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Recent Tasting Notes
This was the first time experiencing the moonlight dragon ball from Teavivre and I really loved it! As a sprouting tea nerd I was intimidated by the dragon ball (I really didn’t know how to handle this thing with my little gaiwan but didn’t mess up my precious sample) but I got some wonderful results:
First, I gave the tea two rinses (10 sec each) to open up the leaves a bit: the rinses didn’t do much to the consistency of the ball but released the most beautiful, strong and honey-like sweetness that made me really excited for the session.
I decided to go with a bigger teapot and 300ml of water for one ball of tea. Experimenting with steeping time and temperature and settled with 3-4 minutes and about 90-95°C water temperature (cooler water around 75°C did taste watered down). The first 4 steeps were 3 minutes long, after that I decided to go with 4 minutes per steep. Longer than that got too bitter for my taste. After the first steep being very light, like water with a bit of honey, the flavour really opened up in the 2nd and 3rd steep and from the 4th steep on getting woodier. Overall I got 9 solid steeps out of it.
My best description is euphoric honey water that heart- and body-warmingly ran down my throat like sweet nectar. It also has hints of dates and almond milk. From the 2nd steep on you can taste a hint of the darker notes to come. It stayed strongly sweet until steep no. 7 (after that the ball was fully disintegrated) But the taste grew a lot darker, a bit calmer (less euphoric), more like honeydew honey, and woodier, like a forrest (it also reminds me of some kind of black tea). It also got a tiny bit bitter and astringent (but in a pleasant way). From the 8th steep on the aroma didn’t change much anymore.
I really enjoyed this complex evolution of the aroma and figure it to be an effect of the tightly pressed ball shape that releases fresh, dry leaves for many steepings. At least I’ve haven’t had a white tea before that changed so much in one session. On the other hand I am a beginner without great experience in gong fu style brewing or many solid tastings under my belt.
At least with my method (300ml per steep, almost 3 liters of tea overall) the ball size is a bit big for just one person – unless you want to drink big cups of tea all day long. But I can’t wait to prove this to be the perfect party tea! I have a couple of friends who like to enjoy a taste from my little tea collection when they visit. Until now I always was conflicted between sharing my most delicious tea experiences with them (using a small brewing vessel, gong fu style in my gaiwan, many steepings and different teas after one another) and serving 3 to 5 people said tea without getting stressed out (short brewing times, a lot of steepings and teas, spilling hot water over a busy dinner table due to my beginner gaiwan skills, etc.). With longer steeping times, more tea to serve in one batch and a tea that thrives under said conditions (heavenly taste, changing greatly throughout the session plus evoking a bit of tea drunkenness) I am equipped for the next dinner party! So far they’ve loved all of my white teas; this will be a great surprise for them!
Flavors: Almond, Dates, Honey, Honey Dew, Maple Syrup, Rose, Wood
I had this tea right after trying Keemun 2 Grade by Teavivre and wow, what different teas they are. The Imperial has very showy, attractive dry leaves and one of the most heady fragrances I encountered with any tea. The aroma is very sweet and full of honey, tulips, some other flowers, pine needles and rich cake with frosting.
The taste is very smooth and sweet, the typical Keemuny notes are barely discernable. It tastes almost like an oolong. The tea resteeps well: even the fourth gaiwan infusion is sweet and memorable, although the roughness starts to increase after the first two steeps. Despite all of this honeyed sweetness the aftertaste is lingering and unmistakably Keemunish. The infusions need to be short to keep the complexity intact and in no way this brew should be adulterated by the addition of milk or sugar.
This is certainly an excellent desert tea: lazy, voluptuous and decadent. I can’t say it is better or worse than Grade 2 but it is certainly more complex. Just two excellent Keemuns for different moods and different situations. But, of course the Imperial costs three times as the Grade 2, which tells something about how leisure is valued much higher then work.
I probably will have to stock this tea for special occasions because it IS really special.
Flavors: Berry, Flowers, Frosting, Honey, Pine
I like Keemuns and have been always confused by many kinds and names Hao Ya, Mao Feng… I decided to go through all Teavivre Keemuns (and a couple from other companies) to find the one that would become my go-to Keemun. And the package with them finally came today.
