246 Tasting Notes

98

I thought I had already reviewed all of Teavivre’s Keemun black tea offerings but somehow I missed this one. I’ve purchased their Grade 1 and Grade 2 Keemun teas in the past and enjoyed them both. I was surprised and happy to find this free sample packet from Teavivre when I opened my tea cabinet this morning.

When I opened the small silver foil container, an earthy and fruity aroma emanated from it. I followed the brewing instructions on the packet and steeped the short black leaves for five minutes at 185 degrees.

The finished brew had a dark gold color similar to motor oil. The odor was faintly sweet and fruity.

The taste of the tea was sweet with honey overtones. There also existed slightly floral and undefined fruity flavor characteristics. All of this merged perfectly together to form a sweet and mildly fruity taste experience with no astringency. The aftertaste continued this theme with gentle sweet and fruity attributes briefly floating on my palate.

The disposition of this tea is incredibly smooth. It is one of those fairly rare teas that I have to restrain myself from gulping down quickly. This is truly a tea that should be savored and enjoyed.

I don’t believe I have ever been disappointed with a Teavivre black tea. But, if I were forced to rank them in order of taste and smoothness, this one would be listed in at least my top three.

Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Honey

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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93

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. I retired three days ago after working for over 50 years. I am optimisitic and hopeful about the rest of my life. I can’t think of a better way to contemplate the future than while sipping a new black tea sample, compliments of Teavivre.

When I opened the two-cup silver sample package and sniffed the rich earthy aroma of the unbrewed golden-tipped leaves, I knew I was in for a treat.

I followed the instructions on the package and brewed the leaves for five minutes at 185 degrees. The resulting liquor was a bright amber color. The odor was sweet with honey-like undertones.

The flavor of this tea was quietly sweet, with well-blended fruity, bread, and sweet potato attributues. The entire experience was remarkably smooth as silk with no astringency in its orbit. This was one of those teas that was so velvety serene that I had to restrain myself from gulping it down. There was zero astringency and the aftertaste was mild and welcoming.

This is an exceptional black tea that would be a pleasing addition to breakfast or afternoon desserts. It is very easy to see why it is an “award winning” selection.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Fruity, Honey, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
ashmanra

Congratulations on retirement! I hope you have an absolute blast! You deserve it after fifty years in the work force for sure.

This is one of my favorite teas from Teavivre. I try to keep it always on shelf. It is a great intro to good tea for guests who are used to cheap bagged tea,

Stoo

Thanks, Ashmanra! It’s been great so far! Just having three days without an alarm clock ringing in my ears has been wonderful! This is a great tea from Teavivre. It’s a little pricey but probably worth it. Thanks for your comments!

mrmopar

Congrats! I hope to do that in a few years as well.

Stoo

Thanks, mrmopar! I hope you do it too!

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89

Thank you, Teavivre, for the sample of this tea! I’m finally ready to try it! Black teas are my favorite, particularly in the morning when I need to shake the cobwebs off of my brain.

I opened the silver rectangular sample package and was greeted with brown and golden brown leaves. The aroma was malty and like bread.

I steeped the leaves for three minutes at approximately 185 degrees as recommended on the package. The brewed color was a bright amber. The aroma was faintly sweet and malty.

The taste of this tea was mild and smooth. There also was a sweetness to malty and bread flavor attributes. The aftertaste was gentle and lingered for a few minutes.

Although I prefer to be jolted with bolder flavors in the morning to defibrillate my brain, I found this selection tasty enough to help me face the workday ahead. I liked it!

Flavors: Baked Bread, Malt, Sweet

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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95

Because of my restricted tea budget these days, I’m always on the prowl for sales. This month (August 2019) happens to be Teavivre’s 8th anniversary. Coincidentally, it is also my 8th anniversary for entering the scrumptious universe of loose leaf tea. When I saw ads for Teavivre’s anniversary sale, I considered it my destiny to make a purchase at this time.

I had never tried Golden Snail tea before. When I opened up the silver package, the leaves were dark brown and firmly curled with a multitude of golden points. The aroma was moderately rich and earthy.

I steeped the leaves according to Teavivre’s recommendations, eight minutes at 195 degrees. Actually, Teavivre recommends 194 degrees, but who’s counting? The brewed liquor had a deep amber color. The aroma had characteristics of a honey-like sweetness.

The taste of this tea was silky smooth with absolute zero astringency. It was full-flavored, yet mellow. An underlying sweet honey attribute was easily recognized but not disagreeable in any way. There also was an identifiable and quite pleasant Yunnan taste, which is one of my personal favorite tea flavors. The aftertaste was delicate and affable. It sweetly and quickly rolled off my palate.

