Silk Oolong Tea From Araksa Tea Garden

Today’s review will focus on the Silk Tea from Araksa Tea Garden in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Although not specified as an oolong tea by Araksa Tea Garden, the leaves are definitely partially oxidized, and have undergone more processing than a white tea. Thus, for the purpose of reviewing the tea, and determining steeping guidelines, I have classified this as an oolong tea.

For more information on Araksa Tea Garden, check out my Company Spotlight post.

Let’s get to the review…

The dry leaves vary in color from pale dark green to pale light brown to pale dark brown, with some pale gold-yellow buds and silverish buds. The leaves consist almost entirely of unbroken, whole leaves and buds attached to stems, showing a range of plucking standards from one leaf and bud to three leaves and bud. There are a few detached, large leaf fragments. There is a generous amount of mature, large buds, and no totally bare stems. The leaves and buds are partially oxidized (as an estimate, maybe 30 to 40%), are very lightly hand rolled, and appear to have been pan fired. It is obvious that great care was put into shaping these leaves. The aroma has scents of toasted oats, light brown sugar, dried corn, and dried chrysanthemum flowers.

Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 mL) cast iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 190°F (88°C) water for 3:00 minutes.

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Araksa Silk Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a bright, golden yellow color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma has interesting scents of chrysanthemum, sweet corn, and a touch of hay. The body is surprisingly full, will a silky, very smooth texture. There is no bitterness or astringency. The taste has notes of sweet corn, chrysanthemum, and hay. The aftertaste carries the hay and floral qualities, but with a subtle developing undertone of rose apples. There is lasting floral essence left on the breath.

The infused leaves vary slightly in the depth of the pale brown tones of color. The blend consists mostly of unbroken, whole leaves and buds attached to stems. There are a few large leaf fragments, detached from the stems, and no totally bare stems. The plucking standard varies from one leaf and mature bud to three leaves and mature bud. The largest buds measure nearly two inches (50 mm) long. Most of the buds this size are enveloping a younger bud. These are beautiful tea leaf specimens to observe. While hot, the leaves carry the aroma of chrysanthemum and corn. As they cool, the infused leaves hold a strong scent of magnolia flowers.

The Silk Tea from Araksa Tea Garden is a truly unique product. The leaves are beautiful to visually observe and handle in both the dry and infused forms. As mentioned above, it is obvious that the people at Araksa took incredible care of these leaves during production to not tear, detach, or otherwise damage the appearance. The taste is also unique, a blend of floral and corn notes. I cannot say I expected to find these characteristics in this tea, and although the combination was  a challenge to understand and interpret at first, the final description seemed to come rather easily. The aroma of the cool, infused leaves is spectacular. It feels as if I stuck my nose into one of the large blooming magnolia flowers in the front of my house. Overall, this was a fascinating experience, and I would recommend this more to fellow tea enthusiasts who can appreciate the specific qualities offered by this tea.

Thanks again to the management at Araksa Tea Garden for providing this sample of Silk Tea. Keep up the interesting and innovative work! Cheers!

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Aromatic Oolong Tea From Zealong Tea Estate in New Zealand

Today, I am introducing you, my readers, to the Aromatic Oolong Tea from Zealong Tea Estate. This tea is another certified organic product from Zealong. You can read more about Zealong Tea Estate on my recent Company Spotlight post.

This Aromatic Oolong Tea is given a quick roast at a high temperature to bring out the sweet, fruity flavors, while leaving much of the floral notes still intact. This product, like the Organic Green Tea, comes in very stylish, high quality packaging, as shown below.

You can purchase 50 grams of the Aromatic Oolong Tea for USD $31.95 plus shipping from Zealong Tea website.

Let’s get to the review…

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Zealong Aromatic Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves are pale green to pale dark green in color. The leaves are mostly unbroken, whole leaves still attached to a stem, with a few detached whole leaves and large fragments. The leaves are tightly rolled and compacted into semi-ball shapes, similar to the famous oolong style of Taiwan. I expect a common oolong pluck of three to four leaves on the stem, hopefully with buds intact. The oxidation level appears to be in the medium range (25% to 35%). We already know there is a brief roast given to the leaves. The aroma, as with the Zealong Organic Green Tea, is incredibly fresh (are you noticing a pattern here?), with sweet, roasty scents of dark chocolate, caramel, toasted grains, and a touch of dried cherry.

Four grams of dry leaves were placed in an 8.5 ounce (250 mL) bizen-ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 190°F (88°C) water for 2:30. Fifteen seconds were added to the brewing time on each subsequent infusion.

