Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea From Halmari Tea Estate

Today, I will be reviewing the Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea from Halmari Tea Estate. You can purchase 250 grams of this tea for USD $26 plus shipping costs from the Halmari Tea website.

I posted detailed information on Halmari Tea Estate in a previous review of the Halmari Gold Orthodox Black Tea. However, here is an article from last year from the Telegraph India publication announcing another record breaking price for Halmari Gold CTC Black Tea at the auctions. Halmari Tea definitely does not shy away from competing with itself year after year to produce better quality products and fetch higher prices.

The Assam region of India is not known (yet) for its oolong teas, but Halmari Tea Estate does not let that stop them from experimenting. Certainly, in order to compete with the quality of more established oolong products, management at Halmari knew to use the hand plucked, hand rolled manufacturing process despite the more labor intensive and time consuming work required for it. This generally gives the tea a more high-end, attractive appearance to discerning tea professionals and consumers alike.

Let’s get to the review…

Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a fairly uniform dark charcoal grey color, with a generous portion of fuzzy gold tips (buds). The blend consists of medium to large fragments of leaves and buds.There are no bare stems in the mix. Based on the size of some of the gold tips, I expect to find some unbroken. The leaves are long and wiry. The oxidation level is on the high end, as evidenced by the uniform dark color of the leaves. The aroma has scents of malt, toasted grains, dark chocolate, and daisies.

The dry leaves were placed in a cast iron tetsubin pot and infused in 190°F water for 3:00 minutes.

Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a gold-amber color. The aroma has scents of malt, fresh grains, light honey, daisies, and dark chocolate. The body is full, with a clean, layered feel. There is a complexity to this tea, having a brisk character, and layers of sweetness and balanced bitterness. The flavor really seems to hit all parts of the tongue. The taste has notes of malt, fresh grains, light honey, daisies, and the bitterness of dark chocolate. The aftertaste is sweet with a light floral touch.

Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform bronze-brown color. The blend consists of mostly medium and large fragments of leaves and tips, with a respectable amount of unbroken tips, a few leafs that are nearly unbroken, and no totally bare stems or shoots. The shoots show a two leaf and bud pluck. The leaves have the heartier, more robust feel of the Assamica tea bushes. The dark color of the infused leaves reflects the higher level of oxidation applied during the manufacturing process. The aroma carries the scents of malt, fresh grains, daisies, and dark chocolate. As they cool, the floral scents become stronger, and a hint of honey comes out.

From dry leaves to liquid to infused leaves, the Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea was very consistent in its aromas of malt, grains, dark chocolate, and daisies. The most remarkable part of this tea, in my opinion, was the complexity of the liquid character, delivering briskness, sweetness, and bitterness in nicely balanced layers. This oolong style tea was notably different than the Halmari Gold Orthodox Black Tea and the Halmari Gold CTC Black Tea that I have tasted previously. This oolong tea was more delicate, and not as bold and robust as the black teas, making it perfect for the tea drinker who wants the malty taste of an Assam tea without the strong astringency of the typical Assam black tea.

Thank you to Halmari Tea Estate for providing this sample of Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea. Cheers!

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

Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong
From Chaozhou Tea

Circling back around to another Dancong wulong sample from Chaozhou Tea Grower, today I will be reviewing the Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong Tea.

The name “Da Wu Ye” translates into English as “Big Dark Leaf”. The photo below of the largest leaf in the sample certainly lives up to this name, measuring about 3 inches long (7.6 cm) and 1.25 inches wide (3.2 cm). Considering that the leaf is not whole, I would say this is a fairly big, dark leaf (Da Wu Ye). The name makes sense…

Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong Tea – Large Infused Leaf

According to the Yunnan Sourcing website featuring a similar product from the 2016 harvest, the Da Wu Ye varietal is a hybrid between the Ya Shi Xiang bush and the Shui Xian varietal.

The Da Wu Ye being reviewed in this post is grown on Fenghuang Mountain, Wudong Village, near the city of Chaozhou, Guangdong province, China. The bushes grow at an altitude between 1,200 feet and 1,800 feet (400 to 600 meters) above sea level. This tea was harvested in the spring of 2017, as the name suggests.

You can purchase 50 grams of this tea from the Chaozhou Tea Grower website for USD $9.00 plus USD $18.99 shipping to the U.S.

As I write this review, I am on about the 10th infusion of these leaves, and certainly the character has evolved over the infusions. For the sake of time, I have condensed all aroma and flavor notes into the single paragraph on the tea liquid.

Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from pale yellow-green to reddish-brown to dark charcoal grey. The sample consists of unbroken leaves and large leaf fragments. The pluck is two to three mature leaves with no buds or tips. There are no totally bare stems. The leaves appear to be in the low to medium oxidation and roast levels, in comparison to the other Dancongs I have reviewed, and the remaining samples in the box, that are on the medium to high oxidation and roast levels. The leaves are lightly hand twisted, giving a fluffy, light feel. The texture is like thin, very dry leather. The aroma is fantastic, with scents of brown sugar, sweet cream, caraway, orchid, roasted almonds, and dried berries. The depth and layers of the aroma is remarkable!

