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Recent Tasting Notes
According to their site, this ginseng oolong has 95% traditional oolong tea with 5% American ginseng. Small powdered non-uniformed green nuggets of oolong, coated with American ginseng powder. The nuggets smelled vegetal, floral, ginseng. The liquor was a clear apricot color.
Steep 1 and 2 was very sweet. There was also a strong menthol taste/feeling. The sweetness sat in the back of my throat for a long time after. The 3rd steep was not as sweet, slight tart notes came out, a TGY-ish tart, which I preferred far more than the overwhelmingly sweet taste. The 4th steep all I can think of is ‘green’, perhaps grass. From steep 4 on, the sweet taste was still there but not as strong, but the original sweetness was still just sitting back in my throat. Could it be the powdered ginseng just sitting in there? I don’t know. It felt strange, almost a stevia-feeling sweet which I don’t care for. I rarely experience sweet tea since I avoid them. Because of my taste buds, I don’t think I’m the right one person to judge this fairly. For example, if I order iced tea at a restaurant, I always say unsweetened with a ton of lemon. I am not one for sweet things (typically anyway, there are some exceptions like sesame mochi yum :P and that’s not often.) so this ginseng oolong was not for me. If you like ginseng and if you don’t mind something sweet, perhaps this would be for you. Some of the reviews said not sweet enough. That left me thinking [email protected]?#!? hehe.
The 8th steep was the best to me which I had a few hours later after a break. The original long-lasting sweet feeling was gone, and there was just a normal oolong flavor with a bit of ginseng left.
Porcelain gaiwan, 110ml, 212℉ / 100℃, 7g Tea, 8 steeps: rinse, 25s, 35s, 45s, 55s, 65s, 75s, 85s, 95s
Flavors: Ginseng, Grass, Menthol, Root, Sweet, Tart, Vegetal
Home – 11:30 AM
I was really feeling like a straight black tea, so I allowed myself to select one from my pile of unopened samples. What a charming name – I’m picturing a cute little snail wearing cologne and dressed in tiny formalwear… XD
I’ve followed the parameters for this tea from Teavivre’s website. I will say that this is less tea than I would generally use for a pot, and the temperature is extremely low (185°F for a black tea). But I want to try it the recommended way at least once!
Next time I would definitely use more tea, and possibly also increase the temperature just a bit. I thought I remembered Keemun being a strong black tea with a malty and earthy taste, sort of like the Chinese answer to Assam. This is definitely not like that. This actually reminds me more of a Yunnan black tea, or even a Taiwanese black tea.
The color is quite light. There’s a lovely baked bread flavor, and the malty sweet potato that is characteristic of Yunnan. I taste a bit of caraway here as well, which always makes me think of Fujian black teas. They weren’t kidding when they called this one aromatic. It has some lovely light and sweet floral notes – I’m thinking honeysuckle. And at the end of the sip, there’s just a touch of cinnamon honey, reminding me a bit of a Taiwanese black tea.
This is an interesting one. It’s light but flavorful and has components that remind me of many different Chinese and Taiwanese black teas. I’m not sure I would choose this to stock in my cupboard though, as really it’s a bit too light for me, and I think I would rather stock a characteristic example of each variety of Chinese black tea.
I bet this would be really well-suited to gongfu preparation as well!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Floral, Honey, Honeysuckle, Malt, Smooth, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes
This was one of my most recent sipdowns. I finished the last of what I had of this tea last night. As the previous reviewer noted, the tea pellets were not as tightly rolled as one would expect from a tea of this type, looking a little more like small snails than round balls. As Chinese gunpowder green teas go, this one was a good bit quirkier, more likable, and more complex than most, but it was still by no means a truly spectacular offering.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. Teavivre recommended a water temperature of 194 F for this tea, but I tend to be more comfortable brewing Chinese green teas under 190 F, so I opted to use 185 F water for the entirety of the session. After rinsing 7 grams of loose tea pellets in 5 ounces of 185 F water, I started my session off with a 5 second infusion. Fourteen additional infusions followed. Steep times for these infusions were 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry pellets emitted aromas of cooked cabbage, straw, hay, roasted carrot, smoke, char, and honey. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of spinach and peas. The first infusion introduced a subtle grass scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of hay, straw, grass, spinach, peas, cooked cabbage, smoke, and roasted carrot that were chased by hints of honey, lemon, and caramel. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of cooked green beans, butter, and green olive. Stronger lemon notes appeared in the mouth along with belatedly emerging char hints. New impressions of minerals, butter, seaweed, cooked green beans, roasted barley, and green olive also appeared alongside hints of malt and wood. By the end of the review session, I was still able to detect subtle impressions of minerals, spinach, grass, and seaweed that were backed by fleeting honey, straw, roasted carrot, and cooked cabbage hints.
