Discontinued Teas – Finding old favorite teas and heartbreak

I write this as I sip at one of my favorite teas – Good Morning Sunshine – a guayusa citrus blend from Butiki Teas. Not too long ago, Butiki Teas announced she is closing up shop.

My undergrad major is psychology. In a marketing psychology class I came to realize what drives me to buy stuff – limited quantities. If I have the feeling if I miss out on something, I freak out. When I heard Butiki Teas was closing down, I ordered a bunch of my favorites (and some new teas that I would regret not trying), not waiting for any sales, as if I miss out I will be sad.

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Sadly, some teas aren’t forever. Your favorite teas could get discontinued or the seller closes up shop. The tea could be seasonal and be gone for most of the year or never comes back the next year. Your tea could of been a limited run for that year and whatever was produced is all there is.

There is a struggle though - for most teas you can’t simply buy a couple pounds of tea and make it last forever. Teas go bad, no matter how good you store it. In my experience, tea blends with chocolate or fruit will turn funny colours after a year or two. I’ve had some tea blends that get a sour smell after a few years, even without additional bits added. For unflavored teas I found the flavor will start getting stale after awhile, though they seem to last much longer than blends as they don’t turn funky. However, this is all climate dependent – if you live in a more warm/humid climate, your teas will not keep as long. With that said, if you plan to stock pile your favorite before it goes away – buy enough that you know you can finish, or experience the heartbreak of “My favorite tea that I cannot get anymore has gone bad!” and cry as you throw your sour tasting & grey looking tea in the compost bin.

Pu’er is a completely different animal. Pu’er will keep much longer and can get better with age (provided you have good storage.) HOWEVER pu’er its self is a limited quantity item. If you love that 2004 sheng, they can’t make more of that same 2004 sheng pu’er in 2014. White2Tea’s blog states buying pu’er like this – 3 Tenets, and in sum of the final tenet, Hit it hard – if you find a pu’er you like, buy as much as you can as it’ll be expensive or be gone forever! I’ve already experienced heart break on a few pu’er cakes – it was affordable when I purchased it, next year it wasn’t so affordable to buy more OR was gone completely.

The Quest for your Discontinued Tea

Find it from another tea seller. Often, teas are sourced. Tea sellers purchase from others wholesale, repackage and sell in their shop. Or the tea will come from a specific tea farm or estate. If you drink a lot of tea from many sellers, browse many tea sellers, you can pick out which sellers do sourced teas or ask other fellow tea drinkers. Some tea sellers are upfront where they get their tea from, though if tea seller is closing up shop, they might tell you who they purchased tea from. This solution can direct you to the source to purchase (though potentially only in mass quantities) or another seller who has the same tea. Unfortunately (and in my case with Butiki Teas), many tea sellers blend tea themselves, so when they are gone, they are gone for good – so stock up what you can drink!

For Pu’er, say you love a particular tea factory, you can hit google or ebay/aliexpress and various sellers may sell it (hopefully real ones!), otherwise you should of tenet 3′d! Sorry!

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Buy the tea off a fellow tea drinker. Hit up your favorite Tea community (Steepster and r/tea as suggestions). Someone out there might have your tea and be willing to part with it – for swaps of your current tea or cash. There has been a few times I’ve had teas that have been discontinued that I’ve traded away to someone who has been questing for - I know they love that tea more than I do. Tea Karma, hoot!

When all fails and you cannot find your discontinued tea

Find a similar tea. Feel free to ask tea communities for recommendations “I like X tea that was sold be Y seller, it is a (green/black/whatever) and it tastes like this ______. Is there anything similar or teas you think I’d like?”

Find a new favorite. Try something new – buy a bunch of tea samples from a new seller or two. You can also try joining a travelling tea box and sample teas you normally wouldn’t buy. You can try swapping for some new teas with a fellow tea drinker. You can subscribe to a monthly tea box that will send you new teas every month.

Change your tea habits or get a tea goal. Okay, this is a stretch and a combination of the 2 points above. Maybe this is my mental tea defense mechanism to avoid the discontinued tea heartbreak, but I prefer to try new teas instead of drinking the same teas, so I’m used to always having something new. For tea goals, these will divert your attention elsewhere, maybe find a few new favorite teas.  There’s been times that I quested like, “I really enjoyed seller X’s high mountain oolong. Crap, seller X is no more or sold out. Well, let’s quest for an EVEN better high mountain oolong!” or “Hmm, I haven’t given Oriental Beauty oolongs much love, let’s try and find something outstanding!”

What do you do with the last of your favorite tea

As I said above, you can only store a tea for so long, so you should only stockpile as much as you can drink for a year or two (barring pu’er). Do your best to store these additional teas as best as you can – air tight, dark tins in a cool place or try vacuum sealing your teas.

In the end, be sure to drink your favorite tea and enjoy it. Taste every last drop and remember the memories of the tea.

