Going Gongfu Tea Set from The Tea Spot

I got a preview of The Tea Spot‘s Going Gongfu Tea Set at the 2016 World Tea Expo… and was told to keep it a secret until launch. When I encountered this tea set I was in love with how pretty it was – the glazing and design is so nice! Finally the Going Gongfu set is for sale and I got my claws on it! Ooohoothoothoot!

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Going Gongfu Tea Set Stats

The Tea Spot’s Going Gongfu

  • 8oz/ 235ml tea pot
  • 80z/235ml pitcher
  • 1.5oz/45ml tea cups x 2 (additional cups can be purchased)
  • Lead Free, Cadmium Free. Meets FDA, LFGB, CA Prop 65, RoHS standards!!!!!
  • Gift Packaging
  • Tieguanyin oolong sample included

Unboxing of The Tea Spot’s Going Gongfu Tea Set

I like how bright Tea Spot’s packaging is. The design of this package would make for an excellent gift. Here is the sides of the box.

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Inside the box! The tea set is held quite securely too!going-gonfu-the-tea-spot-3

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Bottom of box.going-gongfu-set-the-tea-spot-oolong-owl-3

Features of Going Gongfu Tea Set

The Going Gongfu tea set has a lovely rabbit hair style glaze in a vibrant blue. The glaze and material is on the thick side, so I suggest a good preheat before your start making your tea – that way you’ll won’t get a temperature drop and longer heat retention. The thickness makes this set ideal for long sessions.

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I am drinking The Tea Spot’s Organic Dark Roast Oolong. I feel like drinking something stick-to-my-ribs over the floral tieguanyin that is included with the set.

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Going Gongfu Tea Pot

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Feet!

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Great pour – This tea pot pours fairly fast, and cleanly. I got a few drips if I poured aggressively vertical, but otherwise no drips.

Perfect fit lid – The lid doesn’t wobble or fall out while pouring. No tea escapes through the air hole in the top.

Straining – The tea pot has 3 flat holes behind the spout. The tea I’m using has some small bits, so a strainer caught a few strays. Japanese Greens, CTC blacks, and rooibos would not do well and will need a strainer. However any big leaf teas of decent quality that tend to be gongfu’d don’t need a filter or strainer.

Going Gongfu Pitcher

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This pitcher is AMAZING and beautiful. I’m a sucker for simple and clean design so there’s some bias of personal taste here. This is the shining star of this set and this is one of the best pitchers I’ve used. It is not a hard bar to pass as pitchers aren’t that technical, but this Going Gongfu pitcher is really nice. The size is perfect – 8oz again, so it holds the entire tea pot pour.

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It lacks a handle, but there is a flare underneath the lip which is a perfect width for my fingers. I find this design isn’t running too hot either. It is a wide pitcher, but the lip still gives good real estate to hold onto. A number of times already I have just used the pitcher on its own without the rest of the set.

Going Gongfu Cups

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The shape of the cups are bulbous and squat. They are a little fat on the lip, but still sip good without any issues. I personally prefer a flared lip for easy slurping, but these cups are.. well.. cups. They work.

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Cons of Going Gongfu Tea Set

Group Size  – This tea pot is too big for a solo drinker and is intended for a group. I am making it work by filling it halfway with water, but it’s not ideal for a lonely drinker. 15-16g of tea is needed for the 1g to 15ml ratio I tend to run on most gongfu style things.

I think this set is really for 2-4 people, and can stretch to 6-8 if you are doing small gongfu tastings. If you fill the tea pot and pour from the pitcher, it fills both cups twice. For two people, it is comfortable for long session of one tea, especially if you are used to Western style large vessel portions. For gongfu for the fully initiated types or wanting to do short tastings, it is too big of a pot, not enough cups…..

However, I see that The Tea Spot sells more of the same cups in a set of 2 or 6, which is great if you want more cups (or just the cups!).

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Comments

Overall, The Tea Spot’s Going Gongfu tea set is very well made and excellent quality. This set is a joy to use as the quality is top notch. It is definitely targeted for someone wanting to try gongfu style with a trained stomach for western style, or for a group. This tea set does NOT have lead in it, so if you are concerned about that you definitely have this option instead of only glassware. I would suggest to purchase extra cups if you want to have a matching set for a bigger crowd – this tea pot is on the big side and can certainly accommodate it.

The Tea Spot is located in Colorado, USA, so shipping isn’t far if you are within North America. At this time Going Gongfu is priced at $49.95 – which I find a deal with the quality of this tea set. The additional tea cups are $9 for 2, $19.95 for 6.