The Grade 2 Keemun… I ordered it with hesitation since I usually skip the cheapest options. And boy, was I surprised and rewarded. Robust is the word for this tea. It has the robust aroma and appearance and the taste to match. Malt, roast, leather, spices, and some berry-like sweetness. And the taste is not shy: it strong, persistent and stays for multiple gaiwan infusions. It is by no means refined but its major components come together very well. There is nothing second-grade about this tea.
This is certainly a tea for cold days, for times when you need a beam of energy, the tea that would go well with greasy food and take milk and sugar well. The Clydesdale of teas. I would keep it instead of personally disliked Assams.
All in all, a great find. Really curious to discover what other Keemuns from Teavivre are like.
P.S. Short steepings are key with this Keemun to keep the taste more complex.
I have to agree with the other reviews of this tea. While it brews up a beautiful dark burgundy color, the flavor of the tea leaves a lot to be desired. There’s an unpleasant smell and taste to it that reminds of a generic black tea like Lipton. I’d describe the taste as somewhat earthy and malty. There’s no sweetness to it, no depth, and the flavor is basically the same steep after steep. It brews fairly strong and I reckon it would hold up well to milk and/or sugar.
Flavors: Earth, Hay, Malt
Now, this one was a disappointment, which does not happen with Teavivre often in my experience. The appearance was cool and the aroma intriguing – grass, mushrooms, leather, spices. The taste, however, was quite meh, with astringency and copper predominating. No reason to order it again.
Flavors: Astringent, Grass, Leather, Mushrooms, Sour, Spices
Received a sample ball of this probably over a year ago but forgot about it. Rediscovered it today and decided to give it a try. I placed the full 6.5g ball into my 90mL jianshui and brewed it up.
I gave it two rinses steeps to let the leaves open up. Once open, the leaves brew a medium yellow and tastes slightly bitter but moderately sweet. Light apricot taste alongside green wood and generic “sheng-y-ness.”
This is a decent tea; above average for balls/mini tuos but not particularly special
Flavors: Apricot, Bitter, Green Wood
One of the few teas from Teavivre I did not care much about. The roast is pretty strong and as a result the taste of Tie Guan Yin is mostly overpowered. The taste of char, malt, some floral sweetness and grass: it sounds more complicated that the taste itself, which is pretty one-dimensional. It just seems to me that you do not have to start with a good quality tea to achieve very similar results.
As the roasted oolongs go I strongly prefer Huang Guanyin from Teavivre as a a good representation of this style.
Flavors: Char, Grass, Roasted, Sweet
I have been drinking this tea for a while and it has been steadily growing on me. It has a very appealing sweet smell and taste (chocolate, honey, some indeterminate flowers). The taste is not very complicated but consistently pleasant and warming. In addition, it holds extremely well across for multiple gaiwan infusions.
This is not the tea that wows you and stops in your tracks but rather the one you can rely on to cheer you up. A bit of a trusted daily drinker.
Flavors: Chocolate, Floral, Honey
I won this in Teavivre’s awesome giveaway… you win something every time you spin the wheel. Love it. So I won a sample package, a couple giftcards (one $10) and many reward points. This is probably the oddest tea I’ve ever seen. It’s a tiny green orange with a whole in the bottom and top filled with tea. However do they get the tea in the orange? (The tea in the sample pouch came wrapped in foil and taped together with a sticker.) The orange might look moldy, but Teavivre says it is just the sugars. You’re also supposed to steep the whole orange — which is fine because it is about 1 1/2 inches across anyway. I suggest pulling out some of the pu-erh into the infuser before steeping the whole orange, otherwise the pu-erh will have nowhere to expand within the orange. I would say the flavor doesn’t have much additional orange and the pu-erh also doesn’t have too much of actual pu-erh flavor either. I like a deep and dark pu-erh. The pu-erh crammed in this orange is fine… sweet and mild. But it isn’t my type of delicious pu-erh. It’s a very special presentation for a tea but the flavor is lacking in both the orange and the pu-erh itself. I love the idea of an orange flavored pu-erh, so I won’t give up searching for the perfect one.
Steep #1 // one whole orange for a full mug// 8 minutes after boiling // rinse // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 4 minute steep
Steep #3 // just boiled // half a mug // many minute steep
I had very high expectations for this one based on the ratings by others. It does look gorgeous: wiry and multicolored. And it does taste great: malty sweetness. But when you drink it it feels weird. It has a strong backbone similar to keemuns but it adds to it the sweetness of blackberries, overripe black cherries and mangoes – and it does not blend that well. Maybe because I like keemuns so much …but this tea just comes to me as a worse option for a robust cup of tea.