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The Jabberwocky Tea from Whispering Pines Tea Co – Tea Review

I’ve been tea reviewing mostly straight teas these days, as it seems that is what has been arriving here at Oolong Owl, as well as the teas I’ve been purchasing for myself. Today’s tea is Whispering Pines Tea Co’s The Jabberywocky tea – a straight/unflavored blend of their Spring 2014 Harvest Fujian, Ailaoshan and Wild Arbor Yunnan black teas.

Admittedly, the name of this tea is what drew me in, and the good ratings and recommendations from others cemented in that I needed to try The Jabberywocky, a tea to serve to the Jabberywocky!

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Dry Leaf

The Jabberywocky tea’s dry leaf looks like simple wire twists with the odd deep brown highlight. This tea is very fragrant  – when you open the package the smell takes you to a thick woody forest with apple trees.

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Steeping Instructions

The packaging states 1 tablespoon of tea leaf with 205f water, with a steeping time of 3 mins. On their website brewing instructions include gong fu style instructions – 1.5g leaf per 30ml, starting the steep at 20 seconds.

Alas, I ended up doing the western instructions before I knew there was gong fu brewing potential here. After the 3 minute steeping, my cup of The Jabberywocky tea came out even more fragrant with a dark amber colour. The woodsy fruit sweet and toasty scent is very comforting.

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Tasting of Whispering Pines Tea Co’s The Jabberywocky tea

Very complex cup of tea! Sips in sweet like honey, with a thick custard texture that is super smooth. Notes of yams, cherry wood, bit of malt and cocoa in the middle of the sip, with a sweet finish of burnt caramel and plum. Aftertaste at first is light refreshing at the back of the mouth, with a lingering toasted bread crust, woodsy and caramel taste. Very clean flavored tea, with no bitterness or dryness.

Resteep: I did a 4.5 minute reinfusion. The resteeping of The Jabberwocky tea is much sweeter – honey, light caramel, custard, bread and yam. Very good resteep, I’d be sure to resteep this tea every time!

Comments

A lot going on this Whispering Pines Tea Co’s The Jabberywocky tea! Whispering Pines Tea Co is quite impressive with their high quality teas.

If you’ve had Whispering Pine Tea Co’s Alilaoshan Black, this black tea blend tastes strongly like it with the yam notes, but brighter in flavor and not as thick, malty, bready and molasses in taste. The Jabberywocky tea is more smooth and no dryness. I think it is worth trying both teas, then choose the one you like best. I’m leaning to Ailaoshan Black as I like the richer flavor, but Whispering Pines Tea Co’s The Jabberywocky tea would be perfect for a black tea drinker that wants something really smooth and complex.

Our Tea Owl agreed this tea would be a great distraction to the Jabberwocky, though he is unsure if he’d want to share his tea with the beast.

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2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer from Mandala Tea – Tea Review

Let’s taste Mandala Tea’s 2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer! This tea was handed picked from ancient tea trees in the Yiwu area of China. Ohhh yeah I love a good ancient tree raw pu’er and what a treat as it is from 2004!

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Dry Leaf

This tea comes in bricks that are being aged away, but Mandala Tea will break off pieces for you when you purchase. I bought 1 oz to sample. To my surprise, one of the chunks of tea I got is the size of the packaging, a big honking piece of tea!

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The dry leaf of 2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer seems pretty leafy with some long thick veining through the compressed cake. The color is a lovely dark autumn feel of reddish browns and camouflage greens.

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Steeping Instructions

For 2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer I went with boiling water, using 1 gram of dry leaf per 15ml of vessel space in my gaiwan.

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I did a rinse and started with 30 second steepings, adding an additional 15 seconds along the way. With the piece of tea I’m steeping, it kind of looks like a star destroyer.

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Tasting of Mandala Tea’s 2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer

First Infusion: My first cup of 2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer came out gorgeously clear with a glow of light orange. The scent is very fragrant with forest and a light wisps of smoke.

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2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer sips in amber sweet with a moderate amount of flavor. Mid sip I’m getting forest floor notes and leafy – like I’m chilling in a damp mossy tree with fallen, lightly charred leaves. There is a teeny hint of smoke on top of the leaf notes. Finally, the after taste is a deliciously floral peachy.

Second Infusion: WHOA! This tea now has a mutant nuclear orange color! This tea glows!

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The flavor is strong and intense. Very earthy in flavor with sap amber sweet, sticky tree bark, dried lightly sun charred autumn leaves and moss notes. 2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer finishes with a quick aftertaste of floral and peaches.

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Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: Another flavor shift and darker mutant vibrant pumpkin color!

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I think I steeped this one a bit too long as the flavor is mega BAM strong, but quite nice. Next time I steep this tea I will add 10 second additional infusions instead of 15 seconds, or maybe start at 15 seconds. To slow down, I did these 3 steepings with the same steep time to slow down. The flavor is still very earthy moss forest floor peach, but now with a refreshing minty camphor note. It sounds weird, but the camphor notes really ties the tea together!

Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Infusion: As the steepings go on the camphor note gets stronger. With that said, sipping in Mandala Tea’s 2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer at this stage is a refreshing experience. There is also a light dryness, 1/10 on the astringency meter as there is a feeling of dryness sticking to the teeth. The camphor perks you up , while the earth and forest taste mellows you. I love how relaxing and chill this series of infusions are! I am one with the forest, hoot!

