Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Silver Needle

Tea: Silver Neeldle
Vendor: Jing Tea
Price: £6.90/50g
Source: Fujian, China
Vendor Description: Picked at the end of March this year, long, soft and downy, Silver Needle comprises the first spring buds of the Da-Bai tea plant. It comes from Fuding, a serene region with icy waterfalls and crystal clear lakes. The peaceful setting is reflected in the flavour - soft and mellow,with the freshness of honeydew melon and the soothing sweetness of a ripe cantaloupe. It’s an easy-drinking tea that's ideal for drinking on long and lingering afternoons, or well into the night.

Leaf: The leaf for this Silver Needle is a very vibrant green and white mix of hues. More so than most SN the color is really standing out with this tea. It has the distinctive fluffiness of a SN in a quite exemplary form. The bottom end of the buds have small amounts of blackening which I have seen on a few other SN teas before. The aroma is very vibrant and creamy. It has an almost peachish aroma to it.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 50z, 185F, 1:20

1st Infusion: This infusion has a golden yellow hue to it, and the aroma is thick and sweet. It is bold and in charge, and is a perfect example of the creamy aroma of a SN. The flavor is fresh and crisp, not something seen in many SN, but it is still a light hearted tea. The flavor overall is quite well rounded with a slight conservative emptiness to it.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 2:00, 185F

2nd Infusion: This infusion has the same golden color, and the aroma is even more enthusiastic. Everything about this tea simply says vibrance. The flavor is creamy yet light, thick, but not overly so.

Rating: 10/10

Conclusion: This is one of the best SNs that I've tried to date. It is slightly different than some others in that the key to this tea is the vibrance and the freshness of the SN. A few others focus more on the subtle flavor and the creaminess. These aspects are present in this tea, but take second seat to the vibrant fresh flavors.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Marrakesh Mint

Tea: Marrakesh Mint
Vendor: Mighty Leaf
Price: $9.95 / 15 teabags
Vendor Description: Marrakesh Mint green tea is made from China Gunpowder green tea blended with refreshing Moroccan peppermint. Packaged in a silken tea pouch, our gourmet teabag, this blend will whisk you away to cascading waterfalls deep in the mountains of Morocco. Host friends and family with this lively green tea brightened with peppermint cultivated on a mountain in Tiznit.

Teabag: The teabag is made in the typical style for Mighty Leaf, sewed together mesh pouches. There really wasn't anything truly remarkable about this teabag, it has a rather strong peppermint aroma to it, but aside from that appears to be a pretty normal green tea.

1st Infusion Parameters: 1 teabag, 5oz, 185F, 3min

1st Infusion: The tea produces a surprisingly deep brown hue, one of the darker I've seen for a green tea. The tea has a very crisp mintiness to the flavor, it's the most noticeable portion of the flavor, behind that though is a rich tea flavor that plays second seat to the peppermint. The tea provides a good overall tea feeling where the peppermint does well to shine forward as mint normally does. There is a little bit of astringency on the back end.

Rating: 5/10
Conclusion: Nothing truly remarkable here. It is a simple green tea with some peppermint added in for a crisper flavor. If you're looking for a mint flavored green tea teabag this is a good option, but if that's not what you're looking for, there's probably something else you want.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Tea: Strawberry - 5227
Vendor: Lupicia USA
Price: $5.50 /50g
Vendor Description: Sweet and lively strawberry flavor reminds us of a soft spring atmosphere. Its strong taste is good with a bit of sugar or with milk.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea is a very ordinary looking black orthodox leaf. Very uniform in both size and color. The strawberry aroma reminds me of strawberry gum, not so much the aroma of fresh strawberry, but that with artificially flavored strawberry products. There are a few pieces of small chopped up flat green leaves mixed in.

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

1st Infusion: The aroma of this tea, like the leaf reminded me of strawberry gum, but mixed in with a normal black tea aroma. There is a bit of sharpness in the aroma from the black tea component. The tea itself is a very standard clear brownish hue. The flavor is sweet with a strawberry like aftertaste. There is not much of a strawberry flavor in the core of the taste, but rather more like an afterthought. It is smooth and enjoyable, but the flavoring is very much that; flavoring.

