Castleton Autumnal Wonder (2013) from Darjeeling Tea Lovers


Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Darjeeling Tea Lovers

Tea Description:


Clonal teas from CASTLETON TEA ESTATE have always been special and rare. One of the most difficult tea to source due to its high demand.

This tea comes from pure AV – 2 bushes which have been very finely plucked during the early mornings (before sunrise) when the dew is present on the leaves. The dew adds more prominent floral flavour to this rare tea. A tea full of fruity floral notes, the aroma of brewed leaves is enough to make your mouth water.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I absolutely LOVE the aroma of these dry leaves!  They are sweet and distinctly floral with notes of fruit.  The brewed tea smells a bit less floral and more fruity than the dry leaves.  There is a slight herbaceous note to the aroma as well, reminding me somewhat of basil.

I love the way the fruit and flower flavors meld.  The floral tones are softer in taste than the fruit notes, the fruit notes are profound!  There is a muscatel note (grape!) and hints of crisp apple and every once in a while, I swear I could also taste a whisper of apricot in there too.  The grape-y notes give this an almost wine-ish taste, complete with a slightly dry finish.  The dryness is not abrupt, it’s a smooth finish.

The floral notes are much more subtle, but they offer a nice sweetness to this as well.  The aforementioned herbaceous notes translate only slightly to the taste, and I notice these more in the aftertaste than in the actual sip.  I draw in a breath across the palate, and I experience a cooling sensation, as if I had one of those tiny mints.  (You know which ones I’m talking about, right?)  The palate feels clean after a sip.

If you’re a fan of Darjeeling teas, you really need to try some teas from Darjeeling Tea Lovers!  Their Darjeeling selections are top-notch, I’m always impressed with the teas that I try from them.

Goomtee Autumnal Classic Autumn Flush 2013 Black Tea from Darjeeling Tea Lovers


Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Darjeeling Tea Lovers

Tea Description:

This special lot from Goomtee comes from the super fine plucking of China classic plants which usually produce teas with sweet almondy qualities. The woody bouquet makes it a highly sought-after Autumn Flush Tea.

This is a very sweet and relaxing tea, with strong almondy and vanilla aromas. The taste is pleasantly sweet, with a stronger almond flavour coming through, followed eventually by the familiar earthy flavours.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Oh!  The aroma that wafts from my teacup at the moment is absolutely delightful!  This Goomtee Autumnal Classic from Darjeeling Tea Lovers smells amazing!

This tea really does have a strong almond and vanilla essence!  It’s quite remarkable!  It’s a pure, unflavored tea but with a truly remarkable flavor that evokes thoughts of something warm and baked, like a vanilla almond cake.  YUM!

There is more to this cup, of course.  Pleasant earthy notes with a woodsy tone provide a satisfying background of flavor while the creamy, sweet vanilla and nutty almond notes play in the foreground.  It is sweet and enjoyable.

The sip starts out with a sweetness that is at first, difficult to distinguish.  After a moment, my palate recognizes this flavor as sweet vanilla with almond.  As the sip progresses, I start to notice the woodsy tones with a mellow earthy note.  At the finish, the almond comes in strong, and it ends with a lovely creaminess.  This tea has a light astringency to it that seems to cleanse the palate a little so that the creaminess doesn’t feel heavy or overwhelming to the palate.  The aftertaste is sweet and lightly creamy.

A really enjoyable tea.  I’m so happy to have more teas from Darjeeling Tea Lovers in my stash!

Li Li Xiang Anxi Wulong 2013 Oolong Tea from Seven Cups

lilixiangTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Seven Cups

Tea Description:

The name “Li Li Xiang” means each leaf is fragrant. Most versions on the market are made from a blend of several tea bushes such as huang dan, ben shan ,mao xie and tie guan. This year we are excited to introduce Li Li Xiang made purely from leaves of the Tie Guan Yin Bush. Experience the stronger dark chocolate aroma, rich lightly roasted flavor and complex aftertaste of this high quality tea. While this tea’s level of oxidation is similar to other Anxi teas like Monkey Picked, it has undergone more intense roasting in its processing. This stronger roast gives Li Li Xiang a golden liquor color and a flavor that is reminiscent of Anxi’s traditional style. The interesting flavor and affordable price makes this a great everyday wulong tea.

Learn more about this tea here.

Subscribe to Steepster Select here.

Taster’s Review:

The aroma of the dry leaf of this Li Li Xiang Anxi Wulong 2013 Oolong Tea from Seven Cups was very interesting to me, it had a fragrance that was familiar – smelling of a top-notch Tie Guan Yin Oolong – but, the scent was much more intense than I have experienced with other Tie Guan Yin Oolong teas that I’ve tried.  It smelled very lush and “green” but there were also some very intriguing notes of raw chocolate.  The brewed tea loses much of this aroma, smelling mostly of vegetation, but there are some faint hints of raw chocolate if I really focus on the scent.

The raw chocolate notes translate – surprisingly! – to the flavor, and what a delightful surprise that was.  I’m not sure if it’s because I was smelling the chocolate in the aroma that my palate simply wanted to taste the chocolate but … it still took me aback because I’m not used to experiencing chocolate from a pure Oolong like this.