In the subsequent steepings the taste of berries becomes way less intense but that results in the loss of its most memorable quality. It could be good for someone else but I will stick with my keemuns.
Flavors: Blackberry, Malt, Mango, Overripe Cherries
I like Teavivre. All of their teas I have tried so far are good and reasonably priced. And now there is this Osmanthus Oolong, the first tea from Teavivre that is different and not in a good way.
I liked the name, Osmanthus, which sounded very exotic and promising. When I tried the first steep I was surprised by the taste: it’s like half of it a typical Ti Guan Yin and another half some fruity-flowery component. And these two halves did not blend well. In the subsequent steeps this initial composition disappeared, with Ti Guan Yin taking almost all of the available space. In the steep 4 the offputting sourness appeared: i.e., this tea does not resteep well.
Al in all, the first steep is not bad and kind a unique but overall for me it was a disappointment. Will not order again.
Flavors: Butter, Flowers, Fruity, Umami
I think this will deliver a fine experience for DHP enthusiasts. Personally, though, I found the first infusion nice – caramel-y thick body and powerful flavors – but then it sort of died off. But, that is a complaint that I have with most DHP and quite a few Wu Yi oolongs in general.
The roast is present but not overpowering. Good lasting minerality. Nice fresh flavors in aftertaste of tart red fruit and coriander seed.
There you have it. I have other Wu Yi oolongs that I prefer, but this does deliver a good hit of mineral flavors with some nice fruit flavors in the aftertaste.
Dry leaf – roasted peanut shell, wet rocks, hints of baking spices, freeze-dried strawberries and raspberries. In preheated vessel – charcoal roast prevalent.
Smell – charcoal roast, wet rocks, hint of raspberry
Taste – arrival of charcoal roast, dark caramel, peanut shell, then wet rock minerality. Develops with some hints of cinnamon and baking spice, but overall dry wood and mineral flavors. Finish of coriander seed. Aftertaste of lemongrass, coriander seed, red currant and raspberry.
I didn’t realize until looking up the tea to post this tasting note that Teavivre had a “Golden Monkey” AND and “Premium Golden Monkey.” My sample is the later. The leaves are very furry and delicate, though not quite as tiny and golden as Teavivre’s Tanyang Gongfu. Like the Tanyang there is a slight smokey aroma.
The taste is very mellow and smooth. Tastes of malt (in a lighter way), sweet potato, brown sugar, a faint fruityness, and just a hint of smoke in the background. Very velvety mouthfeel.
Gets tart, but not really bitter when overbrewed. Very different from the Golden Monkeys I’ve had from Teavana and other vendors. This tea is sort of like the missing link between Teavivre’s Tanyang and Bailin Gongfu.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Fruity, Malt, Sweet Potatoes
I got a sample of this simply because of the novelty of the huge leaves. There is something really rewarding about holding a giant tea leaf in your hand.
What’s even more rewarding is a session of this tea! Really nice vegetal flavors of spinach and corn, with hints of honey and floral sweetness, all finished up with fresh grass and mint flavors.
In general, fairly familiar green tea flavors, but the added bonus of some green oolong-like floral notes. The finish is also nice – fresh grass and mint. The thick vegetal notes transform into a really refreshing aftertaste.
Priced as a premium tea, but still very reasonable and affordable. Well worth the experience.
Dry leaf – buttered yeast roll, roasted corn, tomato vine, fragrant floral. In preheated vessel – thick roasted corn sweetness and nuttiness, wildflower honey, cooked spinach.
Smell – corn and spinach, fragrant floral sweetness
Taste – roasted corn, cooked spinach, fresh grass, hints of wildflower honey. Incredibly sweet and fresh aftertaste – honey, honeysuckle, fresh grass, fresh mint
Wow. I got it as a free sample and it was quite an experience. The tea looks stunning dry and smell incredibly sweet and complex. The complexity persists in taste. There are so many different components that all blend so nicely: wild honey, caramel, rose, graham crackers, flowers and many, many other things. Every time you take a sip you pick up on something new.
