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Recent Tasting Notes
First – let me start of by saying – Roselle (for those of you who don’t know) is a species of Hibiscus (MORE INFO: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roselle_%28plant%29) and is popular in Australia.
The plant is considered to have antihypertensive properties. Primarily, the plant is cultivated for the production for bast fibre from the stem of the plant. The fibre may be used as a substitute for jute in making burlap.1 Hibiscus, specifically Roselle, has been used in folk medicine as a diuretic, mild laxative, and treatment for cardiac and nerve diseases and cancer.2
The red calyces of the plant are increasingly exported to America and Europe, where they are used as food colourings. Germany is the main importer. It can also be found in markets (as flowers or syrup) in some places such as France, where there are Senegalese immigrant communities. The green leaves are used like a spicy version of spinach. They give flavour to the Senegalese fish and rice dish thiéboudieune. Proper records are not kept, but the Senegalese government estimates national production and consumption at 700 t (770 short tons) per year. Also in Myanmar their green leaves are the main ingredient in making chin baung kyaw curry.
In East Africa, the calyx infusion, called “Sudan tea”, is taken to relieve coughs. Roselle juice, with salt, pepper, asafetida and molasses, is taken as a remedy for biliousness.
The heated leaves are applied to cracks in the feet and on boils and ulcers to speed maturation. A lotion made from leaves is used on sores and wounds. The seeds are said to be diuretic and tonic in action and the brownish-yellow seed oil is claimed to heal sores on camels. In India, a decoction of the seeds is given to relieve dysuria, strangury and mild cases of dyspepsia. Brazilians attribute stomachic, emollient and resolutive properties to the bitter roots.3
Above are the uses
Here is what they say about the TEA infusions…
In Africa, especially the Sahel, roselle is commonly used to make a sugary herbal tea that is commonly sold on the street. The dried flowers can be found in every market. Roselle tea is also quite common in Italy where it spread during the first decades of the 20th century as a typical product of the Italian colonies. The Carib Brewery Trinidad Limited, a Trinidad and Tobago brewery, produces a Shandy Sorrel in which the tea is combined with beer.
In Thailand, Roselle is drunk as a tea, believed to also reduce cholesterol. It can also be made into a wine – Hibiscus flowers are commonly found in commercial herbal teas, especially teas advertised as berry-flavoured, as they give a bright red colouring to the drink.
NOW…For my thoughts on THIS specific TEA from TEVIVRE***
It smells like a combo of Blueberries, Raisins, Cherries, Currants, and/or other berries! There are tarty, sweet, juicy, and bitter fruit aromas morphing while infusing! It has a slight roasted aroma to it too!
The post infusion color is different than I expected! I was assuming since Roselle was in the Hibiscus family it would be intense purple or pink or red in color but it’s a bit of medium brown, purple, red, blue-ish.
It has a vibrant fruit-tart flavor but it’s a different kind of a tart…it’s a good kind of a tart! It’s fruity and berry. I can taste the Currants, Blueberries, AND Grapes – individually but also together – blending nicely. I really LOVE the grape addition. It really contributes to the overall flavor! I think the Currants help tone down that stereotypical hibiscus flavor unless this Roselle is NOT as intense as your “default hibiscus used in most teas”…if that is the case…I prefer Roselle to Hibiscus and hope more companies start using THIS species of it in teas and tisanes they feel they need to add hibiscus to.
So…apparently…I want to ramble about this tisane.
I feel I need to point out different ingredients when they are used to give respect to not only the ingredient itself but the companies that use them, promote them, and bring them to the forefront. I love things I have to Google and Wiki…I LOVE learning about them!
At first I was thinking I would like this better iced…which still may be the case…but the more it cools at room temp and the more I sip on it…the more I am enjoying and appreciating this fruity tisane. I don’t over infuse my fruit tisanes so I only let this one go for about 2 to 3 minutes.
Because this different in many ways I am scoring it a bit higher than I would “average” fruit tisanes…I like this. I think it’s a neat offering. I am sure it could be tinkered with to your liking, but I like it just fine this way – my first attempt – and I appreciate the ingredients they way they are placed in there and how they work with eachother.
I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about this tea. I never had white tea before and I shied away from it. My impression was that white tea would be weak and watery and not as robust as I prefer tea to be, particularly in the morning.
When I brewed this tea, I was still suspicious. Teavivre’s instructions to steep it for a maximum of two minutes made me think that I was going to have to really focus my tastebuds to find enough flavor for me to appreciate. I followed their instructions anyhow because the Teavivre black tea samples I tried were perfect after I went along with their recommendations.
After brewing for two minutes, the tea had the color of a nice white wine. When I tasted it, I was very surprised by the sweet floral flavor that flooded my senses. Although I can’t say that the flavor is strong (and this may just be a normal characteristic of white tea), I can say that the tea is delicious. A very pleasant sweet aftertaste was also left on my palate after each sip.
This is another terrific tea from Teavivre. Even though I thought that once I went black (tea), I would never go back, I would definitely select this white tea again for afternoon drinking. I’m also now curious about other white teas.
This is a black tea that will appeal to the mild child in most of us. It’s more savory than sweet, with a strong topnote of chocolate, some spice, hints of wine as it lingers on the palate. Nothing overpowering in any direction, simply a smooth cup of black tea.
That may be why it’s called gong fu – a nod to it being one of the oldest black teas produced in its region. At some point you learn to do it right, n’est-ce pas?
What’s interesting to me as well is reading TeaVivre’s description of the caffeine content. It’s lower in comparison to a cup of coffee, so it might be a good nightime tea, but that’s also a relative statement. If you’re preparing it “gong-fu” style, that might be a moot point as well.
