2016 Chocobrick White and Black Tea from White2Tea

For my White2tea order awhile back I purchased the 2016 Chocobricks in White and Black. 100 gram chocolate waffle brick for $15 is a pretty good deal. Let’s dive in!

2016 chocobrick white black white2tea - oolong owl (1)

2016 Chocobrick White Tea

2016 chocobrick white black white2tea - oolong owl (2)

2016 Chocobrick White Tea is a sun dried Yunnan large leaf varietal. White tea always looks great pressed as the leaves look artistic with the mix of fall colours.

2016 chocobrick white black white2tea - oolong owl (3)

2016 chocobrick white black white2tea - oolong owl (4)

So far, this is the worst waffle/chocolate/whatever pressing I have dealt with. It is hard to photo, but the indentations are shallow, plus the pressing is quite firm.

2016 chocobrick white black white2tea - oolong owl (5)

The tight pressing and big leaf made it difficult to break off a piece. I first tried to break a square off, then tried with my flat puer knife to hack at the indentation. I finally managed to snap a row off with angry owl strength, but it also shattered tea all over the place, and managed to give me a tea splinter. Yes, I got tea lodged into my finger. The square I broke off weighed just over 9 grams, which was too much for me to deal with. I tried to use my puer knife again, but with such a thin brick this was asking for more bloodbath. I whittled 2 grams off, so I ended up using 1 gram to 13 ml of vessel size – a little too much leaf for my liking. I will need to go to the scroll saw to cut pieces next time.

2016 chocobrick white black white2tea - oolong owl (6)

I used 200F water temperature, as I like my white teas steeped hot.

2016 chocobrick white black white2tea - oolong owl (7)

First and Second Infusion: The flavor of Chocobrick White is soft and vegetal. The sip is light, but the flavor pops at the end of sip to be a stale aloe, tulips, and linen flavor. The body is lightly creamy.

2016 chocobrick white black white2tea - oolong owl (8)

Third and Fourth Infusion: The compression on the white chocobrick is going to take some time to open up. The flavor is opening with each infusion, fleshing out an agave sweetness, with more aloe, linen, and tulip notes. Chocobrick is pretty smooth and easy daily drinking.

2016 chocobrick white black white2tea - oolong owl (9)

Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Infusion: I got annoyed at the brick taking forever to fall apart, so I went in and split it with my fingers. The tea was still dry inside!

2016 chocobrick white black white2tea - oolong owl (10)

The flavor shifted to a richer, honey note, with some cream and wood. The body is thicker too. Overall this is the best infusions. The color got a nice amber too.

2016 chocobrick white black white2tea - oolong owl (12)

Tenth and Eleventh Infusion: This tea keeps chugging along. The flavor is still heavy, with honey and dry wood. The only change is I am steeping it for around 5 minutes, and there is a bitterness starting. My aggressive steeping has finally caught up.

Twelfth and Thirteenth Infusion: Chocobrick got hella bitter here, doing these infusions at the 10-25min steep time. The flavor was sharp and of wood, medicinal bitterness, with a flat body. I believe I could easily get another infusion if I stove boiled, but I will stop here.

2016 chocobrick white black white2tea - oolong owl (13)

The 2016 Chocobrick White is an easy daily drinker pressed white. It is a pain to break, so maybe not a travel tea unless you saw it up first. I am going to let this one age, maybe it’ll lose some of the bitterness, increasing honey flavor. Though likely the culprit is the higher leaf ratio due to giant squares. I think back to my 2013 Fuding Bai Cha white brick – that one is much sweeter and ready to drink now.


2016 Chocobrick black

2016 chocobrick white black white2tea - oolong owl (14)

Similar in appearance to the Chocobrick white, but black tea. This tea is also sun dried large leaf material.

2016 chocobrick white black white2tea - oolong owl (16)

2016 chocobrick white black white2tea - oolong owl (15)

Chocobrick black was much easier to break – I was able to snap off a square without any issues. The square I broke off turned out to be 10.8 grams! I was able to break off a couple grams, so I rolled with 1 gram to 12ml per vessel size. I used boiled water here.

2016 chocobrick white black white2tea - oolong owl (17)

First and Second Infusion: Chocobrick Black starts off mineral, creamy, fluffy, malty and sweet. The flavor is on the light side but is carried with a thick milky body. The tight compression needs more time to open up.

2016 chocobrick white black white2tea - oolong owl (18)

Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: Chocobrick black chunk of leaf fell apart quickly, finally separating in this steep block.

2016 chocobrick white black white2tea - oolong owl (20)

The flavor is stronger, with a malty background, savory, bittersweet chocolate, with a brisk quality to it. There is a slight dryness to Chocobrick as well. I found Chocobrick black responded very well to silver, as the flavored brightened the malty, and brought out a sweet mineral chocolate flavor.

Eighth and Ninth Infusion: Chocobrick got quite dry and bitter in these last infusions. Without a silver cup, I likely wouldn’t have drunk these steepings. The flavor is malty and bittersweet chocolate.

2016 chocobrick white black white2tea - oolong owl (19)

Chocobrick Black has good early infusions and easy to work with. The notes are great if you love bittersweet chocolate and malty black teas. Chocobrick black would be great for type who like milk teas.

2016 chocobrick white black white2tea - oolong owl (21)

Comments

With the Chocobrick white and black, I feel the squares are too big for a solo drinker for a session. They are difficult to size down from the individual square too. I’d say to treat Chocobricks as an all day daily drinker due to size and flavor profiles. I revisited the Chocobrick black tea and used a big gaiwan and drank a single square for an entire the day. Otherwise, both teas are great to drink in a group. I feel both the Chocobrick White and Chocobrick Black are fine to drink now, but certainly feel free to tuck them away for some aging to see what happens.

