Another bitter cold day in Pittsburgh, and nothing is more appropriate than a bold Assam tea. Although generally I prefer a rich black tea on days like today, there is a sample of Assam Green Adventure Green Tea in this box from Assamica Agro, and the leaves look too interesting through the package window to pass up.
You can purchase 100 grams of this Assam Green Adventure for USD $7.50 through the Assamica Agro website. Or get an entire kilogram (2.2 pounds) for USD $41.50! I spent a good paragraph or two in my previous review of the Queen of Assam Black Tea from Assamica Agro describing how incredible of pricing this company has for their products. Seriously, check out their website and buy some amazing tea!
Like the Queen of Assam Black Tea, this Assam Green Adventure was also produced at the Prithivi Group of Small Tea Growers, located in Dibrugarh, Assam, India. That fact alone has my excitement peaked for this green tea, since the Queen of Assam was an absolutely phenomenal black tea. This tea is from the second flush harvest of 2017.
Assamica Agro is truly a model for how tea companies should run. They have the right vision for a tea company, practicing fair wages to workers, organic farming, and protecting the land and environment. Somehow, they do all of this while offering fantastic quality teas at affordable prices. It seems that the lack of “middlemen” and unreasonable profit margins truly makes this possible. Cheers to Assamica Agro, and any tea companies that follow these same practices.
Historically, many of the largest tea growing regions of the world had the same strategy as many other corrupt industries and governments, exploiting the local people, weak economies, and land in order to maximize profits for those who need it the least. This strategy has left nothing but waste in its wake, including perpetually weak economies, poor local people being lacked of sufficient incomes and services, and polluted, damaged lands. These are the practices and entities that need to be dissolved in our age, where we no longer need them in order to find tea and other products. I am not one to get engaged in political conversation in this blog, but I am one for promoting and offering ethics and good moral character in business practices. These things in business are what is best for the development of humanity.
Now, let’s get to the review…
The dry leaves vary in color from pale forest green to pale dark forest green. There are a few smaller silver buds. There are no totally bare stems. The leaves are hand plucked. Some are hand twisted into long, wiry shapes (some measuring over 2 inches), while others appear to be lightly hand rolled. The mix appears to consist of mostly large fragments and unbroken leaves still attached to the shoot. The plucking standard is two leaf pluck, with very few having a small bud. The leaves appear to be pan fired. The aroma is rich and woodsy, with scents of wood smoke, forest floor (fresh mushrooms and dry autumn leaves), minerals, and a touch of bitter cacao beans. This is a type of tea to sit around a campfire with and get the full experience of nature.
Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an eight ounce (240 mL) bizen ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 175°F (80°C) water for 1:00 minute. 15 seconds were added to subsequent infusions.
The liquid has a fairly light, pale green color. The aroma has scents of wood smoke, wet stones, fresh mushrooms, and steamed collard greens. The body is surprisingly full, with a savory, rich texture, and a light touch of astringency. The taste has notes of wet stones, autumn leaves, collard greens, fresh mushrooms, and wild flowers. The aftertaste carries the vegetal character, and slowly evolves into a flowery essence.
The infused leaves have a uniform bright, fresh forest green color. The blend consists of mostly large fragments and unbroken leaves still attached to stems, with a few detached unbroken leaves and fragments. There are no totally bare stems. The plucking standard is two leaves. There are very few small bud fragments in the mix. The leaves feel young and fairly tender, although the size is considerably large, again indicating the leaves come from Camellia Sinensis Assamica tea bushes. The aroma has scents of wet forest floor, wet stones, collard greens, fresh mushrooms, and a touch of wild flowers.
The Assam Green Adventure Green Tea has a very appropriate name, because experiencing this tea is truly like adventuring through a forest. The aromas and tastes of wood smoke, like a campfire, fresh mushrooms, minerals, forest foliage, and a touch of wild flowers, really transports you to an early autumn forest after a light rain shower. I really get the feeling of camping from this tea, and I personally love it. It seems to connect me to nature.
This green tea is more similar to a sheng puerh in terms of aroma and taste. Being dominantly earthy and complex, it does not have the grassy, nutty, or stronger floral flavors that many other green teas have. I find that most pan fired green teas share this earthy, mineral character. As of this moment, I am on the fifth infusion of these leaves, and there is plenty of taste left in these leaves. It is impressive. Again, for the price of this tea, you can buy yourself an amazing amount of excellent green tea pleasure.
Thanks again to Assamica Agro for all that they do in their communities, and for providing this sample of Assam Green Adventure Green Tea! Go check out their website, and help a positive, ethical movement generate some well-deserved revenues. Cheers!
