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2005 Shu Tuo-Phoenix Old Tea Tree Tea from ESGreen

ShuTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh Tea

Where to Buy: ES Green

Tea Description:

This cooked(ripe) loose-leaf pu-erh tea has been produced in 2005. Slim tea buds are covered with gold fuzz. Neat and clean.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

2005 Shu Tuo-Phoenix Old Tea Tree Tea from ESGreen is a ripe, cooked loose-leaf pu-erh tea from 2005.   For these tea leaves you will see slim tea buds that are covered with gold fuzz.  The leaves from the 2005 Shu Tuo-Phoenix Old Tea Tree Tea from ESGreen are neat and clean as is the flavor of the offering.

Even though this 2005 Shu Tuo-Phoenix Old Tea Tree Tea from ESGreen smells a bit like wet wood and old cigars once infused it was quite pleasant to the palate!  This infused very dark but also held up to multiple infusions, too.  After a few moments at room temperature the flavor seems to peak at it’s flavor rush to the taste buds.

Pu-erh teas – it seems – I either love them – or hate them.  This one is the first one I put in the middle category because I do like it quite a bit but also can’t say I LOVE it and have it have it every day.  It is an offering to linger on – to take your time with – to appreciate and enjoy the time and artisan-ship that went into it.  It may not be for everyone but if it is for you then by all means…celebrate it!  I, for one, will have another cup!

Earl Grey Black from Camellia Sinensis

EarlGreyTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Camellia Sinensis

Tea Description:

From Dooars, in northern India, this quality black tea is scented with a natural flavouring extracted from organic Italian bergamot, a highly aromatic citrus fruit. You’ll be spellbound after one sip of this English classic.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Recently I made an order with Camellia Sinensis for some teaware and they included several free teas such as this tea. Personally, I’ve never really sought to purchase an EG blend from Camellia Sinensis; I do enjoy Earl Grey but not enough to need more than one good kind on hand (and currently I’m loving the Liquid Proust’s Peach vs. Bergamot twist on the traditional Earl Grey) and when I’m ordering from Camellia Sinensis, which I frequently do, it’s more for the interesting and often unique straight/pure teas they carry or for the teaware.

That said, I’m grateful for the inclusion: I love the fact this Earl Grey is both organic and fair trade as those as aspects of tea I look to support as often as possible. This sample was a sachet style tea bag, and I ended up making it early in the morning before work. I have to say, I thought the dry leaf smelled fairly mild and quite floral and even as it was steeping up I was noticing more floral traits than anything overwhelmingly bergamot-heavy. However, the taste wasn’t bad! I enjoyed how smooth and clean the overall flavour was in addition to the light floral notes and medium concentration of bergamot flavour. There was also a very natural sweetness which I was fond of. That said, I wouldn’t have minded if the bergamot was a little stronger. For people who really LOVE Earl Grey and drink it on a more daily basis this could be perceived as a little light handed.

Overall, not a ‘stand out’ Earl Grey but a solid choice if you’re already placing a Camellia Sinensis order and want to do all your shopping in one place. And like I pointed out, the fact it’s Organic and Fair Trade (and still reasonably priced) makes it a tea easy to get behind.

Rohini Emerald Green First Flush Darjeeling from Udyan Tea

Rohini Emerald GreenTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy: Udyan Tea

Tea Description:

Rohini has been planted with special green tea clones which have very less *tannin content in them. The teas made from these bushes taste smooth and sweet, with pronounced vegetable flavour. They aren’t bitter unlike their counterparts from the district. Rohini Emerald Green Tea is made from single leaf and a bud.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Rohini Emerald Green is a First Flush Darjeeling tea, a variety I’m particularly fond of. I’m intrigued by this one, though (more so than usual!) because the leaf is different from any I’ve seen before. It’s a fairly uniform mid-green in colour, with one or two lighter leaves and some yellow mottling. What’s surprising is that the leaves are large and curly, partially rolled but not tightly. I’ve never seen a first flush Darjeeling that looks quite like this one. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a bright yellow-green, the scent reminiscent of a green tea. After an initial hit of orchid-like floral, there’s a distinctive vegetal scent. The leaves, once unfurled, remind me a little of oak tree leaves.

To taste, this tea is also unlike any Darjeeling I’ve tried before. In some ways, it’s far more like a green tea or an oolong than anything else. The initial flavour is lightly floral, in the sweet, heady way of orchids. It’s not an intensely perfumey floral, but rather like crushing the petals of an orchid or lily flower in your hand and then translating the scent into a taste. It’s difficult to describe, because it’s like the wrong sense is being used, but that’s as close as I can get to identifying the kind of sensation the floral produces. There’s a mild “green” flavour lurking underneath the floral, but it’s more chlorophyll than vegetal – not a flavour I’ve come across very often, but it works well here, continuing the floral theme. The texture reminds me a lot of an unflavoured milk oolong, in that it’s buttery and mildly creamy. It’s not thick tasting, exactly, but it has a sort of dairy cream feel to it that’s pleasant and unusual – almost a little “flat” tasting, but with a richness at the same time. The aftertaste is a little mineral, again reminding me of a green oolong. It’s a little like wet rock; a tiny bit metallic, but also fresh and clean.

