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2014 Shan First Flush Green Tea from Shan Valley

ShanFirstFlushTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Shan Valley

Tea Description:

This tea is considered to be the freshest and most sought after tea.  Shan First Flush Reserve tea is the first harvest in the year and only occurs once a year, usually in early April.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Oh, this tea is AWESOME!  I have really enjoyed the first flush teas that Shan Valley has offered this year.  They’ve been really lovely, and this tea is certainly no exception to that statement.  This is really a delightful green tea.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to try last year’s First Flush Green Tea from Shan Valley, so I wasn’t sure how this year’s first flush would differ from last year’s.  The dry leaf looks very much the same, dark in color (it almost looks like a black tea or a dark Oolong), but the color liquid these dark leaves produce is a pale greenish-amber color.  The aroma of the liquor is fresh and vegetal.

Right off the bat, I can tell you that I find the flavor of this tea to be more forward than last year’s first flush.  That is to say, I’m tasting a stronger flavor to the tea.  It still has it’s delicate nuances, but I taste more of the sweet, vibrant flavors than I remember tasting in last year’s first flush green.

It is lush and vegetative, reminding me of mild steamed vegetables.  And yes, I’m picking up on that bright citrus-y note that I tasted with last year’s tea.  I’m also getting a slight creaminess from this cup which I don’t recall experiencing from last year’s tea.  Imagine a creamed spinach but with maybe half of the “cream” eliminated from the dish and replaced with a squeeze of fresh lemon.  I get some cream, I get some lemon-ish notes and I’m getting that really fresh, exhilarating “green” taste. It’s a really invigorating and refreshing tea!

While I generally prefer most teas hot – and this tea is no exception to that – I really enjoyed this one chilled too.  After I finished my cup of this tea, I decided to resteep the leaves and take a sip, and I found that while the creamy tones were lighter in the second resteep, the flavors were still abundant in that second cup of tea.  Then I decided to go ahead and chill the rest of the pot, and I brewed a little more to make a half gallon pitcher full of green tea goodness, courtesy of the Shan Valley.  And it was so cool and absolutely lovely to drink on these hot summer days we’ve been experiencing.

Shan Valley has some amazing teas to offer – I highly recommend them to any tea lover!  This tea company offers a new and exciting tea journey!

Goomtee Grand Reserve Spring Tea First Flush 2014 from Darjeeling Tea Lovers


Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Darjeeling Tea Lovers

Tea Description:

Goomtee Grand Reserve is a LIMITED EDITION tea. Not all teas get the prestigious tag of GRAND RESERVE but this tea deserves every bit of this.

The leaves have been plucked from the highest elevated section of this garden which is also called the MUSCATEL VALLEY. Super fine plucking of the leaves and tender processing has resulted with a masterpiece.

High floral notes with distinct JASMINE LIKE flavour will make every tea connoisseur mesmerized. It is only Goomtee that could deliver such a beauty.  

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This 2014 Goomtee Grand Reserve Spring Tea First Flush is a lot greener than most of the Darjeeling teas that I’ve encountered lately.  In fact, it looks very much like a green tea rather than a black tea.

Taking this into account, I lowered the temperature slightly.  Normally, I would steep a Darjeeling tea at 195°F, but for this greener Darjeeling, I lowered the temperature to 185°F, and using my Breville One-Touch tea maker, I set the steep time for 2 minutes.

The result is a delightful cup of tea!  The aroma of the brewed cup is crazy floral – it is really beautiful.

And the flavor!  Sweet!  Floral!  There are even hints of muscatel in this cup.  The floral notes are profound, and as the description above promises, there is a “distinct jasmine like” flavor.  There is a soft, pleasant texture.  The astringency sort of tingles on the tongue in the finish, and I find that it accentuates the floral notes of this cup.

I’m mesmerized by the jasmine tones of this cup.  I don’t think that this tea was actually *scented* with jasmine, but, it almost tastes as though it has been processed similar to a typical jasmine scented tea.  The jasmine essence is a bit more subdued than in a typical jasmine green tea, for example, but, it’s still a rather surprising taste to find in a Darjeeling tea such as this.

I’d recommend this to all those that enjoy drinking tea!  Those that love jasmine, as I do, this is an exciting twist on that classic favorite.  Those that love Darjeeling, this is one that you should have on your cupboard because it’s a stunning representation of a fine Darjeeling first flush.  Those that simply love all teas, this is quite a unique tea and unlike any that I’ve tried thus far (and I’ve tried a lot of tea!)  It’s one you should try too!

A truly remarkable and … rather unexpected Darjeeling tea.

