maandag 8 juli 2013

Origin tea's Shan Lin Xi Yang Zi Wan A&B

Origin tea offers 2 teas from the same area though processed by a different teamaster and roaster. The A-sample seems to be the lightest, creamiest and most refined while the B-sample hits you in the face with it's brutal fruity flavours.
Lets start with the A, it's always the side with the biggest hits!

When I threw in the dry leafs in my warm gaiwan, an intense scent of sweet&creamy cookies with honey came waving by. After the first rinse, they seemed to have faint hints of butter.

The broth had a nice mouthfeel and an excellent balance between fruity and flowery flavours with a nice creamy texture. It had some more oxidation than the previous DYL or Lishan, which really brings out those fruity aspects.  The taste was rather straight forward but still complex enough to keep me interested. Whilst the aftertaste in the DYL/Lishan was extremely intense, this one seemed to feel a bit more 'dried down' and less perfumy. In later infusions it became lighter with a hint zesty citrus aroma. The last 1-2 cups of the session had brandy like qualities which reminds me of Hojo's deep fermented Dong Ding.

Taste wise; I like this tea more than the DYL/Lishan but if we would leave my personal preferences behind, it is clearly in a different quality range. For it's price, merely 12 euros/75g, it is a great tea and one that would be suitable for every day drinking.

The B-side... that's where the gems are to be found! The dry balls - I should really find a more elegant way of describing these- are small, one of the smallest I've seen so far. It seems that most leafs are seperated from their stems.

Once rinsed, it had a similar smell than the A, only it had a more deep fruitiness with hints of caramel. The brew itself gave a sweet malty fragnance remindng me of fresh bread and pineapple.

This one seemed to be quick picky on its leaf/water ratio. If you use too much, the fruity flavours will start to turn bitter - as the flesh of a peach around the stone, if brewed too light it won't give you that intense, juicy, mouth watering fruitiness reminding me of candy pineapple and mango. The A sample seemed to have more focus on the aftertaste, this one has a more interesting flavour profile but lacks the pungent aftertaste, it gradually builds up but stays subtle.

The leafs are tiny and tender with a visable edge of oxidation. I wonder what the reason would be between the difference of the leaf: is it the orientation of the farm? Soil? Harvest date? Different age of teatree?

The verdict: Both teas are great and they are a great example of how a teamaster/roaster can create a different character with teas from the same area with minor proces changes.
A seems to deliver a more 'gaoshan' palate: refined flowery flavours with a long finish.
B is more robustic and a stronger pronounced flavour profile. Both are great teas, teas I'm glad to have in my teacabinet!

dinsdag 2 juli 2013

Lishan Hua gang from Origintea

This tea from Lishan, grown at an even higher elevation than the previous DYL, didn't manage to blow me away but it did deliver a great session that I enjoyed from the beginning till the end. There seem to be a few stems but not nearly as many as with the DYL, the ball shapes also seem to vary from rather tiny to medium-big.
It seems to have a light to almost medium oxidation with a light roast that really brings out the fruity character.

I like gaoshan teas with a medium oxidation, bringing out those sweet,juicy fruity flavours. This one seems to find a nice balance between sweet fruitiness and flowery notes.

The smell reminds me of sweet biscuits with peach and high citrus notes, when it is dried down in the aroma cup it leaves a wonderful sugary pineapple smell. It starts off tasting slightly bitter like the flesh around the stone of a peach. When swallowed it seems to evaporate into a cooling haze of flowers.

The leafs are small but strong and thick, lasting for many brews - making it an equal opponent of the DYL! While its performance was outstanding and there was no major flaw to be found, it's favoured position in my teacabinet is getting endangered by another tea that has been lurking in the shadows to take it's righteous thrown.
Perhaps it might show itself in the next review?

donderdag 27 juni 2013

Origin's tea winter Da Yu Ling

Tea! At last! After a tough exam period and a lovely trip to Budapest, I'm finaly back home with my beloved tea and where better to start than with teachat's praised winter DYL of origin tea. You can smell it's outstanding price/quality ratio from the moment you open the bag, strong flowery aroma which makes my expectations sky rocket. It seems to be rolled fairly loose, with highly visable stems. Tony from origintea told me to brew with ample leaf and it upgraded my tea experience big time.

Time to unleash this (elegant) beast! I've taken tasting notes from every brew but because of the complexity of this tea it is completely useless for others, I'd rather tell you my impressions I had of this tea. It has all of the classic goashan elements: crisp, sweet floweriness with a deep aftertaste and a slightly buttery mouthfeel. The difference is in the intensity of those particular elements. I'm impressed by this tea's everchanging aftertaste that starts of with vegetal green, evolving into an intense floweriness that lingers on in the throat and ending with a dry, peach flavour that seems to last an eternity.

Every brew seems to bring this tea to a new level as new flavours arises. One of the strangest - please, hold your heart for this one- flavours I've experienced in this one has to be paprika and cookie dough. My facial expression when tasting this had to be exactly the same as yours will be right now... it was only there in that particular cup and brew but it was there for sure! I wouldn't have noticed the juicy paprika feeling if I hadn't been to Budapest, paprika seems to be their staple food.

