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: Green
Where to Buy: Canton Tea Co.
This delicious organic Dragon Well is grown in the hills of Zhejiang Province near Long Jing, the village where this famous tea originated. The green tea leaves are picked young and taken back to the village where the skilled tea masters use their bare hands to press them flat in a hot, dry wok in the traditional way. This arrests the oxidation process and ensures the liquor carries the notes of freshly cut grass, rounded off by a soft, nutty flavour.
Learn more about this tea here.
Dragon Well has become, to my surprise, one of my favourite green tea varieties. I used to think I didn’t like green tea, but I’ve been persuaded over time by some those I’ve been fortunate enough to have tried. The leaves of this particular Dragon Well have been folded and pressed flat. They’re around 1cm in length on average, although some are longer and some are a little shorter. The overall tone is variegated, running from the dark green of pine needles to the lighter green of spring grass, some with a yellow mottling. The scent is quite heavily vegetal. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 170 degrees. Once unfurled, it’s clear that the leaves are mostly partial, although there are some almost whole leaves complete with stems. The resulting liquor is a medium yellow green, the scent remaining vegetal.
To taste, this tea strikes a pleasant balance between grass, green beans, and chestnuts. The initial sip is almost sweet, in the way of freshly shelled peas, but this quickly deepens to a more vegetal intensity. I’m reminded very much of freshly cooked green beans – still retaining some sweetness, but with an overriding savoury flavour. There’s a grassiness in the mid sip that continues the sweet theme, and which helps to brightens up the heavier notes of green bean. The end of the sip is mildly nutty, with a slight roastiness, putting me firmly in mind of chestnuts at Christmas. I’m usually the kind of person that drinks green tea more in spring/summer, but this one seems particularly well suited to autumn. It’s a relatively complex green tea with multiple layers of flavour, but they’re all complementary and work well together to create a beautifully flavourful cup that still possesses some subtlety. Nothing here is overpowering. I also feel I should commend this tea for its smoothness and lack of astringency. It’s almost buttery in terms of mouthfeel – silky and decadent.
I really enjoyed this cup, and I’d definitely look at Canton Tea Co. for green tea again in the future. This is a beautiful example of a Dragon Well, and I’d like to think it could please connoisseurs, while also converting those less certain about green tea in general. This tea is a green tea everyone should try.
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Art of Tea
A specialty of the southwest province of Yunnan, this unique tea is harvested from ancient trees on the protected land of Jingmai Mangjing’s Blue Mountains. 100% organic, hand picked and sorted, this black tea steeps a rich, earthy infusion with notes of cedar and honey.
Learn more about this tea here.
The description of the “creamy texture and notes of amber and honey” this tea purports to provide made me particularly eager to try it. It certainly sounds divine, after all. I was even more interested when I learned that the base tea is Yunnan, as it’s one of my favourite black tea varieties. The dry leaf is relatively small compared to some I’ve tried, with no leaf over 0.5cm and some decidedly smaller. They’re mostly a uniform black-brown, but there are a few golden-flecked leaves as well. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium golden-brown, the scent a touch mineral and a touch spicy, with a deeper woodiness underlying.
I liked this one so much straight off that I hardly realised nearly half of it was gone before I’d even really started consciously thinking about the flavour. The first thing to say is that it really is creamy, and that’s with no additions. It has a very smooth, silky texture and an underlying richness of flavour that really makes “creamy” an appropriate word, even if it’s not quite the same creaminess I’d associate with dairy. It’s the only word for it, nonetheless. The initial flavour is a mild earthiness, a little like wet forest floor only not so pungent as that perhaps suggests. I’m reminded of an aged black or a pu’erh, although the flavour here is milder than either of those typically are. It’s definitely in the same kind of territory, though. I get a woodiness in the mid-sip; resinous and a little cedar like. It pairs really well with the underlying earthiness – it seems like they’re two flavours of a kind. The aftertaste is a touch mineral, in the way of wet rock, and is again in keeping with the damp, earthy, fresh flavours I’ve tasted so far. It’s a tea that really holds together well, and one where all the flavours are complimentary.