Hey Mandala tea, you weren’t joking about the big leaf. These leaves are huge!

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Honestly, these are the biggest leaves I’ve seen for a puer. It is an impressive leaf size for an oolong, I’m impressed! I only found a couple big leaves, mixed in with smaller leaf bits.

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Tenth and Eleventh Infusion: I’ve increased steep time, now adding 30 seconds to the timer. The flavor is getting lighter now, still camphor, mellow earth, with a sweet finish. There is a little more dryness, now 3/10 astringency, but very enjoyable.

Tweltfth, Thirteenth, Fourteeth and Fifiteenth Infusion: Mandala Tea’s 2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer is light and mellow. Little amber sweet again with a camphor note finish, carrying the tea longer. I feel I could get a bunch more steepings, as the camphor seems to want to stick around, but this tea has outlasted me. I feel really chill and focused – nicely grounded from drinking this tea.

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Comments

Mandala Tea’s 2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer is the perfect autumn tea for color and woodsy experience. Drinking this tea makes me feel like it is a chilly autumn evening, carved pumpkins with candles in them in the background, or I’m outside walking through the park (back home in Vancouver) with the falling leaves of fall. I love the comforting and snuggly notes of woodsy earth in 2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer, with the perky grounding of the camphor notes.

The low down - 2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer has a really nice price for an aged sheng. At the time I write this, $8 an oz! I know if you are on a tight budget, one ends up buying the newer pu’er teas as they tend to be cheaper. With that said, if you want to try an aged sheng for a really nice price, I’d snag Mandala Tea’s 2004 Big Leaf Yiwu Gushu Raw Puer before the price goes up!

October Simple Loose Leaf Selection Club

Happy October! Autumn is my favorite season, though here in Southern California it still feels like summer, with it being 30c/85F (and a horrible heat wave) throughout September and into October! BOOOOO! Bring on boots, hoodie and scarf weather – though it barely gets that cold here for it!

With that said, a new month means the October Simple Loose Leaf Selection Club! However, Simple Loose Leaf Selection Club is changing their formats – switching from a monthly selection box to a Co-op format.

With a monthly subscription (cheaper, at $14.99 a month), you get a sampler pack every month. Simple Loose Leaf will have an online shop to purchase teas that you sampled. With the subscription, you get 50% off at the store. This co-op format will let you try even more teas, with the flexibility to purchase your favorites at a great price.

Anyways, this is the last month of the old format of the Simple Loose Leaf Selection Club – here are the teas for October: Peppermint Herbal, White Pear Tea, Yunnan Jig Black, Spiced Pu’er and Hojicha Green.

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Tasting of October Simple Loose Leaf Selection Club

I will be sampling Houjicha green,  Yunnan Jig Black and Spiced Pu’er.

Houjicha green is a roasted Bancha tea from Japan. Dry leaf is twiggy milk chocolate color.  Very fragrant toasty.

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The steeped tea is a strongly scented roast with a clear and crisp light brown colour. Houjicha green sips in sweet, roasty with hay, nutty and caramel notes. I’d say this is a medium roast hojicha, and very easy to drink, perfect for a cool fall day.

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Yunnan Jig black tea leaves are accented with the odd gold tip or leaf, with a wavy twist appearance. The scent is fruity and caramel like.

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After a 3 minute steeping, I had a brown ochre cup of tea with that classic earthy fragrance from a yunnan black tea.  The flavor is on the moderate side with a sweet honey, woodsy (almost like a savory woodsy pine/cedar) with a smooth silky texture. Very easy to drink with no dry or bitter notes and a pleasing amount of sweetness to drink this tea on its own.

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Spiced Pu’er – a pu’er blend? Yes please! This one has cinnamon bark, orange peel, ginger root, aniseed and spice flavor.

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I did a long steeping, 5 minutes, and Spice Pu’er came out a thick black colour with a bit of film on the top. The scent of the tea is a rich, ginger spice. Sips in a little creamy with rich, earthy and a little mushroomy pu’er. The tea finishes sweet and spicy with ginger and cinnamon flavor. The pu’er is quite low on the fermented flavor. I’d give the spice intensity at 4/10 as it’s a little spicy but not overpowering.

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Comments

Admittedly, I will miss the old format as I can choose up front the teas I like with a preview of next months sample – I do a number of monthly beauty boxes and I love when you get to choose at least 1 item! We’ll have to see how the Simple Loose Leaf Co-op format goes – I can see it a great deal for building up your tea stash with favorites and amazing for a workplace teas collection!

Bonus: Spooky overexposed Tea Owl!

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Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black Tea from Yunnan Sourcing – Tea Review

Tea Review time! Today, Yunnan Sourcing’s Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black tea. This is the Spring 2014 batch from Simao prefecture, China.

