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Recent Tasting Notes
Brewed gongfu style. Dry leaves smell like sweet potatoes, cocoa, slightly floral.
Steep 1: Very malty, but with some sweetness from the sweet potato note. The mouthfeel is smooth yet thin. This reminds me of Teavivre’s Yunnan Gongfu which I had earlier in the year, which makes sense considering they’re both Fengqing blacks. That one was a little fruity at times, so I wonder if this will be similar.
2: Tastes like a simpler, less sweet version of steep one. I didn’t brew it as long, so that could be why, but it seems like quite often the second steep of a Dianhong when brewed gongfu style is the least sweet.
3. Sweet cocoa and wheat. The mouthfeel has thickened a lot since the first cup, but it’s not creamy, more soft like some kind of fabric if that makes sense.
4. Smoky. Otherwise about the same.
5. Smokier. The mouthfeel is starting to get thinner, and it’s mostly just malty now, with a hint of sweet potato. There’s a bit of that typical black pepper spiciness too, which I hadn’t noticed in earlier steeps.
6. Smoky, malt flavored water. Interestingly, there’s still some spiciness. I wish this had started earlier instead of appearing just as the tea finished.
For the price, it’s quite good. It’s probably more suited to western style brewing than gongfu, but I like trying all new Chinese blacks this way.
Flavors: Black Pepper, Cocoa, Malt, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Wheat
Had to go to the DMV today. Yeah, no matter what city or state, it’s always the most inefficient operation ever. lol
I wanted something special so I chose the Nonpareil Taiwan DaYuLing High Mountain Cha Wang Oolong Tea. The type of tea that is flourishing waaaay the heck up there (2500m+), away from it all, where its cooler year around. The type of tea that is quite expensive but hey, it is DaYuLing, and a great one too ($36.90 for 50g).
Tightly dark green nuggets, large leaves when unfurled. It has a noteworthy aroma with a mixture of orchid, vegetal, fruit, sweetness. Smooth, silky, calming. Sweet, creamy, buttery, some chestnut, umami, gardenia/floral notes, seaweed/marine notes towards the end. Balanced and well-rounded, complex yet subtle, lingers at the throat and back of the tongue well after you finish your steep, a comforting effect. Full-bodied, thick mouth-feel & in the throat.
Gaiwan, 7g, 212℉, 110ml, 8 steeps: rinse, 30s, 30s, 50s, 70s, 90s, 120s, 150s, 180s
Flavors: Butter, Chestnut, Creamy, Floral, Marine, Orchids, Seaweed, Sweet, Umami
Flowery, perfumey, light milk aroma. Sweet and super light vegetal notes compared to other TGYs. More of a floral taste instead of green, no real fruit notes that I can detect. Subtle buttery notes in the early steeps. Very slight bitterness, some astringency on 2nd steep but not overwhelming. It makes it work, makes it interesting and delicious. On the 6th steep, cut green grass notes came out, with a slight vegetal aroma and the floral taste subsided a bit, became a little tart. Although light bodied, its complex, as it changes on each steep.
7g Tea, 212℉, 110ml, 7 steeps: rinse, 20s, 40s, 60s, 80s, 100s, 120s, 180s
Flavors: Butter, Flowers, Freshly Cut Grass, Milk
There are problems that arise only in the lives of dedicated (obsessed?) tea drinkers. One of the most irritating is figuring out what to do with the tiny amount of leaf left over at the bottom of a pouch. While sometimes this is due to carelessness, it’s more often due to wanting to steep a sample properly and not having enough tea for two sessions.
This is what happened with the Yun Nan Dian Hong I reviewed a few days ago. I decided to be optimistic and steeped my remaining 2 g Western in a 355 ml mug at 185F for 3 and 6 minutes. The tea stood up fairly well to this treatment, with muted flavours of cocoa, caramel, earth, and sweet potato, but I think I was asking too much of it. Maybe I should have cold brewed it instead. Or maybe I should finally cave in and buy smaller Western cups.
Anyway, this is a great tea that requires further research, and I’m not changing my rating!
This is a sample from a giveaway Teavivre hosted this spring. I haven’t had many of their black teas, so I was eager to try this one. I steeped 5 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot according to the website’s instructions: 185F for 10, 10, 15, 20, 30, and 40 seconds. I then prolonged the session with steeps of 60, 90, and 240 seconds because the tea was so good.
