Phu Tho Green Tea from Phu Tho Province in Vietnam

Just when I thought I had finished reviewing all of the interesting teas that arrived in the sample package from Vietnam months ago, my reorganization of samples overturned the most expensive price per kilogram green tea that I had not previously noticed at all. Today’s review will focus on the Phu Tho Green Tea.

Phu Tho Province is located in the center of northern Vietnam. Beautiful photos from the province show mist covered and steep hillsides covered in tea bushes. However, this province is among the poorest in Vietnam, with the lowest incomes being about USD $6 per month for each worker in a given household. That is unbelievable. Reading a stat like this makes me feel sick that I have ever complained about my income, even given the obvious and drastic differences in economies and cost-of-living between rural Vietnam to urban Pittsburgh.

Anyway, tea growing is a very important aspect of the economy of the Phu Tho Province. Being located in a subtropical monsoon region, this is a perfect place to grow quality tea.

The sample packet has been opened, and one can easily recognize that this is hand-rolled tea. Let the journey begin…

Phu Tho Green Tea Dry Leaves
Phu Tho Green Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a green to dark green color, with a nice amount of dry silver buds. The leaves are mostly whole, with some being large fragments. Pluck shows two leaves and a bud, many with the stem intact. The leaves are hand rolled, with an impressive level of precision and uniformity. There are no bare stems in the mix. The buds are silver, but do not have any tangible downy-like hairs. The smell has scents of roses, sweet grass, and lighter scents of smoke and toasted nuts.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 175°F (75°C). The leaves were infused for 3:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 175°F (75°C). Steep the leaves for a maximum of 2:00 minutes. Expect three quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves.

Phu Tho Green Tea Infusion
Phu Tho Green Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a light golden-yellow color with a slight jade tint, clear and transparent. The aroma has notes of sweet grass, toasted nuts, roses, mineral (metal iron), and light smoke. The body surprisingly is a hearty medium, with a full, round texture. There is an intermediate level of astringency. The taste has notes of grass, roses, toasted nuts, mineral (metal iron), light smoke, light wood, and light asparagus as the liquor cools. The aftertaste carries the grass and mineral notes, slowly developing into a rose essence.

Phu Tho Green Tea Infused Leaves
Phu Tho Green Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color, with the stems being a greenish-brown. There is an impressive number of whole leaves and buds with stems intact. The remainder of the leaves are all large fragments. The leaves are long and fairly narrow, with the longest leaf measuring under 1.5 inches (38 mm). The leaves have fine sawtooth-like edges, and a smooth, soft, fine texture. The smell has scents of roses, sweet grass, toasted nuts, mineral, and steamed vegetable.

The Pho Tho Green Tea is definitely the best overall quality green tea that I have tried from Vietnam. The quality of production was well above and beyond that of the six or seven other green teas from Vietnam that were included in the sample box. The taste was very consistent through three infusions. In fact, I enjoyed the second and third infusions more than the first. The taste seemed to come to a nice balance in the second and third infusions. The mineral (metal iron) taste was interesting, and I cannot say that I was ever able to pick out the exact metal that I have tasted, but this was definitely iron. Perhaps cast iron pans are used during production? This was the closest thing to “artisan” tea that I have found in the box of samples from Vietnam.

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Organic White Peony (Bai Mu Dan) White Tea from TeaVivre

For those of you who did not see the photographic evidence that I posted to my social networks late last evening, I have officially completed the organization of all of my tea samples! This was a huge victory for me, as the various boxes were really stacking up in my storage room, and thus causing me anxiety every time I opened the door to this room. But, that is no longer a problem, and all samples are sorted by country of origin. I would have preferred to organize by region, but I ran out of boxes. Oh well. Here is the photo of my “organized” tea samples.

Organized Tea Samples
Organized Tea Samples

Again, I found many good samples that had been lost in the chaos. As someone who has recently made huge changes to dieting and lifestyle, I have been focusing more specifically on organic products in general, including tea. I was excited to find several organic tea samples, including this Organic White Peony (Bai Mu Dan) from TeaVivre. If you are passionate about organic products, and want to try a light and satisfying white tea, visit the TeaVivre homepage! You can get 1.75 ounces (50 grams) of Organic White Peony Tea for $10.90. TeaVivre has a large variety of fresh, natural, and high quality Chinese teas, many of which are organic! There are many tea retailers out there offering Chinese teas, but few have the assortment that TeaVivre offers.

