Review: Whittard Organic China Oolong

Oolong Tea, Whittard 1 Comment »
Samantha’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"As I drank this tea I was brought back to Fall with pumpkins, brick buildings and school. This is a tea I'd picture prestigious IV league professors would be drinking while grading papers."
Samantha’s Teaview: 7.5/10
Other Teaviews: Sophie gave it 8.5/10
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whittardchinaoolongWhittard is a company located in the UK that embraces the British tea spirit. Started by Walter Whittard in 1886, this company sure has a history. Starting back during the second World War, by 1935 Walter’s sons took over the family tea business continuing to “Buy The Best” teas from around the world. Whittard sells 130 tea varieties and blends their own teas and infusions. They also sell freshly ground coffee beans and 18 different kinds of hot chocolate! Boy I’d love to get my hands on some of their hot chocolate, it looks delicious.

I received a Chinese Oolong from Whittard. The leaves aren’t tightly rolled as with most oolongs, these leaves are dark black and are long and wiry. They have a very deep scent of caramel and coffee beans. This oolong is from the Fujian Province, not the best place for oolong compared to Taiwan, but good enough we’ll see.

I was a bit disappointed in the lack of brewing instructions on Whittard’s website so I chose to go with the typical 1 tablespoon for my 2 cup tea pot (16 ounces) and filled it almost all the way with water at 190 F after rinsing the leaves. At 45 seconds this oolong has a very pale yellow liquor with a sweet, smokey taste to it. At 2 minutes the color deepens into a marigold orangish yellow and is medium bodied. The taste is still sweet and smokey but a floral aftertaste almost reminiscent of honey develops. Whittard’s China Oolong has a very black tea feel and taste to it, similar to a black Darjeeling.

As I drank this tea I was brought back to Fall with pumpkins, brick buildings and school. This is a tea I’d picture prestigious IV league professors would be drinking while grading papers. Of course, if you’re not an IV league, or even if it’s not fall it’s a very enjoyable cup. A little different pace for me compared to all the lighter oolongs I’ve been enjoying.

— To purchase Whittard Organic China 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: Samantha Samantha
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Review: Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company Ruby Red Black Tea

Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company, Black Tea No Comments »
CJ’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Enchanting and luxurious. "
CJ’s Teaview: 10/10
Other Teaviews: Vanessa gave it 7/10, Shaiha gave it 7/10
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beautifulrubyredtaiAs a pale, green-eyed, redhead, I have a hard time projecting a dark and mysterious aura. I have a “gee-whiz” girl-next-door look about me and am drawn to people and things of a swarthier nature.

Naturally, I was enchanted by the sight of these pitch-black leaves that reflected only the slightest hint of brown. They reminded me of a sultry actress like Natalie Portman or Catherine Zeta-Jones wearing a mink. (Not that they would. Portman, especially, is against that sort of thing.)

The aroma of this tea, also known as “Sun Moon Lake”, was seductive as well, like an exotic, vanilla and passion fruit perfume or essence.

The flavor had a slight menthol tendency, which is characteristic of Ruby Red Teas. Compared to other Ruby Red’s I have tasted, I was happy to note that Beautiful’s version was much LESS menthol-like. The down-played coolness allowed more complexity to shine through. It was a tiny bit tangy, but finished malty and robust, like an Assam.

The longer I brewed these leaves, the more I liked the result. Beautiful’s website encourages “playing around” with the brewing times. Milder tea fans are sure to enjoy a weaker version, but I  steeped about a teaspoon of leaves in a cup of boiling water for about five minutes. I never “rinse” the leaves, although Beautiful and other tea professionals recommend doing so. (Pour the boiling water on the leaves, then immediately dump it out.)

This tea provided several infusions, which added to its value and its allure. It had all the luxury of a fur coat, and no animals were harmed.  I rate it a 10.

— To purchase Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company Ruby Red Black 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: CJ CJ
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Review: Mark T. Wendell Evergreen Supreme Oolong

Mark T. Wendell, Oolong Tea No Comments »
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"My favourite part of this tea is its delicious vanilla and lilac fragrance. However since it lacks a certain depth of flavour to be really exciting to me I wouldn't purchase this for myself."
Sophie’s Teaview: 6.5/10
Other Teaviews: Shaiha gave it 8.1/10, Katie gave it 7.2/10
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markwendellevergreensupremeThis high elevation Taiwanese offering is new to MTW’s catalogue. It also goes by the name of “Four Season Oolong” because the leaves are picked 4 times a year. It’s unclear from the information on the website what season’s harvest I am sampling however. The vividly coloured leaves are somewhat erratically rolled. Their scent is an alluring and delicate mix of vanilla and lilac.

I steeped 3 grams of leaf for 3 minutes in 8 ounces of water heated to 195 degrees Fahrenheit. The greenish gold cup again has a beautiful vanilla, honey and lilac scent to it. Unfortunately it doesn’t reflect the taste of the tea, which is mostly mineral and buttery, with just a touch of grass and flowers. It’s pleasant enough but it doesn’t really knock my socks off. I later steeped new leaves for 4 minutes. The results are grassier and more astringent in profile but not really more flavourful.

I tried brewing the leaves again for 4 minutes. The brew is more immediately sweet this time, with hints of peach and spring time blooms. It also has more relief in terms of texture, a touch of astringency following the smooth, almost oily texture of the top notes. Again it’s good – I prefer it to the previous cup, but it’s not great.

