63 Tasting Notes

Not feeling very talkative right now since I’m dealing with a migraine this morning that was developing when I went to bed last night. But I decided to still try a new tea anyway. Let’s see how that goes.

Following Teavivre’s recommendation of steeping for 30sec, 1min, and 2min in boiling water. I used one whole sample of 7g in 200ml of water.

1st steep: I was surprised opening the pack when I got the strong scents of burnt wood and roasted peanuts. There was a real sweetness in the background of it all, best I can say was like stone fruit. The wet leaf had these as well, but also the definite smell of cooked vegetables came first…the sweetness reminding me of Brussels sprouts (a good thing—I love them!). In the cup the combinations of all these aromas made me picture peaches and plums grilling over a wood fire, and still the nuttiness of the roasted peanuts. As I write this, it sounds absolutely delightful and like something I would normally rave about. But I’m not feeling like that. I’m chalking that up to the migraine. Apparently my senses are working, or I wouldn’t have got a lot of these flavor-pictures (if you know what I mean). But the emotional aspect just isn’t clicking right now. It’s more like I’m doing my duty of reporting for you and the benefit of my memory, but I’m not begrudging it.
2nd steep: Now I think I understand what people are saying about oolongs changing flavors with each steep. It’s still smooth and thick feeling, but there’s just a touch of astringency developing. And it’s still got the roasted aromas but more of grains rather than nuts this time. But now that’s joined by the sharp sweetness of dried apricots, and maybe a little spice. It feels juicy and almost “chewy.”
3rd steep: Still smooth and thick, and absolutely no astringency. The roasted aromas continue with a buttery sweetness that reminds me of baked apple.

I wouldn’t have thought until very recently that I would like smokiness in tea at all, and roasted flavors also just didn’t sound like something I’d really go for either. Well, there’s been a little bit of smokiness in a couple teas I tried last week, and it was added a nice depth to those. And today’s exploration into roasted flavors really brought out some new flavor profiles to my tea experiences. It danced around with a few different fruit flavors through the steeps and it worked really well! I’ll have to try this tea again when I’ve got the full capacity of my senses and my emotions so I can be as deliriously happy as I think this tea wants to make me!


Oh boy! This is the free sample on the way in my latest order! Feel better!


I hate, hate, hate, (wait for it) HATE migraines. Hope you feel better soon.


Yeah, unfortunately they’re chronic and I’ve honestly always had them. I’ve just had to learn to suck it up and get through my day most of the time. And now I can’t let them get in the way of a cup of tea, can I?


I hate migraines soooo much…

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I was reading Teavivre’s info and Steepster notes for this tea last night and just got so excited I could hardly wait until morning. Well, things happen with a baby and toddler, so it’s mid morning now by the time I’m sitting down to a cup.

I followed Teavivre’s suggestion on their site of 4 pearls (and they are big) and boiling water for 1, 2, and 3mins, using 200ml of water.

Opening the sample pack, I knew what to expect from all the reviews but I could hardly believe just how real it was! Every bit the scent of dark cocoa powder, maybe a little sweetened, and then a subtle hay scent coming at the end (maybe that was the sweetness). The wet leaf is full of cocoa and bread. I like where this is going!

I was a little concerned when I first started pouring that it wasn’t very dark in the cup. When the cup was full, it turned out to be a dark honey color. The taste—oh my word—semisweet, definitely more like dark cocoa than dark chocolate, but with a little cream or butter, and then finishing with bread. Seriously, look at those as a list of ingredients. It couldn’t have tasted more like a chocolate croissant if I was actually chewing through it! How is this possible?? It’s a straight tea, for Pete’s sake!
2nd steep: A few hours later, now that I can sit down again. I forgot to mention in the 1st steep that there was a whisper of smoke, but I can’t remember if that was in the wet leaf or in the cup. I’m guessing the wet leaf, because that’s where I find it this time. This steep is also semisweet, but also has a touch of bitterness—but it’s not bad—so I guess that makes it bittersweet! It has the same delicious flavors as the first, but it’s taking them longer to develop on my palate to become that buttery chocolate croissant. But that might not be the tea’s fault. I can feel myself having a hard time relaxing and concentrating on the tea… a migraine is trying to develop. Let me get right on to the next steep before Lil’ Man gets up from his nap.
3rd steep: A good deal thinner feel to this cup. The sweetness is still very much there, but the bitterness seems to be gone. The flavors are all there, too, but they don’t stick around. This time it’s just a cup to sit back and relax with; a cup to help you enjoy doing something else like reading, not a cup to focus on itself. If this was how the tea was from the beginning, I’d be saying, “Eh, yeah, what’s next?” But you know, this tea worked it’s heart out for the first two steeps. I’d say it’s rather entitled to fade off into the sunset.

