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…

20171208_103136
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.

20171208_104359
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.

20171208_132622
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!

Advertisements

Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong Tea from Chaozhou Tea Grower

Circling back around to another Dancong wulong sample from Chaozhou Tea Grower, today I will be reviewing the Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong Tea.

The name “Da Wu Ye” translates into English as “Big Dark Leaf”. The photo below of the largest leaf in the sample certainly lives up to this name, measuring about 3 inches long (7.6 cm) and 1.25 inches wide (3.2 cm). Considering that the leaf is not whole, I would say this is a fairly big, dark leaf (Da Wu Ye). The name makes sense…

20170817_122514_Richtone(HDR)
Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong Tea – Large Infused Leaf

According to the Yunnan Sourcing website featuring a similar product from the 2016 harvest, the Da Wu Ye varietal is a hybrid between the Ya Shi Xiang bush and the Shui Xian varietal.

The Da Wu Ye being reviewed in this post is grown on Fenghuang Mountain, Wudong Village, near the city of Chaozhou, Guangdong province, China. The bushes grow at an altitude between 1,200 feet and 1,800 feet (400 to 600 meters) above sea level. This tea was harvested in the spring of 2017, as the name suggests.

You can purchase 50 grams of this tea from the Chaozhou Tea Grower website for USD $9.00 plus USD $18.99 shipping to the U.S.

As I write this review, I am on about the 10th infusion of these leaves, and certainly the character has evolved over the infusions. For the sake of time, I have condensed all aroma and flavor notes into the single paragraph on the tea liquid.

Let’s get to the review…

20170817_105507_Richtone(HDR)
Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from pale yellow-green to reddish-brown to dark charcoal grey. The sample consists of unbroken leaves and large leaf fragments. The pluck is two to three mature leaves with no buds or tips. There are no totally bare stems. The leaves appear to be in the low to medium oxidation and roast levels, in comparison to the other Dancongs I have reviewed, and the remaining samples in the box, that are on the medium to high oxidation and roast levels. The leaves are lightly hand twisted, giving a fluffy, light feel. The texture is like thin, very dry leather. The aroma is fantastic, with scents of brown sugar, sweet cream, caraway, orchid, roasted almonds, and dried berries. The depth and layers of the aroma is remarkable!

Dry leaves were placed in a porcelain gaiwan. The leaves were quickly rinsed, then infused for 3 seconds with 200°F water. Each subsequent infusion received an additional 3 seconds of time.

20170817_110444_Richtone(HDR)
Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong Tea – 1st Infusion Liquid
20170817_121428_Richtone(HDR)
Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong Tea – 6th Infusion Liquid

As you can see in the photos above, the tea liquid started off a quite light golden yellow color, but deepened into a dark golden-yellow color after the 2nd infusion. As I approach the 10th and subsequent infusions, the color is obviously fading back to the lighter color of the 1st infusion. The aroma had scents of orchid, sweet cream, raspberries, caraway, and black peppercorns. The orchid scent persisted, while the other scents came and went. The sweet cream became more of a buttery scent as the infusions went on. The body was surprisingly full, with a clean, silky texture, and an invigorating energy. The taste had notes of orchid, raspberries, wet stones, caraway, black peppercorns, and sweet cream (again becoming buttery as infusions went on). The orchid and mineral taste became dominant after the 7th infusion, as the other notes began to fade off at different paces. The aftertaste was very potently floral, and lingered on the tongue for what seemed like several minutes. No matter what number infusion I came to, this floral aftertaste never seemed to fade away.

20170817_121453_Richtone(HDR)
Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves vary in color from pale forest green to dark forest green to reddish-copper to copper-brown. There are many unbroken leaves, and the rest are large leaf fragments. There are no tips or buds, and no totally bare stems. The leaves are long and fairly broad, and have a very smooth, soft, delicate texture at this point. Based on the fairly fresh appearance and texture of the leaves, it can be determined that they were given a relatively light roast during processing. The aroma carries the scents of fresh orchids, caraway, raspberries, sweet cream, and a touch of toasted almond.

This review of the Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong Tea began at 10:30 AM and is continuing through the posting of the review at 4:00 PM. The leaves still have flavor, and I simply cannot dispose of them while there is any time left before leaving my office for the day. Saying this, it can be known that this product is an all day drinking tea. And the day spent drinking this tea is going to be a happy one, full of deep aromas and flavors, headlined by orchids and sweet cream, with elements of spice, fruit, and minerals as the co-stars. This is a beautifully rounded tea that will keep you pushing the limits of the leaves. Warning, you may not be able to push hard enough to totally wear them out. I hope you have a lot of time on your hands, and a merciless pleasure in drinking mass quantities of tea, or else these leaves will most definitely outlast you.

Thanks to Chaozhou Tea Grower for providing this sample of Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong Tea. Cheers!

Ba Xian Dancong Wulong Tea From Chaozhou Tea Grower

Time to get back to that packet of Dancong wulong samples I received a week or so ago. Are you as excited as I am?! I thought so!

