Now that I have properly introduced you all to Zealong Tea Estate in the recently published Company Spotlight post, allow me to introduce you to the first of their products to be reviewed, the Organic Green Tea.
You can purchase 50 grams of this tea from the Zealong Tea Estate Shop for USD $48.00 plus shipping.
As you can see in the photos below, Zealong Tea Estate appears to put much focus on offering their teas in high quality, attractive packaging. When offering organic, specialty teas from an exotic place, and charging a premium price, it is certainly a worthy philosophy to do so in beautiful, eye-catching packaging such as this. The tea leaves comes in a resealable, opaque packet, which comes inside a stylish, beautifully designed box. The box gives brewing instructions, and the resealable packet has a code printed on it that identifies harvest details of the leaves held inside. I love the idea that the leaves can be traced back to their harvest. It is obvious that the management at Zealong truly pay attention to details, and I am certain that quality will be reflected in the tea itself.
This Organic Green Tea, as well as the other unblended teas from Zealong, is certified organic by the USDA and BioGro NZ.
Let’s get to the review…
The dry leaves have a uniform pale dark forest green color, with a few silver leaves that appear to be buds. The blend consists of medium to large leaf fragments, with perhaps a few unbroken leaves, and some bud fragments and a few unbroken buds. There are no totally bare stems in the mix. The leaves are lightly rolled. There are no obvious signs of oxidation. The appearance and feel of these leaves remind me very much of kamairicha style green tea from Japan. The aroma is very fresh and fragrant, with scents of passionfruit, dark brown sugar, and roasted chestnuts.
Four grams of dry leaves were placed in an 8.5 ounce (250 mL) bizen-ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 175°F (80°C) water for 2:00 minutes.
The tea liquid has a bright, fresh, pale light jade green color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma is fresh and revitalizing, with scents of chestnut, fresh grass, and light touches of chrysanthemum and autumn leaves. The body is medium, with a remarkably smooth, velvety texture. There is no bitterness, and a pleasant, mild astringency. The taste has notes of chestnut, fresh grass, autumn leaves, and chrysanthemum. The aftertaste carries sweet, grassy notes, and finishes with a light lingering floral hint.
The infused laves have a fresh, dark forest green color. There are no signs of oxidation on any leaves. The blend consists mostly of large leaf fragments, with a few small, young, unbroken leaves, some unbroken, small, tender buds and bud fragments, no totally bare stems, and a few mostly bare stems that show a two leaf and young bud pluck. The leaves have a smooth, delicate feel. The leaves appear to be rather long and narrow. The aroma continues the scents of fresh grass, chestnuts, and chrysanthemum flowers.
The Organic Green Tea from Zealong Tea Estate screams and boasts of remarkable freshness. The appearance of the infused leaves looks as if they are fresh off the bush. The appearance of the tea liquid is beautiful, and visually uplifting. You can see the cleanliness and pureness of the bushes in the tea liquid, in that it is very clear and bright. The light jade green color is also quite memorable. The fresh aroma and taste of chestnuts, chrysanthemum flowers, and vegetal grassiness is truly revitalizing. The texture of the tea liquid is also remarkable, with a velvety character that rivals some of the best teas I have ever reviewed. In fact, the texture is probably the first thing that really struck me when tasting the tea. Finally, and maybe I am just imagining things, but the very light touch of passionfruit in the aroma and taste added another subtle dimension to an already impressive product. This Organic Green Tea needs to go on your list of teas to try as soon as possible, especially if you enjoy a good Kamairicha Japanese green tea.
Many thanks to the management at Zealong Tea Estate for sending this sample of Organic Green Tea! Your strict attention to detail, and focus on clean farming and production practices, definitely reflects beautifully in your products. Keep up the great work!
It is my pleasure to introduce you to Zealong Tea Estate, the only commercial tea estate operated in the entire country of New Zealand.
This beautiful, organic tea estate is located in Hamilton, Waikato region, New Zealand. It currently consists of about 1.2 million tea bushes spread over 40 hectares (about 100 acres) of land. The Google map below shows the approximate location of Zealong Tea Estate.
The estate grounds were used as a dairy farm before being purchased and repurposed around 1996. Only about 130 tea plants were originally planted, and now the number has grown to about 1.2 million, as noted above. The leaves are hand-picked by estate workers, then produced into green, black, and oolong styles of finished tea. About 20 tonnes of finished tea are produced each year, all from three short harvest seasons. Information is forthcoming regarding the cultivar types being propagated at the estate.
