Today’s review focuses on the Organic Goomtee Muscatel Delight 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea from Lochan Tea. You can check out Lochan Tea on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, among other social media platforms.

As noted in the product name, this tea was sourced from Goomtee Tea Estate, located in the famous Darjeeling area of northern India. This tea came from the organic certified section of the estate, known as Muscatel Valley. The estate lays next to other respected tea estates, such as Giddapahar and Jungpana, and the world famous Castleton Estate. The Goomtee estate consists of a total of 225 hectares of land, 110 hectares of which are under tea cultivation. The Chinese clonal tea bushes are grown at altitudes between 3,000 and 6,000 feet above sea level. The map below shows the location of Goomtee Tea Estate, and its relative position to other well known tea estates in the Darjeeling area.

You can follow Goomtee Tea Estate on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Let’s not forget to send another prayer for a peaceful resolution to the persisting political situation in the Darjeeling area. As of now, there has been very little progress.

Let’s get to the review…

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Organic Goomtee Muscatel Delight 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark charcoal grey color, with a few fuzzy, golden tips. The leaves are more uniformly dark in color than most other second flush Darjeeling teas that I have reviewed this season. The other products have had some touches of red or brown or even a little green, but this sample is entirely dark in color (aside from the golden tips, of course). The leaves are mostly medium to large sized fragments, with the possibility of some smaller unbroken leaves and buds in the mix. There are a few bare stems, but they are quite small. The leaves are machine rolled. The aroma has scents of dried red muscat grapes, raw cocoa, dried roses, and anise.

The dry leaves were placed in a cast iron tetsubin teapot and infused in 200°F water for 3:00 minutes.

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Organic Goomtee Muscatel Delight 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a golden-red color. The aroma has scents of roses, red muscat grapes, raw cocoa, and anise. The body is full, with a juicy, lush feel, and lightly brisk character. The taste has notes of red muscat grapes, roses, anise, and raw cocoa. The aftertaste carries the grape and rose notes.

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Organic Goomtee Muscatel Delight 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform copper brown color. The mix consists mostly of medium and large sized fragments, and a few small, young, unbroken leaves and tips. There are a few bare stems and shoots in the mix. The leaves have a soft, tender feel. The aroma has scents of muscat grapes, roses, cocoa, and anise.

The Organic Goomtee Muscatel Delight 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea delivers that which its name suggests, a clean, muscat grape flavor, along with the floral notes that I have come to expect from second flush Darjeeling teas. The notes of cocoa and anise nicely balance out the aroma and flavor, while the light briskness adds some depth. Overall, this tea is another fine example of the high quality aroma and flavor profiles that consumers demand from the better Darjeeling estates. I expect nothing less from a tea that is offered by Lochan Tea.

Another thank you to the Lochan family for providing this sample of Organic Goomtee Muscatel Delight 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea. Cheers!

Today, I will reviewing the Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea from Halmari Tea Estate. You can purchase 250 grams of this tea for USD $26 plus shipping costs from the Halmari Tea website.

I posted detailed information on Halmari Tea Estate in a previous review of the Halmari Gold Orthodox Black Tea. However, here is an article from last year from the Telegraph India publication announcing another record breaking price for Halmari Gold CTC Black Tea at the auctions. Halmari Tea definitely does not shy away from competing with itself year after year to produce better quality products and fetch higher prices.

The Assam region of India is not known (yet) for its oolong teas, but Halmari Tea Estate does not let that stop them from experimenting. Certainly, in order to compete with the quality of more established oolong products, management at Halmari knew to use the hand plucked, hand rolled manufacturing process despite the more labor intensive and time consuming work required for it. This generally gives the tea a more high-end, attractive appearance to discerning tea professionals and consumers alike.

Let’s get to the review…

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Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a fairly uniform dark charcoal grey color, with a generous portion of fuzzy gold tips (buds). The blend consists of medium to large fragments of leaves and buds.There are no bare stems in the mix. Based on the size of some of the gold tips, I expect to find some unbroken. The leaves are long and wiry. The oxidation level is on the high end, as evidenced by the uniform dark color of the leaves. The aroma has scents of malt, toasted grains, dark chocolate, and daisies.

The dry leaves were placed in a cast iron tetsubin pot and infused in 190°F water for 3:00 minutes.