First of all, the dry aroma from these gorgeous tight, fuzzy golden curls is floral, malty, and faintly spicy. . The first steep, which disappeared in under a minute, is a wonderful balance of malt, sweet potato, and cocoa. The body is slightly velvety from all the trichomes. The second steep, which was also for 10 seconds, has a bit of earthy Yunnan astringency, but it, too, vanished in record time.
The third and fourth steeps have even more intense notes of malt, sweet potato, caramel, baked bread, wood, and earth. The aftertaste is now fairly drying and astringent, but there’s a lovely sweet potato aroma left at the bottom of the cup. The sweet potato fades a bit into a smooth, earthy, caramel Yunnan black in the next couple steeps, and though the astringency gets stronger in my “bonus” rounds, it’s still a darn good tea.
Given that I find many Yunnan black teas too malty and tend to use them for morning fuel, I’m surprised how much I enjoyed this sample. If Teavivre’s other black teas are like this one, I’ll have to try more of them.
Flavors: Astringent, Baked Bread, Caramel, Cocoa, Earth, Malt, Smooth, Sweet Potatoes, Wood
When I first tried this I had said the leather taste was a bit overwhelming but was willing to give it another try. I got my sample today, so I’m writing another note. I’m glad that I did. I love the TeaVivre sample packaging. The mini-tin foil packages with all the info printed on them. I wish they offered a big bag of them with all kinds of their different teas. I would get it since it’s so convenient.
The dry leaves were a mixture of dark and golden long strands, very little tea dust. The dry leaves had an earthy aroma. The wet leaves smelled of earth, leather, smoke. The liquor was a very dark brown similar to that of coffee with some deep red hues. The taste was what I remembered: Earthy, smooth, mellow. The leather notes were definitely there as before but it didn’t bother me this time around, perhaps because I’m relatively new to ripe Pu’er (Sheng person) and am getting used to it more and more. I’m having it around noon but I think this tea would be great any time as it’s soothing, comforting, mellow. Maybe nice on a cold night, snuggled watching your favorite movie. I bumped the rating up because I really didn’t think I gave it a fair shot the first time since like I said I have little experience with ripe pu-erhs. It was very enjoyable and ultra smooth.
Yixing gaiwan, 212℉, 110ml, 7g, 8 steeps: rinse, 10s, 15s, 20s, 25s, 30s, 50s, 80s, 120s
Flavors: Earth, Hay, Leather, Smoke
The liquor is a very dark, reddish brown with an earthy aroma. I prepared it in a porcelain gaiwan and followed the suggestion Boiling water, 7 g, 8 steeps: rinse, 10s, 15s, 20s, 25s, 30s, 50s, 80s, 120s. It was a wonderfully soft mouthfeel, and the taste was aged, sweet, mellow and extremely smooth going down but alas, its just not for me, despite all the great reviews, I just couldn’t get past the strong leather taste.
I bought another sample to try again. Sometimes I’m just not in the mood for certain types of tea so I’m going to give it another shot when it comes in a couple of weeks. ^^
Flavors: Dark Wood, Earth, Leather
The liquor is a pretty clear yellow. Aromatic with rich fruit & honey aroma. Fresh cut apricots came to mind. Every steep was crisp, smooth, sweet, and full of flavor that lingered forever. Throughout the infusions, no hint of neither tartness nor bitterness. It was refreshing, mild, light bodied, mellow, and lots of stonefruit notes. After finishing the sample, I went to their site and put it in my cart for my next order, that’s how much I liked it.
Porcelain gaiwan – 5g, 194, 110ml,9steeps: rinse, 60s, 65s, 70s, 60s, 65s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 120s
Flavors: Apricot, Floral, Fruity, Honey, Rainforest
This is a pleasant baked tie guan yin. It has a strong charcoal baked and floral aroma. Floral sweet notes, vegetal notes, mixed with the charcoal baked taste. Smoky, light astringency, and some minerality. No bitterness until the last infusion, but it was very faint. The sea sedge and vegetal notes were more pronounced at the later steeps, which I enjoyed.