In addition to the classic, unblended, and all organic Green, Black, and Aromatic (or Oolong) styles of tea offered by Zealong Tea Estate, unique blends of Zealong tea leaves and herbs sourced elsewhere are created, with names such as Ice Breaker, Fire and Ice, Lady Gatsby, and Green Heart. They also offer more well-known, famous blends such as Earl Grey and Chai. All of these products can be found at the Zealong Shop website, or at the beautiful brick and mortar tea shop at the Zealong Tea Estate (photo below). The Green Tea, Black Tea, and Aromatic Tea will all be reviewed on this blog in the near future.
Growing and producing high quality organic tea is not the only operation that Zealong Tea Estate excels at. The estate offers a fine dining experience with tea infused menu options, beautiful meetings rooms for private events, as well as a tea ceremony and tea tasting with each guided tour. Looking at the Zealong.com gallery, I can imagine spending a lot of time creating some unforgettable memories at this place. It looks amazing!
Zealong’s tea products can be found in places other than New Zealand, of course, with distributors located in United Kingdom, Germany, Czech Republic, China, and New Caledonia. If these are not convenient options for you, do not let that stop you from trying these teas! Check out their online shop on the Zealong website.
All photos used on this page were found at the Zealong.com website, in the gallery, and are property thereof.
Here is my company spotlight on Lumbini Tea Valley, where you can learn more about this innovative company based in the Ruhuna region of Sri Lanka.
The dry leaves have a uniform charcoal black color. The leaves appear to be all whole, unbroken leaves, tightly hand rolled, and expertly tied into a teardrop shape. The leaves are fully oxidized. The teardrop measures about 2 inches (50 mm) high by 1.5 inches (38 mm) wide. The tips of the leaves are rounded up to form the top of the teardrop. The bottoms of the leaves, which may or may not include a short stem, are folded under and inside of the teardrop. The appearance is very high quality, and certainly worthy of the description “artisan”. The aroma is more potent than I expected, with scents of dried rosebuds, malt, and dried papaya. Definitely an exquisite first impression.
One teardrop was placed in a twelve ounce (355 mL) glass infuser cup, and infused in 205°F (96°C) water for 3:00 minutes. One minute of additional time was added to subsequent infusions. Three quality infusions were extracted from the leaves.
First and foremost, it is always entertaining to watch these “blooming” teas dance to life when swimming in hot water. With each infusion, the leaves become more loose, more free, and more visually impressive.
The liquid has a rich, orange-red color, clear and transparent. The aroma is very high quality, with scents of malt, fresh oranges, papaya, and roses. The body is medium, with a layered, juicy texture. There is no bitterness or astringency whatsoever. The taste has notes of malt, fresh oranges, papaya, and roses. The aftertaste continues the sweet, juicy flavors, and the sweetness holds on the breath for a noteworthy amount of time. These qualities hold true through the three infusions noted above.
The infused leaves have a uniform copper brown color, and are fully oxidized. Upon pulling the teardrop apart, I found that the leaves are unbroken, but do have the stems cut off at the bottom of the leaves, and the leaves are very tightly rolled and folded at the bottom in order to make them fit comfortably inside the teardrop. There are no buds, and the leaves are all of a uniform size. When unrolled and laid out, the leaves measure between 2.5 inches (63 mm) and 3 inches (75 mm) in length, and between 1 inch (25 mm) and 1.5 inches (63 mm) in width. There is only one stem, it is bare, and is used to bind the leaves together at the heart of the teardrop, like a twist-tie. The leaves are smooth, delicate, and carefully handled. The aroma continues the scents of papaya, malt, and roses.
To be honest, I did not expect the actual aroma, taste, and overall quality of the tea liquid to be as high and praise-worthy as it truly was. I expected most of the interest in this product to be produced by the visual observations throughout the experience. To my delight, the Keshary Handspun Black Tea more than delivered, it supremely impressed me at every level. Yes, of course the appearance is fascinating. The level of patience, skill, and care that went in to creating these teardrops is beyond my comprehension. When observing the infused leaves, fully opened up, I truly saw the craftsmanship that went into tying these teardrops. You just have to see it for yourself. But even more surprising, and equally impressive, was the incredible aroma and taste that the liquid held. A clean, beautiful malt taste, combined with fresh oranges, papaya, and a touch of fresh, delicate roses turned my opinion of this product from just “cool to look at” to “unforgettably impressive”! The sweet taste lingers in the mouth, like the floral character of a fine Taiwanese oolong. I am running out of qualifiers for how impressed I am by this product. Again, you just need to experience this for yourself, if you ever get the chance.
