Himalayan Musky Thunder from Terroir Tea Merchant. . . . .

Not long ago I conducted an Oolong-a-Thon and did back-to-back tastings of all the oolong teas in my collection.  Somehow I missed this Himalayan Musky Thunder from Terroir Tea Merchant.  That’s because it didn’t look like an oolong at first glance.  Apparently, Himalayan Musky Thunder is a “dark oolong,” meaning it is more heavily oxidized than its greener oolong cousins.  Like other oolongs, I brewed this tea with cooler water (190 F) and steeped it a few times.  

Upon brewing, the scent and taste of dark chocolate were very forward.  When you taste a chocolate bar with a high cocoa percentage, there’s an almost-floral note to the earthy chocolate flavor, and that note comes through in this tea as well.  There’s a rich muscatel, red grape flavor right after the chocolate tones, making this tea winner for any dark chocolate, red wine drinkers out there.  

If the package didn’t inform me that this dark tea was actually an oolong and not a black tea, the mouthfeel would have given it away.  There’s a silky smoothness to how this tea falls on your tongue that is reminiscent of milk oolong teas, without any of the mouth-puckering sharpness you find in black teas. 

Upon further steeping, the sweet chocolate tones evolve into earthier notes, like a vegetable garden after a fresh rain.  The tannin richness of red wine and unsweetened cocoa linger as an aftertaste.  

All the tasting aside, I love the name for this tea, Himalayan Musky Thunder, and I think it is aptly chosen.  This is one of the boldest oolongs I’ve tasted: deep and romantic like the smell of the air and earth after a thunderstorm.  The next time you find yourself caught in the rain, wait out the storm with a cup of this tea and a bar of dark chocolate.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Terroir Tea Merchant

With qualities of a black tea and no astringency, this strip style dark oolong is surprisingly light and full of flavour.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Himalayan Shangri-la from Teabox

If I had to choose between dark oolong or green oolong, for me it would be green every time. I find them characterful and unique, with more variation in flavour than I’ve typically found (at least so far…) among their roasted counterparts. And that’s coming from a habitual black tea drinker.

Himalayan Shangri-la is a Nepalese Oolong from 2015. It’s a first flush, or spring, oolong comprising highly graded leaves taken from a single estate.

The leaf here is pretty impressive – they’re long and twisty, with a high predominance of downy buds, and vary from a dark khaki to the palest green-silver. The scent is lightly vegetal and just a touch floral, in the way of orchids.

I followed the recommended parameters, and gave 1 tsp of leaf 4 minutes in water cooled to around 85 degrees. The resulting liquor is a pale yellow-green, the scent mineral. The initial flavour is also mineral, with a hint of petrichor and wet rock. There’s a hint of heady floral in the mid-sip, reminiscent of orchid and jasmine. Heavily scented, and very reminiscent of perfume, but thankfully not in the cloying, throat-coating way some floral tea possess. The end of the sip features some cleaner, fresher notes. Tomato flesh, wet grass, and the return of the petrichor.

I really enjoyed this one. It’s a flavourful green oolong, and the tomato note in particularly was a highlight as it’s not something I’ve come across in an oolong before. If you’re looking for a high quality oolong that’s also accessible in flavour terms (there’s nothing to deter the newcomer here…) then this would be a good place to start. If you already love oolong, this one might still have a few surprises…

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Teabox

If there is one oolong that can compete in the same league as the Taiwanese and the Chinese kind it has to be this Nepalese offering. The rigors of high elevation, mineral-rich terrain, and cool air allow the plants to grow slowly resulting in an immensely flavorful tea. Also interesting is the fact that it’s from the country’s small-scale producers’ cooperative which produces small batches of orthodox teas.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Himalayan Golden Black Tea from Nepali Tea Traders

Himalayan_GoldenTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

This tea is available from Amoda Tea.

Tea Description:

This award-winning tea is incredible and unique! Its distinct flavour begins with the soil this tea bush is grown in. In Sandakphu, the soil is golden red and absorbs up the monsoon rains. A mild and silky smooth black tea with flavours of stone fruits and honey.There’s an interesting balance here that is reminiscent of both a Chinese Yunnan and a fine Indian Darjeeling. A Must Try!

Learn more about subscribing to Amoda Tea here.

25% of profits from our Nepal teas will be donated to the ‘Nepali Tea’ Restoration Fund for earthquake relief.  Learn more here.

Taster’s Review:

I was really excited when I learned that Amoda Tea would be profiling Nepali Tea Traders with their May subscription box.  And I’m thrilled to be trying this Himalayan Gold Tea!

As I’m sure that most of you are aware, in April of this year, Nepal was devastated by a major earthquake and a second major earthquake hit them again this month.  Nepali Tea has created a ‘restoration fund’ to aid in the earthquake relief efforts and so I’m very pleased at the timeliness of this box!  This is a tremendous opportunity for you to get some fantastic teas and also help out with the restoration efforts!

And I’ve always been pretty impressed with the teas that I’ve tried that were produced in Nepal.  I can’t think of any teas from Nepal that I’ve not enjoyed, and Nepali Tea Traders are some of the best of the best that Nepal has to offer!

And of the teas that I’ve tried from Nepali Tea Traders, I think that this Himalayan Gold stands out.  The above description suggests that it’s a mild tea, but I don’t know if I agree with that assessment.  I do agree that it’s similar to a Yunnan.  I get those spice notes that I might experience in a Yunnan, although I think that the spice notes here are even more profound than in the average Yunnan black tea.

