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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Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea From TeaVivre

Today, I will reviewing the Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea from TeaVivre. You can purchase 100 grams of this tea for USD $18.90 through the TeaVivre website.

This Long Jing Green Tea was grown and harvested in April of 2017 in the famous district of XiHu (West Lake), Zhejiang province of China. Below is a map showing the general location of XiHu.

Although Long Jing green teas are among the most famous and beloved green teas from China, it is (admittedly) historically not one of my preferred green teas. I decided to request this sample from TeaVivre, and give it another chance since it has been a year or two since I last had a Long Jing green tea. My tastes and preferences do change and evolve, so it is always interesting to circle back to a tea that I did not care for a few years ago, and see how I interpret it now.

Let’s get to the review…

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Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from pale light green to pale dark green. There are also some yellow-brown leaves in the mix. The blend consists of medium to large leaf and bud fragments, with a few unbroken leafs and buds. There is also a bare stem or two in the mix. The stems show a two young leaf and bud pluck. The leaves have the standard flattened appearance, with the few fully intact plucks coming to a point where the bud ends. The abundance of medium sized fragments indicates that this is, with all due respect, a fairly standard grade of Long Jing green tea. The aroma has scents of roasted peanuts, chocolate, dry grass, and a touch of dry orchid.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an eight ounce (240 mL) bizen-ware kyusu, and infused with 175°F (80°C) water for 30 seconds. Each subsequent infusion had another 30 seconds of time added.

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Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a pale, light green-yellow color. The aroma has scents of fresh grass, boiled peanuts, cooked spinach and chard, and orchids. The body is medium-full, with a rich, velvety smooth texture. There is a pleasant, balanced astringency. The taste has notes of fresh grass, cooked spinach, chard, orchids, a light touch of floral bitterness, like lavender or jasmine, and a light touch of boiled peanuts. The aftertaste strongly carries the floral character, and lingers on the breath.

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Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color, with a few leaves having a brown spot of two. The blend consists mostly of medium to large leaf and bud fragments. There are a few unbroken leaves, and a few leaves and buds still attached to the shoot. The vast majority of leaves are fragments, though. There is a bare stem or two in the mix. The leaves are young, fairly small, and tender. The buds are also rather young and tender. The aroma carries the scents of fresh grash, spinach, chard, and light orchid.

I have enjoyed this experience with the Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea from TeaVivre more so than I did in the past. Most notably, I really enjoyed the texture of this tea, and the strong and lingering floral aftertaste. This experience is encouraging me to try the higher grades of Long Jing from TeaVivre and other vendors. I can imagine that a much more refined, higher quality of this style of green tea could certainly live up to its reputation as one of the best and most famous styles of Chinese green tea. Not to take anything away from the grade of this sample, which provided an excellent aroma and taste experience. This product is an excellent and affordable option for exploring the Long Jing style of green tea.

Thank you again to TeaVivre for providing this sample of Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea. Cheers!

Spring 2017 Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea From TeaVivre

Today, I will be focusing on the Spring 2017 harvest of Huang Shan Green Tea provided by TeaVivre.

The TeaVivre website is among my favorite tea vendor sites because it provides so much interesting content on each of its products, including harvest information, garden information, history, etc. A website with this amount of information on each product is a great credit to the owner of the business, proving that they care about the quality of products they are offering, and actually know and want to teach about the products they are offering. They are not just sourcing cheap teas and selling at retail price to make the most profit. They are proud of where their products are sourced from. Cheers to TeaVivre for their care and efforts!

True Huang Shan Mao Feng green teas are sourced from the Yellow Mountain (HuangShan) in the Anhui province of China. The tea bush used to make this style of tea is of the HuangShan large-leaf type. This type of tea bush is known for the number of buds it produces, and the abundance of downy-like fuzz on those buds. It is also quite cold-tolerant, which is important since it is grown in the mountains.

This particular Huang Shan Mao Feng green tea is sourced from the Dailing Tea Garden, which is owned and operated by Mr. Ke, in Da Guyun Village. Mr. Ke has been working with his family in tea growing since the age of 15.

