Nepal First Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea from What-Cha

After a week of discomfort and inconvenience due to an unexpectedly intense treatment at the dermatologist, this week is ending with a happy note. I arrived at my office today to find a box of samples from a company that I have recently come across, What-Cha. I have seen a few other tea bloggers review some teas from What-Cha, and decided to reach out to them to see for myself what interesting products were being offered. While checking out their website, which you may visit here, I noticed quite a few unique products that I was eager to try. The Nepal First Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea was one of those which caught my attention.

The Nepal First Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea was sourced from the Greenland Organic Farm, located in the foothills of Mount Kanchenjunga in eastern Nepal. My research found that the altitude of the Greenland Organic Farm reaches 2,200 meters (7,200 feet)! I also found information stating altitudes of 3,000 meter (9,840 feet). Regardless of which number is more accurate, it is an impressive altitude. Along with high quality Chinese clonal tea bushes, the Greenland Organic Farm also grows arabica coffee beans, and produces my favorite specialty type of coffee known as peaberry. I do not drink much coffee, but I have been trained to recognize and appreciate good quality. At home, I have a medium roast Papua New Guinea Peaberry from Kiva Han Coffee. It is amazing.

Now, let’s see what Greenland Organic Farm and What-Cha are all about. The sample packet has been opened, and a fresh and potent scent is escaping the packet. Let the journey begin…

Greenland Organic Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
Greenland Organic Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves range in color from pale forest green to yellowish-brown to dark brown. There is a generous portion of buds covered in fine silver hairs. Even some of the leaves have the silver hairs covering them. The pluck is easy to identify as two leaves and a bud, some of which are fully intact on the stem. There are no bare stems in the mix. The leaves appear to be hand-rolled, as they are quite light and fluffy, with some variance in the size and shape. There is certainly some light oxidation that occurred in the leaves, but this tea also has many characteristics of a white tea. The smell carries scents of fresh hay, dry oranges, light vanilla, light barnyard, and light spring flowers. The smell is quite potent and impressive. Below is a photo that was taken a little closer to the leaves, and shows the abundance of silver hairs on buds and leaves.

Greenland Organic Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea Dry Leaves Close-Up
Greenland Organic Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea Dry Leaves Close-Up

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 175°F (80°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 to 4:00 minutes. Expect at least three quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves, with minimal loss of character between the first, second, and third infusions. Add 30 seconds to each subsequent infusion steep time.

Greenland Organic Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea Infusion
Greenland Organic Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright, pale yellow color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of hay, honey, orange blossoms, and vanilla. The body is light, with a clean, silky texture, and a purifying, refreshing energy. The taste has notes of citrus (lemon and orange), hay, honey, vanilla, orange blossom, and light hyacinth. There is almost no astringency whatsoever. The aftertaste carries the hay and floral characters, and a pleasant, lingering floral essence is left on the breath.

Greenland Organic Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Greenland Organic Nepal 1st Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a very fresh, light forest green color, with some leaves having slightly reddish edges, indicating the light level of oxidation. The pluck is clearly two leaves and a bud. There is a generous portion of buds in the mix. Many of the leaves are whole and unbroken, and the remainder are large fragments. The leaves have a smooth, delicate texture. These are beautifully produced leaves. The smell has carries scents of hay, vanilla, oranges, orange blossoms, and other fresh spring flowers.

My first impressions of What-Cha and Greenland Organic Farm are very positive! I just finished the third infusion of this Nepal First Flush 2014 Silver Oolong tea, and even using the higher temperatures and longer steep times, this tea has barely lost any of its character. The aroma continues to be potent and fresh, and the taste and mouth feel are very high quality. The leaves in both dry and wet forms appear to have been very carefully produced. This is an excellent crossover tea between the oolong and white types. Having thoroughly enjoyed this first product from What-Cha, I am very excited to work my way through the remaining samples.

Thank you to What-Cha for providing this sample of Nepal First Flush 2014 Silver Oolong Tea from Greenland Organic Farm. Cheers!

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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!

