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54 Tasting Notes

96

Imperial Mojiang Golden Bud Yunnan Black Tea 2012 Autumn
Dry: Richly complex with sweet malt, spice, cedar, and elusive floral accents, finishing with a sweet, caramel note
Wet: A heady spicy, exotic wood dominance with hints Himalayan pink salt, and a juicy-roasted vegetal depth
Leaf: Lush yellow sienna hued, golden curls, light and airy and dance in the hand like fragile baby beach crabs; impossible not to be drawn to them, to handle and turn them over, to explore the delicate and textured silky down of the leaves. The leaves are deeply imbued with fragrance and this intensifies as your hands warm them and your breath draws in and out against them.
Cup: A deep, brassy hued liquor, darkening to coppery-umber with longer extractions and picking up reddish-sienna depth. The cup itself is creamy, silky smooth, sweet and initially elusive, the flavor slips along with a gentle, sweet almond-nutty threading through the citrus, malt, and lingering peppery finish. As the cup evolves with repeated extractions, waves of sweet give way to more malt and citrus, and the rise of a sea salt and woody, peppery flavor transforms the cup.
Directions: Used 4g in 8oz in 195 degree filtered water in glass tumbler for 3-4 minutes (allowing for color to dictate the adjustments in extraction time in subsequent brews. Expect 2-3 richly flavored steeps with thinner and distinct cups following.
Notes: As a lover of teas from Yunnan, I really enjoyed playing with this tea in a variety of brewing methods and styles, types of water, and steep times. I have a cured Yixing tea pot that I use specifically with Yunnan black teas (including pu-erhs) and I was surprised that this tea responded so well to other brewing methods and actually illustrated varying levels of complexity that were very clear and distinct in different brewing vessels. A tea to allow a complete chance to expand and utilizing a vessel that permits this expansion.

Importers Notes: This rare and beautiful tea can only be made from late autumn harvest is picked from established plantation bushes in the Mojiang area of Simao. The tea is carefully processed to keep its lovely appearance and guard its subtle sugarcane and malt flavors. This is an incredible and rare tea with an appearance and taste that will dazzle the drinker! Recommend using 85-90C water to brew this wonderful tea. Wash once briefly (5 seconds) and then drink the successive infusions. Keep infusion times very short initially!
Harvest time: October 2012
Harvest Area: Mojiang Town, Simao Prefecture of Yunnan

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Nicole

Gah! Another from Yunnan Sourcing that goes on the shopping list. Eventually I’ll have enough on my list to justify the shipping…

Kashyap

hehe…well little bunny if you just wait…I can offer you a sample of mine :)

Nicole

Ooooo! That would be great! And since I’ve spent too much on tea for awhile, this bunny can wait. I won’t be placing an order with Yunnan Sourcing or anyone anytime soon. :)

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86

Originally in my notes as Serpent Mound Masala Chai, this blend was developed as I was asked to recreate the flavor of the discontinued Oregon green tea chai concentrate that some of our friends were using; also known as Kasmiri green chai.
It is not new information to many, but is to some, that Chai simply means ‘tea’. There is a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation around tea and the popularization of ‘chai’ in coffee/tea houses has done little to change that with regards to this particular beverage in America. Most think that ordering Chai means a cup of warm, milky, creamy sweetness with a spice note and a mere hint of tea tannins. Many are unaware that traditional chai is variable depending on what regional influences are present and often will be surprised (some pleasantly so) to sip chai at an Indian restaurant and find it unsweetened and without milk: simply Masala Chai- Spiced Tea.
Of course with so many tea companies attempted to add their own signatures and blends, flavoring and spicing, adding fruit, flowers, spices, oils, additives….the terms are not often utilized in a traditional context and can loose a bit of meaning.
I suppose I rest on this point only because it also explains my nom de plume- Kashyap (for more on that try here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kashyap) . I became very fascinated by the regional variations of masala chai and the spices, how they were used, why, and the local diets influence. I was pleased with the introduction of the Chaiwala in Slumdog millionaire and thought that the idea of chai might undergo a bit of an evolution, but its seems that is not quite as transforming as I’d hoped.
In any case, I was developing some chai blends and I was also asked to complete a project for one of our customers and in the process discovered some interesting facts about tea, spices, and blending. I also learned some fun things about matcha.
I developed this blend and was pleased when with a small amount of tweeking I found myself with this cup in my hands and these were my original notes:
creamy, verdant, floral, nutty, lightly spicy…mix of jasmine and cardamom creates and illusion of near almond flavor.

