Young Hyson Green Tea from Radella Factory, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

UPDATE: The Radella Ceylon Young Hyson Green Tea is now available for purchase at The Tea Journeyman Shop! Click Here to view and purchase this unique green tea from Nuwara Eliya district, Sri Lanka.

Here is a Young Hyson Green Tea sample that I received from a source in the Uva District of Sri Lanka. This tea is from the Radella Factory, located near the town of Nuwara Eliya. One thing that is great about the tea industry is the great people that you interact with along the way. The man who provided these samples, Eranga, is one of those people. He has introduced me to many interesting Sri Lankan teas, and several of these Young Hyson green teas have been very unique. Eranga has become a friend of mine, as well as a great resource in the industry. Thank you very much, Eranga, for your generosity and assistance along the way.

I originally opened this sample packet to use during a tea tasting event with some friends, when I noticed how large and impressive the infused leaves were. This tea was in the top three favorite teas among that group of ten people. For the past two weeks, I have been excited to get around to doing this review.

Let the journey begin…

The dry leaves have a light green to dark green color. The leaves are quite large, and most appear to be unbroken, rolled leaves. There are few bare stems in the mix. The aroma has scents of dry grass, sea mist, and forest floor.

Radella Young Hyson Dry Leaves
Radella Young Hyson Dry Leaves

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) ceramic infusion cup. Purified spring water was heated to 175°F (75°C). The leaves were infused for one minute thirty seconds.

Radella Young Hyson 1st Infusion
Radella Young Hyson 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright, pale yellow color and a light green tint, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of fresh kelp and sea mist. The body is light, with a soft, clean, refreshing feel. The taste has notes of kelp, sea mist, and mineral (wet stone). The aftertaste is soft and floral, and a mineral (metallic) feel is left on the tongue. Drinking this tea gives me the sensation of taking sips of water from a fresh, clean spring. It is incredibly refreshing and uplifting, despite a fairly brief list of tastes.

Radella Young Hyson 2nd Infusion
Radella Young Hyson 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a deeper shade of pale yellow and light green tint. The aroma retains the grass, kelp, and sea mist scents. The body and feel have thickened slightly, to a light brothy state. The taste has strengthened slightly on the grassy kelp taste, but the sea mist and mineral tastes remain, as well. Although I did like the first infusion better than the second, I think the third and fourth (if possible) may balance out to resemble the first infusion. This second infusion was quite tasteful, but not as clean and smooth as the first infusion.

Radella Young Hyson 3rd Infusion
Radella Young Hyson 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor with a color that is quite similar to the first infusion. The aroma retains the kelp, grass, and sea mist scents. The body has lightened, and is more similar to the first infusion. The taste has balanced very nicely, with the grassy/kelp notes lightening and the mineral notes holding even. The metallic feel on the tongue also returned in the third infusion. This infusion was overall better than the second infusion.

The fourth infusion lost very little strength in all aspects. If I had time to keep infusing these leaves, I would have loved to see how many infusions they could provide.

Radella Young Hyson Infused Leaves
Radella Young Hyson Infused Leaves

 

Radella Young Hyson Infused Leaves (2)
Radella Young Hyson Infused Leaves (2)

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color. Many of the leaves are whole and unbroken. Some of the leaves measure over two inches (>50 mm) in length. The leaves still have a leathery feel, and some appear to be more mature leaves. The leaves have a fresh grass, hay, and wet forest floor aroma. There is a very light sweetness in the aroma, but it was too light to identify.

This is an intriguing green tea. The large, seemingly mature leaves, and the clean, refreshing feel of this tea puts it high on my list of preferred green teas. This tea would be a perfect beverage to enjoy on a brisk spring or fall morning while in the woods. The energy of this tea calls me to nature. Unfortunately, my bamboo plant in the vase full of river rocks and spring water is the closest I can come to that calling right now.

Thank you again, Eranga, for providing such an amazing green tea. Cheers!

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Yellow Tea from Teaneer Teas and Vijayalakshmi Natural Farm

Here is a product that I have not seen before. This is a yellow tea from the Nilgiri District of south India. This sample was provided by Teaneer Teas from the Vijayalakshmi Natural Farm.

Yellow teas are rarely found being produced outside of China. Even within China, the art of producing yellow tea is in decline. It will be interesting to compare this to the two other yellow teas currently in my collection, both of which are from China.

Look for Teaneer Teas on Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and LinkedIn. You may also view the profile for VijayaLaskshmi Natural Farm at the Tealet Teas website by clicking here.

The sample pack is opened, and the appearance of the Teaneer Yellow Tea is very different from the Chinese yellow teas that I have come across. Let the journey begin…

Teaneer Yellow Tea Dry Leaves
Teaneer Yellow Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a fairly uniform dark yellow to dark brown color with some silver tips. The majority of the leaves are whole and attached to the stem, which clearly shows a three leaf and small bud pluck. A few leaves are separated from the stem, but appear to be whole leaves or almost whole fragments. The leaves appear to be hand twisted. The aroma has scents of hay with a light smokiness.

Three grams of leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) ceramic infusion cup. Purified spring water was heated to 175°F (75°C). The leaves were infused for two minutes.

Teaneer Yellow Tea 1st Infusion
Teaneer Yellow Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a light, pale yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of hay, light smoke, and a very light ripe fruit hint. The body is light, with a delicate and soft feel. The taste has strong notes of hay, grass, and floral (hyacinth/lavender). The aftertaste is floral and pleasant.

