13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Wulong Tea from Xin Yuan Tea Garden

Every time I order a personal supply of the season’s fresh Ti Kuan Yin wulong tea from Xin Yuan Tea Garden, or Lin Farm as I had previously referred to this garden, they are always kind enough to throw in a few other samples of interesting teas. I was happy to make a larger order of this year’s Spring harvest top grade Ti Kuan Yin, which is available for purchase at The Tea Journeyman Shop, and to give some well deserved revenues to the Lin family, who honestly makes the best Ti Kuan Yin that I have ever had. If you have not had the Ti Kuan Yin from Xin Yuan Tea Garden before, and there is a very high chance that you have not, then I implore you to get some. It will redefine your opinion on Ti Kuan Yin.

With this order, Dong Qin Lin, the daughter whom I communicate with, sent me a very interesting sample which is the focus of my review today. This sample is the 13 years aged Ti Kuan Yin. One of the first teas I ever reviewed from the Lin Farm (Xin Yuan) was an aged Ti Kuan Yin, but it did not look anything like this sample. This sample is darker in color, with less stems, and seems to be a much higher quality.

To learn more about the Xin Yuan Tea Garden, Click Here to see their profile on The Tea Journeyman Shop website. Let the journey begin…

13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves are dark brown to black in color, possibly from periodic roasting during the aging process. Appears to be mostly large leaf fragments, and possibly some whole leaves, some with stems intact. The leaves are in the semi-ball shape. The aroma has scents of dried raisins or prunes, molasses, and aged wood (oak?).

Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in an 18 ounce (530 ml) cast-iron tetsubin teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 205°F (95°C). The leaves were infused for two minutes.

13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea 1st Infusion
13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a golden-orange color and slight red tint, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of wood resin or sap, prunes, and light molasses. The scent is very unique, and almost difficult to read, all in a good way. The body is medium, with a very smooth, silky, clean texture. The taste has notes of sweet wood sap, prunes or raisins, wet stones, and a slight touch of ripe blood orange.The aftertaste is lightly sweet. Again, like the aroma, the taste is somewhat difficult to read, and almost took me to the bottom of the pot to begin defining what I tasted. I was impressed that there was no unpleasant tastes that can often occur in the first infusion of aged teas. This first infusion tasted very clean, despite not being rinsed.

13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea 2nd Infusion
13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a slightly darker golden orange with red tint color. The aroma lost absolutely no strength or character from the first infusion, and may have even strengthened by a slight amount. The body and texture remain medium, smooth, and clean. The taste seems to be slightly fuller, but retains the same general taste notes of sweet wood sap, raisins or prunes, wet stones, and blood orange. The second infusion was slightly better than the first, and I expect the aroma and taste to persist until the end of my work day forces me to prematurely dispose of them.

13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea 3rd Infusion
13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor with a golden-orange color similar to the first infusion, and perhaps a touch lighter in color. The aroma has lightened some, but has plenty of potency. The body and texture are the same. The taste has lightened some, but retains the majority of the taste notes, with the blood orange diminishing some. I still believe these leaves could give at least three or four more worthy infusions. Unfortunately, the end of my work day has arrived, and I have to cut the review off at three. Thankfully, I have another eight gram sample of this same tea, and I know to set an entire day aside to enjoy it.

13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fresh tar black color. The leaves are still quite tightly rolled, and unrolling them reveals a fibrous, almost stringy structure of the aged leaves. The texture reminds me of a loosely knit dry burlap sack, lacking any softness. The leaves that I am able to unroll without completely destroying do appear to be large fragments and whole leaves. A few of the stems display a two leaf and small bud pluck. The aroma has scents of sweet wood sap and molasses. This was among the most interesting set of tea leaves that I have inspected.

13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea Infused Leaf
13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea Infused Leaf

I realize the quality of the above photo is not great, but it is good enough to show the fibrous character of the infused leaf. This is what happened to every leaf that I tried to unroll.

This 13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Wulong Tea from Xin Yuan Tea Garden was a fascinating review subject from start to finish. The aroma and taste were so unique that they were difficult to identify, and my descriptions may not be the most accurate. Regardless, both the aroma and taste were amazing, and the texture of the liquor was remarkably clean, especially for an aged tea. As if the organoleptic experience of the tea was not enough, it was very interesting to inspect the infused leaves. If every tea review I conducted was as interesting as this one was, then I would never get my normal work done at my office.

