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Tag: Tie Guan Yin

Yunnan Sourcing August 2015 Jade Box: Yunnan Green Tea and 2 Oolongs

After trying out last month’s box, I was looking forward to the Yunnan Sourcing August 2015 box. You may recall that I really liked the Tie Guan Yin they provided and that I was also pleased by their Phoenix oolong. So how do this month’s teas compare?

Certified Organic Yunnan Green Tea Spring 2015

Certified Organic by COFCC, this tea is picked in the early Spring and is from the Dali region of Western Yunnan. This is a high altitude green tea which comes from 1900 meters above sea level.

I’ve never been a big fan of Yunnan green teas, and this tea is no exception, unfortunately. This is a pretty middle-of-the-road green tea. The leaves are dark, curled little nuggets of forest green with a vegetal scent.


I tried making this tea twice before reviewing, using the same temperature and amounts of leaf to water, but using different steep times: 1.5 tsp of leaf and 12 oz of water at 80°C. I steeped it once for 2 minutes and once for 3 minutes. Both times the resulting liquor was a pale greenish orange colour. While the 3 minute steep was stronger, the taste for both steeps was otherwise quite similar: vegetal, somewhat smoky, somewhat mossy.

A perfectly serviceable green tea, but otherwise uninspiring.

You can buy Certified Organic Yunnan Green Tea Spring 2015 here.

Wu Yi Shan “Bai Ji Guan” Rock Oolong Tea Spring 2015

Bai Ji Guan (aka White Cockscomb) is a classic Wu Yi varietal originating from the “Bat Cave” deep in the Wu Yi mountains.  First recorded in the Ming Dynasty it was given this name because the tops of bushes have a bright yellow-green appearance that in strong sunlight is almost white in color.

The leaves for this tea were long twists of dark woody brown with hints of khaki and green. Quite pretty! I measured out 5 grams of dry leaf into a gaiwan, rinsed the leaves for a few seconds, and did 5-6 steeps in 90°C water starting at 10 seconds and increasing the time by 10 seconds for each subsequent steep.

The dry leaves smelled bready, malty, and molasses-like — this is a flavour profile I’m quickly learning to enjoy. The wet leaf smelled smoky and fruity, like tobacco and fresh plums. All of the steeps brewed up a deep clear yellow, though the initial steeps had a greenish overtone that faded over time to show a more true yellow.

In the beginning this tea was really mild, with a neutral flavour and a slight honeyed sweetness and a mild orchid note. It didn’t smell very strongly, either. It woke up a bit on the second steep, where it smelled both of minerals and licorice and tasted more strongly of orchids, bread, and green wood. The second steep also had a grassy note at the back of my mouth.

After the second steep, the leaf lightened in colour and looked almost like army camouflage!


The third steep had a strong mineral smell (like wet granite or flagstones) and my tongue started to tingle. The tingling wasn’t quite astringent, but there was a chemical sensation to it. Over subsequent steps, this sensation spread all across the back of my tongue. The fourth steep continued to have that weird chemical/alkaline note — on the fifth steep I realized it reminded me of dish soap. Weird! Why do I keep tasting cleaning products in my tea?!

This tea tasted pretty consistent across 6 steeps, though I do wish it had tasted more like bread and molasses. The final steep resulted in dryness at the back of my throat, and I still got mineral/orchid/chemical notes.

You can buy Wu Yi Shan “Bai Ji Guan” Rock Oolong Tea  Spring 2015 here.

Spring 2015 Light Roast Premium Tie Guan Yin Anxi Oolong Tea

This lightly roasted tea is made from Premium Grade Anxi Tie Guan Yin from Gan De village.  The tea was roasted for about 6 hours at a low temperature of about 50C.  This light roasting gives the Tie Guan Yin a softer almost sweet taste to it.

After last month’s revelatory spring Tie Guan Yin, I was really excited about this tea. Luckily, it didn’t disappoint. The big difference is in the leaves. Last month’s TGY had leaves that were a beautiful emerald green. This month’s TGY has leaves that are a darker, more muted green. However, they unfurl in the same lovely, crinkly way.


While this tea is not quite as distinctive as its counterpart from last month, it’s floral, light, and quite creamy. I brewed this western-style: about 3.5 teaspoons to 3 cups water at 90°C for 2 minutes. The resulting brew was a deep, clear buttercup yellow.

What’s interesting is that I can taste the difference that the light roast has made between this month’s TGY and last month’s. This month’s tea liquid itself is darker, and I’m getting notes of hay and wood in addition to the flowery orchid/gardenia notes from last time. The cream flavour that I sensed in last month’s box has deepened and intensified into something more buttery — if I didn’t know better, I would have thought this was a milk oolong.

I actually steeped this twice: I let the leaves sit overnight and made a smaller cup of tea the next morning. The liquor was still a deep buttery yellow but the flavour was more mineral/metallic. Still a pleasant cup, though.

You can buy Spring 2015 Light Roast Premium Tie Guan Yin Anxi Oolong Tea here.


There were actually four teas in the Yunnan Sourcing August 2015 box, an herbal tea made of dried ginseng flowers, but the smell was so weird (it smelled like broccoli!) that I decided to avoid that little adventure. My favourite of this month’s teas was the lightly roasted Tie Guan Yin. Who knew I’d go for this variety two times in a row?

Tea Reviews: Yunnan Sourcing July 2015 Jade Tea Box

Yunnan Sourcing is a tea vendor based in China with a very good reputation among tea junkies for providing high-quality teas from across China and Taiwan for very reasonable prices. They also offer a variety of monthly subscription boxes. I’ve signed up for a subscription box of oolong and green teas (aka: the “jade” box) to share with a friend, and this is the first month of our joint subscription.

