yssah said

oolong lovers wanted

has anybody tried any of these from the Chicago Tea Garden (when it was still operational)?


19 Replies
ashmanra said

I have! But I got them from a friend who actually went to the plantation in New Zealand, not frm CTG. They are very good!

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tperez said

Ooh, I’d love to try those too…
Not sure I can justify the price though

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I have never purchased from them but I would personally not buy from them for a couple reasons. First off the price. For $58 dollars per 100 grams I could buy a very high quality oolong from EOT or FST. These companies have very good reputations from everyone I’ve seen, and they provide a lot more information on their teas then zealong. The second issue I have is they simply say their teas are pure, aromatic, dark, or black. That really doesn’t mean anything. Sure you know the roasting level but what TYPE of oolong is it. You can have different roasting levels of many different oolongs. It could be shui xian, tieguanyin, rou gui, dancong, shin jin gui, tieluohan, dahongpao, or qi lan and that’s only naming a few.

Price wise, you have to remember that we’re a first world country – so minimum wage is a lot higher here than where a lot of other oolongs are grown, as well as land and overheads most likely costing more. I’m not trying to change your mind as to where to spend your money, I just find that a lot of people don’t think of that when they see the price. :)

I’m relatively sure Zealong does mention what type of Oolong they sell somewhere, but it’s slipped my memory. I’m sure all it would take is a quick email though :)

I understand why a price may be higher, but I will choose the higher quality tea over the lower quality tea that costs more because of higher overhead every time. An as far as I’ve seen the website just lists the roasting levels. It may be just me, but I am much more willing to buy something when the producer says exactly what it is.

@Insence&Tea: as much as I understand your point about pricing, what you’re saying is a bit awkward regarding tea types: the names shui xian, tieguanyin, rou gui or even da hong pao don’t say anything about their flavour profile, you just know what they taste like because you’ve tried them before or you’ve done your research. From what you’re saying, it sounds like their product names give you a pretty good hint at a flavour profile + a brief introduction is available on

@thedarjeelingunlimited: I must disagree. All that is provided on the website is roasting levels. Names, such as shui xian and da hong pao, provide a good insight into flavor profiles. Shui Xian for example is nearly always the first 3 to four leaves from branches in fujian. The leaves are wilted and bruised as usual then go through a slightly longer kill green process over bamboo charcoal. They are usually fermented at around 50%. There is generally a burnt, smokey, honey flavor attributed to this type of tea and it can have all of the roasting levels listed on the website. You can compare this to tieguanyin. Rather than a wuyi this is generally yancha. There is usually no smokiness until you get to higher roasting levels, none of the minerally flavor, none of the fruitiness, but there is floral grassy notes. This can also be roasted at all of the mentioned levels. You may have 10 shuixians that don’t taste the same, but they share a flavor profile totally different from other oolongs (say dahongpaos or TGYs)

@Insence&Tea: I agree with you 100% here. But I think you misinterpreted my point. What you are referring to are well-known teas, with documented varietals, processing methods, and organoleptic profiles. A beginner tea taster will know what to expect if offered a cup of Da Hong Pao (my favorite by the way!). Things get tricky when confronted with a new tea. I was tasting a tea from an obscure Nepalese plantation yesterday. The plantation name doesn’t help much, but apart from it, it read Autumn Flush 2012, HR Floral. Short of having more info, one would expect a flowery Darjeeling-style tea due to geographical proximity. It was nothing like it, but much more, very complex and smooth, with “floral” as a keyword. A unique terroir. I actually enjoyed both the novelty and the unbiased tasting. I would have missed a great cup if I had just stopped at the info provided.

The Zealong leaves, by looking at the photos, look like 20-30% oxidised high mountain oolong (and one would expect a similar flavour profile, although one would have to take into account the NZ soil/climate and the plant varietal /?/ that they use). Their Black looks like a Si Da Ming Cong or a dark Shui Xian, with smaller leaves. They probably should have full tasting notes on their website, but sometimes “simple is best”. In the meantime, Steepster has all their teas rated, and for more full specs and technical stuff, they should be able to provide you with an answer by email (I would indeed worry if they can’t…).

On another matter, I sure wish they had a sampler set with a small amount of each tea…

yssah said

EOT and FST?

Essence of tea and five star tea

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I’ve been planning to buy a pack (most likely Aromatic) when my cupboards a bit lower to try to support our tiny economy a weensy amount. Probably in a month or so. I’ve also been planning to start swapping in 2-3 months, so would be happy to share with those interested at that time. :)

I also found it interesting the other day while browsing the Mariage Frères site to see it being sold there under the name “Maori Blue”, or at least something similar (since they aren’t calling it an oolong) from Zealong.

yssah said

how did you know that it is the same? i would be interested in swapping with you in 2 months Miss Starfish :)

Because there is only one tea plantation in the Waikato, if not the whole of NZ.

Backed up by this: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=10850473
“Exclusive Parisian teahouse Mariage Freres, sells re-branded Zealong tea”

yssah said

oooh. you’re so in the know!

That’s kind, but we’re just a small country (so it’s hard not to know, if you live here and have an interest in tea granted) and the credit really goes to Google. :)

yssah said

oh, i didnt realize that you are from NZ, Miss Starfish ^^’ it would be nice to swap with you for some of your country’s special oolong :)

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I tried the Pure a few years ago. It was very good.


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James R said

I still have the Zealong Dark, I bought it out from Chicagoteagarden. So good!

yssah said

are you willing to part with a teaspoon of it for a fair swap? :)

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