This tea sample came to me in a crisp, red and gold package with simple, symbolic instructions and the tea’s name: Huang Guan Yin or Yellow Goddess of Mercy. With a name like that, it certainly felt special to crack the seal on the red and gold foil and pour the lovely dark tea leaves into my teapot. The dry leaves smelled faintly musky, like newly-turned earth, but were otherwise very mild.
I did a little more research on brewing tips beyond the information on the package and found that this is a wuji oolong, meant to be steeped for a short period of time over a few sessions.
For the first brew, the leaves quickly turned the water dark. The brew smelled toasty and rich, like caramel and burnt sugar. I always tend to associate oolongs with the fruity, floral, green notes, but then I encounter a tea like this, heavily oxidized, and am reminded that some oolongs can be just as bold and dark as black teas.
Upon further steeping, the brew has stronger sweet rice and breakfast cereal tones among all the toasty caramel notes. The mouthfeel gets smoother with each steep, and brings out a oddly fruity note, a bit like raisins. Beneath all these flavors there is a musky depth, slightly sour and reminiscent of tobacco.
This was a delicious bold oolong, rich and full of complex and tasty flavors. Though the tea itself isn’t yellow, I still love the name, Yellow Goddess of Mercy. Have mercy on yourself after a long day and have a tea session with this oolong to help bring you comfort and solace.
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Old Ways Tea
Also known as 105 this tea is a cross between Tie Guan Yin and Huang Jin Gui. The name Huang Guan Yin means Yellow Goddess of Mercy. This is the newest Wuyi oolong cultivar, having been introduced in 2003 by the Fujian Tea Research Institute.
Huang Guan Yin is interesting since in many ways it is one of the least traditional of the teas being produced in the Wuyi mountains. It is newly developed, and has genetic origins outside the original mountains. At the same time it is often packaged in a bag reading “Da Hong Pao” and processed in the same manner as the other Wuyi teas. The interplay between new and old provides for an interesting experience. Personally, I greatly enjoy this tea and when I can not decide which to brew will grab a bag of Huang Guan Yin.
Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!
Leaf Type: Oolong Tea
Where to Buy: Eco-Cha
This batch of tea comes from Yong Long Village, just above Dong Ding Mountain. Yong Long is known for a rich red soil which differs from other locales in Lu Gu Township. The unique flavor of the Dong Ding Oolong produced here is attributed to this soil quality, along with the fact this region is home to the most concentrated population of the most skilled oolong tea artisans in Taiwan.
(2015)Flavor: Grilled sweet corn aroma. Rich, foresty, roasted flavor. Complex, fruity finish.
Garden: This batch of tea comes from Yonglong Village, just above Dong Ding Mountain. Yonglong is known for its rich soil which differs from other locales in Lu Gu Township. The unique flavor of the Dong Ding Oolong produced here is attributed to this soil quality, along with the fact this region is home to the most concentrated population of skilled oolong tea artisans in Taiwan. This farm is managed by a father and son team who inherited their family tradition as artisans of Dong Ding Oolong. Their tea has been awarded first prize in the world’s largest Oolong tea competition, and they consistently achieve top awards in their local competition of traditionally made Dong Ding Oolong.
Harvest: Hand picked in small batches. November 2015. Yonglong, Nantou. Available Winter 2016
Learn more about this tea here.
The Dong Ding Oolong Tea from Eco-Cha I know and LOVE is from 2013 but today I found out they have a 2015 harvest that will be available in Winter of 2016. I’m looking forward to comparing the two. The review of this Dong Ding Oolong Tea from Eco-Cha is from the 2013 harvest eventho I inserted both harvest descriptions above.
Once I infused Dong Ding Oolong Tea from Eco-Cha and it was ready to go in my cup I couldn’t help but notice the wonderful golden amber tone…it was beautiful! The aroma was roasted – that is for sure. The roasted notes followed suit when you sipped it as well. I could taste some plum notes underneath in the middle of the sip, too, but they were very subtle.
