Thursday, November 29, 2012

Zen Tea, Coconut Oolong

Zen Tea Description:
If you love coconut milk sweets and sophisticated oolongs, this is tea for you.Creamy smooth coconut perfectly blended with a floral Bao Zhong oolong with subtle notes of lilac.

Ingredients: Oolong Tea, coconut flavor

Price: $19/100g or $0.48 per 2.5g serving

Sample provided by Zen Tea for review

My Review:
I might as well admit it right up front. Every time I try a coconut tea, especially an oolong, it immediately gets compared to Golden Moon’s Coconut Pouchong. What an amazing tea. It’s almost not fair to the competition. I will try not to let this influence me as I taste this one.

I also must admit this one has me baffled. I love coconut. I love oolong. I love coconut and oolong together. I just don’t much care for this one. I have read the reviews on Steepster and it seems everyone else has loved this tea. I must conclude then, that it is just me. Strange. I was very impressed with the previous 5 teas I have tasted from Zen Tea. Not so much with this one. To me, the dry leaf smells of coconut liquor (alcohol). The wet leaf smells pineapple and the mug smells like gym socks. When the cup cools, it does get creamy and the aftertaste is nice, like a floral tiguanyin. I just can’t get passed the smell. Do read the other reviews, as apparently I just don’t get it. Anyway, following is the review I wrote before seeing what others thought:

Cutting open the sample pouch I am met with an aroma that makes me think coconut liquor – you know, alcohol. I scooped out half the sample and what first caught my eye was the amount of stems in the mix. Hmmmm. This is my sixth tea from Zen Tea. I have been extremely impressed with their offerings. This one is not really moving me so far.

I place the leaf, stems and all, in the press, and add steaming water well below boiling. The steep time was three minutes per the label directions. The smell of the wet leaf I recognize but can’t quite place. I think it reminds me of pineapple with alcoholic coconut. Does that make it a pina colada? It’s very tropical, if you are in to that.

The sip is not as expected. To my taste buds this does not taste like coconut and I don’t get the subtle lilac notes in the description either My impression is, if you would make this really sweet it would taste like kettle corn. That would be ok, except the smell is a little like gym socks. The redeeming feature is the nice oolong aftertaste. It is more than a little similar to tiguanyin.

As the cup cools and nears room temperature the smell either goes away or I just stopped noticing it. The creaminess mentioned does come out to play. The taste remains popcorn bordering on kettle corn.

I always try to put my preconceptions aside and judge a tea on what it is trying to be. Not on what I want it to be. This tea does not match the description, at least not in my opinion. It also does not appeal to my personal tastes.

Zen Tea, I have loved all your teas so far but this one. Coconut Oolong, sorry but I am not a fan.

Visit Zen Tea on the web at

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Zen Tea, Curled Dragon Silver Tip

Zen Tea Description:
The name refers to the unusual and striking shape and color of the leaves, which are rolled into tightly-curled dragon-like shapes with a silvery color. It is a good example of the high level of hand-work. Infused it produces a complex, sweet and somewhat floral liquor. Entirely handmade, it is a must for green tea lovers.

Ingredients: Tippy green tea leaves

Price: $22/100g or $0.55/2.5g serving

Sample provided by Zen Tea for review.

My Review:
The samples come sealed in aluminum mylar pouches with a description and steeping instructions clearly printed on the label. I cut the top off, opened the bag and inhaled. It is a sweet aroma that reminds me of cut raked grass that has been raked and left until it is moist from the morning dew. A truly calming aroma.

I scooped out half the sample and examined the leaf. At first it looks a little like oolong nuggets until you focus on them. They are not balls like pearls. They remind me of the Phoenix Pearls I recently sampled except these are green and silver. Seeing dragon on the label, you can easily make the connection. They are quite gorgeous. Did I mention they smell good?

In the press they go, along with 12oz of well below boiling water. The resulting liquor is a lovely light yellow green and very clear. The curls have unfolded to reveal tiny little whole leaves. The scent of the wet leaf is definite veggies.

The sip is, harrumph, I don’t think I got this as hot as I thought I did. It is cool already. The unaltered taste is a little sweet but light and passes through a short but nice bitter bite that fades into a light green aftertaste. I unapologetically add some sweetener at this point and the flavors really pop. This is now a wonderfully creamy green tea. The bite is smoothed out in the late sip yet asserts itself well in the lingering aftertaste. Zen Tea continues to impress me. This is a really nice cup of green tea.

