Rose bud tea

“Tea” refers to any drink made from the Camellia Sinensis plant so other drinks made from things such as herbs, flowers or fruit are called tisanes. This “tea” is made from whole rose buds and therefore it is a tisane.

See full rose buds in the tea pot below (side note: I replaced the tea pot I broke).

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There is a strong rose scent, this tea smells like rose perfume. It produces a pale yellowy green liquor.

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Brewing method: 100 degrees for 2-4 minutes

My brewing method: 100 degrees for 3 minutes

Taste: Like rose, obviously. Floral, slightly sweet.

Conclusion: Smells wonderful, I am not such a fan of the taste so I probably won’t make it again but I enjoy using flowers and herbs in cooking so I doubt the rest of the rose buds will go to waste.

Recommended if: you enjoy Jasmine tea or tisanes made from flowers.

Ya bao silver buds and Ya bao purple buds: a comparison.

Ya bao silver buds and Ya bao purple buds are both white teas comprised on sun dried buds. Ya bao silver buds is one of my favourite white teas (after bai mu dan, Yin Zhen Jasmine and Yin Zhen). I have never had purple buds before but I had a sample pack in my tea box and I saw a post on the r/tea subreddit about purple buds and some people (including me) wanted to know the difference. So here we go.

The packaging is virtually the same for both teas as for comparison I got them from the same seller. The teas are also from the same place Dehong, Yunnan, China.

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Silver buds, as the name suggests resemble silver buds.

 

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When brewed Ya bao silver buds tea has little colour to it and looks almost exactly the same as a mug of hot water. The picture below is the tea after I removed the silver buds which had been in the brewing basket for 4 minutes.

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Brewing method: 90 degrees, 3-4 minutes

My brewing method: 90 degrees for 4 minutes.

Taste: A white tea with a subtle woody profile. It tastes a little like pu-erh except lighter.

Subsequent infusions: There is little change in the taste profile of this tea for the second and third infusions. The taste is pretty consistent and I got four infusions (including the initial one) out of this tea so it is quite good value.

The purple buds are more purple (and green) in colour than the silver variety.

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This tea develops a pale golden colour more characteristic of white teas than the silver buds clear almost water like liquor.

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Brewing method: 90 degrees for 3-4 minutes

My brewing method: 90 degrees for 4 minutes

Taste: The initial taste is hard to describe I think it is quite smoky which surprised me as the packaging for this brand is usually very accurate. The packaging does mention “complex taste” though doesn’t mention smokiness. The smokiness soon gives way to a sweeter profile more characteristic of white tea. There is very strong and very pleasant sweet after taste of peaches.

Subsequent infusions: The second and third infusions was less smoky and sweeter and more to my taste. I do not really like smoky tea ( I can’t stand lapsang souchong) so this was preferable.

Conclusion: Ya bao silver is a woody tea which does not change the appearance of the water much. Ya bao purple buds are sweeter and more like a typical white tea and the fruity after taste is very enjoyable yet there is an unusual smoky flavour which ruins the enjoyment for me. I tend to prefer sweet white teas but I have always enjoyed Ya bao silver bud’s woody profile for variety I will continue to buy Ya bao silver buds though I do not think I would buy purple buds again as I prefer the sweet taste of bai mu dan.

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.

Darjeeling Phoobsering First flush

The third tea from my curious tea subscription box, guaranteed to be a big hit with me as I LOVE first flush Darjeeling.

As soon as I open the packet there is the typical floral scent characteristic of a Darjeeling. There leaves are tipping and dark as is typical for Darjeelings. I tend to prefer Darjeelings with greener leaves and while there is clearly green in there there is not as much as I tend to like.

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The leaves produce a golden brown liquor. With a floral and menthol aroma.

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The packaging as always for curious tea is very clear.

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Brewing method: 3-4 minutes at 90 degrees.

My brewing method: 5 minutes at 90 degrees

Taste: I have already stated how I tend to prefer greener Darjeelings so did wonder how this would taste I am not a fan of black teas that are too malty and in my experience darker Darjeelings tend to be quite malty. However I was pleasantly surprised. It is not as floral as some of my favourite Darjeelings like Glenburn or Rohini (see my comparison of tea makers of London Darjeelings post for more details) but there is still a distinct floral taste balanced with menthol and a hint of citrus there is a little bit of a malty taste but just enough to be pleasant without being overpowering.