Teaneer Yellow Tea 2nd Infusion
Teaneer Yellow Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a slightly deeper shade of pale yellow color. The aroma retains the scents of hay and light smoke. The body remains light. The taste has a better balance, and retains the hay, grass, and hyacinth/lavender notes.

Teaneer Yellow Tea 3rd Infusion
Teaneer Yellow Tea 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor slightly lighter in color than the second infusion. The aroma has only slightly lightened. The taste has lightened slightly, and retains the same basic characteristics, with the addition of a slight mineral taste appearing. Honestly, I think this third infusion has been my favorite of the three. The taste is not as strong, and is better balanced than the other two infusions.

Teaneer Yellow Tea Infused Leaves
Teaneer Yellow Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh green color, which was unexpected given the fairly dark color of the dry leaves. There are very few fragments, and those few are very large. Most leaves are whole and attached to a stem. Stems show anywhere from one leaf and bud to three leaves and bud. These are very fresh, healthy, and impressive looking leaves. The aroma is fresh hay and dandelion flowers.

At first, I was not feeling too strongly for this Teaneer Yellow Tea. However, as I sipped the second and third infusions, I began to better understand the tastes. I am planning to give this tea a quick rinse as I progress through the sample to see if that will eliminate some of the stronger hay and barnyard tastes that I felt in the first infusion. The look of the leaves both dry and infused displayed the care that was put into plucking and processing them. The aroma was consistent with other yellow teas, consisting mainly of hay scents.

As I mentioned earlier, I will be interested to compare this Yellow Tea side by side with my Chinese yellow teas. This was a great experience, and I thank Vijayalakshmi Natural Farm and Teaneer Teas for providing this sample. Cheers!

Orthodox Flowery Pekoe (FP) Green Tea from Dafina Tea Traders

Continuing my tea tasting journey through the African continent, my next stop is at the Kangaita Tea Factory, in the southern slopes of Mount Kenya. I have ten samples of various green, black, and purple teas from this factory. The samples were provided by Dafina Tea Traders, based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Kangaita Tea Factory sits on the equator, with coordinates of 0.5°S and 37.3°E. The altitude of the tea estates in the Mount Kenya growing region ranges from 4,500 feet to 6,600 feet (1,500 to 2,200 meters) above sea level. Beyond the tea fields, the peaks of Mount Kenya are visible. Mount Kenya is also the largest tea producing zone in the country.

Despite the fact that I am very interested in trying one of the purple tea samples, I decided to start with the Flowery Pekoe green tea. A sweet, floral smell is rising out of the sample packet. Let the journey begin…

Orthodox FP Green Dry leaves
Orthodox FP Green Dry leaves

The dry leaves display forest green to dark green colors. The leaves appear to be medium to large fragments, and are rolled. There are a few bare twigs and stems in the mix. The aroma is sweet (dried fruit) and floral.

Five grams of leaves were placed in an 8.5 ounce (240 ml) kyusu teapot. Filtered tap water was heated to 175°F (75°C). The leaves were infused for one minute.

Orthodox FP Green 1st Infusion
Orthodox FP Green 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a light pale yellow color and a very light green tint. The aroma is sweet, herbacious, and floral. The body is light-medium, with a very smooth, velvety texture. The taste is very pleasant and refreshing, with notes of sweet grass, flowers, and a delicate fruity hint. There is also a noticeable mineral (wet stone) taste and feel, and a mild astringency. The aftertaste is floral and lightly sweet, with a pleasant floral essence left on the breathe. This tea has a very nice balance of flavors.

Orthodox FP Green 2nd Infusion
Orthodox FP Green 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a bolder shade of pale-yellow color and a light green to gold tint. The aroma remains sweet and floral. The body feels medium, and the texture is not quite as velvety, but instead is smooth and refreshing. The taste has strengthened in the sweet grass flavor, and the floral, delicately fruity, and mineral notes all remain. Overall, this second infusion was stronger than the first.

Orthodox FP Green 3rd Infusion
Orthodox FP Green 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a brighter shade of pale-yellow color than the third infusion, with more of a green tint than gold. The aroma has lightened, but remains a pleasantly delicate sweet and floral experience. The body has lightened back to light-medium. The taste has also lightened, and the notes of floral and wet stones are most dominant. The aftertaste remains floral and enjoyable. Although lighter, this is still a worthy infusion.

Orthodox FP Green Infused Leaves
Orthodox FP Green Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform forest green color. The leaves are all medium to large fragments, with some bare stems and twigs in the mix. A few of the stems show a two leaf and small bud pluck. The leaves have a fresh, floral, and lightly sweet aroma that is remarkably fragrant.

This is a very easy to drink green tea. There is one other green tea from Sri Lanka that I can describe as a good everyday green tea, but this Flowery Pekoe from Kangaita will now join this list. It is delicate and refreshing, yet potent enough in flavor to be very satisfying. Thankfully these sample packets are rather generous, because I can imagine this will make an extremely refreshing cold tea that will quench a thirst like few beverages can once the spring and summer months arrive. Other than a generally unimpressive appearance, this tea was a great experience, and a great introduction to the orthodox green teas of Kenya.

Thank you to Dafina Tea Traders for providing these generous samples. I am looking forward to hitting the purple teas next. Cheers!

