19 Tasting Notes

82
drank Red Water Oolong by T Shop
19 tasting notes

Exciting news everybody…I am now blogging directly from Taiwan! I moved to Taipei about two months ago, so sorry about the slow pace of my reviews lately. Anyways, on to the tea…

Today’s tea is the Red Water Oolong from T Shop in New York City.

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I should start by saying that T Shop is probably my favorite tea shop in all of New York City. I visited this awesome shop for the first time last June and I immediately fell in love. It is the only specialty tea shop that I have found so far in New York that is able to serve incredibly high quality tea without being overly pretentious about it. When I visited T Shop, I had a Charcoal Roasted Cui Feng and a Dong Ding that were both incredible, the very pinnacle of each of these styles of tea. I hate to sound overly dramatic, but both of these teas were probably up there in the Top 10 best teas I have had in my life.

For some reason that I don’t understand, I didn’t buy either of those teas to take home with me. Perhaps I was scared off because they were quite expensive, but I definitely regret not buying at least an ounce or two try out at home. After speaking with Theresa, the super friendly and knowledgeable owner, I decided on the Red Water Oolong to take home. Theresa and I spent a good bit of time discussing how awesome and perfect Taiwan is, so when she described this tea as a very traditional Taiwanese style tea, I couldn’t say no.

In case you are not familiar, Red Water or 红水 (Hóng Shuǐ) is a very old school style of Taiwanese oolong in which the leaves undergo a much longer oxidation process than most modern Taiwanese oolongs. From what I understand, this tea is usually made in the Lugu region, where Dong Ding is made. I’m not sure if T Shop sources their Red Water oolong from there, but I do know that this tea came from Taiwan. I wish I asked more questions while I had Theresa’s attention. Regardless, I trust her tea sourcing skills and I’m sure this tea is a great example of Hóng Shuǐ oolong.

Dry Leaf

As one would expect from a highly oxidized tea, these leaves are quite dark. There are no broken leaves or dust, even in the bottom of the bag. These leaves definitely have a strong oxidized aroma, but there is also a slight fruity aroma that smells like raisins or prunes perhaps, somewhat similar to the aroma of a Sun Moon Lake style Taiwanese black tea.

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Once I put the leaves into my warmed teapot, the more complex smells came through. A honey sweetness and slight floral quality drifted out of the teapot. The aromas were strong enough that my friend on the other side of the room asked what we were drinking.

In case you like to keep track of these sorts of things, I used 6.5 grams of tea for this review.

Teaware

I broke out my new side-handled teapot for this review. Isn’t she beautiful?

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I bought this pot from a tea ceramicist in Yingge, Taiwan, which is probably the most famous ceramics town in all of Taiwan. As a result, the town is flooded with a ton of crappy ceramics made for tourists, so you have to dig a bit to find the good stuff. Luckily I was with some good tea friends who pointed me in the right direction.

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Here’s the backside, in case you are curious. Or is it called the teapot butt? Not sure.

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This teapot was made by a Taiwanese ceramicist who studied in Japan and has a very Japanese influenced style. So I suppose this teapot is sort of a Taiwanese-Japanese fusion design?

The rest of my setup is quite minimalist, but I couldn’t bring over all of my tea equipment with me in my suitcase sadly.

Brewing

I started off the brewing with a quick five second rinse.

For the first steep, I let the tea infuse for about 35 seconds or so before decanting the tea into small cups for the three tea drinkers.

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The first steep is a bit lighter than I anticipated, so I suppose the tea is still opening up at this point. The most noticeable flavor right off the bat is definitely the heavily oxidized flavor. This tea seems to ride the delicate line between a heavily oxidized oolong and a less oxidized black tea.

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This tea really starts to shine during the second and third steeps. As you can see, the tea is significantly darker at this point, almost the color of a Keemun or Sun Moon Lake black tea. The dried fruit notes have fully developed at this point, releasing layers of raisin and plum flavors. While I find many Hóng Shuǐ oolongs to be thin and flat in the mouth, this tea has an incredible deep and rich mouthfeel. The finish is very dark and complex, with a pleasant sweet aftertaste and clean feeling that lingers in the mouth for several minutes.

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This tea is not a simple dark oolong. There are so many flavors and nuances that this tea deserves to be drunk in a quiet and focused setting in order to to appreciate the subtle flavor differences between steeps.

The later steeps (7-9) are where the sweetness of this tea really develops. Each of these later steeps finished off with a deep honey sweetness. These later steeps even have a slight floral finish, which was unexpected. I have never tasted a Hóng Shuǐ oolong that developed into more floral notes at the finish.

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I was amazed by how much life this tea has. I ended up taking the tea leaves in my to-go “grandpa style” tea tumbler after the tenth steep, since this tea definitely still has a lot to give, even though I ran out of time!

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Unlike many darker oolongs, this Hóng Shuǐ is incredibly forgiving. If you leave it in the pot for a few seconds too long, it won’t turn bitter on you. This quality only appears in the highest quality of heavily oxidized oolong, so this tea has definitely been crafted by a true tea master. As a result, this tea is quite nice to drink as a “grandpa style” tea.

Finished Leaf

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Although these tea leaves were not quite done after this review, I made sure to snap a quick photo. I was surprised to see how long these tea leaves are. The leaves were quite curly and wrinkly, almost leathery. This texture is likely a result of the heavy oxidation and rolling process that the Hóng Shuǐ style requires.

Conclusion

Although this style of tea is not usually something that appeals to me, it really hit the spot today. I think that after only two months in Taiwan, I’ve gotten a bit burnt out by the overabundance of the more green, high mountain style oolongs. So this Hóng Shuǐ was a very nice change of pace.

Perhaps most importantly, this tea simply feels nice. My body and mind feel much better after drinking this tea.

This tea also works quite well as a “grandpa style” tea (leaves in a mug, with no filtering) as long as you don’t use too many leaves. I suggest using only eight or nine leaf balls (that sounds weird) for a typical coffee mug.

