Gui Fei Red Oolong from Totem Tea – Tea Review

Totem Tea has two Gui Fei oolongs available in their Leaf-Bitten category, and today’s review is their Gui Fei Red (Concubine Oolong). The package simply says Gui Fei on it, so I was expecting something green and sweet. Upon drinking this tea and checking Totem Tea’s site, this is their Red Gui Fei.  This Gui Fei has a mild charcoal roast treatment.


Dry Leaf and Steeping Instructions

The leaves are rolled dark, with bit a silver. The scent is floral and roasty.


Monster leaf!


So I messed up and thought I had more leaf in my sample. My sample came up 5.5grams, so not enough leaf and I already dumped my leaf into a too large heated gaiwan. I rode with a bit longer infusions and didn’t fill my gaiwan all the way. The ratio here was about 1 gram to 16ml, but hopefully I cheesed it to 12-15ml.

Tasting of Totem Tea’s Gui Fei Red Oolong

Steeped up a pale gold with a strong, mouth watering floral scent.


First and Second Infusion: Totem Tea’s Gui Fei Red sips in sweet with a peach roasty floral. The oolong gets sweeter at the end of sip, with a bit of a woodsy peach essence to it. The texture is heavy and thick. This is not a green gui fei at all!

Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: The colour got more gold!


The flavor is strong woodsy, with a finish of sweet floral peaches, over a thick cream texture. The Gui Fei red is quite heavy in flavor and strongly woodsy, a very meaty tea. The aftertaste is on the soft side and doesn’t linger too long, but what I get is a smooth floral.

Fifth Sixth, and Seventh Infusion: The flavor has mellowed into a buttery wood with a hint of honeyed sweetness. The floral is gone here and the texture is getting thinner and the aftertaste is only a bit of woodsy sap.


Eighth and Ninth Infusion: I fought with long steep times here, finishing at a long 15 minute steep. The texture got thin and feels a little dry but not bitter notes. I was expecting something powdery, mellow and weak, a typical spent oolong taste. The flavor took a big shift and surprised me as it gave off a bright honey flavor accented with some twigs. Honey prints on a tree from a bear? I think I could of gotten one more aggressive steep, but my house now smelled like what is in my pressure cooker so I stopped here.



Totem Tea’s Gui Fei Red is an oolong with a more oxidized woodsy profile. I can see this one being great western or steeped a bit more aggressively with more leaf. I do notice parallels between Totem Tea’s Gui Fei Red and their Ruby 18 as both teas were more robust and meaty than what I’ve tasted in more common Ruby 18s and Gui Feis.

Gui Fei Red is a tea for someone who is wanting an oolong with a floral, full flavored, and light roast profile without the green. I quite enjoyed this one, but now I am eyeing their more expensive Gui Fei Royal with serious interest. Either way, be sure to check out Totem Tea as their tea collection is quite interesting.

(tea provided for review)



Artist Lin Oolong from Stone Leaf Teahouse – Tea Review

Today’s review is an oolong from Stone Leaf Teahouse, a tea house and online seller in Vermont. Stone Leaf Teahouse offered to send me samples and this Artist Lin Oolong caught my eye. Artist Lin Oolong is a small batch, wild looking garden, high mountain spring 2015 Taiwanese oolong.

Stone Leaf Teahouse gave me a coupon code!

luyurikyu888 for 25% off, good until November 30, 2016!


Dry Leaf

The leaf is rolled with stumpy fat stems sticking out. What stood out to me was how shiny and dark the leaf is. The scent is like huffing a stick of butter.


Steeping Instructions

Max leaf time! I also cheated using my trusty Taiwan Tea Crafts Pear Pot, which does magical things to greener oolongs. I leafed pretty hard, using 1 gram to 12ml per volume and boiling water. I did a rinse to get the tea started, then flash steeps.


Tasting of Stone Leaf Teahouse’s Artist Lin Oolong

The tea comes out a low saturated cream yellow. The scent is like nuts and steamed rice.


First, Second, and Third Infusion: Admittedly I took a sip of the rinse as I was thirsty and couldn’t wait. It was good! The first real infusion has a creamy oily lip texture with notes of fresh whole tulips and bright honey. The slick oil texture and combination of notes remind me of pine nuts… those expensive little buggers that I buy in giant bags at Costco to save some sort of money. At first I don’t taste an aftertaste, but it slips in strongly after a few moments or tulips. I love the thick texture that contrasts with the bright floral aftertaste.

Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: The flavor shifts from tulips to sweet lemon citrus. The texture is still thick but is starting to break down going slightly dry. The aftertaste is crisp, bright, citrus sweets with tulips. It is like I brushed my teeth with floral toothpaste as that flavor just sticks forever.


I was too lazy to use a filter, and at this point I lost all the little bits floating around. That colour is bright and nuclear!


Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Infusion: The flavor started to slip so I started to punish this oolong by long steeps, up to 10 mins. Interestingly, despite dancing around being dry, this tea held up and didn’t get more dry than the previous infusions. The flavor is soft and buttery. It has a bit of a breath of tulips until the last steeping was dead.


The leaf expansion was nuts. I had a hell of a time getting the leaf out. Steeped out, Artist Lin Oolong was pretty stemmy but with long perfect leaves with bright green colour.