Free Shipping on Orders over $60

(Tea set provided for review/ Affiliate links)

 

2010 Puerh Mini Waffle Brick Shou from Treasure Green Tea Company

I purchased this tea during my last trip to Vancouver Canada. Treasure Green is a tea shop located in China Town in downtown Vancouver. The 2010 Puerh Mini Waffle Brick Shou was a must purchase as it is Treasure Green’s special edition pressing. Turns out, this puer is Bing Dao, Lincang material and it sounds like it is semi-fermented.

I purchased the waffle version, but Treasure Green also sells a 200 gram cake that was too rich for my blood to treat a cake as a sample. They also have a special edition 2012 Bingdao sheng (cake and waffle) that I regret not buying, which hopefully I remember to purchase next visit.

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The packaging is beautiful. It is just a simple stamped label, however the paper is beautiful with leaf embedded in the textured wrapper.

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The shou came with steeping directions that I forgot to follow. Ol’ crochety owl follows her own steeping instructions!

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Dry Leaf

Unwrapped, 2010 Puerh Mini Waffle Brick Shou is tightly compressed into a fun chocolate bar shaped. To my dismay the brick weighs 75grams. I assumed this was a 100 gram brick due to size, but the chocolate bar dents cheated me. Of the three little servings I broke off, they measured 7.5 – 8.5 grams, a generous serving.

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The waffle breaks apart easy, but forget trying to split a single serving in half – this tea is compact! I tried slicing a square down the middle and it was too dangerous to keep trying. That said, accept you are rolling with a  125ml-ish pot/gaiwan, or steep it hard. But hey, this tea isn’t cheap so share it or drink it all day!

Steeping Instructions

I did 1 gram to 15ml (tea weight to vessel volume). I used boiling water and 2 rinses. These bricks are hella compacted, so I used a trick Crimson Lotus taught me recently for  steeping puer balls directly pour onto the ball/brick, pour out the rinse(s), then close up your gaiwan/pot and let the tea steam open in the hot dry-ish vessel for a couple minutes. After a couple minutes I found the waffle brick fell apart and is ready to go!

Tasting of Treasure Green Tea Company’s 2010 Puerh Mini Waffle Brick Shou

The shou steeps up a light ruddy brown with a sweet earth scent.

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First, Second, Third, and Fourth Infusion: Sips in very sweet and smooth. The taste is clean and mineral sweet with an echo of dark chocolate and walnut shells. The finish is the sweetest The texture is slick and thick, making my mouth feel like I’m drinking melted chocolate, yet it’s tea. Each steeping develops more walnut notes and brighter flavor. After each sip gave a bit of a salivating sensation, wanting me to drink more. There is no funky flavors, bitterness, or dryness.

Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion: This shou is getting better and better. The texture is ultra creamy, again, still like drinking melted chocolate or heavy cream in texture. The flavor is very bright for a shou – strong mineral, with a twist of rich dark chocolate, with a finish of mejool dates. The highlight here for me is the texture, which is just out of this world.

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Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Infusion: Even sweeter? What is this wizardry? The texture is still creamy, but the flavor has shifted to a bright, mineral rock and date sweetness. It is pretty neutral, but most of the enjoyment comes from the texture and sweet. I’m feeling pretty smiley from this tea – it’s got a cuddly feel from the texture, and “I’m cheating on my diet” feeling from the sweetness.

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Eleventh, Twelfth, and Thirteenth Infusion: The final steepings were long, I ramped up to 30 minutes. The flavor I got slipped more into date, whereas the texture slipped to thin silk. Impressive how the texture still held on this long!

Steeped out, the leaf on this waffle shou still has a bit of green to it. This tea still has aging left to do!

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Comments

Treasure Green’s 2010 Puerh Mini Waffle Brick Shou is also on the list for the cleanest shou I’ve tasted. This shou commands an excellent slick texture and sweet date notes. Admittedly, in the beginning I felt “this is decent” but with each steeping I got more and more impressed. I enjoyed every infusion of this shou and despite rolling with a bigger tea pot than usual, I drank every drop – I couldn’t get enough! I am curious if there is any difference between the waffle and the cake – other sellers told me they use leftover material for waffles/ mini tuochas/ coins, but I am not sure if this is the case or not for the 2010 waffle.

The price on Treasure Green’s 2010 shou is on the expensive side, at this time $26 CND for the 75gram waffle brick, or $75 CND for the 200g cake, which is high rolling for a shou. My guess is there is an added cost from this tea being from a physical store and pretty packaging. These are Canadian prices so there is fluctuation if you are paying in USD, I paid much less at the time when the Canadian Dollar was very low. I recommend Treasure Green’s 2010 Puerh as a treat for the shou puer lover wanting something high roller and excellent quality, you will not be disappointed.

