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Recent Tasting Notes

I just realized there is a crack in my glass 12 oz little teapot, which I mostly use as a pitcher during gongfu brewings.
…sigh… the crack is by the handle, & it also leaks, a drop at a time. I have really enjoyed this little one. I always feel sad when it’s time to say goodbye to good teaware, but of course this also means I get to look around for a replacement…

This lovely tea is a sample sent to me from Angel @ TeaVivre Thanks so much!
The aroma of the leave is green, of course, but also buttery & rich.
I steeped the whole sample packet in my 12 oz (cracked) glass pot, at 185 for 2 minutes. It’s a delicate, sweet & rich little tea with a light fragrance. It reminds me of eating sunflower sprouts. I haven’t grown those in awhile, & they are just SO good, kind of nutty & buttery & freshly green. This tea reminds me of those, & it is a very nice delicate fresh lightly vegetal cup. Very lovely.
Thanks again Angel :)

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Although I like this one better than the lapsang souchong I got from Della Terra Teas, I’m starting to think that smoky teas are not my thing. In comparison the DTT Lapsang this one is more subtle about the smokiness and there is a silky sweetness that was missing in the other. There is no bitter burnt aftertaste either.

It probably doesn’t help my opinion of smoky teas that I associate the taste with the last time I had the stomach flu-I threw up a whole bunch of smoky bbq ribs. Well at least I tried another smoky tea and could taste that it was higher quality even if it’s not my favorite.

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Thanks to Angel from Teavivre for this sample.

The leaves (both dry and when initially wet) surprised me with their extremely bright green color, which inevitably led to a highly “green” liquor—very floral and herbaceous taste with pale-green liquor coloration, a crisp mouthfeel, and a general lack of persistent, full aroma. I’ll chalk this one up as another modern “green tea” tieguanyin and move on. The flavors were of the general tieguanyin spectrum, although were more subdued than those of other similar spring tieguanyin*, so I won’t go into much detail there. Instead, I’ll focus on the aromatic and textural qualities that set this one apart (for better or worse).

I generally prefer the autumn harvests of tieguanyin for their more pervasive aromatics and depth, especially with this kind of lightly- or un-roasted tieguanyin. I found the fragrance of this one to be quite lacking, as I alluded to above, which seemed to bring out the highest overall intensity after the wash and then fade quickly throughout the session. The scent on the gaiwan lid was fleeting after each steep, while my tasting cup had little to no lengxiang (lit. cold fragrance; the scent leftover after the liquor has been drained). However, I found there to be dimensions of the wet leaves’ fragrance that were unique, such as a deeply vegetal, “green wood” quality that was somewhere in the earthy spectrum of scents.

I found the mouthfeel and general “form” of the liquor to be quite enjoyable. I noticed almost no astringency whatsoever, and a long smoothness for each sip. Although the textural dimensions remained on the light side during the opening and development of a sip, the finish was sticky and somewhat thick, with a faint cooling sensation in the throat. With more leaf in the gaiwan*, a small tartness in the throat is detectable, although the information Teavivre provides for this tea indicates that it shouldn’t have this quality because of the lack of tuo suan during processing. Again, it didn’t seem to be there with lower quantities of leaf (as in half the sample pack per 100 mL of water), but it wasn’t a negative quality to me regardless.

*Using a bit more than half the bag will result in more intense/full flavors, at the expense of some smoothness, in my experiences. Both produce sessions that are good in their own right, depending on what qualities you desire. Teavivre seems to recommend the entire bag for gaiwan brewing, but for my preferences the cramping of the leaves at that concentration produces a sub-optimum infusion.

190 °F / 87 °C

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I spent the afternoon savoring cup after cup of this Shu. It really is a pleasant earthy & sweet tea. I felt like I was drinking the forest floor, a deeply decomposed leaf pile. Later it took on a cedar essence as well. This really is a nice tea. Thank you Angel & TeaVivre for this sample.

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About a week ago I was weeding my blackberry bramble, & as I breathed in the aroma of the mulch under the berry canes, it reminded me of Shu: rich, earthy, musty, damp, wonderful. I have 3 Oak trees in my yard, & every year I pile all the leaves in a very large bin, where they are allowed to break down for 18 monthes. I have 2 such bins, for alternating years, & the resulting leaf mulch gets piled under berry bushes, mixed into garden soil, etc, along with compost from my compost piles.

I haven’t been drinking a lot of puerh lately. I have plenty (believe me…), & I love both Shu & Sheng. I guess I’ve just been busy. Also, I’ve been sampling a lot of teas, & because I like to do long gongfu sessions with Puerhs (and oolongs), I end up just drinking one tea all afternoon, instead of several samples. Also, I’ve been running around on errands &/or gardening a lot lately too, so not a lot of time to sit around pouring gongfu steepings.

