Vietnamese Oolong Tea from Spire Tea

spireteaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Tea Description:

This pure, unique Vietnamese oolong produces a jade-green liquor with a freshly sweet floral aroma. 

This tea was previously known as Jade Dragon.

Learn more about Spire Tea on their website.

Taster’s Review:

From the name of this tea (Jade Dragon) and the above description, I had expected a green liquor but what I brewed from this tea was more of an amber colored liquid.

Well, the color might not be “right” … but the flavor is superb!  I brewed this the same way I’d go about brewing most Oolong teas – in my gaiwan.  I started out with a quick rinse to reawaken the leaves (15 seconds in hot water, and then I strained off the liquid and discarded it).  Then I brewed the first infusion for 45 seconds, and added 15 seconds to each subsequent infusion.  I combine the results of two infusions to make each cup, so my first cup was infusions 1 and 2, my second cup was infusions 3 and 4 … and so on!  Unfortunately, there was a mishap with my second cup – and it ended up all over the kitchen counter.  I chose not to slurp it off of the counter, although I have to admit that I was tempted.

My first cup was amazing.  It was buttery and sweet, with a lovely texture that was creamy and soft.  The flavor was delicately floral, and I picked up subtle honey notes and hints of a fruit-like flavor.

As I said, the second cup was not consumed, but my kitchen counter seemed to enjoy it, or perhaps what it enjoyed was the sponge bath that followed.  It’s not talking, so I don’t know.  But the third cup was slightly more focused a flavor than the first cup.  I found the first cup to be a softer sort of flavor, while the third cup had more of a distinguished flavor, especially the floral notes.  There is not so much of that creamy, buttery flavor in this cup though.  Still delightfully honeyed, with fruit notes in the distance.

My fourth and final cup (with a third cup so flavorful, I decided these leaves had more to offer!) was similar to the third cup, although I found that the flavors were softening at this point.  There was less astringency with this cup, and the floral notes seemed to meld with the honey notes to offer a sharp yet sweet taste.

Of the three cups that I enjoyed, I think my favorite was the first.  I really loved the buttery taste and texture of that cup, although I really enjoyed the flavor of the cups that followed.  It’s definitely worthwhile to take the time to resteep this one.

A really lovely Oolong!

Vietnam Black Tea OP1 from Single Origin Teas

Vietnam-OP1Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Single Origin Teas

Tea Description:

An unusual black tea with a faint spiced aroma.  Freshly dried black pepper and cinnamon tastes overlay this full-bodied black.  A good tea for the winter, or for making Chai!

Vietnam is one of the lesser known tea producing countries.  Ranked as the 6th highest producing country for tea, we enjoy the unique spicy terroir of this brew.  Our Vietnam Black OP1 does not come from a single farmer, but a cooperative in northern Vietnam.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The dry leaf of this Vietnam Black Tea OP1 from Single Origin Teas is beautiful, with varying shades of deep chocolate brown, russet and even some golden tips.  The leaves are small and wiry, and have an aroma that is earthy and has some hints of spice.

The brewed tea allows the nose to enjoy more of the spice that I noticed before I brewed the tea.  There is not so much of the earthiness that I noted.  The tea smells warm and welcoming, like something you would want to curl up to on a cold winter morning.

And the flavor is much like the aroma:  warm and welcoming.  It is a rich and robust tea – one that would be great for a morning tea.  It would make a fabulous latte!

It has a sweet, honey undertone, with middle layers of earth and leather and hints of flower in the distance.  There is an indistinct fruit note to this, reminding me of raisins.  The top notes are slightly peppery and as the description suggests … cinnamon-y!  It almost tastes as though this tea was delicately spiced, but these flavors are natural to the tea leaf.

I have to agree with the description that suggests that this tea would make a wonderful base for a chai – it would!  If I were in the tea blending business still, I’d probably choose this and a robust Assam and blend the two together for a chai base.  Mmm!  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

I haven’t had a lot of opportunities to try Vietnamese teas but the few that I have tried, I have really enjoyed.  This one from Single Origin Teas is no exception, in fact, this one may just be the most memorable of the few that I’ve tasted.  It’s really an exceptional tea – one I’d highly recommend to all tea enthusiasts out there.  TRY THIS TEA!

