253 Tasting Notes
It’s 10 degrees in my neck of the woods this morning. That’s a little chilly for South Carolina. Ten degrees is probably a little chilly for polar bears. All is not lost, though, as I am about to try out a new tea (new for me) from Teavivre on this arctic morning!
When I opened the customary Teavivre silver double packaging, my nostrils were immediately greeted by the rich, leathery, sweet, and earthy aroma that is a trademark of my favorite Teavivre black teas. This made me even more anxious to begin the brewing process.
I steeped the long black and brown full tea leaves for three minutes at 195 degrees. The finished color was a dark reddish amber. The aroma was sweet with a slight honey quality.
The taste of this tea was instantly complex. After about my third sip, my taste buds began to disseminate the different flavor sensations. Sweet, fruity, and malty were all recognized. There also was just the right twinge of earthiness to cap off a fine flavor symphony. As with several of Teavivre’s teas, this one was so smooth that I had to force myself to savor each sip and not gulp it down.
There was no astringency to this blend. The aftertaste was light and gentle. It dissipated as if in a delicate mist.
You probably have surmised by now that I like this tea. Wrong! I LOVE this tea! It’s another terrific selection from the folks at Teavivre. This one is a bit more expensive than some of their other black teas but I am already saving my pennies for my next order!
Flavors: Earth, Fruity, Malt, Sweet
My wife and I were browsing through the local Home Goods store recently when we spotted a huge 35.27-ounce cardboard “barrel” of Touch Organic loose leaf black organic tea for under $20. I was not familiar with Touch Organic’s products but the frugal part of my brain began to kick in and send me alerts. I thought, if this tea is even half-decent, I’ll have some emergency utility black tea to reach for whenever I run out of the “good stuff.” If the tea is terrible, I haven’t lost a lot of money and I can use it to fertilize my garden.
After purchase, I waited a week to try this tea. That is very unusual for me. Normally I can’t wait to try newly acquired items and do so no later than the next day. You can see that my expectations were not very high.
I finally opened the huge cardboard container, slit open the plastic inner bag, and pushed my nose inside to investigate the unbrewed aroma of the dark black tea leaves. The substantial smell was similar to that of the Keemun teas from the Yunnan province of China which I LOVE. The tell-tale leather quality was definitely there. After closer inspection of the very plain barrel label, I noticed that it also identified this product as Keemun English Breakfast tea, in small hard-to-read letters.
I steeped the dark leaves for five minutes at 212 degrees. The brewed color was a reddish amber. The odor was semi-powerful and slightly floral.
At first sip, I still was only hoping for a taste that I could live with when I had no better tea at my disposal. But…WOW…the flavor of this tea was (as Tony The Tiger used to say)…GREAT!!! I was blown away by the melodious effect of Yunnan taste partnered with subtle fruity and floral attributes. The balance of all flavors was exquisite. The sum of the parts was an extremely smooth, tasty, and satisfying tea. The aftertaste was light and airy. I encountered no astringency at any time.
I learned two valuable lessons with this tea:
1. You do not have to spend a fortune to enjoy a superior blend.
2. Good teas do come in plain wrappers.
This selection was immediately promoted from my emergency-when-nothing-good-is-available standby product to one of my favorite teas in my arsenal!
If you are lucky enough to stumble upon this tea at a Home Goods store or elsewhere, GRAB IT!!! You will be glad you did!
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Leather, Tea
A few days ago, I celebrated making it to another birthday! My wonderful and very thoughtful wife gave me a Breville OneTouch Tea Maker for my birthday three years ago. That amazing machine has really contributed to the joy and fun of my tea tasting experiences. If you are looking for an extremely convenient method to make a consistently fantastic cup of tea every time, I highly recommend the OneTouch Tea Maker. But I digress…Where was I?…Oh yeah…Now I remember. (Please bear with me. You will recall that I am another year older.) For this year’s birthday, my beautiful wife also remembered my tea “habit” by giving me a trademark black container of Harney & Sons Paris tea.
When I lifted the lid of the metal container, there was a strong fruity aroma underneath. I’ve tried a few other French teas by Mariage and those teas seemed to have the identical unbrewed odor.
I steeped the short black leaves for five minutes at 212 degrees as directed on the container. The finished color was a very dark gold, almost brown. The aroma was more vanilla than fruity.
My first taste produced a medium-strength black tea flavor. After that, vanilla followed by fruit seeped into my taste buds for the remainder of my cup.
It’s interesting that the flavor of this tea is also very similar to the Mariage teas. That’s not a bad thing because I do enjoy those teas. Maybe the signature flavor is mandatory to call the blend “French.” I would say the one characteristic that sets this one apart is the dominance of the vanilla flavor over the fruit.
This is a nice smooth tea with no bitterness and a lighter than expected after taste. The flavor theme is a composite of fruity vanilla. The tase is neither overpowering nor overly sweet (if there is such a thing!). This selection was another one of those teas where the more I drank it, the more I liked it!
Flavors: Fruity, Tea, Vanilla
Thank you one more time, Angel and Teavivre, for the sample!
