September 2017 White2Tea Club feat Black, White and TurtleDoves

September 2017’s White2Tea Club came with Auburn Black, Jinngu White tea buds, and three x 8 gram mini cakes of 2017 Turtle Dove. I have reviewed 2017 Turtle Dove already, so we will skip that today and drink the black and white tea.

September  2017 White2Tea Club Jinngu White Tea Buds

I’m drinking these teas in one sitting today, and I like starting light to dark, so the white tea is first. This white is from Jinngu, Yunnan Province and is only the buds. From my understanding and experience, bud heavy tea packs a punch!

Dry leaf and Steeping Method: The Jinngu White tea buds are fuzzy and smell weedy.

I used 1 gram to 20ml of vessel size as my gongfu style steeping ration. I did fast steepings with 205F/96C water temperature. I don’t mess around with white tea.

First and Second Infusion: Despite steeping up almost clear, Jinngu White tea buds are loaded with flavor.

It tastes like how raw silk yarn smells or hot linens coming out of the dryer. Its got linen and tulip notes, with that fleshy juicy part of the stem too. The sip finishes sweet and floral and the body is thick. Jinngu White tea bud’s aftertaste is softly floral, but a bit fleeting. The caffeine in this tea is high – I can feel my eyes want to pop out of my sockets.

Third and Fourth Infusion: The white tea buds finally developed some colour, but looks clear in any cup that isn’t white or glass. The flavor notes have slipped with mostly tasting the white tea at the end of sip and aftertaste. It is floral tulip and a bit buttery, bit of a zesty grass note too.

Fifth and Sixth Infusion: 5 minute infusion here. It finally developed some great colour to the brew.

White tea buds shifted to a bitter dandelion green flavor as it got steeped and stewed for too long. I oddly still drank these infusions and my rabbit thought my breath was amazing and cuddled my face. I lost 30 minutes of my day to hyper caffeine levels and conversations with myself.

September 2017 White2Tea Club Auburn Black

Auburn black is described as a jammy and aromatic tea from high altitude Fujian region. The leaf is fruity smelling.

The handout says Auburn but the package says Anburn. I don’t know which one it is supposed to be. I went pretty aggressive with 1 gram of tea to 12.5ml of vessel size, steeped in boiling water.

First, Second, and Third Infusion: The flavor is berry like – kind of like those weird blackberries that I pick on the side of the road here in the Seattle area. It is kind of like blackberry mixed with some wild crunch and leaf. It has sweet notes, with a bit of a savory peachy aftertaste. The rinse tasted like tomatoes but comes back in some of the sips’ finish. The flavor lasts a long time in the mouth, lingering with cooked peaches. I like the body on Auburn as it feels heavy and coating. This is my kind of black tea, I just love the aroma on it and the full body flavor. I could drink this in the morning, afternoon tea with sweets, or as comfort tea.

Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion: Anburn is still fruity but the aroma is slipping. The flavor has a walnut wood note and with a slightly dry finish that I can feel on the tip of my tongue. Each steeping develops more and more of a bitter nut skin note and a drier finish. I stopped at seven, though I likely could get another 2 infusions, I stopped as it wasn’t tasting that good.

Comments

Interesting contrast of teas for September 2017’s White2Tea Club. The Jinngu white buds are floral and juicy and the Auburn Black is heavy fruity aroma. Both I didn’t get many infusions, but likely you can adjust the ratios some. Both teas are awesome in the early infusions, especially Anburn black. Fingers crossed White2Tea will sell the Auburn black tea in the future – like their Bang Dong Hong, I could see drinking Auburn Black quite regularly.

White Cloud White Tea From Teabook

Today’s review is an interesting white tea from Teabook. White Cloud is from Lincang puer bushes that are too young to be harvested for puer. I tasted it at the Portland Tea Festival and was impressed enough to purchase a 50 gram bag of it.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

The leaf is ultra fuzzy and has a stale floral scent.

I used 5.5 grams of tea in a 110ml pot. I wasn’t going for ratio here, more so to fill the teapot to 3/4 and steep it. I like my white teas in pretty hot water, so I used 200F/93C water temperature.

Tasting of Teabook’s White Cloud white tea

First and Second Infusion: White Cloud steeps up clear at first.

White Cloud is a very juicy tea! It is soft in flavor, with notes of sweet lilies, underripe bartlett pears, and fresh tasting. No stale or strange notes in this white tea. This tea is also popping with energy – I can feel my eyeballs spinning from the caffeine. Young white tea that is bud heavy always packs a punch, but puer material young white tea is next level caffeine pow!

