White 2 Tea’s ChocoBrick Black Tea which is a blend of Yunnan large leaf varietal black tea is not only a real treat for tea-thirsty mouths but also a sight for sore eyes. First of all, the square shape of the tea is fantastic. It’s compressed like a chocolate bar which is comprised of nine little square tea pieces. Each piece is used for one session and quite easy to break. The design of the packaging is fantastic as well including a cardboard box.
As I mentioned earlier, the dry leaves are compressed into little square pieces. They are composed of the black leaves and brown buds. The smell, as you guess, is quite chocolaty.
I brewed it Gongfu style using one of the little square pieces. It cupped out orangish red liquor with great clarity. It’s quite sweet with a tad astringency in the background. But nothing that bothers you (You should be careful about the timing of each infusion though, if you over-steep it you’ll get a quite bitter brew). It is definitely one of the sweetest black teas I’ve drunk so far. As its name suggests the sweetness is certainly reminiscent of chocolate. The mouthfeel is quite thick and slightly velvety. On the other hand, the aftertaste is quite short and not persistent, leaving a loose feeling of sweetness in the mouth.
Overall, White 2 Tea ChocoBrick Black Tea is a quite successful production and highly recommended particularly for black tea lovers.
This week I will review two wonderful green teas from Japanese Green Tea IN: Issaku Premium Green Tea and Gokuzyo High-Grade Green Tea. Before diving into tasting notes let me give you some information about Japanese Green Tea IN. It was founded a few years back by Kei Nishida who used to be a software engineer at Hewlett Packard. They are partnered with Arahataen Inc to introduce quality Japanese teas with tea lovers from the USA, Canada, and India (if you wonder what IN represents you got it!).
Let’s start with Issaku which is one of their best selling teas. Issaku was made by Master Mr. Arahata at Arahataen Green Tea Farm which is located by Mt. Fuji. It’s hand picked and produced from the fresh crop of 2017. Gokuzyo, similarly, is first harvest tea which is also known as Ichiban-cha.
Dry leaves of Issaku are composed of short needle like mostly dark brown somewhat light green tea leaves. They smell grassy and quite aromatic. The dry leaves of Gokuzyo are quite similar to Issaku, almost identical.
I brewed them both western style using about 3 grams of tea for 200 ml water, I let the heat of the water around 70 degrees Celsius. Issaku cupped out deep dark green cloudy liquor while Gokuzyo produced brighter color with same cloudy appearance.
As soon as I took my first sip of Issaku I felt the penetration of refreshing feeling through my chest! It’s quite sweet with almost no astringency. Japanese Green Tea IN uses longer steaming process (Fukamushi Method) in order to reduce Tannin and therefore increase sweetness. Similarly, the method increases theanine level in tea. The grassy taste is there but it’s very well balanced so it does not bother my palate at all. The mouthfeel is thick and velvety covering top of my mouth with a nice aromatic layer. The aftertaste was short yet cooling.
As for Gokuzyo, even though there is a tad bitterness accompanying the sweet taste, it was richer and more aromatic compared to Issaku’s lighter taste. The grassy taste was more prevalent as well. The aftertaste, on the other hand, was not different quite short and leaving a nice trail of refreshing feeling in the throat.
Overall Japanese Green Tea IN Issaku and Gokuzyo are both decent representation of Japanese Green teas. The founder, Kei Nishida, has also written several books regarding green tea. To learn more about Japanese Green Tea IN and Kei Nishida I highly recommend you check out Ricardo’s podcast with Kei.
Jing Tea Shop Ba Xian Oolong Tea comes from Feng Huang in Guang Dong province. Dry leaves are composed of the black tea leaves alongside with some dark brown and green leaves. They are curly and quite long which is quite expected for dancong oolong teas. The smell of the dry leaves is fruity with a touch of spiciness in the back.
I brewed it Gongfu way by using about 5 grams of tea. With the first infusion, it cupped out pale yellow liquor with great clarity. Quite sweet no bitterness at all. The taste offers fruity and citrusy tones but not so strong for the first infusion.
I kept it a little longer than usual for the second infusion to get a stronger brew. The liquor was more orangish this time and flavors were stronger. Yet still not as strong as I want it to be. The aftertaste was quite short both in the first and second infusions but left a nice touch of lemony taste in the throat and back of my mouth.
Third and fourth infusions were slightly deeper and richer than the first two brews. There was a slight astringency at this stage complementing mellow taste perfectly.
In total, I made seven infusions and left it there before it got too watery. Overall Jing Tea Shop Ba Xian is a decent representation of Fenghuang Dancong Oolongs and suggested for oolong lovers.
Oriental Beauty, aka Dong Fang Mei Ren, is arguably the most distinctive tea of Taiwan. Unlike many other Taiwanese oolongs which mostly are lowly-oxidized, green and high altitude rolled oolongs; Oriental Beauty is highly oxidized low altitude tea coming mostly from Hsinchu and Maoli in the northern part of Taiwan. In that regard, it’s very unique and one of a kind tea.
Furthermore, Oriental Beauty is one of these bug-bitten oolongs, only the leaves that are bitten by tea jassids are picked to make this tea. As the tea jassids nibble tea leaves they start oxidation earlier and as a result, processed tea leaves produce sweeter honey-like taste.
I brewed it gongfu style using about 6 grams of tea. It cupped out golden yellow liquor with great clarity. The aroma of the brewed tea is mesmerizing and therapeutic. In my experience it’s not possible to get this aroma from any other tea but Oriental Beauty. The taste is sweet and fruity; there is a little astringency possibly because of over-brewing. The mouthfeel is thick and velvety. The aftertaste is rather long and persistent leaving a nice refreshing fruity taste behind. It held up more than 6 infusions easily and if you don’t mind watery taste you can go for a few more steeps.
Overall I love it! I feel quite lucky and grateful whenever I have the chance to drink special teas such as this one. Taiwan Tea Crafts Oriental Beauty is recommended particularly for those who’re into Taiwanese oolong teas!
This month’s tea, Longan Charcoal Roasted Wuyi Oolong Tea, from Eco Cha Tea Club comes from Songbolin, Taiwan. It’s quite an extraordinary one, at least for me. I’ve been drinking roasted oolongs from Taiwan a lot recently and this is the second time I’ve tried Longan charcoal roasted oolong. They constitute a nice alternative to the conventional floral green oolongs of Taiwan.
Anyway, this month’s tea is 100% organic and composed of spring and winter harvests of 2016. Dry leaves are tightly rolled and dark green. The smell of the leaves is roasty and slightly smoky.
I brewed it gongfu style by using about six grams of tea. It cupped out reddish-orange liquor with great clarity. The first thing that hits my palate is the taste of its strong roasty flavor alongside with subtle smoky taste in the background. There is also a fruity character although it’s hard to detect. So far so good! It’s sweet with no bitterness. The mouthfeel is thick and velvety. The aftertaste was persistent and left a nice refreshing minty feeling in the throat and mouth.
Overall, Longan Charcoal Roasted Wuyi Oolong from Eco Cha Tea Club is a great tea, particularly for those who are looking for highly and masterfully roasted oolongs. Highly recommended!