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Recent Tasting Notes
Huang guan yin. (Yellow goddess) wuyi rock oolong tea. By Teavivre.
Ru Yao dragon teapot gongfucha.
Dry leaf: honey, roasted.
Wet leaf: strong honey, slight roasted, floral.
1x short rinse.
Light steep: I taste/smell: (smell) slight —> toasty, roasted, fruity (peaches?) earth? (Taste) light -→ earth, toasty, roasted, fruity (peaches).
Medium steep; I taste/smell: (smell) slight —→ roasted, fruity (peach). (Taste) slight roasted/toasted (?). medium floral.
Heavy steep; I taste/smell: (smell) medium —> roasted, toasty. (Taste) strong -→ roasted/toasty, floral.
All in all a lovely tea. But since it’s a weird tasting roasted/toasty, plus there’s some astringency, I rate an 80.
Flavors: Earth, Floral, Fruity, Honey, Peach, Roasted, Toasty
Many thanks to TeaVivre for another generous sampler! This herbal tea has a wonderfully relaxing lemongrass aroma. The flavour is a nice blend of lemongrass and mint. The licorice isn’t super noticeable, but that’s for the better as I find licorice and fennel can sometimes ruin a tea for me. I can see this being perfect paired with a Thai food meal or for a spa day. I suspect it would be quite a refreshing chilled tea.
Flavors: Lemongrass, Licorice, Mint
Thanks to Angela at TeaVivre for another sample from their line of teas. The leaves for this oolong are quite dark and brewed up the tea has reddish-amber colour. The aroma has a definite toasted smell to it and the flavour is a roasted earthiness. Not as vegetal or grassy as I’d expect from an oolong. I found the first steep a bit harsh and bitter, but additional steeps were more pleasant.
Flavors: Earth, Roasted
Another sample courtesy of TeaVivre ‘s generosity. I’ve never had a buckwheat or grain based tea before so this was an interesting one for me that I was quite curious about. It has a roasted grain flavour that reminds me of steel cut oatmeal. It strikes me as a comforting and cozy tea for winter time but just a tad too bland for my preference.
Flavors: Grain, Nutty, Oats, Roasted
This is another sample courtesy of TeaVivre. Great care is put into the packaging of this tea even as a sampler form. It’s vacuum sealed in plastic and then wrapped in a foil bag. So there’s a lovely freshness that comes with brewing it. The aroma is a pretty floral like a bouquet of fresh cut flowers. TeaVivre identifies the aroma as orchid and milky. The flavour also has a sweet grass undertone along with the flowery flourish. Very enjoyable! Got several steeps from it too, although I didn’t go all the way up to the 7 steeps TeaVivre notes. Of the oolong samples I received from TeaVivre, this was my favourite.
Flavors: Cut grass, Floral, Flowers, Freshly Cut Grass, Orchid, Orchids, Sweet, Sweet, warm grass
Teavivre generously shipped me this and other varieties in their line to sample. The little balls the leaves are hand rolled into are quite pretty. It has a lovely yellow-green colour brewed up and the leaves have a light toasted aroma to them. Overall, the aroma and flavour of the tea is more floral than toasted though. It has a nice elegance to it, a good merge of both floral and vegetal accents. My only point of critique is a minor aftertaste which seems just a little soapy or perfumey.
Flavors: Floral, Vegetal
Sample provided by Teavivre. Thank you, Angel!
Brewed 3.5g in a 60ml gaiwan. Gave the leaf a flash rinse. Followed the website’s steeping times: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 35, 45 (went beyond to do 1 minute, 2, 4, and 9).
It’s not at all surprising to smell campfire when I open the packet. It’s nicely smokey, very unoffensive. The smoke becomes muted when I let the leaf sit in the pre-heated gaiwan, bringing out a scent of BBQ’d pork ribs covered with sweet BBQ sauce. The wet leaf aroma smells like unburned pine wood and a touch of honey.
