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Recent Tasting Notes
From Meowster a while ago! Thanks so much! I haven’t had any sheng in ages. It was time to steep this up. Raw pu-erh rolled into the shape of a ball, wrapped in something like tissue paper. After all these years, sheng is still tough for me to describe but I’ll try. There is a drying effect. The second cup simply tastes like MINERALS. And more MINERALS. The third steep is much of the same. It certainly isn’t getting bitter at all. The basket infuser is almost FULL of unraveled leaves. I like this, I just feel like I’m sometimes bored with sheng as my palate isn’t doing well enough at finding these flavors , or probably I shouldn’t be steeping them Western? Luckily Meowster only sent me two of these babies, so much wasn’t wasted on my palate.
Steep #1 // 1 dragon ball for full mug// 33 minutes after boiling // rinse // 30 second steep
Steep #2 // 30 minutes after boiling // 30 second steep
Steep #3 // 32 minutes after boiling // 40 second steep
Normally I don’t write tasting notes for samples, because if I like a sample, I’ll buy it, add it to my cupboard and then write a tasting note on it. If I don’t like it, I won’t bother writing about it. Not a perfect system, but it works for me. Chances are very slim I’ll end up with additional samples of a tea I don’t like.
This is different.
I am trying to not buy more tea for now. I already have two other milky oolongs that I have to drink. But, I don’t want to forget this one when I finally do start buying again. I’ve never had a milky oolong that didn’t have additional flavoring added so this was a first. It’s a wonder. Not a “hit you over the head with a baseball bat” milky flavor (which I do love), but I definitely could taste the creamy milkiness. It was delicious – comforting but not overwhelmimg – and I’ll definitely want to get more. Great end-of-the-day cup to relax with.
Cold Brew Sipdown (804)!
Another share from Kittenna – I was intrigued; Teavivre’s different herbal/fruit blends have been a bit hit or miss for me. This is pretty nice, but I’ve been trying to place exactly what the intended fruit flavour is for the last half hour and I’m not totally sure. I would say maybe blueberry!? It’s sort of just a generic fruity berry flavour though. That’s fine ‘cause it’s definitely still refreshing and the hibiscus/apple combo isn’t too obviously present or excessively tart – so it’s great for in the moment drinking.
I predict it’ll fade into obscurity in my memory, though.
I won a gorgeous scarlet tin of this tea during Teavivre’s Black Friday event. Very grateful, thanks so much Teavivre! Somehow I haven’t tried this yet, even though I’ve tried most of what Teavivre offers. It is so nice to have a fresh green tea. The leaves are lovely. The flavor is so layered and exceptional. Hints of minerals, very beany, nutty, sweet, lingering, both vegetal and fruity at the same time, with the slightest hint of butter. Like I said, very layered! It’s the flavor of health. I love a great fresh green, so this found a great home to stop at. Hopefully the red of the tin will scream at me to enjoy this one more often than not.
Steep #1 // 34 minutes after boiling // 1 1/2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 34 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
2020 Sipdowns: 7 (Upton – China Keemun Heng Ru)
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Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Floral, Toasty
From TTB 2019/2020.
I love that there are a few herbs in the box that aren’t mixed into blends. I’ve been pulling out my herb books and doing some searching online tonight to learn more about the properties of the herbs included. The first one I’m trying is the red clover. Teavivre no longer has this listed on their website so I looked in a few other places to learn more about red clover blossoms and how to steep them.
The Herbal Academy has a good write-up here – https://theherbalacademy.com/red-clover-tea/ – that gives some info on how to make a red clover tea from dried blossoms. I used their recommendations to steep my cup tonight. It seemed a good tisane to try since they mention that red clover has mild sedative properties. It’s also good for arthritis and inflammation, both of which I’m irritated by tonight, so why not have a cup?
After steeping, it is so much darker than I expected! I really thought it would be very light in color and in flavor but it’s neither. The taste is a little bitter, but also grassy with a distinct honey note. Aside from the bitterness, which may have been due to my long steep, it’s quite tasty! It’s far from the worst herb I’ve tasted, and I really think it might do well mixed in a blend.
Flavors: Bitter, Dry Grass, Drying, Dust, Honey
I had read that one of the reasons Anji Bai Cha is so healthy for you is because less of the theanine is converted to chlorophyll, and therefore, it has a much higher theanine content, ~3-4% higher than most green teas. Theanine has lots of health benefits, if curious, there is a lot of data on it. I personally like the relaxation aspect but it doesn’t make you sleepy at all. Adds concentration and mental alertness.
The dry leaves are long and slender, a pale green, sharp looking. The dry leaves had a slightly grassy aroma, and the extremely pale yellow-greenish liquor also had a slightly grassy aroma with hints of fruits, citrus.
