The Dancing Flavors of Sun Moon Lake Tea from Taiwan Leaf Tea. . .

There is a form of hypnosis caused by watching water move – At once it’s both calming and playful, it invites us to stay and watch stories unfold. My folks often invite us over to the lake house, and as much as we can cause a raucous, I take a simple pleasure in just watching the light dancing over the rippling lake. I am doing this as I steep the Sun and Moon Lake tea from Taiwan Leaf Tea.

There are deep chestnut colored, thick, loosely twisted leaves with a hint of apple chips smell to them. They yield a sumptuous auburn colored tea that now smells of rose and honey. Wow, this is so unexpectedly beautiful. I find that as my eyes take in the visual symphony on the water, the medium-bodied mouthfeel of this tea provides an equally stimulating journey for my taste buds. The more I drink it, the more I find to like about it.

Though there are no added flavors, I find a natural hint of sweetness but the tiniest incidental Granny Smith crisp to it, hmmm but without any tart pucker face. I’m torn between adding sugar to bring the flavors out more or leaving it as is. A sip ends with a short, smooth yet robust aftertaste. Nope, that sugar didn’t do anything here to enhance those subtle flavor nuances. On its own, it’s a well-rounded, meditative tea.

One of my favorites from this whole review box, Definitely a keeper. Would be great for sipping during an artistic event – figure skating at the Olympics comes to mind, or even just a walk past the new spring blossoms peeking out lately.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black loose leaf tea
Where to Buy: Taiwan Leaf Tea

Premium Taiwan Sun Moon Lake Black Tea (Tea # 18) is rare black (red) tea from Central Taiwan (Yuchi, Nantou County).

Sun Moon Lake is located in Nantou County in Central Taiwan. It is surrounded by mountains. Average temperature is very stable during the whole year and humidity is very high. These all enable tea leaves grow rich and intense.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Nonpareil Anxi Qing Yiang Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea by Teavivre . . . . .

I steeped about half the sample packet (or a little over half) in about 10 ounces of water at 212 degrees for about 6 minutes.

It smells indisputably delicious as it starts to brew. Buttery, creamy, smooth, and rich. Also a tiny bit seaweedy/vegetal/grassy, but that’s subsumed by the butteriness.

The packet says to brew 4-10 minutes, which means it’s probably great for resteeping since you only need to steep it about 5-6 minutes in my experience (and with a little less water it would be less). So if you’re in the mood to re-steep, this might be a good choice for you. (As opposed to when you’re on the road or something and resteeping isn’t convenient.)

I started out using a tea ball to contain the leaves, but after a couple of minutes it became clear that wasn’t going to work out because they were just expanding too much so I let them out. Next time I’d just put them directly in the water or use a brew basket. That way I’d be able to watch them unroll too, which is always fun.

After steeping, I ended up with a nice light yellowish-green liquid (hard to say the exact shade though because I was using a green mug). It smells the tiniest bit flowery in addition to the buttery flavor.

The combo of green and creamy flavors reminds me a bit of matcha actually, although it’s gentler here and less vegetal in flavor. This is a very well-rounded flavor profile, with the bright, floral, and creamy notes complementing each other in a balanced and enjoyable fashion. Each sip is amazing. The floral bit catches your nose as you go to take a sip; the creaminess is there the whole time, and you taste the green/vegetal bit during the sip, and afterwards there’s even a slightly sweet aftertaste. And I don’t even prefer unroasted oolongs as a rule, so I’m extremely impressed with this tea and how much I enjoyed it! Teavivre has done an amazing job with this one as usual!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Oolong
Where to Buy:  Teavivre

This tea is no longer available but click below for teas that are available.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

What’s in a name? Diksam TGFOP 1 2nd Flush 2013 Assam

Today I tried a tea from Lochan Tea Limited, Diksam TGFOP 1 2nd Flush 2013 Assam.  Let’s start with breaking down that name! “Diksam” is the estate where these leaves are grown, part of the “Assam” tea region in India.  “TGFOP 1” is the designation or grade of the tea, in this case it stands for: Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe One.  “2nd Flush” indicates when this tea was collected.  In the case of Indian teas like this Assam, the 2nd harvest is more prized for its higher content of “golden tip” tea leaves.

This particular batch was harvested in 2013.  I’m a bit late to the party on this tea, since most leaves are at their best when fresh, but this brew still had some life in it.

