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Recent Tasting Notes
Happy Firework Day everyone, I am currently fidgeting with my rather finicky tripod in hopes that it will be in prime working order for the fireworks I will be watching tonight. I hope all my fellow celebrators of the Fourth of July (or Firework Day as I have called it since I was a wee thing) have excellent firework displays (I am so sorry people on the East Coast getting swamped by Hurricane Arthur, bad timing that one) and I hope everyone else is having a lovely summer evening (or winter if you are from the most southern of hemispheres.)
Today is the last of Shan Valley’s 2014 Collection, Shan Black Tea-CTC, a first flush black tea whose processing is a local tradition in Shan Valley, Myanmar. Similar to yesterday’s Kyaukme Black Tea, this one is also a CTC (or Crush Tear Curl) but is more uneven, reputedly giving it more of a balanced flavor. The aroma of the little leaves is a blend of sweetness and richness. There are notes of roasted peanuts, molasses, malt, and a touch of fruity at the end. It was a faint fruitiness, but it smelled like a blend of plums and cherries.
The aroma of the now much soggier tea is much fruitier, the plum and cherry notes are at the forefront with a finish of rich molasses and roasted peanuts. The liquid is a nice strong blend of molasses and malt with a finish of roasted peanuts. It seems the aroma of the fruit stayed with the wet leaves.
Tasting time! The taste of this black tea is initially brisk, with notes of malt and oak wood. This fades to mildly sweet with notes of honey and roasted peanuts. The finish is a touch of molasses with a honey aftertaste. It is not a particularly complex tea, but it is a solid black tea.
For photos (fireworks) and blog: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/07/shan-valley-shan-black-tea-ctc-tea.html
I have decided to join in the festivities and have a sale in my Storenvy shop. It seems like every business that I get emails from is having a Fourth of July sale, and I thought it was a good idea. For all that I have spent years selling my creations, I am still pretty bad at promoting and marketing, especially now that it is not my focus. So thank you all those awesome companies who gave me the idea!
Today we are having another visit to Shan Valley, this time we are going to the black teas, specifically Kyaukme Black Tea-CTC. This first flush black tea comes Kyaukme Northern Shan State in Myanmar. The CTC (Crush Tear Curl) refers to the type of processing, long story short, the tea passed through a series of rollers lined with sharp little teeth that crush, tear, and curl the tea into neat little uniform balls. This tea smells really good! There are strong notes of malt, molasses, peanuts, honey and a touch of cherries at the finish. It is so rich and intense, this is a tea I would describe as heavy and bold, not so much light and brisk, it is not a ‘wake you up’ aroma, but more of a ‘sensual lounge in a comfy chair’ aroma.
Into the basket and hot water the little balls of tea go! This tea can probably take boiling temp, but since the website stated that temperature is to your taste and my taste is a little lower than boiling, I went with 200 degree water. I do not think this is always the case, but I find with CTC teas that boiling water can bring out unpleasant levels of bitterness, just a personal preference thing. The aroma if the wet leaves has a bit of that ‘wake you up’ briskness now, there are strong notes of malt and dried cherries with a bit of honey at the finish. The liquid retains the richness of the dry leaves, with notes of sweet cherries, roasted peanuts, molasses, and a finish of woodiness.
The taste is an interesting blend of brisk and bold. At first there is an initial zing that wakes you up, and then you can melt into your comfy arm chair. Starting with a bit of oak wood and malt at the opening, this very quickly fades to roasted peanuts, a touch of honey, stewed cherries and a touch of stewed plums (a general stone fruit kinda taste) with a finish of cocoa that lingers. Usually with CTCs I take them with cream and sugar (in fact I found that if you brew Shan Valley’s Black Tea from their 2013 Collection really long and hot, it makes a great base for Ostfriesen tea!) this one, I think is quite perfect straight.
Flavors: Cherry, Malt, Molasses, Peanut
I was looking at the weather today (because I am obsessed with staring at radars and watching weather systems…such a nerd) when I noticed a little news article about Hurricane Arthur will be the first hurricane to hit (in theory) on July 4th. This article also mention Tropical Storm Alberto which swamped the South in 1994. Ah, I remember it well, the creek (that always flooded a little during heavy rains) turned into a massive deluge that washed away my toy dinosaurs. I was sad that my dinosaurs went extinct, but now it makes me giggle a bit. I wonder if anyone ever found them up stream?
