Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea From TeaVivre

I found myself today yearning for a Chinese green tea. That is a rather broad term for such a diverse category of teas. Unfortunately, I must admit that at the moment my selection of Chinese green teas is rather limited. Fortunately, those few green teas I do have come from a reputable source, TeaVivre.

This particular sample today is one I have been holding on to, and looking forward to the day when I had the time to truly enjoy the experience. Tai Ping Hou Kui green tea, particularly those of good quality, is arguably one of the most interesting teas to visually observe in all stages of the review: dry, steeping in water, and exhausted. I made sure to keep some extra memory on my phone/camera for this review.

TeaVivre sources this Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea from the Houkeng Tea Garden, located in the famous Huangshan area of Xinming County, Anhui Province, China. This tea garden sits at an elevation of about 2,600 feet (800 meters) above sea level. The leaves used for this tea are harvested from the Shidacha seedling bush, a large leaf species. This harvest is usually performed in late April. This particular sample is from the 2017 spring harvest.

Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea is in the list of top ten Chinese green teas, and is renowned for, among other things, the uniquely flattened, long leaves. The leaves are seriously as flat and thin as a piece of paper. It’s appearance is unlike any other style of tea I have ever come across, and is immediately identifiable.

Let’s get to the review… Be prepared … There are more photos than usual, and this tea deserves the extra attention.

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Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea – Dry Leaves (shot 1)
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Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea – Dry Leaves (shot 2)

The dry leaves vary in color from pale bright green to pale dark green. The leaves are all unbroken, fully intact leaves still attached to the shoot. There are no fragments or bare stems in the mix. The leaves all measure between 3 and 4 inches long (75 to 100 mm). I expect there to be two to three leaves and a bud attached to the shoot. The leaves have the standard paper thin, flat appearance, as Tai Ping Hou Kui teas should have. The classic checkered pattern is also present on the leaves (see the photo below), a result of the process used to flatten the leaves. The aroma has scents of fresh cut grass, light brown sugar, and a subtle touch of wild flowers.

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Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea – Dry Leaves (Close Shot)

Forgive me for this, but I had to use my clear glass infuser mug to steep these leaves. I really wanted to observe the infusion process. So I used the full contents of the five gram sample packet in the twelve ounce (355 mL) mug, and infused in 175°F (80°C) water for 2:00 minutes.

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Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea – Infusion Process
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Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a pale, light yellow-green color. The aroma has scents of fresh grass, sweet corn, wild flowers, peas, and a touch of brown sugar. The body is medium, with a silky, refreshing texture. There is a medium level of astringency, and no bitterness. The taste has notes of fresh grass, sweet corn, wild flowers, peas, and a touch of lemon. The aftertaste starts off grassy, and evolves into an impressive, lasting flowery essence. This flowery essence is truly remarkable.

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Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fairly uniform fresh forest green color. The blend consists entirely of unbroken, whole leaves and buds still attached to the shoots. The pluck varies from two leaves and a rather developed bud to three leaves and a developed bud. The  opened leaves are long and very narrow, and have an incredibly soft, smooth texture. The aroma carries the scents of grass, peas, and wild flowers.

This Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea from TeaVivre is, in my opinion, a very good quality specimen of this style of tea considering the price that TeaVivre offers it at, and the fact that this is only their “premium” version (i.e. not their best quality offered). In addition to the enjoyment I got out of observing the leaves in all stages of the review, the aroma and taste quality of the infusion itself was very admirable. I also got four quality infusions out of the leaves, and a fifth that was still worthy of drinking. There is no question in my mind as to why this is in the top ten best styles of green tea from China. This product has all the characteristics of a Chinese green tea that people are looking for, with some specific qualities that cannot be found elsewhere. This is a tea worthy of the time it takes to fully observe and enjoy at all levels.

Thank you to TeaVivre for supplying this sample of Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea! Cheers!

