Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Milk Caramel

Tea: Milk Caramel - 8504
Vendor: Lupicia USA
Price: $6.00 / 50g
Vendor Description: The sweet flavor of milk caramel enhances a parching aroma of Houjicha. Also add some milk to well-brewed tea.

Leaf: The leaf for this is a light brown houjicha. It has a very autumnal brown hue to it. There are small caramel brown pieces in the mix which are about the size of large gravel. I assume that these are pieces of caramel in the mix. There is a very strong and prominent sweet and milky aroma to this tea. It reminds me very much of the aroma of fresh caramel.

1st Infusion Parameters: 3g, 5oz., 208F, 2 min

1st Infusion: This tea has a clear brown hue to it. The hue is lightly reminiscent of a coffee color. The aroma is very caramel like and sweet. It reminds me of caramel Chex mix. The tea is very lightly sweet in flavor. It has a light milky creaminess to the taste. The flavor of the houjicha blends well with the caramel flavoring. It reminds me of a breakfast cereal, yet the tea is not overly sweet. There is a clean aftertaste to it.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 208F, 3 min

2nd Infusion: This infusion has the same coffee brownish hue to it. It smells even more strongly of caramel than the first infusion. The flavor is lighter and has a roasted sweetness to it. It somewhat reminds me of Golden Crisp cereal.

Rating: 9/10

Conclusion: It sounds odd that I would be giving a flavored tea such a high rating, and a flavored hojicha at that. It's also a bit pricey, but I can't help but really like this stuff. It's just the right amount of sweet, it's smooth and enjoyable. Flavored hojicha is also a bit of a rarity, not many places aside from Lupicia even offer any from what I have seen. It is almost like this is one of those guilty pleasures teas. This is definitely one of the teas where you like it for what it is, make no attempt at comparing it to a fine Dan Cong or a divine gyokuro. It's made with lower grade tea, but whatever it tastes great.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Ashikubo Gold

Tea: Ashikubo Gold
Vendor: Chado Tea House
Price: $15.15 / 100g
Source: Shizuoka, Japan
Vendor Description: Asamushi Sencha = traditional light steamed sencha. Its refreshing and mild with a vibrant, golden-green infusion, bittersweet flavor satisfy even the most critical tea connoisseur.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea has a fresh, refreshing aroma to it. The leaf is dark green in color and has an appearance similar to a chumushi. There is a fair amount of dust, but nowhere near a fukamushi level. The leaf is moderately glossy. This tea is listed as an asamushi and even though it does somewhat look like a chumushi it still leans toward it's asamushi distinction.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5 oz, 185F, 45s

1st Infusion: The tea has a radiant light green color to it. It is almost a pure shade of green with little to no yellow undertones. The flavor is light yet full bodied. It is very clean feeling. There are hints of grassiness to it, but nothing too alarming. There is no real bitterness or astringency to be found. All in all this is a very calming tea.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 15s, 185F

2nd Infusion: This infusion shows a murkier color. The tea has a yellow green hue to it this time. The aroma of the tea is considerably thicker this time. It doesn't feel as clear and clean as the first infusion. The flavor this time is very up front and early. There is a clean sense of bitterness and a medium sense of astringency. The flavor is overall richer.

Rating: 9/10

Conclusion: This tea is a very good asamushi. It is light and delicate, yet still flavorful. It has a brilliant color to it. The price is very reasonable. All in all it's a great tea, but just lacks a little something to kick it over the top into a 10. Also Chado Tea House is not to be confused with Chado Tea.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Silver Needle

Tea: Silver Needle
Vendor: Canton Tea Co.
Price: £8.99 / 40g (~$13.21 USD)
Souce: Fuding County, Fujian Province, China
Harvest: Spring 2008
Vendor Description: This rare and delicious Silver Needle white tea is entirely hand-made from Fuding Da Bai Hao tips and is simply picked at dawn and scattered in the sun to dry. It is a very high quality Yin Zhen showing a dense covering of the characteristic white hairs on a healthy, plump, pale green leaf. The liquor is very pale and bright - the colour of champagne and it has a sweet nutty aroma. It tastes soft, creamy and mellow with a long and pleasant aftertaste.

Leaf: The leaf is very nicely shaped for a SN. The leaf is very light and fluffy with a barely noticeable amount of chips and dust. The needles are well cared for and the underlying leaf has a nice green hue to it.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5oz, 185F, 1 min

1st Infusion: This tea has a bold and sweet aroma to it. The tea itself is a pale yellow hue. The taste is fresh and light. There is a tiny amount of sediment on the bottom of the cup. The flavor is very good for a SN, both sweet and bold matching the aroma. The flavor is smooth and long lasting with a very enjoyable lingering aftertaste.

2nd Infusion: This infusion is murker with a yellow hue. The aroma is absolutely sublime. The flavor is bolder yet still stubtle. It has strength, but is not overpowering. It is light to medium bodied and finishes with a light sense of astringency. The flavor in this infusion is also very good and strong without inducing any negative traits.

