Spring 2017 Huang Shan Mao Feng
Green Tea From Teavivre

Today, I will be focusing on the Spring 2017 harvest of Huang Shan Green Tea provided by TeaVivre.

The TeaVivre website is among my favorite tea vendor sites because it provides so much interesting content on each of its products, including harvest information, garden information, history, etc. A website with this amount of information on each product is a great credit to the owner of the business, proving that they care about the quality of products they are offering, and actually know and want to teach about the products they are offering. They are not just sourcing cheap teas and selling at retail price to make the most profit. They are proud of where their products are sourced from. Cheers to TeaVivre for their care and efforts!

True Huang Shan Mao Feng green teas are sourced from the Yellow Mountain (HuangShan) in the Anhui province of China. The tea bush used to make this style of tea is of the HuangShan large-leaf type. This type of tea bush is known for the number of buds it produces, and the abundance of downy-like fuzz on those buds. It is also quite cold-tolerant, which is important since it is grown in the mountains.

This particular Huang Shan Mao Feng green tea is sourced from the Dailing Tea Garden, which is owned and operated by Mr. Ke, in Da Guyun Village. Mr. Ke has been working with his family in tea growing since the age of 15.

You can purchase 50 grams of this Spring 2017 Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea for USD $10.90 from the TeaVivre website.

The map below shows the general location of HuangShan.

Let’s get to the review.

Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a bright, fresh forest green color, with the buds having silver downy-like fuzz on them. The stems have a green-yellow color. The pluck is mostly two leaves and a tender bud intact on the shoot, and a few detached leaf fragments. There are no totally bare stems in the mix. There are no obvious signs of oxidation on the leaves, indicating that the leaves were properly processed to stop the oxidation process very shortly after being harvested. The leaves are very lightly rolled, and have a light, fluffy density. The aroma has scents of fresh hay, light brown sugar, light vanilla, and a touch of pecan and dried chrysanthemum. The aroma is gently sweet and very attractive.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in a 5 ounce (150 mL) porcelain gaiwan, and infused with 175°F (80°C) water for 30 seconds. Each subsequent infusion added another 30 seconds.

Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a light, green-yellow color. The aroma has scents of chrysanthemums, fresh hay, and lighter scents of steamed asparagus and baby spinach. The body is medium, which is more than I expected, with a very smooth, buttery texture. There is a nice astringency in the earlier infusions, which provides an uplifting energy to the tea. The taste has notes of chrysanthemums, hay, steamed asparagus, and a lighter note of baby spinach. The aftertaste carries the floral notes, and leaves a refreshing, lingering floral essence in the mouth.

Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh, bright forest green color. There is no reddish tint on any of the leaves, confirming that very minimal oxidation had occurred in the leaves prior to processing, as is expected from a green tea. The leaves, buds, and shoots appear to be rather young and tender. There appears to be signs of bug bites on a few of the leaves, perhaps indicating a lack of chemical pesticides being used on the farm, which is definitely a good thing. The aroma carries the scents of chrysanthemum, hay, grass, and lighter notes of steamed asparagus and baby spinach.

The Spring 2017 Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea from TeaVivre is an excellent example of a classic, world-renowned Chinese green tea. Neither overpowering or underwhelming, this green tea is a perfect way for black tea drinkers to begin their expansion into other styles of tea. The fresh, floral character of this tea provides an uplifting, refreshing experience. The body is fuller than expected, and provides a nice depth of texture that serves as an excellent first impression of the tea liquid as it passes the lips. Tea drinkers who want and prefer that grassy, vegetal punch from a green tea may find this style to be underwhelming and generally unimpressive. But for those who can appreciate the varying styles of green tea, this one will be a highly satisfying experience.

Thank you to TeaVivre for providing this sample of Spring 2017 Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea! I am looking forward to reviewing the other products included with this sample packet. Cheers!

By ITMA Certified Tea Professional Kevin Craig
TeaJourneyman, teajourneymanshop.com

 

ITMA Tea Master Certification Course™
Starts Jan. 19th in San Diego

The training will be led by ITMA Certified Grand Tea Master™ and ITMA Director of Tea Education Roy Fong, and by ITMA Certified Tea Master™ and ITMA Executive Director Chas Kroll. Fong is one of the most knowledgeable individuals in the tea industry and respected as a top expert on Chinese and Taiwanese teas. Kroll is a highly competent, knowledgeable senior trainer with extensive experience in the tea industry. Together, they are committed to making the event a memorable life-changing experience for everyone.

www.TeaMasters.org

Mixiang Hongcha Black Tea
From Taiwan M’s Tea

 

Today, I will focus on the Mixiang Hongcha, also known as Honey Black Tea, from Taiwan M’s Tea.

This tea is generally made from the harvested leaves of TTES # 13 cultivar bushes (Tsuiyu), and are grown at around 500 meters altitude (1,600 feet) in Nantou County, Taiwan. The leaves are allowed to oxidize over 50%, then given a heavy roast. The Mixiang Hongcha is another of Taiwan’s bug bitten style of teas, so I expect to smell and taste honey in the tea. I am also interested in seeing how this tea will differ from the Ruby # 18 Black Tea that I reviewed recently.

