Introduction to Tea In Review
Each Saturday, I will be posting a list of links to each tea, tea vendor, and any teaware I may have reviewed in the past week. Some of these links will be internal to previous posts, but others will be to other sites, like Steepster (for those of you unfamiliar, Steepster is like the Twitter of tea reviews… with more than 140 characters per note).
I will also make an effort to feature at least one of the teas I enjoyed in the course of the week. This will likely result in at least one image that is less amazing than what normally appears on the site, as it will have been taken by myself with the only camera I’ve got… a lowly point-and-shoot Canon!
First, allow me to share with you the list of links so I hope you enjoy the tea reviews from this week!
- White Peony from Two Leaves and a Bud – Thank you so much to Naomi at Two Leaves and a Bud for sending along the free sample of this and the other TLaaB teas from this week!
- Tropical Goji Green Tea from Two Leaves and a Bud
- Organic Jade Oolong from Two Leaves and a Bud
- Dragonwell from The Tea Spot
- Green Tea Tropical from Mighty Leaf
- Organic Earl Grey from Two Leaves and a Bud
- White Peony (Bai Mu Dan) from Tea Vivre – Thank you to Angel at Tea Vivre for this and other TV samples!
- Zealong Black from Ya-Ya’s House of Excellent Teas
- Iron Goddess King from Vital Tea Leaf
- Ripened Aged Pu-erh Mini Tuocha from Tea Vivre
To get things rolling, I would like to feature the Zealong Black tea I was able to sample as an early release tea from Ya-Ya’s House of Excellent Teas. This tea is from a plantation that is somewhat renowned for its oolong teas, and this is their first real black tea produced, as far as I understand (please correct me if I’m wrong, Jo!). Zealong, by the way, is a New Zealand tea plantation (since they’re known for their oolong teas, now you can see where the name comes from, right?)
The cool thing about this black tea (other than being a first for this tea-producing group) is that through Ya-Ya’s House of Excellent Teas, I was fortunate enough to procure an early release of the tea. In addition to the tea, Jo (aka Ya Ya) was kind enough to send along a nice hand-written note and a beautiful print of a photo he took while visiting the plantation.
As for the tea itself, since I recently received it, I was finally able to give it the attention it deserved. The leaves are large, dark, and gorgeous to me. The scent of the dry leaf is full-bodied and sweet. But not sweet in a sugar or fruit sort of way to me. It’s sweet like a handful of grain.
I opted to brew this gong fu style first in a 100 mL gaiwan. Each infusion was around 1-2 minutes (depending on the infusion), so perhaps I will try this again gong fu style with shorter infusions.
The liquor is a deep amber with a surprisingly mellow aroma. It definitely is malty with a touch of barley. Drinking the tea is smooth. There is no astringency or bitterness to my palate. At first, I couldn’t quite identify what I was tasting. It was robust but mellow. There was a heartiness without being too much.
After a while, I realized that tasting this tea reminds me of tasting craft beers. There are a lot of the same flavors working their way through the tea as I have experienced in beer. It’s almost like there’s a very light hoppy after-taste that I find especially pleasant.