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Recent Tasting Notes
First of all, I have to say that JacquelineM put it the best with her tasting note of this same tea. It’s just spot-on, and I think everyone should read it and then go buy this awesome tea. It seems like everyone who’s added a tasting note to this one Steepster can at least agree that it’s a 4-5 star Chinese black.
That said, one thing that seems to be missing from some of the other tasting notes about this tea are the floral aspects. On the forefront, you get the tea (a nice black with maybe a little oiliness?). Then, you get the crusty sweet potatoes baked with a touch of orange juice (mentioned by JacquelineM). Finally, you get a mouth full of flowers (not over-the-top, but just right). It’s beautiful, and I’m really enjoying my last 4 cups of it with these spicy noodles right now. :o)
I received this and four other teas from TeaVivre for sampling, so I will use my faded journalistic integrity to provide a bias-free review ;)
Taking the advise of Jim Marks, I did not rinse this lovely little tuocha. 45 seconds for first steep in a 250ml gaiwan, there is a tiny bit of fishy smell emanating from my mug. I thought I would be turned off by it, but I don’t mind it actually. It’s really mellow and blends nicely with the additional scents of hay in this tea.
As this is my first tuocha, I didn’t want to steep it for very long during the first run. That turned out to be a good idea; this tastes smooth and light! There is a little bit of hay on the tip of the tongue, and I can tell there is going to be some additional sweetness in subsequent steeps.
Gonna play more Skyrim and have a few more cups of this!
EDIT: Second steep was 30 seconds, and it’s way darker than the first. Stronger, more pronounced flavours. Still quite nice!
This is Teavivre sample #3 of 5 for me today. I’m already sad that I only have two more samples remaining.
One word describes the Bailin Gongfu Black Tea: EXQUISITE! This is another exceptional black tea. The flavor is full yet light and airy. A very pleasing fruity and flowery zing is at the forefront. Behind that is the presence of malt and a hint of sweetness.
This tea is a kaleidoscope of great, well-blended flavors. As with the other two samples I have tried so far, there is a terrific freshness to the taste of this tea, as if it were just harvested yesterday.
I continue to be amazed by the fabulous flavors and quality of Teavivre teas. I’ve already added two Teavivre teas to my Christmas Wish List. Bailin Gongfu Black Tea is about to make its appearance!
I ended up steeping this tea for quite some time, long past the eight and a half minutes I set my timer for. I was playing Minecraft and not paying attention, so I didn’t hear the beep.
But this tea does not suffer one bit from oversteeping. True, it’s very dark maroon and a little tart, but it’s still great. I like this one more than the other fruit tea I’ve tried by Teavivre, Apple Awakening. The pineapple is a great touch and goes well with the rose hips. It’s like a hot, mouth-watering fruit punch. I bet it would be perfect iced, which is what’s happening next with this tea.
O pizza, I hate myself for loving you so, with your piles of hot melty cheese. Your greasy pepperoni and sausage should make me run away, but I do just the opposite. I wake up feeling such shame ;)
As you might suspect yesterday’s food is killing me today. I need puerh to restore by digestive system. I have one of these little rose touchas left. The leather is very prominent and the rose, though I can’t taste it, smooths out the rough edges. I don’t know much about the differences between shus but I know this is my personal favorite. I can already feel it working its soothing magic.
I saw this one reviewed yesterday by Indigobloom and thought I’d just pull it out of storage and see if I still love it. I did not do a rinse; instead I thought I would just do a light first cup. I tried to pour this while the brew was medium red. As I poured I became aware it’s a lot like meat on the grill. You have to remove it before it is done. By the time I finished pouring it was Assam dark. Not black and inky but darker than intended.
I needn’t have worried. Though the smell is kind of eeww, the taste is the great leather and lace I remember. A lot of you preferred the non-rose toucha. Not me. You don’t really taste the rose so much as it removes the throat bite that is in the non-rose. This is just velvety smooth goodness.
On the third mug, I let it steep a few undetermined minutes. The color was so cool. It was between grape juice and blood. A cup suitable for Vampire communion?
For the fourth mug I am going to cold brew it over night – just out of curiosity. Anyway still loving this.
What I appreciate most about this toucha is you don’t have to get all analytical with it. Yes, I do enjoy a tea full of subtleties where you have to work at deciphering all the intricate details in each steep. Sometimes though, like when I am on Steepster at 3:00 AM because I haven’t been able to sleep all night for several weeks, I just want a good smooth cup of full out flavor. When I need a tea that takes little effort to prepare or enjoy, this one rocks it. TeaVivre, have I said thank you lately?
I decided to continue with this today as I had not gone beyond three steeps with it before. Cup number four @ two minutes, is the first where the brew looks more like a black tea instead of ink. The leather is reduced but still the predominate flavor. Mild and a bit earthy. Also getting the sticky lip feel.
