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.

20180202_102935
Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea – Dry Leaves (shot 1)
20180202_102947
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.

20180202_102958
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.

20180202_103933
Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea – Infusion Process
20180202_104242
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.

20180202_133926
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!

Advertisements

Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea From TeaVivre

Today, I will reviewing the Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea from TeaVivre. You can purchase 100 grams of this tea for USD $18.90 through the TeaVivre website.

This Long Jing Green Tea was grown and harvested in April of 2017 in the famous district of XiHu (West Lake), Zhejiang province of China. Below is a map showing the general location of XiHu.

Although Long Jing green teas are among the most famous and beloved green teas from China, it is (admittedly) historically not one of my preferred green teas. I decided to request this sample from TeaVivre, and give it another chance since it has been a year or two since I last had a Long Jing green tea. My tastes and preferences do change and evolve, so it is always interesting to circle back to a tea that I did not care for a few years ago, and see how I interpret it now.

Let’s get to the review…

20171212_090344
Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from pale light green to pale dark green. There are also some yellow-brown leaves in the mix. The blend consists of medium to large leaf and bud fragments, with a few unbroken leafs and buds. There is also a bare stem or two in the mix. The stems show a two young leaf and bud pluck. The leaves have the standard flattened appearance, with the few fully intact plucks coming to a point where the bud ends. The abundance of medium sized fragments indicates that this is, with all due respect, a fairly standard grade of Long Jing green tea. The aroma has scents of roasted peanuts, chocolate, dry grass, and a touch of dry orchid.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an eight ounce (240 mL) bizen-ware kyusu, and infused with 175°F (80°C) water for 30 seconds. Each subsequent infusion had another 30 seconds of time added.

20171212_091609
Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a pale, light green-yellow color. The aroma has scents of fresh grass, boiled peanuts, cooked spinach and chard, and orchids. The body is medium-full, with a rich, velvety smooth texture. There is a pleasant, balanced astringency. The taste has notes of fresh grass, cooked spinach, chard, orchids, a light touch of floral bitterness, like lavender or jasmine, and a light touch of boiled peanuts. The aftertaste strongly carries the floral character, and lingers on the breath.

20171212_112735
Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color, with a few leaves having a brown spot of two. The blend consists mostly of medium to large leaf and bud fragments. There are a few unbroken leaves, and a few leaves and buds still attached to the shoot. The vast majority of leaves are fragments, though. There is a bare stem or two in the mix. The leaves are young, fairly small, and tender. The buds are also rather young and tender. The aroma carries the scents of fresh grash, spinach, chard, and light orchid.

I have enjoyed this experience with the Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea from TeaVivre more so than I did in the past. Most notably, I really enjoyed the texture of this tea, and the strong and lingering floral aftertaste. This experience is encouraging me to try the higher grades of Long Jing from TeaVivre and other vendors. I can imagine that a much more refined, higher quality of this style of green tea could certainly live up to its reputation as one of the best and most famous styles of Chinese green tea. Not to take anything away from the grade of this sample, which provided an excellent aroma and taste experience. This product is an excellent and affordable option for exploring the Long Jing style of green tea.

Thank you again to TeaVivre for providing this sample of Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea. Cheers!

Old Bush Ya Shi Xiang Dancong Oolong Tea From Chaozhou Tea Grower

Here it is, the last sample I have of the Dancong oolongs from Chaozhou Tea Grower. I saved this sample for last, since it a style of Dancong oolong that I have heard about repeatedly, yet never had an opportunity to try.

The English translation of the name “Ya Shi Xiang” is a cause for most peoples’ curiosity, and even some caution. That translation is “duck shit fragrance”. However, the story behind this name is rather entertaining, and don’t worry, there is no real use of or connection to duck feces.

Basically, the story goes that the name originates from a tea farmer who wanted to keep some special bushes he had a secret from outsiders. In order to dissuade the outsiders from asking too many questions or showing interest in the bushes, the farmer told them that the dark color of the soil around the bushes was because of the presence of duck feces. Naturally disgusted, the outsiders’ curiosity ended there, at least for the time being.

