Phoenix Herb Company
Popular Teas from Phoenix Herb CompanySee All 8 Teas
Recent Tasting Notes
I am pretty sure Ben’s computer doesn’t like me, even though I am using it right now, I bet it is just seething with annoyance that someone other than Ben is using it. All day it has been dropping the internet like it is dial-up and there is only one phone line in your house, and now it is refusing to read my camera’s SD card. So the tea I had planned to review today has to be changed, which is a pity because I was rather excited to go on a ramble about it…and show off my tea desk after I redid it. Silly machines and their problems, maybe I offended Optimus Prime in a past life or something?
Computer woes aside, there is always tea, even if I did have to reshuffle my schedule a bit (not that I have the most strict tea schedule since I like writing about a tea that inspires me that day) and this one is from tea shop right near my house (at least my Kansas City house) Phoenix Herb Company, specifically their Four Seasons Spring Oolong! This tea hails from Mingjing, Taiwan, and is plucked in the spring, though this specific tea can be plucked during all the seasons while having a consistent flavor, much like it was plucked during spring. The aroma of the leaves is a refreshing blend of floral, green vegetation with a tiny bit of a baked finish. It starts with hyacinth, transitions to growing things, and a tiny bit of sesame seeds, though not toasted ones, just fresh sesame seeds. It gives it that touch of sweetness to a spring scented tea.
So I decided to brew this one in the yixing teapot I got my mom for Christmas (and then liked it so much I got myself one for Pu erh) and make the two of us some tea, that might be what I miss most about being in PA, always having tea with my mom…but I digress…brewing the leaves brings out a touch of nutty chestnut, but really what comes wafting out of the teapot is a springtime bouquet of hyacinth, orchids, and green vegetation. It reminds me of walking around Kauffman Gardens during spring, so it is quite lovely. The liquid, having been freed from the teapot, is a blend of chestnuts, fresh vegetation, and a touch of minerals. Of course there is a blast of floral, more like fresh blooming flowers than perfume, primarily hyacinths and a touch of lily.
One of my favorite things about Four Seasons (or Si Ji Chun) Oolong is how approachable it is, usually on the cheaper end of green Taiwanese Oolongs, this makes it good for everyday sipping. It is also not a super powerhouse of flavors making it, again, good for everyday sipping. it is an Oolong I have found myself drinking while painting or gaming because it tastes great, but you don’t get overwhelmed by its presence. This Four Seasons is no exception, the mouthfeel starts out creamy and smooth and stays that way throughout the first steep. The taste is gently nectar sweet and very floral, though in a mellow drinking distant flower aroma rather than a bottle of perfume. There is a bit of a mineral taste at the finish, like fresh spring water.
The aroma of the second steep is still quite floral, a nice blend of hyacinth and flower nectar, with an added bit of wildflower honey thrown in at the end. The second steep is much like the first, starting out floral and sweet, but along side the hyacinth there is a little touch of spicebush. This transitions to fresh vegetation and growing things, with a finish of mineral at the end. It leaves a subtle honey sweetness as an aftertaste that lingers.
In theory I would be apologizing for no tea blog yesterday, but I am not sorry, TU19 came out yesterday and I was in utter bliss. A bit of backstory, the last ‘real’ not bugfix update for the Xbox 360 version of Minecraft came out last time I was in Pennsylvania, either in July or August of 2013! I know 4J Studios has been busy making Minecraft for all the other consoles, and that is awesome, but I was seriously gloomy about the lack of update. So as expected, when I saw yesterday that the new update was out, all my plans flew out the window as I went around taming horses and giving mobs really random names.
It is now time for yesterday’s tea today! My current home town of Kansas City has a delightful shop which I visit on occasion, Phoenix Herb Company (who will be at the Midwest Tea Fest, hint hint :P ) and I am looking at one of my favorite teas: Dian Hong! Basically Dian Hong translates to Yunnan Red, so this is a fancy red (or black) tea from Yunnan, it is not as fuzzy and golden as some of my favorite red teas, but it makes up for lack of gold by having a powerful flavor and smell. Or at the very least the other Dian Hongs I have had are like that, so time to see how this one compares. The aroma is super sweet, there are notes of raisins, sweet potato, a bit of dark rum, cherries, and some floral in there as well. It has a headiness to it, but more of a fruity sweet headiness than floral, though the distant rose aroma is quite striking.
