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Recent Tasting Notes
This is from a spring tea sample assortment that TeaVivre generously gave me earlier this year. The long, olive green, still supple leaves are a joy to behold. I followed the website’s instructions as closely as possible and steeped 5 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 185F for 30, 60, 90, and 120 seconds.
In the teapot, the aroma of the leaves is vegetal and floral. These flavours come out in the first steep, with notes of wildflowers, green beans, and bok choy. Peas and other veggies appear in the next two steeps as the florals subside. I sneaked in a fourth steep, which was completely vegetal.
This was a pleasant green tea that would probably do well cold steeped. It was also the shortest gongfu session I’ve ever done. Thanks, TeaVivre, for allowing me to try it!
Flavors: Bok Choy, Flowers, Green Beans, Peas, Vegetal
An interesting tea. The dry leaves are BIG and reminded me of the valiant attempts of Indian tea makers to present their huge-leafed Assams and Nilgiries as something artisanal instead of pulverizing them into CTC. So I subconsciously feared something assamishly rough and brash.
Well, no, this oolong produced a very pale liquid with interesting flavors. After a first gaiwan steep it was very delicate, honeyed and floral (reminded me of tulips). Each subsequent steep was different and demonstrated that this is a tea well-suited for a gong fu brewing. Malt, orchids, roast, grassiness, slight bitterness, vegetables all took their turns taking the central stage through the subsequent steepings – and you can get MANY of them out. It also had a nice lingering aftertaste.
All in all, this tea never knocks you down off your feet with the amazing taste or aroma but it certainly keeps your drinking session interesting with constant changes.
Flavors: Bitter, Flowers, Grass, Honey, Malt, Orchids, Roasted, Vegetables
This is a free sample I received with my most recent order. My web browser and TeaVivre’s shopping cart system do not get along, and I had to e-mail them my choice of samples after the purchase. Without being able to see the list of samples, I asked for their Li Shan, and they gave me this Ali Shan Jin Xuan instead. While I’m grateful to TeaVivre for their excellent customer service, Alishan is the white bread of high mountain oolongs and I would have picked something else if I’d known that the Li Shan wasn’t offered.
I followed their instructions and steeped 7 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at boiling for 25, 25, 30, 40, 60, 90, 120, and 180 seconds.
The first steep has notes of white flowers, peas, cornhusk, and cream. Even with 7 g, the liquor is sweet and pungent with no astringency. Subsequent steeps have notes of lettuce, kale, and more flowers. By the fifth steep, this tea is entirely vegetal.
Although the first couple steeps were pretty good, this Alishan faded quickly and was fairly uncomplicated. I imagine it would make a tasty cold brew.
Flavors: Corn Husk, Cream, Floral, Kale, Lettuce, Peas, Sweet, Vegetal
I got this tea from teavivre after want to sample some high grade black tea. As whole it seems like a great tea and I’m planning drinking it often.
1st – (10s) A nice strong baked sweet potato aroma but then coats the mouth in a pleasant malty sweetness. Nice and strong.
2nd – (15s) Second steep shows more assertiveness and less of a coating sweet flavor. Subtle strawberry like sourness
3rd – (20s) Similar to the second
5th – (45s) Seeing a bit of astringency but still good.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Malt, Strawberry, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes
From the packaging to the last drop and everything in between, Teavivre’s Premium Jasmine pearls are great. Opening the pouch released a fresh scent of intense Jasmine that begged to be steeped. These have become my staple Jasmine pearl after trying many types. I use about 25 pearls in my 4oz Gaiwan and get three steeps reliably from it. This tea totally lacks astringency, so I am able to steep for longer than I’d try with more delicate teas (8 minutes) with the result being very intense and sweet Jasmine tea over two steeps. I’ve really grown accustomed to this wonderful intensity and spend as much time with my teacup under my nose as on my lips. The taste and aromatherapy are equally wonderful. Along with a full Jasmine flavor, there is an underlying toasty tea flavor and a curiously grape-like note. I could drink this non-stop.
Flavors: Grapes, Jasmine, Sweet, Toasty
This has been the iced tea I’ve been carrying around in my water bottle the last few days. I’ve almost finished it up, and am very tempted to immediately make up a new batch. I’m sure anyone that reads my reviews knows I’m that one weirdo on here that loves hibi-hip fruit teas, and this one is really good; cold brewed, the base has come out with a very nice fruit punch flavor, not too sweet, and not too tangy, and there is a lovely top note flavor of pineapple juice. The tea really does make me think of a fruit punch mixed with pineapple juice, just without being as strong, syrupy, or artificially sweet. This is very smooth, refreshing, and has a nice sweet-tart finish that is slightly citrusy. It would probably make a nice ice pop, too. Since I love hibi-hip fruit teas, and I love pineapple, and this is hitting a very strong pineapple flavor, I think this might be one of my favorite hibi-hip fruit teas I’ve tried yet, ranking a lot higher than all the many red berry blends I’ve tried, which all tend to taste more or less the same to me.
