A deep and abiding love of Oriental Beauty

A deep and abiding love of Oriental Beauty

Stunning is right. 2016 Qi Lai Shan Oolong from Jade Leaf is a stunner that won't be around for long.

Sometimes a tea is so good I actually don't want to write about it. But I don't want to be selfish, so I come clean with you, dear readers, and this is one of those times. This is an amazing tea. This is THE tea to turn people onto teas who have never had a good tea. Its simply, clearly, astonishingly delicious. Every single steep.
(I am only writing this after literally just leaving paypal where I bought 4 ounces of this. I had to make sure I was covering my naturally selfish little monkey-butt.)

This is a tea to watch and from the moment you do it starts putting on a show. Pretty, pretty leaves, look at them swell, opening for you but not too fast, making the steeps last, six, seven times. Oh my. I never knew.

Here is a link to Emilio's blog post about this tea, a must read!
I will let the post speak for itself and just add we, as a tea community are blessed to have this man in our midst. Find the tea here!


Located in a remote, pristine high elevation garden on the edge of a national forest Qi Lai Shan is close to Li Shan. Even in Taiwan, Qi lai Shan is a still largely unknown growing region. This is because this area is relatively new to tea cultivation. Only locals who know where the best tea in Taiwan is know about Qi Lai Shan. This tea is grown at 2050m. The dry leaves have a clean fragrance of high mountains. The taste is pure and buttery with a long smooth aftertaste. This year it snowed in Qi Lai Shan during the winter, making this spring's tea "snow tea". Because of it's rarity, snow tea is renowned for it's excellence. If you are a high-mountain lover tea we highly recommend this tea.

Yuen Nuen Hong Tai Chang Sheng 2004 from god bless them......TEASIDE Teas out of Thailand!

The last of a really enjoyable tea. Sad day. Sure, I could have split it in two, maybe even three, more sessions but decided to go out with a bang and brewed up 8 grams of this wonderful tea and have made a day of it. Tea Side out of Thailand offers this pretty intense 2004 Sheng which is quite a changeling with each progressive steep.
Around steep five the stone fruit came on strong and so did the sweating and feeling of euphoria. Not the tea-drunk down and dirty euphoria of a good Shou but a Sheng-high, lighter, full of breezes, a slight shivering down the back. It's been a year since I got samples from Tea side, maybe it is time to get some more and order a whole cake of this very drinkable 2004 at the same time. My husband even liked it and was amazed at the difference in flavors he got out of trying multiple steeps! That's a first for him in regard to his willingness to try something and then come back for more.

The Jade Leaf's Shan Cha

A real palate cleansing tea, this wonderful black from The Jade Leaf has the taste of grain to it, a lack of florals and a bit of little nuttiness that all work super well together.
It is tangy yet smooth and I can see why this super high-quality tea is so prized. A clean, sweet aftertaste, without being too floral, more like a mild fruit, and a thick, velvety mouthfeel make this one of my favorite experiments of the weekend.
My steeps turned out perfectly, in my humble opinion, with 4 grams in a 90 ml gaiwan with water temps of approximately 207f.

(My steeps are getting stronger and more tart, as a wakefulness comes over me that feels very much like the beginning of a mild and gentle tea-drunk. Awesome.)

'Doi Mae Salong' aka Dark Oolong Tea from Tea-Village in Thailand

This particular offering from from Tea-Village is very, very good. Tea-Village offers a range of interesting tea varieties grown in Thailand but this staple dark Oolong is my favorite so far. 'Doi Mae ( 'cause it's so fun to say) Salong' is warming, and rich, plummy and full bodied, even from drinking the rinse. It numbs the tongue slightly and warms the belly deeply. Four grams in a small 90 ml gram pot and I'm good to go for at least six steeps at just under boiling. I'd write more, but since I don't see it on their website I fear it is not available at this time. Plenty to see on that site anyway, and a lot more teas from Tea-Village I can't wait to try.

Hong Shui "Mi Xiang" Organic Summer 2015. It's WHAT?

                     Sold out. Serious bummer, dudes. Hope you stocked up.

As far as bug-bitten Oolongs go, this one is a winner with its smooth honey-like nectar flavor and its creamy depth from steep one. I only wish I had bought more than I did. Next time I will listen to the tea-head gurus and advisors who in kindness give me heads-up when good organic stuff like this is around!
Keep it up, TaiwanOolongs.com and hope to see a version of this again next year!

Another beautiful experience from Thailand. Tea-Side's offering of a very unique tea, Lao Chin Shin Oolong

From 1995, this aged Lao Shin Chin Thai Oolong is different from anything else I've tried so far. It really surprised me with its very strong plummy, or perhaps cherry notes. In fact, if anything, it reminds me of the very odd Japanese 2015 Bancha Goishicha I just bought from What-Cha(and am willing to share if you contact me, because it is too weird NOT to share with other bemused and delighted tea-heads.) I think the comparison is apt due to the fermentation and the intense plummy notes. this was the last of a hearty sample sent to me last year by Tea-Side and for this experience I have been continually full of gratitude.
Started my tea morning at 6 am with a dark roasted Dong Ding which I have already written about and now, two hours later, found myself with a yen to fnish off the last five grams of the Thai delight. Super yummy, and still for sale at www.tea-side.com. Get some while you can. Very nice change of pace and a rather intense qi energy, gentle yet persistent and makes me want to go create something beautiful!