Tennessee Oolong from Steven Smith Teamaker

I purchased a box of Tennessee Oolong during my trip to Portland and the Steven Smith Teamaker shop. I didn’t know about Tennessee Oolong until Lazy Literatus informed me that it was released recently and I needed to check it out… if it was still in stock. I’ve tried a couple Steven Smith Teamaker creations, all through friends who either made the trip or were kind enough to spare a bag. I recall the Ice Cream Oolong quite fondly. I was excited to see Tennessee Oolong was still in stock when I made the pilgrimage to the headquarters.

tenessee oolong smithteamaker - oolong owl (1)

Tennessee Oolong was made in collaboration with Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey. This oolong was made with Spring harvest Nantou Jin Xuan oolong that was placed in a whiskey barrel and rotated each day.

tenessee oolong smithteamaker - oolong owl (2)

I also cringed at the price I paid – $39.99 for a 15 sachet box of 52 grams of tea, $0.75 per gram. I could have gotten some great puer for that price. I think I snagged this tea totally on novelty value and interesting pairing as I do not drink alcohol at all. I am familiar with whiskey as I do cook with it.

Dry Leaf

The box is quite nice and sturdy. However, I feel it should have come with a more airtight solution like a jar or tin, so no delicious tea smells could escape.

tenessee oolong smithteamaker - oolong owl (4)

I ended up finding a jar for the Tennessee Oolong for long term storage.

tenessee oolong smithteamaker - oolong owl (14)

Tennessee Oolong smells good! Like sweet milky oolong and booze.

tenessee oolong smithteamaker - oolong owl (5)

Western Style Steven Smith Teamaker’s Tennessee Oolong

I followed the instructions and steeped Tennessee Oolong western style with 190f/88c water for 3 minutes. Steeped up, Tennessee Oolong smells even more like sweet buttery milk oolong and whiskey.

tenessee oolong smithteamaker - oolong owl (6)

The flavor of Tennessee Oolong is incredible. It is brightly flavored, creamy buttery oolong with a slight grassy and floral quality. The whiskey flavor comes out balanced with the oolong, but not alcohol-like. I can even taste a woodsy barrel and caramel in the mix. The texture is heavy smooth and it is easy to go complete ham on this tea and guzzle like it is going out of style. The aftertaste is fleeting but is of whiskey and cream.

I did a 5 minute re-steep. The oolong got a bit sharper in notes, with more vegetal peas but still buttery milky and caramel. The whiskey flavor is still there but as a finish and aftertaste. I did a 10 minute 3rd infusion and it tasted pretty similar to the 5 minute.

tenessee oolong smithteamaker - oolong owl (7)

A final 20 minute infusion was light, a little buttery, sweet mineral, with a hint of whiskey. This is pretty good for western style infusions as I got no bitter or astringency.

tenessee oolong smithteamaker - oolong owl (8)

Gongfu Style Steven Smith Teamaker’s Tennessee Oolong

Since Tennessee Oolong re-steeped well, I figure it might do fine gongfu style. I used 1 gram to 17ml ratio, steeped in 200F water. I did not rinse to hopefully keep the scented oolong taste longer.

tenessee oolong smithteamaker - oolong owl (9)

First and Second Infusion: Holy buttery! Gongfu style brought out the tea more, so it blasts heavy on butter, milk first sip. The back end of the sip is strongly like whiskey and fruity. The aftertaste is whiskey and floral peaches. The body is thick like drinking butter, thicker than the western style.

tenessee oolong smithteamaker - oolong owl (10)

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: Slight shift as the milk oolong and whiskey combination gives off a fruity caramel flavor, like caramel covered peaches.

tenessee oolong smithteamaker - oolong owl (11)

Sixth and Seventh Infusion: I got a bit of dryness here, making my gums feel squeaky. The flavor dropped fast here and needs a longer infusion to get the fruity caramel notes. The whiskey note hits at the end of sip and aftertaste still.

tenessee oolong smithteamaker - oolong owl (12)

Eighth Infusion: I did an extended steep for 15 mins. This got astringent hard, but the flavor is milky and stewed veggies with a finish of peaches. I don’t detect whiskey.

tenessee oolong smithteamaker - oolong owl (13)

The leaves they used look good – a little chewed at the edges, but still full intact leaves.

tenessee oolong smithteamaker - oolong owl (15)

Likely the high gongfu temperature of oolong cooked this tea whereas the western style didn’t. The first 5 infusions were awesome, but after that weren’t as good, whereas the western style got 4 good infusions, though took quite a bit of time as they were very long infusions.  Likely a lower gongfu temperature would be best, but you’ll lose that crazy stick of butter body.

Comments

As much as I don’t drink liquor, dang, Steven Smith Teamaker’s Tennessee Oolong is a good tea. There is so much complexity, despite it being a flavored, plus even western style gives you amazing results. The balance of the milk oolong and whiskey is well done. I’ve had another liquor barrel tea that I felt was too overpowered in liquor to enjoy.

This is yet another tea to point to anyone who thinks flavored teas are the bottom barrel teas. If a tea maker uses quality ingredients, like Steven Smith Teamaker does, puts the time and effort into flavoring the tea, you get magic. I preferred the western style, but both methods will make a good tea.

If you love milk oolongs, caramel profiles, or whiskey, you’ll enjoy Tennessee Oolong. It does some with a hefty price tag, but in the end I am happy that I purchased Tennessee Oolong and will drink again on special occasions. This is a limited edition tea. If you like the sound of Tennessee Oolong, I’d buy it ASAP before it is gone forever.