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Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a gold-amber color. The aroma has scents of malt, fresh grains, light honey, daisies, and dark chocolate. The body is full, with a clean, layered feel. There is a complexity to this tea, having a brisk character, and layers of sweetness and balanced bitterness. The flavor really seems to hit all parts of the tongue. The taste has notes of malt, fresh grains, light honey, daisies, and the bitterness of dark chocolate. The aftertaste is sweet with a light floral touch.

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Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform bronze-brown color. The blend consists of mostly medium and large fragments of leaves and tips, with a respectable amount of unbroken tips, a few leafs that are nearly unbroken, and no totally bare stems or shoots. The shoots show a two leaf and bud pluck. The leaves have the heartier, more robust feel of the Assamica tea bushes. The dark color of the infused leaves reflects the higher level of oxidation applied during the manufacturing process. The aroma carries the scents of malt, fresh grains, daisies, and dark chocolate. As they cool, the floral scents become stronger, and a hint of honey comes out.

From dry leaves to liquid to infused leaves, the Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea was very consistent in its aromas of malt, grains, dark chocolate, and daisies. The most remarkable part of this tea, in my opinion, was the complexity of the liquid character, delivering briskness, sweetness, and bitterness in nicely balanced layers. This oolong style tea was notably different than the Halmari Gold Orthodox Black Tea and the Halmari Gold CTC Black Tea that I have tasted previously. This oolong tea was more delicate, and not as bold and robust as the black teas, making it perfect for the tea drinker who wants the malty taste of an Assam tea without the strong astringency of the typical Assam black tea.

Thank you to Halmari Tea Estate for providing this sample of Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea. Cheers!

Sometimes it can be a challenge to hold off on reviewing certain samples, but I do try to cycle through samples from different vendors for several reasons. This sample of Gamnong Jaksul Cha from Hankook Tea was definitely one of the samples that I had to practice some discipline in not tearing into as soon as I received it, and every day since.

According to the Hankook Tea website, this Gamnong Jaksul Cha (Green Tea) was harvested by hand in mid to late April of 2017 from the Honam Tea Estate in South Korea. The harvesting takes place immediately before and after the Gokwoo season, which is the “rainfall of seeding”, and is the 6th of 24 seasonal divisions according to the lunar calendar.

You can purchase a 100 gram canister of the Gamnong Green Tea 2017 Harvest from the Hankook Tea website for USD $68.00 plus shipping fees.

Let’s get to the review…

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Gamnong Green Tea 2017 Harvest – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have an almost perfectly uniform fresh dark forest green color with a slight shimmer. The leaves consist of medium sized fragments, and there are some fresh buds in the mix, as well as a few young, bare stems or shoots. There may be some unbroken, small, young leaves in the mix. The leaves are machine rolled. The aroma is fresh and warming, with scents of caramel, dried grass, toasted rice, and dried wild flowers.

Dry leaves were placed in a bizen ware kyusu teapot, and infused in 175°F water for 2:00 minutes.

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Gamnong Green Tea 2017 Harvest – Liquid

The liquid has a bright, green color with a slight haze. The aroma has fresh scents of steamed spinach, fresh cut grass, wildflowers, and rice milk. The body is medium, with a slightly brothy texture, and a lively, clean energy. There is a nice balance of light umami and astringency. The taste has notes of steamed spinach, swiss chard, wildflowers, dandelion, rice, and a touch of bitterness that reminds me of walnuts. The aftertaste carries the grassy and floral notes, and lingers on the breath.

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Gamnong Green Tea 2017 Harvest – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color. The leaves are tender, young, and small. They are very soft and delicate to the touch, and tear apart quite easily after 3 infusions. The mix consists mostly of leaf fragments, but there are a few unbroken leaves, bud fragments, and a few young, bare shoots. The aroma continues the scents of fresh grass, steamed spinach, wildflowers, dandelion, and rice milk. Altogether, I took six infusions from these leaves, and although the last infusion or two were quite light on taste, they were still refreshing and enjoyable.

The Gamnong Green Tea could easily be a daily drinker for me (and I have not even tried it cold-brewed yet). As I have mentioned in earlier posts about the green teas from Hankook Tea, these products seem to be a perfect blend of Japanese style and Chinese style greens teas, with the light umami, grassiness of Japanese, and the nutty, floral characters of the Chinese. Overall, it just seems to hit all parts of the tongue with excellent balance. It is clean, refreshing, uplifting, and truly satisfying. If you have not given South Korean green teas a chance yet, now is the time!

