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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 my cupboard & 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.  

Norbu Tea
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 too)
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 diamond 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, the 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 short, or 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 with time.

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 it.  

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 delicious.  Mmm.

Zairai Honyama Sencha
A lovely nutty sencha, a little deeper roasted than many.

Lao 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 - Medium Roast
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 teas.  I 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 Tea

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.

Tea Habitat

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.   1 gram in a small gaiwan or yixing yields many delicious steepings at 185-195 degrees.

07 Ba Xiang Eight Immortals Dan Cong Phoenix Oolong
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.

Yunnan Sourcing
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 in the 'ripe' or 'shu' puerh category.  Takes varied heat and brewing time in stride and is just always pleasant.  Generally water just off the boil.

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
A very 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' from Norbu.  

  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.

Sayamakaori Shincha
The long elegant needles of the leaves of this one have the richest sweet scent, and the tea is terrific too

Honoyama Shincha

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 excellent.  

Lemon Myrtle Rooibos
Love the brilliant lemon and earthy spicy rooibos mix.  Fabulous herbal tisane.

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.

Sencha Select

A lovely mellow sencha.  

Dens Tea

Tencha-Kuki Hojicha

A terrific toasty roasty sweet and mellow tea--very good for an evening, before bedtime.  Lovely stuff.

Sencha Shin-ryoku
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 that.  

Hwang Cha, "oolong" or "yellow" tea
It's a 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'.

Rishi  Tea
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.

Chado Tea
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 evil.

Aged Loose Puerh 1992
Sweet and fruity, and only a little earthy.   Mellow and pleasing.

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