In the area of Kasmir, India there is a tradition of making masala chai with green tea, cardamom, cinnamon, and almonds. I wanted to make a blend that would respect that tradition and deepen its distinction. I also wanted to honor the deep roots here in Ohio and draw attention to some of its natural and cultural wonders – in a way bridging space/time, culture, and the love of tea.
The base utilizes the floral notes of jasmine jade pearls and the slow extracting nature they provide – allowing the spices to extract in at a similar rate and for them to achieve some balance. Since milk is often added, I wanted also there to be a strong tea note and perhaps a hint of briskness, and so I added a 2nd flush Darjeeling. The spices are all organically sourced and whole and crushed just before blending and the tea is made in small batches when ordered to preserve the integrity of flavors. The matcha stains it all verdant green and adds a murky, opaque aspect to the first steep, that adds to the creamy and tart profile. It reminds me of the spring here in Ohio at the Serpent Mound when the new growth makes everything an impossible bright green and at the same time illustrates the wet murkiness of the weathers muddy transition. The cup gives way on the second steep to a gorgeous, luminous yellow that has hints of reptilian green. There is an illusion of almond on the finish, which I imagine is the combination of spices mixing with the jasmine and it develops as it lingers on the palate.
Overall I’m happy to present this as a tribute to the ‘year of the snake’ and hope that everyone can renew themselves in this new lunar cycle.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Nicole

I really enjoy your reviews, Kashyap. They are well written and informative in so many ways!

Kashyap

Thank you Nicole..you’re very generous for sharing that and I deeply appreciate your feedback

Bonnie

Love the name and how you bridged Ohio and Indian Masala Chai. Your vision of green verdant hills and the reptile…I want to drink this dangerous spicy brew…!

Kashyap

message me an address and I will send you some ;)

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96

Since I wrote the web description I’m going to instead write something a touch less technical and more personal in my response to this one.

This new lot came in just a few days ago and I just opened the full case today…a large bag standing more than half my height. As I do with every tea when it first comes in and I have a chance to cup it, the first act I do is lift a double handful of the leaves and draw in the scent. I was born with a powerful sense of smell (perhaps a tradeoff for my myopic vision limitation), one that has been known to identify even salmon species apart and which I rely on heavily with tea and coffee.
As the tea’s aroma broke free from its peaceful slumber the deep, rich aroma of ripe Ohio mulberries, with their glistening, just after the rain, purple flesh captured me and transported me to seasons yet to be born from winter’s open arms. So powerful was the aroma that I grabbed a fellow co-worker, whose life revolves deeply with Ohio’s seasons as he grows much of his own food, cures his own meats, processed and cans his own fruit and veggies and is all around in touch with his roots in the Ohio north east Amish Country.
His reaction was one of primal memory and he stuttered to find the words, but the final push of a second pass and he was as giddy as I was…there could be no mistake: Mulberry. Stories of his childhood and the acts of making jams, pies, and compote from those trees flooded out as did my tales of railroad walks and wild roaming.
A wonderful batch of memory lane but also a fantastic cup and one of my winter reminders that spring will come in her own time.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Azzrian

Enticing!

Bonnie

Since I didn’t grow up in the land of Mulberries, I wonder what wonderous memories the tea mulch would have spirited me to…(a realm outside of your World through another looking glass).

