Himalayan Shangri-la from Teabox

If I had to choose between dark oolong or green oolong, for me it would be green every time. I find them characterful and unique, with more variation in flavour than I’ve typically found (at least so far…) among their roasted counterparts. And that’s coming from a habitual black tea drinker.

Himalayan Shangri-la is a Nepalese Oolong from 2015. It’s a first flush, or spring, oolong comprising highly graded leaves taken from a single estate.

The leaf here is pretty impressive – they’re long and twisty, with a high predominance of downy buds, and vary from a dark khaki to the palest green-silver. The scent is lightly vegetal and just a touch floral, in the way of orchids.

I followed the recommended parameters, and gave 1 tsp of leaf 4 minutes in water cooled to around 85 degrees. The resulting liquor is a pale yellow-green, the scent mineral. The initial flavour is also mineral, with a hint of petrichor and wet rock. There’s a hint of heady floral in the mid-sip, reminiscent of orchid and jasmine. Heavily scented, and very reminiscent of perfume, but thankfully not in the cloying, throat-coating way some floral tea possess. The end of the sip features some cleaner, fresher notes. Tomato flesh, wet grass, and the return of the petrichor.

I really enjoyed this one. It’s a flavourful green oolong, and the tomato note in particularly was a highlight as it’s not something I’ve come across in an oolong before. If you’re looking for a high quality oolong that’s also accessible in flavour terms (there’s nothing to deter the newcomer here…) then this would be a good place to start. If you already love oolong, this one might still have a few surprises…

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Teabox

If there is one oolong that can compete in the same league as the Taiwanese and the Chinese kind it has to be this Nepalese offering. The rigors of high elevation, mineral-rich terrain, and cool air allow the plants to grow slowly resulting in an immensely flavorful tea. Also interesting is the fact that it’s from the country’s small-scale producers’ cooperative which produces small batches of orthodox teas.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Jungpana Premium Darjeeling Black Tea from Golden Tips

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black Tea

Where to Buy: Golden TipsJungpana_Premium_Darjeeling_Black_Tea_Autumn_Flush_Organic_3_large

Tea Description:

A first-rate Autumnal from the paradisiacal tea plantations of Jungpana. Amber liquoring with a riveting aroma, this is sure to become your favorite morning cuppa. Fittingly robust and bodied, the tea brings in whiffs & undertones of muscatel complimented by distinctive maltiness unique to Darjeeling black teas through the pre-winter harvests. Taste buds capitulate to the bold slightly-earthy character of the tea as it flushes your mouth with its dominant character. A slight palatableness engulfs as you roll the liquor. Floral and dark chocolaty notes are sustained during the entire experience. An excellent tea and among our best-sellers every season.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Golden Tips has some of the most incredible natural tasting black teas I have ever experienced and this Jungpana Premium Darjeeling Black Tea from Golden Tips is no exception.  Their black teas are so heavy on crisp flavor that THAT is what I always find the most memorable about the black teas I have had from Golden Tips.

Jungpana Premium Darjeeling Black Tea from Golden Tips is a full-bodied Darjeeling black tea that is robust and multi-layered in flavored.  It’s exceptional on many levels.  It’s slightly Earthy but in a delightful way.  There are crusty textures ad dark chocolate hints that keep you wondering with each sip.  The end sip on to the after taste provide a non-bitter floral flavor that lingers nicely and makes you crave me.  I can totally see why this tea is among their best sellers each and every season.

It’s an easy decision to add Jungpana Premium Darjeeling Black Tea from Golden Tips to my list of all time favorite black teas.  Yum!

Halmari Gold Assam by Golden Tips Tea

Halmari-ClonalTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Golden Tips

Tea Description:

Assam is a celebrated tea growing region in the world and there is no doubt over the fact that Assam black teas are the most sought-after in the world. However, even in Assam, there are those rare and special days when ideal climatic conditions backed by intuitive manufacturing excellence garnered by years of experience prepares something as rare as this Halmari Gold Clonal Black Tea.
Handpicked from superior P126 clonal bushes at the Halmari Tea estate, the opulent appearance of the tea is characteristic of an almost equal combination of black and golden tipped leaves with a smooth texture. Carved out selectively from specially plucked tender young shoots, the tea brings in a unique rich maltiness which is only found in select Assams during the peak second flush tea growing season. The flavor is exhilarating with a perfect balance of strength, full-body and smoothness. This unique clonal tea brings in a sweet fruity finish in the mouth with a lingering aftertaste. The highest grade GTGFOP1 CL leaves prepare a sharp infusion which can be brewed several times. A bright golden amber liquoring cup greets your eyes when you strain out the royal dark brownish infusion.
An absolute luxury, the finest of the finest and clearly one of the best Assam black teas.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is a second flush Assam from Golden Tips Tea, picked in June 2014 on the Halmari Tea Estate. The dry leaf smells sweet and malty with a rich, nutty undertone, and it’s a treasure to look at. The leaves themselves are fairly thin and a little curly, mostly dark brown but with some lighter golden tipped leaves, and some pure golden leaves, scattered throughout. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a bright reddish-brown, and I added a splash of milk.