I first saw this tea when Yunnan Sourcing posted a picture of the leaf on facebook. Immediately the Tea Owl alert went off for “OMG GORGEOUS LOOKING TEA!” With one of my recent Yunnan sourcing purchases I did not hesitate to buy 50 grams of Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black tea. When my package arrive, it was the first tea I cracked into and sampled. With the crazy amount of tea that comes to me and the Tea Owls, it’s a rare site for me to sample a tea immediately.

Dry Leaf

Gorgeous! Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black tea looks like long spindles of gold with black insides. The dry tea has a lightly sweet scent.

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Steeping Instructions

I decided to steep Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black tea gong fu style so I can use my black yixing pot. I love my black yixing pot though it has been looking a little ugly these days. With that said, I used 5 grams of tea and boiling water. I started with a quick rinse, and starting the steepings at 15 seconds, adding an additional 15 seconds as I went on.

Tasting of Yunnan Sourcing’s Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black tea

With the first infusion, the color of Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black is bronze tipped with a gold tint - quite luxurious!  Sweet mellow creamy scent.

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First Infusion: Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black sips in sweet with a heavy, thick creamy body. The flavor is light, typical for a first steeping, with honey notes, a little malt, vanilla with a light nutty finish.

Second Infusion: Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black Tea is ramping up and very tasty! A hint roasted nut notes appear in this steeping along with some caramel honey notes. It’s like drinking liquid toasted nutty candy brittle held together with spun caramel. The color shifted to a beautiful reddish amber.

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Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Infusion: The “meat” of the tea session – the flavor of Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black Tea. The flavor has shifted to be quite malty and sweet buried in the thick creamy body. There are notes of toasted nut caramel honey as well. I inhaled these steepings so fast that I only got the aftertaste while waiting for the next infusion to steep, which is a light stone fruit flavor – maybe peach? With each infusion, the tea is getting sweeter and more fruity. By the way, so bitter or dryness in these steepings.

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Seventh and Eighth Infusion: The flavor of Imperial Golde Needle Yunnan Black Tea was starting to wane, so I increased the infusions to an additional 30s. The flavor shifted to be more bright, sweet, fruity, malty, vanilla and milk chocolate. The nutty notes are gone and this tea has a ovaltine flavor to it from the malt and chocolate. In these late steepings there is a bit of dryness, 1/10 on the Astringency Meter, with a bit of dryness sticking to the teeth after each sip.

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The Tea Owl and I discovered Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black tea is a dupe for light agave syrup!

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Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Infusion: Color dropped to a light gold.

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The final infusions of Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black Tea are super smooth with plenty of sweetness, light melty cocoa and a chocolate caramel after taste.

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Comments

Yunnan Sourcing’s Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black tea is very tasty – easy to drink, enough complexity to enjoy each infusion and beautiful appearance for both the dry leaf and steeped tea. If you love golden bud or golden needle black teas – this is a must try!

The price of Imperial Gold Needle Yunnan Black tea is very good too – around $7 for 50 grams, which is great for a high quality tea. At this time, the same tea is available at Yunnan Sourcing.us (US site) and the Autumn 2014 harvest is available at Yunnan Sourcing.com (Chinese site). I mostly buy pu’er and teaware from both Yunnan Sourcing sites, now I need to try out more of their other teas!

Bonus: Tea Owl leaf inspection!

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Pu-erh Bordeaux from Rishi Tea – Tea Review

Today’s tea review is Rishi Tea’s Pu-erh Bordeaux - an organic and fair trade certified pu’er tea with red wine grape skins, blackberries, raspberries and lavender flowers. Everything in this tea is organic!

Awhile back, fellow Steepster members who also are knitters/crocheters did a mystery swap of tea and yarn. I got 3 balls of yarn and this tea – Pu-erh Bordeaux! This is my first Rishi Tea.. not counting meeting them and drinking all their teas at the World Tea Expo 2014, haha! Looking at Rishi Teas, they have a huge line up of USDA organic teas – if you prefer buying organic, this is the tea place to check out!

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Dry Leaf

The dry leaf of Pu-erh Bordeaux features chunky looking bits of fruit with stocky pu’er tea. The tea has a light fruity scent.

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Steeping Instructions

On the box, Rishi Tea instructs me to steep 1 Tablespoon of tea, in boiling water for 5 minutes.

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Tasting of Rishi Tea’s Pu-erh Bordeaux

The colour of the brew is little cloudy/moderate debris reddish brown. If you are familiar with pu’er like me, you thought this tea would be close to jet black, especially since I steeped it for 5 minutes!

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The scent of Pu-erh Bordeaux is sweet, dry, bready and grapey, somewhat like wine. The flavor of Pu-erh Bordeaux is quite unique for a pu’er blend! Sips in with plenty of flavor without being thick or intense. First off, there is a backdrop of earthy woodsy cedar. As the sip goes on, it gets tart grapey, just like nibbling on a wine grape with the thick skin. End of sip it is pretty fruity, mostly grape, some blackberry flavor and a dried mission fig backup with a tart finish. I’d give it a 4/10 on the Tart Meter – it’s moderately tart, enough to sip as is, but some may want some sugar. If you sip Rishi Tea’s Pu-erh Bordeaux quickly, it combines to a woodsy red wine flavor. The aftertaste is interesting – it’s mostly cedar, some tart and a bit of fig. With each sip, the dryness in this tea grows to about a 3/10 on the Astringency Meter, tying in with the tartness of this blend.