 

Sunday Tea Hoots 28 – Post Surgery and 2016 Tea Advent Calender

I’ve been MIA lately due to recovering from surgery. When I expect to be MIA, I get some blog posts scheduled, but I had 3 days notice for my surgery so I didn’t have much time to prepare. I’m finally well enough to sit at a computer and type, yay! Over the last almost 2 weeks I’ve been mostly sleeping, knitting, and playing Pokemon Moon. Team Rowlet!

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Not much as tea drinking going on here other than a couple western cups of tea a day. When I was finally moving around enough to make tea, it would take 20 minutes to make a single cup. I decided to use my lack of mobility to drink through old blends and tea bags. I’d have to get help to get out of chair, shuffle over to the kettle and fill it. Then I select a tea and promptly drop something on the floor (tea/strainer/spoon) and need help to retrieve it. Then I start to make tea but need to sit down as I’m moving around too much, so my husband brings it once it is done steeping.  I get some sips in, then pass out from the medication, to wake up and have bad cold tea. That said, I’ve had a lot of bad tea. I also realized, “Hey one of those tea maker machines would be great right now.” Otherwise, western style tea is easy to make when your guts feel like they aren’t falling out.

As I’ve been getting better and more mobile, I can make tea faster and stand around longer. Almost 2 weeks post surgery, I can make a western cup easy, but still get delayed if I drop anything on the floor. I learned I drop lots of things on the floor, especially since I am unable to pick them up! Couple days ago I attempted grandpa style, but I drank it too slow (plus falling asleep each time) that I got some pretty bitter results. Today I was able to have a fast, green tea gongfu session, but I got tired out fast so I just drank a small cup for each infusion. Shout out to my close tea friends for sending tea, hopefully I can start drinking it soon, haha! That said, Oolong Owl should start going back to its regular scheduled program soon.

Anyways, since December started and I can do western tea steeping, I started Instagram posting each day of my DAVIDsTea 2016 Advent Calendar. I decided to post it on Instagram as I figure daily posts are better suited there.

Here is the first week of December so far –

I got this for my birthday. I guess I have to start it tomorrow. Wish me luck. #tea #adventcalendar

A photo posted by Char (@oolongowl) on

Year of the Monkey 2016 Spring Mengku from Bitter Leaf Teas

Ooooh yeah, more Bitter Leaf Tea! Today we are drinking Year of the Monkey 2016 Spring Mengku, a Lincang region arbor material sheng puer. This puer is promised to be a good starter puer due to low bitterness and a daily drinker.

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Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

It is always cool when you get a prime sample piece – a perfect crescent of puer cake! The scent is strongly fruity and a little smokey. The leaf is heavy on the silver contrast, with some long leaves and some with long twig.

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I went with the usual steeping method, 1 gram to 15ml ratio. I used 200F water temperature, a rinse, then quick gongfu steeps.2016-spring-mengku-bitterleaf-tea-oolong-owl-4

Tasting of Bitter Leaf Teas Year of the Monkey 2016 Spring Mengku Sheng Puer

The tea brews up a pale clear slight yellow. The hot leaf smells like sun burnt sticky rice and greens.

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First, Second, Third, and Fourth Infusion: Mengku Monkey sips in creamy slick body, with a light light flavor.It has a soft syrup incense essence to it, but overall super light in taste. With each sip and cup, it builds more layers in the mouth giving off an aftertaste of a cheek puffing floral. A slight dryness builds with each steep adding primer to each layer, creating more flavor of amber incense and floral.

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Fifth Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Infusion: We are in flavor country! Four steepings of light sweet syrup and now I got a sticky, sun dried under ripe peaches, light floral, amber, and mineral taste and packs a hair tug attack. It is slightly bitter, but not enough to set most people off, and if this was steeped at a lower temperature, would likely not be there. The texture is thick, but also sticky from the light dryness. The aftertaste lingers briefly of dried floral. So well balanced!

Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Infusion: Flavor is dying, and what I’m getting is something like a swampy cooked leafy green with a thick body, under ripe stone fruit flavor, dancing around the unpleasant bitter level. Looking at the gaiwan, it looks like I’m drinking a green.

I swear I’m not drinking a green! NOT A GREEN.

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On Eleventh I switched to boiling and did a long steep (10 mins) to attempt to recover. There was barely and flavor left and the leaves had no scent to them.  This one died so suddenly! Couldn’t take the heat! I did get some delayed reaction of feelings of little owls massaging my head, but overall a pretty chill puer.

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Comments

Bitterleaf Tea’s Year of the Monkey 2016 Spring Mengku is a very friendly, soft, sweet, well balanced, low bitterness young sheng. It is pretty green tasting without being harsh or overly bitter. This tea is in daily drinker, new puer drinker, and green puer. This tea has some interesting character with the tasting notes and sticky thick texture. I recommend this puer for someone who wants a soft, green, balanced sheng. Someone who prefers teas like greens and green oolongs would appreciate this cake, in this state. It would be interesting to see how this tea ages as I am drinking this hella green. It is certainly drinkable now though!