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92

Royal Tea of Kenya – Royal Purple Tea
Dry: clean, sweet, softly vegetal, faintly earthy with elusive oceanic notes.
Wet: earthy, asparagus, grassy aroma
Leaf: very irregular cut, moderate to fine cut with some fine particulate, extremely dark, almost toasted woody or charcoal looking, upon steeping develops into a dark-green olive cast and the leaves look highly macerated and almost pesto-like.
Brewing method: 4g in 200 degree water in traditional porcelain cupping set, steeped for 2-3 minutes.
Cup: Liquor is a remarkable plum-flesh purple, with hints of rosy, peach, and lavender hues. Very faint liquor aroma, almost like pearled sake. The palate is gripped with a strong flush of astringency, transforming the mouth with a textured, faintly metallic note that bears some resemblance to the taste of green jade. Light to medium body with earthy, bold flavors that blush out and fade into a spicy resonance on the palate. There is a subtle floral note, reminiscent of lilac and a bolder flavor that is deeply eucalyptus. There is an interesting cooling effect to the tea and it is remarkable at clearing the palate of other flavors.
--

I first had a chance to sample purple leaf tea through this sample about a year ago. The notes I took still very much hold up, but after many different attempts to balance the brewing of this tea I stumbled upon a linkage of ideas that has me excited to share with others.
There is a big movement in the specialty coffee industry to offer pour over coffee service and Staufs Coffee Roasters in Columbus, OH has been sharing this with the public for a number of years now. Its rather simple, a manual Hario pour over, with pre-wet filter, carefully measured coffee/water and a simple, controlled pour of water, yielding an amazing cup of your hearts desire in minutes.
What does this have to do with tea?
Many years ago while working to share the bounty and variety of teas from Ceylon, I was gifted a traditional metal spoon with fine holes in it and a deep belly. CTC-FOP grade teas would be heaped into it and water carefully poured over the leaves and the resulting cup was used to profile.
My mind made the bridge between these two methods and I began experimenting with using the Hario pour over with ‘fine’ teas and when I was brewing the Kenya purple leaf I noted a mixed cut and a fine particulate would end up in the cup, clouding it slightly. So I used the Hario method with this tea and was blown away by how amazing a 30-40sec extraction with 190 degree water, simply poured through could be.
At the last cupping I gave featuring this tea, I showed this method and it blew the minds of the tea drinkers, both in the nature of the cup, but in the brewing method. Its created a strange situation where now many people are trying various teas done as pour overs. Its not just a fad, the method works amazingly well for clarity of cup, quick extraction, clean and distinct flavors, and for teas ranging in the CTC-FOP grade range…they produce flavorful cups without the expected and hard to avoid astringency and bitterness.
Wish I could add pictures to demonstrate…but trust me…its a method worth trying.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 45 sec
Bonnie

I was able to visualize what you were saying and imagine that a smaller fine-cut leaf would do better with this method. As for the purple leaf, the first time I tried some I remember thinking that there was a halo in my cup that reminded me of a glass of wine. A rim of color at the edge…faint plum.
I’ll have to try this method with a bit of unrolled Ceylon blue nettle that I have on hand.
You need a camera and flicker! Want to see your fabulous finds!

Kashyap

I have a camera and shoot all the time…used to be a stock footage photographer for National Fisherman…but what I need to do is get my long overdue tea blog up and running and post all of these :)

Bonnie

I await….

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93

Sandakphu Silver White Tea – Nepali Tea Traders
Dry: Wild, sweet, vegetal-floral aroma, roasted potato and oceanic
Wet: spicy, hints of fresh cut green beans, toasted and dried pumpkin seeds, dried sunflowers in the field
Leaf: Gnarled and twisted leaves, bud tips ghostly hued with stains of bronze, leaves peppered with red and umber hinting at oxidation, bai mudan-esque pluck with leaves, buds, stems and thin twists of leaf that look almost as if they are writhing.
Cup: Pale, clear, luminescent grapefruit flesh yellow hued liquor. Tea gives an initial impression of weight, evolving into a sweet, soft honey accent that transforms into a texture of floral. Spicy flavors of Mexican oregano slip about, yet the impression of subtly renders these accents as a regional distinction and the nature of the white tea and its craft comes through. Very smooth, blushing sweet mid-note that crisply fades with floral honey in its rippling wake. There is perhaps a orange pith or zest hint, but it is more akin to the lingering flavor after you have bit into a blood orange and the flavor stains your lips from the contact.
Directions: Brewed 3g of leaves in 11oz of 190 degree water, pre –extracted in a 1 oz of cold water for 1 minute and then steeped for 3 minutes and strained. Glass wear and held back leaves with titanium spoon.