Flavors: Citrus, Fruit Punch, Hibiscus, Pineapple, Sweet, Tangy
okay, so, here’s the thing. I’m partial to roses, not simply bc my surname is quite rosey, or because my grandma had a million rose bushes that I constantly would run into and therefore, as a child, was constantly cut up. but also the SMELL of roses, I find to be comforting, and make me think of my grandma (we were partial to yellow roses).
HOWEVER, rose flavoured things are scary because sometimes they just straight up taste like perfume or weird floral soap and that’s not something that I’m into. Steven Smith Teamaker has an EXCELLENT rose genmaicha (Rose City Genmaicha, pls go and try it, it is one of the best non-52 teas flavoured genmaichas I’ve ever had), and because that exists, I try to trust rose flavoured or scented teas. I was worried when I smelled this because….it is VERY rose-y, and I worried about drinking perfume, but it’s not perfume-y at all. the only downside is that the rose really overpowers the dianhong, which is a pity. I can kinda taste that dianhong-y sweetness, but then it’s mostly the rose.
This tea has a pale green liquid and a faint hay aroma. It has a light body with flavors of hay and cucumber. It also has a nice sweetness to it. I liked the Organic Nonpareil better, but at over twice the price I didn’t think it was over twice as better. This is a very good white tea and one that I would drink again.
Flavors: Cucumber, Hay
I love the look of this tea, it is a large 8 gram rolled up ball of white, yellow, and black leaves. I couldn’t help myself and steeped the whole ball, even though it is more tea than I usually steep at one time. It steeps darker than most whites I have had, but it has the honeydew haw flavor of a good white. There is also the subtle flavor of a young raw pu-erh on the back end. It is a tasty tea, which is nice because I was worried that it was just trying to get by on its looks.
Flavors: Hay, Honeydew
This tea is a medium oolong with a light amber color and a nice sweet aroma. It has a pronounced honey taste and is sweet but not overpowering. It has a velvety texture that makes it feel like I’m drinking a warm glass of honey. There is a hint of floral flavor that comes on a little stronger as the tea cools.
This tea is greenish amber in color and has a vegetal hay aroma. It has an interesting flavor of hay, veggies, and caramel. It is kind of like a mix of a green tea and a dark oolong, which is something I haven’t really tasted before. It is not something I would drink all the time, but I am glad I tried it.
Flavors: Caramel, Hay, Vegetal
Gong Fu Sipdown (627)!
Started a Gong Fu session a little while ago, more lax. I gave this one a nice, long rinse – was really surprised how easily the whole cube just came apart. Very clearly not tightly compressed. I don’t love the taste of this shou, but it’s not bad either. Has a little bit of a funk to it – but mostly just tastes like earth/clay/wet wood.
Got about four infusions in, though, and was just hit with an INTENSE wave of nausea. Like, instant cold sweats/tummy rumbling/dry heaving. So I’ve been sitting here at my tea table for like the last ten minutes waiting for it to pass. Not sure why I so spontaneously feel ill; I’m not drinking this one an empty stomach, and I haven’t had excessive amounts of caffeine today by any stretch. It’s just not going away though. I made a fifth infusion and have slowly sipped on that, but I think it’s making it worse.
Legit feel like I might throw up – and I swear it’s not commentary on the taste of the tea, because it’s not that bad (really, it’s just mediocre pu’erh). Something isn’t right though, and I don’t think I can keep brewing this session…
I wanted to write a note for this before I parceled this out for other Steepsterers. I’m not sure, but I think Teavivre changed the name of their original Golden Monkey to Premium Golden Monkey when they started selling this one? I’m not sure what I expected from this one as Teavivre’s other Golden Monkey was never what I wished it was. I haven’t had the Premium in a while, so I’m not sure how this compares. The leaves are mostly black with only hints of gold with many gold dustings on my teaspoon once I’ve scooped it out. The flavor is neither light nor dark, it’s a nice middle ground of sweet sweet chocolate. But then the second steep kind of loses even that sweet chocolate and becomes a much more plain tasting. It could be the steeping parameters aren’t spot on. I’m glad the flavor isn’t light, but I do like my preferable Golden Monkey to be very dark chocolate with honey notes. Is it just me or does black tea not have that wine note that it did a few years ago? Maybe I haven’t been buying as many fresh teas lately and maybe the wine note is only in fresh teas? Or maybe it only happened in harvests of a few years ago. Or possibly my taste buds have changed. I do notice that many of Teavivre’s teas seem to have a bigger leaf now, which means higher quality, but to me, a bigger leaf means a lighter flavor. (For example, a couple of the keemuns lately have huge leaves now.) But that’s just my tastes.
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for a full mug// 15 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 4 minute steep
Edited to add: Mary Bao from Teavivre did say I was correct about the name change in an e-mail: “You’re right, we changed the name of our original Golden Monkey to Premium Golden Monkey when this version started selling.” Just in case anyone was wondering!
