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Recent Tasting Notes
Full disclosure: My sense of smell is not functioning at 100%, today.
I read a description on another tea vendor’s website, and he described the tea’s profile as smelling like cannabis. Bingo! That’s one of the unusual smells I think some raw pu’ers possess that I could never put my finger on. Not that I’m any expert in cannabis, but I have smelled it a few times in my life, and it’s a very unusual and distinct smell, and that is exactly what the wet leaves of this tea smell like. I also get some more dry grassy-hay notes, as well, and a bit of pepperiness. Wet leaf quality appears high. Whole leaves dominate.
One might note that my flavor/aroma notes are contradictions, but yet that is not a mistake. Steeped for under 15 seconds, the tea produces a pale oak liquor that is smooth and wet and sweet with no bitterness. Steeped for 1 min+, it’s bitter and astringent. I prefer this one steeped for shorter durations.
I’ll have to keep this one short. It’s probably me and my under-performing sense of smell more than the tea, today, but I am just not getting much past the 4th infusion.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Black Pepper, Cannabis, Smooth, Straw, Sweet
I don’t drink a lot of green tea. I prefer the high-octane black teas, particularly while I am working. But, I liked the name of this free sample from Teavivre and knew (based on the great track record Teavivre has, with me enjoying virtually all of their offerings) that this one was worth a try.
When I opened the silver sample package, the long wrinkled green leaves strongly reminded me of something that is smoked instead of drunk. The unbrewed odor also kind of reminded me of the same…uh…herb.
I followed Teavivre’s guidelines and brewed the leaves for five minutes (the recommended maximum) at 195 degrees (the instructions said 194 degrees but what’s one degree between friends?).
The steeped color was a brilliant gold. The flavor was nutty and slightly grassy but exceptionally smooth. I didn’t detect any other flavors riding piggyback on this. However, there also was an underlying tangy sweetness to the taste that I liked immensely. The slightly sweet and airy aftertaste floated gently on my palate until it regrettably drifted away.
Teavivre has done it again! They have taken a tea that is usually low on my priority list and made it so enjoyable that I heartily recommend it.
If I ever get to retire one day, and no longer need the full-body thunderbolt that black tea gives me in the morning, I will positively include AT LEAST ONE green tea to leisurely sip while I slowly churn back and forth in my rocker. Thank you, Teavivre!
Flavors: Grass, Nutty, Sweet, Tangy
So this is a sample I got from Teavivre. I wasn’t sure if I would like it as I am wary of all things with flowers in the name. Too many times in the past that has led to tasting flower petals in my mouth. I am so glad that is not the case here. My first and only steeping (made it for work in a contigo) tastes like fuzzy peaches. The jasmine is ligt enough that I don’t really notice it. All in all I would say this is a great tea and I would consider ordering it myself in the future.
I grabbed this from the drawer because I wanted some Pu-erh without having to break it off a cake. Probably around 7 grams or so per cake, and easy to handle.
I found it to be both pleasant and generous. Several rich mahogany infusions off the cube so far, and the latter seem to be a bit sweeter than the first, but all were very nice. Earthy, but sweet – like a light molasses. Only slightly musty, not at all unpleasant. Smells more like a barn at the feed end of the cow instead of the other…
I have several more of these cubes from a Teavivre Pu-erh sampler, and will definitely put this on my ever-growing reorder list.
Flavors: Earth, Molasses
This one came to me as a free sample from Teavivre ages ago, and I’ve only got around to trying it now. I don’t know what’s wrong with me – some extreme form of lethargy, apparently. I’m drinking tea, but I’m not writing about it; there are a lot of things I’m just not feeling at the moment, sadly.
I used half the sample pouch – 5 pearls – for my cup (I’ll be resteeping for sure!) I gave them 3.5 minutes in boiling water. No additions. To taste, it’s pretty much as I expected. I feel like I’ve tried something very similar from Teavivre before, but I’ve no previous notes on this specific tea, so it can’t be this one. Maybe it wasn’t organic, or something? Anyway, it’s malty, with all the thick-tasting sweetness that suggests. There’s also a chocolately, cocoa-like flavour, which, if I’m honest, was what I was hoping for when I picked this one out today. Delicious! This is a dragon pearl I’ll seriously consider keeping around.
Oh my goodness, this is heavenly with half and half. It tasted even breadier and more raisiny than when enjoying it alone. I’d make another mug but I’ve already been horrible today with my calorie consumption. Does anyone ever run into a problem where you buy a bunch of ingredients you normally don’t have for a recipe and then feel obligated to use them up, so you’re led down this long path of making different foods? That’s my issue with buttermilk. First time buying it, as I bought some after buying five pounds of blueberries for a great price and thought I’d make blueberry oatmeal muffins for the first time which required buttermilk. Not to mention, I made lavender violet blueberry tarts. Leftover buttermilk led me to buy cheddar cheese to finally make the Red Lobster Cheddar Bay biscuit dupe recipe I’ve been meaning to try for literally eight years. Still having buttermilk and extra cheese (oh, and butter too), that led me to buy cornmeal to finally try making jalapeño cheddar corn muffins since I’ve also been meaning to try to make something cornbread-related for many years.