You can purchase 50 grams of this Spring 2017 Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea for USD $10.90 from the TeaVivre website.

The map below shows the general location of HuangShan.

Let’s get to the review.

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Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a bright, fresh forest green color, with the buds having silver downy-like fuzz on them. The stems have a green-yellow color. The pluck is mostly two leaves and a tender bud intact on the shoot, and a few detached leaf fragments. There are no totally bare stems in the mix. There are no obvious signs of oxidation on the leaves, indicating that the leaves were properly processed to stop the oxidation process very shortly after being harvested. The leaves are very lightly rolled, and have a light, fluffy density. The aroma has scents of fresh hay, light brown sugar, light vanilla, and a touch of pecan and dried chrysanthemum. The aroma is gently sweet and very attractive.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in a 5 ounce (150 mL) porcelain gaiwan, and infused with 175°F (80°C) water for 30 seconds. Each subsequent infusion added another 30 seconds.

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Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a light, green-yellow color. The aroma has scents of chrysanthemums, fresh hay, and lighter scents of steamed asparagus and baby spinach. The body is medium, which is more than I expected, with a very smooth, buttery texture. There is a nice astringency in the earlier infusions, which provides an uplifting energy to the tea. The taste has notes of chrysanthemums, hay, steamed asparagus, and a lighter note of baby spinach. The aftertaste carries the floral notes, and leaves a refreshing, lingering floral essence in the mouth.

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Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh, bright forest green color. There is no reddish tint on any of the leaves, confirming that very minimal oxidation had occurred in the leaves prior to processing, as is expected from a green tea. The leaves, buds, and shoots appear to be rather young and tender. There appears to be signs of bug bites on a few of the leaves, perhaps indicating a lack of chemical pesticides being used on the farm, which is definitely a good thing. The aroma carries the scents of chrysanthemum, hay, grass, and lighter notes of steamed asparagus and baby spinach.

The Spring 2017 Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea from TeaVivre is an excellent example of a classic, world-renowned Chinese green tea. Neither overpowering or underwhelming, this green tea is a perfect way for black tea drinkers to begin their expansion into other styles of tea. The fresh, floral character of this tea provides an uplifting, refreshing experience. The body is fuller than expected, and provides a nice depth of texture that serves as an excellent first impression of the tea liquid as it passes the lips. Tea drinkers who want and prefer that grassy, vegetal punch from a green tea may find this style to be underwhelming and generally unimpressive. But for those who can appreciate the varying styles of green tea, this one will be a highly satisfying experience.

Thank you to TeaVivre for providing this sample of Spring 2017 Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea! I am looking forward to reviewing the other products included with this sample packet. Cheers!

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!

Organic White Peony (Bai Mu Dan) White Tea from TeaVivre

For those of you who did not see the photographic evidence that I posted to my social networks late last evening, I have officially completed the organization of all of my tea samples! This was a huge victory for me, as the various boxes were really stacking up in my storage room, and thus causing me anxiety every time I opened the door to this room. But, that is no longer a problem, and all samples are sorted by country of origin. I would have preferred to organize by region, but I ran out of boxes. Oh well. Here is the photo of my “organized” tea samples.

Organized Tea Samples
Organized Tea Samples

Again, I found many good samples that had been lost in the chaos. As someone who has recently made huge changes to dieting and lifestyle, I have been focusing more specifically on organic products in general, including tea. I was excited to find several organic tea samples, including this Organic White Peony (Bai Mu Dan) from TeaVivre. If you are passionate about organic products, and want to try a light and satisfying white tea, visit the TeaVivre homepage! You can get 1.75 ounces (50 grams) of Organic White Peony Tea for $10.90. TeaVivre has a large variety of fresh, natural, and high quality Chinese teas, many of which are organic! There are many tea retailers out there offering Chinese teas, but few have the assortment that TeaVivre offers.

