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Imperial Tea Garden

Blue Spring Oolong Tea from Imperial Tea Garden

Blue_Spring_OolongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Imperial Tea Garden

Tea Description:

In rural China, Blue Spring Oolong is commonly referred to as the compassionate oolong tea.  The name stems from ancient folklore of Guan Yin the Iron Goddess of Mercy, of which this now famous Ti Kuan Yin style tea was named.  Legend has it that drought stricken villagers offered a passing stranger some water.  With the compassionate offering, Guan Yin revealed her true identity and spilled the water into the dry earth and a blue spring appeared miraculously.  In honor of their benevolent Bodhisattva, the Fujian villagers began adding blue mallow flowers to represent the crystal blue spring water.

Blue Spring Oolong’s smooth and mellow character will enhance any tea party. The compassionate nature of this tea make it suitable for gathering with old friends and making new ones.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is a lovely little Oolong blend.  The dry leaf is BEAUTIFUL with the purple blossoms that are tossed along with the Oolong tea leaves.

Even though I don’t always infuse my Oolong blends in my gaiwan, I decided to go with a gaiwan brewing for this particular blend because the blend looked more like an Oolong tea than flowers to me.  I don’t know if that’s a suitable reason for my choice, but that’s the excuse I’m going with.  That and I like using my gaiwan.  I like to watch the tightly wound pellets of Oolong tea dance around in the hot water as they unfurl and release their flavor.

My first cup was the combination of infusions one and two following a 15 second rinse.  This cup was delicate with a flavor that was predominately floral with lingering honey-esque notes.  In the distance, I could taste some hints of roasted nuts, but, it was a very distant flavor in this cup.  I suspected that I’d become more acquainted with these flavors in later infusions.

Indeed!  The second cup had stronger notes of that sweet, nutty flavor, but even stronger than the nutty flavors were the intensified floral notes.  The honey-like notes were showing signs of softening.  This cup was really all about the flower!  Slightly sharp, but not unpleasant at all, it had a very beautiful character to it, something that evoked thoughts of springtime in Southern California, when the jacaranda trees are in full bloom.

The second cup was where I started noticing the creaminess emerge, and I like the way the creamy notes melded with the nutty flavors to offer a sweet, creamy taste that was slightly nutty and slightly toasted.  The floral notes seemed to give this dimension an almost vanilla-like flavor.

By the third cup (infusions 5 and 6), I noticed the unification of the nutty flavors with the honey and floral tones.  It became a very fluid, seamless type of flavor, very silky and luxurious to drink.

This tea offered a very enjoyable Oolong experience – it’s one I’d be more than happy to experience again … and again!

Jun Chiyabari Nepalese Black Tea from Imperial Tea Garden

Jun_Chiyabari

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Imperial Tea Garden

Tea Description:

Jun Chiyabari is a luxury black tea (Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe) with ethereal notes of muscatel that whispers true himalayan beauty.  Grown on mountainside elavations reaching 7000 feet above sea level in the Hile Hills Dhankuta district of Nepal.  The exceptionally clean air, rich mountain soil and pure sunshine help Jun Chiyabari continually exceed the quality of many darjeeling teas.   It is no surprise that Jun Chiyabari black tea ranks so high as a source for powerful antioxidants.  With polyphenol levels of 10.7% by dry weight, this is truly a gourmet black tea for the connoisseur and those individuals that desire a healthy black tea alternative.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Having tried a couple of Jun Chiyabari teas, I was only too happy to be in possession of another sampling of this Nepalese black tea.  Imperial Tea Garden has the “touch” when it comes to selecting top notch teas, and this offering is an example of what I mean.

This is a delightful “Darjeeling-esque” black tea is very much like a second flush Darjeeling, with notes of muscatel, its compelling fruit notes, hints of earth and wood, and a dry finish that is reminiscent of wine.  It has a fair amount of astringency that leaves the palate feeling clean after each sip.  The aftertaste is sweet and grape-y!

This tea also has a slightly heavier texture to it than a typical Darjeeling, which I would ordinarily classify as a light or even sparkling sort of texture.  This has a texture that is more like a Ceylon.

A really charming cup of hot tea in the afternoon, or if you are looking for iced refreshment, this tea tastes great chilled and served with a sprig of mint!

Kenya Silverback White Tea from Imperial Tea Garden

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  Imperial Tea Garden

Tea Description:

First planted with tea in 1903, the majority of Kenya’s tea gardens are clustered on the slopes of the Great Rift Valley which produces 22% of the worlds tea exports. Unlike most of the tea produced in the Nandi region, Kenya Silverback is one of the rarest teas in the world with only 600 kgs produced annually.  The tea is only made from the choicest white tips harvested from select plants 5600 ft – 6500 ft above sea level.  The fresh leaf is hand plucked, hand rolled and naturally dried resulting in a white tea with a lot of character.  The cup opens with notes of honey, roasted nuts and Madagascar vanilla that lead the way to a long smooth finish.  A lot of mouth feel for most white tea connoisseurs.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I drink a lot of tea.  I’m sure that comes as no surprise to those who read this blog regularly.  Every day, I drink at least one type of black tea and one type of green tea, and I try to find time for Oolong daily too.  White teas, I don’t drink as often as I drink other tea types, because while I do adore white teas, I find myself tiring of them faster than I do other types of tea.  I like them, but, I just prefer green, black and Oolongs.

