Wen Shan Bao Zhong Oolong from Totem Tea

Today’s tea review is tea from a tea seller in Portland, Oregon – Totem Tea! They contacted me and sent me some goodies, which got me excited as their tea line up is very nice. Totem Tea’s line up is heavy on oolongs, including bug bitten, aged, and dark teas. Their website is quite nice and has great tea photos!

Strangely, I am reviewing one of their lighter teas today, the Wen Shan Bao Zhong. Gosh, I haven’t reviewed a Bao Zhong since 2013 (cringe), back in the early days of Oolong Owl. Oh have times of changed.

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Dry Leaf

Wen Shan Bao Zhong smells very grassy and floral. It looks a bit mashed than I like to see but never know if during tea owl transit things went feathery.

I swear, as much as my UPS guy is nice, he drops my package every time, whether handing it to me or just stepping out of his truck. There is likely beat up tea thanks to him… or my evil bunny Benson who likely is tripping him.

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Steeping Instructions

Yep, Oolong Owl is steeping a lower oxidized oolong. Time to cringe at what I do to this poor oolong. I used a ratio of 1 gram to 16.5ml here, it worked out a little weird here as I ended up dumping my whole sample into my yixing pot.

For water temperature I used boiling filtered water because I can. Boiling my lower oxidized oolongs has made me relove them again, but if the oolong is poor quality the tea goes downhill really fast.

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Tasting of Totem Tea’s Wen Shan Bao Zhong Oolong

Wen Shan Bao Zhong steeps up a pretty pale yellow cream.

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First, Second, Third, and Fourth Infusion: The Bao Zhong sips in tasting like sweet butter, yellow corn juice, hot sweet grass, with a bit of floral. After each sip I exhale tulips. With each sip and steeping the floral gets stronger, lingering longer and longer. Eventually each sip is mostly floral butter bomb. The tea is thick feeling, with a slippery lip leftover.

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Fifth and Sixth Infusion: Wen Shan Bao Zhong is starting to get dry and a bit bitter. The flavor sip in kale and bitter, but the finish is  strong tulips. The body has thinned but still oily in texture. I got some dry cheeks. The sixth tasting tasted dead and I had to take break chasing a Stellar Jay pest who was digging my deck plants.

Seventh Infusion: I went in for a long 5 minutes steep here and all I got was sour flowers flavor and dryness. It was worth a shot.

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Comments

I haven’t baozhonged in awhile, but thankfully Totem Tea’s Wen Shan Bao Zhong did well for the abuse I put it through.  I also like to thank my killer yixing pot that does excellently with green oolongs.

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Baozhongs seem to not get much attention these days – I know I get caught up on more oxidized oolongs, and others swear by the High Mountain oolongs. However, Bao Zhong is a nice treat as the floral is off the charts and you can get some great thick texture.

That said, I certainly looking forward to trying the other tea offerings from Totem tea.

(tea provided for review)

August 2016 White2Tea Club feat. Mengsong Sheng Comparison

White2Tea Club time! This month features two different 2016 Mengsong Shengs, one 50 gram cake and two balls. My cake clocked in at 49 grams, the balls 8.5 grams each. We had a White2Tea mengsong comparison back in June 2016, but this is a different farmer. Both teas are club exclusives.

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As always, there is a handout that comes with the club giving us information about the teas. For this month reading the handout with the tea is a spoiler for the tasting. I glanced at it before going for a taste, then as I am back editing I added in the tea information. I’m reviewing this at the end of August – if you have the White2tea club you had time to drink this before this slow/tea queue overload blogger got to it. If not, spoiler warning!

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Dry Leaf

These 50 grams cakes are so darn cute! The cake has a beautiful tea rainbow to it with olives, silvers and a little gold.

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The ball is similar in appearance in regards to colour.

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The scent is really hard to tell apart, but they both smell fresh, sweet and vegetal. The ball is young tree material whereas the cake is from older trees.

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Steeping Instructions

For both teas I went with a ratio of 1 gram to 15ml… which means I had to split the mengsong ball in half to fit my 60ml gaiwan. I learned my lesson back doing the comparison with Crimson Lotus Teas’ Planet Jingmai & Midas Touch – don’t be a damn hero and take the whole sheng ball.

Alright, I take that back. I hate you 50gram cute cake, I got freaking stabbed!

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Yeah yeah, I should had the pro do it. Teal Puer Pick Owl has skillz.

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I went with 200F/93c since these are 2016 puers. I’ve experienced some bitter face killers with the 2016 White2tea sheng line this year so I’m not taking chances on wrecking anymore.

Tasting of August 2016 White2Tea club Mengsong Shengs

The cake is a touch darker steeped, but otherwise they look pretty close. The hot leaf on the balls smells a bit more smokey, while the cake smells bit more fruity.