Rating: 10/10

Conclusion: This SN is absolutely fabulous. It could very well be the best SN that I have had to date, but without a direct comparison to Seven Cups it would be hard to tell. The flavor is bold, sweet, and delicate. Everything I look for in a wonderful SN. The price is on par with Seven Cups so there is not too much difference there. If you're looking for an absolutely top notch SN, this is a good choice.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mint Tea

Tea: Mint Tea - 5800
Vendor: Lupicia USA
Price: $7.00 / 50g
Vendor Description: Plenty of dried peppermint is mixed with black tea. A perfect refreshing tea when you want to change your mood or after meals.

Leaf: This leaf consists of primarily black orthodox leaf with a bit of chopped mint leaves mixed in. There is a very strong peppermint aroma to the leaf.

1st Infusion Parameters: 3g, 208F, 3 min

1st Infusion: This tea produces a dark chocolate brown hued infusion. There is no murkiness, but a deep rich color. The aroma has a nice mix of black tea with mint mixed in together, the aroma overall though is on the lighter side of things. The flavor is very traditional black tea with a minty crispiness to it. The black tea portion of the flavor feels a bit light, but it is an appropriate amount of flavor though. There is no bitterness or astringency to this blend.

Rating: 6/10

Conclusion: This is one of the more subtle black teas that I have run across. The mint is at just the appropriate level where it is not overpowering nor is it underwhelming. However this tea is quite pricey for a flavored black tea, especially when it's flavored with peppermint. If this tea were cheaper I would consider it to be a good option.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Jasmin Mandarin

Tea: Jasmin Mandarin - 8200
Vendor: Lupicia USA
Source: China
Vendor Description: A Jasmin Tea with Chinese Green Tea as a base. It has an unforgettable sweet fragrance like a light spring wind.

Leaf: This is a dark colored green tea with some dried yellow flowers in the mix. There is a fair amount of dust in this tea. The rolled appearance to the leaf reminds me of a kamairicha. There is a strong jasmine aroma to the tea which has an uplifting and invigorating feel to it.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5oz, 185F, 45s

1st Infusion: The tea has a honey brown hue to it. It is mostly clear with a light murkiness to it. The distinctive aroma of jasmine is bold and assertive. It dominates over the warmth and aroma of the green tea base. The tea itself is a smooth full bodied green tea. The jasmine aroma is quite noticeable all throughout the drinking process. The green flavor is quite bold with the flavor centered on the front to middle of the tongue. There is not much to be found at all on the back end of the tongue. There is a light astringency and a little bit of an aftertaste which houses a little bit of jasmine flavoring.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 185F, 1:30

2nd Infusion: This infusion has a bolder brown hue to it. It is lighter on the Jasmine aroma, but it is far from gone. It is still quite distinctively Jasmine. There is an early bitterness in the flavor that transitions into a sharpness. Aside from that there is not much taste that lingers past that. The green flavor isn't as impressive as the first infusion.

Rating: 6/10

Conclusion: I would have liked the green flavor in this tea to have held up stronger in the second infusion. The Jasmine scenting was enjoyable and prominent, but not overpowering. I'm still not that big of a fan of Chinese green teas though. Like a lot of people I know say with coffee, this is a tea that you love to smell, but don't so much care for the drinking part of it. Not to say that the flavor is bad, but it just doesn't compare to the aroma.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sencha "Kanaya"

Tea: Sencha "Kanaya" - 7465
Vendor: Lupicia USA
Price: $9.00 / 50g
Vendor Description: As the leaves are small, they are thinly rubbed, producing this distinctive tea with elegant sweet aroma.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea looks like a yellow-green colored fukamushi. There are a few longer leaves in the mix, but the majority is the fukamushi style small leaf pieces. There is quite a bit of the fukamushi style powder though. The leaf is medium glossy. It is not quite matte, and not quite glossy at the same time. The aroma is very traditional for a fukamushi.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5oz, 45s, 185F

1st Infusion: The first infusion is yellower in color, but surprisingly clear for a fukamushi. there is a light murkiness to it and a sweet sencha aroma. The aroma reminds me of a fukamsuhi,b ut has hints of something similar to a yutaka midori in it. The flavor is on the bolder side of things. It has a distinct gyokuro like flavor at the onset. The strength of the tea reminds me of a gyokruo in something most akin to the marine flavor of a gyokruo. It's strong enought that it has a certain bitterness that pairs with a strong sencha flavor. There is no astringcency ot this tea, and considering the amount of strength in this cup that it is rather surprising. Most of the flavor is not foudn up front, but rather in the middle. There is not much aftertaste to speak of.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 185F, 15s

2nd Infusion: This infusion is quite different in appearance than the first one. It is murky enough that it is almost opaque. This is much more characteristic as a fukamushi. The color of the tea is deep enough of a green that it reminds me of a hunter green in color, just a slight bit yellower. There is a light aroma to the tea. The flavor of this infusion is completely different than the first infusion. It is light and snappy. The flavor is very crsip with a light sense of astringency.

