The best part about a portable gaiwan is that you can bring it places that would be too awkward for other tea accessories.
Nothing quite like a good session on the beach. Though our MN sand is kinda rough. 1st steeping. Couple of minutes.
Light yellow liquid. Mellow with no astringency.
Beautiful fuzzy leaves and gorgeous pale green leaves. Velvety and oddly floral in aroma. Or maybe more akin to a very dark chocolate?
Flavor is earthy. Slightly rough on the tongue with the third steeping.
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Leaf Type: White Tea
Where to Buy: Verdant Tea
Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!
Leaf Type: Oolong Tea
Where to Buy: Tea Ave
This is it: the original Dong Ding Oolong, grown on the Dong Ding Mountain in Nantou County in central Taiwan, where Dong Ding Oolong originated. One of the best oolong teas in the world. A perpetual favorite among oolong lovers, it has a strong, clean flavor and an aroma of ripe fruit. Partially oxidized and lightly roasted, Dong Ding is an approachable tea—a good choice for oolong newbies to whet their taste buds with.
Dong Ding turns an amber color when infused and possesses a sweet, fruity flavor and aroma. Longer infusion times will yield a stronger, more vivid tea, with a fuller body and aroma. Smooth, with a clean aftertaste. Don’t blame us if you develop a Dong Ding habit.
Tea leaves are green and come curled into balls.
Learn more about this tea here.
Dong Ding Oolong from Tea Ave. What can I say? It’s everything you expect in a might-fine Dong Ding Oolong! It has a strong yet clean flavor and aroma. The nose and tongue also features a lightly roasted characteristics, too! The aftertaste has subtle notes of ripe stone fruit. This will please new Oolong sippers all the way up to Oolong Gurus!
It’s also an extremely versatile Oolong. What I mean by this is that you can steep it in a tea bag, warm your water in a tea pot and infuse the loose leaf that way, cold brew it overnight, or go with the traditional Gaiwan.
This Oolong is pretty heavy-duty, too, as it offers multiple infusions with optimal flavor. This is a real winner among Dong Ding Oolongs. YUP! Dong Ding Oolong From Tea Ave is a goodie!
Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Camellia Sinensis (However it’s no longer listed)
Here is an wulong composed of leaves varying in hue from light green to orange by way of delicate shades of silver which adorn its numerous buds. The light rolling typical of this type of clonal offers lovely large leaves which, once infused, release rich floral and herbaceous fragrances. The liquor, soft and of a substantial texture, is supported by fruity and spicy notes. Its long tangy finish evokes the lightness of spring.
Learn more about this tea on Steepster!
This is definitely an interesting looking tea, one I probably wouldn’t have chosen for myself had Camellia Sinensis not included it as a bonus sample in one of several orders I’ve placed with them this year. Personally, I don’t have much experience with Darjeeling teas, and I’m almost certain that this is the first Darjeeling Oolong that I’ll have tried.
The dry leaf of this blend it fascinating to me; it definitely doesn’t look like a lot of oolong I’ve encountered. I know it’s definitely on the lower scale of oxidation, for sure – but it doesn’t even look like they even attempted to roll it which is definitely something I’m accustomed to with greener oolong. More so, it just kind of reminds me of Bai Mu Dan, but a little twisted up.
I brewed this one in one of my Gaiwans because it felt more right to be brewing it that way instead of in an infuser mug, though I did brew it Western style instead of Gong Fu. Normally I’m not one to resteep things, but I got three resteeps of this blend before I decided that was enough for the day.
The first infusion was very soft and delicate with such a lovely silky mouthfeel (which was definitely a consistent trait between all three infusions). The flavours were kind of in line with green teas and greener oolong; crisp and sweet sugar snap peas, lighter fruit notes like slightly under ripe honeydew, some floral notes, and a slight creaminess. However, the overwhelming gentleness of the brew reminds me a lot of white tea as well. I was looking forward to experiencing the “tang” like described by Camellia Sinensis, but I definitely didn’t taste anything close to that. Nor did I taste anything “spicy”.
The second infusion definitely brought about a change in flavour though; while the liquor was still very smooth and delicate and I still got some lovely snap pea notes there was also a touch of a herbaceous quality and the more floral notes were traded in for something quite a bit fruitier. More like over ripe honeydew than under ripe, and with an almost white wine like quality. I also experienced the “tangy finish” like described. I was definitely a little taken aback; the body dramatically and quickly shifted into this long, drawn out pleasantly sour finish that I wasn’t expecting. This was easily my favourite infusion of the three I did; it had a great balance between the flavours of the first and third infusions.
