This tea sample came to me in a crisp, red and gold package with simple, symbolic instructions and the tea’s name: Huang Guan Yin or Yellow Goddess of Mercy. With a name like that, it certainly felt special to crack the seal on the red and gold foil and pour the lovely dark tea leaves into my teapot. The dry leaves smelled faintly musky, like newly-turned earth, but were otherwise very mild.
I did a little more research on brewing tips beyond the information on the package and found that this is a wuji oolong, meant to be steeped for a short period of time over a few sessions.
For the first brew, the leaves quickly turned the water dark. The brew smelled toasty and rich, like caramel and burnt sugar. I always tend to associate oolongs with the fruity, floral, green notes, but then I encounter a tea like this, heavily oxidized, and am reminded that some oolongs can be just as bold and dark as black teas.
Upon further steeping, the brew has stronger sweet rice and breakfast cereal tones among all the toasty caramel notes. The mouthfeel gets smoother with each steep, and brings out a oddly fruity note, a bit like raisins. Beneath all these flavors there is a musky depth, slightly sour and reminiscent of tobacco.
This was a delicious bold oolong, rich and full of complex and tasty flavors. Though the tea itself isn’t yellow, I still love the name, Yellow Goddess of Mercy. Have mercy on yourself after a long day and have a tea session with this oolong to help bring you comfort and solace.
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Old Ways Tea
Also known as 105 this tea is a cross between Tie Guan Yin and Huang Jin Gui. The name Huang Guan Yin means Yellow Goddess of Mercy. This is the newest Wuyi oolong cultivar, having been introduced in 2003 by the Fujian Tea Research Institute.
Huang Guan Yin is interesting since in many ways it is one of the least traditional of the teas being produced in the Wuyi mountains. It is newly developed, and has genetic origins outside the original mountains. At the same time it is often packaged in a bag reading “Da Hong Pao” and processed in the same manner as the other Wuyi teas. The interplay between new and old provides for an interesting experience. Personally, I greatly enjoy this tea and when I can not decide which to brew will grab a bag of Huang Guan Yin.
Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!
I’ve been getting into teas from Steeped Tea lately just to see what it was all about and today I’m sharing my experiences with you on English Breakfast Tea from Steeped Tea.
English Breakfast Tea from Steeped Tea is your standard but sturdy English Breakfast Tea. Traditionally served with milk – I rebel and drink it straight-up as I drink ALL of my teas.
This specific offering isn’t much for aroma once infused. It smells like your run-of-the-mill black tea. But I have to say if you are looking for a strong based black tea then English Breakfast Tea from Steeped Tea is one that may impress you! English Breakfast Tea from Steeped Tea is dark in color and strong in flavor once in your cup awaiting for you to sip. It’s has notes of dark cocoa powder underneath. It’s a bit astringent but I can handle it and actually prefer it in this specific tea. It does leave a dark lingering aftertaste but it’s welcomed.
I did like this dark cup of English Breakfast Tea from Steeped Tea and I’m looking forward to trying more from them. I have tried a few I really like and a few I probably wouldn’t order again but I’m sure that is why they have so many different offerings – to please the masses! That is what intrigues me about this specific company – some of their unique flavors.
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Black Tea
Where to Buy: Steeped Tea
Description: This classic breakfast tea is fresh, full and flavorful. Traditionally served with milk.
Ingredients: Black tea.
Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Buddha Teas
Over the years, many different varieties of oolong tea have been produced, each with their own style and flavor, however traditional oolong tea remains the most popular among these.
Learn more about this tea here.
Oolong has historically been my nemesis, although I have to say at this point that I’ve only ever tried loose leaf oolong with one exception (Teapigs Tung Ting Oolong, which is pyramid bagged). This oolong is also bagged, and in fairly small, square paper affairs that really don’t look like they’ll provide much room for leaf expansion. Even dry, the leaf fills up at least half of the space in the bag. One cute touch is that each paper tag has a different phrase – my current bag declares “love is ecstacy”, and my second “appreciate yourself and honor your soul”. Something to muse upon as you wait for your tea to brew? I added the bag to a cup of water cooled to around 180 degrees, and gave it 2.5 minutes. The resulting liquor is a medium golden brown.
Once wet, it’s clear that the leaf is shredded quite finely, and it becomes waterlogged and soggy quickly. The leaf expands to fill the bag, but not as much as I thought it might. I guess the fine shred means that there are no large leaves to really unfurl. Looking at the leaf, this would appear to be a dark or roasted oolong. It has the signature scent that’s often one of the things I like least about oolong – metallic and a little sweet.
To taste, I’m more impressed that I expected I would be. I’m not the world’s biggest Oolong fan, so when I find one that’s palatable and enjoyable to drink, a bit of a celebration ensues. This Oolong is initially very nutty, in the way of pecans or maybe walnuts. There’s a slightly bitter tang that I associate with walnuts especially, which only reinforces the comparison for me. The mid-sip contains a little of the metallic flavour I so dislike, but it’s not over-strong and I’m finding I can ignore it without too much trouble. There’s a note of slightly burnt toast as well, which puts me in mind of autumn and open fires. It’s a fitting flavour profile for this time of year! The aftertaste is smooth and a little sweet, with an almost honeyed texture. It’s a pleasant, flavourful cup, reminiscent of a Formosa Oolong. I’m not sure which variety it actually is as the packaging gives very little away, but that’s where I would peg it.