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Zealong Aromatic Oolong Tea – Tea Liquid

The tea liquid has a bright, golden yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma has a beautiful combination of scents, including gardenia flowers, tart cherries, and toasted grains, all wrapped in an overall roasty blanket. The body is medium, with a silky, almost creamy texture. There is a light astringency, and a light bitterness. The taste, like the aroma, has notes of gardenia, tart cherry, and toasted grains under the general roasty character. The gardenia notes carry in to the aftertaste, and an impressive floral bouquet lingers on the breath.

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Zealong Aromatic Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform dark forest green color, with most of the leaves displaying reddish brown edges, evidencing the level of oxidation. The plucking standard ranges from the expected four leaves on long stems to two leaves on stem, with a few detached individual leaves. Most of the leaves are unbroken, and the rest are large fragments. There are some tender young buds included on some of the stems also, to my pleasant surprise. There are no totally bare stems. The leaves are long and narrow in shape. They have a thin leathery texture. The aroma of the infused leaves, especially as they cool, is truly an amazing bouquet of gardenia and generally sweet smelling flowers.

The Aromatic Oolong Tea from Zealong Tea Estate beautifully carried the very high quality torch that began with the review yesterday of the Organic Green Tea. The use of the descriptive term “Aromatic” in the product name is perfectly appropriate for this tea. From the dry leaves to the nectar to the infused leaves, the aroma is very impressive and fresh. Despite the brief, high temperature roast applied to the leaves, I found the floral qualities to be the most pronounced, with lighter notes of tart cherry. The lingering, highly floral aftertaste was also very impressive. The similarities are definitely there between this product and good quality Taiwanese oolongs, notably a light roast Dong Ding style. Considering that the cost of this product is in line with Taiwanese oolongs, I definitely suggest giving this Aromatic Oolong Tea from Zealong Tea Estate a try the next time you place an order. Try something exotic!

Thanks again to the management at Zealong Tea Estate for providing this sample of Aromatic Oolong Tea. Cheers!

Sapphire Oolong Tea From Herman Teas and Handunugoda Tea Estate

Considering that I believe my knowledge of and experience with Sri Lankan teas to be among my more extensive of the tea producing countries, I am rather surprised to look back through my records and realize that the tea I am reviewing today, the Sapphire Oolong Tea from Herman Teas and Handunugoda Tea Estate, is the first oolong style tea from Sri Lanka that I will have reviewed. Yes, I have tried other teas from Sri Lanka that were marketed as green tea but should have probably, in reality, been called an oolong tea, but this Sapphire Oolong is the first oolong tea from Sri Lanka that is actually marketed as oolong.

On another quick side note, I have quite a few sample packages arriving in the next couple of weeks from some very unique places, some coming from countries and regions that I have never experienced before. In the past, I have tried to share information on a single estate or supplier piece by piece and spread out over the several reviews of products from that source. Going forward, I will change the format some, in order to both save myself some time, and prevent information from recurring over a series of posts. I plan to write a single post for individual estates or suppliers that will highlight their farm/business, and all the pertinent information about them, then simply link to the corresponding post in all reviews of products from that source. This will allow me to post more product reviews in less time, and give these sources their own individual spotlight. This new format will begin with Lumbini Tea Valley, whose sample package sadly appears to be stuck in UPS customs limbo as of the typing of this post.

With that being said, if you want to learn more about Herman Teas and Handunugoda Tea Estate, please simply enter “herman” into the search box on this page, and you will find all my past reviews of their other products. Most of the interesting information will be found on the first and second product review, which I believe were the Rainforest Black Tea and Ceylon Souchong Black Tea.

You can purchase a retail package of pyramid style teabags of the Sapphire Oolong Tea from the Herman Teas website for USD $11.50.

Finally, let’s get to the review…

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Sapphire Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark charcoal gray color, with a few spots of pale yellow-brown. The leaves appear to be a combination of medium to large leaf fragments, with the possibility of a few unbroken, whole leaves, and a noteworthy amount of mostly bare to entirely bare stems, some of which are quite long (between 3 to 4 inches in length). The pluck also varies, with some stems showing a two leaf pluck, some showing a Taiwan oolong pluck of three to four leaves, and some just a single leaf. The leaves are lightly rolled, and vary in appearance from long and wiry to loose and fluffy. The dark color indicates a high level of oxidation. The most remarkable part of the dry leaves in the aroma, which has unique, highly attractive scents of dark chocolate, malt, dried prunes, and forest floor.

Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 mL) cast-iron tetsubin teapot and infused with 200°F (94°C) water for 3:00 minutes.

