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Some teas I've enjoyed
These are simply teas I like enough to recommend and to
buy again. It is in no way meant to be comprehensive guide to
tea. It's just here to point people to some tea I like, and show
where I get them. I am a bitter-wimp and brew cooler and shorter
than most. I prefer more sweetness than umami in green teas.
Your tastes may differ from mine, so read on with that in mind.
(not very up to date: check
& tealog on
steepster.com for the latest)
A few recently favorite teas and links to where you can get
them....not in any way intended to be comprehensive, because there are
only so many teas I have had a chance to drink. I like my teas
straight, no milk, lemon or honey, and am also somewhat phobic about
bitter flavors, so don't care for most european style black teas.
I put together some general notes on
how I brew different types of teas here.
I've ordered a lot of tea from Greg over the past two years, and
it has been wonderful fun. His descriptions generally match my
experience with the teas pretty well. Ordering is quick &
easy. I made my first online order from Norbu, but have since
found his teas stand up very well against those from other suppliers.
Diamond Tie Guan Yin, spring (& fall
incredibly sweet, floral, and rich, with
sweetness that lasts through an incredible number of infusions:
and it seems to have nothing in common with my favorite 'old
style' SeaDyke Brand Ti Kuan Yin besides the name. This was the
standout in my first taste tests with samples from several sources.
Holds quite well the the thermos for all day, or shines like a
brewed gongfu style at 185-195 degrees. The fall tea is also
fabulous stuff. This is my favorite tea.
Ali Shan High Mountain Oolong, spring, summer, winter, fall
Has a floral, rich body, like a field of grass in
summertime: the first 'new style' or 'green' oolong I'd tried,
quite a revelation. Delightful in all seasons, sweet and rich,
spring and fall have more stamina than the summer, but all are great.
Infuse typically 185-195 degrees. Haven't tried the 2010 spring
teas yet, but the 2008 winter through 2009 fall have been delightful.
Purple Bud Haiwan Puerh
This one has a strong fruity flavor with the usual puerh
earthiness. It does get bitter if not done right--needs careful
brewing: the first infusions at 205° degrees should be very
you can brew it longer and gentler at lower temps, say 180°s. The
leaves are not very bud-like, however.
White Bud Sheng Puerh, 2007
This is a fabulous combination of smoky and
fruity, with the earthy notes more in the background than most puerhs.
I adore it excessively. It's sold out now.
Lao Mansa Sheng Puerh, 2009
I bought a beeng of this one to watch it age,
because it has a wonderful fruity sweetness, but if my brewing is off,
there is also a strong bitter component. I'd like to see how the
flavors change over time. My biggest problem with this one is
that once I start brewing a little bit of it, I want to keep going, and
it's hard to remember that the point is to save enough to watch changes
Yunnan Mao Feng Green Tea
This is a gorgeous green tea that brews almost like an oolong--multiple
infusions, with a certain warmth and depth of flavor I associate with
oolongs, but also green tea freshness. Very forgiving and
beautiful everyday tea.
Yi Wu Bamboo Aged Sheng Puerh, 2008
This is a remarkable sweet, mellow, delicate young puerh.
It has gone over very well when I shared it with a group of tea
drinkers at work, including those who have no idea what puerh is.
Always a winner.
Jin Xuan Green Tea from Taiwan
From the Jin Xuan cultivar usually used for oolong, but a green tea
version. Delicious green tea with a bit of an oolong flavor to
Black Ruby Black Tea From Taiwan
Only one brewing so far and already I am in love. Fruity--sweet,
a hint of tart, plum/raspberry flavors, no bitterness whatsoever, and
Zairai Honyama Sencha
A lovely nutty sencha, a little deeper roasted than many.
Tai Di (Old Plantation) Qing Xin
I enjoy this as a deep roasted tea with a little finer
flavor and body than my long-standing SeaDyke red label Ti Kuan
Yin. It is wonderful for gongfu brewing as well as bulk brewing
and holding in the thermos for hours.
