Ti Kuan Yin A+ Grade Oolong Tea from Lin Farm

On September 10th of 2013, my journey through the world of tea tasting took me to Anxi County, in the south of Fujian Province, China. This sample was provided by Linda Lin of the Lin Family Farm.

Without a doubt, Anxi County is best known for it’s Ti Kuan Yin oolong tea, and most teaologists believe it to be the birthplace of this unique oolong. The Lin family specializes in the production of Ti Kuan Yin. As is the case with all tea farmers, the Lin’s produce various grades of their Ti Kuan Yin. This particular sample is their highest grade of A+. Based on the large size of these rolled leaves, and the appetizing smell, I am confident that this tea will live up to the grade.

In the interest of increasing my ability to post more reviews in a more time efficient manner, I have decided to change the template of future reviews. Being a stickler for uniformity is time consuming and tedious. However, I will try to touch on all of the same general points.

Let the journey begin…

The dry leaves of this Ti Kuan Yin oolong were obviously hand rolled, lightly oxidized. The size of the rolled balls was comparable to an average pea or corn kernel. The color ranged from fleshy to dark green. There was very little breakage, and very little stem, with no bare stems whatsoever. The aroma is vegetal and slightly bakey.

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For all three infusions, I will be using water heated to 190ºF (88ºC), and infusing the tea leaves for 2 minutes. I used the sample packet of 10 grams with my 25 ounce (740 ml) glass teapot, then strained in to a separate decanter.

First Infusion:

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The color of the first infusion is light, pale yellow, clear and transparent. The aroma is floral, vegetal, and slightly bakey. The taste was phenomenal, with a silky feel, medium to mild body, subtle notes of flowers, slightly vegetal and nutty, with a light and pleasant aftertaste. The taste was perfectly balanced, and gave a noticeable feeling of contentment. Definitely the best tasting Ti Kuan Yin that I have had in my life.

Second Infusion:

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The second infusion had a very slightly darker shade of pale yellow color, clear, and transparent. The aroma seems a little fuller, with pleasant vegetal and flowery fragrances, with a baked or roasted note. The taste was slightly fuller bodied, still silky and perfectly balanced floral, sweetly vegetal, and nutty tastes. Aftertaste is light. This second infusion was even better than the first, with a slightly fuller taste.

Third Infusion:

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Everything about this third infusion is nearly the exact same as the second infusion. I did not notice a single difference in the color or aroma. The taste was almost identical to the second infusion, but perhaps very slightly lighter in body, yet still fuller than the first infusion. I was very impressed by this third infusion, and am confident that this tea will produce tasteful fourth and fifth infusions, and perhaps more.

Infused Leaves:

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The infused leaves have a uniform medium to dark green color. The aroma is vegetal and bakey, and slightly sweet. Some of the leaves are quite large, and there are many perfectly intact leaves. There was maybe one or two stems, at most, in this entire pile of tea. I would say the amount of leaf fragments is about 40%, with a majority of unbroken leaves. The leaves are very structurally durable after three infusions, certainly worthy of another infusion or two.

To be honest, before I had this specific Ti Kuan Yin,  I was not very fond of this style of oolong. Others that I had were too light, or too vegetal, some tasting like cabbage broth. This one, however, could easily be ranked in my top ten teas. The Lin family did great work on this Ti Kuan Yin A+ grade oolong tea. If anyone is looking for a good birthday gift idea for me this year, I will just put you in contact with Linda Lin, and let her know I want a kilo for myself. If you order it now, it will arrive by my birthday. Thanks in advance for an awesome birthday gift! And thanks Linda Lin for giving me the opportunity to taste this exquisite Ti Kuan Yin.

Thank you for taking your time to read this review. Please leave a comment and start a discussion.

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Red Rhythm Black Tea from Easy Tea Hard Choice Co. Ltd.