Gaiwan, 7g, 212℉, 110ml, 5 steeps: rinse, 25s, 40s, 55s, 70s, 85s
Now that I have gotten reviews of two of the remaining teas from September out of the way, allow me to move on to something I consumed much more recently. I finished what I had of this tea earlier in the week. At one point in fairly recent history, I was a huge fan of Huangshan Maofeng, but nowadays I find myself preferring Chinese green teas that display more powerful aromas and flavors. Still, I cannot penalize a tea for being exactly what it is supposed to be and doing exactly what it is supposed to do, so I will go ahead and offer the opinion that this was an excellent Huangshan Maofeng.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of tea buds and leaves in 4 ounces of 176 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry bud and leaf mix emitted strong mineral, hay, and straw aromas that were accented by hints of sugarcane and honey. After the rinse, I noted new scents of cream, chestnut, and malt. The first infusion then introduced some subtle scents of pine and lettuce. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented delicate notes of grass, chestnut, malt, straw, cream, and pine that were backed by impressions of seaweed, butter, and spinach before a spicy mineral presence dominated the mouth. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of butter, cream, grass, hazelnut, and fennel. Stronger and more prominent butter and cream notes emerged in the mouth alongside a stronger and spicier mineral presence and belatedly emerging impressions of lettuce, hay, honey, and sugarcane. New notes of umami, fennel, hazelnut, grass, bamboo, and peas appeared as well. The last couple of infusions offered lingering mineral, cream, butter, lettuce, grass, seaweed, and chestnut notes that were backed by fleeting umami, sugarcane, pea, and hay hints.
In my experience, Huangshan Maofeng is normally a subtler, more textured, and more challenging green tea. This one was certainly no exception. There was a lot going on with it, however, and it produced a sterling example of the sort of wonderfully textured tea liquor for which Huangshan Maofeng seems to be so renowned. Again, this may not be the sort of Chinese green tea I often crave these days, but I am not going to slight a tea that does everything one should expect of it really, really well. Overall, this was an excellent Huangshan Maofeng from a reliable vendor. Fans of this type of tea should give it a shot.
Flavors: Bamboo, Butter, Chestnut, Cream, Fennel, Grass, Hay, Hazelnut, Honey, Lettuce, Mineral, Peas, Pine, Seaweed, Spinach, Straw, Sugarcane, Umami
I don’t remember exactly when I got this tea from Teavivre but it was definitely from this year at some point…
I finally bought myself a glass teapot; until this point I’ve been steeping flowering teas in a glass gaiwan or a larger glass mug and that’s worked ok but there’s something much nicer in having a larger glass pot. It was a whole in my teaware collection I’ve known I need to fill for a while. This was my first time using the pot for a flowering tea though (not the first time in general though) and it WAS pretty magical watching the bloom unfurl in the pot. However, even with the pot completely filled to the top with water this particular bloom just REFUSED to sink to the bottom of the top. I think it was too top heavy or something? I just know those beautiful pink/purple amaranth balls kept leaning to the left and taking the whole bloom with them…
So, I don’t think it was as pretty as it could have been.
Taste wise, it was delightfully soft and silky though! Really gentle, mild notes – even after the bloom had been submerged in the water for a long time. Bitterness is definitely a very really concern with blooming teas, but that just didn’t happen with this tea at all. Definitely a big positive! Apart from just a general delicate sweetness and calming presence, the taste was obviously very floral – jasmine dominant/as the key floral flavour. I also felt like there was a TINY bit of elderflower-type sweetness though. Plus some of the grassy/beany taste of the green tea.
It was a nice experience; I’m glad I got to share the pot with family too – that made it a little more special for me.
Last sample of this. Wish it wasn’t so expensive ($24.90/50g) because it’s excellent Li Shan. (Update: At first, I thought, I’ll just get samples here and there of it when I can but decided to buy more. lol It’s very good.)
Lightly aromatic: Vegetal, orchard, vineyards with a little fragrance of natural sweetness, perhaps of fruit. The taste is light, subtle, soothing, umami, creamy and extremely smooth. If you like bold tea, this isn’t it. It has almost a velvety mouthfeel and throat-feel that are long-lasting as is the sweet aftertaste. Throughout all 8 steeps, it was flavorful, never going flat.
Da Hong Pao Yixing Teapot, 7g, 212℉, 110ml, 8 steeps: rinse, 25s, 25s, 30s, 40s, 60s, 90s, 120s, 180s
The sample came vacuumed sealed, and it was very fresh. Highly aromatic with an orchid aroma. My newbie taste buds can tell it is complex with notes I’m sure I obviously missed but it’s pleasantly sweet, heavy flavor and unlike other Tie Guan Yin I’ve tried, it does not have as much of the tart, sour finish that tugs at your cheeks but more a peaceful, light sweetness that lingers a long time. It’s floral, but not too vegetal, lots of melon notes and changed quite often and had depth and flavor throughout all 7 steeps.
The price is $15.90/1.75 oz. I have one more sample that I look forward to and if I enjoyed it like I did this time, I’ll probably keep it in my cupboard.