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First, Second, and Third Infusion:

Mengsong ball – I screwed up and the first steeping tasted like a rinse, which I dumped. I should of broken up the ball more instead of throwing a half lump. I prefer breaking up puer balls, but after the last ball tea from White2Tea, breaking it was a bad idea. Oh well. After I broke up the ball more, the second and third steep flavor bloomed with each steep but the taste is light, floral with a bitter throat feel after after each sip. The texture is lip balm slick.

Mengsong cake – is soft, buttery sip with a soft kiss of floral. It has an oily lip texture and thick. Each steeps develops a deeper rich apricot taste. The texture is quite heavy and slippery that I feel I could fall on my face and slide all over the floor. The cake is much sweeter than the balls and a heavier taste and texture.

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Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion:

Mengsong ball – the flavor caught up! It is a sweet tinny floral hit, then finishes off quite bitter and toothy dry. It sips coarse going down. The aftertaste is bitter and floral.  The fifth infusion is flat and mellow – an even flavor of bitter and metallic with a bit of a floral finish. The texture is slick to start, but thins out at the end of the steeping bracket.

Mengsong cake – sips in smooth and apricot with a floral finish. The liquid is thick feeling in the mouth and goes down smooth. There is some bitter finish, but has enough sweet contrast to win.

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Seventh and Eighth Infusion:

Mengsong ball – sips in buttery but quickly ramps into metallic bitter mode that instantly dries out your teeth and makes your gums feel all weird. Oh gawd, I should brush my teeth more, I can feel all the gunky spots I missed at lunch. GROSSSSSSSSSS! The tea is quite thin here too.

Mengsong cake – the cake has mellowed out similar to the balls were in the last infusion round, but is a more potent sweeter taste. It is bitter of a finish, but the thick texture adds some lubricant so my mouth doesn’t dry out as bad.

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Ninth Infusion:

Mengsong ball – sips in insanely bitter, I noped out of this one. All this collected young sheng I’ve been drinking and this bitterness has added up to a gut twisting feel.

Mengsong cake – came out surprisingly smooth and mellow. Its got a touch of thick broth stuff, but is pretty mellow and easy drinking. Some bitterness at the end but very drinkable.

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About 15 minutes after my session it hit. THIS MENGSONG IS A CREEPER! I got hot flashes and felt crawlies everywhere, like shivers up my scalp. I’m goosebumping cold after the hot flashes, and it was a toasty 80F in my house. The crawlies were driving me nuts, and I didn’t want to start another tea to try and bring me down. So I put the tea drunk into good use…WAXING TIME! Trust me ladies. Get ripped on young puer and wax those legs and upper lip. I FELT NOTHING. I was too busy feeling crawly and strange that I didn’t feel pain as hair got ripped out.

Comments

Now who lets you try both young and old tree material, tightly tuned down to same farmer and village? The very spiffy White2Tea club that’s who! I love good tea learning material, you can only do so much reading about it – you gotta get out there and drink all the things!

The only thing that wasn’t controlled here was it was stated the processing is different, plus shape. I much prefer the cake, sans its evil stabby shape (though that poundcake gourd was the worst) and ouch it is old arbor. I’d leave these balls to drink for later, whereas the cake is drink now ready but unfortunately not for sale to get more.

The 2016 shengs are never ending. I’m still slogging through all the 2016 shengs I got and there is no end in sight!

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Sunday Tea Hoots 24 – The Summer Seattle Tea Party

I drafted the bulk of this blog post at 3:11 am Sunday, as I was unable to sleep. The day before, Saturday, I had a big housewarming / potluck style / husband birthday / bbq / tea party. The food was crazy as I purchased a whole Filipino lechon pig. Plus I made lumpia, tea sous vide salmon, desserts, and friends who brought awesome vegetable dishes.

Parties are stressful and tiring to host but I prepped as much as I could in advance so all I had to do was deal with some appetizers and the salmon. I also coped by starting a solo tea party early with 2007 Repave Sheng from White2tea. Repave is the cheap mind blaster of teas.

A photo posted by Char (@oolongowl) on

I managed to steep a small gaiwan out, and then switched to the sold out Mandala Tea 2006 Special Dark, a crazy rich and thick ripe puer. I got a couple steepings of Special Dark in me, but then guests started to arrive and helped me finish off the tea. Of course you don’t let the tea or food stop, so I started a wild oolong I got from the World Tea Expo 2016, which lasted us to food time.

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Food time got action packed. To set up the food scene, here is a picture of the spread (I know some might freak about whole pig). I brought out 3 more teas I prepared – iced Yunnan Sourcing Black Gold Bi Luo Chun (malty excellence) and cold brews of Summus Oriental Beauty and a Teavivre Tai Ping Hou Kui.  In attendance was a bunch of my sis’ friends, husband co workers, and my tea buddies. My tea buddies are a small group I hang out with mostly from Steepster, and a few tea celebs whom you might know – James from Teadb.org (and Meet, special guest on Teadb) and Glen & Lamu from Crimson Lotus Tea.