Third and Fourth Infusion:
White Cloud has gotten more lusciously juicy as it makes my mouth salivate drinking it. It has gotten softer and more floral, losing some sweetness. The tea also developed a slight tint to it.

Fifth Infusion:
The tea lost a lot of flavor on the fourth infusion but I still went for a fifth aggressive steeping. I got the sensation of dry cheeks with an aftertaste of floral, but otherwise, the tea is dead. Likely dropping the temperature to 190F might of gotten another steep or two, but even at 200F the white tea was delicate. Next time I make this tea I will skip the fifth infusion.

The leaf is quite pretty – I love that pale green and whole leaves. The leaves are also delicate and disintegrate in your fingers if you mess with it too much. Interestingly, mush leaf is something people don’t like seeing in puer but at least this white tea came out fine.

Comments

Teabook’s White Cloud white tea is a strong freshly floral young white tea. I enjoyed the flavors, salivation, and energy from it. I actually skipped my matcha and used this white tea as my caffeine pre-workout. While White Cloud did not get many gongfu infusions, it had great flavor and not get too dry. Just like other Teabook’s teas, likely White Cloud would be great grandpa style or in a tumbler.

If you enjoy floral white teas, certainly check Teabook’s White Cloud. I am happy I bought it and currently undecided whether to drink it all while it is lusciously sweet and young or tuck it away for aging.

(Affiliate Links)

2017 Nannuo Mini Mushroom Shou Puer from Crimson Lotus Tea

I had a session of 2017 Nannuo Mini Mushroom Shou Puer when I met up with Crimson Lotus Tea doing tastings at Phoenix Tea. I was impressed with the shou and was given three shrooms to play with. I was warned that one mushroom is plenty for a session, but I can try two at my own risk. I drank all three Nannuo Mini Mushrooms and had to have more. I beelined to their booth at the Northwest Tea Festival and bought 2 packages.

The 2017 Nannuo Mini Mushrooms is made up of a blend of aged material, some as old as 20 years old. This blend of material makes it more interesting vs simply young 2017 shou Nannuo.

Dry leaf and Steeping Instructions

Crimson Lotus Tea’s site states each mushroom is around 4 grams. I weighed all mine and they ranged from 4.7 to 4.2 grams.

The suggested brewing instructions of a single 4 grams of shou brewed in 75-150ml is quite light of a ratio for my personal and usual shou gongfu brewing tastes.  However, these mini mushrooms pack a punch so I just used only one mushroom. I went with an equivalent of 1 gram of leaf to 27ml of vessel, steeped in boiling water, with a single rinse.

The Nannuo mini mushrooms smell little different than other shous. The hot leaf smells strongly leafy medicinal and earthy.

Tasting of Crimson Lotus Tea’s 2017 Nannuo Mini Mushrooms

First and Second Infusions: The Nannuo mini mushroom tastes creamy like real vanilla beans. I first worried my teaware was contaminated, as the vanilla flavor was quite profound. The background is earthy, woodsy sweet, with a bit of an abrasive throat feel after each sip. It does taste a little watery right now like the flavor hasn’t figured things out and isn’t bound together.

After the first infusion, the mushroom dissolved. The fast shape loss was a surprise as often balled puer takes forever to fall apart.

Third and Fourth Infusions: You know a shou is good when it is inky black – and this colour is crazy as I am using less tea than usual. The flavor is creamy smooth and lightly earthy. The main flavor is a light vanilla sweetness.

Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusions: That vanilla is starting to kick back and let in a more abrasive side through. Nannuo Mini Mushrooms are so easy to drink that I’ve been slamming back the infusions instead of writing about it. The body is slick in the mouth but goes lightly sticking down the throat. It is a cold Autumn day, so the shou is making me feel nicely warm. The aftertaste is subtle with a bit of creamy, but after some time it leaves a clean feeling in the mouth.

The 7th infusion I decided to compare with silver, which is how I originally sampled this tea back with Crimson Lotus Tea at the store tasting. In the regular cup, the tea is vanilla, soft, lightly earthy and sweet. In silver it is a different animal – it is bright, no vanilla, but sharply almost medicinal herb and creamy.

Eighth and Ninth Infusions:

I did around 15-minute infusions. I’m not 100% that is how long I steeped as I got distracted. Either way, I drank the shou so fast. The flavor was milky, slightly herby, and sweet. The aftertaste is slightly green and medicinal and reminds me that this shou isn’t fully fermented and young in some places. Looking at the steeped out leaf, the variety of material is confirmed as it is greenish in some parts, and other parts are dark.

