Superfine Taiwan Qing Xiang Dong Ding Oolong Tea from Teavivre

QingXiangDongDingTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Teavivre

Tea Description:

In Taiwan Oolong Tea, Dong Ding Oolong Tea is an excellent kind highly praised by the world. Dong Ding is originally planted on Dongding Mountain, which is a branch of Phoenix Mountain, in Lugu Village, Nantou County, Taiwan. The tea is planted in the area at the altitude of 1000 meters. So this is also a High Mountain tea, which is known as its obvious floral fragrance. This Dong Ding Qing Xiang Oolong Tea is made of the tea leaves from Qing Xin Oolong tea tree. This tea has thick and soft leaf, refreshing tea liquid, with strong osmanthus scent. Meanwhile it has strong sweet aftertaste, which makes High Mountain tea more excellent than low altitude tea.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Superfine Taiwan Qing Xiang Dong Ding Oolong Tea from Teavivre is absolutely lovely!  It’s so sweet and lush, with a creamy mouthfeel and an intriguing flavor that has exotic floral notes as well as hints of fruit. I’m enjoying the complexity and the soft texture.

I brewed this Oolong in my gaiwan.  First I did a quick “rinse” or awakening of the tea leaves, by steeping them in hot water for 15 seconds and then straining off and discarding the liquid.  Then I steeped the first infusion for 1 minute (I meant to infuse it for 45 seconds, but I got distracted and missed the 45 second mark, so it steeped for a full 60 seconds), and the second infusion for 1 minute 15 seconds.  I poured both of these infusions into the same cup.  Subsequent infusions were prepared the same way.

The first cup was lighter in texture than those that followed, but, it still possessed a pleasantly creamy mouthfeel.  It is so silky and smooth.  I taste notes of peach, hints of vegetation (just a slight “grassiness” in the background), and a overtone of floral notes.  There is a faint astringency that is most noticeable at the very end of the sip.  I start to notice a slightly dry sensation.

The second cup was my favorite, and this seems to be typical of my Oolong experiences.  It seems that I always love the second cup best.  It felt soft and smooth to the palate, and it had a flavor that was both floral and fruity.  The vegetative notes have emerged slightly and they added an interesting contrast to the sweet fruit and floral tones.

In subsequent infusions, the flavors became more of a harmonious taste.  The flavor remained sweet, and I started to notice an almost “honey-esque” note in the third and forth cups.

I enjoyed my afternoon spent with this Dong Ding from Teavivre.  An excellent choice for the Oolong enthusiast!

Russian Country Black Tea Blend from Harney & Sons


Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Harney & Sons

Tea Description:

A blend of four teas along with an additional touch of Lapsang, this is a softer version of Smoky Lapsang Souchong. This tea is reminiscent of the teas that were carried by camel across the Asian deserts to Russia. As Norwood Pratt quips: “the only choice was one hump or two.”

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Just like I am with most smoky teas … I was a bit hesitant to try this Russian Country Black Tea Blend from Harney & Sons.  I even like smoky teas (so long as they aren’t TOO smoky!) now but, there is still some of the residual memories of a bad smoky tea experience that causes me to recoil a bit when I encounter a smoky tea.

Fortunately though, this one is indeed a “softer version of Smoky Lapsang Souchong,” as promised in the above description.  It certainly has a smoky element to it, but, it is not overly smoky … and truth be told, it’s actually quite delicious.  So much so, that I am nearly finished with this cup, and I had to stop myself from drinking it so that I could compose the review!

I love it when I find a tea like that … something that I’m enjoying so much that I forget that I need to write about it, and by the time I remember, I’m nearly finished with the tea!

The flavor is rich and satisfying.  It has a robust quality to it – this is a tea that you could serve as that first cup of the day to get the eye opening results you need.  There is some astringency to it, and a certain brightness which leads me to believe that this blend has some Ceylon in it … that bright, brisk flavor tastes like a Ceylon to me.

And after examining the website, I see that this is correct, this is a blend of Assam, Keemun, Ceylon as well as Lapsang Souchong and Formosa Oolong!  I don’t taste much from the Oolong … except the smooth texture of the tea.  I do note the malty notes of the Assam, and even the richness of the Keemun.  Overall this tea is sweet, smoky, rich and malty … and possesses that sort of “fresh-baked” taste to it … like the caramelized, chewy crust of a fresh baked loaf of French bread.  YUM!