Gui Fei Wulong Tea from Rainbow Trading Company

Today’s review will focus on the Gui Fei Wulong from Rainbow Trading Company. Many thanks to Rainbow Trading for providing these excellent quality high mountain wulongs. At this time, I do not believe Rainbow Trading Company has a website. Reaching out to the Western hemisphere is a recent development for them, and getting their teas out for review is a good way to gauge how the U.S. and other countries will accept their products.

This Gui Fei wulong uses leaves from the Chin Shin cultivar. The Chin Shin bushes are grown in the LiShan, Tai Zhong City area of Taiwan, at an altitude between 6,000 and 6,600 feet (2,000 to 2,200 meters). Much like the better known Oriental Beauty wulongs from Taiwan, the Gui Fei is plucked after those beautiful little bugs commonly referred to as leaf hoppers begin to eat the tea bush leaves. The saliva from the leaf hoppers chemically reacts with the secondary metabolites created by the tea bushes to repel insects and heal the wound, creating an amazingly sweet and all natural honey flavor in the liquor. How many natural products have as interesting of a chemistry as the tea leaf? Not that I am an expert on botany, agriculture, or chemistry, but none that I can think of.

The sample packet is opened, and all I can smell is clove honey and pears. Let the journey begin…

Gui Fei Wulong Dry Leaves
Gui Fei Wulong Dry Leaves

The dry leaves range in color from dull forest green to very dark green, almost black. The leaves are in semi-ball shape.The size of the semi-balls are between a sweet pea and a lima bean. There are a few visible stems, but not as many as I typically see in Taiwan wulongs. I expect the vast majority of these leaves to be whole, some having the stem attached. The aroma is very sweet, having strong scents of bee honey and ripe tree fruit, perhaps pear or plum.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an 8.5 ounce (240 ml) kyusu teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 195°F (90°C). The leaves were infused for one minute thirty seconds with the first infusion, one minute with the second, and one minute fifteen seconds with the third.

Gui Fei Wulong 1st Infusion
Gui Fei Wulong 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright, pale yellow infusion, clear and transparent. The aroma is very sweet, with scents of clove honey and ripe tree fruit (pear). The body is medium, with a creamy, silky, comforting feel. The taste is incredible, lacking any astringency, and has strong notes of clove honey and fresh pears. The aftertaste maintains some of the honey taste, but eventually leads to a phenomenal floral essence that is hard to find outside of Taiwan wulongs. The liquor seems to coat the throat as it is swallowed. 

Gui Fei Wulong 2nd Infusion
Gui Fei Wulong 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a significantly darker shade of golden-yellow color. The aroma remains very sweet, strengthening in the honey and pear scents. The body is slightly heavier, and remains creamy and silky in texture. The taste is also slightly stronger, with amazing notes of clove honey and fresh pears. A slight earthy mineral (wet stone) taste has appeared, and I expect this taste to become more potent as infusions continue. The wet stone taste is serving as an excellent compliment to the sweet and fruity tastes. The aftertaste remains sweet (honey), becoming a persistent floral essence. Excellent second infusion, and expecting to be very pleased with the third.

Gui Fei Wulong 3rd Infusion
Gui Fei Wulong 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor with a similar shade of golden-yellow color as the second infusion, perhaps a touch brighter. The aroma has barely lightened, but is still quite fragrant and sweet. The body remains medium, and the texture is less creamy, but still smooth and comforting. The taste, as expected, has balanced nicely in the flavors of honey, pears, and wet stones. The aftertaste maintains a very high quality of taste and essence. 

The leaves, at this point, still have much flavor in them. In fact, it takes quite an effort to unroll them. They have a thin, dried leather feel. I will continue infusing these leaves until they can be better shown in the photo.

Four, five, six infusions, and finally the leaves are ready to have their photo taken.

Gui Fei Wulong Infused Leaves
Gui Fei Wulong Infused Leaves

The infused leaves range in color from fresh forest green with reddish edges to dark purple brown. Many leaves display the holes and gaps consistent with insect bites. All leaves are whole and unbroken. I seriously did not find a single leaf that had less than 95% fully intact. Some leaves were attached to stems. Those stems had anywhere from three to five leaves with buds attached. Some buds were quite long and developed. The leaves were long, but not very broad, further indicating the Chin Shin cultivar. The smell is sweet (honey and light fruit) and floral. I believe these leaves could give another two to three infusions before being exhausted, and I plan to test this theory after posting this review.

I understand the amount of work, effort, and care the farmers put in to producing this excellent tea. All of their efforts paid off in the form of the superior taste and aroma of the liquor and the high quality of the leaves. This tea has a calming, comforting effect that is truly unique. This tea has an awe-inspiring aroma and taste that lasts for at least five to six infusions. If you do not require such strong flavors to continue infusing leaves, then you will easily get ten worthy infusions. It’s teas like this that make me want to begin offering products through this website. Finally, the floral essence that this tea leaves on the breathe is exceptional. I have had many teas since reviewing my most recent Taiwan wulong, and none of those teas can produce the beautiful floral essence that high quality Taiwan wulongs provide. 

Cheers to the farmers in Tai Zhong City! Cheers to Rainbow Trading Company! Cheers to Taiwan Wulongs! Cheers to Leaf Hoppers!