Gaiwan: 7g, 212℉, 100ml,7 steeps: rinse, 30s,40s, 50s, 60s, 80s, 100s,140s.
(A repeat review: TeaVivre already put it in the database. I input Nonpareil “Handmade” Anxi Qiang Xiang TieGuanYin Oolong Tea but probably the same tea.)
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Melon, Orchid, Tart, Vegetal
Gaiwan 7.5g, 7 steeps: rinse, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 70s, 90s, 140s
Updated: Liquor is bright orange. It has a wonderful strong roasted aroma. Has a slightly drying feeling on tip of the tongue. It is full-bodied & has rich roasted, woodsy flavor yet mellow and smooth, no bitterness, slightly astringent, brisk. Has a very slight buttery feel and light floral taste. The heavy roasted flavor is the predominant flavor throughout all 7 infusions as in, there are no surprises, just a good cup of tea.
Flavors: Astringent, Bark, Butter, Floral, Roasted
I am continue to make my way through a large collection of oolong samples from Teavivre I had recently received. This particlulat tea has been reviwed to death on Steepster and this tea being my first encounter with Dong Ding oolongs makes this review totally irrelevant for other people so I am doing it for myself to keep tracks of my likes and dislikes.
Surpisingly, there was not much of fragrance coming out out of pouch when I opened it. Which is rare for oolongs in my admittedly limited experience. Just some spinach/grass and spice. The wet leaf smell was essentially the same plus some butter and a touch of lilac.
The taste was unexpectedly green and vibrant, with spinach, butter, spice, grass, mineral and a touch of berry sweetness. This is certainly not one of those languid , luxuriously sweet oolongs but instead gives an impression of a young full of stored vibrant energy. And a nice dynamic aftertaste.This tea is good to have at work as an additional burst of energy and motivation, it is an I-can-help-to-get-things-done tea. All about business and concentration.I did not meet to many teas of that mental profile, so this oolong, while not being especially complex or uniquely delightful will certainly occupy one of the permanent places in my tea collection for those special occasions when I need that burst of energy and concentration. Not necessarily this particular Dong Ding though: I am going to explore different offerings of this type of tea so if someone can suggest good (and, preferably, reasonably priced) Dong Dings I would appreciate it.
Flavors: Butter, Grass, Mineral, Spices, Spinach
Last few days been drinking tea I already reviewed. Tonight I felt like trying one of my new samples. It was a taxing day so what better way than to sit down and chill with some tea, right?
This Ya Shi, duck shit aroma, is very aromatic, savory. Strong floral with a roasted aroma along with fruitiness. Despite the strong fragrance, the taste was surprisingly mellow. I don’t have much experience with duck shit aroma so maybe that’s typical. I was just expecting a super strong taste. It had sweet, honey notes, lots of floral notes and unlike other reviews who said there was zero bitterness, I did get a few bitter notes but it’s balanced so it worked out well. Creamy mouthfeel without the milky taste. Grassy or green notes popped up. It definitely has character, changing slightly from steep to steep. Full-bodied. The aftertaste is pleasant, slight drying of the tip of the tongue feeling.
8g, 212℉, 110ml, 9 steeps: rinse, 10s, 15s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 50s, 70s, 100s, 130s
This tea has an intoxicating dry leaf smell of meadow hay and light honey. The wet leaf adds to that aroma some blueberry notes. I steeped it first for 3 minutes (250 g/3g/205 degrees), and followed it with the second steep of 5 minutes.
The taste was simple, with the strong notes of blueberry and somewhat lighter notes of hay, honeyed sweetness reminiscent of Yunnan reds, and baked goods. Like drinking a blueberry pie. In the second steep the tea became very sweet, as if you added water to some berry preserves and now slurping up all of this overpowering sweetness.
It was more robust than many white teas that I had and did possess the requisite great white tea aroma but the taste was really not that interesting. On the other hand, people that enjoy fruity tea blends and, especially, fans of blueberry pies may find it very much to their liking.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Blueberry, Hay, Honey
I got this sample in Teavivre’s Mother’s Day giveaway and wanted to try it while it was still relatively fresh. I steeped 4 g of the long, wiry, slightly fuzzy leaves in a 120 ml teapot at 185F for 10, 15, 20, 25, 35, 45, 60, and 90 seconds.
This is a savoury and vegetal tea. The first steep has notes of green beans, umami, spinach, and a honey-like sweetness, while the second introduces kale, asparagus, and cut grass. These flavours last into the sixth steep, then gradually diminish into that vague vegetal/grassy profile that all green teas seem to get near the end of a session.
