Bao Zhong from The Persimmon Tree – Tea Review

Bao Zhong is a twisted pouchong oolong tea from The Persimmon Tree.

Mmmm, Bao Zhong, I love this oolong! It is also used often as a base in all my favorite oolong blends that feature creamy or fruity flavors. Oh yeah! I had to give The Persimmon Tree‘s Bao Zhong a try!

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DRY LEAF: Mmm, delicious smelling dry leaf! It smells sweet, buttery and a little floral.

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Nice big leaves too!

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STEEPED: I steeped Bao Zhong as per instructions on the tin – 190F for 4 minutes.

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After 4 minutes, I had a golden yellow/green cup of tea that smells buttery!

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TASTE: A very delicate tea! Bao Zhong has a nice buttery, sweet vegetal flavor similar to a fresh bean. It is delicately fruity and sweet- the floral is described as “lilac” by The Persimmon Tree, I don’t think I’ve eaten a lilac, but I’d say the floral is similar to orchid. 3/10 on the Floral-o-meter – Bao Zhong‘s floral is light, yet detectable. The tea finishes with a slight astringency 1/10 on the Astringe-o-meter.

Talking about astringency, last time I had this tea I found it much more astringent, but I followed the same steeping instructions. I’m thinking I overleafed the first time.

RESTEEP: The resteep of Bao Zhong is still just as sweet, but towards a light fruity note. This time the tea is more crisp as there is less butteryness. The astringency went up a touch, 2/10 on the Astringe-o-meter.  Overall, pretty good resteep.

GONGFU: I decided to give Bao Zhong a run through my gaiwan – 190F for 15 second steepings, increasing the time as I go along.

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First Steeping: Bao Zhong is lightly sweet, refreshing with a slightly silky texture – yum!
Second & Third Steeping: Pear notes! Similar to the cold steep! The creamy butteryness has finally developed.
Fourth & Fifth Steeping: Flavor has become brighter – sweet and vegetal. The astringency has begun appearing now.
Sixth & Seventh Steeping: Much more astringent,  3/10 on the Astringe-o-meter. The creamy buttery flavor has slipped, leaving stronger floral notes – 4/10 on the Floral-o-meter.

I love how lush and big the leaves got in my gaiwan!

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COLD STEEPED: I’ve been loving oolongs cold steeped – they do very well with a longer steeping, so I do oolong cold steepings overnight. I was excited to try Bao Zhong cold steeped! The taste? Very refreshing with a slightly silky texture. The oolong is slightly grassy with a gentle sweet pear note at the end. Very tasty! No dry or bitterness! I could drink this tea as a cold steep all day!

COMMENTS: Bao Zhong is a lovely floral oolong offering from The Persimmon Tree. The flavors are lightly complex and a nice starter oolong for someone who is into greens, or a staple floral fresh oolong for your tea collection.

(tea provided for review)

2013 Yiwu Spring Sheng Pu’er from Misty Peak Teas – Tea Review

Today, I am sampling some 2013 Yiwu Spring Sheng Pu’er from Misty Peak Tea. This tea is produced in pu’er country – Yiwu, Xishuangbanna Yunnan China.

Misty Peak Tea was giving away a free sample of this tea and I jumped on it fast. Sheng pu’er? YUM!

DRY LEAF: This one is a doozy as I’m pretty sure my sample was smashed up by USPS – it happens. I had one small intact piece of cake, with the rest being pretty loose. I’m not getting much smell off the dry leaves.

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The tiny green Owl is sitting in my tea cup. I bet he’s hoping I will pour the tea straight into his beak.

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Steeping procedure: I used around 5g of tea leaf, steeped with 200F water, 10 second rinse, then 15 second steepings for the first two, then adding an addition 15 seconds to each infusion. I went with a little cooler water to hopefully decrease the astringency due to this being a young sheng.

Fantastic smells during the rinse – smelled like I was in the mountains!

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First Infusion:  Lovely golden yellow cup of tea that has an earthy forest floor scent.