Replacement Ruyao Gaiwan and Crack Stains

Long time readers likely notice I tend to use the same Teaware.House Ruyao gaiwan for my reviews, which I bought it back in February 2016. I quite like the gaiwan’s heat retention, which I find pushes my teas harder, plus the wide bowl makes viewing the leaves easier. I also try to have my tea reviews neutral, so I prefer a ceremic gaiwan over tea pots, so readers can replicate easier, whereas years of clay seasoning isn’t replicated.

Anyways, the White Ruyao Gaiwan served me well for over a year. I managed to crack the lid on my favorite gaiwan and the lip of another around May.

A post shared by Char (@oolongowl) on

In July, the lid finally fell apart and I didn’t want to use the gaiwan anymore.

A post shared by Char (@oolongowl) on

Ruyao is shard like when broken, so I was finding glaze chips when I handled the lid too much. No, I don’t want to Kintsugi it – this is a $20 gaiwan and I can buy 2 gaiwans for the price of a cheapo questionably safe expoxy + gold eyeshadow kit.

So I did like I always have done when I break teaware – I buy a replacement and a backup. Thankfully, Teaware.house sells extra lids for the Ruyao gaiwan.

A post shared by Char (@oolongowl) on

It was completely worth me buying a new lid as I got a serious crack stain on my gaiwan that I’d like to keep going as long as possible. Now that I have a fresh gaiwan, this is the perfect opportunity to compare a brand new gaiwan to one I have used for a year and a half!

replacement ruyao - oolong owl (6)

replacement ruyao - oolong owl (5)

I also purchased a Large Stainless Steel “Buy It For Life” tea filter. I got a small Teaware.House filters as part of a White2Tea club box awhile back, but I prefer the large size so I can leave a teapot inside while pouring. The punched stainless steel style is easier to clean than the wire style ones.

replacement ruyao - oolong owl (7)

Of all the tea wares, I always recommend to not cheap out on the filter. Buy a good stainless steel one like the Teaware.House one, they are pretty inexpensive. Cheaping out gives you a hard to clean, rusty POS, that after a couple replacements you might as well have bought the $6 one in the first place.

replacement ruyao - oolong owl (1)

I also snagged this cute Natural Ruyao Yashou cup to hit free shipping. This one looks like it will have a long way to go to crack and stain.

replacement ruyao - oolong owl (2)

replacement ruyao - oolong owl (3)

Spring 2017 Organic Chingjin Gaoshan Oolong from Tillerman Tea

It is time to check out Tillerman Tea‘s 2017 Spring teas! First up, Spring 2017 Organic Chingjin Gaoshan Oolong. This tea is an unroasted Qing Xin oolong from Chinjin Mountain and grown at 1800m.

2017 spring chingjin gaoshan tillerman teas - oolong owl (1)

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

Well, this is gorgeous leaf. The oolong is emerald giant lumps of leaves with a floral buttery scent.

2017 spring chingjin gaoshan tillerman teas - oolong owl (2)

I went with a fast pour tea pot and 1 gram of leaf to 15ml of vessel size. To not mess around, I started with flash steeps with boiling water.

Tasting of Tillerman Tea’s Spring 2017 Organic Chingjin Gaoshan Oolong

2017 spring chingjin gaoshan tillerman teas - oolong owl (3)

First and Second Infusion: Tillerman Tea’s Spring 2017 Organic Chingjin Gaoshan Oolong is buttery and thick. The notes are crisp and sweet, like pine, fresh corn, and daisy. The aftertaste is a lingering sweet buttery fresh corn.

2017 spring chingjin gaoshan tillerman teas - oolong owl (5)

Third and Fourth Infusion: The Gaoshan got more crisp and sweet. The flavor is heavy in sweet, buttered snap peas with a clean tulip aftertaste. I am impressed how clean and crisp this oolong is.

2017 spring chingjin gaoshan tillerman teas - oolong owl (4)

Right away, I could feel the energy in this oolong. It has me elevated feeling and I am ready to take on the day.

Fifth and Sixth Infusion: Yet another flavor shift, what an adventure! Spring 2017 Organic Chingjin Gaoshan Oolong became more floral, tasting clearly like juicy tulips and daisies, with an aftertaste of fresh herbs. There is a slight astringency here but is still pleasant.

2017 spring chingjin gaoshan tillerman teas - oolong owl (7)

Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Infusion: With each infusion, the flavor got more vegetal and herby, building on astringency until the flavor slipped and got overpowered by bitterness, as this tea just got cooked to death by my reinfusions. Despite the bitterness, the aftertaste was still very fresh until the end.

Wow, look at the size of these leaves! Awesome!

2017 spring chingjin gaoshan tillerman teas - oolong owl (9)

2017 spring chingjin gaoshan tillerman teas - oolong owl (10)

Comments

Tillerman Tea’s Spring 2017 Organic Chingjin Gaoshan Oolong is an excellent gongfu tea to show the power of high leaf and multiple infusions. This tea goes for a ride, changing flavors fast, but staying true to tasting clean and fresh. If you love high mountain oolongs or green teas with a crisp buttery vegetable taste, you need to try this oolong.

With all the Tillerman Teas I’ve tried so far, their higher priced offerings are impressive.

(tea provided for review)

2016 Wuliang H from Essence of Tea

I was making an Essence of Tea order for a white tea I sampled and had to have. To hit free shipping (because that is not hard), I snagged the 2016 Wuliang H cake. Yes, I blind caked this to hit free shipping. I asked many tea friends, checked a few reviews, so I felt confident in this purchase. However, why did I buy the 2016 when 2017 Wuliang H is out? Well, 2016 is a 200gram cake. The 2017 cake is 400 grams, which is just too much for me to blind. Someone else said the 2016 cake is better, plus this had a year to settle. However, Essence of Tea was smart to include a 2017 Wuliang H sample, which I will try later.

