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Recent Tasting Notes
I did get around to opening my new Chun Mei from Teavivre tonight. They sent this as one of my samples a while back, and that was around the time I was first learning to appreciate green tea and learning how the Chinese value the astringency for cleansing the palate after meals. With this information in hand, I was better equipped to enjoy these teas and not try to fit them into the same molds as black teas.
The first time I tried this, I noted the bitter veggie taste – a slight sourness to the tea that made me feel it would never really be my “bag.” Then I noticed how there was a sweetness that would rise in the throat well after the sip and I started craving that sensation. Thus my order for a whole bag of it!
The first notable thing was that when I opened the pouch, right away my brain said “CHOCOLATE!”
Hmmm, that didn’t happen when I opened the Harney tin. I sniffed both teas. Yes, the Teavivre one smells very distinctly like chocolate, whereas the Harney tea requires much sniffing and snuffling to find a light almost chocolate note.
The Harney leaves are larger, while the Teavivre leaves are more broken. Perhaps this is the reason for the shorter recommended steep time, although the water temp they recommend is higher than usual for green. I think I noticed brothiness more with the Harney version. Right now, slurping this cup with lots of air to distinguish the flavors better, I am getting lots of chocolate from this, something I have never found in a green before and didn’t notice with my sample. The liquor in the cup is smelling Ike chocolate, too. And no, I didn’t have a chocolate tea in this pot recently, nor even allow a tea like Florence near it!
The biggest surprise is that my hubby has downed at least two cups of each, and he was not, and I mean NOT, a green tea drinker. I thought maybe he was just suffering through it for the health benefits so I asked him how he liked it. His reply was, “It’s good!” Wow. It really is.
You know how you can breathe out slowly, just so, to fog up glass? Breathe like that and sweet plum flavor floats up. Yum. Drink a bit more and it just floats up by itself!
I made two steeps of this today, Western style. The first one I drank all by myself, the whole pot! This is one I wouldn’t have liked not so long ago. The aftertaste is what wins me on this one. It is so sweet! But up front it is a little sour, a little astringent.
I made the second steep when my daughter came over. I thought it tasted even better than the first. I couldn’t believe that thirty seconds was going to do it when brewing Western style, but believe me, it does! This green tea has a lot of color at 25 seconds! Even the second steep at 30 seconds is a deep yellow-gold. I am saving the leaves to see if they can handle a third steep in the morning.
This sample from Teavivre was so generous that I still have enough left to make another pot and get several resteeps out of that. I am really thankful for their generosity in sending these. I have tried so many things I would not have chosen on my own, and it has really expanded my tea horizons!
This is my first Chun Mei, at least as far as I know!
The aroma and look of the leaves was completely different from the green tea I drank yesterday. This was not as brightly green, and had a completely different aroma. No wet cooked turnip or mustard greens here!
I accidentally used too much leaf. The first sip was astringent and a little sour, my fault. I had already resteeped the leaves so I did what I had read in an article on serving tea in Britain through the years. I read that sometimes tea was made extra strong and the hot water pot was used for people to adjust the tea to their liking. I picked up the kettle and added water until I had the right amount for the amount of leaf I used. All better!
This is still a drying tea, as it is supposed to be. It is neither bitter nor sour. It makes me think of sunshine on dry hay. I made four steeps and combined them all into one pot after tasting a sip from both the first and second steep unmixed. There is plenty of flavor left. I shall enjoy having this as my morning green!
Thank you, Angel and Teavivre!
What a cute little tea nub! I was a bit apprehensive about the pu-erh, but it’s hard to be nervous about something so harmless looking. You see, I’ve never had pu-erh before, or so I thought. Yet, the flavor is very familiar to me. It tastes like a Chinese tea house. Perhaps I have had pu-erh unknowingly because it tastes like the tea I used to get in dim sum houses. When I was young, my grandparents used to delight in taking me and my sister for “yum cha,” on weekends. It’s the Chinese version of brunch. There’s tea and greasy foods that are horrible for you. (Egg tarts!) I never paid much attention to what sort of tea my elders ordered when we ate at those dim sum places. What a young fool I was. I used to dislike tea, but I think it’s just because tea is brewed so carelessly in dim sum restaurants. I always enjoyed it when jasmine or chrysanthemum was on the table though. Flowers are tasty. Usually, some unknown dark tea was served. That tea tastes like this tea. I guess it must have been pu-erh. So all this time, I’ve been nervous for nothing. I’ve been drinking pu-erh since I was little.