I’m super excited – let the tasting for the Yunnan Sourcing July 2015 box begin!

Certified Organic High Mountain Bi Luo Chun Yunnan Green Tea Spring 2015

High altitude green tea grown in the mountains of Dali Prefecture of Yunnan. This tea is processed in the traditional method of Bi Luo Chun. It is rolled and heat-dried by hand in a wok.

YS_certified_organic_high_mountain_bi_luo_chun_yunnan_green_tea_spring_2015_leafThe first tea in the jade monthly box is this Bi Luo Chun from Yunnan. I really like Bi Luo Chun teas, but it depends on where they are grown. Yunnan greens have a smoky, rubbery smell to them that I generally dislike, and, sadly, this tea is no exception.

The leaves of this tea are dark green-brown curled nuggets with a thick, vegetal scent that, in addition to the smoke/rubber note I mentioned above, smells somewhat roasted. In fact, it reminds me rather of an oolong than a green tea. Interesting.

I steeped 1.5 tsp of dry leaf in a 12oz mug with 85°C water for 2 minutes. The resulting brew was a pale orange-yellow and smelled similarly to the dry leaf — roasty, somewhat vegetal, but still smoky.

The tea tasted similarly — roasty and vegetal, with a lingering grassy aftertaste reminiscent of barley. For me, a really good Bi Luo Chun should be vegetal and buttery but also sweet. There are some I’ve had that tasted like honey, or had a natural sweetness upon the second steeping; I found no sweetness here, unfortunately. However, if you shift your conceptions and think of this as a lightly-roasted oolong, it’s not that bad!

You can buy Certified Organic High Mountain Bi Luo Chun Yunnan Green Tea Spring 2015 here.

Spring 2015 Imperial Tie Guan Yin of Anxi Oolong Tea of Fujian

This is the highest grade of Tie Guan Yin normally available. Picked in a small window of just 2 days during the spring and autumn harvest and hand-processed in small batches to achieve a high level of aroma and full Guan Yin taste! Also known as AAA Grade!

YS_imperial_tie_guan_yin_of_anxi_oolong_fujian_spring_2015_leafI’ve never considered myself a big fan of green oolongs, but if I keep on tasting teas like this, I may be a convert.

The dry leaf of this tea looks exquisite: beautiful, dark emerald green nuggets. It smells exquisite, too: lovely, floral, creamy, and fresh. You can really tell that this tea was harvested only a few months ago. Normally the floralness of green oolongs turn me off because they have a weird sort of astringency to them, but this tea is mild and light.

I brewed 1.5 tsp of the dry leaf in a 12oz mug with 90°C water for 2 minutes. The resulting liquor was pale yellow and redolent of flowers and cream. The brewed leaves unfurled into dark green crinkles that remind me of spinach. And the taste? Smooth, balanced, gentle, and floral, like I’ve got a dream in my mouth.

This has to have been one of the best teas I’ve had in ages. I couldn’t stop talking about it for at least a day afterward! So delicate, yet so smooth; intensely flavourful, but not in an obnoxious way. It’s a tea that makes me think of quiet confidence and skill. Seriously, it’s good!

You can buy Spring 2015 Imperial Tie Guan Yin of Anxi Oolong Tea of Fujian here.

Phoenix Village “Da Wu Ye” Dan Cong Oolong Tea Spring 2015

“Da Wu Ye” known as Big Black Leaf grows almost exclusively in Phoenix Village in the Wu Dong Mountains of Guangdong. Da Wu Ye is a medium leaf varietal and natural hybrid of local “Ya Shi Xiang” bushes and “Shui Xian” varietal.

YS_phoenix_village_da_wu_ye_dan_cong_oolong_spring_2015_wet_leafThe dry leaf of this tea was long, spindly and dark brown, like little twigs or spider legs, and had a lovely autumnal, roasty smell like corn or barley. Unlike the other two teas in this box, I decided to steep it multiple times in a gaiwan rather than do a single western-style steep. I did a 5-second rinse with 90°C water, then 5 steeps of increasing length, starting at 15 seconds and ending at 30 seconds.

The tea from the first steep was amber like beer and had a thick, soupy mouthfeel with a grassy aftertaste. I think I also smelled some orchid in the cup. The aftertaste was sharp, slightly bitter, and had a fresh greenness at its heart, like the inner flesh of a plant’s stem.

The second steep tasted and looked very similar to the first, although it added some astringency that wasn’t there before. The third steep was 20 seconds, and at the front of the first sip I tasted a sweetness that reminded me of smoke, molasses, and baked beans. Weird, but cool!

In contrast to the previous steeps, the fourth steep produced tea that was a deep buttercup yellow in colour, and it had a mineral  note to it, as well as a tartness that reminded me of chewing on the skin of fresh plums. The mineral taste made another appearance in the fifth and final steep, and so did that molasses/baked beans flavour from the third steep. Interesting! I’d love to try similar oolongs in the future.

You can buy Phoenix Village “Da Wu Ye” Dan Cong Oolong Tea Spring 2015 here.


I could take or leave the Bi Luo Chun, but I did enjoy the Dan Cong oolong once I had a chance to play with it. However, the clear winner was the Anxi Tie Guan Yin oolong. That shit was literally redemptive. I’d buy more of it in a heartbeat, though I’m worried it will have spoiled me for other green oolongs!

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