Wild Raspberry Pu-erh from The Whistling Kettle

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh & White Tea Blend

Where to Buy:  The Whistling Kettle

Tea Description:

This Pu-Erh is flavorful, mild and with an addition of silver needles, makes a great iced tea. Dr. Oz has recommended this tea as a way to help lose weight. Pu-Erh also help reduce cholesterol and great after a meal to help “cut the grease”. Pu-Erh has probiotic properties no other type of tea has.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

As those of you who read this blog pretty regularly are probably aware, I’ve pretty much come around when it comes to Pu-erh.  There was a time when I DID NOT like Pu-erh … or at least I didn’t think I did.  I was even “afraid” of Pu-erh, so much so that when someone would send me some in a swap package, I’d send it off to someone else without even tasting it!  And that REALLY doesn’t sound like me, does it?  But it’s true.

Now, I’m not afraid of Pu-erh any more, although I do often cringe when I receive Pu-erh … worried that I will have a bad experience with it.  But truth be told, I have far more positive experiences with Pu-erh than negative ones.  The negative experiences are indeed very few and very far between!

This Pu-erh blend … is amazing.  And let me just say that if my first tasting of Pu-erh tasted anything like this … I would not have been so afraid of Pu-erh for so many years!  This is so good!

The raspberry notes are sweet with just a twinge of tartness to them – just enough to make it taste like a true berry taste.  There are hints of flower in the blend as well as a softness.  Soft is generally not a flavor I associate with Pu-erh so this is a characteristic I attribute to the white tea.  The white tea really offers little else to this blend, other than some visual interest to the dry leaf.  As I taste this, there isn’t a moment when I can say definitively “there’s the white tea.”  However, I don’t think that this blend would be quite the same without the white tea in it.  It adds something … a creaminess, perhaps?

However, the Pu-erh offers the majority of the flavor here.  And while it does have that distinctive Pu-erh earthiness, it is slight.  Instead, this simply tastes rich and mellow and smooth.  Almost like coffee, but without the bitterness of coffee.

A very enjoyable tea from the Whistling Kettle … and it’s a good one!

Silver Needle Bai Hao (Wu Yi Qu Hao) From In Nature

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  In Nature

Tea Description:

Silver Needle Bai Hao white tea is possibly the most natural form of tea. It is only made from the buds, picked when they are at their most tender.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The dry leaf doesn’t really look like any Silver Needle that I’ve ever seen before.  I see Silver Needles in there, but, then I also see larger leaves in there, darker leaves that look a bit like Bai Mu Dan, and perhaps even some Shou Mei.  Like a blend of at least the two, and possibly all three of these types of white tea.  The aroma is soft and reminiscent of fresh air and hay.  The brewed tea has a slight vegetative scent to it, and is a pale golden color – a bit darker than I’d expect from a typical Silver Needle.

The flavor is very nice – but again, it doesn’t taste to me like other Silver Needle teas that I’ve tasted.  Silver Needle tea is usually quite delicate.  And while this does have a certain delicate quality to it, it has a fuller, rounder taste.  It really doesn’t taste like a Silver Needle, but then again, it doesn’t taste like the Bai Mu Dan or Shou Mei teas that I’ve tried in the past either.  This has a unique and wonderful flavor all it’s own.

It is a very crisp flavor with a fair amount of astringency.  The layers of flavor reveal vegetative notes, nutty tones and hints of flower and fruit – almost an apple-like taste with a hint of honeysuckle.  There is even a hint of malt to this – almost like the flavor of infused hops.

I enjoyed this hot, but I think I liked it even better as it cooled.  It was very refreshing, and the tang of astringency toward the tail was very uplifting.  Not quite what I expected from a Silver Needle tea, but, I am enjoying it nonetheless.

Organic Silver Needle from Rishi Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  Rishi Tea

Tea Description:

Reserve White Tea with a sublime, sweet flavor and a rich, savory finish. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I did not find this particular Silver Needle on the Rishi website, I hope that it will be back in stock soon, because it is fabulous!

I chose to brew this cup in my gaiwan.  The leaves were so fluffy and soft, I just couldn’t bear to put them in anything other than my gaiwan, I wanted to enjoy these properly!

The aroma of the brewed cup is sweet, reminiscent of the fragrance of fresh hay in the clean, country air.  (Yes, I’ve smelled this.  I may live in a city now, but for most of my adolescence I lived in a small farming community town on a ranch, and I have a lot of experience with hay!)  It smells so clean and crisp and beautifully sweet.

