Organic 2014 Risheehat Darjeeling First Flush from Happy Earth Tea

RisheehatTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black (Darjeeling)

Where to Buy:  Happy Earth Tea

Tea Description:

A fragrant tea with floral-fruity notes and a classic Darjeeling first flush briskness from one of the most popular Organic tea gardens of Darjeeling.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:  

Another HAPPY SPRING first flush Darjeeling from Happy Earth Tea.  The aroma of the brewed tea is beautiful – a fruity scent mingling with notes of flower and hints of wood.  It is a wonderful celebration of spring.

And it tastes so lovely!  It is sweet with notes of fruit and flower, and it has a light, crisp body.  The fruit notes are somewhere between sweet peach and apple, with the crispness of a green apple but the sweeter flavor of a red.  It is very smooth and there is only a mild astringency that is slightly dry, sort of like the finish of a dry wine.  The aftertaste is cool and clean.

The description on the Happy Earth Tea website suggests a hint of vanilla too, and after a few sips, I started to pick up on the soft vanilla undertones.  It is sweet and silky … not so much ‘creamy’ as it is silky.

There are hints of vegetation to this cup too, as well as woodsy tones and earthy flavors.  I would describe the complexity as a balance between masculine and feminine notes:  Imagine crisp, light airy notes that deliver whispers of flower that rustle the leaves as you’re walking through a fruit orchard while the trees are blossoming.

A remarkable Darjeeling from Happy Earth Tea.  I love that this is Organic, it’s also Fair Trade Certified and Rainforest Alliance Certified!  I love that these things are important to Happy Earth Tea.

Organic 2014 Puttabong Darjeeling First Flush from Happy Earth Tea

puttabongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black (Darjeeling)

Where to Buy:  Happy Earth Tea

Tea Description:

A delicate floral first flush with layers of complex and exquisite notes. This tea proclaims the arrival of spring!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:  

The more I think about it, the more I’m loving spring!  My favorite season of the year is autumn, but, I’m adoring all these amazing first flush teas that I’ve had the opportunity to try this spring!  And this Organic Puttabong Darjeeling First Flush from Happy Earth Tea is absolutely dee-lightful!

The dry leaf aroma is earthy with notes of flower and hints of fruit-like sweetness.  The brewed tea has a delicate fragrance:  very light floral and fruit notes.  The earthiness is also subdued once the leaves are brewed.

The flavor is sweet and tastes much the way the scent suggests.  Hints of earthy tones with a warm, woodsy note.  Sweet, crisp floral notes.  And just beneath the earthy/woodsy notes, I start to pick up on the fruit-like flavors.  There are grape-y notes that are especially noticeable at the finish and in the aftertaste.  I can feel that “tingly” sensation on the tongue from the grape notes.

This has some dry, tangy astringency develops slightly as I continue to sip.  My first few sips I didn’t notice much astringency at all, and now that I’m halfway through the cup, the astringency is more obvious.  The astringency and the grape-like notes give this a delicate wine-like finish.

As the tea cools, I pick up on more of those lovely grape-like notes.  I find that the earth notes seem to soften, and the fruit and flower intermingle, offering a sweet, stunning flavor.  I think my favorite temperature to drink this is after it’s cooled about ten minutes – it’s still on the warmer side, but not hot.  Not cold.  The astringency is softer at this point, and I’m enjoying a really beautiful tea with intriguing fruit notes and delicate whispers of flower that dance on the palate.

Another lovely tea from Happy Earth Tea!  Really, you can’t go wrong with their selection of first flush teas – no matter which one you choose.  I’d have a difficult time trying to choose a favorite!

Organic Sungma Darjeeling Black Tea First Flush 2014 from Happy Earth Tea

SungmaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black (Darjeeling)

Where to Buy:  Happy Earth Tea

Tea Description:

An enchanting Darjeeling first flush with a highly refined floral bouquet and well rounded flavors.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:  

I was so excited to receive a selection of the fresh, spring harvested teas from Happy Earth Tea!  This Organic Sungma Darjeeling Black Tea First Flush is the first that I’ve tried from their 2014 teas.

Ahh!  It is crisp and invigorating when it washes over the palate.  If your tea repertoire tends to be of the “usual” teas like blacks and greens, you really should incorporate a Darjeeling tea in there every once in a while.  It really wakes up the palate!

And the flavor is smooth and sweet with notes of flower and fruit.  I don’t get a strong “muscatel” from this Darjeeling, then again, it is a first flush and you can expect more muscatel from the second flush than the first.  But this does have some wine-like notes that are muscatel-ish and make this fan of Darjeeling happy.

