Popular Teas from Tea HawaiiSee All 6 Teas
Recent Tasting Notes
i’m not sure if this is the right listing – tastybrew brought us this from hawaii. I feel like this isn’t the right listing, but it’s where terris put hers soooo yeah. lol this package says Johnny’s garden. It’s a lovely cup that’s seriously smooth with a bit of sweetness in the background. It’s not overly strong or malty but it is delicious and that’s all that matters. and it’s a sipdown soooo 3-4 left to go for today…except i have a ton of things to do outside the house! gah!
Here’s what I drank so far today:
Bukhial – Tea Emporium (from Sil) Sipdown! I needed something bold…
Numalighur – Mariage freres (Sil) Sipdown! I needed more bold…
French Toast – 52teas (BBBB Grab bag, Tasty Brew) -just not for me
Russian Caravan – Upton – back down to earth
Butter Brandy Cake – 52teas (BBBB Grab Bag, Tasty Brew) – even less for me
Then there is THIS tea, which Tasty Brew included in the Grab Bag in our BBBBox, purchased on her trip to Hawaii. There is just enough for me & Sil to each sample it.
This is very different from any other black tea I’ve tried ever, & defies description, & yet I will try…roasted rye, with a hint of grilled pineapple, & an aftertaste of unsweetened cacao.
Does that sound terrible? It’s NOT! It’s an interesting tea, very unique & I wish I had more, just for a change of pace.
This oolong comes by way of my Bosses who recently toured the tea gardens of Hawaii. The leaves look like a a cross between mao cha and a lazily rolled oolong. Wet leaf aroma smells like a medium roasted Tie Guan Yin and brews a light amber similar to a Bai Hao oolong. After the first infusion, the roasty qualities fall off completely and leave the more floral notes I would expect from some high mountain (volcano) teas. The body of the tea I would describe as being more similar to a Bai Mu Dan than anything else. The flavors are smooth and a little dry, although not as dry as the other hawaiian teas I tasted (maybe it’s my water?) there’s hints of butter and a bit of oats or maybe a barley like taste. Interesting to say the least, I’m about to post a more detailed version of this tasting on my blog with some pictures added.
As some one who prefers oolongs with more diversity of flavor notes and less astringency, this is one of my favorite oolongs. A full flavor that never gets too sharp, with a nicely bright yet humble flavor (which some people may interpret as lacking). I can see where the cedar description comes from, but I trust there is a better word. Well done.
There are two version of this in the database, one with a sinensis variety leaf and an assam leaf variety. Unfortunately I have no clue which one of them I actually have so I ended up just picking one, and this one seemed more standardised.
Right, I’m a little distracted while writing this as I’m sharing it with the boyfriend and trying to have a conversation of sorts at the some time.
The aroma of the cup is a bit agricultural, sort of spicy and hay-like. A bit grassy as well.
Flavour-wise, it’s gone a bit cold because as mentioned, I’m distracted, but I seem to find some honey-ish and raisin-y notes in here. A bit floral on the finish, but I’m plocky plocky wock-wock (The boyfriend told me just fill it in with that when I couldn’t remember the last half of that sentences). Anyway, a little floral on the finish, but not overly so.
I’m wondering actually if I picked the right variation from the database at this point because the honey and raisins remind me rather of assams when done right.
Another lucky dip. Actually it’s just the first of many but when I took this one I wasn’t convinced it was the one I wanted. I just didn’t want any of the others I randomly picked out either, so I stuck with the first one up.
First thing that struck me about it was the that leaves are not rolled or shaped at all, but simply dried in whichever shape they happened to have. Secondly, I didn’t know from the bag what type of oolong to expect but the the leaves made me think it was probably mostly a green type. But then the picture on the tea here at Steepster clearly shows a dark type. So I’ve decided that it’s probably an in-between thing.
They have a strong aroma, a bit spicy and rather hay-like. It reminded me a bit of Darjeeling, to be honest, which has me a little concerned as I don’t really care for Darjeelings all that much. After steeping I’m a little less worried about that however, as the spicy hay note is gone and replaced by something strongly floral and somewhat fruity. Apples and pears seem to be a common sort of note to find in greener oolongs and this is no exception. There is also something very herbal about the aroma, reminding me a little of chamomile.
Hm, there’s a certain amount of Darjeeling-esque spiced hay in the flavour, but again I’m getting a strong association to sweet apples, or the slight sourness of apple juice perhaps. But that spiced hay note… No, I can’t say I’m really that much of a fan of that. There is an almost minty-cool freshness about the aftertaste that is really quite nice. It lends a perky quality to an otherwise not impressive tea.
