Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Winter is coming...

Hey everyone! I have been so busy lately with tons of personal reflection and work that I havent had time to peck out some thoughts on my tea lately. The over the last month the weather has been quite nice for a cup of something to help warm your chilled bones. I have been sipping on lots and lots of dark roasted oolong and a fair share of something new, Sheng(Raw) Puerh. Ive sorta gone nuts over sheng and im not exactly sure why. It doesnt really fit my normal style but why not push into unknown territory?
 
Get ready, fore the sheng reviews commeth.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tea Cupping - White2Tea Rougui Oolong

 
Please click the video above for my favorite fall "feeling" song. Its worth it, I promise.
 
Happy fall everyone! Today I am going to be taking a look at another offering from Paul at White2Tea; Rougui Yancha! Recently I did a review of the imfamous White Whale puerh brick from Paul and along with my order he snuck in a few samples of other tea that he offers to try. Being the "OolongChaser" I was pleased to see a oolong sample of a tea I have never had. 
Dry Leaf!

To get into it, Yancha is the same as Wuyi oolong, confusing I know. Wuyi refers to the mountains where the tea is grown and yancha refers to the overall class/style of oolong. As I understand it, Yancha encompasses DaHongPao, Mingcong, Rougui, Shuixian and Qizhong. Rougui Yancha literally translates to Cinnamon Rock Tea which can throw you off a bit from the title. I was half expecting a scented/flavored tea until I smelled the dry leaf. Wow is this yancha earthy and pungent. To me, the smell lends itself towards the puerh style rather than oolong. If I had to guess, I would say that its due to the storage of this tea which is unfortunately unknown(to me). Like most yancha, the leaves are tightly twisted with some bits and pieces throughout. The roast looks close to medium and is  This looks like a great tea for a chilly fall evening, especially accompanied by the relaxing bluegrass tune above. Lets get to the brewing!
 
 
 
First Infusion!
Today I also received a few professional tea cupping sets in the mail and I couldnt think of a better way to break one in! A tea cupping set is compromised of a mug with either a single knotch or a knotched teeth design(mine being the latter), a lid, and a bowl. When brewing tea with a cupping set there are specific things that need to be followed according to international cupping guidelines. You simply add 3 grams of tea to the cup, pour boiling water(or whatever temperature is reccomended for the tea being used), and let it brew for 3 minutes. After the three minutes are up, hold the lid and the mug up as if you were going to sip from it and place the bowl over the lid/bottom of the mug and turn 45 degrees to allow the liquor to drain from the mug into the bowl. As someone who has large hands and drinks a large amount of tea in one sitting, I really enjoy this brewing method because you get an upfront in-your-face look at what the tea is going to present. Theres no hiding here. The downside is that you miss the subtle changes between each steep. As you can see to the right, I have a beautiful yellow-orange cup of liquor that does have a faint scent of cinnamon. There's nothing fake or odd about it; just a natural earthy smell with a very far hint at cinnamon. I cant get over how much this smells like puerh. If tea had a family tree(I'm sure it does but I havent  come across it yet), this rougui would be the cousin of some puerh for sure.

Wet Leaf and Second Infusion

The flavor is like most high end wuyi that isnt charcoal roasted into a black crisp; Robust, Flavorful, Heavy. The lighter roast allows for more of the true flavor of the leaves to show through. Im getting notes of forest and mineral. With this steep being so strong, its hard to get into the subtle flavors that the tea has to offer. I will be updating in the future with how this tea brews in a gaiwan.**
 
White2Tea offers this cha at a pricetag of 12.50/50g which makes this a pricy tea.(to me) It is a VERY nice tea and I believe that the pricetag is just, it is out of my "tea fund" range. If you are looking for a heavier, no-nonsence, true wuyi oolong; look no further. White2teas Oolong offerings are just as nice as their Puerh but less talked about. Also, check out Paul's new program he is starting: A monthly subscription that will deliver tea to your door!








 

 








 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Music City Tea - Nashville,TN

Jenny of Music City Tea!
A few weeks ago I was in Nashville to visit with some of my girlfriends family and I happened to remember that there was a teashop in the city! Naturally, I had to have a visit! Upon entering the strip mall where Music City Tea is located, I was greeted by "Tea" in huge letters above the storefront. Upon entering the corner shop, I was enveloped by tea related items everywhere. Making my way around floor shelving full of tea pots and gaiwans, I went to the back of the store to say hello to the owner.

One packed island!
Different view of island!
Unfortunately Jenny, the owner, was ill and wasn't able to drink tea or stand due to doctors orders but still entertained guests and genuinely looked happy to be in her store. I sat down with Jenny to talk about her teas and tea ware available. I was told that most, if not all, of her teas come from her family's tea farm in the wuyi region. Being an Oolong fan, I couldn't help but crack a smile. She went on about the care that they take and told me to sit at the main tea table for samples of a few teas of my choosing. With the assistance of some friends(of Jenny's) helping run the store; I choose to sample a dark roasted wuyi, a green tieguanyin, and a flavored tea my girlfriend was interested in.
Different view of island!
Different view of island!
Our samples were prepared "gong fu" style by a child of one of the friends helping run the store. While the tea may not have been prepared to my standards/tastes, I cant help but commend the young girl for being so involved in culture at such a young age. I was able to get the notes I needed from each cup prepared and found that the High Roasted Wuyi Oolong was a tea that fits my current flavor profile. I can say that all the tea I saw looked very nice and was priced very fair.

Lots of pictures of Jennys
family farm
Pictures of tea sets/tables
After our session I wandered the small store looking for some new tea items. Jenny makes it hard not to spend your whole paycheck in her store. Like a traditional Chinese woman, she is a bartering queen. I would pick up an item to ask the price and would consistently be quoted less, sometimes much less than the tag on the item. I was able to pick up a full set of gongfu tea tools, a 100g bag of the dark roasted wuyi, a small container of the tea my girlfriend liked, a pixiu tea pet, two bamboo coasters, and a scent cup for just over 40 dollars. I could have easily (and strongly debated) picked up a tea table, a new yixing pot, or even a few more bags of her family's tea!

With Jenny's warm welcoming presence and the quaint store with teaware on nearly every surface of the shelf's, my visit to Music City Tea was a great experience. This was my first visit to a tea store specifically catering to gong fu style brewing and I was not let down at all. All I can do is advise you to stop at Jenny's store if you are ever around Nashville, Tn. She will take care of you!

*I wasn't able to take pictures of everything in the store. I was too interested in looking and talking with everyone!