The only thing on my To-Do List...BUY THIS TEA! Totem Tea's Dark Roast Tie Guan Yin.

No, I don't actually have a To-Do List. If I had one, I would lose it, so I plan accordingly and simply have nothing to 'do' if I can help it. I do have a Honey-Do List, of course. That list lives in my head. It be a damn long list!
Anyway. Moving right along.
This Dark Roast Tie Guan Yin sample is the BOMB.

I don't always run off and buy what I sample but this is certainly one of those times. Totem Tea nails it with the words, "Warm caramel, burnt sugar and molasses." First and second steeps after initial flash rinse were eye-rollingly good. Used five grams in my new Jian Shui Gaiwan, temperature approximately 206f and maybe a 15 second steep on both, maybe less. Third steep and I started feeling a warm humming in my head, and the smoky 'burny-ness' came out a little more. Finding that pleasant, that almost bitter-deep depth I decide to do the next steep per Totem's instructions, 90 whole seconds! Never, ever have I steeped anything that long.
Frankly I just count in my head generally, and pour when it feels right but this time? This time I asked my Alexa to 'set a timer for ninety seconds' and I waited it out. It felt like ten minutes, I almost didn't make it. The soup is now very dark amber, very burnt sugar tasting with a strong mineral finish. It's f'ing charming.

(My head feels like it is going to implode. I don't know how I am even functioning writing this post. Damn. This is some special stuff! Who gets tea drunk from TGY?!)
(Maybe the extra high is from the crystals!)

You'll want an 'aroma cup' for this one. What-Cha's Vietnamese Red Buffalo Oolong.

God, I must look the fool. I've got my nose so deep into this little Lin's 'aroma cup' if my schnoz were any bigger the damn thing would get stuck. This tea is so goddamned delicious, it is, in fact the best example of a Vietnamese Oolong I've had so far in my tea journey.

Four grams of the tightly rolled, dark little nuggets into my Lin's pot with very quick steeps, water temp approx 206f. I could tell from the scent coming off the still dry tea, while sitting in the pre-heated pot that I was in for a treat. And of course sometimes the scent of the leaves doesn't quite tell the truth of the taste of the tea. Often one is awed by the scent, and less than wowed by the taste. Not so in this case. MAN. Eight steeps so far! Very full bodied soup, very rich in color, and the aroma continues to fill the room. Or maybe it's just because I still am huffing the empty aroma cup like a dumbass with a pot of glue but in my case, I AM actually getting something out of it. Happiness.
Check out What-Cha Tea!

How about another fruit stuffed tea? How about Bitter-melon stuffed with roasted Tie Guan Yin Oolong? Um..... YES!

I don't even know what 'bitter-melon' is, and I don't care.
I don't like melon but I had the feeling when I ordered this, that that small fact wasn't going to get in the way of my experience. How melon-y can it be, right?
And indeed, I AM right. The little ring of melon rind itself is simply gorgeous to me, looks like something hand crafted, something a little unreal, a tiny crown a fairy-king might where. In fact once all the tea had made its way out of the ring of melon, ( and there was a LOT of tea, maybe I should not have used my new 60 ml/2 ounce gaiwan!) I slipped it onto my finger, now a rubbery, but solid little disc of weirdness, and finding it too big for even my fattest digits sadly handed it over to the parrot to nibble on. Yikes! Went right over her head like a collar, that's not good! Get over here, Toriel! ( Yes, 'Toriel' as in the goat-mom figure in 'Undertale' named thus so I could keep the bird. My teen hates birds but loves Undertale, hence the name. Smart, right?)
So anyway readers, the tea itself is a nicely roasted August 2015 Tie Guan Yin, nothing insanely exciting, but quite pleasant nonetheless. If there is a melon flavor accompanying the brews, I did not pick up on it, but in my defense, (or prosecution; I had just eaten Domino's pizza so who knows what the hell subtleties I missed in the tea. Again, brilliant me!)

This came in fabulous little individual packets of green, and once the green packets were opened each little round rind was again wrapped nice and tight in clear wrapping. Love the care. Yunnan Sourcing again is the go-to place for trying odd and fun creations. Want to try some before committing to a whole bags worth? Write me and I'll send the first 4 respondents a sample of it on me!

A delicious high quality puerh leaf that has been stuffed into the rind of a whole tangerine!

Mid-July and the boredoms start kicking in. Need to order some teas that are different from anything I have ever had. I am leaning so heavily this month on my new favorite tea, but I, and the tea itself needs a break, the whole 400 gram cake is a third gone! So hence the arrival today of Yunnan Sourcing's Gong Ting Puerh Golden Horse 8685 ripe stuffed into tangerines!
The leaves are stuffed in wet, and then allowed to dry in the sun for a week. some may say the orange flavor is too strong, but I would not be one of those people, I am totally digging it. I am putting rather largish chunks of the tangerine rind into the vessel and am, I must admit, manically and utterly enjoying myself.

This is a fun tea for a 100f degree California day, and I am happy to report it is a major deal at $5.00 for three whole tangerines, individually packaged. Not to mention that YS is now sending out items from the U.S. so no more long waits, at least on some items. My second cake of 2005 Mengku Wild Arbor does seem to be coming from China, but most other items are being sent out from Oregon which is great news for people like me with an almost physical ache to find packages at my doorstep on a daily basis.
Off to enjoy my tea. Abiding as usual in whatever natural state my hormones and brain chemistry has got planned for me, I remain, your faithful,