A heart-felt thank you to Dong Qin Lin and Xin Yuan Tea Garden for providing this fascinating sample. I am so glad they included two samples of it, because I will be ready to get every last infusion out of the second sample. Cheers!

Finally, if you have not already done so, please do me a personal favor and check out my new webstore which I just launched on May 27th. I am adding new products on an almost daily basis, and there are some really interesting teas on this site, as well as five to ten more coming in the next couple of weeks. Please check it out, and share it with your tea loving friends and family. I truly appreciate your help in getting my business name out, and I think tea lovers will appreciate the high quality and low price of the teas in my shop. Thanks again!

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Organic Hand-Picked Midori Shincha Green Tea from NaturaliTea and Yunomi.us

Last year, I found myself late to the Shincha ordering party, and was left empty handed. This year I made it a priority to order some before it was gone. I wanted to try products from various locations and various cultivars. What better place to find diverse products of the same style of Japanese teas than Yunomi.us? Check out the Yunomi.us website here, and you will find plenty of interesting Japanese teas and related accessories.

Shincha is the Japanese equivalent of First Flush, or first harvest of the new growing year. The famous Yabukita cultivar is harvested by hand in late April. This tea is from the NaturaliTea, an organic farm located in Takizawa, Fujieda City, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. Shincha teas are well known for their combination of sweet and bitter flavors, and the temperature used to steep the leaves has a signficant effect on the balance of the sweet and bitter characters.

One of my first descriptive words of any Japanese green tea is usually “fresh”, so I am excited to try one that I know is only a month past its harvest date. The tea packet has been opened, and an incredibly fresh, grassy aroma is filling the air. Let the journey begin…

The dry leaves have a uniform dark forest green color. The leaves are rolled, and are quite uniform in size. The leaves are all medium fragments. There are no whole leaves or stems in the mix. The aroma is very fresh, with strong scents of fresh grass, dark green vegetables, and light sweet wood.

Seven grams of dry leaves were placed in a 9.4 ounce (280 ml) Tokoname kyusu teapot. Filtered tap water was heated to 160ºF (70ºC). The leaves were infused for one minute thirty seconds (1:30).

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Organic Hand-Picked Midori Shincha Green Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a pale jade green color, somewhat hazy, with some medium sized particles. The aroma has scents of fresh grass, cooked dark green vegetables, and seaweed. The body is light, with a somewhat brothy, smooth texture. The taste is sweet and bitter, with notes of fresh grass, cooked dark green vegetables, seaweed, and sea mist. The aftertaste is grassy and very lightly floral, and a grassy and clean essence can be felt on the breath.

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Organic Hand-Picked Midori Shincha Green Tea 2nd Infusion

Steep time was shortened to one minute on the second infusion. The second infusion produced a liquor with a slightly darker shade of pale jade green, again somewhat hazy, and more fine particles. The aroma remains strong, with scents of fresh grass, cooked dark green vegetables, and seaweed. The body remains light, and the texture is brothy and smooth. The taste is nearly identical to the first infusion, with a nice balance of bitter and sweet characters. The aftertaste remains grassy and very lightly floral.

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Organic Hand-Picked Midori Shincha Green Tea 3rd Infusion

Infusion time was increased to one minute fifteen seconds on the third infusion. The third infusion produced a liquor with a lighter shade of jade green than the first and second infusions, with a slight gold tint. The haziness is lighter, but still remains, and the particles are finer than in the second infusion. The aroma has lightened some, and has scents of fresh grass and sea mist. The body and texture have lightened some. The taste has also lightened, and retains notes of fresh grass, seaweed, sea mist, and light cooked green vegetable. The vegetable taste has lightened significantly. The aftertaste remains grassy, but the essence is more floral than previous infusions. The third infusion has plenty of character, and I expect a fourth infusion, and less confidently a fifth infusion to produce acceptable results.

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Organic Hand-Picked Midori Shincha Green Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh dark green color. The leaves are all medium fragments. There are no whole leaves or stems in the mix. The leaves are very soft, saturated, and silky to the touch, and quite easy to tear. These leaves are definitely suitable for consumption. The aroma has scents of cooked dark green vegetables, seaweed, and a very light and sweet floral hint.

