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This tea is a flavored oolong. The dry leaf of this tea smells amazing. It smells like butterscotch candy, caramel and fresh birthday cake. That smell made me want to taste this tea immediately! The tea liquor was darker than I was expecting, it was a darker golden color, and smelled sweet and roasted with some very prominent burnt sugar overtones.
The taste of this tea is much milder than I was expecting, especially with such a powerful caramel overtones in both the dry leaf and the tea liquid. The caramel flavor is strongest on the front part of the my palate, as the tea is first entering my mouth for a sip, while I can still smell the caramel streaming up from the cup. The oolong flavors in this tea pair nicely with the caramel flavors. These oolong flavors I get are some roasted flavors and some floral notes are prominent as well. There was also a hint of vegetal flavor, but I get much more buttery creaminess that I tasted in this oolong, which twists and turns amazingly with the caramel flavors in my mouth.
The second steep of this tea was not nearly as caramel heavy as the first. The caramel flavor was more subdued, there was still a very subtle sweetness to the tea.I really liked this tea, and I really like that it was more of a scented tea than a flavored tea. The flavors of the caramel were not artificial in taste at all, and tasted excellent paired with the oolong! I would definitely consider buying this tea, and it would be great to unwind with on a cold winter night.
Brand: Chicago Tea Garden Zealong Dark
Tea Rating: 95/100
Steep Time: 45 second steeps;adding 15 seconds to each steep time.
Steep Temperature: 190 Degrees
Price: 50 grams for $13.75 / 75 grams for $20.25
I bought all three of New Zealand Oolong Teas from Chicago Tea Garden back in August, when Tony started sourcing the teas to sell! It is always exciting to learn of a new up and coming tea producing region. Chicago Tea Garden is an online tea retailer that was started by Tony Gebely back in early March of this year, after he backpacked in Southeast Asia. Throughout his backpacking trip Tony came across many different teas,tea culture,and tea farmers,and found that when he got home to Chicago, there was no places that served good quality tea like he had encountered on his trip. That was the beginning of Chicago Tea Garden, and now they offer around 20 different types of high quality teas, which are all special in their own way.
The dry tea of this tea smells like a charcoal grill, with some floral tones mixed in. Honestly, the smell of the leaves can be a little intimidating, but I recommend to go ahead and steep! I started with a 45 second steep and tacked on about 15 extra seconds with each steep. Lets steep the first three cups of Zealong Dark together!
This tea smells like roasted peanut butter, and is very nutty, with a hint of sweetness.The liqour color is a light pale yellow, and the leaves are enormous. I steeped this tea 8 times, and the tea leaves were still not completely unfurled! Zealong Dark has a very clean taste, with some really interesting charcoal notes. The charcoal flavor tastes as if I took some tea in aluminum, and let it sit in my charcoal grill over night, or over a few nights and absorbed the charcoal taste. I really enjoy this charcoal flavor accent. This tea is very refreshing, and just makes me want more and more. There is no astringency, or roasted flavor profile in this oolong. It is mild,creamy and smooth.
Out of the 3 Zealongs, I can’t decide which I like best, I feel like they are all good for different moods and times of the day, as you will learn this week! I will be reviewing Zealong Pure and Zealong Aromatic within the next week, so keep an eye out for both of those reviews!
Check out Chicago Tea Garden on the web:
All photographs included in this post are property of Melissa Wrzesniewsky and are not to be taken,shared, or used without the artists consent. except for the logo, which is property of Tony Gebely and Chicago Tea Garden.
Brand: Naivetea Passion fruit Oolong
Tea Rating: 90/100
Steep Time: 3 minutes
Steep Temperature: 190 Degrees
Price: 2 oz. for $20.00 ~ 4 oz. for $35.00
Naivetea was gracious enough to send Expanding Leaves a plethora of their teas to sample and review! There are some flavored, and some traditional oolongs, but I cannot wait to sip them all! Naivetea specializes in offering only premium oolongs from Taiwan, and boy do they offer quite a few teas! They were also awarded the Flavored Oolong World Tea Champion in 2009! I also really like their packaging, it is elegant and simplistic, with a cohesive theme. Their business card, their company information packet, tea packaging and website all have the same theme, which I really like because it makes you remember the company better as a consumer. Onto the tea!