Signature Muscatel 2nd Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea from Makaibari Tea Estate and Lochan Tea

Three times per year I get a generous package of samples from Lochan Tea Limited with a beautiful variety of the seasonal flush teas from the Darjeeling area, as well as a few samples from the Lochan family’s own Doke Tea Estate in Bihar, India. Honestly, as excited as I am to try the first flush teas after the winter months of dormancy in the tea fields, the second flush teas are still my favorite products to review. It’s that time of year for second flush teas from Darjeeling and the surrounding areas, and I have quite a few reviews to get to, as you can see.

Lochan Tea 2nd Flush 2014 Samples
Lochan Tea 2nd Flush 2014 Samples

The first sample to get reviewed will be from one of the better known estates in Darjeeling, the Makaibari Tea Estate. The Makaibari Tea Estate was established in 1857, and currently grows tea on about 273 (675 acres) hectares of land. Interestingly, the name Makaibari translates into “corn field” in Nepalese, as growing corn was the original intent of the British for the land. Thanks to the Camellia Sinensis blog for the details on this and many of the Darjeeling tea estates. Find the Camellia Sinensis blog here.

Today’s review focuses on the Signature Muscatel 2nd Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea. This product is labeled as organic. The sample packet has been opened, and an amazing floral and muscat grape aroma is filling the air. Let the journey begin…

Makaibari Signature Muscatel 2014 2nd Flush Dry Leaves
Makaibari Signature Muscatel 2014 2nd Flush Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a range of colors from light green to reddish brown to black. The leaves are all small to medium sized fragments. There are some bare stems in the mix. The leaves are rolled. There are a few silver tips in the mix. The aroma is quite sweet, with scents of muscat grapes, cocoa, and roses.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a 5 ounce (150 ml) ceramic infusion cup. Purified spring water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.

For practical steeping, use three grams of dry leaf for every six ounces (180 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 195°F to 205°F (90°C to 96°C). Steep leaves for 3:00 minutes.

Makaibari Signature Muscatel 2014 2nd Flush Infusion
Makaibari Signature Muscatel 2014 2nd Flush Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright golden color with an orange tint, clear and transparent. There were some fine particles. The aroma had scents of muscat grapes, roses, and light wood. The body is medium, with a lively and clean texture, and an uplifting energy. The taste had notes of muscat grapes, roses, light wood, and light spice. The aftertaste is floral, and a flowery essence is left on the breath.

Makaibari Signature Muscatel 2014 2nd Flush Infused Leaves
Makaibari Signature Muscatel 2014 2nd Flush Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a range of colors from fresh light forest green to dark reddish brown. The leaves are all small to medium fragments. There are some bare stems and a few tips in the mix. The aroma was sweet and floral, with scents of grapes and summer flowers.

Since second flush Darjeeling teas are known for their muscatel characteristics, this Makaibari Signature Muscatel 2nd Flush 2014 was a perfect lead in to this package of second flush samples. With pronounced muscat grape aroma and taste, this tea certainly represents the Darjeeling reputation very nicely. The appearance of the liquor was impressive, with a bright and inviting color. This tea also delivers that uplifting energy that I noted in a post last year that compared 1st flush, 2nd flush, and autumn flush Darjeeling tea. The Makaibari products are usually a good standard to compare the other Darjeeling products to, so I am looking forward to seeing how the other second flush samples hold up.

As always, I owe much gratitude to the Lochan Family for their generosity in providing these samples! Cheers!

Shameless Plug! Please take a moment to see what teas I have available at The Tea Journeyman Shop! Don’t forget that the seasonal Uva Ceylon black teas will be available soon also! Go to http://www.teajourneymanshop.com/!

13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Wulong Tea from Xin Yuan Tea Garden

Every time I order a personal supply of the season’s fresh Ti Kuan Yin wulong tea from Xin Yuan Tea Garden, or Lin Farm as I had previously referred to this garden, they are always kind enough to throw in a few other samples of interesting teas. I was happy to make a larger order of this year’s Spring harvest top grade Ti Kuan Yin, which is available for purchase at The Tea Journeyman Shop, and to give some well deserved revenues to the Lin family, who honestly makes the best Ti Kuan Yin that I have ever had. If you have not had the Ti Kuan Yin from Xin Yuan Tea Garden before, and there is a very high chance that you have not, then I implore you to get some. It will redefine your opinion on Ti Kuan Yin.