I look at the Lumbini Tea Valley USA site, and I do not see this product being offered. Again, I am left scratching my head, I am sorry to say.
On the other hand, many… MANY thanks to the management at Lumbini Tea Valley in Sri Lanka for giving me the once in a lifetime opportunity to try the incredible, unforgettable Keshary Handspun Black Tea. And many thanks to my readers for spending your time with me. Have a great weekend, everyone! Cheers!
There are dozens of fascinating samples in the generous box of samples sent from Lumbini Tea Valley, but I have to say that the most eye catching and tempting are the three different varieties of honey coated black teas. The reason is simple, I have never seen tea leaves soaked in honey before. I prefer my teas unaltered, but who doesn’t love honey (aside from the people who are unfortunately allergic to it)? Throw in the common and tasteful blend of cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, and this product gives the impression of being a very well rounded tea, blending spiciness with sweetness, and a brisk character. It sounds rather amazing to me.
There are two other varieties of these honey coated black teas offered by the Giri brand name from Lumbini Tea Estate. In addition to this Bee Honey Coated Ceylon Spice Black Tea, there is also Kitul Honey Treacle Coated Ceylon Cinnamon Black Tea, and Honey Treacle Coated Ceylon Spice Black Tea. I do not plan on doing full reviews of all three varieties, but will post photos on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, as I try them.
I also posted my Company Spotlight of Lumbini Tea Valley yesterday, so read more about this innovative company in that post.
Let’s get to the review…
First of all, the dry leaves are not so dry. In fact, they are quite moist, dense, and sticky, as is expected since they are soaked in bee honey. The tea leaves do have a consistent black color, with a glossy, wet sheen. The tea leaves are all small to medium size fragments, and there are some apparently bare stems in the mix, and no apparent buds. There are also fragments of cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in the mix. The tea leaves are rolled, and appear to be of or similar to BOP grade. The leaves are fully oxidized. The aroma fills my office room with strong scents of bee honey, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger. Obviously, with such strong scents in the other ingredients, the scent of the black tea is lost.
Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a 3.4 ounce (100 ml) professional style ceramic tea tasting cup, and infused with 205°F (96°C) water for 3:00 minutes. Considering the wet, fresh honey coated on these leaves, I definitely do not recommend using any teapot that cannot be put in the dishwasher or washed with dish soap, such as yixing, cast-iron, bizen-ware, or ceramic. I would recommend using only porcelain or glass.
The liquid has a dark honey, orange-light brown color. It lacks the bright, lively color of a pure, unblended Ceylon black tea. The aroma is intoxicating, with strong scents of bee honey, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger. The body is medium, with a smooth, honey-like texture (imagine that!) that coats the mouth and throat. There is no bitterness or astringency. The taste has strong notes of bee honey, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger. The aftertaste carries the sweet honey and spicy characters. Again, with all of the strong qualities of the honey and spices, the scent and taste of the black tea is mostly unnoticeable.
The infused tea leaves have a uniform copper brown color. The leaves are all small to medium fragments, with some bare stems, and no identifiable buds in the mix. Of course, the spice fragments of cardamom, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon are present. The ingredients are still slightly sticky, so the honey has not been totally washed away after two infusions. The aroma continues the scents of bee honey, cloves, cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon. The black tea scent was drowned out by the stronger honey and spice scents.
There used to be a time when I would take a tea sample and brew enough to share with everyone in my office. Basically, all I wanted to do was perform some very low level market research to see what uninitiated tea consumers thought of the better quality teas I had access to. That practice lasted a fairly short time because no one really understood or appreciated what they were tasting. Although they would say “Yeah, this is good”, I would find most of the tea left in their cups at the end of the day.
The purpose of that story? With this Bee Honey Coated Ceylon Spice Black Tea, I reopened the experiment, making enough for everyone in the office. The result, all cups were empty, and I had to do a second infusion to provide everyone with a second cup. They loved it. They loved the combination of honey and spices. They loved that they did not “feel like something was missing”, i.e. the sugar or sweetness of honey. My conclusion, this product is something that could easily catch on in the U.S. market. This makes me wonder why the U.S. distributor for Lumbini Tea Valley does not offer the honey coated black tea products. What am I missing here?