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Sapphire Oolong Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a gold-yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma is intoxicating, and nothing like that of the dry leaves, with amazing scents of Ceylon cinnamon, baked sweet potato, baked pumpkin, light brown sugar, and light gardenia. The body is medium, with a lively and layered texture. There is no bitterness or astringency, a touch of the briskness that Ceylon teas are known for, and an uplifting, eye opening energy. The taste has notes of Ceylon cinnamon, baked sweet potato, baked pumpkin, light gardenia, and light brown sugar. The aftertaste carries the cinnamon and sweet potato notes. I can say with complete honesty that I have never experienced a tea similar to this in terms of aroma and taste. This is absolutely phenomenal.

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Sapphire Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves range in color from dark forest green to dark brown, with the greener leaves displaying reddish edges, indicating the relatively high level of oxidation. The blend consists of mostly large leaf fragments, with quite a few totally bare stems or mostly bare stems, and a few unbroken leaves. The leaves are fairly thin, with a smooth, rubbery texture. The bare stems display a range of plucking standards, from one leaf to four leaves, with no buds. The aroma carries the enticing scents of sweet potato, pumpkin, Ceylon cinnamon, and wet gardenia flowers.

The second aIsmelled and tasted this tea nectar, my mind immediately landed on two comparable autumn time foods: sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie. The combination of sweet potato, pumpkin, cinnamon, and brown sugar are absolutely delicious, and unlike any tea that I have smelled or tasted before. The touch of gardenia flower is just a pleasant bonus. If it were missing, this review would give no less praise to this product. The appearance and consistency of the leaves are unremarkable, and I am contributing the incredible sweetness of this tea partially to the high number of bare, large stems in the mix. However, the lack of an impressive appearance is quickly brushed off once the aroma of the liquid hits the nose, and the taste hits the tongue. I cannot recommend this tea enough to you, my readers. Order some today, and post your comments here when you are knocked off your feet by the aroma and taste.

Congratulations to Herman Teas and Handunugoda Tea Estate for their success and hard work in creating this Sapphire Oolong Tea! It is, in all honesty, an instant favorite of mine. I will be sad when the day comes that I am out of this tea, and that day is going to come sooner than later.

It is really good! Seriously.

Wenshan Baozhong Oolong Tea From Fong Mong Tea

Occasionally, I come across a sample that I pass over at first. Eventually, it comes back around, and I realize that I have not experienced such a type of tea in a really long time. That sample suddenly becomes much more interesting, and the choice of what was getting the review today became easy (for once).

In fact, as it appears, I have never actually reviewed a Baozhong (or pouchong) style oolong tea from Taiwan, where the original and best Baozhongs come from. I have tried green and black varieties from Indonesia, but none from Taiwan. Thinking further, I believe the only time I have had a Taiwanese pouchong tea was when I was studying with either World Tea Academy or International Tea Masters Association, and a basic sample was included with the study materials. That is most unfortunate, but thankfully, that run ends today.

Today, I will be reviewing the Wenshan Baozhong (Pouchong) Oolong Tea from Fong Mong Tea. You can purchase 300 grams of this tea for USD $34.99 from Fong Mong Tea.

Generally speaking, the best pouchong teas are grown in the Pinglin District, Taipei County, Taiwan. You can see the general location of the Pinglin District in the Google map below.

Wenshan Baozhong teas are lightly oxidized, usually between 6% and 12%, putting it on the green side of the oolong scale. In fact, the Taiwanese classify Baozhong tea in its own category altogether. Another characteristic of Baozhong tea that differentiates it from other oolong teas produced in Taiwan is the lightly rolled, twisted appearance of the leaves, compared to the dense, tightly compacted ball shape of most other styles of Taiwanese oolongs.

The leaves are harvested from Qing Xin cultivar bushes at an average elevation of 500 meters (1,640 feet) above sea level. These bushes can be harvested in all four seasons of the year.

Let’s get to the review…

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Wenshan Baozhong Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a fairly uniform color of pale forest green to pale dark forest green. The leaves consist of mostly detached (individual), whole leaves. There are a few small stems in the mix which have very little leaf attached. There are no buds or tips. The leaves are lightly rolled, giving them a relatively fluffy appearance. The color of the leaves indicates a low oxidation level. There are no signs of roasting. The aroma is incredible and pronounced, with dominant scents of Chinese cinnamon, honey, sweet butter, and dried apple. This is a very high quality and luxurious aroma.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an eight ounce (240 mL) bizen ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 185°F (85°C) water for 3:00 minutes. Infusion time was lowered to 2:30 on the second infusion, then 15 seconds of time were added to each subsequent infusion. In total, seven infusions were drawn from the leaves.