Thanks again to Hankook Tea for providing this sample of Gamnong Green Tea! As usual, it was another great experience. Cheers!

Circling back around to another Dancong wulong sample from Chaozhou Tea Grower, today I will be reviewing the Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong Tea.

The name “Da Wu Ye” translates into English as “Big Dark Leaf”. The photo below of the largest leaf in the sample certainly lives up to this name, measuring about 3 inches long (7.6 cm) and 1.25 inches wide (3.2 cm). Considering that the leaf is not whole, I would say this is a fairly big, dark leaf (Da Wu Ye). The name makes sense…

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Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong Tea – Large Infused Leaf

According to the Yunnan Sourcing website featuring a similar product from the 2016 harvest, the Da Wu Ye varietal is a hybrid between the Ya Shi Xiang bush and the Shui Xian varietal.

The Da Wu Ye being reviewed in this post is grown on Fenghuang Mountain, Wudong Village, near the city of Chaozhou, Guangdong province, China. The bushes grow at an altitude between 1,200 feet and 1,800 feet (400 to 600 meters) above sea level. This tea was harvested in the spring of 2017, as the name suggests.

You can purchase 50 grams of this tea from the Chaozhou Tea Grower website for USD $9.00 plus USD $18.99 shipping to the U.S.

As I write this review, I am on about the 10th infusion of these leaves, and certainly the character has evolved over the infusions. For the sake of time, I have condensed all aroma and flavor notes into the single paragraph on the tea liquid.

Let’s get to the review…

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Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from pale yellow-green to reddish-brown to dark charcoal grey. The sample consists of unbroken leaves and large leaf fragments. The pluck is two to three mature leaves with no buds or tips. There are no totally bare stems. The leaves appear to be in the low to medium oxidation and roast levels, in comparison to the other Dancongs I have reviewed, and the remaining samples in the box, that are on the medium to high oxidation and roast levels. The leaves are lightly hand twisted, giving a fluffy, light feel. The texture is like thin, very dry leather. The aroma is fantastic, with scents of brown sugar, sweet cream, caraway, orchid, roasted almonds, and dried berries. The depth and layers of the aroma is remarkable!

Dry leaves were placed in a porcelain gaiwan. The leaves were quickly rinsed, then infused for 3 seconds with 200°F water. Each subsequent infusion received an additional 3 seconds of time.

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Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong Tea – 1st Infusion Liquid

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Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong Tea – 6th Infusion Liquid

As you can see in the photos above, the tea liquid started off a quite light golden yellow color, but deepened into a dark golden-yellow color after the 2nd infusion. As I approach the 10th and subsequent infusions, the color is obviously fading back to the lighter color of the 1st infusion. The aroma had scents of orchid, sweet cream, raspberries, caraway, and black peppercorns. The orchid scent persisted, while the other scents came and went. The sweet cream became more of a buttery scent as the infusions went on. The body was surprisingly full, with a clean, silky texture, and an invigorating energy. The taste had notes of orchid, raspberries, wet stones, caraway, black peppercorns, and sweet cream (again becoming buttery as infusions went on). The orchid and mineral taste became dominant after the 7th infusion, as the other notes began to fade off at different paces. The aftertaste was very potently floral, and lingered on the tongue for what seemed like several minutes. No matter what number infusion I came to, this floral aftertaste never seemed to fade away.

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Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves vary in color from pale forest green to dark forest green to reddish-copper to copper-brown. There are many unbroken leaves, and the rest are large leaf fragments. There are no tips or buds, and no totally bare stems. The leaves are long and fairly broad, and have a very smooth, soft, delicate texture at this point. Based on the fairly fresh appearance and texture of the leaves, it can be determined that they were given a relatively light roast during processing. The aroma carries the scents of fresh orchids, caraway, raspberries, sweet cream, and a touch of toasted almond.

This review of the Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong Tea began at 10:30 AM and is continuing through the posting of the review at 4:00 PM. The leaves still have flavor, and I simply cannot dispose of them while there is any time left before leaving my office for the day. Saying this, it can be known that this product is an all day drinking tea. And the day spent drinking this tea is going to be a happy one, full of deep aromas and flavors, headlined by orchids and sweet cream, with elements of spice, fruit, and minerals as the co-stars. This is a beautifully rounded tea that will keep you pushing the limits of the leaves. Warning, you may not be able to push hard enough to totally wear them out. I hope you have a lot of time on your hands, and a merciless pleasure in drinking mass quantities of tea, or else these leaves will most definitely outlast you.

