Pine Oolong and Honey Red Jade from Golden Tea Leaf

I came across Golden Tea Leaf at the last World Tea Expo. Golden Leaf Tea had some delicious tea, but also award winning tea. Both teas I will be tasting today placed in the North American World Tea Championships, Pine Oolong first place and Honey Red Jade third place.

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Pine Oolong

Pine Oolong is a blend of two Taiwanese High Mountain teas. Which high mountain teas? They don’t say, so I guess a trade secret? I was only given sachets that contained 3 grams of leaf. The tea inside the sachets look great and appear to be whole leaf. With two sachets, I was able to gongfu!  I used 1 gram of leaf to 15ml of vessel size, and steeped in boiling water.

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The leaf smells great – nicely sharp floral magnolia with a good background of fresh vegetal.golden leaf tea pine oolong honey red jade oolong owl (3)

The hot leaf smells like sticky rice and fresh greens. The colour come out a very pale light yellow green. I didn’t photo the rinse, but that was almost clear like water.

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First and Second Infusion: The flavor is soft with notes of buttery, mineral, sweet peas, with a peachy floral finish. Overall flavor is quite crisp and sweet, but also quite buttery with the texture being nicely balmy. The floral is light and not overpowering.

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: The flavor has shifted to something quite savory here. It is clean and mellow, tasting like steamed white rice, peas and fresh spinach. The aftertaste slips in that peachy floral, layering over the vegetal savory flavor.

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Sixth and Seventh Infusion: The sixth infusion was light on flavor, but had some dryness that was still pleasant to drink. The final infusion I pushed for about 5 minutes and it was too bitter to finish. Good looking leaf!

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Overall, Pine Oolong is an interesting tea and a pretty good daily drinker. It is soft and well balance for buttery, vegetal, and floral, with buttery being the most dominate…maybe there is Lishan in this blend? Pine Oolong would be loved by high mountain drinkers looking for something a little different and fun to drink for a short session.  I can see this tea being great cold steeped. Golden Leaf was accurate in their posting saying Pine Oolong is a good everyday, delicate tea. I did find it easy going and certainly a good daily drinker but yet plenty of interest. Pine Oolong has my interest sparked on the potential of blending other high mountain oolongs to maybe construct the mightiest of oolong.

Honey Red Jade Tea

Honey Red Jade Tea is a “unique fermented black tea from the pristine hills of Taiwan,” but also has been influenced with leaf hoppers.

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So sadly I only have a single sachet of this tea, which is 3 grams. I’d love to gongfu this rather than grandpa or western steep it. Luckily, I can gongfu Honey Red Jade with this 40ml clay pot I have on loan. I admit, this clay pot has not been tested with black teas, so I don’t know what influence it has. This tasting is not very accurate compared to a gaiwan, which is more neutral. Looking at the steeping instructions, they consider Honey Red Jade to be steeped like their oolongs, not like their black teas.

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I leafed a little heavy, 3grams to 40ml, with boiling water. I used flash steeps to start to compensate with the tea pot pour being a bit slow. The hot leaf smells very fruity, reminding me of a mouth watering ruby black.

First and Second Infusion: Great golden colour made from this tea… in a teeny amount thanks to this tiny tea pot. Photo below is one infusion in the cup and the second in the pitcher.

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Honey Red Jade sips in mineral sweet.. really sweet! Likely this is one of the sweetest black teas I’ve had. It tastes like hydrangea leaf, which is naturally sweet in the mouth, but not how sweetness usually hits the tongue (but this isn’t as funky as stevia is).

Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Infusion: The flavor is developing more. It is still quite sweet and mineral, but has a slight earthy background with a citrus zest to it. The overall flavor is quite bright. The body is a bit slippery, but I didn’t focus on it until now as the sweetness is so dominating. With each infusion, I found this tea got more citrus like pomelos, but spoons of sugar on top. This black tea isn’t heavy, malty, overly earthy like a typical black.

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Ninth Infusion: I noticed at this point Honey Red Jade was just not expanding right. I put the leaves in my pitcher and let it steep one last time. I used a lot more water than I’d like, but with an extended run of 20 minutes I got a good infusion.

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The tea was not bitter or dry at all. The flavor was light, but mineral and very sweet.

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Overall, Honey Red Jade is an interesting black on the fruity sweet side. It is certainly for an oolong drinker who prefers something much more oxidized, or a black tea drinker looking for something lighter.  But honestly, this tea is really flipping sweet and took many multiple infusions with boiling water without getting dry or bitter. This is a bombproof tea, and I can see this being the perfect “convert from sugary drinks to tea” tea. I can see this tea being excellent iced and you’d likely not need sugar with it.

Hopefully again I will try more of Golden Tea Leaf. Both the Pine Oolong and Honey Red Jade were quite unique. On their Golden Tea Leaf site, they sell tea bags and loose leaf. Golden Leaf Tea also sells Pine Oolong and Honey Red Jade on Amazon if you are on the lookout for great tea (award winning at that) to burn Amazon gift cards on.