I enjoyed this cup, which seems a strange thing for me to say given my history with Oolong in general. The nutty, toasted notes pair well together and are very complementary, which probably has a lot to do with it. I’d drink this one again, and I’d happily recommend it either to those who are just beginning to explore oolong (as an accessible entry tea), and to Oolong-phobes who are looking to be proved wrong. It’s made me reevaluate my feelings about dark and roasted Oolongs, in any case!
Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: M&K’s Tea Co.
An M&K’s exclusive! Simply made, we take the famous gunpowder tea of China and roast it in our own quarters, creating a truly unique green tea that is very nutty and reminiscent of a lighter cup of coffee if brewed correctly. This is a great tea if you want something stronger or if you enjoy roasted oolong teas, smokey teas, dark teas (pu-erh tea), or even roasted yerba mate!
Learn more about this tea here.
I had never had anything like this Dark Roast Gunpowder so I thought I’d give it a shot. I really like the teas that I have had previously from M&K’s Tea Co. They are one of my favorite companies to order from. They have even added honey to their site that are flavored. They sound fantastic. One or two bottles might find their way into my next order.
On to the tea. . . I am glad I took a chance on this one. Nutty, rich, smooth, malty with a side note of honey and smoke? This is a very unique tasting tea! I’m digging this one. This reminds me of a dark roasted coffee without that bitter after taste you sometimes get. I can see this one replacing my daily cup of joe I do enjoy each morning. The roasted nutty flavor with a hint of sweetness really works. The more I drink it, the more I am reminded of a sweet and salty snack where you get the best of both worlds so to speak. Dark roasted sweet goodness.
Highly recommend this one if you enjoy coffee or roasted teas.
Leaf Type: Pu-erh
Where to Buy: Tao of Tea
Made from the large leaf ‘Da Ye’ tea plant varietal, better known as Camellia Sinensis ‘Assamica’. The Tuocha refers to a family of bowl shaped teas, commonly available as Green tea Tuocha, Black tea Tuocha and Puer Tuocha. Made at one of the few organic tea gardens in Yunnan, this tea is popular among strong, dark tea drinkers.
Learn more about this tea here.
Wow! This Organic Pu-er Tuocha from Tao of Tea is seriously awesome. It isn’t often that I’ll say that about a pu-er! Oh, I may enjoy a pu-er, but I don’t often say the word “awesome” when describing a pu-er. But this … this is AWESOME.
And I think I know why. This tea was actually made from an Assamica plant! That is to say, it’s made with the same plant that makes an Assam tea, but the tea is grown and processed in Yunnan. And the result is something that I could happily curl up to any day.
My first cup is oh-so-smooth. It tastes a lot like a black tea only smoother. I’m not getting the same astringency that I’d get from a black tea. But I get that delicious undertone of molasses-y caramel and even a malty note. It’s sweet. And my first cup disappeared before I could finish coming up with words to describe what I was tasting.
The second cup was darker in color and deeper in flavor than the first, and the first word that came to mind as I took my first sip of that cup was “robust.” Another word that I don’t often use to describe a pu-er! Smooth, yes, I use that word often to describe a pu-er, and this tea is definitely smooth. Mellow, yes, another frequently used word to describe pu-er, and yes, this tea is mellow. But it’s also robust! It has a flavor that reminds me SO much of a black tea that I find myself questioning it! So sweet, notes of fruit and flower, notes of molasses, hints of leather and a lovely note of malt.
I’m on to my third infusion now and it’s even darker than the second. This is the first cup where I’m noticing a slight “earthy” mushroom note and the first cup where it actually tastes more like pu-er than black tea. But even so, I’m getting a lot of those black tea flavors too, the malty notes are still there and there’s a really pleasant sweetness to this. I love the way the aforementioned fruity notes mingle with the leathery notes and the notes of mushroom. It’s a deep, complex cup that’s really very enjoyable.
My fourth cup is very much like my third, only deeper in flavor. This is very much what I think I would expect if I were to mix a cup of Assam black tea and a cup of pu-er together. It’s not nearly as earthy as I’d experience with a pu-er, there are some earthy notes but it’s more like a mushroom flavor with notes of leather. It isn’t fishy or briny. There’s very little astringency to it and it’s not bitter. It’s just really smooth and pleasant. Notes of plum mingling with molasses, malt, and mushroom. It’s very different, quite unlike any pu-er I’ve experienced until now.
I’d recommend this pu-er to any tea lover – even those that don’t usually like pu-er because this is so similar to black tea, especially in the earliest infusions, that it eases you into the earthiness of pu-erh slowly. And even when it does start to become earthy, it’s not overwhelmingly so.
This is one of the best pu-er I’ve tried, ever.