Rating: 3/10

Conclusion: This tea is very much as expected. Nothing spectacular about it, nothing really disappointing. It's your standard flavored black tea that you would find at a variety of vendors. I would have appreciated a flavoring more akin to fresh strawberries rather than strawberry gum.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

La Vanille

Tea: La Vanille - 5232
Vendor: Lupicia USA
Price: $7.50 / 50g
Vendor Description: Indulge in the love of vanilla! A luxurious blend of African black tea laced with exotic Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea is rather peculiar. It is shaped like a very small pellet ctc, but smaller than any other ctc that I have seen. It reminds me very much of freeze dried coffee grounds. There are cross sections of cut up vanilla beans mixed in with this. There is the distinctive aroma of true vanilla from this tea, rather unsurprisingly.

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

1st Infusion: The aroma for this tea is very rich and creamy. It is contribued heavily by the vanilla aroma. The flavor is light and clear for a black tea. It is sweetened by the vanilla flavor, and it almost begst o be paired with a bit of milk and sugar because of that. The flavor is overall somewhat light, but the vanilla keeps bringing to mind a combination of vanilla ice cream and a light black tea. The tea portion of the flavor lightly reminds me of an english breakfast tea.

Rating: 7/10

Conclusion: This tea is a bit difficult to rate. As a flavored black tea, the flavoring is quite outstanding. The vanilla is true to it's name and delivers a wonderful flavor. It's on the upper end of what anyone should pay for a flavored black tea, especially a ctc though.


Tea: Sakura - 5804
Vendor: Lupicia USA
Price: $8.50 / 50g
Vendor Description: Black tea blended with cherry leaves produces a sweet yet refreshing taste. Tea to announce the arrival of spring. The slight saltness goes well with both Japanese and Western sweets.

Leaf: The leaf consists of a typical flavored black leaf. There is a fair amount of stem in the mix though for a flavored black. There are small pieces of chopped green leaves added into the mix, presumably these are sakura leaves. There is also a very bold sakura aroma from the leaf.

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

1st Infusion: The tea produces a rich clear brown hue. The black aroma mixes well with the araoma from the sakura leaves. There is a light saltiness that is not overpowering like some of the sakura teas offered by Lupicia. This actually pairs fairly well with a nice rich flavor. There is a light sense of astringnecy, but no bitterness to this tea. The sakura flavor itself pokes out slightly at the end, aside from that the actual flavor of this tea shows through just as a typical black base.

Rating: 5/10

Conclusion: The flavor of the sakura in this tea isn't terribly outstanding. It blends in mostly with the regular black tea base. The aroma is very outstanding and enjoyable though, and the saltiness of the tea isn't as noticeable as say the Sakura Houji. Overall this is a bit unimpressive, but nothing really detracting either.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Snowy Leaves

Tea: Snowy Leaves
Vendor: Lupicia USA
Price: $7.00 / 50g
Source: Guandong, China
Vendor Description: Oolong tea which is commonly used in Guangdong Province. The very large tea leaves picked from ladders from self-standing single tea trees characterize this tea. Rich and mellow aroma and solid taste.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea consists of large dark black leaves. There are small hues of brown and grey on the leaves, nothing out of the ordinary for a Phoenix oolong. The leaves are a moderately large size for their type, not overly large or small.