Rating: 7/10

Conclusion: This is probably one of the most interesting fukamushis that I have tried to date. It showed a drastic change between infusions, neither being better or worse than the previous. It's price feels a bit steep though for what it is. I feel like this is more an interesting tea than an outstanding one. Fuka fans should probably give this one a try.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Teabag - Kalahari Reserve

Tea: Kalahari Reserve
Vendor: Kalahari Tea
Price: $3.50 / 20 teabags
Source: South Africa
Vendor Description: Kalahari Reserve is 100% pure red tea, selected from the tender tips of the Rooibos bush. With it's sweet, smooth taste, it can be enjoyed by itself, or with milk, lemon or a sweetener. Rich in antioxidants, red tea tastes great and is naturally caffeine free. It's the healthy drink you can consume all day long.

Teabag: This is another paper satchel style teabag from Kalahari Tea. There are lots of small rooibos bits in the bag. In general it seems like a very mundane red tea bag.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5 oz, 208F, 3 min, 1 teabag

1st Infusion: This tea produces a deep rich red color. There are hints of brown in the hue, but it is still a rather pure red. The aroma of the tea is very traditional for a rooibos tea. The flavor is also very characteristic smooth rooibos. It feels a bit sweeter than most rooibos that I have had and finishes with a light sense of astringency.

Rating: 7/10

Conclusion: Aesthetically the color of this tea is quite amazing. Unfortunately the methods of packaging that they use along with the paper satchel style teabags that they use don't really help them here. It would be better to use a teabag where you could more plainly see the color and appearance of the rooibos leaf. Aside from that though the tea is very characteristic for a rooibos tea, with the benefit of being slightly sweeter than most. This would be a good rooibos to try if you've never tried one before.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Teabag - Ginger Zest Sencha

Tea: Ginger Zest Sencha
Vendor: Kalahari Tea
Price: $.99 / 16 teabags
Vendor Description: Fragrant, Fresh Sencha and Bancha green teas are paired with the tingle of spicy organic ginger to create a refreshing and invigorating cup.

Teabag: This teabag is also another paper satchel type teabag. It has a very prominent ginger aroma to it.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5 oz, 1:15, 185F

1st Infusion: There is a rather prominent aroma to this tea. It is complicated and complex. The aroma reminds me of the detox infusion from Mighty Leaf. There are many detectable components to the aroma, but I can't single out very many of them at all. The only thing that I can really pull out is the ginger like portion of the aroma. There is a light sharp flavor to this tea, it is not very gingerly. It feels much more like a bancha than a sencha when evaluating the green tea portion of the flavor. The green tea is in the back of the flavor, but it is not offputting. The tea finishes with a light bitterness.

Rating: 3/10

Conclusion: This tea feels confused and muddled. Looking at the ingredient list I'm not surprised why. There is a mix of all kinds of things in it. It lacks clarity due to the complicated nature of it's blending. I would suggest finding something purer.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Teabag - Highlands Honey

Tea: Highlands Honey
Vendor: Kalahari Tea
Price: $3.50 / 20 teabags
Source: South Africa
Vendor Description: Our premium rooibos is blended with a delicious honey vanilla flavor to create a naturally sweet brew that is fully satisfying and completely caffeine free. Highland Honey Replaces Kalahari's Honey Red Tea. This tea now boasts a natural Honey Vanilla Flavor that still has less than 1 calorie and less than 1 gram of carbohydrates. Fans of Honey Red Tea just love this new slightly sweet version.

Teabag: Kalahari uses paper satchel type teabags (think Lipton). There is not much leaf in the teabag, but rooibos tends to not need much in general. There isn't a discernable aroma to the tea.

1st Infusion Parameter: 5 oz, 208F, 3:00, 1 teabag

1st Infusion: There is a very strong rooibos aroma to this tea. It reminds me of playdoh to a degree though. It is bold and sweet with hints of honey to the aroma. The flavor has a prominent honey flavoring to it. The flavor is very smooth and sweet which I would not have expected when first seeting the light red hue to this tea. The tea was quite light. There is a very mouth watering feel to this tea. It is best defined by it's smooth honey feeling.

Rating: 8/10

Conclusion: I've never been a huge fan of rooibos, but this one is quite surprising. There are a few things that I would like to see different about it, mesh pyramidal teabags for one. The other is the odditiy of the color of the tea. It seems very light altough the flavor doesn't pair off with this. The flavor is quite enoyable and the price is quite reasonable.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Tea: Vanilla
Vendor: Adagio Teas
Price: $6.00 / 4 oz.
Vendor Description: According to the International Ice Cream Association, Vanilla is by far the most popular flavor, getting a full 23% of all ice cream consumption. Inspired by this love of vanilla, Adagio has created Vanilla Tea. Combining the delectable flavor of sweet vanilla beans and premium Ceylon black tea, I'll scream, you'll scream, we'll all scream for... Vanilla tea!

