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Organic Frankincense GABA Oolong Tea from Aftelier Perfumed Teas

FrankincenseOolongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Aftelier Perfumed Teas

Tea Description:

This organic oolong tea, from Nantou, Taiwan, has gorgeous fruit and honey notes. These leaves are especially rich in GABA, a natural enzyme that calms and relaxes. Mandy uses finest hojary frankincense, with its balsamic notes and citrus undertones that marries beautifully with this full-bodied tea. These tightly rolled leaves unfurl during the first steeping, and may be re-infused up to 4 times, retaining their fragrance.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Yes, I’ve sampled this Organic Frankincense GABA Oolong Tea from Aftelier Perfumed Teas before.  I’ve written a review about it before.  But I want to revisit it because as I near the end of my time as a tea reviewer, I want to take some time to acknowledge some pretty fantastic teas.  This tea was in my stash and I thought that this one was certainly worthy of reviewing again!

I steeped this the way I typically steep an Oolong – in my gaiwan, of course!  I did a 15 second rinse and then steeped it for 45 seconds for my first infusion.  For each infusion that followed, I added 15 seconds onto the steep time.  My first cup is a combination of infusions 1 and 2 while the second cup is infusions 3 and 4.

FrankincenseOolong2What I notice first about these teas from Aftelier is the exquisite aroma.  This one in particular has a very pleasant aroma that makes me think of what I might smell if I were to walk into one of those exotic import type of shops in the mall with the beautiful tapestries hanging on the walls.

With my first sip I noticed a floral note that reminded me a little bit of rose.  Then I started to pick up on notes of orange.  There is a pleasant undertone of caramel and the Oolong has a slightly toasty flavor that nicely complements the notes of caramel and the orange notes.  There is a gentle warmth to the cup.  Delicate notes of spice.

My second cup was more subdued.  I still tasted the aforementioned flavors:  spice, orange, soft caramel-y notes, hints of toast and even a slight buttery flavor that tastes more of browned butter than of a fresh, creamy butter.  The floral notes are still there too, although I can’t say that I’m tasting rose any more.  It’s just a gentle flower note that has softened since the first cup.  It’s a sweet and beautiful flavor.

This tea is quite unlike any Oolong I’ve ever tasted.  That’s what impresses me so much about the teas from Aftelier is that the teas are very fine quality and that they’re different from teas you’ll experience from any other purveyor.  This is NOT your standard issue.

Organic Rose Ginger Oolong Tea from Aftelier Perfumed Teas

RoseGingerTieGuanYinTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy: Aftelier Perfumed Teas

Product Description:

Organic Muzha Tieguanyin oolong tea, from Taiwan, is a rare tea that is oxidized and roasted for two days by a traditional tea master. This full-bodied oolong opens with ripe fruit notes and finishes with a smooth aftertaste, blending beautifully with the spicy rose flavor that Mandy creates with our Aftelier Chef’s Essences: Fresh Ginger and Turkish Rose. These tightly rolled leaves unfurl during the first steeping, and may be re-infused up to 4 times, retaining their fragrance.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I reviewed this tea previously – well, no, not exactly.  I reviewed a tea that is similar, but since writing that review, Mandy from Aftelier Perfumes changed her recipe for the tea blend slightly to use an organic Muzha Tieguanyin Oolong tea rather than the Tieguanyin she used for the tea that I sampled for that first review.

And I’ve come to learn (and greatly appreciate!) that organic definitely DOES make a difference.  It is especially noticeable (by taste) with tea bases (tisane bases) like rooibos, but I have also noticed differences between conventionally grown Oolong teas versus organically grown Oolong teas.  Yes, the possibility exists that the differences are only mentally imposed differences – that is to say, I think, “Oh, this is organic and therefore it is better,” but even with that mentally imposed difference, I still taste something better.

Hey, let’s face it, organic IS better.  It’s better for the earth and I believe it’s better for the tea drinker as well.

But really, I don’t need to justify revisiting this tea, because it’s a remarkable tea and I love the teas that are crafted by Aftelier.

I steeped this the way I typically steep an Oolong – in my gaiwan – performing a 15 second rinse and then I steeped the first infusion for 1 minute and added 15 seconds to each subsequent infusion.  I combine two infusions in each cup, so therefore the first cup was composed of the first two infusions and the second cup was composed of the third and fourth infusion, and so on.