Post food is when the tea drinking got serious. We hauled the tea set to the deck, brought in a second kettle as the constant refilling of a 1.7 Liter kettle was too much of a wait, and drank tea for hours.

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This round started with the amazing JT&Tea Ruby 18. Then at that point we were warmed up and the guest sheng puer came out – a 2004 Dingji Yesheng and two special offerings from Crimson Lotus Teas, including their new Beneath an Emerald Sea. After all those teas, it was pretty hard to stand up and it was a crawl to the bathroom to make room for more tea. The 2004 sheng had a weird effect of making me feel hot, despite getting hit with a cold breeze. The second “saucy”sheng was pretty delicious, and the Emerald Sea activated my sweet tooth. All this “slimming” sheng gave me the hangries, so another round of food happened. An interesting pairing is sipping bitter young sheng and following it up with sweet rice krispies squares, or drinking sheng with greasy pig to enhance the tea texture.

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Total teas from my stash used at my party and shared – 72 grams (30 drank gongfu, 42 for cold brews/iced). Around 28 grams of teas was brought by guests and gongfu’d…. yeah, that is a lot of tea! What I found most enjoyable is having tea with people. I’m so used to tea for one, then maybe once a month I make tea for two. Tea for 8, whoa! Since moving to Seattle I’ve been drinking more and more tea with people.

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After most of the people left, I cleaned the house in some tea drunken haze. It felt like I did barely any cleaning as tea tears space and time, but my house became clean. Eventually I crashed into bed and never slept. 7am I stumbled out of the house to painfully haul home a 120lb wine fridge that will become a pumidor (to be continued in a future Tea Hoots). I’ve had a killer headache all day and feel every muscle movement feels like it is going through thick muddy shou sludge…. but totally worth it!

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Thanks to Seattle tea buddies for the official welcome to Seattle!

Oolong Owl’s Tea Beauty Product Collection Summer 2016

I do not mention it much on Oolong Owl, but I am a bit of a beauty junkie. I got well over a hundred nail polishes and my lip stick stash is starting to look a little out of control. My hand lotion stash is so bad you likely can go to every room in my house and find hand lotion. Like health benefits, I’m not particularly sold on tea adding anything special to my beauty products. However, since I love tea I am drawn to tea ingredients or themes for all my other products.

While I was packing and unpacking my things for my move, I found all my tea beauty products and snapped some photos. So many tea beauty products!

Tea Lotions

DAVIDsTea Lotion – I literally panicked when I heard DAVIDsTea was selling tea lotion. I panicked as I HAD TO HAVE IT NOW, but I do not live near a DAVIDsTea. I ordered a couple right away, and the next time I was at a DAVIDsTea, I purchased one. It seems every season or so they have other scents. I find the hand lotion is really strong smelling. The Serenity Now scent is too potent and smells like Flintstones vitamins. The Pumpkin Spice one is very nice and is my favorite. It has a bit of a powdery smooth feel once dry, if you are into that lotion. It is not bad, but expensive. It appears DAVIDsTea has a whole beauty line now with lip butters and lip glosses too.

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Bath & Body Works Lotion in Chai Biscotti – Bath & Body Works is a love hate relationship with me. I am technically allergic to perfumes – many scents set me off into a migraine. More natural, earthy, fresh, spice, and sweet scents work fine with me. Bath & Body Work stores is an instant migraine for me, but yet I still want to go in and smell the things. I found this spiffy tea lotion last holiday season. There was also a Chamomile & Bergamot one, but this one smells lovely like I could steep myself into a tasty chai.

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Body Shop Fuji Green Tea body butter – Body Shop is another shop I love, but does not set off my allergies. Oddly, Body Shop seems less popular in the USA compared to Canada, and is often more money, best saved only for sales or trips to Canada. This Body Shop Fuji Green Tea body butter, OMG, is so nice! The scent is sweet, fresh, and is overall a great product. It moisturizes great and I smell like a sweet sencha bomb. By the way, this scent has its own entire line – besides the body butter you can get an exfoliating soap, body wash, body lotion, body scrub, perfume and a bath tea with giant teaball. I’ve seen many bath tea type products, however that is one item I stay away from as I bet bathing with tea and chunks would be an awful bathtub cleaning experience.

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The Everything Wonderbalm – This product actually has tea oil in it! The Everything Wonderbalm is super thick. It is just like a natural, homemade beeswax and coconut oil concoction. This stuff is great on hands during dry winters. The scent is lavender and is pretty light. I could see this being a nice lip balm too.