2016 wuliangh - essence of tea - oolong owl (1)

Dry Leaf and Steeping Instructions

Wow, what a good looking cake! The leaves are full and twisting throughout.

2016 wuliangh - essence of tea - oolong owl (2)

Upon closer inspection, they beengholed this cake so hard that there is a hole within the hole.

2016 wuliangh - essence of tea - oolong owl (3)

You do not need a puer pick for this cake, I was able to wiggle out chunks with just my fingers.

2016 wuliangh - essence of tea - oolong owl (4)

I went with 1 gram to 15ml of vessel size. Since I broke my working gaiwan lid, I’ve felt stranded. I will be using my kyusu that I got from Tea Fest PDX. It pours close to a gaiwan as it is quite fast, but likely a bit of influence. I used boiling water as I just didn’t care. Let’s just beat up this Essence of Tea puer from the start to see what they got.

2016 wuliangh - essence of tea - oolong owl (5)

Tasting of Essence of Tea’s 2016 Wuliang H

2016 wuliangh - essence of tea - oolong owl (6)

First, Second, and Third Infusion: Wuliang H sips in light with a building flavor. The flavor is mineral crystal rock sugar, with some sips a bit more savory like pan scrapings I should have deglazed. The texture is like an egg custard, heavy and sloppy, liquidy in some parts put chunky thick. The aftertaste is stone fruit and floral.

2016 wuliangh - essence of tea - oolong owl (7)

Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: Wuliang H is shifting, building up a thicker body. The flavor is brighter, with mineral amber and rocks but the texture is heavy custard. The tea coats the mouth like plastic. The aftertaste is most of the flavor, being clean, stone fruit, and stale floral.

2016 wuliangh - essence of tea - oolong owl (8)

The body feel hit at the fourth infusion. I actively felt like my eyes were joining to make me a cyclops, as I felt an odd sinus pinch. It also hit my throat and gut fast. I spent a little too much time googling “cyclops owl” and laughing. Hoot Clycops hahaha! Wuliang H is a mule kicker. By the sixth infusion, my head felt like it was full of stuffing.

2016 wuliangh - essence of tea - oolong owl (12)

To Snapchat!

Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Infusion: The flavor took a dip here, so I had to steep a little longer than I usually do here at about 1 minute. The flavor and texture aren’t changing too much, it is quite consistent and clean. The whole sip experience is quite clean, bright, with a breathy flavorful aftertaste that doesn’t end.

2016 wuliangh - essence of tea - oolong owl (9)

Wuliang H’s flavor reminds me of white gum balls – that slick sweet outer beeswaxed surface before you chomp down. Interestingly, this sheng is not bitter or dry. I feel a little squeaky toothed, but the body is so thick that if there was bitterness, it is protected by a latex tool-dip mouth. I am completely whacked out and feeling creatively and courageously manic. I am also hot flashing and I hope it is just the tea.

Thirteenth and Fourteenth Infusion: I did 10 minute infusions for both. Really, I shouldn’t have bothered with the final infusion as 13th went bad bitter. The notes were consistent to the end, but the long infusion and pent up aggression just finally cooked the goose. I also got a darker tea colour.

2016 wuliangh - essence of tea - oolong owl (10)

Likely a 200F/93c might of got this going a touch longer, or simply accepted infusions of less and less flavor until it finally died. I am completely hyped and crazy feeling, feeling like someone is pinching my cheeks, ruining my highlighting makeup game. Thought with all this hot flashing and sweating, likely I do not need highlighter to bring out my cheek bones.

2016 wuliangh - essence of tea - oolong owl (11)

Comments

2016 Wuliang H from Essence of Tea kicks back. The tea is pleasant and can a beating of boiling temperatures and fairly hearty. The overall flavor is light and clean, plus isn’t complex or change despite gongfu cha style, but really you are drinking it for the heavy texture, long never ending aftertaste, and energy. However, if you love clean tasting sheng, you will be amazed by Wuliang H. It is very light on the astringency, and only got bitter when pushed at the end.

I am not sure a good application for this tea – it is fairly easy drinking and not too complex to make an event out of, but riding the aftertaste and energy is too much for a work tea. I do think it would be a good tea to show the power of sheng of good multiple infusions.

I paid £37.00 ($48 USD at the time) for 2016 Wuliang H 200 gram cake. I feel this price is pretty good for what you get and a safe purchase.

By the way, what does the “H” stand for? Hoot? It must be Hoot, why would it be anything else?

Sunday Tea Hoots 32 – Life is Like Animal Crossing

I was on my evening walk with my husband and I saw a falling meteor. My husband joked that I should make a wish. I said, “You think this is Animal Crossing, and I’ll get a coffee table in the mail tomorrow?”

Earlier that day I was thinking about how I wanted to relocate my tea drinking to another room. I feel disjointed from my tea stash as my tea stash is split up into multiple rooms, and I drink tea in the kitchen, which has a surface to put my tea table on. My stash is split up because my pumidor didn’t like the cold room that the main stash is in. And the rest of the stash is split due to being disorganized from upcoming house renovations. However, I thought if I had at least a coffee table I could relocate my tea drinking to where most of my tea stash is and just move everything there, except for the pumidor.

If you are not familiar with Animal Crossing, it is a Nintendo video game series where you move into a town full of animals and live, with time passing like real life. You make money to pay off your mortgage and decorate your house. Many things are seasonal, so if you play all year round you will be able to catch all the bugs, fish, and dig fossils to donate to the town museum…. that is run by owls.

Blathers_-_Animal_Crossing_New_Leaf

Blathers likes dinosaurs

The game is cute and open ended. In the Wild World and New Leaf version, if you see a falling star and hit the action button, your character will make a wish. The next day, you get a piece of furniture in the mail from Wishy the star.

