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Recent Tasting Notes
My thanks go to Angel Chen, who let me sample a generous amount of Teavivre’s offerings! I was shocked at how much tea was in the package! Thank you!
First of all, I want to mention that the tea geek in me loves the stickers on Teavivre’s pouches. They have all kinds of info about where the tea came from, how much leaf to use, what the perfect temperature for brewing is.
I made a pot this evening and think I have found my new favorite unflavored black tea. The leaves are long and narrow, harvested young, and gently rolled. Even after shipping, they are all long and unbroken. Mine are not as yellow as in the picture. They’re more brown and champagne colored. There is no leaf dust in the pouch at all.
It’s incredibly smooth and almost fruity in some way, like a darjeeling but more creamy and caramel-like. Hard to describe. I have had yunnan in the past before, but it was never like this. Even after such a short steep, it is very flavorful, but not bitter. There is nothing harsh about the taste. I truly love this tea. It has seriously struck a chord with me.
Sip down. Yesterday while I was sipping the Lishan high mountain oolong, I kept thinking it tasted a lot like this tieguanyin. So today I steeped this to confirm. I was wrong. They taste very dissimilar. This is much lighter in flavor with a heavier aftertaste. They do share some characteristics, both are milky, buttery, floral, and freshly green. It’s kind of like different types of apples. They share some basic traits, yet they are vastly different. I can’t say one is better than the other. They are each unique. What gives the high Mt. oolong an edge is the knowledge of how rare it is and how it is grown. This one is still very tasty.
I drank myself half silly with this one all day yesterday at work. Six (12oz) mugs I think – kind of lost track. I came in this morning and the leaf was still lush and green. I thought what the hey, let’s give it a try. The leaf just took right up where it left off. Multiple mugs today. Anyone else notice how hefty this leaf is once it unfurls? It’s like twice as thick and heavy as anything else I brew.
The name of this sounds so heavy and ominous, yet the liquor is so clear and transparent with the lightest yellow/green tint. The scent is lovely, even though someone here describes it as smelling like latex gloves and now I can’t erase that from my mind. Lightly buttery, with a bit of vegetable late in the sip, followed by a pleasant lingering aftertaste. 3 cups before lunch.
Then had a Jalapeno Crunch at SnS. Wow! (no I don’t work there). Double burgers, pepper jack cheese, salsa, jalapenos, onion straws, & chipotle mayo. There is also something smoky in there as well. I do not even want to know how bad it is for me.
Of course I was miserable afterwards and thought I need puerh but there are still a lot of steeps left in this tea. This is too good to throw out before its time. I am going to lie to my stomach and tell it this is now a sheng.
At the end of the work day this was still going strong. Upping my rating.
I used an entire sample pouch. The wet leaf really fills up the bottom of the press. On the second cup you can’t even see through the water in the press for the leaf. That’s a lot of leaf. The brew has the color and feel of chicken broth. The taste is buttery. While this is really good, it is the only one of these samples I have preferred another company’s version. This is not their highest grade TGY and that may be the reason, or maybe I just prefer a little more floral darker taste in this. That being said, I would never ever turn down a cup of this delightful tea.
This is a lightly oxidized full leaf oolong. The dry leaf is rolled into typical nuggets with a faint grassy smell. I used almost a 3g scoop of leaf. First steep, 3 minutes at about 175F. The wet leaf is dark and looks like broccoli leaves and is mildly grassy smelling. The brew was a very pale yellow almost clear. It has a sweet floral aroma. The taste is sweet and floral with a bit of a grassy aftertaste. A bit weak my fault (keep reading).
On the second steep, 2m, the leaves are now open and covering the entire bottom of my press rising up almost to the plunger screen. Slightly darker brew with more pronounced flavor that is a lot closer to what I was expecting. Still a bit green. I am detecting melon(?) in the aftertaste that lingers. Just noticed Teavivre recommends 212F water! Oops!
Third steep, 2m. Got the temp right this time. Well, hello flavor. Feels a little milky to me now. No bitterness.
Fourth steep, 3m. The TGY flavor is a lot milder. Longer steep would have helped. Still tasty.
Fifth and final steep, 4m. The flavor changed to darker and earthier with almost raw puerh qualities. The aftertaste is a mix of floral, grass, and fruity. It no longer tastes like a TGY but I like where it is going. Wish I had time to try one more steep.