Thanks to Chaozhou Tea Grower for providing this sample of Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong Tea. Cheers!

Assam, India, home of some of the worlds best known breakfast teas. Recognized for the intense, bold black tea flavors and full bodied brews, Assam teas are generally recommended to be served with a splash of milk and/or a sweetener such as honey or sugar. But to those who are a little more adventurous, I recommend giving the better quality Assam black teas a try without any additives, and truly experience the tea for what it is, an explosion of flavor and texture.  After you experience it pure and naked, then do as you will with the additives. There is certainly a reason that the typical breakfast tea with milk and honey are an international favorite!

I was welcomed back to my office from vacation with a package from Halmari Tea, an estate and factory located in the Moran district of Dibrugarh, a city in the Assam region of north-east India. The package included a variety of orthodox and CTC style Assam black teas, and one Assam oolong. Although generally I do not review the CTC style teas, I have to admit that I tried one yesterday, and was blown away by how good it was, so I will definitely be posting a review on one of the CTC products also. In fact, this particular CTC was so good that it actually has me convinced for the moment that boycotting CTC teas may be doing myself more of a disservice than it’s worth.

Halmari Tea Estate consists of 374 hectares of land under tea cultivation. This estate boasts being ranked in the top nine on the entire planet, a quite impressive accolade. It has been owned by the Daga family for over one hundred years (since 1913), and even today the family members continue to be heavily involved in the day to day operations. Halmari provides a labor welfare program to its 700 plus laborers. Halmari claims to hold the record for the highest price ever commanded at auction for a CTC Assam tea. Overall, it appears to be a very well run, successful estate with a reputation for highest quality Assam teas. The Halmari Tea Estate website offers additional information and a number of excellent photos of the estate. You can also purchase the teas direct from this website, and the prices are quite reasonable. Below is a Google map showing the general location of Dibrugarh, India.

Today I will be reviewing the Halmari Gold Orthodox Black Tea from Halmari Tea Estate. This tea was harvested in the second flush of the season, in June of 2017. You can purchase 250 grams of this tea from the Halmari Tea website for USD $18 plus shipping fees. This product is offered in loose leaf, or tea bags. Shipping is worldwide, and free with a purchase over USD $50.

Halmari Tea Estate is also active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Let’s get to the review…

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Halmari Gold Orthodox Black Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform charcoal grey- black color, with a very generous blend of fuzzy, golden tips. The leaves and tips are all medium sized fragments. There are no bare stems visible. The leaves appear to be machine rolled. The leaves crumble easily into crumbs, while the golden tips are a little more pliable. The aroma is truly incredible and fresh, reminding me of one of my favorite breakfast cereals growing up. It has scents of brown sugar, cinnamon, toasted oats, dry roses, and a touch of orange.

The dry leaves were placed in a cast iron tetsubin teapot and infused with 200°F water for 3:00 minutes.

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Halmari Gold Orthodox Black Tea – Tea Liquid

The liquid has a beautiful reddish-gold color, bright and clean. The aroma has scents of toasted oats, malt, raw cocoa, and roses. The body is full, with a rich texture, and a brisk character. The taste has notes of toasted oats, malt, roses, raw cocoa, and bitter orange. The aftertaste continues the sweet, softly floral notes. The brisk character leaves the mouth feeling dry, and the rich texture seems to coat the tongue and throat. This tea provides an instant punch of energy and alertness, making it a perfect breakfast beverage.

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Halmari Gold Orthodox Black Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform copper-brown color. The aroma carries the scents of oats, roses, and light malt. The leaves and tips fragments are fairly uniform in size and shape.

The Halmari Gold Orthodox Black Tea from Halmari Tea Estate is a perfect example of why Assam teas are so commonly used in breakfast blend teas, and an excellent specimen of high quality Assam orthodox teas. The aroma of the dry leaves is very welcoming and comforting. The color of the tea liquid is a visual pleasure. The taste of the tea liquid commands immediate attention, and provides an instant boost of energy. The depth of flavor and body is remarkable, and in my opinion requires no additives whatsoever to be enjoyed to its fullest potential. After trying this Orthodox style, and the CTC style from yesterday, it is not difficult to imagine why Halmari has the reputation that it does, and commands the prices that it does at auction. Very impressive!

Thank you to Halmari Tea Estate for providing this sample of Halmari Gold Orthodox Black Tea! It was an excellent reminder of the unique, flavorful character that only Assam teas can deliver. Cheers!

