Premium Keemun Hao Ya from Teavivre . . . .

Tea heads are often asked if they have a “desert island list” of (usually) ten teas that they would want to have with them if they were stranded on a desert island. The thought of just ten teas makes them shudder, but after shaking off the horror they generally get to work thinking about what would be on that list. How to choose when there are so many we love?

I can tell you right now that “a good Keemun” would be the first thing on that list for me.

Keemun is a highly variable tea type. The word itself is a variation on Qimen, which is the name of the area in which it is grown. As with most teas, there are many grades available. Interestingly, many people have a great love for particular grades and not necessarily the highest and most expensive ones.

Teavivre sells many grades of Keemun tea and they all have their fans. Some of the very highest grades are fragrant and redolent with aromas of wine and chocolate. They can be fruity and even a bit floral. These tend to be lighter and more delicate, with less smoke. Most Keemun teas recommend steeping at lower temperatures and shorter times than other black teas.

While I love the top tier Keemun teas for afternoon tea or evening treat, I want a good Hao Ya with my breakfast, especially if there is maple syrup or something sweet on the table. This one is a premium Hao Ya – fancier than a Hao Ya B or an unnamed English Breakfast, it has the strong aroma and layers of flavor I love.

A good Keemun is raspy, by which I mean that it drags across my tongue with presence, leaving a dry, cocoa-y taste. I don’t mean drying like the astringency of a high grown Ceylon. I wouldn’t really define it as briskness, either. It is deeper and darker, far more enjoyable and impressive to me. There is a hint of smoke, a bit of cocoa, even a little malt in this Premium Grade tea, with the barest floral undertones.

It resteeps well, and I can get my large breakfast cup filled with just one teaspoon of leaf steeped twice, and since it only steeps for a short time, my food doesn’t get cold while I make my tea.

There are a lot of good Keemuns at Teavivre. For me, this is one of the best. If you are in America and this review has made you impatient to get some, go to their website, choose “Teas in the US Warehouse” and choose the zip bag. It will get to you much, much quicker! You can always order the tin later…and you will probably want to. Just be sure you order your refill in plenty of time so you don’t run out!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Teavivre
Description

Rated as the best of Chinese black teas, Keemun is an absolute delight to drink. TeaVivre’s premium Keemun Hao Ya represents the highest quality of this tea generally available to the public, and has a taste, aroma, and appearance that more than justify its reputation as one of the best black teas in the world. Handmade in Keemun’s birthplace of Qimen, this tea is truly astounding.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Keemun Imperial Black Tea from Teavivre. . . .

Keemun Imperial Black Tea is one of the more expensive Keemun offerings from Teavivre. Spoiler alert regarding the upcoming review….I am placing it on my re-order list right now.

The instructions on my packet of leaves said to make it at 185F and steep for about three minutes. I hesitated about following those instructions because it is out of the norm for how I make my black teas, but I do usually go with 195F for Keemun teas, so I followed their recommendation and lowered the temp a bit more. Crossing fingers because oh, how I love my Keemun teas!

First sip, and immediately I heard a song playing in my head….”I’ll stop the world and melt with you…”. Oh my goodness. Stop. Breathe. Close,your eyes. Hug in a cup, comforting shawl, slipping into a warm bubble bath, whatever floats your boat as metaphor for a riveting tea experience, here it is.

This smells like TEA. Rich, lovely, calming, soothing TEA. Baked sweet potato, bread-y and malty, burnt caramel, and the lightest waft of smoke that is probably just an image coming from the gentle briskness that gives that tiny rasp on the tongue that lets you know you are having a Keemun, all somehow swimming in a very light-bodied liquor. As I sip more, the briskness grows a little, and I find this a perfect tea to sip with my chocolate chip and pecan scone.

It’s going to be a good day.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Teavivre
Description

The fresh leaves for making this tea grew in the original producing area of Keemun tea, at an average elevation of 800 m above sea level. The one bud with one leaf (which just starts to open up, called Chu zhan “初展”) is hand-plucked for making this tea around the Chinese season of Qing Ming in early spring days. These fresh first-plucking leaves for making are loaded with nutrients and hence the finished dry leaves are neat and bold with high percentage of tiny golden tips. There is a sweet, mellow taste which creates a pleasant smooth sensation in your mouth. Overall, the first infusion of this tea is high in roasted sweet potato flavor mixed somewhat flower aroma, the second infusion is very mellow and the third infusion‘s lingering sweet and fragrant aftertaste will give you more enjoyment.

 

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Superfine Tanyang gongfu black tea from Tea Vivre . . . .

I’m learning to love unflavored teas this year, and this beautiful offering from Tea Vivre really makes my job easy! Without even opening the bag, I’m already impressed with the gaiwan tea ceremony directions and WOW! The heritage on this tea is amazing, down to the day of when and where it was harvested (April 8, 2017). The gongfu style black tea is named after where it was grown, Tanyang Village in Fujian, of South East China.

The adventure continues as I reveal Twisted ropes of gold and brown… I’ve never seen this type of tea before, it’s actually soft with some fuzzies on it. A green-thumbed friend of mine called this style of leaves “pubescent”, meaning they were just barely mature.

