Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Tea Review: Organic Boseong Black Tea (Boseong Woonhae Tea Plantation)

Organic Boseong Black Tea
Boseong Woonhae Tea Plantation
Type: Black
Origin: South Korea, Boseong
Product Description: Not provided.

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

The dry leaves have a floral and fragrant wood with notes of something similar to muscatel, reminding me slightly of Darjeeling.

The coppery orange infusion has a sweet aroma of baked fruit (persimmon?) and flowers.  The taste is almost sugar sweet, though not cloyingly so, with a long, sweet, floral finish.

This tea held up fairly well through three infusions.  After the first infusion, the floral notes in flavor and aroma had become prominent and the finish became dryer.

At this time, Boseong Woonhae Tea Plantation does not have an website.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Tea Review: Guava Smoked Thyolo Moto (Tea & Whisk)

Guava Smoked Thyolo Moto
Tea & Whisk
Type: Flavored Black
Origin: Malawi, Thyolo District
Product Description: Thyolo Moto is a black tea from Malawi. The tea leaves are handpicked, and allowed to fully oxidize to create a black tea. Afterwards, the finished tea is smoked over guava wood to impart an incense-like, smoky flavor.

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

The dry leaf aroma is heavy with smoke and reminds me of savory smoked foods.

The bright red-orange infusion has a bold smoky aroma with notes of baked tropical fruit underneath.  The taste is smoky and intriguingly salty (a phantom flavor- there is no salt) with a fruit-sweet finish and little to no astringency.

I was pleasantly surprised to be able to distinguish the taste of the black tea within the smoke.  Though this tea was ideal for my tastes at three minutes, it could easily be steeped longer for good results.  The best flavor is in the first cup while a second infusion is less complex yet still enjoyable.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Tea Review: Sakura Wood Smoked Black Tea (Kaneroku Matsumoto Tea Garden/Yunomi)

Sakura Wood Smoked Black Tea/燻製紅茶
Yunomi/Kaneroku Matsumoto Tea Garden
Type: Flavored Black
Origin: Japan, Shizuoka Prefecture, Shimada
Product Description: Black tea smoked with wood from the sakura or Japanese cherry blossom tree. No flavorings or additives used.

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

The dry leaves have a smoky aroma with a faint floral hint of sakura (cherry blossoms).

The deep red infusion has a heady aroma of smoke with a faintly sweet note of sakura.  The taste is smoky, though not overpoweringly so, mildy astringent and mouth-watering with the same faint notes of sakura. 

Matsumoto-san is pioneering smoked teas in Japan and it has been fascinating to experience the unique characteristics that result from different sources of wood smoke.  I've had some exposure to sakura-infused food and drink and I found hints of those familiar notes in this tea.  Though the first two infusions had the fullest flavor, a third infusion was also enjoyable.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Tea Review: Eros (Tealeaves)

Type: Flavored Black
Origin: Sri Lanka
Product Description: Sweet Mandarin orange and warm vanilla passionately embrace Ceylon black tealeaves in this sensory delight named after the Greek God of love and beauty, giving you that warm feeling in every sip.

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

The dry leaves have an aroma of orange and vanilla.

The bright red infusion has an aroma of sweet vanilla and orange with a taste that reminds me of orange sherbert (ice cream) with mild astringency and a long finish.

The aroma was curiously mild and yet this tea was flavorful with the taste of orange and vanilla right in front.  It felt a bit like drinking dessert without the dietary repercussions.  Though the full flavor is in the first cup, a second infusion still holds a surprising amount of flavor.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Tea Review: Naturally Grown Wakayama Aged Japanese Black Tea (Dokodemosora/Yunomi)

Naturally Grown Wakayama Aged Japanese Black Tea/どこでもそら 和紅茶
Yunomi/Dokodemosora (どこでもそら)
Type: Black
Origin: Japan, Fukuoka Prefecture, Yame
Product Description: Tea farmer Dai Oizumi creates this black tea from his second flush Yabukita leaf harvest in late June, and ages it at least half a year before release.

Temperature: 208° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 3-5 minutes

The dry leaves have an aroma of pepper, fragrant wood, and faint hints of citrus and vanilla.

The red infusion has a sweet and tart aroma of baked fruit and caramelized sugar.  The taste is malty and sweet, light on astringency with a long sweet finish. 

Due to purposeful aging, this is a fairly mellow black tea that doesn't turn bitter with a longer steeping time.  I liked it at 3 minutes and I loved it at 5 minutes.  It stayed pleasantly sweet throughout three infusions with some interesting baked yam notes appearing by the second infusion.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Tea Review: Devan's Legacy Chai (Chado Tea)

Devan's Legacy Chai
Chado Tea
Type: Flavored Black
Origin: India
Product Description: Chai was introduced into US mainstream culture by Devan Shah in the early 1990s. Devan enjoyed chai daily and always love spending tea time with friends near and far. To capture the essence of Devan's innovative spirit we have created a new blend to share with you. Devan was a legacy in the tea world and we hope that this tea creates fond lasting memories of Devan with each sip.

