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!

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Orthodox Flowery Pekoe (FP) Green Tea from Dafina Tea Traders

Continuing my tea tasting journey through the African continent, my next stop is at the Kangaita Tea Factory, in the southern slopes of Mount Kenya. I have ten samples of various green, black, and purple teas from this factory. The samples were provided by Dafina Tea Traders, based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Kangaita Tea Factory sits on the equator, with coordinates of 0.5°S and 37.3°E. The altitude of the tea estates in the Mount Kenya growing region ranges from 4,500 feet to 6,600 feet (1,500 to 2,200 meters) above sea level. Beyond the tea fields, the peaks of Mount Kenya are visible. Mount Kenya is also the largest tea producing zone in the country.

Despite the fact that I am very interested in trying one of the purple tea samples, I decided to start with the Flowery Pekoe green tea. A sweet, floral smell is rising out of the sample packet. Let the journey begin…

Orthodox FP Green Dry leaves
Orthodox FP Green Dry leaves

The dry leaves display forest green to dark green colors. The leaves appear to be medium to large fragments, and are rolled. There are a few bare twigs and stems in the mix. The aroma is sweet (dried fruit) and floral.

Five grams of leaves were placed in an 8.5 ounce (240 ml) kyusu teapot. Filtered tap water was heated to 175°F (75°C). The leaves were infused for one minute.

Orthodox FP Green 1st Infusion
Orthodox FP Green 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a light pale yellow color and a very light green tint. The aroma is sweet, herbacious, and floral. The body is light-medium, with a very smooth, velvety texture. The taste is very pleasant and refreshing, with notes of sweet grass, flowers, and a delicate fruity hint. There is also a noticeable mineral (wet stone) taste and feel, and a mild astringency. The aftertaste is floral and lightly sweet, with a pleasant floral essence left on the breathe. This tea has a very nice balance of flavors.

Orthodox FP Green 2nd Infusion
Orthodox FP Green 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a bolder shade of pale-yellow color and a light green to gold tint. The aroma remains sweet and floral. The body feels medium, and the texture is not quite as velvety, but instead is smooth and refreshing. The taste has strengthened in the sweet grass flavor, and the floral, delicately fruity, and mineral notes all remain. Overall, this second infusion was stronger than the first.

Orthodox FP Green 3rd Infusion
Orthodox FP Green 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a brighter shade of pale-yellow color than the third infusion, with more of a green tint than gold. The aroma has lightened, but remains a pleasantly delicate sweet and floral experience. The body has lightened back to light-medium. The taste has also lightened, and the notes of floral and wet stones are most dominant. The aftertaste remains floral and enjoyable. Although lighter, this is still a worthy infusion.

Orthodox FP Green Infused Leaves
Orthodox FP Green Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform forest green color. The leaves are all medium to large fragments, with some bare stems and twigs in the mix. A few of the stems show a two leaf and small bud pluck. The leaves have a fresh, floral, and lightly sweet aroma that is remarkably fragrant.

This is a very easy to drink green tea. There is one other green tea from Sri Lanka that I can describe as a good everyday green tea, but this Flowery Pekoe from Kangaita will now join this list. It is delicate and refreshing, yet potent enough in flavor to be very satisfying. Thankfully these sample packets are rather generous, because I can imagine this will make an extremely refreshing cold tea that will quench a thirst like few beverages can once the spring and summer months arrive. Other than a generally unimpressive appearance, this tea was a great experience, and a great introduction to the orthodox green teas of Kenya.

Thank you to Dafina Tea Traders for providing these generous samples. I am looking forward to hitting the purple teas next. Cheers!

Vangedi Pekoe Black Tea from Amba Estate (Plucky Tea)

It’s one of those rare days that my house is quiet and clean, allowing me to devote time to a more intriguing review. This product, the Vangedi Pekoe from Amba Estate, Sri Lanka, is quite unique to Plucky Tea. Plucky Tea is the only estate in Sri Lanka that produces this style of black tea commercially. According to the Plucky Tea website, which may be found here, the estate workers in Sri Lanka tend to process teas in their home in this fashion. The people use a stone mortar, called a “vangedi”, to grind the tea leaves into coarse fragments before they undergo the oxidation and firing process. For some reason, the large estates in Sri Lanka forbid this style of production, thinking that the estate workers are somehow stealing leaves for personal consumption. A little more research is needed on my end to understand why the large estates feel this paranoia.