2003 Reserve Four Seasons Oolong Tea from Butiki Teas


Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Butiki Teas

Tea Description:

Our aged oolong is sourced from the Dong Ding tea growing region of Nantou County in Taiwan and was harvested in the spring of 2003. The varietal is Si Ji Chuan also known as Four Season. Our aged oolong was crafted by blend master Chen Pei Wen and is re-roasted every 2-3 years to minimize moisture content. 2003 Reserve Four Season Oolong is a rich full-bodied silky tea. The charcoal-colored leaves of this smooth oolong produce notes of honey suckle, bark, and grass and has a natural sweetness with no astringency present. This tea is also low in caffeine.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The aroma of the dry leaf of this 2003 Reserve Four Seasons Oolong Tea from Butiki Teas surprised me a little.  Normally, when I smell an Oolong, I smell floral notes, or sometimes hints of vegetation or sometimes fruit tones.  I didn’t smell any of these notes … instead, I could detect notes of earth and even a pipe tobacco-y kind of scent.  My SororiTea Sister, Azzrian, described the scent as

reminiscent of a campfire, or an old library, slightly musty, with a hint of leather

and yeah … I get those comparisons as well.  It definitely has an “old” kind of smell … like something I’d associate with a distinguished, elderly, well-read gentleman who smokes a pipe.

Given the hint of earth to the aroma, I expected this tea to have an almost pu-erh-ish kind of flavor to it, even though it’s an Oolong.  And it does have a flavor that is vaguely similar to that of an earthy pu-erh.  But it is also very Oolong-ish in many respects … like a dark, charcoal-roasted Oolong.

It is indeed earthy, but I do not find the earthy tones to be overwhelming or off-putting.  I like the way these earthy tones mingle with the roasted notes, creating an almost “coffee-like” taste to me.  It has a sweetness that reminds me of molasses.  Very distant floral notes in the distance … these are almost overpowered by the strong roasted tones, but, if I focus on the flavors I can taste them.  In the foreground, there are notes of leather, tobacco and oak.  This is definitely a masculine kind of tea … very rugged and yet very distinguished.

I really enjoyed this tea … and I enjoyed taking it through its paces as it delivered many wonderful, delicious infusions.  This is one tea that is definitely worth the time to get to know, especially if you’re one who appreciates a truly unique Oolong!

Yanxin’s Reserve ’04 Shu Nuggets from Verdant Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  Verdant Tea

Tea Description:

These nuggets are formed from only the smallest most delicate buds, and slow-fermented to form nuggets.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Wow!  Just … Wow!

I always seem to be so surprised by pu-erh… surprised that I actually like it.  The first couple of times that I did try it were less than successful tastings, and as a result, I have it programmed in my head that I do not like pu-erh.  But, you’d think that by now, after so many successful tastings since those first few, that I’d have managed to reprogram myself and realize that I DO like pu-erh.

And I REALLY like this pu-erh.  Immediately upon opening the pouch I KNEW this was different.  The tea has been formed into little nuggets, looking a bit like dried clots of dark earth.  And I expected it to smell like dark earth, but it didn’t.  The aroma is fairly faint.  I detect hints of wood, but not much else.

The flavor is quite remarkable.  The tasting notes on Verdant Tea’s website seem to describe what I’m experiencing very well.  Notes of sweet cinnamon and a vanilla tone that is not so much a creamy vanilla, but more of the sugary sweetness you’d experience from an angel food cake.  Enhancing these angel-food-esque flavors even more is a sort of cake-y like taste … wheat and browned sugar and tones of malt.

But it’s what I don’t taste that makes this shu even more remarkable … I don’t taste EARTH!  Usually with a shu pu-erh, even a very good one that is sweet and delicious, there are earth tones that taste unmistakeably … well, like earth.  But, I don’t taste those same earthy tones here.  I don’t taste that brine-y fish taste.  I taste a sweet, clean flavor with notes of wood and spice.  And I like it a LOT!

If you have wanted to get in to pu-erh but have not found one that you can enjoy without tasting those strong, earthy flavors, try this one!  This one WILL surprise you!

Assam Sewpur Estate Reserve from Drink T

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Drink T

Company Description:

A century-old estate brings you this full-bodied, malty and spicy tea to brighten your morning and Certified Organic to help you sleep at night.

Taster’s Review:

The only place I could locate this tea on the Drink T website is as part of this Tea Lover’s Root Basket.  (And what a lovely basket it is!  Who wouldn’t love to receive it?)

This is one of the more fragrant Assam teas that I’ve ever encountered.  The aroma of the dry leaf has notes of fruit and spice, and maybe even a distant flowery scent.  Once brewed, the tea takes on a fragrance that reminds me of freshly baked bread.  It made my mouth water just smelling it!  In fact, it was the scent that told me which sweetener to use with this tea – HONEY!  Fresh baked bread with a drizzle of honey sounds like a slice of heaven!

Of course, I tasted it before sweetening, and I did note a light, honey-esque tone in the background.  This is a very malty tea.  It has a bold, bright flavor that is strong enough to help me shake off that sleepy feeling that I feel when I first wake up.  You know that feeling?  The “what am I doing up, I want to go back to bed” feeling?  This tea helps me shake that feeling and perks me up to get started for the day.

This has a clean and somewhat lighter taste than some Assam teas, it doesn’t have as much toothsomeness (is that a word?  Well, it is now!)  This reminds me a little of a Keemun in that respect, where it has a light, wine-like note to it.  The light spicy note to it is also very Keemun-like.

This is definitely a very special Assam!