Kenya Silver Needle White Tea from What-Cha

Today’s review will focus on the Kenya Silver Needle White Tea from What-Cha. The Kenya Silver Needle White Tea is sourced from the southern slopes of Mount Kenya. You may view and purchase this tea at the What-Cha website by clicking here.

I have covered the Mount Kenya growing region in some detail in previous postings, specifically the Kangaita Factory, which is among the best known factories in Kenya for producing a variety of high quality orthodox teas. Up until recently, Kenya was known for mass-produced, commodity tea intended for use in teabags. In recent years, some of the small scale farmers, with the assistance of the Kenya Tea Development Agency, have been learning how to make their harvests more profitable by growing better quality tea, and the factories that they sell to (like Kangaita) are learning how to transform these better quality tea leaves into high quality finished teas intended for the specialty tea market. Given the unique terroir of Kenya, it is exciting to watch the focus on specialty tea become more prevalent. I have had some excellent green and black teas from Kangaita Factory, and I look forward to the specialty products that other Kenyan factories will be offering in the future.

The sample packet has been opened, and a very unique, unexpectedly sweet scent is accompanying the beautiful long, slender buds. Let the journey begin…

Kenya Silver Needle White Tea Dry Leaves
Kenya Silver Needle White Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform light brownish-yellow color, with a few green leaves in the mix. The pluck is one fine unopened leaf enveloping a younger bud. The leaves and buds are covered in downy-like silver hairs. The leaves are mostly unbroken and fully intact, with a few fragments and crumbs in the mix. There are no bare stems, and a few standalone buds. The leaves have an incredibly smooth, soft texture. The leaves and buds are long and quite narrow compared to Chinese silver needle teas, and have a sickle-like shape. The average length is about 1.25 inches (31 mm). The smell is incredible, with scents of fresh morning hay, fresh baked sweet dough (almost like a sesame donut), vanilla, and a touch of honeysuckle. I can honestly say that I have never experienced a silver needle tea with a smell like this. it is very impressive.

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 175°F (80°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 minutes. Expect four quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves. Add 30 seconds to each subsequent infusion steep time.

Kenya Silver Needle White Tea Liquor
Kenya Silver Needle White Tea Liquor

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright, light pale yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma is incredible, with scents of sweet dough, honeysuckle, vanilla, maca powder, almond milk, and maybe a touch of ripe peach. The body is light and refreshing, with a silky, clean texture. There is a very mild astringency, almost undetectable. The taste has notes of sweet dough, vanilla, maca powder, honeysuckle, light hay, light sweet butter, and light ripe peach. The aftertaste is gentle, and carries the sweet and floral qualities. The essence left on the breath is lightly peachy and floral.

Kenya Silver Needle White Tea Infused Leaves
Kenya Silver Needle White Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fairly uniform fresh forest green color, with the veins and stems being light brown. The leaves and buds are mostly unbroken and fully intact, with a few fragments and crumbs in the mix. The buds have swollen some, but are still narrow compared to Chinese silver needle teas. The expanded leaves average length is about 1.5 inches (37 mm). The leaves and buds are very soft and smooth.The smell has scents of honeysuckle, sweet dough, vanilla, and light hay.

There are quite a few descriptions that I used in this review that I have never used before, especially for a white tea, and that is most certainly a positive in this case. The Kenya Silver Needle White Tea is simply phenomenal in every aspect. The dominantly sweet aroma and taste blend perfectly with the floral notes, the touch of nutty sweetness, which I described as maca powder, and the clean, refreshing body are an incredible combination. There are sweet tastes and aromas in this tea that I cannot identify, but they are awesome. This is a white tea that can become an instant favorite with many tea drinkers. The price is not bad. I am currently working on my fourth infusion, and I am confident there is another good infusion left in these leaves. I have enough time today to extract every last molecule of pleasure out of these leaves, and I plan to do so. I cannot say enough good things about this tea!

Many thanks to the management at What-Cha for providing this incredible sample of Kenya Silver Needle White Tea. Cheers!

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Yunnan Graceful Purple “Zi Juan” Green Tea from What-Cha

Today’s review will focus on the Yunnan Graceful Purple “Zi Juan” Green Tea from What-Cha. You may view and purchase this tea on the What-Cha website by clicking here.

Purple tea leaves are a natural phenomenon that has been recognized for a long time, but not necessarily promoted or marketed until the past eight or so years. Basically, it is believed that the tea bushes produce an antioxidant (phenol) pigment called anthocyanin to help protect the bush during times of hot and humid weather. Anthocyanin is also present in blueberries. The enhanced production of anthocyanin in tea bushes gives some of the tea leaves a purplish color.