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Tea Skin Care

St Ives Green Tea Scrub – I found I had three tubes of these, but yet I don’t use this product that much. If you like that St Ives Apricot Scrub, give the Green Tea one a try. I personally like the green tea one better as it’s less aggressive. I find these scrubs too harsh for regular use, and when I use them, I only use them on my nose and chin. I’ll get on my high owl perch and say you are better off getting a liquid exfoliating BHA or AHA serum than use abrasive products.

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fresh age-delay Black tea eye concentrate and Royal Apothic Cuppa Cuppa Firming Tea Treatment Mask – This is samples of some black tea skin treatments. fresh has a few, all I have left is the fresh age-delay Black tea eye concentrate, but I did have another lotion of theirs that I used up. Royal Apothic has a neat exfoliating firming tea mask. I haven’t tried it yet as I’m weary of exfoliaters.

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Sheet Masks! – Every time I see a tea sheet mask I buy it. I have three different ones here:

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There are a ton of green tea sheet masks. Poking around amazon, here is the Epielle Facial Essence mask Green Tea & Aloe. I have a giant pile of sheet masks. I’ve tried all three and love them! I actually can’t tell the difference between these sheet masks other than smell. Either way, I find they all work really well in making my skin feel moisturized and fresh. There is an added bonus of scaring your SO with them!

Goodal Yerba Mate Cleaning Foam and Bubble Peeling Mask – I had packed this with my other Korean beauty samples. Yerba mate bubbling your face off cream? I haven’t gotten around to trying this.

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Coola Suncare SPF 50 Sunscreen White tea – The skin care and beauty nut I am, I sun screen all the time. Sunscreen is likely the most important thing you can slap on your face. I got this sample of the Coola White tea sunscreen and I love it! I have two other Coola Sunscreens and love them all. Love this white one sunscreen so much I cannot find where I hid it on myself so I don’t use it all up! Anyways, here is a picture taken from Amazon.

Tea Makeup

The Beauty Crop Lighting Crew Pineapple & Green Tea Highlighting Cream – I got this in a beauty box, I’m not sure which one as I’ve been subbed to Ipsy, Birchbox, and Sephora Play. Highlighting is big this summer and this one has a nice scent and high impact glow.

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Bam, highlighted!

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Memebox – I had a blog post awhile back on this Korean Beauty Tea product box. Every beauty item in it had tea ingredients. Out of the entire box, this product is my holy grail. It is a overnight mask containing fermented tea. Pu’er? YES! This stuff makes my face feel and look amazing the next day. I don’t know where to buy more of this particular product, so I’m conserving it.

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Chosungah 22 Flavorful Lipstick – When I heard about this product I also freaked, scrambled, then searched until I had it in my possession. It is a Korean clear flavored lip stick in the scent/colour “Chai Tea”. This item is so lovely, smells nice, has a touch of tint, and feels great to use. It is $18, I ended up purchasing mine at Birchbox. Right now, it appears Sephora and Amazon has a few items from the brand.

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Modern Tea Girl Nail Polish in Sugared Peony – I bought this nail polish at World Tea Expo 2014. It is a pretty glitter sheer polish, great for french manicures. I don’t think it has tea in it, but as tea in the name and origin. Whatever, there’s enough tea mentioned to sucker me in!

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Owl Lotions

Yeah, not tea related but omg OWLS! Behold my Korean Beauty Etude House Owl hand lotion!

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Unscrew owl head for lovely lotion!

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Sadly, I could not find these Etude House Owl lotions for sale anymore. I also have a bunch of other owl hand lotions and lip balms. The large pink owl is Wild Rose scent hand cream! I figure once I use the lotion and balms up, I can stash tea in the containers.

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Yes, that is a dizzying amount of tea beauty products. I oddly do not have any tea hair products right now, nor have purchased any. Got any favorite tea beauty products? Leave a comment below!

(amazon affiliate links)

 

2012 Sheng Ban Payasi from Laos Tea – Tea Review

Laos Pu’er?! A tea friend joked to me we’ve likely already unknowingly drank Laos origin pu’er in some fake puer we’ve all likely come across. I think it is pretty fun to try a new region (intentionally) you never know what gems you find! I came across Laos Tea at the World Tea Expo 2015 and 2016, both times sporting gorgeous packaging. In 2015 they gifted me this sample of the 2012 Sheng Ban Payasi Puer.

At this time it looks there are a number of sellers selling Laos Tea’s puer, but no clear sellers that deal with North American buyers like myself. If you got a lead, let me know! Hopefully we can get our claws on it, but until then you can try it vicariously through me.

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Dry Leaf and Steeping Instructions

Admittedly I’ve had my sample for more than a year. I tend to stuff my samples like these in crocks when I can. I am happy to report my sample has a strong scent of fruits and grass. For steeping, I went with 1 gram to 15ml ratio. Since it this tea had a bit of age on it, I decided to boil it.

