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Recent Tasting Notes


I bought this tea last spring and was very unimpressed with it. It was relatively flavorless, just slightly sweet, slightly astringent red water. It’s improved quite a lot over the last year, it now tastes like a fairly standard Yunnan black, but still fairly unremarkable. Tastes of malt and yam with maybe a touch of maple or cocoa.

Flavors: Cocoa, Malt, Maple, Sweet Potatoes

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 8 tsp 5 OZ / 160 ML

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Okay I swear I’d reviewed this tea before… I’m pretty sure I even remember mentioning how I don’t usually like green teas all that much but could drink this one all day… What’s going on with Steepster eating my notes??

I snagged this from the EU TTB round 2 after trying it on a whim and finding to my surprise that I actually really enjoyed it. It’s not as vegetal or astringent as many of the green teas I’ve tried in the past, and has more of a buttery, smooth and mild flavour. I would actually pick this one up!

As a side note, I apologise for how brief and vague my recent tasting notes have been/are going to be. A lot of these are backlog from the past few days when I haven’t felt like coming on here, as well as old teas (I’m focusing on trying to sip down all of the teas I’ve had the longest and as a result many of them have lost some of their former glory). I’ve also been getting over a cold, and still don’t have all of my taste fully back yet, so all of this combined means my tasting notes are not exactly thrilling right now. I can’t bring myself to not drink any tea until I’m feeling better, so I thought I may as well drink some that have already lost flavour while my taste is not 100% anyway. Plus, I really want to break my no-buy and pick up the sampler of Bluebird Tea Co.’s spring selection, so I think if I manage to get myself to 125 sipdowns I will allow myself to buy that as a treat. Motivation, right?

Sipdown (105/395)

170 °F / 76 °C 3 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Sample pouch of this I had over two days. I was originally interested in this as a possible replacement for Teavana’s Black Dragon Pearls, but wasn’t willing to order it because of the large ounce order size (2oz).
Good but not great, a bit malty and fruity. More of a daily drinker – work tea for me. I still might get some for that reason if I end up ordering from Teavivre at some point.

Flavors: Fruity, Malt

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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I love this one, entirely unexpectedly. It’s not really like any oolong I’ve tried before, tasting mostly like brown sugar with the tiniest hint of wet wood and a background hint of charcoal. It has a pleasing caramel smoothness, and is nowhere near as mineral as I was expecting given that it’s a rock oolong. It reminds me most of some of the more upmarket roasted oolongs I’ve tried from LP’s group buys, although the flavour profile is unique even by those standards.

The sweetness develops as this one cools, so it tastes almost like brown sugar spooned straight from a fresh bag. It overtakes the woody smokiness completely, but there’s also the beginnings of a menthol-like coolness in the aftertaste – not super powerful, but there nonetheless.

I’m impressed with this one – unique and delicious!

Boiling 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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Smooth, sweet, & chocolate-y notes throughout the session. This is a pretty good ripe puerh; which was exactly what I needed today while fighting this bug off.

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Leaf: Dry, it smells bright, with malty undercurrents. Wet, the leaf smells sweet, almost fruity. About half of the long, thin leaves are a pale gold.

Water: Bubbles are formed on the bottom of the kettle and began being released.

Amount: I used approximately 1 tablespoon of tea for 8 oz of water.

First steeping:
1 minute: The tea is a deep, dark brown. It tastes very malty.

Second steeping:
3 minutes: The tea is now a rich amber color. It still tastes malty, but there’s a slight flavor with it that is almost slightly fungal.

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Leaf: Short little folds of tea.

Water: I wasn’t paying attention, and the water got closer to a boil than I intended.

Amount: I used approximately 4g of tea in 8 oz of water.

First steeping:
1 minute: The tea is a beautiful, bright red-orange color. It has a very thick mouthfeel.

Second steeping:
3 minutes: The tea is a darker brown than before. It still has the thick mouthfeel. It is slightly bitter, I may have oversteeped it. It is ever so slightly acidic.

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Leaf: Whispy little twists.

Water: Below boiling, bubbles were formed on the bottom of the kettle and had just started being released.

Amount: I used approximately 3g of tea in 8 oz of water.

First steeping:
1 min: This tea is a dark red-orange color. It smells earthy and tastes slightly tangy.

Second steeping:
3 minutes: The tea is now a rich red brown. However, it doesn’t taste like much, but that is likely because I ate a piece of candied ginger just before drinking the tea.

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Leaf: Huge tightly rolled balls, approximately the size of a small marble.

Water: I let the water get really hot, just under a full boil.