The Organic Hand-Picked Midori Shincha Green Tea lived up to the reputation of having strong and well balanced flavors. For newcomers to Japanese green teas, I would probably recommend not starting with this tea, as it is quite powerful. For those who are familiar with Japanese green teas and looking to take their taste experience to the next level, this is certainly an excellent tea to try. People who like vegetal taste in green tea will truly enjoy this product.

I plan to hold on to some of this product for a few months. I must admit that my taste for the various forms and harvests of Japanese sencha is underdeveloped, as I have a difficult time identifying the differences between this Shincha, and later harvests of Sencha. The best way to train the mind and palate is to do side by side comparisons, and that I will do later this year.

Thank you to Yunomi.us anad Matcha Latte Media for providing an excellent platform to discover Japanese teas. Cheers!

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

Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea from Lam Dong Province in Vietnam

Another review, another difficult decision on which sample will have today’s full attention. I still have quite a few interesting teas from Vietnam to try out, so let’s have a taste of the Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea, which originates in the mountains of Lam Dong Province in south Vietnam.

The sample packet has been opened, and a very sweet, fragrant aroma is welcoming me to begin the evaluation. Let the journey begin…

Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a forest green to dark forest green color. The leaves appear to be on the lower side of the oxidation scale. The leaves are in the semi-ball shape, and vary in size from the size of a corn kernel to the size of a kidney bean. These appear to be whole leaves with stems intact, and perhaps a few large fragments. There are no bare stems. The aroma is very sweet, with fragrant scents of brown sugar, molasses, and cinnamon. This is a phenomenal smelling tea.

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 two minutes thirty seconds.

Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea 1st Infusion
Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a light greenish-yellow color, clear and transparent, with few moderately coarse particles. The aroma has scents of sweet milk, light brown sugar, and light orchids. The body is medium, with a silky smooth texture, and a calming energy. The taste has notes of sweet milk, light brown sugar, light orchids, and a very light touch of fruit (too light to identify right now). The aftertaste is sweet and floral, and an impressive floral essence in left on the breath.

Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea 2nd Infusion
Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with more of bright golden-yellow color with a modest green tint. The aroma remains fragrant with scents of sweet milk, brown sugar, and light orchids. The body remains medium, and the texture silky. The taste is slightly stronger overall, but retains the notes of sweet milk, light brown sugar, light orchid, and the fruity note remains very light but present. The aftertaste remains sweet and floral, and the floral essence remains potent.

Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea 3rd Infusion
Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor nearly identical to the second infusion. The aroma has very slightly lightened, but remains quite fragrant and attractive, with scents of brown sugar, sweet milk, and light orchids. The body and texture thinned very slightly. The taste also had a slightly lighter character, but remains very tasteful, with notes of sweet milk, light brown sugar, light orchid, light mineral (wet stone), and light tropical fruit. The aftertaste and essence lightened slightly, but are both very enjoyable.

Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform dark forest green color. The leaves are mostly whole with stems intact. There are a few large fragments in the mix. The pluck varies from two leaves and a bud to four leaves and a bud. Some of the buds are quite developed (as pictured below). The leaves are long and fairly narrow, indicating that this tea is produced from the Chin Shin or closely related cultivar. Few of the leaves had moderate reddish edges, displaying the low level of oxidation. The largest leaf measures 2.75″ (70 mm) long and 1.25″ (32 mm) wide. The leaves have a thin wet leather feel, and are not entirely smooth on the surface. The leaves still have some durability, and I believe at least one to two additional infusions could be produced. A few of the leaves appear to have been bitten by insects. The aroma has scents of mineral (wet stones), light tropical fruit, and very light flowers.

Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea Infused Leaf with Insect Bites
Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea Infused Leaf with Insect Bites
Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea Infused Leaves with Bud
Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea Infused Leaves with Bud
Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea Pluck Display
Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea Pluck Display

Of the six or so samples of Vietnam oolongs that I have evaluated in the past month or so, this Kim Tuyen Oolong has received the highest rating. The aroma of the dry leaves and liquor was incredibly sweet and inviting, and the taste followed suit. Three quality infusions, with more to offer, made this entire analysis a pleasure from start to finish. Even the infused leaves made for an interesting analysis, showing mature buds, insect bites, and large whole leaves. This Kim Tuyen Oolong tea was truly a pleasure to experience.

Cheers!

