked convenient for me to grab in the morning and take for my in office days. Bonus points that this was a black tea and even more bonus points that it’s a jasmine black, which is pretty hard to find.
It’s honestly a wonderfully smooth black tea with a very round and malty profile that has undertones of bitter cacao and raisins along with a woodiness in the body as well. Plus, of course, jasmine. It’s a light and more surface level floral jasmine that doesn’t seem to necessarily penetrate the entirety of the tea, but I like how it breaks up some of those more dense tasting notes and makes the whole cup feel a little fresher and lighter. Plus, the jasmine blossoms themselves are really pretty! Keep in mind, however, they do not sink to the bottom of the cup like the rest of the tea when you drink this grandpa style. So, you’re either swallowing the blossoms or you have to utilize nature’s tea filter – your teeth!
Steeped this one earlier in the afternoon! Earlier this week I got some tea mail with several oolong and black teas that Teavivre was kind enough to gift me. I couldn’t resist diving into the Jasmine Black Dragonballs immediately to steep grandpa style, but this is the first of the samples I’ve sat down with to brew gongfu and it’s really lovely! Though a bit more nutty and mineral with heavier roast in the early infusions, I love how this oolong settles into something more floral but still with that darkness to it. The thing that came to mind was, like, if you grilled a rose? Delicious and super accessible!
Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/Cc8gHILO8oR/
I’ve been craving some straight black teas and have pretty much “wiped out” that selection from my cupboard, but I did still have some sampler packets stashed away. Decided to brew this one, heathen-style (western) this morning, as I just CBA to pull out all the gong fu stuff. Using this for “a raisin-y tea” from the prompt list.
It has a lovely brewed aroma. Smells like oranges, spice, graham biscuits and a subtle floral rose. The flavor is malty with a bit of that “sweet ’n sour orange sauce BBQ” flavor I often taste in Chinese black tea. If I let it settle across my tongue and focus past the umami and citrus, I get some baked bread and golden raisin notes. There is a faint whisper of rose near the end of the sip. The sip also has a lovely mellow smokiness to it. The tea is thick and coating, with a very slight astrigency toward the end of the sip and aftertaste.
It’s a lovely cup. It’s been a while since I enjoyed a Chinese black.
Flavors: Astringent, Bread, Citrus, Floral, Graham, Malt, Orange, Raisins, Rose, Smoke, Spices, Thick, Umami
It looks like this tea needs a sip down and I am just a few cups from finishing it off so now is a good time for a note. I’d call this a daily drinker, easy to brew, and quite adequate tasting. It has malty chocolate notes with a nice full Yunnan mouthfeel. I did have a cup of San Fran herb Yunnan this morning as it’s my go to daily cup, and I’d be hard pressed to find a difference between the two. I’ll enjoy sipping this down but it’s not something I’ll go out of my way to purchase again.
This was actually the Ripe Pu-erh that got me to like Ripes!
Originally it was only my wife that liked Pu-erh, and I only begrudgingly drank it to keep her company. Once I tried this one, maybe with a more mature tea palate, I realized what there is to like. I still honestly don’t prefer the first few infusions, which have a much more woody and mulchy note to them… but then after the third or forth the sweetness and creaminess starts hitting. It’s long lasting too! I’ve been sipping on this particular session for probably 10 relatively large infusions and it still has some power.
Flavors: Cream, Creamy, Moss, Wood
TL;DR: A roastier version of Teavivre’s Honey Orchid Oolong, in the best way
This tea is seriously fantastic. It starts off quite floral in scent, and then has a roasted quality in the steep to go a long wit it. It works really well in terms of the flavor to have the roast and the floral mix in the mouth. Definitely a floral aftertaste. Has some stone fruit-type sweetness, maybe some darker brown sugar. It also has a great mouthfeel, but it mostly is a component of the floral scent that stays in the palette.
6 g of leaf in a Gongfu2Go (150 mL), for 10 seconds-ish per steep. Then added as needed as it got a bit weaker.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Floral, Honey, Orchid, Peach, Plum, Roasty
Not even listed in my cupboard? This is one of my older teas and it was a sipdown today. (Yay! But also, boooo, because we really like it.) This will serve as my “tea gifted to you” because I am pretty sure Superanna gave me this for Christmas one year. Probably 1/4 of my tea is a gift from Superanna!
This is lovely at breakfast, and as much as I like Tung Ting from Tin Roof Teas, this one might nudge ahead. It is a little less roasty toasty but has cocoa in the aroma. I have had some DHP that smells like a cup of hot chocolate, and while this one doesn’t go that far, it definitely send little teasers of chocolate scent up while steeping.
A mineral, rocky tingle excites the tongue and makes this tea feel so multi-layered even though the body is rather thin. It resteeps well.