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The taste? SMOOOOOTH! Very light beginning of sip. Mid sip the tea perks into a sweet, woody and a little bit of pear notes carried with a smooth creamy texture. The tea finishes off with a light astringent note, 1/10 on the Astringe-o-meter – an interesting grainy dry sensation on the teeth.

Second Infusion: Very similar to the first infusion, but I’m getting less woodyness, but instead a mineral/coppery flavor. The tea ends with that sweet pear, kind of apricot note. A little more astringency, hitting a 2/10 this time, with the grainy dryness hitting the roof of my mouth.

Third, Fourth Infusion: Tea, you are really complex, aren’t you? It is like the flavor notes are dancing, and I happen to capture the dancers in different positions at each infusion. This steeping is not as smooth, but upfront, strong sweet pear and apricot flavor mixed with savory cream notes, with a linger aftertaste of florally apricot. Astringency still present.

During the fourth infusion, the tea leaves really opened up, fully expanded in my gaiwan.

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Fifth Infusion: I was warned around 5th infusion this sheng pu’er will get good. Beginning and mid sip is beautifully light, with end of sip ending in that fantastic apricot persimmon floral flavor. Lovely aftertaste!

I’m finding I’m feeling really relaxed from this tea. Maybe it is a bit of me having Misty Peak Tea site open and the “Beautiful Chinese Music” is playing on loop.

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Sixth, Seventh, Eighth Infusion: The tea has lightened into a flow of mineral coppery sweet ending with a bit of savoryness, with that fantastic fruity floral aftertaste!

Wow the leaves are pretty big!

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Ninth, Tenth Infusion: The tea is very light here, however the creamy is back! Up front, creamy wave that leads through a clean light woodsy flavor, to a 5/10 Astringency end of sip. After taste is a simple mineral sweet taste.

COMMENTS: 2013 Yiwu Spring Sheng Pu’er from Misty Peak Tea is quite a complex flavored tea! I enjoyed all the various notes dancing, infusion to infusion. I felt really relaxed drinking this tea, having a nice calming tea experience.

I’m not a huge fan of the astringency that perks up in the later cups, but from what I gather, with some age this pu’er will be very lovely!

BONUS PIC:

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Wonders of Kashmir from Della Terra Teas – Tea Review

Wonders of Kashmir is a unique white and green tea blend featuring sweet corn, pineapple, papaya and jasmine. This tea is from Della Terra Teas, an online tea seller of some really creative blends. I bought this tea purely on crazy unique value. Corn? Fruit? Jasmine? YEAH! Wonders of Kashmir from Della Terra Teas - Oolong Owl tea review (1) DRY LEAF: Wonders of Kashmir features some nice big leafy tea mixed with large corn kernels and cubes of fruit. Wonders of Kashmir from Della Terra Teas - Oolong Owl tea review (2) Giant corn! Wonders of Kashmir from Della Terra Teas - Oolong Owl tea review (3) There’s only one jasmine bud in my entire 1 oz!  Kind of odd, I guess they wanted the jasmine to be really slight – I’m going to make sure it makes it way into my hot tasting.

STEEPED: I steeped this tea for 160F for 2 minutes. It was on the high end for Della Terra’s reconmendations of 149F to 158F. The result was a gold cup of tea that smelled unusually peachy. I find it interesting how sometimes floral blends can get a little peachy. Wonders of Kashmir from Della Terra Teas - Oolong Owl tea review (4)

TASTE: The corn adds this unique texture to the tea – adding the sensation and gentle note of creamy. The creamy is really different though – it’s not vanilla creamy but a juicy vegetal creamy. There’s a soft wave of pineapple mid sip, gliding underneath the fog of sweet corn. I do find the mix of pineapple and corn a little weird – it’s a mix of tang with the savory creamy toning down the tang. I’m getting a little peachy, but I think that’s the jasmine doing tricks on me. But other than that, the floral is very little – 2/10 on the Floral-o-meter – though I purposefully tossed in that jasmine bud. The base is really light – and what I taste is mostly the white tea, Pai Mu Tan /Bai Mu Dan confusion, and no grassy from the greens. No tartness or astringency with the steeping instructions I followed.

