(Tea Provided For Review)
I decided to try this Sakura Phoenix tea today because it felt the most interesting of my samples as it is a Chinese oolong mixed with pickled Japanese cherry blossoms. I am not sure if I have ever had a tea like this before; I have had both Chinese Oolongs and pickled cherry blossoms, but never blended together. M&K to describes this as:
M&K's is proud to offer our exclusive Sakura Phoenix tea! We take the famous Feng Huang Chinese oolong tea picked from wild and independent (Dancong) tea bushes growing on the mountainside, and combine the tea with pickled Japanese cherry blossoms, which retain their unique cherry scent straight from the tree they were picked from in Kyoto, Japan. Sakura Phoenix tea combines tastes of honey and cherry blossoms with an aroma of garden orchids.
Dry Leaves: The dry leaves smell strongly of salt which is not surprising, I am a little disappointed that I could not smell any of the base Dancong. As for the tea leaves they are pretty typical of Dancongs, mostly dark brown although there are hints of yellows and greens. As for the pickled cherry blossoms they are in pretty good shape.
Brewing Time: Twenty Seconds
Flavor: Orchid, Almonds, Salt and Floral
Tasting Notes: I was not planning on steeping this for as long as I did, but I had a bit of a problem with my camera, I’ve had problems with my camera not focusing on liquids before, but nothing like today. Anyways I hope you like out of focused blurry images; because that is what you are in for today. Nevertheless this is a very interesting tea, but first I must admit I did rinse this tea quite a lot; I did three rinses each for five seconds with boiling water to get most of the salt off.
This is a very sweet tea although if you are expecting a strong cherry taste you may want to look for a tea blended with hibiscus instead of pickled cherry blossoms, nevertheless I rather enjoyed it. I suspect most of the sweetness comes from the cherry blossoms, as the base tea has a lot of heartier tastes. This sort of reminds me of a Mi Lan Xian for some reason. Anyways I decided to describe this as both Floral and having and Orchid flavor because when I brewed this tea it had a very noticeable Orchid taste and a slightly murky floral aftertaste.
Brewing Time: Thirty Seconds
Flavor: Orchid, Almond, Peach, Salt and Floral
Tasting Notes: Like the last infusion there is not much of an aroma which is quite a shame, because I suspect the base tea may have a nice aroma, I already mentioned the base tea reminds of a Mi Lan Xian since the Dancong flavors are starting to become stronger.
I prefer this infusion over the last since the salty flavor is starting to wane although more of the base tea and cherry blossom to shine, although the contrast is disappearing as well.
Brewing Time: Forty-five Seconds
Aroma: Salt and Floral
Flavor: Floral, Almond, Peach and Honey
Tasting Notes: I am sad to say the Orchid flavor is gone; instead it started to become indistinct from the murky floral aftertaste although it was rather interesting to have a very strong murky floral flavor and aftertaste. I am happy to say the salty notes are gone entirely, but I feel the pickled cherry blossoms were perhaps a little too salty I feel I missed out a lot the delicate early flavors. As for the flavors they are pretty much as strong as the previous infusion, but with some new honey notes, although without the salty contrast they feel much stronger. From here on out the almond and honey notes start to shine and the floral notes disappear around the sixth infusion.
At the time of writing this M&K is currently selling 42.5g for $7.29 which seems fair although I’d be happier to pay more for 50g. My major criticism of this tea is the pickled cherry blossoms. While I did rinse this three times I feel it was a little too salty especially considering that I actually remembered to rinse it, I have had pickled cherry blossoms before, but I don’t remember them being this salty. I have a sneaking suspicion the cherry blossoms blended in this tea were intended for confectionaries rather than for tea, but at the same time I have not seen pickled cherry blossoms that looked as nice as these did. And then there is the possibility that I just had a very salty sample. I think this is worth checking out, especially if you do not drink a lot of straight teas, I imagine this would be a nice transition from flavored to straight teas since I could actually taste the tea. I have had a couple Cherry blossom flavored teas before, although they have all had green tea bases and blended with hibiscus and cherry flavoring, but this in my opinion is a much better tea.