Second mug. Apparently this is a day I should not be allowed to touch the kettle. I got the water too hot this time. Amazingly the tea did not seem to care. It did not become bitter or gross. After it cooled enough I would not burn my tongue, it turned into almost as delicious as the first cup.

In the hands of a master tea brewing this would be a really good tea. In the hands of a bumbling boob, this is still a pretty good tea. This is not completely idiot-proof tea but it’s fairly close. I think this would go another cup, but I think I have done all the damage I want to do for one day.

Visit Zen Tea online at

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Zen Tea, Phoenix Pearl

Zen Tea Description:
Naturally sweet and smooth with a touch of earthiness. Comprised of only the highest quality leaves and buds, expertly rolled into a pearl like shape. Subtle cocoa notes whisper gently as each pearl unfurls delivering a superior tea experience not to be missed.

Ingredients: Black tea from Yunnan, China

Price: $10/100g or $0.25/2.5g serving

Sample provided by Zen Tea for review.

My Description:
I cut open the sample envelope and breathed in a wonderfully grainy bouquet. Removing a scoop of leaf reveals dark brown and gold ‘pearls’ that appear more as knots than balls. The picture does not do this tea justice. It is quite pretty to look at. As with previously reviewed Zen Tea samples, the brewing instructions are clearly labeled. I used about half the sample in my press with just under boiling water for a three minute steep.

The brew is golden rootbeer colored in the press and much darker in the mug. The nearly unfurled leaf is long and chocolate in color. The aroma is awesome. Just as described, well except the cocoa notes aren’t whispering. They are calling out loud and clear. Mmmm.

The sip is very smooth. There is no bitterness, or anything resembling harsh in the taste. It is mildly drying. I did notice a little tongue tingle early in the cup. The first cup is not how I would define earthy. As I describe flavors, this tastes grainy, with light malt, and definite cocoa notes. There is a kind of wine-like fruitiness in the aftertaste. This is a very nice cup.

Interesting thing about teas like this, the whole time you are enjoying the cup the aroma of the leaf in the press is begging for a resteep. Obeying the call, I found the second cup developed a nuttiness and more plantlike flavors. This is getting closer to what I think of as earthy.

Mug three still had plenty of color and flavor. I did not detect anything new in this cup but to be honest I was pretty distracted. All I know is I enjoyed it.

If you are hoping for a brisk bite I suggest you look elsewhere, but if like me you are a sucker for the smooth deep mellow flavors of Chinese black tea then this is an exceptional example.

Visit Zen Tea online at

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Savoy Tea Co., Caramel Apple Almond

Savoy Tea Company description:
The sweet goodness of apple with roasted and caramelized almonds and a touch of cinnamon will whisk you back to simpler days. A herbal (because it doesn't contain the actual tea leaf) this is a sweet caffeine-free indulgence for all ages.

Caffeine-Free Ingredients: apple pieces, planed and crushed almonds, cinnamon pieces, beetroot pieces, flavoring

Price: $10/4oz

My Description:
This came in the mail as a surprise gift from a tea friend. It is my first Savoy Tea. I really should start reading the ingredients before I start steeping. This is my first cup of the day and I really need caffeine to kick start me into the morning. Unfortunately this is an herbal tea. I will try not to let the lack of morning buzz influence my review.

The mix is kind of pretty and autumn looking. It is comprised of little light brown chunks of stuff. Dry it smells nicely of almonds. I steeped this with just under boiling water for about 12 minutes per the instructions clearly printed on the label. Savoy gets extra points for the ingredient list and the instructions. Thank you. This brews up somewhere between pink and red in color. It looks festive and dessert-like. The aroma is cinnamon and nuts.

In the sip you notice the almonds throughout. At the front you catch apple that quickly melts into what I think is the beetroot. I do not know what beetroot is or what it is supposed to taste like. Maybe that is what I am tasting, and maybe not. I can’t describe it and can’t even tell you if I like it. Maybe it will grow on me, and maybe not. This is quickly overcome by a nice cinnamon blast. Not the harsh kind. Rather like cinnamon on a Cinnabon roll. Mmmmm Cinnabon.

This would make for a very nice twist on hot cinnamon cider sitting in front of a fireplace late in the evening.

Visit Savoy Tea Company on the web.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tea From Taiwan, Zhong Shu Hu Oolong Tea

Tea From Taiwan Description:
Zhong Shu Hu oolong tea comes from the Zhong Shu Hu area of Ali Mountain (Alishan) – one of the most famous tea producing regions of Taiwan. The climate here is cool and moist with cloud cover and mists every day. These conditions are ideal for tea because the plants grow very slowly and produce tender, flavorful tea leaves and buds.

