Alishan Jinxuan Oolong Tea From Taiwan M’s Tea

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

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

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

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

Let’s get to the review…

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Alishan Jinxuan Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

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

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

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Alishan Jinxuan Oolong Tea – Liquid

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

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Alishan Jinxuan Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

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

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

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

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Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea From Taiwan M’s Tea

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

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

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

Let’s get to the review…

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Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

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

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

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Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea – Liquid

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

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

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Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

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

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

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

Zhu Lu Alishan High Mountain Oolong Tea from Fong Mong Tea

I received a package yesterday that had sparked my excitement from the moment I was informed that it was on the way. The package contained sixteen different types of oolong, black, green, and white teas from Taiwan, and even a porcelain tasting cup (photo below). So let me start this post by extending a warm thank you to the generous people at Fong Mong Tea.

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Porcelain Tasting Cup from Fong Mong Tea

Zhu Lu tea was initially introduced in the 1980’s in Taiwan. Since that time, it has earned a reputation as a local favorite in Taiwan, despite the lack of recognition abroad. The name Zhu Lu translates in to English as “Red Jade”. This tea, of Qingxing cultivar, is grown in the area of the Ali Mountains (Alishan), Chiayi County, in an average altitude between 3,300 and 4,000 feet (1,000 to 1,350 meters) above sea level. Below is map showing the area of Alishan.

You can purchase 150 grams of the Zhu Lu Alishan High Mountain Oolong Tea from Fong Mong Tea for USD $30.99. This price includes shipping fees.

Let’s get to the review…

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Zhu Lu Alishan High Mountain Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have shades of pale light green to dark charcoal-grey green in color. The leaves indicate a low-medium (about 20% to 25%) level of oxidation and a very light roast, if any at all. The leaves appear to have the classic Taiwanese oolong pluck of three leaves and a bud, and are tightly rolled into dense, compact balls. As is common in Taiwanese oolongs, many of the leaves are still attached to long, fairly thick stems. I expect to see the majority of leaves unbroken, with a few large fragments in the mix. The aroma has scents of brown sugar, sweet cream, honey, and a slight touch of dried peach.

The dry leaves were placed in a porcelain gaiwan and infused in 190°F water for 1:30 minutes. 15 seconds were added to the steep time for each subsequent infusion.

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Zhu Lu Alishan High Mountain Oolong Tea – Liquid

The tea liquid has a bright, light yellow color. The aroma has scents of sweet cream, honey, peach, and magnolia. The body is medium, with a clean, velvety, comforting texture. There is no astringency or briskness to this tea, just a pleasant sweet and floral character. The taste has notes of sweet cream, honey, peach, magnolia, and a touch of cooked spinach. The aftertaste is refreshingly floral, with a touch of peach sweetness, and lingers on the breath.

As of now, I am on the seventh infusion, and the leaves are still giving a very nice aroma and taste. I expect to get about ten quality infusions from this sample.

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Zhu Lu Alishan High Mountain Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a dark forest green color, with reddish-brown spots on some of the leaves and their edges. The pluck is three leaves, and some have a nicely developed bud at the end. There are no bare stems, but plenty of long, thick stems with unbroken leaves attached. The leaves are long, and neither notably broad or narrow in width. They have a smooth, soft leathery feel. The aroma carries the scents of sweet cream, peach, and magnolia. As the leaves cool, the floral scents begin to overtake the sweet scents.

The Zhu Lu Alishan High Mountain Oolong Tea is a pleasant, standard, everyday quality Taiwanese oolong. It has the classic floral and sweet characters in the aroma and taste that Taiwanese oolongs are known for, without the more complex character, higher quality fragrance, and more potent aftertaste that the superior quality (and higher priced) Taiwanese oolongs boast. This sample proved to be a nice refresher course on what to expect from the better products that were included in the box from Fong Mong Tea. The number of quality infusions from this tea were very respectable. Again, the best way to describe this tea is a perfect everyday drinking oolong from one of the most renowned oolong tea producing regions on Earth. You will not break the bank drinking this on a regular basis, and will get enough of that Taiwanese oolong character to keep you satisfied.

Many thanks to Fong Mong Tea for their generosity in sending this sample of Zhu Lu Alishan High Mountain Oolong Tea. I look forward to experiencing the other samples in the box. Cheers!