This Organic White Peony Tea comes from Mount Taimu, Fuding County, Fujian Province, in eastern China. Fuding is very highly respected for the white tea produced here, especially the White Peony and Silver Needle teas. The difference between White Peony and Silver Needle white teas is quite simple. White Peony uses a two leaf and bud pluck. Silver Needle is usually a very fine unopened leaf enveloping a fresh tea bud. This Organic White Peony from TeaVivre is produced using leaves harvested from the Da Bai (Large White) and Da Hao (Large Hair) cultivar tea bushes.

The sample packet has been opened, and a sweet, floral, and robust scent is escaping the packet. Let the journey begin…

Organic White Peony Bai Mu Dan Tea Dry Leaves
Organic White Peony Bai Mu Dan Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves range in color from bright green to forest green, and light brown to dark brown, with some of the leaves being covered in fine silver downy-like hairs. The buds appear white from the abundance of silver hairs, and are needle shaped. The thin stems are dark brown. The pluck is two fine leaves and a long bud. The leaves have a smooth, light, and crisp texture. Many of the leaves are whole, but the majority are medium to large fragments. Considering the small sample packets that the leaves were packed into, I would expect the leaves to arrive in better condition if purchased in the retail quantity and packaging. Many of the leaves and buds are detached from the stems, but there are no bare stems in the mix. The smell carries scents of hay, tea roses, dried cherry, dark honey, and light burgundy wine.

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 4:00 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 185°F (85°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 minutes. Expect three quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves. Add 30 seconds to each subsequent infusion.

Organic White Peony Bai Mu Dan Tea Infusion
Organic White Peony Bai Mu Dan Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright, pale golden-yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma carries scents of hay, dandelion, light honey, lemon, and cedar wood. The body is light-medium, with a surprisingly round and robust texture. The taste has notes of hay, dandelion, lemon, cedar wood, light honey, and burgundy wine. The aftertaste carries the hay, lemon, and burgundy notes. There is a moderate level of astringency. Overall, this is a very nicely rounded white tea!

Organic White Peony Bai Mu Dan Tea Infused Leaves
Organic White Peony Bai Mu Dan Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fairly uniform fresh forest green color, with the buds being slightly lighter green, and the stems light brown. The leaves are mostly medium to large fragments, with some whole leaves in the mix. The buds are all whole, with an average length of about 1 inch (25 mm). The stems show a pluck of two leaves and a bud. The leaves all have a soft, smooth, fairly delicate texture. The smell carries scents of hay, dandelion, wood, and light burgundy wine.

The Organic White Peony (Bai Mu Dan) Tea from TeaVivre is a good quality, organic, and reasonably priced white tea. More robust and flavorful than the Silver Needle styles of white tea, this Organic White Peony has much to offer in terms of aroma and taste over at least three infusions. With caffeine levels high enough to keep your eyes open, but low enough to not hinder sleep, this is a great tea to enjoy at any time during the day or evening, unless you are very sensitive to caffeine. This is a good every day use type of white tea, inexpensive compared to Silver Needle, and consistent through multiple infusions. Click Here to go to the TeaVivre website, and find the Organic White Peony under the White – Organic category.

Thanks to Angel at TeaVivre for supplying this sample of Organic White Peony (Bai Mu Dan) Tea. Cheers!

Fengqing Raw Puer Tuo Cha 2006 from TeaVivre

It seems like it has been a long time since I reviewed a sheng (raw) puer tea. It also seems like it has been a while since I had an opportunity to review a product from TeaVivre. Time to put an end to both of those time periods.

I was very excited to see not just one, but two sheng puers in the most recent package of samples I received from TeaVivre. The subject of this review is the aged 2006 puer tuo cha from Fengqing, Lincang, Yunnan Province, China. The Yunnan Large-Leaf tea trees produce the leaves used to make this puer tea. Generally speaking, larger, more mature leaves should make for a stronger, yet mellow infusion.

TeaVivre has quite a bit of information regarding this tea on their website. Rather than paraphrase, why don’t I just give you the link to read for yourself.

