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Tea Valley

Phoenix Yunnan Gold from Tea Valley

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Tea Valley

Tea Description:

Our Phoenix Yunnan Gold is quickly becoming a favorite in our fine selection. The lasting sweetness in every cup will keep you brewing for more. If you enjoy black teas, this is certainly not one you would want to miss out on.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve been busy trying to get my tea stash organized – that’s my only excuse with being so behind on reviewing the teas from February’s Steepster Select box!  Of all the months to be behind … February is not the month is not the month I would have chosen (fewer days to get caught up!)

This is the first of the three teas that I’m reviewing, and it is the only black tea of the three selections.  This month’s theme is “Year of the Dragon” to commemorate the Chinese New Year.  About their choice of this tea, Steepster stated:

The Yunnan Gold varietal uses the robust leaves of classic Yunnan black teas with a healthy portion of young, golden buds.  In Chinese culture, the Phoenix is a complement to the dragon, forming both sides of Yin and Yang respectively, and we think the bold, fruity flavor of this brew is a fitting complement to the other teas in this month’s box.  It’s a tea for coffee lovers, and it comes to us by way of The Tea Valley, a company founded by a China expatriate named Chaozhou, who returned to his birthplace to rediscover tea and its heritage.

Whatever reason they chose to put this tea in the Steepster Select box for this month, I’m good with it … because this tea is fantastic.  It is a richly flavored tea with a delicious spiced overtone.  I find that this tea is best served hot, but not piping hot.  After it’s had a few moments to cool, the aforementioned spice notes seem to really come alive.

In the above description from the minds at Steepster, they mention that this is a tea for coffee lovers, and I understand where they’re coming from with that statement.  It is a very full-flavored tea, quite bold and in that way it is quite similar to coffee.  Fortunately, though, this lacks the bitterness that I have experienced with coffee – instead, I get a lovely honey-esque sweet note that I can’t ever recall tasting with coffee.

This is a remarkable Yunnan – deserving of high praise!

Qiyuan Jin Jiang Da Hong Pao from Tea Valley

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Tea Valley

Product Description:

A “Jin Jiang” (gold award) winner in the prestigious 2008 Wuyi Mountain People’s Choice Tea Competition, this Da Hong Pao is nothing short of excellent.

The aroma of the Jin Jiang Da Ho Pao can be described as roasted and smoky; a tease of the tea’s true potential. A pour of boiling water reveals a delightfully sweet aroma that will permeates through its immediate surroundings. The brew delivers a full body flavor with the perfect balance of sweetness and bitterness. One sip and it is obvious why this is such a prized Da Hong Pao.

While the Jin Jiang Da Hong Pao’s flavors remain complex, the brew is more temperate compared to the Dao Tian Da Hong Pao; a characteristic that is more commonly preferred.

Taster’s Review:

This is a really lovely Da Hong Pao – lots of flavor!  It’s actually fairly mild to some of the Da Hong Pao teas I’ve tried in the past, but it still has the distinct flavors I look for in this type of Oolong.

What I like about this Oolong, in particular, is that the smoky tone is not as dominate as in other Da Hong Pao.  For those of you who are familiar with my tea writings, you know that smoky tones are not always my favorite quality about a tea.  I like that while the smoky tones are indeed a part of this cup, they are not as powerful as I might have expected.

The sip begins with a hint of smoke hitting my palate, along with a subtle sweetness that it brings.  The tea has an intense amount of flavor, with a woodsy flavor in the background.  The smokiness and woodsy tones give this tea a very rustic kind of taste.

The sweetness is very nice, with hints of flower and roasted fruit.  There is a hint of spice and even the softest sour note that comes in about mid-sip, a very subtle hint but it’s there, offering contrast to the sweetness and giving this tea a very well-rounded, palate-pleasing kind of flavor.

It has a flavor to it that is very autumnal to me, with the roasted, smoky tones and warm fruit notes.

Tea Valley is a wonderful tea company that started out right about the same time that we – the SororiTea Sisters – started this blog.  I remember perusing their website back then, and I must say that they’ve come a long way since then, adding some great new teas along the way.

Li Li Xiang Tie Guan Yin from Tea Valley

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Tea Valley

Company Description:

The literal translation of “Li Li Xiang” means sweetness in every bead (of tea leaf) and describes this tea perfectly. The tightly rolled green leaves give off a pure and balanced aroma. When infused, the tea leaves produce a mellow concoction that is incredibly floral and sweet. The aftertaste is much more flavorsome and astringent compared to our other Tie Guan Yin.

The quality of the tea is reflected in its ability to reproduce the delightful taste brew after brew. The Li Li Xiang Tie Guan Yin is certainly a crowd pleaser; a must-have in your collection.

Taster’s Review:

This tea is so close to perfect that I think I heard angels sing when I took my first sip!  Seriously, this is an incredibly lovely Oolong – so smooth and elegant!

The aroma is slightly floral and slightly vegetative.  It is an interesting balance of sweet and savory scents that I find very intriguing.

