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!)
I 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, 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!
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Luhse
Queen Song is clearly not your typical gorilla. She’s a risk taker and norm-breaker. She couldn’t just leave traditional Earl Grey tea alone.
Earl Grey’s flamboyant brother. Added vanilla takes average Earl to a whole new level.
Learn more about this tea here.
Dorian Grey is one of two Luhse flavoured blends I picked up with my recent order. The first thing I noticed about the full bags is how unique and well thought out the branding is. Everything from the colouring (midnight blue), to the white, searchlight-like logo, through to little things like the font and bigger things like the slogans is spot-on for the 20s, prohibition-era theme. Luhse are really sorted from a brand perspective, and that’s a nice thing to see. The “story” somehow makes their blends more than just tea, and it adds a lot to the appeal, that’s for sure.
Dorian Grey is an Earl Grey Cream, and it smells delicious from the moment I open the bag. Sweet, rich, and gloriously decadent. It’s a fairly unassuming blend to look at – just fairly small, uniform black-brown leaves. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. It brewed up pretty strong, so I added a splash of milk.
To taste, this is one of the creamiest Earl Grey Cream blends I’ve tried. The initial sip is full-on vanilla; sweet and rich, with an intense creaminess that reminds me very much of premium vanilla ice cream, or perhaps crème anglaise. The earl grey is very much second fiddle, but it’s possible to find the bergamot lurking in the mid sip. It’s not over-strong, which I appreciate in an Earl Grey blend, but it does manage to cut through some of the heady vanilla sweetness. It’s a pleasing, citrus-laced counterpoint, and adds a layer of depth to the flavour. The black base can hardly be tasted, but it’s smooth and unobtrusive, and it lets the flavours shine.
I’m really impressed with this one. It more than lives up to its promise, and it makes for a deliciously tasty cup. It would make for an excellent introduction to Earl Grey Cream blends (although possibly you’d be spoilt forever), or a fabulous treat for existing fans. This one blows others out of the water.
Leaf Type: White
Where to Buy: Luhse
Unbeknownst to most, Queen Song longs for the day when she meets her island mate, King Kong. She has recently taken up hula dancing to keep fit and has begun wearing sexy, eye-catching outfits to attract attention. Despite the gang’s misgivings, she can be found wearing risque coconut bras when she is not at work.
Coconuts have migrated into your cup of tea.
Learn more about this tea here.
Another Luhse sample from my recent order. Nice Coconuts is a white blend, flavoured with coconut. The dry leaf smells amazing – strongly of coconut, with an undertone of creaminess, and a hint of something almost rum-like. Alcoholic, at the very least. The dry leaf looks to be a mixture of silver needles, which are white and downy, and white peony, which is blackish-brown in appearance and not particularly fresh looking. There’s a predominance of broken leaves and twigs. Scattered throughout are red safflower and blue cornflower petals, and a smattering of dried coconut shreds. There’s enough leaf in the pouch for about two cups, although if your cup is larger than average you might want to use the whole sample (about 3 tsp), as per the recommended parameters. My cup is on the smaller side, so I went with 1.5tsp of leaf, and gave it 2 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees. The resulting liquor is a medium yellow-green; the scent mildly coconutty with a floral undertone.
To taste, this one is deceptive! I wasn’t convinced at all by the scent of the brewed liquor, but it’s actually very pleasant. The initial sip is all coconut cream; sweet, tropical amazingness! It has remarkable depth of flavour, with just a hint of rum rolling around the mid-sip, and an almost thick mouthfeel. It’s like a decadent dessert – rum babas, maybe, with a side of coconut ice cream. It’s possible to taste a little of the white tea towards the end of the sip, although it’s by no means prominent. Just an edge of floral, hay-like sweetness. Mostly, the white tea seems to contribute most towards the mouthfeel, and doesn’t at all overpower the sometimes-delicate flavour of coconut. This really is a delicious, summery cup. I’m impressed with this blend, and it’s definitely one I’d consider repurchasing in the future.
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Bluebird Tea Co.
Think vanilla sponge cake with a dollop of raspberry jam! There is nothing better than a cuppa and cake (except perhaps a cake flavoured cuppa!) and did you know it was our good old queenie Victoria who invented the Vicky Sponge? Guess the name gives it away a bit! She loved taking afternoon tea with her home girls but decided they needed soem extra nurishment to last until dinner. Cake it is then! We like your thinking QV!
Learn more about this tea here.
Ah, Victoria Sponge. My favourite cake. Obviously when I found a tea that claims to replicate it, I just had to give it a try. Of all the people I’d trust to get it right, Bluebird Tea Co. top the list. The scent is right, for starters. Upon opening the pouch, I’m greeted with a waft of raspberries and vanilla. As ever with Bluebird, the dry leaf itself is a thing of beauty – fluffy green raspberry leaves, whole freeze-dried raspberries, smaller pieces of freeze-dried strawberry, and a scattering of desiccated coconut shreds. All on a black tea base, Ceylon specifically in this case. I used 1.5 tsp of leaf for my cup (the raspberries are so huge, they throw the measurement out a bit!), and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. No additions. The resulting liquor is a medium golden brown. The scent, like the dry leaf, is deliciously raspberry-vanilla. I really am thinking cake now!
To taste, the initial flavour is 100% raspberry. It’s quite a tart raspberry, but just sweet enough to stop it being jarring. What’s particularly nice is that it tastes like actual fresh raspberries – there’s no candy-like or artificial-tasting raspberry to be found here. Vanilla emerges in the mid-sip, and adds a pleasant creaminess and an extra dimension of sweetness that puts me in mind of the buttercream filling that usually accompanies raspberry jam in a Victoria Sponge. There’s a tiny hint of cake right at the end of the sip, but it’s a little fleeting. The coconut just starts to come through, and I think it’s this paired with the other ingredients that produce this effect, interestingly.
I quite like the way the flavours build here, one on the other, to create the overall Victoria Sponge effect. I also like that each individual aspect seems to taste natural, and not like it’s been created from a chemical compound in order to replicate “cake” as accurately as possible and at all costs. The raspberry tastes like real raspberry, the vanilla tastes like, well, vanilla. The combination really does suggest the filling of a Victoria Sponge, and (by some alchemy) everything comes together right at the end of the sip to give – cake! My only complaint is that the black base becomes a little astringent and drying as my cup cools – this is definitely one best consumed hot. Other than that, it’s a great success. Highly recommended for all Victoria Sponge fans – cake without the calories, or just a great stop-gap until your next slice!