Nepal First Flush Silver Oolong from What-Cha

SilverOolongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy: What-Cha

Tea Description:

Sourced direct from Greenland Organic Farm, who are very much at the forefront of a burgeoning Nepali tea industry dedicated to producing high quality artisanal teas. Greenland Organic Farm are completely pesticide and chemical free farm dedicated to producing tea in an ethical and fair manner. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

When I placed my last What-Cha order, Alistair thoughtfully hand picked out this as an extra sample for me to try. It’s definitely a very interesting looking oolong, visually it reminds me of another very lightly oxidized oolong from Camellia Sinensis I tried not all that long ago; the same kind of pale silver/green tea leaves with a fine fuzz and down on them. They both remind me strongly of moonlight! But I don’t have expectations this will taste all that similar given this is from Nepal, and the other tea I’m reminded of aesthetically was from Darjeeling.

Every review I’ve read of this so far has been for some variation of hot tea; some of those really thorough reviews can be found on Steepster. I like to do my own thing though, and try teas in a way that’s a little different than the obvious approach, and often that leads to my cold brewing or icing tea; and that’s exactly what I did with this tea!

I found the cold brew was so interesting, with a very diverse range of flavours! The immediate and obvious ones to me were floral notes, sweet hay/grass notes, and a fruity flavour that reminded me a little of white grapes/white wine! It had that very slight sourness/acidity that wine has, but softened and contrasted by those other dominant flavours. Once I scratched the surface with the more obvious flavour notes I also noticed notes of citrus, almost a grapefruit-like flavour but also a touch lemony which probably contributed to that little bit of sourness and acidity I initially attributed to the winey/grapey notes.

Also interesting and different, I tasted a note that reminded me strikingly of the green ‘peel’ part of a cucumber? Just in that it was vegetal, crisp, refreshing and juicy in that cucumber sort of way – but with that very slight bitterness that comes with cucumber peel over cucumber ‘pulp’. In this case that bitterness is just present enough that it becomes a very pleasant quality. The overall feel of the tea is this fruity, fresh ‘Spring time’ kind of drink that reminds me of April showers, and helping me Grandma in her flower garden when I was a little kid. The presence of both sweeter fruit notes and more green/vegetal ones creates a very refreshing flavor.

So overall, this actually did end up tasting a little similar to that Camellia Sinensis Darjeeling! Not exactly the same, sure, but comparable anyway. I wonder why that’s so; possibly the terroir shared between both growing regions? Or possibly the way the leaf itself was processed. Either way I find that kind of fascinating and it’s something I’d be interested in learning more about.

Darjeeling 1st Flush Colonal Casleton DJ-13 Oolong from Camellia Sinensis

DarjeelingOolongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Camellia Sinensis (However it’s no longer listed)

Tea Description:

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!

Taster’s Review:

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.

Assam Anandabagh STFGFOP1 Autumn Flush Tea 2013 from Grey’s Teas

AssamAnandabaghAutumn2013Tea Type:
Black Tea

Where To Buy:
Grey’s Teas

Product Description:

This is a lovely, tippy autumn flush Assam with a most attractive, slightly liquorice note. It is malty yet elegant, having plenty of tip evident. Just flown in this 2013 picking is a real treat. Infuse for five minutes. Drink with milk.

See more at:
Tasters Review:
Assam Anandabagh STFGFOP1 Autumn Flush Tea 2013 from Grey’s Teas….you are impressive!  Just when you think you know what an Assam is going to taste like you come across a ‘gem’ like this one that throws your taste buds for a loop but in a good way!  This is more than ‘just an Assam’.  This has fairly complex layers of flavors that puts on a show for any tea lover!
Once infused the color is that of a medium brown.  It nearly glows in the cup!  It smells slightly malty.  The flavor is somewhat bold but ‘sits on the tongue well’.  It only has a hint of sweet wood.  The malty and rich notes are more upfront.  There are specks of gentle liquorice in there as well.  The end sip on to the after taste gives a bried nod to cocoa flavors, too.
I’m really loving this tea.  Assam Anandabagh STFGFOP1 Autumn Flush Tea 2013 from Grey’s Teas is one I would probably store in my ‘secret stash’ and save for the end of a busy day to relax or even pump up a rough mid-morning while at work.