I was very impressed with Stone Leaf Teahouse‘s Artist Lin Oolong as I enjoyed everything it had to offer – thick oily body, bright and crisp notes, fresh floral, and long aftertaste. If you love high mountain oolongs, especially for texture, buttery, and floral, give this unique Artist Lin Oolong a sample.

Also be sure to check out Stone Leaf Teahouse as they got plenty of teas that are exclusive to them, including puer. Remember the coupon code luyurikyu888 for 25% off, good until November 30, 2016! More reviews to come!

(tea provided for review)

Yuve Ceremonial Matcha – Tea Review

At this point of my matcha drinking life, I’ve reviewed a lot of matcha that I don’t have time for bad matcha. I also seem to have a low tolerance for bad matcha after experiencing so much of it. It seems if I am reviewing a matcha stand alone, it has to be good.

Today’s matcha is from Yuve. They have a website, and sell their matcha on Amazon. The Amazon site for this matcha has a lot of buzzwords like “Superfood/Gluten Free/Raw/Sugar Free/Vegan/Detox/No Lead/More potent than Green Tea Diet Pills”. What information that is useful to us is this is June 2016 batch, Nishio region Japan, and Ceremonial grade matcha.

This matcha is sold in a tin. I like seeing matcha sold in tins, not that I need a tin as I have so many, but it does keep the matcha fresher longer upon opening.


Annoyingly Amazon slapped on a new barcode covering the instructions.


The tin has a pull top for ultimate freshness!


Matcha Powder

I need a second person here who has fingers instead of wings, as when I opened this matcha I got billowing green clouds that I had frantically drop the tin and get my camera.


Yuva matcha has a decent bright green colour with a sweet creamy scent.


By the way, I laugh at how photoshop green Yuve’s promo photo is. I don’t think anything natural is that bright of green. You got a decent green matcha here, you don’t need to photoshop it so fake. Though it seems everyone photoshops their matcha green these days and I’m too busy to ever adjust my own photos.


Preparation Method

I used a water temperature of 160F and 2 grams of Yuve Matcha powder. I used about 4-5oz of water. I sifted the matcha before use and it needed it as it was a little clumpy.

It whisked up easy and frothy, with a grassy green hue. The bubbles are thick and some were fine fuzzy bubbles.


I am using my gorgeous Winter Ocean matcha bowl from Aiya. I find this chawan is the perfect size for whisking and drinking out of, while not feeling like I’m using a soup bowl.

Tasting of Yuve Matcha

This matcha is buttery. It is thick textured, smooth, with a buttery, steamed rice, a hint of marine. The finish is fresh tasting and a little grassy. The balance of flavor is good. This matcha has no bitterness, nor any grainy texture. As it cools the flavor is more buttery and a sweetness. The more I drink the more I notice how creamy and slick the texture is.

The foam breaks up by the time I get to the bottom. The flavor is still pretty good.



I consider Yuve matcha high end as it is $29 for 30grams on Amazon right now. It is probably one of the better matchas on Amazon (so far) for the price. They do have a subscribe and save if you regularly drink matcha. This matcha is made for traditional preparation –  Do not waste expensive matcha for making lattes/sugary drinks. I read some amazon reviews and cringed what people did to $30 matcha. Yuve does sell a culinary matcha, so save some money and buy that or something much cheaper for smoothies and cookies.

What I really like about Yuve is the creamy slick texture and the buttery flavor. I am a texture freak, so I quite enjoyed this matcha and it’ll be one that I would be tempted to purchase when I run out. I think most people would enjoy this matcha as it isn’t strongly marine or grassy, but it does have those elements if you prefer something more sweet.

That said, Yuve is a great $30 bracket matcha sold on Amazon. If you want to go all out and want a good matcha, this is an option. I like this one a bit more than the more expensive Zendori Matcha, but Yuve has tough competition against the delicious Champions DoMatcha/ Ito En/ Yunomi/ Aiya.

(matcha provided for review / Amazon affiliate links)


Pacific Northwest Taiwanese Black Tea Comparison

I’m up to no good. I’ve been collecting Taiwanese Black teas for a rainy day like today. I’m gonna brew a bunch up together and see how it goes. It is thundering outside, as long as I got a mobile data and enough kettle water I’m good.

All the Taiwanese Blacks were obtained from local Pacific Northwest tea sellers – two Seattle and a Portland one. The Seattle teas I purchased in person, and Totem Tea mailed me a sample of their Ruby 18. These are all 2015 teas just to be fair. I have more Sun Moon Lake and Ruby 18 kicking around but they are 2016s.

Our teas, tasted in this order:

Seattle’s Best Ruby ? Sun Moon Lake (I was told this was a Ruby 18 and pointed on the can where it said it. Upon inspection and running google translate it says Sun Moon Lake AND Ruby.)

Totem Tea’s Ruby 18

Floating Leaves Tea’s Ruby 18 (currently sold out online)


Dry Leaf

Seattle’s Best Tea – very sweet scent. I could be mistaken for sniffing a candy bowl instead of tea.

Totem Tea – has a bit more tropical fruit in scent.

Floating Leaves Tea – not as fruity but bit more earth scent.


Appearance wise all the teas look the same. The only difference I found was Floating Leaves Tea looks like it has less leaf despite same weight.

