Gui Fei Oolong from Butiki Teas

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Butiki Teas

Tea Description:

Our Gui Fei Oolong was sourced from Lugu Township in Nantou County, Taiwan and is a particularly unique tea. Green leafhoppers are allowed to bite the tea leaves which causes the leaves to begin the healing process which creates the honey notes in this tea and also begins the oxidation process. This tea utilized traditional Dong Ding processing techniques. Gui Fei Oolong has a natural sweetness to it and produces no astringency. Notes of honey, lightly burned toast, raw almonds and apples can be detected.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Good Heavens! This tea smells DIVINE! Seriously I have had this in my stash for ages now and just never got around to testing it out. I am angry with myself for waiting so long! I am kicking myself!

The aroma is peach and honey. The dry leaf is nuggety and a few stems while the moist leaf is still quite dry and I hope for more steeps to follow! The cup is a beautiful sunny orange color.

My first sips emote honey, peach, and candies almonds. What a pure and simple delight! This will be consumed regularly until it is time to reorder. Still angry at myself for sitting on this one!

Subtle notes of oak are peaking through. I do not detect any apple notes but perhaps in the second infusion. I am getting a mouthfeel of brandy like consistency. Thick and syrup like yet not clinging to my mouth like syrup, much brighter than that – not heavy just very juicy and refreshing in a sweet rich sort of way.

There is some astringency to this cup and it is a tad sour on the after taste much like a peach that is not fully ripened yet, but as you wait a little the flavor tames into almost an oak moss flavor and then the sweetness comes back around. There is a palate cleansing effect that follows.

My second steep is still deep in color perhaps even more so which is surprising. The steep turned into more of a reddish orange rather than a bright sun colored orange. The astringency still exists, which is something I have found in Butiki Teas oolong more so than others but it is nice as it reminds me of a black tea’s astringency even though the flavor description says there is none but again, I don’t mind at all. I am now getting a savory sweet note like apples and sage that I often cook with together.

I decided that I needed to “pair” my tea with a chocolate truffle. Okay I was making excuses to have one but hey I wanted a truffle! This brought out the peach notes in the tea by truck loads! Literally it was like a truck load of juicy ripe peaches drove into my mouth! Okay not literally but figuratively. Regardless it was amazing! Now I could easily use this new discovery of the paring as an excuse to have another truffle but alas I would prefer to savor my third steep allowing it to stand on its own.

Steep three although not necessarily the final steep but the last I will write about still has a lovely color to it. It does not seem to be weakening at all! The flavors are still very present with the peachy notes, along with the wood notes. It is becoming more oak-y in flavor now however and a little less sweet. Now it is settling into a tea that one would kick back and really relax with and it may even be making me a little sleepy due to its easy going qualities – no not sleepy but grounded. Like a good meditative tea!

End result is this tea has many layers of flavors to offer someone willing to sit down and contemplate it. One could easily suck down cup after cup and just enjoy and embrace the goodness however for me, I am finding this tea one that I will build a relationship with and discover more depth through each steep as I know there are many more left to uncover! The wet leaf still has more love to give, still some dryness within them, and they still smell strongly of flavors!

Very good tea!

Nilgiri Frost Oolong from Butiki Teas

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy: Butiki Teas

Tea Description:

Our Nilgiri Frost Oolong originates from Nilgiri, in Southern India and is graded TGFOP (Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe). Since this tea is grown at a high elevation, the leaves are exposed to a light frost during some nights of the winter months. The long thin chocolate colored leaves are hand twisted and produce a weighty body. This smooth tea has notes of citrus, peach, pecan, and oak. There are many qualities similar to a Nilgiri black tea; however, the frost oolong is much gentler and sweeter. This tea is produced in very limited quantities due to the short harvest period and special conditions that must exist.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

In some ways this tea reminds me more of a black tea than an oolong, which isn’t a bad thing as it is nice to have a little of both worlds sometimes. Not floral like many oolong, this tea is deep and robust. It has levels of flavors ranging from light and fruity to deep and woodsy.

Like many black teas there is also an astringency that I often do not find in oolong tea. This astringency is not a bad thing either – not bitter but a slight sour note, not as in sour milk of course but more like in sweet fruity candies with sour sugar sprinkled on top.

The dry leaf is dark and mysterious with twists and curls through out. It looks perfect for this time of year where the leaves are changing colors and Halloween is around the corner. Sort of spooky in its visual effect. Wet, the leaf unfurls and colors of amber brown and deep green appear. The liquid color is reddish amber.

Notes of oak, peach, and nutty pecan peek through in the flavors.

