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Recent Tasting Notes
As much as I love big, strong, bold, dark teas, my favorite dry leaf is white needles. Big, fuzzy, white buds that look cool, and always smell like freshly rolled hay drying in the sun.
The steeped aroma is quieter, almost shy. There’s a kind of sweet grain essence to it, like opening a fresh box of corn flakes, but not nearly that strong. Like someone opening a fresh box of corn flakes in the other room. Down the hall.
The cup is round, and wet and sweet almost like fresh snow peas or papaya. But again, from very far away. Like you’re tasting what your identical twin is eating downstairs while you sleep in under a huge, downy duvet.
Chilled the second cup made from last night and had with a midday snack today.
I love the juicy sweet flavor of the pineapple in this – it is very refreshing and would be absolutely amazing served iced during our long hot summers here.
Upping the rating, as I knew I would. This is fabulous.
(This very generous sample was provided courtesy of Angel Chen at Teavivre. Thank you so much, Angel!)
It was actually kind of hard to put this tisane (7 tsp.-ish of it for 2 cups water) into the steeping basket of my Breville because it smelled and looked so tasty (kind of like trail mix) that I wanted to eat it rather than wait for it to be infused.
When this brews up, it is easily the bright red color of fruit punch. The scent of the steeped tea is heavy on the pineapple to me – it manages to smell both sweet and tart together. The first taste of it is very true to smell – I get the sweetness of pineapple at first and that leads into a very tart hibiscus that dominates the rest of the sip. It is so juicy! At first I thought it was too tart – but even thinking that, I managed to go through about half the mug unsweetened.
I did finally add a little bit of sweetener to it (much less than I normally add to that amount of tea) and the result was a perfectly balanced juicy beverage that, while good hot, will be absolutely amazing iced. The second of the two cups I made hot is currently cooling off to be tried iced to affirm this, and when it does I will likely bump this up a few more points.
To begin, I’m very new to green teas and my previous experiences have not been good so far. (I think I’m to blame for this, however, due to my tendency to make tea with too much gusto. And my long history of loving black teas.)
So anyway, I love the way the bright green, glossy leaves look. So long and flat, almost like preserved grass. As they brewed, the green became more vivid, as if the leaves were still alive. But the scent of it put me off a little… it was strong and reminded me of the ocean. And not in the sea breeze kind of way. But I gave it a chance anyway, as I feel like I’m in need of a green tea education.
I used 2 teaspoons for 8 ounces of water, brewed for 1:45 at 175 degrees. Any critiques you could offer about my preparation? The result was pale yellowy green and tasted much better than I expected. I feel like I understand what people say when they describe green teas as “buttery” now. It also has a sort of veggie flavor, like seaweed. I can’t really say I’m a fan, though. I believe these sorts of teas are going to have to be an acquired taste.
I discovered we had a big stash of this from our original sample that never got consumed before the holiday break, so I have been contentedly “sipping it down” each day from my new gaiwan.
This tea fits the gaiwan perfectly. The leaves open up huge and full in the cup, the liqueur is nearly the same color as the cup itself.
I feel like a decadent ex-pat during the 1930’s with this cup and this tea.
This is an incredibly light cup. The liqueur is almost completely clear. Just a faint hint of a pale, sea foam green.
The flavor is similarly delicate, bright, fresh and clean. No bitterness or vegetal notes, and yet also no sweetness. It does have a surprising astringency to it, however.
A very pleasing tea, but I have a mind that I ought to be serving it and sipping it from very fine, very thin, very fragile, delicate, white, bone china.
I could see this making a truly excellent iced tea.
Most TGY’s share the same floral/buttery characteristics but each one leans more to one or the other depending on the oxidation. This is a nice example of a floral-leaning and delicate TGY. I prepared it gong-fu style and the flavor was consistent throughout the four steepings before it started losing power.
That being said, my preference is for a more balanced, robust, buttery version at the start.