Thankfully, there is absolutely no resemblance in the aroma or taste of this tea to duck feces. In fact, the aroma and taste are quite the opposite, as you will see in the descriptions below.

You can purchase 25 grams of the Old Bush Ya Shi Xiang (Duck Shit) Oolong Tea from Chaozhou Tea Grower for USD $25.00.

Let’s get to the review…

20171208_103136
Old Bush Ya Shi Xiang Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a mostly uniform dark charcoal gray color, with a few spots of light brown and green-brown. The blend consists mostly of detached, individual large leaf fragments. There are a few mostly bare stems in the blend, which show a two to three leaf pluck. There are no buds in the mix. The leaves are tightly twisted, causing the larger leaves to appear quite long and wiry. The oxidation level appears to be in the low-medium range (25% – 40%), with a strong roast level applied. The aroma has scents of light roast coffee, toasted almonds, dried gardenia, dried lychee, with slight touches of anise and charcoal.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in a 5 ounce (150 mL) porcelain gaiwan, and infused with 200°F (93°C) water for 10 seconds. Each subsequent infusion was given an additional 10 seconds of time.

20171208_104359
Old Bush Ya Shi Xiang Oolong Tea – Liquid

The tea liquid has a bright, pale light yellow color. The aroma has scents of gardenia, honey, lychee, and lighter touches of charcoal and almonds. The body is light-medium, with a balanced, clean texture. There is no astringency. The taste has notes of gardenia, honey, lychee, mineral notes of charcoal and wet stones, and a light note of almonds. The floral gardenia note carries into the aftertaste, and lingers on the breath. The tea has a refreshing, cleansing effect on the palate, and a slight mentholated effect can be felt in the  first couple infusions. Overall, a very refreshing, uplifting energy can be felt from this tea.

20171208_132622
Old Bush Ya Shi Xiang Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves vary in color from dark forest green pale dark green to red-brown, an indication of the light-medium oxidation level permitted. The blend consists mostly of large leaf fragments, with some unbroken leaves, some medium sized fragments, and a few nearly bare stems. There are no buds in the mix. The leaves are quite broad in width, with a leathery texture. The aroma carries the scents of gardenia, honey, wet stones, and lychee.

So, it’s official, the aroma, taste, texture, and appearance at no point of this review reminded me of duck feces. It seems that the origin story is true! So don’t let the interesting name of this tea stop you from trying it, or else you will be missing out on a very good Dancong oolong tea experience. This tea is full of floral, fruity, and mineral character, with a very balanced proportion of each, making this a truly excellent oolong. The leaves will give you a seemingly endless supply of worthy infusions, making the price tag a little easier to accept. And, who doesn’t want to have the opportunity to serve their friends and family something called “Duck Shit Fragrance” oolong tea?! Just wait until you see their faces when you make the suggestion.

Quick side story, there is a very good tea grower in Indonesia named Harendong Organic Tea Estate. To pronounce this name quickly can give it a rather peculiar sound. My family, who were my guinea pigs as non-tea enthusiasts trying different types of tea that I was sourcing back in the day of the Tea Journeyman Shop, still remember when I offered them tea from a farm named Harendong. In fact, my older brother still pulls out the occasional innuendo.

Anyway, thank you to Chaozhou Tea Grower for providing this sample of Old Bush Ya Shi Xiang Oolong Tea. It was definitely worth the wait. Another great Dancong oolong experience! Cheers!

Spring 2017 Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea From TeaVivre

Today, I will be focusing on the Spring 2017 harvest of Huang Shan Green Tea provided by TeaVivre.

The TeaVivre website is among my favorite tea vendor sites because it provides so much interesting content on each of its products, including harvest information, garden information, history, etc. A website with this amount of information on each product is a great credit to the owner of the business, proving that they care about the quality of products they are offering, and actually know and want to teach about the products they are offering. They are not just sourcing cheap teas and selling at retail price to make the most profit. They are proud of where their products are sourced from. Cheers to TeaVivre for their care and efforts!

