Si Ji Chun Oolong Tea From Taiwan M’s Tea

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

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

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

Let’s get to the review…

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Si Ji Chun Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

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

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

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Si Ji Chun Oolong Tea – Liquid

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

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Si Ji Chun Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

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

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

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

 

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Mixiang Hongcha Black Tea From Taiwan M’s Tea

Today, I will focus on the Mixiang Hongcha, also known as Honey Black Tea, from Taiwan M’s Tea.

This tea is generally made from the harvested leaves of TTES # 13 cultivar bushes (Tsuiyu), and are grown at around 500 meters altitude (1,600 feet) in Nantou County, Taiwan. The leaves are allowed to oxidize over 50%, then given a heavy roast. The Mixiang Hongcha is another of Taiwan’s bug bitten style of teas, so I expect to smell and taste honey in the tea. I am also interested in seeing how this tea will differ from the Ruby # 18 Black Tea that I reviewed recently.

Let’s get to the review…

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Mixiang Hongcha Black Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a mostly uniform charcoal-grey-black color, with a few dark red-brown areas, indicating that there is not full oxidation to the leaves. There are also a few small gold tips, and a few bare stems in the mix. The leaves are lightly rolled. The pluck varies from one small leaf and small bud to individual unbroken leaves with no stem attached. The mix consists mostly of large fragments and unbroken leaves. The heavy roast causes the leaves to crack fairly easily into coarse crumbs. The aroma has scents of anise, dry forest floor, honey, dried apples, and a touch of orchid.

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

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Mixiang Hongcha Black Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a bright, radiant orange-red color. The aroma has scents of anise, apple, honey, and touches of malt and toasted grains. The body is full, with a layered, juicy texture. There is a pleasant, balanced astringency. The taste has notes of apple, honey, anise, and touches of malt and toasted grains. The aftertaste is sweet and mellow.

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Mixiang Hongcha Black Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a dark forest green to dark brown color. The mix consists of large fragments, unbroken leaves, a few bare stems, and a few smaller buds. The leaves are fairly long and narrow. Most of the leaves are individually plucked, with no stem attached. The aroma has scents of apple, honey, anise, and malt.

The Mixiang Hongcha Black Tea from Taiwan M’s Tea is another example of the diversity and quality of specialty teas being made in Taiwan. This black tea is very different than the Ruby # 18 Black Tea that I reviewed recently, which is also from Taiwan. Both black teas are remarkable in their own rite. This Mixiang Hongcha is sweeter, and has a touch of the malt aroma and flavor typical in black teas. The Ruby # 18 (Hongyu Hongcha) is spicy and herbal, dominated by notes of mint and licorice. The texture of this Mixiang Hongcha is another highlighter, having a layered and juicy texture, which reminds me of apple juice or apple cider. The mild astringency also adds another layer of taste. The scent of the infused leaves is also very pleasant and comforting.

Thank you to Taiwan M’s Tea for providing this sample of Mixiang Hongcha Black Tea! When this company has a functional website, I will try and remember to update these posts with pricing and links.

Hongyu Hongcha Ruby # 18 Black Tea From Fong Mong Tea

Today, I will be reviewing the Hongyu Hongcha Ruby # 18 Black Tea from Fong Mong Tea. You may purchase 100 grams of this tea for USD $26.99.

This Hongyu Hongcha Ruby # 18 Black Tea is sourced from the Sun Moon Lake area of Nantou County, Taiwan. The climate of Sun Moon Lake makes it ideal for growing some world-class teas. Ruby # 18 (TTES 18) is also the name of the cultivar of tea bushes that the leaves are hand-plucked from. See the map below to get an idea of the location of Sunmoon Lake.

Let’s get to the review.

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Hongyu Hongcha Ruby # 18 Black Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark charcoal-black color (fully oxidized). The leaves appear to be medium to large size fragments. There are a few small bare stems in the mix, and no apparent buds. The leaves are lightly rolled. The aroma has scents of dried apricot, molasses, lavender, and a touch of pine. This is a very unique aroma, and I am looking forward to how it evolves in the cup.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in a 250 ml (8.5 ounces) bizen-ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 200°F water for 1:00 minute.