Comparing Three Autumn Flush 2013 Darjeeling Products

As you have probably noticed, I am really beginning to appreciate the value of doing side-by-side comparisons of different teas. In continuing with this trend of mine, today I will be comparing three Autumn Flush 2013 Darjeeling teas. All of these samples were provided by Lochan Tea Limited. To learn more about Lochan Tea, please visit their website here.

Today’s comparison will focus on the Autumn Flush 2013 teas from the following estates, all located in the Darjeeling district of north India.

Dooteriah SFTGFOP 1 Musk (in left position in all photos), Giddapahar SFTGFOP 1 CH SPL (in center position), and the Margaret’s Hope FTGFOP 1 HS (in right position).

Time to find out how these three seemingly similar teas compare to one another. Let the journey begin…

Darjeeling Autumn Flush 2013 Dry Leaf Comparison: Dooteriah (Left), Giddapahar (Center), Margaret's Hope (right)
Darjeeling Autumn Flush 2013 Dry Leaf Comparison: Dooteriah (Left), Giddapahar (Center), Margaret’s Hope (right)
Dooteriah SFTGFOP 1 Musk Dry Leaves - Autumn Flush 2013
Dooteriah SFTGFOP 1 Musk Dry Leaves – Autumn Flush 2013
Giddapahar SFTGFOP 1 CH SPL Dry Leaves - Autumn Flush 2013
Giddapahar SFTGFOP 1 CH SPL Dry Leaves – Autumn Flush 2013
Margaret's Hope FTGFOP 1 HS Dry Leaves - Autumn Flush 2013
Margaret’s Hope FTGFOP 1 HS Dry Leaves – Autumn Flush 2013

As you can see from the photos above, these three teas all share a very similar color scheme in the dry leaves, having a range of bright green to red to brown to black. All three teas consisted of rolled, medium sized fragments, with a few bare stems in the mixes. The difference in the dry leaves came in the aroma of each tea. The Dooteriah had a spicy, woody, slightly leathery (musk?) scent. The Giddapahar had sweeter scents of light brown sugar, light dried fruit, and some spice. The Margaret’s Hope had floral scents of rose, as well as light dried fruit, and a very light spice. To summarize: Dooteriah – Spicy, Woody, Bold. Giddapahar – Sweet, Spicy, Mild. Margaret’s Hope – Floral, Sweet, Fairly Delicate.

Each sample was prepared using the following parameters. Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) ceramic infusion cup. Purified spring water was heated to 205°F (96°C). Leaves were infused for two minutes.

Darjeeling Autumn Flush 2013 Infusion Comparison: Dooteriah (Left), Giddapahar (Center), Margaret's Hope (right)
Darjeeling Autumn Flush 2013 Infusion Comparison: Dooteriah (Left), Giddapahar (Center), Margaret’s Hope (right)
Dooteriah SFTGFOP 1 Musk Infusion - Autumn Flush 2013
Dooteriah SFTGFOP 1 Musk Infusion – Autumn Flush 2013

The infusion of the Dooteriah had an orange color with a dark gold tint, clear and transparent. The aroma was spicy, woody, and lightly floral. The body was medium-full, with a sharp and mouth filling texture. There was a medium astringency. The taste had notes of wood, animal leather, and spice. Animal leather is a questionable description, but I am not familiar with the “musk” taste description. The aftertaste is spicy and floral. This was a very unique tasting tea that caught me off-guard. It was bold, sharp, and eye-opening.

Giddapahar SFTGFOP 1 CH SPL Infusion - Autumn Flush 2013
Giddapahar SFTGFOP 1 CH SPL Infusion – Autumn Flush 2013

The infusion of the Giddapahar had a slightly bolder, deeper orange color with a gold tint, clear and transparent. The aroma is spicy, lightly fruity, and lightly floral. The body is medium-full, with a smooth, round feel. The taste is spicy, floral, lightly fruity, with a very light wood note. There is a mild astringency. The aftertaste is lightly sweet and floral.

Margaret's Hope FTGFOP 1 HS Infusion - Autumn Flush 2013
Margaret’s Hope FTGFOP 1 HS Infusion – Autumn Flush 2013

The infusion of the Margaret’s Hope had the lightest, and most lively, shade of orange with gold tint, clear and transparent. The aroma is floral and sweet, with hints of roses and light honey, and light spice. It lacks the dominantly spicy scent of the other two teas. The body is medium, with a soft, smooth feel. The taste is floral (rose), woody, somewhat spicy, and lightly sweet (light honey). There is a mild astringency. The aftertaste is woody and floral, and lasts longer on the tongue than the other two teas. This was the most delicate of the three teas.

Darjeeling Autumn Flush 2013 Infused Leaf Comparison: Dooteriah (Left), Giddapahar (Center), Margaret's Hope (right)
Darjeeling Autumn Flush 2013 Infused Leaf Comparison: Dooteriah (Left), Giddapahar (Center), Margaret’s Hope (right)
Dooteriah SFTGFOP 1 Musk Infused Leaves - Autumn Flush 2013
Dooteriah SFTGFOP 1 Musk Infused Leaves – Autumn Flush 2013
Giddapahar SFTGFOP 1 CH SPL Infused Leaves - Autumn Flush 2013
Giddapahar SFTGFOP 1 CH SPL Infused Leaves – Autumn Flush 2013
Margaret's Hope FTGFOP 1 HS Infused Leaves - Autumn Flush 2013
Margaret’s Hope FTGFOP 1 HS Infused Leaves – Autumn Flush 2013

The infused leaves of all three products have the same general appearance, having a range in color from fresh forest green to red to copper. All the products consist of medium sized leaf fragments, with some bare stems in the mixes. The difference among the three products can be felt in the aroma of the infused leaves. The Dooteriah maintains the dominantly spicy, almost leathery (musk?) scent. The Giddapahar has a spicy and lightly sweet (fruity) scent. The Margaret’s Hope has a spicy and floral (rose) scent.