This tea sells for $18 for 2 ounces, or $40 for 5 ounces, so it is definitely on the more expensive side. T Shop is more expensive than many other tea stores online, but their teas and teawares are some of the highest quality items I have seen. I would probably save these teas for more special occasions due to the higher price, but I know that I will enjoy them immensely.

I don’t know if I will buy this tea again, since I’m usually more into roasted oolongs. But for those of you out there that really like the more heavily oxidized teas, I definitely think you should give this tea a shot. Regardless, I will likely place another order with T Shop in the future, and I will definitely visit the shop as often as possible when I am in New York City.

http://www.tshopny.com/shop/red-water

Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. ~ Thich Nat Hahn

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 5 OZ / 147 ML
mrmopar

In the middle of tea land!

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94
drank Lishan, Winter by Mountain Tea
19 tasting notes

I’ve seen Mountain Tea’s LiShan name-dropped a few times on Steepster and r/tea due to its abnormally cheap price. With 5 ounces going for only $25, could it actually be any good? Well, judging by the reviews on Steepster and r/tea, people seem to be quite impressed.

Mountain Tea recently started selling a Spring LiShan that created a bit of a buzz on r/tea, which reminded me that I had a box of the Winter LiShan still sitting on my tea shelf. I figured it was about time that I got around to writing about it.

LiShan is probably my favorite type of oolong tea, so I couldn’t wait to try Mountain Tea’s version. LiShan is a mountain in central Taiwan. Its name translates to “Pear Mountain,” which conjures up lovely images of pear orchards and tea fields. And from what I read online, that image is quite accurate. LiShan is home to many pear and apple orchards, which require the cool mountain temperatures in order to thrive.

This is the last Mountain Tea I have to review, so there won’t be any more in the future….sorry if I’ve been reviewing too many of their products lately! For the next few weeks, I’ll be focusing on White2Tea’s newer offerings.

I drank this tea while constructing a tea table, so pardon any messiness or sawdust.

Dry Leaf

The dry leaf looks like a standard rolled oolong. Most of the leaves were a dark grey-green color, but there are also a few bright green leaves floating around. There are a few stems thrown into the mix.

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These leaves certainly smell like high quality LiShan. They give off a very grassy and floral aroma, but with a certain richness to it that is very hard to put into words. The closest thing I can think of is perhaps a roasted nut or coconut aroma.

Teaware

I got to break in my beautiful new teapot for this review. I just got this Ruyao Triad Teapot from White2Tea.

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I’ve had my eye on this teapot for several months since I’m such a huge sucker for ruyao teapots and it matches my ruyao teacup perfectly. After gushing about this teapot to all of my tea friends, I finally received it as a gift. There is a lesson to learn here. If you drop subtle hints about a teapot long enough, somebody will buy it for you (sarcasm).

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I used 9 grams of leaf for this 150 ml teapot.

Brewing

I started out brewing this tea at 190° F. The first steep is a light buttery yellow color with a touch of green.

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The upfront taste is light and extremely floral, somewhat similar to a Jin Xuan milk oolong. However, the herbal notes take over quite quickly and begin to dominate. The mouthfeel is very thick and pleasant, which is a feature that I really enjoy in high mountain oolongs.

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The aftertaste is very sweet and floral, and left my mouth feeling clean and refreshed.

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The second steep is a bit lighter in color. The mouthfeel is still very thick, but the flavor profile changes. The herbal flavor fades away and is replaced by a sweet and fruity flavor, perhaps pineapple as other reviewers have mentioned.

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I think I left the third steep to sit a bit too long, so it came out noticeably darker. This tea is still very pleasant when oversteeped.

I continued to drink this tea for about 7 or 8 infusions, so it can certainly last through a longer tea tasting session. After finishing this session, I felt extremely relaxed and calmed, perhaps even more so than I usually do after sitting down to drink tea. That’s a good sign I suppose!

Finished Leaf

The finished leaves were very large and full. It looks like there are more stems than I noticed before, so perhaps they were curled into the balls.

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Conclusion

This LiShan may not be quite as good as the super duper top-notch stuff you can find in high-end Taiwanese tea stores, but it is still a wonderful tea. I would definitely recommend grabbing a bag of this from Mountain Tea. As far as the quality to price ratio goes, you can’t do much better than this LiShan.

I am elated to have found this tea, because I can now drink quality LiShan on a regular basis without breaking the bank. This tea is cheap enough that I can drink it regularly without feeling guilty about the ridiculous amount of money I spend on tea every year. With 5 ounces of this tea only going for $25, I wouldn’t pass it up. I will definitely be buying this tea again, and I can’t wait to try the Spring LiShan to see how it compares.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be focusing on White2Tea’s newer offerings. It’s been a while since I’ve tried any new and interesting puerh teas, so I am looking forward to it!

http://mountaintea.com/collections/green-oolong/products/lishan-winter-1

Some people will tell you there is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea.~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 45 sec 9 g 150 OZ / 4436 ML

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88

https://hotleafjuicetea.wordpress.com/2015/06/21/medium-roast-dong-ding-oolong-special-reserve-from-mountain-tea/

I bought this Dong Ding since it was relatively well-regarded online, and it was reasonably priced enough that I could share it with the small Tea Club that I run. Plus, I’ve had very positive experiences with Mountain Tea so far. I didn’t have super high expectations for this tea, since I figured that a decent Dong Ding would cost at least double this. But I was pleasantly surprised!

This particular tea is a bit unique in the sense that some people may not consider it a true Dong Ding due to its origin. Technically speaking, Dong Ding or Tung Ting teas should come from the area around Dong Ding Mountain in Lugu, which is in Nantou County, Taiwan. TeaVivre published this lovely map that shows the location of Lugu.