My feelings on the product, it’s easy to see why anyone (not allergic to honey or the other ingredients) could fall in love with this product. Certainly, I prefer a tea that allows the tea aroma and taste to be felt, but I cannot deny that this product is full of incredible aromas and tastes. The visual appearance of the soaked leaves is definitely unique and inspires interest and excitement about what awaits in the infusion itself. My advice, if you can find this product, then try it. Additionally, buy it in bulk, because you will probably love it, be you a tea enthusiast or not.
Many thanks to the management at Lumbini Tea Valley for providing this sample of Bee Honey Coated Ceylon Spice Black Tea. I love the innovative ideas behind these honey coated teas. Keep up the good work!
Today, I am pleased to introduce you to Lumbini Tea Valley, headquarted in Deniyaya, Ruhuna region, Southern province, Sri Lanka. Below is a Google map showing the location of the Lumbini Tea Factory. The estates and factory are neighbors to the Sinharaja Forest Reserve.
Since being founded in 1984 by Mr. Dayapala Jayawardana and continued today by Chaminda Jayawardana, Lumbini Tea Valley has developed a reputation for being among the most innovative tea manufacturers in Sri Lanka, winning multiple awards over the years for most innovative products on their hand-spun black and green teas. Within the first five seconds of looking into the generous box of samples they provided, it is easy to understand how Lumbini earned these awards. There are teas here that I have never seen produced anywhere. More on this later.
Lumbini Tea Valley is separated into two different brands, Dalu and Giri. The Dalu brand appears to focus on offering the pure, unblended and unflavored, artisan style black, green, and white teas from their garden. The Giri brand, although it does offer unblended and unflavored options, seems to focus on a more broad range of teas, including seasonal varieties from the other famous Sri Lankan regions (Uva, Nuwara Eliya, Dimbula, Ruhuna), blended teas with dried fruit, flowers, and/or Ceylon spices, and most interestingly, honey coated black teas!
These honey coated teas are like nothing I have seen coming from any other tea company anywhere. I included a photo of the sample packet below. This tea arrives moist, soaked in honey, with excess honey coating the inside of the sample bag. It is difficult to not get instantly excited about these products. It will probably not surprise you that my first review will highlight the Bee Honey Coated Ceylon Spice Black Tea. Look for this review to be posted later today or tomorrow.
Lumbini Tea Valley and their distributor in the United States can be found on Facebook. Lumbini Tea Valley USA offers many (but not all) of the fascinating teas manufactured at Lumbini Tea Valley. Unfortunately, and surprisingly, the honey coated teas are not offered by Lumbini Tea Valley USA. Considering the artisan quality teas manufactured by this company, I am slightly surprised to not see more social media activity on the other popular platforms. They will be getting plenty of attention from me over the next couple of months, as the sample package will be taking up a large amount of my review slots in the near future.
Here is a link to the Lumbini Tea Valley company profile on Youtube. This video shows the beautiful estate lands, the factory, the hard working employees picking and processing the tea, and provides plenty of useful information.
At this point, I am hoping to get some more details about the estate lands, cultivar types grown, and community from Lumbini Tea Valley. I will update this post with that information, and hopefully some good photos with permission to use, when I receive them.
In the meantime, I look forward to introducing you to some of the beautiful teas being produced at Lumbini Tea Valley. And many thanks to the management at Lumbini Tea Valley for their generosity in sending samples. I am definitely excited to get started on these reviews.
Considering that I believe my knowledge of and experience with Sri Lankan teas to be among my more extensive of the tea producing countries, I am rather surprised to look back through my records and realize that the tea I am reviewing today, the Sapphire Oolong Tea from Herman Teas and Handunugoda Tea Estate, is the first oolong style tea from Sri Lanka that I will have reviewed. Yes, I have tried other teas from Sri Lanka that were marketed as green tea but should have probably, in reality, been called an oolong tea, but this Sapphire Oolong is the first oolong tea from Sri Lanka that is actually marketed as oolong.
On another quick side note, I have quite a few sample packages arriving in the next couple of weeks from some very unique places, some coming from countries and regions that I have never experienced before. In the past, I have tried to share information on a single estate or supplier piece by piece and spread out over the several reviews of products from that source. Going forward, I will change the format some, in order to both save myself some time, and prevent information from recurring over a series of posts. I plan to write a single post for individual estates or suppliers that will highlight their farm/business, and all the pertinent information about them, then simply link to the corresponding post in all reviews of products from that source. This will allow me to post more product reviews in less time, and give these sources their own individual spotlight. This new format will begin with Lumbini Tea Valley, whose sample package sadly appears to be stuck in UPS customs limbo as of the typing of this post.