A really intriguing tea that I would venture to call a possible gateway tea for the hot chocolate drinker in your life who’s looking for something new to try.
Pics and further thoughts in my full review on my blog : http://bit.ly/t131TI
Same tea, new note. I added the rest of the sample. This is the last of one of the first teas I received from Teavivre. So sip down!
This is still so fresh and clean. Along with the melon and cucumber notes, it made me think pea pods today. Silver Needle is such a beautiful delicate tea.
This morning we played all hymns – probably haven’t done that in a decade. Started out slow and quiet. The last two we do as rockers, so I turned the volume up a just little (honest – maybe 1/8 turn). The sound guy and the drummer saw this as the moment they had been waiting for. Things got pretty loud after that (he he).
Yesterday I had one of, if not the darkest, cheapest, loose leaf in my collection. This morning (6:00 AM) in celebration, I chose the lightest, possibly most expensive tea I have and it is a beautiful thing. When I take the time to notice sipping tea is a deeply spiritual thing. It connects me with the universe. This morning in honor of the One who created the universe, I rejoice in this cup. To those of you who are followers of the way – He is risen! Rejoice I say again rejoice! Happy Easter All! I’m off to play some loud guitar. Woo Hoo!
I sometimes read where reviewers don’t like white tea because, to them, it is too subtle. I can’t relate. I find Silver Needle to have an amazingly full flavor, and while it is not as in your face as an Assam it does pack a healthy buzz – despite popular opinion to the contrary. One of my oldest samples, it still smells as fresh as the day Teavivre sent it to me. As soon as the water hit the leaf, the room smelled of fresh cut hay. The sip is sweet hay and cucumber followed by a lingering melon aftertaste. This is exactly what I wanted this morning! I will continue on with this most of the day. An excellent white.
I have so been craving this one. I can’t believe I still have some of it. Steeped about a minute and a half. After I poured my cup, I stuck my nose in the press and took a deep breath. It was like a bouquet of field flowers. The taste of this is cucumber and melons with a nice tongue tingle. It is sweet with a fresh hay-like taste late in the sip. The aftertaste lingers with white tea delight. This is an exceptional white tea. It re-steeps well. I spent the rest of the day with this one.
This tea is a gift from Heaven how delightful and appropriate that it was sent by an Angel. I lift my cup in humble gratitude. Thank you.
Wow, the instant the water hit the leaf the room was filled with the scent of wonderful sweet hay. The wet leaf is a bit seaweed. The first sip, as with the white peony, still reminds me of mild cucumber, but today there is another element that… it reminds me of fresh garden picked sweet peppers. You know the kind with no heat or pepperiness to them, they just taste green. The aftertaste is melon. Multiple cups tell me this packs a pretty good amount of caffeine.
My new tea disciple buzzed me today to ask what made oolong different :) in explaining it to him I mentioned white tea… white tea? I have never heard of that!.. Um, would you like to try some? I think he was in my office with his mug before I could hang up. I showed him the dry leaf, then poured him a cup. He thought it just looked like water but sniffed and caught the hay note. He had the 3rd cup. My 4th was still going strong.
You don’t chug this and run. You get quiet with it and meditate on its subtle flavors. When you do it speaks in a nicely complex way. This is really good.
Since I am already rambling – I had a spinach salad at lunch with cucumbers and mushrooms. As I am biting into the cucumber I am thinking this isn’t quite the same as what I called cucumber in the tea. Then I bit into the mushroom and it tasted so earthy like forest dirt smells, and all I could think was puerh! I am becoming such a tea nerd.
Sunday afternoon with the Mythbusters and a cup of yum. (Season premeire tonight!) My wife took one look at my mug and said it just looks like water. I said, yeah and it tastes like cucumber. She said, ewww and walked away. Yep, I know how to keep this stuff to myself. Honest wasn’t my intent. It just does taste like sweet hay and cucumbers. If I heard that description I would be skiddish too. One taste though and you just get it. This really good.
Back logging – It is 56 degrees with a tornado warning this morning. Going to be in the teens and snowing tonight. Crazy. Outside my window are billowing black clouds, a vivid lightning show, and a torrential downpour. The power of nature is awesome. I think cranking REO’s live version of Ridin’ The Storm Out seems appropriate. To go with it, I picked this very delicate tea as it represents just the opposite of the storm. The day holds in the one hand unflinching wrath, and in the other peace and grace. I choose grace. Wonderful cucumber/melon notes in this cup. Excellent choice!
Update – the storm passed with no reports of serious damage. We were without power for a few hours but all is well. Ordered pizza with family, then went to praise band practice so I never had time to post yesterday.
Instead of saving back some of the samples that I am pretty sure I am going to love, I notice I am grabbing them first. Oh well, here goes another. The dry buds are long and silvery white with a bit of green. Very fresh and sweet smelling. Hate to over use the hay word but that’s what I picture when I inhale. Let’s call it alfalfa because that sounds cooler.
Steeped per the instructions for 1 ½ minutes. Wet leaf smells really good. The brew is very pale almost clear with a greenish tint. What a contrast to the puerh from yesterday! Hard to believe they both come from the same plant. Well, not literally but you know what I mean.
The first sip is light with cucumber notes or melon as some may interpret it. Sweet with a touch of grass. I am not sure my description is doing this justice. This is a really good cup of relaxation. My stress level has been through the roof lately and this is just the vacation moment I needed. I am sitting back and staring out the window while sipping the cup. Ahhhh. I would hate to imagine any one would slam this down and not take the time to appreciate it. Cups two and three were every bit as pleasurable.
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.