Leaf Type: Herbal/Tisane
Where to Buy: Cupan Tae
A stormy, spicy herbal blend with a breeze of anise taste.
Learn more about this tea here.
This one has a very, very pronounced dry aroma; the leaf practically oozes with the scent of sweet, black licorice! Not licorice root or anise, mind you, but black licorice. While I have no problem with either anise or licorice root – I love black licorice and I’ve found few teas that convey it well.
That love for black licorice probably comes from my Grandpa; before he passed that was his absolute favourite self indulgent treat in the world. He kept huge tins of licorice allsorts by his lazy boy that he’d snack on during Blue Jays games, and he’d buy black jellybeans in bulk and sometimes he’d just let me grab big greedy hand fulls of from the tins. It’s a really good memory I have of him from when I was a child and the smell of the dry leaf of this tea is making me so nostalgic for it. I know there’s not actually black licorice in the blend and it’s a trick that the fennel, combined with the aniseed, is playing on me. But I’m gonna try and be willfully blind to that; because I want this to taste like black licorice.
Hmm, now that this one’s steeped up there’s a very thick, powdery white residue all along the inside of my mug and I can’t figure out why – I’ve never had that issue with any of the listed ingredients I’m familiar with – and the only one I’m not familiar with is ribwort, so unless it’s from the ribwort I can’t explain it. It’s annoying though; almost as bad as gross melted down chocolate goop from blends that use chocolate chips instead of nibs or shells.
Steeped up, sadly, it doesn’t taste like black licorice though. Not in the same way it smells like it, anyway. I do get heavy doses of both fennel and anise flavour which is sweet and delicious, but it’s fairly overtaken by a very dominating savory, herbaceous note and then milder notes of peppermint and a supple fruit note that I suppose could be apple like is listed in the ingredients. Visually I didn’t see any apple in my measured out tea leaf though. That strong savory note tastes very, very weird to me; and I’m wondering if that’s the ribwort leaves. I’ve never had another tea with ribwort leaves and after a very quick Google search I’ve learned that apparently they can have a mushroomy flavour. I have really, really minimal exposure to what mushrooms taste like given that I am pretty allergic to them; any time I’ve had them it’s been really involuntary and, upon realizing I’ve ingested them I’ve had much more pressing things on my mind other than the flavour.
It’s a fascinating experience for me even if it’s not the one I expected to be having and in that regard I’m a little disappointed this isn’t as black licorice-y as I wanted it to be but I also know I was projecting unfair expectations onto the tea. It’s definitely not a bad tea; just so weird. Am I actually tasting mushrooms!? I’d honestly be interested in going back and having this one all over again; I feel like without the expectation of a more licorice-y tea I might be more observant of the herbaceous qualities that are present. Overall, surprisingly sweet and savory!
Leaf Type: Puerh
Where to Buy: Samovar Tea Lounge
Wild-crafted from 30-foot trees in the jungles of Southwest China, this tea is a traditional wedding gift and evening mood-setter. Dark, creamy, and luxurious with notes of bittersweet chocolate and espresso.
Tea Type: Pu-Erh
Origin: Jing Mai Mountains in Yunnan, China
Caffeine Level: Medium-high
Processing Details: Tender, young-leaf, vintage, loose leaf Pu-Erh
Tasting and Aroma Specs: Very balanced, smooth, rich and dark, with a slightly sweet, wildflower honey finish. Deep, strong forward notes of earth and moss with a lingering raisin sugar sweetness.
Food Pairing: Dim Sum and Samovar’s Mushroom Quiche
Learn more about this tea here.
It is really difficult to sum up a puerh in a review without mentioning each and ever steep. Especially when it is such an excellent puerh like this Maiden’s Ecstasy Organic from Samovar Tea Lounge.
Maiden’s Ecstasy is one of the first pureh that I ever tried and is still one of my favorites. I stopped drinking coffee shortly before I found my love for loose leaf tea, and this Maiden’s Ecstasy provides such a rich, full, and robust cup that it brings back memories of my once loved coffee, but is so much better, and far more flavorful!
With a creamy, heavy mouthfeel, this tea has notes of german rock sugar, brown sugar, raisins, tree bark, oak moss, and so much more. Sometimes you will taste a more woodsy note, while other times you get a taste of chocolate, and other times a savory note of mushroom!