Today, I will be experiencing the Ba Xian Dancong Wulong Tea from Chaozhou Tea Grower. More about Chaozhou Tea Grower can be seen in my earlier review of their Man Lou Xiang Dancong Wulong Tea.

The term “Ba Xian” translates into English as “Eight Immortals”. This name refers to the type of tea bush that this tea is grown on. The Ba Xian bushes were originally cultivated in the Zhao An area of Fujian province, but have since been cultivated in areas like the Fenghuang Mountains in Wudong village, Guangdong province, and the better known Wu Yi Mountains in Fujian province. The below map shows the area of Chaozhou, the area in which sits Wudong village.

Let’s get to the review…

20170720_105821_Richtone(HDR)
Ba Xian Dancong Wulong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark brown to black color. The leaves consist of large fragments and some unbroken leaves, as well as a few bare stems. There are no obvious buds in the mix. The leaves are long and rather tightly twisted. They break easily into crumbs. These leaves show a higher level of oxidation, and a higher level of roasting. The aroma has scents of roasted walnuts, molasses, cassia bark, honey, charred camphor, and potpourri. The aroma has a combination of roasty, sweet, and earthy characters, which is quite different than anything else that I have reviewed recently.

The entire 7 gram sample of dry leaves were placed in a porcelain gaiwan, and infused in 200°F water for 5 seconds, and each subsequent infusion added another 5 seconds.

20170720_110859_Richtone(HDR)
Ba Xian Dancong Wulong Tea – Liquid

The tea liquid had a rich, gold-orange color. The aroma had scents of camphor, walnuts, honey, cassia, potpourri, and wet stones. As the infusions went on, an interesting and obvious scent of buttered popcorn also came up. The body is full, with a lush, juicy texture. The taste has notes of wet stones, cassia bark, potpourri, camphor, and dark honey. The aftertaste continued the floral and mineral character, and lingered on the back of the tongue. The tea also had a cleansing feeling on the palate.

20170720_123407_Richtone(HDR)
Ba Xian Dancong Wulong Tea – Infused Leaves

The wet leaves range in color from dark forest green to dark brown. The mixture consists almost entirely of large leaf fragments. The few unbroken leaves were torn easily during observation. There are a few bare stems in the mix, and no buds. The leaves are long and quite narrow. They are thicker and heartier than the standard Chinese tea bush leaves. The leaves have a higher level of oxidation. The aroma continues the scents of camphor, wet stones, potpourri, cassia bark, and dark honey.

The Ba Xian Dancong Wulong Tea was a pleasant departure from the other styles of teas that I have reviewed recently, not to take anything away from the other teas, of course. This tea had a nice combination of mineral, earthy, floral, roasty characteristics that was quite unique. It had a refreshing, cleansing quality to it, yet a full, lush texture. It was interesting to observe how the aromas and tastes evolved as the number of infusions went on. I had time for about fifteen infusions, and the sweet, floral character came out more, while the roasty, woody elements dissipated over those infusions. During the middle range of the infusions, a potent smell of buttered popcorn came forward, and was quite unexpected. Overall, this was a very interesting and time consuming experience, which I have come to expect from Dancong wulongs.

You can purchase 25 grams of the Ba Xian Dancong Wulong Tea from Chaozhou Tea Grower for USD $16.00 plus USD $18.99 shipping cost to the U.S.

Thank you to Chaozhou Tea Grower for providing this sample for review, and thank you to all of my readers. Cheers!

Man Lou Xiang Dancong Wulong Tea from Chaozhou Tea Grower

Yes! Six samples of high quality Dancong wulongs from Wudang village in China! What package can possibly be more exciting to a tea reviewer to receive?

Dancong wulongs are (most unfortunately) not a style of tea that I get to enjoy often. High quality Dancongs can get quite pricey, and samples can be hard to come by. I was fortunate enough to be contacted by a family who owns a farm in the Fenghuang mountains of Wudong village, outside of Chaozhou in the Guangdong province of China. This family has owned the farm for sixty years, and produces only Dancong style wulongs.

This Man Lou Xiang Dancong is grown at about 3,000 feet (1,000 meters) above sea level on Fenghuang Mountain. This tea was harvested in late April of 2017. The family believes the tea tree to be over 300 years old, and is harvested only one time per year with a two to three leaf pluck. The man who is credited with making this tea is Song Lin. This family has an Instagram account that offers many great photos of the tea masters at work. Search Instagram for “Wudongtea” to find them.

You can purchase 25 grams of this tea for USD $23.00 from the Chaozhou Tea Grower website. There is an additional $18.99 fee to ship to the U.S.

Let’s get to the review… I’ll even bring out the gaiwan for the best experience possible.