The next day, my husband came home with this:

sundayteahoots 32

A hardwood coffee table! It is actually was clean and in good condition other than a few scratches and some bubbles in the veneer top. He found it with a free sign close to the house. I can finally move all my tea things to this room and have tea on the coffee table, rather than standing at a kitchen island. Oddly, I am more used to drinking tea while standing, I am still getting used to sitting and having tea when I am in shops or with groups. In the end, life is like Animal Crossing.

 

Matcha Ninja Cold Brew Matcha

If you follow my matcha reviews, I can be pretty unforgiving about matcha. Honestly, the concept of “Cold Brew Matcha” was a laugh to me. There is nothing stopping anyone from just adding matcha powder to ice water and call it cold brewed. There is no brewing time with matcha, it is already ground up and an instant product. I drink cold matcha all the time when I’m lazy, it is hot, or I got crappy matcha, as cold brings out the sweetness.

I came across Matcha Ninja, who makes cold brew matcha, and had a question for them. I asked Matcha Ninja what made their matcha so special and cold brew-able vs regular matcha.

Matcha Ninja - oolong owl (1)

Matcha Ninja said their use selected de-stemmed tencha leaves and do a longer, finer ground than other matchas. This extra grinding and lack of stem make for a more water soluble matcha. I had a sample and felt it tasted fine. Matcha Ninja is also organic matcha, but is a Zhejiang, China source. Their tea is also heavy metal and pesticide tested.

I got a 1.5 gram sample packet to do EVIL comparisons with. As far as I can tell, their website just sells a 70 gram bag.

Matcha Ninja - oolong owl (2)

Matcha Powder Comparison and Preparation Method

The powder color is meh as it is unsaturated and a bit chalky.

Matcha Ninja - oolong owl (3)

For our comparison, I pulled out a pretty good matcha from my stash. I won’t say which one, but is one I personally drink. You can see the colour difference. This is an unfair comparison as Matcha Ninja goes for about $0.50 a gram and is an organic Chinese matcha, whereas comparison matcha is $0.93 a gram and a Japanese matcha, not organic. Non Organic matchas tend to be much more green.

Matcha Ninja - oolong owl (5)

The Matcha Ninja powder does feel pretty darn silky and smooth. I felt up my other matcha and it was clumpy.

Matcha Ninja - oolong owl (4)

For the comparison, I used equal amounts (1.5 grams) and about 6-7oz of water. I did not sift the comparison matcha to be fair. I shook each one for 20 seconds. Matcha Ninja did not clump or nor have floaties.

Matcha Ninja - oolong owl (6)

matcha ninja 1 - oolong owl

Tasting of Matcha Ninja Cold Brew Matcha

Matcha Ninja’s flavor is quite strong. It is a sweet grass and slight herb profile with a hint of bitterness. I can tell if I made this matcha hot it would be quite grassy and bitter. It was pretty easy drinking, and the bottom of the cup had no sludge, clumps, or thickness. Matcha Ninja was right – it is quite finely ground and no clumps.

Matcha Ninja - oolong owl (10)

I then realized our comparison matcha is very unfair in regards to taste and quality.  The comparison matcha looked and tasted better, but was clumpy, lumpy, and I was spitting out floaters often. When I do iced matcha I often use a blender bottle, which the whisk does a good job breaking up stuff, or I sift. I cringed at the amount of waste of expensive matcha that was on the bottom of the cup.

Matcha Ninja - oolong owl (11)

Let’s try this again, I repeated the same ratio and shaking, but I sifted the comparison matcha. This time there was no floaters, but when I got to the bottom I had small chunks and sludge. That said, Matcha Ninja has this more expensive matcha beat on water solubleness right out of the gate.

Matcha Ninja - oolong owl (12)

Comments

Matcha Ninja is ideal for those who purely drink matcha iced or “cold brewed” as there is no sifting required and it mixes perfectly with cold water. Flavor wise it is okay and on the high side for the quality, but you are likely paying that extra for the additional processing to make the matcha more finely ground for your convenience, plus organic and testing.  If you really hate floaters in your iced matcha, Matcha Ninja is for you. In addition, if you have concerns about your tea’s origin – Matcha Ninja also is organic, tested for heavy metals, and they’ve gone out of their way to ensure a radiation free source. However, if you only care about flavor and cost, there are better matchas out there.

Matcha Ninja - oolong owl (9)

One critical concern I have is Matcha Ninja is sold in 70 gram size right now. 70 grams is a lot of matcha to get through, and if you don’t go through it fast enough whether fridge storage will make it clumpy. I do think the 1.5 gram prepackaged packs are very convenient for Matcha Ninja, making it perfect for on-the-go cold matcha, but I don’t see those online.

 


(free tea I snagged at World Tea Expo that wasn’t specificed for reviewed but I reviewed it anyway | Amazon affiliate links)

2017 Big Green Hype Sheng Puer from White2Tea

The July White2tea club tea was a whole 200 gram cake of 2017 Big Green Hype, which is part of their new 2017 Spring teas. Yay, I like previews and samples of brand new teas as it gets me hyped for what is to come!

2017 big green hype - white2tea- oolong owl (2)

2017 big green hype - white2tea- oolong owl (1)

2017 Big Green Hype features a clean logo on fancy textured paper.

2017 big green hype - white2tea- oolong owl (3)

Leaf and Steeping Method

When Hype arrived, it was overly fragrant and fruity, but also warm and swampy from sweating in bubble wrap during the long ship time. I aired the cake out for a few weeks. Big Green Hype looks pretty good and has a moderate compression so you need a tea knife to pry off pieces.

2017 big green hype - white2tea- oolong owl (5)

2017 big green hype - white2tea- oolong owl (4)

Up close, you can see the odd green leaf on the cake.

