Himalayan Shangri-la from Teabox

If I had to choose between dark oolong or green oolong, for me it would be green every time. I find them characterful and unique, with more variation in flavour than I’ve typically found (at least so far…) among their roasted counterparts. And that’s coming from a habitual black tea drinker.

Himalayan Shangri-la is a Nepalese Oolong from 2015. It’s a first flush, or spring, oolong comprising highly graded leaves taken from a single estate.

The leaf here is pretty impressive – they’re long and twisty, with a high predominance of downy buds, and vary from a dark khaki to the palest green-silver. The scent is lightly vegetal and just a touch floral, in the way of orchids.

I followed the recommended parameters, and gave 1 tsp of leaf 4 minutes in water cooled to around 85 degrees. The resulting liquor is a pale yellow-green, the scent mineral. The initial flavour is also mineral, with a hint of petrichor and wet rock. There’s a hint of heady floral in the mid-sip, reminiscent of orchid and jasmine. Heavily scented, and very reminiscent of perfume, but thankfully not in the cloying, throat-coating way some floral tea possess. The end of the sip features some cleaner, fresher notes. Tomato flesh, wet grass, and the return of the petrichor.

I really enjoyed this one. It’s a flavourful green oolong, and the tomato note in particularly was a highlight as it’s not something I’ve come across in an oolong before. If you’re looking for a high quality oolong that’s also accessible in flavour terms (there’s nothing to deter the newcomer here…) then this would be a good place to start. If you already love oolong, this one might still have a few surprises…

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Teabox

If there is one oolong that can compete in the same league as the Taiwanese and the Chinese kind it has to be this Nepalese offering. The rigors of high elevation, mineral-rich terrain, and cool air allow the plants to grow slowly resulting in an immensely flavorful tea. Also interesting is the fact that it’s from the country’s small-scale producers’ cooperative which produces small batches of orthodox teas.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Boisahabi Estate Assam SFTGFOP1 Black Tea from Capital Teas Limited

Boisahabi Estate AssamTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Capital Tea Limited

Tea Description:

Potently aromatic attractive deep brown Assam leaves with plenty of golden tips. These leaves infuse to a very rich, strong and sweetly malty tasting tea liquor with an unusually smooth disposition for a tea with such strength. Highly recommended as a breakfast tea to drink with milk!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Boisahabi Estate Assam SFTGFOP1 Black Tea from Capital Teas Limited is a really enjoyable Assam – it’s got a rich, thick texture and lots of malt!

It has that strong, robust character that you look for in a morning cuppa – this is one of those ‘get you going in the morning’ type of teas!  What I’m appreciating most about this is that while it is a bold tasting tea, it’s not overly ‘edgy.’  It’s got a smooth, nicely rounded flavor with sweet, caramel-y undertones.  Quite nice!

To brew this, I put a bamboo scoop of tea into the basket of my Kati Tumbler and added 12 ounces of boiling water.  I steeped the tea for 2 1/2 minutes.  I would caution you to watch your steep time because this tea can and will get bitter on you if you oversteep it – so don’t do that!

If you like your breakfast tea to be latte, this tea will take the addition of milk and honey quite nicely.  It’s also really pleasant served straight up.  I like it hot best, but it’s still really tasty as it cools.

2014 Giddapahar Spring Bliss First Flush (SFTGFOP1) from Darjeeling Tea Lovers


Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Darjeeling Tea Lovers

Tea Description:

Giddapahar Spring Bliss as the name suggests is one of the most ‘Blissful’ First Flush tea we have. A very yummy tea which is ideal for all day.

This is a tea that actually meets the First Flush mantra of ‘LIGHT & BRIGHT’. It is a full bouquet of fruity peach like notes and if you really care to understand what PURE CHINA BLACK TEA tastes like, this is the ideal tea. We assure you that it will be difficult to stop with just one cup.

A BLISSFUL, DELIGHTFUL, ENERGETIC tea from the house of GIDDAPAHAR TEA. A must have for every tea connoisseur. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Oh wow … what a lovely first flush Darjeeling!

The above description is pretty effective at describing this tea:  light, bright, aromatic with notes of peach that don’t just tickle the nose but also the palate with peachy flavor!

