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Recent Tasting Notes
Sipdown! I got this as part of a prize pack from TeaVivre… at some point, I no longer know when. But it’s still tasty! I made this gong fu style on a brisk evening. The first steep reminds me of a savory rice porridge (so, basically, congee). As the second steep cools, I swear there’s a sweet potato note too. I expect to get a few more steeps out of this but it will have to wait until after dinner.
Another sample I have yet to write a note for, so keep in mind this is not the freshest tea from Teavivre but it’s still the 2017 harvest. It’s a crime not to write a note while it’s fresh though! I think I received if from another one of their lucky draws but I think it was in spring? Or else they waited to ship the spring teas until I ordered. I may have used too many leaves on accident but it definitely didn’t harm the flavor! There was only a slight hint of tanginess with the DELICIOUS green tea flavor. This flavor just says “high quality”. The dry leaves: they had a very sweet fragrance and look like short flat blades of grass. Definitely not as long as some of the green teas that Teavivre carries. The flavor is so very good. You can tell it is of the highest quality, whatever the heck makes it so different from other green tea. Such a sweet leaf with very nutty flavors. It is divine. The lingering aftertaste is even amazing. So the 2/3 of a sample packet didn’t ruin the cup but I definitely don’t want to waste these amazing leaves. Complex flavor, tasty and refreshing! Thanks Teavivre, for allowing me to try this one. I couldn’t have enjoyed it more.
Steep #1 // 2/3 sample packet (too much!) for a full mug// 30 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 30 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #3 // 30 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Harvest: Spring 2017
Flavors: Nutty, Sweet
A very pleasant tea. The aroma is complex: it does have some puerh earthiness and roses but also some hard-to-differentiate sweetness. Fruity, perhaps. The same with taste: it is a complex, comforting sweetness.
Also, there are multiple tiny particles of rose petals floating around: it looks good and creates a very interesting sensation when you drink the tea, adding some “volume”. In general, it is one of my trusty, “comfort food” type of tea. You are likely either love or hate it, but surely need to try.
Flavors: Earth, Fruity, Rose
This had a lovely, true strawberry flavor and almost separately, a lovely mellow oolong flavor. Somehow they didn’t seem to combine quite right, but it was still very nice. I’ve been kind of drowning in artificially flavored and sweetened teas lately, so this was a nice refreshing change. I would like a bit more of the strawberry if I ruled the world, but still nicely done.
Flavors: Strawberry, Toast
Teavivre always has such great Black Friday events! Love Teavivre. I haven’t written a tasting note for this one yet. I used 2/3 of a sample packet. The leaves are very dark and have a rich bread fragrance. There is barely any small particles in the mug after a rinse, which means a lot less small particles of tea than I usually see in pu-erh. The flavor is lovely, though doesn’t have as much depth as my favorite shu pu-erhs usually have (like most of the pu-erh that Teavivre carries.) The deep burgundy cup has a very sweet flavor, thirst quenching, with a slight hint of biscuits. All three steeps stay pretty consistent in flavor, despite the vastly different steep times. This is a high quality shu, but I prefer a deeper flavor, especially for the amount of leaves I used. (Though I have certainly tried less flavorful shu!) The leaves from the cake were definitely unraveled by the end of the third steep, but I’m sure I could have kept steeping.
Steep #1 // 2/3 sample packet for a full mug// rinse // 10 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 5 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #3 // just boiled // 8 minute steep
Somewhat a disappointment. The leaves are broken into pretty small pieces. the fragrance is muted, with flowers, tropical fruit, malt and earth in it. The taste is really underwhelming and weak, with some sweetness, floral notes, cacao,and mushrooms.
I expect my keemuns to be more bold and defined. There are much better ones in that price range, including other keemuns by Teavivre as well.