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

2002 White2tea White Whale

Hello everyone! I'm back again with a tea that has been getting notable review within the tea community as well as the "blogging circuit." As someone who has some bad experiences with puerh early on in my tea resurgence, I tend to ignore most pu' talk but this little brick has caught my attention due to the overwhelming positive reviews from some of my favorite reviewers. Hobbes, Jakub, Nicole Martin of Tea for me Please, as well as most forum reviews have all been quite surprised at the quality/price ratio that Paul of White2Tea has brought to the table with the White Whale brick.

Paul describes the 100g brick as a cha that can easily go head to head with other "famous" teas from the 2002 era. I'm guessing he is referring the the factory cakes that sell for ridiculous prices due to the popularity. At the price point of $23(recently up from the $15 price tag) for a 100g brick, this tea is quite a bargain in the puerh world for being a raw puerh that is already 12 years old and has been dry stored.

When I opened the cleverly stamped whale wrapper I am greeted by a nicely pressed brick of puerh. Being a newbie with puerh, I don't feel comfortable talking about the mix of leaves or the quality of the cake because I don't really have the background for it. All I can say is that it has a nice earthy smell but it doesn't have a pungent smell like many other types of tea. I'm guessing that is due to its compression.

Up Close and Personal!
I decided to just dive into the brick right away. I took my tea cake knife and wedged it in and found that it was quite tough to break pieces off in a clean chunk. I would guess that its my lack of experience is showing here but I was able to get 4g of small chunk/dust(hey, it was my first time with a brick of tea!) to put in my 3oz porcelain pot. Taking off boiling water, I filled the little pot and did a quick rinse. THERE'S THE SMELL. The little pot now fragrant with the most interesting smell I have ever smelled from a puerh. It smells of earth, wood, and other smells I am not familiar with. Its very interesting. The color is as one would expect from an aged pu', dark-orange/red.

3rd infusion!
Most of the flavor notes that I remember from my puerh sampling days were woody, leather, or tobacco notes; basically a smokers old leather shoe. This White Whale tea isn't anything like I remember from my previous experience. It does have a leather note to the flavor but its smooth, sweet(barely), and complex. I actually like this. I like this a lot. I especially like the warming effect I get when I sip this gem of a cha. With fall creeping in, I can see many pots of this brick in my future. I'm getting at least 6-8 wonderful brews out of this tea when pushing it hard. Those of you who enjoy flash brewing will certainly add 4-6 steeps. I enjoy a full bodied cup so I tend to brew heavy and hot. At 23 bucks for 100g, its a no brainer. You dont have to drink puerh everyday to know that this is a good quality tea for a good price. Paul is a great guy with a big heart and huge passion for tea. When you get someone with those qualities as a business owner, the business usually tends to be high up on my list. I highly suggest those of you looking to take a step up into quality teas, specifically puerh, to give white2tea a try!





Monday, September 15, 2014

My First Tea Pet

As a "westerner" who is interested in Asian culture in general, especially tea, I read as much as much as my free time allows on any interesting subject I can find regarding tea or Asian cultural beliefs. . I do this because it is interesting and I love learning about cultures. People are very close minded these days and if I can keep a mind without boundarys, it can only make me a more conscious cultural person. With that little bit out of the way, on to something that is new to me: Tea Pets.

 Jin Chan*
Tea pets are little figurines that accompany you while you are drinking tea. They are generally made from a yixing clay but can be made out of stone, plastic, or various other mediums. The pets are usually made into zodiac animals that symbolize various meanings from Chinese lore. My personal favorites are Lu Yu(which I have only seen online), Pee pee boy/Squirting frog, and Pixiu. Pixiu is commonly shown as a winged lion who is the protector or Feng Shui. Pixiu can also be shown as a turtle, frog, dragon, or the classic winged lion. My tea pet is the frog form of pixiu who symbolizes wealth. Pixiu has a craving for the smell of gold and silver and likes to bring its master the money he finds. Who could say no to that? I acquired my Pixiu frog on my recent trip to Nashville,TN from the quaint little teashop called Music City Tea. (Look for a post in the future about all my goodies I got on my trip)

Tea pets are little mascots that grow with you on your tea journey. You always want to "feed" the pet by discarding your rinse(if you do so) or left over tea over their body's so that they change colors(stain) over time. The more tea you drink, the more your pet will be fed, the more he/she will stain, and the happier he/she will be! My Pixiu does have the ability to change colors a little bit. When cool, he is a deep gold color(the right frog in the photo above) and when hot water, or tea, is poured over his body he turns a bright vibrant gold(frog on left). I don't know a lot about tea pets but I can say that I am quite excited to have a little guy around who brings me coins and like to drink tea! I think we will be great friends.
In action!
 
Addendum: I'm fairly sure I was told wrong about who my pet is. I'm led to believe that this is  Jin Chan from further research. I do not want to erase the blog/information so please be aware that this is more than likely Jin Chan and not pixiu.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Dark Roast TieGuanYin Oolong from Mountain Tea!

As you can probably deduce from my other posts, I LOVE DARK OOLONG. It's one tea that I thoroughly enjoy every aspect of it. The look, the smell, the ability to age, as well as many other reasons make this a tea I will certainly seek out for a long time. My love for high roasted teas came when I had my first sip of a 2009 high roasted TieGuanYin from JKTeaShop earlier this summer. I was upset when I returned to the site to find that it was removed and replaced with a 2011-2012 version. After trying both replacements to the 2009, I wasn't particularly blown away with the substitute offerings. Thus, a great search!
Borrowed from MT!
As one does when they aren't sure where to start, I returned back to one of my favorite tea vendors: Mountain Tea. MT has been discusses on this blog more than any other company because I really do enjoy their offerings and they have very cheap prices. This particular tea at hand is their Dark Roast TGY. For a measely $15 bucks you can get 5 ounces of this black gold. Seriously, 3 bucks an ounce. Im not going to sit here and blab on and on about this tea but I will say that its better than 3 bucks an ounce.

Now to the good stuff; The smell that comes from the bag is a rich smokey note that makes me salivate. Its a touch strong so I'm not really detecting anything else off the dry tea via scent. Visually it is crispy dark TGY rolled oolong. Its not going to win any beauty contests but it will win your taste buds. The flavor I get after a quick rinse is a heavy charcoal flavor with a delicate TGY back. It had small notes of cinnamon, caramel and possibly chocolate. These three notes are very muted and took a lot to find due to the charcoal fest happening in my mouth. Don't let me discourage you with all this char-talk, I do in fact enjoy the charcoal flavor.