Subsequent infusions: Darjeeling does not resteep as well as Chinese greens, whites, oolongs and pu-erhs do. I only got two mugs of tea out of one teaspoon full of leaves but this is typical of my experience with Darjeelings and not a fault with this particular Darjeeling. As always the second resteeping while still enjoyable to drink was not as good as the first steeping.

Conclusion: Less floral and more mineral like than my favourite Darjeelings yet the balance of the different flavours, the floral with the mineral, the slight malty taste is not overpowering and actually compliments the tea. I would definitely buy this one again in a larger quantity.

Recommended if you like: Darjeeling, Ceylon

Huang Jin Gui Golden Osmanthus Oolong

This is a lightly oxidised oolong from Anxi, Fujian in China. It is called Osmanthus oolong as there is a light floral character and aroma reminiscent of Osmanthus flowers. I was quite dissapointed when I realized this as I have heard of Osmanthus flowers being added to green teas sometimes and that is on my (admittedly extremely long) list of teas I want to try.

This Huang Jin Oolong came from the curious tea discovery tea subscription box. I am a fan of this subscription service as it is very cheap (£9.50 a month) and contains 4 packs of tea of 10g each an ideal size for trying something new. The Feng Yan Phoneix eyes that were my first review were part of the same subscription box and I plan to review the other two teas from the box eventually.

I brewed this tea “Grandpa style” meaning I put the leaves straight into a mug of hot water to brew. Normally I like to use my glass tea set which is a good compromise between traditional Chinese gong-fu (tea ceremony) brewing where small amounts of tea are brewed and savoured like a fine liquor and the Western preference for brewing a decent amount of tea in one go. But my tea set is in the dishwasher so I am using my glass mug which has a built in removable strainer. Unfortunately it is not as photogenic as my usual method (it doesn’t help that I have no photographic skills).

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Packaging: As always curious tea’s packaging is clear, easy to understand and full of information.

Brewing method: 3 minutes at 90 degrees

My brewing method: 3 minutes at 90 degrees

Taste: Definitely floral which is surprising for an Oolong especially one with nothing (such as flowers) added to it but there is a subtle flavour of Osmanthus. I found it very buttery a bit too buttery for my personal tastes. There is a slight after taste that is reminiscent of the more popular and widely known lightly oxidized Oolong Tie Guan Jin (Iron goddess of mercy).

Subsequent infusions: The buttery taste abates with subsequent infusions making the tea more balanced. I personally think the third infusion tastes the best as it is more balanced.

Conclusion: This is an interesting oolong and I am glad I tried it but I wouldn’t buy it again, Oolong is a huge category of tea with a wide variety of flavour and my personal preference are for heavy roasted oolongs like Dong Ding or “milk” oolongs like Jin Xuan. Lightly oxidised oolongs are not a favourite of mine though I quite like Tie Guan Jin I would always choose Dong Ding over Tie Guan Jin or an lightly oxidised oolong.

Recommended if you like: Tie Guan Jin or other lightly oxidised oolongs.

Yin Zhen silver needle (from Yunnan)

Yin Zhen is one of the most prized of the white teas. A good quality Yin Zhen will have “fur” on the leaves as in the picture below. Apologies for my hand I have ordered a cha he (presentation vessel for tea) from the Chinese tea seller Yunnan sourcing but as they are based in China and I am based in the UK and in the rural North of England as well I expect it will take a while to arrive. Though as I placed the order last night and woke up to an email saying it has been dispatched this morning I am so far impressed with their speed.

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This particular Yin Zhen is from Yunnan province while most Yin Zhen is from Fujian province. Almost all white tea is produced in China and most of that in Fujian.

Yin Zhen from Fujian has a sweet floral profile whereas this one is more woody and tastes more like other woody white teas such as Ya Bao silver buds (review on that one coming soon) but slightly sweeter. I wish I had some Fujian Yin Zhen left to do a comparative post but I drunk all my Yin Zhen before I had the idea to do a blog and I have so much tea at the moment and a couple of small deliveries (one from China one from Japan) on the way and I need to drink through all (or at least most) of that before buying more.

The packaging (side note: I love curious tea’s packaging because there is always so much information on it, most packaging has the name of the tea and brewing instructions but theirs also has interesting details about the tea) states that this white tea is processed similar to young pu-erh. My experience of pu-erh is very limited as I have only ever tried one and though I didn’t dislike it I wouldn’t buy it again. I do have a couple of samples of different pu-erhs somewhere which I will eventually get round to reviewing.

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Brewing method: 3-4 minutes at 80 degrees

My brewing method: 5 minutes at 80 degrees (I prefer my white teas overbrewed).