1 mini mushroom is easy drinking, smooth and sweet. An awesome workhorse shou with forgiving flavor and steeping. 4 grams for a 110ml pot is pretty good and economical, especially since I got 9 good infusions.

Of course, I do like a strong shou. I was warned 2 mini mushroom is insane. Let’s do it.

Double Nannuo Mini Mushroom!

I used two 2017 Nannuo Mini Mushrooms, so around 1 gram to 13/14ml of vessel ratio, which is around what I usually do for shou puer.

The Nannuo Mini Mushroom gets quite strong, ultra dark, and thick by infusion 2. I got at least 10 infusions, many incredibly strong, rich, creamy, and herby tasting. It does have a strong young shou wet pile note through many of the early infusions, so it is noticeably funky whereas single mushroom did not have that problem.

Comments

What isn’t captured in this review tasting is I found each Nannuo Mini Mushroom can range a bit in taste, swapping stronger on some notes than others, as I’ve had some more leaning on the green medicinal herb note than creamy. There is a blend of different Nannuo material packed into a tiny size, so likely some mushrooms roll the dice on a different flavor.

I think one Nannuo Mini Mushroom per session does the trick as it is plenty flavorful and dark. Steeping with two Nannuo shrooms would be a great option for you ultra-dark shou drinkers once it has lost the recent pressing/wet pile note, which shouldn’t take too long due to the size. If you don’t want to wait for it, just rinse the mushrooms a couple extra times.

Either way, Crimson Lotus Tea’s 2017 Nannuo Mini Mushrooms are pretty tasty. They have some pleasing comfort notes many new and old tea drinkers would enjoy. Some may dig the uncommon herb notes and super dark steep potential. Hopefully, you readers who buy this tea leave some for me, as I haven’t fully hoarded a stash of shrooms to my comfort level.

(tea originally provided for review, however I ended up buying more before I wrote this review)

Korean Pumpkin and Wormwood Tea Session

Happy Hootyween! Let’s drink some weird stuff!

I got some interesting Korean herbal teas while at the 2017 World Tea Expo. When I got them home, I had to get a friend to tell them apart for me (thanks Nish!).

While at Jade:Lee’s booth, he used a gaiwan to infuse all his teas, including the herbals. I honestly don’t know what the hoot I am doing to steep it, so… gongfu style it is?

Pumpkin Tea

This tisane looks like kibble and has a weird smell that I cannot describe.

I used boiling water and 1 gram of pumpkin to 17ml of vessel size. I just pulled these numbers out of my owl butt. Steeped up, the pumpkin smells really flipping good. It reminds me of a Chinese bakery as the tea smells just like those coconut buns with that sweet yellow pastry.

First Infusion: The Pumpkin tea has a strange frosted look with a gold hue.

The flavor is strong, sweet, fresh pumpkin. Legit pumpkin flavor too, not the canned stuff. It has a smooth sip with a sticky aftertaste texture. The pumpkin is really nice and clean, despite the frosted colour.

Second and Third Infusion: Oh my, it is even better! The flavor is stronger, crisp, marshmallow, eggy bread, and sweet pumpkin that the taste lasts in your mouth after each sip. This pumpkin tisane has the perfect level of sweetness. I don’t need pumpkin spice things, this is legit fall right here. I am getting hungry just drinking this tea. Usually, when I drink desserty teas, that fills the void for wanting sweets. However, this pumpkin tea does not work. I WANT ALL THE PASTRIES. Egg tarts, Coconut buns, Taro buns – give them all to me!

Sadly, I tried to get a fourth infusion but failed as the tea it lost all flavor.

By the way, I ate the bits. Early infusions tasted like pumpkin and cooked carrots. After I finished steeping all the infusions it had no flavor.

I will be drinking down all this Pumpkin tea. I see if having awesome blending potential too.

Wormwood Tea

Now, this is Hootyween as this dry leaf looks like a horror show. The herbal has a weird grey-green colour with a spidery lumpy fuzz that sticks together.

I leafed 1 gram to 40ml of vessel size as this stuff was light and fluffy. I wish I had a cast iron gaiwan, as this wormwood tea would match better looking like it is in a cauldron as the steep is so dark and murky.

First Infusion: The colour is crazy as it is gold with a black tinge on the edges.

Unfortunately, the first infusion is a pour out. I screwed up and used way too much leaf. I think 1 gram to 60ml would have been better.  I overfilled the gaiwan and steeped it faster for the second round. I need to salvage this as I recall I paid quite a bit for this wormwood tea.

