Review: Norbu Tea 2009 Lao Mansa Sheng Pu Erh Tea

Norbu Tea, Pu'er Tea 3 Comments »
Troy’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"If you like Young Puerhs buy, if you like to age puerhs buy, if you like novelty shower curtains... may the gods have mercy on your wretched soul."
Troy’s Teaview: 8/10
Other Teaviews: Lynn gave it 5/10, Katie gave it 7.6/10
Your Reviews:Add your review »

NorbulaomannsaI’m not entirely sure what Lao Mansa means, I’ve googled, and Binged, and yahooed my fingers off but all I can find are references to this tea, vague references to a Hindu god maned Mansa Devi, some mention of an ancient african king named Mansa something-or-other, and not much else. Maybe its the village, a village google maps and Wikipedia know nothing about, maybe its the name of a Factory, maybe its something the Owner of Norbu Tea made up on a drunken binge, but the tea is good so this can be forgiven.

(EDIT: As corrected in the comments, Lao Mansa is where the tea came from, somehow I missed the Map right on the product page. Revel in my mistake.)

This tea is so young you should probably check its ID before bringing it home to prevent legal issues. Young is not a bad thing, in fact if its to your taste it can be a very good thing, I find them to be the “green tea” of puerh and really appreciate their sharp rich vegetable flavors. Being this years harvest, and not having been subjected to artificial “ripening” this puerh still holds on to its green tea qualities, and lacks the earthy quality of older/riper puerhs.

In all the cups I was able to get from the chunk I sampled, and they were many, expect at least three good steeps from it, the tea remained strong and vegital, not in a buttery way, but in a lightly blanched broccoli way. It was both sweet and sharp, and will disappoint if thats not your sort of thing, but it most assuredly is mine. I like Raw Puerh, unapologetically. You could age this, and the vegital and tannin qualities would seem to indicate that it would taste amazing, and perhaps a little floral, with five or six years under its belt.

— To purchase Norbu Tea 2009 Lao Mansa Sheng Pu Erh 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: Troy Troy
Teaviews.com Reviewer
» Read more about this reviewer on Troy's profile page.
» Find a list of recent posts by Troy.

    


Review: JING Tea Yunnan Gold

Black Tea, JING Tea, Yunnan Tea No Comments »
Laura’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The thing that makes this cup a little different is that it is spicier than many other offerings. It was actually the first thing that I noticed about the cup when I took a drink."
Laura’s Teaview: 7.8/10
Your Reviews:Add your review »

jingyunnan“Strong and full-bodied, this black tea from rich-soiled Yunnan province is particularly good first thing in the morning. Its underlying sweetness also plays well with a late afternoon slice of Madeira cake or a sticky piece of baklava.” —JING Tea website.

Yunnans are probably my favorite black tea and are most definitely the one that I reach for most often when I am looking for plain black. Why? I love their maltiness and natural sweetness. They have a nice smooth body and are not too astringent. Anyway, when I tend to go for a plain black tea it is usually either a Yunnan or some pretty high-end Darjeeling that I have in my personal stash. I tend to get a little excited when a credible tea company, such as JING, sends us Yunnan Gold for sampling.

I prepared this using my One-Cup Teapot Set from JING (thank-you) and used JING’s suggested brewing parameters, which involve a 3 min infusion with water that had been brought to a full boil. This offering is malty and has a nice sweetness to the blend. It is relatively smooth and has just a mild amount of dryness. The thing that makes this cup a little different is that it is spicier than many other offerings. It was actually the first thing that I noticed about the cup when I took a drink. It has a a slight peppery spice to it, but not to the extent that it is off-putting. However, that spice definitely adds interest to the cup. It balances nicely against the natural sweetness of the Yunnan leaves. A spicy quality in Yunnans is fairly common, but this one takes it the next level. The spice and malt complement each other nicely and work together to make a zippy cup. JING’s website actually states that, “The leaves from spring’s harvest release a rounded caramel richness and a lingering finale of spice – ginger, nutmeg and cloves.” While cloves are totally lost on my palate and the ginger tastes more peppery to me, I can actually ascertain some notes that remind me of both caramel and nutmeg.

Overall, this is a solid Yunnan offering from JING. I can’t quite pull this one into my favorite category, but I definitely enjoyed the spicy element in the blend. It brews up an enjoyable and satisfying cup and is worth consideration.

— To purchase JING Tea Yunnan Gold, 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: Laura Laura
Teaviews.com Reviewer
» Read more about this reviewer on Laura's profile page.
» Find a list of recent posts by Laura.