Let the journey begin…

Fengqing 2006 Raw Puer Dry Leaves
Fengqing 2006 Raw Puer Dry Leaves

The dry leaves display a variety of colors, from yellow to silver, faded green to dark green, and light to dark brown shades. Since this tea came in a ten gram sample package, some of the leaves were loose, while others were parts of condensed chunks. The leaves appear to be medium to large fragments. I cannot see any leaves that appear to be whole and unbroken. The aroma is smoky, earthy, and with a hint of wet fur.

Ten grams of dry leaves were placed in a 9.4 ounce (280 ml) Tokoname teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 175°F (75°C). The leaves were rinsed for fifteen seconds, then infused for one minute. The amount of dry leaves may seem high, but this was the suggested weight to water ratio from TeaVivre. Actually, the suggestion is ten grams in eight ounces. The temperature I used and infusion time are much lower than the recommendation of 212°F (100°C) for three to ten minutes.

Fengqing 2006 Raw Puer 1st Infusion
Fengqing 2006 Raw Puer 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a dark yellow-gold color, clear and transparent. The aroma was smoky, earthy, and lightly floral. The body was medium, with a smooth, clean feel. The taste had notes of animal (musk), mineral (wet stone), floral (jasmine), and a very light raisin hint. There is a mineral aftertaste, and a flowery essence left on the breath. I am looking forward to a better balanced second infusion, and would not be surprised if the third is the best tasting of the three.

Fengqing 2006 Raw Puer 2nd Infusion
Fengqing 2006 Raw Puer 2nd Infusion

 

The second infusion produced a liquor with a nearly identical shade of dark yellow-gold color as the first infusion. The aroma remains earthy and floral, with the smokiness having dissipated slightly. The body remains medium. The taste did balance out some, but I still do not think it has reached the optimum balance. The tastes remain floral (jasmine), mineral (wet stone), animal (musk), and light raisin. The aftertaste has become slightly more floral and less mineral. As usual with puer, I love feeling the tea evolve from infusion to infusion. Looking forward to the third and beyond.

Fengqing 2006 Raw Puer 3rd Infusion
Fengqing 2006 Raw Puer 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor with again a nearly identical color as the first and second infusions. The aroma remains earthy, floral, lightly smoky, and a woody scent is evolving also. The taste is balancing better in this infusion, and the body feels even smoother and more refined. The floral (jasmine) taste seems to be changing into more of a woody taste, while the animal (musk) and mineral tastes remain strong, with the light raisin taste also persisting. The aftertaste began to give a dry feeling in the mouth. I still think that the taste has not reached it’s optimal balance quite yet. I will say, however, that this third infusion has definitely been my favorite of the first three infusions.

Fengqing 2006 Raw Puer 4th Infusion
Fengqing 2006 Raw Puer 4th Infusion

I continued infusing this tea for six infusions before running out of time. The color, aroma, body, texture, and taste remained quite similar, with only lightening slightly, from the fourth to sixth infusion. I have no doubt that this tea could have gone to ten infusions or more.

Fengqing 2006 Raw Puer Infused Leaves
Fengqing 2006 Raw Puer Infused Leaves

The infused leaves vary in color from light green to forest green, and a few are light brown. The leaves are all medium to large fragments, with no unbroken leaves being pulled from the mix. The aroma reminds me of a wet forest floor, with scents of wood and light flowers. There is a touch of animal musk in the scent, as well.

The Fengqing Raw Puer Tuo Cha 2006 had the earthy, mature tastes that any fan of puer tea expects from an aged sheng puer tea. This is not a tea that you would offer to friends or family who are new to tea drinking, or prefer lighter tastes. It is quite powerful in aroma, taste, and energy. This tea is perfect for a long evening of reading or study. This is truly a tea drinker’s tea.

Thank you, TeaVivre, for giving me the opportunity to try the Fengqing Raw Puer Tuo Cha 2006. Cheers!