First impressions of this tea is in the smell. The scent of the dry leaves smells a lot like candy, and smell very sweet. After steeping, the dry leaves and the tea liquor smelled a lot like the Acai Emergen-C vitamin C drink packages. I do not know what Passion fruit smells like, but this tea smelled very sweet, like acai, and had hints of crisp apple and peach in the scent as well.
Now, let’s steep the dry tea leaves! I recorded this tea steeping at I steeped it, I really enjoy watching oolong unfurl, and this one was no different! Enjoy! This will not be the last time you see Expanding Leaves videos of Time Lapse Tea steeps!
The liquor of the tea really smelled very sweet, fruity, and slightly floral as I mentioned above. However, this strong scent did not carry through in the flavor as much. The sweet passion fruit scent really mellowed in the tea.The passion fruit flavor is still there, but it is not nearly as intense as while it was steeping. The tea had a slightly drying mouth feel, as well. What I mean by drying is after I swallow the tea, my mouth feels a bit dry and cotton-y. There is a nice oolong flavor hiding behind all that passion fruit too, which is nice. The oolong flavor makes the tea creamy while in my mouth and smooth while i’m swallowing. I like this tea, but I do wish it was just a bit less passion fruit and a bit more oolong.
I steeped this tea 4 times and imagine it might be able to go even longer than 4 steeps! The tea stood up very well to the subsequent steeps! Something that always impresses me with oolongs especially, is how many steeps you can get out of them and how the flavors morph and change throughout each steep! Throughout each subsequent steep, the passion fruit flavor remains part of the flavor profile, however with each passing steep, it did lessen, while a more rounded sweet and fruity flavor appeared in the subsequent steeps.
Check out Naivetea on the web:
All photographs included in this post are property of Melissa Wrzesniewsky and are not to be taken,shared, or used without the artists consent.
We are very excited to celebrate fair trade month! Not sure what fair trade means? Let us break it down for you…What does fair trade mean? When something is Fair Trade Certified, it protects the environments,through helping farmers and workers to practice sustainable farming,remove dangerous chemical and preserve their land. This is very important when it comes to tea, as you don’t want to be ingesting those harsh chemicals without knowing. Fair Trade gives you the confidence to trust the tea company and the tea farmers, and also reminds you that your tea is socially sustainable as well as environmentally sustainable. The social sustainability goes towards empowering families to keep their children in school,and enables these people with access to health care, and representation. If you want to learn more about Fair Trade Practices and tea, check out Jim at Shui Tea‘s blog post “Soulja Boy Teaches Fair Trade” to go more in-depth! What can you do as a consumer? If you are unsure whether the tea you are buying is fair trade, or sustainably farmed, contact the company and ask, most companies are more than happy to have a customer relationship with you and will answer promptly!
Why Arbor Teas? Their tea catalog of nearly 100 teas are all completely certified organic by the USDA. Roughly two-thirds of those 100 teas are also Fair Trade Certified! “Sustainability is a major focus of our business. We recently became the first (and only) tea company to offer our whole selection of teas in 100% backyard compostable packaging. We’ve also carbon-offset the entire supply chain of our products, from origin to the customer, making Arbor Teas the greenest option for Earth-conscious tea drinkers.”(Arborteas.com)
First things first: This tea is hand rolled with a slight arch to make it look like eyebrows! How Bizzare and intriguing! The dry leaves do look like very tiny eyebrows…maybe for a mouse, or a chipmunk.The dry leaves smell very sweet and grassy. After steeping,the first thing I noticed was that all the leaves almost completely expanded and unfurled! The unfurled leaves are the tea liquor was a medium amber color and smelled almost cinnamon-like, with hints of fruitiness and a darker scent, that reminded me of fresh-baked cinnamon chocolate chip cookies. With a smell like that, I could not wait to taste the tea!
The flavor was very full-bodied in my mouth, and smooth upon swallowing. The taste was a bit astringent and tart,which reminded me of the tart flavor in plums and peaches. I get a very faint sweetness in the tea, but the tart flavor overpowers the sweetness. I also taste a slight hint of smokiness,which reminds me of roasted chestnuts. Finally, the mouth feel is heavy, and full, like you just sipped on melted butter. The slight astringency in the tea left my mouth feeling clean, slightly dry,but overall very refreshed after sipping on the liquor. All these flavors meshed together to create a very pleasant cuppa. I really enjoyed this tea, it was different from other green teas, and I would recommend it to someone who isn’t very fond of the greener, more vegetal teas.
