Four Seasons Oolong Tea from Thai Tea Suwirun Gardens

Finally, back to tea reviews! I am looking forward to getting to more of these more often again, having been overwhelmed with other personal and business obligations for the past couple of months. I have some Darjeeling second flushes coming, as well as one Darjeeling specialty tea from Jungpana Tea Estate. I also have the quality season black teas from Uva Greenland Estate in Sri Lanka coming soon. To finish things off for my current sample supply, TeaVivre is sending some Chinese puer and white teas. I am also trying to find some exporters from Tanzania who can supply me with black, white, and green tea samples from that part of Africa. Basically, I have some interesting reviews coming up in the near future.

Also, all tea reviews going forward will be conducted according to professional standards. Higher water temperatures and longer steep times will be used to extract all of the character of the leaves. However, I will continue providing recommendations on water temperature and steep times for daily and normal consumption. I have decided to only write detailed descriptions of the first infusion to minimize redundancy in the posts. However, if I do prepare subsequent infusions, the photos will be posted, along with any noteworthy changes in character. You will also notice watermarks on my photos now. After having some trouble with my photos being used without permission or proper credit being given, I was forced to add watermarks.

Now that the updates and disclaimers have been given, let’s get to a review. The subject of today’s review is the Four Seasons Oolong Tea from Thai Tea Suwirun Gardens. Rather than retype information about Thai Tea Suwirun Gardens, click here to find all of the information and photos that I have on The Tea Journeyman Shop Tea Garden’s page. I am proud to offer two oolong teas from Thai Tea Suwirun Gardens at the shop, the Thea Kuan Imm and the Jing Shuan (Jin Xuan or Milk Oolong).

The sample packet has been opened, and a welcoming sweet scent is instantly detectable. Let the journey begin…

Four Seasons Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
Four Seasons Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a pale light green to dark brownish-green color. Leaves are mostly whole, with few large fragments and very small portion of crumbs. Leaves are in semi-ball shape. A coarse pluck of three to four leaves with stem intact is assumed. Oxidation appears to be in the 50% area, give or take 10%. The aroma is very sweet, with scents of brown sugar, honey, and dry tree fruit.

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

Normal at home preparation will be one teaspoon of leaves (about 3 grams) per six ounces (180 ml) of water to be used. Water temperature should be 190°F to 195°F (88 to 90°C). Infusion time should be 1:30 to 2:00 minutes on the first infusion, then 1:00 minute on the second infusion, with 0:15 to 0:30 seconds being added to subsequent infusions. Three to five quality infusions can be expected.

Four Seasons Oolong Tea 1st Infusion
Four Seasons Oolong Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright golden yellow color, perfectly clear and transparent, with few fine and coarse particles. The aroma is quite powerful and sweet, with scents of honey, nectarines, light brown sugar, and a light floral scent that I will compare to lavender. The body is medium, with a lively, mouth filling texture. The taste has notes of honey, nectarines, light brown sugar, and lavender. The aftertaste is persistent, and the notes of lavender and nectarine are very pronounced for an impressive amount of time. The aftertaste honestly reminded me of that of a bite of fresh nectarine. Very impressive!

Four Seasons Oolong Tea 2nd Infusion
Four Seasons Oolong Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion continued to impress by being highly aromatic and flavorful. Taste was slightly lighter, but nicely balanced. No negative notes on the second infusion.

Four Seasons Oolong Tea 3rd Infusion
Four Seasons Oolong Tea 3rd Infusion

The third infusion is also quite sweet in aroma and bright in color. The taste is lighter, but still has plenty of flavor. The aftertaste continues to impress with a lingering floral character. No negative notes on the third infusion.

Four Seasons Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Four Seasons Oolong Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform forest green color, with reddish edges. Many leaves appear to have edges that have been bitten by insects, which helps explain the honey aroma and taste. Most of the leaves are whole, with some very large fragments, and few smaller fragments. Pluck is coarse and ranges from two to three leaves with stem intact, some with small buds attached. The leaves appear to be of either the TTES 17 (Chin Shin) or TTES 12 (Jin Xuan) cultivar, or perhaps a blend of the two. I am siding more with the Chin Shin. Even though some of the leaves are more broad like Jin Xuan leaves, the aroma and taste lacked the creamy (milky) characteristics that Jin Xuan is known for. The aroma of the infused leaves has scents of nectarine, light honey, and light floral.

Thai Tea Suwirun Gardens produces some truly high end oolong teas, in my opinion. I have had several other “four seasons” oolongs before, all from Taiwan, but I do not recall having such pleasant memories of any of those teas like I have of the Four Seasons Oolong from Thai Tea Suwirun Gardens. I have been told by others who are more familiar with the tea gardens of Thailand that Thai Tea Suwirun is good, but there are better tea gardens in Thailand. If that is true, I beg for more information on these other gardens! I believe they are out there, and if they are better than Thai Tea Suwirun, then I am in for some very pleasurable moments of tea sampling in the future! Not to take anything away from Thai Tea Suwirun, as they always leave me with a satisfied smile on my face. If I never find another garden in Thailand, I will be perfectly fine with my supply coming from Thai Tea Suwirun!

Thanks to the management at Thai Tea Suwirun Gardens for including this generous packet of Four Seasons Oolong Tea! Cheers!

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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!