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However, this offering from Mountain Tea was grown outside of the traditional Dong Ding region. According to Mountain Tea’s website, “Dong Ding is both a famous mountain and a style of tea preparation; the golden ratio of fermentation to roast to which it owes its fame is elusive and difficult to master with consistency.” I have never heard this before, but I suppose I’ll allow it. In general, I’m more concerned with the taste of the tea than with tradition.

This tea is grown at an elevation of 1400 meters above sea level, which is actually a little bit higher than many of the mountains in the usual Dong Ding region. This tea was made using QingXin leaves.

Dry Leaf

These leaves are very tightly rolled into lovely grey-green balls. The leaf structure is very consistent. There area a few stems in the mix, which seems to be the case with most Dong Ding teas that I encounter.

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The dry leaf smells very similar to most Dong Ding oolongs…pleasantly roasty, robust yet not overpowering. To me, this tea has aromas of yeast or bread, toasted grain, wood, and a slight sweet and caramelized fruit or sugar scent. There is still a touch of a green, unroasted tea smell.

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Teaware

I used a 110 mL gaiwan and 6.5 grams of leaf for this review. All of the infusions were completed with 93˚C/200˚F water.

Brewing

The first steep came out a transparent golden yellow color. The predominant flavor of this tea is the strong roasted taste. I wouldn’t say that this Dong Ding tastes over-roasted, but it is definitely a noticeable part of the flavor.

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Once the roasted taste passes over the palate, a bright citrus taste comes through. I would describe it as a sour lemon note. This tea actually tastes somewhat similar to a GABA treated oolong, since GABA treated teas tend to have a slight sour taste. This sour character is not particularly pleasant or unpleasant, it’s just sort of…there. There is also a noticeable spicy flavor in this tea, perhaps cinnamon or clove.

The mouthfeel is quite thick and viscous, while the sour character leaves behind a light dryness.

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The second infusion is a bit darker, sort of a dark golden yellow that almost fades into orange. In this steep, the bright citrus flavor dies down quite a bit. A vegetal taste and aroma develops and replaces the citrus note. The spice flavors are much lighter as well.

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By the third steep, this tea fades into a simple lightly roasted oolong. The brew is very refreshing and pleasant. This tea has plenty of life to it, and I can tell that it will last through several infusions. The citrus and spice notes have died down and are now just a light accent, letting the vegetal roasted oolong flavors shine through.

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The fourth infusion has a similar flavor, but the mouthfeel changes noticeably. The fourth infusion is where this tea really starts to “thin out” and go down easily.

I continued drinking this tea for a few more infusions, but nothing noticeable changed after the fourth steep.

Finished Leaf

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The finished leaves were quite beautiful. About half of them turn a dark grey-green color, while the remaining leaves turn a dark purple. These leaves are very large and full, with no dust or broken leaves.

Conclusion

This tea is perhaps not quite as deep or complex as a really top notch Dong Ding oolong, but it is still very good and definitely a great value. I will probably buy this tea again in the future, if that’s any indication of quality. For newcomers to the Taiwanese oolong world, this tea can offer a nice introduction to Dong Ding style oolong tea.

This oolong is incredibly cheap, at only $18 for 5 ounces. If you prefer to buy tea in smaller quantities, you can also buy 2 ounces for $9. This tea is cheap enough that I have been using it as my go-to office tea for drinking “grandpa style.” I don’t usually use super high end teas for drinking in the office, since I would rather save the best teas for when I can really relax and enjoy them in a long gongfu session. But this tea is also good enough that I like to drink it gongfu style as well. It’s pretty tough to find teas that are good enough to drink gongfu style and cheap enough to drink “grandpa style,” so this tea is a winner in my book!

I think that Mountain Tea is a pretty great company. Their prices are a lot better than most competitors, and they still offer very high quality teas. The Mountain Tea website is also very well designed and easy to navigate.

“If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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94

2003 Aged Green Heart Oolong from Mountain Tea and What-Cha

The 2003 Aged Green Heart Oolong came to my attention after some of my reddit buddies on r/tea messaged me about six months ago and raved about how delicious and nuanced this tea is. I kept this information in the back of my mind, where it lay dormant for several months. Then I saw the results of the 2014 North American Tea Championship and saw that this tea won 2nd Place in the Aged/Baked Oolong category. I’m not entirely sure how reliable these results are, but I figured that this tea was probably worth a shot regardless. I’m a huge fan of aged oolongs, especially ones with bolder flavors and a nice mouthfeel.

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This oolong is from Wushe in Nantou, Taiwan. It has been stored in Taiwan since 2003 and has been roasted every two or three years to remove any accumulated moisture. The elevation of the Wushe tea garden is 1500 meters, or about 5000 feet. I suppose that this tea would qualify as a “high mountain” oolong, although it was not advertised as such. The site described this as 30% oxidized, so this tea belongs on the greener end of the oolong spectrum.

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The What-Cha website also mentions that this tea comes from the Qing Xin varietal of the Camellia sinensis tea plant. Qing Xin is one of the most common varietals of Taiwanese tea. Although the varietal is nothing too out of the ordinary, I appreciate that the website gives out this information.

Dry Leaf

The leaves looked typical of a rolled style Taiwanese oolong. The color was very interesting, a sort of dark green-brown thanks to the aging and roasting process. The dry leaves are very full and unbroken, which is a good sign. The stems are still on many of the leaf segments, which is a bit unusual.

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These leaves simply smell incredible. This is definitely one of the best smelling teas I have come across in a very long time. The primary aroma is of roasted nuts and freshly baked bread, very “roasty” and almost yeasty. The background aroma is very herb-like and malty. The Mountain Tea website also picked up on the herbal aroma, describing it as an “enticing herbal fragrance, including thyme and dried basil, finishing with a hint of something malty.” There is a certain brightness to the aroma that I can’t quite describe, but it certainly made me want to continue smelling this tea for a very long time.

