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vegetal

Organic Greek Mountain Tea from Kilo. . . .

My sample of Organic Greek Mountain Tea from Kilo looked so unusual in the bag I had to give it a try.  It looks a bit like sage or a white tea, grey-green in color and fuzzy to the touch, with a chain of full, yellow blossoms.  I needed my big infuser to handle all the lush stems, leaves, and blossoms of this tea.

I followed my usual pattern for lightly flavored herbal teas and steeped these leaves with boiling water, lots of leaves, and waited a good ten minutes.

Brewed the tea is very fragrant, vegetal but sweet, almost like brown sugar and okra.  There’s a hint of something in the scent that reminds me of savory dishes in the kitchen, like black pepper or oregano: herbal but spicy.

The taste of this tea has some of the familiar lemon and chamomile notes, gently floral, sweet and bright.  But this tea goes behind the chamomile flavors and has a more fermented great tea base beneath all that sweet lemon.  The sweetness is worth noting, there is a very forward, almost-caramel note in the scent and aftertaste.

This was a unique blend in looks, smell, and taste, not to mention it is an herbal tea packed with good things to help you live a long and healthy life.  Unless you go into the mountains to pick some more tea and encounter the gods of Mount Olympus, that is.  Safe travels and happy brewing!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Herbal
Where to Buy: Kilo
Description:

This variety, Sideritis Scardica, comes from the legendary Mount Olympus, in the Balkans, situated between Thessaly and Macedonia. It has been tested for antioxidants by Brunswick Labs, (www.brunswicklabs.com) the leader in bio-analtyical testing. It has a mild and very pleasant taste and aroma.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Nonpareil Anxi Qing Yiang Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea by Teavivre . . . . .

I steeped about half the sample packet (or a little over half) in about 10 ounces of water at 212 degrees for about 6 minutes.

It smells indisputably delicious as it starts to brew. Buttery, creamy, smooth, and rich. Also a tiny bit seaweedy/vegetal/grassy, but that’s subsumed by the butteriness.

The packet says to brew 4-10 minutes, which means it’s probably great for resteeping since you only need to steep it about 5-6 minutes in my experience (and with a little less water it would be less). So if you’re in the mood to re-steep, this might be a good choice for you. (As opposed to when you’re on the road or something and resteeping isn’t convenient.)

I started out using a tea ball to contain the leaves, but after a couple of minutes it became clear that wasn’t going to work out because they were just expanding too much so I let them out. Next time I’d just put them directly in the water or use a brew basket. That way I’d be able to watch them unroll too, which is always fun.

After steeping, I ended up with a nice light yellowish-green liquid (hard to say the exact shade though because I was using a green mug). It smells the tiniest bit flowery in addition to the buttery flavor.

The combo of green and creamy flavors reminds me a bit of matcha actually, although it’s gentler here and less vegetal in flavor. This is a very well-rounded flavor profile, with the bright, floral, and creamy notes complementing each other in a balanced and enjoyable fashion. Each sip is amazing. The floral bit catches your nose as you go to take a sip; the creaminess is there the whole time, and you taste the green/vegetal bit during the sip, and afterwards there’s even a slightly sweet aftertaste. And I don’t even prefer unroasted oolongs as a rule, so I’m extremely impressed with this tea and how much I enjoyed it! Teavivre has done an amazing job with this one as usual!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Oolong
Where to Buy:  Teavivre
Description

This tea is no longer available but click below for teas that are available.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Nonpareil Taiwan Li Shan Oolong Tea by Teavivre

Recently I’ve been going through an all-black-teas-all-the-time phase, so trying this oolong was a refreshing change. In addition to the great flavor, I also loved how intact the leaves were, and how they were rolled into neatly compact pearls.

I steeped this tea at 212 degrees for 2 minutes (using the entire sample packet). The packet suggested 1-2 minutes; I sampled it after 1 minute and decided I wanted it stronger, so I left it in for another minute.