After the cupboard is under a bit more control, I want to re-order this one or something very similar.
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Another sample packet from Teavivre.
The jasmine here is lovely, sweet and creamy with a lush floral flavor. A bit of a juicy, fruity undertone as well. Apricot, perhaps? But I’m not getting a whole lot of flavor from the green tea itself, which is a shame. Apparently even though this is called bi luo chun, it only refers to the snail shape and it’s not the same tea as their plain bi luo chun.
Still yummy, but I wish there was more of a green or vegetal note going on.
Flavors: Apricot, Creamy, Floral, Fruity, Jasmine, Juicy, Lychee, Silky, Smooth, Sweet
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More chrysanthemum! This one had two big, beautiful blossoms with long spidery petals inside. The shape reminds me of some kind of anemone, so pretty.
I was surprised by how savory this one tastes compared to other chrysanthemum tisanes I’ve had from Teavivre. The predominant flavor for me is eucalyptus, with a nice aromatic herbal coolness to it. I get rosemary as well, which is something I don’t remember finding in other versions. There’s also that familiar mellow musty hay with a bit of honeyed sweetness, and a touch of pepper. I usually find chrysanthemum a bit sweet overall, while this one veers more into savory territory with its strong herbal notes.
It does taste a bit medicinal overall, but not necessarily in a bad way. I feel like my sinuses are being cleared as I sip it. Different from other chrysanthemum tisanes I’ve tried, but still yummy. I could imagine it being wonderful for when I’m feeling under the weather as well.
Flavors: Broth, Earthy, Eucalyptus, Hay, Herbs, Honey, Medicinal, Menthol, Musty, Pepper, Pine, Rosemary, Savory, Smooth, Straw
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Warm, cozy chrysanthemum tisane. The little sample packets were stuffed to the brim with small white blossoms.
The main flavor note for me is somewhere between chamomile and musty hay. It has a very soothing gentle and sweet herbaceous flavor. There’s a touch of sweetness that reminds me of licorice root as well. And of course, that signature pepperiness that I always find in chrysanthemum. Perhaps a touch of cooling, menthol-like flavor at the end of the sip?
It sounds like an odd combination, but it comes together in a somewhat complex yet easy-drinking tisane. There’s a brothiness to it that just feels so restorative to me, perfect for winding down at the end of the night.
Flavors: Anise, Broth, Chamomile, Grain, Hay, Herbaceous, Honey, Licorice Root, Menthol, Musty, Pepper, Savory, Straw, Sweet, Thick, Viscous
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Another pair of Teavivre samples down!
This is a lovely jasmine tea. The leaves are beautiful – white and downy and spiraled up into cute little rounds. As for the taste, the jasmine is very strong, but it’s sweet and juicy, almost fruity, and decidedly natural-tasting. I don’t taste much of the green tea because the jasmine is so powerful, but it’s quite smooth with a bit of minerality. Overall, this tastes like drinking pure jasmine nectar.
Delicious. I’m really not sure how I’ll pick which jasmine tea to get when I eventually get around to ordering from Teavivre…
Flavors: Floral, Flowers, Fruity, Jasmine, Juicy, Lychee, Mineral, Nectar, Round, Smooth, Spring Water, Sweet, Thick
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I used two flowers for one 12-ounce mug of tea.
Ahhh, chrysanthemum. Such a cozy and comforting tea, and really an autumnal flavor to me. I love the nectarous honey-sweetness paired with soft hay and hints of menthol, herbs, and pepper. Such an interesting combination of soft, sweet, and more savory aromatic notes. It has a slightly thick, viscous mouthfeel as well that makes it somehow more satisfying to sip on.
It makes such a cozy before-bed cuppa. Happy that I still have a few other samples of different chrysanthemum tisanes from Teavivre to sip through! :)
Flavors: Apple, Eucalyptus, Floral, Fruity, Hay, Herbs, Honey, Menthol, Nectar, Pepper, Rosemary, Straw, Sweet, Thick, Viscous
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Love this one!
I adore osmanthus, and I really should seek out more of it in tea form. Here it adds a wonderful honey-sweet, nectarous floral note. It’s juicy, almost fruity, and reminds me of a more floral apricot. The oolong makes a lovely base for it, its silky texture just adds to the feeling of drinking nectar. Otherwise it’s quite mild, with a gentle minerality and greenness that’s somewhere between grassy and vegetal.
So so yummy, I’ll definitely have to order a full-size pouch of this someday. ❤
Flavors: Apricot, Floral, Grass, Honey, Mineral, Nectar, Osmanthus, Silky, Smooth, Spring Water, Stonefruit, Sweet, Thick, Vegetal