I’ve heard super-awesome things about these Hawaiian grown teas in general, but this being my first meeting with them doesn’t have me totally convinced. Or maybe it’s just the degree of fermentation in this particular oolong that doesn’t speak to me. I tend to prefer them either on the dark end of the spectrum or the deep green end. None of this half-way stuff, please.
I am so pleased to have a chance to try this varietal from Tea Hawaii, not only because I love (love love love) their Assam varietal but also because I’ve got less than 10g of that tea left with no hopes of buying more until next year. So much thanks to sophistre for the chance to try this one!
The leaves of both types are long, twisty and defy any measurement other than weight. But these seem to be a bit thinner and a little blacker than their Assam cousin’s. The smell of the dry leaves is different too, but it’s hard to exactly pinpoint how. This one might be a little lighter/higher in tone.
Brewed up, the smell is totally wow. While the Assam seems to be rye bread syrup, this one is more yeasty and sweeter. Sweet potato preserves spread over fresh baked bread or maybe sweet potato casserole. The sweetness coats my mouth in a very delightful way.
Compared to the Assam varietal, this is lighter in flavor (in overall tone that is, not intensity as it is very flavorful) and sweeter. The other is probably the richer, darker flavor and a bit heavier feeling. So they are fairly different though there are similar notes, particularly bready and sweet (though different types of both). It’s hard to pick a favorite, though so I’m giving the same rating for now. That might change since I’m determined to have a side-by-side taste test to figure out which of these beauties I love more. Of course, regardless of the answer to that one, it still means that, yeah, Tea Hawaii is going to get more of my money.
The very last thing that I should be doing right now is drinking tea. I have had a tremendously difficult time sleeping the last few nights, and this is not going to help. It wouldn’t be so bad for me if I were capable of writing creatively when my schedule gets bent out of joint, but it seems to knock the rest of me from kilter as well…but it’s late, I’m sore and headache-ridden, malcontent about another late night. I need to snuggle some tea, and this has been lying around and tempting me.
What a very strange oolong.
First, the leaves.
They don’t look like any oolong leaves I have ever seen before. I will grant you that I am not the most experienced tea-drinker in the world and that there are probably many varieties of oolong that I have yet to try, but these leaves look — I am being entirely literal in my description — like something I might have raked up in the yard in autumn. Not dirty or grungy, mind you — like clean, glossy, well-dried autumn leaves – - but nevertheless very much like that, in many shades of brown, a bit broken, not particularly curled or rolled. They smell wonderful and distinctly oolong-y, more on the green end of the spectrum than otherwise.
The package recommends brewing at 208 for 3 minutes. I don’t usually brew my oolongs with water this hot, but I imagine that Eva knows best, so I followed the instructions. The resulting cup of tea is not, in fact, a light yellow-green as described above, but an amber that could easily have resulted from a very timid Ceylon. As it was initially brewing it smelled very much like a green, floral oolong; those scents have deepened quite a bit to something more earthy, as though the tea is actually really somewhere between a dark oolong and a green one.
The other tasting note’s reference to balsam seems appropos. I’m not sure if it’s balsam or cedar, or the pine in the description, but there’s definitely a forest-y element here. The end of the sip is sweet on the edges of my tongue, and astringent in the center, but the astringency isn’t lingering. It seems almost tart, but I’m not sure that it is. The mouthfeel is full-bodied.
My description is completely inadequate. The tea does not push an overwhelming amount of flavor onto you — I was afraid it was a bit underwhelming — but what flavors are there to be sensed are many and varied, and trying to pin down the elements individually is proving very difficult for me. A complex, unusual oolong for me. Citrus! No, floral! No, pine! No, it smells like butter!
I would like to try it at 175 in order to see if that changes things, but I’m pretty sure that I would be reckless if I had another 16oz cup of tea this late (alright, more reckless), so that is an experiment that will probably have to wait for the morning. Leaving the rating off for now, but it would be set somewhere in green-happy territory, I think.
I’ve been SO EXCITED to get this order in.
The recommendations have been so glowing around here that it has been hard not to be curious. What held me back for so long, you ask? Not my overflowing tea cupboard (I will let it take over my counter, and don’t care in the least), but my lack of a check book. By the time I finally wrote Eva Lee to inquire as to whether or not her company could take a debit card (they can!), she was sold clean out of the Makai Black in the Assamica varietal, which is (she told me) the tea that all of you lovely steepsterites have been giving such high marks of late. They won’t be harvesting more of that until the fall.
She informed me that she did have the Sinensis varietal on hand, however, and could send it out immediately. How could I not take her up on that? I ordered a few bags of that and one of the Mauka Oolong to try, and spent the last week buzzing around wishing my tea could be teleported here instantly.
