Tea & SympathyEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
My voyage into the darker side of Oolongs continues.
Aroma: Wholesome yet subtle. Light caramel, oak and raisins combine to produce a medira liquor aroma that is sweet and inviting. There is something uniquely comforting about this tea. The second steeping brings out more vegetal and kombu seaweed notes, but the overall effect is still one of sweetness.
Palate: Plenty of sweetnes there that lingers long. Fruitcake and honey are backed up with a toastiness reminiscent of a roasted oolong. Palate: Plenty of sweetnes there that lingers long. Fruitcake and honey are backed up with a toastiness reminiscent of a roasted oolong. Slight iodine. Silky smooth without a hint of bitterness. The second steeping just brings on more honeyed sweetness in a way that reminds me of stevia leaves – lingering and slightly vegetal.
Overall: Quite a unique flavour spectrum. Similar in many ways to a number of fermented Oolongs I’ve tried but yet occupying its own space in between the bone-dry woodiness at one end of the spectrum and the spice and marmalade at the other. This middle-ground is perhaps what makes this a beautifully balanced tea. Yet despite this complexity and balance, I don’t find this tea quite as much of a delight to drink as some fermented Oolongs i’ve had (including T&S’ Orchid Nectar).
Flavors: Caramel, Honey, Wood
I’m more into my unfermented green Oolongs than my darker Oolongs, but this really grabbed me. Looks like I might be turning to the dark side…!
Aroma: Dominant ‘forest floor’ woodiness and sap with a slightly smokyness. Vegetal. Burnt sugar gives it the slightest bitter edge. Subtle yet complex. Second steeping is lighter yet slightly less delicate.
Flavour: Candied ginger, marmalade and subtle toasty woodiness give way to complex floral notes. Lingering pine needle on the finish. Hints of burnt toffee. The flavour spectrum is somehow deep, delicate and floral all at the same time. I like it.
Overall: This is about the nicest dark Oolong I’ve tasted. Another win from Tea & Sympathy. The price is a bit higher than most of the teas I get from them, but it is still definitely within the ‘affordable’ range and I’ll certainly be adding it to my next order.
If I had to choose just one favorite tea variety to accompany me on my desert island, ‘Green’ Oolongs would have to be my choice. They are the tea I always return to and therefore finding a good value ‘staple’ for the pantry is a life’s work. When it comes to value for money, this is the best I’ve found in some time.
Nose: Sugarcane and cut grass. Medium intensity nose. Building frangipani notes. Second steeping is still fragrant with big floral notes, however lacks some of the complexity of the first steeping. Third is slightly more muted again, but still pleasant.
Palate: Quite fresh, but with a sweet, slightly buttery aftertaste. Subtle. Some floral notes with light peach and sugarcane. Frangipani notes build as tea cools. Taste is more developed and complex on second steeping. Floral notes and nutty, buttery goodness are there in abundance. Faintest hint of grass. Lasting sweetness.
Overall: Cheap and delicious! This tea has the flavour and complexity of teas four times the price. My new go-to daily tea!
I’ve been keen to try a few Northern Thailand teas lately, having spent a bit of the time in the region but never quite finding a green tea that knocked my socks off. This tea will KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF, for better or worse – it has flavor by the overcrowded-thai-busloads. This pervasive character will likely make as many enemies as it does friends, but It is a tea you simply have to try for yourself. Peerless and delicious. When I first tried it I thought it was delicious but perhaps not a tea i’d be reaching for every day, but I’ve actually been surprised by how often I crave a cup. And when you crave a cup of Cha Khao Hoom, not much else will hit the spot.
Aroma: Ok I’m going to say it: the aroma of this tea is a dead-ringer for Thai weed (or cough so I’m told) – like a smelly, funky tropical forest floor – dank, woody and earthy. Ok back to planet earth… Skunk aside, the unmissable character of this tea is that of fresh steamed rice. Wildly comforting and delicious. Rich, toasty, slightly smoky wood aromas are there – reminiscent of a Dan Cong or other roasted Oolong. Popped corn and straw are in there too. The aroma holds fast for 3, 4… 5 steepings. This tea has legs.
Palate: All the warm comfort and full-bodied flavor of a big bowl of steamed rice. Mellow, subtly fragrant, slightly toasty and entirely wholesome. That thai bud ‘dank’ toastiness is in there too (ok enough of that now). Popped corn, subtle pine needle notes and a very slight fresh grassiness round out the palate. Very low tannin and a lingering sweetness. Like the nose, the palate stays punchy for a good five or so steepings, making this tea ridiculously good value.