All photographs included in this post are property of Melissa Wrzesniewsky and are not to be taken,shared, or used without the artists consent. The logo is from the google images and is property of Arbor Teas.
We are very excited to celebrate fair trade month! Not sure what fair trade means? Let us break it down for you…What does fair trade mean? When something is Fair Trade Certified, it protects the environments,through helping farmers and workers to practice sustainable farming,remove dangerous chemical and preserve their land. This is very important when it comes to tea, as you don’t want to be ingesting those harsh chemicals without knowing. Fair Trade gives you the confidence to trust the tea company and the tea farmers, and also reminds you that your tea is socially sustainable as well as environmentally sustainable. The social sustainability goes towards empowering families to keep their children in school,and enables these people with access to health care, and representation. If you want to learn more about Fair Trade Practices and tea, check out Jim at Shui Tea’s blog post “Soulja Boy Teaches Fair Trade” to go more in-depth! What can you do as a consumer? If you are unsure whether the tea you are buying is fair trade, or sustainably farmed, contact the company and ask, most companies are more than happy to have a customer relationship with you and will answer promptly!
This is the second tea sample I received from Jim at Shui Tea to review! I am excited to share my review because this tea is delicious! On first smell, this tea embodies a very rich earthiness,both in the dry leaves and in the liquors aroma. First sip..? This tea is bold! I can taste some sweetness,peppery notes and some citrus-y flavors (which may be the tannins o f the tea coming out). I really like the boldness of the tea, and it makes
the tea a great introduction to tea from coffee. The tea has a sweet, creamy flavor, that reminds me of caramelized sugar. This sweetness really balances out the bitter/tannic flavor and makes you want another sip! I steeped this tea 4 times, and as my steeps went on, the bitter tannins went away, and the sweet flavors really came out in the tea. The subsequent steeps also got much milder in flavor, so if you like your black teas bold, I would recommend just steeping this twice, or adding some more tea to the subsequent steeps to keep the bold flavors in play! I really enjoyed both teas that I was given to try from Shui Tea! They were both excellent, and very moderately priced. If you’re looking for good tea, be sure to check out Shui Tea! Also, if you are in the Chicago Area, Jim hosts events from time to time, which most recently has included his Tea Cocktails (tea infused vodka, and Sweet Revenge on a Manhattan to name a few!). You can also schedule your very own tea tasting with Jim, where he brings everything along to have a great tea time at a reasonable price.
All photographs included in this post are property of Melissa Wrzesniewsky and are not to be used without artist authorization(minus the logo,which is property of Shui Tea)
Brand: Shui Tea Four Seasons Oolong
Tea Rating: 86/100
Steep Time: 2-3 minutes
Steep Temperature: 190 Degrees
Price: $5.00 for 1 oz/ $10.00 for 2 oz
This Oolong is sourced from the Ming Jian village, Nantou, Taiwan. This region of Taiwan is very mountainous,with varying elevations and climates, which makes a great tea producing area. This area is also one of the largest tea producing areas in Taiwan. Four Seasons Oolong is also known as Evergreen Oolong, and is very lightly oxidized (5-15%) and is similar to some green teas.
First and foremost, the rolled oolong is beautifully rolled, bright green leaves. They smell slightly floral and have a very heavy fresh scent as well. The color of the liquor is a golden yellow-green color. The best part of the tea is the flavor. This tea is pretty light, but its subtle flavors are fantastic. The first thing that hits me is the fresh, buttery mouth feel, which just paints the tea all over your palette.
The floral aroma of the steeped liquor really enhances the floral flavors in this tea, especially after a few infusions. From the third steep and on, the floral aroma starts to calm down,but the sweet, floral taste is still there with a creamy finish, instead of the buttery flavor found in the first and second infusions. The finish of this tea was a very refreshing flavor, which was menthol like after you swallowed and breathing in. I really enjoyed this tea, and would recommend it to people who are just starting to get into Oolong Teas and are unsure which ones would be best to try. Thank you so much to Jim from Shui Tea for including some samples with my Matcha Bowl Order!
