Review: Teavivre - Authentic Chinese Teas


Teavivre is a small company run by a multi-national group of tea aficionados based in China, where they have a direct relationship with the local tea growers. They stock a wide variety of authentic Chinese teas - white, green, black, oolong and pu-erh - and also offer several fruit, herbal and flower teas.

Teavivre's loose leaf teas come in a large resealable bag with a smaller foil bag inside. This type of packaging insures that your tea will be fresh and protected from light and air, and you can re-use the outer bag when the tea is done (I use mine to store flower and vegetable seeds I've been trading and collecting for my garden). The tea ships from China, and in my experience it didn't take long to arrive; it took less than two weeks to travel from China to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States. is an educational website and store with a wealth of information about tea, including documentation for where their leaves are sourced and photos of the plantations. There is also a brewing guide for preparing tea using the classic Chinese method and teaware - Gongfu style - and also using a teapot, known as Western style.

I am reviewing these teas Western style using filtered water in a glass teapot so I can see how they brew and taste for the casual tea drinker. Ultimately, I do suggest using the traditional methods and teaware that each variety warrants, but it's not mandatory to have these things to enjoy a good cup of tea. It is, however, very important to pay attention to appropriate brewing temperatures and times for each tea - it makes a huge difference in the taste. Once you are familiar with a tea you can adjust the parameters to suit your palate.


Premium Keemun Hao Ya Black Tea
Leaves: medium length black rolled with golden tips
Amount: 1 tsp. leaves per 8 oz. water
Temperature: 195 degrees
Time: 3 minutes
Liquor: orangey, amber-colored
Nose: dried apricot and smoke
Taste: malty and woody with a subtle smoky taste
Additions: none

I am not a fan of smoky teas, so when I first smelled Teavivre's Premium Keemun Hao Ya black tea I wasn't sure I'd like it, but this tea is quite good. It's definitely the smokiest Keemun I've had, but its taste is much more subtle than the aroma lead me to believe - for me, malt was the predominant note with touches of smoke, wood and fruit in the background. I usually drink Keemun during the colder months, but I sipped on a cup of this tea while eating a cucumber sandwich (I'm testing a menu and recipes for an Afternoon Tea celebration in June), and it was a wonderful pairing. Unlike some black teas, Teavivre's Premium Keemun did not get bitter as it cooled. I brewed this Keemun four times, adding 30-60 seconds with each steeping.


Tie Guan Yin "Iron Goddess" Oolong Tea
Leaves: hand rolled, jade green
Amount: 3 tsp leaves per 8 oz water
Temperature: 212 degrees
Time: 3 minutes
Liquor: pale yellow, darker for subsequent steepings
Nose: floral - orchid, honeysuckle
Taste: vegetal, floral, buttery
Additions: none

Tie Guan Yin is my favorite variety of oolong, and Teavivre’s offering is one of the better brews I’ve tasted. The three characteristics I crave in a Tie Guan Yin – buttery, floral, and vegetal – are present, but in the opposite order: at first this tea tastes almost like a straight green tea, but with a jasmine aroma and a faint buttery aftertaste (but not mouthfeel). As it cooled though, the butter became more pronounced, and then with my second, third and fourth steepings it moved to the forefront, even when hot. As I re-used the leaves I added 30 seconds to the brew time. The tea evolved during the first four steepings, then stayed consistent after that through six more cups of tea. A note about the temperature: I normally brew Tie Guan Yin at at around 190 degrees, but Teavivre suggests boiling water for a few of their oolongs, and it works well. This is an excellent Tie Guan Yin and a worthy addition to an Oolong lover’s tea chest. 


Taiwan Jin Xuan Milk Oolong Tea
Leaves: dark green tightly rolled buds
Amount: 3 tsp. leaves per 8 oz water
Temperature: 212 degrees
Time: 3 minutes
Liquor: pale greenish-yellow
Nose: lightly milky
Taste: vegetal, sweet, milky
Additions: ½ tsp. sugar per cup

In this Taiwan Jin Xuan Milk Oolong Tea from Teavivre the flavor and aroma is all natural – the milk notes are a result of the variety, how and where it is grown, and the way the leaves are processed. I first review all teas without additions – for me it’s the only way to get a true reading, and I think most teas taste best this way. However there are a few teas that I enjoy more with a bit of sweetener, and milk oolong is one of them. Unadorned, this Taiwan Jin Xuan Milk Oolong Tea was a very good cup with a vegetal taste and just the slightest hint of milk (milk oolongs without additives exhibit a light flavor). Add half a teaspoon of sugar and the creamy taste jumps forward. I drink a lot of milk oolong - I've tasted it from a lot of tea companies - and I think Teavivre's is delicious. I got seven tasty steeps from three teaspoons of leaves.


Organic Silver Needle White Tea (Bai Hao Yin Zhen)
Leaves: long, sage green pointed leaves with white fuzz
Amount: 2 tsp. leaves per 8 oz water
Temperature: 175
Time: 1 minute
Liquor: pale golden yellow
Nose: faintly floral, sweet hay, grass
Taste: smooth, clean
Additions: none

When the long, fuzzy leaves of Teavivre’s Organic Silver Needle White Tea (Bai Hao Yin Zhen) are dry they smell of sweet hay and flowers. Once they are brewed they smell… soupy? It’s something I can’t quite put my finger on. Of course the flavor isn’t soupy at all – to me the tea tastes exactly like the fragrance of freshly mown grass. It is delightful - smooth and light and just a tiny bit dry. As it cools something else comes into play – the aftertaste of raw almond? Again, I can’t quite place it, but it’s there, and I definitely like it. I got four steeps from this premium quality tea.


Jasmine “Dragon Pearls” Green Tea
Leaves: small hand-rolled “pearls”
Amount: 1 tsp. leaves per 8 oz water
Temperature: 175 degrees
Time: 1 minute
Liquor: slight pale green tint, almost clear
Nose: jasmine flower
Taste: floral, sweet, light
Additions: none

I grow jasmine to make tisanes, and Teavivre's Jasmine “Dragon Pearls” Green Tea smells exactly like my flowers; it is lovely. The tea is “made from one bud and one new leaf, with obvious silver tips” and is hand-rolled into a pearl shape. It is very pretty. When I first added the pearls to my cup they floated, but as they started to unfurl they began to sink (the leaved fully opened by the third of five steepings). The flavor is delicate and light, but still distinct and present. The taste is straight-up jasmine with only the faintest trace of green tea in the aftertaste. I absolutely LOVE this Jasmine Dragon Pearl Green Tea by Teavivre - it  is delectable. I had to force myself to drink it slowly and savor it, instead of gulping it down. Outstanding.


Teavivre sent me tea samples to facilitate this review. I am very impressed with the high quality of their teas, and their website shows customer-friendly store policies and fair shipping rates.  I still have more to tell you about them, so stay tuned for future reviews of Teavivre's flower tea, fruit tea, and their pu-ehr.

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