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Tag: Teavivre

My Favourite Teas Ever

Teavivre is one of my favourite tea companies, and when they have a sale, I always try to take advantage of it. They’re having a sale right now to celebrate their 6th anniversary, and it’s wrapping up tomorrow. So, while there’s still time, let me tell you about my favourite teas ever, the ones I always want to keep in my cupboard, whether they’re from Teavivre or other tea companies.

Peach Jasmine Dragon Pearls from Teavivre

Jasmine pearls are a tea staple, but I love the twist that Teavivre provides by flavouring them with peach. The peach is subtle, but it’s there, and the first steep or two always has a slight fruit hint to it. Subsequent steeps are just jasmine-flavoured, but hey, that’s still a win.

This is one the teas I keep with me at work since it’s so dependable. I just bought a whopping 300 grams of it! Part of that will be given as gifts to others, but I’ll be keeping at least half for myself. I bet I could make 150 grams last all year at work, especially since I can steep a single serving for at least two days in a row.

Superfine Tan Yang Gong Fu Black Tea from Teavivre

Yes, the name is a mouthful, but the tea itself is an even better one. It’s more expensive than some of Teavivre’s other offerings, but it’s so good. Quite possibly my favourite tea EVER. When you brew it up just right, it smells like dark chocolate, and it tolerates rough treatment well. Steep it too long? Add too much leaf? Use boiling water? No problem, it’s flexible. The only thing that doesn’t work is using water that’s too cool. Then it just tastes like muck.

Laoshan Black Tea from Yunnan Sourcing

Yunnan Sourcing refreshes their tea every season, so the batches may undergo some changes, and the URLs aren’t static. But, that aside, you can always just search for “laoshan black” on their site and see what comes up.

The Laoshan black tea that I have from them tastes chocolaty, but there’s also an alkalinity to it that reminds me of bread and biscuits. So, chocolate biscuits. And, like the Superfine Tan Yang Gong Fu above, it’s pretty forgiving of brewing mistakes.

Le Digestif from David’s Tea

David’s Tea is ubiquitous in Canada, and now that Teavana is closing, it looks like its place at the top of the heap is secure. Thus, it’s easy to assume that as Canada’s “gateway” purveyor of tea, its stuff is meant only for noobs.

Which is sad, because there are some genuine gems that are part of David’s Tea’s permanent collection, and Le Digestif is one of them.

I mean, if they ever decide to discontinue this tea, I will WEEP. I have a lot of digestive problems, and Le Digestif, with its mix of mint, fennel, ginger and mango, is one of the only teas out there that regularly makes my stomach feel better. It may be an acquired taste, especially if you hate fennel, but it WORKS.

Forever Nuts from David’s Tea

You need to add some agave syrup to this to really get it going, but when you do, Forever Nuts tastes like coziness personified. The apple, the cinnamon, the almond, the pastry flavouring! It’s hard to go wrong here.

Cranberry Orange Cider Rooibos from 52Teas

Dear Anne, I beg you, please make this cider part of your permanent collection at 52Teas. I went gaga over it when I reviewed it in 2015. I have restocked this at least twice, and I’m holding on to my last 30 grams like Scrooge because I don’t know what I’ll do when I finally finish what’s left in my tin.

30 Days of Reviews: Black Tartary Buckwheat Tea from Teavivre

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). In the spirit of the month, instead of writing 50,000 words in 30 days, I’m going to write a short review every day, up to a maximum of 300 words. Think of it is NaNoReMo (National Novel Review Month). This month I’ll do short reviews of books, varieties of tea, and even individual short stories as the mood strikes. So read on!

Teavivre is one of my favourite vendors because their tea is pretty good without being too expensive. I’ve been a customer of theirs for at least a few years. However, tonight’s tea from them, Black Tartary Buckwheat Tea, is a miss for me.

What surprises me is that I normally love this stuff. Roasty, toasty, grain-y, warm — buckwheat tea is comfort food in liquid form. So where did this variety go wrong?

It looked pretty good from the outside – the buckwheat grains looked whole and plump and golden, with a slight patina of dust after sitting in the packaging for so long.


It smelled decent, too: warm, rich, and savoury, like peanut butter slathered on hearty bread.

I boiled some water, took the entire 10-gram package, and let it steep for 2-3 minutes. The brew bubbled merrily all the while.


The smell while it was brewing was good, too: warm and toasty and like cereal. However, this was when I noticed some problems, as the aroma lacked depth. It felt very top-level inside my nose.

The final brewed product was a rich yellow liquid. But oh man, that lack of depth really came through on the first sip. I wanted to be kicked in the mouth by the savoury, grain-like punch of buckwheat, but all I got was something weak and flat. I want my buckwheat tea to give me the kind of depth and maternal comfort that you’d expect from Molly Weasley. But I got something pale and flighty like Luna Lovegood. (I’m sorry, HP fans, but while Luna is awesome, I’d never feel comfortable with anything she gave me to drink.)


So, yeah, this tea was a  disappointment. If you’re looking for something better, I’d recommend this buckwheat tea from Yunnan Sourcing or this one from Yunomi.

A tea set sitting on a tray. Source: > Tea Pictures

Celebrating Five Years of Teavivre

A tea set sitting on a tray. Source: > Tea Pictures

A tea set sitting on a tray. Source: > Tea Pictures

In all of my talk about tea on here, I have rarely discussed the tea companies that I really love. You know — the ones who create great teas consistently. The ones whom I buy from repeatedly because I know their tea is good, rather than companies that I make one-off purchases from in order to write about here.

There are a few true-blue companies that I stay faithful to like that. But only a few. And Teavivre is one of them.

I have written about Teavivre on Books and Tea, but not often. And that’s a shame, because this summer they’re celebrating their fifth year in business with a series of contests and giveaways. So today I want to talk a little bit about them and tell you why they should be on your radar.