Leaf: The tea consists of Adagio's standard black orthodox tea base. It is quite uniformly black in color and has an aroma like vanilla extract.

1st Infusion Parameters: 3g, 5oz, 208F, 5 min

1st Infusion: As typical for Adagio black teas it has a deep red color. It has a rich black tea aroma. The black aroma masks the vanilla in the aroma. The aroma however is sweet and it almost reminds me of coffee. The flavor is lightly bitter, there is no real vanilla flavor to be found, it's not too bold. It's medium boded and a little bit sharp on the front end. It finishes off with a medium sense of astringency.

Rating: 3/10

Conclusion: This is quite a mundane tea. The flavoring is on the weaker side and the black base is very mundane. It feels like most of the other flavored black teas from Adagio. If you're looking for a rather generic black tea this is a good choice. It's rather inexpensive and has no major faults. It's just lacks anything truly noteworthy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ali Shan

Tea: Ali Shan
Vendor: Adagio Teas
Price: $29.00 / 5 oz
Source: Taiwan
Vendor Description: Oolong tea from Taiwan. Formosa, meaning 'beautiful' was what the Portuguese explorers called this island. The oolong tea grown here continues to be called as such. The exquisite bouquet of Formosa Oolong tea is regarded to be the finest in the world. Complex floral notes echo on your palate as you enjoy this product of Taiwan's Ali mountain. Light bodied and softly sweet with an underlying complexity, this oolong will surely come to haunt. Perfect for multiple infusions.

Leaf: This leaf consists of large tightly rolled leaf balls. They vary in size from shades of light green to dark green. There is a distinctive green oolong aroma to the leaf, although it is on the lighter side.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5 oz, 208F, 1 min

1st Infusion: This tea has a light green hue. It is quite light and clear. There is a very prominent green oolong aroma to it though. The aroma is similar to a Tie Guan Yin, but not quite. The flavor is very light and crisp. The majority of the flavor is found in the center portion of the tongue, there are light amounts of flavor in the general body of this tea. It feels like a very mild green oolong, with a very relaxing feeling to it.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 45s, 208F

2nd Infusion: This infusion has a bolder yellow color to it. The aroma is also stronger. It is obvious that the tea has opened up a lot more for this infusion. The flavor is bolder and fuller. It shows a strong green oolong aftertaste. It is very warming yet holds onto a very sharp green oolong tanginess to it.

3rd Infusion Parameters: 1:30, 208F

3rd Infusion: There is no significant color change in this infusion. There is slightly less of an aroma to it though. The flavor is yet again bolder though. But even with the decrease in the sharpness it feels bold, almost like it softened out after the second infusion. It finishes off with a light sense of astringency.

4th Infusion Parameters: 1:30, 208F

4th Infusion: The color is slightly lighter this time around. The aroma is about the same as the third infusion though. The flavor is sweeter and lighter this time around.

5th Infusion Parameters: 3:00, 208F

5th Infusion: This time the flavor was showing obvious signs of waning. The color and aroma were both very light. The flavor showed signs of wateriness and a lack of strength.

Rating: 9/10

Conclusion: This was quite a solid offering from Adagio. It held up very strongly for 4 infusions, with a light 5th. One thing that I don't particularly like about this tea though is that you have to order between one sample size and 5 oz. It's a large jump in purchasing. Especially with the number of infusions you'll get out of each time with this tea, 5oz is quite an extensive purchase. That said though, the tea is a good price, it's a solid flavor.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

White Pearls

Tea: White Pearls
Vendor: Koffee Klatch

About This Tea: I received this tea as a gift. From what I can tell they are similar to jasmine pearls, but made with a tea closer to a Silver Needle.

Leaf: The tea consists of small pea sized pearls. They are coated with the small silver hairs typical of a white tea.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5oz, 185F, 1:30

1st Infusion: The tea has a crystal clear color, with a light brown and pink hue to it. The aroma is very similar to a Silver Needle, although it is a bit light. The flavor is very creamy. It is differing from a Silver Needle in that it is not as crisp. Yet the flavor is not quite as broad as a White Peony. The flavor is bolder than a Silver Needle, but very similar in flavor. It is bold for a white tea, yet feels like it is somewhere along the line between a Silver Needle and a White Peony.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 185F, 2:00

2nd Infusion: This infusion has a darker amber color to it, although the tea is still quite clear in color. There is a little bit of astringency, but still exhibits a stron rich white tea flavor.

