Gyokuro Standard (Kurihara Tea) via Yunomi.us – Tea Review

Gyokuro Standard is a 2012 Ichibancha first flush Gyokuro from Kurihara Tea, which I recieved from Yunomi.us.

Ahhh Gyokuro. I need more of this tea in my life. I want to experiment more with steeping times, but this tea is on the pricey side as well as having a short shelf life. I’m in conflict as they seem like a tea I should save for special occasions  but gyokuro feels so full of energy that I need to have them often!

Yunomi.us pointed out to me I need to try gyokuro at a lower temperature – which is what I’ll be doing today with my sample!

Introducing: Barn Owl! Ugg, I’m bad at naming my crocheted owls. Barney?

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DRY LEAF: The gyokuro smells faintly sweet and vegetal. I’m trying to think of a similar smell. Maybe sweet cut grass? Nope, gyokuro is sweeter and doesn’t trigger my allergies!

Look it all the green! It is so bright!

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Barney is excited to try this tea out!

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STEEPED:  I followed Yunomi.us Gyokuro Steeping Technique, which was 40-50C / 100-120F for 2 minutes. My kettle doesn’t go that low, so I had to let the water sit until it cooled to that temperature.

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In the meantime, I heated up my teaware with hot water. Barney supervised.

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While I waited for my hot water to drop in temperature, I drank some oolong! Yeah. You know your love for tea is bad when you are drinking tea while making another tea.

Once steeped at a low temperature my gyokuro was a very gorgeous bright yellow green colour of tea! WOW! It looks like it is glowing! It has a melty buttery vegetal scent.

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Zoomed in, one little leaf piece escaped into my cup!

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FIRST STEEP: Ohh! The gyokuro is like syrup – its got a sensation of thick texture from the water temperature. It’s very buttery and kinda creamy with loads of spinachy fresh flavor. The savoryness is very delicious and comforting! Lovely vegetal sweetness too. End of sip the flavor goes into a high note of more veg taste with a slight echo of astringency. Like 1/10 on the astringency-o-meter – very lovely! Even with the tea being a lower temperature than what I usually drink at, the syrupyness had me sipping slowly to enjoy it! I feel very much like I’m floating on a cloud!

I love how this gyokuro came out with this lower temperature steeping method. I generally do not like astrigency, but this was actually enjoyable!

SECOND STEEP: Still following the Yunomi.us Gyokuro Steeping Technique I went with 80c/175F for 25 seconds. I was worried this was going to be ultra astringent – it wasn’t! The butteryness went into overdrive in this tea round, with the vegetal flavor becoming a little sweeter. The astringency  or from what I’m reading on yunomi.us site, shibumi, is present! It peaks right at the end of sip – as if the sun was beaming right on me or a singer hitting a high note. No syrupy texture though.

THIRD STEEP: Again, one loose leaf made it into my cup!

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I went a little higher in temperature, 185F for 30 seconds. The gyokuro has gotten sweeter and the shibumi perked up more, say 4/10 on the shibumi meter. However, the astringency hits a little different – it leaves a sensation on the teeth – really reminds me of munching on steamed spinach. Oh man, is this cup of tea a serving of veggies? Heheh!

FOURTH STEEP: For this steeping I did 185F for 35 seconds. The shibumi has softened closely to the first steeping. The flavor has greatly reduced and is just lightly buttery and vegetal. I think this gyokuro is done.

TEA LEAF SALAD: Well, its says on Yunomi.us Gyokuro Steeping Technique I can eat the leaves after the 3rd or 4th steeping, why not? It’s lunch time.

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I sprinkled some low sodium soy sauce and sesame seeds.

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Mmm, pretty good! The leaves have a teeny bit of astringency, but still savory. The flavor light and is a cross between spinach and seaweed. The gyokuro leaves are quite firm, so more chewy than spinach, but not as chewy as seaweed.

I’m happy to of eaten the leaves – sorry compost pile, no fancy green tea for you!

COLD STEEPED: While I was making a huge mess with my hot gyokuro, I began cold steeping the remainder of my sample.

As I added the water to the tea leaves, the bright green gyokuro created a leaf storm of colour!

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Gyokuro Standard Kurihara Tea via Yunomi us - Oolong Owl Tea Review (7)

I let it steep in the fridge for a couple hours. As usual, Gyokuro is delicious cold steeped! This Gyokuro Standard – Kurihara Tea is quite buttery and creamy with a light sweet vegetal taste. End of sip is very refreshing, cutting through the creamy buttery flavor.

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I love the gradient of green here – it’s like a vibrant green forest in the morning fog!