On September 5th of 2013, my journey through the world of tea tasting took me to Sun Moon Lake in Yuchi Township, Nantou County, Taiwan. From this farm came the Red Rhythm black artisanal tea which is the subject of this review. This sample of Red Rhythm black tea was provided by Easy Tea Hard Choice Co. Ltd. For more information on Easy Tea Hard Choice, please visit their website here.

Sun Moon Lake is located at the center of Taiwan, in Nantou County, as shown in the map below. In the tea fields around Sun Moon Lake, this exquisite tea is grown, hand-plucked, and hand-twisted. According to the Easy Tea Hard Choice website, the leaves used in this black tea are plucked from a hybrid tea bush from two varietal bushes, the Kimen and Kyang. The dry leaves of this Red Rhythm black tea are unusually long, with some measuring over two inches (50 mm). It appears that the Kyang varietal bush has the characteristic of producing large leaves. Taiwan County Map

The moment this package was opened, my office was filled with a very sweet, fruity fragrance. Between the smell and appearance of the dry leaves, I am very excited to try this tea, so let the journey begin…

Date: 09/05/2013

Product Name: Red Rhythm Black Tea

Purchased From: Easy Tea Hard Choice Co. Ltd.

Origin: Sun Moon Lake, Yuchi Township, Nantou County, Taiwan

Type of Tea: Taiwan Black

Tea Leaf Characteristics Prior to Infusion:

Red Rhythm Dry Leaves

Aroma: Rich, sweet, fruity, citrusy. Slight floral fragrances. Exquisite aroma.

Dryness: Very dry. Leaves crack easily in to coarse crumbles.

Color: Perfectly uniform smokey black.

Texture: Very dry, slightly rigid long twisted leaves.

Size, Shape, Length: Unusually long, twisted leaves. Average length of 1.5 inches (36 mm), with longest leaf being slightly longer than 2 inches (52 mm). Very low level of breakage.

Unique Characteristics: Amazingly rich and fruity aroma. Unusually long, hand-plucked and hand-twisted leaves. Very low level of breakage. Possibly the most unique and obvious example of a black artisanal tea that I have seen. Very high quality.

Sampling Measurements:

Amount of Water: 18 ounces (532 ml)

Amount of Tea: 9 grams

Tea Liquor Evaluation:

First Infusion:

Red Rhythm 1st Infusion

Water Temperature: 200°F  (93°C)

Infusion Time: 2 Minutes and 0 seconds.

Aroma: Rich, room-filling, fruity, citrusy. Slight floral fragrances.

Color: Bright light amber. Clear. Transparent.

Taste: Fruity, citrusy (grapefruit). Mouth-filling and smooth, medium body. Mild bitterness balances fruity notes. Lingering aftertaste of both citrus and bitter.

Comments: The first sip of this tea lived up to all the expectations created by the aroma and appearance of the dry leaves. I only wish I would have brewed a larger pot. The aroma fills the room with citrus fragrances. The taste was so satisfying that there is absolutely no need for any additives like sugar or honey. This tea should be enjoyed as it is. Excellent. One characteristic that I expected a better result is the color of the liquor. Perhaps it was my fault with a shorter infusion time of 2 minutes instead of 3, but I expected a more colorful amber appearance. Thankfully, color is the least important aspect to me.

Second Infusion:

Red Rhythm 2nd Infusion

Water Temperature: 200°F  (93°C)

Infusion Time: 2 Minutes and 15 seconds.

Aroma: Very slightly lighter. Fruity, citrusy. Floral fragrances slightly more potent. Very pleasant aroma.

Color: Slightly darker amber than 1st infusion. Clear. transparent.

Taste: Fruity, citrusy (grapefruit). Smooth, medium body. Bitterness has lightened with fruitiness, retaining a great balance. Aftertaste is slightly lighter, but still lingering and pleasant.

Comments: Excellent 2nd infusion. Not quite as rich as the 1st infusion, but the citrusy and bitter notes lightened equally, keeping a great balance. I have no doubt that the 3rd infusion will be tasteful, and that a 4th may be possible.

