Himalayan Shangri-la from Teabox

If I had to choose between dark oolong or green oolong, for me it would be green every time. I find them characterful and unique, with more variation in flavour than I’ve typically found (at least so far…) among their roasted counterparts. And that’s coming from a habitual black tea drinker.

Himalayan Shangri-la is a Nepalese Oolong from 2015. It’s a first flush, or spring, oolong comprising highly graded leaves taken from a single estate.

The leaf here is pretty impressive – they’re long and twisty, with a high predominance of downy buds, and vary from a dark khaki to the palest green-silver. The scent is lightly vegetal and just a touch floral, in the way of orchids.

I followed the recommended parameters, and gave 1 tsp of leaf 4 minutes in water cooled to around 85 degrees. The resulting liquor is a pale yellow-green, the scent mineral. The initial flavour is also mineral, with a hint of petrichor and wet rock. There’s a hint of heady floral in the mid-sip, reminiscent of orchid and jasmine. Heavily scented, and very reminiscent of perfume, but thankfully not in the cloying, throat-coating way some floral tea possess. The end of the sip features some cleaner, fresher notes. Tomato flesh, wet grass, and the return of the petrichor.

I really enjoyed this one. It’s a flavourful green oolong, and the tomato note in particularly was a highlight as it’s not something I’ve come across in an oolong before. If you’re looking for a high quality oolong that’s also accessible in flavour terms (there’s nothing to deter the newcomer here…) then this would be a good place to start. If you already love oolong, this one might still have a few surprises…

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Teabox

If there is one oolong that can compete in the same league as the Taiwanese and the Chinese kind it has to be this Nepalese offering. The rigors of high elevation, mineral-rich terrain, and cool air allow the plants to grow slowly resulting in an immensely flavorful tea. Also interesting is the fact that it’s from the country’s small-scale producers’ cooperative which produces small batches of orthodox teas.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Uper Fagu Darjeeling Oolong from The Tea Shelf

I’ve not come across many Oolongs from Darjeeling in the years I’ve been drinking tea, but the ones I have tried have always been something special. This one is no exception.

uper-fagu-liqIt starts with the leaf, which in appearance reminds me a lot of a first flush darjeeling (although it’s actually a second) crossed with a very fresh white peony. The are a high predominance of downy silver buds, some verging more on silver or pale green, plus some brown-ish-copper leaves. The scent is sweet and lightly jasmine.

Initially, the taste is subtle and fairly mineral, in the way that some lighter or green oolongs can be. There’s a distinctive citrus flavour in the mid-sip – it reminds me most of grapefruit, with a slightly sharp/sour tang. There’s also some of the muscatel flavour you’d typically associate with a second flush darjeeling, and the pairing is an unusual and inspiring one. As it cools. a hint of dark chocolate starts to emerge, although it’s mostly confined to the very end of the sip and it doesn’t linger long. uper-fagu-infDespite the scent, I didn’t detect any floral flavours in the actual tea, which is a small relief because it’s already quite busy. In terms of mouthfeel, it’s lightly brisk but doesn’t cross over into astringency, despite being slightly drying on the palate.

I enjoyed this one. I’ve discovered that I like Oolongs from Darjeeling in general, and they often have some of the more unique flavour profiles. Mineral, grapefruit, and chocolate don’t sound like they should work together very well, but, somehow, they do. If you enjoy either Darjeeling or Oolong, this one is definitely worth a look.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: The Tea Shelf

One of the finest oolongs of Darjeeling, the aroma of dark chocolate envelopes your senses, reminiscent of a cold wintry day! The leaves are springy with a moss like mosaic of silver and copper. The infusion shows another surprise with individual leaves clearly visible with bright colours of copper and mauve. The chocolate experience continues but now coupled with citrus and fruity notes. The steeped leaves give way to a gorgeous sunset yellow cup, which is very brisk on the palate with notes of jasmine and citrus, which linger on.

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!

#MusicandTeaMonday: Sweet Dreams Herbal from AstroloTea

Sweet Dreams is part of AstroloTea’s Transformative Loose Tea range, which combines ingredients with specific properties to create teas designed to have an effect on either mind or body. Sweet Dreams, true to its name, is supposed to be a relaxing blend, with the intention of promoting sleep or rest. Like many blends of this kind, it contains a selection of herbal ingredients known for their calming properties, including rose petals, hops, jasmine, lemon balm, and lavender. It also contains more unusual ingredients, such as poppy, catuba, gotu kola, dogwood, yarrow, brahmi, kava kava, and mullein. Many of these I’ve never come across before. All of the ingredients are organic, except the kava kava which has been cultivated without the use of chemicals.

I followed the recommended parameters and used 2 tsp of leaf for my cup, added to boiling water for 5 minutes. The resulting liquor is a bright orange-brown, with a mildly herbaceous scent. The flavour is more delicate than I expected, initially quite generically “herbal”, but with clear flashes of rose and lavender. There’s a distinctive thick sweetness from the hops in the mid-sip, and a touch of aniseed-like fennel. A light lemony-citrus note rounds off the sip.

The proliferation of ingredients made me wonder whether it would be possible to distinguish any one of them at all, but in actual fact it is possible to pick out the stronger, more dominant, flavours. Many of the ingredients are unfamiliar to me, though (and probably to most people), and it’s fair to say that the overall effect is herbal with an edge of floral. I’m pleased the the floral doesn’t edge over into perfumey, and it’s not too strong, so you might get along with this even if floral teas are not typically your thing. In flavour terms, its reminiscent of a lot of similar blends, only with more unusual, carefully selected, ingredients.

I didn’t notice much of an effect straight after drinking, but I can certainly appreciate having another caffeine-free pre-bedtime blend in my cupboard. With its light, delicate flavour, it’s a pleasing choice for late night drinking whether you buy into the “sleep-aid” aspect or not. I’d happily seek out more AstroloTea blends in the future.

And since today is #MusicandTeaMonday, we couldn’t help but pair this tea with this song! Don’t forget to join us on your favorite social media of choice with #MusicandTeaMonday!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Herbal
Where to Buy: AstroloTea


Sweet Dreams Organic Loose Leaf Tea is only available as an herbal tea blend. It is a powerful sedative tea for nighttime relaxation and sleep. It has been used to help relieve insomnia and sleep disturbances.

This soft and dreamy tea is the perfect way to close every day. Slip into comfort and notice how gently everything floats away as you easily drift off to dreamland. Sweet Dreams tea is a luxurious gift to give yourself for a day well lived.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Dorian Grey Black Tea by Luhse

DorianGreyTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Luhse

Tea Description:


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.

Taster’s Review:

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.