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COMMENTS: The first Gyokuro I tried was Den’s Tea Gyokuro Kin. I find this Gyokuro Standard – Kurihara Tea has a stronger buttery and balanced flavor, which appeals to me more. With 2013 teas coming out, I’m going to put some more of this Gyokuro on my wish list. Yunomi.us also has 3 other Gyokuros from Kurihara listed that sound amazing as well – I only sampled the cheapest one!

I gotta say the Yunomi.us Gyokuro Steeping Technique is really good. I recommend you tea peeps to try this method of steeping gyokuro! I felt I got a lot more out of my tea compared to what I did with my sample of Den’s Tea Gyokuro Kin! I got more steepings and much less astringency, and what astringency I did get I actually enjoyed!

BONUS PICTURE:

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I am really messy with gyokuro! I’m also one of those artist types that manages to get paint all over myself, so me making a mess with tea is to be expected.

Peach Picnic from The Persimmon Tree – Tea Review

Peach Picnic is a caffeine free, fruity and citrus green rooibos blend from The Persimmon Tree.

I admit, I’m not big on rooibos, but I always am up to trying some as I need more caffeine free teas in my tea rotation. You know, so I can drink more tea at all hours! However recently I’ve been noticing green rooibos is pretty good. Unfortunately, green rooibos blends seem not as common, most likely because it is more expensive to produce. BOOO!

The Persimmon Tree does some really great teas so I am happy to give this one a try!

I invited Speedster to join in this tea tasting. Speedster really loves fruit!

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DRY LEAF: Peach Picnic smells like peach orange punch! Sweet and candy like! Yum!

Peach Picnic from The Persimmon Tree - Oolong Owl Tea Review (2)I seriously did not run this photo through a filter, however it does look like something off instagram!

Peach Picnic is a confetti of green rooibos sticks, marigold ribbons and chunks of orange!

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STEEPED: Lovely light amber, almost peachy coloured, tea! The tea mostly smells of sweet citrus. Using a gravity steeper, I followed the steeping instructions on the tea tin, which was 200F for 4 minutes.

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TASTE: Very summery tea! The dominate flavor for me is the sweet orange. Kinda reminds me of a cutie orange, with a little orange peel thrown in. The mid and end of sip I get an echo of peach. I get a teeny bit of strawberry flavor, mostly in the grassy stemmy part. The green rooibos can be tasted throughout, adding a little grassy taste. Quite a sweet tea blend, despite not adding sugar.

Peach Picnic from The Persimmon Tree - Oolong Owl Tea Review (4)Tiny turtle tea sips!

I then added a little german rock sugar, and found Peach Picnic a little too sweet for me. The extra sweetness pulled the fruity flavors together, melding the strawberry, orange and peach into candy. Reminded me of one of those orange peach juice blends, but lighter and with a grassy note. With that said, I should really try this tea iced…

ICED: Peach Picnic iced is really good! Refreshing, more peachy with some sweet orange and grassy strawberry! The green rooibos adds a delicious grassy crispness to this blend! I added only a teeny bit of rock sugar while I was steeping this tea – but the cold temperature really brought out the fruityness, specifically the peach, more into the open.

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COMMENTS: Peach Picnic would be the perfect iced tea on a hot summer day! This tea would really hit the spot on you tea peeps who want a caffeine free and sweet (but no sugar added) tea! I’m personally going to enjoy Peach Picnic after my evening workout, however due to this tea’s name, maybe at a picnic. I can see kids really liking this tea too!

With Summer on its way (well, for me at least, California is already getting hot!) I’d give this refreshing, sweet and caffeine free Peach Picnic tea a try! This tea has a great price of $5.99 for 2 oz, but also as with The Persimmon Tree sample sizes, you can try it out for $1.25.

Pineberry Honeybush from 52 Teas – Tea Review

Pineberry Honeybush is a caffeine free blend featuring freeze dried pineapple, strawberry and marshmallow root. This tea is from 52 Teas, tea of the week for April 8th, 2013.

What the bleep is a pineberry? Lemmie wikipedia it for you.

800px-Pineberries

Pineberries are smaller than strawberries, but have a taste of both pineapple and strawberry. Funky! I was hoping to find some for when I reviewed this tea, but no luck. I don’t think I’ve ever seen these fruits in person, and I’ve see some weird ones like kiwi berry/grape things. I knew what a pineberry was when this tea popped up as Tea of the week at 52 Teas and was interested. I was more entranced when I found out Frank added some marshmallow root! YEAH! This tea sounds wild, sign this Tea Owl up!

My owl assistant for today is my silly Snowy Owl.

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DRY LEAF: Pineberry Honeybush as a very interesting smell. It’s very mixed fruity and fluffly sugar sweet. The smells reminds me of tropical bubble gum, fruity marshmallows and flintstone vitamins.