This looks like it’s the first tea from my samples stash that makes me say “I’ve gotta get more of this!” I still can’t get over the whole chocolate croissant thing. Maybe I’ll do a blind sniff test with Hubby to see if he can tell the tea from some cocoa powder and a real choc croissant. There’s a good excuse to run up to the bakery!

Dylan Oxford

Man, I ordered a sample of every other black they had other than this one, and the reviews have made me regret that, haha


Mmmm sounds tasty! And Dylan, that’s always the way it is!

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drank Terrific Toffee by T2
63 tasting notes

Sunday mornings are busy with getting the family ready for church, but tea is still a necessity. This was one of the teas that started me on the tea lover’s path. Made with milk and honey, it’s just a sweet, easy, no-thinking-required tea. But it’s actually been two or three weeks since I’ve had this one because I’ve been so involved with sampling new teas, primarily premium “straight” teas. So, sadly, this feels thin today. I’m enjoying it enough, but I suppose I can expect my senses to develop like this so that I kind of “grow out of” some of these teas. That definitely doesn’t mean that I won’t make it again. I could never discount a tea, especially an old favourite, because it just didn’t stand up on a single occasion!

Edited to add: Ok, it has been a little bit of time since I last made this. I obviously forgot how little milk I used to add. Fixed that on this last cup. Much better, can taste the tea more now, and back to not having to think about it. The way a Sunday morning should be.

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I’m sitting here in the hair salon partaking of a ritual I don’t get to do as often as it is probably needed. About four or five times a year, I make up a travel flask of a sweet tea, pick up a croissant or something else from the bakery, and get my hair done. It’s not the most genteel way to have a tea named in honor of Jane Austen, but the “mafia” part does lend a sense of “What you lookin’ at?” In any case, I don’t have to take care of anyone for a couple hours. I get to sit down and let someone take care of me.

I made this with 5.6g of tea to 500ml and steeped it for half a minute longer than I normally would. But since I “splurged” and used whole milk this time, it could have handled steeping for longer still. The blackberries aren’t as evident as they were last time because of the richer milk, but the tea isn’t masked as much as the other flavours, so it’s far from a loss. The addition of raw sugar has given it a little more of a treat feeling, when I would normally use Splenda. (Insert your gasp of horror here.) Now that I’m done writing this, I’m going to sit back with my tea and croissant and do a bit of reading—not Jane Austen as you may think, but Anne of Green Gables. Love returning to a childhood favourite!

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This tea was a gift from my mom, and I’ve been patiently waiting for a calm evening when I could settle down enough to sit back and give this my attention. I used 3g for 200ml at 70C; first steep was 2mins, second was 3mins.

First off, it’s beautiful to look at. Light grey-green silver needles with bright and dark green pai mu tan, with raspberry (I think) leaves and whole rosebuds sprinkled throughout. The steeped tea is also beautiful: sunshine yellow. Dry or wet, it’s very sweet, smelling of white grapes, berries and roses. You can also smell sweet grass in the wet leaf. Did I mention it’s sweet? Back to the liquid, all the scents from the wet leaf are there, just much softer and they really linger.

The second steep is more balanced between the pai mu tan and fruit/floral notes. (I’ve had pai mu tan before, but not silver needles, so that’s what I recognise.) It still feels powdery, maybe even a bit “sparkling”, and that’s nice. It’s also still sweet, but the grassiness of the actual tea seems to be stronger against the others in their staying power.

There aren’t any other tasting notes for this tea, so I don’t know how long it’s been around. Maybe after this there’ll be a flood of others, Jane Austen tragics or not, that will also get to feel like they’re having a delightful, respectable celebration in their teacup.

