Alishan Jinxuan Oolong Tea From Taiwan M’s Tea

As my readers may have figured out, I have been extremely busy at work, which is a good thing, but has kept me from being able to post regular reviews. To be honest, I do start to get restless when I see a pile of great tea samples just begging to be opened and experienced. I also get a touch of guilt, knowing that the people and companies that sent me the samples are waiting for feedback on their products. Believe me, I wish I had more time to relax and enjoy more tea and write more reviews. It is truly a pleasure for me to analyze every sample to the best of my ability, and introduce my readers to teas that they did not know existed, or where to find them.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. A new friend of mine, Michelle at Taiwan M’s Tea, sent several different Alishan Jinxuan oolong teas to me. I am in the process of finding a new source for Alishan Jinxuan for one of my consulting clients, and Michelle has been a great resource in my search. So let me give Michelle a quick thank you for her help. Once her company website is fully functional, I will post a link.

Focusing on the product, Alishan Jinxuan is commonly referred to as Milk Oolong. This tea is grown and produced in the Ali Mountains in Chiayi County, Taiwan, using the TTES # 12 Jinxuan cultivar bushes. A map of the Alishan area is below.

Generally speaking, Alishan Jinxuan oolong teas are on the greener side of the oolong spectrum, meaning the oxidation and roast levels are relatively low and light. The leaves of the Jinxuan cultivar are quite broad in width. They contain a naturally occurring compound called lactones, which are thought to give the brewed leaves the aroma and taste of milk or cream. Thus the common alias for this tea, again, is milk oolong.

Let’s get to the review…

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Alishan Jinxuan Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from light to dark forest green, some bordering greenish-brown. The leaves have the common Taiwan oolong pluck of three to four leaves attached to the shoot, and are tightly compressed into the common ball shape. Other leaves are single, and not attached to a stem. There are no bare stems in the mix. I expect most of the leaves to be fully intact and unbroken. The aroma is very sweet, with scents of sweet cream, brown sugar, toasted oats, and a touch of sweet cinnamon.

Five grams were placed in a 210 ml bizen-ware kyusu teapot and infused with 190°F water for 2:30 minutes.

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Alishan Jinxuan Oolong Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a light greenish-yellow color to the first infusion, which became brighter and more on the yellow side with the follow up infusions. The aroma is sweet and very pleasant, with scents of sweet cream, brown sugar, and a sweeter floral scent, like peony. The body is light and uplifting, with a milky smooth texture. The taste has notes of sweet cream, peony, brown sugar, and a light touch of cooked spinach. There is also a very light astringency that compliments the sweet, floral notes. The aftertaste carries the sweet cream and floral notes, with a lingering flowery essence left in the mouth.

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Alishan Jinxuan Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fairly uniform fresh forest green color, many with reddish-brown edges reflecting the oxidation level. The pluck is as expected, with most being a three to four leaves attached to the shoot. There is also a good number of individual unbroken leaves with no stem attached. There are no bare stems. The leaves are rather broad in width, as is expected with the jinxuan TTES # 12 cultivar, and have a smooth, soft, yet durable texture. The aroma has scents of sweet cream, peony, steamed spinach, and a touch of oats.

The Alishan Jinxuan Oolong Tea from Taiwan M’s Tea is a perfect example of a classic, naturally delicious milk oolong tea. This tea is light and refreshing, with a sweet and floral aroma and taste that are comforting and uplifting. The leaves can handle many infusions and still give a great experience. Not only is the tea liquid a pleasure to enjoy, but observing and playing with the large, unbroken leaves is always a treat to a tea enthusiast. Since Jinxuan leaves are known for being broad in width, they are fun to compare side-by-side with other cultivars from Taiwan and other origins. Delicious and affordable, Alishan Jinxuan Oolong Tea would be a perfect addition to a tea collection.

Many thanks to Michelle at Taiwan M’s Tea for supplying this sample of Alishan Jinxuan Oolong Tea. And thanks to my readers for taking your time to read my review. Have a great weekend!

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Silver Tips White Tea From Greenwood Tea Estate

Today, I will be focusing on the Silver Tips White Tea from the Greenwood Tea Estate, located in the Kandy region of Sri Lanka. For more information on the Greenwood Tea Estate, please see my earlier review of their FBOPF EXSP Black Tea.