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Tasting of Laos Tea’s 2012 Sheng Ban Payasi

I saw when pouring, but this tea has a light peachy colour to it. The scent is plummy!

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First and Second Infusion: 2012 Sheng Ban Payasi sips in thin, clean, fruity floral plum with a buttery background. The aftertaste is sweet plum with a hint of floral. It is not smokey, dry, nor bitter. The early steeped leaves have a new fall tint to them, with colours of green and red.

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Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: There is a slight shift as the flavor is more like tart plum skin, bit of sweet syrup with a light thickness. The floral is a breathy aftertaste, with a slight metallic bitterness. This is a breathy, slow down and drink sheng.

I regret not starting taking pictures of this sheng without pretty backgrounds, this tea needs it. There we go!

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Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Infusion: The 2012 Sheng Ban Payasi is buttery, tangy with a plum skin taste. However, each sip builds up a moderate dry and bitter side. However, the time inbetween the steepings the bitterness fades in my mouth, but when I start drinking the bitterness returns. It is a interesting contrast sipping sweet and bitter for each steeping but also shows this tea doesn’t have much lingering flavor.

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Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Infusion: Very bitter, yikes! The flavor starts fruity, then goes a sharp and stewy spinach bitter bite. This sheng has a vegetable flavor that strikes terror into everyone who knows the taste of overcooked mound of greens. Each steeping I infuser longer, but as the flavor slips to nothing, all I’m left with is a heavy dryness.

Comments

Laos Teas’ 2012 Sheng Ban Payasi Puer is an excellent puer for the early steeps, especially for the uncommon sugar plum flavor. This puer has a nice texture and sweetness too. The final steepings do get pretty rough. That said, this puer tastes more young than my other 2012 puers, so I think steeping lower would of been a better bet, say 190 to 200F. Alas, I don’t have much more of a sample to play with.

If you want something a little different, or to get a notch on the belt for trying yet another intentionally tried tea region. I personally would love to try some more of Laos Tea, even just to have some for the incredible packaging as seen at the World Tea Expo.

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(tea provided for review)

Seattle Chai from Full Tilt Ice Cream

You might of recalled me going on a lol fat binge on a Thai Iced Tea Ice Cream by Full Tilt Ice Cream, a local ice cream brand in Seattle, WA. It is time for LOL FAT II! It is time for delicious Seattle Chai Ice Cream from Full Tilt Ice Cream!

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Chai ice cream? Are you betting it is just an ice cream with some chai spice in it? Nope, there is tea in the ingredients list!

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Looks so far unimpressive compared to the Thai Ice Cream’s crazy orange colour. The Seattle Chai looks pretty boring with just vanilla coloured ice cream with maybe some flecks in it.

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Tastes… OMG OMG OMG. This is chai! The spice level is moderate, I can taste a sharp ginger, nutmeg, cardamon, coriander, and a spicy finish of black pepper. The ginger is the stronger spice here, you might mistake this one for gingerbread. I can taste some tea, it has a bit of a malty essence to it, but the sweet/cream is more potent. This one isn’t as sweet as the Thai Ice tea.

What makes this ice cream good is the spices taste great and fresh. This ice cream is even better than some actual loose leaf chai teas out there. Good job Full Tilt!

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I cannot choose a favorite. The Thai Iced Tea ice cream is really good and but this Seattle Chai Ice Cream is fantastic too, it depends on your tastes.

If you make it to Seattle, I found Full Tilt Ice Cream at grocery stores like PCC and Metropolitan. Full Tilt Ice Cream also has physical locations (psssst, close to Floating Leaves Tea!). It is on the pricey side of around $5 a pint, but worth every spoon. There’s no photo evidence this time that I ate the whole pint, regardless there was no regrets.

China Green Tea with Magnolia from Grey’s Teas – Tea Review

Grey’s Teas is an online UK seller of loose leaf teas. They got quite a large selection, mostly unflavored teas, and have a few uncommon teas like GABA oolongs and teas from Thailand, Vietnam, and Korea.

Today’s review is Grey’s Teas China Green Tea with Magnolia, aka Yulan Huacha. You don’t see Magnolia teas that often, and most of the time they are oolong. I enjoy floral teas and I like Magnolia a bit more than Jasmine as it is something a bit different.

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Dry Leaf

Admittedly this sample has taken a beating. I got it in California, it got rolled up and jammed into my kettle twice, as that saved space while moving. They use a thin plastic bag to hold samples. The dry leaf of China Green tea with Magnolia has very little scent. The leaf looks a little beat up.

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Steeping Instructions

I followed what was on the packaging, 90C (194F) water temperature, 4 minute steep. I used 4 grams of leaf for my 10oz owl mug.

