Toasty and Floral: Keemun Black Tea from The Tea Spot. . . .

Fine quality, unflavored black tea always makes me feel like a serious tea aficionado.  So I brewed up a cup of Keemun black tea from the Tea Spot and put my semi-professional tea-hat on.  Keemun tea is a well-known black tea from China.  The leaves are dark, with medium length and medium twists in shape.  No extra blossoms or fuzzy buds, just deep, rich tea leaves.  Dry, in the bag, the tea smells earthy and musky, very complex.

The Tea Spot describes this tea as having notes of “smoky pine, orchid, crushed apple.”  I was very intrigued. Brewed, the keemun has a much sweeter taste alongside the damp earth tones, which must be the “crushed apple” flavors coming through.  The earthiness is not as strong or overwhelming as sour pu erh tea, but more lush, like wet leaves or freshly-turned soil.  There is a touch of the “orchid” floral notes in the scent of the tea, but I don’t notice it as much in the taste.

The more I drink the tea, the more a toasty, almost-caramel aftertaste starts to appear.  And despite all my talk of savory, masculine flavors, there is a hint of a brighter note, more reminiscent of breakfast teas, with a lighter, almost lemony tone.

There is a lot going on in this tea, and lots of details to savor and enjoy.  For mornings when you want to feel sophisticated and expand your tea palette, you can’t go wrong with Keemun from the Tea Spot.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: The Tea Spot
Description: A splendor of toasty flavor and aroma! The most refined and perhaps the most well-known of Chinese black teas, this Keemun is handpicked in Anhui Province. This tea has an indescribable flavor, with the most delicate hints of smoky pine, orchid, crushed apple and a rich, sweet body.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Nonpareil Anxi Qing Yiang Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea by Teavivre . . . . .

I steeped about half the sample packet (or a little over half) in about 10 ounces of water at 212 degrees for about 6 minutes.

It smells indisputably delicious as it starts to brew. Buttery, creamy, smooth, and rich. Also a tiny bit seaweedy/vegetal/grassy, but that’s subsumed by the butteriness.

The packet says to brew 4-10 minutes, which means it’s probably great for resteeping since you only need to steep it about 5-6 minutes in my experience (and with a little less water it would be less). So if you’re in the mood to re-steep, this might be a good choice for you. (As opposed to when you’re on the road or something and resteeping isn’t convenient.)

I started out using a tea ball to contain the leaves, but after a couple of minutes it became clear that wasn’t going to work out because they were just expanding too much so I let them out. Next time I’d just put them directly in the water or use a brew basket. That way I’d be able to watch them unroll too, which is always fun.

After steeping, I ended up with a nice light yellowish-green liquid (hard to say the exact shade though because I was using a green mug). It smells the tiniest bit flowery in addition to the buttery flavor.

The combo of green and creamy flavors reminds me a bit of matcha actually, although it’s gentler here and less vegetal in flavor. This is a very well-rounded flavor profile, with the bright, floral, and creamy notes complementing each other in a balanced and enjoyable fashion. Each sip is amazing. The floral bit catches your nose as you go to take a sip; the creaminess is there the whole time, and you taste the green/vegetal bit during the sip, and afterwards there’s even a slightly sweet aftertaste. And I don’t even prefer unroasted oolongs as a rule, so I’m extremely impressed with this tea and how much I enjoyed it! Teavivre has done an amazing job with this one as usual!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Oolong
Where to Buy:  Teavivre

This tea is no longer available but click below for teas that are available.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Golden Monkey from Tea N Joy. . . .

Today’s tea sample is from a company called Tea N Joy. I’ve never tried teas from this tea company before, so I’m excited to see how it goes! This should be fun!
So I steeped this tea for around 2.5 minutes, using a heaping 1/2 tbsp and 10 oz of near-boiling water. It started to give off a nice malty smell right away.
I should describe the tea leaves, too; they’re big, well-defined, long twisty thin leaves with gold tips! Wonderful. They look very high-quality. I love it when my tea has entire tea leaves in it, especially when they’re this beautiful! According to Tea ‘N Joy’s website, it’s because only the very tip of each growing sprig is used in this tea; only the bud and one adjacent leaf.
As the tea steeps, it gains a rich, full fragrance with a slight edge to it and lovely chocolate notes.The tea liquid itself is a darkish copper-amber color.
First sip: Sweet, malty, and pleasant. In fact, it’s so sweet that I’d say it almost has a honey-like flavor. And, as the fragrance implied, it also has strong cocoa notes, not just while steeping but also while sipping.