Flavors: Earth, Flowers, Malt, Mushrooms, Pineapple
Here’s Hoping Teabox – Round Seven- Tea #39
I was thinking this wouldn’t be as delicious as it is! But it’s a pretty tasty no caffeine option that I wouldn’t mind stocking up on. It’s kind of like the toasty part of a genmaicha without the green tea and it’s also very sweet. So toasty flavored and sweet flavored! It’s fantastic. Give it a try! It’s a unique option for night time.
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons // just boiled // 7+ minute steep
Flavors: Sweet, Toasty
Thedry leaves are visually pleasing: large and gnarly. The smell is sweet (reminiscent of the field of wild flowers in the spring) and spicy.
The liquor is very fragrant. The fragrance of fall leaves, burned leaves, spices, sandal wood, honey. The smell is quite distinct and uplifting.The taste is mild but complex. There is some woodiness and sourness, plus malt, floral and honey notes and lots of other components. It also has a lingering and pleasant aftertaste.
It was a sampler and I will certainly order it again and in larger quantity. A keeper.
Many years ago, I had such enormous faith in the quality of music by The Beatles (still my all-time favorite band), that I would buy their new record albums (the vinyl kind) before I heard any of the songs. I was never disappointed. I always loved every track on every album.
During the last six years, I have grown to have the same confidence in teas by Teavivre. I’ve tried a lot of their teas and I don’t remember ever being disappointed. So, for the first time, I actually bought a pound of this Yunnan Gongfu Fragrant Black Tea without seeing, smelling, or tasting it. My wife expressed skepticism and astonishment when I told her I sent our hard earned money all the way to China for a whole pound of a product I never even sampled! I gently assured my more sensible half that she need not worry. I know what I’m doing (I hope).
When the pound arrived, it was shipped and packaged in five 3.5-ounce silver zip bags. So, it is in reality a total of 17.5 ounces- more than a pound. I decided not to convey this fact to my sweet spouse just yet.
After consolidating the five bags into one tall metal container, I noticed the sweet and fragrant aroma (hence its name) of the long black leaves with golden accompaniments. The smell was like honey and chocolate.
I steeped the leaves for five minutes at 195 degrees. These settings were within Teavivre’s recommended brewing range. The resulting liquor was a deep amber color. The aroma was sweet like honey.
As I hopefully and optimistically took my first small sips, my palate was flooded with the sensations of honey and chocolate. These flavors were perfectly blended and the entire experience was smooth as silk with no astringency lurking under the covers. Through my entire first and second cups, the very pleasant tastes remained consistent, smooth, and steady. The aftertaste was light and amiable. It seemed to softly dangle on my tongue until it tenderly dissipated.
I am very pleased (and relieved) to report that this is another exquisite tea from the folks at Teavivre which I highly recommend. If you like sweet, smooth, and full-bodied black teas (and who doesn’t?), you will love this one. Now I will tell my wife how brilliant her husband is to purchase 17.5 ounces of this terrific tea! ;-)
Flavors: Chocolate, Honey
I recently finished my second sample of this tea that Angel sent. It was glorious, just like the first time. I steeped it many times. Sadly, it’s been a bit since I had it and struggle for the words to describe it as my memory of it blurs into the “I like it a lot” category. Odd that I like something that I can’t describe what I like about it, but that is how it is. All I can say is that it’s good and you should try it.
I used a generous teaspoon to steep this cup and here’s what happened.The scent of the steeped tea is mild sweet potato and dark chocolate. The steeped tea is smooth though the tea liquor is bit on the thin side. The flavours of the sips match the aroma.
Happily, the dark chocolate intensifies and the flavour of the liquor thickens as the tea cools. The sweet potato subsides a bit while a rich chocolate breadiness emerges.
Thank you, Angel, for the sample..
Flavors: Baked Bread, Dark Chocolate, Sweet Potatoes
Four Season oolongs and ginseng will never be my favourite things, but this is still a nice tea to pull out when I want something green, clean, and vegetal. I’m placing it into the “when I’m sick” category.
If there is anything interesting going on with the base oolong I’m not picking it up. The ginseng is the Boss here.