With that being said, if you want to learn more about Herman Teas and Handunugoda Tea Estate, please simply enter “herman” into the search box on this page, and you will find all my past reviews of their other products. Most of the interesting information will be found on the first and second product review, which I believe were the Rainforest Black Tea and Ceylon Souchong Black Tea.
You can purchase a retail package of pyramid style teabags of the Sapphire Oolong Tea from the Herman Teas website for USD $11.50.
Finally, let’s get to the review…
The dry leaves have a uniform dark charcoal gray color, with a few spots of pale yellow-brown. The leaves appear to be a combination of medium to large leaf fragments, with the possibility of a few unbroken, whole leaves, and a noteworthy amount of mostly bare to entirely bare stems, some of which are quite long (between 3 to 4 inches in length). The pluck also varies, with some stems showing a two leaf pluck, some showing a Taiwan oolong pluck of three to four leaves, and some just a single leaf. The leaves are lightly rolled, and vary in appearance from long and wiry to loose and fluffy. The dark color indicates a high level of oxidation. The most remarkable part of the dry leaves in the aroma, which has unique, highly attractive scents of dark chocolate, malt, dried prunes, and forest floor.
Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 mL) cast-iron tetsubin teapot and infused with 200°F (94°C) water for 3:00 minutes.
The liquid has a gold-yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma is intoxicating, and nothing like that of the dry leaves, with amazing scents of Ceylon cinnamon, baked sweet potato, baked pumpkin, light brown sugar, and light gardenia. The body is medium, with a lively and layered texture. There is no bitterness or astringency, a touch of the briskness that Ceylon teas are known for, and an uplifting, eye opening energy. The taste has notes of Ceylon cinnamon, baked sweet potato, baked pumpkin, light gardenia, and light brown sugar. The aftertaste carries the cinnamon and sweet potato notes. I can say with complete honesty that I have never experienced a tea similar to this in terms of aroma and taste. This is absolutely phenomenal.
The infused leaves range in color from dark forest green to dark brown, with the greener leaves displaying reddish edges, indicating the relatively high level of oxidation. The blend consists of mostly large leaf fragments, with quite a few totally bare stems or mostly bare stems, and a few unbroken leaves. The leaves are fairly thin, with a smooth, rubbery texture. The bare stems display a range of plucking standards, from one leaf to four leaves, with no buds. The aroma carries the enticing scents of sweet potato, pumpkin, Ceylon cinnamon, and wet gardenia flowers.
The second aIsmelled and tasted this tea nectar, my mind immediately landed on two comparable autumn time foods: sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie. The combination of sweet potato, pumpkin, cinnamon, and brown sugar are absolutely delicious, and unlike any tea that I have smelled or tasted before. The touch of gardenia flower is just a pleasant bonus. If it were missing, this review would give no less praise to this product. The appearance and consistency of the leaves are unremarkable, and I am contributing the incredible sweetness of this tea partially to the high number of bare, large stems in the mix. However, the lack of an impressive appearance is quickly brushed off once the aroma of the liquid hits the nose, and the taste hits the tongue. I cannot recommend this tea enough to you, my readers. Order some today, and post your comments here when you are knocked off your feet by the aroma and taste.
Congratulations to Herman Teas and Handunugoda Tea Estate for their success and hard work in creating this Sapphire Oolong Tea! It is, in all honesty, an instant favorite of mine. I will be sad when the day comes that I am out of this tea, and that day is going to come sooner than later.
It is really good! Seriously.
Today, I will be reviewing the Kanchanjangha Verde Organic Green Tea from Nepal Tea, and sourced directly from Kanchanjangha Tea Estate, located in the foothills of Mount Kanchenjunga in Ranitar, eastern Nepal. See the map below showing the location of Ranitar.
You can purchase 1.7 ounces (50 grams) of this tea for USD $9.99 from the Nepal Tea website.
I have covered Nepal Tea and Kanchanjangha Tea Estate in some detail in previous reviews of their products. Just enter “Nepal” in the search box and you will see a list of previous reviews.