The longevity of this tea is about 5-6 infusions gongfu cha which isn't bad considering the price. The color of the liquor starts out with a mild brown and develops into a deep rich amber/brown color. Its rich, sweet, and comforting. Now for why I'm so excited about this tea; This tea is one that I feel has the characteristics that will let it age extremely well. The only downside(to some) to this tea is the charcoal flavor that is so strong. With some age, the charcoal flavor will theoretically subside and balance into what I feel is an amazing budget dark roast oolong! I will be purchasing a sizable bag to experiment with ageing as soon as I have some Tea-Funds available! Stay thirsty friends!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

White Peony (Bai MuDan) Tea

I recently got a goodie bag from Teavivre with some of their teas they say will cool me down with their "cooling effect". I was pretty intrigued by this "cooling effect" claim so I decided to do a little bit of research. The cooling effect is something that is a part of traditional Chinese medicine; actually there is a lot of effects to Chinese medicine. One can get a warming effect (a rise of the body's internal temperature), a cooling effect (a drop in the body's internal temperature), and a neutral effect (No change to the internal temperature). While I have noticed the effects of the warming energy of tea, I've always attributed this to the temperature of the tea itself. According to Chinese Medicine, its not and that is very interesting to me. Reading further, I learned that some teas are better suited for certain times of the year due to their energy released into the human body. In the spring/summer(warm months), it is best to consume white tea, raw puerh, and various other green tea/oolongs. In the winter(cold months), it is best to consume aged/cooked puerh, roasted oolongs, and generally darker liquor teas. Traditional Chinese Medicine is something that is complicated, to me, but is interesting to see what plants/herbs/tea can "heal" the body with its specific energy.

Borrowing from Teavivre!
Moving on, I picked out a tea that I enjoy when I am really thirsty and want a light refreshing brew; White Tea. I haven't had Bai MuDan before but due to my experience with Silver Needle, I had a general idea of what I would be tasting. I picked out a smaller gaiwan (100ml) and decided to put the full 5g sample in because having 2g left over is sort of a hassle, plus I usually like my tea on the stronger side. The leaf itself is totally different from the silver needle but there are a few needles in the mix of leaves.  The smell of the dry leaves are quite nice. Earthy-Hay-maybe a little dirt. It may sound un-appealing but I know that this is gonna be a good flavorful pot of tea! The color is a light yellow with orange hues. More then likely this is because of the oxidation that occurs in the processing.

Borrowing from teavivre!
Using 180-190 degree water, I did a fast 5sec steep that I dumped out. I wanted to clean the leaves and wake them up for their full potential. Second infusion was about 10 seconds. The color was a nice pale gold color with the un-mistakeable smell of hay. White Tea liquor reminds me of being on our family farm as a child. Earthy flavors power through with a slight hay like sweetness that is comparable to sucking on a real piece of hay. I have no idea why or how white tea gets this flavor profile but it really does make me nostalgic for simpler time when I was running through fields and climbing in barns. The viscosity of the liquor is wonderful and thick! Its almost syrupy. I'm sure this is mostly due to the amount of leaf I used. I get 5-6 good infusions and the color starts fading into 2 maybe 3 OK infusions. I kept the infusion about the same due to how much leaf I was using. Ive always felt that white tea doesn't really have a long infusion life though.

Now back to how I feel internally; I do get this sense of being cool after I drank this tea. It is an odd sensation. Ive noticed that sometimes when I drink high roasted teas before bed, I have trouble cooling down and can even sweat during the night. With this tea, I did feel cool even though the 80 degree/80% humidity here has been hellacious. Its not a miracle tea and its not going to make you cold but you do get a feeling of being cool/comfortable. Its a very subtle feeling that makes me want to pay more attention to what effects the tea has in those little precious leaves.

Monday, August 11, 2014

I'm on the Darjeeling express!

Darjeeling, Darjeeling, you give me a wonderful feeeeling!

Earlier this week I decided to stop by my local loose leaf tea shop to catch up with the owner and check out her new seasonal offerings. After talking over a cup of my favorite pineapple herbal tea, she showed me to the tea wall to see if anything caught my interest. Most of her teas are the typical teas you would find in a local tea shop, basic and un-interesting to most (they play well to the general public) but every now and then she will pick up some premium stuff for the people who enjoy "finer" teas. This time she had some nice first flush darjeeling black tea and moonshine darjeeling. Being a black tea "noob", I had almost no knowledge about the tea at hand; All I knew was that it is an Indian tea and some of high end first flushes can demand a pretty rupee.

As an oolong drinker, I tend to stay in the large tea classification because I can drink anything from neon green oolong to charcoal crispy oolong and never really get bored. There is so much variety in oolong I haven't felt the need to look anywhere else. I have always seen darjeeling advertised as a black tea but I was informed that darjeeling also has a broad spectrum of flavors and prices. "The Champagne of Tea" can range from a white tea sort of brew to a dark typical black tea broth and because of the way its processed, it is technically an oolong tea . Darjeeling tea undergoes a hard wither which causes an incomplete oxidization; an oolong "guideline" of sorts.

Darjeeling tea is picked in 5 flushes (harvests) but most tea drinkers outside of India only see 3-4 of the 5. Here is a description of all the flushes.(Taken from Wikipedia)
  • "First flush is harvested in mid-March following spring rains, and has a gentle, very light color, aroma, and mild astringency.
  • In between is harvested between the two "flush" periods.
  • Second flush is harvested in June and produces an amber, full bodied, muscatel-flavored cup.
  • Monsoon or rains tea is harvested in the monsoon (or rainy season) between second flush and autumnal, is less withered, consequently more oxidized, and usually sold at lower prices. It is rarely exported, and often used in masala chai.
  • Autumnal flush is harvested in the autumn after the rainy season, and has somewhat less delicate flavour and less spicy tones, but fuller body and darker colour."
  • While doing my research on darjeeling, I kept seeing a word I haven't seen before; muscatel. Muscatel is described as a flavor that is unique to the muscatel grape and is spicy and sweet. Its actually kind of hard to describe but when you taste it you will understand. "
    Darjeeling First Flush

    Now, with all that fun stuff out of the way, lets get to tasting! Like I was talking about before, I got an ounce of 1st flush Darjeeling for a whopping $15 and some change from a local shop. Quite pricey but not the most expensive Ive seen. The tea is pretty to look at. It looks like tiny twisted wuyi oolong leaves. The smell from the dry leaf is amazing; it is earthy and has a smell that is hard to place... as odd as it sounds, it is sort of musky like an old book.

    Just so you know, I had no idea how to brew this tea when I sat down at my tea table. I decided to brew in a gaiwan with a 1:1 ratio of leaf to water; in my experience this is a good starting point. The next decision was water temperature. With it being a "black tea" I thought off boiling was appropriate. Being cautious, I did one quick flash rinse for about 5 seconds. The broth wasn't strong at all and only had a very very slight flavor. Next was a 30 second steep which produced a beautiful golden liquor with an entrancing smell. The flavor of darjeeling takes you places within your mind. It took me to a high mountain region over-looking valley full of fog with rows upon rows of tea plants.  a beautiful sunrise creeps up past the mountains to envelope the land in rich honey colored warmth. Beautiful--pure beauty.

