Nonpareil Yunnan Dian Hong Ancient Wild Tree Black Tea from Teavivre

Dian Hong Ancient Wild TreeTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Teavivre

Tea Description:

This Ancient Wild Tree black tea comes from Fengqing, Yunnan. The tea garden is at 2000 meters high, is renowned as a good place of growing good tea.

The local tea tree is Fengqing large leaf species, can produce thick tea leaf. Our Ancient Wild Tree black tea then has large, strong leaves. The dry tea is glossy and dark, covered with thin pekoes. Its full aroma and bold taste can be revealed when brewed, as well as the particular strong taste which brings a characteristic of raw pu-erh to this black tea.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’m always happy to try a tea from Teavivre, because I know that the tea is going to be good.  Not just good, but excellent!  I can’t recall ever having tried a tea from Teavivre that I’ve been disappointed by, and this Nonpareil Yunnan Dian Hong Ancient Wild Tree Black Tea is no exception.  This is lovely.

The flavor is rich and smooth.  There is a delightful honeyed flavor to the cup and this honey-like flavor is further highlighted by the thick texture of the tea.

There is no bitterness to this tea and it’s very smooth with very little astringency.  By mid-cup, I started to notice a slight dryness to the finish.  So there is some astringency and it does develop but even by the end of the cup, the astringency is very slight.

It’s earthy with notes of leather and hints of mushroom.  This is a wild tree tea and I can almost taste the ‘wild’ in the tea.  It’s beautifully complex, with the sweet notes of raisin and plum, hints of flower in the distance and of course, the aforementioned honey notes.  I like the balance between the savory notes – earth, spice notes that develop as I sip and leather – and the sweetness.

Yet another tea from Teavivre that I can enthusiastically recommend to any tea drinker.  This is marvelous.

Organic Ancient Phoenix Pu-erh Tea from Butiki Teas

da631ba0fdbc3728ba63bc2414a236b6Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  Butiki Teas

Tea Description:

Our Organic Ancient Phoenix Puerh originates from a sustainable farm on Wuliang Mountain in China and is handpicked by the Yi tribe of Yunnan. This Shou (ripe) puerh was harvested in 2011 from organic ancient trees. The tea is pressed into cakes using only skilled hands and a unique fragrant wood. Organic Ancient Phoenix Puerh is smooth and rich with raw cocoa, oak, and sweet tobacco notes. This high quality tea can handle a substantial amount of infusions.

Read more about this tea on Steepster.

Taster’s Review:

A few weeks ago, Butiki Teas announced on Steepster that it was closing permanently very soon.  I was very sad about this announcement because Butiki Teas is one of my favorite purveyors.  So, I started sorting through my stash to see if I had any teas on hand from Butiki that I had not yet reviewed so that I could offer a goodbye to one of my favorite tea companies here on SororiTea Sisters – and this is the tea that I found.  So, yeah, this tea is no longer available from Butiki Teas, but this review is less about the tea for me and more about offering a heartfelt farewell to a wonderful tea company.

And this Ancient Phoenix Pu-erh is absolutely lovely.  It doesn’t surprise me, because I can’t say that I’ve had anything from Butiki that I wasn’t impressed with!  (Which is why I’m sad to see them go!)

These tiny Pu-erh cakes are about the size (in diameter) of a quarter although they’re a bit thicker than a coin.  It makes portioning rather simple, I just dropped one of the “coins” into my gaiwan and covered it with hot water (190°F) for 15 seconds to awaken the leaves.  Then I strained and discarded the liquid.  I poured the water over the coin – which is already starting to break apart – and infused it for a minute.  Then I poured the tea into my teacup and enjoyed.  Pu-erh offers multiple infusions and this was just the first of many cups that I’d enjoy this evening.

My first cup is sweet.  It’s almost a sugary sweetness.  There are notes of earth to the cup as well, but the sweetness is stronger than the earthy qualities.  (I like that in a pu-erh!)  It’s a very soft tasting tea, this first cup.  Much softer than I’m used to from a pu-erh.  There are light spice notes.