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Kanoka Summer Breeze Black Tea From Assamica Agro

Today, my review will focus on the Kanoka Summer Breeze Black Tea from Assamica Agro. You can purchase 250 grams of this tea for USD $19.90 from the Assamica Agro website.

This black tea is a TGFOP grade (Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe). The leaves were harvested during the second flush season of 2017 from the Kanoka Tea Estate, located in the Sonitpur district, Assam region of India. In accordance with the other partner growers involved with Assamica Agro, Kanoka Tea Estate engages in organic and eco-friendly farming practices. The estate covers about six acres (2.4 hectares). Unlike many now organic estates in the Assam region, the owners of Kanoka Tea Estate historically did not use pesticides or chemical fertilizers on their land. Instead, the team regularly engages in manual removal of weeds from the garden. Vermicomposting and cow-based fertilizers are used to maintain a natural growing environment.

I provided more details of the great business model being enacted by Assamica Agro in my previous reviews of the Queen of Assam Black Tea and the Assam Green Adventure Green Tea. Check out both of those reviews to read about Assamica Agro, and click the links to buy some of their amazing quality teas. The prices are quite amazing also!

Let’s get to the review…

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Kanoka Summer Breeze Black Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a fairly uniform dark charcoal gray color, with a few spots of pale brown, and a few small silverish buds. The blend consists of mostly large leaf fragments, with a few unbroken leaves, some medium fragments, and a few young buds and bud fragments. There are one or two bare stems. The leaves are rolled, and the appearance is similar to other high-end TGFOP black teas from Assam. The aroma is very nice, with scents of grapes, raw cacao, dry rose petals, and a touch of hay.

Nine grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 mL) cast-iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 190°F (88°C) water for 4:00 minutes. I would normally have used 200°F water for 3:00 minutes, but the package suggested the lower temperature of 190°F for 4:00 minutes.

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Kanoka Summer Breeze Black Tea – Infusion

The infusion has a rich, vibrant red-orange color. The aroma again is very attractive, with scents of cocoa, roses, wild flowers, and a touch of hay. The body is full, with a lively, mouth-filling texture that seems to coat the tongue. There is a nice, brisk character, and no bitterness. The taste carries the notes of cocoa, roses, wildflowers, and a light touch of grapefruit. The aftertaste is sweet and lightly floral, and pleasantly lingers on the breath for a longer time than expected.

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Kanoka Summer Breeze Black Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform copper brown color. The blend consists of mostly large leaf fragments, a few unbroken leaves, and some medium leaf and bud fragments. All leaves are detached from stems. The leaves appear to be younger, but still have the more pronounced hardiness and smooth leathery feel typical of the assamica bush. The aroma is very floral and sweet, with scents of roses and grapes.

As I have come to expect from the products offered by Assamica Agro, this Kanoka Summer Breeze Black Tea took a classic tea like Assam TGFOP black tea, and crafted it into something truly unique. Yes, one can tell this is an Assam black tea by the color and body of the infusion, but the more pronounced cocoa aroma and taste is the twist on the more commonly found malty qualities found in Assam teas. The floral notes add to the high quality character of this tea. The leaves give at least two very high quality infusions, and the third was certainly worthy of drinking. Again, for the price that Assamica Agro offers this tea for, it is worth every penny!

Many thanks to Assamica Agro for providing this sample of Kanoka Summer Breeze Black Tea, and my compliments to the producers at Kanoka Tea Estate. Keep up the amazing work!

Assam Green Adventure Green Tea From Assamica Agro

Another bitter cold day in Pittsburgh, and nothing is more appropriate than a bold Assam tea. Although generally I prefer a rich black tea on days like today, there is a sample of Assam Green Adventure Green Tea in this box from Assamica Agro, and the leaves look too interesting through the package window to pass up.