Steeping Method

We are in for a stiff strong Taiwanese Black tea session. I used 1gram of leaf to 12ml of vessel ratio. I used boiling water and did a single rinse. I am in the mood for strong, viking axe swinging black tea. I also figured steeping it strong and boil will push this tea hard, showing its true colours.

Tasting of Pacific Northwest Tea Sellers Taiwanese Black Teas

This isn’t exciting at all – all three teas look practically the same, maybe Totem Tea’s is darker. The scent from each is different. Seattle Best has well balanced earthy fruity sweet scent. Totem Tea’s is the most floral to an almost soapy scent. Floating Leaves Tea is the most fruity and sweet smelling.


First, Second, and Third Infusion:

Seattle’s Best Tea – sweet, earth, balanced, lots of salivating. The background has an excellent fruity flavor dancing around. This tea has a sweet soft aftertaste and a thick body. It also oddly reminds me of peaches and almonds.

Totem Tea – features a sharp flavor of rich wood and earth and fruit, with a tannic dry finish. The tea is quite potent and the texture gives me a dry feeling after each sip wanting me to drink more. The feel is an lip balm oil on the lips.

Floating Leaves Tea – is sweet, woodsy with a mellow fruity background. Sweetest of the bunch and least woodsy. Body is cream thick and smooth to drink.


Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion:

Seattle’s Best Tea – developing a slight crispness and brighter body and creamy body. It is losing some earth, going more sweet, and fruity. The finish is shell nutty and smooth. I love the transition here. The aftertaste is a stone fruity flavor and richness.

Totem Tea – sharp and woodsy. The finish is a strong brisk and fruit dipped in bitter sweet chocolate. I get a lingering fruit flavor and bittersweet after each sip.

Floating Leaves Tea – big flavor shift as the flavor and feel shifted to cool. I sip and I get a cooling sensation as a breath. It is woodsy mostly with a bit of sweet, though the body is still thick. Each steeping gets more and more cooling of a sensation.

Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Infusion:

Seattle’s Best Tea – super well balanced is the theme with this tea. Fruity, woodsy, nutty, sweet, a very enjoyable tea.

Totem Tea – big shift here! Totem’s Ruby 18 sips in quite bittersweet but now I am getting a cooling sensation after each sip. This one is much less fruity than the rest, kinda gives off a mint chocolate vibe. This is like drinking an Andes mint chocolate!

Floating Leaves Tea – The freshmaker! Super cool that I’m getting the shivers. It is woodsy and sweet, but what overtakes everything is how cool feel this tea is after each sip.


Ninth and Tenth Infusion:

I did long infusions here. Likely I can ride all three of these teas to the 15s or so but at this point I’m not feeling good. Too much caffeine at once. My scalp is crawling and all I want to do is snuggle in a chair and eat a tin of corn. I’m going to bang out to 10 rounds and stop before I lose all sanity.

Seattle’s Best Tea – is sugar sweet and fruity. The flavor is nicely bright and deliciously sweet peaches.

Totem Tea – lost its cool, it is just bittersweet and light here. I love the chocolate bitterness quality in this one.

Floating Leaves Tea – is soft sweet, and fruity. Bit of a malty dry finish. This one weaned me off the cooling effects to bring me back to sweet snuggles.



All these teas are good, they each had their own personalities, tastes, and feels. These all go down the personal preference on which one you want to go for. Admittedly I don’t want to get super critical here, these are all local teas!

The Seattle Best Tea was the most balanced flavor and excellent fruitiness that was nicely sweet. I went in thinking this was a Ruby 18, and when I did the final editing I did a closer look and the can does say Sun Moon Lake and Ruby. I found this tea well done but I really missed the cooling effect that I come to associate with Ruby 18 teas that I am thinking this is a REALLY flipping good Sun Moon Lake. It is an excellent tea to sip and enjoy the complexity and shifts inbetween infusions.

At first I felt the Totem Tea Ruby 18 didn’t belong with the group, I’m wondering if this is a different varietal or processing differences than the others as the flavor is very different as it tastes more tannic, malt, chocolate and dry. The Totem tea ruby did get a great cool mint feel by the end. This one had a more classic black vibe to it from the brisk quality. I could see this one westerning very well and an overall more friendly tea for a black drinker. Totem Tea’s Ruby 18 would be the choice for someone who wanted a meaty heavy black experience.

Floating Leaves Tea’s Ruby 18 tastes like it was sourced to be the most cooling. The cooling feel started soon, along with a thicker texture. This tea gave me the most feeling and body experience. However, it was the most mellow and lighter of the bunch. Since I haunt Floating Leaves Tea often, I can certainly taste Shiuwen’s preferences in this tea – she got something with a thick body and strong cooling sensation.

TLDR? #PWN Taiwanese black game is strong.

(Totem Tea provided for review, others were purchased by me)


Bai Ye Varietal Dancong Black Tea Spring 2016 from Yunnan Sourcing

Yunnan Sourcing has all kinds of sales every week. I managed to get sucked in a Dancong sale, feeling the need for some new and interesting Dancongs. I found Bai Ye Varietal Dancong while looking through all the 2016 line and the write up sounded appealing with, “Pronounced baked sweet potato taste…Highly recommended for Dan Cong and Black Tea aficionados alike!” I purchased this tea on Yunnan, and it is sold out. Bai Ye Varietal Dancong is available on Yunnan though. Actually, with this Dancong run I purchased many last bags from the US site.