Some countries, Kenya for example, have put much effort into creating cultivars that are intended to produce more purple tea leaves, hoping that the claimed health benefits will allow the purple tea market to thrive, thus creating more revenues to the tea farms and industry. China has successfully developed a purple tea cultivar known as Zi Juan. The bush that this cultivar was isolated from was found in Menghai, China. This cultivar has been praised for its resistance to excess cold and heat, as well as insects. For a thorough article on purple tea, click here.

Purple teas from China are more frequently found in the form of a sheng pu’er cake, but the Yunnan Graceful Purple “Zi Juan” Green Tea from What-Cha is in loose leaf form. Also, I am always skeptical on the classifications (green, oolong, etc) of purple tea products, and you will see why when you look at the photo of the dry leaves. However, for lack of personal knowledge on how the leaves are processed, I will yield to the description given by the vendor.

The sample packet has been opened, and a scent similar to sheng pu’er is filling the air. Let the journey begin…

Yunnan Graceful Purple "Zi Juan" Green Tea Dry Leaves
Yunnan Graceful Purple “Zi Juan” Green Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a charcoal color, with an occasional purple streak on some leaves. The leaves are almost entirely whole and unbroken, and the pluck consists of one fine leaf enveloping a bud. There are few leaf fragments, a few standalone buds, and no bare stems in the mix. Some of the leaves appear to be lightly twisted. The leaves average about one inch (25 mm) in length, and are quite slender. They have a very dry, somewhat coarse texture, and crack easily into coarse crumbs. The smell has scents of earth (barnyard and hay), forest floor, leather, smoke, and dried dark cherries.

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 of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 175°F (80°C). Steep the leaves for 2:00 minutes. Expect three quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves.. Add 30 seconds to each subsequent infusion steep time.

Yunnan Graceful Purple "Zi Juan" Green Tea Infusion
Yunnan Graceful Purple “Zi Juan” Green Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a light pale yellow color and a barely detectable tint of purple, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of earth (hay, forest floor), mineral (wet stones), leather, barnyard, smoke, and light cherry. The body is light, with a smooth, clean texture, and a refreshing character. There is no astringency or bitterness. The taste is fairly complex, with notes of mineral (wet stones), earth (hay, forest floor), light leather, light smoke, light roses, and very light cherry. There is a clean aftertaste with light notes of mineral and hay.

Much like a sheng pu’er, the taste and character of this tea evolves nicely over multiple infusions. As I write this, I am on the third infusion, which I find to be the cleanest tasting and most refreshing of the infusions thus far.

Yunnan Graceful Purple "Zi Juan" Green Tea Infused Leaves
Yunnan Graceful Purple “Zi Juan” Green Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color, with a few showing a reddish-purple tint. The leaves are almost entirely whole and unbroken, with a few medium sized fragments, a few lonely buds, and no stems. The pluck is one fine (unopened) leaf enveloping a bud. The unopened leaves have a long, narrow, sickle-like shape, with an average length of 1.25 inches (31 mm). The leaves have a very smooth texture. The buds of this Zi Juan cultivar are not plump, as compared to those of the Da Bai Hao cultivar. The smell has scents of mineral (wet stones), earth (forest floor, hay), barnyard, leather, and cherry.

Despite descriptions that may seem unpleasant (earthy, leather, barnyard), this Yunnan Graceful Purple “Zi Juan” Green Tea will please the more adventurous tea drinkers and the sheng pu’er lovers. This tea is definitely not a conventional green tea, and if you like grassy, nutty, or vegetal green teas, then this tea is not going to meet those requirements. On the other hand, if you like mineral, earthy, complex aromas and tastes, then give this tea a try. The clean, refreshing character of this tea is very satisfying. If you do not care for the first infusion, do not give up on the tea. As I mentioned above, I most enjoyed this tea with the third infusion. This tea will provide you with an interesting and unique experience, regardless of your preferences.

Thanks again to the management of What-Cha for providing this sample of Yunnan Graceful Purple “Zi Juan” Green Tea. Cheers!

Krasnodar Large Leaf Green Tea from Dagomys Tea Estate and What-Cha

Today’s review will focus on the Krasnodar Large Leaf Green Tea sourced by What-Cha from the Dagomys Tea Estate in Russia. You may view and purchase this tea on the What-Cha website by clicking here.

The Dagomys Tea Estate, among others in the Krasnador area of southern Russia, is considered the northernmost tea growing estate on Earth. Dagomys is located near Sochi, Russia, and the north-eastern coast of the Black Sea. The loose translation of “Dagomys” in the Adyghe language is a “cool, shady place.” This name originates from the characteristically cool summers caused by the mountain air currents. Dagomys, and the Sochi area in general, are renowned tourist spots for the beautiful landscapes, including mountains and tea gardens, and sea views. The Dagomys Tea Estate is recognized for producing better quality orthodox teas compared to some of the other estates in Krasnador.