Tasting of Grey’s Teas China Green Tea Scented with Magnolia

Steeped up, I get a lovely floral peachy scent, yum!

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The Magnolia tea sips in very nice, it’s got a cuddly magnolia note with a fresh vegetal zucchini and bean tasting green tea, with a lemon citrus note. The magnolia is on the the moderately strong side with a hint of that peachy floral. If you haven’t had Magnolia teas, Magnolia is fairly distinct, but gives off a similar vibe to Jasmine. There is a light bitterness from either the strong floral or the steeping method. Some might find this bitterness undesirable, but I find it to be acceptable with the floral. I personally do my green teas at a lower temperature, so maybe 175f would work better.

Comments

Grey’s Teas China Green Tea with Magnolia is a pretty solid green. If you love floral teas be sure to quest for a Magnolia tea – I think you’ll enjoy it. If I had a bit more to sample, this tea would be great cold brewed or iced. If you are in the UK, be sure to check out Grey’s Teas!

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(tea provided for review)

1982 Aged Sun Moon Lake from Taiwan Tea Crafts – Tea Review

I purchased the 1982 Aged Sun Moon Lake Black Tea with my cheap but good Taiwan clay tea pots with my last Taiwan Tea Crafts order. 1982 tea? DAMN. However I refuse to say 1982 tea is old as it is close to my birth year and I am not old.

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Despite the age, this black tea wasn’t that expensive – it was very affordable at under $5 an ounce/25g. By the way, this tea is sold out, however there is a 1983 Aged Sun Moon Lake for the same price with similar notes.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Instructions

1982 Aged Sun Moon Lake smells like musty library books, very similar to old wet storage puer or liu bao. Unfortunately the leaf looks kinda awful as there is plenty of twigs.

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I also found a rock! Well I guess this is why this tea didn’t cost me a fortune.

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I did a pretty aggressive steeping ratio using boiling water, 1 gram to 10ml, in a tall and thin gaiwan. I used Seattle tap water for this tasting. We go all out here on Oolong Owl and I steeped the rock I found. However brewing the tea with the rock in turned out to be a problem as I can hear it plink against the lid when I pour.

Tasting of Taiwan Tea Crafts 1982 Aged Sun Moon Lake Black Tea

1982 Aged Sun Moon Lake steeps up a caramel brown with an upgraded scent of hot and musty library books.

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First and Second Infusion: This black tea sips in…. weird as not as I expected. When I think Sun Moon Lake I think of a complex black with a fruity spice taste and a cooling finish. This 1982 aged Sun Moon Lake has a aged puer vibe to it as it has this musty wet storage taste to it. It totally tastes like an old wet library book held down with a piece of charcoal. The body is kind of thin and there is a bit of aftertaste of charcoal and must.

Third and Fourth Infusion: The tea is getting stronger. It is still quite thin of body, but the flavor is packing a punch. It tastes like firewood that has turned into ash, some musty books and wet pile. Ashy is the strongest flavor here. The finish has a bit of mineral aspect to it.

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Fifth and Sixth Infusion: Stranger and Stranger. The aged Sun Moon Lake has a hot dirt taste to it, along with some woodsy, ash, charcoal, and musty old wet book. The steeping theme so far is like we had a stash of flooded old library books, burnt them, and now buried them. The body is still thin, the aftertaste is a bit mineral and musty.

Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Infusion: As this tea didn’t taste any stranger, I’m now getting very heavy wet rock notes. We’ve moved from taking the water logged books to a fire burial, earth burial, to a final water burial. The tea is strong wet stones, mineral, bit of ashy soggy wood with light musty book notes.

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Eleventh, Twelfth, and Thirteenth Infusion: The 1982 Aged Sun Moon Lake is finally tasting better – it’s sweet, mineral, smooth, wild camphor, and aged in taste. No strange must, ash, and dirt notes. However these final steeps are very long, 10, 20, and 30 minutes.

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Comments

Taiwan Tea Crafts‘s 1982 Aged Sun Moon Lake Black Tea is quite strange. It certainly tastes old and nothing like Sun Moon Lake, closer to a liu bao with lots of wet pile and ash flavor. What I didn’t like, but was to be expected due to the price, was the quality wasn’t there – lots of twigs, a rock, and thin body.

If you want to try an old black tea for an inexpensive price, the 1982 Aged Sun Moon Lake is your tea totally snag a 25 gram packet and split it with some tea friends to try. If you love that musty book taste you will certainly enjoy this tea! Personally, I am a little torn as I do love old Sun Moon Lake and book taste of puer and heicha, but unsure with the two elements together. Either way, an experience tea!

Sunday Tea Hoots 23 – Owls in the Park

Not too long ago I decided to be a tourist in my new city of Seattle. I visited the Woodland Park Zoo mostly because there are owls there. All I wanted was to see the owls and eat garlic waffle fries.