So tasty! This has everything that I love about Chinese green teas. The leaves are bright green and fuzzy and lovely. They also smell fabulously like sweet hay and nutty green aromas.
The taste is buttery sweet and sun warmed hay. There’s a savory mineraly finish. It all goes down super smooth and comforting. No astringency, bitterness or harshness at all. This is very good stuff.
This is one tasty tea, and perfect for the mornings. I’m spoiled, because I woke up to this pre-brewed by my lovely husband, who encouraged me to partake. I’ll concede that I had my morning coffee first. This is much gentler on my stomach.
While it’s downright warm right now in Houston compared to the snow covered Northeast (I have a chuckle everytime I imagine what Houstonians would do in a freak blizzard), it’s a bit chilly by local standards. After getting down to the low 40s overnight, it takes a while to warm the house back up. So this tea is so welcome as I sit and feel a little cold.
It reminds me of – forgive me for this comparison- a really, really good version of a standard Lipton tea bag. And that’s why I like it. It’s familiar, but much much better. Yum!
Blessed Feast to everyone of the Western Rite this morning of All Saints Days!
Another one of my free samples from TeaVivre.
Oh how I love Yunnan golden teas.
We made homemade pizza last night, and of course I burnt my mouth eating it (how is it so impossible not to do this?) so my taste buds are a bit dull this morning and even so, all those great citrusy notes are popping through followed by warm, round, soft, sweetness. This variety is a bit more citrusy and a bit less warm, round, soft and sweet than some, but without having that kind of lingering bite that makes your throat tense up late into the cup.
Given TeaVivre’s fantastic pricing, this is probably my new go-to Yunnan golden.
It is “cold” in Houston this morning, by which I mean high 50’s, and this is the purrrrfect cuppa for a morning like this.
I don’t know why this tea appealed to me so much. Normally, I don’t like sweetener in my tea. I supposed I was thinking this would taste like honey but not be sweet. This tea fulfills that ideal.
When I opened the packet, I was surprised to see all the little leaf balls stuck together with honey. I thought it would be only honey flavored! But now that I look at the description, I should have been expecting honey covered tea leaves. :) They come in neat little single serving packs. There’s enough in there for a large pot if you’re brewing it western style. I planned to just take a small portion of the leaves to make a small serving, but I wasn’t sure how the leaves would keep since they were covered in honey, so I had to take out my large teapot and use all the leaves at once.
The resulting liquid is a light brown and slightly cloudy from the honey. It brews up quite strong. This seems to be a medium oxidation. I’ve had greener oolongs, but also darker ones. Honestly, it’s a bit dark for my taste, but that’s purely personal preference. It’s still very enjoyable. It’s not sweet at all, and the honey taste is light but pleasant. There’s a sweet toasty hay flavor and something fruity. It’s all very nice and comforting on a chilly day.
I’ve got a bit of a sore throat so this honey tea is probably pretty good for me right now. :)
Curious and admitting globe amaranth is never going to be a taste I crave I decided for the third steep to cut the string holding the bloom together and remove the flowers. The floral scent is still present in the brew but much reduced. I can even taste tea. What was a beautiful center piece is now a more pleasant drinking tea. I know it kind of defeats the purpose.
After reading this morning of using a 7 oz glass to steep this, I wanted to try it but didn’t have anything that small so I used my press and added 12 oz of water. That is about a third of what I have used in the past for flowering teas. 1 minute steep in boiling water. The globe amaranths were poking out of the water. The bloom was spanning almost the width of the press. Taller and narrower would be better. Using less water brought forth the jasmine scent but the globe amaranth dominates. I do think less might be more with this tea. The flavor is much more intense. I have read a lot of reviews warning of the dread hibiscus, well here it is the globe amaranth. If you aren’t a fan you will have an issue.
The most beautiful flowering tea I have seen to date. Silver needle green tea cradling a white bouquet with twin white spires rising up topped with red globes. The flowers look like they were just picked. The picture does not do it justice.
Poured boiling water through a strainer so as not to damage the pod. It began expanding immediately. Not a single leaf or petal came loose in the pot. Poured into cup through the strainer. Clarity is excellent. Color is from pale amber to deep golden depending on steep time. The jasmine flavor is way in the background. One of the other two flowers – the globe amaranth I think – dominates and it is not a flavor I particularly like. Letting this steep longer and letting the cup cool brings out the jasmine a little more.
Visually this rates a 100.