So, into the gaiwan the leaves go, after their first somewhat short steeping (30 seconds if you are curious) the aroma of the leaves is still sweet, but it takes on a heavy richness. There are notes of cocoa, raisins, dried cherries, molasses, and a nice malty punch at the finish. It is an aroma that wakes you up, which is good, especially after an all-nighter of Minecraft. The liquid is really malty and bright with a distinct cherry undertone and a finish of molasses.
The first steep starts out really brisk and bright, it almost reminds me of an Assam who decided to visit Yunnan and liked it so much they stayed. I could see this becoming a really good breakfast tea. After the initial brisk malt tones, it mellows out to molasses and raisins at the midtaste, this in turn goes to sweet cherries and a touch of smoke at the finish. The smoky finish is so minute that it took me a few sips before I was certain it was there and not just in my head.
For the second steep, the aroma is much maltier and even more brisk, it practically effervesces and wakes me up from sniffing it, definitely a good morning tea! Like the previous steep it starts out brisk, bright, and malty, but it lacks the sharpness of astringency that some really brisk teas can have. After the beginning’s zinginess it moves into heavy cherry and raisin sweetness which lingers into the aftertaste. I could see this being a really good wake up tea for someone who wants a milder black but finds most Chinese red teas too mild and more ‘Western style’ black teas too intense.
I sadly do not have anything really interesting or important to open today’s post with. My sleep schedule is all wonky, so I woke up late in the afternoon, I played Minecraft (working on a Creeper Argonath) and played some Soul Calibur V with Ben. My breakfast was cornbread stuffing and a Matcha latte, so yeah, nothing too exciting today.
Today’s tea is Lapsang Souchong from local tea and herb shop, Phoenix Herb Company. Lapsang Souchong is a fun tea, it originated as low quality tea that was sent to those outside of China since apparently smoking a tea over pine fire makes it a lot easier to transport (less apt to rotting on the Tea Horse Road). Nowadays we can get the fancy stuff that was originally reserved for tribute, but we still love our smoked teas. The aroma is extremely smoky, it is like sticking your face in a pine wood campfire or running away from a forest fire. There is no subtlety at all in the empyreumatic (smoky) aroma of this tea, but there is more to it than just smoke. Once you waft off the clouds of smoke you can pick up a faintly sweet malty quality and a hint of pine resin.
The brewed tea is not like sniffing a forest fire any longer, the smokiness is significantly more subtle and joined with malt and molasses sweetness. The aromas blend together quite nicely and the tinge of sweetness is tantalizing. The liquid has the aroma of campfire and also pine sap with a hint of rich malt.
Fun side note, when I first started drinking primarily loose leaf tea, Lapsang Souchong was one of the ones I drank the most. The taste of this particular Lapsang Souchong is quite pine heavy, both in pine smoke and pine sap. There is also a rich malt quality similar to an Assam, there is mildly astringent finish that gives the mellow and rich smokiness an extra zing at the end. I recommend this tea, so much so that whenever there is a family gathering and I do not feel like offering a tea menu, this is the tea I serve everyone. It is safe to say I end up brewing several pots and give lots of refills.
Flavors: Malt, Pine
A really surprising treat this morning!
Love this tea!
Full review going up on http://sororiteasisters.com/ on the 16th but here are my snippits:
Pomegranate Splash from Phoenix Herb Company is such a refreshing treat! It reminds me of everything about spring. It has this awakening, light, lovely flavor and aroma, that truly refreshes and makes you feel alive.
The first sip was like drinking in a ray of sunshine! Clean, crisp, refreshing, and fruity! The flavor of Pomegranate is spectacular! There is no artificial flavor here and I am choosey about that! I really was not anticipating having a flavored tea this morning but as I looked through my teas, I kept being drawn to this one and I am so glad I went for it. I have had three cups so far – two being re-steeps and I am finding that the tea is actually making me quite perky and cheerful! There is nothing like a really good cup of fruity flavored tea in the morning. Granted I generally trend more toward straight blacks, with the malty depth and complexity, but it is nice to wake up with a cheerful cleansing tea.
Well I am impressed. Both with this tea and with Phoenix Herb Company! I have made it my personal mission to make it INTO their store one day soon, but until I can, and do, I have plenty of wonderful teas to sip on as their prices are excellent as well.
Get some here: http://phoenixherb.com/