Third Infusion:

Red Rhythm 3rd Infusion

Water Temperature: 200°F  (93°C)

Infusion Time: 3 Minutes and 0 seconds.

Aroma: Fruity, citrusy and floral fragrances have balanced out nicely. Very pleasant aroma, despite being lighter.

Color: Darker amber than 1st and 2nd infusions. Clear. Transparent.

Taste: Longer infusion time allowed this 3rd infusion to maintain much of the same qualities as the 2nd infusion. The bitter effect strengthened slightly. Same lasting aftertaste.

Comments: Despite stronger bitterness, this 3rd infusion was of very good quality. The color of this infusion was more what I was expecting from earlier infusions. I suggest brewing this tea for 3 minutes from the 1st infusion. I definitely believe a 4th infusion will produce an acceptable flavor.

Tea Leaf Characteristics After Infusions:

Red Rhythm Infused Leaves

Red Rhythm Large Infused Leaves 2

Red Rhythm Large Inf Leaf

Color: Uniform brown.

Aroma: Fruity, citrusy.

Size, Shape: Many large fully intact leaves, as shown above. Average leaf length at about 1.5 inches (37 mm), with largest leaf at about 2.25 inches (57 mm) in length. Very low level of breakage.

Unique Characteristics: Very nice, broad, fully intact leaves, reminiscent of an oolong style of leaf instead of a black tea leaf. Durability is moderate, suggesting a 4th infusion is certainly possible. Nice aroma.

Final Comments: This tea is the definition of an artisanal black tea. This tea presents beautiful, large, fully intact leaves that are obviously hand-plucked and hand-twisted. The aromas of the dry leaves, as well as the tea liquor, and the infused leaves are all very pleasant and high quality. The taste is remarkable, not needing any additives to make it a treat to sip. I am very happy that this sample packet of 25 grams is generous enough for me to make one more large pot of this excellent tea. I highly suggest going to the website http://www.eztea-tw.com, and purchasing a 25 gram packet of this tea. Whatever the cost is including shipping, it is worth it. This is a tea that every tea drinker should experience. However, your typical Keemun, Earl Grey, or Darjeeling may not be so appealing after you get spoiled by this Red Rhythm black tea from Taiwan. Excellent product!

Bai Hao Yin Zhen White Tea from Hunan Xiangfeng Tea Industry Co. Ltd.

On the evening of September 4th of 2013, my journey through the world of tea tasting took me to the Fuding region, in the Fujian Province of China. This particular sample of Bai Hao Yin Zhen White Tea was provided by the Hunan Xiangfeng Tea Industry Co. Ltd.

Bai Hao Yin Zhen,  more commonly referred to as Silver Needle white tea, is the highest grade of Chinese white tea. This tea is comprised entirely of fresh buds from the tea bush. The buds are picked in late morning, once the sun has burned off the morning dew. Traditionally, the plucked buds are laid in a basket and allowed to wilt in the sun, then are bake dried at a low temperature to kill any enzymatic and chemical activity. This low level of processing allows the buds to retain downy-like hairs, which are easily seen and felt on the pre-infused buds. It has also been suggested that this low level of processing allows white tea to retain high levels of antioxidant content.

Now that we have established a ground level knowledge of white teas, let the journey begin…

Date: 09/04/2013

Product Name: Bai Hao Yin Zhen (Silver Needle)

Purchased From: Hunan Xiangfeng Tea Industry Co. Ltd.

Origin: Fuding region, Fujian Province, China.

Type of Tea: Chinese White Tea

Tea Leaf Characteristics Prior to Infusion:

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Aroma: Fresh, floral (jasmine and orchid).

Dryness: Mildly dry. Buds crack, but do not crumble.

Color: Light to fresh green, many silver buds. White hairs cover buds.

Texture: Smooth and soft buds. Downy-like hairs cover buds. No rigidity whatsoever.