I placed the leaves into a warmed gaiwan and was amazed by the amplified smell. All of the previous aromas were still there, but a very pleasant fruity, grape-like smell developed. This tea has every smell that you could possibly want in an aged oolong…simply incredible!

Teaware

I used 6 grams of leaf for my gaiwan that is just a bit over 100 mL. It looks a lot larger than it is because the walls are very thick. I put 3.5 grams of leaf into my 70 mL Yixing pot.

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I decided to brew this tea two ways. I really wanted to break out my adorable Yixing pot that I use for greener aged oolongs. I bought this guy from a tea master in Taiwan. I don’t get around to using it much, but it brings back great memories every time I see it on my tea shelf. I also used a gaiwan in order to give a fair taste test, since Yixing pots can affect the flavor of certain teas.

Brewed Tea

I started out brewing this tea with a few shorter 15 second or so steeps, and then moved up to a few minutes per steep by the end of the session. I played around with the water temperature a bit. The Mountain Tea Site said to use 95 °C/203° F water, while the What-Cha site suggested 85° C/185° F. I leaned towards the side of Mountain Tea on this one, since this tea is from their company. I didn’t find a huge difference either way, although I slightly preferred the hotter water. I used 93° C/200° F water for this taste test, so your own experience with this tea may be slightly different if you use a different water temperature.

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I gave the tea a quick rinse and then started with the brewing. The first steep came out a beautiful golden color with a slight orange-red tint. After this first steep, I looked at the leaves in the gaiwan and noticed that they were barely even open yet. Perhaps aging tea makes the leaves more resistant to opening?

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The first and second steeps were very fruity and malty. The fruity character is more like a dried fruit taste. I would describe the taste most accurately as nutty and raisin-like, with a background taste of charcoal. The little hint of smoke or charcoal on the back of the palate really adds a lot to the character of this tea.

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The mouthfeel of this tea is very smooth and thick, almost buttery. I could feel the sides of my mouth being coated with the strong flavors of this tea.

This tea really excels in the aftertaste category. The aftertaste is extremely long lasting, and very smooth and malty. There is also a very noticeable lingering sweetness present. I could still taste this tea in my mouth 30 minutes after finishing a cup.

The third and fourth steeps were much sweeter tasting, which was a nice surprise. The “juicy” thirst-quenching attributes of this tea came out in these steeps as well. The flavor is much brighter and an interesting sharp and tangy note developed. I would describe this as lemon or citrus fruit perhaps. The herbal notes in this tea were quite noticeable in these steeps as well. The thyme and basil sort of flavors really play quite nicely with the dried fruit taste.

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The later steeps were very different. The dried fruit notes almost disappeared, and the charcoal and smoke flavors became much more apparent. At this stage, the tea tastes almost like the later steeps of a heavily baked oolong such as a Muzha Tieguanyin. I finished this session after about nine or ten steeps, so this tea can certainly handle quite a few infusions.

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After this tea session, I went for a run in the beautiful Maine spring (hooray, over 60° F for once). During my run, I kept on noticing the smoky raisin taste still in my mouth. This aftertaste just keeps on going and going…

Finished Leaf

The finished leaves were a bit darker than I expected. They were very curly and twisted still, even after all nine or ten steeps. They never really opened up fully into large flat leaves like oolongs normally do, but I suppose that is probably because the tea has been aged for quite a while. The stems on these leaves are very long and coiled as well.

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Conclusion

This is one of the very best aged oolongs I have had, especially for the price. This tea is not even very expensive. On Mountain Tea, you can buy 2 ounces for $16, which is a little pricy. But if you are willing to buy in bulk (and you will want to), it’s not too bad. Mountain Tea also sells 5 ounces for $35 and 10.5 ounces for $60.

On What-Cha, 50 grams/1.76 ounces in $10.50, 100 grams/3.5 ounces is $19.53, and 250 grams/8.8 ounces is $45.68.

I give a lot of favorable reviews on this blog, but I don’t often repurchase the same teas again and again. However, I just placed an order for 250 grams/8.8 ounces of this tea, so obviously I enjoyed it! In order for me to buy that much of any tea, I have to really be in love with it. I can’t stop thinking about how I just bought this tea at barely over $5 per ounce. I feel like I’m stealing. If I could pay more money to Mountain Tea/What-Cha for this tea, I would…and that’s coming from me, one of the cheapest people you will ever come across.

Go out and buy this tea now, before the rest of the online tea community finds out and buys it all! It also might be fun to buy some of this tea and play around with aging it for longer.

~”There is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

http://what-cha.com/oolong-tea/taiwan-2003-aged-green-heart-oolong-tea/

http://mountaintea.com/collections/competition-grade/products/aged-green-heart-oolong-2003

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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81

I’ve had this ripe puerh cake sitting around for a while, so I figured I should get around to reviewing it before I finish it off. I purchased this puerh cake at Tea Trekker in Northampton, Massachusetts during my marathon seven hour drive from Syracuse, New York to Portland, Maine. I had just ordered three or four new cakes online, but I couldn’t pass up a well-reviewed, cheap shou. I was also kind of wrapped up in the novel experience of being able to buy puerh tea in a physical tea shop instead of just on the internet. I later found the same cake for a lot cheaper on Yunnan Sourcing, so perhaps the whole buying tea in a store thing is a bit overrated.

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This cake is from Yong Pin Hao Yi Wu Tea Factory, which I had never heard of before purchasing this cake. As you could probably guess, the factory is located in Yi Wu, Mengla County, Xishuangbanna Prefecture, Yunnan Province, China (phew!).

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Xishuangbanna is all the way in the south of Yunnan Province, right up against the border with Laos and Myanmar/Burma. Yi Wu is in the northeastern part of Xishuangbanna.

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I couldn’t find much interesting information about Yong Pin Hao online, but I did discover that Yong Pin Hao has been producing puerh tea since the early 2000’s, a relative newcomer to the Yunnan puerh scene. The cake is comprised of 2008 leaves, and was pressed in 2009.

