Review: T-Oolongtea.com Lishan Cui Feng Oolong

Oolong Tea, T-OolongTea.com No Comments »
Katie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The flavour is crisp and clean, slightly creamy and vegetal with subtle mineral overtones."
Katie’s Teaview: 8.3/10
Other Teaviews: CJ gave it 10/10, Sophie gave it 6.8/10, Vanessa gave it 6.5/10
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This tea is grown in the Cui Feng district in the mountain areas of Lishan in Taiwan, and it is both high mountain and hand plucked, important aspects for quality teas. I slice open the vacuum-sealed package T-Oolong shipped this in, let the leaves breathe awhile, then brew gong-fu style: 1 gram per 180° ounce water, rinse, steep for thirty seconds.

The liquor is a crisp, clear, pale yellow. It smells mostly creamy but has a hint of brightness. The flavour is crisp and clean, slightly creamy and vegetal with subtle mineral overtones. It leaves a largely clean finish, aside from a mild lingering sweetness. It’s a simple tea, serene and refreshing. For a gong fu brew, especially, it’s quite delicate.

My next, 45-second steep is more vegetal and mineral, losing some of that delicate creamy sweetness and replacing it with a heavier hint of lilac, a shift I am neither particularly excited nor disappointed about and a trend that continues for the following steeps. It gets heavier-handed for a few cups, but soon it mellows out again, leaving me with a lasting impression more akin to the first steep than the second, albeit less subtle.

Nothing about this tea makes it stand out particularly much, so I can’t say it’s one that will leave a lasting impression on me. But it’s a solid blend, though subtle. I’m not in a rush to make sure this ends up on my shelf, but it’s another leaf I’d probably buy if I were putting together an order from these guys, a hypothetical order that seems to get larger with every sample they send me.

— To purchase T-Oolongtea.com Lishan Cui Feng 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: Katie Katie
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Review: Jing Tea Organic Dragon Well

Green Tea, JING Tea No Comments »
Daniel’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Everything a Long Jing must have in order to be considered high quality is present and dramatically so in Jing's Organic Dragon Well."
Daniel’s Teaview: 8/10
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jinglogoMy few experiences with Jing Tea have only been superb, specifically with the finer grade of the vendor’s Long Jing. Of course, I couldn’t help but avoid comparing the superior variety to the “standard” grade. Even with this, I was notably impressed with what this particular tea had to offer.

Everything a Long Jing must have in order to be considered high quality is present and dramatically so in Jing’s Organic Dragon Well. Mild yet full of flavor, mellow and sweet, and supplemented by the trademark chestnuttiness, the resulting brew elicited an immediate “wow” response. While the tea maintains the majority of its composition through the first three brews, the first is by far the standout. Subsequent brews unfortunately lose a bit of the leaves’ luster, bringing forth a slightly more mineral-like and almost fruity liquor. Of course, this is not unlike any other high quality Dragon Well, and this characteristic should not discourage any interest.

While I infused my heaping teaspoon of leaves under 175°F, temperatures as low as 155°F would be worth testing. Jing Tea recommends a brewing period of 3-4 minutes with a tablespoon of loose leaf. Again, this should be experimented with, and while I did not attempt this method myself, it would likely lead to a sweeter and nuttier result.

Among the roughly two dozen Dragon Wells that I have had the pleasure of reviewing, Jing’s Organic Dragon Well is undoubtedly a top tier one. Of course, the price point for this “standard” offering is a relatively expensive one, but rest assured that on brew alone, this makes for a splendid cup of green tea.

— To purchase Jing Tea Organic Dragon Well, 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: Culinary Teas DragonWell

Culinary Teas, Dragonwell Tea, Green Tea No Comments »
Daniel’s Teaview Snapshot
Not Great"No matter the brewing method, I could not help but equate the tea's composition with a mouthful of toothpicks. "
Daniel’s Teaview: 3/10
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culinarydragonwellWith one of the largest selections of loose leaf, Culinary Teas is a splendid choice for affordable and unique varieties (Caramel Cherry Cheesecake, Grapefruit, and Jamaican Rum to name a few). Aside from the seemingly endless array of fruit tisanes, dessert teas, and other flavored blends, Culinary Teas sells an equally abundant line of straight teas, the ever-popular DragonWell included.

Culinary’s DragonWell shows off a particularly dark sage green with a strong “woody” aroma, both of which are typical antitheses to superior grades. Once brewed, the tea maintains an unfortunate level of the tree bark-like notes (though I suppose I cannot judge from personal experience), subtracting from any potential sweetness and subtle nuttiness.

When brewed under very conservative conditions, the resulting liquor escapes the majority of the unsavory characteristics. This, of course, is at the cost of eliminating the bulk of its flavor profile altogether. Regardless of whatever infusion’s duration, a lingering bitterness clings to the tastebuds well after the final sip. No matter the brewing method, I could not help but equate the tea’s composition with a mouthful of toothpicks.

I obtained the best results with an infusion of one minute under 160°F. Less is more in the case of this particular DragonWell. As such, take care to use no more than a leveled teaspoon, unless much shorter infusions are intended.

In sum, Culinary Tea’s DragonWell is only so in name alone. The leaves’ second infusion promised more palatableness, but the tea posed little but the unforgiving challenge to drink it. On perhaps the sole positive note, the tea is as cheap as any DragonWell gets. I for one, however, would encourage buyers to look elsewhere.