Season’s Pick Vietnam CTC Black Tea from Upton Tea Imports


Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Upton Tea Imports

Tea Description:

A medium-bodied CTC selection which can accommodate milk if desired. This tea produces a flavorful cup with a deep amber liquor. Enjoy hot or iced. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Season’s Pick Vietnam CTC Black Tea from Upton Tea Imports is a very flavorful tea – there’s a lot going on in each sip!  My first sip of this tea, I was really surprised at just how flavorful it was, but, for all it’s flavor it doesn’t really have a heavy body or texture to it, it’s actually quite smooth to sip.

There are notes of sweetness to this:  a fruity sweetness that is reminiscent of a berry medley, with notes of citrus in the background.  It’s not overly tangy, though, it’s more like the sweetness of these fruits without the tart or tangy notes.  There is a low earthy note and I also notice a sort of “smoldering” wood note, vaguely smoky, certainly not overtly smoky … more like wisps of smoke that peek out from underneath this wood-like undertone that sit just beneath the earthy notes.

I like the robust quality of this tea – that it is a good, “rugged” type of tea without the heaviness of a typical robust or bold tasting tea.  It’s like a gentle shake to alertness, rather than a strong, vigorous kick in the butt.  Very little astringency (I’m talking, next to NO astringency here!) and no bitterness.

A really pleasant cup of tea.  Not my favorite tea that I’ve tried from Upton, but, it’s a pretty decent black tea.

Lotus Green Tea from The Persimmon Tree


Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where To Buy:  The Persimmon Tree

Tea Description:

A unique combination of hand-harvested fresh lotus blossoms blended with green loose leaf tea in an ancient scenting method comprises our Lotus Green tea. Prepared in small batches by Vietnamese traditional artisans, the unique essence of these spring-harvested flowers is released and absorbed directly into the tea. The Lotus green tea brews a pleasant, slightly sharp flavor similar to star anise, with a subtle vanilla finish. Be sure to steep multiple times to fully appreciate the flavor of these sweet, aromatic lotus blossoms infused in our Lotus Flower tea.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Lotus Green Tea from The Persimmon Tree really is a lovely cuppa!

Both the aroma and the taste is delightfully floral.  I think that the above description describes the flavor perfectly – it is sharp, with notes that remind me of the licorice-y notes of star anise, and as the sip nears the tail, there is a hint of vanilla.  It is sweet, exotic and creamy, and makes for a truly lovely tea time experience.

I like also that this tea offers multiple infusions!  The first cup was sharper than the second infusion, which was a little softer, but still so sweet and creamy!  I think that the second infusion was my favorite.  The third infusion was also quite nice, the flavors became more unified with my third and final cup, making for a more refreshing, lighter taste, but still really flavorful.

This tea needs no additions … I think that sugar would overwhelm it.  It is one of those teas that you want to spend a leisurely afternoon with … infusing and infusing again … experiencing the many layers of flavor that the tea has to offer.

The more I get to know the teas of The Persimmon Tree, the more I like this company.  I have recently been checking out their blog and found some yummy recipes and lots of other fun things!  And you can keep up with their happenings on Twitter or Facebook.

Lotus Ancien from The Tao of Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  The Tao of Tea

Tea Description:

A delicate green tea with a clear, crisp flavor is paired with the heady, aromatic fragrance of Lotus, reminiscent of anise and vanilla.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I am truly amazed at how delicious this tea is.

I have been a fan of scented teas for quite some time, especially jasmine scented teas.  In fact, jasmine has been my favorite for many years now, but I think that lotus has a good chance of dethroning my beloved jasmine after tasting this tea.

When I first saw the leaves, I thought they might be an Oolong, or even a black tea (they are darker in color than the photo above suggests, they are a deep chocolate-brown color), so I was glad that I checked on it before I brewed it, because if I had brewed it by what I saw, I think the water would have been too hot and I might have ruined this fantastic tea.

I steeped it at a low temperature (175°F) for 2 minutes, and the result was a pale golden colored brew – it is much paler than I expected with such dark leaves.  The aroma is intensely floral – it’s very pleasing to the nose!

The flavor is superb.  The green tea is a very delicate flavor, sweet with hints of vegetation.  The lotus provides a delightful vanilla-y tone, just as the description above suggests, as well as hints of anise.  It isn’t a snappy licorice flavor, but more of a gentle, sweet anise, softened by the creamy overtones.

This is one of those teas that goes beyond “pleasant” or “enjoyable” – this is a memorable tea, one that will make ordinary moments extraordinary and special moments even better.

I love this tea.