Appearance? Lots of honeybush sticks with big rooty marshmallow root, along with lumps of fruit covered in the honeybush.

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STEEPED: Pineberry Honeybush steeped is completely different of a smell! It’s like a creamy pineapple, reminding me of pina colada.

I steeped this tea at 200F for 5 minutes. The tea is a dark brown colour, similar to a black tea.

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TASTE: Innnnnteresting…. Pineberry Honeybush tastes like bubblegum to me. The blend is slightly sweet on its own. The main fruit is pineapple – that delicious freeze dried natural pineapple taste (man, freeze dried fruit is great in tea) with a soft hum of strawberry. The marshmallow comes out strong and fluffy. The marshmallow softens the pineapple and melds into a bubblegum flavor to me. The honeybush adds a level of earthy twiggy flavor and some wateryness that I’ve also associated with honeybush blends. The earthyness works as it grooves with the pineapple, like accidentally eating a bit of the skin. No tart or bitterness in this tea.

Sweetened with some german rock sugar, the strawberry pops more. This tea tastes even more like bubblegum to me. If not bubblegum, those flavored mini marshmallows – just the pink ones! Wait a minute.. this is like ambrosia salad without the coconut (and piles of whipped cream)! Hmmm, do I dare make this as a latte? No, I think that be TOO weird.

ICED: I prepared Pineberry Honeybush iced, poured the strong hot tea over ice, a frozen strawberry, fresh lemon slice and honey. The pineapple (with the fresh lemon) perks up, bringing some tang back into the tea, with the marshmallow hitting mid-sip. Fresh strawberry flavor end of sip. I like Pineberry Honeybush much better iced as the fruity pops out more and the bubblegum echo is less. This iced tea just tastes like a cup of candy to me! As the tea gets colder and colder, it reminds me of a popsicle that comes in plastic sausage tubes.

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COMMENTS: Pineberry Honeybush, you are a weird tea! An unusual fruit + Marshmallow = a fun tea experience reminding me of fun flavors of my childhood! This tea somewhat reminds me of DAVIDsTea’s Swampwater for a fun fruit flavor, however I don’t have any to comparison taste.

Overall, Pineberry Honeybush I can see being a big hit with kids! I’m not sure who else I’d recommend  Pineberry Honeybush to…  tea peeps who are young at heart with a sense of adventure and love for candy? Regardless, this tea is limited stock at 52 Teas – buy it soon, or wishlist it in hopes it gets reblended!

BLOOPER PIC:

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Laoshan Black Chocolate Genmaicha from Verdant Tea – Tea Review

Laoshan Black Chocolate Genmaicha is a genmaicha blend from Verdant Tea.

This blend features Verdant’s Laoshan Black, a little Shui Jin Gui Wuyi Oolong, hand crafted wild rice from Minnesota, and organic fair trade toasted jasmine rice. Oh, and organic cacao nibs.

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I really wanted to try Laoshan Black and this blend, but I was on a budget. So I opted to get an 1 oz of this blend, as I tend to drink more blends than straight unflavored teas.

DRY LEAF: The tea smells like dark chocolate! Good dark chocolate, kinda like Lindt’s Dark Chocolate – Ohh yum, I love that chocolate!

I found the rice and chocolate nibs settled to the bottom of my bag, so I gave it a good stir to make sure I get a good mix of tasty tea bits. As always, lovely dry leaf appearance – mix of dark black tea leaves, giant dark green oolong leaves, chocolate lumps and a toasted rice.

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Get a load of this giant leaf I found in my tea!

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STEEPED: I brewed this tea as per the brewing instructions listed at Verdant Tea, so 200F for 3 minutes.

Uh oh, steeping up a Verdant Tea attracted that green owl again!

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Gah, he brought reinforcements! A little teal owl!

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I love the colour of the steeped Laoshan Black Chocolate Genmaicha – a dusty, woodsy, dark brown. The Owls approve!

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Actually, the colour of my tea reminds me of something. Hold on….

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Yep, I colour matched my cup of Laoshan Black Chocolate Genmaicha with my tube of Burnt Umber watercolour paint. Perfect match! (>_>) yeah, kinda random.

Lovely smell! Reminds me of a mix of burnt dark chocolate of a s’more and roasted rice cakes! OOH YEA MUST DRINK NOW!

TASTE: Super roasty! Laoshan Black Chocolate Genmaicha has an amazing flavor of a coffee like roasty taste, mixed with chocolate, dark caramel, nutty, and with a malty hum. The aftertaste is a lovely dark chocolate that lingers. I cleared my throat and more chocolate taste came up. All those flavors go together so amazingly and make me feel warm and snuggly! Absolutely no bitterness or astringency.  This is luxury in my cup!  Annnnd, I drank it all in record time! Reflecting, I think I could steep this a little longer, I’d like a stronger taste out of this. Resteep time!

