Yu Lu Yan Cha Black Tea from Verdant Tea

yu-lu-yan-chaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Verdant Tea

Tea Description:

In 2012, we were pleased to offer the very first experimental harvest of this incredible, innovative tea from Wang Yanxin.  Her first experiment yielded a completely new kind of black tea that combined the best chocolatey notes of Laoshan Black with the crisp texture and honey aftertaste of Jin Jun Mei.  Last Spring, Wang Yanxin and her friends in Xinyang and Laoshan outdid themselves with the newest harvest, and we’re honored and privileged to bring in Yu Lu Yan Cha for the 2014 Autumn Season.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Oh.  My.  Goodness.  The aroma of this Yu Lu Yan Cha Black Tea from Verdant Tea is ahh-mazing!  The scent wafting out of my teacup in front of me smells sweet and chocolaty.  Like dark chocolate – rich and decadent.  My mouth is watering as I’m waiting for the tea to cool so I can start drinking!

To brew this tea, I used my Kati Tumbler, measuring 1 bamboo scoop into the basket and pouring 12 ounces of boiling water into the tumbler.  I let the tea steep for 3 minutes.

Oh, chocolate-y bliss!  This is such a delightful tea.  The chocolate melds with notes of malt, and the malty notes add just a hint of caramel-y sweetness to the chocolate.  So indulgent!

Beneath the top notes of chocolate, I taste notes of sweet potato and cream!  It makes me think of mashed sweet potatoes that have been whipped with butter.  A hint of vanilla in the distance.

As the tea cools a little more, I am picking up on notes of orange toward the tail.  It’s a little brightness and a hint of sweet tangy flavor that is quite welcome after the rich flavors of chocolate, malt, sweet potato and vanilla.

The description from Verdant Tea suggests some Darjeeling-esque vegetal tones but I didn’t really pick up on those.  Perhaps I was too enamored with the chocolate notes to notice.  There was also a suggestion of honey in the flavor and I guess I do pick up on that, but it’s layered with the chocolate and becomes almost seamless with that flavor that it’s difficult to pick out on it’s own.

This is a spectacular tea – if you’re a lover of rich, chocolaty black teas, this is one you should add to your collection!

Tsui Yu Jade Oolong Tea from Eco Cha

TsuiYuJadeTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Eco-Cha

Tea Description:

This artisan consistently achieves high ratings in virtually every oolong tea competition in Taiwan, including the largest oolong tea competition in the world. His co-op of farmers use no weed killers, and chemical analyses for fertilizers and pesticides show their samples to be a small fraction of the accepted amounts set by international standards. A prime example of sustainable methods combined with expertise.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Wow … nice!  I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced a Tsui Yu Jade Oolong before.  I’ve tried many different Oolong teas.  But there are so many Oolong teas out there and … some of the more popular ones such as Ti Kuan Yin and Oriental Beauty and even my beloved AliShan have cast their rather large shadows over the lesser known varieties like this Tsui Yu Jade.  So, I’m feeling very privileged that Eco Cha has given me this unique opportunity to try this tea.

And this is LOVELY!

I brewed this – of course! – in my gaiwan.  The first cup (infusions 1 and 2 following a 15 second rinse) is light and refreshing to the palate.  It tastes sweet, but only lightly so.  It’s not an inundating sweetness.  The flavor, overall, is very gentle.  Subtly sweet, gently floral, with hints of fruit and vegetation in the distance.  The texture is soft and “fluffy.”  That seems like an odd word to use with a tea, but, that’s the word that first comes to mind as I sip this tea.  It sort of floats over the palate like a soft, fluffy cloud.  It’s like a subtle creaminess, but it is just barely there.  I really like the delicate softness of this cup.

My second cup (infusions 3 and 4) is where I notice a creaminess develop.  Hints of this creamy note were present in the first cup but they were so delicate and almost hiding behind the sweetness.  Here the creaminess has emerged, as have some of the aforementioned fruit notes, reminding me of something between a crisp, sweet apple and a juicy honeydew melon.  I think I like this cup even more than the first, and I loved that first cup!  Still so sweet, but with this beautiful creamy taste and texture that reminds me of sweet cream.

The third cup (infuisons 5 and 6) offered a  more subdued creamy note, but it was still there.  Just less apparent.  The flavors is still sweet!  The fruit notes have also subdued, and I’m noticing more of the floral notes and the vegetal notes this time.  Still a very delicious cuppa!

A remarkable Oolong … and definitely worth exploring.  When I checked out the Eco Cha website for information about this tea, I noticed that this one is now sold out, so I recommend keeping your eye on their website and after the November harvest this year, you should order some of this tea for yourself!  It’s one that I’d recommend to all tea enthusiasts!