Dry Leaf

SMELLOVISION STAT! I smelled this tea and it smelled so good that I needed to make it ASAP over the other Dancongs I purchased! It’s super fragrant and plummy fruity. Mouth watering scented. The leaf is fine ashy black twists of tea.


Steeping Instructions

I went with the Dancong special high leaf ratio method, flash steep. I should just fill the gaiwan, but I decided to standardize it a bit for when I went to brew this again. I went 1 gram to 10ml. It looks big in my cup but not so much in the gaiwan. I decided to just run with it than add more. I used boiling water for all infusions.


Tasting of Yunnan Sourcing’s Bai Ye Varietal Dancong Black Tea Spring 2016

Bai Ye Varietal Dancong steeps up a gorgeous clear golden amber colour that looks just like honey. The scent is fruity floral hint punch. Really strong scent, just like the leaf. The fruity smells and clear colour makes me think of wishing it was a delicious jello dessert.


First Infusion: The flavor is fruity, sweet and crisp. The sweetness is like drippy nectar honey. It’s got a bit of echos of Darjeeling malt in the background but there is a killer long lingering fruity floral fragrance after each sip.


Second, Third, and Fourth Infusion: Switching it up fast! The first steep was a warmup. It is smooth sweet potato, crisp, clean, and bright flavor. But end of sip and linger is a strong floral fruity peach note of a dancong oolong. Very good! The texture is on the oily side, making my mouth feel slick. The fragrance is the strongest part of this tea, it isn’t full body despite the high ratio. I wished I simply filled the gaiwan to the brim. The colour got darker with each infusion!


Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Infusion: Bai Ye Varietal Dancong tastes like a creamy sweet potato, a fluffy mash of flavor. The finish is briskly bright sweet and sharp. The aftertaste is a never ending floral. I find this tea an interesting meld of black and oolong and qualities I like in both. Malt, creamy sweet, oily texture, and super aftertaste. I find it complex enough to be interesting, but smooth, sweet, creamy and almost comfort food to mindlessly chug. The aftertaste lingers so long that if you forget to drink it doesn’t matter.


Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, and Thirteenth Infusion: Flavor shift again. The flavor sips in fruity and lightly malt. The Dancong has a sour tinge to it and the body has thinned out but provides a slick lip feel. The aftertaste linger is still present! There is a little dryness sticking to the back of the teeth, but not unpleasant.


And the leaf has blown up. I cannot close it and keep the leaf inside the gaiwan. If I added more leaf I am unsure how I’d be able to use a gaiwan.


Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Sixteenth Infusion: The flavor is almost citrus like due to the sour, yet a creamy mellow background. The fruity aftertaste creeps in slowly and then lingers. This tea is not quitting. I am doing pretty long steeps here, 10 minute plus. I ended up force quitting as it seems Bai Ye Varietal Dancong can just keep going, I likely can flask up a super strong brew, or gongfu 30 mins/hour a few more with the rate it is going.



Bai Ye Varietal Dancong Spring 2016 is a really solid Dancong. Yunnan Sourcing’s is on the money on his description here – it’s a tea for a black and oolong lover. There are qualities in this tea I like from both types of tea steeped up into a single package. My only beef is the last steepings being sour, but that never ending aftertaste is worth it.

This is a good all around tea – really flexible if you got black and oolong drinkers at the table. A western style tea drinker would appreciate it too for the good flavor and lack of dryness. This tea is complex enough to enjoy as a sit down tea, but comfort food and smooth enough to drink daily – plus it’ll likely last you all day. Easily you and drink Bai Ye Varietal Dancong for two days if you roll with a bigger gaiwan, say a 150ml+. Anyways, I can see myself repurchasing Yunnan Sourcing’s Bai Ye Varietal Dancong. With the amount of tea I have, I would likely keep my eye for it next year.


Hooty Tea Travels – Miro Tea, Seattle WA

My visit to Miro Tea was an impulse visit about a month back. Miro Tea is located in the Ballard area of Seattle. I was heading to Floating Leaves Tea, but I arrived excessively early, leaving me to wander around the area. Miro Tea is less than a 10 minute walk from Floating Leaves, so you can easily visit both shops.  For a special treat, walk a few blocks to visit Full Tilt Ice cream for some tea ice cream! Ballard is yet another tea pocket in Seattle, the other being the International District.


Miro Tea was busy and had a coffee shop vibe. They had a big range of interesting teas to buy and some tea ware. I felt really weird snapping photos in a busy shop so these photos were taken with hidden owl cam.

miro-tea-oolong-owl-2 miro-tea-oolong-owl-3

Miro Tea serves food (such as crepes and sandwiches) but what caught my eye was their tea menu. OMG GAIWAN SERVICE! Forget the food, I want gaiwan service!


click to enlarge

Their tea selection is quite big with both unflavored and flavored stuff. Flipping through their tea menu, which was a book on the counter, I learned they certainly have the right teas to gaiwan and quite a bit I would be happy to sample through. They have a nice selection of black teas, some oolong, but surprisingly carried some interesting pu’er. They got a lot of tea to make a traditionalist gongfu cha type happy. I settled on a 2008 Yiwu. They eventually come to your table with a vacuum carafe of hot water, a box tea tray, gaiwan, cup, pitcher, and your tea. CRAP, no strainer! Owl needs a strainer, I’m a feathery mess!