It has a nicely round flavor and less astringency than I would have expected from a Darjeeling.  A really nice sweetness comes from the fruit notes.  A sweet aftertaste.  I find this to be more fruity and less woodsy than a typical Darjeeling.

Overall, this is one of the nicest first flush Darjeeling teas that I’ve tasted in a while.  I love that it’s so fresh, I love that it’s Organic, and I love that it’s a Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance tea.  I love Happy Earth’s dedication to our planet!  Everything about this tea – rocks!

Rainforest Alliance Certified – Strong Black Tea from The Tao of Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  The Tao of Tea

Product Description:

Uplifting brew with earthy aroma and hints of black cherries and warm cane sugar.

You can learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’m loving this tea.

But, I must be honest, I was a little disappointed by it at first.  And I think that disappointed is too strong a word for how I felt.  I think I was mislead by the name of the tea “Strong Black Tea” to me indicates that I’m about to taste something incredibly bold, with a hefty taste and texture.  Something to give you that sharp kick in the buns that is needed on those mornings that you don’t want to get going.  I don’t think that this tea would accomplish that, because it isn’t as strong (at least, not to me) as the name would suggest.

But that is not to say that this tea isn’t exquisite, because it IS!  It is a truly delicious tea that merely suffers from a misnomer, which after perusing The Tao of Tea’s website, I notice there is also a “Light” Black Tea from the Rainforest Alliance collection, so perhaps the strong is in comparison to the light, and not so much strong compared to other black teas outside of the Rainforest Alliance collection.

But that’s enough about that.  Let me get to telling you about what makes this tea so delicious.  With the first couple of sips, I noticed a similarity to an Oolong tea.  It has that soft mouthfeel that I might experience from an Oolong, as well as a hint of vegetative flavor that hits the palate right about mid-sip.  There is also a chocolate flavor – like bitter chocolate – that hits the palate at almost the same time, and these two notes provide a very savory tone that is quite appealing, and I think essential to the palate at about this moment in the sip, because the overall flavor of this tea is quite reminiscent of raw sugar cane.  Sweet with an undertone of molasses.  Let me put it this way:  my sweet tooth right now is very happy!

The description suggests these notes of “warm cane sugar” (if you’re one who automatically sweetens a tea before trying it I suggest not doing that with this tea – taste it first, I found that this is pleasantly sweet without any sweetener) and also it suggests notes of black cherry.  And I am getting those fruit tones as well, but it isn’t a syrupy kind of cherry flavor, this is more like a hint of fruit off somewhere in the distance.  As I attempted to describe it on Steepster:  “it is more of a insinuation of cherry that doesn’t quite become fully recognized.”  It is there, but, then again, is it?

While I’m loving the smooth sweetness of this tea, I’m also noticing a rustic edge to it too.  There is some astringency, it is fairly mild and slightly dry.  And while this tea isn’t the strong, hearty tea that I was expecting, I am glad that I was mislead … or shall I say, pleasantly surprised? … by this one because I’m liking it just the way it is.

ITFA Global Tea Taster’s Club, October’s Shipment, Part 1: SiaoSyue – Winter Jin Syuan

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Produced By Dignitea Garden

For More Information, visit the Tea Farms webpage

About ITFA Global Tea Taster’s Club:

By subscribing to the Global Tea Tasters Club, you will receive tea from ITFA tea farms 6 times per year. Each time, we will select a different region to feature and as we grow in tea farm members, so will your tea experience.

Your tea will also be accompanied by info about the tea and the tea farms themselves.

To know where your tea is coming from, who has grown and produced it, to taste the difference in teas from around the world…what could be better?

Taster’s Review:

October’s shipment of teas for ITFA’s Global Tea Taster’s Club brought me teas produced in Taiwan.  And when I think of teas from Taiwan, I immediately think Oolong!  And, yes, this shipment featured three different Oolong teas (as well as one Black tea).  Yay!  I do love Oolong!

And of course, my favorite Oolong is Ali Shan!  And so what better way to start off these tastings from October’s shipment than with an Ali Shan Oolong?

This Ali Shan Jin Shuan SianSyue Oolong from the Dignitea Gardens is the first tea that I selected from my October package, and it is LOVELY.  It has a remarkably light roast to it, giving it a hint of nutty, buttery flavor without a strong roasty-toasty taste. 

It is remarkably fragrant, with a beautiful floral note that reminds me of something between orchid and lily.  This floral note translates to the flavor, but while the floral taste is there, it is in keeping with the overall lightness to the cup, and does not overwhelm.

In one sip, I notice not only the delightful floral notes, and the nutty flavor, but hints of buttered popcorn, and a very subtle undertone of spice.   For such a light tea, there is a surprising amount of flavor and body to the cup.

This tea is a perfect example of why I adore Ali Shan so much.