Wenshan Baozhong Oolong Tea From Fong Mong Tea

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s get to the review…

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Wenshan Baozhong Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

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

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

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Wenshan Baozhong Oolong Tea – 1st Infusion

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

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Wenshan Baozhong Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

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

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

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

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Gaoshanchi Fushoushan Oolong Tea From Fong Mong Tea

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

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

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

Let’s get to the review…

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Gaoshanchi Fushoushan Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

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

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

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Gaoshanchi Fushoushan Oolong Tea – Liquid

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

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Gaoshanchi Fushoushan Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

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

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

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

Si Ji Chun Oolong Tea From Taiwan M’s Tea

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

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

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

Let’s get to the review…

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Si Ji Chun Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

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

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

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Si Ji Chun Oolong Tea – Liquid

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

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Si Ji Chun Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

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

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

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

 

Gaoshan QingXiang Lishan Oolong Tea From Fong Mong Tea Shop

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

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

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

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

Let’s get to the review…

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Gaoshan Qingxiang Lishan Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

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

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

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Gaoshan Qingxiang Lishan Oolong Tea – Liquid

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

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

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Gaoshan Qingxiang Lishan Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

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

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

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

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!

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!

Medium Roast Dong Ding Oolong Tea from Mountain Tea Company

Here is a sample from Taiwan that has been put aside for too long. Today’s review will focus on the Medium Roast Dong Ding Oolong Tea from Mountain Tea Company, based in Nantou County, Taiwan. I have covered Mountain Tea Company in several previous posts, so I will spare you all the redundancy.

The sample packet has been opened, and the classic roasty, robust scent of Dong Ding oolong is immediately recognizable. Let the journey begin…

Medium Roast Dong Ding Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
Medium Roast Dong Ding Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark brownish-green color. The leaves are shaped in the standard semi-ball form. The semi-balls consist of whole leaves with stems intact. I am assuming a pluck of three to four leaves per stem. There are no bare stems in the mix. The semi-balls have a dense, rigid texture. The leaves have been roasted, and appear to be in the 50% to 60% range in terms of oxidation level. The smell has scents of char, wood, raw cacao, light brown sugar, baked apple and toasted grains.

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 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 to 2:30 minutes. Expect at least three or four quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves. Reduce second infusion steep time to 1:30, then increase to 1:45 for the third infusion, and 15 additional seconds to each subsequent infusion.

Medium Roast Dong Ding Oolong Tea Infusion
Medium Roast Dong Ding Oolong Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright, pale yellow color, clear and transparent, with a few course particles. The aroma had scents of char, wood, apple, brown sugar, and toasted grains. The body was medium, with a clean, gentle texture, and a refreshing effect. There is a very mild astringency when the liquor is hot, and diminishes as the liquor cools. The taste has notes of char, wood, mineral, apple, brown sugar, toasted grains, and apple blossoms. The aftertaste carries the woody and apple blossom notes, and a pleasant, lingering flowery essence can be felt on the breath.

Medium Roast Dong Ding Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Medium Roast Dong Ding Oolong Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform dark brown color with a light greenish tint. The leaves are mostly whole, although cracked and ripped from processing. The stems show a three leaf pluck. The leaves have a thin, wet leather texture. The leaves are smaller than I originally expected, with many measuring under one and a half inches (38 mm). Most of the leaves are long and narrow. I believe these leaves are from the Chin Shin (TTES 17) cultivar. The leaves have scents of char, wood, mineral, light apple, and light raw cacao.

The Medium Roast Dong Ding Oolong Tea from Mountain Tea Company has the roasty, sweet, and woody scents and tastes that are expected from roasted, highly oxidized oolongs. This tea is a great way to warm up the body on a cold day. The pleasant aroma and taste will be consistent through at least three to four infusions. The sweet and flowery essence is very enjoyable, and seems to last for minutes after the tea is swallowed.  If you like roasted oolongs, then this is a reasonably priced tea that will satisfy what you are looking for.

Thank you to the sales team at Mountain Tea Company for providing this sample of Medium Roast Dong Ding Oolong Tea. Cheers.

Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea from Mountain Tea Company

I am in the process of organizing all of my samples from this year, and I must admit that it has been quite the task. I am going against my will, and simply organizing the samples by country of origin. Quite honestly, I did not have enough boxes to organize by region, which I would certainly prefer. On the bright side, I am finding some really great samples that came in small packets that simply shifted little by little to the bottom of other boxes.