2017 big green hype - white2tea- oolong owl (6)

My usual gaiwan is out of commission, so I went with fast pour tea pot. I used 1 gram of leaf to 15ml of vessel, flash steeped in boiling water. The hot leaf smells like hot summer orchards, mixed of grassy fields and hot fruit in the sun.

2017 big green hype - white2tea- oolong owl (7)

Tasting of White2Tea’s 2017 Big Green Hype Sheng Puer

First and Second Infusion: Big Green Hype’s flavor is light, soft cute notes of straw. The texture is loose – it is trying to be heavy, but it’s more like unset jello. The aftertaste is a sweet peach. It is really light and on the watery side.

2017 big green hype - white2tea- oolong owl (9)

Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: Slowly Big Green Hype is building flavor. I am getting notes of hay and sweet peaches, with the aftertaste being stronger and more fruity each round. The texture is still a sloppy jello feel in the mouth. There is a slight astringency making my teeth feel slick and clean.

2017 big green hype - white2tea- oolong owl (8)

2017 big green hype - white2tea- oolong owl (10)

Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Infusion: Hype hit “got cooked” mode as my boiling steepings and re-infusions finally beat the leaf. I am getting some bitterness mixed with the fruity flavor makes it taste like I am eating peach pits. The aftertaste is also peach pitty. The texture picked up here, feeling nicely slick and heavy.

2017 big green hype - white2tea- oolong owl (11)

The last infusion died in flavor and the bitterness took over.

2017 big green hype - white2tea- oolong owl (12)

Comments

2017 Big Green Hype is a light, easy drinking, fruity sheng with a moderately heavy body, fine aftertaste, with later infusions of bitterness. If you are new to sheng, likely Hype would be a safe choice. However, at this time, this tea is a month old. I think the lightness will tighten up with time. If I wasn’t on a schedule and didn’t have a whole bunch of people asking for a review of Hype, I would have waited another month or two to drink this. So far it reminds me of the time when I drank the 2015 Pin when it came out, and it being very light. That said, I keep meaning to revisit a number of my once young teas and put my new observations to an Oolong Owl article.

Either way, White2Tea’s 2017 Big Green Hype Sheng Puer is an affordable $35 cake that is a solid drinker without any notes one would find offensive (not counting boiling it to a bitter death at the end).

Teabook Travel Tea Tumbler Review

The travel tea tumbler geek Owl strikes again. Today I will be reviewing the Teabook Travel Tea Tumbler. I have used this tumbler regularly for a few months, so it has been tested thoroughly by picky owls. I bring my tea with me almost every time I go out, so my tumblers get quite a bit of use.

teabook travel tea tumbler - oolong owl (1)

teabook travel tea tumbler - oolong owl (2)

Teabook Travel Tea Tumbler Stats

  • 9.5oz / 280ml volume.
  • Double walled glass body.
  • BPA-free plastic parts.
  • Stainless Steel Filter in the cap and is removable for cleaning.
  • Hand Strap
  • Extra washer included
  • Arrives packaged securely in bubble wrap and a box

teabook travel tea tumbler - oolong owl (3)

teabook travel tea tumbler - oolong owl (11)

Teabook Travel Tea Tumbler Pros

Sturdy Fit and Feel – The feel of the tumbler is nice – it feels solid. The lid is firm and the metal accents keep it from an impact. I can’t owl strength squeeze the lids like other plastic lid tumblers. The width of the tumbler is perfect, narrow enough to hold securely and feel comfortable to carry for awhile. This tumbler easily fits car cup holders.

teabook travel tea tumbler - oolong owl (8)

Nice to drink from – The inner lip is nice and narrow, making it easy to drink from. As much as people hate plastic, the plastic lid doesn’t burn your lips when you sip boiling tea. The threading on the cap doesn’t bother my lips either.

teabook travel tea tumbler - oolong owl (4)

No Leaks – Despite my experience of similar double capped tumblers, surprisingly the Teabook Travel Tea Tumbler doesn’t leak as long as both lids are on securely. The Teabook travel tea tumbler has been upside down in my purse many times have I have had zero leaks.

teabook travel tea tumbler - oolong owl (10)

Teabook Travel Tea Tumbler Cons

You need to remove the filter cap before filling with water – Leave it to someone lazy like me to complain about this. You cannot add water with the filter on as it overflows instead of draining into the body of the tumbler. I have experience with these styles of infusers, but all my tricks cannot get around the problem of the filter slowing the water flow to a crawl. I tried using a narrow and high stream of water, tilting the tumbler, and pouring slowly with no luck. My guess is the filter is just too narrow.

teabook travel tea tumbler - oolong owl (9)

The only way to fill the tumbler is removing both lids.  This annoying feature might play into why this tumbler doesn’t leak.

Ensure tightness of lower twist cap + hold lower cap while untwisting the top lid –  I had an incident and it is likely mostly my fault, with a slight part design fault of it having a single thread to close the lower filter cap. I was in the car holding the Teabook travel tea tumbler with my knees. I went to untwist the top lid one handed, which annoyingly is enough force to untwist both caps, which caused the tea to burn my feathers and give me a wet butt car ride. Take care with unscrewing the top by always using one hand to hold the bottom lid while you untwist the top.

Plastic scent – The plastic washers inside the lids have a strong chemical smell in the brand new bottle. Hand washing didn’t help however I found just overpowering with tea did the job in two weeks. A run through the dishwasher might kill the scent too. I didn’t notice any flavor effects as these washers don’t directly sit in tea, but if you are greatly attuned to scent you will notice.