I hear it’s recommended to discard the first steep, but I decided to take a taste before dumping it. hmm…not bad. Seems a waste to toss it out. I do prefer the second steep though. It tastes like rich leafy earth. It also tastes like weekends with my grandparents and other family. It brings me to crowded noisy restaurants with grouchy ladies pushing hot carts of food around. And pink table cloths. There are so many memories in this flavor. It feels wrong to drink it alone in the privacy of my home. I feel like taking my grandparents out for dim sum. My, usually, mild and jovial grandpa will fight you like a tiger for the check.
If I don’t drink pu-erh ever again, it won’t be because I don’t like it, but because I don’t want my associations with the flavor of this tea to change.
Anyway, I think I’m too emotionally attached to this tea to rate it objectively or even think about it in terms of flavor too much. Over all though, I think it’s pretty good. :)
Tea of the afternoon…..
I actually bought this tea to give to a friend, but I know she won’t mind if I sample it! I brewed this for a minute and threw out the first steep as kind of a rinsing phase. I can tell you that the smell was not great the first steep. I stuck with it and steeped for a minute the second time around. This time, I got something I actually did not mind the smell, and it was kind of chocolatey and tasted quite a bit like coffee. I am pleasantly surprised! I do see that I could be a real pu’erh drinker someday. While I did enjoy this cup, I don’t see myself drinking this kind of tea very often for now. However, a seed has been planted for sure. It is miles away from my first experiences with tuo cha from another vendor. Definitely an enlightening experience for me.
12 oz boiling water, second steep at 1 minute, 1 tuocha.
I am loving this tea today! I made Egg Fu Young for lunch and served this. It had so much flavor, sweet and creamy, smooth but no shrinking violet, it had lots of flavor. After lunch when I sipped, I could taste the slight smoke as well, but the food covered it with the meal.
This is fabulous, and just may join Huang Shan Mao Feng and Bi Luo Chun in my list of must have green teas.
Thank you, Teavivre, for sending this for me to try.
This is a free sample provided by *Teavivre*f or review.
I made this to accompany Asian takeout supper for hubby and myself. I knew from the first sip it was a good choice. As hubby passed by the table I told him the tea was really good. He said he thought so, too, and I was surprised. “You already tried it?”
“I finished my cup and refilled it.”
The leaves were deep dark green, long and thin, the scent strongly vegetal. The liquor was creamy and smelled of green beans and peas at first. It started out so smooth. As it sat, it became more brisk. The grassy note increased as well, but it was never unpleasantly brisk or grassy.
One sample pack – 24 ounces water – 185F – 3 1/2 minutes
Backlogging from last night:
I love the rich aroma of the dry leaf of this tea! It smells like strong, fresh veggies – mostly dark, leafy greens like spinach or collards.
I didn’t have a lot left so I was guessing at how much water to add. I decided to give it just a one minute steep because my oldest daughter was having tea with me and I wanted to keep it subtle. At one minute it had plenty of flavor. The taste was similar to the aroma, toned down a bit, really lovely. There was a slight sour taste after the sip, not in a bad way. We drank the whole pot, and I plan to resteep those leaves this morning.
Wow. We just had a one hour tech support call with a very sweet and patient young man. I could not make it through this computer snafu without tea, so I had youngest brew a pot of this up for me.
Not long ago I would not have liked this tea. I would have called it somewhat biting and astringent.
Now I still find the beginning of the sip rough, a little drying, and maybe a little…sour? But then magic happens. A vegetal flavor fills your mouth and throat and for a long time after you swallow there is a lingering sweetness that is positively addicting. I mean, really, REALLY sweet. I am so glad that I am finally learning to appreciate greens, and it is mostly thanks to Teavivre inviting me to try these. I let them choose the teas they sent so that I would be trying things I would not normally pick myself.
This is from the new tea box that just arrived from Teavivre. Thank you! I am also grateful that it was the excellent puerh they sent me that set my son and now his girlfriend on the tea drinking path. Neither of them liked tea until I gave them the Ripened Mini Tuo Cha Puerh.