You can purchase 100 grams of this Assam Green Adventure for USD $7.50 through the Assamica Agro website. Or get an entire kilogram (2.2 pounds) for USD $41.50! I spent a good paragraph or two in my previous review of the Queen of Assam Black Tea from Assamica Agro describing how incredible of pricing this company has for their products. Seriously, check out their website and buy some amazing tea!

Like the Queen of Assam Black Tea, this Assam Green Adventure was also produced at the Prithivi Group of Small Tea Growers, located in Dibrugarh, Assam, India. That fact alone has my excitement peaked for this green tea, since the Queen of Assam was an absolutely phenomenal black tea. This tea is from the second flush harvest of 2017.

Assamica Agro is truly a model for how tea companies should run. They have the right vision for a tea company, practicing fair wages to workers, organic farming, and protecting the land and environment. Somehow, they do all of this while offering fantastic quality teas at affordable prices. It seems that the lack of “middlemen” and unreasonable profit margins truly makes this possible. Cheers to Assamica Agro, and any tea companies that follow these same practices.

Historically, many of the largest tea growing regions of the world had the same strategy as many other corrupt industries and governments, exploiting the local people, weak economies, and land in order to maximize profits for those who need it the least. This strategy has left nothing but waste in its wake, including perpetually weak economies, poor local people being lacked of sufficient incomes and services, and polluted, damaged lands. These are the practices and entities that need to be dissolved in our age, where we no longer need them in order to find tea and other products. I am not one to get engaged in political conversation in this blog, but I am one for promoting and offering ethics and good moral character in business practices. These things in business are what is best for the development of humanity.

Now, let’s get to the review…

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Assam Green Adventure Green Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from pale forest green to pale dark forest green. There are a few smaller silver buds. There are no totally bare stems. The leaves are hand plucked. Some are hand twisted into long, wiry shapes (some measuring over 2 inches), while others appear to be lightly hand rolled. The mix appears to consist of mostly large fragments and unbroken leaves still attached to the shoot. The plucking standard is two leaf pluck, with very few having a small bud. The leaves appear to be pan fired. The aroma is rich and woodsy, with scents of wood smoke, forest floor (fresh mushrooms and dry autumn leaves), minerals, and a touch of bitter cacao beans. This is a type of tea to sit around a campfire with and get the full experience of nature.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an eight ounce (240 mL) bizen ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 175°F (80°C) water for 1:00 minute. 15 seconds were added to subsequent infusions.

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Assam Green Adventure Green Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a fairly light, pale green color. The aroma has scents of wood smoke, wet stones, fresh mushrooms, and steamed collard greens. The body is surprisingly full, with a savory, rich texture, and a light touch of astringency. The taste has notes of wet stones, autumn leaves, collard greens, fresh mushrooms, and wild flowers. The aftertaste carries the vegetal character, and slowly evolves into a flowery essence.

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Assam Green Adventure Green Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform bright, fresh forest green color. The blend consists of mostly large fragments and unbroken leaves still attached to stems, with a few detached unbroken leaves and fragments. There are no totally bare stems. The plucking standard is two leaves. There are very few small bud fragments in the mix. The leaves feel young and fairly tender, although the size is considerably large, again indicating the leaves come from Camellia Sinensis Assamica tea bushes. The aroma has scents of wet forest floor, wet stones, collard greens, fresh mushrooms, and a touch of wild flowers.

The Assam Green Adventure Green Tea has a very appropriate name, because experiencing this tea is truly like adventuring through a forest. The aromas and tastes of wood smoke, like a campfire, fresh mushrooms, minerals, forest foliage, and a touch of wild flowers, really transports you to an early autumn forest after a light rain shower. I really get the feeling of camping from this tea, and I personally love it. It seems to connect me to nature.

This green tea is more similar to a sheng puerh in terms of aroma and taste. Being dominantly earthy and complex, it does not have the grassy, nutty, or stronger floral flavors that many other green teas have. I find that most pan fired green teas share this earthy, mineral character. As of this moment, I am on the fifth infusion of these leaves, and there is plenty of taste left in these leaves. It is impressive. Again, for the price of this tea, you can buy yourself an amazing amount of excellent green tea pleasure.