This Organic White Peony Tea comes from Mount Taimu, Fuding County, Fujian Province, in eastern China. Fuding is very highly respected for the white tea produced here, especially the White Peony and Silver Needle teas. The difference between White Peony and Silver Needle white teas is quite simple. White Peony uses a two leaf and bud pluck. Silver Needle is usually a very fine unopened leaf enveloping a fresh tea bud. This Organic White Peony from TeaVivre is produced using leaves harvested from the Da Bai (Large White) and Da Hao (Large Hair) cultivar tea bushes.

The sample packet has been opened, and a sweet, floral, and robust scent is escaping the packet. Let the journey begin…

Organic White Peony Bai Mu Dan Tea Dry Leaves
Organic White Peony Bai Mu Dan Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves range in color from bright green to forest green, and light brown to dark brown, with some of the leaves being covered in fine silver downy-like hairs. The buds appear white from the abundance of silver hairs, and are needle shaped. The thin stems are dark brown. The pluck is two fine leaves and a long bud. The leaves have a smooth, light, and crisp texture. Many of the leaves are whole, but the majority are medium to large fragments. Considering the small sample packets that the leaves were packed into, I would expect the leaves to arrive in better condition if purchased in the retail quantity and packaging. Many of the leaves and buds are detached from the stems, but there are no bare stems in the mix. The smell carries scents of hay, tea roses, dried cherry, dark honey, and light burgundy wine.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 185°F (85°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 185°F (85°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 minutes. Expect three quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves. Add 30 seconds to each subsequent infusion.

Organic White Peony Bai Mu Dan Tea Infusion
Organic White Peony Bai Mu Dan Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright, pale golden-yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma carries scents of hay, dandelion, light honey, lemon, and cedar wood. The body is light-medium, with a surprisingly round and robust texture. The taste has notes of hay, dandelion, lemon, cedar wood, light honey, and burgundy wine. The aftertaste carries the hay, lemon, and burgundy notes. There is a moderate level of astringency. Overall, this is a very nicely rounded white tea!

Organic White Peony Bai Mu Dan Tea Infused Leaves
Organic White Peony Bai Mu Dan Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fairly uniform fresh forest green color, with the buds being slightly lighter green, and the stems light brown. The leaves are mostly medium to large fragments, with some whole leaves in the mix. The buds are all whole, with an average length of about 1 inch (25 mm). The stems show a pluck of two leaves and a bud. The leaves all have a soft, smooth, fairly delicate texture. The smell carries scents of hay, dandelion, wood, and light burgundy wine.

The Organic White Peony (Bai Mu Dan) Tea from TeaVivre is a good quality, organic, and reasonably priced white tea. More robust and flavorful than the Silver Needle styles of white tea, this Organic White Peony has much to offer in terms of aroma and taste over at least three infusions. With caffeine levels high enough to keep your eyes open, but low enough to not hinder sleep, this is a great tea to enjoy at any time during the day or evening, unless you are very sensitive to caffeine. This is a good every day use type of white tea, inexpensive compared to Silver Needle, and consistent through multiple infusions. Click Here to go to the TeaVivre website, and find the Organic White Peony under the White – Organic category.

Thanks to Angel at TeaVivre for supplying this sample of Organic White Peony (Bai Mu Dan) Tea. Cheers!

Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea from Mountain Tea Company

I am in the process of organizing all of my samples from this year, and I must admit that it has been quite the task. I am going against my will, and simply organizing the samples by country of origin. Quite honestly, I did not have enough boxes to organize by region, which I would certainly prefer. On the bright side, I am finding some really great samples that came in small packets that simply shifted little by little to the bottom of other boxes.

This sample of Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea from Mountain Tea Company is one of those great samples that got lost in the mix for a while. Thankfully, it has resurfaced at a perfect time, as I have been desiring a Taiwanese oolong for a few weeks. I have been enjoying oolongs from Thailand and China, with the occasional Vietnam or Indonesia oolong, but my supply of Taiwan oolongs has become quite low, except for a few Jin Xuan products of varying quality. I love Jin Xuan, but I need a break!

