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Recent Tasting Notes
Sipdown! Well, sort of. I think I still have some sealed bags somewhere. But this was a swap sample. An oldish one.
This was buttery and green tasting and milky and vegetal but not overly so.
I resteeped it once, which honestly is about as many times as I ever want to resteep…. Must drink all the teas!
Flavors: Butter, Grass
Thank you Alysha for a sample of this!!
Over the last month or so I’ve become slightly obsessed with oolongs. I want ALL the oolongs.
I had recently fallen for Davidstea’s Quangzhou Milk Oolong and wanted to try another milk oolong! Actually I want to try ALL the milk oolongs!
Since the Davidstea one is the only comparison I have, that’s what I did. First I drank some of this alone, then I made them both side by side and did a little taste test!
My conclusion was that to my mostly untrained taste buds, this one is slightly more vegetal, where the Davidstea one is a bit creamier and slightly sweeter. It makes me wonder if the Davidstea one is flavoured?? Regardless I prefer the Davidstea version, but if they’re sneaking flavouring in there that would be an unfair advantage for sure. This one was really good though and I’d buy some in the future! Brewed at like 85 degrees for 3 min or so.
Another fine sample from the folks at Teavivre :)
The dry leaves are small and tippy with lots of golden buds.
The initial infusions come out very dark, the little leaves are very potent. Despite the dark brew, the tea is extremely smooth with an almost marshmallowy texture. It has flavors of oak and milk chocolate, with a very slight smokiness.
Around the fourth steep the brew gets a bit lighter, with more sweetness and a mellow flavor like yellow squash on the rich, woody background. Flavors begin to fade at the sixth steep. This is less than I usually get, maybe because of the tippy-er leaves giving off most of their flavor early on?
This is a mild and mellow pu’erh with a sweet, friendly taste, but to me it didn’t seem to have a whole lot of depth.
I love my Teavivre mini tuocha.
I just appreciate how effective and uncomplicated they are, always providing a good cup.
The liquor is dark, some kind of purplish brown colour.
The scent is reminiscent of damp soil and leather, heavy duty leather that worn saddles are made of.
It’s a rich cup, earthy, resinous and woody. It feels thick in the mouth.
It has a sweet finish, very smooth, a bit of caramel notes emerge.
I can see coffee lovers liking this a lot.
It’s a very accessible shou pu’erh, and that doesn’t make it a generic tea with no personality, on the contrary, this is good quality.
I keep it around at all time, it’s also a good stomach ache helper.
Mini tuocha, please help a fairy in needs of relief! I ate too much. When I do, puerh always comes to rescue. I don’t know how it can be so soothing, but it just is. I don’t have digestion problems at all. Usually. But…from time to time, things happen.
Oh, I was a bad, bad, fairy tonight, yes I was…
If you’ve been reading my notes for a while, you know I’m some kind of a health freak. Proud Vitamix owner for many years, name any fruit/veggie combination, I have had it. I don’t care much for sugar, eat lots of fish, love quinoa and leafy greens.
Having said that, I do like me some piece of meat every now and then, and I have been known for eating anything dark chocolate in excess…
But I have another flaw…( wine doesn’t count, it’s a fruit portion, Roughage said it, and he’s very smart and knowlegable) It’s a big flaw…to this day, a secret one. I’m willing to share with you Steepster friends, but husssssh, please keep it quiet: I’m a sucker for boxed KD mac & cheese. I know, I know, its no good…but I like it. There. It’s out.
Today being a migraine day (all gone now, thanks to a friend who kept my mind busy in the right way!), I needed something to indulge for dinner. After a lot of consideration, I’ve decided to open THE cupboard, the one locked under a secret code and pulled out an «in case of emergency» KD box.
I crushed some Herbes de Provence and parmesan cheese to make it «gourmet» (yes, there is such a thing as Gourmet KD in my kitchen!) and put the dish under broil for a few minutes. Needless to say, I ate the whole thing. No veggies. Just 100% pure carbs. I’m full. Burp. (Oops!!!)
Thanks mini Tuocha for supporting me.