When I read the name of this tea, I was hoping that it would be a “Golden Lion” variety. These Assams have a lot in common with Chinese Yunnan black teas, which I absolutely adore. Judging by the scent of the wet leaf, it looks like my wish has been granted. Sweet potato and chocolate notes abound!

To taste, this one is an absolute delight. The initial sip is quite strong – very, very malty, with a strong squashy, yam like flavour. It’s also quite tannic, so perhaps to be avoided on an empty stomach. Successive sips show this to be a very smooth tea, although I’m pretty sure the milk is helping to round out what might otherwise have been quite rough edges. The chocolate notes emerge towards the end of the sip, and add an extra layer of sweet creaminess to what is already a sweet, smooth, malty cup. This is certainly a full-bodied tea; rich and flavourful, and immensely satisfying as a mid-afternoon pick me up.

This is a tea I’d recommend to all Assam fans – relative newcomers and experienced aficionados alike. It’s a very punchy cup, and certainly doesn’t hold back, but it’s also a good, solid example of the variety. I’d also recommend it to those who enjoy Chinese black teas, since it shares some similar characteristics. I really enjoyed my time with this tea, and it’s definitely one I’d look to repurchase in the future.

Mankota Exotic Assam Black Tea – Second flush – Single Estate – Summer 2014 from Golden Tips Tea

Mankota_largeTea Type:
Black Tea

Where To Buy:
Golden Tips Tea

Product Description:

Mankota produces some excellent second flush black teas every year. This tea in particular boasts of all characters of a premium Assam tea. The tea is robust, bold and extremely malty. The full-body of the tea finishes on a slightly sweet note which makes it an absolute prized possession. Sprinkled with golden tips all over, the dark red liquor shimmers in the cup.   A fantastic breakfast tea and a must-try if you love Assam tea.
Tasters Review:
My mother always said that breakfast foods could be served any time of day – that’s how much she loved breakfast foods – but rarely ate breakfast foods in the morning at breakfast time.  That’s kind of how I feel about this tea.  It’s a fantastic breakfast tea but I think it would be fantastic any time of day!  I agree that this is a premium Assam.  It;s robust, bold, malty, full-bodied, and sweet.  It teases with hints of cocoa and is quite forgiving if you under infuse or over infuse.  It keeps up well to the elements and tastes extremely fresh.  I can’t think of a thing I don’t like about this black tea.  It’s wonderful!  Of course I am partial to the black teas that have the long and windy tea leaves that also sport the two toned light brown and dark brown leaves which this tea does have, too, but this is incredibly delicious and I guess when you get right down to it that is what counts, most, right!?

Coconut Dream from New Mexico Tea Co.

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  New Mexico Tea Co.

Tea Description:

A full bodied tea that complements the coconut beautifully. A little milk helps bring out the coconut flavor.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Yum!  Do you like coconut?  If you do, you’ve GOT to try this tea.

Seriously, this is one of the best coconut flavored black teas I think I’ve ever tasted.  The flavor is so very true to the fruit.

The aroma of the dry leaf does smell a little … artificial.  It has a sort of coconut candy kind of scent to it, it is sweet and coconut-y smelling … it doesn’t really smell chemical or anything, but the sweet notes give it a more confectionery fragrance.  But, I am glad that the artificial notes end with the aroma … because the flavor is sensational.

The black tea base is – according to the label on the package – an Organic Korakundah estate black tea which means it’s a Nilgiri base.  A good choice, in my opinion, because the result is a rich, robust, full-flavored tea that offers a very enjoyable, solid background of flavor … but without being too intrusive on the flavor of the coconut.  Instead, the rich, somewhat malty notes of the Nilgiri enhance the coconut tones, making it taste thicker and creamier.

The coconut flavor here is strong and very coconut-y.  As I said before – it is very true to the fruit.  This tastes like TRUE coconut.  Sweet and creamy and very yummy..  It is sweet, but it doesn’t taste “candy sweet.”  Quite simply, it tastes like coconut.

This is one of the better coconut teas that I’ve tasted, and one that I’d recommend to those looking for the ideal coconut tea.