T2 White tea selection

So I live round the corner from a T2 shop (bye bye money). I had never tried their offerings until recently but they were recommended and I love their infuser mugs (see my earlier review of the mug).

Now I love white tea and I was out of white tea so I bought a selection of teas I already know I like.

Below is the white Jasmine tea (yin zhen leaves though it doesn’t say on the pack), Pai Mu Dan (also called Bai Mu Dan or White peony tea) and White monkey Jasmine.

I have never tried white monkey jasmine tea but I like white tea and white Jasmine teas so I assumed I’d like this one as well.

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White Jasmine

The leaves have the appearance of Yin Zhen silver needle tea. They are not the best quality I have seen, they don’t have much “fur” on the leaves a good sign of good quality Yin Zhen.

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A good quality white tea will not turn too yellow in colour when brewed. This white tea has a good colour when brewed.

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Brewing parameters: 80 degrees for 2-3 minutes

My brewing parameters: 80 degrees for 2 minutes

Taste: Strong aroma of Jasmine, very strong flavour too. Not the most delicate tea as the Jasmine overpowers the aroma of the white tea a little.

Subsequent infusions: The first infusion is a bit strong for my liking but this tea really stands up well to repeated infusions. The Jasmine flavour gets weaker each time and I think the third infusion is my favourite. I have been taking this one to work and putting two teaspoons in the infuser basket and using the same leaves all day. The most infusions I have tried is five but I think I could have got one or two more out of the leaves though by this point the Jasmine aroma was nearly gone.

 

Pai Mu Dan

Note: Because of the difficulty in transcribing Chinese words into the Roman alphabet it is common for there to be variations in spelling when it comes to Chinese words in English, a common on is the same sound being transcribed by some people with a “p” and by others with a “b”. Pai Mu Dan is also referred to Bai Mu Dan or white peony tea.

The leaves have the appearance of any other Bai Mu Dan I have drunk. which is a good start, a few more oxidized (brown) leaves than ideal but it still looks fine.

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This Pai Mu Dan is a lot darker than others I have tried. Generally the better quality ones are paler in colour.

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Brewing parameters: 4-6 minutes at 80 degrees (176 fahrenheit)

My brewing parameters: 3 minutes at 80 degrees (176 fahrenheit)

Taste: Not as fruity as other Bai mu dan’s I have tried before.

White monkey Jasmine

From the moment you open the packet there is a delicate, but not overpowering Jasmine aroma.

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This is quite pale for a white tea but the cup it is in doesn’t make this clear (I should probably stop using a green cup for the pictures but it’s pretty).

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Brewing parameters: 80 degrees 1-3 minutes

My brewing parameters 80 degrees 2 minutes

Taste: This is more balanced and smoother than the other T2 white Jasmine. It is milder but the flavour of the white tea is balanced well with the Jasmine and the fruity aftertaste of the white tea itself is present.

Subsequent infusions: The Jasmine fades quite a lot after the third infusion but the white tea itself is a mellow fruity tea.

Conclusion

The only one of these I would buy again is the White Monkey Jasmine. I really enjoyed it and will probably get more when this one runs out.

The White Jasmine and the Pai Mu Dan were OK teas but I have had better quality at cheaper price points, the white Jasmine from curious tea is £10 for 50g while T2 charges £12.00 and the Bai Mu Dan from Bruu, the gourmet tea subscription club is far more to my liking than T2’s white Pai Mu Dan and at £5.95 for 50g  compared to the £13 for 50g T2 charges it is obvious which one I would choose.

T2’s white teas are not bad but it is possible to find better quality for cheaper online. Part of the price discrepancy will be the fact that T2 is a physical chain of stores while most of my tea vendors are online only which would keep their costs lower meaning they can sell their product cheaper. However, while I love T2’s selection of tea ware I don’t think I will be a regular customer as far as their loose leaf tea goes.

Teas I drink most, a top 10.

This is a list of my top ten teas based on what I actually drink the most of. Some of these are rarer or more expensive teas some of these are a lot more common. Based on what I drink the most of.

Also note this list is in no particular order I just couldn’t choose an absolute favourite. I could easily have done a top 20 (or top 100) but I would have had to write about each tea and I’m too lazy. I may release (depending on demand) a list of my top 100 teas.