Then yesterday for breakfast, I used the last of the cheese to make cheesy grits for the first time (and no, not going to get into a redundant linguistics argument over the usage of the term ‘grits’ when hominy isn’t involved).
So finally, today, I used up the rest of the buttermilk and cornmeal to make heart-shaped cornmeal waffles, and with that, I used them in place of sandwich bread to make a honey garlic chicken sandwich.
Seriously, isn’t that nuts? Reason #244 why I avoid buying ingredients I normally don’t use.
This is embarrassing. I bought this tea during a New Year’s sale at the beginning of 2015 when I was still living on the west coast, but I moved a few months later, packing it up and sending it to my mom’s place in the middle of nowhere, where it sat until she sold her home a couple months ago and got sent to my new place here. The harvest time was March 2014 but at least has been sealed until now.
The dry leaf is so fluffy and dainty with pretty golden accents. Smells a little grainy. I’ve had two infusions and both were very similar, yielding starchy, sweet potato notes. There was a touch of astringency but nothing cutting. The grainy notes came forth more so in the second infusion. I look forward to trying it again and seeing if I can pick up on anymore notes.
Ever feel like you’re the last one to get in on a secret? That’s how I felt moments after water came into contact with this tea! The pleasant aroma of jasmine was wafting from the pot before I could even get the lid on. I could hardly wait for it to finish steeping, and when it did, the taste was even better than the aroma!
This is blurring the lines between tea and tisane in taste alone. Lightly floral and sweet, with a refreshing edge like mint or something. Every breath I take is cool and fresh after drinking a cup. My wife downed her cup almost immediately. I had brew another so she could slow down and savor it a little.
This sample from Teavivre was a ringer…I will definitely order some of this.
Flavors: Floral, Jasmine, Mint, Spearmint
Here’s another delicious tea I drank up without realizing. I drank this weeks ago too, so..
Err. (pie on face)
I recall at the time that it reminded be a lot of my Shan Lin Xi from Camellia Sinensis: grassy coconut notes, mixed with thick butter and almost nectar-like sweetness. It may have had a bit of seaweed/marine note, too?
I’ll just have to order more next time. For verfication purposes, of course!
Steep Count: who knows? I was blissed out on it, which is what’s important.
Flavors: Butter, Coconut, Floral, Grass, Seaweed
It’s been awhile since I had had strawberries. But since I’m at work and this can be made at boiling temperature I thought I should give this sample a shot. I get a nice bit of strawberry and oolong flavour off of this tea. Of course when I opened the silver packet the smell of strawberry was a bit overwhelming. I might try steeping longer the second time around.
These mini tuochas from 2007 are about 5 grams each, and work out nicely for brewing up a cup of tea for one or two people. These are ripe pu’er, and so the dry tuocha have that sticky sweet dried fruit smell like prunes or raisins or figs that I find pleasant. Wet leaves smell very much like wet leaf pile, mulch, earthy. Taste, however, is very smooth and mellow, a little wet earth taste, sweet, a bit of dried fruit, and zero fishiness. Very low on the woody tannin notes. I get no bitterness and only a little astringency, but only after quite some time has passed after sipping the tea. I get some throat dryness after about 5 minutes has passed.
I prepared this in purple clay with 2 quick rinses of boiling water, and by then with a little shake, the tuoacha had fully fallen apart in the bottom of the pot. Subsequent infusions were kept fast at 8-10 seconds and then increasing in duration from there. Liquor was always dark and rich even with the short infusions, as expected with a ripe. This is a good drinking, mellow shou pu’er. I feel very relaxed after the 6th infusion, and where I will stop.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Dried Fruit, Fig, Raisins, Wet Earth
This selection has an interesting name. I’ve never associated snails with tea before. I do like escargot, so why not? I am now curious. I need to do some research to learn how this tea got its name.
When I opened the silver sample package, the smell inside was very rich, sweet, earthy, and pleasant. I steeped the full black leaves at 185 degrees for five minutes as recommended on the package.
The brewed result was a bright gold color. The aroma was like SWEET sweet potatoes.
I have to say, this was the first time I could easily identify the flavor of sweet potatoes in a tea. Although prominent, this taste was congenially complimented by attributes of molasses and honey. These flavors blended harmoniously. They also seemed to desire to be individually acknowledged. I could taste them moving in and out of the flavor forefront.
Initially my palate thought there might be a twinge of astringency present. However, the old taste buds settled into a nice smooth ride by the third sip. The brief after taste also presented nothing negative to upset the experience.
