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Recent Tasting Notes
i’m certain i’ve had this before…but steepster says no. but i say yes. grumble Either way, i pulled this one out today for a nice straight black tea to enjoy while i work from home today. It’s getting closer to the end of theis whole pregnancy thing, so i’m finding that i’m working a lot more from home now (thank god i can) just to be more comfortable and avoid riding the subway. One of the perks of course is that i can drink tea, have access to my cupboard and not have to try and decide in a rush in the morning lol. this one was just the right cup to start the day out – smooth, light a little malty with a side of fruitness. nom.
This not-so-little ball has a bomb dry leaf aroma: it’s malty but also sweet, warm and a bit spicy. It’s like smelling really old books or dried flowers as mementos. I kept smelling this ball for a looong time, it was almost addictive.
Unfortunately, the taste is a bit of a step-down. The chrysanthemum is understated, which is good and the tea itself – a very solid dianhong – takes the leading role. It’s bitter-sweet, malty and spicy, with a bit of medicinal herbal teas taste. While the same dragon balls with roses blends together seamlessly and compliments each other, this dianhong with chrysanthemum i s not such a perfect match.
You also have to make sure you find the right balance between the steeping times since the taste of the tea tends to overpower the chrysanthemum if you are not careful. The aftertaste is pretty forgettable.I steeped it Western but it’s certainly well-suited for a gaiwan. The saving grace for me with this tea was its enchanting dry leaf aroma and the good quality of the base.
Stole a tsp of this before shipping it on to a friend who ordered it – I consider it a middle-man fee – and had to give it a try.
It’s an interesting tea. It steeps up an almost oolong-gold and has a mellow flavor that sits somewhere between an un-roasted oolong and a mild black tea…it’s relaxing, in a way, and the low caffeine content means it’s something I can sip on for a while without worrying about getting jittery.
Well Steepster, it’s been a while again lol, I fell behind with logging my Advent teas, but today I have to log this tea since I’ve had it for ages and don’t think I’ve ever written a note!
I have been very minimal with my caffeine intake as it has been tough on my anxiety, but today I am craving a white tea and usually white isn’t too energizing for me, so it should go well. This tea I decided to do in my gaiwan, which reminds me I need to get a new one, as a while back somehow my lid broke so I am using a substitute Ltd that is too heavy and threatens to break the whole thing lol. Time to get teaware shopping!
Anyway, I used just under boiling water for a quick 10 s rinse, then did 50 s as recommended for the first steep. The smell is heavenly in the gaiwan, so much honey! In the cup it is a bit less pronounced, but a lovely linen note pops up, I love that crisp clean meditative scent in White teas! I should note – the ball is just starting to unfurl after 1 steep, so it should have some longevity for the afternoon of steeping!
As for the flavor, this is very delicate and floral, with a mildly sweet aftertaste. Very pleasant and perfect for a lazy Saturday. I look forward to a few steepings and sharing some with my husband this afternoon.
Thanks to Angel at Teavivre for the lovely sample!
Flavors: Floral, Honey
I was going to skip writing a note for this steep session, as I can’t quite pick out particular flavor profiles right now. But I don’t see much love for this one yet, so why not write a note now? It just tastes like a fantastic high quality ripe pu-erh. So I figured I could at least talk about that. The dry leaves are huge and take quite a while to unravel individually from the cake, even with a rinse. There are NO unpleasant pu-erh fragrances in any aspect of this tea: the dry leaves, the resulting flavors, or even the rinse. This is a great pu-erh if you’re trying to avoid those negative flavors. It’s just tough to say what the flavor actually tastes like, other than to say they are tasty flavors. The resulting brew is very dark, like a cup of coffee, just the way I like it, but very smooth and sweet. I was actually surprised the brew is this dark with such HUGE leaves. I don’t think I remember seeing pu-erh leaves this big. Though I haven’t been drinking pu-erh lately. This reminds me what I’m missing. Even with quite a long third steep, it remains smooth with nothing bitey about it. This pu-erh is fantastic, but I do usually like tasting some unique flavor quality in a pu-erh. But this one gets points for having no negative qualities and such a dark cup. Maybe next time I’ll pick up on specific flavors.
