Tipsy Eve FBOPF SP Black Tea From Lumbini Tea Valley

Let’s take a quick look at the Tipsy Eve FBOPF SP Black Tea from Lumbini Tea Valley, and their brand Dalu.

Check out my Company Spotlight post to learn more about Lumbini Tea Valley.

This is a Special Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe Fannings (FBOPF SP) grade of black tea from the Ruhuna region of Sri Lanka.

The dry leaves consist of small leaf and bud fragments, consistent with the FBOPF SP grade. The leaves have a uniform dark charcoal black color, and the buds have a uniform gold-yellow color. There is a very generous portion of tips, making up at least half of the blend. The aroma is quite fresh and potent, with scents of malt, pine, and fermented dark red grapes, giving it a red wine like quality.

Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 mL) cast iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 200°F (93°C) water for 3:00 minutes.

The color of the liquid was a deep, rich coppery red-orange color, clear and transparent. The aroma had robust scents of malt, pine, fermented dark red grapes, and a touch of dark honey. The body is full, with a luxurious texture. There is no bitterness, and a pleasant, well balanced briskness. The taste has notes of fermented dark red grapes, pine, malt, and a touch of dark honey. The aftertaste holds a pleasant combination of pine and red wine qualities, and there is lingering sweetness left on the breath.

The infused leaves and buds have a uniform copper-brown color, with a uniform small leaf fragment size, consistent with the grade. The aroma has scents of malt, red grapes, pine, and a touch of floral earthiness.

The best word I have to describe the character of this Tipsy Eve FBOPF SP Black Tea is luxurious. From the impressive appearance and lush aroma of the dry leaves, to all the sensory experiences of the liquid, this is a very high quality black tea. This is not for the casual black tea drinker. This is a robust black tea full of rich character. Those who love breakfast styles of black tea will appreciate this product, for it has the eye-opening punch of aroma, body, and flavor that is sure to wake the drinker up. For the wine drinkers out there who can appreciate a good tea in the morning, you will also enjoy this Tipsy Eve Black Tea, due to it’s deep, red wine-like character. If you can find this tea, and have the opportunity to try it, prepare yourself for the fullest black tea experience.

Thanks again to the management at Lumbini Tea Valley for providing this sample of Tipsy Eve FBOPF SP Black Tea. Another product well done!

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Silk Oolong Tea From Araksa Tea Garden

Today’s review will focus on the Silk Tea from Araksa Tea Garden in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Although not specified as an oolong tea by Araksa Tea Garden, the leaves are definitely partially oxidized, and have undergone more processing than a white tea. Thus, for the purpose of reviewing the tea, and determining steeping guidelines, I have classified this as an oolong tea.

For more information on Araksa Tea Garden, check out my Company Spotlight post.

Let’s get to the review…

The dry leaves vary in color from pale dark green to pale light brown to pale dark brown, with some pale gold-yellow buds and silverish buds. The leaves consist almost entirely of unbroken, whole leaves and buds attached to stems, showing a range of plucking standards from one leaf and bud to three leaves and bud. There are a few detached, large leaf fragments. There is a generous amount of mature, large buds, and no totally bare stems. The leaves and buds are partially oxidized (as an estimate, maybe 30 to 40%), are very lightly hand rolled, and appear to have been pan fired. It is obvious that great care was put into shaping these leaves. The aroma has scents of toasted oats, light brown sugar, dried corn, and dried chrysanthemum flowers.

Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 mL) cast iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 190°F (88°C) water for 3:00 minutes.

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Araksa Silk Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a bright, golden yellow color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma has interesting scents of chrysanthemum, sweet corn, and a touch of hay. The body is surprisingly full, will a silky, very smooth texture. There is no bitterness or astringency. The taste has notes of sweet corn, chrysanthemum, and hay. The aftertaste carries the hay and floral qualities, but with a subtle developing undertone of rose apples. There is lasting floral essence left on the breath.

The infused leaves vary slightly in the depth of the pale brown tones of color. The blend consists mostly of unbroken, whole leaves and buds attached to stems. There are a few large leaf fragments, detached from the stems, and no totally bare stems. The plucking standard varies from one leaf and mature bud to three leaves and mature bud. The largest buds measure nearly two inches (50 mm) long. Most of the buds this size are enveloping a younger bud. These are beautiful tea leaf specimens to observe. While hot, the leaves carry the aroma of chrysanthemum and corn. As they cool, the infused leaves hold a strong scent of magnolia flowers.

The Silk Tea from Araksa Tea Garden is a truly unique product. The leaves are beautiful to visually observe and handle in both the dry and infused forms. As mentioned above, it is obvious that the people at Araksa took incredible care of these leaves during production to not tear, detach, or otherwise damage the appearance. The taste is also unique, a blend of floral and corn notes. I cannot say I expected to find these characteristics in this tea, and although the combination was  a challenge to understand and interpret at first, the final description seemed to come rather easily. The aroma of the cool, infused leaves is spectacular. It feels as if I stuck my nose into one of the large blooming magnolia flowers in the front of my house. Overall, this was a fascinating experience, and I would recommend this more to fellow tea enthusiasts who can appreciate the specific qualities offered by this tea.