This was a pretty solid gunpowder green tea. It was a bit rough around the edges (some fairly pronounced astringency here and there), but overall, it was a likable tea. Gunpowder green teas are rarely ever super high end and are mostly just intended to be regular drinking teas anyway, so it is not really fair to expect them to compare to higher end Chinese green teas. For what this was, it was pretty good. I would imagine that fans of such teas would find it rather enjoyable.
Flavors: Butter, Caramel, Carrot, Char, Grass, Green Beans, Hay, Honey, Lemon, Malt, Mineral, Olives, Peas, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Seaweed, Smoke, Spinach, Straw, Vegetal, Wood
Sipdown! (I think). This was likely a free sample from Teavivre (thanks!) Unfortunately, the note I wrote about it when drinking it for the first time is likely lost in a work email I wrote to myself, which is where I put things when I couldn’t post to Steepster. Sigh. Anyhow, I’m sure it was quite delicious when I first had it; it was good this time but as the packet was opened, I can’t write an accurate review for it, but can just say yum, oolong.
I am eternally surprised how Chinese tea growers come up with so many different variations of Tie Guan Yin. And they are all good! Teavivre calls this tea “slightly roasted” but I found the roast to be pretty strong.
The wet leaf aroma is very distinct, intense and immensely pleasing: a campfire in wet woods, moist grass, sea, mineral. And it is not only leaves: the tea itself is quite fragrant. The taste follows the smell: grass, smoke, minerals, some sourness, some sweetness, a touch of bitterness. It blends together very well. After the tea is gone a long smokey, mineral and spicy aftertaste lingers, and lingers, and lingers… Because the aroma and taste are so well-defined and fairly complex this tea is quite evocative and awakens a swarm of memories and associations.
I usually not big on roasted oolongs because the roast often overwhelms the complexity of the tea, but in this Tie Guan Yin it actually brings together all other elements and creates a distinct and entertaining experience.
Flavors: Campfire, Mineral, Roasted, Spicy, Sweet, warm grass
I find it impossible that I have not posted a note about this one. I am drinking the very last of it! I made two steeps at breakfast and will sip it throughout the morning.
I was really craving some Keemun for breakfast! Honestly, sometimes I prefer a lower grade with waffles and such because they tend to be smokier and have that raspy feel that counteracts sweetness nicely. This one did the job and will be a pleasant companion as I rearrange and clean and declutter and take reading breaks today.
It is a lovely medium amber/orange color with a honey scent. It has a medium creamy body that coats the tongue and yet is brisk so there is a drying sensation at the end. A high note rises into the sinuses and at the mid-palate after your swallow. There is a little malt and a little woody taste, as well.
I was having trouble choosing a tea to go with our sesame chicken and lomein tonight so I asked hubby to choose between a plain green and a jasmine. He chose jasmine, I chose THIS jasmine.
This is one of the newer jasmine teas sold by Teavivre and replaces (I think) what used to be their entry kevel jasmine.
It is excellent for just what we used it for – a great accompaniment to a meal. There are lots of jasmine flowers in this. They look rather pretty in the infuser and then swell to a soft white cloud. There is lots of jasmine fragrance and it tastes just as I expect Teavivre jasmine to taste – natural and not soapy or perfumey.
It was great with the food. The briskness is completely unnoticeable while one is eating and it simply seems to clear the palate. After the meal when we were sipping it on its own, the briskness is more noticeable but is not unpleasant. Indeed, it is often considered desirable specifically for its palate cleansing properties.
It was so good, we resteeped and got another nice pot of tea to enjoy.
These tea “balls” are not as tightly rolled as most I’ve seen in the past. Closer to the snail like shape of other varieties.
The color is a medium-straw and flavor is mild, smooth, and slightly smoky without an aftertaste. It doesn’t have any qualities that make me prefer it over others, but it isn’t bad either.
Flavors: Grass, Smoke, Smooth
This little sample came to me packed as King Tut: first it was sealed in plastic, then placed in a vacuumed-sealed and richly decorated copper-colored foil package, which, in its turn, was inside a larger gray-colored foil package. After I finally extracted the tea from all of its layers of protection I had to admit that they worked well and preserved the aroma and flavor quite nicely.