20170707_121008_Richtone(HDR)

20170707_114832_Richtone(HDR)
Man Lou Xiang Dancong Wulong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark yellowish-brown color to them. The leaves are long and wiry, with a fairly tight twist. There are no bare stems, and the leaves appear to be large fragments and some unbroken leaves. There are no buds or tips visible in the mix. The leaves have undergone a fairly heavy roast, and crack easily into small fragments. The aroma has scents of roasted walnuts, cassia bark, raw cocoa, dried raisins or prunes, dry magnolia, and honey. The aroma is incredibly balanced and well rounded.

The 7 grams of dry leaves were quickly rinsed in 200°F water, then infused for 5 seconds in a ceramic gaiwan. As of publishing this review, I am on the eight infusion, and have added 5 seconds to each infusion time.

 

20170707_121944_Richtone(HDR)

20170707_120012_Richtone(HDR)
Man Lou Xiang Dancong Wulong Tea Liquid

The tea liquid has a bright, yellow-gold color. The aroma is incredible, with scents of fresh, roasted walnuts, raisins or prunes, magnolia, and honey. As the number of infusions increases, the roasty character of the aroma decreases, while the floral character increases dramatically, and a nice buttery popcorn scent begins to appear. The liquid has a medium body, and a very clean, refined feel. The taste has notes of roasted walnuts, honey, magnolia, raisins or prunes, and mineral. Again, as the number of infusions increase, the roasty flavors dissipate while the floral flavors really come forward. The aftertaste is powerfully floral, overtakes the entire mouth, and hangs on the tongue for an unbelievable amount of time. This tea really seems to cleanse the mouth and palate. It has a very clean taste, and a refreshing effect. This floral aftertaste remains strong and persistent through the experience, from the first to eighth (and probably beyond!) infusion.

20170707_142750_Richtone(HDR)
Man Lou Xiang Dancong Wulong Tea Wet Leaves

The wet leaves have a fairly uniform brownish-forest green color. Some leaves show the reddish edges, proof of the oxidation level of this wulong. The leaves also do not have serrated edges, but instead are smooth and rounded. The leaves consist of large fragments and unbroken leaves. There are no bare stems or tips in the mix. The leaves have a very soft, silky, delicate feel, keeping in mind that they have been through eight infusions. The aroma (observed from the first infusion) carries the roasted walnuts, magnolia, raisins or prunes, and honey scents. As the number of infusions increased, the roasty scents decreased, and the floral and sweeter scents gained potency.

Luckily, I still have two hours to pull a little more happiness out of these leaves before my day is over.

This Man Lou Xiang Dancong Wulong Tea seriously made my day great! I enjoyed the experience so much that I forced everyone in my office or who came into it to smell the liquid. Naturally, they were not as excited as I was, but they know my passion for tea and were not surprised. This experience was high-end, and I am glad I took the extra effort to use the gaiwan to fully bring out the best properties that this tea has offer. I have to say that the most memorable part of the experience was the long lasting aftertaste that seriously seemed to cleanse my entire mouth. It was a refreshing, exciting, and uplifting experience from the beginning to the end (which hasn’t come yet). I am beginning to remember why these teas are so expensive.

Thank you to Chaozhou Tea Grower for providing these samples of their family’s Dancong wulongs! I have five more samples to enjoy, and I look forward to giving each the proper attention due. Thank you for taking your time to read my review of the Man Lou Xiang Dancong Wulong Tea.

Top Grade Autumn 2014 Harvest TieGuanYin Oolong Tea from Xin Yuan Tea Garden

My friend DongQin in Quanzhou City, Anxi County, China was very generous in sending me fresh samples of her family’s TieGuanYin from the recent Autumn harvest at Xin Yuan Tea Garden. For those of you who have been following me for a while, the TieGuanYin from this specific garden is the only TieGuanYin that I keep stocked in my personal supply. I usually purchase a kilogram of the spring harvest and a kilogram of the autumn harvest. The summer harvest is considered the least impressive, and given the cost of shipping such small quantities, I choose to pass on purchasing the summer harvest.

I do have some of the Spring 2014 harvest still available for purchase at The Tea Journeyman Shop. Click here to check it out. It has been stored in airtight steel containers, so the quality is just as good as the day I received it. I am getting low in stock, only about 1 kilogram left, so try it out while you can. Readers of this post will get 15% off any purchase of the Spring 2014 TieGuanYin Oolong Tea. Use coupon code TGY15% at checkout.

For more information on the Xin Yuan Tea Garden, click here to go to the introductory page at The Tea Journeyman Shop.

The sample packet has been opened, and I never get tired of this scent. Let the journey begin…

Xin Yuan Autumn 2014 TieGuanYin Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
Xin Yuan Autumn 2014 TieGuanYin Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a fresh, bright green to dark forest green color. The leaves are all detached from the stems, and there are no bare stems in the mix. The leaves are mostly whole leaves, and some large fragments. The leaves are hand plucked, and rolled into oblong balls. The leaves appear to be light on the oxidation level, and I am guessing about 20%, give or take 5%. The scent is incredibly fresh and strong, with clear smells of orchid flowers, honeydew melon, unsweetened milk, and light brown sugar. The scent is simply phenomenal.

