Nepali Oolong from The Tao of Tea

NapaliOolongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  The Tao of Tea

Tea Description:

From a small tea garden and farmer cooperative in the Dhankuta district of the eastern Himalayan region of Nepal. The co-op actively encourages small farmers to not only grow tea, but to bring bio-diversity into their land.

This leaf represents a new tradition and style of making tea in Nepal. The leaves are hand-rolled instead of large conventional mechanical rollers, then carefully roasted over low heat.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’m revisiting this Nepali Oolong from The Tao of Tea because when I reviewed the tea, it was one of my favorite Oolong teas that I had tried up to that point and I’ve tried a lot of teas since then.  Because my experience with the Napali Oolong was so memorable, I wanted to revisit it to find out if I still enjoyed it as much as I remember.  I wanted to find out if it still deserves that place in my heart as one of my favorite Oolong teas.

In addition, since the time of writing that original review, I have come to learn the joy of brewing in a gaiwan and what a difference it makes when it comes to steeping an Oolong tea.  Armed with that knowledge, I measured out a bamboo scoop of the tea leaves into my gaiwan, administered a 15 second rinse, and then steeped the tea for 1 minute at 180°F.  I resteeped the leaves, adding 15 seconds onto the second infusion, and then I combined both infusions into one cup.

My first cup (infusions 1 & 2) is sweet and abundant with buttery flavor and there’s a buttery texture to go along with it.  I’m tasting strong fruit notes -a note of peach that’s so delectable!  This cup is smooth with very little astringency and no bitterness.  The fruit notes provide quite a bit of the sweetness but I’m also tasting a honey note and sweet floral notes.  It’s has a buttery taste and texture to it too.

So, very much like what my review suggests, although I think I’m tasting more fruit now than I did in my first infusion back then.   I’m also tasting the honey flavors that I didn’t notice or recognize back then.

With my second cup (infusions 3 & 4), I noticed that the strong buttery presence has diminished somewhat.  The texture is lighter and the flavor is a little less buttery – still there, certainly, just lighter.  The honey notes are still strong and the peach notes are still just as strong (if not a tad bit stronger!)  I’m also picking up on some notes of plum now – like a fully ripened, sweet plum that’s been dried to retain it’s sugary sweetness.

As I’ve already mentioned, the texture is lighter with this cup and because of that, I’m picking up on the slightest note of astringency.   It’s still quite smooth, but this is a little more astringent than the first cup.  Don’t let that sway you though, because the first cup wasn’t astringent at all – and now, just a slightly dry, tangy sensation at the tail.

My third cup was delightfully peachy-plumy-yummy!  I don’t get much buttery flavor that I experienced with the previous two cups – but this tea is still worth the extra infusions because the sweet fruit notes are so amazing.  A light honey note and a floral note begins to emerge, weaving its way in and out of the sip.  This cup is more astringent than the second cup, but it’s still a rather light astringency.

A truly remarkable tea – definitely worth exploring – and re-exploring as I have done today.  This tea is currently out of stock at The Tao of Tea but please keep your eyes peeled!  I consider this tea a must try for all tea lovers!

Organic Pu-er Tuocha from Tao of Tea

PuerTouchaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  Tao of Tea

Tea Description:

Made from the large leaf ‘Da Ye’ tea plant varietal, better known as Camellia Sinensis ‘Assamica’. The Tuocha refers to a family of bowl shaped teas, commonly available as Green tea Tuocha, Black tea Tuocha and Puer Tuocha. Made at one of the few organic tea gardens in Yunnan, this tea is popular among strong, dark tea drinkers.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Wow!  This Organic Pu-er Tuocha from Tao of Tea is seriously awesome.  It isn’t often that I’ll say that about a pu-er!  Oh, I may enjoy a pu-er, but I don’t often say the word “awesome” when describing a pu-er.  But this … this is AWESOME.

And I think I know why.  This tea was actually made from an Assamica plant!  That is to say, it’s made with the same plant that makes an Assam tea, but the tea is grown and processed in Yunnan.  And the result is something that I could happily curl up to any day.