Thanks again to Assamica Agro for all that they do in their communities, and for providing this sample of Assam Green Adventure Green Tea! Go check out their website, and help a positive, ethical movement generate some well-deserved revenues. Cheers!

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!

 

GTGFOP1 Clonal Black Tea from Halmari Tea Estate

Today, I will be reviewing the GTGFOP1 Clonal Black from Halmari Tea Estate, which was awarded a 2017 Global Tea Championship First Place Award in the Fall Hot Loose Leaf Assam category. Congratulations to everyone at Halmari Tea Estate for this accomplishment!

You can purchase 250 grams of this tea for USD $35.00 plus shipping fees direct from Halmari Tea Estate.

I have covered Halmari Tea Estate in detail in previous posts, and the link above takes you to their website, where there is plenty of additional information, so let’s just jump right into the review today.

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Halmari GTGFOP1 Clonal Black Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark brown color, with a generous portion of fuzzy golden tips. The size and shape of the leaves is also uniform, and consists of small leaf and bud fragments. This tea has a very high quality appearance. The aroma has sweet scents of malt, dark honey, and a light, nutmeg-like spiciness.

Nine grams of dry leaves were placed in an 18 ounce (530 ml) cast-iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 200°F water for 3:00 minutes.

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Halmari GTGFOP1 Clonal Black Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a deep, amber red color. The aroma has scents of malt, dark honey, roses, and a touch of nutmeg. The body is full, with a brisk and robust character, and a rich, layered texture. The taste has notes of malt, rosebuds, pine wood, and black peppercorn. The notes of malt and pine carry over in the aftertaste.

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Halmari GTGFOP1 Clonal Black Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform copper brown color. The leaves and buds are all small fragments, quite uniform in shape and size. The aroma has a dominant scent of malt, with a very light scent of roses.

It’s not difficult to understand why the GTGFOP1 Clonal Black Tea from Halmari Tea Estate won the first place award in it’s category this year. This product is a very nicely refined, luxurious taste of Assam style black tea. It has the malty, full bodied, brisk character that Assam teas are known for, but with a rich, layered texture, and more complex taste than your typical Assam black tea. This tea deserves to be enjoyed without any additives. However, it is an Assam tea, which always takes well to milk, honey, or any of your favorite additions. Enjoy it any way you choose, but do take the time to enjoy it!

Thanks again to Halmari Tea Estate for providing this sample of GTGFOP1 Clonal Black Tea. Keep up the great work! Cheers!

 

 

FBOPF EXSP Black Tea from Greenwood Tea Estate

A few weeks ago, I was thinking about how much a missed having fresh Ceylon black tea in my collection. To be honest, the only Ceylon teas that have lasted this long are still from the days of my online tea shop, so they are getting toward the end of their best by dates.

Luckily, Greenwood Tea Estate came to the rescue and reached out to me after seeing some of my other reviews. They were kind enough to send out a box of samples, including mostly the larger leaf grades (OP1, OPA, Pekoe), and a few specialties (BOP SP, FBOPF EXSP, and Silver Tips). I will definitely be doing a review on the Silver Tips.

Greenwood Tea Estate is located in Nawalapitiya, in the famous Kandy region of Sri Lanka. The tea garden consists of 55 hectares, and sits at altitudes ranging from 2,000 to 3,000 feet above sea level. About 80 families call this garden home. A variety of spices and timber are also grown here. A map showing the location of the Greenwood Tea Estate is below.

Like most of the tea gardens in Sri Lanka, Greenwood started off as a coffee plantation in the 1840s. Like the vast majority of other coffee plantations in Sri Lanka, by the end of the 19th century, the coffee crops at Greenwood were completely destroyed by the fungal disease Hemileia Vastatrix, or coffee rust. The lands were later converted to tea gardens.