So today is the day! Tony & I have been in pajama mode all afternoon, & I’ve been enjoying this generous sample sent to me from Angel @ TeaVivre. Thanks Angel :D

I have a gaiwan at Tony’s, but no scale, so I don’t really know how much tea I put in there, basically the whole sample. It was a beautiful sample: nice dark fragrant chunks of teacake, beautiful brown with golden highlights. I gave it a quick rinse, then started steeping.
1st round, all combined in a cup: 10 sec, 15, 20, 25
2nd round: 30, 40, 50, 60
3rd round: transferred all the leaf to a steeping basket & steeped in the cup for 3 minutes.
I may do another couple of rounds at 4 & 5 minutes.

The resulting brew was a beautiful dark chocolate brown, rich with an earthy grounding flavor, smooth & sweet, with a pleasant qi feeling, & a delightful tongue tingling sensation. A perfect way to spend the afternoon.

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I’ve been wanting to try this one for a long time. Pretty much since I discovered milk oolongs by accident with the American Tea Room’s milk oolong. The bar was set crazy high with ATR’s version and this one doesn’t quite match it, although it is very enjoyable. Thanks Alysha for sending it my way. I’ll definitely be finishing off the whole bag!


FYI, ATR’s oolong is unlike other milk oolongs because it is actually some crazy Tie Guan Yin variety, not a Jin Xuan like most milk oolongs. Just a warning that you may continue to be disappointed! I had to divorce my expectations from that milk oolong and after that I enjoyed other ones much more.


Interesting! Good to know! It probably wasn’t a good one to start with as no other can match it. I actually like della Terra’s a lot too. It’s super buttery.

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Sipdown, 120. Woohoo, made it to 120 before my trip! I looked back at the Hiatus discussion thread where I said I wanted to be down to 140 before my trip, but this is way better. And I’m not done with sipdowns yet for the week!

This is pretty nice but I don’t think it’s my favorite dragonwell. In fact I think I like the lower grade “Premium” dragonwell from Teavivre better. This one seems a bit grassier and less buttery. Maybe it needs a bit less leaf for the amount of water, too, because even at one minute this is very potent. Still tasty, though, and I’m happy to have gotten to try this one.

Boiling 1 min, 0 sec

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Thanks to Teavivre for this sample for tasting! I am so glad that I my enjoyment for unflavored green teas has gone nowhere, even though I can’t get behind flavored ones so much anymore.

I think I oversteeped/overleafed this one a bit. Looking at steeping cup, I meant to only brew it for 1 minute but got distracted and it got an extra 30 seconds, so it is edging on too bitter-greens for me. Still, this is quite tasty. Very nutty and buttery, with a smooth, silky texture. A bit grassy, though I think that is accentuated by the oversteep. I am enjoying the later steeps as well, though for some reason they are still edging on that bitter grassiness. I’ll probably cut the leaf when I try this again; I’ll wait until then to rate it.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec

There must be a contest for the longest tea name ever imagined that these guys are hoping to enter…

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Thanks first to Angel at Teavivre, who graciously sent me this tea as part of the spring harvest offerings.

I’ll start out by saying that I don’t really think I have a well defined palate for distinguishing subtleties in teas, especially greens. I do my best and try to gage what I taste, based on what others are tasting, and if I can connect the two somehow.

The leaves of this one are simply divine…rich green, broad and flat leaves. The scent coming from the newly opened packet was crisp and fresh, with some vegetal presence. I don’t think I could tell you which vegetables though. I used a bamboo tea spoon in my steeper, and used boiled water that had cooled for a few minutes (I lost track of time so I don’t know exactly how long). I also lack a thermometer so I am unsure of the exact temperature at the time of steeping. I did follow the 1 minute time for western style.

The brew, after a minute, was very very pale. I wondered whether I should have steeped longer. I get a mild tasting green tea, which has some presence and body, but not much. It’s still a bit too hot to get a good sip. I did add a small amount of sugar, less than I usually do. It does have that very savory flavour to it, in that brothy sort of way though, with or without sugar.

I am not an expert of green teas, especially Chinese green teas, and I can’t say as I’ve ever had a Dragon Well before. I feel like I have, a long time ago though. Also, I really have a hard time distinguishing varieties of the same tea. Maybe it is my allergies too. I’d like to have a tasting some time, with someone who knows what to look for in the teas to help me develop my palate sensitivity more.

What do I think of this tea then? I think it is a lovely looking tea, and the taste is smooth from what I can tell right now. I suspect more notes will come out stronger as the tea cools some, so I may come back here and add to this note. I can say that I do like what I have tasted thus far, but I can’t say I am in love. It is something that is a nice change of pace for me though.