When I opened the pouch, the dry leaves smelled strongly of spinach or possibly even cooked mustard greens or tender greens. Quite aromatic! The leaves are a very rich green color, thin and twisted. I was surprised when I peeked in the pot and saw how much they had unfolded. They are not as big as oolong leaves, certainly, but unfolded to impressive size considering how they looked dry.
The tea in my cup stills smells very much like spinach or mustard greens, milder now. The liquor is very pale, a light yellow that is almost clear. The taste is not mild or hidden in any way. The first grocery store green teas I tried years ago tasted like hot water. Not this cup! The liquor may be pale but the flavor is bold, the tea astringent and palate clearing. It is not bitter at all. The taste lingers.
Both steeps were two minutes. I think I would enjoy this even more going to the conservative side of their suggested steep time and stopping the first steep around one minute.
The second steep is much the same but just a wee bit milder.
Thank you, Angel Chen and Teavivre, for the opportunity to try your wonderful teas!
What a heavenly day! It was 44F this morning when the sun rose, and just a bit above that when I went out to feed the chickens. Breakfast was served by candlelight and with hot cocoa, but I knew I had to have some great tea to enjoy this first truly autumnal day. After breakfast, youngest and I made a pot of this to enjoy.
Quite a few of the Teavivre black teas have instructions for lower temps and shorter steep times, and I quite often make them by western parameters because I am used to the strength. This one, however, is best made just how they recommend. The water is cooler – 194F and the steep time quite short at two minutes, but that is fine with me because I get my tea faster!
The morning pot of tea was lovely and bracing, comforting and warming. I saved the leaves and we made two more steeps this afternoon as we enjoyed the cool air and the brilliant blue sky with the sunlight hitting the tops of the pines and making them almost glow with fresh green color. And the tea was perfect. Perfect perfect perfect for this beautiful, blessed day. There is cocoa, walnut skins, malt, and pure beauty in this.
Some of you know that hubby used to drink grocery store black tea with tons of sugar and milk, but then he really started getting into oolongs and greens and even whites. He has eschewed black tea for a long time now because he says he wouldn’t enjoy it without additions.
Since he drinks puerh and likes it, I didn’t mention what I was drinking outside on the big quilt in my secret garden. Guess who drank two cups?
Lots of reasons to shout “Hooray!” today.
Last night, I got a text from my oldest daughter who recently went from being a tea hater to a tea-because-it-is-good-for-me drinker. She asked me to order both some green and white tea for her.
A couple of hours later, this was followed up by a text from my son, who also never drank tea until a couple of weeks ago, asking me to order tea for his girlfriend for a Valentines gift from him, as she had really liked the puerh I gave her. Hours later, another text came in asking me to order some puerh for him as well. I am positively giddy.
Then the mailman brought my third and final box from Teavivre. I think he was afraid I was going to hug him. I refrained.
Now I am not sure. Having had this tea, he deserved that hug.
The aroma is rich and slightly smokey in the package. The steeped tea is decidedly chocolate-y, reminding me very much of the aroma of Emperor’s Red from Premium Steap. I taste chocolate and roasty toasty goodness. The smoke is now very subtle. I steeped by the suggested parameters.
I have had keemuns that I loved, keemuns that I liked a lot as long as I added milk and sugar, and keemuns that were strong enough to be undrinkable for me.
This one is flavorful yet polished. It is not overpowering, not bitter, not astringent. I could even see making it with slightly hotter water or a longer steep time if you like the really strong keemuns. But this is just about perfect for me.
The pot disappeared quickly and youngest and I wanted more. I resteeped at about 205 degrees, a little hotter than Teavivre calls for, and went an extra minute to just over three minutes for the steep.
The color is still good, the aroma still chocolate-y. Though not as strong as the first steep, this is still lovely and very drinkable.
Youngest is a real Keemun (and smoke) fan and gives it a thumbs up!
I would like to thank Asmanra for suggesting the Chinese flute on Pandora. The music and this tea are so relaxing. My last tasting I may have made a bit strong. This brew is perfect. A teaspoon for about 2 minutes and with my Chinese flute music I am in Heaven. Thank you again Angel at Teavivre for your generosity.