Dry Leaf

I used about nine grams of leaves for this review. This puerh cake was lightly compressed and very easy to break into pieces. Like most shou puerhs, the leaves are predominately dark brown or black. Some of the leaves have some really neat golden hairs.

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The smell is a bit odd here. It’s not that this puerh smells bad, it’s just completely devoid of any aroma whatsoever. At least there is no yucky fishy/funky/bad puerh smell.

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The back of the cake seemed to have a lot more of the gold colored leaves.

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Teaware

I broke out my shou puerh Yixing pot from Yingge, Taiwan for this session. I decided to be a bit minimalist and go without the tea table for this review. I was locked out of my dorm room, so I was left with nothing but my lovely tea towel from Yunnan Sourcing. Check out the Ancient Tea Horse Road design!

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Brewed Tea

I started off with a ten second rinse to open up the leaves, and then moved to quick ten second steeps.

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The first steep was a nice light brown with a red tint. The most noticeable aspect of this tea is the very light fermentation. This does not taste like most generic “budget” puerhs since it is much lighter in color and flavor. The camphor notes are also very strong and in your face, which I really enjoyed. Oddly enough, I’m not entirely sure what camphor is or why it is a common flavor note in puerh teas, but I have tasted enough puerhs that I can recognize it. The camphor flavor is really hard to describe, just like the muscatel note in Darjeeling teas.

The second steep tasted similar, but was a bit darker since the leaves opened up a bit more.

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If you can imagine the typical shou puerh taste, but just lightened up a bit, then you have the general idea of how the tea tastes. This tea has a really nice thirst-quenching, “juicy” quality to it. Perhaps this is a result of the lighter fermentation. The mouthfeel is very smooth and thick, almost coffee-like, even with shorter steeping times.

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This puerh is definitely more nuanced and subtle that most budget level shou puerhs out there.

Finished Leaf

The finished leaves were pretty generic, nothing too interesting. The leaves were quite varied, with some full sized leaves and some leaves that were tiny and broken up. Judging by the leaf appearance, this is not a super high quality puerh, but it certainly gets the job done when I am craving a ripe puerh.

Conclusion

This tea might not wow you with its complexity, but it is a solid “daily drinker” shou puerh. It is definitely a step above most of the $20-$30 shous I have tried. One reviewer on Yunnan Sourcing describes this tea as “the standard of affordable quality shu.” I would definitely agree with that statement. I’m not sure if I would buy this tea again, but I’m certainly happy that I purchased it.

I found the notable light fermentation of this tea to be quite pleasant and unique, and it certainly fulfills the shou puerh craving that I often get late at night. For some reason, ripe puerhs don’t seem to affect my sleep as much as other teas, even though they do contain a sizable amount of caffeine.

After looking through my reviews so far, I have also noticed that I seem to be much more picky with my sheng puerh tastes. Budget sheng puerhs can often be quite terrible, but cheaper shou puerhs seem to be more consistent across the board. Perhaps by shou puerh palate is not as refined. Luckily I have plenty more puerh cakes to work with!

~“I am in no way interested in immortality, but only in the taste of tea.” ― Lu T’ung (Chinese tea poet)

http://yunnansourcing.com/en/yongpinhaoyiwuteafactory/1747-2009-yong-pin-hao-menghai-qi-zi-bing-901-ripe-pu-erh-tea-cake.html

http://www.teatrekker.com/menghai-old-tea-tree-pu-erh-beeng-cha

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 9 g 5 OZ / 147 ML
Dr Jim

You seem to have the same review for 3 different teas. Typo?

hrwhite

Whoops, sorry one of them is wrong. The other are two different listings for the same tea. I bought the tea from Yunnam Sourcing and Tea Trekker at different points, so I figured it was fair to post it on both. The Tea Trekker listing just calls it like old tree menghai something or other, but it’s the same tea

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81

I’ve had this ripe puerh cake sitting around for a while, so I figured I should get around to reviewing it before I finish it off. I purchased this puerh cake at Tea Trekker in Northampton, Massachusetts during my marathon seven hour drive from Syracuse, New York to Portland, Maine. I had just ordered three or four new cakes online, but I couldn’t pass up a well-reviewed, cheap shou. I was also kind of wrapped up in the novel experience of being able to buy puerh tea in a physical tea shop instead of just on the internet. I later found the same cake for a lot cheaper on Yunnan Sourcing, so perhaps the whole buying tea in a store thing is a bit overrated.

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This cake is from Yong Pin Hao Yi Wu Tea Factory, which I had never heard of before purchasing this cake. As you could probably guess, the factory is located in Yi Wu, Mengla County, Xishuangbanna Prefecture, Yunnan Province, China (phew!).

xishuangbanna

Xishuangbanna is all the way in the south of Yunnan Province, right up against the border with Laos and Myanmar/Burma. Yi Wu is in the northeastern part of Xishuangbanna.

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I couldn’t find much interesting information about Yong Pin Hao online, but I did discover that Yong Pin Hao has been producing puerh tea since the early 2000’s, a relative newcomer to the Yunnan puerh scene. The cake is comprised of 2008 leaves, and was pressed in 2009.

Dry Leaf

I used about nine grams of leaves for this review. This puerh cake was lightly compressed and very easy to break into pieces. Like most shou puerhs, the leaves are predominately dark brown or black. Some of the leaves have some really neat golden hairs.

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The smell is a bit odd here. It’s not that this puerh smells bad, it’s just completely devoid of any aroma whatsoever. At least there is no yucky fishy/funky/bad puerh smell.

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The back of the cake seemed to have a lot more of the gold colored leaves.

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Teaware

I broke out my shou puerh Yixing pot from Yingge, Taiwan for this session. I decided to be a bit minimalist and go without the tea table for this review. I was locked out of my dorm room, so I was left with nothing but my lovely tea towel from Yunnan Sourcing. Check out the Ancient Tea Horse Road design!