But I don’t think I could ever grow tired of this Kenya Silverback White Tea from Imperial Tea Garden. The aroma is gentle and sweet, and the mouthfeel is velvet-y smooth.

And the flavor!  It’s amazing!  So many nuanced layers of flavor within each sip!  The above description suggests notes of honey, nuts and vanilla, and I taste those.  They sit right at the forefront of the sip, tantalizing the palate with sweet, creamy, toasty flavor.

But then, off in the distance, I notice the distinct flavor of freshly cut hay.  If you’ve ever been out in a hayfield just after the hay has been cut, you know what I’m talking about here:  I taste the air of the hayfield just after harvest.  It is a light, airy kind of taste with distinct hay-like notes.  Slightly vegetative and warm, sun-ripened notes.  I taste crispness and even hints of flower.

This white tea is truly remarkable!  Sweet, but not too sweet.  Juicy and refreshing and absolutely delightful.  I love it, and highly recommend it to all tea enthusiasts out there.

Organic Kukicha from Imperial Tea Garden

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Imperial Tea Garden

Tea Description:

Kukicha is a traditional beverage in Japan that is made from the roasted stems and leaves of the tea plant (Camellia Sinensis).  Stems and leaves are harvested in late fall from carefully selected aged plants and dry roasted in giant cast iron caldrons.  This process delivers a rich roasted flavor and aroma.   Our Kukicha is certified organic and is much lower in caffeine than tea leaves and buds because it is comprised of mainly twigs and stems.  Kukicha is also perfect for blending with any of our black, green or oolong teas for an interesting twist. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is a delicious Kukicha, rich with roasty-toasty flavor!

I’ve had many different types of Kukicha, ranging from green Kukicha, light roasted Kukicha and even dark roasted Kukicha, along with several other roasted grades that fell somewhere between the two extremes.  But, I think that my favorite are the darker roasted Kukicha like this one.  I just love its sweet, toasted flavor – it is so warm and comforting.

The flavor is sweet and nutty, with a lovely smoked tone in the distance.  It doesn’t taste overly smoky, but the smoked notes add a pleasing dimension to the cup.  The deep roasted flavor reminds me a bit of coffee, but without the coffee bitterness.

This Kukicha has a very soothing quality as well, I can feel it calm and relax me as I sip it.  Overall, a very enjoyable cup.

Hunan Red Oolong from Imperial Tea Garden

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Imperial Tea Garden

Tea Description:

Hunan Red Oolong is a full leaf oolong tea from the Hunan Provence of China that boasts bold toasty notes with full bodied character ending with a light smooth finish.  The infusion is red as one would expect from a classic luxury Hunan Red Oolong tea. Steeped in legend and lore, this soft and subtle Hunan Red Oolong provides a unique tea drinking experience that everyone can enjoy.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is a really unique Oolong, quite unlike any I’ve tried before.  That is what I think I love most about Oolong … to take a line from Forrest Gump, they’re like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get!  Of course, if you’ve tried one type of Oolong, you’re probably safe to bet that another Oolong of the same type (say, Tie Guan Yin, for example) will taste very similar.  But, I’ve discovered that even within the same type of Oolong, there are subtle differences from one tea company to another.  (Which actually has more to do with the estates and how it is harvested more than the tea company that sells it).

But, let’s get back to this Hunan Red Oolong.  I taste a fruity character, and typically with an Oolong, one would compare it to a peach-like flavor, and while I do detect notes of peach, what it reminds me more of is plum, and perhaps a peach that had been macerated in a fine wine or perhaps a brandy.  It is sweet and deep in flavor.  Very nice.

There is an earthiness to this as well, in fact, I was about to suggest that this might be something of a love-child created by a Pu-erh and an Oolong, but, the earthiness is not quite that well-defined here.  It is as if the Pu-erh would be more of a distant relative rather than a parent.  But it does have that smoothness that I associate with a Pu-erh.  The earthiness melds nicely with the toasted nutty flavor and light, malty notes that provides the foreground of flavor to this tea.

While I consider this to be a tea that is full of flavor, it does have its nuances to it.  It is a tea with lots of flavor but it is more subtle in its approach to deliver those flavors to the palate.  It has a nice, soft mouthfeel, and a moderate astringency.  Overall a sweet, delicious Oolong – quite lovely!