As I look through the samples and product descriptions from Plucky Tea, I find that the majority of products are quite different than other Sri Lankan companies offer. Of everything that I have tried, the only thing that I found to be overall “average” was the pan-fired green tea. Everything else has been very unique in at least one, and in several cases many ways. Note: I would like a second chance to review the pan-fired green tea. I get the feeling that my senses were out of sync at the time of the original review. I will give the green tea another review if and when I get the chance. Anyway, Amba Estate and Plucky Tea have some top quality and highly intriguing products, moreso than any other estate that I have found in Sri Lanka.

If you want to try the GF OP Black Tea or the OP Black Tea with Tea Flowers, I believe Tealet Teas is still offering sample packets. Their website is http://www.tealet.com.

I may have mentioned this in a previous review of a product from Amba Estate, but I really like the amount of information that they supply regarding their community and even their workers. Amba really seems to encourage strong relationships among the workers and the community. They also have some great videos up on Youtube, including one regarding this vangedi pekoe.

The packet has been opened, and a very fresh, classic black tea smell is in the air. Let the journey begin…

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The dry leaves have shades of light brown to dark brown color. There is much variation in the size and shape of the dry leaves since they are coarsely ground into flakes. Impossible to determine the plucking standard or make any other useful visual observations. The flakes are very dry, and crumble easily. The aroma of the leaves is a bakey, almost biscuity sweet scent with malt. There is a slightly earthy hint, in a way similar to a shu puer. Considering the appearance of the dry leaves, I was interested to see if this tea could last for my usual three infusion review.

Four grams of dry leaves were placed in an 8.5 ounce (240 ml) kyusu teapot. Filtered tap water was heated to 205ºF (96ºC). Leaves were infused for two minutes for the first infusion, three minutes on the second, and three minutes thirty seconds on the third infusion.

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The first infusion produced a liquor with a glowing reddish-copper color, clear and transparent. The aroma had scents of malt, and very light citrus and floral (dandelion). The body is full, with a very smooth yet mouth filling texture. The taste is moderately astringent, with notes of malt, light citrus, and light floral (dandelion). The aftertaste is sweet with a modest hang time. This is what I consider to be a classic, but high quality, black tea taste. Now let’s see how this tea will be in the second infusion.

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The second infusion produced a liquor with a slightly lighter shade of reddish-copper color. The color is fuller than I expected. The aroma also lightened some, but remains quite fragrant. The body and taste were both surprisingly full, despite a slight lightening in all aspects. The taste maintained the same general characteristics, with the astringency lightening significantly between the first and second infusion. This infusion was very enjoyable, much to my surprise. It can’t possibly give another decent infusion, can it?

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Again, the color lightened some, but is surprisingly full with a lighter reddish-copper color. The aroma has lightened again, but is still strong enough to enjoy. The body has lightened to medium, and the taste has lightened. However, the taste is certainly strong enough to be enjoyed. This third infusion was still better than any bagged black tea that I have had. Very impressive.

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The dry leaves have a uniform dark copper color. The leaves are all small flakes. The aroma is sweet, malty, and lightly citrusy. Although I doubted this tea from the beginning, only to be proven wrong on two occasions, I still have a hard time believing that it can make a fourth infusion. I can very easily be wrong.

I have had a few black teas over the years that I would refer to as having a “classic” black tea taste, but this Vangedi Pekoe had the smoothest and most agreeable “classic” black tea taste. In fact, I could see this as being a perfect every day morning tea, as the estate workers in Sri Lanka have come to find. Although I cannot say that the complexity or general taste characteristics were outstanding or unique, the texture of this tea was definitely remarkable. I am happy to have another two kyusu loads of this Vangedi Pekoe in the sample pack, as I will be looking forward to enjoying it soon. Another success from Amba Estates and Plucky Tea. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to try a truly unique Sri Lankan black tea. The estate workers definitely know what they are doing when producing this tea. Cheers!

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