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Wenshan Baozhong Oolong Tea – 1st Infusion

The first infusion has a green-gold-yellow color, perfectly clear and transparent. The later infusions took a more gold yellow color without any green. Again, the aroma is beautiful, with scents of Chinese cinnamon, honey, gardenia flowers, and apple. The body is medium, with a fresh, lively texture. There is no bitterness, and a very light astringency to the first infusion, which further dissipates in later infusions. The taste has pronounced notes of Chinese cinnamon, gardenia, apples, and honey, with maybe a light touch of sweet cream. The aftertaste carries the gardenia and apple notes, with a lingering, powerful, and noteworthy floral bouquet being left on the breath. Very impressive!

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Wenshan Baozhong Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh dark forest green color. Some of the leaves show slight reddening of the edges, some show no discoloring (oxidation) at all. The leaves are mostly individual, detached, whole leaves. There are some large leaf fragments, a few nearly bare small stems, and no tips or buds. Most of the leaves show some tearing or ripping from the rolling stage of production. The largest unbroken leaf measures in at 2 inches (50 mm) long. The leaves appear very fresh, and there is no much variance in the size. The aroma carries the attractive scents of gardenia, apple, and honey. I do not feel much of the cinnamon scent in the infused leaves.

I must say that I am very happy with my decision to focus on this Wenshan Baozhong Oolong Tea today. Luckily, I had the time to really focus and enjoy it as much as possible, because this tea deserves the drinkers full attention. This tea is highly impressive from dry leaf to the multiple infusions through the observation of the infused leaves. This tea has among the most pronounced scents and flavors of Chinese cinnamon and gardenia that I have experienced, and the scents and flavors of honey and apple beautifully compliment the cinnamon and gardenia. All seven infusions gave a very good quality of liquid, and I only wish I had more time to pull additional infusions out of these leaves. It was a true pleasure being reintroduced to the fantastic quality and character of Wenshan Baozhong Oolong Tea.

Many thanks to Fong Mong Tea for providing this sample! Cheers!

Organic Light Oolong Tea From Harendong Organic Tea Estate

Today, the focus of this review will be the Organic Light Oolong Tea from Harendong Organic Tea Estate. I provided more information on this estate in my previous review of their Rolled Organic Black Tea.

This oolong tea differs from the Organic Medium Oolong Tea from Harendong in that the level of oxidation is lighter, and this light oolong tea has also been given a lighter roast (if any, at all) than the medium oolong tea. The intent of this production method is to keep this light oolong tea on the greener side of the tea spectrum, allowing the more floral, herbal qualities to shine through.

Let’s get to the review…

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Harendong Organic Light Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from pale light forest green to pale dark forest green. The leaves appear to be unbroken, whole leaves, some attached to the stem, others detached. I do expect to find some large fragments in the mix. There does not appear to be any totally bare stems present. The leaves appear to be rolled into a semi-ball shape, similar to oolongs from Taiwan, but not as tightly packed. The plucking standard appears to be a two to three leaf pluck. The aroma has sweet scents of light brown sugar, caramel, toasted oats, vanilla, and a touch of light cinnamon.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an eight ounce (240 mL) bizen ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 190°F (88°C) water for 3:00 minutes.

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Harendong Organic Light Oolong Tea – Infusion

The liquid has a light green-yellow color, turning more gold-yellow with the second and third infusions. The aroma has scents of light brown sugar, vanilla, oats, orange, and orchid. The body is medium, with a velvety, smooth texture. There is no astringency or bitterness. The taste has notes of light brown sugar, vanilla, orange, oats, orchid, and a light touch of sweet cream. The aftertaste is dominated by the orchid floral character, and has an impressively long hang time on the breath.

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Harendong Organic Light Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves are mostly uniform dark forest green color, with some minor signs of red oxidized edges. The leaves are mostly whole, unbroken leaves, about half still attached to stems, and half detached. There are some large fragments, but the majority of leaves are unbroken. The stems show a two leaf pluck, and a few even have a tender bud attached. The leaves have a hearty, rich, leathery feel that reminds me of Tie Guan Yin leaves. Many of the leaves measure around 2 inches (50 mm) of length. The aroma has scents of wet orchid, light orange, vanilla, and a touch of wet oats.

The Organic Light Oolong Tea from Harendong Organic Tea Estate offers a classic green oolong character, and is a proud representation of the quality teas being produced at Harendong. With sweet, floral, and fruity character, and a lasting floral aftertaste that is most remarkable, this product is an excellent daily drinking quality oolong tea. Adding to the qualities of the tea itself is the healthy reputation of organic farming practices, which Harendong Organic Tea Estate has been adhering to for over a decade. Healthy, delicious, and coming from a part of the world that is newer to the specialty tea industry. All good reasons to give the Organic Light Oolong Tea a try.

Thanks again to the management team at Harendong Organic Tea Estate for providing this sample of Organic Light Oolong Tea! Happy Monday!