(Tea sample snagged for free at the World Tea Expo, Amazon Affiliate links)

Oolong Owl’s Matcha Butter Mochi Recipe

I really like Butter Mochi – it is an easy recipe that feeds a crowd. It is also a good dessert to feed guests who have wheat allergies. I have been sitting on a lot of matcha that I cannot possibly humanly consume before it goes bad, so I’ve been trying to think of ways to use it up. Cooking with matcha tends to use a lot. That said, I experimented by combining my favorite Butter Mochi Recipe and matcha, which came out as a killer combo of  deliciousness.

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The flavor is grassy matcha, buttery, and sweet. Still slightly warm, the texture is gooey and chewy, with the ends of top being more chew. Whereas eaten cold, matcha butter mochi gives you a really chewy dense texture. I find the edges to be the best as it is a bit crisp and very buttery, similar to a brownie edge.

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As a warning, if recipe is directly followed, there is a lot of caffeine in this butter mochi! I crammed as much matcha as I could to get a vibrant green butter mochi. I have a pet peeve with many matcha recipes being really skimpy on the matcha. I was wide awake until 5am after eating a few too many squares after dinner.

There is 2 special ingredients in this recipe – Matcha (obviously) and Mochiko Sweet Rice Flour.

I used leftover ceremonial matcha. Go ahead and use Culinary Grade matcha, as it is cheaper and all the butter and sugar will mask lower quality matcha flaws. If you need ideas on what matchas to use, check out my Matcha Reviews!

Sweet Rice Flour you can find at any Asian Grocery store. I tend to find them priced at $0.99-$2 a box, cheapest at Japanese grocery stores. If you don’t have an Asian grocery store near you, you can find Koda Farm’s Mochiko Sweet Rice Four on There is no substitute for Sweet Rice Flour, especially since you need quite a bit of it and it is what gives the mochi texture.

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Making Matcha Butter Mochi is super simple! This recipe is super flexible and hard to mess up, most of the work is just sifting and mixing it all together.

You can skip sifting if you are lazy, but you’ll end up with white rice flour lumps like I did, however does not effect the taste that much. However, I highly suggest that you sift AND combine the matcha with a wet ingredient into a paste before adding it to the rest of the ingredients.

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Matcha tends to clump up violently and you do not want to bite into a strong wad of matcha, thus it is very important that you sift and evenly distribute the matcha.

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Oolong Owl’s Matcha Butter Mochi Recipe

  • 1 x 16 oz box of Mochiko Sweet Rice Four
  • 2 cups of White Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of Baking Powder
  • 3 cups of milk, room temperature. Cow/Soy/Nut/Coconut/Evaporated Milk in any combination all work well.
  • 4 eggs, beaten, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla
  • 1/2 cup Butter, melted
  • 30 grams/ 1 oz of Matcha. Approx 2 Tablespoons. Drop to 1-1.5 Tablespoons for less matcha pow.
  • Variation – add 1/2 to 1 cup of shredded coconut, mixed in or sprinkled on top before baking.
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Grease a 13 x 9 x 2″ pan (or 8 x 8″ if halving recipe)
  3. Sift the box of Mochiko Sweet Rice Flour and Baking Powder. Combine with the sugar. Make a well.
  4. In another bowl, sift Matcha. Add a bit of milk and stir to create a smooth consistent thick paste of matcha. Add the rest of the milk, along with the eggs and vanilla.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mix and combine.
  6. Add the melted butter and mix well.
  7. Bake at 350F for 45 – 60 minutes or until golden brown. The edges will start to pull from the sides of the pan.
  8. Cool before serving, or chill till cold in fridge for maximum chewy texture.

This recipe cuts in half well, the example in photos is halved in an 8×8″ pan. I went by weight, using 8oz of sweet rice flour.

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Cooled to room temperature, the matcha butter mochi is soft, lightly chewy, and sticky.

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Chilled in the fridge, the matcha butter mochi firms up. It is quite chewy and cuts cleaner. I like both textures, but I find the chilled butter mochi gives a satisfying chew.

If you give this recipe a try please let me know what you think!

matcha butter mochi by Oolong owl

(amazon affiliate links)

Sunday Tea Hoots 31 – Blog vs Everyday Gongfu Style Tea Drinking

What I have been finding interesting is that I make tea differently for when I drink to write for Oolong Owl compared to my everyday drinking. Maybe you have noticed it? I own and post photos of tea pots, yet more often you see me using a gaiwan on my blog for tea reviews.

I think the big thing comes down to how I approach Oolong Owl. What I really want to do as a blogger is present tea neutrally made and for you to be able to replicate it. There are still plenty of error of course, going down the gaiwan heat retention, drinking pace, and water. (side note, for Oolong Owl I used filtered tap water) The Oolong Owl blog typical tea steeping scene:sunday tea hoots 31 (1)

Seasoned clay tea pots certainly effect the flavor quite a bit. I got a few pots doing great things after years of use, and that certainly effects the tea’s review to spin more favorable, often a more fuller, tighter, and oomphy flavor. Or the clay eliminates bad features like bitterness, or softens funk. The gaiwan is always consider the neutral vessel of tea steeping for gongfu style. I also figure a gaiwan pours fast and figure everyone likely pours a gaiwan at a similar speed. I have a number of non-clay tea pots, but then I run into pour speed error. My tea pots pour at different speeds, and often I consider this when I leaf ratio. At the same time I haven’t been in the habit of writing infusion times down these days as I found it repetitive. I’ve been working on and off on a gongfu guide so I can just link that and not broken record myself, yet not be vague.