Jungpana FTGFOP1 CL First Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea from Jungpana Organic Tea Estate and Lochan Tea Limited

It was difficult holding on to this sample for so long, but I do prefer to mix up the various types of samples that I have so I do not lose my appreciate for one type by doing a marathon of reviews on teas of the same classification. Today’s review focuses on the Jungpana FTGFOP 1 CL First Flush 2014 Darjeeling tea from the Jungpana Organic Tea Estate, and another thank you for the generosity of Lochan Tea Limited for providing the sample.

As a quick tangent, I have decided for the time being to stop referring to these teas from Darjeeling as black or oolong in the titles of the reviews. I generally believe these teas to be oolongs, since there is obviously only partial oxidation in the leaves, most easily observed in the first flush products. However, these teas are not marketed as oolongs, nor are they necessarily marketed as blacks. In my opinion, Darjeeling teas certainly deserve the distinction that they already have garnered from the tea world. Thus, I am going to simply refer to these teas as “Darjeeling Tea” in the review titles.

Jungpana Organic Tea Estate is located in the Kurseong South Valley of the Darjeeling district of north India. The altitude of the gardens ranges from 400 meters (1,200 feet) to 1,000 meters (3,000 feet) above sea level. The total estate covers about 100 hectares of land, with tea gardens covering about 73 hectares of that land.

The sample packet has been opened, and the silver hairs on the tips and fresh green appearance are very attractive. Let the journey begin…

Jungpana First Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea Dry Leaves
Jungpana First Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a fresh green to dark green color, with very few leaves showing a reddish-brown to black color. There is a generous portion of tips, all covered in very fresh appearing silver hairs. The leaves are lightly rolled, and appear to be mostly medium to large leaf fragments, with the possibility of a few whole leaves, and some of the tips appear to be quite mature. Some pieces have a leaf and bud with the young stem intact. The appearance generally is very fresh and bright, more so than any other first flush product from 2014 that I have reviewed thus far. The aroma is very fresh and floral, having scents of a spring bouquet of flowers, sweet wood, and light molasses. The aroma has an uplifting effect.

Ten grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 ml) cast-iron teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 195°F (90°C). The leaves were infused for two minutes thirty seconds with thirty seconds being added to subsequent infusions.

Jungpana First Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea 1st Infusion
Jungpana First Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a light, pale golden-yellow color, clear and transparent, with some very fine particles accumulating at the bottom of the cup. The aroma is very fresh, with scents of fresh spring flowers, light grass, light wood, and light honey. The body is medium, with a clean, rounded texture, and a fresh, uplifting energy. The taste has dominant floral notes of fresh spring flowers, and light wood. The aftertaste is floral and lightly woody, with a potent floral essence being left on the breath.

Jungpana First Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea 2nd Infusion
Jungpana First Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a slightly lighter shade of pale golden-yellow color. Some very fine particles are present in the cup. The aroma is still quite potent, with dominant scents of spring flowers and light wood. The honey and grass scents have dissipated. The body remains medium, and the texture clean. The taste has lightened some, but remains dominantly floral, with light wood notes. The aftertaste remains floral, and the essence has lightened some. There is plenty of character in this second infusion, so I will attempt a third infusion.

A photo is not available of the third infusion. The third infusion produced a liquor with a similar shade of light golden-yellow color as the second infusion. The aroma, body, and taste all lightened significantly, but had enough character to enjoy. The third infusion was a nice light bodied, and modestly floral, making perfect for a post-meal beverage.

Jungpana First Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea Infused Leaves
Jungpana First Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves had a fresh and light forest green to forest green color, with few leaves having reddish-brown coloring. There are quite a few whole leaves, and the rest of the leaves are medium to large fragments. There is a generous amount of tips, measuring 18 to 25 mm (.75″ to 1″). The leaves and tips appear very fresh, and have a soft yet durable feel. The aroma has scents of flowers, light green cooked vegetable, and sweet grass.

The Jungpana FTGFOP 1 CL First Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea is a perfect representation of first flush Darjeeling teas. It looks, smells, and tastes incredibly fresh, and has clean, uplifting energy. The floral taste is potent, but not overwhelming. The tea provided two very good infusions, and the third had enough character to be easy to sip if you do not mind a very light taste. I was impressed with this tea from the moment I opened the sample packet, and I am not surprised! Jungpana has been toward the top of my favorite Darjeeling tea estates since I first tried one of their products.