True Huang Shan Mao Feng green teas are sourced from the Yellow Mountain (HuangShan) in the Anhui province of China. The tea bush used to make this style of tea is of the HuangShan large-leaf type. This type of tea bush is known for the number of buds it produces, and the abundance of downy-like fuzz on those buds. It is also quite cold-tolerant, which is important since it is grown in the mountains.

This particular Huang Shan Mao Feng green tea is sourced from the Dailing Tea Garden, which is owned and operated by Mr. Ke, in Da Guyun Village. Mr. Ke has been working with his family in tea growing since the age of 15.

You can purchase 50 grams of this Spring 2017 Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea for USD $10.90 from the TeaVivre website.

The map below shows the general location of HuangShan.

Let’s get to the review.

20171206_105840
Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a bright, fresh forest green color, with the buds having silver downy-like fuzz on them. The stems have a green-yellow color. The pluck is mostly two leaves and a tender bud intact on the shoot, and a few detached leaf fragments. There are no totally bare stems in the mix. There are no obvious signs of oxidation on the leaves, indicating that the leaves were properly processed to stop the oxidation process very shortly after being harvested. The leaves are very lightly rolled, and have a light, fluffy density. The aroma has scents of fresh hay, light brown sugar, light vanilla, and a touch of pecan and dried chrysanthemum. The aroma is gently sweet and very attractive.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in a 5 ounce (150 mL) porcelain gaiwan, and infused with 175°F (80°C) water for 30 seconds. Each subsequent infusion added another 30 seconds.

20171206_110447
Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a light, green-yellow color. The aroma has scents of chrysanthemums, fresh hay, and lighter scents of steamed asparagus and baby spinach. The body is medium, which is more than I expected, with a very smooth, buttery texture. There is a nice astringency in the earlier infusions, which provides an uplifting energy to the tea. The taste has notes of chrysanthemums, hay, steamed asparagus, and a lighter note of baby spinach. The aftertaste carries the floral notes, and leaves a refreshing, lingering floral essence in the mouth.

20171206_114731
Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh, bright forest green color. There is no reddish tint on any of the leaves, confirming that very minimal oxidation had occurred in the leaves prior to processing, as is expected from a green tea. The leaves, buds, and shoots appear to be rather young and tender. There appears to be signs of bug bites on a few of the leaves, perhaps indicating a lack of chemical pesticides being used on the farm, which is definitely a good thing. The aroma carries the scents of chrysanthemum, hay, grass, and lighter notes of steamed asparagus and baby spinach.

The Spring 2017 Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea from TeaVivre is an excellent example of a classic, world-renowned Chinese green tea. Neither overpowering or underwhelming, this green tea is a perfect way for black tea drinkers to begin their expansion into other styles of tea. The fresh, floral character of this tea provides an uplifting, refreshing experience. The body is fuller than expected, and provides a nice depth of texture that serves as an excellent first impression of the tea liquid as it passes the lips. Tea drinkers who want and prefer that grassy, vegetal punch from a green tea may find this style to be underwhelming and generally unimpressive. But for those who can appreciate the varying styles of green tea, this one will be a highly satisfying experience.

Thank you to TeaVivre for providing this sample of Spring 2017 Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea! I am looking forward to reviewing the other products included with this sample packet. Cheers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s get to the review…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yunnan Graceful Purple “Zi Juan” Green Tea from What-Cha

Today’s review will focus on the Yunnan Graceful Purple “Zi Juan” Green Tea from What-Cha. You may view and purchase this tea on the What-Cha website by clicking here.

Purple tea leaves are a natural phenomenon that has been recognized for a long time, but not necessarily promoted or marketed until the past eight or so years. Basically, it is believed that the tea bushes produce an antioxidant (phenol) pigment called anthocyanin to help protect the bush during times of hot and humid weather. Anthocyanin is also present in blueberries. The enhanced production of anthocyanin in tea bushes gives some of the tea leaves a purplish color.

Some countries, Kenya for example, have put much effort into creating cultivars that are intended to produce more purple tea leaves, hoping that the claimed health benefits will allow the purple tea market to thrive, thus creating more revenues to the tea farms and industry. China has successfully developed a purple tea cultivar known as Zi Juan. The bush that this cultivar was isolated from was found in Menghai, China. This cultivar has been praised for its resistance to excess cold and heat, as well as insects. For a thorough article on purple tea, click here.