The leaves are unusual. They’re long, but not quite as wide as the ones in the picture (to be expected, given the difference in the size of the leaves between the varietals) and much more…squiggly. I have no other word for it. The liquor produced is much lighter (at three minutes)…but because the leaves are so…squiggly…and because I have no scale, I hesitate to say that this is absolute fact, since my estimates could have been off on the quantity of leaf.
How should I describe what I’m tasting? It’s difficult to sort out. I don’t know that I can recall what barley on its own is like, which may be an obstacle to writing a proper review. The comparison to roasted sweet potatoes is instantly identifiable, but there’s something in the aroma that is…more than that. I thought about it for a long time before deciding that it reminds me a little of the smell of miso soup…
Or maybe it’s soba…
Or maybe it’s both.
My second steep — something I don’t usually try with blacks save for the first time I have them, just to see if it works — the leaves literally inflated to fill my little wire basket infuser (because, yes, I broke my glass one, sadface). They fattened up, saturated, unfolded to fill every last bit of space like they had pretensions toward being oolong leaves. I have to think that a longer steep time than 3 minutes for the first infusion would produce a different cup than the one I had, therefore, and am eager to try it…or upping the leaf quantity, one or the other, though I’m not sure where I would expect them to fit had I added any more.
This cup is darker than the first. I’m not sure on my steep time, because I was too fascinated by the leaf expansion to pay proper attention, but it smells delicious. The ‘roasted’ part of ‘roasted sweet potatoes’ is much more prevalent now.
Anybody who has the assam varietal who feels like parting with some of it in exchange for some of mine, lemme know. I’m eager to try more of what they have to offer!
Rating is soft for now, cos I left this review sitting all day after getting distracted by other things.
Fresh from the World Tea Expo I attended a focused tasting of White & Oolong teas hosted by Jane Pettigrew. Hands down this is the best White Tea I have ever tasted. Selling at $300 a pound it is without a doubt a luxury tea. The Mauka Oolong was way up up there as well. Worth checking out this great farm!
I can hold myself back no longer. I have to try this tea. I’m going to use Auggy’s time and temperature settings and see if I get rye bread to form in my cup.
The leaves, as has been said, are unbelievably, almost freakishly, long. I just had to take a ruler to them. Here’s the measurements on a random sample of 3 leaves. Understand that this is from end to end, and they twist and curve like climbing rose vines, so their actual length is longer.
1. 1.75 inches
2. 1.5 inches
3. 1.75 inches
They’re basically rake-able length leaves. Imagine that. Or maybe don’t. Wouldn’t want anyone inadvertantly to induce a catatonic state while contemplating such pure tea rapture.
They are a very dark green. Like a few shades closer to black than olive drab, and intensified. There are some amazing, silvery buds in there. The leaves have a patina that gives an impression of softness. Really gorgeous. A+ for the look of the dry leaves.
Their smell is toasty, roasty, nutty, green (!), fruity, sweet and there is even a coffee-like note in there. Fragrant, complex, deep. A+ for the smell of the dry leaves.
I’m steeping them in the Breville for 4 minutes at 205. It’s like watching grass grow. I can’t wait! It occurs to me that I may not have put in enough leaf. The Breville comes with its own scoop, which it suggests you use. However, the scoop doesn’t really accomodate leaves that are almost 2 inches long. So there was a lot of white space in there. I’ve decided that if I don’t get a terrific result this time I’m going to call a do over and use a scale measure instead before proceeding. I don’t want to short change this tea.
And the verdict is, I’m not sure. The liquor is very light in color, rather oolongy. I’m thinking that’s not how it’s supposed to be. So I’m going to do it over and make sure I use 3g per serving on the scale. Here goes.
Fascinating. I used 6g for 500ml this time. And I still get a liquor about the same color. This is the yellowest, most un-black-tea-colored black tea I’ve ever brewed! It’s not what I would describe as “crystalline amber” but it does reach amber, on the lighter end of the scale. Do I give it an F in liquor color for not being an example of its class, or an A+ for being different and interesting and true to its description? Pass for now.
The aroma is like the smell of the dry leaves writ small, plus it opens up to give a preview of what one might expect in the taste. I totally get the rye bread! I don’t know if I could have identified it that specifically on my own, but I get the unsweetened bready, grainy aroma (which could also be the barley identified in the description), and right at the beginning there’s a dry, almost sharp note that is very reminiscent of rye. And yet, there’s a fresh, almost green smell as well as a lovely, soft, sweetness around the edges. And gosh, I still get something roasty that’s a little like coffee. A+ for aroma.
Light bodied, but deep flavored. Smooth, but slightly astringent. There’s a complexity that is suprising given the body of this tea. I usually associate complexity with full body, but that association has just been defenestrated.