Today’s review will focus on Greenwood’s FBOPF EXSP (Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe Fannings Extra Special) or (Finest Broken Orange Pekoe Flowery Extra Special) black tea. Although the first term is the grading language and terminology that I learned through International Tea Masters and World Tea Academy, I do have to say that the dry leaves appear more in line with a broken leaf grade suggested by the second term than the fannings grade suggested by the first name. Perhaps our friends at Greenwood will help us clarify which is the correct term.

Let’s get to the review…

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Greenwood FBOPF EXSP Black Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark brown color, with a sprinkle of golden tips. The blend consists of small, uniform sized leaf and bud fragments, consistent with a broken leaf grade, not quite as small and fine as a fannings leaf grade, and not quite as large as a pekoe leaf grade. The aroma has scents of dried roses, malt, and dry timber.

Nine grams of dry leaves were placed in an 18 ounce (530 ml) cast-iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 200°F water for 3:00 minutes.

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Greenwood FBOPF EXSP Black Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a copper-red color, and is rich and clean in appearance. The aroma has scents of roses, malt, lemon, and a touch of mint. The body is full, with a brisk, lively, mouth-filling character. The taste has notes of roses, malt, lemon, and a touch of mint and wood. The aftertaste continues the malty, slightly mentholated and brisk character. This is an excellent quality Ceylon tea!

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Greenwood FBOPF EXSP Black Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform brown color, and a uniform size and shape of the fragments. Based on the size of the fragments, I am quite certain this is a broken leaf grade and not a fanning grade product. The aroma carries the scents of roses, malt, light mint and wet wood.

The FBOPF EXSP Black Tea from Greenwood Tea Estate provided a very happy experience to me! It was like seeing an old friend after years of being separated. Being reacquainted with a fine Ceylon black tea was worth the wait and patience. The brisk, lively character and full body makes this a perfect black tea to start a busy day with. It will wake you up immediately with a positive energy. Interestingly, the minty undertone and mentholated aftertaste reminds me more of the famous seasonal black teas from gardens in the Uva region of Sri Lanka, which is just slightly south-east of the Kandy region. It has been a while since I have had a fresh Uva seasonal black tea, so perhaps my memory is playing games with me.

Thanks again to Greenwood Tea Estate for sending this sample of FBOPF EXSP Black Tea! I look forward to getting to the whole leaf grades and especially the Silver Tips! Cheers.

Rohini Summer Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea from Lochan Tea

Today, I will focus on the Summer Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling tea produced at the Rohini Tea Estate. This sample was provided by Lochan Tea.

I have covered the Rohini Tea Estate several times in previous reviews, so I will spare you all the redundancy. You may click on the link above to learn more about Rohini Tea Estate.

This 2nd flush product from Rohini Tea Estate was produced early in the second flush season before the labor strike began in Darjeeling. Due to the ongoing political disputes in the Darjeeling area, this year (2017) marks the first time in forty years that the Kolkata tea auction centre has no Darjeeling second flush 2017 teas to sell. If you absolutely demand fresh second flush Darjeeling teas, expect to pay very, VERY high prices for it this year, and realize that what you are buying is from early second flush production, if you are able to find any at all available for retail sale.

Products comparable to Darjeeling second flush teas can be found coming from Nepal, which shares a border with the Darjeeling area of northern India. The Nepalese teas have been growing in popularity and recognition over the past couple of years due to the significant increases in quality and, in many cases, more affordable pricing than their Darjeeling counterparts. To be honest, unless you are truly a tea tasting and analyzing professional familiar with both Darjeeling and Nepalese teas, you will most likely not be able to tell the difference between the teas from these two areas. While the brand of Darjeeling teas is currently suffering due to the political problems in that area, the Nepalese products are gaining even more recognition as a suitable and reliable replacement for Darjeeling teas.