Other Considerations

Cannot Remove Leaf – Teabook Travel Tea Tumbler is a grandpa brewing style, leaving the leaf in. Your tea will over steep if you do not adjust or don’t use “bomb proof” teas. If you hate over steeping, take awhile to drink tea, or drink sensitive teas, I would opt for a different tumbler that has a removable basket. You can also change how you brew by using a little less leaf or a touch cooler water to try and avoid bitterness. You can also use the tumbler as an impromptu tea pot and pour into a cup.

Filter Holes are a little big – The Teabook Travel Tea Tumbler steeps and filters tea so you don’t eat a leaf on most loose leaf teas. However, the filter holes are a little big for herbals, CTC, and rooibos. I steeped some rooibos here and poured it into a pitcher, this is the result.

teabook travel tea tumbler - oolong owl (13)

What you get in return is an easier to clean removable stainless steel filter instead of a janky metal mesh that will degrade, fall apart, and harder to clean. I think it is a good tradeoff, but this feature will depend on your personal tea drinking habits.

teabook travel tea tumbler - oolong owl (5)

Hand Strap – I think the hand strap is handy, but if you want to remove it you’ll have a big plastic wart sticking out the side. The strap is non-adjustable (as far as I can tell) made with that slippery woven nylon material that will fray and fuzz with time.

teabook travel tea tumbler - oolong owl (6)

I like the hand strap myself, it gives extra security plus fits small owls.

teabook travel tea tumbler - oolong owl (7)

Glass – I am a broken record with glass tumblers. Glass will not keep your tea hot for more than an hour or two. They cannot take a drop or big bumps as double wall glass is very fragile. Despite the Teabook Travel Tea Tumbler feeling very sturdy, I know at least 4 people who have broken or cracked theirs. If you want a tea tumbler that will stay hot for long and will survive a fall, get stainless steel.

Plastic – To cover the anti-plastic readers – assuming the tumbler does not invert, the tea is not steeping in plastic. Drinking and flipping will have contact with the BPA-free plastic. Another consideration is over time plastic fittings will start to stink and leach smells and tastes into your tea, especially if you are not vigilant in thorough cleaning. Some of us tea types are in the habit of just rinsing (maybe), but get into a routine of cleaning it with unscented soap and washing under the washers often to extend the life. Besides breakage, most tea tumblers retire because of stinky lids that weren’t cleaned regularly.

Comments

Teabook Travel Tea Tumbler is an excellent and sturdy double walled tea brewer that preforms well. I love that it does not leak, and the issues it has are minor and can be worked around. The only deal breaker I can see is the filter holes are a little big for those who drink rooibos, but the trade off is better quality metal. If you love double wall glass tumblers and drink grandpa style, the Teabook Travel Tea Tumbler is the best one out there right now.

The Teabook Travel Tea Tumbler is regularly priced at $24.99 USD, which is fair for the quality you get. I’ve checked Teabook‘s site and heard on social media a few times seeing the tumbler on sale to $12.99, which is an awesome price.

teabook travel tea tumbler - oolong owl (12)

Teabook also does a monthly tea subscription, loose leaf teas, and puer. Stay tuned for more reviews!

(teaware provided for review | affiliate links)

Hooty Tea Travels – Tea Fest PDX 2017 in Portland Oregon

Tea Fest PDX was the very first tea festival in Portland, Oregon held on July 22, 2017. I visited Portland for the weekend to experience Portland, go to the tea festival, and eat various foods.

I arrived in Portland the night before the festival, enjoying the evening of dinner and donuts. We went to the famous Portland sign…

teafestpdx2017-oolongowl

and Voodoo Doughnut. The Buttermilk Bar was my favorite despite me being a big Crueller fan. Sorry Americans, you cannot beat a Tim Hortons Honey Crueller.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (1)

I arrived Saturday morning of the Tea Fest PDX right as they opened at 9:30 am. To my surprise, the line to pay to get into the tea festival was around 30 minutes. Right away, I spotted Mr. Lazy Literatus, so the wait to get into the festival was not boring.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (2)

Tea Fest PDX had 29 vendors planned for attendance, which is an impressive showing for the first year, especially compared to Los Angeles International Tea Festival having the same amount of vendors but have multiple years under their belt. Tea Fest PDX had a diverse listing of classes, many sold out of what was reserved online.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (42)

Before I show photos of the booths, I need to add a premise to this tea festival experience. With the impressive vendor listing, huge line to get in, and sold out classes, Portland desperately needed a tea festival is an understatement. It felt Portland needed a tea festival years ago. Once inside the festival, it was crazy mob busy. The main area, which was 3 columns of tables, was jammed with people. The main corridor of vendor booths we dubbed the tea gauntlet – it was a wall of bodies from start to finish, slowly moving. Vendors with samples (which were many of them) were even more jammed with people. The least gauntlet side, which was more open, a couple vendors had queues to get a sample or to get into the booth. I got to walk by most vendors, but I missed some on the other side of the gauntlet as entering that chaos was crazy. Vendors were swamped, it was difficult to ask questions as there were many other people there trying to sample, purchase, and also ask questions. They had 4 spots doing sit down gongfu and I wanted to join but there was never open spaces or I was told to come back in 45 minutes.

This Owl likes to complain, but the crowd was a positive thing – Tea Fest PDX did very well, simply amazing for their first ever tea festival. I wasn’t mad at all – the crowd was a good thing because dang.. lots of people love tea! This was the first of many tea festivals in Portland, and I will be back and will see anything I missed. I heard through the rumor mill they expected one number, but planned for double just in case – the crowd in attendance was greatly more than planned.

Hoot! Let’s walk through Tea Fest PDX 2017!