I love the way the rose and ginger play together on the palate.  It is sweet, floral and just a little zesty from the peppery notes of the ginger.  The ginger does not bring a strong, heavily spiced presence to the sip, just a gentle, peppery warmth.  However, after sip is gone, the ginger lingers in the aftertaste and I can taste (and feel!) the ginger on my palate.  It’s still a fairly mild heat.  I really like it because I generally think of rose to be a summery type of tea essence, it seems to bring a sense of summer to the cup, but the ginger gives this a cozy sort of flavor that is distinctly autumnal.

As does the Tieguanyin, which has a delicate earthiness and wisps of smoke in the background.  The Tieguanyin has a light creaminess to it and a slight buttery taste that with the roasted notes offers more of a sweet, browned butter flavor rather than a fresh cream buttery type of taste.  I also like how the roasted notes seem to diminish the presence of a strong floral and vegetal tone to the Tieguanyin, because it allows the rose to really shine through without competing with other strong floral notes.  This roasting process also allows the natural fruit tones of the tea to develop and intermingle with the essences of Turkish Rose and Fresh Ginger!

The slightly smoky, roasty-toasty notes emerged a little more prominently in the second cup (infusions 3 and 4), and I was very pleased to find that the rose and ginger notes remained for these infusions.  The rose notes are softening somewhat in this cup and is more reminiscent of the taste of the air that surrounds while strolling through a garden of roses.  The smell and flavor of the rose is distinct and definitely there.  aftelier

The ginger is warming on the palate, especially in the aftertaste.  The Tieguanyin is sweet, not quite as creamy as the first cup, but still quite toasty tasting with wonderful notes of stone fruit.  Warm and sweet and beautifully fragrant, just like summer, but also cozy and comforting like autumn.  A really beautiful cup.

I was surprised to find that those wonderful rose and ginger notes were still present in the third cup (infusions 5 and 6)!  With many flavored Oolong teas, the flavoring tends to be indistinguishable by the time I’ve reached the fifth and sixth infusion.  The tea is still delicious, of course, because the Oolong is still flavorful on its own, but usually the flavors have softened to the point of barely noticeable.  That is definitely NOT the case with this tea, though.

The rose is still lovely and the ginger still warm and peppery.  Sure, these flavors are softer now than they were with the first cup, but, that’s alright, because I am getting plenty of flavor from the Tieguanyin – sweet, fruity, toasty, nutty flavors – but I can also still taste sweet floral notes from the rose and zesty notes of ginger.

This is a really lovely and unique flavored Oolong – you’re not going to find another one like this anywhere!

Organic Matcha Chai Green Tea from Aftelier Perfumed Teas

matchachaiTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green (Matcha)

Where to Buy:  Aftelier Perfumed Teas

Product Description:

Our Organic Matcha Chai Tea is grown under diffused sunlight in Nishio, Japan, where the leaves are then ground into a fine vibrant emerald-green powder. I create our exceptionally delicious green Chai tea by flavoring the naturally creamy and sweet ceremonial-grade organic matcha with Aftelier Chef’s Essences: vanilla absolute from Madagascar, organic cinnamon from Vietnam, organic pimento berry from Jamaica, and organic cardamom from India. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I was very excited to try this new Organic Matcha Chai Green Tea from Aftelier Perfumed Teas, because I have really enjoyed the perfumed teas that I’ve tried from Aftelier Perfumed Teas in the past and this was a Matcha Chai!  YUM!

One thing that stands out to me about this tea is the ingredient list.  This is not your “usual” run of the mill chai spices.  There are a couple of “usual suspects” here, like the cinnamon and cardamom, and vanilla is another flavoring that is often used in chai blends these days.  But pimento berry (aka allspice)?  And no ginger or clove?

Not to say that these changes are bad … they’re just different and it’s my job to spot things like that and point them out.

Another thing that is definitely different with this Matcha Chai from some other Matcha Chai blends that I’ve tasted in the past is that this is a VERY high grade of Matcha.  This is apparent in the color of the powder, the bright, vivid jade hue of the liquid, and all that frothy foam on the top of my freshly prepared bowl of Matcha!

It’s also apparent in the flavor.  I can taste the quality of the Matcha – it is sweet and slightly vegetative, with a delicious buttery tone.  It’s so creamy and smooth.

The spices are on the milder side of “chai” – that is to say that this is not a spicy chai … it is warm with cinnamon, cardamom and allspice, but it isn’t peppery or spicy-hot.  It’s a very “autumnal” sort of taste … like spiced cider or something (but without the apples).  The vanilla adds a luscious creaminess which enhances the natural creamy quality of the Matcha.