Oh! I should bring you my three different Dragon Well batches. I promise you’ll be able to taste the difference, barring that they haven’t grown old! :)


Ok. Thanks!

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Sipdown No. 4 today. I’d like to thank Angel @ TeaVivre for this sample.
This is a lovely, lightly vegetal green tea with a heavenly peach aroma. The jasmine is present, but only slightly. The peach flavor is very subtle, although from past experience I can say that if you add a slight amount of sweetener, it moves the peach forward a few notches. What I really like about this is the true peach flavor. So many peach teas taste (& are) artificial. This one is nice.

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Final Tea of the day. This time I used the entire sample packet for 2 minutes, & the results was a gentle green slightly peachy cup. I ddin’t really get any Jasmine from it, but it was a nice afternoon elixir.

Thanks again to Angel & TeaVivre for this sample.

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I drank a cup of this earlier in the day. It’s a very delicate tea, almost more like a white tea, lightly flavored with Jasmine & juicy peach. I’m usually not a big fan of flavored greens, but this is a really gentle brew with an authentic peach taste, very enjoyable.

Thanks again to Angel @ TeaVivre for this generous sample!

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I received the next round of samples from TeaVivre. Thank you Angel for this generous parcel of teas! Admittedly, I’m not as into green tea as I used to be, & most of the samples are of that genre, but I do enjoy a good cup of green here & there, so I’m looking forward to sampling all of these. I’m enjoying this while watching Cardinals baseball.

This is a very mild cup. The peach flavor is lightly sweet & very subtle, a natural peach essence, not some phony flavoring agent. The green tea is a very gentle one, not grassy or particularly vegetal, but more of a creamy cooked cereal flavor, almost more like a white tea, actually. I’m not really picking up much of a jasmine flavor. Kind of reminds me of when I used to cook steel cut oats in the crockpot over night & serve them topped with peaches that had been sauteed in a buttery skillet. There’s a little astringency, but not enough to take away from the pleasantness of this cup. I already know which of my students I will enjoy sharing this with.

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I have truly been enjoying these fresh spring green samples from TeaVivre Thanks so much again for the samples!

Fresh Dragon Well is a simple pleasure. So clean and crisp and sweet! Maybe not as complex as other teas but it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes all you need is a little green to brighten your life :)

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I normally don’t read the reviews before I post on a new tea. I did for this one. I did not get the same consistently amazing results others reported. I believe it was my own fault. I insisted on using my standard western big mug approach with half the sample. Do not try this at home! The result was generally an overly weak mug. Go ahead use all the sample and a smaller cup.

Even though I kind of blew this one, the second mug was fabulous. Here are my notes on that one:

For the second mug I steeped about 2 1/2 minutes. This cup fills your mouth with delicious combination of floral and fruit. The first sip was one of those Mmmmm moments, you know when the world goes into momentary freeze frame and you get lost in the cup. Yeah, its that good. It still has that wonderful thick creamy feel and I notice a fair amount of cooling sensation on my breath. The aftertaste hangs around with kind of a melon taste.

Tie Guan Yin normally has a distinctive floral taste, well except this one. I mean it is there, but it is just different. This is so much fresher, lighter, more defined but harder to describe. Normally I think of Tie Guan Yin as tasting like a geranium plant smells. This is closer to something like rose petals with citrus (peach and melon?), and warm spices. It is just Wow!

Not rating until I brew this one correctly. The second cup was easily a 90+.

Boiling 2 min, 30 sec

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Made this one this morning since I had a headache…I do seem to like my straight blacks on such occasions.

The first thing I noticed is how light and fluffy the leaves are, and how lovely they are with the golden tips. Now, perhaps because I have been heavy on the pu erhs lately, this tasted light and sweet. I did use my organic cane sugar, and a little milk.

I can’t really go into too much detail on the intricacies of this steep, as I was in bed with the headache, and this was at my bedside.

This sample was quite tasty though, despite the headache, and I’m glad there is more for me to have. I’m sure I’ll like the rest of the sample, so many thanks to Angel at Teavivre for sending this.

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Ok, so this is one of two black teas I got from Angel at Teavivre in this round of teas. I have liked most of the blacks I have received from her, so I picked either Golden Monkey or Super Fine Tan Yang Gong Fu to replace the Organic Superfine Keemun Fragrant Black Tea. I was worried about the fragrant part of the tea. So Angel ended up sending me both of the alternate teas, instead of picking one, so that was too kind of her.

I realized I have not properly reviewed the first black tea, the Tan Yang, aside from saying it is yummy, though I have had a few cups of it. And it is indeed yummy. The leaves on the Golden Monkey are much darker than those of the Tan Yang. The brew of the Golden Monkey turned dark red within a few minutes of the steep.