Cheers to Lochan Tea Limited for providing another incredible sample!

 

 

Thea Kuan Imm Oolong Tea from Thai Tea Suwirun Garden in Northern Thailand

Thanks to the generosity of the management at the Thai Tea Suwirun Garden near Chiang Rai City in northern Thailand, I have fresh samples of their Thea Kuan Imm and Jing Shuan (TTES # 12) oolong teas ready for sampling.

Thai Tea Suwirun Garden is a certified organic garden consisting of 480 acres of land. They have been operating for about thirty years, and now offer a variety of oolong, green, and black tea products, including Wirun, a green tea powder. Today’s review will focus on the Thea Kuan Imm oolong tea.

Let the journey begin…

Thea Kuan Imm Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
Thea Kuan Imm Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a pale green to very dark green color. The leaves are in the semi-ball shape. I am expecting mostly whole leaves attached to stems. The semi-ball leaves are about the size of a black bean, and they are fairly consistent. The leaves appear to be moderately roasted. The aroma is very attractive, with scents of sweet wood, molasses, light cinnamon, and light brown sugar.

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.

Thea Kuan Imm Oolong Tea 1st Infusion
Thea Kuan Imm Oolong Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a bright golden-yellow liquor, clear and transparent, with few particles. The aroma is quite fruity, with scents of ripe pears, very light wood, and light honey. The body is medium, with a gentle, silky texture, and a very clean, refreshing energy. The taste has notes of tree fruit (ripe pears), light sweet wood, light honey, and very light mineral. The aftertaste has notes of honey and light wood, and a floral and light mineral essence is left on the breath.

Thea Kuan Imm Oolong Tea 2nd Infusion
Thea Kuan Imm Oolong Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a slightly darker shade of golden-yellow color, with few particles remaining. The aroma continues to be very attractive, with the same scents of pears, honey, and light wood. The body, texture, and energy have lost very little character from the first infusion. The taste has leveled nicely, with the pear and honey notes being most dominant, and the sweet wood and mineral notes continuing to be light. The aftertaste retains the honey and light wood notes, and the essence remains floral.

Thea Kuan Imm Oolong Tea 3rd Infusion
Thea Kuan Imm Oolong Tea 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor with a lighter shade of golden-yellow color, lighter than the first and second infusions. The aroma has lightened some, but retains very pleasant scents of pears and honey. The body and texture have thinned some. The taste has also lightened some, and the strengths of the various notes have changed, with the mineral note gaining strength, and the honey and pears notes losing strength. The third infusion is still quite enjoyable, and I expect a fourth and maybe even fifth infusion to produce a worthy experience.

Thea Kuan Imm Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Thea Kuan Imm Oolong Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a forest green to dark forest green color. Most of the leaves display reddish edges, indicating moderate oxidation. The pluck is three leaves and a bud, some of the the buds being fairly well developed (see photo). The larger leaves are about 1.25 inches (30 mm) long. The leaves are silky and quite delicate. The aroma has scents of wood, and a strange spicy scent that reminds me of the incense burned in the church that I attended throughout my childhood. As the leaves cooled, the scent became sweet and fruity.

This Thea Kuan Imm Oolong Tea from Thai Tea Suwirun is an instant favorite! The aromas and tastes of all three infusions were nothing short of incredible. The energy of this tea was obvious, and it gave the body a refreshing, clean feeling. The level of oxidation and assumed roasting of this tea makes it much different than other Ti Kuan Yin (TieGuanYin) products that I have had, and this one I definitely enjoyed more than the others, even the other roasted varieties. There is only one Ti Kuan Yin that I prefer over this, and I will be doing a review on the fresh spring harvest Ti Kuan Yin top grade in the next week or two, once it arrives.

Thank you very much to the management at Thai Tea Suwirun Garden for providing this excellent sample. Cheers!

 

Special OP Black Tea from Future Generation Co. in Vietnam

Today’s review will focus on a product vaguely named Special OP Black Tea from the Future Generation Company, a Vietnamese exporter specializing in tea from Vietnam. I am currently hoping to receive more specific information on this tea in the near future, and will update this post accordingly. According to previous conversations that I had with my contact at Future Generation Co., many black teas are produced in the north of Vietnam. Whether that is the case with this tea, I do not know, but hope to find out soon.

