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Recent Tasting Notes
Smells like I expect wuyi to smell: roasty, earthy/minerally/hot-rock-like, perhaps a little nutty.
Taste is similar, plus I am getting some notes that remind me of caramel, maybe even raisin.
I am getting a surprisingly mild mouthfeel considering the robust aroma. Pretty good deal on price, I’d buy it again.
I usually like to steep oolongs at a lower temp, but just a small amount of leaves at 200F for a minute or two or more seems to be best for me with this tea.
Do not underestimate Teavivre’s green tea options. I am frequently impressed by the quality and variety they offer, as well as the value. This specimen instantly became a new favorite of mine. I generally drink my Chinese green teas with off-boiling water, in a glass tumbler, continually refilling with water once the volume gets down to around the leaf level. This tea performs beautifully with that method, giving me hours of constant sipping without growing weak or bitter.
The leaves are wonderfully made and extremely consistent, exuding a soft, “green” and nutty scent. The flavor profile is just what I could want in a green tea. The major notes remind me of something like sweet peas and rye toast, later developing into somewhat creamy vanilla textures and a somewhat surprising depth. I heartily enjoy the lingering sencha-esque crispness, yet with that distinct Chinese green tea flavor brought on by the pan firing process. Far from being subtle, this is an excellent green for more casual drinking, compared to the subtleness of a Huang Shan Mao Feng.
This tea is a good example of the natural thicker and “darker” aspects of what unroasted Taiwan oolong offers. The wet leaves exude a heavy vegetal scent, with notes of malt and roasted vegetables. It is matched by a low, full-bodied savory flavor profile. There is a moderately tart bite at the end of each sip, with a slight astringency. Possibly due to the very red-hued leaves, indicating a stronger oxidation and bruising during processing. It’s far from anything off-putting, though, and is accompanied by a light cooling sensation and thick aftertaste.
It’s nice overall, but somewhat lacking in flavor dimension and mouthfeel. It also reminds more of an autumn tieguanyin than a summer gao shan, which is unfortunate. I do, however, appreciate the yeasty, caramel-like lengxiang, or cold-scent, left in the empty cup. It also fades out nicely, with steeps 5 and above reducing to a nice straw-like sweetness with a vegetal-grass body. It’s simple, and decent for casual drinking.
I love autumn oolongs. I never receive quite the same level of enjoyment from the aromas of spring teas, compared to the depth and complexities of autumnal aromatics. This specimen’s scent, for example, is potent and fresh. Aspects bringing to mind sweet grasses, honey, and warm biscuits are exuded upon allowing the leaves to sit in a preheated gaiwan. The bread-like features seem to suggest a low oxidation level, which is supported by the opaque light green-yellow liquor. The leaves also seem to point to a slightly higher oxidation level than average, with their somewhat darkened color and occasional bruising.
After a steep or two, the gaiwan lid begins to hold a thickly floral aroma, while the empty cup scent presents a “darker” side of this tea, with a deep, full-bodied richness. The liquor’s form retains a hefty development, while it’s introduction is weaker and monotonous. The front end of each sip is low in flavor with stone-like texture. This rapidly shifts to an overall “greenness,” low and silky sweetness, and an moderately assertive vegetal-grass flavor. This development is of medium duration, dropping suddenly into a low, flinty sweetness, light mouth-cooling, and the characteristic gao shan aftertaste. There is also a [generally] pleasant bite of tartness felt primarily on the sides of the tongue during this finish. Perhaps a result of the bruising I found on some of the leaves.
I am actually somewhat impressed by the degree of flavor present in this tea. It is spring-like in its intensity and autumnal in its depth; it is an appealing balance. However, I fail to detect much of a huigan and the mouthfeel is lacking in substance, particularly the creaminess or butter-smoothness of other high-end gao shan Taiwan oolongs. I would say this tea offers a wide spectrum of what a gao shan oolong can offer in a single package, as it does not really have anything particular that defines it uniquely.
Got this as one of the free samples from my Teavivre shipment, I’ve never tried a straight Pu’erh before and thought this would be a good chance to give it a shot. I actually got three different samplings of Pu’erh tea from Teavivre but read somewhere on their site that this is the one to try first. So here it goes.
Dry the tea is compressed into a tiny birds nest of dark brown leaves, and there was a small amount of powdered leaf left in the wrapper. I also found very little scent to the dried leaf, what little there was smelled of loam and old leather, a few hits of mushrooms too.