The sample packet has been opened, and a sweet and smoky smell is immediately recognizable. Let the journey begin…

Krasnodar Large Leaf Green Tea Dry Leaves
Krasnodar Large Leaf Green Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves range from pale forest green to very dark green. The leaves are all medium to large sized fragments. There are some bare stems in the mix. No buds are visible. The leaves are machine rolled, and some are curled. The leaves are very dry, and crack into coarse crumbs. The appearance is quite standard. The smell has scents of dried cherry, smoke, forest floor, dried roses, and light dry grass.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 175°F (80°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 (80°C). Steep the leaves for 2:00 minutes. Expect three quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves.. Add 15 seconds to each subsequent infusion steep time.

Krasnodar Large Leaf Green Tea Infusion
Krasnodar Large Leaf Green Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a light yellow color and a very slight green tint, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of fig, cherry, roses, smoke, forest floor, light grass, and mineral. The body is a solid medium, with a mouth-filling, lively texture. There is a medium level of astringency. The taste has notes of forest floor, roses, fig, cherry, smoke, light grass, and mineral (salt). The aftertaste carries the floral and earthy notes, and a persistent floral and earthy essence is left on the breath.

Krasnodar Large Leaf Green Tea Infused Leaves
Krasnodar Large Leaf Green Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves range in color from forest green to dark forest green. A few of the leaves show light oxidation. The leaves are all medium to large sized fragments, with some smaller crumbs and bare stems in the mix. The stems show a two leaf pluck. The leaves have a soft, smooth texture. The smell is quite potent, with scents of cherry, fig, roses, forest floor, and smoke.

The Krasnodar Large Leaf Green Tea from Dagomys Tea Estate is a good quality green tea with plenty of aroma and flavor. With a pleasant balance of fruity, earthy, and smoky tones, this interesting green tea from Russia will not disappoint, as long as the expectations are reasonable. This tea had a very unique salty mineral taste, perhaps the result of using more mature leaves. I would compare this green tea to the good quality (not best quality) green teas of southern India and Sri Lanka. For those who love being adventurous and trying teas from as many terroirs as possible, then this is definitely worth experiencing, as it certainly has a few unique traits that are hard to remember finding elsewhere.

Thanks again to the management of What-Cha for giving me the opportunity to experience the Large Leaf Green Tea from Dagomys Tea Estate in Russia. Cheers!

Azores Shade-Grown Orange Pekoe “Ponta Branca” Black Tea from What-Cha

Today’s review will focus on the Azores Shade-Grown Orange Pekoe “Ponta Branca” Black Tea from What-Cha. You may view and purchase this tea from the What-Cha website by clicking here.

The Azores are a group of islands located in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Portugal. The Azores are considered an autonomous region consisting of nine islands. These islands have a subtropical climate, and are situated near the junction of three tectonic plates, the North American, Eurasian, and African, giving the islands a heavy dose of volcanic influence.

The Azores Shade-Grown Orange Pekoe “Ponta Branca” Black Tea is grown and manufactured at the Gorreana Tea Estate, on the island of Sao Miguel, which is a part of the eastern group of The Azores Islands. Gorreana Tea Estate was founded in 1883, and is thus considered the oldest tea estate in Europe. Gorreana prides itself on not using pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides on the tea bushes, and claims to be located hundreds of miles from any industrial pollution. With mineral rich soils and fresh oceanic air, Gorreana Tea Estate produces high quality green and black teas.

More on The Azores and Gorreana Tea Estate will be provided in future reviews of the teas from this location. The sample packet has been opened, and a clean, earthy scent is filling the air. Let the journey begin…

Azores Shade-Grown Orange Pekoe "Ponta Branca" Black Tea Dry Leaves
Azores Shade-Grown Orange Pekoe “Ponta Branca” Black Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a consistent black color with reddish-brown stems and a few goldish-brown buds. The leaves are mostly medium to large fragments, with the possibility of a few small unbroken leaves and buds being in the mix. The leaves are machine rolled, with some bare stems in the mix. The pluck is difficult to determine from the stems. According to the Gorreana Tea Estate website, the Orange Pekoe grade consists of the top leaf and bud. The leaves are very dry, and crack easily into coarse crumbs. The smell has scents of autumn leaves, light malt, light freshly cut wood, mineral rich soil, and a touch of dried papaya. The earthy yet sweet smell is very unique and welcoming.

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 to 4:00 minutes. Expect two infusions out of the same serving of leaves, and expect the second infusion to be lighter than the first, but still worth drinking. Add 1:00 minute to the second infusion steep time. A very light, yet refreshing, third infusion can be prepared.