This has a production date of 2011. I heated the water in my usual way – 12 oz heated until the kettle got loud. Turned it off. As it stopped roaring I opened the lid and listened until the kettle became silent. Then I did something different. I poured the water in to my press, then added the leaf. O My Goodness! The flavor coming out of the press was like being in a fancy kitchen. Buttery asparagus, maybe squash. I don’t know my veggie smells well but it was incredible. The taste is just as fresh as the day I opened the sample. I can’t imagine that the superfine can be better than this. How do you improve on perfection? Buttery green goodness that flows like cream across the tongue. It has a nice bite at the end of the sip and a lingering fresh green aftertaste.
Funny, when I drink jasmine pearls, I think this is the best tea ever. Then I have this one and think this is my absolute favorite. Let’s face it, if I had only these two teas (and an Earl Grey) in my tea drawer I could be very content for a very long time.
A little insight into how truly strange I am – this morning on my way to work my inner Sheldon came out and I started wondering, if Spock drank tea what would he drink? Sad I know. Then I thought, wouldn’t that make a great bit on Big Bang Theory? I can hear them point/counterpointing until agreement was reached. I’ve only seen a few episodes, they may have already had the debate.
My thoughts are he would not drink Earl Grey, or any flavored tea, with the possible exception of Jasmine Dragon Pearls. I would rule out black tea all together. I think he would go green or white. His logical side would be fascinated by complexity. My two choices would be Silver Needle white, or Dragon Well green. He is vegetarian, and while the white tea is subtle and meditative, I lean towards Dragon Well for its heartier layers of vegetal goodness. So in honor of Spock I lift up multiple cups today.
I mentioned this to a co-worker who just turned and walked away. Halfway up the hall he stopped, turned, and said, “I think his mother’s human side would come out and he would just drink Lipton black tea.” Say it isn’t so! Oh, wait do I detect sarcasm? I suspect he wasn’t taking this seriously. I do give him credit for trying to assimilate all aspects of the equation into his reasoning but that is specifically why I made room for the possible inclusion of Jasmine Dragon Pearls. Wasn’t that obvious?
To my fellow geeks that are still with me – this is true for northern hemisphere dwellers, not sure it all applies below the equator. This is for April 2012. Go outside tonight just after the sun goes down. The bright ‘star’ high in the western sky is Venus. Below it near the horizon and much dimmer but still bright is Jupiter. Easily seen even in twilight. As it gets darker turn East and high in the sky, the moderately bright red ‘star’ is Mars. Now turn southwest. The three stars in a row are Orion’s belt. The bright red star above it is Betelgeuse (beetle juice) and below the belt is Rigel. It’s actually a double star. Close to the belt and on the Rigel side is a fuzzy patch that you might interpret as a star. This is the Great Orion Nebula. Later this summer you can see the Andromeda galaxy with your naked eyes. It is bigger than the moon and you have never noticed it because it is fairly dim and doesn’t look like the pictures.
See, I am not just another pretty face. I know stuff.
Another one of ‘those’ teas that has changed my perceptions. I used to think I didn’t much care for straight green and that they were all alike – they all taste like grass. What a difference a year makes. This stuff is amazing. I think I originally thought this smelled like vegetables. Today it quickly turned to buttered popcorn without the guilt or the salt. I gave up trying to figure out how to measure the leaf. I just get a scoop and then grab a small handful more and toss in. Looks like a forest floating in my press. Maybe there are better versions out there, but honestly, I don’t care. This is awesome tea.
I had two or three on my list as possibles to brew this day. This one had the largest amount left in the sample bag. A couple things really struck me when I grabbed the bag. First, I was reminded of Charles’ review yesterday when he said something like – I know Dragon Well and this is good Dragon Well. Next, I saw ‘Premium’ on the label which is a word that is thrown around a lot and most of us are immune to realizing it has real meaning outside of marketing. Then I had a moment of clarity where I was humbled by the realization of how little I know about tea. Further, I was made even more grateful than before for the abundant and exquisite variety of samples I have received from Teavivre. I would never have tried any of these on my own. In fact I was perfectly content with my grocery store teas. I still have a few favorites I continue to drink but more and more, I find myself comparing everything to these samples. OK, this is just tea I am talking about, but in many ways it has paralleled a spiritual experience for me.
Off my ramble on to the tea:
The dry leaf smells of fresh cut grass. The brew has an almost meaty aroma. The sip is of buttered vegetables. There is the slightest pleasant taste of grass in the aftertaste. This cup is a beautiful thing.