The liquor is the color of creamy orange. It’s not at all opaque, clear rather, but it is a soft-looking orange. Medium-bodied, considering the leaf and not the smoke. Has a smooth texture. The flavors don’t change throughout the session. They instead remain very much the same: pine smoke, dry wood, charcoal (burned wood bits), BBQ’d pork. The smokey aftertaste is mellow. As I said on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/p/BP5gFNZhnIL/), this smoky Lapsang Souchong feels cozy and figuratively tastes like winter air filled with smoke arising from suburban houses’ chimneys.
I’ve had more un-smoky Lapsang Souchong (or Zhen Shan Xiao Zhong) than smoky and prefer those, but I did like this one. I wouldn’t buy it. I never feel like I want a smoky Lapsang Souchong – I just don’t enjoy it enough. For those who do, give this a try. The leaf quality isn’t high since the leaf consists of a lot of broken pieces, but given that it’s a lower grade that is smoke, it isn’t an issue.
Happy Lunar New Year! I’m celebrating by drinking only Chinese teas today. This sample from Teavivre is first on deck.
The dry leaf is seaweed green, long and wiry. One thing I give Teavivre credit for is that the pictures on their website are consistently a fair and accurate representation of how the leaf actually looks. The dry leaf smells of fresh cut grass and honey.
Steep 1: 185f, 30 seconds. The wet leaf looks like steamed spinach and smells like… kale? asparagus? The brew is a green-tinted gold and smells like fresh peas. The mouthfeel is medium-thick and slightly dry. The flavor is light, sweet, and vegetal. It’s basically springtime in a cup, which seems apropos for the Spring Festival!
Steep 2: 185f, 40 seconds. This steep smells more cooked, like steamed spinach (although that might be the visual influence of how the leaves look). It’s still a green-tinted gold, darker this time. The flavor is vegetal with a bitter note. Kale maybe?
Steep 3: 190f, 40 seconds. Basically the same as steep 2.
Steep 4: 185f, 65 seconds. There’s a faint hint of roastiness in the flavor this time. Like roasted greens or maybe grilled asparagus.
Steep 5: 185f, 2 minutes. I think this is the end of what this leaf has to give. The bitter note is stronger, making the brew taste like kale. Incidentally, I don’t like kale. Teavivre says this leaf gong fus for three steeps. I maybe did not need to get more ambitious than that. :-)
Flavors: Asparagus, Kale, Peas
Trying a sample of this for a late morning tea today (thanks for the sample, Angel!), 7g to 100ml in ruyao gaiwan, preheated and one rinse with boiling water in a thermos.
This starts off predominantly roasty, with a smooth, faint floral bitterness and a lingering roasted char aftertaste. Astringency starts to ramp hard as it opens up, but the roast turns nutty and a bit of light caramel sweetness enters center stage as well. A lingering sweet throat coating builds up over the steeps as well, adding to the dry feeling of the astringency.
Despite being a yancha, I didn’t taste any rocks until about steep 6, where a very clean mineral (rather than standard wet rocks) flavor emerged from the roast alongside more caramel sweetness. The astringency does die down again around this point as well, but it’s pretty prominent throughout the session. The flavor profile is a bit strong on the roast, but it does have some nice flavors throughout, particularly at the beginning with that odd combination of lightly bitter florals that I found refreshing in mouthfeel and taste.Overall, I thought it wasn’t bad, but too astringent for my liking, something that was improved as my water cooled, so perhaps I will try this with cooler water next time, especially as the lid had an amazing floral sweet roast aroma that wasn’t reflected in the tea. The liquor in the cup also seemed to sweeten and mellow as it cooled, so something to consider. It lasts about 8 steeps before it begins to die, which is pretty good, and a good amount of get up and go for the morning.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Caramel, Char, Floral, Nuts, Roasted
This is a part of a tasting activity. Free sample received. Thank you, Angel.
Prepared 4g in a 60ml porcelain gaiwan, then transferred the leaf to 120ml of the same material. Followed the website’s steeping times: 20 seconds, 40, 60, 80, 100, 120. I went with a couple more extended steepings at 4 minutes, 8, and 10 (gotta get it all out).
Going against my expectation, the dry leaf didn’t have much scent, even after resting in the pre-heated gaiwan. The leaf weakly smelled floral and a little buttery and bread-like. The wet leaf aroma is much, much stronger – very floral, evocative of a summer field.
