2018 Laoshan Osmanthus Black / Verdant

Osmanthus. A flowering tree native to Eastern Asia. There are many varieties but the bright, orange blossoms indicate that this is the Osmanthus fragrans. Of all the teas this family, the He family, produces this one ranks of the top of the difficulty list. Due to the tiny size of the flowers they all must be hand-picked.

For each batch they must pick thousands of flowers. After de-stemming and getting rid of all else they dry the flowers while processing the tea. Once they reach the finishing stage the flowers are added to the tea. One might ask if all that trouble is worth it.

Yes. Double and triple yes.

You may open the package and find it lacks scent as I did and wonder what you are in for. This is my first time trying out an osmanthus flower mixed with a tea. It won’t be the last. The wet leaves boast a unique aroma, unlike anything I’ve smelled in a tea before. It is sweet, like perfume, with high floral notes and scant earthy undertones. Hold on to your hats, the amazing train doesn’t stop there.

The clear, amber liquid, light at first but becoming slightly darker as you steep it longer, has a silky mouthfeel with a tiny bit of astringency in the aftertaste. A whirlwind of flavor begins with orange-chocolate tones and changes to brown sugar. Fruity accents, woodsy undertones.

Everything comes together so nicely on the palette. I think I need more of this.

 

 

 


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Leaf Type: Black

Where to Buy: Verdant Tea

Description:

This is a brand new 2018 premiere! Last year we were lucky enough to share the He Family’s Roasted Oolong scented with local osmanthus flowers. This year Mr. He wanted to share a rich reserve-level Autumn Harvest Laoshan Black, scented during finishing with tiny hand-picked Laoshan Osmanthus flowers. The brown sugar, honey and fruity chocolate notes are melded together perfectly with the luscious almost creamy floral of the He Family’s meticulously hand-harvested Osmanthus blossoms. This tea is one of the hardest to make in the He Family collection since the local osmanthus blossoms are so small that they have to pick thousands just to make tiny batch of finished tea, but the results are worth the effort.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Cherry Bakewell/Bird & Blend Tea Co

This Cherry Bakewell tea by Bird and Blend Co. has been sitting in my stash since January and I keep looking past it and grabbing other options. I am not sure why but this isn’t a flavor that makes me stop in my tracks to brew it. However, when I saw it posted on Instagram with the caption “This is dessert in a cup without being too sweet or artificial tasting”, it definitely piqued my interest. Now I don’t actually know what a cherry bakewell tart is but dessert in a cup sounds good to me.

The tea, which is made of Chinese white tea, almond, cranberries, hibiscus, rosehip, apple, currants, blackcurrant, and red and blue cornflowers, brews up a shade of pink that makes me worry that the hibiscus and rosehips might be in charge.

Though there is a that typical tartness from the hibiscus and rosehips, that is not the main flavor component but rather a topnote. The strongest flavor in my opinion is the almond. The almond and the white tea which makes for a nutty/buttery combo that does help create the idea of a tart shell. That tart shell transitions into a red fruit quality from the cranberries and currants, not a distinctly cherry flavor but alright nonetheless. However, that hibby/rosehip tartness then pops at the back of your throat and really takes you out of the the whole idea of a tart.

It definitely pushes towards dessert but it is not overly sweet or fake tasting. So, in that sense, the instagram posted that inspired me to take this out of the drawer was definitely correct. However, I just wish there was less tart and more cherry. Personally, I could also do with a little more sweetness since the blending of the tart shell and filling can be slightly one-note at times.


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Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  Bird & Blend Tea Co.

Description

Bakewell Tart is the classic tea time treat with juicy cherries and sweet almond. This luxury white tea blend is bursting with the same fruit juices and hints of sweet almond nuts, making it the perfect afternoon tea choice.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Creme Brulee Grey Black Tea/Plum Deluxe

Earl Grey tea is black tea with bergamot flavor, and there is a huge difference in natural bergamot – a type of sour orange – and artificial. Some people think they don’t like Earl Grey because they tried either a tea made with a poor substitute for the real deal or a base that too lemony and astringent to take on sour orange. Others love the stuff, any old way.

Enter Creme Brulee black tea. Plum Deluxe has blended a strong black tea base with orange peel, jasmine flowers (<3), blue cornflower, bergamot oil, vanilla extract, and….here I quote the package…love and gratitude.

This tea is STRONG. I don’t mean strong, in-your-face bergamot. I mean they didn’t wimp out on us for the black tea base. It is quality stuff. The first cup has deep, dark, rich color. The bergamot flavor is strong enough to please an Earl Grey lover, and balanced enough with the other ingredients to please the reluctant. The addition of vanilla adds a nice creaminess, and jasmine sweetens it. The aftertaste leaves a brisk tingle on the tongue.