All photographs included in this post are property of Melissa Wrzesniewsky and are not to be used without artist authorization(minus the logo,which is property of Shui Tea)
Brand: Andrews & Dunham Damn Fine Tea
Tea Rating: 80/100
Steep Time: 5 minutes
Steep Temperature: 212 Degrees
Price: $20.00 for two 2 oz tins of tea + tattoos!
Andrews & Dunham Damn Fine Tea recently released their 5th series, which features a The Mermaid’s Kiss, a Chinese scented oolong tea, and Captain Assam’s High Seas Elixer, which is an Assam tea from India. Today I am going to review Captain Assam’s High Seas Elixer (See my review of The Mermaid’s Kiss)!
First, the unsteeped leaves have tiny golden tips on the them, and are brownish in color. The dry leaf didn’t really smell all that much, and similar to the steeped liquor, which smelled like ‘tea’, sort of a tannic,maltn Assam is not very astringent or tannic in character at all, whichy,creamy smell that really can’t be described well. The liquor is a beautiful deep reddish brown.
This is a lighter Assam tea, but does pack that caffeine! I took this with me to my Ancient Philosophy class this morning, and the Captain made my morning. The tea is very much in the vein of a breakfast tea, shown in its lighter flavor profile. It is lightly malty, and creamy. I added some milk this morning to cool the tea off before sipping, and that just made it creamier! Usually, I don’t add milk to any of my teas,but I had to try this one both ways, and I say- go for the milk if you want some extra creaminess! Captai is nice in the morning. It does have that drying mouth feel after you sip, but that isn’t as prominent as its malty and sweet notes! The next time I steep it, I want to see how well it over brews, I have a feeling this one may over-steep and still taste pretty good, since its not as tannic as some other black teas . Overall, I really dig this tea, and the entire Series 5 from Andrews & Dunham Damn Fine Tea.
If you pick this series up, I want to hear your thoughts! Thank you to Erik and Charles for creating yet another enjoyable series!
as always, all photos are property of Melissa Wrzesniewsky and are not to be used or borrowed without artist authorization.
Andrews & Dunham Damn Fine Tea is one of the first high quality teas I tried back in the day. Their dragonwell from series 1 got me hooked on dragonwell for a very long time! I’ve ordered every one of their series since the release of series 1, because they’re customer service is great(not to mention very fast shipping!), their teas are always delicious and the labels on the teas are awesome too! This week’s very first Fresh Friday is Series 5 of Damn Fine Tea, which was released last week, after much anticipation and patience!
Andrews & Dunham Damn Fine Tea recently released their 5th series, which features a The Mermaid’s Kiss, a Chinese scented oolong tea, and Captain Assam’s High Seas Elixer, which is an Assam tea from India. Today, I am going to review The Oolong, and a review of the Assam will be up this weekend. Finally, maybe the funnest part of ordering their teas is the added surprise gift, like an autographed postcard, stickers, a patch, or a set of tattoos, which is this series’ fun gift!
Now onto the tea! I love Oolongs, so I steeped The Mermaid’s Kiss first! I really like this tea, it is a beautiful medium/dark green color in the dried leaves. The dry tea also smells very lightly floral, and is not overpowering. I admire this about the tea, because personally, I do not usually enjoy Jasmine Teas, for they can either be too Floral, or taste fake and flavored. This tea is neither of those things. It smells lightly floral and sweet. I steeped this tea for 5 minutes in 180 degree water, as suggested.
The smell of the steeped liquor was the first thing to hit me. Mind you this was the first tea I got to enjoy after getting over my cold a few day ago, so my experiences and senses may have been heightened from lack of being able to taste and smell tea for a week ;). The smell of the steeped tea was lightly like jasmine flowers,but was sweet, succulent smelling, and intoxicating to my senses, the smell urged me to take a sip each time I got a sniff! Once I took a sip, I was reminded why I had waited to [im]patiently for this series. This oolong is fantastic. It had a pretty thick mouth-feel, and it is as creamy as it comes. Taking a sip, reminded me of taking a bite of a buttery biscuit, where it is both cream and buttery. The flavor is very lightly floral, and fruity. The fruitiness tastes like peaches, or plums, that kind of sweet astringency that you get from those fruits. I really enjoyed this tea, and hope to hear your thoughts if you have picked up this set as well! Thank you to Erik and Charles for creating yet another enjoyable series!
