Tangerine Dream Oolong Tea from M&K’s Tea Company

TangerineDreamTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  M&K’s Tea Company on Etsy

Tea Description:

Chinese tangerine peel and California orange peel surround Phoenix Dan Cong (Mi Lan Xiang & Yu Lan Xiang) loose leaf oolong teas lightly coated with orange blossom flower extract and tangerine oil. This tea is part of M&K’s Original 20 Blends.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Nice!  This Tangerine Dream Oolong Tea from M&K’s Tea Company has a really lovely tangerine flavor to it.  I like how the tangerine complements the Phoenix Dan Cong Oolong tea.

To brew this, I decided to go ahead and use my Kati Tumbler instead of my gaiwan, mostly because after examining the sampler package, it appeared to be just the right amount of leaf for my tumbler.  So I poured the sampler pouch into the basket of my Kati and added 12 ounces of 180°F water.  I let it steep for 3 minutes (following a 15 second rinse).

I really like this.  The tangerine flavor is not overwhelming.  I like that I taste the lovely Oolong tea above the tangerine, but the tangerine is an obvious flavor.  It definitely tastes like tangerine.  The background suggests flavors of sweet potato and honey.  The texture is silky.

And of course, it IS an Oolong so you know I’ve got to resteep it, right?  When I resteeped the leaves, I added 30 seconds brew time to it.

The second cup is flavorful, although some of the tangerine notes have waned.  I’m still picking up on faint tangerine flavors but this cup is much more about the Oolong than the tangerine.  Which is alright because this is a mighty fine Oolong tea!

The tangerine notes are most noticeable in the aftertaste now, where I’m picking up on a lightly sweet, citrus note.  This cup is offering a stronger honey taste, although it’s a little less ‘silky’ in texture.  The first cup was definitely smoother as I detected no astringency with the first cup, and now I’m getting just a wee bit.  Still not a lot of astringency, but I’m noticing a little bit of dryness to this cup.

The flavors are a lot more mellow with this infusion.  The sweet potato notes are not as apparent as they were in the previous cup.  I’m tasting distant woodsy notes now.   This is a different tea than the first cup, but it’s still really enjoyable and definitely worth the effort of the resteep.

Organic Ancient Phoenix Pu-erh Tea from Butiki Teas

da631ba0fdbc3728ba63bc2414a236b6Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  Butiki Teas

Tea Description:

Our Organic Ancient Phoenix Puerh originates from a sustainable farm on Wuliang Mountain in China and is handpicked by the Yi tribe of Yunnan. This Shou (ripe) puerh was harvested in 2011 from organic ancient trees. The tea is pressed into cakes using only skilled hands and a unique fragrant wood. Organic Ancient Phoenix Puerh is smooth and rich with raw cocoa, oak, and sweet tobacco notes. This high quality tea can handle a substantial amount of infusions.

Read more about this tea on Steepster.

Taster’s Review:

A few weeks ago, Butiki Teas announced on Steepster that it was closing permanently very soon.  I was very sad about this announcement because Butiki Teas is one of my favorite purveyors.  So, I started sorting through my stash to see if I had any teas on hand from Butiki that I had not yet reviewed so that I could offer a goodbye to one of my favorite tea companies here on SororiTea Sisters – and this is the tea that I found.  So, yeah, this tea is no longer available from Butiki Teas, but this review is less about the tea for me and more about offering a heartfelt farewell to a wonderful tea company.

And this Ancient Phoenix Pu-erh is absolutely lovely.  It doesn’t surprise me, because I can’t say that I’ve had anything from Butiki that I wasn’t impressed with!  (Which is why I’m sad to see them go!)

These tiny Pu-erh cakes are about the size (in diameter) of a quarter although they’re a bit thicker than a coin.  It makes portioning rather simple, I just dropped one of the “coins” into my gaiwan and covered it with hot water (190°F) for 15 seconds to awaken the leaves.  Then I strained and discarded the liquid.  I poured the water over the coin – which is already starting to break apart – and infused it for a minute.  Then I poured the tea into my teacup and enjoyed.  Pu-erh offers multiple infusions and this was just the first of many cups that I’d enjoy this evening.

My first cup is sweet.  It’s almost a sugary sweetness.  There are notes of earth to the cup as well, but the sweetness is stronger than the earthy qualities.  (I like that in a pu-erh!)  It’s a very soft tasting tea, this first cup.  Much softer than I’m used to from a pu-erh.  There are light spice notes.