Also noticed a few more broken leaves than I’m accustomed to seeing in an oolong, but overall, not bad.
Full notes and pics on my blog : http://bit.ly/vnfzaP
For part of my Christmas my son put a program on my computer called Kerbal Space Program. You design and launch spacecraft. So far I been able to attain a good circular orbit and today I even made it to the planet’s moon and returned safely. The learning curve is very steep. I have blown several craft up while launching. I have much to learn. I think my son is almost tired of answering questions.
Any way I thought this flavorful tea would go well with amateur rocket science. I brewed 4oz for the first cup. It was light and sweet. The next three steeps I have dumped together and it is much darker and leather. A nice enjoyable toucha.
Getting ready to head off to my first class. I have been craving puerh for days. This seemed the right time. I chose this one because I don’t have time for an extended pu session. This little tuocha will go maybe 3 mugs. It is no rose tuocha but pretty good (Yeah, I know I am in the minority preferring the rose). This I find a little harsher and a little more barnyard. It’s redeeming value is it is sweet and spicy, slightly floral and peaty. It is way better than my description.
Revisited this one today. Steeped 1m in boiling water.
I have loved every sheng I have tried. They just speak to me. Shu, like this, I am working on. They are just so unlike anything else. Cheap grocery store cooked puerh can be really bad – fishy or moldy smelling, and the bagged stuff can be a bit one dimensional. These are not like that. They are fresh and complex. I loved the rose toucha by Teavivre. I wish I had gotten the Chrysanthemum one as well – maybe I’ll order that one down the road. Anyway, this one I am enjoying much more the second time around.
The taste is peaty, mildly saddle leather (even if I am the only one to think so), followed by fruity and spicy notes. There is also a heavier flavor I can’t quite place, woodsy maybe? Hmmm. Guess I should read the other reviews and see if any of the comments register with what I am tasting.
2nd cup, 30 second steep. Very dark. Similar taste profile but a bit too light in flavor. 3rd cup, back to 1 minute. The extra time gave back that fuller flavor of the first cup. Didn’t have time today to go further. It’s no sheng but I like it. Upping my rating a bit.
Steeped 1 minute with boiling water. Toucha remains mostly intact. The brew is dark with a light musty aroma. The wet leaf reminds me of wet musty hay. The first sip is much sweeter than expected. I happily notice the leather notes I got from the rose toucha only much lighter. May be imagination but I pick up just the tiniest hint of smoke. I am also getting that slick slightly tacky lip feel that appealed to me in the China Cha Dao puerhs. No astringency, or fishiness and I don’t find it heavily earthy.
Second cup, toucha completely crumbled. Has a bit more leather and as it cools a bit of bitterness moves in with a heavy dose of hay. Third cup I added a couple small leaves of chocolate mint. Not enough to really flavor it but added a cool mouth feel and evened out the bitterness. Next time I brew this I am going to really short steeps.
The other reviews raved on this tea. I may adjust my rating up or down a bit after I try modifying my steep parameters. I loved the rose toucha. This one I like. Definitely better than meh, but not a wow. IMHO – YMMV (in my humble opinion – your mileage may vary)
More samples from TeaVivre! Once I hammer out some space in the tea cupboard, I’ll DEFINITELY be ordering more tea from this company. I love the freshness of all samples provided thus far.
The man and I tried this tea last night after a shrimp curry dinner (nom). He added milk and sweetener to his, and I drank mine straight (both brewed Western, approx 2 tsp per cup). My non-sweetened tea tasted lightly of smokey malty chocolatey goodness. I really enjoyed how smooth this tasted, and really appealed to me since I am still not quite used to heavy, bold, in-your-face black teas. This was on the sweet side, and I like it that way!
