Review: Cameron Tea Alishan Jin Xuan Oolong – Competition Grade

Cameron Tea, Oolong Tea No Comments »
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"This is one of the few milk oolongs I’ve come across that actually delivers a realistic, naturally milky flavour. This tea also tastes great cold, allows for multiple steepings, and has a reasonable price point: an all around winner! "
Sophie’s Teaview: 9.3/10
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cameronalishancompgradeGrown at an altitude of 1500 meters above sea level on the slopes of Mt Ali, this type of oolong is known for it’s milky taste and sweet floral notes. The blackish green leaves have been rolled into tight little nuggets. These seem to be on the small side for a high altitude oolong. Their scent is quite sweet, with a tart undertone, mixing lilac and strawberry notes – it’s quite a mouthwatering combination!

I brew a generous teaspoonful in 250ml of water heated to 95 degrees Celsius for 2 and a half minutes. The resulting pale gold cup offers a light floral fragrance. Taking a sip, the top notes are full of toasted grains, particularly oats. The flavours get progressively more floral, ending with an intensely sweet finish. There is a creamy tinge to the sweeter tones but these are not outright milky.

My second brew is much more successful as far as milky flavours are concerned. After 3 minutes, a slightly mineral, yet convincing milk taste has developed. There are still lots of toasted grains present. The sweetness of the aftertaste of the previous cup has pretty much receded into the background though.

I manage to pull 2 more respectable steeps from the leaves, following a 4 and a 5 minute long brew. The flavours veer back towards sweeter tones, featuring mild tart stone fruit and floral notes. The milky taste is still there but the grassier and more mineral aspects of the cup progressively take up more space. A more patient tea drinker than I would be able to pull another decent cup from the leaves I’m sure.

This is one of the few milk oolongs I’ve come across that actually delivers a realistic, naturally milky flavour. The toasted grains and flower notes are nice complements, but can sometimes overshadow it, especially during the first steep. It would be worth experimenting with the brewing parameters to see what might come out of a gongfu style infusion or using cooler water temperatures. This tea also tastes great cold, making it a good candidate for summertime concoctions, and allows for multiple steepings. Combined with a reasonable price point, this offering is an all around winner!

— To purchase Cameron Tea Alishan Jin Xuan Oolong – Competition Grade, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Sophie Sophie
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Review: Vintage Tea Company Anji Baicha

Green Tea, Vintage Tea Company No Comments »
Raven’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Fresh, with a nutty, herbaceous savour"
Raven’s Teaview: 8.3/10
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vintageanjibaichaAs soon as I discovered Anji Bai Cha, it became a favourite. Maybe because of its elegant style, like delicate pine needles, or its oxymoron existence, as a white green tea, but something about it is just divine. With the opportunity to try out Vintage Tea Company, it was a lovely surprise to see they offered an Anji Bai Cha, as it remains a less common offering. Yet, Vintage Tea Company specializes in Chinese tea and single harvest gems with a handful of teas of each kind from yellow to pu erh. The amount of information they give on each of their teas reveals their passion and is all the more enticing. From spring of 2013, their Anji Bai Cha was harvested nice and early and comes in sizes for a quite a prettier penny than others. While Anji Bai Cha tends to be a more expensive green tea, Vintage Tea Company’s Anji Bai Cha contends particularly high leaf quality for the dearer price to have the makings for a precious treat.

The tea’s leaves are cleanly rolled, with thin spindles of forest green to some of a more yellowish green buds interspersed by a few open single base leaves. While they seem brighter hued and slightly less neat, they still have a classical grace. Their medium bouquet is equally refined with a kind of herbaceous vegetal green aroma falling from a, a subtlely edgy piney cool and slightly rich nutty notes that brings to mind rosemary and dried artichokes. It’s not as piney or rich as some Anji Bai cha I’ve had but the scent has enough of both to add an appetizing appeal with a fresh vitality.

Vintage Tea Company recommends steeping two grams of tea per one hundred milliliters or a bit shy of half a cup. Thus, twenty five grams would yield but five cup sized sessions although, they suggest four infusions per session for just two minutes each steep. Although it seems like a lot of leaves, it does seem worth it. Brewed at 80°C, the dainty leaves yield a fitting clear champagne-like or wheat hued cup that begs to sip with your pinky out. While moderately fragrant, the tea scent isn’t thickly vegetal, but has a slightly buttery, piney green warmth, lending a kind of elegance. While it has mineral high notes, they peak a sweet, smooth perfume, like okra and crackers, or almost corn chips, giving the aroma a nice balance of tasty bits and restraint. Likewise, its taste yields a pleasing interplay of texture and flavour. It’s not crisp, but it has a clean quality and clear freshness to the flavour. It tastes lightly vegetal and pond-like with a slight brothiness to keep it lightly playful, yet satisfying, perhaps somewhere between cooked mâche leaves and lily pads with a bit of rosemary. It descends on a mist of raw and cooked pea on the finish that remains more as it builds through sips.