Zhong Shu Hu oolong tea has a sweet taste and refined aroma. Each brewing brings out new flavours and taste sensations. This tea has a complexity that provides continuous nuances with every cup.

Zhong Shu Hu oolong tea can be re-brewed up to six times while maintaining an excellent flavour. We recommend the Gong Fu method of preparation to bring out the best of this excellent tea.

Sample provided by Tea From Taiwan

Price: $43/150g or $0.86/3g serving

My Review:
This is my third brightly colored sample pack from Tea From Taiwan. I cut off top and sniffed. There is not much scent in the package, just a light oolong with maybe a hint of mint like notes. The leaf is rolled in typical fashion and is a darker than the other samples I’ve tasted from Tea From Taiwan. No instructions are printed on the label so I used half the packet or about 3g in my press with 12oz of heavily steaming water. My steep time was two minutes. The resulting liquor is bright yellow and quite clear. The aroma of the wet leaf is lightly buttered vegetables. The brew is an aromatic floral. I can catch the scent while the cup is sitting on the desk.

I begin the sip with out additives. While hot, like yesterday’s oolong, the flavor starts very light. Then, I think butter, no wait; it’s more complex than that. As a child I would do stupid things, like put my tongue on the aluminum window frame. I know, I know. Anyway, the sensation I get when tasting this is like the aluminum frame but with butter. Actually this is way better than it sounds. As it cools, the aluminum disappears and is replaced by a more traditional green oolong floral flavor. The aftertaste is lightly floral and not as noticeable as the previous samples from Tea From Taiwan. A nice cup.

Now I add my Splenda. Oh, wow! Definitely add sweetener to this if you don’t object to the practice. This has come alive. It’s alive! It’s alive! Now the flavor is much fuller. It is lightly nutty and floral, but the main difference is a very prominent spiciness. On one sip I think this reminds me of apple crisp. On the next, I believe it is nutmeg. Whatever, it is just good. The aftertaste is also stronger and more joyous, though not nearly as long lasting as many oolongs. This is now a really good cup. At this point, I grabbed a brownie from the break room. The flavors blended like they were meant to be together. Awesome.

Cup two also steeped for two minutes takes off right where cup one ended. I took one taste without additives and tore open the packet with even pretending I was going to drink it unsweetened. So good.

Cup three I pretty much shipwrecked. I appear to have been distracted and must have added two packets of sweetener. Wowza is this sweet. Still nice and spicy with a good solid aftertaste but wowza is this sweet.

Cup four starts slightly mushroom tasting but once it cools it picks right back in with the spicy floral green oolong flavor.

Oolong fascinates me for a lot of reasons, the main being the small amount of leaf you think you are starting with, and the massive amount that you find in the press on the second or third steeping.

This may be my favorite of the samples I received from Tea From Taiwan. The Hua Gang had the single most amazing first cup but this one stays delicious through many steeps.

Visit Tea From Taiwan Website.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tea from Taiwan, Shi Zuo Oolong Tea

Tea From Taiwan Description:
Shi Zuo oolong tea (wu long tea) is grown in the Shi Zuo (Stone Table) area of Alishan (Mount Ali). At an altitude of 1300 meters, Shi Zuo has a cool, moist climate that is ideal for growing tea.

Shi Zuo oolong tea is hand picked and hand processed in the traditional manner of Taiwanese High Mountain oolongs. The processing results in ball-shaped tea pellets which consist of two or three leaves and a bud. These pellets open up during brewing to release the full flavor of the tea.

In order to experience the full potential of this tea, we recommend brewing it Gong Fu style. This method of brewing brings out the sweetness and complex undertones that mark this tea as one of the best that Taiwan has to offer.

Sample provided by Tea From Taiwan

Price: $41/150g or $0.82/3g serving

My Review:
I cut open the brightly colored sample packet and was greeted with a lovely grain aroma. The nuggets are tightly wrapped and grayish green in appearance with some lighter streaks. There are no steeping instructions printed on the sample so I used half the sample (3g) in my press with 12oz of heavily steaming water. My steep time was 2 minutes. The liquor is bright and excellently clear with a yellow color. The leaf has only partially relaxed, and has a fresh light steamed vegetable scent.

