Experience buying from Teavana Online http://steepster.com/places/2822-teavana-online-atlanta-georgia I need to update that review to include my new purchase experience, which was generally positive.

Age of leaf: No information available on website.

Appearance and aroma of dry leaf: a mixture of both very light-green and dark-green smallish leaves; very aromatic: vegetal with a strong smoky overtone, and a hint of licorice.

Brewing guidelines: Glass Bodum pot with metal infuser/plunger. Stevia added. For reasons I mention below I went with higher-than-normal temperatures.
……….1st: 180; 1’
……….2nd: 185; 1.5’
……….3rd: 190; 2’
……….4th: 195; 2.5’

Color and aroma of tea liquor: pale yellow and somewhat cloudy: not very inviting looking for a green tea; mild aroma.

Flavor of tea liquor: about the same as the leaves smell, but not as strong: vegetal, with smoky and licorice notes. I noticed that I had a slight dry-mouth feeling after drinking the second steeping, which I think is attributable to some astringency in the tea; not overwhelming, just worth noting as I don’t get this with the greens I normally drink.

Appearance and aroma of wet leaf: Standard chopped leaf: medium to small pale green looking pieces of leaves and buds, with a fair amount of stems; not very fresh looking; mild aroma similar to dried leaves.

Blends well with: I imagine this would blend well with any other smoky green—like a Huang Shan Mao Feng.

Value: Expensive at full price ($4.90/oz), but worth buying at Teavana’s 75% off sale. Interestingly enough, even at the sale price it is still about three times what the SpecialTeas version was going for (on sale) last year.

Overall: Based on the name, the appearance, the aroma, and the taste of this tea (and the fact that Teavana bought out SpecialTeas about a year ago), I strongly suspect that this tea is basically the same tea as SpecialTeas China Green Yunnan Silver Tips (which I still have from about a year ago). SpecialTeas Yunnan Silver Tips seemed to give it’s best flavor at higher temperatures (that’s why I decided to go with the higher temperatures on this tea). The Teavana version is probably from a newer harvest (I hope so, at least) than the SpecialTeas version, and it does seem to fair better on the third steeping than the SpecialTeas version, and this version was surprisingly smooth tasting and still had decent flavor on the third (if I can reproduce that the next time I steep this tea remains to be seen, though); this impressed me, as the third steeping of many green teas usually don’t have that much flavor to speak of, and this third steeping wasn’t astringent tasting either (although I had that somewhat odd dry-mouth sensation). So, what stands out most about this tea? the licorice flavor (and that it had good flavor on the third steeping). All of that said, I am still amazed that this tea is three times the price of the SpecialTeas version (at 75% off it cost me $9.99 for two pounds of it). This only reminds me of the unfortunate event of SpecialTeas going out of business. Oh well. At least SpecialTeas very existence was (and still is) a testament that tea retailers can produce teas that are as good as Teavana for a much better price. Hail to SpecialTeas!

180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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(Updated 6-3-2014)

After about three years I changed my avatar from the picture of a green teacup with steam rising (one I created using Paint) to this dragon gaiwan. This is one of my favorite gaiwans, although I haven’t brewed any tea in it as of yet.

You can call me, Joe.

What, How and Why I steep:

I typically expect, and shoot for, at least three flavorful steepings out of (just about) any tea I brew up.

I generally start at the times and temps below ( = minute(s), " = second(s) ), then add 5F and 30" for each successive steeping:
Chinese Green - 175F, 1’ ;
Japanese Green - 160F, 1’add 15F, then decrease by 15";
White - 160F, 2’;
Oolong - This varies;
Indian Black/Chinese Red and Herbals - a little off the boil, 2’; why do I start with such low temps & short steep times? So as to ‘spread out’ the flavor over multiple steepings. I have found this to work with every tea I have tried so far. Also, I am not looking for intense flavor in that first cup (i.e. Western style), I would prefer to taste it—and savor—it over many steepings.
Pu-erh - Beginning in 2014, I finally chose to dive into pu-erh! Standard parameters when I brew ripened pu-erh in my 150 ml gaiwan (I also own an 11 oz Yixing):
First I do a 15" rinse with near boiling water. Then for each successive steeping I add Stevia.
……….1st: Near boiling, 0.5’
……….2nd: Boiling , 1’
……….3rd: Boiling , 1.5’
etc. Until there is no flavor, or I ran out of time and energy.

I hope to ‘streamline’ my reviews going forward, so, hopefully, they are a little less technical and dry (and perhaps even stilted), and a little more organic and experiential (and hopefully, flowing); this somewhat new approach to reviews is a kind of metaphor for where my life is headed right now, and is one reason why I write reviews: as a kind of time-capsule of where I was in my life at that time.

Tea Rating scale:

1 – 29: There is no reason to even think about drinking this stuff again.
30-49: I may drink it if someone else brewed it up, but I would not bother brewing it up myself let alone bother buying any.
50 – 59: I like something about it, and I may brew it up if I already have some, but I would not buy any more of it.
60 – 69: I like a few things about it, and I may buy it if the price is right.
70 – 79: This is a tea I enjoy and would drink fairly regularly as long as it is reasonably priced.
80 – 89: A tea I will drink as often as I can, and will likely try to buy some when I run out (as long as it’s affordable).
90 – 99: This has everything I look for in the best of teas: beauty in appearance, a delightful aroma, and most importantly, depth and yummy-ness in its flavor.
100: Perfect.

My primary interest is in artisan loose-leaf Chinese green, red and ripe pu-erh tea, although I enjoy a white and an oolong tea every now and then as well. Here and there I brew a few of the other true teas and an occasional herbal.

Since I choose to live on a very limited income (‘Voluntary Simplicity’), I have to be very conscience about how much I pay for tea. In reading their Tea Enthusiast’s books, Mary Lou and Robert J. Heiss sold me on the wonders of artisan teas. Thankfully I have found that there is affordable, artisan tea out there; it’s just like anything else that has true value: it takes hard work, dedication and at least a little persistence to find it.

I came to tea out of a desire to find something to help calm and focus my mind as naturally as possible. My mind is very active, so to speak, and at times I find it very difficult to focus and keep myself centered. For years now I have been practicing Yoga daily along with others things to help me to stay relaxed and present, but I found I wanted a little something extra to help me start the day; the theanine in green tea seems to help me in this.

I have been enjoying loose-leaf tea since November of 2010.

I enjoy connecting with others about tea.

I drink Stevia with just about all of my tea (no sugar or artificial sweeteners).

I drink a pot of green tea every day in the AM (usually steeped three times over the course of the day), sharing it with my wife.

Each tea in my cupboard is carefully and colorfully labeled in a tin or in a jar that used to hold something else (I love to reuse things!) .

I have three teapots: a glass Bodum – I don’t use the metal infuser/press anymore (greens), a 16 oz glass Victorian (to brew greens and whites, and to use as a pot to decant other teas into), and an 11 oz Yixing (ripe Pu-erh only). (New in 2014) I also one a number of gaiwans ranging in volume from from 125 ml to 250ml.

I tend to be direct, straightforward and honest when I post anything to the discussion boards. I take the approach that everything I say is stated with the implied disclaimer: In My Humble Opinion (i.e. IMHO). I may occasionally emphasize this point, where appropriate. I view your comments in the same way. You are in no way obligated to read what I have posted. And I am in no way similarly obligated to you.

Sitting with my cup of tea I greet the day in anticipation of new discoveries along the way.


Midwest, USA

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