Dry leaves were placed in a porcelain gaiwan. The leaves were quickly rinsed, then infused for 3 seconds with 200°F water. Each subsequent infusion received an additional 3 seconds of time.

Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong Tea – 1st Infusion Liquid

Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong Tea – 6th Infusion Liquid

As you can see in the photos above, the tea liquid started off a quite light golden yellow color, but deepened into a dark golden-yellow color after the 2nd infusion. As I approach the 10th and subsequent infusions, the color is obviously fading back to the lighter color of the 1st infusion. The aroma had scents of orchid, sweet cream, raspberries, caraway, and black peppercorns. The orchid scent persisted, while the other scents came and went. The sweet cream became more of a buttery scent as the infusions went on. The body was surprisingly full, with a clean, silky texture, and an invigorating energy. The taste had notes of orchid, raspberries, wet stones, caraway, black peppercorns, and sweet cream (again becoming buttery as infusions went on). The orchid and mineral taste became dominant after the 7th infusion, as the other notes began to fade off at different paces. The aftertaste was very potently floral, and lingered on the tongue for what seemed like several minutes. No matter what number infusion I came to, this floral aftertaste never seemed to fade away.

Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves vary in color from pale forest green to dark forest green to reddish-copper to copper-brown. There are many unbroken leaves, and the rest are large leaf fragments. There are no tips or buds, and no totally bare stems. The leaves are long and fairly broad, and have a very smooth, soft, delicate texture at this point. Based on the fairly fresh appearance and texture of the leaves, it can be determined that they were given a relatively light roast during processing. The aroma carries the scents of fresh orchids, caraway, raspberries, sweet cream, and a touch of toasted almond.

This review of the Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong Tea began at 10:30 AM and is continuing through the posting of the review at 4:00 PM. The leaves still have flavor, and I simply cannot dispose of them while there is any time left before leaving my office for the day. Saying this, it can be known that this product is an all day drinking tea. And the day spent drinking this tea is going to be a happy one, full of deep aromas and flavors, headlined by orchids and sweet cream, with elements of spice, fruit, and minerals as the co-stars. This is a beautifully rounded tea that will keep you pushing the limits of the leaves. Warning, you may not be able to push hard enough to totally wear them out. I hope you have a lot of time on your hands, and a merciless pleasure in drinking mass quantities of tea, or else these leaves will most definitely outlast you.

Thanks to Chaozhou Tea Grower for providing this sample of Spring 2017 Da Wu Ye Dancong Wulong Tea. Cheers!

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

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The ITMA Masterclass™ will be held on-site in San Diego, California, on September 9 & 10, 2017.  Course Details are available here,

Ba Xian Dancong Wulong Tea From Chaozhou Tea Grower

Today, I will be experiencing the Ba Xian Dancong Wulong Tea from Chaozhou Tea Grower. The term “Ba Xian” translates into English as “Eight Immortals”. This name refers to the type of tea bush that this tea is grown on. The Ba Xian bushes were originally cultivated in the Zhao An area of Fujian province, but have since been cultivated in areas like the Fenghuang Mountains in Wudong village, Guangdong province, and the better known Wu Yi Mountains in Fujian province.

Let’s get to the review…

Ba Xian Dancong Wulong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark brown to black color. The leaves consist of large fragments and some unbroken leaves, as well as a few bare stems. There are no obvious buds in the mix. The leaves are long and rather tightly twisted. They break easily into crumbs. These leaves show a higher level of oxidation, and a higher level of roasting. The aroma has scents of roasted walnuts, molasses, cassia bark, honey, charred camphor, and potpourri. The aroma has a combination of roasty, sweet, and earthy characters, which is quite different than anything else that I have reviewed recently.

The entire 7 gram sample of dry leaves were placed in a porcelain gaiwan, and infused in 200°F water for 5 seconds, and each subsequent infusion added another 5 seconds.

Ba Xian Dancong Wulong Tea – Liquid

The tea liquid had a rich, gold-orange color. The aroma had scents of camphor, walnuts, honey, cassia, potpourri, and wet stones. As the infusions went on, an interesting and obvious scent of buttered popcorn also came up. The body is full, with a lush, juicy texture. The taste has notes of wet stones, cassia bark, potpourri, camphor, and dark honey. The aftertaste continued the floral and mineral character, and lingered on the back of the tongue. The tea also had a cleansing feeling on the palate.

Ba Xian Dancong Wulong Tea – Infused Leaves

The wet leaves range in color from dark forest green to dark brown. The mixture consists almost entirely of large leaf fragments. The few unbroken leaves were torn easily during observation. There are a few bare stems in the mix, and no buds. The leaves are long and quite narrow. They are thicker and heartier than the standard Chinese tea bush leaves. The leaves have a higher level of oxidation. The aroma continues the scents of camphor, wet stones, potpourri, cassia bark, and dark honey.