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

1st Infusion: This tea has an amazing aroma to it. It is floral, yet sweet and malty at the same time. It is very distinctively a phoenix oolong aroma, but it is not terribly refined or clear. Instead it is a broad encompassing, yet pleasant aroma. The tea itself is a beautiful brown hue. It has a sharp flavor, yet has a very smooth body to it. There is a long aftertaste and a mouth watering and warming feeling accompanying it.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 45s, 208F

2nd Infusion: This infusion has a lighter aroma, but still the same inviting floral feel to it. The flavor for this infusion is richer and bolder. It has a golden brown hue with hints of red. Again the flavor has an interesting mouth watering feel ot it. Overall it has a very bodied flavor.
3rd Infusion Parameters: 1:30, 208F

3rd Infusion: This time around the hue turned to a more golden color. The aroma has died down a bit, it is not as heavy anymore, but the floral characteristic is still readily found and it is more noticeable. The tea itself has a full body with a lighter flavor to it. The core of the flavor feels a bit empty though. It finishes nicely with a nice light sense of astringency.

4th Infusion Parameters: 2:15, 208F

4th Infusion: This infusion was lighter, but still had a rich color to it. The aroma was just noticeable at this point, with traces of the floral characteristic shining through. The flavor was richer than the 3rd infusion, with a generally intensified feel to it. This infusion felt smooth and welcoming, and left with a light sense of astringency again.

5th Infusion Parameters: 3:00, 208F

5th Infusion: This infusion had a light background aroma, nowhere near as prominent as the first few infusions. The flavor mirrored the waning aroma, in that it was much lighter and nowhere near it's previous bretheren. There was no astringency, but even in it's weakness this tea felt calming.

Rating: 10/10

Conclusion: I have been searching for different Phoenix Oolongs for a while, trying to find one more apt for daily drinking than some of the higher end ones. This seems to fit the bill quite nicely. It has a very solid and lasting flavor, with no major downsides. It is not overly cheap, nor overly expensive. It fits the bill quite nicely for a nice Phoenix oolong. This is one of my preferred Phoenix oolongs now.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Kiwami Shincha

Tea: Kiwami Shincha
Vendor: Zencha
Price: $25.00 / 100g
Source: Yame, Japan
Vendor Description: The Premium Sencha produced only from the first flush leaves of Asagiri, a variety of tea plant. You can enjoy excellent natural sweet aroma and cleanly astringent taste.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea is borderline between a chumushi and a fukamushi. It has a very fresh aroma as is expected from a shincha. There is a little bit of flat leaf in the mix.

1st Infusion Parameters: 3g, 5oz, 185F, 45s

1st Infusion: The infusion has a clear bright green hue to it. It is radiant and brilliant as is expected from a shincha. The aroma is sweet and fresh. The flavor matches well to the aroma in terms of a very clean and fresh flavor with a hint of vibrance to it. There is a hint of marine flavor lingering in the background.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 15s, 185F

2nd Infusion: This infusion has a murkier, more characteristic fukamushi color to it. the hue is a deep green color. The aroma is very bold and intense. The flavor is a lot lighter, but the weight of the fukamushi portion of the flavor seems to almost conflict with the freshness of the shincha. It finishes with a light sense of astringency.

Rating: 7/10

Conclusion: This is a pretty good shincha, nothing spectacular, but nothing terrible. It expresses the freshness and vibrance that should be in a shincha, but the fukamushi aspect seems to conflict with the freshness feel of the shincha. This is partly due to my preference for an asamushi, but with a shincha this seems to be expressing itself a bit more. At it's price it doesn't feel particularly cheap or expensive, but leans toward the pricey side. I was somewhat expecting a more defined flavor for a Yame shincha.

Jasmine Pearls

Tea: Jasmine Pearls
Vendor: Narien Teas
Price: $25.00 / 5oz
Vendor Description: Jasmine Pearls is a gently rolled fragrant green tea that has been scented with fresh jasmine blossoms. Infuses into a sweet-flavored cup with a flowery jasmine aroma.

Leaf: The tea consists of small dark green pearls, around the size of a pea. Each rather nicely rolled into a small ball. The aroma is almost similar to a black tea, but has a strong very prominent jasmine portion to it.