The third infusion was still delicate but that tangy note was even more vivid and instead of just being present in the finish it started to creep up into the body of the sip as well. In this infusion I definitely thought it was much more distinctly like white wine. In fact, I almost immediately was reminded of the few Reisling wines I’ve had (I’m not a huge wine person). It was super interesting, and still quite enjoyable but quite different from that first infusion. I can only imagine how much more interesting this would be Gong Fu brewed.
It’s a shame I can no longer find this on the Camellia Sinensis site; I want to learn more about this tea as it was very different from other oolongs I’ve tried, and quite memorable. I 100% recommend trying it, even if oolong isn’t your jam.
Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Tao Tea Leaf
Rou Gui is treasured for its cinnamon flavour as well as its impressive stamina. This tea also has the unique ability to keep its distinct flavours after multiple steepings upwards of 7 times. Rou Gui comes from the historic WuYi mountains in the Chinas Fujian Province. This area is also famous for producing other famous teas like Lapsang Souchong and the famous Da Hong Pao. Rou Gui has a medium and very smooth body with hints of floral orchid with a lovely honey-like finish.
Learn more about this tea here.
I’ve only tried a few different Rou Gui oolongs before, most of them from Nannuoshan, but so far I haven’t found one I dislike – the wide range of flavours experienced with the different infusions very much appeal to me so this Rou Gui oolong from Tao Tea Leaf is just going to further my exploration of the class. To stay consistent with the other Rui Gui I’ve tried I had a Gong Fu session with this one using my gaiwan.
The leaves for this are very dark, almost charcoal or black, and decently large. The smell of the dry leaf is very roasty with some fruity sweetness layered underneath. It’s perhaps a touch peachy? I did a ten second wash with this one; as the water hit the leaves my kitchen was instantly filled with a very robust, borderline earthy and roasty smell.
Infusion One: 10 Seconds – This is surprisingly sweet right off the bat despite quite strong toasted barley notes. It’s a little nutty and definitely has some stonefruit notes as well; like dried peach drizzled with honey. There’s maybe some cinnamon too, but not much. These notes comprise the start of the sip and the body. The finish tastes of corn chips and flax to me with a very intense presence of raisins in the finish. I’m usually quite anti-raisin but I actually like the way it tastes here. The taste of the raisin lingers in your mouth for a very long time after swallowing; minutes. For the most part it’s very smooth though it did leave my front two teeth feeling very dry. Leaves are barely opened up at all and smell quite roasty with cinnamon notes and something maybe vaguely like coffee grounds?
Infusion Two: 15 Seconds – Still tastes strongly of roasted barley but it a bit more nutty and has woody notes at the start as well as much more defined cinnamon notes. The body is comprised mostly of rich peach and raisin notes. The honey notes have also gotten stronger, and are tightly tying in with the raisin. Some floral notes have begun creeping in as well. I’m almost reminded of a roasted trail mix with dried fruit/raisins mixed in. This subtle transition of flavours is keeping true to what I’ve observed with other Rou Gui. The leaves smell subtly fruitier.
Infusion Three: 30 Seconds – Ooh! This was not a good pour; I spilled tea everywhere. The flavour is really starting to turn. I’m observing a dramatic decrease in roasted flavour. Definitely strong peach/raisin notes; the strongest so far. The peach is less so a dried peach flavour now, and closer to something fresh. Significantly more floral with more defined floral notes like orchid. Almost seems buttery. Leaves are almost completely opened up and smell sweet like honey and quite floral. There’s absolutely no dry feeling on my teeth from this infusion.
Infusion Four: 40 Seconds – There’s essentially no barley, nut or roasted flavour left. The liquor tastes quite floral with strong raisin and honey notes. The peach has faded quite a lot which is actually kind of disappointing; now that the focus is more on the taste of the raisin I’m losing interest. Also, it’s definitely very buttery. This is the lightest and most watery infusion yet. I’m sure I could probably get a decent fifth infusion but for my own personal tastes the leaves may very well be spent. They are, however, fully opened and smell sweet like honey and flowers.
This is definitely similar to the other Rou Gui/Cassia Teas I’ve tried but unique in its own right too – I definitely experience some more unique notes with the first steep like corn chips and flax, and I don’t remember really tasting raisin with the others I’ve tried. It’s definitely something I’d serve to other people and I would totally drink it again myself.