The Ba Xian Dancong Wulong Tea was a pleasant departure from the other styles of teas that I have reviewed recently, not to take anything away from the other teas, of course. This tea had a nice combination of mineral, earthy, floral, roasty characteristics that was quite unique. It had a refreshing, cleansing quality to it, yet a full, lush texture. It was interesting to observe how the aromas and tastes evolved as the number of infusions went on. I had time for about fifteen infusions, and the sweet, floral character came out more, while the roasty, woody elements dissipated over those infusions. During the middle range of the infusions, a potent smell of buttered popcorn came forward, and was quite unexpected. Overall, this was a very interesting and time consuming experience, which I have come to expect from Dancong wulongs.

You can purchase 25 grams of the Ba Xian Dancong Wulong Tea for USD $16.00 plus USD $18.99 shipping cost to the U.S.

Thank you to Chaozhou Tea Grower for providing this sample for review, and thank you to all of my readers. Cheers!

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

Man Lou Xiang Dacong Tea
From Chaozhou Tea Grower

Yes! Six samples of high quality Dancong wulongs from Wudang village in China! What package can possibly be more exciting to a tea reviewer to receive?

Dancong wulongs are (most unfortunately) not a style of tea that I get to enjoy often. High quality Dancongs can get quite pricey, and samples can be hard to come by. I was fortunate enough to be contacted by a family who owns a farm in the Fenghuang mountains of Wudong village, outside of Chaozhou in the Guangdong province of China. This family has owned the farm for sixty years, and produces only Dancong style wulongs.

This Man Lou Xiang Dancong is grown at about 3,000 feet (1,000 meters) above sea level on Fenghuang Mountain. This tea was harvested in late April of 2017. The family believes the tea tree to be over 300 years old, and is harvested only one time per year with a two to three leaf pluck. The man who is credited with making this tea is Song Lin. This family has an Instagram account that offers many great photos of the tea masters at work. Search Instagram for “Wudongtea” to find them.

You can purchase 25 grams of this tea for USD $23.00 from the Chaozhou Tea Grower website. There is an additional $18.99 fee to ship to the U.S.

Let’s get to the review… I’ll even bring out the gaiwan for the best experience possible.

Man Lou Xiang Dancong Wulong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark yellowish-brown color to them. The leaves are long and wiry, with a fairly tight twist. There are no bare stems, and the leaves appear to be large fragments and some unbroken leaves. There are no buds or tips visible in the mix. The leaves have undergone a fairly heavy roast, and crack easily into small fragments. The aroma has scents of roasted walnuts, cassia bark, raw cocoa, dried raisins or prunes, dry magnolia, and honey. The aroma is incredibly balanced and well rounded.

The 7 grams of dry leaves were quickly rinsed in 200°F water, then infused for 5 seconds in a ceramic gaiwan. As of publishing this review, I am on the eight infusion, and have added 5 seconds to each infusion time.

Man Lou Xiang Dancong Wulong Tea Liquid

The tea liquid has a bright, yellow-gold color. The aroma is incredible, with scents of fresh, roasted walnuts, raisins or prunes, magnolia, and honey. As the number of infusions increases, the roasty character of the aroma decreases, while the floral character increases dramatically, and a nice buttery popcorn scent begins to appear. The liquid has a medium body, and a very clean, refined feel. The taste has notes of roasted walnuts, honey, magnolia, raisins or prunes, and mineral. Again, as the number of infusions increase, the roasty flavors dissipate while the floral flavors really come forward. The aftertaste is powerfully floral, overtakes the entire mouth, and hangs on the tongue for an unbelievable amount of time. This tea really seems to cleanse the mouth and palate. It has a very clean taste, and a refreshing effect. This floral aftertaste remains strong and persistent through the experience, from the first to eighth (and probably beyond!) infusion.

Man Lou Xiang Dancong Wulong Tea Wet Leaves

The wet leaves have a fairly uniform brownish-forest green color. Some leaves show the reddish edges, proof of the oxidation level of this wulong. The leaves also do not have serrated edges, but instead are smooth and rounded. The leaves consist of large fragments and unbroken leaves. There are no bare stems or tips in the mix. The leaves have a very soft, silky, delicate feel, keeping in mind that they have been through eight infusions. The aroma (observed from the first infusion) carries the roasted walnuts, magnolia, raisins or prunes, and honey scents. As the number of infusions increased, the roasty scents decreased, and the floral and sweeter scents gained potency.

Luckily, I still have two hours to pull a little more happiness out of these leaves before my day is over.

This Man Lou Xiang Dancong Wulong Tea seriously made my day great! I enjoyed the experience so much that I forced everyone in my office or who came into it to smell the liquid. Naturally, they were not as excited as I was, but they know my passion for tea and were not surprised. This experience was high-end, and I am glad I took the extra effort to use the gaiwan to fully bring out the best properties that this tea has offer. I have to say that the most memorable part of the experience was the long lasting aftertaste that seriously seemed to cleanse my entire mouth. It was a refreshing, exciting, and uplifting experience from the beginning to the end (which hasn’t come yet). I am beginning to remember why these teas are so expensive.

Thank you to Chaozhou Tea Grower for providing these samples of their family’s Dancong wulongs! I have five more samples to enjoy, and I look forward to giving each the proper attention due. Thank you for taking your time to read my review of the Man Lou Xiang Dancong Wulong Tea.

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