Today, I will be reviewing a tea sample that I have been holding on to, waiting for the right day and time to properly appreciate a truly high-end Darjeeling tea. Thankfully, that day has come.

This sample is of the Avongrove Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 from the Avongrove Tea Estate in the famed Darjeeling region of northern India. As many of you have heard, the political situation in Darjeeling has deteriorated over the past couple of months. Here is a link to one of the best articles that I have found on the subject, written by the knowledgeable team at World of Tea.

Due to this political situation, there is quite a bit of uncertainty on the short term (and potentially long term) outlook on the Darjeeling tea industry. The current second flush harvests that make up a significant percentage of the regions revenues are sadly going to waste. As a tea lover, I hope the situation is resolved peacefully and quickly, and production can resume. As a human, I hope that a solution is found that respects the rights and dignity of the locals. The last update I read is that the locals are without telephone and internet service at the moment, which the government has shut down. Again, let’s all hope and encourage a quick, peaceful, and respectful solution in Darjeeling.

Now, back to Avongrove Tea Estate. The estate consists of about 184 hectares of land dedicated to tea bushes. The altitude ranges from 2,200 feet to 5,700 feet above sea level. The estate is located on the banks of the Balason River, in the Rangbhang Valley. This is a certified organic estate by the USDA and JAS. The factory produces between 60,000 and 70,000 kilograms of tea per year. The estate employs about 500 workers, who all live with their families on the estate lands. There are a number of photos provided on the Avongrove Tea Estate website. Below is a Google map showing the area in which Avongrove Tea Estate is located.

Let’s get to the review…

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Avongrove Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves range in color from reddish brown to dark charcoal brown, with silver-yellow buds. The mixture consists of large leaf fragments, some unbroken leaves, and a generous portion of unbroken buds covered in downy-like fuzz. The stems show a two leaf and bud pluck. The leaves are hand plucked and machine rolled. The overall appearance is very impressive and high-end. The aroma has beautiful scents of roses, grapes, raw cocoa, leather, and a touch of vanilla.

Dry leaves were infused in 200°F water for 3:00 minutes.

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Avongrove Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a bright, honey-like golden yellow color. The aroma is luxurious, and carries fresh scents of roses, daisies, grapes, and lighter touches of cocoa and vanilla. The body is medium, with a velvety, incredibly smooth texture. The taste has dominant floral notes of roses and daisies, a less dominant note of grapes, and much lighter notes of cocoa, vanilla, and leather. The aftertaste carries the floral character and a touch of sweetness.

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Avongrove Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fairly uniform copper brown color, with the largest fragments having a green tint. The mixture consists of large leaf fragments and unbroken leaves and buds.  There are very few bare stems in the mix, and the few that are here are rather young. This sample actually had one of the largest unbroken leaves that I have ever found in a Darjeeling tea, measuring about 2.25 inches (5.7 cm) in length. The leaves are smooth, silky, yet fairly durable after two infusions. The aroma carries the scents of roses, daisies, grape, and lighter scents of leather.

I can easily summarize the Avongrove Euphoria Darjeeling tea in one word: Luxurious. Every aspect of this review lived up to that word, the observation of the dry leaves, the liquid, and the infused leaves. I cannot easily find any aspect of this tea that can be described in any other light than highly positive. And yes, even the descriptions of leather in the aroma and taste add to the luxurious overall experience of this tea! This tea is on the more expensive side of the current second flush Darjeeling teas available, but it is definitely worthy of that price tag.

Speaking of price tags, you can purchase 50 grams of this tea for USD $10.00 plus applicable shipping charges from the Lochan Tea website.

Another thank you to the Lochan family at Lochan Tea for providing this excellent sample of Avongrove Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea! Cheers!

If you have not yet had an opportunity to taste South Korean teas, I highly recommend that you do so as soon as possible. Whether your preference for green teas lies in the Chinese styles or Japanese styles, the South Korean green teas fit somewhere in between its two neighboring styles. It may just be the perfect bridge between the Chinese and Japanese styles, offering both a touch of the savory, umami-like character of Japanese teas, with a nutty, buttery taste of Chinese teas. The South Korean green teas have something to offer for all palates. Check out Hankook Tea for their fresh 2017 harvests of green teas, including the Ujeon Gamro and Gamnong Jaksul. They also offer an excellent powdered green tea, which they call “Malcha”, made from their Gamnong Jaksul.