The leafs are looking thick and dark and were able to produce more than 10 brews - I tend to stop counting after 10. So far I've only had 1 session with this tea but I can tell you already that it has a lot to offer. It is a bargain that doesn't come around often and atleast I am not able to resist
Now it's time to try to squeeze out some more tea out of these leafs!

dinsdag 18 juni 2013

Teamania Thai Oolong was so kind to sent me 3 samples of their Thai oolong. I'm always open-minded when it comes to tasting things, so why not give it a go. Thai oolong seems to have a bad name, mainly because it is sold as Taiwanese oolong. I believe that Thai tea can stand on its own, they just need some time to develop their own 'signature'. All of the tea's below are of the 'Royal Project' which offers new oppertunities to farmers to minimize the opium production, not only in tea but also fruits, coffee etc... All of these products are said to be grown organic.
Correction: My humble apologies, it seems that I've been mistaken. These teaproducers started under the royal project but are completely independent family bussines right now.

From these 3 samples there was 1 I liked, 1 that was ok and one I didn't like at all.

The first one is named 'Oolong Black pearls' and is from Doi Mae Salong, Provinz Chiang Rai, Nordthailand. It says it was made from the jinxuan cultivar and oxidated for 100%. I'll make it short on this one: aggressive, overwhelming with an almost synthetical flowery taste. No, this is not my cup of tea. Luckily the other samples are a lot better than this one.

The next one is from the 4 seasons cultiver and the most 'expensive' from the bunch. It's from the same area and is made in the gao shan style with a light roast. It has a nice thick vegetal body with a longering flowery aftertaste. Later on it becomes a bit more fruity with an apricote aftertaste. Quite nice if it wasn't for the fishy aroma which doesn't smell appealing for me. In any case, it's a big improvement on the first one.
This one is already great bang for your buck.

The jinxuan has to be the pinnacle of the 3 samples I received. The aroma is good and so is the taste, it's very classical: nothing special but not bad either. For the price - if I'm correct- a merely 10 euros/200g, it is great! It would be an ideal tea for every day drinking for someone who doesn't want to spend a lot of money.

The quality of the leaves seems to be excellent. It almost solely consists of young buds with 1 or 2 young leafs. They are all quite small and some of them have some red spots because of irregular oxidation. I also noticed they contain less chlorophyl than most Taiwanese grown teas.

I'm to have received the oppertunity to compare these Thai oolongs against their Taiwanese counterparts. It has given better insights in the cultivars as well as in the production proces.
All of them lack a bit in the finesse and elegance the Taiwanese oolong tea provides but what do you expect for such a price?

vrijdag 7 juni 2013

Short break

Dear readers,

As some of you've probably have noticed, I haven't been that active lately.
I'm right in the middle of my exams now and barely have time for tea, and if I do, I don't want to worry about taking notes or writing reviews.

I'll be finished the 26th of June, so expect many reviews over the course of summer.

Thank you for your patient and see you all in a few weeks ;)



vrijdag 17 mei 2013

EoT's half-handmade rou gui 2011

 Yancha... the tea where so many people are lyrical about. A tea that sounded appealing to me, nevertheless it was unable to convince me... until today. What made this breakthrough happen? It's a very simple answer: using more tea. A few days ago, when I tried it with a smaller amount of tea, it left me unsatisfied and regretting the money I've spend. Again, it confirmed my dislike for yancha. Today it was a totally different story. I was preheating my gaiwan, walking around to find some stuff, not really expecting anything of this tea. I threw the rest of my sample in the flaming hot gaiwan, put the lid on and went to check if our wood stove was still burning. Unprepared of what was going to happen in a few seconds, I removed the lid of my gaiwan... and that was the moment when the yancha intoxicated me with its magic, it's beautiful, sweet and fruity magic. After smelling it for I don't know how many minutes, I gave it a rince and started smelling again. If you would be able to capture this smell in a perfume,you would be a millionaire!

The fragnance of this tea was sweet, thick and fruity. When tasting, the smooth roasting felt like a panel, on which were painted other flavours as peach and longan. Couldn't get enough of it, as it warmed my body on this cold, rainy day with it's rich and full flavours. After 3 steeps, its fragnance became more mild and it's palate less complex but still thirst quinching.

Now, lets just pray I can control my hunger for more yancha because I'm quite sure my wallet cannot handle such cravings every day!

zaterdag 4 mei 2013

EoT's TGY 2011 autumn harvest

According to Hobbes, I seem to be one of those 'fascinating girl-man hybrids' who enjoy a refined cup of Tie Guan Yin. TGY seems to have a lot of characteristics we consider feminine, well now I happen to be a healthy, young man with a healthy appetite for woman... or TGY in this case.

On their website it says this is an organic grown Tie Guan Yin - which seems quite difficult to find nowadays- produced from older treas around Yaoyang village in Xiping, Anxi.

It's dry aroma is already pungent and has a lovely lavender touch to it.

Yesterday I already did a small session with this tea, today I decided to throw in the rest of the sample I bought. The gaiwan packed quickly when the leafs started to expand though no bitterness made way to the brew, no matter how long I steeped it. What I like about this particular tea is its amazing aroma, it's so pure and penetrates deep into your olfactory system, resulting in great satisfaction.
It has a thick, full and buttery mouthfeel gradually changing into a subtile, lingering perfum that starts in the throat and goes way up to your nose. It's flavor profile is quite consistent though is able to keep you interested enough with minimal change. Later on it might become a bit more fruity/soapy and the buttery feeling fades away. On a warm day like this, it cools the body, making it a great refreshment during the heat of the afternoon- yes, to me 23-25°C is scorching heat until my body had a few weeks time to adjust.

The leafs vary a lot in size but all of them are stugg and thick, resulting in many enjoyable brews.

As always I'm pleased with EoT their teas, they might not be for everyday drinking, atleast not for me, but I thoroughly enjoy the few occasions I can drink them. They have what I'm looking for: pure, clean and refined teas. I'm sad this session is finished already, going to try to push them leafs for the very last time.