Today’s review will focus on the Si Ji Chun Oolong Tea from Taiwan M’s Tea. This oolong tea is from the fall of 2017 harvest season, and sourced from Nantou County in Taiwan.
This style of Taiwanese oolong is harvested from cultivar bushes of the same name, Si Ji Chun. This tea usually has a lighter oxidation level around 20%, and a light roast applied to the leaves during processing.
The name Si Ji Chun translates into “four seasons”, a reference to the continual growth of fresh leaves on this cultivar. The continual growth is due to the lower elevations that these bushes are usually grown at (about 500 meters or 1,600 feet above sea level). Unlike many of the cultivars grown and used in Taiwan, the Si Ji Chun does not have a TTES number designation, as this is a semi-wild bush that was not developed by the TTES (Taiwan Research and Experimentation Station).
Let’s get to the review…
The dry leaves have a pale forest green to pale dark forest green color, with the stems being a pale yellow-brown color. The leaves are tightly compressed into the common Taiwanese oolong ball shape. The blend consists of mostly unbroken, whole leaves still attached to stems, some large fragment and detached whole leaves, one or two mostly bare stems, and no buds. I expect to find a three to four leaf plucking standard. Based on the size of the compressed balls, I expect the leaves to not be as large as one may find in many other Taiwanese oolong styles. The color of the leaves indicates the light oxidation (about 20%), and a light roast. The smell is amazing, sweet, and fruity, with scents of brown sugar, baked apples, and cinnamon.
Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an eight ounce (240 mL) bizen ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 190°F (88°C) water for 30 seconds. 10 seconds of steep time was added to each subsequent infusion.
The liquid has a light, pale green-yellow color. The aroma has attractive scents of baked apples, caramel, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a touch of apple blossom (which intensifies as the number of infusions increases). The body is medium, with a juicy, silky texture. There is no bitterness whatsoever, and a very light astringency that nicely compliments the flavor. The taste has notes of baked apples, caramel, brown sugar, cinnamon, and apple blossoms. The aftertaste carries the apple notes, which evolves into a refreshing apple blossom essence left on the breath.
The infused leaves have a fresh dark forest green color. Most of the leaves have some reddish color showing on the edges, an indication of the oxidation level. The plucking standard is three leaves without a bud. There are a few detached, whole leaves in the mix, and a few large fragments (almost whole). There are also a few mostly bare stems. The leaves have a thin, soft leathery feel. Most of the whole leaves measure well under 2 inches (50 mm), but the largest one measured about 2.5 inches (63 mm). The leaves are fairly broad, with an appearance somewhat similar to the TTES 12 Jin Xuan cultivar leaves. The aroma carries the scents of wet apple blossom, and lighter scents of baked apples and brown sugar.
It had been a couple of years since I last experienced a Si Ji Chun Oolong. I don’t know if my tastes have developed so much over the years, or if that particular product just wasn’t of the same quality as this one, but this product from Taiwan M’s Tea is absolutely delicious. The apple character could be felt throughout this tea, and came in both the form of the fruit and blossom. Other than apple, the sweet tastes of brown sugar and caramel, blended with the apple and notes of cinnamon, made this tea a desert-like treat. The juicy, silky texture had a luxurious feel, and the slight touch of astringency perfectly complimented the flavor. The apple and apple blossom aftertaste and essence was a perfect finish. And, as usual with Taiwanese oolongs, the observation of the infused leaves was a good time. Overall, an excellent Taiwanese oolong with a lot of high quality infusions to offer.
Thank you to Michelle at Taiwan M’s Tea for providing this sample of Si Ji Chun Oolong. Have a good weekend, everybody! Cheers!
Today’s review will focus on the Queen of Assam Black Tea from Assamica Agro. You can purchase 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of the Queen of Assam Black Tea for USD $6.90 from the Assamica Agro website. For this price, you will want to make a purchase! A kilogram (2.2 pounds) is only USD $39.50! Add another $11.00 of purchases and you even get free shipping. That’s a lot of seriously high quality Assam teas for $50. And no, I am not accidentally looking at the wholesale pricing!
Anyway, back to the matter at hand. This Queen of Assam Black Tea is graded as TGFOP, short for Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (sounds pretty good, right?). This is from the second flush harvest of the 2017 year, hand harvested by the Prithivi Small Tea Growers cooperative, located in the Dibrugarh area of Assam, northern India. Currently, the Prithivi Small Tea Growers cooperate consists of six small tea farms, all of which are Certified Organic by OneCert Asia. In total, the six farms consist of 16 hectares (about 40 acres) of land under tea cultivation.
I have several teas from Assamica Agro that I intend to post reviews of, so let’s save some information about Assamica Agro for those posts.