There is no fermented flavors in the pu’er tea base, nor is this tea heavy or thick. The bottom of my cup has quite a bit of debris that I can feel texture wise. I ended up pouring out the last bit of tea before the next infusion. I used a fine stainless steel infuser which is pretty reliable so I was surprised I had debris.

Second Infusion: 6 minute resteeping. Wow, big flavor shift! The berry, red grape and tartness are mostly gone. With that said, I’m tasting mostly the pu’er base. The flavor is creamy, woodsy and earthy with a light tart finish of raspberries and grape. The tart level is a 1/10, and the dryness is gone too.

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Iced: I poured a stiff steeping of Pu-erh Bordeaux over iced. This one, as expected, was good iced – it was pretty woodsy with a grapey finish. The blend has just enough sweet from the fruity notes that you don’t need to add any extra sugar. I prefer Pu-erh Bordeaux hot, but iced is a nice alternative to enjoy tea on a hot day.

Comments

Rishi Tea’s Pu-erh Bordeaux is a tea for the wine tea and fruity tea lover. This blend is very good for a pu’er blend – one of the best pu’er blends I’ve had and a pu’er blend that is quite friendly to non-pu’er drinkers. I’m not big into wine, but found this tea grew on my after a few cups as the pu’er base is quite nicely paired with the fruity flavor.

In the end, I need to try more Rishi Teas!

Camellia Flower Cake aka God of Night Sweats Tea

While looking through the Pu’er section of Aliexpress I found this cake. It’s full name is “new product Flowers and plants in puer tea Snow mountain ancient tree camellia Pure and fresh and sweet honey Beauty care food” (I guess to use the entire character limit on the title). I’ve never had a Camellia flower tea before and the appearance is quite pretty.

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However, what got me was the description of the tea. Here’s a screen shot to immortalize this Camellia Flower Cake (if it wasn’t already immortal and saintly already). Please click on the photo to read the seller description of this tea.

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I do love some bad Google translations and this one seems godly. God of Night Sweats Godly. For $8, 200 gram cake, hilarious translation – why not? After linking this tea at Steepster Chat, it has been nonstop jokes about God of Night Sweats, prolonged Bear Soaks, Resistant to Impact tea, Shelf life of “jumps over Chen yue sweet”, good back to gan, “fat and moisture”.  By the way, other listings from this seller have plenty of translation fails, referring to one tea as “coffin sweepings” and pu’er “curing poison”.

The wrapper of Camellia Flower Cake is very pretty! Oddly, when I gave the cake a squeeze it felt kind of squishy, like it had a bit of give to it – very weird as I’m used to compressed teas being very dense.

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My cake came with a bracelet of some sort.

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It fits perfectly on Teal “pu’er pick” Owl! He has become a Owl Priest of God of Night Sweats! HOOT!

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Dry Leaf

Camellia Flower Cake / God of Night Sweats Tea unwrapped is a tightly compressed cake with a gorgeous yellow, reddish browns, and olive greens.  There are many teeny stamen things glittered all over the cake.

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I love the look of the top of cake as it looks like compressed flower petals with a watercolor washed color.

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As I pick up the cake to smell, it leaked out lots of little flower bits and stamens. The scent of Camellia Flower Cake aka God of Night Sweats Tea  is light, similar to a dry raw Puer like earthy floral scent.

Breaking off pieces of the Camellia Flower Cake aka God of Night Sweats Tea was interesting. It was really easy to pry off pieces that one probably doesn’t need a pu’er pick. Admittedly, picking this cake freaked me out – it pried apart like I was pu’er picking a chewy granola bar – the flowers were compressed like large flaked oatmeal and it was kinda stretchy, without being sticky.

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We struck gold! A golden corn kernel! Uhh is this supposed to be here? Must of been from the bears before they went in for their prolonged bear soak. I know bears like corn as bears ate my mom’s corn field. At least all I found that was weird was a corn kernel, no bear fur or fat and moisture.

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Steeping Instructions

I have no steeping instructions. I tried looking and most I could find is what others have done for similar cakes – but those cakes are usually a pu’er and camellia flower blend, not straight up blinding insanity of this resistant to impact tea.

With that said, I just let the inspiration of the God of Night sweats guide me to steep - boiling water, 7.5 grams of cake, no rinse. I started with 15 second steepings using a 200ml glass teapot, pouring through a gongfu tea strainer before serving. I increased steeping times up to additional minute.

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Tasting of Camellia Flower Cake aka God of Night Sweats Tea

The tea steeps up a light cloudy yellow - like the bear peed in the hot springs while soaking. Strong float scent coming from my cup, like hot steaming tulips.