The dry leaves smell of ocean, lilac, orchids and spice – a very distinct smell. That smell is preserved in the wet leaves , accompanied by leafy greens and grass. The mouthfeel is very creamy , while the taste is robust, complex and evolves in your mouth: grass, sweet flowers, seaweed, umami, butter, asparagus, broccoli, spice on the end. It has a long-lasting calming and vibrant aftertaste. This tea is very good Western and well-suited for multiple gaiwan steeps.
Overall, this is a very good, balanced and complex Tie Guan Yin. I had a great experience.
I probably would have given this a very high rating if I hadn’t tried their “award winning” jasmine tea first.
Tea flavor is very mild and smooth, giving way graciously to the beautiful aroma of the jasmine without any bitterness. Leaves a lovely light aroma on the back of the tongue for several minutes after drinking
Flavors: Grass, Jasmine, Smooth
Heady aroma of jasmine on the first inhale with the slightest hint of an earthy green behind.
The flavor is very pleasantly mild: no astringency from the jasmine. Overall, very gentle and smooth with more aroma from the jasmine than flavor.
Flavors: Jasmine, Sweet, warm grass
Okay, here’s the last review of the day. I promise. I must say that getting back into this has been both much easier and more fun than I thought it would be. This was another of my recent sipdowns. I finished what I had of this tea Thursday night. Overall, I found it to be a very respectable Zhejiang green tea that was incredibly easy to drink.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 7 grams of loose tea leaves and buds in 5 ounces of 176 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf and bud blend emitted aromas of cream, honey, peas, sugarcane, and sweet corn. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of grass, hay, green beans, and chestnut. The first infusion introduced subtle squash blossom and asparagus aromas. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered honey, pea, sweet corn, sugarcane, chestnut, hay, cream, and grass notes that were chased by hints of malt, asparagus, spinach, and green beans. The subsequent infusions introduced stronger asparagus and squash blossom scents to go along with new aromas of spinach, green olive, and seaweed. Stronger asparagus, malt, spinach, and green bean notes emerged in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging squash blossom impressions. New notes of minerals, umami, green olive, butter, and seaweed showed up as well. The final few infusions offered lingering mineral, malt, cream, hay, grass, and green bean notes that were underscored by hints of chestnut, sweet corn, spinach, and green olive.
I am more used to the Yunnan Mao Feng green teas that seem to permeate the Western tea market these days, but I must say again that I found this to be a very likable and pleasant green tea. I imagine that it would make a fantastic daily drinker for fans of softer, sweeter green teas that retain considerably complex vegetal and savory characteristics. Definitely consider giving it a shot if you are planning to explore some of Teavivre’s green tea offerings.
Flavors: Asparagus, Butter, Chestnut, Cream, Grass, Green Beans, Hay, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Olives, Peas, Seaweed, Spinach, Squash Blossom, Sugarcane, Sweet, Umami
It is a very smooth oolong with an understated but pleasant taste. The dry leaf and wet leaf smell is nothing remarkable: faint notes of grass, hay and roast. The appearance is rater interesting with a variety of colors in not-particularly-tightly rolled balls.
The taste is very smooth and understated. Grass, hay, roasted nuts, grain. Not very complex but quite pleasing. It is good Western style, good as gongfu and VERY good cold-brewed. Actually, this is one of the few teas that if you forget your cup and want to finish it later when the tea goes completely cold the drink is still satisfying. It is hard to mess this tea up with even the most inattentive and lazy preparation.
There is nothing wrong with this tea but nothing special either. Personally, I prefer teas with a more pronounced and/or more unique taste.
Flavors: Grain, Grass, Hay, Roasted nuts
Going from a lower end Keemun to this was a pretty drastic change. This is much smoother as well as more subtle, so much so that I hope a 7g sample will be enough for me to understand and appreciate this tea. Through the five or six steeps in my gaiwan, I smelled and tasted honey, grains, sweet potatoes, and a slight tangy fruitiness that most closely resembled plums and possibly cherries. Very mildly smoky; I don’t think that aspect would bother anyone who doesn’t like smoky teas. This is very good, but as someone who’s used to cheaper Keemun with a bolder character, my first impression is “this is Keemun?”.
Flavors: Cherry, Grain, Honey, Plums, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes
Aroma of wet aged grass and loam
Flavor is much improved by lower steep time: higher steep times result in a loam-like flavor I found to be very unpleasant. Short steep times still have a slight aftertaste of loam, but the main flavor is smooth, grassy, and autumnal.
Would only recommend provisionally
Flavors: Cut grass, Loam
Chocolate aroma note from dry leaf.