This is a smooth and amiable black tea for morning consumption without a blowtorch. If you need to be slapped awake when you start your day (as I often do), you might want to save this one for lunch. Either way, you’ve got yourself a winner!
Flavors: Honey, Molasses, Sweet Potatoes
Brews a medium yellow-orange. Taste of honey, citrus, and dry leaves with a hint of cinnamon spice. This is a decent tea but not nearly a mellow and complex as Teavivre’s 2011 Shou Mei.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Cinnamon, Fruity, Honey, Lemon
This afternoon I’m using the Spring 2017 release of this tea. It is a midly roasted version that looks like a slightly duller version of the bright green competition grade tie guan yins. The dry leaves smell like tea. Imagine that. :-) By that, I mean the dry leaves just smell pure. I don’t pick up on anything other that pure tea smell except just the slightest roasted note. I decided to prepare this Anxi style in a small red 70 ml Jianshui clay pot placed on a tea boat bowl. The dry leaves were placed in the pot and just off boiling water was poured over and around the pot. The leaves now gave off a slightly more vegetal scent. After a fast rinse, the first three steeps were kept under 10 seconds, shaking the pot to unfurl the leaves between each steep. We have gardenias around our property, and unfortunately they are no longer blooming to do a direct one on one comparison, but I happened to smell a gardenia blossom just a week ago, and this tie guan yin scent is very close to gardenia. Gardenia can be one of those heady sweet scents that are hard to take for a long period of time, but the tie guan yin gardenia is more delicate. It does not offend in any way. The first few infusions were buttery, green, sweet. This is really delicious. Liquor is pale yellow. Infusions are now incredibly sweet. It’s as if sugar has been secretly added to the cup. Pushing the tea toward the front of my mouth, I detected what tasted like a lightly toasted marshmallow. It was fleeting, but it was there. With this tea session, I’m paying more attention to the timing, and I’m pouring around the edges and not directly into the center of the leaves. I like the results, because I got zero bitterness and zero vegetal taste in this session. I would recommend this tie guan yin, and here is a link to the instructions I used for brewing this Anxi style. Check out his other articles, as well:
Flavors: Butter, Gardenias, Green, Marshmallow, Roasted, Sugar, Sweet
While purchasing a pound of Teavivre Golden Monkey tea (which I consider to be the BEST Golden Monkey of all that I’ve run across) online, I chose this Yunnan Dian Hong Ancient Tree Black Tea as one of the three free samples included with my purchase. I am always excited when there is a new black tea to try!
I opened up the sample package and I was immediately struck by the rich leathery smell and the long dark fresh-looking leaves. I steeped the tea for eight minutes (the maximum recommended time) at 185 degrees.
The brewed liquor smelled rich and leathery. The color was a bright orange-gold.
The taste was extremely full and smooth, with finely blended accents of sweet potato, malt, and earth. Astringency was not in its vocabulary. The aftertaste was gentle and brief.
This is another one of those teas that goes down so smoothly I am tempted to chug the entire cup. However, I’m sure I enjoyed it even more by savoring each sip.
This is an excellent black tea. It is worthy of a prominent position on my highly recommended list.
Flavors: Earth, Malt, Sweet Potatoes
Dry leaves smell nice, rich, mellow. After two rinses, I steeped for 8 secs in a 100 ml gaiwan with 4 gr of leaf. Color is dark amber on first infusion. Wet leaf smell is earthy, mulchy. Taste has a tiny amount of chocolate note but subtle, musty, earthy, and has a nice sweetness. It’s very smooth, no bitterness and no astringency. It’s a very pleasant drinking ripe pu-erh. Long lasting smooth and thick mouth feel and aftertaste. By the third infusion, liquor is now dark with red tone. Leaves have expanded to reveal — no leaves. It’s all small chopped pieces of 1 cm or less.
Flavors: Chocolate, Decayed wood, Earth, Musty, Sweet
I decided to do a couple of green teas back to back, tonight. Teavivre had sent a sample of their Dragon Well Long Jing, so it was prepared after tasting First Flush Mao Feng. I prefer Dragon Well above Mao Feng for a hot green tea, but for a sweetened cold green tea, Mao Feng is my choice. I did a few infusions hot of Dragon Well, then decided since I had already gone rogue by sweetening mao feng, I’d do the same with dragon well. I kept the prep the same. Simple syrup and a squeeze of lemon, and multiple short infusions poured over ice. I kept trying for the flavor notes, and I was dancing around grapefruit, then pear. Obviously, I had added a citrus note with the lemon, and then it hit me. Canned yellow peaches. It tasted just like canned yellow peaches in heavy syrup. I’m not going to fill out the flavor profile, because I don’t want to wrongly influence someone to be expecting peach with a normal preparation of Dragon Well. If you like canned peaches, try this Dragon Well sweetened with lemon.