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!)
I 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, 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!
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Nepali Tea Traders
A top-rated Orthodox black tea, only two leaves and a bud are hand plucked for processing. This full-leaf, loose tea is then oxidized carefully until a fine balance of flavors is achieved. This exquisite tea has a smooth floral bouquet with a lingering apricot finish. Tea available in pouches and tin.
Learn more about this tea here.
I generally like to save my “black tea experiences” for earlier in the day, because I find these teas to be more invigorating than other leaf types. However, this Sandakphu Hand-Rolled Black Tea from Nepali Tea Traders has a lighter body and a crisp, smooth taste (similar to what you would experience with a Darjeeling tea), and I think that it would make an excellent afternoon or early evening tea.
And while I am noticing similarities to a Darjeeling tea, I think that this tea is smoother and less astringent than a typical Darjeeling, and it doesn’t have that wine-like finish of a Darjeeling. Instead, the finish here is – as promised in the above description – apricot!
The sip begins with a sweet, fruit-like note and from there delivers notes of flower and wood. It tastes clean and refreshing. As the finish approaches, I notice the aforementioned apricot. It’s surprised me at just how focused the apricot notes are. There’s no mistaking that flavor for anything but apricot!
The aftertaste is sweet and maintains some of those apricot-y notes. Nice! This isn’t an overly robust or bold tea, but it does have it’s own sort of briskness to it. It isn’t a tea that I’d choose for first tea of the day, as I said before, it’s one I’d want to curl up with on a quiet afternoon, perhaps with a good book.
What impresses me most about this tea is that it’s consistent. With every sip, I get those amazing flavors. It continues to deliver from the very first sip right down to the last. A remarkable tea.