The three teas had many similar characteristics, such as the appearance of the leaves, and the general spicy aromas and tastes of the infusions. The differences were subtle, but certainly strong enough to be noticed. I must admit that this was the most challenging comparison that I have performed so far. The difficulty came in describing the lesser aromas and tastes. The spice and wood were obvious and simple, but the leather (musk?) of the Dooteriah and light fruit of the Giddapahar took the entire sample cup to even begin to understand. The Margaret’s Hope was not as difficult, and the rose scent and taste could be felt rather easily.

It is comparisons like this that provide a constant reminder of how much more I have to learn in the world of tea. It’s also times like this that I wish I had a tea mentor nearby that could help me understand some of what I was smelling and tasting. So please, to anyone reading this post who has much more experience with Autumn Flush Darjeeling teas, if you see a description that you feel is off-target, please comment or email me. I would love to hear a more experienced opinion.

Thanks to Lochan Teas for providing the samples! No company has taught me as much about Darjeeling and Assam teas than Lochan Tea, and I am extremely grateful for their generosity. Cheers!

Side by Side: Poabs Organic FOP Black Tea and Satemwa Thyolo OP1 Black Tea

Today, I have two black teas from two Rainforest Alliance Certified, Fairtrade estates in two different continents. The first product is the FOP black tea from Poabs Organic Estates in Kerala, southwest India. The second product is the Thyolo OP1 black tea from Satemwa Tea Estates (Thyolo Mountain) in the Shire Highlands of Malawi, southeast Africa.

Check out the website for Poabs Organic Estates here. Learn more about the Satemwa Tea Estates here.

Let the journey begin…

Poabs Organic FOP (Left) and Satemwa Thyolo OP1 (Right) Dry Leaves
Poabs Organic FOP (Left) and Satemwa Thyolo OP1 (Right) Dry Leaves
Poabs Organic FOP Dry Leaves
Poabs Organic FOP Dry Leaves

The dry leaves of the Poabs FOP have a uniform dark brown to black color, with little copper color. The leaves are medium sized, rolled fragments. There are some bare stems in the mix. The aroma is sweet, with scents of malt, brown sugar, and spice (pepper).

Satemwa Thyolo OP1 Dry Leaves
Satemwa Thyolo OP1 Dry Leaves

The dry leaves of the Satemwa Thyolo OP1 have a uniform black color, with little copper color in the veins/stems. The leaves are medium to large sized, rolled fragments, with a few leaves possible being whole. There are some longer stems in the mix, a few bare, others with small leaf fragments attached. The pluck appears to be two leaves and a small bud. The aroma is sweet, with scents of dark chocolate and dried fruit. The aroma reminds me of dark chocolate covered cherries.

For both samples, three grams of dry leaves were placed in a 5 ounce (150 ml) ceramic infusion cup. Purified spring water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for three minutes.

Poabs Organic FOP (Left) and Satemwa Thyolo OP1 (Right) 1st Infusion
Poabs Organic FOP (Left) and Satemwa Thyolo OP1 (Right) 1st Infusion
Poabs Organic FOP 1st Infusion
Poabs Organic FOP 1st Infusion

The first infusion of the Poabs FOP produced a liquor with an orange color and a red tint, clear and transparent. The aroma was spicy (pepper), and lightly floral and malty. The body was medium-full, with a sharp, dry feel. There was a medium-strong astringency. The taste had notes of spice (pepper), mineral, and light floral. The aftertaste was lightly sweet and floral.

Satemwa Thyolo OP1 1st Infusion
Satemwa Thyolo OP1 1st Infusion

The first infusion of the Satemwa Thyolo OP1 produced a liquor with an orange color and a deep red tint, clear and transparent. The aroma was very sweet, with scents of dark chocolate and dried fruit (cherries). The body was full, with a round, silky, feel. There was a mild astringency. The taste was sweet, with strong notes of dark chocolate, fruit (cherries and raisins), with a light mineral hint. The aftertaste was sweet and lightly spicy.

Poabs Organic FOP (Left) and Satemwa Thyolo OP1 (Right) Infused Leaves
Poabs Organic FOP (Left) and Satemwa Thyolo OP1 (Right) Infused Leaves
Poabs Organic FOP Infused Leaves
Poabs Organic FOP Infused Leaves

The infused leaves of the Poabs FOP have a uniform copper color. All leaves are medium sized fragments, with some stems in the mix. The aroma has scents of spice (pepper) and light floral hints.

Satemwa Thyolo OP1 Infused Leaves
Satemwa Thyolo OP1 Infused Leaves

The infused leaves of the Satemwa Thyolo OP1 have a uniform dark brown-copper color. The leaves are mostly medium to large fragments, with a few whole leaves, and some long stems in the mix. The stems show a two leaf and small bud pluck. Some large fragments appear to be more mature leaves. The aroma has scents of cocoa, dark chocolate, and dried fruit (raisins, cherries).