Owl farting around making tea for drinking for fun scene:

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The more focused tea drinking I use a tea pot and lately spring water. Oddly, my everyday tea gongfu style drinking tends to be drinking while I do other things, like while I cook or clean. I’ll pour an infusion into a larger cup, do another quick steep in the pitcher, then go unload the dishwasher. What I need is a good gongfu set up next to my computer – I tend to do grandpa or western when I need tea at my computer. Ah, the life of the solo tea drinker.

2016 Cream Shou Puer from White2Tea

I purchased White2Tea’s 2016 Cream Shou Puer and it arrived sometime early February. I had it air out for about a month before putting into my shou’midor to party with the others.

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Dry Leaf and Wrapper

Cream is a 200g cake and has a simple, retro wrapper. Filthy hoot.

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The cake is super dark with the odd ripple of dark brown. The smell is a bit like wooden planks.

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Steeping Method

I did gongfu style, of course. I used 1 gram of leaf to 13 grams of vessel size. A bit more leaf here as I broke off a clean 7 gram piece and didn’t feel like picking out a gram. I steeped with boiling water and did two rinses to get the tea going.

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Tasting of White2Tea’s 2016 Cream Shou Puer

I don’t know guys, this doesn’t look cream coloured to me.

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The hot leaf smells like my compost pile after I dumped a ton of fruit in it – a steaming pile of sweet fruit.

First, Second, and Third Infusion:

The flavor is light, but is bright and sweet. The first infusion I cannot pick out any notes other than it is sweet. Second and Third infusion have a bit more oomph to it, sipping in a bright mineral and super sweet. The finish has a bit of a woodsy bittersweet aspect to it. The texture on cream is quite nice, it is slick like drinking milk.

Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eight, and Ninth Infusion: Wow, such an inky tea!

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Cream reached a high level of brightness and sweetness starting on the fourth infusion and stayed consistent as long as I increased the steep time (up to 5 minutes by the end). I keep saying sweet, but I don’t mean I emptied the sugar bowl sweet, but a clean sweet mineral. I don’t get any of that woodsy bittersweet here, but I do get a blip of a dark soil on some sips. The texture remains thick creamy feeling here, giving a good throat coating. I am getting a bit of a body feel, mostly just awake yet chill.

Tenth and Eleventh Infusion:

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I did long steeps here, 15 and 30 minutes. Cream lost steam and what I got was light flavored water that was sweet. Interestingly, these last infusions still had a ruddy color to it, yet the tea was dead.

Oversteep Bombproof test!

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I tried Cream 6g in my gongfu2go tumbler and left it to steep for 1 hour and 12 minutes.

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The ripe puer came out with zero bitter or dryness, but also not motor oily or heavy. The flavor is a very bright wet stones mineral, sweet, with a little earth. Bit of a clay taste as an aftertaste and the texture is balmy. I got to the dredges and it is potently sharp, tasting hazelnutand sweet. I’d say this tea is bombproof! Over steeping is a go and likely Cream will western steep well if you choose to do so.


White2Tea’s Cream Shou Puer is a sweet, super friendly puer. It is simply sweet, mineral, and a bit of dark depth to it, without any bitter, dry, or funk. It drinks pretty consistent each infusion and easy to brew. Cream is an excellent thermos tea!  I think Cream is a good puer match to people who don’t want that strong motor oil, super dank, compost dirty ripe or types who love the later infusions of shou. I’d show Cream off to those types who drink all those expensive milk/sugar latte types – it would be a good coffee converter tea.

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Etude House Bubble Tea Sleeping Pack – Tea Beauty Review

I love Korean beauty products and a sucker for buying anything tea (and owl) related. I came across these Etude House Bubble Tea Sleeping packs and had to have them!

They come in 3 varieties – Green Tea, Black Tea, and Strawberry Tea. As much as I wanted all three, I purchased Green and Black tea as the Strawberry’s promised effect isn’t what I wanted for my feathers.etude house bubble tea sleeping pack - oolong owl (1)

Etude house Bubble Tea Sleeping Pack

  • 516 grams each
  • Should last at least a month if used daily.
  • Black Tea – For improvement of skin elasticity and smooth skin.
  • Green Tea – Clears skin by treating pores and sebum. Gives a nice clean feel.
  • Strawberry Tea – Moisturizes dry skin and has a dewy effect.
  • Bubbles contained in the sleeping pack are water capsules which have a moisturizing effect.

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How to use a Sleeping Pack

Sleeping packs are like a mask + night cream treatment. You apply it as your final step, go to bed, and wash it off the next morning. They often feel like a slick watery gel or very heavy cream and you can feel it on your skin the next day, but not as heavy, crusty, crumbly, or tacky feeling as a standard mask. I LOVE sleeping packs – they do wonders for my skin.

Testing the Etude house Bubble Tea Sleeping Pack

Inside the box, and OMG they packaged it just like bubble tea!