My “companion” review to this is on my blog: http://hardlysupermom.wordpress.com/2012/08/24/longbourn-wedding-tea-by-bingleys-teas/

160 °F / 71 °C

looks pretty :)

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Just as I started preparing for this tea, I noticed the lingering cold that I thought was beat had reared its ugly head again. So my senses obviously aren’t what they should be. My first straight Keemun and I didn’t know how I’d feel about it. I knew it was something I needed to at least try though. My prejudices say that I don’t like smokiness, but that’s not a good enough reason to stay ignorant! I’m following the suggested temp of 90C and 1, 2, & 3min steeps.

1st steep: The wet leaf has a grainy/maltiness that I really enjoyed in the Bailin Gongfu, along with what I can’t tell is either caramel or leather (is that weird?) and a gentle smokiness. Dark coppery liquor. Smooth but thin on mouthfeel (but that’s not necessarily a bad thing) and maybe even a little powdery feeling. Smoky caramel as LiberTEAS mentioned, and some not unpleasant bitter/semisweet fruit flavor. It’s not something I necessarily come running for, but I’m not throwing out the cup by any means. I just need to learn more about it. Moving on…
2nd steep: There’s a more noticeable sweetness in the wet leaf this time, or maybe I’m just getting past the smokiness. In the cup it’s sweeter as well and the smoke is receding, at least to my senses. I’m still getting the same notes as before, but they’re changing position. Ooh, there’s that caramel again. I’m getting more positive about this now. Is that my presuppositions getting dashed and my horizons expanding, or is it the tea talking? This cup got rather cold before I’d finished and now florals are coming out.
3rd steep: For any time-poor parents of babies and toddlers out there, you can understand—I made it to 3 steeps, and I’m proud of that. (On a semi-related note, halfway through the first cup I realised I forgot to have breakfast and I still haven’t fixed that. Too late now.) Sweetness is really coming through and the smokiness is decidedly just an afterthought now. I can sense more of the grains now, and this is just turning out to be a very easy cup to drink. Being the third and final steep of a tea I was originally unsure of, that’s not terribly surprising. But it also gives me the expectation that I’ll enjoy the earlier steeps of this more the next time I make it.

I had planned to treat my 2nd sample of this as a regular breakfast tea with milk and sugar, after I gave this one a good pure test. But now that I’m noticing a change in my perspective, I think I’d like to see what I think after another pure tasting first. Looks like I’ll either need to get another sample or be convinced enough to get a stash before it gets the breakfast treatment.

I like these kind of surprises, especially when they’re educating!

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The second of my Teavivre samples, and I’m going to try to get all the steeps I can and that the kids will let me. Based on how the day’s been so far, I’m a fool for trying to do this now.

I’ve only had any oolong once before, and I steeped that in my Breville One-Touch because I was making some for my husband as well. This I’m doing in my glass gaiwan and at 95C even though the sample says boiling. But for the sake of my fingers alone, I may make this in a small teapot with infuser next time. It’s hot! Otherwise, I’m basically following the gongfu times suggested (25sec, 35, 45, etc.)
1st steep Buttery with rose and grassy notes
2nd steep Still buttery and rosy, but there’s a strong bitterness that takes my attention away from everything else after that. I’ll steep it at 90C next time.
3rd steep That’s better, but perhaps the damage has been done. The notes in the 1st steep are fully back, but after a couple of sips I’m sensing the bitterness rising again. Pushing through…. Wait, maybe some caramel coming now? Floral notes really hanging around.
4th steep Yes, I am getting some caramel now. I must be getting past the bitterness now as I’m finally noticing a sweeter finish.

I’m going to finish here because I’ve got to get back to my day and I also think I’m just not in the right frame of mind for this. A little disappointed, but I’m not blaming that on the tea. There are far too many glowing praises of this tea, so I’m going to cop it myself. I’ll try it next time in a teapot with more familiar timings. At the very least, my fingers will thank me!