And that’s very much what I taste, too:  a clean, crisp kind of flavor, fresh and slightly vegetal, with a hint of spice that arrives toward the finish to give it a savory kind of quality.  It is remarkably sweet and full of flavor, which is a little surprising as Silver Needle teas can sometimes be on the delicate side.  I do not find this tea to be delicate … at least, not in the sense of being softly flavored.  It has a delicate complexity though, with hints of flavors that seem to quickly present themselves to the palate and disappear almost as rapidly, causing the taste buds to perk up and say:  “what was that?”

I like that about Silver Needle tea, the overall cup may not always be delicate, but the nuances are often delicate in the way they present themselves.

I also like that this is an organic tea – as are all of Rishi’s teas!  I appreciate that they’ve set that kind of standard for themselves, so I know that when I’m tasting a Rishi Tea, I know that I’m getting a high quality, organic product.

And … if you haven’t done so yet, I highly recommend checking out their teaware … they are almost as drool worthy as the pages of tea that Rishi has available!

Silver Needle White Tea from Mandala Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  Mandala Tea

Tea Description:

A very precious and delicate tea characterized by the fine white hairs on the leaf. This beautiful white tea is only harvested for a couple of days each spring. It produces a rich body and savory aroma. Rich in antioxidants, as well as other extremely healthful minerals, white teas are less astringent than green teas with all of the same benefits. Its light and smooth flavor make it ideal for accompanying food, or soothing in the evening due to its lower level of caffeine.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Ah!  What a sweet and refreshing tea!

I’ve tasted quite a few Silver Needle teas, and even though I’ve had quite a bit of experience with this type of tea, it never ceases to surprise me just how much flavor can be found in this delicate tea.  Light?  Yes.  Delicate?  Yes.  Void of flavor?  Absolutely NOT!

These Silver Needles are very soft and covered in tiny hairs.  I love touching them before brewing them, they’re velvety and soft … like a cloud made of plush fur.  The texture of the brewed tea exhibits this same luxurious softness with its silky smooth mouthfeel.

The flavor is incredible.  It has a sweetness that permeates every moment of the sip, while a complex set of flavors play upon the palate, from grassy and hay-like tones, to hints of spice and wood, to an airy kind of flavor that evokes thoughts of the air I would breathe if I were taking a hike through the woods in the spring.

Another exceptional tea offering from Mandala Tea.  I’ve been very impressed with their dedication to quality!

Two Dragons and a Pearl from Teavivre

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Teavivre

Tea Description:

When you brew Two Dragons, two arms of jasmine and globe amaranth petals will slowly expand upwards cupping a single marigold flower – and so it is given the name of Two Dragons and a Pearl.  Thanks to the jasmine and amaranth, this tea has a wonderful sweet, flowery aroma and taste.  The taste is long-lasting and will survive 2 or 3 infusions.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is the third and final tea from my Steepster Select box from February:  Year of the Dragon.  It is a very slow-to-open blooming tea from Teavivre.  It’s fun to watch it slowly unfurl to reveal the beautiful flowery display tucked inside the handcrafted bulb.

The instructions suggest using boiling water and 2 minutes steep time.  However, I couldn’t bear to pour boiling water over these bulbs, I was afraid I’d burn them.  Instead, I heated the water to 185°F, and steeped for 2 1/2 minutes.  Only a few leaves opened away from the bulb, so, I infused it a second time, adding 1 minute onto the steep time. With the second infusion, the bulb expanded more, revealing hints of the colors of the display, but, still did not open fully. 

It wasn’t until the third and final infusion that the bulb fully opened, revealing a beautiful orange flower at the base of the leaves, and jasmine “arms” that reach up to hold a gorgeous red flower.  The photo to the right doesn’t begin to do justice to how lovely this bloom really is.

The tea from the first infusion was a very gentle flavored tea, with notes of jasmine and hints of fresh grass and hay.  It was delicious, but I do think it could have improved with a longer steep time.  Perhaps a hotter water would have produced more flavor as well, but again, having scorched more than my share of green and white teas in my past, this is something I do not wish to repeat.

The second infusion provided a much more flavorful cup.  The flavor is sweet and floral, and the tea tastes fresh and even a little creamy.  Very smooth, with no notable astringency or bitterness.  The third infusion was a little less flavorful, but still was quite enjoyable … and even though the flavor had waned a little, the splendor of the bulb finally opening fully made it worth the effort to steep it a third time.

Another lovely tea experience from Teavivre.  I’ve come to expect greatness from them, and they’ve yet to fail!