Innovation is Changing the Tea Industry

Vahdam Teas does not transport in large shipping containers for months before being packaged and sold. All their teas are sourced within 24-72 hours at the tea estates.  Their teas have been door-delivered to consumers in 76 countries. Vahdam has eliminated all middlemen and created new innovations in the supply chain of tea.  By sourcing and delivering direct, they are creating a process which helps every farmer get a better price for their teas.

According to Tea Commerce, a web site focused on the financial growth of the tea industry, and its December 11th article, “India’s Vahdam Teas raises $1.4M to bring fresher tea to your door faster.”

“Vahdam Teas, an e-commerce that’s focused on selling the freshest brews on the planet, has closed a Series A funding round worth $1.4 million to grow its business.

“The funding was led by new backers: Fireside Venture, Mumbai Angels, Singapore Angel Network and undisclosed existing investors. Vahdam Teas, a two-year-old company, previously raised a $500,000 seed round from angels in January of this year.

“Vahdam’s biggest rival is Teabox, a five-year-old company that kickstarted the ‘tea-commerce’ model and has picked up $7 million in backing from venture  capitalists, including Accel.

“Business model-wise, Vahdam has a similar approach to Teabox. It aims to speed up the time it takes tea to go from being picked to being served in a customer’s home. To do that, it sources leaves direct from plantations after which 95 percent is vacuum packed and prepared to be shipped direct to customers.

“Tea is sold from Vahdam’s website and through a partnership with Amazon, the U.S. e-commerce giant that has vast ambitions in India. The company look part in Amazon’s India-based Launchpad program which includes a page on Amazon’s U.S. site.”

Gaoshan Qingxiang Lishan Oolong Tea
From Fong Mong Tea Shop

Today’s review will focus on the Gaoshan QingXiang Lishan Oolong Tea from Fong Mong Tea Shop. You can currently purchase 150 grams of this tea for USD $42.99 from Fong Mong Tea Shop.

The English translation for the name of this tea is “High Mountain (Gaoshan) Sweet Scent (QingXiang) Pear Mountain (Lishan) Oolong Tea”. If the aroma and taste of this tea lives up to the name and reputation of other Lishan oolong teas, then this is going to be a great tea session.

Lishan (Pear Mountain) is located in central Taiwan, in Taichung. A map showing the Lishan area is below.

The Qingxing cultivar bushes for this tea are grown at altitudes between 1,500 meters to 2,200 meters (4,900 feet to 7,200 feet) above sea level. At this altitude, the weather is rather cold and harsh on tea bushes. The results of growing tea in this environment are slow developing leaves, rare harvests (one to two per year, usually), and limited production. The limited supply of this product makes the necessity to slowly enjoy this experience even more of a priority.

Let’s get to the review…

Gaoshan Qingxiang Lishan Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in shades of green from forest green to dark forest green. The leaves are very tightly rolled and condensed into the standard Taiwanese oolong ball, making them quite dense. I expect most of the leaves to be unbroken and fully intact on the stem, with a pluck in the three to four leaves and no bud. The other leaves should be unbroken but detached from the stem. There appears to be no fragments, all unbroken leaves, which is impressive! There is one stem that is almost entirely bare. The leaves appear to be on the lighter side of the oxidation scale (under 25%), and perhaps given a very light roast. The aroma is excellent, with inviting scents of brown sugar, baked apples and pears, ceylon cinnamon, floral honey, and orchids.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an eight ounce (240 mL) bizen-ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 190°F (88°C) water for 1:00 minute. Each subsequent infusion had another 15 seconds of time added.

Gaoshan Qingxiang Lishan Oolong Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a bright, light yellow color. The aroma has scents of stewed apples and pears, orchids, brown sugar, and touches of Ceylon cinnamon and floral honey. The body is light-medium, with a honey-like texture. There is no trace of bitterness, and just a touch of astringency. The taste has notes of stewed apples and pears, floral honey, orchids, and lighter notes of brown sugar and Ceylon cinnamon. The aftertaste is incredible, carrying the fruit and honey notes, then evolving into an excellent orchid essence left on the breath.

As infusions get past four, the fruity and honey flavors diminish, leaving the floral character front and center with a touch of vegetal notes. The orchid essence on the breath remains as potent and amazing from the first infusion through the last.