The roasty and toasty aftertaste lingered but in a good way. I’m looking forward to the new harvest of Dong Ding Oolong Tea from Eco-Cha coming in winter 2016…in the meantime I will finish what I have…and what I have is very good! Two thumbs up!
Leaf Type: Green Tea
Where to Buy: Green Tea Lovers
Light green tea notes with floral accents and exceptionally smooth finish. Produced from an imported Japanese Sencha tea genus. Certain plots of Kosabei Estate shared similar ph levels to traditional Sencha plots in Shizuoka, Japan. The broad-leafed bushes proved highly adaptable in the Kenyan soil. The Japanese method of steaming the leaf before production is employed the final cup is bright with notes of grass, moss, honey and delicate seaweed. What makes Kenya teas so excellent (and called the Tuscany of tea) are its excellent climactic conditions and rich soil found east of Kenya’s Rift valley. This tea estate is pesticide and herbicide free. Pests can’t survive the high altitudes. Nitrogen is used as a natural fertilizer to boost yield and ensure continuous crop. The all natural farming methods produce tea of unsurpassed flavor and high antioxidant content. Grown with no pesticides needed/used due to high altitudes.
Country of Origin: Kenya
Altitude: 6500′ ft. above sea level
Manuf. Type: Orthodox
Infusion: Rich russet gold.
Ingredients: Luxury green tea
An Ethical Tea Partnership and Fair Trade Tea.
Hot Tea: This tea is best enjoyed by pouring 180F/90C water over the leaves (1 tsp per cup) for 3 minutes (longer=stronger). Don’t remove the leaves. Can be infused repeatedly 2-3 times using higher temperatures & shorter infusions until flavor is exhausted.
Iced Tea: Pour 1 1/4 cups of hot water over 6 teaspoons of tea and steep for 5 minutes. Pour into pitcher while straining leaves, add ice and top up with cold water to make a quart of iced tea. Garnish and sweeten to taste.
Learn more about this tea here.
My sample package of this tea says Kenya Zebra Sencha Tea From Green Tea Lovers or Sencha Zebra (Kenya) as it is listed on their website is an interesting green tea. The leaves are unlike other Senchas or Green Teas I have had before. These appear to be a greyish-light-brown that are randomly flattened but not completely flatted such as those you would see being paper thin…these have a three- layer dimensional view to them. The aroma of the dry leaf is more reminiscent of a gentle pu-erh than a green.
Once you infuse this leaf in hot water the tea water is a little cloudy and more of a mucky color instead of a vibrant yellow or green or combo of the two. The aroma of the tea post-infusion is certainly more of a roasted green or even that of a roasted oolong that I have sniffed in the past.
The first sip of this Kenya Zebra Sencha Tea From Green Tea Lovers – I have to say I wasn’t overly impressed with – however – I know to always give teas a 2nd chance once it has time to cool at room temperature for a bit. Glad I did because my 2nd sip was far better than my 1st. This green tea isn’t a mouth watering green tea, nor is it a vibrant or springy green tea. It’s more of an earthy and roasted green tea. It has a character and identity of it’s own. It’s pretty good and I always enjoy trying more teas from Kenya.
Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Buddha Teas
Over the years, many different varieties of oolong tea have been produced, each with their own style and flavor, however traditional oolong tea remains the most popular among these.
Learn more about this tea here.
Oolong has historically been my nemesis, although I have to say at this point that I’ve only ever tried loose leaf oolong with one exception (Teapigs Tung Ting Oolong, which is pyramid bagged). This oolong is also bagged, and in fairly small, square paper affairs that really don’t look like they’ll provide much room for leaf expansion. Even dry, the leaf fills up at least half of the space in the bag. One cute touch is that each paper tag has a different phrase – my current bag declares “love is ecstacy”, and my second “appreciate yourself and honor your soul”. Something to muse upon as you wait for your tea to brew? I added the bag to a cup of water cooled to around 180 degrees, and gave it 2.5 minutes. The resulting liquor is a medium golden brown.