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Each come with a little spoon that can snap onto the lid. I like this detail as many don’t like putting their hands in their cream, plus you need to dig out a bubble for every use.

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This oddly looks delicious…. if it weren’t for the smell.

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The scent is strongly generic  fresh facial lotion scent, which I find disappointing as I was hoping for a more distinct scent like anything related to green tea. Jasmine would of been a fine choice for a scent. The Black Tea Sleeping pack smells the best as it has a buttery tropical coconut chocolate like scent, though it still smells like facial product. I guess the Sleeping Packs not smelling like food might be a good idea so the owls don’t eat it.

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The instructions say to take a bubble or two and pop it to mix with the sleeping pack tea gel.  The sleeping pack felt a little gummy to apply, but it felt like a little went a long way, and I had quite a bit of product with a bubble and a spoon of gel. Applied the scent of the green tea one isn’t too strong.

The beads were weird. I expected it to pop like a popping boba filled with liquid, but it just just smushed into bits like one of those expanding water beads, a solid jelly. They were difficult to mash right with fingers, so there was chunks of those on my face.

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Before use I found the spoon really good idea so you aren’t digging fingers into the product, but upon use I am finding the spoon messy. The whole spoon gets coated in product digging for pearls, so I get more than what I want, plus I have to clean the spoon after use. A couple times I got lazy and the day before I mixed the bubbles so some would be on the top, and next use I stuck my fingers in the bubble tea container.

Next morning, the sleeping pack left a bit of film before I washed it off, but after my skin felt pretty moisturized, yet clean. My skin looked brighter and a bit more even. I used both sleeping packs for a month and have been having great skin days, as I haven’t been using sleeping packs in awhile. I felt minor differences between the green and black bubble tea, which makes me curious about the Strawberry one. Both made my skin feel great, but the green tea felt a bit more clean feeling, but not a huge difference between the two sleeping packs.

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Overall, the Etude House Bubble Tea Sleeping pack is a lot of fun with really cute packaging! It is a fun skin care product for the tea fan. I do find the Etude House Bubble Tea Sleeping Pack kind of gimicky and messy to use, and long term use is slightly annoying to muck around with. I like Black Tea Bubble Tea Sleeping Pack a bit more due to the smell. I’d likely not repurchase due to mess… though I am tempted to try the Strawberry one to see if it smells nicer.

(amazon affiliate links)

The True Tea Club – Review

True Tea Club is a monthly subscription tea box based in the UK. They do loose leaf teas, focusing on black, green, oolong, white, rooibos, and herbal. They send 4 teas a month and you can let them know if you don’t want a certain type of tea so they can customize your boxes. They also have options for vegan friendly, dairy free, nut free, or decaf only. In addition, subscribing gets you 15% off at their shop, so you can purchase teas you like at a deal.

Pricing ranges depending how much tea you want a month, starting at £10. Free shipping for UK and £3.75 for international. The sizes are based on teaspoons, so the £10 is 5 teaspoons per tea = 20 x 1 teaspoon servings.

Use code LOVE for 50% off the first subscription box!

The four teas I got are Early Grey Rebel, Mighty Mango, Vanilla Cupcake, and Rainbow Chaser. They have a pool of 200 teas, so likely you won’t get a repeat for a long time.

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The box came with 4 cute paper drawstring tea bags, just in case you don’t have a filter of your own to handle loose leaf.

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Tasting of The True Tea Club

Earl Grey Rebel

The dry leaf is pretty earl grey style as it is accented with blue cornflowers. The scent is pretty standard citrus and bergamont earl grey.

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I followed the steeping instructions provided, boiling water for 2-3 minutes.

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Steeped up, this is quite a different earl grey! The flavor is heavy on lemon. There are orange bergamot notes with the tannic brisk assam. This earl grey is very heavy on the citrus, without being tart or heavy – the lemon lifts and brightens it lightly. A rebel earl grey!

Mighty Mango

Might Mango is a mango sencha green tea! This tea is accented with sunflowers.

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I almost messed this one up, expecting a 2 minute infusion. However the instructions say 10-20 seconds, I ended up with 30. The water temperature is 80c/175f. Oddly, I forgot to photo this one steeped up. No redos as I drank the entire sample!

The fast brew of the sencha got just the buttery elements, with little marine or bitterness. The flavor is soft, light, buttery and fruity mango. I wished I made this tea iced as it would of been able to take advantage of the fresh fruity flavor. This green was okay – nothing unique to this blend but flavor wise was good.

Vanilla Cupcake

Vanilla Cupcake is a rooibos blend. I figure by the name that this is just a vanilla rooibos, but looking at the description and ingredients – it has orange, banana chips, papaya, and rose.

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Steeping instructions were pretty standard at boil for 3-5 minutes.

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I do not like red rooibos. True Tea Club will customize it if you notify them if there is a loose leaf you don’t like and I likely would of said no to rooibos. However, this Vanilla Cupcake rooibos isn’t bad. It is very vanilla creamy and softly fruity. I can’t taste the specific fruits, but I can pick up the sweet and smooth of banana and papaya. The rooibos isn’t watery or taste like red wood landscaping bits as the vanilla and flavoring is strong. They were certainly going for a cupcake piled with icing, vs most cake blends that just go for that yellow cake taste.