Jasmine is so relaxing. I love the aroma. When you pair it with a good tea the results can be heaven. This one is a bit strong but far from overwhelming. I probably was a bit heavy with the leaves so I had a steep of 2 minutes. It’s a golden hue with a dry in a pleasant way liquor. Once again I have a thumbs up from my non- tea drinking GF who hails from Anhui. I think she’s a fan of Jasmines. I am a fan of this. The second cup has lost much of the jasmine flavor but it has retained the character that this tea is all about. I am getting a slight numbing of the palate with cup 2. You will see in my profile that I am not a fan of flavored teas but I do enjoy a good jasmine. So very relaxing….
Sample provided courtesy of Teavivre…
I think I’m going to hold off on rating this for now because I really don’t love jasmine tea for the most part, however I did like the jasmine pearls from Teavivre a lot. This pretty much tastes like the jasmine green tea I got from Adagio and I really feel like I don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s pretty much like any other decent loose leaf jasmine tea I’ve ever tried. It is pleasant enough but very floral and a bit drying.
Been a l-o-n-g week; reentry after the holidays has been nuts. So I needed something really good to coax me out the door this morning.
Thanks to the lovely jacquelinem, I have just that—a cup that starts out cocoa-sweet at the beginning with a tangy, fruity sign-off at the end. Really too good for a workday morning. Highly recommended.
I have lots of ironing and house straightening to do today, spent yesterday morning with son getting his wisdom tooth out, and really wanted today to be extra relaxing and special even with so much holiday clean up to do. I knew I wanted a green or white tea so I could make the big tetsubin full and keep it over a warmer and keep refilling all day. I don’t have time sit and coddle a oolong, which I love to do. Maybe later…
As I pawed through my tea box, I discovered a sample I had not opened yet. Gads, how could this be?
This is a great fit for what I wanted today. It is a very subtle tea and I must say I think Tabby’s description was spot on. After the sip, there is a taste like fine frost. Anyone here remember freezers that got a layer of fine ice crystals? And everyone told the kids we were going to die of food poisoning or something if we kept eating it? It is also a taste I get from ice when I get severely anemic, but that is the only time I taste it, and crave ice. I bought an ice shaver years ago because I got so addicted to the taste of ice before we found out what the problem was. Take iron, and alas, ice is just ice.
Well, here is something that is warm and ever so slightly nutty on the way down, and afterwards fills your head with the freshness of frost melting off of the most pristine spring grass you could imagine.
Thank you, Teavivre and Angel Chen for the opportunity to try this!
When I want a green tea to go with a meal, this is the safest choice. It is one of my husband’s favorite greens. I made it to go with fried rice tonight and it was just right – not too weak, not too strong. He loves Cheerios, and this tastes likes oats to me so it follows that he would like it a lot.
Unfortunately, this finished my bag. Fortunately, I can always buy more! I am really happy that I have been whittling down my oldest teas. I have a chest for most of my Teavivre teas and it used to be packed so tightly that I could hardly get tea in and out of it. It is beginning to look a little sparse, so when I get a few more teas off the shelf I will place an order to replace the things we love.
This is a sample of the new harvest, generously supplied by Teavivre. Many thanks!
We have been away for a week and I was so happy to get back to MY tea things! I know everyone on here knows the feeling.
I believe these leaves are darker than last year’s, and the aroma stronger. And I thought last year’s was great! We made two steeps and combined them as we usually do when serving the tea with a meal. This has the trademark oat flavor I expect from Bi Luo Chun. Hubby loves Cheerios, so it isn’t a surprise that he loves this tea. It is one of the few that draws really specific comments from him. The liquor is golden, there is no hint of astringency, and the oat-y flavor is so smooth.
I bought this because I loved the way it looked! These leaves are twisted and soft and fluffy, but they have great staying power for resteeping. I have reviewed this a few times before so this time I will just say that I still mostly taste oats, specifically plain Cheerios. This is not a contemplative, meditative cup for me, but rather a tea I make either to go with Asian food or when I want green tea but I want a tea that will get me going and keep me going. For some reason, this tea makes me want to attack my to do list! That is exactly what I have GOT to do today!
I had ordered a sample of Bi Lo Chun from Harney and Sons to compare with this one from Teavivre. My results did not come out at all as expected. I thought the Teavivre tea would be fresher and more flavorful and wild win hands down. Instead, I am perplexed and surprised. This doesn’t taste like a fresher tea, it tastes like a completely different tea. It looks fresher, though, certainly. Since these are the only two Bi Lo Chuns I have tried, I don’t know which is more typical.