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…

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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…

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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.

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Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong Tea – 1st Infusion Liquid
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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.

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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!

Hwang Cha Gold 2016 Oolong Tea from Hankook Tea and Honam Tea Estate

If you have not yet had an opportunity to taste South Korean teas, I highly recommend that you do so as soon as possible. Whether your preference for green teas lies in the Chinese styles or Japanese styles, the South Korean green teas fit somewhere in between its two neighboring styles. It may just be the perfect bridge between the Chinese and Japanese styles, offering both a touch of the savory, umami-like character of Japanese teas, with a nutty, buttery taste of Chinese teas. The South Korean green teas have something to offer for all palates. Check out Hankook Tea for their fresh 2017 harvests of green teas, including the Ujeon Gamro and Gamnong Jaksul. They also offer an excellent powdered green tea, which they call “Malcha”, made from their Gamnong Jaksul.

Today’s review has nothing to do with South Korean green teas, however. Today is focusing on a partially oxidized, South Korean oolong tea from Hankook Tea, the Hwang Cha Gold from the Honam Tea Estate’s April 2016 Sejak (1st Flush) harvest. The 2017 product is not yet available.

UPDATE: Hankook Tea was quick to provide in the comments below additional information on the processing of this tea. They said:

“The oxidation level is between 60-70%, so it is definitely closer to a black tea. The processing is a bit different than an oolong in that the leaves aren’t dried on open racks, but rather inside a large linen cloth. The humidity and heat inside the cloth causes a natural oxidation in the leaves.”

Thank you to Hankook Tea for the additional information, and for the quick response. I always enjoy learning the specific processing details of the teas that I review. The above description certainly adds another unique detail to this tea.

You can purchase a canister with 80 grams of the Hwang Cha Gold from Hankook Tea for USD $39.99 plus shipping.

Let’s get to the review…

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Hwang Cha Gold 2016 Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark chocolate brown color. The leaves consist of medium to large size fragments, with a few bare stems in the mix, and no obvious tips or buds. The leaves are hand picked, and machine rolled. They break easily into small crumbs. The aroma has scents of dark chocolate, lightly charred wood, dried fruit (raisins), and a touch of licorice.

Dry leaves were placed in a cast-iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 190°F water for 3:00 minutes.

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Hwang Cha Gold 2016 Oolong Tea – Liquid

The liquid has an amber color. The aroma has scents of dry wood, dark chocolate, light apple, a touch of spice, and a general roasty character. The body is on the heavier side of medium, with a smooth, clean texture, and gives a peppery sensation on the sides of the tongue. The taste has notes of dark chocolate, dry wood (most similar to pine), fresh ground black pepper, a touch of granny smith green apple, and an acidity similar to lemon. The aftertaste carries a sweet, chocolaty character.

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Hwang Cha Gold 2016 Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform color of dark brown. The leaves consist of mostly medium and a few larger fragments. There are a few bare stems, and no obvious buds or tips in the mix. The leaves are delicate, soft, and easy to tear, as first flush leaves usually are. The oxidation level is quite high, giving the leaves a color and appearance similar to most black teas. The aroma has scents of dark chocolate, wood, a touch of apple, and a general roasty character.

The most unique characteristic of the Hwang Cha Gold 2016 Oolong Tea was the peppery sensation that hit the tongue, which was followed by a lemon-like acidity. The dominant dark chocolate scent of the dry leaves is very attractive. The fruity aspect of this tea took a while to identify as green apple, as it was quite subtle. Overall, this tea has a very unique set of characteristics, and is certainly different than any other oolongs I have had. It had many similarities to a lighter black tea, and yet had the sweetness of an oolong. I would be interested to know what the oxidation percentage is on this tea. If anyone from Hankook Tea happens to read this post, perhaps you can use the comment section to inform us of the oxidation level.

Another thank you to Hankook Tea for providing this sample of Hwang Cha Gold 2016 Oolong Tea! I am looking forward to reviewing the Gamnong Jaksul Green Tea in the next week. 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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

Organic Miyazaki Kuchinashi Oolong Tea from Yuuki-Cha

Today’s review will focus on the Organic Miyazaki Kuchinashi Oolong Tea from Yuuki-Cha. You may view this product on the Yuuki-Cha website by clicking here.