Notes: I hesitate to use the word ‘animalist’ to pair in a aroma description, but the combination and complexity of this tea’s aroma is akin to something feral and wild, living and animal and almost resembles the scent of horses. There is a hint of something akin to breaded trout frying or the banks of a river, wet slate, cat-tails…it’s a complex merging of scent and memory that is cloudy and mercurial, making it difficult to find specifics definitions that are ‘food’ related.
The cup is surprising. From the style of leaf and the appearance, it looks very much like many other of the teas from NTT and so I didn’t really expect it to be a balance of subtly that is usually associated with white tea. The balanced nature of this cup is really wonderful and I think it is distinct enough to warrant seeking the others out, just to note the range of what can come from these teas and this region. I will also mention that the orange-esqe flavor does materialize as a ghostly remnant lingering on the palate long after the cup has been finished and this is a wonderful surprise of the cup.
\As it so happens I also happen to have a small remaining amount of the Sandakphu Nepalese White Orange that won in the North American Tea Championship in 2012 in the hot white tea division. In direct comparison in aroma the Rare Tea Republic tea has a much more distinct citrus/orange zest floral note and from appearance seems to have plumper buds and a higher overall bud presence, where the NTT seems to have a smaller bud and stronger leaf presence. Both have a very similar overall hue and texturally look very similar with the RTR having a ‘brighter’ more silvery look mostly due to the visibility of buds. The aroma of the NTT is more conjuring and elusive to define, while the RTR is more distinct.

I had wanted to include a photo of the two teas side by side for visual comparison, but I didn’t have the image uploaded to share.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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93

Organic Ilam Sencha Green Tea – Nepali Tea Traders
Dry: Fresh cut hay drying in the field, faint chestnut-toasted note, and an overall intensity like perfume.
Wet: Grassy, sweet pea, soy cream
Leaf: Long grassy shards, hues ranging from dark olive to mat, pale green, and variously textured on the surface with fine lines resembling Monkey King (where drying baskets imprint on the leaves in cross patterns that are distinct). Resembling preserved cut grasses and with some leaves nearly 2-3” in length. It does share a very ‘sencha’ hued and shaped leaf and the aroma is distinctly like a mid-grade Japanese sencha.
Cup: Bright lemony-white grapefruit hued liquor, with a delicate nose. Initial impression is one of weight and texture with a slightly granule-mineral imprint that then splashes with an electric, bright astringency, grassy overtones and sharp-clean citrus-lime zest hints. A small amount of particulate rests in the bottom of the cup and resembles yellow pollen, but the nature of the leaf would suggest otherwise. As one sips from the cup the mineral notes increase as does the impression of grassy-citrus, but the most notable characteristic is the building, cleansing texture on the tongue and the mouth rolling body. In many ways similar to the Chinese produced senchas that have been steadily supplanting traditional Japanese sencha, but with a much more dynamic mouth feel and a cleaner flavor that lacks the flat, grassy nature that is common to sencha replacements. I would lean towards shorter extraction times or the texture becomes too associated with astringency and then a bitter response builds.
Directions: Used 4.5g of leaves in glass vessel, covered with 1oz cold filtered water and then added 4oz of 180 degree water and steeped 2-3 minutes, judging extraction by color and aerating into second glass beaker to decant. Did a second hot steeping using 160 degree water for 2 minutes and then a cold steeping to finish.