There’s a sweet, bready, flavor and a dark, black tea taste that sneaks up on you to remind you what this is, just when you thought you were drinking something else. A sweet, coffee-like aftertaste.
Random wet leaf measurement: 2.5 inches! Wow!
I haven’t ever given a perfect score and I’m not sure I’m ready to. But this is definitely an A+ of a tea.
Okay…so…I will also post this review under the Samovar Listing…
I received this ROCKSTAR Tea from Auggy! Woot Woot!!!!
I will agree with others in saying that this is – by far – a black tea of it’s own! It’s in a completely different category! It’s wonderful BUT…it’s certainly NOT your stereotypical Black Tea!
The leaves are glorious! They are on the biggest leaves I have EVER SEEN…EVER! They are FAB! And SCREAMING for multiple infusions!!!! The very slight sweet smell of the tea is barely there and it’s a light and mellow yet pleasant and sweet and juicy taste. In a way I am thinking about ROCK CANDY from the 80s…you know…on the stick!? But I can also comprehend the Rye-Bread comparison made by a few others. The product description from the company says roasted sweet…when I first read that all I could say is “REALLY?” but the more I drink it the more it makes sense! I suppose as an after taste and after thought I can taste the caramel notes.
I just don’t know…there are some things that throw me for a loop – but in a good way!!! Trying to figure out HOW this tea is done so well and why more people haven’t tried it or even heard of it…just might have to be added to that list!
I’m going to infused the EVER-LIVIN’ out of these leaves…so stay tuned for the multiple infusion notes!
A few thoughts on this tea:
- 1 ounce is not enough. I should have gotten more but it is kind of expensive. Worth it, but the price kept me from getting the metric ton that I truly wanted.
- These leaves seem fresher. This seems to make the richness of this tea more intense.
- And speaking of leaves, they are gorgeous. I’m not a big one for the visual side of tea, but these leaves are so huge and twisty and beautiful that I can’t help but appreciate them.
- I just don’t understand how something can be this dark tasting and still have such gorgeous sweet notes. It’s like rye bread made into syrup. Or brown rice. And the aftertaste is like I’ve been drinking syrup.
- I need to buy more of this. Maybe Tea Hawaii sells it by the pound. (And the husband won’t have a heart attack at spending that much on tea.)
I think 4 minutes is my happy spot for steeping this. At 3 minutes (which Tea Hawaii recommends), the lighter sweetness was hiding but at 4 minutes it comes out more. I’m not getting quite the super-grilled fruit notes because the sweetness is richer than that.
Anyway, my first steep (3 minutes) was more sweet rye bread but the second steep (4 minutes) had a little more balance. Actually, the second steep tastes like a first steep so I find that pretty awesome. No loss of flavor or strength.
The third steep (6 minutes) still seems a little milder, but there is more of the lighter sweetness than the rye bread sweetness so that could be what is giving that impression. Also, this third steep tastes a lot like the first steep from first time I tried this tea. Yay for fresh leaves!
I’ll try for a fourth steep in a bit – I drink this tea really quick and am starting to feel a wee bit caffeinated. To drink it so fast I think means that I really like this tea. But I kinda knew that.
The small, multicolored dry leaves are curly, but not rolled-up, and smell mossy and fresh. Leaf hairs in the golden brew testify to the youngness of the leaves. In it’s flavor, the base note is balsamic, overlaid by the green mossy-ness and notes of artichoke and red clover blossom. It is like a pouchong, lightly oxidized, but the floral tastes and aromas are more earthy, like the clover blossom, and less like the very sweet flowers we normally call to mind. Because I dabble in herbs, my concept of floral scent has been enlarged to include what I would call (in an aromatherapy context) a mid-note florality. If I sense a top note in this oolong, it is fleeting. This is a subtle tea, which takes some consideration to fully appreciate. I am curious about how this tea would turn out if steeped at lower temperatures, perhaps 190F. I’ll post about it here, if it gives a substantially different result.
And then there is the freshness, even in this oolong. I am sure I have never had camellia sinensis tea this fresh. Which means that it hasn’t had time to absorb the ambient aromas from months of travel, packed in various containers which are opened and closed all over the world. Some of what we taste in tea from China, for instance, is travel-acquired. We may have come to think of it as the taste of tea. Now, having tried three extremely fresh teas from Hawaii, I think perhaps not.
As to how my sister got these Hawaii-grown teas, which are not available anywhere online at this time, to send me for my birthday (thank you, Chrissy!): she reports that she went to teahawaii.com and emailed them, then mailed a check. I don’t know what she paid, but if you want to find out how fresh tea tastes (or perhaps how tea really tastes) it may be worth it.