Second Infusion: I recall drinking this tea at World Tea Expo and it being delightfully creamy and sweet. My brewing gave me notes of dandelion puffs, weeds, with a background of cream and sweet. It is very interesting and weird tasting. It isn’t offensively strong like it was on the first infusion.

In silver, it tastes a lot more how I remembered it. The silver cut the weedy notes and brought out the sweeter ones.

I recall Cwyn saying she found this tea good on the stomach, but I automatically feel a head crush in my sinuses. I also started sneezing badly and the roof of my mouth started itching… so I think my allergies got set off by this tea.

I decided to google wormwood tea after the second infusion… which I should have done before I started drinking as I confirmed online I used too much leaf. I know wormwood is in Absinthe, which I’ve had before as it is legal in Canada. I learned you should not drink wormwood if you have ragweed allergies, hence why I started itching. Likely I shot myself in the foot as I used way too much wormwood gongfu style combined with having grass allergies.

With this tea session, the Pumpkin Tea was the treat whereas Wormwood tea was the trick. I have no idea how you can get your hands on these teas since I purchased them from the World Tea Expo. A quick google I found some at Kmall24. Here is Jade:Lee’s site if you can follow Korean. If anyone knows other sources, leave a comment below.

Sunday Tea Hoots 34 – Kitchen Renovation

For all of October and November, I’ve been mostly DIY’ing my kitchen and flooring. I’ve spent most October demolishing and prepping everything for flooring and cabinets. November will be laying down flooring, building cabinets, installing countertops and applicances.

The Tea Owls love DIY!

Owl hardwood floor inspection. That is some nice maple.

We took down a wall in the room. The Tea Owls were crawling up in attics.

Ceiling Owl confirmed the wall that was there was not structural.

I have been so busy, that I am impressed that I am still able to roll out regular Oolong Owl posts. The amount of tea I have been drinking has been impressive. I do work in cycles of a week I will drink a bunch of tea, then next week I work on editing. With my schedule being crunched, I’ve been using any free hours to sit down and drink 2-5 teas and drafting reviews like crazy. Then I spend all the other time doing construction work.

A post shared by Char (@oolongowl) on

What has suffered is this year’s Tea Owl crocheting production. I’m just too busted up to crochet, and the Tea Owls are too tired to hatch some eggs.

2016 vs 2017 Oriental Beauty Comparison from Floating Leaves Tea

Last year I passed on 2016 Floating Leaves Tea Oriental Beauty oolong. It sounded good, but there are plenty of other oolongs I like more, so my money went to Floating Leaves Tea’s Dong Ding, High Mountain oolongs, and Red Peony. When the 2017 Oriental Beauty came out, Floating Leaves Tea’s Shiuwen told me this year’s teas is darker in flavor. A darker flavor Oriental Beauty sounded interesting, so I purchased an ounce. She threw in a sample of the 2016 so I can compare them. With both teas in my possession, I might as well drink them side by side and write about it. Both Oriental Beauties are of the QinXin oolong varietal and harvested in PingLin.

Dry leaf and Steeping Method

2017 is more spacious of a tea. Even the bag is more puffed up than the 2016 Oriental Beauty. The scent is pretty close.

I used a pretty high leaf ratio, 1 gram of leaf to 13ml of vessel size. I used boiling spring water, and fast 5 second infusions. After a rinse, the hot leaf smell a touch different between the two teas. The 2016 oolong is more fruity, whereas the 2017 is more woodsy.

Tasting of 2016 and 2017 Oriental Beauty Oolong from Floating Leaves Tea

First, Second, and Third Infusion:

2016 Oriental Beauty – I am introduced to a sweet oriental beauty. This one is quite fruity, tasting like fresh green grapes including the woody stem. The thickness is also quite nice, leaving a lip balm coating after each sip. There is a hint of floral peachy as an aftertaste.

2017 Oriental Beauty – The 2017 oolong is quite different in flavor. Surprisingly, the 2017 Oriental Beauty is more woody and has cinnamon notes. The peachy floral aftertaste is stronger in the 2017 oolong, continuing the cinnamon and floral after each sip. The body seems a bit denser, but not as slick as the 2016 oolong.

Fourth and Fifth Infusion:

2016  Oriental Beauty has developed a lovely honey note which replaced the grape note. The flavor is light honey, wood, and bright sharp finish that makes me literally drool. The aftertaste is sweet crystallized honey and floral peachy.