This is a very pleasant, pale sort of jasmine. I think I could actually use more than a teaspoon of leaves per small cup with this one and not have it taste too strong or bitter. It’s funny, at this point I associate jasmine tea with the Chinatown neighborhood of Houston, as we tend to get served it by default every time we go to dim sum or out to any restaurant. Drinking it makes me think that I’m about to eat delicious vegetable bao. Mmmm…
Anyway, if you’re in the mood for jasmine, you cannot go wrong with this one. The aroma is really full, and the taste doesn’t disappoint. It’s a much better jasmine than I’ve had in a while. Definitely more pronounced than the average fare, without being cloyingly floral. Yum!
Finished off my sample of this today – it will be missed!
Today I get glimpses of the “orange” flavor that JacquelineM mentioned. I wasn’t as specific with the color, but it did seem bright to me – bright and warm. With a lovely starchy mouthfeel. As it cools I think that some astringence is trying to fight its way through – but for the most part this is a very smooth tea that I am putting on the reorder list – along with the full leaf Yunnan that Teavivre offers – I do so love black teas!
4 tsp. to 500 ml. water, at the below parameters in my Breville. Taken without additives.
Today when I prepared this the leaves smelled slightly spicy – cinnamon-esque with some cocoa, too. It retained that aroma once steeped, and the dark brown liquor tasted exactly as it smelled. The mouthfeel was starchy and chewy – with light astringency at the finish.
I love this – it’s going to go on my shopping list, as will samples of the other Yunnan black teas offered by Teavivre.
Second of my samples generously provided to me by Teavivire – I am loving them so far!
I’ve had a bad experience with Yunnan’s in the past due to the fact that I found the one I tried (from Upton) to be quite smoky. I just don’t like the smoke, guys. In anything. Ever. It was suggested (by Tabby, I think) that maybe I need to just lower the temperature to reduce/avoid smokiness (despite Upton’s label saying to brew at boiling). I’d already passed the Upton tea on to someone else at that point, but when Angel at Teavivre offered this one I eagerly accepted.
Sure enough, the suggested brewing temperatures on this tea were about 20 degrees lower than my previous one. The leaves in the sample were beautiful – gnarled and golden and huge. The dry leaves were malty smelling – I picked up on a hint of sweetness, cocoa or caramel-ish but only very lightly so. I didn’t pick up on any smokiness in the scent, so I was very hopeful as I scooped about 3 heaping tsp. into my Breville.
Once steeped the liquor was that rich, mahogany dark brown I associate with black teas. No smoke in the steeped smell, either! Instead just an assam like maltiness. On the first sip the first thing I really picked up on was the full-bodied texture of the tea – it has a fabulously smooth mouthfeel. The malty scent carried over into the taste, where it blends with the taste of dark chocolate. I’m loving this without sweetener, but I could see it being strong enough to handle milk and sugar if that’s how you like your black teas.
What a wonderful morning tea – I am so glad to know that Yunnans are a tea that I can and do enjoy very much!
Tea sample provided by Teavivre for review
Yesterday I prepared this with one long steep, and now I’ll try out multiple short steeps. I think this approach to tasting tea gives you a good understand of what the tea leaves have to offer.
With the initial steep, I picked up on notes of pumpkin spice, grains, sweet honey (not too sweet though), other spices. The liquid had a very silky smooth feel to it.
The flavour continued to strengthen over the second and fourth steeps. It never became too powerful or overwhelming. The black tea base has a nice flavour to it, it was a bit sweet, floral, and earthy.
After those, the flavour started winding down. The fifth had some notes of chocolate, cinnamon, with a slightly weaker flavour than the previous steep. Sixth steep was soft, light and still a bit floral.
Finishing off with the last two steeps, I could begin to taste my original water flavour. But it still had enjoyable qualities from the previous steeps (sweet, earthy).
At the end of all this, I took a moment to look at the leaves in my gaiwan. They were a nice brown colour, and although mostly comprised of broken leaf, there is no “tea dust”. This one turned out to be a fairly good resteeper considering the leaves are not whole.