The sample packet has been opened, and a woody, spicy, sweet smell is exiting the packet. Let the journey begin…

Special OP Black Tea Dry Leaves
Special OP Black Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform black color, with reddish-brown stems. The leaves are long, lightly rolled and curled. The leaves appear to be large fragments, with some whole leaves being expected. No buds or tips are obvious. There are few bare stems in the mix. The aroma has scents of wood, spice, burgundy wine, and molasses. The smell reminds me of Keemun Congou black tea, but the appearance is much different, with larger leaf fragments than Keemuns.

Ten grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 ml) cast-iron teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for three minutes.

Special OP Black Tea 1st Infusion
Special OP Black Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a dark golden-red color, clear and transparent, with absolutely no particles. The aroma had scents of pine wood, burgundy wine, and light pepper. The body was medium-full, with a round, velvety texture. The taste had notes of burgundy wine, pine wood, light pepper, light citrus, and light malt. The burgundy wine note continued in the aftertaste, and a sweetly floral essence is left on the breath.

Special OP Black Tea 2nd Infusion
Special OP Black Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a lighter shade of golden-red color. The aroma lightened significantly, but retained the scents of pine wood and burgundy wine. The body lightened to medium, and the texture thinned. The taste also lightened significantly, and retained notes of burgundy wine, light pine wood, light malt, very light pepper. The citrus note was not detectable in the second infusion. The aftertaste lightened also.

A combination of time restraints and the surprisingly light character of the second infusion convinced me to skip the third infusion for this review.

Special OP Black Tea Infused Leaves
Special OP Black Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform dark brownish-green color. The leaves are large fragments and a respectable amount of whole leaves. There are very few bare stems, and no noticeable buds or tips. The leaves have a soft, smooth texture, and are moderately delicate. The leaves are generally larger than many comparable black teas. The aroma has scents of wood, light spice, and light cocoa.

Overall, I found the first infusion of the Vietnam Special OP Black Tea to be an excellent detour from Chinese Keemum Congou. It had some similar scents and tastes, but in different strengths, and added some other taste notes that I do not pick up in Chinese Keemun Congou. I found this tea to be slightly less robust than Chinese Keemun Congou, making it a good choice for the tea drinkers who do not care to be overwhelmed by body and taste. The appearance of this tea is interesting, with large fragments and whole leaves being lightly rolled. I was surprised by how much character this tea lost from the first to second infusion, especially considering the large fragments and leaves. However, the second infusion was still enjoyable. Given the lower price of this tea, I can see it being an economic and reasonable replacement for Keemun Congou. Of the black teas from Vietnam that I have tried, this was the most interesting and tasteful. This is definitely worth trying, if you can find it.

Cheers!

 

Teaneer Aristocrat Green Tea from Teaneer Teas and Vijayalakshmi Natural Farm

I am getting to the end of my samples from Teaneer Teas and Vijayalakshmi Natural Farm, located in the Nilgiri district of south India. I did save the tea which I found to have the most intriguing name for last, the Teaneer Aristocrat.

The sample packet has been opened, and an interesting aroma is escaping the bag. Let the journey begin…

Teaneer Aristocrate Green Tea Dry Leaves
Teaneer Aristocrate Green Tea Dry Leaves
Teaneer Aristocrate Green Tea Dry Leaves (2)
Teaneer Aristocrat Green Tea Dry Leaves (2)

The dry leaves are brownish-green to dark brown in color, with a generous portion of silver tips. The leaves are long (leggy), and twisted, displaying a two leaf and bud pluck. The leaves are mostly whole with stem attached. There are a few large fragments, and some crumbs, but no bare stems. The aroma has scents of dry hay, barnyard, earth, light cocoa, and very light dark pit fruit. The aroma is quite complex. The dry leaves from Teaneer always appear darker than other green teas, but the true character comes out in the liquor and appearance of the infused 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, with fifteen seconds being added to subsequent infusions.

Teaneer Aristocrate Green Tea 1st Infusion
Teaneer Aristocrat Green Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with pale, light yellow color, clear and transparent, with some fine particulate. The aroma has scents of hay, forest floor, mineral, and earth. The body is light-medium, with a delicate and clean texture. The taste has notes of mineral (wet stone), earth (forest floor), light hay, light wood, and light marine air. The aftertaste has a mineral and hay character, while the essence that is left on the breath combines hay with flowers. There is a very clean, refreshed feel left in the mouth.