Thanks again to the management at Araksa Tea Garden for providing this sample of Silk Tea. Keep up the interesting and innovative work! Cheers!

Aromatic Oolong Tea From Zealong Tea Estate in New Zealand

Today, I am introducing you, my readers, to the Aromatic Oolong Tea from Zealong Tea Estate. This tea is another certified organic product from Zealong. You can read more about Zealong Tea Estate on my recent Company Spotlight post.

This Aromatic Oolong Tea is given a quick roast at a high temperature to bring out the sweet, fruity flavors, while leaving much of the floral notes still intact. This product, like the Organic Green Tea, comes in very stylish, high quality packaging, as shown below.

You can purchase 50 grams of the Aromatic Oolong Tea for USD $31.95 plus shipping from Zealong Tea website.

Let’s get to the review…

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Zealong Aromatic Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves are pale green to pale dark green in color. The leaves are mostly unbroken, whole leaves still attached to a stem, with a few detached whole leaves and large fragments. The leaves are tightly rolled and compacted into semi-ball shapes, similar to the famous oolong style of Taiwan. I expect a common oolong pluck of three to four leaves on the stem, hopefully with buds intact. The oxidation level appears to be in the medium range (25% to 35%). We already know there is a brief roast given to the leaves. The aroma, as with the Zealong Organic Green Tea, is incredibly fresh (are you noticing a pattern here?), with sweet, roasty scents of dark chocolate, caramel, toasted grains, and a touch of dried cherry.

Four grams of dry leaves were placed in an 8.5 ounce (250 mL) bizen-ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 190°F (88°C) water for 2:30. Fifteen seconds were added to the brewing time on each subsequent infusion.

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Zealong Aromatic Oolong Tea – Tea Liquid

The tea liquid has a bright, golden yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma has a beautiful combination of scents, including gardenia flowers, tart cherries, and toasted grains, all wrapped in an overall roasty blanket. The body is medium, with a silky, almost creamy texture. There is a light astringency, and a light bitterness. The taste, like the aroma, has notes of gardenia, tart cherry, and toasted grains under the general roasty character. The gardenia notes carry in to the aftertaste, and an impressive floral bouquet lingers on the breath.

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Zealong Aromatic Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform dark forest green color, with most of the leaves displaying reddish brown edges, evidencing the level of oxidation. The plucking standard ranges from the expected four leaves on long stems to two leaves on stem, with a few detached individual leaves. Most of the leaves are unbroken, and the rest are large fragments. There are some tender young buds included on some of the stems also, to my pleasant surprise. There are no totally bare stems. The leaves are long and narrow in shape. They have a thin leathery texture. The aroma of the infused leaves, especially as they cool, is truly an amazing bouquet of gardenia and generally sweet smelling flowers.

The Aromatic Oolong Tea from Zealong Tea Estate beautifully carried the very high quality torch that began with the review yesterday of the Organic Green Tea. The use of the descriptive term “Aromatic” in the product name is perfectly appropriate for this tea. From the dry leaves to the nectar to the infused leaves, the aroma is very impressive and fresh. Despite the brief, high temperature roast applied to the leaves, I found the floral qualities to be the most pronounced, with lighter notes of tart cherry. The lingering, highly floral aftertaste was also very impressive. The similarities are definitely there between this product and good quality Taiwanese oolongs, notably a light roast Dong Ding style. Considering that the cost of this product is in line with Taiwanese oolongs, I definitely suggest giving this Aromatic Oolong Tea from Zealong Tea Estate a try the next time you place an order. Try something exotic!

Thanks again to the management at Zealong Tea Estate for providing this sample of Aromatic Oolong Tea. Cheers!

Company Spotlight: Zealong Tea Estate in New Zealand

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Zealong Tea Estate, the only commercial tea estate operated in the entire country of New Zealand.

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Zealong Sculpture – Photo Courtesy of Zealong.Com Website

This beautiful, organic tea estate is located in Hamilton, Waikato region, New Zealand. It currently consists of about 1.2 million tea bushes spread over 40 hectares (about 100 acres) of land. The Google map below shows the approximate location of Zealong Tea Estate.

The estate grounds were used as a dairy farm before being purchased and repurposed around 1996. Only about 130 tea plants were originally planted, and now the number has grown to about 1.2 million, as noted above. The leaves are hand-picked by estate workers, then produced into green, black, and oolong styles of finished tea. About 20 tonnes of finished tea are produced each year, all from three short harvest seasons. Information is forthcoming regarding the cultivar types being propagated at the estate.

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Zealong Tea Estate – Photo Courtesy of Zealong.Com Website

In addition to the classic, unblended, and all organic Green, Black, and Aromatic (or Oolong) styles of tea offered by Zealong Tea Estate, unique blends of Zealong tea leaves and herbs sourced elsewhere are created, with names such as Ice Breaker, Fire and Ice, Lady Gatsby, and Green Heart. They also offer more well-known, famous blends such as Earl Grey and Chai. All of these products can be found at the Zealong Shop website, or at the beautiful brick and mortar tea shop at the Zealong Tea Estate (photo below). The Green Tea, Black Tea, and Aromatic Tea will all be reviewed on this blog in the near future.

