I was recently contacted by the folks at Teavivre asking if I would be interested in sampling their tea. Naturally, I accepted the offer. With this crazy long winter we've been having, a hot cup of tea was just what I needed.
Teavivre was founded by a group of tea lovers from China, Canada, and France, intent on sharing that love with the rest of the world, as evidenced by even their name. Combining their purpose - tea - and the French term for joy of living - Joie de vivre - results in Travivre. Who better to turn to for tea advice than someone whose life it brings joy to?? They are also seeking to incorporate more and more organic options into their roster, seeing the benefits and desire for more organics in the marketplace.
What I received by way of samples was a re-sealable pouch containing several smaller pouches of the following five different loose-leaf teas, each with instructions as to their proper brewing times and temperatures:
Descriptions taken from website - click titles/names to follow links ...
Organic Superfine Keemun Fragrant Black Tea
The most popular black tea in China and considered one of the finest teas in the world. Keemun Fragrance Black Tea has a very smooth taste, companied with its unique Keemun Fragrance. Not only that, this Keemun Fragrant Black Tea shows a better shape. The fruity and floral flavor will make you love this unique Keemun Fragrant Black Tea.
This tea is what I would associate with a dine-in linen-napkin style Chinese restaurant here in the states. This was a very comforting tea (perhaps by bringing me back to all those family nights out to dinner as a kid) requiring no added sweeteners, etc. It does strike me as odd - growing up in Massachusetts, we had many nice Chinese restaurants where you would dine in off a regular restaurant menu, be served a hot pot of tea, etc. When I moved to Louisiana, I found that most of the Chinese restaurants were buffet or pizzeria-style. Where I live now in NY, again, most of the Chinese restaurants are pizzeria or cafeteria style.
Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea
A fabulous tasting green tea from Anhui. With uniquely shaped large flat leaves, TaiPing HouKui is quite different from other green teas and is thought of as one of China's top ten teas. Our tea comes from the village of HouKeng, where the tea was first developed.
This was the tea I was most curious to try because of it's interesting leaves. Although this tea may be one of China's top ten, to my taste buds, it was bitter. I tried adding first honey, then a bit of cream (didn't want to add lemon/acid to a bitter drink), but still didn't care for this one.
Higher Quality than our premium dragon pearl green tea, this Superfine Jasmine Downy Dragon Pearls Green Tea tastes more deliciously sweet. It combines the absolute highest quality tea with a sweet jasmine aroma and taste. Completely hand crafted into small pearls, this tea is amazing to drink and watch as it brews.
This was the tea I was the second-most curious about, and one of my favorites. Never mind drinking it, I wanted to bathe in this one!!!!!! It wasn't that cloying perfume scent of jasmine, but a very light, almost dreamy scent. As much as I enjoyed taking in the aroma while the tea was steeping, I was afraid I wouldn't enjoy drinking it because of the association with perfume, hand lotion, etc. It turned out to be delicious, sweetened with just a touch of honey.
Fengqing Ripened Tribute Pu-erh Cake Tea 2013
This Pu-erh Cake Tea was made in 2013. Compressed into round, flat, disc shape, this tea cake individually wrapped 400g per cake. It has a complex mellow earthy flavor with a sweet aftertaste.
There's not a whole lot I can say about this one. I found it to be rather blah. To be honest, while steeping, it stuck me that it had the aroma of boiling pasta. Drinking it was much the same. I tried sugar, honey, lemon, even a bit of cream, but this one just did nothing for me. It is interesting to watch though - if you go to the Teavrivre website, you will find a video of how these tea cakes are formed.
This slightly sweet tea would be the one I would most likely reach for as my every-day tea. One problem for me with drinking tea is that I want to enjoy its natural flavor but usually need to add something to it, which often drowns that out. Meaning, with some teas, by the time I'm finished adding sugar, agave, milk, etc., to make it not seem as though I'm drinking dirty water, I've washed away the flavor of the tea. This is a tea that stands on its own quite well., and although I didn't taste this, when brewing, it had a very faint scent of roses, which made it nice just to have in the kitchen.
I would say, as a self-professed Dunkin Junkie (coffee lover), that three out of five is a darn good showing for tea, especially when you factor in the cultural difference in flavor profiles. Our taste buds are much more programmed for sweet than other cultures, which could have something to do with why the Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea is a favorite in China but to me tasted bitter. Teavivre offers many more tea options, including such things as:
- Blueberry Fruit Tea
- Golden Monkey Black Tea
- Waterlilies Fruit Tea
- Rose Dian Hong Black Tea
- White Peony (Bai MuDan) Tea
- Strawberry Oolong Tea
- Aged Chenpi Ripened Tangerine Pu-erh 2009
- Royal Lily Flower Tea
In addition to the products offered by this group of tea lovers, their website provides interesting information about the different teas - from their health benefits to how to select the highest quality tea, to tea house culture.
It's interesting to see how seriously people take their tea. I never gave any more thought to it than whether I enjoyed the flavor, but really, it's a lot like wines in that a lot goes into it behind the scenes.
Thinking about it now makes me curious about what happened to all the hot tea drinkers down south? You always see vintage images of ladies sitting in the parlor serving hot tea and biscuits, etc., but just about every tea drinker who has passed through the south and ordered a cup of tea knows that you will be served a tall cold glass of sweet tea (some teas are more suited to being iced than others). If you were to tour any of the plantations, you would likely be shown some sort of tea safe/chest which was used to store/hide tea during the civil war and beyond, when tea was at a premium. Southerners may also take their tea very seriously, but they prefer it iced.
Whether you are an avid tea drinker looking to branch out, or are just starting to consider teas, Teavivre is a great place to begin. With lots of options to choose from and free samples as a bonus, how can you go wrong?
A big thanks to the folks at Teavivre to introducing me to some great new teas. Although the samples were provided to me, this is not a paid post, and all opinions are my own.