The vegetal notes are present too, but they meld with the other flavors of the cup.  I taste notes of flower and peach, with hints of toasted nut in the distance.  There is a creaminess to the cup too.  This creaminess reminds me a bit of vanilla, but it’s not quite a sweet as vanilla.  I like how the creaminess complements the notes of cacao.

My second cup (infusions 3 and 4) was even more delightful than the first.  The vegetal notes are softer now, and the fruit notes are emerging.  The floral notes blend in with the fruit notes and I like the flavor that the two produce together.  The notes of vanilla remain although this isn’t quite as creamy as the first cup.  I’m still noticing the subtle raw cacao notes.

With my third cup (infusions 5 and 6) the flavors were beginning to soften a bit.  This is still a very flavorful cup, but, I don’t think that I’ll continue to infuse this tea for a fourth cup.   I taste a sweet peach/apricot note mingling with the floral notes.  The vanilla is less discernable now, and I taste very little cacao as well.

This is a really wonderful tea.  One of the very best Tie Guan Yin I’ve ever tasted!

Fengqing Wild Tree Yesheng Raw Pu-erh Tea Cake 2013 from Teavivre

Fengqing Wild Tree YeshengTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  Teavivre

Tea Description:

This raw pu-erh cake is grown and produced in Fengqing, Yunnan, which is the origin place of DianHong black tea. This Wild Tree Yesheng Raw Pu-erh Cake is harvest in spring of 2013. Between March to May, after harvesting the fresh leaves, tea workers will process them: fixation, rolling, drying, sifting, and then store the leaves in carton boxes.

As the workers use iron pan for fixation, and roll the tea with their hands, the leaves do not have good looks as machine-made leaves. Yet regarding on quality, this Wild Tree Yesheng Pu-erh Cake is a green food from nature, in the mists and clouds on high mountains. It is a tea worth being in your collection list.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The dry leaf aroma of this 2013 Fengqing Wild Tree Yesheng Raw Pu-erh Tea Cake from Teavivre is almost non-existent.  This surprised me, only because I’m used to Pu-erh having some aroma, but I didn’t smell much of anything when I smelled the dry leaf.

Conversely, the wet leaves have a strong vegetal scent to them that immediately made me think of peas.  Granted, peas are not my favorite vegetable (that’s putting it mildly) and because of that, they are not a food that I’m smelling on a regular basis.  But when I smelled these wet leaves, green peas is what came to mind.

For those of you who are like me: timid when it comes to Pu-erh tea because of that strong, earthy and sometimes fishy taste and smell, you can rest assured that you won’t experience that with this Pu-erh.  This is a very young Pu-erh, and it tastes much more like a green tea to me than it does a Pu-erh.

It has a vegetal taste, but it’s a remarkably smooth vegetal note.  It doesn’t have that “crisp” or “lively” sort of vegetative taste that you might experience with a typical green tea.  Instead, this has a very mellow vegetative taste.  It doesn’t taste grassy.  It tastes like mild steamed vegetables:  like spinach, perhaps, only milder and sweeter.

There is a buttery note to this too, something I don’t typically experience with a Pu-erh.  So, imagine that aforementioned extra mild, sweet spinach, topped with mushrooms that have been lightly sauteed in butter and then topped with thinly sliced almonds … only the almonds are raw.  It has that sort of creamy, buttery taste that you might experience with a raw almond.

Later infusions brought out more savory flavors to the vegetal tones.  Notes of salt and seaweed were contrasted by some newly emerging fruity notes.  The flavor becomes deeper and more complex with each new infusion.

I like in “wild tree” teas like this that I can almost taste the “wild” in them.  There is a note to these teas that I don’t often find in the more conventional farm grown teas.

I would recommend this Pu-erh to those new to Pu-erh so that they can experience some “different” Pu-erh teas, as well as fans of green tea.  It’s a really unique tea experience … one definitely worth trying.

Jasmine Pearl Select 2013 Green Tea from Steepster

jasmineTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Steepster Select

Tea Description:

Picked from the Da Bai Hao cultivar, this high grade green tea is gently picked and hand rolled. The tea is then meticulously dried with fresh jasmine to impart its distinct floral aroma and flavor.

Taster’s Review:

This Jasmine Pearl Select 2013 Green Tea from Steepster is the fifth tea from my February Steepster Select box – and I figured I better get busy and review it because my March box arrived yesterday.

I love Jasmine Pearls, so I was very happy to receive these as part of February’s box.  Over on Steepster, most of the tasting notes about this jasmine tea are positive, but I did read one tasting note that suggest that the jasmine notes are too strong, I would disagree with that, because I think that the jasmine here is just right.  Then again, I believe that the flavor is very reliant upon how it’s steeped.

I steeped this in my gaiwan, using short steeps (a 15 second rinse, followed by a 45 second infusion, and adding 15 seconds onto each subsequent infusion).  I kept infusing until my yixing mug was full – it usually takes five infusions.

The result is a cup of jasmine paradise!  The jasmine tastes soft, sweet and exotic, and melds beautifully with the sweet notes of green tea.  The green tea is very light and has a subtle grassy taste.  It is a delightfully floral cup.

A really wonderful Jasmine.