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Brewed Tea

I started off with a ten second rinse to open up the leaves, and then moved to quick ten second steeps.

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The first steep was a nice light brown with a red tint. The most noticeable aspect of this tea is the very light fermentation. This does not taste like most generic “budget” puerhs since it is much lighter in color and flavor. The camphor notes are also very strong and in your face, which I really enjoyed. Oddly enough, I’m not entirely sure what camphor is or why it is a common flavor note in puerh teas, but I have tasted enough puerhs that I can recognize it. The camphor flavor is really hard to describe, just like the muscatel note in Darjeeling teas.

The second steep tasted similar, but was a bit darker since the leaves opened up a bit more.

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If you can imagine the typical shou puerh taste, but just lightened up a bit, then you have the general idea of how the tea tastes. This tea has a really nice thirst-quenching, “juicy” quality to it. Perhaps this is a result of the lighter fermentation. The mouthfeel is very smooth and thick, almost coffee-like, even with shorter steeping times.

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This puerh is definitely more nuanced and subtle that most budget level shou puerhs out there.

Finished Leaf

The finished leaves were pretty generic, nothing too interesting. The leaves were quite varied, with some full sized leaves and some leaves that were tiny and broken up. Judging by the leaf appearance, this is not a super high quality puerh, but it certainly gets the job done when I am craving a ripe puerh.

Conclusion

This tea might not wow you with its complexity, but it is a solid “daily drinker” shou puerh. It is definitely a step above most of the $20-$30 shous I have tried. One reviewer on Yunnan Sourcing describes this tea as “the standard of affordable quality shu.” I would definitely agree with that statement. I’m not sure if I would buy this tea again, but I’m certainly happy that I purchased it.

I found the notable light fermentation of this tea to be quite pleasant and unique, and it certainly fulfills the shou puerh craving that I often get late at night. For some reason, ripe puerhs don’t seem to affect my sleep as much as other teas, even though they do contain a sizable amount of caffeine.

After looking through my reviews so far, I have also noticed that I seem to be much more picky with my sheng puerh tastes. Budget sheng puerhs can often be quite terrible, but cheaper shou puerhs seem to be more consistent across the board. Perhaps by shou puerh palate is not as refined. Luckily I have plenty more puerh cakes to work with!

~“I am in no way interested in immortality, but only in the taste of tea.” ― Lu T’ung (Chinese tea poet)

http://yunnansourcing.com/en/yongpinhaoyiwuteafactory/1747-2009-yong-pin-hao-menghai-qi-zi-bing-901-ripe-pu-erh-tea-cake.html

http://www.teatrekker.com/menghai-old-tea-tree-pu-erh-beeng-cha

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 9 tsp 5 OZ / 147 ML

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89
drank Obsx Wuyi Yancha by White 2 Tea
19 tasting notes

https://hotleafjuicetea.wordpress.com/2015/04/04/white2tea-obsx-old-bush-shui-xian-wuyi-yancha-oolong/

I dug through my quickly growing selection of samples and picked out this neat OBSX oolong from White2Tea. I received this as a sample from the ever-knowledgeable TwoDog, of http://www.twodogteablog.com/ and http://www.white2tea.com/.

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TwoDog is quite the mysterious person, according to the other tea blogs I’ve read. He has appeared on a few blogs out there, but his face is covered in all of the photos I’ve seen. Suspicious! Perhaps he is secretly a famous actor or something. My bet is that TwoDog is actually Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp. Or perhaps this explains what actually happened to 2Pac. He gave up the life of being a rap musician in order to write about tea and help people on reddit. 2Pac, 2Dog…it all makes sense.

Anyways, on to the tea.

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I was quite puzzled by the name “OBSX,” until I looked on White2Tea’s website and discovered that it was an acronym for Old Bush Shui Xian. That was good news, since I’m a big fan of shui xian style oolongs. I drink a lot of shui xian oolong, but this is the first time I’ve ever tried the “fancy stuff.”
Shui xian meats “narcissus,” referring to the flower that is often used in Greek mythology. I’m not sure what the connection is between narcissus and Chinese culture, but perhaps a reader out there can inform us.

This shui xian, like almost all shui xian style oolongs, comes from the Wuyi Mountains in northern Fujian Province, China.

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Here is Fujian Province, in case you were wondering. I bet you weren’t expecting a Chinese geography lesson.

Dry Leaf

This was quite a generous sample. The bag was packed full of leaves. It was actually 14g, so it looks like TwoDog was a bit heavy handed on the samples. I appreciate that! I used just shy of 9g for this taste test. I kept the rest for some grandpa style brewing later in the week.

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Whoa, these leaves are huge! They were long and thin, and super light. The 8.9g of dry leaves filled my rather large gaiwan all the way to the top. These leaves are very dark brown, perhaps even black.

Once I smelled these leaves, I knew I was in for a treat. The most notable smell is probably the roasted aroma that the leaves give off. They do not smell overly roasted at all. I would call this a medium roasted yancha, which is also how TwoDog describes this tea on his site. There is a very nice fruity aroma present, perhaps more on the dried fruit side of things. It’s very woody and sweet smelling as well.

Teaware

I used a standard gaiwan for this sample. Kinda boring, yet again. I should definitely switch up my teaware selections a bit more.

Brewed Tea

I gave this tea a quick one second rinse, and then moved on to the first steep.

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This first steep came out a lovely orange-red copper color.

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This tastes so complex and interesting that I honestly don’t know how to describe it. This shui xian is on a whole other level compared to other shui xians I have tasted. The sweet mineral taste that most yanchas have is certainly present, but the flavor is a lot more complex with this tea. There is a very strong floral note that I have never tasted in a shui xian yancha before. The fruity, woody taste is very strong and pleasant as well. I also taste a sort of roasted grain or bread kind of thing going on. I notice that flavor in a lot of yanchas, so maybe that is just how my palate works.

