Curious Tea – Monthly Tea Box Subscription Review

Our final Tea of the Month subscription review for March – Curious Tea!

This tea subscription box is based in the UK at £14.95 to $£16.95 per month depending on the subscription length. You get 2 teas, with a total of 100 grams of tea. Even though I’m in the US, my box didn’t take that long to arrive, so this Tea of the Month subscription is totally do-able if you are outside the UK.

What is unique to this tea subscription is you get to choose between a Light, Dark or Mixed selection of teas. Their light teas are whites, greens and lightly oxidized oolongs, whereas their dark tea box is black, pu’er and higher oxidized oolongs.

As a blogger special, I got to choose which box to sample and I went with their February Light tea box as I found their light tea selection to be a fun line up. That and I don’t think I’ve had a Lu An Gua Pian before.

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Tasting of Curious Tea’s February Light Tea Subscription

Formosa Jade Oolong

The dry leaf of Formosa Jade Oolong is a sweet floral scent. I decided to follow the steeping instructions on the package, which was a western style long infusion of 185 f /85c for 3.5 minutes.

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Formosa Jade Oolong is a light oolong with straw notes with a floral finish of buttercups. In the background there is a bit of that mystery peachy floral essence. The floral intensity is a light to moderate 3/10 on the Floral Meter.

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The second infusion I steeped for 5 minutes and turned out to be better than the first infusion! The flavor is not as delicate and more moderate in flavor. It is a moderate peachy buttercup floral with a bit of sweet tang end of sip.

Formosa Jade Oolong would be a great light tea to balance out sweets at afternoon tea, or a great spring tea. I can see this tea being awesome cold steeped!

Lu An Gua Pian

Lu An Gua Pian, aka Lu’an Melon Seed tea is a green with the leaf that is only leaf, without buds, middle vein and stems. I don’t recall having this type of green tea before so I’m excited to try this green out. Again, I followed the steeping instructions on the package which was 175f/ 80c for 2.5 minutes. The Dl is tight, long rolls of leaf.

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Lu An Gua Pian steeps up a pale citron green with an interesting almost smokey scent. The taste is vegetal and delicate with a mellow avocado and pumpkin notes with a bit of sweetness. I didn’t find this green astringent at all. The steeped leaf is quite beautiful as it comes out looking like vibrant green, like blanched spinach.

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Steeped a few rounds gongfu style (175f, 5 grams of leaf, 120ml gaiwan) and the tea was just as mellow and smooth, getting sweet each infusion. Both steeping methods are pretty good!

curious tea

Lu An Gua Pian is a neat green for those who do not want a grassy tea. I like how delicate

Comments

Both teas from the Curious Tea Light subscription box are indeed light and delicate! The Formosa Jade Oolong was nice and trying a Lu An Gua Pian was a great treat. I like the box Light and Dark (or mixed!) format as it caters to one’s tastes and you can explore within it. I do a number of “Of the Month” clubs that aren’t tea related as well, and I’m a fan of having my clubs have a bit of customization or consider my preferences. Anyways, if you are looking for a simple tea subscription with a bit of customization give Curious Tea a visit.

(tea provided for review)

March White2tea Club – Tea Review

Time for the second Tea of the Month box to arrive for March – White2Tea!

In this month’s White2tea club box2001 7542 P.O. Raw Pu’er, 2004 Yang Pin Hao Raw Pu’er and OBSX Oolong, 10 grams each. It’s a small amount of tea but when you look up each tea you’ll realize all the teas are kinda pricey. Yeah, expensive tea drinking time!

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Also with this month, deals for us White2Tea club members – 10% off cakes, 20% off tongs and 15% off the yancha. A pretty sweet deal!

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Tasting of March White2Tea Club

Turns out all the teas in this month’s club are complex and intensive to review. With that said, me and the tea owl with drink two of the teas from this month.

2001 7542 P.O. – this raw pu’er is from a small factory under a private order, stored in humid conditions. Right off the bat the tea smells different. I cannot think of a better description than wet kitchen sponge. It doesn’t have that dry near scent less scent I’m used to smelling for probably dry storage puer. Have I had wet stored tea? I should as I have samples of wet storage pu’er… which I haven’t gotten around to yet, sigh. #toomuchtea #teabloggerproblems #ineedtoliveforevertodrinkalltheteas

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I steeped 5 grams of this raw pu’er in a 100ml ish gaiwan using boiling water. I did a quick rinse then did a second since it tasted too light.