Aside from the color of the leaves and liquors, these two black teas were vastly different in feel, aroma, and taste. The Poabs Organic FOP had a more spicy, floral aroma and taste, with a sharp feel. The Satemwa Thyolo OP1 had a sweet, fruity aroma and taste, with a silky, smooth feel. Comparison like this are a great way to smell and taste the difference that growing conditions have on the final product. It is also interesting to note that Poabs Organic Estates are known for their various types of pepper products, and the tea had a spicy, peppery smell and taste.

Both teas are highly enjoyable in their own rites. This was a great experience in comparing visually similar teas that turned out to be completely different in smell and taste. Thank you to Poabs Organic Estates and Satemwa Tea Estates for providing the samples! Cheers to both of your Rainforest Alliance Certified, Freetrade estates!

Thyolo Misty Oolong (312) from Satemwa Tea Estates

Satemwa Tea Estates have impressed me with their artisanal white and black teas so far, so let’s see if the wulong style can follow suit. To learn more about the Satemwa Tea Estates, please visit their website here.

The tea bushes used to produce the Thyolo Misty Oolong from Satemwa Tea Estates is grown on the original tea fields in the Satemwa slopes. They are grown at an average altitude of 3,000 feet (1,000 meters) above sea level. The leaves are lightly oxidized.

The dry leaves have been placed on the digital scale, and the appearance reminds me more of a Darjeeling wulong than a Chinese or Taiwanese wulong. Let the journey begin…

Thyolo Misty Oolong Dry Leaves
Thyolo Misty Oolong Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a vast array or color, from bright green to red to brown to black. There are a few seemingly unbroken leaves attached to a stem, but mostly the leaves are medium fragments. The leaves are quite dry and delicate. The aroma is sweet, with scents of molasses and malt.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) ceramic infusion cup. Purified spring water was heated to 195°F (90°C). The leaves were infused for three minutes on all three infusions.

Thyolo Misty Oolong 1st Infusion
Thyolo Misty Oolong 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a lively golden-yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma was sweet and fruity, with scents of citrus and apricot and/or nectarine. The body was medium, with a soft, delicate feel. The taste had notes of citrus, mineral, very light malt, and a slight pepper-like spice. There was also a very mild astringency. The aftertaste was lightly sweet, and a grassy essence was left on the tongue.

Thyolo Misty Oolong 2nd Infusion
Thyolo Misty Oolong 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a slightly lighter golden-yellow color. The aroma remained fruity, with scents of citrus and stone fruits. The body remains medium. The taste balanced out slightly, but retained notes of citrus, mineral, and slight spice. The slight malt from the first infusion was no longer noticeable, nor the astringency. A note of stone fruit appeared in this infusion. I enjoyed the modest contrasts from the first to second infusion.

Thyolo Misty Oolong 3rd Infusion
Thyolo Misty Oolong 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor with a bright yellow color. The aroma has lightened significantly, as well as the taste. A fourth infusion will not be attempted.

Thyolo Misty Oolong Infused Leaves
Thyolo Misty Oolong Infused Leaves

The infused leaves vary in color from fresh forest green to brown. The green leaves all have reddish-brown edges, showing the light oxidation. Most of the leaves are medium to large fragments, with very few unbroken leaves. The few fully intact leaves show a two leaf pluck. There are a few random bare stems in the mix. The aroma is fruity and slightly citrusy, with a light malt hint.

The Thyolo Misty Oolong is a unique and pleasant tea to experience. I cannot say that it ranks anywhere close to the Zomba Pearls or Handmade Treasure teas, but there is nothing negative to say about the Thyolo oolong. It is certainly different from the wulongs from more eastern regions such as China, Taiwan, India, Indonesia, etc. It is worth a try, and an excellent way to be introduced to the wulongs from Africa. Cheers!

 

 

 

 

Handmade Treasure Variety Black Tea from Satemwa Tea Estates

Alright, a weekends worth of insurance work has been completed, and now I can finally get to the next sample from Satemwa Tea Estates. As I mentioned in my previous post on the Zomba white tea Pearls, Satemwa is located in the Shire Highlands in the “warm heart of Africa”, Malawi. Please take a moment to read my post on the Zomba Pearls to learn more about Satemwa, or visit their website here.

Sifting through the variety of samples, I see many attractive green and black teas, an oolong, and a puer. However, the Handmade Treasure Variety black tea sounds too good to ignore for any longer of a time. The sample packet has been opened, and the smell of bakey malt and appearance of long, finely twisted tea leaves has me very excited. Let the journey begin…

Satemwa Handmade Treasure Black Tea Dry Leaves
Satemwa Handmade Treasure Black Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a brown to black color, with some spots of orange-gold. The leaves are long, wiry, and hand-twisted. The longer leaves measure well over two inches (50 mm). Many of the leaves appear to be unbroken, and the ones that are broken are very large fragments. The aroma is very sweet and malty, with lesser scents of light brown sugar and spice.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) ceramic tasting infusion cup. Purified spring water was heated to 205°F (96°C). Leaves were infused for three minutes on the first infusion, three minutes thirty seconds on the second, and four minutes on the third.