Today’s review has nothing to do with South Korean green teas, however. Today is focusing on a partially oxidized, South Korean oolong tea from Hankook Tea, the Hwang Cha Gold from the Honam Tea Estate’s April 2016 Sejak (1st Flush) harvest. The 2017 product is not yet available.

UPDATE: Hankook Tea was quick to provide in the comments below additional information on the processing of this tea. They said:

“The oxidation level is between 60-70%, so it is definitely closer to a black tea. The processing is a bit different than an oolong in that the leaves aren’t dried on open racks, but rather inside a large linen cloth. The humidity and heat inside the cloth causes a natural oxidation in the leaves.”

Thank you to Hankook Tea for the additional information, and for the quick response. I always enjoy learning the specific processing details of the teas that I review. The above description certainly adds another unique detail to this tea.

You can purchase a canister with 80 grams of the Hwang Cha Gold from Hankook Tea for USD $39.99 plus shipping.

Let’s get to the review…

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Hwang Cha Gold 2016 Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark chocolate brown color. The leaves consist of medium to large size fragments, with a few bare stems in the mix, and no obvious tips or buds. The leaves are hand picked, and machine rolled. They break easily into small crumbs. The aroma has scents of dark chocolate, lightly charred wood, dried fruit (raisins), and a touch of licorice.

Dry leaves were placed in a cast-iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 190°F water for 3:00 minutes.

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Hwang Cha Gold 2016 Oolong Tea – Liquid

The liquid has an amber color. The aroma has scents of dry wood, dark chocolate, light apple, a touch of spice, and a general roasty character. The body is on the heavier side of medium, with a smooth, clean texture, and gives a peppery sensation on the sides of the tongue. The taste has notes of dark chocolate, dry wood (most similar to pine), fresh ground black pepper, a touch of granny smith green apple, and an acidity similar to lemon. The aftertaste carries a sweet, chocolaty character.

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Hwang Cha Gold 2016 Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform color of dark brown. The leaves consist of mostly medium and a few larger fragments. There are a few bare stems, and no obvious buds or tips in the mix. The leaves are delicate, soft, and easy to tear, as first flush leaves usually are. The oxidation level is quite high, giving the leaves a color and appearance similar to most black teas. The aroma has scents of dark chocolate, wood, a touch of apple, and a general roasty character.

The most unique characteristic of the Hwang Cha Gold 2016 Oolong Tea was the peppery sensation that hit the tongue, which was followed by a lemon-like acidity. The dominant dark chocolate scent of the dry leaves is very attractive. The fruity aspect of this tea took a while to identify as green apple, as it was quite subtle. Overall, this tea has a very unique set of characteristics, and is certainly different than any other oolongs I have had. It had many similarities to a lighter black tea, and yet had the sweetness of an oolong. I would be interested to know what the oxidation percentage is on this tea. If anyone from Hankook Tea happens to read this post, perhaps you can use the comment section to inform us of the oxidation level.

Another thank you to Hankook Tea for providing this sample of Hwang Cha Gold 2016 Oolong Tea! I am looking forward to reviewing the Gamnong Jaksul Green Tea in the next week. Cheers!

Time to get back to that packet of Dancong wulong samples I received a week or so ago. Are you as excited as I am?! I thought so!

Today, I will be experiencing the Ba Xian Dancong Wulong Tea from Chaozhou Tea Grower. More about Chaozhou Tea Grower can be seen in my earlier review of their Man Lou Xiang Dancong Wulong Tea.

The term “Ba Xian” translates into English as “Eight Immortals”. This name refers to the type of tea bush that this tea is grown on. The Ba Xian bushes were originally cultivated in the Zhao An area of Fujian province, but have since been cultivated in areas like the Fenghuang Mountains in Wudong village, Guangdong province, and the better known Wu Yi Mountains in Fujian province. The below map shows the area of Chaozhou, the area in which sits Wudong village.

Let’s get to the review…

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Ba Xian Dancong Wulong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark brown to black color. The leaves consist of large fragments and some unbroken leaves, as well as a few bare stems. There are no obvious buds in the mix. The leaves are long and rather tightly twisted. They break easily into crumbs. These leaves show a higher level of oxidation, and a higher level of roasting. The aroma has scents of roasted walnuts, molasses, cassia bark, honey, charred camphor, and potpourri. The aroma has a combination of roasty, sweet, and earthy characters, which is quite different than anything else that I have reviewed recently.