I went with a flask full of White2Tea Bang Dong Hong, a DSLR camera, and my husband who ate 2 orders of waffle garlic fries. Before I encountered the owls, I had to walk through the entire place where I encountered other critters to practice my camera skills. Zoom lens to get right up in the bear’s grill!

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Wolf sighted, I heard they like wuyi.

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Loose wild bunny spotted! I hope it was an escaped bunny and not one someone dumped in the park. I got pretty close to the bunny, it might of smelled my Holland Lop bunny Benson on me.

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First owl I found was a trolly a$$ MOFO PITA owl.

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I seriously wasted like 200 photos on him and his spinning head. It seemed best to just sit there, spraying and shooting, to catch a chance photo of his face. Alas, I went back to photo him three times and took 197 photos of the side of his head. I have only 3 photos to show for it, this one being the best. I bet he drinks coffee.

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This handsome snowy owl was not a troll. He knew the drill to smile for the crazy tea gal with the camera.

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I was lucky to catch a Raptor presentation. This is where my husband ate all the garlic waffle fries on me as I was distracted by owls. Such a handsome owl!

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I love a good gift shop, so before leaving the Woodland Park Zoo I had to check it out to see if they had some interesting owl swag. I found some sweet owl earrings! I love them as they are so light weight yet big.

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I decided to look up the seller, Green Tree Jewelry, and discovered they have an etsy shop and these Tea Pot Wood earrings! I bought a pair of teal ones and I love them!

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I could be convinced to buy the same earrings again in different colours!

July 2016 White2Tea Club feat. 2016 A&P Black Tea Cake

I have been a month behind on my White2Tea club reviews and I think I am finally going to catch up! Today let’s drink the White2Tea July 2016 Club. For July, the teas are the brand new whole 2016 A&P Black 100 gram cake and 3 2013 Fengqing black tea orbs, the orbs added as an aged comparison.

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I’ve been seeing black tea pressed into cakes more and more. It is somewhat unknown what age does to these teas, but adding the 2013 Fengqing balls gives us something to compare to. The previous month we also got a black tea cake, now I have A&P, plus I have another black tea cake (more on this later). Since I’m up to three small cakes, I should really figure out how to store to age these things – treat like a puer or an oolong? My white cakes I’ve just been storing in their storage boxes. Ah well, we will learn as we go.

Tasting of White2tea’s 2016 A&P Black

2016 A&P black tea was released along side the new White2tea 2016 spring puer. This black is a Yunnan Dianhong, large puer varietal leaf and sun dried.

Of course, White2tea makes a cool wrapper!

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2016 A&P Black tea smells chocolaty and lightly woodsy earth.

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It was actually hard to break this cake. Mine felt loosely packed outside, but the core was a tight interior of terror. As I picked it, the loose exterior would flake off and if I hit the core, pieces would fling across the room.

I steeped it slightly aggressive, 1 gram to 14 ml. I used boiling water and a rinse.

First and Second Infusion: 2016 A&P steeps up a golden ruddy black with a smooth chocolate scent.

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It sips in sweet, chocolaty, bit of green wood, super smooth, and creamy milk finish with a thick lip. What, there’s body in this black tea? Whoa!

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: I got a bit of a shift as the tea gets heavy. The A&P flavor is is thick, charred tree bark, bitter chocolate with a smooth slick lip balm licky body.

The leaf also exploded in size!

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Sixth and Seventh Infusion: Long infusions here, 5 and 15 minutes. 2016 A&P black got brighter, sweet bright chocolate, and a super smooth cream finish. It lost that char and bitterness from earlier. The body is still thick and slick. I could likely boil it to death for 1 more infusion but I had another tea to drink.

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Comments

2016 A&P black is a candidate for bombproof steeping. There is some bittersweet chocolate notes, but it isn’t dry. Tastes was good – I really like the thick body. I didn’t get many infusions, but overall was happy for what I got.

Right now the price of the 2016 A&P Black tea cake is $17.50 for a 100 gram cake. I winced at that price for a couple days, but then put into perspective you do get 100 grams (3.5oz) so the price isn’t too bad. There are plenty of blacks that I buy in the $10-$15 for 50 gram range. However, what made me wince was drinking this black cake made me think of a competitor – the cheapo Yunnan Sourcing Drunk of Red 100 gram cakes that are under $5 a cake. I ended up start a comparison during the session to compare the two black teas. It was an unfair comparison – my Drunk on Red is a 2013 and is Fengqing material.

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A&P is smoother and has that creamy thick body. Drunk on Red has a bright, sharp woodsy taste with a fruity background. A&P is much more smooth, it is like drinking cream in comparison as the body is so heavy. I also drank Drunk on Red a bit while drinking the 2013 Fengqing balls and it couldn’t compare either. They are like night and day with quality and resteep power.