Satemwa Handmade Treasure Black Tea 1st Infusion
Satemwa Handmade Treasure Black Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a very bright, lively, golden-orange color, perfectly clear and transparent. The lively color and appearance certainly suggest that the tea bushes used for this product are grown at high elevations. The aroma is succulent, with strong scents of ripe, sweet oranges and honey, with a slight floral hint. The body is medium, and the feel is very smooth, almost delicate. The taste has strong notes of ripe, sweet oranges, honey, and lesser notes of fruit blossom and mineral. The aftertaste is sweet, like light honey, and persistent.

Satemwa Handmade Treasure Black Tea 2nd Infusion
Satemwa Handmade Treasure Black Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a lighter shade of golden-orange color. The aroma remains sweet and fruity, with light floral hints. The body remains medium, with a smooth feel. The taste retains the ripe, sweet orange and honey flavors, while the floral and mineral notes have become more potent in this infusion. The aftertaste remains sweet and persistent.

Satemwa Handmade Treasure Black Tea 3rd Infusion
Satemwa Handmade Treasure Black Tea 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a lighter color liquor, with a golden-yellow glow. The aroma has lightened, but remains sweet, fruity, and floral. The body has also lightened. The taste has lightened considerably, and balanced on the orange and honey flavors, making the floral and mineral flavors about equally as potent. Despite the lighter character, still a very enjoyable infusion. A fourth infusion may be pushing the limits of these leaves.

Satemwa Handmade Treasure Black Tea Infused Leaves
Satemwa Handmade Treasure Black Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves are a light brownish-green to copper color. These leaves do not appear to be as heavily oxidized as most other black teas. The leaves are quite large, most measuring well over one inch (25 mm), some over two inches (50 mm). There are some large buds attached to the two leaf and bud pluck. Nearly all leaves are unbroken, some attached to the stem. The appearance is impressive. The aroma is sweet and floral, with scents of light honey and orange blossoms. I added an additional photo of the two best specimens pulled from the infusion cup. These are beautiful leaves.

Satemwa Handmade Treasure Black Tea Infused Leaves Closeup
Satemwa Handmade Treasure Black Tea Infused Leaves Closeup

There are a few companies and/or estates that any time I choose a sample of theirs to review, I know it is going to be a great experience. So far, I have one company from Taiwan, one from Sri Lanka, one from China, one from India, and now I have one from Malawi, that always exceeds my expectations. This Handmade Treasure black tea was another amazing experience. Every aspect was impressive. The appearance, aroma, and taste were packed with bright, lively energy. Despite the below freezing temperatures in Pittsburgh, I feel warm after drinking this tea. The warmth and energy from the Shire Highlands in Malawi can be truly felt in each sip. Another success from Satemwa Tea Estates! Cheers to all of the people there that make tea like this possible!

Zomba Pearls White Tea from Satemwa Tea Estates in Malawi

I received a package of samples today that is unique from all of the other packages I have received prior to this. This is the first package of tea samples from any estate in the African continent. My experience with African teas is limited to the two or three samples that were included in the certification courses I have completed. I have read in limited amounts about Africa and its teas in books and certification materials. Once I opened this package, I gained confidence that my experience with African tea was about to develop exponentially.

The Satemwa Tea Estates are located in the Shire Highlands of Malawi. Malawi has been referred to as the “warm heart of Africa.” These estates boast many certifications, from Fair Trade to Rainforest Alliance to the Ethical Tea Partnership. They produce specialty teas of all kinds, including puer and oolong (cannot wait to open those samples soon). Satemwa also takes pride in cultivating what they refer to as superior cultivars. To read more about the Satemwa Tea Estates, please visit their website here.

The Zomba Pearls white tea (107) first caught my attention tonight. The sample packet has been opened, and I cannot decide if I am more intrigued by the shape of the hand-tied leaves or the fruity smell. Enough talk, let the journey begin…

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Zomba Pearls Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from pale light green to reddish-brown. The leaves are skillfully hand-tied into somewhat of a capsule shape. These leaves are unbroken, fully intact leaves still attached to their stems. It is difficult to tell the pluck, but based on the size and shape of the tied leaves, I am assuming a two leaf and bud pluck. The aroma is fruity, lightly floral, and very slight hay.

Four grams of dry leaves were placed in a 8.5 ounce (240 ml) kyusu teapot. Filtered tap water was heated to 185ºF (85ºC). Leaves were infused for one minute thirty seconds on the first infusion, then two minutes on the second and third infusions.

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Zomba Pearls 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a lively pale yellow color, perfectly clear and transparent. The appearance has a very pure, clean effect to it. The aroma is delicate, but sweet (light honey) and fruity, and very slight floral. The body is light-medium, with a silky, almost creamy or juicy feel. The taste is very clean and delicate, with subtle notes of light honey, tropical fruit, and earth (minerals). I may have even picked up a slight black licorice note. There is no astringency whatsoever. The aftertaste is also delicate, but sweet and floral. I have never experienced a tea that was delicate and light bodied, yet this creamy. The pure, clean feel of this tea is truly amazing.

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Zomba Pearls 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a very slightly darker shade of pale yellow color. The aroma remains delicate, with fruity, light honey, and slightly floral. The body remains light-medium, and the silky, creamy feel has been retained. The taste is slightly stronger, and holds the notes of light honey and mineral, but the fruity taste is slightly different, perhaps papaya? The aftertaste is fruity and floral. I may be up all night drinking this tea until the taste is completely gone. It should be noted that this tea has a very bright and uplifting energy to it. It is incredible.