First Infusion: Pretty dark yellow peach color. What is this scent? The scent reminds me of the beach on a rainy day – steaming sand and a little marine.

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2001 7542 P.O. tastes quite different than other pu’er I’ve had. It sips in smooth and mellow woodyness that peaks to an after taste of peaches. The flavor is light, but yet not. the body hums with mineral flavor and stone fruit sweetness. 2001 7542 P.O is really easy to drink with lots of head scratching to figure out the taste and how to describe it.

Second Infusion: Flavor shift! 2001 7542 P.O has a wet leafed forest floor note with peachy aftertaste. I also keep thinking of the flavor of “organic” but not how the word is used these days.

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Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Infusion: Best steepings! The flavor stabilized here. 2001 7542 P.O. is stronger flavor and with less leafy taste but with more like wet wood, forest floor, sweet amber with that fruity peach sweet after taste. So good! There’s a hint of dryness that’s drying the back of my teeth. There was a bit of gritty for steeping 4 and 5 when the cake piece broke apart.

Eight, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Infusion: 2001 7542 P.O. is staring to lighten and sweeten more with each infusion getting sweeter. By the end of these infusions I was aggressively steeping them to get every drop of flavor out. The aftertaste is getting stronger either by the duration of the tea session or the aftertaste flavoring winning over the waning main taste of the tea. This tea session was LONG! It didn’t feel like 12 infusions, more like 5 as I took my time trying to figure out what was going on, the long aggressive infusions, then weird tea drunky effects.

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I got the relaxing tea feels and memories throughout my 2001 7542 P.O. session. I had memories of walking through Stanley park sea wall, over the beaches on a standard rainy Vancouver day. After all that marine and rain smells, memories of walking by the trees to be protected from the rain in the park, dodging the gulls and crows trying to steal my sandwich. Back to reality, I got big tea owl stealing my tea! Late in the tea session the tea drunk started and I have manic ideas of involving crocheting bigger tea owls and carrying them during the World Tea Expo like I’m at a anime convention.

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Obsx Oolong – OBSX (Old Bush Shui Xian) is a yancha (rock) oolong with a medium roast. Sounds like my kind of tea! The dry leaf is super long with black, red and brown hues.

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A few of the leaves are really long!

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To steep Obsx Oolong I used a gaiwan, 5 grams of tea, boiling water and did a quick rinse.

First Infusion: Obsx Oolong has a lovely woodsy scent with a dark amber color.

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The flavor of Obsx Oolong has a light woodsy roast note with a bit of a fruity finish that I cannot peg yet. The oolong is really smooth.

Second and Third Infusion: The fruit is cherry – dark ripe fresh cherries skin and all! There are also  leafy woody and roasty notes with a cherry finish. Like I’m nibbling on the cherry tree. I know from experience actually as I used to climb cherry trees to get at all the fruit and eat the cherries with my barky hands. When I had access to cherry trees I’d eat them until I’d get sick then eat more the next day.

Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Infusion: There is a floral essence creeping in the background and aftertaste snuggling with cherry. With each steeping in this bracket, the more roasty notes are emerging along with a bit of buttery. Just when I think the cherry leaf should be going away I get a strong aftertaste of it!

Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Infusion: Obsx Oolong has now developed a roasted barley and mineral flavor (no more woodsy) with the background in cherry and leafy. Each steeping is getting sweeter and more roasted barely in flavor, yum!

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Tenth and Eleventh Infusion: The flavor is going fast, so these are long infusions. Obsx Oolong is mostly mineral sweet in flavor with essence of roasted barley. The cherry is barely present, with the 11th round finally dropping the cherry.

Twelfth 10 minute mega steep: Really light that is mineral and barley flavor. Nice run!

I very much enjoyed Obsx Oolong, it was certainly my style! It never got dry and was complex with awesome gongfu flavor changing tea journey. The fruity and roasty notes were nice! Yum!

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Comments

March White2tea club was a luxury indeed. I got a glimpse into nice pricey oolong and 2000s pu’er that I probably wouldn’t of purchased on my own. Despite the small amount both teas I had took the entire day to drink and I only used half a sample each, so I felt I got a lot of out my samples.