This happens to all of us now and then.
Hope it works better for you next time! :)

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Trying to remember, but I’m pretty sure this is the first unflavored or non-blended black tea I’ve had besides a Spring Darjeeling (during an Afternoon Tea at the QVB Tea Room in Sydney). It’s also the first of my samples from Teavivre, so there’s another reason to be excited about it. Well never fear, it’s lived up to the high expectations and surpasses them! That seems hard to do given such glowing praise it’s received on here, but the fact is, I finished the first cup well over half an hour ago and I’m still relishing the flavor in my mouth!

It is what everyone has already mentioned. Semi-sweet (TeaEqualsBliss). “Psuedo-smoky” (Angrboda). Thick mouthfeel and very malty—a new flavor in tea for me—without aggressiveness (Dylan Oxford). And so many others said how rich and bold it is. I may have missed it, but didn’t see anyone write how long the sensations last: it is astounding!

Since I’m really learning now and trying to train my palate, I don’t think it’s fair or helpful for me to give number scores yet. But this tea is a real lesson in richness, length of flavor, and HOW GOOD a straight black tea can be without any additions! I’m looking forward to a couple more steeps for these leaves (and the 2nd sample pack of it!) and my big stash of other Teavivre samples is looking even better than it was before!

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drank Gorgeous Geisha by T2
63 tasting notes

This is the last tea to try from my Nine Green pack from T2. I tend to always save the best for last, and I figured there was a pretty good chance I’d like this one. No worries there! Sniffing the dry leaf, it’s almost all sweet strawberries. There’s not much to notice of the cream, and even less of the sencha itself. After it’s steeped, it becomes almost 50/50 between strawberries and sencha in both the infused leaf and the liquor. It’s very smooth and rather creamy (makes sense, really) in my mouth and a sensation of juicy strawberries really lingers well after the last sip. All that being said, it’s not overly sweet at all; in fact, it has the usual slight bitterness and other normal characteristics of sencha, just with strawberries on top.

In all honesty, since I’m really going gung-ho on tea tasting, I wanted to find an unflavoured green tea in this pack that I would happily choose as a cupboard standard. The best bet for that is the Genmaicha Sencha which I think is fantastic, although maybe it’s not considered “unflavored”. But this Gorgeous Geisha is very good, and my Southern Girl background kind of makes it hard to turn it down! Seriously, I did try to pick a “real” tea for a keeper. But juicy, fruity, creamy tea? Come on. How could I resist?

You can read a separate review I did for this tea and a couple of other T2 greens on my blog: http://hardlysupermom.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/progress-report-card-t2-nine-green-pack-part-3/

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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drank Sencha Quince by T2
63 tasting notes

Ok, I’ve been struggling with this cold and sore throat for over a week now, and today is the worst I’ve felt. But I simply have too many samples to try, and I can’t hold myself off any longer. These may not be the best conditions for truly evaluating this tea, but they are some of the best conditions for just saying, “Stuff it! I’m gonna do what I want to keep myself comfortable!”

So with that bit of self-indulgence in mind, this is really nice. I get florals and vanilla with a sweet-tart fruitiness all on top of a base of mind-soothing sencha. It’s smooth and rather buttery. I can see why it’s one of T2’s most popular green teas. The kids can run around, fuss, and generally destroy the house; they’ll be alright and I’ll be alright. That’s the mood this tea has left me with. (Do-gooders, relax: I’m not neglecting my kids. I’m gaining mental strength for the rest of our day!)

You can read a separate review I did for this tea and a couple of other T2 greens on my blog: http://hardlysupermom.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/progress-report-card-t2-nine-green-pack-part-3/

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

Relax=that’s funny. Too many people are too worried about how someone else is carrying themselves. They’ld really hate to hear me say I try to sell my kids to anyone who shows a shread of interest in them, even if it’s they’re just trying to make small talk with me…why do you want them.JK

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I’m an American-Australian living in Sydney with my Aussie husband, very active toddler girl and bouncing baby boy. I need tea to get me just to Lil’ Man’s morning nap, let alone the rest of the day. I’m a newbie to the world of pure teas (and loving every sip of it!), having delighted in flavored teas and blends for years. The hardest part seems to be getting the teas to Australia without exorbitant shipping costs.


Sydney, Australia



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