The gaiwan is freaking massive, it is bigger than any gaiwan I’ve ever owned. If I had to guess, this was a 170ml to 200ml gaiwan. I felt they gave me a lot of leaf I regretted not bringing my AWS pocket scale and baggies to doggy bag extras home. Either way, I said, “to hell with it” and dumped in all the tea they gave me.

miro-tea-oolong-owl-6 miro-tea-oolong-owl-7

By the time I figured out my tea and they delivered it to my table, I had 40 minutes left. I’ve had multiple people comment that I drink fast, and for this session I steeped it fast and less water, guzzling tea as fast as I could. Mixed with a high amount of leaf, I was flying fast and having a great game session on the Nintendo 3DS. However the gaiwan was flipping massive so I never actually finished the session to my liking. I figured I had another 2 shorter infusions left, and likely 2 long ones. I likely could of stayed drinking this at a leisurely pace for 2 hours, especially if I had my laptop or company.


Miro Tea’s gaiwan service is totally for 2-3 people. I am not sure if the gaiwan service is intended to be split between people but it should be – this session costed $6-$8, if it was split with a few people that would be a great price!

Also the lack of a strainer made for a huge mess! The puer I got was pretty lawn mowered, so I got a whole lot of mucky slop in the bottom of my cup. I’d suggest going with something more big leafed or not be a nub like me not used to being without a strainer.


I am pretty sure I looked like a weirdo too. Ballard is a pretty interesting area – lots of young couples and hipsters (After I left I walked by a park and watched two moms fighting). Most people there looked pretty local using it as a work and chill spot, sporting pretty yoga gear. I’m sitting there by myself with a stuff owl, a video game, and chugging tea like it’s going out of style. I got ripping tea drunk, sloshy, and stumbled over to Floating Leaves Tea for the next round.

Overall, Miro Tea was a fun visit if you want a coffee shop that has a good appeal to tea drinkers. I would go again if I needed a place to work and drink tea for hours, or bring company to split some food and a tea session. It seems like a great place to hang out with friends, or bring your laptop and chug tea for a few hours!

Oolong Owl Hoots the 2016 Northwest Tea Festival

I attended the 2016 Northwest Tea Festival in Seattle, WA! It was being held October 1 and 2. I was only able to attend the Saturday, but I was there for the entire day from open to closed. It was SO PACKED that my best pictures was after close as there was no huge mass of crowds.


For public tea festivals, I have attended the Los Angeles Tea Festival three times. The Northwest Tea Festival was easily 4 or 5 times larger, attracting long lines for some samples, sold out tastings, and jammed unmovable crowds. It attracted quite a different crowd than the LA tea festival, we got a more variety of people (though a lot of the “Seattle” looking people). The Seattle Center venue was great and there were plenty of bathrooms! My only complaint was the phone reception was terrible, making it impossible to check my messages, and then finally destroying my phone battery in a short time.

Walking through the festival, there was 29 vendors, many of them local. Right away there was a huge contrast of vendors from the LA Tea Festival as there was more kombucha sellers than matcha! There were some great booths by Young Mountain Tea, Rishi, and Harney & Sons.

However, lets focus on the local tea sellers, starting with Crimson Lotus Tea. I lurked repeatedly at this booth, purchasing stuff three separate times in a single day. I really enjoyed the tea booths that had a place to sit down and have tea together. They also had an awesome wooden table with built in drainage system!


Crimson Lotus had some awesome goodies that I didn’t know they still had available, such as a giant mound of Planet Jingmais!


Silver tea pot glamour shot!


Waste bucket! It was very tempting to sip from the Crimson Lotus waste bucket! I would of put a vote for them having the most tasty of waste buckets, but I didn’t actually taste it.


Next up is Phoenix Tea. They had some really unique teas for sample however I zoned in on all the heicha logs.




B. Fuller’s Mortar & Pestle was a local shop I did not know about. They aren’t too far from me, so I really need to go sometime. They had a wicked cool steampunk theme with awesome decorations, costumes, and tea packaging. Their corner was also the only place that had 4G mobile… sometimes.



They had an interesting tasting bar that was very busy!2016-northwest-tea-festival-oolong-owl-9

Friday Afternoon is an online seller of geeky themed tea blends. Here is Friday, the owner.


This Soldier’s Blend smelled awesome! If you are a blends drinker, you need to check her teas out!


Of course, I visited Floating Leaves tea multiple times, and purchased from multiple times.. and dragged friends to try the 3 roast dong ding multiple times. I thought I tried most of their teas until I sampled their Aged Maio-li and white tea. I just realized I failed to purchase their white tea. Be sure to check out Floatings Leaves Tea’s GoFundMe for a Taiwan tea documentary!


Floating Leaves Tea had the prettiest waste bucket.


Smacha Tea is a local tea shop I have yet to visit as it is on the other end of Seattle, making it a long horrible commute since I lack a car.


They had an awesome spread of sweets that disappeared fast, including matcha pastries and mooncakes. They had plenty of tea, but all the photos I took was the food.


I might of bought one of these matcha cakes. There was no evidence, so it never actually happened.