— To purchase Culinary Teas DragonWell, 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: Lalani & Co Makaibari, 2nd Flush Grand Reserve

Black Tea, Darjeeling Tea, Lalani and Co No Comments »
Shaiha’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"This tea has a luxurious texture and a memorable flavor that makes drinking it a real delight and it is one that I wouldn't mind keeping about as a treat. "
Shaiha’s Teaview: 8.7/10
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lalanicomakaibariLalani & Co. is a tea vendor that is based in London and specializes in single batch teas. All of their teas are grown on organic estates. They have a beautiful website but I did find it difficult to locate specific teas as there isn’t a search engine and the teas themselves are not broken down into categories.

These leaves are a beautiful example of a 2nd flush darjeeling with the leaves ranging in color from gold to a medium olive green. Dry, they give off a faint fruity note with just a touch of spice. I set them up to brew using 195 degree water and a steep time of 3 minutes.

The resulting liquor is a golden brown with the strong fragrance of muscatal. Each sip begins with a sweet fruitiness from grapes and just a hint of apples, then comes forth a pleasant spiciness that remind me of ginger and cinnamon. The finale is a dryness that lingers for a short time and clears the palate. The website recommends trying with a desert and I can definitely see how the spiciness of the tea would compliment a sweet.

This tea has a luxurious texture and a memorable flavor that makes drinking it a real delight and it is one that I wouldn’t mind keeping about as a treat. I just wish that this site had a currency converter so that I could easily see the cost.

— To purchase Lalani & Co Makaibari, 2nd Flush Grand Reserve, 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: Yezi Tea Yi Fu Chun

Black Tea, Yezi Tea 1 Comment »
Samantha’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"While the tea industry is growing, and the ability to buy and sell tea from country to country is prevalent, China’s hidden gems are still tucked away in small villages that rarely leave their country. Meiqin Weng, founder of Yezi tea, having grown up in China and experienced high quality teas from a young age […]"
Samantha’s Teaview: 9.3/10
Other Teaviews: Sophie gave it 9.2/10
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yeziyifunWhile the tea industry is growing, and the ability to buy and sell tea from country to country is prevalent, China’s hidden gems are still tucked away in small villages that rarely leave their country. Meiqin Weng, founder of Yezi tea, having grown up in China and experienced high quality teas from a young age felt as if the U.S. was missing out on true Chinese tea. Derived from her passion for quality, locally sourced teas, Meiqin started Yezi tea and began to source tea from small village farmers whom she had already had a relationship with.

Yezi tea is one of the few companies that allow its customers to try their teas free of charge (other than shipping and handling). This option is unique and is a great opportunity for those new to tea that aren’t quite ready to the pay the price. Considering all of their tea is farm to cup and mostly organically grown, Yezi’s prices seem to be level headed.

Yi Fu Chun is an organic tea that was sourced from Huang Jian, Nanhu Mountain, Fujian, China. It resembles a Yunnan Gold, though the leaves are a bit more curled, the flakes of gold really stand out. I received a generous amount for a sample and this is one of those teas that I wish didn’t end. Rather than using short brewing times, a standard one tablespoon with boiling water was brewed for 2 minutes. The resulting aroma is very sweet; the taste is smooth with a medium body. There is a bit of a malty taste to this tea and a natural sweetness to it. A bit of fruit peeks through slightly, adding to the complexity of this sweet cup.

Honestly, I can’t stop drinking this one; I highly recommend Yezi’s Yi Fu Chun whether you’re new to tea or a huge Yunnan drinker. This Fujian cup has a lot to offer.

— To purchase Yezi Tea Yi Fu Chun, 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: Happy Earth Tea Sungma China Classic

Black Tea, Darjeeling Tea, Happy Earth Tea, Organic Tea, Single Estate Tea No Comments »
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"A complex, robust and satisfying tea, it blends creamy fruit tones with wood and tobacco notes."
Sophie’s Teaview: 7.8/10
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happyearthlogoSpecializing in organic teas, this vendor offers a wide range of offerings of all types: herbals, oolongs, greens, as well as more traditional blacks, primarily from Darjeeling. Unfortunately this tea no longer seems to be available as part of Happy Earth’s roster. Looking at my sample, the small, twisted leaves display lovely shades of maroon and chocolate. Their delicate scent is vaguely reminiscent of vanilla and red table grapes.

I brew a generous teaspoonful of leaf in 250ml of freshly boiled water for 3 minutes. The results are a coppery cup, with a potent tannic aroma. Taking a sip, the flavours are a combination of wood, tobacco, and again earthy tannins. These robust notes are offset by a delicious creamy feel. While I normally prefer my teas to be a touch sweeter, this tea is pleasant and easy to drink. It needs no additions of milk or sugar to make it enjoyable.

I try steeping the leaves again for 3 and a half minutes. The beginning of the sip is a bit mellower now, with some mild oak and tobacco flavours. In the middle some soft vegetal tones appear – fennel and cucumber in particular. The finish brings more significant malt, raisin and red grape notes. All in all, it’s a very different cup from the first, just as enjoyable if not more.

I brew the tea a third time for 4 and a half minutes. The profile is now very malty and sweet, with lots of cinnamon and raisin notes. There is a little bit of a tang coming from some tart fruit notes to the finish. Again, this is a very different cup from the previous. The feel is getting a little watery, but otherwise the leaves are holding up well.

I decide to try a final, fourth infusion following a 6 minute-long brew. There are some soft toasted bread and cinnamon notes present, along with a mostly watery taste and feel. I decide to call it a day. I wouldn’t bother with this steep again.

A complex, robust and satisfying tea, it blends creamy fruit tones with wood and tobacco notes. This is a high caliber leaf. Let’s hope it reappears in Happy Earth’s catalogue again, as it’s certainly worthwhile.

— To purchase Happy Earth Tea Sungma China Classic, 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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