The second cup was also steeped for 1 minute.  Usually, I add 15 seconds onto the steep time but that wasn’t needed here.  This has a much deeper flavor.  Some of the earthy notes have emerged now.  I’m still getting those spice notes I mentioned with the first cup, as well as the sweetness.  I taste notes of leather and cacao and wood.  This is a very complex cup.  Very smooth.  No astringency.  No bitterness.

The third cup – well, the third cup and I didn’t really agree.  I steeped it for a full minute again and I found it to be a little reminiscent of a thick cup of coffee.  Not a good coffee either.  Kind of like a tar-like coffee you might find in one of those 24-hour truck stop diners that don’t get a lot of traffic so the coffee’s been sitting there for the last six or seven hours.  I found it interesting that at least one of the tasters of this tea on Steepster experienced a less than favorable third infusion as well.  Weird.

So, I tossed that cup and went for infusion #4.  This time, rather than setting a timer, I just watched the color and when the color was dark I poured it.  I would estimate that the fourth infusion was about 20 seconds.  Much better than infusion #3, this is earthy, kind of mushroom-y, with notes of leather and cacao.  I am picking up an undertone of molasses-like sweetness.  A very smooth, mellow and deeply flavored cup.

I kept on steeping.  I found that by the fifth cup, this had become a very pleasant tea.  This is a tea that you can’t really set a timer – you just need to watch it.  When the color becomes dark, it’s time to pour and enjoy.  Sweet with notes of spice.  Cacao!  The earthy notes are starting to become less prominent and allowing the sweeter characteristics to come forward.

As I sip this tea, I raise my cup to the greatness that is Butiki Teas.  I recommend to all of you – if you haven’t yet tried any of this company’s teas, shop now before you lose that opportunity.  I will miss you, Butiki Teas!

2005 Lao Lin Cang Ancient Arbor Sheng Pu-erh Tea from Life in Teacup


Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  Life in Teacup

Tea Description:

Production Year – 2005
Season – Spring
Production Region – Yunnan
Factory – Lao Lin Cang Tea Factory
Style – Sheng

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review: 

The dry leaf aroma of this 2005 Lao Lin Cang Ancient Arbor Sheng Pu-erh Tea from Life in Teacup is a gentle, earthy scent.  Generally, I find myself kind of put off by the strong earthy notes of Pu-erh but, this is such a subtle earth scent that I’m not finding it off-putting at all, and the sweet tones are very intriguing.

I steeped this the way I would typically steep a Pu-erh – in my gaiwan.  I steeped the first infusion for 45 seconds (following a quick 15 second rinse), and the flavor was earthy and sweet, with a woodsy note to it that is sweet.  There are hints of a fruit-like note to this as well.  It’s a mellow tea with a pleasant sweetness.  There is also a cleansing astringency to this that I don’t usually find in a pu-erh.

The second (1 minute) infusion delivered a flavor that is less earthy and more sweet.  The woodsy note has developed and I am tasting more of the fruit taste now too.  The finish is sweet and the aftertaste is clean.

The next two infusions, I noticed that the earthy tones began to develop, and these tones meld together with the fruit and woodsy notes, and are softened by the sweetness.  Subsequent infusions, some of the earthiness begins to taper, and I find a nice balance of fruit and sweet wood tones.

Overall, a pleasant Sheng – mellow and relaxing.  The sweetness of this one keeps me sipping!

Vietnam Shan Tuyet Black Tea from Upton Tea Imports


Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Upton Tea Imports

Tea Description:

This fully oxidized Shan tea (or Mountain Tea) is produced from ancient tea trees from the Northern Highlands of Vietnam. The dark leaves are decorated with a modest amount of tips. The liquor is a rich amber color with a smooth, clean taste and a lightly sweet finish.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’m sure it’s pretty obvious by now that I enjoy trying new teas … and I especially enjoy trying teas from other parts of the world.  I mean, Japan, China and India are pretty well known for their tea production, but, when I’m presented with an opportunity to try teas from other countries – like this Vietnam Shan Tuyet Black Tea from Upton Tea Imports – I jump at the chance.  Not just because the tea is “new to me” but also because even though I’ve been drinking tea for a long time now, I am still quite amazed at how different one tea can taste so different from another, based upon little else other than the location where they are grown.  It’s really very interesting.

I’ve tried a few Vietnamese teas by now, but, they still feel fairly new to me … they feel different to me.  They definitely taste different than teas from other parts of the world.  There are certain similarities, of course … and I’m liking this tea not only for its similarities but its differences.