Rainbow Chaser

Rainbow Chaser is a herbal blend that looks like a lot of fun due to the colour! This is a blend of apple, blackberry leaves, peppermint, orange peels, sultanas, cornflower, marigold, and rose.

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This one had the biggest contrast for steeping instructions – boiling for 5-10 minutes. I steeped for 7 minutes.

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This herbal has a lot going on that it makes your head spin. It is minty, fruity, citrusy, herby, mellow, and sweet – a rainbow confetti explosion of herbal notes. It is hard to comment more on this blend, there is just a lot of flavors happening at once. It is pretty fun, but also hard to get your head around.


The True Tea Club has lots of fun and unconventional tea blends if you are looking for a flavored tea subscription. I found Earl Grey Rebel and Vanilla Cupcake to be the strongest of the lineup I tried. I do like there is some customization/consideration if you don’t like certain type of loose leaf tea. The True Tea Club offering a vegan, dairy free, and nut free options is very good and a strong recommendation if you have those dietary restrictions. A pool of 200 teas is impressive too – getting repeats or worrying about bored is a concern of mine for tea subscriptions. The True Tea Club is a great option for UK tea drinkers, and not bad for international, especially if you opt for the bigger sized subscription to get the most out of your shipping cost.

My only beef is the serving size, I’d like to see weight of what teas you get or consideration of some teas you just need to leaf more than 1 teaspoon. 1 teaspoon is also on the small end of serving sizes, with most big flavored tea sellers opting for 2 teaspoons up to 1 tablespoon as they consider most people tend to use mugs.

(tea provided for review)

Winter Alishan and Roasted Dong Ding from Tillerman Tea

Time for some winter oolongs! Today we have Tillerman Tea‘s 2016 winter Alishan and Roasted Dong Ding.

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2016 Winter Alishan Oolong

Gorgeous dry leaf here! The leaf is big, emerald bright green, with a mouth watering buttery scent.

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I did this gongfu style, 1 gram to 15ml of leaf, steeping with boiling water and fast infusions. The tea steeps up a light marigold with a soft floral scent. Interestingly, the hot leaf smells like flowers and sticky rice.

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First, Second, and Third Infusion: Winter Alishan sips in soft, floral and notes of linen and snap peas, with a heavy cream body. The finish is bright and sweet with a fruity buttercup floral aftertaste. This tea feels heavy, but tastes on the light side.

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Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: Aftertaste is here! Alishan sips soft and light a slap of buttery, but the aftertaste is a heavy punchy floral and sweetness. There is a slight astringency that leaves a funny toothy feeling, but that gets the aftertaste built. The body is together and heavy slick feeling. As a physical body feel, the tea sits heavy on the back of my tongue and throat. I am surprised how buttery the Alishan is, it is certainly more buttery than other Alishans and likely due to it being a winter tea.

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Seventh and Eighth Infusion: I did long infusions here. The final one I didn’t keep track of… it steeped as long as it took to unload and reload a dishwasher. The Alishan got bitter and dry, with a bit of buttery floral flavor, and strong bitter vegetable and floral aftertaste.

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Overall, Tillerman Tea has a nice winter Alishan! The buttery notes are nice and contrast nicely with the brightness of this tea. The floral aftertaste is wonderful too. The leaves look impressive! Lord Sluggert ignored the pile and went for the mega leaf. Sadly, as I checked the shop, this one is out of stock. That said, you’ll want to hold tight for the 2017 harvest.

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Roasted Dong Ding

The leaf is small rolled balls that smell sweet and roasty. I am excited to try Tillerman Tea’s 2016 winter roasted Dong Ding. I had their green Dong Ding, wishing it was roasted.

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I did the same steeping instructions as the winter alishan. Steeped up, smells like I was roasting nuts on my front lawn. It smells roasty and grassy.

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First, Second, and Third Infusion: The flavor is soft, sweet, roasty, creamy and mineral. The body is slick feeling leaving a nice balmy feeling in the mouth. The aftertaste slips in slowly, with a bit of a sweet cream and slight floral note.  I like how the roast is not ashy or burnt, and balanced well with the mineral and sweetness.

Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: The colour got a touch deeper gold.

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Tillerman Tea’s roasted Dong Ding got a bit of a bite to it now, a sharper roast taste and bitterness to it. There is astringency to it, like there is the greenness of the oolong popping out, losing some of that slick body. The floral aftertaste is still present, which I enjoy.

Eighth and Ninth Infusion: These infusions were quite bitter, the green in this tea got thoroughly cooked here. I decided this tea was done.

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Tillerman Tea’s 2016 winter Roasted Dong Ding is a pretty good daily drinker and I personally liked it more than the unroasted Dong Ding. It is on the lighter side of the roast, so I found the early infusions were the best – this isn’t a long haul dark roast oolong. The roast is well done to not be ashy or burnt tasting. This tea is inexpensive at $5.50 an ounce.