Today’s tea is another one of Shan Valley’s 2014 Collection, Pyin Green Tea. This green tea comes from Pyin Long, Northern Shan, Myanmar and is a first flush. The leaves are large and fairly dark, reminding me of the color of Serpentine. The aroma is very rich, a savory blend of salty vegetable broth, sauteed mushrooms, and a buttery finish. There is pretty much no sweetness in this aroma, just rich savory goodness.
After the leaves get their nice bath in my (progressively more damaged) gaiwan, the intensely savory aroma of the wet leaves happily wafts towards my nose. There are strong notes of sauteed mushrooms, vegetable broth, kelp, and a slight hint of smokiness at the finish. The liquid, on the other hand, is intensely sweet, with strong notes of marshmallow, flower nectar, and a tiny hint of nutmeg. I have really been amused by how the Shan Valley greens smell so savory as the leaf and so sweet as the liquid.
The first steep is subtle and complex. It starts out with sweet notes of marshmallow, this transitions into bamboo leaves, which in turn becomes savory vegetal at the end. My favorite part (other than notes of bamboo and marshmallow, how fun was that?) was the aftertaste. It was an unexpected rich smoked salmon, this tea is reminding me of a reverse Gobstopper, starting with dessert and ending with dinner.
Like the first steep, the aroma of the second steep is richly sweet. Strong notes of honey, marshmallow, and caramel with just the faintest hint of vegetal at the finish.. The taste has a start of vegetal broth, butter, and a touch of a salty twinge. This fades to bamboo leaves again, that almost act as a palate refresher in the middle. For the finish we have a bit of sauteed mushrooms and smoked salmon.
The third steep’s aroma is no longer sweet, instead we have sauteed veggies, mushrooms and smoked salmon. It is like the aroma finally caught up with the taste. Speaking of taste, this one starts out buttery and a touch like salted veggies (it reminds me a bit of soup.) This fades to sauteed mushrooms and a smoky, meaty taste. Very umami and rich! The more I taste different teas, the more enamored I become of these green teas that taste savory, the taste is unusual and really enjoyable.
Flavors: Butter, Smoke, Umami, Vegetal
Good news everyone, my insomnia broke sometime after 2am last night and I slept until 2 in the afternoon. I am still pretty pooped, but I no longer feel like a zombie. Though I did spend the majority of the day yesterday convinced it was Friday, and then I kept thinking today was Monday. All this sleep disturbance seems to have confused my perception of time, it is still 2010, right?
Now that silliness is out of my system, it is time to visit Shan Valley again, this time to taste their Kokang Green Tea. Grown in the Kokang Region of Myanmar, which is close to the popular tea growing region of Yunnan, China. This Green is the highest quality tea available to the public, that has me intrigued. The aroma is quite umami (or savory if you are unfamiliar with the term) with strong notes of smoked mushrooms and vegetable broth. There is also an underlying sweetness with notes of honey and yeast. The aroma is interesting, it very much reminded me of mushrooms cooked over a grill, which I greatly enjoyed.
Upon brewing this tea in my gaiwan (like I do) the grilled mushroom aroma is replaced with a slightly smoky, very vegetal, aroma. There are notes of green beans, asparagus, and butter in the wet leaves. The liquid did a complete turn around from the wet leaves, with strong notes of caramel, honey, marshmallows, and a delicate hint of papaya at the end.
The first steep is fairly light and delicate, with notes of spice, smoke, and straw. These notes are present throughout the entire sipping experience, but there are also notes of caramel at the midtaste and a bit of asparagus at the finish. I am very curious to try the second steep and see if the delicate notes become stronger.
The aroma of the second steel is a blend of sweet caramel and asparagus, not gonna lie, that sounds like a delicious idea for a food dish, especially if it tastes like it smells. The taste of this steep starts out sweet with notes of caramel and papaya, this fades to vegetal with noes of asparagus and green beans. The finish is like butter and is just as smooth. I liked this tea, it had interesting notes in both aroma and flavor.