1. Glenburn tea makers of London first flush Darjeeling

A black Darjeeling more reminiscent of a white tea the leaves produce a paler liquor than most Darjeelings and the taste is floral and sweet with a hint of citrus basically it combines everything I love about Darjeeling with everything I love about white tea

2. Tea pigs green tea and mint tea temples

A combination of Chunmee green tea from China and a peppermint leaves in a roughly 1:1 ratio. This is rather different from the other teas on my list as it is not loose leaf and it is also a blend while all the other teas in this top ten are pure tea leaf.

The tea temples are essentially larger pyrmaid shaped tea bags filled with loose leaf quality tea. This allows you to have the best of both worlds, the convenience of the tea bag with the taste of loose leaf. There are better quality green teas out there but this remains my favourite morning tea. I am so not a morning person and this tea is so convenient (heat water, pour into cup, add tea temple, done) when I am still half asleep and I find the mint helps wake me up.

Teapigs were what first got me into tea. I tried their Green tea and mint, their mao feng, their oolong and their Jasmine tea. I now tend to buy more expensive loose leaf from specialist sellers but I still enjoy their Oolong (though it just missed out on being on this list) but the Green tea and mint is still a firm favourite of mine.

3, Long jing dragon well

A very famous Chinese green tea and perhaps the most popular tea in China. Longjing dragon well is very mellow and balanced it also works well cold brewed or as an iced tea for summer. There is no astringency just a mellow smooth vegetal flavour.

4. Huo Shan Huang ya

A yellow tea from China. Yellow teas are less common than greens and not widely known in the UK. yellow teas undergo an extra step after pan frying which results in a mellow slightly creamy taste (it tastes a bit like a creamier Long Jing).

5. Bai mudan (white peony)

A popular white tea, stronger than the more subtle but more prized Yin Zhen. I love Yin Zhen (though it just missed out on this list in favour of bai mudan) but I prefer the stronger fruiter flavour of bai mudan. This is also a good gateway white tea if you want to try white tea for the first time as most white tea is more subtle than this.

6. Yin Zhen silver needle with Jasmine.

I know I just said Yin Zhen lost out to Bai mudan in my top ten but it also missed out to this. Yin Zhen flavoured with Jasmine, Jasmine tea is very popular in China and my favourite Jasmine tea is this as I love the balance between white tea and Jasmine and prefer it to all the Jasmine green teas I have tried (though Phoenix eyes Jasmine came close).

7. Nokcha

Korean green tea. “Cha” means tea (as it does in Chinese and Japanese) and “nok” means green. Korean nokcha is different from other green teas it is usally brewed at around 70-75 degrees and only for about a minute compared to the usual (though admittedly variable depending on the tea) 80 degrees for three minutes for most green teas. Nokcha has a light savoury taste that is difficult to describe it is a little like rice though the tea is far lighter than Genmaicha.

Unfortunately not much tea is imported from South Korea this is because most of their tea is for the domestic market. South Korea is a small country and as such the supply of tea is limited. This means South Korean tea is quite expensive.

8. Dong Ding Oolong

I drink a lot of oolongs but I rarely find one I will buy again and again in fact there are three; Dong Ding, Khao Hom fragrant rice oolong (see the honorable mentions) and Jin Xuan milk oolong. Dong Ding was the first oolong I ever tried. I loved it. It is still my favourite oolong and my go to for this category of teas.

9. Xu Long snow dragon

A Chinese green tea that is somewhere between a green and a white. It is very sweet naturally which is why I like it so much. I have a big sweet tooth and I am quite fat so obviously I need to stop eating so many sweet things. Making this tea gives me the taste of something sweet without the calories and also gives me something to do with my hands meaning I am less likely to go for cake (now if only I could find teas that taste like chips, pizza and ice cream).

10. Sencha

The most common tea from Japan almost all Japanese teas are made from Sencha (such as Genmaicha which is Sencha and rice) or a by product of Sencha productions (like Mecha or Hojicha).  This is why of all the Japanese green teas I had to put Sencha on my list. A good everyday drink (in fact when I lived in Japan I did drink it every day) and it is good cold or warm. Cold green tea is sold in bottles in Japan the same way fizzy drink is in the West. While I love most Japanese teas and probably drink more Genmaicha than I do pure Sencha the simple fact is without Sencha Genmaicha would not exist.

 

Honorable mentions:

Teas I wanted to include but just missed out.

Yin Zhen silver needle- A subtle sweet and fruity white tea and the most prized. I wanted at least one white tea on this list and to be honest though I drink quite a bit of Yin Zhen I drink Bai mudan more. The Jasmine version of this tea did make the list though as my favourite Jasmine.

