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Recent Tasting Notes
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.
The early decades of my tea journey were filled with flavored grocery store bagged black teas. I didn’t know there was anything else and I liked them. Then I met green Earl Grey. This changed my direction and led to loose leaf. Now I can say, generally speaking, black teas are my least favorite type. There are rare exceptions. This is one of them. It is an amazing tea. I don’t find it invigorating. To me it makes a relaxing introspective cup. Assam makes me flinch. This melts the world away with sweet malty goodness.
I got a buzz on the intercom this morning. I was told to get some tea brewed as donuts were on the way. Custard filled, chocolate covered, I know its bad, but its oh so good donuts. This tea came to mind. The smell of dark chocolate/cocoa filled the air before the bakery box arrived. My new to tea co-worker was impressed with this one and with the Chinese for their brilliance in coming up with this stuff.
I tried, fellow Splenda junkies, not to add it to the cup. I really did try. As I noted the first time I had this one, I don’t think it comes alive until the sweetener hits it. Rather than put up with mediocre according to my tastebuds, I decided to go for awesome by getting honest with myself and ripping the top off the yellow packet. Judge me if you must. I don’t care the tea and the donut were great.
Today is a good day. A co-worker brought me a piece of homemade cheesecake, and it was good. I thought what tea goes with cheese cake? Oooh, Bailin! Low temp water and 2 minute steep. For those who reviewed this recently and thought it rather ordinary, I am so happy that you get to drink black tea this awesome enough that this seems like nothing special. With the combination bite/sip, I got cheesecake just drifting straight into malt that lingers forever with chocolate and caramel notes. No bitterness. No astringency in the taste but does leave you with a very slight dry mouth feel. In my realm of tea experience this stuff is freakin’ awesome!
Nothing makes you appreciate really good tea like a weekend with mediocre to just plain bad tea. After the powder room experience of yesterday, I grabbed some of the best of the best first thing this morning. What an excellent choice! I really wanted to just relax and sip this but instead it disappeared in a hurry – multiple times! See tasting previous notes.
Had this with sour dough bread today. I was a little concerned the tastes were too similar but it turned out to be a good combination. The wet leaf brought to mind cocoa, or bakers chocolate, heating on the stove. The bread enhanced tasting notes I hadn’t caught before. The main being a cucumber taste. Under that was a sweet fruity something that I couldn’t place but made me think of jelly – kind of went with the whole bread thing I guess. As the cup cooled the malt became more pronounced. The aftertaste pleasantly lingers. There is also a dry mouth feel with this combination. An exceptionally good tea.
Yeah, more samples from Teavivre! Haven’t even tasted it yet and I am loving it. I used half of one of the 4 sample packets. The dry leaf looks small but smells amazing. First, I noticed malt. As I waited for the water to heat, I keep wondering where is that chocolate scent coming from? Oh yeah, it’s the tea. Steeped 2 minutes (increasing on later steeps) with below boiling water per instructions furnished on the sample label. The brew has a slight caramel aroma and is a deep reddish golden color. The wet leaf has a bit of a coffee edge and swollen leaf reveals small broken pieces.
I tried this without sweetener and thought is was a bit beige. So as is my custom, I used sweetener. Now the sip is what I would classify as medium bodied. You don’t have to work at tasting it, but it doesn’t grab you by the throat and kick your teeth in either. Nice. Smooth caramel taste, lightly malt, and creamy. The aftertaste lingers without being offensive. A civilized cup for when you have the time to enjoy it. Three infusions from the leaves.
I don’t normally drink a lot of straight black hot tea. This is my second black from Teavivre. These teas are really winning me over. I honestly didn’t know a black tea could have this much depth. Only problem is my cup keeps going empty! Very nice tea.
I haven’t mentioned it yet, but I really do enjoy the packaging on TeaVivre’s teas. I enjoy knowing where each tea is from, all the manufacturer and storage and use details, right there on the label. It’s a nice touch!
This one smells a tiny bit like sweet clover to me. Very nice, but not purfume-y like a lot of floral teas. Just a nice touch of sweetness.
This one’s a little bit sharp if you drink it too hot, but once it cools enough you won’t burn your tongue, it gets nice and sweet and smooth. It keeps getting sweeter and even a little juicy as it cools, too.