The liquor is pale yellow, full-bodied, clean, and creamy. Throughout the session, there were tiny bits of leaf at the bottom of my cup. The first couple cups are gently floral with a peach aftertaste. They feel easygoing. Beginning with the fourth cup, the flavor has fully developed. The aftertaste really fills the mouth, like a perfume trapped in a bottle. I simply can’t pinpoint specific flowers (I guess this means I have to give myself homework of smelling flowers….or I need to drink more Tie Guan Yin), so I go by feeling, and this very much feels like a bright mid-summer’s day spent in the midst of a wide field. I was relaxed and warmed on this overcast winter morning. Lastly, what is interesting is that, from the fifth cup to the end, the aftertaste changes from a refreshing peach to a cooling sensation.
I haven’t had a Tie Guan Yin in so many months. Lightly oxidized rolled Chinese oolongs don’t appeal to me. Not that I don’t like them – I do, but they’re not a niche I want to explore. That saying, I mostly enjoyed my session with this Tie Guan Yin (I’m little disappointed with the lack of aroma). Pleasant, sweet, floral, a little fruity, and – surprisingly – menthol-like. The floral aspect doesn’t taste powerful or perfumed. It’s just right.
Brewed 3.5g in a 60ml gaiwan. I followed Teavivre’s steeping instructions. Flash rinse. Steeping times: 10 seconds, 15, 25, 35, 45, 60, 90, 120, 300.
I purchased a sample because of the positive feedback. If it weren’t for that and the fact that it’s a Dian Hong, I wouldn’t be here, but curiosity got the best of me.
I recently learned that certain teas need to air after spending a lot of time in a vacuum-sealed packet, so that I let the dry leaf rest for a few minutes. This year’s batch might be a lot more fragrant than the previous years’ – the rose is quite heavy, even borderline powerful since I could only get a bit of a honey-like aroma from the dry leaf. That changes after I let the leaf sit in the pre-heated gaiwan: the rose is now in the background, with notes of cocoa and gingersnap cookies in the fore. This was especially nice to get a whiff of! After I wash the leaf, the rose and the classic Dian Hong aroma are balanced.
The liquor is bright orange, clear, full-bodied, and rounded. The texture is smooth and a little thick. The first cup tastes lightly of rose, and the Dian Hong begins to show itself in the second cup, in which I taste a variety of classic flavors (order is strongest to weakest): sweet potato, nutmeg, clove, and malt. Balances well with the rose. In the third cup, though, the rose is slightly stronger than the Dian Hong. Chocolate begins to appear in the fourth, and the aftertaste is also now more chocolatey than rose-like. Fifth cup to the end, the rose fades more and more, leaving the sweet potato and chocolate notes from the Dian Hong to become stronger. Now there is more of a balance.
In the end, this isn’t for me. I like flower teas, including rose, but I think if the Dian Hong weren’t fragranced so much, I might take more to this. I may like the rose being present to accompany the Dian Hong more, though it could be that the Dian Hong is fragranced so that the rose would last a lot longer. I enjoyed the last couple steepings since there was more a balance. The rose was too powerful most of the time.
Overall, so-so. But I think it’s worth trying. Shoot for it!
Prepared in a ceramic gaiwan and used my own parameters. Flash rinse. Steeping times: 10 seconds, 5, 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 30, 90, 180, 360.
You betcha I petted the leaves while I took in the aroma. They’re so small and curly! They smell lightly sweet and fruity, and tannic like a dry red wine way. After I let them sit in the pre-heated gaiwan, they started smelling like honey and blackberry. Once washed with water, the aroma completely changes and smells like a typical hongcha, of cocoa and a hint of malt.
The liquor is ruddy orange, clean, full-bodied, bold with flavor, and smooth in texture. The flavors undergo a couple changes throughout the session. The first three cups taste of dark fruits. There is a sweet aftertaste. Cups four through seven taste of molasses and honey. There is delicate smokey note as well, and just a hint fruit in the background. Cups eight through twelve taste less complex, mostly tasting like molasses. There is also no more smoke.