I begin this tasting without additives and the disclaimer that I normally add Splenda to my hot teas, although I almost never sweeten my iced teas. While hot, the best I can describe this is to compare it to a swell effect on a guitar. Once the strings are strummed the sound starts tiny and swells in volume until it fills the room. Being unaccustomed to unsweetened tea this starts very light, almost watery and swells to a crescendo in the floral aftertaste. The breath is left cool and fresh. The taste of this first cup is similar to a tiguanyin but lighter.

Adding Splenda brings out nutty or plant notes that change to a light coppery taste only momentarily before fading into the floral aftertaste. I can’t say whether this is better with or without sweetener. It is neither. It is just different. It does turn lightly buttery as it cools. Maybe it would have done that anyway had I waited. The cooler it gets the more I like it. Room temperature it develops a sort of cinnamon note.

The second cup @ two minutes was very similar to the first but more pronounced. I found myself enjoying it a little more. I am also noticing the spice I caught in the cool cup is now more of a light clove note late in the sip. With cup three @ about 3 minutes, I am just accepting this appeals to me more the colder it gets.

This is a light green oolong similar to tiguanyin without a heavy aftertaste. It is still going strong after three mugs but I am out of time.

Visit Tea From Taiwan website.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Tea From Taiwan, Hua Gang Oolong Tea

Tea From Taiwan Description:
This premium-quality oolong tea is grown in the Li Shan mountain range at an altitude of 2400 meters. The climate of these high mountains is ideal for growing fine oolong tea. The cool air and high humidity produce a tea with full, robust flavor and long-lasting aftertaste.

The brewed tea has an exquisite aroma and brews to an appealing amber liquor. The leaves can can be re-brewed many times while maintaining a full flavor.

Tea grown on Mount Li (Li Shan or Pear Mountain) is the most prized oolong tea in Taiwan. It is ideally suited for gong fu style brewing.

Sample provided by Tea From Taiwan

Price: $61/150g or about 1.22 per 3g serving

My Review:
The sample packet is brightly colored and vacuum-sealed. I cut open the top and noticed an oxygen absorber packet. The dry leaf has no appreciable scent. The sample is 6g so I used half of it for this round. The nuggets are very tightly packed and dark green with some lighter colored streaks. There are some stems visible.

There are no steeping instructions on the packet so I used my normal parameters - 3g of leaf in my press with water that is heavily steaming but well below boiling. I steeped for 2 minutes. The leaf pretty much stayed near the surface. The color of the liquor is a light yellow. The wet leaf is not completely relaxed and there is already a lot of it. The wet leaf aroma is that of steamed spinach. The liquor scent is green oolong – kind of floral.

I sipped this without additives and it is the single most buttery almost popcorn flavored tea I have tried to date. Really exceptional. By mid sip it blooms with a short floral blast. It literally comes out of nowhere. Just as it almost reaches a point where it would concern me it just disappears, fading into something akin to the smell of a geranium plant mixed with the taste of dandelion. The aftertaste is lingering green oolong and floral. Ok, the more I sip the more I am sensing a spice flavor. I believe it is nutmeg or something that I associate with squash pie. What a ride!

I added sweetener so see how it would respond. I must say this is the exception to the rule as far as my tastes go. It actually tastes so delicious without the additives that I wish I hadn’t tampered with it. Trust me, that seldom happens. I love my Splenda but not with the first cup of this wonderful tea.

With cup two I noticed the leaf had expanded to the point I could not see through the press. The color of the tea in the cup is a little darker yellow with a tint of light green. The butteriness is very much reduced. This is now a highly floral green oolong. The aftertaste is somewhat like biting into the rind of a watermelon.

The third cup is much lighter in flavor. It still has a strong and lingering aftertaste.

I really like this. Highly recommend!

Visit Tea from Taiwan website

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Nature’s Tea Leaf, Buddha Hand Oolong

Nature's Tea Leaf Description:
Organic Iron Buddha Hand Oolong Tea are strips of tea leaves with a dark green and black bloom. The leaves are naturally withered under the strong sun, oxidized, and then tightly wrapped and rolled. The Buddha Hand Oolong, so named for the resemblance to the leaves of the fruit tree "Buddha's Hand" or "fingered citron", has a delicate aroma and an audacious flavor that is refreshing when served hot or cold.