Strong spinach-vegetal note bloom in the flavour. Dark chocolate note at the end of the sip into the aftertaste. Sugary sweetness at the front of the profile on the sip.
Flavors: Chocolate, Spinach, Sugar
I have been on kind of a green tea kick for the past week as I ended up recently acquiring some green tea samples from Teavivre. I mostly ended up with things that were new to me or that I do not drink very often. Of the bunch, this was arguably the tea about which I knew the least. Unless I have tried one under a different name, I do not recall trying a Tian Mu Qing Ding prior to trying this one. Fortunately, I found it to be a unique and highly rewarding green tea.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of the loose leaf and bud mix in 4 ounces of 176 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf and bux mix emitted aromas of cream, butter, pine, olive, hay, chestnut, and honey. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of grass and sweet corn that were underscored by a subtle scent of malt. The first infusion introduced aromas of peas and green beans. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, butter, grass, hay, and chestnut that were underscored by hints of sweet corn and malt. Subtle honey sweetness, notes of pine, and a vague floral presence that reminded me of a mixture of squash blossom and honeysuckle lingered in the mouth after the swallow. Subsequent infusions brought out aromas of lettuce and sugarcane. The tea liquor grew sweeter and more floral with more pronounced and immediate honey, squash blossom, and honeysuckle flavors dominating the entry. Green bean, grass, pea, and olive notes then belatedly appeared with new mineral, apricot, nectar, sugarcane, seaweed, and spinach impressions. The final few infusions offered lingering mineral, cream, butter, grass, and lettuce notes that were balanced by spinach, malt, olive, apricot, green bean, and pea impressions.
This was a very unique and appealing green tea. Considering that I tend to favor very grassy, vegetal and/or very buttery, nutty, savory green teas these days, the pronounced honey sweetness along with the fruity and floral qualities displayed by this tea totally took me by surprise. This was just a lovely tea that offered a tremendous drinking experience. I recommend it highly to anyone looking for a quality Chinese green tea that offers something truly out of the ordinary.
Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Chestnut, Cream, Grass, Green Beans, Hay, Honey, Honeysuckle, Lettuce, Malt, Mineral, Nectar, Olives, Peas, Pine, Seaweed, Spinach, Squash Blossom, Sugarcane, Sweet
Now that I have reviewed a higher end Huang Shan Mao Feng, it’s time to review a slightly lower end tea (and I do emphasize the word slightly considering that this appeared to still be a somewhat higher end tea). One thing I appreciated about this tea compared to Teavivre’s Nonpareil Te Gong Huang Shan Mao Feng was that it offered a bit more strength in the flavor department. As teas of this type go, this one produced an excellent drinking experience and was about on par with its higher grade counterpart.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea buds and leaves in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry bud and leaf mix emitted aromas of minerals, chestnut, honey, and straw. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of hay, malt, soybean, sweet corn, and chestnut blossom. The first infusion then introduced lettuce, grass, and pea aromas. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of chestnut, straw, malt, hay, soybean, sweet corn, and grass that were underscored by hints of butter, cream, and peas. The subsequent infusions introduced cooked green bean, butter, umami, cream, and pine aromas. Mineral, lettuce, honey, and chestnut blossom notes appeared along with umami and cooked green bean impressions. I also caught some fleeting hints of fennel, pine, sugarcane, and spinach. The final few infusions emphasized durable mineral, cream, malt, hay, and umami notes alongside amplified spinach impressions and cooked green bean, chestnut, and pea hints.
A very aromatic and flavorful green tea, this was like the Nonpareil Te Gong Huang Shan Mao Feng but with more charisma. Honestly, drinking this tea was like taking in an early summer day at my residence in liquid form. I have several large Chinese Chestnut trees in my yard as well as a hay field immediately in front of the house, and in June and July, the scents of grass, hay, and chestnut blossom fill the air when the yard and field are being mowed. If I breathe in through my mouth during that time of the year, I frequently also taste those things, and I love that. So, all of that being said, drinking this tea was an extremely pleasant experience for me. Though it was not as fancy as the other Teavivre Huang Shan Mao Feng I previously tried, this was more of a drinker’s tea, full of heady aromatic components and strong flavors with a nice, thick body and the expected mineral-heavy mouthfeel. I think it would make a fantastic daily drinker or a wonderful introduction to Huang Shan Mao Feng for those who are curious.
