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Dayuling Premium High Mountain Oolong from Beautiful Taiwan Tea

dayulingTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy: Beautiful Taiwan Tea

Tea Description:

The premium teas of Taiwan are known for their smoothness, the quality of their soup and their “Chaqi”.   Only grown in the highest areas, theses leaves take their time to grow and soak up all the cool mist and the High Mountain air.  You’ll feel calm and attentive with this Dayuling sourced High Mountain Oolong.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve heard great things about Dayuling Oolong; and I’m very happy to finally get the chance to try one! The high, high altitude at which this tea is grown (greater than 2500 meters) and limited quantity that can be produced because of the geographical location are a giant part of what makes this tea so special. At $20 an ounce, this isn’t the priciest tea in my cupboard but it’s certainly up there – I can’t help but cross my fingers and hope it’s worthy of the price tag.

I have to say, the leaf is very beautiful; dry the rolled up leaf gives off a very large, ‘thick’ appearance and has a weight in my hands. After the first infusion I could see why; the leaves are so giant – some of the biggest I’ve ever had the pleasure to brew up. Almost every single one is a completely full leaf, and I even picked out a stem that had not one, not two, not three, but FOUR completely intact leaves branching off it. Just stunning!

I certainly wasn’t going to squander this sample by Steeping it Western Style; so I enjoyed a lovely evening Gong Fu session. Sometimes I feel I can get a little stuck in my head when I’m drinking tea or doing Gong Fu in particular and I focus too much on the technical side of things while trying to pick apart flavour – and I didn’t want to do that with this tea so I just kept doing infusions without really taking physical notes; and I just kind of let the tea ‘speak to me’ while I drank it. It’s so delicate and fragile with very lovely, complex nuances! Teas grown at higher altitude tend to be more complex because, due to the altitude, they grow at a slower pace – and that comes through here for sure.

It’s quite a floral tea, that’s for sure – while the infusions I did blend together I remember the first couple had really lovely, pronounced floral notes of orchid, lily, and a bit of violet as well. Incredibly well balanced though; not ‘perfumey’, forced or over the top in the slightest. Other things I noticed were this very cool, crisp freshness. I kind of instinctively want to call that flavor ‘the smell before it rains’ but I don’t know if there’s a technical word for that. I know petrichor is defined as the smell of rainfall on dry soil/earth (and that’s my all time favourite smell) but this wasn’t quite that: it’s the smell of rain before any has actually fallen. No earthiness.

This was such a pleasant, relaxing tea though! I’m not sure how many infusions I got in total but it certainly lasted quite a while and made my evening magical. Probably well worth the price tag just to say I’d tried a Dayuling, but all in all a very delicious, serene taste experience too. I definitely felt a little tea drunk’buzzed afterwards.

Red Jade Black Tea from Oollo Tea

RedJadeBlack1Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Oollo Tea

Tea Description:

A perfect marriage between Burma Ashamu and Taiwanese wild tea. The long twisted whole leaves give distinct smooth raisin, date and cinnamon infusions with traces of peppermint.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Red Jade Black Tea from Oollo Tea is one of those teas that after taking my first sip, the sound that I uttered was “Mmm.”  Not a lot of teas elicit that response from me.  This one did.

The dry leaves are dark, chocolaty brown.  They’ve been rolled lengthwise, producing a very long and wiry shape.  Because of the long, curly composure of these leaves, it’s difficult to actually measure a bamboo scoop of the leaves into the basket of my Kati tumbler.  So instead, I eyeballed it.  Then I added 12 ounces of boiling water and let the tea steep for 3 minutes.

Now I have a cup of perfection!

I enjoy most tea types:  Green, White, Black and if I’m going to be totally honest, I even enjoy most of the Pu-erh that I’ve encountered.  I’ve enjoyed some of the variations and even the new varietal Purple teas.  Oolong teas and Yellow teas are my favorites.  But the tea type that I drink the most is Black tea.  So, I guess I could amend  my previous statement to say that black teas are my favorite, followed closely by Yellows and Oolongs.

And this tea from Oollo is a perfect example of why I love black tea so much.  It has a rich, invigorating flavor but it doesn’t get all aggressive on me.  Instead, it’s smooth and sweet.  The description above is spot on with its comparison to raisin and date.  That sugary sweetness that I’d taste if I were to bite into a raisin or a date, that’s the kind of sweetness I taste when I sip this tea.  RedJadeBlack

There are notes of gently warm spice and hints of rich malt.  There is a slight intonation of cacao and a whisper of caramel.  And the aftertaste delivers just a hint of minty taste, especially if I draw a breath of air over my palate just after I’ve finished a sip.