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First Infusion: “The Enlightened Steeping.” Would you be surprised if this tea didn’t taste floral? Camellia Flower Cake aka God of Night Sweats Tea sips in a A 6/10 on the floral meter. The Camellia Flower Cake is like drinking pure flowers, but so far it’s not intense or violently perfume. The body is slightly thick, “thickened soup” description was accurate.

There is also a sweet honey flavor. The floral notes are complex and different to what I’ve tried before – sweet and almost buttery vegetal, with the thick texture drinking this tea is like nibbling on a flower petal. The floral notes seem to be a mix of tulip, marigold, crocus, dandelion and chrysanthemum. End of sip, Camellia Flower Cake aka God of Night Sweats Tea has a little sour of a finish, 2/10 on the Tart Meter.

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Second and Third Infusion: “Divine Intervention Steeping”. This steeping looks fantastic with the expanded flowers filing most of the pot! Inspiring!

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The Camellia Flower Cake aka God of Night Sweats Tea flavor got even more floral. So much floral! 8/10 on the Floral meter, so the taste is now bordering drinking liquid perfume. The background is quite earthy – bit of forest floor earth notes.

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Fourth Infusion: “Resistant to Impact” steeping. Camellia Flower Cake aka God of Night Sweats Tea still tastes like so much floral. End of sip has a more sour of a finish 3/10 on the Tart Meter. Man, this tea is intense, it is like the God of Night Sweats is testing me – seeing if I can stick with the faith.

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Fifth Infusion: #PraiseHim Steep. Camellia Flower Cake aka God of Night Sweats Tea is getting lighter in flavor finally.  With the intensity down the flavor is still a sweet honey floral 5/10 Floral Meter, with hint of tart end of sip. My mouth feels really creamy after all these infusions.

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Sixth Infusion: “The Revenge of the pruney over soaked Bear” steeping. Camellia Flower Cake aka God of Night Sweats Tea has lost much of its flavor, with just a hint of pepper spice note and its distinctive floral sweet tart taste.

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Camellia Flower Cake aka God of Night Sweats Tea looks impressive with the light – awe struck! Like seeing a glistening wet brown bear!

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Comments

This tea was majestic! Divine! Floral! Please let me be night sweat free tonight, God of Night Sweats! The flavor was like drinking from a hot spring, raining flower petals, with a couple big fat bears soaking in it!

Look at this tea bubble!

In all seriousness – this Camellia Flower Cake would be much loved by someone who regularly drinks herbal floral teas like chamomile, chrysanthemum and jasmine. The price of this tea cake is cheap (for the $8 sale price I got it for), you get quite a bit of re-infusions (many herbal teas you can’t re-infuse as the flavor gets weak right away) and has a pretty appearance. Camellia Flower Cake would be a great tea to serve before bed.

I found Camellia Flower Cake to be really heavy floral for my tastes – and I enjoy floral teas! For my future steepings, I will be cutting this tea with a raw pu’er or a strong white, like a Shou Mei. In the end, an interesting and fun tea find from Aliexpress!

Bonus: Time to worship the God of Night Sweats!

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Memebox: Oolong Owl’s Tea Cosmetics unboxing

Hello Tea peeps! Today’s post will be something a little different. Usually here at Oolong Owl there is tea samplings, tea ware and chubby tea owls. Today we will be looking at TEA COSMETICS!

Similar to monthly tea subscriptions, I enjoy monthly subscription beauty boxes – I get Ipsy and Birchbox – both are great to try new makeup, skin, and hair products and experiment with products you’d never buy normally.

I heard about Memebox and was interested. First off – everything is Korean products! Korean skin care products are quite popular, with lots of really cute packaging. Memebox isn’t a monthly box, but a mystery box. Each box is a theme like Tea Cosmetics, Anti-aging and Foot Care. You purchase one (or more for a deal) and you’ll get a box filled with full sized products and samples. Often, you’ll get a great deal as the products inside are worth more than what you paid for the box.

When browsing the site, I came across the Tea Cosmetics Memebox and purchased it immediately. I love tea, why not in my facial creams?

Tea Cosmetics Memebox Unboxing!

Let’s unbox! My fellow pretty tea owls are the assistants today!

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Inside the box!

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Some links to the products go to Memebox, others to other sites if I can’t find them on Memebox.

1. e choice – Fermented Tea Skin Drinks Sleeping Pack (full size, $2)

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Very little English on the tube. On the card, “Infused with jasmine, rose, chamomile, green tea and white tea extracts, this sleeping pack boosts its oriental tea complex that works to deliver deep nutrition, moisture and soothing effect overnight… spread the sleeping pack evenly over face and rinse off with warm water the next morning.”

The smell is a really nice jasmine rose. I applied it before bed and it was nice and cooling – in the morning my skin was very soft!

2. A;T FOX – Tea Toc Water Clear Tablet (technically a sample, as full size you get 8 tea bags. Full size is $14)

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This product is really cool, yet breaks my heart. It is a tea bag full of Jeju Island tea – I WANT TO DRINK IT! But it also has a cleasing tablet. You steep the bag until the tablet has melted, then you pat the water on your face.