And yeah, it has a long, sweet aftertaste. This tea is just such a show stopper on so many levels. It is a poster child for why you need to drink tea without milk, sugar or any other additives. And it priced very reasonably for all it gives. I am ordering it now.
Flavors: Caramel, Flowers, Graham Cracker, Honey, Rose
What an interesting tea. I got it as a free sample from Teavivre. It cannot be farther away from the smoked version. The dry leaf has an intense sweet smell of blackberry, raspberry and malt. After steeping it for 45 secs in a gaiwan it developed a nice amber color and an incredibly sweet taste of forest berries, malt, spices and honey. Both the taste and the smell are quite complex, well balanced, and powerful.
I do not remember having anything like that before. It is probably the sweetest tea I ever tasted, with the long spicy and bitter aftertaste. This tea grabs your attention from the very beginning – as soon as you put it in a Cha He – and keeps it well after you finished the cup. It is a great tea to have a conversation over, as well as being a “lift me up” cuppa.
With the repeated infusions (starting with the 4th) the taste profile becomes simpler and less balanced: bread, biscuit and malt come forward, while berries and honey disappear. It also becomes sourish. So, you can get 3-4 good steeps and that’s that but those steeps are totally worth it.
I will most certainly order it again and put it into a heavy rotation. This is the tea that you offer to your Lipton teabag friends to demonstrate what they are missing, to recruit and convert.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Black Currant, Blackberry, Honey, Malt, Raspberry, Spices
I wasn’t expecting much from this inexpensive sample but the taste and aroma of this tea really caught me by surprise. Out of the bag, an explosion of dark chocolate and molasses hits your nose. Placed in a heated pot, the dry leaves emit aromas of ovaltine and s’mores. The steeped tea has a complex and wonderful chocolatey flavor that reminds me of Laoshan black tea. But there’s so much more to it than just chocolate. I also detected hints of rose, berries, and a little sweet potato earthiness in the finish. Normally I don’t care for the sweet potatoey note found in Dian Hongs however here’s it’s subtle and balanced. There’s no smokiness to this Lapsang at all, just a lingering caramel like sweetness.
The flavor does fade quicker than I’d like. By the fourth steep most of the flavor had been drained. Nevertheless, this is really an exceptional tea for the price and one that I will definitely repurchase.
Flavors: Berries, Caramel, Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Rose, Sweet Potatoes
Well, the smell is good, very good actually. The appearance is promising too: it looks like a typical rock oolong with coal-black fat leaves. But the smell what is the best about this tea: very intense, malty, baked bread with the strong notes of rose and sweet fruit like apricots. And all of these fragrances blend together extremely well. It feels good just to savor the smell: it is so uplifting and comforting. This tea is a pick-me-up-when-I’m-down kind for me.
That is another way to say that the taste is not nearly that remarkable: the pale yellow-orange liquid has as the main component maltiness, mineral and some lingering rather sophisticated bitterness. It is the kind of tea that you have stop whatever you are doing and pay your full and undivided attention to get all the nuances besides the maltiness , which makes it a tea for special moods: quite contemplation, wakefulness, introspection.
A good tea but not for everyone and not for every day.
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Bitter, Malt, Mineral, Rose
I found this nice surprise while digging through my sample tin this morning. I always look forward to trying new teas and Teavivre teas never seem to disappoint me.
When I opened the signature Teavivre silver sample package and drove my schnoz inside, I was met with the aroma of a fine bourbon instead of the expected rose. The leaves were fairly long and black, brown, and golden.
I steeped the leaves at 195 degrees (as close as my tea maker can get to the recommended 194 degrees) for five minutes. The final color was a dark amber and the brewed aroma was very much like a rose as I again expected.
I am not a big fan of flowery or fruity teas. I especially tilt toward being a purist when it comes to black teas. However, there have been several fruity/flowery teas that I have tried and liked. I am happy to say that this is one of them.
My first sip had a strong rose taste with a mild black tea flavor riding shotgun. There also seemed to be a slight bite of astringency in the first sip. This very quickly settled down and, by my third sip, my taste buds were treated to a smooth, amicable, and full-bodied black tea flavor with excellently intermingled rosy characteristics, going forward. The aftertaste was graceful and brief.
This is another good flowery tea from Teavivre that I actually enjoyed drinking. Even though the rose flavor is quite recognizable, it tastes natural and is not overwhelming or perfumed.
Flavors: Rose, Tea