This sample of Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea from Mountain Tea Company is one of those great samples that got lost in the mix for a while. Thankfully, it has resurfaced at a perfect time, as I have been desiring a Taiwanese oolong for a few weeks. I have been enjoying oolongs from Thailand and China, with the occasional Vietnam or Indonesia oolong, but my supply of Taiwan oolongs has become quite low, except for a few Jin Xuan products of varying quality. I love Jin Xuan, but I need a break!

The leaves of this Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea are harvested from the Si Ji Chun cultivar grown in Nantou County, Taiwan. Mountain Tea Company owns three tea gardens, one on Wushe Mountain. I cannot say with certainty whether the tea bushes that produced these leaves grow at the Wushe Mountain garden, or one of the other two. Regardless, all gardens are considered high mountain locations, thus I am expecting a very happy oolong experience out of this review. For more information on the Mountain Tea Company, please click here.

The sample packet has been opened, and despite the months that have passed since first receiving this sample, the scent of the dry leaves is remarkably sweet and fragrant. Let the journey begin…

Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves range in color from light green to dark green. The leaves are in the compact, semi-ball shape, with few stems, but not as many as I commonly see in semi-ball oolongs. This fact indicates more time and effort by the manufacturer during production to remove the majority of stems. From the few stems that are present, I am seeing only two leaves on the pluck, and I expect very small buds to be present also. The scent of the dry leaves is truly incredible! Full, sweet scents of brown sugar, ripe peaches and apricots, gardenia flowers, honey, and sweet cream are all present. I am starting to be reminded of the reasons why Taiwanese oolongs are so expensive and yet worth every penny.

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 the water to 195°F (90°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 minutes. Expect three or more quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves. I recommend cutting at least a full minute off the steep time for the second infusion (1:30 to 2:00 total steep time), and then 2:00 to 2:30 minutes for the third.

Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Infusion
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a very bright greenish-yellow color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma is phenomenal, with full scents of gardenia flowers, honey, stewed peaches and apricots, sweet cream, and carmelized sugar. The body is medium, with a clean, silky texture. The taste carries notes of peaches, apricots, gardenia flowers, sweet cream, honey, brown sugar, and a very light but noticeable hint of cooked spinach. The aftertaste is top notch, combining gardenia with sweet cream. As the aftertaste lingers, the sweet cream trails off and a hint of honeydew melon sets in, while the gardenia holds its potency. This is an incredible tea from start through the lingering finish!

Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Infused Leaves Closeup
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Infused Leaves Closeup
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Single Infused Leaf
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Single Infused Leaf

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color. Many leaves display a rather dark shade of red on the edges. I would estimate the oxidation at 30%, give or take 5%. Most of the leaves are whole, with a few large fragments. Many leaves are totally disconnected from the stem. The leaves that are connected to the stem show a two leaf and tiny bud pluck. Only one stem had a third leaf. The leaves have a thicker, leathery texture, evidence that the Si Ji Chun cultivar is a close relative of the TieGuanYin cultivar. Most of the leaves are fairly young, but the few larger leaves are longer and fairly broad, not quite as broad as the Jin Xuan leaves, but close. The smell is again incredible, with full scents of gardenia flowers, peaches and apricots, brown sugar, sweet cream, and honey.

I am officially obsessed with Taiwanese oolongs again. The Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea from Mountain Tea Company is fully responsible for reviving this obsession. Awe-inspiring from the scent of the dry leaves through the entire drinking experience and the inspection of the infused leaves, this tea is a phenomenal product that is easy to afford and appreciate. Although not everyone will taste the many notes that are listed above, any level of tea drinker will quickly notice that this tea is simply delicious. The lingering aftertaste will not let you forget just how good this product is.

Thank you to the management at Mountain Tea Company for providing this sample of Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea. You can purchase some of this tea from Mountain Tea Company by clicking here.

The Battle of the Jin Xuan Wulongs – Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam

Admittedly, my wife and I are lovers of Jin Xuan (AKA Milk Wulong) teas. Our love for this style of tea began with the imposter milk wulongs, which are usually cheaper types of wulong tea with milk or a similar flavoring being added. As my knowledge of teas, specifically wulongs from Taiwan and China, increased, I learned the difference between a true Jin Xuan milk wulong and the flavored milk wulongs. When I learned how the Taiwan Tea Experimentation (Extension) Station, TTES, developed the Jin Xuan (TTES # 12) cultivar, I immediately began looking for sources of natural, unflavored Jin Xuan directly from Taiwan. I found several good suppliers, and I never stop looking for better ones.