There is something otherworldly about this tea. It is the kind of tea I like to drink while watching a movie such as Avatar, or The Never Ending Story. I would take this and drink it at the Renaissance Festival every year if I could find a way to keep steeping it! It makes me feel like jumping from toadstool to tree trunk and swinging from branches of friendly tress and cavorting with gnomes but beware of the trolls because this tea does have a sparky, spicy kick to it at times as well! Its not dangerous though, it won’t burn your tongue at all, its just a little spark of playful now and then in the middle of an otherwise dreamy cup.
It does evoke thoughts of sipping on a very luxurious espresso, a good one though, one you could probably only find at one of those quaint cafes in Italy, as you sit writing in your diary at a white linen clothed table, dreaming of a romantic interlude. Flavors of molasses peek through resembling the sweet desires playing out in your mind as you gaze into nothingness, while someone, sitting at a table not too far away can see everything emoting through your eyes.
Yes, this tea is that special.
Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: The Persimmon Tree
Our Jasmine Ancient Beauty tea features fragrant jasmine blossoms permeated with pure hand-harvested oolong loose-leaf tea, giving an amber peach color with a fresh aromatic bouquet and sweet refreshing taste.
This beautiful oolong jasmine tea comes from thousand year-old trees on the Jing Mai Mountain in China. The protected forest reserve is enshrouded in mist and located approximately 5,000 feet above sea level. The best buds and leaves are hand plucked by scaling the tall trees and then oxidized using a traditional oxidation process to reach a specific maturation point. They are then crafted with traditional scenting techniques using whole jasmine blossoms. Drink the Jasmine Ancient Beauty Tea and experience a real one-of-a-kind treat.
Learn more about this tea here.
Jasmine Ancient Beauty from The Persimmon Tree is a cup that is full of flavors. It is by no means your typical oolong!
As a lover of oolong teas I can see how some people could be disappointed in this tea if they go into with expectations of it tasting like any other oolong they have ever had before.
Or if you are one who loves jasmine teas, I could see some disappointment there as well as this is not your typical jasmine tea either.
What this tea IS however is a tea with some amazing depth to it. The flavors are heady, hearty, and full, yet there are these berry like notes that give the cup a lightness that is just so cheery.
This is not robust like a morning black tea, yet there is an earthiness to the tea that makes it very full, almost thick.
Honestly, if no one told me, or I had not read the label before hand, I would have thought this to be a puerh. The leaves do come from a tree that is over a thousand years old according to The Persimmon Tree’s description and I believe it as this tea does have an aged flavor to it for sure.
Other notes I pick up on aside from honey, berry, jasmine, and oolong, are mushroom, earth, woods, brown sugar, toasted oat bread, to name a few. You really need to discover this tea for yourself.
The other thing I love about this tea, other than the wonderful flavor, is the look and feel of the leaves. They are quite stunning!
I really respect a company that gives back. You can read more about The Persimmon Tree and how it is working toward bettering our earth here.
Leaf Type: Ripe Pu’er
Where to Buy: Mandala Tea
I love this tea. Spring of 2003 CNNP Yellow Mark ripe pu’er. Brew this up in your gaiwan or favorite yixing pot and enjoy a creamy, earthy and well-aged tea. We first had this in Kunming, China in autumn of 2008 and fell in love with it, buying all we could get. Since then, it has been stored (as all of our pu’er teas) in our climate and humidity controlled vault and we have tasted some nice changes since then.
The selfish part of me wants to keep it all for myself, but this is a tea that needs to be enjoyed by as many people as I can get it out to! If you are a lover of well-kept (never wet-stored) ripe tea, this is a heavy hitter… a must try. I am drinking some right now!
Learn more about this tea here.
CNNP Yellow Mark Ripe Pu’er from Mandala Tea has a lovely heaviness to it in the flavor notes. So much so that I could have possibly been fooled into thinking this were a high quality coffee had I not made it myself. Now granted, a thin coffee, but then again I used to drink a very thick turkish coffee before my conversion over to tea. So for most, this probably is exactly the heaviness of a coffee.
This tea has a lovely earthiness to it without being too earthy. The mouthfeel does have a creamy texture which is quite nice. I get hints of notes of vanilla, and butter, but its not too intense on those notes. There is a nice woody taste to the cup as well.
One does not need to use much leaf to get the full effect of this tea. When steeped it has a deep red tone to it. I find the aroma of the tea to be heavier than the flavor itself.
There is a subtle sweetness to the tea which is nice, it is on the dessert end of the pu’er spectrum.