Amount: I used 4 balls for 8 oz of water.

First steeping:
5 minutes: The balls have completely unfurled. The tea is a medium shade of amber. This tea is hot! Sipping on it, there is nothing that special about it. It tastes very similar to the black tea that they have at a lot of the Chinese restaurants on my college campus. However, I let it cool for a few minutes, so I could actually drink a full mouthfull, and the flavor is much more complex. It is very malty, with just a hint of a sweet, caramel-like flavor. It’s very rich and thick.

Second steeping:
10 minutes: The tea is a lighter, caramel color. It has exuded most of its nuance in the previous steeping, unfortunately.

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Leaf: These are beautiful twists of gold.

Water: Below boiling, small bubbles were formed on the bottom of the kettle, and on about half of the surface area, the bubbles were releasing.

Amount: Whoops, I overpoured and ended up using the whole 7g sample for 8 oz of water.

First steeping:
3 minutes: The tea is a deep reddish brown. It has a bright flavor, though it’s slightly acidic. After sipping the first half of the cup, I forgot about it, and it cooled to room temperature, and wow. It is really thick and creamy and malty. Fantastic.

Second steeping:
5 minutes: Again, the tea is a dark, reddish brown. However, it must have not had a very significant taste, because I didn’t have any notes on it. Maybe I was still too blown away by the cold tea.

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I won a sampler pack for Teavivre’s Black Friday wheel spin, so this isn’t exactly fresh but it is still DELICIOUS. I always expect magic from Teavivre’s jasmine blend and the magic is delivered. The jasmine is always so amazing, strong and sweet. The perfect flavor for these lovely green pearls. Teavivre’s jasmine teas are always a fantastic quality, even though Teavivre has three types of jasmine dragon pearls. I probably couldn’t tell the quality apart. I know I couldn’t really tell the difference when I tried the premium pearls and the superfine pearls years ago, when the harvests were different. These pearls seem very similar to what I remember of the other two, but of course that was a while ago. Harvests can change. In this cup, so much lovely jasmine that I can’t really taste the green tea. I would only buy my jasmine tea from Teavivre. Also, this one is 20% off on Teavivre.com right now, if anyone is interested!
Steep #1 // 1 heaping teaspoon for a full mug// 28 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 25 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Harvest: 2017

Flavors: Jasmine

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Teavivre graciously included a sample of this oolong with a recent order, and since it felt like forever since I tried a flavored Jin Xuan, I decided to go ahead and give it a shot. Flavored Jin Xuan is usually hit or miss for me, but this one was quite good. I would not call it a favorite, but I would definitely be willing to buy a larger amount to play around with in the future.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 7 grams of rolled tea leaves in 5 ounces of 195 F water for 8 seconds. Oddly, Teavivre recommended a water temperature of 212 F for this tea, but that seemed too high to me, so I stuck with my usual 195 F instead. For whatever reason, I cannot get into using a higher water temperature for Taiwanese oolongs, though I often do for green Anxi oolongs. Go figure. Anyway, the initial 8 second infusion was chased by 13 additional infusions. Steep times for those infusions were 10 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of cream and butter that were underscored by traces of grass and sugarcane. After the rinse, I found a stronger sugarcane aroma as well as hints of orchid and ginseng. The first infusion then released a stronger ginseng scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor opened with grass, ginseng, and unexpected spinach notes before revealing cream, butter, and orchid notes around mid-palate. On the finish, the ginseng returned just as the sugarcane emerged, leaving herbal impressions and sugary sweetness on the tongue and back of the throat after the swallow. The subsequent infusions saw the sweetness reigned in as the liquor started to soften and grow smoother. New impressions of steamed milk, minerals, violet, lettuce, kale, orange zest, daylily, and fresh daylily shoots emerged, and yes, I finally started to note a spinach presence on the nose as well as in the mouth. The later infusions (the longer ones) offered notes of minerals, butter, and steamed milk underscored by lingering touches of violet, lettuce, and ginseng.

Far from a bad flavored oolong, it took some time for me to warm up to this tea. I absolutely hated the first infusion, but the tea pulled me in from there. Though flavored oolongs are generally not my thing, I would have no issue coming back to this one at some point. I would imagine that fans of flavored oolongs would enjoy it and that is the audience to whom I would recommend it. Personally, I would have liked to see more fruity character and more complex, prominent floral notes to better balance everything else, but this should still be a pleasing tea for fans of flavored oolongs.