I enjoyed this one, and it’s a tea I’d definitely drink again if the opportunity arose. It’s flavourful and fairly unique among the teas I usually drink. Certainly an encouraging experience for my first Art of Tea!
Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: What-Cha
Has a creamy texture and sticky rice aroma, imparted unto the tea during processing by heating the sticky rice plant’s leaves along with the tea leaves.
Sticky rice scented tea is a specialty of northern Thailand, although traditionally green tea is used, Jin Xuan Oolong produces just as good if not better results.
Learn more about this tea here.
I’ve been wanting to try a sticky rice scented tea for a while now; and when I made my most recent What-Cha order I noticed this one offered on their site so I ordered a sample size to satisfy that deep curiosity. What I didn’t expect was just how accurate or obvious the flavour of the sticky rice would be.
Even from the moment I cracked open the sample packet, the smell of fresh sticky rice was filling up my kitchen and getting me excited with how potent and dead on it was. In fact, my first few sips were so overwhelmingly close to real life sticky rice it was hard to taste or notice anything else. I ended up doing three very strong Western Style infusions before the flavour of the sticky rice started to deteriorate. 2 1/2 tsp. of leaf for a 16 oz. mug, with 85C water steeped for two minutes initially with an extra 30 seconds tacked on with each infusion after the first.
The mouthfeel of the liquor was very soft and creamy and it managed to find a way to creep into every crevice of my mouth. Even though I only needed small sips to get a good sense of the strong flavour with each infusion I found myself taking big hearty swigs just because I loved the feel and taste of the tea so much. But it wasn’t just the mouthfeel that was creamy; in addition to the super accurate flavour of good sticky rice this tastes rich and creamy with a lovely buttery quality as well! Some of the greener vegetal notes from the oolong base cut through as well, particular in the finish which provided some subtle contrast of flavour. One of my favourites about this tea, as well, is that it had a delicate taste but not a subtle flavour; and ever though it’s not particularly complex or nuanced it’s scary accurate and really tasty if sticky rice is your thing.
I actually can’t believe I haven’t heard more people talking about sticky rice scented teas; I feel like I just gained access to some sort of exclusive club! I like jasmine scented oolongs as much as the next tea drinker, but this is ten times as good as that – it’s only been a few hours since I finished that last infusion and I’m already salivating at the thought of another. My 10g sample will be gone before I know it, and I definitely intended to buy more of this once that happens.
Where To Buy:
Enjoyed exclusively by the imperial family in China for centuries, the Silky Silver Needle is a top-grade white tea with a soft, smooth, and silky-sweet taste experience. An ethereal cup with a lingering fragrance and refreshing aftertaste. Pure and refreshing.
How is Pekoe Silver Needle produced?
The tea leaves for making Pekoe Silver Needle are gathered only for a few days in early spring. Teas cannot be picked on rainy days or early morning when there is still dew on the leaves; leaves which have experienced any kind of damage are discarded. Only the finest, healthiest tea buds are picked. White teas differed from green teas in that their processing did not incorporate any steaming or pan-firing. The teas were simply allowed to wither dry, thus the tea leaves are preserved most close to their natural state.
How to steep Pekoe Silver Needle?
To fully appreciate the exquisite shapes of this tea, using a clear glass is strongly suggested. Warm the glass first with boiling water and then pour 200 ml of water (80 degree) over around 3 grams of tea. The tea leaves will start to float on top of the glass. After 5 minutes, some leaves will sink down to the bottom of the glass while others remain at the top. All tea leaves will then stand up vertically performing a magical dance – An enchanting sight to enjoy before drinking the tea.
Which region is Pekoe Silver Needle from?
Our Pekoe Silver Needle is from Fuding. Different from the Zhenghe Silver Needle, the Fuding Silver Needle is famous for the tea’s thick layer of white coat, resulting in a clean, fragrant, and refreshing taste experience.
I have to say LEARNING about Silky Silver Needle from Teasenz was just as fun as tasting it! This is incredibly clean, thirst quenching, sweet, juicy, pure, and delicious! I enjoy this both hot and cold. It’s hard to over infuse which is always a plus. It doesn’t turn to bitter even if over infused. I can envision myself even using this in cooking – in soups or rice or even with noodles. This is a very good Silver Needle!