Shangri-La Organic Oolong Tea From Nepal Tea

Circling back around to the samples from Nepal Tea, the packet of Shangri-La Oolong Tea caught my attention. A few years have passed since I last reviewed an oolong from Nepal, so it’s time to get reacquainted.

You can get acquainted with the Shangri-La Oolong Tea for USD $11.99. At the time, this is only available in pyramid teabags. The loose leaf form should be back in stock soon. Who says you can’t tear open that pyramid bag and drop the leaves in your preferred brewing vessel?

I have covered quite a bit of information on Nepal Tea in my previous reviews of the Organic Silver Yeti White Tea and the Kanchanjangha Noir Black Tea. Check out those reviews for information on Nepal Tea and Kanchanjangha Tea Estate, and the good they do for their local tea growing communities in Nepal.

Let’s get to the review…

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Shangri-La Organic Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform pale charcoal grey color, with a few small golden tips in the mix, and no obvious bare stems. The leaves also have a uniform shape and size, appearing to consist mostly of detached whole leaves and large fragments. I am having trouble deciding if I think these leaves are twisted, rolled, or a combination of both. Not that this observation takes away from the overall high quality of the appearance. Generally speaking, the teas from Nepal that I have come across are usually machine rolled, and look similar to Darjeeling teas. But this tea definitely has a unique appearance. The leaves and buds still attached to stems show a superfine plucking standard of one leaf and bud. The color of the leaves indicates a heavier oxidation level, but not full oxidation. The aroma has scents of dark chocolate, malt, dry wood, and dry cherries.

Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in an 18 ounce (530 mL) cast-iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 190°F (88°C) water for 3:00 minutes.

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Shangri-La Organic Oolong Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a beautiful, rich gold-red-orange color. The aroma has scents of malt, grapes, and lighter scents of black pepper, licorice, and pine wood. The body is full, with a fluffy, biscuit-like texture. There is a light briskness, a very light and smooth bitterness, and very little astringency. The taste reflects the aroma very closely, with notes of malt, grapes, black pepper, and lighter notes of licorice and pine wood. The aftertaste is lightly sweet and spicy, and a peppery feeling is left on the tongue.

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Shangri-La Organic Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform copper brown color. Again, some of the leaves look twisted, while others look machine rolled. The leaves are mostly detached whole leaves and large fragments. There are a few detached bud fragments, and a few pickings showing a superfine one leaf and bud plucking standard. There are no totally bare stems. The leaves have a soft, smooth, leathery texture, but also have a rather durable feel, like they can stand up to several rounds of infusion. This photo was taken after the second use of the leaves. The leaves are long and fairly narrow, evidence of the use of Chinese clonal tea bushes, also found commonly growing in Darjeeling. The scent has notes of malt, grapes. and a touch of licorice.

The Shangri-La Organic Oolong Tea from Nepal Tea is not your typical oolong tea. Although having more similarities to a Darjeeling second flush tea than some of the more well known oolongs of China, this tea has a very distinct set of qualities. Namely, the mouth feel of this tea is remarkable. From the fluffy, biscuity texture to the peppery feel that lingers on the tongue, these are not qualities that I experience often. The nicely balanced sweet and spicy tastes blend beautifully with the light brisk quality, and smooth bitterness. Combine the interesting physical characteristics of this tea with the fact that it is organically produced, and you have a product that deserves to be experienced by any level of tea enthusiast (including those who prefer the convenience of teabags!)

Thanks again to Nepal Tea and Kanchanjangha Tea Estate for their generosity in offering this sample of Shangri-La Oolong Tea. Cheers!

Gaoshanchi Fushoushan Oolong Tea From Fong Mong Tea

It’s been a busy past week and a half, but I am happy to finally get some time today to focus on some excellent tea. Today’s review will feature the Gaoshanchi Fushoushan Oolong Tea from Fong Mong Tea.

You can purchase 75 grams of the Gaoshanchi Fushoushan Oolong Tea for USD $35.90 from Fong Mong Tea Shop.

The leaves of this tea are harvested by hand from bushes of the Qingxing cultivar, which are grown at altitudes above 2,200 meters (7,200 feet) above sea level, in the Lishan area of Taiwan. This is a true high mountain oolong. The leaves are harvested only once or twice per year during the winter and spring seasons. The leaves are permitted a light degree of oxidation, and given a light roast.

Let’s get to the review…

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Gaoshanchi Fushoushan Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from pale forest green to dark green, indicating the light oxidation level and light roast applied to the leaves. The leaves are tightly compressed into the common ball shape that Taiwan oolongs are known for. The balls appear to consist of mostly unbroken, whole leaves, most of which are still attached to a stem. I expect to find the standard three to four leaf pluck. There are no bare stems, and no buds in the mix. There also appears to be a few large fragments, or smaller, unbroken leaves that have detached from the stem. There are a few small to medium fragments. The aroma is sweet and fruity, with scents of brown sugar, baked peaches, and Ceylon cinnamon.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an eight ounce (240 mL) bizen ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 190°F (87°C) water for 30 seconds. 15 seconds were added to each subsequent infusion.