More recently, I have began receiving samples of Jin Xuan wulongs grown in other countries, namely Thailand and Vietnam. Naturally, my first thought was how these Jin Xuans from Thailand and Vietnam compare to the Jin Xuan from it’s founding country, Taiwan. Today, I decided to find out in a side-by-side-by-side comparison.

My initial thought is that Taiwan would have the best Jin Xuan wulong, as the cultivar was created in Taiwan, and the tea producers of that country have had the most time to improve the characteristics of this tea. I currently have two Jin Xuan wulongs from Taiwan in my collection. One is a mid-price range quality, and the other is a high-price range quality. For this comparison, I will use the mid-price range quality, as the Jin Xuan products from Thailand and Vietnam are also in a comparable price range.

First, the basic origin information on each Jin Xuan wulong. The first Jin Xuan is from the Alishan area of Chiayi County, Taiwan. It is grown at an altitude of around 1,300 meters (3,900 feet). The second Jin Xuan is from a plantation outside of Chiang Rai City in northern Thailand. The third Jin Xuan is from Vietnam. Unfortunately, that is the only information I had available at the time of this review. If I receive more information on this product from Vietnam, I will revise the post.

Let the journey begin…

Jin Xuan Wulong Tea Comparison - Dry Leaves
Jin Xuan Wulong Tea Comparison – Dry Leaves
Alishan Taiwan Jin Xuan Wulong - Dry Leaves
Alishan Taiwan Jin Xuan Wulong – Dry Leaves
Chiang Rai Thailand Jin Xuan - Dry Leaves
Chiang Rai Thailand Jin Xuan – Dry Leaves
Vietnam Jin Xuan - Dry Leaves
Vietnam Jin Xuan – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves of the three Jin Xuan products had a similar appearance. All were pale, light green to dark brownish-green in color. All were in the semi-ball shape. The Vietnam product had the largest semi-balled leaves of the three. All products appear to be whole leaves and large fragments, some with stems intact. All three seemed to have similar levels of oxidation. The primary difference came in the form of the aroma, where the Taiwan product had the best aroma, with scents of sweet milk and brown sugar. The Thailand product came in a small sample packet, so I do not feel that there was enough of the product to gauge a fair aroma analysis. The Vietnam product also had a milky aroma, but not as potent as the Taiwan product, and with less sweet character.

Three grams of each product were placed in their respective five ounce (150 ml) ceramic infusion cups. Purified spring water was heated to 195°F (90°C). The leaves were infused for two minutes thirty seconds on the first infusion, and one minute thirty seconds on the second and third.

Jin Xuan Wulong Tea Comparison - 1st Infusion
Jin Xuan Wulong Tea Comparison – 1st Infusion
Alishan Taiwan Jin Xuan Wulong - 1st Infusion
Alishan Taiwan Jin Xuan Wulong – 1st Infusion
Chiang Rai Thailand Jin Xuan - 1st Infusion
Chiang Rai Thailand Jin Xuan – 1st Infusion
Vietnam Jin Xuan - 1st Infusion
Vietnam Jin Xuan – 1st Infusion

The first infusions of the Taiwan and Vietnam Jin Xuan products had similar appearances, having a light jade green color. The Thailand Jin Xuan had more of golden-yellow color with a slight jade green tint. All three were clear and transparent.

The aromas of the Taiwan and Thailand products were similar, with scents of sweet milk, orchids, brown sugar, and peaches. Both had amazing aromas. I give a slight edge to the Thailand product, because I felt it was slightly more potent. The Vietnam product had a light sweet milk scent, but seemed to have more of a vegetable character to the aroma than the other products.

The Thailand product had the heaviest body (still medium), followed by the Taiwan product, then the Vietnam product had the lightest body. All three had creamy, very smooth textures. The texture of the Taiwan product was the best, just slightly better than the Thailand product.

The taste of the Thailand product and the Taiwan product were very similar, but I give a slight edge to the Thailand product again. I felt the taste was slightly sweeter, with better balance of milk, brown sugar, and peach notes. There was also a light floral (orchid) note. The Taiwan product was stronger on the sweet cream and orchid notes, and by no means is any lesser quality than the Thailand product. Simply my preference in tastes made me give the Thailand tea the top ranking. The Vietnam product had a lighter milk note, a touch of cooked vegetable, and a light orchid note. All three teas had impressive orchid floral aftertastes, and persistent flowery essences to leave on the breath.