Huang Jin Gui
Lovely sweet and floral oolong, with a first infusion that is most
excellent, although the later infusions don't hold up the way his
Diamond TGY does. Still, it's a beautiful inexpensive tea, and a
lot nicer than most of the other less expensive green oolongs I've
tried, where the flavor is lesser from the very beginning.
San Nen Bancha - 3 Year Aged Bancha -
Toasty, tart, soft, sweet, just lovely mellow evening/bedtime tea.
Wing Hop Fung also
has a sister site, birdpick.com
I buy from the brick & mortar store near me in Chinatown,
and availability differs from that on either web site. The
descriptions in English are often a bit tricky to parse, and they have
quite a price range, and from cheap to very expensive bulk and packaged
generally stick to the fancier bulk teas, and most have been excellent.
I haven't done an online order with either store.
Supreme Wuyi Big Red Robe
This is toasty dark oolong with some sweet fruity aftertaste,
and tolerates long storage in my thermos before drinking--a good tea
for the road. Brew it 185-200 degrees, but watch the first few
infusions if working at higher temps--can get close to bitter.
Premium Organic Dragon's Well Green
It took me quite a while to 'get' this tea--but finally figured
out a combination of temperature (160s) and brewing time (30", 10",
30", etc) that really bring out the sweet and the nutty with little
bitterness & virtually no astringency.
Precious Rare White Tea from Anji
This is a
gorgeous tea with delicate green needles, and brewed at low
temperatures (150-160°F) for several short infusions, makes a
floral, sweet, and delicately vegetal tea. Fabulous stuff.
Royal Silver Dragon White Tea
It looks a lot like a Bi Lo Chun, but it's a white tea, sweet,
delicate, and very very nice. Brewing 160 degrees, 30-60 seconds,
can get many infusions out of it.
After a tasting class at the store, I asked for
recommendations for a couple of starter "Dan Cong" style oolongs and
bought some of the Honey Orchid and the Ba Xiang. Both have a
similar flavor profile--fruity, with just enough
roasted flavor to give a base for the fruity sweet flavors. Quite
distinct from the roasted earthy oolongs like Big Red Robe and the old
style Ti Kuan Yin, and also utterly unlike the very floral new-style
greener oolongs. My next visit, I picked up a few more....
08 Honey Orchid Phoenix Oolong
Not a 'single bush' but a related and lovely oolong.
gram in a small gaiwan or yixing yields many delicious steepings at
07 Ba Xiang Eight Immortals Dan Cong
This one is a 'single bush' oolong.
Delightful. Steep similar to the honey orchid.
07 Po Tou Ginger Flower Fragrance
Phoenix Dan Cong Oolong
This one is sweet, tart, and spicy. Love it. Have gotten
25+ infusions out of it. Steep similar to the honey orchid.
09 Wu Ye Dark Leaf Phoenix
Dan Cong Oolong
This tea comes from the seeds of the Ginger Flower
Fragrance plant. It's more assertive and I've had to toss some
infusions because it gets bitter easily. Still haven't found the
sweet spot for it.
09 Kan Tou - Stone Wall Edge
Phoenix Dan Cong Oolong
A delicious and mellow Dan Cong. Fruity, warm, caramel notes, but
still Dan Cong with some assertiveness too.
Only one order from them so far, and I have been very pleased.
Wu Liang Mountain "Oriental
Beauty" Oolong Tea (Wild Arbor tea from Yunnan, in the Taiwanese style)
Fruity and delightful, a lot of the wonderful things promised by
the smell of black teas, without the bitterness, unless brewed too
hot--it is just possible to get an unpleasant infusion if using a lot
of leaf and near boiling water, but you have to work at it. Back
off a little again, and you're golden.