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Zomba Pearls 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor with an identical color to the second infusion. The aroma remains fruity with light honey and floral scents. The body is light-medium, and the feel just as silky and creamy as the first infusion. The taste has become more fruity (papaya), with notes of light honey and mineral, and slight floral and black licorice. The aftertaste remains fruity and floral. This third infusion is honestly as good as the first and second. The photos of the liquor will stop at the three, but the number of infusions will increase until these leaves are exhausted. I will not be wasting any of this taste.

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Zomba Pearls Infused Leaves

The infused leaves are mostly fresh forest green color, with many leaves having light brown to brown areas. There are several pluckings tied together to create each capsule. The pluck is mostly two leaves and a bud, but some are three leaves and a bud. All leaves are unbroken, and fully intact with the stem. There are some quite large leaves measuring well over two inches (50 mm) in length. The aroma is fragrant and fruity, with scents of papaya and honey. This aroma is unbelievable.

I am completely blown away by these Zomba white tea Pearls. Occasionally I come across a tea that smells and tastes so good that I have a hard time imagining that it is completely natural and unflavored. Although I know this tea is unflavored and all natural, it is just hard to believe that nature can create such sensations in the form of a seemingly simple leaf. This tea is a work of art in every aspect. I was excited to try some better quality teas from Africa, but I never expected to be this impressed. Thank you very much to Satemwa Tea Estates for providing these samples. Words cannot describe how much I enjoyed this first review. If it was not nearly midnight already, I would dive in to a second sample. Tomorrow morning cannot come soon enough. Many cheers to Satemwa Tea Estates!

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

Nina’s Japon Green and Black Tea Blend from Nina’s Paris

The second sample that was provided courtesy of Nina’s Paris is called Nina’s Japon. This blend of black tea, Japanese green tea which appears to be a mix of sencha and lightly roasted houjicha, and toasted rice, is enhanced with caramel and vanilla flavoring. For more information on Nina’s Paris, visit their website here. Don’t forget to read my recent review of Nina’s Paris Tigre Blanc Oolong tea.

The sample pack is opened, and a sweet aroma of caramel and vanilla is filling the air. Let the journey begin.

Nina's Japon Dry Leaves
Nina’s Japon Dry Leaves

The dry leaves, being a blend of black tea and two styles of green tea, vary in color from pale light green to greenish-brown to black. There are popped rice grains throughout the mixture. The leaves appear to be a blend of Japanese sencha, Japanese houjicha (roasted green tea, see notes in infused leaves section), and black tea that is difficult to determine the origin, but it may be Japanese also. All tea leaves are rolled, and small to medium sized fragments. The aroma has strong scents of vanilla and caramel, with a toasty scent from the popped rice grains.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) ceramic infusion cup. Purified spring water was heated to 175°F (75°C). The leaves were infused for one minute and thirty seconds.

Nina's Japon 1st Infusion
Nina’s Japon 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a bright, golden-orange color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of vanilla, caramel, and toasted grains. The fragrance is very sweet and smooth. The body is light-medium, with a round feel. The first taste that I noticed is the toasted rice grains, which is quickly complimented by caramel and vanilla. There is a light astringency, and a caramel and vanilla aftertaste. The taste is like a liquid version of caramel popcorn. Each style of tea used in this blend can be felt in light undertones, from the grassy flavor of the sencha to the body and slight maltiness of the black tea. There are quite a few levels to the taste of this tea.

Nina's Japon 2nd Infusion
Nina’s Japon 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor that was surprisingly similar in color as the first infusion, having a golden-orange color. The aroma has retained the caramel and vanilla scents, with the toasted grain scent weakening some. The body remains light-medium, and the feel has flattened some. The astringency has weakened, and the caramel and vanilla tastes are dominant. Overall, I am surprised by how well this tea maintained flavor in the second infusion. The natural tea tastes can be still be felt under the tastes of the caramel and vanilla flavoring.

Nina's Japon 3rd Infusion
Nina’s Japon 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor with a lighter, golden-yellow color. The fragrance continues to fill the room, with strong scents of vanilla and caramel. The body is lighter. Notes of vanilla and caramel are dominant in the taste, with very light undertones of toasted grains. The black tea flavor can be felt more than the green tea in this infusion. This third infusion certainly produced an acceptable flavor.

Nina's Japon Infused Leaves
Nina’s Japon Infused Leaves

The infused leaves vary in color from the copper of the black tea to the fresh forest green of the sencha. As I look through these leaves, I am having a hard time finding any definite houjicha leaves, making me wonder if what I saw in the dry leaves were simply some unintentionally lightly oxidized green tea leaves. To add to the evidence of this possibility, I see some green tea leaves with slightly red edges (oxidation). Most of the leaves are small fragments, with a few medium sized fragments in the mix. The aroma has scents of vanilla, caramel, and toasted grains, with a slight maltiness from the black tea.

The blend of toasted grains, sweet flavoring, and the natural astringency of the tea gave Nina’s Japon a nice balance of tastes. The aroma was very fragrant, filling the room with a sweet, toasty scent. The liquor was smooth, and the first infusion had a nice round feel. Even if you prefer straight teas, it is difficult not to enjoy sipping on these masterfully flavored teas from Nina’s Paris. If you like flavored teas, definitely give Nina’s Paris a try. Cheers!