Ceylon Idulgashinna Hand Twisted Blue Nettle Oolong from What-Cha

bluenettleoolongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  What-Cha

Tea Description:

A delightful tea crafted by workers meticulously hand twisting and tying tea leaves together to form a ‘blue nettle’. The leaves within the ‘blue nettle’ show varying levels of oxidisation and as a result the tea exhibits characteristics typical to white, oolong and black teas!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is a very cool tea; and while I don’t know for sure that’s it’s unique to What-Cha I’ve personally never seen another oolong rolled like this. When I opened up my sealed package I was quite surprised too; the ‘nettles’/spears of tea are actually quite large and thick – maybe about the length of my pinky finger? And just slightly thicker across than the widest part of my finger. For my tasting, I used two of the nettles/spears since the suggested measurement was 1-2 pieces and I was using a mug just slightly bigger than 12 ounces.

The first infusion was very soft and delicate, like a very lightly oxidized oolong but with flavour notes traditionally found in white, oolong, and black teas  – exactly like What-Cha describes in the tea description! The notes I observed throughout the cup were apricot, overripe peaches, hay, flowers, malt, and a dewy/rainwater like flavour. The emphasis was on the really supple stonefruit notes though. It also surprised me a little that the nettles stayed almost completely the same shape as they were before steeping – just slightly ‘swollen’ from steeping.

The second infusion was quite similar to the first – though the apricot, hay, and malt notes all got increasingly more prominent and I wasn’t tasting overripe peaches or the same ‘dew’ flavour anymore. The mouthfeel was initially soft, but it left a tingly feeling on my tongue like I’d eaten too much pineapple recently. All subsequent steeps followed the layout of this one up until the flavour started to really suffer. The nettles never really completely unwound, either.

This was a fascinating tea, and I really enjoyed it quite a bit! However, that said, the first infusion actually was my favourite. There was something really perfect about the taste of apricot and fresh rainwater. It’s hard to put it into words.

Blue Unicorn from Shanti Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Shanti Tea

Tea Description:

From the famous Biodynamic & Fair Trade Idulgashinna Tea Garden come these visually captivating spears of Cinnamon, gold, and silver tips, resembling the mythical unicorn’s horn. This hand crafted tea is carefully hand-rolled and twisted into spears. Each finished cluster is slightly more than 1 inch in length. These partially fermented leaves produce a delicate, pale liquor that is exceptionally sweet and clean, with champagne undertones. The tea can be steeped multiple times, each revealing new complexities.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is definitely one of the most unique Oolong teas that I’ve ever encountered.  After reading the description of the tea, I thought that maybe it was a black tea, but as Shanti Tea has categorized it as an Oolong, that’s what I’ll call it.  Taste-wise, it has qualities to it that are reminiscent of both types of tea.

I steeped this in my gaiwan, adding an extra horn (the steeping parameters suggest 3 horns) to my gaiwan, and using short steeps starting with 1 minute, and adding 30 seconds to each subsequent infusion. I combine the results of two infusions into my cup; therefore, infusions one and two are cup number one, infusions three and four are cup number two, and so on.

The first two infusions were light in flavor, at first, I had a difficult time discerning much of anything and I worried that I may have made a mistake while brewing, and that maybe I should have followed the instructions to the letter.  However, as I took the next couple of sips, the flavors began to reveal themselves.  By the time I was nearly finished with my first cup, I could taste a pleasant sweetness, some earthy tones, and a lovely spiced undertone.  There were indeed “champagne-like” flavors to the cup, imparting a slight fruity sweetness to enjoy in the aftertaste.

After infusions number three and four to make my second cup, the leaves no longer resemble the lovely horns that they were prior to infusion, but they haven’t yet completely unfurled, indicating that they were ready and able to produce more infusions.  The second cup is more flavorful than the first, with some earthy tones emerging.  The aforementioned spiced tone is still present, but, it is smoother than in the first cup.  A bit more of a fruit taste with this cup, as well as more astringency.  I find this cup to be more rustic-tasting; offering flavors that are more like a black tea to me than an Oolong.

With the third cup, I noticed more of a floral note emerging.  This cup tastes much more like an Oolong than the second cup.  The fruit flavors are much more distinct.  A sweet, smooth flavor, and very few of the spiced undertones I mentioned earlier.  The earthy tones have also mellowed.  This one is less astringent than the second cup, and definitely my favorite of the three.

This is a really intriguing, unique tea.