H’Mong Kings Green Tea From Rakkasan Tea Company

Today, I will be taking a look at the H’mong Kings Green Tea from Rakkasan Tea Company. You can also learn more about Rakkasan Tea Company by checking out my Company Spotlight post.

You can purchase 1.5 ounces (40 grams) of this tea for USD $11.99 from the Rakkasan Tea Company website.

This H’Mong Kings Green Tea is sourced from H’Mong wild tea farmers in the Ha Giang province of northern Vietnam. The Google map below shows the location of Ha Giang province.

The wild tea bushes harvested to make this tea are located at an altitude of about 5,200 feet (1,585 meters) above sea level, and are surrounded by forests of pine trees. The leaves are fired and dried over cast iron pans heated by burning wood.

Generally speaking, I have found most wild grown, pan fired green teas to be more similar in character to sheng (raw) puer teas, having a more complex, mineral character than the grassy, nutty, or floral characters of the more commercialized green teas. I love the mineral character, so let’s hope this tea has some of that.

As a quick sidenote, as you may have noticed, I have upgraded this site to an owned domain, and changed the theme. Any feedback, positive or negative, will be appreciated regarding the font sizes, photo sizes, color schemes, layout, etc.

Let’s get to the review…

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H’Mong Kings Green Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary slightly in color from pale light forest green to pale dark forest green. There are a few silver buds in the mix, as well as a bare stem or two. The leaves appear to be mostly large fragments and whole leaves detached from a stem. Some leaves are still attached to the stem, many including a bud, and show a two leaf and bud pluck. Some leaves appear to have signs of light oxidation. The leaves are hand rolled. They appear to have been well cared for during firing, as there are no obvious signs of over cooking or burning. The aroma has scents of campfire, pine wood, mineral, and fresh earth. Definitely not your typical green tea!

Four grams of dry leaves were placed in a 7 ounce (210 mL) bizen-ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 185°F (85°C) water for 2:00 minutes. 30 seconds of additional time were added to each subsequent infusion. Four quality infusions were extracted from the leaves.

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H’Mong Kings Green Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a bright, pale yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma has dominant scents of minerals, with touches of grass and pine wood. The body is medium, with a silky, light texture. There is a very slight bitterness, and no astringency. The taste has notes of minerals, wet stones, and touches of grass and pine wood. The aftertaste carries the dominant mineral character, with a lighter touch of grass. The liquid leaves the mouth feeling clean and refreshed.

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H’Mong Kings Green Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a mostly uniform fresh forest green color, some showing slight signs of oxidation. One or two leaves appear to have signs that bugs were feasting on them. The leaves are mostly large fragments, but there are some whole detached leaves ,and some whole leaves attached to stems that show a two leaf and bud pluck. There are one or two bare stems in the mix. These leaves seem to have a larger than normal midrib. The leaves have a soft, yet durable texture, even after four infusions. The aroma carries the scents of minerals, and touches of grass, earth, and smoke.

The H’Mong Kings Green Tea is not a typical green tea, and I mean that as a positive observation. As I had hoped for, this tea is dominated by a mineral character, with some light touches of earth, grass, and wood. This is the kind of tea I dream of taking with me on a trip into the mountains, as it really offers that “connecting with nature” energy. The appearance of the leaves certainly has the “hand-crafted” look, and is obviously watched over carefully during production. The clean and refreshing feeling that this tea leaves in the mouth is also a noteworthy feature. Overall, a very unique, revitalizing green tea that should cater to the preferences of sheng puer tea drinkers.

Many thanks to the management at Rakkasan Tea Company for providing this sample of H’Mong Kings Green Tea! Keep up the excellent work. Cheers!

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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.

Suoi Giang Special Green Tea from Yen Bai Province in Vietnam

It is generally accepted that the tea bush originated in the areas of southwest China (Yunnan), northwest Vietnam (Tay Bac), and northeast Laos (Phongsaly). To this day, these areas are known for the old tea trees that naturally flourish in the forests. Suoi Giang rests in the northern mountains of Yen Bai Province in Vietnam. This area also has an impressive forest that holds many old (and presumably wild) tea trees.

The natural environment in Suoi Giang is so perfect for the tea trees that the people who manage and watch the tea trees in the this forest need to do nothing more than add natural manure to maintain the trees. No irrigation and no shading is required. Yet, the clean and natural green teas that are produced using these old tea trees is still relatively unknown to Western tea drinkers. The reason is a shortage of workers to pick the leaves, and certainly not the quality of the teas themselves.

Let’s give some due fair analysis and respect to the work of nature in caring for the tea trees in Suoi Giang, and the Hmong workers who pluck these clean tea leaves. The sample packet has been opened, and an earthy, clean aroma is filling the air. Let the journey begin…

Suoi Giang Special Green Tea Dry Leaves
Suoi Giang Special Green Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a light to dark faded green color. The pluck is two leaves and a very small bud. The leaves consist of large fragments, and presumably many whole leaves with the stem intact. The leaves appear to be larger in size than most more common green teas. There are also a few bare stems of considerable size and thickness, like a matchstick. The leaves are rolled, and many are curled. The leaves are very dry, and crack easily and cleanly. The aroma has scents of light grass, light brown sugar, light earth, and very light dried fruit.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a porcelain tea infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 185°F (80°C). The leaves were infused for 3:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home brewing is to use three grams of dry leaves for every 6 to 8 ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 175°F (75°C). Steep the leaves for 1:30 minutes.

Suoi Giang Special Green Tea Infusion
Suoi Giang Special Green Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a golden-yellow color with a slight greenish tint, clear and transparent. The aroma had scents of grass, mineral (earth), light dried fruit, and light wet wood. The body was medium, with a round texture. The taste had notes of mineral (wet stone), grass, light marine, light wood, and very light flowers. The aftertaste is a combination of grass and mineral, and a flowery essence is left on the breath. All things considered, this Suoi Giang green tea reminds me of a sheng pu’er tea more than a typical green tea.

Suoi Giang Special Green Tea Infused Leaves
Suoi Giang Special Green Tea Infused Leaves

The wet leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color. Some leaves show signs of tea mosquito attacks, with small round black marks. The leaves are all large fragments or whole leaves. The larger leaves measure 2.5 to 3 inches (63 to 76 mm) in length. The pluck is two leaves and a very small bud. There are a few bare stems in the mix. The leaves have a soft, smooth texture. The aroma has scents of mineral, grass, earth, and light flowers.

Of the green teas that I have tried from the various regions of Vietnam, I will say that this has been among the best. The fact that it reminds me more of a sheng pu’er than a typical green tea has much to do with that opinion. The taste is clean and natural, with a dominant mineral character. The leaves also withstood three infusions that all produced very good quality cups. The price of this tea is relatively low at the moment, which makes it a great time to find and try it! Unfortunately, I cannot find a tea shop via Google search in North America that offers this tea. If someone knows of one, let me know and I will revise this posting with the shop’s website address.

Tan Cuong Green Tea from Thai Nguyen Province of Vietnam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!