Notes: The first thing that grabs me is the name. There are many origins and processes that are possible when a tea is rendered into a ‘green’ leaf and without going into a longer debate about fermentation, steaming, withering and the general process to arrive a this ‘type’ of tea it is important to also note the distinction of tradition, language and ‘grading’ that distinguishes Sencha from ‘green tea’. A quick online search will point out that Sencha is a common Japanese term for green tea grown in Japan and there is some debate as to whether it has a meaning other than one that language and cultural define. Case being that ‘sencha’ then is simply ‘green tea’ and so while the term may be borrowed and applied it is no more contextually relevant than the other words for ‘tea’ like cha, te, tea, ect… It seems the borrowing of the term sencha is then to draw in people in the US who have little to no exposure to a tea education and who buy tea based on what little they know (I.E. black, green, white…) and in the case of the word sencha, to draw in those people who have a particular interest in ‘Japanese-styled’ green teas. What is perhaps debatable is the connection to one level of obscurity that is becoming more and more of concern and muddies a transparency issue: the selling of teas under cultural names (like Sencha) that are actually produced in other countries in a style similar.
A great example would be the making of ‘sencha-styled’ teas in China that are marketing under the Japanese term/name and are then able to sell for the perceived value of Japanese teas ($$$) over the generally cheaper Chinese green teas ($). I recently explored a wholesale offering of gyokuro (a Japanese term) on a website that upon speaking with a representative about its geographic origin (to ensure that it wasn’t in the wake of regions affected by the Tsunami), learned that it was actually a tea from China. At a cost that was nearly what I have bought at retail Japanese Shinriku green tea!
The trend is very rampant in flavored green tea blends as well, where Japanese tea is too pricy to use and instead ‘sencha-styled’ green teas are used as a base. Often in descriptive write-ups, the vague term green tea or sometimes sencha is used without distinction of origin and this can lead a customer to think they know where the ‘base’ tea’s origins are.
The truth is perhaps we can simply call ‘green tea’ by any cultural name we like, allowing blenders and distributors to follow market trends, but we should be cautionary as they are utilizing and manipulating the level of customer education that is out there. We don’t need tea enthusiasts who know nothing about what they drink, as it is probable that then they simply will chase ‘titles’ and price; potentially leading to tea drinkers who care little for the teas origin, scarcity, or cultural uniqueness. Kenya is an example of this kind of market control, where many believe that only CTC or coarse grades of tea can come from the region and that they are only good for iced tea, blending, and full oxidation. Recent moves by a few passionate tea farms have begun to show that tea craft and quality can be just as great in Kenya as in other more recognized regions of ‘quality’ full leaf tea. The move to illustrate this as well as provide interest to the tea public and allow traditionally niche regions to break out of ‘expected’ molds and ask for premium prices, leading to a better living for the farmers and a more comprehensive picture of what tea can be.
I would think that a rare and special tea like this one would benefit from a transparency of origin that would use a name indigenous to the region of Nepal and then this could be a discussion and education point, a way of distinguishing the tea and setting it apart in a meaningful and educational way; one that creates a cultural bridge and draws attention to the humanitarian effort and the development of needed markets for progress and growth.
It is much like the term ‘pu erh’ and its regional specificity to Yunnan, China. Yunnan is pu erh’s tea homeland and its people gain recognition and gather a devoted interest from this distinction. I know much more about the mountains of Yunnan and the ethnic minorities who live there from my love of pu erhs, I can distinguish mountain/regional terroir and notice blends, and even identify various years of harvest, making the distinction important and defendable. It has led me to develop an appreciation for the cultures and the craft that goes into pu erhs and stimulates interest. I think this is in part due to the teas regional transparency.
To know Nepal from its teas, from its people, its land and its uniqueness, would in itself be a gift. Nepal has a long culture of tea tradition, with its history drawn along the teahorse road; a route hundreds of years old and involving many ethic groups and cultural traditions. Nepal is a home to legendary mountains and a rich cultural tradition of storytelling and myth, tea sharing and hospitality.
If the Nepali Tea Company really wants to share their mission of advocacy and cultural improvement, then it follows that they should celebrate that with the names of their teas and should create a conversation with them, rather than borrow names that call to other cultural contexts to appeal to a less involved market.
To capture a premium tea price, look only to pure Japanese gyokuro or a vintage Yunnan pu erh: the fans are there and the devotion is forever. Yet new traditions and interest can be born from connecting to a place through the flavor in a tea, with that depth only deepening with the questions that arise from its name and its origin.
If a tea is ‘green’ let it be so in its leaf, and let its name ring distinctly and elude to its native origins, development, culture, or mythology; don’t let it uniqueness hide it behind another region’s cultural term. The comparison is not worthy of either land or tea and merely pits mountain dragon against the rising sun.