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Gaoshanchi Fushoushan Oolong Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a pale, light yellow-green color. The aroma has scents of brown sugar, peaches, and lighter scents of honey, Ceylon cinnamon, and sweet cream. The body is medium, with a refreshing, clean texture. There is no astringency or bitterness. The taste has notes of brown sugar, peaches, floral honey, and lighter notes of Ceylon cinnamon and sweet cream. The aftertaste carries the sweet floral notes, and leaves an impressive lasting floral essence on the breath.

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Gaoshanchi Fushoushan Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fairly uniform forest green color, with most leaves displaying some reddish-brown edges, again indicating the light level of oxidation. The leaves are mostly unbroken, whole leaves attached to stems showing mostly a two to three leaf pluck, and some even have a very small bud. The largest whole leaves are detached from stems, and measure well over two inches long (50 mm) and an inch wide (25 mm). There are a few small to medium size fragments, and no bare stems. The leaves have a soft, leathery texture. The aroma carries the scents of peaches, floral honey, light Ceylon cinnamon, and spinach.

The Gaoshanchi Fushoushan Oolong Tea from Fong Mong Tea has much to offer to even the tea enthusiast well versed in Taiwanese oolongs. This is not a one dimensional tea, but offers sweet, fruity, and floral qualities in all infusions, with variation from infusion to infusion on which quality stands out the most. There is an evolution of aromas and tastes as the infusions go on. This is not your everyday drinking tea, but demands time and attention to fully enjoy all that it has to offer. The effect of the tea is refreshing and relaxing, and does not seem to give a powerful jolt of energy, but rather a calm, mindful alertness. These leaves should last a few hours before being depleted of quality. Enjoy each sip!

Thank you to Fong Mong Tea for providing this sample of Gaoshanchi Fushoushan Oolong Tea. And thanks to my readers who took their time to learn about this product. Have a great weekend, everyone.

Si Ji Chun Oolong Tea From Taiwan M’s Tea

Today’s review will focus on the Si Ji Chun Oolong Tea from Taiwan M’s Tea. This oolong tea is from the fall of 2017 harvest season, and sourced from Nantou County in Taiwan.

This style of Taiwanese oolong is harvested from cultivar bushes of the same name, Si Ji Chun. This tea usually has a lighter oxidation level around 20%, and a light roast applied to the leaves during processing.

The name Si Ji Chun translates into “four seasons”, a reference to the continual growth of fresh leaves on this cultivar. The continual growth is due to the lower elevations that these bushes are usually grown at (about 500 meters or 1,600 feet above sea level). Unlike many of the cultivars grown and used in Taiwan, the Si Ji Chun does not have a TTES number designation, as this is a semi-wild bush that was not developed by the TTES (Taiwan Research and Experimentation Station).

Let’s get to the review…

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Si Ji Chun Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a pale forest green to pale dark forest green color, with the stems being a pale yellow-brown color. The leaves are tightly compressed into the common Taiwanese oolong ball shape. The blend consists of mostly unbroken, whole leaves still attached to stems, some large fragment and detached whole leaves, one or two mostly bare stems, and no buds. I expect to find a three to four leaf plucking standard. Based on the size of the compressed balls, I expect the leaves to not be as large as one may find in many other Taiwanese oolong styles. The color of the leaves indicates the light oxidation (about 20%), and a light roast. The smell is amazing, sweet, and fruity, with scents of brown sugar, baked apples, and cinnamon.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an eight ounce (240 mL) bizen ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 190°F (88°C) water for 30 seconds. 10 seconds of steep time was added to each subsequent infusion.

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Si Ji Chun Oolong Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a light, pale green-yellow color. The aroma has attractive scents of baked apples, caramel, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a touch of apple blossom (which intensifies as the number of infusions increases). The body is medium, with a juicy, silky texture. There is no bitterness whatsoever, and a very light astringency that nicely compliments the flavor. The taste has notes of baked apples, caramel, brown sugar, cinnamon, and apple blossoms. The aftertaste carries the apple notes, which evolves into a refreshing apple blossom essence left on the breath.

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Si Ji Chun Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fresh dark forest green color. Most of the leaves have some reddish color showing on the edges, an indication of the oxidation level. The plucking standard is three leaves without a bud. There are a few detached, whole leaves in the mix, and a few large fragments (almost whole). There are also a few mostly bare stems. The leaves have a thin, soft leathery feel. Most of the whole leaves measure well under 2 inches (50 mm), but the largest one measured about 2.5 inches (63 mm). The leaves are fairly broad, with an appearance somewhat similar to the TTES 12 Jin Xuan cultivar leaves. The aroma carries the scents of wet apple blossom, and lighter scents of baked apples and brown sugar.

