Menghai Wangshuji Shou Pu-erh in Seventh Grade 2008 from Wymm Tea

Menghai7th1Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  Wymm Tea

Tea Description:

This shou pu-erh brews with a rich and honey flavor and long-lasting jasmine rice aroma. Full tea leaves from high mountains in Menghai County, located in west of Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province, are picked to make the tea in 2008. Pu-erh tea has the potential to ferment over time, and this tea has been post-fermented for 6 years since production. Post-fermentation gives the tea vibrant flavours and richer aroma as well as deep wine colour.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Menghai Wangshuji Shou Pu-erh in Seventh Grade 2008 is the fourth of the teas that I was sent by Wymm Tea in their lovely sampler presentation package.  These samplers come beautifully wrapped in a milk-carton shaped box.  (You can see the box in this review.)

As I’ve mentioned many times:  pu-erh just isn’t my favorite type of tea.  But, after trial and error, I learned the ways to best brew pu-erh to my liking and I’ve come to appreciate it.  It still isn’t my favorite, but I can say that I enjoy pu-erh tea.

Menghai Shou Seventh Grade
This little pillow of pu-erh is one of four that came in my little ‘milk carton’ box from Wymm Tea.

When it comes to pu-erh, though, I find that I tend to prefer sheng to shou.  What’s the difference?  Well, I’m no expert on the subject of pu-erh, but what I’ve come to understand is that sheng tea is raw tea material that has been aged while shou tea is cooked tea material which seems to accelerate the aging process a bit.  Why do I prefer sheng?  Because while my experience with pu-erh is rather limited (again, I’m no expert!), my limited experience has taught me that shou pu-erh tends to be the pu-erh that sometimes has a briny or fishy flavor and the shou pu-erh tends to be the earthiest tasting (as in, it sometimes tastes of dirt).

But NOT this shou!  This is LOVELY!  This is so lovely that it has me rethinking my stance on pu-erh!

Sweet!  Mellow!  Smooth!  All those words come to mind as I sip this.  I taste no brine, no fish, no strong earthy dirty flavors.  Just wonderfully mellow flavors.  A sweet honeyed undertone with hints of burnt sugar caramel.  I taste notes of earth but not dirt.  This is more like damp, woodsy notes, evoking thoughts of a walk through the old-growth forests here in the Pacific Northwest after it rained.  (We get some rain up here.)

I also taste very subtle hints of rice.  The description of the tea suggests a jasmine rice note, I don’t know if it’s jasmine rice that I taste (I’m very familiar with jasmine rice as it’s my go-to rice in my pantry), but then again, this is only my first cup – perhaps those flavors will reveal themselves in later infusions.  For now, I find myself in awe of the beautiful honey notes.  So sweet.  So delightful.

With my second cup, those aforementioned jasmine rice notes begin to emerge.  I taste less of that honey flavor, but more of the sweet rice flavor and that’s quite pleasant.  The flavor is still very mellow and smooth but it’s deeper and stronger than the first cup.  I taste notes of burnt sugar and rice, hints of flower and a soft woodsy note. I love that there’s not even a hint of astringency or bitterness here.  Just lovely!

I enjoyed this tea immensely!  The later infusions (I got eight infusions out of this tea!) were just as mellow and smooth – but with each infusion, I found a deeper flavor.  I never really experienced any strong earthy notes – bonus! – and I enjoyed a lovely sweetness from the notes of rice and hints of molasses and honey.  A truly remarkable shou!  This is the shou I’d recommend to someone who has had some unfavorable experiences in the past with shou pu-erh, this tea will change your mind about shou!

Golden Monkey Superfine Grade – 2014 Harvest from Capital Tea Limited

GoldenMonkeyTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Capital Tea Limited

Tea Description:

Young, fine and tender prominently golden tea leaves with an intensely forward aroma. These leaves produce a rich, medium bodied tea liquor with a very smooth and sweet flavour that is full of finesse. This tea has a wonderful depth of flavour and is highly recommended.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Really nice!  This Golden Monkey has a rich, full-flavor that I want in my first cup of the day, the kind of tea that will help you get a move on!

I received a sampling of this tea from a friendly sipper on Steepster, which is an excellent community of tea drinkers.  I like to call Steepster “Facebook for tea drinkers.”  Anyway, I’m so grateful to the community because it allows me the opportunity to try some teas that maybe I wouldn’t have been able to try otherwise.

Like this Golden Monkey, for example!  To brew this tea, I poured the sampling I received in the basket of my Kati Tumbler and heated 12 ounces of tea to boiling and let the tea steep for 3 minutes.

The aroma is sweet and chocolaty with notes of smoke, earth and leather.  These notes translate to the flavor as well, because that’s exactly what I’m tasting!  Notes of earth and leather, with background notes of smoke.  There is an overtone of chocolate with a sweet undertone of caramel.  Luscious!