Let’s get to the review…
The dry leaves have a uniform dark charcoal grey-black color, with a few slightly fuzzy, golden tips in the mix. The mix consists of almost all unbroken leaves and buds, with maybe a few large fragments, maybe not! The pluck appears to be one leaf, some of which include a bud. There are no totally bare stems in the mix. The leaves are hand plucked and twisted, giving them a long, “leggy” appearance. Full, 100% oxidation has been allowed. The appearance in general is very high end, giving it a true “artisan” look. The aroma is also very attractive, with scents of dried Turkish figs, touches of malt and chocolate, and a sweet acidity that I compare to the smell of fresh brewed kombucha. All very good first impressions!
Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 mL) cast iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 200°F (93°C) water for 4:00 minutes.
The liquid has a beautiful, rich orange-red color. The aroma is very attractive, with scents of fresh cut figs, light malt and chocolate, delicate flowers, and a touch of licorice. The body is full, with a deep, layered texture. There is a mild, pleasant astringency, and no bitterness. The taste has notes of fresh figs, malt, chocolate, licorice, and a touch of lemon. The aftertaste carries the sweet malty notes with a touch of licorice. A sweet taste lingers on the breath.
The infused leaves have a uniform copper-brown color. The blend consists largely of unbroken leaves and buds, most of which are still attached to the shoot. There are a few large leaf and bud fragments, but no bare stems. It is interesting to observe these leaves because they appear to be rather young, yet they are fairly large. This, of course, points to the character of Camellia Sinensis Assamica tea bushes, having larger, broader leaves. The leaves also have a more hearty, leathery feel than their Camellia Sinensis Sinensis cousins. The aroma continues the attractive scents of figs, malt, chocolate, and a light touch of licorice. All very good last impressions!
Seriously, when I tell you to buy a kilogram of this Queen of Assam Black Tea and you will thank me at this time next year, that is not an exaggeration. I even looked up the shipping cost for the kilo alone, and it is only USD $6.00 to Pittsburgh! The total cost being $45.50. Doing some quick math, that comes to less than $0.05 per gram. The amount used in my pot today (8 grams) costs less than $0.40, and I got three good infusions out of these 8 grams. To wrap this math lesson up, I basically can get 375 eighteen ounce pots of this tea for $45.50. Did I mention this is really excellent Assam black tea? Again, you can thank me next year, assuming 2.2 pounds lasts you that long.
This tea was truly a pleasure to experience from the first to last impressions. The appearance and aroma of the dry leaves was high end and luxurious. The appearance, aroma, and taste of the liquid was seriously incredible, and observing the infused leaves was quite entertaining. Consider this post as an expression of sincere gratitude and congratulations to the farmers of Prithivi Small Tea Growers and Assamica Agro for producing such a high quality Assam black tea. Take a bow, if any of you are reading this!
Many thanks again to Assamica Agro for providing this sample of Queen of Assam Black Tea. Keep up the excellent work! Cheers!
Happy New Year, fellow tea lovers! I trust that everyone had a safe and merry holiday season. For those of you in the eastern United States, a good pot of hot tea should help get us through an exceptionally cold start to the 2018 year.
I guess the question as to which tea I am starting the year with was given away in this blog post title. My first review of the 2018 year will be focused on the Kanchanjangha Noir Black Tea courtesy of Nepal Tea, sourced from the Kanchanjangha Tea Estate in Nepal.
In my review of the Silver Yeti White Tea from Nepal Tea and Kanchanjangha Tea Estate (KTE), I provided some general information on KTE. For this post, I want to highlight some of ways that Nepal Tea and KTE are not just providing us tea drinkers with sensational products, but also helping the tea farmers in their local communities have a higher quality of life. Click on each of the project names below to read more about each initiative.
Community enhancement projects include the Cow Bank Project, where you can “donate” a cow to a farmer on the estate. This not only provides the farmer and their family with nourishment through gathering the cow’s milk, but also allows them to make some extra money by selling extra milk to other villagers, and selling dung to KTE for use as fertilizer. Learn more about this project, the contributions made by KTE to get it started, and how you can help move it forward, by clicking the link above.
You can also sponsor a child’s education through the Scholarship Project. Through Nepal Tea and KTE’s “Adopt From Abroad” Program, you can give a young child in the small farming community the opportunity to attend the local English boarding school and community school for one year. This is an opportunity that may be missed for many young children in the Panchthar District without generous support from our tea community. As of today, 2,300 children have already been supported through this initiative, and 93 are currently benefiting from the program. Anyone want to join me in getting a GoFundMe project running?
KTE also has a Free Housing Program, a Farmer’s Co-Op, and is proactive in health and sanitation initiatives, as well as providing enhanced maternity benefits. With this level of support for the local farmers, the tea labor industry may begin to build a more positive reputation. This is a model that should be replicated across all tea growing communities.