It had been a couple of years since I last experienced a Si Ji Chun Oolong. I don’t know if my tastes have developed so much over the years, or if that particular product just wasn’t of the same quality as this one, but this product from Taiwan M’s Tea is absolutely delicious. The apple character could be felt throughout this tea, and came in both the form of the fruit and blossom. Other than apple, the sweet tastes of brown sugar and caramel, blended with the apple and notes of cinnamon, made this tea a desert-like treat. The juicy, silky texture had a luxurious feel, and the slight touch of astringency perfectly complimented the flavor. The apple and apple blossom aftertaste and essence was a perfect finish. And, as usual with Taiwanese oolongs, the observation of the infused leaves was a good time. Overall, an excellent Taiwanese oolong with a lot of high quality infusions to offer.

Thank you to Michelle at Taiwan M’s Tea for providing this sample of Si Ji Chun Oolong. Have a good weekend, everybody! Cheers!

 

Gaoshan QingXiang Lishan Oolong Tea From Fong Mong Tea Shop

Today’s review will focus on the Gaoshan QingXiang Lishan Oolong Tea from Fong Mong Tea Shop. You can currently purchase 150 grams of this tea for USD $42.99 from Fong Mong Tea Shop.

The English translation for the name of this tea is “High Mountain (Gaoshan) Sweet Scent (QingXiang) Pear Mountain (Lishan) Oolong Tea”. If the aroma and taste of this tea lives up to the name and reputation of other Lishan oolong teas, then this is going to be a great tea session.

Lishan (Pear Mountain) is located in central Taiwan, in Taichung. A map showing the Lishan area is below.

The Qingxing cultivar bushes for this tea are grown at altitudes between 1,500 meters to 2,200 meters (4,900 feet to 7,200 feet) above sea level. At this altitude, the weather is rather cold and harsh on tea bushes. The results of growing tea in this environment are slow developing leaves, rare harvests (one to two per year, usually), and limited production. The limited supply of this product makes the necessity to slowly enjoy this experience even more of a priority.

Let’s get to the review…

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Gaoshan Qingxiang Lishan Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in shades of green from forest green to dark forest green. The leaves are very tightly rolled and condensed into the standard Taiwanese oolong ball, making them quite dense. I expect most of the leaves to be unbroken and fully intact on the stem, with a pluck in the three to four leaves and no bud. The other leaves should be unbroken but detached from the stem. There appears to be no fragments, all unbroken leaves, which is impressive! There is one stem that is almost entirely bare. The leaves appear to be on the lighter side of the oxidation scale (under 25%), and perhaps given a very light roast. The aroma is excellent, with inviting scents of brown sugar, baked apples and pears, ceylon cinnamon, floral honey, and orchids.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an eight ounce (240 mL) bizen-ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 190°F (88°C) water for 1:00 minute. Each subsequent infusion had another 15 seconds of time added.

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Gaoshan Qingxiang Lishan Oolong Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a bright, light yellow color. The aroma has scents of stewed apples and pears, orchids, brown sugar, and touches of Ceylon cinnamon and floral honey. The body is light-medium, with a honey-like texture. There is no trace of bitterness, and just a touch of astringency. The taste has notes of stewed apples and pears, floral honey, orchids, and lighter notes of brown sugar and Ceylon cinnamon. The aftertaste is incredible, carrying the fruit and honey notes, then evolving into an excellent orchid essence left on the breath.

As infusions get past four, the fruity and honey flavors diminish, leaving the floral character front and center with a touch of vegetal notes. The orchid essence on the breath remains as potent and amazing from the first infusion through the last.

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Gaoshan Qingxiang Lishan Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform dark forest green color. The leaves are all unbroken, some still attached to stems, and some detached. The stems show either a three leaves or four leaves pluck. There are no buds in the mix, and only one mostly bare stem. Some of the leaves display a light amount of oxidation, and there are signs of a light roast. There are also a few leaves showing signs of bug bites. The leaves are very smooth and soft, and rather long and narrow. It’s always a pleasure to play with and observe leaves from high quality Taiwanese oolongs like this. The aroma continues the scents of honey, stewed apples and pears, orchids, and a touch of brown sugar.