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Hongyu Hongcha Ruby # 18 Black Tea – Liquid

The tea liquid has a bright, clear, orange-red color. The aroma is very interesting, with scents of apricot, molasses, licorice, mint, and a touch of lavender and pine. The body is full, with a layered, complex texture, and a brisk character. The taste is complex and amazing, with dominant notes of licorice, mint, and pine, with less dominant notes of molasses and even coffee, and a light touch of lavender. The aftertaste carries the notes of licorice, pine, and a touch of the lavender, with a mentholated effect.

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Hongyu Hongcha Ruby # 18 Black Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform copper-brown color. The leaves consist of all medium to large size leaf fragments. There are a few buds in the mix, as well as a few bare stems. The leaves have a thin, smooth wet leathery feel. Again, the aroma is the most noteworthy characteristic of the wet leaves. It has strong, deep scents of licorice and mint. I also pick up on a scent that I do not know how to describe any better than that of classic bubblegum. There are also lighter scents of lavender and pine. This is a very memorable aroma.

With all due respect to the many amazing teas I have reviewed this year, I have to be honest in saying that this Hongyu Hongcha Ruby # 18 Black Tea has really captured my attention, and burned itself into my organoleptic memory unlike other teas, specifically the taste of the liquid and the aroma of the infused leaves. The combination of herbal spiciness, sweetness, touch of floral and pine, and the brisk, layered character of the liquid is simply mind boggling. It had a flavor profile that was so clearly identifiable, and each flavor was so distinct from one another. This is a luxurious, rich tea that will certainly draw and hold the attention of whoever is lucky enough to experience it. I have had other Ruby # 18 black teas before, but none were as rich in flavor as this one from Fong Mong Tea. The aroma of the infused leaves is my second most noteworthy aspect of this tea. Again, with the licorice and mint sweet/spiciness, and the lighter touches of lavender and pine, and the “bubblegum” scent that I cannot shake from my memory. It was truly an awesome experience, and the highlight of my day.

Go to the link at the top of this page, and buy this tea. You can thank me later.

And thank you to Fong Mong Tea for supplying this sample of Hongyu Hongcha Ruby # 18 Black Tea. Cheers!

Taiwanese Pekoe White Tea from Fong Mong Tea

Today, I will be reviewing a white tea from Taiwan. Many thanks again to Fong Mong Tea for providing this sample. I have never had a white tea from Taiwan before, so I am quite excited for the new experience.

This white tea is first harvested from wild mountain tea bushes (Wild Shan Cha) in Nantou county (see map below) in the spring and winter seasons. The altitude of the tea garden is about 5,900 feet (1,800 meters) above sea level. The tea leaves are not bruised, rolled, or altered in any way, permitting them to naturally oxidize to light degree before being fired. The leaves are unroasted, and not shaped in any way prior to packaging, leaving them light, fluffy, crisp, and natural looking, as if they fell off the tea bush and dried on the ground.

Below are some beautiful images provided by Fong Mong Tea of the tea gardens, bushes, leaves, and the local insects that live happily among the bushes.

The photos with the butterflies and lady bug are awesome. As a weak attempt to spare myself some masculinity, I want you all to know that I play ice hockey and football regularly! And yes, I do take tea as my beverage in an insulated travel water bottle when I play! And yes, my teammates do know that I have tea in the water bottle! No, they do not make fun of me for it (usually)!

Don’t forget to check out Fong Mong Tea on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!

You can purchase 30 grams of this tea at the Fong Mong Tea website for USD $21.99. This price includes shipping costs.

Anyway … Let’s get to the review.

