Nonpareil Taiwan Li Shan Oolong Tea by Teavivre

Recently I’ve been going through an all-black-teas-all-the-time phase, so trying this oolong was a refreshing change. In addition to the great flavor, I also loved how intact the leaves were, and how they were rolled into neatly compact pearls.

I steeped this tea at 212 degrees for 2 minutes (using the entire sample packet). The packet suggested 1-2 minutes; I sampled it after 1 minute and decided I wanted it stronger, so I left it in for another minute.

The rolled leaves start to expand as soon as they’re submerged. They’re pretty tightly rolled, but they expand a LOT. I’m not really good at determining the level of oxidation in an oolong but I’d say it was fairly light to medium, based on the color of the leaves (and of the liquor). They seem to be high-quality, fairly intact leaves; I was able to pull out one crumpled piece and tease it open to discover that it was actually a couple of entire leaves attached to a bud by the associated stem. So cool! It makes me feel a lot closer to the plant, somehow, than when the leaves are pre-measured into a sachet and/or chopped up into eensy bits.

The tea liquor when steeped is a mid-light yellow, not quite as light as the average green tea, with that distinctive oolong-y fragrance (a bit floral and a bit savory).  

First sip: tangy. There’s a definite presence of acidic/astringent aspect. A warming, slightly roasty flavor travels over the top of the tongue while the astringency pulls at the sides of the tongue. By “roasty flavor” I mean an almost nutty, hearty savoriness. It’s not exactly roasted (and certainly not smoky) but it’s a very hearty presence with more depth than just the floral/orchid oolonginess.

The flavor is overall quite smooth with no noticeable bitterness. This smoothness combines with the savoriness to give an almost buttery impression. There’s maybe a tiny bit of mineral-y-ness as well, combining with the green (in a good vegetal sort of way) and slightly roasty/hearty/buttery flavor to create a very satisfying flavor profile. 

The tea is fairly sweet already, so I added just a pinch of sugar. I don’t usually prefer milk with oolongs, so I didn’t add any. I imagine you could re-steep this tea with good results as well, based on the quality of the leaves. 

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Oolong
Where to Buy:  Teavivre

The Nonpareil Taiwan DaYuLing High Mountain Cha Wang Oolong Tea is grown in the area at the altitude of 2500 meters, in which the climate is cold and forests grow well. This cold and moisture condition is suitable for tea trees’ growth. In addition, the soil here is fertile, meanwhile performs well in drainage. Thus the tea leaves carry a natural scent of flower and fruit.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Wild Black Tea from Teabook

 TeaBoolTea Information:

Leaf Type: Black

Where to Buy: Teabook

Tea Description:

Our red tea comes from Yunnan, Fujian, and Hunan provinces in China. The original name for black tea is red tea because of the general color of the infusion; it is still referred to as red tea in China today. Flavors that can define red tea are often robust, woodsy, or toasted and might have notes of walnut, raisin and chocolate. From a health perspective, some studies have established that red (black) tea may help protect lungs from exposure to cigarette smoke; new studies are starting to look at its possible role in helping to reduce the risk for stroke. Black is aggressively rolled/shaped during the processing to bring out its distinct flavors and aromas and are fully oxidized, thus creating darker deeper teas with more tannins (astringency).

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I love the idea and concept behind Teabook and have really thought about getting a subscription. I love the convenience factor of having my loose leaf already measured out for me in convenient packaging. Such an alluring idea and so far I’ve enjoyed the teas I’ve tried.

And this one is no exception! This is another great offering from the Teabook. This particular offering is a Dian Hong from Lincang, Yunnan Province, China.

Brewed up with water at 195F and allowed to steep for about 3 minutes, this tea is giving me a gorgeous spot on black tea flavor that is woods, smooth, slightly astringent, with a lovely malty flavor running thru every sip! Such a well balanced tea. Really love how complex the tea is but yet so simple. Crisp and lovely!

This would be fabulous offering for the cool brisk spring evenings that are coming our way. I really like this one! This may have been the tea that gets me to subscribe!


Passion Dragon Green Tea from Mountain Witch Tea Co.

passiondragonTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy: Mountain Witch Tea Company

Tea Description:

Passion Dragon Green Tea is one of our bestsellers at the farmer’s market. Green tea flavored with passion fruit, lemon and a pop of spice. Especially great as an iced tea. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Being such a fan of Mountain Witch Tea Company, I couldn’t wait to try another green tea of theirs.  I have had a couple in the past but have found that I tend to like their flavored black teas better than their flavored green teas.

