Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Locally at Cultivate Tea
An easy-drinking wild black tea from a family-owned tea garden that is unique, friendly and aromatic.
Learn more about this tea on Steepster.
Went into this one without much of an idea what to expect; there’s very little information on the retailer’s website (it looks like they’re more set up for local in person shopping than online orders) and there aren’t any Steepster reviews yet other than my own. But this was really good!
In fact, it was actually so good I did two infusions of it which is something I hardly ever do for anything other than oolong when I’m steeping Western style. It’s really rare for me, personally, to want to drink the same tea multiple times in one day; I just want to experience as much as possible! So that definitely says something.
The dry leaves are really pretty; they’re long and twisty and have this rusty kind of tint to them that really popped as they were steeping; very tawny and autumn like! The steeped up brew was a really pretty amber colour. It kind of reminded me of the colour of a good beer, actually.
This was actually a lot less brisk and full bodied than I had expected it to be; there was some light astringency with the first steep but that went away with the second. Other than that bit of astringency both infusions were very similar though; they had a gentle sweetness to them with top notes of fragile honeycombs and really gentle undercurrents of malt and fresh baked French bread. The finish went back to sweeter honey with floral notes as well.
This is NOT a tea to drink with milk; you would absolutely drown out the subtler, delicate flavours that are present. It’s a shame it’s not really something I can get online and it’s not available to me locally because if it was available for a reasonable price I’d totally be interest in getting a bit more of this one.
Leaf Type: Yellow
Where to Buy: Camellia Sinensis
This yellow tea composed almost entirely of buds comes from Sichuan province.Its magnificent young shoots are selected before being covered with the fine hairs typical of that grade of imperial picking! Its light yellow liquor is sweet and tasty. Bold hazelnut aromas are complemented by hints of vanilla and herbs. The finish is supported by its creamy texture and sweet taste. In the tradition of great teas – preferably to be enjoyed in a Gaiwan in a careful ambiance!
Learn more about this tea here.
Stream of consciousness review, meaning once I get to the steepings/infusions part of this review I’m just going to be taking note of my initial impressions/thoughts. I initially recorded this as a series of jot notes but have obviously since edited things to be paragraph formatted and easier to read…
This was a birthday present from my Dad; with the expensive price tag that comes along with this one I didn’t think that I’d ever be able to justify buying it but when I was explaining to him why yellow tea is such a big deal and how it’s something that I’ve been dying to explore but, because of the rarity, having a hard time doing something must have clicked for him because he surprised me with 25g!
I should note, the only other yellow tea I’ve had was a flavoured one and definitely not this high of a quality – I think that’s obviously something of note with this review.
Dry smell: From the bag this smell very strongly smells of rich hazelnut with herby undertones. After measuring it out into my gaiwan and being able to smell it closer/more directly I notice those smells and an almost borderline graham like smell. I do think you need to have an at least somewhat refined palate to pick up on it though; I’ve had various family members smell the dry leaf for this one and each of them swears they can’t smell a thing. The smell is so distinct for me though so I can only assume the difference here is that they’re tea plebians/don’t drink tea at all and, well, I’m obviously not and I definitely do.
Visually, the dry leaf reminds me a fair bit of silver needle, but with a more “tarnished” dusty yellow/ light brown colour, and very slightly smaller and more compressed/flat. I think it looks very aesthetically pleasing!
Infusion One – 30 Seconds:
Strong herbaceous and hay notes with a particularly peppery start and just a smidgen of astringency and bite are the first and foremost flavours with a menagerie of buttery vanilla and creamy hazelnut notes offering contrast and softening the tea a touch. There are corn silk notes and very soft roasty ones that fit somewhere into the equation. Fades into a soft, lemony flavour that lingers for a very long time, but only after having swallowed. There’s a lot going on, but it’s very pleasant! The leaf left in the Gaiwan smells like lemon pepper and hazelnut; weird but mouthwatering.
Infusion Two – 20 Seconds:
Smells like pepper, lemon and hazelnut. Less bite and less generic herby notes but still has some grip and some hay notes; it’s much more distinctly lemon pepper in start of the sip fading into roasty notes, vanilla and lemon in the body of the sip. I’m losing some of the hazelnut now as the other flavours get stronger. I tthoroughlyenjoy the transition from savory to light and sweet. It almost reminds me of vanilla lemon sponge cake in the aftertaste but the confectionery component’s not all there. It’s the butter that’s forming that impression, though. Leaf in the gaiwan is very lemony with some hay scent as well. It’s ticking my nose a little and making me sort of want to sneeze. But in a good way?
Infusion Three – 20 Seconds:
Oh wow; the flavour has diminished quite quickly as well as lost almost all the bite/grip. I pick up on a lot of hay notes; it’s quite similar to the flavour profile of your generic white tea/silver needle. There’s some creamy, buttery notes and a faint hazelnut and vanilla flavour. Mostly, it’s a sweet but dull lemon flavour though. This is my least favourite infusion thus far and I think, probably, a good place to stop steeping – even though I think I could get at least one more decent infusion from this I personally don’t push my Gong Fu sessions too long; I’m the sort of person who prefers to experience multiple different teas in one day than spend my whole day drinking a single tea.
Overall, this tea had a lot of really varied flavours to it but I found it so fascinating and enjoyable, and I think I learned a great deal from it. I would absolutely seek out this varietal again; I’m so intrigued to see how other companies’ offerings would compare! It’s quite sad that all of the ones I’ve seen have been so expensive; it’s definitely not one of those teas I can afford to buy from several companies in order to sample/compare…
Personally, I thought the second steeping was the best and had the most range of flavour as well as distinct flavours. Even though I know I said that I feared a novice/less trained palate would have a hard time picking up on the nuances I may have been wrong there; I thought almost all the flavour notes were very obvious. And, I definitely recommend seizing the opportunity to try this one if it presents itself to you!