Overall, I would have to say that the Thailand Jin Xuan was my first preference in this comparison. It seemed to be fuller in every respect, the color, aroma, body, and taste. The Taiwan product was a very close second, having some different strengths than the Thailand product, but overall just a touch lighter. The Vietnam product was respectable, but seems to need some slightly different brewing parameters to have it’s peak aroma and tastes come out. I will experiment with some various brewing techniques, and perhaps compare these three again if and when I find an ideal set of parameters.

I did three infusions of each product, and noted my rankings of preference for infusions two and three. Here are the photos of the second infusion.

Jin Xuan Wulong Tea Comparison - 2nd Infusion
Jin Xuan Wulong Tea Comparison – 2nd Infusion
Alishan Taiwan Jin Xuan Wulong - 2nd Infusion
Alishan Taiwan Jin Xuan Wulong – 2nd Infusion
Chiang Rai Thailand Jin Xuan - 2nd Infusion
Chiang Rai Thailand Jin Xuan – 2nd Infusion
Vietnam Jin Xuan - 2nd Infusion
Vietnam Jin Xuan – 2nd Infusion

The outcomes of the second and third infusions were roughly the exact same as the first. The Thailand Jin Xuan had the best ranking in terms of appearance, aroma, taste, and body. The Taiwan product was a very close second place. The second infusion of the Vietnam product was better than the first infusion, but still not quite at the level of the Thailand and Taiwan products. Through three infusions, all three products held their properties quite well, and most impressing was the strong flowery orchid aftertastes and essences that all three teas had.

Here are the photos of the infused leaves.

Jin Xuan Wulong Tea Comparison - Infused Leaves
Jin Xuan Wulong Tea Comparison – Infused Leaves
Alishan Taiwan Jin Xuan Wulong - Infused Leaves
Alishan Taiwan Jin Xuan Wulong – Infused Leaves
Alishan Taiwan Jin Xuan Wulong - Infused Leaves
Alishan Taiwan Jin Xuan Wulong – Infused Leaves
Chiang Rai Thailand Jin Xuan - Infused Leaves
Chiang Rai Thailand Jin Xuan – Infused Leaves
Chiang Rai Thailand Jin Xuan - Infused Leaves
Chiang Rai Thailand Jin Xuan – Infused Leaves
Vietnam Jin Xuan - Infused Leaves
Vietnam Jin Xuan – Infused Leaves
Vietnam Jin Xuan - Infused Leaves
Vietnam Jin Xuan – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves all had a similar dark forest green color, with a few leaves displaying slightly reddish edges. The leaves of the Vietnam product were overall the largest and most impressive. All three products displayed a two to four leaf pluck, and all consisted mostly of whole leaves, with the remainder being large fragments. There were no bare stems in any of the products. All three had leaves that were consistent with the Jin Xuan cultivar, having long, broad leaves. The Taiwan and Vietnam leaves had a wet, thin leathery feel, while the Thailand product’s leaves were slightly softer and more delicate.

The infused leaves of the Taiwan Jin Xuan had the best aroma, followed closely by the Thailand product. Both had scents of brown sugar, sweet milk, and orchids. The Vietnam product had scents of light milk and orchids, but was not as sweet as the Taiwan and Thailand products.

This comparison was a great experience. Most surprisingly, the Thailand Jin Xuan was my preference of the three, while the Taiwan Jin Xuan was a close second place. If and when I get a chance to get another sample of the Thailand Jin Xuan, I will be putting it up against my better quality Taiwan Jin Xuan to see how it stands up to a higher quality competitor. Again, I want to work with the remainder of the Vietnam product sample to see if there are more favorable results from different brewing temperatures and times.

The best part of this comparison was sipping on good quality Jin Xuan for a few hours. I know Taiwan is starting to replace Jin Xuan bushes with Chin Shin, which is unfortunate in my opinion, even though many good wulongs are produced from Chin Shin. On the bright side, it seems that other regions are more than capable of picking up where the Taiwan farmers are choosing to leave off on the Jin Xuan production.

Many thanks to the companies who provided these samples. Even more thanks to the people who pluck the leaves, process them, and form them in to these absolutely amazing teas. Cheers!