 

Liu An Gua Pian Green Tea from TeaVivre

It is unfortunate to say that this is the last tea, the Liu An Gua Pian, to be evaluated in the sample package from TeaVivre. So far, I have had nothing but good things to say about their products. Liu An Gua Pian is one of my preferred styles of Chinese green tea, so I wanted to save this sample for last. As always, I recommend that you visit the TeaVivre website here, as they provide a noteworthy amount of information on each of their products.

Liu An Gua Pian is unique from other Chinese green teas in multiple ways. Unlike other Chinese green teas, there are no buds used in the production of Liu An Gua Pian. The second leaf down from the bud is the only leaf used. The leaves are separated from the stems. The main leaf vein is also removed. Liu An Gua Pian leaves are plucked from a variety (cultivar) of the tea bush known as San Hao Xiao Ye Zhong, a local bush found in Anhui Province, China.

The sample packet has been opened, and the fresh forest green color of the leaves has caught my eye. Let the journey begin…

Liu An Gua Pian Dry Leaves
Liu An Gua Pian Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a fresh forest green to dark green color. The leaves are rolled, and vary in length. There are no stems whatsoever. There are few crumbs. Leaves appear to be large fragments, with perhaps a few unbroken. The leaves have a slightly shiny appearance, the result of repeated rounds of pan firing. The aroma has scents of fresh grass, sweet hay, sweet brown sugar and molasses.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in an 8.5 ounce (240 ml) kyusu teapot. Purified water was heated to 175°F (80°C). Leaves were infused for forty seconds on the first infusion, one minute on the second, and one minute and twenty seconds on the third.

Liu An Gua Pian 1st Infusion
Liu An Gua Pian 1st Infusion

The first infusion has a light, pale, jade green color, clear and transparent. The aroma is mostly fresh cut grass, with light scents of roasted nuts and brown sugar. The body is medium, with a fresh and brothy (umami) texture that coats the tongue and throat. The taste has notes of fresh cut grass, vegetables (corn and asparagus), with a sweet umami character. The aftertaste provides a lasting floral essence.

Liu An Gua Pian 2nd Infusion
Liu An Gua Pian 2nd Infusion

The second infusion has a slightly fuller shade of light jade green color. The aroma remains grassy, with a light floral scent blending with roasted nuts and brown sugar. Body remains medium with a brothy texture. Taste remains mostly grassy with vegetable, and a slightly sweet (melon) taste coming through. This second infusion maintains a pleasant umami character, and a lasting floral aftertaste.

Liu An Gua Pian 3rd Infusion
Liu An Gua Pian 3rd Infusion

The third infusion has a slightly lighter jade green color than the second infusion. The aroma has lightened, but is still full, and has a light spice coming through and blending with the grassy, sweet scent. The body has lightened some. The taste remains grassy with vegetable, and the umami character has lightened some, but still exists. The floral aftertaste is still quite strong and lasting.

Liu An Gua Pian Infused Leaves
Liu An Gua Pian Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color. All large fragments, no fully intact unbroken leaves were found. Some leaves had the main center vein intact, which is inconsistent with the description of the processing technique. No stems were found. The leaves are quite soft and delicate, but based on the taste of the third infusion, I believe one additional infusion is possible. The leaves have a fresh, grassy, and cooked vegetable smell.

The Liu An Gua Pian from TeaVivre is a good quality green tea that is a nice change from other styles of Chinese green teas. The brothy (umami) texture gives this tea a characteristic similar to a Japanese green tea, but maintains most characteristics of the traditional Chinese green tea. This tea has a refreshing and revitalizing effect, and the texture gives it a healthy, hearty feel. This tea would be an excellent bridge for fans of both Chinese and Japanese green teas who are looking to cross borders to find and develop a taste for new styles of tea.

TeaVivre, it’s been a pleasure reviewing these five products, and I look forward to reviewing more of your products in the future. Thanks for the opportunity, and for the five great teas!

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! 🙂

 

 

Da Hong Pao Wuyi Rock Oolong from TeaVivre

I am excited today to be reviewing the Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe) Wuyi Rock Oolong tea from TeaVivre. It has been some time since sampling a better quality Da Hong Pao, and the two other reviews on TeaVivre’s products have been quite positive, so I am expecting to enjoy this review. Take a moment to learn more about the Da Hong Pao Wuyi Rock Oolong on TeaVivre’s website by clicking here.