Teaneer Aristocrate Green Tea 2nd Infusion
Teaneer Aristocrat Green Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a darker shade of golden-yellow color. The fine particulate continues to be present in the second infusion. The aroma retains the scents of earth, forest floor, mineral, and a hint of marine air. The body and texture retain similar characteristics to the first infusion. The taste is better balanced, and retains the same general notes as the first infusion, again with the marine air note gaining some strength. The aftertaste and essence remain the same as the first infusion.

Unfortunately, my camera malfunctioned after taking the third photo, but I did not realize it until now, so there is no photo of the third infusion. The third infusion produced a liquor with a lighter shade of golden yellow than the second infusion, but still darker than the first infusion. The fine particulate continues to be present even in the third infusion. The aroma has lightened some, and retains the scents of minerals, forest floor, and marine air. The body is light. The taste has lightened some, and retains notes of mineral, forest floor, earth, and marine air. The aftertaste and essence have lightened some.

Teaneer Aristocrate Green Tea Infused Leaves
Teaneer Aristocrat Green Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a very fresh light to average forest green color. There is some black particulate remaining on the leaves.The leaves have mostly a two leaf and bud pluck. There are some more developed buds in the mix, and no bare stems. Most of the leaves are whole with stem intact, and other leaves are large fragments. The leaves are long and narrow, and have a soft, almost faux-leather texture. I believe another worthy infusion could be extracted from these leaves. The aroma has scents of forest floor, hay, and very light cocoa.

Some of these green teas from Teaneer, including this Aristocrat product, are very unique in their appearance, being covered by a dark film-like material that can be seen as fine particulate in the cup, and even some left on the infused leaves. I assume this is a result of the firing procedure employed by Vijayalakshmi Natural Farm. I also assume that it is this firing procedure, and the resulting dark film, that gives the tea the earthy, mineral, forest floor characteristics. Although this may seem to sound unclean, this tea leaves behind a very clean feel in the mouth, and has a very refreshing effect. It takes some adaptation, but by the end of the first infusion, I began liking this tea much more.

Cheers to Teaneer Teas and Vijayalakshmi Natural Farm for providing another unique and interesting sample!

Rohini Esquire 1st Flush 2014 Black Tea from Rohini Tea Estate and Lochan Tea Limited

Today’s review will focus on the Rohini Esquire 1st Flush 2014 Black Tea from Rohini Tea Estate. Gopaldhara and Rohini Tea Estates were two of the first estates in the Darjeeling area to generously send me samples of their products to try. If you have not tried a Wonder Tea from Gopaldhara, look for it, because they are amazing teas. However, I do not recall seeing this Esquire product in last year’s catalog, so I was excited to see it in the package of samples from Lochan Tea.

Rohini Tea Estate is located in the Kurseong South Valley of the Darjeeling district of India. To learn more about the Gopaldhara and Rohini Tea Estates, visit the website here.

The sample packet has been opened, and the rolled leaves appear quite different than other first flush Darjeeling teas. Let the journey begin…

Rohini Esquire First Flush 2014 Dry Leaves
Rohini Esquire First Flush 2014 Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have the typical first flush Darjeeling tea colors of light to dark green, reddish-brown to dark brown, and black. The leaves are lightly rolled, but the rolled leaves are certainly larger than other first flush Darjeeling teas. These leaves appear to be medium and large fragments, and there is a good chance that there are a few whole leaves in the mix. There are a few silver tips, and very few bare stems. The aroma is very attractive, with scents of brown sugar, molasses, sweet wood, spice, and light flowers.

Nine grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 ml) cast-iron teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 195°F (90°C). The leaves were infused for two minutes thirty seconds, with an additional thirty seconds being added to subsequent infusion.

Rohini Esquire First Flush 2014 1st Infusion
Rohini Esquire First Flush 2014 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright golden-yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of fresh spring flowers, wood, light honey, and very light grape. The body is medium-full, with a smooth, velvety texture. The taste is very fresh, and has dominant notes of hyacinth and wood, with a lighter note of honey. The aftertaste and essence are both flowery, and there is a honey-like feel left in the mouth.

Rohini Esquire First Flush 2014 2nd Infusion
Rohini Esquire First Flush 2014 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a lighter shade of golden-yellow color. The aroma has lightened, but retains the floral dominance, and a light honey scent. The body and texture have thinned. The taste has also lightened, and retains the floral character, although significantly less intense. This second infusion had enough taste to be enjoyable, but a third infusion will not be attempted.