Let’s get to the review…

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Rohini Summer Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark brown color with a generous portion of fuzzy golden tips. The shape of the dry leaves is remarkable and noteworthy, as they appear to be hand-rolled into pellets that in some cases resemble pretzels. A closeup of one of the pellets is below. I have never before seen a Darjeeling tea with the dry leaves rolled like this. This gives the tea an even higher quality and specific appearance. I would easily recognize this product in a blind evaluation. I expect these pellets to unfurl into unbroken and large leaf and bud fragments, and show a two leaf and bud pluck. There are no bare stems in the mix. The aroma has sweet scents of roses, grapes, and a touch of dark chocolate. The aroma is very attractive.

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Rohini Summer Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea – Pellet Closeup

9 grams of dry leaves were placed in an 18 ounce cast-iron tetsubin teapot. The leaves were infused in 200°F water for 3:00 minutes.

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Rohini Summer Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a bright, reddish-bronze color. The aroma is dominated by scents of roses and grapes, with lighter scents of toasted grains and dark chocolate. The body is full, with a rich, layered texture. The taste has strong notes of roses and grapes, along with notes of raw cacao beans, and a lighter note of toasted grains. There is an excellent balance of astringency, bitterness, and sweetness. The aftertaste is sweet and has a touch of the rose and grape flavors. The tea leaves a slight dry feeling in the mouth.

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Rohini Summer Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform copper-brown color. The leaves, as expected, are mostly unbroken or large fragments. Some of the leaves are standalone, not attached to a stem, while others show the two leaf and bud pluck. Some have two leaves, a mature bud, and a younger bud included on the pluck with a longer shoot, which explains how they could be rolled into the pellet shape. Some of the leaves are quite large, like the one shown in the photo above. The aroma continues the sweet scents of grapes and roses, and light touch of dark chocolate.

The Rohini Summer Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea is one of the most interesting teas to play with and observe that I have reviewed in a long time. The appearance of the dry leaf pellets and unfurled infused leaves is very unique, especially for a Darjeeling tea. The aroma in all phases is very attractive and characteristic of a high quality Darjeeling second flush tea, as well as the taste of the liquid. Having experienced this tea, it is unfortunate to remember that this product will probably not be available to purchase for the rest of this production year. I hope the Rohini Tea Estate continues to produce this unique and interesting tea in future production years.

To be honest, if I had to pick one Darjeeling second flush tea to have in my collection, I would choose this Rohini Summer Euphoria. The aroma and taste are very high quality, and it is simply a more interesting product than the vast majority of its Darjeeling second flush counterparts.

Thank you to Lochan Tea for providing this sample of Rohini Summer Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea. Cheers!

Organic Goomtee Muscatel Delight 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea from Lochan Tea

Today’s review focuses on the Organic Goomtee Muscatel Delight 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea from Lochan Tea. You can check out Lochan Tea on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, among other social media platforms.

As noted in the product name, this tea was sourced from Goomtee Tea Estate, located in the famous Darjeeling area of northern India. This tea came from the organic certified section of the estate, known as Muscatel Valley. The estate lays next to other respected tea estates, such as Giddapahar and Jungpana, and the world famous Castleton Estate. The Goomtee estate consists of a total of 225 hectares of land, 110 hectares of which are under tea cultivation. The Chinese clonal tea bushes are grown at altitudes between 3,000 and 6,000 feet above sea level. The map below shows the location of Goomtee Tea Estate, and its relative position to other well known tea estates in the Darjeeling area.

You can follow Goomtee Tea Estate on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Let’s not forget to send another prayer for a peaceful resolution to the persisting political situation in the Darjeeling area. As of now, there has been very little progress.