The entire 7 gram sample of dry leaves were placed in a porcelain gaiwan, and infused in 200°F water for 5 seconds, and each subsequent infusion added another 5 seconds.

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Ba Xian Dancong Wulong Tea – Liquid

The tea liquid had a rich, gold-orange color. The aroma had scents of camphor, walnuts, honey, cassia, potpourri, and wet stones. As the infusions went on, an interesting and obvious scent of buttered popcorn also came up. The body is full, with a lush, juicy texture. The taste has notes of wet stones, cassia bark, potpourri, camphor, and dark honey. The aftertaste continued the floral and mineral character, and lingered on the back of the tongue. The tea also had a cleansing feeling on the palate.

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Ba Xian Dancong Wulong Tea – Infused Leaves

The wet leaves range in color from dark forest green to dark brown. The mixture consists almost entirely of large leaf fragments. The few unbroken leaves were torn easily during observation. There are a few bare stems in the mix, and no buds. The leaves are long and quite narrow. They are thicker and heartier than the standard Chinese tea bush leaves. The leaves have a higher level of oxidation. The aroma continues the scents of camphor, wet stones, potpourri, cassia bark, and dark honey.

The Ba Xian Dancong Wulong Tea was a pleasant departure from the other styles of teas that I have reviewed recently, not to take anything away from the other teas, of course. This tea had a nice combination of mineral, earthy, floral, roasty characteristics that was quite unique. It had a refreshing, cleansing quality to it, yet a full, lush texture. It was interesting to observe how the aromas and tastes evolved as the number of infusions went on. I had time for about fifteen infusions, and the sweet, floral character came out more, while the roasty, woody elements dissipated over those infusions. During the middle range of the infusions, a potent smell of buttered popcorn came forward, and was quite unexpected. Overall, this was a very interesting and time consuming experience, which I have come to expect from Dancong wulongs.

You can purchase 25 grams of the Ba Xian Dancong Wulong Tea from Chaozhou Tea Grower for USD $16.00 plus USD $18.99 shipping cost to the U.S.

Thank you to Chaozhou Tea Grower for providing this sample for review, and thank you to all of my readers. Cheers!

There are many instances in life that leave you wishing that each day held more hours. If given an extra four hours a day, I am not one of those people who would allocate any of that additional time to my insurance career. Rather, I would spend that time with my son and wife. If that was not possible, then a good portion of those four hours would likely be spent slowly enjoying a good tea session. Few things in my life are as unfortunate as having to rush through the tea making and drinking experience, especially when I realize that I rushed through a sample of a type of tea that I really wanted to quietly focus on and appreciate.

Luckily, today is not going to be one of those days. I have my work completed, the phones are fairly quiet, and I have some time to appreciate a tea worthy of my full attention. The Doke Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2017 White Tea not only deserves such time and attention, but demands it because of the subtlety of the character that this style of tea generally embodies. To rush through a silver needle white tea session is to essentially miss out on the best parts of these teas, the subtle aromas and tastes. To rush through a tea session that involves any product from Doke Tea Estate is to rob yourself of a rare and uncommon treat, and that to me is incredibly foolish.

You can purchase 50 grams of this Doke Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2017 White Tea for USD $10.00 plus shipping from the Lochan Tea website.

Let’s get to the review…

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Doke Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2017 White Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry buds have the standard brownish color, and are covered in fine, silver, downy-like fuzz. The mixture contains mostly large bud fragments and unbroken buds, with a few shoot stems also. The buds are smooth and fuzzy to the touch, and crack easily into larger fragments. The buds are quite long and slender, as opposed to some better known Chinese silver needle teas that consist of plump, thicker buds. The aroma has scents of sweet hay, daisies, vanilla, sweet cream, and dried apricot. The aroma is very potent for a white tea, indicating how fresh it is.

The dry leaves were placed in a porcelain gaiwan, then infused in 185°F water for 3:00 minutes.

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Doke Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2017 White Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a bright, pale yellow-gold color. The aroma has scents of hay, daisies, apricot, light vanilla, and even a touch of honey and peach. The body is surprisingly fuller, with a silky, incredibly smooth texture. The taste has notes of hay, daisies, apricot, and a touch of vanilla, honey, and peach. The aftertaste is very refreshing, and carries the notes of hay, daisies, and vanilla.