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To sum up this product, it is a “Make your own cleansing water!”.

3. A;T FOX – Gyoolpy Tea Fresh Water (full size, $10)

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This product is a tea and tangerine infused mineral water that you spray on your face. The instructions state you can use it for dry skin, as toner or base. I love these mineral water sprays for sun burns or to refresh your skin after a long day. The scent is quite light, a little sweet citrus, which disappears after you spray it. Like other facial mists, this feels really refreshing and leaves a light moisturizing feel.

4. The Skin House – Lavender Lightening Emulsion (full size, $40)

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Wow, very nice packaging on this one and a big bottle! Purple Tea Owl loves this product!

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This is a cream with lavender tea that evens out skin texture and tone, along with adding moisture. It also has 104 fermented ingredients! Mmmm, can I have 104 pu’ers? The smell is an amazing lavender and the cream feels really nice! I applied some and I smell really nice. This product more than covers the price of what I paid for this box!

There is one final product – it looks like a tea tin. Little too heavy for tea. I flipped over the information card and open the tin – more products!

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5. A.TRUE  - Miniature 5 sample set with Black tea.

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1. Sweet Song Black Tea One-Step Cleansing Water - a black tea infused makeup remover with softening/purifying powers.

2. Vanilla Black Tea Day Relief Body Wash. A “Ceylan Vanille” black tea infused soap – which is a really sweet scented vanilla. The body wash is quite thin but quite soapy.

3. Himalaya Black Tea Watery Gel Cream. This is a Darjeeling black infused cream for dry skin with deep hydration. Watery Gel. Why not call it lotion? This product has the feel of a thin lotion. It is super moisturizing, not oily and melts right in. My skin is so moisturized it feels like baby skin. The scent is lighter than the other creams in this box, but quite nice. Apparently, the tea in this cream is a Himalayian Black, grown in high altitude arctic conditions - I want to drink it!

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4. White Snow Tea Brilliant Essence. A moisturizer, this one infused with white tea to help with skin tone. Smells really good, like a floral silver needle. This one isn’t as super moisturizing as the Himalaya Black tea watery gel cream, but pretty good. Man, I’d wear this as perfume!

5. Black Tea All Day Long Sun Cream SPF50+PA+++

Why yes, I would like black tea all day long! This sun cream has black tea, orange peel and cinnamon, and along with SPF, it add some extra moisture. The scent is quite nice and it did it’s job protecting my skin without making me get super oily faced.

YAY I GOT TEA TO DRINK! Admittedly, I would of been disappointed if I didn’t get a tea bag in this box. This is one of those teas I’m going to squirrel away, since it came all the way from Korea.

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Comments

I’m no beauty blogger – I think I’ll stick to tea reviews, ha! All the products in Tea Cosmetics Memebox smelled amazing and preformed well. After spot testing everything, I smelled like I got department store beauty counter spray attacked by floral teas in the most pleasant way possible. With all the full sized products in the box (especially that Lavender moisturizer) I got $52 worth of full sized products (not counting the sample sized goodies) for $29 – I got a deal getting the Tea Cosmetics Memebox!

With that said, I will be orderings from Memebox again – they had a green tea cosmetic box not too long ago, so hopefully I can catch another cool tea themed memebox! These boxes sell out fast, but Memebox is always coming out with new, fun themed beauty boxes!

Anyways, if you are interested in Memebox and love Oolong Owl and the Tea Owls – give us some love and purchase via my affiliate link - http://us.memebox.com/user/oolongowl

If you are interested in other beauty boxes, here are my refferal links:

Oolong Owl’s Ipsy

Oolong Owl’s Birchbox

Unflavored Traveling Tea Box – An Unflavored Tea Paradise

Themed Traveling Tea boxes are becoming a favorite of mine – an unflavored themed one is even better!

This traveling tea box was put together by the Steepster Community and has traveled around the USA. As with other tea boxes, you put in tea in the amounts you have sampled, though they do start getting big as the longer the travel as the added new tea packages take up more space than the tea taken out. Traveling tea boxes are great for sampling new teas without having to buy a bunch, with the only cost of shipping and teas from your collection. If you want to get in on a traveling tea box – start getting active in online tea communities like Steepster or tea exchange on Reddit. If you want to check out other Traveling tea boxes I’ve been in, check it out here.

Let’s unbox the Unflavored Traveling Tea Box!

For this traveling tea box, I was also the last stop, so I had the best variety, but with the downfall of getting the crumbs or the most unwanted teas left over. This box had some extra help from Single Origin Tea, who contributed many interesting unflavored teas. The Tea Owls, as much as the love getting photos done, don’t like unpacking these big traveling tea boxes.

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With the pecking order senority in place, they made the poor new Tea Owl do all the work.

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More often you see traveling tea boxes with mostly tea in pouches (often double wrapped to stop smell contaimation). This one had a few teas in lightweight plastic containers – which were great, but a little awkward sized (are there square ones?)