Perennial Tea Room had a huge booth that was always busy and I never got close to. They had all the cute owl tea wares!



Miro Tea had a big spread and a huge selection of tea.


They had three areas to sit down and have tea, focusing on different teas. I had a great puer session with Anton (after multiple people told me I need to meet this guy). That guy makes a MEAN STRONG cup of tea. I had a 1990’s sheng and a 2000 shou, all leafed heavy, and good quality tea. That’s how you leaf it!


I also hung out with the local cool cats – Lazy Literaus (yeah yeah, Portland is close enough) and Teadb. I think Lazy Literaus has the good picture of all of us together on his camera. Shout outs to the Steepster friends, and reddit/tea people I met in person!


At the Northwest Tea Festival you can fill up your day with tea classes, but unfortunately majority of them you have to pay to attend. The tea classes were about 1 hour sessions such as learning to use a gaiwan, focus tastings on specific teas, and cooking. The main stage had talks and presentations going on all day. There was half hourly free tastings that you can sign up for, 3 different sessions going on at a time, on interesting things like heicha, Japanese teas, herbals, Georgian tea, Indonesian tea, Vietnamese tea, Laos tea, and tea infused Italian sodas. Those tastings filled up fast, so I signed up for only a couple of these free focus tastings, trying Tealet‘s Rie Tulali’s Non-Traditional Heicha, which featured some crazy African puer.


My other class was with Andy Buckman from Great Horse Teas on a tasting of interesting Dancongs. We had a quick round of an aged Dancong that was very impressive.


An interesting free tasting you can do was these mini focus tastings at the Tea Bar. They were about 5 to 10 minutes long and were 2 teas to taste and compare. I attended a couple, one was a ginseng ripe and cha gao. I did an oolong one, but I was too tea drunk to remember. The finale last tasting was a single tea – a 1996 Menghai sheng, that was insanely delicious that caused me to laugh randomly and not walk straight.


Northwest Tea Festival Haul

Like other tea festivals, Northwest Tea Festival gives you a shopping tote (which I filled), a program guide, and a tasting cup. I love these tasting cups, it actually a pretty nice cup, and it reduced the waste of million plastic or paper sample cups.


My three trip haul at Crimson Lotus Tea totaled to be a 2003 Changtai Ji Nian Memorial Sheng, Planet Jingmais from the ball pit, a jianshui cherry blossom tea cup, and a jianshui tea pot necklace. I also scored a tote bag for spending so much.


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At Floating Leaves Tea I purchased some 1980’s Aged Miao-Li oolong. I also got a Charaku Tea Roaster. Evil experiments!


A typical purchase for me is cookbooks. I finally got the Tea Time Magazine Tea & Scones, and Steeped: Recipes Infused with Tea (both amazon affiliate links).


I also purchased an owl tea cozy… because owls.


In all, a good festival. I think the 2016 Northwest Tea Festival is worth going to, even if you are from out of town. I had an action packed day. I likely could of gone for day 2 if I signed up for tea classes or if I wasn’t leaving town in a few days.

September 2016 White2Tea Club feat. 2016 Old Whitey and Hoplite Oolong

Gosh, I am coming up on being with the White2Tea club for 2 years. Yup, keep taking my money! This month, and I am super excited, is 2016 Old Whitey and Hoplite oolong. Both teas will be sold at White2tea. As of this time, just the 2016 Old Whitey is listed, Hoplite is a preview.


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click to enlarge (hooty batman, bad white balance)

White2Tea Club 2016 Old Whitey

2016 Old Whitey is a puer varietal material processed like a sun dried Fujian shoumei and pressed into 100 gram cakes. I have been digging white teas and aged whites, and it sounds like this white has been designed to hopefully age.

The wrapper is hilarious! I’ve shown this tea to non-tea drinkers and they love it. I think the funny part is apparently this white tea processing is pretty experimental.

“Oolong Owl – Writing Owl Fluff since 2013”.september-2016-white2tea-club-oolong-owl-8september-2016-white2tea-club-oolong-owl-10 september-2016-white2tea-club-oolong-owl-9What could possibly go wrong? I guess my butt feathers could fall out. However most likely scenario is White2Tea taking all my money for snake oil cakes.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method: The scent is pretty standard “white tea” scent of fruity but also a bit of an amber incense essence to it.



In a gaiwan it looks like I dumped a bunch of stomped fall leaves in my cup!


I went with 1 gram to 15ml, steeping with boiling water. I’ve been rolling with that for all my whites and it has been working. I want to leaf more, but leaf expansion gets really dicey.

First, Second, and Third Infusion: 2016 Old Whitey steeps up a creamy linen shade. Right after the rinse the leaf smelled a touch smokey, but was not present after the next infusion.


Old Whitey sips in clean and sweet. It is delicate of a sip, sips in creamy tasting but finished on a sweet note at the end. The sweet note has a slight date and mineral vibe to it. The body is thick like cream leaving an oily lip. The flavor lingers in the mouth for awhile, which is really nice.


Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: I’m getting a bit of dryness,  likely due to me being crazy and boiling this. I think 200f would of been a good compromise on temperature. The colour is getting a darker gold. The flavor is amber, linen, mineral, sweet rock sugar aftertaste. It is super clean tasting and pretty sweet.