Teavivre’s was soft and fluffy, and the golden tips looked truly golden. Harney’s was browner, even the golden tips…it was just slighter darker in general. When steeped, the wet leaves of both brands look essentially the same. The liquor of the Teavivre tea was a clear yellow, rather pale. The Harney version was a bit darker, not much, and perhaps a wee bit cloudy, probably from the down.
Now the taste is where the two are really completely different. Teavivre’s is mildly nutty, grainy like Cheerios, (thank you KS for hitting that nail on the head), and light and lovely. It is good tea and overall is very mild.
Harney and Son’s has stronger flavor. Laid over all else is a front note of…sour? tart? But good! Maybe citrus. Harney says there is an orange flavor, possibly picked up from the orange blossoms that grow around the plantation. By its nature, it reminds me of a light astringency but is more like the taste you would be left with if you had scraped an orange rind with your teeth. I think I really prefer the Harney version of this, but in a really mellow mood would perhaps want the Teavivre version.
Edited to add: Teavivre’s description of their tea matches the taste of Harney’s so maybe I didn’t use enough leaf? And Teavivre’s is far less expensive at $10.90 for 3.5 ounces, while Harney’s is $20 for two ounces
At one in the a.m. I was still awake and heard rain, and since I had a bit of a dry and scratchy throat I thought it would be nice to get up, make a pot of tea, and write letters while listening to the rain falling. While my tea steeped, I stepped out back to enjoy the sound of the rain. Lovely! And hardly chilly at all.
The dry leaves are beautiful…so fluffy and light. The aroma is outstanding, I would even say it is arresting. There was a bare hint of smoke, lots of grain, and buttery but somehow slightly spicy veggies, and for the first time I thought I caught a whiff of fine pipe tobacco.
I steeped for just over one minute and immediately started a resteep, because I don’t want to waste this and I knew I could reheat it in the morning.
The flavor is very light, almost like a white tea. There is a tiny touch of astringency, the good kind!
The warmth is soothing my throat, and the tea is soothing my soul. I think when I finish writing this letter to my friend, I will sleep very well indeed.
Next, I want to try steeping this in my gong fu set. I find sometimes the flavors unfold and pop out more brilliantly when the tea is prepared that way. I can hardly wait to try it!
Thank you to Angel Chen and Travivre for this sample!
Now that we are afraid to go to our Chinese buffet because they started using MSG and gave hubby a horrible migraine, I decided to try to make some of our favorite things at home. Tonight I made Chinese green beans with ginger and garlic, and faux lomein. Don’t ask. Okay, it was Ramen noodles but I made my own sauce and added lots of water chestnuts because I LOVE them.
I wanted a good, authentic green tea for after my meal, and as I went through my box of samples from Teavivre I found this! Ad I am so glad I did!
The dry leaves were soft and fluffy like Zhen Qu Super China Black, an excellent tea. I didn’t read the directions and steeped for three minutes since I was not brewing gong fu style. It is very good.
Even exceeding the recommended limit as much as I did, this was smooth and there was no bitterness.
I am astounded at K S’ description of Cheerios on the front of the sip. Absolutely! Nail on the head! And so forth. :) A lovely grain flavor at the beginning, and instead of picking up floral, I am getting light buttery taste. Another great tea from Teavivre. Thank you, Angel and Teavivre!
A great sample I received from Teavivre. I set up a proper tasting with degustation sets for each of the teas. Well, I didn’t do the traditional 6 minutes, but I did my best for the type of tea. Here’s my notes.
Dry leaf: rolled, but not really into balls. Irregular and with various stems. Perhaps this points to hand-rolling?
Brewing method: 3g, tasting set, 90 for 1 minute
Aroma: Very green aroma with a light touch of sweetness.
Infusion: Yellow-gold liquor.
Taste: Very light. Probably could be infused longer to good effect. Taste of spring flowers and grilled zucchini.
I infused this another time with a longer infusion to try and capture more flavor. It was much more bold, but still with a light body. Definitely good, and definitely a spring Oolong. I tend to lean toward winter harvests, myself, so perhaps this is just too young for me. I may let some rest in the packaging for a time to see if it improves (a trick taught to me by some tea friends in Taiwan).