Let’s get to the review…

Mixiang Hongcha Black Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a mostly uniform charcoal-grey-black color, with a few dark red-brown areas, indicating that there is not full oxidation to the leaves. There are also a few small gold tips, and a few bare stems in the mix. The leaves are lightly rolled. The pluck varies from one small leaf and small bud to individual unbroken leaves with no stem attached. The mix consists mostly of large fragments and unbroken leaves. The heavy roast causes the leaves to crack fairly easily into coarse crumbs. The aroma has scents of anise, dry forest floor, honey, dried apples, and a touch of orchid.

Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in an 18 ounce cast-iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 200°F water for 3:00 minutes.

Mixiang Hongcha Black Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a bright, radiant orange-red color. The aroma has scents of anise, apple, honey, and touches of malt and toasted grains. The body is full, with a layered, juicy texture. There is a pleasant, balanced astringency. The taste has notes of apple, honey, anise, and touches of malt and toasted grains. The aftertaste is sweet and mellow.

Mixiang Hongcha Black Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a dark forest green to dark brown color. The mix consists of large fragments, unbroken leaves, a few bare stems, and a few smaller buds. The leaves are fairly long and narrow. Most of the leaves are individually plucked, with no stem attached. The aroma has scents of apple, honey, anise, and malt.

The Mixiang Hongcha Black Tea from Taiwan M’s Tea is another example of the diversity and quality of specialty teas being made in Taiwan. This black tea is very different than the Ruby # 18 Black Tea that I reviewed recently, which is also from Taiwan. Both black teas are remarkable in their own rite. This Mixiang Hongcha is sweeter, and has a touch of the malt aroma and flavor typical in black teas. The Ruby # 18 (Hongyu Hongcha) is spicy and herbal, dominated by notes of mint and licorice. The texture of this Mixiang Hongcha is another highlighter, having a layered and juicy texture, which reminds me of apple juice or apple cider. The mild astringency also adds another layer of taste. The scent of the infused leaves is also very pleasant and comforting.

Thank you to Taiwan M’s Tea for providing this sample of Mixiang Hongcha Black Tea! When this company has a functional website, I will try and remember to update these posts with pricing and links.

By ITMA Certified Tea Professional Kevin Craig
TeaJourneyman, teajourneymanshop.com

 

Hongya Hongcha Ruby # 18 Black Tea
from Fong Mong Tea

Today, I will be reviewing the Hongya Hongcha Ruby # 18 Black Tea from Fong Mong Tea. You may purchase 100 grams of this tea for USD $26.99.

This Hongya Hongcha Ruby # 18 Black Tea is sourced from the Sun Moon Lake area of Nantou County, Taiwan. The climate of Sun Moon Lake makes it ideal for growing some world-class teas. Ruby # 18 (TTES 18) is also the name of the cultivar of tea bushes that the leaves are hand-plucked from. See the map below to get an idea of the location of Sun Moon Lake.

Let’s get to the review.

Hongya Hongcha Ruby # 18 Black Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark charcoal-black color (fully oxidized). The leaves appear to be medium to large size fragments. There are a few small bare stems in the mix, and no apparent buds. The leaves are lightly rolled. The aroma has scents of dried apricot, molasses, lavender, and a touch of pine. This is a very unique aroma, and I am looking forward to how it evolves in the cup.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in a 250 ml (8.5 ounces) bizen-ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 200°F water for 1:00 minute.

Hongya Hongcha Ruby # 18 Black Tea – Liquid

The tea liquid has a bright, clear, orange-red color. The aroma is very interesting, with scents of apricot, molasses, licorice, mint, and a touch of lavender and pine. The body is full, with a layered, complex texture, and a brisk character. The taste is complex and amazing, with dominant notes of licorice, mint, and pine, with less dominant notes of molasses and even coffee, and a light touch of lavender. The aftertaste carries the notes of licorice, pine, and a touch of the lavender, with a mentholated effect.

Hongya Hongcha Ruby # 18 Black Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform copper-brown color. The leaves consist of all medium to large size leaf fragments. There are a few buds in the mix, as well as a few bare stems. The leaves have a thin, smooth wet leathery feel. Again, the aroma is the most noteworthy characteristic of the wet leaves. It has strong, deep scents of licorice and mint. I also pick up on a scent that I do not know how to describe any better than that of classic bubblegum. There are also lighter scents of lavender and pine. This is a very memorable aroma.