This Kuchinashi Oolong comes from the same JAS certified organic tea farm as the Koubi Shiage Oolong that I reviewed yesterday. There are some distinct differences between the two oolongs. First, the leaves used for the Kuchinashi Oolong are harvested from Takachiho and Minami Sayaka cultivar tea bushes, rather than all Minami Sayaka (100%) like the Koubi Shiage oolong. Second, the Kuchinashi Oolong is oxidized and pan-fired (kamairi) to a lower degree than the Koubi Shiage. The leaves were harvested in June of 2014.

Kuchinashi is Japanese for “gardenia-like”, and this tea is known for the remarkable resemblance in smell and taste to gardenia flowers. The artwork on the packaging is quite interesting also, so I posted a photo below.

Organic Miyazaki Kuchinashi Oolong Tea Package
Organic Miyazaki Kuchinashi Oolong Tea Package

The sample packet has been opened, and the Kuchinashi description is quite accurate. Let the journey begin…

Organic Miyazaki Kuchinashi Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
Organic Miyazaki Kuchinashi Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a fairly uniform dull forest green leaves, with some reddish-brown spots. The leaves appear to be large fragments and whole leaves, with a few bare stems in the mix. The pluck ranges from individual leaves to what appears to be a one leaf and bud pluck. The leaves are curled, and very lightly rolled. The leaves are quite dry, light, and fluffy. Some of the leaves display heavier oxidation, but the majority are on the lower end of the oxidation scale. The dull color effect is evidence of the pan-firing. The smell has incredible scents of gardenia, fresh forest floor, brown sugar, light hay, and a touch of dry plum or prune.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (95°C). The leaves were infused for 3:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 195°F (90°C). Steep the leaves for 2:00 minutes. Expect four quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves, decreasing the steep time by 30 seconds on the second infusion, then increasing by 30 seconds on each subsequent infusion.

Organic Miyazaki Kuchinashi Oolong Tea Liquor
Organic Miyazaki Kuchinashi Oolong Tea Liquor

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright, full golden-yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of gardenia, hyacinth, butter, and plum. The body is light-medium, with a velvety smooth texture, and an uplifting, revitalizing energy. There is no astringency whatsoever, and no signs of over-firing. The taste has notes of gardenia, hyacinth, honeysuckle, butter, light plum, and very light mineral (salt). The aftertaste is phenomenal, as the floral notes of gardenia, hyacinth, and honeysuckle dominate the tongue, and leave a lingering essence on the breath that is nothing short of unforgettable.

Organic Miyazaki Kuchinashi Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Organic Miyazaki Kuchinashi Oolong Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fairly uniform color of dark forest green. Many of the leaves have slightly reddish edges, while other leaves have undergone more oxidation, thus having the reddish hints extending further into the leaf. The leaves are all large fragments, with a nice amount of unbroken leaves. The pluck ranges from individual leaves to one leaf bud. There were about four buds in the three gram sample used for this review, and that to me was amazing since I have never seen whole, unbroken buds in a Japanese tea. The largest whole leaf measured about 1.75 inches (38 mm). There is definitely a noticeable difference between the leaves of the two different cultivars used to make this product, as one type of leaf is much broader, and the other is more long and narrow. The leaves have a smooth, soft, conditioned leather texture. The smell carries the scents, although softer, of gardenia, honeysuckle, and plum.

I challenge the high grade TieGuanYin oolong lovers reading this to purchase a packet of this Organic Miyazaki Kuchinashi Oolong Tea and compare the incredible quality of the floral character to the best TieGuanYin products that you can find. This tea is truly phenomenal. The floral character is so dominant that I would venture to say that this would be overwhelming to those who do not like floral teas. For those who like floral, sweet, aromatic teas, this product belongs on your top shelf of teas. I keep asking myself why Japanese oolong teas are not more widely known and popular, because this product could have a very strong following if it were more widely available. The descriptions above do not give due justice to the beauty of this tea. Add this to my list of products at Yuuki-Cha that I will be reordering the moment that the 2015 version is available.

Thanks to Yuuki-Cha for not only sourcing these incredible, high quality, hard to find Japanese teas, but being able to ship them all over the world without having to charge ridiculously high shipping charges. If you have not done so yet, go to Yuuki-Cha right now and begin exploring some truly incredible organic Japanese teas. Cheers!