Size, Shape, Length: Fairly uniform length averaging 1 inch (25.4mm). Fairly uniform needle shape to buds. Low level of breakage (under 50%).

Unique Characteristics: Soft white hairs. Almost entirely comprised of buds. Has a fresh picked, very lightly processed look and feel, and a fresh aroma.

Sampling Measurements:

Amount of Water: 30 ounces (887 ml)

Amount of Tea: 15 grams

Tea Liquor Evaluation:

First Infusion:

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Water Temperature: 175ºF (79.4ºC)

Infusion Time: 2 Minutes and 0 seconds.

Aroma: Floral (orchids and jasmine), fresh.

Color: Pale light yellow. Clear. Transparent. Like the color of champagne.

Taste: Fresh, floral notes of orchid and light jasmine. Light fruity note like a fresh apple. Smooth, refreshing mouthfeel. Fresh and light aftertaste.

Comments: A fresh and flowery first infusion that has a refreshing effect. A light taste that is sure to please all levels of tea drinkers.

Second Infusion:

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Water Temperature: 175ºF (79.4ºC)

Infusion Time: 2 Minutes and 0 seconds.

Aroma: Flowery, fresh. Orchid scent more apparent than jasmine.

Color: Pale yellow to light gold. Darker than the first infusion. Clear. Transparent. Like the color of champagne.

Taste: Fresh, flowery. Floral notes of orchid and jasmine. Light fruity note of a fresh apple. Body is slightly fuller than the 1st infusion. Smooth and refreshing mouthfeel. Light and pleasant aftertaste.

Comments: Definitely no reduction is taste, and perhaps may have had a slightly stronger taste than the 1st infusion. Great 2nd infusion.

Third Infusion:

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Water Temperature: 175ºF (79.4ºC)

Infusion Time: 2 Minutes and 0 seconds.

Aroma: Fresh, flowery. Floral scent of jasmine more apparent than orchid.

Color: Pale yellow to light gold. About the same as the 2nd infusion. Champagne like.

Taste: Fresh, flowery. Floral notes of orchid and jasmine. Light fruity note like a fresh apple. Smooth and refreshing mouthfeel and aftertaste.

Comments: No noticeable difference between the 2nd and 3rd infusions. Still a very high quality aroma and taste.

Tea Leaf Characteristics After Infusions:

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Aroma: Flowery (jasmine and orchid).

Color: Fairly uniform fresh green buds and brown stems.

Size, Shape: Fairly uniform length averaging 1 inch (25.4 mm). Fairly uniform shape of bud only. Low level of breakage. Mostly fully intact buds with short stem attached. Obviously hand picked.

Unique Characteristics: Fresh flowery smell. Very high percentage of full buds, low level of breakage.

Final Comments: This is a perfect type of tea to serve to a tea drinking beginner, as the taste is quite delicate and fresh with no bitterness or astringency. There are no negative qualities to the taste or aroma of this tea. In addition to the agreeable taste, the supposed health benefits are also attractive. This was a good quality silver needle white tea that produced a good taste through all three infusions, and I recommend it to tea drinkers of all levels.

Thank you for taking your time to read this review. Please leave a comment and start a discussion.

Palace Puerh Tea from Hunan Xiangfeng Tea Industry Co. Ltd.

On September 4th of 2013, my journey through the world of tea tasting took me to the Yunnan Province of China, which is famous for it’s production of puerh tea, the lesser known type of tea in the Western hemisphere. This particular sample of Palace Puerh Tea was provided by the Hunan Xiangfeng Tea Industry Co. Ltd., based in Changsha City, Hunan Province, China.