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Doke Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2017 White Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform light forest green on the buds, and brownish shoot stems. The mixture consists of large bud fragments, unbroken buds, and shoot stems. Some shoots show a one leaf and bud pluck, while others show a two leaf and bud pluck. There are no leaves in the mixture, only buds and shoot stems. The buds have a very smooth, soft texture, and are quite durable even after five infusions. The aroma has scents of hay, daisies, peach, and a light touch of vanilla and honey.

Although quite different than the better known silver needle teas of the Fujian Province of China, the Doke Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2017 White Tea is incredibly refreshing and satisfying, and is of the same higher quality as it’s Chinese counterparts. This is a perfect summer time tea when served hot. The light and refreshing character seems to regulate the body temperature efficiently (it is hot in Pittsburgh today, so I can feel this effect quite clearly). These buds have survived through five or six infusions so far, and there is still plenty of taste in the cup. I expect this portion of leaves to get me through my work day.

Thank you to the Lochan family for their time and efforts in creating this excellent white tea, and for their generosity in providing the sample. Cheers!

Last week, I saw a social media post from Hankook Tea that sparked my excitement. Hankook Tea was the first brand of South Korean tea that I had ever experienced, and I have not had many others since (maybe one or two). I never quite forgot the experiences with the teas from this brand back in 2014. Here is a map showing the general location of Honam Tea Estate.

Anyway, the social media post was announcing the arrival of their 2017 Ujeon Sejak harvest. This is basically a special harvest completed before the full first flush harvest from the Honam Tea Estate in South Korea. Ujeon (pronounced “woo-jeon”) translates into English as “before rain”. So, the delicate buds and young leaves in this tea were hand harvested before the first rain (Gokwoo) of the spring harvest. I suppose that only an experienced tea lover can get excited over this description.

The Ujeon Gamro 2017 Green Tea is currently being offered from Hankook Tea in the 70 gram canister for USD $120.00 plus shipping, or a 10 gram sample pack for USD $18.00 plus shipping. Just a warning, 10 grams is not going to be enough, and you will be stuck wanting more until next year.

I will get more detailed about my love for South Korean teas in a future post. I still have reviews planned for the Jaksul Gamnong 2017 Green Tea and the Hwang Cha Gold 2016.

Let’s get to the review…

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Ujeon Gamro 2017 Green Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform fresh dark forest green color. The mixture consists of medium leaf fragments to unbroken young leaves and buds. The leaves and buds appear to be machine rolled. The leaves are thin and delicate, and crack easily into small crumbs. The aroma has fresh scents of brown sugar, sweet butter, dried kelp, fresh spinach, and wild spring flowers.

The dry leaves were placed in a porcelain gaiwan, and infused with 175°F water for 2:00 minutes.

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Ujeon Gamro 2017 Green Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a pale light greenish-yellow color. The aroma has scents of fresh grass, lightly cooked spinach, butter, wild flowers, kelp, and a touch of brown sugar and toasted nuts. The body is medium, with a velvety, rich texture, with a savory character not quite like the umami of a good Japanese gyokuro, but remarkable in its own rite. The taste has notes of spinach, grass, wild flowers, kelp, light butter and toasted nuts. The aftertaste has a clean, grassy, and floral character that lingers on the tongue.

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Ujeon Gamro 2017 Green Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color. The blend consists of mostly leaf and young bud fragments, with a small percentage of unbroken leaves and buds. The leaves are very thin and delicate, and have the common serrated edges. The unbroken leaves are very small and young. All but one leaf show no signs of oxidation (you can see the one leaf with a reddish tint just to the right of the center of the photo). The aroma has scents of lightly cooked spinach, fresh grass, wild flowers, and kelp.

After years of reminiscing on the tasteful experiences of Hankook Tea products, this Ujeon Gamro 2017 Green Tea quickly brought me back to those previous tastings. Literally within one second of breaking the seal on the packet, an explosion of fresh, sweet scents filled my office. The savory character and rich texture of the tea, combined with a jab of astringency, and the clean, fresh grass and flowery taste, truly brings together an experience that hits every bud of the tongue. I probably infused these leaves about ten times altogether, simply because I did not want to stop drinking this tea. The taste was quite light after the sixth infusion, but I did not care. I just wanted more.

Thank you to Hankook Tea and Honam Tea Estate for providing this sample of Ujeon Gamro 2017 Green Tea! This was an excellent reminder of the quality and pleasure I have come to expect from this brand of products. And thank you, as always, to my readers. Cheers!