Hatvala Three Moon Estate Oolong

Hatvala Three Moons Estate Oolong
Origin: Son La, Vietnam
Harvest: 2016
Cultivar: Quingxin
 I’ve been in the mood for oolongs a lot recently and have been having trouble finding one, not necessarily because a lack of good options since almost sixty percent of my tea horde is oolongs at the moment. I decided to sample Hatvala’s Three Moon Estate oolong, I’ve had it sitting in my to be sampled pile for at least a month, recently I haven’t been as attentive to how long I’ve not touched an unopened box.
 Aroma: Floral and Toasted Nuts
Flavor: Floral, Honeydew and Vegetal

I was initially a little off put by the aroma of the dry leaves, while it had an undoubtedly strong floral aroma, there was a strange roasted smell that I tend to associate with GABA oolongs of which I am not the biggest fan. Nonetheless I soldiered on and tried the tea despite my prejudices and I liked it. There was some hard to describe taste in it that reminded me of GABA oolongs, but this definitely tastes like a green floral oolong, more on the floral side then the vegetal one. While it doesn’t have a lot of complexity it reminds me a bit of a lightly aged pouchong that has potential, but will be so much better with a couple years under its belt.  Which definitely is a possibility since it is so inexpensive that I might purchase a couple hundred grams to squirrel away to play with later on.  

Teas Unique Korean Mt. Jiri Joongjak (Third Pluck) Hwang Cha (Lightly Oxidized) Organic Single Estate Whole Leaf Red Tea

Korean Mt. Jiri Joongjak (ThirdPluck) Hwang Cha (Lightly Oxidized) Organic Single Estate Whole Leaf Red Tea
Origin: Mt. Jiri, Samsin Village, Hwagae District, Hadong County, Gyeongnam Province Korea
Harvest: Around April 28, 2016

Aroma: Malty and Raw Chestnuts
Flavor: Chocolate, Vegetal, Dates and Honey

Again I am back with another strange tea from Teas Unique, this time a red tea which historically I am not a fan of. Although this tea in particular felt like it could be a yellow tea if brewed under the right parameters. I only had enough to brew this twice; initially (this time) I did start off following the recommending brewing suggestions and then tried again using much cooler water and slightly shorter steeps.

I rather enjoyed this tea perhaps because it is so different then what I expected, even though it has some very orthodox red tea flavors. Perhaps despite being quite rich and smooth, this tea felt delicate. In fact I think I like this tea more so then the Mt. Jiri Sejak I already wrote about although not as much as the delicious Matchacolate Organic Green Tea Matcha White Chocolatebar I had that made me feel disgust with m\myself over how fast I ate it. 

Teas Unique Korean Mt. Jiri Sejak (Second Pluck) Organic Single Estate Whole Leaf Green Tea

(Tea Provided For Review)

Origin: Mt. Jiri, Hadong County, Gyeongnam Province, Korea
Harvest: Around April 17, 2016

Dry Leaves:  The leaves are quite small and have a fairly dark blueish-green color with bits of gray towards the twisted tips. The dry leave was quite pretty, but it had quite a weak aroma. 

First Steeping
Temperature: 180oF
Brewing Time: One Minute
Aroma: Bell Pepper
Flavor: Cold Zucchini, Cold Soybeans and Brown Rice

Tasting Notes: I’ll admit I was immediately worried about how high the recommended brewing temperature was (and I am sad to admit that I did use the remainder of my sample to brew at a lower temperature and understand why Teas Unique recommends brewing at such a high temperature), but I did and it seems that most of the teas that I have sampled from Teas Unique can take quite a beating. 

The flavor was quite interesting; initially I had quite a bit of trouble describing what I tasted when my notes were entirely my feelings. I kept thinking of a hot lazy summer day and light vegetal notes. I ended up describing this tea as having a cold zucchini and cold soybean taste, but there was something crisp about it (think crisp apple), it feels like it would be perfect with a light vinegar drizzle.

Second Steeping
Temperature: 180oF
Brewing Time: One Minute and Thirty Seconds
Aroma: Bell Pepper
Flavor: Soybeans and Brown Rice

Tasting Notes: The bell pepper nose is still weak, but it is developing. While this tea still has quite a crisp taste to it, the initial zucchini taste is entirely gone.