It’s a remarkably smooth tea – I’m getting virtually no astringency.  In the aftertaste, I experience a very slight dryness, but it is so slight that if I wasn’t focusing on it, I don’t know that I would have noticed it.  It’s not bitter.  It’s just pleasant deliciousness from start to finish.

Another great tea from this company!

Taiwan Sun Moon Lake Formosa Black Tea (Premium Grade) from Cameron Tea

FormosaBlackCameron1Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Cameron Tea

Tea Description:  

Region: Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan
Type: Black Tea
Oxidation level: Fully oxidised
Taste: Strong and refreshing flavour.
Terroir: Sun Moon Lake is located at altitude of 700m, surrounded with mountains and lakes with remarkable environment and typical climate for growing black teas. Heavy moist and stable yearly average temperature make the tea trees grow thick and rich tea leaves which produce carmine and perfectly clear liquor.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I know I’ve mentioned this more than once, but I LOVE the teas from Cameron Tea.  They are the very best that Taiwan has to offer.  And this Sun Moon Lake Formosa Black tea is no exception.

You might recall that I previously reviewed the competition grade of this tea back in July.  Since it’s been a while that I’ve tried the competition grade, when comparing the two grades, my opinions will be based off what I can recall with the help of that review and my tasting notes.

The leaves look very similar to the competition grade tea:  they are long and chocolate-y brown in color.  The leaves are whole and have been rolled into slender, curly forms.  They slowly unfurl to release their flavor.

Also similar to the competition grade:  the dry leaf had very little discernible aroma.  Mere hints of earthy tones.  The brewed tea has more fragrance, it smells warm and earthy with notes of spice.  It’s a sweeter smell, and in the aforementioned review I suggested notes of molasses.  I’m getting that with this tea as well.

FormosaBlackCameronI used my Breville One Touch to brew this tea.  Because the leaves are so large and curly, they’re difficult to measure or scoop out with the bamboo scoop into any type of measurable tool.  I don’t weigh my teas and since I don’t utilize a scale, it’s difficult to tell you how much tea I put into the basket of the tea maker, so I’ll just say that I put three pinches of tea into the basket.  Then I looked at it and it looked like it should be enough tea.  Sorry for my less than precise measuring method but I am very adamant when it comes to tools for my tea.  The less tools, the better, in my opinion, because tea is meant to be a simple pleasure and I feel like the more gadgetry used to make the tea – the less simple it becomes.

I brewed this tea at a slightly lower temperature than I would normally steep a black tea.  I guess I found myself feeling that this tea needed a little less heat – I was worried that these beautiful leaves might find boiling water to be too hot a bath for them.  So I went with 195°F and steeped the tea for 3 minutes.

The result is an absolute delight to sip.  Sweet!  It’s smooth and there is no astringency.  No bitterness.  Just smooth, sweet molasses-y goodness.  It tastes as though I thinned some molasses rather than brewed some tea!  Maybe added a couple of warm, gentle spices to accent the delicious, deep flavor of the sweet molasses with hints of caramel.

Beneath these sweet flavors, there’s a savory “earthy” note that has notes of chocolate and leather.  I infused this tea a second time and I found that the second infusion was a little less sweet and I discovered more complexity as a result.  I picked up on layers of fruit and as I continued to sip, I started to notice a dry astringency toward the tail.  This astringency is quite soft and for those of you who are sensitive to that dry feeling that the astringency delivers, I think you’ll find this tea to be quite acceptable as the astringency is barely there.

It’s a very smooth and delightful tea to drink.  This isn’t the kind of black tea I’d want as my first cup of the day because it doesn’t have that “shake me awake” kind of quality that I want in that first cup.  Instead, this is the kind of tea that you want to brew when you want to sit and reflect.  As I sit here on a chilly afternoon, I realize what an autumnal taste it has – the molasses, the spice … even the stone fruit notes … remind me of the early days of autumn when the weather becomes crisper.  When the late summer harvests deliver those delicious stone fruit to enjoy in warm cobblers and the weather is just cool enough that those warm desserts are the perfect comforting thing.

A really delightful tea.

Taiwan AliShan Jin Xuan Oolong Tea (Premium Grade) from Cameron Tea

AliShan Jin Xuan cuppedTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Cameron Tea

Tea Description:  

AliShan is one the famous oolong tea growing areas in Taiwan. Located at altitude of 1500m, the mountain has a rich soil and ideal climactic conditions. The cool climate and moist from daily mists make the plants to grow very slowly and produce tender, flavourful tea leaves and buds.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Having previously reviewed Cameron’s AliShan Jin Xuan Competition Grade Oolong tea (and absolutely loving every sip of it!) I was very happy to try the Premium Grade of the AliShan Jin Xuan from Cameron.