Eighth and Ninth Infusion: Old Whitey has a slight medicinal date taste, but also dry. The flavor is fading fast so I’m ramping up infusions. I am still getting a creamy lip feel which I am enjoying a lot. The colour has also gotten darker!


Tenth Infusion: I did a 15 minute steeping. The flavor is a little hard to describe. It’s got pretty throat drying, and a slight medicinal taste to it. It lost some sweetness, but overall little flavor left.


Actually pretty good longevity for a young white. I get killer long infusions with aged white, this one could be crazy in 5 years. 2016 Old Whitey already has that sweet date profile so there is lots of age potential. This could be a thick date bomb with time, fingers crossed. Personally I want to steep it some more and play with steepings, but I want to save it for aging. I want time to go ahead like 3, 5-8 years and try it… time go forward and I stay the same age (or get younger) of course. I bought a second cake of 2016 Old Whitey already to play with the aging process.

White2Tea Club Hoplite Oolong

Hoplite is one of the new White2Tea oolongs, a Wuyi Yancha. This one promises a light roast.


Dry Leaf and Steeping Method: The oolong has a woodsy, roasty and rich scent coming from long fat twists of leaf.

I went crazy and went with 8grams in a 90ml gaiwan, flash steeping with boiling water. It said in the handout I was supposed to get 8 grams, but I actually got 10 grams.


First, Second, Third, and Fourth Infusion: Hoplite tastes of bread, honey, with a light roasted flavor. The body is oily and reminds me of coconut. It reminds me of honey bread with a sharp baked brown top with coconut on top.  The aftertaste is light at this point with a sweet fruity roast fragrance. Each steep gets a thicker, brighter flavor, building a bit of dryness.

I needed to clean my pitcher so my camera didn’t pick it up well, but Hoplite in person has a bright, glowing, and rich orange colour to it.


Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion: This is actually losing flavor fast despite the high leaf. I did about a 1 minute steep here. The flavor is coconut, fruity, honey with a touch of woodsy roast. The roast is pretty light adding depth. The texture is very oily, though the body is a little light. The aftertaste lingers with sweet bright honey fruit.


Eighth and Ninth Infusion: 10 and 15 minute steeps here. Hoplite has a sweet and mineral flavor, like drinking a strong flavored honey. I got a delayed reaction of peachy floral burps and I feel super awake and snuggly. My rabbit Benson did not appreciate my enthusiastic tea drunk bunny cuddle man handle time.


Hoplite is a low roast oolong, great for someone who likes that bready sweet honey flavor. I quite like the flavors but was hoping for more body… I should of used all 10 grams. Live fast, leaf hard! I am curious to see more of the new oolongs in the coming months. Overall, another great White2Tea club!

2015 Green Miracle Shou Puer from Yunnan Sourcing

Today’s review is Yunnan Sourcing’s 2015 Green Miracle Wild Arbor shou puer. This puer is pressed spring 2014 50-70 year old wild arbor tree material. Since this puer came out, I’ve been told by friends that this shou is really good. I got tea buddies who have finished a whole cake or two of Green Miracle. A tea friend sent me a sample and I thought it was good enough for me to buy cake  with my next Yunnan Sourcing order. Once this puer hit my radar, I’ve noticed the price has gone up twice. It is still very affordable for a 250 gram cake.


My cake of 2015 Green Miracle has been aired out well as it arrived when I was in temporary housing limbo. My Green Miracle sat in an open box for 2 months. Once my things were moved to Seattle, I crocked it and then stuffed it in my shou pumidor for a month. My Seattle storage is running pretty humid. This shou has also been available for over a year now. I am pointing out my storage and time as after I drank this tea I checked out the reviews on Steepster and fellow bloggers and was thoroughly confused on the tasting notes. All the reviews of Yunnan Sourcing 2015 Green Miracle is literally all over the place with ranging from funky ferments, astringent, stinky, and thick sweet syrup.

And what is up with this weird looking antler leaf goat?


Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

Green Miracle Shou Puer smells earthy and slightly funky.



There is a pretty tight compression on this cake. So tight that I stabbed myself quite badly as the pick slipped and jammed into my thumb. Thought I hit bone and needed stitches, but the bleeding stopped, the Tea Owls air lifted some super glue – good to go!

I steeped Green Miracle shou puer with boiling water, about 1 gram to 12ml vessel (going a little heavy handed with leaf). I did two rinses.

Tasting of Yunnan Sourcing’s 2015 Green Miracle Shou Puer

The wet leaf smells like a melted chocolate bar in a dank wet basement.


First and Second Infusion: 2015 Green Miracle Shou Puer sips in on the light and sweet side. It has an dirt earth floor background, a mineral wet stones finish and some refreshing of an aftertaste. My mouth feels cool after each sip, which is quite nice.

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: Each steeping gets darker and darker.


The sip is earthy, but not very heavy or thick despite the black colour. The taste is lightly of dirt basement, but it clean sweeps to bright and clean mineral at the end of sip.There is also a bitter sweet chocolate note in the background. The mineral flavor is the strongest note. The body is oily feeling and creamy.


Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Infusion: And the tea is starting to die and I’m battling with steep times, going 5-10 minutes by the end. The flavor is getting more clean, losing that dirt quality and more just bright mineral rocks and bitter sweet. It has a sort of green quality to it, like a few fresh blades of grass thrown in. It has this vibe of trying to be camphor, but doesn’t get there. The aftertaste is still pretty refreshing and crisp as I breath in.

