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Recent Tasting Notes


I love pu-erh tea and thought that tangerine pu-erh tea sounded fascinating! I wasn’t quite brave enough to buy it sight unseen and taste untasted, but I selected a sample of it with my last Teavivre purchase.

When I opened the silver sample package, I found short brown leaves inside and something I hadn’t expected- big hunks of tangerine peel! Since the package stated that the tea was produced in 2012, I wondered if I was looking at five-year-old fruit remnants. The peel chunks were quite dry and looked almost mummified.

There also was a pleasant tangerine scent inside the package. This smell cancelled out any earthy and leathery pu-erh odor that might have existed.

I followed the instructions and brewed the tea at 212 degrees for eight minutes (the maximum recommended time). The brewed color was a deep golden brown. The aroma was fruity but nondescript.

The taste of this tea was dominated, but not overwhelmed, by delicious fruity tangerine attributes. The leathery and earthy pu-erh flavor was surprisingly subdued in the background but still quite present. This taste partnership was beautifully harmonious.

This is the first pu-erh tea I’ve ever had that I would describe as having a BRIGHT flavor. The entire blend was also surprisingly smooth with an equally amiable aftertaste.

The folks at Teavivre have produced another terrific pu-erh tea. If you enjoy fruity teas AND pu-erh teas, you should be satisfied on both fronts with this one.

Flavors: Fruity, Tea

Boiling 8 min or more 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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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

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

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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

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

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Some of the most beautiful tea leaves I’ve ever seen. Flavour is fresh and delicious, but still not my favourite green tea.

I started at 175˚F and brewed it up to 180˚F. Might try starting at 180 or 185˚ next time.

180 °F / 82 °C

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Brews a light gold color. Tastes of pine, dried flowers, minerals, and incense. Slight brown sugar sweetness. There is a little bit of aged taste starting to develop, more than I would expect from a tea that’s blended 2015 and 2016 material. Compared to the 2017 not-so-ancient-tree Hekai, the taste is much more bitter and astringent, though I would still only call it moderately bitter. The mouthfeel is a bit thin, but it has a strong lingering aroma in the mouth. As I drink it I get a bit of the qi feels.

This one is definitely better than Teavivre’s cheaper Hekai. Good, but not outstanding.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Brown Sugar, Flowers, Mineral, Pine

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 90 ML

Have you tried any of TeaVivre’s current shou?


I haven’t, I tried a couple a few years back, but I don’t think their selling the same ones anymore.


Have you tried Chawangshop’s 2016 Hekai Gushu?


I’ve actually never ordered from Chawangshop, I’ve been thinking about it for a while but always end up sticking with YS. Any favorites?

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Slight smokiness, sweetness on the finish, savoury complex flavour reminiscent of fish. Berries and grapefruit on the aftertaste.

Flavors: Berry, Fish Broth, Grapefruit, Smoke

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 13 OZ / 375 ML

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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

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

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


Yes it does! Thanks, Angel!

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Sipdown (453)!

Last tea of the day, and the free sample I got in my Teavivre order.

Anyone who’s been following me on Steepster for a while knows I have a weird relationship with goji berries; I’m totally fascinated by them but 9/10 times I inevitably completely fail to taste them in blends. I’ve probably tried close to a hundred different blends with goji berries in them and I’m STILL not even 100% sure I know what they taste like. So, I was actually SUPER happy to get this as a sample. Finally, the mystery of what goji berries taste like will be solved for me!

I let this steep for about half an hour; mostly because I forgot it was steeping if I’m being perfectly honest here. I’m incredibly frustrated though because even after half an hour of steeping I can hardly taste ANYTHING when I sip on this!? Like, the ‘tea’ visually looks like it’s steeped/infused because it has a clear yellowish tint to it but I straight up just taste water when I drink it, with a sliver of a sort of sweet but VERY non-distinct sugary note in the finish – and only the finish. WHAT. THE. FUCK.