Generally speaking, authentic Da Hong Pao rock wulongs come from tea bushes that all have the same genetic material, and are grown and produced in the Wuyi Mountains in the Fujian Province of southeast China. This style of wulong leans on the heavier side of the oxidation scale. The leaves are also roasted for a longer period than many other styles of wulong.

Upon opening the sample packet, the familiar roasty scent of Da Hong Pao has hit my olfactory glands. Let the journey begin…

TeaVivre Da Hong Pao Rock Oolong Dry Leaves
TeaVivre Da Hong Pao Rock Oolong Dry Leaves

The dry leaves of the Da Hong Pao are a uniform hazy black color, with few lighter brown stems. The leaves are fairly long and twisted. Some leaves are attached to the stem, but most are detached. There appears to be a generous amount of unbroken leaves, but some appear to be large fragments. The leaves feel very dry and crispy, results of the increased roasting period. The aroma consists of roasted chestnuts, leather, wood, caramelized sugar, and a slight earthy, undergrowth scent.

Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in a seventeen ounce (500 ml) cast-iron tetsubin. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). Leaves were infused for three minutes.

TeaVivre Da Hong Pao Rock Oolong 1st Infusion
TeaVivre Da Hong Pao Rock Oolong 1st Infusion

The first infusion had a golden-yellow color with an orange tint. The infusion was clear and transparent. The aroma had a roasty character, with scents of wood, flowers, and caramelized sugar. The body is medium, with a nicely balanced feel. The taste had notes of roasted chestnuts, flowers, and wet stones. There was a slight astringency to the infusion. One unusual and interested effect of this infusion was the mineral feel that remains on the tongue. The aftertaste has a great floral essence to it, but the mineral is more of an effect than a taste.

TeaVivre Da Hong Pao Rock Oolong 2nd Infusion
TeaVivre Da Hong Pao Rock Oolong 2nd Infusion

The second infusion has a lighter shade of golden-yellow, with less of an orange tint. The aroma remains roasty, but the floral scents have become more apparent. The taste has changed some, with the floral, mineral, and wet stones becoming more apparent, while maintaining a lighter note of roasted chestnuts and wood. The sweetness seems to be more fruity than sugary with this infusion. The aftertaste maintains the nice flowery essence.

TeaVivre Da Hong Pao Rock Oolong 3rd Infusion
TeaVivre Da Hong Pao Rock Oolong 3rd Infusion

The third infusion again lightened in color to a light golden-yellow, with no orange tint. The aroma remains largely the same as the second infusion, with a slight lightening of the roasted scent, and the floral and mineral scents remaining prominent. The body has lightened some. The taste again has lightened on the roasted chestnuts, and retains the floral, mineral, and wet stones notes. A slight sweetness remains also.

TeaVivre Da Hong Pao Rock Oolong Infused Leaves
TeaVivre Da Hong Pao Rock Oolong Infused Leaves

The infused leaves display two colors, dark green and a purplish brown. The leaves vary in size. There are many unbroken leaves, and some large fragments. The leaves have a wet and soft leather feel to them. The durability of the leaves suggests that additional infusions can produce an acceptable infusion. The scent of the leaves is very floral and somewhat fruity, with a slight woodsy undergrowth scent, similar to wet stones. I will be infusing these leaves at least one more time.

This Da Hong Pao Wuyi Rock Oolong from TeaVivre had everything that I look for in a rock wulong. The roasty character, strong floral essence, and perfect balance of floral, mineral, and sweet tastes make for a very pleasant review for me. Although I cannot say that this is the very best Wuyi Rock wulong that I have had, I can say that for the price that TeaVivre charges, it gives most of the important features with a more affordable price tag than the other that I speak of, which was quite expensive. This tea lasted four infusions using the steeping method specified above, with each infusion having slightly different and enjoyable characteristics.