Because I was curious, I added a little german rock sugar to the rest of my pot of Wonders of Kashmir. The sweetener makes the pineapple pop with some other mystery fruityness. The corn comes out more, tasting more like creamed corn.

COLD STEEPED: I cold steeped Wonders of Kashmir for about 3 hours. I like this tea cold steeped a bit more. Interestingly, there’s less pineapple, just a hint of sweetness. The corn and green tea pop more. This cold steep becomes a savory, yet refreshing tea with a bit of sweetness.

COMMENTS: I find Wonders of Kashmir to be a very unusual blend. Love out to Della Terra Teas for balancing savory corn, tangy pineapple, floral and tea into one tea blend! Overall, Wonders of Kashmir is an adventure – like hiking in the mountains in the fog, munching on some pineapple trail mix and finding a single flower blooming.

If you like savory and light teas, I’d give this tea a sample. Personally, out of the other corn teas from Della Terra Teas, I prefer A Rabbits Garden more.

Mandala Wild Monk Raw Pu’er 2012 – Tea Review and Experience

MY FIRST PU’ER CAKE! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT!

I mentioned previously that I’ve been shopping for pu’er cakes. I did lots of research and set a budget. After checking ratings, I discovered Mandala Tea has a great lineup, along with their own exclusive cakes. They also have really great customer support!

This Mandala “Wild Monk” Raw Pu’er 2012 caught my eye for it’s promise of smokey and creamy notes, without any bitterness. It is also a 100g cake, so it is small enough to be affordable and low risk for a new to pu’er cake tea owl like me to try. I got this cake, and a ripe/shu one. I felt kinda weird as every tea article said “Buy a ripe/shu first!” but the raw/sheng pu’er attracted me the most. Pffffft, whatever. I’ve probably established, here at Oolong Owl, I’m a little unconventional.

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I was waiting for the right day to try this cake, however Mandala Tea put the other cake I was thinking about on sale. NOOO! So, if I love this Wild Monk cake, I’m going to make another order. Hey, the pu’er cakes seem awesome! I don’t feel forced to drink the tea within a year (or less) and it gets better with age? YES. I CAN HORDE THESE PU’ER CAKES! FILL MY DRESSER FULL!

Okay, time to crack open my first pu’er cake! The Owls gathered for this pu’er cake event!

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Unwrapping! The cake was surprisingly easy to unfold.

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CAKE! It smells earthy and like smokey incense.

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The Owls seemed impressed. Owly is just standing there looking serious.

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I didn’t get a pu’er knife/pick/axe as I figured I could find something around the house. After searching around, I found a thin crochet hook I use for adding beads to my lace work. I found a loose section on the back of the cake and went to work.

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… which didn’t work. I was just splintering the cake. I’m sure all you experienced Pu’er owlets are crying right now. I then tried a small eyeglass flat-head screw driver, which worked really well. However, I wish the screw driver was longer. !@)!$$@@$%! I’m buying a pu’er knife!

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After I broke apart chunks, my cake looked like a big cookie with a bite taken out of it!

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To the gaiwan!

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STEEPING: It sounds like Wild Monk is pretty flexible on temperature, ranging from 175F to 205F. With that said, I went with 185F starting at 15 seconds, and adding 15 seconds to each infusion. For the later infusions, I raised the steeping time by 30 seconds.

During the rinse, wow, fabulous smell – smokey!

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First Infusion: Lovely pale gold colour. The taste is softly sweet, like a mix of grassy sweet hay. The smokeyness is the most dominate note – it reminds me of camping in the early summer. Like, you are waking up and the sun is coming up, the fire is humming smoke, slowly cooking trout. The camp fire also has remnants of last nights creamy marshmallow roasting. Wild Monk also has a small peep of creamy. After my cup, I was left with a smokey sweet taste in my mouth. AMAZING!!!!! Oh.. no bitterness, dryness or pu’er funky fish taste in this tea!