I wondered how different the two grades would be and since it’s been a little while since I had that tea (back in June), I wasn’t sure that my memory would be as quick to recall all the nuances of the tea.  Thank goodness I have my notes to fall back on!

I steeped this the same way I steeped the competition grade (and for the most part, this is how I steep most Oolong teas.  There are occasional exceptions, but the exceptions are quite rare!)  I used my gaiwan and started out with a 15 second rinse and then started steeping.  The first infusion was 45 seconds and I added 15 seconds onto each subsequent infusion.  Since this is an AliShan, I used my special AliShan Yi Xing mug which holds four to five infusions.  This time, it held five infusions.

So this – my first mug of this tea – is the combination of the first five infusions.

Mmm!  This is so lovely!

I’m finding this premium grade to be slightly less creamy than I remember the competition grade tasting and feeling.  The mouthfeel is a little lighter here than the competition grade, which was rather creamy and thick.  This is still creamy and thick – just not as thick as I seem to recall from the competition grade.

The creaminess doesn’t linger the same way, either.  This feels much cleaner and even a little more refreshing than the competition grade.  The palate feels cleaner and less coated by the tea when I sip this.

That is not to say that I don’t enjoy that thick, creamy texture – I do!  I loved the competition grade!  But I’m enjoying this one too and am also enjoying the differences between the two teas.

AliShan Jin XuanAs the tea cools slightly, I find that the texture and flavor thickens somewhat.  It’s still considerably lighter than the competition grade, but if you’re wanting a thicker texture from this tea, just let it cool off for a few minutes longer and you might find that you are getting more texture.

Sweet.  Hints of vanilla.  Lovely, soft floral notes.  A really beautiful tea.

Just as I experienced with the competition grade, I find that the second cup (infusions 6 – 10) is just as lovely as the first cup was.  Still sweet and creamy with subtle vanilla tones and floral notes that are emerging a little more in this cup than they were in the first.

As I make my way to mid-cup, some fruit notes develop on my palate.  At first, I thought of a fruit that is something between a sweet apple (flavor wise) and a ripe nectarine (texture wise with hints of the flavor).  But after I read through my review of the competition grade and I compared the fruit notes to a melon, I would say that comparison would suit these fruit flavors quite well too.

Another truly remarkable tea from Cameron.  I’m nearly finished with the set of Cameron teas (I think I have but one more to review!) and I have truly adored each one that I’ve tried.  This company is one that all of you tea lovers out there should check out!  If you want a top notch tea – this company has got you covered!

Top Grade Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea from Fong Mong Tea

orientalbeautyTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Fong Mong Tea

Tea Description:

Taiwan characteristic Oriental Beauty Oolong Tea, a long narrow strip like of various colors, is also called Bai Hao Oolong Tea. Bright white-tipped leaves, a symbol of high level Oriental Beauty Tea, can only be cultivated irreplaceable strong fragrance in organic ecological tea plantation. This tea, with very limited quantity, can only be produced by a senior experienced tea master at one harvest each year.

Learn more about this tea here.


Taster’s Review:

This is not the first time that I’ve sampled and reviewed Fong Mong Tea’s Top Grade Oriental Beauty Oolong, but with every new year comes a new harvest and this is a top notch Oriental Beauty!  It’s definitely worthy of another examination because it’s one of the best Oriental Beauty Oolong teas that I’ve encountered.

To brew this tea, I reached for my gaiwan.  I measured 1 bamboo scoop of leaves into the bowl of the gaiwan and then I heated the water to 180°F.  After a 15 second rinse, I steeped the leaves for 45 seconds and strained the tea into a small teacup.  The teacup holds 2 infusions, so I went ahead and infused the leaves a second time, adding 15 seconds onto the steep time (1 minute) and then combined the two infusions into the cup before I started sipping.

The first cup was delightfully sweet with notes of fruit that are peach-like.  There is a honey-like sweetness to the cup as well.  The liquid is very smooth and has a soft, rich mouthfeel.  It has a barely there astringency.  By the time I reach mid-cup, I start to pick up on a light floral tone and subtle woodsy tones.

I noticed the flavors became more developed with the second cup (infusions 3 and 4).  The fruit and honey notes remain the strongest flavors of the cup and these flavors have intensified.  The peach notes are like a soft, ripe peach.  I can almost feel the soft, luscious texture of the peach as I sip this tea.

There is a little more astringency with this cup than in the first cup, but it is still quite a light, barely noticeable astringency.  The floral notes and woodsy tones I started to notice at mid-cup are a little stronger with this cup.  A pleasantly sweet and beautiful cup to sip.

Later infusions offered an even stronger sweetness.  In the third cup, I noticed the floral notes emerging a little more and I found these to be sweet and as they melded with the honey notes and the sweet peach notes it intensified the sweetness of the overall cup.  I also started to pick up on some earthier qualities.

A very intriguing tea, I highly recommend this one to all Oolong enthusiasts!