I’m surprised this is the first review of this tea. Thanks, TeaVivre, for sending it as part of a free sample promotion earlier this year. I put the entire 7 g sample in a 120 ml teapot, which it filled right to the brim. Steeps were at 200F for 7, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 120, and 240 seconds.
This lives up to its name, with honey, orchid, mild roast, and lychee-like sweetness. There’s a slight astringency in the aftertaste, which is not surprising given the amount of leaf. In later infusions, notes of wood, minerals, and veggies emerge.
Although this was by no means a complex tea, its honey and orchid character was pronounced and pleasant. I’ll have no problem finishing the two other samples I have on hand, and would consider buying more if I didn’t already own three other iterations of this type of tea.
Flavors: Astringent, Honey, Lychee, Mineral, Orchid, Roasted, Vegetal, Wood
This is the final Tie Guan Yin in my set of free samples. (Thanks, Teavivre!) I steeped 7 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 8, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 120, and 240 seconds.
While the first steep is slightly floral, tangy, and vegetal, the tea really gains its stride in steeps 2-3, with strong grassy, butter, tangerine, orchid, floral, coriander, and tannin notes. Seven grams may have been a bit too much leaf, since the aftertaste is bitter and vegetal. By steep six, a lot of the fruit is starting to disipate, to be replaced by minerals and grass. The astringency is a lot more noticeable in this TGY than in the two others I tried.
Although this Tie Guan Yin had a promising beginning, it didn’t have the staying power of its two siblings. It was also the most vegetal of the bunch. While this would make a good everyday tea, I think TeaVivre offers better options at around the same price point.
Flavors: Astringent, Butter, Citrus, Coriander, Floral, Grass, Mineral, Orchid, Tangy, Vegetal
This is the second of the three teas in my Tie Guan Yin showdown. (Thanks to TeaVivre for the samples.) The leaf is more broken up than the Zheng Wei TGY, although the orchid/vegetal aroma is very similar. I steeped 7 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 8, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 120, and 240 seconds.
The first couple steeps feature orchids and other florals, citrus, herbs, stonefruit, and a vegetal backbone. Its heavy and slightly soapy body reminds me of Chou Shi Dan Cong from Yunnan Sourcing, which is a tea I really like. The citrus, florals, and herbs intensify over the next few steeps, and the stonefruit resolves into peach or maybe nectarine. By steep four, minerals, spinach, and possibly jasmine emerge. Can you tell I’m enjoying this tea? The flavour stays consistent for around eight steeps before experiencing the typical vegetal fade-out.
This was a very enjoyable Tie Guan Yin and a strong contender among the samples. It has the fruity tang I want in a TGY, while still possessing lots of florals.
ETA: For me, this one was the winner.
Flavors: Citrus, Floral, Herbaceous, Jasmine, Mineral, Orchid, Peach, Soap, Spinach, Stonefruits, Tangy, Vegetal
I took advantage of the free sample promotion that Teavivre was running a while ago to pick up three Tie Guan Yins, with the aim of choosing one to get me through until 2019. (Thanks, TeaVivre, for the free samples!) I steeped 7 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 8, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 120, 180, and 240 seconds.
The first steep is fairly vegetal, with notes of orchids, florals, and grass. The slightly bitter aftertaste probably means that I used too much tea. In the next few steeps, the orchid gets more pungent and notes of butter, lilacs, and violets show up. The aftertaste is long, with no bitterness after the first couple infusions. The tea holds steady for about eight steeps before it starts to fade.
This was a very floral-heavy Tie Guan Yin that hit most of the right notes for me. However, I didn’t get any of the fruit that other reviewers mentioned. I didn’t find it all that complex and while it’s clearly a good tea that gives lots of steeps, there might be more interesting TGY’s out there.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Grass, Mineral, Orchids, Vegetal, Violet
Angel was kind enough to include this in the last batch of samples she sent me in Spring 2018. And wow. This is lovely. The dry leaf is bright green curly dry moss. Pretty to watch as it unfurls and tints the added water. The liquor is nutty sweet roast chestnut and green pea. And possibly a bit asparagus. Delicious.
If I might add a suggestion for TeaVivre in terms of packaging of samples. The packaging itself is great. However, the font in the English text is far too small to read for an English speaker and further, the letters all run in and blur together. Add to that, that the names of the teas are in Pinyin and mostly unknown. aside from the names of the most famous teas, this can make for a most frustrating experience.
This tea, for example, with my glasses on, looks like it could be La Shun You Wu or Lo Shan You Wa or Lu Shan Tou Wu and so on and so on. I tried to type this many times in steepster before I gave up and went to search for this tea on TeaVivre’s site and eventually found it. It needn’t be so frustrating. Make the font larger.
Thank you, Angel, for the sample. I really enjoyed it, aside from the challenge with the name of the tea.