RESTEEP: I did a 4 minute resteep with 200F water. The Laoshan Black Chocolate Genmaicha came out lighter, but with some sweetness this time. This resteep isn’t malty or nutty, but still dripping dark chocolate, roasty and with a soft toffee like sweetness. YUM!

RESTEEP #2: I had to try another resteep. Tea this good, you need to figure out how to get the most out of it without going broke. I did a 6 minute resteep. This tea is much much lighter, with a gentle wave of dark chocolate. The tea is still sweet, honey like, with a faint aftertaste of toasted rice. I think I could squeeze another desperate resteep, but it wouldn’t be that great. Oh well.

COMMENTS:

/DROOOOOL

Laoshan Black Chocolate Genmaicha is good! Really really good! I-refuse-to-share-it Good! I love how there is lots going on in this tea, something you just don’t get in a regular green genmaicha! The blend is very warm and comforting, I wanna snuggle up with a cup of this – all I need is a nice large cookie to go with it!

I found Laoshan Black Chocolate Genmaicha perfect as is without sweetener. I didn’t want to try this with sweetener as I found the resteeps were sweet enough for me.

If you are a dark chocolate or rich roasty tea fan – this tea is for you!

BONUS PIC:

Laoshan Black Chocolate Genmaicha from Verdant Tea - Oolong Owl Tea Review (7)Owls bonding with tea

T Free Hourglass Travel Tea Tumbler – Tea ware review

I purchased this really cool looking travel tea tumbler, T Free Hourglass from ZenTeaLife.com. Zen Teas is an online tea seller based in the Vancouver, BC Canada area! (I’m a sucker for Vancouver tea sellers – since it’s my home town!).

When I saw this tea tumbler on Zen Tea’s website I was IN LOVE! It’s slim, sexy, unique, and functional.

Anyways, Zen Tea had a sale, and I jumped on it ordering the tumbler. I had a hard time deciding which colour to get – I loved all three and thought they all looked good, but I went with the green one in the end.

Edit: turns out you can also get this tea tumbler on amazon.com!

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How does this tumbler work?

Here’s the video from Zen Tea’s site

Out of the package, the tumbler is very solid and feels durable. The caps screw on tightly with ease and the filter naturally fits in without jiggling around. FYI, the filter works on both ends.

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T Free hourglass travel tea tumbler - from Zen Tea Life - Oolong Owl review (3)No doubt. It would be a very tragic tea accident if one didn’t completely close both lids!

The instructions were pretty standard, but also had one surprising warning- No boiling water. With that said, for hot tea you’ll be using mostly whites and greens. Looking more into the instructions, the body is for 230F, so yeah, I can see super heated water could mess with the tumbler.

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So, let’s give this tumbler a test run!

I decided to use a white (Steep City’s Ginger Zinger) for this experiment.

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I loaded my tea, 2 generous teaspoons into the filter. I’m a little worried there isn’t much room here, but we’ll see.

After that, I flipped the tumbler over introduced 175F water. The T Free holds 16oz right under the screw part on the lid. I opted a bit less for  12oz of tea.

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Steep! Do a dance! Take pictures of your tea tumbler. Obsessively check twitter for tea sales.

After my 2 minutes, I flipped the tumbler over to the filter side and unscrewed the cap.

I noticed the tumbler was warm to the touch – not burning fingers warm, but pleasantly warm. The non-slip silicone handle part isn’t as hot as the body. Though, this is with 175F tea – dancing around 200F might be another story.

Inside, my steeped tea looked happy to have that steeping, with some room to spare. Phew! Though I imagine doing the whole 16 oz tea’s worth with a full leaf tea would be pretty tight! However, I do wish this filter was a little bigger and longer for more tea leaf room.

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Though, annoyingly the filter was HOT! I’m not super sensitive to hot, but I was able to pick out the filter and remove it, but I needed to do it quickly. I used the top cap to rest the filter on.

The filter does a perfect job, though some leaf could be stuck to the edges of the rim and the cap if you use a 16oz worth of tea.

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The result? Good tea. Best part? NO LEAKS! I was a little scared of leaks since there’s two ends to this tumbler plus the multiple warnings of “Make sure caps are screwed tight!”

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So I did another test run – this time with a pu’erh blend at 200F. Doing a wash was very easy. Just pour a bit of water, swirl, and pour out. I steeped for just over a minute. Removing the filter was very hot! The tumbler is much hotter to hold, I’d want to put it down after a minute or so. Though, I left the cap off to cool and after around 7 minutes it was fine to hold.