To me, this is more of an every day pu’er – and that is not an insult by any means. Usually when I take the time to sit down and enjoy pu’er it is a process, an event if you will. To me, this is one of those pu’er that is not so complicated that you can’t just make some up and enjoy it every day, on the go, or while working. While it is quite good, very good, it is not so complex that I feel I need to do nothing else but sit down with my yixing pot and dissect it.
Now of course you do get multiple steeps from this tea and you need not steep it for very long. I find that about 20 seconds on the first steep, 30 on the second, about 45 on the third and so on do just fine. This makes it even easier to make while you are working, cleaning, multitasking, and so on. The water temp you can use is also very forgiving. I have made it with water anywhere from 212 degrees to 180 and it fairs well however the recommendation is between 208 and 212. Still if you are on the go and need to use a coffee station somewhere and the boiling water they offer its perfect and you need not steep long so it truly is my favorite “on the go” pu’er, tea for that matter, as it has a real deep flavor that I tend to crave when running errands. Now I dare to say it, but I have actually enjoyed this tea iced as well!
The notes come over as direct and are unassuming. Creamy, full, robust even, woodsy, perhaps a hint of mushroom, buttery, and warm. Simple enough to enjoy every day but delicious enough to savor and appreciate in the moment without it taking too much time to figure it out. I will not say it is my all time favorite pu’er, nor even my favorite from Mandala Tea, but for what it is, it is hardy, and delicious!
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Verdant Tea
“This wild-picked Golden Fleece is an exquisite lesson in texture, and one of the truest flavor embodiments of Yunnan itself. . . .This is the finest, most nuanced and intriguing Dian Hong we have ever encountered. Wang Yanxin, our sourcing agent who has devoted her life to Yunnan, has been searching for a Dian Hong like this for years. Every time she sends us pu’er, she includes 30-40 Dian Hong teas, and Jin Jun Mei teas. This time, she only sent us one, and wrote on the bag “this is the one. Best Dian Hong. Taste slowly.” She was so very right.
Learn more about this tea here.
I have had Golden Fleece from Verdant Tea since it was released on Verdant Tea website. I actually ordered it twice because the first order was gone in a flash. I had thought I would save the second bag I bought and hoard it, but the fact is tea is best when fresh, and I would not want to deprive myself of enjoying this tea while still fresh, let alone deprive the tea of giving off the best cup possible. So I have opened my second bag and I am enjoying it daily until it is gone. When it is gone I will most likely purchase another bag if it is still available on the Verdant web site. As of right now it is still available so if you are tempted by this tea – get some while you still can!
This is everything that could be desired in a black tea, especially in a morning cup. It is toasty, creamy, and the aroma is one that will wet your appetite for breakfast or sustain you and give you all the flavors that a calorie ridden decedent breakfast would. Everything you will find in the aroma, you will also find in the flavor. There is a malty, maple flavor, along with a fresh hay laying in the morning sunrise dew flavor, a spun sugar flavor, a subtle vanilla flavor, and a cocoa flavor. That is just on the top levels of this tea!
Once you relish in those beautiful top note flavors you will find yourself emerged into a world of sweet spices, such as cinnamon, clove, and even a taste of paprika.
The mouthfeel is like that of silk or satin, creamy and luxurious. It offers a very full mouthfeel indeed!
This tea can be steeped many times offering new layers and flavors in each cup which is always quite enjoyable and my preferred method of brewing (gong fu style). However, if you want your first cup to be richer, fuller, creamier, or just don’t feel like fussing with a gong fu sitting, by all means enjoy it western brewed as you can’t go wrong with this tea. You will still get two to three steeps out of it western style. Its just such a fine tea however you may find yourself feeling that gong fu brewing is a must. I prefer drinking this tea on weekends when I can take a bit more time in the mornings and go at a slower pace, enjoying up to eight or more steeps.
There are other wonderful flavor notes to find in this tea – some of the base notes I find are mushroom, oak moss, rock mineral, and wood. There is a dry finish to this tea which is due to the base notes.
According to Verdant’s Website: “ Instead, this is a subtle experience that will appeal to lovers of fine oolong and pu’er.”
I could not agree more! I myself am a lover of oolong and pu’er so they are absolutely correct as I fully appreciate this fine black tea.
I always say that good tea, which is defined by each of us alone, should evoke a thought, a feeling, or a memory, and for me this tea evokes the thoughts and feelings of friends, family, good times, warmth, and love. This is why I have chosen this tea for my Christmas Time Tea and why my review of it is posted today, Christmas Day. I will be enjoying this tea all day today as I spend cherished moments, and make forever memories, with my family and friends.
Merry Christmas to all.