Taste: Woody profile with a slight sweet aftertaste.

Subsequent infusions: From the second infusion onwards the sweet aftertaste is completely gone leaving a subtle woody profile. Pleasant enough but no where near as complex a flavour as the first infusion.

Conclusion: Not a bad white tea, I can tell it is good quality by the texture of the leaves but I personally prefer the Fujian Yin Zhen with its sweeter profile. If you enjoy pu-erh or woody white teas I would recommend this tea if you prefer sweeter white teas (like I do), look for Yin Zhen from Fujian instead.

A comparison of tea makers of London Darjeelings.

I am a huge Darjeeling fan, specifically a first flush Darjeeling fan. The first flush of this tea is a mixture of floral and fruity than I love. The first flush is the picking of the two leaves and a bud from the early spring growth of a plant this usually occurs sometimes between February to April. The first flush is more delicate and lighter with a stronger floral flavour. First flushes are often less oxidised to preserve this flavour profile this means that even though Darjeeling is a black tea the leaves can appear more green than in most black teas.

There is a reason Darjeeling is called the Champagne of teas, Darjeeling is a protected term (tea labelled as Darjeeling must come from the Darjeeling district in West Bengal, India, the same way prosecco labelled as Champagne must come from the Champagne region of France).

So I ordered several different first flush Darjeelings from Tea makers of London, (the same company I got my glass tea set in the first picture from) as they have a decent selection of first flush Darjeelings. Here is my review and comparison of the three Darjeelings I ordered from them.

Glenburn white moonshine Darjeeling.

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This Darjeeling is unusual as it is somewhere between a white and a black tea. As a fan of both Darjeeling and white tea this is one of my favourite teas of all time.

As soon as you open the pack there is a strong floral and fruity aroma. The leaves are wiry with silver tips. These leaves produce a pale yellow liquor that resembles a white tea more closely than a black tea.

Brewing method: 85 degrees for 4-5 minutes

My brewing method: 80 degrees for 5 minutes.

Taste: Floral and sweet with a slight fruity note of citrus. A true mix of Darjeeling and white tea.

Subsequent infusions: The packs says that this tea is suitable for one re-steeping, this is different to the East asian teas I usually drink which can often be re-steeped 2-3 times or even more in the case of some oolongs. The second steeping of the tea produced a nice floral and sweet Darjeeling but it was noticeably weaker than the first steeping.

Rohini First flush Darjeeling

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The leaves have a subtle floral aroma and are wiry and mostly green in appearance, this is despite being a black tea as it is lightly oxidised. The liquor produced is pale for a black tea though darker than the Glenburn Darjeeling above.

Brewing method: 3-5 minutes at 85 degrees

My brewing method: 5 minutes at 85 degrees

Taste: Floral and sweet with a slight after taste of grapes.

Subsequent infusions: The packagins states that this tea can be resteeped once, like the Glenburn first flush this Darjeeling retains its flavour profile with the first re-steeping yet the flavour is considerably weaker than the first steeping.

First flush Darjeeling house blend

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This blend is cheap for a first flush Darjeeling. At £4 for 50g which is considerably cheaper than the Glenburn white moonshine which is £13.95 for 25g or the Rohini which is £9.95 for 25g.

Unlike the other two in this article it is not specifically claimed that the tea leaves are from the 2018 harvest so I assume they are from a previous harvest. The leaves are darker and produce a liquor more reminiscent of a black tea.

Brewing method: 100 degrees for 3-5 minutes

My brewing method: 95 degrees for 3 minutes

Taste: Fresh and fruity with a strong malty aftertaste.

Subsequent infusions: This tea is suitable for one re-steeping. I felt out of the three teas this one kept more of its flavour when re-steeped than the other more expensive Darjeelings. I think this is because it has a stronger, less delicate flavour profile.

Conclusion: By far my favourite Darjeeling is the Glenburn white moonshine Darjeeling, it is delicate and a mix of two of my favourite teas Darjeeling and white. Unfortunately it is also the most expensive of the Darjeelings I ordered due to the small size of the Glenburn estate. Rohini is slightly cheaper and may be preferred by people who like black teas more than white having the characteristic flavours of a Darjeeling and being more a traditional black tea than the Glenburn but as it is only a few pounds cheaper than the Glenburn I personally would always choose the Glenburn. The first flush blend is my least favourite flavour wise but it is still very obviously a first flush Darjeeling and for the price it is incredibly good value.

 

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.