Some mornings I am not sure if I want an oolong even as much as I adore oolong, I just need a black tea to get me started, yet this tea seems to lay somewhere in the middle for me. Its perfect when I crave an oolong but need the black tea mind and energy boost! Quite honestly, even with as many oolong as I drink and as much as I love my oolong tea, this would have been difficult for me to detect as an oolong had I not known before sipping. I could have easily been fooled, especially early in the morning to believe it was a black tea.

Truly this Oolong is different, and if you consider yourself an oolong connoisseur, you certainly should try it, simply for the experience of something so different. If you love your black teas but are curious about oolong this is the one to try. Or, if you are like me, and love both but are not quite sure on some mornings which to grab and steep – get this one and solve that problem right away!

2009 Bu Lang Gong Ting from Mandala Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu’er, Pu-erh, Ripe, Shu

Where to Buy:  Mandala Tea

Tea Description:

We totally scored with this find!  We have sampled so many different ripe teas over the years both in China and here at our shop.  Samples are continuously sent here from various tea merchants and most of the time, we find them ok at best.  But when we tasted this gong ting (imperial court quality, smallest leaf) tea, we immediately had every last bit of it shipped to us so we could share it with our customers not to mention drink it ourselves!

Hailing from Bu Lang mountain in Menghai, this is an expertly crafted tea.  Rich and sweet, hints of dark chocolate and slight nuttiness with a creamy aroma becoming more pronounced as the post-fermentation smell quickly becomes a memory.  We are sure that this gong ting, given a bit more age, will easily rival our favorite Golden Gong Ting from 2005.  We are extremely pleased when all the conditions come together to create a memorable tea and this, my friend, is one of those teas.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I seasoned one of my yixing pots with this tea and then sat down to enjoy multiple steepings. What a great feeling to season a new pot and have the time to relax and enjoy a quality pu’er.

I had logged eight steepings before I lost focus, and became too full to do more. Each steep brought forth new and wonderful flavors!

When reviewing a pu’er I find it difficult to write in paragraphs because each steep is like a new tea unto itself. So with that I give you my tea log with short notes on each steep. I know it may be dull to some, but to those who really enjoy pu’er I hope it gives even a small glimpse of the wonder of this tea! These are my actual notes.

Steep One: 30 Seconds (after an initial rinse)
Light, Juicy mouthfeel, Dry in back of throat, Mushroom flavors, Spicy, Creamy, and my favorite flavor.. Leafy!

Steep Two: 45 Seconds
Leafy, Oaky, More Creamy than first steep, Autumnal Flavors and aromas like being in the woods after a light rain in autumn! Love it!

Steep Three: 1 Minute
Leafy aromas with an amazing mossy flavor again the wet leaves in autumn flavors but more prominent!
Drier, Earthy, Hay, Tingly, Mushroom.

Steep Four: 1:15 Minutes
Light, Clean, Milky, Nutty

Steep Five: 1:30 Minutes
Weaker on flavor in this steeping, Mellow, Leafy, Sweetness coming out!

Steep Six: 2:00 Minutes
About the same as the last cup but sort of getting weak. I went for another steep anyway.

Steep Seven: 2:30 Minutes
Mossy, Juicy and now Fruity!

This shows just because one steep is less flavorful its always a good idea to steep one more time!

Steep Eight: 2:45
No real flavors present although a light golden color. No notes taken, by this time I was absorbed into a movie (Red Tails – GREAT movie!)

Overall I was surprised to find I did not get any of the chocolate notes as in the description but was not disappointed! I think I will allow this to age quite a bit and re-visit it later on.
I did enjoy it very much and there were some wonderful flavor notes and a few surprises even once I began to think it was past it’s steep-ability!

A nice tea with mellow flavors through out that over all remind of me my favorite season! You can’t beat that!

On another note. My husband, who drinks very little tea to begin with, at first, said it smelled fishy. “Fishy” is a word that seems to come up often with pu’er, but I proved something to him and myself.
I said rather than fishy think of it as MUSHROOMY!
He disagreed so I made him go get an organic mushroom from the fridge!
He took a bite and said “OMG your right!!!”

I think the two flavors are similar in some ways but distinctly different enough. Plus for most mushroom is more palatable to stomach and mind than “fishy”. Honestly, I did not get a bit of fishiness in this pu’er and I only bring it up because all too often, especially with those who are first starting out on their pu’er experience that word comes up. My suggestion is to grab yourself a couple of mushrooms, and take a couple of bites to compare.

After pointing this out to my husband he drank with me the entire time! I was so shocked and happy!

It was a great experience to share a pu’er session with him and he also shared his tasting notes with me during that time. We both enjoyed this tea very much.