Steep #1 // 1/2 sample for a full mug// 20 minutes after boiling // rinse // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // 10 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #3 // just boiled // 7-8 min
I’m not the biggest fan of lychee, as I’ve never actually had the fruit, but with the sample sale, I figured I’d give this a try. The only lychee I’ve ever had was in tea flavoring, and this is definitely along those lines. The flavor is as lychee as anything I’d expect to find. The black tea itself is smaller and results in a light brew. I expected a darker brew with these smaller leaves, but the cup was honey colored with both steeps. I can’t really taste the black tea underneath all that lychee. What is especially nice, is after I take a sip, the flavor lingers until it leaves a strawberry type of flavor. Not a tea I would want to reach for a lot, but it’s nice to have a sample amount in stock.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug// 16 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 12 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Another from Teavivre’s sample sale. This one doesn’t seem to get much love. The leaves are probably the longest leaves I’ve ever seen, in mostly black with hints of gold. That feat alone should gain the tea some points. It does for me. Sipping the cup, I’m not finding any negative qualities or flavors that would give this a lower rating. If anything, there isn’t anything distinct about it, but it’s still tasty enough. The second steep resulted in a bit of an astringent cup, but that is my fault. I should have realized that the leaves were so big and the amount of leaves I used would make the flavor a bit bitey. But I like a stronger cup of tea anyway. The second cup was very dark and had a bready quality to it. It’s actually surprising that the tea became slightly astringent since this is the opposite of a tiny leafed tea. The only thing I could think of for the lower rating is the high expectations for Teavivre teas and that possibly this one isn’t as special as the other black teas they offer. Less detailed and distinct flavors maybe. But the tea is entirely acceptable to me. It probably would be better than most teas that another tea shop might sell, but that is just proving the great quality that Teavivre delivers.
Steep #1 // 2/3 sample pouch for a full mug// 16 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 4 minute steep
Have you ever tried a tea so bad that it traumatized you for the entire variety and you thought you’d never drink one again?
I felt that way about Lapsand Souchong until I tried this one.
Unlike every other one I’ve tried, “smokey” is not the first word that comes to mind. Instead, it reminds me rather of the smell of boiling wort (beer being made before it becomes alcohol): yeast, molasses, malt, and a hint of something slightly earthy and infinitely pleasant.
The flavor hits the front of my tongue with a smooth, coating sense of buttery-ness, turning to the sweet flavor of warm molasses as it hits the middle. By the back, I get a mild astringency and loam-y scent and flavor.
From being horrified by lapsangs in general, this tea has totally turned me around! I’d be happy to have it on my shelves.
Flavors: Malt, Molasses, Sweet, Wet Earth, Winter Honey, Yeast
I had to buy from Teavivre’s black tea sale as I bought nothing from Black Friday (also, rewards points, gift card to use). Also, a sale on the SAMPLES is perfect for me, as I love the smaller amounts of tea rather than stocking up on a ton of each. I’ve got both my basket infusers back in action after a good cleaning so now I’m at FULL STEEPING POWER once again. haha. I’m going to try steeping all these Teavivre black teas by similar parameters and I think two teaspoons has worked pretty well for me in the past with Teavivre black teas. I would probably never try this pricey tea if it wasn’t on sale, but I’m glad I did! The dry leaves are almost fully black and have the fragrance of sweet potatoes. The brew is the color of honey and the flavor has a unique sort of special quality to it: the flavor is the sweetest of sweet potatoes drizzled with something else very sweet. There is even a syrupy mouthfeel, as well as a starchy quality. So everything about this tea could almost be like sweet potatoes drizzled in honey. I wouldn’t say this has a flavor I expect from Fujian teas from what I’ve experienced in terms of flavor from Fujian teas in the past. The second and third steeps seem very similar to the first, BUT those steeps do lose that extra special sweetness that the first cup had. So maybe I should have steeped even less with cooler water on the first steep just to get that extra specialness to last through the next two steeps (of course, there is no hint of astringency at all). But that first steep was fantastic. I have to wonder though, what I might be missing in flavor when I’m steeping these western rather than gong fu. I did wait to read Teavivre’s description and they do mention sweet potatoes and caramel, so I feel a little bit justified in having that second opinion. Also, Teavivre does suggest steeping four teaspoons for a full mug, but that would be using almost all 10 grams that I have and I don’t want to risk having the flavor be the same anyway (using 2 or 4 teaspoons). But I like the resulting cup this way well enough anyway. I’m not entirely sure how much extra specialness this tea has compared to their other black tea offerings, as most of their black teas seem high quality with almost similar flavor properties.
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons in full mug // 17 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 12 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #3 // just boiled // 3 steep
Edited to add: Teavivre, as always, did a FANTASTIC job of organizing and shipping (and having the patience for) these samples. The smaller foil samples in the big pouches. I LOVE their pouches, never throw them out, reuse them for more extensive tea storing when I’ve finished the Teavivre teas in them.
This tea seems to be universally loved so I will be a contrarian in my review: I did not like it that much. I prepared it western style. The wet leaf aroma was very good: grass, spice, some hints of green vegetables and butter.
The taste story was altogether different. It is a finicky tea: my first steep proved to be too long or hot and it resulted in a very grassy and bitter product. The other steep proved to be too short so the tatse was rather bland. Only my third steep hit the fine balance and I did get all of that combination of grass, restrained bitterness and creaminess. The aftertaste was long and rather pleasant for those who prefer it quite astringent.