    As to the flavor of Darjeeling, its hard to describe well. I got hints of spice, moss, and typical "black tea" flavor from the first few sips but there are other flavors that are so subtle I cant even describe them. Little hints of fruit/vegetal flavors dance back and fouth behind the dominant spicy moss. It does tend to finish pretty astringently but not as astringent as some green teas. Lets just say its awesome and I cant wait to try the other flushes.

    Next infusion was 45 seconds and produces another infusion as tasty as the last. Nothing new in the flavor profile, that I can detect, but still as enjoyable. I did two more infusion on the leaves adding 15 seconds per infusion. These last two are tapering off in flavor (and color) but I don't mind as the liquor is still rewarding in its own way. As someone who did not expect to like black teas at all, I was pleasantly surprised by this tea. In my mind black tea is this bitter over sweetened drink that is overabundant here in the south but this has completely changed my mind. The delicate flavors darjeeling tea gives are truly unique and completely give the ability for a immersing experience. If you haven't had a darjeeling tea before, consider picking up a little bit to expand your tea horizon.

    Pictures later today!

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014

    Oppa Grandpa style!

    Most of us tea drinkers don't have the luxury to sit and enjoy a cup of tea whenever we choose. I would say most of us have jobs and responsibilities that, generally, limit the type and style of tea we can have. In the USA the best tea someone can get on the go is either some sort of over sugared - under brewed tea, so a quality cup of oolong is damn near impossible to find. This has lead me to become a pretty crafty tea-head when I'm not at home with my teapots, hot water kettle, etc.

    To start out, please understand that this isn't going to make tea like at home. You aren't going to get the same pleasures out of the process of gong fu but for those of us who don't want to succumb to sodas or various other beverages, It still makes a decent substitute.

    From teanerd!
    My favorite way to brew while away from home is a style called "grandpa style". Ive read a few grandpa style brewing techniques and each work fine from my experience. The first "technique" works if you have hot water available where ever you are. Take a glass that holds 16oz or so, preferably a clear glass, and add a teaspoon(or a pinch or two) of dry leaves. Simply add hot water and wait until its a color of your liking and sip from the glass, using your mouth as a filter for the leaves. Keep in mind that the tea leaves will continue to infuse the water, so drink up! Ive used this for white tea and oolong tea with pretty decent results although you will get asked about what you are drinking a lot outside of tea knowledgeable people.




    Starbucks grandpa style!


    The second technique is very similar to the first but instead of hot water, you use cold water. I like to stop by Starbucks due to the water they use(reverse osmosis-triple filtered) and get a big cup; after all, Its free(usually)! I simply take a few pinches of tea and swirl it into the water and wait. This is my preferred way to brew at work and on trips due to Starbucks being more prevalent than hairs on white tea! Plus, you can use the straw as a "filter" of sorts by keeping it at the bottom corner. This is not a joke! This technique has saved my tea cravings numerous times and is especially good in the warmer months due to using cold or ice water.






    The last technique could really be argued that it falls in the category of grandpa style because the container has a mesh filter. Either way, its different than my other tea ware so I think it fits best in this category of brewing. If you're a tea nerd like myself then you either own or you've seen a travel tea cup like the one to the right. They work very well for all types of tea and are convenient for on the go. The mesh screen is a very fine screen and catches pretty much every speck of tea from the liquor. When I got mine, I think I payed about 30 bucks USD which isn't horrible for a (hot or cold) cup when your away from your pots.


    I hope this crash course in grandpa style helps out whomever reads this tiny blog and can make your tealess day a better one!

    Thursday, July 24, 2014

    Liu An Gua Pian from Teavivre

    Hello! Today we are going to be taking a look at Liu An Gua Pian from Teavivre! Liu An Gua Pian  is a green tea that comes from the Qiyun Mountain in the Anhui Province of China. The harvest time for this tea was May 3rd of this year(2014), which makes me wonder if this is the Chinese equivalent of Shincha in Japanese tea. This tea looks like it was slightly rolled into a needle shape without the buds or stems; just beautiful vibrant green leaves! After a little bit of research, I learned that Liu An Gua Pian is one of China's top ten tea and is made from large mature leaves that are hand rolled into a slightly plump needle giving it the nickname "Melon Seeds" in China.

    This is one of my first ventures into Chinese green tea and I have a feeling Teavivre has spoiled me on quality with this one. The smell is sweet, fresh, slightly vegetal, and I'm not sure if my mind is playing tricks on me but I'm getting a hint of smokiness. Not being able to wait any longer, I grabbed a 100ml gaiwan and put the water on to boil. Today I'm going to use 4 grams of leaf in my gaiwan. After the water is done boiling I let it cool down a bit so I dont cause any scorching of the fresh tea. After a few minutes the water is down to 180 which is about where I like to start with greens(in general). I did a quick 5 second rinse and re-filled my gaiwan for the first steep. 30 seconds later I poured a light yellow liquor into my pitcher and took a smell. It smells so sweet and bright which is somewhat opposite of the green tea normality or at least the sweetness is.

    Upon first taste, I certainly get a sweetness Ive only tasted in high quality Japanese greens except I'm not getting an umami flavor with the Liu An Gua Pian. At first I'm getting a vegetal sweetness reminiscent of fresh green beans. Luckily this tea doesn't have an astringency that greens tend to have and I am happy about that.

    The next infusion was 60 seconds and produced a slightly stronger brew than before. The color is a little deeper and the smell is certainly more pronounced. I'm picking up a nutty spiciness I wasn't noticing with the first infusion. This infusion is still very smooth and sweet with a nice spicy/nutty/vegetable note as well. I'm enjoying this very much!

    The third and forth infusions are still quite nice but are on the downward flavor spiral. The sweetness is about half on the third and even less on the fourth. The nutty/green bean/spiciness is diminished as well but not as dramatic on the third infusion as it is on the fourth. Still, this tea is a GREAT introduction into Chinese greens! It may not be as famous as Longjin or Bi luo chun but it can stand on its own quite well.

    I did take this tea into the fifth and sixth infusions to see how far I could go but alas, the wonderful flavors it was producing before have left a plant flavored water behind. I think in the future I will brew this slightly different by either combining infusions 1-4 into a cha hai or brewing in a larger pot for a longer steep. I think this would help balance the flavors into a serveable condition so there wouldn't be a noticeable difference between each infusion/cup. I tend to like this brewing with greens if they don't become astringent with long brewing times.

    Overall I really enjoyed this tea from Teavivre! Price wise this is about the middle of the road in price. For 100g(bag) it is $20.90, which comes out to ~$6 an ounce. Not horrible at all! I want to thank Alison at Teavivre for her kindness in supplying me with numorus samples without even knowing I would even review them. Certianly check them out!