The dry leaf looks very much like a Darjeeling:  the leaves vary in color from green to brown.  I like that these are long and wiry leaves rather than chopped and torn.  Once brewed and completely unfurled, you can see that these are whole leaves.  I like that.

GIDDAPAHAR SPRING BLISS1When it comes to Darjeeling tea, I usually use a slightly lower than boiling temperature, because Darjeeling tea usually is not oxidized for quite as long as other black teas.  I go with 195°F and steep the leaves for 2 1/2 minutes.  This produced a light amber colored liquor that is delightfully fragrant.

And delicious!

As I mentioned before, I can taste the peach.  I am loving that.  I don’t typically taste peach-like notes in a Darjeeling tea.  This is sweet and fruity with lovely floral notes that are dancing in the background.

Darjeeling teas tend to be lighter in texture and this is no exception, but this doesn’t have the same dry astringency toward the tail that other Darjeeling teas tend to have.  This has a silkier texture than I’m used to with Darjeeling teas, and I am enjoying how easy and smooth it is to drink.

I know I’ve said it before, but if you are a fan of Darjeeling Teas … you really should give Darjeeling Tea Lovers a try.  I have been so impressed with everything that I’ve tried from them.  Their teas are top notch.  An apt name for this company, because it would seem to me, based on everything that I’ve tried from them, that this is a company that has dedicated itself to acquiring the very finest teas for lovers of Darjeeling tea!

Risheehat Organic Darjeeling First Flush 2013 SFTGFOP1 from Happy Earth Tea

RisheehatTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black (Darjeeling)

Where to Buy:  Happy Earth Tea

Tea Description:

This is a tea sweet with floral-fruity notes and a classic first flush briskness.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Usually, I prefer a second flush Darjeeling over a first flush, but, I’m really liking this Risheehat Organic Darjeeling First Flush 2013 SFTGFOP1 from Happy Earth Tea.  It has an appealing balance of fruit and flower notes and a crisp, clean taste.

The leaves are a bit darker than the photo above suggests, and they brew a light golden brown liquid.  The aroma of the tea is sweet and flowery.

The flavor is light and has a crispness to it that is very “Darjeeling-esque” … you know what I mean?  That light, somewhat astringent, crisp flavor that Darjeeling teas are known for?  Yeah, that.  I like how clean my mouth feels after I take a sip.

The flavor is sweet and there are notes of fruit that are somewhat reminiscent of grapes.  This does have a faint muscatel to it, although it isn’t as muscatel-ish as you’d find in a typical second flush.  There are also subtle woodsy notes.  It’s a very pleasantly complex cuppa.  The finish reminds me of a fine wine.

It is unfortunate (but not surprising!) that this tea is sold out for 2013.  I highly recommend keeping your eye on the Happy Earth Tea website when spring comes for the 2014 harvest, because this tea is well worth the effort!   It’s a good one!

New Vithanakanda Ceylon SFTGFOP-1 Black Tea from Kally Tea

New Vithanakanda

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Kally Tea

Tea Description:

With this orange pekoe offering from Sri Lanka, Kally Tea again offers what we feel is the best of the best. This is graded as SFTGFOP-1. This translates to “Special Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe-1. This tea is wirey with extra-long leaves and nice faint golden tipped leaves. A refined and respectable tea from one of the most honored estates.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’m not always particularly excited to try a pure Ceylon tea, mostly because, Ceylon is generally the tea that is used when creating a flavored black tea because Ceylon tends to be a rather even-tempered, moderate, mild-tasting tea.  Brisk, but not bold … just kind of … there.  You know what I’m saying?

However, this New Vithanakanda Ceylon SFTGFOP-1 Black Tea from Kally Tea is an exception to that … this Ceylon has some real GUSTO … which really took me by surprise.

Yes, this tea does have many of the qualities I’ve come to expect from a high quality Ceylon – it is a even-tempered tea, but, I certainly wouldn’t call it mild!  It has a lovely robust, malty quality like an Assam might offer, but it is not as aggressive as an Assam.  It has a very smooth, even flavor to it … smooth from start to finish.  Toward the finish, I notice hints of citrus … it’s a really refreshing finish.

A really delightful Ceylon that tastes great hot or iced.  I found myself wanting more when my cup was empty!  One of the nicest pure Ceylon teas I’ve had in a while – I recommend this one highly.