1st Infusion Parameters: 8 pearls (1.38g), 185F, 1min, 50z

1st Infusion: This tea has the sweet aroma of Jasmine to it, as is to be expected with some Jasmine Pearls. The hue is a light pale yellow green. There is a very prominent jasmine aroma and flavor to this tea. The flavor otherwise is sweet and very light in character. The jasmine seems to dominate the majority of this tea, which is to be expected considering the amount of leaf used in accordance with Narien's suggested parameters.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 1:30, 185F

2nd Infusion: This infusion has a bolder yellow color to it. The jasmine aroma is still detectable, although it is hiding further back in the feel of the aroma. The green flavor is more prominent in this infusion as well. Overall this infusion is more in balance between the two flavor components, producing a light and smooth overall flavor.

Rating: 8/10

Conclusion: Overall a fairly solid jasmine pearl tea. Not overpowering in either side, light, and delicate. The coloration on the pearls themselves is a little unusual, but it doesn't seem to have any bearing upon the actual flavor though.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ceylon Kenilworth

Tea: Ceylon Kenilworth
Vendor: Narien Teas
Price: $7.00 / 4oz
Source: Sri Lanka
Vendor Description: Ceylon Kenilworth is an excellent black tea from the Kenilworth Estate, Sri Lanka. The long, crisp, dark leaves infuse into a malty cup that is full of flavor and very smooth.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea consists of large black leaf with light grey edging to it. It has a sweet and distinctively Ceylon aroma to it. Nothing really unusual here.

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

1st Infusion: This tea has a sweet Ceylon aroma to it. It is very smooth and very typical for a Ceylon. It is a bit smoother and more reserved than other Ceylon samples I've tried. It has no astringency or bitterness to it. Overall it has a very even flavor.

Rating: 4/10

Conclusion: Different Ceylon black teas fail to impress me as one versus another. They tend to have a very similar flavor to them and don't stand apart from one another. Differences are very subtle and not very noticeable.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Tea: Aloalo - 5904- EH-4
Vendor: Lupicia USA (Hawaii Exclusive)
Vendor Description: A Darjeeling and Assam tea with hibiscus flower. Tea has a beautiful red color.

About This Tea: This tea is one of the Lupicia Hawaii Exclusive teas. There are a handful of teas that are only available at the Hawaii store of Lupicia. A few have started popping up as a limited time item on their website and a few retail locations. This is not one of those.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea has a lovely color mix to it. It is a rainbow mixture of red, black, green, and brown hues. It has a very sweet and floral aroma to it. There is a very prominent factor to the aroma which I'm guessing is the hibiscus component. I'm not particularly familiar with the aroma of hibiscus.

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

1st Infusion: The tea has a very unusual dark purple hue to it, the shade reminds me somewhat of a deep red wine. The Darjeeling component is definitely poking through in the aroma expressing that characteristic floral Darjeeling aroma. The rest of the aroma is very thick and hearty. The flavor of the tea itself has a certain tartness to it. It is very up front and short lived. It reminds me somewhat of cranberry juice, the tartness and snap of the flavor. It just isn't backed by the same sweetness as a glass of cranberry juice. There is a light astringency tailing on the aftertaste after the tartness.

Rating: 9/10

Conclusion: This is a very unusual tea. I believe that a lot of the uniqueness is due to the hibiscus component, but the overall picture of the tea is a light and refreshing beverage. It is unfortunate that this tea is only available at the Hawaii store. The flavor brings back memories of the Island Breeze tea from Mighty Leaf, which also had hibiscus in it. In comparison this is a richer tea experience and bolder and more flavorful. Thank you to Victoria and her SIL at TeaChat for providing me some of this wonderful tea.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Tea: Kaboku
Vendor: Ippodo
Price: 1,250 Yen/ 50g
Source: Japan
Vendor Description: A harmonious blend of sweetness, bitterness, richness, astringency and fragrance this is sencha. It's easy to understand why sencha is such a favorite beverage in Japan, not only for those seeking to quench a thirst, but also for those wanting to sip on something extra special.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea consists of some dark green needles. They are very uniform in color and a dark green hue. It has a fresh crisp aroma. The size of the needles suggest this is an asamushi.