The second cup is near as fragrant as the first with not quite as clean a scent. Similar to the first, there’s a kind of herbaceousness with hints of pine twigs and corn chips to still draw one to the cup. It feels saltier with enough flavour and is just a bit drier, yet it remains smooth. The flavour seems slightly more elemental while still having a muted almost reed-like cooked vegetal and a light aftertaste with a kiss of salt to give it momentum. The third brew still has a light to medium scent, with a similar mix of nutty and green notes, like arugula, with a wave of pond kind of notes and a flicker of gasoline emerging. While the tea retains enough of a light brothiness, cued mostly by a sense of salt, to warmly satisfy, the fuller body has a drier feel with little aftertaste.

Vintage Tea Company’s Anji Bai Cha is a reminder of why I like Anji Bai Cha so. While it’s a bit higher priced and perhaps, more straightforward than some, it has the fresh, refinement and an admirable brewability to be a cup of peaceful contentment any time of day.

— To purchase Vintage Tea Company Anji Baicha, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Raven Raven
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Review: Tea At Sea Mountain Organic Indonesian Oolong

Oolong Tea, Tea at Sea No Comments »
Shaiha’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"This is a pleasant tea that has a creamy texture to it. There is a mineral twang to the taste as well as a sweetness from the floral. It makes for an enjoyable cup but there was nothing about it that really stood out."
Shaiha’s Teaview: 6.4/10
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teaseamountainindooolongThis morning it was a debate between which sample from this company that I wanted to check out first. And believe me, a pre-tea debate is not one anyone wants to see. The oolong won out because I have been drinking a lot of black tea lately and I wanted a change.

First a bit about the company. They are a Canadian company that specialize in loose leaf teas. They have a pleasant website that is fairly easy to navigate because they don’t carry that large of a variety of teas. I would like to see a search engine introduced just to make it even easier for the customer. Also they offer their teas either with or without ‘free’ tins. My issue with that is that even though the tins are called free if you select to have one, you end up paying more for the leaves. Not exactly my definition of free.

The leaves themselves were folded up into little balls that gave off a woody floral aroma. I followed the instructions on the sample package and used 190 degree water and let them steep for 5 minutes. The resulting liquor is a faint green with a creamy floral aroma.

This is a pleasant tea that has a creamy texture to it. There is a mineral twang to the taste as well as a sweetness from the floral. It makes for an enjoyable cup but there was nothing about it that really stood out. I could see introducing someone to oolong with this tea but it isn’t one that I would stock personally especially since it isn’t one that can be resteeped successfully once you let the first steep brew for five minutes.

— To purchase Tea At Sea Mountain Organic Indonesian Oolong, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Shaiha Shaiha
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Review: Blue Chai Organic Herbal Blue Tea

Blue Chai, Herbal Tea, Organic Tea No Comments »
Daniel’s Teaview Snapshot
Not Great"Let the past life of purple ketchup be our ultimate lesson: the "wow effect" of dyed edibles quickly wears off if not off-putting altogether."
Daniel’s Teaview: 4.1/10
Your Reviews: 10/10
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BluechailogoNever before have I experienced a tea with the dry and stepped leaves as well as the resulting liquor all indistinguishable in taste and aroma from one another. Of course, neither have I managed to come across an infusion of a bold blue color. Indeed, the brew of these blue leaves makes for a most peculiar concoction, one that transforms into a vibrant purple with just a spritz of lime or lemon. Literally, the tea tastes and smells just like asparagus and to a point somewhat unsettling. Upon detection, the look and unique characteristics of the tea are fascinating enough, but the experience of actually drinking the tea is nonetheless and needless to say not as pleasant.

It’s too bad the actual taste of the tea isn’t better than it actually is. When steeped, the butterfly pea petals quickly begin to spread their natural dye just as any food coloring agent would do. The first, second, and even third time of watching the leaves transform an infusion into a slowly spiraling array of blue swirls is simply loads of fun.

