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!

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Nepal Monsoon Flush 2014 Pearl Oolong Tea from What-Cha and Greenland Organic Farm

Today’s review will focus on the Nepal Monsoon Flush 2014 Pearl Oolong Tea from What-Cha, and sourced from the Greenland Organic Farm in Taplejung, eastern Nepal. To view this tea on the What-Cha website, please click here. Below is a Google map showing the location of Taplejung District.

The monsoon flush was harvested in August of 2014, and only six kilograms of this type of tea were produced by the Greenland Organic Farm. As you will see from the photo of the dry leaves, or pearls, below, Greenland Organic Farm is certainly paying attention to the appearance of the dry product, and are giving their teas a more “artisanal” visual quality. Pros and cons of focusing on appearance and perhaps forfeiting some quality in the cup aside, these innovative new styles of Nepalese teas do make for interesting reviews.

The sample packet has been opened, and these pearls are much bigger than I expected. Let the journey begin…

Nepal Monsoon Flush 2014 Pearl Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
Nepal Monsoon Flush 2014 Pearl Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves range in color from bright fresh green to yellowish-brown to dark brown, with a generous portion of mature buds covered in silver downy-like hairs. I expect the pluck to be at least two leaves and a bud, and I expect the pearls to consist of two or three pluckings rolled together. The leaves appear to be whole and unbroken, with perhaps a few large fragments in the mix. The size of the pearls range from that of a pea to a large blueberry. The leaves are very mildly compressed in the pearls, nothing like a semi-ball oolong, giving them a lighter density than one may expect. The appearance is similar to that of a Chinese pearl green tea, but these pearls are larger. The smell has scents of hay, light dried grape, valley flowers, and a touch of vanilla.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a 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 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 to 3:00 minutes. Expect three to four worthy infusions out of the same serving of leaves, increasing the infusion time by 15 to 30 seconds per infusion.

Nepal Monsoon Flush 2014 Pearl Oolong Tea Liquor
Nepal Monsoon Flush 2014 Pearl Oolong Tea Liquor

The first infusion produced a liquor with a golden-yellow color with a light copper tint, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of hay, nectarine, valley flowers, and vanilla. The body is medium, with a crisp, lively texture that becomes increasingly smooth as the liquor cools. There is a very mild, almost undetectable, astringency. The taste has notes of nectarine, hay, valley flowers, and vanilla. The aftertaste carries the sweet hay and valley flower notes, and the sweet hay essence lingers on the breath.

Nepal Monsoon Flush 2014 Pearl Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Nepal Monsoon Flush 2014 Pearl Oolong Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a greenish-brown to copper color. The vast majority of the leaves are whole, unbroken, and attached to the stem, and very few large fragments are in the mix. The plucks range from three leaves and a mature bud to a single leaf and bud. This is the first time I have seen a three leaf and bud pluck from a Nepalese tea. The leaves have a soft, smooth, wet leather feel. Some of the more mature leaves measure between 1.5 and 2.0 inches (38 to 51 mm) in length. These leaves have been the most interesting to observe of any Nepalese teas that I have experienced so far. The smell has scents of grapes, nectarines, and valley flowers. The smell is quite attractive.

Nepal Monsoon Flush 2014 Pearl Oolong Tea Infused Leaves Closeup
Nepal Monsoon Flush 2014 Pearl Oolong Tea Infused Leaves Closeup

The Nepal Monsoon Flush 2014 Pearl Oolong Tea from What-Cha and Greenland Organic Farm has many interesting qualities to observe in the dry and infused leaves. This product is definitely unique in its pluck and rolling methods compared to other Nepalese teas that I have experienced. The liquor itself is a pleasure, with a sweet and floral aroma and taste, and a crisp, refreshing energy. The Nepal Monsoon Flush 2014 Pearl Oolong Tea has much to offer, whether you enjoy the entire experience of analyzing tea, or just enjoy a pleasant smelling and tasting hot beverage.

Thank you to the management of What-Cha for providing this sample of Nepal Monsoon Flush 2014 Pearl Oolong Tea, and thank you to the management at Greenland Organic Farm for taking the time and risk to produce something out of the ordinary. Cheers!