Deeply umami. Rich and smooth mouthfeel. Slightly nutty, maybe chestnut. Definitely vegetal: Asparagus, celery, green beans, some soybean notes. Don’t quote me but I believe the high presence of amino acids also contribute to this thick mouthfeel, the brothy-ness, a little sweetness in some infusions, and alas, a complex tea. It’s full of amino acids that help lower cortisone, therefore reducing stress levels.
Flavors: Asparagus, Celery, Chestnut, Citrus, Fruity, Grass, Smooth, Umami, Vegetal
This was a free sample with one of my orders a while ago. It’s very sad I’m not trying teas like this when they are fresher. But as ever, Teavivre’s packaging is great so I’m sure that helps. This seems like a different tea on every level: the dry leaf, the wet leaf, the flavor of the tea couldn’t be more different. Before steeping, the long dark leaves have a fragrance of dried hay. After steeping, the scent was very strong, smoky with a hint of grapefruit which is very unique — I’ve never noticed that in any tea before. The flavor is very citrusy, both grapefruit and lemon, maybe even some lemon myrtle with the smoke in the background. I say smoke, but it’s really just that type of flavor that is this type of oolong — tough to describe! Lingering flavors on the backsip of green grapes, minerals, sugarcane. After the cup has cooled, the “smoke” moves to the front of the profile. The color of the brew even looks like lemonade or water infused with lemon. Then a lingering creaminess takes over. The first steep was the best and I wished I had kept steeping with cooler water, shorter steep times because then the “smokiness” takes over more — less of those lighter flavors. Maybe this tea tasted more like “honey orchid” when it was fresher? Again I could kick myself for not drinking it sooner. I certainly don’t usually prefer teas like this one, but this might be the best I’ve tried. Very unique, at least to me in my tea journey so far.
Note to self, steep cooler with shorter steeps.
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for a full mug // 20 minutes after boiling // 1 minute steep
Steep #2 // 18 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #3 // just boiled // 2 minute steep
I hope everyone who celebrates is having a wonderful Christmas!
Flavors: Grapefruit, Lemon, Mineral, White Grapes
Thanks so much for the samples, Teavivre! I was looking forward to this special tea. The leaves are such a vibrant collection of greens in color. The scent of the unsteeped leaves is like a fresh Spring lawn. I think the water cooled too long on the first cup, I knew the flavors weren’t popping enough. The second steep was a flavor burst of mostly sugary sweetness. Wow, it’s like I added sugar to the mug. Otherwise there is the lightest flavor of starchy yams hiding behind the sugar. Possibly squash and hints of pear or other fruits. Starchiness of pears! The second steep was the real winner. By the third and fourth steeps, the flavor was muted, definitely not as sugary sweet. Oddly, the flavors were a little indistinguishable after the second steep. I’m not sure what happened but it’s probably all in how I’m steeping it, if this tea isn’t as fussy as I think it is. Maybe Western steeping isn’t ideal for this tea. So this isn’t really what I’m looking for in an oolong, without that longevity in Western steeps, but that second steep was divine.
Steep #1 // 1 heaping teaspoon for a not-quite-full mug // 25 minutes after boiling // rinse // 1 minute steep
Steep #2 // 20 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #3 // 15 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #4 // just boiled // 2 minute steep
I hope everyone who celebrates is having a great Thanksgiving! That ET commercial… I can’t even. They are trying to kill me with 80s nostalgia today. haha
Gongfu Sipdown (714)!
Pretty sure I’ve had this sample for a while – not actually sure how old it is and I wasn’t sure if it would still be any good or not. It was, though! I had a hearty tea session; longer steeps and more tea steeped at a time – kind of a Western meets Gongfu merger, if you will? It was thick and viscous with strong cocoa powder notes accompanied by notes of freshly baked bread & a starchy sweetness. Hints of red fruit in the undertones, but more focus on the round, coating body of the sip. I can see why this hong cha is award winning!!
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rypTnxt4_Xc
Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Malt, Red Fruits, Sweet Potatoes
This was included in Teavivre’s great sample sale last year. The dragon ball with yellow chrysanthemums is a slow unraveler in the first steep. Interestingly enough, I’m noticing more chrysanthemum flavors in this than the jasmine dragon ball has of jasmine. But the chrysanthemum flavor seems to be gone by the second and third steeps. I’m not too familiar with chrysanthemum, but it is a sweet floral flavor from these big blossoms that float to the top of the infuser while the dragon ball unfurls. Otherwise, the black tea certainly has strong notes of cinnamon and cardamom somehow, which is odd for a Yunnan. It’s very sweet like a dessert. Very dark in the mug which isn’t surprising because once the dragon ball was unraveled, the leaves filled the entire basket infuser. Though dark, the tea remained sweet. This is an interesting flavor combination – a change from the usual. Three very solid steeps.