Fen Yuan Phoenix eyes- A jasmine green tea that just lost out to Yin Zhen Jasmine on my list. I enjoy this tea a lot but my preference for white Jasmine teas means reach for the Yin Zhen Jasmine far more than this one. For more on Fen Yuan Phoenix eyes see my review of this tea.

Genmaicha- I do drink more Genmaicha than pure Sencha but as there is no Genmaicha without Sencha I felt the more popular tea deserved to be on the list. More information on Genmaicha coming up soon in my upcoming post about Japanese greens (as soon as my order from Japan gets here).

Khao hom fragrant rice oolong-This is an oolong from Thailand. It is flavoured with sticky rice in a pretty overpowering way. For the first 2-3 infusions all you can taste in the creamy vanilla and rice scent. By the third infusion the taste of the oolong underneath begins to emerge. This is one of those teas that but be infused several times to get the best out of it as the flavour profile begins to change. Just lost out to Dong Ding for me.

Yuchi wild shan cha- I have never had a green or white tea I didn’t like. I like about 75 per cent of the oolongs I try enough to at least finish my pack of tea even if I never buy more of that particular tea. With black teas I am more picky. I prefer Indian Darjeelings and Assama and Sri Lankan Ceylons. I rarely find black tea that is not from India or Sri Lanka that I like. Yuchi wild swan cha, a black tea from Taiwan is the exception. It is not too malty or astringent and has a clean finish and slight hint of honey, peaches and savoury flavours.

I’d love to hear what other people’s top ten are in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

Chai of Madagaskar

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Full disclosure I have never had a chai tea that I liked enough to buy again. I also dislike Honeybush so a Chai tea with Honeybush rather than black tea is not a tea I expect to like. However I got this as a free sample included when I ordered several packs of Darjeeling so while I would not have bought this tea myself I felt I may as well try it.

Packaging: Very simple but has brewing instructions on it which is important.

Company: Tea Makers of London

Contents of Chai mix: Green Honeybush, Orange Bits, Cocoa Bits, Cinnamon, Ginger Bits, Flavour, Vervain, Cardamom Pods, Cloves, Rose Pepper, Vanilla Bits, Rose Blossom Leaves.

Brewing instructions: 2-3g in boiling water, steep for 5 minutes.

My brewing instructions: The sample did not contain enough tea for me to experiment so I only made one pot following the packs brewing instructions.

Taste: This tea has a very strong aroma so strong I could smell it across the room. It smells lovely. The taste is very complex with hints of Cinnamon, orange, vanilla, Cloves and Cardamom. After taste of Orange, cinnamon and pepper.

Subsequent infusions: I did not re steep as I was not fond of the taste.

Conclusion: I think if someone enjoys honeybush and many people do especially those who cannot have caffeine due to medical reasons that this would be a good drink. The taste is complex and the flavours well balanced but the fact I dislike honeybush makes me unable to fully assess the quality of the tea. My experience with Tea Makers of London with regards to the teas I like has been positive so I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt with regards to the quality.

 

Feng Yan Jasmine Phoenix eyes

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For my first tea I shall be reviewing one of my favourite flavoured teas, a Jasmine tea.

I got this tea as part of a subscription box from British based company Curious tea. It was one of four teas in the box and I intend to get round to reviewing them all.

This is a Jasmine green tea called phoenix eyes because the leaves are rolled into a shape that supposedly resembles the eyes of a phoenix. Then like many Jasmine teas the tea leaves are laid out between alternating layers of Jasmine flowers so they absorb the Jasmine aroma.

Jasmine tea is one of the oldest types of flavoured tea around. It is very popular in China where it is traditionally served to guests.

Packaging: Very clear and very informative. It is immediately obvious what the tea is, the recommended brewing parameters and the origin of the tea.

Brewing recommendations: 2-3 minutes at 80 degrees.

My brewing recommendations: 3 minutes at 80 degrees increasing steeping time with each infusion.

Taste: The tea smells absolutely gorgeous with a very strong Jasmine aroma and taste.

Subsequent infusions: The tea leaves unroll when steeped in hot water, during the first infusion they do not completely unfurl this leaves plenty of flavour for subsequent infusions though with each infusion the Jasmine flavour decreases and becomes more subtle so it is easier to taste the actual green tea which is a good quality green tea which is smooth with no astrigency. I got three infusions out of one teaspoon full of leaves.

Conclusion: A good quality Jasmine green tea. I prefer this to the more common Jasmine pearls as I find the Phoenix eye leaves do not unfurl as quickly leaving more flavour for subsequent infusions.