2017 Oriental Beauty is darker in flavor. It is also similarly sweet and bright, but more leaning on a dark honey (almost to molasses), cinnamon, and driftwood. The finish is bright, and also makes me salivate. The aftertaste is the dark honey.

Sixth and Seventh Infusion:

2016 Oriental Beauty flavor is slipping, and you can tell just by the colour of the tea. The flavor has shifted to bosc pear and woodsy. Very crisp and sweet of a tea, a very nice session.

2017 Oriental Beauty is still going. It tastes like spice like cinnamon and boiled apples and woody. It is sharp in flavor but also starting to go dry.

Eighth Infusion: I did a 10 minute power steep.

2016 Oriental Beauty is light with slight pear and woody notes. Not much left in this tea and probably should of quit on the last infusion.

2017 Oriental Beauty went quite dry with a savory feel in the back of the throat. I could be confused that this is a spent black tea as it tastes and looks just as dark. I likely can get another really dry infusion or two, but I am going to stop here.

Grandpa Style – I was ready to post this review, but saw Floating Leaves Tea recommended the 2017 Oriental Beauty steeped grandpa style. I did both teas with the same ratio and temperature, despite different sized vessels. I mixed up the order in the photo, but you can tell which one is which due the 2017 having a darker colour.

2016 Oriental Beauty is much better gongfu style. The flavor is a meld of fruity pears and some floral. Grandpa style lost a lot of the more intricate notes, likely as it is getting steeped longer.

The 2017 Oriental Beauty is a wow for grandpa. This oolong is sweeter than the 2016 version. I can pick out the cinnamon notes and strong honey flavor. It is more melded in flavor, but the notes are strong enough to hold up.

Comments

I find it fun to compare teas and doing different years of Oriental Beauty side by side for is awesome. Teas do change with every harvest and you only really capture it sticking with the same vendor. Did you know most of the big tea bag sellers go to great lengths with blending so they can make a consistent tasting product every batch? It certainly removes the natural magic of tea turning it into a processed product. Also stresses sampling your favorite teas each season, for example, Baozhong being really awesome for 2017 spring.

2016 Oriental Beauty had lovely notes of honey, grape, pear, floral, and wood. In contrast, 2017 Oriental Beauty is a darker tea with more fall comfort notes of wood, cinnamon, with some sprinklings of fruity and floral. Both teas have their strengths and I can’t choose a clear winner as I would drink these both. It goes down to personal taste, how you like to brew, and mood. I’d likely reach for the 2017 Oriental Beauty when I want a comfort tea, though go for the 2016 when I want a fruity summer vibe.

(2017 OB was purchased, 2016 sample freebie)

2017 Nancai Ancient Sheng Puer from Essence of Tea

With my last Essence of Tea order, I got a free sample of 2017 Nancai Ancient Sheng puer. This tea apparently comes from old wild trees. It is promised to have a strong flavor, qi, bitterness, and aging potential.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

The 2017 Nancai Ancient puer’s dry leaf is strongly fruity smelling with a bit of zest to it.

I used 1 gram of leaf to 15 ml of vessel size. I used 208F/98C water. Why not full boil? My kettle is junk and was flipping out trying to hold 212F/100c. The hot leaf smells fruity and a touch of lime zest.

Tasting of Essence of Tea’s 2017 Nancai Ancient Sheng Puer

First, Second, Third, and Fourth Infusion: This is not a light young tea. The notes are sweet apricots with a buttery texture. It gets bright at end of sip to more apricot sweet and squeaky buttered green beans with a slight char. The aftertaste is soft and lingers in daisy floral and stone fruits. Each stepping gets brighter and sharper in flavor, as well as building some astringency. The 2017 Nancai Ancient is honing in to achieve a stronger and stronger aftertaste. Nancai Ancient packs the perfect intensity of flavor without going overboard.

Fifth and Sixth Infusion: The Nancai Ancient notes slightly shifted to amber incense, light bitterness, and squeaky beans. The texture has gotten thin. There is a sticky astringent texture feel building with a side of gut rot churning. My gut and young sheng sometimes do not get along and I need to eat before and after. The aftertaste is a slightly bitter citrus note.

Seventh and Eighth Infusion: The tea is dead Jim. I did a 10 min infusion and the flavor is more or less gone with a slight bitterness. It isn’t bad bitter so easily drinkable. I tried 8th infusion at 15 minutes it was more bitter with little flavor.

The energy is perky, slipping in after the session. I had plenty of young sheng hangry and had to eat. About 30 minutes later I was feeling very energetic, I can feel my brain was being massaged, which is making me productive, focused, and creative. I will have to drink this puer again when I need to get things done.