With this order, Dong Qin Lin, the daughter whom I communicate with, sent me a very interesting sample which is the focus of my review today. This sample is the 13 years aged Ti Kuan Yin. One of the first teas I ever reviewed from the Lin Farm (Xin Yuan) was an aged Ti Kuan Yin, but it did not look anything like this sample. This sample is darker in color, with less stems, and seems to be a much higher quality.

To learn more about the Xin Yuan Tea Garden, Click Here to see their profile on The Tea Journeyman Shop website. Let the journey begin…

13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves are dark brown to black in color, possibly from periodic roasting during the aging process. Appears to be mostly large leaf fragments, and possibly some whole leaves, some with stems intact. The leaves are in the semi-ball shape. The aroma has scents of dried raisins or prunes, molasses, and aged wood (oak?).

Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in an 18 ounce (530 ml) cast-iron tetsubin teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 205°F (95°C). The leaves were infused for two minutes.

13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea 1st Infusion
13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a golden-orange color and slight red tint, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of wood resin or sap, prunes, and light molasses. The scent is very unique, and almost difficult to read, all in a good way. The body is medium, with a very smooth, silky, clean texture. The taste has notes of sweet wood sap, prunes or raisins, wet stones, and a slight touch of ripe blood orange.The aftertaste is lightly sweet. Again, like the aroma, the taste is somewhat difficult to read, and almost took me to the bottom of the pot to begin defining what I tasted. I was impressed that there was no unpleasant tastes that can often occur in the first infusion of aged teas. This first infusion tasted very clean, despite not being rinsed.

13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea 2nd Infusion
13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a slightly darker golden orange with red tint color. The aroma lost absolutely no strength or character from the first infusion, and may have even strengthened by a slight amount. The body and texture remain medium, smooth, and clean. The taste seems to be slightly fuller, but retains the same general taste notes of sweet wood sap, raisins or prunes, wet stones, and blood orange. The second infusion was slightly better than the first, and I expect the aroma and taste to persist until the end of my work day forces me to prematurely dispose of them.

13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea 3rd Infusion
13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor with a golden-orange color similar to the first infusion, and perhaps a touch lighter in color. The aroma has lightened some, but has plenty of potency. The body and texture are the same. The taste has lightened some, but retains the majority of the taste notes, with the blood orange diminishing some. I still believe these leaves could give at least three or four more worthy infusions. Unfortunately, the end of my work day has arrived, and I have to cut the review off at three. Thankfully, I have another eight gram sample of this same tea, and I know to set an entire day aside to enjoy it.

13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fresh tar black color. The leaves are still quite tightly rolled, and unrolling them reveals a fibrous, almost stringy structure of the aged leaves. The texture reminds me of a loosely knit dry burlap sack, lacking any softness. The leaves that I am able to unroll without completely destroying do appear to be large fragments and whole leaves. A few of the stems display a two leaf and small bud pluck. The aroma has scents of sweet wood sap and molasses. This was among the most interesting set of tea leaves that I have inspected.

13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea Infused Leaf
13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Oolong Tea Infused Leaf

I realize the quality of the above photo is not great, but it is good enough to show the fibrous character of the infused leaf. This is what happened to every leaf that I tried to unroll.

This 13 Year Aged Ti Kuan Yin Wulong Tea from Xin Yuan Tea Garden was a fascinating review subject from start to finish. The aroma and taste were so unique that they were difficult to identify, and my descriptions may not be the most accurate. Regardless, both the aroma and taste were amazing, and the texture of the liquor was remarkably clean, especially for an aged tea. As if the organoleptic experience of the tea was not enough, it was very interesting to inspect the infused leaves. If every tea review I conducted was as interesting as this one was, then I would never get my normal work done at my office.