Pricing on this puer is quite affordable at $0.14 a gram, $28.50 for a 200 gram cake, one of their cheaper 2016 shengs. Bitterleaf is 100% right this is a daily drinker or new to puer primer tea. This one personally didn’t sing to me, but I enjoyed the body and texture.

(tea provided for review)

04 Dian Hong Congfu from Joseph Wesley Black Tea – Tea Review

It sunk in when I was at Joseph Wesley Black Tea’s booth at the World Tea Expo and what, he has a Dian Hong??!?!?! Despite going to their website often, I never noticed their 04 Dian Hong Congfu, and likely focused on the deliciousness of their 07 Lapsang or Special Edition Qimen.

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Dry Leaf and Steeping Instructions

The leaf is gorgeous – small twists and folds of black leaf with plenty of gold tips plus whole gold leaves, with the scent is of malty peaches. I was planning to follow the steeping instructions of 190F for an 8oz serving…

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…but this leaf was just too gorgeous to Western.

I went with gongfu style in a gaiwan. I used boiling water, 1 rinse, 1 gram to 13ml tea weight to vessel ratio, with flash steeps to start. The scent of this tea got me so excited that I leafed harder hoping I can get it full strength into my gullet faster.04-dian-hong-congfu-jwt-oolong-owl-3

Tasting of Joseph Wesley Black Tea’s 04 Dian Hong Congfu

The hot leaf smells very sweet and fruity, like a sugary white peach. The colour steeps up clear and dark amber. This is totally not the greatest cup to show colour, but I love how the tea shifts the blues to greens.

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First and Second Infusion: Dian Hong Congfu sips in malty, molasses, and baked potato with a finish of bright caramel. The aftertaste is like dried apricots. The body is a little thin, but the texture has a nice slickness to it.

Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: The flavor tightened up with being full flavored and bright. Joseph Wesley Tea’s Dian Hong tastes like dried apricots, molasses, a background of rich malt, with a drooling salivating aftertaste of more apricots. If I take a long time to the next sip, the flavor shifts to a savory leather flavor. The texture is slightly silky still.

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Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Infusion: I did couple minute infusions to start, with a 15 minute infusion as the finale. As the flavor lightens, it shifted to mineral, raisins and a touch of malt. The aftertaste is soft, but the texture is still present. The final steeping slips to mineral with an astringent bite in the back of the throat.

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Overall, a pretty good session.

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Comments

Joseph Wesley Black Tea always has the best, high quality black teas – if you love black tea you need to check them out ASAP. 04 Dian Hong Congfu is for the black tea drinker wanting something fruity sweet, bright and full flavored, without being too earthy or dark. I could see Dian Hong Congfu being a great tea to pair with food, it would do great with pork as well as desserts.

I quite enjoyed the fruity notes and delicious fruity scent, however I am still biased that 07 Lapsang Souchong and Qimen are the best. At this time, I haven’t had 01 and 02 (Darjeeling and Assam), but so far the entire line up has been exceptional.

(tea provided for review)

Sunday Tea Hoots 27 – Moldy times

Over the last few weeks I’ve been feeling under the weather with health issues. Worrying about upcoming medical insurance changes doesn’t help with the stress either. My response has been to camp in front of my computer with giant tea mugs, knitting, and World of Warcraft adventures. That said, my neglected owl house has been a disaster of messes – feathers, paper, boxes, fur, and dishes everywhere. My tea area is covered in a mound of tea pots, dirty cups, samples, tea books, and handouts.

In a moment of “I’m going to get stuff done!” mood, I cleaned up my tea area to start a good tea session to power myself through cleaning the rest of the house. My tea table is a pull out tray style. I always dry the top after each use as well as empty the plastic tray often to avoid a repeat of this:

A photo posted by Char (@oolongowl) on

I had some leaves stuck in between the slats of the tea table, so I decided to take the whole table to the sink to give a rinse. I discovered HORROR! MOLD MOLD MOLD underneath my tea table. I don’t have to actual full on fuzz photos as I screamed a bunch and went in with a scrub brush with bleach.

Most of the mold fuzz was where the plastic tray slides in and out. There was also mold spreading from the slides and across the slats underneath. Here’s what photos I took right after the first round of cleaning.

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The back corners were especially bad. Those black spots were still a bit of mold present to give you an idea of the infestation.
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I talked to a few fellow Seattle tea people and apparently this happens to them too. My house has been cold and humid (60F’s with up to 70% humidity) which doesn’t help if I got a tea table with a bit of a damp underside, or resting with a damp, yet empty, spill tray. There was no mold at all anywhere on the plastic tray.