Azores Shade-Grown Orange Pekoe "Ponta Branca" Black Tea Infusion
Azores Shade-Grown Orange Pekoe “Ponta Branca” Black Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright, golden-orange color and a red tint, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of autumn leaves, sweet wood, light malt, papaya, mineral rich soil, and a touch of hydrangea flowers. The body is medium, with a clean and pure, yet lively texture. The taste has notes of autumn leaves, mineral rich soil, wet stones, fresh cut wood, hydrangea, light papaya, and light lime. There is a pleasantly brisk character. The aftertaste carries the floral, sweet, and brisk notes.

Azores Shade-Grown Orange Pekoe "Ponta Branca" Black Tea Infused Leaves
Azores Shade-Grown Orange Pekoe “Ponta Branca” Black Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a copper-brown to greenish-brown color. The leaves are mostly medium to large fragments, with a few unbroken buds and small leaves in the mix, as well as some bare stems. Based on the small size of the leaves, I feel confident that the pluck is one leaf and bud. The leaves have a soft, smooth texture, and a respectable durability. The smell has scents of autumn leaves, forest floor, mineral rich soil, hydrangea, and light papaya.

As a tea drinker who prefers a tea that does not need any additives to make it more palatable, the Azores Shade-Grown Orange Pekoe “Ponta Branca” Black Tea is a very attractive option of the black tea type. With a comparably light body, a clean yet brisk character, and a fresh, natural, and intriguing aroma and flavor, this tea is definitely worth experiencing more than once. This teas terroir can certainly be felt in the aroma and taste, making it very unique from its Chinese, Indian, and other black tea counterparts. If a black tea can taste this crisp and clean, then I cannot wait to open the packet of green tea from Gorreana Tea Estate.

Thanks to the management of What-Cha for another great tea experience. Cheers!

Georgia Nagobilevi Village Black Tea from What-Cha

Today’s review will focus on the Georgia Nagobilevi Village Black Tea from What-Cha. You may view and purchase the Georgia Nagobilevi Village Black Tea by clicking here.

I have seen teas from Georgia (the country, not the state in the U.S.) on websites based in the U.K.or other parts of Europe, but not in the U.S. Thanks to the generosity of the management at What-Cha, I finally have an opportunity to try several of these interesting teas from Georgia. Nagobilevi Village is located in the Guria region of western Georgia. With the Caucasus Mountains to the north and east, and the Black Sea to the west, Nagobilevi benefits from a subtropical climate, mineral rich soils, and magnetic sands. The climate and soil composition allow for the production of high quality teas with unique aroma and taste profiles. The leaves used to make this tea are sourced from several small tea gardens in Nagobilevi Village. The Guria region is the primary tea growing area of Georgia.

Considering that I will be reviewing multiple products from Georgia in the near future, I will keep some of the other interesting topics regarding Georgia’s tea history for future posts.

The sample packet has been opened, and the abundance of minerals in the soil is evident in the smell. Let the journey begin…

Georgia Nagobilevi Village Black Tea Dry Leaves
Georgia Nagobilevi Village Black Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform black color, with some dark copper color on the stems and veins. The leaves are mostly large fragments, and I would not be surprised to find some whole leaves. There are some medium fragments, and a small amount of crumbs in the mix. There appears to be a small number of buds, and a few bare stems. The largest specimen shows two leaves and a bud attached to the stem. The leaves are hand plucked, hand rolled, and some are quite long, measuring over one inch (25 mm). The smell has scents of raisins, dried peach, mineral, sweet wood, and toffee.

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 to 4:00 minutes. Expect two infusions out of the same serving of leaves, and expect the second infusion to be lighter than the first, but still worth drinking. Add 1:00 minute to the second infusion steep time. A very light, yet refreshing, third infusion can be prepared.

Georgia Nagobilevi Village Black Tea Infusion
Georgia Nagobilevi Village Black Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a orange color, and a slight red tint, clear and transparent. The aroma had scents of raisin, apple, lemon, mineral, sweet wood, and light caramel. The body is medium, with a clean, gentle texture. The taste has notes of raisin, apple, mineral rich soil, honey, caramel, and lighter notes of lemon and wild flowers. There is a very light astringency. The aftertaste carries the sweet, fruity notes which linger on the breath.

Georgia Nagobilevi Village Black Tea Infused Leaves
Georgia Nagobilevi Village Black Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform dark copper brown color. There are more unbroken leaves than I expected, some of which are attached to the stem with another unbroken leaf and a fairly mature bud. The remaining leaves are mostly large fragments. There are some bare stems in the mix, and the few buds that can be found are still intact on the stem. The leaves have a very smooth texture, and seem quite hearty and durable. The leaves are long and fairly narrow. The smell has scents of sweet wood, raisins, wild flowers, mineral rich soil, and light honey.