I’m still very happy with the White2tea monthly subscription tea club. Keep taking my money white2tea!

Bonus: This Tea Owl is huge! Hellhoot is too big to sit in the gaiwan!

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March Simple Loose Leaf – Tea Review

Time for the attack of the monthly tea box reviews for March!

First up, Simple Loose Leaf, a monthly Co-op tea box that sends 4 to 6 loose leaf tea samples (1/4oz size) – you get a wide assortment of different teas such as straight teas, blends and herbals. With being in the Tea Co-op, you get a membership ID. If you enjoy and want more tea that you’ve sampled, you can purchase it from the Simple Loose Leaf Tea Shop for 50% off.

For your first box, you can enter OolongOwl for a 50% off your first Simple Loose Leaf’s Tea co-op box!

The teas this month for Simple Loose Leaf are Gunpowder Green, Thai Chai Tea, Spearmint Herbal, Sungma Estate Darjeeling and Senna & Anise Herbal Pu’er.

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This month came with some organic sugar packets and more cloth infuser bags (not shown, the tea owls were using them as beach blankets.) I’m going to sample Sungma Estate Darjeeling and a do-it-yourself blend.

Tasting of March Simple Loose Leaf Teas

Sungma Estate Darjeeling
The dry leaf has a sweet, lightly smokey and woodsy scent. I steeped 3 grams of leaf for 3.5 minutes in boiling water.

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Steeped up, Sungma Estate Darjeeling smells like freshly baked bread with that bronze shiny egg wash crush. The tea color is quite nice with a pretty clear amber gold.

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Sungma Estate Darjeeling sips in sweet green grape, bread and a hint of floral end of sip. This is a light sweetness with the grape which matches will with the bready and floral notes, as well as the light flavor. The tea is very smooth in texture with no dry or bitterness. Interestingly, Sungma Estate Darjeeling is not heavy thick or strong in flavor, making for a light cup of black tea.

I found Sungma Estate Darjeeling really easy to drink and I love the sweetness. This black eould be a perfect afternoon tea for something light to drink, paired with some heavy creamy snacks.

Morocccan Spearmint tea

Enclosed with this month box was an extra card with a recipe for Moroccan Spearmint tea in which you use the Gunpowder Green, Spearmint herbal and the sugar packets. What a cool idea!

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I followed the recipe card, but halved it (forever alone tea drinker here), so 2 grams gunpowder green and 1 gram of spearmint. I used 2 packets of sugar (which was less than the recipe, but I wished I used only one packet). I cringed as a steeped the green tea with boiling water, but I will follow the directions!

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Morocccan Spearmint tea sips in really nice despite the 212 water. The green isn’t bitter (or is that all the sugar?) The tea is sugar sweet, super fresh with plenty of spearmint buzzing in my mouth. This tea blend is like drinking a grassy green combined with ultra fresh spearmint candy. My breath must smell fantastic! I need to go breathe on people to confirm… confirmed!

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I made the rest of my sample into more Moroccan Spearmint tea (with a bit extra gunpowder green from my stash) but iced. Turns out Gunpowder Green + Spearmint = awesome mega refreshing iced tea and doesn’t need to be sweetened as the spearmint adds lots of love to the mix!

Comments

This was a really interesting Simple Loose Leaf box this month. I really liked the Moroccan green blender, that was fun! The Darjeeling was a nice luxury to drink. I wasn’t a fan of the herbal pu’er (I personally dislike licorice with a passion) nor was excited about the Thai Chai, but otherwise was a fun box of tea for the month!

(tea provided for review)

Sencha Naturals Tropical Mango Green Tea Latte Mix – Tea Review

Usually I’m pretty good about reviewing a tea early on, as in I’ll drink it a few times before I review it. I got this Tropical Mango Green Tea Latte mix from Sencha Naturals back at the Los Angeles Tea Festival in August 2014. The sample I tried at the festival was really good so I purchased a bag. Since then, I’ve been drinking up my bag of Mango Green Tea latte mix and I need to review this sucker before I drink it all!