    -C

    Monday, July 21, 2014

    Hiatus

    Hello all! I have been very busy with life lately and haven't been able to focus on our beloved tea as much. I have not given up on my "project" and should be getting back to posting some reviews on here! I have a few things in cue from some generous companies that should be poping up with in the next week or so.

    Coming soon:
    -Two quality's of TYG from JKTeaShop in a comparison review
    -A whole mess of teas from Teavivre
    -A tea from thailand called "Blue Chai"
    -I still have a few supermarket teas to talk about as well as a few ive missed from JKTea,Mountain Tea, and a bag of Baozhong from Stephanie at Tea Masters!

    So, TONS of reviews are coming!

    Thursday, July 10, 2014

    Superfine Taiwan Qing Xiang Dong Ding Oolong from Teavivre

    Good day! I received a package from Teavivre a little while back and wasn't able to sit and focus on the teas until tonight. I have a whole slew of exciting new teas to try and attempt to describe to you how they taste. Being an "Oolong-Head" tea drinker, naturally I chose the dong ding out of the batch. This dong ding seems to be different than what Ive seen sold online because it isn't roasted. From reading Teavivre's product page, qing xiang basically means "unroasted". This is a green oolong with a "superfine" label, which one can only assume is top quality. Even though my pallet has been moving towards the bigger beefier older brothers of the oolong spectrum, (Roasted, Aged Oolongs) I can still enjoy the lighter/brighter flavors from a nice high mountain oolong. Let dive right in!

    Due to teavivre's site being so packed with information, I would rather you read what they say about the tea at hand. "Dong Ding Oolong Tea is a kind of Pouchong Tea. It is named after its production place, Dongding Mountain, Nantou. Pouchong Tea refers to the oolong tea that is not heavily roasted. The catechinic acid in the leaves are oxidized for only 8% to 18%. The tea is in dark green color. Tea liquid presents greenish yellow or golden yellow color, very clean and bright. The tea tastes mellow and sweet, has refreshing and floral aroma. Fragrant substances in tea leaves existing in the pattern that tender leaf, spring tea and high mountain tea contains higher amount than old leaf, summer tea and low altitude teas. This is the reason that spring tea and high mountain tea has high aroma." Sounds like a winner to me. On to the steeping!

    I decided to brew this in my little 4ml porcelain houhin with 5g of rolled leaf waiting for a warm bath. The leave look to be of good quality and the balls are all rolled about the same size. First things first, a quick rinse. The smell of a quality tea is emanating from the little white vessel. Smells of cinnamon/nutmeg, grass, orchid, and sweetness dance in the air coercing me to give them another bath. First steep was around 30 seconds. The liquor is bright yellow and means business. This tea is very fragrant which really rounds out a nice tea session. As fragrant as the liquor is, the first steeping seems to be a little light in flavor. Still, very enjoyable.

    The second and third infusions are where this tea came to life! Typical high mountain "cinnamon/nutmeg" flavor is coming through with a nice grassy/vegital finish. Very smooth and buttery with a touch of sweetness! I know that in tea culture you should finish your cup with three sips but with this cha, it was proving to be a challenge to follow the old tradition. The second infusion was 45seconds and the third at 1 minute.

    As I finished the next infusion I could tell from the liquor that the cha was loosing steam. As such a young tea, one can only be happy with the qi that is given. Perhaps I was a little rough with this tea. My water was probably a little hotter that it should have been, times probably went exact but I can say that I feel that I got a good grasp on what this cha is all about. The fourth infusion was pretty light in flavor but by the fifth, the young'un have given up.
     

    Monday, June 16, 2014

    2013 Ban Yan Wuyi Medium Roasted Qi Lan Rock Tea from Jkteashop.com

    My next cha from JkTeaShop(JKTS) is one of their Wuyi Oolong offerings --- Ban Yan Wuyi Medium Roasted Qi Lan Rock Tea! (What a mouthful) I have been interested in wuyi oolongs for awhile and this is my first "real" wuyi rock tea. I think Ive tasted some low quality "wuyi" at some point but I don't recall enjoying or not enjoying it.

    To be completely honest, I know very little about this tea or where it comes from. The extent of my knowledge is that wuyi oolongs are picked at high altitudes and they are grown in between rocks thus giving the tea a mineral/rock like flavor note. Fortunately, JKTS has great descriptions about their teas and here's what they have on their site: "Qi Lan tea variety is introduced and cultivated in Wuyi mountain in early 1990s from Nanping city, which is the border city of Wuyishan city. After over 15 year's cultivation in Wuyi mountain, plus the high Wuyi rock tea making skills, the Wuyi Qi Lan tea has its very unique aroma & taste from its original variety taste.

    Wuyi Qi Lan is limited in production yield in Wuyi mountain. Its medium-roasted delivers better orchid aroma & slightly palm leaf aroma, and soft tea liquid. Its lingering aftertaste sweetness is very amazing and the overall mouth feeling is complex and changing as time goes by after sipping the tea.

    All of our Wuyi rock tea is baked extremely slowly by charcoal, and only arrive in the market in August of every year. So the new Wuyi rock tea still has a little bit charcoal feeling in taste. As the tea breathe under the air, the charcoal aroma will disappear slowly and the tea's original taste and aroma will come out."

    In the Wuyi category of tea, this Ban Yan is my first charcoal roasted cha. If its anything like the TGY I reviewed recently then I'm sure ill love it. On to the tasting notes!

    As per usual, I took 5g of dry leaf and added it to my freshly heated gaiwan/houhin. The smell is roasted sweetness mixed with a very light floral scent. The floral smell is so light that I couldnt really pin point it until I read the description again. Next was a quick rinse and an immediate infusion for 30 seconds. The liquor is a medium darkness and still quite transparent. The body is medium thick and the flavor is lighter than expected. Im getting a very light sweet roast flavor that lingers on the pallet for sometime after you sip. Ive always read that Wuyi Oolongs have a mineral or "rock" taste. To be honest, I dont know what that tastes like and cant tell if its there or not. This is hard tea to describe... I know that I do like it. Second infusion was about 45 seconds and produced a similar color as the first infusion. The flavor is nice on this infusion. Im pretty much getting what the first was displaying amplified up a little more. Im really starting to enjoy these roasted teas at night. Its almost like a desert with the smooth roasted sweetness they give. I will say that roasted aged teas have a "better" sweetness but this one isnt bad.

    I stopped taking notes after the second infusion because I was working on something and wasnt focusing on the tea. I believe I took the leaves to 5 or 6 infusions before I felt that the liquor was too thin and weak for me. The flavor for this cha didnt change, or at least I couldnt detect any, on the pallet like some complex teas are known for. It was certianly enjoyable and for a 50g bag its 8.80 and for a 100g bag its 16.80. Its pretty affordable for such a nice tea and it is my favorite Wuyi I got in my samples order from JkTeaShop. I think im starting to get the medium to high roasted teas and why they are popular. Its certianly a nice change from my Green Oolongs I tend to drink most of the time.  On to the next cha!

