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Hand picked

Meishan Cing Xin High Mountain Spring Oolong Tea from Taiwan Tea Crafts

Meishan Qing XinTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy: Taiwan Tea Crafts

Tea Description:

Our Spring 2015 Cing Xin Oolong crop from Meishan comes from a well-established growing area which was one of the first to grow higher mountain teas in Chiayi County. Meishan sits between Shanlinxi up north, and Alishan further south and was one of the first high mountain tea growing areas to be developed in central Taiwan, well before Shanlinxi and Alishan. This Qing Xin Oolong has the typical green, crisp pastoral notes with hints of mountain flowers that charms the nose. The palate will immediately be pleased by the ample creamy texture and taste that evokes fresh buttered green beans with hints of sweetness.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

There must be something wrong with me. Some kind of chemical/spiritual imbalance, I’m sure. I used to drink oolongs by the gallons. It was pretty much the tea that I drank exclusively, aside from the occasional herbal or puerh. But I think something happened along my tea journey. I think I oolong’d myself out. If that is even possible. But each oolong that I have had lately has bored me, or rubbed me the wrong way. Either it’s the sign of the apocalypse, or my tastes are just changing with the seasons. I hope it’s the latter, I would like to drink down some of my tea stash before the world really ends.

Meishan Cing Xin High Mountain Spring Oolong Tea from Taiwan Tea Crafts is a mouthful to say, never mind type! I am hoping that this is the tea that will spark my interest in the tea that once held my heart. The leaves are tightly rolled, smooth and so fragrant I almost swoon. Almost. The dry leaf smells like milk and honey, jasmine blossoms and lilies. I was lazy, and not wanting to clean one of my gaiwans, or infuses, I just tossed a few pearls of oolong into the bottom of a mug. Leaves that do a lot of expanding perform so well grandpa style.

Watching the leaves unfold in my mug was nothing short of a spectacle. The aroma is promising, all the creamy, floral goodness wafts up to my nose. The deep gold liquor is thick and smooth, and the floral notes are strong with this one. There are short bursts of grassy notes, it’s got all of the flowers, stem and all. Later on in the steeps, the smooth buttery notes came out, sweeter than the steeps before. This is becoming a strong competitor in the campaign to turn me back on road to oolong! Throughout all the steeps, there was always something else to discover. I may be back on the path to oolong!

Lishan Tian Fu Oolong Tea from T-Oolong Tea

LiShanTianFuTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  T-Oolong Tea

Tea Description:

This high quality Lishan Tian Fu Oolong is handpicked, handcrafted and produced from Qingxin Oolong varietal grown in the mountain areas of Li Mountain. The aroma and taste of the tea are intensely floral, sweet, fruity and rich with honeysuckle-like flavors. The aftertaste is very sweet and long lasting, and this tea stands up very well to multiple infusions. It is very rich, smooth and delectable with almost no bitterness and astringency.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

There are few tea times more enjoyable than when I brew myself a cup of LiShan Oolong tea!  And this LiShan Tian Fu Oolong Tea from T-Oolong Tea is so amazing!

I combined five infusions in one Yixing mug, and the combination of the infusions produces a sublime flavor of sweet, exotic tasting flower with hints of fruit.  It is an intensely flavored cup.  The most prominent note is that of the floral tones, which is reminiscent of the essence I would experience from the springtime air at my gramma’s house when I was young.

You see, she had a very prolific honeysuckle vine on the rear corner of her house, right next to one of the bedroom windows.  And when the weather was warm during those later spring days, the window would be open, and the breezes from the Santa Ana winds would filter through the honeysuckle plant and then the breeze would enter the window.  That’s what I’m experiencing as I sip this tea!  I just love how tea brings these fond memories to life.

Beneath the sweet and floral honeysuckle-esque notes I taste faint vegetative notes that have a slight buttery intonation to them.  There is some creaminess to this cup, but it isn’t a strong creamy note, nor does it seem to build or intensify as I continue to sip.  It’s a subtle creamy taste and texture that melds with the vegetal tones.

Toward the end of the sip, a hint of fruit emerges … just faintly.  It is a sweet note that reminds me of a crunchy apple, but without the tartness that I usually associate with an apple.  As mentioned in the above review, I notice no bitterness, and no astringency.

And while this particular tea is not currently in stock on T-Oolong Tea’s website, I think it would be worth the effort to keep checking in occasionally to find out when this tea will be restocked.  It’s a LOVELY tea, and if you love Oolong, it’s one you should try!