Whew with all of that knowledge sinking in, let’s explore how this tea actually brewed up!  These leaves steeped into a rich, dark red tea smelling slightly sharp and bold right from the start.  When the tea was at its hottest, there was a scent of burnt caramel mixed in with the malty notes.  The taste of this tea echoed these scents while brewing, though there were new flavors as well, like a deep foliage note at the back of each sip.  This tea was definitely heavy and full-bodied, more earthy than astringent.  The tea was strong enough to hold up its boldness when mixed with milk.  The milk helped mellow out any bitterness and brought forward more of the barky, nutty tones.
While this particular batch isn’t available on Lochan Tea Limited at this time, they have a range of other premium black teas.  Now that you’re armed with the knowledge of the tea naming system, you’ll know more about what you’re ordering!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Lochan Tea Limited

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Milk Oolong from Mandala Tea

MilkOolongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy: Mandala Tea

Tea Description:

We are so excited about this tea and judging by the repeat buys, our customers are too!  It possesses a creamy aroma with hints of coconut, hard toffee candy along with the classic floral undertone present in so many high-end Taiwanese oolongs.  The producers aromatize high quality leaves from plants that grow in altitudes between 1,600 and 3,200 feet above sea level.

The Fall 2014 crop delivers the dessert-like notes in early infusions and a beautiful, balanced cup.  In later steepings aromas of lilac and gardenia begin to move more forward.  Production is an artform and those who create it are quite guarded about proprietary steps in processing. Through many tastings, our appreciation for their craft only increases.  No “off” aromas and not a trace of artificial or chemical flavor.  It is a wonderfully complex tea, sure to please most any tea drinker.  And if they weren’t a tea drinker to begin with, they will be after trying this!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Never having Mandala Tea before, I was quite excited when I saw a package of Milk Oolong appear in a goodie box I recently received.  Mandala Tea has always been a company I’ve wanted to try but when you have a tea stash that is over 800 teas, its hard to justify one more order.

I open the package and take a deep breath and inhale the amazing aromas coming from this dry leaf tea.  Sweet and very dessert like, exactly what the description of the tea indicates. I prepped my water and sat and watched the tea leaves uncurl and dance around in my tea pot.

I pour myself a rather large mug of this gorgeous pale yellow brew and proceed to take my first sip.  The first notes that hit you are a rich buttery one.  It seriously envelops your entire mouth. All the while notes of an almost vegetal feel and coconut flavor swirl around, making a really nice creamy touch. I can pick up an additional sweetness but I’m not sure if its more sugary or toffee-like the description depicts.  There are other flavors that peek out here and there but I can’t really define them. Such a wonderful tea.  Complex yet simple all in the same if that makes sense.

All I know is this is one great tea that is perfect for any time of the day! Sweet, rich, buttery, with a slight vegetal touch. . .really good.  I plan on spending the rest of the day with this tea and I can’t wait to see what the second infusion brings.

For my first experience with Mandala Tea. I think I have a winner on my hands!

Black Tea from Gorreana

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Gorreana Tea

Tea Description:

Our second leaf pekoe black tea is a premium grade European grown tea that cannot be matched in flavor anywhere in the world.

Grown in the mineral rich hills of the Azores islands, hundreds of miles away from industrial pollution comes this fantastic full bodied luxurious black tea.

A smooth black tea prized for its beautiful full flavored leaves, mouthwatering fresh taste and distinctive rich aroma.

Harvested fresh annually during the summer months then processed and packaged directly at our eco-friendly tea estate to ensure only the finest organic black tea leaves make its way to your cup since 1883.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is a very smooth, almost velvety tea, that has a light fruity sip to it. I like the peachy notes I am picking up and quite enjoy its lighter black tea taste. I can’t say this would kick me into high gear first thing in the morning but for an early evening tea when I need that subtle pick me up without making me feel I am being jarred awake – this fits the bill!

I adore peach notes in tea as a general rule and this one is quite refreshing indeed.

The tea steeps into a lovely rusty color and gives off only the slightest aroma of cinnamon.

This tea has absolutely no astringency or bitterness within it and is an excellent tea to have daily as a regular stash tea! I could easily see serving this tea to anyone even if they are not tea drinkers. It is so easy to sip, pleasing, and enjoyable.

From Eurpoe’s oldest remaining tea company the estate is quite impressive. You can find more information about that here.

I am not saying this is by any means the most complex tea I have ever had, but sometimes all we want is a good solid dependable tea we can count on to deliver a quality brew without all the frills.

Personally I would enjoy this tea in the morning when I have a “day off” and can ease into my day or anytime in the early evenings when I just want to kick back and enjoy the moment. Its easy and pleasing. I am enjoying it now and it is soothing me into my evening quite well.

Although it is light in flavor, bright and cherry in its ways, the mouthfeel is thicker, richer, and as I said earlier – velvety almost creamy.

I think that is what makes this tea so very interesting! When you sip you expect something heavier, maltier perhaps, but its light juicy flavor makes you do a double take!

And while this is a black tea, I am detecting some almost vegetal notes within it. For a tea that is not ULTRA complex it does have its curious notes within it!

I will have to figure out how to get more of this in my stash soon and will be sad to see my little sample go.