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

1st Infusion: This infusion has a clear yellow green hue to it. The aroma is light and crisp. The flavor pairs well with the aroma, feeling crisp and light. It is a very clear flavor with no bitterness or astringency. It is simple and refined.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 15s, 185F

2nd Infusion: This infusion was a brighter clear yellow green hue. The flavor was richer and stronger than the first infusion, but it is sharp and clear. There is a little bit of bitterness as well as a light marine flavor.

3rd Infusion Parameters: 45s, 185F

3rd Infusion: This was a richer, more brilliant yellow hue. The flavor was a little bit lighter, it felt light and clear with a strong feeling of snappiness. It finishes with a light sense of astringency.

Rating: 10/10

Conclusion: This sencha was quite outstanding. It was a light flavor that was clear and well defined. Even though the flavor was on the lighter side, it still was quite well defined and gentle. This is a fantastic asamushi sencha and while a bit on the pricier side, is still reasonably priced for the grade of the tea.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pre Rain Organic Dragon Well Supreme Green Tea Long Jing

Tea: Pre Rain Organic Dragon Well Supreme Green Tea
Source: Jing Tea
Price: ₤ 12.75 / 50g
Source: Zhejiang, China
Vendor Description: Our highest grade Dragon Well green tea. Picked on 1st April 2009 from Dragon's Staff garden. The first of the year, before the Qing Ming festival.
Small and tender bud and leaf sets masterfully hand-fired fired to give the classic Dragon Well flavour.
Certified organic by the UK Soil Association. Fair Trade certified by IMO Switzerland.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea is rather uniform in size, each of the leaves being about 1.5cm long. They are characteristically flattened, as is normal for a Long Jing. They have a light and sweet aroma, it has a certain creaminess which is similar to that found in a Silver Needle. The leaves are almost all young leaves, just slightly larger than Silver Needle buds.

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

1st Infusion: There is a light murkiness to this tea, as is somewhat typical of some young teas. The color is a radiant green blended with a pale yellow hue. It has a rich and creamy aroma. The flavor is rich and creamy. It is vibrant and refreshing. There is almost a shincha grassy flavor to it. In many ways this tea feels like a blending of a Silver Needle, traditional Long Jing, and a Japanese Shincha.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 45s, 185F

2nd Infusion: This infusion had a light green hue to it. Once again there was a light haziness to the tea, which is somewhat rare to see this nature of haziness on a second infusion. The flavor is much sharper this time around. It lacks the general creaminess of the first infusion. The flavor is very rich, rich to the point of having a bit of an edge from the strength to it. It finishes with a tinge of astringency.

Rating: 10/10

Conclusion: This was quite easily the best Long Jing that I have tried. It's flavor touches some of the best aspects from other teas; creaminess of a Silver Needle and fresh grassiness of sencha. The leaves have a very pleasant look to them and a very uniform appearance. The only downside to this tea is the rather steep price, but seeing as how I have yet to see anything on par with this tea in terms of flavor I don't see any issue here.

Rooibos Vanilla Chai

Tea: Rooibos Vanilla Chai
Vendor: Adagio Teas
Price: $7/4oz
Vendor Description: Masala chai spices in a South African red rooibos base with a hint of vanilla. These spices will dance on your palate while the creamy vanilla rooibos will sing to your soul. Naturally caffeine free for an anytime treat.

Leaf: The leaf for this chai consists of some dried fruit pieces, ginger, cloves, and rooibos of course. There is a very sweet and bold aroma and a definite vanilla feel to the aroma. There is a rather high other to rooibos ratio in this chai mix.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5oz, 185F, 7 min

1st Infusion: This tea has a light murky color to it. It has a sweet vanilla aroma. The flavor is strong and lightly bitter. The clove portion of the flavor is quite prominent, a bit too prominent in my opinion.