The second cup was also steeped for 1 minute.  Usually, I add 15 seconds onto the steep time but that wasn’t needed here.  This has a much deeper flavor.  Some of the earthy notes have emerged now.  I’m still getting those spice notes I mentioned with the first cup, as well as the sweetness.  I taste notes of leather and cacao and wood.  This is a very complex cup.  Very smooth.  No astringency.  No bitterness.

The third cup – well, the third cup and I didn’t really agree.  I steeped it for a full minute again and I found it to be a little reminiscent of a thick cup of coffee.  Not a good coffee either.  Kind of like a tar-like coffee you might find in one of those 24-hour truck stop diners that don’t get a lot of traffic so the coffee’s been sitting there for the last six or seven hours.  I found it interesting that at least one of the tasters of this tea on Steepster experienced a less than favorable third infusion as well.  Weird.

So, I tossed that cup and went for infusion #4.  This time, rather than setting a timer, I just watched the color and when the color was dark I poured it.  I would estimate that the fourth infusion was about 20 seconds.  Much better than infusion #3, this is earthy, kind of mushroom-y, with notes of leather and cacao.  I am picking up an undertone of molasses-like sweetness.  A very smooth, mellow and deeply flavored cup.

I kept on steeping.  I found that by the fifth cup, this had become a very pleasant tea.  This is a tea that you can’t really set a timer – you just need to watch it.  When the color becomes dark, it’s time to pour and enjoy.  Sweet with notes of spice.  Cacao!  The earthy notes are starting to become less prominent and allowing the sweeter characteristics to come forward.

As I sip this tea, I raise my cup to the greatness that is Butiki Teas.  I recommend to all of you – if you haven’t yet tried any of this company’s teas, shop now before you lose that opportunity.  I will miss you, Butiki Teas!

Feng Huang Dan Cong Special Oolong Tea from Palais Des Thés

FengHuangDanCongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Le Palais des Thés

Tea Description:

Feng Huang Dan Cong “Special” (Special Phoenix tea) comes from Guangdong province (Chao Zhou district) in China.  The leaves, which are only fermented briefly, are generally very long (5 to 6 cm), and the liquor evokes fruity, floral and spicy notes.

This superior quality tea grows at a high altitude (1,500 metres), and pluckings are often reserved in advance by wealthy connoisseurs.

An exceptional tea with intense fruity, floral and spicy notes. Very rich and incredibly long in the mouth.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

As I prepared this tea, I was impressed with how fragrant it is.  The strong aroma of spiced fruit with notes of flower filled the kitchen.  My mouth started watering because my taste buds were anticipating the luscious flavor of a Phoenix Oolong!  Yes!

To prepare this “Special” Feng Huang Dan Cong, I used my gaiwan and measured a bamboo scoop of tea into the bowl of the vessel.  I then added enough water to cover the leaves (heated to 180°F) and let the tea “rinse” for 15 seconds.  I strained off the liquid and discarded it, and then I steeped the rinsed leaves for 45 seconds.  With each subsequent infusion, I add 15 seconds.  I combine the first and second infusions to make my first cup.  My second cup is infusion three and four.  And so on . . .

When I brew tea this way (gong fu), I find that my first cup is usually the softest in flavor because the leaves haven’t fully opened yet.  But this first cup is quite strong in flavor!  Sweet!  Delicious!  Fruity, floral with intriguing spicy notes.  It’s so warm and beautiful – a perfect tea for this chilly autumn day.

The sip starts with a note of sweetness that isn’t immediately recognized, but after a moment or two my palate decides it tastes like honey.  I notice fruit notes – stone fruits, like a cross between nectarine and plum – mingling with the honey flavor.  Floral notes begin to weave their way in and out just before mid-sip.  There is a delicate undertone of spice throughout the sip and by the time I reach the tail, the spice comes through for a strong finish.

The second cup is much smoother than the first.   It’s stronger in flavor, but the flavors seem to be more mellowed out now.  They are less focused, as if they’ve been softened around the edges.  The honeyed notes meld harmoniously with the fruit and flower notes and the spice is still strongest at the tail.

Later infusions continued to mellow.  The flavor still strong, I kept noticing a more unified flavor where the fruit and the flower became more of a seamless note, and the spice progressed softly and came on strong at the end.  The honeyed notes became less distinct as they seemed to become part of the floral, fruity flavors rather than it’s own individual flavor.

This is a really beautiful tea that was a real treat to explore!  I highly recommend it!

