Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea From TeaVivre

I found myself today yearning for a Chinese green tea. That is a rather broad term for such a diverse category of teas. Unfortunately, I must admit that at the moment my selection of Chinese green teas is rather limited. Fortunately, those few green teas I do have come from a reputable source, TeaVivre.

This particular sample today is one I have been holding on to, and looking forward to the day when I had the time to truly enjoy the experience. Tai Ping Hou Kui green tea, particularly those of good quality, is arguably one of the most interesting teas to visually observe in all stages of the review: dry, steeping in water, and exhausted. I made sure to keep some extra memory on my phone/camera for this review.

TeaVivre sources this Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea from the Houkeng Tea Garden, located in the famous Huangshan area of Xinming County, Anhui Province, China. This tea garden sits at an elevation of about 2,600 feet (800 meters) above sea level. The leaves used for this tea are harvested from the Shidacha seedling bush, a large leaf species. This harvest is usually performed in late April. This particular sample is from the 2017 spring harvest.

Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea is in the list of top ten Chinese green teas, and is renowned for, among other things, the uniquely flattened, long leaves. The leaves are seriously as flat and thin as a piece of paper. It’s appearance is unlike any other style of tea I have ever come across, and is immediately identifiable.

Let’s get to the review… Be prepared … There are more photos than usual, and this tea deserves the extra attention.

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Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea – Dry Leaves (shot 1)
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Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea – Dry Leaves (shot 2)

The dry leaves vary in color from pale bright green to pale dark green. The leaves are all unbroken, fully intact leaves still attached to the shoot. There are no fragments or bare stems in the mix. The leaves all measure between 3 and 4 inches long (75 to 100 mm). I expect there to be two to three leaves and a bud attached to the shoot. The leaves have the standard paper thin, flat appearance, as Tai Ping Hou Kui teas should have. The classic checkered pattern is also present on the leaves (see the photo below), a result of the process used to flatten the leaves. The aroma has scents of fresh cut grass, light brown sugar, and a subtle touch of wild flowers.

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Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea – Dry Leaves (Close Shot)

Forgive me for this, but I had to use my clear glass infuser mug to steep these leaves. I really wanted to observe the infusion process. So I used the full contents of the five gram sample packet in the twelve ounce (355 mL) mug, and infused in 175°F (80°C) water for 2:00 minutes.

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Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea – Infusion Process
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Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a pale, light yellow-green color. The aroma has scents of fresh grass, sweet corn, wild flowers, peas, and a touch of brown sugar. The body is medium, with a silky, refreshing texture. There is a medium level of astringency, and no bitterness. The taste has notes of fresh grass, sweet corn, wild flowers, peas, and a touch of lemon. The aftertaste starts off grassy, and evolves into an impressive, lasting flowery essence. This flowery essence is truly remarkable.

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Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fairly uniform fresh forest green color. The blend consists entirely of unbroken, whole leaves and buds still attached to the shoots. The pluck varies from two leaves and a rather developed bud to three leaves and a developed bud. The  opened leaves are long and very narrow, and have an incredibly soft, smooth texture. The aroma carries the scents of grass, peas, and wild flowers.

This Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea from TeaVivre is, in my opinion, a very good quality specimen of this style of tea considering the price that TeaVivre offers it at, and the fact that this is only their “premium” version (i.e. not their best quality offered). In addition to the enjoyment I got out of observing the leaves in all stages of the review, the aroma and taste quality of the infusion itself was very admirable. I also got four quality infusions out of the leaves, and a fifth that was still worthy of drinking. There is no question in my mind as to why this is in the top ten best styles of green tea from China. This product has all the characteristics of a Chinese green tea that people are looking for, with some specific qualities that cannot be found elsewhere. This is a tea worthy of the time it takes to fully observe and enjoy at all levels.

Thank you to TeaVivre for supplying this sample of Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea! Cheers!