A fresh white tea from Sri Lanka is not a pleasure I have experienced since 2014. That silver tips white tea was from the Uva Halpewatte Estate in the Uva region of Sri Lanka. It will be interesting to compare today’s tea from the Kandy region with my memory of the one from Uva.

Silver tips white tea from Sri Lanka is a labor and time intensive product to create, and very limited in production, so it tends to fetch higher prices in the market, and can be difficult to come by in the U.S. However, if a fresh batch can be found, it is definitely worth tasting.

Let’s get to the review.

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Greenwood Silver Tips White Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform appearance of silver-white with a charcoal black undertone. The buds are covered in fine silver hairs. There are no bare leaves, or bare stems, just mature buds that envelope a younger bud beneath. The buds are long and narrow, when compared to the more well-known silver needle teas from the Fujian province of China, which are thicker and plumper. The buds have a sickle shape, and a smooth, soft texture. The aroma has scents of honey, orchid, honeydew melon, and sweet dry hay.

4 grams of dry buds were placed in a 150 ml porcelain gaiwan, and infused with 185°F water for 3:00 minutes.

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Greenwood Silver Tips White Tea – Liquid

The tea liquid had a pale, clean, light yellow color. The aroma had scents of honey, orchid, honeydew melon, sweet hay, vanilla, and a touch of fresh coconut water. The body is medium, with a velvety, luxurious texture. There is no bitterness or astringency. The taste has notes of honey, vanilla, honeydew melon, sweet hay, and lighter notes of orchid, fresh coconut water, and apples. The aftertaste is sweet and comforting, and lingers on the tongue for a pleasant time span.

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Greenwood Silver Tips White Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused buds have a uniform appearance of pale forest green and dark brown along the shoot and midrib. The mature buds envelope a single younger bud. There are no bare stems or leaves in the mix, all mature and young buds. There are a few broken buds, but the vast majority are whole. The aroma has soothing, sweet scents of honey, vanilla, ripe honeydew melon, and orchid.

The Silver Tips White Tea from Greenwood Tea Estate warrants high praise. This tea is comforting, soothing, and warming, providing an excellent aroma, texture, and taste. This tea, as with the other Sri Lanka silver tips products that I have tried, has a more delicate character than its Fujian cousins, which, in my opinion, provides a very high end and luxurious experience. I can truly feel the time and effort that was put into this product. This tea can be steeped again and again, and still give a great experience with each infusion. In the world of white teas, this product can stand with the best.

Thanks again to Greenwood Tea Estate for providing this sample of Silver Tips White Tea. Cheers!

Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea From Taiwan M’s Tea

Today, I will be focusing on an Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea from a vendor that I have had the pleasure of talking to recently, Taiwan M’s Tea. Michelle and her family have been in the tea business for fifteen years. Up until the past three years, their business focused on catering to the domestic Taiwanese market, but recently they have had their eyes set on supplying foreign markets. Michelle also has an uncle who is a tea farmer in Taiwan. From talking to Michelle, I can feel her and her family’s passion for quality Taiwanese tea is very strong. These are the types of people that I love to support and introduce to my readers.

Taiwan M’s Tea is currently getting their retail website designed, but if you want to learn more about this company, please visit their blog. If you are interested in purchasing this tea, simply contact Michelle, and I am sure she will be happy to work with you. Taiwan M’s Tea is also active on Twitter.

Now, a little reintroduction to Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea, since it has been a couple of years since I last reviewed similar products. Oriental Beauty goes by a number of aliases, including Dongfang Meiren, Bai Hao, White Tip Oolong, and Champagne Oolong. This type of tea undergoes a very unique step during the growing process. The tea farmers allow specific bugs, called leafhoppers (or Jacobiasca Formosana), to feast on the leaves and buds of the tea bush. As a defense mechanism, the tea bushes produce metabolites to discourage the leafhoppers from feeding on the bush. The leaves and buds also begin to naturally oxidize at the areas where the leafhoppers were feeding. The combination of the metabolites and higher oxidation levels give this tea a uniquely sweet scent and flavor. By the time the processing of the leaves is completed, the final oxidation level is around the 70% range. No roasting is applied to the leaves during production. What other non-tea products in the world have such interesting, creative, and effective methods to producing a unique product?