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The ingredients on this green tea mix product is interesting – Organic Coconut Sugar, Organic Coconut Oil, Algae Flour, Organic Matcha Powder, Mango & Vanilla Extract. If you are the type that prefer organics and a natural sugar source this green tea mix would be of interest to you! Correct me if I’m wrong, but this product is also Paleo friendly for some. It is a little calorie dense at 130 calories (160 on the website) that’ll make 10oz serving.

Dry Leaf

The color isn’t a vibrant green that one usually sees in straight matcha. The mix is a pale pea color with a sprinkling of orange beads.

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I prefer this product cold made with a milk, but you can make it with water. Sencha Naturals Tropical Mango Green Tea Latte mixes needs to be shaken well or used with a frother/blender as the orange bits will not combine and settle on the bottom.

Tasting of Sencha Naturals Tropical Mango Green Tea Latte Mix

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Sencha Naturals Tropical Mango Green Tea Latte Mix has a strong juicy mango flavor, with a backing of mega thick creamyness from the coconut base, with light fresh grassy matcha and green tea flavor. The mango is the main flavor and is sweetened. The mix has a thickness to it making for a great full experience latte. I find you do not need any further sweetening but maybe too sweet for some people.

Next day I made the Tropical Mango Green Tea Latte mix with just the mix and hot water (175f). I still prefer using a milk base, but with water the tea is surprisingly really thick and creamy mouth feel from the coconut oil. It is kind of watery, so not as strong in flavor as using a milk base, but not bad as the mango flavor is still strong with a great creamy backing. The green tea is drifting around in the background.

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Comments

If you love mangos and sweet treat lattes, Sencha Naturals Tropical Mango Green Tea Latte Mix is amazing! If you love creamy sweets, this tea mix is the ticket! Sencha Naturals also has a chai flavor and unflavored mix versions at this time. I find the green tea taste is on the low side, so it is pretty friendly for people who don’t like grassy strong tea flavor. My tea hating husband likes this tea mix made with both milk and water.

I find Sencha Naturals Tropical Mango Green Tea Latte Mix works especially well with protein powder. The flavoring is strongly mango and with the thick texture can hide the pasty protein powder.

 

Spring 2013 Drunk on Red Sun Dried Feng Qing Black – Tea Review

DRUNK ON RED! DRUNK ON RED! I’d be lying if I said I bought Spring 2013 Drunk on Red Sun-Dried Feng Qing for the description and not its sweet name. Who would pass up a tea called Drunk On Red? I’d get tea drunk on teal or purple if I could!

This tea is a Spring 2013 first flush Feng Qing black tea that has been sun dried, then pressed into 100 gram cakes. There’s a few different years to choose from on Yunnan Sourcing (both yunnansourcing.us and yunnansourcing.com site – if you are in the US I suggest shopping at the .us site to save on shipping).

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Dry Leaf

The cake has a strong sweet fruity scent that I associate with delicious black teas. The cake is very dark with ripples of gold leaf.

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Steeping Instructions

Nothing exciting here – gaiwan + boiling water, then rinse, starting with 10 second infusions. I have a 100ml-ish gaiwan and used 5 grams of leaf.

Tasting of Yunnan Sourcing’s Spring 2013 Drunk on Red Sun-Dried Feng Qing Black

First and Second Infusion: Holy hoot cakes look at that red! The scent is divine with raisins and mouth watering fruity scents.

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Drunk on Red sips in with loads of flavor! It is sweet and fruity, like raspberries, and currants. The background has a deep cherry woody note with a brief mystery floral aftertaste. The texture is super smooth without a lick of dryness. I drank all these cups in record time, totally burning my face off. I’ve been reviewing so many creamy malty caramel straight blacks that having a strong woodsy fruity black is a nice change of pace.

On the second infusion the color became a darker deeper red. Dang so pretty!

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Third, Fourth and Fifth Infusion: The flavor is staying at a constant woodsy cherry and fruity notes. Drunk on Red is super easy to just chug this tea as it’s so smooth and fruity.

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If I had to binge drink tea like a teenager and wanted something that tastes good like soda I’d be drinking this tea. Am I tea drunk yet? I’m totally not feeling it. Or maybe I am tea drunk and just so tea drunk I can’t tell. Or am I not actually tea drunk and this is like a psychological game from reacting to the expectation of getting tea drunk? Oh man I gotta be messed up on tea right now if I’m having this argument with myself right now!