Third Steeping
Temperature: 185oF
Brewing Time: Two Minutes
Aroma: Vegetal
Flavor: Brown Rice and Vegetal

Tasting Notes: The bell pepper nose has become either so light that I can no longer distinguish it or it has become murky, I am not sure which one I finally decided on. As for the taste, the vegetal notes from the previous steeping are still present, but no longer as developed. Although the brown rice notes that have been present since the beginning is still there, but has developed into quite an interesting thing, it sort of reminds me as a cross between a lightly roasted savory senbei and a sesame Jonbyong roll.

I am a little disappointed with this tea, I feel that I did this tea big disservice by not brewing this tea as long as Teas Unqiue recommended and using the remainder of my sample to brew at a much lower time and shorter steep, but I suppose that is what happens when one let’s follow one’s experiences before those of others. Regardless I rather liked this tea, it isn’t the punchiest of teas, but it is one of those teas that is a perfect complement to so many things.

What-Cha Vietnam Ta Jin Xuan Green tea

Origin: Hong Than I, Tan Cuong, Thai Nguyen, Vietnam
Harvest: Spring, March 2015
Cultivar: Hybrid of Ta & Jin Xuan

Like always when I am facing an ever growing mountain of un-sampled teas I randomly decided to try one today, and by random I mean I threw about 30 packets in a box and picked whichever one I found on top.  I had a rather interesting Lotus Scented Vietnamese green tea recently  and was looking forward to trying more of What-Chas new Vietnamese teas. While I did like what Alistair sourced last year of the new 2015teas I tried so far I’ve been very impressed at how much better they are. I am curious if this will be an improvement on some of the greens from last year (1  2) which were nice, but a little on the bitter side which I could see turning many off. While I did consider buying another sample of the teas from the Discover Vietnam sampler (namely the Flowery Oolong and the Wild Silver Needle White tea) I have yet to purchase any of them again (and I just realized I never got to write my thoughts on two of the teas of the Discover Vietnam sampler). Nevertheless What-Cha describes this as:

A splendid Vietnamese green tea with the creamy tones associated with Jin Xuan coupled with the powerful grassy strength of typical Vietnamese greens, very much living up to the high reputation of its parents.Ta Jin Xuan is a great example of the tea experimentation currently ongoing within Vietnam, it is a hybridisation of the native Vietnamese tea cultivar 'Ta' (meaning 'our' in Vietnamese) and the famed Taiwanese cultivar 'Jin Xuan'. Sourced direct from the Trong branch of the Vu family who operate a number of small farms around Vietnam, with one family member typically managing a single farm. The Vu family were one of the first to cultivate tea in Thai Nguyen, now considered one of the foremost Vietnamese tea regions.

Dry Leaves: The dry leaves have a slight ashy color although it is still very obvious there is some green in there. There is a slight chocolatey scent reminiscent of some Long Jings. The leaves are both twisted and slightly coiled.

First Steeping
Temperature: 167oF
Brewing Time: Fifteen Seconds
Aroma: Grassy
Flavor: Fresh Cut Grass and Spinach
Tasting Notes: It starting out a little simple, but still a very nice tea so far; there is not much to the aroma although it is apparent, but it quickly fades away. This is a very grassy tea, but there is a bit of sweetness in there. It was interesting that this felt grassier than a Korean green and Japanese green even though it lacks both astringency and bitterness.

Second Steeping
Temperature: 170oF
Brewing Time: Thirty Seconds
Aroma: Grassy
Flavor: Fresh Cut Grass, Spinach and Dry Stray
Tasting Notes: Not much is going on here that is different from the last infusion. I rather like this tea so far, but there is a strange thickish mouthfeel to this. It is a little on the thick side for a green tea, but pales in comparison to many Oolongs. The mouthfeel is not entirely pleasant nor is it unpleasant, it is a just strange for a green tea in my opinion.

Third Steeping
Temperature: 175oF
Brewing Time: Forty-Five Seconds
Aroma: Grassy
Flavor: Fresh Cut Grass, Spinach and Dry Stray
Tasting Notes: Not much of a change from the last infusion, the aroma still is weak and does not improve much from here on. I almost wanted to describe this as a lackluster tea because of how very simple it is, but there is something pleasant about this tea. Ordinarily I write off as simple teas as this one, in fact I had quite a few senchas that I decided against writing anything on because of their simplicity, but I decided to write on this even though I have very little to say about it because of how comforting this is. It sort of reminds me of chicken noodle soup, despite its plainness this is a very good tea.