First off, I love the logo for this tea.  The beautiful artwork is so fun and really eye catching. The loose leaf tea is the same way.  The gorgeous green tea looks amazing along side the giant chrysanthemum that was in my sample.

Brewed up like a green tea, this tea sent a lovely tropical green tea aroma thru my desk.  I really loved how this tea smelled. First taste and sadly this tea is not for me.

This tea delivers on a nice bright green tea flavor but there is an odd taste in there that makes this tea tart and not taste right to me.  I’m not getting lovely buttery notes or any of the berry/passion flavors.  I pick up the lemon and the cardamom and something else I can’t really put my finger on.  What I can really pick up on is how very astringent this tea is.  This tea may be one that needs to be cold brewed or enjoyed more as an iced tea to get those flavors to mingle together and give that passion fruit a chance to pop.  Another one that I might need to go back and experiment with.

As much as I adore Mountain Witch Tea Company, I know this tea can be dynamite.  Just need to figure out the best way to get those flavors to work for me.

Earl’s Paradise Black Tea by Bluebird Tea Co.

earl_s_paradiseTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Bluebird Tea Co.

Tea Description:

Earl Grey loose leaf tea blend with a papaya + strawberry twist. No one at The Nest (Bluebird HQ!) can start the day without a cup of this fruity, refreshing tea. Didn’t think you could improve the classic? We will happily prove you wrong! No words are gong to do it justice, it simply is paradise! Insiders tip: try it without milk for perfection.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Bluebird Tea Co. kindly provided a 2-cup sachet of this tea as a sample with my last order. Naturally, I was instantly curious! It’s a fruity Earl Grey with Ceylon as the base tea, and I can imagine the citrus notes Ceylon can possess working well here. The dry leaf is in reasonably small pieces, and mostly a fairly uniform black although there are a few lighter, reddish-brown, leaves scattered throughout. The fruit here is papaya and strawberry, and I can see tiny freeze-dried pieces of both in the dry mix, although not in quantity. It’s literally just a piece here and there. There are also a few lime leaf pieces, which add an extra hint of colour. Dry, the scent is typical Earl Grey, with sharp notes of bergamot. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium red-brown. I made no additions, although judging from the colour of the brew, I can imagine this one standing up well to milk after perhaps a 3 or 4 minute steep.

To taste, this one is deceptively fruity! It’s hard to imagine, from the scent and appearance of the dry leaf, but it is the case! The initial flavour is all strawberry, and it’s deliciously creamy. It almost reminds me of strawberry milkshake! It’s a fairly candy-like strawberry, and not as natural tasting as some, but it steers well clear of artificial. There’s a hint of jasmine in the mid-sip which adds a heady richness, although fortunately it remains on the right side of floral for my tastes. The bergamot emerges mostly towards the end of the sip, and it is quite sharp. This is not a tea for bergamot haters, by any means! There’s also a bite of astringency from the Ceylon base, and together the combination is rather jarring, especially when contrasted with the sweet, creamy, fruitiness of the initial sip. That’s a slight disappointment to me, because I rarely have trouble with astringency when drinking Ceylon – it’s one of my favourite black tea varieties for that reason. As the tea cools, however, some of the astringency wears away and it becomes more palatable. This being the case, I’m starting to think that Earl’s Paradise might work better as a cold brew. At the very least, it needs to cool a little before drinking for the best experience. Possibly milk would help to smooth the edges on this one, although some Earl Grey purists might disagree. The other disappointment with this one is the lack of papaya – I just can’t taste it at all. The strawberry is so nice that it’s not a huge problem, but it is a little one-note. More so than perhaps it was intended to be.

This is a love/hate cup for me. There are things I adore about it (creamy strawberry, yes please!), and things I could really do without (astringency, intense sharpness of the bergamot). For this reason, I’m not wholeheartedly behind it. I think the idea of a fruity Earl Grey is a really nice one – it’s different, for sure. I’m just not sure that Bluebird have quite managed to pull it off. It’s close, but it’s not perfection. One tea can’t please everyone, though, and this blend does have a lot to recommend it. It’s definitely one for Earl Grey (and strawberry!) lovers to try.