Once wet, it’s clear that the leaf is shredded quite finely, and it becomes waterlogged and soggy quickly. The leaf expands to fill the bag, but not as much as I thought it might. I guess the fine shred means that there are no large leaves to really unfurl. Looking at the leaf, this would appear to be a dark or roasted oolong. It has the signature scent that’s often one of the things I like least about oolong – metallic and a little sweet.
To taste, I’m more impressed that I expected I would be. I’m not the world’s biggest Oolong fan, so when I find one that’s palatable and enjoyable to drink, a bit of a celebration ensues. This Oolong is initially very nutty, in the way of pecans or maybe walnuts. There’s a slightly bitter tang that I associate with walnuts especially, which only reinforces the comparison for me. The mid-sip contains a little of the metallic flavour I so dislike, but it’s not over-strong and I’m finding I can ignore it without too much trouble. There’s a note of slightly burnt toast as well, which puts me in mind of autumn and open fires. It’s a fitting flavour profile for this time of year! The aftertaste is smooth and a little sweet, with an almost honeyed texture. It’s a pleasant, flavourful cup, reminiscent of a Formosa Oolong. I’m not sure which variety it actually is as the packaging gives very little away, but that’s where I would peg it.
I enjoyed this cup, which seems a strange thing for me to say given my history with Oolong in general. The nutty, toasted notes pair well together and are very complementary, which probably has a lot to do with it. I’d drink this one again, and I’d happily recommend it either to those who are just beginning to explore oolong (as an accessible entry tea), and to Oolong-phobes who are looking to be proved wrong. It’s made me reevaluate my feelings about dark and roasted Oolongs, in any case!
This isn’t a review but an advertisement (sorry guys!) No, we don’t usually advertise here on this site – this is an anomaly – but because one of the founding SororiTea Sisters is now the Mad Tea Artist behind 52Teas, she gets the privilege of deviating from the norm.
And 52Teas has a Holiday Pre-Sale going on right now on Kickstarter! This isn’t a typical “fundraising” Kickstarter campaign, instead, this is a chance for you to get some Christmas shopping done early while it helps us keep things just a little more organized by keeping our pre-sales separate from our day-to-day sales activity.
52Teas is offering 5 unique, limited edition teas for this promotion – these teas will be available only during the season and once they’re sold out, they won’t be reblended until next Christmas!
Here’s the specs on those five VITs (Very Important Teas):
- Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire – This is a special blend of black teas with a hint of Lapsang Souchong to give it that smoky touch that you’d experience from an open fire. Flavored with chestnut and caramel and just a hint of spice to give it that winter-y kind of appeal.
- Gingerbread Houjicha – I love the flavor of gingerbread and I think that the roasty-toasty, nutty flavor of houjicha would offer a delightful base to these flavors.
- Eggnog Chai – A Chai blend (black tea with a touch of honeybush) flavored with notes of custard-y eggnog with an extra dash of nutmeg to enliven the cup. This would make a great latte to serve Santa on Christmas Eve!
- Cranberry Orange Cider – A blend of red and green rooibos that’s been flavored with cranberry, orange and apple with a medley of holiday spices.
- Peppermint Marshmallow Melting in Hot Chocolate – For this blend, I chose a special black tea blend (crafted with teas from our friends at Verdant Tea) for the base that has a rich, natural cacao flavor with hints of malt. Peppermint, marshmallow and even more chocolate-y flavor to create a deliciously delightful cuppa.
YUM! So please take a moment to visit the 52Teas Kickstarter Holiday Pre-Sale and get some of that early Christmas shopping done early! The campaign closes on October 27th so your card won’t be charged until that date, and the teas will be shipped in plenty of time for gift giving!
Thanks for taking a moment to read this . . . now let’s get back to the reviews!