First, their stuff is very high quality. Their jasmine teas are well balanced, with a strong floral flavour that isn’t artificial. Their black teas are generally rich and dark, and their Superfine Tan Yang Gong Fu black tea, is, bar none, my favourite tea ever. It smells like dark chocolate when you brew it! Their Bi Luo Chun is soft and sweet, and their oolongs are also worth a long look.

One thing I really appreciate about them is that their labels have extremely detailed information, including the date the tea was harvested. They pack their teas in sturdy zip-lock pouches so they last for a long time on the shelf.

Second, Teavivre is amazing when it comes to samples. Every time you make an order, you’ll get free samples — and the bigger the order, the the more samples you can choose. Besides that, though, their sample sizes are generous, and you can make orders entirely of samples if you want.

They also offer a pretty standard rewards program, with points for every purchase that you can redeem for teas in the future. Over time, it’s entirely possible to get a sizable order for free if you have enough points.

Providing generous samples and a rewards program may not sound that revolutionary to you, but this is where the third reason behind Teavivre’s awesomeness comes in: amazing customer service. When I was starting out on Steepster and wrote a review saying that I didn’t enjoy one of their teas, they got in touch with me and asked if they could send me a variety of samples for free so I could find out what I liked.

I said yes, of course. And then they did it again a few months later, with a different set of teas entirely! Both times, they sent me 20 grams’ worth of 3-4 different tea varieties — a treasure trove, considering the quality of their teas in general.

On top of that, there have been several instances where, a few weeks after making an order, a Teavivre representative has emailed me personally to ask if my package arrived on time. I normally choose the free shipping option — which usually takes 3-4 weeks to arrive from China — so this extra touch is particularly appreciated.

What’s more, the one time I made an order and wasn’t satisfied with what I ordered, I contacted them about it and they responded quickly, telling me that I could get a refund if I shipped the items back to them. However, they noted that the shipping cost would probably be high, so they recommended that I keep the items or give them to someone else. I appreciated their forethought so I decided to give the items away. They then  gave me some reward points in recognition of the inconvenience.

I joined Steepster in January 2014 and made my very first Teavivre order a few weeks after that. I’ve been buying from them for half the company’s lifespan. That’s a pretty good relationship!

So, yes, I love Teavivre. I am so happy that they’ve been in business for 5 years. And they’re going to do a pretty sweet series of giveaways and sales until August 8th. If you want to try some high-quality Chinese tea but are worried about spending a lot of money or buying a big pile of something you may not like, their upcoming anniversary sale, plus their policy regarding samples, makes now the perfect time to get started.

Seriously. What are you still doing here? Check their stuff out!

Fengqing Ancient Tree Spring Chun Jian Raw Pu-erh Cake Tea 2012

Tea Review: Fengqing Ancient Tree Spring Chun Jian Raw Pu-erh Cake Tea 2012 from Teavivre

About This Tea

Fengqing Ancient Tree Spring Chun Jian Raw Pu-erh Cake Tea 2012Tea type: Raw (sheng) pu’erh, loose-leaf, broken off from a pu’erh cake

How I got it: This tea was provided to me for free from Teavivre in exchange for a review.

How you can get it: Fengqing Ancient Tree Spring Chun Jian Raw Pu-erh Cake Tea 2012 is available online from Teavivre.

Tea description from Teavivre’s website:

Combining the features of both Ming Qian and Yu Qian, with the excellent skills of tea makers, this Ancient Chun Jian Raw Puerh has an even shape, strong aroma and bright yellowish green color. It tastes soft of first sip. The flavor after is light bitter. Then it comes the sweet aftertaste after the swallowing of the liquid, which will stay in your mouth for a long time

How I Brewed It

Fengqing Ancient Tree Spring Chun Jian Raw dry leaf in gaiwanTeavivre delivers their samples in small foil packets. I took the entire contents of one packet of Fengqing Ancient Tree Spring Chun Jian Raw Pu-erh — about 10 grams — and poured it into a gaiwan. The dry leaf smelled smoky, leathery, mineral, and even slightly yeasty and tart like bread. The leaves themselves were dark and spindly, with flecks of gold and brown among the leathery black.

I brewed the tea using ~100°C water poured into a giant teapot — enough to make about a dozen steeps. The dry tea itself nearly filled the gaiwan halfway! I compensated by starting off with really short initial steeps. I gave the dried tea two short rinses and a rest of about 5 minutes to wake up. Then I gave the tea successive steeps of 10/10/12/10/12 seconds.

How Does It Taste?

Fengqing Ancient Tree Spring Chun Jian Raw brewed teaThe first steep of Fengqing Ancient Tree Spring Chun Jian Raw Pu-erh is a very clear, light orange-brown with no cloudiness. The tea itself is thin in my mouth and coats my tongue with bitterness at first. The aftertaste is also somewhat bitter, though I sense that the tea will change character over the next few steeps and become fuller and sweeter.

The second steep is still clear but is a slightly darker brown. It’s slightly more bitter than the first steep, and I’m also beginning to notice some astringency crinkling my tongue.

The third steep and fourth steeps are still bitter. I’m guessing I used too much leaf, but other reviews I had read of this tea said they used the same amount, so I’m not sure what’s going on. The bitterness is somewhat tart and smoky as well.

And now I’m getting a bit of a stomachache and maybe even some heartburn. Yippee.

The fifth steep is starting to lighten up somewhat, but by this point I’m just going to accept that I botched the preparation by using a whole sample packet. I probably would have done much better with 5 grams in the gaiwan rather than 10. On the plus side, the leaves have really started to expand and become a deep olive green colour.

Fengqing Ancient Tree Spring Chun Jian Raw wet leaf in gaiwan

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