Tea ‘N Joy’s website claims that this is a super-high-quality tea, and I tend to totally agree with that assessment. In fact, I’m tempted to place an order right now just so I can continue enjoying a premium-quality cup of this tea on a regular basis. <3


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Tea N Joy

Golden Monkey Tea is hand-processed each spring with a careful plucking of only one leaf and one bud. It is among the finest Chinese Black Teas available today. A rich, full-bodied Tea. The name comes from its unique appearance: the leaves resemble monkey claws. Sweet and very ‘nosy’ with the aromas of: savory roasted apples, cocoa and spice notes that linger as you sip. Rich, coating texture and very smooth, soft mouth-feel. Delicate, almost indistinguishable astringency.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Green Style Dong Ding (oolong) by Fong Mong Tea

Steeping specs: 3 grams per half cup at 175° for five minutes

While steeping this tea, I didn’t observe much color change. The leaves unfurled quite a bit, having started out as small pills or pearls, but the tea liquid didn’t seem to change color all that much. However, after I removed the tea leaves, I could see that there was a gentle peach color to the liquid. It’s very light and transparent, not dark or strong-looking at all. What is remarkable, though, is the lovely roasted smell (disproportionately strong given how light the color is) and the high-quality leaves; after the leaves unfurled I could tell that they were highly intact and well preserved. And I could smell the wonderful roasted oolong fragrance long before tasting the tea itself.

At the first sip I’m detecting plenty of roast, plenty of nose, and a flavor that’s almost heading towards bitter but just barely managing to avoid it. Of course, I did steep the leaves about five degrees hotter than recommended, because my variable temperature kettle only has so many increments, so that could have something to do with it.

This turned out to be a tasty, toasty oolong with a very enjoyable balance between buttery and nutty flavors and a somewhat astringent feel. The liquid is not viscous or dark but still has plenty of flavor. This tea is also great with just a touch of sugar, which tames down the astringent effect a bit and brings out the floral aspect that was a bit buried under the roasted flavor before the sugar was added.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Oolong
Where to Buy:  Fong Mong Tea

The hand-plucked leaves of Dong Ding Oolong are grown in the Dong Ding region of Taiwan at the elevation of 740 meters. At this elevation, the leaves absorb moisture from the surrounding fog and clouds every morning and afternoon which is ideal for Oolong plants. Due to the unique geographic location and stringent selection of leaves, this is the finest Dong Ding Oolong from the Dong Ding estate.

Dong Ding is well known of producing fine tea-Dong Ding Oolong Tea. Traditional baking technique by artisans and proper fermentation and baking procedure create an unforgettable extremely perfect flavor. Firstly tasted mellow with strong fragrance and then a sweet aftertaste quickly rising from the throat makes it famous for decades to all over the world. Drinking Dong Ding Oolong Tea is definitely an enjoyable lifestyle and also the exclusive choice for all tea lovers

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Anxi Tie Guan Yin from Teasenz

I can’t remember the last time I drank a Tie Guan Yin, which is something of a surprise as it’s become one of my favourite oolong varieties. I was more than pleased when I came across this one, not least because it’s a good opportunity to reacquaint myself. This particular Tie Guan Yin is from the Anxi Nature Reserve in Fujian Province, a major Chinese tea growing region (although one I seem to associate more with black tea than with oolong, strangely enough!)

tie_guan_yin_wulong_tea_1I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in water slightly cooled from boiling. The resulting liquor is a clear, pale green with a light yellowish tinge. The leaves are beautifully variegated, encompassing pretty much all shades of green from the palest to the darkest, and just a hint of brown. It’s like walking through a forest in the sunlight! The leaves are rolled, and after three minutes they haven’t entirely unfurled, suggesting that this one might be good for at least another couple of steeps.

The scent of the brewed tea is light but noticeably floral. It reminds me primarily of orchids, lilies, and jasmine – heady, scent-heavy flowers. This carries through into the taste, which initially is very heavily floral. So floral, it almost tastes thick. It doesn’t cross over into territory that’s too perfumey or cloying, but it’s definitely distinctively floral. The mid-sip brings a green beany sweetness that helps to freshen up the overall flavour profile, and towards the end of the sip there’s a hint of nuttiness that puts me very much in mind of hazelnuts. It’s an interesting flavour combination, but one that ultimately works well.

I’m also pleased to find that it very smooth in terms of mouthfeel, with an almost-silkiness about it. There’s no bitterness or astringency at all,tieguanyin_tea even though the water was quite hot and the brew time reasonably long. As the cup cools, it develops a creaminess that complements the flavours (and particularly the lingering nuttiness) beautifully.

This reacquaintance with a Tie Guan Yin has reminded me why I enjoyed these teas so much in the first place. I’m impressed with the quality of this tea, and I’ll definitely be checking out more of Teasenz’s offerings in the future. Impressed!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Teasenz

An all-time favorite of Chinese oolong tea lovers. This beautiful emerald green tea is named after the Chinese Goddess of Mercy, Guan Yin. Poets of the Middle Kingdom have described this premium tea for its purifying taste, bringing you into a peaceful, meditative state of mind.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!