Sixth and Seventh Infusion: Huge jump and noticeably lighter now with little flavor. The heavy woodsy leaves taste now more distinctly currant in flavor. The color has gotten lighter too.

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Eighth Last hurrah 8 minute infusion: Quite similar to the sixth infusion and really light. Nope, it’s dead Jim.

Comments

Black tea lovers and tea drunks – get your DRUNK ON RED on! Yunnan Sourcing’s Spring 2013 Drunk on Red Sun-Dried Feng Qing is a tasty, easy to drink fruity woodsy black that is easy to love. I could see casual tea drinkers loving Drunk on Red and would make for a great presentation for guests.

I quite like this tea, I would probably purchase this one again, especially since it is inexpensive ($4.50 for 100 gram cake at this time). There are other Drunk on Red cakes on sale as well – from 2011 to 2014, and a 2014 cut with Chrysanthemum.

3 Leaf Tea’s Flavored Matchas – Tea Review

Matcha seems to be getting really popular these days as I see it starting to be sold by many tea sellers. I love flavored matchas – I own a bunch of different flavors with a couple different tea sellers. I don’t often prepare matchas in the traditional whisk/chasen, despite owning the tools. I think bubble/boba tea and Starbucks Green Tea lattes taste so good to me, that I prefer to make matcha as a milk shake blended with ice and milk. With that said, I love a good flavored matchas, it’s a delicious treat.

3 Leaf Tea is a new tea seller on the block, selling matchas, hot chocolate, raw cacao in unflavored and flavored varieties. Let’s sample Peach Matcha and Coconut Matcha.

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Enclosed with my matcha was directions. It is important with matcha to use a low temperature as it is a delicate tea that is prone to turning bitter when made incorrectly. For tools, I used a milk frother I got from IKEA, as I like my matcha quick and easy.

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Tasting of 3 Leaf Tea’s Peach Matcha

The color of Peach Matcha is a vibrant green grass color.

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The scent is light, but when introduced to hot water the matcha smells super peachy. When I mixed in with milk I made a huge mess with matcha over flow.  Tea owl clean up crew!

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The peach flavor is a delicate white peach taste and mostly present in the after taste which lingers after each sip. The matcha base is nice hint of grass and freshness. I made my matcha latte with soy milk and it has a peaches and cream kind of vibe. The instructions have you add 1 teaspoon of sugar, which turns out very well to enjoy the peach flavor and latte, without being super sweet. Of course, you can add more if you got a super sweet tooth.

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Tasting of 3 Leaf Tea’s Coconut Matcha

The matcha smells really coconutty, yum! I sampled this matcha a few days after the Peach Matcha and it seems I still cannot be trusted with matcha, as I got matcha powder all over the counter and me.

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Action shot!

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Coconut matcha has a creamy slick and thick coconut flavor that is very creamy, making for a tasty latte if you love creamy flavor. The coconut flavoring is also light enough to enjoy the matcha green flavor.

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Comments

3 Leaf Tea’s matcha is the perfect matcha to get your feet wet into matcha territory. The flavored ones I had were light, true to their flavor, yet also let you enjoy the matcha taste. Right now they have 14 different flavors to choose from. Out of the two I tried, the coconut one was my favorite for creamy overload, though I am also biased to coconut.

A big perk to 3 Leaf Tea is that they SELL SAMPLE SIZES! OMG, yes! This is actually the first time I’ve seen a tea seller that sells matcha in sample size. When I started buying matcha a few years ago, it was a risky big start up cost as many sellers don’t have sizes under 30 grams (at around $15 to $30 a tin) and if you disliked the flavor you were out of luck.

Bonus:

As I stated earlier, 3 Leaf Tea also sells flavored hot chocolate mixees and they offered to send me a few samples as well – who could not say no to chocolate! I sampled the Butterscotch one and it is really REALLY good.

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I buy hot chocolate flavored packs at Costco and I like 3 Leaf Tea’s better. The chocolate tastes legit like melted dark chocolate, not powdery over sugared kind. The sweetness is well done, just enough to enjoy the flavor and not swimming in sugar like the other hot chocolate mixes. The chocolate mix blended together really good with little sediment on the bottom. I totally recommend trying 3 Leaf Tea’s hot chocolate if you drink hot chocolate mixes.