This should puer gave me a surge of energy, directly channeling “drink me while cleaning the house” magic to it. I oddly remembered on a series by Ilona Andrews, “Clean Sweep”, which is about a magical innkeeper who houses other dimension/intergalatic people in her inn… without anyone human knowing in her small Texas town. It is quite a cute book series. I am entertaining my inlaws as I write this, and I got tea drunk enough to magically over pack a dishwasher, while dreaming of having magical brooms and beating up demons at my local Costco.


Tenth and Eleventh Infusion: Milking all that I can here out of Green Miracle. There is a Big flavor shift here as all the earth left and I got caramel and mineral flavor. It is on the sweet side making for a great finish. I did a 20 min steep as the final and it was super sugary caramel sweet!

TLDR: Green Miracle tastes like sitting on a cold mountain while sucking a tasty dirty rock clean, then drizzling caramel sauce on it.



Yunnan Sourcing’s 2015 Green Miracle Wild Arbor shou puer is an inexpensive priced shou with great clean notes and a more lighter taste. From the sounds of the other notes, time did do this tea wonders as I missed the funk and tart notes that people got a year ago. I believe this shou puer has a lighter fermentation, so it has room to grow, thus why it seems reviews on this tea are all over the place.

Green Miracle has a great transitions between infusions for gongfu, making for a fun session. It might not be funky shou enough for some, or heavy enough for types who want shou that will coat their insides like pepto, but maybe time will tell. It is a good all around shou, with a friendly price of $24 250 grams (at this time).


Sunday Tea Hoots 26 – I Felt My Kidneys

I felt my kidneys yesterday.

Yesterday was a full on tea day and binge. The day started with me going to Floating Leaves Tea for a Bulang mountain puer tasting class. So far I have only wrote about the High Mountain tasting event, but I have also attended a Nannuo puer and Phoenix Dancong tasting class, all very educational with great tea! Here was the tasting pile for Bulang!


Going in I expected some really bitter puer typical of Bulang, however we also had some Bulang area puer that had so much energy or feels of being jolted awake. The Bulang on the menu was a maocha picked by Floating Leaves Tea and friends on one of their tea tours. It was light tasting but it was most impressive that it was handpicked!


Also up for tasting was 2010 Yunnan Sourcing Bu Lang Jie Liang (which was insanely super bitter), a 2009 Houde Bulang, Bana Tea Company Sheng and Shou Bulang. I got super excited as we followed those teas with a BanZhang, which drinking that felt like my body was so keened up to buzz around and fly.




THE PINK GAIWAN. Whatever was in this pink gaiwan just wrecked me. It was something acquired by the Floating Leaves Tea shop owner. Apparently it had banzhang material and wet storage.


I got tunnel vision, my head felt like it was getting attacked by one of those wire head massagers, my mayo brain was doing back flips within my skull, and crawly. Going to the bathroom after drinking this was a strange experience of walking into everything. This tea was amazing though, I recall loving the wet storage taste and needing a cake of it.


That concluded the tea tasting class of Bulang puer. But wait, there’s more! I had another tea gathering to sit through! A couple out of town tea buddies came and we had more tea. I also got to admire this pretty silver tea pot!


This sitting – Yunnan Sourcing “Green Duck Shit” Dancong, Crimson Lotus Tea’s Old Warrior, Crimson Lotus Tea 2014 Jiangcheng, and then Phoenix Tea Kenya Oolong. The Kenyan Oolong was strange as it smelled and tasted like a black, looked a little green and light brewed as an oolong. It was dubbed #blacklong and #blackblackdragon.

Bitterleaf’s Mad King made an appearance and this is when my body started screaming. I’ve never turned down a cup until this. I had a couple steeps then was getting way too jittery and tea drunk at this point – 3 banzhangs in one day was just asking for it. You know it is bad when after you drink White2Tea 1998 Numbers puer and it makes you chill out enough to mostly function. At this point my sides were hurting, this is what they are talking about when you have too much tea and you know you are drinking too much tea. I probably would of been fine if I had these two tea sessions day or so apart. My kidneys were protesting and I needed off the puer and some food.


Shiuwen had the best idea and we finished with a 3 Roast Dong Ding Oolong. That Dong Ding was excellent, brought us down enough to buy a bunch of oolong and stumble into the streets. We somehow made it to Northern Thai food for dinner and Full Tilt Ice Cream for dessert. I’ve reviewed a few tea flavors of Full Tilt Ice Cream, but in person it was really cool as we got to taste all the flavors. I ended up with a big scoop of “Blue Moon” which tasted like childhood (Fruit Loops) but as an ice cream. The ice cream pleased the kidneys.

I actually slept after all this tea, though it was of dreams of people’s faces melting and dinosaurs at Costco. I spent the tea hangover at a Farmers Market tasting handfuls of salmon (literally, Ballard Farmer’s market sellers dump a handful of smoked salmon in your hands as a sample) and getting arnica lotion rubbed on me. The rest of my Sunday hooting will be snuggling with vat of Muzha Tieguanyin and cookies.

No regrets and I have a week to recover to be in good working order for the Northwest Tea Festival.