Da Yu Ling High Mountain Oolong Tea from Eco Cha

Da Yu Ling High MountainTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Eco-Cha

Tea Description:

This is a newly developed farm in Taiwan’s prime tea growing region. The tea plants are just coming of age at 5 years of growth out of virgin forest soil in an environment that is ideal for High Mountain Oolong cultivation.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I was so excited to try more teas from Eco Cha – I have absolutely LOVED all the teas that I’ve tried from them thus far.  This is a really top-notch company!  The teas that they offer are some of the finest that I’ve tried. And this Da Yu Ling High Mountain Oolong Tea from Eco Cha is no exception … this is absolutely lovely!

The aroma of the dry leaf is somewhat herbaceous with strong floral tones.  The brewed tea has a fragrance that is more delicate, with hints of herb-y vegetation and whispers of flower.

The flavor is positively sublime!  I prepared this in my gaiwan, using short steeps.  For the first infusion, rather than steeping for 45 seconds, I stopped at 30 seconds just to see how it would be.  Then I combined the first and second infusion in one cup (infusion #2 was steeped for 45 seconds), and this cup is fantastic.

I would have expected a very light or delicate flavor, and while it is not what I’d call a strong tasting cup, I would still call it a full-flavored cup.  It’s sweet and very creamy.  The floral notes dance on the palate.  It has a light vegetative note.  This cup was so delicious that it disappeared before I knew it!

The second cup (infusions 3 and 4) had a stronger vegetative taste to it, as well as a sharper floral flavor.  It wasn’t as creamy as the first.  Well … it’s creamy … but, it’s a different creamy.  The first cup was a light, fluffy sort of creaminess that I’d call a sweet cream note, whereas this creaminess is more like butter that has been drizzled over freshly steamed veggies.

With most Oolong teas, my favorite cup is the second, but, so far, my first cup was my favorite.  I really liked the balance of flavors in that first cup.  This cup is still quite tasty, but, I’m missing some of that delectable sweet cream creaminess that was in the first cup.

The third cup (infusions 5 and 6) is a smoother cup than the second, with some of the creaminess still intact and the vegetative and floral tones softening somewhat to create a more seamless taste.  The flavors that were very distinct and “individual” in the first two cups are now melding together to present a unified taste for the palate.

This is a very enjoyable Oolong – I highly recommend it to all those who love Oolong!

Magnolia Blossom Oolong Tea from Upton Tea Imports

magnoliablossomTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Upton Tea Imports

Tea Description:

This Guangdong specialty is a lovely oolong tea, scented with magnolia flowers. Alternately known as Orchid Oolong or in Chinese Yu Lan, this selection is a must try for those who appreciate a fine scented tea. The flavor nuances are unique, but hints of jasmine lend a recognizable character.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

It’s been a while since I’ve had a magnolia scented Oolong tea, so I was happy to find this Magnolia Blossom Oolong Tea from Upton Tea Imports in my tea stash!  And it’s a really good magnolia Oolong with it’s delicately soft, sweet floral notes and hints of a fruit-like quality in the background.  It’s delightfully complex.

My first cup (the first and second infusions combined following a 15 second “awakening” of the leaves) of this tea was very flavorful … much more flavorful than a typical “first cup” of Oolong tea, which generally are very subtle.  There is a lot of flavor in this cup.  The first thing I notice is the sweetness, it’s like nectar.  As the sip progresses, the floral notes develop.  In the background, I notice distant notes of fruit:  something between a sweet apple and melon.

The second cup (infusions 3 & 4) is where I start to notice a creamy character come through.  It’s soft and buttery and almost decadent.  It has a very luxurious taste and texture.  The floral notes are still present.  The floral tones are a slightly sharper now.  It’s not so much a nectar-y sweetness now as it is a floral and buttery/creamy sweetness.  I still taste the notes of apple and melon in the distance, but another fruit note also seems to be emerging – grapefruit?  Not the tartness of the citrus, but the sweeter grapefruit notes is what I’m tasting here.

The third cup (infusions 5 & 6) maintains its floral qualities.  The citrus notes are more pronounced now.  This note is most noticeable toward the finish.  I notice a slight astringency now, this cup is not quite as soft and creamy as the first two cups were, but it is still very flavorful and wonderful to enjoy!

Overall, a very enjoyable magnolia Oolong, and a truly lovely way to spend an afternoon.  It evokes thoughts of an early, warm summer afternoon which is kind of nice since it’s been so cold!  Yes, I do love the cooler weather, but, it’s also nice to have memories of the warmth.  Actually, I think I prefer the memories in a teacup of the warm days of summer versus the actual summer day!