Arya Ruby – Organic 1st Flush 2013, Darjeeling from Lochan Tea Limited

Lochan Tea Limited LogoTea Type:
Black Tea

Where To Buy:
Lochan Tea Limited

Product Description:

Your taste, your enjoyment is what this tea site is all about. Our job is to share the best products we can provide for you — and also to expand your experience with our enthusiasm for the history, the culture and the never-ending discoveries about tea and the human experience.
We bring you more than a commodity but rather the experience of the leaf, which is magical, and at the same time transcending and yet very grounded in the earth. The beautiful Darjeeling region has given rise to a unique and beautiful product that you can appreciate on all these levels. The stories of nearly two centuries in India, all are captured in a cup of tea, for those eager to see it. Let’s take this journey together.

Tasters Review:
Arya Ruby – Organic 1st Flush 2013, Darjeeling from Lochan Tea Limited isn’t currently on their website but I think it should be.  It’s great!  I totally understand Lochan focuses on fabulous quality of their flushes based on year so it could be they are already sold out of this one.  That wouldn’t surprise me because it’s wonderful.  It’s a very nice Darjeeling.  It has a medium-strength sweet-woodsy flavor to it with bright energetic notes popping thru to put a smile on your face.  The aroma of the dry leaf is one of my favorite parts of this tea experience.  It’s fresh and airy and full of life.

Temi 1st Flush from Tea Horse

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black (Darjeeling)

Where to Buy:  Tea Horse

Tea Description:

A beautifully bright fragrant rare tea from the Himalayan kingdom of Sikkim.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

What a lovely single estate Darjeeling!  So crisp and bright tasting; it has a clean, uplifting flavor that is perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up … which is just what I need right at this very moment!

The aroma is pleasing with subtle notes of flower and fruit, I also detect notes of wood and gentle spices.  This fragrance tells of what the flavor has in store, as I taste layers of flavor.  The overall cup is so light and refreshing, it almost seems to sparkle on the tongue.  No wonder Darjeeling is often called the “Champagne of Teas.”

This is a tea that benefits from a few moments of cooling off time after the tea has been decanted.  When very hot, the flavors seem almost jumbled together, resulting in an overall taste that is crisp and delicious, but it is difficult to discern all the different facets of flavor within the sip.  After cooling for about three minutes, though, those layers of flavor really begin to come to life, ready to reveal themselves.

Up front, I notice a lovely flowery note – not a sharp floral tone, its more like a soft, sweet note that melds almost seamlessly with a wood-like tones, evoking thoughts of a tree in bloom.  Beneath this flavor I notice a gentle, warm set of ambiguous spices which lends an exotic touch to this cup.

In this Darjeeling, there does not seem to be a strong “muscatel” presence … at least, not at first.  Instead, I detect a cleaner, lighter fruit tone, tasting a bit like a finely filtered apple juice, crisp and sweet.  It is quite faint, really, as if maybe a drop or two of the juice were added to the cup.  However, as I made my way to mid-cup, I began to notice a slight muscatel-esque taste emerging.  These fruit notes never really become distinctly pronounced, though.  Very soft and clean, in keeping with what seems to be the overall theme of this tea.

Also keeping with the clean taste, the astringency seems to cleanse the palate.  The aftertaste is equally as clean, leaving only hints of what was tasted during the sip:  whispers of flowers, slightly woody, insinuations of fruit, and a dash of spice.

This is one of those teas that you want to enjoy on a quiet afternoon.  It is a contemplative cup that restores you as you explore its many layers of flavor.  A truly wonderful experience.