The tea is so wonderfully sweet but not so sweet that it becomes all about the sweet.  There is a nice complexity to this.  Lots of depth to the flavor.  Those sugary sweet notes from the dried fruit are top notes, with a mid-note of warm spice.  Undertones of caramel that mingle with notes of cacao.  Every once in a while, I pick up on a hint of leather.  A subtle note of plum comes in here and there.  And every once in a while, I even pick up on a floral tone.  It’s a wonderful cup with lots of layers of flavor to explore!

This tea is an absolute DELIGHT to sip.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to try anything from Oollo Tea yet, I urge you to get to their website immediately and try some of their fantastic teas.  And be sure to put this tea in your cart while you’re shopping.  You’ll thank me later!

GABA Oolong Tea #52 from Tea Chai Te

GabaOolongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy: Tea Chai Te

Tea Description:

This high mountain oolong is truly a must-try. Gaba teas are unique in that they are fermented in nitrogen-rich environments making them very complex, with both rich and subtle flavors that change over time and differ with each steeping. Unique with its gentle sweetness giving it hints of yam. Also a natural relaxant.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is the first GABA oolong that I have tried, and if any are similar to this GABA oolong from Tea Chai Te, I can definitely get in on it!

First off, what does it mean to be a GABA tea? I’ve heard that phrase thrown around a few times by many different companies. So what does it do? GABA is just an acronym for Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid. It is known for having a calming effect on the nervous system. GABA is also in other types of foods, such as . It occurs naturally in this low elevation Taiwanese oolong. To amp up the glutamic acid goodness in the leaves, farmers partially shade the leaves for two weeks before picking the leaves, which sounds oddly similar to how sencha is made. Both are also high in L-Theanine, which gives tea it’s energy. While the oolong is being shaded, nitrogen is added to the air, which makes the levels of GABA go crazy. It does sound crazy when I word it like that, but to put it in simpler terms, what the nitrogen gas does to the glutamic acid in the tea, really nice conditioner does to your hair. It makes it lovelier, smoother and gives it a nice fragrance.

I was having a rough day all around, and drinking this tea made it all better. It was quite aromatic, throwing in a good amount of the forest green oolong pellets into my teapot. I had to stop myself from doing nothing but sniff the leaves! When it got time to brewing, I was distracted by all the annoying e-mail and text messages that I almost forgot all about my tea! But I took a deep breath, turned off all electronic devices, and closed my eyes as I sipped. The warming and sweet aroma of milk caramel candies and rich clover honey unfolded from each inhale and came to life at each sip. Thanksgiving came to mind when I discovered a lingering taste of candied yams at the finish. I did feel less stressed after drinking this tea, although I cannot tell that it was the act of drinking the tea itself or the phytonutrients in the GABA. Either way, this is a delicious and fascinating tea, good for many, many steeps.

Baozhong Oolong Tea from Oollo Tea

BaozhongOolong1Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Oollo Tea

Tea Description:

Grown in the serene mountainous terrain of Wenshan, Taiwan. The twisted leaves produce elegant lilac and vanilla fragrances while developing delicate sweet, floral notes. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I think I fell in love with this Baozhong Oolong Tea from Oollo Tea at first whiff!  The aroma is so sweet and wonderfully floral – just as the description suggests, I smell lilac!  I appreciate that while it has a strong floral aroma, it doesn’t come across as perfume-y.  It smells more like the air that has been lightly scented by a gentle breeze that filters through a lilac bush.  It smells so beautiful!

The brewed tea has a more subdued fragrance with warm vanilla notes and mere hints of the flower that I experienced with the dry leaf.  The scent is still captivating.  It invites me to take a sip – and I think I’ll do that!

LOVE!  The flavor has delicate notes of flower and a strong top note of creamy vanilla.  It’s so creamy and sweet – vaguely reminiscent of a milk Oolong but with a lighter taste and texture.  This doesn’t feel overwhelmingly creamy the way a milk Oolong can.  It’s light and refreshing as it washes over the palate.BaozhongOolong

In no time at all, my first cup (infusions 1 and 2) disappeared.  Time to resteep!

With this second cup (infusions 3 and 4) I’m tasting a stronger floral presence than I experienced with the first cup.  It’s still what I’d call a subtle flavor and it marries with the vanilla notes quite harmoniously.  In the distance, I pick up on soft notes of vegetation – very soft! Like a whisper of a slightly earthy, grassy tone.