 

Nepal First Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea from What-Cha

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 185°F (85°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 175°F (80°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 to 4:00 minutes. Expect at least three quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves, with minimal loss of character between the first, second, and third infusions. Add 30 seconds to each subsequent infusion steep time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mist Valley Nepal 2nd Flush 2014 Oolong Tea from Surajmukhi Tea

Nothing excites me more than to receive a package of samples from a region that I am relatively inexperienced with. Although I have tried a number of products from the Kanchanjangha Tea Estate in Nepal, one of which is offered at The Tea Journeyman Shop, that is the only Nepalese tea estate who’s products I have had the pleasure of reviewing. That fact ends now. The most recent package of samples from the Surajmukhi Tea Company consists of products from five factories in Nepal. Today’s review will focus on the 2nd Flush 2014 Oolong Tea from the Mist Valley Tea Factory.

Mist Valley Tea Factory is located in Jitpur, Ilam District, in eastern Nepal. Jitpur is well known for being misty and foggy, thus it is nicknamed Mist Valley. Although Mist Valley Tea does operate its own garden, also known as Mist Valley, the Mist Valley Tea Factory also uses raw tea leaves from other areas of Ilam, including Sangrumba, Mangalbare, Jitpur, and Siddithumka. The tea estates in this region range in altitude from 1,300 to 1,700 meters (4,265 to 5,580 feet) above sea level, and all are located in the hills. Mist Valley Tea Factory produces only orthodox styles of tea, and is in the process of obtaining organic status. Mist Valley Tea has been growing tea since 1989, and processing raw leaves into consumable tea products since 2004.

The sample packet has been opened, and an incredible aroma has me excited to get this review underway. Let the journey begin…

Mist Valley Nepal 2nd Flush 2014 Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
Mist Valley Nepal 2nd Flush 2014 Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves appear similar in some ways to Darjeeling second flush teas, with colors ranging from light brown to copper red to black. There is a generous portion of nicely developed silver tips in the mix. The leaf fragments are larger than those found in most Darjeeling teas, and mostly consist of medium to large fragments, with some appearing to be whole. There are few bare stems in the mix. The pluck appears to mostly be two leaf and bud pluck, but some have a single leaf and bud pluck. The leaves are neatly rolled, and I would not be surprised to learn that this is a hand-rolled tea. The leaves are light in weight, fairly fluffy, and crack easily but do not crumble. The silver tips are covered in downy-like white hairs, and have a smooth texture. The aroma is incredible, with rich scents of dried cherries, clove, natural bee honey, roses, and raw cacao. The appearance and aroma are very impressive, and quite inviting.

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 brewing 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° to 205°F (90°C to 96°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 minutes. At least two quality infusions can be expected from the same serving of leaves. Expect the second and any subsequent infusions to be noticeably lighter than the preceding infusion.

Mist Valley Nepal 2nd Flush 2014 Oolong Tea Infusion
Mist Valley Nepal 2nd Flush 2014 Oolong Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a dark honey, golden orange color, clear and transparent. The aroma had scents of roses, clove, and raw cacao. The body is medium-full, with a rounded texture. The taste had notes of roses, clove, raw cacao, and light sweet potato or yam. The aftertaste is sweet and floral, and a rich flowery essence is left on the breath.

Mist Valley Nepal 2nd Flush 2014 Oolong Tea Infused Leaves Full Image
Mist Valley Nepal 2nd Flush 2014 Oolong Tea Infused Leaves Full Image

The infused leaves vary in color from greenish-brown to copper or reddish-brown. The leaves are mostly large fragments, and there are more whole leaves than originally expected. The largest whole leaf was exactly three inches (76 mm) long and exactly one inch (25 mm) wide. There is a respectable portion of tips in the mix. The pluck is mostly two leaves and a bud, with some having a single leaf and bud. The aroma has scents of dark red cherry, light clove, and roses. The aroma is very sweet and pleasant.

Mist Valley Nepal 2nd Flush 2014 Oolong Tea Infused Leaves Close Image
Mist Valley Nepal 2nd Flush 2014 Oolong Tea Infused Leaves Close Image

Nepalese teas are gaining much respect in the specialty tea industry, and there is little wonder as to why. This Mist Valley 2nd Flush 2014 Oolong Tea is a perfect testament to the reasons. The fresh, rich aroma and high quality appearance of the dry leaf are remarkable. The aroma and taste of the infusion are similar to higher quality Darjeeling teas, yet it has more of cherry character than a grape character, and the clove scent and taste provided a very nice balance. Even the aroma and the infused leaves are impressive, and in my opinion more interesting to observe than most Darjeeling teas. I am very interested to see how the other 2nd flush varieties of tea from Mist Valley compare to this oolong.