This Palace Puerh Tea is a loose leaf form of Shu puerh. Shu puerh may also be referred to as cooked or black puerh. Although this particular sample is in loose leaf form, most puerh teas come in the form of a condensed “cake”, which are shaped to look like a disc, brick, or other more artistic shapes such as mushrooms. These condensed forms of puerh tea can be very difficult to break in to a usable pile of loose tea. I had broken several knifes on puerh tea cakes before deciding to purchase a puerh needle, which is a thick needle with a very sharp tip made specifically for breaking puerh cakes. This sometimes impractical process of breaking condensed cakes, and the recent spreading popularity of puerh tea, led tea producers to begin offering this type of tea in loose leaf form.

Puerh tea has a rich history, as well as countless interesting facts regarding production and it’s unique ability to improve through aging. I personally find puerh tea to be the most interesting type of tea in general, and generally refer to it (and oolong) as my preferred taste in teas. However, this post is about one particular product, being the Palace Puerh Tea. As I continue posting reviews of other puerh teas, I will include more interesting facts on puerh.

Let the journey begin…

Date: 09/04/2013

Product Name: Palace Puerh Tea

Purchased From: Hunan Xiangfeng Tea Industry Co. Ltd.

Origin: Specifics not known. Somewhere in Yunnan Province, China.

Type of Tea: Puerh (or Dark) Tea

Tea Leaf Characteristics Prior to Infusion:

Palace Puerh Dry Leaves

Aroma: Earthy (wet earth and barnyard). Note: Do not judge the tea based on these descriptive words. These descriptions are not necessarily negative in the world of tea.

Dryness: Very dry. Breaks in to fine crumbles.

Color: Light to dark brown, with some golden leaves. Leaves appear aged.

Texture: A general “dusty” feel. Some smooth, dry, twisted and curled leaves. Some rigid leaves that appear slightly rolled.

Size, Shape, Length: Mostly uniform twisted leaves averaging a length of 0.5 inches (13 mm). Some leaves have curled, while others appear rolled.

Unique Characteristics: The dusty feel of the dry leaves, caused by the artificial aging process, is certainly unique to loose shu puerh. The aroma, color, and texture are all unique characteristics of a loose shu puerh.

Sampling Measurements:

Amount of Water: 18 ounces (532 ml)

Amount of Tea: 8 grams

Tea Liquor Evaluation:

First Infusion:

Palace Puerh 1st Infusion

Water Temperature: 212°F (100°C)

Infusion Time: 0 Minutes and 30 seconds.

Aroma: Earthy, musty, wet wood.

Color: Very Dark Copper. Very slight haziness. Transparent.

Taste: Earthy (musty), wet wood, forest floor. Sweet finish, perhaps caramel or molasses. Smooth and rich mouth feel. No bitterness whatsoever. Aftertaste is sweet and a little spicy, reminiscent of black licorice perhaps.

Comments: The more I sipped on this first infusion, the more I felt the subtle and unique notes of sweetness. The smooth mouthfeel and pleasant aftertaste were very nice. I really enjoyed the taste of this first infusion, and am interested to see how the taste progresses through infusions two and three.

Second Infusion:

Palace Puerh 2nd Infusion

Water Temperature: 212°F (100°C)

Infusion Time: 0 Seconds and 45 seconds.

Aroma: Richer and slightly more robust than the 1st infusion. Earthy, musty, wet wood.

Color: Very dark red, almost black. Translucent, but not transparent. Significantly darker than the 1st infusion.

Taste: Fuller body than the 1st infusion. Earthy of forest floor and musty. Smooth, almost velvety with a slightly sweet (molasses) finish. Aftertaste still reminds me of black licorice. The taste is very structured.

Comments: This second infusion was better than the 1st. The extra fifteen seconds of infusion time made the color darker, the body fuller and velvety, and the taste more rich. I would expect this tea to have multiple additional infusions to offer.

Third Infusion:

Palace Puerh 3rd Infusion

Water Temperature: 212°F (100°C)

Infusion Time: 1 Minute and 0 seconds.

Aroma: Earthy (forest floor, musty), slightly spicy.

Color: Very dark red, but not quite as dark as 2nd infusion. Translucent, but not transparent.