Bai Mudan Organic White Tea from Samovar Tea Lounge

Bai Mudan Organic White Tea from Samovar Tea Lounge
Bai Mudan Organic White Tea from Samovar Tea Lounge

Tea Information:

Leaf Type: White

Where to Buy: Samovar Tea Lounge

Tea Description:

Hand-picked, sun dried for three days, baked, then cured. Woody hints of roasted hazelnuts, and sweet corn. Lingering notes of hot cocoa. A golden infusion to soothe monkey mind. Explore the darkest of the white teas.

Tea Type: White

Origin: Fujian Province, China.

Caffeine Level: Low

Processing Details: Hand-picked, dried under the sunlight for 1-3 days and then briefly oxidized from 30 minutes to 3 hours, varying by weather, before being baked to package.

Tasting and Aroma Specs: Smooth, sweet, woody flavor with hints of roasted walnuts, sweet corn, and hot cocoa.

Food Pairing: Any dessert, including chocolate walnut brownies and Samovar’s Honeycomb Platter.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The aroma of Bai Mudan Organic White Tea from Samovar Tea Lounge is so scrumptious that I almost don’t want to drink it, but I will. You don’t have to twist my arm either! I am not a big fan of white tea as a rule, but when I find one that I do like, I am overjoyed! I like this one a lot! Samovar spares no effort in finding the best teas to offer their consumers. I only wish there were a Samovar Tea Lounge local to me. I am happy that they offer their fine teas to us online, and if you keep reading you will find a special surprise for their online customers!

I agree that this tea would pair lovely with a dessert as mentioned in Samovar’s tea pairing suggestion, because it has such a sweet, yet earthy quality to it. I can see how it would compliment dessert beautifully. The notes of sweet corn are prominent, and the cup provides a full, but cleansing mouthfeel. I love the earthy flavor in this tea, and there is such a wonderful caramelized note within it but my taste buds keep going back to the more woodsy, nutty notes. There is also almost a mineral like quality to the tea that is deeply intriguing. A bit like a Wuyi rock mineral flavor without the oolong taste.

There is a velvety, buttery sensation on the palate as I allow it to sit in my mouth, and it causes a mouth watering effect in a slightly vegetal way. The tea finishes with a dash of sweetness that lingers on the palate but as you exhale you taste fresh hay, sunlit fields, a very slight flavor or sesame. I also think this tea would pair wonderfully with Asian food.

This tea is so mysterious, so much mystique, it romances your mouth and makes you want to just take sip after sip to uncover the next note, the next tease on your tongue. The sensation in the mouth long after the sip leaves it feeling slightly numbing, but not medicinal. It is sparkly and tingly, and kind of trippy.

And now, for a limited time, you can use coupon code sororiteasisters for 25% off any online order! The coupon is active now, and is good through May 11, 2013. This is an amazing discount offered by our friends at Samovar Tea Lounge. Thank you to Samovar for offering this special discount to our readers! The coupon is active now, and is good through May 11, 2013.

The head feel of this tea is something else! It leaves you feeling heady, dreamy, and a bit outside of yourself. This is a tea to drink before and after meditation, or when you just want to release and escape from the troubles of the world. Perhaps with a great book, or movie. This is like the champagne of tea, not to steal from the description of a darjeeling, but this is a tea you could toast to or serve at a romantic occasion, or as an aphrodisiac! It does release stress and gives you a freeing feeling.

Love it!

Hand Picked Spring Tieguanyin from Verdant Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Verdant Tea

Tea Description:

The complexity of this fresh spring harvest Tieguanyin stands up to the rich flavors of our autumn harvest, and the sweet floral notes of our last spring harvest.  Indeed, we must admit that this may be our most exquisite Tieguanyin yet.  We sometimes wonder why the farmers part with something so precious, but hope that you will join us in appreciating the new crop.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I suffer from allergies.  I actually have the symptoms year round, but when spring comes they are worse.  I don’t even have to look at a calender to know when spring is here.  I can feel it in my sinuses.  Fortunately, I’m able to keep my severe symptoms somewhat controlled using medication that I take every day, and choosing raw, locally harvested honey helps too.

Of course, none of this has to do with this tea.  I just thought I’d mention it to explain of the worst part of spring, at least for me.  What’s in this cup that sits before me is about what is best about spring:  The first harvests of the year!  Yay!

I began sipping this before I read the tasting notes on Verdant Tea’s website, and I was surprised to note the vanilla-esque flavor to this tea.  It is so strong that if I didn’t know better, I’d swear it had been flavored.  The vanilla plays to the natural creamy tones of this tea beautifully, creating a very sumptuous experience for the palate that reminds me of a rich, cream-filled pastry.