This isn’t very similar to a Darjeeling in my opinion though, mostly because when I think of “Darjeeling” I think of a lighter, crisper type of black tea that is sometimes more similar to a green tea than a black tea.  I think of the muscatel notes of a second flush when I think Darjeeling.  This might be similar to a first flush Darjeeling, perhaps from the estate of Arya.  It has a more pronounced flavor, with notes of raisin and stone fruit.  I am even picking up on some faint notes of smoke in the distance.

This is more robust than mild, in my opinion.  It’s not as robust as say, a sturdy Assam tea, although I am noticing some similarities to an Assam and this Himalayan Gold.  For example, I taste hints of malty undertones and a slight caramel-y note that I’d enjoy with a good Assam.

Overall, I taste a lot of similar notes to many different teas from different regions – all in this one very delightful tea from Nepal.  I like that I’m getting so many things to enjoy with one tea.  This one deserves high praise – it’s a really, really good tea.

Annapurna Amber Oolong Tea from Nepali Tea Traders

Annapura_Amber_OolongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong Where to Buy: Nepali Tea Traders

Tea Description:

A stunning Himalayan massif, Annapurna is Sanskrit for “Goddess of the Harvests.” One leaf and a bud, plus a mature leaf are plucked. The tea is oxidized slowly, in cold air, then double fired. An exceptional Darjeeling-sytle oolong, Annapurna Oolong is infused with apricot and muscat grape flavors. Its liquor is full bodied, revealing a beautiful red-amber hue distinctive to our teas. Subtle notes of malt and caramel linger in the finish.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

My heart goes out to the people of Nepal. The recent earthquakes in that timeless, beautiful country is astronomically devastating. I can’t imagine what I would do if it was safer to sleep on the sidewalk than in my own home. I have always been entranced with the Himalayas and every single tea that I have had from that region is flawless. This Annapurna Amber oolong is no exception.

I tend to steer clear of darker oolongs, at once point I even avoided them like the plague. This one is more along the lines of Darjeeling when it comes to taste. None of that burnt ash taste in my mouth. I had to double check may gaiwan, I thought I was drinking a high quality dian hong! I get the same mouthfeel on this tea as I do for that classic Chinese red. Notes of brown sugar coat the tongue and insanely delicious notes of sweet potato fries and cocoa follow around each sip. The aroma of apricots and roasted peaches waft up into my nose as I steep the tea. This true amber liquid is quite exquisite, I am surprised at how deep and clear it is. An excellent and unexpected darker oolong that I would recommend to any Darjeeling or even Chinese red lover!

On a side note, I saw this company’s tea at my local Whole Foods! I can now buy this tea as well as a selection of sachets in the same trip as my late-night ice cream runs! I like that grocery stores near me are really upping their tea game. I didn’t know that this was a local company until I found a small selection of their teas on the shelf. Sweet!

Editor Note:  To assist with the efforts to restore Nepal in the aftermath of the earthquakes, Nepali Tea Traders recently launched their Nepali Tea Restoration Fund.  Here are more details:

Many of you have inquired about what can be done to help. As you likely know, funds are needed for this urgent and critical relief effort, and for massive rebuilding.  We have been touched by the expressed support and concerns, and in response, we have decided to launch the Nepali Tea Restoration Fund.  In order to seed this fund, Nepali Tea Traders will donate the greater of (1) all profits for the remainder of the year and (2) 20 percent of sales.  We hope that you will join us by contributing to rebuilding this beautiful country for these wonderful and gracious people.

Himalayan Masala Spiced Black Tea Blend from Nepali Tea Traders

NepaliChaiTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Nepali Tea Traders

Tea Description:  

An authentic medley of black tea lightly spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves and other spices traditional in Nepal.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is a different chai!  Usually, when I think of a chai, I think of a very strong black tea base with spices that are equally as strong to create a robust, full-flavored cuppa that is ideal as a latte.  This isn’t that chai.

That’s not to say that I dislike it.  On the contrary, I’m actually quite enjoying this Himalayan Masala Spiced Tea from Nepali Tea Traders!  It’s different, sure, but, I like the warm, cozy flavor of this tea.  It’s a lovely tea to enjoy on a chilly afternoon – like today!

The black tea base is lighter than I’m used to in a chai – but it’s smooth and crisp.  I’d categorize this as a medium-bodied tea, it’s a little crisper, and a little lighter than an Assam or a Nilgiri which are the teas most often used as a base for a chai.  This base is more reminiscent of a Darjeeling, but perhaps a little more substantial.  It has some lovely fruit notes to it that meld beautifully with the warm spices.

The spices here are consistent with the body of the tea – that is to say that the spices aren’t overpowering the tea base.  Instead, since this is a slightly lighter bodied tea, the spices are not as strong.  I get gentle notes of cardamom, ginger, cloves and cinnamon.  It’s a cozy, comforting combination of flavors that is reminiscent of a spice cookie.

I didn’t go latte with this blend because I felt that it would overwhelm the lighter character of the cup.  And because it is a little lighter, if you’re one who automatically adds sweetener to your tea before tasting, I’d suggest tasting this one first.  It has a gentle sweetness to it and it’s really good without anything added.

A really lovely chai – this is one I’d recommend to those who tend to shy away from chai blends because they find them to be too spicy.  This one might be more to your liking – it’s a warmly spiced blend, but not what I’d call spicy.  It’s quite delightful.