Want to support Nepal Tea and Kanchanjangha Tea Estate, and taste an amazing black tea? You can purchase 50 grams (1.7 ounces) of this Kanchanjangha Noir Black Tea for USD $9.99 from the Nepal Tea website.
Let’s get to the review…
The dry leaves vary in color from pale light brown to copper red to dark charcoal grey, with a generous amount of silver-gold tips. There are a few bare stems in the mix. The blend consists of medium to large size leaf and bud fragments. I do not expect to find any unbroken leaves in the mix. The leaves are machine rolled. The overall appearance is similar to that of second flush teas from Darjeeling. The aroma has fresh scents of dried rose petals, raw cacao, and dried tart cherries.
Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 mL) cast iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 200°F (93°C) water for 4:00 minutes.
The liquid has a bright, orange-red color. The aroma has inviting scents of roses, tart cherries, and raw cacao. The body is medium-full, with a clean, lively texture. There is a touch of bitterness, and the character is lightly brisk. The taste continues the notes of roses, tart cherries, and raw cacao. The aftertaste is lightly sweet with a hint of roses, and leaves a dry effect on the tongue.
The infused leaves vary in color from dark green-brown to dark copper-brown. The blend consists of medium to large size leaf and bud fragments, and a few bare stems. The leaves, after two infusions, have the texture of thin, somewhat dry leather. The oxidation level on the leaves is not 100%, as with many styles of black tea. Again, this product seems to be styled after the second flush Darjeeling tea. The aroma of the infused leaves is fruity and floral, with scents of roses, cherries, and a touch of raw cacao.
In a year that saw second flush teas from Darjeeling become nearly non-existent, this Kanchanjangha Noir Black Tea is a very worthy replacement for those tea drinkers who have a special place in their hearts for Darjeeling tea. The scents and tastes of roses and raw cacao is reminiscent of second flush Darjeeling teas, and the tart cherry notes are just a small tweak from the muscatel notes famously found in the Darjeeling teas. This Nepal black tea has a touch of briskness, however, that I do not find in Darjeeling teas, and I personally enjoyed it. Even in a normal year that finds Darjeeling second flush teas in full production, this Kanchanjangha Noir Black Tea is a nice twist on a popular style of tea. It certainly deserves the same respect and recognition as that given to the popular second flush teas of Darjeeling.
Many thanks to Nepal Tea and Kanchanjangha Tea Estate for providing this sample of Kanchanjangha Noir Black Tea! And also many thanks for the positive social impact that they are making on the communities that help bring us this fantastic product!
Cheers, and the best of health and prosperity to everyone in the 2018 year!
The English translation for the name of this tea is “High Mountain (Gaoshan) Sweet Scent (QingXiang) Pear Mountain (Lishan) Oolong Tea”. If the aroma and taste of this tea lives up to the name and reputation of other Lishan oolong teas, then this is going to be a great tea session.
Lishan (Pear Mountain) is located in central Taiwan, in Taichung. A map showing the Lishan area is below.
The Qingxing cultivar bushes for this tea are grown at altitudes between 1,500 meters to 2,200 meters (4,900 feet to 7,200 feet) above sea level. At this altitude, the weather is rather cold and harsh on tea bushes. The results of growing tea in this environment are slow developing leaves, rare harvests (one to two per year, usually), and limited production. The limited supply of this product makes the necessity to slowly enjoy this experience even more of a priority.
Let’s get to the review…
The dry leaves vary in shades of green from forest green to dark forest green. The leaves are very tightly rolled and condensed into the standard Taiwanese oolong ball, making them quite dense. I expect most of the leaves to be unbroken and fully intact on the stem, with a pluck in the three to four leaves and no bud. The other leaves should be unbroken but detached from the stem. There appears to be no fragments, all unbroken leaves, which is impressive! There is one stem that is almost entirely bare. The leaves appear to be on the lighter side of the oxidation scale (under 25%), and perhaps given a very light roast. The aroma is excellent, with inviting scents of brown sugar, baked apples and pears, ceylon cinnamon, floral honey, and orchids.
Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an eight ounce (240 mL) bizen-ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 190°F (88°C) water for 1:00 minute. Each subsequent infusion had another 15 seconds of time added.
The liquid has a bright, light yellow color. The aroma has scents of stewed apples and pears, orchids, brown sugar, and touches of Ceylon cinnamon and floral honey. The body is light-medium, with a honey-like texture. There is no trace of bitterness, and just a touch of astringency. The taste has notes of stewed apples and pears, floral honey, orchids, and lighter notes of brown sugar and Ceylon cinnamon. The aftertaste is incredible, carrying the fruit and honey notes, then evolving into an excellent orchid essence left on the breath.