My first cup is oh-so-smooth.  It tastes a lot like a black tea only smoother.  I’m not getting the same astringency that I’d get from a black tea.  But I get that delicious undertone of molasses-y caramel and even a malty note.  It’s sweet.  And my first cup disappeared before I could finish coming up with words to describe what I was tasting.

The second cup was darker in color and deeper in flavor than the first, and the first word that came to mind as I took my first sip of that cup was “robust.”  Another word that I don’t often use to describe a pu-er!  Smooth, yes, I use that word often to describe a pu-er, and this tea is definitely smooth.  Mellow, yes, another frequently used word to describe pu-er, and yes, this tea is mellow.  But it’s also robust!  It has a flavor that reminds me SO much of a black tea that I find myself questioning it!  So sweet, notes of fruit and flower, notes of molasses, hints of leather and a lovely note of malt.

I’m on to my third infusion now and it’s even darker than the second.  This is the first cup where I’m noticing a slight “earthy” mushroom note and the first cup where it actually tastes more like pu-er than black tea.  But even so, I’m getting a lot of those black tea flavors too, the malty notes are still there and there’s a really pleasant sweetness to this.  I love the way the aforementioned fruity notes mingle with the leathery notes and the notes of mushroom.  It’s a deep, complex cup that’s really very enjoyable.

My fourth cup is very much like my third, only deeper in flavor.  This is very much what I think I would expect if I were to mix a cup of Assam black tea and a cup of pu-er together.  It’s not nearly as earthy as I’d experience with a pu-er, there are some earthy notes but it’s more like a mushroom flavor with notes of leather.  It isn’t fishy or briny.  There’s very little astringency to it and it’s not bitter.  It’s just really smooth and pleasant.  Notes of plum mingling with molasses, malt, and mushroom.  It’s very different, quite unlike any pu-er I’ve experienced until now.

I’d recommend this pu-er to any tea lover – even those that don’t usually like pu-er because this is so similar to black tea, especially in the earliest infusions, that it eases you into the earthiness of pu-erh slowly.  And even when it does start to become earthy, it’s not overwhelmingly so.

This is one of the best pu-er I’ve tried, ever.

Royal Phoenix Oolong Tea from The Tao of Tea

RoyalPhoenixTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  The Tao of Tea

Tea Description:

The Phoenix Mountains (Fenghuang Shan) in Guangdong, China are home to famous varietals in oolong teas. In our last visit to this area, we studied at least seven different varietals. Notable and popular amongst them is the Mi Lan (Honey Orchid) varietal. Our name for it is Royal Phoenix. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I spent my evening enjoying this Royal Phoenix Oolong Tea from The Tao of Tea.  It’s splendid, and what a wonderful tea with which to just sit back and relax.  Beautifully fragrant and so flavorful.

I enjoyed four fabulous cups of this tea (I combine two infusions in each cup, resulting in eight infusions total).  I think my third cup was my favorite, because it was in this cup that the flavors became very seamless and it was a harmonious experience in flavor.

royalphoenixcuppedMy first cup offered me a soft, honeyed flavor with notes of sweet fruit with just a hint of sour, reminding me very much of a fresh plum.  There were notes of wood and a sort of rustic, earthy note, as well as hints of fragrant flower.  The first cup was the softest of the four cups I enjoyed, but, it was still very flavorful.

The second cup was more honey-ish than the first, with the sweeter notes of the fruit starting to emerge over the tart notes.  The flavors were still very focused in this cup, and it wasn’t until the third cup where the flavors seemed to mellow a little bit and meld into one another and become very smooth and beautifully mellifluous.

The fourth cup, the flavors continue to soften and meld.  However, I noticed that the honey notes were subdued and that is what made the biggest difference for me between cups three and four and why cup three was my favorite, and why I decided to stop at four cups.  The honey notes are just so luscious!

A really enjoyable Oolong.