This is my first taste of tea by Teavivre. Samples of this and four other Teavivre varieties came in the mail yesterday all the way from China.
I have to say, I am blown away by the great complex flavors of this bold yet very gentle tea. It’s one of the best black teas I have ever tasted!
This premium tea has a wonderful woody and smoky taste that is fully realized, but not overpowering, after just three minutes of steeping at 194 degrees. I find that worthy of note because I usually have to brew black tea for five minutes at 212 degrees to wring a level of flavor strength from it that even approaches this fine gem from the East.
The rich flavors of this tea are very clear without any bitterness creeping onto your palate. The bright amber color foreshadows the outstanding tasting experience that awaits you.
I am excited to try another tea offering by Teavivre…TOMORROW!
I’ve been enjoying this tea for the past week in all different kinds of steeping scenarios and it’s delicious! Like the others, I’ve noticed notes of citrus. It’s very smooth, slightly sweet, and steeps into a dark, rich cup, but it retains a delicate body.
More thoughts and pics in my full review http://bit.ly/sXlcaY – this is definitely a tea that will take you from your wake-up into your workday. That’s how I’ve enjoyed it – a big vacuum mug that stays warm and flavorful for several hours.
I don’t know that it resteeps as well in the traditional teapot method. Gong-fu style with very short steeps brought out more flavor profiles when I sampled it that way this past weekend.
Definitely one to add to your cupboard!
Another offering that I received from Teavivre. I have tried a few Ti Kuan Yin Oolongs and they all seem have different characters. Some more green. Others more oxidized. Some having a nutty or honey characteristic. There is a beauty in watching the Iron Goddess unfurl to present her glorious nectar. I do like how this is packaged, I can make a pot with one package. Opening up the dry leaves….whoa! Very floral. Very green. Smells like packaged summer. I know this is not a jasmine scented or flavored Oolong but it smells very similar. The leaves produce a pale yellow liquor. The smell and flavor remind me of that first part of June when you can really start to smell the Jasmine. Another great offering from Teavivre.
Updated on 1/4/2012
Experience buying from Teavivre http://steepster.com/places/2857-teavivre-online—
Age of leaf: advertised as spring 2011. Received fall 2011, brewed up days later.
Appearance and aroma of dry leaf: similar in appearance and smell to other Chun Mee teas I have had before: small chopped and tightly curled leaves, with a grassy and somewhat smoky aroma.
Brewing guidelines: Based on two different steeping sessions; I used a little hotter temperatures than the standard parameters for my green teas call for due to Teavivres web directions. Loose in glass Bodum pot. Stevia added.
2 tsp, 2 cups of water (4 tsp, 4.5 cups)
……….1st: 180, 1’ (187; 1’)
……….2nd: 180. 1.5 (178 trying it cooler; 1.5’)
……….3rd: 185, 2’ (185; 2’)
Color and aroma of tea liquor: cloudy, light honey color, mild vegetal aroma.
Flavor of tea liquor: standard vegetal green tea flavor; minor astringency on the second steeping.
Appearance and aroma of wet leaf: Looks and smells fresh.
Value: Roughly a $1/ounce, and you can’t really beat that for fresh green tea anywhere.
Overall: My wife and I changed our mind on this one after the second session: the flavor is not as good as the flavor during the first session. I am not very taken by the flavor (too astringent, or something). It did hold up with the flavor it had through three steepings. Nothing else really notable about it other than that it is fresh and inexpensive.
This is the first tea I’ve tried from this company, which graciously sent me a number of yummy samples. Boy, am I impressed! A couple of items to note as I wait for the tea to cool off a bit: the packaging of this tea was superb. Individual bags inside a larger bag (which were then inside a box)… and each individual bag looks like it will yield at least two cups, more if you resteep.
The aroma of this tea is so nice. There’s a hint of caramel and lots of hearty warmth.
Now on to the taste: toasty caramel, strong and bold. Now this is an awakening cup of black tea! Lately I’ve been trying to drink my tea straight up with no sweeteners, but honestly, even a sweet-tooth sugar queen like me doesn’t need anything to enhance this tea’s flavor. It’s robust and sweet at the same time.
This is a new cupboard essential. And a new addition to my morning wake-up call.