Comments

Right now, I would label Essence of Tea’s 2017 Nancai Ancient sheng puer as an awesome young sheng with a good amount of pow to it. Nancai Ancient would be perfect for work tea sessions if you can swing a gaiwan at the office as it is easy to brew, constant in flavor, and great energy. With the nice notes of fruity, vegetal, and citrus, many who love young shengs will dig it. The 2017 Nancai Ancient takes high temperature well and only got bitter in the later infusions, but still drinkable. It certainly has room to mellow out with age.

At this time, 2017 Nancai Ancient is one of Essence of Tea’s cheaper options at £68.00 ($89 USD currently) for a whopping 400 gram cake, though you can order any size of a sample at £0.22 a gram. Priced similarly is Essence of Tea’s Wuliang H, which I personally like more as the flavor and body appealed more to me, but it is a lighter tea, more bitter, with runaway freight train energy. I have been quite pleased with all the puer I’ve gotten from Essence of Tea and I will be buying from them again.

(Tea received as a free sample with purchase)

Tea Time is Me Time Adult Coloring Book

I recall my Dad won Christmas a few years back as he gave me a couple adult colouring books. (BTW, the Canadian in me flinches spelling colour “color”). I coloured a few pages, but I always never have the time to put more work into it.

Colouring books always have a place in my heart, I recall going into metaphysical book stores as a teen to buy weird colouring books of plants, mandalas, and crystals as those were better than cheapo kids colouring books. When I worked as an A&D Counsellor, I always had a stack of colouring pages (from mandalas to ponies) with some crayons. I found people would easily mindlessly colour and get out of their head, leading to interesting conversations.

Enter the adult colouring book craze. You can find all sorts of colouring books. I went crazy one night and ordered a bunch of owl colouring books. At that time, there were no tea related colouring books, and it is certainly a missed opportunity as think of all the teapots, nature, and steam swirls to be coloured, all while drinking tea.

I finally got my claws on Tea Time is “Me” Time! by Stephen and Sarah G White. It took me some time to finish a page. Every extra snippet of time I had, I would make a cup of oolong, sit outside, and colour. I’m a bit of a perfectionist planner when it comes to colouring books, so choosing colours takes most of my time.

tea time is me time - oolong owl (2)

Tea Time is “Me” Time! is a fun tea lover colouring book. It is certainly more towards an English tea drinker, with many images with more of an afternoon tea vibe featuring sweets.

tea time is me time - oolong owl (3)

What I liked about this colouring book illustration wise, I liked the clean dark lines and balance of small detail and larger colouring spaces. None of the small detail was too small, so everything easily can be done with colouring pencil. There are some images with mandala-like patterns for types like me who can just zone out and colour interesting cycles of colour. On the opposite side of each colouring page is a tea-related quote. Some fun from Monty Python to classic like John Keats.

tea time is me time - oolong owl (4)

Construction wise, the quote pages is nice as you won’t have images sandwiched together, and the next page is left blank for bleed through (for marker use) or if you want to remove it to display.

My only beef was hoping for more Chinese or Japanese style tea pages. I would be happy to colour a radioactive matcha green page or two. Here is my finished page:

tea time is me time - oolong owl (1)

The same author also has an OWL COLOURING BOOK – The Magic of Owls! OMG.

tea time is me time - oolong owl (5)

I actually liked the Owl colouring book more – something about feathers make for some fun colouring, plus I liked all the owls. The owl book does have a few images with really tiny details that only a marker can get into.

tea time is me time - oolong owl (7)

Just in case someone asks, I use the Derwent Coloursoft pencils. They have great colour pay off, but they are on the soft side – which is handy for blending, but likely you want an eraser/paper to ensure you don’t smear any dust.

tea time is me time - oolong owl (9)

I also use the Derwent Metallic pencils, though they are inconsistent in their smoothness and colour payoff. However, I like how the metallic pencils look.

tea time is me time - oolong owl (8)

(books provided for review | Amazon affiliate links)

2017 Farmer Direct Tea Sheng Puer from White2tea

2017 puer is nuts. We got so much selection this year for young sheng, that I’ve been busy drinking it all and getting gut rot. I’ve drunk a good selection of White2Tea’s 2017 line now, so I am starting with what I found is a good mid-range tea. I got 2017 Farmer Direct Tea (FDT) as a bonus sample with purchase. I was a high roller this year and only bought the expensive White2Tea shengs to try, which I slightly regret as FDT turned out to be pretty good.