A heart-felt thank you to Dong Qin Lin and Xin Yuan Tea Garden for providing this fascinating sample. I am so glad they included two samples of it, because I will be ready to get every last infusion out of the second sample. Cheers!

Finally, if you have not already done so, please do me a personal favor and check out my new webstore which I just launched on May 27th. I am adding new products on an almost daily basis, and there are some really interesting teas on this site, as well as five to ten more coming in the next couple of weeks. Please check it out, and share it with your tea loving friends and family. I truly appreciate your help in getting my business name out, and I think tea lovers will appreciate the high quality and low price of the teas in my shop. Thanks again!

Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea from Lam Dong Province in Vietnam

Another review, another difficult decision on which sample will have today’s full attention. I still have quite a few interesting teas from Vietnam to try out, so let’s have a taste of the Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea, which originates in the mountains of Lam Dong Province in south Vietnam.

The sample packet has been opened, and a very sweet, fragrant aroma is welcoming me to begin the evaluation. Let the journey begin…

Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a forest green to dark forest green color. The leaves appear to be on the lower side of the oxidation scale. The leaves are in the semi-ball shape, and vary in size from the size of a corn kernel to the size of a kidney bean. These appear to be whole leaves with stems intact, and perhaps a few large fragments. There are no bare stems. The aroma is very sweet, with fragrant scents of brown sugar, molasses, and cinnamon. This is a phenomenal smelling tea.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) ceramic infusion cup. Purified spring water was heated to 195°F (90°C). The leaves were infused for two minutes thirty seconds.

Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea 1st Infusion
Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a light greenish-yellow color, clear and transparent, with few moderately coarse particles. The aroma has scents of sweet milk, light brown sugar, and light orchids. The body is medium, with a silky smooth texture, and a calming energy. The taste has notes of sweet milk, light brown sugar, light orchids, and a very light touch of fruit (too light to identify right now). The aftertaste is sweet and floral, and an impressive floral essence in left on the breath.

Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea 2nd Infusion
Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with more of bright golden-yellow color with a modest green tint. The aroma remains fragrant with scents of sweet milk, brown sugar, and light orchids. The body remains medium, and the texture silky. The taste is slightly stronger overall, but retains the notes of sweet milk, light brown sugar, light orchid, and the fruity note remains very light but present. The aftertaste remains sweet and floral, and the floral essence remains potent.

Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea 3rd Infusion
Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor nearly identical to the second infusion. The aroma has very slightly lightened, but remains quite fragrant and attractive, with scents of brown sugar, sweet milk, and light orchids. The body and texture thinned very slightly. The taste also had a slightly lighter character, but remains very tasteful, with notes of sweet milk, light brown sugar, light orchid, light mineral (wet stone), and light tropical fruit. The aftertaste and essence lightened slightly, but are both very enjoyable.

Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform dark forest green color. The leaves are mostly whole with stems intact. There are a few large fragments in the mix. The pluck varies from two leaves and a bud to four leaves and a bud. Some of the buds are quite developed (as pictured below). The leaves are long and fairly narrow, indicating that this tea is produced from the Chin Shin or closely related cultivar. Few of the leaves had moderate reddish edges, displaying the low level of oxidation. The largest leaf measures 2.75″ (70 mm) long and 1.25″ (32 mm) wide. The leaves have a thin wet leather feel, and are not entirely smooth on the surface. The leaves still have some durability, and I believe at least one to two additional infusions could be produced. A few of the leaves appear to have been bitten by insects. The aroma has scents of mineral (wet stones), light tropical fruit, and very light flowers.

Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea Infused Leaf with Insect Bites
Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea Infused Leaf with Insect Bites
Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea Infused Leaves with Bud
Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea Infused Leaves with Bud
Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea Pluck Display
Kim Tuyen Oolong Tea Pluck Display

Of the six or so samples of Vietnam oolongs that I have evaluated in the past month or so, this Kim Tuyen Oolong has received the highest rating. The aroma of the dry leaves and liquor was incredibly sweet and inviting, and the taste followed suit. Three quality infusions, with more to offer, made this entire analysis a pleasure from start to finish. Even the infused leaves made for an interesting analysis, showing mature buds, insect bites, and large whole leaves. This Kim Tuyen Oolong tea was truly a pleasure to experience.