Rating: 3/10

Conclusion: The cloves somewhat did this tea in. The flavor was too rich and drowned out the rest of the flavors in this tea. To an extent it felt like I was drinking a mainly clove infusion. This reminded me of the Coco Chai from Mighty Leaf, but instead of the sweetness from the coconut there was a lot of clove flavor here. I prefered the round sweetness of the coconut, but if you prefer a stronger, sharper, and stiffer chai, this is probably a good choice for you.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Decaf Earl Grey

Tea: Decaf Earl Grey - 5400
Vendor: Lupicia USA
Price: $7.50 / 50g
Vendor Description: Decaffeinated tealeaves scented with rich bergamot oil. This decaffeinated tea will not disturb your sleep even if it is drunk before bedtime.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea is a very uniform solid black tea. It has less of an aroma to it than the Grand Classic, yet it still has that distinctive earl grey aroma.

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

1st Infusion: The tea has it's almost floral citric aroma to it, just like other Earl Grey teas. There is a sharp bitterness from the citric flavor blending with the sharpness of a black tea. The bergamont is well defined and not overpowering. It follows through to a trailing aftertaste with the richness of the base tea. In general this tea feels inferior to the Grand Classic.

Rating: 3/10

Conclusion: This tea overall isn't that fantastic. Partly due to being an Earl Grey and partly just on it's own nature. Compared to the Earl Grey Grand Classic it falls short in flavor. This is a decaf tea though if that's what you're looking for. This tea is basically good if you're a fan of Earl Grey and you're looking for a decaf version to enjoy. Otherwise I would suggest the Grand Classic.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Thai Chai

Tea: Thai Chai
Vendor: Adagio Teas
Price: $7.00 / 4 oz
Vendor Description: Silky sweet coconut and playful bright lemongrass highlight this seductive black tea chai blend. Let the aroma draw you in and you’ll swear you hear it beckoning…come closer, just take a sip.

Leaf: This is a traditional orthodox black with some ginger, lemongrass, and coconut. There is a very thick and heavy aroma to this tea. The lemongrass portion of the aroma reminds me of thai food.

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

1st Infusion: This infusion has a lightly murky brown hue to it. There is a distinctive sweetness to the aroma, probably partly due to the coconut. It still has a good chai aroma to it. The flavor is light and lofty. It is not a very deep flavor, but more uplifting. It has no aftertaste and the lemongrass component feeds in a nice crispness to it.

Rating: 5/10

Conclusion: There is nothing terribly spectacular about this tea. Coconut is a nice addition to most chai blends i'm finding, but i'm a bit torn on the notion of the lemongrass. Thai chai tries to be a balance between a sharp lemongrass and a round and sweet coconut addition. Nothing terribly spectacular, but no great faults here either.

Royal Phoenix

Tea: Royal Phoenix
Tao of Tea
$8.75 / 2.5 oz
Guangdong Province, China
Vendor Description:
In some areas of the Phoenix Mountains in Guangdong province, China, there are wild tea plants that remain a source for some of the best oolong teas in the world. Leaves from these old tea trees are prized for the flavor and full body. Making Royal Phoenix oolong invloves precise rolling and baking techniques to fully develop a toasty texture, fragrant aroma and taste similar to nectarines and peaches.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea is a dark brown – black leaf. The leaf is somewhat smaller than other Phoenix oolongs. The leaf is somewhat broken.

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

1st Infusion: The tea has a lightly sweet aroma to it. It somewhat reminds me of a greener oolong. It has a light golden brown hue to it. It has a clear transparency to it. The aroma is sharp with woody tones to it. The flavor has a sharp almost soapy characteristic to it. It also has a medium bitterness to it, which is rather strong for a first infusion. There is no astringency and the flavor is overall somewhat weak.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 45s, 208F

2nd Infusion: This infusion has the same muddled woody aroma to it. It has a very sharp feeling on the tongue. The flavor is overall the same as the first infusion.

Rating: 1/10

Conclusion: This was a rather disappointing tea. For a phoenix aroma it doesn’t have the same characteristic floral characteristic to the aroma. The flavor was too sharp and bitter for a first infusion, and the flavor felt very muddled and confused. It’s not a very good flavor overall and it feels too harsh.