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Second Infusion: Even more smokey! WOW. The smokeyness smells and tastes almost like sweet hickery smoke. Wild Monk finishes off on a sweet apple note.

Third, Fourth Infusion: The smokey and sweet notes are starting to meld. The sweet aftertaste tastes like fresh apricots to me! As the tea cools, I found the sweetness also reminded me of persimmons – that gentle fruit, light tang, slight earthy flavor on the tongue with a soft creamy texture.

I love the appearance of this tea leaves steeped – there is a beautiful set of colours of various greens and reddy browns!

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Fifth, Sixth, Seventh Infusion: The tea changed – the smokeyness is still there, but the sweetness is brighter and taking over. I’m getting a slight dryness, 2/10 on the Astringe-o-meter, which is sticking to my teeth. I’m still getting that lovely persimmon note that has a little floral cream aftertaste.

I’m finding this tea more inspiring in an energetic way, rather than lamp shade pu’er party time like Mandala’s Phatty Cake pu’er. The smokey tones and fall colours are calling me to play some pretty Folk or symphonic metal, like Eluveitie or Within Temptation.  Let’s go with Within Temptation – there’s an Owl in the video!

Eighth, Ninth Infusion: Wild Monk has grown lighter in flavor. The smokey notes are very faint, with the persimmon/apricot note very soft. What is interesting is even though the flavor is light, the persimmon/apricot after taste lingers for a long time in my mouth.

The leaves have expanded greatly, taking up lots of space in my gaiwan!

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Tenth, Eleventh Infusion: Flavor is practically gone, but the presence of the light astringency is still here. I’m just drinking these because I want this tea to last forever.

COMMENTS: Tea Owlets, I love persimmon fruit and I’ve never seen it in a tea yet! The fruity notes here are fantastic! I’ve had a couple smokey teas, but this Wild Monk smokey is really easy to drink and pleasant tasting. I really enjoyed the transition of flavors and the complexity, but yet all easy to taste.

I was planning on aging this cake and doing blog posts years later reporting on how this tea changed. BUT HOW WILL I KEEP MY HANDS OFF THIS CAKE??? Crap, I might have to buy another one! My poor tea budget!

My poor tea-hating husband too. He’s going to cry when he sees more of these pu’er cakes showing up as he’s admittedly freaked out by them for some reason. However, as a psychology major, I believe he secretly likes the concept of pu’er cakes and feels conflicted about his dislike of tea. He’s expressed interest in the pu’er cake process when we watched youtube videos about pu’er.

I do enjoy that full body rich ripe/shu pu’er, but raw/sheng pu’erh is on a completely different level. If you prefer greens/whites over black tea, a nice raw/sheng pu’er would greatly appeal to you! Overall, check out this Mandala “Wild Monk” Raw Pu’er 2012! If I have some left next year, I’ll report back on the flavor!

Inexpensive Cha Hai/ Tea Pitcher Find!

What’s a Cha Hai? It is a serving pitcher used in gongfu style brewing. After you steep your tea in a nice gaiwan or small pot, you pour the tea into the cha hai, and from there, serve the tea.

Here’s a video from Verdant Tea for more explanation of chinese tea ceremony gear.

(isn’t Verdant’s Videos always so calming?)

Anyways, though most of my tea sessions are just for me (and stuff Owls), I use the pitcher as a vessel to strain the tea, have another infusion on stand-by to drink, and when I’m drinking out of small cups. When I get the odd person who joins me for tea, and I got my gaiwan going, I always use the cha hai so we get the same tasting cup of tea. Also, the pitcher looks pretty cool for blog photos, heh!

I purchased a glass cha hai with my gaiwan, both coming from YunnanSourcing.us. Later on, I bought a strainer to go with my cha hai from Mandala Tea.

