Darjeeling Gopaldhara Sencha

Now regular readers will know that I love Darjeeling, and I love green tea as well. So I was excited to try this Darjeeling Sencha from curious tea. I moved recently and have got a bit behind on trying new teas I had and am working through a back catalogue so I can’t remember how I acquired this but I probably got it in a curious tea subscription box.

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The leaves are a dull green colour it doesn’t look much like Darjeeling teas as most people would imagine Darjeeling, to me it looks more like an Indonesian green I have. However, Darjeeling is a name that can be given to any teas from the Darjeeling region of Indian and this tea is grown in the Darjeeling region even if it isn’t traditionally what people would think of as Darjeeling.

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As a sencha the liquor the tea produces is a bright green colour though not quite as bright as the Japanese senchas I am used to.

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Brewing parameters: 80 degrees Celsius (176 degrees Fahrenheit) for  2-3 minutes

My brewing parameters: 80 degrees Celsius (176 degrees Fahrenheit) for  2-3 minutes

Taste: Smoky. I mentioned the leaves looked a lot like an Indonesian green I have. It tastes a little like that too except that flavour is hidden under a smoky aroma and flavour. I don’t like smoky teas. I am a huge fan of Chinese tea but I cannot stand the fairly popular Lapsang souchong (even the smell makes me feel ill).

To be completely fair the packaging states the tea has a smoky profile and curious tea is usually very good about their packaging being accurate so I should maybe have read it more carefully.

I didn’t like this tea, and that’s rare for me, even teas that don’t really do it for me I usually find pleasant enough that I will finish the pot I have made even if I wouldn’t buy it again but this one really doesn’t do it for me.

Good if you like: Lapsang souchong, Indonesian green tea.

This was a quick review because I wasn’t a fan of the tea unfortunately, so I plan finish another longer review this weekend as well (hopefully).

For my long reviews in which I tend to review several teas at one I often write a bit one day and then a bit another as I try the teas so I can be working on a long review for days or weeks at a time as I do not want to hurry as I want to enjoy the teas. I do have a white tea reviews with 3 different white teas in my draft folder, I have written up two of them and only have one left to try so hopefully I will managed to try the final tea and get that one out tomorrow.

Tan Cuong Fish hook

This is a Vietnamese green tea. It is called “fish hook” due to the curved nature of the leaves.

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The packaging is below.

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It produces a pale green liquor. I planned not to put up any more pictures of tea in a mug as it does not photograph as well as my glass tea set but I broke my glass teapot by dropping an electric fan on top of it by accident. I have ordered another one though.

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Brewing method: 80 degrees for two minutes

My brewing method: 80 degrees for two minutes (increase steeping time with each infusion by around 30 seconds).

Taste: Vegetal and slightly astringent with an unami flavour. I am a big fan of Korean Nokcha (green tea) but it is expensive to import to the UK and due to the small size of South Korea and the fact most of the tea they produce goes to the domestic market there is a smaller amount available. This Vietnamese tea tastes very similar and is considerably cheaper.

Subsequent infusions: The flavour remains consistent with subsequent infusions though I felt by the third infusion the strength of the flavour was weakening but increasing the steeping time by a minute with each infusions solves this. I got five infusions out of one teaspoon of leaves.

Conclusion: This is the only Vietnamese tea I have ever tried I tend to stick to Indian black teas and Chinese, Japanese and Korean teas but several people recommended this one so I had to try it. I still prefer Korean Nokcha but given how hard it can be to get hold of and how expensive this is an acceptable, good quality alternative.

Recommended if you like: Korean green teas, Genmaicha.

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.

 

 

 

 

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.