Lesson for tea drinking in Seattle (or other humid climates)

  1. Thoroughly dry your tea table after each session.
  2. Be sure to check and clean underneath your tea table.
  3. Switch to a nonporous tea table like steel/stone.

All clean!

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Hsinchu Oriental Beauty from Adagio Teas – Tea Review

Today’s review is a tea from Adagio Teas’ Masters collection – Hsinchu Oriental Beauty. I am always on the lookout for a good Oriental Beauty and figured this was a good opportunity to try Adagio’s premium tea collection of expensive teas.

Hsinchu Oriental Beauty is from Hsinchu County, NW Taiwan. I got the sample tin, which I failed to weigh out to see how much I got. I did run into a problem that they stuff the tins – what I took out I could not put back into the tin, haha!

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Dry Leaf and Steeping Instructions

Hsinchu Oriental Beauty has a floral raisin scent. The leaf looks pretty good so far, we got a rainbow of silver, reds, golds, hint of green and deep brown tones.

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I steeped this oolong gongfu style with boiling water. I did a 1gram to 15ml vessel ratio, rinsing before steeping.

Tasting of Adagio Teas’ Master Collection Hsinchu Oriental Beauty

The Oriental Beauty steeps up a pale yellow-orange tint with a floral scent.

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First, Second, and Third Infusion: Hsinchu Oriental Beauty tastes floral, honey gold raisin sweet, thick woodsy, with a finish of more floral. There is a bit of dryness on the tip of the tongue.

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Fourth and Fifth Infusion: The floral is on the moderate-strong side due to my brewing, but the notes are quite snuggly mellow and a good balance of woodsy, wild honey and bit of floral. The aftertaste is a woodsy floral.

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Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Infusion: Hsinchu Oriental Beauty tamed and lightened quickly here, so I steeped up to 15 minutes. The flavor went from woodsy and wild honey flavor to mineral and and a bit of tart. Very little dryness and no bitterness.

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Check out the leaf, mostly intact whole leaves and some buds!

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Adagio Teas’ Hsinchu Oriental Beauty is certainly photogenic!

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Comments

Adagio Teas’ Masters collection Hsinchu Oriental Beauty is a pretty good quality Oriental Beauty. The leaf looks good, it steeps up beautifully and I had a few good sessions as I enjoyed that wild honey note. It isn’t the sweetest or the most floral Oriental Beauty I’ve had, but it is more on the woodsy vibe, appealing more to a darker tea drinker. The quality is nice with a decent fragrance, but I feel this one is best western or for short sessions as I didn’t get that many resteeps.

This tea is also in a good looking Fujian & Formosa sampler – perfect if you wanted to try a bunch of different oolongs, greens, and whites from the Adagio Teas Master’s collection.

(tea provided for review/ Affiliate links)


2016 Teadontlie Sheng from White2Tea

2016 Teadontlie is my favorite White2Tea Spring 2016 Sheng line out of all the samples I purchased.

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It took me awhile to actually post this review as I needed a couple cakes in my possession first… just in case.

A photo posted by Char (@oolongowl) on

Dry Leaf and Steeping Instructions

Gorgeous leaf, I cannot stop looking at it! It looks almost like an oriental beauty but with less red tones. There’s silvers, light and dark greens, some hints of brown. Very pretty!

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The scent is what sets this puer apart from the other 2016s – it smells strongly floral peachy.

I’ve done this tea at boiling and it did well. I decided that I’ll start this at 200 and see how it responds. 1 gram, 15ml

Tasting of White2Tea’s 2016 Teadontlie Sheng Puer

Teadontlie steeps up a perfectly clear pale yellow shade. The hot leaf smells like sugar poured on sunny hot peaches.

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First and Second Infusion: This did not come out well. It sips in hella light and crystal clean with a slip of floral peach at the end. The sip has a creamy feel on the lips and drinking these first infusions I got an excellent oily mouth feel. However, I remember this being much better and stronger at boiling.

Third and Fourth Infusion: BOIL BOIL BOIL! The flavor sips in sweet and floral. It is still on the light side, but I get a long lingering kissy floral taste after each sip. Ihad a sip, wrote an email, and still was tasting this tea. DAT BODY! Teadontlie is thick, I had to double check that I wasn’t chugging a jar of marshmallow fluff. My mouth feels so oily that I could of been also eating something deep fried.

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Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Infusion: Teadontlie is at maximum flavor. It is strong, brazenly floral peachy perfume, it is like I’m drinking perfumed marshmallow thick fluff. The aftertaste lingers a really long time. My kettle timed out, mail came, and I still taste teadontlie. There is bitterness here creeping in, a bit masked from the sweet start and floral afterburn. With each steeping I got a little dryness, adding texture to the roof of my mouth.

