I had seen the Teavivre logo floating around the internet, but before I received their sample pack in the mail, I’d never before tried a Teavivre tea. When I broke open the big package they sent, the little individually sealed packets that tumbled out reminded me of a care package a kind dorm mate in London had once sent me from her favourite tea fields in China—packages just the right size for a gaiwan, or great to throw in your bag (if you’re a gaiwan-carrying nerd, like me).
Teavivre is a small company based in Fujian Province, China. Their founders come from China, Canada (yay!), and France, but all live in China where they ship their teas globally. Of course, as a tea nerd I appreciate that their website identifies little things like the harvest dates for each tea, bought directly from producers. They also have a selection of oolong teas from Taiwan (which is technically under the governance of the PRC, so there you go).
Time to jump in and ‘taste’ drive some of these classic Chinese teas.
Bai Hao Yin Zhen (White Hair Silver Needle)
One of China’s 10 famous teas, these fuzzy little leaflings always remind me of butterfly cocoons. The silver fuzz on the outside is where they get their name. This March 2016 harvest comes from Fuding City in Fujian Province.
The pale yellow liquor was very bright, with a delicate hint of peach, fresh pea shoot sweetness and a mild apricot taste. I always cup my hands over my cups of bai hao yin zhen to make a little ‘aroma dome’ so I can get all the scent in my nose.
Preparation: 75˚ C, 5 minute steep in gaiwan.
Superfine Anxi Qing Xiang Tie Guan Yin Oolong
Well, this name is certainly a mouthful. Hailing from Yunzhong Mountain in Anxi County near Quanzhou City in Fujian province, this May 2017 harvest comes in a bagged portion just the perfect size for your gaiwan.
The yellow-green liquor has that pleasant ‘greenhouse’ smell that I love in lightly oxidized oolongs, which is a kind of wet, hot, orchid smell. This mellow tea had a light vegetalness; full, milky, body; and made me crave something salty to eat with it. I feel a cheese pairing coming on. Like a smoked gouda? Yeah. Smoked gouda.
Preparation: 90˚ C, 4 minute steep in gaiwan.
Bailin Gongfu Black Tea
This cheery little tea was the last of my tasting and pleasant surprise, one I’d never tried before. This tea comes from Fuding DaBai and Da Hao trees on Mt. Taimu in Fujian province and was harvested in April 2016.
It had a reddish-brown colour when brewed and had a smooth, sweet taste with a hint of malt and caramel. Maybe a smidgen of cherry. There was a full mouth taste with next to no astringency. Super refreshing and a nice change.
Preparation: 90˚ C, 3 minute steep in gaiwan.
This was a nice little flight through China, I wonder what’s your favourite place to travel through tea? Do you ever sip a nice oolong and pretend you’re in a tea house in Taiwan, or brew an Assam and pretend you’re sitting on a deck in West Bengal, or make matcha and imagine yourself at a Japanese temple? Share your thoughts in the comments—I want to know where your (tea) flights take you.