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).
Tea lovers will appreciate Teavivre’s regional focus on traditional and organic production from China.
I first met founder Jeff Kovac when he was my instructor during the Tea 101 module of my tea sommelier training with the Tea Association of Canada.
When I first met him (via Skype), I was struck not only by how personable Jeff is, but also by his knowledge of Chinese tea and the Chinese tea industry.
He lived in China for a number of years, and his knowledge of the region gives the Four Seasons Tea Co. a unique advantage.
He knows everything about the tea he’s selling.
Both the Gan Lu and the Jasmine samples Jeff sent me come from Mt. Meng in Sichuan Province. Tea cultivation on Mt. Meng began over 2,000 years ago during the Han dynasty. It’s thought to be one of the first places on earth where tea was cultivated.
The leaves picked for the Four Seasons Tea Co.’s Meng Ding Gan Lu and their signature Snowflake Jasmine are grown in the misty peaks of the mountain. It’s about 800+ metres above sea level for the Gan Lu leaves, and 600-800 metres for those found in the Snowflake Jasmine.
[white_box]Fun Fact: Meng Ding is also the hometown of panda bears.[/white_box]
Meng Ding Gan Lu
Gan Lu means ‘sweet dew’. This tea from Mt. Meng is famous for its sweet aftertaste. People have been making it for thousands of years.
I can see right away that the curly, dry tea leaves have a light silver fuzz. This is a good sign.
A note from Jeff:
“In Sichuan, a lot of Meng Ding Gan Lu is blended with a Bai Hao cultivar. My teas are just high mountain tips ONLY. Not blended.”
Here is the unfurled leaf after infusion. The tips don’t lie.
I had a very pure, bright green-yellow liquor, with a clear, velvety soft taste. There is nothing blended in to dilute the flavour. It slides right over your tongue and hugs your mouth.
There’s a sweet but toasty aftertaste, like green peas or chestnuts.
I can see the jasmine flowers!
It’s funny, but this is an important checkmark for me. I’ve had jasmine tea that has no jasmine flowers in it. That always makes me suspicious – where is the scent supposed to come from?
Here, the tiny white buds unfurl beautifully along with the tea. Beautiful fragrance – not too heavy – and a nice, clean taste from the underlying tea. The warmth of the chestnut flavour works well with the floral.
This is a local favourite in Sichuan.
Jeff told me this Jasmine was incredible and I have to agree. I’m very picky with scented teas because I don’t usually drink them (Earl Grey being the exception), but I’ll definitely be finishing this sample.
Here are three different methods for preparation:
Gaiwan for short infusions: 3 g for 60 ml of water. Pour the tea from the gaiwan into another cup. Do longer and longer infusions. 6s, 8s, 10s, 14s… etc.
Gaiwan with tea: 3 grams for 120 ml of water. Sip and enjoy.
Tall glass with tea: 3 grams just about a cup of water. Leave the tea leaves in while you drink it.
Don’t make your water too hot. 80˚C should do the trick.
Try all three and let me know what you think. I tried both short infusions in the gaiwan, and in a tall glass (mason jar for me).
Four Seasons Tea Co.
This is a brand new Canadian tea company, and I’m very excited about them. I think Jeff will continue to produce high-quality tea informed by his knowledge of the Chinese tea industry, and I look forward to drinking more from them.
Right now they only sell their teas in 100g quantities. That might seem like a lot, but the quality is such that you’ll be wanting more to drink anyway.
Jeff was kind enough to include a discount code for readers to use on their website store. You can get 12% off your order by using the code: MelhadTea12
The code is valid for the next two weeks. From today until Friday, November 27.