Taste: Earthy (musty, forest floor), but not as strong as 2nd infusion. Body is still full and velvety. Sweet (molasses) finish. Aftertaste is lighter, but still reminiscent of black licorice.

Comments: Not quite as rich of a flavor as the 2nd infusion, but that is not necessarily a negative. This third infusion was very nicely balanced, and the flavor was still rich, just not as rich as the 2nd infusion. This tea will definitely produce a fourth, fifth, and perhaps a sixth and seventh infusion that will have an acceptable flavor.

Tea Leaf Characteristics After Infusions:

Palace Puerh Wet Leaves

Color: Uniform dark brown to black.

Aroma: Earthy (forest floor, musty), slightly sweet like dried fruit.

Size, Shape: Fairly uniform length averaging 0.75 inches (19 mm). All broken leaf fragments, some stalks. There is a good chance that this may have been processed by machinery instead of by hand.

Unique Characteristics: Dark black color. Aroma is earthy, yet slighty fruity. Seems machine cut and rolled.

Final Comments: I must say that I am impressed by this loose shu puerh. Generally speaking, I prefer puerh in cake form, as I find the loose forms to be a bit grainy in taste. However, this loose puerh was not grainy at all. This was definitely the best loose puerh that I have tried thus far. The taste actually improved from the 1st to 2nd infusions, and again from the 2nd to 3rd infusions. This form of tea is usually not a favorite of the novice tea drinkers, and honestly I do not expect this tea to be an instant favorite. However, as the drinker continues to sip this tea, they should be able to put aside the earthy tastes and appreciate the sweeter and spicier notes, as well as the very pleasant velvety and smooth feel of the liquor. I am a fan of this Palace Puerh Tea. Great first review of the many samples that I received from Hunan Xiangfeng. Looking forward to reviewing the rest, even if they are just half as good as this tea.

Dragonwell (NH1006) Green Tea from Changsha Nutrahealth Bio-Tech Co. Ltd.

On the evening of September 3rd of 2013, my journey through the world of tea tasting took me to the mountainous regions of China, where the tea bushes used for the famous Dragonwell style of Chinese green teas flourish. This particular sample of Dragonwell green tea was provided by Changsha Nutrahealth Bio-Tech Co. Ltd.

Although I was not provided any useful information on this particular sample of tea, http://www.travelchinaguide.com states that Dragonwell tea is generally grown in the following areas of China: West Lake, Shifeng Peak, Meijiawu region, Hupao, Longjing Village,  and Yunxi Mountain. This type of green tea was once reserved strictly for consumption by Chinese emperors. This style of green tea can be called by several names, such as Longjing and Lungching.

Should I be provided with more specific information on this particular sample,  I will be sure to revise this post. In the meantime, let the journey begin…

Date: 09/03/2013

Product Name: Dragonwell Green Tea (NH1006)

Purchased From: Changsha Nutrahealth Bio-Tech Co. Ltd.

Origin: Very likely from Zhejian Province,  China.

Type of Tea: Chinese Green

Tea Leaf Characteristics Prior to Infusion:

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Aroma: Vegetal, woody (burnt wood), nutty (roasted chestnuts). Very unique aroma.

Dryness: Moderately dry. Leaves crack easily in to large crumbles.

Color: Light to dark green, few brown spots.

Texture: Smooth, dry, flattened leaves.

Size, Shape, Length: Average length of 1 inch (25.4 mm). Longest leaf about 1.25 inches (31.75 mm). Flattened leaves.

Unique Characteristics: Many full, smaller leaves. Appears to be two leaves and bud. Some fragments. Brown spots suggest slight oxidation during processing. Different sizes and shapes of leaves suggest that leaves may have been blended from different farms.

Sampling Measurements:

Amount of Water: 30 ounces (887 ml) – Yes, I am in the mood to drink a large quantity of tea tonight. Let’s hope it is good!