Once I get over just how amazing the vanilla notes taste in this cup, I start to explore some of the other flavors.  A exotic honey-like taste that is a little more savory than sweet – imagining the flavor of honeysuckle where the savory elements were the focus while the sweet, floral tones were off in the background.  And yes, I agree with the aforementioned tasting notes, there is a saffron-like flavor to this as well.

As I near the bottom of this, my first cup, I notice a tingly sensation on my tongue – like the cool, crisp feeling that I’d experience if I were sipping a pure peppermint tea … but without the strong minty taste.  There are hints of a mint-like flavor, but, they are quite subtle and almost hidden amongst the other notes of this tea, however the tingly sensation near the finish becomes more pronounced as I sip.  Very intriguing!

With the next cup (the results of infusions 3 and 4, combined in one cup) I notice the vanilla tones tapering somewhat.  It’s still quite creamy and sweet, however, I find the vanilla and buttery notes seem to have melded to become a sweetened cream taste rather than a distinct vanilla and butter taste.  More vegetative notes are emerging now, as well, not really grassy, and not really vegetable, but, more of an herbaceous green kind of taste.  The honeysuckle like notes have subsided, and I taste more of a distinct floral note that is more orchid than honeysuckle.

The third cup (the combined fifth and sixth infusions), the creamy tones have disappeared, allowing room for a lighter, crisper cup that tastes very spring-like to me.  The floral notes are well-defined, and I taste more fruit notes now than I noticed before.   Juicy, sweet fruit notes!  The tasting notes from Verdant Tea suggest a mango-like flavor, and I don’t know that I taste mango as much as I taste a very tropical fruit-like flavor, with hints of berry.  It is sweet and very refreshing … and it is quite unlike the first cup!  I love the flavor transitions of this Tieguanyin!

Really quite an amazing tea!

Hand-Picked Autumn 2011 Tieguanyin from Verdant Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Verdant Tea

Tea Description:

Typically, spring Tieguanyin is light, sweet and flowery, while autumn Tieguanyin is heavier, grassier and more buttery.  This goes well beyond the established flavor profiles of any oolong we have tried.  The first steepings yield a sweet leafy green taste, and peppery spicy notes.  Soon, the flavor of saffron sets in to bind everything together with its sweet, savory qualities.  Next, the saffron is enriched with a growing buttery taste that fills the whole palate, and demands our attention.  In later steepings, a juiciness develops until it is almost mouth-watering.  We can only describe it as the sensation of biting into a perfectly ripe peach.  Late steepings yield notes of kaffir lime, and interestingly, roasted marshmallow.  We loved our spring harvest Tieguanyin, but might venture to say that this crop, produced by the same family, is even more complex and rewarding.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The above flavor profile from Verdant Tea’s website is remarkably spot-on as far as what I’m experiencing with this tea.

Brewing this the way I would usually brew an Oolong, I used my gaiwan and started with short steeps (following a quick 10 second rinse, I steeped for 1 minute for the first infusion, and added 15 seconds to each subsequent infusion.  I combined the brewed tea of the first two infusions in one cup, the second cup was the combined efforts of infusions three and four … and so on.)

The first cup offered a sweet, floral taste with vegetal notes mingling throughout.  I could taste the peppery notes as mentioned in the flavor profile above.  The mouthfeel is thick and velvety – it starts out with the early infusions as a soft sensation and develops into a melted butter taste and feel, and because there is so little astringency to this cup, these buttery tones continue to develop as I sip.  The aftertaste offers more of that delightful sweetness and a slight peppery twinge that settles on the back of the palate.

The saffron notes as described were not experienced until I was nearly finished with the first cup, and then it was very slight – imparting a savory bitterness that arrives and disappears just as quickly, and then a smooth, savory sweetness takes its place.  While it does have a distinct saffron-like flavor, it is so faint that it was difficult to discern it as saffron, and it wasn’t until the second cup that I could really identify with the saffron flavor.

With the second cup, I also noticed a mild fruit note emerge, almost like an apple.  With many Oolong teas, I usually taste a peach-like flavor, but this is much more like a crisp, snappy apple, reminiscent of the Braeburn variety.

What starts out as a flavorful, juicy sensation becomes almost dry toward the finish, as I notice more astringency with the subsequent infusions.  There is also less of a peppery note as the saffron-esque flavors begin to come forward. With my third and final cup, I notice that the apple-y flavors begin to fade and instead I taste more of a tangy citrus note.  The overall cup is much smoother now as the flavors become more unified.

A truly lovely Oolong, and quite different from a typical Tie Guan Yin.  This is one that should be on your must try list!