Rating: 7/10

Conclusion: This was a very interesting tea. It did not fall into the normal classifications for white teas (mostly either White Peony or Silver Needle). It felt like it was straddling this classification between the two. I don't know much of the details about the price or availability, so it is a bit harder to give rating, but if you enjoy white tea this stuff is probably right up your alley to try. If you don't like either of the common two white teas you probably won't like this one either.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sencha Uji 2008

Tea: Sencha Uji 2008 - 6426
Vendor: Lupicia USA
Source: Kyoto, Japan
Vendor Description: The first flush green tea from Soraku district of Kyoto. The exquisite aroma lingers in the mouth.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea has lots of long thin needles. There is lots of dark green color with very little stem in the mix. There is no dust to speak of, the aroma is very sweet and sencha like. From the looks of the tea it is most likely an asamushi tea.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5 oz, 185F, 1 min

1st Infusion: The tea is lightly murky with a bright yellow hue. There is a very light and crisp sweet aroma coming from this tea. The flavor is lightly grassy as if to hint at a gyokuro in flavor. The flavor is rich and clean, with just a light sense of bitterness and a light clean aftertaste.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 185F 15s

2nd Infusion: This infusion as well was lightly murky. The hue darkened though to a yellow-brown hue. There is less aroma in this infusion and the flavor is a bit lighter, but it still feels quite clean in flavor. There is just a little bit of grassiness poking out here and there in this tea.

Rating: 9/10

Conclusion: This is a very good asamushi. Even though I ended up opening it a bit past it's prime as a shincha from last year it still exhibited a wonderful freshness and cleanliness that is characteristic of an asamushi. The flavor is very light and clean, just as an asamushi should be and it was a prime example thereof. I can't wait to see what the 2009's hold.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Tea: Yume - 5520
Vendor: Lupicia USA
Price: $6.00 / 50g
Vendor Description: A taste of happiness with the sweetness of vanilla, sweet-sour fragrance of fruits, and delicate rose buds. "Yume"means dream in Japanese.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea is sweetly aromatic. It has a hinting at being like a flavored strawberry. The mix is comprised of orthodox leaf. The leaf is expectantly very black in color. There are some yellow and pink petals mixed in for some color.

1st Infusion Parameters: 3g, 208F, 4 min

1st Infusion: The tea has a very sweet smooth black tea aroma. The tea has the color of a light cup of coffee. The flavor is light bodied and crisp. It is lightly fruity with a clean aftertaste.

Rating: 5/10

Conclusion: Another flavored black tea in the giant pile of flavored black teas. Nothing truly outstanding about this tea, yet nothing offputting. As with most Lupicia black flavored teas I would have liked more flavoring.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Sugimoto USA has started preorders for their shinchas for this year. I have not tried their regular shincha, but I am eager to try them out given my impressions from their other teas. Most importantly for this though they have started preorders for Temomi Shincha (Temomi-cha when i reviewed it)

Very importantly for this though you have to preorder this item (the same as their other shinchas). They are not going to be available after the preorder deadline. I highly suggest trying out the Temomi Shincha because it is absolutely unique and sublime.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dian Hong

Tea: Dian Hong
Vendor: Swan Sisters
Price: $8.00 / oz
Source: Yunnan, China
Harvest Date: Spring 2008
Vendor Description:
Yunnan Imperial known in Chinese as Dianhong, is from Fengqing county, Yunnan in Southern China. It is made from the same variety of tea plant as found in Darjeeling (A tea growing town/region in the Northern Indian state of West Bengal) and grown directly across the Himalayas. This tea is China's answer to those who love robust black teas. Yunnan imperial is high in tannins with a malty flavor and deep amber color which holds up well to milk. Production, almost exclusively for export, started in the 1960's when the officials of Yunnan where looking for revenue for the poor rural areas.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea is black and gold in color. The leaves are long and twisted with a rich and sweet aroma. The aroma reminds me somewhat of coffee.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5oz, 208F, 1 min

1st Infusion: The tea has a rich black tea aroma to it. The aroma is thick and heavy with a strong sense of intensity. The tea itself is a rich dark red-brown hue. The flavor is smooth and rich. It is full bodied and is definitively a Yunnan black tea. It finishes off with a long lasting aftertaste.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 208F, 1:30

2nd Infusion: The second infusion still shows the rich black aroma. The flavor is bold and strong, but has developed a light sense of bitterness and a medium astringency. The flavor is snappy and sharp.

Rating: 5/10

Conclusion: This is is very characteristically a Yunnan black tea. The leaf has an appropriate color as so, with golden leaf mixed with the rich black colored leaf. There isn't much that unique about this tea though, at least not enough to warrant the price. It's definitely a good stop if you're looking for a black tea outside of the Darjeeling/Assam/Ceylon ranks.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Huang Zhi Xiang (Yellow Sprig) 2008

Tea: Huang Zhi Xiang (Yellow Sprig) Dan Cong Oolong 2008
Vendor: Seven Cups
Price: $9.40 / 50g
Source: Chaozhou City, Guangdong Province, China
Vendor Description: This tea is made from the Huang Zhi Xiang bush that has been cultivated from the oldest Dan Cong bush (700 years old). Its special character is the light gardenia aroma. This lightly oxidized tea has a light honey yellow tea color and sweet, mellow flavor. This is a great tea for new Dan Cong oolong tea drinkers because of its high fragrance, light flavor and affordable price.