However, even when you hit the elusive balance of time, temperature and leaf amount you get a representative but not a particularly complex Long Jing. Aside from its wet leaf aroma nothing really was that impressive to me.
On the other hand, this tea is already 9 months old and I am not much into green teas in general, so you may want to take my review with a sizable grain of salt.
Well, I’m only using one pearl/ball, because I don’t have many in this sample, and didn’t want to waste any. So far, it’s got a woodsy aroma. It’s a familiar scent, subtle yet present.
Taste…crap. I mean, crap, I should have used two balls here. I can vaguely detect some of the chocolate that others have mentioned, but I just didn’t give it enough oomph here. As I sip through to the bottom of the cup, it is a naturally sweet tea, and not too bad. Next time, for my 6 oz. cup, I’m going with the standard 2 ball steep.
An absolutely phenomenal rose tea: smooth, sweet, dark black tea with the heady aroma of an old English rose garden. Forget what I’d do for a Klondike bar, what would I do for a bag of Dragon Balls?
As others have noted, the rose aroma begins to really fade off as you re-brew. I enjoyed the base tea enough that it didn’t bother me one bit.
Personal Note: I brewed this with Gongfu times rather than “traditional” steep and got about 14 steeps per ball (in a 4 cup teapot) before I noticed significant tea weakening. This also stretched the rose scent out into the 5th or 6th steep.
Flavors: Honey, Rose, Smooth, Sweet
Never has a tea been cuter and disappointed me more.
The Pu-erh is tucked down into the mandarin, just as advertised, and I was very pleased when I opened it. Then I smelled it…no hint of orange and it smelled very odd.
I had some friends over at the time and we all kept sniffing, trying to figure out what it reminded us of. Finally, someone hit on it: dirty hamster bedding. Kind of a cedar/must/mulch smell.
Well, I thought maybe it would taste better than it smelled, so I went ahead and brewed it.
Re-brewed, just in case it got better.
I suppose it’s a matter of taste, but stewed cedar is not a flavor I care for.
Flavors: Cedar, Dirt, Musty
The rose and chamomile play off of each other perfectly in this tea. Chamomile gives it a smooth, almost buttery, flavor, and the rose gives it a bright aroma.
The white tea flavor is overpowered in the first brew by the chamomile. I found I could only get one re-brew of decent flavor out of it (the chamomile becomes milder, allowing you to taste the tea, and the rose almost disappears)
A word of warning: I tried to share this tea with friends and family, and those who weren’t generally green or white tea drinkers couldn’t taste it at all. I’m not sure if they were simply used to much stronger flavors or if it required a different set of tastebuds, but be prepared for disappointment if you’re a black tea (or coffee) drinker.
Flavors: Butter, Rose, Sweet
The aroma of this tea knocked me right over: I was a little afraid when I ordered it that the rose would be an artificial flavor or perfume and was pleasantly surprised to see rosebuds in the loose leaf. That said, the scent of roses was so strong I was still slightly afraid for the flavor.
However, the tea brews up beautifully with a sweet, mild, smooth liquor and just the aroma of roses. The rose scent fades as you re-brew (very significantly), but the flavor of the Dian Hong is pleasant enough that I didn’t mind.
On the first brew, you get a very pleasant after-aroma of roses that lingers somewhere between the back of your mouth and nose. Later brews are mild and leave no astringent bite.
Flavors: Rose, Smooth, Sweet
Hmmmm…Ok. Full disclosure. I’m a rookie, a noob, a novice, a padawan…whatever. I’ve just started to drink teas that are not bagged and sold by Lipton. So, with a grain of salt, believe me when I say this is good, fancy tea! It steeps really dark (bag recommends 5-8 min., so I went for about a 6.5 minute steep), and smells like a chrysanthemum, mixed in with some very sweet smells…a little floral, on top of the chrysanthemum. The taste, at first, was a bit generic. But as I let it coat my tongue and go down the hatch…wow. It is really lively. Not spicy or overly strong, but just…bright? It’s kind of heavy, as I finish the cup, so it’s not something I’d drink 4 cups of in a setting. But, this is a delicious tea. I may have to get some more for me and my Jedi tea master friend.
Not actually but this mug was a whole lot of nope and I am tossing the rest of the sample Arby sent me into my swap box because I do not want to drink this again. In fact, I didn’t even drink this whole mug. One sip and the rest got dumped. It is basically mushed vegetables and grass and just a lot of terrible. Sorry Arby but this definitely was not for me. Thank you for sharing though!
Thank you Arby for the share. This is an interesting one because I have had honeysuckle in teas before but I have never just had honey suckle. I don’t mind it as much as the others who have had it but it is not my favorite either. I did anticipate floral and sweet honey and while this is sweet, it is not floral. Rather it is vegetal and almost hay/corn-like. A weird green tea/white tea hybrid and yet it is a herbal.