I don’t have much of a palate for green tea, but this seems to be a good one. I have three more grams to experiment with Western style, and will add to my tasting note if this method gives me anything different.
Flavors: Asparagus, Beany, Cut grass, Honey, Kale, Spinach, Umami, Vegetal
Last sample of this. Now I’m kicking myself not adding an order of this to my most recent order. I bought TeaVivre Milk oolong with another tea table last night.
It’s such a pleasant tea. Slightly milky and buttery, mellow and floral, I love the mouthfeel and the light milk aroma. Reminds me of my childhood. (I was naughty but I had great memories, maybe my parents don’t agree haha). It’s so mild, smooth, nurturing. Easy on my borderline temperamental stomach and soothing on my throat.
Yixing teapot, 7g, 110ml, 212℉, 8 steeps: rinse, 25s,25s,30s,40s,60s,90s,120s,180s
This is one of the oolongs that has tons of reviews on Steepster, with the ratings going from the 60s into the mid- 90s: intriguingly divisive. Which is a bit surprising since one thing must be appealing to almost anyone: its wet leaf smell. There is a lot of things going on with the notes of minerals, asparagus, butter, spinach, broccoli, delicate flowers, green apple, seawater and who knows what else. I could just sit and smell it for hours like a shelf of scented candles in the store (which I am hopelessly guilty of doing).
The taste is delicate and takes some time to develop, especially if one starts drinking it while still piping hot (the instructions recommend 212 degree water). I prepared it Western and it proved to be very amenable to carefree steeping with very little danger of overdoing it.
The taste largely follows the nose, with the caveat that the herbal and green vegetable notes tend to dominate. It lingers and develops on the mouth, leaving a buttery and minty aftertaste.
It is a very pleasant and reliable tea like a genuinely nice and friendly acquaintance. Not the most outlandish, not the most expressive, not the one that powerfully commands your attention but someone that you are always happy to meet and spend some time with.
Flavors: Asparagus, Broccoli, Butter, Flowers, Grass, Green Apple, Mint, Salty, Spinach
Home – 4:30 PM
A few months ago, I had a random hankering for a Chinese green tea, so I ordered a veritable pile of samples from Teavivre. I’m just now getting around to trying most of them! I love how Teavivre packages their samples, compact but well-sealed for freshness. And they have fantastic detailed brewing instructions on their website, for both Western and Gongfu methods. Lovely!
I followed their instructions – 2g of tea per 250ml of water (doubled, as I generally use a 500ml teapot) at 185° for 3 minutes.
The result is mild, sweet, and delicious! There are soft vegetal notes – edamame, sugar snap pea, green bean, and spinach – with a nice buttery backdrop. The mouthfeel is on the light side, but still silky and smooth. There is a lovely long-lingering sweetness, and a light, refreshing mineral note that conjures up thoughts of a cool, clear stream of sweet water. Perhaps just a hint of floral as well – I would guess at honeysuckle.
Such a lovely tea, and a bit reminiscent of Long Jing with its mild, sweet, and buttery flavor. It is on the somewhat pricier side (as compared to other Teavivre greens), at $15.90 for 50g. I will have to compare it against some of my other samples to discern whether it is worth the cost.
Flavors: Butter, Freshly Cut Grass, Green Beans, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Nectar, Peas, Smooth, Soybean, Spinach, Sweet, Vegetal
Really love the smell of this tea after the first few infusions. It has an outstanding rich roasted aroma along with the smell of dark chocolate, lightly roasted nuts, a touch of floral. I always thought that I enjoy the smell of tea more than the taste, this is one of those teas. I have no complaints about the taste either. It is very smooth, mellow and has a mild sweetness, no bitterness, light minerality.
I’ve had a few samples of this and I’m always pleased as it’s a well-balanced tea, in that the roasted and floral notes complement each other instead of compete against each other. I was surprised when I first sipped it in that it’s not quite full-bodied as I thought.. Because the liquor is an intense dark color and although flavorful, I’d still call it more a medium-bodied tea. Less astringent as well compared to many of the other Da Hong Pao that I’ve tried, it’s very pleasant for an after dinner tea. I can see why some prefer this as their daily tea and is very popular on TeaVivre’s site. The first few times I tried this was at about 195-200℉. It’s much better (to me) at 212℉, hence the rating change.
Yixing, 212℉, 110 ml, 8g, 6 steeps: rinse, 15s, 25s, 35s, 60s, 100s, 160s
Flavors: Caramel, Dark Chocolate, Floral, Roasted, Roasted nuts