This is my second consecutive day of trying out a white tea. I was quite pleased with the one I sampled yesterday so I was hoping for a similar experience today.
When I opened the sample package, the leaves were long, wide, green, and fresh looking. The aroma was rich and grainy and perhaps a little sweet.
I steeped the leaves for five minutes at 195 degrees (no 194-degree setting on my tea maker). Even with maximum steeping time, the color was a very light (almost transparent) yellow. The faint brewed odor was slightly sweet with a hay-like quality.
The taste was not robust but it was ample and sweet. As I swished the liquor around my mouth, flashes of fresh hay, grass, and honey registered on my palate.
The more I sipped this tea, the more I liked it. The brew was quite smooth without any hint of astringency. The mild flavor seemed to increase its presence as I journeyed toward the bottom of my cup. By the time I finished my first cup, I had achieved enjoyment status. The aftertaste was delicate but also smooth and likable.
As a white tea, this one is quite good. I didn’t find any undesirable characteristics. My only recommendation would be to bring out this fine selection with lunch, dinner, or dessert. There was nothing wrong with it at 8:00 AM, but I personally depend on the stronger and more robust teas at that time of the morning to jerk me out of my sleepy stupor.
Flavors: Cut Grass, Hay, Honey
I must also thank Angel and Teavivre for this sample!
It’s been a while since I’ve tried a white tea. I’m usually focused on the bold black and Pu-erh teas which help me return to the land of the living each morning.
When I opened the sample package, the flat and clumped “cake” pieces were dark brown and reminded me of raked fall leaves that meld together in the pile after a few days of rain. The emitted odor was earthy like a Keemun black tea.I set the tea maker on 212 degrees for nine minutes. (The recommended maximum steeping time was 10 minutes.) The brewed color of the liquor was a bright amber. The aroma was interesting and sweet. It wasn’t at all unpleasant but I struggled to identify it. I finally settled on describing it as a mixture of honey and hay.
The taste contained a sweet and medium-powered bounty of honey, hay, and green wood. This fusion was further complemented by grass with light and fresh tea components. The sum of the parts was a delightfully smooth and satisfying cup from start to finish. The aftertaste danced and rolled on my palate with no astringency in its vocabulary.
Teavivre has produced a splendid new white tea with this offering. All of the flavors blend perfectly at the right volume and seem made for each other. I could easily enjoy this selection at morning, noon, or night. Once again Teavivre has made me emerge from my black tea cocoon and be glad that I did!
Flavors: Grass, Hay, Honey, Wood
I really liked Rishi’s regular Earl Grey because it had a very robust taste and the flavor was just loaded with bergamot. Therefore, I was quite excited to try the Supreme edition of their Earl Grey after I read that it contained “a smooth liquoring Keemun and a bold flavored Yunnan with 100% natural essential oil pressed from real bergamot citrus fruits.” I’m a very enthusiastic fan of both Keemun and Yunnan. (Getting a nice discount on this tea helped too.)
When I opened the package, a strong bergamot aroma with a fresh quality filled the room. I steeped the black leaves at 212 degrees for 5 minutes. The brewed color was a dark amber/gold. The finished odor also was fortified with bergamot.
The taste of this tea was similar to the regular Rishi Earl Grey that I drank and enjoyed semi-regularly for a year. But, that was my gripe with this blend. At a price of roughly $1 more per ounce than Rishi’s standard Earl Grey, I wanted…no…EXPECTED…something in the quality to elevate it from the basic (cheaper) product that I will be going back to the next time I order Rishi Earl Grey. Nowhere could my searching palate locate the Yunnan or Keemun infusion. I could taste black tea but that part of the flavor was unexceptional. Ironically, there also was a twinge of astringency that I didn’t encounter with the lower grade blend. This attribute remained with the strong aftertaste.
Do I like this tea? Yeah, but (surprisingly and perhaps fortunately) not as much as the lower-priced edition. Rishi’s bergamot in both offerings tastes fresher than several other Earl Grey selections that I have experienced. Rishi also seems to supercharge the bergamot presence in their teas.
This is the first time that I have ever subtracted rating points from a tea due to price. However, I feel that it is my duty to do so for two reasons:
o significantly higher price of this version (when compared to the very good basic offering)
o absence of enhancement over the basic Earl Grey (to justify the cost)
I will recover from this disappointment. I don’t mind being humble. I will continue to enjoy Rishi’s no frills Earl Grey.
Flavors: Astringent, Bergamot, Tea
Thanks once again to Angel and Teavivre for this new tea sample!
I sampled another Teavivre raw Pu-erh tea cake last week. It was last year’s (2013) model but quite tasty. I was anxious to see how the 2014 version stacked up against it.
When I opened the package, the same grassy, compost-like aroma encountered with the 2013 rendition was experienced. However, I do believe the color of the unbrewed matted “cake” was a little greener in the new entry than the one harvested last year.
I steeped the leaves for 9 minutes at 212 degrees, again opting for almost maximum strength. The brewed color was a light gold. The odor had a mowed grass trait.