Flavors: Caramel, Honey, Mushrooms, Smoke, Vegetal
Ok, this post might end up being more whimsical than usual. Why, you might ask, because over the course of the week I have gotten maybe fifteen hours sleep, total. The worst was the last two nights where I got maybe an hour of sleep, turns out my new sleep medicine did the exact opposite of make me sleep. No fear, I pick up new(ish, I had them before, they work wonders on pain and insomnia) ones tomorrow. I look forward to some nice long sleep.
But enough about sleep and medicine, that is boring, let us talk tea! Specifically Shan Valley’s Shan First Flush Green Tea. You are probably thinking ’didn’t you review this in the early spring?’ Well yes and no, this fancy tea from Myanmar is from Shan Valley’s 2014 Collection, so nice new tea. The aroma of these fairly large leaves is an interesting blend of vegetal and sweet. There are notes of lettuce, asparagus, spinach, honey, and fresh cherry. The vegetal is much stronger than the sweet, which is more of a finishing aroma.
I decided to go the gaiwan route with this tea, because I love my gaiwan. Once the leaves have been steeped and the tea poured off, I notice a slight hint of citrus among a very intensely vegetal aroma. There are notes of roasted veggies, lettuce, asparagus, artichoke, and spinach. I am really diggin’ how green this tea smells. The liquid’s aroma is totally different! There are notes of honey, citrus, sweet sticky rice, and cherry. I have a salad and dessert with these aromas.
The first steep is quite subtle and vegetal. It starts out like citrus and fresh vegetation, this transitions into the real vegetal treat. With notes of green beans, lettuce, spinach, and asparagus, I feel as though I had my dose of vegetables for the day. The aftertaste is a bit like sticky rice and toasted vegetables.
The second steep’s aroma is like the previous, deliciously sweet with notes of honey and sticky rice, but this time it has a bit of the vegetal at the finish. This steep is fun! There are distinct notes of lotus leaves, honey, sticky rice, citrus, lettuce, and spinach. It starts out sweet and then builds into the rice taste in the middle and finished with a leafy and citrus note. Last year’s first flush was ok, I enjoyed it. This year’s hit the spot for me, I loved how richly vegetal the flavors were and how contrasting the aromas were.
Flavors: Green Beans, Honey, Lettuce, Rice, Spinach
The tea that makes you wonder if you somehow grabbed coffee by mistake. Though definitely not an every-day tea, sometimes you just have to have something punchy-strong to get you through the morning.
Note: don’t oversteep this. A lot of my black teas say steep for 5 min.; 3 minutes is plenty for this one.
Flavors: Earth, Roasted
Review rating bump.
This is really good iced and makes for a good blending base. My first review was this tea hot and it was just to woodychippy (like red rooibos) and astringent for me. Iced, its more mellow with the elements I disliked are gone.
I also steeped this with equal parts of a fruit herbal and had a killer fruity iced tea!
After scanning through some of the tasting notes of this tea, I see that this one wasn’t as big a hit with others. I personally liked this one. Of the four teas from Tea Valley, I think that this one represents the daily “go to” type of tea with more of a “green tea” taste … you know … the classic green tea taste: vegetal that falls somewhere between grassy and buttered beans, leaning just a little more toward the grassy than the vegetables. Very subtle nutty notes – not quite as roasted or nutty as the Mountain Roasted Green Tea from Tea Valley, but, still … this is nice.
Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/04/10/valley-green-tea-shan-valley/
Thanks to Carol Who for sending me this sample. This tea is chopped up so fine, it nearly resembles coffee grounds. I treated it like I would treat ’Grampa’s anytime tea’ or ‘Crimson Horizon’, both Kenyan teas (I think) from Butiki. Although this tea is not from Kenya, but rather from Myanmar, it still reminds me of those african teas, both in it’s finely chopped appearance, & in the resulting cup, with was robustly bold & tart! It also packs a pretty good punch, & although it isn’t something I plan to stock, it was what I needed today.