Let’s get to the review…

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Organic Goomtee Muscatel Delight 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark charcoal grey color, with a few fuzzy, golden tips. The leaves are more uniformly dark in color than most other second flush Darjeeling teas that I have reviewed this season. The other products have had some touches of red or brown or even a little green, but this sample is entirely dark in color (aside from the golden tips, of course). The leaves are mostly medium to large sized fragments, with the possibility of some smaller unbroken leaves and buds in the mix. There are a few bare stems, but they are quite small. The leaves are machine rolled. The aroma has scents of dried red muscat grapes, raw cocoa, dried roses, and anise.

The dry leaves were placed in a cast iron tetsubin teapot and infused in 200°F water for 3:00 minutes.

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Organic Goomtee Muscatel Delight 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a golden-red color. The aroma has scents of roses, red muscat grapes, raw cocoa, and anise. The body is full, with a juicy, lush feel, and lightly brisk character. The taste has notes of red muscat grapes, roses, anise, and raw cocoa. The aftertaste carries the grape and rose notes.

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Organic Goomtee Muscatel Delight 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform copper brown color. The mix consists mostly of medium and large sized fragments, and a few small, young, unbroken leaves and tips. There are a few bare stems and shoots in the mix. The leaves have a soft, tender feel. The aroma has scents of muscat grapes, roses, cocoa, and anise.

The Organic Goomtee Muscatel Delight 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea delivers that which its name suggests, a clean, muscat grape flavor, along with the floral notes that I have come to expect from second flush Darjeeling teas. The notes of cocoa and anise nicely balance out the aroma and flavor, while the light briskness adds some depth. Overall, this tea is another fine example of the high quality aroma and flavor profiles that consumers demand from the better Darjeeling estates. I expect nothing less from a tea that is offered by Lochan Tea.

Another thank you to the Lochan family for providing this sample of Organic Goomtee Muscatel Delight 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea. Cheers!

Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea from Halmari Tea Estate

Today, I will reviewing the Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea from Halmari Tea Estate. You can purchase 250 grams of this tea for USD $26 plus shipping costs from the Halmari Tea website.

I posted detailed information on Halmari Tea Estate in a previous review of the Halmari Gold Orthodox Black Tea. However, here is an article from last year from the Telegraph India publication announcing another record breaking price for Halmari Gold CTC Black Tea at the auctions. Halmari Tea definitely does not shy away from competing with itself year after year to produce better quality products and fetch higher prices.

The Assam region of India is not known (yet) for its oolong teas, but Halmari Tea Estate does not let that stop them from experimenting. Certainly, in order to compete with the quality of more established oolong products, management at Halmari knew to use the hand plucked, hand rolled manufacturing process despite the more labor intensive and time consuming work required for it. This generally gives the tea a more high-end, attractive appearance to discerning tea professionals and consumers alike.

Let’s get to the review…

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Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a fairly uniform dark charcoal grey color, with a generous portion of fuzzy gold tips (buds). The blend consists of medium to large fragments of leaves and buds.There are no bare stems in the mix. Based on the size of some of the gold tips, I expect to find some unbroken. The leaves are long and wiry. The oxidation level is on the high end, as evidenced by the uniform dark color of the leaves. The aroma has scents of malt, toasted grains, dark chocolate, and daisies.

The dry leaves were placed in a cast iron tetsubin pot and infused in 190°F water for 3:00 minutes.

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Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a gold-amber color. The aroma has scents of malt, fresh grains, light honey, daisies, and dark chocolate. The body is full, with a clean, layered feel. There is a complexity to this tea, having a brisk character, and layers of sweetness and balanced bitterness. The flavor really seems to hit all parts of the tongue. The taste has notes of malt, fresh grains, light honey, daisies, and the bitterness of dark chocolate. The aftertaste is sweet with a light floral touch.

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Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform bronze-brown color. The blend consists of mostly medium and large fragments of leaves and tips, with a respectable amount of unbroken tips, a few leafs that are nearly unbroken, and no totally bare stems or shoots. The shoots show a two leaf and bud pluck. The leaves have the heartier, more robust feel of the Assamica tea bushes. The dark color of the infused leaves reflects the higher level of oxidation applied during the manufacturing process. The aroma carries the scents of malt, fresh grains, daisies, and dark chocolate. As they cool, the floral scents become stronger, and a hint of honey comes out.