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In this unflavored Traveling Tea box – 70 teas! If you are wondering, how can there be 70 unflavored teas, teas do massively expand within white, green, black, oolong and pu’er families. This box had teas from China, India, Vietnam, and Japan. Teas that were processed differently will taste quite different from another tea of the same family – like black Assam, Darjeeling, Chinese blacks or heavy oxidized Taiwanese oolongs.

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I sorted through and picked out stuff I want to try and put the rest of the box to the side.

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Now this is the kind of tea I like to see – random tea that I’ll never be able to get! Oooh yeah a good, big leafy Mountain Oolong and taiping houkui from an unknown seller but from China? Sweet!

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I have no idea what this tea is - all the reason to try it!

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This box did have a few milk or floral scented teas, but it was only a few.

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I let the Tea Owls pick a tea or two they want to try.

Now that’s a good choice, Andrews & Dunham Damn Fine Tea is tasty black tea!

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Our high ranking Intern Tea Owl has good tea tastes, selecting a couple pu’ers.

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The formal-wear Tea Owl selected some interesting sounded blacks.

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Inexperienced tea owl selected this oolong, thinking it was an Owl picked oolong.

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The low point of the box – this tea. I don’t recommend it, folks, but I had to sample it for science.

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I did discover a few really good teas. These 3 teas were very good!

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Many teas in this box I have tried, such as teas from Mandala Teas and Teavivre. I did managed to sample 28 Teas from River Tea, Single Origin Tea, Nepali Tea Traders, Whispering Pines Tea Co, Yunnan Sourcing, Golden Moon and Thunderbolt Tea. With all the teas I drank, I added a few interesting goodies from my collection.

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In the end, after over 2 weeks of sipping many teas, it was time to pack up. With that said, another dirty job for the Tea Owl on the bottom of the pecking order.

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Hmm, she did a good job sorting the teas neatly in the box!

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In the end, a good tea box – I got assam’d out! So much assam! I’d love to try a traveling tea box that has a more specific theme, like oolongs, however those are tricky to put together it seems.

Pretty Rice Pattern Gaiwans!

Yes, I have successfully acquired a pair of rice grain pattern gaiwans!

I’ve seen a few of these interesting gaiwans in use at the World Tea Expo. Bana Tea Company was using a gorgeous one at the LA International Tea Festival. None were for sale at either venue, sadly. I wanted a rice pattern gaiwan sooooo bad as see through stuff is cool, plus they seem uncommon.

Challenge #1 – finding a rice pattern gaiwan.

I’ve been searching through google/ebay/aliexpress. Sellers call them different things, often not even mentioning the style and lumping it under “gaiwan”, “cup”, and “teapot”. In the end, I spent an afternoon looking through many pages of gaiwan listings on aliexpress. Going through endless listings is not a efficient search behavior, but hey, thorough.

Challenge #2 – finding a rice pattern gaiwan within set budget.

Once you’ve located a cool looking gaiwan, it’s time to search around ebay/aliexpress as often another seller could have the same one for cheaper. Factor in they translate a rice pattern gaiwan differently, it is quite painful to find the perfect seller, the right price plus a reliable seller.

The Rice Pattern Gaiwans!

I got two, as I couldn’t decide between them. The red flower patterned one I thought was really pretty, but the blue one I figure I’d use more. When in doubt, buy both!

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While unwrapping the blue gaiwan,

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I found a surprise sample! YAY mini tuochas!

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Here are some up close pictures of my rice pattern gaiwans:

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Challenge #3 – test the gaiwans for leaks.

I’ve heard a couple counts on these rice pattern gaiwans having defects and leaking through the little clear glazed windows. Since I bought these gaiwans cheap, I needed to test them out as soon as possible in case I need to contact the seller for a refund or exchange.

I steeped a round of Mandala Tea’s Colored Species oolong which I got from a Traveling Tea Box. I was generous with the leaf, plus with this oolong having huge leaves I couldn’t see any thing special with my gaiwan! pout!

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After having a number of rounds with this oolong I removed the leaves (so much leaf!)

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and put the tea back into the gaiwan. I learned since my blue gaiwan is thicker with smaller “windows”, the tea doesn’t show through that much.

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With that said, I poured the oolong into the other gaiwan, which is thinner and more rice “windows”. VERY COOL, it is like the entire gaiwan is glowing!

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My rice pattern gaiwan is like it has a tea candle inside, but with actual tea and no fire!

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In the end, I love my gaiwans, though the blue one is a bit of a disappointment in wow factor, though the design is pretty. Both gaiwans I got didn’t leak, so yay! If you are looking for a spiffy rice pattern gaiwan to impress your fellow tea drinkers – look for one with lots of rice windows for full effect!

Before you say, “Hey, why not just get a glass gaiwan?” I found these gaiwans easier to handle than 100% glass gaiwans. If you’ve ever used a glass gaiwan, they get really hot to the touch – so I personally only use them for cooler steeped teas, like greens and whites. These rice patterned gaiwans have the feel of the usual porcelain gaiwan, with the perk of being able to see the tea inside.

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Bonus: Mini Tuocha head Tea Owl!

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