Yun Bi Oolong Tea from Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership in Thailand

I always get excited to receive samples from a new source, especially when it is a new tea farm looking to get some well-deserved attention for their products.We all know that I have come to love the teas from Thailand, specifically the oolong teas. So when the Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership contacted me to request that I review two of their oolong teas and one green tea, I did not hesitate for one moment to accept the generous request. Let me thank the management team at Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership for their generosity!

Today, I will be focusing on the Yun Bi Oolong Tea. This is an organically grown high mountain oolong tea. The raw tea leaves are harvested from the TTES # 12 (Jin Xuan) cultivar.

The Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership is located in Bhan Khun Wang, Tambon Mae Win, Amphoe Mae Wang, Chiang Mai Province, north Thailand. The garden cultivates only five acres (2.02 hectares) of land, and of these five acres, only about half is covered in tea. The cultivars grown are the TTES #17 (Qing Xin) and TTES #12 (Jin Xuan). The tea garden has an average altitude above 1,500 meters (4,900 feet). The factory focuses completely on the production of oolong and green tea. A Google map of the Bhan Khun Wang area is provided below. For more information on the Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership, please visit their website here.

The sample packet has been opened, and the appearance of this tea is quite different than any other oolong tea that I have seen. Let the journey begin…

Yun Bi Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
Yun Bi Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a fairly consistent color of dark greenish-black, with plenty of goldish tips in the mix. The leaves appear to be all large fragments and a very high number of whole leaves with stems and buds intact. The uniform appearance indicates hand processing from the pluck to rolling. The leaves appear to be quite small compared to those used in semi-ball shaped oolongs. The pluck is varied, with some showing a single leaf and bud, and others showing two leaves and bud. From the color, the oxidation level looks quite high, with my guess being about 40%, give or take 10%. The leaves also appear to be roasted significantly. The aroma has scents of brown sugar, sweet wood, cinnamon, and fresh baked bread. The appearance and aroma of the dry leaves are both intriguing and impressive!

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° (90°C). Infuse the leaves for 2:00 to 2:30 minutes for the first infusion. Expect at least three or four quality infusions out the same serving of leaves. Decrease the infusion time on the second infusion to 1:00 to 1:30 minutes, then add 15 to 30 seconds to each additional infusion.

Yun Bi Oolong Tea Infusion
Yun Bi Oolong Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright golden-yellow color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of cream, light brown sugar, light vanilla, light wood, cinnamon, and light flowers. The body is medium, with a silky, creamy texture. The taste has quite an array of descriptions, with notes of wood, cream, brown sugar, vanilla, peaches, flowers, and very light cooked leafy vegetables. The aftertaste is sweetly floral, and a persistent floral bouquet can be felt on the breath.

Yun Bi Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Yun Bi Oolong Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a consistent fresh forest green color, with some minor reddish hints around the edges, and brown stems. The oxidation does not seem as high now that the leaves have been infused. These leaves are 99% whole and unbroken! I found very few fragments in the sample, further indicating the careful hand plucking and hand processing of the leaves. The leaves are quite small and many appear young, with the majority measuring well under one inch (25 mm), and very few measuring over 1.5 inches (38 mm). The leaves are fairly narrow. Their is a generous portion of nicely developed buds, and the pluck varies from three leaves and no bud to one leaf and a large bud. The aroma has scents of vanilla, sweet wet wood, light cooked vegetables, a touch of cinnamon, light peach, and light flowers.

I have reviewed many teas whose manufacturers have claimed that the entire production process is completed by hand, but few teas have proven this claim so clearly as this Yun Bi Oolong Tea from Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership. This tea was among the most interesting reviews, from the dry leaves to the infused leaves, that I have completed on this blog. It is amazing to see such small farms do what Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership is doing. If you read their website (I linked to it in the introduction above), you will see what the land was used for before it was rehabilitated and turned into tea, Chinese Mulberry, and Japanese persimmons. Amazingly, I can still taste all of the old crops, such as the peaches from the peach orchards, and the leafy green vegetables. This tea paints a very clear picture of the history of the land, as well as the care that goes into manufacturing it. I feel like I could write a book about this tea alone. It is seriously that interesting to me.

With that being said, I will cut the rambling off here. What I will say is that I simply cannot wait to get to the other two samples from Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership. Another thank you to the management and all of the workers at Doi Inthanon for producing these amazing teas, and for the generosity in sending them to me. This has been a very noteworthy experience, and I look forward to watching this garden grow and develop! Cheers!

Advertisements

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!

Jing Shuan Oolong Tea from Daokrajai Lanna Thai Teas

I cannot wait until the Spring finally hits the western Pennsylvania area and the number of sicknesses being recycled in schools and offices begin to dwindle. My son honestly got sick maybe once in the two years of his life prior to going to daycare. Now he is sick more often than he is completely healthy, and the same applies to me. My senses of smell and taste have been completely useless over the past week, but I can wait no longer. I have received so many interesting samples since I first lost my smell, and I have been itching to get to these reviews.