(tea provided for review)

March 2017 White2Tea Club feat. Heicha Comparison and GZ Dry Storage Puer

This month’s White2Tea club is an interesting one – 2013 Anhua Heicha (30 grams), Aged Kang Zhuan Sichuan Heicha (15 grams), and  2006 Guangzhou dry storage Qingbing sheng puer (50 grams). Everything in this month I was excited to try, lets get to it!

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March 2017 White2Tea Club Heicha Comparison

Both heichas are club exclusive.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method:

The 2013 Anhua Heicha looks very strange with the sharp shape and layered look! This tea was part of a giant brick, cut down to size.

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The Aged Kang Zhuan Sichuan is big and leafy with big sticks.

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I used 1 gram to 14ml leaf to vessel ratio for both teas. I broke the leaf up a bit, which was easy to do with my fingers as both were easy to split the layers. I did 2 rinses and let them sit without water for a few minutes to steam open a bit. The 2013 Anhua being the one that really needed the extra time to open up.

First, Second, and Third Infusion: Steeped up, these teas are still night and day. The 2013 has a hot pumpkin scent – like old days of halloween when people put candles instead of LEDs in their pumpkins. The Aged Kang Zhuan Sichuan gave me a repulsed reaction as it smells like old cigarettes, very much like my long deceased chain smoking grandma’s purse.

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2013 Anhua Heicha – Sips in pumpkin seedy with a thick viscous texture. The finish has an interesting sweetness, like eating mashed sweet potato. Early steeps is quite delicious – it is simple and sweet.

Aged Kang Zhuan Sichuan – I think the smell has really thrown me off. The flavor is ashy, medicinal herbal that makes me clench thinking bitterness is coming, but never does. It is smooth, but gosh the flavor and scent are making me question why I am drinking this.

Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion: 2013 Anhua Heicha color shift!

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2013 Anhua Heicha – This heicha is tasting more earth and pumpkin. A bit like roasted squash and savory, but with a bright sweetness that is so natural and refreshing. It is giving my body a feel in my jaw and lifting my skull cap… to insert a candle into my pumpkin head.

Aged Kang Zhuan Sichuan – Well, it tastes more melded together, but still very ashy and flat medicinal. It has a dry, almost tart, feel to it that makes you clench your teeth, squint, and suck in air.

Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Infusion: Color shift again! The 2013 Anhua Heicha has opened up more, whereas the Aged Kang Zhuan Sichuan is fading.

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2013 Anhua Heicha – With each infusion, this tea got sweeter and more crispy pumpkin. This is such a fall tea that is has me wishing for autumn while it is spring.

Aged Kang Zhuan Sichuan – The scent and flavor met at the perfect point here. This is a 100% dupe of what church smells like, but in taste and smell. Myrrh or Frankincense? It is not sandalwood or amber, nor smokey. It has that lingering ash presence too.

Each steeping for both teas had a bit of speckles on the bottom of the cup, but I could not taste or feel it. Enhance!

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Eleventh, Twelfth, and Thirteenth Infusion: Extended steeps here, about 15-30 minutes. I felt too lazy to use a filter on this infusion.

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2013 Anhua Heicha – This is very bright and flavorful, like squash and a tang of medicinal starting to show. This tastes like I can get a long power infusion or boil on the stove for the ultimate pay off. Even the leaf is still chunky, but my long 30 minute infusion didn’t get it open, I will have to resort to boil to finish it. I’ll have to pass today, this is too much heicha at once!

Aged Kang Zhuan Sichuan – This consistently tastes like the last steeping bracket of church incense, just lightening with each infusion until it died. This heicha oddly grew on me after the 8th infusion.

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I dub the 2013 Anhua Heicha “Pumpkin Log”. The Aged Kang Zhuan Sichuan “Church Log”. Both can go with the legendary White2Tea Club December 2015 “Bacon Log” smoke bomb. Ha, I got all three and I can blend them into some sort of monster tea. I was chatting with Cwyn while I was drinking, and Thanksgiving came up, which is perfect for all these teas – autumn, church, family, and burnt food. These heichas were emotionally charged teas for me. I enjoyed Pumpkin Log for good flavor, feel, fun appearance, and longevity – I’d love to get more of this tea! I quite disliked Church Log at first, but it tamed down over time.

March 2017 White2Tea Club 2006 Guangzhou dry storage Qingbing sheng puer

It is hinted in the handout that this Qingbing could possibly be for sale in the future.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

The leaf looks like it was once pressed, but got pretty broken up. I got some big chunks, but also some loose bits.

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I did pretty standard 1 gram to 15ml, steeping with boiling water.

First, Second, and Third Infusion: The flavor is on the light side to start. The flavor is a bit honey date, amber, with a touch of floral and apricot. It lacks that funky basement and musty taste. Very easy to drink and a bit on the subtle side. The texture is slippery and coats down the digestive tract.

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Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: The flavor is at maximum here – it’s a bit metallic, yet also syrupy fruity. It is like drinking the tea version of a tin of the light syrup packed with stone fruits. I find with the syrupy throat coating feature, makes this tea very approachable and friendly to drink. I am starting to feel it now, with a spring in my step and feeling fuzzy warm.