As an afterward…I held a cupping of the Nepali Tea Trader’s teas at a local shop to great applaud and while I was packing up happened across a couple who were looking for a green tea and offered to share this rare tea with them (never calling it sencha) but identified it as a green tea from Nepal and they were spell bound. I cupped it out to them and they proclaimed it to be the best green tea they had ever had and they gravitate towards the story of the Nepali Tea Traders and their mission. It was a great moment.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

I tried to write a note earlier and Steepster ate it. The response here was just as outstanding as you experienced. 45 people out on a sub-zero evening in a small town to taste tea is pretty good in itself.

Nicole

What an excellent way to spread love of good tea.

And this: “If a tea is ‘green’ let it be so in its leaf, and let its name ring distinctly and elude to its native origins, development, culture, or mythology; don’t let it uniqueness hide it behind another region’s cultural term” I agree with wholeheartedly. Well put.

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92

Himalayan Golden– Nepali Tea Traders
Dry: Floral, spicy, Mexican oregano, Muscatel
Wet: Rich floral- spice note that is soft and delicate
Leaf: Gorgeous long, narrow twisted leaves, dark umber hued, woven with golden fuzzy threads and the occasional dark-brick red leaf.
Cup: Bright, brassy-orange hued liquor, emanating gently muscatel aroma. Clean, lively front notes and extremely smooth, with a blushing floral-spicy flavor that fades into a mineral finish that is extremely crisp. Floral pollen notes hang on the finish and render a summery, Yhen Zhen Silver Needle feel to the palate which grips the edges of the tongue and hangs at the back of the throat. Refreshing, delicate and complex with a similarity to 3rd flush Darjeeling teas.
Directions: Used 3.5 g in 8oz of 203 degree water steeped for 3-4 minute and poured on high to aerate.

Notes: Reminiscent of Golden Darjeeling from Tao of Tea, but with a more assertive spice note that springs from dry Mexican oregano to grape vine. Very clean and smooth.

Wrote this a few weeks ago and it was shared with the crew at Nepali Tea Traders…not a very ‘story-like’ rendering, but I cupped this along with many other of their teas within a few days time and there were distinctive moments and then cups that resonated and completed the bridge with others. The Himalayan gold shares a characteristic that is indeed a defining bridge to a common flavor that could be defined as a regional terrior. If you listen to each of the regions teas, you can hear it…a silken thread of flavor that snakes through them all and speaks the language of the mountains and hints at the crush of continents and the thunder of captured clouds.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 45 sec
Bonnie

Poetic. Interesting grape vine/oregano (I only use Greek oregano so my flavor imagination is less musky). Wondering how much you played with the temperature’s on the Nepali Tea’s? The group of us here found the suggested timing not useful.