This review will focus on the Jing Shuan oolong tea from Daokrajai Lanna Thai Teas. The tea farms’ total acreage of 550 acres is divided between two plantations located slightly over an hour away from Chiang Rai city in northern Thailand. One plantation is in higher elevations, and the other plantation is in lower elevations.

You will be seeing a substantial amount of reviews posted in the near future of products from Daokrajai, and I am excited about that fact. In fact, many of my upcoming reviews will be focusing on teas from regions that are relatively new to me, such as Napal, South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand. I am also hoping to come up with samples from Vietnam and Turkey in the near future. Plus, a few good samples from Malawi are waiting for my time, as well.

Anyway, back to the Jing Shuan oolong. As you may have figured out by the name, this oolong is produced from the leaves of TTES 12 (Jin Xuan) cultivar bushes that were imported to Thailand from Taiwan. The farms use organic methods to care for their tea bushes, and all tea leaves are hand plucked.

Being an enthusiast for Taiwan high mountain wulongs, especially Jin Xuan teas, I am interested to see how the tea masters at Daokrajai have developed their strategies for growing and processing the Jin Xuan bushes, and how the results compare to the Jin Xuan products of Taiwan. In the near future, I will compare this product to two Jin Xuan products from Taiwan that I have in my collection, one being quite expensive and the other having an average cost.

The sample packet has been opened, and the familiar sweet scent of light brown sugar and sweet milk is reviving my sense of smell. Let the journey begin…

image

The dry leaves have a pale dark green to dark green color. The leaves are formed into dense semi-ball shapes, having an average size of a pea. The leaves appear to be mostly whole, many having the stem attached. The aroma is sweet, with scents of light brown sugar and sweet milk.

Four grams of dry leaves were placed in a 9.4 ounce (280 ml) Tokoname kyusu teapot. However, the teapot was filled with roughly 7 ounces (210 ml) of water to compensate for the lower weight of dry leaves. Filtered tap water was heated to 190ºF (88ºC). The leaves were infused for three minutes on the first infusion, one minute on the second infusion, and two minutes on the third infusion.

image

The first infusion produced a liquor with a pale yellow-light gold color, clear and transparent. The aroma is sweet, with scents of light brown sugar, sweet cream, and a hint of orchid flowers. The body was medium, with a creamy, silky texture. The taste had notes of sweet cream, orchids, light brown sugar, and a very light citrus hint. The finish was very smooth to the point where I barely noticed I was swallowing anything. The aftertaste was lightly sweet at first, and gradually converted to a floral essence, reminiscent of a Taiwan wulong.

image

The second infusion produced a liquor with a lighter shade of pale yellow color. The aroma remains sweet and lightly floral. The body remains medium, with a creamy texture. The taste maintains the same characteristics, and any lightness can be attributed to the significant difference in infusion time. To explain briefly why I cut down on time so much, I always find the second infusion of most Taiwan wulongs to be quite time-sensitive. A difference of thirty seconds causing the second infusion to become somewhat vegetal. This tea, on the other hand, I believe could have withstood an extra thirty seconds and not had such an effect. I will test this theory on the third infusion, and infuse the leaves for two minutes.

image

The third infusion produced a liquor with a color nearly identical to the second infusion. The aroma has balanced some, lightening on the sweet scents, giving the floral scent more definition. The body has lightened some. The taste has lightened also, but there are some interesting changes in taste to this infusion. The sweet cream has lightened significantly, but the citrus (lemon) hint has become much more prominent, and is creating quite an enjoyable combination with the orchid notes. The creaminess can be felt most in the finish and aftertaste. A lighter, but no less enjoyable infusion than the second.

image

The infused leaves have a dark forest green color to them, with some leaves displaying the common reddish edges. The leaves display the long, broad leaves that are characteristic of the Jin Xuan cultivar. The pluck varies, with some stems displaying anywhere from a five leaf and bud to three leaf and bud pluck. The leaves are either whole or almost whole, most attached to the stem, some loose. The aroma is sweet and floral, maintaining scents of sweet milk and orchids.

Among the reasons that I chose this out of the twenty plus samples from Daokrajai to sample first was my interest in seeing how a Jin Xuan from Thailand can compete with a Jin Xuan from it’s native Taiwan. I can say with confidence that this Jing Shuan from Daokrajai can certainly compete with many Taiwan Jin Xuan teas. In fact, I will give the Daokrajai Jing Shuan a higher mark than most of the Taiwan Jin Xuans for the fact that there was not a hint of vegetal quality to any of the three infusions, regardless of infusion time. I also like how the taste evolved from being dominated by notes of sweet cream to orchid in the second infusion, then orchid to citrus (lemon) in the third infusion. Even the fourth infusion, which I did test, maintained the citrusy dominance. It was quite enjoyable. I am impressed with the quality of this product from Daokrajai, and I think any fan of wulong and Jin Xuan will appreciate this tea.

