Imperial Jinggu Yue Gang Bai White Tea from Yunnan Sourcing

ImperialJingguTea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  Yunnan Sourcing

Tea Description:

This is a special tea made from Jinggu Yang Ta Village Large Leaf varietal tea (Camellia Taliensis). The tea is picked in the late autumn, wilted slightly and then dried with warm wind tunneled through the tea until it is dry.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Jinggu Imperial Yue Guang Bai White Tea from Yunnan Sourcing is one of those teas shrouded in mystery. Moonlight white teas are not well understood in the west. Sometimes mistaken for puerh in the way that it is processed, often air dried the same way as maocha. The name frequently describing Yue Guang Bai, Moonlight White tea alludes to the air dry process. The common lore goes that this tea is only air dried at night, under a full moon. Knowing all this, my only question is: “Am I drinking werewolf tea?”

Regardless of what mythical creature this tea really is trying to be, I am really enjoying it thoroughly. The leaves look like a mix of Bai Mu Dan and Bai Hao Yin Zhen. There are smooth, fuzzy silver noodles of buds, as well as larger, flat leaves with a black backside and a silvery down covering a light golden top leaf. The smell of this dry leaf is like roaming through a wild prairie field; I smell stronger notes of hay, as well as light wildflower hints. I typically use 5 grams when I go gongfu, but 5 grams of this leaf filled up almost all of my 150ml glass gaiwan. This is some big fluffy leaf!

You can extract different flavor profiles from the leaf just by changing the temperature. I started with cool water, about 65C, the result was a sweet and floral brew. The light colored liquor had notes of melon, lilies and wildflowers. Which was nice, but I wanted to punch up the flavor a bit, so I began steeping at 90C, which produced wildly different results. What I got was a much darker brew, a rich amber. Tasting the brew I discovered a strong bread malt note as well as hay. The floral was still there, but much more subdued. It was much different than the cool water method I had used. It was like I was drinking a different tea!

I can highly recommend this white tea for anyone who loves white already, or someone who wants to start treading water of the white tea train. It’s a solid tea worth trying!

Not So Vanilla Flavored Black Tea from Tippy’s Tea

NotSoVanillaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Tippy’s Tea

Tea Description:

Decadent dark chocolate and vanilla. Extremely smooth, malty and chocolatey. Hand chopped Madagascar vanilla beans add a sweet and creamy vanilla flavour.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Mmmmmmm!  This is really good.  REALLY really good.

I’ve tried more than one or two different vanilla flavored black teas, and I’ve enjoyed most that I’ve enjoyed.  I can’t think of any vanilla flavored tea that I didn’t at least like.  Maybe not love, but I think that I liked most of them.

This one – though – this is one of those that stands out as an EXCELLENT vanilla flavored black tea.  What makes this one so different?

Well, I think it has a lot to do with the tea base.  It’s a Golden Monkey.  The combination of the natural chocolate-y notes of the Golden Monkey along with the sweet, creamy notes of the Madagascar vanilla bean works very well together.

The Golden Monkey is rich and slightly creamy tasting.  The aforementioned chocolate notes are bittersweet and this is a really pleasing contrast to the vanilla notes from the vanilla bean.

Another thing that makes this one different is that this doesn’t appear to be a flavored tea.  That is to say, it’s not been flavored with flavoring oils.  It’s been infused with the flavors naturally using vanilla beans rather than oils.  And this gives it a light, natural vanilla flavor rather than a synthetic one.  It’s kind of like the difference between a vanilla bean ice cream and a vanilla ice cream.  They taste similar, but there is a distinct difference that can be tasted.

That said, because this hasn’t been flavored with oils, the vanilla here is somewhat more subdued than you’d find in a vanilla tea that’s been flavored with oils.  If you’re looking for a really STRONG vanilla flavor, then you might want to try a different tea.  If you’re looking for a really GOOD vanilla flavor – you’ve found your tea!

Jungpana Imperial Autumn Flush (2013) from Darjeeling Tea Lovers


Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Darjeeling Tea Lovers

Tea Description:

JUNGPANA IMPERIAL is another wonderful tea in offering this season from the vintage Junpana Tea Garden.

This tea has very high “Autumnal tea flavours”. After drinking this tea, you will feel the whole mouth is full of sweetness and the orchid aroma is lingering between your teeth.