The leaves of this Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea are harvested from the Si Ji Chun cultivar grown in Nantou County, Taiwan. Mountain Tea Company owns three tea gardens, one on Wushe Mountain. I cannot say with certainty whether the tea bushes that produced these leaves grow at the Wushe Mountain garden, or one of the other two. Regardless, all gardens are considered high mountain locations, thus I am expecting a very happy oolong experience out of this review. For more information on the Mountain Tea Company, please click here.

The sample packet has been opened, and despite the months that have passed since first receiving this sample, the scent of the dry leaves is remarkably sweet and fragrant. Let the journey begin…

Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves range in color from light green to dark green. The leaves are in the compact, semi-ball shape, with few stems, but not as many as I commonly see in semi-ball oolongs. This fact indicates more time and effort by the manufacturer during production to remove the majority of stems. From the few stems that are present, I am seeing only two leaves on the pluck, and I expect very small buds to be present also. The scent of the dry leaves is truly incredible! Full, sweet scents of brown sugar, ripe peaches and apricots, gardenia flowers, honey, and sweet cream are all present. I am starting to be reminded of the reasons why Taiwanese oolongs are so expensive and yet worth every penny.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat the water to 195°F (90°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 minutes. Expect three or more quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves. I recommend cutting at least a full minute off the steep time for the second infusion (1:30 to 2:00 total steep time), and then 2:00 to 2:30 minutes for the third.

Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Infusion
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a very bright greenish-yellow color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma is phenomenal, with full scents of gardenia flowers, honey, stewed peaches and apricots, sweet cream, and carmelized sugar. The body is medium, with a clean, silky texture. The taste carries notes of peaches, apricots, gardenia flowers, sweet cream, honey, brown sugar, and a very light but noticeable hint of cooked spinach. The aftertaste is top notch, combining gardenia with sweet cream. As the aftertaste lingers, the sweet cream trails off and a hint of honeydew melon sets in, while the gardenia holds its potency. This is an incredible tea from start through the lingering finish!

Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Infused Leaves Closeup
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Infused Leaves Closeup
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Single Infused Leaf
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Single Infused Leaf

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color. Many leaves display a rather dark shade of red on the edges. I would estimate the oxidation at 30%, give or take 5%. Most of the leaves are whole, with a few large fragments. Many leaves are totally disconnected from the stem. The leaves that are connected to the stem show a two leaf and tiny bud pluck. Only one stem had a third leaf. The leaves have a thicker, leathery texture, evidence that the Si Ji Chun cultivar is a close relative of the TieGuanYin cultivar. Most of the leaves are fairly young, but the few larger leaves are longer and fairly broad, not quite as broad as the Jin Xuan leaves, but close. The smell is again incredible, with full scents of gardenia flowers, peaches and apricots, brown sugar, sweet cream, and honey.

I am officially obsessed with Taiwanese oolongs again. The Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea from Mountain Tea Company is fully responsible for reviving this obsession. Awe-inspiring from the scent of the dry leaves through the entire drinking experience and the inspection of the infused leaves, this tea is a phenomenal product that is easy to afford and appreciate. Although not everyone will taste the many notes that are listed above, any level of tea drinker will quickly notice that this tea is simply delicious. The lingering aftertaste will not let you forget just how good this product is.

Thank you to the management at Mountain Tea Company for providing this sample of Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea. You can purchase some of this tea from Mountain Tea Company by clicking here.

Luan Tze Oolong Tea from Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership in Thailand

Today, I will be focusing on the Luan Tze Oolong Tea. This is an organically grown high mountain (Kao Shan Cha) oolong tea. The raw tea leaves are harvested from the TTES # 17 (Qing Xin) cultivar.

The Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership is located in Bhan Khun Wang, Tambon Mae Win, Amphoe Mae Wang, Chiang Mai Province, north Thailand. The garden cultivates only five acres (2.02 hectares) of land, and of these five acres, only about half is covered in tea. The cultivars grown are the TTES #17 (Qing Xin) and TTES #12 (Jin Xuan). The tea garden has an average altitude above 1,500 meters (4,900 feet). The factory focuses completely on the production of oolong and green tea. A Google map of the Bhan Khun Wang area is provided below. For more information on the Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership, please visit their website here.

