Vietnam Gui Fei Oolong from What Cha. . . .

I may have gone a bit overboard this past Black Friday. I was splurging on tea orders right, left, and center. Normally those orders would be for flavored teas but a friend of mine was ordering from websites that have huge selections of straight teas and I decided to join in on her orders. One such site was What-Cha. I have had several of their straight teas thanks to others sharing samples with me and I’ve always been impressed.

More than just straight teas, I decided to go wild when it came to the oolong sections of these sites. In hindsight this was a weird choice for me since up until recently I wouldn’t even try a flavored oolong tea, let alone a straight one. I guess as time goes on, your tastes change and my tastes are moving towards oolongs. What Cha must have sensed that because this tea, Vietnam Gui Fei Oolong Tea, arrived as the sample in our order.

This tea has a really nice honey sweetness. That is what stands out sip after sip. As I continue to drink it does become a bit more nuanced with the honey giving way to a touch of signature oolong toastiness. The more I focus, the more I can taste. In addition to the honey, the sweetness has a slight taste of stonefruit and raisin and a little citrus zip intermingled with the toastiness. Also, floating about is a touch of rose/floral that could be present because I expect that in an oolong more than because its actually there.

What is nice about this tea is that the sweetness gives it some body and that body reads almost like a caramel / malt making this come off like a dessert tea despite it having no dessert flavorings. It is light and rich at the same time which makes it easy to drink again and again.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Oolong
Where to Buy:  What Cha
Description

A highly aromatic oolong with a wonderfully sweet honey aroma and taste accompanied by citrus fruit notes of orange blossoms and peach.

Gui Fei is notable as it requires the leaf to be nibbled by leafhoppers just like Oriental Beauty. The tea plant responds by releasing more polyphenols into the leaves, resulting in added sweetness and complexity in the tea.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Anxi Gande 2A Iron Goddess of Mercy Oolong Tea/ JK Tea Shop. . . . .

Inception tea!

It’s tea within a bag, within a bag! I’m so excited to open this!

First bag opened. Second bag snipped.

Houston we have tea.

Tightly rolled balls of emerald and dark green.

No noticeable smell or at least nothing note worthy.

Tea and water into the gaiwan. I wonder if anyone does water first?

I don’t see that working as well. A very light oolong in both aroma and flavor. Orchid is the highlight for both. With slight, very slight vegetal and grass notes.

The mouth feel is silky. Like most oolongs this one re-steeps quite well.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: JK Tea Shop
Description:

Tie Guan Yin Oolong tea, also called Iron Goddness of Mercy(literally in English).

For this 2A grade Tie Guan Yin, it is light-roasted, enjoying very good light orchid fragrance. After sipping the tea liquid, you can still feel the good orchid fragrance in the whole mouth.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

An Interesting Take on a Oolong from Verdant Tea. . . .

Did you ever try a tea and it doesn’t taste like the description? So you aren’t sure if you’re crazy?

No?

FINE.

This tea, 1995 Aged Tieguanyin, is supposed to taste like cream, caramel, marigold, and cherry. I am getting spicy (!) and nectar. So I guess the nectar/slightly flowery taste could be the marigold and the caramel? But there’s definitely a little bit of a hot zing in here.

The flowery nature is definitely in there. According to this tea’s (very frou-frou) description, “Master Zhang’s terraced fields on the cloud-enveloped peaks of Anxi are overgrown with wildflowers, and fed by naturally sweet and clear mountain spring water.”

I see the combination of the flowers, the spice, and the aging as a movie in which a woman gets kidnapped by a salty old pirate (hot). He tries to woo her with flowers (flowery) on his creaky boat (aged). She comes to realize that her old life, with its cross-stitching and frills, was stuffy. She comes out as gay and spends the rest of her life being platonic best friends with the pirate and mastering the sea. The credits roll on her climbing up into the rigging to do some sort of, you know, adjusting the sails thing or whatever. At sunset.

This tea wasn’t what I thought it would be. But if weren’t for the tea, we wouldn’t have that nice pirate story, now would we? Sometimes you have to take an unexpected adventure.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Oolong
Where to Buy:  Verdant Tea
Description

This 1995 aged Tieguanyin varietal harvest already has over twenty years of aging. Master Zhang’s terraced fields are overgrown with wildflowers, and fed by naturally sweet and clear mountain spring water. The natural complexity of his tea makes it a perfect candidate for careful aging, which involves yearly re-roasting and sealed storage. The result is a classic rich dark profile that brings out the rich fruity creamy notes in Tieguanyin.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

An Early Taste of Spring with Mountain Oolong Spring. . . . .