Still dry, they offer a light, clear, inviting scent, like fresh sweet peas in the garden. I decided to taste a leaf, (they make coffee bean snacks so it’s not that crazy to do, right??) and we are reminded of the chocolate noodles they sample out of Pikes place market.

The walnut colored brew offers a hint of honey taste though none was added. I never expected this sort of delicate leaf to be so powerful! They say the longer you brew this style, the mellower the flavor will be, which is quite the opposite of most teas I’ve had, and it’s completely true!! Now I’m curious about the actual chemistry of tannins etc… oh the rabbit holes of science we can get caught up in…
It is “zero percent bitter” and easy to drink (Hanley, R.,2017). There is a refreshing aftertaste, maybe a subtle hint of wintergreen. This tea doesn’t have much of an aftertaste but I tended to wait a while between sips because this tea was just so transcendental that I couldn’t help but daydream about it.

If ever you need to impress someone with a tea, this is the one!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black, loose leaf
Where to Buy: TeaVivre

Being the first one among Fujian’s three best Gong Fu Black Teas (Bai Lin Gong Fu, Zheng He Gong Fu, Tan Yang Gong Fu), Tan Yang Gong Fu Black Tea has tight and thin leaves, looks glossy, which could be seen from TeaVivre’s product photo. When looking at this tea, the golden pekoe is particularly eye-catching, strongly connected to its high quality. Under the effect of photosynthesis, fresh buds contain the largest amount of beneficial substances than other parts. Moreover, the traditional making method of black tea has retained the nutrition in the most volume.

Black tea is renowned with it red leaves and red liquid. The liquid of Tan Yang Gong Fu is bright red, and clean, which brings you a feeling of pureness. The flavor will vary based on different amount of teas and time of infusion. If using gai wan to brew in traditional Chinese way (Recommend Brewing Guide), you will sense the sweet and mellow flavor, and feel a quick sweet aftertaste in your throat. The aroma of Tan Yang Gong Fu will float around you for a long time.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Nonpareil Anxi Qing Yiang Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea by Teavivre . . . . .

I steeped about half the sample packet (or a little over half) in about 10 ounces of water at 212 degrees for about 6 minutes.

It smells indisputably delicious as it starts to brew. Buttery, creamy, smooth, and rich. Also a tiny bit seaweedy/vegetal/grassy, but that’s subsumed by the butteriness.

The packet says to brew 4-10 minutes, which means it’s probably great for resteeping since you only need to steep it about 5-6 minutes in my experience (and with a little less water it would be less). So if you’re in the mood to re-steep, this might be a good choice for you. (As opposed to when you’re on the road or something and resteeping isn’t convenient.)

I started out using a tea ball to contain the leaves, but after a couple of minutes it became clear that wasn’t going to work out because they were just expanding too much so I let them out. Next time I’d just put them directly in the water or use a brew basket. That way I’d be able to watch them unroll too, which is always fun.

After steeping, I ended up with a nice light yellowish-green liquid (hard to say the exact shade though because I was using a green mug). It smells the tiniest bit flowery in addition to the buttery flavor.

The combo of green and creamy flavors reminds me a bit of matcha actually, although it’s gentler here and less vegetal in flavor. This is a very well-rounded flavor profile, with the bright, floral, and creamy notes complementing each other in a balanced and enjoyable fashion. Each sip is amazing. The floral bit catches your nose as you go to take a sip; the creaminess is there the whole time, and you taste the green/vegetal bit during the sip, and afterwards there’s even a slightly sweet aftertaste. And I don’t even prefer unroasted oolongs as a rule, so I’m extremely impressed with this tea and how much I enjoyed it! Teavivre has done an amazing job with this one as usual!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Oolong
Where to Buy:  Teavivre
Description

This tea is no longer available but click below for teas that are available.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Yunnan Gongfu Fragrant Black Tea from Teavivre. . . .

It is gray and overcast with rain threatening to move in and stay a while. That’s a real tea day in my book!

But my breakfast tea caused extreme pain to my delicate esophagus, which has endured years of reflux. I have tossed out that cup and moved on to try this.

I love Teavivre’s Yunnan Dian Hong Golden Tip tea. It is a staple in this house. I am betting this one will be good, too!

First, the dry leaves live up to that title – fragrant, indeed!

Steeped western style, I have a hearty, rich cup. I used 190F water and steeped for three minutes, but this is still strong enough that if left in the cup, you would have a ring. The taste starts out almost too mild for me. The sweet potato flavor of Dian Hong Golden is there, but there is also a flavor of roasted sweet potato with a little crispy burnt edge and fruitiness as well. The fruitiness is a really a brisk tingle that lingers on and on. The flavor builds with each sip.

The best part is that my esophagus is happy and I can enjoy the view out the window as I wait for the rain to begin with my warm cuppa!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Teavivre
Description

Gong Fu fragrance black tea is a tasty spring tea with infusion-enduring taste. The first two infusions have soft, mellow mouthfeel with slight sugar cane sweetness in the throat and at the bottom of cup a hint of milky flavor remains. But from the third infusion it presents a flavor, reminiscent of raw pu-erh tea, helping produce saliva.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!