I could be convinced to buy another 2016 A&P black cake, it has the flavors I like and aging it sounds very interesting. If that is too rich for your blood, White2Tea’s Bang Dong Hong is also a dian hong, hella cheap, and enjoyable.


White2Tea July 2016 Club 2013 Fengqing Black Tea balls

I had some brewing problems with these black tea balls. To premise, everyone I know who has tried this month’s club RAVED about these 2013 Fengqing black tea balls. For the club I got three balls, two of them weighed 7 grams and the other one is 6 grams. I ended up drinking two balls as I had some steeping issues.

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Round 1, 2013 Fengqing balls… FIGHT

I used similar ratio to the 2016 A&P cake, so 1 gram to 14ml. For round 1 I did what I do for my puer balls – I hammer in a puer pick to split the ball in half – I do this so I can get the tea going faster.

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First Infusion: The 2013 Fengqing ball steeps up a pale yellow. Yeah this needs to open up more, the colour isn’t there yet.

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The black tea sips up chocolaty with a sour, sun dried library book taste. This tea totally tastes like back in 1996 when I dropped my Sweet Valley High novel in the creek, I had to chase it along the creek, dig it out, and dry it out in the sun. My book smelt weird and sour after, just like this tea, but without the angry hornets nest.

Second and Third Infusion:

There we go! The ball nearly disintegrated here and I got more colour.

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The flavor shifted some. It is bright, dried fruit, woodsy, sun dried library book, and a sour finish that gives a lot of a pucker. The sourness reminds me of kinda dried pineapple and papaya. The mouth feel is interesting as it is smooth but finishes gummy dry. I get a bit of fruit fragrance after each sip.

Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion:

At this point I was starting to think everyone who said this 2013 Fengqing balls was amazing was nuts.  The tea is rich and wood bark like with a pomelo citrus sour in the back of the throat. A hint of sour slips every steeping, smoothing out more bark like in flavor. It is a pretty bright tasting tea.

Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Infusion: The flavor slips and where the best steepings are as there was no sour notes left. It’s smooth, fruity woodsy and light, with an echo of chocolate aftertaste.

Why was this tea so sour? It actually hurt my stomach after and I didn’t drink any black teas for a few days – the smell of my compost tea pile even hurt my stomach in memory. I asked tea friends and they got sour notes, but not as crazy as mine.


2013 Fengqing ball, Take 2

This time I did a few things different. First was to remove the foil and I let the black tea air out in the open for almost a week. I thought maybe the foil and summer weather might of added some strange funk, similar to needing to air out puer once it arrives at your home. I also eliminated splitting the ball in half and I switched from a gaiwan to a yixing pot. My reasoning for using yixing here was 1. I should really use my yixing pots more. 2. Maybe the yixing seasoning will tame the sour (and hopefully not make the pot sour) and 3. yixing pots look cool.

Using the yixing pot also adjusted the tea brewing ratio to 1 gram to 17ml, so lighter than the last round.

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I also ended up doing a long rinse, unintentional as the ball looked so cool in the pot that I had to snap a bunch of photos.

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First, Second, and Third Infusion:

2013 Fengqing ball came up a bit different. The flavor is chocolate, smooth, library book, bright clean finish and a heavy burpy body. There was a bit of dry feeling in the cheeks. There is a bit of sour aftertaste, but it is significantly less sour than the last session.

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Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion: Each steeping is getting brighter and brighter. 2013 Fengqing ball gave a creamy lip balm feel, bitter sweet chocolate, and wood bark flavor with a light sour finish.

Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Infusion:

2013 Fengqing ball finished off super sweet and chocolate bright with plenty of oomph. It had no sour taste but there is still that slight dry bitter in the throat from earlier. The final infusion was a 2 hour steeping. I put the tea in to steep, went off to paint my deck, and came back when I went on break. It was just as good as the last steeping. This black tea is indeed great, my last session was totally a fail in comparison.

Look at that colour! #nofilter!

A photo posted by Char (@oolongowl) on

Comments

Hmmm I wonder what tamed this black the most – airing, not breaking the ball, lighter ratio, long rinse, or yixing? Airing out, ratio, and not messing with the ball likely did most of the work. Not breaking the ball certainly got more infusions as the tea slowly fell apart, so it let out more flavor over time than all at once. I could likely steep the last ball, removing some of the adjustments I did, but the 2013 Fengqing ball was pretty good – I’m going to save it for a rainy day! If the White2Tea 2016 A&P comes out this good in 3 years, sign me up! I am very grateful I got 3 Fengqing balls in the club!

This is also a lesson for you readers out there who read reviews and tea blogs and say “I didn’t taste that at all in my tea!” Pay attention to how your tea blogger made the tea! Small tweaks (not counting the even bigger discussion on water quality) changes the tea quite a bit.