The sample packet has been opened, and a sweet, biscuity smell is filling the air. Let the journey begin…

Doi Inthanon Luan Tze Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
Doi Inthanon Luan Tze Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark greenish-brown color. There is a generous portion of buds that lean more to a golden color. The leaves are almost entirely whole leaves, many attached to stems with buds, and very few large fragments. There are no crumbs whatsoever. The leaves are obviously hand plucked, and based on the uniformity and good condition of the leaves, hand rolled. There was much care put into the production of this tea. The pluck is mostly two young leaves and a bud, with a few of the plucks not having a bud. The buds appear to be fairly young also. The leaves appear to be oxidized to about a 30% to 40% level. The smell of the dry leaves has scents of sweet dry tree bark, cinnamon, caramelized brown sugar, fresh baked biscuits, and baked peaches.  As seems to be the case with all of the teas from Doi Inthanon Tea, the appearance and smell of the dry leaves are quite impressive.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 195°F (90°C). Steep the leaves for 2:00 to 3:00 minutes. Expect three or more infusions out of the same serving of leaves.

Doi Inthanon Luan Tze Oolong Tea Infusion
Doi Inthanon Luan Tze Oolong Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright golden yellow color, like natural bee honey, and perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of stewed peaches, brown sugar, cinnamon, and reminds me of baked peach pie. The body is solid medium, with a honey-like tongue coating texture. The taste has notes of sweet tree bark, cinnamon, fresh baked biscuit, and light honey, with baked peach and floral undertones. The aftertaste is peachy and floral, and these two tastes linger for an impressive amount of time.

Doi Inthanon Luan Tze Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Doi Inthanon Luan Tze Oolong Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves display either a fresh slightly dark forest green or greenish-brown color, evidencing an oxidation level of around 30% to 40%. 99.9% of the leaves are whole and attached to stems. The very few fragments I did find were of buds, not opened leaves. The majority of plucks have a bud attached also. The pluck is either two slightly more mature leaves and no bud, or two young leaves and a fairly young bud. The buds have an average length of about 0.5 inches (10 – 15mm). The leaves are long and lean more towards having a narrow shape. The leaves are soft, smooth, and leathery, having a more sturdy feel than the other two teas from Doi Inthanon. There are no bare stems in the mix. The smell of the infused leaves has scents of stewed peach, wet tree bark, biscuits, light honey, light flowers, and light cooked leafy green vegetables. Again, the appearance of the infused leaves is very impressive.

The Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership went three for three with regard to receiving high marks on all samples that they sent to me. This Luan Tze Oolong, produced from leaves of the TTES 17 (Qing Xin) cultivar, had a higher quality, more refined taste than the Yun Bi and Jade Tea, both produced from leaves of the TTES 12 (Jin Xuan) cultivar. As I mentioned in my two previous posts, one on the Yun Bi Oolong and the other on the Jade Tea, the amount of precision and care that is taken to harvest and produce the teas at Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership is among the highest that I have seen. This is certainly the result of skillfully hand plucking and hand rolling the leaves. The quality of the aroma and taste are consistent through the first three infusions, and finally begin to gradually dissipate thereafter.

This Luan Tze Oolong, as well as the Yun Bi and Jade Tea, are all a true pleasure to analyze and appreciate from the moment that the package is opened. The management at Doi Inthanon Tea tells me that these products are not sold outside of Thailand, and in fact only sell these teas out of the small shops in and around the national park where the tea garden is located. With that being the case, I am truly honored to have had an opportunity to experience these teas, and I certainly hope this is not the last time I will get the pleasure of trying them. I am considering to purchase a small quantity of each of the three teas to offer on The Tea Journeyman Shop, as well as at tea tasting events that will focus strictly on teas from Thailand. Interested in trying some? Leave me a message of encouragement on this post or in a private email!

A huge thanks to the management at Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership for their generosity in sending these phenomenal samples! Cheers!