Seventh, Eight, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Infusion: The colour is coming out to this gorgeous dark, matching the wet storage Qingbing from last month.march 2017 white2tea club heicha qingbing oolong owl (15)

The flavor is pretty similar to the previous notes of metallic syrup fruit, but I am getting a bit of floral. There is astringency starting leaving a lightly gritty feeling in the mouth.

Twelfth and Thirteenth Infusion: I swear this tea should be dead by now, but it feels there is quite a bit left in it. The flavor is starting to go, it dipped to mineral and stone fruit sweet, but with still some kick to it.

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Fourteenth Infusion: I had this steeping for 45 minutes as I had to leave the house at the last minute and left my tea. The flavor is a strong mineral and stone fruit with a bit of sweetness. I think I could boil this on the stove for one more infusion, but I’ll admit defeat and let Lord Sluggert have it.

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2006 Guangzhou dry storage Qingbing sheng puer  is a solid sheng, but also friendly and approachable.  I quite enjoyed this Qingbing and hope we can get our hands on more sometime. In all, March 2017 was a fun White2Tea club to drink. All these teas I will likely save to share with friends as they were an interesting experience.


Fujian Rain & Fujian Baroque from Adagio Teas

Lets try a couple of Adagio Teas Fujian Teas – Fujian Rain and Fujian Baroque!

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Right off the bat I noticed something odd with my samples. On the website, they don’t post the weight of their samples, other than “X cups”. With the samples in my possession, I learn that Fujian Rain is a 14 gram sample, whereas Fujian Baroque says 23 grams. Looking at the website, both teas aren’t sold in a consistent size either – Rain is sold in 2oz/8oz, Baroque 3oz/16oz, but close in unit price. That said, the next person who asks me, “How big are Adagio’s samples?” the answer would be to ask Adagio.

Fujian Rain from Adagio Teas

Fujian Rain is a Shui Xian oolong, renamed. The dry leaf smells toasty, but otherwise is a fat twists of oolong. Steeped up, Fujian Rain smells like toasted rice, and comes out a lovely clear gold colour.

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Gongfu Style: I used 1 gram of leaf to 12ml of vessel size, steeping quickly with boiling water.

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First and Second Infusion: Fujian Rain sips in a slight peaches and cream fruity with heavy rocky mineral notes. Sips in really smooth and creamy, being really easy to drink. The flavor intensity is quite light, leaving you to concentrate on the mineral notes, or just mindlessly drink. The finish gives you a soft peachy aftertaste, but is brief.

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Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: The fruit notes slipped fast, leaving a straight mineral taste with a savory clean feeling in the mouth. The flavor level did not increase, so it is just as delicate as before. Each infusion the flavor slipped further. Despite the last infusing being 10 minutes, there was nothing there.

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Western Style: I used The Wall mug, to try this at an extended infusion. I used 3 grams and boiling water. The instructions say 200f, but I went with boiling as I knew this tea could easily take the higher temperature.

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Western style you really miss the peach notes, going heavier and stronger for mineral and savory. I continued to brew it and it got brighter and more mineral. I got a bit of tart peach notes by the end. It does get a touch dry but overall pleasant to drink.

Fujian Rain is the lightest shui xian I’ve ever had, it is quite dainty and gentle. It does make for a quick, easy to drink daily drinker. It seems you cannot oversteep this tea either, so you can rock it in a travel tea tumbler all day. A great work and travel tea, as it is very flexible. I prefer it gongfu style in the early infusions – that fruity flavor and rock mineral is a very good combination.

Fujian Baroque from Adagio Teas

Fujian Baroque‘s leaf is more fine thin leaves with a deep woodsy scent.

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Gongfu Style: I used 1gram of leaf to 15ml of vessel size, steeping in boiling water. Steeped up, this smells lightly like charcoal.

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First and Second Infusion: Fujian Baroque tea is more potent in flavor than Fujian Rain, but slightly similar as it still has a gentle quality to it. It is sweet, tannic tart fruity. There is a background of richness of cocoa. The texture is quite slick. It has a looseness to it, despite being more flavorful, it still has a delicate aspect to it, as the flavors hit at the end of the sip.

Third Infusion: This was a stand alone best infusion – it is upfront cocoa flavor with a finish of stone fruits. It isn’t tannic here either, and overall quite smooth. Very good!

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Fourth and Fifth Infusion: Fujian Baroque took a jump and the flavor lost a lot of the cocoa and fruity, leaving just a mineral flavor. Each steeping it lost more of that awesome cocoa flavor, but the mineral flavor is nicely soft.

Sixth and Seventh Infusion: I pushed this tea hard, giving a 10 min and 15 min steeping, hoping to get more cocoa. Unfortunately all I get is more mineral notes. However, despite my crazy steepings, it did not get bitter or dry.

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Western Style: I used 3 grams and boiling water – more or less the same directions on the package.

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The western version, and over extended infusion, was quite good. The flavor is cocoa and oddly less tannic. The cocoa is as intense as gongfu steep number 3, but is present throughout the infusion, wit ha good balance of the mineral and spice. The spice is quite light, like a hint of cinnamon in a bran muffin. The aftertaste is cocoa. Overall, this is a better western tea as it has the good strong cocoa notes, with nice balance. I kept steeping this tea, and it got a bit stronger as I went on, building up more sweet mineral flavor, but did not get bitter or dry.