The taste of this tea was much like the 2013 entry. It was quite grassy with very similar flavor attributes as green tea. The main difference that I noticed with this younger offering was a tanginess to the taste. I wouldn’t call it astringency or bitterness. It was probably due to the more recent harvest and processing. The tanginess did eliminate the light and airy quality that I enjoyed in the raw 2013 tea.The tangy attribute also hung around for the after taste.
This is a cordial tea with pronounced flavor. Like the other raw Pu-erh that I sampled last week, this entry tasted much more like a green tea than a black selection. Having said that, though, this one (like the 2013 version) might be a nice tangy alternative for folks who are nauseated by the more robust and ripened Pu-erh teas.
Yet another large thanks to Angel and Teavivre for this sample!
Since it is Friday morning and the weekend is ahead as I prepare to try out this new tea, I am already in the mood for something WILD! Ancient WILD Tree black tea will do just fine!
The aroma that oozed from the package when I opened it was malty and bread-like. I steeped the long black leaves for five minutes at 195 degrees. The finished product had a yellow/orange hue. The odor was similar to sweet baked bread.
Even at first sip, this tea had an exquisitely sweet, malty, and velvety taste. There was also a hint of baked bread in the mix. For good measure, a rich Yunnan tea flavor blended masterfully with the other attributes. There was no bitterness. The after taste was peaceful, subtle, and equally delicious. The rest of my cup (which disappeared quickly) had amazingly consistent flavors throughout. I didn’t just drink this tea. I savored it.
This is one of those rare teas that I have to restrain myself from chugging instead of sipping. It is an outstanding new selection from Teavivre. Everything that I want from a black tea is contained within: a robust and wonderful blend of flavors, smoothness, and the extra punch that only black tea can give me.
Congratulations, Teavivre! You have another (WILD) winner!
Flavors: Malt, Sweet
Again my thanks to Angel and Teavivre for this sample!
Unlike some (or many), I happen to enjoy the Pu-erh teas a lot, particularly in the morning. The strong leathery/earthy smell and taste seem to help my brain kick into gear as I start my day. Maybe this species acts as a form of smelling salts for me. Whatever it is, I like it!
When I opened the sample package, the ol’ trusty leathery smell jumped from within. I steeped the “cake” (which resembled matted brown grass and sticks) for nine minutes. The recommended maximum steep time was 10 minutes so I decided to push the envelope today.
With nine minutes of steeping under its belt, the brewed liquor was a very dark brown that almost approached the black end of the color spectrum. The brewed aroma had Pu-erh written all over it: leathery, earthy, robust.
The taste of this tea, even after almost maximum steeping time, was amazingly smooth and delicious. The expected leather and earth flavors were strong and enunciated. But, there was also a slightly sweet characteristic in the taste. My taste buds detected no astringency whatsoever. The aftertaste was surprisingly smooth and did not linger more than a few moments.
This is a greatly satisfying new tea offering from Teavivre. 2008 must have been a superb year for Pu-erh. Folks seem to either love or hate this tea type. If you already love Pu-erh, you will love LOVE this Pu-erh!
Flavors: Earth, Leather
Another hearty thanks to Angel and Teavivre for this sample!
When it comes to Pu-erh tea, people in my realm seem to be divided into two main camps: those who love it and those who (to put it kindly) detest it. Personally, I am a proud card carrying member of the first group so I was anxious to try this new offering from Teavivre. My wife, however, is almost sickened by anything Pu-erh. She hates the smell and taste of it and doesn’t even like to be in the same room when I am brewing or drinking it.
I will start this review by warning you that if you are already predisposed to disliking Pu-erh tea, the initial opening of the package of this one will probably not miraculously endear you to it. The consistency of the dark brown Pu-erh “cake” reminded me of the two-day-old cut grass that becomes dried and jammed in the chute of my lawn mower. The unbrewed aroma is also a little reminiscent of compost. However, do not give up on it at this point! You’ve come this far. Be brave! Steep it!
I brewed the cake and remaining loose leaves for two minutes at 212 degrees. The color was like no Pu-erh that I had ever experienced. Instead of the dark muddy brown that I was used to with the Pu-erhs of my past, this one had a very light gold color. It was almost as light as green tea. The aroma had a grassy attribute that was, again, like green tea. Nowhere to be found was the strong earthy odor that seems to accompany many Pu-erh selections.
The taste of this tea was completely devoid of the expected leathery and earthy flavors that I usually find in the Pu-erh teas that I have tried. The taste of this one was light, smooth, and grassy. The flavor again reminded me more of green tea than either black or Pu-erh. At that point, I decided to stop comparing it to my Pu-erh acquaintances of days gone by and began enjoying it on its own merit.
This tea is quite tasty. The flavor is without astringency and is light and airy. I would liken the taste to a meadow of freshly mowed grass. The aftertaste is very mild and quickly diminishes.
I like this new product from Teavivre. It may be a good alternative to reintroduce the Pu-erh haters to this variety before they attempt to jump back on the traditional robust Pu-erh wagon.
I wonder if the untraditional characteristics of this tea are related to it being advertised as “raw” Pu-erh. It just goes to show you that, as in most areas of life, when you think you’ve seen (or tasted) it all, you haven’t.