Kashyap

I play with the time and temp often…when I am cupping at work I often use a temp that is between 190-200 with standard 3g per 6oz….Mexican oregano has a distinctly more spicy/floral note and is less sweet than Greek oregano….and when you say ‘suggested’ you mean the timing that was provided by the company? I wouldn’t be surprised by that as they are much more about the humanitarian aspect and are newer to the tea community…hence their use of ‘pu-erh’ and ‘sencha’ terms when really the teas should be classified differently as both of those terms are regionally and culturally specific…I would imagine that time/temp considerations are also potentially harvested from ‘suggested’ standards….it would be I think more interesting to find out how they prefer to brew it in Nepal and what considerations are made on the altitude and water

Bonnie

OK, not Italian Oregano (which is what I think of as more musty and dark). I have the same impression about humanitarian vs newer to tea community and I don’t in any way look down my nose at that. I admire such courage! The Napali map I saw placed the tea farms at the lower right-hand side of Nepal not far from Darjeeling. (I’d like to get a copy of the map or see it on the website)

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92

Organic White Silk – White Lion Teas
Dry: Floral balance with distinct fruity-boysenberry elements and a almost candy-like nose
Wet: Fruit juice, sweet, dark fruit- acai
Leaf: Silvery-white buds, dark umber-hued stems, and shards of green leaves. Very much a Bai Mudan style and cut.
Cup: Crisp, golden, resonate yellow hued liquor. Smooth, rich body with slippery, fruity flavor that is white grapefruit and acai and that snakes around the typical Bai Mudan profile, of sweet, grassy and floral notes, hints of vegetal spice and calendula sweetness. Very smooth and refreshing, gently fruity and nicely balanced, with a subtle lingering flavor that glows on the palate. Gently astringent, so that after several cups the mouth is pleasantly cleansed and a light texture has built on the tongue.
Directions: 3.5g of leaves in graduated glass pot, steeped in 185 degree water for 3-4 minutes and decanted into double walled glass mug and aerated before serving.
Notes: I immediately deduced this to be a simple organic Bai Mudan and was deeply surprised when the cup resonated in aroma and flavor, such a predominate voice of fruitiness. If this is a flavored tea and not a natural characteristic, it is not mentioned in any of the information I have, but the flavor is so wonderfully woven, it doesn’t even resemble the typical flavored teas on the market, and instead is a sublime cousin who whispers into the ear of the tea lover and says ‘this too is possible’.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

Such a romantic.

Kashyap

it was confirmed that this is indeed a pure organic Bai Mudan and is not flavored….

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97

Royal Tea of Kenya – Royal Purple Orthodox Hand-Crafted Tea
Dry: Complex toasted aroma, woven with hints of floral/lilac and freshly dried pumpkin seed.
Wet: Delicate, sweet, and nutty, with a gentle floral/gardenia-white honeysuckle nuance.
Leaf: Gorgeous long, dark twisted leaves, thin and clearly showing stem and leaf. Some gold tipping and reddish-umber bud/leafs are woven into the darker, woody umber leaves, accentuating the beautiful texture and allowing the golden pollen a place to rest.
Brewing method: 3.3g in 190 degree water in graduated glass pot and poured from height to aerate, steeped for 3 minutes.
Cup: Glows with a golden-olive hued liquor whose edges darken with a hint of purplish depth. The tea has smooth, silky-buttery body, offering a clean, succulent mouth feel. At first, so smooth that defining it seems elusive, but successive sips build a sweet, floral marigold like flavor on the finish. The juicy cup is totally without bitterness, withstanding long steeps and hot temperatures. As the cup cools, hints of almond weave around a lingering aftertaste that hangs almost like mint, but whose flavor blushes long with mercurial floral notes.
Notes: I had a childhood that frequently was spent navigating railroad tracks, cattails, struggling mulberry trees, and feral honeysuckle bushes. Often my afternoon snack was scavenged from abandoned and neglected fruit trees and moments of sweetness were drawn from plucks of white and golden honeysuckle flowers, whose flavor would indelible be written on my palate. I remember the earthy, grassy, floral taste, the texture that would resist and then give way to your teeth as you bit it, and how there would be a sweet, vegetal honey note that was clean and crisp in the white flowers and gritty, deeply flowery and almost too sweet in the orange flowers. Drinking this tea takes me back to those moments of finding the perfect white honeysuckle flower, while walking home along the tracks, aware of the need to balance on the rail, while watching the rough rock and old creosote ties, and subtly aware of the raccoons and muskrats slipping from sight and the howls of the red-winged blackbirds that chided me from coming too close to their thorn tree nest.
The tea is one to drink and be transported, to set time aside for and to be in a place where the mind can find freedom. Truly a worthy gift to be shared for the rarest tea in Kenya and a labor of love and sacrifice for the farmers who dedicated their harvest and trusted that we could appreciate that there is more worth in a tea such as this, than in a forgotten teabag labeled English Breakfast.