The rolled leaves start to expand as soon as they’re submerged. They’re pretty tightly rolled, but they expand a LOT. I’m not really good at determining the level of oxidation in an oolong but I’d say it was fairly light to medium, based on the color of the leaves (and of the liquor). They seem to be high-quality, fairly intact leaves; I was able to pull out one crumpled piece and tease it open to discover that it was actually a couple of entire leaves attached to a bud by the associated stem. So cool! It makes me feel a lot closer to the plant, somehow, than when the leaves are pre-measured into a sachet and/or chopped up into eensy bits.

The tea liquor when steeped is a mid-light yellow, not quite as light as the average green tea, with that distinctive oolong-y fragrance (a bit floral and a bit savory).  

First sip: tangy. There’s a definite presence of acidic/astringent aspect. A warming, slightly roasty flavor travels over the top of the tongue while the astringency pulls at the sides of the tongue. By “roasty flavor” I mean an almost nutty, hearty savoriness. It’s not exactly roasted (and certainly not smoky) but it’s a very hearty presence with more depth than just the floral/orchid oolonginess.

The flavor is overall quite smooth with no noticeable bitterness. This smoothness combines with the savoriness to give an almost buttery impression. There’s maybe a tiny bit of mineral-y-ness as well, combining with the green (in a good vegetal sort of way) and slightly roasty/hearty/buttery flavor to create a very satisfying flavor profile. 

The tea is fairly sweet already, so I added just a pinch of sugar. I don’t usually prefer milk with oolongs, so I didn’t add any. I imagine you could re-steep this tea with good results as well, based on the quality of the leaves. 


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Oolong
Where to Buy:  Teavivre
Description

The Nonpareil Taiwan DaYuLing High Mountain Cha Wang Oolong Tea is grown in the area at the altitude of 2500 meters, in which the climate is cold and forests grow well. This cold and moisture condition is suitable for tea trees’ growth. In addition, the soil here is fertile, meanwhile performs well in drainage. Thus the tea leaves carry a natural scent of flower and fruit.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

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
logoDescription

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!

Anxi Tie Guan Yin from Teasenz

I can’t remember the last time I drank a Tie Guan Yin, which is something of a surprise as it’s become one of my favourite oolong varieties. I was more than pleased when I came across this one, not least because it’s a good opportunity to reacquaint myself. This particular Tie Guan Yin is from the Anxi Nature Reserve in Fujian Province, a major Chinese tea growing region (although one I seem to associate more with black tea than with oolong, strangely enough!)

tie_guan_yin_wulong_tea_1I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in water slightly cooled from boiling. The resulting liquor is a clear, pale green with a light yellowish tinge. The leaves are beautifully variegated, encompassing pretty much all shades of green from the palest to the darkest, and just a hint of brown. It’s like walking through a forest in the sunlight! The leaves are rolled, and after three minutes they haven’t entirely unfurled, suggesting that this one might be good for at least another couple of steeps.

The scent of the brewed tea is light but noticeably floral. It reminds me primarily of orchids, lilies, and jasmine – heady, scent-heavy flowers. This carries through into the taste, which initially is very heavily floral. So floral, it almost tastes thick. It doesn’t cross over into territory that’s too perfumey or cloying, but it’s definitely distinctively floral. The mid-sip brings a green beany sweetness that helps to freshen up the overall flavour profile, and towards the end of the sip there’s a hint of nuttiness that puts me very much in mind of hazelnuts. It’s an interesting flavour combination, but one that ultimately works well.

I’m also pleased to find that it very smooth in terms of mouthfeel, with an almost-silkiness about it. There’s no bitterness or astringency at all,tieguanyin_tea even though the water was quite hot and the brew time reasonably long. As the cup cools, it develops a creaminess that complements the flavours (and particularly the lingering nuttiness) beautifully.

This reacquaintance with a Tie Guan Yin has reminded me why I enjoyed these teas so much in the first place. I’m impressed with the quality of this tea, and I’ll definitely be checking out more of Teasenz’s offerings in the future. Impressed!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Teasenz
teasenzlogoDescription

An all-time favorite of Chinese oolong tea lovers. This beautiful emerald green tea is named after the Chinese Goddess of Mercy, Guan Yin. Poets of the Middle Kingdom have described this premium tea for its purifying taste, bringing you into a peaceful, meditative state of mind.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!