As I continue to sip, I pick up on some woody notes.  Again, these are very subtle and they meld with the previously mentioned vegetal notes to create a somewhat “earthy” taste that offers a contrast to the creamy notes of vanilla and the sweet floral tones.

And just like the previous cup, this cup disappeared quickly – so I resteeped the leaves again to create my third cup (infusions 5 and 6) and I think that this cup might be my favorite of the three!  The delectable vanilla notes have softened somewhat, allowing for more of the floral notes to be explored.

The tea remains subtle yet richly flavored and I think the reason I favor this cup over the other two is that the complexity here is much more profound.  I can taste the layers of flavor because the vanilla notes have muted just enough so that these layers can actually be discovered.  I still get that delicious vanilla flavor but now I’m tasting other notes too.  I taste more of those woodsy notes and I love how these earthier notes marry with the notes of vanilla and the flowery tones.

An exceptional tea, this!

Everything about this tea is soft.  The texture is soft and silky.  The flavor is soft and it seems to lull you into this tremendous sense of comfort and luxury.  Nothing aggressive or sharp to the taste of this tea.

I highly recommend this to all those who appreciate a beautiful, gently nuanced Oolong!  You’re going to LOVE this tea!

Taiwanese Lapsang Souchong Black from Butiki

Taiwanese Lapsang SouchongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Butiki (However it’s no longer for sale)

Tea Description:

Our Taiwanese Lapsang Souchong originates from Taipei County in Taiwan and is grown at approximately 1,300 feet above sea level. While it isn’t nearly as common today, Taiwan has a long tradition of smoking teas. Local evergreen wood is utilized to smoke this Assam varietal, which results in a sweet yet smoky flavor. Smoked bacon, oak, and dark chocolate notes are prominent, while licorice notes are more subtle. This Lapsang Souchong is smoky without being overwhelming and finishes sweet. Our Taiwanese Lapsang Souchong is full-bodied, smooth, and complex.

Learn more about this tea on Steepster.

Taster’s Review:

Firstly I definitely would not call myself a fan of Lapsang Souchong; I own one flavoured/mixed blend that uses it as an ingredient that I find pretty good but every other time I’ve had it I’ve personally found the smoke/ash tones present to be rather harsh and unpleasant. So, I honestly still can’t believe that I actually requested a Lapsang sample; but it all boils down to seeing a Steepster review that mentioned this being sweeter and softer than your typical LS; and so my curiousity was peaked, and I had to try it afterall.

The dry leaf has, like one should expect from Lapsang, a strong smell that’s definitely very smokey but there are also strong notes of leather and wood as well that round it out and make it seem a little more interesting and less intimidating. It seems rather “manly” to me, despite a general smooth – dare I say “silky”, quality. I get the impression there’ll be no “grit” here. Honestly the leaf didn’t smell as offensive as I was anticipating! Already I’m very impressed and hopefull.

I cut my steep time a little short; I was worried about the tea getting too strong. After a few very trepedatious sips I started to take larger ones, and before I knew it I was practically slurping it back! This is alarmingly delicious! Like I observed with the dry leaf this is rather smokey, though not as much as the dry leaf will have you believe. There’s also a leather-like quality to it and the taste of oak – just like is mentioned in the tea’s description and which I also observed from the smell.

Most interestingly, I’m also getting a rather jammy quality that makes the whole cup softer, though still full in flavour, and more agreeable. Plus, it levels out the ratio of sweet and savory flavours in the blend which makes it feel more well rounded and balanced. I would describe the jam note as very stonefruit-y, leaning towards black cherries perhaps? This is the first Lapsang I’ve ever had that hasn’t assaulted me with harsh notes of tabacco or ash, essentially making me feel like I’ve just licked an ashtray. On that point alone I call this a success!

Overall this is just a very agreeable tea; it perfectly conveys what Lapsang teas are all about – the smokiness of it, while maintaining a softness and uniqueness. It’s very sad Butiki is closed because, while I previously thought it unthinkable I’d ever want to stock a straight Lapsang tea, this is one I could see myself drinking often and would want around!

I recommend this one to people experienced with Lapsang who want to try something just a little different, but I especially recommend it to Lapsang virgins or people who, like me, have been turned off by the intensity of other Lapsang Souchong teas they’ve tried! This one is, dare I say it, perfect.