Makai Black Tea from KTeas

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  KTeas

Product Description:

Each sip of this black tea reveals new dimensions in the flavor profile. The terroir of Hawaii imbues these high-quality leaves with a clean, smooth, refined flavor profile in which you will likely find no astringency nor bitterness. Some of the growers’ descriptors serve best:  Crystalline amber infusion. Thin, crisp body. Delicate notes of caramel, varley malt, and rice syrup. Slight taste of roasted sweet potato.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve tasted several Hawaiian-grown teas now, and I must say that I’ve been impressed with just about every one that I’ve tried.  This Makai Black Tea from KTeas is no exception.

The color of the liquor is lighter than I expected it to be; it is a clear, medium-to-dark amber color much like the liquor of a dark Oolong.  There is something else to this tea that reminds me of an Oolong – the texture.  It has a softness to the mouthfeel that I often experience with Oolong tea.

This has such a nice complexity.  Beautiful malty tones and a rich sweetness that I would describe as somewhere between honey and (as the description above suggests) rice syrup.   I also get the hints of caramel here, as well as the faintest note of cocoa.  There is some astringency in the finish, but rather than being dry or tangy, I am finding it to be somewhat starchy.  This starchy dryness accentuates the cocoa taste.  This starchiness also highlights some of the sweet potato taste that is also mentioned in the description.

I infused these leaves twice and they produced two delightful yet different cups.  The second infusion was a bit thinner in texture than the first, and it possessed a more subdued flavor.  I notice a little less of the cocoa note but there is a delightful spice-like tone in the distance with this infusion.  It was delicious and certainly well worth the effort to infuse this one twice.

Ola’s Garden Hawaiian-Grown Green Tea from KTeas

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  KTeas

Product Description:

Single-Estate tea: Mountain View – Farm Collective
Growing elevation: 2000′, Mountain View, Hawaii USA

East meets West in this refined, pan-fired green tea reminiscent of signature teas of China. Exotic in aroma, pure in flavor, steeped into a pale golden green infusion with a lingering fresh taste. Definitely encouraging in Hawaii’s quest of pioneering a tropical, pure Hawaii-grown tea.

Taster’s Review:

I love this tea.  Before I even taste it, I love it.  Why?  Well, it may sound corny, but I love it because of the name “Ola’s Garden.”  My darling gramma – who was mother figure to me and probably the most positive role model I had in my youth – her name was Ola.  I miss her terribly.  And so this tea is very dear to me because of the name … it reduced me tears when I first read the name.

The leaves are very long and curly, deep green in color with hints of silver streaks.  They have a strong “leafy green” scent to them, and they infuse to a very pale yellow-green color.  So pale, in fact, that it almost looks like water with a hint of yellow-green tint!

But it certainly doesn’t taste like water.  It is incredible.  I am in agreement with the above description, it is indeed reminiscent of a Chinese green tea.  The flavor is rich and vegetative.  It is sweet, but it doesn’t come across as “fruity sweet” or “buttery sweet” like so many green teas do.  Instead, this is more like a vegetable sweetness, with a flavor that falls somewhere in between grassy and steamed spinach.  It is a very pure, clean taste … a characteristic that follows through to the crisp aftertaste.

As the tea cools slightly, more sweet tones emerge, it still isn’t what I’d categorize as buttery.  It is more like a fruit-and-nut kind of sweetness, with the nutty tones presenting themselves strongest.

This tea produces many infusions – I infused it three times with no real loss in flavor.  I am sure I could have gotten even more out of those leaves if I tried, but, after three pots of tea, I was ready to move on to something different.

KTeas has recently introduced a full line of Hawaiian-grown teas, including this one.   I have been very impressed with the Hawaiian teas I’ve tasted in the past, and this one certainly ranks up there with one of the best ones I’ve tried.  It is an incredibly good green tea – one that is sure to please green tea enthusiasts!  It is soft, supple and really refreshing.  It is even quite nice as an iced tea, although I find that the complexity is more apparent when it’s served hot.

2010 First Flush Premium Oolong from Mauna Kea Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  This flush is sold out, however, keep an eye on Mauna Kea Tea’s website for updates on when this year’s harvest is available!

Product Description:

Our First Flush Premium Oolong Tea is the first harvest of the year. This is medium oxidation oolong which has slightly fruity flavor and bold floral aroma. Hand harvested and processed. Naturally oxidized under the sun.

partially oxidized leaves are then hand-processed to enhance floral aroma and bring out full flavor.

Organically Grown at our farm in Hawaii.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve never been to Hawaii.  I hope to go sometime, but until then, I like to think that I’m experiencing a bit of Hawaii through Hawaiian-grown teas like this one from Mauna Kea.

The aroma is fantastic.  It smells much the way I imagine the air in Hawaii to smell:  floral, vegetal, and fresh.  A very aromatic, vibrant fragrance!

The flavor is sublime!  It is very delicate and floral, with a kiss of vegetation to the background.  There is a beautiful fruity essence to the flavor as well, with flavors that remind me of sweet plums.

The sweetness to this cup is remarkable, no additional sweetener is required.  In fact, I feel that adding sweetener to this cup would ruin this tea.  I has such a lovely delicate quality to it.

I recommend brewing this tea in a gaiwan to get the most out of this tea.  Drink it hot to enjoy all the subtle nuances to it.  This is truly a rewarding tea!