Alishan Jinxuan Oolong Tea From Taiwan M’s Tea

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

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

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

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

Let’s get to the review…

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Alishan Jinxuan Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

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

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

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Alishan Jinxuan Oolong Tea – Liquid

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

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Alishan Jinxuan Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

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

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

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

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Jade Tea from Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership in Thailand

Today, I will be focusing on the Jade Tea from the Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership. This is an organically grown high mountain green 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. For more information on the Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership, please visit their website here.

The sample packet has been opened, and the leaves are definitely hand plucked and hand rolled. Let the journey begin…

Doi Inthanon Jade Green Tea Dry Leaves
Doi Inthanon Jade Green Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a dark cloudy green color, with some variation in the darkness of the leaves. There is an impressive amount of silver tips. The leaves are all whole, unbroken leaves. There are no crumbs or fragments whatsoever. The pluck is mostly two tender leaves and the bud, or one tender leaf and the bud. The buds are fairly mature. The leaves are obviously hand plucked, and hand rolled. There was much attention and care put in to the plucking and processing of these leaves. The leaves appear to be pan-fired. It looks like there was a little oxidation that occurred, but certainly less than the Yun Bi oolong tea from Doi Inthanon. I would guess that the oxidation percentage would be about 10%, making this a “green oolong”, as opposed to a true green tea. The aroma has scents of fresh baked bread, toasted seeds, stewed peaches, molasses or brown sugar, and light grass. The aroma seems to jump right out of the packet.

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 for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 175° (75°C). Infuse the leaves for 1:30 to 2:00 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.

Doi Inthanon Jade Green Tea Infusion
Doi Inthanon Jade Green Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a light yellowish-jade green color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of toasted seeds, steamed leafy green vegetables, light peach, light brown sugar, and light valley flowers. The body is medium, with a smooth, almost brothy texture. The taste has notes of toasted seeds, steamed leafy green vegetables, valley flowers, light wood, and light peach. There is a mild astringency, and no bitterness. The aftertaste leans to the grassy and steamed vegetable notes, but the essence left on the breath is pleasantly floral.

Doi Inthanon Jade Green Tea Infused Leaves
Doi Inthanon Jade Green Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a perfectly uniform fresh light forest green color. I am still guessing the oxidation level to be about 10%. All the leaves and buds are whole and unbroken. There is not a single broken piece, fragment, or crumb in the sample! The pluck is either two fine leaves and a bud, or one fine leaf and a bud. The leaves are quite small and fine, with a soft, thin texture. The buds are fairly mature, with an average length of about 0.8 of an inch (20 mm). The uniformity of the size of the leaves and buds is very impressive. The aroma has scents of toasted seeds, valley flowers, light stewed peach, light wood, and cooked leafy green vegetables. Below is an extra photo of some of the individual infused leaves.

Doi Inthanon Jade Green Tea Infused Leaves Closeup
Doi Inthanon Jade Green Tea Infused Leaves Closeup

Interestingly, I did not sense any of the cream or milk characteristics that the Jin Xuan (TTES # 12) cultivar is renowned for providing. Not that this fact took away any of the pleasure I had in trying this tea, but it is an observation with this Jade Tea, as well as the Yun Bi Tea, which was also produced from the leaves of the Jin Xuan cultivar. With that being said, this tea had much to offer! The beautiful, masterfully cared for appearance of the dry leaves, the bright and lively color of the infusion, and the uniformity and wholeness of the infused leaves, were all very visually impressive! As noted earlier, the aroma of the dry leaves jumps out of the package. The tea itself has a great energy, and a satisfying texture. The taste was dominant with toasted seeds and steamed leafy green vegetables, providing a healthy taste that makes your body feel happier with each sip. This is another great product from Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership!

I am sad to say that I have only one product from Doi Inthanon left to review. That is the Luan Tze oolong. Thanks to Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership for providing these impressive samples! Cheers!

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!

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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.