This makes a great latte if you want one … and it tastes great straight up too.  I prefer it with about half a teaspoon of turbinado sugar to soften the edge a little bit and to enhance the caramel tones.   It’s really a wonderful tea, and a great “smoky” tea for those who tend to be sensitive to the overly smoky taste of a pure Lapsang Souchong, but still want a hint of smokiness to their cup.

High Country from Trail Lodge Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Trail Lodge Tea

Tea Description:

After a lot of sampling and mixing various teas, we have come up with our very own “house” blend (or maybe I should say “Lodge” blend). The most inspiring places I have ever visited is the Rocky Mountain National Park and the High Country of Yosemite. The mountain springs and lakes were sparkling and the views were magnificent and serene. Visiting these places filled me with tranquility. We can’t often get away to places like this, but you can relax with a simple cup of tea that hopefully can bring some tranquility in your life. That is the inspiration for High Country Tea. It has a clear brisk taste, great for ice teas. The Yunnan gives it a smooth, creamy taste that is perfect for a latte. This tea is a mixture of three Fair trade certified black teas and has a medium body and several golden tips. It is the perfect tea to keep on hand since it is so versatile.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I have tried a few teas from Trail Lodge Tea and have enjoyed what I’ve tried, so when they contacted me recently to try some of their new blends, I was only too happy to do so!

I’m liking what I’m tasting with this tea.  It is a really nice, well-balanced blend.  It has a certain ruggedness to it, something that would serve one well as a first tea of the day – it’s robust and even a little bit hefty.  But, it isn’t too heavy, it has a certain, crisp, brisk lightness to it too, which makes it a nice choice for afternoon sipping as well.  It’s especially nice served hot when it’s chilly and windy outside (like it is right at this very moment).  It’s got a that cozy factor to it that I need right now!

This is a blend of three teas – Ceylon, Yunnan, and I suspect possibly Assam?  There is a rich malty character to this that makes me think Assam … but it could also be a Nilgiri, because I’m not tasting that typical bitter note that I sometimes get with an Assam.  Either way, it’s a pleasantly rich and smooth tea, with notes of malt, hints of a peppery backdrop and it is crisp and vibrant.  Invigorating!

And as smooth and rich as it is, I also suspect that the evenness of the flavor here would make this an excellent iced tea too (it’s just a little too cold for iced tea for me though!)  It would hold up well to the additions of milk and sugar if you want a sweet latte, but, I’m liking it just fine served straight with no additions.  (When served iced, I’d try this with a little bit of mint, I think that the crispness of the mint would accent the brisk tones of the tea quite nicely).

An excellent tea from Trail Lodge Tea – I’m really happy I got to try it!

Country Red from Pluff Iced Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Rooibos

Where to Buy:  Pluff Iced Tea on Foodzie

Product Description:

Pure Red Tea. Smooth, Naturally Sweet, Caffeine Free!

Batch Notes: Caffeine Free. Smooth and aromatic, with a lightly citric sweetness and rich character. Blends well with light sugar for the ultimate red iced tea. Geography: Harvested from the rugged Western Cape Province- windswept and mountainous, a diverse land that produces the world’s finest red tea. Origin: South Africa.

Taster’s Review:

I’ll admit that I didn’t have high hopes for this tisane, and that’s what has kept me from brewing it until now.  As some of you are aware, I am not particularly fond of rooibos.  I usually like rooibos alright when it’s part of a blend, but, pure, unflavored rooibos?  Not so much.  And that’s just what this is:  pure, unflavored rooibos.

I hot-brewed this last night according to the instructions, using a little less sugar than called for (I used only 1/4 cup turbinado sugar instead of the suggested 1/3 cup).  Each of these large teabags makes a half gallon of iced tea.  After brewing this tea, I refrigerated it overnight to enjoy today.

The good news:  This is not as bad as I thought it would be … it’s actually pretty tasty.  It tastes light and sweet, with nutty and woody notes, and a hint of fruit in the background.

The bad news:  I still get a bit of that “funky aftertaste” that I often associate with rooibos.  But with a little sugar, it is less apparent.

This is not not my favorite iced tea (but they can’t all be my favorite, can they?) but it is certainly enjoyable.  It has a light, refreshing taste, and it’s a nice way to keep cool without feeling weighed down with a heavier, caffeinated tea.  And because it’s naturally caffeine free (and very healthy too), it’s one you can feel good about serving to the kids.  Especially delicious when served with thin slices of lime.