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With that said, I don’t think I’d steep a 200F tea in this tumbler again – too hot for me. 175F turned out much better!

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This T Free Hourglass Travel Tea Tumbler really shines for iced and cold steeped teas. I found it super easy and easier to control.

COLD STEEP = Put tea in filter. Screw on top. Flip over, fill with water. Refrigerate. Done. It is easy to check the strength of the tea, and if is done, just remove the filter with the tea leaves in it. BAM!

Using this tea tumbler is now my favorite way to make cold steeps! I usually use a tea tumbler that has mesh on the top, or a jar and I have to strain out the leaves. With this T Free tumbler, I can take out the tea leaves whenever I want, and drink the cold steep the next day without it being over steeped.

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ICED

1. Add tea. Screw on cap. (Steep City Tea’s Blushing Geisha pictured here)

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2. Flip over, add sugar (if desired)

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3. Add hot water to cover the filter.

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4. Steep away!

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5. Remove tea leaves

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6. Fill the tumbler with ice and extras (such as lemon, more sweetener)

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DONE! Drink all the tea!

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In the end, I love my T Free Hourglass! It’s a very functional and easy to use travel tumbler! It is excellent with 200F or less teas, cold steeped and iced teas!

T Free Hourglass cons is it can be hot to the touch, the filter is on the small end, and is not recommended to use with boiling water. Snag on at ZenTeaLife (Canadian seller) or on Amazon.com!

King of Fruits from Lupicia – Tea Review

King of Fruits is a green tea durian fruit blend from Lupicia, a lovely online japanese tea seller.

DURIAN!! O_O You know, this evil fruit:

green-durian
Durian smells funky. Like sweaty onions’ gym socks. Onions wear gym socks?

I’ve had durian a handful of times, but mostly in bubble/boba tea. I could probably convince my husband to buy one, but he doesn’t have a great sense of smell so he’ll be fine – but the durian smell will probably drive the rest of my house crazy. The taste is quite exotic and kind of an acquired taste.

When I saw Lupicia had this tea, it was on my MUST TRY IT NO MATTER WHAT list as it’s simply too cool sounding of a tea to pass up.

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DRY LEAF: King of Fruits is a earthy dark green leaf that is tightly rolled, accented with yellow ribbons.

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Very fragrant tea! There is a sweet durian smell.. without the strong funk making fresh durian banned in airports.

STEEPED:  I steeped this tea as per instructions: 45 seconds with boiling water.

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Strong fruity smell with a coppery gold coloured tea.

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TASTE: They weren’t joking around with the durian flavoring! Strong fruity durian flavor up front, which is a naturally slightly sweet and custardy. The green tea base is savory vegetal, mellow green tea that adds depth. The vegetal is kind of oniony and The durian really plays well with the savory green base. The after taste is dripping with MOAR durian, sharp and very slight dryness. a 4/10 on the Dry-o-meter! King of Fruits is full flavored, in your face! Longer the steep, more the dryness comes out, so stick to shorter steeps. I like this tea better at like 190F.

I find King of Fruits is a really good travel tea – it holds up well in a tumbler and resteeps a couple times decently. The flavoring is strong, so it keeps well. It is also a great conversation piece when people ask you what you are drinking, as well as “What is that smell??”

COLD STEEPED: I kinda forgot I had this in a cold steeped, so it brewed for 24 hours in the fridge. The taste? DURIAN! Lots of slabs of durian flavor with a bit of a green bitter taste (probably from being too long in the fridge). The durian is much sweeter here and the tea is less savory. Very tasty!  If you don’t like the “funkyness” of durian, try King of Fruits cold steeped.

TIP: The flavoring of this tea is strong, as well as durian being a stubborn fruit, so the taste/smell of durian will linger in your tea ware! Be sure to do a baking soda scrub your tea ware to eliminate smells, unless you want your next tea to have durian in it.

COMMENTS: Looking for a really exotic, unusual, yet fruit tea? King of Fruits is for you! This tea is an adventure and is worth trying! I like this tea for it uniqueness and full flavored taste! It makes a really great cold steep too!

My main complaint with this tea is that is comes only in 2 oz/ 50g size and it is on the pricey side for Lupicia. If they sold it in 1 oz sample sizes I think more curious people would be more likely to try it.

Every time I do a tea swap, I want to include this tea however I cannot as it will contaminate every tea in the package! I think I’d need to put it in a tin or vacuum seal it. My bag of this tea is clipped shut as well as having its own tin and still cannot be packaged with other teas as the tin smells like durian.