I am extremely grateful to Joy Njuguna for sharing this with me and allowing me to try what is truly one such a rare gift of Africa.

  • I published this with some difficulty to Steepster and I’m not sure what the trouble was. Either way, the review is mine and I hope it isn’t confused with the tasting notes that are the official ones from the Royal Tea of Kenya. **
Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

I also enjoyed this tea and I’m glad there is interest in small farms producing such special gifts.

Kashyap

I figured it would find its way into to your cupboard Miss Bonnie…and I agree with you. Africa in particular has been such a place of exploitation that I hope teas such as this can begin to transform the way we not only view teas from the region, but that they will raise the infrastructure and the quality of life for all those who are in the industry. I also hope that it can reduce the land use and potentially preserve the natural wonder and rarity of bio-diverse regions like Mt. Kenya.

Bonnie

Amen (same with Nepal’s tea farms)!

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94
drank Quilan Oolong by White Lion
54 tasting notes

Organic Quilan Oolong – White Lion Teas
Dry: Soft fruity-berry note that quickly fades into a yuzu-pineapple, woodsy-toasty, ‘Wuyi’ mountain aroma
Wet: Citrus rind-pith, grapefruit, soft berry, brazil nuts, slight hints of sugar cane
Leaf: Dark sepia, umber hue when dried and picks up a deep wood, peat green when wet. Leaves are long and chopped, twisted and moderately oxidized.
Cup: Gorgeous luminous yellow-orange hued liquor with caramel edges. Medium bodied, juicy and rich with layers of flavor. Hints of cocoa nib, milk chocolate, citrus, and exotic fruit (even a touch of durian creaminess), come in waves on the sip; first striking the sides and front tongue and then settle and eddy with sweet flavors and a citrus pith aftertaste that is finished with a cocoa nib lingering. Clean and smooth with many blushing transitions.
Directions: Used 3.2g of tea in 8oz of 190 degree water steeped for 3-4minutes in a glass pot and aerated and decanted into porcelain cup.
Notes: I have never been much of a fan of teas from Wuyi and the usual flavors that arise from the processing style and the area are usually very typically toasted, sour, edgy, and generally not my cup of tea. Those teas also often carry a signature aroma as well, that I can spot immediately, and if the leaves cut doesn’t give it away, then the oxidation hue will. This tea resembles that in every way, but the distinct cocoa note is very clear and naturalistic and the citrus is subdued and balanced. There is a sublime sweetness that is left by the cup afterwards and is surprisingly present and distinct. I would rate this very well against other teas from Wuyi and say this is a wonderful surprise.
I also did a bit of searching to fully flesh out the origins of the tea as the term Quilan seemed phonetic and somewhat referencing an old ‘English’ term (much like Quimun to Keemun) and stumbled upon a secondary meaning and translation as Qu Lan and its translated name of Rare Orchid oolong and online reviews place this tea indeed in the Wuyi mountains in the Fujian province in Anxi County. Where is commonly reviewed as : dark in color with a nutty aroma, while less oxidized are green in color with an orchid aroma and a liquor of bright gold, and a lasting sweet aftertaste.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Azzrian

SIGH that review just prompted me to order this stuff along with their Lemon Souffle. I could NOT resist even though I am a bit broke. Dangit you! LOL I love that even their samples come in those cute little jars!! Nice sample size too! Dang I may have found a new place. AGAIN lol

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