As infusions get past four, the fruity and honey flavors diminish, leaving the floral character front and center with a touch of vegetal notes. The orchid essence on the breath remains as potent and amazing from the first infusion through the last.
The infused leaves have a uniform dark forest green color. The leaves are all unbroken, some still attached to stems, and some detached. The stems show either a three leaves or four leaves pluck. There are no buds in the mix, and only one mostly bare stem. Some of the leaves display a light amount of oxidation, and there are signs of a light roast. There are also a few leaves showing signs of bug bites. The leaves are very smooth and soft, and rather long and narrow. It’s always a pleasure to play with and observe leaves from high quality Taiwanese oolongs like this. The aroma continues the scents of honey, stewed apples and pears, orchids, and a touch of brown sugar.
I am not sure if I could have picked a better tea to review before the long holiday weekend coming up. This Gaoshan QingXiang Lishan Oolong Tea was incredibly floral and sweet in the aroma and taste. I see some reviews using words like “vegetal”, and I just did not pick up any of that until maybe the fifth infusion. Even then, any vegetal character was very light, and the floral character dominated. The sweet aftertaste and lingering floral essence was the real highlight of this tea, in my opinion. To me, a tea that tastes this good for a minute after the liquid is consumed is an instant favorite. And to think, this tea is not even the best grade of this style from Fong Mong Tea Shop.
Many thanks to Fong Mong Tea Shop for providing this sample of Gaoshan QingXiang Lishan Oolong Tea! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
A Christmas miracle arrived at my office a few days ago, and few things can lift my excitement to such a level as this. A package from a relatively new tea company named Nepal Tea. As you can probably guess from the company name, Nepal Tea specializes in offering organic teas from Nepal. Today’s review will be focusing on the Silver Yeti White Tea, which can currently be purchased from Nepal Tea for USD $14.99 and includes one ounce of the tea.
It has been a few years since I had a nice assortment of various styles of tea from Nepal, and this sample package definitely offers an interesting assortment. Upon further research, I found out that these teas are actually sourced from one of the tea estates in Nepal that I was offering through my online tea shop. The estate is Kanchanjangha Tea Estate (KTE). KTE was the first organic certified estate in Nepal, and is the only tea estate in Nepal certified as Free Trade.
Nestled in the foothills of Mount Kanchenjunga, with an elevation ranging from 1,300 meters to 1,800 meters (4,200 feet to 5,900 feet) above sea level, Kanchanjangha Tea Estate consists of about 94 hectares of land under tea cultivation. It is located in Ranitar, Panchthar District, Nepal. The map below shows the location of Ranitar.
Kanchanjangha Tea Estate does more than just produce excellent quality Nepal teas. It is also a great partner for the estate workers. I will provide more details on that partnership in my next Nepal Tea product review.
For now, let’s get to the review…
The dry leaves have a uniform pale light green color to the buds, with a fine silver downy-like fuzz covering them, and dark brown to black stems. The buds are long and thin, with no additional shaping given during production. The more mature buds have a younger bud enveloped inside. There are no leaves, and no bare stems in the mix, only buds. The mix consists mostly of unbroken, fully intact buds, with some medium to large bud fragments. The appearance of these buds is definitely similar to those found in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Kenya (to name a few). They are noticeably thinner than the plump Silver Needle teas found in the Fujian province of China, which uses the Fuding Da Bai tea bush (among others), known for producing large, plump buds. Getting back on track, these buds are dried naturally, and simply processed. The aroma has scents of dry rosebuds and dandelions, fresh hay, and light touches of vanilla and honey.
Five grams of dry buds were placed in a six ounce (180 ml) porcelain gaiwan, and infused with 185°F (85°C) water for 3:00 minutes.
The liquid has a full golden yellow color. The aroma has scents of rosebuds, dandelion, hay, and lighter scents of vanilla and honey. The body is light-medium, with a pillowy, airy texture. That is not a description I use often (or maybe ever), but this liquid feels like it levitates off the tongue, and just hovers in the mouth. Admittedly, I spent a lot more time than usual just observing the mouthfeel of this tea, trying to think of an appropriate description to record. There is no bitterness or astringency. The taste has notes of rosebuds, dandelions, hay, lighter touches of vanilla and honey, and a barely noticeable hint of licorice. The aftertaste carries the notes of sweet hay and vanilla, and leaves a pleasantly light floral essence on the breath.
As a quick sidenote, the third and fourth infusions are easily the most aromatic and flavorful infusions.