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Taiwanese Pekoe White Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from light forest green to very dark (almost black) green, to light reddish brown, and some silver on the buds. There is much to appreciate about the visual qualities of this tea. Its appearance is most comparable to the more common Chinese white peony teas. The oxidation is easy to observe in the leaves, as well as the delicate handling during processing. The pluck is mostly one or two leaves and a mature bud, but there are a few with three leaves and a mature bud. The mix consists of many unbroken leaves and buds, and large fragments. There are no bare stems in the mix. The leaves are very fluffy, crisp, and delicate, breaking easily into small fragments and crumbs. The aroma is truly incredible, among one of the most attractive aromas I have ever smelled in a tea. There are scents of dried papaya, dried apricots, vanilla beans, orange blossoms, wild honey, and dried autumn leaves. It is one of the fruitiest smelling teas I have experienced. I cannot pull my nose away from the cup holding these leaves.

The dry leaves were placed in a porcelain gaiwan and infused with 185°F water for 1:00 minutes. Ten seconds were added to each subsequent infusion time.

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Taiwanese Pekoe White Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a bright, inviting, honey-like yellow color. The aroma again is remarkable, with scents of papaya, apricot, peach, orange blossom, vanilla, wild honey, and autumn leaves. The body is medium, with a lush, juicy, luxurious texture. The taste continues to highly impress, with the same notes of apricot, peach, papaya, orange blossom, wild honey, autumn leaves, vanilla, and a touch of wet stones for a nice mineral note. Undoubtedly the fruitiest tasting tea I have ever experienced. The aftertaste continues the fruity, floral, and light mineral notes, and lingers on the breath patiently.

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Taiwanese Pekoe White Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a blend of color including fresh, pale forest green and reddish brown. Many of the leaves are unbroken, and the remaining leaves are large fragments. They have a fairly thick, hearty texture. There is a generous portion of mature buds, and some younger buds, and no bare stems. The oxidation levels of the leaves varies greatly, a consequence of the natural and unadulterated oxidation process. I enjoyed observing these leaves so much, that I took several additional photos, included below. The aroma continues to amaze, with the sweet scents of papaya, apricot, peach, orange blosson, autumn leaves, and wild honey.

I am not sure where to even begin my concluding statements on the Taiwanese Pekoe White Tea. It was fantastic, delicious, amazing, jaw-dropping … place any of your best descriptive words here … from the dry leaves to the liquid to the wet leaves. There was no aspect of this tea that was anything less than the highest quality. With the dry leaves, I could not stop smelling them. With the liquid, I could not stop infusing the leaves and drinking that nectar. These poor leaves did not know what they were in for when they got packaged and shipped to me. With the wet leaves, I could not stop playing with them and taking photos. I think the hardest part of my day today will be eventually disposing of these leaves. I may just have to show them the highest respect, put them in a container, take them home and lay them to rest in my vegetable patch. They are too good for the trash can.

The dominantly fruity, sweet aroma and taste of this tea is beyond words. The texture of the liquid is truly luxurious. The aftertaste is beautiful, like most Taiwanese teas boast. I give a standing ovation to the tea master that created this tea. Bravo!

At the request of Fong Mong Tea, I have returned to posting reviews on Steepster. Click here to see my review of the Taiwanese Pekoe White Tea.

The sincerest thank you to Fong Mong Tea for including this sample of Pekoe White Tea! What an awesome, amazing tea experience. I hope the rest of the long weekend goes as well as my Friday morning did because of this tea. Many cheers!

Medium Roast Dong Ding Oolong Tea from Mountain Tea Company

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

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

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

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

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

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 195°F (90°C). Steep the leaves for 2:00 to 2:30 minutes. Expect at least three or four quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves. Reduce second infusion steep time to 1:30, then increase to 1:45 for the third infusion, and 15 additional seconds to each subsequent infusion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea from Mountain Tea Company

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat the water to 195°F (90°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 minutes. Expect three or more quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves. I recommend cutting at least a full minute off the steep time for the second infusion (1:30 to 2:00 total steep time), and then 2:00 to 2:30 minutes for the third.

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

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

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

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

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

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