The Georgia Nagobilevi Village Black Tea was surprising in multiple aspects. From the attractive appearance of the dry leaves, to the refreshingly lighter body, to the fruity, mineral aroma and taste of the liquor, this tea had plenty to offer. I found the mineral aroma and taste of this tea very unique from the teas of China and Vietnam which also can have strong mineral qualities, although I cannot necessarily explain how. To make an effort to explain, I guess I would describe the mineral taste of the Chinese, Vietnam, and some southern India teas as wet stones, and the mineral taste of this tea from Georgia as more of clean, rich soil taste. Whatever the most accurate description or explanation may be, it was an intriguing facet of the overall experience of this tea. It should also be noted that the tea farmers seemed to have taken great care if plucking and rolling the leaves, as there was a high number of unbroken leaves. From what I am reading, the Nagobilevi Village Black Tea is not even the best that Georgia has to offer, so I am excited to move on to the other products of Georgia in this packet from What-Cha.

Thanks again to What-Cha for providing the opportunity to try this unique black tea from Nagobilevi Village in western Georgia. Cheers!

Nepal First Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea from What-Cha

After a week of discomfort and inconvenience due to an unexpectedly intense treatment at the dermatologist, this week is ending with a happy note. I arrived at my office today to find a box of samples from a company that I have recently come across, What-Cha. I have seen a few other tea bloggers review some teas from What-Cha, and decided to reach out to them to see for myself what interesting products were being offered. While checking out their website, which you may visit here, I noticed quite a few unique products that I was eager to try. The Nepal First Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea was one of those which caught my attention.

The Nepal First Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea was sourced from the Greenland Organic Farm, located in the foothills of Mount Kanchenjunga in eastern Nepal. My research found that the altitude of the Greenland Organic Farm reaches 2,200 meters (7,200 feet)! I also found information stating altitudes of 3,000 meter (9,840 feet). Regardless of which number is more accurate, it is an impressive altitude. Along with high quality Chinese clonal tea bushes, the Greenland Organic Farm also grows arabica coffee beans, and produces my favorite specialty type of coffee known as peaberry. I do not drink much coffee, but I have been trained to recognize and appreciate good quality. At home, I have a medium roast Papua New Guinea Peaberry from Kiva Han Coffee. It is amazing.

Now, let’s see what Greenland Organic Farm and What-Cha are all about. The sample packet has been opened, and a fresh and potent scent is escaping the packet. Let the journey begin…

Greenland Organic Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
Greenland Organic Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves range in color from pale forest green to yellowish-brown to dark brown. There is a generous portion of buds covered in fine silver hairs. Even some of the leaves have the silver hairs covering them. The pluck is easy to identify as two leaves and a bud, some of which are fully intact on the stem. There are no bare stems in the mix. The leaves appear to be hand-rolled, as they are quite light and fluffy, with some variance in the size and shape. There is certainly some light oxidation that occurred in the leaves, but this tea also has many characteristics of a white tea. The smell carries scents of fresh hay, dry oranges, light vanilla, light barnyard, and light spring flowers. The smell is quite potent and impressive. Below is a photo that was taken a little closer to the leaves, and shows the abundance of silver hairs on buds and leaves.

Greenland Organic Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea Dry Leaves Close-Up
Greenland Organic Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea Dry Leaves Close-Up

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 175°F (80°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 to 4:00 minutes. Expect at least three quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves, with minimal loss of character between the first, second, and third infusions. Add 30 seconds to each subsequent infusion steep time.

Greenland Organic Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea Infusion
Greenland Organic Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright, pale yellow color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of hay, honey, orange blossoms, and vanilla. The body is light, with a clean, silky texture, and a purifying, refreshing energy. The taste has notes of citrus (lemon and orange), hay, honey, vanilla, orange blossom, and light hyacinth. There is almost no astringency whatsoever. The aftertaste carries the hay and floral characters, and a pleasant, lingering floral essence is left on the breath.

Greenland Organic Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Greenland Organic Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a very fresh, light forest green color, with some leaves having slightly reddish edges, indicating the light level of oxidation. The pluck is clearly two leaves and a bud. There is a generous portion of buds in the mix. Many of the leaves are whole and unbroken, and the remainder are large fragments. The leaves have a smooth, delicate texture. These are beautifully produced leaves. The smell has carries scents of hay, vanilla, oranges, orange blossoms, and other fresh spring flowers.

My first impressions of What-Cha and Greenland Organic Farm are very positive! I just finished the third infusion of this Nepal First Flush 2014 Silver Oolong tea, and even using the higher temperatures and longer steep times, this tea has barely lost any of its character. The aroma continues to be potent and fresh, and the taste and mouth feel are very high quality. The leaves in both dry and wet forms appear to have been very carefully produced. This is an excellent crossover tea between the oolong and white types. Having thoroughly enjoyed this first product from What-Cha, I am very excited to work my way through the remaining samples.

Thank you to What-Cha for providing this sample of Nepal First Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea from Greenland Organic Farm. Cheers!