The liquor is sweet and buttery.  The buttery flavor is expressed in the mouthfeel as well; it has a very thick texture that is a bit like melted butter.  Not oily, but, thick the way melted butter would be and with the sweet, creamy note of melted butter.  It is truly silky and luxuriant as it glides over the palate.

The flavor has a pleasant floral taste – I am not getting much of a vegetative note like I expected I would after smelling this tea.  But that’s quite alright.  I find the floral note to be very mysterious and adds to the luxuriousness of this tea.

This tea does have a slightly drying astringency and even a faint hint of bitterness – but it’s a good bitterness that keeps the palate from becoming too saturated from the buttery sweetness of the tea.  The bitterness cuts through that sweetness just enough to keep the tea interesting and not cloying.  It’s truly delightful!

Even though the weather is on the warm side as I type this, I am still enjoying this tea hot (not too hot, mind you, but warm enough to keep from being considered an iced tea), and I really believe that for full enjoyment of an Oolong such as this, it should be enjoyed hot rather than iced.  It is delicious iced, but, so many teas are delicious iced – with a beautifully complex tea such as this, it should not be wasted on iced tea but enjoyed to its fullest as a hot tea – so that the many layers of flavor can be detected and savored.

Hangzhou Shi Feng Long Jing from Tea Valley

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Tea Valley

Company Description:

Among all Long Jing, those harvested from Shi Feng (Lion’s Peak) are considered to be of the highest quality. Sword-like in shape and luscious-green in color, each Long Jing tea leaf looks like a carefully handcrafted art piece. Bright and delicate, the sweet aroma of the tea leaves is most inviting. The Shi Feng Long Jing has a mild-bodied flavor that is succulent and pure. The texture of the tea is exceptionally smooth and the aftertaste is very floral. You will find every aspect of this tea peaceful and relaxing.

The Shi Feng Long Jing is an excellent choice for those who love mild-flavored teas. With a delicate combination of sweetness and floral taste, there is no doubt why the Xihu Long Jing is considered the “Queen of Green Tea.”

Taster’s Review:

The moment I opened the tin of this tea, I knew it was special… so special, in fact, I decided to get out my gaiwan!  I only do that for teas that are deserving of it.  And this one certainly fits the bill.  I am really enjoying this tea.  It is a very light tea – light bodied and light in flavor, and it brews to a very light yellow-green color.

But even though I describe it as light in flavor, do not mistake this as me saying that this tea is lacking in flavor in any way – because it is not.  It is very lovely and complex in flavor; it is just not heavy tasting.  It has a very fresh taste that is pleasantly sweet.  On Steepster, I referred to the flavor as “honey roasted nuts” because it has a honey-esque sweetness to it, as well as a slight roast-y, toasty note and a nutty quality to the flavor.  I can even taste hints of butter and the floral note in the finish that the Tea Valley mentions in their description.

Overall, this is a very lovely tea.  I would recommend this tea to those who might find most green teas a little off-putting because of their strong vegetative characteristics, because I am not getting very much vegetal taste to this at all.  No grassy flavor, no steamed, buttered or boiled vegetables.  No bitterness and no astringency.  Just a pure, sweet taste that is so delightful that it will have you coming back for more.  And that’s a good thing, because these leaves can be infused many times with no loss in flavor.

Tai Ju Wang Chrysanthemum from Tea Valley

Tea Type: Herbal

Where To Buy: Tea Valley

Product Description:

Harvest when the flower is only partially bloomed, the Tia Ju Wang is one of the most excellent chrysanthemum teas available. Made with only the finest Hangzhou white chrysanthemum flowers, the tea’s fresh and sweet aroma never fails to elicit an “Mmmm” reaction. When brewed, the chrysanthemum flowers produce a light-bodied tea that is vibrant yellow in color. The tea has a honey-like sweetness and a heaven-like fragrance. This tea finishes with a delicious aftertaste.

Graceful and pure, you will find this tea incredibly refreshing. Superior all around, the Hangzhou Tai Ju Wang is a truly a king among all chrysanthemum teas.

Tasters Review:

I have been wanting to try Tea Valley’s teas and recently I have been able to try a few of them!  Including Tai Ju Wang Chrysanthemum.  I have several thoughts about this tisane and here are a few of them…

This herbal tisane surprised me.  It started off smelling like Chamomile and then switched gears into something much more pleasing to my nose!  For that I am grateful.  I’m not really into Chamomile.  Perhaps Chrysanthemums are more my style?

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one…after all I am looking at the dry mix and thinking to myself…I’m going to drink flower buds!

If anything I was thinking it would taste more like bitter flowers like rose or marigold or something but that wasn’t the case…thankfully!

In the company’s product description it says “Honey-like sweetness” and that is completely right!

This is a pure delight!  It’s a lovely-sweet – almost honey-like after taste but a bit more buttery or slippery than others I have thought to be honey-like. Maybe Buttery-Popcorn covered in honey…Not sure…but there is something more to the aftertaste than just honey-sweetness and sweet-floral notes and I just think it’s darling!

This Herbal is delicate and pretty and flavorful and surprising and I am so happy I was able to try it!  I’m looking forward to my next cup!