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Nonpareil Cha Wang Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea from TeaVivre

Today’s review will focus on the Nonpareil Cha Wang Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea from TeaVivre. TeaVivre does many things well, like offering many varieties and grades of Chinese teas (and some Taiwan oolongs), being generous with offering samples, having competitive pricing, and reasonable shipping times. However, I think the best thing about TeaVivre is how much information on every single tea is provided on the website. Every tea that I have looked at has two full pages of useful and interesting maps. photos, and information, from the history of each tea product itself, to the specific production methods, to the grower, and the history of the region that the tea originated in. I cannot think of another tea retailer, myself included, who provides such in depth information about the products offered. Knowing much about the tea you are about to drink makes the experience that much more interesting, and TeaVivre does a phenomenal job of giving you all the information you could want about each product.

So, rather than repeat all of the great information that TeaVivre already offers on the product page, I will simply highlight a few details. This product is grown and manufactured in Hou Keng, on the famous Huangshan Mountain of Anhui Province, China. This tea is completely handmade. The unique production method of this tea causes the leaves to be flat and thin, with very specific textured markings. There is no mistaking the Tai Ping Hou Kui style of green tea from other styles. The cultivar used is the Shidacha (Shiyecha), a large leaf member of the Camellia Sinensis Sinensis family.

The sample packet has been opened, and the unique look of the Tai Ping Hou Kui leaves is immediately recognized. Let the journey begin…

TeaVivre Nonpareil Cha Wang Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea Dry Leaves
TeaVivre Nonpareil Cha Wang Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves range in color from light forest green to dark forest green. There is a reddish stripe visible on some of the leaves, which is characteristic of Tai Ping Hou Kui. The leaves are mostly whole leaves and large fragments. There are some crumbs and medium fragments, but I am assuming that these are the result of having to break some of the larger leaves to fit into the sample packet. The pluck appears to be two leaves and a medium sized bud. The average length is around two inches (51 mm). The leaves are flat, thin, and have the textured imprints typical of Tai Ping Hou Kui. There are no bare stems in the mix. The smell has scents of brown sugar, raw cacao, toasted nuts, dry grass, and dried apricot.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 185°F (85°C). The leaves were infused for 3:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 175°F (75°C). Steep the leaves for 1:30 to 2:00 minutes. If possible, use a glass teapot or even a tall drinking glass for infusion so that you may watch the leaves open in the water. Expect three to four quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves.

TeaVivre Nonpareil Cha Wang Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea Infusion
TeaVivre Nonpareil Cha Wang Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a pale, light yellow color, almost like the flesh of an apricot, clear and transparent. There is a mild amount of fine particles in the cup. The aroma carries scents of fresh grass, toasted nuts, light brown sugar, steamed asparagus, butter, and lighter scents of flowers and apricot. The body is medium, with a clean and crisp texture. There is a medium level of astringency. The taste has notes of toasted nuts, fresh grass, steamed asparagus, light butter, light flowers, and apricot undertones. The aftertaste carries the grass and asparagus notes, and evolves into a strong, persistent floral essence that lingers on the breath for minutes. As the aftertaste evolves into the floral character, the tea will have a drying effect on the mouth and tongue.

TeaVivre Nonpareil Cha Wang Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea Infused Leaves
TeaVivre Nonpareil Cha Wang Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color. The leaves are mostly large fragments and whole leaves with stems intact. The stems show a two leaf and medium bud pluck, with the leaves enveloping the bud quite securely as a result of the unique production method. The leaves unfold into fairly long and narrow leaves, indicating the Shidacha cultivar. The leaves have a lightly grooved texture (as shown more clearly in the photo below), and are quite fragile. There are some leaves with a few small black specks on them. According to the TeaVivre website, this is a result of the manual drying method (as compared to the mechanized drying method) used by the manufacturer. The smell has scents of fresh grass, flowers, light apricot, and asparagus broth.

TeaVivre Nonpareil Cha Wang Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea Infused Leaves Texture
TeaVivre Nonpareil Cha Wang Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea Infused Leaves Texture

The Nonpareil Cha Wang Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea from TeaVivre is a very good quality product of this type. The appearance of the leaves is immediately recognizable. The aroma and taste of the liquor are both highly attractive and consistent through three infusions. The slightly brisk, crisp quality of the tea is refreshing and uplifting. Tai Ping Hou Kui is among my preferred Chinese green teas, both for the visual qualities, as well as the taste/smell. This Nonpareil Cha Wang version from TeaVivre provided the full experience that I come to expect from a good quality Tai Ping Hou Kui green tea.