Flavors: Butter, Chestnut, Cream, Fennel, Floral, Grass, Green Beans, Hay, Honey, Lettuce, Malt, Mineral, Peas, Pine, Soybean, Spinach, Straw, Sugarcane, Sweet, Umami
And now “western” style. It tends toward maltiness, as I expected, plus the sweet potato and cocoa notes. There’s a bit of citrus as well. I didn’t notice that when I brewed it in my gaiwan. This apparently isn’t a very peppery Dianhong: just like when brewed gongfu, the spiciness is hardly there. There’s enough that I like about this tea that I don’t mind that, though.
Flavors: Citrus, Cocoa, Malt, Sweet Potatoes
Brewed gongfu style. Dry leaves smell like sweet potatoes, cocoa, slightly floral.
Steep 1: Very malty, but with some sweetness from the sweet potato note. The mouthfeel is smooth yet thin. This reminds me of Teavivre’s Yunnan Gongfu which I had earlier in the year, which makes sense considering they’re both Fengqing blacks. That one was a little fruity at times, so I wonder if this will be similar.
2: Tastes like a simpler, less sweet version of steep one. I didn’t brew it as long, so that could be why, but it seems like quite often the second steep of a Dianhong when brewed gongfu style is the least sweet.
3. Sweet cocoa and wheat. The mouthfeel has thickened a lot since the first cup, but it’s not creamy, more soft like some kind of fabric if that makes sense.
4. Smoky. Otherwise about the same.
5. Smokier. The mouthfeel is starting to get thinner, and it’s mostly just malty now, with a hint of sweet potato. There’s a bit of that typical black pepper spiciness too, which I hadn’t noticed in earlier steeps.
6. Smoky, malt flavored water. Interestingly, there’s still some spiciness. I wish this had started earlier instead of appearing just as the tea finished.
For the price, it’s quite good. It’s probably more suited to western style brewing than gongfu, but I like trying all new Chinese blacks this way.
Flavors: Black Pepper, Cocoa, Malt, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Wheat
Had to go to the DMV today. Yeah, no matter what city or state, it’s always the most inefficient operation ever. lol
I wanted something special so I chose the Nonpareil Taiwan DaYuLing High Mountain Cha Wang Oolong Tea. The type of tea that is flourishing waaaay the heck up there (2500m+), away from it all, where its cooler year around. The type of tea that is quite expensive but hey, it is DaYuLing, and a great one too ($36.90 for 50g). I wasn’t disappointed with this last sample.
Tightly dark green nuggets, large leaves when unfurled. It has a noteworthy aroma with a mixture of orchid, vegetal, mixed fruit, sweetness. Smooth, silky, calming. Sweet, creamy, buttery, some chestnut, umami, gardenia/floral notes, some seaweed/marine notes towards the end. Balanced and well-rounded, complex yet subtle, brisk, lingers at the throat and back of the tongue well after you finish your steep, a comforting effect. Full-bodied, thick mouth-feel & in the throat.
Gaiwan, 7g, 212℉, 110ml, 8 steeps: rinse, 30s, 30s, 50s, 70s, 90s, 120s, 150s, 180s
Flavors: Butter, Chestnut, Creamy, Floral, Marine, Orchids, Seaweed, Sweet, Umami
Flowery, perfumey, light milk aroma. Sweet and super light vegetal notes compared to other TGYs. More of a floral taste instead of green, no real fruit notes that I can detect. Subtle buttery notes in the early steeps. Very slight bitterness, some astringency on 2nd steep but not overwhelming. It makes it work, makes it interesting and delicious. On the 6th steep, cut green grass notes came out, with a slight vegetal aroma and the floral taste subsided a bit, became a little tart. Although light bodied, its complex, as it changes on each steep.
7g Tea, 212℉, 110ml, 7 steeps: rinse, 20s, 40s, 60s, 80s, 100s, 120s, 180s
Flavors: Butter, Flowers, Freshly Cut Grass, Milk
There are problems that arise only in the lives of dedicated (obsessed?) tea drinkers. One of the most irritating is figuring out what to do with the tiny amount of leaf left over at the bottom of a pouch. While sometimes this is due to carelessness, it’s more often due to wanting to steep a sample properly and not having enough tea for two sessions.
This is what happened with the Yun Nan Dian Hong I reviewed a few days ago. I decided to be optimistic and steeped my remaining 2 g Western in a 355 ml mug at 185F for 3 and 6 minutes. The tea stood up fairly well to this treatment, with muted flavours of cocoa, caramel, earth, and sweet potato, but I think I was asking too much of it. Maybe I should have cold brewed it instead. Or maybe I should finally cave in and buy smaller Western cups.
Anyway, this is a great tea that requires further research, and I’m not changing my rating!