Why can I not seem to crack the mysterious flavour of goji!? I mean, the dried goji certainly smelled fruity/had a nice aroma to it by I legit don’t feel like I’m drinking anything but hot water, possibly sweetened with like table sugar or something. Am I alone in this? ‘Cause I’ve DEFINITELY heard people describe things as tasting either like goji or goji tasting sweet and fruity/like generic red fruit. Are they just bullshitting everyone else or is this actually a unique to me anomaly where I simply cannot pick up on the flavours here?

Ugh! This was supposed to be an informative cup of tea that would answer a question I’ve had for literal years and now I’m just frustrated and left with even more questions than I had in the first place! This is not the kind of relaxing/satisfying cup of tea that I had planned on ending my evening with…

Damn it.

Lexie Aleah

I tried a fresh goji berry once, it was extremely bitter. Only other goji flavor I’d had was in flavored water which tasted completely different.


Goji berries are disgusting. Honestly, you’re not missing out! If it’s driving you crazy, order some fresh or dried goji berries to try – I can’t imagine the flavour translating well into tea.

Lexie Aleah

Jujube fruit tea is an asian tea that might be interesting to try. I’ve never had it though.


In China, we usually use Goji to brew with chrysanthemum and Jujube, which is very good for health benefits. Besides, we also add some Goji when stew bone soup or chicken soup


Maybe try some dried goji berries as they’re pretty easy (if not necessarily cheap due to the health food craze). They have an interesting taste, slightly tart with an almost savoury finish. I like them cooked in oatmeal. I’ve never really been wild about them in tea as I’ve found that most companies just use hibiscus to achieve the tartness and call it good.

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This tea is very fragrant, especially during the first two steepings. The aroma of tropical fruit, lychee, flowers, peaches. The color is very satisfying: deep amber.

The taste is quite mild and largely follows the nose. I somehow expected a bolder taste. Make sure not oversteep it since it acquires the rougher bitterness that crowds out milder floral notes. In the third steeping and later the floral notes are largely replaced with apricot, honey, and almond.

It is a very forgiving tea and comes out well in a gaiwan, grandpa style or the typical western method. I came to like it as a daily drinker because what eslse do you need for that but a tea that fragrant, good tasting, not harsh and goes well with almost any kind of mood? It has been growing on me steadily.

I will add it to the beloved keemun hao ya (and maybe da hong pao – need to drink it for longer) as my daily staple. Will certainly order again.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Flowers, Fruity, Honey, Lychee, Peach

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 45 sec 3 g 2 OZ / 70 ML

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Strong mineral note, a little bit of honeyed sweetness, and a little bit of generic “sheng-y” taste. No “green” or chlorophyl taste. It’s a little bit thick in the mouth, a little bit astringent, and there’s a little bit of lingering aroma in the mouth. Not much bitterness or potency of flavor.

It’s definitely easy drinking for a young sheng, but overall it’s just ok. I was expecting more potency and bitterness from a young Hekai tea. I’m interested to see what the “ancient tree” version will be like.

Flavors: Honey, Mineral

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 90 OZ / 2661 ML

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Sipdown (340)

Thank you Angel from Teavivre for sending me a sample of this tea. Unfortunately, this just isn’t for me since it is tasting mostly of floral and leather. It was really nice to watch brew though.

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I definitely enjoyed this puerh, really strong berry and pleasant acidity. Doing gongfu it rounds off nicely in later steeps.

Flavors: Apple, Berry, Tart

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 2 OZ / 65 ML

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I was really surprised trying this tea, I hadn’t had a TGY yet. It has a nice sourness compared to other oolongs and flavorful floralness. Very subtle notes of cream at the start.

Flavors: Floral, Orchid, Pleasantly Sour, Sour

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 2 g 2 OZ / 65 ML

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drank Golden Monkey Black Tea by Teavivre
222 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

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

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I love this tea! I get a lot of jasmine from it, in a good way. I don’t really get a peach flavor, but there is something about the fruitiness of the aroma. It actually makes me think of a specific variety of jasmine my grandfather used to grow. The green tea is present and strong enough without throwing off the balance. This is somehow very refreshing yet comforting.

