Premium Cha Khao Hom – Thai Rice Tea – From Siam Tee


SiamTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong, Jin Xuan with natural flavouring.

Where to Buy: Siam Tee

Tea Description:

Cha Khao Hom Thai Rice Tea Premium – 100% natural scented Jin Xuan oolong tea;Exclusive Thai tea specialty from Doi Mae Salong, North Thailand; harmonious combination of high-quality Thai Jin Xuan oolong tea and natural flavor dispensers “Nuo Mi Xiang Nen Ye” (= “sweet fragrance rice tender leaves”).

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Firstly; I need everyone to bare with me while I do this review. Truth be told I’m out of my comfort zone with this tea but it sounds so wonderfully unique that I have to try it. That means I need to learn as I go, which will hopefully be passed onto you wonderful people.

When it comes to Thai tea I think about Oolong and fruity tasting black/red tea. Well this is an Oolong, Jin Xuan as it states on the description but it’s flavoured with a herb to give it a rice flavour. This herb is fairly common throughout Asia and it is noted to being translated from Chinese to English as “sticky rice” herb. A quick search has shown me that the Chinese name for this herb is Nuo Dao Gen. As well as “sticky rice” it is also commonly translated as “Glutinous Rice”. The part of the plant that is most commonly used is the root and it is said to be very helpful with night sweats and hormonal issues. Another few searches later and I find that this root is very commonly used in Asian food and it is not known to have any side effects, so fear not if you are disliking the idea of taking a random herb.

Some of this information became familiar, I have tried a Pu Erh before which claimed to be ‘glutinous rice’ flavour. It was a while ago and I remember the rice being lost against the strong Sheng. But alas, this version is an Oolong base which frankly I find super exciting!

It’s time to open the packet and reveal this mysterious wonder. As soon as the bag is open enough for me to stick in my nose I inhale deeply. First thoughts? “Woah that is ricey”. It’s sweet and toasted but the rice scent is remarkable. A part of me wants to eat it….

In appearance it looks like some normal Jin Xuan Oolong. The pieces are an assortment of small, medium and large sizes with shiny green and dark brown colours on the leaves.

This tea comes in two different grades: Classic and Premium. I dove straight into the premium end and honestly, so far I am happy with the scent and appearance enough to agree the leaves are indeed Premium. If you want more information on this tea including a comparison on the two grades then Siam Tee has a great article on their blog here.

This is the steeping instructions as taken from the sales page:

For the preparation we recommend pouring from 3.5 to 5 grams of tea- “pearl” with 85 ° C – 90 ° C hot water and a steeping time of 2-3 minutes in a first Infusion.

That sounds good to me, I’m actually thankful this was helpful enough to guide me with steeping information.

Just pouring in the water created a beautiful rice aroma that was strong enough to fill my kitchen and living room. Wow, it’s making me salivate!

Once steeped a yellow tea liquid is produced with the aforementioned rice aroma. If someone were to blindfold me and ask me to guess what it was by scent I would say it was a bowl of rice. There is also the same sweetness and toasted notes from it’s raw form.

The first few sips are interesting…I can detect a toasted grass, milky, floral Oolong but by it’s side is a sweet yet thickly moreish rice flavour. The after taste is a lingering thick (almost stodgy) rice note that has coated the whole of my tongue. A few more sips and it has an added sour note though honestly it’s not for long. I have noticed a slight dryness however which becomes noticeable in the after taste which frankly feels even more like I’m eating rice.

Ok so as rice heavy as this tastes it still does not take much away from the Jin Xuan base which manages to hold it’s own. This I am pleased with, if you’re going to drink Jin Xuan then you should really be tasting it.

Half a cup in and the dryness has increased again to a point that I have a cotton dry tongue. Not pleasant but the lingering after taste is making up for it. It’s still consistent though in strength and flavour from those first few sips.