The Matcha isn’t grainy on the palate … it’s very smooth and silky.  And even though the product description of this tea states that its

It is normal for a bit of the powder to remain in the bottom of your cup… 

the Matcha stays incorporated in the water.  There was no sediment when I reached the bottom of the bowl.  Of course, if I had let it sit for a while, there may have been a different result.  But as it is, it was so delicious that I finished the bowl before I could finish typing the review.

This is REALLY good.  If you’re a fan of Matcha … this is one to add to your shopping list.  Oh … and it’s a lot of fun receiving a package of tea from Aftelier too!  Their packaging makes me feel special.  It’s like receiving a beautifully wrapped gift rather than getting an order in the mail.  Gorgeous packaging for a superb product … this company really delivers!

Mandarin Balsam Oolong Tea from Aftelier Perfumed Teas

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Aftelier Perfumed Teas

Product Description:

The flavor and fragrance is based on the contrast between the syrupy vanilla sweetness of Peru balsam and the floral citrus of yellow mandarin, which marries beautifully with this full-bodied tea. This organic Wuyi oolong tea, with its slender tightly curled leaves, has a deep oxidized, roasted rice aroma and nutty flavor. Producing Wuyi Oolong tea is labor and time consuming: sun wilting, room wilting, shacking, dehydrating, roasting, rolling, cooling. The procedures occur repeatedly over days. Wuyi Oolong is even more aromatic after aging. Provides up to four infusions retaining their fragrance.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I was really impressed with the teas that I’ve tried from Aftelier Perfumed Teas, so when we were approached to try their latest creation, I was very excited.

This tea is really good.  The vanilla tones of the balsam provide a really rich, creamy flavor and texture to the cup, and when combined with the deep, toasty flavor of the Wuyi Oolong, it is sublime!  It reminds me very much of rice pudding, only in a teacup and without the fat and calories!

The mandarin contributes a sweet and slightly tangy flavor which contrasts well with the creamy vanilla rice notes.  The floral tones are only slightly sharp, but it is enough to help cut through some of the sweeter tones to keep the tea from becoming too cloying for the palate.

It is a very elegant and luxurious kind of tea, but even so, I don’t think I’d classify this particular perfumed Oolong as a feminine tea.  The more rugged qualities of the Wuyi give the tea balance.

What I like best about the teas that I’ve tried from Aftelier is this:  they don’t try to cover up the flavor of the teas that they use.  Instead, they embrace the natural qualities of each tea, and find the flavors that will accent and compliment them.  I think that this latest creation from Aftelier exemplifies this, with the way that the deliciously creamy tones of the balsam accent the sweet, roasted notes of the Wuyi, and the mandarin coming in to brighten up the cup just so.

This is more than just a cup of tea, it’s a work of art!

Linden Blossom Oolong Tea from Aftelier Perfumed Teas

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Aftelier Perfumed Teas

Product Description:

Gui Fei oolong tea has an intense dark, spicy perfume with a textured, nutty, floral taste. The tea’s floral complexity marries perfectly with the honeysuckle notes of the organic linden blossom essence. These rolled leaves provide up to 4 infusions.

Taster’s Review:

I have had the amazing opportunity to try all four of Aftelier’s perfumed teas, and enjoyed each for their unique properties.  Of the four, I think that this one may be my favorite.

The aroma is intense, but in comparing this with the other three Oolongs from Aftelier, it is quite subtle … if that makes sense.  The flavor follows suit, as it is not as powerful in flavor as the other three.  But make no mistake in assuming that because this one is a bit softer in flavor and fragrance than the others that this one lacks in any way, because it certainly does not.

The flavor is absolutely divine.  The Gui Fei Oolong has a very pleasing nutty flavor with a soft, creamy texture.  The nutty flavor of the Oolong melds seamlessly with the honeysuckle-esque tones of the linden blossom.  It is sweet, nutty, and refreshing.

In case you might be wondering (I know I would if I were reading this review instead of tasting the tea), it doesn’t taste perfume-y … or at least what I might imagine drinking perfume would taste like.  It doesn’t taste like soap.  It tastes like tea that has been treated with the meticulous care and flavored with painstaking precision.  It is amazing!

This tea is a tribute to the passion that Aftelier has for their product, and that attention to detail makes this tea worth every penny – and then some!  This tea would be the pride of any tea collection!