Cup five @ three minutes. Light and mild. Almost like a sheng. More sticky lip, and now a soapy taste, and add numbing metallic mouth feel. I have experienced this before but never this intense. Interesting.
Cup six @ five minutes. The liquor has an orange tint. I am using a 12 oz mug, so this is like cup 11 and 12 using standard cups. Time to call this one. I am not tasting water but this cup is very light and mild.
Per Ashmanra’s suggestion I had this one today. Really had to twist my arm ;) When I sniffed the dry leaf, I chuckled out loud. I was reminded of TeaEqualsBliss’ review of the tea that smelled of outhouse. Now, I don’t find this tea offensive like that, but I can see how the uninitiated might. Anyway this is everything I want in a ripe puerh. I love this.
Of all the teas in Teavivre’s web store this is the one I was most curious about. I specifically requested it be included in the samples. I have only had one other rose tea and I did not like it at all, however rose and puerh together just sounds interesting.
The toucha comes wrapped in paper with four in the sample envelope. First brew per the instructions. The toucha bubbled the instant the water hit it and crumpled almost as fast. I don’t know if you are supposed to do a wash with these, so I did not. After two minutes in boiling water, the brew is very dark like burgundy wine. The leaf is almost powdery small with a bit of rose petal. The aroma is pure ripe puerh (you know that “Eeww, do I really want to drink this?” smell. To which you happily reply, “Well, yeah.”). There is only the slightest hint of rose.
The sip is not even close to what I expected. Not at all like the green puerhs I reviewed recently and definitely not nasty like the one canned cooked puerh I bought at the local international food mart. The rose is way in the background and may even reside only in my imagination. The main flavor is leather, makes me think of a horse saddle, with a bit of smoke and spice. As it cools, the smoke and spice subside but the leather remains.
Second steep, only 1 minute this time. This is the darkest cup of tea I have ever made. Dark as dark chocolate. Still that amazing leather taste and a touch of pepper. Third cup back to two minutes. Similar to the second, a little less pronounced. Fourth cup, three minutes, still flavorful but the leather is gone. Just warm and creamy now with the first real earthy notes. Still reasonably dark and flavorful. I may try to push this further later but I am pleased with today’s results. Pretty sure with real short steeps I could get a lot of cups from this but a few really intense cups just seems more appropriate.
I know puerh makes a lot of people nervous but I really like this. Interesting and complex. I kind of wish the rose came through more, but given my past experience maybe it is better this way.
This morning I was excited to try another sample of Teavivre tea. The Yun Nan Dian Hong Black Tea – Golden Tip did not disappoint me one bit. It has a wonderful, light, flowery, fresh fields taste to it.
So far, Teavivre’s black teas have amazed me with the great amount of flavor they produce at low brewing temperatures and short steeping times. I brewed this one for three minutes at 185 degrees as recommended. The result was plenty of flavor, although I think my worn out tastebuds may need about three and a half minutes of brewing to obtain the full flavor effect. Regardless, this is another excellent tea.
This tea has a bright light amber color like wildflower honey. There is also a hint of sweetness to the flavor that makes this selection refreshing for black tea.
I continue to be very impressed with Teavivre teas. They have skyrocketed to the top of my favorites list. I’m already counting the hours until tomorrow’s new sample!
I haven’t been posting much lately because I had a slight case of the flu toward the end of last week, and my taste buds just haven’t been up to snuff. But I’m much better now, and I think my taste buds are in check too, as I can taste the wonderful complexity of this Keemun. Bold and smoky, but I don’t find the smokiness to be too aggressive. A hint of dark cocoa in the background, and a layer of sweetness that lingers into the aftertaste.
A very pleasant cuppa, one I’m glad to have in my stash again. Here is my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2011/12/06/premium-keemun-hao-ya-black-tea-from-teavivre-2/
After running our Tuesday errands, I just got back and decided to resteep the leaves from earlier. It is still quite flavorful, almost as much as the first infusion, maybe just a tad more mellow, but not by much, and some of the smoky tones have tapered down a little bit. It still tastes incredible though.
My first sampling of a Teavivre tea, and I am very impressed. First, I found the packaging impressive. There has been a little bit of chatter here on Steepster about the packaging, so I wanted to address that in my first Teavivre tasting note. This may not be as environmentally ideal as some other tea companies are … and I’d like to say that I definitely have great appreciation for those who strive for environmentally sound packaging. That being said, what I found so impressive about the packaging for this tea is this: it demonstrates a definite respect for the tea that is often lacking in other company’s packaging choices. And, I have to say that I love it when I find a tea company that truly respects a tea like this. It shows me that they aren’t all about the bottom line (while that is important to any company) and that the quality and integrity of their product is at least just as important.