Thank you to John and Kelly, who introduced me to the Daokrajai Lanna Thai Teas and provided samples. And as always, thank you to the workers and employees at Daokrajai. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed. I look forward to the many reviews coming up in the near future. Cheers!

Thank you for taking your time to read this review. Please leave a comment and start a discussion.

Amber Oolong Tea from Mountain Tea

Over the past three months, I have reviewed a number of Jin Xuan (milk) wulong products from various companies. Today’s review is another Jin Xuan wulong, but it is quite different. This Amber Oolong from Mountain Tea has an oxidation of 30%, and a 50% roast. Although I do not have a specific percentage of roasts on the other Jin Xuan teas that I have reviewed, I can tell you that they are nowhere near 50%. I know the tastes and characteristics of “greener” Jin Xuan teas quite well, so I am excited to see how the higher oxidation and roasting levels will affect the attributes of the aroma and flavor.

The Jin Xuan tea bushes are grown in the Wushe Mountains of central Taiwan, at an average elevation of 1,500 meters (4,500 feet) about sea level.

The sample packet has been opened, and the smell is quite intriguing … Let the journey begin…

Amber Oolong Dry Leaves
Amber Oolong Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform hazey brownish-tan, roasted color. The leaves are in the standard semi-ball shape. Some leaves have a stem attached. Leaves appear to be mostly unbroken, but there are some crumbs present from roasting. The aroma is quite complex, with different scents appearing with each inhale. At first, scents of char, wood, and cocoa are most noticeable. With additional inhales, scents of baked apples, light brown sugar, and cinnamon can be felt.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an 8.5 ounce (240 ml) kyusu teapot. Filtered tap water was heated to 190°F (90°C). Leaves were infused for one minute thirty seconds.

Amber Oolong 1st Infusion
Amber Oolong 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a light amber (orange with a brown tint) color, clear and transparent. The aroma is bakey, with scents of toast, fruit juice, and a light floral character. The body is medium, with a lush, juicy feel. The taste reminds me of a light liquid form of hot apple pie, having notes of baked butter, apples, light brown sugar, and a very light spice (cinnamon). The aftertaste is bakey and floral, and lingering. I was sad to get to the bottom of this cup. The taste of apple was so obvious that I thought I was mistaking another taste. Additional infusions produced the same general results.

Amber Oolong 2nd Infusion
Amber Oolong 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor that had a much darker amber color. The aroma was juicy, to best describe it, and retained the toasty character, slightly floral. The body remained medium. The taste was bolder than the first infusion, and reminded me more of apple cider than apple pie. It was juicy, and had a noticeable spice (cinnamon) to it. I liked the first infusion better, but this was very interesting.

Amber Oolong 3rd Infusion
Amber Oolong 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a shade of amber color that was slightly lighter than the second infusion, but darker than the first. The aroma remains toasty and juicy, with light floral. The taste has balanced out nicely, having the baked apple, spice, and light brown sugar notes. The feel is more lush than the first infusion, but not as bold as the second. The third infusion has been the best of the three, in my opinion. The bakey and floral aftertaste has been retained through all three infusions.

Although I did not bother taking photos of additional infusions, I did infuse these leaves three more times before retiring them. Even in the sixth infusion, this tea provided a great aroma and taste experience.

Amber Oolong Infused Leaves
Amber Oolong Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform copper color. Most of the leaves are full, with some tears or holes in the leaves due to processing. Some stems have up to three leaves attached. The leaves certainly have the characteristics of the Jin Xuan cultivar, being long and broad. The aroma is roasty, with slight wood, spice, and floral notes.

On a quick side note, I used the remaining product in the sample packet in a professional ceramic tasting set, used purified water instead of filtered tap water, and extended the brew time on the first infusion to two minutes. I ended up getting completely different results, with the aroma and taste being mostly roasty, with toast, slight apple, and floral notes.

I may have to order another sample (or more) of this Amber Oolong just to see if I can replicate the results from the review above. Honestly, if that taste can be replicated, then this is an instant favorite of mine. I have never had a tea, especially a roasted variety, with such an obvious apple taste. Rest assured, this taste did not come from other sources, as I eat maybe one apple every couple of months. Whether the taste reminded me of apple cider or apple pie, I found it truly intriguing and tasteful. My greatest fear with this product is that I will not be able to mimic these results in future brewing. Regardless, this experience was great, and I look forward to having it in the future. Thank you to Mountain Tea for providing the sample. Cheers!