After a good rinse my first steeping was for 15seconds and left me with a dark brown liquor that had a bit of particulate settled at the bottom. The aroma was of leather, loam and a dark woodsy scent. As for the flavor, there was definite smokey favors mixed into the wood/loam base. I also noticed a certain astringency that started mid sip but by the time I noticed it it had already been replaced by a heavier sweetness; that said it’s quite a smooth drink. I don’t enjoy the flavors much once the tea has cooled though.
The second steeping was for 10sec and wow did that ever give me a dark brown-black liquor, it made me feel like I was going to be drinking coffee. The leather scent was more predominant now, though there was still the dark woodsy notes in there. Flavor wise, the earthy loam notes were lighter and with less smoke this steeping, plus I got a few more mushroom favors.
A third steeping of 10 seconds gave me a dark brown liquor that smelled of wood, loam and a bit of smoke. The dark loam flavor was lightened slightly by the woodsy taste and the mouthful ended off on a somewhat astringently sweet note.
I did one last steeping of 15seconds (this certainly could have stood up for further steepings but I had to head out for the day.). The medium-dark brown liquor smelled of loam and mushrooms with just a touch of smoke. The flavor was probably the mildest of all the steepings, earthy but sweet at the same time. The flavor lingered a bit after each sip as well, compared to the previous cups where the flavors just sat on your tongue.
For my first straight Pu’erh I think this went well, I’m not a huge fan but it could grow on me. I’ll definitely have to try the other samples and see how they sit before I make any sweeping statements (or even rate this one specifically. ) After that I’ll try this again and see if anything has changed.
Another of my free Oolong samples from Teavivre’s fall contest (thanks again Angel!). It always amazes me at how different tea’s can be within a “family” and this Oolong sample pack has just served to further highlight that for me.
Dry this monkey picked oolong is tightly rolled and has a very definitive vegetal scent to it. Underneath that are some darker roasted notes and a few floral (almost nectarine like) highlights; a vey interesting combination.
A quick rinse lead to my first steeping of 50 seconds; I tried 25 but it gave a very weak looking/smelling tea so I put the leaves back in for a bit (I might have under leafed this a bit… Oh well.) This gave me a light orange-gold liquor that had a very fragrant smell consisting of roasted peaches and cashews. The flavor, while soft and somewhat mild, was as distinctive as the aroma; the dark roasted notes came though first (though they didn’t give any bitterness to the brew) followed by some higher peachy floral notes and under it all was just a touch of the vegetal favors that where foreshadowed by the dry leaves. The mouth feel is rich and creamy and there is a slight after taste reminiscent of peaches left in my mouth. It all mixes for a surprisingly refreshing drink.
The second steeping of 1:30minutes gave me a gold liquor which had a slightly more subtle scent profile. The roasted notes were still there, as was the peach but there was a definite thread of warm honey warped throughout. Flavor wise there are more vegetal favors to this steeping; mixed with roasted notes it made for more of a hearty cup compared to other oolongs I’ve had in the past. There are still some peachy highlights to round out the flavor profile as well but they’re not as predominant, nor is the mouth feel as rich, though it is still creamy.
My third and last steeping was 2:30 minutes long, the color of the liquor lightened to a pale gold while the scent profile had also lightened considerably. There are almost no roasted notes mixed into the vegetal scents and the peachy notes from before were almost completely gone. As in the previous steepings, I found the flavor matched the scent profile; mild vegetal notes with just a touch of roasting on the back end of the sip. Every once and a while I would get a hit of peach but not often and the mouth feel was much lighter while still being somewhat creamy.
In the end, though it was a good oolong and the flavor profile was quite different, it’s not my favorite. The mix of roasted notes with peach and the vegetal favors just doesn’t work for me in the long run. That said I was brewing it at 93C rather then the recommended 100C so I will try it again after Christmas and see if that makes a difference (one way or another I’m getting a new kettle, my old one has got to go!)
My first (official) shipment of tea from Teavivre has arrived! As my partner could tell you I’ve been looking forward to this shipment since I ordered it. I don’t have many (good) straight teas at the moment and so finding out about Teavivre through one of their contests this fall was a bit of good luck.
Dry this tea is visually intriguing and being rolled into small balls certainly makes it easier to get it prepped for steeping! The first thing I noticed when I opened the bag was a lovely dark malt smell. My father used to make beer in our basement and the scent of the tea really reminded me of the malty hops that he would start out with.
After a quick rinse I steeped this for about 40 seconds. Teavivre’s website recommended 30s but I used a bit more water (just over 4 oz) than what they called for so I bumped the time up a bit. The liquor comes out dark orange-brown and the aroma is heavenly. Really it was a toss up if I just wanted to keep my nose buried in my cup or to actually drink it. Sweet malt notes with some honey highlights, a bit of dark chocolate and under it all just a touch of earthiness to bring it all together.