I’m getting so excited that fruits are coming back into season! One of the many perks of warmer weather. Anyway, I did something a little different with this cold steep. In addition to adding the green tea, I added some sliced up strawberries to the water bottle as well. I let the whole concoction sit for about 6 hours with delicious results! The strawberry flavor was much stronger than I anticipated, but I think it complemented the green tea very nicely. Also, it kind of makes me feel like I’m at a spa or something where they have those refreshing fruit infused waters. This was fun, and I think my next target will be orange slices. Gotta love fresh fruits!
I was looking forward to my first pot of Shan Valley Green after my positive experience with their First Flush Green. The leaves of Green are similarly dark and petrified, but they are somewhat larger and thicker than the First Flush. I also noticed that the dried leaves smell much less smoky. The color of the thick, crisp, compact, gnarled knots is the same slate grey/blue veering teal as in the First Flush. Very nice.
Interestingly enough, however, the brewed liquor is very similar in taste to my memory (from yesterday!) of the First Flush tea. The color is basically the same—perhaps a tad bit darker but still gold veering brown with small amounts of white particulate matter floating about. The same vegetal quality is dominant and, again, the leaves do not fully unfurl during the first infusion.
I don’t really know what to say about the drastically low ratings which this tea has received from a couple of reviewers. True, this is not a Japanese green, but on the other hand nor is it a grocery store lint-filled filterbag green. This is a single origin, high-quality full-leaf “terroir” tea, if you will, with a distinct personality and appeal. I like it!
Looking forward to the second infusion… especially since with the First Flush, the flavor becomes richer and smoother in subsequent infusions.
I brewed up a big tetsubin of Shan Valley First Flush Green today, and once again I am pleased with the quality. The liquor is light gold veering peach, and there is no denying the dark vegetal flavor. In fact, this tea bears some similarities to Tealux Cloud’s Green, which I drank only yesterday. One of these days I’ll have to draw up a flavor map of green teas—there are so many different varieties with so many entirely distinct personalities!
I would have to say that this is a more serious green tea. Not for those who prefer adulterants along with their greens. This is a tea for green tea drinkers, definitely not for the Teavana crowd. For purists only.
Tomorrow I’m going to have to try some more of the offerings from Shan Valley. I meant to do that the last time I brewed this tea, but I got distracted and then pretty much lost track of where everything was. I now know where my big Shan Valley envelope is, happily…
One final point on the appearance of this unique tea: the leaves are a dark bluish-green. It’s midway between teal and the blue analogue to teal (not sure what that name is). Very attractive. I’m looking forward to the second infusion, as this tea does not fully unfurl in the first infusion. A lot more flavor lies ahead!
As I mentioned in previous tasting notes, this tea as a hot tea didn’t impress me much. However, as a cold brew, it was pretty refreshing, so I cold brewed it again. This time, I didn’t leave it in the fridge for more than maybe 8 hours or so, which prevented the bitterness I tasted last time. It’s a refreshing, though a bit generic-tasting, iced green tea.
A very unique and pleasant green – it has smokey notes, and ocean-y flavors, and citrus. I love how it isn’t astringent at all, because it helps these strong flavors from being overwhelming. I am not the biggest smokey tea fan, but I did enjoy this.
Shan First Flush Green Tea is a flavorful and aromatic tea. I noticed today that the dried leaves bear a resemblance to some kinds of dried mushrooms—both in shape and in scent. The brewed liquor was pale yellow veering brown and the taste was slightly earthy. Perhaps that was caused in part by expectations, after having sniffed the dried leaves…
In other news, I am now suffering from sleep deprivation. Moving hell continues…
Cold brewed this for a bit too long (probably over 12 hours?). I got a nice, grassy taste that ended with a sweet note. I think that oversteeping did add some bitterness, but it was easily forgivable. Since I wasn’t too big of a fan of this tea hot, I will probably use up the rest in my cold brewing frenzy.
So from the 3 teas I bought samples from Shan Valley Tea, this one is not so bad. Kind of faint praise, but I guess their teas are just not to my taste. This one had a very slight roasted taste so it wasn’t so green and seaweed like as the other green sample but that totally came out more when I had let it sit and cool. I really wanted to like these teas but oh well, I guess. And I can’t be too unhappy, it was cheap to try them.