Black Dragon Oolong Tea from The Tao of Tea


Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  The Tao of Tea

Tea Description:

From the famous oolong producing area of Anxi in Fujian, China. Sometimes the anxi oolongs are also refered to as “se zhong,” meaning a blend of several oolongs. The processing of this tea is quite similar to the more popular Tieguanyin oolong tea. Oolong teas range in their flavor and color spectrum from light green to dark. Tea merchants will refer this color spectrum to the level of oxidization in the tea leaves. Low (5% to 25%) oxidized teas are more green. Black Dragon is a 40 percent oxidized oolong. The leaves are tightly rolled into small pellets. When infused, the leaves unfold into their original state and provide many infusions.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

It’s Oolong time again.  Of the different tea types … Oolong is right up there with my favorite.  (Yellow tea is my #1 fave, but, Oolong comes in at a close second)  But I do limit myself to one Oolong a day, usually, because I brew it in a gaiwan, and as much as I do enjoy my tea time and the act of brewing an Oolong, I just can’t devote that much time to the brewing process for more than one tea per day.  I’ve got too much to do!  That’s why I do love my Breville One-Touch, it takes much of the time that I’d need to spend babysitting my tea … it allows me to enjoy more tea and still do the things that I need to do.

But I digress, because I don’t brew an Oolong in my Tea Maker; Oolong teas definitely benefit from brewing in a gaiwan.

And this Black Dragon Oolong Tea from The Tao of Tea is absolutely lovely!  It is sweet with a char-roasty kind of taste to it … it is somewhat mineral-y, with notes of wood.  It is one of the more masculine Oolong teas that I’ve encountered.  Earthy, with notes of sweet fruit (peach!) and while there are the faintest hints of flower in this first cup (which holds a combination of the first and second infusions), what I taste mostly are peach … and the charred notes give it kind of a roasted peach kind of flavor (Imagine grilling a peach over charcoal!)

The second cup (infusions 3 and 4) is quite different from the first!  Now, I’m tasting less peach, and more floral notes.  The peach notes are still present, but, not nearly as strong as in the first cup.  This cup still has some of those mineral-y notes and the charred notes.  It still has a warm, roasty-toasty kind of taste.

The third cup (infusions 5 and 6) is softer … not quite as focused as the first, nor as sharp as the second, here, the flavors have sort of come together in a united way to produce a really lovely, seamless flavor that is both fruit and flower, with a deep, earthy undertone.

A truly lovely Oolong – one that is definitely worth taking the time to put it through its paces!  You should absolutely take the time to infuse this tea multiple times and get all the flavor you can from it.

Organic Tea Flowers from The Tao of Tea


Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Tea Flowers

Where to Buy:  The Tao of Tea

Tea Description:

The tea plant (Camellia sinensis) flowers once a year in Fall. This is the time just before the plant produces seeds and goes into winter hibernation.

Yunnan Tea Flowers
These 100% organic tea flowers are from the southern Yunnan province of China and harvested from old growth tea trees indigenous to the area. The native peoples of this region are among the few tea-growing cultures with a history of tea flower harvesting. 

Jing Mai Tea Forest 
Jing Mai Mountain is home to one of the largest Old Growth Tea Forests in southern Yunnan. The area has been called a Tea Forest Museum with trees ranging from 800 to 1200 years old.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Even though I’m categorizing these Organic Tea Flowers from The Tao of Tea as a “fruit/herbal tisane” … it’s actually a product from the Camellia Sinensis plant.  And while I do not consider myself to be a caffeine expert when it comes to tea (or any food product, for that matter), I think that because it does come from the tea plant, the flower does have some caffeine in it … probably not very much, but some.

But, I’m not finding it to be very stimulating, which is good because I’m drinking it rather late at night.  It’s actually quite soothing.  I love the pollen-y taste of this, it is sweet, almost honey-esque with nectar-like tones.  It has a smooth taste and feel to it.  It has some earthy tones, and some delightful floral notes.  It’s light and easy to drink.

I like that it has a natural sweetness to it, making it an enjoyable, sweet relaxing beverage to drink later in the day when I want something that tastes a little bit sweet but I don’t want something that will make me feel guilty later.  With this, I can have something sweet without that guilt … and without too much caffeine to keep me awake all night!

At the time of this writing, I see that Tao of Tea is currently out of stock of this product … I hope they get it back in soon … because the flowers age well (like a pu-erh) it is something I’d like to keep on hand and I won’t have to worry about it becoming stale.