As for the flavor… Oh wow! This has become an instant favorite for me. The aroma carries through to the flavor, malt and chocolate mixed to form a wonderful smooth experience. The mouth feel was rich and full but not heavy at all. And there was just a bit of dryness to this tea that helped to keep it from being cloying. As it cooled the malt notes stepped back a bit and the chocolate really started to shine though.
For the second steeping I left the leaves in for 70 seconds; this gave an orange-brown liquor that smelled of chocolate with a few sweet dark caramel notes underneath. Flavor wise this steeping is a bit more subtle than the previous one, but the dark chocolate tones really shine thorough with just enough malty sweetness to round it out nicely. There’s a bit of creaminess to this stepping as well.
The last steeping was for 1:45 minutes and this time I got a subtle caramel scented and colored liquor. The flavor had some of those same thick, creamy caramel tones to it as the aroma but there were still some hints of the chocolate. It also wasn’t as dry as the previous steepings, which I found to be a nice way to finish off this tea.
I have to admit that this was the tea that I was most looking forward to trying and it didn’t disappoint. I was really surprised at how a non-flavored tea could taste so much like chocolate (though I think I said the the same thing about Teavivre’s milk oolong…) and there were no floral notes to distract from the flavor profile either, which was nice to find. This is definitely a tea that I will be keeping stocked in my cupboard. Honestly, had a hard time writing this log up as I kept stopping to drink some more tea. I guess thats not a bad thing eh? ;)
Thanks Angel for a free sample with my recent order. Dry it smells like chocolate and rose, very subtle rose. brewed its chocolatey rosey, more chocolate.sweet taste, some grain flavor like rye. as it became cooler flavors became more pronounced and sweet. i enjoyed it a lot. on my shopping list
Received from Teavivre as a sample, Golden Monkey brightened my drab winter afternoon.
The narrow dark threads of the dry leaf (with a few brown mixed in) smelled of chocolate and malt, with a slight hint of tobacco. After steeping yielded a gold-red liquor, which tasted of honey, malt, sweet potato and mellowed fruit, silky on the tongue, not bitter in any way.
While not as favored as Teavivre’s Yun Nan Dian Hong Black Tea – Golden Tip (which I rate at 100), this is still an excellent fine-bodied, warming black.
This tea is described as ‘heavily roasted’ and I expected it to be akin to a ‘dark’ or ‘moderate’ roasted oolong, with notes of charcoal or a baked flavour. I steeped the pouch of tea provided at 90ºC in a 150ml porcelain gaiwan for multiple infusions but wasn’t ever able to detect anything like that at all. Nor could I sense the coffee taste their website describes.
In my view, the tea I was sent is of high quality, light body, predominantly herbaceous flavours and floral scents. I say ‘sent’ simply because I now question whether I was sent the tea that I ordered or another Tie Guan Yin. Adding to my doubt is the picture on Steepster: the tea I received looked nothing like this; it was a green colour.
Having said this, the packaging of the tea in individual vacuum sealed pouches is outstanding.
Deliciously toasty, a perfect “autumnal” type of Oolong. Sweet nutty and floral.
The first cup was smooth and light, with lighter presentations of the aforementioned flavors: lightly nutty, sweet and flowery. The subsequent infusions became thicker in texture and taste. Fruity notes began to emerge.
Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2013/10/16/superfine-taiwan-moderately-roasted-dong-ding-oolong-tea-teavivre/
I would have never chose this for myself but Roswell Strange was kind enough to send some over so I decided to give it a try. It really is not bad at all. I doubt I would stock up but this cup is enjoyable. I might be a bit crazy but my first few sips were almost buttery. Now as I get more into the cup I am still getting those buttery notes but combined with a bit of vegetal (perhaps spinach) flavor. Definitely an interesting cup. Thank you Roswell Strange!
ETA: Made the rest of this so this is another sipdown!! (159)
FINALLY got my free samples from Teavivre after waiting two loooong months (plus 20 minutes in the post office trying to claim it because it was sent as registered mail). I’m suffering through the tail-end of a nasty cold, so my sinuses and taste buds aren’t really cooperating right now. I most certainly should’ve waited until I can actually taste things to try this tea, but I ferociously ripped into the package like a mad woman! I’m so excited! It’s in my steeper right now. I guess this isn’t really much of a tasting note. More like a “Hey, I’m still alive and drinking tea” blurb.
I’ve opted to do a follow-up note on this tea as I am steeping it Western style and am curious how it will hold up. I am also happy to report that this samples doesn’t have any of the crushed leaves or powder that I encountered in my earlier sample. I feel badly for suggesting that it is a broken leaf tea when I apparently experienced an anomaly.