This one was an experience for me, and I really savoured every sip. I’ve not come across a Darjeeling like this before, either in terms of taste or appearance, so it really made me think about, and question, my expectations. I enjoyed the flavour, even though floral teas aren’t usually my thing. Clearly I can still surprise myself on occasion! I’d happily recommend this one to most people, whether they’re fans of Darjeeling, green, oolong or floral teas. This tea certainly offers a unique experience, and its placed Udyan Tea more firmly on my personal radar.

Goomtee China Classic First Flush Darjeeling from Udyan Tea

GoomteeChinaClassicTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black (Darjeeling)

Where to Buy: Udyan Tea

Tea Description:

Goomtee is a very well known Darjeeling heritage garden planted with pure china bushes almost a century ago. Picked from special section of the garden called Ghani between 3000-4000 sq.ft. height, this tea is for the strong hearted first flush lovers as it has a strong body with a very slight tinge of muscatel (grape flavour usually associated with second flush Darjeelings). It is a well balanced cup that leaves a stong after taste as well. With repeated steepings, the liquor becomes sweeter and midler. Perfect tea for long winding day with a good book in hand to read.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

First Flush Darjeelings are among my favourite black teas, as I’m sure I’ve intimated several times before. This one – from the Goomtee Estate – is apparently perfect for “strong hearted first flush lovers”. Well, we shall see. The dry leaf is a thing of beauty. There’s a mixture of long and shorter leaves, which have primarily been either rolled or twisted, although there are also some downy silver buds. There’s a variety of colours, from palest white/silver, through creamy green, darker grass green, to the medium brown of tree bark. The scent is fresh and mildly floral. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is golden yellow, the scent reminiscent of rose water with an undertone of freshly shelled peas.

One thing’s for sure, this tea tastes glorious! The initial sip is crisp and fresh-tasting, with a mild floral undertone. It makes me think of dew on rose petals – a clean, sweet freshness. The floral flavour develops in the mid-sip, where it’s more recognisably rose-like, with a strong perfumey aftertaste. There’s a hint of classic muscatel right at the tail end of the sip, richly grapey and a little drying. It’s not exactly astringency at this point, but nearly. I get the impression that this tea may become astringent as it cools, or if oversteeped.

It’s fair to say that I prefer the clean, fresh flavour of the initial sip to the strong, heavily perfume-like aftertaste. I dislike heavily floral tea in general, though, so that’s no surprise to me. I enjoyed my cup immensely for its flavourful nature, and it’s a great example of a first flush Darjeeling. It’s stronger than most I’ve come across, and while I typically appreciate the delicate flavours characteristic of this variety, I also enjoyed the bolder experience here. I’d certainly try another Goomtee Estate Darjeeling if the opportunity arose, and Udyan Tea is now firmly on my radar.

Gielle 1st Flush Darjeeling Black Tea from Harney & Sons

gielle_1st_flushTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Harney & Sons

Tea Description:

This beautiful estate is set off to the side, away from most other Darjeeling estates, and this discreet locale aptly suits the owners of Gielle. They do what they think is best – in particular, to use the old “Chinese” tea bushes and to make an older style First Flush Darjeeling. Our tea mentor, Bernd Wulf, helped to develop this older style back in the 1960s. It was less oxidized than the Darjeelings of that time, thus lighter and greener, yet still with enough body to handle milk and sugar. Bernd was the father of our tea supplier Marcus Wulf – a cornerstone of our Tradition of Tea that ensures you excellent tea, produced and sourced with great care over generations.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I should probably say upfront that first flush Darjeeling is one of my favourite varieties of black tea, so this one is preaching to the converted with me. The dry leaf itself is a thing of beauty – light and medium green leaves, and some downy silver-white buds. They’re a little twisted, and of about 1-2cm in length. The scent is mildly grapey with hints of stone fruit. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium golden-orange.

To taste, it’s pretty much perfection. The main flavour I can discern is dried apricot – quite rich and fruity. It lingers beautifully right until the end of the sip. There’s a very light hint of muscatel grape, which develops primarily at the end of the sip and in the aftertaste, and something that’s reminding me just a little of frangipane – a sort of nutty, almondy sweetness. It pairs beautifully with the apricot. There’s the slightest touch of what I can only describe as briskness – not bitterness or astringency, but a slight sharpness that takes this tea to a whole new level. It seems to enhance the grape notes a little, cutting through the initial rich sweetness. Certainly no bad thing!

This is a fine example of a first flush Darjeeling – clean-tasting, and beautifully light and delicate. Each one I’ve tried seems to have a slightly different character, and drinking this cup has been another pleasant experience. I’d not hesitate to recommend it to Darjeeling fans.