    -C
    Pictures soon!

    Tuesday, June 10, 2014

    2009 High-roasted Tie Guan Yin from Jkteashop.com!

    From my past notes of tea on this blog you may have noticed that its been pretty much green oolongs and not much else. Green Oolongs are probably my favorite genre of tea, especially in the summer months. I have been getting a little bored with the floral notes of green oolongs so Ive decided to look around for something different in the massive category of Oolong.
     
    Bottom of sample bag--DARK CHA!
    My first order from JKTeaShop(JKTS) was a "sample" order of various teas that I was interested in trying. JKTS has the option of ordering a sample, about ~15g, of all their teas that they offer for very cheap.($1.50-$5.00 a sample) This is a great option for people who haven't had a style of tea and cant afford to buy 2-5oz of a tea they don't know if they will like. I ended up getting lots of Wuyi teas as well as various other teas. One tea out of the samples I ordered that really lured me in was the 2009 High Roasted Tie Guan Yin. Ive never liked any of the high roasted teas Ive tried but the smell of the dry leaves of this tea is hypnotic  I'm getting notes of chocolate, caramel, and a possibly a hint of coffee out of the bag! My mouth is watering from just smelling the cha.
     
    As always, I weigh out 5g and toss it into my warmed houhin/gaiwan and the dry leaf notes are amplified! Its reminding me of cake and sweets. It makes me wonder why I was giving the cold shoulder to such an amazing genre of tea. On to the brewing notes!
     
    2nd Steeping
    To start off I did a flash rinse. The color of the water was pretty dark so I decided to take the flash steeping route. The first infusion was 10 sec and produced a beautiful dark translucent liquor. The flavor is a little light in this infusion. I'm getting a caramel/brown sugar sweetness but its only slightly there. I'm craving more flavor out of this tea so I take the time of infusion up to 30 sec on the second infusion. In hindsight, this is the starting time I should have used. Flavor is about 50% more than the first infusion and I'm absolutely loving it. I would like the flavor to be a little more but for an unflavored tea, this is a beautifully sweet complex treasure. Very sweet caramel notes are coming through with a hint of something I cant quite place ... is it coffee or cake... After thinking for a bit I decided it was a roasted malt flavor one would taste in the grains used for making a dark beer. Its certainly a fantastic tea for an after dinner sweetness. Next infusion(3rd) was for 45 seconds with freshly boiled water. Absolutely delicious brew. Lots of sweetness and a complex roasty malted caramel chocolate swirl of flavor on your tongue... I regret not buying a bag as big as my room. I'm in love with this tea. The next infusion(4th) brings less sweetness but is still an enjoyable cup as it still has some of the attractive qualities of the 2nd infusion just less flavor. The 5th infusion is getting to the point of being too light for me. Although, I am picking up a new flavor/aroma. In this cup I'm getting a slight sweet cigar smell that is reminiscent of an Acid Blond, one of my favorite cigars! Unfortunately the flavor is so light I cant get overly excited. I decided to take the leaves two more infusions so see what else was hiding. Apparently nothing, the tea has given up like an obese person trying to run a marathon. The two latter infusion brought nothing more than a slightly tinged water.
    
    Delicious Tea!
     
    After thoroughly enjoying a session with this wonder tea I went on to JKTS to order as much as my tea budget would allow. After searching around I wasnt able to find the tea. After an email to JKTS, I found out that the 2009 tea was gone but they have a much better "2011" High Roasted for the same price. Well crap...Despite not being able to get it anymore, I was completely blown away with this tea. I wasn't expecting such a complex sweet offering from something that I wasn't expecting to enjoy. I know now not to judge a tea by its color or roast!



    Tuesday, June 3, 2014

    Supermarket Tea: A-Li-Shan from Tradition Tea Co.

    Hello all! Recently Ive become interested in the common "standard" of tea for Asia. Do they go for supermarket tea or always buy premium? I guess the same could be applied to American's (westerners) in regards to coffee. Who goes to Starbucks vs. Folgers at home. Thinking over a cup of high mountain oolong, I decided to seek out as many supermarket teas to compare the quality to some of the single farm/mountain artisan teas I've been drinking. I wasn't able to find a lot of information on the company... actually, I wasn't able to find ANY information. I'm sure there is a Chinese site out there but even if I found it, which I didn't, I wouldn't be able to read it.

    First up in this experiment is an offering from Tradition Tea Co., A-Li-Shan Oolong!(Yes, that's how they spelled it.) I was shocked to find this tea in my local Asian market because teas from Ali Shan Mountain(s) are fairly sought after by us tea enthusiasts. Teas from this area are generally sweet and floral with creamy notes. I was a little concerned how good the tea would be with a mere $9.99 price tag for 100g (about $2.80 an ounce).

    The tea is tightly rolled balls of green oolong in various sizes ranging from dust particles to 7-8mm(estimation) in diameter. Certainly not as "pretty" as my normal green oolongs but the proof is in the taste! Speaking of taste, lets get started with tasting notes!

    Today I used my houhin with 5-6g of the cha. To start off I did an extra long wash(20-30 sec) with off boiling to get rid of anything on the leaves as well as debris that may have been trapped in the rolled balls. The smell coming from the leaves after the wash is very inviting. Sweet with a touch of floral. The first infusion was 30 seconds and produced a very light liquor with a muted flavor. I am getting a very light floral note but not much of anything else. The second infusion brought out more from the tea. I steeped for 40 seconds and I am getting floral and fruitiness with a lingering sweetness after the tea goes down. Not bad for such a cheap tea! To me this would be a good tea to try for someone interested in Li Shan teas but isn't ready to shell out for premium. The third infusion(50 seconds) is similar to the second but with about half of the flavor sticking around. The sweetness is still there but I can tell its going to fade; It doesn't linger as much as the last pour. The fourth infusion(1 min 10 seconds) gives an even lighter brew that is similar to the first with a hair more sweetness. I would call these leaves spent after this infusion.

    After four infusions the tea gave up but to be honest, I wasn't expecting it to have the Qi of what I normally drink. You also get 3 times the amount of tea you would normally get if you purchased artisan tea, so you cant really fault that. Overall, I thought the Tradition A-Li-Shan was fairly good for the price plus you get a "reusable" tea tin! I would absolutely pick some up if my tea budget is blown or I'm being frugal with my funds.

    PICTURES COMING SOON!