Jasmine Phoenix Pearls from Adagio Teas

jasminephoenixpearlsTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Adagio Teas

Product Description:

Jasmine Phoenix Pearls are perfumy, hand-rolled jewels of tea from Fuding, in Fujian province, China. Any fan of jasmine tea should try this specially crafted wonder. When added to hot water, Jasmine Phoenix Pearls majestically unfurl, releasing their delicate scent and flavor. Also known as ‘Jasmine Dragon Pearls’, their liquor is sweet and almost sugary. Very soft, airy mouthfeel. The delicate quality of the flavor is due in part to the leaves used to produce this tea: two tender, tiny new leaves and one plump unopened leaf bud. Younger leaves will yield softer flavor. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is a little bit like my revisiting a tea, because I did previously review Jasmine Pearls from Adagio.  However, since these are loose pearls, and my review was of Adagio’s sacheted Jasmine Pearls – which were part of Adagio Teas’ lovely Artisan Comfort gift box – I feel like I can get away with revisiting this one.

And as you are probably aware by now (assuming that you’ve been reading my blog regularly!), I adore Jasmine Pearls!

I brewed these pearls in my gaiwan and I combined the first five infusions in my designated especially for Jasmine Tea Yixing Mug.  And what a lovely experience these Jasmine Phoenix Pearls from Adagio offer!  The jasmine notes are soft and sweet and exotic.  The green tea has a fresh, subtle vegetal tone that marries beautifully with the flowery essence that has been imparted onto the tender tea leaves by the jasmine flower.

And the fragrance is heavenly!  Every time I lift the lid of my Yixing mug and raise it to my lips, my nose is enchanted by the aroma of jasmine and green tea.  It’s so wonderfully perfumed without coming across as something you’d find in a bottle of perfume.  It doesn’t come across as something that belongs at a department store cologne counter.  It is light, airy … almost like a sweet breeze that has been delicately scented with the flower as it passed through the vines of a jasmine plant.  So beautiful!

The sip begins with the sweet notes of jasmine that wash over the palate, and as my taste buds experience the soft floral notes, they start to also pick up on the notes of lush green tea.  Not really grassy, and there isn’t a heavy vegetative flavor.  Instead it just has a soft “green” sort of flavor.  It has a soft, silky texture and there’s a hint of buttery flavor to it.  The flavor remains smooth through to the finish, and there’s very little notable astringency.  The aftertaste is sweet with floral tones.

A really good Jasmine!

Guang Dong Phoenix Dan Cong Oolong Tea from Teavivre

GuangDongPhoenixDanCongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Teavivre

Tea Description:

Phoenix Dan Cong is a famous Tie Guan Yin from Guangdong Province. The tea has a high aroma with a different taste between the first sip and aftertaste. Along with the fragrance of sweet potato, an aroma of litchi will also be felt from the liquid. Be aware of the infusion of this tea. If you use gai wan, remember to quickly pour the liquid into your pitcher, instead of a long time’s infusion. A shorter time for the first brew will bring a more wonderful taste because the fruity aroma is stronger by now.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

So good!  I’m really glad that I read the website’s description of this Guang Dong Phoenix Dan Cong Oolong Tea from Teavivre (the description above!) before I steeped this.  I took extra care to only steep the first infusion for 30 seconds rather than the usual 45 seconds (I add 15 seconds to each subsequent infusion), because this ended up tasting amazing with just 30 seconds infusion time!

It has a strong litchi (or lychee) fruit taste to it.  In fact, had I not known this was a pure (unflavored) tea, I would think it was a lychee scented Oolong.  The fruit flavor is really quite profound!  I am also getting the sweet potato notes that the description suggests – not just in the aroma but in the flavor – a note that is especially distinguishable in the aftertaste.  This is a very flavorful Oolong.

It has a pleasant, silky texture to it with a mild astringency.  There are some woodsy notes to this tea as well as the fruit notes.  I am surprised at just how flavorful this first cup (infusions 1 and 2) is.  I find myself looking forward to my next set of infusions!

The second cup (infusions 3 and 4) to be sweet and very flavorful.  I am noticing more of the aforementioned “woodsy” notes in this cup than I tasted in the first.  The litchi notes are still quite profound here.  I notice fewer of the sweet potato notes in the taste and aftertaste.  This cup is a little less “silky” feeling.  It has a dryer finish than the first cup.

With my third cup (infusions 5 and 6), I found the flavors beginning to soften and become more unified.  The flavors here are less sharp and focused, but, there is something quite lovely about the way they all come together.  It is still sweet, fruit-like, and delicious.  In fact, this may be my favorite of the three cups because it is much more relaxed.

This is a unique Oolong – quite different from any other that I’ve tried … or at least, any that come to immediate memory!  I can’t recall a pure Oolong tasting so distinctly of litchi.  It’s rather remarkable and I enjoyed it.