    


Review: American Tea Room Grand Yunnan Imperial

American Tea Room, Yunnan Tea No Comments »
Lynn’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"While this Grand Yunnan Imperial is a bit unusual and not unpleasant—in fact, not bad—I just didn't find this to be quite what I want from a Yunnan."
Lynn’s Teaview: 7/10
Your Reviews:Add your review »

americanyunnanimperialYunnan lover that I am, this offering from American Tea Room caught me a bit by surprise. When I opened the sealed packet and took my first whiff, expecting the “leather and tobacco” fragrance I’m always going on about with Yunnans, I got instead a snootful of “cedar chest” bordering on sour. At least that was my first impression. It’s very bright and spicy—and cedar-like.

The dark leaves are sprinkled with some golden tips, are rather short, and, when steeped, unfold to chopped fragments that appear to be machine-processed C-T-C rather than orthodox processed, though at this price point that’s neither a surprise nor a criticism.

Following the package directions, I infused a teaspoonful in a cup of 200F water for four minutes and was surprised when the crystal clear, dark copper liquor came out a bit sharp; most Yunnans I drink can steep for five to even seven minutes and not go over the edge. The cedar notes and astringency continued to dominate the flavor while it was hot. I sipped it as it cooled while working on something else and the flavor did smooth out and develop some sweetness, and a bit of a sweet, smokey, woody, astringent finish. I liked it much better cool, in fact. It even smelled better. Hot, the fragrance was somewhat lacking; cool, I did pick up notes of “pine smoke, tobacco, and earth.” Well, maybe not earth.

I brewed a second cup for three minutes, and it was a tad too smooth. And I still wasn’t sure how I felt about that cedar taste. The description on the website speaks of “smoky pine and honey-drizzled blackberries.” Smoky, yes. Honey berries? Not so much. It actually reminded me a bit of a mild Lapsang.

While this Grand Yunnan Imperial is a bit unusual and not unpleasant—in fact, not bad—I just didn’t find this to be quite what I want from a Yunnan. Nonetheless, as I continued to sip at it, it grew on me. If you want to try something a bit left of center in the Yunnan spectrum, you could give this one a try.

Special Offer! Free shipping on all purchases over $50 from AmericanTeaRoom.com.

Teaviews Member: Lynn Lynn
Teaviews.com Reviewer
» Read more about this reviewer on Lynn's profile page.
» Find a list of recent posts by Lynn.

    

Review: California Tea House Fujian New Craft

California Tea House, White Tea No Comments »
Vanessa’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Even though it is a white tea, for all intents and purposes, this tea smells and tastes like a Fujian black tea: it is rich and hearty with a very sweet chocolatey taste. "
Vanessa’s Teaview: 8/10
Other Teaviews: Brad gave it 6/10, Dan gave it 7.0/10, Katie gave it 6.7/10
Your Reviews:Add your review »

californiafujianI have to start the review by saying that I am really impressed with California Tea House. Although their offerings may not be as wide and varied as other online tea shops, the teas they offer really are high-quality and their selection is not the run-of-the-mill offerings. The latest tea I have been sampling is their Fujian New Craft. I approached this tea without reading up on it before hand. The tea is made of large, dark withered leaves, leading me to deduce that this was a black tea. Later when I looked up this product on the C.T.H. website, I learned that this is actually categorized as a white tea. C.T.H describes the tea as follows: “It uses less delicate buds than White Peony or Silver Needle and it goes through a ‘special craft’ of withering, rolling and drying”. Even though it is a white tea, for all intents and purposes, this tea smells and tastes like a Fujian black tea: it is rich and hearty with a very sweet chocolatey taste. I tried it plain and also with milk and sugar. I preferred the tea without the addition of milk and sugar, as it was naturally sweet and satisfying on its own. This tea was very smooth and something I could see myself drinking on a cold, rainy morning (if we ever get any of those down here in South Florida). I couldn’t taste any flavors that I typically associate with white teas. This is a tea I would recommend based on its uniqueness.

— To purchase California Tea House Fujian New Craft, 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: Vanessa Vanessa
Teaviews.com Reviewer
» Read more about this reviewer on Vanessa's profile page.
» Find a list of recent posts by Vanessa.