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I love the glass cha hai, but knowing my track record for breaking tea pots, I began looking for a more durable pitcher. Most of the cha hai pitchers I’ve seen come in glass, white or yixing clay colours, so I was hoping to find a nice colourful one!

Anyways, I saw some really cool colourful similar shaped items at IKEA online, but they were too big as they were actually gravy boats. However, I finally found a pitcher at World Market Cost Plus.

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I did find this with the tea sets in the store, however I think this item is actually a creamer pitcher. It also had matching 25oz tea pot and large cups. (Too bad no matching gaiwan, right?) Either way, I love it! The pitcher feels sturdy, great colourful glaze, and it was pretty cheap!

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It turns out it holds 200ml, just like my glass cha hai! Score! Actually, it’s pretty much the same shape and size too.

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So, if you are looking for a cha hai, totally check out creamer-vessels. I saw some for even cheaper ($2-$3) that were plain white.

Yes, my tea set up is all mis-matched and random. I like to save money more, which I use to buy more important things like more tea!

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Off to enjoy my oolong while rocking out to Devin Townsend <3

Jasmine Blueberry from Art of Tea – Tea Review

Jasmine Blueberry is a floral and fruity green tea blend from Art of Tea.

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DRY LEAF: Interestingly, the dry leaf smells mostly like blueberries! Just a smidgen of jasmine scent.

The dry leaf consists of tightly spun dark green tea accented with dime sized blueberries, with the odd jasmine bud.

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STEEPED: I followed the steeping instructions of 185F for 5 minutes. Geeze, I haven’t steeped a tea for this long for awhile.

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While I wait 5 minutes, I grabbed a jellyfish to share my tea with.

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In the end, I was left with a brown gold cup of tea, that smells interestingly like blueberry and jasmine floral.

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TASTE: Gahhh, really bitter green and perfumey! Pour it out, POUR IT OUT!!!!!!!! /scares the jellyfish

Checking.. doh, the packaging was wrong! 3 minutes as per the Jasmine Blueberry page.  This isn’t the first time this has happened to me. Typo errors happen, or maybe Art of Tea updated the steep time online, but not on older packages, who knows. Admittedly, this tea Owl feels happy that it wasn’t my own error in screwing up this tea.

Let’s try this again, unfortunately, I only have 1 more cup left, so no iced tea. I discarded Art of Tea‘s steeping instructions and went with my favorite green tea blend steeping time of 175F for 2 minutes. 

Jasmine Blueberry, with the lower temperature and steep time, is much better! The floral is jasminey sweet and moderate, say a 5/10 on the Floral-o-meter. Mid sip, the green tea hits me, which has a savory dandelion green bitterness that coats the entire mouth – 6/10 on the Bitter-o-meter. End of sip and after taste is a really good, natural blueberry flavor! There is a touch of astringency in this tea as well. The bitterness and astringency help carry the floral throughout the cup.

COMMENTS: Jasmine Blueberry is quite a promising green tea blend. If I had more, I’d try this at 165F or cold steeped, as I’m not a fan of bitterness in my tea. However, if you don’t mind a bit of bitterness or have a variable kettle, this tea has really nice jasmine and the blueberry is fantastic!

Tea Lesson: Double check steeping instructions on delicate teas.

(Tea provided for review)

Yunnan White Jasmine from Verdant Tea – Tea Review

Yunnan White Jasmine is a jasmine silver needle white tea from Verdant Tea.

This tea came as a sample with my last Verdant Tea order. I almost ordered this one! It was in my cart, but I was in one of those annoying “I need to order more to hit free shipping, but I’m already spending too much” problems, so I dropped it and requested it as my free sample.

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DRY LEAF: When I snipped open my sample package – holy moly! It was a blast of jasmine! Really good jasmine! Can I wear this as perfume?

The leaves are a lovely white, grey green that feel firm. The white tea is accented with yellow-orange petals.