(tea and hot chocolate provided for review)

Jingmai Sheng Puer Spring 2013 from Wymm Tea

I recently received a sweet sample pack from Wymm tea, a new online tea seller. Awesomely, Wymm Tea is also from Vancouver! Man I really to do a trip home as the tea scene in Vancouver must be killer! Anyways, Wymm Tea has a gorgeous website with plenty of information on their teas, good looking pu’er and pretty packaging! I decided to try their Jingmai, a raw/sheng from ancient tea trees, pressed Spring 2013. I’ve been noticing that I tend to really like raw Jing Mai pu’ers.

Here is the sample packing from Wymm Tea –

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With samples inside wrapped in stamped pu’er paper. They were originally folded nicer, I unfolded some to see which tea was what and then folded them back.

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Dry Leaf

The leaf has a pretty silver tint with a dry scent. Admittedly a little hard to say the scent when the tea was packed with a bunch of other pu’er.

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Steeping Instructions

I decided to use 200f water and a gaiwan to steep this sheng pu’er. I did a rinse and started with 10 second infusions, increase time as I steeped on.

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Tasting of Wymm Tea’s 2013 Spring Jingmai Sheng Ancient Tree Pu’er

First infusion: The tea is a pretty light peach color.

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Wymm Tea’s Jingmai Sheng sips in sweet, light, with a hint of little smoke, stone fruit and floral. The taste is so light that I probably should of done a second rinse.

Second, Third, and Fourth Infusion: Now we are talking! Thick thick body with flavor gets stronger throughout the sip. Wymm Tea’s Jingmai Sheng has a buttery cream sweet flavor with a floral orchid finish. The orchid floral lingers after each sip. The floral is low moderate level of 3/10 on the floral meter. That hint of smoke is not present anymore. With each infusion the flavor gets stronger and a bit of dryness emerges tingling my cheeks. Starting at 2/10 and finishing at a moderate dryness level of 4/10 on the Astringency Meter. I’m not kidding about the orchid floral lingering – I took a Nintendo Pokemon Shuffle game break and tasted floral until I came back to the tea.

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Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Infusion: The tea color got vibrant, so pretty!

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The flavor of  at its peak here. Wymm Tea’s Jingmai Sheng still has a thick body with a blooming orchid flavor (now stronger, 5/10 on the floral meter) and a little creamy sweet. There is a stone fruit taste, kinda peach apricot, that you often taste with florals. Tastes like spring! I wish I could send you all over in the wintery east coast a cup of spring!

Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Infusion: Wymm Tea’s Jingmai Sheng is starting to chill out now as it is getting lighter a creamy with less floral. As the floral escapes, it leaves room for a peachy flavor. There are some interesting amber notes coming out here too. The tea is getting sweeter as the flavor slips away. There is still a long orchid aftertaste.

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Eleventh and Twelfth Infusion: The final infusions of Wymm Tea’s Jingmai Sheng were light on flavor but big on orchid aftertaste. I found the dryness didn’t increase making for drinkable steeps throughout the entire tea experience.

Comments

Wymm Tea’s 2013 Spring Jingmai sheng is a delicious Jing Mai. I’d say this is a great pu’er for the type that want a floral sweet sheng and a nice starter pu’er for a white or oolong drinker to get their paws into pu’er.

I love a good floral tea especially to match the season and this tea certainly sings flowers and spring. With the fantastic aftertaste, I found Wymm Tea’s Jingmai Sheng makes you progress through the session slowly to enjoy the aftertaste.

Wymm Tea sells their pu’er in cakes, as well as in sampler packs so that you can try all their teas.

(tea provided for review)

Oolong Owl Tea Stash Count – March 2015 Update

So, back in June 2014 I went through all my tea and counted it. It came back that I had 353 different teas!

I recently got a new tea shelf, so I decided it was a good time to go through every tea again, including samples and tea bags and count them all.

