Arya Ruby Darjeeling Black Tea from Golden Tips

ruby-darjeelingTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Golden Tips

Tea Description:

Our second flush ‘Arya Ruby Black Tea’ is a classic example of Darjeeling summer royalty. The well-made leaves are wiry and have a delightful appearance with plenty of silver tips. Manufactured to perfection, the tea boasts of an immensely complex character with abundance of muscatel flavor. The fruit-flowery notes flush your mouth with a sweetness that is pleasant and comforting. The aroma scents of rich caramel with a slightly woody character. The nose is sharp and slightly fruity which resonates muscatel richness. Overall, the tea has a fantastic texture, a balanced and rounded body with an extremely smooth flavor that leaves a sweet lingering aftertaste in your mouth. An excellent limited edition Darjeeling second flush black tea. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Having tried Arya Ruby Darjeeling teas in the past, I was pretty confident that I’d enjoy this.  It’s one of my favorite Darjeeling teas out there.

And this is indeed lovely!  Sweet, delectably fruity and delightfully floral!

To brew this tea, I used my Breville One-Touch.  I measured 2 bamboo scoops of tea into the basket of my tea maker and added 500ml of freshly filtered water.  I set the temperature for 195°F (my go-to temperature for Darjeeling teas unless they look really green, then I might lower it to 190°F or even 185°F.)  I set the timer for 2 1/2 minutes and I let my tea maker do the rest.

A few minutes later, the tea is done!  Mmm!

The sip starts out with some what I’d describe as a medley of floral and fruit notes.  By mid-sip, hints of fruity muscatel shine through.  Subtle yet lovely notes of grape!   A mild astringency toward the finish.

I’d categorize this as a medium bodied tea, it’s got a little more texture to it than a typical Darjeeling, but it certainly isn’t as hearty as say, an Assam tea.  It would make an excellent afternoon tea!

A really lovely Darjeeling.  I’d recommend this to any tea drinker, and especially those who might not have liked Darjeeling in the past.  I believe this Darjeeling could change their opinion of Darjeeling!


Camel’s Breath Pu-Erh Toucha from Chicago Tea Garden

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  Chicago Tea Garden

Product Description:

Origin: China, Yunnan Province

Harvest: Spring 2005, cave-aged until 2010

Taste: Very strong and earthy, capturing the essence of shu pu-erh.

Behind the Leaf: Though I have never had the pleasure of actually smelling a camel’s breath, these mini-tuocha smell … like what I assume a camel’s breath would smell like. Don’t let the name (or that description) put you off though. These pu-erh tuocha steep up a sturdy, dark, and intense liquor, producing a somewhat briny drink. The longer you steep it, the darker it will get– this is a tuocha you can leave in your pot and add water to throughout the day. These pu-erh tuochas are cooked or “ripened” pu-erh (shu).

Taster’s Review:

I’ve had this Pu-Erh cake for a while now.  It was sent to me by a tea friend on Steepster, but to be perfectly honest, I was afraid to try it.  It’s the name.  I mean… drinking “camel’s breath tea” didn’t exactly appeal to me.

But really, if this is how camel’s breath tastes… it’s not all that bad.  Quite tasty, actually, even if it is kind of unsettling for me to admit that I like the flavor of something called “Camel’s Breath.”

The aroma… well, it’s special.  I can see why it’s called Camel’s Breath.  It is strong, earthy and brine-y.  A rather intense fragrance, to say the least.  However, when steeped for short steeps in my gaiwan, the flavor isn’t nearly as intense.

It is an earthy flavor.  It is brine-y.  Even slightly fish-like.  But, beyond those flavors, there is a sweetness that is just as strong, if not stronger, than the earthy, brine-y taste.  And with subsequent infusions, I find that the sweetness develops.  The second group of infusions (brewed in my gaiwan, I do a quick rinse, then after the rinse is discarded, I combine the next two infusions in one teacup, and then the next two are combined in the next group of infusions, and so on…) produced a slightly stronger flavor that was even more sweet than the first.

Using this short-steep method, I find that the flavor is relatively mellow in comparison to the aroma.  It is a remarkably smooth brew without any hint of bitterness and no astringency.  A very pleasant cup despite it’s rather intimidating name.

Moral of this review:  Don’t judge a tea by its name, and don’t allow that name to influence your tasting decisions.

Golden Bi Luo from Chicago Tea Garden

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Chicago Tea Garden

Product Description:

Other Names: Hong Bi Luo, Yunnan Bi Luo

Origin: China, Yunnan Province

Harvest: Spring 2010

Taste: Creamy with sweet, malty notes of vanilla.

Behind the Leaf: David Lee Hoffman has been traveling to China for over 20 years. His work has led to vast improvements in the quality of tea available to the West. David is especially proud of this tea. Golden Bi Luo is a high-grade black tea made in Yunnan Province in the style of Jiangsu Province’s Green Bi Luo Chun. The name means “snail spring” — “spring” because this tea is harvested in the spring and “snail” because the two leaves and down-covered tips are carefully rolled into tight spirals that slowly unfurl to release more flavor during steeping. The spirals are formed in a heated wok, using three different hand movements. This tea is a master at producing multiple infusions: you can easily get eight infusions from one serving of this tea. Golden Bi Luo is a great reintroduction to loose black tea. Whether you are looking for an alternative to coffee or are just getting started with loose leaf and are ready to ditch your tea bags, Golden Bi Luo is a wonderful choice for an everyday tea.

Taster’s Review:

Are you looking for a truly DIFFERENT black tea?  You need look no further than this amazing Golden Bi Luo from Chicago Tea Garden.  This tea has such an intriguing flavor – it keeps me sipping!

This tea has a very nice malty quality to it.  There is a baked biscuit-y flavor to it which gives it real substance.  This is a hefty tea!

About mid-sip, I taste a hint of vanilla (as the above description suggests) – it is a very heavy, heady kind of vanilla taste that when brought together with the malty note it creates a wonderful experience for the palate.  Sweet, almost creamy, and thick!  Yes … thick!  There is also a background note of bitter that provides an excellent contrast to the sweetness of this cup.  The cleansing astringency in the finish prepares the palate for another sip.

These “snails” or spirals of tea also submit several delicious infusions.  With each infusion the flavor seems to develop into a smoother, richer experience.  I managed three very flavorful infusions from one measurement of leaves!

This is a fantastic black tea that I would recommend to all tea enthusiasts.  A MUST try tea!