Now that I’ve tried the two steeping styles, I think I prefer the longer western style. It has a richer, deeper tea flavour and takes advantage of the broken tea leaf, because that type infuses flavour quickly (more so than whole leaf).
This is one of the Teavivre samples I’ve considered purchasing because the price and flavour makes it an excellent every day black tea. I’ve certainly had much worse black tea and for more money.
100ml gaiwan, 1 sample pack (2 tsp? 5g?), 8 steeps (rinse, 45s, +15s resteeps)
Tea sample provided by Teavivre for review
Down to my last sample from Teavivre to try. For now I’ll prepare it with one long steep, and then later on in the day with at least 8 short steeps.
I was pleasantly surprised with this in my morning’s cup. I’m picking up on lots of flavours; something floral, pepper, lychee, chocolate, honey, spice (makes me think of pumpkin spice to some extent), and of course a good black tea body.
200ml glass teapot, 1 packet (2tsp? 5g?), 1 steep
By the way, I went on their website to check out some info on this tea and I saw that they had some new stuff in stock. When I spotted the Oriental Beauty @ about $15 USD for 100g my eyeballs nearly popped out! I have no idea how good it is, but usually their tea is at an already excellent price to flavour ratio. I’m seriously very tempted to put in an order. There is also some DongDing and Jin Xuan Milk Oolong. I hope they keep stocking more tea from Taiwan. :D MmmmMMMM yeah!
I found a tiny bit of this left over as well, and so I’m in use-up-samples mode before I compile my order of new teas for 2012.
I’m bumping this up a bit having had it on the heels of the Xin Yang Mao Jian. The two are so different that I’m able to appreciate this cup a lot more than the last time I tasted it.
The Xin Yang Mao Jian is delicate and shy. This is big, bold, strong and a bit unrefined (but not in a bad way). I love the Xin Yang Mao Jian in my delicate little gaiwan but I feel like I should be drinking this Chun Mei out of my 16 ounce mug with the Ester Island face on it.
The color is a deep golden and yet the flavor has very little roast this time. This is like an untamed thicket of rioting green foliage.
This is where Chinese green teas start to lose me, I think, and all begin to taste basically the same. But the problem, of course, is me, not the tea.
I’m into my second steep of this, now, and after my enjoyment of the dragon well in recent weeks I had high hopes.
There is a steady transition here as you sip, savor and swallow. Up front you get a strong roasted note and a tiny bite of vegetal bitterness, but then the cup opens up into bright, fresh green sweetness. But, that’s what happens with all the good, green, Chinese teas I’ve had. I just don’t have the palate development yet (for these teas) to discuss the subtle distinctions between a Chun Mei, a Xin Yang Mao Jian, a Taimu Maojin and a Bi Luo Chun.
Hopefully this week’s series of samplings will school me.
The first time I tried Tie Guan Yin, it was while I was watching my boyfriend play Dark Souls on PS3. Just tasting this tea made me think about that game, hahaha.
Anyway, this is a really good oolong. It’s not quite as tasty as Life In Teacup’s version, but it’s pretty close. The aftertaste is just as yummy as the tea itself.
The leaves came a little crushed though. I think they vacuum packed the sample too tightly. But it did come in the most beautiful little packet I’ve ever seen! So colorful with a gorgeous bird on it. Crushed leaves nonetheless, it still brewed a delicious cup. And it holds up to multiple infusions really well too.
This tea is like a meal. Lipsmacking good!
One of the main reasons I love Steepster is because when I haven’t had a tea in a while I can pull up old notes to get those steeping parameters. The other one is my virtual cupboard – I’ve pulled up many teas I’ve forgotten (!!) thanks to keeping track of my inventory online. Of course, part of the reason that my tea collection has gotten out of control might be Steepster related, too….but I digress. :)
This green is more roasted than seaweedy now, but I’m willing to bet that has a lot to do with it being about a year old. Regardless, it’s a nice hot drink on a cold night, and it balanced out a very heavy, warm dinner.