This is a delicous and sweetly mild Yunnan black tea that I enjoyed at breakfast but could also be well-placed at brunch, lunch, and early supper. I would love to experience it with several Scottish tea biscuits (that I’m not supposed to have).

Flavors: Honey, Tea

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 8 min or more 8 tsp 40 OZ / 1182 ML

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90

While we were out and about this weekend, we noticed that a new Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea Cafe was about to launch in our booming neck of the South Carolina Upstate. We saw through the big glass storefront window that there was life inside. Boldly opening the unlocked door, we walked in. We were immediately greeted inside the new bright, shiny, and spacious store by Ryan, the very cordial owner of the cafe. We knew immediately that this was a place where we wanted to spend some time drinking…or sipping.

Since they weren’t completely open yet and mainly breaking in new employees at the drive-in window that day, we were invited to attend their friends and family opening on the next day. It was great! Besides teas and coffees, we also sampled some delicious pastries and brownies.

I wasn’t familiar with Sweetwaters products so I opted for the Imperial Black, which was labeled their “house” tea. This was a loose leaf selection, freshly scooped inside a wide silky-textured bag for steeping, while partially hanging over the side of the paper cup.

The tea arrived very hot with a brewed aroma similar to Assam. The flavor was initially slightly astringent, again more characteristic of Assam versus the advertised Chinese tea. However, what separated this selection from Assam, was the smooth sweet flavor attribute that grew with each sip. This was a very pleasant taste with sweetness that was not cloying but steady and gentle. At the end of my large cup, I was left with a sweet, mild, and brief aftertaste that was amiable and unassuming.

I will definitely return to the Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea Cafe soon to try more Sweetwaters teas. For now, I recommend giving their Imperial Black tea a spin. I believe any tea establishment would be proud to label it their “house” tea.

Flavors: Sweet, Tea

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80

Many thanks to Teavivre for this sample. It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to try a new Teavivre tea.

When I opened the small sample package, I was greeted with small, tightly curled, dark brown leaves. The aroma was faint but slightly sweet.

I steeped the leaves at approximately 203 degrees for eight minutes as instructed by the package. The brewed liquor was a vivid reddish-gold. The aroma was slightly sweet and malty, but again faint.

The flavor of this tea was like malty hay with a perceptible “edge” to it. The edge was not quite astringent but it did bite into a sweet characteristic of the taste that subsisted underneath.

All in all, the flavor was amiable. The aftertaste was not obnoxious and lingered only briefly.

Personally, I prefer more robust flavors in black tea. However, this selection should be fine for those who do not need to pump up the volume.

Flavors: Hay, Malt, Sweet

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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88
drank Hao Ya 'B' by Harney & Sons
246 tasting notes

Besides celebrating Independence Day this week, I am also celebrating the receipt of a tea that I’ve been wanting to try for a long time. My Harney & Sons points accumulated from previous purchases made it possible for me to reel this one in within my budget. I’m excited to give this tea a whirl. So, without further adieu, away we go….

When I opened the black Harney & Sons bag, a sweet and malty aroma greeted me. The dark brown leaves were medium length.

I steeped the leaves for five minutes at 212 degrees. The color of the brewed liquor was dark amber. The aroma was surprisingly weaker than in its unsteeped state but there was still a detectable sweet potato odor that was not unpleasant.

The flavor was mild. I again recognized sweet potato that was now accompanied by malty attributes. The taste had a slight twinge of astringency with the initial few sips but this characteristic quickly disappeared. The trademark keemun smoothness was very much in the moment. The aftertaste was light and gentle.

Although this isn’t the most flavor-fortified tea I’ve experienced, it is still a smooth and solid keemun with all the flavor notes that I expected. Another “thumbs up” for Harney & Sons.

Flavors: Sweet, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 5 tsp 40 OZ / 1182 ML

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90
drank Songluo Broken by Harney & Sons
246 tasting notes

My tea budget was depleted recently so I’ve been happily focused on my stock of morning rotation black teas in my cabinet. But, as great as they are, it wasn’t long before I started getting the itch to venture out into something new. Again Harney & Sons came to the rescue with a great sale on already very reasonably priced teas.

I found this Songluo Broken tea in their Chinese Teas section. Apparently, this variety with broken leaves comes at a much lower price than the one with non-broken leaves. Since I care more about flavor than appearance, this was fine with me.

When I opened the Harney & Sons bag, an aroma of keemun wafted forth. There also was a sweet attribute to the smell which was quite pronounced. The dark brown leaves were small and appeared…uh…BROKEN. They reminded me of finely ground mulch.