At the time of writing this What-Cha is currently selling this for $6.86 for 50g and is well worth the price if you are looking for a nice simple daily drinker, you should probably avoid it if you are looking for something more complex although this is pretty good for the price it is being sold at.

M&K’s Tea Co. Cherry Blossom Oolong (Sakura Phoenix)

(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.  
*We highly recommend you "rinse" this tea before you drink it (because of the salt on the cherry blossoms as well as the Phoenix tea opening up with a rinse). Simply pour boiling water over the tea, allow it to sit for about 10-15 seconds, discard the water, and then proceed with a normal brew!

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.

First Steeping
Temperature: 190oF
Brewing Time: Twenty Seconds
Aroma: Salt
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.

Second Steeping
Temperature: 195oF
Brewing Time: Thirty Seconds
Aroma: Salt
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.

Third Steeping
Temperature: 200oF
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.  

What-Cha's Vietnam Dragon Cloud Green Tea

What-Cha Vietnam Dragon Cloud Green Tea
Origin: La Bang, Thai Nguyen, Vietnam
Harvest: March 2015
Cultivar: Hybrid of Ta & long Jing


This is the first of What-cha’s new 2015 Vietnamese teas I decided to try, I originally was planning on having the Ta Jin Xuan Green tea first since I was amused at the idea of a green tea being made from a Jin Xuan hybrid, but ultimately I decided to sample this late one night since I was not expecting much of this. And I kind of regret choosing this first because it is amazing and the other What-Cha 2015 Vietnamese teas may pale in comparison to this. Before I gush about how much I love this tea, What-cha describes this as:
A splendid Vietnamese green tea with the cool minty tones associated with Long Jing coupled with the powerful grassy strength of typical Vietnamese greens, it very much lives up to its rich pedigree.
Dragon Cloud is a great example of the tea experimentation currently ongoing within Vietnam, it is a hybridisation of the native Vietnamese tea cultivar 'Ta' (meaning 'our' in Vietnamese) and the famed Chinese cultivar 'Long Jing' used in the production of Dragon Well.

Sourced direct from the Trong branch of the Vu family who operate a number of small farms around Vietnam, with one family member typically managing a single farm. The Vu family were one of the first to cultivate tea in Thai Nguyen, now considered one of the foremost Vietnamese tea regions.

Dry Leaves: The dry leaves are very green and have a fresh grassy aroma; it smells much cleaner than the typical long Jing. The leaves are a little on the small side and feel to be young buds which is amazing because of how inexpensive this tea is. 

Temperature: 167oF (+ 5o for each subsequent steeping)
Brewing Time: Ten Seconds (+ 10 Seconds for each subsequent steeping)
Aroma: Grassy
Flavor: Grassy, Nutty and Mint
Tasting Notes: This is a very powerful tea, What-cha warns about over brewing it, and even from just letting it steep just for ten seconds the brewed liquor is incredibly potent. While at the first steep it feels very much like your typical Long Jing, it lacks the sweetness of many. While at first this feels like a very powerful tea, it does have a soft side, sort of reminds me of a Bi Lo Chun. 

I was not really fond of the minty aftertaste, although I am not a fan of mint flavors to begin with, but the mint was an interesting contrast to the very clean Grassy and Nutty notes.  I decided not to follow my normal template and list my notes for the first three steeping because I could not notice significant change in-between any of them. I did get seven steeping out of this, although the leaves probably had more to give, but by the seventh steeping I was bored. I am not saying this tea is bad per se, but I would have preferred for the tea to change over time and it just didn’t.

Perhaps my style of documenting my tea tasting notes is lacking, while I am sure there was some change happening between infusions, but I could not tell. Oolong Owl tends to describe her tasting experience in numeric form with on a 1-10 scale and perhaps if I tried to train myself to judge intensity rather than strength this post could have been a better post, but at the end of the day even if I felt more competent in my ability to accurately describe this tea and the changes that happen over time I doubt I’d feel any different about it. 

I absolutely love this tea. At the time of writing this What-cha is currently selling 50g for $6.60 and I am confident that this is going to replace Long Jing as my green daily drinker.