Guest Post: Genius Tips for Making Small Yards Big on Functionality by Tim Smith of Modernize.com

Today’s guest post is somewhat off-topic as it is not directly related to tea. However, the creative people at Modernize.com offered to prepare a guest post for a topic of my choice, and I was happy to take them up on the offer. Modernize.com has many beautiful and creative ideas on ways to improve the looks of any aspect of your home’s indoor and outdoor space.

My home is located about two miles outside of downtown Pittsburgh, and the yard is smaller in size, about 1,500 square feet. When searching the internet for inspiration on how to best arrange my yard to get the most out of limited space, I more frequently found impractical articles intended for larger outdoor spaces. So I took this opportunity with Modernize to request an article about how to get the most beauty and use out of my small yard.

Modernize had one of their writers, Tim Smith, research and prepare the following suggestions for homeowners such as myself with limited outdoor space. Looking at some of the ideas below, I can definitely imagine a more pleasant and beautiful space to share tea with friends and family.

Now, please give Mr. Tim Smith some well-deserved attention, and visit the Modernize website for more home beautification ideas. Thank you, Tim Smith and Modernize, for your contributions to The Tea Journeyman blog.

 

Genius Tips for Making Small Yards Big on Functionality

By Tim Smith

 

Have a postage stamp yard when you have dreams of an acreage? Fear not: We’ve compiled ideas from around the world to help show you that you can still pull off big ideas even if you’re working with a small space.

 

1. Japan as Inspiration

Japan Garden

Asian Landscape by Los Angeles Architects & Building Designers Whipple Russell Architects

Japan has some of the world’s most beautiful gardens, many in the small spaces demanded by crowded cities like Tokyo.

While they are short on space, that doesn’t prevent their owners from enjoying their grounds for generations. Much of the Japanese outdoor garden art is based on Zen Buddhism, which traveled to Japan from China.

Just a corner devoted to these art forms will bring beauty and peace to even the tiniest yard. There is no reason why these zen gardens need to take up more than a corner between two fences. It will provide a unique focal point in what might have been an overlooked area of a tiny yard.

Consider learning the arts of zen gardening, including sand gardens, bonsai trees and rock gardens.

 

2. Gardening Anywhere

Hanging Garden

Contemporary Landscape by Sausalito Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Shades Of Green Landscape Architecture

The trick to gardening in a small space is to plant within and plant up. Everyone has vertical space; the problem is that we see space in horizontals.

If you have a fence or a wall, use vertical scaffolding to keep flowers, fruits or vegetables in place. There are also vertical tower planting containers that use a non-dirt planting medium that can bring gardening to any place in a small yard.

 

3. City Rooftops

Roof Garden

Contemporary Garage And Shed by San Francisco Architects & Building Designers Feldman Architecture, Inc.

Many city dwellers have rooftops that are strong enough to withstand use for gardening and other backyard translations. Be certain that the building owner agrees to this use. There may be issues with zoning, permitting and insurance.

If allowed, a veritable fairy garden can take shape. Lighting for night use, gardens and even water features can combine with seating for the entire building. It can be a great place for friends and neighbors to hang out.

 

4. Ditch the Grass

No Grass

Contemporary Deck by Sydney Landscape Contractors On Common Ground Landscapes

Grass within a very small space is far more difficult to care for than with a regular lawn. How do you cut it? It is usually too small for a mower and too large for scissors.

In this example, this interesting seating area over decking covers the ground, preventing grass and weeds. A few weekends with a hammer gives a permanent solution along with a sophisticated look and real practicality.

 

5. Create an Intimate Seating Area

Intimate Seating

Contemporary Patio by Amsterdam Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Boekel Tuinen

Even the smallest yard can accommodate an intimate seating area. This yard has permanent benches amid beautiful plantings both in containers and in the ground.

For more design inspiration and other tips and tricks, please visit Modernize.com.

Margaret’s Hope FTGFOP1 HS 2nd Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea from Lochan Tea

Today’s review is taking me back to my favorite tea estate in the Darjeeling district of India, the Margaret’s Hope Tea Estate, located in the Kurseong North Valley. This sample of FTGFOP1 HS 2nd Flush 2014 was provided by Lochan Tea. I have covered the basic details of Margaret’s Hope Tea Estate in several previous posts, so I will spare you all the redundancy of repeating those details here.

The sample packet has been opened, and a dominantly floral and woody smell is escaping the packet. Let the journey begin…

Margaret's Hope FTGFOP1 HS 2nd Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea Dry Leaves
Margaret’s Hope FTGFOP1 HS 2nd Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves range in color from yellowish-green to reddish-brown to black. There are some light brown, small and bare stems in the mix, as well as a few silver bud fragments. The leaves are all small to medium sized fragments, and are machine rolled. There is some inconsistency with the size and shape of the leaves. The leaves are very dry, and crack easily into coarse crumbs. The smell has scents of wood, toasted seeds, dried grapes, roses, caramel, honey, and hay.