As the folks at Harney & Sons recommend, I brewed the leaves at 212 degrees for five minutes. The color was an orange-brown. The brewed odor was subtle with sweet keemun-like undertones.

My first sip had an astringent attribute but this completely disintegrated with the next sip. The flavor was mild with keemun and sweet characteristics. Harney’s web page likens the sweet attribute to agave. To me, it was more like Sweet’N Low, which I have become very familiar with since I am no longer allowed to drink the South’s traditional sweet tea. I really don’t have any complaints about that flavor (or agave’s for that matter).

The pleasant and moderate flavors were also quite smooth. I had no trouble swallowing my first cup rapidly. The taste levels were certainly sufficient to please my palate. The aftertaste was light and gentle.

This tea is a tremendous bargain with first-rate flavors. I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys Chinese teas but has a limited tea allowance (like yours truly). I also believe that people with hefty tea budgets will not be disappointed either.

Flavors: Sweet, Tea

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 5 tsp 40 OZ / 1182 ML

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50
drank Special Blend by Ahmad Tea
246 tasting notes

It’s always a wonderful day in the neighborhood when I have a new tea to take for a spin. We have a few European market stores in the area that offer Ahmad teas. The prices for these teas are usually very affordable. This one is currently listed on Amazon at under $12 for a nice one-pound tin container.

The marketing for this tea says it contains the finest high-grown (black) teas from the hillsides of Sri Lanka, subtly blended, with the elegant fragrance of bergamot.

The dark short tea leaves are well-protected within the square tin box in a gold foil bag. When I opened the bag, the aroma was rich and full of bergamot and other fruity attributes.

I steeped the leaves for five minutes at 212 degrees. The brewed color was a dark reddish amber. The odor was very quiet, almost non-existent. What I could smell seemed to only have a nondescript sweet characteristic.

The taste of this tea did not match the complexity of its unbrewed aroma. In fact, the flavor was surprisingly bland. About all I could syphon from the taste was an unidentifiable tea attribute. Pulling that from the brew was made even more difficult by a sharp astringency that defined the flavor. The aftertaste was also dominated by astringency.

I was disappointed by this blend. I had high hopes that it would be a cornucopia of great flavors. I’m not ready to write off Ahmad altogether but this will most likely be my one and only experience with the Special Blend product.

Flavors: Tea

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 5 tsp 40 OZ / 1182 ML
Bluegreen

Long time no see! You have been missed.

Stoo

Thanks, Bluegreen! I’ve missed having new teas to try. My birthday is coming up in a few months. Hopefully I’ll get some new ones then! I hope all is well with you!

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99
drank Lapsang Souchong by Harney & Sons
246 tasting notes

I haven’t posted a tasting note in a while. The reason is my teas were piling up again and I needed to consume some of the ones I had to make room for new containers in my cabinet.

I found this Harney & Sons Lapsang Souchong at the local Fresh Market for an exceptionally good price. I’ve seen some comments on Steepster that this product may have been discontinued. That could explain why its price was too economical to resist.

All of the Harney & Sons teas that I’ve experienced and bought by the pound have been great values for the price. I was highly hopeful that this one would continue that pattern.

When I broke the sealing tape and opened the black metal tin for the first time, my nostrils were filled with a strong but pleasant smokehouse aroma. It smelled very natural and without the presence of “helpers.”

I steeped the medium-length dark brown leaves for five minutes at 212 degrees. The finished color was orange-gold. The odor was deliciously smoky without making me want to open windows for fresh air.

The taste of this tea was absolutely exquisite. The smoky attribute was definitely the dominant player but there was also a striking, yet delicate, sweetness to the brew. These two flavor forces were extremely smooth and savory. Astringency was non-existent and the aftertaste was lasting but congenial to the end. The last time I partook of a sweet and smoky combination this perfect was probably two years ago when my wife brought home a honey-baked ham.

I have absolutely nothing derogatory to write about this tea. It was completely satisfying from my first to my fourth cup. I sincerely hope that Harney & Sons does not discontinue this tea. It would be a tragedy for Lapsang Souchong lovers everywhere.

Flavors: Smoked, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML
Kittenna

Sounds like a really great specimen of LS! They’re so biting sometimes; it’s nice to hear of ones that are not (whether or not they may be discontinued).

Stoo

Hi Kittenna! Yes, this is one of the best Lapsang Souchong teas I’ve found so far. If you stumble upon it, I highly recommend it! Thanks for your comments!

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Bio

I ventured into the world of serious tea drinking in the Summer of 2011. I started out slowly and gently with bagged tea but climbed to the incredible flavorful heights of loose leaf teas in October of that year. Once you go leaf, you never go bag (except when you get free samples)!

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South Carolina, USA

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