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STEEPED: Queuing the gaiwan! I followed the gongfu brewing instructions, 175F for 5 seconds,  adding 3 seconds after the third infusion.

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Gentle swirls of jasmine perfume coming from my cup! The smell attracted the green owl, Laoshan again.

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And he brought reinforcements again.

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Very light colour tea – a hint of creamy yellow!

First infusion: the floral is light, yet the dominate flavor here. 5/10 on the Floral-o-meter! The texture is silky and smooth, something I haven’t experienced in a jasmine white tea before! There is also a soft sweetness melded into the jasmine floral that makes this cup easy to drink. There is also another interesting flavor note. Verdant describes it as “linen”. I was going to describe the flavor as “The flavor of sucking on a wet cotton washcloth while in the bathtub when you were a baby” but “Linen” is less wordy. The linen is comforting (to me, the baby cloth sucker) and clean – this tea has NO elements of over-perfumed, artificial or chemicalness.

Second infusion: This cup has a bit more colour and the creamy silky texture goes up a notch. The jasmine is still going strong. The sweetness is really good here – it is very clean and bright.

Third Infusion: The flavor is changing – like the leaves took a breath from the ground. The floral jasmine has a bit of a earthy pine. The silky texture took a sharp drop, thus the tea has become crisp! Very interesting!

Fourth and Fifth Infusion: Yunnan White Jasmine changed again! Love it! The tea is much more crisp and the sweetness has jumped and that linen flavor is more accented. The earthy pine flavor is great, complimenting the jasmine. It’s like I can taste the flowers and the field they came from.

Hey, Oolong Owl! Fill up the gaiwan again!

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YAY!

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Sixth and Seventh Infusion: The jasmine is still going strong, sweet, earthy and crisp! I’m getting a teeny bit of astringency that hits my teeth, though is quite pleasant.

Eighth Infusion: The sweetness here has gotten kinda fruity, kinda like fresh melon. However, the tea has lightened significantly in flavor.

COLD STEEPED: You know I had to try Yunnan White Jasmine cold steeped. I found at the 2 and 3 hour mark, there was little flavor. I tried again at the 6 hour mark and the flavor was much better! Yunnan White Jasmine cold steeped is refreshing, clean and jasmine. The texture is a little different than hot – as it sips thin, sweet and floral, but end of sip, the tea is silky, which lingers, along with the jasmine flavor, in the throat. Very nice!

COMMENTS: If gorgeous was a taste, this tea would be it!

The floral in Yunnan White Jasmine is outstanding, like I’m drinking an amazing artwork of a flower. Uhh, wait, that doesn’t make any sense and sounds like I’m on Iron Chef Japan.

As a floral lover, I was quite blown away. So blown away, if I had more of this tea I wouldn’t drink my other jasmines. Gah, I hate saying that, but it’s true. If you tea owlpeeps can try this Verdant Tea white, I highly recommend it!

BONUS PIC:

Yunnan White Jasmine from Verdant Tea - Oolong Owl tea review (8)Baby Mint Owl’s first tea 

Sexy Chai from Steep City Teas – Tea Review

Sexy Chai is a black chai blend featuring floral elements of lavender and rose. This fun, sexy take on chai is from Steep City Teas.

Hmmm, this is the first chai for me to review here at Oolong Owl. I’ll give you tea owlets some background on my chai history. During my last year of university, I loved SPICY chais. I actually burned my tongue on too much spice once when I added multiple tea bags for one cup of tea. After university, I had a bad run in with cardamon, so I stopped getting chais, especially with cardamon in it. These days, I purchase the occasional interesting chai blend. Sexy Chai caught my eye for its floral elements, so I bought it with my last Steep City order.

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DRY LEAF: Upon opening the package, the tea smells really strong – a mix of chai spice with lavender.

Very pretty appearance, as always with Steep City Teas, with the tea a rainbow of floral over the black tea backdrop.