Leaf Type: Aged Oolong
Where to Buy: Butiki Teas (However it is no longer for sale)
Tea Description: Our 1991 Da Ye Aged Oolong is a 22 year old spring harvested tea from Nantou, Taiwan. This rare tea is oxidized between 20-30% and charcoal roasted. Da Ye Oolong is uncommon today since this tea has a lower production volume. Our 1991 Da Ye Aged Oolong is sweeter and creamier than our 2003 Reserve Four Season Oolong. Notes of roasted chestnut, bark, fresh butter, honey suckle, and cinnamon can be detected. Due to the age of this tea, some mineral notes may also be detected. This tea has a silky mouth feel and is sweet and buttery.
Learn more about this tea on Steepster.
This isn’t a new Butiki blend (really there aren’t any new Butiki blends anymore since the owner’s retirement and the store closed); but it is new to me. I’ve been curious about it for a long time, but I think that without Butiki closing I would have been stuck in a permanent state of “window shopping”, which is a shame because I definitely would have been missing out.
So, this tea is actually older than I am by four years! There’s something inheritantly fascinating about that, and it’s hard to wrap my head around it. Many reviews I’ve seen for this tea feature the reviewer remarking “where they were” or “what they were doing” back in 1991, but I wasn’t doing anything! My parents weren’t even married in 1991.
Lately I’ve been trying to explore straight oolongs a little more thoroughly so it’s appropriate I’m trying this one. I’ve enjoyed the straight oolong I’ve had, especially the darker/roastier ones, but my exposure has been relatively limited and it’s time to change that. The dry leaf for this one already smells quite different than oolong I’m familiar with; it has a really distinct dill smell to it! And then nuttier notes emerge as well. It’s the dill that gets me though; I’ve never heard of dill being a present flavour notes in a straight oolong before – maybe a green tea though that’s probably a bit of a stretch too. I’m already learning things!
Wow; this is surprisingly more complex than I was expecting. Even upon my first few initial sips I was registering such a large variety of flavours it was almost a little overwhelming; they all tie in quite well to one another though. It seems like the general backdrop of flavours is a combination of soaked/damp wood and moss. Very earthy, and very natural. On top of the general taste, which carries throughout the sip, was a lovely arrangement of roasty and nutty flavours, with a very slight and enjoyable dryness. The combination of all of these things is coming together to remind me of petrichor.
For those who don’t know; petrichor is the smell of rain on dry earth. It’s my absolute favourite smell in the world and I’ve been looking for a tea that accurately conveys it for as long as I can remember; this does the job better than anything else I’ve tried. Lastly, this tea finishes with a sweet dill note that tickles at back of my throat. I’m liking how the dill plays into all of this by adding a bit of a different feeling as well as a unique taste!
My second steep was good too; many of the flavours I observed with the first cup were still there but in different levels. I found the wood flavour was less pronounced as well as the dry nuttiness, but the moss was a little more accentuated. The dill was also a lot more strong; instead of just tasting it in the finish I was tasting it in the body of the sip as well. I also registered a very subtle floral note and some richer mineral notes.
Unfortunately because of a prior commitment in the day I didn’t have time to continue with additional steeps; but I’d love to find a day to dedicate solely to this tea because it’s strange, and wonderful and very complex and I’m so smitten with it!
It’ll be hard to get your hands on this tea now; but if you find yourself with the chance to try it I definitely recommend doing so!
Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: Teavivre
Produced in Tianmu Mountain(天目山), Lin’an County, Hangzhou City, Zhejiang, China
Harvest time: March 8 – March 10, 2013
One bud with one or two leaves
Dry tea is shaped straight and pretty
Soup presents tender a yellowish green color, tastes sweet and brisk; aroma lasts long in the middle and back part of the tongue.
Fresh aroma with chestnut flavor
Low caffeine (less than 10% of a cup of coffee)
Learn more about this tea here.
When I received my samples of the new spring teas my first tasting selection to sample was Organic Nonpareil Ming Qian Dragon Well Long Jing Green from Teavivre. The aroma is strong, awakening, and as fresh as a tea can smell. The dry leaf is so pretty and bright green. The flavors range through various steepings from nutty, buttery, vegetal, and salty, but every single steep brings forth the freshest flavors you could imagine.
When steeped properly there is absolutely no astringency and of course no bitterness. There is also a lovely light sweetness to the flavor that can be detected at different levels through the various steeps. The color is very light so do not be tempted to over steep this lovely tea. Take your time with it and let the flavors be gently caressed out of the leaf with shorter steep times which will provide you a longer and more relaxing brewing session. Green teas like this one from Teavivre are deserving of your time and focus. I do not recommend a tea like this for an out the door on the go tea. You can do that if you wish, but I feel it is cheating the tea from providing all that it has to offer and really just cheating yourself.
Some teas are great for an on the go pick me up and get me going for my day ahead tea. This Long Jing however is a relaxing, meditative, sip and consider type of tea that will rock your world in a totally different way if you give it time and allow it to. I find that while this tea is refreshing, and so lightly fresh, it has a brothy mouthfeel, verging on creamy in some steeps. I love it when a tea can bring out both feelings, light and fresh, yet thicker in the mouthfeel, as it is an unusual combination.
Teavivre brings us so excellent offerings in their new spring line, and I am really amped up to try them all but today I shall sit with this tea, looking forward to many steeps to come. It is absolutely lovely. See all of Teavivre’s Spring Teas here and learn how you can get samples of all of them for free!