However, this time I decided to google spreadsheet my entire tea collection. I’m not a spreadsheet wizard, so my husband helped me with the calculations. Previously, I was using Steepster’s database to keep track, but I found it hard to search the teas I owned. I thought it would be better if I could access my tea information from my phone plus add more useful data on each tea. I especially wanted to keep track when I received the tea so I know how old the tea is. I had to go through email records to find when I purchased some teas. I discovered some teas that were too old (green teas from 2008!) and had to be tossed.  It took 2 weeks to count all the teas during my spare time.

From the last tea stash count’s numbers, I figured my tea collection should be in the 400s.

It turns out, my tea stash grew a lot, more than I had estimated. By the end of January I had finished the spreadsheet and I counted 506 teas!

Oolongowls Tea Stash - 2015-01

February came and went. Ever since I finished the spreadsheet I have been actively trying to finish teas. However, Oolong Owl had other ideas so more teas have been coming in for review, plus I ordered some and have tea of the month subscriptions still going. At the end of February I had 522 Teas!! CRAP! 

A week into March, I’m currently at 511 teas, and I finished 44 teas since starting the spreadsheet.

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Besides tea count, I discovered having a detailed spreadsheet provided interesting data. First off, I track how much tea I have per tea type. I have separate sheets per tea type. I might break each tea type by unflavored/flavored teas sometime, the data is already entered.

I didn’t know I had just about equal numbers of black and oolong teas! I thought I would have more oolong because it’s oolong, hoot! My white tea count being that low was a surprise, and most of it is blends. I guess it makes sense as I seem to drink down my white teas fast as they go stale fast.

Within each page of teas, I track the year the tea was produced, brand, when I got it, whether I reviewed it on Oolong Owl and extra notes on the tea. For some teas, like pu’er I track whether it’s a sample or cake. For oolongs I input steeping instructions and oxidation level. I need to do more work in going through Oolong Owl and adding links to the teas I’ve reviewed. With all current teas I try I add notes, but there’s lots of teas that I need to drink again and add notes to.

puerripe stash oolong owl

I also keep track of the teas I finished and whether I should consider purchasing. Admittedly, I really shouldn’t be purchasing teas with the amount I have!

finishedteaspreadsheet

Admittedly years back I thought “The day I need a spreadsheet to keep track of teas is the day I have way too much tea.” I wished I started tracking my teas sooner (maybe around the 100 count LOL) as it was a huge effort to type in all this data. Maybe if I started tracking my teas better in the beginning I would have less tea now. After doing this spreadsheet project, I have been much better with drinking down old teas and sorting them. I find I feel less overwhelmed when I look at my tea stash on the shelf trying to find something – now I just hit the spreadsheet and find what is in sample size or old and finish it!

And to think when I started Oolong Owl back in Jan 2013 I was at 200 teas on Steepster. Goals? Well I need to drink down more tea! I’d like to get green, herbals and oolongs (not counting aged oolong) much lower in ratio compared to pu’er.

Making this tea stash spreadsheet started the spreadsheet bug in me. I have 2 other tea related spreadsheets – one for my daily consumption and another for my spending. The daily tea consumption  spreadsheet I found to be really helpful… and will be another blog post!

So tea readers, how do you keep track of your teas?

To add some cute to this post and less spreadsheetyness, here’s a tea owl with tea pots!

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Kerikeri Tea Honeybush Chai – Tea Review

When my mother in law was in New Calendonia last year, she brought me back tea! Interesting tea at that – KeriKeri Tea Honeybush Chai.

What makes KeriKeri Tea organic’s Honeybush Chai unique is the ingredients – Organic honeybush, whole cloves, cardamon, ginger, cinnamon flakes and native New Zealand horopito pepper.

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That sounds spicy! Before I look up what horopito pepper tastes like, let’s sample the tea!

Dry Leaf

It is really hard to say something interesting about rooibos and honeybush leaves as it looks like wood chunks. So yeah, the dry leaf looks like wood bits in red, cream and dark brown, with whole cloves. The scent is sweet for a chai, mostly cinnamon.

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Steeping Instructions

The label states to steep the Honeybush Chai with boiling water for 3 minutes or loner, according to taste. I found 3 minutes was too weak, so I went to 4 minutes for optimal flavor.