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Closer inspection of the dry leaf, it appears to be a blend of black tea and a CTC type tea, along with spicy bits, rose, lavender and jasmine buds.

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STEEPED: I followed the steeping instructions on the package:

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The result was a burnt amber cup of tea that smells floral and spicy – what a cool combo!

Sexy Chai from Steep City Tea - Oolong Owl Tea Review (5)

TASTE: Without cream or sugar, Sexy Chai has a brisk, clean, bold tasting black tea that is free of bitterness, though a gentle peek of dryness – 2/10 on the Astringe-o-meter. The spice can be tasted – especially the ginger and clove, with a bit of cinnamon and cardamon too. 5/10 on the Spice-o-meter – the spice is moderate and not over the top. There is plenty of floral going on in Sexy Chai – adding romance to the tea with smooth-talking lavender and a teeny sweetness from the jasmine and rose.

LATTE: You tea peeps knew a latte was coming – chai lattes are amazing! But can they be sexy? I made my latte with soy milk and german rock sugar. Sexy Chai as a latte is really smooth, cuddly and soothing from the smooth-talking lavender, with a bit of spice adding a bit of sexy kick.

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COMMENTS: Attention Chai lovers – you will fall in love with Steep City’s Sexy Chai! If you are looking for a fun chai, check this tea out!

The combination of the floral and spice is fantastic! I really admire the use of lavender in this tea blend. The lavender in this blend is at a perfect level – I can taste the lavender, but it is not too much to overpower or make the blend taste like soap.  Even with multiple cups of this tea, the floral level was very consistent! Expertly blended from Steep City Teas!

 

Mandala Phatty Cake from Mandala Tea – Tea Review

Mandala Phatty Cake is an exclusive, ripe (shu) pu’er 2011 cake from Mandala Tea!

My tea collection is on the high side and as 2013 first flush teas are starting to be sold, I’m freaking out. All those greens and white teas I have in my stash that I need to drink now! I dislike stale tea. Then I started thinking, hey, pu’er teas get better with age! I should get some and I don’t have to worry about my teas going stale. So I researched! Mandala Tea caught my eye for having some good pu’er. After trying to figure out what to get, conversation with Mandala Tea themselves, I put in an order of a couple cakes and other goodies. Mandala Phatty Cake was on my list, but I went with another ripe cake instead – and Mandala was super cool in giving me a surprise sample of Phatty cake!

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I thought I’d start off trying this sample before I start tea knifing my cakes!

DRY CAKE: Mmmmm, the chunks of this tea smell like incense that has burned down and earth.

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Gaiwan time!

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Steeping instructions: I did a quick rinse and used boiling water for this tea. Mandala Tea also has Tea Brewing 101 on instructions how to steep their teas. I like shorter steeps, so I started at 15 seconds for the first couple steepings and added 15 seconds to each infusion.

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First Infusion: The colour seems a little light. Maybe I should of done a second rinse. The cup smells deliciously earthy and like wild mushrooms. No fishyness or funky fermentation funk! The cup of very clean tasting, like as if I’m drinking the vibrant earth from the forest where elves live (NERRRD!). A little light though.

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Second Infusion: Mandala Phatty Cake is now a deep, black brown colour of tea. It’s bold, it’s full flavored, it’s sweet! It has earthy, dark chocolate, wild mushroom and smokey notes. Very smooth and addictive texture too!

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Third Infusion: … and POW, Mandala Phatty Cake is switching into high gear! This cup is the darkest round of tea and loaded with flavor. So bold, tabaccoy and a hint of spice, but also sweet. It’s like tucking into a really rich coffee cake with raisins. Oh man, I’d love to have a slice of coffee cake with this tea! No bitterness or astringency, by the way.

I’m starting to feel invigorated!

Fourth and Fifth Infusion: Another flavor shift, despite being a touch lighter in colour than the last infusion. Much more earthy, bright and sweet – love it! I’d love to eat a cinnamon roll with this tea.