Superior Grade Flowery Pekoe Black Tea from Craigmore Plantations

It seems like it has been a long time since my last review. To be honest, I am starting to run low on interesting samples to review, and some that I do have would produce reviews that are slightly redundant due to the similar types of teas that these sample packages contain. Also, I have had an opportunity come my way that has taken some of my time from my reviews, and I hope to have more of an announcement forthcoming on that opportunity within a few months.

Anyway, enough excuses and talk, let’s get to the review. Today, I am focusing on the Superior Grade Flowery Pekoe Black Tea from the Craigmore Plantations. The Craigmore Plantations are located in the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu state, in southern India. This Superior Grade Flowery Pekoe is considered high altitude grown, with the average altitude being about 5,500 feet (1,675 meters) above sea level.

The sample packet has been opened, and this black tea certainly has a very fresh flowery scent. Let the journey begin…

Craigmore Superior Grade Flowery Pekoe Black Tea Dry Leaves
Craigmore Superior Grade Flowery Pekoe Black Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a perfectly uniform black color. There are very few stems in the mix. The leaves are all medium sized fragments, machine rolled, and shaped more like small lightly rolled pellets, which is consistent with the pekoe grade. The pellets have a rigid, very dry feel, and crack easily into coarse pieces. The smell has scents of fresh wild flowers, malt, white pepper, light sweet wood, and perhaps a very light touch of candied cranberries.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 205°F (96°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 minutes. The same serving of leaves may be used twice, with the expectation of the second infusion being lighter in character.

Craigmore Superior Grade Flowery Pekoe Black Tea Infusion
Craigmore Superior Grade Flowery Pekoe Black Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright reddish-orange color, clear and transparent. The smell has scents of white pepper, wood, wild flowers, light malt, and fresh baked bread. The body is full, with a lively yet smooth texture. The taste is somewhat brisk, and has notes of white pepper, wood, light malt, light wild flowers, and fresh baked bread. There is a strong, but not overpowering, astringency that lightens as the liquid cools. The aftertaste is sweet, woody, with a touch of peppery spice. The sweet aftertaste pleasantly lingers on the breath.

Craigmore Superior Grade Flowery Pekoe Black Tea Infused Leaves
Craigmore Superior Grade Flowery Pekoe Black Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fairly uniform copper color, with a few leaves leaning toward a greenish-brown. The leaves are all medium sized fragments. There are very few stems in the mix.The leaves have a smooth and leathery texture, and are not delicate. The smell has scents of fresh baked bread, white pepper, wood, and light wild flowers. The smell gets significantly sweeter as the leaves cool.

Of the four black teas that I have sampled from Craigmore Plantations, the Superior Grade Flowery Pekoe has been the favorite. The lively, smooth, texture and full body gave a boost of energy the moment the liquid hit my tongue. The spicy, woody taste is robust yet not overpowering. This tea will take milk, sugar, or lemon very well, but is certainly palatable on its own. The high altitude terroir can be felt in the flowery notes of the aroma and taste of the liquid, as well as the moderately brisk character. The bright color of the liquid is uplifting and inspiring. The expertise in production can be seen in the uniform appearance of the dry leaves. Overall, this is a very good quality Nilgiri black tea.

Thank you to the management of Craigmore Plantations for providing this sample of Superior Grade Flowery Pekoe Black Tea. Cheers!

Mint Green Tea Fusion from Satemwa Tea Estate

Just when I thought I was about to have a typical, not-so-exciting sample from Satemwa Tea Estate, I poured out the contents of the Mint Green Tea Fusion packet. Then I saw mint leaves that were plucked like tea leaves, with two fine mint leaves and a small mint bud. Then I smelled the leaves. Then I grabbed my note pad, because a sample that I did not originally expect to review proved to be much more interesting than I assumed it to be. Shame on me for assuming that any product from Satemwa is anything less than interesting (my head is hanging in shame).

So here I am, with the review of the day focusing on the Mint Green Tea Fusion (621) from Satemwa Tea Estate. Satemwa Tea Estate is located in and around Thyolo, Malawi. To read more about Satemwa, please visit my introductory page to this wonderful estate at The Tea Journeyman Shop. Don’t forget to check out the two white teas that I offer from Satemwa Tea Estate at The Tea Journeyman Shop, including the Bvumbwe Peony and the Satemwa Antlers. Not surprisingly, these are two of the best selling products at The Tea Journeyman Shop.