From dry leaves to liquid to infused leaves, the Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea was very consistent in its aromas of malt, grains, dark chocolate, and daisies. The most remarkable part of this tea, in my opinion, was the complexity of the liquid character, delivering briskness, sweetness, and bitterness in nicely balanced layers. This oolong style tea was notably different than the Halmari Gold Orthodox Black Tea and the Halmari Gold CTC Black Tea that I have tasted previously. This oolong tea was more delicate, and not as bold and robust as the black teas, making it perfect for the tea drinker who wants the malty taste of an Assam tea without the strong astringency of the typical Assam black tea.

Thank you to Halmari Tea Estate for providing this sample of Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea. Cheers!

Gamnong Green Tea 2017 Harvest from Hankook Tea

Sometimes it can be a challenge to hold off on reviewing certain samples, but I do try to cycle through samples from different vendors for several reasons. This sample of Gamnong Jaksul Cha from Hankook Tea was definitely one of the samples that I had to practice some discipline in not tearing into as soon as I received it, and every day since.

According to the Hankook Tea website, this Gamnong Jaksul Cha (Green Tea) was harvested by hand in mid to late April of 2017 from the Honam Tea Estate in South Korea. The harvesting takes place immediately before and after the Gokwoo season, which is the “rainfall of seeding”, and is the 6th of 24 seasonal divisions according to the lunar calendar.

You can purchase a 100 gram canister of the Gamnong Green Tea 2017 Harvest from the Hankook Tea website for USD $68.00 plus shipping fees.

Let’s get to the review…

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Gamnong Green Tea 2017 Harvest – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have an almost perfectly uniform fresh dark forest green color with a slight shimmer. The leaves consist of medium sized fragments, and there are some fresh buds in the mix, as well as a few young, bare stems or shoots. There may be some unbroken, small, young leaves in the mix. The leaves are machine rolled. The aroma is fresh and warming, with scents of caramel, dried grass, toasted rice, and dried wild flowers.

Dry leaves were placed in a bizen ware kyusu teapot, and infused in 175°F water for 2:00 minutes.

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Gamnong Green Tea 2017 Harvest – Liquid

The liquid has a bright, green color with a slight haze. The aroma has fresh scents of steamed spinach, fresh cut grass, wildflowers, and rice milk. The body is medium, with a slightly brothy texture, and a lively, clean energy. There is a nice balance of light umami and astringency. The taste has notes of steamed spinach, swiss chard, wildflowers, dandelion, rice, and a touch of bitterness that reminds me of walnuts. The aftertaste carries the grassy and floral notes, and lingers on the breath.

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Gamnong Green Tea 2017 Harvest – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color. The leaves are tender, young, and small. They are very soft and delicate to the touch, and tear apart quite easily after 3 infusions. The mix consists mostly of leaf fragments, but there are a few unbroken leaves, bud fragments, and a few young, bare shoots. The aroma continues the scents of fresh grass, steamed spinach, wildflowers, dandelion, and rice milk. Altogether, I took six infusions from these leaves, and although the last infusion or two were quite light on taste, they were still refreshing and enjoyable.

The Gamnong Green Tea could easily be a daily drinker for me (and I have not even tried it cold-brewed yet). As I have mentioned in earlier posts about the green teas from Hankook Tea, these products seem to be a perfect blend of Japanese style and Chinese style greens teas, with the light umami, grassiness of Japanese, and the nutty, floral characters of the Chinese. Overall, it just seems to hit all parts of the tongue with excellent balance. It is clean, refreshing, uplifting, and truly satisfying. If you have not given South Korean green teas a chance yet, now is the time!

Thanks again to Hankook Tea for providing this sample of Gamnong Green Tea! As usual, it was another great experience. Cheers!