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

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 195°F (90°C). Steep the leaves for 2:30 minutes for the first infusion, 1:30 for the second, and add 15 seconds to subsequent infusions. Expect four or more quality infusions from the same serving of leaves. Also, another noteworthy quality of this TieGuanYin is that it is quite forgiving in terms of brewing parameters. Don’t worry if you allow the leaves to sit in the water for a couple of minutes longer than suggested, the taste may not be optimal, but it will still be quite pleasant.

Xin Yuan Autumn 2014 TieGuanYin Oolong Tea Infusion
Xin Yuan Autumn 2014 TieGuanYin Oolong Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a very bright, lively yellowish-jade green color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma again is amazing, with scents of butter, orchid flowers, honeydew melon, light peach, and light steamed leafy vegetable. The body is medium, with a buttery, creamy, rich, and smooth texture. The taste has notes of honeydew melon, orchid flowers, butter, light peach, light mineral (wet stone), and very light steamed leafy vegetable. There is a very mild astringency. The aftertaste is quite possibly the best part of an overall phenomenal tea. The notes of honeydew melon and orchid flowers linger on the breath for minutes after the tea is swallowed.

Xin Yuan Autumn 2014 TieGuanYin Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Xin Yuan Autumn 2014 TieGuanYin Oolong Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh dark forest green color. There is some slight red showing on a few of the leaves’ edges, as well as a few light red spots on other areas of a few of the leaves. I would still guess the oxidation level is about 20%. Many of the leaves a whole, while the remainder are large fragments. The leaves have a hearty, leathery texture, which the TieGuanYin cultivar is known for. The leaves have a fairly uniform length of about two inches (51 mm) and a width of about one inch (25 mm). All leaves are completely detached from the stem, and there are no bare stems or buds in the mix. The smell carries scents of orchid flowers, butter, honeydew melon, and steamed leafy vegetables. The smell is certainly sweeter and more floral as the leaves cool.

Here is a photo of the side by side comparison that I performed on the Spring and Autumn 2014 harvests from Xin Yuan Tea Garden. Spring is on the left, Autumn is on the right.

Spring and Autumn 2014 TieGuanYin Oolong Tea Comparison
Spring and Autumn 2014 TieGuanYin Oolong Tea Comparison

It is no secret that I am completely smitten by the TieGuanYin Oolong Teas from Xin Yuan Tea Garden. I have told my tea tasting audiences time and time again when asked if I had to choose only one tea to drink for the rest of my life, that the Autumn harvest TieGuanYin from Xin Yuan would be the easy choice. I do not have many Yixing teapots, two to be exact, but one is used specifically for this product from this tea garden. The Autumn 2014 harvest continued to impress, with the incredible orchid, butter, and honeydew scents and tastes that won my preference in 2013. The appearance of both the dry and wet leaves, and the liquor itself, tells the story of how much care and attention the Lin family puts in to their garden and products. Another harvest, and another superior TieGuanYin Oolong Tea from Xin Yuan Tea Garden!

Thanks again to DongQin Lin from Xin Yuan Tea Garden for providing these fresh and phenomenal samples! Cheers!

Ban Yan Da Hong Pao Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea from Bana Tea Company

Today’s review will focus on the Ban Yan Da Hong Pao Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea from the Bana Tea Company. I received this sample with a beautiful new porcelain gaiwan set that I purchased from Bana Tea Company.

I would first like to thank Linda at Bana Tea Company for the excellent customer service that she provided. I ordered this gaiwan set from Amazon. The set was held at and mailed from an Amazon warehouse. When I received the package, two cups, the gaiwan cup and plate were all destroyed. I emailed Bana Tea Company to request replacement pieces. Linda at Bana Tea Company responded to my email promptly, and mailed the replacement pieces the next day via Priority Mail. The replacement pieces were received very well wrapped and protected, along with some additional pu’er and oolong samples. That is exceptional customer service, and I truly appreciate it. Thanks again, Linda.

Bana Tea Company specializes in Chinese Pu’er and Oolong teas, as well as gaiwan sets and other tea tools and accessories. Check out the Bana Tea Company website by clicking here.

According to the Bana Tea Company website, this Da Hong Pao is a Ban Yan Cha, which means “semi-rock tea.” Although produced outside of the Wuyi National Scenic Park, this tea is produced in the Wuyi Mountain area, Fujian Province, China. This tea was produced from the spring harvest of 2013.

The sample packet has been opened, and a sweet woody and toasty aroma is escaping the packet. Let the journey begin…

Ban Yan Da Hong Pao Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
Ban Yan Da Hong Pao Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves are mostly black in color, with a few showing a copper-brown color. The leaves appear to be medium to large leaf fragments. There are only one or two small bare stems in the mix. The leaves are rolled. The leaves are heavily oxidized and roasted. The aroma has strong scents of sweet wood, toast, raw cocoa, and dried peach.