This product is not flavored with mint. It is simply a blend of the Zomba Steamed TSFOP Green tea and mint leaves. I do not think the mint leaves are peppermint or spearmint. I would guess grapefruit mint, but I will have to check with my contact at Satemwa Tea Estate.

The sample packet has been opened, and the fact that this is not a common mint tea blend is immediately obvious. Let the journey begin…

Satemwa Mint Green Tea Fusion Dry Leaves
Satemwa Mint Green Tea Fusion Dry Leaves

The dry tea leaves have a uniform dark greenish brown appearance, while the dry mint leaves have a fresh, bright forest green color. The tea leaves are large fragments, and are lightly rolled. About 60% of the mint leaves are whole and unbroken, many of which are still attached to stems that show a two fine leaf and slightly opened mint bud pluck. The remaining 40% of mint leaves are medium to large fragments. The green tea leaves are steamed, and have a very light, fluffy, crispy texture. There are a few bare tea stems, and a few small tea buds in the mix. Strangely, the mint leaves are the star of the dry leaves show. The smell has scents of dried grapefruit mint, oregano, dried grass, very light brown sugar, light citrus (grapefruit). Interestingly, there is a spicy, herbal scent that hints of damiana leaf. This almost smells like a blend that will taste as good sprinkled on your favorite baked dish as it will when steeped in a teapot.

I prepared this sample as I would normally. I placed the ten gram sample of dry leaves in a 21 ounce (620 ml) cast iron teapot. Purified water was heated to 175°F (75°F). The leaves were infused for 2:00 minutes. At home, use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Expect two to three quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves. I recommend not exceeding the 2:00 minutes of steep time.

Satemwa Mint Green Tea Fusion Infusion
Satemwa Mint Green Tea Fusion Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright, golden-yellow color and a touch of jade green, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of grapefruit mint, seaweed, oregano, salted butter, and a hint of nectarine. The body is light-medium, with a clean, lively texture, and a refreshing energy. The taste has notes of grapefruit mint, mild seaweed, light oregano, salted butter, and citrus.The aftertaste leans to the grapefruit mint and spice notes, and a refreshing minty essence is left on the breath.

As I finish this review, I am enjoying the third infusion of these leaves. The third infusion is developing a mineral taste at the back of the tongue that hands through the aftertaste. Blending with the grapefruit mint notes, which are still present, makes for a very pleasant aftertaste. After three infusions, I am mightily impressed by this product. I wish I had more.

Satemwa Mint Green Tea Fusion Infused Leaves
Satemwa Mint Green Tea Fusion Infused Leaves

The infused tea leaves have a fresh, light forest green color, while the mint leaves have a uniform dark forest green color. Interesting how the tea leaves and mint leaves seemed to trade colors during the infusions. The tea leaves are all large fragments, with some bare stems in the mix, and a few fairly young buds. The largest leaf fragment measures about 1.75 inches (<45 mm). The mint leaves are small, but mostly whole and unbroken, with two small leaves and freshly opened buds attached to the stem. There are some large mint leaf fragments also. The smell has scents of grapefruit mint, citrus, oregano, lemongrass, and mild seaweed. The smell is simply incredible. Below is a not great photo of one of the grapefruit mint plucks. The leaves are folded in, but whole.

Satemwa Mint Green Tea Fusion Infused Mint Leaves
Satemwa Mint Green Tea Fusion Infused Mint Leaves

I personally thought this was the most interesting blend of mint and tea that I have ever had. In my opinion, the aroma and taste of the infusion was simply beautiful. The consistency over three infusions was also impressive. This Mint Green Tea Fusion has made my Friday go by very quickly, as I have been intrigued by each sip, and there were many of them after three 21 ounce pots. I do not currently have a mint green tea blend in my personal collection, and I must say I am tempted to ask Satemwa to include a kilogram of this tea with my next inventory purchase for the Tea Journeyman Shop. My question is how would a more casual tea drinker, or one who is used to the more typical peppermint or spearmint mixed with Chinese gunpowder or Chun Mee green teas, feel about this Satemwa version? They are vastly different in every way! If your appreciation of tea expands to not only the aroma and taste in the cup, then you will want to check this product out! It may change the way you view mint tea blends. It has certainly changed mine!