The majority of the infused buds have a light forest green color, with some being brown-red, with dark brown stems. The majority of the buds are unbroken and fully intact, with a bud only pluck, and some larger buds enveloping younger buds. There are some medium to large bud fragments. There are no leaves or bare stems in the mix. The buds are long and narrow. The aroma, especially as the buds get cooler, is intoxicating with strong scents of honey, vanilla, licorice, rosebuds, and a touch of hay.
The Silver Yeti White Tea from Nepal Tea is a beautiful reminder of the high quality products hailing from the Nepalese foothills of the Himalayas. And these products are not just Darjeeling style black teas, but teas of all styles. This white tea boasts a subtle yet sophisticated character, with a great combination of floral, sweet, spicy, and earthy scents and flavors. The texture of the liquid was a true highlight for me, just observing a texture that I do not recall experiencing before. My best description was pillowy, as the liquid felt soft and gentle on the tongue and roof of the mouth, and more dense in between. These buds have many infusions of pleasure to offer, so considering the cost, be sure to pull every last drop of goodness out of these buds before disposing of them.
Many thanks to Nepal Tea for their generosity in providing this sample of Silver Yeti White Tea. There will be plenty of other reviews, and more information about the good works being done by the good people at Nepal Tea and Kanchanjangha Tea Estate, in the near future. Cheers!
Today’s review will focus on the Organic Green Tea from Harendong Organic Tea Estate. Harendong Organic Tea Estate currently offers two types of green tea. This review is covering the twisted leaf, or long leaf, form sample. The other sample is a rolled leaf form, which is shaped more like a ball. It will be interesting to compare notes between the two forms.
I provided more details about Harendong Organic Tea Estate earlier this week in my review of the Rolled Organic Black Tea.
Let’s get to the review…
The dry leaves vary in shades of green, from pale yellow green to dark forest green. There are signs of some very slight oxidation occurring within a few of the leaves. The leaves all appear to be single, detached, medium to large fragments, with the possibility of a few unbroken leaves in the mix. There are a few bare stems, and no obvious buds. The leaves are lightly rolled length-wise, giving them a fairly light, fluffy feel. The aroma has scents of brown sugar, cinnamon, toasted oats, and dried apple.
Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an eight ounce (240 mL) bizen-ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 175°F (80°C) water for 2:00 minutes.
The liquid has a light golden yellow color. The aroma has scents of light brown sugar, orchid, light vanilla, and a touch of sweet cream. The body is medium, with a buttery, smooth texture. The taste has notes of light brown sugar, orchid, oats, and a touch of wet stones. There is a very mild astringency, just strong enough to feel on the tongue. The aftertaste is quite floral, and that floral quality lingers on the breath nicely.
The infused leaves vary slightly in the shades of green, from pale forest green to dark forest green. Some of the leaves exhibit reddish edges, indicating a slight level of oxidation. The leaves consist almost entirely of medium to large fragments, with one or two unbroken leaves in the mix. There are a few bare stems and no buds. The leaves vary from fresh, smaller, more tender leaves to larger, heartier, and more robust leaves. The aroma of the wet leaves is quite different than the liquid and dry leaves, having scents of mineral, wet forest floor, wet oats, and a touch of orchid.
This Organic Green Tea from Harendong Organic Tea Estate, much like its Rolled Organic Black Tea counterpart from Harendong, is a nicely balanced green tea that can please a wide variety of tea drinkers, from those just beginning their exploration of green teas to the seasoned green tea enthusiast. The aroma and taste do not boast strong vegetal or grassy tones, rather a sweeter, more floral and mineral character, with a smooth, comforting texture, and just enough astringency to remind you that it is a green tea. The large, hearty leaves easily provide four or five infusions of quality liquid, offering you more tea for your dollar. Not surprisingly, another excellent quality tea from Harendong Organic Tea Estate.
Thanks again to the management at Harendong Organic Tea Estate for providing these samples! I am definitely enjoying getting reacquainted with the products from this estate, and am looking forward to reviewing their oolong teas in the coming days. Cheers!
Thanks to the generosity of management at Harendong Organic Tea Estate, I have an opportunity to reacquaint myself (and my readers) with the excellent oolong, black, and green teas being produced at this beautiful estate. Today, I will be focusing on the Rolled Organic Black Tea.
Harendong Organic Tea Estate is located near the Mount Halimun Salak National Park in Lebak, Banten, Indonesia. See the map below for the general location of Lebak.
This estate was founded in 2006. The elevation ranges from 2,656 feet (800 meters) to 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) above sea level. This estate is certified organic by the USDA, JAS, IMO, Canada, and Indonesia.