I managed to pull 3 more decent cups from the leaves. Following a 5 minute-long steep, the third was my favourite of the lot by far, with its brothy top notes and more substantial grass and flower finish. Unfortunately I’m not sure it’s worth getting through the previous lacklustre steeps to get to it. Each brew afterwards got progressively smoother, losing what little astringency the leaves had previously mustered.

My favourite part of this tea is its delicious fragrance. If only it tasted as good as it smells! Its profile is flat and mineral, no matter how I brew the leaves. This offering is not outrageously expensive, considering the labour intensive process involved to make it, including many cycles of withering, oxidation and rolling. However since it lacks a certain depth of flavour to be really exciting to me I wouldn’t purchase this for myself.

Visit Mark T. Wendell Teas for more information on this tea and many more from their extensive product catalogue.

Teaviews Member: Sophie Sophie
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Review: Driftwood Tea Osmanthus Oolong

Driftwood Tea, Oolong Tea 1 Comment »
Samantha’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Overall Driftwood Tea's Osmanthus oolong has a sweetness similar to peaches, it has floral, hay-like overtones and hints of a sweet summer honey. "
Samantha’s Teaview: 7.2/10
Other Teaviews: Sophie gave it 6.8/10
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driftwoodosmanthusoolongDriftwood Tea’s Osmanthus Oolong combines a high quality Jin Xuan variety loose leaf tea with fresh osmanthus flowers. I chose to brew this tea two different ways, European style with one longer brew, and Gong Fu style, short brews.

The leaves are tightly rolled leaves, a pleasant green color with hints of yellow osmanthus flowers through out the pouch. The smell is very floral, extremely sweet and has an almost bubble gum or juicy fruit scent to them.

For the first brew I steeped about 1 teaspoon of leaves in 8 ounces of water at 190 F. At 30 seconds the infusion is a very bright yellow with a light floral taste and hay overtones. At one minute it is brighter with a mineral quality to it, not as floral as expected. The taste reminds me of sweet cantaloupe and fresh herbs.

The second brew lasted 1 minute and was much more floral than the first. At first I was very turned off by the scent of this tea, it reminded me of bubble gum and cough syrup. When I took some time away from this tea and came back to it I actually realized what I was tasting was very similar to peach.

Overall Driftwood Tea’s Osmanthus oolong has a sweetness similar to peaches, it has floral, hay-like overtones and hints of a sweet summer honey. This tea was actually pretty pleasant as it cooled down as well, I think it’d be nice over ice. Considering I had a hard time getting past some bad flavors I originally associated it with, I’d give it a 7.2.

— To purchase Driftwood Tea Osmanthus 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: Samantha Samantha
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Review: Mark T. Wendall Tea Company Mountain Kenya

Black Tea, Mark T. Wendell No Comments »
Shaiha’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"What I find mind boggling is the sense of fruitiness that hits the very back of my tongue and the roof of my mouth as I am swallowing the tea."
Shaiha’s Teaview: 8.7/10
Other Teaviews: Sophie gave it 7.5/10, Katie gave it 6.7/10
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markwendellmoutainkenyaI just love it when I get samples from Mark T. Wendall because the samples are large enough that I can try out a tea over a few days. I just love this because I am really able to play with different temperatures and moods. I have found that I really prefer to drink the Mountain Kenya in the office. That way I can appreciate the taste when it when it is slow yet the tea isn’t so high priced that I regret not paying attention to it when we are busy.

This really is an interesting tea in that the flavors that I pick up are the least of the equation. It is a very smooth tea with a slight dryness at the end. What I find mind boggling is the sense of fruitiness that hits the very back of my tongue and the roof of my mouth as I am swallowing the tea. I have never run across this before and I really think that I like it.

I was really surprised by this effect especially considering that these tea leaves weren’t babied. Instead they are a dark brown and have gone through CTC processing. There wasn’t much of an aroma to speak of so they really snuck up on me.

I do recommend this tea to lovers of black teas. I know that I plan on picking up some soon and getting one of the air tight tins to store it in.

• Water Temp: 212 degrees
• Time: 2.5 minutes

— To purchase Mark T. Wendall Tea Company Mountain Kenya, 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: The Persimmon Tree Tea Co Silver Needle

The Persimmon Tree Tea Co, White Tea 2 Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"Its flavour is very light, mostly creamy with vegetal notes."
Katie’s Teaview: 6/10
Your Reviews: 6/10
1 reader review | Add your review »

persimmonsilverneedleI have so far only tried one tea from Persimmon Tree Tea Company, and while it was an interesting idea, they haven’t managed to stick in my head as a company yet. Because their website and tea offerings are so similar to so many other companies, I tend to forget they exist until something reminds me. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially since this is only my second tea from them, but I was hoping this one would be the one to change my opinion.

It has not managed to make these guys stick in my brain. I tried steeping the downy silver and grey spears first on the low end of their recommendations: 180° for two minutes. It’s pretty lacklustre, so I try again for four minutes, but that doesn’t make much difference.

The pale lemon yellow liquor smells creamy. Its flavour is very light, mostly creamy with vegetal notes. It lacks depth, and while there aren’t any real negatives, there aren’t any big positives either. And while this isn’t a very expensive leaf, it isn’t really cheap, either. I just expect a bit more from my silver needles.

— To purchase The Persimmon Tree Tea Co Silver Needle, 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: Katie Katie
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