Thursday, 21 June 2018

Review: Golden Horse

Yet another trip to San Francisco where i spent more time in the Chinatown tea shops than engaging in sightseeing. Maybe I'll see the city on another trip..

Golden Horse was one of the first teas we tasted with Chris, I thought he told us that it was a yellow tea but there was a smoky taste to it that I did not experience with any other yellow tea. For a few days this made me very curious, until a little online research and a lucky reference on a blog pointed me in the right direction.

Golden Horse [China, smoky, black] **** $$$   by Vital Leaf Tea, USA

Other names: Golden Horse Eyebrow, Jin Jun Mei, 

Small leaves, subtle smoky flavour and an uncharacteristic deep golden/brown colour made me wonder if I had remembered correctly what had been said in the shop. Could this really be a yellow tea? It was so unlike other yellow teas that I had experienced.

First clue that I might be on the wrong track was that the label on my tea said "RED TEA". In China, fully oxidised teas are called Red teas, this is what we usually call black tea in the west*. Certainly the colour of the brew would be more characteristic of an oxidised tea. A googlesearch threw up nothing for the term Golden Horse tea (besides a reference to the Vital Leaf website)  but another blog mentioned that it was a shorter version of the full name Golden Horse Eyebrow. 

Eureka! Golden Horse is a version of Lapsong Souchong tea, albeit a very drinkable version as the smoky tones are subtle. Well I'll be damned! 

Its a tea from WuYi region which explained a certain familiar taste as I drink a lot of the WuYi rock teas. This is a very interesting little tea and worth checking out even if you dont like other Lapsong Souchong tea.

* The chinese reserve the term black tea for Pu'erh, a type of aged fermented tea.

Similar Teas: Da Hong Pau, Lapsong Souchong

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Review: Champagne Oolong, Vital Leaf Tea, USA.

San Francisco, Chinatown - Ground Zero for my tea obsession. It was a well timed return to the source of this blog, retracing my steps to Vital Leaf Tea and half hoping to see Kenny, the tea vendor from 2011. I didn't meet Kenny but I did fall into the thrall of Chris, and another fantastic tea exposition.

Shoutout to fellow tea geeks Jason and Elon who shared my time in the shop, and even my milk-and-sugar loving companion Brian learned a thing or two about tea that day, as he gracefully indulged me. 

Champagne Oolong [Taiwan, green, oolong ] *** $$$   by Vital Leaf Tea, San Francisco, USA

Other names: Dong Fang Mei Ren, Oriental Beauty, Bai hao (白毫)東方美人, White Tip Oolong

The smell from the leaves is similar to many of the medium oxidised oolongs I've tried from Taiwan over the years, which are along the lines of Da Hong Pao and Wu Yi styles but not as oxidised as either. This sometimes and indicator for me that the tea will "fall between two stools" of neither being a light green oolong nor a nicely oxidised one. However the champagne oolong has the all the taste of a Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe) 

The colour is a light brown, and it finishes with a subtle sweet note (a little bit like Vital Leaf Tea's Blue People Ginseng Oolong). 

Similar Teas: Te Luo Han, 

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Review: Mi Lan Xiang (Phoenix Dan Cong)

I wandered into TheTeaTee determined I didnt need any new tea. I failed. I saw the leaves and aroma of this tea and thought I had to give it a try. 

Mi Lan Xiang [China, green, oolong] *** $$   by TheTeaTee, Lausanne, CH

Other names: 米蘭香,Honey Orchid, Phoenix Dan Cong
Origin: Phoenix Mountains, Guandong province, China

Almost a citrus notes to dry leaves of this tea but it doesn't get picked up once the tea is brewed, as there is definite floral smell to this tea in the cup. I didn't pick up the orchid at first smell but after having seen the translation of its chinese name I would agree its noticeable. 

This is a semi oxidised oolong as evidenced by nature of its leaves and the brownish colour when brewed, although taste-wise I found it an interesting mix of the strongly oxidised oolongs (such as Wu Yi, Dan Cong) and the less oxidised varieties such as Guan Yin. It has a distinctly green oolong after taste, although the first flavours are like typical woody oolongs. 

Very interesting little tea and a good price!

See Also:  Rui Gui, Guan Yin

Review: Kekecha

Try as I might, I can't avoid tea shops and it was quite risky for me to go near Chinatown while in London. i resisted but finally gave in to the temptation of a yellow yea in a fabulous little tea shop near Covent Garden.

This tea was newly arrived at the shop when I bought it and doesnt seem to be listed on their website yet, but from other tea providers, it seems that kekecha is from Fuijan.

Kekecha [China, yellow, grassy] **** $   by The Tea House , London, UK

Other names: ??

The leaves are quite twiggy looking when dry but unfurl into Smokey and mineral nose on the wet leaves, its a nice smooth yellow tea with a deep golden yellow colour. Be careful not to steep it too long as, I found, that it more quickly developed a bitter note when oversteeped than other yellow teas. 

Typical of yellow teas, its very easy drinking and the quality-to-price on this tea was very good. Very slight smoky taste to this tea. 

See Also: Yellow Mountain Fur Peak

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Review: Kenilworth Tea

I didn't go into Marriage Freres looking for a black tea, but I had really enjoyed the tea I bought in Sri Lanka and was in the market for something similar....

Kenilworth [Sri Lanka, Black] ***** $   by Marriage Freres , Paris, FR

Other names: 

This tea is immediately distinctive on the nose, with a pronounced very pleasant orangey smell. I really liked this tea, as normal for a hilly black tea its very light taste and has a light brown colour. Kenilworth stands out in a subtle warm spice notes (cinnamon perhaps?) and an ever so slight bitter finish note. 


See Also: Darjeeling, Niligiri, Rwandan Black teas

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Review: Huang Shan Mao Feng

I found some more of my mystery tea in Switzerland, and it was just as good.

Huang Shan Mao Feng [China, green, grassy] ***** $$   by Langassetee , Bern, CH

Other names: Yellow Mountain Fur Peak, 

Same soothing taste and beautiful green colour to this tea, but lacked the chocolate nose of its counterpart from a chinese company (reviewed in 2016). Overall a top tea and great value for money. Recommended.

See Also: Main Review for this tea

Review: Lune D'Or by Marraige Freres, Paris

A chance visit to Paris on the eve of the Presidential Election sent me searching for some good tea shops. The French have always favored style over substance, and though the teas at Mariage Freres are excellent, I'm not so much excited by their penchant for giving Chinese tea varietals their own "romantic" names. I like to know what I'm drinking!!!

Lune D'Or Yellow Tea [China, yellow, grassy] *** $$$   by Marraige Freres , Paris, FR

Other names: ??

Like most yellow teas, this is an exceptionally delicate flavored tea which will need a longer drawing time to show a distinct flavor. The wet leaves have a gorgeous bouquet but I found the tea itself wasn't as complex in the drinking as the nose would suggest. Clean, slightly grassy taste, without a hint of bitterness. A soft likeable tea and I wish I knew what type it was....

As the temps are hitting 36C this week, I'm trailing this leaf as a cold tea and seeing how it works.  

Similar Teas: Bai Mu Dan, Yellow Teas