Steepster fellows, please don’t judge me…
(See previous note)
I woke up with a stomach ache. Too much food for Easter last night, and I don’t eat meat very often. So I turned to puerh to help out. As I was getting things ready, the doorbell rang. Jack, the son of a dearest friend, was at the door. We’ve known him forever and he’s family to us. Says he was in the neighbourhood and wanted to say hi. He’s a troubled 18 year old kid but he has a good heart and I love him. I have my ways with teenagers, they trust me and confide in me. I help in ways I know how. As a true teenager, he usually drops by for two things:
1- Load his ipod with awesome music for free (never a problem!)
2- Money (and I’m hoping he doesn’t ask today)
I ask how he’s doing.
That’s all I’m gonna get.
«Come, I’m about to have some puerh tuocha, want some?»
«????» then a big smirk on his face.
Oh, I get it! It’s in a wrapper half opened… from his perspective, it «kind of» looks like some other substance… He thinks I’m about to roll something??
«No silly, it’s just tea!»
I go through the process. As I’m pouring, I explain what a Yixing is and why I have to rinse the tea first. That part makes him question my sanity.
«as I understand it, you rinse it cause it’s old and dirty?Now why would I want to drink some old and dirty bad smelling tea?»
I know he doesn’t have the patience to listen to the lecture I could give him on the subject so I spare him.
«Oh Just sip it! If you’re man enough that is».
I’ve had this puerh only once, over a year ago, at a time when I could not appreciate it much. Things have changed, though I have only scratched the surface of puerh knowledge, at least I’m past the stage of being scared of it.
This tuocha is big. The first very short steep after the rinse is a dark brown purplish color. It’s so fragrant of leather, I can’t help thinking of horse stables, the smell of heavy duty leather that worn saddles are made of. It’s rich and bold. I get a faint sweetness, reminiscent of ripe figs or dates. Also very woodsy. It’s accessible I would say, a good quality everyday tea.
A much better experience than the first time I had it! I knew nothing about puerh and had done no homework. As I remember, I over steeped and the taste was revolting! Took me a while after that to start experimenting with any puerh. But I now find myself liking it more and more. There’s just so much to explore!
As for Jack, well, he just spitted his in the kitchen sink. Not his thing apparently!
The only word that came out with the tea was «Gross!». We laughed!
After the fun puerh tasting, he asked for the usual iPod refill. I was so relieved that the money issue was left alone.
Means he’s doing well this time. Sober for the last 45 days. Longest time since he was 16.
He’s not giving up. Happy fun little moments like this morning have been rare between us in the last two years and I will cherish that. Happy tea day…
ETA: This afternoon, Jack and I had this tea again. We’ve had a few tea sessions since that day, and to my disbelief, he asked if he could try the «gross spitting tea» again! (his words, not mine!) I said yes, but only if he’d promise to keep at least one sip in this time.
Not only did he drink many Gongfu shots, he actually liked the last ones as they were getting weaker. I think tea is becoming a project to him and that’s what I had hoped for…it keeps him away from other stuff that’s bad for him. Thanks to this little tuocha, we had once again a terrific time together! For that alone, I am grateful…
1 1/2 tsp in 8 oz
Yeah, so I think this tea is just too light for my taste. I’m really starting to narrow down my likes/dislikes. Also, I finally have a thermometer that works correctly, so I am getting better, more consistent results.
I like darker oolongs that aren’t too roasted and lighter blacks. Anything greener than a Bai Hao or anything more intense than a Keemun is just not going to be for me. Though I do like greener teas iced. I think I’ll be using up the rest of my green and light oolong samples for cold brewing iced tea.
This style is just a bit greener than a Bai Hao, and though I got a nice smooth flavorful result this time, it’s just not my preference. You might love it, though!
1 slightly overflowing tsp for 6oz
Still bitter for me. I think it’s going to be difficult to get a lot of flavor out of this but no bitterness unless I brewed Gong Fu style. Not sure I’m willing to make that commitment yet since there are lots of other teas I’m enjoying Western style.
Next time, I’ll try lots of leaf and short steeping just to see what the difference is.