This tea is a fantastic Keemun. I love a good Keemun: smoky (but not too smoky), rich and flavorful. This Keemun has a nice smoky presentation which is strongest in its scent, but doesn’t overwhelm the flavor and muddy its complexity. A really comforting tea and yet it is also quite invigorating and bold.
I taste hints of a smoky caramel flavor, with a slight fruity character underneath the bolder, smoky tones. The fruity flavor is almost wine-like, similar to some other Keemun teas that I’ve tried, but this one is different in that it has a more distinct presence to it … a more hearty background of flavor to support the somewhat light wine-y tones.
Certainly one of the very best Keemun teas I’ve ever had the opportunity to try.
Sip down. For my last time with this sample I thought I would play a little by adding lemon balm and orange mint. I have to say I am not crazy about what I did to this cup. The lemon balm is kind of a Lemon Pledge scent. It isn’t horrible. It just isn’t exactly lemon. The orange mint adds something that I can’t identify. It isn’t orange and it isn’t mint – other than a slight cooling feeling in the aftersip. The Keemun kind of got lost in the mix except for the hints of chocolate in the aroma.
After the first cup I removed the herbs and gave this wonderful tea the proper goodbye it deserved :)
Not likely to ever be my favorite, but after tinkering I have learned to really enjoy this. I keep the first steep at about 1minute. That is low enough to hold the smoke down to a pleasant level, for my tastes, and long enough for the wonderful black tea to bring forth its flavor. 2nd and 3rd steep I go 2 and 3 minutes respectively.
2 minute steep. Smoke on the Water (live) blasting. I’m ready. I love the dark chocolate smell of the dry leaf. The wet leaf has a good black tea scent but is slightly smoky, and I am nervous. This is my third time brewing this. The first time, I greatly disliked the first cup (ok I hated it) and loved the 2nd and 3rd. The second time, I tolerated the first cup. Today I get it. I can honestly say I am enjoying this. Smoke is still the big flavor, but there are a lot of other interesting things going on here. So much different than my first impression. Lighter. Smoother. Before finishing the cup I have already shifted gears and am listening to Emmy Lou Harris – Smoke along the tracks, off the live at the Ryman CD. Good fit. Really glad I didn’t have to play the Platters – Smoke gets in your eyes. Ha. Ready to commit and up the rating.
Ok, after receiving advice on smoky teas, I had to revisit this one.
First a story – I shared this with a co-worker today who is an all Twinings and the time kind of guy. He said the brew smells like roasted almonds. Then he tasted it and said, “Dude that’s just wrong. It’s like slapping puppies. It tastes like burnt coffee.” He poured the rest of his partial cup out and went back to his Lady Grey. By the way, the first time I brewed this he had cup number two and loved it.
Today I steeped enough for both of us to try on cup one. So I tasted it, and knowing what to expect this time, I did not find it nearly as off putting as the first tasting. I am not flinching. Progress. As the cup cooled the smoke diminished and the other notes started to emerge for me today. Yeah.
The two or three cups you can get after the initial steep are fantastic and easily deserving of a 90+ rating. My feeling is the average first timer will not get past the initial shock to realize there is a really good cup of tea here. I hope I am wrong. I bump my rating a bit.
Dry leaf is small pieces and smells of hay and unflavored pipe tobacco. I have never smoked and can’t stand the smell of ash trays but fresh tobacco is a pleasant aroma. Used a healthy spoonful of leaf. Steeped longer than intended, about 3 minutes with below boiling water per label instructions. Wet leaf is smoked hay.
First sip, wow, this is smoky. I don’t believe I have experienced this in a loose leaf before so I am a bit taken aback. I can pick out the Keemun underneath and can really taste it in the aftertaste. It is pleasant but the smoke dominates. It may take me a couple cups to decide what I think of this tea. Cup two and three – strange, this isn’t smoky at all. It’s just a good cup of tea. I guess if you really like the smoke this would be disappointing. Personally, I think if there is a lot of smoke involved then there should be pulled pork. Hey, there is a flavor for all you flavor folk – smoked pulled pork, oh yeah.
This was one of the early teas I experienced when Teavivre first introduced me to fine loose leaf tea. I remember being blown away. I added some to my recent order as it has been a long time since I last had Bailin Gongfu and I wanted to see if it stood up to my earlier experience and my memories. The first thing I’ll note is looking back through my notes, this was usually accompanied with food – and almost always food that is bad for the waste line but good for the soul. I don’t currently have any good junk food, so sad as that sounds I’ll proceed. Opening the package fills my nose with cocoa. Brewed this is cocoa, malt, and honey. Man this stuff is almost like junk food all on its own without the bad stuff. It really is as good as I remember.