Sixth, Seventh Infusion: SUPER CHARGED TEA DRUNK! Each sip is a surge of life! I’m getting a little salty mineral notes, like dark soy sauce, mushrooms, raisins and earth. Can I make this tea into a stir fry sauce? Freaking fantastic infusions!

I am a metal music gal at heart, but I think it’s time to bust out some K-pop dance moves. I should of bought those pastel green pants at Forever 21 last month…

Eighth and Ninth Infusion: The Mandala Phatty Cake has shifted lighter, but we are still partying here at Oolong Owl! It has that crisp, saturated, earthy flavor of steamed banana leaf wrapped around sticky rice. Sweet, roasty, smokey, smooth and fresh.

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Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth Infusion: The bold, mushroom flavor is greatly stripped away and I’m left with smokey sweet earth with a kiss of spice. Since the 7th or so steeping, I’ve found this tea easy to drink, drinking each cup faster each time.

Mandala Phatty Cake - Oolong Owl Tea review (12)mmm, delicious!

Thirteenth and Fourteenth infusions: The smokey notes have disappeared now but there are still plenty of sweetness and savory woodsyness left. I think I could get a few more infusions, but I’m done for the day!

COMMENTS: Why is Mandala Phatty Cake called phatty cake? I’m guessing since it’s a chubby-shaped cake? To me, it’s all the munchies this tea took me through, without having to eat them!

My favorite infusions were the middle and last ones, though the first 3 infusions really slammed me with great boldness!

I gotta say, though I’m new to pu’er cakes, this  Mandala Phatty Cake sample was a great experience. I love the transition of the flavor and the raisin sweetness was very appealing to me. $15 for a little cake is inexpensive step into the world of ripe pu’er! For a future Mandala Tea order, I could see the entire Phatty Cake sneaking into my cart!

Now if you excuse me, me and the owls are gonna crash.

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Oolong Owl’s First Tuocha

I had met some other tea lovers in person from Steepster the other weekend and we had a tea swap. One had brought a baggie filled with pu’er tuochas. I was happy to take some off her hands!

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The problem? We weren’t sure what tuocha was what, since there was very little English on the packaging. She did inform me there was some sheng/raw pu’er in there, but not sure which ones. I’m not experienced enough to tell any of the little cakes by smell, if that is even possible to do.

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To my surprise, Tuochas are smaller than I thought they would be – the size of a Canadian Loonie.

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Sooo cute! I love mystery bags, so I grabbed one tuocha at random to try!

Unwrapping the little tea was like opening candy!

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Hmmm, this tuocha is green. I think I scored a sheng!

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Quick! To the gaiwan!

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I did a rinse, which didn’t do much to the tuocha.

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Oh well, let’s steep! It was really neat to see the tea turn from a smooth lump to develop texture.

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After the first official steeping, the tuocha.. well, it looks like a donut to me.

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From the tuocha, I got a nice golden cup of tea that tasted buttery and smokey, or in a more fun description – if I tossed a stick of butter on the grill and ate it.. if it didn’t melt.

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Second steeping the tuocha began to flake off the.. donut.

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Further steepings, the donut dissolved more and more, losing structure…

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.. and became a seaweedy lump.

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Around 5 or 6 steepings, the tuocha finally lost all its form.

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The flavor of this tuocha went from grilled butter, to grassy green smoke, to bloom a strong floral flavor and then finally astringent. Very tasty!

I quite enjoyed this little tuocha. I also got a large number of steepings, but unfortunately I didn’t keep track. I had company come over and I was refilling the gaiwan and sipping while I was chatting.

The tuocha was dirt easy to deal use – even less work than using a teabag and much better flavor! I keep some good quality teabags in my purse – I think I will smuggle a few tuochas too and try them out on the go. LOL, I’m already snooty for when I’m out, I ask for hot water and provide my own tea. I’m picturing the next time I’m stuck at Denny’s for breakfast and I toss in a tuocha in my hot water! Muuuuahahahahahaaaaa!

BONUS PIC!

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