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

My suggestion for brewing this tea at home to obtain the best flavor is as follows: Use 3 grams (2 tsp) of dry leaves for every six ounces (180 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 195°F (90°C). Steep the leaves for 1:30 to 2:00. The leaves may be reused at least three or four times.

If you have a gaiwan, use 1 gram of dry leaves for each ounce of water that your gaiwan holds. Same water temperature as above. Give the leaves a quick rinse (5 seconds) in the gaiwan with hot water, then dispose of the rinse liquid. For the first infusion, use a short steep time of 10 to 15 seconds, adding an additional 10 seconds for subsequent infusions.

Ban Yan Da Hong Pao Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea Infusion
Ban Yan Da Hong Pao Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a dark orange-brown color with a red tint, clear and transparent. The aroma had robust scents of toasted nuts, dry wood, raw cocoa, and Autumn leaves. The body is medium-full, with a round texture. The taste has notes of toasted nuts, light raw cocoa, mineral (wet stone), light wood, and very light osmanthus. The aftertaste combines the mineral and nutty notes. The tea has a drying effect on the tongue.

At lower temperatures and shorter steep times, this tea has sweeter notes and a nice balance. The short rinse should remove the more earthy and robust characteristics.

Ban Yan Da Hong Pao Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Ban Yan Da Hong Pao Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform tar-like, dark copper-brown color. The leaves are all medium to large fragments, there are no entirely whole leaves in the mix. The are one or two bare stems. The leaves have a thin leather texture. The pluck is a single leaf. The aroma has scents of toasted nuts, earth (autumn forest floor), mineral (wet stone), and a light fruity sweetness (peach?).

I infused these leaves a number of times, and love how the taste becomes more and more dominated by the mineral (wet stone) flavor. Perhaps to some people that does not seem like a very positive description, but to me it is among the most refreshing and revitalizing taste characteristics that I can find in a tea. I would further describe this taste as that of fresh, clean spring water, with its plentiful and naturally occurring minerals.

I always enjoy a Da Hong Pao review, and this Ban Yan Da Hong Pao Wuyi Rock Oolong from Bana Tea Company certainly satisfied my periodic Da Hong Pao desire. With the toasty, woody, nutty aromas and tastes that Da Hong Pao is known for, and the developing mineral character that I love, I have no complaints about this product.

Thank you to Linda at Bana Tea Company for her excellent customer service, and for the tea samples! Cheers!

Rou Gui Wulong Tea from Xin Yuan Tea Garden

I always enjoy the extra samples that the Lin Family from Xin Yuan Tea Garden include with my seasonal orders of their phenomenal Ti Kuan Yin Wulong Tea. This season they included their Rou Gui Wulong Tea, as well as some silver tips, 13 year aged Ti Kuan Yin (amazing), and Jin Jun Mei Black Tea. For a family owned farm that consists of under five acres (about 2 hectares) of land, the Lin family produces some truly world class teas.

Today I decided to focus on the Rou Gui Wulong Tea. I have had this tea before, but did not have the environment to properly analyze it, and thus did not publish a sub-par review of it. Rou Gui Wulong, when authentic, is produced from a tea bush cultivar of the same name, Rou Gui. The Rou Gui cultivar is known for producing aromas and tastes of cinnamon, or cassia bark. Due to the higher oxidation percentage and roasting technique, Rou Gui Wulong can appear similar to a Da Hong Pao Wulong.

The sample packet has been opened, and the reputation of the aroma is proving to be accurate. Let the journey begin…

Rou Gui Wulong Tea Dry Leaves
Rou Gui Wulong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark brown to black color. Leaves range from medium to large fragments, with a considerable level of crumbs. The leaves are twisted and curled. The leaves are very dry, slightly rigid, and crumble without much effort. There are no bare stems in the mix. The leaves have an aroma of dry wood, cassia bark (or cinnamon), and molasses.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in a 9.4 ounce (280 ml) Tokoname kyusu teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 3:00 minutes.

Rou Gui Wulong Tea 1st Infusion
Rou Gui Wulong Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with dark brownish-red color, clear and transparent, with some coarse particles. The aroma has scents of cinnamon (cassia), tree bark, and a light sweetness (molasses). The body is medium, with a very smooth, silky texture. The taste has notes of cinnamon (cassia), tree bark, light molasses, and a light floral undertone. The aftertaste is sweet, and slowly converts into a floral essence on the breath.

Rou Gui Wulong Tea 2nd Infusion
Rou Gui Wulong Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a considerably lighter golden-orange color. The aroma has lightened, but retains the general scents of cinnamon (cassia), tree mark, and light molasses. The body has lightened, and the texture remains smooth, but thinner. The taste has lightened, but has a very nice balance of flavor, with a light mineral note being observed with the other notes of cinnamon (cassia), tree bark, very light molasses, and light floral. The aftertaste is not as sweet, with more of tree bark character, but the floral essence eventually kicks in.