Cheers!

Jungpana FTGFOP1 CL First Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea from Jungpana Organic Tea Estate and Lochan Tea Limited

It was difficult holding on to this sample for so long, but I do prefer to mix up the various types of samples that I have so I do not lose my appreciate for one type by doing a marathon of reviews on teas of the same classification. Today’s review focuses on the Jungpana FTGFOP 1 CL First Flush 2014 Darjeeling tea from the Jungpana Organic Tea Estate, and another thank you for the generosity of Lochan Tea Limited for providing the sample.

As a quick tangent, I have decided for the time being to stop referring to these teas from Darjeeling as black or oolong in the titles of the reviews. I generally believe these teas to be oolongs, since there is obviously only partial oxidation in the leaves, most easily observed in the first flush products. However, these teas are not marketed as oolongs, nor are they necessarily marketed as blacks. In my opinion, Darjeeling teas certainly deserve the distinction that they already have garnered from the tea world. Thus, I am going to simply refer to these teas as “Darjeeling Tea” in the review titles.

Jungpana Organic Tea Estate is located in the Kurseong South Valley of the Darjeeling district of north India. The altitude of the gardens ranges from 400 meters (1,200 feet) to 1,000 meters (3,000 feet) above sea level. The total estate covers about 100 hectares of land, with tea gardens covering about 73 hectares of that land.

The sample packet has been opened, and the silver hairs on the tips and fresh green appearance are very attractive. Let the journey begin…

Jungpana First Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea Dry Leaves
Jungpana First Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a fresh green to dark green color, with very few leaves showing a reddish-brown to black color. There is a generous portion of tips, all covered in very fresh appearing silver hairs. The leaves are lightly rolled, and appear to be mostly medium to large leaf fragments, with the possibility of a few whole leaves, and some of the tips appear to be quite mature. Some pieces have a leaf and bud with the young stem intact. The appearance generally is very fresh and bright, more so than any other first flush product from 2014 that I have reviewed thus far. The aroma is very fresh and floral, having scents of a spring bouquet of flowers, sweet wood, and light molasses. The aroma has an uplifting effect.

Ten grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 ml) cast-iron teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 195°F (90°C). The leaves were infused for two minutes thirty seconds with thirty seconds being added to subsequent infusions.

Jungpana First Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea 1st Infusion
Jungpana First Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a light, pale golden-yellow color, clear and transparent, with some very fine particles accumulating at the bottom of the cup. The aroma is very fresh, with scents of fresh spring flowers, light grass, light wood, and light honey. The body is medium, with a clean, rounded texture, and a fresh, uplifting energy. The taste has dominant floral notes of fresh spring flowers, and light wood. The aftertaste is floral and lightly woody, with a potent floral essence being left on the breath.

Jungpana First Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea 2nd Infusion
Jungpana First Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a slightly lighter shade of pale golden-yellow color. Some very fine particles are present in the cup. The aroma is still quite potent, with dominant scents of spring flowers and light wood. The honey and grass scents have dissipated. The body remains medium, and the texture clean. The taste has lightened some, but remains dominantly floral, with light wood notes. The aftertaste remains floral, and the essence has lightened some. There is plenty of character in this second infusion, so I will attempt a third infusion.

A photo is not available of the third infusion. The third infusion produced a liquor with a similar shade of light golden-yellow color as the second infusion. The aroma, body, and taste all lightened significantly, but had enough character to enjoy. The third infusion was a nice light bodied, and modestly floral, making perfect for a post-meal beverage.

Jungpana First Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea Infused Leaves
Jungpana First Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves had a fresh and light forest green to forest green color, with few leaves having reddish-brown coloring. There are quite a few whole leaves, and the rest of the leaves are medium to large fragments. There is a generous amount of tips, measuring 18 to 25 mm (.75″ to 1″). The leaves and tips appear very fresh, and have a soft yet durable feel. The aroma has scents of flowers, light green cooked vegetable, and sweet grass.