I also got the sense that this tea is a lot less roasted than most shui xians I’ve had. Although this shui xian is definitely roasted, it is not overly so. Many shui xians are very heavily roasted, presumably to cover up the taste of cheaper teas. These shui xian style teas are still enjoyable, but definitely more one-note that White2Tea’s offering.

The aroma was even more intriguing. This tea smells so much like cinnamon. This tea seriously smells like Big Red chewing gum. I haven’t seen any other reviews mention this aroma, so perhaps it is just the way this tea interacts with my particular senses. But for me, the cinnamon smell was so strong and obvious!

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By the third and fourth steep, the tea calmed down a bit. The strong spice flavors have died down and tea has settled into a pleasant fruity and mineral taste. The sweetness is definitely more present, and the tea leaves a very sweet aftertaste with no dryness.

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The spicy flavors returned for a bit of an encore in the sixth steep, completely out of nowhere.

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Finished Leaf

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To be honest, I kind of forgot to get a good finished leaf photo for this tea. Oh well, at least here you can see the leaves inside of my gaiwan. This was towards the end of the session, so the leaves were pretty finished by this point. The leaves were very large and leathery, and did not really expand much from their dried state.

Conclusion

This tea is without a doubt the best shui xian yancha I have tasted. I enjoyed this sample a lot. However, tea like this certainly comes at a price. At $35 for 50 grams, I don’t think tea will become a regular fixture for me. But I really could not say anything bad about this tea. It is definitely worth a shot if you are into this style of teas.

In short, this is a really superb oolong. If you are a bit less price sensitive than I am (college student!), I would highly recommend purchasing this tea.

http://www.white2tea.com/tea-shop/obsx-oolong-tea-old-bush-shui-xian/

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 9 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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88

After reading countless stellar reviews of White2Tea’s curated selection of puerh teas and impeccable customer support, I had to place an order. The owner of White2Tea, known in the tea community as Two Dog, is arguably the most knowledge tea blogger on the Internet. You can read his work over at http://www.twodogteablog.com/ and http://www.white2tea.com/blog/. He is also very active in the r/tea and r/puer communities on reddit.

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White2Tea is based in Beijing, China and offers a very minimalist, “no bullshit” approach to selling puerh teas. Although White2Tea’s selection is smaller than some of its competitors, sometimes it is nice to select from a smaller amount of curated puerhs, rather than sift through hundreds and hundreds of random cakes. I also love all of White2Tea’s creative and adorable logos on their wrappers.

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This 2008 Often came as a sample with my order (White Whale!). Two Dog was very generous, giving me four different ten gram samples. The 2008 Often Tuo is White2Tea’s main budget offering, which is why I wanted to jump in and try it right away.

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Dry Leaf

I used almost the whole sample for my review, so this is a little bit more leaf than I would normally use. With that in mind, I brewed the tea with very quick infusions.

This tuo (nest shaped puerh) has quite an interesting composition. My 10g sample contained one large chunk and several smaller leaves. The tuo is pretty tightly compressed, just like most tuos. The leaves are on the larger side, and are a fantastic array of color. Some of the leaves are light straw colored, while others are dark gray. They gray colored leaves had beautiful gold and silver hairs on them. I was transfixed by the way that the light was bouncing off of the hairs. If you zoom in on this photo, you can see the hairs!

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The dry leaf is not overly fragrant. There is a slight hay or grassy smell to the leaves, but it’s nothing too strong. I detected a slight smoky note to the aroma of the dry leaf. Perhaps the most noticeable aroma coming off of these leaves is a sweet and earthy smell, which I really enjoyed.

Teaware

I used a standard gaiwan, nothing too exciting. I picked up this neat tea strainer and hand from Tea Drunk in New York City. I used a tea strainer like this in Taiwan once, and I have been looking for one in the US ever since. I finally found one! I showed off this tea strainer and hand to my friends, but they were a bit concerned about how happy it makes me.

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Brewed Tea

The aroma of this puerh really took off once I placed the leaves into the warm gaiwan. The fruity and smoky smells were intensified tenfold. Incredible! If I had to describe it, I would say it is very peachy and smoky…perhaps grilled peaches? Nah, that makes me sound like one of those wine snobs.

I opened up this tuo with two five second rinses.

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The first steep came out an interesting orange-yellow color. The color was definitely darker than I expected. This puerh has a very interesting flavor, with many of the characteristic sheng puerh flavor notes, but it is a bit more vegetal than most puerhs I’ve tasted. The first steep was quite astringent, even though I essentially poured the hot water in the gaiwan and then immediately poured it into my cha hai. I actually found this astringent character quite pleasant. This steep was also notably vegetal. Although the dry leaf smelled a bit smoky, there was no smoky flavor in the brewed tea.

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The mouthfeel was very slick and smooth, giving this tea a very pleasant juicy and thirst quenching quality.

The astringent and vegetal qualities of this tea combined quite well, combining to create an interesting flavor that I identified as green bell pepper, or perhaps celery. The aftertaste was notably sweet and very pleasant.

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The second steep was a similar color but tasted a bit less astringent. The next several steeps were very strong and powerful. This tea is definitely strong in the early steeps, as noted on the White2Tea website. Steeps five through eight calmed down quite a bit, although the strong vegetal qualities still came through.

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Finished Leaf

I steeped this tea in my gaiwan about ten times, and then threw the leaves into my tea mug and brewed the leaves “grandpa style” a few more times. The tuo definitely packs some power!

This tea gave an excellent cha qi. I felt super calm and relaxed after this gongfu session.

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These leaves were definitely on the larger side. The leaves were mostly light green or gray-green, but there were a few darker brown leaves thrown into the mix.