Rou Gui Wulong Tea 3rd Infusion
Rou Gui Wulong Tea 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor with again a light shade of golden-orange color than the second infusion. The aroma has lightened slightly, and retains the same general scents. The body and texture are similar to the second infusion. The taste has lightened some, and retains a nice balance of flavors, with the mineral note gaining some prominence. Despite lighter characteristics, the third infusion has plenty of aroma and taste, and I would expect it to provide at least two to three additional infusions of acceptable quality.

Rou Gui Wulong Tea Infused Leaves
Rou Gui Wulong Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a very dark greenish brown to black color. The leaves are all medium to large fragments, with no stems in the mix. A few of the leaves are whole. The leaves have a fibrous, delicately rigid feel. The aroma has scents of wet tree bark, light cinnamon, and a very light floral hint.

The Rou Gui Wulong Tea is a unique style of wulong that certainly lives up to the reputation of having cinnamon-like aroma and taste descriptions. I found the second infusion to be my preference of the three, simply because the taste had balanced out considerably from the first infusion, and the mineral note that appeared gave the second infusion a very clean, refreshing character. Despite the similar appearance of the Rou Gui to a Da Hong Pao, the aromas and tastes are significantly different between the two wulong styles.

As always, the Xin Yuan Tea Garden has provided an interesting product that is unlike any other tea that I have had previously. You may learn more about the Xin Yuan Tea Garden at The Tea Journeyman Shop by Clicking Here. You may also view and purchase the fresh Spring 2014 Top Grade Ti Kuan Yin Wulong Tea from Xin Yuan Tea Garden by Clicking Here. Cheers!

13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Wulong Tea from Xin Yuan Tea Garden

Every time I order a personal supply of the season’s fresh Ti Kuan Yin wulong tea from Xin Yuan Tea Garden, or Lin Farm as I had previously referred to this garden, they are always kind enough to throw in a few other samples of interesting teas. I was happy to make a larger order of this year’s Spring harvest top grade Ti Kuan Yin, which is available for purchase at The Tea Journeyman Shop, and to give some well deserved revenues to the Lin family, who honestly makes the best Ti Kuan Yin that I have ever had. If you have not had the Ti Kuan Yin from Xin Yuan Tea Garden before, and there is a very high chance that you have not, then I implore you to get some. It will redefine your opinion on Ti Kuan Yin.

With this order, Dong Qin Lin, the daughter whom I communicate with, sent me a very interesting sample which is the focus of my review today. This sample is the 13 years aged Ti Kuan Yin. One of the first teas I ever reviewed from the Lin Farm (Xin Yuan) was an aged Ti Kuan Yin, but it did not look anything like this sample. This sample is darker in color, with less stems, and seems to be a much higher quality.

To learn more about the Xin Yuan Tea Garden, Click Here to see their profile on The Tea Journeyman Shop website. Let the journey begin…

13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves are dark brown to black in color, possibly from periodic roasting during the aging process. Appears to be mostly large leaf fragments, and possibly some whole leaves, some with stems intact. The leaves are in the semi-ball shape. The aroma has scents of dried raisins or prunes, molasses, and aged wood (oak?).

Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in an 18 ounce (530 ml) cast-iron tetsubin teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 205°F (95°C). The leaves were infused for two minutes.

13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea 1st Infusion
13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a golden-orange color and slight red tint, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of wood resin or sap, prunes, and light molasses. The scent is very unique, and almost difficult to read, all in a good way. The body is medium, with a very smooth, silky, clean texture. The taste has notes of sweet wood sap, prunes or raisins, wet stones, and a slight touch of ripe blood orange.The aftertaste is lightly sweet. Again, like the aroma, the taste is somewhat difficult to read, and almost took me to the bottom of the pot to begin defining what I tasted. I was impressed that there was no unpleasant tastes that can often occur in the first infusion of aged teas. This first infusion tasted very clean, despite not being rinsed.

13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea 2nd Infusion
13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a slightly darker golden orange with red tint color. The aroma lost absolutely no strength or character from the first infusion, and may have even strengthened by a slight amount. The body and texture remain medium, smooth, and clean. The taste seems to be slightly fuller, but retains the same general taste notes of sweet wood sap, raisins or prunes, wet stones, and blood orange. The second infusion was slightly better than the first, and I expect the aroma and taste to persist until the end of my work day forces me to prematurely dispose of them.

13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea 3rd Infusion
13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor with a golden-orange color similar to the first infusion, and perhaps a touch lighter in color. The aroma has lightened some, but has plenty of potency. The body and texture are the same. The taste has lightened some, but retains the majority of the taste notes, with the blood orange diminishing some. I still believe these leaves could give at least three or four more worthy infusions. Unfortunately, the end of my work day has arrived, and I have to cut the review off at three. Thankfully, I have another eight gram sample of this same tea, and I know to set an entire day aside to enjoy it.