Purple teas from China are more frequently found in the form of a sheng pu’er cake, but the Yunnan Graceful Purple “Zi Juan” Green Tea from What-Cha is in loose leaf form. Also, I am always skeptical on the classifications (green, oolong, etc) of purple tea products, and you will see why when you look at the photo of the dry leaves. However, for lack of personal knowledge on how the leaves are processed, I will yield to the description given by the vendor.

The sample packet has been opened, and a scent similar to sheng pu’er is filling the air. Let the journey begin…

Yunnan Graceful Purple "Zi Juan" Green Tea Dry Leaves
Yunnan Graceful Purple “Zi Juan” Green Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a charcoal color, with an occasional purple streak on some leaves. The leaves are almost entirely whole and unbroken, and the pluck consists of one fine leaf enveloping a bud. There are few leaf fragments, a few standalone buds, and no bare stems in the mix. Some of the leaves appear to be lightly twisted. The leaves average about one inch (25 mm) in length, and are quite slender. They have a very dry, somewhat coarse texture, and crack easily into coarse crumbs. The smell has scents of earth (barnyard and hay), forest floor, leather, smoke, and dried dark cherries.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 185°F (85°C). The leaves were infused for 3:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 175°F (80°C). Steep the leaves for 2:00 minutes. Expect three quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves.. Add 30 seconds to each subsequent infusion steep time.

Yunnan Graceful Purple "Zi Juan" Green Tea Infusion
Yunnan Graceful Purple “Zi Juan” Green Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a light pale yellow color and a barely detectable tint of purple, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of earth (hay, forest floor), mineral (wet stones), leather, barnyard, smoke, and light cherry. The body is light, with a smooth, clean texture, and a refreshing character. There is no astringency or bitterness. The taste is fairly complex, with notes of mineral (wet stones), earth (hay, forest floor), light leather, light smoke, light roses, and very light cherry. There is a clean aftertaste with light notes of mineral and hay.

Much like a sheng pu’er, the taste and character of this tea evolves nicely over multiple infusions. As I write this, I am on the third infusion, which I find to be the cleanest tasting and most refreshing of the infusions thus far.

Yunnan Graceful Purple "Zi Juan" Green Tea Infused Leaves
Yunnan Graceful Purple “Zi Juan” Green Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color, with a few showing a reddish-purple tint. The leaves are almost entirely whole and unbroken, with a few medium sized fragments, a few lonely buds, and no stems. The pluck is one fine (unopened) leaf enveloping a bud. The unopened leaves have a long, narrow, sickle-like shape, with an average length of 1.25 inches (31 mm). The leaves have a very smooth texture. The buds of this Zi Juan cultivar are not plump, as compared to those of the Da Bai Hao cultivar. The smell has scents of mineral (wet stones), earth (forest floor, hay), barnyard, leather, and cherry.

Despite descriptions that may seem unpleasant (earthy, leather, barnyard), this Yunnan Graceful Purple “Zi Juan” Green Tea will please the more adventurous tea drinkers and the sheng pu’er lovers. This tea is definitely not a conventional green tea, and if you like grassy, nutty, or vegetal green teas, then this tea is not going to meet those requirements. On the other hand, if you like mineral, earthy, complex aromas and tastes, then give this tea a try. The clean, refreshing character of this tea is very satisfying. If you do not care for the first infusion, do not give up on the tea. As I mentioned above, I most enjoyed this tea with the third infusion. This tea will provide you with an interesting and unique experience, regardless of your preferences.

Thanks again to the management of What-Cha for providing this sample of Yunnan Graceful Purple “Zi Juan” Green Tea. Cheers!

Organic White Peony (Bai Mu Dan) White Tea from TeaVivre

For those of you who did not see the photographic evidence that I posted to my social networks late last evening, I have officially completed the organization of all of my tea samples! This was a huge victory for me, as the various boxes were really stacking up in my storage room, and thus causing me anxiety every time I opened the door to this room. But, that is no longer a problem, and all samples are sorted by country of origin. I would have preferred to organize by region, but I ran out of boxes. Oh well. Here is the photo of my “organized” tea samples.