2007 Menghai "Golden Needle
White Lotus" Ripe Pu-erh
Mellow warm caramel brew, thick and delicious. A clear favorite
'ripe' or 'shu' puerh category. Takes varied heat and brewing
stride and is just always pleasant. Generally water just off the
Jade Pole Yunnan Green Tea
This is a slick looking tea made for brewing in a glass pot, so you can
watch the long spindles of intact leaves open up. Sweet, vegetal,
delightful for eyes, nose and mouth.
2007 Rui Cao Xiang 'Wu Liang
Wild Arbor' Sheng
Warm, rich, mildly sweet flavor, some depth to it with caramel notes,
when brewed 'western style'; haven't yet done a proper gongfu version.
2005 'Early Spring' Sheng Tuo Pu-erh
Tea by Menghai Tea Factory
Smoky, sweet, earthy, spicy: very nice.
Jing Tea Shop
I ordered a group of samples to try them out, and have been quite
impressed by the quality. Good stuff, and friendly service.
Huo Shan Huang Ya Yellow Tea
interesting and beautiful tea, something between a yellow and a green,
sweet, with a rich liquor, and good through many infusions.
Bi Luo Chun AAA Green Tea
Another sweet and wonderful green tea.
Imperial Shih Feng Long Jing
A very pricey but quite impressive Dragon Well green tea. A
special tea for special occasions.
Xiang Hua Tie Guan Yin
A brilliant TGY that is quite as good as my favorite 'Diamond grade'
I e-mailed the shop to get advice on
senchas with a lighter flavor profile than the strong umami that many
people prefer. I liked all four Dan picked for me, and have
reordered these a couple more times.
The long elegant needles of the leaves of this one have the
richest sweet scent, and the tea is terrific too
This is probably the lightest and sweetest, might be
my favorite as a tea
The Cultured Cup
I have participated in several tastings on egullet.org's tea forum, and
though the online listings are not extensive, the store has a much
wider selection of teas, and the ones I've tried have all been
Lemon Myrtle Rooibos
Love the brilliant lemon and earthy spicy rooibos mix. Fabulous
Yin Zhen Silver Needle White Tea
So much better than the two other versions I've had that it's
hard to believe it's the same tea. Wow. Fruity and
delicious. Terrific with chocolate.
A lovely mellow sencha.
A terrific toasty roasty sweet and mellow tea--very good for an
evening, before bedtime. Lovely stuff.
Got this one as a sample and was quite impressed by the
exceptional sweetness of it.
Hankook Tea and Chasaengwon brick &
mortar store in Koreatown
Hydrangea leaf or Gamro tea
Wonderful sweet, sweet leaf. It's quite pricey by the ounce, but
wow, one or two leaves go a long way--a full pint or quart of tea from
Hwang Cha, "oolong" or "yellow" tea
very nice tea that reminds me of the Yunnan Oriental Beauty--strongly
floral and fruity, but so expensive that I probably won't replace it
when it's gone. For the price, I'd want more of a 'wow'.
I used to drink quite a bit of their stuff from the shelves of a
local gourmet market, but the variety was always very limited (vs their
online store), and I've found other suppliers who have more of what I
prefer now. Their flavored teas can be overpowering--I had to cut
the peach blossom white tea in half with silver needle or other plain
white tea, but when I did, I really enjoyed it.
Golden Yunnan Black
Fruity and not bitter; these yunnans are the only black
teas I really enjoy, and this is a solidly pleasing version.
They seem to have more depth in the Assam tea offerings, with
more limited selections of the chinese teas I drink. Just not
enough to draw me back regularly, though I have no complaint about the
teas I've bought there.
Royal Golden Yunnan Xtra Fancy
The first black tea I liked. Fruity, sweet, earthy
not bitter. Brewed just off the boil. Brilliant with
osmanthus leaf. This convinced me that not all black teas are
Aged Loose Puerh 1992
Sweet and fruity, and only a little earthy. Mellow and
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