It is a smooth, rich tea with an interesting finish that reminds me vaguely of a coffee taste.  You know that deep roasted taste that hits the palate when you take a sip of coffee, that warm, delicious, roasted tone that sits upon the palate at the finish?  That’s what I’m tasting here.  And since I don’t drink coffee – I used to enjoy the taste of coffee but I didn’t enjoy the sickly feeling it would give me a few hours later – it’s quite pleasurable to find teas that have a coffee-like taste to them.

The sip starts with a sweet, earthy tone that transcends into the aforementioned coffee-like taste.  The finish is slightly dry and astringent, and the aftertaste is clean.  My palate feels like it’s ready for another sip … this tea keeps me drinking, and it’s a tasty tea until the very last sip.

Organic Ancient Green Tuo Cha Pu-Erh Tea from Arbor Teas


Tea Information:

Leaf Type: Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  Arbor Teas

Tea Description:

This compressed Green Pu-erh is made with top-quality sun-dried buds from the antique tea trees of the Jing Mai Mangjing region of China’s southwest Yunnan province.  Many of these tea trees range from 800 to 1200-years-old with the eldest exceeding 1300-years-old! The flavor of this organic Chinese tea is mildly sweet with a character of gentle white and green teas. This Pu-erh is created using the traditional sheng processing techinque and aged for eight years.  The infusion of this exquisite organic tea is light brown with a rose hue, yielding the flavor and aroma of malted grains and sweet apples. The faintest hint of earthiness that is characteristic of organic pu-erh tea can also be detected. Each tuo cha is individually wrapped and perfect for a medium sized teapot or can be broken apart to accommodate a single serving.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Wow!  This Organic Ancient Green Tuo Cha Pu-Erh Tea from Arbor Teas is one of the nicest and most unusual Tuo Cha Pu-Erh Teas I’ve yet to taste.   

The dry appearance of the Tuo Cha is the first thing that took me by surprise … it doesn’t look like the typical Tuo Cha … the leaves are green and yellow-ish (like straw!) and it looks a bit more to me like hay that has been compressed into bails than it does a Pu-erh Tuo Cha.  The aroma is quite different too, normally, I experience a strong earthy note from Pu-erh, but the aroma here is rather mild.

The flavor of the first infusion is just as mild as the fragrance.  And I’m liking this mellow attitude that I’m getting from this tea.  It is light and sweet, reminding me more of a gentle green tea or perhaps a delicate white tea than a Pu-erh.  It doesn’t taste earthy, brine-y or fish-y or any other flavors that are often associated with Pu-erh.  It is vaguely reminiscent of the flavor I’d get if I were to sip the simmering water from a pot of farro rather than what I would normally taste from a Pu-erh, and I’ve got to tell you … I like that a whole lot!

The second infusion offers a slightly deeper flavor.  The flavor is a little more earthy … but again, it’s not the same kind of “earth” note I’d get from a typical Pu-erh.  This is more like the earthiness I’d taste from a Shou Mei white.  Sweet, almost hay-like.  Notes of flower to this cup as well.  There is a slight dryness to this infusion that I didn’t experience with the first infusion.  Where I liked the mild, mellow flavor of the first cup, I’m liking the sweet, white tea-like flavor of this second cup … I like that this tea has different things to show me as I take this tea journey.

The third infusion is my favorite so far!  The flavor is sweet and has a distinct fruit-like taste to it.  The above description suggests notes of apple, and I’d agree with that … there are hints of the sweet apple-y notes as well as whisper of tartness.  Nice contrast.  The earthiness is no longer present, this is much more like a hay-ish taste, with notes of the aforementioned farro and the fruit tones.  A crisp, light sweetness to this cup.  Very nice!

And this tea is still going strong!  I like that this tea offers me a taste of the lighter side of Pu-erh … it is smooth and sweet, but it is much crisper and more delicate than the typical Pu-erh tea.  If you are a fan of Pu-erh and are looking for something a little different, you should give this one a try.  On the other hand, if you typically find Pu-erh to be a little too earthy or brine-y for your liking … this one will change your mind about Pu-erh!

A really delightful Pu-erh!