Fujian Baroque is a great tea for black tea lovers who want that chocolate fruity black. I can see this tea being great to pair with sweet treats, especially chocolate. It is also a work horse tea, not getting dry and or overly potent. This is a good morning wake up tea, paired with a pastry and you are in for a great day.

(Tea provided for review | Adagio Affiliate links)

Will it Gongfu? Oolong Edition

We must ask the age old question…. Will it Gongfu? I’m sure it has been burning a hole in your gaiwan on whether non-gongfu typical teas will gongfu. There is quite a lot of things to cover, so just oolong for today.

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Will it Gongfu? Flavored Oolong

I will be using Banana Oolong from 52 Teas. I admit, this tea is old and I need to drink it before it goes funky. However, this is a good blend that has things I like to see in a flavored tea – mostly tea (not trail mix), true to flavor, and does not have sugar or stevia. This tea tastes like banana and not horrible artificial banana I was terrorized as penicillin as a kid. Will it gongfu?

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Steeping Instructions: I treated this as any other oolong but with a twist – I leafed it a touch more to compensate for the giant banana chunks. I used boiling water, 1 gram to 10ml ratio. Do not rinse and go right to your first infusion.

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First infusion: This was great – the best infusion I’ve ever had from this tea. It tasted like soft, creamy banana with a creamy background. I was happy it wasn’t a potent fake banana taste, but I believe I selected the right tea seller to avoid this.

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Second, Third, and Fourth Infusion: The second infusion was okay – it was a soft banana flavor balanced with a green floral oolong, a bit more similar to the western infusion. Further infusions, this tea went downhill fast. As expected, we lost the added flavoring and banana chunks generally don’t add much to the tea besides a mush and a visual. The tea became bitter and harsh, as the oolong wasn’t up to the challenge. Sifting through the leaves, there’s some good pretty leaves, but underneath is lots of lawn mowered bits. I am spoiled with drinking fancy pants Taiwanese oolongs these days, but generally tea blends don’t use the greatest teas as they get flavored anyways. I’ve heard a few tea blenders that have said cheap-o fannings are the best for flavored teas. You want heavy flavor fast as these teas are not for the long haul re-steeping.

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Flavored Oolong – Will it Gongfu?  Not really. You get 1 awesome infusion, and a resteep – not much difference than steeping it western. After this experience, simply leafing more and steeping shorter in western style volume made this tea pretty good.

Will It Gongfu? Rose Scented Four Seasons Oolong

Rose Scented Four Seasons Oolong is from Cameron Tea, a Taiwanese tea wholesaler that has some really nice oolongs. Among the oolong is rose petals. Will it gongfu?

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Steeping Instructions: I found this tea worked better leafed hard, around 1 gram to 12ml leaf to vessel ratio, steeped in boiling water. When I leafed less it was quite weak. Do not rinse – you will miss out if you toss out that steep!

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First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: The tea is nicely buttery, crisp fresh vegetal, with a finish a hint of rose. The first infusion is delicate and softly rosy. With each infusion, the aftertaste buildings more rose. The last infusion started getting dry and the flavor slipped fast, but I had plenty of rose flavor to enjoy. This is actually a well done, good quality, and delicate tea. Western style, this tea is good too.

I feel guilty not steeping this in glass as I lost on some great photo opportunities. I also was too busy taking photos of the leaf that I forgot to take a picture of the actual tea it made.

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The leaf is very pretty and in one piece!

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Rose Scented Four Seasons Oolong – Will it Gongfu? Yes, do it. You get more out of it than western. It isn’t indestructible of a tea, but this one does well gongfu and western. However, I feel this tea is better gongfu than western as you get continuous good infusions, changing flavor, and more re-infusions.

Will it Gongfu? Twinnings China Oolong

I snagged these Twinnings China Oolong tea bags from my last cruise. They were SO BAD I had to take them home to openly mock them. Twinnings China Oolong is a tea that could turn off someone from oolong. I don’t know how they could pass this tea off as an oolong… or a tea. I can dupe this tea by steeping cardboard and pencil shavings. I had to be pretty tea drunk to even attempt this. Let’s gongfu it!

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Steeping Method: 1 gram of “leaf” to 18ml of vessel, flash steeped with boiling water. I did not drink the rinse, it looked pretty bad.

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First, Second, Third Infusion: I got 3 steepings in, all pour outs. First off, the leaves are just dust, making a huge mess everywhere. The mess is just as bad if I gongfu’d glitter. It steeped up really cloudy and weird.

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Hydrated, the “leaf” becomes a paste and completely jams the filter.

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Flavor wise, actually better than western style, but that is not saying much. The flavor is REALLY bad bitter, with notes of cardboard, how Goodwill/Salvation army smells like, and strange sour floral. It is also mind blowing astringent. Western style you mostly taste cardboard, but at least gongfu you get a slap of floral.

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Twinnings China Oolong – Will it Gongfu? No. It doesn’t even tea to begin with.