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: Nan Nuo Shan
Anji Bai Cha owns a delicate, soft and relaxing taste, with a light sweet aftertaste.
Characteristic of this green tee variety is the colour of the leaves, rather white than green; in Chinese, baimeans white. The lack of pigment is due to the low chlorophyll content of the plant.
Learn more about this tea here.
The dry leaf of this Anji Bai Cha Green Tea from Nan Nuo Shan is so beautiful! It looks almost like pine needles – but it doesn’t smell like it! It has a delicate aroma, smelling lightly sweet and slightly vegetal.
To brew this, I suppose I could have reached for my Gaiwan (they are very similar to a silver needle, after all) but I decided to grab my Kati Tumbler instead. I couldn’t measure this leaf with my bamboo scoop because the leaves just didn’t really work very well for it, so I simply used my fingers to pinch some tea out of the packet and into the basket of my Kati and eyeballed it when it looked to me to be about a bamboo scoop’s worth.
Then I added hot water (175°F) and let the tea steep for 1 1/2 minutes. The brewed tea is so light in color – a pale, yellowish green. The aroma is also quite light and gave me the initial impression that the overall flavor would be equally as light.
But it isn’t! This is a very flavorful tea despite it’s rather delicate appearance and fragrance.
Sweet! I taste notes of sweet grass and hints of flower in the distance. It’s a very smooth and relaxing flavor. There is some dry astringency toward the finish, it’s almost as if the tea is gently patting my palate dry to ready it for the next sip.
There is a light ‘airiness’ to this tea, like the flavor of the air in a meadow. The grassy notes and whispers of flower that mingle in the air as a gentle breeze filters through. As I continue to sip, I taste notes of melon – a sweet, juicy melon!
A delight to sip, this sweet tea that calms me with each sip. This is de-stress at it’s best!
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.
I love a really good Dragon Well – or Long Jing Green Tea – and this Organic Dragon Well Green Tea from Canton Tea Co. is REALLY good.
Whenever spring approaches, one of the questions that’s often asked among tea drinkers is ‘where are you getting this year’s Dragon Well? And while there are many fine purveyors of exceptional Dragon Well teas, this Organic Dragon Well from Canton is one of the better Dragon Well teas that I’ve tried and I’ve tried quite a few. Only a few of them are teas that I can recall from memory as being really good – this would be one of those ‘really good’ Dragon Well teas that I’ll remember!
It’s so sweet, lightly grassy/vegetative with hints of butter. The buttery notes give the somewhat grassy taste more of a vegetable type of flavor, evoking thoughts of freshly steamed green beans that have been lightly drizzled with melted butter. It has a pleasantly creamy texture. There’s very little astringency (next to no astringency!) and no bitterness.
And it’s a tea that keeps on steeping! I got three very flavorful infusions out of one measurement of leaves! So get your mileage out of this tea and take it for a couple of infusions!
I’ve often heard that the proper way to drink a Dragon Well is in a tall glass with the leaves sitting in the bottom of the glass and as you drink the liquid, keep adding more water – and you drink it like this all day long. Now, I’ve never tried my Dragon Well like this. The truth is that my first experience with Dragon Well wasn’t a positive experience.
I don’t know if that bad experience with the Dragon Well was because at the time I was a bit of a novice when it comes to brewing green teas in general and the water I used was too hot, or if it was possibly because the Dragon Well that I had at the time was of a lesser quality, all I know is that I did not like it!
And after that experience, I was very hesitant to try another Dragon Well. Until I finally did and I realized, “HEY! I like this!” That realization could have been due to the fact that I knew better ways to brew green teas or again, it could have been the quality. But, I’m more inclined to believe that it had more to do with the fact that I knew how to steep a green tea at that point.
But because of that first experience, I’m hesitant to try my Dragon Well teas a different way. I found the way I enjoy them, so why fix it if it ain’t broken, right?
Back to THIS Dragon Well – this is one I’d suggest trying. This could be your new Dragon Well!
Leaf Type: Green Tea
Where to Buy: Verdant Tea
Mrs. Li’s father was one of the most respected professional tea tasters in Zhejiang, and a farmer since age 16. Mrs. Li is proud to carry on her father’s tradition of hand picking and roasting pure, organically-produced Dragonwell.
The tree covered mountainside tea fields of Mrs. Li are fed by sweet natural spring water from Dragonwell, and are protected from excessive heat or sunlight, creating a sweet and crisp brew with not a trace of bitterness. At the peak of freshness, her tea changes the way that you think about green tea.