Rohini Esquire First Flush 2014 Infused Leaves
Rohini Esquire First Flush 2014 Infused Leaves

The infused leaves varied in color from light to dark forest green, and light brown to reddish-brown. There are some medium sized fragments, but most of the leaves are large fragments, and there are a few whole leaves. There are more tips than expected. There are few bare stems in the mix. The leaves have a soft, smooth texture, and tear rather easily. The aroma has scents of wet spring flowers, wood, and a light spice.

This Rohini Esquire was unique in it’s appearance, and the presence of larger leaf fragments than some other Darjeeling teas, but other than that it was a fairly typical Darjeeling tea with regard to the general characteristics of the tea. By no means is that a negative comment on the tea, just to clarify. The aroma and taste were very fresh and floral. The honey-like feel that this tea left in the mouth was also unique. The color of the first infusion was very bright and attractive. The aroma of the liquor filled the room with a very pleasant scent. This was a very nice product, which I have come to expect from the Rohini Tea Estate.

Cheers to Lochan Tea Limited, as always, for their generosity in providing this sample.

Tan Cuong Green Tea from Thai Nguyen Province of Vietnam

Back to the samples from Vietnam, as I am in the mood for a green tea, and these Vietnam samples are the most unfamiliar and interesting teas on my review list. Today’s review focuses on the Tan Cuong Green Tea. This is among the more famous green tea products in Vietnam. The tea is grown and produced just north of Hanoi, in the Thai Nguyen province, near the Red River delta.

This is the first of the “specialty” green tea products that I will be tasting from this supplier. The sample packet has been opened. Let the journey begin…

Tan Cuong Green Tea Dry Leaves
Tan Cuong Green Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform pale dark forest color. The leaves appear to be mostly medium to large fragments, and possibly some whole leaves. The leaves are rolled, and curled. There are few bare stems, and some buds in the mix. The aroma has scents of sweet dry grass and light brown sugar.

Ten grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 ml) cast-iron teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 175°F (75°C). The leaves were infused for one minute thirty seconds.

Tan Cuong Green Tea 1st Infusion
Tan Cuong Green Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a light golden-green color, clear and transparent. The aroma had scents of fresh cut grass, toasted nuts, and a very light brown sugar. The body was light, with a smooth, easy to sip texture. The taste had notes of fresh cut grass, toasted nuts, and light wood. The aftertaste is vegetal and grassy, with a nice flowery essence being left on the breath.

Tan Cuong Green Tea 2nd Infusion
Tan Cuong Green Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a slightly bolder shade of golden-green color. The aroma lost no strength, retaining the scents of fresh cut grass and toasted nuts. The body retained the same level as the first infusion. The taste balanced out well, and retained all the same notes of fresh cut grass, light wood, and toasted nuts. The aftertaste and essence retained their strength, also. I was quite impressed by the second infusion.

Tan Cuong Green Tea 3rd Infusion
Tan Cuong Green Tea 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor with a very slightly lighter color than the second infusion, but slightly darker than the first. The aroma lightened slightly, but retained the same scents. The body and taste also thinned slightly, but all retained the same general notes, with the toasted nut note diminishing more than the fresh cut grass or light wood notes. This was still a very good tasting infusion.

Tan Cuong Green Tea Infused Leaves
Tan Cuong Green Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color, with some slight variation in the shade. The leaves are mostly medium to large fragments, and there are more whole leaves than I originally estimated. The pluck is two leaves and a fine bud. There are also a few young bare stems in the mix, as well as young buds. The leaves have a soft, smooth texture, and are fairly delicate. Many of the leaves have not fully unrolled, and I believe these leaves may produce a fourth worthwhile infusion.

Overall, I find this tea to be very comparable to several styles of Chinese green tea in taste and aroma. Besides the bright and attractive color of the infusion, I would have to say I am most impressed by the consistency and strength of the aroma and taste of this tea through all three infusions. The third infusion had plenty of taste, and I imagine a fourth infusion would still produce an acceptable flavor. The flavor of this tea would allow it to be a very suitable daily green tea. Generally, I have nothing negative to note on this product, other than perhaps the fact that there is not necessarily a characteristic that really stands out over other teas. Regardless of that fact, I really enjoyed this product.

Cheers!