Flavors: Butter, Cream, Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Kale, Lettuce, Milk, Mineral, Orange Zest, Orchid, Spinach, Sugarcane, Sweet, Vegetal, Violet

195 °F / 90 °C 7 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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Thank you to CrowKettle for the sample. I finished off my second cup of this and can call this a sipdown.

Roasty, a tendency towards bitterness, toasted rice and barley, mineral and metallic notes. It isn’t a great tea, I found it a bit boring and lacking in flavor. I probably should have done this in my gaiwan.

Flavors: Bitter, Grain, Metallic, Mineral, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Toast, Toasted Rice

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 600 OZ / 17744 ML

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Early steeps have a strong citrus flavor with slight floral notes and after taste, while in later steeps the citrus flavor starts to dissipate and the floral notes become much more pronounced. A very good, interesting oolong.

Flavors: Citrus, Floral, Fruity

Boiling 7 tsp 4 OZ / 120 ML

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I won this tea in a draw that Teavivre hosted about a year ago. It’ll be interesting to compare it to what I remember of the company’s 2016 She Qian Dragonwell, which is an earlier picking by a few days. I steeped 3 g of tea in a 120 ml teapot at 175F for 20, 40, 70, 120, 150, and 180 seconds.

The leaf is a vivid green, is mostly unbroken, and has ample white fuzz; the aroma in the teapot is of spinach and other veggies. The first steep has notes of spinach, peas, asparagus, chestnuts, cream, and umami. From what I can recall, it packs more of a punch than the She Qian. In the second steep, the chestnut and green notes are intensified and the tea has a touch of astringency. Subsequent steeps retain the nutty character, but get increasingly green and vegetal.

This is a high-quality, refreshing green tea that has more substance than its She Qian counterpart. I have over 20 g of this to finish, so I’ll be able to explore different preparation methods.

Flavors: Asparagus, Chestnut, Cream, Peas, Spinach, Umami, Vegetal

175 °F / 79 °C 3 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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Review long overdue as promised…. Sample provided for review, which is based on the second of the two balls. I used my own parameters rather than the website’s. Brewed the 6.3g ball in a gongfu session, using 105ml zitao jianshui pot, at boiling water. Rinsed for a few seconds, rested for a few minutes. Steeping times: 10 seconds, 20, 15, 20, 20, 30, 40, 50; 1 minute, 5.

The dry leaf has a very light floral and sweet aroma. After letting the ball sit in the pre-heated pot, I smell more complex aroma that is buttery, sweet, and youthfully bitter. Again, not very strong. The wet leaf aroma, in contrast, is much more fragrant: stronger youthful bitterness, sweet, tart with citrus zest, and herbal-like with oregano.

The soup has a dark gold color, surprisingly dark having been presumably pressed in mid-2017. This sheng – made out of Jinggu material, fyi – is difficult to brew. The odd steeping times from the website didn’t work out for, but my personal familiar parameters didn’t work out either. It probably could have used longer and fewer steeping times in spite of the ratio not being that low (about 1:16), though 10 infusions is fine.

The first three infusions are somewhat cloudy. It took till the fourth infusion clear up completely and to really get on the ball with flavor and texture. The young bitterness is medium – not soft, but not a punch in the face. Young sweetness is also present. Good balance. I also taste lemon/citrus. The texture is creamy. The soup itself smells like mandarins. Huigan is at its strongest in infusions four through six, the last of which also fills the mouth with a minty flavor. The sweetness becomes an under-flavor in seven and eight. Bitter, vegetal notes take over. Huigan decreases in intensity. Texture loses creaminess but is still thick. The ninth infusion has nearly lost all flavor. A final five-minute steeping produces a heavily bitter soup with light huigan.

As for qi, my head felt stuffed early on in the session. Couldn’t concentrate on reading… I had to take a break to eat something.

Not the most enjoyable young sheng. The wet leaf aroma was complex and lovely, and I liked drinking the very middle infusions. I might be curious of how this could age 20 years down the line.


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Cold Brew Sipdown (532)!

So, this tastes to me the way that postage stamps smell – and I know that doesn’t sound very appealing, but I’m actually finding that despite the bizarre comparison I’m enjoying this a fair bit more than I would have expected to. I mean, I guess there is something sort of satisfying about licking the back of a stamp? I think it’s a mix of the veggie notes and smoke though that’s creating that flavour profile for me, though I’m not certain on that? I don’t know – ultimately I think this tea is somewhat neutral for me. Gunpowder just isn’t my favourite or least favourite type of green tea…


This review made me laugh… I used to collect stamps as a kid and licking the backs of them was such a treat? Maybe I’ll pick some up for nostalgia haha.

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