This top-shelf variant of Iron Goddess (Tie Guan Ying) oolong is named after the Beijing opera story where a concubine gets shwasted after she’s stood up by the king. Based on the name alone, I’m not sure which way this will go from the baseline floral taste of a lesser quality iron goddess – will the tea be a sharp bitter taste reminiscent of heartbreak, or a sweet balm to heal her sorrows?
The dry leaves have fabulous scent, reminding me of the elusive white gummy bears flavor.
After brewing “3-5 grams for under 2 minutes”, the brew is quickly a deep ochre yellow. A delicate purple orchid wafted up from the full, fluffy leaves along with the familiar umami butter of oxidized teas. It should be noted this teas flavor is due to slight oxidation as it grows – leaf hoppers bite a bit and start the process as it’s still growing. Which means there’s an absence of pesticides – win!
Everything about this tea so far is flat out sexy. Yep, sexy tea, I took it too far with the concubine reference…Moving on.
One thing I love about Oolong teas is their incredible resteep value. In this particular case, the royal fragrance gives way to a complex nectar of smoke in later brews. I’m at least 5 steeps in and the flavor just keeps evolving. This is FANTASTIC! Perfect to drink all day. Definitely the heart mending tea from my predictions earlier. A great escape for someone whose thoughts are clouded with an ominous heartache.
My first go with this tea, I over brewed it. Fortunately it was forgiving…maybe the tea is telling me something? When I brewed it with more care, it was simply magical. This is exactly the pick-me-up tea I needed this week.
Here’s the scoop!
Where to Buy: Silk Road Teas
Drunken Concubine is named in recognition of the intoxicating flavors of a wonderful, high-grade Tieguanyin oolong. One will note the highly aromatic fragrance of the leaves. In the first steep, as the leaves begin to unfurl, delicious, flavorful notes build. This tea is bright, clean, fresh and orchid-like – all classic flavors of this high-grade, prized lo-oxidized oolong. Each season, we select a lot of this varietal from our tea maker that we believe is the finest of the harvest. We are proud to offer our latest lot of Drunken Concubine. This is a rare taste offering, high-grade oolong, much prized in China.
Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!
Leaf Type: Black Tea (Chai)
Where to Buy: Tea of the People
Chai is to many tea drinkers to what The Beatles are to music. Paul sang, “Let it Be”, but we went “Across the Universe” and landed in Silk Road, the once legendary trade route between China, India and beyond. Barrel aged with Szechuan peppers, we made Imperial Keemun, “Come Together” with this Indian Chai. Sweet and spicy flavours will leave you wanting it “8 Days a Week”.
WHY BARREL AGED TEA?
Barrel aging is a new and exciting way to handcraft a sophisticated cup of tea. Our barrel aging process begins by carefully hand-blending the tea and ingredients together and placing the blend into charred white oak wood barrels. Flown in from France, the barrels are then stored in our private tea cellar for five months. The oak keeps the ingredients tightly stored, allowing for the ingredient’s flavours to fuse harmoniously with the tea.
WHAT IS ORGANIC IMPERIAL KEEMUN?
Awarded both the prestigious designation for being one of China’s Ten Famous Teas and Official Imperial Tea of the Queen of England, Organic Imperial Keemun is one of the best black teas in the world. Great for stress management, studies have shown organic Imperial Keemun also promotes excellent oral, heart and bone health.
Learn more about this tea here.
Most of the teas I have tasted – I can fully form my opinion about them – by the end of the cup. This one took a while. It took me until my 3rd cup to full form my opinion. Not that it was a bad tasting chai – that couldn’t be further from the truth – it was just more complex than the others I have been sipping on as of late. Barrel Aged Chai – Silk Road – from Tea of the People was quite the experience.
I read the ingredients label over and over again. I couldn’t find anything that would make it different than the other chai’s to be honest. Perhaps it was all of the organic ingredients – but – I have a hunch that the REAL taste difference is because it was barrel aged. I have to say I haven’t tried many age barrels teas – a few – but not a ton of them – probably because there aren’t that many on the market.
That’s why I think this offering it wonderful! It gives it that little extra something. Something you can’t quite put your finger on – or in this case – your tongue on! The spicy flavor blast of this chai really awakens your senses. It forces you to taste and pick out each and every ingredients and ponder on it for a bit before completing your sipping adventure. There seems to be a mysterious semi juicy undertone that is very much appreciated. This is one chai that I will remember for a long time, that is for sure! Very nicely done!
Leaf Type: Pu-erh
Where to Buy: Verdant Tea
Xingyang Workshop produces some of the cleanest and most sparkling shu pu’er we have tried. The 2008 shu nuggets are just calling to be made into a juicy and cooling blend. The spearmint and peppermint provide a crisp edge and refreshing flavor that brings out the sparkling texture of the tea. The cinnamon and fennel extend the sweetness and bring it out into the long aftertaste.
Learn more about this blend here.
At this point, I’ve tried quite a few different teas from Verdant Tea. They’ve become one of my favorite sources for high-quality, pure teas because, put simply, they have some of the very best pure (unflavored, unblended) teas that I’ve tried.
But I’ve not tried very many of their blends, so I was excited with this opportunity to try one of the blends that has received rave reviews on Steepster.
The picture above suggests to me that this tea is a stunner iced, so I’ve been allowing this first infusion to cool to “cold” temperature before tasting. It doesn’t take long at all since I’ve poured this into a very small teacup… and now that it has cooled, I must say that this is really very good!
The initial flavors are minty, with a back note of fennel. The cinnamon together with the fennel create a sort of spicy licorice-y taste … it’s a sweet and exotic kind of flavor that is very enjoyable, especially as it melds with the crisp, cool minty flavors of spearmint and peppermint.
At first, it was difficult to discern the Puerh, but, as I focus, I could taste it in the background. And as I near the end of my teacup (time for another infusion!) the earthy flavors of the Puerh are emerging. I expect that the next infusion will be earthier than this first infusion.
Yes! This infusion brewed to a darker color, looking much more like a cup of Pu-erh (and tasting more like it too!) It is this infusion where I find these flavors starting to swirl together in a very harmonious fashion. It no longer is an “initially minty, with back notes of fennel and cinnamon and pu-erh in the background” kind of cup. This is minty, yes, and fennel-y, and cinnamon-y too. But these flavors are much more in step with one another. It’s become a remarkably smooth tea with notes of mint and fennel and cinnamon. It’s like it’s become very unified – one tea with many flavors, the whole has become better than the individual parts with this unification.
That is to say that while these flavors are distinctive, they seem to be playing as a part of the whole cup here. Truly an Alchemy blend – where all these flavors that might otherwise be ordinary have come together to create a truly extraordinary taste.
This tea keeps getting more delicious with each infusion, too. Just when I think it can’t get better, I infuse it again, and it does get better! Smoother, richer, more harmonious. It was with the third and fourth infusion that I began to notice a background note of cocoa! The aftertaste is cool and crisp and minty, and together with the tones of cocoa, it’s almost like an exotic chocolate mint.
I love how my palate is begging me for more of this tea … it’s that good!