Let’s get to the review…
The dry leaves range in color from pale light forest green to dark forest green. The leaves appear to be mostly medium to large sized fragments, with a few small but possibly unbroken leaves in the mix. There are also some bud fragments, and a bare stem or two in the mix. The leaves are machine rolled, and appear to have minimal oxidation levels. The aroma has scents of toasted grains, dark chocolate, dry autumn leaves, and a touch of dried cherry.
Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in an 18 ounce (530 mL) cast-iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 175°F (80°C) water for 2:00 minutes.
The tea liquid had a gold-yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma had scents of cut grass, sea mist, a touch of roses, and grains. The body is full, with a lively, bright texture. There was no bitterness, and a mild astringency. The taste has notes of cut grass, mineral (salt or sea mist), grains, and a touch of roses. The aftertaste carries the vegetal and light rose notes.
The infused leaves have a fresh, forest green color, with a few leaves having reddish spots from unintended oxidation. The mix consists of mostly medium to large leaf and bud fragments. There are one or two bare stems, and a few unbroken leaves that are quite young and small. The leaves have a soft, smooth, tender texture. The aroma carries the scents of grass, sea mist or salt mineral, and lighter touches of wet grains and roses.
The Kanchanjangha Verde Organic Green Tea from Nepal Tea and Kanchangjangha Tea Estate is very nice every day drinking green tea. It has a nice amount of taste and body for a green tea, not being overwhelmingly grassy and vegetal, and not being too weak to enjoy. It has a nice touch of floral character to it, but definitely is dominated by the grassy character that is expected of a green tea. This tea also has an interesting mineral (salt or sea mist) note in the aroma and taste. This tea will not disappoint when reaching for a pleasant, classic green tea.
Thank you to the management at Nepal Tea and Kanchanjangha Tea Estate for providing this sample of Kanchanjangha Verde Organic Green Tea. Cheers!
Occasionally, I come across a sample that I pass over at first. Eventually, it comes back around, and I realize that I have not experienced such a type of tea in a really long time. That sample suddenly becomes much more interesting, and the choice of what was getting the review today became easy (for once).
In fact, as it appears, I have never actually reviewed a Baozhong (or pouchong) style oolong tea from Taiwan, where the original and best Baozhongs come from. I have tried green and black varieties from Indonesia, but none from Taiwan. Thinking further, I believe the only time I have had a Taiwanese pouchong tea was when I was studying with either World Tea Academy or International Tea Masters Association, and a basic sample was included with the study materials. That is most unfortunate, but thankfully, that run ends today.
Generally speaking, the best pouchong teas are grown in the Pinglin District, Taipei County, Taiwan. You can see the general location of the Pinglin District in the Google map below.
Wenshan Baozhong teas are lightly oxidized, usually between 6% and 12%, putting it on the green side of the oolong scale. In fact, the Taiwanese classify Baozhong tea in its own category altogether. Another characteristic of Baozhong tea that differentiates it from other oolong teas produced in Taiwan is the lightly rolled, twisted appearance of the leaves, compared to the dense, tightly compacted ball shape of most other styles of Taiwanese oolongs.
The leaves are harvested from Qing Xin cultivar bushes at an average elevation of 500 meters (1,640 feet) above sea level. These bushes can be harvested in all four seasons of the year.
Let’s get to the review…
The dry leaves have a fairly uniform color of pale forest green to pale dark forest green. The leaves consist of mostly detached (individual), whole leaves. There are a few small stems in the mix which have very little leaf attached. There are no buds or tips. The leaves are lightly rolled, giving them a relatively fluffy appearance. The color of the leaves indicates a low oxidation level. There are no signs of roasting. The aroma is incredible and pronounced, with dominant scents of Chinese cinnamon, honey, sweet butter, and dried apple. This is a very high quality and luxurious aroma.
Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an eight ounce (240 mL) bizen ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 185°F (85°C) water for 3:00 minutes. Infusion time was lowered to 2:30 on the second infusion, then 15 seconds of time were added to each subsequent infusion. In total, seven infusions were drawn from the leaves.
The first infusion has a green-gold-yellow color, perfectly clear and transparent. The later infusions took a more gold yellow color without any green. Again, the aroma is beautiful, with scents of Chinese cinnamon, honey, gardenia flowers, and apple. The body is medium, with a fresh, lively texture. There is no bitterness, and a very light astringency to the first infusion, which further dissipates in later infusions. The taste has pronounced notes of Chinese cinnamon, gardenia, apples, and honey, with maybe a light touch of sweet cream. The aftertaste carries the gardenia and apple notes, with a lingering, powerful, and noteworthy floral bouquet being left on the breath. Very impressive!