Let’s get to the review…
The dry leaves vary slightly in color from pale light brown to dark charcoal brown. The leaves are rolled into large pellets, not quite as compact as Taiwanese style oolongs, but resemble that appearance somewhat. There are no clear signs of the presence of buds, and there are a few bare stems in the mix. The leaves are mostly medium to large fragments, with the possibility of some nearly unbroken leaves. I expect a two leaf and no bud pluck, along with detached individual leaves. There are also other unidentified fibers in the mix. I assume they are stem or shoot fibers. The leaves are fully oxidized. The aroma has scents of molasses, cassia bark, and dry marigolds.
Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an eight ounce (240 mL) bizenware kyusu teapot, and infused with 200°F water for 3:00 minutes.
The liquid has a bright, golden color. The aroma has scents of molasses, cassia bark, marigolds, and a light touch of vanilla. The body is medium, with a clean, gentle texture. There is no bitterness or astringency, and the liquid has an uplifting, refreshing energy. The taste has notes of molasses, marigolds, cassia bark, and a light touch of vanilla. The aftertaste begins as sweet, and slowly evolves into the marigold taste that hangs in the mouth for a respectable amount of time.
The infused leaves have a uniform dark brown-black color. The leaves consist mostly large leaf fragments, and a nice amount of large, fully intact leaves with a few attached to the stem. The pluck is mostly two leaves and no bud, with a few three leaves and no bud, and many single detached leaves. There are a few bare stems in the mix, and no buds. The previously unverified fibers do appear to be stem and leaf fibers, as many of them are still attached to stems or leaves. Many of the leaves measure between two and three inches long (5 cm to 7.5 cm). The aroma is very sweet, floral, and attractive, with scents of molasses, caramel, marigold, and light scents of cassia bark and vanilla.
The Rolled Organic Black Tea from Harendong Organic Tea Estate offers a very unique, pleasurable black tea experience. It is very nicely balanced, being neither overwhelming or weak in aroma and taste. It is perfect for being enjoyed with no additives. The natural sweet and floral qualities of this tea, combined with the gentle, clean texture, truly gives this a tea an uplifting energy that refreshes the mind and body almost instantly. The aftertaste is also a highlight of this tea, with an evolving taste from sweet to floral before fading away. The large, rolled leaves provide at least three quality infusions. Those who like a lighter black tea will absolutely love this Rolled Organic Black Tea from Harendong Organic Tea Estate. And who doesn’t feel better enjoying the benefits of an organic tea?!
Thanks again to the management at Harendong Organic Tea Estate for providing this sample of Rolled Organic Black Tea. I look forward to reviewing the other black, green, and oolong samples! Cheers!
This Long Jing Green Tea was grown and harvested in April of 2017 in the famous district of XiHu (West Lake), Zhejiang province of China. Below is a map showing the general location of XiHu.
Although Long Jing green teas are among the most famous and beloved green teas from China, it is (admittedly) historically not one of my preferred green teas. I decided to request this sample from TeaVivre, and give it another chance since it has been a year or two since I last had a Long Jing green tea. My tastes and preferences do change and evolve, so it is always interesting to circle back to a tea that I did not care for a few years ago, and see how I interpret it now.
Let’s get to the review…
The dry leaves vary in color from pale light green to pale dark green. There are also some yellow-brown leaves in the mix. The blend consists of medium to large leaf and bud fragments, with a few unbroken leafs and buds. There is also a bare stem or two in the mix. The stems show a two young leaf and bud pluck. The leaves have the standard flattened appearance, with the few fully intact plucks coming to a point where the bud ends. The abundance of medium sized fragments indicates that this is, with all due respect, a fairly standard grade of Long Jing green tea. The aroma has scents of roasted peanuts, chocolate, dry grass, and a touch of dry orchid.
Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an eight ounce (240 mL) bizen-ware kyusu, and infused with 175°F (80°C) water for 30 seconds. Each subsequent infusion had another 30 seconds of time added.
The liquid has a pale, light green-yellow color. The aroma has scents of fresh grass, boiled peanuts, cooked spinach and chard, and orchids. The body is medium-full, with a rich, velvety smooth texture. There is a pleasant, balanced astringency. The taste has notes of fresh grass, cooked spinach, chard, orchids, a light touch of floral bitterness, like lavender or jasmine, and a light touch of boiled peanuts. The aftertaste strongly carries the floral character, and lingers on the breath.
The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color, with a few leaves having a brown spot of two. The blend consists mostly of medium to large leaf and bud fragments. There are a few unbroken leaves, and a few leaves and buds still attached to the shoot. The vast majority of leaves are fragments, though. There is a bare stem or two in the mix. The leaves are young, fairly small, and tender. The buds are also rather young and tender. The aroma carries the scents of fresh grash, spinach, chard, and light orchid.