Coming into this tea I had little understanding of what to expect, the nearest I could imagine was something similar to Japanese GenMaicha which has toasted rice pieces in. Now post drink I can say it’s very different. GenMaicha is more toasted and bitty where as this is fresh and definitely glutinous. It was strange (to say the least) but still pleasant and even the drying quality didn’t put me off. I can honestly say that I can see myself drinking a lot of this tea in the near future. Worth a try if you are after something new, or an authentic taste of Thailand.

Happy Steeping!

Thailand Sticky Rice ‘Khao Hom’ Oolong from What-Cha

StickyRiceOolongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy: What-Cha

Tea Description:

Has a creamy texture and sticky rice aroma, imparted unto the tea during processing by heating the sticky rice plant’s leaves along with the tea leaves.

Sticky rice scented tea is a specialty of northern Thailand, although traditionally green tea is used, Jin Xuan Oolong produces just as good if not better results.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve been wanting to try a sticky rice scented tea for a while now; and when I made my most recent What-Cha order I noticed this one offered on their site so I ordered a sample size to satisfy that deep curiosity. What I didn’t expect was just how accurate or obvious the flavour of the sticky rice would be.

Even from the moment I cracked open the sample packet, the smell of fresh sticky rice was filling up my kitchen and getting me excited with how potent and dead on it was. In fact, my first few sips were so overwhelmingly close to real life sticky rice it was hard to taste or notice anything else. I ended up doing three very strong Western Style infusions before the flavour of the sticky rice started to deteriorate. 2 1/2 tsp. of leaf for a 16 oz. mug, with 85C water steeped for two minutes initially with an extra 30 seconds tacked on with each infusion after the first.

The mouthfeel of the liquor was very soft and creamy and it managed to find a way to creep into every crevice of my mouth. Even though I only needed small sips to get a good sense of the strong flavour with each infusion I found myself taking big hearty swigs just because I loved the feel and taste of the tea so much. But it wasn’t just the mouthfeel that was creamy; in addition to the super accurate flavour of good sticky rice this tastes rich and creamy with a lovely buttery quality as well! Some of the greener vegetal notes from the oolong base cut through as well, particular in the finish which provided some subtle contrast of flavour. One of my favourites about this tea, as well, is that it had a delicate taste but not a subtle flavour; and ever though it’s not particularly complex or nuanced it’s scary accurate and really tasty if sticky rice is your thing.

I actually can’t believe I haven’t heard more people talking about sticky rice scented teas; I feel like I just gained access to some sort of exclusive club! I like jasmine scented oolongs as much as the next tea drinker, but this is ten times as good as that – it’s only been a few hours since I finished that last infusion and I’m already salivating at the thought of another. My 10g sample will be gone before I know it, and I definitely intended to buy more of this once that happens.

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!

Milk Oolong Tea from Simple Loose Leaf

MilkOolongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Learn more about Simple Loose Leaf here.

Tea Description:

Upon opening the bag, you’ll be greeted with a heavy scent of fresh, sweet cream.  We crafted our Milk Oolong by blending our Green Jin Xuan with natural milk flavors for a delightful, creamier taste that’s sure to please.

Ingredients:  Green Jin Xuan, Natural Milk Flavors

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about Simple Loose Leaf’s Selection Club subscription program here.

Save 25% off when you sign up for the Selection Club.  Use the coupon code SISTERSELECTION25 when you join.  This discount is applicable only to the monthly Selection Club subscription and not the retail selection of teas.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve been spouting praises about Simple Loose Leaf for quite some time now, and the reason is simple:  every month, I open my mailbox to a package containing five different tea samplers.  I like that.  It’s what I call happy mail.  It’s happy mail because it makes me happy.  It’s not a bill.  It’s not junk mail.  It’s TEA!  What could be better than that?

Well, one thing that’s better than receiving the tea is actually brewing it and drinking it.  And this Milk Oolong from my August Selection Club box is an absolute delight to sip!