The infused leaves have a uniform fresh dark forest green color. Some of the leaves show slight reddening of the edges, some show no discoloring (oxidation) at all. The leaves are mostly individual, detached, whole leaves. There are some large leaf fragments, a few nearly bare small stems, and no tips or buds. Most of the leaves show some tearing or ripping from the rolling stage of production. The largest unbroken leaf measures in at 2 inches (50 mm) long. The leaves appear very fresh, and there is no much variance in the size. The aroma carries the attractive scents of gardenia, apple, and honey. I do not feel much of the cinnamon scent in the infused leaves.
I must say that I am very happy with my decision to focus on this Wenshan Baozhong Oolong Tea today. Luckily, I had the time to really focus and enjoy it as much as possible, because this tea deserves the drinkers full attention. This tea is highly impressive from dry leaf to the multiple infusions through the observation of the infused leaves. This tea has among the most pronounced scents and flavors of Chinese cinnamon and gardenia that I have experienced, and the scents and flavors of honey and apple beautifully compliment the cinnamon and gardenia. All seven infusions gave a very good quality of liquid, and I only wish I had more time to pull additional infusions out of these leaves. It was a true pleasure being reintroduced to the fantastic quality and character of Wenshan Baozhong Oolong Tea.
Many thanks to Fong Mong Tea for providing this sample! Cheers!
Today, I will be reviewing the flagship product of Herman Teas and Handunugoda Tea Estate. This is the Virgin White Tea. At this time, this product is offered in the pyramid teabag format or loose form for USD $36.50. Check it out here.
According to the Herman Teas website, the tea buds used in this product are not touched by human hand during production. The pickers wear gloves, and cut the buds from the tea bushes using scissors, which are gold in color to conform with tradition. The buds are then dried using filtered sunlight. That is all there is to production of this Virgin White Tea.
Herman Teas had a lab analysis at SGS in Switzerland completed on this tea, and the lab results show that this product has an antioxidant content of 10.11%. This tea is offered only at one tea salon, the Mariage Freres in central Paris.
Generally speaking, I find Sri Lankan silver needle (silver tips) teas to be notably lighter and more delicate than their better known Chinese counterparts. However, since Handunugoda is in the lower elevation Ruhuna region (Southern Province) of Sri Lanka, known for the stronger, bolder teas coming from the island, I am interested to see how this product will compare to those I have had from the Uva region, which is a mid elevation region with a vastly different climatic system, and produces more aromatic Ceylon teas.
Let’s get to the review…
The dry buds have a pale yellow color, and are covered in fine downy-like silver fuzz, with the areas nearing the stems having a charcoal gray-black color. The buds are very smooth, long, and of a medium plumpness, coming to a point at the tip. These buds are fairly similar in appearance to others I have seen from Sri Lanka and India, and still not as thick as the high quality silver needle teas from Fujian Province, China. There are no leaves or bare stems whatsoever in the mix, just whole, unbroken buds with some bud fragments. The buds are cleanly cut at the stem, evidence of the use of scissors to detach the buds from the bush, rather than hand plucking. The size of the buds is relatively uniform, with an average length of about 1.25 inches (32 mm). The aroma is interesting and light, and I find it unusually earthy, with scents of fresh white button mushrooms, hay, and touches of vanilla and coconut flesh.
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. An additional minute was added to each subsequent infusion, and a total of five infusions were prepared. The color changed rather dramatically between the first and fifth infusion, as you can see in the photos below.
The first infusion has a pale, light yellow color, clear and transparent. The later infusions become darker, having a deep gold-yellow color. The aroma has scents of honey, hay, delicate flowers, and vanilla. The body is medium, with a velvety, delicate texture to the first infusion, which becomes richer in later infusions. There is no bitterness or astringency to this tea. The taste has notes of honey, vanilla, delicate flowers, and hay. The earthy hay aroma and taste dissipate with each infusion, leaving the honey, vanilla, and delicate flowers as the dominant qualities. The aftertaste carries a delicate honey and flowers character, with a clean, refreshing finish.
The infused buds have a pale, dark forest green color, with darker brown areas near the pluck site. The buds have a soft, smooth texture. The majority appear to consist of a mature bud enveloping a younger bud. There are no leaves or bare stems in the mix. Most of the buds are whole and unbroken, but there are some bud fragments in the mix. The buds are long and fairly slender when compared to plumper Chinese silver needle teas. The aroma carries the scents of honey, vanilla, and delicate flowers.