At this I got the WHOOOSH. That Achievement unlocked whoosh.. yet I didn’t unlock anything. This tea just slammed me and operating machinery was now a no. I had to fumble fingers a tripod and forget typing on a phone.

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Ninth and Tenth Infusion: Teadontlie still has power. It sips in sweet and pungently floral but finishes quite bitter. I can see at this point people might give up here, it is pretty bitter, however it is a good bitter as each sip resets to sweet. The body is still present, thick and heavy with a lotiony lip balm feel. I can see this being a good point to throw the leaves in for cold brew to tame the bitter, but I’m going to keep going as I like this bitterness and the peach flavored burps.2016-teadontlie-white2tea-oolong-owl-7

Eleventh and Twelfth Infusion: Times like these I wish I wasn’t a tea blogger. I’m so blasted out of my mind I have no idea what is going on with this tea other than i’m drinking it. I don’t want to describe it, my brain and body can’t combine to figure out what to say. I am impressed I am still able to count, and I feel bad for my future self who has to edit this crap. What I am good for is listening to Devin Townsend and laughing at the thought of people’s faces getting hit by salmons. I could really go for some pork right now.

Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Sixteenth Infusion: It is sweet and mineral in flavor, not bitter. The sip is thick, but a gnarly dryness hits making my mouth feel kinda chalky. I think the tea is done, but a floral aftertaste quietly slips in and lingers. I likely got this many steepings because of the low temperature start. I believe the last time I made this tea is was about 14 rounds.

NESTING TIME!

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Comments

Teadontlie winning. Yeah yeah it is midrange (at this time $69 for 200g cake), but if you want a floral, gan, texture drinker this is your tea. I am biased as I peg myself these days of aftertaste and texture hunting, with good sweet notes and bitter balance. I also got completely wasted so there is that hahahahah! If you favor the Yiwu style profile, you’ll likely enjoy Teadontlie.

I personally prefer Teadontlie over some of the higher priced options, and this one is a clear winner for mid-range White2Tea 2016 shengs so far. Actually, forget this whole review, go buy the more expensive teas. Teadontlie is terrible. Don’t buy it. Let me buy it to take it off the market to save you all from it.

 

2011 Moonlight White Cake from The Chinese Tea Shop – Tea Review

I’ve been holding onto this 2011 Moonlight White (Yue Guang Bai) Cake for awhile. I am not sure why I was saving it, it is a very large 360 gram cake with a gorgeous wrapper. I bought this cake with my last visit to The Chinese Tea Shop in Vancouver, Canada. The Canadian Dollar was really low at the time, so I went on a buying spree, getting this cake without even sampling. I love Moonlight Whites, I had confidence that Daniel sells great tea, and a couple local tea buddies told me that this cake is amazing.

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So here is the battle. Some say Moonlight White/ Yue Guang Bai is a puer, others say it is a white… or black depending how aged it gets. Yue Guang Bai falls in some grey area, and you can google it and see people fight about it. However, just going by flavor I would shove Moonlight White in the white tea category.

Dry Leaf

I unwrapped the cake and DAMMMMMMN THAT IS PRETTY! SO PRETTY! WOW WOW WOW! The stark contrast of the silver and black leaf is impressive!

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The scent is of dried flowers and earth. Holy hoots, this cake is so pretty, I even ran it to my husband to show it off and Instagram.

A photo posted by Char (@oolongowl) on

Steeping Instructions

I did 1 gram to 13.75ml vessel size ratio. I was using a 110ml gaiwan and felt like I should use a round number today for unknown reasons. I did a quick rinse to get the tea started, and started with flash steeps with boiling water.

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Tasting of The Chinese Tea Shop’s 2011 Moonlight White 360 gram cake

The tea comes up a clear light amber with a deep sweet scent. This is gonna be good!

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First, Second, and Third Infusion: The Moonlight White sips in rich and full flavored. The notes are sweet tree resin sap, woodsy, mineral amber, boiled out cinnamon stick, and a lot of mellow sweetness. The texture leaves an oily lip. I can see this being described as delicate, but I leafed this sucker hard. Not a lick of dry or bitterness. The bold and strong flavor makes me think it is dancing closer to black tea than white.

Unfortunately, 2011 Moonlight White leaf steeps kinda ugly. You get something that looks like swampy fall leaves.

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Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion: Moonlight White is getting dark. That colour is crazy, looking like a black tea steeped out a long time, or a middle aged puer.