1 1/2 tsp for 8 oz
Beautiful aroma, gorgeous light gold liquor. Medium oxidized and not roasty. It has a lovely, fruity flavor.
Only downside was quite a bit of astringency in the finish. I’m going to try a lower temp next time to see if that goes away. Also, there was quite a bit of dust/fannings in one of my sample packets. It must have been the bottom of the bag. I will infuse just the larger leaves next time.
This is a type of oolong right up my alley! Not too green, not charcoally. Perfect when I want something a bit lighter than a black.
This tea has a beautiful earthy, floral smell.
The tea is crisp and light. I am not sure of the right words but it is not malty, and not roasty. It has a bit of an earthy taste, its sweet and rich, almost creamy.
Very good tea. As always, impressed with the quality of Teavivre teas.
Another one I received from Angel at Teavivre for the free tasting activity!
This is a great black tea. It is complex, dark, roasty. I always seem to get a different taste every time I try it. It is re-steepable. I brewed this one up my usual western style. I actually used the whole sample to make a pot of tea. Which is unusal for me as I usually go cup by cup because I always want to try something else. But I knew I would enjoy drinking this one today.
The dry tea is small leaves, uniform, quite airy. It smells of roasted potatoes. The brewed tea is dark in colour, reminding me of black coffee.
Today I am getting roasted nuts, potatoe-french fry-carb notes in the brewed tea. There is a slight, natural sweetness to the tea. I feel like there is some dark plum or black current notes hiding in the tea somewhere. I know a lot of people get chocolate or cocoa out of this tea, but I don’t. There may be some slight dark cocoa notes in the aftertaste but I think I am just looking really hard for it. Its still good either way. It is thick and bold with no astringency.
This tea is crisp and clean. It smells very strong but actually is nice and light tasting. Not quite malty, but I think if I would have steeped for longer it would be malty. It tastes a bit roasted. There is a floral fragrance smell to the dry tea and taste to the brewed tea. I would say it reminds me of burnt caramel. But not burnt as is scorched, burnt as is when you are cooking caramel, and the longer you cook it the darker it gets.
I brewed this one up my version of western style. But I can taste in the tea how it would be great for drinking gongfu style.
These pearls are smaller than normal pearls I’ve had, but that doesn’t mean they lack flavor. They are small, marbled green and silver, and smell softly of sweet jasmine. The jasmine is not overpowering or perfumey or fake in any way. Brewed, the infusion is a pale golden color with the soft sweet jasmine emitting from the cup.
I did not steep the pearls long enough the first time to let them fully unfurl, I usually don’t otherwise you get a soapy bitter jasmine green tea. So, after letting them sit for about a minute and a half, I removed them only partially unfurled.
The taste was a soft, sweet jasmine with underlying notes of apple, melon, a hint of hay, and a soft buttery/creaminess. It is a very lovely jasmine pearl tea and did fully unfurl after the second infusion. I was able to brew them a solid four times before the flavor started to drop and diminish. I got to six steeps before I declared the pearls done of their flavor.
I did not have any of the premium jasmine pearls to compare these too, so I cannot say how much different they are to each other. All I can say is that these are really nice and really good and that jasmine lovers should at least get a sample of these and try it themselves.
1/2 tsp in 4 ozTaste test of 4 Keemuns
Harney & Sons: English Breakfast ($1.62/oz)
My favorite of the bunch. Lightest flavor. Kind of fruity with no smokiness or earthiness. Could drink this every day for refreshment. I bet I’d love it iced. Will definitely get a large tin. Very pleased. I have been on the search for an inexpensive tea that I would enjoy as a daily drinker so I can save my favorites for times when I can sit quietly and really savor them. This fits the bill.
Harney & Sons: Hao Ya B ($3.00/oz)
My least favorite. Wow is it ever smoky. If I didn’t know what it was, I’d think it was a Russian Caravan blend with plenty of Lapsang Souchong in it. The smokiness overpowers any other flavor there might be in there.