Thanks to the management at Satemwa Tea Estate for providing another phenomenal product! I promise to never underestimate your fusion products again! 🙂 Cheers!

Fikkal Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2014 Nepal White Tea From Surajmukhi Tea

In the past, I have reviewed several black teas, green teas, and maybe one white tea from Nepal. However, today will be my first experience with a silver needle white tea from this up and coming tea producing nation. This review will focus on the Silver Needle White Tea from Fikkal Tea Garden, located in the Ilam District of eastern Nepal. This sample was provided by Surajmukhi Tea.

Sadly, I was not able to find much information on the Fikkal Tea Garden. I was able to determine that it must be closely positioned to Kanyam Tea Estate and Factory, just a few kilometers away from the India border and the Darjeeling region of India.

The sample packet has been opened, and a unique earthy aroma is being emitted from this Silver Needle tea. Let the journey begin…

Fikkal Silver Needle White Tea Dry Leaves
Fikkal Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2014 Nepal White Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have the standard colors for a silver needle tea, consisting of some dark greenish brown stems, and buds covered in downy-like silver hairs. Most of the buds are whole and unbroken, but there is a notable amount of fragments and crumbs. There are also some bare stems in the mix. The buds have a very soft, fuzzy texture. The buds are fluffy, crisp, and delicate, cracking easily. The buds are the standard needle shape, and are thin compared to those produced in China. The aroma is quite unique, with scents of hay, barnyard, animal hyde, light flowers, and light grapes.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified spring water was heated to 185°F (85°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.

To best enjoy this tea at home, use 3 grams of dry leaves for every six ounces (180 ml) of water to be used. The leaves are quite light and fluffy, so use 2-3 teaspoons to reach the 3 gram amount. Heat water to 175°F to 185°F (75°C to 85°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 minutes. These leaves may be reused at least three to four times.

Fikkal Silver Needle White Tea Infusion
Fikkal Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2014 Nepal White Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright, pale, golden-yellow color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of hay, light green grape, valley flowers, light honey, and light vanilla. The body is light-medium, with a velvety and clean texture, and a refreshing energy. The taste has notes of hay, light green grape, valley flowers, light vanilla, light honey, and light apricot. The aftertaste leans to the hay and honey notes, with an essence left on the breath that carries the hay and valley flower notes. There is a very mild astringency, and no bitterness whatsoever.

Fikkal Silver Needle White Tea Infused Leaves
Fikkal Silver Needle White Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves vary in color from the dark brown stems to light brownish-green buds. About half of the buds are whole or unbroken, while the other half are bud fragments. There are a few bare stems in the mix, and a notable amount of small fragments and crumbs. The buds have an average length of just under one inch (25 mm). The buds are fairly thin. Some plucks have a very fine leaf enveloping a smaller bud. The aroma has scents of hay, green grapes, light barnyard, light valley flowers, light honey, and light animal hyde.

Although I cannot say that I am overly impressed by the appearance of the Fikkal Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2014 White Tea, either in the dry or infused state, I was highly impressed by the characteristics of the infusion in the cup. The color of the liquor was bright and uplifting, the body and texture were refreshing and clean, the taste was sweet and well layered. I am currently on the third infusion of the same leaves, and this tea maintains these positive characteristics quite well from infusion to infusion. I was slightly concerned about how this tea would turn out in the cup, given the earthy and animal scents that I was picking up in the dry leaf, but neither of those descriptions ended up in the cup. With a little more attention paid to the pluck and processing of these buds in order to improve their appearance, this tea could easily compete with it’s competitors from India, Sri Lanka, and even China.

Thanks again to Ankit Lochan at Surajmukhi Tea for providing this interesting sample of Fikkal Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2014 Nepal White Tea! Cheers!

Jade Tea from Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership in Thailand

Today, I will be focusing on the Jade Tea from the Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership. This is an organically grown high mountain green oolong tea. The raw tea leaves are harvested from the TTES # 12 (Jin Xuan) cultivar.

The Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership is located in Bhan Khun Wang, Tambon Mae Win, Amphoe Mae Wang, Chiang Mai Province, north Thailand. The garden cultivates only five acres (2.02 hectares) of land, and of these five acres, only about half is covered in tea. The cultivars grown are the TTES #17 (Qing Xin) and TTES #12 (Jin Xuan). The tea garden has an average altitude above 1,500 meters (4,900 feet). The factory focuses completely on the production of oolong and green tea. For more information on the Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership, please visit their website here.

The sample packet has been opened, and the leaves are definitely hand plucked and hand rolled. Let the journey begin…

Doi Inthanon Jade Green Tea Dry Leaves
Doi Inthanon Jade Green Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a dark cloudy green color, with some variation in the darkness of the leaves. There is an impressive amount of silver tips. The leaves are all whole, unbroken leaves. There are no crumbs or fragments whatsoever. The pluck is mostly two tender leaves and the bud, or one tender leaf and the bud. The buds are fairly mature. The leaves are obviously hand plucked, and hand rolled. There was much attention and care put in to the plucking and processing of these leaves. The leaves appear to be pan-fired. It looks like there was a little oxidation that occurred, but certainly less than the Yun Bi oolong tea from Doi Inthanon. I would guess that the oxidation percentage would be about 10%, making this a “green oolong”, as opposed to a true green tea. The aroma has scents of fresh baked bread, toasted seeds, stewed peaches, molasses or brown sugar, and light grass. The aroma seems to jump right out of the packet.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 185°F (85°C). The leaves were infused for 3:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 175° (75°C). Infuse the leaves for 1:30 to 2:00 minutes for the first infusion. Expect at least three or four quality infusions out the same serving of leaves. Decrease the infusion time on the second infusion to 1:00 to 1:30 minutes, then add 15 to 30 seconds to each additional infusion.

Doi Inthanon Jade Green Tea Infusion
Doi Inthanon Jade Green Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a light yellowish-jade green color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of toasted seeds, steamed leafy green vegetables, light peach, light brown sugar, and light valley flowers. The body is medium, with a smooth, almost brothy texture. The taste has notes of toasted seeds, steamed leafy green vegetables, valley flowers, light wood, and light peach. There is a mild astringency, and no bitterness. The aftertaste leans to the grassy and steamed vegetable notes, but the essence left on the breath is pleasantly floral.

Doi Inthanon Jade Green Tea Infused Leaves
Doi Inthanon Jade Green Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a perfectly uniform fresh light forest green color. I am still guessing the oxidation level to be about 10%. All the leaves and buds are whole and unbroken. There is not a single broken piece, fragment, or crumb in the sample! The pluck is either two fine leaves and a bud, or one fine leaf and a bud. The leaves are quite small and fine, with a soft, thin texture. The buds are fairly mature, with an average length of about 0.8 of an inch (20 mm). The uniformity of the size of the leaves and buds is very impressive. The aroma has scents of toasted seeds, valley flowers, light stewed peach, light wood, and cooked leafy green vegetables. Below is an extra photo of some of the individual infused leaves.

Doi Inthanon Jade Green Tea Infused Leaves Closeup
Doi Inthanon Jade Green Tea Infused Leaves Closeup

Interestingly, I did not sense any of the cream or milk characteristics that the Jin Xuan (TTES # 12) cultivar is renowned for providing. Not that this fact took away any of the pleasure I had in trying this tea, but it is an observation with this Jade Tea, as well as the Yun Bi Tea, which was also produced from the leaves of the Jin Xuan cultivar. With that being said, this tea had much to offer! The beautiful, masterfully cared for appearance of the dry leaves, the bright and lively color of the infusion, and the uniformity and wholeness of the infused leaves, were all very visually impressive! As noted earlier, the aroma of the dry leaves jumps out of the package. The tea itself has a great energy, and a satisfying texture. The taste was dominant with toasted seeds and steamed leafy green vegetables, providing a healthy taste that makes your body feel happier with each sip. This is another great product from Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership!

I am sad to say that I have only one product from Doi Inthanon left to review. That is the Luan Tze oolong. Thanks to Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership for providing these impressive samples! Cheers!