With all due respect to the many amazing teas I have reviewed this year, I have to be honest in saying that this Hongya Hongcha Ruby # 18 Black Tea has really captured my attention, and burned itself into my organoleptic memory unlike other teas, specifically the taste of the liquid and the aroma of the infused leaves. The combination of herbal spiciness, sweetness, touch of floral and pine, and the brisk, layered character of the liquid is simply mind boggling. It had a flavor profile that was so clearly identifiable, and each flavor was so distinct from one another. This is a luxurious, rich tea that will certainly draw and hold the attention of whoever is lucky enough to experience it. I have had other Ruby # 18 black teas before, but none were as rich in flavor as this one from Fong Mong Tea. The aroma of the infused leaves is my second most noteworthy aspect of this tea. Again, with the licorice and mint sweet/spiciness, and the lighter touches of lavender and pine, and the “bubblegum” scent that I cannot shake from my memory. It was truly an awesome experience, and the highlight of my day.

Go to the link at the top of this page, and buy this tea. You can thank me later.

And thank you to Fong Mong Tea for supplying this sample of Hongya Hongcha Ruby # 18 Black Tea. Cheers!

By ITMA Certified Tea Professional Kevin Craig
TeaJourneyman, teajourneymanshop.com

 

Alishan Jinxuan Oolong Tea
From Taiwan M’s Tea

As my readers may have figured out, I have been extremely busy at work, which is a good thing, but has kept me from being able to post regular reviews. To be honest, I do start to get restless when I see a pile of great tea samples just begging to be opened and experienced. I also get a touch of guilt, knowing that the people and companies that sent me the samples are waiting for feedback on their products. Believe me, I wish I had more time to relax and enjoy more tea and write more reviews. It is truly a pleasure for me to analyze every sample to the best of my ability, and introduce my readers to teas that they did not know existed, or where to find them.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. A new friend of mine, Michelle at Taiwan M’s Tea, sent several different Alishan Jinxuan oolong teas to me. I am in the process of finding a new source for Alishan Jinxuan for one of my consulting clients, and Michelle has been a great resource in my search. So let me give Michelle a quick thank you for her help. Once her company website is fully functional, I will post a link.

Focusing on the product, Alishan Jinxuan is commonly referred to as Milk Oolong. This tea is grown and produced in the Ali Mountains in Chiayi County, Taiwan, using the TTES # 12 Jinxuan cultivar bushes.

Generally speaking, Alishan Jinxuan oolong teas are on the greener side of the oolong spectrum, meaning the oxidation and roast levels are relatively low and light. The leaves of the Jinxuan cultivar are quite broad in width. They contain a naturally occurring compound called lactones, which are thought to give the brewed leaves the aroma and taste of milk or cream. Thus the common alias for this tea, again, is milk oolong.

Let’s get to the review…

Alishan Jinxuan Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from light to dark forest green, some bordering greenish-brown. The leaves have the common Taiwan oolong pluck of three to four leaves attached to the shoot, and are tightly compressed into the common ball shape. Other leaves are single, and not attached to a stem. There are no bare stems in the mix. I expect most of the leaves to be fully intact and unbroken. The aroma is very sweet, with scents of sweet cream, brown sugar, toasted oats, and a touch of sweet cinnamon.

Five grams were placed in a 210 ml bizen-ware kyusu teapot and infused with 190°F water for 2:30 minutes.

Alishan Jinxuan Oolong Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a light greenish-yellow color to the first infusion, which became brighter and more on the yellow side with the follow up infusions. The aroma is sweet and very pleasant, with scents of sweet cream, brown sugar, and a sweeter floral scent, like peony. The body is light and uplifting, with a milky smooth texture. The taste has notes of sweet cream, peony, brown sugar, and a light touch of cooked spinach. There is also a very light astringency that compliments the sweet, floral notes. The aftertaste carries the sweet cream and floral notes, with a lingering flowery essence left in the mouth.

Alishan Jinxuan Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fairly uniform fresh forest green color, many with reddish-brown edges reflecting the oxidation level. The pluck is as expected, with most being a three to four leaves attached to the shoot. There is also a good number of individual unbroken leaves with no stem attached. There are no bare stems. The leaves are rather broad in width, as is expected with the jinxuan TTES # 12 cultivar, and have a smooth, soft, yet durable texture. The aroma has scents of sweet cream, peony, steamed spinach, and a touch of oats.

The Alishan Jinxuan Oolong Tea from Taiwan M’s Tea is a perfect example of a classic, naturally delicious milk oolong tea. This tea is light and refreshing, with a sweet and floral aroma and taste that are comforting and uplifting. The leaves can handle many infusions and still give a great experience. Not only is the tea liquid a pleasure to enjoy, but observing and playing with the large, unbroken leaves is always a treat to a tea enthusiast. Since Jinxuan leaves are known for being broad in width, they are fun to compare side-by-side with other cultivars from Taiwan and other origins. Delicious and affordable, Alishan Jinxuan Oolong Tea would be a perfect addition to a tea collection.

Many thanks to Michelle at Taiwan M’s Tea for supplying this sample of Alishan Jinxuan Oolong Tea. And thanks to my readers for taking your time to read my review. Have a great weekend!

By ITMA Certified Tea Professional Kevin Craig
TeaJourneyman, teajourneymanshop.com