Thank you, TeaVivre, for giving me the opportunity to review your Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe) Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea.

Yun Nan Dian Hong Black Tea from Teavivre

After the successful review of the Jin Xuan Milk Oolong from Teavivre, I have been highly motivated to dive in to the other samples. Although the Da Hong Pao Rock Wulong keeps calling me, the Yun Nan Dian Hong black tea is more appropriate for this early morning review.

I have to give Teavivre credit on their website. They have a very helpful amount of information, complete with reviews, for each of their teas. A link to the information they provide on this Yun Nan Dian Hong black tea is available here. I will note a few details here. This black tea is hand-made in the Fengqing region of Yunnan Province, China. According to the TeaVivre website, Fengqing is the origination point of Yunnan black teas. Below is a map of Yunnan Province, China. Image is courtesy of the TeaVivre website.

Map of Yunnan Province, China (Courtesy of TeaVivre.com)
Map of Yunnan Province, China (Courtesy of TeaVivre.com)

The appearance of abundant bright golden tips in the sample pack has me excited, so let the journey begin…

Yun Nan Dian Hong Black Tea Dry Leaves
Yun Nan Dian Hong Black Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves of this tea are mostly bright gold, with some dark brown to black. The leaves appear to be almost entirely buds. The few pieces that do have any additional leaves included with the bud show a fine pluck, where only the first leaf down from the bud is picked. The buds and leaves are nicely twisted. The buds are softer to the touch than most black teas. The aroma has scents of sweet hay, caramel, and a light dried fruit (raisin) scent. The aroma also has a bakey character to it.

Four grams of dry leaves were placed in an 8.5 ounce (240 ml) kyusu teapot. Filtered tap water was heated to 190°F (90°C). Leaves were infused for four minutes.

Yun Nan Dian Hong Black Tea 1st Infusion
Yun Nan Dian Hong Black Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion had a dark orange-red color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of caramel, citrus, dried fruit, and lightly floral. The liquor is full-bodied, with a velvety smooth feel. The taste has notes of citrus, raisins, caramel, and light malt. The finish has notes of malt and cocoa, and the aftertaste is sweet and lingering.

Yun Nan Dian Hong Black Tea 2nd Infusion
Yun Nan Dian Hong Black Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion had a lighter shade of orange-red color. The aroma changed rather significantly, lightening on the citrus scents, and gaining strength on the raisin scent. There are also scents of honey, and a touch of black pepper. The taste also lightened on the citrus notes, but otherwise retained the notes of raisins, malt, and caramel. The aftertaste took a slightly floral turn, but also had the sweet notes of the first infusion in a lighter form. This change of character was very surprising in a good way. These two infusions were like two different teas, both of which were very good.

Yun Nan Dian Hong Black Tea 3rd Infusion
Yun Nan Dian Hong Black Tea 3rd Infusion

The third infusion had a bright orange color, significantly lighter than the second infusion. The aroma retained scents of raisins, honey, and black pepper. The body has lightened to medium, but retained the velvety smooth feel. The taste again lightened on the citrus notes, and notes of raisins and other fruits began to come forward. The aftertaste continues to turn to the floral side and lightened on the sweet notes. Again, this third infusion was quite different from the other two.

Yun Nan Dian Hong Black Tea Infused Leaves
Yun Nan Dian Hong Black Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves had a uniform copper color. The number of buds far outnumbered the fine plucked leaves with buds. Almost all buds and leaves are whole, with only a few fragments found. The aroma has scents of raisins and malt, and is an overall sweet aroma. The buds and leaves feel as though they could provide an additional infusion or two.

This Yun Nan Dian Hong black tea from TeaVivre is a very high quality tea. The aroma, color, and taste of the liquor are all very welcoming. The layers of taste that seemed to come with each infusion were very different, interesting, and all were thoroughly enjoyable. The change of tastes from citrus to raisins to other fruits was very interesting. Another TeaVivre review has been completed, and another recommendation is in order. This is certainly a tea that should be experienced. Thank you, TeaVivre, for including this tea in the samples! Highly recommended.