One a side note, be sure to drink this tea while it’s hot or iced. When lukewarm, few teas are worse than this one. The dominant notes of asparagus become even more prominent and in a very distasteful way. When hot, the brew isn’t bad per say, but it’s hardly what I’d call good. On another aside, this would make for an excellent and natural food dye. Just a few petals would transform almost anything.

As intriguing as the blue petals may be, they simply do not offer a noteworthy cup of tea. In the end, the actual taste and aroma of the tea is really all we care about. Let the past life of colored ketchup be our ultimate lesson: the “wow” effect of dyed edibles quickly wears off if not off-putting altogether. I’m glad I tried the tea and experienced it for myself, but I would far rather apportion my tea budget elsewhere.

— To purchase Blue Chai Organic Herbal Blue Tea, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Daniel Daniel
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Review: Vintage Tea Co. Liu An Gua Tea

Green Tea, Uncategorized, Vintage Tea Company No Comments »
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"This leaf makes for a unique, very enjoyable cup. Its minty finish and savoury umami notes are especially striking. A good bet for those times when only something off the beaten path will do. Highly recommended!"
Sophie’s Teaview: 9.1/10
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vintageliuanguaThis tea comes to us from Qiyun Mountain, located in the Chinese province of Anhui. It’s described as being bright, floral and filling, somewhat like a Tie Guan Yin. The leaves are interestingly folded, reminding me of accordion books. Because of their plump shape, another name for this tea is “melon seed”. Taking a sniff, my sample smells sweet and vaguely grassy.

I follow the instructions provided by Vintage Tea, infusing 3 grams of leaf in 150ml of water heated to 85 degrees for 1 minute. The pale green cup has a mild savoury scent to it. The sip begins with hearty, vegetal broth notes. Artichokes and asparagus are both featured. The flavours become sweeter, ending with a stunning floral yet minty finish. It’s very filling and refreshing.

The folks at Vintage Tea recommend re-steeping the leaves another 3 times. I infuse the leaves again for 1 and a half minutes. The results are rougher and more peppery in feel and flavour this time. The savoury notes have receded somewhat but the minty taste has become all the stronger for it.

After 2 mins, my third cup has developed a lovely shitake mushroom taste. Those who like umami flavours will be pleased. A little mint still lifts the finish but it’s more of an aftertaste at this point.

I steep my fourth and last brew for 3 minutes. While it’s totally drinkable and no unpleasant element appears, it’s quite mild, bordering on bland. All that remains is a hint of flowers and mint to the finish. I probably wouldn’t bother with a fourth infusion in the future.

This leaf makes for a unique, very enjoyable cup. Its minty finish and savoury umami notes are especially striking. Although I don’t have enough leaf to try it this way, I imagine that this tea would be a good candidate for an iced brew. While it’s a little pricier than some, this offering is a good bet for those times when only something off the beaten path will do. Highly recommended!

— To purchase Vintage Tea Co. Liu An Gua Tea, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Sophie Sophie
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Review: Aap Ki Pasand Love Pekoe

Aap Ki Pasand, Black Tea, Rose Tea No Comments »
Samantha’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"I could defeinitly see this as a relaxing, romantic drink before a massage or bath. I highly recommend taking a sip with some dark chocolate along side. "
Samantha’s Teaview: 7.2/10
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aapkipassandlogoProduced by Indian company Aap Ki Pasand, Love Pekoe is a black tea combined with Indian rose petals. While this combination is not unique in itself, it is one of the flavorful blends I’ve tried. Sometimes the rose petals can taste almost stale, due to the strong floral scent and taste, I assume this tea has been flavored as well. The black tea appears to be of a broken pekoe grade, possibly fine tippy and the rose petals appear intact.

The aroma of the leaves is incredibly sweet, it’s as if sniffing a real rose. They didn’t hold back on the petals either, Love Pekeo is beautiful to look at. It would make for a nice display for a garden themed tea party.

Once I was done smelling the roses, a large tablespoon was used to brew for 2.5 minutes with boiling water. The brewed scent is just as floral, so romantic! I could defeinitly see this as a relaxing, romantic drink before a massage or bath. I highly recommend taking a sip with some dark chocolate along side.

The body is a lot thinner than I expected, the rose is tasty but the black tea itself could be bolder. The more you drink, the thicker the mouthfeel becomes. Overall I would rate this tea as a 7.2, it was a bit dry and thin for me.

— To purchase Aap Ki Pasand Love Pekoe, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Samantha Samantha
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