Steep Count: 4
Flavors: Apple, Cucumber, Earth, Fruity, Menthol, Mineral, Vegetal
I was surprised at how much I liked this tea. I seldom reach for puerh and my experience with most sheng has been rough to say the least. But this tea was a different story. It’s super smooth without any funk and a mild earthiness that doesn’t overwhelm. Really nice and clean taste. It’s not quite sweet but it’s not bitter either. I’d describe the flavor as a hearty dried prune with a little earthy kick.
The tea brews to a rich, dark cherry wood red liquor that quickly stained my gaiwan brown (note to self: don’t steep this in white porcelain again). There’s next to zero fermentation flavor here. The flavor is quite mellow and aside from a hint of woodsiness and slightly tamer earthiness later, it changed very little in 6 or 7 steeps.
This is a mild ripe puerh that’s great for easy sipping. I enjoyed this one a lot and would recommend it as an introductory tea for puerh newcomers.
Can’t quite decide how I feel about this tea. It tastes different every time I steep it. The first time I tried it, it was very citrusy like orange dish soap with lemongrass and a bit of earthiness. Tonight, it veered more toward floral. Strong rose and chrysanthemum tones. I think the flavor is determined by the random mix of ingredients you get when scooping out the tea.
I got about 3 steeps out of this tea. The flavor largely fades after the initial infusion leaving behind just the chamomile in subsequent steepings. A decent caffeine-free herbal but nothing to write home about.
Flavors: Citrusy, Earth, Lemongrass, Orange, Rose
Long ago, I had a bad experience with Dong Ding. It was from David’s Tea, and all I can remember is that I was incredibly unimpressed by it- so much so that I actively avoided buying any Dong Ding Oolong again.
Cue right now, where I’m internally grateful it was a part of my mass oolong sample order from Teavivre. My dead head and my deader stomach take up this fruit punch aroma like a peace offering. The flavour profile is akin to a vegetal lemon cream dessert- which is another reminder to me that it’s been a while since I’ve had some proper Vitamin C food. I would kill for a grapefruit or orange right now. No more junk food. Food illness sucks.
Another food this reminds me of is the Lemon Zest Sunflower Kale Spaghetti I sometimes make when I want vegetables and calories in a pinch. Maybe that should go back on the meal plan.
Steep Count: 5
(2016 harvest, I think)
Flavors: Cream, Fruit Punch, Lemon, Mineral, Mint, Spinach
I was ecstatic to discover this unused tea sample while I was taking inventory of my tea cabinet! I’ll never know how I missed it before since I am a big fan of Teavivre black teas and usually start drinking them as soon as I pull them out of my mailbox. Maybe the tea fairy brought it to me. It doesn’t matter. I am just thrilled that I found it!
When I opened the small silver package, I was greeted with dark brown twisted and glossy leaves. The aroma was slightly sweet and earthy.
I steeped the leaves for about 5 minutes at 190 degrees. The brewed liquor was a light golden orange. The odor was like sweet wheat.
Beginning with the first sip and ending with the last, the flavor was consistently mild and smooth yet full and complete. The taste reminded me of pancakes lightly slathered with maple syrup. The sweet flavor was delicately balanced and not overpowering. The aftertaste was also mild and did not wear out its welcome. There was no astringency whatsoever.
This is simply another fantastic black tea from the folks at Teavivre. It is one of those exceptional selections that seem to get even better after the first steeping. The maple syrup/pancakes flavor attributes make this offering perfect (in my mind) for breakfast. However, I wouldn’t turn this one down at midnight either.
Flavors: Pancake Syrup, Sweet
The aroma oddly reminds me of a Cherry Vanilla Coke. The flavour fulfills the promise made by the aroma but the soda has gone flat and woody. The cocoa/chocolate note is prevalent and dark.
All-in-all, it’s not my favourite Chinese cocoa-black tea, but it’s still a lovely cup to cozy up to on a rainy fall day.
Steep Count: 3
(2017 spring harvest)
Flavors: Cherry, Clay, Cocoa, Malt, Vanilla, Wood