Organized Tea Samples
Organized Tea Samples

Again, I found many good samples that had been lost in the chaos. As someone who has recently made huge changes to dieting and lifestyle, I have been focusing more specifically on organic products in general, including tea. I was excited to find several organic tea samples, including this Organic White Peony (Bai Mu Dan) from TeaVivre. If you are passionate about organic products, and want to try a light and satisfying white tea, visit the TeaVivre homepage! You can get 1.75 ounces (50 grams) of Organic White Peony Tea for $10.90. TeaVivre has a large variety of fresh, natural, and high quality Chinese teas, many of which are organic! There are many tea retailers out there offering Chinese teas, but few have the assortment that TeaVivre offers.

This Organic White Peony Tea comes from Mount Taimu, Fuding County, Fujian Province, in eastern China. Fuding is very highly respected for the white tea produced here, especially the White Peony and Silver Needle teas. The difference between White Peony and Silver Needle white teas is quite simple. White Peony uses a two leaf and bud pluck. Silver Needle is usually a very fine unopened leaf enveloping a fresh tea bud. This Organic White Peony from TeaVivre is produced using leaves harvested from the Da Bai (Large White) and Da Hao (Large Hair) cultivar tea bushes.

The sample packet has been opened, and a sweet, floral, and robust scent is escaping the packet. Let the journey begin…

Organic White Peony Bai Mu Dan Tea Dry Leaves
Organic White Peony Bai Mu Dan Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves range in color from bright green to forest green, and light brown to dark brown, with some of the leaves being covered in fine silver downy-like hairs. The buds appear white from the abundance of silver hairs, and are needle shaped. The thin stems are dark brown. The pluck is two fine leaves and a long bud. The leaves have a smooth, light, and crisp texture. Many of the leaves are whole, but the majority are medium to large fragments. Considering the small sample packets that the leaves were packed into, I would expect the leaves to arrive in better condition if purchased in the retail quantity and packaging. Many of the leaves and buds are detached from the stems, but there are no bare stems in the mix. The smell carries scents of hay, tea roses, dried cherry, dark honey, and light burgundy wine.

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

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 185°F (85°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 minutes. Expect three quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves. Add 30 seconds to each subsequent infusion.

Organic White Peony Bai Mu Dan Tea Infusion
Organic White Peony Bai Mu Dan Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright, pale golden-yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma carries scents of hay, dandelion, light honey, lemon, and cedar wood. The body is light-medium, with a surprisingly round and robust texture. The taste has notes of hay, dandelion, lemon, cedar wood, light honey, and burgundy wine. The aftertaste carries the hay, lemon, and burgundy notes. There is a moderate level of astringency. Overall, this is a very nicely rounded white tea!

Organic White Peony Bai Mu Dan Tea Infused Leaves
Organic White Peony Bai Mu Dan Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fairly uniform fresh forest green color, with the buds being slightly lighter green, and the stems light brown. The leaves are mostly medium to large fragments, with some whole leaves in the mix. The buds are all whole, with an average length of about 1 inch (25 mm). The stems show a pluck of two leaves and a bud. The leaves all have a soft, smooth, fairly delicate texture. The smell carries scents of hay, dandelion, wood, and light burgundy wine.

The Organic White Peony (Bai Mu Dan) Tea from TeaVivre is a good quality, organic, and reasonably priced white tea. More robust and flavorful than the Silver Needle styles of white tea, this Organic White Peony has much to offer in terms of aroma and taste over at least three infusions. With caffeine levels high enough to keep your eyes open, but low enough to not hinder sleep, this is a great tea to enjoy at any time during the day or evening, unless you are very sensitive to caffeine. This is a good every day use type of white tea, inexpensive compared to Silver Needle, and consistent through multiple infusions. Click Here to go to the TeaVivre website, and find the Organic White Peony under the White – Organic category.

Thanks to Angel at TeaVivre for supplying this sample of Organic White Peony (Bai Mu Dan) Tea. Cheers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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