Friday, October 2, 2020

Tea Review: Lively Tea Instant Fuzhuan Heicha (Zhenxi)

Lively Tea/轻轻茶 Instant Fuzhuan Heicha
Zhenxi/臻溪
Type: Heicha
Origin: China, Hunan Province
Product Description: Not provided.

Temperature: 208° F
Tea Amount: .5 gram (single packet)
Water: 6 ounces

The red-brown liquor is clear with an aroma that is rich with notes of roasted chestnuts and a hint of earthiness.  The taste is roasty with notes of nut shells and a mild bitterness toward the back that reminds me of coffee.

Per the company website, this instant fuzhuan heicha is a concentration of 8 grams of leaf into 1 gram of powder containing approximately 2.1 million cfu of jin hua (golden flower/Eurotium cristatum) probiotics. There is no stirring necessary and no residue. Unlike some of the other instant teas I've tasted, this does have some of the heicha character. While I much prefer loose leaf heicha, this is a very handy mess-free and travel-friendly alternative that I would drink again.

I received this sample during a presentation at World Tea Expo. At the time of this review, it is not available in the North American market.

This tea was provided as a free sample without guarantee of a review.




Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Tea Review: Bitter Melon Tea (Phoenix Tea)

Bitter Melon Tea/Ku Gua Cha/苦瓜茶
Phoenix Tea
Type: Oolong
Origin: China, Fujian Province, Anxi
Product Description: Not provided.

Temperature: 195-208F°
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 2 minutes

The dry leaves have an aroma of sweet green vine, cucumber, walnuts, and a hint of smoke.

The copper red infusion has a sweet and spicy aroma with notes of nuts, melon rind, vine and a hint of smoke.  The taste is sweet and roasty with notes of roasted nut shell and a long sweet finish.

The packet contains one slice of bitter melon that has been packed with roasted Tieguanyin and dried.  I initially prepared this tea at 195° F and again at 208° F with similar results.  While the best results are in the first infusion, allowing the tea to cool after a second and third steeping brings out a pleasant sweetness.  

This tea was purchased by me.




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Monday, September 28, 2020

Product Review: Kawaii Zipper Bag (Yoshimura Package Partners)

Kawaii Zipper Bags are produced by Yoshimura Package Partners in an effort to promote Japanese tea through fun and beautiful packaging.  The zipper bags come in a delightful variety of colors and designs ranging from traditional patterns to seasonal scenes.


I was fortunate to receive a few samples of Kawaii Zipper Bags and used them to store and display tea for a Rare Japanese Teas tasting event that I presented.  The bags look attractive, stand up easily, and the aluminum interior and sturdy zipper seal help to keep the contents fresh and safe from moisture.



These bags are washable and reusable.  Due to their shiny or textured surfaces, they don't hold adhesive labels, so any identifying labels or greetings for gift giving should be tied on, attached with a clip, or written with permanent marker.

Wholesale orders for Kawaii Zipper Bags can be placed through Super Delivery International.

Wholesale custom designs and heat-sealable options can be order through MYPAKE.

This product was provided as a free sample without guarantee of a review.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Tea Review: Miyazaki Native Kamairicha (The Tea Crane)

Miyazaki Native Kamairicha
The Tea Crane
Type: Green
Origin: Japan, Miyazaki Prefecture, Gokase
Product Description: 
Organic seed-grown native cultivar kamairicha from Miyazaki, Gokase, Spring 2020.  Although green tea, in comparison to sencha it presents a much stronger fragrance due to it being parched instead of steamed during the first stage of manufacturing.
Temperature: 175° F-208° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 30 seconds-2 minutes

The dry leaves have a savory, toasty, and green aroma.

The liquor is pale green and clear and the aroma is savory with buttery, nutty, and sweet green notes.  The taste is savory, nutty and green with light astringency and a long, refreshing green finish.

This had the pleasant toasty and savory notes I look for in kamairicha, while the flavor had a more bold sencha-like greenness than in other examples I've encountered, providing a unique tasting experience.  Steeping for 2 minutes at 175° F had full-flavored results with the beginnings of astringency and a slightly shorter steeping time of 1.5 minutes maintains the flavor while reducing the astringency.  I especially enjoyed the results when steeping at 208° F for 20-30 seconds which produced full flavor, increased the toastiness, and almost no astringency.

This tea was received as a backer reward for The Tea Crane's flagship tea shop Kickstarter campaign.





Monday, September 21, 2020

Tea Review: Oolong Tea (Sei Mee Tea)

Oolong Tea
Sei Mee Tea
Type: Oolong
Origin: Japan, Kagoshima Prefecture
Product Description: 
Full-bodied, malty & brisk yet round & sweet with a hint of floral note: This unique tea is skilfully made by an experienced Japanese tea maker using 75% oxidized tea leaf, offering you the best qualities from Oolong Tea and Black Tea.
Temperature: 208° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 3 minutes

The dry leaves have an aroma of roasted nut shells.

The bright red liquor has an aroma of stone fruit, smoke, and malt while the taste has notes of fruit, smoke, and roasted nut shells.  

This is a heavily oxidized oolong, very nearly a black tea, with notes reminding me of roasted nuts sold in the cooler seasons.  The best flavor is in the first two infusions, though a third infusion is still enjoyable.

This tea was provided as a free sample without guarantee of a review.




Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Tea Review: Instant Dark Tea (Hua Lai Jian)

Instant Dark Tea/速溶黑茶
Hua Lai Jian/湖南华莱健黑茶
Type: Heicha
Origin: China, Hunan Province, Anhua
Product Description: Not provided.