Farmer Direct Tea. I’m sure the name of this tea really appeals to people as it is a popular buzzword, as it sounds wholesome organic or maybe fair trade. I can feel the Search Engine Optimization magic from the Google superpower. Oddly, my brain switched off “Farmer Direct” buzzword immediately and went to “direct to video” giggles. If White2Tea does this tea again, it should be like Farmer Direct 2: Director Tong Cut, then Farmer Direct 3: Revenge of the Hui Gan.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

Farmer Direct Tea smells fruity, fuzzy, and somewhat nutty.

I didn’t do anything different with gongfu style, but this year I have no mercy with young shengs so it has been boil boil boil. I went with 1 gram to 15ml, steeped in boiling water. The hot leaf smells like scorched sticky rice.

Tasting of White2Tea’s 2017 Farmer Direct Tea Sheng Puer

First and Second Infusion: Farmer Direct Tea is subtle on flavor with a savory, sticky rice broth. The aftertaste is light, clean, and sweet grassy as if I ate a salad 10 minutes ago. The body is interesting – it is certainly sticky. It feels like it gumming up in the back of my tongue.

Third and Fourth Infusion: FDT has gotten more sticky, it is despite it being watery tea. It is like drinking glue as the broth jams the back of the throat and settles there. The flavor notes of savory grass and green beans are stronger, though still on the lighter side.

Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Infusion: It keeps getting stickier and stickier. The flavor is pushing the limit, especially with boiling temperature. My greens are getting stewed and dancing to bitterness. However, the body keeps getting stickier and stickier – like a bone heavy stock that gluey dense texture to it. The flavor is still on the savory side, so this straight up tastes like vegetable + bones broth. The aftertaste is finally coming out with a stronger, longer lasting sweet grass and spinach.

Ninth and Tenth Infusion: I did long infusions here, so around 10 to 15 minutes, to keep Farmer Direct Tea going. Despite the long infusions, it is actually quite drinkable with sharp steamed greens and spinach notes and that glue mouthfeel. I now regret not leafing this a touch more. 1 gram to 12ml might have a better result for more potency as this tea can certainly take a touch more abuse.

Comments

White2Tea’s 2017 Farmer Direct Tea Sheng Puer (FDT) is a savory light tea with a crazy sticky body. This tea is hands down for texture chasers. FDT makes for good educational tea if you want to experience how tea has texture. Overall, I found Farmer Direct Tea reliable to steep, likely a touch heavy on the leaf would have good results. I wouldn’t go under boiling water as the flavor is just too subtle and this tea is all about the texture. Without the hot brewing temperature, you’ll likely just have strange dishwater.

Comparing to the other White2Tea 2017 shengs I’ve had, Farmer Direct Tea’s savory and sticky notes stand out in the sea of sweet young puer. I’ll be mentioning FDT again when I get around to reviewing White2Tea’s 4am, which has similar sticky texture, but more refined in taste.

At this time, 2017 Farmer Direct Tea is $69 for a 200 gram cake. Honestly, 2017 puer has been expensive and I’ve noticed this with across many of the puer sellers. Maybe it is fond memories but I feel previous years $50 cakes were just as good as these 2017 $70+ cake whippersnappers. Through the grapevine, I heard the material was more expensive this year due to weather. That said, this year is important to sample first before committing to a cake.

(My sample of FDT was a bonus free sample with my order. I didn’t buy the tea but it also wasn’t provided to be reviewed)

Black Teas from TeaBento

With fall here, I’m in the mood for darker teas. I’ve been drinking all the black and shous lately. Today’s review is black teas from Teabento – a new seller based in Germany. Teabento has a really cute website with fun photos of teas as animals. Their tea selection is primarily unflavored, with a few floral teas. Teabento also carries a number of uncommon and rare teas.

Today I will be drinking Happy Panda, Red Panda, and Plum Rooster.

Teabento’s Happy Panda Black Tea

Happy Panda is a non-smoked Lapsang Souchong. I love seeing traditional Lapsangs as I dislike the smoked ones unless it is for cooking. No don’t tell me I haven’t had a good expensive Lapsang Souchong, I have.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method: The fine leaves have a rich dark chocolate smell.

I noticed Teabento has their black tea steeping parameters on lower temperatures and greatly under leafed compared to what I usually do. They list 1 gram to 30ml at 203F/95c for this tea. I went with 1 gram to 15ml, with 205F/96c. I actually leaf black teas harder than that and usually boil for gongfu style, but when I see quite low-temperature suggestions, I get nervous thinking that the teas are supposed to be bitter.