Additional Vendor Information:
Tea Bush: Huang Zhi Xiang descendent from original Feng Huang Shui Xian
Tea Master: Ye Han Zhong
Harvest Time: middle of March
Picking Standard: zhong kai mian (2-3 slightly open leaves)
Brewing vessel: glass cup, gaiwan, glass or porcelain pot, yixing pot
Brewing Guidelines: 1st i
nfusion 1 Tbs per 12 oz 212F for 1 min
Infusions: at least 6 times

Leaf: The leaf for this tea is a dark almost black color. As with most Dan Cong oolong it is very light and fluffy. The leaves are large and fragile. There is not much of an aroma to the dry leaf, but it hints at the Dan Cong aroma.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5 oz, 208F, 45s, 5s rinse

1st Infusion: This infusion has a very strong floral aroma. The color is a golden brown color. The aroma continues to exhibit a sweetness along with it's floral strength. There is a light and smooth flavor to the tea. It is lightly floral and lightly bodied.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 1 min, 208F

2nd Infusion: This infusion has a more golden hue than the first. The aroma again is both sweet and floral. The flavor is very smooth to the tongue, it has a very light bitterness that leaves a very clean feeling. It is relaxing and has a very light sense of astringency.

3rd Infusion Parameters: 1:30, 208F

3rd Infusion: This infusion had the same color as the second infusion. The aroma is not quite as floral anymore. It is still very light, airy and sweet. There is less flavor, but it feels thicker this time. The infusion finishes with a light sense of astringency.

4th Infusion Parameters: 2:00, 208F

4th Infusion: This infusion is a more amber brown color. The aroma is thick and rich. The tea itself is lighter in flavor and less bodied. The flavor is more centered to the core of the flavor and centered on the middle of the tongue. There is a medium sense of astringency to this infusion. It has slight pings of bitterness at the edges of the flavor.

5th Infusion Parameters: 3:30, 208F

5th Infusion: This infusion is a lighter amber color. The aroma is sweet and creamy with a certain thickness to it. The flavor feels emptier than before, but retains the late portion of the flavor. There is a medium sense of bitterness accompanying the flavor.

Rating: 9/10

Conclusion: Hands down this is quite a good Dan Cong Oolong. It is not the best one that I have had, but at a price under $10 for 50g it feels like quite a bargain. It produced 5 very solid infusions, and possibly could have gone for more. Thank you very much to Jessica over at Authoritea for the sample of this tea.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Tea: Strawberry
Vendor: Adagio Teas
Price: $6.00 / 4 oz
Vendor Description: Historians believe that the name 'strawberry' comes from an Old English tradition of placing straw on the ground around this fruit, preventing slugs and other insects from enjoying a free lunch. Once you try our delicious Strawberry Tea, you're sure to see why they were so protective. Combining the succulent taste of sweet strawberries with bright Ceylon black tea, this is a treat you'll keep for yourself!

Leaf: The leaf is a very black colored tea. It has a few small green leafy bits to the mix and a very strong strawberry aroma to it. There are a few small dried fruit bits in the mix as well. The leaf looks like smallish orthodox leaf.

1st Infusion Parameters: 3g, 5 oz, 208F, 5 min

1st Infusion: The tea has a dark chocolaty brownish red hue to it. There is a strawberry aroma to the tea that is masked by the boldness and intensity of the black tea. The flavor is rich and smooth. It is just strong enough to add a little bit of bitterness to the tea. There however is not much strawberry flavor to be found in the tea, just in the aroma. Aside from the aroma component I would be inclined to believe that this was just a plain black tea if this were served to me. It finishes with no astringency though.

Rating: 5/10

Conclusion: Nothing spectacular here, yet no major faults either. The strawberry flavor could stand to be more significant and intense, but at it's price it's not a bad offering. It's a very standard feeling flavor from Adagio though.


Tea: Daruma - 5521
Vendor: Lupicia USA
Price: $7.00 / 50g
Vendor Description: By legend, this tea was created from the discarded eyelids of the monk, Daruma. Black tea and fruits of India are blended. Pink pepper shaped like Daruma is added and said to give an energizing power.

Leaf: The leaf consists of lots of CTC style pellets of tea. There is a little bit of orthodox leaf mixed in with this. There are also small red peppercorns and pieces of dried fruit in the aroma. The leaf has a very fruity aroma to it with hints of pepper as well.

1st Infusion Parameters: 3g, 5oz, 5min, 208F

1st Infusion: The tea produced a very dark brown hue. The aroma was very sweet yet unique. It had a smooth and inviting feel, yet odd due to the pepper. The flavor was light and crisp for a black tea. It was light bodied yet flavorful on the tongue. There was a light sense of astringency and a warm feeling at the end.