13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fresh tar black color. The leaves are still quite tightly rolled, and unrolling them reveals a fibrous, almost stringy structure of the aged leaves. The texture reminds me of a loosely knit dry burlap sack, lacking any softness. The leaves that I am able to unroll without completely destroying do appear to be large fragments and whole leaves. A few of the stems display a two leaf and small bud pluck. The aroma has scents of sweet wood sap and molasses. This was among the most interesting set of tea leaves that I have inspected.

13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea Infused Leaf
13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea Infused Leaf

I realize the quality of the above photo is not great, but it is good enough to show the fibrous character of the infused leaf. This is what happened to every leaf that I tried to unroll.

This 13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Wulong Tea from Xin Yuan Tea Garden was a fascinating review subject from start to finish. The aroma and taste were so unique that they were difficult to identify, and my descriptions may not be the most accurate. Regardless, both the aroma and taste were amazing, and the texture of the liquor was remarkably clean, especially for an aged tea. As if the organoleptic experience of the tea was not enough, it was very interesting to inspect the infused leaves. If every tea review I conducted was as interesting as this one was, then I would never get my normal work done at my office.

A heart-felt thank you to Dong Qin Lin and Xin Yuan Tea Garden for providing this fascinating sample. I am so glad they included two samples of it, because I will be ready to get every last infusion out of the second sample. Cheers!

Finally, if you have not already done so, please do me a personal favor and check out my new webstore which I just launched on May 27th. I am adding new products on an almost daily basis, and there are some really interesting teas on this site, as well as five to ten more coming in the next couple of weeks. Please check it out, and share it with your tea loving friends and family. I truly appreciate your help in getting my business name out, and I think tea lovers will appreciate the high quality and low price of the teas in my shop. Thanks again!

Tigre Blanc Oolong Tea from Nina’s Paris

The friendly people from Nina’s Paris Tea Store U.S. team were kind enough to send me three samples of their flavored tea blends. Although I certainly have a preference for unflavored and unblended teas, I do admit that the three blends that I chose had rather attractive descriptions on Nina’s Paris website, available here. In addition to tea, Nina’s Paris also produces high quality fruit jams, and other gourmet foods.

The history of Nina’s Paris dates back to France in 1672, when it created fragrances under the original name “La Distillerie Freres.” The creator, Mr. Pierre Diaz, even supplied fragrances to the Court of Versailles, King Louis XIV, and Marie Antoinette. Today, this artistry for creating intoxicating aromas is applied to their loose leaf tea products. Among the three samples I chose were the Tigre Blanc Oolong, the Nina’s Japon green tea, and the Grand Amour black tea. I am most interested in the Tigre Blanc Oolong, which is flavored with 100% pure natural peach essential oils.

The sample pack is opened, and the tea leaves look similar to a Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe) oolong, which should be a nice balance with the sweet peach flavoring. Let the journey begin…

Tigre Blanc Oolong Dry Leaves
Tigre Blanc Oolong Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a light to dark brown color. The leaves are small to medium size fragments. They are rolled, and are higher on the oxidation scale. The leaves appear to be a smaller grade of Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe) or similarly processed Chinese oolong. There are also orange blossom petals mixed in, and a few small stem twigs. The aroma has a strong scent of fresh, ripe peaches, with lighter floral and citrus scents. There is also a slightly roasted, earthy scent from the oolong tea leaves.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a 5 ounce (150 ml) ceramic tasting infusion cup. Purified spring water was heated to 195°F (90°C). The leaves were infused for three minutes.

Tigre Blanc Oolong 1st Infusion
Tigre Blanc Oolong 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a dark orange color with a red tint, clear and transparent. The aroma had a strong scent of ripe peaches, slight citrus and floral scents, and a mineral, earthy scent. The body was medium, with a mouth filling, smooth feel. The taste had strong notes of ripe peaches, and an earthy (mineral), lightly floral taste consistent with a Da Hong Pao style of oolong tea. There was a mild astringency. The aftertaste had a dominant peach character.

Tigre Blanc Oolong 2nd Infusion
Tigre Blanc Oolong 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a significantly lighter bright golden-orange color. The aroma remains dominantly peachy. The body has lightened some, but remains medium. The taste has lightened some on the peach, and the natural taste of the oolong tea is more noticeable. The mineral taste and effect have strengthened. Although significantly lighter, this is still a very good tasting infusion.

Tigre Blanc Oolong 3rd Infusion
Tigre Blanc Oolong 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor with a golden-yellow color, lighter than the second infusion. The aroma maintains the peachy character. The aroma, body, and taste have lightened significantly. The taste remains peachy with an earthy, mineral note.

Tigre Blanc Oolong Infused Leaves
Tigre Blanc Oolong Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fairly uniform brown to dark brown color. All leaves are small to medium sized fragments. The aroma is mostly peachy, with a touch of earth and mineral.