Amount of Tea: 15 grams

Tea Liquor Evaluation:

First Infusion:

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Water Temperature: 175ºF (79.4ºC)

Infusion Time: 1 Minute and 0 seconds

Aroma: Vegetal (fresh cut grass), nutty (roasted chestnuts). Very full aroma.

Color: Bright yellow-green. Clear. Transparent.

Taste: Mouth-filling taste of fresh cut grass and roasted chestnuts.  Moderate astringency. Vegetal aftertaste. Nice balance.

Comments: This is one of the better tasting Dragonwell teas that I have had. The taste is full and well balanced. The color and aroma are also more attractive than other Dragonwells that I have had. I am quite satisfied with this tea thus far.

Second Infusion:

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Water Temperature: 175ºF (79.4ºC)

Infusion Time: 1 Minute and 15 seconds

Aroma: Roasted chestnuts, fresh cut grass, burnt wood.

Color: Bright yellow-green. Slightly darker than the 1st infusion. Clear. Transparent.

Taste: Slightly stronger overall than the 1st infusion. Mouth-filling, moderate astringency, roasted chestnuts and fresh cut grass. Vegetal aftertaste.

Comments: Richer, fuller taste than the 1st infusion. Fuller mouth feel. It appears that 15 seconds made a significant impact on the liquor.

Third Infusion:

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Water Temperature: 175ºF (79.4ºC)

Infusion Time: 1 Minute and 30 seconds

Aroma: Slightly lighter than 2nd infusion. Fresh cut grass is more apparent, roasted chestnuts is lighter.

Color: Light yellow-green. Clear. Transparent.

Taste: Lighter overall. Fresh cut grass is most apparent. Slight roasted chestnuts. Less astringency. Lighter mouthfeel and aftertaste.

Comments: There was a very obvious difference between the 2nd and 3rd infusions despite the longer infusion time of the 3rd. The aroma, color, and taste were all significantly lighter in the 3rd infusion. I would not expect a 4th infusion to be worthwhile.

Tea Leaf Characteristics After Infusions:

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Color: Uniform lively green.

Aroma: Fresh cut grass and slight roasted chestnuts.

Size, Shape: Much variation in leaves. Many full leaves, but also many clippings and fragments. Some are two leaves and bud, others are one leaf and bud, some buds only. Some leaves with no stem whatsoever. Leaves are quite delicate, with almost no durability.

Unique Characteristics: The variation in leaf characteristics certainly suggests that this sample is a mix of Dragonwell style teas from multiple farms, or multiple grades of leaves, or both. Not that this is a bad thing, but it is noticeable. Other than that, the leaves appear fresh and lively, and there are many ni e leaves, buds, and shoots. Leaves are very delicate, suggesting that they are exhausted.

Final Comments: The first two infusions of this Dragonwell tea were among the best tasting sips of this variety of tea that I have had. I was very surprised by the fact that the 2nd infusion was stronger than the 1st infusion. The third infusion was not as good. This particular sample appears to be a mix of Dragonwell teas from multiple sources. This mix of teas helps to improve the quality of the infusion, and keep the cost of the product at an affordable level. I recommend this product to any retailer who wants a good tasting Dragonwell tea to offer.

Thank you for taking your time to read this review. Please leave a comment and start a discussion.

Dimbula OP1 Pure Ceylon Black Tea from Tea and Herb Company Limited

Today, my journey through the world of tea tasting took me to Dimbula region of Sri Lanka, as I tasted a sample of Dimbula OP1 Pure Ceylon black tea, provided by the Tea and Herb Company Limited, located in North Mulleriyawa, Sri Lanka.

According to documentation provided by my contact at the Tea and Herb Co., the tea in this sample was sourced from four estates (Garden Marks) in Sri Lanka. These estates include St. Andrews, Queensberry, Bogahawatte, and Weddemulle. This tea is considered a high altitude (3,500 ft to 5,000 ft) grown tea whose planters focus more on the flavor of their teas, and less on the leaf style during production. The estates each provide teas that have a fresh taste, but differ slightly according to the microclimate in which they reside. The teas blend together very well, producing a tea that is bright, fresh, and leaves a clean taste in the mouth. Below is a map of the Dimbula growing region, courtesy of Vicony Teas.