    Tuesday, May 27, 2014

    Oriental Beauty (Bai Hao)

    Bragger's Tea, Dong Fang Mei Ren, Bai Hao---Oriental Beauty. This is a tea with a rich, and entertaining, back story that I will not be talking about in this blog. The wise bloggers, Teamasters and Marshaln, have posted about Oriental Beauty with in depth writings far better than I could peck out on this blog. I will include links at the bottom of the page for those who are interested.

    
    Oriental Beauty oolong cake.
    With that out of the way, lets talk about the star of the blog today: Mountain Tea's(again, I know...) Oriental Beauty Oolong Cake! I was drawn to this tea due to Mountain Tea's unique way of offering the cha. It's pressed into a 'cake' form which is usually, from what I've seen, a popular form to offer Puerh cha due to the ease of storage and aging. That brings up the question, is this oolong made for aging?

    Not wanting to wait a few decades, I decided to dive right into this cake with an open pallet. As you can see in the picture to the left, the pressed tea presents itself with beautiful earthy colors. Although the tea has darker leaves this is due to the high oxidation (60%), not the roast(0%). Due to how this tea is made, having bugs nibble on the tea leaves, there aren't any chemicals used in the growing process making it an organic offering. The tea is pressed into 3.8oz cakes and comes wrapped in paper just like puerh beengs. Mountain Tea is charging $22/cake making this tea ~$5.79 an ounce. Not the cheapest but certainly not the most expensive cha I've seen.

    Cake packaging with yixing and cup 
    I tried this tea in a few different brewing vessels to see which emphasized the notes of the tea. When brewed in a yixing pot, the oriental beauty was slightly muted giving the liquor a flat balanced taste. I preferred my porcelain houhin's brew over the yixing due to porcelain's ability to give more of the high notes and allow each note to "pop" a little more.
    
    First infusion.
    Third infusion





    On to the tasting notes! As I do with all my tea, I weighed out 5g of dry leaf and added it to my houhin. Using off boiling water I started the infusions. After a quick rinse, the first infusion gives a light honey colored liquid that is inviting to drink. The flavor is in its infancy, possibly hinting at a nectary fruit to develop in later infusions. The flavor Bai Hao cha gives is hard for my mind to describe. Its reminiscent of puerh without the old leather boot and tobacco notes but is nothing like raw puerh. Its very hard to pin point... The second infusion's liquor was very different from the first. It's starting to lend itself towards a roasted tea, yet the roast is 0%. Can high oxidation give such a rich liquor? Must be.  The flavor opens up in this infusion; as most teas tend to do. I'm getting a strong apricot/rock fruit transforming into a nectar-like honey with a touch of spice. It's a little overwhelming to be honest. My tea to water ratio is fine but its teetering on being over brewed. I use a timer so I know this tea was brewed correctly... I'm starting to think that these leaves are in for a long session. The third infusion is similar to the second but is easing up slightly on intensity. I'm not tasting any new flavors, but the flavors are starting to swirl together a little more making it an exciting cup. The next infusion is exactly where I want my tea to be with flavor. The liquor is orange-yellow and the flavor is that of apricot on the sip and a semi sweet honey flavor with a dash of spice that lingers . From the 1st to the 4th infusion the flavor mellowed out dramatically into a very pleasing cup of tea.
    
    Over the next hour or so I kept infusing the leaves with off boiling water, raising the steeping times when appropriate, to get a liquor as pleasing as the last. I lost count after 10 steeps with this tea but I would guesstimate that I had at least 12-15 infusions! These leaves have a wonder Qi and treated me nice as I sat immersed in a film. This tea would be a nice addition to anyone's tea collection or current drinking rotation. If you can get past the bull headed first few infusions, when brewing gong fu, you will be greatly rewarded with a long lasting fruity, nectary, shyly sweet tea that will aid in relaxing the body and mind.


    More information about Oriental Beauty tea:

    http://teamasters.blogspot.com/2007/02/study-of-oriental-beauty.html

    http://www.marshaln.com/2014/04/the-original-oriental-beauty/

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

    Spitfire Pottery

    Earlier this year I joined a tea forum called Teachat.com. On TeaChat, they have an artisan section filled with potters who make some of the most beautiful pottery I have ever seen. While looking through the pages of art, I stumbled onto Spitfire Pottery which is ran by Bill. I contacted Bill and asked him if he could make a special order for me. He happily obliged. 

    I asked for a very small kyusu(about 3-4 fluid ounce) with matching 1oz cups and a tea caddy all in teal. The blues Bill can get in his pottery is simply stunning. Take a look below at his art and my new brewing vessel! If you would like to contact Bill, check out his Etsy shop. https://www.etsy.com/shop/splitfirepottery








    Tuesday, May 13, 2014

    2013 NATC LiShan Winter Oolong


    Hello! Today I'm going to be talking about a new tea I have been excited to get in the mail; Mountaintea.com's 1st Place winner of the 2013 North American Tea Competition(NATC) green oolong category: LiShan Winter Oolong!(Cheers)

    Now with this much anticipation of a tea, or anything really, I tend to try not to get too excited so I'm not let down if its all hype. Fortunately for this tea the "hype"(if you call putting a NATC emblem on the sites image hype) was pretty on par with what I read on the NATC's website. The LiShan received a score of 90 putting it into the 'Outstanding: a distinctive tea with brilliant style' category. Well, lets not take their word for it, time to crack open the bag!

    
    First steep after rinse!
    After opening the bag and smelling the dry tightly rolled green balls, I wasn't really smelling anything that was blowing my mind. It had a faint floral smell but not really much of a smell at all really. I attributed this to lack of acclimation of the tea. After letting the tea sit for an hour or so the real scent of the tea came out! An orchid floral note mixed with orange blossom dances with fresh green oolong and permeates from the bag begging me to fill a pot and experience its brothy offering.

    LiShan is a growing region in Taiwan 2000+ meters above sea level. This high elevation growing is well suited for tea due to its consistent cool temperatures. This tea exhibits all the initial characteristics of a high quality tea and all that was left was to put some in a pot and brew.

    
    
    Steeping 3 or 4.



     
    After adding 8-10g of Lishan to my vessel I poured off boiling water on the leaves for a quick "wake up". The smell of orchid and orange blossom takes the stage. When tasting the first steep, I get the obvious floral notes but I'm also getting a citrus note. Its either orange or lemon. I may be also getting a slight hint of jasmine in there too. I'm also getting hints of creme and vegatables from time to time. The broth is lightly colored with a smooth mouth feel. Its quite nice. This is one of the only teas, albeit flavored teas, that I have tasted fruit notes. In the later infusions, this tea keeps up well. I was getting a full flavor brew for 5-6 infusions tapering off into a flowery water. Because I don't have tons of expirence with floral teas I can only compare this to the Four Seasons of Spring I posted about a few weeks ago. While the FSoS was good; the LiShan kicks its ass in delicacy. FSoS is a flower bomb while the LiShan is a flower falling slowly to the ground. The Lishan also stands out in complexity compared to the FSoS. The citrus and individual floral notes really make you sit and focus on the cha. It demands you to listen to what it has to offer, relaxing you all the while.

