What-Cha - Discover Vietnam Part 1

I’ve been sitting on these samples for a while and finally decided to try them. I bought the Discover VietnamSampler from What-cha and while I am not that interested in the Wild Black or Wild Dark teas, I am not sure if I’ll include my thoughts on those in the second part.

Vietnam Red Buffalo Oolong
Origin: Moc Chau, Son La Province, Vietnam
Elevation: 1000m+

Dry Leaves: This was the tea that was the most interesting, for some reason it reminds me of a dark roast TGY. It has a lot more red and browns then the picture suggests, although the leaves are predominantly black.

Temperature: 194oF
Brewing Time: One Minute (adding thirty seconds each subsequent infusion)
Aroma: Charcoal and Oak
Flavor: Charcoal, Smoke, Floral, Honey, Cinnamon and Malty
Tasting Notes:  I didn’t like this at first, it felt too much like a dark TGY. While I am not a big fan of darker oolongs, but with each sip it grew on me. The initial charcoal taste was a little off-putting, at first I couldn’t taste anything else, but I started to taste a smoky honey taste. It is a little reminiscent of a purple tea; it has a nice smoky edge that gets stronger with each subsequent steeping while the charcoal taste grows weaker. This has a nice staying power; I got seven infusions out of this before I started to notice a considerable loss of flavor.

This was the tea that I was the most excited for, even though I prefer greener oolongs, and while it is not my favorite it is quite nice. It did take me a couple steepings to appreciate this tea, but at $9.60 for 50g it is definitely worth it. I may or may not buy this again, I don’t like having a lot of dark teas, but I could see myself buying this again if I don’t care for the new Indonesian TGY has sourced. 

Vietnam Flowery Oolong
Origin: Moc Chau, Son La Province, Vietnam
Elevation: 1000m

Dry Leaves: The leaves looked fairly typical of floral oolongs although there was quite a bit of stems showing which was nice. In my experience the floral oolongs with stems tend to be of a higher quality than the floral oolongs that are just leaves (think Beautiful Taiwan Tea’s DaYuLing). Although the pellets were really small.

Temperature: 194oF
Brewing Time: One Minute (adding one minute each subsequent infusion)
Aroma: Floral
Flavor: Floral, Honey and Raw Sugar Cane
Tasting Notes: This is definitely a filler tea. I don’t mean this in a bad way, but it is a very non-offensive tea that I could easily see this blended in with a Taiwanese High Mountain Oolong. I’ve been hearing for years that Taiwanese farmers mix their oolongs with cheaper teas of equal quality from Vietnam and Thailand, and never really believed it until now.

While this is a very good flowery oolong, I am not sure if I would buy it again even though it is easily worth the $9.60 (as of writing this), but it has a lot of tough competition in this price range. I know Alistair has sourced some High Mountain Oolongs recently and I am curious how this compares to them. I can easily say that this is my favorite of these three regardless while I like more complex teas, this was quite nice. I said before that this is filler tea and I was considering trying to be more diplomatic about it, but I decided against doing so. While the leaves may have been rolled way too pass as a Taiwanese Oolong, it is the perfect tea to blend with more expensive teas without changing the taste. In fact I used my leftover leaves and mixed equal parts with Beautiful Taiwan Teas DaYuLing and a nonpareil DaYuLing that I got from Teavivre and I honestly could not tell the What-Cha/BTT Flowery DaYuLing & What-Cha/Teavivre Nonparel-Flowery-DaYuLing from the unblended DaYuLings.

Vietnam Wild Mountain Mist Silver Needle White Tea
Origin: Soui Giang, Yen Bai Province, Vietnam
Elevation:  1200m+

Dry Leaves: The leaves are fairly typical of Silver Needle teas, although they were surprisingly crisp most Silver Needles that I have had has been very pliable and soft. Besides that for the most part these leaves are fairly uniform, I did notice the occasional fuzzy leaf, but for the most part the leaves are lightly twisted and have a pleasant pine needle smell.

Temperature: 176oF
Brewing Time: One Minute (adding one minute each subsequent infusion)
Aroma: Pine and Citrus
Flavor: Melon, Smoke and Vanilla
Tasting Notes: Wow. This is quite a strange tea, even though the packaging clearly sells it has a gentle smoke taste, I was not really expecting it; like the Red Buffalo, this taste like a purple tea.

I could see myself buying this again even though for 50g at $16 (at the time of writing) it is a little expensive; I have not encountered any smoky silver needles before. Normally I am not a fan of unscented silver needles, but those smoky notes make this tea really interesting. At first I wanted to say that this was my favorite of the three teas I looked at today, but I don’t often drink white teas and I always feel Oolongs have an unfair advantage over all teas since it has an incredible range of tastes; although the pricing isn’t that unusual, Teavivre has two silver Needles for $17.90 for 50g (at the time of writing this) of a comparable quality.

Overall I was very impressed although, foolishly, I was expecting to fall in love with the Red Buffalo, but I am not too disappointed. Perhaps I was being too optimistic about the Red Buffalo when I have a history of preferring green and floral oolongs over roasted ones. Regardless I am excited to try the three greens next and a little anxious of the Dark and Black tea that was included in this sampler.


Just a guy who likes tea.