Organic Japanese Puerh from Butiki Teas – Tea Review

Organic Japanese Puerh is a unique offering from Butiki Teas. I’ve never heard of a japanese puerh, so I had to add this tea to my cart with my last Butiki order.

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DRY LEAF: The tight, chippy looking black leaf smells a little like cocoa and tobacco.

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STEEPED (Gaiwan): Lovely reddy peach amber colour!

Organic Japanese Puerh from Butiki Teas - Oolong Owl Tea Review (3)

First infusion: I did a 5 second steeping with boiling water using a gaiwan. The flavor has a light, crisp and clean coffee note. There’s some other flavors going on too that remind me of roasted chestnuts and barley teas. End of sip is a light sweetness – kind of like sweet brown rice syrup.

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Second infusion: 10 seconds. The roasty, barley, nutty and brown rice notes intensify into a malty flavor. This infusion is slightly dry that leaves a bit of butteryness on my lips! Very neat! 1/10 on the Dry-o-meter.

Third and fourth  infusion: 20 /30 seconds. Best steeping! It’s light, but has a really good meld of the chestnut, roasty, barley, rice sweeteness. Sweet throughout the whole sip! The coffee flavor is an aftertaste along with the butteryness. The dryness did not change. I feel some kinda salty snack would really compliment this tea.

Lovely colour here! That pretty peachy puerh colour I love, but more on the pink side!

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Fifth and sixth infusion: 40 seconds/50 seconds.  Even better of a steeping! All the flavored have fully meshed into a juicy, brown rice and chestnutty! The dryness has disappeared!

I busted out the roasted, salted seaweed to snack while having this tea – matches perfectly!

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Seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh infusion: the colour of the tea is changing to a vibrant orange reminding me of marigold and sunflowers – and when you get to the bottom of the cup, the tea turns that pinky peach. The flavor is getting lighter but also sweeter.  As it gets lighter, it gets a soft brown rice and chestnut. The 9th infusion is starting to get a  mineral taste going on, which kept going on for the later infusions.

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Twelfth and thirteenth infusion: I’m not sure how this tea is still going, but it is. The colour is the same peachy rose. I think the Japanese Puerh has won! It’s still going and I’m done for the day! I started this tea at like 11am, and it’s 5pm now!

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WESTERN STYLE STEEPING: I was kinda scared to try this – I dislike loose puerh after 1 minute steepings as they are just too strong for me. I followed the package directions for steeping this Japanese Puerh – boiling water for 4 minutes. The colour is a woodsy brown.

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Taste? It’s an interesting balance of light, yet rich and robust of a tea. Steeped this way, its much more coffee like in flavor and much more roasty brown rice, and of course, a bit stronger than the short steepings. Have you ever had rice that was toasted to the bottom of the pan, kinda like this scorched rice recipe from Maanchi? This tea is like this, with a very comfort food feel. The dryness is here again with a little sweetness at the end.

Resteep #1 (boiling, 5 minutes) reminded me of the 3rd and 4th gaiwan steepings. So good! The dryness is gone!

Resteep # 2 (boiling, 6 minutes) reminds me of around the 6th infusion – the colour has gone back to that reddy peach instead of the woodsy brown.

Resteep # 3 (boiling 7 minutes) total trend going on as this steeping is similar to the 12 and 13th of the gaiwan steeped.

Overall, the longer steep is much richer and coffee like than short gongfu steepings.

COMMENTS: Butiki Teas‘ Organic Japanese Puerh is a very different kind of puerh. No fishyness and lighter than other puerhs. This is also not your thick, black puerh – it has a great coffee, chestnut, and roasty rice taste. I’d could see myself purchasing this again, but for now I will likely squirrel the rest of my Organic Japanese Puerh and drink it for a special days.

Organic Japanese Puerh from Butiki Teas - Oolong Owl Tea Review (9)

Though, I gotta say this is on the pricey side for Butiki Teas as you only get 5 servings. The resteep ability is huge, so you do get quite a bit of tea in the long run.

Ankara Apple from Bluebird Tea Co – tea review

Ankara Apple is a fruity spiced green tea from Bluebird Tea Co, an online tea seller from the UK.

Ankara Apple from Bluebird Tea Co - Oolong Owl tea review (1)Bluebird Tea Co tea attracted a wild amigurumi bird/penguin.. thing!

I saw Kitty Loves Tea review some teas from Bluebird Tea Co and I was all like “Man, I want to try these guys! They got really cool teas!” But, at the time they weren’t doing international shipping. After a number of us on Steepster saying “Hey, we want your teas!”, Bluebird Tea Co opened up international shipping. I ordered that same day (maybe within a few hours?) and snagged this Ankara Apple tea and another. This is the first time I’ve ordered a tea from the UK too!