Organic Miyazaki Koubi Shiage Oolong Tea From Yuuki-Cha

Today’s review will focus on the Organic Miyazaki Koubi Shiage Oolong Tea from Yuuki-Cha. You may view this product at the Yuuki-Cha website by clicking here.

Japan is not yet known for the oolong styles of tea produced there, but that may change in the coming years. I ordered two organic oolong teas from Yuuki-Cha, one on the lighter side of oxidation and roasting, and the other on the heavier side of oxidation and roasting. This Koubi Shiage Oolong tea is the latter, having gone through a more intense oxidation and pan-firing stage. Similar to the popular kamairicha (pan-fired) green teas of Japan, this Koubi Shiage Oolong is also pan-fired. The leaves for this oolong are quite large and mature when they are harvested from organically grown Minami Sayaka cultivar tea bushes. The tea garden is located in the mountains of Gokase Town, at an altitude of about 600 meters (1,970 feet) above sea level. Gokase Town is in the Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan.

The sample packet has been opened, let the journey begin…

Organic Miyazaki Koubi Shiage Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
Organic Miyazaki Koubi Shiage Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves range in color from dull greenish-brown to dull dark forest green. The leaves are mostly large fragments of mature leaves, and I expect to find some unbroken, fairly large leaves in the mix. There are a few stems and thin twigs in the mix, but the majority of leaves appear to be individually plucked with no stem attached. The leaves are lightly rolled and curled, quite fluffy, and very dry, breaking easily into coarse crumbs. The leaves have a thin, dry leathery texture. The smell has scents of raw cacao, toasted rice, cassia bark, brown sugar, and baked apple.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Spring water was heated to 205°F (95°C). The leaves were infused for 3:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 195°F (90°C). Steep the leaves for 2:00 minutes. Expect four quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves, decreasing the steep time by 30 seconds on the second infusion, then increasing by 30 seconds on each subsequent infusion.

Organic Miyazaki Koubi Shiage Oolong Tea Dry Liquor
Organic Miyazaki Koubi Shiage Oolong Tea Dry Liquor

The first infusion produced a liquor with a beautiful golden-orange color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of raw cacao, toasted rice, cassia bark, and baked apples. The body is medium-full, with a clean, crisp, juicy texture. There is no obvious astringency. The taste has notes of raw cacao, toasted rice, baked apple, cassia bark, mineral (salt), and a touch of brown sugar. The aftertaste carries the cassia bark, mineral, and toasted rice notes, and a sweet essence is left on the breath.

Organic Miyazaki Koubi Shiage Oolong Tea Dry Infused Leaves
Organic Miyazaki Koubi Shiage Oolong Tea Dry Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform dark forest green color with reddish tints throughout the leaves. The leaves are mostly large fragments of mature leaves, with a few unbroken leaves in the mix. The longest unbroken leaf measures three inches (76 mm) long by one inch wide (25 mm). There are a few bare thin twigs in the mix. The majority of the leaves are individually plucked with no stems attached. The leaves have a smooth, leathery feel, and are certainly thicker and larger than most Japanese teas. The smell has scents of sweet wild flowers, apples, raw cacao, and cassia bark.

The Organic Miyazaki Koubi Shiage Oolong Tea is an interesting style of oolong comparable to the Chinese Da Hong Pao, Rou Gui, or Yancha styles of tea, and yet quite different. The heavier oxidation and pan-firing give the liquor a darker color, and a sweeter taste throughout the experience. The mineral taste starts out lighter, then evolves over subsequent infusions, similar to the Chinese Da Hong Pao or Yancha. There is a cassia bark character that is similar to the Chinese Rou Gui. Yet the obvious toasted rice characteristics make this Koubi Shiage Oolong a perfect Japanese tea. This tea has a very nice balance, and can hold the aroma and flavor through four or more infusions. Given the characteristics, I plan to try a cold brew, assuming that this will create a sweet and refreshing beverage for the coming spring and summer heat.

Tomorrow, or at the next possible review time, I will contrast this review by focusing on the lighter oxidized and pan-fired Japanese oolong tea, the Kuchinashi. Then, a very unique bancha unlike any other teas that I have seen. As you can see, I am loving the organic Japanese teas lately.

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!