Let’s get to the review…

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Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from light brown to dark brown and dark charcoal grey, with a nice amount of fuzzy silver buds in the mix. The leaves and buds appear to be mostly unbroken, many still attached to a think, soft stem. There are also some large fragments in the mix. The pluck is two leaves and a fairly mature bud. The leaves are lightly rolled, giving them a delicate, fluffy feel. The aroma has scents of dried peaches, peony flowers, light potpourri, and honey.

Five grams were placed in a 150 ml porcelain gaiwan, and infused with 190°F for 10 seconds on the first infusion, with an additional 5 seconds added to each subsequent infusion.

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Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea – Liquid

The liquid had a bright, clean, red-orange color. The aroma had scents of fresh peaches, peony flowers, and honey. The body is medium, with an incredibly smooth, honey-like texture. The taste had notes of peaches, peony, honey, and a touch of hay. There was no bitterness to this liquid. The aftertaste carried the sweet notes, with a very light touch of flowers. A honey-like taste and texture seemed to stick to the teeth and tongue.

After about seven infusions, the leaves are still going strong, and giving a very pleasant, high quality aroma and taste.

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Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves and buds vary in color from green-brown to dark brown. Some of the leaves do appear to have signs of bud bites. All leaves show an obvious high level of oxidation. The pluck is mostly two leaves and a fairly mature bud. Many of the leaves and buds are fully intact, with medium and large fragments making up the rest of the mix. The aroma of these infused leaves is really potent and attractive, with strong scents of peaches, potpourri, and honey. It even seems to have a touch of passionfruit in the aroma. As they cool, they actually smell stronger and sweeter than when fresh out of the water.

The Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea from Taiwan M’s Tea is a true testament to the creativity and specialization of Taiwanese tea growers and makers. Their understanding and observation of nature at work allowed them to create a uniquely sweet product. The peach and honey flavors, combined with the soft floral taste of peony, gave this tea a luxurious character. The honey-like texture and aftertaste, both of which lingered in the mouth for a nice amount of time, also gave the tea a high quality feel. Finally, the aroma of the cool infused leaves was a true pleasure.

Thanks again to Michelle at Taiwan M’s Tea for reaching out to me, and providing this sample of Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea. Look for more reviews of Taiwanese teas from Taiwan M’s Tea in the near future. Thanks for taking your time to read my review. Cheers!

GTGFOP1 Clonal Black Tea from Halmari Tea Estate

Today, I will be reviewing the GTGFOP1 Clonal Black from Halmari Tea Estate, which was awarded a 2017 Global Tea Championship First Place Award in the Fall Hot Loose Leaf Assam category. Congratulations to everyone at Halmari Tea Estate for this accomplishment!

You can purchase 250 grams of this tea for USD $35.00 plus shipping fees direct from Halmari Tea Estate.

I have covered Halmari Tea Estate in detail in previous posts, and the link above takes you to their website, where there is plenty of additional information, so let’s just jump right into the review today.

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Halmari GTGFOP1 Clonal Black Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark brown color, with a generous portion of fuzzy golden tips. The size and shape of the leaves is also uniform, and consists of small leaf and bud fragments. This tea has a very high quality appearance. The aroma has sweet scents of malt, dark honey, and a light, nutmeg-like spiciness.

Nine grams of dry leaves were placed in an 18 ounce (530 ml) cast-iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 200°F water for 3:00 minutes.

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Halmari GTGFOP1 Clonal Black Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a deep, amber red color. The aroma has scents of malt, dark honey, roses, and a touch of nutmeg. The body is full, with a brisk and robust character, and a rich, layered texture. The taste has notes of malt, rosebuds, pine wood, and black peppercorn. The notes of malt and pine carry over in the aftertaste.

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Halmari GTGFOP1 Clonal Black Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform copper brown color. The leaves and buds are all small fragments, quite uniform in shape and size. The aroma has a dominant scent of malt, with a very light scent of roses.

It’s not difficult to understand why the GTGFOP1 Clonal Black Tea from Halmari Tea Estate won the first place award in it’s category this year. This product is a very nicely refined, luxurious taste of Assam style black tea. It has the malty, full bodied, brisk character that Assam teas are known for, but with a rich, layered texture, and more complex taste than your typical Assam black tea. This tea deserves to be enjoyed without any additives. However, it is an Assam tea, which always takes well to milk, honey, or any of your favorite additions. Enjoy it any way you choose, but do take the time to enjoy it!

Thanks again to Halmari Tea Estate for providing this sample of GTGFOP1 Clonal Black Tea. Keep up the great work! Cheers!