    Leaves in a yixing!
     
     
    Note: When trying the LiShan I brewed it in a porcelain houhin and a yixing pot. I preferred the porcelain houhin's brew over the yixing because I felt the yixing muted some of the more complex notes I was getting out of the houhin.


    Friday, May 9, 2014

    Coming up!

    I just got some new teas in to review so expect to see some new posts in the next week or two. I will be trying a LiShan Oolong, Mountain Oolong, and a Jasmine Tea I picked up from my local Asian market. Ive been getting more and more interested in what is commercially available in Asia and seeking out what the tea "baseline" should be. Ive been keeping an eye out for Sea Dyke, Wuyi Star, Golden Snail, and a few other large Asian companies. So, with that out in the open, keep checking back for reviews of any tea I can get my hands on!
     
    -C
     
     

    Wednesday, April 30, 2014

    High Elevation Green Tea (or not...)

    Today I'm going to be taking a look at yet again another tea from Mountain Tea. (I swear I don't work for them!) This time I'm looking at their High Elevation Green Tea located in the clearance section. If I am remembering correctly, I think I tagged this onto an order due to the price; A modest $5 for 2.8oz of tea. Not a bad price at all for a tea from Taiwan.

    They state on their site that this tea's origin is Nantou, Taiwan, which is where a lot of their other high mountian oolong offerings come from. I suspect they have a farm in Nantou who is making several types of tea for MT. This tea in particular comes from the Qing Xin bush which is notorious for producing teas that yeald buttery flavors, a velvety mouthfeel, and strong floral notes.

    
    Image from Mountain Tea
    First off, let me start out by showing what the picture on Mountain Tea is. It depicts a very GREEN natural looking tea. It seems to not have a great deal of processing which is a nice thing to see when looking for tea. The picture below is how the tea looked out of the package. It resembles a loose puerh or possibly a wuyi oolong far more than a fresh green tea the sites picture indicates.
    
    
    How tea looks out of package



    As you can imagine, after opening the package I was pretty confused. Expecting a fresh green tea, the roasted(?) leaves are usually something I do not enjoy. I love the fresh flavor of green oolongs and green teas and I tend to think roasted teas taste like an old leather boot. For instance, puerh teas are very popular among most tea drinkers; while I can appreciate the work put into the tea and even smile after a sip, I don't enjoy the complex earthy flavors roasted/aged teas tend to give; they taste, well, old.
    
    


    2nd or 3rd infusion
    Being a little let down on the purchase, I poured the bag into a container and sat it aside for another time and the time is now! I decided to use my yixing pot for this tea. I'm hoping the pot pairs well with the tea's roast to bring out some subtle notes. I started off by adding 6g of the dried leaf to the pot and pouring in off boiling water for a quick 10 second rinse. I know a lot of people tend to rinse roasted teas to get any debris from the roasting process off of the leaves and to "wake up" the leaves. After the rinse, the first steeping is a deep reddish/violet/brown color. Its very intriguing as Ive never had a tea with a purple hue but upon inspection, it could be the lighting in this room. The taste of this tea was a little shocking at first. I'm getting notes of soy beans or edamame beans on the front with a heavy mineral flavor coming in the back. There is also a little bit of floral dancing around in there too. This mineral flavor becomes more pronounced as you progress in infusions. From what I know about teas, this sounds like a wuyi tea due to the mineral flavor but due to not having experienced a wuyi oolong, I cant comment on the similarities or differences. The body of this cha is very nice. It reminds me of a thin honey in the way it coats your tongue. In the later infusions you get hints of green tea that pop in from time to time in between the soy bean and mineral notes.  

    They also boast on MT that this tea is very forgiving in the brewing process. They say that this tea will not become bitter no matter how long you brew it. I did forget that I had water in my pot for a good 5 minutes and normally I would discard the infusion but I decided to try it out. It wasn't bitter but it was stronger than I would like to enjoy my infusions. All in all, I was initially let down on the appearance of this tea but in the end it turned out to be enjoyable to drink. I may be more will to try roasted teas now that I have enjoyed this roasted cha. Maybe ill pick up some wuyi in the future!
    -C

    ***After contacting Mountian Tea about this tea, they seem to think I was sent the wrong bag of tea. This bag would be their Puerh cha... No wonder it was so hard to pick out the tasting notes.***
    

    Tuesday, April 29, 2014

    Is there honey still for tea?

    Heritage Honey Oolong
    Hello! Today I'm going to be talking about another tea from MountainTea.com: Heritage Honey Oolong. This tea is grown in Nantou, Taiwan at an altitude of 1300m above sea level; classifying it as an Ali Shan Oolong. Mountain Tea doesn't have any information about the roast or oxidation of HHO but my guess is that the roast is 0% or very very little while the oxidation is probably around 40% or more. What brought me to this conclusion is all in the cup; the liquor is a deep honey color after a quick rinse which usually indicates a roast or high oxidation. From tasting the broth, I cant taste any noticeable roast flavors. The tightly rolled balls are green so I can only assume the deep rich amber liquor the cha is producing is from oxidation which I would also assume is where the name comes from. (a lot of assumption there, I know)

    Ive been enjoying this tea for some time now to offset the expense of some of the high quality teas Ive been purchasing. Mountain Tea is offering this tea at a very low price of $10/5oz. You're not going to find a better deal for a classic, one dimensional, straight forward oolong.  They have notes of peach, citrus, and sugarcane listed on MT's site but sadly I couldn't detect any of those notes. That doesn't mean I haven't enjoyed this tea though. Due to its price, I tend to use this tea as my "all day" tea, meaning, when I want to drink some tea but I don't have the time to focus on the qi or its life. I can drink this tea without much distraction from its flavor and effects.
    First  Steeping.


    For sake of having steep by steep information, I used 8-10g in my 4oz houhin. Starting off, I did a quick 10-15 second rinse with off boiling water. The smell of earth and tea rise from the vessel to greet me with a welcoming aroma. I may be able to pick out some fruit notes by smelling the leaves but only slightly. The first steep was for 15-20 seconds and produced a yellow tinged liquid. The second steeping is where this tea's name comes from; deep honey(amber) liquor with a 30 second infusion. The flavor I get from this tea is that of a decent oolong without much excitement. I'm not getting any bitterness or astringency, unless you steep way too long, which my pallet is thankful for. I feel a nice warming effect after a few more steeps of the same broth as the first, its nice and calming. I'm enjoying this cha's modest offering more and more at night, sort of like a tea night cap. Its relaxing qi puts me at a great place to get into bed and sleep.
    Second steeping.