Thanks to TeaVivre for providing this sample of Nonpareil Cha Wang Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea. Visit the TeaVivre site, and check out the wealth of teas and information, by clicking here. Cheers!

Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea from TeaVivre

There are some styles of tea out there that cause excitement and curiosity as soon as you open the container. For those of you who have experienced Tai Ping Hou Kui green tea, this is one of those styles of tea. Every aspect of the appearance of this tea is unique, and the aroma is usually very fresh and pleasant.

According to the TeaVivre website (click here), Tai Ping Hou Kui is traditionally grown in Hou Keng, Xinming village, Huangshan City, Anhui Province, China. This style of tea is produced from a specific cultivar called Shidacha (Shiyecha). This type of tea bush produces rather large leaves, which are easily noticeable in Tai Ping Hou Kui due to the unique processing method of this style of tea.

Let the journey begin…

Tai Ping Hou Kui Dry Leaves
Tai Ping Hou Kui Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in shades of green color, from bright to dark green. The leaves vary in length, but are uniformly flattened. The length varies from one (25 mm) to three and a half inches (90 mm). The bud and two leaf pluck is apparent in several of the leaves. Many leaves appear to be unbroken, while others appear to be large fragments. The leaves are quite large overall, indicative of the Shidacha cultivar. The aroma of the dry leaves is that of fresh cut grass, sweet hay, and a slight toasted nuttiness.

Four grams of dry leaves were placed in an 8.5 ounce (240 ml) kyusu. Purified water was heated to 175°F (80°C). Leaves were infused for one minute, with an additional ten seconds added to subsequent infusions.

Tai Ping Hou Kui 1st Infusion
Tai Ping Hou Kui 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a light and pale shade of green color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of orchids, fresh cut wet grass, sweet butter or cream, and a slight nuttiness. The body is medium, with a rounded and mouth filling feel. The taste has notes of water chestnuts, orchids, and a sweetness most similar to citrus fruits. There was a slight bitterness to the otherwise floral and lingering aftertaste. As usual with a good quality tea, the flowery essence in the olfactory glands persisted for minutes after swallowing.

Tai Ping Hou Kui 2nd Infusion
Tai Ping Hou Kui 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a slightly livelier shade of pale green. The taste balanced out some, having stronger orchid notes and lighter water chestnut notes. Other than that, there was little variance from the first infusion.

Tai Ping Hou Kui 3rd Infusion
Tai Ping Hou Kui 3rd Infusion

The third infusion was nearly identical to the second infusion in all aspects. A nice aroma, great flavor, medium body, floral aftertaste. I am truly enjoying the consistency from infusion to infusion. I will continue with two additional infusions.

Tai Ping Hou Kui 5th Infusion
Tai Ping Hou Kui 5th Infusion

The photo above depicts the fifth infusion. As you can see, the color is still quite consistent with the third infusion. The aroma, body, and taste are also surprisingly consistent, with a very slight lightening in character. Overall, the quality of this liquor is amazing for a fifth infusion of a green tea. And this is not even the highest quality of Tai Ping Hou Kui offered from TeaVivre. If I were not running out of time at the office today, I would have tried two additional infusions just to see if it could last. Interesting to note that these are not flash infusions. This fifth infusion steeped in water for two minutes.

Tai Ping Hou Kui Infused Leaves
Tai Ping Hou Kui Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a rather uniform fleshy green color, with a slight variation in the shades of green. The pluck of a bud and two leaves is apparent. Many leaves are unbroken and fully attached to the stem, while others are very large fragments. The leaves are quite large. They are quite delicate at this point, but I still believe another infusion or two is possible. The aroma is very pleasant, with scents of orchids and fresh cut wet grass. There is some taste left in these leaves.

I have been intrigued by Tai Ping Hou Kui since the first time I tried it about a year ago. I can honestly say that the TeaVivre product is the best that I have had to this point. I would love to try the Nonpareil variety that they offer, just to see if the higher price tag can provide such a better experience than this premium variety. This is an excellent style of Chinese green tea, and one that I highly recommend to any green tea enthusiast out there. Just be careful on the brewing technique. Again, I must highlight the consistency that this tea had over five infusions. I cannot remember the last time a Chinese green tea gave me five consistent infusions. Excellent product. Thanks, TeaVivre. You are four for four so far! 🙂