Gaoshan Qingxiang Lishan Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform dark forest green color. The leaves are all unbroken, some still attached to stems, and some detached. The stems show either a three leaves or four leaves pluck. There are no buds in the mix, and only one mostly bare stem. Some of the leaves display a light amount of oxidation, and there are signs of a light roast. There are also a few leaves showing signs of bug bites. The leaves are very smooth and soft, and rather long and narrow. It’s always a pleasure to play with and observe leaves from high quality Taiwanese oolongs like this. The aroma continues the scents of honey, stewed apples and pears, orchids, and a touch of brown sugar.

I am not sure if I could have picked a better tea to review before the long holiday weekend coming up. This Gaoshan QingXiang Lishan Oolong Tea was incredibly floral and sweet in the aroma and taste. I see some reviews using words like “vegetal”, and I just did not pick up any of that until maybe the fifth infusion. Even then, any vegetal character was very light, and the floral character dominated. The sweet aftertaste and lingering floral essence was the real highlight of this tea, in my opinion. To me, a tea that tastes this good for a minute after the liquid is consumed is an instant favorite. And to think, this tea is not even the best grade of this style from Fong Mong Tea Shop.

Many thanks to Fong Mong Tea Shop for providing this sample of Gaoshan QingXiang Lishan Oolong Tea! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

By ITMA Certified Tea Professional Kevin Craig

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Premium Dragon Well Long Jing
Green Tea From Teavivre

Today, I will review the Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea from TeaVivre. You can purchase 100 grams of this tea for USD $18.90 through the TeaVivre website.

This Long Jing Green Tea was grown and harvested in April of 2017 in the famous district of XiHu (West Lake), Zhejiang province of China.

Although Long Jing green teas are among the most famous and beloved green teas from China, it is (admittedly) historically not one of my preferred green teas. I decided to request this sample from TeaVivre, and give it another chance since it has been a year or two since I last had a Long Jing green tea. My tastes and preferences do change and evolve, so it is always interesting to circle back to a tea that I did not care for a few years ago, and see how I interpret it now.

Let’s get to the review…

Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from pale light green to pale dark green. There are also some yellow-brown leaves in the mix. The blend consists of medium to large leaf and bud fragments, with a few unbroken leafs and buds. There is also a bare stem or two in the mix. The stems show a two young leaf and bud pluck. The leaves have the standard flattened appearance, with the few fully intact plucks coming to a point where the bud ends. The abundance of medium sized fragments indicates that this is, with all due respect, a fairly standard grade of Long Jing green tea. The aroma has scents of roasted peanuts, chocolate, dry grass, and a touch of dry orchid.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an eight ounce (240 mL) bizen-ware kyusu, and infused with 175°F (80°C) water for 30 seconds. Each subsequent infusion had another 30 seconds of time added.

Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a pale, light green-yellow color. The aroma has scents of fresh grass, boiled peanuts, cooked spinach and chard, and orchids. The body is medium-full, with a rich, velvety smooth texture. There is a pleasant, balanced astringency. The taste has notes of fresh grass, cooked spinach, chard, orchids, a light touch of floral bitterness, like lavender or jasmine, and a light touch of boiled peanuts. The aftertaste strongly carries the floral character, and lingers on the breath.

Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color, with a few leaves having a brown spot of two. The blend consists mostly of medium to large leaf and bud fragments. There are a few unbroken leaves, and a few leaves and buds still attached to the shoot. The vast majority of leaves are fragments, though. There is a bare stem or two in the mix. The leaves are young, fairly small, and tender. The buds are also rather young and tender. The aroma carries the scents of fresh grash, spinach, chard, and light orchid.

I have enjoyed this experience with the Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea from TeaVivre more so than I did in the past. Most notably, I really enjoyed the texture of this tea, and the strong and lingering floral aftertaste. This experience is encouraging me to try the higher grades of Long Jing from TeaVivre and other vendors. I can imagine that a much more refined, higher quality of this style of green tea could certainly live up to its reputation as one of the best and most famous styles of Chinese green tea. Not to take anything away from the grade of this sample, which provided an excellent aroma and taste experience. This product is an excellent and affordable option for exploring the Long Jing style of green tea.

Thank you again to TeaVivre for providing this sample of Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea. Cheers!

By ITMA Certified Tea Professional Kevin Craig