Temperature: 208° F
Tea Amount: .5 gram (single)
Water: 6 ounces

The dry powder has a sweet aroma of heavily roasted nuts.

The red-brown liquor is clear with a sweet aroma of roasted chestnuts.  The taste is mild with wood and caramelized sugar notes at the back and a long roasty finish.

The powder required no stirring.  The smell was unusual for heicha, yet nice.  The taste was very mild, though the notes at the back of the mouth were intriguing.  It's quite handy, packaged in single servings with no stirring and no cleanup necessary, ideal for a quick and easy cup of tea on the road.  While I have my doubts that heicha enthusiasts would enjoy this, I'm glad to see continued innovation.

I received this sample during a presentation at World Tea Expo.  At the time of this review, it is not available in the North American market.

This tea was provided as a free sample without guarantee of a review.




Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Tea Review: Sticky Rice Puerh Tuocha (Star Tea Shop/Yubang)

Sticky Rice Puerh Tuocha/糯米香普洱沱
Star Tea Shop/Yubang/域邦普洱
Type: Puerh
Origin: China, Yunnan Province
Product Description:  Not provided.

Temperature: 208° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 2-3 minutes

The dry leaves have an aroma of aged wood and sweet rice.

The dark amber infusion has a green herbal/floral aroma with notes of starchy rice and root vegetables.  The taste is mildly astringent, green, and floral/herbal with notes of nut shells and a long, savory-sweet rice-like finish.

This was my first experience with a sticky rice puerh and the results definitely live up to the name.  I especially enjoyed the lengthy sweet rice finish that is quite a contrast to the herbal greenness of the initial sip.  For those who prefer a strongly brewed sheng puerh, 2-3 minute steepings work out very well.  For those like myself who prefer something a little less bold, a 1 minute steeping still produces full-flavored results.  While Star Tea Shop has closed for business, there are many other great sources for this and similarly produced Sticky Rice Puerh.

This tea was purchased by me.





Monday, September 7, 2020

Tea Review: Bai Lin Kung Fu Classic Red Tea (Shang Tea)

Bai Lin Kung Fu Classic Red Tea/白琳功夫
Shang Tea
Type: Black
Origin: China, Fujian Province, Fuding County
Product Description: 
Hearty and flavorful, this tea brews a complex flavor, crisp finish and brews a deep traditional red tea hue. This tea is harvested from a white tea varietal, which offers a smooth finish to a fermented tea.
Temperature: 208° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 3 minutes

The dry leaves have a sweet aroma with notes of honey and nut shells.

The dark copper red infusion has a rich and roasty aroma with notes of chestnuts, caramel, and fruit.  The taste has notes of roasted nut shell, fruit, and hints of malt and caramelized sugar with a long roasty finish.

This black tea was produced using white tea leaves (Da Bai/Da Hao) and perhaps that plays into this tea's longevity.  This is a rather old sample and I had no expectations for it, so I was surprised and delighted by the depth and complexity in flavor and aroma that it still holds today.  If it's still this good several years along, I can only imagine how impressive it must be when fresh.

This tea was received as a gift from a third party.




Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Tea Review: Black Tea/Hwang Cha (Wooree Tea)

Black Tea/Hwang Cha
Wooree Tea
Type: Black
Origin: South Korea, Hadong
Product Description:
Wooree Tea's Black Tea comes from the Hadong region of south west South Korea. Hadong is recognised as the best tea growing region of South Korea. Our tea is grown semi-wild in a bamboo forest to maintian the optimal daylight and humidity for the leaves.
Black Tea/Hwang Cha teas are more like oolongs in their wide percentage of oxidation. But since they are oxidized using different processes, they are not the same tea. 
Korean tea makers have adopted and tweaked the Chinese "Yellow Tea" to complement their own processing methods and to make a unique brand of Korean fermented yellow/black tea. There is there is no clear understanding of it outside of Korea. It's not yellow tea or black tea according to ‘standard’ tea processing charts. 
A gentle dusky, smokey flavour, a very unique taste, we know you will enjoy it.
Temperature: 195-208°F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 1.5-2 minutes

The dry leaves have an aroma of ground nuts and brown bread with a hint of cocoa and smoke.

The liquor is orange amber with notes of roasted nuts, brown bread, cocoa, sweet fruit, and a hint of green vine.  The taste has notes of nut shells, cocoa, and something that reminds me a bit of dark brown bread.

Following the seller's recommendation, I treated this like an oolong and steeped it at 195°F which brought out complexity in both flavor and aroma.  I also steeped the tea at 208° for 1.5 minutes which had slightly less complex results, though the dark, rich, roasty and cocoa-tinged results were still rather delightful. 

This tea was purchased by me.




Monday, August 17, 2020

Tea Review: Mi Lan Xiang Oolong (Chao Ji Yun Xiang Tea Co., Ltd)

Mi Lan Xiang Oolong
Chao Ji Yun Xiang Tea Co., Ltd
Type: Oolong
Origin: China, Guangdong Province, Chaozhou
Product Description:  Not provided.

Temperature: 195° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 3 minutes

The dry leaf aroma has notes of flowers, papaya, sweet oats, and wood.

The orange-peach infusion has a sweet fruity aroma and taste reminiscent of apricots with mild astringency and a fruity finish.

This tea is delightfully fruity from aroma to flavor to that long, long finish.  After the first infusion, the color and flavor darkened while the aroma took on pleasant honey notes.  Though I stopped at three infusions, there were several more to look forward to.

At the time that I received this dancong oolong sample, it was only available wholesale.  Hopefully, their teas will soon be available for retail sales.

This tea was provided as a free sample without guarantee of a review.