Dimbula Region Map

Let the journey begin…

Date: 09/03/2013

Product Name: Dimbula OP1 Pure Ceylon Black Tea

Purchased From: The Tea and Herb Company Limited

Origin: Dimbula growing region of Sri Lanka

Type of Tea: Ceylon (Sri Lanka) Black

Tea Leaf Characteristics Prior to Infusion:

Dimbula OP1 Dry Leaves

Aroma: Sweet, fruity (dried fruit). A very pleasant and rich aroma.

Dryness: Very dry. Leaves crack in to coarse crumbles.

Color: Dark Brown to black, with a few reddish tips.

Texture: Smooth, dry, twisted leaves with some stems.

Size, Shape, and Length: Fairly uniform size and shape. Average length about 0.5 inches (13 mm). Leaves are twisted.

Unique Characteristics: Great aroma, uniform color/shape/size, a few nice reddish tips.

Sampling Measurements:

Amount of Water: 18 oz (532 ml)

Amount of Tea: 9 grams

Tea Liquor Evaluation:

First Infusion:

Dimbula OP1 1st Infusion

Water Temperature: 200°F (93°C)

Infusion Time: 3 Minutes and 0 seconds

Aroma: Slightly fruity and spicy. Fresh and clean black tea aroma.

Color: Bright copper. Clean. Transparent.

Taste: Fresh, clean taste with a slightly floral (jasmine) note, and a very mild bitterness. Body is full and smooth. Aftertaste has a certain spiciness, but hard to determine which spice.

Comments: A fresh black tea taste with a touch of jasmine and spice towards the end.

Second Infusion:

Dimbula OP1 2nd Infusion

Water Temperature: 200°F (93°C)

Infusion Time: 3 Minutes and 0 seconds

Aroma: Lighter overall. Slightly fruity and very slight spice.

Color: Very light copper. Clear. Transparent.

Taste: Lighter overall. Aftertaste maintains a floral (jasmine) and very light spice taste. Body is lighter.

Comments: Despite lighter aroma/color/taste, still a good taste. Third infusion should produce an acceptable flavor.

Third Infusion:

Dimbula OP1 3rd Infusion

Water Temperature: 200°F (93°C)

Infusion Time: 3 minutes and 15 seconds

Aroma: Lighter than the 2nd infusion. Very lightly fruity.

Color: Dull golden, with a very light touch of copper. Clear. Transparent.

Taste: Lighter overall than 2nd infusion. Very light floral (jasmine) taste toward the end. Spice is no longer noticeable. Lighter body.

Comments: Still an acceptable flavor, despite lighter character. I do not expect a fourth infusion to be worthwhile.

Leaf Characteristics After Infusions:

Dimbula OP1 Wet LeavesColor: Brown to dark brown, with a few green leaves. Brown stems.

Aroma: Slightly fruity and sweet.

Size, Shape: All leaf fragments and stems. Leaves appear to be on the smaller side of the spectrum. Not much structural durability.

Unique Characteristics: Pleasant wet leaf smell. Some green leaves blended in with mostly brown.

Final Comments: Now that I have sampled four unflavored black teas from four different regions of Sri Lanka, I can honestly say that each region really does have specific characteristics, and they are not always subtle differences. This Dimbula OP1 had a very fresh, yet classic, black tea taste with obvious notes of jasmine at the end. This blend could be used as an Earl Grey base, or perhaps a lighter style of breakfast blend. This was a very enjoyable black tea, with the only noteworthy and potentially negative aspect being the obvious changes in color and strength from infusion to infusion. However, the third infusion still produced an acceptable taste, and I had no problem finishing the pot. Another good quality Ceylon black tea from the Tea and Herb Company.