Normally for tea from JUNGPANA, you will easily smell the delicate and sharp aroma after brewing. This tea is no different. A perfect specimen for what AUTUMNAL BLACK TEA should be.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Awesome!  This Jungpana Imperial Autumn Flush from Darjeeling Tea Lovers is a seriously good tea!  I actually found myself questioning whether I’d be happy with it, because when my tea maker finished the brewing of this tea, the liquor seemed rather “light.”  And while I’ve had plenty of amazing teas with a lighter liquor like this one, I still have that response, I judge a tea based on its color and this delightful tea just goes to prove that!  Don’t pre-judge a tea … let the proof be in the tasting!

I agree with the above description, this tea does have high autumnal flavors.  I taste intriguing notes of spice that are contrasted by notes of sweetness.  Notes of fruit, earth, wood and flower are also present.  It’s a lovely, complex, nicely round cuppa!

Although the color of the liquid is light, there is a pleasing, thick texture to it.  Not “heavy” but a rich thickness that gently coats the palate with a delicious sweetness that has notes of fruit (I taste notes of grape, plum, currant and even hints of apple), flower (I don’t know if I’m tasting orchid, but, it’s a lovely floral essence) as well as notes of rustic wood and subtle earth notes that lie beneath the overtones of spice and an almost sugary sweetness.

This is a truly lovely offering from Darjeeling Tea Lovers.  If you haven’t yet tried their teas, I highly recommend doing so!  Put them at the top of your must try list!

Imperial Keemun Tea from Steepster

keemun2Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Steepster Select

Tea Description:

The Burgundy of tea, Keemun is considered by many to be the finest black tea produced in China. Grown in the Huangshan mountain range, this black tea is soft and approachable while incredibly complex: a marriage of floral, fruity, smoky, and mineral flavors.

Taster’s Review:

I received this Imperial Keemun Tea in my Steepster Select box for February and let me tell you it’s a mighty fine Keemun!  I don’t know that it’s the best of it’s kind that I’ve tried, but, I am enjoying the balance of flavor profiles that I’m experiencing with this cup.

Just as the above description suggests, there is a nice “marriage of floral, fruity, smoky and mineral flavors.”  I get each of these notes … perhaps more fruity and smoky than floral and mineral, but I taste each of these qualities.

The first note that I taste is the smoke.  That probably has something to do with the smoky fragrance of the tea, because I deeply inhale the aroma before I take a sip.  Then I notice some of the fruity tones.  Sweet and I taste something that falls somewhere between sweet, juicy berries and luscious plums.  The smoky tones give these fruits an almost “roasted” type of flavor, as if they have been fired over a charcoal pit.

With Keemun tea, I tend to find that there are two different “categories” of Keemun:  one is a strong, rich, smoky Keemun, while the other is slightly less bold and more wine-like and fruity.  This Imperial Keemun from Steepster offers a balance between the two.  It’s strong, rich and smoky, but I can also taste those wine-like fruity notes.

I also definitely taste notes of charred wood as well as the smoke and fruit.  The aforementioned floral tones are more subdued.  The mineral notes I notice mostly toward the finish.  I also taste a lovely undertone of caramel – a sweet and delicious note that tastes like a caramel made from molasses.  The finish is clean but not overly astringent.  The aftertaste is sweet and slightly smoky.

I liked this one.  Not the best Keemun I’ve ever tried, but, I’m glad I got to try it!

Grand Yunnan Imperial Black Tea from Le Palais de Thés

grand-yunnan-imperialTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Le Palais de Thés

Tea Description:

The subtle flavor of this flowery, mild tea is known as the “Mocha of teas” or “Surgeon’s tea”, as it has the power to revive without over-stimulating the nerves. A splendid leaf with plenty of golden buds.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The description above suggests that this Grand Yunnan Imperial Black Tea from Le Palais de Thés is “subtle” and “mild,” but I disagree!  I would replace the word “subtle” with “smooth” … and then replace the word “mild” with the word rich!  Because those are the words that first came to my mind when I took the first couple of sips of this tea.  It’s remarkably smooth and rich.  Not at all something I’d classify as subtle or mild.

This is very much what I’d expect from a good quality Yunnan tea:  a rich flavor with notes of malt and that freshly baked bread sort of flavor, with notes of fruit and flower in the distance.  Middle notes of spice, like a gentle pepper.  Nothing over the top or something that I’d call “spicy” by any stretch of the imagination, this has pleasant, mellow peppery notes that enliven the palate.

It is a medium to full bodied tea.  It is robust without being overly aggressive.  It offers a more “well-mannered” way of invigorating the drinker … this doesn’t give me a kick in the butt to get me going, but I can still feel it at work to offer me a sense of alertness without the over-stimulation.

A really good Yunnan tea.  A nice tea to enjoy in the later morning or early afternoon.  Nice as a latte, but, I prefer it served straight.  The mellow spice tones are very much appreciated on this cold, autumn day!