Leaf Type: Yellow
Where to Buy: Camellia Sinensis
This yellow tea composed almost entirely of buds comes from Sichuan province.Its magnificent young shoots are selected before being covered with the fine hairs typical of that grade of imperial picking! Its light yellow liquor is sweet and tasty. Bold hazelnut aromas are complemented by hints of vanilla and herbs. The finish is supported by its creamy texture and sweet taste. In the tradition of great teas – preferably to be enjoyed in a Gaiwan in a careful ambiance!
Learn more about this tea here.
Stream of consciousness review, meaning once I get to the steepings/infusions part of this review I’m just going to be taking note of my initial impressions/thoughts. I initially recorded this as a series of jot notes but have obviously since edited things to be paragraph formatted and easier to read…
This was a birthday present from my Dad; with the expensive price tag that comes along with this one I didn’t think that I’d ever be able to justify buying it but when I was explaining to him why yellow tea is such a big deal and how it’s something that I’ve been dying to explore but, because of the rarity, having a hard time doing something must have clicked for him because he surprised me with 25g!
I should note, the only other yellow tea I’ve had was a flavoured one and definitely not this high of a quality – I think that’s obviously something of note with this review.
Dry smell: From the bag this smell very strongly smells of rich hazelnut with herby undertones. After measuring it out into my gaiwan and being able to smell it closer/more directly I notice those smells and an almost borderline graham like smell. I do think you need to have an at least somewhat refined palate to pick up on it though; I’ve had various family members smell the dry leaf for this one and each of them swears they can’t smell a thing. The smell is so distinct for me though so I can only assume the difference here is that they’re tea plebians/don’t drink tea at all and, well, I’m obviously not and I definitely do.
Visually, the dry leaf reminds me a fair bit of silver needle, but with a more “tarnished” dusty yellow/ light brown colour, and very slightly smaller and more compressed/flat. I think it looks very aesthetically pleasing!
Infusion One – 30 Seconds:
Strong herbaceous and hay notes with a particularly peppery start and just a smidgen of astringency and bite are the first and foremost flavours with a menagerie of buttery vanilla and creamy hazelnut notes offering contrast and softening the tea a touch. There are corn silk notes and very soft roasty ones that fit somewhere into the equation. Fades into a soft, lemony flavour that lingers for a very long time, but only after having swallowed. There’s a lot going on, but it’s very pleasant! The leaf left in the Gaiwan smells like lemon pepper and hazelnut; weird but mouthwatering.
Infusion Two – 20 Seconds:
Smells like pepper, lemon and hazelnut. Less bite and less generic herby notes but still has some grip and some hay notes; it’s much more distinctly lemon pepper in start of the sip fading into roasty notes, vanilla and lemon in the body of the sip. I’m losing some of the hazelnut now as the other flavours get stronger. I tthoroughlyenjoy the transition from savory to light and sweet. It almost reminds me of vanilla lemon sponge cake in the aftertaste but the confectionery component’s not all there. It’s the butter that’s forming that impression, though. Leaf in the gaiwan is very lemony with some hay scent as well. It’s ticking my nose a little and making me sort of want to sneeze. But in a good way?
Infusion Three – 20 Seconds:
Oh wow; the flavour has diminished quite quickly as well as lost almost all the bite/grip. I pick up on a lot of hay notes; it’s quite similar to the flavour profile of your generic white tea/silver needle. There’s some creamy, buttery notes and a faint hazelnut and vanilla flavour. Mostly, it’s a sweet but dull lemon flavour though. This is my least favourite infusion thus far and I think, probably, a good place to stop steeping – even though I think I could get at least one more decent infusion from this I personally don’t push my Gong Fu sessions too long; I’m the sort of person who prefers to experience multiple different teas in one day than spend my whole day drinking a single tea.
Overall, this tea had a lot of really varied flavours to it but I found it so fascinating and enjoyable, and I think I learned a great deal from it. I would absolutely seek out this varietal again; I’m so intrigued to see how other companies’ offerings would compare! It’s quite sad that all of the ones I’ve seen have been so expensive; it’s definitely not one of those teas I can afford to buy from several companies in order to sample/compare…
Personally, I thought the second steeping was the best and had the most range of flavour as well as distinct flavours. Even though I know I said that I feared a novice/less trained palate would have a hard time picking up on the nuances I may have been wrong there; I thought almost all the flavour notes were very obvious. And, I definitely recommend seizing the opportunity to try this one if it presents itself to you!