The Jungpana FTGFOP 1 CL First Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea is a perfect representation of first flush Darjeeling teas. It looks, smells, and tastes incredibly fresh, and has clean, uplifting energy. The floral taste is potent, but not overwhelming. The tea provided two very good infusions, and the third had enough character to be easy to sip if you do not mind a very light taste. I was impressed with this tea from the moment I opened the sample packet, and I am not surprised! Jungpana has been toward the top of my favorite Darjeeling tea estates since I first tried one of their products.

Cheers to Lochan Tea Limited for providing another incredible sample!

 

 

Thea Kuan Imm Oolong Tea from Thai Tea Suwirun Garden in Northern Thailand

Thanks to the generosity of the management at the Thai Tea Suwirun Garden near Chiang Rai City in northern Thailand, I have fresh samples of their Thea Kuan Imm and Jing Shuan (TTES # 12) oolong teas ready for sampling.

Thai Tea Suwirun Garden is a certified organic garden consisting of 480 acres of land. They have been operating for about thirty years, and now offer a variety of oolong, green, and black tea products, including Wirun, a green tea powder. Today’s review will focus on the Thea Kuan Imm oolong tea.

Let the journey begin…

Thea Kuan Imm Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
Thea Kuan Imm Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a pale green to very dark green color. The leaves are in the semi-ball shape. I am expecting mostly whole leaves attached to stems. The semi-ball leaves are about the size of a black bean, and they are fairly consistent. The leaves appear to be moderately roasted. The aroma is very attractive, with scents of sweet wood, molasses, light cinnamon, and light brown sugar.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) ceramic infusion cup. Purified spring water was heated to 195°F (90°C). The leaves were infused for three minutes.

Thea Kuan Imm Oolong Tea 1st Infusion
Thea Kuan Imm Oolong Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a bright golden-yellow liquor, clear and transparent, with few particles. The aroma is quite fruity, with scents of ripe pears, very light wood, and light honey. The body is medium, with a gentle, silky texture, and a very clean, refreshing energy. The taste has notes of tree fruit (ripe pears), light sweet wood, light honey, and very light mineral. The aftertaste has notes of honey and light wood, and a floral and light mineral essence is left on the breath.

Thea Kuan Imm Oolong Tea 2nd Infusion
Thea Kuan Imm Oolong Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a slightly darker shade of golden-yellow color, with few particles remaining. The aroma continues to be very attractive, with the same scents of pears, honey, and light wood. The body, texture, and energy have lost very little character from the first infusion. The taste has leveled nicely, with the pear and honey notes being most dominant, and the sweet wood and mineral notes continuing to be light. The aftertaste retains the honey and light wood notes, and the essence remains floral.

Thea Kuan Imm Oolong Tea 3rd Infusion
Thea Kuan Imm Oolong Tea 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor with a lighter shade of golden-yellow color, lighter than the first and second infusions. The aroma has lightened some, but retains very pleasant scents of pears and honey. The body and texture have thinned some. The taste has also lightened some, and the strengths of the various notes have changed, with the mineral note gaining strength, and the honey and pears notes losing strength. The third infusion is still quite enjoyable, and I expect a fourth and maybe even fifth infusion to produce a worthy experience.

Thea Kuan Imm Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Thea Kuan Imm Oolong Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a forest green to dark forest green color. Most of the leaves display reddish edges, indicating moderate oxidation. The pluck is three leaves and a bud, some of the the buds being fairly well developed (see photo). The larger leaves are about 1.25 inches (30 mm) long. The leaves are silky and quite delicate. The aroma has scents of wood, and a strange spicy scent that reminds me of the incense burned in the church that I attended throughout my childhood. As the leaves cooled, the scent became sweet and fruity.