Sweet, creamy … luscious!

A Jin Xuan Oolong is the tea that is generally referred to “Milk Oolong” because of it’s naturally creamy, milky flavor.  Simple Loose Leaf has taken this one step further and added natural milk flavors to give it a very creamy, decadent flavor that goes beyond the natural flavors in the Jin Xuan.

In the tea community, there is some debate on whether or not this flavoring should actually be done.  I find that I enjoy both the pure Jin Xuan and the flavored Milk Oolong so long as the flavoring is a quality flavoring, and this tastes like it’s a good quality product.

My first two infusions (following a 15 second rinse) were combined to make my first cup.  And the first cup is very creamy and sweet.  A background note of nutty flavor and a light vegetal tone.  Later infusions were not quite as creamy – some of the creamy notes begin to lighten up as I continued to steep the leaves.  This allowed for some beautiful floral notes to emerge.  Lily?  Orchid?  Somewhere between the two.  Lovely!

A true delight – this Milk Oolong from Simple Loose Leaf’s August Box!  If you haven’t yet joined the Selection Club, well, why not?  It’s a great service from a company that provides exceptional customer service.  A win-win!

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

AliShan Jin XuanTea 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:

Oh.  My.  Goodness!  YUM!

By now, I’ve tried several different teas from Cameron Tea, and I’ve been quite delighted with the teas that I’ve tried!  But this one … this is the best thus far.  Not surprisingly, it is an AliShan Oolong.  A Jin Xuan AliShan at that.  What that means, essentially, is that this is a Milk Oolong.  And it’s one of the finest Milk Oolong teas I’ve encountered in quite some time!

So sweet and creamy and oh-so-good!

Since this is an Oolong, I approached the brewing the same as I would just about any other Oolong:  in my gaiwan.  But instead of combining the first two infusions in one cup, I combined the first five infusions in my YiXing mug that is designated for AliShan Oolong tea.

And the combination of the first five infusions is lusciously sweet and smooth.  It has a flavor that is somewhere between milk and sweet cream with hints of vanilla.  The texture isn’t quite as heavy as whole milk.  It’s probably more like the texture of a 2% milk.  Which is a nicer, creamier texture than the milk that is usually served in this house.

We get 1% milk.  I personally prefer 2% milk.  But since I’m not a big milk drinker nor do I consume a lot of cereal, I don’t balk too much at the 1% milk.  What I’m driving at here is that I like the texture of this tea better than I like the texture of the milk we buy.  Although … I’m not sure how Oolong tea would work on cornflakes.

AliShan Jin Xuan cuppedThe flavor is so sweet and delicious.  The floral notes in this cup (the first five infusions) are mingling with the creamy tones, and in this cup, the creamy notes are stronger than the floral notes.  The creaminess lingers, but it never feels overwhelming to the palate.  It is quite enjoyable.

I can also taste hints of fruit in this cup, but they are distant.  It’s actually quite a complex cuppa, but I find the creamy notes so delightfully decadent that it’s hard to focus on anything but the sweet, creamy notes!

Since I LOVED that first cup so much, I decided to go ahead and infuse those leaves a little more, and I brewed a second cup – a combination of infusions 6 – 10.

And believe it or not … the second cup was nearly as lovely as the first!  Still very creamy!  The creamy notes are more distinctly vanilla this time around … making this cup even more delicious in my opinion.  The (still) subtle floral notes of the cup seem to emphasize the vanilla.

I taste hints of a melon-like flavor in the distance, the aforementioned fruit notes that I noticed in the first cup are slightly more distinct now … but only slightly.  This tea is still more about the creamy notes than it is about either flower or fruit.  This cup is a little more astringent than the first.  I noticed barely any astringency in cup #1 and now there is a mild astringency to this cup.

If you are a fan of Milk Oolong teas … this tea should be at the very top of your MUST TRY list.  Trust me.  You’ll be thanking me after you try it.  And you’re welcome!