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Retail Tea Shop at Zealong Tea Estate – Photo Courtesy of Zealong.Com Website

Growing and producing high quality organic tea is not the only operation that Zealong Tea Estate excels at. The estate offers a fine dining experience with tea infused menu options, beautiful meetings rooms for private events, as well as a tea ceremony and tea tasting with each guided tour. Looking at the Zealong.com gallery, I can imagine spending a lot of time creating some unforgettable memories at this place. It looks amazing!

Zealong’s tea products can be found in places other than New Zealand, of course, with distributors located in United Kingdom, Germany, Czech Republic, China, and New Caledonia. If these are not convenient options for you, do not let that stop you from trying these teas! Check out their online shop on the Zealong website.

All photos used on this page were found at the Zealong.com website, in the gallery, and are property thereof.

Keshary Handspun Black Tea From Dalu and Lumbini Tea Valley

Let’s try out one of these hand spun specialty teas from the Dalu brand of Lumbini Tea Valley. This is the Keshary Black Tea.

Here is my company spotlight on Lumbini Tea Valley, where you can learn more about this innovative company based in the Ruhuna region of Sri Lanka.

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Keshary Handspun Black Tea – Dry Leaves (photo 1)
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Keshary Handspun Black Tea – Dry Leaves (Close-up)

The dry leaves have a uniform charcoal black color. The leaves appear to be all whole, unbroken leaves, tightly hand rolled, and expertly tied into a teardrop shape. The leaves are fully oxidized. The teardrop measures about 2 inches (50 mm) high by 1.5 inches (38 mm) wide. The tips of the leaves are rounded up to form the top of the teardrop. The bottoms of the leaves, which may or may not include a short stem, are folded under and inside of the teardrop. The appearance is very high quality, and certainly worthy of the description “artisan”. The aroma is more potent than I expected, with scents of dried rosebuds, malt, and dried papaya. Definitely an exquisite first impression.

One teardrop was placed in a twelve ounce (355 mL) glass infuser cup, and infused in 205°F (96°C) water for 3:00 minutes. One minute of additional time was added to subsequent infusions. Three quality infusions were extracted from the leaves.

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Keshary Handspun Black Tea – Liquid

First and foremost, it is always entertaining to watch these “blooming” teas dance to life when swimming in hot water. With each infusion, the leaves become more loose, more free, and more visually impressive.

The liquid has a rich, orange-red color, clear and transparent. The aroma is very high quality, with scents of malt, fresh oranges, papaya, and roses. The body is medium, with a layered, juicy texture. There is no bitterness or astringency whatsoever. The taste has notes of malt, fresh oranges, papaya, and roses. The aftertaste continues the sweet, juicy flavors, and the sweetness holds on the breath for a noteworthy amount of time. These qualities hold true through the three infusions noted above.

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Keshary Handspun Black Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform copper brown color, and are fully oxidized. Upon pulling the teardrop apart, I found that the leaves are unbroken, but do have the stems cut off at the bottom of the leaves, and the leaves are very tightly rolled and folded at the bottom in order to make them fit comfortably inside the teardrop. There are no buds, and the leaves are all of a uniform size. When unrolled and laid out, the leaves measure between 2.5 inches (63 mm) and 3 inches (75 mm) in length, and between 1 inch (25 mm) and 1.5 inches (63 mm) in width. There is only one stem, it is bare, and is used to bind the leaves together at the heart of the teardrop, like a twist-tie. The leaves are smooth, delicate, and carefully handled. The aroma continues the scents of papaya, malt, and roses.

To be honest, I did not expect the actual aroma, taste, and overall quality of the tea liquid to be as high and praise-worthy as it truly was. I expected most of the interest in this product to be produced by the visual observations throughout the experience. To my delight, the Keshary Handspun Black Tea more than delivered, it supremely impressed me at every level. Yes, of course the appearance is fascinating. The level of patience, skill, and care that went in to creating these teardrops is beyond my comprehension. When observing the infused leaves, fully opened up, I truly saw the craftsmanship that went into tying these teardrops. You just have to see it for yourself. But even more surprising, and equally impressive, was the incredible aroma and taste that the liquid held. A clean, beautiful malt taste, combined with fresh oranges, papaya, and a touch of fresh, delicate roses turned my opinion of this product from just “cool to look at” to “unforgettably impressive”! The sweet taste lingers in the mouth, like the floral character of a fine Taiwanese oolong. I am running out of qualifiers for how impressed I am by this product. Again, you just need to experience this for yourself, if you ever get the chance.

I look at the Lumbini Tea Valley USA site, and I do not see this product being offered. Again, I am left scratching my head, I am sorry to say.

On the other hand, many… MANY thanks to the management at Lumbini Tea Valley in Sri Lanka for giving me the once in a lifetime opportunity to try the incredible, unforgettable Keshary Handspun Black Tea. And many thanks to my readers for spending your time with me. Have a great weekend, everyone! Cheers!