First and Second Infusion: Happy Panda black has a strong, deep woodsy flavor with an overdrive of orange pith bitterness, with a smooth creamy malty note at the end of the sip. There is some bitterness but it is balanced well with the orange fresh taste and malt. It tastes like an adult chocolate orange.

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: Happy Panda got luxuriously smooth. The orange pith chilled out thus no bitterness, so it is mostly a malty oak flavor, with a hint of orange. The body is thick and dense, it is like drinking cream. There is some dryness in the mouth after drinking it.

Sixth and Seventh Infusion: Nope, Happy Panda is no longer happy. This Lapsang Souchong went bitter and gum dry. I still get some malty woodsy notes, but it is too dry and bitter to continue. Now I see why Teabento says to use a lower temperature. I still won’t leaf it less though.


Teabento’s Red Panda Black Tea

Red Panda is a High Mountain black. This tea is an interesting one as I assumed it was a Taiwanese high mountain, but it is actually is a Yunnan big leaf varietal grown in China, but processed like a black Taiwanese tea.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method: The leaf is long, thin and wiry with a creamy sweet smell.

Teabento suggested similar gongfu parameters, but instead with a range of 195-205F/ 90-95c. I stuck to my guns and did 205F/96c with 1 gram to 15ml of vessel. The hot leaves smell ULTRA fruity!

First, Second, and Third Infusion: Wow, this texture! Red Panda is an oily bear! The High Mountain Black feels very slick like I took a sip of oil. The flavor is bright, strongly berry – leaning towards crisp blackberries. There are hints of malt and clover honey. I get an aftertaste that lingers for a bit of berry and mystery floral. There is also a bit of dryness after each sip. The texture is what seals this tea as awesome – I don’t come across a black this heavy that often. Generally, I find similar texture in oolongs and puer only.

Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: Oooph, this one crashed and burned. Red Panda black is delicate as it is quite dry and bitter. It switched more to a sour underripe berry, with notes of malt.

Teabento’s Plum Rooster Black Tea

Plum Rooster is a black Jong Jing. There is only one time that I’ve seen a black long jing and that is Joseph Wesley Black Tea’s 03 Classic Chinese, which uses the same cultivar.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method: The leaves of Plum Rooster are very long and wiry. Interestingly, the leaves smell like a bakery.

After the last two teas going bitter, I used my usual 1 gram/15ml ratio but dropped the temperature to 195F/90c. Teabento suggests 185-195F/ 85-90c, so I am treading carefully to steep this tea fast.

First, Second, Third, and Fourth Infusion: Plum Rooster is a very different tea. It is mineral, buttery, and bready. I do get an eggy crumbly cookie note, which makes for a fun tea. There is a slight aftertaste of bread, but I also get a bit of dry mouth. I wished I steeped Plum Rooster a higher temperature, as the body is on the oily side and I could have gotten more out of it. But I can tell this is a bitter tea if I push it too much.

Fifth and Sixth Infusion: This one squeaks sour notes, like sourdough bread and pomelo citrus. It quickly crashed and lost flavor on the final infusion. The lower temperature did limit the bitterness, but still some dryness after each sip.

I like how unique Plum Rooster is – bready, buttery and citrus notes are fun. Out of the three teas, Plum Rooster is my pick.

Comments

Out of the three, I liked Plum Rooster the most, but they were all quite tasty. They are definitely high-quality black teas with the perfect fine leaves to the bright high impact flavor. If you are on the hunt of an uncommon black tea, Teabento looks like a good option. Despite being from Germany, they ship do ship worldwide with reasonable rates and a free shipping threshold.

All the Teabento black teas I tried were fussy brewers. I steep my black teas quite aggressively with high leaf and boiling water, but all these I had to reduce leaf and temperature, but I still got bad bitter results. All teas got awesome early infusions with bright flavor, which I tend to associate with competition level tea. These are teas you want to take extra care in brewing – no daily drinkers that you re-steep all day here. Sit down, have a variable kettle, and put in the effort to make these teas good. I only had 5-10 grams of each, so I had no wiggle room to optimize the teas. I even wasn’t able to use the vessel I like for black teas since I had such little leaf.

I really like their animal names and art with the tea. It is a nice change of pace than other sellers renaming teas “exotic /pretty /immortal /animal picking tea”. Though I didn’t see any relation of the animal to name really. I would have named the black Long Jing “Rooster Cookie” hahah!

(tea provided for review)