Mountain Oolong Spring from Mountain Tea Co. is truly a springtime tea.  In the spring, everything blooms and bursts into life, and you can evoke this feeling by brewing a cup of this tea in your kitchen at home.  I’ve had quite a few teas that smell like jasmine or rose, but this tea lights up with the fragrance of less typical flowers, soft and feminine like baby’s breath or lily of the valley.

Putting your nose into a cup of this tea will envelop you with this relaxing, perfumey sensation.
Beyond the flavor of flowers, there are nutty and buttery tones to help fill out the brew and give the tea a smooth, rich mouthfeel.  The more I steeped these leaves, the brighter and greener the undertones became.

The most unique and memorable part of this tea is its forward floral accents.

If you’re a lover of flowery oolongs, Mountain Oolong Spring will be a perfect fit for your tastes.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Mountain Tea Co.
Description:

The character of a pot of tea tells a story about the leaf it originated from. Good tea is a mixed blessing for tea farmers; in general, the harder the tea plant struggles to grow, the more flavorful and tempered the finished brew becomes. For this reason higher elevation with colder temperatures and thinner air produces outstanding leaf.

The 2016 spring harvest of Mountain Oolong withstands high temperature water longer without introducing dryness to the flavor, producing a forgiving and well-behaved pot of tea for the busy brewer. The steeped cup reflects a beautifully clear yet deep honey gold color; the nose is creamy sweet over a faint, nostalgic scent of rice flower bud.  Notes for this crop are sharp and floral, paired with a robust body.  Expect flavors of citrus blossom mostly, nasal and high in the mouth.  Properly brewed we found that this tea has even greater re-steep potential than past flushes, up to six or seven.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Ma Liu Mie the Monkey King and Monkey Picked Oolong from Teavivre

There’s a lot to take in with a name like Taiwan Monkey Picked (Ma Liu Mie) Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea, but the most exciting part is “Monkey-Picked.”  What?  Really?  There were monkeys involved in getting this tea from the tree to my teapot?  According to legend, the steep cliff-side where this tea is grown is too treacherous for tea farmers to reach the leaves, so they trained monkeys to pick the leaves for them.  Ma Liu Mie is an honorable nickname for this tea used by the locals, as well as the name of the tea-picking Monkey King of legend. Read more about the tea under the “more info” tab here.

My first impression of this tea is that the leaves are small and dense, not cut or broken, but simply in a different shape than the long curls of black tea I’ve come to expect.  Dry, this oolong smells pleasantly earthy with a bit of stone-fruit sweetness like raisin or apricot.  I followed the recommended brewing instructions, using very hot, boiling water and a hefty serving of tea leaves.

At first sip, I notice strong roasted flavors.  However, this tea is not full-on smoke-flavored like lapsang souchong, instead it is more complex, like the perfect warm, golden-char flavor of eating food cooked over a campfire.  There are some of the aged, fermented notes I tend to associate with pu erh, but they are much more gentle and less sour. This type of earthiness is concentrated and layered, with notes of toasted grains, warm woods, and new leather.
On a day-to-day basis, I drink tea that is drinkable and easy-going.  I have to be in the right mood to want a bold, smokey lapsang souchong, or a challenging, fishy pu erh.  This Monkey Picked Oolong is a perfect compromise between all three.  It is so much more than a basic breakfast tea, but it is not so sour or smokey to bowl you over.  It is gentle and earthy, smooth and toasted, and it has a well-earned, legendary reputation.

How could you not give Monkey Picked Oolong a try?


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Teavivre
Description:

Using Taiwan autumn tea as material, this Monkey Picked Tie Guanyin carefully selected by TeaVivre is baked slowly by soft fire (the baking process falls into three steps and every step lasts two minutes). The degree of fermentation is 100 percent so that the dried tea can keep a long-lasting fragrance. After brewing, the smell of honey peach and the baked flavor can be perfectly appreciated and the beverage tastes gorgeously smooth.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!