Flavors: Fruity, Green, Jasmine

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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I’m beginning to think I’m just a tea drinker along the lines of beer drinkers who think Miller Lite is awesome. I think I just like the Miller Lites of teas. I’m reading everyone else’s notes and this just sounds so lovely. It basically tastes like spinach water to me. I can tell it’s made with care, and the leaves are lovely. I’m not going to give it a numerical rating since apparently I’m too gauche to appreciate good teas. :D

Flavors: Green, Seaweed, Spinach, Vegetables

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It has a nice sweet hay aroma that I get with most white teas. There is a really pleasant sweetness to this tea with flavors of hay and cucumber. It has a strong flavor and a lingering aftertaste that is delightful.

Flavors: Cucumber, Hay

185 °F / 85 °C 5 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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I bumped this up to a tablespoon of leaves and finally tasted something. This is a sweet, smooth tea with a little bit of butteriness. It’s nice, but the flavor is still really on the light side, so I guess it’s just one of those teas that you have to focus on to taste anything.

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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The flavor has a nice broth aspect, but it’s kind of weak, and I’m really wondering how much leaf I should be using here. I did about 1.5 teaspoons this time (the leaves are wiry, so a bit hard to measure). Is this one of those tablespoon teas?

On the plus side, very smooth and no astringency at all.

180 °F / 82 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Light oolong with an amazing orchid aroma. It is light, sweet, creamy, and floral. This tea is creamy floral goodness in a cup.

Flavors: Creamy, Floral, Orchids

205 °F / 96 °C 4 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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drank Rou Gui Oolong Tea by Teavivre
270 tasting notes

Very dark leaves with and obvious roasted aroma. Brews a deep red orange. The dark roast dominates the flavor profile, reminding me a bit of French roast coffee, but there is also a light fruitiness to it that reminds me of strawberries and lemon zest. Not bitter, but it is slightly tart. I get just a hint of something floral in the aroma.

This tea is decent, but the roast is too dark in my opinion.

Flavors: Floral, Lemon Zest, Roasted, Strawberry

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Here’s a surprise: I opened the package of Big Dark Leaf and it appears to be filled with big dark leaves! They’re big, twisty, and deep green-brown. Dry aroma reminds me of green beans. Brews a medium yellow, a bit lighter than the Ya Shi Xiang.

Smooth taste with a strong mineral note, green wood, and a bit of half-ripe tangerine rind. Excellent aroma of honeysuckle, citrus, and warm candle. Whereas the Ya Shi Xiang had definite buttery mouthfeel, this tea is more light and clean; maybe watered down milk. There’s a bit of astringency, but practically zero bitterness.

While I prefer roasty-er oolongs, this is a very nice lighter roast and I prefer it to the Ya Shi Xiang.

Flavors: Citrus Zest, Green Wood, Honeysuckle, Mineral

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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This tea has a subtle malty aroma and I can see why it is called pine needle by the way the dry leaves are hard, thin, and pointy. It is malty and earthy but I am not getting much flavor out of this tea. It is bland with an astringent aftertaste. I wish I did not power through it and just made another cup of tea.

Flavors: Astringent, Malt

205 °F / 96 °C 4 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

This tea is organic black tea, and when it compares to other Dian Hong, it’ll have a light taste. If you don’t mind, would you please let me know your brewing method on this tea?


4 grams of tea in 5 oz of water just below boiling. Rinse and three steepings of 1 min., 2 min., and 2 min. 30 sec. I combined the three steepings in one glass. It could have been too little tea, too high of a temperature, and/or to long of a steeping time, but it just didn’t turn out that well.


If you try it next time, you can use 90℃ water to brew it with a little longer time for the second and third infusion. If you have a gaiwan, you can try it in this way:
5g tea,10s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 60s at 90℃.

Hope you’ll find a way to get its best flavor and wish you a nice weekend!

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