So TeaVivre put out some new rooibos and of the 3 I tried (chocolate, toffee, and strawberry rooibos), I liked this TeaVivre Rooibos the best. It’s tart but delicately sweet and creamy, natural, no artificial flavor taste since it’s all-natural ingredients. roasty and earthy. I think some may put want to add a little sweetener and/or milk. I think this would make a really awesome latte so since I bought a bag of it, I’ll try it that way next. :D
Flavors: Earth, Roasted, Strawberry, Sweet, Tart
As per usual, I started brewing this cup and then forgot about it because my sister called…. even though it steeped for probably over 10 minutes, it’s still delicious!
Nice and smooth. Once I get to a manageable tea amount, this would be something that I would love to purchase!
This is a tea to savor and let linger in your mouth. Like some, more delicate teas, it’s an acquired taste, but how can you compare a subtle dark chocolate, caramel after taste to other teas that are in your face grassy or earthy or smoky. You have to sip this one quietly and let the best part bloom in your mouth 20 seconds after you swallow. This is not a daily mug or a sip down, but a gift to be savored when you need reminding that the same camellia sinsensis plant can be processed in so many different wonderful ways.
Flavors: Caramel, Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Honey
There’s something pleasant in regards to its light and floral flavors, but this is no prized experience. I had hoped that after the first few infusions, the tea would take on new heights, but it remained quite underwhelming to say the least. I tried to consider examples in which I would find myself drawn into this style of tea, but only one came to mind: if there I stood calloused by the mid July heat praying to quench an ungodly thirst. Being that it’s mid November, I am in no need to prepare for such an experience. This one is a pass for me.
I was very curious to try this tuocha. I used the Chinese gongfu method and the recommended steeping times on the Teavivre website (rinse, 20s, 15s, 15s, 30s, 50s, 80s, 150s). After an initial rinse and upon the first steep, I was left with a very pleasant experience. The rose notes leave the taste buds with a light, sweet floral finish.The color is rich, the aroma is earthy, and the mouthfeel is smooth. It was a pleasant experience to say the least.
Flavors: Earth, Floral, Rose, Sweet
I thought I had already reviewed all of Teavivre’s Keemun black tea offerings but somehow I missed this one. I’ve purchased their Grade 1 and Grade 2 Keemun teas in the past and enjoyed them both. I was surprised and happy to find this free sample packet from Teavivre when I opened my tea cabinet this morning.
When I opened the small silver foil container, an earthy and fruity aroma emanated from it. I followed the brewing instructions on the packet and steeped the short black leaves for five minutes at 185 degrees.
The finished brew had a dark gold color similar to motor oil. The odor was faintly sweet and fruity.
The taste of the tea was sweet with honey overtones. There also existed slightly floral and undefined fruity flavor characteristics. All of this merged perfectly together to form a sweet and mildly fruity taste experience with no astringency. The aftertaste continued this theme with gentle sweet and fruity attributes briefly floating on my palate.
The disposition of this tea is incredibly smooth. It is one of those fairly rare teas that I have to restrain myself from gulping down quickly. This is truly a tea that should be savored and enjoyed.
I don’t believe I have ever been disappointed with a Teavivre black tea. But, if I were forced to rank them in order of taste and smoothness, this one would be listed in at least my top three.
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Honey
Purchased from Teavivre on a whim as pu’erh is a variety of tea that’s fairly new to me. I used the gong fu method to brew. To start, I gathered one tuocha, rinsed it, and then proceeded to give it time to open up on the first steep. The toucha is dense with an earthy scent and tones to match. I was reminded of the fragrance of alfalfa. The taste starts surprisingly mellow with a color that quickly resembles caramel. On the second steep, the color was darker and it took on a brothier scent, with a significantly dryer mouthfeel. For the third steep, the liquor was increasingly darker. The fragrance proliferated the gaiwan and the mouthfeel transformed into what I can only consider to be a ‘warm hug’. An interesting progression to say the least. I will spare you the details of every steep, and leave you with one simple note….this is an easy drinking tea, great for a cold day when you may find yourself in an explorative mood.
Now that my nephew is gone, I’m left with lots of flavored tea hehe but I always welcome rooibos because of the health factor too. This particular Chocolate Rooibos tea is creamy, smooth. It has a natural sweetness of cocoa, sweet earthy flavor, and has a gentle nutty taste. It’s also full-bodied and rich. It has a very nice warm cocoa and nuts aroma and some woody notes. I liked this one much better than the toffee. The toffee one was good but came off a little artificial and this one does not at all.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa, Creamy, Earth, Nutty, Smooth, Wood