Teavivre: Organic Superfine Keemun ($5.40/oz)
2nd best to me. Though it does have an earthy or mushroomy quality that I find a bit off-putting.
Adagio: Keemun Concerto ($4/oz)
3rd place. Most similar to the Teavivre but with more of that mushroomy quality that I just wouldn’t want in my tea. (I really dislike Puerhs for example.)
NONE of these teas was the least bit astringent which really pleasantly surprised me. Though I think one factor is that in order to taste each one without the others muddying the flavor, I did take a sip of water in between sips of tea. I find that sometimes tea is not astringent for the first few sips, but gets so as it builds up on your palate.
What amuses me is that the cheapest one is my favorite. Perhaps that means that Keemuns are not for me. The ones with more intense flavors pretty much turned me off. I liked the one with the lightest, sweetest taste.
1 heaping tsp for 8 oz
I am going to be sampling a few different Keemuns over the next few days. In my last tea phase, I drank Keemun almost daily. It was my favorite breakfast tea.
This Keemun is much smoother and lighter than the Keemuns I remember. It will be interesting to try others I have from Adagio, Harney, etc. This one doesn’t really scream Keemun to me. It is a very pleasant, smooth black tea but doesn’t have too much personality as far as I’m concerned. The Bailin Gongfu had a thick maltiness going for it, and this is just lighter all around. I’ll try a longer steep maybe next time though I do want to avoid any bitterness or astringency.
First introduced to this tea by Nuvola, I became an instant fan. At a value price, this incarnation by Teavivre carries over a lot of the same characteristics I shared in my tasting note on Nuvola’s tea:
I brewed the entire sample about 1 min, per the instructions, in my Finum at approximately 185ºF. Blew threw multiple infusions, much like I’d expect.
Differences to note that have me favoring Nuvola:
• Overall uniformity, quality and balance of leaf color somewhat inferior (see photo reference on Steepster. I think it’s pretty accurate)
• Tendency towards a dryer mouthfeel than Nuvola. Where Nuvola complimented, here it’s more pronounced overshadowing the complexities of this tea.
• Sweet notes are present, in line with Nuvola
• Bitter undertone noticeable, not all pleasant but fades after a few steepings
I don’t think my observations of this tea would be corrected by less tea or a shorter steeping time, as I feel I was fairly conservative. However, I did NOT do a rinse this time. I drink mostly green and honestly just forgot. Had I tried this tea before Nuvola, I wonder what I would have thought.
Either way it’s a good value versus the pricing at Nuvola, and now that I think about and read Teavivre’s online gaiwan brewing instructions, I could have gone with an even shorter brew time than was on their packaging. Wish their brew guide on the sample was the same as is on their web site. I might have had a more positive experience.
I’d encourage a sample of this tea, but I’m not as knocked out by it as I was by Nuvola. This is just a bit baser of an experience, while Nuvola more refined.
Again, I have to point out how much this tea reminds me of Verdant’s Golden Fleece.
2 rounded tsp in 16 oz
Enjoying this tea today. It’s smooth and dark with a quality that I think is what people call “malty” though I’m personally not too sure what that is. I notice than it doesn’t have nearly as many golden tips as the Superfine Tan Yang and so is lacking that sweet Dian Hong – like characteristic. It’s what I’d classify as a very good basic breakfast tea.
2 rounded tsp for 16 oz
Brewed it a little stronger this time. Still rounded, smooth, silky. Drinking it first thing in the morning without milk and sugar which is a big deal for me. I am eating toast between sips which helps my stomach handle the straight tea first thing. But, this tea is so smooth, it is going down easy.
Rounded tsp in 8 oz
Worked great as a breakfast tea with no additions! Towards the end of the cup, it was cooling off and I was feeling the astringency. I took a tip from Stacy of Butiki and added some more hot water, and that really worked to smooth it out enough to keep drinking it without adding sugar or milk!
1 rounded tsp for 8 oz
This is a full-bodied, malty black that is smooth as silk with no astringency or bitterness. It’s doesn’t have a particular flavor that jumps out at me, but it is just a really good strong tea that I could actually drink first thing in the morning without milk and sugar.