Also, turns out that I am not as immune to caffeine as I once was because I had a few cups of tea earlier in the day and got kind of shakey. That is why I resorted to a herbal tea, still tea but hydrating and unlikely to add to the jitteryness. Plus, I ate food which helped.
The new year is looming so my goal is to get in a few sip downs before 2019 is upon us. Ideally, it would be nice to get to a round number like 250 though with my mom still being temperamental we will see how far I get…
This is a tea that Angel from Teavivre was super kind to send me. Unfortunately I hardly ever drink straight green teas so I always overlooked this. In fact, it has been overlooked so many times that its best before date was a couple months back and I am only getting to it now. I used the whole sample in a 16 ounce mug which means I may have overleafed this.
I think I did something wrong or this tea is just too old because there is a bitterness here that I am really not enjoying. It starts off like a grassy/hay profile. Typical Bai Hao but a drying bitterness quickly just takes over the whole cup.
I find it to be a good alternative for smoked lapsangs, which I initially was a big fan of but cooled over time. Unlike them, this Rou Gui is less abrasive and more friendly and cozy.
Flavors: Peat, Pine, Roasted, Sweet
Holiday Tea-son! While not technically a holiday tea, tangerines/mandarins make me think of the holiday season (I’m eating one for breakfast right now!) so I figured I would finally try one of these little stuffed pu-erhs that I’ve been curious about for a while now. Plus I can just throw water on it throughout the remainder of the day when I need another tea fix, since I always seem to give out on steeps before pu-erh does. Handy! I got this from tea-sipper’s cupboard sale last January, so thank you tea-sipper!
I’ll admit I felt weird about leaving the tea in the shell, even though I know you are supposed to do that… I couldn’t even get “cracks” into the shell like the recommendations on TeaVivre’s site suggested because it was so hard, so I couldn’t imagine that the expansion of the leaves would be enough to break it; how would the pu-erh be able to fully expand and flavor the water then? So I removed the pu-erh, then just dropped the empty shell into the infuser with it. If I’ve created the biggest faux pas ever, feel free to let me know.
The steeped cup is a coffee-like darkness, and smells very earthy, but has a light, citrus-like perfume wafting from the cup. Previously my only experience with orange-flavored pu-erh was an artificially-flavored monstrocity from Adagio that had a very metallic bite to it… it was a decidedly very bad tea. The pu-erh base in this is very smooth, with a strong earthy flavor, and some slight minerality that is left on the tongue at the end of the sip. This tea has a very natural flavor; I’m so used to how strong orange flavorings are in flavored blends that this is actually quite subtle tasting in comparison. It’s an underripe sort of citrus flavor… I realize I’ve never had a “green” mandarin, but it actually has a very “green” sort of taste. There is a sort of light, delicate, and somewhat floral sweet taste to it, a bit like orange blossoms, rather than the more citric/tart/tangy taste I’m used to from citrus fruits. As the owner of the Hibiscus Rescue Habitat, we all know how I like those tart/tangy flavors, which is sort of what I was expecting… but even though the flavor has sort of dashed my expectations, I also really like sweet floral notes, so I’m still enjoying this. Would I have enjoyed a citric tartness more? Yes, but for what this is, it’s nice, and I’ll enjoy sipping on it this morning.
Flavors: Citrus, Earth, Floral, Mineral, Orange Blossom
22nd day, not much left of my Advent calendar!
I am told this is the best of Sara’s calendar. Based on the smell already, wow. It smells like honey.
Whoa. I remember thinking lapsang souchong tastes like sipping black tea around a campfire while the wind blows smoke directly into your face. Thankfully someone thought to put out the campfire.
It’s very honey-tasting. There’s a strong black tea flavor, but not very astringent. There are notes of raisins, maple syrup, and chocolate too. Oh and malt near the end of the sip. How can this much flavor be in a pure tea? It boggles the mind. I wish it had come up sooner, would have ordered some as a present for my son and daughter in law. Heck, I might still. Wow, Sara, I can see why you love this tea. Wow.
Edit: I have ordered some.
Flavors: Chocolate, Honey, Malt, Maple Syrup, Raisins, Tea
This is a well-reviewed and highly rated tea and deservedly so. It has a charming aroma of greens, spinach, broccoli, butter, and spice. The taste is fairly pronounced for Taiwan oolongs, with the dominant notes of grass, spinach, minerals, and seaweed. Spice, salt , and nuts as secondary flavors, with a lingering herbal and spicy aftertaste.
I usually prefer “louder” teas that grab you and this is still an oolong, which requires you to concentrate and pay an undivided attention to it to appreciate all it has to offer. But it was one of the more assertive, and, frankly, better oolongs that i have tried, without any obvious weaknesses.
Flavors: Broccoli, Butter, Grass, Mineral, Salt, Salty, Seaweed, Spices, Spinach