To stretch my sample, I made a second steep. It was good, and sufficiently strong! In future, I would blend the two steeps together at the outset and double my tea dollar. The price is reasonable for a blend of this quality, but more money equals more tea! I was smitten with their Reading Nook blend, so I want to get the most bang for my buck so I can get all the teas I love and share them, too.

I checked out their accessories page and saw quite a few items that would make great gifts…or treats for me! I was rather taken with the pewter dragonfly strainer, but the Victorian infuser was really nice as well. This is also one of the more reasonable subscription boxes. Take a look!


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Plum Deluxe

Description

Creme Brulee Earl Grey was the winner in our recent customer appreciation month vote – it won by a landslide, which tells you how good it is. The creamiest of cream earl greys, the brisk bergamot notes balance nicely wonderful rich cream notes. It makes a dandy London Fog (earl grey latte) or just enjoy it with your favorite tea cookie or biscuit.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

2008 Menghai Ripened Puerh/Teavivre

I was introduced to Teavivre by a Tea Friend on Facebook. She told me that it was some of the best teas she had ever tried.

With that glowing recommendation I went to check out their site. They had a fantastic promotion going where you could get 5 FREE samples if you paid the $4.90 shipping.

What an awesome deal!

When I opened the sample bag I had a hard time smelling the pu-erh so I poured it into my Gaiwan. Once it was in there I was able to smell a sweet, fruity, honey-like aroma. It was such a nice smell I was excited for my first sip! Teavivre recommends the brew temperature of 212ºF for 3-5 minutes.

However, if you look on their website that is if you are making a full cup. Since I am making my Pu-erh in a Gaiwan they had different instructions!

For the Chinese Gongfu Method they recommend to still use 212ºF water for 12 separate steepings: rinse twice, 15 seconds, 15s, 15s, 15s, 15s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 60s, 100s, 160s. It goes on to say that each rinse time is 5 seconds.

As the first and second rinse steeped I could tell why they recommended a rinse, these first steepings had an almost smoky aroma which I wasn’t expecting. I am not a huge fan of smoky teas so I was a little nervous.

By the first 15 second steeping the smoky smell had completely disappeared and I was left with a mild, sweet smell with just the right amount of earthiness. There was a light nuttiness to the flavor which was incredibly pleasant. As I went through each steeping the tea became sweeter and more floral in aroma and kept the sweet but nutty flavor.

I absolutely loved this tea and would highly recommend it to anyone that likes a darker tea or is generally curious about Pu-erh tea. This is a great starter pu-erh, the sweet flavor will pull you in! Also, since it is so low in caffeine (less than 10% of a cup of coffee) it is one that you can drink at any time of day. Also, since you can get so many steepings out of the tea leaves it is absolutely worth the money you spend.

I look forward to adding more of this tea to my cabinet!


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Leaf Type:  Puerh

Where to Buy: Teavivre

Description

Soft and smooth, rich and thick texture

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Keemun Mao Feng Black Tea Grade One/AprTea Mall

Keemun is my absolute favorite tea for breakfast. Once upon a time long ago, if you asked for breakfast tea, Keemun was what you were given. These days, even specifically ordering English Breakfast can result in many different types of tea being delivered to you, with Assam or Kenyan tea being the most likely to show up at your table. There are many, many kinds!

But Keemun is gentler on my stomach and still has that “start the day” vibe. Although I rarely add anything to my tea, Keemun can take additions of milk and/or sugar and still shine. The taste is so great as is that I don’t want to dampen it.

This particular Keemun is the middle grade offered by AprTea Mall. I reserve the highest grades for afternoon tea or for drinking by themselves, and I don’t enjoy lower grade Keemun teas nearly as much, but I find a mid-grade to be just what I am looking for in a breakfast tea or to pair with a meal.

The leaves are very dark, long, and lightly twisted. These are whole leaves and not broken bits. The dry leaf aroma is fruity, and the wet leaf aroma is fruity and bright.

It has just enough heft and just enough cocoa or malt flavor to be paired with waffles and syrup and clear the palate without the pucker factor of most breakfast teas. This particular Keemun also has that hint of fruit that earns some of these the designation of a “winey” Keemun, although it is just a hint here and not terribly pronounced.

Overall, I deem this to be a good, serviceable Keemun that I can enjoy as a daily drinker.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  AprTea Mall

Description

Keemun Mao Feng (祁门毛峰): Keemun Mao Feng is a kind of Keemun Black Tea,has a more refined production process.using one bud and one leaf for full fermentation. the shape is cord tight knot small as eyebrow, the luster is Ukraine; tea aroma lasting fragrance, like fruit orchid fragrance, the aroma has this special name “Qimen fragrant” in the international tea market; tea soup color and leaf color is red and bright, the taste is fresh and thick, and even drink with milk and the sweet sugar, the aroma is not only reduced, but more fragrant.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!