This Thea Kuan Imm Oolong Tea from Thai Tea Suwirun is an instant favorite! The aromas and tastes of all three infusions were nothing short of incredible. The energy of this tea was obvious, and it gave the body a refreshing, clean feeling. The level of oxidation and assumed roasting of this tea makes it much different than other Ti Kuan Yin (TieGuanYin) products that I have had, and this one I definitely enjoyed more than the others, even the other roasted varieties. There is only one Ti Kuan Yin that I prefer over this, and I will be doing a review on the fresh spring harvest Ti Kuan Yin top grade in the next week or two, once it arrives.

Thank you very much to the management at Thai Tea Suwirun Garden for providing this excellent sample. Cheers!

 

FTGFOP 1 CL 1st Flush Darjeeling from Rohini Tea Estates and Lochan Tea

Earlier this week, I was greeted by a surprise delivery with my usual mail: an envelope from Lochan Tea containing a sample of the FTGFOP 1 CL 1st Flush tea from Rohini Tea Estates, in the Darjeeling district of India. This is the first year of my tea experience where I am able to taste truly fresh first flush teas from Darjeeling.

This sample was provided by Lochan Tea Limited. To read more about Lochan Tea, visit their website here. To learn more about Rohini Tea Estates, visit their website here.

The sample packet has been opened, and an uplifting scent of spring flowers is hitting me. Let the journey begin…

Rohini FTGFOP 1 CL 1st Flush 2014 Dry Leaves
Rohini FTGFOP 1 CL 1st Flush 2014 Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from bright green, to reddish brown, to light and dark brown. There are a few silver tips, covered in downy-like hairs. The leaves are mostly small to medium fragments. The leaves are rolled. There are a few small bare stems in the mix. The aroma is fresh, with scents of light roses, very light lilac, and light cocoa.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) ceramic infusion cup. Purified spring water was heated to 195°F (90°C). The leaves were infused for three minutes.

Rohini FTGFOP 1 CL 1st Flush 2014 1st Infusion
Rohini FTGFOP 1 CL 1st Flush 2014 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a dark golden-yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of fresh flowers, light honey, light cocoa, and light sweet wood. The body is medium-full, with a lively, almost sharp texture. The taste has strong notes of hyacinth, lilac, and sweet wood. The aftertaste is very floral, with a flowery essence being left on the breath. This infusion tastes like a mouthful of fresh spring flowers, just as I was hoping for. The taste is actually stronger than I expected after feeling the aroma.

Rohini FTGFOP 1 CL 1st Flush 2014 2nd Infusion
Rohini FTGFOP 1 CL 1st Flush 2014 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a noticeably lighter shade of golden yellow color. The aroma lightened some, but retained the floral, light cocoa, and sweet wood scents. The body lightened to medium, and the texture softened some. The taste also lightened significantly, but retained the notes of hyacinth, lilac, and sweet wood. The aftertaste and essence were lighter, as well.

Due to time constraints and the strong possibility that the third infusion would be quite light in all respects, I decided to forego an analysis on the third infusion.

Rohini FTGFOP 1 CL 1st Flush 2014 Infused Leaves
Rohini FTGFOP 1 CL 1st Flush 2014 Infused Leaves

The infused leaves varied in color from fresh light green to pinkish-red to light brown. The leaves are mostly small to medium fragments. There are a few small whole leaves in the mix, and a few small bare stems. The leaves seem quite young and tender. The aroma is very fresh, with scents of wet spring flowers and light sweet wood.

This FTGFOP 1 CL 1st Flush from Rohini Tea Estates was a pleasant introduction to this years first flush teas from Darjeeling. I just received notification of a follow up package of first flush samples from other Darjeeling estates, so I look forward to comparing them all. With this sample, the wood aroma and taste note is something that I do not remember feeling in last years Darjeeling first flush teas. I follow Rohini Tea Estates, as well as Gopaldhara, and other Darjeeling estates through social media, and read that some areas were experiencing droughts this spring. I wonder if the woody notes can be attributed to these draughts. Regardless, the tastes of hyacinth and lilac were exactly what I look for in a first flush tea. These same flowers are finally blooming in my area. As a quick tangent, there is one family of deer who live in my part of the city of Pittsburgh, and they eat all of my spring flowers (crocuses, tulips) every year. This year, they even ate my white hyacinths! The daffodils are the only survivors this year.