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

This blend includes black tea, green cardamom, cardamom seeds, lemongrass, and vanilla flavor.

The bright red infusion has a sweet aroma with notes of vanilla at the front, followed closely by lemongrass and cardamom.  The taste is sweet, mildly astringent and has a long refreshingly cool finish.

While a 3-minute steeping brought out results that I found most pleasant, a longer steeping of 5-minute would bring out a bit more astringency for those that prefer something bolder.   I would not recommend preparing this particular chai blend with milk or sugar as it would likely mask the flavors and you would miss out on that refreshing, almost minty finish.  

This chai blend was purchased from Chado Tea at the Northwest Tea Festival and is not currently available online.  

To learn more about the man who introduced chai to the US and inspired so many people in the tea industry, please visit Devan Shah's memorial website.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Tea Review: Dark Hunan (Encore Chocolates & Teas)

Dark Hunan
Encore Chocolates & Teas
Type: Heicha
Origin: China, Hunan Province
Product Description: Not provided.

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

The dry leaves have an aroma of dried fruit, wood, smoke, and moss.

The orange amber infusion has an earthy aroma with notes of warm fruit and something unusual that reminds me of both baking bread and yogurt.  The taste is mild and earthy with notes of black pepper and a hint of sweetness.  

The liquor became cloudy and the aroma bolder in the second infusion, mellowing slightly by the third.  

Monday, February 12, 2018

Tea Review: Gyokuro (Sakamoto Organic Tea LLC)

Sakamoto Organic Tea LLC
Type: Green
Origin: Japan, Kagoshima
Product Description: Not provided.

Temperature: 140° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 1 minute

The dry leaves have a savory broth-like aroma with notes of nuts (macadamia), grass, and minerals.

The jade green infusion has an aroma rich with umami as well as green, nutty, and mineral notes.  The taste is rich, nutty, and filled with umami with a refreshing cool green finish.  

Reducing the steeping time following the first infusion to 30 seconds brought out full flavor, deeper color and thicker liquor.  Mild astringency developed in the second infusion and by the third infusion, the nutty umami notes had stepped back and a fresh spring green flavor took over.  Adjusting steeping time to taste, I would expect to get at least two more flavorful infusions from this gyokuro.

The producer, Mr. Sakamoto, doesn't have a website, but he can be reached by email at

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Tea Review: Goishicha (Nagao Kitamura/Yunomi)

Nagao Kitamura/Yunomi
Type: Dark
Origin: Japan, Kochi Prefecture, Otoyo
Product Description: Autumn harvest.  Post-fermented and made into bricks.

Temperature:  Rolling boil (~212° F)
Amount: 4 grams tea in 1 liter water
Simmering Time: 7 minutes

The dry leaves have an aroma of prunes, dates, and nuts.

The golden-peach infusion has a mildly sweet aroma of baked prunes.  The taste has notes of prunes, dates, and a hint of sesame with a sweet date-like finish.

I've prepared farmer Kitamura's goishicha a few times with pleasant results and the bricks can range in weight between approximately 2-4 grams.  The directions recommend boiling the tea for 10 minutes and I suggest boiling to taste.  At 5 minutes, the results were sweet while being a little too mild and a 7 minute boil brought out a good balance of flavor, sweetness, and a faint echo of tartness.  Boiling in .5 liter of water would have bolder results.  Though I haven't encountered this yet, I have heard that this tea can be sour in which case it's recommended that the tea be chilled before serving.  

Friday, January 26, 2018

Tea Review: Makaibari 2nd Flush 2016 (Silver Tips)

Makaibari 2nd Flush 2016
Silver Tips
Type:  Black
Origin:  India, Darjeeling, Makaibari Estate
Product Description:  A classic 2nd flush muscatel tea from the Makaibari Estate - the pioneers of biodynamic tea farming in the world. This tea has a pronounced floral bouquet, with nutty and pungent notes in the cup and is one of our most popular selections.

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

The dry leaves have a sweet and heady aroma of muscat grapes with a hint of nut shells.

The orange amber infusion has a full floral aroma with sweet honey undertones.  The taste is moderately astringent and sweet with defined muscatel and floral notes and a dry finish.

The first infusion was full in flavor and aroma with the tea mellowing as the muscatel notes took a step back with each subsequent infusion.  By the third infusion, the flavor had become light, playful and enjoyable in its own way.