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: Green
Where to Buy: Harney & Sons
While looking for the best teas in Changsha, we found this organic green tea. Not every occasion demands the best tea, so this is a nice one to drink more often.
Learn more about this tea here.
Mao Jian has become one of my favourite green tea varieties over the last year or so, and I’m always pleased to try one that’s new to me. This Hunan Mao Jian from Harney and Sons looks pretty much as I’d expect – thin, wiry leaves that are a little curly and twisted, a fairly uniform dark green in colour, and pretty long (most around 2cm, but some more like 5-6cm). Dry, it doesn’t seem to have a great deal of scent. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 170 degrees.
Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: Canton Tea Co.
This delicious organic Dragon Well is grown in the hills of Zhejiang Province near Long Jing, the village where this famous tea originated. The green tea leaves are picked young and taken back to the village where the skilled tea masters use their bare hands to press them flat in a hot, dry wok in the traditional way. This arrests the oxidation process and ensures the liquor carries the notes of freshly cut grass, rounded off by a soft, nutty flavour.
Learn more about this tea here.
Dragon Well has become, to my surprise, one of my favourite green tea varieties. I used to think I didn’t like green tea, but I’ve been persuaded over time by some those I’ve been fortunate enough to have tried. The leaves of this particular Dragon Well have been folded and pressed flat. They’re around 1cm in length on average, although some are longer and some are a little shorter. The overall tone is variegated, running from the dark green of pine needles to the lighter green of spring grass, some with a yellow mottling. The scent is quite heavily vegetal. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 170 degrees. Once unfurled, it’s clear that the leaves are mostly partial, although there are some almost whole leaves complete with stems. The resulting liquor is a medium yellow green, the scent remaining vegetal.
To taste, this tea strikes a pleasant balance between grass, green beans, and chestnuts. The initial sip is almost sweet, in the way of freshly shelled peas, but this quickly deepens to a more vegetal intensity. I’m reminded very much of freshly cooked green beans – still retaining some sweetness, but with an overriding savoury flavour. There’s a grassiness in the mid sip that continues the sweet theme, and which helps to brightens up the heavier notes of green bean. The end of the sip is mildly nutty, with a slight roastiness, putting me firmly in mind of chestnuts at Christmas. I’m usually the kind of person that drinks green tea more in spring/summer, but this one seems particularly well suited to autumn. It’s a relatively complex green tea with multiple layers of flavour, but they’re all complementary and work well together to create a beautifully flavourful cup that still possesses some subtlety. Nothing here is overpowering. I also feel I should commend this tea for its smoothness and lack of astringency. It’s almost buttery in terms of mouthfeel – silky and decadent.
I really enjoyed this cup, and I’d definitely look at Canton Tea Co. for green tea again in the future. This is a beautiful example of a Dragon Well, and I’d like to think it could please connoisseurs, while also converting those less certain about green tea in general. This tea is a green tea everyone should try.
Leaf Type: Black Hand-plucked Sun Moon Lake Black Tea Loose leaves
Where to Buy: Fong Mong Tea on eBay
Sun Moon Lake black tea can be declared “Red Treasure” in central Taiwan. Sun Moon Lake in Nantou County is surrounded with mountains and lakes with remarkable environment and typical climate. Heavy moist and stable yearly average temperature make the tea trees grow thick and rich tea leaves which produce carmine and perfectly clear liquor. Its unique sweet aroma and strong mint taste make it truly unforgettable. It is also the best ingredient to make “bubble tea” (the most famous Taiwanese tea drink on earth).
I was thrilled that Fong Mong Tea was offering some samplers a while back.
They provided a sampler pack that would allow two steeping sessions gongfu style.
I love it when a company includes enough in a sample to have more than one session. It allows for a learning curve if needed and for trying different steeping methods if one prefers.
I had the first session soon after I received the sample and now I am enjoying the second session.
I had been saving the rest of my sample for a day I needed a really relaxing and unique tea. A morning when I didn’t have to rush around, and didn’t want to. Today is that day.
Upon the initial sip my first thought was “is this a black tea?” well of course I knew it was but the flavor profile was so green. Fresh, vegetal, brothy, like juicy fresh from the garden green beans. I was slightly taken aback, although the flavor was absolutely delicious it was not what I was expecting. This prompted me to check my tasting notes from my first sampling of this tea! Indeed I also had felt the same way three months earlier when first trying Sun Moon Lake by Fong Mong.
I continued to sip and picked up mushroom notes, tree bark, and a hint of spice that caused a tingling sparkly sensation on the tongue. Ahhh, now the dark notes are beginning to show themselves lending to the black tea profile.
More of the black tea notes began to ring out loud and clear with a slight malt flavor, a milk chocolate flavor, and an oak moss flavor, however those light lilting green vegetal flavors never totally faded!
This is a very meditative tea. As a black tea I am not sure I would want this as my first cup in the morning as I tend to need far more of a punch in the face tea to wake up, however this is my second tea for today and its helping me ease into my afternoon beautifully. Its relaxing, assisting me in focusing on tasks I need to complete, and helping my creative juices to begin to flow gently, calmly, and with ease.
Now I have an admission to make. I used a lower water temperature than suggested. The reason why is quite simply that I was impatient and did not want to heat my water up. My Zojirushi water heater was already at 175 from the night before, and I just went ahead and used that temp for this tea. Granted I was taking a risk with this precious sample, being that one more session was all that was remaining. I have no regrets. This is obviously a forgiving tea, and of course it was not going to get burnt by over heated water but I have also not lost any flavors either. This tastes exactly as I remember it and matches my previous tasting notes perfectly. If nothing else perhaps steeping at this lower temperature will prolong my session allowing for even more steeps than I would normally have got. I am on my third steep now and it is ever bit as good as the first and I plan to keep on steeping until it stops giving.
I am surprised, actually shocked that this is not already holding a place in my permanent stash, but I am so happy that I had some left over as a reminder to place an order with Fong Mong Tea today!
In my previous tasting notes I said that this tea was like a soup created in the kitchen of a culinary master, one that needed to be allowed to simmer for a long time to allow the true flavors to develop. A broth that needed to age like a fine wine. This tea speaks to you as if it is knowing of secrets held within old trees, running streams that have spread gossip from one watering hole to the next and the memories of vegetation along the way. Sun Moon Lake is one that needs to be allowed to take you on a journey to unknown territories, allowed to tell you its stories. This is a slow, easy sipper tea, again not my preference for morning when I really need to suck a tea down in light speed to get “my fix”. This tea is one to be savored and appreciated.