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 to 4:00 minutes. Expect two infusions out of the same serving of leaves, and expect the second infusion to be significantly lighter than the first, but still worth drinking. Add 1:00 minute to the second infusion steep time.

Margaret's Hope FTGFOP1 HS 2nd Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea Infusion
Margaret’s Hope FTGFOP1 HS 2nd Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a warm golden orange color, clear and transparent. The aroma consists of scents of roses, geraniums, grapes, honey, toasted seeds, caramel, and light hay. The body is medium, with a gentle and velvety texture. There is a mild astringency. The taste is dominantly floral, with notes of roses, geraniums, grapes, honey, toasted grains, hay, caramel, light wood, and light spice. The liquor leaves a honey like coating on the tongue. The aftertaste carries the grape and floral notes, and a lingering sweet essence is left on the breath.

Margaret's Hope FTGFOP1 HS 2nd Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea Infused Leaves
Margaret’s Hope FTGFOP1 HS 2nd Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves range in color from pale forest green to copper to purplish-brown. The leaves are all small to medium sized fragments, and there some small bare stems and bud fragments in the mix. Stems display a two leaf and bud pluck. The leaves have a soft, delicate texture. The smell has scents of wood, roses, geraniums, grapes, hay, and honey.

The FTGFOP1 HS 2nd Flush 2014 Tea from Margaret’s Hope Tea Estate did not disappoint. With a dominantly floral aroma and taste, this tea gave the tongue and olfactory glands a stroll through a field of summer flowers, a welcome detour from the 20°F temperatures awaiting outside my office. The floral character is complimented very nicely by the sweet and toasty tones. The texture and honey-like coating on the tongue completes an overall phenomenal experience, as I have come to expect from the teas from Margaret’s Hope.

Thank you to the Lochan family at Lochan Tea for providing this sample. Cheers!

OP Superior Grade Black Tea from Craigmore Plantation in the Nilgiri Hills

Today’s review will focus on the OP Superior Grade Black Tea from the Craigmore Plantations, located in the Nilgiri Hills of the state of Tamil Nadu, southern India.

The Craigmore Plantations were originally established in 1884 under the name Ceylon Land and Produce Company. It was not until 1977 that the business was renamed the Craigmore Plantations (India) Private Limited. The plantations consist of 1,200 hectares (2,965 acres) of land. Only high grown orthodox black teas and pan-fired green teas are produced at Craigmore by it’s 1,400 workers. The plantations and factory are located at an elevation of about 1,675 meters (5,500 feet). The Craigmore Plantation Factory produces the high-grown orthodox black teas, while the Pascoe Woodlands Factory produces the high-grown pan-fired green teas.

Craigmore Plantations carries the following certifications: Rainforest Alliance, UTZ, Ethical Tea Partnership, and Global GAP. All teas meet or exceed the European Union requirements for pesticide residue limits.

The sample packet has been opened, and woody, spicy scents are escaping the packet. Let the journey begin…

Craigmore OP Superior Grade Black Tea Dry Leaves
Craigmore OP Superior Grade Black Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform black color, with reddish-brown stems, and a few gold buds. The leaves are all medium sized fragments, and are machine rolled. The size and shape of the leaves are consistent, with very few crumbs or small fragments in the mix. There is a considerable amount of bare stems. The leaves are very dry, and crack easily into coarse crumbs. The smell carries scents of dry wood, cardamom, pepper, light malt, hay, and light raisin. Overall, the smell is very woody and spicy.

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 to 4:00 minutes. Expect two infusions out of the same serving of leaves, and expect the second infusion to be significantly lighter than the first, but still worth drinking. Add 1:00 minute to the second infusion steep time.

Craigmore OP Superior Grade Black Tea Infusion
Craigmore OP Superior Grade Black Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright golden-orange color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of wood, cardamom, pepper, hay, lemongrass, and light malt. The body is medium, with a texture that is lively when the liquor is very hot, then gets smoother as the liquor cools. There is a mildly brisk character, and a lingering medium astringency. The taste has notes of wood, lemongrass, pepper, cardamom, hay, light malt, light valley flowers, and light lemon. The aftertaste carries the woody and lemony notes.

Craigmore OP Superior Grade Black Tea Infused Leaves
Craigmore OP Superior Grade Black Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fairly uniform copper-brown color, with a few leaves being more green-brown. The leaves are almost entirely medium fragments, with a large fragment or two being found in the mix, as well as a few buds. There is a considerable amount of bare stems. I also found one leaf that was not a tea leaf, and appeared to be a small bay leaf. The one large tea leaf fragment appears to be from an Assamica bush. The smell has scents of wood, lemongrass, cardamom, light malt, light caramel, and light valley flowers.