Ankara Apple called out to me as I’ve had turkish apple tea before and it was SOOOO FREAKING GOOD! Let’s give this tea a try!

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DRY LEAF: Smells like delicious apples and an interesting mix of spices. Kind of reminds me of an apple pie smells off the thanksgiving table – the apple smell with the strong spices of sage from the stuffing and cloves from the ham. MMmm, so good!

The dry leaf is beautiful green tea leaves, mixed with big lumps of apple, earthy spice lumps and a sprinkling of red pomegranate flowers!

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STEEPED: I followed the steeping instructions on the package – 3 minute steep with 80 C / 175F water. (pssst Bluebird Tea co’s steeping instructions!) Smells like spiced apple cider!

Ankara Apple from Bluebird Tea Co - Oolong Owl tea review (5)Hey, my gravity steeper is for tea, not bird butt warming!

Lovely gold cup of tea!

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What does bluebird/penguin amigurumi think of this tea?

Ankara Apple from Bluebird Tea Co - Oolong Owl tea review (8)Smells yummy!

TASTE: Ankara Apple has this snuggly apple cider love going on, but not as sweet. Lots of spice – the sage is dominate, with the cinnamon and cloves waving in the background. The green tea is on the savory side which works very well with the spices. Ankara Apple finishes off with a sweet juicy natural apple flavor.  No bitterness or tart in this blend.

How about some sweetener? I added some german rock sugar which made the apple pop! This tea now moves closer to an hot apple cider – very good!

COMMENTS: Ankara Apple is a spice lovers dream – lots of interest going on with the clove, sage and cinnamon with juicy apple in the mix. I prefer this tea with sugar to make the apple pop. I love the addition of sage in this tea – it really sets it apart from other apple spice teas!

This tea would be a killer one to serve to a group in a glass tea pot with some lovely slices of fresh apple and cinnamon sticks.

BONUS PIC:

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Oolong Owl’s First Gaiwan

I finally got a Gaiwan! WOOOOOT!

A bit of history – I prefer gravity steepers. Once I got mine from DavidsTea, I was hooked. I later on got Adagio Tea’s IngenuiTEA (which I dislike due to its narrow size). I wanted to try a more traditional way of steeping tea to see the difference, but also experiment.

I shopped all over ebay and online tea shops. My in-laws are going on a cruise in China later this year and I didn’t want to wait that long for a gaiwan.

My Gaiwan came from Yunnan Sourcing’s US shop – I was attracted to the light blue pattern, whereas I’m used to seeing white, glass and darker blue toned patterns. I figure I’d go with a cheaper gaiwan for now to see if I like it, and go from there.

Oolong Owls First Gaiwan (1)

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I also bought a Cha Hai with my gaiwan. Pretty!

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Anyways, Calla’s Musings has a great post on how to use a Gaiwan, so I tried out my with using cool water. Seemed to go okay. No explosions or anything.

Time to ROCK! Errr, STEEP!

My scale is broken, so I had a hard time figuring out what 4 grams of tea was, so I just added lots. Yeah!

I selected a silver needle white tea, which has a lower temperature of 175F, and followed the gong fu steeping instructions.

Oolong Owls First Gaiwan (5)You can see a mess of tea leaves on the counter. oops!

So, I managed to burn my fingers for the first 3 runs and spill lots. Finally, on the 4th run I didn’t burn my fingers – yay! I discovered I was being weird with angling the gaiwan towards me, instead of vertical, so the hot water was getting too close to my fingers. I always wasn’t holding the edges of the cup, thus my fingers touching the hotter part of the cup.

I switched to my cha hai with a makeshift strainer as I was getting a little debris from my full leaf tea. I could probably drink it and not give a damn too.

Oolong Owls First Gaiwan (6)

Oolong Owls First Gaiwan (4)(I’m going to get another strainer soon – it’s on the list!)

After a few more gaiwan sessions, I only used a strainer if the tea was smaller in leaf or had excess debris. Though, if I had company, I’d probably bust out a strainer.

This is how crazy of a tea drinker I can be when I don’t have to review a tea. I steeped, poured into my cup. Steeped the next round and added it to my Cha Hai. Drank all my cup, poured the tea from my Cha Hai. Repeat. I did all 6 infusions just standing in the kitchen and it lasted like 15 minutes. I can really guzzle down tea!

Was it easy? Pretty easy. It’s not completely brainlessly easy like a gravity steeper, but was easy to figure out. Taste wise, I find the gaiwan retained heat well. I also figured there is little contamination between teas – no filter inside the gaiwan or plastic parts that transferred to my tea.