Overall: A very comforting drop that cant help but sweep me off to Thailand. This tea is really something different. Not the only tea I’d want to own but definitely one I want in my cupboard at all times.
Oh my. I loved this tea. It is very similar to a Pi Lo Chun (in my lowly opinion), which is perhaps why I was as excited when I first smelt this brew as I was when I stumbled across T2’s Pi Lo Chun. I’m surprised by how similar the two teas are given Pi Lo Chun is typically from Fujian province and this is from distant Yunnan province (both in China). I’d love to know more about the similarities/differences of the two teas.
Aroma: Hops and passionfruit with a little waft of seaweed/ iodine. Slightly vegetal. Fresh, balanced and enticing. Unfortunately the aroma fades slightly as the tea cools. A more potent (less water, longer steeping) second steep produced a bolder nose with almost a sharp woodiness and hints of sap and pine needles – I guess that is the ‘sting in the tail’ they mention in the blurb!
Palate: Delightful. Peaches and apricots, with subtle savory vegetal notes. Fresh and ever so slightly grassy, but not in that typical astringent ‘cheap green tea’ way. Lots of flavor but with great balance. Stronger second steeping brings out a slight bitter edge (I probably over did it a little!) but still has great fruit bouquet shining through.
Overall: Move over Pi Lo Chun (T2) – this is my new ‘tea of the moment’. Both pack the same great flavor profile but this T&S Yunnan green is almost half the price! And as much as I love T2 I’ll support a local tea shop over a big company any day of the week. I love this tea for its aroma and flavor, but the added bonus is its unbelievable value (ok, I’ll settle done and stop sounding like an advertisement now!). I would probably brew it for a bit longer than the listed time next time to get even more of a flavor punch. I got this as a sample with a big order from T&S but I will definitely be adding it to the list on my next shop! Yummm.
I cant get enough of ‘green’ Oolongs. Ever since my first sip at a tea house in Shanghai (no, not Taiwan sorry) they have been my favourite tea, and the Jin Xuan (milk oolong) is my pick of the bunch.
Milk Oolongs are a funny thing. Perhaps by dint of their alluring name, Chinese and Taiwanese producers have taken to spraying them with artificial ‘milky’ flavour to mimic and enhance the milky caramel characteristics which they were first renowned for, however the result is now an influx of over flavoured (albeit sometimes delicious) teas that go under the name of Milk Oolong, yet are quite unlike the natural originals. Ironically, I think it was probably the artificial milk oolongs in China that got me hooked on this variety, so imagine my horror in finding out they were spraying-on the delicious ‘dulce de leche’ flavour I found so alluring! Since then, and given my aversion to (most) flavoured teas, I have been on a hunt for the real thing. A natural Milk Oolong is hard to find, but this offering from one of my favourite distributors – Tea & Sympathy – is just such a tea.
So, onto my tasting notes:
Aroma: Surprisingly fresh and vegetal, with notes of zuchinni and subtle dried flowers. This tea is buttery like a milk oolong but much less so than many I’ve tried (somewhat disappointingly, as it is this characteristic that when well balanced is arguably what draws one to a Milk Oolong).
Palate: Asparagus, zucchini, sweet corn and vegetal notes rising up above a typical buttery milk oolong base. Definitely a distinctive and complex taste. Like many oolongs, this tea holds up well on the second and third steepings.
Overall: This tea has real character, but for some reason I’m just not sold on it. Don’t get me wrong, the tea is delicious, but for the price I guess I was expecting something truly amazing. This all natural Jin Xuan is still about the best I have found from an Australian supplier, but I can’t say it is the best I have ever tasted, and as this price there are other green oolongs I enjoy almost as much. I’ll savour every cup of the packet, but doubt I’ll be back for more. The hunt continues…
Aroma: Light and well balanced, if somewhat underwhelming. The creaminess and butter of a Taiwaneese Oolong, combined with the woody, peaty notes of a Nth Thailand tea. Slightly vegetal with grassy notes.
Palate: As with the nose, this tea finds an interesting middle ground between a rich, buttery unfermented/green oolong and a more woody, vegetal and fresh Thai green tea. Nuttiness and a lingering sweetness. The result is easy drinking and pleasant. Very well balanced without the usual ‘forest floor’ palate of many Thai teas. Despite a fresh, grassy undertone the tea has almost no astringency.
Colour: Golden yellow.
Overall: Quintessentially Northern Thai, but with a more restrained nose and palate than any other tea from the region I’ve tried. Both refreshing and comforting. Yet another ‘green’ oolong I’d be happy to drink every day, but loses points for being more expensive than others.