First booth I saw was Steven Smith Teamaker who had four teas for sale. The Ali Shan Oolong was quite good. I didn’t linger too long here as I was planning to visit their physical location later, where I know they had more stock and selection.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (3)

Astoria Tea Company was interesting – they carried a diverse selection of tea including puer, chaga mushroom, and traditional Russian herbals. I tried the “Ivan Chai” willowherb tea, but it was just too medicinal and sweet for me. Their puer caught my eye but I couldn’t get info on the region(s) they carried. They had a Papua New Guinea white tea!

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (4)

Tea Dogu carries Japanese matcha tea ceremony gear. What caught my eye was the traditional sweets and gorgeous teaware.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (5)

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (6)

Mizuba Tea Company is one I have heard of before from the local bloggers. Mizuba Tea Company specializes in Matcha. They have various grades of matcha, teaware, and cool matcha things. The heat must of been getting to me as I didn’t purchase the Matcha nail polish or lip balm, but I did buy a cute pin.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (8)

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (7)

Jonathan Steele Ceramics had amazing, handmade pottery.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (10)

WOW, this glaze!

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (11)

Gorgeous small gaiwans!

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (12)

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (14)

Tiny gongfu tea pots! You can tell that the artist is a tea drinker.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (13)

I resisted the tea cups, as I have my Silver cup which is just too good. The gaiwans were very tempting, but I managed to walk away with regret. The gaiwans were just perfect.

Young Mountain Tea had an impressive showing. I end up talking about them every time I see them at other festivals and World Tea Expo. The Nilgiri Green Sword was quite good.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (15)

Chariteas I met years back at a World Tea Expo where I recall the owner sourced small farm Indonesian teas. Their line up looked bigger, but all I got was photos to the side as their booth was swamped. Chariteas also has a cafe in Sandy, Oregon.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (17)

The Jasmine Pearl Tea Company had hilarious tea mugs! They also carried good looking silicone cups. They should do a gaiwan for types like me who keep breaking theirs.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (18)

Plum Deluxe was in the house! I have reviewed them a couple times as they do tea subscription, fresh blends. I got to the corner of their booth, the other side was pouring samples and they were swamped. They were in maximum gauntlet area, I tried to visit twice to say hi but it was madness.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (19)

The Northwest Wu-Wo Tea Association caught my eye on the online classes as they had a free class. They were also selling kits and had free information on the ceremony. WuWo is a style of tea ceremony. The best way to explain this tea ceremony is to watch the video. I found the Wu-Wu tea ceremony interesting, but I didn’t get it either. I’m not one for meditation tea things, and due to forced solo tea drinking, when I participate in social tea gatherings I rather take advantage of having other live humans to talk tea.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (20)

Pearl Soda Company has tea sodas! This was one of the really busy booths with a queue just to sample. This is as close as I got and I cropped the hoot out of this photo. What I tried was pretty good, with distinct tea and fruity flavor.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (21)

Teabook had a good set up. I tried an awesome white tea from young puer bushes. Teabook had pretty awesome tea deals too. The puer cakes were inexpensive and they had a fantastic 2 for $15 deal on loose leaf.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (22)

Away from the gauntlets and at the back of the festival was a parked van and a trailer – both equipped inside with tea tables for intimate group gongfu sessions. I wanted to participate, but both had long wait times mostly due to gongfu sessions being naturally long.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (32)

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (29)

Rabbit’s Moon Tea Arts had an excellent section of puer cakes and tea ware.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (23)

I loved their natural stone tea cups and hand made gaiwans – all in the perfect size.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (26)

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (24)

This beauty caught my eye – hand made kyusu with Oregon clay, made in Olympia, WA.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (25)

I lasted till about 11:30. I had seen everything, nor wanted to wait in the heat for a chance to sit and have gongfu, plus I was ready for lunch. I bought a tea egg to snack on but otherwise, the food selection was small and in limited quantity. After Tea Fest PDX I left for lunch, then did more touristy things like Powell’s Books and my usual yarn tourism of buying local fibers. I later ate dinner with Lazy Literatus, who knew all the good local food (holy hoot $0.25 marionberry pie!).

My last day of Portland I visited Steven Smith Teamaker.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (34)

Steven Smith Teamaker was a really cool space, if I had the time it would have been fun to hang out there for longer.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (38)

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (39)

The tea selection was good. They had a lot more than what was at the Tea Fest PDX, or the times I saw their teas in shops in Seattle.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (41)

I was on a mission for an exclusive barrel scented oolong. Here it is!

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (37)

They also had a tea bar, with the majority of their teas available, but also gaiwan service. Interestingly, they had fun tea drinks like London Fog Nitro, or blends with smoked hibiscus and topped with fruit.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (40)

Portland Tea Haul

Everyone (until they ran out) got a tote bag, a couple samples, a copy of Tea Time Magazine, a bottle of Kombucha, and a tasting cup. I have doubles of everything as Tea-Hating Husband went with me to carry my purchases and meet my tea friends. The tea cups were quite nice.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (49)

The haul! Small but mighty!

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (44)

Tea sample freebies.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (47)

I purchased Astoria Tea Co’s New Guinea white tea, purely on the uncommon factor.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (46)

I got the Teabook White Cloud tea. I was given a Raw Puer to review for the blog. Be on the lookout for a review!

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (45)

I love this cute matcha whisk pin from Mizuba Tea Company! I had to have it!

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (48)

During my trip to Steven Smith Teamaker, I bought the Tennessee Oolong.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (50)

And I purchased that Oregon clay kyusu from Rabbit’s Moon Tea Arts. Notice that this tea pot is LEFT HANDED! This was my favorite purchase of the whole trip, and I’ll write more about the tea pot in a future article.

teafestpdx 2017 - oolong owl (43)

Portland was fun to visit. It felt the whole time that I needed to come back to visit all the Tea Fest PDX vendor’s physical locations in Oregon and have tea with the various pockets of the Portland Tea community.