Taiwan Jin Xuan Milk Oolong Tea from Teavivre

As I returned to my daily profession on Friday, after two and half days of holiday celebration, I was comforted by the gift of an attractive silver package from Teavivre. Among these samples, Da Hong Pao Rock Wulong (Wuyi, China), Jin Xuan Milk Oolong (Alishan, Taiwan), Lu An Gua Pian Green (Anhui, China), Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui Green (Anhui, China), and Yunnan Dian Hong Black (Fengqing, China). I cannot think of a more welcoming package of teas to receive.

Today, I decided to start off my reviews of the Teavivre products with the Jin Xuan Milk Oolong. Pure, unflavored Jin Xuan is among my favorite varieties of Taiwanese wulongs. Any time I have an opportunity to sample this variety of wulong, I take it. Since my loose leaf tea brand, He Cha Tea, currently offers pure, unflavored Jin Xuan, it is always insightful to compare it with other brands. Thankfully, to this point, the Jin Xuan that my brand offers, which we call Mount Ali Milk Oolong, has been the best that I have tried. Thus my continuing to purchase from that source. However, I will never stop trying to find better products and good sources. It appears that Teavivre’s Jin Xuan is grown slightly north of my current source, being from the Alishan area of Nantou County. My current source is from Mei Shan Township, located in the Alishan region of Chiayi county, slightly south of Nantou County.

That being said, let’s give Teavivre a well earned fair shake. Let the journey begin…

image

The dry leaves of this Jin Xuan were light to dark green in color. The leaves were in the common rolled semi-ball shape. Leaves appear to be mostly fully intact and still attached to the stem. Some leaves have no stem attached. The classic Jin Xuan aroma is present, offering scents of milk, heated butter, and some sweeter scents of brown sugar and molasses.

Four grams of dry leaves were placed in the 8.5 ounce (240 ml) kyusu teapot. Filtered tap water was heated to 205ºF (96ºC). Leaves were infused for three minutes.

image

The first infusion had a light golden yellow color with a slight green tint, clear and transparent. The aroma had scents of cream, heated butter, honey, sweet vegetables, and orchids. The body was on the lighter side of medium, with the classic creamy mouth feel of Jin Xuan. The taste had notes of cream, light honey, sweet vegetables, and orchid flowers. The aftertaste had a lasting floral taste with a touch of sweet cream. The essence of flowers can be felt in the sinuses for a noteworthy duration. No doubt about it, this is a very good Jin Xuan. It is good enough to do a side by side comparison with the current Jin Xuan from He Cha Tea. The other Jin Xuans that I have tried were not even close in quality to my current product, thus never got to the side by side comparison level.  But this Teavivre Jin Xuan is definitely worthy of further evaluation. Let’s see what the second and third infusions can offer.

image

The second infusion has a slightly darker shade of color to it. The aroma was quite similar to the first, with a slight lightening of the cream and butter scents. The taste balanced out nicely, lightening on the cream and making the sweet vegetable taste more apparent. Nothing negative to report on the second infusion.

image

The shade of the third infusion lightened some, being more similar to the first infusion. Again, the aroma maintained much of it’s character, but lightened on the cream and butter scents, and strengthened on the sweet vegetables. The body lightened some, and the taste again lightened on the cream and the notes of sweet vegetables became more apparent. Not quite as good of a balance as the second infusion, but still a very good tasting infusion. I am still enjoying a decently long flowery essence in the sinuses.

image

The infused leaves had a uniform dark earthy green color to them, with some reddish edges. Most of the leaves are fully intact, and others are large fragments. The typical Taiwanese wulong pick of the bud and three leaves is apparent. Some leaves are detached from the stems, but most are attached. There are some very nice Jin Xuan specimens in these leaves that show off the long, yet broad leaves that are characteristic of the Jin Xuan cultivar (see photo below). The leaves have a smooth, leathery feel, and are durable enough to suggest that an additional infusion or two may be expected to produce an acceptable flavor. The leaves gave off a buttery, sweet vegetable scent.

image

My current studies have informed me that the popularity of the Jin Xuan cultivar is on the decline in Taiwan. It appears that it was very popular in the 1990’s in Taiwan, but the people have since moved on to new favorites. Hopefully the growing market in the U.S. will give these farmers enough incentive to keep this tasteful and unique cultivar on their farms.

To the fine people at Teavivre, this first review of your Jin Xuan Milk Oolong was a nice success! Although I always hope that the Jin Xuan that I sample is not better than my current product, I have to admit that your Jin Xuan is worthy of taking the next step and having a side by side tasting. Looks like Jin Xuan is going to be the story of my night, and that is not a complaint! Thank you very much, Teavivre, for giving me an opportunity to sample your Jin Xuan, and I am certainly excited to move on to your other samples. Cheers!

Thank you for taking your time to read this review. Please leave a comment and start a discussion.