My Review:
This sample was provided by Nature’s Tea Leaf. The dry leaf is interesting. It is rolled, but not in balls, rather more as elongated pods that resemble the cocoons I find on our cedar trees. The dry scent is grain. Once I put it in the press I thought I detected cocoa. Neither of these scents do I think of when thinking oolong. I used a half of my scoop, looked at it in the press and thought, this is not enough so I nearly doubled it. The water was heated to almost boiling. I steeped per instructions at 3 minutes.

The brew is a pale yellow as best I can tell in my dark office. The wet leaf scent is best described as green. It is not vegetable or floral, just green, with the faintest of roasted notes. The leaf has not unfurled completely so I am not sure what we have yet.

The sip when hot is a little light on the first cup. It first seems non-descript, then suddenly bam, bam, bam. It goes from tasting watery to mineral, then immediately changes to floral, followed by mellow roasted. The aftertaste lingers long and floral of green oolong with a cooling breath sensation. Pretty awesome for one sip. Yet it is so light, that gulping this, you would miss all but the roasted note and aftertaste. As the cup cools I am noticing more of a woodsy taste early in the sip. The roastiness reminds me of light genmaicha, the floral aftertaste is somewhere between tiguanyin and high mountain oolong but more subtle than either.

Steeping a second mug resulted in a press full of huge leaf - ok I didn't need as much as I thought. It is still not completely unfurled but there is a lot of it. Oddly, it stills smells just green. The brew is golden. The roasted taste has mostly gone in to hiding. It is replaced by a creaminess. The aftertaste continues to grow stronger. It is now largely tiguanyin, but the cooler the cup, the more it takes on a citrus type flavor.

I decided to try something different on the third mug. I used a cold brewing technique I have only started experimenting with recently. I poured cool water (not heated) over my leaf and set the press aside for an hour and a half. The result was the most flavorful cup yet from this tea. Seriously good. The sip was what I call geranium as that is what it reminds me of as I taste. It had the same great aftertaste as when I used hot water.

I know this has many more cups in it, as it is only improving. Unfortunately three cups is all I have time for this day.

What I really like about this one is the complexity. It morphs and mutates during the sip and through the temperature changing as well as with different steeps. The downside is I am not sure how well the first cup translates to the average western tea drinker’s tastes. I have noticed a tendency to embrace big flavors. This may start too subtle for a lot of tea drinkers and be overlooked by those more familiar with the bite of the Assam monster. The aftertaste of Buddha Hand is quite strong and delightful even in the first cup and only intensifies in later steeps. Hopefully that will be enough to grab the attention of any one trying this wonderful tea for the first time. This one deserves to be steeped multiple times.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Nature's Tea Leaf, Dragon Pearls Green Tea

Nature's Leaf Tea Description:
Dragon Pearl Green Tea is made using tender leaves plucked in early spring. These silvery buds are partially withered, lightly fired, wilted, and baked to enhance the quality and silvery-white appearance. The tea is then moistened with light steaming so the buds can be twisted and hand rolled into a pearl shape, then baked to amplify the smooth flavor and aroma. When you infuse these pearls in your tea cup, you will see the top two leaves and the bud spring to life. Dragon Pearl yields a smooth body similar to white tea with the rich, semisweet flavor of roasted chestnut. A great tasting tea to enjoy anytime.

My Review:
This generous sample was provided by Nature’s Leaf Tea. This is an unflavored green tea rolled into tiny little balls. I love the look of dragon pearls. Each individual pearl is hand rolled and I always find them amazingly beautiful. As is my habit I sniffed the pouch, and it may be my imagination, but the leaf has a minty green aroma.

The steeping instructions are printed on the package. It calls for 1 tsp of leaf per 8oz of water. I used 12oz so I guessed at 1 1/2tsp – the pearls make it a challenge to figure out how much leaf you actually need. Of course not as big a challenge as a tightly rolled oolong. This calls for a cool temperature of 175F and a one minute steep.

After steeping the brew has only the palest yellow-green tint. In fact in almost just looks like water. The leaf is only part of the way unfurled and has a nice green steamed vegetable aroma.

In the sip I notice no bitterness or astringency. There are no roasted notes. This is simply clean fresh Chinese green tea. It has a milky feel as it is swallowed. The aftertaste is lingering and pleasant. It leaves a cooling sensation on your breath. This is a nice solid cup.

The second cup at 1 1/2 minutes is very light pea green. The leaf scent reminds me of lake water which is much more pleasant than it may sound. This cup is much sweeter. Still quite good.

Cup three at 2 minutes. I can’t really comment on the taste as I had pepperoni with lunch. The leaf is completely unfurled. It is comprised of rather large leaves. I had to play with it for a moment (because I am a big kid) and it is soft and fluffy.