    

Review: American Tea Room Organic Yunnan Golden Needles

American Tea Room, Black Tea, Organic Tea, Yunnan Tea 5 Comments »
Lynn’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Golden Needle Yunnan is a beautiful sight to see; a fluffy, downy, gently twisted mix of light and dark slender golden leaves. American Tea Room's Organic Yunnan Golden Needle is no exception."
Lynn’s Teaview: 9.5/10
Other Teaviews: Laura gave it 9.25/10, Katie gave it 9.2/10, Geoff gave it 10/10
Your Reviews: 10/10
1 reader review | Add your review »

americanyunnanI may be a little old for trick or treating, but in my defense, I did mine at this year at the American Tea Room store in Beverly Hills. Actually, my husband and I happened to be in the area that day and since I’ve reviewed a number of ATR’s teas (and under their previous name, Le Palais Gourmet), I decided to stop by to pick up a package of one tea I’d particularly liked, and say hello to founder and CEO, David Barenholtz.

David was charming and very welcoming. With a lot of the area’s populace off at the huge Halloween parade, it was a quiet afternoon and he gave us an extensive tour of the store. It’s an attractive space, open and airy, and the wall are lined floor to ceiling with beautiful tea ware, pots, gift sets, and packages of loose teas of every sort—black, white, green, pu erh’s, scented, flavored, tisanes. He spoke very knowledgeably of his wares and the business. He didn’t drop any names, but his regular clientele includes not only humble tea reviewers, but Hollywood actors, directors, and Middle Eastern royalty.

One wall was filled with large canisters of loose tea and as we talked, he pulled down one after another, letting us look and sniff to our heart’s content and offering me samples for review. David’s favorites are the Japanese greens and we sampled an array of sweet, grassy varieties. When he learned that my personal passion is for Chinese Yunnan, he smiled and pulled down three more canisters. The first two were fragrant Yunnans, with nice black leaves mixed with golden tips. Then, with a flourish, he opened the third. You’ve probably seen movies in which the hero opens a treasure box of some sort and a golden glow appears, promising riches inside? It was kind of like that: Organic Yunnan Golden Needles. For those of you who aren’t Yunnan fanatics, it’s the highest form of the type. Needless to say, when he asked if I’d like a sample of that one, I quickly said yes. I hope I wasn’t drooling on the counter.

ATR includes a brew instruction card with all their shipments, with general guidelines for “Black tea, Red tea, & Herbals,” “White tea,” and “Green tea.” For my first cup I followed their suggestion of one heaping teaspoon in six ounces of 200F water for four minutes. However, the results were a bit thin. But when it comes to fine teas, one size does not fit all. I’d recently purchased a Golden Monkey Paw, which is very similar, which is brewed two tablespoons to eight ounces of water for two minutes. Tinkering a little, I arrived at two generous teaspoons to eight ounces of 208F for five minutes. Perfect. Those who don’t like their tea strong could probably get by with a little less, or a shorter steep time, but I like my black tea to have some punch, and I also want to know if it will bolt and go bitter. With that established, on to the review.

Golden Needle Yunnan is a beautiful sight to see; a fluffy, downy, gently twisted mix of light and dark slender golden leaves. American Tea Room’s Organic Yunnan Golden Needle is no exception. Dry, it smells pleasantly of sweet hay and tobacco. Infused as described above, it yields a medium copper-colored liquor with, unexpectedly, some sediment. (I brewed it in a small pot with a spiral filter, which does let more through that an fine mesh basket. While not really off putting, it was an unusual amount in my experience.) The fragrance is delightfully sweet, almost floral, with the strong notes of tobacco and leather that I expect from a good Yunnan. Many black teas fall down on fragrance, but not this one.

Inspecting the leaves in the pot, I found them a golden brown now, whole, about an inch long, very slender, and gently folded lengthwise. I really like seeing unbroken leaves, not only because it is generally a sign of good quality, but also because it feels like a connection to the source, the actual tea bush growing in some high altitude tea garden near the border of Tibet. But I digress.

The flavor is rich, bright, mouth filling, and complex: honey, tobacco, spice, bittersweet chocolate. The website also suggests “apple blossom” and “buttery baked yam.” I wouldn’t argue. And even though I brewed it fairly strong, there’s no bitterness whatsoever. One of the interesting contradictions of black tea is its pull, or astringency, which is at once mouth drying and refreshing. The pull is strong with this tea, a focal feature of the enjoyment. It makes me very much want a second cup. The aftertaste is long and spicy sweet. It lingers strongly on my tongue as I type between sips, together with a hint of the fragrance.

I don’t really expect a second brew from most blacks, including Yunnans, but I thought I’d give it a shot anyway. I infused it for another five minutes and got a passable cup. The sweetness was mostly gone, the taste a bit flatter, but it was drinkable. Personally, I wouldn’t bother, but I leave that to the individual.