As per Teavivres Western instructions, I am steeping the whole pouch in my Perfect Tea mug for one minute in boiling water. I’ve got to admit that despite my innate specticism about some of these steeping parameters, Teavivre is REALLY good about making them accurate to the specific tea. I tend to brew per my own general guidelines but following the exact directions for each tea yields a different (and sometimes better) result for the Teavivre teas. The dedication to optimal brewing per tea and per batch is remarkable, and much appreciated – even from a brewing sinner.
After this minute in the boiling bath, I have a boldly aromatic tea with hints of cinnamon, spice, hay. I can smell it from across my desk, it has a note that suggests a potential bitterness, but is generally appealing. It also maybe smells a bit roasty, and perhaps a bit floral.
First sips reflect the flavour quite well. Some sweet baking spice flavour, some roastiness, no bitterness or astringency. It reminds me of the Taiwan Oriental Beauty I sampled the other day. Very nice!
EDIT: Second steep: As usual, I got distracted with work and this went 2 or possibly closer to 3 minutes with boiling water. This results in some astringency, a very dry tongue with the start of bitterness. I don’t like that, but I know it is my fault so I shan’t try a third. If I can get past the self-inflicted astringency, it tastes much like the first. Bakey and roasty with a bit of sweet and spice. Like snickerdoodles or cinnamon buns.
On this stormy day, the beau and I are steeping up a gongfu session of this oolong, provided to us for free by Teavivre. I am a roasted oolong/black tea kind of girl so this is one that I expect to be a bit more familiar with than the others Angel sent. I followed Teavivre’s steeping directions with the 7 gram sample in my small gaiwan with 95 degree water. The dry smell is quite green, like sweet hay. The leaves are rolled pretty tightly, but there are a lot of broken crumbs as well.
I sifted it before putting it in the gaiwan to take out most of the crumbs and that removed about 1/3 of the volume. Since this is my first sample I don’t know if it just happened to get crushed or if that is typical with this tea, but it was a lot more broken leaf than I would expect in any tea, let alone one that costs $26/100grams. I’ll try to remember to update this once I’ve opened the other two samples and see if it was an anomaly.
Anyway, after a quick rinse to awaken the leaves I gave this a 15 second steep. This is a very pale steep, barely a hint of colour but the aroma is very strongly of a Big Red Robe. The beau is addicted to Red Robe, so he is pumped. The taste is a bit spicy and sweet on the end of the sip, lingering on the tongue. It’s very full bodied and much more intensely flavoured than the colour would have you think. I am very glad I sifted off the crumbs as there is absolutely no bitterness here. Roasty oolong, light sweet hay and notes of spices cookies like snickerdoodles.
Steep 2 at 15 seconds again, surprisingly the leaves haven’t fully opened yet. At the moment there seem to be a lot of sticks and about 3/4 length leaves (haha!) rather than fully intact. Again, this may be an anomaly, so I’ll try to compare the others after. This steep smells much the same but with a bit of smoke. The beau says this is more green tasting, with a hint of black, tending to taste more like a black at the bottom. I disagree and find this more like a roasted oolong with a hint of smoke like the aroma. Not as much sweetness and I don’t really get the spice from before. Again, I am reminded of Big Red Robe, probably because that is one I am very familiar with.
Third steep at 20 seconds remains a light yellow and smells more of smoke than anything else. Not offensive and not strong, but like someone might be having a bonfire in the distance with some sweet smelling wood. I think that what I keep identifying as sweet is probably a floral note which I really enjoy. We both agree this tastes more smoky. Certainly no lapsang souchong, but there is smoke there from the roasting.
Fourth at 30 seconds – Getting a bit more smoky again, but the sweet floral aroma is back as well. Makes me think of colts cigarettes my Dad smoked when I was a kid. I used to lick the white part cuz it tasted good to me. This reminds me of that but I swear it is a positive association. Ahh, memories. The taste on this is a little more roasty than I would prefer with the floral taking a backseat. It almost comes off as astringent, but doesn’t quite develop. On the other hand, the beau says it is the best so far. Clearly there are different reactions to this one, just like all the others. :)
I’m worried about Steepster eating this massive missive so I shall save for now and enjoy a few more steeps offline. Will report back if anything amazing happens.
Summary: I preferred the first steep while the beau loved the last. It’s a pretty solid mix of roasted oolong and floral green oolong so it can appeal to both types of drinkers. I would like to see a lot less crumb, but that may be a fluke. Pretty nice drinking tea with no bitterness.