Tasting of KeriKeri Tea Honeybush Chai

KeriKeri Tea’s Honeybush Chai sips in spicy with a apple cider spice vibe due to cinnamon and clove flavors. I get a bit of ginger and cardamon taste as well. There is a zing of peppery heat that tickles my tongue after each sip. As I drink my chai, it starts to burn a bit going down with spice. However, the spicy heat doesn’t continue to roast you, it just passes through and is gone. Honeybush Chai is spicy but very tolerable even if you don’t do hot stuff since the spice does not linger. I’d give this tea a moderate spice level, 6/10 on the Spice Meter.

The honeybush flavor comes through, adding a sweet woody and creamy flavor at the middle and end sip. There is also a wateryness to this tea, despite the strong spices, which I think is from the honeybush.

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Comments

KeriKeri Tea Organic Honeybush Chai Pretty good chai that can be drank straight due to the natural sweetness level and light creamy of honeybush. The heat in this chai was unique and interesting and if you love spicy hot chais this tea would be of interest. I’ve had some seriously hot teas, but this one is pretty friendly.

Checking up on horopito pepper, it is a pepper that the heat creeps up on you. I had a hard time finding out the flavor, but found this blog post at Edible Planet that describes its prank use and a great option for steaks. The Seed Of Knowledge has some interesting facts, such as the leaves being used as medicine by the Maori but now has culinary uses.

Looking it up, I’m not sure if one could get KeriKeri Tea Organic Honeybush Chai outside of New Zealand. If you see it, report back!

06 Bai Lin Congfu Black from Joseph Wesley black tea – Tea Review

With my last Joseph Wesley black tea order I was stuck on what to get. I was purchasing a cup set that came with your choice of tea and choosing a tea was difficult – all their teas sounded awesome! I decided on 06 Bai Lin Congfu for its promise of caramel and cream notes. Creamy teas make me weak in the knees. Let’s check this tea out!

Gorgeous sophisticated and modern packing as usual.

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The black tea is vacuum packed and once the seal is breached it is hard to fit the tea back in unless you drink about 2 or 3 cups. I have no problems doing that!

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Love the embossing, I was happy I was able to catch it in a photo!

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Dry Leaf

Sweet bread crust scented tea. The dry leaf is dainty lazy waves of black and gold.

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Steeping Instructions

The steeping instructions have a low temperature for a black tea – 185f to 190 f for 2 to 2.5 minutes. I went on the high end, so 190F for 2.5 minutes.

Tasting of Joseph Wesley black tea’s 06 Bai Lin Congfu

Bai Lin Congfu steeps up really fragrant, like marshmallows and chocolate! The color is a warm yellow brown.

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Bai Lin Congfu sips in sweeter than it smells. There are notes of milk, chocolate, raisin, malt, and almonds. The tea finishes off with a buttered toast note. The texture is smooth and creamy. As it cools the flavor evens out to more milky caramel.

Some sips remind me of bread pudding dotted with chocolate chips, raisins, caramelized sugar formed on top of the crusty buttery bread. I am also getting all sorts of relaxing feels, either from the tea or all those sweet comfort food notes.

Second Infusion: I did a 3 minute reinfusion of the leaves. This steeping is very similar in flavor and identical intensity of flavor to the first but a bit more malty and caramel. I highly recommend doing a second infusion!

Third Infusion: The third round of Bai Lin Congfu is noticeably lighter in taste despite the 5 minute infusion. It’s an alright steeping if you wanted to get every last bit out.

Extended Infusion: When I had another session with Bai Lin Congfu, for the second infusion I ended up steeping it for at least 30 minutes as I got caught up playing my 3DS. The flavor wasn’t bitter or dry, just strong maltly caramel. A Discovery! This tea is near bombproof and can take a long infusion! Yes! My travel tumbler will be happy about this!

Comments

Joseph Wesley black tea doesn’t disappoint in the black tea department. Black tea lovers need to pop by and check out their teas.

I could drink 06 Bai Lin Congfu all day and be happy. 06 Bai Lin Congfu is a really flexible tea. It would be great in the morning with the sweet notes pairing well with pancakes or even oatmeal. I had a great snack of a cup of Bai Lin Congfu and harvarti cheese. This tea can also take long infusions, so a good tea leave in a travel tea thermos on the go. The desserty sweet notes would make Bai Lin Congfu an awesome dessert tea.

Bonus: Joseph Wesley tins make for optimal Tea Owl hiding. Tea Owl totally stole my cheese!

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