The website refers to this as a “self drinker,” a tea needing no milk or sugar. I’d add that it would be a crime to add them, and I say that as a person who loves a splash of half and half in my black tea. Or used to. The more I drink better quality teas, the less I want to adulterate them.

This is a really fine tea. The one thing I’d like for a tea at this price is provenance. Who grew it? What part of Yunnan is it from? When was it harvested? That being said, it’s delicious, it’s organic, it’s the genuine article, and it’s a very good representative example of the type.

I don’t normally say much about price, but this one is very high. At $70 for a 3.5 oz packet that makes 25 first brew cups, that comes out to $2.80 per cup, $1.40 if you do a second infusion. High for tea, not so high compared to a latte grande. I leave it up to the buyer to decide if this is in their budget. Fortunately, American Tea Room now offers smaller packets and even sample sizes, so you can test drive a tea without making a major investment.

Special Offer! Free shipping on all purchases over $50 from AmericanTeaRoom.com.

Teaviews Member: Lynn Lynn
Teaviews.com Reviewer
» Read more about this reviewer on Lynn's profile page.
» Find a list of recent posts by Lynn.

    

Review: Naivetea Yuzu Oolong

Grapefruit Tea, Naivetea, Oolong Tea No Comments »
Laura’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"This is pretty full flavored and the grapefruit flavor does largely overpower the oolong. The taste is natural, zesty and refreshing though."
Laura’s Teaview: 7.5/10
Other Teaviews: Brad gave it 5/10, Jamie gave it 6.5/10, Nicole gave it 7.5/10
Your Reviews: 5/10
2 reader reviews | Add your review »

naiveteayuzu“Bathe in the serene glow of full moon and delight in the refreshing aroma of pomelo, a fruit that matures only once a year during the time of Chinese moon festival.” —Naivetea website.

Naivetea is a company that, according to their website, is, “By tea lovers for tea lovers.” I had the previous good fortune of trying their Passionfruit oolong and was pretty impressed with it—enough so that when it came time to request another batch of samples that I asked for more of their offerings. While looking through the sample offerings, I came across this Yuzu oolong. I was not really familiar with yuzu so I did a quick google search and found that it is a sour Japanese citrus fruit that is almost solely used in making marmalade or as ingredient in cakes. Ok…so that doesn’t tell me a whole lot. Then, while snooping around the Naivetea website, I discovered that this offering is actually flavored/scented with pomelo and its peel. A little research turned up that the pomelo is affectionately called the Grandfather of Grapefruit. The aroma from my sample package will definitely confirm that this is a ‘grapefruit’ flavored oolong—a rather strongly scented one.

In going along with Naivetea’s brewing instructions, I infused with water cut just short of boiling and infused for about 40 seconds. They actually recommend 30 seconds, but luck didn’t have it that way since I have a 3.5 year old daughter. While grapefruit is not something that I enjoy on a regular basis, I have actually tried a number of grapefruit teas that have worked for me. The flavor profile is a nicely done grapefruit flavor. This is pretty full flavored and the grapefruit flavor does largely overpower the oolong. The taste is natural, zesty and refreshing though. The oolong is of the green variety and it does leave behind a slightly creamy mouthfeel. I seldom drink oolong iced, but I am thinking that this one would be a good candidate.

Second infusion: When I prepared my second infusion, I allowed the leaves to infuse for a full minute. I found this infusion to be much more enjoyable as the flavor profile was dialed down a notch. I could actually taste some of the oolong in this infusion, which actually tastes of reasonable quality. I agree with my previous assessment that Naivetea has a skillful way of layering the flavor in their oolongs. The creamy mouthfeel that I encountered on the first infusion is replaced by one that might make you think that you had just consumed some grapefruit juice rather than had some tea. Make no mistake that this infusion still tastes flavored and not like oolong with grapefruit flavored notes. I have no doubt that this will stand up well for a third infusion and possibly a fourth.

While I cannot call this my favorite offering from Naivetea, it is worth consideration if you are looking for a grapefruit flavored oolong. The taste is natural and zesty and well done. Further, due to Naivetea’s skillful way of layering the flavor, this one will keep going and going.

— To purchase Naivetea Yuzu 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: Laura Laura
Teaviews.com Reviewer
» Read more about this reviewer on Laura's profile page.
» Find a list of recent posts by Laura.

    

WP Theme & Icons by N.Design Studio
Entries RSS Comments RSS Log in