Tea description from Mellow Monk: “This is our top-of-the-line honcha, or traditional green tea. Top Leaf™ Green Tea is specially pampered in its own separate corner of the tea orchard. Not only does this tea receive extra fertilizer (organic, of course) during the growing season, but at harvest time, the growers pick only the top layer of young tea leaves. This tea is always first flush.“
In the package, this tea smells pretty light, but I can smell some light vegetal notes. The steeped liquor is a light green,yellow color, which reminds me of the Ford Fiesta Green Color. The steeped leaves turn from what almost looks like a black tea, to unfurling beautiful small green leaves. The flavor in the first steep is buttery and has a vegetable flavor. The flavor was also pretty citrus heavy, but the slight grassiness in the tea counteracted the citrus notes nicely!
the second steep was pretty acidic, but this time around the grassiness was much more prominent. The second steep has much more of a tannic astringency. It makes my mouth pucker, BUT also makes my mouth very moist, leaving me craving another sip!
The third steep has a flavor of fresh mint, and is refreshing, like a freshly cut cucumber that just came out of the refrigerator! While the butter aspect left me in the second steep, it is back in the third steep. The buttery mouth feel is amazing in this steep, and coats my mouth very well. It leaves my mouth moist and ready for more.
Mellow Monk Tea is a certified green business, located in San Francisco, CA. Their business is certified as sustainable and is a certified Bay Area Green BusinessTo become a green business, Mellow Monk has to go through an evaluation to display how they have ‘green’ed their company. Some of the things Mellow Monk has implemented as day to day business practices are:
- They minimize paper usage by doing all-electronic promotion (no mailings or print catalogs, for instance) and record-keeping, as well as using recycled papers whenever possible for labels, order slips, etc.
- All Mellow Monk growers in Japan are family-owned and -operated, as well as being certified under the Japanese government’s Eco Farmer Program.
- Aso is the perfect natural environment for growing tea — a high elevation, plenty of rain, sunny spring, not-too-hot summer, and cold winter, which allows the plants to hibernate
- The growers also rely on strictly organic fertilizer to supplement the natural richness of Aso’s volcanic soil
Learn more about their sustainability practice here! This is all very exciting, and I love to find companies that include things I love like living ‘greener’ and tea!
find Mellow Monk on:
BUY THIS TEA!
All photographs included in this post are property of Melissa Wrzesniewsky and are not to be taken,shard, or used without the artists consent.
I am usually not a big fan of blended or herbal teas, but I have tried a few of Bourgea Teas’ blends and have been pleasantly surprised! On first glance of this tea, I see many different components to it, and it is so beautiful to look at. This tea includes organic lemon myrtle, juniper, ginger, anise, marigold, and birch leaves — just to name a few! The smell is very licorice heavy, which can be unsettling for some, but I really enjoy the smell of herbs blended together. The tea liquor has a beautiful dark amber color. Unlike the dry tea smell, the steeped tea smells more strongly like lemon. I really like the taste of this tea. The main flavors of the tea are licorice,lemon,pu-erh and rooibos flavors very well! The earthiness of the pu-erh mingles perfectly with the woodiness of the rooibos. Some Rooibos can seem overpowering and woody in flavor,the blend of the two create an interestingly woody/earthy taste that lingers after the initial flavors of the licorice go away. I really enjoyed this tea, and I can see how it can be classified as a tea that is going to cure hangovers, or groggy mornings and make you feel better. I am not usually fond of blends, but this one very well mixed, and is delicious to sip on!
I really admire what Chris has done with Bourgea Tea, on my college campus, in the cafe’s there is very little tea selection.The story of the company is Chris was unsatisfied with the tea selection of the cafe on his college campus and started a project to supply great loose leaf tea to the students around him. He started to make the tea bags by hand and sold them in the cafe. ” BourgeaTEA has never lost the vision of challenging the way people think about tea and its emphasis towards college students and living well.”(BourgeaTea.com) This statement and vision is the reason I started this tea blog. When I started getting into tea, I thought there was a stigma about tea, about that only stuffy people drank tea, but through learning more about tea, and working through the stigma, I found out there is more to tea than that! Check out BourgeaTea, they are doing great things right now in the tea world!an of blends, but Chris did a really fantastic job blending this one.