I am not sure if I could have picked a better tea to review before the long holiday weekend coming up. This Gaoshan QingXiang Lishan Oolong Tea was incredibly floral and sweet in the aroma and taste. I see some reviews using words like “vegetal”, and I just did not pick up any of that until maybe the fifth infusion. Even then, any vegetal character was very light, and the floral character dominated. The sweet aftertaste and lingering floral essence was the real highlight of this tea, in my opinion. To me, a tea that tastes this good for a minute after the liquid is consumed is an instant favorite. And to think, this tea is not even the best grade of this style from Fong Mong Tea Shop.

Many thanks to Fong Mong Tea Shop for providing this sample of Gaoshan QingXiang Lishan Oolong Tea! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Old Bush Ya Shi Xiang Dancong Oolong Tea From Chaozhou Tea Grower

Here it is, the last sample I have of the Dancong oolongs from Chaozhou Tea Grower. I saved this sample for last, since it a style of Dancong oolong that I have heard about repeatedly, yet never had an opportunity to try.

The English translation of the name “Ya Shi Xiang” is a cause for most peoples’ curiosity, and even some caution. That translation is “duck shit fragrance”. However, the story behind this name is rather entertaining, and don’t worry, there is no real use of or connection to duck feces.

Basically, the story goes that the name originates from a tea farmer who wanted to keep some special bushes he had a secret from outsiders. In order to dissuade the outsiders from asking too many questions or showing interest in the bushes, the farmer told them that the dark color of the soil around the bushes was because of the presence of duck feces. Naturally disgusted, the outsiders’ curiosity ended there, at least for the time being.

Thankfully, there is absolutely no resemblance in the aroma or taste of this tea to duck feces. In fact, the aroma and taste are quite the opposite, as you will see in the descriptions below.

You can purchase 25 grams of the Old Bush Ya Shi Xiang (Duck Shit) Oolong Tea from Chaozhou Tea Grower for USD $25.00.

Let’s get to the review…

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Old Bush Ya Shi Xiang Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a mostly uniform dark charcoal gray color, with a few spots of light brown and green-brown. The blend consists mostly of detached, individual large leaf fragments. There are a few mostly bare stems in the blend, which show a two to three leaf pluck. There are no buds in the mix. The leaves are tightly twisted, causing the larger leaves to appear quite long and wiry. The oxidation level appears to be in the low-medium range (25% – 40%), with a strong roast level applied. The aroma has scents of light roast coffee, toasted almonds, dried gardenia, dried lychee, with slight touches of anise and charcoal.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in a 5 ounce (150 mL) porcelain gaiwan, and infused with 200°F (93°C) water for 10 seconds. Each subsequent infusion was given an additional 10 seconds of time.

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Old Bush Ya Shi Xiang Oolong Tea – Liquid

The tea liquid has a bright, pale light yellow color. The aroma has scents of gardenia, honey, lychee, and lighter touches of charcoal and almonds. The body is light-medium, with a balanced, clean texture. There is no astringency. The taste has notes of gardenia, honey, lychee, mineral notes of charcoal and wet stones, and a light note of almonds. The floral gardenia note carries into the aftertaste, and lingers on the breath. The tea has a refreshing, cleansing effect on the palate, and a slight mentholated effect can be felt in the  first couple infusions. Overall, a very refreshing, uplifting energy can be felt from this tea.

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Old Bush Ya Shi Xiang Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves vary in color from dark forest green pale dark green to red-brown, an indication of the light-medium oxidation level permitted. The blend consists mostly of large leaf fragments, with some unbroken leaves, some medium sized fragments, and a few nearly bare stems. There are no buds in the mix. The leaves are quite broad in width, with a leathery texture. The aroma carries the scents of gardenia, honey, wet stones, and lychee.

So, it’s official, the aroma, taste, texture, and appearance at no point of this review reminded me of duck feces. It seems that the origin story is true! So don’t let the interesting name of this tea stop you from trying it, or else you will be missing out on a very good Dancong oolong tea experience. This tea is full of floral, fruity, and mineral character, with a very balanced proportion of each, making this a truly excellent oolong. The leaves will give you a seemingly endless supply of worthy infusions, making the price tag a little easier to accept. And, who doesn’t want to have the opportunity to serve their friends and family something called “Duck Shit Fragrance” oolong tea?! Just wait until you see their faces when you make the suggestion.

Quick side story, there is a very good tea grower in Indonesia named Harendong Organic Tea Estate. To pronounce this name quickly can give it a rather peculiar sound. My family, who were my guinea pigs as non-tea enthusiasts trying different types of tea that I was sourcing back in the day of the Tea Journeyman Shop, still remember when I offered them tea from a farm named Harendong. In fact, my older brother still pulls out the occasional innuendo.

Anyway, thank you to Chaozhou Tea Grower for providing this sample of Old Bush Ya Shi Xiang Oolong Tea. It was definitely worth the wait. Another great Dancong oolong experience! Cheers!