Cup four at 3 minutes is tasting a slightly mushroom with a metallic edge. It is still nicely flavorful, however I am going to halt steeping here on this one.

On Steepster, I called this the Sara Lee of teas. After all, who doesn’t like Dragon Pearls? This is a really solid Chinese green tea.

Visit Nature's Tea Leaf on the web.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Nature's Tea Leaf, Silver Needle White Tea

Nature's Leaf Tea Description:
Organic Silver Needle White Tea has exquisitely shaped buds enveloped in white down. This white tea excites with its savory aroma, rich body and a sweet flavor with rounded finish that is soft and airy on the palate. White Teas which include our Organic Silver Needle variety are known to promote weight loss and stimulate the metabolism. This low caffeine antioxidant packed tea is delicious hot or cold and can be enjoyed any time of day.

My Review:
The one ounce sample was provided by Nature’s Leaf Tea. The pouch is stuffed with beautiful white and grayish-green leaf. Not only does it smell so fresh and amazing but it also is the softest silver needle leaf I have encountered. I love silver needle. I am looking forward to this cup and trying not to get my expectations too high.

I used my wooden scoop to gather a generous portion of lovely leaf and placed it in my press with 12oz of water heated to a cool 175F. I steeped for about 2 1/2 minutes. The instructions say 4-5. This brewed up to the lightest of tinted liquors. The wet leaf still has a lot of white down in it. The smell of the leaf makes me think of a field of grain, maybe alfalfa.

The sip is a light, refreshing, white tea with a lingering fresh aftertaste. This is a nice complex cup, much more so than a white peony. I find it most refreshing when it reaches room temperature. It is kind earthy, a little fruity with some oats thrown in for good measure.

Next I added a little leaf and a little time to see how that would affect the taste.
While the second cup is steeping, I want to comment again on the aroma of the leaf in the drained press. The whole time I was sipping, this wonderful scent was rolling out of the press, keeping me distracted. Wow, this is fresh.

Ok, adding more leaf and time makes for a darker and bolder cup. It does not bring out any new flavors. I like my white tea to be delicate, so for me the shorter steep is the correct one. Either way this is a very nice silver needle.

Visit Nature's Tea Leaf on the web.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Nature's Tea Leaf, Fujian Congou Black Tea

Nature's Tea Leaf Description:
Fujian Congou Black Tea is a quintessential black tea that consists of long leaves rolled into slender, striped tea leaves from the Fujian province in southern China. Congou tea is made from large mature leaves and specifically does not include the bud. With its celebrated history Fujian Congou black tea has a rich and uplifting aroma and when infused has a pleasant, smooth, and rich flavor that promotes balance and harmony.

My Review:
This is my cup of the morning. The generous 1oz sample was provided by Nature’s Leaf Tea. The packaging has steeping instructions clearly shown on the front. The one thing it lacks is a description of what is inside. I don’t know if that is a plus or a minus. One the one hand, I would rather not have a preconceived notion of what I am about to sample. One the other hand, I have never had a Congou tea before and I don’t know what to expect.

The dry leaf is dark, small, sharp, and wiry. It smells of grain. I used 1 1/2tsp for 12oz of water heated to approx 195F. I steeped for 2 1/2 minutes in my press. The brew is dark caramel and still has the grain scent as does the wet leaf. The leaf is small fairly evenly cut pieces and chocolate in appearance.

There is no question this is a Fujian tea from the very first sip. It has that honey sweet, grainy goodness with more than a hint of malt. It has the yam notes. Yet there is something unique about it as well. It has what I can only describe as a darker edge way low underneath that comes out more in the sweet lingering aftertaste. The cooler the cup becomes the more I am detecting this as a roasted note or light smoke.

As the cup emptied I noticed the scent of the leaf still in the press. It was fruity with hints of chocolate or to be more exact, cocoa. I needed a refill. Cup two is similar to cup one, sweeter with less of the darker notes.

Cup three is lighter and is still very flavorful.

I read a description somewhere on the net that compared Fujian Congou to a cross between Yunnan and Keemun. Yes, I agree. It is very similar to a Bailin Gongfu I sampled but with the Congou I could not bring the chocolate notes out in the sip.

This is a very nice black tea. Fans of Fujian teas will love this. Those who generally dislike black teas, as too harsh or bitter/astringent, should give this one a try.

Visit Nature's Leaf Tea home on the web