Rating: 4/10

Conclusion: In the end this was just another oddly flavored black tea. The fruit and peppercorns were an interesting mix like an ode to a chai, but not quite. In the end I would say that the price is the downfall of this tea though. There are much better alternative teas to this at lower prices, even from the same vendor.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Gyokuro Fujitsubo

Tea: Gyokuro Fujitsubo
Vendor: O-Cha
Price: $45.95 / 100g
Source: Uji, Japan
Vendor Descripton: Uji Gyokuro "Fujitsubo" - O-Cha.com is honored to offer gyokuro "Fujitsubo", supplied to us from the Tsuen family who operate Japan's oldest teashop located on the banks of the Uji river. A very high quality, authentic first-flush gyokuro, this tea is a proprietary blend of "Saemidori" and "Yabukita" breeds of green tea, with the "Saemidori" being prominent. Gyokuro is shade grown before harvesting, giving it a greener color and sweeter taste. Once you learn to make it properly, you wil be hooked for life! Make sure to read our brewing instructions, as it is brewed differently than sencha.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea is a very deep shade of green. There are lots of small particles to this tea, but it has a rich gyokuro aroma. There is a little bit of stem in there, but not much.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5oz, 130F, 45s

1st Infusion: This tea has a light pale green color. It is very clear, and has a thick and rich aroma. The flavor is very strong, but the flavor is mostly on the front side. The flavor is rich and grassy, with a very smooth flavor. There is no astringency to it.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 140F, 15s

2nd Infusion: This infusion was murkier in color. It was a darker yellow hue, and lacked the radiance of the first infusion. The aroma was bolder and had a sense of grassiness to it. The flavor of this tea was quite envigorating. The feeling spread throughout the mouth and had a strong boldness to it. There was a light sencha like bitterness to the flavor, it was quite thick again and felt quite energizing.

3rd Infusion Parameters: 150F, 45s

3rd Infusion: There was a little bit of residue in this cup, but the color was a clear bright green hue. It was again bold with a very normal gyokuro flavor. It was grassy this time around, and lighter and cleaner than before. The flavor was clean and open.

4th Infusion Parameters: 155F, 2:00

4th Infusion: There was not much aroma to this infusion. The flavor was rich and strong early on, but there was not much fo a middle or late flavor. The flavor felt slightly light and empty. It was pretty apparent that the tea was starting to let up.

Rating: 9/10

Conclusion: This tea is quite wonderful. The flavor had different profiles in each infusion, it is a bit surprising to see it change this much. Normally it's changes within the normal part of the profile, but this had grassiness come and go in different infusions. After the 4th infusion it felt like it could probably go on further, but it would take a fair amount of time/temp to coerce it out of it. It seems like quite a pricey tea, but not that extreme for gyokuro.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Kuromitsu Kinako

Tea: Kuromitsu Kinako - 8518
Vendor: Lupicia USA
Vendor Description: This is a unique blend of green tea and tea powder, flavored with soy powder and rich brown sugar.

About This Tea: This is a tea that I picked up from Lupicia, although from the looks of it, it is no longer available on their website. This is just another one of the many teas that have been slowly disappearing off of the Lupicia website in the past few months.

Leaf: The leaf has a very strong brown sugar and maple syrupy aroma. There are some small brown-red beans in the mix. The leaf has a very matte appearance, but it is likely that a certain degree of this is from the brown sugar and kinako coatings. The leaf is rather large and not needle like how a sencha is.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5 oz, 208F, 2min

1st Infusion: The tea has a dark amber color. It is slightly murky and has a very sweet aroma. The aroma reminds me of brown sugar like the leaf has. The flavor of the tea is unsurprisingly sweet. There is a light bitterness to the flavor, but is overall quite smooth. There is a hint of bancha sharpness, but it is masked by the sugary sweetness.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 208F, 2:30

2nd Infusion: The tea had a darker yellow color this time. The aroma was still quite sweet. It is a little sharper this time around though and not as sweet as the first infusion. There is a little bit of snappy bitterness to it.

Rating: 2/10

Conclusion: This tea was rather odd. I'm normally not a big fan of the flavor of kinako or adding sugar to my green tea. Because of this, this tea wasn't terribly great. This wasn't a good pairing of flavoring with green tea. I also tried this tea iced, but it wasn't very good that way either.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tomo Sencha

Tea: Tomo Sencha
Vendor: Wegmans Food Markets
Price: $15.99 / lb
Source: Japan
Vendor Description: Japan. Echoes of grass and sun-warmed straw present in this light-bodied tea with a pleasing flowery-green fragrance. The Loose Leaf Tea Experience: For true tea lovers, nothing compares to the experience of the aroma and flavor of loose leaf tea. Since these leaves aren't constrained by a pre-measured steeping bag, your palate is your guide to full-flavored enjoyment. And making the perfect cup of tea starts with a quality filtered or spring water. This Tomo (which means friend in Japanese) Sencha, is a minimally processed blend of many fine tea leaves and it's the tea to enjoy anytime you need a quick lift. We re proud of this Tomo Sencha loose leaf tea and we hope you'll agree. Remember, your satisfaction is always guaranteed with Wegmans brand products - The Wegmans Family.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea is rather small with a lot of broken pieces. It's rather distinctively a chumushi. It has a slight hint of bancha aroma.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5 oz, 1 min, 185F

1st Infusion: The infusion had a lightly murky yellow green color. The flavor is light with hints of bancha flavor. There is a certain tanginess to the flavor. The aroma is quite like a normal sencha with hints of bancha aroma. There is a very distinctive bitterness to the flavor. It feels like a bancha bitterness not a sencha bitterness. The bitterness is most prominent at the tip of the tongue. It finishes with a medium sense of astringency. The flavor is full bodied, but is dominated by bitterness.