I did add milk and sugar, as always, to this tea, though I did try a sip without first. Anyhow, the first thing I noticed was the juicy mouthfeel—that saliva inducing feeling. I can’t recall if I noticed that with the Tan Yang. This brew also seems to have more body to it than the Tan Yang also, but that is neither good nor bad.

I get the same malty, bready, yammy taste with this as I do the Tan Yang. I am reminded of the carrot muffins I had recently. I don’t really notice much smokey tones at all in this tea, nor can I detect any cocoa, but I don’t really pride myself on having a refined palate when it comes to picking out the more subtle tones. Also, since I westernize the tea by my additions, I probably loose some of the more subtle tastes that are more present in a straight tea like this by itself.

I can say that, like the Super Fine Tan Yang Gong Fu black tea, this one is equally delicious. I am brewing my second steep right now. I will enjoy the rest of this sample. Many thanks go to Angel at Teavivre again, for including this one in my latest round of samples for review. Teavivre has some excellent straight black teas in their line-up.

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Got this as one of my samples from my first Teavivre order! :D

Well this is my first lapsang souchong. I felt it was a type of tea I ought to try, but so far I’m not terribly sure if I like it! I always thought of myself as someone who liked a smoky taste, but yeah… wow. Heh. One thing I can tell you though, is that it tastes like the old campfires from days dearly missed with the family on camping trips from my childhood.

In the sense of the nostalgia, I love it dearly, as it brings back so many memories. If I close my eyes, I can almost swear I’m in front of a nighttime campfire at Christina Lake. It doesn’t taste entirely like smoke, I definitely can taste the wood they used in the fire. I feel like this would be best drunk outside in the fresh air with the birds chirping. I think I might wander outside with this in fact.

All that said though, while I’m happy to go down a trip on memory lane, I think I’d rather think about my camping memories than drink them. I’m happy I tried this, as I really felt like this was something I should try as a black tea lover.

EDIT: yeah, not loving it. Made it halfway through the cup and just tossed it. xD; Definitely glad it was a sample, and still happy that I finally tried a lapsang souchong for the first time.

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

Haha. I’m named after Christina Lake! But the nurse spelled my name wrong. :) I feel the same way about lapsang souchong. For me, they’re a tea for sniffing or cooking with.


No kidding? Haha, that’s cool! Well it’s a beautiful lake and area to be named after, that’s for sure. It’s my happy place, full of good memories.

Well it was sort of enjoyable for a few sips, but after that I was done. Definitely loved the smell too though.

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I’m gonna pull a shmiracles with this post, but first let me thank Angel at Teavivre for letting me try this tea.

First of all, as it has been said in other reviews, this tea comes in a vacuum sealed bag inside another vacuum sealed bag. Upon opening the inner bag, the tea immediately makes way into your senses. The smell is fresh, clean, buttery and floral, and the colour is an amazing vibrant green. Like all TGY teas, the leaves of this one are tightly rolled and they open up once they hit the hot water.

Is this not gorgeous?? Assuming it is visible outside the realms of Facebook.


Drinking this tea, I thought of a song called “Shimmering, Warm, and Bright” by Bel Canto (a Norwegian band).


I’m drinking this infusion plain, no sugar or anything. I do tend to drink my lighter oolongs plain, or with a very small amount of sweetener. I can pick up a smooth buttery feeling, slightly drying, and a light and somewhat sweet floral note. There is also a slight savoury taste, like roasted nuts or something. Whatever it is, it is all very good! I hope to get more steeps. Next time I think I may start with a shorter steep time, and build up as I re-steep.

Thanks again for letting me try this tea!


bwhahaha “pull a shmiracles”?!?! oddly flattering yet playfully mocking all at once! megaloveit!
BUT seriously!! when i am doing something fun or meaningful or exciting my basic first thought is, i will mention this on steepster. i have to. i just have to.
i can’t be the only one who thinks this. i try to explain to people who don’t love tea how nice it is to have a ramshackle community that will observe my nonsense and occasionally join in the fun. people with a mix of similar and opposing interests that are all kind and thoughtful and curious.

and bel canto.
i can’t tell you how many mixed tapes i put “Paradise” on!!
also “I’ll Strangle You”.
tons and tons of gothed out 90’s mixed tapes. over and over.


(but bummer, i can’t see the picture link)


I’ll see if I can work around the picture and post it another way. And it was flattering because I posted a picture link and video/music link. It was homage.


Magic Box was my least favourite cd from them. There are good songs on there, but their first three releases are my favourites. Shimmering, Warm, and Bright is super sentimental for me.


Try this link for pictures.



wowz amazingly green!


I know, right?! Truly gorgeous oolong!

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