I thought the natural earthy and mineral flavors of the oolong tea provided a very nice balance to the sweet peach flavoring oil. The smaller grade of tea leaf caused the second and third infusions to lose significant amounts of character from infusion to infusion. However, the all three infusions had an acceptable flavor. Now that I think about it, I have not had a flavored tea like this in quite a while. I certainly enjoyed the detour from the unflavored tea path. Thank you to Nina’s Paris for providing these samples. I look forward to trying the other samples. Cheers!

 

Ti Kuan Yin A++ Autumn Wulong Tea from Lin Farm

This is a review that I have been wanting to finish for a few months now. A few months back, I reviewed the Ti Kuan Yin A+ Wulong Tea from the summer harvest at Lin Farm in Anxi county, Fujian Province, China. As I had mentioned in that post, I do not always enjoy the Ti Kuan Yins that I receive in sample sets, thus not many get reviewed on my website. The Lin Farm summer harvest was the best Ti Kuan Yin that I had ever tasted up to that point. When I found out that the Autumn harvest produced the best Ti Kuan Yin from Anxi county, I was quick to let the Lin’s know that I wanted to make an order. I purchased the best grade of leaf, and waited with much excitement for the package to arrive.

The package arrived, and I quickly opened it, as I had an airtight canister prepared for this teas arrival. The freshness of the aroma was unimaginable. The color of the leaves was such a bright, lively green that I had never seen before. Upon brewing this tea for the first time, I had found an instant favorite. Thankfully I bought 500 grams, so I would be set for a few months. Since the day that I received that package, this tea has been the one that I brew for guests and special occasions in my house. In my opinion, this is the best quality tea that I have in my personal collection.

But now, it is time to give this tea the review that it deserves. Let the journey begin…

Ti Kuan Yin A++ Autumn Dry Leaves
Ti Kuan Yin A++ Autumn Dry Leaves

The dry leaves either have a bright, lively green color or a dark green color. The leaves are rolled, but not quite semi-ball shape, and have a fairly uniform size. There are absolutely no stems present. The leaves appear unbroken. The aroma is incredibly fresh and floral (orchid), with a light brown sugar scent.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an 8.5 ounce (240 ml) kyusu teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 190°F (90°C). The leaves were infused for one minute thirty seconds on the first infusion, one minute on the second, and one minute fifteen seconds on the third.

Ti Kuan Yin A++ Autumn 1st Infusion
Ti Kuan Yin A++ Autumn 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a light, clean jade green color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma is delicate and floral (orchid), with slight scents of light brown sugar and apple. The body is delicate medium, with a buttery feel. The taste is dominantly floral (orchid), with very light notes of apple and light honey. The aftertaste is amazingly fresh and flowery, with a very noteworthy persistence. In addition to the common sensual characteristics of this tea, there is a noticeable energy to it, as well. This tea has an immediate relaxing and uplifting effect. The quality of the leaves and the care taken by the growers can be felt as easily as tasted.

Ti Kuan Yin A++ Autumn 2nd Infusion
Ti Kuan Yin A++ Autumn 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a slightly deeper shade of jade green color. The aroma and taste remain dominantly fresh and floral. The taste has strengthened some over the first infusion, but the same general notes are present. The second infusion is overall better than the first.

Ti Kuan Yin A++ Autumn 3rd Infusion
Ti Kuan Yin A++ Autumn 3rd Infusion

The third infusion is nearly identical to the second infusion in all respects. The color, the strength of the aroma and taste, the body and feel are all nearly identical from the second infusion to the third. Every single sip is phenomenal.

Although I do not have photos of the additional infusions, I did brew these leaves four more times. The aroma and taste of the seventh infusion is still better than most other Ti Kuan Yin products that I have had.

Ti Kuan Yin A++ Autumn Infused Leaves
Ti Kuan Yin A++ Autumn Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a perfectly uniform fresh forest green color. All leaves are unbroken, with a small number having slight tears from processing. The size of the leaves is also fairly uniform. After three infusions, these leaves have a wet leathery feel, and it is obvious that they have much flavor left to offer. There are no stems at all. The aroma is fresh, sweet, and floral, almost reminding me of apple blossoms. The appearance and aroma of the infused leaves is as appetizing as the liquor itself.

Honestly, I do not know if I can even put into words the level of enjoyment that I get out of this Ti Kuan Yin A++ Autumn Harvest Wulong tea from Lin Farm. I will say with 99.9% certainty that if I had to choose one tea from my collection to take with me on a vacation, voyage, or into the afterlife, this tea would be my choice. It looks beautiful, smells beautiful, tastes beautiful, feels beautiful … you get the idea. If you will take one conclusion from this review, it is this: I love this tea.

Thanks and praises to the Lin Family, and many thanks to Linda Lin for reaching out to me last year. I hope your family and their teas gain the recognition that I feel they deserve. Happy Chinese New Year to the Lin’s, and to all who celebrate it! Cheers for the Year of the Wood Horse.