Rating: 2/10

Conclusion: This sencha really wasn't very impressive. The flavor felt a lot like a bancha, but not fully. It is nicely bodied. The flavor isn't spectacular, but the price is quite reasonable. If you are looking for a very budget priced sencha this is one of the more acceptable budget teas.

Wakamatsu No Mukashi

Tea: Wakamatsu no Mukashi
Vendor: Ippodo
Price: 1500 Yen / 20 g
Vendor Description: For the matcha connoisseur with a discerning taste, Wakamatsu-no-mukashi is an excellent choice. Rich in umami, it has a distinct fragrance and aftertaste that linger pleasantly in the throat. Wakamatsu-no-mukashi is also an excellent choice as a koicha.

Powder: The matcha powder has a nice light green color to it. It is a very bright color with a rich and sweet aroma.

Infused: The foam took on a brilliant green hue. The flavor is rich an bold. As I was drinking this matcha it had a very calming effect on me. The flavor was smooth with nothing unpleasant about the experience at all.

Rating: 10/10

Conclusion: Quite easily this is the best matcha I have had to date. Unfortunately I have not had that much experience with matcha still. Given the plethora of different grades and suppliers my repertroire of matcha experience is still developing. That said though the flavor of this match was superb, it was rich and thick with no bitterness or astringency. The color was radiant and beautiful and the experience overall was just very pleasant. Also the price of this matcha is very reasonable (although as with all Ippodo tea the shipping is brutal).

Monday, March 2, 2009


Tea: Genmaicha
Vendor: Wegmans Food Markets
Price: $16.99 /lb

About This Tea: This tea is another one that I picked up from Wegmans, and I'm not sure how well it matches up with the Ito-en offering of a matcha coated genmaicha. The price at wegmans was almost $1/oz, whereas the Ito-en version is closer to $3/oz.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea has a large amount of rice and is heavily coated in matcha. The tea has a very strong rice aroma, although it has a very dry sense to it. The matcha coating has a very dull pale color to it. It feels almost like it's washing out the color of the tea.
1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5 oz, 185F, 1 min

1st Infusion: The tea has a rich rice aroma that is mixed with a certain driness. The infusion is a murky green color. The flavor is light and sweet. It primarily sticks to the front of the tongue. It is dominated by a very present rice taste, which is not surprising considering the rice:tea ratio present in this tea. There is not that much of a tea flavor in this infusion.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 10s, 185F

2nd Infusion: The tea is still murky, which is surprising for a second infusion of matcha coated tea. The aroma has a dustiness again. The flavor is light and clear, but there is not much flavor in general.

Rating: 5/10

Conclusion: This is not a terribly impressive genmaicha, but it's significantly lower price makes it a lot more attractive. This tea may have been better with a longer first steep and steeped only once. At it's price point I would not feel bad about doing this. I'm a little disappointed by the dusty aroma to this tea, this aroma is most likely due to the matcha coating, and the tea may be better served without any coating at all.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Melon Oolong

Tea: Melon Oolong - 8239
Vendor: Lupicia USA
Price: $9.00 / 50g
Source: Taiwan
Vendor Description: Sweet aroma of juicy melons and aromatic Taiwanese oolong tea.

Leaf:The leaf for this tea has a very sweet cantaloupe aroma. It is very strong and pleasant. There are small white pieces of dried fruit in the mix as well. The oolong is rolled into nice small pellets (Taiwanese style oolong).

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5 oz, 2:00, 208F

1st Infusion: This tea has a pale yellow color. It is rather clear with a few flecks of sediment in the bottom of the cup. The aroma of the tea is a typical green oolong mixed with the same sweet cantaloupe aroma. The flavor though is not as strong as the aroma would indicate. The middle of the flavor is very characteristically green oolong. The ending of the flavor has a solid sweetness from the cantaloupe flavoring. Overall the tea is very smooth and sweet, and there is a general mouth coating sweetness to it. The flavor lasts a long time and has a lingereing aftertaste. This tea feels like it has a flavor battle between the sweetness of the melon and the oolong flavoring.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 208F, 3:00

2nd Infusion: This infusion has a golden yellow color. The sweet melon aroma is dominated by the stronger green oolong aroma. There is a light sharpness in the aroma. The flavor is light and smooth with a light sense of astringency. Again, it feels like there is still a conflict in the flavors here.

Rating: 7/10

Conclusion: This is a flavored oolong, it makes no allusions as being something else. It is pretty good for a flavored tea, better than most of the other flavored oolongs I have tried. For a flavored oolong though this tea is very pricey. The flavoring is quite nice, the underlying oolong is as good as should be expected for a flavored tea.