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The flavor is strong, mineral sweet, and woodsy. There is an essence of wet forest floor too, reminding me a bit of puer. The flavor brightens at the end of sip to a strong woodsy taste I associate with black teas. With each steeping it just got heavier and darker.

Eighth and Ninth Infusion: This bracket of steeping got sweeter and more crisp, reaching peak brightness. It is still strong, but sweet like mineral amber and agave, with a hint of woodsy. At this point this tea reminds me of a hong near the end (but stronger) or final steeps of a sweet shou.

That colour!

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Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, and Thirteenth Infusion: Longer steepings here, up to 10 minutes. This tea isn’t quitting and I suspect it is bombproof as it does not get bitter or dry. The flavor is bright tree sap sweet with a hint of woodsy. We’ve reached peak sweetness and at this point it tastes like an aged with without the medicinal flavor. The body is still oily on the lips too.

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Fourteenth Infusion: Power steep, 20 minutes here. I have stuff to do today, and this tea session just keeps going. I got a punch of flavor of sweet dates and woodsy. This tastes like an awesome aged white with some woodsy black mixed in for depth. Really good, I could drink a whole thermos of this all day.

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Comments

2011 Moonlight White is a unique tea that I think many people would enjoy – new tea drinkers and experienced tea drinkers! The flavor is strong and sweet. The brewing is pretty bombproof, I am sure you can western or thermos it with good results. Underleafing would come out decent too due to the strong flavor output. The leaf is gorgeous, a great show piece to guests. You get a long session too!

I’ve had Moonlight Whites before, but not as old as this one. The age of 5 years certainly did wonders, giving it a stronger, woodsy flavor making it closer to a black tea than a white. I didn’t get any floral or much in honey, but something more dripping with tree sap, like drinking an old piece of tree. If you want a different tea that keeps you guessing, this aged Moonlight white would be it. This tea would be great for dipping your toes into aged white and without “medicinal” notes. I can see black tea drinkers (who prefer Chinese blacks) loving this for a lighter tea but with maximum flavor.

I am glad I bought a cake of this, however, storing it confuses me, going back to the debate on what Yue Guang Bai is. I haven’t gotten a handle on whether I should store it separate, with my whites, shengs, plus humid control vs air tight. I don’t know, but right now it is with my white cakes.

October 2016 White2Tea Club

White2Tea club time! This month we got 3 2016 Orange Drops (shou puer) and 2 new oolongs – Hot & Heavy and Dahongpao.

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/throws up hands. Bloody white balance hates me again.

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White2tea Club 2016 Orange Drop

I just realized that last year’s October White2Tea club also included an orange however this year we got a nicer orange. These puer oranges (though these days more teas have been stuffed into oranges, like black and white tea) are a great new to puer tea drinkers or types looking branch away from flavored teas. I guess it is technically flavored, the tea is stuffed in an orange, but you are missing the whole trail mix and flavoring alcohols/oils added. These oranges are a bit more special as they are Xinhui Mandarins and White2Tea has an article on these including how they are made.

Dry Leaf

It smells like a mandarin orange – super zesty and kind of fresh. This orange is super cuuuute!

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Steeping Instructions

I do like that White2Tea’s oranges are a single serving. It says 10grams… but nope. Maybe 10 grams of tea inside or Washington is just so freaking humid. By the way, matcha is the glitter of tea – you can’t get rid of it once you spill it.

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Most puer oranges I come across are the bigger mandarin orange clocking in at 20-25 grams. It is generally advised, as a solo drinker, to use around 1/3 of it per session. Or if you are insanely sick and cranky like I was a month ago, use the whole thing in a large vessel.

A photo posted by Char (@oolongowl) on

I roll strong with shou puer oranges either way. I went my 14 gram orange in a 90ml gaiwan, so about 1 gram of tea per 6.4ml of vessel. I steep oranges strong as the orange peel takes weight and isn’t flavor intensive as straight puer.

I smashed the orange with a rolling pin. I tried using my hands but the little orange had a tough, durable skin. I used boiling water and 2 rinses.

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First, Second, and Third Infusion:

Orange Drop steeps up nicely clear and smells like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange. So much nostalgia!

Sips in sweet mandarin orange and a clean shou bittersweet malty flavor. The texture is balmy on the lips, but is thin throughout the sip. There is an aftertaste of bitter orange pith, like I ate a mouth full of it. It gives off an essences of sweet orange but it is like you failed at cleaning up your orange and chomped on it out of desperation. With each steeping the pith bitter cleans up, opening a more sweet orange and watery gongting malt taste.

Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion: Prime steeps right here. The orange is in full bloom, getting a natural orange flavor, with a contrast of an earthy, crisp, bittersweet, malt, almost chocolately gongting shou. The flavor is still a little thin and the texture is lip balmy. I get hit with a cooling sensation from the zest orange. It is not like brushing your teeth and eating an orange, but has that sensation of citrus zest and mint freshness. The finish does have some bitterness, not pith bitterness but just straight up garbled bitter shou and orange bitterness, leaving a strange flavor in the mouth. I feel so dang cool though.

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STRANGE TEA THOUGHTS.. you know what would be weird???? Stuffing a minty Ruby 18 in an orange. That would be so fresh and cooling that I’d get a frost bitten beak.

Eighth and Ninth Infusion: Power steep of.. as long as it took me to write an email. 15 minutes? The tea came out tasting straight up under ripe orange. You don’t need orange juice, just drink this and only the earthy shou finish will tip you off… if you can take drinking under ripe orange. Super cooling and zesty tasting. This power steep would be perfect sniffles tea, morning tea, or awesome iced for a summery drink.october-2016-white2tea-club-oolong-owl-6

Comments

I really like the single serving orange. WHY AREN’T ALL THE ORANGES THIS SIZE?!?!?!?! I guess it is perspective of a lonely solo tea drinker in North America. It was so much less mess using the entire orange than squirreling away busted orange, or drinking an entire orange and Instagram thinking you have a caffeine problem.

However, this 2016 Orange drop needs age. The quality right now is good, the orange is nice, the material looks good and isn’t all twigs (like my Aliexpress oranges) and the tea steeps up clear. The bitterness just needs to chill. I also recalled something another tea seller told me, who sells the shou puer oranges, that he had these sitting in his shop forever, when all of a sudden they started selling – upon revisiting it, the tea orange aged nicely and tasted good!


Dahongpao and Hot & Heavy Oolong from White2Tea

As stated earlier, both these oolongs are part of the White2Tea oolong lineup. Hot & Heavy is described as a, “work horse oolong.” while DaHongPao is a medium roast.

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Dry Leaf and Steeping Instructions

Hot & Heavy Oolong has a sweet and lightly roasty scent, whereas DaHongPao has a savory roast scent. The leaf on Hot & Heavy is bigger and more chunky.

For steeping, I did about 1 gram to 12ml leaf to vessel ratio, using boiling water with flash steeps.

Colour wise they look very similar on camera. In person, and it is slight, DaHongPao is more red and Hot & Heavy Oolong is a bit darker. The hot leaf is more woodsy and savory scented for DaHongPao, and fruity for Hot & Heavy Oolong.

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First, Second, Third, and Fourth Infusion:

DaHongPao sips in sweet and creamy. The flavor is reminds me of coconut cream, and crisp apricot with roast on top. The flavor is delicate and mellow, but the texture is thick and slick.

Hot & Heavy Oolong Ooooh yeah, this is going to be my bias. The flavor is sweeter and stronger than DaHongPao, with more apricot nectar and woodsy. It has a depth of flavor with the woodsy background, and a lingering stone fruit fragrance. The texture is thicker, like drinking jello.

Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion:

We got a bit of a colour difference with DaHongPao being a touch darker.

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DaHongPao finally got into advance mode developing more sweetness, with an excellent bright flavor of stone fruit and a barky bite. The rootbeer of oolongs? I can see how this one commands a higher price due to the brightness and complexity. There is a slight dryness in these infusions, giving us an aftertaste comes out with a mineral and bark flavor that lingers.

Hot & Heavy Oolong is still heavy and slick. The intensity is fading so I steeped this one a little longer getting a more fruity thick soup. The oolongs swapped as this got more mellow and less going on – but the highlight of this tea is the high sweetness, thick slop texture, and lingering sweet mineral and apricot flavor.

Eighth, Ninth, Tenth Infusion:

DaHongPao is smoothing out to a rich mineral flavor with a touch of roast. This tea is savory and has bite from the bark flavor with a bit of dancing dryness. I feel I need to drink this tea with Thanksgiving dinner or with a fancy Porchetta roast. The aftertaste has a nice sweet contrast, tasting like creamy peaches. Dang!

Hot & Heavy Oolong is still trucking with that sweet apricot thick flavor, with a mineral sweet rock finish. The aftertaste is apricoty. It is pretty mellow, but the flavor is strong without a lick of dryness.

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Comments

Both are great oolongs but I think DaHongPao needs more time to chill out (though the bite is really fun to drink), but it has more complexity and character. DaHongPao has a vibe of being a special occasion or “wine with dinner” kind of oolong in the later infusions.

I like Hot & Heavy Oolong for the robust flavor, texture, and mouthfeels. Hot & Heavy Oolong would do well as a work or travel tea as it seems to take a beating without dry or bitterness.

If you are trying to decide between both oolongs, it seems certainly personal taste, both teas are quite good.