Thank you very much to Ankit Lochan at Surajmukhi Tea for providing this sample. And thank you to the management and all the laborers at Mist Valley Tea for their efforts in producing high quality products. Cheers!

Oolong Tea from Mount Kanchenjunga in Nepal

This evening’s review will focus on the Oolong Tea from Mount Kanchenjunga, which is located on the eastern border of Nepal. These teas from Mount Kanchenjunga seem to have some similarities to one another, regardless of the processing of the leaves and the type of tea that is the end result. All of the teas have a dominant floral rose aroma and taste. Most of the teas also have a light cherry note in the taste, some have sweeter cherry, and others have tart cherry. I expect these characteristics to hold true in this Oolong tea. However, the next product from Mount Kanchenjunga to be reviewed is the premium Mao Feng green tea. I will be interested to see how that compares to the black, white, and oolong varieties that I have reviewed thus far.

The sample packet has been opened, and a very fresh, fragrant rose scent is expanding into my office. Let the journey begin…

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Mount Kanchenjunga Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from reddish-orange to reddish-brown to dark brown to purple-black, with some silver tips in the mix. The silver tips are covered in fine silver hairs. The leaves appear to be medium to large fragments, with a possibility of some being whole. The leaf fragments are rolled, and the longer leaves, which I believe are whole, appear to be twisted. There are no bare stems in the mix. The aroma is dominantly floral (roses), and a scent of cherry jam. The dry leaves, both in appearance and aroma, are very attractive.

Nine grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 ml) cast-iron teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 195ºF (90ºC). The leaves were infused for two minutes.

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Mount Kanchenjunga Oolong Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright golden-orange color, clear and transparent. The aroma is very potent, and dominantly floral (roses), with a cherry jam scent being obvious as I pull away from the cup. The body is medium, with a crisp, fresh texture. The taste is also dominantly floral (roses), with lighter notes of tart cherries, and a very light mineral (wet stones) hint. The aftertaste is floral (roses), with a pleasing floral essence being left on the breath.

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Mount Kanchenjunga Oolong Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a very similar shade of golden-orange color. The aroma remains floral (roses), and lighter on the cherries. The body remains medium. The taste has lightened some, and remains dominant with floral (roses) notes, an even lighter tart cherry note, and consistent mineral (wet stones) hint. The aftertaste remains floral (roses), with a pleasing floral essence. Although somewhat lighter in character, this second infusion maintained more strength than I expected. My expectation for the third infusion is a significantly lighter overall character.

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Mount Kanchenjunga Oolong Tea 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor with a lighter shade of golden-orange color than the second infusion. The aroma has lightened significantly, but remains dominantly floral (roses). The body has lightened. The taste has lightened, with the floral (roses) note still providing much of the taste. The tart cherry taste is nearly exhausted, and the mineral (wet stones) taste remains consistent. The aftertaste and essence are also lighter.

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Mount Kanchenjunga Oolong Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves vary in color from greenish-brown to copper-brown. Most of the leaves are medium to large fragments, but there are a respectable amount of whole leaves in the mix. There are no bare stems whatsoever. The pluck appears to be two leaf and bud. There are some moderately mature tips in the mix, averaging 0.5″ inches (13 mm) in length. The whole leaves average length is about one inch (25.4 mm). The aroma is floral (roses), and what seems to be a light black licorice hint.

Compared to some of the Darjeeling oolong teas that I have tried, this tea seems to be more forgiving in the taste. I have served one specific Darjeeling oolong to about ten people who all told me that they tasted squash or sweet potato, and they did not seem to mean that in a good way, despite their attempts to make it sound like it did not bother them. Although I do not taste squash or sweet potato myself, I certainly take everyones’ opinions into consideration, especially when the opinions all seem to match one another. Three of those people I had try this Oolong Tea from Mount Kanchenjunga. The result, no squash or sweet potato descriptions, just flowers. I prepared both teas under the exact same measurements of leaf, water temperature, and time.

This is a very enjoyable Oolong, fashioned in the Darjeeling oolong tradition. The aroma and taste maintained the dominant rose and cherry characters, similar to the products from Mount Kanchenjunga reviewed previously. The fresh appearance and full aroma of the dry leaves was very impressive. I can honestly say that this is one of my preferred products of this type from the Nepal and Darjeeling areas.

Thank you to Deepak at Niru Trading for providing this sample to me. Cheers!