The OP Superior Grade Black Tea from Craigmore Plantations is a fairly light, easy to sip black tea that is not overwhelming in any manner. The color is bright and lively. The woody and spicy taste may call for a light splash of lemon juice or cream, but additives are not necessary to enjoy this tea. This product would make a refreshing and flavorful iced tea. Tea drinkers who do not care for full bodied, strong tasting black teas may find a new favorite in the Craigmore black teas, as they are mild yet flavorful. I would compare this tea more to a Ceylon black tea than an Assam or Chinese black tea.

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

Jungpana FTGFOP1 Clonal 2nd Flush 2014 Organic Darjeeling Tea from Lochan Tea

Today’s review will focus on the FTGFOP1 Clonal 2nd Flush 2014 Organic Darjeeling Tea from the Jungpana Tea Estate, located in the Kurseong South Valley of the Darjeeling region of India. This sample was provided by Lochan Tea.

There is plenty of good information on the homepage of Jungpana Tea Estate, but it was the information about the Mahalderam Tea Estate, which is the high altitude division of Jungpana, that really caught my attention. As if altitudes of over 6,000 feet is not enough to please a tea enthusiast, Mahalderam and Jungpana have developed an interesting technique to getting the fresh leaves from the Mahalderam Estate to the Jungpana factory. The Mahalderam Estate is a three hour journey by road from the Jungpana factory. Needless to say that the fresh picked tea leaves from Mahalderam would lose some freshness and quality during that three hour ride. Considering the high quality of the leaves growing at such high altitudes, it is definitely a sad thought that the leaves would lose some quality before processing could even begin. The solution to this problem is a cost efficient, simple, and practical zip line! This zip line starts in the Mahalderam Estate, at an altitude of 6,000 feet, and descends 3,000 feet down the hillside where the zip line ends near the Jungpana factory. The leaves are now transported from Mahalderam to Jungpana in six minutes! Cheers to the person who came up with that plan.

The sample packet has been opened, and the highly attractive scent that I have come to expect from Jungpana teas is easily recognizable. Let the journey begin…

Jungpana FTGFOP1 Clonal 2nd Flush Organic Darjeeling Tea Dry Leaves
Jungpana FTGFOP1 Clonal 2nd Flush 2014 Organic Darjeeling Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a fairly uniform dark reddish brown to dark brown color, with some silver bud fragments. The leaves and buds are all medium sized fragments. There are some bare stems in the mix. The leaves are machine rolled, and have a fairly consistent size and shape. The leaves are quite dry, and crack easily into coarse crumbs. The smell has scents of roses, dried grapes, dark cocoa, sweet wood, honey, and a light spice.

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 to 4:00 minutes. Expect two infusions out of the same serving of leaves, and expect the second infusion to be significantly lighter than the first, but still worth drinking. Add 1:00 minute to the second infusion steep time.

Jungpana FTGFOP1 Clonal 2nd Flush Organic Darjeeling Tea Infusion
Jungpana FTGFOP1 Clonal 2nd Flush 2014 Organic Darjeeling Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a beautiful reddish-orange color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of roses, grapes, honey, caramel, fresh cut wood, cinnamon, cardamom, and a touch of stewed apricot. The body is medium-full, with a brisk character, and a lively and clean mouth feel. The taste has notes of roses, grapes, honey, cinnamon, stewed apricot, caramel, fresh cut wood, and black pepper. The spicy and floral notes are carried into the aftertaste, and a sweet, slightly floral essence is left on the breath.

Jungpana FTGFOP1 Clonal 2nd Flush Organic Darjeeling Tea Infused Leaves
Jungpana FTGFOP1 Clonal 2nd Flush 2014 Organic Darjeeling Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fairly uniform greenish-brown to light copper brown color. The leaves and buds are all medium sized fragments. The leaves are a fairly uniform shape and size, and certainly come from a Chinese clonal tea bush. The leaves have a soft, smooth, delicate texture. The smell carries scents of roses, grapes, cardamom, honey, and fresh cut wood.

I am quite impressed by the number of flavor notes that could be identified in the FTGFOP1 Clonal 2nd Flush 2014 Organic Darjeeling Tea from the Jungpana Tea Estate. In addition to the aroma and flavors, the color of the liquor was very inviting, and the liquor had a brisk character that gave a spark of energy and enthusiasm from the first sip. The flavor had a great balance of sweet, floral, and spicy notes. This tea definitely lives up to the high quality experience that I have come to expect from the Jungpana Tea Estate. The fact that the estate is organic simply makes this tea, and others from Jungpana, all the more attractive.

Thank you again to the Lochan family at Lochan Tea for providing this sample of Jungpana FTGFOP1 Clonal 2nd Flush 2014 Organic Darjeeling Tea! Cheers!