Learn more about this tea here.
Recently on Steepster, there was a discussion on where people would be getting their Dragonwell teas this season. To that discussion, I think I might suggest this Mrs. Li’s 2014 Shi Feng Dragonwell Green Tea from Verdant Tea! Because … oh wow! This is one seriously spectacular Dragonwell!
I tried last year’s harvest of this tea, and at the time I was reviewing it, the tea had sold out. So, this is a tea you DO NOT want to hesitate on … because hesistation can mean the difference between getting some of this tea and having to wait until next year! This is a very special, very FRESH, limited edition tea that is well worth dropping everything and ordering some right now.
Since this is a very special Dragonwell, I decided that I should take it through it’s paces, and infuse it as many times as I could get flavor from it.
My first pot of this tea is sweet and toasty. The tasting notes on the website suggest “warm nutty cashew” and that’s what I’m tasting. It’s sweet, roasty-toasty, nutty, and creamy. It’s a nicely round flavor. The texture is soft and brothy and creamy. I emphasize ‘creamy’ here because it’s got that kind of taste and texture that makes me want to curl up in a bubble bath and just drink this. A sip of this tea and I can feel the worries and stresses of life melt away and I feel like I’m in heaven. It’s so luxurious and wonderful.
The second pot proved to be even sweeter and more intensely flavored than the first. I am still getting that warm, creamy cashew flavor and I’m also noticing more of a “browned butter” note: sweet, nutty, creamy and with a hint of savory. The creaminess in the first cup was more like a sweet cream sort of flavor, whereas this is more similar to the creaminess you’d experience from a brown butter sauce.
The third infusion had more of a “green tea” sort of taste, with stronger vegetal tones and as the description on the website suggests, hints of “matcha” like notes. Still buttery and nutty and sweet, I find this infusion to be a little less sweet than the previous two and a little more savory than they were. However, this still tastes sweeter than it does savory.
I am finding myself in utter AMAZEMENT by my fourth and final infusion (hey, I might have scheduled this for early in the day, but it’s getting late as I write it!) because this is still sweet and creamy and delicious! The flavors are getting lighter now than they were in the first three infusions.
And as promised, I am tasting notes of sweet, candied citrus, and yes, even some brown sugar notes. The creaminess has waned somewhat compared to the first three infusions, but I notice lovely creamy notes (particularly connected with the nutty tones, think a creamy cashew butter) but these creamy notes are more of a flavor than a texture.
If you’re looking for an exceptional Dragonwell – this is it. I highly recommend this. I know I’ve tasted a lot of Dragonwell teas and I’ve enjoyed most of them – but this one – this one is truly unique from the “usual” Dragonwell and deserves a place in the very upper echelon of those that I’ve tried. You would be hard pressed to find a better Dragonwell than this.
Leaf Type: White
Where to Buy: Steepster Select
Hand rolled from the earliest picked buds, this spring harvest tea is light, refreshing, and incredibly floral. A beautifully soft and golden liquor that will focus your senses and revitalize your spirits. A wonderful example of quality white tea.
I’ve had white tea pearls a couple of times in the past, but it’s been a while, so I was excited to see these Zhejiang White Pearls featured in this month’s Steepster Select Box! And these pearls are amazing!
The size of these pearls are smaller than I remember the white tea pearls that I’ve had in the past being. Size wise, these are similar to jasmine pearls – but they don’t smell like jasmine pearls! They have more of a vegetal aroma.
And they certainly don’t taste like jasmine pearls, either!
The flavor is sweet and like honey! Imagine a very thin honey! That’s what I’m drinking right now! It is very light and crisp. There are very subtle notes of melon, air, earth and a light floral tone in the background. For those of you who consider a white tea to be too delicate – you should try this one, because the flavors stand out!
Later infusions were a little earthier than the earlier infusions and a little less like thinned honey. Still sweet and the floral notes begin to emerge. Still a delightful tea, I think I preferred the first two infusions to the last two. (It’s still well worth the effort to keep on infusing!)
I am thrilled with this month’s Steepster Select box! And I want to take a moment to express how happy I am with the customer service from Steepster. I encountered some issues with my account, and they worked very hard to get these issues resolved, and when the resolution took more time and effort than expected, they sent me this month’s box free of charge to make up for my troubles. Thank you, Steepster! If you’re on the fence about trying this amazing monthly subscription, rest assured knowing that you’re in good hands with Steepster! They’ll take good care of you!