Another solid hongcha from Teavivre. It doesn’t offer what I exactly love, but I did have a nice session with it and enjoyed the complex aroma and taste. Very nice quality. You might get something different out of this Mao Feng-like Keemun, given the varying experiences other people have had. Recommended for those who like or want to explore hongcha.
Thank you to whoever sent me a sample of this! I don’t remember who sent it to me, but it was at least 6 months ago. I’ve had 8+ cups of this, yet somehow have not logged it.
I don’t like how bitter this can be if you oversteep it or use hot water. As far as jasmine flavour goes, it is a 100/100. Very flavourful and I absolutely adore jasmine teas. I’m really sensitive to bitterness, though, so I find that a bit off putting. However, when mixed with another tea, it is absolutely fantastic. I’ve tried it with 52Teas’ Cotton Candy (white) and David’s Tea’s Jasmine Dragon Pearls (black). Both have been fantastic. I still have a few cups of this left, and I’m going to try it with chamomile, iced with Murchie’s Purple Majesty, and with silver needle white.
TL;DR It goes really well in blends with other teas, gets bitter when steeped too hot or too long
Flavors: Floral, Jasmine, Perfume
Thank you to Teavivre for the free sample!
Loose leaf is beautiful to look at and smells of delicious toasty oolong tea. I love toasty oolongs, so I was very excited to try this. And, I find myself drawn to visually appealing teas |(even if the flavour is lacking).
Brewed western style with 475 mL hot water for 4 minutes. Liquid was light tan-yellow. Liquid smelled very strongly of seaweed, a bit fishy and salty.
Luckily the brew tasted nothing of fish, was not salty, but was VERY seaweedy. Very buttery, savoury/umami, quite sweet in a toasted oolong way. The sweetness + toasty flavours are actually very nice with how buttery this is. However, I’m put off by just how seaweedy the brew is, but I will try it gong fu method and use cooler water with multiple steeps.
Flavors: Butter, Marine, Seaweed, Sweet, Toasted Rice, Toasty, Umami
This was another free sample from Angel at Teavivre thank you!! As it’s a Saturday, I figure it’s early enough for me to have a black tea. This is my pick, I brewed it Western Style for 3 mins with 195 degree water.
The smell is honeyed and reminiscent of a golden tip tea, which is good. It smells pretty light, not overly rich which is good. Wanted something warming yet not too heavy as it’s the first tea of the day.
As for flavor; this is good! It’s different – the honey notes of other golden tip teas is there but it’s overall lighter in effect. There is a fruitiness, some type of dried fruit, with a light astringency enhancing that flavor. Just what I wanted this morning- a lighter textured Chinese black tea :)
Overall, I like this, it’s just different enough from my other black teas that it’s a refreshing change. It reminds me of warmer days, something like spring. It is also melding spectacularly with my breakfast of steel cut oats, which I sweetened with honey, it’s not overpowering but a good match. Thanks again for the sample Angel!
Thank you Teavivire for the free samples!
This is a very vegetal herbal (because of the lotus leaf) with flavours of lemon/citrus, licorice root, herbs, and roses/flowers mixed in. I’d describe it as a very interesting combination of young spinach, celery leaves, rose petals, dry and woody licorice root, and peppery/lemony chamomile flowers. The dried chamomile also gives it that dry meadow or straw flavour that I really enjoy. Lotus leaf tastes like vegetables (but not in a grassy way, more like a young plant bud or waxy succulent leaf) and I find it makes the blend a bit savoury. I’m not big into savoury and vegetable flavours, but I think I would have liked this tea more if it was lighter on the lotus leaf and heavier on the chamomile and orange peel. Speaking of which, I can’t taste the orange peel. It might be my sample package, though, because I don’t see any pieces of orange peel and it might just be that I happened not to get any large pieces.
Flavors: Bamboo, Celery, Citrus, Dry Grass, Floral, Flowers, Green Bell Peppers, Herbaceous, Lemon, Licorice, Rose, Spinach, Taro Root, Vegetable Broth, Vegetables, Vegetal, Wood