Anyway… thank you very much to Lochan Tea for surprising me with this introductory sample of first flush teas. I will be keeping a close eye on the tracking information for the next round of samples to arrive. Cheers to Lochan Tea and Rohini Tea Estates!

Severe Degree of Fermentation (SDOF) Oolong from PT Harendong Green Farm

I admit it, I had to do some research on what “SDOF” stands for. It is “Severe Degree of Fermentation”, by the way. I developed all kinds of different phrases, like “Sun-Dried, Oxidized, Fired”. I was way off. Anyway, this review will focus on the SDOF Oolong tea from PT Harendong Green Farm, located in the Halimun Mountains area, Banten Province, Indonesia.

The sample packet has been opened, and I am being reminded of a Dong Ding wulong…

Let the journey begin…

PT Harendong SDOF Oolong Dry Leaves
PT Harendong SDOF Oolong Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a dull, pale brownish-green color. The leaves are semi-ball shape. The leaves appear to be whole leaves and large fragments, some with stems intact. The oxidation level appears to be in the 50% range. The aroma is sweet and slightly spicy, with scents of brown sugar, molasses, sweet wood, and light cinnamon.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) ceramic infusion cup. Purified spring water was heated to 195°F (90°C). The leaves were infused for three minutes.

PT Harendong SDOF Oolong 1st Infusion
PT Harendong SDOF Oolong 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a light golden yellow color with a very slight reddish tint. The aroma had scents of sweet wood, tree fruit (peach), and light honey. The body was light-medium, with a unique, thin honey texture. The liquor seemed to cling to the teeth and tongue, like honey. The taste had notes of wood, light tree fruit (peach), light honey, and light minerals (wet stones). The aftertaste had notes of light honey and flowers, and the sweet and flowery essence left on the breath was impressive.

PT Harendong SDOF Oolong 2nd Infusion
PT Harendong SDOF Oolong 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a slightly darker shade of golden-yellow color and a very slight reddish tint. The aroma retained the sweet wood, light peach, and light honey scents. The body remained light-medium, and the texture was not quite as “honey-like”, but smooth and easy to sip. The taste changed a little, with the light honey and wood tastes melding together to make a sweet wood note, and the light peach and mineral notes being retained. The aftertaste remains sweet and floral, and the flowery essence continues to impress.

PT Harendong SDOF Oolong 3rd Infusion
PT Harendong SDOF Oolong 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor with a golden-yellow color, and the reddish tint is no longer present. The aroma has lightened in sweetness, and has more of wood and mineral scents, with a light peach sweetness. The body remains light-medium. The taste has taken on mostly woody and mineral notes, and a very light peach hint. The aftertaste has mineral and floral notes, and the aftertaste remains impressive.

PT Harendong SDOF Oolong Infused Leaves
PT Harendong SDOF Oolong Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a dark brownish-forest green color. There is a nearly equal distribution of large fragments and whole leaves, some with stems intact. Stems display a range of two to four leaves plucked, some with small buds. A few of the leaves display what I believe to be insect bites, which may help explain the honey-like aromas and tastes in the tea. The leaves have a thin, wet, leathery feel. The aroma of the infused leaves has scents of wood, wet forest floor, and minerals (wet stones).

I am very impressed by this SDOF oolong tea from PT Harendong Green Farm. I will definitely have to find a sample of two of Dong Ding oolongs from China and Taiwan and compare this SDOF to them. The taste had the wood and mineral tastes of Dong Ding oolongs, with fruity and honey-like notes that I do not remember getting out of some Dong Dings. This SDOF oolong gave three high quality infusions, and I am quite confident that I could have doubled the number of infusions had I not ran out of time today. The slight touch of reddish color was also interesting in this tea. I could certainly see this tea becoming a common product in my personal collection.

Thank you to PT Harendong Green Farm for the excellent sample and experience. Cheers!

 

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!