I gotta say a Gaiwan is MUCH easier to clean than a gravity steeper. Just clean like a tea cup! Gravity steeper I have to disassemble and soak in baking soda to do a thorough cleaning.

Anyways, I went out and got a glass gaiwan and tried it out.

Oolong Owls first gaiwans

I found the glass gaiwan worked just as good, however was much hotter to deal with. A 175F tea heated up the glass gaiwan similar to  a boiling water one in my blue gaiwan. However, the glass one looks really nice watching the leaves!

Overall, I found the gaiwan easy to use. The learning curve was pretty small. Actually, I showed my husband, who’s not a tea drinker, once how to pour a gaiwan, and he did it perfect after the first try – faster than me! Though, he said it might be easier for him since he’s got bigger hands.

How not to use a Gaiwan:

Oolong Owls First Gaiwan (7)Owl?

Matcha Chocolate Recipe

Matcha Chocolates Recipe by Oolong Owl

I really wanted to try other uses with my matcha, since I have quite a bit of it. I found making chocolates was super super easy to do! I used flavored matcha which added extra flavor to the chocolates!

What you need:

White chocolate

Matcha

Ratio: 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of Matcha to 50 grams of white chocolate

Tools: double boiler or microwave to melt chocolate. Silicone mold. Tea strainer to sift matcha.

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I used a white chocolate, or whatever this stuff is:

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I’d test with chocolate chips if they will melt – some don’t melt!

Here are the matchas I will be using for my chocolates: Strawberry, Tiramisu and Pistachio flavored Matcha!

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All three matchas are from Red Leaf Teas – they have a HUGE selection of flavored matchas and you can set how strong the flavoring is and quality of matchas!

I will be putting my chocolates into these silicone muffin cups I got from a dollar store! I think a silicone ice cube tray would work too (I have one, but it’s in the shape of bullets lol!)

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Lets make some matcha chocolates!

Step 1. Melt the chocolate as per microwave instructions, or put the chocolate into a double boiler set up (hot water, with a metal mixing bowl ontop).

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Step 2. Sift matcha into the white chocolate. This is an important step to make sure you don’t get any matcha lumps.

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Step 3. Stir in the matcha. OOhhhhh yeah!

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Give your chocolate a taste to check if there is enough matcha in it. Adjust accordingly.

Step 4. Put chocolate into silicone mold

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Step 5. Pick up and drop the cup a dozen or so times to remove the air bubbles. It was hard to photo this, but if you’ve ever seen how they make macaroons, they do the same thing of dropping the pan against the counter to get rid of the air bubbles.

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Step 6. Chill until set! Mine took less than an hour.

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Step 7. Meanwhile, lick the bowl while you wait for the chocolates to be done. Mmmm… pistachio!

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Step 8. Once the chocolates are firm, peel chocolate from the mold. OMG YUM!

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For the chocolate shown above, I added both matcha chocolate and plain white chocolate and swirled them with a toothpick for a marbled effect. I used the tiramisu matcha for this one!

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Sakura Blossom Chocolate? Why not? Let’s celebrate spring with MORE CHOCOLATE!

I used a salt-pickled sakura blossom tea (Read my review of it here!) which I got from Yunomi.us

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I soaked the blossom for 5 minutes to remove the salt.

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I then put the sakura blossom into the silicone mold and pat it dry a bit with some paper towel.

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I poured on some plain white chocolate

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And finally topped it off with a layer of matcha chocolate made with Strawberry matcha!

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Gorgeous!

Matcha Chocolate recipe by Oolong Owl (1)

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My matcha chocolates came out very rich, loads of earthy matcha flavor with no bitterness!  I ate one chocolate and it got my tummy angry – these chocolates are best to nibble on a bit! Out of the three kind of matcha chocolates I made, I like the tiramisu the best!

The Tiramisu matcha chocolate was super creamy, milk chocolately and with a hint of coffee! Very delicious!

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My next favorite was the Sakura Blossom chocolate. The balance was good between the white chocolate, strawberry matcha and floral. The sakura blossom had a strong, floral, salty and cherry flavor, but was mellowed out by the chocolate – with the salt flavor adding an extra level of yum! I think this would of been better with a cherry matcha, though the strawberry matcha chocolate on its own was pretty tasty too!

The pistachio matcha was pretty good – the flavoring came out very well! I think next time I will marble that with plain chocolate and some of the tiramisu. YUMMMM!

Other ideas for matcha chocolates I was thinking about is to put a steeped tea leaf in the mold and pour the chocolate over it. I’d also like to try doing a pattern with the white chocolate and pour the matcha chocolate on top. I am also tempted to make a smore!