Conclusion

At $22.50 per 250 grams, the 2008 Often tuo is a solid daily drinker with a few years of aging. I would definitely consider buying this tuo again, and perhaps keep a few for aging and see how they taste in a few years. This tea is just beginning to calm down, and I would love to see how this reasonably priced tuo will develop in the future.

I would definitely recommend buying some teas from White2Tea. Two Dog is one of the most knowledgeable and helpful people in the specialty tea business. White2Tea offers a carefully selected and well-balanced selection of puerhs and oolongs at various price points. While some of the offerings are definitely a bit out of my price range, I am sure the quality is impeccable. Luckily, Two Dog also has plenty of teas that are quite reasonably priced.

This tuo was a solid introduction to White2Tea’s offerings, and I look forward to reviewing more of Two Dog’s teas in the coming weeks.

“I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.”- Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 9 g 5 OZ / 147 ML
mrmopar

Kick Butt Good Tea for sure.

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86

Baozhong (AKA baochong, baochung or pouchong) is one of the staple Taiwanese oolongs. I must admit that I’m not generally a huge fan of this style of oolong. Baozhong is usually a little light and subtle for my palate. However, this sample from Tea Ave smelled so incredible that I couldn’t wait to dive in.

Baozhong (包種茶) translates to the “the wrapped kind.” This name comes from the production process, in which the leaves are wrapped in paper during drying. Baozhong style teas tend to be very floral and fragrant, with a mild taste. Some of the baozhongs I have tasted had a very notable fruity and grassy character as well.

Drinking baozhong oolong brings back a lot of good memories for me. Baozhong tea is almost exclusively grown in a small region called Pinglin, about an hour and a half outside of Taipei, Taiwan. I visited Pinglin in January, hoping that my trip to the world’s largest tea museum would be one of the major highlights of my adventures in Taiwan. Alas, my enthusiasm was crushed when I noticed that the tea museum was closed for reconstruction.

Luckily, I was joined by my travel buddy Ben, the eternal optimist and baozhong enthusiast. Ben made sure that we still had a fun time wandering around the tea fields and taking photos with the tea themed statues. Busloads of travelers from Mainland China and Korea dominated the landscape, just like everywhere else in Taiwan. We saw some old Chinese ladies picking tea off the bushes and putting them into hot water to make fresh tea. I wish I had thought of that!

We managed to taste a lot of lovely teas in Pinglin. Each shop offered several grades of baozhong to try. We sat down and had tea at a few different shops. This place also served some nice baozhong flavored mochi!

The little downtown of Pinglin is full of shops and restaurants serving tea related foods. We got some delicious food at a restaurant that only used oolong tea seed oil in the kitchen. The oolong oil gave all of the food an herbal, grassy kick. I really enjoyed it, but I can certainly imagine that some people might find the flavor overpowering.

If you follow the online tea nerd world (presumably you do, since you’re here), you’ve seen the much-acclaimed Tea Ave sampler. It really was the greatest sampler I’ve ever received. My package included samples of Ali Shan Jin Xuan, Li Shan, and the Wenshan Bouchung.

Tea Ave is a Taiwanese oolong specialty shop run by a brother and sister team in Vancouver (Best city ever! The real world utopia/Shangri-La). Their website and general design is perhaps the best of any company I’ve seen. You should definitely check out their website and drool over the beautiful packaging. Perhaps I am a bit biased, since I have an unnatural love for sky blue.

Teaware

I brewed this tea using a standard gaiwan. Nothing too exciting this week.

Dry Leaf
These leaves looked wonderful, just like the highest quality baozhong oolongs you can find in Taiwan. I was very impressed with the aroma. I could smell the leaves through the sealed bag! The aroma was incredibly floral and had a slight caramelized note, which is a bit unusual for a baozhong, but still very lovely! There was a mixture of dark grey-green leaves and light greenish-yellow leaves, with the characteristic long, twisted shape that all baozhong oolongs have. Between the amazing appearance and smell, I was super impressed by Tea Ave’s sample!

Brewed Tea

I brewed this tea using a gaiwan and 8 grams of leaves.
I started with a quick five second rinse just to open up the leaves and warm up my gaiwan. I tasted the rinse water, as I always do (don’t judge me). It was very floral and flavorful, even though it had only steeped for a few seconds.

The first steep came out a light golden-yellow color. The taste is very light and subtle, but definitely more complex than a run-of-the-mill baozhong oolong. This baozhong is a lot more “herby” tasting than most baozhongs I have tasted. The tea also has a very grassy character, which might lead some people to classify this as a green tea. The characteristic floral taste is certainly there as well.

The aftertaste is nice and vegetal, like raw spinach. I love teas that taste like spinach, so that is a good thing in my book.

This tea has a very smooth mouthfeel, and even has a touch of the creaminess that tea drinkers tend to associate with the high mountain Taiwanese oolongs.

By the six or seventh steep, the tea was starting to lose a bit of its strength. Oddly enough, the color did not change much.

I enjoyed my session with this tea. It was very thirst quenching, which was a nice change compared to all of the dehydrating puerh I’ve been drinking lately.

Finished Leaf

This tea was very durable. I got about 9 steeps out these leaves, which is pretty impressive for a baozhong. The dry tea unfurled into giant army green leaves with very dominant veins. The leaves had no holes or tears.

Conclusion

This tea is undoubtedly one of the best baozhong style oolongs I have ever had. In fact, I would probably say that it is the best baozhong I have tasted. With that said, this tea is certainly not cheap. At about $11 per ounce, this tea is a bit out of my usual price range. I would certainly consider buying some oolong from Tea Ave if they had a good sale going. If you are a fan of baozhong or other lighter oolongs, then you should definitely try this…and leave more Li Shan and Ali Shan for me!

Preparation
8 g 5 OZ / 147 ML
Teaave

hrwhite we’ll be sure to let you know when we have good sales ;) Thanks so much for the thorough review and the love for Taiwan.

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