The Virgin White Tea from Herman Teas is certainly a high quality white tea, with impressive aroma and taste. Offering a wonderful balance of honey, vanilla, and delicate floral qualities wrapped in a velvety texture, it’s difficult to imagine a tea enthusiast not loving this product. Although difficult to say with 100% certainty when not physically tasting this tea next to a silver tips tea from Uva, I do believe that this tea from Handunugoda Tea Estate does have a slightly stronger, fuller character than that of the Uva white teas, especially in the later infusions. When compared to a Fujian Chinese silver needle white tea, this Virgin White Tea is still quite delicate. I need a few fresh silver needle samples from China, India, Kenya, and Uva (Sri Lanka) to do a side by side comparison. Any vendors offering fresh white teas from those areas care to be featured in a future post? Email me, if yes.
Thank you to the management of Herman Teas and Handunugoda Tea Estate for providing this sample of Virgin White Tea! Cheers!
Today, I will be focusing my attention to the White Prakash Organic White Tea from Nepal Tea, sourced from the Kanchanjangha Tea Estate in Nepal. You can purchase 50 grams of this tea for $12.99 USD from the Nepal Tea website.
I have provided many details of Kanchanjangha Tea Estate and Nepal Tea in my previous reviews of the Kanchanjangha Noir Black Tea and the Silver Yeti White Tea. Check out those reviews to learn more about the estate, and the good works being done in that community.
Let’s get to the review…
The dry leaves vary in color widely, from pale, light green to red-brown to nearly black. There is a generous portion of fuzzy, silver-white buds in the mix. The leaves appear to consist of unbroken leaves and buds still attached to the stem, as well as some detached whole leaves and buds, and some large sized leaf and bud fragments. The pluck appears to be mostly one leaf and a fairly mature bud, or a single mature bud with no leaf. The leaves are lightly rolled, and are rather light and fluffy. The leaves have gone through the standard white tea processing method of being naturally withered, then dried, with no roasting or firing of any kind. The aroma has fresh scents of vanilla, raw pastry dough, cream, and a touch of dried wild flowers. The aroma has a luxurious character.
Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 ml) cast-iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 185°F (85°C) water for 3:00 minutes. an additional minute was added to the time on the second infusion.
The liquid has a bright, gold-yellow color. The aroma has scents of spring flowers, vanilla, and lighter touches of hay and cream or butter. The body is medium, with a smooth, layered texture, and a calming, revitalizing energy. There is no bitterness or astringency whatsoever. The taste has notes of spring flowers, vanilla, and touches of sweet hay and butter. The aftertaste carries a light floral and vanilla character. This light floral and sweet aftertaste has a very nice linger time on the breath.
The infused leaves vary in color from pale forest green dark forest green to copper-brown. The copper brown areas of the leaves reflect the natural oxidation that occurs in the leaves during withering. The leaves are fairly young and tender, with the larger leaves measuring just over one inch (25 mm) in length. There is a generous amount of fairly mature buds, mostly unbroken and whole, but some large fragments. There are no bare stems. The leaves are about half unbroken and whole, and half medium to large fragments. Again, the pluck shows a one leaf and bud pluck, or bud only pluck, and some leaves are detached from stems. After two infusions, the leaves are rather delicate, and very smooth to the touch. The aroma has scents of spring flowers and vanilla.
The White Prakash Organic White Tea is a beautiful example of this style of tea. The presence of leaves and buds, rather than the silver needle (silver tips) styles of white tea, gives this style of white tea a more rounded, fuller taste than the fairly mild and delicate character of the silver needle style. I really enjoyed the dominant scents and flavors of spring flowers and vanilla in the liquid. The aroma of the dry leaves was also incredible, with a unique scent of raw pastry dough, which gave it a nicely balanced sweetness, and complimented the vanilla scent very effectively. Although the leaves felt rather delicate after two infusions, there was much aroma and taste in the second infusion. I am confident that they could easily give a good quality third infusion, and perhaps a decent fourth infusion. The number of infusions always has a direct relationship with perceiving how worthy of the price tag a tea is. This tea is worth the price tag.
Thanks again to the management at Nepal Tea and Kanchanjangha Tea Estate for providing this sample of White Prakash Organic White Tea. Cheers!