I have enjoyed this experience with the Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea from TeaVivre more so than I did in the past. Most notably, I really enjoyed the texture of this tea, and the strong and lingering floral aftertaste. This experience is encouraging me to try the higher grades of Long Jing from TeaVivre and other vendors. I can imagine that a much more refined, higher quality of this style of green tea could certainly live up to its reputation as one of the best and most famous styles of Chinese green tea. Not to take anything away from the grade of this sample, which provided an excellent aroma and taste experience. This product is an excellent and affordable option for exploring the Long Jing style of green tea.
Thank you again to TeaVivre for providing this sample of Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea. Cheers!
Here it is, the last sample I have of the Dancong oolongs from Chaozhou Tea Grower. I saved this sample for last, since it a style of Dancong oolong that I have heard about repeatedly, yet never had an opportunity to try.
The English translation of the name “Ya Shi Xiang” is a cause for most peoples’ curiosity, and even some caution. That translation is “duck shit fragrance”. However, the story behind this name is rather entertaining, and don’t worry, there is no real use of or connection to duck feces.
Basically, the story goes that the name originates from a tea farmer who wanted to keep some special bushes he had a secret from outsiders. In order to dissuade the outsiders from asking too many questions or showing interest in the bushes, the farmer told them that the dark color of the soil around the bushes was because of the presence of duck feces. Naturally disgusted, the outsiders’ curiosity ended there, at least for the time being.
Thankfully, there is absolutely no resemblance in the aroma or taste of this tea to duck feces. In fact, the aroma and taste are quite the opposite, as you will see in the descriptions below.
You can purchase 25 grams of the Old Bush Ya Shi Xiang (Duck Shit) Oolong Tea from Chaozhou Tea Grower for USD $25.00.
Let’s get to the review…
The dry leaves have a mostly uniform dark charcoal gray color, with a few spots of light brown and green-brown. The blend consists mostly of detached, individual large leaf fragments. There are a few mostly bare stems in the blend, which show a two to three leaf pluck. There are no buds in the mix. The leaves are tightly twisted, causing the larger leaves to appear quite long and wiry. The oxidation level appears to be in the low-medium range (25% – 40%), with a strong roast level applied. The aroma has scents of light roast coffee, toasted almonds, dried gardenia, dried lychee, with slight touches of anise and charcoal.
Five grams of dry leaves were placed in a 5 ounce (150 mL) porcelain gaiwan, and infused with 200°F (93°C) water for 10 seconds. Each subsequent infusion was given an additional 10 seconds of time.
The tea liquid has a bright, pale light yellow color. The aroma has scents of gardenia, honey, lychee, and lighter touches of charcoal and almonds. The body is light-medium, with a balanced, clean texture. There is no astringency. The taste has notes of gardenia, honey, lychee, mineral notes of charcoal and wet stones, and a light note of almonds. The floral gardenia note carries into the aftertaste, and lingers on the breath. The tea has a refreshing, cleansing effect on the palate, and a slight mentholated effect can be felt in the first couple infusions. Overall, a very refreshing, uplifting energy can be felt from this tea.
The infused leaves vary in color from dark forest green pale dark green to red-brown, an indication of the light-medium oxidation level permitted. The blend consists mostly of large leaf fragments, with some unbroken leaves, some medium sized fragments, and a few nearly bare stems. There are no buds in the mix. The leaves are quite broad in width, with a leathery texture. The aroma carries the scents of gardenia, honey, wet stones, and lychee.
So, it’s official, the aroma, taste, texture, and appearance at no point of this review reminded me of duck feces. It seems that the origin story is true! So don’t let the interesting name of this tea stop you from trying it, or else you will be missing out on a very good Dancong oolong tea experience. This tea is full of floral, fruity, and mineral character, with a very balanced proportion of each, making this a truly excellent oolong. The leaves will give you a seemingly endless supply of worthy infusions, making the price tag a little easier to accept. And, who doesn’t want to have the opportunity to serve their friends and family something called “Duck Shit Fragrance” oolong tea?! Just wait until you see their faces when you make the suggestion.
Quick side story, there is a very good tea grower in Indonesia named Harendong Organic Tea Estate. To pronounce this name quickly can give it a rather peculiar sound. My family, who were my guinea pigs as non-tea enthusiasts trying different types of tea that I was sourcing back in the day of the Tea Journeyman Shop, still remember when I offered them tea from a farm named Harendong. In fact, my older brother still pulls out the occasional innuendo.
Anyway, thank you to Chaozhou Tea Grower for providing this sample of Old Bush Ya Shi Xiang Oolong Tea. It was definitely worth the wait. Another great Dancong oolong experience! Cheers!